SCN’s Incomplete Guide to (Lesser-Known) Politically Influential Films

By Greg Ott | Mar 3, 2014

Last night, the Academy Awards broke Twitter, gave Matthew McConaughey a brand new reason to be his own hero, enraged Squibbites everywhere, demoralized a plebeian Broadway star with a too-hard to pronounce name and basically was just all-around the best night in the history of nights. (Unless you’re Leo, in which case, it wasn’t.)

And now, it’s all over. What do we do?

Feature films are the cornerstone of American society, and celebrating the achievements of Hollywood brings our culture together.

In fact, a recent academic study of our favorite films suggests that what we choose to watch closely influences our political behavior. For instance, Oliver Stone’s JFK led to a decrease in faith in the political system, while 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow increased belief in global warming.

The Second City Network is here with the proverbial academic burrito for your Oscar hangover: Presenting our Incomplete Guide to Lesser-Known Politically influential Films.


Bambi (1942)

Led to the nation’s first serious push for gun control in cartoons animated in 2D.


Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Chinatown (1974), Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), The Pianist (2002), Carnage (2011), Blue Jasmine (2013)

Permitted society to judge men solely on their achievements and ignore well-documented criminal behavior.


Sophie’s Choice (1982)

Directly responsible for the introduction of the Pepsi Challenge.


The Terminator (1984)

Decreased funding for abortion.


Schindler’s List (1993)

Increased public support for lists.


The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Frank Darabont’s well-loved story of redemption initiated serious prison reform, barring any inmate from the possession of posters.


Forrest Gump (1994)

Public support for Robert Zemeckis’ masterpiece led to Congress’ creation of the Department of Characters Playing Veterans of Foreign Wars, later renamed “Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.”  (Now open until 11pm at Navy Pier!)


Heavyweights (1995)

This fun-filled fat camp romp spurred the pro-obesity movement, left unchecked until Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative.


Se7en (1995)

Led the Transumbered movement, paving the way for numbers to be recognized as letters.


Mission to Mars (2000)

NASA support for a manned exploration of the Red Planet dropped substantially following this film’s release, with public opinion worrying that any trip to Mars would be a horrifying reminder of this movie.


National Treasure (2004)

Pressured Congress to remove funding for any national infrastructure project that could become a “Nicholas Cage endeavor.”


Larry Crowne (2011)

Tom Hanks’ story about an aging baby boomer’s re-invention corresponded with a sharp decline in support for community college, citing the desire for students not to have to hang around with losers like Larry Crowne.


Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013)

Increased awareness of Lee Daniels.


Mitt (2014)

A candid, humanizing look at Mitt Romney that ultimately swayed public opinion in his direction just in time for the 2012 presidential election.

We’re not just experts on movies. Come see our take on history, math, art and serial killers in The Second City’s Incomplete Guide to Everything, now playing at the UP Comedy Club. Get tickets here!

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GREG OTT is an actor, writer, and comedian. He’s currently on tour with Second City Theatricals aboard the Norwegian Breakaway. Follow his pictures at

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