Concentration: Film Studies
The objective was to deconstruct how the portrayal of women on television has changed post-9/11 and with the advent of reality television. Over the past 40 years, American television’s representation of women in programming either through theme or characterization has been a reliable barometer of society’s attitudes towards feminism. However, the commodification of the media, the deregulation of media ownership by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2003 and the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, issued in a movement that would undo much of the progress the feminist movement achieved in changing programming and the depiction of female characterization overall.
This change is evident in the dramatic shift of programming on Oxygen, Lifetime and WE, three women centric networks, after this period. The paper uses the theory of Laura Mulvey, who believes the unconscious of patriarchal society structured film form, to analyze the difference in female character portrayals pre and post commodification, reality television and 9/11. Mulvey’s theory is shown through the “male gaze” characterized as either the fetishistic or voyeuristic gaze. It was revealed that programming on Oxygen, Lifetime and WE did shift from pro-feminist ideals to women becoming more sexualized, objectified and entrenched into the patriarchal order.
The results indicate that women’s value has been absorbed in the belief that women will win their ability to provide pleasure to those looking at them. Women seem to be no longer celebrated for their liberation but for their sexuality. They simply have become a problem that need to be dealt with or protected.
Tamani Wooley graduated from Long Island University Brooklyn Campus in 2011, concentrating in TV Broadcasting. Since graduating, Tamani has worked for FIOS 1 News and is now working at NY 1 as a reporter and a fill-in anchor.