Killing Us Softly

Kaitlin Hamilton, c/o 2011

When I was a Salem first year, I was required to watch Killing Us Softly 3 (2000) in my College 100 class. I realized then I’d made the right choice in attending Salem. UNC-Chapel Hill does not require all their first years to watch that particular documentary, but it should.

In Killing Us Softly 3 (2000), Dr. Kilbourne shows how the advertising industry adversely depicts, as well as affects, women through its messages. I am a skeptical person and hard to convince. I am prone to throwing rocks at new ideas and seeing which hold up under my battery of scrutiny. Yet Dr. Kilbourne withstood all my rocks, and I have never regarded advertising the same way. Her message powerfully altered my perspective, and I am forever grateful.

While cruising YouTube a few weeks ago, I discovered Dr. Kilbourne has since created Killing Us Softly 4 (2010). Essentially, she makes the same argument using advertisements from the past ten years rather than the 90’s. I sent the link to my little sister, who is 18 years old and will attend college next year at UNC-Chapel Hill. If her institution doesn’t compel a feminist education, her big sister certainly will.

This time around, watching Killing Us Softly 4 (2010), I was struck by different aspects of Dr. Kilbourne’s documentary.

Since her thesis no longer shocked me, I was able to analyze Dr. Kilbourne’s delivery instead. She is articulate and poised, skillfully rebutting skeptics’ arguments and interweaving interrelated public health issues. No stone is left unturned, yet her transitions are seamless. Her delivery is a masterpiece, a true work of beauty. Further, she does not single out groups for blame, creating a rallying cry rather than an attack.  Her approach is evidence-based, inter-splashed with humor. She is an artful advocate, and I want to be a student of her technique.

I can die happy if ever I deliver an argument with Dr. Kilbourne’s skill. Despite the negatives she highlights in her thesis, she remains optimistic about the future. Simply, Dr. Kilbourne herself makes me optimistic about the coming years. For all her discussion of negative imagery, Dr. Kilbourne herself serves as a powerful symbol of vibrant feminist power.

The Salemite hopes you will take a few minutes to watch Killing Us Softly 4 (2010), ponder, and respond. The links to both parts are posted below.

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