In Roger Simon’s piece on the Oscars (quoted in my previous post), that Oscar-nominated screenwriter observes, “human beings that we are, we desire, maybe even need, entertainment. It’s worth remembering that some of Hollywood’s finest hours were during the Depression.” I agree. (Read the whole thing for his reflection on what happens to neighborhoods around Hollywood Boulevard during Oscar week).
I would take that one step further–as human beings, we need stories. They seem to serve no practical purpose, but in every culture of which are aware, our fellows told stories as a means to define their particular culture, transmit sacred knowledge and entertain. Jesus himself was a great story-teller. The first two books of Moses and much of the last three consist of a number of stories, over whose meaning wise men have wrestled for millennia.
What we call myths are really just the sacred stories of other cultures. They help us define our relation to our fellows and to the cosmos as well as helping even understand our nature as human beings. No wonder movies still have such a cultural impact. They are just our era’s means of doing what our forebears have done as far back as we can tell. Telling stories. To be sure, with all the new media today, movies are just one means among many.
That perhaps makes our culture particularly unique–so many means to tell stories. But, yet, we still tell them.