Fetishism shown in Blue Velvet and Dirty Pretty Things

Modified: 8th Feb 2020
Wordcount: 1764 words

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Fetishism has been researched for decades to create some understanding of the logic behind this obsession. The concept of fetishism is shown in the films Blue Velvet and Dirty Pretty Things. Both films show specific scenes relating to fetishism that highlight the issue in different ways.

Fetishism has been discovered and studied for decades. Throughout the years, different theories of fetishism have appeared. Two main contributors are Freud and Marx. For the purpose of discussing the logic of fetishism I will be focusing on these two people and their theories in reference to the two movies Blue Velvet and Dirty Pretty Things.

Fetishism is a small part of the psychological processes of the mind. It’s about having an unconscious obsession to objects. When the word ‘fetish’ is mentioned a lot of people would think of body fetishes like the feet. Sexual fantasies are created involving a specific inanimate object or uncommon body parts (Bass, 2015). Some people need the object of their obsession to become sexually aroused. It has been researched that it can stem from psychological causes that centre around fears of inadequacy to childhood abuse and more. Treatments are available for people to help suppress this desire.

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Blue Velvet is about a college student, Jeffery, who returns to his hometown to see his sick father. On the way home from the hospital he finds a decapitated ear. This begins his journey of becoming obsessed with the finding the criminal that committed this crime. Along the way we come across a character called Frank who I will be focusing on.

The way we are introduced to Frank is through his ‘rape’ scene with Dorothy. This scene clearly depicts his fetish of blue velvet. It looks like he specifically tells Dorothy to wear it as after she talks to him on the phone. He looks at Dorothy’s genitals while saying ‘mommy’. This supports Freud’s theory of fetishism that a Frank is affected by the lack of phallus with his mother. After the kid has mentioned his observation of his mother, he has protected unaltered his conviction that ladies have a phallus. He has held that conviction, however he has likewise surrendered it. In the contention between the heaviness of the unwelcome recognition and the power of his counter-wish, a trade-off has been come to, as is just conceivable under the predominance of the oblivious laws of thought – the essential procedures. Truly, in his mind she has a penis, regardless of everything; except this penis is not any more the equivalent as it was previously. Something different has had its spot, has been designated its substitute, so to speak, and now acquires the intrigue which was once in the past coordinated to its ancestor. However, this intrigue endures a phenomenal increment also in light of the fact that the loathsomeness of emasculation has set up a dedication to itself in the production of this substitute. Moreover, a revolution, or, in other words in any fetishist, to the genuine female private parts remains a shame permanent of the suppression that has occurred. We would now be able to perceive what the obsession accomplishes and what it is that looks after it. It remains a token of triumph over the risk of maiming and a security against it. It additionally spares the fetishist from turning into a gay, by blessing ladies with the trademark which makes them passable as sexual articles. In later life, the fetishist feels that he appreciates one more favourable position from his substitute for a genital. In Frank’s case, blue velvet would be his substitute. Frank rips a piece of Dorothy’s robe which is blue velvet and stuffs it in his mouth, with this it shows that he experiences enjoyment from this object. 

The usage of blackmailing allows Frank to use Dorothy as an object to fulfil his fantasy. Frank shows an insatiable desire to escape which can be seen by him using the unknown gas which brings out a side which highlights his fetish of blue velvet and his mother. Finding external sources to achieve his desire which can briefly cause satisfaction but in reality, his fantasy cannot be fulfilled. He is trying to fill an absence that has developed through childhood.  

The two kinds of obsession, Marxist and Freudian, is particularly proper in its application to Dirty Pretty Things, which fuses and gathers the two fetishisms. In the Marxist obsession, capitalism neglects to give the proper estimation of work or production to its item, the product (commodity). In the Freudian obsession, the need connoted by the mother’s genitalia (saw as emasculated by the male subject), is repudiated through the development of an interest that replaces the mother’s missing phallus. Both are available and covered in the film, where the production of the screen signifier is veiled by exhibition, and the need implied by sexual distinction is denied through the fetishization of the female star’s body through close-ups and costuming.

In Dirty Pretty Things, Okwe denies the way that the lawful and medical frameworks he endeavours to obey debilitate and discharge him and Senay from the country state. Okwe must emasculate and suture Juan inside the effectively settled, degenerate arrangement of substantial commodification, with the end goal to shield himself and Senay from further misfortune. This plot point restrains the capacity of the film in uncovering and affecting change in the critical circumstances of illicit foreigners and those denied by globalization. Rather, by adjusting to the formal traditions of conclusion and change in Hollywood films, Dirty Pretty Things shows up nearly complicit with globalized private enterprise. The content makes a fiction in finding, yet mixed, enhancements in the circumstances of its heroes by means of their fortunes and inventiveness: they are depicted as sufficiently creative to end up specialists of their own change and situational enhancement. This move covers the genuine material encounters of those supposed “illicit” people in the U.K. with the end goal to fulfill the requests of a traditional account.

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Like suture, the fixation serves to cover over something undermining – for the most part the dread of emasculation – to the subject’s personality. Both the Marxist and the Freudian fixations are grinding away in Dirty Pretty Things. The Freudian interest veils need, and the Marxist item obsession repudiates the labourer’s labour. Juan discloses to Okwe that the inn business is about outsiders, who come in the night to do filthy things. After Senay hits an arrangement with Juan to engage in sexual relations with him and exchange one of her kidneys for an international ID, he gives her a room at the inn. Juan and the lodging make an extravagant facade to cover need: seamy business dealings in the trafficking of real organs, whose commodification is the aftereffect of free enterprise, instead of the individual activities of a pioneer like Juan, who additionally happens to be a foreigner. The offer of their inward organs is so appealing to unlawful outsiders due to the way the country state fetishizes authoritative archives: international IDs, visas, and so forth. Authoritative reports come to be exaggerated by the outsider and the state to reduce the nervousness created by the non-native.

The attractive quality of authoritative archives reifies citizenship and denies its phony as a status built by the state, to the state’s advantage, and with little respect for its consequences for the bodies it rejects or the cost paid by a few bodies with the end goal to be incorporated. In Dirty Pretty Things, non-renewable organs ensnare both the Marxist and the Freudian obsessions. Scheper-Hughes composes that activists see contracts for the expulsion of non-renewable organs as untrustworthy on account of the lasting harm done to the benefactors’ bodies and the relevant disparity in which such arrangements are made. The non-renewable organ as blessing comes to be fetishized the same amount of as the sustainable organ as item, just the talk of disavowal goes further. By making the offer of a non-renewable organ unlawful instead of endeavouring through the market to attribute an incentive to it, in an incomparable repudiation, the law neglects to join the estimation of the benefactor’s work/forfeit to the transplanted organ by any stretch of the imagination. The possibility of the organ as blessing in this way goes amiss from the Marxist ware. At the point when the blessing turns into a ware, as in Dirty Pretty Things, it ends up harder to deny the work engaged with the exchange. This ware subverts globalized private enterprise and uncovered the country state as permeable. It does this by coordinating the probably inassimilable body of the illicit into the country state in two different ways: 1) through her or his organ, which has been transplanted into the body of a native, and 2) through her or his procurement of personality papers. On the off chance that the commodification of the body’s organs is inalienably wrong, the country state must consider the misleading quality of its more disconnected procedures of commodification that conceal the labourer’s body. So also, the Freudian fetish rises in the injury left by organ expulsion, a representative mutilation. The injury requires not just exacting join for recuperating and concealing the maiming, however another type of suture: the social repudiation of organ trafficking, an encapsulated type of distinction. This servile misfortune initially connoted distinction as far as this present individual’s lawful status instead of sexual contrast, thus it must be covered up all together for the giver body, an illicit settler, to legitimize her or himself in connection to the country state.

Both of these films were able to showcase two of the theories presented by Freud and Marx and the various ways the film scenes depicted this. Overall, fetishism has been different forms. To be able to understand the logic of it all, many theories need to be analysed.


  • Bass, A. (2015). On the History of Fetishism: De Brosses and Comte. The Undecided Unconcious: A Journal of Deconstruction and Psychoanalysis, 2, 19-45.


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