Review of Feminist Frequency’s Youtube Videos
Anita Sarkeesian , host of “feminist frequency”, a web series on YouTube analysing the representation of gender in TV and film, recently gained allot of attention after she announced that she was planning on making a series of videos analysing the role of women in videogames. She has always had a love- hate relationship with the people of the Internet, but her enemies found this idea particularly unacceptable. She was subject to a mass hate campaign, which she described as a “cyber mob”. She was sent multiple threats of death and rape as well as videos showing her likeness being raped by videogame characters. However her friends responded by donating far in excess of her requested amount to her indie-go-go campaign. The series of videos will now be far in excess of what was originally planned. She talks about her experience hear (http://www.upworthy.com/a-bunch-of-sad-insecure-dudes-attacked-a-woman-and-everyone-got-what-they-deserv ) however I am going to write about her videos that are already out there. All the videos I discuss will be referenced at the bottom of the article.
I personally enjoy her videos. Not enough people recognise how the common themes in our literature, drama and other arts reflect how our society thinks about certain ideas or groups of people. Sarkeesian, whilst I do often disagree with her, gets people thinking about this. I am so tired of the “its just a story” line in response to my concerns about things like abusive relationship patterns shown in twilight being romanticized. She displays this best in the “tropes vs. women” series and I hope her “tropes vs. women videogames” series will be just as interesting.
I was shocked when she applied the Bechdel test to all the Oscar nominees with disastrous results. I had never heard of the Bechdel test before and I am thankful for her introducing it to me.I am not sure about her idea of adding a “60 second” rule to the test, as it would remove the “lowest common denominator” element from the test. The best thing about the Bechdel test is that no one can claim that with the Bechdel test you are being petty or nit picking, its really the least you could ask for.
I also enjoyed her analysis of advertising to children Sometimes I feel like I am the only person in the world who notices not only the disgustingly gendered nature of advertising to children but also the lack of ambition, which is advertised to young girls. Sarkeesian points this out in a blunt no nonsense fashion. I agree with her almost entirely on this point. Companies advertise in a nature that encourages girls to be nurturing and boys to be ambitious offering almost nothing in the opposite direction. I am glad someone with as wide an audience as Sarkeesian is pointing this out, even if many of her viewers are just their simply to make comments like “make me a sandwich bitch” and “tits of gtfo” (Sarkeesian however is impressively effective at removing these and blocking all comments if they get out of hand)
I am not without my reservations with Sarkeesians videos. She has often been accused of “problem hunting” something which I definitely think where evident in her analysis of True Grit and a photo-shoot of the glee cast (I must mention, however that I have never seen true grit). It often seems that she either has a problem that women are being shown in a traditional gender roles or that they’re strength comes from being “like men”. In the latter situation “problem hunting” is definitely evident in my opinion.
She also seems to struggle with complex morality, some thing I am in love with. Whenever a “bad” entity is shown to have “good” qualities she accuses the artists making the film or TV show as endorsing the “bad qualities”. This was particularly evident in her analysis of “the doll house” (I must mention here that I have never seen the doll house). She also seemed to demand allot of transparency from “the doll house” by saying that they “haven’t discussed weather or not this is rape”. It seems to me that it is being discussed simply by the doll house’s presence. This also seemed to translate into one of her tropes vs. women videos in which she discussed “mystical pregnancies” which she believes “reduces women to their biological functions” whilst this can be true, she fails to mention the incidences in which the hi-jacking of women’s bodies is shown as distressing, with a little tweaking this trope could be made into an interesting commentary on women reproductive rights.
Overall I think that whilst feminist frequency appears to have very black and white view of the world and a small dose of ‘never enough’ syndrome (the only media I have ever seen her satisfied with was the first book and film of the hunger games, the first two series of veronica mars, and a terminator spin off- this is since 2009), I appreciate her analysis and I think she brings some important problems to the fore. I would also like to point out that whilst, should you find Sarkeesian a pain, you are entitled to whatever opinion you want, there is NO EXUCUSE for the level of harassment she has received.
Tropes VS Women By Feminist Frequency:
Feminist Frequency on The Oscars and The Bechdel Test:
Feminist Frequency on Toy Ads and Gender
Feminist Frequency on “true grit”
Feminist Frequency on Glee Photo Shoot
Feminist Frequency on “The Doll House”
Feminist Frequency on “mystical pregnancies”