Carefully read the following before participating in this discussion:
In its many manifestations, films may become the main art form of this century. Blockbuster movies, video games, and independent YouTube videos, may become even the most profound medium of reality. A well-told story, as example, points beyond itself. After all, the final interpretation is not with the story itself. Instead, it is to what the story points. In the words of Shakespeare, a story “bodies forth the forms of things unknown.” Many novelists and film producers admit their creativity seems to come from a “not me,” an “autonomous power,” a force independent of the story, a force inspired—not invented.
This, alone, is breathtaking. At the same time, however, we are becoming a culture concerned with “interactivity.” Today’s youth lead today’s events, and they revel in an “anything goes” world. They love breaking boundaries and overcoming constraints. Rather than following rules, they break the rules. In place of limits, they transgress the limits. More important, they constantly change the storyline of a sensually simulated world. And, they increasingly collaborate creatively in the realm of “world building.”
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As a result, films are no longer mere entertainment, no longer mere representation art, no longer mere simulations of life. Instead, films are increasingly pointing beyond themselves, leaping outside themselves, becoming “open systems.”
In short, films are becoming “life itself.”
This inherent power presents a problem, though. Many observers are saying “life itself” is in trouble. Increasingly, society reaches for the word “evil” to describe things that in the past were simply “unfortunate,” or mere “mental illness,” or “bad behavior.” Ancient wisdom repeatedly reminds us that “seraph” and “snake” abide side by side in the borderlines of our darker motivations. Even today, we admit that some moods are maladies. Some passions are polluted. Some sentiments are sinister. Further, we have known them to deceive and destroy us.
Ignoring these facts is like trying to erase our shadow.
Many of us, though, want something better. Most of us actually care about the future of our family, our nation, and those in need. We earnestly want films to be assets in our future—not liabilities.
Answering that want, we must necessarily perceive a “wisdom of the heart” that both “sees” and “feels.” Does a film empower you or overpower you? Does it offer hope or hopelessness? Does it portray selflessness or selfishness? Does it make you a victor or a victim? Does it move you or simply manipulate you?
Or, finally, does it confuse you, portraying good as evil and evil as good?
Great art, of course, often employs grief. Hopefully, however, this grief can still reveal a “nevertheless” paradox containing at least the seeds of hope. And yes, some art oozes romantic sweetness. Again, however, it can still recall a taste of bitterness in its sweetness.
In short, we must accept responsibility for a future driven by film. In doing so, we must learn to test, discern, and ground the evidence of something more wondrous or ominous than us.
In this discussion, name 3 ways you intend to both protect and encourage the power of film during your lifetime.