The way, in which media represents reality in general and people in particular, often turns out beyond contrived. Sometimes moviemakers decide to push the envelope and reinvent people’s perception of a certain phenomenon or idea; however, in most cases, media repeats what is considered acceptable in the given culture and at the given time slot. However, when the harmful and positive effects of media are evaluated, people’s ability to approach the subject matter with criticism is often left out of the picture. Therefore, while both Newsom’s argument concerning the biased representation of women in media and Gauntlett’s concept of media being interpreted by people from the stance of their own convictions and morals, are flawed at their very basis, as they ignore the age factor or, in more general sense, the audience that the films in question are targeted at.
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Newsom’s idea of media representing a wrong model for its viewers to follow has been haunting the realm of movie criticism since the very era of filmmaking. Indeed, the role models that are represented in movies often define the image of a woman within the society (Newsom 00:13:37). For example, there is no need to stress the effect that The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter had on the United States of the 1980s. It would be wrong to credit the movie for each of the 1980s alterations in nearly every realm of the lives of American women. However, the film has admittedly contributed to building up the atmosphere, in which these changes, including the social (the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case concerning the abortion issue), the financial (EMILY’s List contributing to women’s election into Congress) and the personal ones (the Kolstad v. American Dental Association addressing sexual discrimination) became possible (Ford 8).
Much to his credit, Gauntlett also makes a very valid statement concerning the assumptions are made based on the appearance of elements removed from their context. Indeed, the lessons that most movies teach are related directly to the scenarios described in the films for the most part. Therefore, when transferring the information acquired in the course of viewing the movie into the realm of real life communication, one is most likely to end up being rather confused; the specified phenomenon can be explained by the fact that “assumptions are made based on the appearance of elements removed from their context” (Gauntlett para. 25) by the viewers of movies.
Nevertheless, the above-mentioned assumptions lack accuracy, as they are made for a general audience, whereas movies are traditionally age-specific. Therefore, what seemingly fails to work for an adult viewer (such as the reiteration of a trite concept harmful for women) is most likely to be perceived with a grain of salt by its adult audience. An animated movie featuring a new and peculiar image of a woman, in its turn, will most likely be accepted by young children.
Though both Gauntlett and Newsom provide rather legitimate justifications for their viewpoints, they still make a fatal misjudgment in terms of the impact that movies leave on the audience by missing a range of individual factors, which shape the perception of the media in question. Particularly, the age of the viewers and the environment, in which they have been brought up, deserves to be mentioned. Children and naïve people are most likely to respond to a straightforward message, while adults and a more sophisticated audience in general needs more subtle hints for the message to be implanted into their subconscious.
Ford, Lynne E. Encyclopedia of Women and American Politics. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing, 2009. Print.
Gauntlett, David. “Ten Things Wrong With the ‘Media Effects Model’.” David Gauntlett. n. d. Web.
Newsom, Siebel. “Miss Representation.” Miss Representation. n. d. Web.