Why go to the theatre or the cinema at all? Why watch representations of things and events which are often of a distressing nature? What is the allure of the seemingly unpleasurable? Tim O'Sullivan et al. observe that
The relation between language and the unconscious has been shown to be one of the determinants of pleasure - even in such apparently desexualized activities as watching television or cinema (especially the latter) there is an element of voyeurism from which the pleasure may derive. But such pleasure is also textual, a product of the relation between the viewer and the text's specific representations.
Metz observes that the visual and auditory drives have a special relationship with the absence of their object because, as opposed to other sexual drives, the 'perceiving drive' (combining the scopic and the invocatory drives) 'concretely represents the absence of its object in the distance at which it maintains it and which is part of its very definition: distance of the look, distance of listening' (1990:59).
There are a number of models available, particularly if the discussion extends to an exploration of the theatric or cinematic gaze; the purpose of this project, however, is to move towards an account of the pleasure of the spectator within Freudian and Lacanian models. These offer some account of the pleasure to be found in representations in fantasy of events which, in reality, would be experienced as unpleasurable.
Was this article helpful?