AirTalk for January 10, 2014

Can films change our political attitudes?


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Michael Caine and Tobey Maguire star in 'The Cider House Rules,' directed by Lasse Hallstrom

Blockbuster films can make lasting impacts on our political attitudes, according to recent research.

A University of Notre Dame study published last month found that viewers who watched a movie with a health care-related message—in this case Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Rainmaker” or James L. Brooks’ “As Good As It Gets,” saw their support for the Affordable Care Act increase.

The findings build on other research demonstrating film’s impact on public opinion. “The Day After Tomorrow” changed minds about global warming, one study found.  “The Cider House Rules” shifted opinions on abortion, according to another. “All The President’s Men” impacted the public’s view of the press along partisan lines.

What movies have you seen that changed your mind on a political issue? How effective can message films be? How does film’s political influence compare to that of news reports or advertisements?

AirTalk listeners shared lots of examples of films that changed their minds or shaped their perspectives on political and social issues. What do you think of the titles--listed below--that they mentioned?

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
A Better Life (2011)
Sophie’s Choice (1982)
John Q (2001)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Girl in the Café (2005)
Boys in the Band (1970)
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967)
Network (1976)
Blood Diamond (2006)
The Corner mini-series (2000)
Sicko (2007)
Gran Torino (2008)
Billy Jack (1971)


Kenneth Mulligan, professor of political science at Southern Illinois University

Andy Klein, film critic for KPCC and the L.A. Times Community Papers chain

Alynda Wheat, film critic for KPCC and People

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