Prelude to the Wookiee Problem

I am thinking up an article / essay on “the Wookiee problem,” or alien speech and the related problem of including mute characters.

I am not sure when this will show up as a finished post, but when it is, I’ll have it posted on my site and blog and will link to it from a few forums and blogs I visit.

This also relates to the portrayal or inclusion of mute people in fiction, though I’m not sure yet how I intend to address that.

I don’t know yet if I want to go even broader, to portrayal of things like handicaps or ageism. I don’t yet know if it’ll be more than one post.

But I want to write something, because the problem of how to write a character for an audio or video play, or for a novel, without having the character be a sidekick, and with taking into account the realistic things a character has to deal with, when he or she can’t avoid or magically cure the condition: a realistic, strongly portrayed character.

 

A Special Item

2013-09-16: This article was first published on my first blog, then republished on my web site.

Don’t dis the ability. It’s the person, not the chair.

Aha! A special item arrived today for a BJD character. (Hmm, the male ego is still insisting on that instead of, y’know, calling him a doll. Ahem.)

This arrived in great condition, and turned out to be a better bargain than I would’ve thought: It came with a Ken doll and a Barbie doll. Well, how would I know if they’re actually Ken and Barbie. I suspect they are friends of theirs. The guy, though, for some reason doesn’t have movable knees. Odd.

I got this on eBay for a good price, better than expected. Still a good deal. — Didn’t think at the time to check new at Amazon. It turns out I still got a big bargain. Though I wound up putting something in the cart for later. I found one option that was too cheap and too cheaply made, per the reviews. Another was very…pink…which wouldn’t suit this character unless he had to. (I might play with that notion, though, story-wise.) What I did find was good, but pricey. Still, might be worth it.

What is this item, you ask?

A character is going to be in a wheelchair. It was the most obvious way I could think of to get a message across that the character was permanently handicapped, that he has to live with it, and that, no matter what the situation our heroes are in, they all have to cooperate to get him out too, and that he can contribute, he’s capable.

The other limit is, no, he doesn’t get a miracle cure. Even with other assistance, which will enter into the plot, I don’t anticipate a reset where he’s cured somehow. But dream or fantasy sequences where he can still walk, etc., will happen.

I considered a cane and sunglasses, a blind character. I still might do that with another character. But I wanted something immediately identifiable.

I didn’t set out to do this. I started out thinking it would be a few characters, fairly regular. But when the idea popped up, it was too important not to pass up.

The idea that, whatever happens, real or imagined, to our crew, we have to deal with this very real physical issue, and that he is valuable, equal, among the group, seemed too good, story-wise, to pass up.

I think, currently, that each “scene” will not feature all the regular characters, but each “episode” will. I won’t know until I’ve tried it how much I can do per session, and therefore how quickly I can get a full “episode” done. But I’m going to try for every 15 days, twice a month.

A little research turned up that the girl (young woman) is Becky, a light red haired friend of Barbie, who uses a wheelchair.

A friend clarified that some Barbie and Ken dolls, especially the older models, didn’t have joints at the knees and elbows, and this was a big thing when they were movable.