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Hollywood Raises Political Consciousness

Political Messages in Feature Films

Edited By Michael Haas

Feature films are jam-packed with political messages. This volume provides the tools for analyzing the politics embedded in films. Contributors reveal how subliminal messages are a clue to how the public perceives political reality through otherwise entertaining feature films.
The volume is divided into two parts: Part One focuses on defining political films while Part Two looks at how «politics» is defined within films. Contributors find several ways of defining «political films», but agree that while the messages in films may often seem progressive, they are usually quite conservative, with the aim of making as much money as possible for the people financing the films.
The book provides a history of political film and identifies several hundred films with specific political messages.
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1 Films Contain Political Messages

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Films Contain Political Messages

Michael Haas

Films Impact Politics

Films can deeply shape human consciousness. To what extent do they impact political life? That question, asked as early as 1947 by scholar Franklin Fearing, continues to beguile filmmakers, filmviewers, and film analysts.

As pure entertainment, movies can amuse, provide excitement on the screen that enables escape from ordinary life, and offer role models. Much has been made of the impact of films on subsequent behavior of filmviewers, particularly on the youth. By observing how actors and actresses respond to personal and social problems, young persons accumulate a set of programs, called scripts, for dealing with issues in their lives (Bushman, Jamieson, Weitz, Romer 2013). Similarly, puzzles about how to deal with political and societal problems are often solved on the screen in ways that filmviewers may believe can be applied outside the moviehouse.

Psychologists have concluded that there is a definite link between aggressive behavior and film violence (Media Violence Commission 2012). Various studies link film portrayals with alcohol use (Wills, Sargent, Gibbons, Gerard, Stoolmiller 2009), sexual behavior (Brown et al. 2006), and smoking (Dal, Stoolmiller, Sargent 2012). In regard to attitudes, studies on the socialization impact of television, using cultivation analysis, find that fictional media tend to mainstream audiences—that is, tend to bring about a consensus in views—much moreso than those who rarely view fictional television (cf. Miller 1990). In contrast,...

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