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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Writers Behaving Badly

I had an experience on Monday night that was in turns wonderful, bizarre and highly disappointing.

Edwards Theater held a free screening of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, based on the YA novel by Hollywood writer Stephen Chbosky. (If you're a Jericho freak like me, this is your man.) It was followed by a Q&A by Mr. Chbosky himself and a book signing.

First of all, if you have a younger teen or a mature preteen, take them to see the movie when it hits general release on Friday. It was a marvelous adaptation, mainly because Mr. Chbosky wrote the screenplay and directed the film. Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller captured Charlie, Sam and Patrick perfectly. They had me bawling at the end of the movie where I just felt tired with a smidgeon of hope at the end of the book. I'll give a better review of the movie itself on next week's Monday Movie Mania.

The wonderful part of the evening (besides the movie iteself) was meeting some interesting people, especially C. a junior and budding journalist from a local high school, who stood next to me in line. She and three of her friends sat on my right during the screening.

The bizarre part started with the five folks on my left. Apparently, whoever was in charge of PR for the event had sent out invitations to a few other local writer organizations besides NWHRWA as well as several high schools. But in all of the PR company's communications with me they stressed it was a first-come-first-served situation.

The original four folks on my left loudly proclaimed they were from the Houston Writers Guild, then proceeded to complain that they had reserved sixteen seats, and how badly organized the event was. They made a point of claiming the seat next to me for one of their friends still waiting in line. Then they compained about all the kids the organizers were letting in. All four people were probably in their late fifties to early seventies. Meanwhile, two of C.'s friends (who were at best seventeen) on the other side of me were quietly trying to get their calculus homework done.

The PR company did give priority seating to the group from the High School for Performing Arts. Which prompted another loud burst of outrage from the Guild people. The one woman in the group marched out of the theater, supposedly in search of the manager to complain.

Mind you, this is all happening a half-hour before the movie's actually start time.

The woman from the Guild marched back mumbling something that I tried very hard NOT to hear. A few minutes later, one of the organizers from the PR company came into the theater to check available seats. When she asked about the seat next to me, one of the men said their companion had gone to the bathroom. The organizer turned to the one woman in the group and said, "You told me your friend was still in line."

You could have heard crickets chirping. The four of them glared at the poor organizer who was just trying to do her job. A few minutes later, a male friend of the four people took the empty seat. The guy preceded to kick me in the calf and whack me with his elbow through most of the movie. It wasn't quite as bad as his friend who decided to read the screen credits in a very loud voice at the start of the film.

As I said, bizarre.

But somehow, I managed to focus on the film, and I'll repeat it again--WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL MOVIE!!

The highly disappointing part was during the Q&A when the members of the guild were just plain rude. They interrupted the kids trying to ask questions. More than once. They interrupted Mr. Chbosky while he tried to answer questions. More than once. Not even the warning looks from the FOX-TV reporter moderating the event stopped their behavior.

These are writers. And yes, I did check the Houston Writers Guild website when I got home. Photographs of three of the five people are shown on the website as members. Why, oh why, would they act so rudely at an event that was clearly geared toward the movie's (and the book's) target audience of teenagers? From the info on the website, none of the three people I recognized were YA authors. And why, oh why would that act this way at a fellow writer's event?

On the other hand, Mr. Chbosky is my new model for graciousness under fire. He was pleasant and courteous even when these other writers weren't.

I know I babbled while talking to Mr. Chbosky, but hey, it's not the first time I've acted like a total idiot in front of a writer I admire. But he was sweet and kind, though obviously very tired, and he signed a copy of his book for G.K. As I said, he's on my role model list.

And to C. (though I know you'll probably never see this), it was an honor meeting you and your friends, and I wish you the best on your own writng path. I know you don't realize this, but you've given me hope for the future.

5 comments:

  1. So which part is unbelievable, Will? *smile*

    Trust me, C. and her companions were intelligent and charming. You would have loved talking to them.

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  2. Of that I have no doubt, Suzan. It's "The Others" that I'm struggling with! After reading this, and going to their website, I bet I could name one or two of the five...:)

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  3. I seriously hope that the other members of the Houston Writers Guild drilled each of these asshats a new one for giving their group a bad name. Wow. :/ I certainly wouldn't want to join them if I were in Houston, or thinking of moving there. Nor would I invite their group to any event I was organizing.

    Angie

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  4. Angie, I've talked with a couple of people knowledgable about the inner workings of the organization. Let's just say it was eye-opening and explained a lot.

    And I'll say it again, Steve Chbosky was the epitome of graciousness and patience in a rough situation.

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