Can Movies Change the Value Systems of People?
In modern society, movies are an important part of people’s everyday life. The movie industry is new compared to other kinds of art as this industry started to develop at the end of the 19th century. The popularity of movies has rapidly grown and in today’s world, one of the most popular ways of spending free time is watching a good movie. Movies are supposed to have an entertainment function, but it must be noted that movies have a great impact on society and the people’s minds and values.
First of all, it must be underlined that all kinds of art are a powerful tool which can influence and change the people’s values and norms, but movies are perceived by the audience in the most effective way. “The narrative and representational aspects of the film make it a wholly unique form of art. Moreover, the collective experience of film as art renders it a wholly distinct leisure activity. The unique properties of attending the cinema can have decisively positive effects on mental health” (Shah). The movies can change the attitude of the people to the particular question or highlight the necessity to discuss the issue which was unnoticed before. The movie is the most straight and the most understandable way in which the person can perceive the information. What is more important movies usually demonstrate the pictures which provoke the emotions, so the sympathy or the negative emotions can make people to focus the attention on the problem and to find the way to its solution.
One of the most famous examples of the impact which was made by the movie on society is a film directed by Griffith The Birth of a Nation. This film is a great example of how movies can impact society not only positively but also negatively. “The Ku Klux Klan had largely died out in America in the 1870s, but when Birth of a Nation arrived in Georgia, a local white supremacist, William Simmons, used it as a tool to recruit new members. White-clad riders appeared on the streets” (Metz). This film influenced the people’s attitude to the racism, and what is more important this movie was used in order to recruit the new members of KKK for many years after the film appeared on the big screen. Movies can not only change the values of the society but also to remind the people about old problems and provoke them to make the same mistakes. People can be united not only by the positive attempts but by the ideas which are based on discrimination and inequality. A movie is a powerful tool which can make people think and act in a particular way – positive or negative.
Movies can underline social issues and draw people’s attention to the problem, and that can change their values. On the other hand, sometimes society is not ready to face the difficult problems which usually are not widely discussed. For example, “My Feral Heart, a film about an individual (played by an actor with Down’s syndrome) dealing with the loss of his mother, that had been unable to find backing to make it to the box office” (Crisp). Despite the fact, that the critics and professionals positively accepted this film, this movie was not very popular among the wide audience. That is why it is so important to produce such films in order to draw attention to the important issues such as discrimination and the position in the society of people with disabilities. The good movie can impact the attitude to the problem which was unnoticed and make the person think about it. The power of the film is in the emotional influence which provokes the person to think about it even when the film ended. People read and discuss such problems as gender inequality every day, but if this issue is not related to their lives directly, they do not pay much attention to it. The film can tell a personal story of the character which evokes the emotions and the person who watches this film will sympathize the character and will think about it differently. The movie can help to understand how such problem really influences the life of the person, how this issue provokes the negative consequences and how the character finds the way and the inner power to deal with this problem. The film can show the relation of the society to the problem and make people think about it, and after the film, they will see their behavior from the point of view of this person, so they can change their attitude and start to be more tolerant to the person with the same problem.
The power of the mass influence of the movies cannot be overestimated. It can change not only the attitude to the social problems but also to help the real person. “Errol Morris’s 1988 film The Thin Blue Line, about a wrongly convicted man on death row, sadly did not change the world, but it certainly changed the life of one man. Randall Adams, who had been imprisoned for murdering a Texas police officer in 1976, was exonerated and released from prison in 1990, thanks to Morris’s persuasive argument” (Jones). The example of the one man who suffered because of the particular problem can provoke the wave of the thoughts about the other similar cases and change the general attitude to the issue. Movies are the conversation with the masses, the director and the creators of the film have a great opportunity to convey their ideas to the great number of people simply and understandably. People can hear about such a problem every day, but this problem seems to them too abstract and general. When they see the clear and the real example of the person who suffered from this issue, they will start to think about it differently. If every person who saw the film would change the model of the behavior for the better, it can put the values of the society on a different level.
The movie industry can help to change the attitude to global problems such as environmental pollution. “Former Vice President Al Gore won a Nobel Peace Prize after his film An Inconvenient Truth changed the world’s approach toward a controversial issue by weaving complex science with storytelling. Before the film’s release, only about a third of people surveyed believed global warming was real. Afterwards, 85 percent believed the earth was indeed undergoing climate change in part as a result of human actions” (Benjamin-Phariss). People hear and discuss the problem of the protection of the environment very often, but a lot of them are not aware of the complex scientific proofs that their actions provoke such issue. The power of this film is in the simplicity which allow the great number of people all around the world to understand the existence and the roots of this issue, and what is more important to see the real opportunities how each individual can contribute to the elimination of this problem. Before the movie, people’s values did not include the protection of the environment, but after the film, the person might think about the actions which can contribute to the development of the issue, so the individual will act in a different way because the film influenced the values of the person. Movies can make even very complex scientific facts more understandable to the people, and what is more important the movie put the problem on another level – more emotional and more personal.
In conclusion, it must be said that the movie industry is a powerful tool which can influence people’s values. The main power of the movie industry is the emotions which are evoked when the person see the story of the character who suffered from the particular issue. These emotions provoke people to think about it differently in a more personal way. It must be noted that the film can not only to draw attention to the social issues and to start to act differently in order to solve it, but also to provoke negative thoughts and action. That is why it is so important for the movie industry to translate only the messages which can change the world and the society for the better.
Benjamin-Phariss, Bonnie. “Films Can Help Change the World.” HuffPost, 2013
Crisp, Johnny. “Social Impact Entertainment: Can Cinema Change the World?.” HuffPost, 2017. Jones, Ellen. “Reel to Real: Can Documentaries Change the World?.” The Guardian, 2011.
Metz, Elle. “Did This 100-Year-Old Film Make People Racist?” BBC News, 2015.
Shah, Vikas. “The Role of Film in Society – Thought Economics.” Thought Economics, 2011.
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