The Newsroom follows the story of hotshot news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels). After he comes back from a forced vacation, McAvoy finds out that his staff has left him for another show and must now work with a different staff. His new executive producer, MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer), is also his ex-girlfriend. McHale’s job entails overseeing all activity on the show and making executive decisions. Her main goal as the executive producer is to produce a news show that isn’t conventional. She wants to talk about issues on the economy and legislation rather than the Casey Anthony trial. At first glance, MacKenzie McHale represents a strong, independent, and influential person. Unfortunately for McHale, The Newsroom, compensates her with characteristics that depict her as someone who is not competent for the job. She continues to mess up on her job, needs help from other men because she can’t complete a task, and at times clueless.
I made a video to help illustrate the disparity between McHale’s esteemed job (executive producer) to how she is actually portrayed. The video starts out with Mortimer herself explaining her character’s role in the show and ends by saying that “[McHale] is at the center of all the action.” With that being said, Part 1 of the video illustrates the control that McHale has over her staff. She leads meetings, monitors the work done by her reporters, and inspires them to produce a great news show. McHale’s power is quickly trumped in Part 2. Even though McHale pushes her boss to change the conventional style of the show, she ends up listening to him and takes ‘no’ as an answer. She hires other men for work she can’t do. She also lives with the guilt from cheating on McAvoy, which immediately gives him an upper hand in their relationship. McHale is clumsy and dependent on men to get the job done. My goal with this video was to further prove that, in the media, women who hold positions of power are compensated by having weak characteristics that make them seem unqualified for the job. The video format helps visually show how quickly a character can change. McHale is viewed as the person leading the meetings, and then quickly is portrayed in utter confusion. By showing clips one after another the audience views the progress of her character.
DIY projects are necessary because it gives an opportunity for people to express their reaction to the media they consume. Alison Piepmeir interviewed people who do DIY projects and explained that “Because we must take over the means of production in order to create our own meanings,” also “if I didn’t write these things no one else would” (Piepmeir). DIY projects are an opportunity for fans to creatively display their reaction and have a discussion about it. They are able to comment on the media and what that says about our culture.
Piepmeier, Alison. “”If I Didn’t Write These Things No One Else Would Either”” Making Media, Doing Feminism (n.d.): n. pag. Print.