Films misconstrue facts


Film, music and art, while appreciated for their aesthetic appeal, usually has a greater purpose than just being beautiful.

A film usually has a significant meaning that relates to what is going on in society at that time. A recent example is found in Jordan Peele’s thriller film “Get Out,” released in 2017, which reflects on social issues between black and white people in America.

Hollywood exerts important moral, ethical and cultural influence on American society, often in subtle ways. At times we do not realize how a film could be shaping our ideologies on various issues. Watching movies can be our only interaction with certain cultures or experiences, which can impact how we view the outside world from our Western perspective.

The fact that Hollywood is at times the only link present between people and culture is why they have a moral obligation to accurately portray the experiences they are trying to depict.

It is common for people to go into an environment they have never been in and describe their experiences by saying phrases like, “It’s nothing like the movies,” or “The movies lied to me.” This stems from the fact the movies do not always accurately portray reality, that they want people to believe an opinion about a subject and compel viewers through veiled propaganda.

Through these tactics, films can influence public perception into agreeing on something that isn’t necessarily true.

One movie that does not accurately portray reality is the hit 2017 musical directed by Michael Gracey, “The Greatest Showman.”

This movie glorifies P.T. Barnum and ignores how he forced people to act in his show and exposed their physical conditions to make a profit for his own financial gain. It ignores the historical importance of telling the story of P.T Barnum’s circus with accuracy.

If viewers did not know the history of P.T. Barnum before watching “The Greatest Showman,” it is embedded into their minds that he was an admirable man who got everything he wanted without breaking any moral or ethical conducts. But in reality, this was not the case.

Accurate portrayal in movies is critical so that people are not led to believe something different from the truth, even if the truth is darker and scarier than what is hoped for. People still deserve to be told stories in a light that reflects candidness.

Dr. Matthew Alford, the co-author of National Security Cinema, stated in an interview with Afshin Rattansi that,“Russia seems to be and has been for 100 years kinda an official enemy. That’s how trumpskey would put it in the propaganda model, and official enemies are presented in more salacious ways than allies regardless of what actions they are taking.”

Portrayals of Russians as villains were common during the Cold War, especially during the McCarthyism era. This movement was founded by the extreme anti-Communism Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy, whose accusations of Russian affiliation led to the creation of the infamous Hollywood blacklist.

The movement caused people to be apprehensive of being associated with anything that could be seen as communism, and by extent anything relating to the Soviet Union.

Hence, many Hollywood portrayals of the country reflected this intentional separation.
However, even after the Cold War ended and the blacklist has ceased to exist, Hollywood still portrays Russia as the villain.

In The Avengers, we see this in Marvel’s 2014 film “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” as the main villain is an ex-KGB agent.

Even if the Russian nation is not offended by Hollywood’s negative portrayals, that is not the source of the issue. Inaccurate or exaggerated portrayals of situations or stereotypes in movies can still cause people to think negatively about something that should not have innately negative connotations.

We see this effect in common notions of third world countries, people, and situations due to how they are portrayed in Hollywood’s mass media influence.

However, it is not impossible for Hollywood to rectify its mistakes. It is possible to create movies that tell entire stories, and give credit to both the positive and negative sides of given people or situations.

Everyone should challenge the status quo and look at film more closely and carefully. If you see that the movie takes place in a setting that isn’t in America, ask yourself if it is accurately portraying what those places are.

Hollywood ought to step up and challenge themselves as well as their views to consider stories in their full context, and do justice to the narratives they portray.