Politics and This Blog - Complications Ensue
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Friday, September 12, 2008

There's a famous story ascribed to all sorts of people, but let's say Steven Bochco.

An actor goes to a director with the script. "My character wouldn't say that!"

The director says, "go talk to the showrunner, he wrote it."

The actor goes to Steven Bochco. "My character wouldn't say that!"

"Sure he would," says Bochco. "See? There it is on the page. He's saying it!"

So, every now and then someone complains about my writing about politics in this blog. "This is a screenwriting blog!" they write, "please don't pollute it with politics."

Let me clarify.

This is a screenwriting blog that talks about politics. You can tell, because most of the time I talk about screenwriting, and some of the time I talk about politics.

I write about what interests me. Right now, I can't keep my eyes off the election. I am particularly interested in the theatrical aspects of the race. You don't see me talking about demographics or GOTV. I talk about the campaign narratives.

I am a political animal. The ancient Greeks, who invented democracy, would have been appalled if someone had said he "wasn't interested in politics." Only an excruciatingly selfish man would separate himself from politics. Politics is, after all, the life of the city -- the polis.

Hence the top of the blog, where it says, "The craft of screenwriting ... with forays into life and political theatre."

Got it? No one is obliging you to read the political posts. They are usually marked "politics."

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Which includes politics.

Labels: ,

16 Comments:

Well, now that I started this firefight, I may as well clarify: by balanced I'm suggesting that both parties have put forth ridiculous candidates. The republican ticket is ridiculous. But Obama, as well-intentioned as I believe he is, is unusually inexperienced. Most Harvard lawyers, at 47, have had twenty years in some field. Only in politics, in America, can such a blank slate become president.

As an entertainer, you must admit that Sara Palin was a wonderful story twist. But that's all it is. For what it's worth, I think Obama has to win. I think change is desperately needed, and I personally can't bear the religious right for one more moment.

I'm done. I have real work to do now:)

By Blogger Nicholas, at 3:18 PM  

While it's true Alex, that the internet community has 'ownership' issues with blogs and such I think you should listen to what people are telling you. What they say is "I come here for screenwriting, not this crap" but what they're really telling you is "I like you a little bit less than I did before, both because I disagree with you and you wasted my time."

So the question is, what do you want from this blog? If you simply want a mental vent to dump your thoughts then you've got it. But are you trying to create a community? Are you trying to get as large a readership as possible? Are you trying to educate people on screenwriting? Are you trying to sell your book?

If your goal is any of these then blogging on politics is hurting it.

And by the way, most bloggers who start with multi-topic blogs eventually break them into separate vehicles. Even if you were blogging on model trains a good portion of your audience wouldn't be interested in that and would gravitate towards places that don't deviate from their interests. I know I gave up on DTOS and KFMonkey due to off topic posting(not just politics).

So the question becomes, what is your goal?

By Blogger Whaledawg, at 3:20 PM  

Hey man, it's your blog. Talk about what you want.

Hey, I'm also political junkie, but I assiduously avoid politics from the bloggerverse. Nothing personal.

So I very much appreciate when you flag one of your posts in the beginning that says something like "this is about politics." Then I know to skip it. You see, I keep up on your blog mostly through an RSS feed, on my Blackberry for those precious minutes that I'm actually above ground in the morning. I want to be able to scan items quickly.

And unless Complications Ensue becomes all politics, all the time, I'll continue to check in here regularly.

By Blogger daveednyc, at 4:00 PM  

You can't please everyone - I love it when you write about politics (and I love it when Rogers cuts loose) and about writing . . . obviously I'm not so interested in other areas, so I don't read them.

I would never complain about it, though, not publicly.

Just like when my best buddy, who is a Tennis freak, goes on about Federer, I tune him out. I'm sure he does the same when I start talking about the UFC.

But I don't tell him what he should talk about.

But this isn't about likes and dislikes, this is about people who have welded themselves to a certain viewpoint and can't go anywhere without running into facts that suggest otherwise (ie, McCain is a liar) because it makes their head hurt to think about it.

so they complain, why do I have to listen to this here, why do we have to talk about politics?

And usually then end up going, but the other guy blah-blah-blah but what they're really facing is that someone whose opinion they respected and valued has put forth ugly fact which butts up against whatever wishful magical thinking about your white dream candidate.

Fact. John McCain is a liar. A frequent and blatant liar. Fact. Sarah Palin is also a liar. And inexperienced. And incompetent and corrupt.

These facts cannot reasonably disputed on their substance, so the only recourse someone who really, really wants to support them has is to say:

A) The other side lies too (thus talking about the flaws of the person they dislike rather than the one they like, and also, I don't believe Obama has told any whoppers to compare to McCain / Palin, not even close) and the other side has problems, too. Which is besides the point, the point is, which side is better. Let's start with the one that lies LESS, shall we?

B) Why do we have to talk about this here?

Even more amusing is the threat of lost readership.

Alex's blog is, has he pointed out, his and his alone, and if you don't like what he writes, why bother trying to control the content?

It's not a reality show, really. Alex, like many authors knows his audience . . . sometimes you give the audience what they love, and sometimes you give them something which challenges them . . . I always like the challenging stuff, myself, and I love it when Rogers goes off.

But that's just my opinion.

Also, this is a historic election, in a multitude of ways, truly. It's almost disgraceful if it doesn't get talked about.

Again, this is all just my opinion. Except the part of John McCain lying. Yes, he did that. It's on video all over the place.

But other than that . . . .

By Blogger Joshua James, at 4:07 PM  

Alex, if you were to make this a politics-only blog, the name still fits...

By Blogger daveednyc, at 4:10 PM  

You get what you pay for.

People who think that, as readers, they are somehow owed anything by you, are quite real and simply, fucked.

Let them stop reading.

I care not a whit.

But then again, I've always found it more interesting to know where the writers I like come up with stuff.

Asking the internet to stay "on topic" is like King Canute commanding the sea to turn back.

Again. Fuck'em. Anybody who'd stop reading because they disagree with your politics would probably eventually part with you on the screenwriting, too.

Hell, some of my favorite writers are people whose politics I despise.

I call this "being a grownup."

By Blogger DMc, at 4:21 PM  

(Exasperated sigh) Damn it, Alex! I come here for screenwriting, with forays into life and politics. Please don't pollute your blog with meta-posts! </sarcasm>

Failed attempt at humor aside...@whaledawg, did you stop reading Rogers because he infrequently posts on politics, or do you also consider his comicbook writing posts off-topic? Because if the latter contributed to your decision, it seems, to me at least, that you're constraining your interests awfully narrowly.

You're obviously free to do so, but I personally don't get it.

By Blogger R.A. Porter, at 4:39 PM  

Actually I'm a decent comic geek(3 out of 5) but I wasn't interested in what he was saying on comics(mostly talking about the Blue Beetle).

It's a signal to noise ratio issue. To get away from Rogers and here:

I subscribe to Boing Boing, a directory of wonderful things. They post on a few main topics:

--Hippy bullshit(everything from profiles/interviews of progressives to instances of photographers not being allowed to take pictures)
--Their own, mediocre video site
--Science stuff
--Awesome pictures
--Random and weird internet sites and news stories

While I only have an interest in the last 3, as long as there are enough of them to make it worth my time to check I'll keep subscribing.

This blog keeps up with a lot of writing posts, but it also has a great deal of political posts(of late). The signal to noise ratio, for those who don't appreciate them, is increasing.

And politics in particular open up discussions like this:

But this isn't about likes and dislikes, this is about people who have welded themselves to a certain viewpoint and can't go anywhere without running into facts that suggest otherwise (ie, McCain is a liar) because it makes their head hurt to think about it.

Because apparently no one can possibly have different values or make varying judgments on the same information. If they disagree with you they must be shutting out all the truths of the world in order to stop their heads from exploding due to cognitive dissonance.

By Blogger Whaledawg, at 4:56 PM  

Alex,

I have to admit, never having seen Charlie Jade, I don't read your posts that talk about it. So please so posting about that. And if you could also stop posting about opportunities for newbie screenwriters in Quebec and the Maritimes, that would be good, too, because I live on the other side of the country. I haven't watched Madmen, so no more posts about that. Besides, it's a screenwriting blog, not a tv watching blog. I also have never seen Lost, so nothing about that, either.

On the other hand, I find politics fascinating, and have enjoyed nearly every single one of your posts about the elections down south, so keep that up.

Basically, if you could tailor your blog to what I like, I would like it a lot better.

Thanks.

By Blogger Tim W., at 5:22 PM  

I actually haven't read many of Alex's political posts because I'm not really interested in reading political editorials. So I typically ignore (or skim) political comments on blogs, message boards and Twitter. So this isn't a critique of Alex's posts, just political blogging in general.

When it comes to politics, everyone hand picks the "facts" that reinforce their political opinions, and they completely exclude the rest. I find that to be very dishonest. One step away from propaganda.

Anyone that gets behind a candidate or party so strongly they can only see flaws on the "other side," they're being dishonest with themselves and with their readers. They're not just drinking the Kool-Aid, they're serving it.

Let me also say that I do consider myself to be a political person. I pay attention, I read a ton of news, I debate with my friends, and I've cast my vote in every single election since I turned eighteen. But I'm just not a fan of political masturbation, no matter who's doing it.

Having said that, I don't see any reason for people to complain about the political content on this or any other blog. If I don't want to read something, I simply don't read it.

I don't like eating cabbage, and if I'm at the supermarket buying oranges, I see no reason to protest the cabbage. And I can't relate to those that do.

By Blogger Kody Chamberlain, at 6:03 PM  

"Because apparently no one can possibly have different values or make varying judgments on the same information. If they disagree with you they must be shutting out all the truths of the world in order to stop their heads from exploding due to cognitive dissonance."

There's plenty of room to disagree on subjective issues. The idea that coke is better than pepsi, the ending of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN or it sucked balls, That Survivor is great television or not, or THE WATCHMEN is the greatest graphic novel, ever, or the worst.

Lots of room to disagree on things like that, you bet. That's what's fun, people having different opinions on matters of taste and culture.

Facts, however, are different things. John McCain is on video lying.

I don't know how we can sit and contest known things and have a reasonable conversation on issues that are verifiable when someone with an alleged opposing view just refuses to look at the evidence before them.

It's like dropping a ball to prove gravity and someone says, "it's my opinion that it didn't happen, regardless of what you think".

Not to invoke Godwin's Law, but this is why I find Holocaust deniers ridiculous, the evidence is there. Wishing it weren't or believing it weren't doesn't make it so. Or those that deny evolution (or global warming) despite the evidence, isn't and shouldn't be a "matter of opinion". Nor is it
"different values or make varying judgments on the same information."

John McCain lied continually. Just today on THE VIEW, in fact. When he knows the information is false yet trumpets it anyway, that's lying.

I can reasonably discuss differing opinions on a variety of subjects with people of different beliefs and values, sure. But to deny the obvious is not reasonable.

Just my opinion, of course. Heh.

By Blogger Joshua James, at 6:40 PM  

"Obama, as well-intentioned as I believe he is, is unusually inexperienced."

Experience isn't everything.

By Blogger Paul William Tenny, at 11:54 PM  

I'm only half-remembering and I'm way too lazy to pull the book down and check, but I think the anecdote that you use to kick off the post is actually from Goldman's ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE and is one that he tells against himself. Maybe him and Paul Newman? On the set of HARPER?

Jeez, I really AM lazy.

By Blogger Stephen Gallagher, at 5:54 AM  

And now I'm having second thoughts. Starting to think that the "Bochco version" is maybe a similar anecdote told to make a different point.

Wotthehell. The real point is, write on whatever you're moved to write on, Alex. That's what I stop by for.

By Blogger Stephen Gallagher, at 6:31 AM  

Late to the game, but it's almost allowable with everything that's gone on.

Honestly, the concept of focusing a blog so strictly is a bit true. However, this blog is a political blog. It's not like the political commentary (which I rather adore, by the way, just like the political diatribes that come out on Mcgrath's blog) is actually outside of the arts vein anyways.

By Blogger Elize, at 8:29 PM  

I just wanted to share this McCain Youtube video...

Start shaking your head in 3...2...1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEtZlR3zp4c&feature=related

By Blogger Brandon Laraby, at 1:55 PM  

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