There are a lot of familiar faces saying a lot of familiar things in the trailer for writer/director Jennifer Siebel Newsom‘s new documentary Miss Representation — but it is Margaret Cho who slices right to the heart of the issue: “The media treats women like s–t.” Amid misogynistic clips ranging from reality TV to music videos to primetime political punditry, Miss Representation asks a diverse panel of experts and celebrities — among them, Rachel Maddow, Katie Couric, Rosario Dawson, Nancy Pelosi and Lisa Ling — about the skewed representation of women in media.
Some of the most poignant sound bites come from film’s ethnically diverse forum of high school students. When Lisa Ling says, “As a culture, women are brought up to be insecure” we all nod our heads in agreement. But when a 14-year-old says, “I remember in fifth grade, I was worrying about my weight. Now I’m in ninth grade and I’m still worrying about my weight,” it drives home the point in a way no celebrity ever could. Another high school student muses, “There is no appreciation of women intellectuals. It’s all about the body, not about the brain.” Another simply asks, “When is it going to be enough?”
One of the things I appreciate most about Miss Representation‘s trailer is that it doesn’t simply hammer away about sexism; it actually asks how we can change the current trend. Jane Fonda says, “Media creates consciousness, and if what gets put out there that creates our consciousness is determined by men, we’re not going to make any progress.” Katie Couric echoes her sentiment, arguing that we need more women-centric stories: written by women, produced by women, directed by women.
Miss Representation is an official Sundance selection this year. And Oprah Winfrey‘s OWN has acquired the rights to the documentary, which it plans to air this fall. Ro*co films will distribute the documentary to middle schools, high schools and colleges across the United States. In the meantime, you can check out the Miss Representation‘s official site, where you can find locations for current screenings.