Politics in Film

“I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Sound familiar? There’s a reason the AFI put Network’s famous quote on their top 100 movie quotes list. But this begs the question, what happened to that sense of urgency? In economic hard times and when our country’s at war, why aren’t people getting mad anymore? Sure, people are irritated by the present state of things and they’ll complain (myself included) but what ever happened to outrage? What happened to not taking it anymore?
Even if times are tough for every Joe and Sally Sixpack, there’s still one industry that’s on top; the film industry. Movies are still being made and records are being broken (Avatar anyone?). True, some of the movies that are nominated for Oscars this Sunday have political elements. The Hurt Locker is a fine example or even some people’s claims that Avatar is anti-capitalist. These movies have parts of their political consciousness that can’t be ignored and I applaud them for that. But the political elements can be ignored. Despite what Kathryn Bigelow may say, I thought that The Hurt Locker was shockingly apolitical for the subject matter that it was about.
But this wasn’t how it always was. There were times when politics were an unavoidable part of the American voice. It was in this time that movies like Mr. Smith goes to Washington (a classic for those of you who haven’t seen it), and even as recently as Network, were popular. There was a time when films were incendiary. They criticized the rampant corruption and the politician’s failings. They didn’t beat around the bush, so where did we go wrong?
Do you think America is losing its sense of political urgency? Or is it that in a time of war, people are afraid of being perceived as un-American for wanting more from their government? Either way, I can’ help but think, what good is free speech if people are too afraid to use it?


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