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Has Hollywood Become Our National Conscience?

Many 21st-century television shows and movies—both animated children's films and big production feature films—have tackled moral and cultural questions in ways that have shaped the public conversation. Is this good and helpful or dangerous? In what ways has Hollywood asked the right questions and shaped the discourse? Can the art of movie-making be an act of social justice?


Featured Panelists

A Cinema of Evil: Hollywood's Love Affair with Witchcraft and the Occult

A Cinema of Evil: Hollywood's Love Affair with Witchcraft and the Occult

Peg Aloi

Movies about witches create tricky situations for those whose spiritual leanings are confused with outmoded folklore or, worse, evil behavior.

Movies Get Preachy (But Should We Listen to the Sermon?)

Movies Get Preachy (But Should We Listen to the Sermon?)

Paul Asay

Immoral Hollywood? Hardly. But sometimes the entertainment industry's idea of morality is far different from our own.

Does the Arc in Hollywood Bend Toward Justice?

Does the Arc in Hollywood Bend Toward Justice?

Craig Detweiler

Movies have emerged as a civil way to discuss our sublimated national problems.

The Power of Cultivating a Hospitable Media Landscape

The Power of Cultivating a Hospitable Media Landscape

Abigail Disney

Once in a while a piece of media will emerge from the shouting that, either by accident or on purpose, has the effect of engaging the moral imagination of the public at large.

Affective Storytelling: Lectures Are Soon Forgotten

Affective Storytelling: Lectures Are Soon Forgotten

John Ehrett

A thin and often blurry line exists between incisive social critique and blatant moralizing. The best art, however, does not seek to be effective but rather affective.

Hollywood and the Stories That Desperately Need to Be Told

Hollywood and the Stories That Desperately Need to Be Told

Zaki Hasan

Despite its immense power to change the hearts and minds of huge swathes of its consumers, Hollywood is not the vague and monolithic notion that the name implies.

A Great Film Helps Us Live Better

A Great Film Helps Us Live Better

Gareth Higgins

Movies are among the most powerful story delivery mechanisms the world has ever seen, and with power comes not only the potential to heal, but the risk of danger.

The Power of Film and a Storytelling God

The Power of Film and a Storytelling God

Samuel James

Movies shape and form our consciences, not because that's what Hollywood studios or cultural elites want, but because film itself is a liturgical experience.

No, Hollywood Is Not Our National Conscience—It's Just the Opposite

No, Hollywood Is Not Our National Conscience—It's Just the Opposite

Kate O'Hare

There are moments when Hollywood acts from ideology, but its usual motivators are money and fear.

Hollywood Schizophrenia

Hollywood Schizophrenia

Ryan Parker

Hollywood's relationship to social justice says more about who we are as viewers than the industry of filmmaking.

Hollywood: Liberal, Except for Islam

Hollywood: Liberal, Except for Islam

Kamran Pasha

When Muslims become a normal and welcome part of American television and film, Hollywood will begin to get closer to its self-proclaimed ideal of being the conscience of the nation.

Bringing Light into the Abyss

Bringing Light into the Abyss

Elizabeth Quinlan

To make a good film, one must take great risks. Artists are called not just to love the unlovable, but to become them.

Movies Can Be the Intersection of Entertainment, Social Justice, and Faith

Movies Can Be the Intersection of Entertainment, Social Justice, and Faith

Tony Rossi

A well-told story can seamlessly integrate a message that draws viewers in, and leaves them thinking about real-life issues and actions.

Movies Generate Empathy and Broaden Our Circle of Concern

Movies Generate Empathy and Broaden Our Circle of Concern

Andrew Spitznas

Movies can nourish us with good art and strengthen us to do good and be good in our great world.

Christians and the Movies: What Are We Afraid Of?

Christians and the Movies: What Are We Afraid Of?

Chris Williams

We cannot let fear and laziness keep us from properly watching and engaging with cinema.

Commentary From Our Blogging Community

Making Meaning at the Movies

Making Meaning at the Movies

Yvonne Aburrow

Has Hollywood Become Our National Conscience? Many 21st-century movies—both animated children’s films and big production feature films—have tackled moral and cultural questions in ways that have shaped the public conversation. Is this good and helpful or dangerous? In what ways has Hollywood asked the right questions and shaped the discourse? Can the art of movie-making be an act of social justice?

A New Disney for a Renewed America

A New Disney for a Renewed America

Greg Forster

There’s a lot of talk these days about the fragmentation of American culture. While America has always had an important level of religious diversity, today we just don’t seem to have anything in common. We live in separate moral universes, and we seem to encounter each other only on the battlefield. Our imaginative worlds are [Read More...]

How are movies morally forming our children? We asked an actual 8-year-old

How are movies morally forming our children? We asked an actual 8-year-old

Edwin Woodruff Tait

What are the best five animated movies you’ve seen that were made in the last ten years? I’d say the three Miyazaki movies: Ponyo, Arietty, and Up on Poppy Hill, and also Frozen and Brave. What do you like so much about Ponyo? It’s kind of funny, and I like how Miyazaki likes to put [Read More...]

5 kids’ movies that teach us ALL things we really need to know

5 kids’ movies that teach us ALL things we really need to know

Guest Contributor

By Nathan Roberts 1. Toy Story III A spry student could probably write a whole thesis––or maybe even a dissertation, for all I know––about how the Toy Story films function as allegorical explorations of how we ought to live in a world governed by an unpredictable God. The toys are are our heroes, but the [Read More...]