Politcs and Film

While watching movies I’ve always been the type of person that looks for some hidden message or to try and find things going on in the background that perhaps other viewers might miss. Saying that, I realize that political messages are in movies at times where we might think there are none. Take a movie like the second Captain America move Captain America: Winter Soldier. Throughout the movie Captain America is fighting the Winter Soldeir but he’s also fighting with Robert Redford’s character because Redford wants to launch a program that would monitor and keep tabs on every person on the planet. When I first watched this movie I didn’t really think anything about it but now it seems to me as a message that complete power and control should never be given to one person/group because things like this can happen.

There are times where movies don’t have the intent to have a political message but other times they do. In Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine, we have a movie that is very clear about it’s politcal message on guns – they are bad. I will not say in agreement or disagreement my stances on the movie but when it came out I remember the conversations that were had as a result.

In closing I’ll say that movies, whether intentionally political or not, have the power to not only say what they want, but also to get people to start having conversations about topics they might not otherwise have. It’s a shame that in this country we only seem to talk about the major issues when a tragedy like the Orlando shootings happen. Perhaps more movies need to convey a message in order to get people to actually think about all sides of an argument.

Advertisements

That Are Not Always Right

In American film and cinema, there are always carefully strategic devices that are placed in front of audiences that speak smoothly to your subconscious. There is a reason why the majority of black films deal with the cliché issues and genres. There is a reason why in a majority-white cast, to have an Indian, Asian, African American, or Mexican cast in a lead role would be an anomaly. There is the age old debate that an artist that is from a different race, would never be able to encompass the true essence of the subject from another race. But the last time I checked, race was a category.

Webster defines it as “a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock,” or, “a class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits, or characteristics,” or even, “a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits.” Only one of these define anything that has to do with behavior of some sort, not any type of skin color.

Which gets me to thinking about the movies Lagaan and Mississippi Masala. Both films depict the majority of the “white race” as evil, greedy, and conniving. For the two films they also have Indian directors. Lagaan shows the British that have authority over Indian villages and in a game of cricket will allow for the Indians to not pay taxes for three years if they win. Mississippi Masala has many different representations of white people, but the one that sticks out to me is the college kids that rented a hotel room. They were noisy, drinking underage, and destructive. In my experiences with my friends who are white and strangers who are white, these images are not the only representation of how white people are. However, if someone who has never experienced a white person before only sees these films, how do you think they would feel about white people? I am assuming the same way the white American that has never experienced the minority American, but has watched nothing but American films. The representation for all of us is horrible. Let human nature be the determining factor and not one’s race be the determining factor.

Politics Is Cinema

My true belief is that every great story has some form of politics in it. When stories were created way before cinema ever existed, there was “something” to be taken away from a story. In order for someone to genuinely be entertained, it has to have substance that can instantly be applied back to the audience’s reality. We are cerebral characters, and the stimulation has to be there, whether it is the plot that has that something, or the story structure has that something, there is always more to a story than entertainment. That “something” is social commentary, politics, or an education tool. I would dare to say they are synonymous when dealing with film.

From every film that we watched in class, there was some form of those 3 “somethings”. Gandhi was a film about a great leader’s life, but even in telling his life story, there was his life’s mission he was fighting for being taught to the audience. In Gangs of Wasseypur, it was an entertaining crime movie that pushed a lot on class roles and gender roles. Even something as mainstream as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai had pushed for a type of social commentary on a very broad level with gender.

No matter what film or story it is, there is always some type of gem to be taken away from a film. The question is: are you just going to be entertained, or are you going to find that gem?

It started political but then I went on a rant…

I’ve never been one to look deeply into films on my own. I’m always interested in the narrative, the story rather, and the costumes and music, but the politics of non-political films have consistently alluded me. After our discussion on Thursday it’s obvious to me that nearly every film of any substance can be read as having political undertones. I knew the Lion King was basically Hamlet. And obviously the Hunger Games have blatant politics and rebellion. But in films where these are not apparent from the trailer the politics are subtle, believable, and possibly more important to everyday audiences. I suppose the question is if they are intended or if they simply seep in from the influence of the writer, director, actors, producers, and so on. I think the answer would have to be a bit of both. When you’re a writer or any sort of artist really your opinions and peculiar ideas must naturally become part of the work you’re putting your heart into. Sentimental, I know.

Beyond the idea of sneaking ones soul into a narrative, I really enjoy the idea that in films like The Hunger Games it is easier to define the enemy or the bad guy, and the strong, resilient underdog. There are obvious sides. In reality no one ever sees themselves as the ‘bad guy’. This makes it more difficult to understand, but also more realistic. As humans we, non of us, think alike. In the films we have seen it’s difficult to always put the protagonists and antagonists into neat little boxes. Especially in Bhumika. The protagonist herself is less than likable. In stead of fighting against societal politics of her world she turns into them. Believable, but not the escape from reality that we look for in a film.

Maybe it isn’t even that the political ideals of the creators gets boiled into the narrative, maybe we find it ourselves. Or maybe at this point its incredibly difficult to separate any aspect of our lives from politics so wee see that in our favorite characters. Seems like both a good, and horribly upsetting thing all at once.

 

Bollywood= Cool

I think i’m the only somali person that prior to this class wasn’t really into Bollywood.  In fact it was not until this class that i even paid attention to this particular phenomenon/genre. I’m actually not even a movie person at all. Everyone that is into Bollywood in my world was very much a romantic and pretty much love-sick.  I saw that as a bad thing and never cared for Bollywood. Even American films, I would say I watched the Notebook maybe once and thought it was too long as oppose to my friends who have seen it 10+ times.   However I cant deny the similarities between my culture and the hindu culture and it was fun learning first hand the material.  Even watching the films I caught similarities in language ( Ha meaning yes and laakin meaning but { although laakin is an arabic word}). I’ve seen more and more somali women wearing saari’s to their weddings now which is cool.  I think its timeless, beautiful and very well-tailored. I don’t think ive seen a woman looking hideous in a saari ever, regardless of race; it compliments the woman’s body, it executes the covered not really covered look.  I now know that Bollywood is much more than singing and dancing and romance though every film has to have some sort of romance in order to propel other emotions, where there is love there is grief, with love alone you can distinguish who the bad guy and the good guy is.  The antagonists always has that vain love where women are subjected in order to heighten that disgust factor, its kind of cool how films do that, its like the directors go “let’s make women mad”. Ultimately for someone who never got into Bollywood, I think its very entertaining and much more in-depth narratively than we think.

Politics in Cinema

Its funny how we watch films so nonchalantly and these films demand thought in every single aspect of the film.  I tend to read texts and pick out the political standpoint or the satire rather quickly more than films.  Its a habit that society has built for us.  Entertainment is key like someone said in class. The way we watch films says a lot about us as a society. These directors feed off of fans and normally don’t go against the grain.  The demand for paranormal and YA end of the world dystopian films that are heavily surrounded by pop culture–is what society thrives off of.  I feel like the political notions in cinema are subtle for that reason, people don’t want to think. Escapism is generally the rule of thumb with projecting these box office films. I think if directors did care about the greater good of the people they would stop making foreigners the antagonist in films and stop using guns as a cool thing.  Its actually sick that we cheer on the death and dying of these antagonists.  This eye for an eye revenge/retaliation is unknowingly taught in films. Maybe thats a political agenda in and of itself. However I still want the Lannisters dead lol.

Class

Through out all of the films we have watched there were some levels of classism in each film, from gangs who thrive off money and wealth, to kids being brought up in a poverty stricken neighborhood. classism is deffinately a political protest worthy issue to depict in either text or film.  classicism and casting is nothing new unfortunately.  It just sucks that the tribe in which you are born in or whether your family is wealthy or not defines your future.  I came across this video on facebook about casting and it was sad, it mimics aspects of my culture with tribes. social stratification and classism is an ongoing issue that is worth being critiqued more in film.