Friday, December 6, 2013

2013: A Golden Age For Women in Media?

This past Tuesday, The Representation Project posted a video titled "How The Media Failed Women In 2013." It quickly went viral and was posted on many blogs and journalism websites, including the popular sites Buzzfeed and Huffington Post. The video accumulated over two million views in its first few days and has finally gotten people talking.

From politicians to the most popular musical acts, we see the negative representation of women strewn all over the media. But I want to be positive and focus on the first 30 seconds of the video and the successes of women in media in the past year.

Hollywood movies are dominated by men. Hollywood thinks that films with male characters, about men, made by men, will do better at the box office. This past thanksgiving, The Hunger Games sequel broke box office records for its opening week, and Gravity, fueled by lead actress Sandra Bullock, tops box offices at $500 million worldwide. Cinemas in Sweden have employed a new rating to highlight gender bias in film based on the Bechdel test. If the movie passes the Bechdel test, it receives an A rating, which means it must have at least two names lead female characters who talk to each other about  something other than a man. Such films that have received an A rating, passing the Bechdel test, are the Hunger Games, The Iron Lady, and Savages.

In the TV world, Orange Is The New Black, featuring an all female ensemble cast, becomes Netflix's most successful original series with excellent ratings, however Netflix refuses to release any viewership data. This year, there was a record number of women nominated for directing at the Emmy's. Of the ten nominees, five were women. Gail Mancuso won for best comedy directing for her episode of Modern Family, the first female win in this category since 1993. Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield also won for best comedy writing, which means that women are dominating the comedy category for the first time in Emmy history. And there's just the success of Tina Fey in general. And let's not forget about the success and popularity of Lena Dunham and her HBO show "Girls." Additionally, Kerry Washington was also the first black woman to receive a nomination for lead actress in almost 20 years.

The Representation Project also lists that 2013 saw the first female anchor team on Newshour, Katie Couric is hired as Yahoo's first female global news anhor, Goldieblox ads go viral, and Malala is featured on the cover of Times 100 Most Influential People issue.

Some other successful and highly influential women in media are the executive editor of the NY Times, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington, among a few others. However, the difference in numbers between influential men and influential women is still incredibly way too vast, and while male politicians are still dictating what constitutes rape and whether abortion should be illegal, and that women should pay higher health insurance while receiving less salary than men, something has got to change.

The Representation Project is a "movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people's consciousness towards change." In 2011, they released "Miss Representation," a documentary about the representation of women in media and power that was an official selection at Sundance Film Festival, as well as seven other film festivals. 

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