« The Table @ Aspen: The Blogger's Identity | Main | Bill Clinton: A Generation of Ideals »

The Table @ Aspen: How Real is Reality TV?

05 Jul 2008 02:35 pm

Digital Storytelling, Part Three: Michael Hirschorn, one of the creative minds behind VH1's "Flavor of Love" and "Surreal Life," talks about the appeal of reality television and whether online video will eclipse traditional programming.

Share This


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (2)

I applaud the Festival's interest in storytelling. As an advocate and spokesman for the value of storytelling in contemporary life, I was invited to present the key note address at the annual meeting of the National Storytelling Network last year. I am attaching a few excerpts with the hope of beginning a dialog with Aspen Festival participants or planners interested in the future of storytelling.

Many thanks,
Ron Turner

The title for this presentation, “A Movement in Motion” reflects the dynamic power of storytelling in society and recognizes its changing nature as the storytelling movement gathers steam and acceleration in a very complex and troubled world. A world, I might add, that has never needed storytelling as much as it does today. The pace of life is quickening; the threats to global security and peace are staggering; economic, political and social issues of monumental scope confront us at every turn; the AIDS pandemic is changing the face and future of entire populations; technological advances come at a speed that challenges our ability to understand, absorb or embrace them. We have reached a point in the march of human progress that recalls Edmund Burke’s lament for the return of the “...inns and resting places of the human spirit.” Big business, big government, big violence, big poverty, industrialization and the bite of technology take an ever increasing toll on the lives of people around the globe. The march is unrelenting, and the fragmentation of society seems at times unyielding.

It is against these trends in human experience that storytelling has come to the crossroads of America in its present state. A state that has seen enormous progress as people in all parts of the world seek the insight, the buoyancy, and the hope that storytelling can bring as torrents in the cascade of life wash over us. Storytelling is increasingly, but slowly being recognized as a source of renewal and respite from the pressures and predicaments we all encounter day to day and hour by hour.
In my remaining time let me issue, or reissue, three challenges for the future. First, I challenge each of us to build public awareness to the value of storytelling in society. Second, I challenge us to create and sustain a forum for critical dialogue with other sectors to join us in advancing the value of storytelling. Third, I challenge us to increase funding for storytelling and storytellers on a monumental scale. These three challenges are clearly interrelated, and our success in their advancement will pay enormous dividends.

There is a tremendous need to expand and sustain the dialogue with those in other organizations—both public and private. Local, state, regional and international dialogues have begun, and they merit our participation and encouragement. I know many of you are active leaders in this outreach to other pubic and private sectors, and your efforts and successes deserve our
appreciation. Nonetheless, I believe we can do more to create a direction based on dialogue; we can advocate and establish storytelling’s rightful place in the funding arena without selling out.

We need to look around the room and think hard about who is not here; which interests are not represented; and we need to resolve to include them in a vigorous discussion as we attempt to expand and enlarge what Robert Axelrod calls the “shadow of the future.”

I call again for leaders in the storytelling movement to organize and sponsor an annual conference with leaders from foundations, publishing, media, education, health, community action groups, government at all levels, both urban and rural, and the private sector to search for common ground.

In this effort, I urge NSN to invite critical thinkers from other public and private sectors and organizations to share their views and explore avenues of cooperation along the lines I am advocating here. This dialogue will go beyond attention to the art and practice of storytelling; it has the potential to vault storytelling to its place on the agenda of the 21st century with all the uncertainties and discontinuities associated with economic and social progress. I advocate an open dialogue with interested parties currently at the edge or even alien to storytelling for thoughtful analysis, forward thinking, bold leaping, alliance building and agenda setting for the future.

Mr. Turner expands on a strong case here. Our live accounts of history in the making will be invaluable to the way current events are remembered and reported in the history books. We need to be a part in shaping the way our generation is remembered, and not let it only be marked by trafic events such as 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina, but let the success stories live on as well.

Copyright © 2008 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.