Sunday, September 07, 2014

Lazy Sunday # 340: Thirteen Hours

Here’s the thing about dramatic television. There’s no place in a writers room for ideologues.

Not to say you can’t hold views of any political stripe and hold them passionately. Not to say you can’t let your writing reflect that world view. Not even saying you can’t wield your point of view like a broadsword to bash those who hold an opposite vision.

But you can’t approach anything close to truth unless you understand why and how the opposite vision exists.

On opposite ends of our current political scale we have writers like David Mamet and Aaron Sorkin. And much as each cleaves to a particular Conservative or Liberal world view, each paints the other side as an adversary worthy of respect –- and perhaps even the side History will one day vindicate.

It’s like any good guy/bad guy scenario. Courageous and true as your protagonist may be, he’s nothing without his villain. And if your villain is a cartoon, your hero becomes one too.

Among the best insight’s into writing I’ve ever gained came from Steven de Souza, he of “Die Hard” fame – “Without Hans Gruber, John McClane is having a couple of drinks and going home”.

Without understanding the other side of any story –- what makes those whose values you reject or dismiss believe what they believe -- you simply don’t have the whole fully fleshed out story.

And as the man said, “Every bleach-blonde bimbo cheerleader in Georgia is gonna know it”.

In Cowboy parlance, “You can fool everybody but the bull”.

Two years ago this week, the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked. The Ambassador, an Aide and two Security contractors died. And nobody still knows exactly what happened.

More than that, those directly involved, the ones on the ground in Benghazi living that nightmare, have never publically spoken. Some were sworn to silence. Others had taken an oath of Omerta in advance. A few are still so seriously wounded they are unable to speak.

In their stead, idealogues on both ends of the political spectrum have written the narrative which best suits their world view. There have been outright lies, conspiracy theories, hypothetical scenarios, all those things a writer or a writers room encounters as it formulates a truth the audience will accept.

This week, a book written by some of those who were on the ground in Benghazi will be published. It is entitled “13 Hours”.

Last week, those authors submitted to their first public interview.

Whether you accept or reject what they have to say, what resonates throughout is authenticity. An authenticity that comes from definable character traits and a clear desire to provide clarity.

It’s the same authenticity that compelled Joseph Conrad to define his job as a story teller with the simple phrase, “My job is to make you see”.

And you cannot see the whole picture if you are blinkered in one direction.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

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