Miss Represenation

Miss Representation

Miss Representation

“The problem today is not the vitriolic words and evil actions of bad people, but the appalling silence and inaction of good people.” – Martin Luther King 

Being a woman all around the world is incredibly difficult, some cultures actually fearing the birth of a daughter to a son. One would assume that being a woman in America would be wonderful especially since we pride ourselves of a democratic fair society.  But being a woman in America is just as difficult now as it was in the past, if not more.  The saying that “its gotten better” is clearly false and this documentary does a great job showing stats of what the current situation looks like as well as how little we as women have progressed especially in leadership roles.

There are many documentaries out there that talk about women’s issues, but this one, by Jennifer Newsom, focuses more on how media is incredibly toxic to men and women and how its attacking many women’s rights.  Young impressionable men and women are constantly barraged with images of women as mere objects here for the satisfaction and appeal to a male audience.  It is no wonder that girls are now entering into sexual activities at much earlier ages, many of them before the age of 12.  78% of 17 year old girls feel unhappy with their bodies and 65% of women and girls have an eating disorder.  Girls are being fed a daily message that you are more valuable for your body and looks than of any other accomplishment you may have.  The theory behind the reason for all these negative messages is one that many have heard too often, power struggles in a patriarchal society and yes, capitalism.

This is a powerful documentary that reminded me of the many challenges I faced growing up.  Even with a small frame I was not immune to the harsh expectations that society had of me.  Instead of participating, I opted out, boycotting all celebrity and beauty magazines and canceling my cable.  Still, I felt the effects from the women around me.  So many of them unhappy with their bodies and always on this mission for this impossible beauty.

There is much work to be done for women’s rights and this documentary shows an area that is not often talked about.  Women must remember that we need to be strong and rise up against these messages.  At an NPR interview, Newsome had some advice for all the viewers who felt the deep desire for change.  “We now have to take the power back. A woman in Manhattan was so upset by a really sexualized ad near the bus stop at her daughter’s high school that she wrote into and called the mayor’s office and the ad was pulled down the next day. And a woman in San Francisco was unnerved by a commercial that really displayed motherhood in a really horrible light. And she wrote into the CEO of Procter & Gamble, and they pulled it off the air. There’s so much that we can do. I mean, we all have so much power. Women are 86 percent of consumers, so let’s use it. Vote with our remote, vote with our dollar, vote with our voice. Speak out when you see an injustice.”

“The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race.” – Susan B. Anthony

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Particle Fever

Particle Fever

“For more than three decades, the Higgs has been physicists’ version of King Arthur’s Holy Grail, Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, Captain Ahab’s Moby Dick. It’s been an obsession, a fixation, an addiction to an idea that almost every expert believed just had to be true.”  Science News, magazine of the Society for Science and the Public

Get ready to nerd out and see a documentary that features the real Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory.”  A quest to find the Higgs particle and the first days at CERN Now physics is not my forte and I went into it thinking, there is no way I’m going to understand any of this, but honestly there was something so beautiful about seeing these genius formulas being written to explain the way things came to be.  The whole thing is actually pretty fun to watch even if at times you feel uneasy at how little you understand about physics.  So much is still left unknown and there still seems so much to explore that the whole thing leaves me in absolute awe.

Not only is it pretty fun to watch, the visuals aren’t too bad either.  Great credit sequence.

Suicide

One of the hardest documentaries I have ever seen.  The graphics are hard to see and there are actually recordings that will send chills up your spine.  This documentary is based on how a suicide effects the lives of those that are left behind.  A debate that I’m sure has existed for a very long time, those a person have the right to chose whether to live or die.  Personally, I don’t condone suicide, but I also don’t believe that anyone should make the choice for you whether you want to live or not.  Granted, I fully support suicide hotlines and prevention organizations, but I don’t think that the victim should be damned and scolded for making that choice.

Everyone deals with pain differently, and some have very tragic stories and I’m sure that when someone is thinking of suicide they’re not thinking, well, I hope she’s got a good carpet cleaner for the mess I’m going to leave behind.  And that seems to be the message that the first half of the documentary talks about, how selfish these people are for running out on their lives and leaving others to clean up after themselves.

For me the documentary took on a more solid compassionate form when they introduced the psycologist who talks about the way the person who has talks of suicide is thinking and why they see no way out.  Also the compassion from the phone operator who talks about how we are very cruel to one another and how that is a big reason for the pain in many peoples lives. To me, that’s how suicide should be talked about, with compassion, not judgement or scorn for their weakness.  All in all, not a bad documentary when it comes to presentation.  I found myself wanting to know more about some of the cases and better ways of prevention rather than how these people were just selfish aholes for leaving the world and not dealing with the pain.  With suicide rates increasing, especially in children, I’d hope that we’d take a moment as a society and see how we influence this pain and find ways to heal.

Suicide rate in the 10-14 age group has increased 150% in the past 15 years

 

A Certain Kind of Death

This unusual but deep documentary takes you to the lives or actually deaths of those who have no next of kin.  What happens to the many who die every year with no one to claim them as family or friend?  The process is long, detailed and at times sad.  Not necessarily a tear jerker, this documentary left me in silence as the thoughts of my own mortality came to light.  As I think about the lives these people encountered, the stories they had, all gone and soon to be forgotten as will probably be the story for many people.   I guess no one thinks they end up like this.  Yes, we all know we die, but actually thinking about the bones turning into ash and all the things one will leave behind.  Leaves you speechless in knowing that one day, you too will have your own box.

It’s A Girl

More females are missing on earth today from gendercide than the combined number of deaths from all the genocides in the 20th century

It’s a girl.  The three deadliest words in the world.

In a world that has been transformed by technology and time, it is hard to imagine that female gendercide still exists, let alone that it is not talked about much.  In this heart breaking documentary we are shown how of little value a girl is in the eyes of the world, focusing mostly on India and China.  Here girls are abandoned, neglected, killed and all to often forgotten.  With a mortality rate of 1- 5 year old girls being 40% higher than boys, it is very obvious to see that the men now out number the women.

How did it get like this?  To me, it all stems from a long and sad history of patriarchal societies that have brought females the title of waste of space, nothing more than a baby maker.  Religions and traditions that prize the male as symbols of strength and power and women as burdens and invaluable. This documentary has some disturbing numbers and graphics that shocks you to your core to know that this is still continuing.  Still I wish it had dove further.  Many subtitles were missing and it seem to fall short as to what could be done.  With such an important topic, I wish this documentary had been a great documentary rather than a good.

Little is said about this tragedy today and we have now just come to accept that this is how it is.  Had they been male babies, we would have never called it a woman’s rights problem but a human rights one.

http://www.itsagirlmovie.com/

The Killer At Thurston High

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Before I begin about The Killer At Thurston High, I want to fast forward to the Columbine School Shootings.  On April 20, 1999, two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, murdered a total of 12 students and one teacher, while injuring 27 additional students before taking their own lives.  This event became one of the worst school shooting in US history.  Before Columbine, I had never heard of a school shooting, to me this was a new phenomenon.  Little did I know there have been many before Columbine, and ofcourse, there have been many after.  With its title as worst school shooting, Columbine also sparked massive debate over gun laws, violent video games and music, school bullying, school subcultures and pharmaceutical anti-depressants.  However, admists all that, I never heard much about the motives, the parents, the history of the boys.  Sure there was some speculation here and there, but I felt the media took to debates on gun control far more than what had influenced these boys to commit this crime.  And since they had taken the one way train out no one could ask them why.  And this is where I’d like to bring you back to a boy name Kip Kinkel, whom after killing both his parents went to Thurston High to commit his crime that left two students dead and 25 others wounded.

By all accounts, Kip seemed to be growing up in a normal American family.  Born in Springfield, Oregon to William Kinkel and Faith Zuranski who by all accounts seemed to be smart, well rounded, loving parents.  There was also Kristin, Kip’s older sister and a sister who seemed to be the child most parents would hope to have, a gifted student and good at almost everything she applied herself to.  Then there was Kip, who seemed to always have problems with learning, so much that he had to repeat the 1st grade.  When this was mentioned I couldn’t help but wonder how this must have destroyed a bit of him.  Then in the fourth grade he was diagnosed with dyslexia and was placed in extensive special education classes.

With an early fascination to armed weapons he’s parents tried to teach him the responsible way of using firearms even though, they didn’t like it.  Before long he had a whole arsenal of weapons.  A part of me thinks, what were these parents thinking, but than I’m reminded that this is America and Americans love their guns, more than they love baby seals.  And when you have a child who seems lost and withdrawn you try to pull him/her out by showing support in their interests.  But, personally, if my child was having troubles adjusting, socially and academically, showing signs of depression and meeting with a counsellor, hanging with the wrong crowd and overall just not exuding the behaviour a happy child his age should be showing, I would never bought him/her a gun.  Might as well handed him a match and told him to light the house on fire.

Tragically, that’s just what they did.  With another disappointing car ride with his father after bringing a gun to school, Kip Kinkel went on to commit his crime.

What lessons can be learned from this school shooting and how it is so similar to the ones that followed??  Is it mental illness, is it bad teachers or bad parents or is it something more?  You can’t help but wonder why he commited the crime and at times you can’t even help but feel sorry for him as you watch this documentary.  The twist at the end is that unlike Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and many others that followed, Kip never got away.  He still remains behind bars, sentenced to 111 years and 8 months without the possibility of parole.

http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2013/04/kip_kinkel_uses_landmark_us_su.html

Tank Man

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tankman/view/

On June 5, 1989, one day after the Chinese army’s deadly crushing of the 1989 Tienanmen Square protests in Beijing, a single, unarmed young man stood his ground before a column of tanks on the Avenue of Eternal Peace. His influence that day became an icon for the struggle for freedom around the world.  Years later, many have forgotten this man and what he stood for due to the heavy censorship and regulation of China’s information.

This is a great documentary that interviews many who were witness this the events that led to the Tienanmen Square protests.  As they recount the events of the protests you feel this wave of sadness of the tragedy that could have been avoided.  And just when you thought the People had lost you see and hear of the Tank Man.  This unknown man who had finally said, enough is enough and stood up against the oppression with his own life.

And now, with the boom of the wealthy of China and the crocked deal the government made with its people, I can’t help but wonder if his stance was in vain.  As the wealthy and middle class have grown and become stronger, the poor have lost their voices working for hardly anything to supply the word with goods.  If Tank Man was here today would he smile at a job accomplished or be dismayed at the direction his country had decided to go in.