I recently read an article on the Huffinton Post entitled How Women Can Save the World by Telling Epic Stories in the Movies. It got me thinking about how things like movies could wield power for change, then I remembered a study came out when I was teaching 20 years ago. There was concern that violent video games, movies and TV desensitize the brain to violence.
How could it not have an effect? The brain reacts like so:
Say you have a banana on the table. You can take in the details — the bright yellow skin, perhaps the occasional spot that tells you just how ripe it is, the withered stem, the ridged places on the peel that run the entire length. See it? Now close your eyes and envision it. See it? Sure you do. If your brain were wired with electrodes to monitor the differences between what was real and what was seen, those differences would be minuscule. The senses interpret everything the eyes see as real. When human eyes and brain reactions were developing in our species, all sights were real. There were no generated images with which to fool the mind.
So what do we have now 20 years after a study about desensitizing young minds with violence? We have violence in the form of shootings at schools, theaters, malls etc. We have bullying so intense and degrading the victim will take their life just to end it. And that’s just about violence. What about social issues that involve girls and women?
I grew up with the female TV stereotypes of the 1960’s and 70’s — those flighty weak-minded or scatterbrained women who were always doing the wrong things, making huge mistakes that she needed rescuing from, or constantly deferring to the man in the household. Is that why I second guess myself all the time? Was I conditioned? Yes, I was. We all were. Find yourself a baby-boomer female and ask her if she feels she’s on top of her game. I’ll bet she says she’s not. And I’ll go one further, I’ll bet she second-guesses herself a lot.
As an author steeped in the world of literature and a mother of a grown daughter, I find the trend in novels aimed at young women appalling. Some of the worst have been made into movies. Some authors have discovered astounding success by creating a niche in directing adult themes at teens as in 50 Shades and Twilight. The part of me that knows this business says bravo for your success.
There’s the other part of me that is completely outraged by your astounding ignorance. Do you understand the lost ground so hard won by women who came before you? This was the best you can do? Is this your best legacy beyond the money? Maybe I’m reaching too high here. A lot of people look at stuff like this as entertainment. Not every novel needs to save the world, mine wont I’m sure. I do believe, however, that if your target is young, your message encased in that entertainment should be a good one.
I’m a woman who grew up surrounded by blatant gender inequality and less opportunity. I’m the mother of a daughter raised in a society that consistently objectifies women to sell products –a society that even takes away a woman’s awesome right to age and be amazing with each gray hair and wrinkle. A society that says what’s on the outside is so much more important than the rest of you.
I applaud JK Rowling for her Hermione. I applaud Suzanne Collins for her Katniss Everdeen. I also applaud George R. R. Martin for his Arya Stark. The themes of these books and others like them say to young women: you’re powerful, intelligent, and competent. They say to young men the women in your life are worth your respect as equals in life. Conversely, the first books I’ve mentioned here and others like them say: you’re nothing without him. Change to keep him. It’s ok to be manipulated and even if you didn’t realize you were at first, now that you know it’s still ok. Take what you want, if she says no, there are a 100 just like her waiting to be used.
GAAAH! OK…temporary end of rant.
Back to my original thought. If movies and TV have “heroines full of valor, keen intelligence, and a desire to change the world”, what impact would they have upon the female psyche and society as a whole? I’m thinking, great things. There have been times in the past where women have rocked the world as we know it.
Tomorrow, the beginning ~ woman as storyteller.
“The loving are the daring.”
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Love Waits in Unexpected Places – Scorching Samplings of Unusual Love Stories https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/333971
A Holiday Anthology https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/374815
Author Gemma Juliana’s blog day.
We have new author pages up and a new November contest with one-winner-takes-all prizes. Read the pages and find the cute little turkeys.
Romance Author Promo Op on my Exquisite Quills group blog. We have Set the Scene in Six: Authors are welcome to share a backdrop or lead-up to a scene from their novel every Sunday. And every Wednesday is First Kiss Wednesday.
Come share a 300 word kiss.
What is, or better who are, Exquisite Quills?
http://exquisitequills.blogspot.com/ An old group of author friends & their new reader/writer friends.
Yahoo Groups: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ExquisiteQuills/
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