Feminism and Popular Culture: How Feminist Theory of the 1990's Has Affected Television and Film
Ovink, Sarah M.
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The purpose of this study is to examine the current issues important to nineties feminist theory and to assess the degree to which those issues are mentioned or even present in current primetime television shows and Hollywood films. Hollywood and the television industry are seen as pillars of popular culture. These forms of entertainment, more than any other, inform our interactions with one another as human beings. Folks discuss Ally McBeal around the water cooler and Dawson 's Creek around the dinner table. Students spend hard-won cash on weekend escapes to American Beauty and Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The first concern is to what extent our perceptions of society are shaped by these media. How we see ourselves may be affected by what we see on the flickering screen. Also, we wonder: who makes these images? What societal models do they choose to present? Whose interests do they represent? Is the intent solely to entertain, or is there another message being communicated by the placement of the laugh track? The entertainment industry sometimes defends what it produces with the claim that it is merely reflecting what already exists in our minds and hearts. Popular culture is said to reflect society, but what if the truth is the other way around? Beavis and Butthead were blamed for teaching kids to start fires, and some say Jenny Jones' shock talk show contributed to an act of murder. Odder still is what perhaps is the real truth, that society and entertainment represent two mirrors reflecting each other's thoughts and ideas, on into infinity, containing only a faint memory of reality.