Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Miss Understood

Hello dear classmates,
I feel slightly intimidated by the talented writers we have in this class but it's nice to read such intriguing discussions. This by far my most fun class I've ever had!
My favorite film, or at least the one that caught my attention the most was, Miss Representation. Being a filmmaker myself, this struck a chord inside me that is still humming. Furthermore, being a FEMALE filmmaker, I feel more pressure than I ever had before.
It's always baffled me, even when I was very young, that women and men have certain expectations and roles in life. "It's a man's world", my Mom always says. Growing up I always did "boyish" things, but I never thought it was weird or made me less of a girl, it was just the fact that I liked doing those things; end of story. As I got older, I began to notice how different I acted from the other girls in school, but it never changed who I was. I didn't stop playing sports or hanging out with guys or stop watching "dick flicks" (that one was for you Birchall).
As I get older now, I realize that a lot of my likes are again more "boyish". I ride a ninja Kawasaki bullet bike, I love twisted action movies, most of my friends are guys and my lovely career path is dominated by men. The film, Miss Representation, really made me think about my decisions and why I made them. I never really thought about the whole gender thing with this much scrutiny, I just did and do what makes me happy.
Some of the information was old news, but the accounts from women in the spotlight were a real eye-opener for me. It made me angry. But aside from the emotional feelings that poured out, it made me feel pressure in my field. I knew it was rare to see women in the film industry, even at school I'm the only girl in some of my classes. And even after I asked in the Q&A about what advice they had for female filmmakers, their answers didn't give me much confidence.
Not only is the pressure I feel purely from being a woman, but being a good representer of women. I've always wanted to see more dynamic women up on the silver screen, but very rarely is that wish fulfilled. I feel, more now than I ever, that it is my job to be a good role model for strong, independent women, and I can't wait to get started.


  1. So, I'm graduating from DGM this semester (assuming I pass this and other classes, of course), and I have seen first hand how testosteronic the whole department can be. The students, faculty, and staff are mostly male (I don't know what the break down is, but it seems to be at least 70/30), and I've seen some pretty shocking stuff go down, overtly sexist behavior treated pretty normally.

    So, I guess I'm wondering what your experience has been like in DGM. And does it relate to this film (which I am kinda sad I missed, even if Catfish was really cool)?

  2. "I feel, more now than I ever, that it is my job to be a good role model for strong, independent women, and I can't wait to get started"

    So glad that this film could have that effect for you! That is a perfect example of the power of film and how it can be used to stir emotion in the viewer. You can be the one who stirs!

  3. Whitney,
    In the last chapter of my last book—I think I’m going to quote myself and just paste it in here, if I can find it on my computer.

    “My goal, as a film critic and scholar, is to similarly influence the way films are made and understood. And, as a teacher, I hope to affect future cultural critics, filmmakers and producers, and consumers of popular culture twenty-three students at a time. These students are women and men equally capable of becoming producers of cultural texts. I mean for them to consider issues of gender, sexuality, class, and race as they write, think, watch, read, and spectate. I do not seek to replicate my theoretical background in these students; indeed, my whiteness and heterocentrism may be subject positions they can avoid. Their tastes and interests differ from mine; yet I trust their ability to critically read texts for sexism, heterosexism, and racism when they leave my classroom. Provided with the opportunity to engage in cultural production, they will produce more nuanced and aware representations of race, class, and gender.”

    I don’t have this book at home, but it’s from the last chapter of Dames in the Driver’s Seat, right after I talk about how Tarantino and Lee changed their movies for bell hooks (remind me to tell you all what bell said about that!).

    For me, your blog entry spoke to the exact reason I want to be part of your educational process, to help you see movies like Miss Representation and have you grow in awareness and knowledge. Thank you so much for sharing your response to the film. I can’t wait to see what the culture you produce will do to change the future!


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