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Miss Representation

by on April 10, 2012
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Made up of equal parts social commentary and afterschool special, “Miss Representation” is a pointed look at the current state of American media — particularly the negative effect social media has had on young girls in our country.

Being a Communication Studies major in college, I am all too familiar with feminist rhetoric, especially when it pertains to various media outlets.  The standout filmmaker in the genre is Jean Kilbourne, writer/director of the “Killing Us Softly” series. “Miss Representation” does not present anything new that I hadn’t already been prefaced with via Kilbourne, but if anything, it’s an updated version of “Killing Us Softly.” For anyone unaware of Kilbourne’s work, this is basically a must-watch for any concerned citizen. The documentary specifically looks at what it’s like to be adolescent, female and easily influenced in America.

Offering various perspectives from prominent women in power, the film features interviews with everyone from Margaret Cho to Condoleezza Rice, and this diverse perspective makes the film more unique than its predecessors. It’s easy to write off social commentaries like this as left-wing propaganda, especially when the views expressed are from prominent liberals. However, “Miss Representation” provides an array of powerful women from both ends of the spectrum.  n that regard, the film holds a little more weight for me than Kilbourne’s series. Ironically enough, Kilbourne is also featured in the film as well, offering her seasoned expertise.

Additionally, the filmmaker (Jennifer Siebel Newsom) is a new mother herself and constructed the movie as a means of addressing the climate into which her daughter is being born. That poignant and nurturing perspective drives the heart of the film. Switching back and forth between expert testimony and the teenage perspective, it’s a well-rounded film to say the least. The one-on-one interviews with the various groups of teenagers are far and away the most powerful part of the movie. It’s one thing to hear a pundit rattle off statistics; it’s a completely different thing to hear about life from a teenager’s perspective, seeing as their experiences are based in the “now.”

Documentaries, for the most part, are all structured in a similar fashion. “Miss Representation” is no different in its stylistic conception but its message is incredibly relevant and, moreover, incredibly important. Without offering my own opinion on the subject, I would recommend it for any fans of women’s rights and/or social commentaries of any sort.