Saturday, December 01, 2012


Also, I hope that a someday we will have a
socially acceptable image of a strong woman
that will come from a source other than a
 propaganda poster from 1942.

 I recently finished reading Gloria Steinem's book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions so when my friend Jill told me she had gotten MISS REPRESENTATION from the Netflix and invited me over to watch it with her, I was pretty excited to see it.

Unfortunately, it wasn't all that exciting. (At least, it wasn't for anyone who has ever heard of the Bechdel Test.  Here's a link if you don't know what that is and a video if you don't want to read.)

The main thesis of the film is, (and I quote):

Miss Representation (2011), ... explores how the media's misrepresentations of women have led to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence."

The movie did a good job of explaining how the media under represents women.  It had some lovely graphics, interesting statistics, a few tearful teenage girls frustrated with the system, and plenty of interviews with some really fascinating and knowledgeable people.  However, in the interviews and in the rest of the movie, every question and quote felt just a little bit off the mark.  Can you really prove that "Leave It To Beaver" is the reason we don't have a female president?  How can we talk about the media and not about those who consume media? Do we really believe that women appear on the show "The Bachelor" because they didn't see television shows which depicted strong empowered women?  Do young girls really become anorexic because they read fashion magazines? Or could anorexia be more directly related to a feeling of powerlessness within a young girl's life and a disordered attempt to control her body -- the only source of cultural power she may understand.

The film discussed the cultural traditions which support the way women are presented and why, in the 1950's, there was a deliberate campaign to get the women out of the factories so the men could get back to work. That was interesting but the film didn't apply the knowledge.  Instead we watched Katie Couric worry about whether her short skirts on national television led to the increased sexualization of women in the media and the film neglected to point out that her skirts had nothing to do with it!  Couric's visible thigh is NOT responsible for the drunken exploits of the girls on "Jersey Shore."

"Whatever! Katie totally told us to dress this way!"

I know that's a ridiculous parallel but there is a lot more happening to us, culturally, with the surge of pornography available on the interwebs and the normalization of women in the workplace than one early-morning news anchor's hemlines.

Don't be sad. This stuff is terrible.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the director/writer/narrator of this film, has noticed a problem in her industry and wants to work to fix it, which is admirable.  I am glad she is calling attention to the problem in a way which is easily digested and acceptable.  However, I would rather avoid legislating the issue, which seems to be the push of the film.  The media makes a lot of decisions but I believe that we, the consumer, have a lot of power as well.  If declining sales of Wonder Bread assisted in the downfall of a huge company then concerted efforts to reject programming which under represents or misrepresents women can have as powerful an effect. And if that means making hard choices like NOT watching "Honey Boo Boo", then maybe that's what we need to do.

I know, Boo, but some things are more important than
 flippers and pet pigs.

Addendum:  The website has just about everything one could ask for when it comes to generating change. The website is better than the movie so maybe it's best to just skip the film and go to the site.


Obviously, after watching MISS REPRESENTATION, the only logical thing to do was to rent EXPENDABLES 2.

No one was happy about it.
Now, to let you know, I love Sly Stallone.  He's a prime example of what happens to someone who has ambition, drive, intelligence, and talent, but lacks the social know-how to be a part of the "in" crowd.   He makes movies which capture the zeitgeist of his generation and gets no respect for it.  I like his determination to stay true to his own vision and make the movies he wants to make.

Plus, he was in the movie RHINESTONE with Dolly Parton
for which I will love him forever.

That said, EXPENDABLES 2 is just terrible.  I still loved the parts with Stallone but everything else is awkward and inauthentic, especially when Chuck Norris shows up and acts like your creepy uncle.
A rare example of a beard making a man
look LESS attractive
I would talk about plot except I don't want to.  I could talk about the "girl" in the movie except she was more of a fighting sex toy than a real woman.  I might mention how utterly terrifying Dolph Lundgren is but it's far too scary to think about anymore.  

Aak! Run for your life!

I should mention that I really missed Micky Roark's character from the first EXPENDABLES because he grounded and enriched that movie so much I actually liked it.  I definitely should say that the costume designer has marvelous taste.

Fighting Russian gangsters is never an excuse to look shabby.
But, the most important thing, I think, is to let everyone know that Arnold Schwarzenegger is officially uncool.  No, really.  Unlike Bruce Willis, who has aged wonderfully and is still an all-around groovy guy, Arnold is your Tea Party grandpa in a tasteless shirt.  

He's no longer a governor OR a movie star.  Really, he's lucky to be in this movie at all.