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Following the horrific school shooting that took place in Texas on Tuesday, the creator, writer and star of Abbott Elementary, Quinta Brunson, took to Twitter to discuss an unusual request she has repeatedly received from fans.
Brunson stated that she has been asked several times to write a “school shooting episode” of her comedy series, which revolves around a group of dedicated teachers doing their best to serve the students of an underfunded public school in Philadelphia. While the series is somewhat political, it is hardly the place to discuss such a sensitive topic.
The wisdom of incorporating school shootings into fiction is always questionable – at best, such plotlines could potentially inspire copycats, or trigger traumatic reactions in viewers. Plus, who really wants to see these senseless massacres play out on our screens, as they continue to occur in schools?
Brunson’s tweet, however, didn’t just acknowledge the tastelessness of the requests, but highlighted a deeper problem in society, in which fandoms attempt to manifest social change through representation in fiction, as opposed to legislation.
“Wild how many people have asked for a school shooting episode of the show I write. People are that deeply removed from demanding more from the politicians they’ve elected and are instead demanding ‘entertainment.’ I can’t ask ‘are yall ok’ anymore because the answer is ‘no.’”
Brunson is correct – it is hard to imagine a more hopeless, nihilistic response to the slaughtering of children than to request that the creator of a comedy show make a “school shooting episode.”
The unusual requests echo much of the media reaction to the Black Lives Matter protests, which sparked a great deal of soul-searching in writer’s rooms, as showrunners stressed about contributing to “copaganda” – even the creators of Brooklyn 99 felt obligated to acknowledge the shift in public perception.
These are not useless conversations to have – far from it – but they heavily exaggerate the influence and power of storytelling. Creating socially conscious fiction and diversifying the writer’s room will absolutely lead to positive change – but serious societal ills are not going to be magically solved by consuming the correct product. Consumption is not activism – it’s not even close.
Brunson went on to emphasize her point, pleading with her fans to contact their local representatives instead of their favorite creatives, referencing Beto O’Rourke as a positive example, writing:
“Please use that energy to ask your elected official to get on Beto time and nothing less. I’m begging you.”
After clarifying her point, Brunson posted a screenshot of a message from a fan, making the aforementioned request in the hope of sparking political change.
Brunson concluded by writing:
“I don’t want to sound mean, but I want people to understand the flaw in asking for something like this. we’re not okay. this country is rotting our brains. im sad about it.”