[Photo Credit Below]

[Photo Credit Below]

Growing up, I only had two teachers: Pop culture and the streets, (mostly pop culture). Losing my dad when I was 13, I’m certain that my mother was mostly pre-occupied with the admirable task of surviving, and may not have had time to teach me other things that might have been helpful, so I had to learn them another way. I wasn’t a shy kid, but my brother and sister were decades older than me, and all the other kids my age were dumb, so I didn’t like them, so I didn’t have many friends. So pop culture became my friend.

I am a witness that they used to have music on VH1.

I used to watch whatever was popular and whatever was on TV. Music videos and Nickelodeon, court shows and Oprah, Maury and Friends, and anything else that crept up on the TV tube. It was also around this time that I was starting to read Harry Potter and finding out how awesome reading was in general. So here’s what I learned about Hollywood.

1.) “Hollywood” isn’t really a thing.

I think Hollywood gets a bad rap for a lot of things. All of a sudden it’s a Quentin Tarantino film that made someone shoot up a school, or a Harry Potter book that causes children to jump off of rooftops with brooms tucked between their legs (sorry lady, you just got a dumb kid.) As Eminem says in “Sing For The Moment”:

They say music can alter moods and talk to you
Well, can it load a gun up for you and cock it too?
Well if it can, and the next time you assault a dude
Just tell the judge it was my fault, and I’ll get sued

“Hollywood” is some kind of nebulous group word, but it doesn’t translate very well. Just like “bank” in The Grapes of Wrath, or “the media”, “the government”, etc. It doesn’t translate to an actual thing that is being done by an actual thing, but it serves as everyone’s punching bag.

2.) Hollywood has great messages. 

I’ll write more on this later, but I can say that some of my best actual practices in life come from books, movies, and TV shows. The zeitgeist tells us that “Hollywood’s” message is that we have to be thin and perfect and beautiful and blah blah blah, but just as many works talk about the importance of bravery, honor, sacrifice, and noble aspects of human behavior and nature.

Even the grittier stuff gives better lessons than people give it credit for. People decry Breaking Bad because they think it “glorifies” crime and violence, but honestly, did you watch the show? Did it turn out well for Walter White? Or is a much more reasonable interpretation of the show “This is the portion of a wicked man, and this is what befalls those who have no regard for others?”

Hell, if you watch only Disney movies, they will literally tell you to be “true to your heart.” These are “Hollywood” and they’re really good messages.

So as Oscar season befalls us and you think on creativity and vision, remember that all the arts are in this together, and if you’re a creative person, just remember that I grew up on pop culture and the streets, and I can tell you that there’s just as much art on TV as in books, and just as much trash, too.

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[Photo Credit]

Photo: https://goo.gl/U1ZsqB
Photographer: Ryota Nakanishi
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