Can the Arts Influence Change in Society

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Our society today is a visual one that is inevitably influenced by the by the arts: painting, prints, photography, movies, television, and literature. Artists have used their medium as a way to influence people's opinions throughout history, for both noble and corrupt purposes. In doing so, the aim of the artist is to convey the facts of an issue and influence people's opinions to either garner support or disapproval for a particular cause.

In recent years the arts have become increasingly politicized, especially in cinema. So, for the purpose of this paper, I will focus mainly on that medium. Take for example the movie Syriana, an Academy Award winning geopolitical thriller. Syriana, adapted from former CIA agent Robert Baer's memoir, See No Evil, focuses on the vast influence of the oil industry's political, economic, legal, and social effects, such as corruption, poverty, and terrorism. Ultimately, the film tries to illustrate the United States dependence on foreign oil and the ill effects of multinational corporations manipulating global politics for their own profit.

Michael Moore's 2003 Academy Award Winning movie, Bowling for Columbine, is another example of a movie influencing society. In the movie Moore tries to explore the reasons and causes for the Columbine High School massacre, other acts of gun violence, and why the United States has higher rates of violent crimes than other developed nation in the world. The movie focuses on the background and environment in which the massacre took place, and some common public opinions and assumptions regarding gun violence. The film uses an informal, artistic look into the nature of gun violence in the United States, focusing on guns as the controversial symbol of American freedom and its possible paradoxical self-destruction.

Although highly controversial, due to the exposure in Bowling for Columbine, K-Mart, where the two boys responsible for the Columbine High School massacre purchased their...
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