Title

Contentious Practices of Postfeminist Audiencing: Online Discourse About Cinematic Feminisms in Birds of Prey

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-5-2021

Abstract

In this paper, we examine online audience discourse surrounding the superhero film Birds of Prey, a new addition to the wave of female-centric films within the genre. Numerous studies have focused on the gendered industry politics surrounding the production of such films, as well as their representations of women and women’s narratives. This study turns to the film’s audience on Twitter, understanding their negotiation of cinematic feminisms through the conceptual lens of postfeminism. Through a mixed methods analysis of public tweets, we unpack how the film facilitates contentious practices of postfeminist audiencing. We argue that audience discussions surrounding the film are organized around overlapping frames of feminist affirmation and cinematic politicisation. These dual discursive processes of postfeminist media consumption comprise audience constructions of Birds of Prey’s feminism as raging, calibrated, overbearing, or immaterial. Taken together, these constructions of cinematic feminism depart from dichotomous views of postfeminist advances in media representation encountering misogynistic backlash. Instead, we observe a multipolar discursive landscape in which audiences may perform diverse forms of postfeminist and anti-feminist solidarity and conflict. However, we also underscore that these diverse appraisals remain circumscribed within overarching neoliberal logics which tie commercial value to collective performances of gendered subjectivities.

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