Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reel Grrls

Reel Grrls is an after-school program in Seattle, Washington that teaches media literacy and film-making to teenage girls.

In 2009, Video Remix Artist Jonathan McIntosh taught a workshop at Reel Grrls.
Participants were given the assignment of mixing together video and audio from toy commercials aimed at boys and those aimed at girls.

Here's a sample mix from participants Sahar and Diana.  Enjoy!

Sahar & Diana's video remix from ReelGrrls Workshops on Vimeo.

(thanks to Rivqa Berger for sending this my way)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Disney Will Stop Making Princess Movies

Tangled comes out on Wednesday (shhhhhh, don't tell my daughter!).   In case you don't know, Tangled is Rapunzel. 
Except Disney didn't want to call it Rapunzel because they fear they are losing all the little boys of the world to Iron Man and Transformers.

So, two years ago they re-vamped this film and called it Tangled.
Which obviously will trick little boys into thinking it's just like Transformers.  They both start with T!

Also, they added more action. Watch the clip and see if you can't tell who they're trying to appeal to.

Maybe they should have actually called this movie The Prince.  From the clip, it appears to be his story.

Another reason Disney is waltzing away from Princess films: girls, by age 5, no longer want to be a princess. They want to be "hot."

No comment on that one.
Except, you know, this entire blog.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Alex Bogusky Has Left The Building

Former advertising super star Alex Bogusky is thinking things over.
Here he's called a media manipulator, daddy of 21st century advertising for some of the famed work he's done in reinventing companies through advertising. 

But in an interview with author Susan Linn, Alex is not talking about the Burger King Meat'normous sandwich, or Chicken Fries, or that meat-scented cologne, Flame.

"You can't help but deceive a child if you advertise to them because of where they are in terms of their brain growth.... A child cannot understand that someone is trying to sell them something."

"They can't understand persuasive intent.  They don't understand the fundamental basis of advertising.  And that's why advertising to them is inherently deceptive."

What about deceiving men, and the people who love them, with this one:
"a scent of seduction, with a hint of flame-broiled meat."

It's always good to see a creative person choosing to use their power for good instead of smelly, so once he's found his soul it would be so cool if he could revolutionize the company of, say, Broccoli.
And I think the Kidney Bean could use an image make-over, plus accompanying body spray.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Today when I drove to pick Miss C up from preschool, it was raining, the winds were blowing about 40 miles per hour, and anything not nailed down was whipping through the air.  There was a backup of cars, and while some people proudly claim to be first to pick-up, I am in the mediocre middle.
Today I was at the end.

I waited a quarter block away for my turn to pull up, and sitting there I saw this little pipsqueak sprint down the sidewalk and stop short right at the corner.  She looked about 3, a just-turned 3, and was clearly loving the wind.  Her massive backpack nearly touched her heels and when she spun around it showed a quintet of Disney Princesses.  She spun around one more time, looked right at me, then held up her fist and stuck up her middle finger.
It was unfortunate that I'd just taken a sip of coffee because I sprayed my steering wheel, Did she just flip me off?  As if to confirm, she pulled her other hand and gave me the double bird.

The mother, who was jogging behind her, was wearing Betty Boop pajamma pants.  And looked like, well, have you ever had family pop-in on a Saturday morning and you're not quite dressed and then half an hour later you find that you've been nominated to go get some bagels, and then you're standing in a bakery wearing that old nursing shirt that and your husband's long-johns and every one else has clearly bathed?


That's never happened to you?

Your family doesn't do pop-ins?

Well, anyway, the mother looked like she had been thrust into the day before she'd fully pulled off the jammies, and it happens to the best of us.

Then, she sees her daughter standing there with the double-bird doing a sort of victory dance, and all I could think of was that time last summer while at the playground with C, I'd been having a lovely conversation with a mother I'd just met.  And her son and C were playing together, then sharing a snack, then C dropped her snack in the wood chips next to a puddle, and as the mother next to me called out, "No-o-o-o-o," in slow motion, C held up the goods, blew on it, and then popped it in her mouth.
Then, to soothe the distraught mother, said, "It's okay.  It hasn't been 5 seconds yet."  
Those moments where your kid does something that undeniably comes from Your Adult Modeling, and it's not the best modeling, but there it is on display for the world to see.

The mother, still jogging, raised her hand in an attempted spank of her daughter, but the beautiful thing was that the massive backpack provided a full body shield, and no matter what angle she tried, there was no getting to that bottom.  Giving up, she took her daughter's hand, they crossed the street, and made their way down the next block, the daughter nearly blowing away in the wind, the mom pulling at her Betty Boop pants, looking the other way as her Princess flicked off another vehicle driving by in the rain.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sexy Cancer

In today's New York Times Magazine, Peggy Orenstein writes about the new face of breast cancer awareness:
"Hot breast cancer. Saucy breast cancer. Titillating breast cancer!"
Read it here.

Friday, November 12, 2010


"I felt it was a weird thing that every time you ask for a strong female role, it's written in this strange way where it uses sexuality far too much," she explains. "Or it's all about being a woman and beating a man. So it wasn't a surprise to me that the only way to do a strong female role properly was to not have originally written for a woman."
--Angelina Jolie, on playing Evelyn Salt, which was originally Edwin Salt, before Tom Cruise turned down the part.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fries with that?

Researchers from Yale University found that kids are seeing more fast food ads than ever before.

"The fast food industry has stepped up their marketing efforts," Harris says.

Harris and her colleagues analyzed ads aired by 12 chains, including Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC and McDonald's. She found that preschoolers are seeing 21 percent more ads for fast food, and older children are seeing 34 percent more — compared with 2003.

"The numbers are pretty amazing," Harris says.

Re-posted from  For full story, go here.

For some inspiration, though, take a glance at Christina Le Beau's blog, where she recently wrote about banning McEducation.

Today I'm struggling with a little bit of despair.  I don't let myself wallow here too long, but this morning I heard three similar pieces of news on the radio.

And yesterday I took Miss C to the park to play.  There were 7 other little kids, and 5 of them were not overweight, they were obese.  And they were under the age of 8.  They were winded after trying to play tag, after trying to climb a slide, and all their little spirits wanted to do was play, but their bodies were not able to sustain it. 
One by one, each little one ended up sitting on a bench, swinging their legs and kicking at the ground. 
My heart ached. 

I see all these tangent efforts because the root of the issue has not been addressed.

I see parents all over trying to find the best way to talk to kids and educate kids in the midst of this nuttiness.  And there are organizations that serve as watchdogs, monitoring when companies have something really egregious that is being sold to kids.

We can ban selling cigarettes to kids and we can make laws about child seats, and bicycle helmets.
And we can see this incredible evidence mounting, and multiplying, that advertising to kids is really, truly, making them sick in their bodies and sick in their minds.

But still no policy to protect them.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Awards for Most Sexist Media Coverage

First, consider these statistics:

*Women are 50% less likely than men to seriously consider running for office.

*Women are 33% less likely to view themselves as qualified to run for office.

*Out of the 13,000 members of Congress in our history, only 2% have been women.

*Only 31 women have ever served as Governor, as compared with 2,317 men.

Name It. Change It. is seeking to change these statistics.  Naming sexist media coverage is the first step to Changing sexist coverage.

Here at Name It. Change It. we’re sick of hearing more about what women wear than what they stand for – it’s a tired, sexist trope that we see repeated over and over. Yet the Boston Herald took it to new level when reporter Jill Radsken consulted stylists to analyze Green Party gubernatorial candidate Jill Stein’s fashion sense. The title of the article: “She’s a great candidate…for a makeover!” One stylist suggested her hair looked like, “a Brillo pad that’s seen better days,” while another cycled through a list of complaints about her clothes. Nothing about her policy positions. Nothing about her qualifications. Just that she dresses “earthy crunchy’’ and her hair is an, “unmitigated mop.”
The Boston Herald is not alone:
Columnist Ned Cantwell penned a piece for the Los Alamos Monitor about the New Mexico gubernatorial race between Democratic candidate Diane Denish and Republican candidate Susana Martinez....Cantwell can't seem to wrap his head around two female candidates challenging one another's positions, terming that behavior "bitch-slapping." Mudslinging, when done by women, conjured up for Cantwell images of "mud wrestling" instead. “So far these ladies have displayed such lack of class we’re beginning to think, ‘strip down and get ‘er on, gals’,” he added. Sexualizing women candidates and slurring them as aggressive or bitchy for behavior that's termed normal for male candidates is one of the reasons fewer women run for and win political office.
Remember the statistics on Op-Ed pieces (80% penned by men)?

And it's related, indeed, that women are 50% less likely than men to run for office.  Because who wants to step into politics, only to have the lens turned onto her fashion sense?  Or her breast size?

When, oh when, do we dismiss men in politics by immediately ignoring their content and instead go straight to their packaging?
"He's a great candidate...for hair plugs!"

If my friend is right that pretty much "everyone in government is freaking hideous" can we just move on?
Well, I guess we just have to keep naming it then, and working for change.
If you notice your local or national news coverage losing focus and paying more attention to a woman's suit color or hair texture than her stance on The Issues, feel free to name it here.  Call it your good deed for the day.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Will I Be Pretty?

When I was 9 years old, the local YMCA held a lip-sync contest.
It was open to all kids, and my name was the first one on that sign up sheet.
Through a promotion at McDonald's fine restaurant, I owned a record.
It was Whitney Houston's single, The Greatest Love of All, and my older sister and I would play it over and over again, screaming into our imaginary microphones about the children of the future.  We'd leap from the bed to the floor in a flourish, ending with Find your strength in looooooooove!
Self-love!  That song was about self-love!  And how to teach it to the children, who are our future.
Even then, I was preparing myself to blog.

In a swift move of overconfidence, I believed that silently bellowing out this song, passionately mouthing the words, would be the same feat in a gym of 350 sweaty kids as it would with an audience of one sibling.

When it was my turn to perform, and the record was playing, I instead did my best impersonation of a Great Blue Heron: stood on one leg, the other leg folded behind me, foot held by hand.  The hand unoccupied by foot gripped the microphone, held it directly against my lips, which were parched and imperceptibly moving.  If the contest had given points for which kid could remain motionless for 3 minutes and 47 seconds, I surely would have won.  But instead I received a sympathy prize, a bag of candy, sort of like, "We felt embarrassed with you, here's some candy."

I thought of this the first time I saw a spoken word poet perform at a poetry slam.
Like, that lady would have killed it at the Y contest.
No shame candy for her, she'd go home with a medal. 

This is poet Kate Makkai performing at the National Poetry Slam in 2002.
The poem is called, Will I Be Pretty?

Intensely sad.
And powerful.