#chestisms

FACEBOOK

Twitter

WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND?

Hooray for Hollywood?

14 comments | February 23rd, 2012

(Submitted by Eva and Seth @OffOurChests, originally last year and again this – and next if we have to)

  Here's the thing.  Hollywood built and paid for our house.  Actually, it paid for it and pretty much everything else in our lives, including this here thing we call Off Our Chests.  The point we want to make upfront is, we're lovers not haters.

But as we approach the Oscars, there's another point we want to make about Hollywood.  Popular culture being both, how do we say popular and cultural, influences and shapes how feel, what we think about, talk about and wonder about.  And it can wield this power for good and ill, passively or actively.  Hollywood can raise and sometimes even change our consciousness – or just fuck with it.

Of course we're talking about Hollywood broadly and metaphorically here, and we really mean the purveyors of the stuff of popular culture.  We're talking about the product (movies, music, tv, video games, fashion, celebrity…) they make and which we consume, and that maybe too often consume some of us. There's a lot of Hollywood in NYC, SF, Paris, London and Tokyo too, to say nothing of its presence and impact in Des Moines, Fort Collins and Port St Lucie. 

And it's kind of perverse that something that really just wants to make us feel good for at least a moment, can often make us feel bad for a lifetime. 

Here at Off Our Chests, we think that we – both the purveyors and the consumers of culture – all need to hold each other and ourselves – individually and collectively – more accountable than we have been.  Accountable to what we put out there, to how seriously and literally we do and don't take it; to what we do and don't do with it.  Accountable for the mainstreaming and popularization of images and expectations; standards and norms that are too often inaccessible if not impossible.  And we'll say here (as others have said well before and better than us) that we think the abso-fucking-lutely horrfying numbers of girls dieting before they're 9; hating their bodies when they're 10; feeling they've failed if they haven't gotten pregnant and married by 30 (to say nothing of 40); etc etc etc are the dark side of not being accountable.  The upside of course is so easily illustrated by looking at what Hollywood, from Ellen to Real World to Will & Grace to Glee have done to help make being gay in America easier.

Because besides our individual power to affect change, in our hyper-fragmented world there really is no more powerful force for good than that which brings many of us together and makes us laugh, cry, think, or just keeps us distracted long enough to breathe a little more slowly and deeply.  Hollywood can help and it can heal, but it can also hurt – again even without meaning to.  It's when Hollywood is at it's most benignly inattentive that we think the real damage gets done.  Not by design but by default.

And not just to what's put out there – but what isn't.  What images, view points, shapes, sizes and sounds are we NOT seeing, and why not? (More on this in a subsequent piece later this week.)

We heart you Hollywood, but we hope you'll come to better understand that whether or not we should take all the images you do – and don't – put out there seriously, a lot of the time,we do.  Not from any one film or show or single but, again, the cumulative effect of all of them can leave a residue of group-think, of ideals, expectations, and norms.  It's not necessarily your fault you're beautiful, but we blame you anyway.

Often times, we internalize what you're putting up on screens big and smaller and smaller, and make them a part of our identity, aspirations, references.  So, have fun Sunday all ye fancy folks, but maybe think about how to bring and reflect new voices, images and ideas into what comes next.  Let's open up the casting a bit; invite more into and under the tent.  And maybe as you've helped do so many times before, you can help change the world, her world, and her world too.  Hooray for that. 

And thanks for everything.  Especially our house.  XO, eva, seth, and OOC.

14 comments

  • Lindsey

    Posted on February 22, 2011

    We weren’t allowed to watch TV as kids (really, almost null) and yet I became anorexic at age 16. All of the subliminal messages got in anyway, magazines, billboards, but mostly, I think, peers. That’s why I think this has to change, because my parents tried to protect me and could not. If all of your peers hold a belief that there’s one kind of beautiful and you’re not it, then you still suffer regardless of whether or not you’re as aware of those standards as they are.

    Report this comment

    • amy

      Posted on February 23, 2011

      I disagree that it resides solely with your peers. You weren’t allowed to watch television, but did your family discuss things like advertising, media, body types, healthy sizes and behaviours, addiction etc.? I think there’s more to it than peer pressure (which is strong, but not the only part in the process).

      Report this comment

  • Paola

    Posted on February 22, 2011

    My bedroom walls were covered with pictures of movie stars and singers I thought were beautiful. My dorm room walls too (with a few hotties thrown in). I wanted to look like and be them so much. Sometimes I still do.

    Report this comment

  • MG

    Posted on February 22, 2011

    Remember how normal smoking used to be on TV? And now watching old SATC episodes, you think ‘gross’ every time Carrie lights up? That’s how we need to think of it. Glee kind of tries too hard at it, but a gradual shift in the ‘norms’ pictured on TV and in movies would do a great deal of good. Right now, 99% of ‘famous people’ represent what 1% of the population actually looks like (and yes, I made those figures up but you get my point). Let’s add in some more color, more weight, etc.

    Report this comment

  • OOC

    Posted on February 22, 2011

    Thanks to you each and all for these. MG’s point about smoking’s a really good example. When Hollywood decided to actively stop glamorizing smoking, a lot of kids felt smoking was, well, less glamorous…and so they didn’t smoke. That’s it’s power for good, and Lindsey and Paola share it’s power – direct and indirect intentional or not – to define beauty, standards, expectations…

    Sometimes little changes can have a big effect. We hope more folks come to realize this, and with women like you sharing your voices we think they will. Thanks for talking. XO, OOC

    Report this comment

  • OOC

    Posted on February 22, 2011

    Hey, 2Pac. We love the Sesame Street analogy. You’re so right. And that’s exactly where and why Hollywood can help make such a huge difference. Thanks for pointing it out. You rock. XO, OOC

    Report this comment

  • Apocalypstick

    Posted on February 22, 2011

    “Basically, I’m Just Going To Start Blaming All My Problems On Natalie Portman”:

    http://www.alifeintranslation.com/2011/02/natalie-portman-problems-yo/

    Report this comment

  • Um

    Posted on February 22, 2011

    So instead of “we are what we eat” it’s now we aspire to what we watch? Really?

    Report this comment

    • OOC

      Posted on February 23, 2012

      Sadly Um, the data’s pretty clear on the fact that a lot of us do “aspire” to just that. (And if not aspire, certainly wonder why we don’t look like what we see – or wonder why we don’t see what we look like.)

      We think it’s great that you don’t feel this way, and only wish more did (er, didn’t). How’d you avoid the pitfalls? Thanks for adding to the conversation. OOC

      Report this comment

  • Mir

    Posted on February 23, 2011

    I just have to tell you that when I was a kid, the only fan letter I ever wrote was to Valerie Landsburg (she played Doris on Fame). And she wrote back, cementing my love for her.

    I wonder how many “gleeks” are being given similar hope today?

    Report this comment

  • Kelly

    Posted on February 23, 2012

    As a woman with two disorders I’m invisible to Hollywood.That has to change.

    Report this comment

  • rr

    Posted on February 23, 2012

    I am a massive consumer of popular culture. I love it. I love the guilty pleasures and the artistic ventures. I do not look to what’s on screen or stage as validation or invalidation of myself. It’s just entertainment.

    Report this comment

MORE STORIES