Movies have been a platform for entertainment since their inception, serving as an escape from reality and a dive into a new world on the big screen. They are also an influence on the inner workings of society and culture. According to historymatters.gmu.edu, "Film [can be]viewed as a social and cultural history," examining the lives of the people through the scope of a lens. Movies are not just to entertain, but also can serve to educate and bring about social awareness on issues of the day, on history or on any other subject.
More than an entertaining legacy
"Rocky" is a film that focuses on the boxing career of Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone. Since its debut in 1976, it has grown into a franchise that paved the way for "Rocky" II, III, IV, V and the most recent film, "Rocky Balboa," in 2006. It has influenced generations of boxers, professional and amateur. It brought light to the struggling plight of many young professional athletes who have promise but are seen as the underdog.
These movies have left a legacy of continuation for the storyline of Rocky Balboa by creating the next saga, "Creed," which focuses instead on the son of the Apollo Creed, Rocky's high-profile opponent in the first movie. The Rocky movies and new Creed movies have had a real impact on society. Even today, grandparents, parents and children can understand references to the Rocky movies, which continue to inspire and motivate youngsters and athletes around the world.
"Terminator" is a 1984 science-fiction film that takes the concept of advanced robotics to an apocalyptic, self-destructive level. It paved the way for "Terminator 2: Judgement Day," "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," "Terminator Salvation" and the most recent, "Terminator Genisys," in 2015. The first movie gained enough momentum to prompt remakes in order to continue the storyline in conjunction with advanced robotic technologies today. People from around the world use colloquialisms directly from "Terminator" even decades later.
These movies not only served to entertain the masses but also started conversation on the path that technology, robotics and artificial intelligence were taking. They helped raise serious questions about the "what if" scenarios that technology could take. Some people argue that the movies had an impact on the great leaps in robotics and innovative smart technologies that we see today.
Movies that influence social conversation
Documentaries inform and educate viewers on many different socio-political and cultural issues. Diana Barrett and Sheila Leddy studied the impact of film on society in their research piece, "Assessing Creative Media's Social Impact." They studied the true power of what film can do, like promoting community engagement, outreach campaigns, raising awareness on a grassroots level and possibly influencing public policy. They discovered that documentaries were able to enact social change by including open conversations between the directors and subjects of the movie. This included inviting input from experts, scholars, activists and historians, allowing an audience to better connect and thus be open to their own form of taking action.
Specifically, this kind of film, when promoted through emerging technologies such as like social networking, was able to develop into "concrete ways for people from all demographics to get involved in making real change in their own lives, community and world…for people to share their experiences of social change and action…"
Documentaries and their impact on social clarity
Two informative and intense documentaries that influenced public awareness and social debate are Michael Moore's 2007 film "Sicko" and Ricky Lake's 2008 film "The Business of Being Born."
"Sicko" was about the United States' poor health-care system and how it compared to other industrialized countries. Although strides have been made since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, as much as 20 million Americans still do not have health insurance. Millions are still underinsured or do not have the same quality of care as those with more money in the bank.
"The Business of Being Born" was an in-depth look into childbirth and women's reproductive health in regard to health care. This is an issue that is still very relevant to the social debate today. There is a correlation between women's reproductive health and the cuts of social programs that directly affect women who seek proper preventative care before, during and after pregnancy. In the film, it showed the devaluing and criticism of past birthing techniques, like midwives and natural births. More and more women became aware that their choices were being negated by policy.