Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So... we're back.

Mostly out of vanity but also because my journal and I are at odds right now and I need a neutral place keep track of what's going on in my head. I don't know if I'll invite many people to read but if I do I promise to present some substance to counteract the overshare that is bound to occur.

I think it fitting to start with what got me to open up again. The following is a note I wrote on Facebook and the subsequent responses, for which I am very grateful.

I stopped blogging because it was seriously affecting my motivation to do the writing that I get paid for and work on that ever-looming screenplay.

Also, I suck at it.

However, with everything going on I feel compelled to crack my knuckles and be completely self-indulgent for a moment. What's more, on a subject that I am completely terrified of: politics. I know what's going on but am by no means an intellectual on the subject, and I am admittedly an idealist who is not entirely certain where she stands on some issues. That being said, I do know what the media is throwing at us and I feel moved to share what it means to me personally.

Let's start with the lady making all the headlines.

I've been called a lot of names since I got knocked up in my junior year of high school. I'm casually placed in the ranks of strippers and welfare patrons, and (thanks to Juno and that Apatow fellow) often compared to Hollywood's story of what I am without a second thought. I'm stared at, pitied and gossiped about. Still. And one day I'm going to have a lot of explaining to do to someone a lot more important to me than any of those people.

But I've got nothing on Bristol Palin. It's not just the people at her high school and the PTA parents she'll get to deal with one day that are talking about her, it's every media outlet in the country and pretty much anyone with a political agenda. As one journalist explains, "I think Sarah would much prefer to be talking about [the needs of the country], rather than having to feed her trampy daughter and her jock boyfriend into the GOP happy-ending machine." Classy.

Why are we still talking about this???

Even if you have no concern for a scared 17-year-old or the baby that didn't ask to deal with this, even if you truly believe with all your heart that she is a WHORE and deserves to be called so in all caps and boldface on the cover of every tabloid for what she's gotten herself in to, surely you can see that this is the last thing we need to be talking about right now.

Why is our perception of a person's moral character (often developed with the help of key words like "God" or "whore" from the mouths of little people in our TV who sit behind a newsdesk and tell us what to think) more important than the actual issues that they represent and how they carry out their political--not personal--dealings?


Bill Clinton is an adulterer and Hilary stood by him and kept her mouth shut as he publicly humiliated her. Right there we've got a former president committing (imho) one of the grossest acts of disrespect and the first female presidential candidate bending over and taking it. On the surface level, in my opinion (and it is just that, a completely biased, feminist opinion), it's disgraceful and not something I would want my hypothetical daughter looking up to.

However, I would vote for Hilary (or Bill if it were the case) in a heartbeat before I would ever consider voting for McCain or any other Republican at this point. I don't know what their marriage is like or who they are as people, nor do I care. I feel like they have a political grasp on the issues that our country is facing that I can agree with, and it doesn't take a genius to compare 1993-2001 to 2001-2008.

By the same token, George W. likes to throw around Bible talk, but some of the most religious, God-fearing people I know are now praying that his brand of politics will see the end of its days soon. Me? If I pray it's that my cousin Matt wont have to leave his family to go to war again. I don't care who GW is or how he worships, something's not working.

Let's bring this back to teens having babies.

I was raised by a great woman. A spiritual, selfless, smart, strong, AWESOME woman who also happens to be very successful in her career and continues to be a support to myself, the rest of our family, total strangers... anyone she can. She is the picture of service. She has stood by me (although not always been happy about it, I mean, let's get serious) through everything, put on the brave face, helped me figure things out and get on my feet. I dare anyone to place blame on her for that or find fault in her for my mistakes. More importantly, if her ability to do her job were called into question for it, anyone in their right mind would look at her professional history and say that that is all that's relevant.

If anything, let's talk about how abstinence-only education doesn't work and had I been taught (allowed even) to have more of an open mind at a younger age, I might have been able to find myself without having to look in the wrong places. Just saying.

So, why Obama?

Because when I was in third grade I sat in the library at my school and watched a video about the civil rights movement and heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. say things that I had never thought about before.

Because when I decided to open my mind and question what I was taught all my life, I found that my ideal wasn't as crazy as it seemed and that other people saw things like I did. That is what got me through college (on an academic scholarship - toot!), encouraged me to pursue the career I want and, more recently, helped me realize that I can decide for myself what I believe and how I act on it.

Because Justin's love is no different from mine, and war is bad, and the climate is changing, and old regimes do not promote progress and progress is what we so desperately need right now.

Because my generation came of voting age as our country plowed into a war that we didn't understand. The last eight years have left most people my age either apathetic or angry. I've fallen into both categories at one point. The former when I look around and decide that I would rather sit in a dark theatre and get lost in fiction than lay awake at night feeling anxious about the future. The latter during those times when I've been brought to attention by the news of my friend's husband being killed in Iraq and leaving behind two small children, or by hearing the mind-boggling numbers of our national deficit.

Mostly because when I hear what he has to say, I feel something like what I f
elt in third grade and it's not apathy or frustration. Maybe it actually is--dare I say--hope.

So my humble, idealist little take on things... let's stop talking about slutty daughters, skin color and whatever dirt we can dig up, and instead start looking at each other as humans and our problems as mutual. Let's focus on what steps are necessary to correcting those problems and which candidate's politics fall closest in line with those steps.

I'll spare you my P-Diddy line about voting. You're all gonna vote. Just do it for the right reasons.

Angus Wynne (Dallas / Fort Worth, TX) wrote
at 9:15am on September 5th, 2008
Brava, Brittain, for this brave and affecting piece. I hope to hear more like it from you, screenplay or not. THIS is the real thing!
Angus Wynne (Dallas / Fort Worth, TX) wrote
at 9:16am on September 5th, 2008
And, please pardon my typo...
Wendy Mason (North Texas) wrote
at 5:34pm on September 5th, 2008
you really should send this in to some media outlet - even if it's just the local paper
Ashley Hall (Texas Tech) wrote
at 2:21am on September 6th, 2008
b is not only for brittan, but also for brilliant.

eloquent, honest and peppered with that irresistibly charming brittan quirkiness- you have found a fan in me without a doubt.

please keep writing and sharing your work!

oh! and what do you say to a pedicure sometime sooon, my love? :)
Hiyam Abousaid (Dallas / Fort Worth, TX) wrote
at 10:03am on September 6th, 2008
Well put. I think you're actually a really good writer. I'm glad I read this. I agree with your friend, Wendy. You should get this published.
Theresa Pegues (Dallas / Fort Worth, TX) wrote
at 1:55pm on September 6th, 2008
Beautifully put from a beautiful soul. What a novel concept, talking about what matters and not just angry mud slinging. Way to go!
Jake B. Jones (Macarthur High School) wrote
at 11:26pm on September 7th, 2008
the only people talking about "slutty daughters, skin color" are the stupid democrats, and the media, and yes they should stop, but of course they won't

what has obama done besides become a senator?, not as much as mccain thats for sure.

They couldnt find anything wrong with Sarah Palin, so what did the media do?, they went after her family, how low!
Jake B. Jones (Macarthur High School) wrote
at 3:56pm on September 8th, 2008
your right, i shouldnt call anyone stupid, and i wasnt aiming it at you
Brittan Dunham wrote
at 4:13pm on September 8th, 2008
I understand, it's a heated topic. Again, much props for speaking up for your side of things.

I regret deleting the comment that I left between the two that Jake Jones left. I only deleted it out of courtesy to Jake. I didn't want my ripping into him displayed on Facebook. It was unfair, I know he meant no harm. But I do wish that I had it to display here because it's true. Using ugly words (or any words) to define entire groups of people is dangerous.

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