Thanks for posting that. Its interesting, especially in light of the discussion on formulaic movie plots we were having with @SD45T-2. I have loved Peanuts for a long time. It reminds me a bit of this review of Somewhere I was reading which talks about another kind of sameness in holywood that connects, I think, to the self-esteem boosting paradigm.
Originally Posted by 93JC
One of William Goldman's best ever essays was about why most plays were about putting on a play. He didn't have to account for the poverty of ideas that led to Broadway about Broadway, because it was obvious — people who spent their entire lives in theater naturally had no other life experience to draw on. Somerset Maugham's edict to write what you know is among the dumbest pieces of advice ever given about writing, and it has recently become more harmful than even he realized. The maxim of 'write what you know' is revolting self-help propaganda: you're good enough, you don't need to keep learning, your experience of the world is valid and complete in itself.
The number of possible life experiences is dwindling. Eventually we will all have one life experience, distinguishable only in small moments not accounted for by communal art. What draws divergent backgrounds into the Americam amalgam is the shared experience of life reflected in art, but the people who create this perception in the film medium are drastically limited by their own surroundings. The last thing you have to do is start making films about people markedly different from yourself, but the first thing you have to do is stop making films about people identical to yourself.
I kind of disagree with disparaging people to write what they know, because I think most people are already creatively backed up as it is, and its important to start somewhere, but I can understand the frustration with Hollywood's love for insider movies. But that line about you're good enough does make me think about the refrain of the magic feather movies and the generation to whom its being sold.
Too much optimism can warp a person and there is definitely a power of negative thinking, but of course too much rumination on negativity is disabling (I can testify) and balance is preferable.