What Kind of Stories Do We Need?

What stories do we need to face the challenges that the Lavender Revolution and OWS represent?

How do we put restore a sense of humanism and compassion?

In our ADD world, can films and books and movies and transmedia restore a sense of the contemplative? I certainly hope my work can inspire engagement and change, not just sound and fury signifying nothing.

Are the stories that I want to tell the ones that I and the world need or passing, pleasurable but ultimately irrelevant fancies? There are no value judgments here. For some the answer will be pure entertainment. Others will produce polemic. Others will engage the profound questions of our time.

Early in her career, Toni Morrison talked about writing the books that she needed to read. Not just wanted to read, but needed. As I solidify my own body of work, I am persuaded that this is the moment when artists are needed more than ever. The failure of political discourse means that people can, should and must turn to art to understand what’s going on. And we artists must take the lead and not simply react.

The reactive has its place. After all, how different are the Davis pepper spray incident inspired photographs different than the art made in celebration of Act Up, decades ago? Or from the long tradition of political protest art? Problem. These artistic responses have become rituals no different than the candles and photographs that serve as makeshift memorials on our sidewalks. These rituals are married to the careerist/consumerist path that many artists embraced first for their educations then for their survival.

This moment demands something different, something more exacting, something more noble, something more compelling.

It’s not about a distribution platform, marketing scheme or networking. It’s not completely dependent on craft. We have to go to the hard place. The well lit back alleys that Joan Didion described. The alleys where we have assignations with our true selves in all our beauty, our frailties and corruption.

I hope I am up for it. I hope we find a way.

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About liftingasweclimb

Mildred Lewis writes and directs for theater, television, film and the web. She's also a full time professor, Christian, activist and troublemaker with a passion to save as much of the world as she can.
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