A Reaction Paper On The Documentary Miss Representation

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This 2011 documentary observes the ways in which the current mainstream media has contributed to the diminishment of women in powerful and/or public positions. It includes in-depth interviews with Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Condoleezza Rice, and Gloria Steinem. More importantly, in my opinion, it also takes the time to talk with ordinary women living ordinary lives, with diverse backgrounds and ages. There are earnest attempts to show why there should be more positive female role models in the media. As well as exploring the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America and challenges the current media’s limited portrayal of what it means to be a strong AND positive woman.

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The film made several points about how important media and visual representation is in our current era. Including several startling statistics such as “Today children and young adults watch more than 10 hours of media a day.” In today’s climate we have a 24 hour news cycle, there is something constantly going on or being shown in one way or another, in a hundred different formats; that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 52 weeks a year…that is a lot of information and influence being hammered into young and impressionable minds.

After making the case of how much media influences our daily lives, a few real world statistics were given that for me personally were staggering in amounts. Even adding in biases or skepticism, the idea that “About 65% of American women and girls have an eating disorder.” “The number of cosmetic surgery procedures performed on youth 18 or younger has more than tripled from 1997-2007.” Both of which are horrifying and should be for both the young girls and boys that are being directly influenced by a “perfect” culture image, of people that are not the average or the achievable.

We are currently living in a insular society where our popular media forms are becoming a persuasive and pervading influence affecting cultural norms. We are bombarded with the joint message that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth (ability to bear children), beauty (as defined by those who set the standards), and sexuality (is it isn’t interesting neither is she), and not in her capacity as a leader (regardless of her effectiveness). Women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, “the United States is still 33rd out of the 49 highest income countries when it comes to women in the national legislature. And it’s not better outside of government. Women make up only 4.6% of S&P 500 CEOs and 17% of directors, executive producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.”

In conclusion, there have been great strides made in the right direction. However, everyone must do their own part. Both men and women must stand up and be heard about wanting representation and wanting it done accurately. I felt the other and more important underlying message of the entire film, was not just about being “the lesser and unhappy about it” but more about, if you want change, Be The Change. As we continue in a society of constant stimulation, we are in a unique situation to be stop enforcing the bad and/or lazy habits of just accepting everything that is thrown at us. We can collectively stand up and take interest in our communities and entertainment. Support the causes and entertainment that empower all people. Not just hide our heads in the sand and hope it gets better. Be the generation that changes “that’s the way it’s always been.”

10 Jun 2021

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