If we are all living scripts written by others, who then is writing them? Often it is obvious who is writing our scripts, churches, Hollywood, television, advertising. More recently, as scripting has become more pervasive and ulterior, and the writers cover their tracks more effectively, spotting it and its origins is more difficult.
The first great script writers were the religions of the world. From early times forward to the Middle Ages, the gods dictated our behavior. Implicitly or explicitly, religion and the associated God or gods framed human behavior. The great religions had a monopoly on the scripts of our lives until the 14th century. After that, other forces whittled away at their power.
Upon the Enlightenment, secular philosophy tried its hand at guiding human behavior. Its lack of threat or consequence hampered it. Royalty, regimes, political entities also entered the lists. Their influence often was aimed at others and not themselves. Popes, kings, tyrants and generals all took their turns at controlling behavior by virtue of stories and legends.
In more modern and secular times, individuals and smaller groups gained influence. Evangelists, gurus and other mesmerizers gained their footholds in scripting our behavior. Modern science is now a script writer. For example, the behavioral psychologist, John Watson and then his counterforce, Benjamin Spock, wrote our child-rearing scripts in the early 20th Century.
Not to be overlooked, one of the great scripters of our modern and secular life is “Hollywood”. Their scripted mores surrounding marriage, sex, alcohol, cigarettes, crime and justice pervaded their movies and scripts. Knowing that, the financial forces in America directly sought and gained influence over the content of much of Hollywood’s scripts.
Once Hollywood, in a modern secular world, gained that primary influence, the other media: television, radio, advertisers, newsprint, the internet in all their variations, and often insidiously and unconsciously, infiltrated and steered our behavior.
The early script writers were not subtle. They were heavy handed. “Here’s your script….LIVE IT!” ….under threat of death or eternal damnation. In today’s world both sides have become more sophisticated and subtle. Hiding scripts and their motives has become an art. One must now work at uncovering scripts and their motives.
Let’s take a look at some of these more subtle and hidden scripts:
Let’s start with my two previous posts: 50 Shades of Gender and the GenderBread Man.
Though the 50 forms of gender now instituted on Facebook doesn’t seem like a script, I would maintain it is. It is not in narrative form, but it informs the way you think, the list intends you to think inside of its boundaries. That is scripting!
The Genderbread Man is also a script that allows a teacher to filter into a traditional fairy tale the modern tabs of gender shifting. There is a certain segment of society that wants that change. Books such as “I Have Two Dads” or “I Have Two Moms” are more overt examples of scripts that seek to make change seem more mainstream.
Polls can be scripting. What, and how they ask it, becomes a script that enables their agenda. Recently, it became public that federal funds were used (approx. 400k) to take a poll among black male adolescents. The poll asked them to “grade” the pleasure level of their first homosexual encounter. I make the case, that the poll did not care about the answers. The poll itself was the purpose. The poll itself was a script! The poll itself served merely the purpose of de-sensitizing the issue….to make it seem more mainstream….to diffuse any shame or embarrassment surrounding the very implied behavior. The question assumed the behavior. The assumption validated the behavior. That’s a script!
Polls in general have to be seen as potential scripts. Honest pollsters try to purge any sway or suggestion from their questionnaire. But consciously or unconsciously, scripting can creep in.
Another recent example of scripting in less than obvious modes: The history AP exam this year received a host of complaints along this line. So much so, that they have promised revisions in next year’s AP exam. At issue were questions, and limited choices of answers, that seemed like a form of Zinn directed history. Howard Zinn’s work is getting increased exposure in high school and colleges, so that bias is a likely outcome. But the test seemed too tilted in that direction. And if you teach to the test…you have a script at work. Gee, it just seemed like a few test questions. The whole Common Core controversy is along the same line. Education is the bedrock of scripting.
Per my book,”see my book” I believe we live in a world of scripting. We have learned to live with it, and ignore it. But its repetitive and constant presence has consequence even if we don’t see or feel it at the moment. It is unconscious and cumulative. Like our computers, we have to often purge our files, or become victims of them. Be aware. Be relentless. Purge. Be Free. Be individual. Be Authentic!