Story and photo by Hillary Di Menna
The unmistakable sound of Emily Haines’s voice filled the theatre, two of Metric’s songs being on the film soundtrack, over 400 people gasped at times and laughed at others. Miss Representation was shown at The Regent Theatre at 50 King St. E the evening of Nov. 4.
Popcorn and programs were handed to viewers upon arrival, and inspirational stones were received on the way out.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s documentary began after a cocktail reception, though the bar stayed open for the duration of the film, and after it finished there was a panel led discussion.
The documentary, which premiered at The Sundance Film Festival, focused on the portrayal of women in the media.
Girls Incorporated of Durham hosted the event, with the proceeds of the ticket sales going to their media literacy program.
In attendance were Oshawa councillor Amy England, former mayor of Oshawa, Nancy Diamond and former Oshawa councillor April Cullen. Dan Carter hosted the event.
Before the film hit the screen there were clips of old ads, shocking in their depiction of women. One ad featuring a smiling couple with the caption: “The Chef does everything but cook – that’s what wives are for!” for a Kenwood appliance called The Chef.
Less enraging pictures and facts involved the success stories of Girls Inc, such as raising money for Oshawa’s legal aid centre for women, Luke’s Place.
Katie Couric, Gloria Steinam, Rosario Dawson and Geena Davis were among the famous faces in the film discussing how as Margaret Cho said “The media treats women like shit.”
Startling images of plastic surgery being performed were shown as we were told the number of cosmetic procedures performed on youth 18 and younger have tripled within the last decade. Viewers shook their heads as Girls Inc. shared the fact that only 20 per cent of news stories are about women, and the majority are about the violence inflicted upon them. Gasps filled the theatre as sexist comments were aired through clips of national news programs, or advertisements of mutilated women were shown with the reasoning that media outlets need to shock people to get ratings.
On the panel was Dr. Lorayne Robertson, Dr. Molly Dragiewicz, Pickering Regional Councillor Jennifer O’Connell, Women’s Advocate with CAW Local 222 Eva Guta and Executive Director of Girls Inc. of Durham Yvette-Nechvatal-Drew. After offering their thoughts on the film and its message, viewers were asked to step up with their thoughts and questions. Cullen was the last to speak from the audience beginning her passionate comment beginning with, “This makes me angry. This makes me angry!”
Many were angry. Mothers worried about the future of their children, will their daughters realize their potential, will their sons have the necessary emotional skills despite how television and video games influence them?
Tears were shed and laughter was shared. Despite the future for women appearing bleak there was also hope. Dr. Robertson asked why Durham Region couldn’t be the first to have media literacy programs in school and was immediately answered by a teacher saying, “We’re ready.”