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Miss Representation (2011)

Review Miss Representation

“I want to say a little something that’s long overdue
The disrespect to women has got to be through
To all the mothers and sisters and the wives and friends
I want to offer my love and respect to the end” – Sure Shot/Beastie Boys

The late MCA uttered these words in 1994 and it seems little has changed in the world of entertainment when it comes to how women are portrayed. Just look at the world of hiphop, in which women are portrayed as objects only good for their bodies (which the documentary Hip Hop: Beyond beats and rhymes touched upon). But it’s not only the world of music where this happens as this documentary makes painfully clear.

Director Jennifer Siebel Newsom asks the question why there aren’t many women in powerful positions and talks about it with various women. Some have been in those positions, like Condoleezza Rice, who talks about her experiences in government. Women in the TV and movie industry also talk about what what they have been asked to do. Actresses like Geena Davis, Jane Fonda, Maragaret Cho and Rosario Dawson make clear that in the entertainment industry is all about the image. Whether it’s losing weight or getting some plastic surgery, some of them have been asked to do so to make themselves appear more “beautiful”.

The effect that the entertainment industry has on people is huge and it influences the perception people have of themselves. When a little girl only sees other girls/young women being dependant on a man and looking for love or sees the way women are shown in a music video or depicted in a specific way in a TV show, she will see that as an example. Newsom makes it very clear that that image has changed drastically and it’s something she makes clear by giving examples out of the movie industry. A lot of women in movies before the second world war seemed to be a lot more multi faceted compared to the ones you see now.

The documentary spends a lot of time hammering home the fact how women are misrepresented and I personally thought it did so a bit too much. It quickly makes that point clear, but keeps showing examples of women in skimpy clothes and thought that wasn’t necessary as it has a lot of great interviews. It also shows some women in powerful positions or teenagers wanting to make a change. I would have wished to see more of that. During the credits a lot of tips are given what could be done to improve the position of women, which is great, but could have been added during the documentary as well. I do like the fact that this movie makes the problems in society and its obsession with simple entertainment clear.

Score: 7

Category: Documentary, Movies
  • Chris says:

    The doc nobody seems to have heard of or seen, glad you found it. Made my top 30 films of 2011. There were some boring moments and yes was a bit repetitive, but the high points made up for it I think.
    My favorite quote was: “Turning a human being into a thing, that is almost always the first step to justifying violence against that person”

    July 2, 2012 at 7:57 pm
    • Nostra says:

      I have to admit I hadn’t heard of it either and just found out about it recently. That is a very good quote!

      July 5, 2012 at 10:52 am
  • Kristen says:

    Heard a lot of great things about it, I’m just worried (and you seem to be asserting that as well) that the topic is too broad. Women in the entertainment industry is such a broad topic, I’d have hoped the documentary focused more on in politics or a smaller thesis. Another great documentary you can find online is Mickey Mouse Monopoly that looks at Disney’s representations of race, gender, ect and the Dreamworlds series about women in music. Great review!

    July 3, 2012 at 9:54 pm
    • Nostra says:

      Well, the topic is broad and could have been more focussed. Still it’s worth checking out. Heard about the Disney documentary, but have not seen it….will try to check it out…

      July 5, 2012 at 10:53 am
  • Haricharan says:

    Aptly suitable for a country like India where men populate in top designations over women. Great post but I’m yet to watch the film :) I’m sure I’ll like it, at least hoping so.

    July 11, 2012 at 7:14 am
    • Nostra says:

      Is it that bad in India with women at the top? Is it because of the culture or do women not try to pursue those careers enough?

      July 13, 2012 at 2:30 pm

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