Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Documentary - The Codes of Gender: Identity and Peformance in Pop Culture

This is an edited version (for nudity and length) of a slightly longer documentary (full version here) applying the sociological theories of Erving Goffman to the most ubiquitous (and powerful?) form of gender-norming in our culture, commercials and advertising (as well as films and TV). Here is the filmmaker's statement about their work, from their website (credit where credit is due, I first found this film at Top Documentary Films):

Codes of Gender, The Identity and Performance in Pop Culture

Written and directed by MEF Executive Director Sut Jhally, The Codes of Gender applies the late sociologist Erving Goffman's groundbreaking analysis of advertising to the contemporary commercial landscape, showing how one of American popular culture's most influential forms communicates normative ideas about masculinity and femininity.

In striking visual detail, The Codes of Gender explores Goffman's central claim that gender ideals are the result of ritualized cultural performance, uncovering a remarkable pattern of masculine and feminine displays and poses. It looks beyond advertising as a medium that simply sells products, and beyond analyses of gender that focus on biological difference or issues of objectification and beauty, to provide a clear-eyed view of the two-tiered terrain of identity and power relations.

With its sustained focus on how our perceptions of what it means to be a man or a woman get reproduced and reinforced on the level of culture in our everyday lives, The Codes of Gender is certain to inspire discussion and debate across a range of disciplines.

Viewer Discretion Advisory: This program contains violence, nudity, and sexual themes.

DVD contains two versions: a full length version (73 minutes) and an abridged version (46 minutes) which has been edited for nudity and length.

Sections: Sex and Gender | The Feminine Touch | The Ritualization of Subordination | Licensed Withdrawal | Infantilization | The Codes of Masculinity | Trapped in the Code | History, Power, and Gender Display

You can read Goffman's analysis of advertising and gender on Scribd. Granted, this is an extreme reading of cultural images, but there is more truth to this than not, in my opinion.

Whether you agree with this reading of gender-norming or not, there is much in this documentary (and I have only seen the edited version included here) to inspire thought and discussion.

No comments: