Girls Make Media: Mary Kearney, Associate Professor of Film, Television, and Theatre

Girls Make Media: Mary Kearney, Associate Professor of Film, Television, and Theatre


My particular area of interest has long
been how girls make their own media. The world of filmmaking and television
production is dominated by men’s voices. This is not to say that there aren’t
men out there who present girls and women in empowering ways but we are not seeing
enough representations that are actually from a girl or a woman’s perspective. Girls make videos off of their smartphones and use webcams, etc. It’s actually become a really interesting and
prominent part of girls culture, but the disappointing part of all of that is
that it’s not actually contributing to the number of girls who are seeing
filmmaking or working in television production as something that they want
to do as a career. Girls use photography and use videography in their films to
connect with other people. They see it as a form of communication, and really
social networking, social bonding and therefore, don’t see that practice as
something that they can readily adapt to a job or a career. I just truly believe
that our media culture, especially given the kinds of user-friendly technologies
we have today, has the ability of being so much more democratic than it
currently is. I’ve been interested in what I call the “sparklification” of
girls media culture today. From girls wearing sparkly, sequined, glittery
outfits and makeup to also looking at just the visual aspects within film and
television shows that are directed towards girls. Once you pay attention to
it it’s all over the place. So I have been trying to think through not how those
visual signifiers are oppressing girls in some kind of way by drawing on more
hegemonic forms of femininity, more traditional forms of femininity, but
actually allowing girls to experience beauty in a different way. This very
visual component of our contemporary culture is not talked about. There is a
lot more attention to the way in which characters behave or the way in which
stories are being developed. I am really interested in re-energizing feminist
Media Studies and girls Media Studies to focus more on the visual element.
I think the thing that excites me the most about my research is actually being
able to connect it to my teaching. The media industries are one of our dominant social institutions. Media are ubiquitous in almost every aspect of our lives. It’s
imperative that people learn how to critique it and understand it including
understanding its construction, how it’s actually produced. To be a discerning
consumer is number one, but also, to be participatory citizens in our culture. So
I am excited about the possibilities of of growing and developing a more
discerning media public.

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