Social Work Month

March is Social Work Month, a time to highlight the crucial contributions social workers make to society.

In that spirit, we’d like to call your attention to a range of MEF videos that examine how our media system perpetuates many of the destructive ideas and attitudes that social workers deal with in their work everyday.

MEF films encourage students to think critically about the images and messages they’re getting from the media they consume. Rather than taking these images and messages at face value, these films show how mass media has the power to shape the way we see ourselves, others, and the world around us. The goal is to try to clear some space for people, especially young people, to help them take a step back and think about their lives, and the world, outside of the dominant frame of mainstream media.

From films about race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation to economic inequality and the culture of violence, we’ve got a wide range of titles that speak to many of the issues social workers grapple with on the front lines of their work.

We hope you’ll take a minute to check them out.


A Film About the Globalization of Beauty

The Illusionists examines how global advertising media conglomerates, and the beauty, fashion, and cosmetic surgery industries are changing the way people around the world define beauty and see themselves.



Five Friends chronicles 65-year-old Hank Mandel’s relationships with his five closest friends, providing a deeply personal look at how they navigate success, conflict, marriage, divorce, fatherhood, and death, and revealing what men are capable of when they dare to break out of “bro culture” and open up to one another.


Masculinity and the Courage to Change

Filmmaker Thomas Keith closely at the ways these messages short-circuit men’s ability to empathize with women, respect them as equals, and take feminism seriously. Keith begins by exploring some of the key messages about manhood that boys absorb from the culture, and then argues that these messages not only devalue women but also undercut men’s innate capacity for caring and empathy.


Advertising’s Image of Women

Breaking down a staggering range of more than 160 print and television ads, media critic Jean Kilbourne uncovers a steady stream of sexist and misogynistic images and messages, laying bare a world of frighteningly thin women in positions of passivity, and a restrictive code of femininity that works to undermine girls and women in the real world.



Filmmaker Daphne Valerius’s award-winning documentary The Souls of Black Girls explores how media images of beauty undercut the self-esteem of African-American women. Valerius surveys the dominant white, light-skinned, and thin ideals of beauty that circulate in the culture, from fashion magazines to film and music video, and talks with African-American girls and women about how these images affect the way they see themselves.


Violence, Manhood & American Culture

In this highly anticipated update of the influential and widely acclaimed Tough Guise, pioneering anti-violence educator and cultural theorist Jackson Katz argues that the ongoing epidemic of men’s violence in America is rooted in our inability as a society to move beyond outmoded ideals of manhood.


Beyond Beats & Rhymes

Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes provides a riveting examination of manhood, sexism, and homophobia in hip-hop culture. Director Byron Hurt, former star college quarterback, longtime hip-hop fan, and gender violence prevention educator, conceived the documentary as a “loving critique” of a number of disturbing trends in the world of rap music.


Race, Racism & White Privilege in America

White Like Me, based on the work of acclaimed anti-racist educator and author Tim Wise, explores race and racism in the US through the lens of whiteness and white privilege. White Like Me is the first film to bring the full range of Wise’s work to the screen — to show how white privilege continues to shape individual attitudes, electoral politics, and government policy in ways too many white people never stop to think about.


Advertising & the Obsession with Thinness

Jean Kilbourne’s award-winning video Slim Hopes argues that the stories advertising tells about food, femininity, and the female body contribute to disordered eating. In the process, she offers productive new ways to think about anorexia, bulimia, and other life-threatening eating disorders.


Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls

In this exclusive, illustrated video, Mary Pipher, Ph.D., discusses the challenges facing today’s teenagers, especially girls, as well as the role of media and popular culture in shaping their identities. She offers concrete ideas for girls and boys, families, teachers, and schools to help girls free themselves from the toxic influences of today’s media-saturated culture.