Open Letter to America's Artists: Calling all Filmmakers, Actors, Writers, Musicians, Dancers, Artists.
Now that America has voted for change, please consider your part in helping to show us how to do it – both on the national and on the local levels. You don't have to be a super-star. You just have to use your creative talents to bring out the best in our people.
America and the world need a new vision. I think that's why Barack Obama's win elicited such excitement around the world. The world is waiting for America to lead the way again, by living out our ideals and standing firm in the moral values that serve those high ideals.
Obama won't be able to make real changes on his own. Besides keeping our eye on the ball in Washington, we all have a responsibility to change our world. It won't be easy and it won't be quick. But we have to take responsibility for our part and change the way we do business and live our lives.
Artists have an even greater responsibility, because we are supposed to be the visionaries, memory-keepers and truth-speakers of our people. The 60s showed us that artists can change the world. Our music changed the way we saw ourselves, and it opened up iron curtains to create bonds with people who were our 'enemies'. It's time to do it again.
So don't strike the set yet, Steven Spielberg and friends. It's not enough to make a commercial to get people to vote. Don't walk away from the music now that Obama has won the election, Will.i.am and friends. Now please use your talents to inspire people around the world to think differently, believe differently, and act differently.
Why you? Because your ancient, archetypal purpose is to instruct, inspire, envision and yes, entertain. As C.G. Jung suggested, there are archetypes for all human endeavors, and one of the more important social or collective archetypes is the Archetypal Bard – the artist, storyteller and musician. This archetypal figure helps ground the group or tribe in a sense of place and purpose. All ancient cultures valued their storytellers as essential to the health of the tribe. The archetype of the Bard did not die with Shakespeare, but it did devolved into the stereotype of the entertainer. Now is the time to change that too.
All cultures had strong storytelling traditions before the invention of the corporate media. Storytellers and musicians entertained their listeners, but their role was to tell stories and sing songs to help their people understand the whys and wherefores of human life, as well as the life of the natural world around them. Stories and music educate the heart. Storytellers and musicians are meant to lead the way, to see what was, what is and what can be possible and then report back to the rest of us.
If we want this change that we've voted for to take root and grow and not be demolished in the next election cycle, our artists need to step forward and engage our people and the world with a new vision.
The great fantasy writer, Charles De Lint in his book, The Onion Girl said, "There are times when people need stories more than they need nourishment, because the stories feed something deeper than the needs of the body."
We are living in such a time when our artists must start feeding 'something deeper than the needs of the body'. It's time to dedicate our art to the collective good, rather than our personal good. Writers need to step away from their personal stories and listen for the collective story that cries out for telling. Art is supposed to serve the community. Art is for everyone's sake.
So, to our artists in Hollywood, if you really mean it when you say you support Obama, then you have to change the way you do business. Use your talents to tell better stories, stories which inspire as well as entertain. Please stop using your considerable talents, and wasting incredible amounts of money, to tell tales of darkness, unconsciousness and stupidity. Stories of hope and goodness do not have to be boring. Use your talents to uplift us, make us think, make us laugh, and show us who we can become. Will Smith said that he wants to make a difference with the projects he does. He wants to live a life of purpose. I say, why don't all of you take the same stand.
Please Hollywood, go green on our collective psyche. Take responsibility for what images you put into our psyches. Stop polluting our imaginations with images of horrible monsters, destructive aliens, cruel and vicious men, the rape and pillage of women and children, insipid adolescent behavior, bombs, gratuitous violence, more bombs and car chases. Those images live on in us and create bad behavior, because what lives in our imaginations becomes the reality we create. Sorry but it's true! Stop making movies for 16-32 year old boys. There are other people – lots of us – who want and need stories to uplift us, inspire us and teach us how to make the changes in our lives that will be necessary in the future.
It is really what stories we choose to tell that make all the difference between hope and despair, fullness of life and scarcity, life and death. Obama just proved that. Our cultural stories can feed people with visions and dreams of their future, or close off all hope of fulfillment; they can make us insecure and fearful, or inspire us to courageously stand up to oppression and death. When a people loose touch with their cultural stories, they loose touch with their souls and with their place in the Cosmos. This has happened with all conquered peoples when their stories are taken away from them. It is what is happening in America and around the world today. We are all in danger of losing our individual stories to the corporate story – which basically panders to our lowest selves rather than inspires our higher angels.
Since America is a melting pot of all the world's cultures, it really is up to us to create new myths for our times. We need to look at all the world's myths and see which ones still resonate with us. Myths can be constantly renewed, and as Joseph Campbell said, myths are alive and well and walking down Broadway as we speak.
So please tell us better stories. We need to know how to save our planet, our water and air, our animals. We need to learn how to become creative individuals. We need to learn how to relate to each other as equals – especially men and women. We need to see how grown-up, responsible people act in the face of love and illness, challenges and death. Our kids need to see how to be respectful and responsible so they can meet their own challenges and make good choices.
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