The Oscars and the Bechdel Test

February 15, 2012

It’s been a few years since I’ve checked in with The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies so I thought it would be a good time to look in on Hollywood and see if there’s been any substantial improvement in women’s representations on the big screen.  In this updated video, I go through the 2011 films nominated for Best Picture at the 84th annual Academy Awards and see how they measure up to the Bechdel Test. Keep watching because I also propose a small addendum to help clarify the spirit of the test and provide a solution on how Hollywood can fix the glaring problem that the Bechdel Test exposes. I’ll also address the question, “What about the reverse test?” and I’ll show an alternative test that has been adapted by critics to identify the presence of people of colour in films.  Sprinkled throughout this video I offer a few movie recommendations.

Watch my original Bechdel Test for Women in Movies video.

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** This video is available to be translated into other languages by volunteers like you. Please visit the subtitling page on Universal Subtitles and click TRANSLATE to get started.

Full transcript below the cut

LEGO & Gender Part 2: The Boys Club

February 6, 2012

Watch Part 1: LEGO Friends

In part 1 of my two part LEGO and Gender series, I explored how LEGO went terribly wrong with LEGO Friends and provided a brief history of LEGO’s ridiculous and slightly hilarious attempts to market to girls since the late 70′s.

In part 2, I delve into how LEGO shifted their products from their initial relatively, gender neutral building experience to a more male dominated and male identified one.  The LEGO group intentionally did this in three ways: 1. Marketing exclusively to boys, 2. Producing male identified and centered themes and sets and 3. Focusing on stereotypical boys play scenarios with an emphasis on combat.  The strong focus on boys has effectively kicked girls out of the LEGO club house. Keep watching until the end where I provide a few suggestions to LEGO on how to fix their gender segregation problem.

Watch the LEGO Violence Ads Montage on YouTube

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** This video is available to be translated into other languages by volunteers like you. Please visit the subtitling page on Universal Subtitles and click TRANSLATE to get started.

Full transcript below the cut

LEGO & Gender Part 1: Lego Friends

January 30, 2012

Watch Part 2: The LEGO Boys’ Club

LEGO announced that after 4 years of intensive research, they have finally come up with a LEGO product that fulfills the desires of “how girls naturally build and play.” This new theme is called LEGO Friends and it’s a pink and purple, gender segregated, suburban wasteland populated by Barbie/Bratz style dolls.  Many parents, educators, feminists, and media critics have spoken out against LEGOs attempts to separate girls into their own stereotypical isolated enclave within the LEGO universe.

In part 1 of my two part LEGO and Gender series, I’ll explore how LEGO went terribly wrong with LEGO Friends and provide a brief history of LEGO’s ridiculous and slightly hilarious attempts to market to girls since the late 70′s.  In part 2 I’ll delve into LEGO’s intentional strategy to market almost exclusively to boys since the mid 80′s by developing and marketing sets that are male identified and male centered.  In conclusion, I’ll offer LEGO a couple of suggestions that they can consider when creating and marketing new products.

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** This video is available to be translated into other languages by volunteers like you. Please visit the subtitling page on Universal Subtitles and click TRANSLATE to get started.

Full transcript below the cut

Five Creepy and/or Sexist Christmas Songs

December 21, 2011

You’ve heard them about a bagillion times before, and every December they are played over and over again, yup, it’s the same old Christmas and Holiday songs. But have you ever noticed that some of the lyrics can be just down right creepy? Check out this video for my Top 5 Creepy and/or Sexist Christmas Songs.

NOTE: I include Mariah Carey’s song “All I want for Christmas Is You” only to illustrate the larger overall pattern in mass media where women are constantly presented as “only wanting a man”. Carey’s song itself is not really a huge issue but the larger media pattern is definitely problematic.

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* My earrings were made by Abiquite, go visit her etsy shop.

** This video is available to be translated into other languages by volunteers like you. Please visit the subtitling page on Universal Subtitles and click TRANSLATE to get started.

Full transcript below the cut

Top 10 Best Non-Violent iPhone Games

December 14, 2011

Here is my Top 10 List of favourite non violent video games for the iPhone.  I compiled this list because, while there is a huge variety of different types of video games, the testosterone driven, shoot em up style tends to dominate discussions about “serious gaming” and can feel exclusionary and alienating to a lot of other people who may be interested in exploring alternative forms of gaming. Plus these games are loads of fun to play!

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** This video is available to be translated into other languages by volunteers like you. Please visit the subtitling page on Universal Subtitles and click TRANSLATE to get started.

Full transcript below the cut

Women’s Media Center Social Media Award

October 28, 2011

I’m honored to be nominated for the Women’s Media Center Social Media Award

“As part of this year’s Women’s Media Awards, the Women’s Media Center is opening voting to the public. Cast your vote for one of 27 incredible women bloggers, social media gurus, activists, and new media creators from across the country today! The winner will be honored at the Women’s Media Awards on November 30, 2011 in New York City.”

The list of nominees includes some amazing women who do work to support women’s rights in many different ways.  Women such as Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown, Shelby Knox, Latoya Peterson of Racialicious, Sofia Quintero, Melissa Silverstein of Women in Hollywood, Deanna Zandt as well as many others!

If you’d like to participate in voting, you can read about all the women nominated and cast your ballot by November 15, 2011.

Create Your Own Web Show with Reel Grrls

October 19, 2011

I spent the past weekend at the Reel Grrls office leading a workshop to an all ages group of women and girls.  The intensive two day workshop covered everything from how to research and write a script, shooting video and composition, how to edit with Final Cut Pro, how to do a media literacy analysis and even how to navigate the harassment women face being on the Internet.

The participants created AMAZING videos on a range of media topics from Feminism to wearing makeup.  Even with such a short period of time the Grrls created engaging, smart, funny and socially relevant videos.  I’m so proud of everyone who participated and look forward to many more videos in the future!  You can watch all four videos below:

 

The Meaning of Feminism

Make Up

Media: How Far Have We Come

How Far is Too Far

Geek Girl VLogging Workshop at Geek Girl Con

October 6, 2011

I’m thrilled to be apart of the first Geek Girl Con coming up this weekend in Seattle.  On Sunday, I have two sessions I’m participating in:

Geek Girl Vlogging
Vlog your way to a better tomorrow! Feminist Frequency and Reel Grrls team up to host a Geek Girl video blogging workshop. This introductory workshop covers the basic how to of video blogging from shooting to publishing. See examples of some of the most interesting vlogs on the net with panelists’ critique on the do’s and don’ts of creating compelling online videos.
Panelists: Maile Martinez and Anita Sarkeesian.

Media Literacy, Criticism, and Production
Geek Girls are fluent in popular culture, yet sometimes miss the subtext imbedded in the words and images put out by the media. Panelists will open your eyes to the good, the bad, and the ugly of media and help you to start asking questions of media creators, distributors, and consumers.
Panelists: Maile Martinez (moderator), Anita Sarkeesian, Leah Wilson, Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, Kelsey Wallace, Kjerstin Johnson

 Resources and Recommended Videos below (more…)

I Watched the Fall Premieres So You Don’t Have To

September 30, 2011

[tweetmeme]It’s that time of year again when we get excited for all the new TV shows only to be terribly disappointed that they’re basically the same stories and characters recycled and repackaged. This year’s fall line up has been getting a lot of buzz about how many women-led shows are being created and aired.  While this might sound like a good thing, I wouldn’t get too excited just yet.  Quite a few critics have pointed out that although we might be seeing women’s faces on screen; women’s participation behind the scenes has actually dropped.  To be honest, none of the new shows seemed all that interesting, but my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to check out a few that specifically star women.

There are plenty of reviews out there that do a great job of recapping and analyzing the episodes so I’m just going to offer very short thoughts about the way gender and race are presented and if I think the show is worth sticking around for. (Check out a few observations/thoughts about my process at the end of the post).

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Tropes vs. Women: #6 The Straw Feminist

September 23, 2011

This is the last of a six part series created for Bitch Magazine. Tropes vs. Women explores the reoccurring stories, themes and representations of women in Hollywood films and TV shows.

The Straw Feminist trope is a deliberately created, exaggerated caricature of a feminist that is used to undermine and ridicule feminist movements.  This was probably one of the most difficult and longest videos I’ve made so far, partly because the Straw Feminist is a very complex and twisted representation.  I actually cut out about five minutes of actual analysis to keep the video at a reasonable viewing time.  The Straw Feminist trope has many more facets and MANY more examples but I hope I was able to provide a general overview.

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** This video is available to be translated into other languages by volunteers like you. Please visit the subtitling page on Universal Subtitles and click TRANSLATE to get started.

Full transcript below the cut