At Empathy Arts we think the following are significant Creative Sensitivities, requiring a significant focus of attention in our entertainment projects. It is our policy to inform any potential partners of these sensitivities, and to share our information and experience on these subjects with them.
1. THE STATUS OF WOMEN
In our view, wherever the depiction of women occurs in an entertainment project, every attempt must be made to eliminate the “subsidiary character” status of women’s roles, to portray women fairly and without cultural bias, to avoid gratuitously sexualized depictions, and to give women in character free expression as ends in themselves, rather than as a means to an end. And as a first step, to ensure that the Bechdel Test is satisfied in movies, pilots and first episodes, music videos, podcasts and other entertainment media wherever possible.
2. VICTIMS OF CRIME
In our view, wherever the depiction of crime occurs in an entertainment project [movies, TV, novels, graphic novels, comic books, podcasts, music videos and others], every attempt must be made to include the perspectives of Victims of Crimes in the exposition of the project; and as a first step, to include at least one dedicated sequence, allowing the many Victims of Crimes who may see the entertainment medium to know that they have been heard, and have been given a voice.
3. RACE and ETHNICITY
In our view, wherever the explicit depiction of race or ethnicity occurs in an entertainment project, every attempt must be made to depict all people fairly and without cultural or racial bias, wherever required or indicated to engage Racial Advisors as project consultants, to acknowledge implicitly the exploitation and enslavement of African and other peoples and the persisting inequalities and injustices that discriminate and oppress their descendants, to acknowledge the unfair and unrepresentative depiction of races in Hollywood and Television’s formative decades, and to reinforce the essential common humanity of all people from all cultures and races: co-operation, compassion, respect for the dignity of others, sharing, and caring for one another with love.
In our view, wherever the explicit depiction of different cultures occurs in an entertainment project, every attempt must be made to respect the dignity of the cultures depicted, to engage Cultural Advisors of acknowledged integrity as project consultants, to engage with ambassadors from the depicted culture(s) in order to determine a fair, respectful and reasonable depiction, to engage actors from the culture depicted to perform cultural roles wherever possible, to give languages other than English a voice wherever possible, and to commit to a closed screening of the project to a selected cultural audience, and to give their sensitivity feedback significant consideration.
In our view, wherever the explicit depiction of Genders occurs in an entertainment project, every attempt must be made to respect the dignity of the Genders depicted, to engage Gender Advisors of acknowledged integrity as project consultants, to engage actors from the Gender depicted wherever possible, to give ample implicit acknowledgement of Gender identification as a human right, and moreover to ensure workplaces where all Genders have access to creative opportunities.
In our view, wherever the explicit depiction of Disability occurs in an entertainment project, every attempt must be made to respect the dignity of persons who experience the disability personally, to depict persons with a disability in a fair, respectful and reasonable way, to engage actors with the specified disability wherever possible, and moreover to ensure workplaces where people with disabilities have access to creative opportunities.
7) ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, DRUGS & FIREARMS
In our view, wherever the explicit depiction of Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs and Firearms occurs in an entertainment project, every attempt must be made to acknowledge the harm done by them, to never depict them as successful means to successful ends, to minimize their explicit depiction, and to provide narrative alternatives in the form of rehabilitation potentials and positive, healthy-lifestyle characters.
In our view, wherever the explicit depiction of Violence occurs in an entertainment project, every attempt must be made to avoid gratuitousness, to never depict violence as a successful means to a successful end, to acknowledge the not-inconsequential negative social effects of depicting violence in entertainment media by minimizing the depictions of violence, to avoid the “race to the bottom” of ever more graphic and balletic depictions of violence, and moreover to ensure a workplace of Zero Tolerance For Violence in any form, with counseling provided for any member of the creative team considered to have engaged in violent speech or behavior.
In our view, wherever the explicit depiction of Religion or religious worshippers occurs in an entertainment project, every attempt must be made to respect the dignity of the Religion depicted and the sensitivities of respective believers, to engage Religious Advisors from the Religion depicted, to engage actors from the Religion depicted wherever possible, to present all Religions whenever depicted without cultural bias and in a fair, respectful and reasonable manner, and moreover to ensure workplaces where people of all Religions and none have equal access to creative opportunities.
10) THE PLANET
In our view, the challenge of this and the next 10 generations is to Save The Planet.
As creators of content, we feel a responsibility to incorporate the “Call To Save The Planet” wherever possible in our entertainment projects, to ensure that negative impacts on the planet and the biosphere are honestly represented and not trivialized or excused, to present alternatives such as clean-green automobiles and domestic energy systems wherever possible within scenarios, and to ensure workplaces that strive for “cradle to cradle” conservation standards and transparent supply chains.
11) SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
In our view, if we creative arts producers pat ourselves on the back for the positive social impact of some of our outstanding projects, we must also acknowledge that the many more explicitly violent suspense, thriller and horror entertainment projects may be having a negative social impact on someone, somewhere. We can’t claim credit for the good, without acknowledging the possibility of the not so good.
In our view, it’s undeniable that everything we do has a spectrum of social effects, sometimes with a lot of positive and just a little negative, and sometimes the other way around.
The brilliant and empathetic author Stephen King pulled one of his earliest novels, about someone shooting up a high school, because he discovered years later that it was in the lockers of three high school shooters. He acknowledged that his entertainment project had unforeseen negative social effects, which had nothing to do with his unimpeachable character or his intentions as a creator.
In our view, the best policy to is to avoid the “unforeseen negative social effects” before they occur, and to that end we have created this evolving list of our creative sensitivities.