Sunday, September 9, 2012

Young Hollywood

"I AM big. It's the PICTURES that got small." - Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard

When I took film making class at the University of North Florida, I made it a mission of mine to see as many classic films that I could find. Hollywood's magical machine had a way of telling stories once upon a time. Although a little worn around the edges from competing with new media, the motion picture is still the art form that surpasses the rest in defining our popular culture. The past is prologue in our lives and Hollywood provides us with a parable in honoring those who came before us. Before there was a Steven Spielberg, there was a D.W. Griffith. Before there was a Natalie Portman, there was a Gloria Swanson. Before there was a Brad Pitt, there was a Montgomery Clift. Our heritage is the legacy of those who blazed a path for us. Yes, Hollywood is preoccupied with youth. Yes, the youthful demographics are what prompt filmmakers to be fickle and flighty in who they package to be the next star. What will never change is the work after which we pattern our new plots and stories. You might ask me what in the world does a fantasy world have to do with the one we live in today. I would answer that we and the entertainment industry have a great deal in common. We can ill afford to discard our past for the sake of embracing the future. The Bible cautions us to honor our fathers and our mothers for we can live a long life from such respect. This, metaphysically, does not mean that being nice to our parents will extend our life expectancy. It means that by recognizing our elders in the flow of life, we understand that longevity is not a vice but a virtue. The picture was big for me when I was a youth and listened to my church elders. I scarcely knew who they were and I always wanted to know what they knew because they were a fountainhead of wisdom that would help me on my journey. One woman comes to mind when I think about my times in Grenson Hall - our fellowship hall - after our Sunday worship services. One woman of advanced age was a faithful attendee of our church. She had a faded tattoo on her arm that she extended to me in friendship. We always exchanged pleasantries and conversation as I staffed the doughnut table that was our YOU fundraiser to support our local, regional and international functions. She, like Rev. Bonnie Grenson, always wanted to take home a small treat for dessert. In return for her doughnut or cookie, she always placed her love offering in the YOU basket and she always paid me back with a smile I left for college and, when I returned, she was no longer there. I learned that she had made her transition. That is not the only thing I discovered about my late friend. Ann was a survivor of the Holocaust. That explained her faded tattoo. She chose a spiritual path in Unity that I trust helped her with her transition. I miss her because I could have learned a lot more from her, but I appreciate the influence that Ann had in my life. The pictures in our world only get small because we allow them to. We must open our eyes to the big picture that we are all big and that our presence must never shrink in the infinite Light, Power and Glory of God. And, when I am in the twilight of my own years in this mortal world, I hope that I will be honored even a fraction of the way I honored Ann and many of my brothers and sisters like her.

"The stars are ageless, aren't they?" - Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard

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