Seite - 124 - in JRFM - Journal Religion Film Media, Band 02/02
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124 | Sofia Sjö www.jrfm.eu 2016, 2/2, 123–140 Scandinavian productions worth exploring from a religion and gender perspec- tive is not difficult. Religion is a fairly common theme in contemporary Scandi- navian cinema, and many of the films present memorable characters. Although religious characters in Scandinavian films are often gendered in quite traditional ways, there are also some notable exceptions. It is these very exceptions that I want to focus on here. I argue that, although it is common to represent a reli- gious character or characters in religious settings in quite stereotypical ways – underlining in a sense the view that religions affirm traditional, unequal gender roles – religion or religious themes can also be used to gender characters differ- ently by, for example, opening up spaces of agency and challenging simplistic ideas of gender. This is not a novel idea, but I find it to be an aspect worthy of more attention as it allows for a more complex view on the relationship be- tween religion and film. Here, I approach both religion and gender in film from a constructivist per- spective, as I am interested in how both gender and religion are “done” in films. Building on research into gender and popular culture,2 I explore how elements of religion are introduced, imagined and reimagined with the help of film lan- guage, narrative structures and genre conventions. I focus mainly on the con- struction of femininity and masculinity and argue that notions of gender are primarily developed when male and female characters are associated with each other or characters of the same gender are contrasted with each other. Bringing the questions of religion and gender together, I discuss how the construction of both gender and religion is interlocked in the films and analyze how religion is used to shape characters and characters are used to shape religion. Finally, I explore how these filmic processes and representations can be understood in the Scandinavian socio-religious context and what challenges to the theory of the mediatization of religion they highlight. Although I treat religion and gender as separate entities for the sake of the analysis here, I argue, as do many others,3 that gender and religion (and for that matter gender and film) must be understood as being interrelated. Reli- gion is deeply gendered, in film as well as in real life. Ideas about gender shape religious structures, beliefs and behaviors and can be argued to influence ideas about gender in society at large as well. However, saying that religion is gen- dered is not saying that there is just one way to understand the relationship be- tween gender and religion. There are more common ways of gendering religion in Scandinavian films, but also some fascinating alternatives. I will focus on the alternatives below, but also highlight some more common features. 2 Inness 2004; Buikema/Van der Tuin 2007; Gledhill 2012. 3 See for example King/Beattie 2005; Aune/Sharma/Vincett 2007.
JRFM Journal Religion Film Media, Band 02/02