Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Creative Clock

You've heard of the biological clock? That is, the metaphor for a woman's growing desire to have a child. The older she gets the louder the "ticking" of this clock becomes. She begins to be less superficial in her dating life, placing a higher priority on long-term values in a mate. She withdraws from the party scene, seeking more trusted avenues—such as referrals from close friends. She sheds her fears and procrastination in light of this worthy goal.

I'm not a woman, so I can't say how accurate this is. Nor can I say it applies the same to everyone who experiences it. I am, however, an artist, and there is most certainly a "creative clock" for the conception and birth of a brain child.

There is a point in an artist's life, when the idle play loses its fulfillment. A point when the consumption of one's favorite media gives way to the production of one's own original content. Like the single woman—afraid of becoming an "old maid"—an artist must find her partner. Only through the support of someone adept at the promotion of art can the artist truly conceive.

It is enough for many to create a beautiful world of fantastical stories—even stories with great worth. But many never go beyond this point. For some it is the fear of failure, for others it is the fear of criticism. The first group does not believe in their own artistic vision, the second believes in it too much. Both fear the bursting of their bubble—not believing it can be made of steel.

The spreading of these stories is bounded by a truth of reality. There are logistics to consider, voices to be heard, value to be added, offenses to be removed, misunderstandings to be cleared up. Art that possesses true value will withstand the tempering process of public and professional criticism—and it will be improved and strengthened by it.

So with the clock counting down, can you dare to believe your child will be strong? Can you find the right partner to ensure it is so? And most importantly, will you shake off procrastination and fear in order to make that greatest of commitments?

Your baby's counting on you!
FEATURED MEDIA: Juno - A teenage girl gets pregnant and decides to give the baby up for adoption. Sometimes destiny can bestow a brainchild in the same way, however, more in line with the subject of this post is the couple who ends up adopting the baby. The woman has certainly arrived at what she feels is "the time" for a child, much to the distress of her husband.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

One Step Beyond

Everything has a story. That knick-knack you've had on your mantle or your desk for innumerable years isn't just a meaningless piece of junk. That clutter of odds-and-ends on your workbench wasn't placed there en masse. No, it accumulated for as many reasons as there are individual items.

In written stories, we imagine the world that surrounds the characters. The odds-and-ends that clutter this imagined space come out of the clutter of our lives. Unless something is specifically described, it comes from the reader and not the author.

In visual media—with few exceptions—even meaningless knick-knacks and piles of junk have to be presented in solid form merely to create the illusion of a real world. By necessity, this must come from the creators. There is no room for imagining a scene which is pre-visualized.

Where there is room for the imagination of the audience is in the meaning of things pre-visualized. This process, however, must be kick-started. Just because a scene is dressed with piles of junk doesn't mean it will be imagined to be anything more. A clue must be given as to what else it might mean—its depth must be alluded to.

But let's back up for a second. Set dressing is an art in-and-of itself. Cobbling together an arrangement which emulates a "lived in" space requires a sophisticated knowledge of the artifacts belonging to that space and time. It also requires an understanding of the character(s) who lived in that space. A good set dresser understands that his art is an extension of the story. A great set dresser, however, understands that his art tells the story.

There must be a cohesion between the elements of a set, but this does not mean there must be similarities. In any visual media which places limited value on such background elements, it is standard practice to dress to stereotype and to use elements that are strictly contemporary to the period (especially if the "period" is now). However, you have objects in your house and in your closet that are neither indicative of your current philosophy or the current culture. This is depth.

It is important to creating solid stories that all parties concerned with creation grasp the importance of mastering depth.

The necessary depth varies by how many elements it must support to adequately tell the story. The greater the number of story elements being juggled, the deeper the root system that is needed to support it. A good rule of thumb is that the creators understand every element to at least one step beyond anything they would ever need to (or want to) tell.

Why does Hugo Reyes go by the nickname "Hurley"? I don't know, but Damon Lindelof probably does.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - One the clearest examples of piles of junk telling a story that I could think of: The drug-obsessed duo of journalist, Raoul Duke and his lawyer, Dr. Gonzo, go to Vegas to cover a race. However, the real story is told through the destruction of everything the two touch. In an infamous scene, Duke awakens in a flooded hotel suite with a rubber dinosaur tail tied to his rear and a microphone taped to his face—having no idea what happened.
The Return of the King - Depth knows no limits. This visual retelling of Tolkien's classic tale certainly goes one step beyond in every area. Reportedly, WETA Workshops designed armor with runes inscribed on the inside, while John Noble, who played Denethor, Steward of Gondor, wore a heavy chain mail beneath his fur cloak. Each race of Middle Earth is decorated with its own themes, and the remains of ancient statues adorn the countryside.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Unnecessary Censorship"

My wife shared this clip with me from Jimmy Kimmel Live. I don't watch the show, but I know he's as big a fan of LOST as I am, and has covered much of the finale according to his style. This clip is from a segment called "Unnecessary Censorship," in which he takes clips from TV shows and bleeps perfectly innocent words in otherwise innocent sentences to create vulgar—and hilarious—results.

The interesting thing about this with respect to media—I can't let you off without a media lesson—is that we censor media in order to make it more modest. And while young children certainly would not have the background to understand what the bleeps mean, virtually anyone else would.

This includes children as young as elementary school age, assuming they're attending school or otherwise around kids of their age or older. Honestly, our kids are exposed to enough profanity for them to understand the bleeps. If that is true, then they are also able to fill in the blanks.

Jimmy Kimmel effectively points out the pointlessness of such censorship. In reality, the only people who benefit from such censorship do not watch media that requires it. The only thing bleeping does is make the message less clear, and the sentence more vulgar.

Let's not get carried away!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Violence: A Meditation

Does violence in the media lead to violence in real life?

This is a profound question, and its answer is vitally important to choosing the correct path for future media creations. It is unlikely that I could definitively answer the question here, nor am I attempting to do so. The purpose of this post is merely to examine the question.

For the sake of this subject, it is important to point out that there are two classes of media possibly at fault. The first is fictional media—stories of various types largely conjured by the media creator from a patchwork of imagined ideas, personal experiences, true stories, and other fictional stories founded on often unknown origins.

The other is non-fictional media of almost any form, which (if it is truly non-fiction) is based solely upon facts. These facts can range from live footage of an event to interviews with eyewitnesses, and from documentation of evidence to examination of documents or other information media which is relevant. The results of such a basis form a coherent presentation as a documentary film, journalistic story, or truthful dramatization.

In the context of this question, both types of media are generally of the visual kind, such as TV news programs, TV series, films (both entertaining and informative), and video games (typically classified as fiction).

So then, what do I mean by "violence"? Wiktionary defines the word as an: "Action intended to cause destruction, pain, or suffering."

First, I will set aside the argument that (according to this definition) fiction cannot be violent. One could argue that the actions which are portrayed in media are not in reality intended to cause harm (i.e.: to the other actors or stunt people). However, this argument is largely a semantic one, because it is not the action itself which is in question but the image of the action. This image has the same effect regardless of its media classification.

But what exactly is that effect?

There are three general effects violent media could have on society. It could cause an increase in the instances and degree of violence, which is most commonly asserted. It could have no effect whatsoever, being regarded as separate from life entirely. It could also cause a decrease in the instances and degree of violence, which is not a common argument, but still one that has merit.

I will start with the third. Media that portrays violence in a negative light may educate or propagate its audience into avoiding violent means. Media which exaggerates the negative consequences of violent activities may well have the effect of creating paranoia—even if propaganda itself is wrong. Far better is media which fairly and accurately portrays the truth about violence, which educates the audience about consequences they might not have realized—creating a healthy fear of acting with violence.

It is possible that any correlation between instances of violence in the media and instances of violence in society is a faulty one. Here we have the classic "chicken or egg" conundrum: does more violent media cause a more violent populace, or does a more violent populace demand more violent media? It is fair to consider the idea that widespread economic hardships (whatever the cause) make people more desperate, and that when people are more desperate they commit more crimes and are more violent. Therefore, it is possible that an increase in violent media might be more of a response by the media industry to violent society, than the other way around.

Finally, violent media may also directly or indirectly contribute to an increase in violence in society. In an effort to be more edgy, the media industry may take the lead in portraying violence out of proportion to violence in real life. The variety and prevalence of violent acts may educate or propagate the audience into undertaking violent means. It may inform them of ways to avoid consequences (especially legal ones), and thereby embolden them. It may glorify violence as an acceptable means to an end.

Certainly, facts support the conclusion that there are more instances of murder in a year's worth of media, than in a year's worth of life—especially to one individual. This, of course, depends on the individual's specific diet of media, and the individual's specific tolerance for its content. To make the assumption that a given person is under the influence of violent media is to say that the person is incapable of discerning right from wrong—or in choosing between them. Either that, or it is assumed that the given person is entirely without exposure to any concept of right, whereby being denied the choice.

Both of these assumptions are erroneous. Certainly, there are exceptions—persons with mental illness, who are psychologically incapable of moral judgement, and who may well have gotten that way through birth defect or early abuse. While these are much over-used in fictional media and much over-examined in non-fictional media, blessedly they remain rare. On the other hand, individuals who are otherwise well-adjusted cannot go through life completely devoid of any concept of right.

Media alone can only stand out of the way while a person decides on a violent action—it does not create a desire for violence that is not there to begin with. However, the question remains: "Does violence in the media lead to violence in real life?" Is it a catalyst in allowing violence to escape one's heart? Is it a mere reflection of society? Or is it a tool to be used to discourage violence by airing its repulsiveness and natural consequences?
FEATURED MEDIA: The Sopranos - Unapologetic in its portrayal of mob violence (among other things), this show largely succeeds at painting a picture of the distastefulness of the Mafia world without going to great lengths to disparage it. Its account seems fair, yet I wouldn't want to do it in real life.

Monday, June 21, 2010

LOST Again

Anyone who knows me personally, or has been following this blog, knows I am an überfan of LOST. I have begun re-watching the series, again. It has been a couple years since I last watched Season 1, and despite the number of times I've watched each season (at least 5 times each), I am still seeing it anew.

This time, I am noticing things about myself that I never noticed before.

What I didn't recall about the beginning was the story of the US Marshall. I mean, I knew it happened, but I attached little importance to it. Like many, I was used to violence and death in fictional media—and the character was not particularly likable.

Perhaps I was "desensitized" to the violence, a term usually used to imply that violent media makes violent life easier to stomach. I firmly believe, however, that most mature people are capable of feeling nothing about fictional violence, while maintaining a humanitarian horror for real violence.

Perhaps I am too pragmatically minded, seeing realistic on-screen gore as a quality expression of someone's artistic craft. This is closer to the truth. Without time to get acquainted with the characters, it is difficult to see them as anything but actors.

However, the US Marshall was pointedly not a likable character. No further development of him made him any more complex or likable. Therefore, I found myself siding with Sawyer—someone had to put the Marshall out of his misery. What's the big deal, why all the effort on Jack's part to keep him alive?

This time, I was intimately familiar with the characters. I cared about everyone involved (except perhaps the Marshall). I knew for instance, that Sawyer had just shot a man in cold blood not more than two days prior to shooting the Marshall. I knew that Kate had tried to save her mother from an abusive relationship. I knew that Jack had trouble letting go of his patients.

This time, I was surprised at how dark the whole tangle of events was. The deeper spiritual struggle of the characters was not apparent to me without the context of the full arc of each character, and the sadness that came with the notable deaths of Charlie, Juliet, Sun & Jin, and Jack.

To know that the tangle of characters was already deeply rooted from the very beginning is further proof of the genius of this series.
FEATURED MEDIA: Lost - The Complete First Season

Not Succeeding

This past weekend my wife and I had the opportunity to do a photo shoot in a newly finished custom home—one which was being featured in a Parade of Homes. This opportunity would have been a free project, wherein the builder got photos for his website and/or other circulars, and my wife got experience and raw shots for her portfolio.

I say "would have" because it didn't pan out. As the unofficial business mind behind her new artistic venture, I had to juggle several different schedules. I had to account for drive time, avoid the Parade crowd, find a time when the builder could be there, remember Father's Day, and do it within the only three days my wife is available this month. I set it for Saturday morning, and even left an opening to get to a local car show later that day.

The one person whom I forgot to inform turned out to be the problem. I assumed my mom would be on hand to watch my son. As it turns out, she actually had a business meeting. Usually, I can find a way around any obstacle in scheduling, but it was too short-notice.

Having invested myself emotionally into making this happen for her, it wasn't easy for me to let it go. Nobody likes failure, especially when the failure is due to a mishap like a schedule conflict.

But the point here is not that I failed to make it happen, but that I stuck my neck out in the first place. I put myself in a position where it might have failed, and I handled the failure, I think, professionally.

Succeeding comes from doing what is uncomfortable, facing fears, and perhaps asking for something you don't feel you deserve from someone who has no reason to give it to you. You might fail as the result of a "no," or you might fail as the result of mismanaging the schedule, but as long as you keep pushing your comfort zone, you will make headway.
FEATURED MEDIA: Run, Fatboy, Run - Having given into his fear of commitment five years prior, Dennis Doyle seeks to win back the woman he left at the altar by competing in a 26 mile marathon against her new boyfriend (among others). Being desperately out of shape, his only realistic goal is just to finish the race. He may not win the race, but perhaps there is redemption in the attempt.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Man in Bali

Those of us who struggle to create something new are well acquainted with fear of competition. Sometimes we wonder what the point of even trying is, considering someone else might beat us to it. These fears, however, are largely unfounded.

We live in a global society, that much is true, but despite vast resources for global communication, there are still limitations. Fear itself, is perhaps the strongest limiter (and needlessly so). Our imagination conjures risks which, however probable, are not certain to exist at all.

My lizard brain is fond of telling me that other people are just like me, and to that end it follows (incorrectly) that any great feat I attempt is already being done. This is just not the case, or there would be many more successful people than there are in reality.

And even if the exact copy of my dream of greatness exists in reality, and he does overcome his fears as I hope to do, probability says that he would likely live on the other side of the world.

Perhaps there is a man in Bali, whose dream is to make a significant contribution to media in there. It may be that he has even devised the same approach as I now am developing.

So what? There are significant barriers of culture, language, and distance between him and me. Should our circles of influence ever meet, we would mutually benefit from a partnership, rather than win-lose competition.

My point is that no one is exactly like you and even if someone were there's plenty of room at the top. Whatever you struggle with, your competition has a similar weakness. To be a success with whatever you choose to do and however high you choose to climb, it is of much greater importance that you master yourself than that you best anyone else.

You are more likely to find allies than enemies when you are in the right frame of mind.
FEATURED MEDIA: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - The classic book from Stephen Covey, which outlines everything a person seeking success needs to know about mastering self. A dense book, but a must read.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

That 2:30 Feeling

The media loves to paint pictures of the status quo. They love to tell you what's normal, including the pain, the drudgery, and the fatigue. These are facts of life, they say. No one likes working for someone else, but "ya gotta do what ya gotta do." Sure you'd love to eat healthy, but fast food is cheap and, well, fast.

Their partners in crime, consumer marketing, are then on hand to deliver solutions to the "problems." Have pain? Take pills. Don't like lots of pills? Take fewer pills, but always take them every day! In a rut? Lease a car! Tired? Got that 2:30 feeling? Drink caffeine. Hate the crash? Drink something worse.

The fact that so many of us can sympathize with the idea of a "2:30 feeling," ought to be a sign that something is very wrong. It is not normal to be tired at 2:30 in the afternoon.

As a culture, we have some seriously messed up habits. Some are for things we do, and others are for things we avoid. Mostly, however, an open minded and thorough investigation would reveal the following: We don't get enough well-rounded exercise. We eat, well, we eat toxins. We consume so many preservatives alone that our bodies hold up better than the casket (that might be an exaggeration, but you get the picture).

When we do stress our bodies, it is rarely in well-rounded and productive ways. We overexert at a moment's notice, never giving forethought to preparation. And I'd hazard a guess that many people would consider that exercise—I know I'm guilty.

If that isn't enough, the rest of our problems are directly self-inflicted through our lifestyles—and I'm not talking about alternative lifestyles. I mean even the most "straight" people (in whatever way), will stay up way too late. They skip breakfast, race through traffic, then stress out about whether or not the boss is going to say anything.

No wonder you're dead tired by 2:30!

Discipline and time-management skills are as important to fitness as good exercise and a balanced diet. Consuming excito-toxins, such as those found in conventional energy drinks is no more a solution to the real problem than is having a friend punch you in on time and hoping you don't get caught.
FEATURED PRODUCT: MonaVie Emv - The world's first all-natural energy drink. It gives up to 5 hours of energy with no jitters and no crash—the way food is supposed to work. It's a health drink that gives you energy.
FEATURED MEDIA: Fight Club - While quite dark and overdone, this movie is nonetheless a poignant portrayal of corporate frustration and a rage against consumerism. It serves as a platform for discussion by expressing violence usually boiling just below the surface of a passive-aggressive demeanor.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hobbies: Creation is a Gift

Everyone has a hobby, but most of us never are able to devote enough time to it because we have to make a living. Mostly, perhaps, this hobby is something to blow off steam and forget the trials of your day-job. Maybe it would simply evaporate if you were suddenly endowed with a fortune.

Realistically though, I doubt it. It seems to me that what we spend our precious spare time on is, by proxy, also precious to us. Does it not follow that we would like to make money while doing our hobby—and lose the job?

Make certain you read that correctly. I said, "make money while doing your hobby." This is a distinct thing from making money by doing your hobby. The distinction lies in the independence of your hobby, and in your control over it. To make money by your hobby is to perform your skill for another person who commissions you. To make money while doing your hobby is to attract people who are interested in what you have created.

The first is dependent upon another person's permission, regardless of the freedom that person allows you. The second is dependent only on your own discovery of a good idea, and your personal willingness to execute the necessary performance.

The first is a trade—your skills for money—and therefore a zero balance. The second is a gift—you create because it fulfills you, then those who appreciate your art support you by paying you compliments, buying the souvenir, and referring you to others—and therefore goes way beyond the initial creation.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Good Intentions

Intentions are a very important part of human behavior. Almost any action can be judged as good or evil based upon our true intentions. Unfortunately, many of us only think we have good intentions, when we are actually self-deceived.

A recent incident is a good example of this. Without naming names, two people I know had an experience with this. They were planning to do a particular task, for which they would be paid $200—$100 to each man. The first man was happy to have a duo, but the second man suggested adding a third person (his son), to which the first agreed that it would improve matters. However, he said, the sum they were to be paid was too small to split three ways, and considering the distance they had to go, it was not worth adding a third man. The second man agreed to this reasoning.

It seemed it was settled that a third man would not be employed. However, the second man, went ahead and invited his son anyway. When the first man questioned this, the second replied that he would share his half with the third man (they would each get $50, while the first man would get the originally agreed upon $100). Seeing as it was the second man's son, it made sense that he was trying to help his son out financially—even a little.

The task was done, and done well. The second man accepted the payment, and gave the first man his share—$70... oops, wait. The second man had gone ahead and split the money three ways after all. Had the first man agreed to the second man's original assertion, there would have been no problem. Had the second man been more assertive about his desire to cut his son in on the money, there also would have been no problem.

The second man's actions of helping his son were good, but his intentions to pull a "fast one" were bad. This could have been miscommunication if it were an isolated incident, but this person has a history of similar stunts. He didn't personally get anything out of the deal (he lost $30), except the satisfaction of being a smooth-operator.

If a good action is to be supported by good intentions, then it must be transparent. What is the point of tricking someone into helping you help someone else. That just ruins the whole point of giving.
FEATURED MEDIA: Leadership and Self-Deception - Told as a fictional story, this book explores the intentions of people's hearts and how self-deception can ruin a business, a marriage, a life.

Monday, June 7, 2010

LOST: The Unanswered Questions—Revisited

It has been a little over two weeks since the series finale of LOST—the show that redefined television for me. As I was working on my understanding of Truth in Fiction, I was pleasantly surprised by some developments in Season 3 which began to sync up with my theories. From there, the show took the reins of my imagination, drawing me into deeper analysis than I thought possible (or necessary) at the time.

Truth in Fiction demands depth of story and depth of characters. It must be able to challenge the audience through repeated tellings. It must stand up to close scrutiny. It must connect the details to significance. The show does this beautifully, and continues to do so as fans begin to re-watch the series from beginning to end in light of "The End."

To many, myself included, the ending was a bit disappointing because it did not answer many questions. However, the interesting lesson here about Truth in Fiction is that discussion and imagination are paramount to a true liberal education. If LOST had answered many of the unanswered questions, it would have—for the first time—destroyed the integrity of what it does best.

My final verdict is that any disappointment felt at the end of LOST is caused by a misunderstanding of the show's purpose. We have been trained by mainstream media to allow the programming to passively inform us. We are not used to television challenging us to answer the questions ourselves.

Therefore, I encourage you to revisit the unanswered questions post and give me your own thoughts on the questions, or ask ones I didn't cover. Let's start a dialog. That is the most important thing.
FEATURED MEDIA: Preorder the final season!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cognitive Surplus and the Appreciators

This month's Wired Magazine has an article which is extremely relevant to our cause. Wired contributing editor, Daniel Pink, author of Drive, goes head to head with Clay Shirky, author of Cognitive Surplus, about the themes common between their respective works. Basically, Drive points out that traditional "carrot or stick" methods of reward and punishment are not the only motivators—in fact, they're not even the best.

Pink and Shirky agree that people are more motivated by internal drives, in a word their "interests." This is not limited to monetary gains, as a superficial capitalistic definition would suggest, but includes rewards that are priceless. It is the joy of the journey, as it were, that motivates much "extracurricular" activities such as the writing of fan fiction and the editing of Wikipedia. Indeed, the increasing number of Wikis (wikia.com) devoted to fan-created content about any number of stories and products should serve as an indication that fan fiction and open-source encyclopedias are merging already.

Shirky's book argues that, while his generation spent much of its free time sitting in front of the television, consuming time, many members of the younger generations are using their spare time online to create things—rather than to just waste time. This is what he calls "cognitive surplus"—free thought that is not being put to use by a job, but is nonetheless being put to use for productive, rather than consumptive means.

This fits with what FITmedia is intending to do. Though they rail against television media in its current form, it is important to remember that we seek to change the purpose of the medium, thus fitting it to a more productive use. In order to do this, we must encourage and employ the cognitive surplus of fans of the medium.

This is the fourth (and most populated) lobe of the FITmedia model. Überfans make up a group I have off-and-on referred to as the Appreciators. I've spent a lot of time describing the other three, which likewise have names (Orchestrators, Promoters, and Developers), but have not had a platform to discuss the active role of the fans until now.

There is no better way to learn the truth about fiction, which is the very truth of human nature, I believe, than to go directly to the fans for help creating the stories they—not advertisers—want to see put into existence. The open-source community (in which I include wikipedia.org and wikia.com, among a throng of freeware programmers) creates because it is the right thing to do. They create because the world needs what they can give, and the world is a better place because of it.

When the world is a better place, opportunities flourish, freelance gigs abound, and new jobs are created. The new age we find ourselves in is one of giving before getting. If we improve ourselves, we'll improve the world. If we improve the world, everything will be just gravy.

Friday, June 4, 2010

May '10: The Month in Posts

This month saw the end of television history. LOST came to a close. And while I will spare you in this post from further mourning, I do hope these posts will spark your imagination about what is possible in media in the years ahead knowing that such an epic drew an earnest überfanbase. Enjoy.

A Story is a Cypher - May 11, 2010
Give your audience all the secrets of your story, but give it to them in code. Then treat the remainder of your tale as that code's key. The earlier you give this information, the more concise you have to be, and the more central the symbols you use are. (read more)
What If You Got Paid? - May 16, 2010
There was a time when people were self-sufficient. They worked only when there was work to be done. The rest of the time they spent with their families and friends. Now we have debt and other financial obligations. We have to work to meet these obligations. We do it begrudgingly because somewhere inside we know that most of these obligations could have been avoided with better information and planning. (read more)
Battles of Heart and Mind - May 30, 2010
Certainly, the veterans of physical warfare, remembered at Arlington National Cemetery and other places, are the most obvious heroes to memorialize. However, there are many more unsung heroes: those both of ages and battles past, and of present battles fought in everyday life. I'm talking about the battles of heart and mind. Many people live in the grip of ignorance and fear. Many more live with a knowledge base that keeps them afraid. To do anything of significance, fear must be overcome. (read more)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Faith and Fences

There is a difference between religion and faith. Religion is a set of rituals, stories, and artifacts. It is the science of remembering one's faith. Faith is a set of principles—irrevocable, inalienable laws of human conduct.

As such, faith is difficult to grasp by itself. Therefore, it manifests itself in religious practices. On the whole, religion does not exist only in a church, synagogue, or masque—nor does it require them as anchor points. In its most general definition, it does not even have to be a matter of theology, but perhaps one of ideology. Every tribe has its ideals.

The problem comes when religion is followed in lieu of any faith. Without faith, the rituals of religion are merely handicaps. The routines are just meaningless routines. The artifacts become mere trinkets. The stories, while still entertaining, lose their fire with repeated tellings.

Lack of faith leads to a scarcity mentality—the feeling that resources are finite and running out. Ironically, this mentality kills the courage which is required to make the bold moves necessary to grow resources into abundance. It is the role of free thinking media creators to liberate others' minds from such a mentality.

Sometimes, it is possible to change the system from within, but other times it is necessary to begin anew. Performers are leaders who rekindle the fire of dying religions—those which lack faith, and those which are tyrannically rigid. Creators are leaders who start a new fire where there is no fixed religion, or where there is so much schism that a new order is needed.

For our media to become useful to a free and democratic society, it must begin to focus its stories on the division between a true heart of faith and empty religious rituals. This need not be theistic, but it requires a belief in something, even if it's belief in one's own abilities.
FEATURED MEDIA: Rabbit-Proof Fence - When the "protector" of Australian aboriginal people places three young girls in a camp where he intends to "civilize" them with the religion of the whites, they escape. To find their way home, they follow (on faith) the 1500 mile long "rabbit-proof fence" which divides the continent.