A Reflection On Miss Representation Documentary Film

A famous actor, Will Rogers said, “We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.” Even in this 21st century- the one major problem we struggle with is ‘inequality’. If your question is why then I highly recommend you watch the documentary, “Miss Representation”, directed and produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. This film looks at the media’s impact on the American stance of women’s bodies, women in power and the effect of internalization of being sold the same standards of what women should be, year after year. It further argues how leadership skills and cerebral knowledge is more important than a woman’s physical attractiveness. the documentary achieves the purpose through the use of editing, sound, graphics and personal interviews.

If you observe how the title is presented, you will see ‘Miss’ was italicized in red while ‘representation’ was in normal white color. In some cultures, red is a feminine color. So, from the very beginning, the filmmaker was hinting towards the femininity of the topic. It also focused on the incorrect representation of women. Additionally, the facts and statistics were shown in alarming shots. There was an excellent illustration worth mentioning. The director presented several media companies and the number of posts women are employed in. This scene showed how we are completely ignoring the point of view of more than half of our population. The stats made the arguments in the film stronger. I think the producer presented the ‘ethos’ and ‘logos’ quite successfully.

Did you notice how the director used the sounds in the background? I am talking about both diegetic and non-diegetic sound. For instance, the documentary started with thunderous sound and a bold quote. The notion was just enough to grab the attention of viewers and to establish the seriousness of the topic. Throughout the documentary, the director used alarming noises to match the concerning topic. The editor incorporated powerful choice of music and visuals. For instance, the film started with a song ‘Help I am alive’. The purpose of this song in this film is to enlighten that a woman does not only survive to take criticisms about her body, she is alive and has her emotions. Another significant usage of bold music was when the director devised “I want it all” song in the scene where the all achievements of women were shown. The song really made a strong point by representing the brighter perspective. One more observation worth stating is all the videos, statistics and newspaper headlines were muted. This tells us to emphasize more on the evidence than on the music or dialogue. Nevertheless, in some places, the background music overpowered the narrator’s voice. I, personally, did not like how the narrator's voice sounded as it sounded very robotic or automated. It interrupts the connection between viewer and narrator and doesn't serve the film’s motive fairly.

Moving on to the graphics and cinematography of the film, the film had great shots. There are lots of information that the film conveys without direct dialogues and action. For instance, the presentation of new headlines. Each headline has distinct significance. The camera man tried to show the director’s arguments by deep focusing on the news headlines and the banners giving a chance to viewers to read. This provides stronger evidence to support the ideas of this film. Throughout the film there were many parallel editing. Usually in movies, director uses parallel editing to establish two simultaneous actions. The editor used parallel editing to state a point followed by a personal opinion of a specialist. Like how Jenifer Pozner was explaining about loud punditry and concurrently shots on different news channel were presented. There were few brilliant close up and extreme zoom shots. One of those were when newspaper headlines of rape crimes were shown. The effect of ‘hip-hop montage’ and ‘extreme zoom’ highlighted the depth of the crime. The setting of this documentary or any documentary is designed like an interview where a person shares her personal verdict. The settings were consistent however the shots changed. There were few jump cuts and long shots. At last, there were few quotations from different perspectives of both the feminist and the anti. The astonishing verdicts of male speakers worked parallelly with the concept of the film. It only made the film more relevant and stronger.

In a society where the media is the most influential force determining cultural norms, the message we receive in this 21st century is how the ‘Kardashian’ hourglass is more important than the ‘Hillary Clinton’ leadership skills. The scene where a teenage girl was talking about her young sister harming herself because of the body shaming she receives was absolutely sickening. This essence of pathos was very alarming yet relatable. The film reveals an obvious reality we live with every day but fail to see – how the media’s limited and often disapproving portrayals of women makes it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions. There were many examples to show the point. For instance, the film shows different point of views of different news reporters and many politicians. For me, the view of Jennifer L. Lawless really struck me. It really showed the extent to which a woman gets judged. There were other similar examples about how a woman’s length of skirt justifies whether she is a good news reporter or not. The cinematic shots from different news broadcast focused on different concerning topics. Like how Hillary Clinton tearing made a news headline while another male politician doing the same was overlooked. There were more arguments on Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin to show the contrasting point of view. Like how it is said Hillary Clinton dresses ‘like a man’ and on the other hand Sarah Palin wears ‘short skirts’. People had problems with both of their dressing style while they completely oversee their qualifications. In fact, some newspaper companies don’t even acknowledge the fact that Hillary Clinton was a state secretary and often addresses her as ‘MRS. CLINTON’. Addressing someone’s spouse as “Mrs.” is certainly not a crime but she had her set of qualifications which was completely disregarded.

To sum up this film was successful enough to touch me. Simply because I am a woman and I want to be a leader. I am tired of the beauty stigmas and I want to see a change in that. I want to see a change in news headlines. I don’t want to see a celebrity being questioned about her pregnancy just because of her bloated stomach from a bagel. I don’t want to see news reporters sexualizing women in power. I don’t want to see anyone sexualizing someone. I don’t want my kids to buy a certain commodity because a certain gender is promoting it. I do want gender equality in this 21st century. 

10 Jun 2021
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