Wednesday, June 8, 2011

TiStF | Government Scandals

As much as I enjoy The Daily Show, I must admit that I am weary of hearing about Congressman Weiner's weiner. In last night's episode, there was a strong bit that essentially said, to paraphrase, women don't really care to see a man's junk, unless it can cook, clean, listen, provide financial security and comfort her parents. Now you know.

In Jon Stewart's defense, this is comedy gold at the end of the comedy rainbow. It's too good to ignore, and there is a year's worth of parody and satire and punchlines that will honor the idiot who tweeted his stuff to some female constituent.

Ugh, make it stop.

An interesting way to gain votes.

I was going to post video, during which I tried to come up with some clever way of saying something which hadn't been said. After all, this isn't a political blog, by any stretch of the imagination.

Which got me to thinking...

Our history as a culture is filled with government scandals. There's always a mistress, from Henry VIII to John Edwards. Where now we have CNN and Jon Stewart, even the Greeks had parodists, the Romans had cryers, and medieval times had bards.

Senator lifts his toga and flashes his stuff at a young female thespian in the alley behind the Parthenon. Did it happen? Seems very likely.

Scandal. Bloody scandal. There was even a Discovery episode about such things. Missed it? It's on DVD: Scandals of the Ancient World.

When I write, I try to not to go for those melodramatic conflicts. I like purity of intent, of action, and in my mind, that creates a more dramatic conflict, because (in theory), the reader should empathize with both sides, and in that, they must either choose a side, or sit back and see what happens.

It feels false to me when there is some melodramatic love triangle, when someone is being wicked just for the sake of doing so. To me, it's more compelling when a character is driven into temptation. "Bad" people should have serious motivations, and be well aware of the cost of being naughty.

Then, I watch the news. Pick up the newspaper. Read the headlines on my web browser. Watch a little political satire show. It stares at me, reminds me, that humans are very flawed.

I've been revising Catalyst, and there's multiple character arcs. The arc that I'm currently reworking seemed a little bland to me, so yes, I've had to go back and tighten up the older protagonist, give him a little edge to reflect his experiences. I've had to purify the younger protagonist, so that he would be a little uncomfortable as events unfold that he's never experienced.

But the other arcs seemed fine to me. More organized and coherent peoples, the conflict is more direct, and they all unite - it's pretty standard epic stuff.

Yet, here is the Universe reminding me that people are flawed. That even in Congressman Wiener's perfect life, with his new wife and his secure political position - he goes and mucks up his entire career for no apparent reason. With no sense of logic or responsibility or grace, this otherwise relatively successful man is essentially a fool.

It seems so cheap and vulgar to include this sort of failing in fiction. It's so ridiculous and cheesy. Yet, history is full of these anecdotes. Modern society can't go a week without a scandal.

What's a writer to do?

Do we imagine a world where honor and a person's truth and integrity actually means something - where two people who claim to love each other, actually do so (without either one of them enteraining offers and suggestive notions from another outside the relationship)?

Or do we reflect the decay of organized society? Men (and women) who rule counties, countries and worlds, are simply base peoples, with the same lust, greed and self-indulgent motivations of their constituency?

On the one hand, a perfect paradise is potentially very boring.

On the other, epic heroic fantasy still sells today - because when we are surrounded by war, greed, lust and government scandal, it's nice to escape into a world where people are exactly what they say they are, and that they will fight against all odds to uphold those beliefs.

What do you think?


  1. Is there such thing as a perfect paradise... it sounds lovely.....boring.. no..... if it is perfect then how can it be boring ~ it's perfect! :P

    The problem with politics is it pompously bespeaks of what one's moral character should be... of course we don't want liars and cheats running our country.. making laws... etc... but affairs... sexual texts.. I don't care...It's your own business just as what I do is mine... as long as you are not using my tax dollars for your hotels and phone bills... I only ask.. can you balance a budget and fix unemployment... Politicians are people.. people are flawed as you pointed out... Our media (and our maybe obsession with finding fault in people) and whatever opposing party who did NOT get caught are the reasons such a scandal is making headlines to begin with......
    It happens in the govt.. church... whatever business.. and I assume it always will...
    Now the church and corruption.... that's a whole other story... I can't even go there with it's hypocricy.. and YES it should be held to the standard it sets for itself on high!!!

    And a politician who mucks up his career for no apparent reason.. had a reason... SEX... it's a strong force.... strong... Don't you think ;) I do... :)

  2. There's no doubt that sex is a big motivator, even in the face of a strong, moral resolution.

    It's one of the reasons that I'd like term limits for politicians - they get too complacent in their position, that they forget what got them there to begin with.

    And don't even get me started on the church. I'll have fun with that in future projects.

    But, truly, I was just musing on how fiction should approach this proclivity of gov't officials to being corrupt. And while scandals are fun to write - almost too easy, since there's so much historical evidence to draw from - I wonder if it wouldn't be more compelling to write about a government that represents what "could be" or "should be" and how that gov't faces temptation and crisis.

    We'll see.

    Thanks for the comment, Songbird.


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