Arts & Culture Editor
The average American teen consumes 10 hours and forty-five minutes of media content a day. The documentary film Miss Representation brings to light how terrible the media treats women and the negative effect that it has on young women. Some of the information you have heard before, but most of the movie is eye opening.
Women in the media are misrepresented, hence the title Miss Representation. The film was shown on March 1st at 7:30 p.m. in the in Steinman Hall at the Ware Center.
The film features interviews with teens who deal with these issues everyday along with interviews from powerful women such as Condoleezza Rice, Lisa Ling, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, and Rosario Dawson. They discuss the issues along with problems that they have deal with in their fields.
The rates of depression in teen girls has doubled from 2000-2010. Women are viewed as objects in media for the men to ogle. They shown images that make it seem that sex appeal is the most important attribute a woman can have. An early scene showed an average looking woman without any makeup and then sped up time to show how much of a process it is for a photoshoot. These models have makeup caked on, and then have their done. Even with time sped up it took a while for the transformation to be completed. Then the picture was altered digitally. Her eyes and nose were “fixed” up along with her hair. People probably would have trouble seeing the resemblance between the women in the ad and the woman that posed for it. You would think that most people would know that these images are altered, but do kids know? Even at a young age, children are picking up on the content that surrounds them. Subconsciously these images are becoming ingrained in their heads.
Much of the film centered around women in politics and how hard it was for them to make their way up. Studies have shown that both genders say that they want to be president when they are in elementary school. When they get into their teens, their is a significant dropoff from the young women. They look at the current state of politics and have very few women to look up to. Women make up 51% of the population, yet occupy 17% of congress. It may be easy to laugh at a Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin joke, but at one point the movie there was a montage of news anchors and radio hosts making sexist jokes. The montage went long, and it was disturbing. These were not attacks about the politics that these women practiced, but attacks against them because they are women. Bill O’Riley asked a man what the problems would be with a woman as president. He responded “You mean besides the PMSing and mood swings.”
Only 16% of females in movies are protagonists. When they are the main characters they are often romantic comedies where they are clamoring after a man. Even in movies where they are strong and powerful action stars women are often sexualized to fit a male fantasy.
Katie Couric talked about her she was attacked when she first started. Again, the attacks were against her appearance and her clothing rather than her content. Rachel Maddow deals with the same problems as she still receives hate from people who call her ugly. These two women remain professionals through all this and it is amazing that they can continue to do their job at such a high level.
The movie brought out great points about our media, but at times it stayed away from certain issues. Reality TV is brought up as being harmful to women because they are fight and scheme against each other and are generally stupid. The same could be said of the men on reality TV, and most people know exactly what they are watching. One woman mentions that her show may have gotten cancelled because she was fat, and it was replaced by The Drew Carey Show. She says that Drew Carey was fat in the show, implying that there were double standards, yet one of the show’s leading female characters was also quite large.
Documentaries can make you see exactly what they want you to see and nothing else. It always helps to do some more research and form an opinion on your own. If this film does any good, it provides awareness to people. Growing up is hard enough without the media putting more pressure on you. A young woman should be told that she should be able to do whatever she wants, because the media will not say that same.