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Students discuss ‘Dreamworlds’ and women’s images in the media

11/01/2010
By:

Rebecca Bainer

Special to the Southern News

After a showing of Sut Jhally’s film “Dreamworlds 3,” students participated in a discussion about some of the effects music videos have on culture: de-humanizing women, and ignoring the existence of different sexualities.

Jim Hoffecker of the Men’s Initiative at Southern said the hope of showing the movie was to get students to think critically about the messages portrayed by music videos.

“The audience of music videos are teenagers or even younger and often times at that age you’re looking at things uncritically,” said Hoffecker. “When you look at things uncritically you tend to absorb that information—of course you’re influenced.”

According to SutJhally.com, “Dreamworlds 3” looks at the stories music videos tell about women, with the intent for viewers to think about how these narratives affect culture and attitudes about sexuality.

During one point in the movie, vulgar actions against women depicted in music videos were compared to actions against real women at the Puerto Rican day parade.

“That’s the point that is really dwelled on, and that were trying to get across is that exact comparison with the Puerto Rican day parade,” said Hoffecker. “There is visual evidence

pointing to the fact that people are influenced by this. The women in the Puerto Rican day parade are not enjoying it, not like this dreamworld where they are enjoying it.”

Hoffecker said addressing the violence and dehumanization of women in music videos is important for making a change.

“It’s addressing the violence in the videos,” said Hoffecker, “It’s saying look at this critically, and when you’re thinking of these women, think about people you really, really care about.”

Hoffecker said he was pleased with students’ participation in the discussion.

“We got a lot of people who were participatory,” said Hoffecker. “People were bringing up good conversations.”

Ebony McClease, graduate intern in the Women’s Center, participated in leading the discussion following the movie. McClease said dehumanization is not the only problem music videos portray.

“There is this dominant idea that everybody is heterosexual, and they’re not,” said McClease, “that’s just a fact.”

McClease said that it’s not only music videos that have this bias; she also described a scene from a movie that does the same thing.

“It says a lot about our culture as a whole and it says a lot about the undertone that homophobia is alive and well where we are,” said McClease. “For people that are heterosexual, imagine if you are homosexual, whether it be lesbian or gay and what that does to you.”

Stefanie Suppa, senior media studies major and president of the Media Studies Club also participated as a leader in the discussion following the film and elaborated on McClease’s views.

“What she’s saying is that this form of media completely leaves out the whole idea that there are people that are gay and are lesbians or transgender or bisexual and they’re completely left out,” said Suppa. “They don’t even have any type of voice within music videos whatsoever.”

Hoffecker said students can take small initiatives to get involved in making a change.

“Being involved is very different degrees. It doesn’t necessarily mean the Men’s Initaitve per se,” said Hoffecker, “but being able to look at these videos critically, or even at their friends critically who might say something to someone else.”

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