Sunday, March 06, 2005
General Update

One of the big differences between this little community and, say, Memphis -- from my perspective, at least -- is that there seems to be a much greater tolerance, even enthusiasm for real diversity here. It often seems in the south -- particularly in the rural south -- that there's only one genuinely "right" way to be, with a few acceptable variations; anything else makes you something of a target for disdain, if not overt rejection.

That's less the case here, I think. I'll give you an example: here on campus, we have a girl with a goatee. Now, I'm not talking about a butch girl in casual drag, or a FTM transsexual -- although either of those cases would be welcomed in much the same way; I'm just talking about your garden-variety bearded lady. She's got a nice little tuft of wiry, curly black hairs sprouting from her chin and fading up the sides of her cheeks, turning back into something like sideburns along her ears. She's not competing with Grizzly Adams or anything, but many a fourteen-year-old boy would be proud of facial hair like hers.

In many places, this feature would be cause for shame and ridicule; she would doubtless go to great lengths to remove it, conceal it, or eradicate it entirely, and she could probably manage to do so with some money and effort. But here, she can leave it alone, and be accepted by the local community as she is, goatee and all. And I think that's pretty fucking cool.

The general absence of television (and all the envy it produces), the increased exposure to other kinds of people and the decreased emphasis on mass culture means that there's less pressure here to conform to any particular ideal. And I really enjoy living in a community where lesbian couples push strollers down the main street alongside orthodox jewish families, hippies from the communal organic farms in the surrounding mountains interact with Boston skiers in the shops, and the seeming multitudes of foreign students intern at local schools. Hell, we even have a few Bush voters (although we do tend to keep an eye on them.)

Wouldn't this be a great world if boys wearing makeup -- or girls with goatees -- could walk down the streets of Horn Lake, Mississippi as comfortably as they do here? If people could just be whoever they are without getting hassled for it? If we could just accept each other, whatever that means, and stop wasting our lives worrying about matching somebody else's ideal? Wouldn't that be blissfully wonderful?

Well, I think it would. But that's just me.

Anyway, in a sudden burst of inspiration and activity, I've found myself with a completed first draft of a short screenplay. It's based on a short story -- I'll have to figure out how to work around that if I decide to produce it -- but it might even be ideal for my current cinematic purposes. I selected this story to work with at random, and I was initially chagrined to discover that the entire story took place in a dream. I have a particular pet peeve in film -- I really, really dislike dream sequences; I think they're generally ineffectually-done and most often vapid and pretentious. So what better challenge could I present myself than to write (and possibly make) a film that takes place entirely in a dream state, if only to see if I can do any better? It also dovetails nicely with my recent academic forays into experimental and abstract film; there are a few techniques I'd quite like to play with, and this might be an ideal vehicle. It may ultimately end up being something of a case of copying the works of the masters, but it's just a short... aside from the obvious narrative factor, it's a very simple little story, with only two central characters (or depending on your perspective, perhaps only one), one main location, and not much else. I have a few months to play with it; we'll see what happens.

This time next week I should be on my way back to Memphis for a ten-day spring break; I wouldn't have imagined that I'd be looking forward to going to Memphis this much. If you're one of my Memphis circle of friends, you can expect to be dragged out at least once during my visit, so keep an eye on your voicemail and inbox.
2:36 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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