Noticing Political Conversation in Mainstream Movies
The role of mainstream movies in political conversation is more prominent than someone might think. Movies can draw attention to political events in the past, current events, and more. Movie stars, who are often in the lime light, may have political agendas that are promoted alongside the new movie releases. Because movies are another type of media, this is an area of entertainment that is still used as a way to advertise, whether about a product, event, or politics.
Some movies focus on political events in the past, present, or those that may occur. For example, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington focuses on democracy and positive ideals that are then met with corruption. This movie makes a statement about how politics works and the negative effects politics can have on good-natured public servants. Citizen Kane is another political movie that follows a would-be governor of New York. This movie focuses on how the main character seeks power through the media, wealth, and fame in the public eye.
With these two movies, it is easy to see how one aspect of movies and media influences politics. Movies can tell the stories and biographies of people of influence, or they can show the corruption or benefits of a democratic government. How the movie focuses on these things can have an effect on the viewing audience.
Other times, it may not be the movie that is the political agent. Sometimes it is the star of the film, or other actors who are also related to a current release, who have an agenda. Many actors and actresses are in positions of power over audience members, and they have a strong influence on what the audience sees and understands. For example, Matt Damon, who is an A-list star, has criticized President Obama and his decisions about health care reform and sending troops to Afghanistan. Mr. Damon would like to see the president be more progressive, so he has made his voice heard through media outlets. Particularly helpful to Matt Damon's cause is the fact that he recently starred in movies such as The Green Zone, which focuses on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Because of this, the star was asked more about his political views and was able to assert his in a public manner that could influence his audience.
Movies have always been able to promote politics in a manner; however, the Hollywood Black List, which searched for actors and actresses who may be communists and banned them from being hired, occurred in the past. An obvious statement of political affiliation, the Hollywood Black List was incidentally started by Governor Pat Brown's staff, who named the first actor to be placed on the list, Peter Falk because it was thought to be foolish to vote for the democrat.
Now, political statements are commonly seen in movies and the media. These political statements aren't just those focused on the United States. V for Vendetta, a movie which focuses on a futuristic Great Britain in a totalitarian state, voices an opinion on the public and public influence on the government.
No matter what the current political influences are, movies and actors will have something to say about the current state of affairs. It could be a documentary on civil war in Africa or a futuristic saga about communist governments, but the way the media portrays the government and the people of the world will always have some influence over those who come to the cinema.