Vote First

This week the spouse of the person third in line for the presidency got seriously attacked by a hammer-wielding, 2020 election-denying conspiracy theorist that regularly spouts racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ views via a blog not like, but not 100% unlike, this one.

Now, before you go jumping to conclusions —

We here at Notes do NOT believe, as the attacker does, that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is the power behind some cannibalistic, child abusing cabal. 

Step one

Nor do we traffic in the notion that non-white people, Jews or gays are evil incarnate.

And not only because the Chair is in the latter two of those three groups.

Rather it is due to the fact that we, like him, use the WordPress platform to regularly espouse our views for all the world to read, and perhaps rally behind, via our own personal BLOGs.

Tale as old as time

I was thinking about this a lot after hearing my fellow blogger broke into the Pelosi home after 2 a.m. bellowing, Where’s Nancy, struggling with 82-year-old Paul Pelosi before hitting him REALLY hard on the head.  (Note: Nancy was not at home, but hard at work rallying Democratic voters far away on the opposite coast).

Nevertheless, Mr. Pelosi suffered life threatening injuries from this attack – a fractured skull and serious injuries to his hand and arm that required surgery – but it is now reported he will be okay. 

This was not solely due to his doctors but also to the fact that an intuitive 9-1-1 operator dispatched the police to his home with a high alert warning.

Still, it momentarily left me wondering:

Exactly where do we stand with free speech in our presently advanced information age??

Quite a prickly situation

Oh, OF COURSE FREE SPEECH NEEDS TO CONTINUE! (He ranted). 

WHAT ARE WE, A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY OR…..RUSSIA? (He asked). 

OR A MAGA STRONGHOLD IN THE SOUTH OR MIDWEST? (He irrationally screamed).

OR THE HOUSE JUDICIARY GOP, which still has up the following three-week old tweet:

TRUMP.  ELON.  KANYE.

Yikes, indeed

Well, I guess that post is presumably in support of the free speech rights of people like Kanye West to go, as he just did, def-con 3 on THE JEWS.

Shoot (oops), even billionaires (Note: Up until this week) get to say anything they want, like the rest of us.

Or in solidarity with Elon Musk’s plan, after buying Twitter for $44 billion, to let back on the platform many of the hate spouting, fake conspiracy-promoting users whom former Twitter execs permanently banned for life.  Beginning with:

@realDonaldTrump.

Get ready America.

Fly, my pretties! Fly!

I don’t have answers as to where free speech ends and governmental intervention begins.

Nor do American politicians or its citizens if the last six plus years of the MAGA agenda to poison our social discourse with lies about the efficacy of the 2020 elections (and beyond), amid white power salutes and calls to lock up every elected official they don’t agree with, are any indication. 

Phew, that was a mouthful.

And we’re not done yet.

I have a headache

Because when there is no agreement on what is true, or what is even real, it’s hard to know where to even start. 

Or end.

When I was in graduate school in Chicago once upon a time in the seventies there was a big hoopla around the Nazis marching in the nearby suburb of Skokie, a primarily Jewish enclave. 

It was a provocative move to cause an encounter, we were all sure, so eventually it was decided that as heinous as Nazis were, it would be against freedom and even worse for democracy to not allow this monstrous group who supported the extermination of a race/my people, to be free to express themselves in a place where my people/that race most particularly presided.

Of course, this was in an era where almost everyone believed Nazis were heinous. 

A time very unlike today.

This could be the reason…

As I watched former President Obama campaigning this weekend in support of democracy and Democratic candidates in swing states like Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin he was incredibly inspiring.  But his words felt almost…

QUAINT.

Oh, he made the case and then some for the imperative to vote Blue in the 2022 election and beyond.

He proved without a doubt that to not elect these representatives could signal the end of democracy, not to mention extinguishing popular social programs like Social Security.  Not to mention more tax cuts for the rich and less affordable health insurance for the rest of us mere mortals.

Please don’t let this be you this November

But he was speaking to thousands of Democratic supporters who wanted to be inspired and be given numerous exciting, rational reasons to get off their phones and up off their asses to make a difference.

Still, it made me wonder if this was the only way to stop the MAGA movement for now.  Get every conceivable, rational, believer in facts and democracy that we all know to move up and out to the polls, even if we need to take them there ourselves.

And to worry about how free our free speech should be AFTER this election cycle.

To forget about the lies, and hate, and crazy right wing fan fiction on social media for right now.

Unless they try to stop us from voting.  And then we’ll…

Welp, see you later.

Well, we’ll cross that bridge in 10 days or less.  I guess.

A friend of mine sincerely asked me how I can be even slightly positive about the future of the country in light of where we are now. 

I immediately responded it’s because I spend a lot of my working life around young people in college, the vast majority of whom loathe the MAGA agenda.

Deniers aside, it is a fact that 65% of Gen Zers voted for Joe Biden in 2020 and that in 2024 they will be the most powerful block of voters.

Zoomers unite

So now is the time to TALK, not lecture to them, about their fears, their truths and the truth of what is going on in the country vs. what is passing for truth these days.

And ask them to vote for themselves, or as a favor to you, if you know them well enough.  (Note: Yes, guilt can work.  I’m living proof!).

And then get your butt and the butt of everyone else you know into a virtual/mail-in or literal voting booth.

Yes

We can then scream, rant, chat or even blog about the distorted views and/or rights of any crazy that comes to mind after that.

Because we will still have the freedom and luxury to do so.

George Michael – “Freedom! ’90”

It’s Brutal Out There

What is that key 18-24 year-old demographic thinking about?  

Well, I’ll tell you.  Mostly they’re thinking they don’t want to be in 2021.  And, well, who can blame them? 

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

To mask, or not to mask?

These should not be the questions. 

And why are those questions even up for debate?

Have I been quiet lately?

Once we lived in a world where science ruled; where political leaders understood they needed to agree to disagree in order to govern; and where actual news footage of hundreds of rioters storming the Capitol building, destroying property and killing cops was at the very least seen as a…well…riot .

Yet today’s 2021 has become one big mass of illogical conclusions.  A literal Alice In Wonderland where up IS down and down IS up.

That is if we could even agree on the definitions of DOWN and UP.

Nope. Na-ah. I’m going back to bed.

No wonder our young people want nothing to do with it, or us.

Every spring I teach a class for college writing majors called Thesis Writing For Screen Media.  In it, graduating seniors develop and write either an original screenplay or TV series pilot and first season episode guide.

It’s not an exact science but what I have come to see annually after reading their work over the years is a cross-section of what’s going through the minds of those with far less experience but far more guile and energy than myself and those of my peers.

Not at all what I look like while grading these scripts

What I get is a brief but fleeting glance of what they see as…the future.  And given their age and the fact that they will soon be taking over the reigns of this, ahem, Wonderland, their perceptions are far more relevant than mine.  Or, likely, yours.

Some years the stories are mostly pure escapist and other times they veer towards the deadly depressing in a way you can only pull off when you’re in college.  One year there were far too many scripts centered around technology (Note: At least for my tastes, which means more than three) and in another a decade back I wanted to shoot myself in the head when I had four or five (though it felt like ten) leaning heavily towards relentless versions of Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter sword and sorcery.

My notes. #igiveup

Of course, mixed into these are always, always, ALWAYS takes on love, injustice and outrageous coming of age, buddy, love stories in the contemporary world. 

Not much like that this year.

Of the twelve scripts I read, only ONE took place in 2021.  That means ELEVEN of them were set in the past, the future or, in one case, in an alternate animated universe that has never existed but you sure wish could exist.  Particularly in these days.

OK but not THIS alternate reality

I’ve got stories in the roaring twenties and depression era New York City.  I’ve got one that takes place in 18th century West Asia, two others set in the intolerant post Civil War west of the 1800s, and another in a literal ghost town not of this earth.

There is one that takes place far in the future on various planets, a second set in ancient Greek mythology (Note: Gods and all) and a third set only five years ago in a pre-pandemic restaurant.

I can’t wait to erase this from my memory

The sole story that takes place in our contemporary world is about three people, two of whom are on the spectrum, and all of whom pretty much live in their own worlds and mostly try to ignore ours.

It doesn’t take an analyst to understand what these writers are doing, and if you guessed taking the easy way out you would be incorrect.

We can intellectualize all we like – we baby boomers and we Gen Xers – but it seems clear that the reality we’ve rendered for the next generation has become pretty much incomprehensible to understand, that is with any real insight, without stepping out of our time period.

Gen Z edition

You can’t make sense of the illogical.  You can’t write about a world where there are no basic truths or rules the vast majority can agree upon.  If you want to answer real questions of faith or humanity you have to go back at least five years or more (Note: Preferably more) or move ahead some indeterminate amount of time (Note: Preferably A LOT more than five years).

Normally I tell young writers who are stumped or shy or reticent, if you merely look around your house or your neighborhood you will discover far more stories than you could possibly tell in a lifetime, much less a semester.

Me when I see that there is a screenwriting professor in the script

Choose what you can’t get off your mind, what fascinates you and go ALL IN.  Use all of YOUR creativity, YOUR craft and YOUR mind to recount to us one of those and you have the best chance of hooking us.  Not to mention, you’ll be amazed at how writing about what you care about in the here and now makes us exponentially care about it, too.

I gave that same min-speech this year but the result was like nothing in the past.

It’s not like there weren’t thematic personal truths to the stories they were telling.  We still got the love stories, the tales of deep hurt (Note: Sometimes even peppered with wry comedy) and the rite of passage journeys.  There were also those of war, of survival and even of government corruption that included people of all races, colors and sexual persuasions.

But in none of them, not a one, was there a literal evocation of 2021 as we know it.

Yep, this… entirely.

In reflection, this was a wise decision.

How can these young people, or any of us, write about something with any meaning that we can’t, at present, even begin to understand?

Olivia Rodrigo – “brutal”