Cupcake correspondent Sara Zuiderveen reports from the field:

NEW YORK, Nov. 3 -- The event was titled Bodies in Motion: Images of Women in Film & Video, but Kerry’s concession speech was only a few hours old and the reality of the Bush administration’s victory and all that might mean for the world filled the room with tension and kept the conversation ranging far off topic.  In the end, Hyun Kyung Chung, bell hooks, and Gloria Steinem managed to tie the election results, in part, to the production and consumption of media that is misleading, violent, and exploitative—media that is, as Steinem put it, “killing us.” 

hooks charged the dominant culture with appropriating pieces of racial, class, and gender discourse and then using them to tantalize and seduce us.  Films like Charlie’s Angels, Kill Bill, and even Fahrenheit 911 use our bodies and minds to renegotiate racist, sexist, and classist relationships.  The dissident is censored by her inability to produce something as seductive as the sum of those appropriated and subverted parts. 

The panelists saw hope in turning away from mainstream images, articulating what positive, liberated female identity and sexuality could look like (especially for young women and girls), and creating a competing culture of meaning which values truth and justice. 

The Citizen Project series takes place at Columbia University and is aimed at highlighting the meaning of contemporary citizenship within a cinematic education framework.

Sara Zuiderveen is a writer based in New York. She blogs at A Little More Life.

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