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The Godfather, by Mario Puzo, was the best-selling book when it was first published and the film adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola is rightly considered a masterpiece. The drama of The Godfather is an epic; it is an epic because it deals with the quintessential themes that all epics deal with: family, love, and time. It is a drama that wrestles…

In 2006, the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum conducted a survey to measure Americans’ knowledge of their First Amendment constitutional freedoms (the freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition), comparing it to Americans’ knowledge of popular culture, particularly their knowledge of the well-known television series, The Simpsons, shortly before the release of The Simpsons Movie. The results, perhaps unsurprisingly, revealed…

The United States Constitution in Film: Part of Our National Culture. Eric T. Kasper and Quentin D. Vieregge. Lanham, MD. Lexington Books, 2018.
 
In his opinion in the case of United States v. Syufy Enterprises, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Kozinski worked into his text some 200 movie references.  Yet it would be hard to say all that movie…

The Politics of Depoliticization
Motion pictures do more than just reflect our political life. If we take seri­ously the cultural construction of human identity—how social life forges the performative features of gender and sex, race and ethnicity—then American movies of the twentieth century were more than a mirror onto a culture. They were dreams that made that culture. They were mass-produced…

As a popular genre, the western makes myths for politics in America and beyond. These symbolic stories of characters and communities help shape and explain our government, our society, and ourselves. They tell who and where we are, as individuals and as peoples. They also show what time it is for responding to our situations, and why. Thus western icons…

Cowboy Politics: Myths and Discourses in Popular Westerns form The Virginian to Unforgiven and Deadwood. John S. Nelson.  Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2018.
 
What do Westerns - books, films, serial television – teach us about the emerging political order in America? What can political theory add to more popular critical encounters with this material, and what can the material illuminate about…

Why and How Political Films Matter[1]
Do films serve purposes besides entertainment?  Stephenson and Debrix point out that “Film brings us face to face with reality, or with something that looks like reality” (1973).  Jumping off from that thought, Walter Lipman famously said that “the job of the journalist is to portray a picture of reality on which the citizen can…

Politics, Hollywood Style: American Politics in Film from Mr. Smith to Selma. John Heyrman. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2017.
 
John Heyrman’s Politics, Hollywood Style: American Politics in Film from Mr. Smith to Selma is a brilliant review of films dealing with American politics since the Great Depression.  Since one can argue that almost every film ever made includes elements of power…

The Intersection of Film and Government
It is hard to know why a particular film and its initial viewing makes such an impression on us and it is unlikely that any of us start watching a movie because we think it is likely to have a tremendous effect on us, but it happens.  Think for a moment about a film that…

Understanding Political Films
In choosing movies to include in this book, we had to start by asking what makes a film political. This seemingly simple question has caused considerable debate among those who have tried to answer it. One school of thought opts for a very narrow definition. Harry Keyishian's textbook includes films "about politicians and the political process in America"…