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Codes of Gender, The

Identity and Performance in Pop Culture

Codes of Gender, The

Duration: 72 min
(Abr. duration: 46 min)
ISBN: 1-932869-39-5
Date Produced: 2009
Subtitles: English

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Praise for the Film

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Codes of Gender, The
Identity and Performance in Pop Culture

Arguing that advertising not only sells things, but also ideas about the world, media scholar Sut Jhally offers a blistering analysis of commercial culture's inability to let go of reactionary gender representations. Jhally's starting point is the breakthrough work of the late sociologist Erving Goffman, whose 1959 book The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life prefigured the growing field of performance studies. Jhally applies Goffman's analysis of the body in print advertising to hundreds of print ads today, uncovering an astonishing pattern of regressive and destructive gender codes. By looking beyond advertising as a medium that simply sells products, and beyond analyses of gender that tend to focus on either biology or objectification, The Codes of Gender offers important insights into the social construction of masculinity and femininity, the relationship between gender and power, and the everyday performance of cultural norms.

Viewer Discretion Advisory: This program contains violence, nudity, and sexual themes.

DVD contains two versions: a full length version (72 minutes) and an abridged version (46 minutes) which has been edited for nudity and length.

Sections: Sex and Gender | The Feminine Touch | The Ritualization of Subordination | Licensed Withdrawal | Infantilization | The Codes of Masculinity | Trapped in the Code | History, Power, and Gender Display

Filmmaker Info

Written and Directed by: Sut Jhally
Editors: Sut Jhally, Andrew Killoy, Aaron Vega
Motion Graphics: Andrew Killoy
Script Editor: Jeremy Earp
Media Research: Loretta Alper
Additional Media Research: Scott Morris
Camera: David Rabinovitz
Audio Recording: Andrew Killoy
Sound Engineer: Rikk Desgres
Image Retouching: Shannon McKenna
DVD Authoring: Jason Young

Filmmaker's Bio

Sut Jhally | Writer, Director, Editor & Narrator

Sut Jhally is Professor of Communication at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Founder and Executive Director of the Media Education Foundation. He is one of the world's leading scholars looking at the role played by advertising and popular culture in the processes of social control and identity construction. The author of numerous books and articles on media (including The Codes of Advertising and Enlightened Racism) he is also an award-winning teacher (a recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award at the University of Massachusetts, where the student newspaper has also voted him "Best professor"). In addition, he has been awarded the Distinguished Outreach Award, and was selected to deliver a Distinguished Faculty Lecture in 2007.

He is best known as the producer and director of a number of films and videos (including Dreamworlds: Desire/Sex/Power in Music Video; Tough Guise: Media, Violence and the Crisis of Masculinity; and Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire) that deal with issues ranging from gender, sexuality and race to commercialism, violence and politics. Born in Kenya, raised in England, educated in graduate studies in Canada, he currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.


International Communication Association conference | Boston | May 26 - 30, 2011
Eastern Communication Association| Arlington, VA | April 15, 2011
Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference | New Orleans | March 10 - 13, 2011
New England Sociological Association | Durham, NH | November 6, 2010
Southwestern Sociological Association annual meeting | Houston, TX | April 2, 2010
Pacific Sociological Association annual meeting | Oakland, CA | April 8 - 11, 2010
Central States Communication Association convention | Cincinnati, OH | April 17, 2010
Console-ing Passions | Eugene, OR | April 22 - 24, 2010
American Sociological Association's annual meeting | Atlanta, GA | August 14 - 17, 2010
Mid-South Sociological Association conference | Baton Rouge, LA | October 13 - 17, 2010

Film Festivals

Academia Film Olomouc | Czech Republic | April 12 - 17, 2011

Attracting Assault: Victims' Nonverbal Cues by Betty Grayson & Morris I. Stein, Journal of Communication
Gender Advertisements by Erving Goffman
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by Erving Goffman
Ways of Seeing by John Berger

Press Reviews

Educational Media Reviews Online
Feminist Reviews Online
Sex Roles: A Journal of Research

Praise for the Film

"Completely engrossing... For a generally jaded viewer such as I, perhaps the best measure of the effectiveness of this work is the fact that it made me see things I hadn't seen before and made me think in new ways about the ubiquitous images and messages that inundate and inform everyday life."
- Gary Handman | Educational Media Reviews Online

"...A fine, powerful, and important film."
- Jack David Eller | Anthropology Review Database

"Brilliant. Insightful. A real eye-opener. A powerful challenge to gender conventions. Watch it!"
- Roger Stole | Associate Professor of Communication | University of Illinois

"This provocative DVD provides a critical analysis of gender. Sut Jhally bases this analysis on the work of Erving Goffman as published in the book Gender Advertisement. Goffman's book was published in 1988, but his analysis of gender in the media is as relevant today as it was 23 years ago."
- lore m. dickey, PhD | Contemporary Sexuality

"The Codes of Gender will be of interest to all who question the visual images of what is deemed natural and normal. The film is well-made and presented, and it serves as a fitting tribute to Goffman (who died in Philadelphia in 1982). His work was underestimated when he was alive, but his contributions to 'the codes of gender' are as equally valid today as they were thirty years ago."
- Anna Hamling | Feminist Review

"Sut Jhally's The Codes of Gender: Identity and Performance in Popular Culture offers an in-depth analysis of how gender is portrayed and performed in advertising... Overall, The Codes of Gender is a very enlightening film that will (a) raise viewers' consciousness about the omnipresent codes of gender that, while rooted in Western culture, are repeated in concentrated form throughout media, (b) encourage viewers to question the seeming normality of these codes, and (c) understand that these codes, while presented as normal, are insidious, especially for women... The film is likely to generate much discussion among students. The Codes of Gender [will] introduce many constructs and themes essential to discuss in gender and women's studies courses (e.g., Women's Studies, Psychology of Women, Psychology of Gender, and Sociology of Women). Showing [The Codes of Gender] at the very beginning of such a course would provide an excellent introduction to material that will be discussed in more detail throughout the course, generate students' excitement and anticipation for the material, spark discussion, show students how the course topics are interconnected, and provide a visual schematic framework they could use to gradually generate a more complex understanding of the class material."
- Tracy L. Tylka & Rachel M. Calogero | Sex Roles: A Journal of Research

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