10. Scopophilia and the Manufacture of “Good” Religion

Hijacked - A Critical Treatment of the Public Rhetoric of Good and Bad Religion - Leslie Dorrough Smith

Leslie Dorrough Smith [+-]
Avila University
Leslie Dorrough Smith is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Avila University (Kansas City, MO), where she is also the Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. She is the author of Righteous Rhetoric: Sex, Speech, and the Politics of Concerned Women for America (Oxford, 2014) and is working on a manuscript on the social significance of political sex scandals in the United States. Her research interests focus on American conservative Protestants, critical theory, and the use of method and theory in both religious studies and gender studies.


This essay analyses Believer by drawing on the work of feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey. In the 1970s, Mulvey used the term “scopophilia” to describe how filmmakers construct visually pleasing experiences for heterosexual men by framing images of women in certain ways that result in their sexual objectification. After an introduction to Mulvey’s core arguments, this perspective is applied to Aslan’s production. The essay argues that part of the scopophilia involved in watching shows like Believer (and people like Aslan, more specifically) comes not from being exposed to something new, but in the feelings of control and domestication that the audience can vicariously assert as they imagine Aslan as the show’s protagonist.

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Smith, Leslie. 10. Scopophilia and the Manufacture of “Good” Religion. Hijacked - A Critical Treatment of the Public Rhetoric of Good and Bad Religion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Jul 2020. ISBN 9781781797273. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=35424. Date accessed: 23 Jan 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.35424. Jul 2020

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