If I had to pick any one major media source to consume for feminist information, it would definitely have to be documentaries. There’s something so satisfying about a well-produced compilation of 90 minutes of material that leaves you reeling and thinking for days. In the wake of a week filled with appreciation for this year’s award winning films and a whole lot of racial and gender related social issues that came along with it, everyone is buzzing from Oscar-mania.
So, while we all still has film appreciation and social justice issues on the mind, I thought this would be the perfect time to combine the two! Whether you’re new to feminism or a veteran of the movement, I would definitely recommend seeing any of these amazing documentaries to get the social justice thoughts flowing!
1. Miss Representation
This film is one of two documentaries that have been produced by The Representation Project. This organization’s mission is to “use film as a catalyst for cultural transformation and to inspire individuals and communities to challenge and overcome limiting gender stereotypes…so that everyone can fulfill their potential.” This mission is definitely evident in Miss Representation. Written and directed by Jennifer Newsom, this film puts a spotlight on the effects of mainstream media’s under-representation of women in power and how it influences American culture and daily society. The combination of young teenage girls’ stories paired with interviews from a variety of feminist activists such as Condoleezza Rice and Margaret Cho make this film extremely compelling.
2. Killing Us Softly 4
Killing Us Softly 4 is Jean Kilbourne’s latest installment in a series that takes a closer look at the representation of women in advertising. Kilbourne sheds light on the thought provoking realities of how gender is communicated in media by breaking down and analyzing hundreds of commercials, advertisements, and photographs. She effectively reveals the ways in which women’s roles as passive and over-sexualized objects in advertising translates to the ways women and girls are treated in the real world. Kilbourne challenges us to see the portrayal of women in media for what it really is and to not let these things go ignored.
3. Dreamworlds 3
*Trigger Warning: Aspects of this clip from Dreamworlds 3 depict graphic video footage of men’s violence against women
As the third part in a series by Sut Jhally, Dreamworlds 3: Desire, Sex & Power in Music Video brings focus to the highly gendered portrayals of men and women as depicted through the popular use of music videos and advertisements. Jhally reveals to us what we often take as normative in our everyday lives by revealing the extremely violent nature of the music and media that we consume. By connecting this perceived violence and connecting it to real world instances of men’s violence against women and the objectification and over-sexualization of women’s bodies, this documentary displays how the fantasy worlds of music videos can have very real and very dangerous consequences.
And there’s more! My documentary viewing wish list is always growing with each new film that Netflix adds. Some newer releases that I can’t wait to watch are, The Hunting Ground, The Mask You Live In (Also produced by The Representation Project!) and It’s a Girl!. Once I have the chance to see these, look out for a potential future post on how these documentaries measure up. Now make some popcorn and get your movie night started!!