The Inevitable Political Dynamic, on Film
#1
Films seem to be becoming more activist recently, or at leaste activist films are getting bigger and more mainstream. Not just the work of Micheal Moore, but also things like Super Size Me and The Corporation. There's also rebutals Like Micheal Moore Hates America coming out as well.

What do you think of this?
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#2
Quote:Originally posted by DeamondBleed
Films seem to be becoming more activist recently


Well, after recently watching anchorman (funny, but dumb), they ripped on bush's political decisions (only briefly). Many people in the theatre laughed, but some scowled. That is how I am(not scowling or laughing, but i had my views set). I think many people have there political views set for them, which is not always, good, but they are set in their minds, and nothing will change their minds, not even movies.
Don't do nothing.
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#3
I disagree. Films have always been active as a means of conveying both political thoughts and fears, as well as public thoughts and fears. You can look back at early science fiction to see the concern revolving around nuclear proliferation, arms races, violence and wars. Where The Day the Earth Stood Still too such issues seriously, Dr. Strangelove reflected on them in a humerous manner.

Propganda films are nothing new either, and they didn't necessarily start with Adolph Hitler and the Nazi German regime. Certainly the U.S. and the USSR have used similar kinds of films, both militarily and publicly. The "Duck and Cover" campaign is a clear example of propoganda working in the U.S. The statement goes along the lines that, "If you see a bright flash from an atomic or nuclear explosion, duck under your desk and cover your head." Sorry kiddies, but if you see the bight flash, chances are you're dead already, or likely to be shortly from nuclear fallout, radiation disease, etc.

Such films as Farenheit 9/11 are more narrowly focused, and, in the case of Michael Moore, carry an agenda that seeks to prove itself through the film. But Moore isn't doing anything new. He's just recieving more attention than other films have in the past.
All your base are belong to us.

It could be that the purpose of my life is only to serve as a warning to others.
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#4
Quote:Originally posted by RobRoy
I disagree. Films have always been active as a means of conveying both political thoughts and fears, as well as public thoughts and fears. You can look back at early science fiction to see the concern revolving around nuclear proliferation, arms races, violence and wars. Where The Day the Earth Stood Still too such issues seriously, Dr. Strangelove reflected on them in a humerous manner.


Obviously films like the Day the Earth Stood still and Benieth the Planet of the Apes have strong Political undertones, most movies do. Even the Matrix Series was to some degree making a point about society. However they are not Documentries of the Mooreian type, they are a separate story. My Question really relates to why Moorian type Documentries have become moore prolific recently. Also, can you sight films (other than the above mentioned Matrix) that have been resonably mainstream and overtly (rahter than subtelly) making a political point that were made after I was born (last 20 or so years)?

Quote:Originally posted by RobRoy
Propganda films are nothing new either, and they didn't necessarily start with Adolph Hitler and the Nazi German regime. Certainly the U.S. and the USSR have used similar kinds of films, both militarily and publicly. The "Duck and Cover" campaign is a clear example of propoganda working in the U.S. The statement goes along the lines that, "If you see a bright flash from an atomic or nuclear explosion, duck under your desk and cover your head." Sorry kiddies, but if you see the bight flash, chances are you're dead already, or likely to be shortly from nuclear fallout, radiation disease, etc.


The term Propaganda acired a negative conertation during WW2 with Hitler and the Nazis mind control and such, however before that the term applied to most of what is today called Public Relations or Advertising was simply called propaganda. Ironically it was an act PR/Propaganda to change terms. Edward Bernise's (spelling may not be correct) book, which became the how to book of the PR industry, is called "On Propaganda". The definition of Propaganda is anything that enhances or hampers the goals of a group, so in that sence most films have a propaganda dynamic.

Quote:Originally posted by RobRoy
Such films as Farenheit 9/11 are more narrowly focused, and, in the case of Michael Moore, carry an agenda that seeks to prove itself through the film. But Moore isn't doing anything new. He's just recieving more attention than other films have in the past.


Much much moore attention. Films of this nature have gained mainstream theatrical releaste latly, where as a few years ago they were only at arthouse cinamas, or on chanells like SBS and the ABC (Australia). Most were much moore serious as well. A while ago there was a very right slanted docco on the ecconomy (quite Libertarian) on SBS (a Channel set up to cater for audiances not provided for on main stream TV), but that was about the most public somethng like this could do. Now I can watch Micheal Moore or Super Size Me in a mega plex. They might not be doing anything new, but they are certainly getting much bigger.
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#5
Quote:Originally posted by DeamondBleed
My Question really relates to why Moorian type Documentries have become moore prolific recently.

Agreed. My point was that films in general have been doing the same for years. Moore garners more attention because he has built up a reputation. Many people who agree with his point of view want to see what he's selling, but many people who disagree go with the same intent, and fully intend to disprove him.

So, the reasons for why there are more "Moore-ian doumentaries is thus:

1- Easier acccess to inexpensive, yet higher quality digital film equipment. Ten or twenty years ago, to create a quality, or even adequate film quality-wise, you needed a great deal of money. Now, you can fork out a few hundred dollars and have a camera that can go anywhere and do a much better job than cameras from the past decades.

2- More access to money/investors. With the rise of the independent films, that return their investment ten, twenty or a hundred-fold (Clerks., The Blair Witch Project, My Big, Fat, Greek Weeding, etc.), the art form, like all industries, is now attracting investors. Investors don't care if you're exposing big tobacco companies or if you're telling the story of your dogs funeral. If the movie will sell tickets, they want to be in. This has given indy film makers greater access to much needed cash.

3- Easier access to marketing. So, now you've got your camera, you've got your money, you've shot your film . . . now what? With so many film festivals that are now open to the public (again, seeking a new Sofia Coppola, or Kevin Smith to invest in), film makers have the opportunity to show and sell what they've got, even if they've never done anything before. Such films, when picked up for their profitability, can have the backing of a major studio, even though they were made by a minor player.

4- The formula. Michael Moore has broken the most ground on a genre that is hardly new. He wasn't the first to turn a profit on a documentary, but he certainly has put the art-form into the eyes of the public, and as such, into the eyes of big production companies. Given all, or some combination of the above, companies are now looking to invest where there has been relatively little activity before. It's like finding a new world to exploit. Everyone may have said you were nuts before, but when you can produce the gilt, laughter generally turns to stomp of feet trying to beat a path toward the gold.

Quote:Also, can you sight films (other than the above mentioned Matrix) that have been resonably mainstream and overtly (rahter than subtelly) making a political point that were made after I was born (last 20 or so years)?

Certainly.

Almost every science fiction film from the last twenty years or so contains some element of socio-political commentary in it. It's generally founded on a single idea, and then expanded/exploited from that idea. Individuality in the face of overwhelming pressure for conformity was not new ground for The Matrix. Look at Dark City (1998), or just about any "teen" film, like Better Off Dead (1985) for this running theme. We can also cite Minority Report (2002) and Bicentennial Man (1999) as having socio-political commentary. How about direct political commentary from otherwise rather light fare: The American President (1995), Dave (1993) and Too Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar hit on a number of issues, though none of them deeply or sincerely. For more depth you can turn to movies like Traffic (2000), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) and Dead Poet Society (1989). Heck, even The Emporer's Club (2002) had some shades of depth. And while we're on the subject of teachers who impact, let's not forget Mr. Holland's Opus (1995), Dangerous Minds (1995), Stand and Deliver (1988) and Lean on Me (1989). And I'm sure you know of the political and social commentary carried out in cartoon/anime movies. Need I really bring up Graveyard of the Fireflies (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997) or pretty much any Disney movie (though they are often hypocritical within themselves).

My list could go on, and on, and on, and on, and without even scratching the surface of movies that attempt and sometimes succeed, in illiciting and reflecting political or social commentary through their characters or their plots.

Quote:The term Propaganda acired a negative conertation during WW2 with Hitler and the Nazis mind control and such, however before that the term applied to most of what is today called Public Relations or Advertising was simply called propaganda. Ironically it was an act PR/Propaganda to change terms. Edward Bernise's (spelling may not be correct) book, which became the how to book of the PR industry, is called "On Propaganda". The definition of Propaganda is anything that enhances or hampers the goals of a group, so in that sence most films have a propaganda dynamic.

Um. Ok.

I'm tempted to argue the definition of propoganda with you, but I really don't see the point. It's a subtle line, and one man's propoganda is another's "good marketing". My use of the term "propoganda films" was in the strictest and, from my view, the truest form of the word. Films that intend to indoctrinate the audience, and are viewed without access to, or denying, a dissenting view. But again, I see no point in debating the definition with you in regards to this matter. For all intents and purposes, every film contains a measure of "propoganda" by your definition.
All your base are belong to us.

It could be that the purpose of my life is only to serve as a warning to others.
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#6
Science fiction almost cannot be science fiction without projecting something about the social/political landscape. Good science fiction includes human drama, which revolves around conflict between the human spirit and the impact of our scientific knowledge.

That impact might concern a natural event we have come to recognize (such as a comet hurtling into the Earth), or it might concern an extrapolation of current scientific/technological development (such as the increased miniaturization of eletcronic devices), or it might concern an evolution in our social theories and management systems (such as an experimental form of government in which children are randomly selected to make difficult decisions through a gaming environment -- somewhat like Ender's Game depicted a war being fought by children in a gaming environment).

Once the story sets up the conflict, there must be either social or political ramifications to the conflict, or both. They may be on a very small scale (within the scope of a family or small community) or on a very large scale (within the scope of a nation, world, or star-spanning civilization).

So, science fiction movies, while famous for "dumbing down" the concepts, pretty much have to develop some sort of social or political commentary.

Now, to make the stories more interesting to their audiences, the movies tend to focus on current issues. Hence, the impact of the end of the original "Planet of the Apes" movie (which was considerably different from that of the book and the remake) was relevant to the end-of-world scenarios which were popular in the 1960s. The impact of the end of the remake was more relevant to social engineering and animal engineering scenarios which have become the topic of discovery and debate over the past 10-15 years.

Both versions of the move tell essentially the same story as the book (about an astronaut who discovers a world where apes are the superior species and humans are treated like animals), but all three versions of the story differ in details and basic plotting.

The underlying conflict common to all three versions of the story is that mankind is experimenting with radical technologies which threaten our supremacy. That conflict is never explicitly promoted in either the book or the first movie. It DOES appear at the beginning of the second "Planet of the Apes" movie.
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