Saturday, February 5, 2011

Not That Kind of Sign Language

I was trolling Gimundo looking for something else when I saw a short film called Sign Language. Always a sucker for things relating to American Sign Language, I watched it and was rewarded even though it wasn't about that kind of sign language.



It's cute, right? Maybe too cute? Yeah, maybe. But sometimes, cute and sweet is good. Plus, an advanced degree in urban semiotics? I'm hooked.

But it also reminded me of the communities we're part of--even communities we may not know about. In this film, we don't know till the end of this little story whether the sign holders' community exists outside of Ben's mind.

In another example, I still watch for Walking Man.

And although I am on the periphery of the community that will miss Winnipeg-based writer Michael Van Rooy, I am still in that community.

But of course most of us--which means most characters--are part of families and other communities, often by choice. On Facebook, I recently connected with my husband's first cousin-in-law twice removed (his wife's grandfather was my husband's first cousin), who lives in Finland. My husband wondered what his parents, who left their Finn-Swede families in the early 1920s without expecting to see them again, would think about the relatively (ha ha, relative, get it?) easy connections that technology makes possible.

Just yesterday I had a conversation with another writer who is battling her characters' communities and backstories. Are we getting to the point where you have to explain why a character doesn't have a cell phone? Or is that point in the rear-view mirror and I'm just now looking?

And if you were to unexpectedly disappear from your community, how would you be remembered? What about your characters--would they encourage a colleague to take a risk? What do they give?

Lots of questions from "just" a cute film, eh.