Films or movies, we all have been watching them since the advent of cinema and television in our lives. Earlier there was just a national channel which would show movies on weekends saving you the effort of going to the hall. Then we had cable television, a whole lot of movies to watch – English, Hindi, Punjabi etc. The internet made the scope of watching films even more broad, download them and watch at your own convenience.
Films started becoming grander and technologically advanced. Careers in film industry were no longer a taboo and many relocated to greener pastures and movie industry revenue ensured its propagation. Today, United States, Nigeria, Hong Kong and India are the leaders in film making In Europe, France and United Kingdom are the countries that lead in movie production. India is the largest producer of films in the world. USA has a whole district - Hollywood in Los Angeles which caters exclusively to the movie industry. The actors, directors producers, singers are big names and bankable too. In this grandeur and showbiz, we didn’t actually pay much attention or didn’t bother to evaluate the effect of movies on youth and more importantly the impact of films on society. What is the role of movies in our lives, are movies harmful or beneficial or both? To evaluate the worth of films, we need to weigh the pros and cons of movies. We also need to come to an understanding; how much importance should we give or not give to films?
Benefits of Movies
Entertainment – Movies are a source of popular entertainment. From the moment we indulge in watching a movie, we are transformed into a new world where our mind is at ease, it forgets everything and is concentrated at watching. Everybody wants to relax and be amused. Every age of people, young and old, literate and illiterate want recreation. Recreation is an important part of life and movies provide that avenue. Watching a film on a theatre can be an exhilarating experience in itself. This is because a large number of people are doing the same thing. The audience laughs together, applauds and shares almost the same emotions. This collective effort experienced by the viewers makes the experience more entertaining and enjoyable.
Socialising Activators – Films are social activators, they allow even unknown people to mingle with each other. We all see movies and it is a common factor amongst us. This common factor can initiate and or sustain a conversation with a stranger. We have opinions about movies and these also help in socialisation through conversation and debate. When we go to a cinema or a theatre to watch a movie we socialise with our friends, relatives, peers etc. Movie is social art form which brings together all genres of people even if they have different views about the movie.
Lesson of Teamwork – A movie is a collaborative work; it requires actors, cinematographers, directors, make-up artists, writers, visual effects specialists, technicians and others. When this movie is applauded by all is shows the power of teamwork. It is also a lesson for all; that teamwork pays. Some films themselves are based on the theme of ‘teamwork’. This comes across strongly across the audience as they visually experience the lesson as compare to a bookish lesson.
Movies stir our Imagination – The weirdest, the most extreme, the most unbelievable things are shown in movies. Some films are based on comic book characters, adaptations of novel or drama. They bring to life the inanimate and it requires imagination. Today, we have so many techniques and instruments which show us the unseen and unimagined. Both the viewers and the movie directors conceive ideas towards their own personal objectives. The audience witness’s audio-video which enhances their imagination and their feedback inspires more varied imagination.
Showcase of World’s Art and Culture – Many of the customs and traditions of different parts of the world are shown in movies. While sitting at our homes we are able to travel virtually to places where we cannot imagine, to be. Most of the movies show customs and arts of foreign countries. They give us insights about human activities and a better understanding of people of the world. Without movies we wouldn’t come to know about ‘Muay Thai’ or ‘Ninjas’ or any of the things that we know today.
Films Educate us – Films are platter of various disciplines, they show us history, culture, science, technology, politics and lot more. These disciplines are not confined to one particular region; these educate us on varying geographical regions across various time lines. We come to know about the past, the present and the future. In fact visual medium is means of better education as we retain information for a long time when we visually see it. The uneducated also benefits from the content of the movies as he needs only eyes and not the skill to read or write to understand a literary classic or hi-fi flick. They haven’t said it just like that ‘A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words’.
Art Form – Films are a Universal Art Form, a platform where you can express and communicate your thoughts or emotions. Just like a painter paints his imagination on a canvas, movie makers express their emotions, views, angst, joy and so on. People have ideas and they use films to point out their opinions or viewpoints through cinemascope. Some want to recreate some historical event while some indulge in fantasies. In their objective, they create beautiful scenes, thrilling moments, happy environment etc. which become their own style and an art form. These inspire others to create their own unique art of presentation.
Movies are Mirrors to Society – Films are inspired from our daily lives whether partially or fully is another story. Most of the films have a certain portions where we really get to see what we know but don’t think deeply about it. Various films depict historical, mythological scientific and social themes. These are reflections of society, both present and past. Movies show the aftermath of a war, social evils, political strategies, human rights infringement and various other sensitive issues. A wide platform as films is most effective in presenting these issues and sensitising the public at large. They create awareness, build civic sense, ensure public morality and their propagation.
Films Inspire Us – Films inspire us in more than ways that we can imagine. Some profound inspirations are given to us by inspirational movies. The old age stories of the victory of the good over evil and the ‘never give up’ one’s are apt at towards their objective. Films inspire us to be brave, clever, insightful, experimental, loyal, determined and other virtues which make us positive minded. While not all movies are inspirational but you never know what may inspire whom and through which film? Apart from this we get inspired by the film industry itself. Most of the stars, directors etc. have a story of struggle, hard work and how they reached at the top? These examples themselves become source of inspiration, though in an indirect manner. Similarly, when movies win certain awards it arouses within us an urge to shine in our respective field of work.
Employment and Revenue – It is not a hidden fact that movies generate a lot of employment and revenue to the treasury, not only through the films but even through its peripheral forms like merchandising, tourism, film training etc. As per one study, in 2009, the global box office revenues were over US$30 billion. People go to movies, rent them, download them and they themselves publicise them through ‘Word of Mouth’. The film industry supports a vast array of professionals like - designers, dressmakers, photographers, storywriter, technicians and others. Poets and authors have also benefited from this medium as their works have been adapted to movies, fetching them royalty and other benefits.
Quick Fame – One movie can make you a star overnight and it happens with many of the actors and directors. It is a matter of luck that a certain newcomer or a struggling actor gets a movie which takes him to unscaled heights. Sometimes a small role in a movie makes you highly popular and you adorn the magazine covers, websites, television etc. You become a household name in an instant; you are worshipped, cheered and adored by the masses. There is a saying that – ‘There is no business like show business’ and all the stars that you see will totally agree with the adage.
Disadvantages of Films
Movies profess Violence – There is no denying that movies today are more violent than ever before. And it is very clear with the shootings at schools by kid and teenagers that they are being heavily influenced by violence shown is movies. To shock, the audience’s film makers choose this theme. Surprisingly, these become cult movies with a fan following of their own. Movies like these show new ways of torture and physical abuse which inspires the young mind to indulge in these acts. Movies like hostel, saw, friday the 13th and their kin are nothing but violent movies with unnecessary blood and gore. As per reports from http://www.cybercollege.com/violence.htm, ‘Researchers followed 329 subjects over 15 years. They found that those who as children were exposed to violent TV shows were much more likely to later be convicted of crime. Researchers said that, "Media violence can affect any child from any family," regardless of social class or parenting. Girls who watched more than an average amount of violence tended to throw things at their husbands. Boys who grew up watching violent TV shows were more likely to be violent with their wives. Researchers concluded in Developmental Psychology that, "Every violent TV show increases a little-bit the likelihood of a child growing up to behave more aggressively." By the time the average U.S. child starts elementary school he or she will have seen 8,000 murders and 100,00 acts of violence on TV.” - New Scientist, 2007.
Movies are made for Profit – Ever heard of a movie made for charity, hard to say? In this cash striven lives who cares for a charity?, perhaps none. The entertainment industry is even more selfish than any industry can be. Consider, people dropping their clothes for money just for a movie. Then we can consider the underlying motive that ‘Movies are solely made for Profit’. This profit influences the movie makers to showcase nudity and explicit sexual acts; there is a popular sub-industry of the latter one as well. The film industry people are no more worried about public morality; they will show what appears instantly to the senses. Even good film makers like Mahesh Bhatt, Ekta Kapoor resort to ‘Jism 2’ and ‘Dirty Picture’ which appeal to our lower instincts. By making such movies they bend our mentality to accept them, knowingly or unknowingly. Young people don’t have the maturity to understand these motives, they find these appealing and there becomes an audience to which aforesaid cater to. Stars and makers of such lewd movies inspire the upcoming and the about to come and the chain goes on and on.
Establish False Notions – Some movies portray certain subjects or themes in a way which is far from real. Such portrayals establish false notions amongst the people. Many of the Sikhs are joked upon because of their turban and jolly nature. Their turban makes them Taliban and their jolly nature conjures mockery. Similarly, masala dosa becomes the identity of south Indian people and most black people are shown as gangsters. Every community has its individuality, tastes and flaws but that alone is not their true identity. Fools, ugly people are distributed across the communities. Establishing an opinion based on certain aspects of a community encourages racism and other anti social sentiments which hinder the peace and prosperity of the world.
Wastage of Money and Time – Majority of the movies are not really worth watching but still we watch them. This happens because we are enticed by appealing posters, teasing trailers, publicity and other marketing strategies. This is done to ensure that the movie earns at least more than the cost involved. Take a look at the movies today, they are sequels, there are aliens, vampires, werewolves and if not anything there are special effects of all sorts. We have seen so much that there is very little left to amuse us. The actual movie may not be that good but it is the package which lures us. We don’t realise that we are wasting our money, our precious time, eyes and efforts on something undeserving.
Art Form of Personal Opinion – It has been truly said that ‘Movie is an Art Form’ but the art form is many times biased on one’s personal imagination. This imagination is at times contradictory to the truth. For a filmmaker, it is his personal take on a theme, which may not be in tandem with the truth, maybe false, disturbing or distorted. An art form to become meaningful should be honest and true towards its representation. Certain modifications are acceptable but modifications need to be monitored closely as to where they are being implemented. Giving biased opinions and delving on half baked truths leads to controversy and conflict. One’s personal opinion may hurt sentiments of certain community, individual and or the society. Such a biased art form only contradicts itself.
Adultery and Premature Sex – Majority of the Hollywood movies have nudity and sex scenes. And majority of the times, there is no actual need to include such. It appears that it has become a norm to have such scenes either as an attraction point or selling point. Teenage movies are the ones that often show things like virginity, sexual escapades, fantasies etc. But pornographic movies come straight to the point. Such images and audio as found in these movies corrupt the senses, even of the adults. While younger generation becomes prematurely sex conscious and imitates the scenes of films in their real life, the adult generation is guided towards adultery. A population of such people implies a diseased society both mentally and physically.
Meagre or No Respect for Law and Order – Heroes shooting at cops, assassinators killing presidents and villains raping women all have one thing in common, lawlessness. Movies proliferate the idea that it is cool to break law or that it is not a big deal to break law. This attitude is picked up very easily and quickly by the young of mind. Bullying, stealing, shoplifting, threatening, gang making, verbal abuse, touting weapons etc. are the most common effects of movies which show lawlessness. Criminal tendencies are aggregated by movies which show violent acts against the law upholders or even a common citizen. Movie based games do the same, thereby initiating a negative mindset.
Larger than Life Characters – One again it is the young mind which is unable to distinguish reality form fiction. Powerful human beings, superheroes, skilled fighters, stunts and acrobatics are surreal but not to your 4-5 year old kid. For him, these larger than life characters are real than anything else. Though aping your idols is a common thing but when it becomes an innate part of a kid, he/she will harm others and the own self. A startling example is that of ‘Ninja Turtles’; around the time when it became a hit, certain kids actually started living in drains. Movies show that everything is possible but not everything, becoming spiderman through a spider bite, many of us have actually been bitten by spiders and have often imagined of becoming a spiderman, but we haven’t.
Means to Propaganda – In a move to earn popularity and money, some filmmakers take on controversial topics. It is an old formula but an existent, tried and tested one. Often such movies become a national agenda out of nowhere. It is the acts of politicians and pressure groups who need mileage or want to distract the public attention from a certain issue. History can be searched when movies have become scapegoat of uproar, agitations and protests thereby making a mountain out of ant hill. Taking care of such situations requires capital and man force which unnecessarily puts burden on the national expenditure.
Quick Downfall – Movies without movie stars is unacceptable. While stars are born overnight, so is their downfall. The fate of an actor rests on a hit movie. It can make or break a person. Many ambitious people have strived for this fame but have tasted the dust. Some become desperate and will do anything. For others it is a matter of death and honour for others its is life of nightmare. There are more failures than stars but those that are stars shine like anything. The pursue for this elusive sheen is sometimes compromising on your character. Casting couches are true; though very few will come forward, it is also a downfall of the character of a person.
Popularity of Unideal Role Models – Films are remembered for their story, direction etc. but mostly they are remembered for the actors. They become are role models, we want to become like them. They are more popular than real life heroes and get more recognition than anyone else. Let’s not forget that the heroes we applaud have become heroes at our own expense and because of the marketing strategy. If real life heroes were also marketed the same but then real life heroes aren’t glamorous or perform stunts. We know more entertainment celebrities than those who really make a difference in the world. How many of us know about an ordinary man who did extraordinary to save others? The world is full of brave, strong, handsome, innovative, intelligent, life saving people who carry on with their lives without expecting any applaud. But their achievements are dwarfed by giant poster of movies with their glamorous star cast publicised throughout the whole world.
Addiction to Movies – Addictions come in many forms and one of them is that of movies. Many amongst us suffer from complexities of life and instead of finding a real life solution we end up finding a solution which is harmful for us, health wise or otherwise. The addiction to movies can be expensive if we go to malls or theatres. The addiction to movies can affect our mental and physical health if we watch them at home. We start paying more attention to movies than any other thing. We neglect exercise and become couch potatoes. Our main concern becomes the release dates, the booking, the downloading, the exchanging, the trailers, wallpapers and so on. It become a futile pursuit but we keep indulging in it as it is convenient, just turn on the TV and start watching or search the internet for it. When we have seen the best ones, what’s left? The ordinary or useless ones amuse us because of their stupidity or nonsensical approach. Even when we may have a sense that this film is not worth watching we watch it because others are watching it and watching in a group is more exciting. Sometime we forget that we have seen a certain film, we have a hazy rememberance of it, we watch it to actually prove ourselves wrong or right about the movie In this effort we don’t realise that we are getting addicted to movie watching.
Conflicting Personalities – If actors are unideal heroes they also happen to have an unideal personas, i.e. that what they portray on cinema, they aren’t the same in real life. Sometimes even adults have to come to terms with this reality. As humans we are judgemental, we make opinions about someone even when we don’t know them fully. The actors are seen as role models and they have a certain responsibility towards society. But more often than not, we witness that our favourite hero, heroine, director etc. aren’t the same as they appeared on-screen. Some of them are drug addicts, some indulge in adultery, some are chain smokers, some are cowards; mostly opposite of what they have been portrayed. For them, it may not matter but for the ardent fans it is a great setback. They saw an amazing physique, a beautiful face and a strong character. But it turned out that it is all fake. Their assets are fake, they are surgically or chemically enhanced and or improved. It is a shock for them to know that the one they vouched for, is fake, it is emotionally disturbing and creates conflict in mind. It becomes puzzling as to what is real and what is not? It throws them off-balance of their and the views of the world. Even adults are shocked when they come to know of a certain negative aspect of an actor. Though, they are humans but not ordinary ones, at least for the fans.
Conclusion: There are always and there always be ‘Two Sides of a Coin’, similarly there are merits and demerits of films. Many of you may not find advantages and disadvantages suiting to your personal opinion but that doesn’t lessen their gravity. As pointed out in the above paragraphs, the scale tips in the favour of disadvantages of movies. Films do more harm than good and the good here, cannot negate the bad, unlike in the movies. It may sound strange and weird but it is true. And it doesn’t even mean that one should stop watching movies. Watch only few and forget the rest, there are much better things to do in life than spending time in overhyped and low quality movies. Some of the pros and cons of Films are evident; we can see them all around us. But the negative points are not easily perceived, remain unpublicised and are therefore lesser known. The positive points of movies shine in front of us, they are easily perceived, can be seen everywhere and the film industry itself publicises it. The underlining point is that watch only quality movies, your decision in abstaining from cheap movies will have a positive effect on film makers. Porn and violent films are popular because there is a demand, if the demand ceases so will the supply. Government also needs to take steps to discourage and eventually stop the production of movies which tend to corrupt. More importantly, a compulsory short feature should be shown to educate the people of all ages about the truth and reality shown in the movies.