I’ve been working professionally for about three years now, writing articles and blog posts, taking photos and working on documentary films. It’s not a very long time to be working, and there are many people who are far more experienced and savvy than I am. But even in this comparatively short time I’ve spent working, I’ve learnt that one of the most basic rules in storytelling is to never, never, see people as anything other than what they are – human beings just like you and me. They may have different cultures, religions, languages, opinions, perspectives, values, clothing, customs, habits, food, but at the end of the day they are still people and you never portray them as less than that.
I don’t care whether they were friendly or mean, or if they’re a big-hearted philanthropist or a bank robber. You can praise their ideals or criticise their actions as much as you like, but you do not Other them in a way that makes your audience look at them as less than human.
After all, as Terry Prachett wrote in his book Carpe Jugulum: “And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things.”
I love love love love this post. And the lesson brought forth on storytelling. The documentary in question (click the link, go watch it) is terribly done. It’s not a documentary. It’s a spin. And sure, many documentaries are, I guess. But I love how clearly Kirsten’s post spells out how wrong it is to Other-ize the subjects of this film. Kudos.