it really is all about how you treat the powerless (also a fictionette)
- 1,412 wds. long
Happy new week, everyone! I'm pleased to finally bring you the Friday Fictionette for May 15 and announce that now I am entirely caught up. (Except for the pesky audio archives, of course. But back-filling those will be a long process.) Hopefully everything will be back on track going forward.
One scene in "A New Doll for Polly," the one featured in the excerpt, draws on an episode from a family Christmas gathering years ago. I chose to describe that episode in the attached Author's Note. And here we get to one of those classic writerly dilemmas, where the personal experience I'm mining could be read as "airing dirty laundry." In this case, the laundry is only mildly stained. It's just melted wax. You can get that right off with careful application of a hot iron...
OK, that metaphor is kind of strained. Here's the thing. For most of my family, it's just a funny story, an inside joke, a tale retold to get everyone laughing. But for me, it was the moment I realized that it wasn't family policy to deny comfort to the victim of relentless teasing and practical jokes; it was just family policy to deny that comfort to me. I was fair game, because how else was I going to learn to grow a thicker skin and a sense of humor; but do that shit to Grandmama and you were mean and cruel for making her cry. (To be fair, I can't guarantee that my younger cousins got off any more lightly than I did. To be even more fair, it was rare they went after anyone else when I was available.)
So the dirty laundry isn't the story itself, but rather my side of the story. Which resolves the dilemma fairly easily: My side of the story is mine, and I don't owe it to anyone to efface my side of the story to privilege theirs. Also, what kind of loving family member enjoys making a child cry? Repeatedly? Every Christmas day? Especially if said family member is a grown-ass adult? Who the fuck does that shit? Well, whoever does that, they can just shut up about dirty laundry, is what I'm saying.
It was more just the image of an altered doll upsetting Grandma that made it into the fictionette, rather than the discovery that my family had double standards for how bullying victims were treated. The latter was just bad memory litter that the evocative image scattered all over the floor on its way through my brain and into the story, the inconsiderate jerk.
Eh. Go read the fictionette (or just the excerpt). It's more cheerful.
In other news, Mad Max: Fury Road was amazing. It was made of pure distilled rock 'n roll. It was breathtakingly gorgeous and full of momentum that never let up, not once. It maybe could have benefited from subtitles, the dialog being occasionally difficult for me to make out, but on the other hand you don't miss much by missing a word here or there. It wasn't big on words, that movie.
And it was indeed a deeply feminist movie, its plot containing such premises as "Women and children are people, not property" and "You know what? This crap hurts men, too." (Also, I didn't realize an action-adventure movie with a female lead could go from opening sequence to credits rolling without once hearing a man calling her a misogynist slur of any sort for any reason. That was astoundingly refreshing.) It was a deeply moral movie, concerning itself with how those with little power should treat those with even less. Some people kick them and climb over their backs to amass more power of their own, and the narrative tends to deal with them harshly. Others wind up using what little power they have to protect the powerless, and them the narrative holds up as heroes--even the ones who had to be convinced first.
So. Go see it while it's in theaters. It's good medicine for the soul, with the added bonus that it tastes fabulous.