The wonderful feminist media arts organization, Women Make Movies, has just introduced three new films that I think will be interesting to a lot of you. Please consider watching them and/or asking your university libraries to buy them – independent arts organizations + independent feminist filmmakers, what’s not to love?? (The movie descriptions are taken from the WMM website.)
Cover Girl Culture: Awakening the Media Generation (dir. Nicole Clark, 2009, 80 minutes)
Cover Girl Culture pairs images of girls and women in television and print ads with footage from the catwalks and celebrity media. Clark (a former Elite International fashion model) is given rare access to women editors from major magazines like Teen Vogue and ELLE, who provide a shocking defense of the fashion and advertising worlds. The film juxtaposes these interviews with revealing insights from models, parents, teachers, psychologists, body image experts and most importantly, the heartfelt expressions of girls themselves on how they feel about the media that surrounds them.
With an insider’s view, the film addresses issues like today’s increasingly invasive media, heightened advertising to tweens, the sexualization of girls, and consumer culture’s disempowerment of young women. An up-to-date inquiry into advertising and the cult of celebrity’s deep and negative impact on teens and young women, Cover Girl Culture also suggests how to educate young women to think critically about the media.
Arresting Ana: Anorexia Online (dir. Lucie Schwartz, 2009, 25 minutes)
Eye-opening and extremely timely, Arresting Ana is the first film on a burgeoning movement promoting self-starvation.
Pro-Ana websites are in countries around the world, but France is the first to suggest regulating them. Combining in-depth interviews of medical and academic experts with video diaries by Sarah, for whom “Ana”, short for anorexia, is a support system, friend, and motivation to stay alive. Arresting Ana offers unprecedented access into anorexia’s hidden underground while seeking effective solutions to ending this serious disease.
This well-made documentary, which features an engrossing soundtrack and pro-Ana sites and shocking quotes and images, is crucial for students and teachers of media studies. It also provides important insight for psychologists, social workers, sociologists, and educators on who controls women’s body issues, how young people interpret eating disorders today, and how legal and free-speech issues are contested in a new media landscape.
Wired for Sex, Lies, and Power Trips: It’s a Teen’s World (dir. Lynn Glazier, 2009, 45 minutes)
An inside look at the culture of sexual harassment and bullying widespread among many teens today, this unique and compelling program examines the price that adolescents, especially girls, pay to be cool, hip and popular in our brave new wired world. Questioning and confronting their own and each other’s stereotypes and assumptions, three different groups of culturally diverse teenagers share personal stories of navigating their hyper-sexualized, high-tech environment, where the online posting of racy photos, raunchy videos, and explicit gossip and lies, is as commonplace as bombardment by provocative media messages that degrade and objectify women.