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Breaking Free from the Grand Religion that Ensnares Us All

The Muslims have Mecca, where millions gather every year for the Hajj. The bulk of Christianity has the Vatican, overflowing with believers at Christmas and Easter. And the world has Hollywood, where every year during “award season” entire city blocks are cordoned off as industry devotees prepare to worship the gods and goddesses worthy of the golden statues named Oscar, Emmy, or Grammy.

Ever-present “Religious Worship”

No disrespect to sincere adherents of a spiritual faith, but if the primary function of religion is to add meaning and social glue to society, then Hollywood fits the bill. Consider the trappings of the entertainment industry and how it can be seen as a religious institution that almost everyone follows:

Quote: "Religion is everywhere. There are no human societies without it, whether they acknowledge it as a religion or not." Octavia E. Butler
  1. We convene in cavernous temples (pandemic aside) to hold regular services where worshippers pay devoted attention to the celebrity gods who light up the screen.

  2. The sparkly vestments and “exemplary” behavior associated with those same celebrity deities inspire wannabe saints to pay homage through fandom and mimicry. The reverent whispers of worshippers trail behind superstars, their entourage, and the priestly producers of their media products. Dead luminaries are immortalized in stories and statues.

  3. The talismans of product placement and celebrity branding get distributed throughout the channels of capitalism, which in turn re-fuels the creation of more product. All of this — like a twisted form of tithing — keeps the “holy spirit” alive and flowing.

Those are just a few examples of the parallels between religion and all things “Hollywood,” which I began to notice during my years working in the entertainment industry. When out-of-towners would visit me at a studio or on a soundstage in LA, it was always with mouths agape, as though they were walking on hallowed ground. That sparked my thinking on where we put our “religious devotion” and how it continues to shift over time — in both alarming and hopeful ways.