This topic of talking and not listening is becoming somewhat of a special theme I've addressed multiple times. It's the main theme of THIS film. And also THIS one. There is no other instance where this phenomenon takes place than when Americans start yowling about their first amendment "right" to freedom of speech.
The privilege of free speech is a beautiful thing and it is something we are meant to be grateful for. It's why it is listed in the first amendment AFTER freedom of religion, no doubt. Because firstly there should be a thing we send our thanks to, then comes the list of things to be thankful for. Lately it seems like the true freedom to express yourself holds little power since most people aren't really listening to the free speaker. It's akin to the old adage "if a tree falls in the forest and no one was around to hear it, did it make a sound?"
If we applied that question to free speech it would go something like "If you exercised your right to free speech and no one was around to hear it, did you actually say anything?" Even more poignant, if no one hears your free speaking, are you even American anymore? More poignant still, are you even human anymore?
'I'll just leave this here' is a popular caption for many a social media posting, usually accompanied by a half-baked meme that aligns with the poster's convictions. Hey maybe the message behind the meme is actually a positive truth! But what good does it do if you just left it there? You just letting us know that's how you feel and that's that? Are you just sharing for the sake of sharing? Exercising your privilege to say it just because you can?
There's been lots of talk lately of having a "national conversation". Everything from gun control to healthcare to racism to kneeling during the anthem to how we all feel about one guy living in a white mansion. The second a group of unsuspecting Americans are murdered by surprise, it's suddenly "TIME FOR A NATIONAL CONVERSATION" about guns. Some football players kneel during the national anthem? TIME FOR A NATIONAL CONVERSATION about how black people have been treated for 250 years in this country. But wait, hold that thought! Because the Senate is voting on healthcare legislation, so now it's a TIME FOR A...
You get the gist.
Having a national conversation is a cute idea. It really is. But let's stop bullshitting ourselves already. We don't have conversations in this country. We have opinions and we have platforms in which to display those opinions and then they get buried in a pile of other opinions until we're all on to the next thing to be opinionated about. Hamster wheel? Negative eco-system? Whatever you want to call, DON'T call it a conversation. Conversations require 50% speaking and 50% listening. If we only held other people's freedom to speak opinions in as high regard as we do our own, maybe we can start some dialogue. Maybe.
I, for one, will only believe it when I see it.
I got back to letting faith and improvisation take the wheel when creating the art for this film. Felt good. Real good. Good to get back to the art store and find some cheap items I don't usually use. Like, construction paper! And white charcoal pencils. And crayons:
Don't forget, sound is half the picture. The entire "a-ha!" in this film is in the sound. Or lack thereof. It was an interesting challenge to make the sound design for the second half of the film, which is entirely muted but slightly audible, only letting the low frequencies pass through. It definitely opened the door to other possibilities for making a point by choosing not to use sound.
Here are some finished bits from the film:
Thanks for reading! If you haven't watched the film already, go WATCH IT HERE. If you have, go out and LISTEN. Let me know how that national conversation is going too ;)