Miss Representation: The Mass Media Objectify Women--What Else Is New?

If you have a 13-year-old daughter who's hitherto been raised a) as a fundamentalist Christian, b) as a staunch Republican, or c) on a diet of reality TV, by all means take her to see this feminist primer made for the Oprah Winfrey Network. Dismayed by the media's depiction of women (cue Kardashian montage), director Jennifer Siebel Newsom lines up a series of academics and celebrities who decry the objectification of women. Margaret Cho, Jane Fonda, Rachel Maddow, Gloria Steinem, Nancy Pelosi, and even Condoleezza Rice all deliver sensible remarks on the fatuousness of Hollywood, Fox News, fashion mags, etc., but those remarks are so obvious as to be white noise. No self-respecting liberal Seattle parent is going to be shocked by entertainment images they already censor from their daughters' eyes. To engage those tween eyes, Siebel Newsom throws up a lot of snazzy graphics and inspirational quotes, then adds testimonials from enlightened Bay Area teens and womens' mentoring seminars. She doesn't help her cause with personal details (anorexic, failed actress, current wife of California's Lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom, who appears in the film), and Miss Representation essentially plays like an infomercial for itself (see the movie, attend a seminar, everyone hug!). You're left wanting to hear more career specifics from the screen veterans here. "All of Hollywood is run on one assumption," says Geena Davis, "that women will watch stories about men, but men won't watch stories about women." True, but that's not why Cutthroat Island failed. And when Katie Couric says her career in journalism was partly inspired by The Mary Tyler Moore Show, just try to think of an equivalent influence today. 2 Broke Girls, anyone?

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