Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Made Me a Speech

Tonight we had our first benefit for the play that I wrote, Blindside. I made a speech at that benefit that I thought was pretty good, so I wanted to share it here. (To whom it may concern: I was wearing a black corset top, a black velvet knee-length skirt with tons of black tulle in waves around the bottom, and black sandals.)

I thought about this outfit. I wanted to wear this skirt and then thought, "Will it keep people from taking me seriously as a writer?" But now I wear it as a choice. I wear it to remind myself—and you—that I am, as my friend so eloquently puts it, living in contradiction.

Most of the hue and cry over Abu Ghraib, at least in journalistic and artistic circles, has been rhetorical. We ask "How could we let this happen? Why is no one doing anything about this?" as if the answers were so obvious they're barely worth considering. Yet Abu Ghraib is hardly unprecedented in American history. Michael Kinsley says succinctly of systemic abuse and torture, "We live with it." As such, we live in contradiction. We are truly, and reasonably, horrified by Abu Ghraib and all that comes with it—just as we've been horrified by every combat atrocity that's come to light, from My Lai on back. We live with it. The ways in which we live with it reveal more about us, as a people, than we'd necessarily care to know.

In such a social climate, "Why is no one doing anything about this?" is not a rhetorical question. It's a question that, honestly addressed, can shed a great deal of light on character both individual and national. In Blindside I have tried to write, and believe I have written, a play that asks these questions genuinely and provides a context for finding the answers. If an audience looks for those answers, and the real questions that result, there I see the possibility of change being created through art.


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