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Movies Change Lives

Pedagogy of Constructive Humanistic Transformation Through Cinema


Tony Kashani

Movies Change Lives is a rigorous interdisciplinary examination of cinema as a vehicle for personal and social transformation. Interdisciplinary scholar Tony Kashani builds a theory of humanistic transformation by discussing many movies while engaging the works of philosopher/psychologist Erich Fromm, cultural studies theorist Stuart Hall, critical pedagogy theorist Henry Giroux, political philosopher Hannah Arendt, the great French thinker Edgar Morin, the pioneering psychologist Carl Jung, the co-founder of string theory, physicist Michio Kaku, and Frankfurt School philosopher Jürgen Habermas, among others. The book argues that in the globalized world of the twenty-first century, humanity is in dire need of personal and social transformation. Movies have universal appeal and can deeply affect their audiences in a short time. Coupled with critical pedagogy, they can become tools of personal and social transformation. Movies Change Lives is an ideal text for graduate and upper-division undergraduate courses on film (cinema) and society, visual culture, consciousness studies, transformative studies, media and social change, advanced personal and social psychology, and political philosophy.


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Kurt Vonnegut once said famously, “As a species we are not fit to be on this planet.” To be sure, he was being provocative, pessimistic, or even cynical. But there is insight in that claim. Could it be that the majority of us have not yet acquired the level of development to use rationality in a construc- tive manner and evolve to a higher place? How underdeveloped is human- ity? Can humanistic transformations take place on a massive scale? While we have made great advances in science and technology, humanism has suffered mightily. We seem to be more isolated from each other than centuries before, yet we are more connected in the virtual world. In fact it is a truism to say, “The world is much smaller now.” But are we better off as a species? Are isms, like capitalism and individualism, making our collective human society better for all or at least the majority of humans? Given the dominance of neoliber- alism around the globe, the collective evidence reveals that the status quo does not suffice. From my vantage point, the human society has to undergo a transformation, one that brings about democracy, cosmopolitanism, egalitar- ianism, and harmony with nature. There are various humanistic entities that can assist humanity in this process. I have been exploring for quite some time, through my studying, teaching, and writing, whether cinema, as a humanistic medium of communication, x movies change lives could be a vehicle for such transformation. It is no exaggeration...

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