Does Hollywood strike you as shocking? Well, one cinema manager said her mother refuses to watch anything Hollywood. Why? Because Hollywood bases itself on a model: one of sexuality, violence, criminality, and revenge. We all know that?on the surface.
When I first drafted this article, I included a soul-sucking characterization of Hollywood’s depravity: a quote from the book Audition by Michael Shurtleff. In his quote, Shurtleff links the most explicit, darkest fantasies of humankind to stage-performances-come-alive. That’s Hollywood.
I drafted, debated?and then deleted the quote. Peeling the skin off Hollywood’s model reveals a rotten juicy onion.
As a little history, back in 2006, I submitted an academic proposal to write a paper on scriptwriting. When my proposal got accepted, I drafted an article criticizing the model of rising tension in scriptwriting. I preferred a model of rising wisdom?one evidenced in my boyfriend’s manuscript. He hadn’t been trained in scriptwriting?and his book had little tension?yet his book overflowed with wisdom and proactive ideas.
When I submitted my paper, the committee trashed it. I received an email plastered with criticisms. However, the committee chair reassured me, “At least you stirred debate.”
Even when I was a child, I disliked most cartoons?too much violence and tension. The one cartoon I liked featured a ghost, Shmoo, who often said “I love you” while smiling and cooing.
Hollywood’s no Shmoo. Over the last several months, I’ve explored the Hollywood model by reading books on auditioning, acting, and directing. Today’s article dug up some extra graphic depravity.
But, I’ll let you be the judge. In fact, I’ll include the quote I deleted.
Michael Shurtleff’s quotes, from his book Audition, show-up in bold below. I follow with a synthesis for academic writing.
When acting, choose the wild and fantastical motive over the dull and dry. Michael Shurtleff confesses, “In our fantasy lives and in our dreams we all commit rape, murder, incest, and any number of grandiose and bizarre sexual activities” (p. 155). So, in your essays, like in an actor’s scene, choose the wild and extreme, Shurtleff style. If you discover that a philosopher you cite womanized, weave that into your argument: “He showed a lack of commitment to his theories, his predecessors?and his wife.” don’t bore your reader.
As a disclaimer, this strategy makes Hollywood sparkle?but trashes integrity. Use it cautiously, as it can be seen as irrelevant or an attempt to bias through emotion. Better yet, avoid it.
don’t act like a cliché whore, lesbian, gay, or pimp, says Schurtleff. Similarly, when you write about marginalized people, don’t focus on clichés. Even the criminally insane may have “outward behavior ? no different than anyone else’s; it is the interior emotional life that is important to explore” (p. 161). Find the common humanity in the outward behavior. Superimpose that humanity with a unique, deep, rich inner world. Only then will you bypass the cliché?and do a service to the people you explore.
When acting a disabled character, “strongly determine what you are fighting for, rather than drowning in [the character’s] afflictions,” says Shurtleff (p. 162). Similarly, when discussing people with disabilities, don’t focus on their afflictions; focus on their dreams?the fight for what they want and need. An advocate with multiple personalities disorder might fight to change the system so she, too, may one day have access to government-funded psychologists. Focus on the fight, not the affliction.
In acting, listening is reacting, feeling what you’ve heard, and making a difference with the way you react. When you listen to a lecture, don’t just jot down what you hear verbatim. Instead, take notes and react with both your gut and a commitment to get proactive. In other words, when the professor speaks to you, respond with silent dialogue. If your professor said that people with intellectual disabilities deserve an education, what would you think? I responded by helping one child labeled a “vegetable” get an education. To listen respectfully, react proactively.
Sometimes, revenge is creative?and not harmful or destructive. A doctor once told me, “Success is the best revenge.” When we seek out revenge to prove naysayers wrong, we use revenge in a creative way. So, use revenge creatively in your student life. If your dad said you’d never amount to anything, then go chase that law degree. If your parents said you were selfish, then enroll in that social work or psychology program. Use revenge as a creative force?only.
Hollywood sells shock. And the shock worsens every decade. Many low budget international films sell story. I love wisdom. Which is best? You be the judge.
A paradox? I call it a creative spark!