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[Latin spectaculum ‘public show’]

1. A public performance, media event, or epic film produced on a grand scale and with impressive visual effects.

2. For Mulvey, one of the two primary formal components of mainstream film, the other being action (see narrative flow). Spectacle is a freezing of the flow of action, frequently featuring the erotic depiction of ‘woman as image’ by the objectifying male gaze.

3. For the French philosopher Guy Debord (1931–94), writing in the 1960s, the ‘society of the spectacle’ is a cultural obsession with appearances and the image: mass consumption and electronic media have created a society of spectators and inauthentic experience: compare aestheticization; hyperreality.

Subjects: Performing artsTheatre

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