THE HERO'S JOURNEY
In the last three months I've had to take a break from the world I've created, and all the mini-worlds I've started, and all the characters that are, in some ways, like family. I've... and I say this with a mixture of excitement and severe reservations... COLLABORATED. Brought in by a close friend to work on a beautiful fledgling TV show that, should it not somehow get a green light, I will forever be immensely proud of. Not just because of the story, but because I did not know if I could share. A story is a living, breathing thing (truly), and I didn't know if having two parents (or sometimes three or four or five) fighting over it would provide a healthy environment.
The story is more resilient.
And I LEARNED a lot. About structure. About silence. About merciless cutting of lines of dialogue that you are sure are the most poetic, most genius thing you've ever written... but do NOT service the story. And I spent many hours, usually after the writing was done and the scotch or vodka was being poured, discussing The Hero's Journey.
Yes, I have finally gotten to the crux of this particular post.
The Hero's Journey, the path that has been outlined in various forms by many of the most intellectual storytellers as an archetypal way of getting your story across. A way to take a common, flawed human and give them a crisis, thus transforming them into something they were meant to be.
The basis of every show.
We tell stories about heroes. About people who rise above their circumstances to become something... not better. Just more true. And this, THIS... This is why we watch TV. Or read books. Or any various avenues of escapism.
The Hero's Journey. And it's dying.
I was sitting at a pool in Vegas (couple of friends' bachelor party), and a writer friend of mine (he's much more articulate) was expounding on Capitalism. This, mind you, was around noon and we happened to be sober. He trotted some ideas past me that, if not immediately taking root, resonated with suspicions I did not know I held. "We've come to love money so much that we don't know what else to worship. Do something well? Where is the money? Have free time? Where do I spend my money? Want to learn..."
He goes on, and every point hits home. We have come so far under the influence of capitalism that we don't know how else to channel our energies. And it was his final remark that really got me. "There is no noble quest to go on. At least, not one shrouded in the unknown. Every pursuit, however noble, is under the guise of the almighty dollar."
True. Really. When did we last rally around something that didn't have a place to make donations?
We tune into shows because we hunger for that lost part of ourselves. We desperately want to be Jon Snow fighting for something bigger than himself. We want to be Frodo and Sam making a desperate journey into certain death to rid the world of evil. So we escape for small little moments, not knowing why our chests puff out a little more, or we raise our chins a little higher.
Okay. J.D. Take a step back.
It's not so dire as all of this. But there is a kernel of truth here. And maybe that means examining the hero's journey not from a story standpoint. But for ourselves. Maybe we are the humble, average little people that begin every story. And we know adventure awaits us outside of the shire. And we also know what happens to those who are consumed by greed.
We are in charge of our own stories. And the world around us has made us soft, and pliant, and filled with comforts. And the world outside is cold and filled with terrors. Yes, we are reluctant. But then again, every hero is.