For some reason, prejudice and discrimination have always bothered me beyond what's reasonable.
They're my hot buttons, so to speak. Most of the time they take the form of blatantly ignorant words or actions -- racial slurs, unfair treatment of another, the denial of opportunity, those sorts of things.
When I hear or see them occur, my blood just boils. The thing is, though, as distasteful as they may be, they tend to be isolated events.
Of course, there are some notable exceptions to that. Persistent prejudice around impressionable kids can have a lasting impact, which makes it even more unacceptable (if that's possible).
Generally, though, I think such actions are mitigated somewhat by the public scorn of those more educated and/or intelligent. I like to think that's the vast majority of us. At least I'm confident that ball is moving in the right direction. Our society is much less tolerant of blatant bias than we used to be. Granted, the progress is far too slow, but still ...
However, there's another form of prejudice that's much more insidious.
As part of The Antlers support for The Women's Foundation of Colorado, we have two tables at the luncheon on Aug. 3 featuring Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who made the documentary film "MissRepresentation."
This film makes the irrefutable argument that gender bias in the media is both rampant and destructive -- devastatingly so.
Now, I'm not one to buy into conspiracy theories, and I'm not willing to presume malicious intent, but that doesn't make it any less real, prevalent or harmful.
In case after case, this film illuminates the constant perpetuation of preconceived gender roles and values (and not necessarily healthy ones) portrayed in the media, whether that's TV, movies, music, on-line or all of the above.
Just as impactful is the lack of recognition and respect for strong, successful women. In many instances I found myself thinking, "Gee, I hadn't thought of it that way" or "I hadn't even noticed that."
Sadly, the profound negative effect of all this includes young women who won't ever reach their full potential, due in large part to their own diminished expectations. Not only is that tragic for the individuals, but what loss for our society.
Worse than overt bigotry, which can be countered with reason, I'm afraid this subtle casting (and lack thereof) generally just gets overlooked. That doesn't make it any less damaging.
Given the plethora of media that we're all bombarded with these days, it's nothing short of subliminal brainwashing. The fact that it's not necessarily malicious makes it almost harder to take a stand against. It has become so routine that it's usually not even noticed and all too frequently just accepted.
"MissRepresentation" makes a great case why that's not tolerable.
Even if the sinister results aren't intentional, they're every bit as effective in shaping our expectations, and if that's not prejudicial, I don't know what is.
Happily, and somewhat ironically, as one small component of "the media" this film does a fabulous job of raising the consciousness of those who watch it. And after all, that's the whole point.
Rob LeVine, general manager of The Antlers, has served on a variety of community service boards.