Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained
This movie stereotyped women to act, feel, and think a certain way. I felt
that this movie portrayed women as feeling alienated, to feel below
standards, and to change their appearance depending on the situation.
The egg sequence, the point they were trying to make it doesn't matter
what on the outside only what in the inside of an animal, person, or object.
--Helene Dacey, 2000
This film by Rossler was one that portrayed her opinion of the subject of
women and society. The film was made in the 70's and the times then and
now are different. They do however hold the same message. Although
times have changed, they have not totally changed. Women are still
stereotyped by society and they still struggle with their own individuality.
Society often holds an image of how women should be and it is hard for a
woman to meet these goals and expectations. The film contained a scene
where a girl was measured in almost every possible way. After the
measurements were taken, they were compared to averages. The "doctor"
would state whether she was above average, below average, or average.
This scene portrayed how society takes measures humans and compares
them to these averages. It is dehumanizing and ridiculous for anyone to try
and become these numbers. Everyone in this world is different and the
beauty of this world lies within these differences. In order to overcome
these pressures and expectations, people need to learn to love themselves
for who they are. Rossler was very strong and angry in the opinion that she
presented within this film. Although I cannot relate to this strong feeling of
anger, I can see and relate to some of the ideas that she presented.
Fortunately, in today's world, if you love yourself and feel confident, these
unfair standards and expectations can be forgotten and ignored.
--Erica Ferry, 2000
This was a very informational film, which dealt with the discrimination and
degradation of women. As the film was narrated with information
regarding this issue, a woman was having every inch of her body
measured. When measurements were held at a standard, an associated
sound was initialized.
Another part of the film showed Rossler naked, cracking brown and white
eggs into a bowl. She then raises the bowl towards the camera so the
yokes of the eggs are visible to the viewers. Her point of this was to show
that regardless what the outside shell may look like, it is the same as
the rest on the inside. All people are the same on the inside, regardless
Rossler mentioned that this film was based on perception. Without
paying attention to the narrative aspects too much, it seemed as if the
woman being measured, not only performed the task that was intended
by the examiners, but also learned a bit about herself...almost as
criticism. I do believe that Rossler touches upon this issue a little bit, but
not in detail. She mainly dwells on that of men critiqueing and dominating
over the female gender...taking advantage of them.
--John Bartruff, 2000
Martha Rossler's Vital Statistics of a Citizen Simply Obtained was a very
powerful film. The overall theme of the film was very strong and symbolic
of human destruction of other humans. As is introduced in the beginning,
there are three parts of the film in which the narrator considers an opera.
The first part contained a doctor judging whether human naturalities are
standard. With this first part, Rossler demonstrates the power we as a
human race give to science. As the subject is further examined, her self
becomes further damaged. This judgement that the subject endures is
unnecessary, pointless, and has no realistic stand upon what is good and
what isn't. After the doctors leave the room, the assistants hand the
woman things to wear. Hence, these things that the woman/subject puts
on are picked out for her. The subject is told what to wear as in society
where there are roles in which people are told to fulfill. As the second part
of the film comes to us, we see pictures of women being measured
(hence, judged)with the narrator orating crimes against women. This
portion of the film specifies a feminist theme. However, while feminism is
on Rossler's mind, the third act once again refers to humanity as a whole.
The third part contains a woman breaking eggs in a bowl and then
holding the bowl so that the camera can see the eggs within. I found this
to be a statement against the tyranny of science and technology. The
eggs within the bowl are in their natural form. As science progresses, it
compells humans to change from their natural form. (Within the film
there is a concentration upon the feminist movement as women were not
treated equally within society for many years.) The eggs also depict as
similarity amongst all humans because we all are natural. Hence, Rossler
leaves the spectator thinking about society's judgments and how credible
or personally each individual should take these judgements.
--Eva Jones, 2000
Martha Rosler Work