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


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


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


Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood

This film throws desperately needed light on the practices of a relentless multi-billion dollar marketing machine that now sells kids and their parents everything from junk food and violent video games to bogus educational products and the family car. Drawing on the insights of health care professionals, children's advocates, and industry insiders, the film focuses on the explosive growth of child marketing in the wake of deregulation, showing how youth marketers have used the latest advances in psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience to transform American children into one of the most powerful and profitable consumer demographics in the world. Consuming Kids pushes back against the wholesale commercialization of childhood, raising urgent questions about the ethics of children's marketing and its impact on the health and well-being of kids.  

Filmmakers Adriana Barbaro & Jeremy Earp Running Time 67 mins Production Year 2008 Language English

PRAISE FOR THE FILM

"Consuming Kids is an invaluable resource for parents, teachers, health care professionals, and anyone wanting to foster children's well-being. This film will be opening eyes and sparking discussion in psychology, media and cultural studies, sociology, health, and economics classrooms for years to come. As a professor of media and children's culture, and as a parent, this is the film I've been waiting for."            

—Lynn Phillips, Author of Flirting with Danger: Young Women's Reflections on Sexuality and Domination


The Codes of Gender

Arguing that advertising not only sells things, but also ideas about the world, media scholar Sut Jhally offers a blistering analysis of commercial culture's inability to let go of reactionary gender representations. Jhally's starting point is the breakthrough work of the late sociologist Erving Goffman, whose 1959 book The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life prefigured the growing field of performance studies. Jhally applies Goffman's analysis of the body in print advertising to hundreds of print ads today, uncovering an astonishing pattern of regressive and destructive gender codes. By looking beyond advertising as a medium that simply sells products, and beyond analyses of gender that tend to focus on either biology or objectification, The Codes of Gender offers important insights into the social construction of masculinity and femininity, the relationship between gender and power, and the everyday performance of cultural norms. 

Viewer Discretion Advisory: This program contains violence, nudity, and sexual themes. 

Filmmaker Sut Jhally Running Time 72 mins Production Year 2009 Language English

PRAISE FOR THE FILM

"Completely engrossing... For a generally jaded viewer such as I, perhaps the best measure of the effectiveness of this work is the fact that it made me see things I hadn't seen before and made me think in new ways about the ubiquitous images and messages that inundate and inform everyday life."

- Gary Handman | Educational Media Reviews Online


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


The Overspent American

In this powerful new video, Juliet Schor scrutinizes what she calls "the new consumerism"--a national phenomenon of upscale spending that is shaped and reinforced by a commercially-driven media system. She argues that "keeping up with the Joneses" is no longer enough for middle and upper-middle class Americans, many of whom become burdened with debilitating debt as they seek to emulate materialistic TV lifestyles. 

Drawing on her academic research, Schor explains the cultural forces that cause Americans to work longer hours and spend more than they can afford in order to participate in a consumption competition with others. The video illustrates with numerous examples how more and more products are being used as social communicators to demonstrate material success. The Overspent American challenges the inevitability of the consumer lifestyle by proposing alternatives to the work and spend cycle that has so many Americans feeling trapped and unfulfilled. The video draws attention to--and ultimately raises serious questions about--the costs (both financial and societal) of relentlessly searching for happiness and identity through consumption. 

Filmmaker Sut Jhally, Loretta Alper Running Time 33 mins Production Year 2004 Language English with Spanish Subtitles

PRAISE FOR THE FILM

"A careful and lively dissection of disturbing social trends. The video challenges viewers to rethink the meaning and value of consumption in a society dangerously dependent on overconsumption."

- Lawrence Glickman | Author, A Living Wage: American Workers and the Making of Consumer Society


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