|A Call to Fellow Storytellers|
December 7, 2013
Someone trying to justify their sexual assault by saying ďLook what she was wearing. She wanted it,Ē is like seeing a man dressed in a baseball uniform walking down the street and throwing a baseball at him which smashes him in the side of the head, killing him, and saying ďHe was wearing a baseball uniform. He should have expected a baseball anytime.Ē People want to be sexy. They want to be pretty or handsome. They want to engage in consensual sexual activities. What they donít want is to have someone follow them down an alleyway and to be forced to engage sexually.
If the baseball player had been approached and asked if he wanted to play a game the player would either say yes in which case the game would be played using agreed upon rules. If the rules are broken the game is called off. If the player says no then his wishes should be respected and one should simply walk away. The analogy seems absurd but so does the way our culture treats sexual assault/harassment. In our society it always seems like itís the victims fault. The message is often ďDonít dress like a slutĒ when it should be ďDonít rape people.Ē
I have encountered several people (both men and women) who have shared their stories of sexual assault with me and each time it hurts. Rarely do I say anything. What can one say? Well there are many facets of our society that need to change in order to change how we perceive and handle sexual assault there is one I can speak to personally, one I can plead with as a fellow: the storytellers.
I think sometimes storytellers underestimate how much their works affect society. But we have to remember that as people experience our creations some of them walk away with a different perspective on things. Often itís an easy thing to overlook. When youíre a young storyteller you just want people to notice. Are my characters believable? Howís the dialogue? Does the plot make sense? And depending on what medium youíre working in you have so many other things to worry about from filming permits to programming languages. We overlook the effects our works have on others.
But as much as people turn to things like religion to guide them in life, without realizing it they rely on us so much more. I think of all the people who were inspired and shaped by things like Star Trek, Doctor Who, Star Wars, or Harry Potter and am in awe at the power that storytellers have over how people see the world1. So here is my plea: fellow storytellers help change peopleís perspective on sexual assault.
As storytellers we need to craft stories that share the realities of the victims. We need to not treat rape as that thing the villain does to show heís evil. We need craft characters that are comfortable being sexual without simply being sexual objects. Sexual assault should not be treated as a convenient plot point but as an integral part of the emotional development of the character. It should not be a stock scene in ďtorture porn.Ē
Why am I writing any of this? Partly itís because Iím tired. Iím tired of hearing the stories from the wonderful people I meet. Iím tired of reading the news stories. Iím tired of hearing the twisted logic behind the excuses the perpetrators give for their crimes. Iím tired of courts and other authority figures that rarely do anything. And part of it is I invest myself in subcultures where sexism and sexual assault/harassment takes place regularly. I want these things to improve. I want the world to improve.
As storytellers we have brought joy to people, we have brought tears to their eyes, and we have brought some to their knees. Iím not under some delusion that these things will change overnight. Iím not the only person saying such things or pushing for change but itís about collective momentum. As long as people keep speaking up and joining the fight to change things then they will. As storytellers we have to remember the kind of power we have to shape peopleís perspectives and use it to help make the world a better place.
1. I just want to make a couple more side notes on how storytellers affect people. In the anthology House and Philosophy one of the essays mentions first year medical students coming in with a House like attitude. A man like House makes for great drama but less so for practical medical practice. There is also the issue that legal shows like Law & Order have created false expectations for people. Juries expect some sort of confession or a 100% airtight piece of evidence making it harder to obtain a guilty verdict in some cases.
|V/H/S 2 Movie Review |
July 9, 2013
|There is a new review up for the horror anthology movie V/H/S 2.|
|What was the point?|
July 6, 2013
I havenít seen World War Z yet and I have no plans to see it in the near future. I canít say if itís a bad movie or not. It does kind of look like an interesting movie but there isnít enough of a catch to set it apart from other recent zombie movies. My only question/concern is why in the hell did the studio buy the rights to the book if they werenít going to do jack shit with it?
If you havenít read World War Z by Max Brooks then I highly recommend you go pick up a copy and read it. Itís not your usual zombie narrative. Instead the book follows people after the zombies have caused all the havoc. The narrative is presented as a series of interviews with survivors of the zombie hordes. Interview topics range from political responses to small community survival. It is refreshing to read a different approach to the zombie genre.
From what Iíve heard the movie just follows Brad Pitt around as he runs from zombies and blows stuff up. The only similarity between the book and the movie is the title. I donít have a problem with changes when a story moves between mediums but you always expect there to be core similarities. The Harry Potter movies still had the same characters and plot structure with tweaks here and there for the movies. The Resident Evil movies still had the T-Virus, undead nightmares, and the Umbrella Corporation. The Silent Hill movie had a lot of recognizable monsters from the games, the town, a crazy cult, and of course Pyramid Head. Despite whatever changes these movie adaptations made they still took elements from the source material and used them. Thatís the whole point of buying the rights is so you can pick all the stuff you want to use and make something. But what does the movie World War Z have in common with the book: zombies and the title.
I almost wonder if it would have been cheaper to just make a zombie movie with Brad Pitt and title it something different. Was it really worth the money to buy the rights just to use the title? Marketing wise it has sort of backfired. Everyone who has read the book either thinks the movie is shit or refuse to see it because itís so different from the book. All those people probably wouldnít have cared if it was just another zombie movie. But all those potential fans are turned off because of the little to no relation to the book. Itís really kind of sad in the end. The studio wasted money on something they didnít really need. Also a truer adaptation of the book would have been amazing. Oh well their loss I guess.
On a side note this is how I feel around sports conversations:
|The Kite Review|
May 22, 2013
|There's a new review up for the short adventure game The Kite.|
|It's Not My Job To Make You Feel Happy, It's My Job To Tell You A Story|
April 29, 2013
Once in a while Iíll see someone criticize a story because itís depressing or has a sad ending. The criticism goes beyond I donít like to read sad things to this story sucks because it makes me feel sad. Let me tell you something about my job as a storyteller: it is not my job to make you happy it is my job to tell you a story. I donít have a problem with people avoiding sad and depressing things, some of us donít like to cry over our fiction but to give it negative marks because of it is ridiculous to me. Judge stories like they should be judged. Are the characters believable (even if theyíre giant jackasses), does the plot logically progress, howís the pace, is the story conveyed effectively depending on the medium, etc.? What you should not judge the quality of a story on is whether it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Stories are reflections of the human condition wrapped in narrative. This includes the good, the bad, the happy times, and the shitty ones. Real life is filled saints and dicks, wondrous moments and tragic ones. Storytellers take license with reality all the time and we exaggerate various elements, all meant to catch the imagination of the audience and hopefully stir meaning and reflection in the audience. But this doesnít mean we should be expected to only deal with the happy stuff. Stories are about exploring everything that it means to be human and how we experience our existence. So Iím not always going to give you happy endings (in fact I prefer melancholy or sad ones) and thereís no way you can make me feel bad about it. Iím going to write characters who are extremely flawed and might not redeem themselves in the end. Iím not going to stuff romances into my stories just to make you go aww. Iíll write stories that will depress the shit out of you. That isnít to say that Iím all about the sad and gloom. Thereíll be stories where everyone lives, where the good guys win, the guy gets the girl, and everyone gets a unicorn. But donít expect it and donít demand it. If you donít like the more depressing stuff thatís fine, youíre not a rainy day type of person. I just ask that you donít say a story sucks just because it makes you sad.