Jean Kilbourne made the first Killing Us Softly film in 1979. Now with several books under her belt and Killing Us Softly 4 out this spring, Kilbourne obviously hasn't stopped her activism in media criticism--whether it's following the increased sexualization of children in ads or calling out the alcohol and tobacco industry. Kelsey Wallace spoke to Kilbourne, a member of Bitch Media's National Advisory Board, on the phone about trends in advertising and gender, the state of media criticism today, and Kilbourne's future plans. You can order Killing Us Softly 4 at the Media Education Foundation. This interview is part of our Mad World podcast on gender, advertising, and identity in a mediated world.
Subscribe on iTunes. Download at archive.org. Transcription available here (.doc).
Last week, we had our first-ever Mad World Book Club meeting, and it was great! As many of you know, we discussed Jean Kilbourne's Can't Buy My Love, and everyone had lots to say about gender, persuasion, advertising, and fried dill pickle chips (we met at Bernie's Southern Bistro). However, as many of you also know, most of our readers don't live close enough to meet us in person for pickle chips, which is why we're hosting this virtual version of the Book Club.
You know how every once in a while someone comes into your life–be it in person or in book, music, film, or some other form–and totally blows you away because they're saying everything you've been thinking, but in a way that is smarter and better than you've been thinking it? Like they took what was inside your brain and made it make sense? Jean Kilbourne is one of those people for me. As a young feminist beginning my academic career in media studies, no one hit more nails on more heads for me than she did. I am sure I'm not alone in feeling this way about Ms. Kilbourne and her work, which makes it all the more exciting that her book, Can't Buy My Love, is our first Mad World Book Club selection!
If there is a better metaphor for the corrosive spiritual effects of internalizing the dehumanizing commercial definition of "beauty" than the soul-sickened doctors of "Nip/Tuck," I haven't seen it on TV.