A rewrite-the-ending-contest to affect social change
Through our friend, Lynn Harris, writer, co-creator of Breakup Girl, and now communications strategist for something called Breakthrough, we heard about a “Rewrite the Ending” contest (which ended last month):
Show of hands- How many of you wish that:
- Andy (Pretty in Pink) had ended up with Ducky?
- After Willy dies (Death of a Salesman), his wife gets a great sales job without having to play the “poor widow” card?
- 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?
- Ariel (Little Mermaid) had kept her voice and won American Idol.
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?
Of course we have! So I (Lo) entered the contest (you could do it via Twitter, Facebook or email, from 140 characters up to a couple hundred words). Here was my entry:
In “The Taming of the Shrew,” as Petruchio uses reverse psychology to try to “tame” Katherina, his kindness and gentleness actually starts to rub off on him and he begins to really appreciate Katherina’s independence, fiery spirit and strong point of view, until he accidentally yet genuinely falls in love with her, so that it is HE who ultimately becomes the agreeable spouse. At the end, when the three sets of newlyweds are attending Baptista’s banquet, it is the three wives who propose a wager between them to see whose husband is the most egalitarian: Petruchio is the only one who engages with his wife as an equal, getting into a heated political debate with her in which they ultimately, amicably agree to disagree, and then he has no problem holding her satchel while she goes to the bathroom. Needless to say, Katherina wins the bet hands down.
Turns out, I won the Facebook category, woohoo! Here’s the winning Twitter entry by Tim_Flatman:
@Bell_Bajao Sleeping Beauty wakes up early, breaks 4th wall & critiques a narrative where it’s good to be kissed without consent #rewrite
You can read the long-form winner here — a reimagining of the ending to “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” called “For The Love of Anjali” by Purva Dandona — along with two other great honorable mentions.
Honestly, I didn’t know anything about the sponsors of the contest — Breakthrough and Bell Bajou — I just loved the idea behind the contest. After I won, I asked Lynn what these organizations were all about and the relationship between the two of them. Turns out, they’re just as interesting as the contest itself:
Breakthrough (breakthrough.tv) is a global human rights organization that uses the power of pop culture, multimedia, and community leadership training to inspire people to take action for social change. We work out of centers in India and the U.S. on issues including domestic violence, immigration (see ICEDgame.com) and racial justice (see restorefairness.org). It all began with this awesome music video about a woman escaping domestic violence, the first to bring that issue into mainstream/pop culture in India.
Bell Bajao (“Ring the bell”) launched in India in 2008, calls upon men and young men to take a stand against domestic violence. It’s become our flagship campaign, combining award-winning — and culture-changing — TV ads with long-term training of Breakthrough “rights advocates” who work to challenge norms and challenge stereotypes in their own communities. This video describes the Bell Bajao campaign.
The goal is to bring human rights and human rights values — dignity, equality, justice — into mainstream culture and real lives. The key idea is that human rights start in small places — our homes, our relationships, our neighborhoods — and require not just laws, but people, to uphold them. By creating top-down, mass-media and on-the-ground, bottom-up change, we work to build a culture of human rights.
Oh, and if you love Alias/24/LOST/Rent/Margaret Cho, you might like our Facebook game, America 2049!