Pancakes and politicians

MA NEWS PACKAGE: producer/director

This was the final, assessed news package I made, which received a mark of distinction. As the bulletin would be airing on Shrove Tuesday, we chose to do a light-hearted piece on pancake day. In this I acted as producer/director, setting up the shoot, securing contributors, filming and editing the package.

March 2014

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Statement Dogs

MA NEWS PACKAGE – reporter

We decided to make a package on statement dogs as some figures had recently been released that demonstrated the shocking link between the latest Hollywood blockbuster featuring a dog and the numbers of that particular breed being abandoned months after.

March 2014

Voodoo Valentines

Each week on my MA course we were given half a day to film and edit a short news package ready for the university’s 4pm news bulletin. We worked in pairs – one producer/director, one reporter. For this I acted as producer, researching and setting up interviews, filming and editing the piece.

We had heard that a new shop in Shoreditch was offering tailor-made voodoo dolls specially for Valentine’s Day. When we researched this further, it became clear that the theme of “hate” rather than “love” was incredibly popular so we decided to cover the arrival of such a bizarre idea.

February 2014

Business Rates: Taking us for a Ride

Following the Autumn statement, business rates made their way into the national conversation at the end of 2013. I spoke to a number of small business owners in my local area and I quickly discovered a similar complaint. This short documentary, made as part of my MA course, explores the harsh nature of business rates, and their effect on small businesses. As director of this film, I had my work cut out attempting to make a visually dry piece interesting to watch. I therefore looked for unusual and visually pleasing case studies on which to base the structure of the piece and offer a splash of colour.

December 2013 – January 2014

The London Hornets

There are over 160 American Football teams in the UK. In October 2013 the London Hornets introduced the London’s first ever female team. I filmed and edited this video for a website I ran with three others, which catered for those seeking US culture in London. Rather than simply report on the team, I wanted to conduct the interview in a way that encouraged our readers to get involved, offering them all the necessary information to do so.

November 2013

 

 

#salvation #redemption #what?!

This is getting silly now. We’ve all been guilty of a little exaggeration on the tweet front to tempt a few more followers our way. But the Vatican’s latest promise of indulgences for a few retweets is jaw-droppingly shameless.

Photo credit: Creative Commons

Photo credit: Creative Commons

The Catholic Church’s latest attempt to “get with the times” has been born out of its desire to include those who can’t travel to Rio de Janeiro for the Catholic World Youth Day – ironically a week long event, beginning on 22nd July. An indulgence, which reduces the time Catholics believe they will have to spend in purgatory, can be won by attendance at such an event but those unable to travel to Brazil can earn the same reward by following the Pope’s tweets. The Vatican’s desire to include everyone in the event is understandable but this is surely a step too far.

Let’s ignore the religious debates over the existence of heaven, hell and purgatory. Let’s also put aside the right a few old men in Italy have to act as bouncers of redemption to such places. Promises like being able to hashtag your way through heaven’s waiting room is precisely the reason the Catholic Church has lost much of its credibility. It’s this kind of behaviour that threw Europe into several centuries of religious in fighting when indulgences were sold for absurd amounts of money.

Perhaps the Vatican can be forgiven for trying to speak the same language as the rest of us. It has to be given credit for trying to appeal to a modern world. When Pope Francis came onto the balcony I don’t think I was alone in thinking he would be good for the Catholic Church. His pledge to end the corruption within the institution is admirable and his realistic attitude towards the Catholicism’s need to adapt is promising for the religion. But the Church can’t forget that it deals with something out of this world. Just like redemption should be beyond the reach of money, it should also be beyond the scope of social media.

Now that the Catholic Church has followed the crowd to the computer screen, a few mouse clicks rather than hard work and dedication can get you anything you want in life, and now apparently, beyond. #depressing.

A Strong, Independent…Princess?

Disney has played a huge part in all of our lives. Whether we were born in the sixties, eighties or noughties, we were brought up on the classics that have been around for over half a century. The stories have the potential to impact children’s lives as they teach them the supposed ideals and expectations of growing up. Family loyalty is important, making good friends is a must, as is being true to your beliefs, and bagging a hansom prince is always a bonus. Disney’s stories have reflected the interests and illustrated the dreams of the people that watch them since the 1930s.

Photo Credit: Jennie Park, Flickr

Photo Credit: Jennie Park, Flickr

Its prominence in children’s popular culture means that Disney has a certain responsibility to reflect contemporary realities and ideals to some degree. Its portrayal of women, however, is questionable. Despite the the successes and achievements of women’s rights in the last century, true equality is yet to be gained. Disney has barely changed its message on gender roles since the 1930s and it is arguable that the slow pace of gender equality can be blamed upon this.

There are six classic Disney Princesses: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle and Jasmine. Then there are the more recent heroines such as Nala, Pocahontas, Mulan and Tangled. They are all wonderful films and great stories but they all have a common theme relating to their lead female roles – a dependence upon men. Typically women are shown in a position of princess, queen, or homemaker. In the past one hundred years women have got the vote, won divorce and abortion rights and even run the country. Yet we have never been able to shake off the overriding stereotype that a woman’s ultimate goal is to get a man that she can become dependent upon.

Disney’s first animated movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), initially sends a strong message about the female role in society. Upon stumbling across a dirty cottage filled with seven men after being cast out of her own kingdom, Snow White immediately assumes a motherly, domesticated role. Without being asked, she cleans the house, cooks for the dwarfs and tidies up after them. Given that in the 1930s domesticated women were commonplace, Disney can be forgiven for this submissive stereotype. Nevertheless, seventy-five years later, the story has now been remade into a Hollywood blockbuster and the message remains much the same.

That Disney’s first story is still loved after so long is a phenomenal achievement yet the story’s message has not been altered strongly enough to suit today’s understanding of gender roles. Kristen Stewart’s character does send a positive, strong and independent message and thankfully, we don’t see her cooking and cleaning for the dwarfs. Nevertheless, the main sub-plot is about her romance with the Huntsman. Even the evil queen, Ravenna, only gained her power through her beauty and its effect upon men. It’s concerning that, a century later, girls are still being brought up to believe that the only way to achieve anything is to bag a man. By all means re-capture a kingdom and defeat evil, but make sure there’s a bloke waiting for you at the end of it all.

Of course, we can’t blame Snow White’s longevity for the remaining gender inequality of today. We can, however, place some blame upon the way in which Disney continues to pedal this gender role.
The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast were released towards the end of the 20th century, in 1989 and 1991. Consequently, they do have more modern princesses; Ariel and Belle. They are stronger willed with minds of their own thus reflecting the reality of modern society. Nevertheless, they still emphasise compliance and obedience to men: both Ariel and Belle give up their former lives to be with a man who sacrifices nothing for her.

In Disney’s 1992 film, Aladdin, Jasmine is the only female character in the film. The message of independence and defiance against her father’s wishes for her to marry a man she does not love is a positive one. Yet still, Jasmine is shown to be a lonely girl, with no female friends and her only hope of escaping loneliness is to marry a man.

More recently still is Mulan (1998). Fa Mulan displays bravery, agility, skill and determination – all great qualities – but she can only become so accomplished by assuming the role of a man. What’s more, Mulan falls into the arms of Li Shang at the end of the film, completing the story and, apparently, her life.

It cannot be overlooked that many of these films are set in eras when women were subordinate (Mulan is set in China during the Han Dynasty 206BC-220AD). Nevertheless, the issue is that not one of these films has a true female role model encouraging an independence from men. The landscapes change, the eras span over millennia and the characters range from mermaids to warriors, but the consistent, subliminal message is that no matter what they do or achieve, a woman will never be complete until she has a man by her side. The importance placed upon looks and the urgency to get a man is only ingrained further when Disney presents all older, single women as ugly and evil.

Disney is a wonderful enterprise and for a while its films reflected the reality of the society that watched it, just with a little extra sparkle. But it has not evolved as quickly as society has. Many of you will argue that they are just stories and the greatness about them is that they aren’t realistic; they’re an escape. But the fact is, they have influence. Legislation can only do so much, genuine equality has to come from the engrained attitudes of society and the longer Disney – and the film industry in general – continues to promote an antiquated gender system, the harder it will be for real women to realise there’s more to life than getting a husband, preferably a rich one.