Killing Us Softly 4:
Advertising’s Image of Women analysis Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising’s Image of Women, produced by Cambridge Documentary Films, Inc. and released in 2010, is written by and stars Jean Kilbourne. In this latest movie in the Killing Us Softly series, Jean Kilbourne focuses on the way women are presented and represented in the advertisement industry, more so in the advertisements that run on different types of media. The film takes a critical look at an emerging pattern in gender stereotyping, using images and videos to show how advertising companies help propagate an unrealistic view, and perception, of sexuality, perfection and beauty.
Expanding on the central issues covered in this film, objectification stands out as one of the biggest of them all. Jean asserts that advertisements often tell women that the most important thing about them is how they look. This message is then surrounded and forced by images and videos that portray the ideal look, which is more often than not unrealistic and unattainable. The message here boils down to this, a woman is only desirable when they look a certain way, essentially turning them into a thing to be used to sell products.
The film also takes a look at how black women, women of color, are perceived and represented in the advertising industry. Essentially, they are not considered beautiful enough if they do not fit into the mould of white idealism; straight hair, lighter skin and perceived caucasian features. On the issue of image, Jean talks about black women getting featured in jungle settings, often wearing “exotic” clothing as if they were animals.
Hip Hop’s Remix of Race and Identity analysis Blacking Up: Hip Hop’s Remix of Race and Identity, produced and released by Limbic Productions in 2010, is directed by Robert Anderson Clift and stars some of the biggest names in the American Hip Hop culture. The film takes a critical look at racial identity as viewed through the lens of hip-hop music and culture. More specifically, the film focuses on the tensions that arise surrounding white identification in the hip-hop space. Moreover, the film also explores other themes such as exploitation, cultural admiration as well as what hip-hop means to white performers and white fans of rap music who claim the culture to be theirs. In the film, the filmmaker takes us through a series of questions, all of them culmination in asking what makes the black culture so attractive to white rappers. Speaking while wearing blackface, Al Johnson, a white rapper, tries to negate the idea that the perception of black rappers being lowly members of society is wrong. Although the blackface Johnson wears while making his point irritates the black community, one scholar notes that what Johnson is doing is embracing the black facade and in a way trying to fight the racial stereotypes associated with black rappers. Robert Anderson also takes a look at authenticity, in this case, the authenticity of white rappers and how they fit into the hip hop culture. Although several rappers in the film feel that these white rappers are unauthentic as “they do not come from the culture”, the gnawing need for white rappers to be incorporated into the hip hop domain might prove that they have what it takes to fit in.
More Than a Word:
Native American- Based Sports Mascot analysis More Than a Word: Native American- Based Sports Mascot is a film produced and directed by John and Kenn Little and released in 2017. The film takes a closer look at the battles that have been fought in and out of courts by Native Americans in a bid to stop the NFL’s use of the word Redskins under any and all circumstances. The argument by the Native Americans is that the name is derogatory and should not have been trademarked as the NFL has done, going even as far as incorporating the word in the names of some teams.
The film features pictures and videos combined with interviws from people in the know about the issue and the court battles, including professors, Native Amricans, historians as well as the fans of the washington football team using the word. In the film, the viewer is taken through the historical and dictionary definitions of the word, as well as how each of the groups mentioned above interprets the word. The film then takes a turn by exploring the issue of whether the owners of the football team are racist or if the people fighting for the team not to use the word are in fact themselves racists, hiding behind a word and court rulings, appeals and battles to put others down. In the film, one Native American even asserts that the use of the word is indeed racist and by Native Americans fighting for its abolishment, they are in fact fighting against neo-colonialism and reshaping the way they are viewed and represented.
Reel Bad Arabs:
How Hollywood Vilifies a People Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People is a film directed by Sut Jhally and produced by Media Education Foundation and was released in 2006. The film takes a look at how Arabs and Muslims are depicted in films and how their image is vilified and manipulated. The movie argues that the slander of Arabs in Hollywood has existed for almost a century and no one has batted an eye or even questioned this status quo. The arguments presented in this film are based on a huge collection of American films, some of them released in the early 1900s.
The image of Arabs portrayed in this fil includes that of Arab men, viewed as evil, uncouth, nomadic and violent, and that of Arab women, viewed in the analyzed films as shallow and naive, serving greedy sheikhs. Jack Shaheen, the author of the book that this film is based on, argues that politics play a significant role in how these images are produced and disseminated. He says that politics and Hollywood often feed each other, with politics providing the propaganda that the films then latch on to produce their blockbusters. The blockbusters are then filled with the depictions mentioned above of Arabs. Another interesting point brought up in the film is the association between Muslims, Arabs and terror. The film looks at how Hollywood equates all Muslims to Arabs, all Arabs to evil and terror and then concludes that all Muslims must be evil. The film urges viewers to take a hard look at the messaging that came out after events such as the 9/11 attacks and differentiate between a small group of terrorists and the massive world that is the Arab nation.
The Girls in the Band:
Female Jazz Musicians analysis The Girls in the Band: Female Jazz Musicians is a 2013 film directed by Judy Chaikin and produced by Artist Tribe and One Step Productions. The film takes a critical look at how female jazz players have been treated, represented and treated in the music industry. Although there are lots of great female jazz players, their treatment has not been the same as that of their male counterparts, as the film producers’ explored and discovered. The film is a story of these female jazz players and includes interviews, stories, challenges and experiences of some of the best women jazz players in those days.
The film first takes a look at the unwritten rule that women jazz players could not be hired in the 1940s and 40s. The prejudice extended to the few women who were hired, who were often coached to fit into an acceptable mould set up by males in this male-dominated field. For example, they were told to smile while playing, an impossible feat, what to wear, more often than not pink, short, girly outfits, and how to act as they performed. There was also the feminine jazz look – the girls had to look like film stars; slender, tall and light-skinned, an image propagated by the media of the day. In addition to all of the above, most of the women in the film talk about the general lack of role models as they grew up. They argue that this is because of a system that would not let women in, thereby leaving a gaping hole that men could not fill.
The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria is a 2005 documentary that was written and directed by Victor Silverman and Susan Stryker. The film explores issues of transgender people most notably those of harassment, using the 1966 riot at the Compton’s Cafeteria. In the film, the background to the riot is that the urban renewal had destroyed low rent apartments. In addition, managers and owners of residences preferred tenants who were respectable, non-transgenders.
This forced transgender people to move into the Tenderloin. The Compton cafeteria, located at the corner of Turk and Taylor streets was the one place that transgenders, male hustlers(as they are called in the film) and regulars took a rest. On this night, the owners of the restaurant were annoyed with a group of people making noise at one table and decide to call the police. One of the police officers, who was known to be rough with the Compton clientele, attempts to arrest one of the drag queens, she throws her cup of coffee at him. This becomes the start of the Compton Riot of 1966.
The riot grows bigger as all the transgender people unite to fight the police; windows break, chairs are thrown around and when police reinforcements arrive, the riot moves to the streets. The film features interviews from different people who were there on that night, and one thing is clear, all of them feel that the riot was a result of pent up anger and frustration; anger and frustration from marginalization and harassment. The film also takes a look at how a community grew out of the riots.