Saturday, October 23, 2010

Standards & Practices

My most recent writing delimma involved a character needing to say something scandalous during a TV interview which would have repercussions for my protagonist. Sure, it would be easy enough to have him drop the F-bomb or similar, however, my personal standards prevent me from doing that (not trying to act holier-than-thou, just telling it like it is). And, really, it's hard to shock in our society today with language or sexual behavior. The boundaries of what is acceptable in entertainment have been stretched pretty far.

Just this month, I've heard a few things in the news which have proved this point. Example #1: A 17 year old actress named Taylor Momsen (Gossip Girl) posed for the cover of Revolver magazine wearing lingerie with thigh-high stockings while holding a couple of guns. The editor excused this during an interview by saying in essence that we all did crazy things when we were teenagers. Um, does that mean it's okay for adults responsible for publishing a national magazine to make money off the "crazy " behavior? Example #2: Miley Cyrus, also age 17, joining the club of female former-Disney stars who think the only way to continue their careers in adulthood is to make a video where they are barely clothed, writhing around on a bed and bumping and grinding male dancers to show they are now "adults". Example #3: The show Glee, which I don't watch, but is about a high school glee club and was billed as a "family show" had an episode featuring a girl-on-girl make-out session.

Turns out, the best way to shock these days is to be politically incorrect, which works well for my character in question. So it was an ongoing debate with me, myself, and I for awhile, until a discussion at our writer's group meeting this week helped lead me to what I hope is a good solution that works for the story, but doesn't cross my standards line.

With all the political correctness in our society today, many approaches could actually work. As it turns out, there is more than one way to skin a cat (easy PETA, it's just an idiom).


  1. Excellent post. Glad our conversation worked.

  2. Good point there. If you want your protag to say something with shock value, just have them say something true. Look what it did for Juan Williams.

  3. great points Linda. It is increasingly hard to shock and I have been very disappointed in a YA series lately because of all the foul language inconsistently splashed on the page just to "sound like a teenager." Poor writing really.

  4. Excellent point, Graham!

    I saw pictures online of a recent photo shoot for GQ magazine with the cast of Glee. Very racy, especially for actors playing kids in high school.I think the entertainment industry is so busy pushing the line, that they don't always recognize when it gets crossed.