In a moment of frustration, I told someone, in reference to actors, that in some circles spending one’s lifetime pretending to be someone else could be considered a mental illness….The particular person I was spouting off to thought I was speaking in reference to the characters played and without a breath launched on a very long-winded soliloquy about “the craft” of modern storytelling. In it’s pure philosophical sense, I had no issue with most of what was said, except to say that I wasn’t speaking philosophically. I am speaking about a growing trend of celebrity that isn’t based on a craft, or a long history of storytelling…you know the kind that compelled culture forward, that moved humanity and evolved us to utilize more and more of the grey matter encased in our skulls, but are put on screen because of a baser appeal. I am alarmed at the themes and content of television programming, the cinema and a lot of music…it is just plain stupid, and not in the lesser pejorative definition of the word, but in the way Shakespeare’s head would explode if forced to watch or listen to it for any length of time. I know there are plenty of people who are offended by the sex, violence and inane messages of today’s stories, I guess I am too but in lesser measure than the the toll it has taken on our culture. Please understand me, I’m not being prudish here. Sex and violence are very prevalent in great works of story-art. Context is everything. What other point in history could a character named “Snookie” become more recognizable than heroes who fight for freedom, whether it be war, saving the planet or curing diseases? At this moment, if I were to envision the perfect incarnation of evil, it would be those media moguls who hide behind their “freedoms” to tell the kind’s of stories that have a better chance of producing sociopaths than leaders who will continue to use their influence to compel humanity to a greater future…all because the former is where the money is.
I am no fool, I understand how the world works, they supply what is demanded. But there should be wisdom there too, and a responsibility toward future culture. People shouldn’t always get what they want, it isn’t good for us…just look at the level of addiction in this country…not only from drugs, but to food and sex too. I want more stories that will make us better people, that will challenge us to think outside the box, and help us laugh without being perverse . There are great gems out there, great stories ready to be told, but because the industry makes it almost impossible to infiltrate they aren’t easily shared with a greater audience. I am also aware that there are those out there working for change, and I applaud you whoever you are. I don’t think it’s happening fast enough. Our culture is declining. Seriously folks, there is a fog spreading out there, and media, in all its incarnations doesn’t seem to be very efficient in helping dispel it so we can see things any more clearly…which is really sad given the present capability to reach just about every living soul on the planet…and outer space. What will future generations think when they revisit the most popular stories of today and find they revolve around the lives of entitled housewives, derelict young adults, vampires and all aspects of solving fictional violent crime? Or discover that language has been reduced to a hybrid of shorthand text speak that renders the population illiterate and unable to hold a simple conversation? Will they consider this the dark ages of the second millennium?
There is much to be done, and as you can probably tell by this diatribe, I am a bit frustrated and overwhelmed. The hope lies in our single, ordinary voices…to simply demand more. Think carefully about your viewing choices…it matters more than you may realize.