I’m not sad to see 2017 go. It was a mean year, all in all. Too much name calling and schoolyard taunting. The year seemed to revel in not caring who got hurt. 2017 shared less, got more stingy as time passed. It made people feel bad about themselves. 2017 was humorless.
It was like our collective intellect dropped to the level of a sixth-grade boy. Sorry. We were worse than that. Now I have to apologize to sixth-grade boys.
Sure, there were moments of inspiration and good works done. Unselfish acts of kindness. Love that struggled to light. People who stood up for those in trouble. We did our best. There were still kittens on Facebook. But it always felt like the final cumulative count was a 49-51 vote. Kindness and our better selves just failing by two votes.
I blame reality tv shows. They encourage us to celebrate our worst selves, conniving and deceiving in the name of winning. Voted off islands and booted off the dance floor. Songs halted, costumes laughed at. Judgment left to audiences. Gladiators in the Coliseum were in our living rooms every night.
It’s divinely human to feel a thrill at the failure of others but we should keep it to ourselves.
Disclaimer: I don’t actually know about reality show content from personal knowledge since I’ve never watched a reality show. On principle.
Do you remember, back in the day, why these shows hit and became popular? It was to avert a writer’s strike. There was no one to write the dramas that balanced justice with integrity. No charming romantic comedies with heart, or coming of age stories. No quick-witted repartee; Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon would’ve been unemployed. No allusions to Shakespeare. No uplifting moral at the end, cue the credits.
Reality shows are cheaper to produce and have no scripted dialog. No need to pay a writer to create an interesting environment and voice a moral dilemma. Or a creative plotline. Or a character with depth. Just a producer looking edgier antics for higher ratings.
That’s right. Reality shows are scabs. I didn’t consider myself a writer at the time, I was a lover of writers, though. I did not cross the imaginary picket line and watch the new genre.
THIS WEEK: For new readers, I started this blog to have a place to talk about books and writing, while continuing to write the horse stuff at annablakeblog.com. Things have stayed in neat piles exactly like they do in my underwear drawer.
News: I have a book talk with Peg Gould (Hound Dog Blues), 11-3, January 20th at 12 East Bijou, Hooked on Books, an indie bookstore in downtown Colorado Springs. Yay for Indies. Please stop by if you’re local.
Poetry boot camp is wild. I’m at the final edit of my collection of poems, Horse Prayers. (My love affair with poems doesn’t threaten my long-term relationship with writing non-fiction. It’s more an inky ménage à trois.) This book will be more fun/challenging to design and publish since it isn’t a paperback. My friend suggests it be a junior coffee table book. I’m pondering that.
Finally, at the end of January, I’ll be crossing the equator for the first time, headed to New Zealand and Australia for a series of clinics. If you want to come along, follow me on annablakeblog.com I’ll be writing about the travel, the horses and riders I meet, and whatever else crosses my path. In the rest of 2018, I’ll go from Alaska to Arizona, and over to Scotland. Come see me if I’m in your area. I go where I’m invited, and some clinics have writing workshops attached. I expect adventure ahead!
My point about reality shows? It’s true I may have watched more than my share of Law & Order and West Wing episodes over the years. So, it isn’t that I have a love for stuffy highbrow drama, but can we please call it enough with reality mud-wrestling? Can we please be kind and smart again? Can we affirm our better selves again?
If you’ve felt the same disappointment, this is your call to arms. Err. I mean keyboards. Or microphones. Or art supplies. Or street corners. Anything, adopt one of those Facebook kittens, but speak out. Let your creativity and intelligence shine. It’s bigger than politics. It’s about compassion and art. It’s about lifting the quality of our conversations.
Are you on a self-imposed strike over a creative dispute? Would you like more pay-back for your work? Looking around right now, although we may not always feel our input is appreciated, we certainly notice when it isn’t there.