Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No Such Animal

I’m writing my second screenplay for our Shorts Series. As I mentioned to the Company this weekend, as atonement for the sins of my last script (the internal, pensive, self-reflective slowness of it), I want to write something full of vim and vigor, movement and action and intrigue and all that. A mystery! A thriller! The problem? I don’t believe in bad people. Huh? Yeah, I don’t. People do bad things, but I have a hard time believing there are such things as “bad guys”.

And unfortunately, bad guys are one of the easiest ways to engineer conflict. To make a story that follows a character from desire to the thwarting of the desire to the overcoming of the thwarting to the ultimate attainment of the desire, the easiest method is to stick a bad guy in there. Calvera, Lars Thorwald, The Wicked Queen. From wonderful movies, all of them, and I’m not saying that the respective writers took the “easy” way to writing their stories. I’m just saying that it’s taking me a long goddamned time to come up with mine.

So if I don’t believe in bad guys, I’m tasked with the problem of figuring out why people do bad things. When I was sketching out the antagonist, I came up with four scenarios. I thought they were interesting enough to share. Thoughts?:

1. Anonymity fosters antisocial behavior. See: comments on any Internet site. Good luck reading more than five without someone calling someone else a cock sucking idiot. Something I have to hope they’d not do if they were having the same debate over Heath Ledger’s Joker performance face-to-face. See also: flipping the bird while driving.

2. Authority has the ability to supplant individual responsibility. See the electric shock experiment. See also: war.

3. Public opinion supersedes personal morality. See: American Slavery. See also: Nazi Germany.

4. Fear and self preservation.

Not an exhaustive list, but it’s a start. And that’s what we have to do: Start.

1 comment:

Clutterchick said...

So I’ve resisted the urge to post for a while, lest I write with haste and risk looking stupid in front of all the interweb. But now I’ve thought about it and I might have one to add. How about the pursuit of happiness? Not the Will Smith thing, but the twisted, messed up obsession with pleasure, gratification, and other such stuff? Problem is that motive results in a pretty unlikable character. So if you chose that motive, you’ve got to have a bitchin’ movie name. (See Cora Smith) .

And hey, another thought. Revenge. That’s a good one.