Friday, April 22, 2005

"Women in Film"

The panel went off this morning without any problems. I opted not to play the part of the male chauvinist pig. The panel was very large and I figured angering everyone just for fun could have resulted in bodily injury. Naturally, Mario Van Peebles was the most interesting to listen to as he was particularly articulate and amusing especially in his stories about his father. What was also intriguing to hear was his anecdotes about raising his daughter in a world where the mass media sends very confusing messages to young people. He said that a game he likes to play with his daughter, called Truth in Advertising, has them looking at advertisements and attempting to discern what is really being sold to them. A lot of us agreed that education in media and culture studies is particularly important today especially for young people. The sooner a child becomes a more active and critical participant in the images and sounds which attack their senses on a daily basis the better. We’re no longer in an age where we can just teach kids to appreciate great books and great art. We have to teach them how to not just immediately accept what is presented to them but to examine it and draw their own conclusions. This is particularly crucial when speaking in terms of “women in film” and how young girls are being taught to perceive themselves and their roles in the world.

Complementing this elaborate discussion of media and advertising, at lunch, I met a nice woman from California named Laurel who is making her first visit to the festival as a sponsor and unabashed Roger Ebert fan. She works in advertising but what was most intriguing about her company is she and her colleagues are trying to develop new concepts which will gear the advertising world toward a system where people can access advertisements as they choose rather than this current system where constant intrusion by advertising is the norm. She mentioned Spielberg’s Minority Report as being very prescient. I recalled the scene where Tom Cruise’s character’s retinas are scanned so that holographic advertisements can be catered to his tastes. It’s not too far removed from websites and pop-up ads that are catered by previous internet activity. Laurel also pointed out that under this system it’s poor people who are subjected to the most advertising because if you have money you can simply pay to have ads removed. Ironic that the ones who have money to spend are the ones with the luxury of not being bombarded with ads telling them what to spend money on.

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