Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising's Image of Women

Jean Kilbourne takes a fresh look at how advertising traffics in distorted and destructive ideals of femininity. The film marshals a range of new print and television advertisements to lay bare a stunning pattern of damaging gender stereotypes—images and messages that too often reinforce unrealistic, and unhealthy, perceptions of beauty, perfection, and sexuality. By bringing Kilbourne's groundbreaking analysis up to date, Killing Us Softly 4 stands to challenge a new generation of students to take advertising seriously, and to think critically about popular culture and its relationship to sexism, eating disorders, and gender violence.

JEAN KILBOURNE, Ed.D. is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking work on the image of women in advertising and for her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising. In the late 1960s she began her exploration of the connection between advertising and several public health issues, including violence against women, eating disorders, and addiction, and launched a movement to promote media literacy as a way to prevent these problems. A radical and original idea at the time, this approach is now mainstream and an integral part of most prevention programs. Her films, lectures and television appearances have been seen by millions of people throughout the world. Kilbourne was named by The New York Times Magazine as one of the three most popular speakers on college campuses.

Filmmaker Sut Jhally Running Time 45 mins Production Year 2010 Language English

PRAISE FOR THE FILM

"When I was a freshman in college, I saw Jean Kilbourne speak in support of her documentary Killing Us Softly—and it quite literally changed my life. It illuminated so much about how the media work and the impact of ads on our collective psyche when it comes to self-esteem, body image and women. I am not exaggerating when I say that it put me on the path to becoming whatever it is I am today (girl advocate, body image activist, and feminist writer). Well, now an updated version of Killing Us Softly is out... and if you have never seen any of Jean's work, now is the time."
    
—Audrey Brashich, Author of All Made Up: A Girl's Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty


Latinos Beyond Reel: Challenging a Media Stereotype

Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, and among the most diverse -- accounting for one-sixth of all Americans and tracing their origins to more than 20 countries. They are also a rising force in American politics. Yet across the American media landscape, from the broadcast airwaves to cable television and Hollywood film, the reality and richness of the Latino experience are virtually nowhere to be found.
In Latinos Beyond Reel, filmmakers Miguel Picker and Chyng Sun examine how US news and entertainment media portray—and do not portray—Latinos. Drawing on the insights of Latino scholars, journalists, community leaders, actors, directors, and producers, they uncover a pattern of gross misrepresentation and gross under-representation—a world in which Latinos tend to appear, if at all, as gangsters and Mexican bandits, harlots and prostitutes, drug dealers and welfare-leeching illegals.

The film challenges viewers to think critically about the wide-ranging effects of these media stereotypes, and to envision alternative representations and models of production more capable of capturing the humanity and diversity of real Latinos.

Filmmakers Miguel Picker & Chyng Sun Running Time 84 mins Production Year 2012 Language English

PRAISE FOR THE FILM

"Latinos Beyond Reel is a comprehensive and powerful exploration of stereotypes of Latinos and Latinas in American media. Whether one dimensional representations are in film, cartoons, television shows, or in news the documentary makes clear that the effects are powerful, not only on Latinos but also on other populations' perceptions of Latinos. By examining both historical and contemporary representations, animated or actual, the film shows how stereotypes go beyond the symbolic realm and can harm the minds and bodies of Latinos, particularly children."

—Debra Merskin, Ph.D., Professor of Communication at the University of Oregon | Author of Media, Minorities, and Meaning: A Critical Introduction


The Mean World Syndrome: Media Violence & The Cultivation of Fear

For years, debates have raged among scholars, politicians, and concerned parents about the effects of media violence on viewers. Too often these debates have descended into simplistic battles between those who claim that media messages directly cause violence and those who argue that activists exaggerate the impact of media exposure altogether. The Mean World Syndrome, based on the groundbreaking work of media scholar George Gerbner, urges us to think about media effects in more nuanced ways. Ranging from Hollywood movies and prime-time dramas to reality programming and the local news, the film examines how media violence forms a pervasive cultural environment that cultivates in heavy viewers, especially, a heightened state of insecurity, exaggerated perceptions of risk and danger, and a fear-driven propensity for hard-line political solutions to social problems. A provocative and accessible introduction to cultivation analysis, media effects research, and the subject of media influence and media violence more generally.

Filmmaker Jeremy Earp Running Time 51 mins Production Year 2010 Language English

PRAISE FOR THE FILM

"Students in my classes respond very well to The Mean World Syndrome. This film effectively places cultivation analysis into the context of earlier media effects research, addresses television's contribution to our perceptions of race, and emphasizes the crucial political implications of Gerbner's ideas. The Mean World Syndrome is powerful and emotionally moving."

—Bill Yousman, Ph.D., Author of Prime Time Prisons on U.S. TV: Representation of Incarceration


Captive Audience

For marketers who wish to reach the lucrative youth market, the relatively uncluttered medium of the school environment represents the final frontier -- access to a captive audience of millions of students. Meanwhile dwindling federal, state, and local funding for education has left many schools vulnerable to the advertiser's pitch. As a result, commercialism has steadily increased in America's public schools in recent years, often with little or no public awareness. 

Captive Audience examines this growing phenomenon through numerous examples of in-school advertising; interviews with teachers, students, parents, and activists; and a case study of community action to oppose an exclusive soda contract in the Pittsburgh school district. Media scholars and critics -- including Alex Molnar, Professor of Education Policy, Arizona State University; Henry Giroux, Professor in Secondary Education, Pennsylvania State University; No Logo author Naomi Klein; and Bill Hoynes, Professor and Chair of Sociology, Vassar College -- offer a broad look at the issues at stake. 

Captive Audience is a compelling expose of the transformation of classrooms, hallways, cafeterias, and textbooks into advertising vehicles. It explores how education is short-changed and democracy is at risk when schools become marketplaces and commercialism goes to the head of the class. 

Filmmaker Sut Jhally Running Time 45 mins Production Year 2003 Language English

PRAISE FOR THE FILM

"Captive Audience does much more than map the various forms that school commercialism takes. It makes a powerful case that the real danger posed by commercialism is that students are principally being made into consumers rather than citizens capable of understanding and participating in democracy. . . an utterly essential resource for those concerned about the future of schooling."

- Kenneth Saltman | Depaul University


Tough Guise: Violence, Media & the Crisis of Masculinity

Acclaimed anti-violence educator Jackson Katz argues that the epidemic of male violence that plagues American society needs to be understood and addressed as part of a much larger cultural crisis in masculinity. Whether he's looking at bullying and school shootings or gay bashing, sexual assault, and violence against women, Katz makes a powerful case that male violence, misogyny, and homophobia are inextricably linked to how we define manhood as a culture. The film gives special attention to how American media have glamorized increasingly regressive and violence masculine ideals in the face of mounting social and economic threats to traditional white male heterosexual authority. Katz's innovative cultural approach to gender violence prevention has been adopted by the NFL, the NCAA, and the U.S. Marine Corps. 

Filmmaker Sut Jhally Running Time 82 mins Production Year 1999 Language English

PRAISE FOR THE FILM

"Violence Prevention begins with a fearless look at the cultural factors that encourage violence, especially school violence. Tough Guise needs to be watched by every high school and middle school student in America."

—Mary Atwater | Violence Prevention Coordinator | Jefferson County, Colorado


Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes

This film provides a riveting examination of manhood, sexism, and homophobia in hip-hop culture. Director Byron Hurt, former star college quarterback, longtime hip-hop fan, and gender violence prevention educator, conceived the documentary as a "loving critique" of a number of disturbing trends in the world of rap music. He pays tribute to hip-hop while challenging the rap music industry to take responsibility for glamorizing destructive, deeply conservative stereotypes of manhood. The documentary features revealing interviews about masculinity and sexism with rappers such as Mos Def, Fat Joe, Chuck D, Jadakiss, and Busta Rhymes, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, and cultural commentators such as Michael Eric Dyson and Beverly Guy-Sheftall. Critically acclaimed for its fearless engagement with issues of race, gender violence, and the corporate exploitation of youth culture.

Filmmaker Byron Hurt Running Time 60 mins Production Year 2006 Language English

PRAISE FOR THE FILM

“A tough-minded, erudite dissection of misogyny and homophobia in hip-hop — in the tradition of Supersize Me – this is the one that has people buzzing, ‘It should be taught in schools!’”

—Scott Brown, Entertainment Weekly


The Illusionists

The Illusionists examines how global advertising firms, mass media conglomerates, and the beauty, fashion, and cosmetic surgery industries are changing the way people around the world define beauty and see themselves. Taking us from the halls of Harvard to the galleries of the Louvre Museum, from a cosmetic surgeon's office in Beirut to the heart of Tokyo's Electric Town, the film explores how these industries saturate our lives with narrow, Westernized, consumer-driven images of beauty that show little to no respect for biological realities or cultural differences. 

The Illusionists features prominent sociologists, politicians, magazine editors, scientists, artists, and activists in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, including: Susie Orbach, Jean Kilbourne, Gail Dines, Susan Linn, Laura Mulvey, Harrison Pope, Nadine Moawad, Ruchi Anand, Paola Audrey Ndengue, Tetsuya Ando, and Jason Karlin. 

Filmmaker Elena Rossini Running Time Full: 54 min, Abridged: 43 min Production Year 2015 Language English

PRAISE FOR THE FILM

"As modern-day life gets increasingly connected to media and technology, it is vital that we understand how corporate marketers shape images of whom girls and women are and how they need to look. These practices make us need to buy, buy and buy more and more and endlessly try to look right but never quite succeed -- because the images we see are increasingly extreme and unattainable. This film will help women (and men) gain some of the resilience they need to resist the most extreme media messages marketed to them that promote consumer culture and undermine healthy gender development and relationships in these times."

- Diane E. Levin | Professor of Education, Wheelock College