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Hollywood raises political  consciousness 
Political messages in  feature films 

Edited  by 
Michael  Haas


Nonfiction;  Paperback: $39.95 
ISBN:  978-1-4331266-0-4 
Hardcover:  $149.95 
ISBN:  978-1-4331266-1-1 
E-Book  from www.peterlang.com 
ISBN:  978-1-4539-1372-7 
Editor: Michael  Haas is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee for his work on behalf 
of human rights in a  career as an academic political scientist. Besides 
the University of Hawai‘i, he  has taught at Northwestern University, Loyola 
Marymount University, Occidental  College, Purdue University, the University 
of California (Riverside), the  University of London, and six campuses of 
California State  University.   



Feature films establish images of politics and political systems because  
they depict, often subliminally, a structure of power in any situation 
involving  humans and a procedure for raising problems and making decisions. Films 
 sometimes explicitly depict historical situations, social problems, and 
also can  propagandize. Those who see films, therefore, have a grasp of 
politics without  taking a course in political science and may be galvanized to 
action as a  result. Those who teach political science often have to correct 
errors and  misunderstandings in films.  
Accordingly, the present volume undertakes three tasks: (1) To define the  “
political film” as a distinct genre. (2) To demonstrate how films have 
defined  politics to film audiences. (3) To illustrate how films treat specific 
issues  politically, including civil society, disasters, and elections.   
To do so, the editor Michael  Haas brings together the following 
outstanding political scientists, who  undertake the three tasks in a professional 
manner through scholarly essays that  serve to develop a theory of the 
political film: 
Andrew L. Aoki  (Augsburg College) 
Michael A.  Genovese (Loyola  Marymount University) 
Ernest D. Giglio  (Lycoming  College) 
Elizabeth Haas  (Fairfield University) 
Hans Noel  (Georgetown  University) 
John W. Williams  (Principia College)  
 
It's  indisputable that films contain messages. Most messages have meaning 
to the  sender, some consciously intended, some not. Many of these messages, 
whether  intended or not, have social impact, much of which eventually must 
be understood  as political. I know of no one who has made more of a study 
of the political  impact of the messages we ingest, whether we're aware of 
it or not, than has  Michael Haas.—Mike Farrell, star of M*A*S*H and 
Providence and author of Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and  Activist" and Of 
Mule and  Man.


Contents 
Introduction (by Michael Haas) explains the design  of the book. 
Part I. Defining the Political  Film 
Chapter 1. Films Contain Political  Messages (by Michael  Haas) provides a 
history of political film and a list of the components of  filmmaking, from 
initial conception to box office screening, indicating where  political 
content may be inserted or deleted. 
Chapter 2. Art and Politics: The  Political Film as a Pedagogical Tool (by 
Michael A. Genovese) points out  that films, the most accessible and popular 
art form in the contemporary world,  must overcome four barriers—the desire 
of filmviewers for light entertainment,  the fast pace of public issues, 
resistance to overly preachy dialog, and the  fear of producers that political 
films will not sell at the box office. Thus,  political films continue to 
seek acceptance by clever artistic innovation.   
Chapter 3. Search for the Political  Film (by Ernest D.  Giglio) traces 
political films within four purposes—as ideology, propaganda,  history, and as 
an agent of change. To be a “political film,” he insists that  the 
producer, filmmaker, or studio must consciously want to make a political  statement, 
and that audiences must perceive the film as conveying a political  
message.  
Part II. How Films Define  the Political 
Chapter 4. The Real Oliver North  Loses: The Reel Bob Roberts Wins (by John 
W. Williams) contrasts four  candidates for the U.S. Senate—two fictional 
and two real. Employing cultivation  analysis, the author analyzes the media’
s social construction of candidates in  creating images of politics—focus on 
everyday topics, make cultural or literary  allusions, exaggerate traits of 
the candidates, and provide background in the  form of timely events, 
issues, and personalities.  
Chapter 5. Escape from the Bowling  Alley: Traditional Associations as the 
Antagonist in Popular Film (by Hans Noel)  refutes Robert Putnam’s 
influential view that Americans do not socialize  together as in the past, 
undermining civil society, and instead finds in six  films how the younger generation 
rejects traditional associations as  inappropriate for their more diverse 
lives. 
Chapter 6. The Politics of Disaster  Films (by Elizabeth  Haas). The 21st 
century’s steady stream of disasters, more real than imagined,  has 
stimulated films that exploit fears to demonstrate that individual heroism  is 
possible, though government is ineffective, as in disaster films of the  past. 
Chapter 7. Liberalism and the Blending  of a Kaleidoscopic Culture (by 
Andrew L. Aoki) demonstrates  assimilationist tensions experienced by Asian 
Americans in recent popular films.  He concludes that amalgamationism, wherein 
one can both be American and Asian,  is the cinematic answer to those who 
fear a balkanization of American into  separate ethnic groups. 
Chapter 8. Films about  Thailand and  Vietnam (by Michael Haas) contrasts 
stereotypic portrayals of  Thais and Vietnamese in films made outside the two 
countries, whereas the film  industries in both countries show considerable 
diversity in film content.   
Epilog. Using Political Films in the Classroom (by Michael A. Genovese) 
demonstrates five ways in which films  used in undergraduate teaching yield 
extraordinary  benefits. 
Appendix. Films Nominated by the Political Film  Society, 1986–2014     
Combined References 
Film Index 
Subject Index  

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