BIPOC Community Page - - Notes! Pt. 3: communicating your intentions on the page
I want to bring up something sensitive.
Creating characters that are intentionally "offensive" to make a point. In the same vein, we are also in a time where even mentioning ethnicity charges up our work to a place of discomfort for those in charge of the industry. As POC and members of the Diverse Community, we are responsible for normalizing the industry (deep breath: not that we asked for that duty, but who else is going to do it... and do it right?). So how do we walk the line?
One of the things we have to keep in mind is that we are writing scripts, not prose. We have to keep our work somewhere between a technical document to inspire others to do their best work and as a selling tool that will keep the reader hooked.
- Do we give away the game so that the reader can be in on the joke? -or- Do we keep things hidden so that the reader can feel the reveal at the same time as the audience?
- Do we explain that a character is a parody or let the actor and director decide what direction to go in?
Well, that's dealer's choice. But in my Gemini mind, learn how to do both at the same time. Yes, as if writing couldn't be any harder...
The key is in your tone and genre. Are you doing a Satire? Comedy? Thriller? Remember the number one rule of Antagonists is that they are the Protagonists of their own movie. The craft of writing is being able to write a blueprint and keep your reader hooked and feeling emotions at the same time.
So what about that offensive over the top characters you're writing to make a point? I'm a big fan of Caitlin Moran, who uses the mantra "What are the men doing?" when she tries to figure out if something is sexist. So let's apply that to our own scripts - how are the big scripts dealing with issues of ethnicity or religion? What icons of the industry would you personally rather emulate and look at their work (Legally, please)? How is Lena Waithe talking about race in her scripts? How is Nahnatchka Khan talking about immigration? Has something offended you? (Homeland sneeze) -- look up that script and see how they felt entitled to describe those characters?
My main thought is that our job as storytellers is to COMMUNICATE. You don't have any control over if someone is going to be offended or not, but if you do your work they might just start to think about why they are so offended.