Film studies has significance outside of academic realm
Film is not simply a superficial form
of entertainment, it is a way to draw
attention to important issues that
people aren’t necessarily thinking
about and discussing.
I am one of the few students fortunate enough to have experienced Laurier’s film program.
While it is a small faculty under the English department banner, it was exactly what I had imagined my university experience to be: it is full of eager students and professors and has contributed vastly to my knowledge base and how I perceive the world.
Unfortunately, I’m now left in a difficult position. The business world does not seem to value a film education – unless of course you are rating movies for a newspaper.
This is unfortunate because film has a significant impact in today’s society.
People come in contact with it on a daily basis.
In 2008, the Canadian Radio and Television Commission reported that Canadians spend about 14 hours a week watching television, including films.
The sheer time dedicated to film and television has become part of the reality of contemporary society, and its influence has to be acknowledged.
When one analyzes the messages film tries to communicate to the viewer, one is quickly made aware of how much knowledge and information is gained, often unconsciously.
Film is not simply a superficial form of entertainment, it is a way to draw attention to important issues that people aren’t necessarily thinking about and discussing.
For example, while environmentalism is an issue that has garnered support in the past, documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth (2006) brought the issue to the forefront of popular culture. Aside from winning two Academy Awards for the picture, Al Gore received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to environmentalism, and his film was cited as a contributing factor to his influence on the issue.
Film elevated the issue of climate change to a level where people came into contact with the environmentalist ideology in a place that they would not expect to find it.
Another movement that has been elevated to the forefront of social and political debate by film is the gay rights movement. Films such as Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Milk (2008) gained considerable attention by popular media outlets, both of which also grabbed Oscar nominations for their ability to shed light on a subject that has often been ignored within the mainstream media. These films were able to provide a frame of reference that the general public could identify with.
Film studies is important because it helps people understand the world in an easily accessible medium that has a widespread influence on society.
When I tell people I am a film student, most are intrigued, a little skeptical (hey, I watch movies all day) and they inevitably ask, “So what are you going to do with that?”
While many overlook the significance of film because it is so ubiquitous, its role in society is critical.
Next time you sit down to watch a movie and engage in a discussion about it, think about its prevalence in society; soon you may understand why my film degree should have more value.
Brokeback Mountain Trailer