Movies and their “hidden agenda”

By Abiyyu Putra Hassyah and Fadhil Ahmad Fauzan

The film industry is arguably one of the most impactful sectors in modern society. Sitcoms and romantic comedy shows and films make us laugh, psychological thrillers help us see the world from an improved perspective, superhero movies help us to cope with moral obligation to do good deeds. Historical films help us understand where we come from.

The idea of movies having influencing messages is not a recent thing. It has existed since so many years ago. Movies can reflect the political, social, and cultural elements in a society. From that feature, movies allow certain people or groups to utilise them to spread influence on the audience.

Triumph Des Willens (Triumph of The Will), a 1936 Nazi propaganda film by Leni Riefenstahl, can be cited as one of the examples. The movie’s plot revolves around the rally of the people of Germany to unite and come together to kick out the Jews and others considered degenerating by the Nazi party.

Ahmed is a moviegoer who considers movies a medium of political influence, aside from being as a story for entertaining the audience.

“While many movies do revolve around the concept of being enjoyable for all and just being entertainment, they have also boiled down to pandering certain audiences for the sake of making money,” he noted.

With that being said, we can’t deny that there are several movies with a unique purpose that force the audience to believe in what they believe and on what they spread while trying to entertain the audiences.

Some of those in the movie industry have made several films such as that, but it did not catch the audience’s interest. Moreover, it received a backlash from the audience and was accused of hard indoctrination of their ideal morality, and funny enough that public relations is assigned to deflect the attack of these accusations.

For example, one of the shows being developed by Warner Bros Television and distributed on CW network, “Batwoman”. It tells the story about Katherine Kane, Bruce Wayne’s cousin, as the one who feels that she has the responsibility to conquer her problems in order to safeguard Gotham City by taking on the persona of Batwoman. 

What actually happens behind the scenes is much worse than we thought, since recently they recast the main actress and changed her character into an African American woman for the second season. The reason being the looks of the previous actress “aren’t gay enough”. It’s like the statement was trying to stereotype the LGBT community. And also, one of the reasons she was re-casted is because of forced black washing and representation.

Moreover, this series is categorised PG-13. Which means that people aged from 13 and above can watch this series. Kids do love superheroes, but what happens if the one that they idolise happens to do something that defies the law of nature? In one of the episodes, there is a scene where the main character has an intercourse with the same sex, it is like they tried to make a same-sex relationship a common thing in the world. 

Another example comes from the rebooted version of Charlie’s Angels that was aired in 2019. According to a movie news site WeGotThisCovered, the movie receives some backlash due to a forced feminism that appears too much in the movie, resulting with the movie itself tanked at box office. Elizabeth Banks, the director of this movie, appeared to blame men for the disastrous rating of the movie. 

She stated that “if this movie doesn’t make money it reinforces a stereotype in Hollywood that men don’t go see women do action movies”. As can be seen from her statement, this whole establishment is vividly made to indoctrinate, rather than to entertain.

Based on the two cases that have been mentioned, all of these movies talk about the awareness of and actively engaged in several crucial facts and topics, particularly on racial and social injustice issues, which can be identified as “woke”. 

However, it can’t be denied that there are several good clout movies which received immensely positive reaction from the audiences.

The box office blockbuster hit, “Marvel Studios Black Panther”, brings to life the legendary Marvel hero T’Challa aka Black Panther and depicts the events that transpire following “Captain America: Civil War” that led to him becoming King of Wakanda. The intellectual and physical conflicts between T’Challa and the antagonist, Killmonger, give the picture its ‘wokeness’.

Moreover, the plot derives that T’Challa initially feels that Wakanda should keep its technology concealed in order to defend it, whilst Killmonger argues that Wakanda should reveal its technology to the world and utilise it to aid their people in military battles overseas. As the picture is unpacked, the political discourses become more apparent, laying the groundwork for a discussion on morality and race.

Another good woke movie besides Black Panther is “12 Years a Slave” which is based on the actual tale of Solomon Northup, a free black man living in Washington, D.C. in 1853. He was abducted and sold into slavery, and he was separated from his wife and children for a period of 12 years. The video offers light on the harsh realities that slaves faced in America. Because Northup is isolated from his family, the film depicts violent sequences of physical brutality from lashings, torture, and emotional torment.

With all being said about several good movies and bad movies that choose the “woke” route as the plot device, for the audience, it was a subjective score that was being critiqued, which means that every movie that has been produced and directed, is for the audience who has a preference for each genre. However, we need to walk back and realise that “wokeness” can’t stand by itself; it has to be accompanied by a good main plot.***

(This article is written as part of pair assignment series on special reports for Feature Writing class)

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