Saka and the abject

Masculine dominance, the mother and contemporary Malay horror films

Jamaluddin Aziz, Azlina Bt Asaari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Malay horror films have made a comeback since the government of Malaysia in 2004 gradually relaxed the ban. Since then, Malaysian cinema has been flooded with horror films, and this causes concern among politicians as they argue that horror films can impede the growth of the mind, as the values perpetuated by horror films are seen to go against the government’s effort to promote scientific and critical thinking among Malaysians. We argue that understanding the current view that consigns this film genre to the feminine side of the binary system, hence, the irrational as opposed to the rational or masculine, is one of the reasons for such concern. Employing Julia Kristeva’s concept of abjection in the tradition of feminist psychoanalysis as the theoretical framework, this paper looks at the mother character and her relationship with Saka in a contemporary Malay horror film to reveal the ideological work of such masculine ideology. Saka is a mystical figure that is “invited” into a family and is passed down through the matrilineal line from one generation to the next. We argue that even though Saka is used as an entrapment for female liberatory possibilities, it ironically mirrors the destabilization of masculine dominance. We do this by illustrating how female characters in the genre are typecast and Saka functions as a masculine substitute that reinforces this idea, which ultimately is used to investigate female sexuality; hence, playing the typical role of masculine ideological dominance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-92
Number of pages22
JournalAsian Journal of Women's Studies
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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horror film
genre
psychoanalytic theory
ban
cinema
Malaysia
politician
sexuality
ideology
cause
Values

Keywords

  • Abjection
  • Malay horror films
  • Masculine dominance
  • Saka
  • The mother

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies

Cite this

Saka and the abject : Masculine dominance, the mother and contemporary Malay horror films. / Aziz, Jamaluddin; Asaari, Azlina Bt.

In: Asian Journal of Women's Studies, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2014, p. 71-92.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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