Monday, November 11, 2013

A Few Good Dolphins or Code Red Writing

Did the Dolphin coaches order a "Code Red?" Was the alleged hazing of Jonathan Martin by Richie Incognito a direct order by the Dolphin coaches to toughen Martin up? And what does this have to do with writing critique groups?

The Dolphins play the Bucs tonight, and they will be missing Incognito and Martin. If you Google "Dolphins" and "Code Red" you will find several web reports saying that the hazing was not only condoned, it might have come from the coaching staff. The phrase "Code Red" of course came from the film "A Few Good Men." In the film, Jack Nicholson's character, Colonel Jessup orders some of his Marines to physically punish poor Private Santiago in order to toughen him up, or get him to quit. In his famed cross-examination, Tom Cruise asks Nicholson for the truth, and Nicholson famously responds "You can't handle the truth!"

Which bring us to writing groups...which can be like a football locker room for the literary set. Have you ever been in a writing group where everybody seemed to turn on one person? Have you ever been that person? Do you wonder if like Jonathan Martin, the bad word came from above?

As a writer, I've had a few times where I've felt like I was gang tackled. In film school, I wrote a student film.  It was directed by another student, who came from Korea. After our premiere there was some applause. For one moment, I felt confident that I could make it as a film maker. After the lights came up, the professor then ripped the film to shreds. 

He then asked the audience what they thought. He didn't give a Code Red, but it sure felt that way. Everybody in the audience jumped in, echoing what the Professor had said. Imagine Richie Incognito talking about story structure and dialogue and you can understand how I felt during the next hour.  I don't know the whole story, but the Korean Director had to quit school. I hope that he didn't quit life.

When we met privately later, the Professor was far nicer. Was it all an act? He actually told us "Go and do great things!"

I'm rooting for the Bucs tonight.

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