Kill and Burn Hollywood

A lot of people… haven’t had very diverse experiences. They don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions, without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better designs we will have. ~ Steve Jobs

Is the way women are depicted in the media a major contributing factor to the digital divide for women?

Tech-industry executives say they have an extremely difficult time finding technical talent and that this shortage hurts their company’s performance. They claim to look far and wide, including abroad, yet they overlook the lowest-hanging fruit: women and minorities. The percentage of women in engineering jobs is so embarrassingly low – in the single digits or low teens — that many tech companies refuse to release diversity data. ~ “How to Increase the Number of Women in Tech” by Vivek Wadhwa

An article in The Guardian tells us:
The Big Bang Theory, a California-based comedy that follows two young physicists, is being credited with consolidating the growing appetite among teenagers for the once unfashionable subject of physics.
Academy Award winner Geena Davis has appeared in several roles that became cultural landmarks, including portraying the first female President of the United States in ABC’s Commander in Chief. She is the founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which engages film and television creators to dramatically increase the percentages of female characters—and reduce gender stereotyping—in media made for children.

Geena Davis

At the Makers Conference, Davis discussed the lack of parity in media and its effect on young girls. “The more hours of TV a girl watches, the fewer options she thinks she has in life.”

She asked the MAKERS Conference, “What if unconscious gender bias is a much deeper problem than we’ve ever imagined?” and showed the challenges women face in media. The ratios of male to female characters has been exactly the same since 1946.  In movies, of the characters holding jobs, 81% are male.

Jada Pinkett-Smith did an interview on Katie and stated that “woman should have complete control over her body.” And “that there is nothing wrong with being beautiful.”

Jada Pinkett Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith ~

“There is nothing wrong with being beautiful,” yet according to Dove® research only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful.

According to Virginia Tech, women hold 60 percent of all personal wealth and 51 percent of all stocks in the U.S. And at home, the majority of women (90 percent) still control the family’s purse strings, from stocking up on household items to having the final say on home and car purchases and health care. Yet:

  • There are currently only 15 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies this is less than 4%.
  • Women make up only 3% of clout executives of media, telecom and e-companies.
  • Women hold 17% of the seats in the House of Representatives.
  • Only 34 women have ever served as governors compared to 2319 men.
  • In 2011, women comprised 18% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.
  • Source:

Miss Representation

Taking advantage of the fact that most women do not consider themselves beautiful, the fashion industry, advertising industry and Hollywood have embraced the very difficult to obtain “Thin Ideal,” the concept young girls and women should be unnaturally thin:

A new study shows that approximately 80 percent of all 10-year-old girls have dieted at least once in their lives.
The number one magic wish for young girls age 11-17 is to be thinner.
Rates of depression are the same among boys and girls until puberty, but twice as many women are diagnosed as depressed post-puberty.
In study after study, women consistently underestimate the amount of body fat that men prefer. When asked to predict the figure that men will find most attractive, women consistently choose a skinnier figure than the men actually prefer. The figures women think men prefer are more like fashion models than Playmates… The figures that the men actually prefer are also much closer to the women’s own figures than the skinnier ones women believe that men like. This misreading of men’s desires may encourage some women to mistakenly think they would be more attractive to men if they weighed less.
“Unpretty” by TLC

“Unpretty” by TLC

Never insecure until I met you, now I’m bein’ stupid
I used to be so cute to me, just a little bit skinny
Why do I look to all these things? To keep you happy
Maybe get rid of you and then I’ll get back to me (hey)

Advertising is an over $200 billion a year industry. We are each exposed to over 3000 ads a day. Yet, remarkably, most of us believe we are not influenced by advertising. Ads sell a great deal more than products. They sell values, images, and concepts of success and worth, love and sexuality, popularity and normalcy. They tell us who we are and who we should be. Sometimes they sell addictions.

From Douglas Rushkoff‘s Merchants of Cool we learn:

MTV earned Viacom one billion dollars. So what portrait of the American teenage male emerges from MTV? His critics call him the “mook.” And you can find him almost any hour of the day or night somewhere on MTV. He’s crude, loud, obnoxious and in your face.

Viacom doesn’t listen to the young to make them happier. It listens to the young in order to increase corporate profits.

The media machine has spit out a second caricature. Perhaps we can call this stereotype the “midriff.” If the mook is arrested in adolescents, the midriff is prematurely adult. If he doesn’t care what people think of him, she is consumed by appearances. If his thing is crudeness, hers is sex. The midriff is really just a collection of the same old sexual clichés but repackaged as a new kind of sexual empowerment. I am midriff, hear me roar. I am a sexual object but I am proud of it. I will flaunt my sexuality, even if I don’t understand it.


Steubenville: just a couple of mooks having fun with a midriff?

Jessica Laney

Jessica Laney, 16, was found dead after committing suicide.

Rehtaeh Parsons

Rehtaeh Parsons, a Canada teen who hanged herself after being bullied and becoming depressed over an alleged rape by four teenage boys.

Amanda Todd

Amanda Todd committed suicide. Prior to her death, Todd posted a video on YouTube in which she used a series of flash cards to tell of her experience of being blackmailed, bullied, and physically assaulted.

Audrie Pott

Eight days after allegedly being sexually battered while passed out at a party, and then humiliated by online photos of the assault, 15-year-old Audrie Pott posted on Facebook that her life was ruined, “worst day ever,” and hanged herself.

Mark Cuban, the famously outspoken owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, told ESPN that he would consider drafting Brittney Griner, the 6ft 8in center for Baylor Bears, to his team. Cuban said:

“If she’s the best on the board, I will take her … You never know unless you give somebody a chance.”

According to Jessica Luther’s article in The Guardian:

And thus was born the #GrinerNBA hashtag – which turned quickly into a cesspool of misogynistic and transphobic (“she’s a he!”) comments about Griner (sadly, a common event whenever Griner is the center of the conversation).
This contradiction of not being manly enough and being too manly is especially pronounced in Griner’s case because she is a black woman and faces a particular kind of body policing. Monica Roberts, an activist and blogger, has observed that “the way society is set up, the white woman is considered the paragon of virtue, fertility, beauty and femininity.” Therefore, by default, the black woman is, she argues, a kind of “unwoman”. Griner, like all black women, faces “a never-ending battle … to ‘prove’ that [she doesn’t] fit the ‘unwoman’ stereotypes.”
Brittney Griner

Brittney Griner

Paul Graham of Y Combinator wrote an essay called “Kill Hollywood:”

Hollywood appears to have peaked. If it were an ordinary industry (film cameras, say, or typewriters), it could look forward to a couple decades of peaceful decline. But this is not an ordinary industry. The people who run it are so mean and so politically connected that they could do a lot of damage to civil liberties and the world economy on the way down. It would therefore be a good thing if competitors hastened their demise.

At Startup Weekend New York City: Closing The Digital Divide we will be working on killing Hollywood as a step toward women having complete control over their body.

Get me the hell away from this T.V
All this news and views are beneath me
So all I hear about is shots ringing out
About gangs putting each others head out


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