Morality vs. Storytelling
“What is the toughest choice you’ve had to make ethically as a director?” asked an interviewer to a group of directors, one of whom was Angelina Jolie. Her response was clear and resolute,“I think the intention is to understand the edges of human nature.”
We often make the assumption that there are certain stories with moral or ethical issues and others that are not. The question is never whether a story is a moral or ethical issue. Every story is a moral story. Storytelling is capturing the essence of humans. We as artist are heart surgeons, peeling back the layers of our exterior motives and lives to penetrate the heart of who we really are as humans. What moves us, what scares us, what wounds us.
Regardless of if you intend to or not, you are conveying a moral ethic to people through your story.
I believe we, as creatives, need to become more responsible with the morality we express through what we create. What are you pointing people towards? Children will want to become like your characters, people will idolize, fantasize, and imagine your world as their own...so what world are you pointing them towards?
A world where vengeance is glorified? A world where power and wealth is celebrated? A world where women are objectified? Are you creating worlds that speak into what you want our world to become? I believe that creatives hold more power than politics, and with that power comes the choice of choosing the person we want to be- and the world we want to see.
I sometimes think about when I have kids, will I be proud to show them my films, and will those films point them towards becoming the sons and daughters I’m proud to call my own? If I can honestly answer yes, then what I’m choosing to say is good and beautiful.
You are a creative, but you are also the mirror of what you want our world to become. If we start taking our moral obligation to storytelling more seriously, I believe we can change the world’s perspective on issues and people.