Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Quality Control vs. Creative Freedom: Who Gets To Judge?

Quality: A general term applicable to any trait or characteristic whether individual or generic (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)

Check it out! A new Wall Street Journal article, “Drinks, Drugs, Dysfunction Star on Summer Cable TV” by John Jurgensen (July 20, 2007), analyzes creative depictions of substance abuse on cable shows. I am extremely pleased to see the PRISM Awards recognized in the article along with the concept of accurate depiction integrated into story telling.

EIC has pioneered depiction efforts working with the creative community for close to 25 years, initially addressing the perceived glamorization of drug use in comedy and drama, exploitation of drug use without the reality of negative consequences, or the portrayal as funny, sexy, or macho during the 1970s and ’80s.

As we were founded and are governed by entertainment professionals, EIC places a priority on creative freedom; we believe that writers and other creative people should be allowed to do what they feel necessary to tell a story the way it needs to be told. This is called artistry. After a couple of years of taking a strong “Just Say No” approach, EIC shifted focus from glamorization to accuracy. The response to this new attitude—challenging creators to be as accurate as possible while maintaining creative integrity and engaging audiences, rather than pointing the finger at “glamorous” portrayals and watering down everything for a general audience—was astounding. Our peers in the industry took on the challenge and asked for more.

This led to our publishing of a comprehensive creative community depiction encyclopedia, EIC's Spotlight on Depiction of Health and Social Issues: Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco Use and Addiction, in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). This resource set the standard for accurate depiction providing show researchers and writers with quick reference information about substance abuse all vetted by NIDA. In fact, we are updating the book right now.

Given today’s availability of resource information on myriad health and social issues for the creative community, I feel now is the time to issue a reality check for people who are never satisfied with what the entertainment industry produces. This constant complaining comes down to one common denominator: QUALITY. Quality is in the eye of the beholder.

EIC focuses on accurate, science-based information because by definition, the quality of anything is entirely subjective. What one person thinks is ‘off the mark’ may be ‘on the mark’ for others. You may find a particular depiction or character’s dialogue not entertaining and offensive, and I may find it a reflection of life as I know it or fantasy—escapism storytelling.

The bottom line: WHO IS TO JUDGE?


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