Sunday, July 11, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

Lessons in Screenwriting: U R Doin' it WRONG

The point of prose in a script is to help lay the scene. It should create vivid images, impart new and useful information, keep the story rolling.

It should. In theory.

Let's examine a few common ways people fail in their prose.

I. Redundant redundancy is redundant.
There is HUGE EXPLOSION as the lab explodes.
Similarly, if you read a 4-sentence paragraph and the word 'dazzle' is used five times, you have a problem AND a poorly written book about sparkly vampires.

II. Blatant racism is not okay.

He tops off his tank and walks to pay the INDIAN cashier who’s really an Indian of the American persuasion.

Hollywood likes to pretend it's 'progressive' and 'forward thinking.' We like you to hide your racist, sexist, ageist thinking in the subtle details so we can all claim cluelessness later.

Now dressed as the Chicano gangbangers they are, they're wearing baggy pants, long black coats.

III. Mexico is many things...

Crossing the border, H and C crack open a couple beers and exchange a laugh as they drive their $70,000 automobile into the safe haven called Mexico.

...but it is not a safe haven. For anyone. Haven't you seen Desperado or Kill Bill? Also, it really messes with the flow of your story if you have your main characters driving from LA to Tijuana and back in like, 5 minutes.

It’s the most spectacular powder sequence ever laid down on film and the most dangerous...

Sylvia’s so stunningly beautiful she could give a clam a heart attack.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

When "Science" Has an Agenda

So Angry.

A Florida doctor is dosing pregnant women with an experimental (and non-FDA approved) hormone to prevent their daughters from becoming lesbians and--BONUS!--make sure they grow up into wives and mothers. You know, proper ladies who want to cook and clean and wait for their man to bring home the bacon. Because being a wife and a mother is the ultimate goal of every woman in the world. If you chose NOT to be a wife or mother, there is obviously something wrong with you. Also, lesbianism is bad. So we can blame childless lesbian spinsters on their parents because mom obviously didn't love her child enough to dose herself up with Dex in utero. And you know what else is bad? Not adhering to a gender binary.

On the heels of the fuckery that is the doctor who is shortening CAH people's clits and then stimulating them with a vibrator to make sure they still work comes this, which is also an attempt to prevent ambiguous genitalia in children with CAH (Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia which is a condition that lowers the tolerance to estrogen and results in a 'masculinizing' of the genitals). So this doctor wants to do her patients a solid and make sure all female babies grow up to be appropriately 'girly' and well as making sure kids with CAH are "girly" outside and in. We're just going to ignore the fact that masculinity and femininity are both culturally dictated binaries and that people are different, not to mention what qualifies as a masculine or feminine activity changes. Like in the 1800s when a man proved his masculinity by decorating a house. My favorite comment:
"It is enormously frustrating when scientists treat natural variation as a problem to be solved, and necessarily deny humans' capacity for ideological adaptation in order to sustain that pretense."

This is all such bullshit science, and not just because Dex isn't FDA approved.
“The challenge here is... to see what could be done to restore this baby to the normal female appearance which would be compatible with her parents presenting her as a girl, with her eventually becoming somebody’s wife, and having normal sexual development, and becoming a mother. And she has all the machinery for motherhood, and therefore nothing should stop that, if we can repair her surgically and help her psychologically to continue to grow and develop as a girl.”

Naturally, we're just assuming that the child in questions wants to be a girl or even wants a binary gender at all. We also seem to be avoiding the term 'intersex' in the articles I've read so far, which is a lovely way to continue making an invisible group of people more invisible. Props, media outlets.

...the 2008 paper by Meyer-Bahlburg et al hints that variation in sexual orientation beyond the population of girls with CAH might also be partly explainable through prenatal androgen exposure. Such reasoning could lead to the pursuit of other “screening” and “treatment” methods for manipulating intrauterine environments.

While everyone has been busy watching geneticists at the frontier of the brave new world, none of us seem to have noticed what some pediatricians are up to. Perhaps it is because so many people are fascinated by the idea of a “gay gene” that prenatal “lesbian hormones” have slipped past public scrutiny. In any case, we think Nimkarn and New’s “paradigm for prenatal diagnosis and treatment” suggests a reason why activists for gay and lesbian rights should be wary of believing that claims for the innateness of homosexuality will lead to liberation. (BioEthics Forum)

I think this has been done before. Experimenting on minorities/"undesirables" and then extrapolating out to the wider population.

The Readings:
  • The Announcement

  • What Causes Low Rates of Child-Bearing in Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia? by H. F. L. Meyer-Bahlburg [the paper]

    “CAH women as a group have a lower interest than controls in getting married and performing the traditional child-care/housewife role. As children, they show an unusually low interest in engaging in maternal play with baby dolls, and their interest in caring for infants, the frequency of daydreams or fantasies of pregnancy and motherhood, or the expressed wish of experiencing pregnancy and having children of their own appear to be relatively low in all age groups.”

  • Doctor Treating Pregnant Women With Experimental Drug To Prevent Lesbianism [Slog]

  • Preventing Homosexuality (and Uppity Women) in the Womb? [Bioethics Forum]

  • Pregnant Women Being Given Experimental Drug to Breed Girly Girls [Strollerderby]

  • Awful Doc Drugs Pregnant Women To Make Their Babies More Girly [Jezebel]

  • A Prenatal Treatment Raises Questions of Medical Ethics [Time]

  • Clinical Practice Guideline on CAH Approved by the Society [Endo-Society]