Use Your Brain, Don’t Eat Someone Else’s

Nick Bolton

11-20-11

Pop Cult

Use your brain, don’t eat someone else’s

When attending the movies, one is paying to see someone else’s ideas come to life. The nature of the movie watching experience is to place the viewer in the action. First the forty-foot screen, now 3-D movies are attempting to make the surreal more perceivable. A movie can even persuade the emotions of those watching, depending on its ability to suck the viewer into the scene. Filmmakers are wise to the influence of their work on the masses, and effectively use cinema to sway public interest on certain issues. Film-goers consider themselves too intelligent to be brainwashed by movies, but movie producers have proven effective in hiding their motives. Metaphors are often embedded within film that cannot be seen unless looked for, which promote the beliefs of the writer, director or studio. Stories, like Animal Farm, can appear to about a gang of barnyard animals on the surface, all the while being a critique on communism. The future is used in pictures as a metaphor for the problems of present time. In Avatar, director James Cameron employs over the top special effects to sell his discontent with the direction of American politics and deforestation. In the future, Earth is now depleted of its natural resources and begins to colonize new planets with absolute disregard for the ingenious people, representing Americans’ contemporary thirst for oil, military arrogance and cultural intolerance. Apocalyptic movies will highlight injustices or negative trends and associate them with the cause of the end world. These movies can inspire people to act on current societal problems they otherwise would not have by shedding light on what may happen if the same problems were neglected. Filmmakers use the future as tool to focus on the issues of today, disguising their politically or socially charged intentions with surface entertainment.

Television and movies teach that every story must come to an end. The end is sometimes happy, sometimes sad but nevertheless essential to the story. Movies can be ruined if the end cannot provide clarity or closure to the viewer. The story of humankind remains to be concluded, forcing each person to fabricate their own unique rendition of judgement day.  The concept of the end of the world pre-dates history as Armaggedeon-like stories litter ancient folklore, but the possibility of the apocalypse became real for most people after the inception of nuclear warfare. The end of the world can spark different emotions from different people though fear is the strongest.  Some people seem to desire societal collapse. Religious folks clammer for the end as prophesied, so that the ill-willed shall be issued their just rewards. The marginalized may root for the downfall of society and possibility of a new class order. Even one with a guilty conscience may realize the end of the world be preferable to retribution. Society as a whole prefers to ignore the potential doom and repress the fear of annihilation, whist Hollywood toys with our natural fears to sell movies and push its agenda. Of the myriad of embellished end of the world accounts depicted in cinema, the most conceivable interpretation installs maximum terror in the viewer. The more farfetched the explanation for destruction is, the less likely the viewer will experience a tangible sense of insecurity. Thus, the most frightening depictions of apocalypse deal with disease, climate change, natural disasters, and the walking dead. These futuristic problems that destroy the world are issues we face today. Movies with these issues aim to guilt or scare the viewer into making better choices, with the associated ultimatum change your ways or the world ends.

The walking dead, or zombies while non-existent, are very real and naturally disturbing in the eyes of most people. Zombies dig up humans’ fears of death and shove it in their face, as the modern zombie is often a re-animated human corpse.  Zombies’ also perturb people because the bring out the fear of the uncanny documented by Freud,”the uncanny is that class of the frightening which leads back to what is known of old and long familiar.” The human form well known and familiar as a positive figure, mother, spouse, friend when turned into a cannibalistic drone is enough to bring out this fear. Since a zombie is all ready dead, they are unlikely detoured without a swift removal of the head or bludgeoning of the brain. Zombies’ overpower their victims in hoards and deceased humans become new zombies joining them in their quest for flesh. Meanwhile, the remaining humans must sequester themselves in hopes of survival. Zombie takeovers can be seen as a metaphor for Gramsci’s resistance and incorporation, as the majority (zombies) seek out the minority (humans) to convert them eventually over-running the minority and grouping them in with the brainless mob. Upon delving deeper, zombies can be likened to the mindless American consumer. Zombies’ cannot think for themselves or make informed decisions, rather they blindly follow orders and consume as much as they can. The same way American consumers’ do not think about where their T-shirts came from, the conditions of production, or who they are supporting when making purchasing decisions. They are just content in brainlessly following the trends, and over indulging in material goods.

Pop Culture is able to use the future as a metaphor for the issues of today by deceptively pushing a films’ entertainment value to expose the largest audience to the social critiques disguised throughout the film. The subtle use of themes and metaphors prevents the viewer from noticing attempted brainwashing and rejecting it, as they went to the movie to be entertained and not politically influenced. In order to not be influenced by film or find messages deeply undercover, the viewer must be aware and involved. No entertainment is created without the bias of the artist shining through and nothing should be taken at face value. Those who follow the media’s lead and do not ask questions are no more than zombies themselves; slaves to the will of Hollywood. By practicing media analysis, the consumer can arm himself against negative influences and learn more about just causes.

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