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Contemporary American Cinema: Dominant Theme and Philosophy Essay

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Updated: May 29th, 2021

2018 has delivered several surprises as far as American movies are concerned. With numerous companies being focused on the promotion of the theme of communication, reconciliation, unity, and equality. However, the specified phenomenon can hardly be surprising. Since the audience has grown out of most traditional myths, a new interpretation thereof with new heroes and adventures was required. Superhero movies and the overall theme of good versus evil fit the specified target completely, thus representing an old theme with a new outlook on it. While the premise remains the same, i.e., heroes venture on a journey to experience personal growth while performing a noble mission, the overall environment and the leading characters have undergone a significant redress.

Similarly, the presence of R-rated movies in the recent list of Hollywood awards, such as “Deadpool” and, more recently, “The Shape of Water,” indicates that the same stories of heroes redeemed and people finding humanity in what might seem as a monstrosity at first, remain primary themes in the Hollywood movies. On the one hand, it would be comparatively easy to scorn the Hollywood cinema for recycling the same themes until they wear out their significance entirely. Indeed, as stressed above, the range of ideas used by Hollywood writers when creating a scenario for a movie has not been expanded significantly in the 2010s. Nonetheless, even with the approach that some audiences may deem primitive, the American movies not only remain popular but also manage to appeal to both the American demographic and the representatives of other states and cultures (Yakaboski & Donahoo, 2017). Therefore, the popularity of American cinema and, particularly, the Hollywood cinema, may be defined by the general appeal of the broad themes that they choose for their movies.

“The Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2″ is one of the most graphic examples of the specified phenomenon. What might seem like a relatively simplistic premise was turned into a movie that rendered the heartstrings of millions of people both in and outside the United States. The identified course of events can be explained by the fact that the movie addressed one of the global themes that can be found in any culture, i.e., the theme of family, relationships within it, and the importance of finding balance in managing family interactions (Carrier, 2015). Indeed, a closer look at the movie will reveal that what was concealed under the guise of a space saga was, in fact, an in-depth analysis of abusive family relationships, the coping mechanisms that people develop in the said environment, and how they reconcile with their bitterness and negative emotions.

Therefore, the themes of family and individuality conflate in modern American cinema, thus leading to the birth of an entirely new concept. The idea of promoting personal growth through the improvement of relationships with others drives modern Hollywood movies, defining their plot and allowing for well-developed, fleshed-out characters. The identified theme is parallel to the concept of ostracism that can be witnessed in contemporary society. Particularly, the issue of prejudice against the ideas of more open-minded people that are willing to accept the humanity of those that the society regards as monsters also serve as the bulk of a range of modern American films. One might argue that the identified theme also does not add anything new to the vast range of themes that have been explored in movies over the years. While the specified claim is partially true, it will be necessary to point out that the movies released by Hollywood recently provide a new viewpoint on the specified themes and ideas. For instance, taking the old theme of an individual versus the society and incorporating the ideas associated with family values, thus compelling the protagonist to arrange their priorities and at the same time retain the ability to grow and develop is an innovative decision. Similarly, exploring old themes through a new lens, such as studying grim and dark reality from the perspective of optimism and comedy helps further the stories of superheroes, which have become modern myths, and add more dimensions to their characters.

Therefore, the themes explored by Hollywood moviemakers remain the same, yet they are studied more profoundly and provide an opportunity or an in-depth insight into human nature, the interactions between an individual and the society, the significance of upholding family values high, etc. As a result, the viewer takes the journey with the lead character and experiences the same challenges, developing the ability to grow personally, morally, and spiritually (Tziamtzi, Kyridis, Vamvakidou, & Christodoulou, 2015). Consequently, it will be safe to assume that the concept of personal development is the primary theme behind most Hollywood movies nowadays.

The American cinema encourages the focus on the issues that allow an individual to reinforce the communication with their family and the society, yet it also educates its target demographic about the significance of human decency and the necessity to accept and celebrate differences rather than ostracize those that are alien to the rest of the community. The specified direction does not seem to have come out of anywhere given the recent political and cross-cultural conflicts that can be observed not only in the context of the American environment but also all over the world. The lack of tolerance and the unwillingness to establish a multicultural dialogue, as well as the refusal to learn more about other cultures, thus developing a better understanding thereof is a troubling trend in the modern political and cultural environment.

Consequently, cinema reflects the specified moods and provides a peaceful solution to most of these confrontations. Similarly, since the identified conflicts seem to be tearing the community asunder the concept of fear is studied deeply as one of the recurrent themes in modern cinema. Specifically, the fear of the unknown is handled rather successfully by modern Hollywood directors, seeing how a range of movies are aimed at showing the antagonist in a rather sympathetic light and therefore pointing to the humanity of the perceived villain. The multiple dimensions that modern American movies give each of the characters encourage a multicultural dialogue, which is bound to have a profound impact on societal problems. Indeed, since a vast number of people see movies as a reflection of real-life conflicts and imagining themselves in the place of lead characters, discussing societal conflicts in movies serves as a means of encouraging change.

When analyzing modern American cinema, one must keep in mind that it is a product of the contemporary relationships within the society. Therefore the themes that emerge in it are defined by the necessity to advance the idea of cross-cultural communication and address the agenda of intolerance in the modern social environment. As a result, the foundation for encouraging peace and promoting equality is created.


Carrier, M. B. (2015). Men and the movies: Labor, masculinity, and shifting gender relations in contemporary Hollywood cinema. Columbus, OH: College of Fine Arts of Ohio University.

Tziamtzi, C., Kyridis, A., Vamvakidou, I., Christodoulou, A., & Zagkos, C. (2015). Social signified in the movie posters of Hollywood movies made for children. Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities, 3(5), 295-310.

Yakaboski, T., & Donahoo, S. (2017). Titillation, murder, and romance: Hollywood’s Objectification of women college students. In Anti-intellectual representations of American colleges and universities (pp. 101-120). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Contemporary American Cinema: Dominant Theme and Philosophy." May 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/contemporary-american-cinema-dominant-theme-and-philosophy/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Contemporary American Cinema: Dominant Theme and Philosophy'. 29 May.

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