“You can’t be what you can’t see” is an appropriate tagline for the film Miss Representation. The film offers a media literacy education using stories and interviews to enhance the impact of facts and statistics. One reviewer said “At the core of Miss Representation is the expression of the need for enhanced media literacy in our culture, especially now, when we are constantly bombarded with screens and images and advertising wherever we go.
For this assignment, I want you to CHOOSE ONE of the following prompts.
You are required to provide a minimum of three sources to back up your argument. You will need to use at least one review of the film and two scholarly resources (from peer reviewed journals or scholarly books). (Nothing from Wikipedia or mass produced magazines or online magazines.)
1) “Girls get the message from very early on that what’s most important is how they look, that their value, their worth, depends on that,” says feminist writer Jean Kilbourne at the beginning of the documentary. “And boys get the message that this is what’s important about girls. We get it from advertising. We get it from films. We get it from television shows, video games, everywhere we look. So, no matter what else a woman does, no matter what else her achievements, their value still depends on how they look.”
Do you agree or disagree with Jean Kilbourne? Why or why not? Can you give any examples from your own experience where you felt as if media has influenced your belief system? Can you offer any examples from popular culture (TV, video games, film, radio) where you have seen this phenomena occurring?
2) According to Caroline Heldman, women who self-objectify are far less likely to believe that their voice matters in politics and therefore less likely to run for office. The documentary also looks at how important it is to see empowering representations of women in the media. ”Having this opportunity to see women, to see women leadership, to see woman’s leadership in reality and on the screen and in the television is huge for women… huge,” says Marie Wilson, founder of The White House Project. Of course, many of the representations we see in the mainstream media are extremely limiting. Most mainstream films are about the lives of men. Even romantic comedies – which sell themselves as movies about women – revolve around the lives of a man.
Do you agree with Heldman and Wilson? Why or why not? What have you noticed about how women are portrayed in TV and film? What examples can you use to illustrate this idea that mainstream films, as well as television shows, tend to be male-centric?
3) Miss Representation suggests that one of the reasons there are so few empowering representations of women in the media is because media organizations are largely run by men. ”It’s extremely important for women to be writing their own stories, truly crafting those stories, writing them down directing them, and giving them to people to really emotionally become impacted by,” said Rosario Dawson.
Do you agree that women should be writing their own stories? Why or why not? What is the impact on popular culture, women’s self esteem and men’s perspective of women when men are largely the ones writing and producing narratives about women? Make sure that you use examples to back up your claim.