Thank goodness Madison Avenue has finally realized that older women spend money, and that they aren't inspired to buy products modeled by 17-year-old girls. Does this mean that we are going to see more films about, written, directed and/or produced by women? We can hope so. But what is clear is that advertisers follow the money, and what women with money are telling them through their purchases is that they aren't buying into the youth-obsessed market anymore. Their dollars are talking loudly enough to make Madison Avenue sit up and take notice, and it's about time.
As the writer and producer of Not Dead Yet, a film about older women, I would love to see this new focus translate into funding and distribution for more female-centric projects, because women have never had it easy. I'm learning all about the evils of patriarchy and the violence and oppression it inflicts on women in my Contemporary Women's Film course. Films such as The Ballad of Little Jo, Iron Jawed Angels, Whale Rider, North Country, Thirteen, Speak, and The Dead Girl do a wonderful job of demonstrating how this oppression has impacted women throughout recent history.
But all that male domination aside, money talks. And one good thing about our cutthroat, capitalistic society is that no belief system is more valuable than the bottom line. The same thinking that allows multinational corporations to destroy our ecosystem, perpetuate the belief that women are inferior to men and wreak havoc on indigenous cultures around the world will just as quickly support products and services that benefit women and the people they care for. It just has to be profitable.
So imagine all the political rhetoric we could bypass if we thought before we bought. Instead of just buying/watching what the media pushes on us, we could choose not to fund/watch entertainment that demeans women and encourages jealousy. Advertisers determine what programming gets made based on what products they hope to sell. So if we don't watch, and if we don't buy what they're selling, then offensive programming will cease to be funded. Conversely, if we do watch programming that depicts women as capable, in charge and supportive of each other, while letting sponsors know by purchasing the products advertised, then more of such programming will be produced.
We can write letters, visit websites such as AboutFace.org to participate in their challenge of media messaging, or inform ourselves by reading articles and blogs. It's all good. But just remember, money talks. And I'm thrilled for the woman who is beginning her modeling career at 70 because now opportunities previously closed to me, a woman over 50, will begin to open. I might get to act in another movie because my face still moves and I have wrinkles. Hopefully I'll find funding for my documentary, because it challenges distorted perceptions about history, religion, sexuality, myths, and science, while seeking to balance the masculine with the feminine.
There is clearly a shift underway, and the foundations of our dominator society are finally crumbling. We can speed up the process, and soften the transition, if we become conscious of all that we do. In the meantime, here's to Madison Avenue for realizing that women's dollars count, and may we use our power wisely to inspire even greater change.
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