American audiences should consider foreign movies when choosing what to watch

Christian Ledbetter

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The Oscars will air on Feb. 9, and with the awards program comes the arguments of which films should win and lose. Critics have often accused the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which votes on the award of prioritizing Hollywood films over indie and foreign ones as the academy is mostly made up of people who work in Hollywood. Now, it seems the average American shares that same disdain for foreign films.

According to Time magazine, since their peak in the ‘60s, foreign films have declined in popularity over the years. This is completely understandable. Movies like “Black Orpheus,” a Portuguese film from 1959, don’t exactly bring the same comfort as “Endgame” or “Fast and Furious.” There may be jokes that get lost in translation, huge cultural differences, ideas that conflict with what we’re surrounded by and worst of all, pesky subtitles. When all of these elements are combined, they can create an overwhelming feeling of discomfort—the last thing someone wants when watching a movie.

But this feeling of discomfort is one we should make an effort to overcome. The exact qualities that may make someone shy away from a foreign film are exactly what makes them important to pay attention to.

There are some aspects of culture a textbook can’t capture. Yes, there are plenty of past and present movies from America that have criticized American life, but I’m not talking about politics and war. These aspects of culture can be something like the warning of pride found in “Grave of the Fireflies” or something much smaller than that like learning about different comedy styles or discovering new foods. Seeing how people from other countries deal with life’s problems could help someone deal with their own.

It’s not that you shouldn’t watch movies from the United States; American movies like “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars” are fantastic, grand visions that people should enjoy. However, so are “Shoplifters” and “Train to Busan.” We should see foreign movies as no different than any other movie. So the next time you’re scrolling through Netflix, consider looking through the foreign language section; you might learn something new. Better yet, you may watch something great that you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Christian Ledbetter at cledbetter@hilite.org

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