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Movie Mom

Can A Movie Change Your Mind About Politics?

posted by Nell Minow

A provocative new study measured the effects of movies on the viewers’ thoughts about political/public policy issues like the environment, abortion, and health care, even the viewers’ overall faith in the political system.  Mother Jones explains some of the findings about the influence of particular movies.  This makes sense — after all, there is a multi-billion dollar industry devoted to the belief that an ad of thirty seconds or less can persuade us to think we need their products.  And media like “Will and Grace,” “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” and “Brokeback Mountain” did not just reflect a broader comfort level with openly gay characters in real life as well as on screen; they actually increased it.  It is interesting that it does not have to be an especially good movie to have an impact.  But part of any form of art, especially a narrative like a novel or a movie or a play, is enlarging our perspective by giving us a different point of view or experience.  I would be more surprised by a study showing that movies did not change the audience’s mind very frequently.

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