Mystery Dates

From LeAnn Erickson: "In American society, what part does pop culture, religion, and family play in 'teaching' kids about gender roles? With tongue in cheek, and thorough interviews, and constructed 'television'/media representations, Mystery Dates investigates how girls 'become' women.

0:00Copy video clip URL Information about the documentary followed by a black screen.

0:12Copy video clip URL Documentary begins with text across the screen musing, “how are little girls made?” Multiple women name the things they think have shaped them as who they are today, from family members to the Catholic Church to Cher. “Thinking of things that I would reflect on now and say this is how I would define myself as a Black woman, or this is how I identify myself, or what has shaped me, a lot of things that have shaped me have been my relationship with my mother, and with my grandmothers, with my aunts. These were my examples. This was who I looked to.”

02:32 Mystery Dates title card plays, accompanied by a lighthearted tune sung by a female voice. The title card makes use of the iconic door from the 1965 “Mystery Date” board game.

3:11Copy video clip URL “You were born a girl,” text across the screen reads. The interviewees discuss their relationships with their mothers as young girls and how they viewed their mothers’ position in the home. “There wasn’t a power struggle in my home between my mother and my father, so I a lot of– I think I got some pretty positive information from my mother in terms of role modeling.”

6:07Copy video clip URL A plastic skeleton rotates in a circle. “This is a woman’s body,” a voice narrates again and again as paper cutouts of clothes attempt to superimpose the skeleton. A repeating clip plays where young girls put on fancy coats.

7:17Copy video clip URL One interviewee talks about the experience of getting her first bra. A faux-advertisement for “Cotton Zone,” a women’s bra, plays.

8:14Copy video clip URL The “Mystery Date” door is opened to reveal the words, “when you grew up you wanted to be…” Interviewees talk about struggling with the beauty standard as women of color and what they thought of Barbie dolls as young girls. “I was not into Barbies, but I think my mom kind of wanted me to be, so she got me a Midge doll which was Barbie’s– supposed to be Barbie’s best friend. I hated Midge. I hated her. I mostly hated her because she wasn’t Barbie, you know?” Says Shari Zeck. Another woman talks about fond memories of playing with her Barbie dolls and how her daughter also plays with Barbies. Jamie Hudrlik talks about how she plays with Barbies.

12:49Copy video clip URL Shari Zeck talks about the importance of female-led shows she watched growing up. She touches on her realization that growing up, she saw herself within the female characters who “were forgettable,” like Midge. “That’s why I hated Midge. Because I identified with her too much as the one who wasn’t heterosexual, the one who wasn’t going to get noticed, the one who wouldn’t have the lead in the play or the lead in a film.”

13:59Copy video clip URL A woman gives a lecture on feminist theory that turns into a satirical commercial. “Glamor girl by day, cultural theorist by night,” says a man’s voice as the woman who had been lecturing writes “Capitalism Colonizes Women” in lipstick on a poster. A voice offscreen yells, “Cut!” and the false advertisement takes on another meta-layer, transforming the area into a film set with a man advertising lip form kits.

16:14Copy video clip URL The camera zooms out from a picture of a girl holding flowers, revealing it as a box of maxi pads. One pad is taken out, and the camera zooms into its image as the text “You became a woman” appears on-screen.

16:44Copy video clip URL The interviewees talk about their awareness of menstruation and other sexual education topics growing up. “I didn’t know s***. I didn’t know– I was on the delivery table. I was up there delivering a baby, not knowing anything about anything.”

19:24Copy video clip URL The Mystery Date door appears again, this time opening to reveal the words, “first comes love, then comes marriage…” The interviewees talk about how they understood marriage growing up. 

20:34Copy video clip URL In a furniture store, a woman sings about the man she loves. As the song progresses, it becomes apparent that the relationship between the two is not an equal one. Footage plays of young girls putting on bridal veils. Shari Zeck talks about how she never dreamed of the “nuclear family.” The young girls wearing veils play a version of a bouquet toss.

23:48Copy video clip URL Credits. As the credits conclude, the camera zooms out back to the Mystery Date door. Cheerful singing plays as a hand shuts the door and the screen fades to black.



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