2.18.2010

Placeholders

Is it possible to write a good and moving scene with "Character A," "Character B," "Character C," and so on, where it would be possible to "plug-in" any kind of person into those positions? Could I write good a scene for A, B, and C, and then draw from a hat whether character A was to be black, white, Latino, or other? Or is that impossible?

If it is possible, is it possible to write a whole book that way?

5 comments:

pure_sophist_monster said...

You'd have to do it first and then see how audiences would respond. It seems like an experiment such as this could tell you a lot about audience.

Casey said...

Actually, now that you say that, that famous scene from "A Time to Kill" comes to mind. I think of it as an overrated scene, but I've heard more than one teacher talk excitedly about how "powerful" it is.

"Now imagine she's white."

"American Rhetoric?"

pure_sophist_monster said...

I think the teacher might like because this teacher imagines (in the vain hope for "and the truth will set you free") that racists will change if their latent racism is exposed. Or that they believe racism is THE explanation here - as the rhetorical question implies.

I think we could likewise see the scene as overrated if we imagine latent racist audience who would say it wouldn't matter if the girl were white.

I imagine audiences who buy into a notion of latent racism would find the scene powerful, whereas those who see racism only in terms of explicitly racism (lynchings, slures, etc) would see the scene as less powerful (i.e., "what a dumb, perhaps insulting question").

This is not suggest this is true of you (seriously - it could be over-rated because the movie on the whole is a bad and that Matthew "Can I Take My Shirt Off Yet" McCon-no-Haw cannot act), but that this might be two possible audience reactions.

Casey said...

I think it's an overrated scene/speech because everything that he says in the speech is perfect evil -- and whether the victim is black or white doesn't matter to me.

I suppose I can imagine it mattering to some Southern jurors in the 1950s, or whenever that film was set... so I "get it," but it doesn't move me as a viewer in 1990-whatever.

Imagine a black person gets his face shot off. Now imagine that black person is a white person.

It's like, whatever. If that's latent-racism, I'm a latent racist.

fenhopper said...

i thought it was overrated because matthew mcconaughey should have been shirtless.