Cut adrift in a sea of pointless entertainments

“The myth-maker points to the past but speaks in the voice of future history; it is the collective voice of our ancestors, speaking through us, giving us a sense of continuity and destiny; it makes connections between those who have preceeded us, and those who will follow us. Absent those myths, we are cut adrift in a sea of pointless entertainments intended primarily to divert us from our own lives.

It is not the task or responsibility of television to teach your children, or babysit them, or take the place of conversation, or reinforce societal mores, or make you feel good about your neighborhood or your job or your prejudices or your sexual orientation or your odds for hair restoration.

When television took center stage in the world of collective and mass story storytelling, it took on the responsibilities of providing new myths, fictions that point the way toward tomorrow, that remind us that there will be a tomorrow, a better one or a poorer one depending on what we do right now, and that we can’t ever afford to lose sight of that. In short…to rekindle in hearts of millions a sense of wonder, about the world, the future and our place in that future.”

– J. Michael Straczynski, Approaching Babylon, (a 1995 essay about why he created Babylon 5)

2 Responses to Cut adrift in a sea of pointless entertainments

  1. I would venture that most people these days are indeed adrift in a sea of pointless entertainment. I am not sure however that this is a step back, as in the past the choice of myths you could access was made by the circumstance of birth. Today, as you chew your way through pointless entertainment, you may suddenly find a myth that changes your life.

  2. Yes – and Babylon 5, which Straczynski was making when he wrote this, was such a myth for me. To me it’s the standard of something that is hard to describe, but it feels like being in touch with something that is both real and abstract at the same time. When I stumble across something like that I realize that often what seems like good art is made by people who are merely good at hiding that they never found this place, or at least never found a way to channel it.

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