Friday, May 29, 2009

Un-freakin'-believable

I've been in a snit about my daughter's middle school, whose PTA thinks it's A-OK to spend thousands of dollars for a party to celebrate our kids' graduation from the eighth grade, despite the current economy and the effects rippling outward through many of the students' households.

It's unseemly. It's in bad form. We've been fighting a tough battle for educational funds here in California, and to see money squandered on this ridiculous event (two years ago, when my son graduated, the "games" included an America's Next Top Model stage where moms helped apply makeup and dress the girls in evening wear, as well as a raffle for gift certificates to mall merchants, for which the kids needed merely to show up to qualify - further reinforcement of our dangerous culture of entitlement) when thirty miles away buildings are falling down on the heads of our students' Oakland peers is unconscionable.

But then I saw this: in Montgomery County, Georgia, parents evidently think it's just fine to insist on a segregated prom. No shit - they don't let the black and white kids attend each others' proms - despite the fact that the kids themselves think the "tradition" is absurd.

I tend to agree with my friend Chris (here and here) that politics don't belong in a writer's blog, but one of the gifts of writing fiction is the chance to slip your views into your stories, subtly or not.

My crime series is set in a rural Missouri that differs from the one where I grew up in a key way: all of the key characters - at least the good guys - have pretty progressive views. You won't find a lot of discrimination coming from my heroines. That was an easy choice for me. In a lot of ways it's unrealistic: backwards views still run rampant through much of the midsection of our country - in people who are, in many ways, good in the ways that most of us understand human goodness.

People are a blessed mess. Every one of us has an ugly underbelly and in many - most? - cases, the examination of such is the foundation of good crime fiction. But I've let myself off the hook for trading authenticity for the right character for the book.

I'll tell you one thing, though: Stella Hardesty would laugh her ass off at that fool party they'll be throwing next week...

photo: Gillian Laub

5 comments:

Chris said...

Of course, me saying, "now I'm not one to talk politics on my writing blog" right before I launched into a political rant was about as hypocritical as when some folks say, "now I'm not racist, but..." The fact is, though, you can't expect an author's work to be absent their views. I wouldn't be the person I am without Jim Henson, Stephen King, or a whole host of other folks whose politics and opinions doubtless colored mine. And often, fiction drives culture, in that it can serve to hold a mirror up to our better traits, as well as our worst. I think we as writers (particularly as writers of crime fiction) are *supposed* to do that. The trick is to have the discussion in an honest a way possible, and often politics gets in the way of that.

Also, that party sounds ridiculous.

Lisa Hughey said...

Gee Soph, tell us how you really feel... :)

Lisa Hughey said...

PS it is truly wonderful how color blind our kids are...they have little of the racist filters that populate even our generation....

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