Thursday, February 14, 2008

Peeves, balance, moral courage

I'm in a peevish mood today.

First: televangelists who have gone to the Walmart yearly conference on marketing. Or SEEM as if they have. It's Missions Week over at my favorite christian television station and they're selling, selling, order to get our donations.

Now, I have no problems with giving money to Christian missions but I hate the packaging so much that I sometimes don't even look into the package. It's just so....hyped, so....greedy-sounding. And there are a few folks who get trotted out and who make the rounds of all those donations week that frankly kinda annoy me. Again, i have nothing against giving money and I do believe God wants to bless his people but there is something so programmed and packaged and marketing school about all this that I have no patient with it.

Second peeeve.... Books and sermons which lack moral courage. Yep, sermons that lack moral courage. When, oh when, was the last time I heard a minister tell his people that prejudiced people will probably go to hell because they hate their brother without a cause? Not lately. I mean think of it: we hear a lot about gay Christian folks going to hell. But why don't we hear that prejudiced Christians will go to matter how much they love Jesus. And when was the last time you ever heard a sermon against divorce? All those ministers have gotten all "understanding" to the point where they have forgotten that if one divorces it's best to remain unmarried and celibate or remarry one's spouse rather than thinking you're totally in the clear. It's a hard saying but heck....the Bible is full of hard sayings.

As for lack of moral courage in art and books, if I'm gonna watch something -- even if I'm gonna disagree with it-- I'd at least like the creatives behind a film or a book to be as brave as possible about their viewpoint. That's the one thing that annoyed the heck outta me when I watched The Golden Compass. Talk about watering down a book to make it palatable!

I remember watching Moonlight and Valentino and wondering about the Whoopi Goldberg character. What the heck was going on with her? Was she discovering she was a lesbian? Was she falling out of love with her husband for some other reason? Dang, if I know. The filmmakers decided to get all coy.

I also get pretty annoyed when a movie tones down racial issues or other "issues." For instance, I would probably like the film Frankie and Johnny if it had featured its Broadway star, Kathy Bates, as the main female character. Frankly, Michelle Pfeiffer may have been a better "draw" but I (and tons of fat women out there) would rather see a love story which deals with a fat woman who is psychologically wounded rather than a love story about a beautiful girl who is psychologically wounded. Another example-- I won't name the film but-- why does the main character have a vietnamese STEP-BROTHER? Why not a vietnamese HALF-brother? Heck, why can't the Vietnamese STEP-HALF be the main character? Folks, we have moved way past the time when Kwai-Chang Caine of Kung Fu fame was played by David Carradine instead of Bruce Lee because folks feared Asians wouldn't sell on a TV audience. And honestly, even if Asains don't sell...why should we care?

Third peeve
I recently read a Christian fantasy with a Gaelic main character. I;ll write a review for it one of these months. The book contained what we black folks often term as a Magical Negro. I kinda raised my eyebrow. I suspect there are noble writers out feel the need to show that Black folks are good people. So I tend to not dislike the Magical Negro whenever he/she pops up in a story. Besides, this is a Christian speculative fiction novel. So the author was being dang brave...and pretty much probably forcing some white extremely conservative Christian lover of time travel stories to deal with a Black character. So I'm cool with it.

I suspect there are writers out there who shut themselves down and write something tamer than they would like because they're thinking of what the audience will say. Or they're thinking the publisher won't go along with their creative choice. Or maybe it's not the writers' fault at time that they fail with moral courage because the publisher or producers did the shutting down. (I could tell you a few stories about my novel, Wind Follower.)

But honestly....when they make Wind Follower into a movie they sure as heck better get a dark-skinned girl to play Satha and an Asianish-Native-Americanish actor to play Loic. They also sure as heck better not overdo or under-do the religious and racial and imperialistic dynamics. I don't want them turning Wind Follower into an altar call with a speech on why we all need the savior plopped in the middle of it because the producers think Christian viewers need to see that. I don't want Wind Follower being given a "happy ending" because the producers think Christian viewers need to see that. And I do not want the racism and Manifest Destiny stuff toned down either.

Now, all this stuff about packaging, balance, moral courage aside....if a guy offered me $500,000 for the movie or television rights to make Wind Follower, would I stick to my guns? Would I have integrity? Lord, I hope so.
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