Within an increasingly polarized political atmosphere, entertainment is often regarded as a middle ground between beliefs. Everyone can enjoy the latest Marvel movie or binge the newest season of Stranger Things without needing to dwell on irritating messaging or ideation, right?
In the modern entertainment landscape, this predisposition towards unbiased and apolitical entertainment has dominated the conversation around countless movies, television shows, books, and other entertainment mediums. Actors, studios, and productions have all received criticism for overt political messaging or the ‘censorship’ of certain ideas or concepts. These comments range from denouncing general political interference to starting separate studios with the intention of producing contrary content, with the ultimate conclusion that politics degrades the enjoyment of entertainment.
This recent outcry against social relevance in entertainment contradicts decades of successful, important, and critically successful stories and tales from the past. Perhaps the most notable politically charged film of recent decades, a small indie film: Star Wars.
This fantastical epic in a galaxy far away seems detached from reality, but this bright, action-packed sci-fi film from 1977 actually weaved in complex references and parallels to the recent Vietnam War and criticized the imperialistic tendencies of the United States. Not only did this small scale production profit millions at the box office, but it brought a nuanced yet accessible approach to a critical world problem to nearly every person in the world.
Many modern critics propose that entertainment should exist without the intrusion of personal and biased ideation. Not only do truly resonant stories rely on a connection and analysis of the world around us, but the very action of creating art is a pure free expression that should not be hindered to protect ignorant enjoyment.