Friday, May 11, 2012

Jay's Movie of the Week #19: Miss Representation

Miss RepresentationA perfect documentary to share with the moms and daughters in your life. Originally reviewed for DVD Snapshot.

Official Synopsis:

Writer/Director Jennifer Siebel Newsom interwove stories from teenage girls with provocative interviews from the likes of Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Lisa Ling, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Rosario Dawson, Dr. Jackson Katz, Dr. Jean Kilbourne, and Gloria Steinem to give us an inside look at the media and its message. As the most persuasive and pervasive force of communication in our culture, media is educating yet another generation that a woman's primary value lay in her youth, beauty and sexuality-and not in her capacity as a leader, making it difficult for women to obtain leadership positions and for girls to reach their full potential. The film accumulates startling facts and asks the question, "What can we do?"

Our Take:

In G-rated movies, the female characters are just as likely to be wearing sexually revealing clothing as in R-rated movies... which is horrifying.” - Geena Davis

Presented by the OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) Documentary Club, Miss Representation covers areas that haven't been covered enough and should continually be addressed.

Through hundreds of video clips and interviews with an extremely impressive selection of professors, intellectuals, politicians, and celebrities; the film shines a light on how media images and messages warp the self image and esteem of American girls and women.

Starting out with a look at how Photoshop and plastic surgery help create a concept of physical perfection that's actually inhuman and impossible to achieve is just the first of a series of intelligent, well-observed, and downright depressing observations and statistics on the daily “image” of women we receive all day, every day.

From “Toddlers and Tiaras” to the stereotyped “bitchy boss,” movies and television present and reinforce an idea that men are protagonists, while women... wear bikinis. (There's a spot-on observation regarding actresses in the 1930s playing more progressively multi-dimensional characters than they get to do today, eighty years later. Watch a Barbara Stanwyck movie then try disagreeing.) A smart illustration of how images of sexualized, secondary characters (in what's frequently marketed to women as their own stories) directly lead into the statistical realities of a desensitization and predisposition to violence being programmed in society gets presented here.

The film also explores the experience of women in Politics, observing that when not under-represented they're frequently first by their looks. Also statistically unbalanced are women in positions in of corporate power. Combined with an honest assessment of a conservative skew and adherence to financial bottom line, this only scratches the surface of an exploration into why women (and men) wind up with screwed-up views of their roles, relationships, and worth in this world.

You can harumph if you don't agree with the arguments and observations presented, but Miss Representation is anything but. It shares an important message and reminds us to make considered choices to better serve our country, our youth, and ourselves. It's sad to realize that, against this monolithic tide of images, none of us have stood a chance.

Highly Recommended. (Added bonus: you'll never look at Reality TV shows the same way again.)

Special Features:

The film is unrated, and presented in a full-screen format and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. Included are English subtitles, an introduction by Oprah Winfrey, and a selection of extended scenes.


The first statistics presented in Miss Representation is that teens consume nearly 11 hours of media a day. Ensure this documentary is 90 minutes of that for the women in your life.

Overall Picture:
Movie: A
Extras: C


  1. Wise words indeed. She's always been a favorite of mine - very talented. I even watched a little bit of that show where she played the President, which was horribly served by the network... and while Cutthroat Island *IS* bad, she isn't.