It’s Not “Just” a Movie

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the interviewIt’s not just movie. For that matter, it’s also not just a book, a picture, a play, a painting, a song, a television show, a satire… a blog, or any other artistic expression. No. It’s art.

In the wake of The Interview and all things Sony, followed up by Je Suis Charlie, I’m flabbergasted by how many people declared “It’s just…” A Seth Rogan comedy pointing a finger at a ruthless, murderous dictator; and a French, satirical cartoonist are both changing the world and standing up for free speech, and cultural freedoms.

I especially hate hearing the “It’s just…” comments coming from fellow artists, because they’re only doing a disservice to themselves by spreading that diatribe.

There is a reason story telling, in all its artistic forms, has been around since early humanoids could etch on cave walls and dance around camp fires: it’s vitally important. In many cases art has changed the world more so than governments. Art influences the minds, beliefs, and points of view of the people, and people change the governments.

Then there’s the inconsiderate argument that my above statements are true for SOME art, but not all. If you discredit Seth Rogan pointing the finger at North Korea, then you better discredit Chaplin for pointing at Hitler, the creative team behind M*A*S*H for pointing at Vietnam (through a Korean War filter), and Kubrick for pointing at the Cold War. I’ll go even further and say that some of the most important social commentators today are Seth MacFarlane, Matt Groening, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Not to mention how many times I’ve heard Jon Stewart referred to as “this generation’s Walter Cronkite.”

Fine. You don’t like certain kinds of art. Or maybe you think some art is not as worthy of respect. Well, to that I say, lots of people don’t get what’s so great about the Mona Lisa, and think Van Gogh “just” painted sun flowers. You’re free to your opinion, but that DOES NOT mean that art, in all its forms, all its genres, and in every class level is not important.

See my point, but still not on board? Still think some things are just entertainment? Well even if a movie (or any art) is “just” entertainment then that is still more worthy than a roll of the eyes to discredit its value. Entertainment keeps us sane. It’s an escape from our stressful lives. It opens our imaginations. Be more practical? Okay, it creates jobs and stimulates the economy.

What did Super Size Me do for conscious eating?

What did Philadelphia do for victims of the AIDS epidemic?

How much recognition did Brokeback Mountain bring to LGBTQ acceptance?

Did a big budget, popcorn selling movie like The Day After Tomorrow make anyone think about global warming?

What did Blazing Saddles do for race relations?

And here’s a list of movies from ‘Den of Geek’ that led to actual legislation.

Finally, I would make the argument that even more important that social or political change, art makes you feel. It makes you laugh, cry, forget, learn, broaden, explore, and look deep inside yourself for answers to the meaning of life. It breaks open our understanding of human emotion and the endless universe, and it’s something we all do together as one species, regardless of race, religion, culture, or class!

Art, movies and satire included, is not “just” anything. Art shapes the world in which we live.

Special guest writer and filmmaker Joe McClean can be found on

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