The importance of living in the real world – Leaving the Cave

The importance of living in the real world – Leaving the Cave

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Charlie Brooker

Charlie Brooker, from Wikipedia

In December of 2011, Charlie Brooker gifted the world with the shocking, merciless and incredible first episode of his series Black Mirror. The premise of the show is simple: the narratives are centered “on obscure and satirical themes that examine modern society, particularly regarding the unforeseen consequences of new technologies” (available in:

We get distracted by medias

The first chapter, entitled National Anthem, present us the story of an artist who kidnaps Princess Susannah, a member of the British royal family. As a price for her freedom, the kidnapper requires the country’s Prime Minister to have sex with a pig on live television, otherwise he will kill her. It’s only a matter of hours and the news is already running the world; and any and all people, in all four corners of the globe, feel entitled to give their opinion and judge about what the Prime Minister should do (through social networks, television news, bar tables…).

Netflix LogoHowever, before the act starts, exactly 30 minutes before, and with the broadcast already taking place on televisions and screens around the world – and with all the spectators collectively holding their breath in the agonizing wait for what would happen before their eyes – the artist/kidnapper releases the princess in a completely empty London, precisely because “he knew everyone would be elsewhere, watching screens” (Black Mirror. Season 01, Episode 01. Available on:

Brutally, Brooker rubs in the viewer’s face the absurd power that technology has in influencing daily and political decisions, regardless of borders and seas – in the episode described, the main technology is television and its power over other medias and over the population. Today, nine years later, at a time when everyone lives buried on their individual screens, National Anthem is considered obsolete and aggressive without need… People still don’t see the princess being released.

Plato's allegory of the cave by Jan Saenredam

The world needs freedom. Always.

In 385-380 BC, Plato, in his Republic, gifted humanity with the Cave Myth – where he shows us the need to leave the cave and break free in order to stop seeing only shadows and get to know and see the reality. The similarities between Plato’s and Brooker’s discourse are undeniable. It’s even more undeniable how much both speeches perfectly describe our contemporary reality: we are the fruits that resulted of generations and genera-tions of absurd technological advances. n a matter of 50 years, the paraphernalia and gadgets that seemed to exist only in sci-fi films have gained shape and popularity (everybody wants to have the most advanced phone of the brand judged to be the best in technology).

Back to the futureBack to the Future may have gotten the year wrong but we already have flying cars designs and Tony Hawk has already tested the first prototype of the Hoverboard, Marty McFly’s floating skateboard (available on:

And yet, Brooker believes his stories are not “warnings. Technological progress is completely inevitable. We think more about the human characters. They’re not societal warnings. And I think we’re quite optimistic” (Available on:

In fact, as the seasons of the show kept going, the episodes became more and more optimistic in the narratives and their conclusions (with the brilliant exception of the interactive BandersnatchAvailable on:

However, this effect is also something that the TV program itself had predicted and demonstrated, in the episodes prior to its acquisition by the multi-billion dollar Netflix: that the public that only sees the shadows cannot take it well when reality inevitably imposes itself and hits him like a fist in the pit of the stomach. And it is exactly in this duality that we find ourselves today.

Contemporary society, even though it is the most technologically advanced (at least, of which we are aware so far) just like in Plato’s cave or Brooker’s National Anthem (and despite the countless warnings we had through the films, books, myths and serials that proceeded us) still keep their eyes increasingly distant from the liberation of the princess and increasingly fixed in the shadows of reality transmitted by the different individual and collective screens (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, iPhone, tablets, computer screens, televisions, home theaters, the examples are endless).

An amazing project that portrays delicately and in an especial way the feelings of the contemporary society that insists on seeing only the shadows is Upload, by the giant Amazon Prime (Available on:

With a lighter tone, acid humor and without the punch in the stomach that artistic works cause when they approach this thematic universe, Upload delivers into the hands of the spectators the importance of leaving the cave and seeing what actually produces all the shadows.

Virtual relationship

Why do we prefer virtual relationships?

But while we don’t leave the cave, we keep on giving preference to virtual relationships, to digital influencers with their personalities and physical characteristics and narratives created and photoshopped; we keep creating more and more gadgets to make the virtual experience more personal and more intimate (virtual reality glasses, websites like and apps like Tinder can be used as examples) but without real contact between the parts involved. And where is the fun in that?

Yuval Harari, from Flickr

We prefer to spend hours chatting by WhatsApp than by voice call, by phone, or live, face to face. I have an anecdote from a great digital influencer friend who once went to dinner with her family at a restaurant; they sat at a small table and spent all dinner talking through the said application or instead of looking each other in the eye and talking there, in the now, in reality. How sad – or normal – that sounds to you?

It is obvious that we cannot belittle all the infinite stupendous, immense and wonderful things that technology carries and brings in itself… But we must realize and understand that big things also form immense shadows.

And if, in the middle of this rough sea, in fact, homo sapiens creates a super homo sapiens, just as Yuval Harari predicts, we already know from the same books and myths and movies and tv shows that we will never stop being homo sapiens in our quintessence – with all our feelings and thoughts and sensations -, so, the question that hangs in front of this whole scenario is exactly this: what if when the princess finally breaks free from the cave, everyone is still elsewhere, watching screens?

Entrepreneurship is important for artists to make money

Entrepreneurship is important for artists to make money

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There is a belief that we have carried intrinsically to our society for centuries: the artist has to go through hunger and need and suffering to be an artist. Well, at least to be a good artist. After all, how can he make a real Art, an Art that moves and transforms the viewer, if he doesn’t pass a certain difficulty in life?

This belief, crazy but real, it never had scientific foundations. But artists have always had to “get by” in order to produce and transmit their works. For a long time there were prejudices against artists considered “professionals”. Both from colleagues who did not achieve the desired fame or recognition, and from all sides of society.

Several people from different backgrounds believe that the artistic work is a little lower in the professional hierarchy. In addition, it is very common to hear doctors, professors, critics, fans and even other artists, also call those successful artists “false artists” or accuse them of selling themselves out.

The importance of having an entrepreneurial soul

José Mojica Marins

José Mojica Marins

However, luckily, it has been shown for artists the importance of having an entrepreneurial soul. Because, in reality, we all want recognition and success in our professional areas. And there is no reason to be ashamed of it.

Throughout the course of history, artists had to be entrepreneurs to produce and perpetuate their art. It is possible to say that one of the most successful examples in history was Shakespeare; the English playwright had his theatrical company, where he produced the plays he really wanted, with the profit obtained from sales with the plays ordered by royalty.

José Mojica Marins

Another strong and more recent example is the Brazilian filmmaker José Mojica Marins. In his long career – which started at the age of 12 – the artist has more than 30 films made. The director, producer, actor and, above all, Brazilian entrepreneur Mojica (died in February 2020 at the age of 84), had to be creative and improvise a lot to achieve the desired effects and scares in his works.

I never took money from the government to finance my productions. […] I never had a direct sponsor. […]

About the material to make, I got the leftover film rolls from other productions – 10 meters, 15, sometimes up to 30 meters, and I made my films with that. Because I had the patience to assemble the pieces, and nobody did. Instead of taking a 20-meter take, I did it in two out of ten. […]

When I started I had to invent the effects myself, I was a pioneer.

(MARINS in MACÁRIO, 2011)1.

Creative tricks to reduce the budget

To compensate for budget limits and being self-taught, Mojica used creative tricks. As well as the reuse of resources and technical staff and cast, to guarantee and affirm his style.

When he had to show Terezinha’s decomposing body inside the coffin, Mojica used a trick he had invented in the days of the toy movie […]: in a bowl, mixed bread crumbs, milk and a bunch of live guava bugs and rubbed the goop on the actress’s face.

The dough, after drying, became white and brittle. When the animals started to move, they seemed to be piercing the corpse’s skin. […]

There are two scenes in the film that are a masterpiece of inventiveness and improvisation: one is the procession of the dead shown in negative. To achieve this effect, Mojica filmed a procession and had the film copied in negative. Thus, blacks became white and vice versa. […]

The other scene, even more spectacular, is that of […] the encounter between Joe Coffin and Antônio’s spirit. […]

There is a halo around the spirit, a bright line. […] Using a thin brush, […] Mojica he spread glue around Antônio’s image, on the negative itself, and glued glitter. After, […] ordered the lab to copy the scene again, from this adulterated negative.


The right meeting changes your life

In 1963, José Mojica Marins had an encounter with what would become his biggest and most famous character, practically his alterego: Josefel Zanatas or Joe Coffin. And it was for Joe, as well as for his creativity and artistic independence, that Mojica became a mythical and world-renowned figure in the cinematographic universe of Terror. Nowadays his works, like the artist himself, are seen as cult, classic and genius by critics/experts and fans of the genre.

It is clear that by believing and investing in himself, Mojica became an important filmmaker creating a cinema with its own laws, in its own way.

More contemporary entrepreneurs

Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Phoebe Waller-Bridge

If we want, we can also mention more contemporary and equally entrepreneurial names: Michaela Coel and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The TV series that made them world famous, “Chewing Gum” and “Fleabag” respectively, were inspired by the theatrical plays of the same name where Coel and Bridge were the screenwriters, directors, actresses and producers.

They both brilliantly transposed their arts to the audiovisual. Adding that to the worldwide recognition and knowing their value, the entrepreneurial side of the two artists was recently exposed publicly: Coel refused a millionaire contract3 with Netflix, because she would have to give up her rights as the creator of the final work. Work that would later become “I May Destroy You”, a TV show produced by HBO and widely regarded by critics as the best TV series of 2020. And, as is more commonly known, Phoebe Waller-Bridge not only will be the screenwriter for the next James Bond film, but also has signed a millionaire contract with Amazon Prime4.

Self-promote yourself to conquer new worlds

We could not just stick to the few wonderful names mentioned here; there are so many other amazing examples but that would require turning the article into a huge encyclopedia. So the big question is: if we have so many great and varied examples of entrepreneurship in art, what are you missing, dear artist who is reading this article right now, to be more entrepreneurial to reach and conquer new worlds?


1 MACÁRIO, Carolina. Interview: José Mojica Marins, Joe Coffin, talks about his habits and remembers the past.News of the day. Florianópolis, 2011. Available in:

2 BARCINSKI, André; FINOTTI, Ivan. Damned: the life and cinema of José Mojica Marins, Joe Coffin. Publisher 34: São Paulo, 1998. Available in:

3 Available in:

4 Available in: