Being Part of the Problem - 8/22/16
America has a gun problem. We really canít get enough of them. As a result we die by them way more often than we should. There are a lot of factors that go into that, but I think a big one is that pop culture makes guns sexy. Story after story comes out each year where the hero saves the day by killing a lot of, often nameless, ďbad guys.Ē It would be naive to think that being raised in a culture where the vast majority of our heroes are little more than vigilantes wouldnít lead a subset of the population to believe that itís okay to settle grievances with firearms. That means on some small level, we writers are culpable. We may not have given the weapon to the mass shooter, but we may have given him (and letís be honest here, itís most likely a him) the idea. Increasingly, this idea bothers me.

Iím not really sure what there is to do about it. Iím strongly opposed to any sort of censorship and I like a well told violent story. Violence is the distillation of a conflict down to its most primal. Kill or be killed is something we all get, and thatís why it works so well for storytelling. I donít think Iíd want to stop telling stories involving any sort of violence (and yeah, I realize violent stories have always been told), but I think Iím going to try and be more thoughtful about who is doing the violence, who is on the receiving end, and what the subtext is. Itís really easy to fall into the action cliches and just kill a bunch of randos as a way of ratcheting up the conflict, but not only is it bad for society, but itís lazy writing (which is a far worse sin). My hypothesis is that if done right, it will actually lead to better stories and if picked up by enough other writers, a slightly healthier society.

And if Iím wrong, shoot me.

© 1997-2015 Mike Townsend