Learning Moral Values in College Movies

Updated: Nov 18, 2016

Learning Moral Values in College Movies

OShot from the Movie With Honorsrganized youth groups, sport clubs, church organizations promote traditional moral values through peer interaction and learning the social consequences of a particular behavior. Similarly, moral values are promoted through mass communication media such as television, videos, songs, and movies by offering different models of behavior and their corresponding rewards or punishment.

Movies are not simply entertainment as they expose people to social norms and life experiences. They are normally presented with themes and characters displaying value-laden principles and taking moral decisions that are influential in shaping or modifying a person’s value system. Movies displaying immorality such as crimes, violence against women, homosexuality, and others are likely to influence their audience moral values negatively. Movies are important elements in youth’s socialization and reinforced values learned from home and school. For example, study shows that cowboy heroes in movies unintentionally convey socially significant information that influenced values, attitudes, and beliefs of young people.

Life Lessons in College Movies

Poster from the movie Deadman on CampusThere are a number of movies set in college with moral value. In 1994 for example, the movie "With Honors" is about an arrogant Harvard student (played by American-Canadian actor Brendan Frazer) who loses the only copy of his thesis which he later found in the hands of a homeless but street-smart older man.

The conflict began when the homeless man used the thesis as leverage for some favors. The egotistical and antagonistic Harvard senior student tried but failed to outsmart the situational intelligence and shrewd resourcefulness of the street smart and finally agrees to negotiate.

The movie according to some reviews is a thoughtful representation of life with a moral value that people should do what makes them happy. The Harvard student negotiating for his thesis is at first snobbish and insufferable but mature and becomes sympathetic to the pain and suffering of the homeless man.


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Most good college movies explore social and moral issues and teach important life lessons. One of them is the 1998 dark comedy film "Dead Man on Campus", the story of college studious student (Josh) who is led astray by his roommate’s (Cooper) carefree lifestyle.

Initially, the movie explores the economic reality of getting a college education and consequences of neglecting your studies. For instance, Josh gets into college on a scholarship that requires him to get a passing grade each semester. Cooper’s college education, on the other hand, is funded by his father despite consistent failing grade. Lost in Cooper’s partying world, the normally studious Josh failed to pass all his mid-term exams and facing a loss of scholarship. Similarly, Cooper’s father finally discovers his son’s lack of concern in passing the course and threatens to stop the funding if Cooper fails again.

Facing a similar dilemma, they found a solution in an unusual academic rule where roommate of a student who commits suicide gets a perfect grade but it didn’t work. The problem was resolved when the school gives Josh (who commit a fake suicide attempt over the bridge) a second chance while Cooper, (a hero to his father as he allegedly convinced Josh to abandon his plan) maintained the funding. However, they learned the lessons well as both became more serious in their studies.

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