July 8th, 2017

I've been thinking a lot lately about dogma. In addition to being the title of a terrific Kevin Smith film, dogma is essentially subscribing to an ideology or philosophy hinged on an incontrovertible truth.

Its blinding nature renders the brightest of minds ignorant and dulled. Whether it's politics, religion, or even something as specific to what kind of haircut you should rock or what kind of person you should be involved with romantically - dogma is there to corrupt your individuality with unchecked, misguided noise. It's essentially living within the constraints of someone else's thinking; a shortcut to bypass insecurities. The Anglican priest, poet, and Oxford scholar, John Henry Newman, once said "Men will die upon dogma but will not fall victim to a conclusion." My interpretation of this - outside of this man's clear disdain for the famously dogmatic Catholic church - is that some folks believe that they are owed something because they subscribed to a collective notion or idea, but may forever deny themselves an inevitable truth that might otherwise fulfill the holes in their soul. Isn't this dangerous for people to presume they are so correct that they are blinded by their own inner turmoil they're too insecure, afraid, and/or immature to address? Isn't this the utter death of truth?

Of all of the arts, filmmaking is possibly the most wrought with dogmatic thinking. Making a movie requires many skillsets and, above all, an open attitude towards the unknown. Box office success determines what is a hit versus a loss; therefore it's certainly easier to attempt to understand what people have done in the past in an effort to try to avoid mistakes in the future. Some might even look to what specific tools or methodologies others used as point of reference to emulate a style or set a mood. Some might say, "That isn't me; I'm no sell out. I'm REAL." Whatever the case may be, inevitably the bitter irony about filmmaking is that in order to reflect some sort of truth that resonates with an audience, you need to engage in a bit of dogmatic thinking yourself. If a filmmaker's job is to observe and report, then it's only natural to expect some piece of dogmatic thinking to come into play while figuring out a way to communicate a relatable story to someone - right? Right????

JH