Does Cinema Have The Power To Change Mindsets?

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Cinema is a large portion of media consumed by individuals on a daily basis. It gives us insight into individuals and differences, exposing us to ideas bigger than our individual selves, it creates awareness and makes us more accepting of cultures, designs and their expression around us. 

Does or doesn’t cinema have the power to influence mindsets? Albert Bandura’s Bobo Doll Theory suggests that social behavior can be learned through the process of observation in kids as young as 3-6 years old whereby these children were merely shown a video of adults in an aggressive and non-aggressive model, and both groups replicated the modeled behavior i.e. the control group showed no aggression towards the bobo doll, whereas the experiment group replicated the adults behavior and demonstrated aggression towards the bobo doll. 

Cinema is also used to display ideologies to the masses and is thus believed to influence thoughts, behaviors, norms and form opinions. While there may exist choice to select the form and viewpoint of media one consumes, one essentially consumes multiple perspectives that influence individual thought processes by leaving, as little as, a single question unanswered through a cliffhanger. This means that cinema has the power to not only influence but even create beliefs, opinions, and stereotypes through a single or series of blanks that people then ‘fill in’ as per their thought processes. 

 

In 1991, a play featuring Sania Saeed, sponsored by John Hopkins University was aired on PTV which shifted mindsets and encouraged family planning in Pakistan. A survey found that 60% of the survey’s participants took under consideration family planning after watching Aahat.

To erase any doubts, lets rewind to Parwaaz Hai Junoon or more recently, Top Gun. While audiences rushed to theaters to watch Tom Cruise, did you leave the theater having a newfound appreciation and enthusiasm towards the military? Perhaps you even wanted to sign up to serve your country. Chances are you did. This romanticization is what is referred to as propaganda, and this is where we concur, cinema does hold power over societies. If a 2-hour movie can convince you to join the forces, chances are art has more influence over our lives than we’d like to admit. 

We consume knowledge and absorb information from our surroundings all day everyday. A lot of this information is absorbed and processed subconsciously which forms perception, memory, learning etc i.e. unconscious cognition. This means that information is processed even if we are not fully present or aware of it. Thereby, information is absorbed even if we have Netflix playing in the background while performing everyday tasks or simply scrolling on your phone. 

One reason as to why individuals may be easily affected by art forms is because it gives consumers an escape and creators an outlet. It is an individual perspective, something which is very raw and personal that is then shared with others. The escapism offers security as it allows one to create their own bubble and find comfort in it. 

If you are someone who is heavily influenced by cinema here’s what you can do about it: 

1. Recognise, acknowledge and sit with your emotions 

2. Reassure yourself that the feeling is temporary and allow it to pass through your body 

3. Find an outlet to express yourself. Write a letter to a character, or yourself exploring your emotions 

4. Regulate yourself with meditation 

5. Watch something lighthearted, a funny movie or some Kevin Hart

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