So a couple weeks back, I stumbled upon an opportunity for a fellowship for socially engaged art. Since I’m aiming to make socially engaged art through Burning Brigid, it seemed like a good fit. And while I’m not actively looking for fellowships and grants, it seemed worth pursuing, as it was right in front of me and all.
The process begins with a letter of intent, to explain what I’m doing and how it relates to their guidelines, in 500 words or less. So I started with our About page. And then I got into how our work is socially engaged, why it is important, and how we are approaching our goals:
Psychologically and sociologically, people use mainstream media as the yardstick for what is “normal” in our culture. When media depicts a “normal” that does not accurately reflect reality, it creates a vicious cycle where creators and audiences unconsciously fall into the mindset that stories about straight white cis male protagonists are universally relatable, while stories about other people are not. Established norms influence audience expectations, norms and expectations inform creator choices, and creator choices reaffirm those norms. My goal is to interrupt that cycle, to create and distribute stories that are both about other people and universally relatable, and thereby influence and hopefully change what is seen to be normal. Ultimately I want that influence to be subtle but pervasive – not an attempted lecture that may garner resistance, but a story that fans can genuinely enjoy for itself, that just happens to be about women, minority, and LGBT characters.
The first project will be Sleep Study, a three-season, trans-media web series. Characters were developed to be flexible with regard to age and gender, and casting was gender-blind (anyone could read for any role) with effort made to reach out to performers of color. It is an ensemble piece with multiple leads; and the complete story will be told not just through video episodes, but also in-character online interaction with fans through Twitter, blogging, and other forms of interaction, to create an alternate reality experience.
This is why, and how, we do what we do. It’s an ambitious goal and I hope our fans find us, support us, and tell their friends about us. Because ultimately that’s how change will happen.
How has entertainment media impacted you as a fan?