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Green Room - Week 32 - Day 7

If your name is still on this list: http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/821385.html
You need to have your entries in by TONIGHT AT 8PM EST!! http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/820156.html


Are you Charlie?

I've seen all sorts of reactions from the killing in France yesterday - everywhere from horrified to "The magazine was offensive toward minorities. That was the consequence."


Or is the consequence of the things you say and do (especially in the context of satire) that some people might not like it and *say something* about it? Or is it something where you should be asking "Am I prepared to die over this?"

Some really big questions for creative folks... what creative endeavor are you willing to put your mark on and say "yeah, this is what I'm about" in a world where death could be the result (Hopefully not, but there is certainly a lot more negative public reaction than has been the case) - and how does that shape what it is you are creating?


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 8th, 2015 04:54 pm (UTC)
*insert fart joke here*
Jan. 8th, 2015 05:06 pm (UTC)
Those are some heavy thoughts for first thing in the morning.

Can we start with a virtual breakfast?
Jan. 8th, 2015 05:07 pm (UTC)
Virtual breakfast > fart joke
Jan. 8th, 2015 05:08 pm (UTC)
Not usually! I just happen to be really hungry at the moment. :)
Jan. 8th, 2015 05:14 pm (UTC)
If you eat enough, the jokes will come on their own! :)
Jan. 8th, 2015 05:51 pm (UTC)
I'm 6 months pregnant. I don't need to eat for the jokes to find me!
Jan. 8th, 2015 07:55 pm (UTC)
Jan. 8th, 2015 11:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you!! :)
Jan. 8th, 2015 05:08 pm (UTC)
Nous sommes Charlie (un peu).
George Bernard Shaw once refuted the Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,") by saying, "Not everyone may have the same tastes as you." I didn't agree with much that the magazine did, but they were within their own rights to publish as they wanted. It's their magazine and their message. Why else would they be doing it?

There's a difference, though, between an audience voting with its dollars and overriding the option of public opinion by killing the messenger. That moves beyond "it was offensive" into a tyranny of opinion.

It's something Americans take for granted, but it does happen everywhere. (John Lennon and Marvin Gaye come to mind.) It's not something isolated and separated from us. To speak an opinion is to risk provoking a reaction. Period. We hope it's good, but it may not be. It comes with the territory of the creative. And if you're falling back to something false or milquetoast for safety's sake, then what's the point of you?

Tell the true stories. Do what you really believe. Stand by your art, whether it's monthly satire or Lifetime TV movies or classical opera or haiku or stained glass sculptures.

Jan. 8th, 2015 05:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Nous sommes Charlie (un peu).
The Marvin Gaye reference confused me. Wasn't that "family drama" over an insurance policy (if memory serves - just checked, yep, insurance policy) with his Dad?

Edited at 2015-01-08 05:20 pm (UTC)
Jan. 8th, 2015 07:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Nous sommes Charlie (un peu).
Y'know, I'd always heard that it was partially related to that difference in aesthetic (ministry vs. Motown), but I do appear to be in error on that point. (Or, at least, it's not being cited anywhere I can find.) Dangers of hearsay illustrated.

And, naturally, you've responded, so I can't edit. ;-)

So I guess I'd reframe the citation as, "Differences of opinion escalate in America, too, artistic or not, ideological or not. Now it's one of the dangers of stepping outside your house in the first place."
Jan. 8th, 2015 08:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Nous sommes Charlie (un peu).
I agree with all of the other stuff.

I just can't let a Marvin Gaye reference go by without responding to it. :)

Jan. 8th, 2015 06:51 pm (UTC)
I get confused by the "That was the consequence" reaction, honestly. Yes, it was a consequence, but for cryin' out loud, is this a consequence we're willing to say is reasonable or expected? We're (allegedly) civilized people, and the consequences of offensive speech range from boycotts to more speech against to protests and beyond. The fact that violence is considered just one of those things that can happen if you say shit people don't like, well... that's not cool. And I think it's rather strongly implied that oh those people got offended and so that's what happens, you shouldn't expect more from those people, but that's an incredibly offensive concept in and of itself and carries so much bullshit cultural baggage that I can't even begin to unpack.

Anyway. Yes. That sucked. I'm sad and angry about it. Also sad and angry about the NAACP bombing in Colorado.

"what creative endeavor are you willing to put your mark on and say "yeah, this is what I'm about" in a world where death could be the result"

Words are where all my creative power goes - I mean, I make lots of things, but I feel like stories (in general and also in specific the ones I write, as opposed to say, stuff I crochet) have the most ability to change the world, change a mind, offend someone, scare someone, evoke emotion, and make things happen. They are what I am about, one thousand percent. I seriously doubt anyone is going to get upset over my weird little tales (it seems oddly proud to say that they even could evoke that sort of response) but all fiction is, to some small degree at least, both political and personal. I stand by my politics. I'm always willing to listen if someone says "hey, you did this wrong" or "have you considered this?", but I won't accept shaming or threats instead of genuine efforts at communication. I sincerely believe that the worlds we make with words - even worlds that never could exist - show a lot about the world that is and the world we want to live in. We write fiction with diverse characters, from a range of experiences and walks of life, and we make it easier for people to see themselves in the things they read.

(I've been thinking a lot about people who refuse to put women or people of color in their fantasy battle scenes because it's "unrealistic". You know, along with the super real wizards and anatomically impossible dragons and the feudalism and the economies based entirely on gold with no mining happening. When we imagine things differently - different structures of government, different abilities of people, different class dynamics and racial systems and ways of approaching gender and sexuality - we make it more and more possible for the world we're in to be different. Imagination is a weapon. We should be wielding it to good effect, not just to prop up the status quo and say "oh well of course ladies are going to get raped constantly in this fantasy book. That's what happens, am I right?". Anyway. This has been a rather divergent rant. Sorry 'bout that.)

Edited at 2015-01-08 06:53 pm (UTC)
Jan. 8th, 2015 06:58 pm (UTC)
"but I won't accept shaming "

If you don't want shaming - turn things in early!!! :)
Jan. 8th, 2015 07:05 pm (UTC)
Trust me, I try! I prefer to be shameless all around. ;)
Jan. 8th, 2015 08:05 pm (UTC)
"And I think it's rather strongly implied that oh those people got offended and so that's what happens, you shouldn't expect more from those people, but that's an incredibly offensive concept in and of itself and carries so much bullshit cultural baggage that I can't even begin to unpack."

Thank you for putting words around something I was feeling in my gut (although I only know the barest barest details, thanks to my days looking like work-dinner-tuba-walk-shower-LJ Idol until 1am-fall into bed).

And I loved your divergent rant.
Jan. 8th, 2015 09:17 pm (UTC)
Words can change the world. We have to be willing to put them into action too, I think.

The dehumanization/debasement of other cultures has been going on since the ages too. Still haven't figured out how to change that, except to love and not harm as many people as I come in contact with.

The Hopi said it best

"Strive to understand all, and harm none."

Jan. 8th, 2015 09:03 pm (UTC)
Satire is really humor telling the truth. Truth makes people uncomfortable, especially when it's an ugly truth. Should the Satirist die for pointing out said truth? No.

Journalists, the good ones, are being muzzled, jailed, beheaded and shot. The others are selling propaganda and obfuscations. Without our satirists most wouldn't even have a clue as to what the truth is. Satire keeps journalism honest. (INMO)

Then there is also this to think about, creative types, satirists, philosophers, writers, and scientists have all been persecuted through the ages. The number one cause... religion.
Jan. 8th, 2015 09:08 pm (UTC)
Considering my career has had its share of threats (including the rapist freed from prison who used to call me late at night because my name was on the articles about him, and the thwarted city council candidate who stalked me after I wrote about her making bomb threats against state officials), my "creative" or free time is not as seriously spent. Still, I don't like being told what to think or who I can make fun of/criticize. The only reason I don't put my real name on what I say on the Internet is because there's still a career penalty to a lot of what I do online (i.e., my fanfic, fandom engagement, etc.) and I don't want anything I do under this name to be in any way traceable to my real name. So I don't have my real name online for anything other than work-related materials. :-)

Edited at 2015-01-08 09:10 pm (UTC)
Jan. 8th, 2015 09:54 pm (UTC)
After a conversation with someone on the subject of humor, I found myself pondering the "comedy should always punch up" and where that notion came from.

(I can find a Ricky Gervais reference - which is funny given how often he doesn't... a Chris Rock reference to "funny vs mean" that has the general idea but not the words... and Ellen pretty much saying that in the context of her wanting to say nice things about people and how if you punch down you are a bully. Which of course, everyone compared to *Ellen* is pretty much a bully. :D)

Which means I need to dig deeper - but I figured I would make use of the internet and ask you folks!

Does anyone remember the first place they heard it?

Jan. 8th, 2015 11:21 pm (UTC)
"Punching Up" is a comedic rule that has been around since the first caveperson slipped on a banana peel. Here's a nice explanation -

Punching down is a concept in which you’re assumed to have a measurable level of power and you’re looking for a fight. Now, you can either go after the big guy who might hurt you, or go after the little guy who has absolutely no shot. Either way, you’ve picked a fight, but one fight is remarkably more noble and worthwhile than the other. Going after the big guy, punching up, is an act of nobility. Going after the little guy, punching down, is an act of bullying.

Essentially, it's better intellectual comedy if one talks in generalities which are then filtered through the listener/watcher/reader's individual experience. We tend to think of comedy in which folks are named to be gauche and tacky. And offensive.

Satire is tricky tricky business. And Charlie knew they were furiously upsetting extremists. But they are in the business of upsetting folks.

I don't think the massacre has a thing to do with free speech or whether or not satirists need protection.
Jan. 9th, 2015 01:31 am (UTC)
It's interesting, because in talking with friends in the business, or who have followed comedy intensely for decades - the earliest they remember hearing the actual phrase is 3 years ago.

(I have people looking into it though to see if it may have been around longer than that)

The *principle* perhaps - but not the actual phrase. Just interested in where it came from, because it doesn't *sound* like a comedy thing. Sounds more like an academic application toward comedy and that fascinates me.

Edited at 2015-01-09 01:32 am (UTC)
Jan. 9th, 2015 01:34 am (UTC)
Sorry, G! I completely misunderstood what you were asking! duh.

*nods* Yes, the phrasing is contemporary....I was referring to the principle.

Academic interpretation of comedy is centuries old, though.

Edited at 2015-01-09 01:43 am (UTC)
Jan. 8th, 2015 10:31 pm (UTC)
I'm going to reserve my thoughts on what happened in France. It's not that I'm secretive, I just know I'm going to need to think long and carefully about it if I want to have anything valuable to say, and I haven't quite had the chance to do that yet.

I'm also going to reign in my gushing about creativity and WHAT IT ALL MEANS TO ME, because, uh...it's a lot. Ain't nobody got time for it, least of all me.

Also maybe I'll do a nonfiction entry on just that, if I get the chance.

On a lighter note, I'm looking forward to this round starting in earnest. I've missed commenting and reading other people's comments and generally being sociable around here. :3
Jan. 8th, 2015 11:32 pm (UTC)
Actually that's pretty easy for me.

If anyone gets upset enough about something that I write that they feel the need to kill me, I'll die if I can't escape it.

Because really, why would I want to live on the same planet as people who would violently kill another living being over drawings or writing anyway? If I have to live with such a species, I'm at least gonna say what I want about it until they take me out.
Jan. 9th, 2015 01:32 am (UTC)
I'm a white male American, nothing I ever make is going to get me killed, fantasizing that the stuff I do is important enough to incite people to violence is just masturbation.

(I mean, I guess possibly I could get killed in Russia like many homosexual artists over the years? Though I'd just as soon get killed for hitting on the wrong person, or something, it's unimportant what I do. Besides, I doubt anybody is going to care what some foreigner is getting up to.)
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )


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