Politics In Film Political Films as a Genre Dr. Braunwarth
Overview • This class is about films – fictional movies – and politics in the U.S. setting • We’re going to look at: • How Politics Influences Films and • What Films say about Politics • What can films say about politics?
“Political” Movies • Politics tells us about how power is exercised; where the line is drawn between order and freedom • Political films vary wildly – from thrillers to melodramas to comedies • Would an explicitly “political” genre attract or scare away an audience? • In general, films are wary of being explicitly political so as to not alienate an audience
Power of Films • Aren’t these just stories? • Aren’t they intended simply to entertain? • As people lose contact with family, peer groups, and education system • Media take on a more powerful role • Can facilitate understanding about society, government, and politics
Media Construct Reality • How we, and others, get information • Increasingly, everything we know about the world, we know through the media • Largely disengaged from a non-mediated reality • Influence is strongest for those who know the least • Films are an exciting blend of image and sound
Why Films? They are Powerful • Films are Entertaining • and therefore Compelling • We don’t go to see popular movies with the intention of enhancing our knowledge about politics • But because they are Popular and Engaging • They are effective educators because we think we are just being entertained • Power lies in Emotions, not Intellect • Can we say the same for books?
Windows on the World • Films use Drama to build bridges to remote times, places, and events • The Political World is a Remote World for many • Even things that are obviously fiction have an effect on our views of the world, both consciously and unconsciously. • In the absence of alternative information you learn from what you know.
Problems? • What are the problems with using films as sources of information? • not necessarily accurate (dramatized) • not comprehensive • not unbiased • The inaccuracies also influence our Political Culture