Living in “La La Land” Isn’t a Bad Thing

*** Warning, may contain spoilers for La La Land ***

Sometimes, La La Land is the most comfortable place to be. It’s exciting and it’s full of possibilities. In La La Land, I am invincible. I am like Sebastian and Mia of the latest Hollywood dreamland that you’ve probably heard about.

Sebastian, a talented Jazz pianist and aspiring Jazz club owner, and Mia, an aspiring Hollywood actress, are just that: aspiring.

Both immensely talented, they immerse themselves in their passions, unrelenting in their pursuits. They meet and spur one another on, but as the film progresses, Sebastian loses focus and Mia gives up. By the end, you’re wiping away tears in the realisation that in the pursuit of achieving your dreams, times will get tough and you’re going to have to give things up.

When you’ve worked hard for so long and you’ve finally seen ‘success’, has all of the hard work paid off?

I suppose the response would rely upon your motive. Why do you want to achieve you dream? If it’s solely for fame and fortune, you will never be fulfilled.

This is the story of La La Land. If your motive is fuelled by having a story to tell, a message to get across, a pursuit of justice, or a piece of love, hope and happiness to add to our darkening world, here are three reasons why you should stay in La La Land and see those dreams realised.

1. You learn what your limits are and how to push them.

When you’re young, there’s a belief that you can do anything. Society sort of pushes this notion on us and – like with anything – this can see both positive and negative repercussions. When it comes to knowing your limits within a ‘pursuit-of-dreams’ context, potential roadblocks may be insecurities about being creative enough, interesting enough, artistic enough and conforming to the interests of others.

Then there are automatic boundaries and limits within creative industries that most are afraid to push. I don’t know about you, but the most fascinating artistic products I’ve seen have come from a disregard for these boundaries, and rather, an adherence to personal love and passion for a certain idea or pursuit.

It’s my belief that you won’t reach any limits if you are pursuing your dream from within a pure place. If you are creating things that YOU like, that YOU find interesting, because YOU love doing it, because YOU believe in what you are creating, then what limits will you meet?

“People like what other people are passionate about.” In this way, you truly can’t fail.

A filmmaker I know often asks himself this question: If I know that I will never get famous from this or make any money from this, would I still do it?

Answering this question with candor is no easy task.

2. You learn to deal with failure.

When you believe you have a story to tell and that this story needs to be heard by the masses, in your attempts, you will likely find the masses don’t want to hear it. There are many cliches that capture the sentiment of ‘not giving up’, though, isn’t this easier said than done?

La La Land explores the concept of ‘failure’ in depth. Sebastian holds tight to his dream of keeping pure Jazz around through his club, however doesn’t seem to be working very hard to get to that point. Eventually, he settles for a job many would deem as a ‘great success’, but it isn’t his success. He places his dream in the pipeline because this job is successful.

In this way, he has failed.

Alternately, Mia attends audition after audition and receives rejection after rejection. After overhearing some harsh comments regarding her self-written and performed play, she is tired of failing and gives up altogether. “It all hurts a little too much.”

In the pursuit of your dreams, you will and should experience failure to some degree. How else do you learn and grow? How else do you develop strength and resilience?

I’ve heard it said that nothing good ever comes easy, and why should it?

For myself, I carry many dreams, and I haven’t exactly tried to achieve any of them. I am very afraid of failing. I care too much of how others perceive me and I am not always pure in my intent for why I want to see my dreams realised. When I learn to define my own success, then I can define my failures.

3. You become a part of something that is bigger than yourself.

The dreamers add colour to our world. Their optimism is necessary. Through them we see our future; it is hopeful and bright.

“Madness is the key/it gives us new colours to see.”

For myself, I endeavour to surround myself with other dreamers. In this way, we can inspire each other, and further, collaborate on ideas. As dreamers, we are more willing to hear and accept one another, because we need that for ourselves. We are more willing to encourage the ‘crazy’ ideas, because we have those ourselves.

The imagination is sacred. The ideas that are born out of it genuinely have the power to change the world. Imagine what could be achieved when you have a myriad of minds working together?

Critics, namely Liza Batkin at Broadly, have described La La Land as “dangerously optimistic” and that “the sort of hope that [it] inspires is, ultimately, narcissistic and exceptionalist,” because apparently, pursuing careers rather than dreams is less detrimental to society, not to mention a little selfish.

The ones who look down on dreamers don’t seem to realise they are consuming the fruits of dreams every single day. There is a demand for this fruit, so if you are a dreamer, you had better produce it! Not for ‘them’, though, even though “that’s why they need us”.

Link to Liza Batkin’s review found at


  • Hayley McGarvie is a teacher from Australia. In her spare time she likes to listen to True Crime podcasts and talk to people about their aspirations.


    You May Also Like

    Spotlight On the Classics – A Streetcar Named Desire

    Both the play and the film adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire will always ...

    Moana – A Princess Without a Prince Charming

    We are in for a ride with Disney’s newest animation movie, Moana. To all ...

    DC Movies Suck, Long Live Marvel!


    Excuse Me, Your Worldview Is Showing

    As independent filmmakers we put ourselves into our work, including our worldview, so is ...

    If Beale Street Could Talk: A Trailer You Need To See!

    Watch this movie! If Beale Street Could Talk doesn’t capture your heart, I don’t ...

    Don't want to miss a thing?

    Subscribe and join our creative community to keep updated with our weekly-ish* Newsletter from The Independent Initiative.

    *We're filmmakers, sometimes we're out filming something, on those weeks the newsletters might be more irregular. Follow The Initiative Production Company (theInitiativePro) on your favorite social media to stay the most up to date on our current productions