I have in my cubicle at work a quote from Werner Herzog: “I’m fascinated with trash T.V. The poet must not avert his eyes.” This is approach I am taking when it comes to writing. I mustn’t look away from the accident. I must take it all in. I must observe and record.
Saying that – I’ve watched the first episode of the glorious train-wreck that is FX’s A Teacher. This mini-series is based on the Mary Kay Letourneau case. I’ve linked a Wikipedia article to it in case you weren’t around for it.
What makes me want to close my eyes, or at least change the channels, is that we’re given a sympathetic view of the Mary Kay character. In the first episode, we see she shoplifts (because the poor dear is under stress), wants to get pregnant (when her husband seems to be around, which so far is not that often) and is in a new school environment. Do we blame her for wanting to hook up with a male teen who looks good, and is ambitious enough?
The show seems to be telling us ‘no’, and this is one of the problems I have. Even at the outset, we’re warned that there will be scenes of sexuality and ‘grooming’. For those of you who may not know – grooming is when a person gets the target of their affection to lower their guard enough to make a sexual advance. This is usually done by catering to their target’s whim – buying them gifts, inviting them over to hang out and other things. We even see it in the first episode when the teacher covers the meal of her intended target and his friends. The show ends with her tutoring him on poetry because he needs to raise up his SAT scores.
The teacher is played by Kate Mara – who is absolutely hot. Speaking as a former (very much so) sixteen-year-old boy, if I had an English teacher who looked like her – grooming wouldn’t be a problem beyond whispering to me ‘wanna screw?’. This is the truth.
Let’s have a little thought experiment: reverse the genders. Now the English teacher is a man, wanting to be a father, but his wife is usually out of town on business. He finds a girl in his class who needs help getting into a good school for pre-med. She’s athletic, smart but needs a leg up. Let’s even say that this teacher looks good – George Clooney-esque. Let’s even extrapolate based on the real story, that the girl wants to be a mother, but knows that her education comes first. Are we going to have the same feelings for this couple?
No. We decry the teacher as a predator, the girl as misguided and naïve, nay be bordering on troubled if we find out she was a little more aggressive about having that child. The teacher ends up in jail on a sex offender’s list, and the girl gets a book deal.
The other problem I have with this is that, as I mentioned earlier, the teacher is hot. I know, I know – Mary Kay wasn’t ugly, and no doubt that the show’s writer would mention this as a defense. Why not make this into a demonstration of abuse of power? Why not make the teacher look less like Kate Mara in a low-cut sweater and more like Danny DeVito in drag? Hell – let’s put Danny DeVito in drag and put him in the show. Let’s really crank up the uncomfortability on this show! Rather than showing us Kate Mara pleasuring herself to a fantasy of her chosen victim, and brow beating her husband into having sex with her (despite his protestations) – let’s see Danny DeVito in a doggy position moaning.
I’m not happy with FX reaching for the lowest of the low hanging fruit on this show. They had a chance to challenge our views of sexuality and power, but they went the predictable route.
I am trying to write something that’s literary, but I have no idea what it means to be literary or what qualifies as a literary novel.
Let me introduce you to my personal Lord and Savior:
TVTropes.org, when you absolutely, positively want to spend a whole afternoon doing nothing productive.
I typed in literary fiction and got a bunch of useful references. What was even better – I got some ideas. I am trying to write something that is literary (or so I hope) and with that in mind, I am reading up on the source material – Victor Hugo’s The Man Who Laughs. I think this explains it well enough:
The main female character in the original books is blind, and it’s a cliché I want to avoid. It’s not that I can’t write blind people – under different circumstances, I’d revel in the chance to layer on descriptions without visuals cues. However, I need to stay true to some of the circumstances of the novel. The source novel has the main female lead, named Dea (“goddess”) is blind. She can’t see the main male lead’s disfiguring scars.
How do I change this? I want to keep the flavor – the FMC doesn’t see the scars, but the personality and falls in love with that.
This is one of the reasons why I love writing. Giving myself a problem and finding a solution.
Ladies and gentlemen – please allow me to introduce you to the wacky world of prosopagnosia. Also called “face blindness” (the word comes from the Greek words for ‘face’ and ‘no wisdom’), it is the inability of the person who suffers with this to recognize or even remember faces. I’m currently trying to find people who have this condition so I can get the finer points on it, but she gets to be “blind” and keep the gist of her story while I’m not hamstringing myself when writing her.
As I do research for this – reading Victor Hugo’s work, hunting down a copy of the movie and working on an outline in my head – I’m also working on Nanowrimo. I made air quotes when I typed ‘Nanowrimo’ because worked isn’t really the best word to use. I procrastinated over Nanowrimo. Yeah, that’s better. I’m a day behind on the word count, but we’re not even halfway through the month. I can make it up.
Stop laughing. All of you.
I can do this. I’m still enthralled with the story and the challenge of writing a sweet romance while not making the FMC too onerous or unlikeable. I’ll have it out before Christmas. The hardest part will be trying to find a place to make a couple of custom d20s for me on the cheap. I might have to hit up some friends.
Last, but not least – I was interviewed as part of a male writer’s panel last Saturday. It was on Facebook Live, so I don’t know if it will be hosted on a podcast, or site. When it is, I will let you all know.
Thank you for stopping by. If you’re interested in my writing, or the writing of good friends, check out the links on the left. I also accept kofi.com donations. Hope y’all have a good day.
Hello everyone! Sorry for the late posting, but with all the political stuff and Nanowrimo going on – I almost forgot to post this today. Because I’m doing this on my lunch break, I am going to have to keep it quick, and for that I must apologize.
I am doing well. No suicidal thought in three weeks (yay me!) and the Nanowrimo project continues on pace to be finished if not by November 30th, then definitely before. My diet is back on track and I hope to stick with it longer – maybe give myself the cheat day of Thanksgiving.
All in all – everything is turning good again. I hope everything does the same for you.
Next week, a longer post, I promise. I might discuss my really, really ambitions project!