Injecting Queer Femme Rage into "Audition"
Viewed from a male gaze, Asami Yamazaki from Takashi Miike’s Audition is a truly terrifying horror: a seemingly perfect woman who mysteriously tortures the man who wants to marry her. But let’s saw away the male gaze and recognize the true villain of the film: the heterosexual patriarchy which demands these “perfect” women, and expect them to appear for the consumption of men at will.
The plot of Audition is a simple one: Widower Shigeharu Aoyama is in need of a new wife. Encouraged by his teenaged son and film producer friend, an audition is organized to locate the perfect one. The women are not told they are not auditioning for a movie, but their references are checked, anyway.
The fantastic thing about being queer and femme is that you exist for and to fill a role that cis men expect. Your romantic moments with femme partners must be to their specifications for voyeuristic enjoyment. You must be available to and open to threesomes. Fulfilling traditionally female roles is expected as a baseline, and any other aspects must be in addition to and not compete with their expectations of you. Audition is not about queer femme identity per se, but the monster in this movie takes on new meaning when that’s your place in the world.
By far the most affecting scene in the film is not one of abject torture: instead it portrays Asami, our perfect woman, waiting patiently for her new beau to call her. The timing is unclear in the film, but Wikipedia helpfully lets us know she has been sitting for four days in a room completely empty but for the phone and a sometimes shifting, deviously lumpy bag.
Asami has no life beyond her partner’s affection for her, but even in that, she is not demanding of their time nor does she complain about neglect. Available for them whenever they desire, and without emotional or social requirements, this is the girlfriend every het guy expects when he doesn’t text for 2 days, but hits you with the ever tantalizing “you up?” just when you forgot they existed. She does request they love only her and takes matters into her own hands when they fail, but bitches are soooo obsessive.
Does it piss me off? Yes. Is it satisfying to finally see a literal translation of what cishetmen expect from women they date? It is so, so good.
You see very little of the most torturous parts of the penultimate, infamous scene: penetration instead plays out in the reactions of Asami’s victim. Even as Asami takes action we cannot shake the gaze as male. As a torturer goes, Asami remains true to her expected feminine training to the end. Intent on keeping a clean house, she covers the white carpet and does not stain her perfectly pressed and presumably carefully selected white dress.
There is likely some subtext to the leather apron and the torturing taking place in a cozy domestic setting, but sometimes you instead have to focus on a ladies’ excellent wire sawing technique. Femmes are so versatile! I hope you enjoy rewatching Audition as a literal interpretation of heterosexual dating.
I’ll just be waiting for you to call to hear all about it. Don’t mind the bag, it will quiet down soon.
Josephine is a writer and author living above a noodle shop in Chicago, IL. She wishes there was less fodder for horror these days.
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