USA, 2011, 85 min
Today’s female teenagers consume more media than anyone ever. Each week, they devour more than 31 hours of television and 17 hours of music: programming pervaded by the message that their value lies more in their fleeting physical attraction than in lasting intellectual or leadership capacities. Miss Representation measures the magnitude of that phenomenon, including the way objectification gets internalized—in a symbolic devaluing of self-worth—inhibiting girls and women from realizing their full potential. Actress, filmmaker and former first lady of San Francisco, Jennifer Siebel Newsom marshals astonishing facts and statistics, supported by provocative stories from teenage girls as well as candid interviews with actors, politicians, journalists, academics and activists (a roll call that includes Jane Fonda, Geena Davis, Margaret Cho, Condoleeza Rice, Nancy Pelosi and Gloria Steinem). Siebel Newsom critically examines recent and stark episodes of sexism and prejudice in the public sphere, including the media’s unbalanced treatment of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin and Hollywood’s ongoing exploitation of actresses and women directors. The accumulation of startling details will leave viewers shaken but armed with a new perspective. A personal narrative woven throughout, reflecting on the recent birth of her daughter Montana, affirms Siebel Newsom’s genuine desire to ignite national enthusiasm for helping to advance the next generation. This is powerful advocacy on behalf of a more balanced portrayal of women and girls across the full spectrum of media we and they so voraciously consume.
This is a Cinema by the Bay film. Special support for this program generously provided by Celeste and Anthony Meier.