“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.