BEYOND KILLING US SOFTLY: THE STRENGTH TO RESIST
Margaret Lazarus and Renner Wunderlich of Cambridge Documentary Films have put the punch into political correctness for several decades of stalwart non-fiction, from a feature-length appreciation of Socialist presidential candidate Euegene V. Debs to Defending Our Lives, a muckraking defense of women imprisoned in Massachusetts after killing their male batterers. This time, their enemy is the fashion and advertising media, blamed for turning confident, resilient young girls into unhappy, even suicidal teens with eating and learning disorders.
"You are the first image-based generation," feminist theorist Gail Dines lectures a group of youth, and we see what she means in a scene in which young girls of color sing along unquestioningly to a video of Britney Spears showing off a toned, perfectly exercised lithe body. Will they drive themselves crazy, rejecting their individual looks because they don't match up to Britney's? "It is a radical act not to participate in the culture of body loathing," a clinical sociologist notes. Lazarus and Wunderlich bring together Third Wave feminist Amy Richards and Ms. Founder Gloria Steinem to discuss female bodies; and, of course, there's a learned visit with Carol Gilligan, Harvard Professor of Gender Studies. What do advertisements teach us? "Imperfection," says Steinem, "and the instant need for products to fix us up."