Politics in Movies
Marko Mirceski, 2022-09-19
"Stop making movies about your political agenda!" This is a popular sentence, often uttered by many right-wing talking-heads at modern movies and TV shows. Citing the good, old times, they often remark how modern media is laced with a toxic liberal agenda. But are they in the right? And can they cite older moviest to prove their point? Here we'll see if politics in movies is a modern invention, or if the right-wingers are being overdramatic.
What do you mean by politics?
Before we digest the idea of political indoctrination in movies and TV, we first gotta see what counts as politics in the given context of media.
At a surface level, it would be the mentioning of existing political parties, entities and ideas by name, association or any other measure inside the plot of said media, regardless of depiction. This would be very shallow and is only a given company to other, more (not so) subtle inclusions of politics.
If we go a bit deeper, we start losing the names and only work by association. Here's also where the Polarising starts. More often than not, the idea is that there is good and bad, and that heroes and villains depict these sides, mirroring politics in a twisted dance of ideological conflict.
Next, we go even deeper, looking at the general plot of a movie, and what exactly it encompasses. If we take a movie about the LGBTQ+-community, we can confidently assume it is pretty liberal/left-leaning. But if we take a movie about someone fighting a group of school shooters by using their own guns against them, we can clearly take from it that the idea is to depict guns as a tool to stop evil, even if they can be used for bad.
There are a few other things we can talk about, like casting choices conflicting existing source material, etc., but it would just be padding for something we don't need.
Since the point is about politics in movies, we'll start with the most obvious suspect: "liberal agenda". The idea is, that the depiction of racially diverse, queer people in mainstream movies and TV is inherently political and should be stopped immediately. From a liberal standpoint, my first instinct would be to call the person a racist, homophobic bigot.
And if I were liberal, I'd be right. But as usual, the situation is more complex than it might lead on. See, the existing problem with the current way we portray said people is, that they are exclusively the good guys. Antagonists in movies with queer, racially diverse protagonists are always exclusively straight, white and male.
People who don't have much understanding for queer culture might see this and say "They wanna kill the straights! They wanna turn my kids into fucking transgendered gays!" And they'll start hating even more. Same thing with racial diversity.
But there is another side to this coin.
In days long gone, when there was still such a thing as a "soviet union", Hollywood did a completely different type of movie. One where protagonists didn't push a liberal agenda, as accused, but irather fought the enemy in an explosive and heroic way.
Films like Top Gun, Rambo II and III and Rocky IV, among many, were clever Propaganda tricks to show the triumph of America over the evil Commies. While these movies are pretty good quality-wise, they are, in nature, very political.
The common fallacy right-wingers commit nowadays is to claim otherwhise. When they look back at movies like these, and say that they didn't shove politics down your throat, they are mistaken. And while it is true, that politics are often used nowadays to push a liberal agenda, we shouldn't claim that it is unprecedented.
How to do it properly
There is no such thing as an apolitical movie. Ant that bears the question: How can we bake it into our movies without causing too much uproar?
The first idea would be equal representation. By making the villains as queer as the heroes, and also letting straight white men not be the butt of jokes, you create an even playing field, where your protagonists have to work together in harmony, without mockery and resentment. In such an atmosphere, people become a lot more accepting of things they don't know.
The second idea is to cut out any patriotic fury that doesn't belong where it is. At this point in time, we are past making movies about how magnificent one country is, and how much better it is than it's foes.
In truth, we are all humans. Straight, gay, black, white, cis, trans, left, right. It all doesn't make a difference in the end. So we should stop hating what we don't do. What we don't have. What we aren't.