With a society that’s always plugged in, its difficult to get away from the media. Our lives revolve around TV, music, video games, and movies. However, it is only recently that audiences are starting to realize what the content of the media is doing to society– especially women. Although powerful campaigns and initiatives are being launched in order to showcase and prevent the misogyny present in society, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Miss Representation is a documentary recently released on Netflix that brings forth what most of us are slowly becoming desensitized to; women in the media.
Consisting of interviews from a group of experts, the hour and a half film dissected the various aspects of the media that sexualize, dehumanize, and objectify women. Pat Mitchell (MA, President and CEO for the Paley Center for Media, former President and CEO of PBS); Jennifer Pozner (Executive Director of Women in Media & News); Caroline Heldman (PhD, Associate Professor of Political Science at Occidental College); Marie Wilson (founding President of the White House Project); and Condoleezza Rice (Secretary of State) are just some of the personalities that sat down to talk about the representation of women in the media. Montages of Reality TV stars in bikinis, journalists in low-cut tops, and pictures taken between Sarah Palin’s legs demonstrated the problem overtly and effectively. However, Miss Representation also indirectly brought forth other problems present in the media. Problems hardly spoken about by the line of experts and celebrities. But problems that are still there.
Women of colour (WOC), women with disabilities (WWD), and the LGBT community also should have been addressed. WWD are essentially non-exsistent while women of colour and LGBTs are also significantly underrepresented. Although Devanshi Patel, a young, WOC aspiring to have a career in public service, was briefly profiled in the documentary– she was essentially what WOC are in the media; ‘the token brown girl’ of the documentary. It would have been nice to see a discussion of the misrepresentation of celebrities such as Mindy Kahling or Sofia Vergara, who are known solely for their skin colour and foreign accent, respectively. The montages in Miss Representation showcased a series of privileged, white women who steal the spotlight time and time again. But it should be known, problems of sexualization, age discrimination, and objectification also apply to WOC and the LGBT community as well. Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, and yes, even Queen Bey always leave little to the imagination. Now whether their anacondas are actually empowering or objectifying is a conversation we all need to have. In addition, Mitch and Cam of Modern Family and Ellen DeGeneres are essentially the only representatives of the LGBT community and that too, from a comedic standpoint.
Essentially, the documentary didn’t consist of anything we didn’t already know. Women are no longer wear as much clothes as they used to, and the Kardashians are, whether we like it or not, plotting to take over the world. A powerful film would’ve been one that consisted of briefly showcasing the problems women face in the media followed by actual solutions to resolve said problems. Women need to stop victimizing themselves and need to start helping themselves- and most importantly each other. All in all, Miss Representation kind of, well, missed the spot.