Cultural Studies in the Community

Rachael Keshishian

   This semester, the Cultural Studies minor has been hosting a free cinema series at the Cultural Center for Engagement. This on-campus activity is a way that students are getting involved, learning about societal problems and debating issues that are important both in the local and global community.  This past week the film chosen by the Cultural Studies program was a film called, “Killing Us Softly 4,” that discussed advertising and the way that advertisers use women to sell products.

   Killing Us Softly 4 is a documentary that focuses on advertisements and the toxic nature of advertisements in society today. It specifically focuses on the way that advertisements portray women and the artificial images that advertisements use to make women feel inferior and ultimately hate their bodies. Jean Kilbourne, who has been an outspoken advocate on the issue and says, “The Average American will spend two years of their life watching advertisements and everyone is effected by advertisements, though most people feel that ads they see every day have no impact on them and this is just not true.”

   A keg of beer, a video game, and even an Escalade, are a few examples of advertisements shown in the documentary that turned women’s bodies into objects and was a recurring theme in almost every clip shown. The media and advertisements have changed the way that women feel about themselves and their sexuality.  Advertisements have framed the way that society views women and how women feel about their own bodies. The film argues that advertisements and commercials try to hurt the self esteem of women of all ages, often to the point of eating disorders and even death in extreme cases.

   After the film was over the students shared ideas over pizza and discussed the issues in the film, which related to their own experiences with advertisements. They also debated the larger impact that these advertisements have had on society and in our community. The discussion following the movie was not formal however and definitely did not feel like sitting in class or listening to a lecture.

   When asked about why he thought the community cinema series was important here on campus Dr. David Reznik, assistant professor of Sociology and head of the Cultural Studies department says, “It is important for the community because these are public forums for students to get together and discuss the types of media that they are all watching on their own anyways. It creates and fosters a sense of community on campus.”

   The Cultural Studies minor has been increasingly visible on campus and in the community this year holding events to promote cultural diversity and bring awareness to current events and issues prevalent to students at Bridgewater. Part of the reason that Culture studies has been thriving and growing so rapidly is due to another community organization: the Public Relations Organization.

   Public Relations Organization, or PRO, is a pro-bono public relations club whose mission is to give back to Bridgewater and the community by providing public relations services to local clubs, organizations and businesses. Their goal is to support the community, bring awareness to important issues and get involved on and off campus. Their work with the Cultural Studies department this year has helped strengthen the minor by creating surveys, advertising, planning events and bringing awareness to the minor here on campus.

   The Cultural Studies Program will be hosting one more movie and convocation credit event this year in Bowman 101 on April 15th at 7 PM. The film being screened is “George Washington,” a film about a rural North Carolina town dealing with the issues of poverty and the realities of everyday life.

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