Hollywood’s penchant for putting left-leaning messages in its product is more powerful than many realize.
A new study suggests audiences experience a “leftward shift” after seeing films with a progressive bent.
A team of political scientists at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana set out to explore the power of political messages in popular films, and found that they “possess the ability to change attitudes, especially on issues that are unframed by the media….”
Around 300 students at Notre Dame – half of whom said they regarded themselves as conservative – were surveyed on their political views, shown a film, then questioned again.Some were asked to watch a “control” movie seen as having no underlying political leanings, while others were shown As Good As It Gets with Jack Nicholson or The Rainmaker with Matt Damon.
Study participants who saw films with a progressive bent “were likely to experience leftward shifts in attitude, regardless of their stances beforehand,” according to the report.
Viewers come expecting to be entertained and are not prepared to encounter and evaluate political messages as they would during campaign advertisements or network news,” he said.
The aforementioned films aren’t nearly as partisan in their storytelling as some Hollywood product. Consider films like Green Zone, Promised Land or Avatar which are far more obvious in their left-of-center spirit. The latter films, however, touch on themes that have been explored extensively in media outlets.