Stifled Motion- A Look Into The Current Film Industry: Part 1: How Did We Get Here?
My name is Felipe Herrera, also known as The Hypnotic Visionaire. Currently, I'm an Experimental Screenwriter who dabbles into other avenues just for the sake of keeping an open mind. If you wish to know more about my work, head over to my website.
Today I wanted to return to the realm of blogging. And while I could go back to showcasing New Artists, I believe it will be more beneficial to everybody if we really looked into the underlying reasons why New-Age Artists aren't getting the treatment they deserve. Specifically in the realm of Film & Video, as most of the Experimental Scene gets less than 1% of the attention that the Mainstream does. Why is this? Well, this series (titled Stifled Motion) will go into depth the problems with the current film industry in an Artistic & Progressive Manner. You can find all of these Articles over at my website hypnoticvisionaire.com. Today I introduce you to the first of these Articles, explaining a brief history on how Film became a Realm for Escapist Entertainment rather than Thoughtful Expression. Enjoy, and tell me how you all think below.
Throughout the dusks of history, many people lived in dire conditions. Most of our ancestors were farmers who struggled to survive & reproduce offspring. During this time, most of us didn't have the ability to discuss Philosophy or Spiritual Growth, much less the importance of the Arts.
While these were troubled times, they were also easier to understand. While we are a species that takes pride in our ability to change & grow, we were also plagued with fearful instincts that kept us from seeing our full potential. But Fear also kept Order & Conformity, which the Powerful used to keep us suppressed. But with Animalistic Mind of a Human, only a certain few can find peace in constant fear. So lone & behold the invention of Expression arises as a way to bring a better vision to the living conditions at the time. While most of us didn't have the time to Express, the few that did were seen as the idols of their time. More so than any King or Priest, these salesmen of Expression gave the Human-Race a level of subconscious sophistication that Tyrants could only wish to replicate. And here we match the first problem of Art in its most natural form. We are Animals, we aren't designed to be controlled by a Single Person, City, State or Nationality. Yet Leaders need to keep fear alive, and it didn't take much Creative Insight to find ways around this new idea of Personal Worth.
Some leaders outright banned the idea of Free Expression. You were expected to be nothing more than what your leader wished upon you. You accepted it or you accepted a cruel death in front of your peers. But as dangerous as these methods were, they did have a single bright light. It was hard to ignore the truth during these times, no matter what God you believed in or what Pride you found through Tradition. Eventually, people tried to fight back for their right to live. And while these were the bloodiest times, these moments also gave the Citizens an Aura of Adrenaline Hope that was obtainable & easy to understand. Nobody in the current world can know what sort of adrenaline rush these people might have experienced. And in a Cruel & Harsh world, this feeling of Growth & Change was enough to satisfy their appetites for purpose.
As we all know, not every leader was as forceful. And some of them knew better as an Uprising could open up a Chaotic Version of Pandoras Box. So it was up to them to provide distractions in order to keep the populous at ease. One of the earliest & most famous of these were The Gladiator Games of Ancient Rome. These started off as nothing more than a Sport, where the goal was to admire the accomplishments of an Athlete (just like The Olympics). It was also a way to punish slaves & criminals in the same way Leaders have been doing since Societies became a part of the Human Experience. But it didn't take long to discover that adrenaline wasn't just a personal endeavor, but a feeling that can be invisibly spread out and consume those who weren't participating. As long as these viewers had ears & eyes, they could also felt accomplished.
Before we continue I just wanted to add that I don't have any sort of Historical Context to be certain as to when Expression turned into Entertainment & Showmanship. This part of Human involvement could have existed since the dawn of man. There is even a chance that Entertainment was invented before Expression. But if I had to take a guess, this change probably took place when Leaders saw the potential of this contagious adrenaline rush. Obviously, we first discovered this as Hunter Gatherers, but it wasn't until events like The Gladiator Games when Leaders were able to use adrenaline on peaceful viewers rather than barbaric fighters. This caused a change in Human Psychology, where we sought out this feeling through the means of our leaders rather than personal accomplishments. It also meant that Expression was Designed to accommodate this feeling to the most powerful degree. And the most vital (and dangerous) part of this False Adrenaline Wind was that it created hope to its viewers (aka, Average Citizens) while keeping the powerful in place. It was a Win-Win Situation that only a few have really questioned throughout history.
This brings us to the 20th Century, where our two most important modes of Expression are Music & a brand new invention known as Film (and eventually Video). At this point, Music has had a long history of undergoing changes in how people experienced it. But Film was Brand New, and it was birthed due to the Industrial Revolution. No other Art-Form beforehand could say that they began because of Technology & Greed. But Filmmaking was a tool that only the Rich & Powerful could decide the future of. Obviously, this made it so most of these films were fantastical and took a lot of inspiration from Theater. Unlike the days of Shakespeare, Theater in the late 19th Century was mainly used to showcase stories that gave a vibe of melodramatic hope to its viewers. Kind of like a Children's Tale without the Message. And while these Simple Stories from Stage didn't give the same taste of Adrenaline that the Gladiator Games did, they did tap into a Universal Touch of Hope through False Imagination. They made you wonder without making you question. A good recipe to make your audience feel intelligent without putting any thought into practice.
Despite how dangerous this method of theater can be, it really didn't cause a lot of harm in the grand scheme of things. It made sure that people ignored the powerful (which isn't ideal) but it kept the focus on the craft. So when did Film become more than a mere Escapist Fairytale? Enter two periods in World History, The Great Depression of the United States & The Rise of The Nazi Party in Germany. Let's get into the Nazi Aspect first.
We all know that Hitler used Film to showcase Propaganda throughout his reign. But it wasn't the Propaganda itself that changed how Cinema was Sold to its viewers. In fact, Battleship Potemkin was another Propaganda Piece (on the opposite end) from Russia during it's Revolution. And every ArtForm has Propaganda laced into it at some point or another. But what Hitler was able to accomplish with the new medium was showcase scope in a way no other ArtForm has done before. Suddenly a Single Image could have the same impact as a Roman Cathedral, your eye could be manipulated in ways that authors could only describe beforehand. This gave the new medium a sense of grandeur that has never been seen before. Hitler didn't just use the new Medium to push his message, he used it to look like a massive force that his viewers (the citizens of Germany) could only hope to duplicate. This made him look like the Ultimate Hero, and made it so that questioning him was like questioning a Royal God (in that, it shouldn't happen unless you want to pay the consequences).
Nazi Germany obviously fell from power, but we can still see the remnants of this worship clause in films to this day. While the Plays of the late 19th Century were Simple, they didn't depict the Protagonist as an Ultimate Badass Hero. In fact, most of these Protagonists were Wide-Eyed & Ignorant, and the plot was used to help them learn something they didn't know before. A story based on showcasing the pure awesome potential of the Lead Actor would be boring & pointless in Theater.
But in Film, the Manipulation of the Camera could turn this on its head and create Modern Myths that were seen instead of told. Hitler obviously used this to make himself look like a Mythical Hero that would bring Germany into the promised era. But after he died, Hollywood (and other Film Markets) used his tactics to showcase Lead Actors in a Mythic Like Light, and even went as far as to sell the concept of Hollywood (the city) as a Heaven on Earth like place that blesses the rest of us with quality projects.
Now let's talk about The Great Depression, as this moment would mark the time when the public turned its trust of an ArtForm over to the few & powerful. Before this, Film was just starting off fresh. And while some of these Films were bad & poorly made, some of them showed promise in how the Art could showcase potential growth onto its viewers. If everything went well, Films could be just as important to the Eye as Literature is to the Mind or Music is to the Ear. This means that Film could use its Visual Setup to help its audience grow & learn about the world around them. But then comes the Great Depression.
I don't want to put the blame on the viewers, as they were going through a terrible time in Modern History (especially in America). They didn't have the time to Philosophize as they barely had enough time to find food. But one of the saddest turnarounds in the History of Art came when the Major Studios of Hollywood used this moment in history to sell pure escapism. Yes, I already know that the Theatre Movement of the 19th Century used Escapist Elements, but this was made to showcase false imagination (as I already stated). The Movies made during the Depression were even more despicable. They weren't selling imagination, they were selling an image of success. They were selling the idea that you (the viewer) went inside the movie & pretended to be in a better world for two hours. And unfortunately, it worked so well that we are still dealing with the repercussions to this very day.
This moment shows us how powerful manipulation can be as a tool for stagnation. The people who were making & financing these films are the same type of people who made The Great Depression possible in the first place. And instead of disavowing this mindset (like they probably would in any other time in history), the American Public placed their trust towards the Rich, and accepted this version of the Art-Form as a Sacred Truth. And once the Depression ended, the Tradition of Blind Trust in the Hollywood System continued.
Let's look at everything I have brought up so far. The Romans (and other countries) create the idea of spreading Adrenaline. Hundreds of Years Later, Theater has a movement that is dedicated towards Simple, Easy To Understand Storytelling. This movement happens around the same time that Film Is Invented. And because both Art-Forms use Actors, Film takes a lot of elements from this Theatre movement. Flash forward to the Great Depression where Hollywood Companies sell the idea of Escapism. And a few years later, Germany sells its leader through the idea of Mythical Courage & Strength. Mix it all together and you got the Modern Day Film Industry, an industry acts like a fake religion designed to pretend it giving hope & wisdom while taking all of your money. Most elements of the Industry is based on Dogmatic Traditions while selling itself as humble and down to earth (sounds like religion to me).
If you still have your doubts though, this will be a continuous series into why the current film industry is the way it is.
In the Third Article, I'll talk about how my experiences as a Screenwriter has shown just how successful this industry has become in selling itself over the art. But our next article will go into the dangers of Modern Day Comfort, and how our perceptions are part of the problem when it comes to Art & it's Evolution. Stay Tuned!!!!!!!