This Hollowed Ground 

While flicking through [Popular Entertainment Magazine] (I get it for free, you see, and therefore usually give it a turn), I came across the following huge, fall TV ad:

ďChoose [Popular Show] on Thursday nights.Ē

What?

ďChooseĒ one [Evening Soap] over another? ďVoteĒ for one [Faux-artist Contestant] over another? ďAmerica has chosen [New Movie] as the number one comedy!ĒÖ Nevermind that itís the only comedy in theaters right now.

When I look at ads, certain magazines and websites, and watch certain TV stations and movies, I feel awful. Literally, I feel awful. This choose-must-watch-vote marketing technique is one part of that onset of cultural depression. Itís the reason that I seldom watch TV or bad films, or read popular entertainment and fashion magazines. Or things on the bestseller list.

When did story, something so wonderful, celebrated, inspiring and instrumental, become a contest? Or worse: A competition that overrules quality and that we are made to feel we must take part in? If ďitĒ doesnít have top ratings and top box office and top ten billboard this and bestseller that and Technorati rankings andÖ Why do we live our lives by lists and tasteless, manipulative marketing?

Approval ratings.

(Forgot to list that one.)

Thatís what I like about the Demand, really: Itís not a versus or a face-off or voting. Instead, itís a way for us to say what we like, no matter how independent or popular, and bring said liked whatness to us. Locally.

I really am sorry for everyone, all of us; you me and everyone. Iím sorry that itís so hard to enjoy ourselves sometimes and to get down to a true catharsis. And that itís hard to see the great art because oft itís not made and supported and distributed until/so we have to work hard to support those stories and song-makers and news-seekers andÖ and we have to do all that without ruining the art along the way when, as the audience, that is not our jobs.

I mean, some people are paid very well to do that and they are fucking up, so now weíre doing their jobs and thatís very ridiculous.

Take your life back.

And if you want to find the truth in art and in life, you canít listen to the lists. You just canít. Part of being a human is using your will and willpower and daring to discover. You just canít eat everything thatís put in front of you. Marketing and story are the same way. We are inundated. We are losing. We canít ingest all of this. And why would we want to?

Take your life back.

Make your own fun.

Will it ever happen again that youíll wander into a movie theater, check the titles, (all unknown to you,) pick something that sounds good, and discover something wonderful and trulyÖ justÖ wonderful? Something real. Will it ever happen that you are left to discover untouched story?

Or untouched land?

Take your life back.

These days, if you want to discover something, even the lightest, littlest something, it takes much, much more effort than ever before. Because they make it so easy for you to take, instead, what they give so easily and promise so easily.

Take your life back.

Heck, maybe itís always been this way: I donít know I wasnít alive forever. Right? And maybe Iím just recently aware. After some research and talking to the elders, however, I donít think it has always been: It was better and had the potential to be better. We let it slip.

Take your life back.

Something I should have done long ago when I remembered willpower, Iím going to do from now on. Iím going to toss my free [Popular Entertainment Magazine] when it comes along with my standard tossing of my free [General Interest Magazine for Teens]. I canít stop getting those drags for free without sacrificing the [Actually Useful] free magazine in the process, but that doesnít mean I have to look at everything thatís put in front of my face.

Scratch my last: I'm going to cancel them all and pay for what's useful.

Because Iíve been working on taking my life back.

It makes me sad that I donít much like movies anymore. But you know you donít need them much when your own life is better, or can be better. And, when itís not better, in those movements and moments and rainy days when you turn to story and it does nothing for you, you know itís time to require more from your cultural diet.

ďThe future of film is in the hands of advertisers,Ē thatís what the decision makers here, the big ones, have told me.

I donít think so, friends: I've taken my life back.

Better than ranting, it's about doing things the way you believe.

Make your own fun.

A musician posed this to me, ďWhy not go your own way and only write fiction novels?Ē

What draws me to film as a storyteller is that it takes a team, a creative and technical community, to raise the story. Itís the exploration of the lives youíve written, (or someone else has created,) an exploration of humanity and human behavior. I couldnít give up performance. There is also that my imagination manifests in the format of motion pictures and moments. Partially itís selfish, like everything is, I suppose. Part of it is that one canít turn away from something that, while fun, is also taken quite seriously. Like a higher calling. It would be easier to solely write because I can control that: Writing only requires me and is not expensive to produce. Then, I could leave this industry. I could leave California.

But that would be giving my life up.

And as you know, Iíve been working on taking my life back.

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