“Otherness” is Never One Thing
Choosing a Tagline for Me, the “Other” by Catherine Chapman (Script Supervisor)
For most of my life, feeling like the “other” has been a familiar feeling and informed my desire to foster understanding between people. Generally, we human beings prefer to simplify what “otherness” means when, in fact, there are a lot of layers to it.
Throughout the Me, The “Other” journey, we’ve been thinking about a tagline for the film. It was important because we were reducing hours and hours of raw footage to a one-hour film about twelve lives and we had to have a point of view, a context from which to tell a story. “Otherness” had to be defined.
“Otherness” means different. When applied to people, it touches on many more things than we think about when we think of differences and the feelings they engender. Yes, “otherness” is about feelings. It is also about much more.
The idea that differences aren’t one thing was always present in our minds as we set out to tell this story. We were acutely aware of the broadness with which we were defining “otherness.” We purposely left the definition open because we believe “otherness” happens in many ways and happens differently in different contexts. In this film, “otherness” is in each cast member’s heart and experience. It is from those around them. It is from the society that surrounds them. It is from the viewer of the film. And it is from us, those who are crafting their stories into narratives through a process of making choices that reflect our perceptions.
What creates feelings of “otherness” in the heart of a person is never one thing. I know this from my own lived experience and from those around me whom I love. I know this from what we say, how we talk about others, how we behave towards each other. I was taught that the human race is one. Lived experience, however, is far more complex and the notion that feeling different comes from more than one place is at the core of our storytelling through Me, the “Other.”
While the process of creating this film was filled with many inspiring moments of how it drew diverse people to contribute their time and talents, their stories and means to making this project happen, we wished we were able to include many more voices of “otherness” that are not represented in this film. This is just the beginning though and we hope to include them in future sequels of this timely project.
“Otherness” is not just one thing. It comes from an absence of love, created by prejudice and circumstance and forgetting who we are. When I heard May Erlewine’s upbeat song Never One Thing, I heard poetry take an awkwardly-worded idea and give it wings and a melody. With May’s blessing, the new tagline for Me, The “Other” is: “Otherness is never one thing.”