Kennedy McCann W11 Stranger by the Lake

Once again, I have not seen the film for this week so I will discuss another one that I happened upon in the readings. In Ruby Rich’s article, she mentions Johnathan Glazer’s Under the Skin. I think this is such a great example of the Robinson’s passing and gender performativity. Scarlett Johansson plays an alien who adorns a human body suit in order to pass in the human world and to sexually lure men to their peril in order to fulfill her duty to her kind. She passes decently by playing on typical female stereotypes, like asking men travel directions to pretend that she’s lost in order to get their attention. However, she fails to pass during two real sexual instances. The first is when she tries to actually engage in sex with a man but when he goes to penetrate her, she frightfully jumps out of bed and holds a lamp between her legs to inspect whatever is down there (it is a mystery to everyone involved). Her inability to conform to her supposed gender in the simplest way one can (by using what makes us sexually/anatomically different) can perhaps be interpreted as a message Glazer and Johansson are trying to impart to their audience about female sexuality (it could not have been a coincidence that the sex symbol of the day accepted and plays this role). The second scene is when a man tries to rape her and she does not want to submit, ultimately shedding her deceptive skin and failing her pass in order to escape his sexual aggression. His first encounter with her mirrors her encounters with the innocent men she victimized, he asks the same questions and tries to engage with her in order to gain her trust. This flipping of gender roles still leaves me baffled to the meaning and I feel like this film would be a very good discussion topic for queer cinema. I always wonder why it was only men that she could lure into her “lair” to recycle their skin. Surely, there is a method she could have used to lure women too. If she did lure a woman, what could be interpreted of that?

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