Title

Government on the Silver Screen: Contemporary American Cinema’s Depiction of Attractive, Capable Bureaucrats, Incompetent Cops, and Brave Soldiers

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-2013

Publication Source

PS: Political Science & Politics

Abstract

Movies continue to be the most accessible art form to Americans and that reach allows films to have a tremendous effect on moviegoers. With more than a billion movie tickets sold annually in the United States, the ability of movies to influence the perceptions of moviegoers is pronounced. Frequently, the government is part of those depictions. Although film is routinely studied in a host of disciplines, a focus on the portrayal of government generally and government officials more specifically, remains elusive. Instead of using a case-study approach, we examine recent, popular films to investigate how government is portrayed generally and how individual governmental characters are depicted. For our sample, we use the top-10 box office grossing films from 2000 to 2009 to assess how government is depicted in the films most likely seen by the majority of movie-watching Americans. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we found that films generally have a mixed view of government with more negative depictions than positive. However, in examining bureaucrats, police officers, soldiers, and politicians, we found a much more positive depiction of these individual government characters. Americans may view government negatively, but in film they see positive depictions of individual civil servants.

Inclusive pages

569-579

ISBN/ISSN

1049-0965

Publisher

American Political Science Association

Volume

46

Issue

3

Peer Reviewed

yes