Do films offer anything more than an escape from reality?

Yes: Films provide both audiences and the larger society valuable insights and material benefits that go far beyond mere escapism.

  1. The subject matter of films may contain critical commentary on social or political matters, encouraging audiences to reflect on them beyond the vicarious experience provided within the immediate and relatively short duration of the films themselves.
  2. The processes involved in film production may be technologically and artistically sophisticated, providing not just escapism but useful learning and discussion material for people in related fields.
  3. The cultural insights and practices embedded within films may encourage audiences to incorporate them into their own lives, ensuring that such influences persist beyond the mere entertainment offered by the films. Over time, these influences may spur the development of authentic sub-cultures, such as cosplay culture (inspired by Japanese anime films), with their own aesthetic values, stylistic interpretations and icons.

No: Films are generally produced to induce escapism and anything more they offer to audiences and societies is generally accidental rather than deliberate.

  1. Critical commentary on social or political matters may become subsumed or overshadowed by film producers’ needs to generate commercial success by appealing to mainstream demands for escapism. Films produced under such considerations will in most cases divert audiences’ attention from serious background matter towards the vicarious enjoyment and escapism found in disproportionate levels of violence, computer generated special effects and coarse language within the film.
  2. Audiences may be generic rather than specialized in their inclinations and thus fail to fully appreciate the technologically or artistically sophisticated processes involved in the production process. For them, films possessing such features will merely be appreciated at the sensory rather than intellectual stages, ensuring that the film remains a device for escapism rather than intellectual engagement.
  3. Cultural practices embedded within films may be deliberately scripted to present popular stereotypes, with the sole aim of generating predictable audience responses including laughter, shock or in some cases, animosity towards the represented culture. In such cases, films merely offer escapism in the form of a reduced or impoverished worldview to audiences rather than encouraging them to appreciate the represented culture in its authentic form.