The debate over how popular media interact with politics and society is not a new one and takes place in every venue from scholarly publications to talk shows. One tendentious set of arguments has to do with whether television and movies only mirror the society that they depict or play more of a role in shaping the attitudes of audiences. Critics, scholars, and media people have staked out a variety of positions on this question, although most parties agree that visual media, in particular, do play some role in affecting the attitudes and behavior of their audi ences. 1