The Media And #MeToo

Pamela Hill NettletonArticlesLeave a Comment

First Published in U.S. Catholic, March 2018 The #MeToo movement, launched by activist Tarana Burke 10 years ago, went viral in October after actress Alyssa Milano and other prominent women publicized it, and after countless women (and a few men) published the hashtag on their social media pages to indicate that they had been sexually harassed or violated at some point in their lives.  This is such a common occurrence in the lives of women that few were startled at the sheer numbers of #MeToo postings. Live long enough while being female, and it will happen to you. #NotMe is a movement that will never catch on. What is different this time is that more men are listening, that accused … Read More

Lost In Space – Again

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First Published in U.S. Catholic, September 2018 This Time, The Far-Flung Family Is A Lot More Modern Toss a family onto a deserted tropical island—or, say, an uncharted planet in outer space—and see what happens when all social and cultural conventions and pressures are swept away and parents and children are forced to work together to survive.  That was the story arc of Johann David Wyss’s Swiss Family Robinson novel in 1812, which was made into a film twice—Disney in 1960 and New Line Cinema in 1998. Then the Robinsons were reimagined as being shipwrecked not in the East Indies, but in outer space on an uncharted planet in the Lost in Space CBS television series in the 1960s.  A … Read More

Black Panther and Heroism

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First Published in U.S. Catholic, June 2018 Who gets to be a hero? In ancient Greece, heroes were half god, half human. Comic superheroes followed that classic mold—unlikely, nerdy people with exceptional abilities to leap tall buildings or fly invisible planes, celebrating the potential greatness hidden in mere mortals and making common folk feel as if they, too, might someday rise.  Heroes are products of specific moments in time. Captain America, a WWII U.S. soldier with superpowers, hit print the year of Pearl Harbor. Director Patty Jenkins’ inspiring Wonder Woman shared the same feminist zeitgeist that spawned the #MeToo movement. And, in an era of gun violence killing students in their classrooms and African Americans in their neighborhoods, the Black … Read More

Sally Field, Doris, and Older Women with Younger Men

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First Published in U.S. Catholic, June 2016 Audiences like Sally Field. They really, really like her. And in her new film, Hello, My Name is Doris (Roadside Attractions, 2016), she ispoignantly human, wonderfully funny, and enormously touching. While she is on the screen, which is nearly constantly, there is nowhere else to look. Field is delightful to watch, but what is not delightful to witness is the cultural assumption, central to the premise of the film, that a young man’s attraction to an older woman is ludicrous. A May-December romance in which the woman is December is so socially incomprehensible that a mere hint of sexual energy between a woman of a certain age and a man who isn’t marks … Read More

Madame Secretary Breaks New Ground

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First Published in U.S. Catholic, June 2017 Madam Secretary (CBS, in its third season) breaks bold new ground in media portrayals of women leaders: Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord’s friends, family, colleagues, and even the President of the United States treat her as if, in fact, she can lead.  On television and in film, when women are running corporations or countries, they are often portrayed in ways that reinforce tired stereotypes (and fears) about female leadership. Women in power are cast as unnatural, devious villains (Glenn Close’s Patty Hewes in Damages) or unnatural, icy machines (Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood in House of Cards) or unnatural, brittle witches (Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada). “Unnatural” is the key … Read More

Gilmore Girls: More Than Junk Food

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First Published in U.S. Catholic, December 2016 Oh, to live in Stars Hollow, where crabby but hunky Luke runs the diner, quirky Kirk holds a long string of peculiar jobs, and a single mother and her daughter can be seen as a legitimate and respectable family. On television and in film, single mothers are too often portrayed as hapless victims, struggling to raise children in the absence of a male breadwinner. Media’s single moms live in dismal apartments in gritty neighborhoods, dress like bags of thrift-shop clothing, and seem wearily defeated by life. They have bad posture, bad hair, and bad luck.  In crime shows, they are either slain in a grisly manner in the first five minutes or are … Read More

Anne With An ‘E’ Gets It Right

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First Published in U.S. Catholic, Dec 2017 Judging by the stories media tell us, boys are the only humans perplexed by puberty. Film and television tales of moving from adolescence to adulthood focus primarily on young men, as though girls did not also lurch awkwardly toward maturity. Think of Boyhood, The Sandlot, Stand By Me, This Boy’s Life, Almost Famous, Big, The Summer of 42, Breaking Away. Building a dramatic narrative around what it’s like for a girl to become a woman is rare. When a program or film defines “becoming a woman” as something complex and nuanced (rather than simply having sex) that is even more rare and delightful.  The 2017 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Netflix series, Anne With … Read More

Silencing The Female Voice: The Cyber Abuse of Women on the Internet

Pamela Hill NettletonAcademic WritingLeave a Comment

For a woman journalist in 2017, working on Twitter entails opening oneself to attacks such as: “I hope you get raped” Just Not Sports, 2016 “You need to be hit in the head with a hockey puck and killed” Just Not Sports, 2016 “You are clearly retarded, i hope someone shoots then rapes you” Hess, 2014 The internet is touted as a democratic space in which nationality, class, race, gender, and sexuality are rendered neutral. However, receiving digital media threats of violence, rape, and murder are daily occurrences for female journalists. Internet harassment of women marginalizes their profes- sional presence online, impinges on their freedom of communication, and, in an echo of outdated and retrograde domestic violence attitudes, is minimalized … Read More

Urban Presence

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The Visitation Sisters of North Minneapolis model gentleness and humility while living as a spiritual presence in a marginalized urban community. It looks like just another house on just another block in just another American neighborhood. Tidy hostas line the walkway to the front door, pretty wicker chairs are circled on the front porch, and the doorbell chimes in a familiar four-note melody. The sweet-faced, gray-haired women who answer the door look familiar, too: They might be AARP members, someone’s great aunts, or even just friendly next-door neighbors to anyone in any city. They greet callers with warm smiles and understanding nods, sometimes dispense a lemon bar or a glass of water, and love to hear the news about who’s … Read More