“Miss Representation” Viewers: Welcome to the Media Justice Movement!


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: TONIGHT, 10/20 @9pm(8c): “Miss Representation” brings Reality Bites Back to OWN


DVR Alert: Tune in to the award-winning documentary “Miss RepresentationTONIGHT, 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!)


Sun., Sept 18: Reality Bites Back at Brooklyn Book Festival


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

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).

Haven’t heard yet from the panel organizers about whether I’m going to be giving prepared remarks, just answering questions from the moderator, or both, but whatever the format, I’ll do my best to discuss the media economics, product placement advertising, and virulent institutional sexism and racism at play within reality television. And I’ll throw in some laughs, like I


Boston, MA – 04/08/11


Who
NCMR: National Conference on Media Reform
When
Friday, April 8, 2011
TBD - All Ages
Where
NCMR: National Conference on Media Reform (map)
Boston, MA
Other Info
Conference lasts from April 8 - 10. Jennifer L. Pozner and Sofia Quintero will facilitate a hands-on media literacy workshop helping attendees deconstruct gender and race bias in reality television. More details to come.

« Back to the calendar


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:


Jezebel on me, TLC, and Tea Party intimidation: “Sarah Palin’s Alaska Is Afraid Of Its Own Viewers”


Yesterday, a Jezebel headline about my weekend brouhaha with Sarah Palin’s Alaska summed up what I promised TLC I wouldn’t discuss on record: “Sarah Palin’s Alaska is scared of their own viewers.”

 

Jezebel’s Anna North’s post brings into stark relief how certain segments on the right are using fear and intimidation to create a chilling effect over media content. As North summarizes, I was booked to discuss Sarah Palin’s Alaska on the official TLC podcast after Sunday night’s latest episode of the show. Then, I was abruptly uninvited from podcast because, as its host and social media strategist said, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska is not a political show” and my presence would have made the conversation — about a series-long unpaid political advertisement for the former GOP vice presidential nominee and potential future POTUS candidate — “inadvertently political.” (Yep, I know. I deconstructed that fun little bit of irony yesterday, as did Media Matters.) But, as North writes, that official explanation wasn’t the whole story. In fact, “organizers were worried about what Palin supporters might do if they got too riled up.”

Jezebel asks if my segment’s cancelation was “because the organizers of the show can’t handle anybody even mildly badmouthing Palin? Well, not exactly.”:


Reality Bites Back at…Sarah Palin’s Alaska, TONIGHT, 10:20pm EST


UPDATE: This segment has been canceled–specifically because of this blog post. I may still participate in the TLC podcast and/or blogs in some other capacity, and will discuss in a blog post to come.

Am I being Punked? Perhaps. But at 10:20 EST, I’ll be a guest on TLC’s TalkBack Live podcast to follow tonight’s new episode of Sarah Palin’s Alaska, the new reality show starring — and executive produced by — the 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee, former half-term Gov. of Alaska, and Fox News contributor. In the episode, the Palin family and the Gosselin family (Kate Gosselin and her “plus eight” kids, stars of another flagship TLC series) will go camping together in Alaska.

I’m not sure TLC understands who they’re getting as a guest. I didn’t try to hide it: “You know I’m a media critic, and not a cheerleader for reality TV, right?” “Yeah. That’s ok,” the booker said. “You know I just wrote a book called Reality Bites Back, right?” “Yes. That’s not a problem.” Well, ok then…


DC TONIGHT: Final stop on the Reality Bites Back book tour


Tonight in Washington, D.C.,

I’m holding my last official reading on the Reality Bites Back book tour. It is listed in the Washington Post’sGoing Out Guide Blog,” and their “Going Out Guide.” There’s also a brief interview with the Express.

Tonight, the final official book reading will be held at Busboys & Poets on 14th & V in Washington, DC from 6:30-8pm. RSVP on Facebook (though walk-ins are fine, too). If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll come out for a lively discussion about gender, race and class in entertainment media — and support a fantastic local independent DC bookstore and cafe.

This month has been incredible. Journalists from Newsweek, Macleans, Ms. magazine, AOL TV Squad, the St. Petersburg Times, the Denver Post, B*tch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, The American Prospect, and many more have written about the book. That was never a given for a feminist, anti-racist analysis of corporate media which includes extensive critique of product placement, advertising, and media consolidation — not to mention a conclusion featuring strategies for making

change from more than a dozen media activists.


TUES, Nov 16, noon: Reality Bites Back event with Jennifer L. Pozner and Jennifer Siebel Newsom, First Lady of San Francisco


BAY AREA EVENT REMINDER from WIMN and the International Museum of Women:

Nov. 16: Whose Reality? Exposing Gender, Race and Commercial Biases in Reality TV

11/16/2010: 12pm – 1:30pm

A conversation with Jennifer Siebel Newsom, documentarian, actress and First Lady of San Francisco, and Jennifer L. Pozner, Executive Director of Women In Media & News, media critic, author, Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth about Guilty Pleasure TV, on November 16th.

SeibelNewsomAndPozneer

Purchase tickets now>>

The International Museum of Women is thrilled to be hosting a noontime conversation between Jennifer Siebel Newsom, actress, filmmaker and First Lady of San Francisco, and Jennifer L. Pozner, media critic, author and Executive Director of Women in Media & News, on November 16th.

Just how real is reality television? With video clips of popular prime time TV shows and a trailer for the forthcoming film, Miss Representation, Newsom and Pozner will shed light on sexism and racism in entertainment media. Please join us for this important discussion about misrepresentations of women and people of color in reality TV, and ways you can demand media accountability.


Newsweek reviews Reality Bites Back: “Everything I Learned About Women I Learned From Reality TV” (Plus: my slideshow: “Reality TV’s 9 Worst Stock Characters”)


As a long-time media critic, I can tell you that

this is not a sentence I’m accustomed to writing: Corporate media gave me a huge gift yesterday.

As I traveled to Denver (to moderate a panel and have a wine and cheese reception for my book at the Women’s Studies Association conference), Newsweek’s Jessica Bennett reviewed Reality Bites Back in a lively feature headlined, “Everything I Learned About Women I Learned From Reality TV.” Her subhead that says it all: “Which means I must think they’re all desperate, competitive, plastic-surgery-obsessed bimbos. The problem? Today’s reality entertainment is a lot more like fiction.”

I couldn’t be happier with Benett’s take on the book and the issue of representation of women in this genre throughout the last decade. She writes:

If your main source of knowledge about women came from reality TV, this is how you’d see the world: a place where your mom is a conniving, deceitful gold digger, your sisters and girlfriends vicious and catty. You would learn that “sisterhood” is a thing of the past, as Pozner puts it—and that girl friendships are not powerful but spiteful. And you’d understand that women were put on this earth to compete for male attention—when, of course, they’re not busy pulling each other’s hair out or lounging half naked in a hot tub.