The Greeks, they had it figured. Rationalized down to a science. Content’s critical function? To provide an emotional purgative. A soul laxative. And those who refused to learn from the tragic enactments of masked thespians were doomed to stab themselves in the eyes with their momma’s jewelry. Or befall some other fate just as allegorically terrifying.
Flash forward to this brave new elusory world of transmedia stories on overdrive, fragmenting themselves across diverse mediums and multiple devices. Does Aristotle still look like a behavioral genius? Or is the “new story” more aligned with the Platonic view of art’s toxic tendency to obscure the real truth?
Just what—in this here and now—is the relevant function of these new polymorphic story forms? Are they a welcome reprieve from reality? A panacea to quell our urge to self-mutilate? Or simply one more brand impression in sheep’s clothing? Has it become content’s ultimate fate to be painted with a brand brush and pimped out to hawk sneakers? Four dollar cups of coffee? Lifestyles? Who needs emotional catharsis when you can get a digital tablet designed to poach your time and pick your pocket?The simple answer:
We do. Me’s and you’s.
The humans among us.
Be they verbal or visual, driven by linear plot or revealed by cumulative experience, well-crafted stories possess a near-mystic power to strum the connective threads of our common humanity. They unite us through our shared affinities, desires, foibles and convictions. They help us define who we are, both individually and as co-voyagers on this planet.
Even in the post-ironic now, the critical function of content remains the same as it ever was. An invitation to viscerally experience the psychic wallop of somebody else’s life. And to understand more fully, through that sharing, what it means to be human.Content holds back the dark.