Sex Sells…But at What Cost?

By: Ebony Taylor 

Ever watched a movie or tv show based in high-school? Think about the female characters. There’s often a character who’s a “school slut” or girl who wears revealing clothing. She is almost always over-sexualized. Reporters have noticed the almost obsessive need to sexualize the teenage experience, especially with Gen-Z. As a borderline millennial myself, I do not think movies and tv shows accurately represent teen life because the film industry has a skewed view of the high school experience. A more recent example is HBO’s Euphoria, a show meant to portray the mind of young teens.  

Although I have not watched the show, many critics of the show feel its objectification of underaged girls is an issue. The Daily Targum, an online newspaper, mentions that Hollywood has a history of setting unrealistic beauty standards, focusing on the women characters’ sexual development. This may have to do with men filling writing and directing roles, and that female characters are being used to appeal to the male eye.

This idea was brought to my attention on Euphoria,  because the writer and director of the show is also male. Are male writers and directors conscious of how they’re portraying women? Those who have watched Euphoria  agree that the show is not shy about displaying nudity. With the numerous sex, nude, and drug scenes, the Guardian writes that younger audiences may be accidental targets. From featuring former Disney costars, attractive models, to a soundtrack made of popular artists, I can see how this show would be appealing to them.   

The main topic of discussion here is to consider how society imposes sexuality on young girls. Media outlets like social media, tv shows, and movies impact girls and their mental health. Sexualization in media suggests that being “sexy” is liberating and powerful. However, when girls are exposed to unrealistic portrayals of girls their age, it can lead to internal conflict, confusion, self-loathing, according to a Verywell Mind article. Not only do media platforms persuade young girls to express their sexuality, but they open a channel for them to do it.  

Due to labor laws, directors may cast women to play the roles of high school-aged girls. I was shocked to learn that actress Rachael McAdams was 25 when she starred in Mean Girls  as a high school bully. The Daily Targum gave an opinionated review that though the sex lives of teens cannot be completely censored, it is a “fine line between sexualizing young women and being informative on how teens view and experience sexual activities.” It can give teens the wrong perception, that what they see (a grown, developed, working woman) is how they should look in high school. Granted, some girls develop more than others in their teens, but these films and shows are setting the bar almost impossibly high for growing girls.  

For social media outlets, there is a negative side to sexual exposure. The American Journal of Psychiatry mentions Nancy Jo Sales, writer of American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, who concludes that social media can reinforce sexism and objectification. Many times, young girls are sent unwanted penis pictures, pressured to send nude photos, or portray themselves in a sexualized way to compete with other girls for “likes” online. It’s not only happening in the media, but in other parts of teen’s life. The answers for why girls’ sports feel that they need to dress in more revealing uniforms, why women who are more endowed and shapely play high schoolers, or why sex scenes can’t be censored and have to be shown repeatedly, can only come from females in the media industry. There need to be more women in the media to stop the sexualization of girls and young women. Female writers, directors, other creatives could help create realistic portrayals of women in the media. Stricter and more protective laws for women can also ensure safety for women of all ages.  

America Ferrara: Latina Trailblazer

By: Jetzel Chavira

America Ferrara is a trail blazing Latina in Hollywood. For over twenty years, Ferrara has been breaking stereotypes on screen and has become a role model to all Latina women. Throughout her career she faces criticism from not only people from Hollywood but also her family. She recalls a time where a family member told her, “Actresses don’t look like you. You’re brown, short, and chubby” (America Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures )

Ferrera always went for roles where the characters that were relatable and it landed her first major roles including the character Ana in “Real Women Have Curves” (2002). Since then, she has been countless other movies and TV shows not only as an actress but as a director and producer. Her latest project, “Gentefied” a bilingual dramedy on Netflix is about a Mexican America family that is being pushed out of their home, Boyle Heights California, due to gentrification.

Ferrera wants to represent Latinos not only on screen but behind the scenes. In her words, “Making TV is hard, period. Making Latino TV by Latinos for Latinos is nearly impossible.” Ferrera continues to fight for basic representation and is continuously fighting for this simple ask.

Image Source: Ryan Lash/TED

Emmy Rossum Had No Shame Asking for Equal Pay

By Ann Varner

Emmy Rossum is the unsung hero in Hollywood right now after she demanded, fought for, and receive equal pay of her co-star, William H. Macy. One of my favorite shows is Shameless. The show is set in south side Chicago with Macy playing a dead beat dad with six children. The oldest of the children is Fiona (played by Rossum) who is truly the center of the show.

When Rossum began the show 9 years ago she didn’t have the equivalent experience as Macy, so the unequal pay wasn’t an issue to her. However, 7 seasons later and after directing many of the shows herself, she decided it was time to ask for equal pay.  Due to the extensive negotiations about her pay, production for the 8th season was put to a halt. Fortunately, Rossum got what she wanted and deserved and is now beginning filming for the 9th season.

While finding articles about her equal pay fight, I was pleased to find that Rossum had major support behind her fight for equal pay, including support from Macy: “It’s show biz’s job to get us for as cheaply as they can – and our job to say no…It’s unconscionable they would pay a woman less for the same job.”

Regarding becoming a champion for equal pay, Rossum stated: “This is across the board in every industry, how women are paid versus how men are paid. And then you take it further, that kind of bias extends not just to gender but to race, ethnicity, religion.”

Emmy Rossum is a role model and exactly who we need to inspire more women in Hollywood and the real world to demand their equal pay.

Tick, Tock Time’s up for Sexual Violence

By Zaquoya Rogers

Last night at the Golden Globe Awards, Hollywood elite strolled the red carpet in their finest black attire. It was no coincidence that everyone chose to wear black. The choice was very conscious as a show of solidarity and support for the Time’s Up Campaign against sexual harassment.  I first became aware of the campaign from a video on social media about a legal defense fund for sexual assault cases. Interested, I researched more. And what I found, I really loved.

Over 300 actresses, directors and writers including Shonda Rimes and America Ferrera, have launched a campaign to help fight sexual harassment. The Time’s up Campaign raises money to fund legal support for men and women victims of sexual harassment and violence. This in itself is amazing, but what really made me get excited for this campaign was that the target audience for this support is working class men and women. The founders described the effort as “unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere.”

Many cases of sexual violence happen amongst regular working class people who do not have the financial resources to take action against their abuser. Taylor Swift stated in her sexual assault case “I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, society and my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this.”

Time’s Up has raised $13 million out of their $15 million goal. I absolutely support this because I believe that celebrities have a duty to help advocate for issues that many people are fighting for. They have the resources, the power and the following to actually make progress towards positive change.