Understanding the reasons why liberal ideologies are a more prominent part of new age cinema and pop
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Siddhi 1: The movie industry has always had major impacts in our lives and it is clear that the industry is a vital part of society and influences our population. However, in recent times the focus of the industry has seemed to take a turn, which has resulted in a completely different set of implications. After movies like ‘Barbie’, ‘Rocky aur Rani ki Prem Kahaani’ and ‘Oh my God 2’, a very common theme to be noticed is the integration of liberal ideologies on political and social themes such as ‘Toxic Masculinity’, ‘Toxic Femininity’, and ‘Lack of Sex education’.
Akanksha 1: In fact, an article by The Indian Express stated that ‘Rocky aur Rani ki Prem Kahaani’ might just be Karan Johar’s most political film. The integration of such themes come as a culture shock ranging from the goosebumps we all had while Ranveer Singh completely blew our minds with his moves in ‘Rocky aur Rani’ or the awkwardness when the doctor from ‘Oh My God 2’ said masturbation as we uncomfortably watched next to our parents.
Siddhi 2: Popular culture is nothing but a reflection of society, so what has led to this sudden inclusion of liberal ideologies in the media? And what could be some potential implications of the same?
Akanksha 2: How does the integration of popular ideologies affect people who hold less popular stances? And who decides which ideology is fit to be promoted throughout mainstream media? Is this a form of modern day social propaganda?
Siddhi 3: Welcome back to the Fight4Rights podcast, we are your hosts Siddhi Jairath
Akanksha 3: and Akanksha Kapoor. Today our topic of discussion is; ‘The integration of liberal ideologies on socio political themes in media’.
Siddhi 4: With the widespread use of technology, we now see an increase in teenagers and young people with opinions on social and political issues. The Harvard Gazette believes this sudden interest is stimulated from the political trauma faced by this generation; articles also state that Gen Z is one of the most progressive and liberal generations.
Akanksha 4: Considering the fact that some of our earliest memories in school are the ones preparing for the case of a school shooter and the very fact that we grew up amongst absolute political chaos flashing throughout the news blaring on all screens around us, it’s no surprise that we’ve taken it upon ourselves to lead social movements and bring about change. Also taking into account the widespread usage of technology, children and young people have more active political views.
Siddhi 5: The inclusion of such socio-political themes is a method of media keeping up with what's “in trend” and connecting with the younger audience. So with more of the upcoming generation interested in politics and social change, more widespread media focuses on these similar themes to attract their attention.
Akanksha 5: Another study takeaway was that the largest audience for conservative media sources were people over the age of 65 while the largest audience for liberal media sources was people aged between 18-29. This shows that younger people tend to sway more towards liberal ideologies.
Siddhi 6: From this, we can conclude that more young people hold liberal ideologies while conservatives which are majorly older in age. This shows that with widespread media focusing on producing content with liberal ideologies, they are pertaining to younger audiences.
Akanksha 6: Now the implications of the media enforcing a certain ideology or perspective are countless. The media holds tremendous power, by enforcing a specific type of ideology it has the power and tendency to sway the perception of the audience.
Siddhi 7: This means, with a larger liberal perspective amongst the younger generation, forms of media focus more on liberal ideologies which results in swaying the perception of people who don’t already have a decided perspective of socio-political themes. Simultaneously, it results in the misrepresentation or underrepresentation of people with opposing perceptions which eventually leads to the criticism of movies by these same audiences.
Akanksha 7: Yet, this does not phase the industry because negative views are still views, targeting political standpoints and perceptions are simply a mechanism of attracting more attention from the audience. Negative attention is still attention and sometimes, especially when it comes to politics, negative attention makes much more money.
Siddhi 8: After the release of Barbie, several viewers with conservative perceptions were angry at the liberal ideologies promoted throughout the course of the movie. In fact, Ben Shapiro, a popular conservative political commentator, posted a 45 minute long video raging about how “woke” the film was, he even burnt barbie dolls during the video to show his outrage. Yet, this video went viral and actually contributed to the audience attraction gained by the movie.
Akanksha 8: As well as this, the integration of such liberal ideologies in our Indian society has implications of itself. Considering the diverse cultures in India, religion is considered to be a vital part of life. This importance given to religion eventually results in the people believing in taboos to preserve cultural or traditional values. A very popular taboo being Sex. Even though throughout Hindu culture, scriptures and manuscripts such as the Kamasutra have depicted the importance of sex and reproduction, the Indian society today still seems to be closed off when it comes to this topic. This is due to colonization and the enforcement of British ideologies, which believed that sex is a taboo topic and should not be discussed. This repercussion exists to this day, with several people still unwilling to talk about it.
Siddhi 9: This is why, when movies such as Oh My God 2 are released which integrate both religion and the importance of sexual education, controversy sparks. Yet this controversy is simply just a sign that slowly the topic of sexual education is being normalized.
Akanksha 9: Another implication of the integration of politics in mainstream media is the furthering of political divide. Media brings people together, it may be just for two hours or so, but it gives people something to agree on. Yet, with the integration of politics in mainstream media, it projects these differences amongst people and begins to simultaneously spark controversy and disrupt a previously politically peaceful place.
Siddhi 10: Over the years, political polarization has increased immensely. Several studies show that this change in political patterns are simply a result of the increase in the usage of social media. Politics has grown to be a more and more vital part of the lives of people, which means when mainstream media speaks on politically controversial topics, it contributes to the already pre existing political polarization.
Akanksha 10: Media is powerful. It can be utilized as a form of new-age propaganda to sway the political perspective of the audience, it can be used as a form to educate the public and normalize topics that would otherwise remain taboo yet, the integration of politics in mainstream media can also result in the widening of the political divide amongst people and can simultaneously contribute to political chaos amongst the public.
Siddhi 11: Nevertheless, the integration of such socio-political themes such as ‘Toxic Femininity’, ‘Toxic Masculinity’ and ‘Lack of Sex Education’ are important themes that must be spoken about in order to create a more diverse and accepting community. Diversity is a vital part for a more successful and stronger society, so for a newer, more powerful India, this integration of socio-political themes in mainstream media is vital.
Akanksha 11: Thank you so much for listening to this podcast.
Siddhi 12: Please do check out our Instagram page @fight4rights_official. We’ll see you in the next one!