Slumdog Millionaire: A Lie?

Robert McKee, Hollywood screenwriting guru, hates Slumdog Millionaire as a business model for movies. In an interview in Singapore, he says the flick

“like all popular culture, is based upon a lie that life is not what it seems to be, that it is full of hope and optimism….”


Slumdog Millionaire is a hideous lie. When you get artists in countries such as Japan who are serious and sophisticated, they won’t lie. The (film) business model that you are proposing is based on the ability to lie. That is how you reach the mass audience.”

His conclusion:

“Hollywood, as an industry and business, is based upon the myth that everything will turn out for the best, that good triumphs evil, that hard work and perseverance will pay off, and that everyone has a soul mate. Hollywood as an industry is based upon a lie. All popular culture is based upon a lie that life is not what it seems to be, that it is full of hope and optimism.”

“Do we seriously want to encourage film cultures around the world to continue telling that lie?” More here

I know, we all know movies are pretend. And only $10.

But – I bet he’d likely say the same about the self help and ‘opportunity’ industries. That they’re both “based on a lie and full of hope and optimism, which rarely happens in real life.”

But we all love the happy endings, even if they are not true for 99% of us. Maybe we’re just late bloomers. Maybe we just like to live vicariously through the magical characters in the movies, or in MLM or Internet Marketing, who sound “just like us.” (That’s a skill gurus learn to develop early – to give you the impression they’re ‘just like you.’ And in some ways they are.)

What to do?

Movie fantasies aside, whatever you devote yourself to – to find your financial success – choose something first that matters to you. As in, you’d do it anyway because you’re almost called to do it. Then, remind yourself each day: “I cannot control the actions of others. But I will keep on keeping on because this matters to me.” Maybe you will score big, maybe you won’t. It’s not all about you. It’s also about this:

“We vastly underestimate the extent to which success happens because of things the individual has nothing to do with.” See here.

There might be a way to reduce the pain if your results are not what you wished for. Next.

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • I believe more than a lie, people expect a lot with minimum effort. Some stories might sound like the winning participant didn't do much and everything landed on his/her lap but that's very far from the truth in real life.

    I joined Stampin' Up because I like making cards and it shows on my blogs, yet I don't go around saying to people 'Look at me I'm a great success', I just keep doing what I like doing and hopefully people who like what I'm doing will approach me. I honestly thought I wouldn't sell anything and that I would have to meet the quarterly minimum commitment just buying for myself. I was suprised that people contacted me to order from me and also that someone even approached me because he was in a similar situation and probably will join up.

    I think people like what's familiar to them and when they see someone who's similar to their value or what they represent then they decide 'I can do that too'. So not showing all the flash and wealth at the end is actually a silver lining as very successful people might seem daunting and 'unreachable' ….the regular Joe might have more luck attracting a few repeat customers than the wonderfully sleek salesman !

  • Great post, Kim!
    Great advice –
    ….whatever you devote yourself to – to find your financial success – choose something first that matters to you. As in, you'd do it anyway because you're almost called to do it.

    When I focus on following my dreams and don't get distracted, life just flows. It is when I get so many newsletters from "gurus" and I feel I should be doing what they are doing, that I get distracted and overwhelmed. I have to work hard to keep my life and ambitions simple and focused.

    Thanks for the thoughts, Kim.

    Also – I liked this quote:
    We vastly underestimate the extent to which success happens because of things the individual has nothing to do with."

  • Mr. Cup Half-Empty is correct, but not because of "mysterious things the individual has nothing to do with."

    There is nothing that happens to us in our lives that we, the individual, have nothing do with. To believe that is to believe we are at the mercy of outer circumstances. So much has been written that proves it's not true that it boggles the mind how prevalent this belief still is in our society and on the planet….

    If you talk with great successes in sports like Wayne Gretsky for instance, he will tell why he is so good. He practices, and he skates to where to puck is going to be. Whenever Tiger Woods sees his reflection, he says "I love you." Not because he is vain, but because he understands that he (we all) have more than a physical body. We have the energy the creates worlds within us, but we lack the training needed to tap into it. Schools don't teach it, the churches cut it out of their sanctioned writings. And we are left feeling disconnected and confused and willing to be led.

    Dare to lead, and start with your own life! Unconditional love is the key and Tiger Woods knows that. So does everyone who loves what they do – no surprise there. (I'm NOT talking about love of the sentimental Hollywood variety, which is conditional love.)

    But don't take my word for it, do some research on your own. A great book to start with if you're very skeptical, is called "The Biology of Belief "by Bruce Lipton, PhD. It is scientifically based (no hoo-haw) and might change your life forever like it did mine. If you prefer fiction, get "The Lost Symbol", Dan Brown's latest.

    With love,


    Lipton also just published "Spontaneous Evolution" which is another life-changer:-) But read his other one first!

    Your ad to millions in minutes for pennies per click: Learn to advertise on cell phones.

  • Get a life, Robert. Slumdog Millionaire is just a story. It follows a tried and true formula, and it's pretty well done. I enjoyed the movie. I know it's not real. It didn't give me any false expectations.

    McKee's statement that "all popular culture is based upon a lie…" is a little too sweeping for me.

    I agree with you Kim, "to find your financial success – choose something first that matters to you." And keep on keeping on.

  • Kim:

    Just wondering are you implying that not all will succeed?,,,And I am refering to the workers, doers, those who learn & take action,,,do you mean some of these proactive folks?

    Sure Not all of us will make 'Frank Kern' $$ & yet wouldn't making a consistent 300-500 bucks a month be 'Success',,,why heck I'd be happy if I replaced my JOB income (I am 1/2 way there after years of grinding:-))

    I guess one must define what success means to them.

    Matt Geib

  • Hi Kim,

    Wow! Mr. McKee must have had a cockaroach in his morning cereal.

    Life if full of success stories that are documented. It is not a lie, they happen all the time.Perhaps the measures used occasionally to explain them fall short.

    McKee does make a point with which I do sadly agree. In Hollywood and other mass media it seems it has become fashionable and comical to lie…..yah, that's the ticket. I wonder what message this practice sends to our impressionable youth?

    Wishing You Plenty To Live,
    Tom Doiron

  • Matt —

    Yes, so right, everyone must define his or her success. It's harder to accept $300-500/mo – a VERY good and already rare thing among MLMers, if one compares oneself to the even more rare one who earns $15,000/mo or more per month.

    Insisting on comparing yourself to extremely rare successes (like Frank) breeds such dissatisfaction with oneself that many folks often give up. Comparison to those very rare others who hold themselves up as just "a regular guy like you" creates lots of misery and loss of self-esteem – for too many folks.

    Moral – do not compare your results to anyone else. You do not know enough about what made that person successful.

    Plus you end up chasing only the money – and that can lead to bad things.


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