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"Freyr" (1901) by Johannes Gehrts. T...

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This is a little something I wrote a couple of years ago about the ongoing assault on our most precious religious festival. Enjoy.

Yes, it’s that time of year again. No sooner does an important traditional religious holiday roll around than the PC-brigade feel the need to strip-mine it of its original significance, just so’s no-one’s feelings get hurt. Fuck that.

For many years now, it’s become unfashionable to talk of Geola, as Muslims, atheists, and Christians have all attacked our traditional holiday.

It is the Christians who have the most gall of all, daring to attach the name of some first-century Palestinian to a once-proud British festival. ‘Yule’ I can live with, despite its being a continental bastardisation of our British pronunciation ‘Geola’, but ‘Christmas’ is just wrong. You even have to mispronounce ‘Christ’ to say it.

It’s important that we remember that Geola isn’t just about family and friendship, it is also about the ritual human sacrifice of male slaves, once every nine years. When was the last time any of our loony local councils allowed this traditional practice? Once again the feminazis and Health and Safety Ceaucescus have stamped their grubby little Christian boots over our heritage.

Just think of what we have lost because of our spineless governing elites. Where once we swore fealty on the back of our best boar, loud enough for the god Freyr to hear, before slaughtering it and spending 12 days eating its carcass; now we have dried-up turkey and Iceland breaded prawns.

What is perhaps most disturbing is the way in which the Christian brigade have felt free to take the bits of our festival they liked (the decorated tree, the holly, the mistletoe, the Yule log, gammon), and pretend that our holiday has nothing to do with our traditional celebrations of the death of winter. They even crow about it!

When Pope Gregory wrote to St Mellitus as he came to convert the Britons, he instructed him not to change too many of the details of our festivities, but just the god they were worshipping. Such blatant contempt for our pagan heritage is, quite frankly, frightening, and yet another example of what happens when you let immigrants from the EU roam willy-nilly, preaching their message of hate.

The fact that our once proud Joulenpukki, who came to distribute presents to good children and devour the bones of bad ones has been forced in many government depictions to take off his robe of rotting goat hides and wear instead a red coat is surely shame enough.

Now, his belly shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly, rather than rattling with the femurs of naughty children. Will we never learn?

I’m not really sure why it’s taken me this long to hear about The Bechdel Rule. Maybe it’s because I spend most of my time in a shed, thinking up knob gags, or maybe it’s something to do with the patriarchy. Either way, I suck.

The Bechdel Rule is pretty simple, and is explained in the video below:

This was a test mentioned by a character in one of Alison Bechdel‘s comics in Dykes To Watch Out For about how they assess whether or not to see a film. To pass, a film has to:

1) Have two or more named female characters…
2) …Who have a conversation with each other…
3) …About something other than a man.

Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? And, to tell the truth, I was feeling pretty confident that my scripts would sail through.

After all, Class, the sitcom I wrote for CBBC, would pass easily (although all of the female characters were played by Sam & Mark – still, technically a pass). The Meeting passes, and every episode of In The Gloaming has a woman as a central character, and one is set within a women’s football team. I do night-feeds, I buy my daughter toy cars instead of princess dresses, I’ve read Germaine Greer’s books for fun. This was going to be easy…

I pulled out the spec I finished last month, smugly flicked through it, and… oh. Apart from this one it was going to be easy. It had two women in, but they didn’t meet until the end when they fought over a man.

I pulled out one I wrote years ago that I still use occasionally as a calling card script. Surely, this one would… have no women in at all. Well, one dead one in a flashback montage (In your face, Robert McKee!), but none who were, you know, alive…

What about the short I wrote that won the Nisi Masa Screenwriting Award. That must… not even mention any women. At all.

Out of five feature scripts, one would pass the Bechdel test, and that one was an adaptation of someone else’s story. Of all the shorts I’ve written only one passed because of a brief bit of expository dialogue at the beginning.

Here’s what I find odd. For any other medium – radio, podcast, stage, web series, television – I have no problems on the whole in unconsciously passing the Bechdel Test. But as soon as I start thinking in terms of film, I appear to assume that male characters are more interesting, or more suited to the medium, or something… And I find that a little worrying.

Of the projects I’ve got lined up, only one feature script passes the Test, and that’s a horror film. I have a feeling that horror films probably don’t really count, as they might be filled with women, all of whom are liable to be horribly murdered at any second.

So, I’m going to be doing a little rethinking, a little cross-casting in my head, because no matter what the political considerations, ostensibly ignoring half of the population of the world must necessarily close off a lot of dramatic options. If nothing else, this will help me find more ways into and out of a scene, and more possible interactions between my characters.

I realise some people will think that this is ‘political correctness gone mad’. Those people are dunces, and should be pitied. This is a way for me to add necessary depth and thought and interest to my writing. This might help me write in a way that will produce better things, things that will be less-inclined to the already-seen, the cliche. This might get me through that rough bit of rewriting where I can’t see how you can change anything, but am unhappy with the way it is. This will help me write better scripts.

It’s also only right to do what I can to make sure that a medium I love doesn’t ignore most of the population of the world. The most that includes my daughter.

Thank you, Alison Bechdel. This is going to be fun.

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