Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Help

Have you had a chance to see the movie The Help yet? If not, get yourself to a movie theatre STAT. This is by far one of the best movies I have seen all year, and I would encourage you to see it. It's still in theaters-- I saw it for the second time this past weekend (the first time that I saw it was back in August).

The Help is a movie that while being fantastic and entertaining, evoked deep sadness in me. If you haven't read the book or seen the movie, I don't want to give too much away- but seeing such racial inequality and injustice depicted, which occurred in the US in the very recent past, is deeply upsetting. (I believe that racism and racial equality still need attention- but this blog is not about that.) I watched the movie and was dumbfounded (yes, I did take history classes and know a lot about the civil rights movement), yet film has the power to communicate in intense ways that sometimes written text does not. I had a thought that I have been having difficulty shaking off. People in the 50's and 60's were treating other human beings in ways that were appalling, unjust and downright ugly. Most people accepted this as the status quo, and didn't see it as ugly and unjust until years later. I immediately started thinking about the injustices that are going on right now in the US and in our world that we might be handling in similar ways.

The one area of injustice relevant to this blog that I've been thinking about (and let me be clear when I say that I am not drawing comparisons but simply highlighting oppression) is the oppression of people as result of the media's influence. While strides are certainly being made, and people are working to expose the mixed messages we see and hear on an hourly basis, I believe that these messages and cultural beliefs have been so deeply engrained in us that we aren't even aware of all the ways we are impacted (and oppressed). I volunteer with young girls and see and hear them do things that baffle me at times. Not because they are inappropriate or ugly to each other, but because they have already adopted fat talk, unrealistic ideals of beauty, etc, even at the age of 8. I recently asked my mom if she remembered whether or not I ever talked about being fat at that age, and she doesn't remember me ever saying anything bad about my body at that point. It seems that culturally speaking, the influence of the media has extended to reach children and those of a much younger age. I believe that technology has created a greater accessibility to media, and that has a great deal to do with it.

I hope that in a decade or two from now, we will have the hindsight to see more clearly the ways that the media has oppressed women. In the meantime, to consider how we might become more aware of these messages (and their deception) is crucial in order for change to occur. Media and technology can certainly be used for good-- the idea here isn't to trash or villainize the media. The idea is to create a healthier, more discerning relationship with it and take steps towards that end. Simply having a conversation about TV/radio ads you see or hear, or unhealthy comments you hear people making is a great place to start. 

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