A tough balance between creative output and personal worldview
“Evil always manages to adapt and reinvent.”
I live in two worlds. The right-wing, gun-toting, meat-eating, Harley-riding, racist, homophobic, masochistic fantasy dynasty that is “Sons of Anarchy.” And the centrist-liberal, anti-gun, vegan, Tesla-driving, gay-priding, civil-minded, pro-choice existence that is my personal life. I often struggle with how much of each spills into the other.
For “Sons of Anarchy,” I struggle with not letting my personal politics pollute my creative choices. The same way I clash with how my creative choices often rub hard against who I am as a person.
I am very aware that “SOA” is an imaginary world. That’s why I lean so heavily on the absurdist quality in the show. The pulp nature of the violence keeps me in the creative arena of fantasy. I might as well be writing about wizards and fairies. Although I infuse my characters with my dreams, desires, defects and defenses, they do not share my outlook on life.
The awareness of my professional duality always becomes heightened and challenged in the face of gun violence and tragedy. I write a brutal show about guns, death and violence. Because of that, I have to take stock of my responsibility as an artist and understand my impact on the viewers.
Really? This is how you take responsibility? This is how you help heal the wounds? It was reckless and absurd. But I didn’t tweet or blog about it; I did something I often have trouble doing. I paused.
I realized that the NRA’s response was a tactic. By creating another conflict, guns vs. media, it continues to distract from the real issue: gun reform. So rather than retaliate, I think it’s imperative to stick to the quest for a solution. The NRA is not the bad guy, but it needs to cooperate in our need to end the violence.
What is the solution? I don’t know. No one does.
Yet many people have spoken up about the desperate need for reform. From President Obama to Howard Stern, folks have shared their sympathy and hope for change. The promising thing, and perhaps the only really different message that has landed, is the awareness that there is not just one thing responsible for the carnage. It’s not just gun laws or bad parenting or our mental health care system. It’s all those things and more.
Evil always manages to adapt, reinvent, circumvent and find new and extraordinary ways to rip out our hearts. Good needs to follow the same path. It’s time for our solutions to get off the linear track. As far as my own responsibility in the Newtown tragedy — I made a comment after the shooting in Aurora, which I still believe to be true: “Man’s inhumanity to man is as old as humanity itself. Some people just do evil things. Most do not. A billion people have seen Batman movies over the past 20 years, and they have been entertained and inspired. One man saw it as a sick entry point for mass murder. The one is tragic. The billion are not. I choose to write for the billion.”
Having said that, if in this quest for reform, empirical data surfaces that proves the violence in “Sons of Anarchy” is responsible for an uptick in violent acts, I would amend my current philosophy and take responsibility for the impact of my art. Until then, I’ll keep writing about wizards, fairies and bikers. And if need be, I’ll bite off my tongue.