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How Film Portrayals of the Military Influence Public Opinion About the Military

In military public affairs, public opinion is key to maintaining a positive
image. Public affairs practitioners work each day to create, interpret, and improve public opinion. While public affairs practitioners are active in obvious perception forming arenas, they often ignore the high-impact images they did not create. The images films produce about the military and service members are wide-reaching and salient. The average person, with little or no military affiliation, watches these movies for entertainment and often ends up with much more.

It is well known that televised media are instrumental in forming opinions and influencing public perception (Benson, 1967). In the current pilot study, study reviewed relevant research regarding the role of movies in perceptions and investigated the correlation between military-themed movies and perceptions of the U.S. Armed Forces. In an average movie, the viewer is bombarded with roughly 90 minutes of intense images. While the average movie go-er realizes these are fictional portrayals of military life, such images are too strong to ignore (Griffin, 1994) and can be used non-consciously by people in forming opinions (Benson, 1967). If such movies constitute a majority of the exposure a
person has to the military, this body of research asserts that the person will then draw upon those images when considering military affairs and when forming opinions and making decisions about the military.