Can movies influence elections?

17Dec08

Who knows what, if any, effect W had on the U.S. election when it was released last October. Although there was some buzz, I think most people would tend to agree that the outgoing president’s life as presented by Oliver Stone probably didn’t give Barack Obama a boost or hurt John McCain.

But another movie that was released a few weeks following the election might have had an enormous amount of influence on a certain constituency in California.

Milk is the story of the ascent of the first openly gay politician elected to major office in the United States. I won’t ruin very much of the plot Milk’s life, but you can read about him and the movie at the usual go-to places on the Internet (watch for spoilers all over the place, if you don’t know the story and want to watch the movie with a blank slate).

When you read Milk’s story, you’ll understand why I — and I’m sure many others — think that an October release could have had a significant impact on Californians as they voted for or against Proposition 8. It passed by several hundred thousand votes, but who knows?

Then again, had the movie been released conservatives might have suggested that it unfairly influenced the outcome, or something like that. So there might have been another battle on the horizon.

Perhaps I’m rambling. The take-home from all of this: Milk is a very compelling film.

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