Then Again and Miss Representation

Don’t you love it when you read back-to-back great books?  I’ve been on a nice roll lately, and not just with books, but also with movies and documentaries. In this post, I offer two recommendations.  (I will share more in future posts, as well.)

Diane Keaton‘s memoir “Then Again” is beautifully written and very insightful, not to mention, poignant, funny, and entertaining.  Yes, you’ll read about her acting career and her relationships with Woody and Warren and Al, but more, you’ll read about her mother, Dorothy. Much of the book is comprised of journal entries and letters that her mother wrote over the years, so as Keaton explains it, this memoir is really written by both of them.  Keaton, like her mother, kept everything in the recording of her own personal history, stashing every letter and even keeping some of her phone messages. When her mother passed away and Keaton began to pore through her many journals, she decided to weave together a combined memoir, using much of this wonderful source material.  I, for one, am glad she did.

“A poem about women living in one another’s not uncomplicated memories. . . . Part of what makes Diane Keaton’s memoir, Then Again, truly amazing is that she does away with the star’s ‘me’ and replaces it with a daughter’s ‘I.’ ”—Hilton Als, The New Yorker

Miss Representation is a documentary by Jennifer Siebel-Newsom that explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence.  Among the people featured in this film are Condoleezza Rice, Katie Couric, Margaret Cho, Rachel Maddow, Jane Fonda, Gavin Newsom, Rosario Dawson, Cory Booker and others.  It premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and aired on OWN: Oprah Winfrey’s television network.  Since then, it has grown into a movement, with its own action oriented website and a list of educational resources, including the option of purchasing DVDs for K-12 and university audiences.

The term “media literacy” is unfamiliar to many people, which is a shame, given the amount of media saturating our daily existence. Even if we think we’re well aware of media bias and how the mainstream (or as some might call it, the “lame stream”) media works, there is much to learn from watching films like this one.  I particularly recommend it for girls in junior high school, when much of what the media depicts can become particularly impressionable.  You’ll be amazed by some of the statistics this film offers. (It also has a fabulous soundtrack, featuring songs from Metric.)

Click here to watch the trailer. 

To watch the film, you can add it to your Netflix queue, get it through iTunes, or purchase it from a film distributor. You can also look for a local public screening…or even host one of your own.

“A searing critique.” – Fortune Magazine

“Oprah stamp of approval could make Miss Representation the Roger & Me of media reform.”  – Bitch Magazine



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  1. Barbara, like you, I took a couple of courses in college that opened my eyes wider to the realities of sexism in the media and in our culture: Women in Film and Women, Ideology and Work. Raising awareness is key and media literacy is important. I think it’s great that you’ll be watching this film with your kids. And you make a good point about showing it to the men in your life. Absolutely.

  2. Just ordered Miss Representation on Netflix – and will be showing it to my 16 year old daughter as well as my 18 year old son! In college, one of my most memorable classes was Sexism in Sociology. It changed my life. Thank you for sharing a tool that will help the men in my life understand what the “big deal” is.