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Art Doesn’t Imitate Life, Art Is Life

So the Oscars happened and there’s been all kinds of brouhaha about the host and various awards.  The silliest has got to be about Anne Hathaway and her rehearsed acceptance speech.  What a lot of sound and fury signifying absolutely nothing.

Winning doesn't mean they like you.

Winning doesn’t mean they like you.

But there was something Anne Hathaway said in her acceptance speech that has been bouncing around in my mind all week.  It was kind of off-hand but was an interesting notion nonetheless.  Here’s what she said:

Here’s hoping that someday in the not too distant future the misfortunes of Fantine will only be found in stories and never in real life.

She tossed out this nugget right at the end and I couldn’t help but think, if the particular misfortunes of this character ceased to exist in reality, why the hell would we tell stories about it?

Our stories, our pop culture and even our art are the reflection of who we are, who we think we are and who we’d like to be.  When certain aspects of our existence cease to be, they no longer show up in our creations.

Take “consumption” (aka Tuberculosis).  How many characters died of that a hundred or more years ago?  Try and name me something set in the modern world that utilizes that in its story.  If we do harken back to something in the past, it’s because it has some relevance to what we are going through now.  And when we look to the future, it’s to shed light on all the possibilities that we may (or may not) like to see.

Relatability is a huge part of storytelling.  It’s how we connect to the characters and their drama or conflict.  If someone is going through something that we can neither understand nor empathize with (or even be curious about) then there’s nothing compelling us to tell or experience that story.

Perhaps this is what explains the endurance of some things and the complete disappearance of others.  There are paintings, music, stories and the like that were enormous hits in their day, but now they have been relegated to the dustbins of history, while other things, either shunned or overlooked, are now held up as classics and some of the best things ever produced.

The Oscars have become a record of both in the world of film.  Winning “best” anything says nothing about your longevity or posterity.  You can be The Godfather (one or two) or you can be The Greatest Show on Earth.  Only time will tell.

Sometimes I have to laugh at the random things that get caught in the net of my mind.  Oh well.

And Anne, they may hate you now but don’t let that get to you.  Take a tip from fellow winner Jennifer Lawrence.  The less you seem to care, the more they do.




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