"Truth doesn't have much of a market and, sadly, seems not to be good business"

essays

williamsAddiction to Illusion
Noa R. Gross

A pre-nursing student, Noa lives in Los Angeles. She will attend Adelphi University Nursing School in New York in the fall. She has “always loved being a student and learning new things.” She takes a special interest in learning about the experiences of others and how their experiences molded them into becoming who and what they are, and she thinks that this interest will benefit her in her nursing career. Since she was 11, she has found “refuge” in keeping a journal in which she records her experiences, observations and thoughts. She states: “I look forward to continuing my journey of life in this fascinating and blessed world, [and in] contributing to the well being of others.


Today’s entertainment industry, no matter what or where it is, is “Hollywood.” Thus, this entity known as “Hollywood” is a nomadic society: a Diaspora. And this Diaspora known as Hollywood is full of unrealistic and irrational ideas and ideals regarding ways to live life, which are responsible for influencing the typical person and suggesting principles for him or her to live up to and emulate. In a world of illusion and lies, from television shows to various genres of advertisements, these unhealthy influences sway an average person’s perspective, both physically and emotionally, poisoning all who come in contact with these standards. The very identity of a person is molded by these standards, which shape a person’s behaviors, judgments and views. Because Hollywood celebrities are usually the conduit by which these standards are communicated, a certain “relationship” is formed between society and Hollywood celebrities, one in which the average person subjects and conforms him- or herself to these celebrities' influences in many ways, yet never really feels satisfied with what the “relationship” yields. People degrade themselves by taking advice in everything from education to health, fashion, politics, and self-image from these role models, who are usually not experts in the areas about which they pontificate.

Human nature compels us to compare ourselves to others, in everything from hairstyles to clothes to education and morals, so it is inevitable that satisfaction with oneself depends upon whom one compares oneself to. Hollywood’s entertainment industry takes advantage of this human predilection, and causes people to falsify their reality by bombarding everyone with exaggerated reference points of ever-happy endings with which to contrast their lives, thus causing those who pursue these happy endings to fail in reaching the “life” victories of love, fame and wealth on display. Life, however, rarely matches what is displayed as “life” on the big screen. The journey of life takes consistency, planning, discipline, and time; people need to work hard to accumulate the kinds of rewards that lead to success and happiness, yet artificial fairy tales and photo shoots of happy endings skip this aspect of the importance of disciplined hard work to truly prosper.

Within the hierarchical and seemingly organized unit structure that is “Hollywood thinking,” which is based on superficial attributes (looks and money), there is an utter lack of meaningful direction. The impact of Hollywood’s emphasis on the superficial is not only negative, but also epidemic; because of the artificial needs that Hollywood thinking creates, people “need” their gossip magazines and TV shows, which stimulate a widespread obsession with the lives of these celebrities. While there are celebrities who use their fame and fortune for good, we do not see front pages flaunting “Beyoncé donates 2 million to charity”; it is all about the negative. Society ecstatically erupts about people entering and reentering rehab, getting caught driving drunk or abusing drugs, having affairs, or getting a divorce. The front page of numerous magazines promote the scandals and lies in the lives of celebrities, and by default significantly increases the kind of mindset and behavior in ordinary people that causes them to engage in wrong actions. The entire scene of Hollywood and what it represents involves drama, ever-so-enticing to be a part of, and even more so to observe and gossip about, yet what must be remembered is that these are real people with real feelings and souls, but even these real people are an illusion to onlookers; by being on public display so much, they often seem to lose their humanity and dignity, their capability to act with integrity. It is so confusing for humanity to have to live with celebrity images, which are a reflection of the popular living soap operas—famous people’s lives—that are so much a part of our culture.

The danger of Hollywood isn't merely the product of its industry, but its ubiquity. Where it might be possible to avoid excessive marketing messages for other consumer products, entertainment is uniquely pervasive. For this reason, companies pay the producers of entertainment for product placement, thereby investing in shows that may not reflect the values of the shareholders...but if the placement generates more profit, nobody complains. It's impossible to walk down the cereal aisle without being bombarded with messages aimed at steering children toward TV shows, with the tasty "sugar high" linked to creating the next generation of entertainment consumers.

The Hollywood community, made up of a disproportionate amount of dysfunctional people, brings more harm to our culture than any other group. The fact that we are letting this community define everything–from fashion to ethics to politics to the definition of America–is scary. Moreover, our letting them create these definitions is hypocritical on our part, because we know that most celebrities do not possess the expertise or knowledge to create accurate and meaningful definitions of various facets of American life.

For this reason, the Hollywood culture is the primary polluter of youth, disregarding the emotional and physical well being of anyone but Hollywood celebrities’ and power brokers’ own bank accounts. Headlines like “Best and Worst Beach Bodies” take celebrities doing ordinary things, like vacationing with their families and friends at the beach, to a different level, turning these things almost into an ad promoting the necessity of eating disorders! They promote everything from school supplies to lipstick and perfume, to cars and alcohol, acting as enticing sales people. Politically, they influence the youth to put down authority and America's influence on the world, causing more hatred towards our own government and people than ever before. Indeed the “freedom” of speech exercised by self-promoting and unabashed Hollywood stars may constitute actual blasphemy in some cases, yet the influence from these celebrities takes populations of youth and loyal followers by storm.

No longer is Hollywood satisfied with being pure entertainment; instead, Hollywood moguls seek ways to educate and influence society manipulatively through their celebrities and movie scripts. Furthermore, the discussing of “cultural sensitivity” that everyone is so preoccupied with disregards the trampling of many Americans' rights. Self-serving rationalization underlies it all; for example, some Hollywood celebrities and moguls promote environmental causes, and then leave enormous carbon footprints with their jets and mansions. They also seem to use people’s fears of racism and sexism to manipulate their feelings and views, causing them to object to people and events that are not racist or sexist. For example, a religion that does not allow same-sex marriage or female pastors becomes immediately racist (i.e., homophobic) and sexist, and as a consequence, all males who belong to that religion are smeared with the labels of homophobic and misogynistic, and female members are homophobic, masochistic and/or ignorant and oppressed. Some religious conservatives believe that marriage is a union that should take place only between a man and a woman; however, this belief does not automatically make them homophobic (people who hate and/or fear gays) or any of the other labels they are smeared with. Hollywood promotes free speech--but forgets that another important Constitutional right is freedom of religion. Sadly, Hollywood's amazing power to affect the world could make such a positive impact on real world issues, so it is quite a shame how some Hollywood moguls and celebrities manipulate and control people, which can lead to their destruction. Sadly, Hollywood even goes as far to change historical fact, adulterating history into whatever mold it sees fit for its purposes. (No movies will be named here, but think of movies you have seen that depart from historical reality.)

Morally, Hollywood affects society like no other force. Hollywood films glorify violence and sex, disregarding and insulting values of all traditional societies and teaching their young to stray. Hollywood blurs the line between good and evil, turning the definitions of “good guy” and “bad guy” into an ever-evolving and confusing equation. The definition of “violence” nowadays is nothing but controversial. War is considered “violent” and “wrong” and “evil,” yet video games that include humans shooting and killing other humans are a multimillion dollar industry. The entertainment industry involves communications tainted with subliminal messages, corrupting children and adults alike, tempting us to willfully wish for destructive lives. People are encouraged to be preoccupied with everything but what is reality. The challenge now is to learn to filter and distinguish between what is illusory or corrupt and what is truthful or proper. How this can be accomplished breaks Hollywood rules, as it would have to involve the voluntary censorship of media.

Hollywood society often seems full of illusions and deceit, because truth is a life too scary to live for many people. Consequently, Hollywood has turned American society into a bunch of fools chasing media illusions and being controlled by the minds that invented these images, these convoluted sources of communication. Hollywood also blurs the line between what is reality and illusion, stopping us from thinking about the consequences of certain actions.

Entertainment, per se, is not inherently evil. It is an amoral tool that can be a useful medium for instruction or beauty. But increasingly, distressingly, it is used for less noble purposes that have demonstrably and immeasurably harmed society. Unfortunately, documentaries rarely become blockbusters or spin off magazine covers and tabloid news. Truth doesn't have much of a market and, sadly, seems not to be good business

The symbol of Hollywood, the comedy/tragedy masks, originates in Greek theater. The Greeks saw talent in athletics, academics, oratory and drama as evidence of being touched by the gods. The legacy of this custom remains today, so where we place looks first, then money, and then talent on a pedestal, not character. Hence, the newspapers are filled with stories of pedophiles, murderers, rapists, and adulterers all receiving popular support and impassioned defense...because they are Hollywood people: moguls, directors, actors, scriptwriters.