Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016: Who Dictates The Right to Share Your Art?

2016 has started and I feel I'm drying up creatively. I'm not certain what I should be working on next and how I should go about it.

I'm also frightened. Frightened by the obsessive need people have to dictate other people's art. What one is allowed to do or not allowed to do. If I were to adhere to the rules being laid out now across social platforms, blogs, personal essays - I can only write about the plight of a 46 year old white gay male born in Texas who traveled to NYC to become an actor. That would be my life in a nutshell. There appears to be more and more backlash against white males attempting to write or direct stories that do not involve them.

As a white man, I'm not allowed to speak to female issues, other cultures, or religions that are not my own. If I do, I am thought of as perpetuating some sort of white dominance and supremacy that truly has nothing to do with how I live my life. Those words conjure up images that do not sit well with the man that has spent years as a proponent of diversity. 

Perhaps I should be glad that I co-wrote a musical in the 90s that dealt with racial tensions in the 60s and centered around a bi-racial woman being trapped between two worlds as I would be crucified if I were to write that today.

Or that an award-winning film I directed was called MOTHER and I'm obviously not one.

Maybe I should have caught on when I wrote a novel in first person perspective from that of a 30-something year old woman...and a reviewer said they were nervous when they saw a man's name as the author (yet they went on to love the book, my sensibilities with the character, and recommended it to female readers).

I don't write all of this to toot my own horn or my abilities as a director or writer. I write it to say as much as I am about stories of adversity and diversity, I think it is wrong to put people into a bubble and only allow them to do one thing. To neuter what a writer/director can or cannot do means certain stories may never be heard. I pride myself on writing outside of my own world. I research religions, history, settings in order to share many stories and not tell my own over and over. I applaud men like Sean Penn who take on the challenge to bring Harvey Milk to life for us and do not cast stones because he is not an openly gay man.

If we continue to say that people should only write, direct, speak to what they know, we run the risk of people not attempting to understand the lives of others. In no way do I say that people should not share their own stories, but I think there are numerous ways for us to learn about each other. 

But fear, uncertainty, and back-lash causes my creativity to shrivel up and wonder what 2016 will hold.  

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