Feminists on Film
From Uma Thurman as a revenging revenant in Kill Bill to Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl halftime show, media images of women continue to play a powerful role in shaping popular culture. To feminists Gloria Steinem, bell hooks, and Hyun Kyung Chung, that is all too rarely a good thing. The three spoke to a near-capacity crowd at Columbia University's Miller Theatre on November 3 as part of "Bodies In Motion: Images of Women in Contemporary Film & Video." The event was the latest in Project Citizen, a series of academic discussions in talk show format developed by TC doctoral student Kelvin Sealey and his advisor John Broughton, Associate Professor in Psychology and Education.
Steinem, one of the most famous names in modern feminism, is a prolific journalist and was the first editor of Ms. magazine. hooks, Distinguished Professor of English at City College in New York, has written on race, gender and the significance of media for contemporary culture. Chung is Associate Professor of Ecumenical Theology at Union Theological Seminary and lay theologian of the Presbyterian Church of Korea. She is an expert on feminist and eco-feminist theologies and spiritualities from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Much of the discussion during "Bodies in Motion" was framed by the outcome of the recent U.S. presidential race, which Senator John Kerry had conceded to President Bush only hours before. "Why does it happen again?" asked Chung, who called George W. Bush "the most violent, woman-hating president in [American] history." Even Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, which Steinem lauded as marking the rebirth of the political documentary, wasn't spared from criticism. Steinem said that the film portrayed a mother as ignorant, "sending her son off to war with no idea that he might get killed."
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