Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Boarding the Pan Am Soapbox

I have been a sorry excuse for a blogger lately, especially considering how consistent I was earlier this year! But I've still been making progress--mostly in other areas of my life. I'm deep-cleaning my house, and I put my room in an order that I think I can deal with while I live here for one more winter. I also had a highly stressful yard sale to help put away money for the big move. It didn't quite go the way I wanted to--my boyfriend and I argued a lot and the first weekend was the coldest we've had since last winter. But we gleaned about $200 out of it, which is tucked away in my little Chicago tin.

I've also been watching some tv (aka hulu) including my old faves: "Fringe", "Community", etc. I've watched "New Girl" with Zooey Deschanel. What's going on there? It's given me some good laughs, but I'm not sure where that's headed. For example: where did Coach go? I haven't watched the third episode. I hope he's back, but I doubt it. Thoughts? But I've also discovered "Pan Am".
Period tv shows are in vogue lately, such as "the Tudors" (okay, so that's real period) and especially "Mad Men". I think it has been a wise choice for "Pan Am" to ride on the coattails of the latter, using the previously-generated glamor of bob haircuts and beautiful '50s and '60's costumes to attract a pre-fabricated audience. While I haven't watched a whole lot of "Mad Men", I think the role of women is important in both of these shows. In "Pan Am", we are following a small group of women who have found a way around what Betty Friedan calls "The Problem That Has No Name" in her book, the Feminine Mystique. Mid-century housewives were widely reported to be depressed and restless, feeling as though their life was incomplete and they had nothing to look forward to. The Pan Am stewardess was maybe the first of a line of exceptions that would eventually lead to second wave feminism, which makes for a pretty incredible group of people to follow from season to season.

I hope television is on the path toward reforming the way women are represented, that maybe that one scene where Christina Ricci stabs the passenger with a serving fork for trying to get in her girdle is another first in a line of exceptions. I'm afraid that it isn't, because not only has Pan Am's rating dropped 27% this week but media that continues to perpetuate the idea of woman that we all are familiar with. Like this one, from the Spike TV website geared towards men:

Or this one, from Victoria's Secret (for women...?):
Not a whole lot of difference in what the image is projecting, except that Victoria's Secret is working a little harder to show off the bra. (Side note: Nobody's armpits are ever that smooth. Jus' sayin'.) Then there's Dr. Pepper, who has decided that their ad campaign for their new diet soda is...
USA Today says that not only are the commercials for this product saying things like "Hey ladies. Enjoying the film? Of course not. Because this is our movie and this is our soda," and "You can keep the romantic comedies and lady drinks. We're good" but that the facebook page for Dr. Pepper Ten has an app "that allows it to exclude women from viewing content."

I'm totally cool with men being manly and I don't drink diet soda anyway. It isn't the elevation of manhood that bothers me. I love men. I love my boyfriend. I love a shirtless Hugh Jackman.
Nobody has to tell me "sex sells" goes both ways. I just think it's time to find a way to elevate the men that we love without degrading what it is to be a woman. The documentary "Miss Representation" looks into the media's effect on women, how women make up 51% of the population and only 17% of Congress, and how even those women who have made it to the top are degraded. The film is centered around what Marie Wilson, the Founding President of the White House Project says:
You can't be what you can't see.
The media is a powerful tool that can be used to anyone's advantage and, as I am speaking to artists and performers, I'm hoping I can plant a little seed in your mind. It's time something changed. Women don't want to be better than men. We love our men. Our importance is lost without men, as theirs is without ours. We just want to be equal. And as media professionals, I believe we can do something about it. Welcome aboard.

Relevant Links:
Miss Representation website
The White House Project
Topeka, Kansas Considers Decriminalizing Domestic Violence To Save Money: In the comments section, a woman named Melissa L Jacobs has posted a link to a petition.
Eve Ensler's V-Day: V-Day is in February. If you were thinking of hosting an event, it's time to start planning!

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