Movies are great escapes from reality. Fans of the silver screen like me know this by heart. Less known is that this form of entertainment can also have an opposite effect and impact reality, influence it and even change it.

Deer hunting

For example, after the 1942 debut of "Bambi" -- the movie about a mother deer shot to death in front of her doe -- deer hunting dropped to half in the U.S. The Daily Herald, a Chicago newspaper reporting the statistic in 2012, calling it the “Bambi effect.” So, you might call what I’m about to tell you a variant of that phenomenon.

The Bambi effect

Last week, when Politico reported spectators cheering the sight of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Va., taken from its pedestal, I didn’t share their enthusiasm. While on one level, I knew that removing the Confederate monument was the right thing to do, I felt unease about it and chalked the reaction up to the Bambi effect.

Civil War

Lee was portrayed in “Gettysburg,” the 1993 movie about the decisive battle in the Civil War by Martin Sheen who also played Democrat President Josiah “Jed” Bartlett on “The West Wing,” the political drama series that played on television every week from 1999 to 2006. Boasting a ton of awards including 26 Emmy awards, Time magazine ranked it among the best TV shows in the history of television.

Clearly, the series made an impression.

'The West Wing'

You could see its impact last month when Sheen faulted Trump to the Huffington Post as a “lying bum of an ex-president, and HuffPost said the complaint “could be right out of The West Wing.” So, seeing the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue was like seeing Sheen taken away.

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Robert Duvall was supposed to play the part of Gen. Lee, but scheduling problems interfered. He would have been the better choice, and not only because of Sheen’s association with Jed Bartlett.

'Apocalypse Now'

Duval is famed for his role as war-loving Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore in the 1979 flick about Vietnam War “Apocalypse Now” saying, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” Sheen’s movie roles are nice guy roles.

Even in "Apocalypse Now," Sheen played the passive Captain Benjamin Willard in the madness that was the war. He was also the soulful narrator of his mission to assassinate a rogue officer in the jungles of Saigon.

Sheen’s enactment of General Lee strategizing the killing of patriotic Americans in the battle of Gettysburg, like that of Captain Willard in "Apocalypse Now," was gentle.

Neo Nazis

But when Art News reported last week that Charlottesville officials decided to remove the Lee statue because it “glorified a racist figure” and attracted neo Nazis, put that way, the Bambi effect dipped below the horizon like a setting sun and gave way to reason.