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

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

The House I Live In

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“Addiction is an effect of human unhappiness and human suffering.  When poeple are distressed they want to soothe their distress.  When people are in pain, they want to soothe their pain.  So the real question is not why the addiction, but why the pain.” Dr. Gabor Mate

Ever since I can remember America has had a massive war on drugs.  Millions have been spent to combat this war, laws have been passed, and communities have been changed.  So much has been poured into this war that you would think there would be no war on drugs today.  Truth is the US incarcerates more of its people than any other nation.  Most are serving time for non-violent drug offences.  But how did we get here and why?

Where most documentaries seem to fall short of explaining some of the most important questions, “The House I Live In,” goes beyond to reveal a history that far too many do not know and how our system profits off those we punish.  To say that it investigates drug wars would be an understatement as this documentary does more than that.  It reveals how the war on drugs is really the war on race and probably now the war on class.  What better way than to take all the Americans we don’t need any more, lock them up and make a profit out of them.  Capitalism at its finest.

One can’t help but wonder why these drugs became illegal and how the laws were written.  Back in American history, cocaine, heroin, and opium was once used by middle class white Americans almost on a regular basis.  These ingredients were found in drinks, and medicine and when  someone had a problem with them, they got help and were not punished for their addictions.  Plainly put, it wasn’t a crime.  So what happened, why the change.  Now that’s when this documentary opens the flood gates of information and the past is revealed.  I mean think about it, why those drugs and not tobacco and alcohol? And only recently has hemp entered into a debate on whether it should be legalized.

Hands down, this is one hell of a great documentary.  I would gladly watch it again and again and not because I favour drugs and think they should be all legalized.  On the contrary, I’m a rare breed of individual that thinks its weak sauce to take drugs in order to become or enter into a state, where you like the person you are.  Having smoked pot once, it left me hungry and quiet and couldn’t understand what the whole point to the experience was.  Really, really??  I’m so upset at my current circumstances in my life that I, a smart human being, can’t figure any better solution than to park it on the couch and enter into munchy mode?  To each his own, I don’t judge, I just don’t use.  So rest assure, I am not rating this documentary high because I enjoy getting high, cause I don’t.

Fact is, this is a great documentary and really opens up the discussion on our current laws and how we are falling into becoming a country where locking up our citizens is becoming a way to sustain our economy.

Bully

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Bully is a documentary about a few families struggles with bullying.  With no narration, the camera follows the families on their day to day.  You hear the stories, and see what’s going on and at times you’d wish the camera man would put the camera down and step in.

Although this documentary touches on a very serious issue that many students are facing I felt it fell short of explaining to us the reasons why and the things that a person can do to prevent bullying.  Following some kids around with a camera, recording their day to day is what I can find on youtube.  I personally, would like some commentary, some reasons why.  Has bullying always been this bad?  What can one do to prevent it from happening?   TELL ME!

Hopefully, kids will watch this and learn how their actions affect each other.  Put themselves in the shoes of these character and touch upon how they feel.  Maybe they’ll even start discussions on how to behave better and accept peoples differences.  Only to go out to a world that continues to separate people into groups and pick at their many differences.

What double standard message are we sending our children when we expect them to all get along and accept and embrace those of different race, origin, religion and then have them enter into adult hood just to throw it into the pile of childhood innocence gone?  Will we ever live in a world with out bullying?  I say it is up to the adults, not the children to lead by example to show we are not so different, we are not so cruel and to form bonds of how we are similar and accepting.

Bully makes a good effort, but I found myself getting bored at the tone and overall direction of the movie.  I wish it had done more and dove deeper to explain things about the human psyche that most don’t know about or don’t want to know about.  I didn’t enjoy the documentary as much as I thought I would have.  With no direction, suggestion or solutions, I found myself not caring and less involved then I would like to admit.  I didn’t see light or answers, just a progressive showcasing of bullied kids and what the future may look like for them.