Miss Representation Movie Poster Image

Miss Representation

Earnest, illuminating documentary about women and the media.
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie urges viewers to open their eyes and truly weigh what the media is telling us about women. It takes a critical eye to the objectification of women in the media and examines how they’re diminished when they're "too old" or "too strong."

Positive role models

To help counter many of the included negative/iffy media images of women, the documentary includes interviews with strong women like Gloria Steinem, Katie Couric, and Rachel Maddow, who remind us that there are alternatives to the usual demoralizing female representations. Clips used to illustrate the movie's powerful message show women in positions that undermine other women and those that have them playing second fiddle to men or as sex objects for them.

Violence

Some illustrative clips show women physically attacking each other in TV shows that have them vying for male attention. Discussion of bullying and abusive relationships; some photographs of abuse survivors are disturbing, showing their bruises and wounds.

Sex

Some illustrative clips show women in skimpy clothing, bikinis, or barely there outfits and in sexualized situations. Others show women pole dancing, stripping, etc. One scene includes an ad that shows a young boy ogling a woman's cleavage.

Language

Clips include uses of words such as "f--k," "bitchy," "whore," "skanks," and "moron" -- most of which are directed toward women.

Consumerism

The film examines different media, including commercials and ads, so the products they tout -- like Ralph Lauren and Obsession by Calvin Klein -- are also seen, but not in a selling/promotional context. Logos for MTV, Bravo, AOL, NBC, FOX, Newsweek, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drinking, put in context within illustrative film clips.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this documentary offers a powerful, uncompromising look at how the media trivializes and sexualizes women. It's informative and enlightening and will be a total eye-opener for girls and their mothers. And it could move teens -- both girls and boys -- to re-examine how they absorb the images presented to them. Expect some strong language describing women (including one use of "f--k"), and photos and clips presenting women in sexual (or sexualized) situations, all of which are used to help drive home the movie's message. Note: Common Sense Media's founder/CEO, Jim Steyer, is one of the movie's interviewees.

What's the story?

This documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newsom examines how women are misrepresented -- hence the title -- by the media day in and day out. Drowning in misleading images of women that portray them as valuable primarily for their looks and youth, the film suggests that today’s teens may be growing up with a skewed perspective, one that undermines their intelligence and substantive accomplishments. Grounded in Siebel Newsom’s own personal experiences, as well as those of others -- young and old, famous and not-so-famous -- MISS REPRESENTATION invites viewers to examine gender bias in what we see, hear, and view at the movies, on TV, and on the Internet.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Bravo to Miss Representation for calling into question the way the media -- TV, movies, the Internet -- trivializes women and paints them in subtle and not-so-subtle ways as sex objects. It’s fascinating -- and, honestly, disheartening -- hearing actresses like Daphne Zuniga discuss the pressure to look younger through Botox and plastic surgery, and Jane Fonda talk about getting the message that she’s not good enough.

We rarely get such candor, and what the interviewees say will really make you think (for example, one commentator wittily describes morning talk show pairings as grandfather types and their second wives). And it's discomfiting to hear and see clips of admirable, accomplished women being disparaged, usually by men, for how they look. (One radio host calls former Secretary of State Madeline Albright a "fat hag"!) That said, what's revealed here isn't exactly new. Plus, the connections that the film makes by pairing interviews with statistics sometimes seem overemphasized, the dots too neatly connected. Nevertheless, Miss Representation is an absorbing, if sometimes dispiriting, film to watch. Show it to your girls -- and your boys.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the media shapes our views of women. What messages do you see on TV, in movies, and on the web?

  • How do you think the media's many images of scantily  clad women affect the way that young women learn to view themselves?

  • How do you think the ways women are presented in the media has changed in the past several decades?

Movie details

DVD/Streaming release date:April 10, 2012
Cast:Geena Davis, Jane Fonda, Margaret Cho
Director:Jennifer Siebel Newsom
Studio:Girls' Club Entertainment
Genre:Documentary
Run time:85 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Miss Representation was written by

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Adult Written bylsdgls March 15, 2012

Watch it first!

The movie was good in that it teaches girls that they are more than the sum of their body parts. If you are pro-life and/or conservative, this movie really demonizes you, then tries to make up for it by having Condie Rice interviewed. Also, it makes getting women into positions of power much more important than being mothers and having a family. Aren't both important? For me, the biggest problem is the complete absence of personal responsibility. It shows Jessica Simpson and other celebrities in sexually hyped roles, then blames capitalism! These ladies made the decision to act in these commercials and roles, yet no responsibility is laid on them. Very sad.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byHonolulee March 12, 2012

A Must See

It's not for young children, but especially for pre-teen and teen aged girls and boys, I think it's very powerful. In addition to making them aware of how the media distorts images and expectations or female beauty and socialization, it questions the celebrity culture that seems to dominate right now.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
Adult Written bysuper mello December 6, 2012

EVERYONE should see this film.

This is the best film I have ever seen. It's an incredibly moving experience, even watching it for the third time. I cry multiple times every time I watch it, and it really sticks with me for a long time after watching it. But most importantly, it gets me feeling like I need to get out and change the world. After watching Miss Representation, I understood so much more about the world I live in. As a young female in America, gender plays a huge role in my life. Realizing how gender portrayal in the media affects me gave me the power to take a stand, and take baby steps toward making a difference. I think that every teenage girl needs to see it, so that we can understand our worlds, and so that we feel empowered to not put up with sexism. But it's also really crucial that guys see it too, because guys are just as affected by patriarchy in the media, but probably don't even realize it. Yes, it's a shocking documentary, but the shocking thing about it isn't what's being shown (except for the few seconds of plastic surgery. I closed my eyes.). It's that I'm not surprised by anything that the film shows. Most of it is stuff that we all see every day, but we're so used to it that we don't even think about it. It doesn't occur to us how terribly wrong so much of this stuff is. So, if you haven't seen it yet, grab someone who you can talk to and who can give you a hug, and WATCH IT. Your life literally depends on it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking