A few things storytelling can do to change the world

Story&Drama supports the idea that storytelling is a performative tool: we do not tell stories just for the sake of telling stories, but to:

  • have an impact over the audience
  • make the audience think, believe, feel, act, buy, vote, change attitude
  • change the world!

How? By generating effects of involvement, positive or negative identification to plotscharacters, situations etc.

To make our point clear, let’s study a few disciplines or genres in which storytelling showed a strong ability to influence our reality.


This is the Intro of Man on The Moon.

Look how they play with feelings of deception and hope in the audience :

– Good news, the movie starts.

– Bad news, it’s already over.

– So, we’re finishing it, sending the end screen… but it gets broken, so we still have to wait for the end, the show goes on !

– Then it continues paradoxically to its end… until it really starts !

Here the correlation between our feelings, and the story prognosis about the media or genre itself – does it work as a movie, or not ? – is very clear. We like when it starts, we dislike when it stops, we love when it starts again (hope, followed by another deception).


The Story of Stuff

It’s actually ideology that takes the shape of a purely logic explanation. We follow the process of consumption goods lifeline, from conception to trash. The message is clearly about stopping or diminishing consumption, for a willingfully less toxic lifestyle. Highly convincing isn’t it ?

Here everything is scenarized in logical lines – though reality isn’t either logical nor linear, but we take the 3D->2D transfer very easily, that’s actually easier to understand. Instead of a long boring static description, every process is analyzed dramatically one after the other in a series of schoking, emotionnal plot points, underlining each point with feelings of guilt, shame, responsibility and involvement.


How WWII started on a fake polish attack scenarized by Hitler and the Gestapo

To give themselves an excuse to attack the world, the nazis had a strategy to appear as legitimate – they told a story to their audience – the german people, but also the international community.

They invented characters : a troup of hostile « polish soldiers », organizing an attack ordered by the army and state of Poland. (Those fake polish soldiers were actually german ones, disguised with polish military clothes.)

They invented plot points : 1/ illegitimate polish attack, 2/ legitimate german revenge – a mini-script which was supposed to contradict the previous unbearable story of german chaos after they lost World War I. Hitler was one of the anonymous losers, and nazis were a whole army of losers.

The plot point 1 of the fake polish attack gave motivation for their audience to justify plot point 2 – revenge after Germany had lost WWI.

Hitler’s plan worked well, it was the catalyst of a long fight, ended by the destruction of nazism.

Doesn’t it remind you of something ? Those fantastic “massive destruction weapons”, that nobody ever found anywhere in Irak ? And muslim terrorists everywhere in the third world, after the disappearance of the traditional russian/communist ennemies ?

Commercial (and anti-commercial)

Nonsense ad for art – all in progressive info revelation : Spitting in the pool for art

It’s hard to advertise for culture. Why ? Because people don’t necessarily imagine a museum as a place for fun. In an ad for culture, you can’t be fun as you can be for a soda or a rockstar. You can’t be superficial or unimaginative, because then the ad would be under the level required by the audience expectations (who can beat all the genius works stored in an art museum???)

A solution here is to use nonsense, to give a very smart model of the pleasure we take to art, through a shocking metaphor transformed into an incredible realistic set of scenes.

The sophistication of the metaphor is balanced by the quasi-vulgar, emotionnally antagonistic theme of « spitting in a pool and diving into it » (message : that’s what art does).


Subverting Symbols : Greenpeace campain against Nestle’s Kit-Kat

Campaign after campaign, Kit-Kat was installed in the audience’s representations as a nice product in case of sweet hunger. The message of their ads was about how irresistible a Kit-Kat was to eat. The deep message was a command : consume it. The motivation of the author was: buy it so I can sell it and make profit of it.

Greenpeace told this story a different way.

They showed a hungry employee needing a « Kit-Kat break », opening a Kit-Kat bar, cracking one, but instead of chocolate it’s a bloody gorilla finger, which is disgusting, opponed to chocolate. We understand when we’re told that it’s about the destruction of forests where gorillas lived in Indonesia, to plant oil for Nestle’s products instead. That’s why eating chocolate = killing gorillas. The message is the contrary than Kit-Kat’s : DON’T buy it, boycott Nestle who is responsible, force them to save forests where gorillas leave. More deeply, we know it’s a Greenpeace campaign, whose message is about getting responsible for what we do to nature. Here the motivation is humanistic.


You can scenarize nearly everything…

Slow-motion sneezing… against the spreading of influenza

It looks like the mini-story of 4 characters, 2 women, 2 men, sneezing in slow-motion.

Surprise in the end : it’s not opera, it’s not about those 4 characters, the real message is a medical, public advertisement to tell people to “get a flu shot” against influenza. 😀 Highly surprising, thus highly effective.


Nature in time-lapse

Here it’s just the story of nature itself, with no drama, no conflict, no dramatic tension, only the process of “being wonderful”. Isn’t that great? Don’t we feel like loving and taking car of nature, after we have seen this video? Yet, nobody told us to. The beauty just leads us to a feeling (love of nature) which leads us to an idea (taking care of nature).


Let’s change History.

Let’s tell stories.


Did you like this page?
[Total: 0 Average: 0]