Hidden correlation between movies and politics

By on April 3, 2003

At a grim time when Americans are turning to Hollywood more than ever with hopes of temporarily forgetting the realities of the world around them, it is arguable to question exactly how intertwined politics and Hollywood have become.

“Cinema was created to entertain the world. But, now it seems like movies are more into showing us who the latest killers are than giving us good old entertainment,” said Sophomore, Lisa Lanzo.

During the Cold War, America was fighting the Russians, resulting in years of action and adventure movies with Soviets as the enemies.

After the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the 1996 bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 American Soldiers, the enemy changed. All of a sudden, we were fighting Islamic terrorists on the big screen. The newest surge of anti-terrorism movies began to emerge out of Hollywood.

“I remember the old days of James Bond fighting the Russians,” said Lanzo. “But,then that all stopped and we started having more troubles in the Middle East. That is when we started seeing more terrorist movies and movies where the Islamic people were the killers.”

In the span of two years, “Executive Decision”, “Air Force One”, “The Peacemaker”, “The Siege”, and “True Lies” all surfaced in theatres nationwide. Nerve toxin, hijacked planes, nuclear bombs, and suicide missions became prevalent topics in our most popular movies.

In fact, the major premise of “The Siege” is placing Arab American men in internment camps and trying to change Middle Eastern governments into democracies.

“It is very odd when Hollywood predicts things that are going to happen with our country in the future,” said Lanzo. “It is like Hollywood is trying to mold our thoughts and our actions.”

Dr. Robert Smart, professor of English at Quinnipiac University and instructor of “Terrorism and the Novel” agrees that there is a correlation between current events and Hollywood.

“In movies, more often than not, the ‘good guy’ wins and that is what audiences want to see,” said Smart, “depicting these battles with our current enemies gives audiences the satisfaction of seeing these victories without the casualties of war.”

Many people also agree movies are helping young and old generations alike decide who to hate and who not to trust. It seems like we are accusing other people of being terrorists and killers before they do anything wrong.

“A lot of people do not read newspapers or watch the news, but they do watch movies,” said Lindsay Brauer, a senior Mass communications major and the President of FadeIn. “These individuals have pre-conceived notions of who terrorists are and where they come from in the world.”

The entertainment industry was made to be entertaining. America is known for being a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds and we are supposed to be accepting of all these cultures.

This leaves the question open, how is it possible that Hollywood could be so influential in our perceptions of terrorism? Wouldn’t it be logical to rationalize that any stereotypes we may have come from what is going on in the world around us?

“These movies deal mainly with terrorists of Middle Eastern descent,” said Brauer. “Before the Sept. 11 attacks, when I thought of anything terrorist related, I imagined those characters.”

Others, however, agree that Hollywood is doing their part in molding our minds.

“It is weird to see mostly people that are American as the hero’s in many films,” said Lanzo. ” It makes people think that we are the only people who are strong, we will always prevail, and that we can do nothing wrong. I think it makes people hate other countries because we portray them so negatively. No matter what people say, they do believe what they see on television and it does influence their thoughts.”

However, some students still believe movies and television have nothing to do with our views and politics are completely separate.

“People are smart enough to separate what they see on a television from what is going on in real life,” said Glenn Giangrande, senior, Mass Communications major, “Our stereotypes come from problems we are having in the world, not from what we see at the movies.”

Oddly enough, Hollywood felt movies did impact us more than we thought it had, because cinema changed tremendously after Sept. 11.

The old Manhattan skyline was taken out of certain television shows and movies, having anything to do with terrorism, were put on hold. After our own soil had been violated, our interests changed drastically.

Even now, as we are in the midst of conflicts in Iraq, the American public doesn’t want to see anything having to do with war. Our own realities changed and in turn, so did our taste in entertainment.


About Meagan McSweeney