Hey, so I can’t think up a good title today, so what?
Actually, titling is an issue I’m having these days. I’m 2/3 done with the third Downside book and it is still saved in Word as “Chess3” because the title I originally planned, CITY OF GHOSTS, was apparently a major film a few years ago and I’m leery of using something with that many Google hits. So that needs a title, bad.
I’m also just about 1/2 of the way through a new project which Agent Man and I both love, which has no title. It’s currently saved as BLOOD AND FAE, which is not really very good. Especially since while both blood and Fae figure in the plot, it’s not really about either of those things.
So anyway. The hubs and I were discussing titles in the car the other day, which led to movies, which led to movies that piss us off for one reason or another, which led us to A League of Their Own.
I hate that movie. I really, really hate that movie.
Or rather, I hate the ending of that movie. It pisses me off like almost nothing else.
What message are we supposed to take from that horrible ending, where in order to make her bitchy, miserable sister happy–to give her happiness she doesn’t deserve, as she is loathesome–the Gena Davis character throws the championship? Is my heart supposed to be warmed by that? Am I supposed to think that’s sweet?
Or am I supposed to think that if the Gena Davis character were my teammate, I would have ripped her eyeballs out of her head with a teaspoon?
Or, am I supposed to think that when it comes down to it, women just aren’t very good at competing, poor little dears, and they will always make emotional decisions rather than rational ones, and cannot ever get past their personal feelings and live up to their responsibilities?
Seriously. The fact that this ball of patronizing sexism was passed off as a movie for women to enjoy astounds me. It reads like something from a 70’s anti-women’s-lib screed: You can’t trust women because they can’t separate their emotions; you can’t put them in charge of multinational corporations because they won’t do what’s best for the company, only for themselves; they’re incapable of making sound decisions based on facts and not feelings.
And it was such a cute movie until then. I really enjoyed it. But what the hell good is it to have a movie where women are railing against sexism and determined to prove they can compete just as well as the men can–that all the silly little skirts and make-up tips are a big joke because women are tough and strong and can play a hell of a ballgame just like men–and then have the entire ending turn on the fact that at least one of them cannot in fact do that? So instead of having a film about how women really *can* do things, you have a movie about how women *say* they can do things but really are irresponsible and silly and will let their teammates down to make their sisters happy?
It just frustrates me and irritates me. Gena Davis’s character had a responsibility and she threw it away–threw away the hopes and dreams of people who supported and cared about her–in order to please someone who clearly did not particularly care about her because she was too busy caring only about herself.
I think this is doubly on my mind of late because I’m dealing, in the third Downside book, with a lot more emotional crap than I have in the first two, as my MC struggles with the consequences of hurting other people emotionally, and realizes that she herself does have those inconvenient things called feelings and that she can’t pretend she doesn’t. So there’s a lot of facing-up-to-things and a lot of thoughts and worries about feelings that, while they existed in the first book and a bit more in the second–Chess was never an automaton or someone so Tough And Hard she ate nails or anything like that–weren’t really focused on then.
And it’s difficult to find a balance, between trying to write an awesome, creepy, scary, exciting urban fantasy (trying to write, I said; I’m not claiming my books are any of these things although I certainly hope they are), and trying to write a book where people are having emotional issues and those emotional issues feel organic and real; which is to say, the characters think about them even at inconvenient times, and are confused about them, and hate having them, and want certain things emotionally and feel embarrassed and silly for wanting those things, and generally don’t know how to deal with them. Especially as they’re emotional issues with which the characters have never dealt before, and that makes them vulnerable.
How do you decide which decisions are practical and which are emotional? How do you handle making an emotional decision when you know you should be making a practical one but can’t help yourself?
For me the difference is in how the character themselves feel about the decision they’ve made. My biggest issue with that stupid League of their Own ending was that we as the audience were seemingly pushed into feeling that Davis made the right choice; her disgraceful, disrespectful, cruel little trick on the rest of her team was played off as the moral and caring choice. I found that offensive, personally; I wouldn’t have had such an issue with the film had her character been castigated for what she’d done–the way she deserved to be.
So I work hard, generally, to show that there are consequences to incorrect decisions and that emotions breed complexity. You can’t just tell someone you’re sorry and have that make everything okay. You can’t ask for forgiveness and expect to be given it immediately. You don’t get to make all of the decisions in emotional situations involving other people.
It’s a fine line to walk, I think. And I hope I’m walking it well, that my characters’ emotional issues aren’t overpowering the rest of the story but aren’t suddenly disappearing and reappearing, leaving the reader to wonder what the heck is going on. I guess we’ll find out.
How do you handle your characters’ emotional decisions? What is your favorite book or film in which those decisions were made?