Billions of hours of media watching after the feminist revolution changed the world, and women are still depicted in movies and on TV mostly as wives or girlfriends, with their sole ambition to find love.
Such limited media portrayals aren't just shocking or limiting — they're harming whole new generations of girls, and the rest of our population, according to the slickly produced and hardhitting new Sundance documentary "Miss Representation," directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a business woman who is also married to California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. The film premiered to a sold-out crowd on Saturday afternoon, followed by a panel discussing the problem with famous talking heads including feminist icon and writer Gloria Steinhem, and Mensa member and actor Geena Davis.
Steinhem welcomed attendees, crowning everyone as "part of the International Women's Revolutionary Government in Exile." She warned that pointing out sexism in media is easy; getting heard or making a difference is much more difficult. "It's as if women can't be serious. This goes so deep in our society, and you will be accused of being a 'single-issue person,'" she said.
Davis was the first female actor to be depicted as a U.S. president in the short-lived 2005 "Commander in Chief" TV show. She said she is concerned about the lack of range in female roles, "in every media, even cartoons." (And talk about unrealistic body images: in animated films, the women have waists smaller than most women's upper arms, Davis said.)
She cited a recent 10-year study of gender roles in American movies which reported male characters on screen for every female character, and the overwhelming aspiration of women depicted in movies is to find romance. The No. 1 job for female characters is being royalty. "That's nice work if you can get it," Davis quipped.
Tickets are scarce, but "Miss Representation" screens again on Tuesday, Jan. 25 at 9 p.m. at Park City's Temple Theatre. Or watch a trailer here: http://www.missrepresentation.org/welcome.html.
-- Ben Fulton
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