Films in relation to politics

Have you ever watched a Hollywood superhero movie? Or a action movie?

Is there any familiar image in all those movies? Things that may be found in a majority of American action movies, especially at the ending scenes?

If there’s still nothing come across your mind, check it out

Found that yet?

Did you notice that there is an American national flag high hoisted, which may represent the power of the US. And this illustration appears a lot in Hollywood movies that I’d like to call it a stereotype

The film industry is currently one of the most invested industries in the world. Each year, there are thousands of movies are produced, leading by India. In 2011, it is estimated that there were more than 1200 films produced by India, following by the US with over 800 films. And the average cost of a film by US is no less than $40 million. Despite that enormous expense, the flow of money spending to this kind of industry does not seem to stop. There is a fact that it is due to the strong development of the entertainment industry, which includes film industry. Besides, unlike painting or literature, movies can travel much easier across nations and can be observed much easier without much knowledge on a specific aspect. And because its influence is incredible, film is a perfect means to promote the positive images and culture of a country, as well as to protect their tradition from homogenisation.

This leads to the concept of “soft power” first coined by Harvard political scientist Joseph Nye(2004). He argues that “culture including films is an excellent way for nations to promote national interest to get other countries to look upon them favorably”. The US and China are not only influencing the world through this “soft power” means to improve their status in the world but also educate their people how powerful their nations are. For instance, in many Chinese historic period dramas, especially those about the stories of royal dynasties, they call themselves the mother nation and there are always heaps of small neighbor nations, which economically depend on China. That’s what we call patron client relationship. And there are heaps of dramas like that. You can easily see that in a Chinese series, which recently famous “The Empress of China” is an example. The “soft power” concept also explains the appearance of American national flag at the end of American movies. It is like a statement, a message from the US government that of their power, of their ideal to remain peace and of the symbol they stand for, the symbol of justice. Films are being used as propaganda, the kind of propaganda that is not propaganda. And it works effectively.

Ref:

  • Evans, N 2015, “Transnational film”, Lecture, BCM111, University of Wollongong
  • Nye, J 2004, “Soft power: the means to success in world politics”, Public Affairs
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