HOLLYWOOD AND POLITICS aren’t strangers by any stretch, and lately they’ve been getting even cozier. As The Hill reported last week, lobbyists are increasingly using the allure of Hollywood to get the attention of politicians, using advance movie screenings and meetings with movie stars to bring attention to key policy issues.
Although groups such as the Motion Picture Association of America (headed by former Sen. Chris Dodd) have long used movie screenings as an advocacy tool, other groups are beginning to catch on, especially when a film can be used to call attention to specific policy points.
The American Gaming Association, for example, frames the upcoming film Runner Runner, which portrays the seedy underside of offshore gambling, as a “cautionary tale” on the dangers of illegal online gambling. Similarly, The Hill reports that Captain Phillips, which is currently in theaters, is being screened by the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots to highlight the issues faced by the Merchant Marine. About 50 members of Congress were invited.
But are these screenings actually an effective way to curry favor with lawmakers? Many groups are finding that they’re an extremely useful advocacy tool. As The Hill reports, last years’ Oscar-winning Silver Linings Playbook was an incredible boon for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of a man with bipolar disorder attached a famous face to a crucial issue for the organization.
In a world with many competing distractions, lobbyists are finding that the glamour of Hollywood can still grab the attention of policymakers. And for advocacy groups, the next big film could be their big break.