Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sorry, I Didn't Mean to Oppress Everyone

Some of the world's problems are out of my hands and yet I have to deal with them and I don't know how. On CBC radio (I must be turning into a communist), there was a mention about the idea of how marketing gears their advertising to 18-24 year old males and how actresses 40 years plus are often left out of many scripts and movies. In addition, others were mentioning how there is a severe lack of women as directors and thus a sign of men trying to keep it a boys-only club.

It always bothers me to hear that because it then starts to feel like because of people like me, society is being held back from becoming a fair and equal society. That if I become a successful comedian or writer, then I am a part of problem of keeping women suppressed. That if I become a manager of a store, then I was chosen because I am a white man and not because of what I can do and thus I should step aside and let a woman of equal ability take the job.

What am I supposed to do aside from feel bad about who I was born as?

Even when it comes to writing sketches, I am writing sketches for myself so that I can do what I want to do. I am not writing sketches for other people to perform. They are for me.

As I consider writing a story of any sort, generally the main character is going to be a reflection of myself. Maybe it's a lack of experience or ability that I don't write female characters as the protagonists but it's because I feel like I would do an injustice to the female persona if I did. I wouldn't know how to write for a 40 year old woman lead character. It's frustrating for us both, Helen Mirren. Should I then step aside so someone can write a script for her?

When I'm writing my sketches and there is the main funny character, generally it is going to be the guy that I write as the moron and if I have a girl, she will be the level-headed character. Sure, she may point out the stupidity of the other character and have some funny lines, but generally it's the character who is a vehicle for the fall guy to say his stupid ideas at and is not the "star" of the sketch. She will be the boring character and people could point to that as me making sure the guy is getting the better part.

However, if I were to reverse it and make the guy the level-headed one and the girl the fall ...girl, then I could be accused of perpetuating the stereotype that men are better suited to be above women.

It feels like I can not win in any situation.

Some times Will Ferrel and company are accused of being that boys-club mentality where all the main funny roles go to the guys and they gear it for guys and keep women from breaking into comedy. It's been my experience that girls don't find his movies as funny as guys and maybe women are just not drawn to that type of humor as much for whatever reason. It would then make sense that there are not as many actresses that would break into that style. Plus the writers are writing with Will in mind as the main character and if there's a love interest, that is where the female lead comes in. It might be cliched, but a romantic angle is usually a major component to stories of all stripes.

I could keep going on this, but I suppose the point I am getting at is that it grieves me that women feel like they are being excluded from various things, but I don't know what I am supposed to do about that aside from feeling guilty for being who I was born as and saying "Yeah, we men suck and we should all be killed off so that humanity can advance."

"There is unrest in the forest,
There is trouble with the trees,
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas.

The trouble with the maples
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light.
But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made.
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade.

There is trouble in the forest,
And the creatures all have fled,
As the maples scream, 'Oppression!'
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights.
'The oaks are just too greedy;
We will make them give us light.'
Now, there's no more oak oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw."
- "The Trees" from the Rush album "Hemispheres"

Monday, December 20, 2010

Been There, Don't Do That

This week was a strange week. It has been one of looking back into the dark territory. For the first time in a very long time, I did a dramatic presentation as opposed to a comedic one. It was about a man who you discover through the course of the one-person scene is divorced, has a kid and is trying to make Christmas for himself and having a difficult time with it. He struggles with loneliness during the time of the year that emphasizes family. Of course, the sketch was about a divorced parent, but anybody who has read my blog for a long time would realize that it's not about a divorced parent.

For me, it was really displaying myself up there without ever saying it. It was a hard reminder of elements of my past, but the positive thing was that it was difficult to summon. I don't feel the same as I did. Hopefully, that's a sign of peace in my soul and not a sign of a callousness.

Nonetheless, I have found it draining to go through that sketch and I felt tired after both performances. Way more than I ever did yelling at the top of my lungs as Stan Ostrowski. It was like my inner self was tired.

Mind you, this comes at the end of a long week, emotionally speaking. I have been approached for advice, support, and discussion for some people and it was hard stuff that life just deals and it seems unfair or painful to deal with. Due to my age of being a little bit older and due to my experience, I feel I have given an important perspective for those in the midst of a replay of my own story. I frequently draw from own life to paint illustrations and examples and that means I have to talk about things that dredge up my past. Some times I have to say something harsh, sometimes I have to just admit that it sucks, sometimes I have to say something that comforts, and all the while, my heart aches with them. I don't regret and will not regret helping at all, but it does wear after a while.

Unlike previous posts, I don't know what my conclusion is on this. What lesson I am gleaning or prayer that I have in it. I suppose it is good that I am there to listen and give words of encouragement, comfort, challenge and direction. I suppose that it is good that I have learned from my past. I suppose that it is good that I have moved from that place. I guess I would just rather the past stay in the past.

"How to keep people at arms length and never get too close
How to mistrust the ones you supposedly love the most
How to pretend you're fine and don't need help from anyone
How to feel worthless unless you're serving or helping someone
I'll teach you all this in eight easy steps
A course of a lifetime you'll never forget"
- "Eight Easy Steps" from Alanis Morissette's "So-Called Chaos"

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Although It Doesn't Have Much to Do With This Post, Joel Olsteen is Still a Liar

I am not sure of what to make of this past week. It feels like a lot has happened. A lot of significant conversations that feel like they are part of a narrative of some sort. It's been kind of difficult navigating them and trying to be objective. I would like to think that I have learned from my past and am becoming a stronger person.

I have learned and I have changed. I have tried to make wise choices and make the hard choices because if I preach that is what people should do, then that should also include me. So that's what I did and it hurts to accept choices that are done in the name of being honest and upfront. I don't regret it, because I needed to do it.

It's hard to tell a person something that they don't want to admit, it's hard to tell a person to do something they don't want to do and it's hard to be the person that has to be upfront when you don't want to be.

I should point out that things are good. It's just that sometimes things are hard.

Joel Olsteen would tell you that you don't have to face suffering through broken bodies, broken relationships, broken finances and pain and that is what makes him a liar. Jesus faced times when he had to say the difficult thing and do the difficult thing because sometimes things are just difficult. Fortunately, peace is found in knowing that when we do what is right and honourable, we are living as we should. We can have joy knowing that the troubles we face here are not forever, but rather it refines our character, an eternal concept.

Hopefully, that can sink in and I can be content.

"In the days of my youth, I was told what it means to be a man,
Now, I've reached that age, I've tried to do all those things the best I can.
No matter how I try, I find my way into the same old jam."
- "Good Times, Bad Times" from the Led Zepplin self-titled album