Friday, May 30, 2008

Beware the Writers

I had this epiphany the other day. I was reading Behind the Screen: Hollywood Insiders on Faith, Film, and Culture, a book compiled of essays by members of Act One. Fascinating stuff. Craig Deitweiler's chapter, "Opportunity Lost," talks about how Christians were presented with the opportunity to connect with Hollywood with The Passion of the Christ. Instead, lines were drawn in the sand, and bitterness grew between the Christian camps on the outside, and the Jews on the inside.

After recounting a bit of film history, Deitweiler points out that a lot of Hollywood, in past and present, is run by Jews. Many of those Jews have valid chips on their shoulders from wrongs committed by Gentiles - pogroms, HUAC blacklistings, etc. So it makes sense when anti-Christian sentiment crops up in TV and movies from time to time; it's a writer's reaction to an injustice.

This correlated with a conclusion I drew a few years ago. My last summer in college, I took a lit class that presented material written by American women in the 19th and 20th centuries. We read (in a short time, I might add), Harriet Beacher Stowe, Kate Chopin, Sarah Orne Jewett and Nella Larsen. I noticed that none of these women were particularly kind to men; men were often portrayed as being weak and easily swayed by money or power. Women, on the other hand, were often strong, moral, and maternal. Those who weren't usually came to a bad end (Edna in Chopin's The Awakening).

But the male characters often bore the brunt of the criticism. And why wouldn't they? Until the 20th century, women were not encouraged to write. Many of them published under male pen names or remained anonymous (Jane Austen published Sense and Sensibility under the phrase "By a Lady") to get past the male gatekeepers of publishing.

Generations later, there shouldn't be any surprise that men in media are so often portrayed as weak, moronic thugs. Women writers were repressed, modern writers are still angry.

This is why you should be very careful with the writers. On the outside, we may be slightly disorganized, frumpy, and less hip than the actors, graphic designers, directors, and other people who create our media.

However, without the written material, there isn't much to act, design, or direct (moment of silent recognition for heinous amounts reality TV we endured during the WGA strike). Writers control a lot. We're also very sensitive individuals.

So be nice, or you may set off a series a cataclysmic reactions the likes of which the media world has certainly seen before.

P.S. For more information about Act One and its programs, click

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