If only because we’ve previously tackled current events (even when not film or TV-related) on Shadow & Act, a number of readers have emailed me asking if I (or any S&A writers) plan to address last weekend’s incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia which, as I’m sure you’re all aware, have led to nationwide disgust and vehement protest, both on and offline; occurrences that certainly aren’t isolated, especially since our current president (he whose name shall not be spoken here) moved into the White House earlier this year, bringing with him a sympathy with some of the worst elements found in society, which has seemingly only emboldened them.
Other than insisting that you continue to stay informed, engaged and enraged, as we’ve done in the past, is there much more that one can add to what’s already been said repeatedly, year after year, after year, after year… with each occurrence? I’m frankly exhausted from simply reacting to these societal breakdowns when they happen, without there being some real follow-through, in terms of action that goes beyond words on a page, or on a screen. And in my conversations with others on the matter, those feelings are shared, albeit in varying degrees. Many of us ultimately feel helpless. But maybe as artists, we’re not as impotent and actually wield some genuine power.
Jean-Luc Godard, pioneer of the French New Wave (a cinema revolution, if there ever was one), is said to have once argued that “revolution cannot be put into images” because “the cinema is the art of lying.”
I think cinema has long been a tool used by filmmakers to provoke, educate, stir, and inspire – an idea that will continue as long as cinema lives. There are those who firmly hold onto the notion that cinema is effectively useless if it doesn’t, unequivocally, intentionally challenge and instruct; although some would call that brand of cinema “propaganda.” Then again, there are also those who argue that all cinema is indeed propaganda.
Feel free to debate the various concepts and ideas if you’d like, in the comments section below.
But given that this website’s focus is cinema (as well as television and web representation), I’d strongly encourage writers, directors, producers, etc – content creators – to consider tackling these present-day issues directly, taking them head-on, in the work that you create, holding up a mirror to the society in which we live. Doing so may not necessarily bring about immediate change, but I believe in art as an edifying tool. It has the power to instruct, inspire or improve (someone or some people) morally and/or intellectually. This becomes especially important for the younger generation, whose minds, we could say, haven’t been entirely stained by years of living amid all this muck and grime.
Your pen, camera and/or talent can be your weapon… at least to start. In the process, ask yourself this: what does your ideal world look like? In an imaginary world that may only exist in your creative mind or in your creative output, how are you fighting back? Paint a cinematic portrait of your brand of “revolution.”
The above photo is Portrait of a Generation: Braquage, Ladj Ly, Les Bosquets, Montfermeil, France, 2004. From JR: Can Art Change The World.