On October 20th at 9/8c the OWN network will be airing a documentary you *all* need to watch called Miss Representation.
The subject matter is simple - the way media represents women is fucking up women. You may be thinking "I knew that already." You know, I "knew that already" too, but it wasn't until I watched this doc that the facts really connected with me on a deeper level. I walked out of the theater immediately more aware, as if I got plugged in to a computer, Matrix style, and caring about the role of women in media was downloaded as something I would become both knowledgeable and passionate about.
I like how Dan Fienberg over at Hitfix describes what issue the film deals with best,
The treatment of women in popular culture and the mass media is disgraceful and due to the perpetual objectification of women and due to particularly heinous treatment of women in leadership roles, a vicious cycle is created, denying young girls of aspirational figures outside of certain hyper-sexualized molds and perpetuating damaging social norms through the generations.
The film was made by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, former actress and current wife to Lt Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, who makes an appearance in the film. And sure, it can be didactic and a little too personal in an off topic kind of way at times - it's not perfect, by any means, but the message is strong and gets across in a clear and concise way. The biggest idea I took away from it was that media literacy should be taught in schools right alongside book analysis. The more young girls can understand what they are seeing and gain insight into the filmmakers motivations, the easier they can dissect it as a piece of fiction and prevent themselves from making unhealthy comparisons.
No matter your gender, I highly encourage watching this doc and showing your daughters, your sons, your husbands, your wives, your neighbors, your friends, and of course anyone in a position to bring it to wider audiences, whether in the classroom or at a movie theater. While I definitely think multiple strides have been taken in the representation of women on television with more and more strong and secure female leads popping up every year, we have a long way to go in many other areas.
So please, for yourself, for me, for Newsom and everyone featured in her documentary (Which include Katie Couric, Rosario Dawson, Rachel Maddow, Paul Haggis, Nancy Pelosi, Margaret Cho, Condoleeza Rice, Catherine Hardwicke, Dianne Feinstein, Gavin Newsom, Geena Davis, Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and Lisa Ling) and for the future, watch Miss Representaion on OWN October 20th. If you'd like to see in theaters, the Paley Center is holding a screening in NYC Oct 14th with director Newsom in person, and in Los Angeles Oct 17th. To organize your own screening, head here.