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Only the Story Matters

by Alan Mehanna about a year ago in pop culture
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Fantastic Stories and Why We Need Them - Issue #2

Only the Story Matters
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

We now live in a world of political correctness, wokeness, ease of offense, virtue signaling and gaslighting... and this world is growing more and more poisonous to the one thing that relies solely on personal experience, perspective, and voice: the story. So, how does one stay true to one's voice without getting a target on one's back and hunted down by those who seek to destroy, divide, and ultimately silence our unique voices?

I have always wanted to be a storyteller. Sure, the manner in which I wanted to tell stories has changed and evolved over the course of my thirty-three rotations around the Sun, but at my core, telling stories has always been my calling.

I went to school for Film, then furthered my education with Creative Writing for Media, worked in the Industry, hosted a podcast all about film and television, then delivered my TEDx Talk (I promise I'll try to limit mentioning the talk) all about storytelling.

Fantastic Beasts and Why We Need Them TEDx Talk

As time passed, I slowly started noticing how film, television, books, and some other forms of storytelling became targets for political correctness and wokeness.

It was harmless at first, people sharing their views, sure some of it was more aggressive than others, but overall it was just people wanting their voices heard. Yet, something then began to change.

Those who wanted their voices heard began limiting the voices of those who they disagreed with. Headlines about lack of diversity, lack of equality, and lack of inclusion began splashing all over social media. This very vocal and loud crowd got the attention of Hollywood's rulers and soon those rulers, instead of doing what they've always done, decided to get into the mix and bow down to the ever growing, never pleased woke mob.

What may have started as acceptable, understandable, and just causes for people to speak up (I mean let's be honest all stories matter), became weapons of destruction for all past, present, and future intellectual properties and creative content.

By Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Star Wars divided, Marvel divided, DC divided, classic Disney animated films now evil, children's books now racist, some of the most influential Hollywood films offensive... and thus began the fragmentation of the art form that I had always dreamed of embodying all my life.

I dreaded the industry, moving farther and farther away from it and the toxic conversations that surrounded it. I loved debating and discussing film and telelvision and sharing differing views, but now I feared being labeled [insert category of] phobic, knowing fully well I was not any of those things.

I couldn't fathom why there was a need for every script to be diverse or inclusive, and why I should lose points if the story I wanted to tell was neither this nor that.

I never looked at content or characters or loved characters because they were male or female, black or white, elf or alien or human... I loved them because of who they were, what they stood for, what they did, the causes they believed in: Hope, Family, Fellowship, A Better World.

When I grew up, I rarely saw people who looked like me on TV, but I didn't care. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker, Clark Kent, even a Gargoyle (seriously, best Disney animated series ever), because they were great characters. Heck for a while in high school I even wanted to be Kate Beckinsale in Underworld, because she was a bad ass and defied the legacy that came before her.

Let me reiterate -- my issue is not with representation but rather forced representation, and representation with the wrong intention.

Representation should happen organically and authentically, and it should happen not because the system or an angry mob demands it, but because of the diversity in writers and stories that would naturally be told.

Gargoyles had a bi-racial female lead. Brothers and Sisters had the first gay wedding on screen. The Cosby Show, Family Matters, Smart Guy were all about African American families. Ugly Betty had a Latin family at its center. Queer as Folk, The L Word and Tales of the City were all about queer characters.

All those shows, and I am certain I missed many others, were on television screens way before the mob, way before political correctness, and way before this force-fed fight about inclusion and diversity. Yet, you are told that things are different.

Of course diversity matters, and of course all voices matter and need to be heard; but if I've learned one thing over the past few years, it is this: compassion and understanding are the only way forward. Speak with the intention of being compassionate, listen with the intention of wanting to understand.

With the myriad of platforms rising, the world of content couldn't be more vast and wide, so it is certain that your stories will be heard and that there will be someone out there who watches.

The trick is to be authentic, genuine, honest, and most importantly be YOU. Share your voice, your story, your experience, and your light, and watch as you will attract all those who you will undoubtedly touch.

The world is not inherently evil, and neither are people, and a great way to make people more aware of that is by telling stories that remind us of that.

pop culture

About the author

Alan Mehanna

  • 🎬 AwardWinning #Screenwriter
  • 🗡️#FantasyGeek
  • 🎙️#Podcaster
  • 📺#SeriesLover
  • 📚 #Storyteller
  • 🗯️#TedxSpeaker

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