From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Voyeurism is a practice in which an individual derives sexual pleasure from observing other people. Such people may be engaged in sexual acts, or be nude or in underwear, or dressed in whatever other way the "voyeur" finds appealing. The word derives from French verb voir (to see) with the -eur suffix that translates as -er in English. A literal translation would then be “seer” or "observer", with pejorative connotations.
Also, the word voyeur can define someone who receives enjoyment from witnessing other people's suffering or misfortune; see schadenfreude.
Voyeurism in fiction
- Voyeurism is something of a clichéd plot device in cinematic fiction, for instance in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. Other examples include Fame and Porky's. Voyeurism is also shown for a brief period in other films, such as Amélie.
- Voyeurism was the main subject of the 1991 book (and its 1993 film adaptation) Sliver, where the owner of an apartment tower used a video surveillance system to spy on his tenants, often (but not always) for sexual gratification.
- A serious psychological treatment of the topic in cinema was done in Peeping Tom.
- The novel The Voyeur by Alberto Moravia deals with voyeurism in literature.
Examples in art
- Artist and Model in the Studio by Albrecht Dürer
- Venus (or a Nymph) Spied On by Satyrs (c. 1627) by Nicolas Poussin
- Jupiter and Antiope (c. 1715) by Antoine Watteau