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Understanding Films with Ideological Messages and What they Mean

The term ideological refers to a set of beliefs or opinions that are representative of a group or a particular individual. Thus when a film refers to a specific set of beliefs such as political beliefs or potentially to religious beliefs it might be said to have an ideological message. Many films can actually identify as films with ideological messages. But what exactly does this mean for the audiences that intend to watch the films?

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What are Ideological Messages in Films?

The idea of an ideological message references a set of opinions or set beliefs of a group or individual. Generally, ideological messages are in references to things like political beliefs.

Such as those that can be elsewise characterized as Capitalism, communism, or Socialism. But ideological messages may also refer to things like religious beliefs such as Christianity, or Satanism. 

When films with ideological messages are discussed, the representation is that the film is delivering a particular message to the audience. That is in connection with political messages, religious messages, or other ideological beliefs of a particular group or individual. 

Such ideological messages in films are not always so radical or particularly profound and flamboyant. But those that stand out most tend to have extreme roots.

Types of Ideological Messages in Film

When it comes to films with ideological messages, the two most common types of ideological messages relate to religion and politics. However, there are many ways that a film could touch on an ideological message.

For example, you might recall the following ideological messages in film which were equally profound and particularly controversial.

When each film came out:

  • McDonald’s Diet in the film Super Size Me.
  • Egregiousness of Fox Television in the film Outfoxed.
  • Illegal retention of immigrants in the film Persons of Interest.
  • Malfeasance of the corporate world in The Corporation.


Studio Reluctance

Studios frequently pass up films with ideological messages. Because they fear the backlash that can come from such a targeted audience or, in their case, such a mistargeting of their audience.

However, in most cases, films with ideological messages are equally as standoffish as they are discerning. Racking up a mix of followers and intense patterns of dislike all the same. But why?

What is Ideology?

Ideology in film is a complex matter. In which particularly difficult implications of real world life bring forth for discovery in context for the world to see.

Technically, the term ideological evokes a sense of rigidness, a strong belief system, and an underlying image considerably under judgement by society. According to scholars, ideology is the study of a system of meaning within society in which concepts.

Such as worldview, belief system, and values are questioned and in much broader terms depictions of the world and how people think about certain cultural or social issues are brought up.

Modern Applications

The term ideology frequently applies to the criticism and analysis of film. Thus, when we say something about films with ideological messages.

We are actually communicating the underlying social, cultural, political, and historical nature of a film. And the connections made between what takes place within the film and the actual events of society. 

What are Dominant Ideological Messages in Film?

When we watch any film, there is bound to be a dominant ideological message that takes shape. Some films have a stronger ideological message than others. In fact, many mainstream movies and short films would ultimately conclude one of the following dominant ideologies.

Which references the fundamental morals of everyday life in society:

  • Dehumanization of characters.
  • American Hero
  • Christianity
  • Individualism and freedom
  • Democracy
  • Capitalism
  • Globalization
  • Conservatism
  • Patriarchy

Why are Films with Ideological Messages so Common?

You might be wondering what it is that makes the instance of films with ideological messages so incredibly common in the industry. It’s not so much that the idea of an ideological message is planned for the film.

But more so that these underlying messages have been found to “work” in the industry and many stories are based on an “if it works, don’t fix it” attitude.

It is actually quite common for Hollywood to rinse and repeat many of the same underlying messages into the stories and scripts that get production approval on an annual basis.

Societal Impact

Films with ideological messages frequently deliver an opposite effect of what the filmmaker originally intended, though. In fact, where a filmmaker may have originally intended a film to not have any societal impact at all.

The underlying ideological message could be so profound and pronounced that society and the media just can’t get enough of it. In these films, the audience is hailed as the most important to confirming the reality and true underlying existence of the film. 

Thus, you can find films with ideological messages in a wide variety of instances. Everything from the news channels that we catch at night to the cartoon adventures of Madagascar that DreamWorks productions crafts.

These have been found to include ideological elements and an underlying message for the audience. The films we watch showcase ideological messages in many different ways.

In Summary

Take Madagascar for instance. The film represents an ideological message that basically states that it’s boring for animals if they live in the wild and are better off as part of the circus.

Certainly this message is controversial but the 3D movie incorporates a variety of views that certainly would lead one to question the belief that animals are not meant for the circus that’s for sure.

This is just one of the many ways that ideological messages in films reveal societal views and the many ways that different groups in society have different ideas of what is “right” and “wrong.”