Contest: #Rewrite The Ending for great justice!

I heart Breakthrough — “a global human rights organization that uses the power of media, pop culture, and community mobilization to inspire people to take bold action for dignity, equality, and justice.” Previously I’ve posted about their awesome Facebook game “America 2049”, and now they’ve got another sweet initiative: “#Rewrite The Ending“. Snip:

Show of hands: How many of you wish that Andy (“Pretty in Pink”) had ended up with Ducky? That after Willy dies (“Death of a Salesman”), his wife gets a great sales job without having to play the “poor widow” card? That when Simran’s father finally releases her hand (“Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”), she runs for the train to Goa and finds happiness on her own?

In other words: How often have you been enjoying a book, movie, play, or TV episode … when all of a sudden things take a turn for the sexist, misogynist, needlessly violent, or worse? Have you ever wished you could jump into a story, shout at the characters, grab the pen (or keyboard) of the writer, and make it turn out the way you think it should?

Now you can! Breakthrough presents “#Rewrite the Ending”, our Bell Bajao campaign’s first-ever fiction (re)writing competition. Your job: take a work of fiction — a novel, movie, epic myth, opera, poem, TV episode, short story, play, or anything else that inspires you (or makes you nuts) — and rewrite the ending to erase the sexism, highlight human rights, and win yourself some great prizes.

Deadline: November 21st. And you don’t have to be on Twitter to enter, although the contest does have a hashtag in the name! More information here.

17 comments for “Contest: #Rewrite The Ending for great justice!

  1. November 18, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Thanks, Clarisse! With due props to Shakespeare, I’d like to #rewrite pretty much all of The Taming of the Shrew. Anyway, we so appreciate the ink — please enter the contest early and often! :)
    Best, Lynn (of Breakthrough)

  2. November 18, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Write fanfic and win a prize? Sweet.

  3. Bitter Scribe
    November 18, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Sorry to be a concern troll, but how does this not violate copyright laws?

  4. Alara Rogers
    November 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Sorry to be a concern troll, but how does this not violate copyright laws?

    Same way “The Wind Done Gone” didn’t. Satire is fair use.

  5. November 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Bitter Scribe: Sorry to be a concern troll, but how does this not violate copyright laws?

    That’s actually a good question. When fanfic writers borrow from their favorite media, there’s never any monetary incentive involved. But since they’re offering prizes…

  6. sophonisba
    November 18, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Pretty in Pink, really? We should rewrite it so that instead of the girl getting the boy she wants. the other boy gets the girl he wants, because the girl was too stupid to know what was good for her?

    I don’t think that rewriting the story to make the pretty girl the prize instead of the agent counts as erasing sexism. I know a lot of people hate that ending because (charitably) Ducky’s cuter and more fun and we the audience would rather date him, or (uncharitably) they can’t understand a movie being girl-gets-boy instead of boy-gets girl, but neither of those are reasons to call it sexist.

  7. November 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    This is beyond brilliant. I love the idea simply genius! Every movie i have seen especially the romance movies and romance novels always show that the women is helpless without the man. We aren’t all princesses waiting on our prince charming to save us. Many of us play the role of our own prince charming better yet princess charming! Sadly i wont be partaking in such brilliant opportunity because i am not the best writer as far

  8. November 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    ** as novel writing comes into play!

    Sorry accidentally submitted before i completed my sentence

  9. Emily
    November 18, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Have you ever wished you could jump into a story, shout at the characters, grab the pen (or keyboard) of the writer, and make it turn out the way you think it should?

    Not really but that’s because I’ve been writing fanfic since I was about six… it never occurred to me *not* to do it.

    Seems like they’re reinventing the wheel here. Or just trying to take all the credit for the wheel.

  10. Alara Rogers
    November 18, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Seems like they’re reinventing the wheel here. Or just trying to take all the credit for the wheel.

    To be fair, the proportion of fanfic that’s *specifically* about counterbalancing sexism and misogyny is… pretty miniscule.

    I hang out in corners of the Net that focus on it, and even then, most of what ends up coming through my friendslist is “hot smut with two guys”, albeit hot smut with two guys that doesn’t demonize the female characters, thankfully.

    Most fic writers are not trying to rewrite the endings of things so they’re less sexist; they’re more likely to be rewriting the endings of things so the hot guys end up in bed together instead of becoming lifelong enemies, or something. I mean, I’ve seen “let me retell the plot of this story that focused on women with the two male characters I’m obsessed with replacing the female characters!” More than once. In a fandom that actually treats women *well*.

    I love fanfic, and I love the ficcer community, but we’re… not known for a universal staunch commitment to feminism, you know?

  11. preying mantis
    November 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    sophonisba: I don’t think that rewriting the story to make the pretty girl the prize instead of the agent counts as erasing sexism.

    Yeah, from what I understand, the teen girls (who the movie was aimed at) in the test audience overwhelmingly went with Andie getting her guy instead of having to settle for Ducky, so that’s the ending they selected, and the mainstream market hasn’t stopped pouting about it since.

  12. anna
    November 19, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Sweeet!

    I’m a terrible writer, so I beg someone to do The Graduate (extra special bonus points if you post a link here) and make it so Elaine chooses what she wants for herself instead of being pressured into marriage by her mother and then rescued by some guy who basically stalked her. Thanks!

  13. Marksman2010
    November 20, 2011 at 8:50 am

    This is an atrocity.

  14. Odin
    November 20, 2011 at 9:53 am

    @ Angel H — there’re plenty of fanwork contests; this is hardly the first. FWIW, the issue of copyright and fanfiction is not currently settled in the US, but arguments could be made along the lines of satire and transformative works.

    The wordcount limit is 500? Okay, sometimes you can do a lot with such strict constraints (I’ve read some truly brilliant drabbles), but most problematic words of fiction are going to require a lot more work to develop the ‘fix’ properly and realistically, unless the contest’s goal is to generate story summaries rather than actual stories. Not to mention, usually problematic attitudes and plot turns are woven in throughout the narrative, and don’t only appear at the ending.

  15. November 20, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I’d pass this on to interested people, but don’t think I’d want to take part in something like this. Some stories are dark – or else simply do not have palatable endings from a social justice point of view. If I think said story is still awesome, I won’t mess with it. Not even as part of an intellectual exercise. Or at least not a public one.

  16. EG
    November 20, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Well, there’s a difference between an awesome story having a disturbing ending because it’s a disturbing story, and an awesome story being completely derailed because it’s pushed by creepy misogyny and classism into reinforcing the status quo (I am looking at you, The Craft). I wouldn’t rewrite the former, but I wold totally rewrite the latter. Or I would if I didn’t have too many writing projects going on to add another one that is due tomorrow.

  17. Jen in Ohio
    November 20, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Ducky’s cuter and more fun and we the audience would rather date him

    In the 2011 version of Pretty in Pink, I am 99% certain that Duckie is finally out of the closet and he and Andie are either just BFFs or else they’re actually competing for Blane. At least, I can hope, it might help to heal the emotional scarring I still bear from sitting through all those John Hughes movies as a queer teenager.

    Duckie wasn’t, imo, the only closet case. I’d argue hard for Watts from Some Kind Of Wonderful; I’d have a harder time arguing Allison Reynolds or Brian Johnson from Breakfast Club but I would do a re-watch and take a run at either/both; the 2011 version of Chet from Weird Science for sure would have an online personal ad describing himself as “straight-acting, seeking same”. Seriously, it was like Hughes had no gaydar whatsofuckinever.

    Googling around a little got me this interesting snippet of an interview with Molly Ringwald from The Advocate:

    Q: Though there were no gay characters, homosexuality was addressed in those early films through the frequent use of the word “fag.” Your character, Samantha, called Anthony Michael Hall’s Geek a “fag” in Sixteen Candles. “You die, fag” is scrawled on Bender’s locker in The Breakfast Club. And though it’s never spelled out, some of those outcast characters I mentioned — Duckie in Pretty in Pink, Brian in The Breakfast Club — almost seem like gay characters, in a way.

    A: Yeah, completely! I totally know what you mean, and if those films were done today, those characters probably would’ve been gay. But sometimes I wonder if John was even aware of that. I don’t know that he was. What made those movies so interesting and so hard for people to replicate is that for some reason John was still somehow emotionally in the mind-set of those teenagers. Usually you can hear when an adult clearly wrote something for a kid character, but John’s movies don’t sound like that because he was still emotionally in that place. So you know how some kids can be gay and not know it? Or maybe they kind of know it but aren’t facing it? I feel like maybe John was writing those characters like that.

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