Nikola Tesla, Steve Jobs & New Hollywood: When Value Systems Prevent Progress

Updated: Aug 3

What do you value? This is a question that every human being who inherits this planet has to answer at some point in their lifetime. For some this question is very easy to answer and for others this question takes an entire life to answer, but by the end of your life how you spent your time will determine what you valued.


For some people the obvious answer is money, in whatever form that takes place, the dollar, the yen, the dinar, gold, and that is what drives them entirely in this life. Some people can only see the colour green, regardless of the harm it causes their fellow man, or the planet. Others are guided in other directions to try & find what they value. Some value their religions, some value serving others, some value ideas, some value their family & friends. These things aren't mutually exclusive, everyone on this planet needs money, and we all try to make money while finding value in all of those other aspects, but not everyone has the same primary driver. The decisions you make will be centered around your primary driver, even in the little things. If you value money more than spending time with your family you’ll work more hours, even if your end goal is to provide for your family. When we value money more than anything we are willing to do anything for it.


Our society values money, we live in capitalistic, industrial societies that tell us wealth is the main priority of our existence, which isn't necessarily a bad thing and has actually led to the development of the modern world, but there have always been people who questioned that premise. The most intelligent & talented people aren’t always the richest people, and the richest people aren’t always intelligent and talented. Einstein was a certified genius but was actually poor throughout his career. Even after his breakthroughs he enjoyed a relatively modest net worth during his lifetime compared to his level of fame and importance to mankind. Einstein could have easily figured out how to make lots of money, but he didn’t value it, his mind was more focused on Physics and he would have probably thought a financial pursuit would have been a waste of his time, even though these days his name and likeness & ideas are worth trillions.


There are people who value creativity, beauty, art, nature, invention, innovation, utility, resourcefulness, skills, problem solving, education & information more than wealth. They have existed throughout time, and they are usually battling against people who don't understand anything beyond their immediate pockets, there are Nikola Teslas who are too focused on invention to care about money, and there are Thomas Edisons who are so focused on making money that they monopolize industries, steal inventions, create them at a lower quality, with more defects, for higher prices, and do things like kill dogs with Tesla's inventions in order to put a smear campaign on him in the media and bankrupt him till he dies penniless. Tesla had to take jobs as a gravedigger because of what Edison did to him, just to be able to eat. How many great ideas did the world miss out on because of Thomas Edisons value systems? How beautiful of a world did Thomas Edison deprive himself & the world of by doing that? Everyone that fired Steve Jobs from Apple in 1984 owns an iPhone today.


Steve Jobs came into Silicon Valley as the rebel with a cause, an anti establishment man with innovative ideas that was difficult to work with, to the point where he was literally fired from his own company, but they had to hire him back because he had the ideas and without him, they had unwittingly become the machine that Steve had fought against. This unambitious, mass produced product, and the consumers felt that, to the point where they had to hire Steve back, and he continued to innovate all the way up to his death.


Steve Jobs was an artist, he treated his ideas like art. Art is not a product though, and artists are not machines, but the infrastructure surrounding them is a machine that is focused on the bottom line. So if the formula continues to work, the system has no reason to change it, in fact any disruption would be an unnecessary risk.


There are people whose sole incentives are the acquirement of wealth, and there are the Steve Jobs of the world, the people with the actual ideas that have to convince these money hungry people that new ideas are necessary, beneficial, and more important than any immediate financial pursuit or hustle.


Don't get me wrong, there is definitely a talent to making the money, maintaining the money, & growing the money, but money should be used as a resource, not the stagnation of progress, or cause of unnecessary conflict and destruction.


Steve Jobs technology has changed the world completely forever, he affected the entire planet and made Apple a trillion dollar corporation. Imagine if his story ended when he was fired from Apple in 1984? It’s obvious to us now that Steve Jobs should have been given leeway to pursue every idea he had because a few decades later in 2007 that brain of his conceptualized the iPhone. How many great ideas are stifled because of human greed and a bottomline perspective? How much further would we be as a species if we focused on providing true value, by understanding value outside of just numerical gains?


If you look at anything in life from the perspective of money, you'll miss most of the picture, and that doesn't mean money isn't important, but it does mean that nothing great ever became that just by focusing on the amount of money it can make, it made money as a byproduct of being great, because the creator knew what great was outside of financial profit. Even if you're a realtor completely focused on profit, you wouldn't have a job if an architect didn't conceptualize and design that building, a single unproven idea that created multiple jobs from construction workers, to engineers, to realtors.


Steven Spielberg was a New Hollywood director that stumbled upon the concept of the term Blockbuster when he created an incredible movie that had people literally breaking traffic in the street and lining up for his movies. Steven Spielberg created Jaws, a movie that spread due to word of mouth marketing. The studios took a chance with an unproven idea and now every single studio follows that formula to this day.


In the 70s the entire film industry changed when new Hollywood came on the scene. What that movement represented was the split from profit based filmmaking to passion based filmmaking and the passion based filmmaking was focused on changing the world. Film was a new medium and there was a belief among directors that film and images had the power of impacting people like nothing else because images are universal and humans are visual creatures. By showing people images of what the world is, and what it could be. Film is inherently a profit based medium, it costs money to make movies, and you need to make the money back, so studios have historically stuck with a formula that is guaranteed to get people in seats, so artists have always had to fight against the established system to try & get their passion projects that they truly believed could save the world on the screen.


New Hollywood directors like Steven Spielberg & Martin Scorcese accepted more creative control and smaller budgets after Hollywood was no longer able to fill up seats with their formula of safe, family friendly musicals and sequels. Directors like Spielberg & Scorcese looked everywhere for inspiration, Italian directors like Frederico Fellini, French New Wave directors like Jean Luc Godard as well as various independent filmmakers from around the world like Yasujiro Ozu and Akira Kurosawa. Scorcese created films like Raging Bull and The King Of Comedy which weren’t in theatres for very long but changed the very foundations of filmmaking history, and changed human lives.


Do you want to help people or do you want to make money? What took place in Hollywood is the classic label dispute. Record labels, film studios, any corporation & industry in the world is focused on the bottom line, but every company in the world started with an idea, the idea being to provide a product or service of value to people, and with certain things it’s easy to grow without needing to change the formula or innovate, Coca Cola is Coca Cola every time, you can easily mass produce it, but art is a dynamic process. If the people continue to purchase the same thing, there will be no need for innovation, you can just go from one camera to three cameras, or you can get a strawberry flavoured version, you'll get the same row of townhouses, or you'll get the same manufactured pop hit.


This is something you see everywhere regardless of industry, new ideas and innovation aren’t necessarily guaranteed results, so people stick to a formula that works and has worked for other people, which again, isn't necessassrily a bad thing. If it ain't broke don't fix it. If someone has an idea, they have to get through many hurdles to actualize it, they have to see if there is a need for it and if it will provide value to other people, they have to prove to others that it is valuable, and usually if it’s innovative enough, it might disrupt someone else’s consistent stream of income and eliminate jobs, so you instantly create enemies. You have to go through all of that, and eventually if it’s successful enough it will be mass produced and automized, until another innovation changes it yet again if necessary, or else it would be like the wheel and nobody would ever really have to reinvent it.


If people had kept attending those musicals in the same way people today attend superhero movies, the studio would have had no reason to ever change the formula or innovate the form, and we would have never gotten directors like Martin Scorcese, Stanley Kubrick, or Francis Ford Coppola, but something happened.


The studios almost went bankrupt so they were forced into giving new filmmakers a shot. Art is one of those things you don’t recognize you need till you need it. The human spirit needs real art, we need innovation, we need people with great ideas, we can’t survive without them, and when art is bereft of anything enlightening, beautiful, inspiring, uplifting, unifying, motivational, educational, emotional, honest or even human, the human spirit will look for all of that somewhere else. People needed & thirsted for art that reflected their true internal and external lives, and fed their souls. People thirst for information, people thirst for freedom, and these are things that true innovation and creativity do for us.


Humans have the ideas, humans have the skills, humans make our discoveries and innovations, humans write our stories, humans design our architecture, humans make our films, paintings, poems, planes and music, humans write our codes, and our planet provides all the resources necessary.


The way our industries are set up allows for various middleman positions. These people are put in place to allocate and delegate resources, they don’t necessarily have the ideas or the skills, but they are in charge of maintaining the bottom line. These would be studio executives and agents in Hollywoods case. These people would often abuse their positions, people like Harvey Weinstein would notoriously buy sex with film roles. Harvey Weinsteins main pursuits were wealth and power, these types of people exist in every industry and place in this world, from the church, the government, to gangsters, to record executives.


We have to ask ourselves as individuals, what do we value? How important is our quality of life, versus the quantity of numbers we have in contrast to someone else? What if instead of trying to control other people, keeping up with the joneses, or trying to leave a legacy, more than trying to achieve fame or infamy, we value communities & camraderie with likeminded people of various necessary skills, trades and resources, with an emphasis on creating and experiencing beauty. I’m using the term beauty loosely as a metaphor for all the things that are self evidently the right things to be doing. Good parents are beautiful, a job well done is beautiful, cleanliness is beautiful, innovation, progress, development, creativity and knowledge are beautiful, culture is beautiful, excellent electrical work, plumbing, architecture, engineers, scientists, landscaping, artists, musicians, chefs, friends, family members, an honorable agreement, a fair trade and exchange, all of these are self evidently beautiful. Harmony is self evidently beautiful. How much further would we be as a system if we valued what we can do for each other more than how much we can make off each other?


The new hollywood movement proved that we would go far if the people with the power supported new ideas & creativity instead of stifling them, what if instead of politicizing and monopolizing things like water scarcity, the people with money fund desalination companies to remove salt from Ocean water that covers the entire planet. What if instead of going to war we can spend the money we use on weapons and defence, feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world many times over, maybe if we focus on ideas & solutions as opposed to politics & profit, as a species, we could go further than the stars.


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