On Stories and the Voices that get heard

The Snyder Cut of Justice League dropped last week. I don’t intend to watch it anytime soon. I know there are new things added and story points have been shifted. I can tell that Zach Snyder poured everything he had and everything WB had (70 million dollars!) into creating the world that he wanted people to see with Justice League. I can admire that from a filmmaker’s point of view.

I can’t sit for 4 hours with a story and have it categorized as a movie. The DC universe isn’t a favorite of mine but I honestly don’t think I would want a 4 hour MCU movie or a 4 hour Star Wars tale. My attention span was bad pre-pandemic and it’s utterly shot at this point. That being said, I am mature enough to wave and say “Have fun.”

I bring up this to point to this article from Vox: Justice League’s Snyder Cut saga reminds us which fans’ voices get heard

I had totally forgotten how we ended up with the Snyder cut in the first place. Angry people on social media “bullied” gatekeepers into making a cut of a film that didn’t exist. I say “bullied” because I don’t believe that billion dollar corporations can be bullied. Unlike the feds, I don’t believe that corporations are people. WB and DC made this cut because they know people will watch it several times and interact with it on socials or sign up for HBO Max. This came down to money. [Side Note, I have started saying money like Cardi B in her song “Money”, it’s fun.]

The, for lack of a better word, entitlement to demand a cut of a movie that doesn’t exist to the point that a business just does it is bizarre and very odd to me. I think it is a warping of the relationship between artist, art, and audience and it did give me things to ponder about what voices are heard around art.

I am currently reading The Source of Self-Regard which is a collection of essays, speeches, and meditations from the late great Toni Morrison. Like every time I read Toni Morrison, it’s a slow process. I always stop reading for the day not out of fatigue, but out of needing to think.

Every essay opens up so many thoughts: about the world, about being a creative, and about being a Black lady in America. I feel like I am constantly being unmade and rendered anew.

It’s challenging and wonderful all at the same time.

A recent passage stuck out to me in “The Price of Wealth, the Cost of Care”:

I am a writer and my faith in the world of art is intense but not irrational or naive. Art invites us to take the journey beyond price, beyond costs into bearing witness to the world as it is and as it should be. Art invests us to know beauty and to solicit it from even the most magic of circumstances. Art reminds us that we belong here. And if we serve, we last. My faith in art rivals my admiration for any other discourse. Its conversation with the public and among its various genres is critical to the understanding of what it means to care deeply and to be human completely. I believe.

Ever since I read this passage, I have been thinking of the role of the artist – the storyteller in my case. What stories do we tell in order to bear witness? What voices do we listen to show what it is to be human?

I don’t remember quite where I heard this from but it was in regards to the seemingly endless news about reboots, remakes, and sequels – you don’t want more of this story, you want more of what the story gave you.

It brings to mind Shonda Rhimes’ talking about taking Grey’s Anatomy back because she got to the point of trying to appease fans rather than tell the story she wanted.

I think we should listen to the voices of the audience. I also think that we should tell the stories that we are called to tell. There can be a balance in those things.

And as a queer Black woman, I want to distinguish between a voice crying out to be seen and portrayed with love and in all their humanity versus a voice saying that they did not like the twist that a show made.

There is a difference between hearing a call to tell someone’s truth versus hearing the cry of someone upset with how you told a story.

For me, I think the balance is going to come to a point where I just say “I hear you” and then tell what I learned.

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