Media is transformative when it serves its highest function – which is to show us how to live. The core building block of all forms of media is story, and story is the central delivery system of all self-knowledge. Whether it’s sophisticated and organized into a fairytale or a feature film, or conveyed as the simplistic fragments of a grandmother’s remembrances, all stories contain the seed elements of what it means to be human; how to survive and how to thrive. Stories inform us that no one is alone, that others have walked the same precarious path toward selfhood, that life’s problems are solvable, and that striving to overcome obstacles generates new life. It is through stories that human beings are reminded to “stay the course,” “watch out for the pitfalls,” and that meaning and value can be made out of life’s difficulties and hardships.
In essence, all stories, no matter how deep or shallow, contain this transformative potential. But if a seed is never germinated and encouraged to grow, it leaves behind nothing more than a trace of what it was meant to become. This, unfortunately, is the fate of far too many of our modern stories that are neither nurtured nor coaxed to fully flower. Therefore, little of substance is left to harvest, meaning that today’s “explosive” media complex is virtually shooting blanks. If this was only a matter of benign neglect, then the deficiencies in so much of today’s media content wouldn’t be a problem. But large quantities of empty stories have the same toxic effect on our psychological systems that empty junk foods have on our biological systems. They give us nothing of any nutritious value to ingest, leaving us weakened and vulnerable.
Stories without a transformative ingredient lack the ability to show us how people like ourselves (characters), grow and change (transform) in relationship to how we face life’s trials (plot). Therefore, it’s not just a question of telling better stories; it’s a matter of telling truthful stories. Because the truth of the human condition, as related in our stories, is that the challenges in our life do impact us. They not only reflect the timeless quality of the human drama, but they also project human consciousness into new realms of potentiality.
All stories, in all genres have the ability to fulfill this transformative function. It can also be said that these transformative elements make all stories better; they enrich media on every level – including economic. In other words, if you build a better story, they will come.
Through education, connection and collaboration and advocacy, GATE, the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment, is dedicated to the betterment and well-being of the world through the enhancement of its narratives. Please join us in our commitment to serving the advancement of humanity through transformational storytelling – we will all be richer for it.