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October 5, 2011 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Miss Representation is a film by Jen Siebel Newsom about the images, representations and media constructions that shape American society in a harmful way for women. It explores the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence that result. Shorter trailer here.

Airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network October 20th.
posted by cashman (18 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm so glad they're running this in Oprahland. They had it at Silverdocs this summer, but the ONLY showing of it was up against the ONLY scheduled showing of "The Interruptors."
posted by Linda_Holmes at 10:32 AM on October 5, 2011


Saw and liked the long version of the trailer this morning.

There's a lot of good documentary material like this being produced, and most of it never reaches a large audience. It's a good thing this film will.

The Media Education Foundation is a good place to find high-quality material on similar themes.
posted by namasaya at 10:46 AM on October 5, 2011


There's a lot of good documentary material like this being produced, and most of it never reaches a large audience.

I wonder if this is something that services like Netflix are especially good for -- if you can get the word out about a documentary, people can see it via some service (or, heavens forbid, through a library) instead of having to deal with the economics of commercial viewing. Plus, I don't know about you guys, but I am much more likely to want to stop and go back when watching documentaries than I am in narrative films, so home viewing is more convenient anyway.

It looks good.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:10 AM on October 5, 2011


Cognitive dissonance indeed. I've recently been inundated with stories about men falling behind. Men play video games all day, while female enrolment in University in general and professional schools in particular far outpaces that of males. Which crisis is more important? (As a father of a thirteen-year-old girl, this is of some importance to me.)

My gut feeling is that my daughter, who seems to judge these things as objectively as she can be expected to, is going to be okay. With my help, you can count on it.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 11:15 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The editting on the eight minute trailer is excellent. And I think all of the points are very valid.

That said, there were two historical things that jumped out at me.

The first was about how girls conceive of their own value in terms of how they look - very true, but I don't think this is new. I was just thinking of how in Anne of Green Gables (published in 1908, set in c1880-1890), Anne's self esteem (or lack there of) revolves heavily around her hair colour and how skinny she is. Her dreams are of growing up to be beautiful. The message of the book/series is that she's a) already beautiful and b) more importantly, she's loving - but clearly the fixation with looks as the source of value for girls and women is far from new.

And also the mention of violent sexual imagery - the trailer (or possibly one of the interviewees) linked it to growing sexual violence. Now, I don't know the trend over the 20th century in the developed world, but the trend c1800-now has certainly been for a reduction in sexual violence, coercive sexual relations and harassment - against servants, slaves, employees, or even against wives. Living in the 21st century, in a peaceful, developed country, I feel like I have more control over my body, more freedom from sexual coercion or violence than any of my ancestresses ever would have had.
posted by jb at 11:22 AM on October 5, 2011


That's not to say that we shouldn't be talking about unhealthy imagery - we totally should. I just think about how far we've come, and that the fact we are talking about it is a sign of our progress.

(That said, I think we've made more advances on sexual violence than on beauty=value - the latter is less serious, but more insidious for it).
posted by jb at 11:24 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very strange that this comes from Gavin Newsom's wife.
posted by benzenedream at 11:30 AM on October 5, 2011


Not that strange. Ms. Siebel has long been active in the film industry (or has tried to be). She's also been concerned with women's issues for a while.

I follow Miss Representation on Facebook. I can't say I agree with most or a lot of what she/they post, but the movie looks pretty good.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:43 AM on October 5, 2011


I haven't had a chance to see it yet but FYI for any Pacific Northwesters Miss Representation is being shown as part of the Vancouver Film Festival, which is on right now.
posted by jess at 11:54 AM on October 5, 2011


That said, I think we've made more advances on sexual violence than on beauty=value - the latter is less serious, but more insidious for it

Interestingly, we just had a pretty nasty thread about beauty=value. In that case, it was all about a fat guy who might have his eye on the White House. And why his girth matters so much.
posted by 2N2222 at 1:31 PM on October 5, 2011


benzenedream: "7Very strange that this comes from Gavin Newsom's wife."

Right?
posted by gingerbeer at 1:54 PM on October 5, 2011


I've recently been inundated with stories about men falling behind. Men play video games all day, while female enrolment in University in general and professional schools in particular far outpaces that of males. Which crisis is more important?

In feminist terms, this is seen as a manifestation of "fragile masculinity," i.e., the concept that true masculinity is something that can be, surprisingly easily, lost. The things that threaten it are always increased competition/opportunity for women and acceptance of gays (who challenge gender roles).

The narrative you are hearing, that men who see women doing well just give up and start playing video games, is just another version. One that's incredibly insulting to men, as well. But it's purpose is mainly to make women feel guilty that their success is hurting men, somehow, and so they should rein themselves in.

Don't let your daughter buy that.
posted by emjaybee at 2:20 PM on October 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


Very interesting video. (heartbreaking too)
posted by ruelle at 4:14 PM on October 5, 2011


If active in the film industry means playing minor roles in minor films, yes, I guess so. She got this made and picked up on the strength of her political connections, and I don't know anyone in the business who doesn't think so. It's a decent enough film, and I think she did a good job with the interviews, but I know far more accomplished female filmmakers with solid work and great films who'd beg for a chance from Oprah.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:13 PM on October 5, 2011


So why is it strange that it comes from Gavin's wife?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:26 PM on October 5, 2011


Wanted to watch the video at home before following up. The doc seems pretty obvious, but a lot of obvious stuff bears repeating, especially since it has to compete with a constant waterfall of sexist advertising. (A film version of Ted Chiang's Liking What You See: A Documentary would be all kinds of awesome. Depicting calliagnosia on the screen would be an interesting challenge.)

While Siebel might be a great person and devoted to great causes I agree with, her marriage to Newsom seems (from my admittedly ignorant perspective) like a very conventional alliance between an upcoming (male) politician and a moneyed family, using the daughter to seal the deal. Newsom has always been one to use his own personal appearance (and that of his ex-wife) for publicity, e.g. the Vanity Fair photo spread a few years ago.

Siebel slagged the "other woman" when Newsom was caught having an affair with his campaign manager's wife. Instead of trying to understand the other woman's perspective, she went on the defensive to "protect her man" (rather than asking ugly questions about his role in it). Pretty minor stuff, I suppose, and irrelevant to the content in the movie.
posted by benzenedream at 12:11 AM on October 6, 2011


I'm shocked that this hasn't spurred more discussion. I watched the 2 minute trailer first (knowing I have a short attention span) and I immediately wanted to watch the longer one. I don't have cable, so I hope the whole film ends up online at some point.
posted by desjardins at 9:49 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, so Jennifer Siebel is that kind of girl: the kind that doesn't like other girls.

I tend to cut people slack when sex is concerned. Everyone is f'ed up one way or another. Point taken, but she basically just should have kept her mouth shut. I don't think she benefited at all from those (fairly mild) comments.

I'm shocked that this hasn't spurred more discussion. I watched the 2 minute trailer first (knowing I have a short attention span) and I immediately wanted to watch the longer one. I don't have cable, so I hope the whole film ends up online at some point.

I think it was announced and promo'd long ago. I've been following the film on Facebook for it seems like a year, or maybe since early spring. Yeah, it was at Sundance, which was in January. That much time before the release and people are gonna forget about it... I did.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:35 AM on October 6, 2011


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