Once you understand a particular people group—their makeup and design—it becomes much easier to decipher their customs, language and rituals. How do you get to the heart of who the people are in Hollywood and the broader entertainment industry? I’ve worked with people in this industry for over 20 years. And there are a few things I have observed that could help us to understand the mindset of those who work in entertainment.
The Hollywood Dream Factory and the American Dream are also closely tied to each other, especially for the people who work there. These concepts have led to a social system of mutual patterns and ideas which help to control and influence the activities of its members.
The ideas that fuel the Dream Factory are complicated. They serve as a metaphor much like California, that if you can get there, life will be better for you there than where you came from. Therefore, those who come to Hollywood looking for opportunities to break into the business will try to achieve it at all costs. After all, who doesn’t want to be rich, famous and important? That’s what the Hollywood Dream Factory is selling, not only to their audience but to those who come looking for a better life.
It’s no secret that many people who work in entertainment fall into drugs, drinking or sexual addiction. The industry and the culture it creates is full of stress and pressure. You are just as good as your last project. The social system that makes up Hollywood makes it easy and convenient to fall into destructive behavior. This is easy to understand once you realize that your dreams have turned into a nightmare. You turn to whatever comfort you can find.
Most of the people who come to Hollywood are artists. It’s crucial to understand the mind of the artist in order to reach him or her with the Gospel message. Artists are wired differently. I would go as far to say is that their brains don’t function like most of ours. Without making too many generalizations, they are free spirited, unconventional in how they view life, and more open to new ideas.
If you have friends who are artists, you realize they are different. Wherever artists gather or migrate to, they will create a unique culture. That’s exactly what’s happened in Hollywood. This helps to explain why Hollywood is so different from mainstream America.
Hollywood is also a culture of mistrust. It seems that everybody is playing an angle. You never know who is on the up and up. I’m sure that in any business or industry there is a fair share of backstabbing, cut-throat tactics, and betrayal but not to the point that it occurs in Hollywood. Competition in this industry is intense, and the desire to get ahead overshadows common sense. Who do you trust? Can you trust anyone? Show your script to your friend and before you know it, he or she has stolen your idea and made a deal. So it’s no surprise that trust is an issue in Hollywood.
As media missionaries we recognize that only a relationship with God can resolve these issues. Our mission is to understand the mind of the artist and the culture of Hollywood in order to be effective in communicating Biblical truth. But in order to do this we need a specialized group of people who are trained in all aspects of the media missionary’s calling.
NOTE: It’s important to emphasize that artists are everywhere. The culture of Hollywood exists in practically every corner of the world. Film, television and media production doesn’t just occur in Hollywood. You can be a media missionary in your own home town and reach those who work in media and entertainment