The Influence of Film on Society's Morality

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In his article “The Way We Are,” Sydney Pollack

Sydney Pollack, one of the greatest filmmakers, producers, and actors in the world, stated that there is a close relationship between society and film. In his writing, Sydney Pollack’s primary goal was to address an issue that had attracted great attention from politicians, teachers, parents, and other stakeholders in the society: the influence of film on societies’ morality (Martin, 2018, p. 3). Pollack noted that most people believed that the explicit content integrated with movies was the primary cause of the moral decay in contemporary communities. Au contraire, the Sydney Pollack opined that movies are similar to products in the market and thus should reflect the society’s preferences. In tandem with this, Pollack said that filmmakers’ personal preferences and experiences were useless in the filmmaking process since the consumers they must make movies according to the consumers’ preferences. In contrast to Sydney Pollack’s view, I am confident that filmmakers’ intersectionality and positionality affect their values, assumptions, and beliefs of the world and thus their paradigms of thought and action.

The Concept of Intersectionality

Aristotle, one of the most influential Greek philosophers, described human beings as social animals who are in constant interaction with others. According to the philosopher, any person who does not interact with others in the community is either a beast or a god. Similar to Aristotle, I believe that no person is self-sufficient but rather are in continuous interaction with others as they attempt to reach personal or shared goals. During interactions, various people from different social groups meet. Naturally, people are from different racial, ethnic, religious, socioeconomic, and gender groups. Admittedly, individuals experience oppression or privileges depending on their social categorization. Contrary to popular beliefs, these categorizations are not independent but rather highly interconnected amongst themselves. These social groups form an interdependent and overlapping system of disadvantages and discrimination. For instance, Black people are more disadvantaged in life than their White counterparts. Similarly, women are more discriminated than men while people with physical disabilities are more disadvantaged than their physically abled peers (Grunig et al., 2013, p. 12). In tandem with this, it is obvious that a Black woman living with physical disabilities faces numerous disadvantages. Kimberle Crenshaw, the social theorist who first coined the term “intersectionality” described it as an approach to understanding a person or group according to the multiple discriminations they face. In other words, intersectionality is taking into account individuals’ interconnected experiences and identities to fathom the nature of the privileges or prejudices that they experience and how these factors influence their life values, assumptions, and beliefs (Hart, 2016, p. 375). Admittedly, a filmmaker’s intersectionality and positionality greatly influence one’s film-making and viewing practice.

My Intersectionality and Positionality and How It Influences My Film-Making And Viewing Practice

Ableism is one of the most influential yet less studied social categories that determine people’s values, assumptions, and beliefs about the world. Admittedly, people’s bodily functionality greatly determine the privileges or discriminations that one experiences. The modern society is characterized by ableism, which is the act of giving preferential treatment to people with full body functionality. On average, a fully abled person enjoys more privileges in life than an individual living with disabilities. I am not severely obese, chronically ill, or physically disabled but rather a fully abled man with a positive outlook toward life. Admittedly, the contemporary society easily and regularly accommodates most needs of the abled individuals. As a person with full body functionality, I am able to execute my everyday activities such as walking, talking, and getting dressed with ease. I can play sports, use public transport, and interact with others seamlessly. The intersectionality of ableism has greatly influenced my values, assumptions, and beliefs about the world. Through my interaction with others, especially people living with disabilities, I have learned to appreciate the small things in life such as accessing places and services that may not be available for others. Surprisingly, the aspect of ableism has influenced my film-making and viewership practice. Unlike most people with full body functionality, I am captivated by films that depict the struggles and triumphs of people living with disabilities. Similarly, I am motivated to produce movies that highlight people living with disabilities as conquerors.

Education

It is without a doubt that education greatly influences people’s values, assumptions, and beliefs about the world. Not only does education help a person by opening new opportunities, but also expand their perspectives on life. Personally, I studied in Nigeria before relocating to South Africa to pursue my education in film-making. Undoubtedly, this privilege has changed my perspective on life and filmmaking and viewing practices. Unlike illiterate and semi-literate people who are awed by blind faith and superstitions, I am thrilled by films that integrate scientific reasoning and logic to interpret the causes and effects of a certain phenomenon. My education levels have substantially influenced my production paradigm. My high education levels have not resulted in ignorance but rather genuine and deep empathy for others. I am knowledgeable and sensitive to the cultural, moral, physical, and psychological milieu that I find myself. Notably, I engage in in-depth and extensive research to enhance my creativity. I think globally but act locally in my film-producing practices.

Gender

Kimberly Crenshaw first used the social constructs of gender to draw attention to the impact of intersectionality. A high number of people experience discrimination or privileges based on their gender. Admittedly, being a man, I face less discrimination compared to people who identify as female. Nonetheless, I face discrimination and privileges that influence my values, assumptions, and beliefs about the world. In the contemporary society, men are expected to be strong, courageous, hardworking, and self-sufficient. It is almost a taboo for men to express deep emotions or cry despite their life experiences. Further, men are expected to be able to financially support themselves and their families lest they are seen as weaklings. Due to the high expectations, most men who are unable to meet the ideal standards suffer in silence and experience psychological distress. Gender as an intersection and position has influenced my film-making and viewing practices. Since childhood, I was discouraged to watch feminine films such as romantic musicals and comedies. This social construct has greatly influenced my production paradigm. Although I make movies for the general audience, I am thrilled by films that include gunfights, car chases, explosions, and thorough investigations.

Sexuality

Apart from gender, Kimberly Crenshaw acknowledged sexuality as an important intersectionality and positionality factor that determines individuals’ paradigm of thought and action. Naturally, gay and transgender people face more discrimination than straight people. Personally, I am a straight Black male who is married to a Caucasian woman from Switzerland. Admittedly, my sexuality has substantially influenced my paradigm of thought and action. Given that I have had limited interactions with gays, lesbians, and bisexual people, most of my views involve straight people. However, as an educated and well-traveled person, I occasionally watch movies with gays, lesbians, and transgender people to understand their worldview. Nonetheless, my production paradigm inclines towards heterosexual-based movies.

Family

As Sydney Pollack, one of the greatest filmmakers in the world noted, a family has a great influence on the movie producing process. Notably, family values determine a person’s assumptions and beliefs about the world. In Nigeria, my home country, a family is perceived as the primary building block of a society and thus is central to life. Unlike in Switzerland, where individuality is supreme, both Nigeria and South Africa are based on communism, and family values are superlative. Family as an intersection and position has affected my production, communication, and interaction paradigms. Naturally, I like watching and producing films that uphold family values. I am thrilled by movies with themes of equality, freedom, justice, peace, and individual and community progress.

Ethnicity

Ethnicity is one of the factors that determine the discrimination and privileges that a person experiences in society. To some extent, a person’s ethnic identity determines one’s access to opportunities that beget power, status, and wealth. Personally, my ethnic group has greatly determined my values, beliefs, and attitudes towards life. Having come from a small ethnic group in Nigeria, I have learned that persistence is the only strategy for getting things that I deserve in life. As a result, this intersectionality and positionality have influenced my film-making and viewership preferences. More specifically, I enjoy watching and making films that relate to the struggles of ordinary people. Events that social problems and the ordinary audience can resonate with.

References

 

Grunig, L.A., Hon, L.C. and Toth, E.L., 2013. Women in public relations: How gender influences practice. London: Routledge.

Hart, A., Kerrigan, F. and Vom Lehn, D., 2016. Experiencing film: Subjective personal introspection and popular film consumption. International Journal of Research in Marketing, vol. 33, no. 2,  pp.375-391.

Martin, J., 2018. Screening the Sacred: Religion, myth, and ideology in popular American film. London: Routledge.

September 25, 2023
Category:

Entertainment

Subcategory:

Movies

Subject area:

Film Analysis

Number of pages

6

Number of words

1508

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