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In Miss Representation, actress-activist Rosario Dawson talks about how important it is for women to write their own stories. This is equally important in entertainment and in journalism alike. Yet as I discuss in the film, today’s media climate is extremely toxic for women and girls, and for people of color.
That’s because the main purpose of TV programming today is not to entertain, engage or inform us. Sad but true: the purpose is generate sky-high profits for the tiny handful of mega-merged media corporations that own and control the vast majority of what we’re given to watch, see, hear and play in newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, movies, billboards and video games. When these six major conglomerates (Disney, Time Warner, NewsCorp, Viacom, CBS and General Electric) prioritize the financial bottom line over journalistic ethics, diverse and critical art, and the public interest, we all lose out… but women pay a particularly steep price.
Journalism is the only industry in America that has Constitutional protection, because a healthy democracy cannot function without a free, independent, critical press. Yet for decades, groups like Women In Media & News, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, the White House Project and the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film have documented that women are misrepresented and marginalized as op-ed writers, front-page news sources, lead anchors, and commentators… that is, when they aren’t missing entirely.
Christina Hendricks’ bold, retro-bedecked curves
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as Joan on AMC’s Mad Men have elicited as many positive headlines as the series itself — was named
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This post is cross-posted with www.MissRepresentation.org, in advance of the film’s debut tonight on OWN, 9pm (8c).
In Miss Representation, actress-activist Rosario Dawson talks about how important it is for women to write their own stories. This is equally important in entertainment and in journalism alike.Yet as I discuss in the film, today’s media climate is extremely toxic for women and girls, and for people of color. That’s because the main purpose of TV programming today is not to entertain, engage or inform us. Sad but true: the purpose is generate sky-high profits for the six major conglomerates (Disney, Time Warner, NewsCorp, Viacom, CBS and General Electric) that own and control the vast majority of what we’re given to watch, see, hear and play in newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, movies, billboards and video games.
As a result, women are misrepresented and marginalized as op-ed writers, front-page news sources, lead anchors, and broadcast journalism commentators… that is, when they aren’t missing entirely (as decades of research document). Scripted entertainment isn’t much better. As filmmaker Nia Vardalos wrote at WIMN’s Voices, Hollywood studios ignore data that show that audiences actually do want to support films with strong female leads, calling the success of “Sex and the City” and “Mamma Mia” “a fluke.” When Nia tried to follow up her hit “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” with a new script, studio execs pressured her to change female leads to male characters—exactly the opposite of the kind of climate Rosario Dawson is rightly calling for.
DVR Alert: Tune in to the award-winning documentary “Miss Representation” TONIGHT, Oct. 20, 9pm(8c) on OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network).
I had the honor of being an adviser on — and being interviewed in — this powerful film about women and the media. “Miss Representation” is the first mainstream film to delve into sexism in commercial media — from advertising and pop culture’s sexualization of girls, to triggering eating disorders, to media normalizing violence against women, to reality TV as anti-feminist backlash (which I discuss both in the film and Reality Bites Back), to double standards in news reporting on female politicians, to the trivialization of women who work in broadcast news, to the causal role advertising and media consolidation plays in all of this, to the need for media literacy to help youth and adults become more active, critical media consumers.
OWN will decide whether to re-air “Miss Representation” based in large part on the ratings it draws tonight. So please tune in… and ask five friends to set their DVRs as well. Tweet it, Facebook it, email people. (If for no other reason than the cognitive dissonance that results from seeing me and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice agree on something!)
I am extremely humbled to announce that Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV has been voted by Ms. readers onto Ms.‘s Top 100 Feminist Non-Fiction Books list.
The magazine is revealing their Top 100 list in batches of ten books at a time, and so far I am blown away by the heavy-hitter company in which I have found myself. Fellow Top 100 authors include, in no particular order: bell hooks, Assata Shakur, Robin Morgan, Melissa Harris-Perry, Eve Ensler, Leslie Feinberg, Gloria Feltd, Judtih Butler, and many other impressive writers of both classic feminist texts as well as emerging thought leaders. Some of these writers I have the pleasure of calling friends, and a few have been formative intellectual role models in my work.
The depth of the authors I’m sharing this space with is mind-blowing. I’m not sure if any award has made me this happy since I got a “certificate of hotness” from The Real Hot 100 back in 2006 (award slogan: “See how hot smart can be!”). In both cases, being counted among brilliant, landscape-altering women is a shot in the arm for those days when the #brokeasswriter / #brokeassactivist life feels a bit too frustrating. It’s honors like these that remind me that the work I’m doing is making an impact, and it helps me keep going.
As a born-and-bred Brooklynite — and a lit geek, ‘natch — I’m thrilled to be bringing Reality Bites Back to the fifth annual Brooklyn Book Festival, along with brilliant writers including Laura Flanders, Jeremy Scahill, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and several Pulitzer Prize winners.
WHERE: Brooklyn Historical Society Main Hall (128 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn, NY)
WHEN: 5pm, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011
WHAT: Media Representations and Reality: The debate continues over whether the media reflects reality or has a hand in shaping it. Like Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, the act of presenting the news can
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very often alter it. No one knows this better than Brooke Gladstone of “On the Media,” whose new book The Influencing Machine with Josh Neufeld examines the role of the media in American society. Patrice Evans, (Negropedia), examines media representations of African-Americans, and Jennifer Pozner (Reality Bites Back) looks at the completely unreal world of reality television. Moderated by Juan Gonzalez (News for All the People).
VIDEO: Jennifer L. Pozner on CBC News “Connect with Mark Kelley”: 25th anniversary of “The Real World”
Yesterday, I wrote that I’d be appearing on CBC News’s Connect with Mark Kelley to discuss the state of reality television on the 25th anniversary of MTV’s iconic The Real World. Today, I’m happy to share the interview with you. My discussion is part of the following six-minute video package, starting at 2:14: