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Archive for January, 2012

This is an article by David Brooks

Op-Ed Columnist:  The New Humanism

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By Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY

Updated 3d 15h ago

328 10

When it comes to movie roles, women tend to be seen and not heard.

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhart appear in a scene from the 'The Dark Knight,' one of 2008's top films, which was part of an analysis of the types of roles played by men and women in motion pictures.By Stephen Vaughan, Warner Bros. PicturesMaggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhart appear in a scene from the ‘The Dark Knight,’ one of 2008’s top films, which was part of an analysis of the types of roles played by men and women in motion pictures.

By Stephen Vaughan, Warner Bros. Pictures

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhart appear in a scene from the ‘The Dark Knight,’ one of 2008’s top films, which was part of an analysis of the types of roles played by men and women in motion pictures.

An analysis of the 100 top-grossing movies of 2008 shows that men had 67% of the speaking roles; women had about half that, 33%.

Men also were far more likely to work behind the camera. For every five male directors, writers or producers, there was one female.

At the same time, female characters were more likely to wear sexy, provocative clothing than men (26% vs. 5%) or to appear partially naked (24% vs. 8%).

The sexualization of teen girls in the movies was the most troubling finding to the researchers at Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at theUniversity of Southern California.

Female teenage characters were more likely to wear sexy, provocative clothing (40%) than other women — even more than those age 21 to 39 (32%). And the teen girls were as likely to appear partially naked as the older women (30%).

Lead researcher Stacy Smith, a communication professor of entertainment at USC, says “the data speaks to an overemphasis on beauty, thinness and sexualization of women at younger and younger ages.”

The study, to be released today, also found that 29% of teen girls were called attractive by another person in the movie vs. 18% of women ages 21 to 39 and 8% of women 40 to 64.

Marc Choueiti, the project administrator, says this sends a message to teen girls that they are “eye candy,” which could affect the body image of some young female viewers.

For the study, researchers analyzed 4,370 speaking parts in the top 100 films from 2008, including The Dark Knight,Iron Man and Twilight.

“Women represent roughly half of the U.S. population and buy roughly half of the movie tickets, but they still represent only a third of the speaking roles in film,” Smith says. “Females are missing in action when it comes to speaking roles.”

Jennifer Stevens Aubrey, a University of Missouri researcher who studies the media’s influence on young people and was not involved in this study, says the sexualization of girls is rampant in films, television, music videos and the marketing of clothing to children.

“This is sending a powerful message that it’s important for girls and young women to be sexual objects from a very early age,” she says.

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I have had numerous discussions over the years with actors, directors, and producers regarding the use and abuse of nudity and excessive provocativeness where women were concerned. It was never about being prudish, it was always about it’s intrinsic value to the film. Whenever I’m watching a film and a well know actress eposes intimate parts of herself, I will always hear comments role throughout the aisle, “Damn, there’s _________ breasts, pussy, etc. It takes many viewers out of the film, out of the part the actress is playing in the film, and into the actresses parts. It is sad to me that Sharon Stone’s career has been reduced to the “pussy shot” in Basic Instincts. Why do I believe this to be true? Test it out. Ask some of your friends, “What do you remember about Basic Instincts?” or, “What do you think of when I mention the actress Sharon Stone?” there is more to this than meets the eye… if you get my drift.

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