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Birth of a Nation

In: Film and Music

Submitted By iaddington
Words 531
Pages 3
Ian Addington

How is the movie most useful - as a film about Reconstruction or as film about how people in the early twentieth century understood Reconstruction?

Birth of a Nation was one of the world’s first films on reconstruction. It was the time after the Civil War where the south and the north came together. They sacrificed their beliefs and settled for a government they could agree on. Reconstruction ended around 1875 and “Birth of a Nation” was made in 1915. The timing of the film was great in this aspect. That many are still upset about the outcome of the Civil War and it brought a big outrage. It is also one of the first films to be in theater so the people flocked to come see it. When this was made, the Black community was just starting to form their place in the government and this movie upset things. It brought about a new beginning for the Ku Klux Klan, outraged many people in both communities, and caused a stir in the film industry.

Scholars have argued that the movie helped increase racial tension and stereotyping in the early 1900s. Do you think that movies (or television shows) have the power to shape attitudes?

Movies indeed have a lot of power and influence over the community. This movie is just one of many examples. Not only do movies influence social behavior, it also influences what we say (catch phrases, movie quotes, jokes, etc…), how we dress, and to determine the social norm. Movies can spark an uproar depending on the content (examples: Birth of a Nation, Django Unchained, and Citizen Kane). This movie is a perfect example of the power of film and how it influences the social attitude of its viewers. It took a situation that we beginning to calm down and become the norm, to being viewed differently and sparking another debacle in northern and southern states.

How do films and television today and influence social attitudes?

As previously stated, films can influence the social norms of people. This is especially relevant in teenagers. They act upon what they see and hear and mimic the attitudes of those they find in power. With all these comic movies coming out, a lot more people are reading and buying comic books. Same goes for other movies with its influence on attire and word play. Movies like “Clueless” supplied the teens of that era with catch phrases and new outfits for clothes. It sets the bar for what is popular or not. Television has now become the big picture and more over, the internet. Things like Netflix and Hulu have people watching shows and changing or amplifying their interest in things. Through that, their behavior becomes more and more influenced by the characters and situations in the show. It also works visa versa on film. Some films become popular or made due to the social attitude toward a situation. Documentaries like “Super Size Me” and “Fahrenheit 911”, were made from social ideas or situations that happened. Films will continue to alter or even be based on social attitudes toward a situation because that’s what makes them popular and spread.

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