Words for our times.
Words for our times.
The following is my reply to the opinion piece Mental Illness Is Not a Horror Show – The New York Times.
Mental illness is an easy plot device for writers and directors to go to to insert drama, action, and suspense into their stories, just as slapstick is an easy plot device they go to for comedy. Anything and everything will be used at some point as a plot device, depending on the current societal triggers.
Mental illness and physical misfortune are emotional triggers, and writers are going for emotion. Police abuse has been a trigger and is more so now, and has been used as a plot device in dramas and sometimes horror. Food safety was a trigger when Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle”.
People are going to write about triggers, and it can’t be avoided. The problem with emotional triggers as plot devices is they affect people who have had personal experience with real situations that have not been romanticized, satirized, or dramatized.
The fiction is a constant reminder of the reality, and they can’t help but feel ostracized. That can’t be avoided either, but nor should it be. Rather than trying to censor dramatized or satirized depictions of mental illness, gun violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, etc., which is a losing fight, those affected by the reality can use the fiction as an opportunity to educate people about the real consequences, as Dr. Solomon has done here.
Censorship is unproductive, but education produces more knowledge and care about the reality than if the fiction didn’t exist at all.
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Critics have been condemning George R.R. Martin for missing his deadline on The Winds of Winter, the next novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series, which is the basis for HBO’s Game of Thrones show. They say that he needs more discipline.
It takes more than discipline. It also takes opportunity, experiences, inspiration, and many other factors. Authors have lives, too. They have tragedies and triumphs, doctor’s appointments, family matters, and everything everyone else has to deal with. If they do nothing but sit and write, they won’t have those experiences to inspire them and write about, and their work would be nothing but fan fiction. If they write to a deadline, their work would be rushed and shortcutted, and lower quality. If they write for profit, their work would be formulaic and pandering, and the reader would not profit. Many authors do make compromises, working for hire instead of higher work, and it shows. If you’re satisfied with compromised work, then that’s what you can expect when you put limits on an author. Forgive the limits, and you may be disappointed by the wait, but you won’t be disappointed by what you finally get.
Everyone is right. Everyone is wrong. The battle flag is a symbol of non-racial southern pride for people who want to push that view. It’s a symbol of racial southern pride for those who want to push that view. The battle flag is not racist or non-racist, it’s a pawn in a war on several fronts wanting it as a banner (or banned) for themselves. It’s the seagulls fighting for it and ripping it apart that are the issue. The flag is an idol, not the god or demon people are using as an excuse for what they want to do anyway. It’s a decoy to draw fire from the person waving it.