Whose fantasy is this?

Why we Need More Female Directors in TV and Film: Advertising and the Imbalance of Male Fantasy Potrayals

Whose fantasy is this?

I think one of the biggest reasons many women and parents are displeased with the media today is that there is a harsh imbalance of male-female fantasies portrayed in the media.  In this essay I will discuss the reasons this imbalance prevents gender equality and creates a malevolent, one-dimensional view of young women in America.

Introduction

First and foremost, it is important to recognize that all visual media has been edited.  It is the art of editing–of selecting specific close-up, medium, and long shots in a particular order–that tells a story.  Each shot is chosen specifically and delicately in this order, as to perfectly illustrate the story being told.  Each cut simulates a blink of the eye, and with each blink we are concentrating on a new facet of the portrayed experience.

Editing rolls of film to tell your story is a tedious task

In real life, this is not so.  When we blink, our eyes show us the same scene, the same environment.  We cannot skip over the boring, monotonous, or irrelevant moments like in film.  Life is one long, uncut scene. By editing these moments together with a specific intent (the intent to create a story), we are creating pure fantasy.  Every piece of edited media you see is fantasy.  Commercials, tv, film, video games, and the horribly misnamed “reality” tv.

Problem

The problem is, if you look at the people directing and editing these commercials, they are almost all male.  The director of photography (person behind the camera), the director itself, and the editors tend to be male.  When you get a combination like this, even if the script’s writer is female, the story being told is influenced by the desires of these men in the same way that any film or piece of media is influenced by each hand that touches it.  I want to reiterate that there is nothing wrong with male fantasies, something that vocal people posing as feminists will contest.  The problem occurs when our society is dominated only by these fantasies, and there is a lack of female representation.

All male crew.
Even on shows such as Alias and Buffy, we see that makeup comes before ass-kicking.  Somehow on Dark Angel, Jessica Alba’s character has time to perfect her hair and put on mascara before going to fight the bad guys…In real life, makeup and hair to that effect can take an hour or more to achieve.  It enslaves you, in a real way. Women who see “looking good” as a necessity are prevented from acting on spontaneous decisions and their freedoms are limited because they need to spend an hour doing hair and makeup before they can go to lunch, or the beach, or to work.  Men don’t need to worry about these things because they are told through advertisements and tv that they don’t need to.
Evidence
Here is an example of a GoDaddy.com Superbowl 2012 commercial that objectifies women. This will be shown to families with young girls watching all over America for this year’s Superbowl XLVI.  WHY do you need sex to sell domain names? What on earth does sex have to do with domain names? Simple…sex sells.

And here is another one, also by GoDaddy (are you noticing a trend here?):

By the way: every single crew member, ad executive, and pre-production member for the GoDaddy commercial above is male.  The only exceptions? The actresses.

Now that you’re hopefully starting to feel enlightened, let’s move on to the next part of this essay.  The “equality part.”

To illustrate my point, I would like to use the Old Spice campaign as an example.  Note that this campaign differs only from the Axe campaign in that it switches the stereotyped gender roles.

Well what do we have here? From the advertising agency we have a female Executive Creative Director, a female Producer, a female Producer Interactive, and another female Producer Interactive.  And in the crew, there is a a female Executive Producer, and a female Line Producer.

Hm. Interesting.

Solving the Problem

I love Old Spice commercials.  First and foremost, they are hilarious.  You have a good-looking guy fulfilling every female fantasy in one long take.  One reason this works so well is because of the editing reasons I mentioned before–there is no cut.  It is one long take, and this lack of editing simulates real life.  However, its motion graphics and special effects make it very clear that it is still only a fantasy.

However, if you are to look at this commercial in the manner that sexualized female characters are looked at by other women, you will see that not everything is so fine and dandy after all.  The Old Spice guy is being objectified and sexualized. His character’s only mission is to satisfy women.

Is that sort of male objectification ethical? No. Objectification of either gender causes people’s personalities and souls to be disregarded as we cast them off as objects for looking at, or, as we commonly call it, “pieces of meat.” So how do we combat this? There is clearly objectification coming from both sides of the gender pool, with one side greatly outweighing the other…

The answer: balance it out!  There is no way you can ask a male artist not to paint his fantasy, whether on a canvas or on camera.  That’s not fair nor ethical, as we should all have the freedoms to write, film, or paint our fantasies.  But what you can do is balance out those male fantasies with female fantasies.  And this is important for empowering young women and helping them understand they do not need to be sexual or beautiful to be successful people.

Conclusion

A lot of things have changed for women’s status since our parents time, our grandparents time, and the generation before them, but that doesn’t mean the struggle is over yet.  More women than ever are attending college (and out-attending men even), working, and running for office.  Men don’t offer women seats on the train anymore, and they won’t pay for your dinner every time you go on a date.  We are living under the pretense that both genders are equal, and yet we are lacking a HUGE female influence in the media and political arenas.  This is not right, it has to change.  Too many women and men live in ignorance of our world’s domination by male fantasies and the insecurities it creates for both men and women (but especially women).

Not all women want to be viewed sexually, but thanks to the push to widely distribute photos like this, they are.

Equality can only be achieved by equal representation.  Ever heard the saying, “99% of life is just showing up?”  Well women, you (we) need to start showing up and getting out there.  In film, in tv, in advertising, and in politics.  Don’t be intimidated by male dominance in the industry.  What’s the worst that can happen by trying? In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, a champion of equality, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

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Years by Bartholomäus Traubeck

WANDERLUST

A record player that plays slices of wood. Year ring data is translated into music, 2011. Modified turntable, computer, vvvv, camera, acrylic glass, veneer, approx. 90x50x50 cm.

A tree’s year rings are analyzed for their strength, thickness and rate of growth. This data serves as basis for a generative process that outputs piano music. It is mapped to a scale which is again defined by the overall appearance of the wood (ranging from dark to light and from strong texture to light texture). The foundation for the music is certainly found in the defined ruleset of programming and hardware setup, but the data acquired from every tree interprets this ruleset very differently.

Thanks to Land Salzburg, Schmiede, Pro-ject Audio, Karla Spiluttini, Ivo Francx, vvvv, Rohol.

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Thanks to Mark Kuykendall

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My Mother Never Let me Play with Barbies

There’s so much to say about this video, but I think I’ll let it speak for itself.  To read about my mother never letting me play with barbies, skip down a few paragraphs.

To be honest, watching these kinds of videos make me sick.  To realize that sexism and unwanted sexualization is such a prevalent part of our American culture is one thing; to live with that knowledge 100% of the time is suffocating.  But everyone needs to know these realities.  “Killing Us Softly” is an informational video that everyone should watch!

There is good news though.  These days more women are attending college than men which is having a drastic effect on marriage rates.  There are fewer marriages today than ever before, and we can sum it up to those college degrees.  Search on google for any news articles on this and you’ll find the exact statistics I’m talking about.  Women who previously were marrying for financial stability are now able to get jobs due to their degrees.  Because fewer men than women are attending college, there is a smaller pool of men to marry because apparently most women don’t want to marry “down.”

A very, very strange result has come of this.  The ideal pool of males has shrunk, which makes men with college degrees rarer and more desirable than ever before.  And these males probably get more action than anyone else.  So what you’re left with is one alpha male per multiple alpha females.  Interesting.

Now, as for those barbies…

There IS a way to fight back against the media’s influence, and it all comes down to parenting.  It’s the reason I don’t go fake tanning, wear false eyelashes, or bleach my hair (though I’ve been there, done that, and come out all the better for it).  Unfortunately, it’s also the reason I sometimes have trouble respecting women who do dye their hair and wreck their bodies with plastic surgery.

My mother never let me play with barbies.

“Why??” I would whine and beg her.  “All my friends have them. Jessie’s mom lets her play with Barbies!”

“I don’t care what your friends do or what your friends parents say.  It’s because I said so,” My mom replies in what I considered to be a very cruel manner.  I received little to no explanation on why I wasn’t allowed to play with Barbies, or why I wasn’t allowed to wear a bikini to pool parties in elementary school.  My mom once bought me a similar doll with brown hair, whose joints moved.  I didn’t care much for it–I wanted exactly what my friends had.

“Barbies don’t have nipples. It’s not an accurate representation of a woman’s body,” she told me once.   I was confused enough by that to shut up about it for a little while. “Who cares if they don’t have nipples?” I asked myself.

But it got me thinking.  Later in life, my mother didn’t let me subscribe to young womens’ magazines, like Seventeen or Cosmo Girl!.  I received Girls Life for a while, and was really into American Girl dolls.  This stuff drove me crazy!  I would love perusing those magazines at friends houses, which was the only time I was able to see what I was missing out on.  The bold letters, pink graphics, and makeup ads enticed me.

When I was 12 I left my school to attend an all-girls school, Dana Hall in Wellesley, MA. There were many times where I felt distanced from my peers, as if they knew something I didn’t.  But I could never put my finger on what it was.

For a long time, I didn’t understand why my mother was doing this.  It was hard on us too.  I lashed out at her for what I thought was her punishing me for no reason and isolating me from my friends. She never really gave me an explanation for the magazine ban except telling me that they were “trash.”  Now I realize why–how do you even put this kind of sexism into words?  How do you explain to a nine year old that magazines are just money-makers that exploit young girls and give them unnecessary body issues?  You don’t, I think.  It’s too complicated to understand.

But I get it now.  It took me a long time, and one amazing Northwestern class with Professor Kirsten Pike called “Girls Media Culture” to really understand.  After years of hearing “No” from my mother, I finally saw the positivity.  Suddenly, all of that once-perceived negativity brilliantly transformed into a very close relationship with my mother.  Instead of holding a grudge, I held unparalleled respect for my mother.

These days, when I see a young woman with fake skin, hair, eyes, and body (which is quite often–I love house music), I cringe. But most of all, I wonder what her mother is like.  Did she ever pass on this knowledge to her daughter?  Did she ever care to tell her that she doesn’t need makeup to be beautiful, and in fact, she doesn’t even need to be beautiful?

More so, when I see a guy with a young woman who is like this, or a young man who is disrespectful of women in general (read: bro), I wonder about HIS mother and what kind of lessons she bestowed upon her son.

Women may have less power due to the media, but we do have the power of giving life.  We have the power of raising life, and raising our children to defy expectations, improve the quality of our lives, and fight back against inequalities all over the world.  We have the power of infinite influence.

And honestly, if every woman in this world was as brave as my mother Susan, sexism would not be an issue.  And I work in the film industry, and I want to change the world.

My mother was willing to put up with me hating her for years on the off-chance that I would have a shield against this disgusting sell-out media world that is pushed in young men and young women’s faces every minute, every hour, every day.  My mother has bigger balls than any man I know. Thanks Mom.

Mothers all over the world: can you do the same?

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Interactive Website of the Week: NAWLZ

This webby award winning interactive comic called NAWLZ takes you on a trip through the cerebral technology-dominated future.  Kind of abstract but it keeps you clicking along, and the interactive graphics suit the cyborg-like content pretty well.  So far I gather it’s about imagining whales in a whale-less future (THANKS Japan*).

*scroll down for rants on Japan

Play out NAWLZ here! (reminds me of Narwhals, wonder if it that’s the title’s origin)

*I love Japanese culture.  But while we’re talking about needlessly killing intelligent mammals: watch The Cove to get educated on what Japan’s government is allowing its fisherman to do.  Here’s a picture of it, not for the faint of heart mind you)

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The Pirate Bay Issues Press Release on SOPA

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INTERNETS, 18th of January 2012. PRESS RELEASE, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.

Over a century ago Thomas Edison got the patent for a device which would “do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear”. He called it the Kinetoscope. He was not only amongst the first to record video, he was also the first person to own the copyright to a motion picture.

Because of Edisons patents for the motion pictures it was close to financially impossible to create motion pictures in the North american east coast. The movie studios therefor relocated to California, and founded what we today call Hollywood. The reason was mostly because there was no patent. There was also no copyright to speak of, so the studios could copy old stories and make movies out of them – like Fantasia, one of Disneys biggest hits ever.

So, the whole basis of this industry, that today is screaming about losing control over immaterial rights, is that they circumvented immaterial rights. They copied (or put in their terminology: “stole”) other peoples creative works, without paying for it. They did it in order to make a huge profit. Today, they’re all successful and most of the studios are on the Fortune 500 list of the richest companies in the world. Congratulations – it’s all based on being able to re-use other peoples creative works. And today they hold the rights to what other people create. If you want to get something released, you have to abide to their rules. The ones they created after circumventing other peoples rules.

The reason they are always complainting about “pirates” today is simple. We’ve done what they did. We circumvented the rules they created and created our own. We crushed their monopoly by giving people something more efficient. We allow people to have direct communication between eachother, circumventing the profitable middle man, that in some cases take over 107% of the profits (yes, you pay to work for them). It’s all based on the fact that we’re competition. We’ve proven that their existance in their current form is no longer needed. We’re just better than they are.

And the funny part is that our rules are very similar to the founding ideas of the USA. We fight for freedom of speech. We see all people as equal. We believe that the public, not the elite, should rule the nation. We believe that laws should be created to serve the public, not the rich corporations.

The Pirate Bay is truly an international community. The team is spread all over the globe – but we’ve stayed out of the USA. We have Swedish roots and a swedish friend said this: The word SOPA means “trash” in Swedish. The word PIPA means “a pipe” in Swedish. This is of course not a coincidence. They want to make the internet inte a one way pipe, with them at the top, shoving trash through the pipe down to the rest of us obedient consumers. The public opinion on this matter is clear. Ask anyone on the street and you’ll learn that noone wants to be fed with trash. Why the US government want the american people to be fed with trash is beyond our imagination but we hope that you will stop them, before we all drown.

SOPA can’t do anything to stop TPB. Worst case we’ll change top level domain from our current .org to one of the hundreds of other names that we already also use. In countries where TPB is blocked, China and Saudi Arabia springs to mind, they block hundreds of our domain names. And did it work? Not really. To fix the “problem of piracy” one should go to the source of the problem. The entertainment industry say they’re creating “culture” but what they really do is stuff like selling overpriced plushy dolls and making 11 year old girls become anorexic. Either from working in the factories that creates the dolls for basically no salary or by watching movies and tv shows that make them think that they’re fat.

In the great Sid Meiers computer game Civilization you can build Wonders of the world. One of the most powerful ones is Hollywood. With that you control all culture and media in the world. Rupert Murdoch was happy with MySpace and had no problems with their own piracy until it failed. Now he’s complainting that Google is the biggest source of piracy in the world – because he’s jealous. He wants to retain his mind control over people and clearly you’d get a more honest view of things on Wikipedia and Google than on Fox News.

Some facts (years, dates) are probably wrong in this press release. The reason is that we can’t access this information when Wikipedia is blacked out. Because of pressure from our failing competitors. We’re sorry for that.

THE PIRATE BAY, (K)2012