Post by AWILLIS957
I'm sure you're right. But I was thinking of ways to vary the voices in
scripts. I've noticed an increase in the past two years of female characters in
authority positions on British television, particularly in hospital and police
series. In one police series both the leading detectives were women (I don't
mean, like Cagney and Lacey; these two were running the unit). This is all to
the good, but has led to more female characters talking like male characters,
in that brusque, businesslike, analytical manner that is a cinch for writers to
dash off, resulting in a driving homogeneity that rings false with me.
Interesting take... For me, such TV situations have a ring of truth
simply because I've been exposed to more than my share of women (I've
been around a while) who find themselves in authority positions and
have no female role models, so they take on attributes of the only
role models available to them. Consequently, instead of
"reinterpreting" the authority and tailoring it to suit themselves,
they too often become hard, masculine, and barking.
Then there is the area of "cultural modifiers." How has the 20th
century impacted on the British and/or American culture? For example,
after WWII, American women were beaten back into domesticity with a
large government stick! "You cannot keep your well paying
defense-work jobs that you have advanced and excelled in, because some
poor returning GI who has a family to support deserves your job more
than you do." And American women bought into it. Then realized
rather late in the game that they really didn't want to give all that
up. The years of "women's lib" have modified the American perception
of what is feminine and what is not.
How many Hollywood movies can you name, besides "Erin Brokavich," that
present women executives in a positive light? Or ANY light, for that
matter? If you were to do a remake of "Bridge on the River Kwai"
today, what WOMAN would you consider casting in Alec Guinness' role?
Could "Dead Poets' Society" be successfully rendered in a girl's
My real life experience is that when women take on executive roles, we
do tend to set aside our femininity. Why? Well, the first problem is
that too many men interpret "femininity" it as a come on and/or a
challenge. Sorry. Voice of experience here. And secondly, whether
you're dealing with a male or female as their superior in a matter
that involves any sort priority, deadline, or even a "calling on the
carpet" for someone who is under your jurisdiction, ain't no way that
works except to be "authoritarian." And it doesn't matter how much
perfume or how many bows the woman wears, "authoritarian" is *always*
interpreted as "masculine." Unfortunately, "authoritarian" is also
what all too often is the only reliable tool available. Damned if you
do, damned if you don't!
Post by AWILLIS957
The varying of voice from character is a crucial skill, but one that often
eludes writers. I suspect that's because they aren't observing enough. They're
writing scripts that are like other scripts (instead of saying, this is what
the police are like, they're saying, this is what the police are like in other
My impression is that you're talking about television shows as opposed
to feature films. My observation is (it's 147 years since I worked
anywhere near a TV camera!) that the compressed time format of
television doesn't leave a lot of room for exploiting less-than-lead
characters. But I will quickly admit that there *are* ensemble TV
shows such as "ER" (and others) that do explore "everyone" for the
many aspects of their life and personality. I'm not saying you're
wrong about the "shorthand" of writing this kind of character. I'm
just not convinced that it's always and wholly lazy writing.
Expedient? Yes. Lazy? The jury is still out.
Post by AWILLIS957
Mysti pointed out something that I've never used in a script but that I knew
instantly was right.
<Women tend to use more "verifiers" (repeating last statement to ensure
<it was heard correctly, or tags like "I see"
<or "does that make sense"?
I realise that all my female friends use something like that last sentence when
talking to me, whereas my male friends don't. My female friends confess a
problem, or articulate a feeling, and then they say something like "am I being
stupid?", "is that mad?", or, indeed, "does that make sense?"
SOME women! My perception and experience is that that is a learned
behavior. For example, I don't think the real life "Aunty Ems"
(Wizard of Oz) of yesteryear did that sort of thing. I also think the
more education a woman has (interacting with her peers along the way),
the more likely this behavior is developed/learned (assuming it's not
learned at home from Mom). It's a very 1960s California "Touchy
Feely" come-visit-me-in-the-ashram kind of thing that has now spread
throughout the whole culture. I've made conscious efforts to give it
up. I've also noticed that when I do it, I'm feeling defensive about
something and looking for approval.
Thinking it over, I think it's also very reflective of the subliminal
questions that women have -- and have passed from one generation to
the next -- regarding their role in the world. Not to mention in
their home, their daily lives, their marriages, their jobs. But I
would call them "validators" rather than verifiers. I think they are
a means of seeking validation for yourself. "Self validation" may be
the ideal, but we all seek approval from outside sources.
Which brings up the "other side of the coin." How have the changes in
women's roles impacted on men's roles? Certainly they are there.
But.... Overall, the driving force in the male half of the species is
still procreation. At the extreme risk of sounding like a militant
feminist (which I absolutely am not!), when the modern couple comes
home at night from their respective executive positions, how many guys
do you think still say, "Do the laundry, then do me!" '-)
Seriously, there have been changes for men to assimilate, but not as
radical as those women have made voluntarily and as a result of
Post by AWILLIS957
I've long given up the male problem-solving approach to my female friends'
problems, because they never take my advice. In fact, one friend has been
coming to me with recurrences of the same triangular relationshipo problem for
the last five years. I've realised that they don't want solutions or advice,
even when they ask for them, even if they make a goood framework for a
heart-to-heart; what they want is simply to air the matter, turn it over aloud
with a friend, as a way of grappling with it. I'm not like that; I keep all my
relationship stuff to myself, for some reason. It's always a slight defeat when
someone finds something out.
I think the proper psychiatric term is "ventilate." '-)
Post by AWILLIS957
By the way, I'm not saying that women are more full of problems than men. My
friends talk to me about good stuff, too, like auditions, or fancying a certain
bloke. Once again, nothing I say will make any difference, so I listen - I even
do that therapist thing of replaying them back to themselves. By default, I've
gained a reputation as a good listener, even though I'm essentially a man's
man, who would rather talk sport, art, and theory in an ideal world.
Well, I'm probably not a typical female, and therefore my "insights"
may be open to challenge. In the midst of a heated argument, I once
asked my second (ex)husband why the hell he had married me. Without
missing a beat, he very levelly replied, "Because you think like a
man." <sigh> *NO* idea what he meant. I think I just think like