Miss Representation is a documentary directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom in 2011, which focuses its attention on the problematic representation of women in modern media. It is a series of interviews with different people from schoolchildren to influential women, including Jane Fonda, Rachel Maddow, and Katie Couric. The film’s central idea is that the picture of women in the media based on violence and sex is a problem since members of our society learn to value women’s looks before their achievements. While the movie may have some questionable motives, it is a high-quality piece of art that I would recommend everyone to watch.
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It is not a secret that the sexual objectification of women on screen is posing a considerable problem for US society. Instead of praising women’s achievements, the media discusses plastic surgeries, breast implants, and awkward photos of famous female politicians, actors, musicians, and news reporters. The primary issue is that children and adults spend excessive amounts of time online consuming media products, which promotes the idea that women’s only virtue is their looks. Girls learn that they need to be pretty in order to be successful, while boys learn to see women as objects of lust.
As a result, the world sees many stories that feature teenage girls with nutrition disorders, depression, and suicide attempts due to their inability to adhere to the body standard set by the media. Instead of seeing mothers of their children, men see imperfect bodies of their wives after pregnancy and leave their families searching for new sex partners. Miss Representation touches upon all these problems, which helps people realize the faulty influence of media.
The film, however, seems to be pushing the idea that controlling the media in order to avoid sexism on screen was a positive practice. Such a motive may be controversial since control over media limits the freedom of speech. Indeed, control motivated by maintaining moral standards and ethical values may cause considerable censorship. Even though some may disagree with the matter, I believe that it is the government’s responsibility to control the well-being of the population; therefore, it should influence the media to address the problem radically.
In the film, Jim Steyer, the CEO of Common Sense Media, claims that the issue with sexism in media started during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. During that time, Mark Fowler, a chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, claimed that a TV set is just a piece of furniture that does not require regulation. However, such a policy led to the current state of sexism in the media. The film ends with a discussion of steps everyone can start making to address the problem of faulty representation of women.
Newsom claims that children and adults need to be taught media literacy, which will let the viewer decide what is moral instead of the government. While education instead of limitation is a promising strategy, I believe it is not enough to address the problem, and government intervention is needed.
I would recommend everyone to watch the movie since it touches upon pressing issues of modern society. Even though the film may seem to lack a structured argument and the thought may be hard to follow, the statistics and stories discussed in the movie are priceless. Acknowledgment of a problem is the first step to addressing it, and Miss Representation does an exceptional job of spreading awareness of the distorted picture of women in today’s media.
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