As someone who did a degree in English with a minor in Queer and Film studies, I can tell you that I’ve watched my fair share of movies in my life, and I’m a self-proclaimed movie buff and watch movies like it’s nobody’s business. These past two years, with the on and off lockdowns and the pandemic raging on, I watched more movies than I can count, some better than others and others which were bottom of the barrel bad, He’s All That and The Kissing Booth series am talking about you.
These are the things that movies have taught me, and studies conducted on human behavior have shown how our worldview and how we see things are shaped by cinema because cinema gives us a glimpse of the world we live in.
You learn History
Films can shape how we view the world and treat others, cinema plays a great role in how we view the world we inhabit, and by watching more diverse movies, we learn to become more compassionate. Movies do their fair share to tell us the history of marginalized voices and the history of people that have been silenced and erased from history books. I have learned so much about queer history through queer movies like 120 BPM or Pride; one of my favorite quotes from pride is:
“Now, there is a long and honorable tradition in the gay community and it has stood us in good stead for a very long time. When somebody calls you a name… You take it and you own it!”
Movies like these teach us the history of those who came before us, and for the gay community, this is monumental because we have been erased and shunned to the sidelines for the majority of history. This quote is a testimony of the resistance of our community and how we reclaimed terms that were used against us as badges of honors. As my grandma used to tell me, it’s not what you’re called but what you respond to that matters.
They give you the feels.
We all know the saying laughter is the best medicine by now, but so is crying, and movies allow us to express all these emotions; we become so emotionally invested with the characters that we feel their hurt and cry when they cry. Research carried out by Oxford University suggests that good movies positively affect our brains, boost up endorphins, and increase pain tolerance will ultimately make you feel better. If you want to have a cry feast, you ought to watch The Notebook, Marriage story, or my current favorite movie, Your Name Engraved Herein. One of the most heartbreaking quotes from this movie is:
“So you can like girls, but I can’t like boys?
Is your love bigger than the love I give?
Tell me. What’s the difference between your love and mine? Tell me the difference!”
It’s better to go through this movie blind because it will destroy you, stream it now on Netflix. Films can be a safe space for us and can express things that we can’t express ourselves and can be a sort of escapism while at the same time being representative of our life experiences.
They drive social change.
As argued earlier, films shape how we view the world and interact with others; they also shape our way of thinking and inspire social change. It teaches us empathy, raises politically charged questions and makes us experience things that we would otherwise not understand or go through. Movies make us see the world through the lens of another, making us more comprehensive of other people’s journeys and struggles.
“You want change without sacrifice, you want peace without struggle. The World Doesn’t work that way” – Allegiant.
This can be anything from horror movies like Get Out, to superhero movies like Black Panther and Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, to films inspired from real life like Bombshell and Twelve Years of Slaves; these movies show us a more bleak and realistic picture of the world and all the atrocities minorities have to endure in this white heteronormative patriarchal world we live in.
Cinema drives social changes and makes us more aware of what’s happening globally, from the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement to Black Lives Matter to Timesup. Cinema was created for entertainment but is now a vehicle for social change.
Sound off in the comments section below and give us some movie recommendations and tell us a bit about your favorite movies.