Monday, May 7, 2012

Who are you writing for?

A woman's naked breast---The context of a subject can have a very dramatic impact on the audience's interpretation. For instance, is this naked breast being fondled by a man in a pornographic film, or is it being suckled on by an infant? In the former context the breast could be considered lewd and sinful, whereas in the latter context it is the complete opposite--wholesome and nurturing.

I will never forget being on an Employee Activity Committee and sitting in a room deciding on what movie to show at the Company Halloween party. The two movies that were being discussed were Scary Movie or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The decision was made to show the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But the reason for the decision is what shocked me and demonstrated to me an awareness of the messed up cultural norms of our society. Scary Movie was not allowed to be shown because there was a scene in which a virgin man finally had sex and a visual joke was made exaggerating his ejaculation. Ok, fine I can understand how that might offend people of more religious or conservative views. But explain to me how these same people shouldn't be more offended by showing a guy in a wheel chair get his legs, arms and head chainsawed off!  The former is making a joke about a natural body function in a situation between two consulting adults. In the latter a handicapped person is being brutally murdered.

The point I am trying to make here is this: While it is true that as a writer you must consider your audience and how they will interpret the context of your subject matter, you should also realize that there is no accounting for the priorities and values of all, and so you must write what you feel you must write, not what others want you to write. Sure there will be a number of people you may offend, but there will be an equal amount of people who respect you for it. And most importantly, in the end we must be true to ourselves.

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