Betty, Veronica and Craig

Scriptnotes: Ep. 288

John and Craig look at what screenwriters can pick up from Kellyanne Conway, plus what John learned from going through the copy-editing process on his book.

We also answer listener questions about moving to Los Angeles and whether to use a pen name.


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UPDATE 2-18-17: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Hollywood is Always Dying

Scriptnotes: Ep. 287

Craig and John discuss a Vanity Fair article about the impending disruption of Hollywood and are unimpressed. The better question worth asking: if this were the end of the film and television industry, what signs would we look for?

Then it’s finally time to answer listener questions about folktales, translators and writers who just don’t get it.


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UPDATE 2-12-17: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

On Neutrality

Lewis Wallace, the only transgender reporter working at public radio’s Marketplace, was fired for this blog post questioning whether journalistic neutrality was a futile ideal:

Obviously, I can’t be neutral or centrist in a debate over my own humanity. The idea that I don’t have a right to exist is not an opinion, it is a falsehood. On that note, can people of color be expected to give credence to “both sides” of a dispute with a white supremacist, a person who holds unscientific and morally reprehensible views on the very nature of being human? Should any of us do that?

Referees for sporting matches can be neutral because they don’t have any stake in the game. The same could be said for generations of straight white reporters as they covered civil rights and gay equality. In their hearts, they might be rooting for one side, but it was obvious how to keep their personal viewpoints out of their stories.

In writing about the firing, Wallace points to the Marketplace ethics code. This seems to be the relevant clause:

Marketplace staffers must keep their political views private.

How, exactly? As a transgender person, Wallace’s existence has a political dimension. The same holds true for an African-American, a woman who uses a wheelchair, or an immigrant with an accent.

The ability to keep one’s political views private is a privilege not everyone has.

Marketplace fired a reporter for daring to point that out.

Script Doctors, Dialogue and Hacks

Scriptnotes: Ep. 286

John and Craig return to the topic of dialogue, looking at how characters talk in film and why dialogue matters.

We also discuss two terms often applied to screenwriters, and why people should stop using them.


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You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 2-06-17: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

You should run for office

Writing for Slate, Osita Nwanevu makes a compelling case for running for office:

The most meaningful thing you can do in the age of Trump, for your community, for your country, is run for office. Across America, Republican politicians stand ready to do their part in the implementation of the Trump and GOP agenda. Beat them.

Across America, Democrats blind to the stakes of the moment, comfortable in their positions or too timid to fight effectively against the Republican Party, stand, like bowling pins, ready to be knocked down again. Replace them. Not with some milquetoast professional or former lobbyist groomed by the state party. You. You, with the undocumented parents; you, who remembers when your town was a steel town; you, PTA regular; you, professor; you, concerned citizen, should run.

Nwanevu is calling for getting rid of well-meaning but complacent Democrats. Even more importantly, we need to make sure there’s someone running against every Republican in the country.

In November, incumbent Republican Pete Sessions was easily re-elected to the House despite Clinton’s win over Donald Trump in his Texas district. How? The Democrats ran the worst candidate they had against him: nobody.

After the Women’s March, there’s been a lot of talk about how to channel that energy into results. Elections matter. But it’s not just about taking back the White House and Congress. From state legislatures to school boards, every one of the 519,682 elected offices in the United States affects people’s daily lives.

First-timers often win these spots. The Tea Party did. It’s time for new people to step up. Nwanevu’s article has great links to resources for people thinking about running.

Over the next four years, I suspect we’ll see unprecedented energy and money flowing towards state and local races. Like the Tea Party, we’ll make gains. And like the Tea Party, we’ll no doubt elect some idiots.

But we’ll also elect some visionaries, the kinds of folks who would otherwise be launching start-ups.

We’ll elect military veterans concerned about gun violence and clean water.

We’ll elect moms who want to defend reproductive rights and freedom of the press.

Even if your life-long dream isn’t politics, it’s probably consuming a huge percentage of your brain cycles these days. Do you feel the country sliding off the road? Perhaps it’s time to grab the wheel.