Media Advertising in Killing Us Softly 4 by Jean Kilbourne Short Summary

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The intriguing documentary of Killing Us Softly 4 by Jean Kilbourne, provides for a controversial topic of the basis of advertising in the media and how it affects women directly and indirectly. Consequently, harsh results are perceived from these advertisements. Of all the “factual” statements made by Jean Kilbourne during this documentary, many fallacies arose. The media leaves us extremely vulnerable to assimilating ourselves to all aspects of mass media. I can closely identify myself with the situation at hand because I am a part of a society that is raised up on a pop culture that is ubiquitous. We are constantly consumed in the media every single day with advertisements flooding our brains. In fact, I feel that women are not as materialized, dehumanized, or objectified as they are overpoweringly depicted in Killing Us Softly 4.

Essentially, Killing Us Softly 4 is an examination of the media and, especially, advertising’s influence on the society and negatively targets and affects women. It characterizes how women are portrayed as objects, not humans. This is represented by a series of advertisements focused on certain body parts, for instance, a woman’s legs or breasts, which apparently dehumanizes women. The issues related to the advertisements presented in this film include a major decline in self-esteem experienced by adolescent females, eating disorders, and violence against women, among other examples. As a result, Kilbourne immediately stresses her opinions that females are bombarded with a multiplicity of insecurities compared to males growing up. She blames this imbalance of self-esteem to the models that indirectly push women to look up to the unreachable ideal image portrayed in advertising. The result is damaging to our collective psychological makeup as far as the way we view women in the real world and how women view themselves. Is it the woman’s body that has been objectified for the sole purpose of this advertising? For instance, as stated in the video, it states that the perfect ideal women figure is always shown with a light-skinned, straight-hair, skinny figure. “Women of color are only considered beautiful if they resemble the white ideal” (5:48-5:56). In fact, I tend to disagree with this very statement. Women can be attractive and be a successful model no matter what skin color they are born with, where they came from, or what their heritage or race may be. Also, it was stated that certain races that are not light-skinned are usually represented as animals instead of human beings, which is an absurd statement. The quote given was, “Black women are featured as exotic animals, like leopards. Never shown modeling” (8:13-8:30). A statement like this is completely racial and stereotypical as well as close-minded against welcoming of other minorities into the modeling world. As a matter of fact, The United States consists of a melting pot of races, religions, and genetic make up. So, by making an outlandish statement that is very hypocritical in many senses.

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When a young girl sees a model in an advertisement and asks herself, “What do I have to do to look like her?” In addition, women are not as materialized, dehumanized, or objectified as they are overpoweringly depicted in Killing Us Softly 4. Jean Kilbourne tries to formulate a ridiculous piece of research that she complied about the direct relationship between the ideal image of women. This is exemplifies, and coincides with the way that men view women with higher standards, which directly sparks violence against women. The evidence lies in the following quote: “It creates a widespread violence against women by turning a human being into a thing, which is the first step toward justifying violence against a person.” (9:19-9:42). There is not valid information to backup this “research” that Kilbourne is referring to and tends to have no apparent correlation. She went on to say, “This is the case with homophobia and terrorism. Dehumanization means violence is inevitable” (9:35-9:42). Respectively, these are all valid examples of groups of people that are alienated from society, certain people desire to inflict violence on them. However, once again the majority of women are not a part of those groups so this information essentially, remains irrelevant.

In conclusion, many fallacies were present as a result of the statements made throughout the documentary. Jean Kilbourne tries to provide valid facts, research, and propaganda against the objectification, dehumanization, and role of women in advertisement. An example of a fallacy is the thought that only women closely related to the white ideal are considered beautiful and modeling material. Another example of a fallacy would be the creation of an ideal imagine of women through advertising, directly pushes violence against women. Although Kilbourne brought forth some apparently true information and concern up front, the majority of the information is drawn directly from her own emotions, views, and opinions.

Works Cited
Kilbourne, Jean. “Killing Us Softly 4 (2010) – 1/2 – YouTube.” YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. Media Education Foundation, 4 Aug. 2011. Web. 26 Sept. 2011. .

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Media Advertising in Killing Us Softly 4 by Jean Kilbourne Short Summary. (2016, Aug 17). Retrieved from

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