Ever since I was a boy, I have loved a good story. My father would tell me stories. My friends would tell me stories. I would read stories in books. I would make up my own stories too. Some of these stories made no sense at all. That was okay. There was no wrong way to tell a story. The important thing, is that we were telling them.
Humans have always told stories. The story of humanity's progress depends on the quality and quantity of the stories we share. People would share stories of hunting and cooking and family and building. They would tell stories of places they imagined going, cities they imagined building, families they imagined starting, and then they would go and do these things.
Today we have lost the light of the story. The story has been snuffed out. It has been oppressed. Yes stories exist today. But they are not good stories. They are not even bad stories. They are empty stories.
This is because there is a deep, dark force telling us not a story, but a lie. A lie that all stories are the same. That there is only one kind of story. This evil is not Hollywood, it is oppressing Hollywood. People that work in film love stories, they just think that they are only allowed to tell the same story over and over. In film school they literally tell people that there only a set number of stories. That's it. And that's all there will ever be. That is a lie.
This idea is loosely associated with Joseph Campbell. Campbell is a brilliant author that did extensive research on stories through history and in books such as "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" shared his research on comparative mythology and the importance of the story of "The Hero's Journey". Campbell does not think there are only a few kinds of stories. Not at all. First, he deliberately studied one kind of story: mythology. Also, he discovered there was a staggeringly rich and complex world of stories there!
This idea has been perverted to mean that a "proper" story has a consistent "structure". People even pay lots of money to go to schools to study and share examples of countless stories that all have this same sacred structure. The point is not to tell a good story. The point is to make something that follows the structure as closely as possible. They write and they practice, trying their best to produce not good stories, but conforming stories. Many fail.
The structure is simple. It is first to have a main character that exists. This is the first act. Then something happens to this character. The second act begins. Finally, something else happens that will cause the story to come to an end, leaving the main character changed. That is it. That is every story. Of course it was only a matter of time until we had computers writing these stories. They were practically programs to begin with.
The only way to share a story in Hollywood is a screenplay. The screenplay does not represent how people actually talk and act. It assumes that one person says something. And then patiently waits for the other person to say something. That is not how conversations work, especially in groups. Screenplays also do not allow writers to add their own visions of music or cinematography or certain people to use. That is rude. That is all for the guild to decide.
Many writers struggle to be accepted by Hollywood. F Scott Fitzgerald, one of America's greatest authors, famously failed to write a single successful script despite trying for years. Storytellers struggle to write stories that conform to this rigid structure. Surely it is difficult with all the rich beauty and tragedy in the world and people's lives to write something as devoid of originality and creativity as a Hollywood brand story. I don't see how anyone could forget their own real life and real relationships and real history enough to write a conforming story. It must be very difficult.
We are stuck with this because of the Guilds. Hollywood acts as a Guild of Stories. They have taken control of one of mankind's greatest tools and gifts and sucked the life out of it. They have imprisoned our minds and our tongues. They have infected stories with politics and produce nothing but more and more banality and mediocrity.
There are organizations in Hollywood that literally call themselves guilds. This is insane! Do they not know the story? The true story of the medieval guilds? These were not good things! These were horrible things that systematically oppressed people and creativity and work and made every product low quality and high cost. Sound familiar? There has never been a force more oppressive to innovation than a guild. The renaissance and industrial revolution happened because the guilds fell!
This is actually an incredibly important part of history. It really changed the world. And there were all sorts of amazing characters and stories of drama and humor and transformation associated with the guilds. But are there any movies about the medieval guilds at all? Any popular books even? No. Isn't that odd? Can you imagine if there were no movies about World War II? That was a huge deal. It changed the world. People tell endless stories about WW2 and people keep wanting to hear these stories. But the story of the guilds? Nope. Never happened.
The guilds fell for a while, but they are back. They control "talent". It is illegal to make a film, to tell a story, without following the rules and customs of these guilds. And these rules make it impossible to tell a good story. Thanks to these guilds the people that are the most creative and work the hardest are the most oppressed and the worst paid. And they are deliberately complicated. Every year the guilds fight. They promise reform and that they will pass new and better rules and they will renegotiate the old. This does nothing. It is all a huge distraction.
They oppress their own members. One could fill many books with examples but here is one chosen at random: Guild Actors are not allowed to appear on YouTube. Isn't that insane? Is that good for actors? Is that good for YouTube? Is that good for storytelling? Does that make anyone money? No! It only serves the power of the guild.
The guilds need to not exist. We need to stop feeding them, stop obeying them, stop paying attention to them. They hate stories. They hate actors. They hate writers. They hate innovation. They hate moviegoers. They only love control. They only love oppression.
The last generation of guilds were killed by words, stories. Adam Smith and Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote books criticizing the guilds and telling stories about what the world could be like if we got rid of them. People heard these stories and they listened. Despite the money they had given to politically powerful merchants, the guilds could not withstand the popular revolt against them and they finally died, leading to centuries of innovation and economic growth.
We must do the same. We must expose the tyranny of these guilds with words and speech and stories. We must find ways to tell stories without them and teach people what the world would be like once they are gone. It would be beautiful.
This happened before. Howard Hughes was an innovative storyteller. He realized that breasts were beautiful when nobody else was willing to admit it. Breasts were oppressed. And he helped liberate them. His movies were not pornographic. Howard loved women. He helped launch the acting careers of countless women. Yes he had personal flaws, but he did change the film industry for the better.
Howard realized that all actors were oppressed. They were treated as expendable employees. Back then actors were on salary and they would just constantly act for a studio and only that studio. Howard created a new model. Why not make the best movie he could with the best people he could? He freed a lot of people from this system. But he accidentally created a new monster in the process: the guilds.
Howard had constant issues with censorship: with the MPAA, which exists to this day. They not only refused to let him show women's sensuality, they refused to let him tell the stories he wanted to tell. In the original Scarface the gangster in a sense wins. It is a complicated ending, not black and white. It is a great story with a great ending that was also relatively historically accurate. But the MPAA (then the PCA) refused to let him release it. They demanded that the gangster die, that the rule of law kill him. They also demanded the title be changed to call Scarface the "Shame of The Nation" as well as a message appear at the beginning of the film condemning gangsters.
Howard protested. That is not what happened! Scarface is based on Al Capone, who was not killed in an epic gunfight with police. He went to prison on vague charges of tax evasion and died years later from a stroke. But the MPAA did not care. To them movies were not art or stories, they were propaganda.
The story is an important technology. And it is being oppressed by the guilds and censors of Hollywood. I hope for a future where storytellers, especially more unique and innovative storytellers, can flourish. We have enough Netflix and Michael Bay. How about a Jodorowsky?