Dear Hollywood. You’ve been a bit beat up lately, so I wanted to remind you of your greatness and your purpose.
I love you. I love your magic. I love the movies, the glamour, the legends. You gave us The Ten Commandments and Gone With the Wind. You challenged us with Schindler’s List, 12 Years a Slave, and Saving Private Ryan. We cried, laughed, and cheered after watching E.T., Apollo 13, The Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy. We got a bit obsessed with movies like Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars. We quoted The Princess Bride, fell in love with late bloomers like The Shawkshank Redemption and Office Space. We wept openly at the ending of The Green Mile and spent our adolescence trying to have adventures like the kids on Stand By Me and Goonies. All of this was made possible by you, Hollywood.
But we need to talk, because you’ve lost your heart.
Hollywood, you wonderful, confused, beautiful, horrendous beast, you are suffering from the sin of nihilism. You’re all glitz and lights and over-zealous joy sometimes, but under that is a deep, deep sadness. Because you’ve achieved everything there is to achieve, sometimes selling your soul to get there, and life is still painful. This is why you’ve come to the collective conclusion that life is meaningless.
But you’ve got it all wrong. The money, the fame, the accolades; they are not everything there is to life. They are cake. They are fluff. They taste great for the time being, but then the sugar high passes, and you realize you’ve overloaded on carbs, and you feel bloated and empty and wanting that next high. That Oscar on your shelf, it’s cake. Enjoy it, yes, but take note of the empty carbs and find something of substance, because your nihilism is bumming me out.
All this other stuff, the sex abuse scandals, the dark and dirty underbelly of Hollywood, it can all be overcome if you realize that your purpose isn’t the aforementioned cake. It’s much greater than that.
Your purpose isn’t to make money. Your purpose isn’t to get an Oscar or a SAG award. Your purpose isn’t to save us from Trump, wars, guns, or scary conservatives. Your purpose isn’t even to “entertain and distract.” Your purpose is to take all the chaos and pain of real life and shape it into something meaningful.
It is a mighty purpose.
When you tell a great story, when you perfect the art you are creating, you tap into a vein that has existed since humans invented language. That vein is, in essence, the story of us, the story of humankind and the hope we have. That vein will carry every story or every form of great art into a natural conclusion, revealing a truth far greater than the narrow truth of Hollywood’s echo chamber. Your mighty purpose is to find that vein, plug into it, and give us a looking forward to that time in life when the veil is lifted, and we see there was always a grand and wonderful meaning to life.
But you can’t do that if you’re stuffing down cake and in the regretful, empty afterwards, worshiping at the alter of nihilism.