Apologizing for Gay Slurs

Yet another celebrity creature is apologizing for a gay slur.

I almost don’t want to link to the article in question, because, well, it happens often enough that who it is this week, doesn’t even matter to the discussion.

“I have lots of XYZ friends” is often the lament offered as proof that the person at issue isn’t really prejudiced, they just didn’t think before they spoke.

Perhaps it’s time for people to consider that careless and thoughtless speech is revealing of your character. It speaks to lazy thinking and self absorption above all else, but I do not believe that it necessarily reveals any prejudice on the part of the speaker.

Unless you are Mel Gibson, because seriously, that level of conspiracy paranoia and historical anti-semitism runs deep, although, I was always mystified why Gibson’s “sugartits” comment to the female officer went unremarked upon in the media. Jew bashing is appalling but blatant sexism is apparently still okay.

I just don’t think that it serves the gay community or the cause of equality when GLAAD issues hand slapping against every celebrity who’s careless with words. Especially calling for someone to be fired, because unless the person is in a position of authority and trust over other people, it’s an extreme reaction.

Celebrities are not responsible for the safety and well being of anyone – however, politicians, the courts, schools, employers – these people are responsible – have a fiduciary duty in fact – towards other people who are vulnerable and for whom bigoted attitudes go a long way to undermining and harming people.

People say dumb things, forget where they are, that the microphone is on and that they aren’t with their friends who knows that they are decent and non-bigotted.

We need to let them apologize for stupidity and all move on. Frankly, it’s far more serious to deal with politicians who have the ability to create and sign legislation into law, and policing the language of celebrities, doesn’t help equality. It just ends up seeming insecure and whiney.

Vigilance, but with a eye on the larger goals.

We need to start distinguishing between lazy thoughtlessness, for example “That’s so gay” and things like Mel Gibson says – “the ass is for shitting.” Something that’s not even true of straight people, never mind the revealing of his homophobia in a manner he expected to be applauded and taken as normal.

Does the speaker beleive that what they are saying is what other people think – like somehow, saying bigotted things is somehow brave, bold or honest.

When really, most people who assert that they are Telling It Like It Is are really saying how they would like it to be, which is generally unpleasant for any group of people they don’t like and don’t think that the rest of the people should tolerate.

I think that might be the most horrifying idea, that we should have to tolerate Them.

When I look at the last half of the above line, the idea that anyone would think that any group of people is so loathsome that even co-existance isn’t a given, that effort must be made to tolerate them in the midst of all of humanity, why do Those People have to be included….

Honestly, I don’t get it. I do not get disliking or fearing groups – or individuals of said groups – because they are different appearing or acting or dressing or behaving.

I don’t understand why some people are so bothered that other people live and think differently than they do. Conformity is the antitheses of humanity that is so adaptive to every environmental niche, with widely divergent cultures and traditions, why does any one have to be better?

There seems to be so little happiness in the world, how can anyone begrudge anyone for finding happiness?


Unique Arena with Universal Appeal

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing and storytelling – coming to a very different understanding than the Syd Field plot point structure that I previously had.

Writing and telling stories is about human experience, condition and potential. No matter how much action or plot devices are employed to happen to the characters, stories are about people, what choices they make with the information they have at the time and what regrets or alternative choices they make when they learn more through the process of story advancement.

The best stories are in a unique arena but deal with universal human conditions.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding could have been Ukrainian, Indian, any group really, since it was about a woman in a given culture who had expectations of her that she couldn’t comply to and be a happy fulfilled person, she had to find her own way – which was to not stay within the boundaries of her family’s culture, but were within the mainstream of her society and her character (no coming out as a lesbian or turning into a drug user, character’s actions arise from the character’s personality and goals) – marriage to a cultural outsider, but marriage nonetheless and along the way, self esteem and self valuing without taking away from parents and other family.

Whale Rider, the story of a Maori girl caught between the reality of being a socioeconomically marginalized minority in limbo between tradition and modernity, with her traditionalist grandfather grieving for the loss of tradition partly symbolized by having a granddaughter rather than a grandson to carry on the tribal leadership and her modern father, who has a non-Maori girlfriend and an art career in Europe and little time for his daughter. This movie could have been set in any aboriginal culture around the globe where traditional ways, particularly gender roles, are at odds with modernity.

What both of these movies have in common is a person at odds with what’s expected of them within their subculture and mainstream society and their longing to belong in a way that retains their individuality. The longing to belong, to live up to or exceed exceptions, to contribute something uniquely you, is the universal longing that anyone not dead inside can related to.

Tapping into that universality, is the magic of storytelling – to the level that, when used effectively, can change minds. Tom Hanks in Philadelphia, the unfairness of being fired for having AIDs overrode a lot of people’s aversion to gay people and was a landmark movie in that it was one of the first big studio gay movies were the characters were just people who were gay, and no one went crazy, straight or suicidal. The usual endings for gays in straight movies or in cautionary tales…..

The Star Trek universe has endless possibilities to explore.

The original series was originally planned to be a scientific exploration of space and all the possibilities. The network said too cerebral and the show was recast and reset as cowboys playing diplomats in space.

The series alternated episodes of exploration and alien encounters with shipboard diplomatic intrigue. The comedy was broad and the emotions were epic with life at risk – well, for Ensign Expendable, anyway – in every episode – in addition to choosing…NOT..to kill..today, we also chose to live morally, to follow the prime directive, to seek out new and novel, to boldly go, and so on.

Star Trek Next Generation was truer to the original show concept, but with the difference that the ship included families – when you live and work in space, the commute would be killer, so the Enterprise becomes not just home to explorers, warriors and scientists, but a makeover to actually be home, with children and pets, not just a spaceship, but a functional city with all the infrastructure needed. Next Generation, more than the original show, explored what it meant to be human but the quality of our connections to other people, to family and friends, adding a more diplomatic sensibility, more science exploration but no less adventure and conflict; because with families in tow, the loss of the Enterprise becomes a loss of humanity, not just explorers and adventurers – it’s easier to charge around the universe and mix it up with aliens when it’s just you and a lot more challenging when it’s your whole family along for the ride.

Which changes the dynamic not only for the Federation, but reveals something of ourselves to the aliens we encounter – consider it from the alien contact point of view – aren’t you more likely to be diplomatic with people who are adults aboard an armed exploration vessel or with people who have a community of families – the possibilities for cultural exchanges and more meaningful diplomacy increase the more we are willing to show and share of ourselves with others.

Plus, no one can embarrass you as much as family, opening up new possibilities for character exploration than adults alone, not dealing with children or parents.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine occupies the same universe, but instead of Academy elite, the crew was comprised of blue collar administrators working with planetary counterparts from a planet not ready for Federation membership. A planet trying to cling to it’s pastoral roots, complete with caste/feudal social structure and it’s religious interpretation of what the Federation deemed to be work hole aliens who existed in non-linear time. Prophets to the locals and wormhole aliens to the Federation.

Star Trek Voyager returned us to the Academy elite with a prototype ship that, while smaller than the flagship enterprise, was a Yuppie SUV star ship with all kinds of creature comforts and advanced tech – but mashed that up with ragtag ex-Federation rebels and throw them out of the galaxy, leaving them lost in space just trying to get home.

The constant conflict between getting home with Federation values in tact or just getting home at any cost, of having to choose your own people’s interests or an alien population’s interests allowed for highest of drama – the dilemma of morality.

Star Trek’s universe is big enough for any perspective to be used – scientific, bureaucratic, exploration, enforcement – that there are truly endless possibilities for the franchise in a way that retains the freshness and the idealism of the original series, without the fatigue of the Star Wars franchises, which is far more specific character focussed than the possibilities of the universe.

I for one would look forward to a Star Trek show where the main cast is the Temporal Prime Directive Enforcement or where the crew is exploring other kinds of space and dimensions or alternative universes, such as they did in periodic episodes. Even an Earth based show set at Star Fleet Academy and Headquarters, with a political intrigue of opening up diplomatic relations, allies or war with other quadrants of the universe, there’s so much more than the alpha, delta and gamma quadrants.

A sort of Star Trek meets Sliders.

Sometimes it seems that other scifi shows could be developed by taking a Star Trek episode to a bigger extreme – in many ways, Farscape was Star Trek Voyager – only instead of a star ship, it was just one human thrown far away from home in an unfamiliar universe, with the extra hook of earth being current day and woefully behind the other species, technology wise.

I’d love to see a show that uses the concept of the recent Bridesmaid movie and instead is set on an Enterprise type ship, but is about the night shift, the lower level officers who are along for the big adventure, who’s lives depend on command decisions, but who don’t have such immediate access and input at the command level.

Or about a ship who’s mission it is to maintain the time line integrity – we’ve had these characters in time line episodes, but they are certainly series worthy all their own.

As for what kinds of characters could populate the shows – still with the established archetypes, but make character algorithm tweaks.

First, the captain – we’ve had white men, a black man and a white woman.

I’ve never watched Enterprise, largely because I was disappointed by the stepping back before the Kirk Enterprise – Gene Roddenbury’s vision was a future where people could achieve their potential because survival necessities were assured and humans could move beyond the me at the expense of you mentality that pervades and is what the Occupy Wall Street movement is trying to reject and raise awareness of. At least, as far as I can tell.

Stepping back and doing a show before the Federation came into it’s own and dealing with our crappulance of getting to a more noble and productive existence was a misstep for many reasons, but mostly, because it seemed to have been done just to avoid the black woman that was somewhat expected as the next captain.

The decision to step back seems to have been a coddling of sensibilities stuck in the historical attitudes that Star Trek has always stood against. Worse, it was caving into people who aren’t even the audience for the show, much like how the Beauty and the Beast show didn’t show Vincent and Catherine kiss, but somehow, they still had a baby……

I thought that it would be interesting to jump the alternation and skip the black woman and go to a Southeast Asian woman captain, but then I thought, go bigger and have the first Human-Alien hybrid captain – go beyond concerns of mere ethnicity to beyond species centric – the Federation is always accused of human eccentricity so either a non-human captain or a human/alien hybrid captain would bring a fresh perspective to the universe and an interesting exploration of the human condition consideration.

Certainly, Voyager opened up a whole other type of what it means to be a captain, and how to bring out the best in your crew – the mother nurturing of Janeway compared to the father knows best Picard, the daring do of Kirk, and the inspiring big picture but roll up the sleeves and get dirty Sisko.

Carrying on from the Voyager tech, of having a ship with biological components and holosuites to provide recreation, therapy, laboratories for theoretical and actual research – allowing crew’s holoexperiences (recreational and therapy) to create the very subroutines of programmed personality for holocrew characters.

More than that, to combine the tech so that the ship is near living – as crew work out new applied science ideas, the ship then replicates the parts, growing the ship’s systems as the crew needs. I’ve always thought that the holodeck and replication technology should be combined, and the ship is a constantly evolving entity with key crew hard wired to the ship’s computers, and anything the crew can imagine or design tested in holosuites and then made real through replication technology.

The only thing missing, and this would change the writing of episodes, is to add the element of emergency preparedness to the shows.

Crew communication pins serve also as transporters, in the event of dire situations, the crew member is saved in an emergency pattern buffer for later retrieval and restoration to bio existence – stranded on a planet – set the beacon and beam into the pattern buffer – no need to live out your life isolated and stranded if you’d rather just wait for rescue.

Actually, giving an emergency preparedness consideration, there’d be a lot of tech shake up with new application – not just emergency back ups, but active preparedness contingency planning, could go a long way to re-explore and create challenges in the Star Trek universe.