Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

October 30, 2014

D’oh!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 9:56 AM
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D’oh!

If you were speaking of poor role moles for boys, Homer Simpson would be right.

Popular characters like, Homer Simpson, Fred Flintstone, Family Guy, American Dad and a host of dumbed down male fathers and friends – are all poor role models for young boys and all poor examples of boys to men.

Here is a portion of an interview with Frederick Marx, creator of the film ‘Boys to Men’ that makes my point.

Rachael Kohn: In America today, how many young men are without father figures?

Frederick Marx: Oh my gosh, well, I think there’s something like half of the young men growing up in America today either don’t have fathers in the home or they don’t have the father figure, as it were. It’s harder to define of course ‘father figure’, that can be quite broad, it can be a coach or an uncle or whatever. But for me this is one of the primary causes for so much of the social dysfunction that we see across the planet.

Rachael Kohn: But young people invariably look to some kind of leadership, and that would probably be in the popular culture, in bands and rock bands and in films. What sort of an impact do you think that’s having?

Frederick Marx: Huge, there’s no question. The simple truth is, as elders in this society, if we don’t take the responsibility to initiate our young people into mature masculinity, they are certainly not going to be able to cobble it together from popular cultural influences. You know, we still have…and these are extremes, but on one hand we still have the popular macho male myth, and on the other hand we seem to have the Homer Simpson model from the Simpsons cartoon. I don’t know how it has happened exactly, but over the last 20 years fathers have suddenly come to be seen as the buffoons of the family, as the figures who can’t do anything, who don’t know anything, and are complete idiots, not only in a sort of emotional sense but in any kind of practical sense. So that seems to be the scope of the images that are offered our young people. Obviously there are others, through music in particular. But it is really, really difficult in a post-feminist society for a young man to decide, well, how do I become that man that I want to be in my life? And if they are just left to popular culture, the chances are not good they’re going to find it.

Rachael Kohn: How much has feminism in fact altered the ideal man? In Australia for example we have the notion of the sensitive new age guy, the SNAG, which happens to also be the name for frankfurters or sausages on the barbecue, but that has certainly undergone some change.

Frederick Marx: Yes, and I think young boys, at least in the United States, they know that they are supposed to be sensitive, they know they’re supposed to be emotionally vulnerable, but nobody is really teaching them the skills to do this, giving them the tools to both access and identify clearly what these emotional states are, and then to use them in a productive way that will serve their lives for the better. And that’s just one skill set, is the emotional one. There’s integrity and accountability. My belief is that all men aspire to being in integrity, to being accountable, to being, in a sense, to use Joseph Campbell’s term, the hero of their own lives. But we don’t give them the tools, we don’t educate them in how to do this.

Rachael Kohn: But isn’t that what religious traditions have always tried to do, they have set up the ideals for the good man, the holy man, the pious man, the community leader. They’ve done this through rituals such as in the Jewish tradition the bar mitzvah, in the Christian tradition confirmation, or in other Protestant traditions declaring your faith in Christ and your commitment to the community. Isn’t this where religious traditions came into their own in a young person’s life and now perhaps not nearly as often, not nearly as much?

Frederick Marx: Yes, I think the religious traditions and certainly all of the indigenous cultures across the planet I think are the fountains, the source fountains of this knowledge about initiating young people. There is an African proverb that says if we do not initiate the young, they will burn down the village to feel the heat. In fact that is I think a lot of what we are experiencing around the world now with our young people. But what has happened in the modern age is that so many of these wonderfully rich and powerful traditions have been corrupted by consumer ideology, by the worldwide consumer fever.

 So even a rich and wonderful tradition like a bar mitzvah practice…you know, when I was a young man and I would talk with all of my friends who were being bar mitzvahed, the conversation would begin and end with, ‘What did you get?’ It was all about the money you received, the gifts, et cetera. And so the real ritual intent of creating a threshold that was a real trial for a young man to cross in order to deserve that recognition as a man was not happening. There wasn’t enough of a trial, in effect.

The concept of a ‘trail’ is so important in bringing boys to responsible manhood. My new book to be released in December – MURRAN – explores this ‘trial’ and shows a positive example of it.

October 28, 2014

Men Are Made, Not Born

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 8:53 AM
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“If we don’t initiate the young, they will burn down the village to feel the heat” – African Proverb

From Rites of Passage

We tend to think in this society when a male reaches 18 or 21, graduates high school or college, has that first drink or sexual experience, drives a car or joins the army, or worse, robs or steals, rapes a woman or takes a daredevil risk, beats up a “sissy” or shoots someone, that he is now miraculously a man.  These and related notions are some of the most pernicious yet commonplace in our society today.  The repercussions of this ignorance could not be more far reaching.  They are everywhere to behold. 

We live in an age where suspended adolescence seems to be the norm for all too many men, most notably among men in positions of power.

Indigenous cultures knew better.  For them there was no such thing as adolescence.  You were either a child or an adult.  To mark that threshold, to perform and accomplish that transformation, was a function of the village itself.  It was a cultural obligation. Biology alone would not do it.  Village elders, both men and women, accepted the responsibility their ancestors entrusted them with.  The African proverb summarizes this neatly: “If we do not initiate the young they will burn down the village to feel the heat.”  

But how can we even aspire to universal values of mature masculinity when we inhabit a world so varied by culture, race, class, religion, nationality, sexual preference, age, and more?  I believe we can, as do Doctors Seymour, Smith, and Torres.  The key of course is not to ignore difference or go around it, but to go through difference.  Once we acknowledge and name our deep and significant differences we can begin to open our hearts to what unites us as men, not in spite of but because of those differences, what makes it possible to proudly and without exaggeration recognize ourselves as brothers.  “Brothers from another mother,” as some put it. 

October 25, 2014

Rites of Passage

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 12:07 PM

I recently discovered this new film project and realized how close to the theme of my new book MURRAN it is. Flatly stated:

“If we don’t initiate the young, they will burn down the village to feel the heat.” – African Proverb

Rites of Passage – Mentoring the Future (working title) from Warrior Films will be a 90 minute feature length documentary that will do for rites of passage what Inconvenient Truth did for global warming – bring it out of the underground into the mainstream.

The villages are burning.  Worldwide. An estimated $500 billion is spent yearly on teen dysfunctions in the U.S. alone: drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy and STDs, school dropouts and expulsions, gang and property crimes, traffic accidents, ADD, ADHD, depression and violence…

Culturally appropriate rites of passage and mentorship programs will help solve these problems.  It just might be the silver bullet for youth development.  The film will not only tell an inspirational story showing people exactly why ritually guided rites of passage and mentorship are necessary for all young people, it will offer the launching pad for a movement that begins right when the lights come up for communities’ to begin co-creating programs for their own youth right then and there.

October 22, 2014

Speaking White

Filed under: MURRAN — Frank Fiore @ 9:24 AM

“Are you white?”

That was the question asked to Marjorie Romeyn-Sanabria. She writes:

The enquirer was an eight-year-old boy at my summer day camp fourteen years ago, who had stared at me for a solid minute before launching his query. His question unsettled me. The same week a fellow camper, with whom I did not get along, excluded me from a conversation with the phrase, “This is black people’s talk.” I realized at the tender age of eleven that my blackness (or Hispanic-ness, for that matter) was less defined by the color of my skin than by the way I spoke. In that scenario and many others, speaking standard American English around black people was an affront. It was perceived as both distancing myself from my heritage while attempting to ingratiate myself with a group of people that were responsible for the marginalization of my comrades. Not having African-American argot as a default linguistic setting was both a betrayal and a rejection of my community.

My inability to code switch–speak African-American argot around black people, standard English in formal settings–has been the most salient quality that has brought my blackness into question over the years. I’ve gotten comments ranging from, “your college application reads like a white person’s” to “you talk like a white girl, but you ain’t white.” I can recognize the expression of muted surprise when I open my mouth, but I’m so used to it I barely notice it anymore.

………… I don’t lose “blackness” because I speak Standard English. My melanin concentration isn’t contingent on correctly placed modifiers. But, unfortunately, that’s not how a lot of the black community sees it. If you like Taylor Swift, read “colonialist” history books and “talk like a white girl”, then your blackness card is revoked; at minimum, you’re on probation. It’s sad to see a population that endured so much hatred and exclusivity practicing the similar tactics on members on their own community. Too much of blackness today is dependent on the music you listen to, the clothes you wear, and the way you speak. The same intolerance of non-standard English in the boardroom is practiced in the ghettoes.

There’s a line between celebrating your heritage and championing ignorance.

You go girl!

October 19, 2014

Rites of Passage

Filed under: MURRAN — Frank Fiore @ 10:37 AM

In a prior post – MURRAN – A Positive Role for Teen Boys, I wrote about the need for young boys for some positive warrior role models and hoped MURRAN would fit that bill.

Many cultures have a Rite of Passage for their young males. The Jewish religion has the Bar Mitzvah. The Catholic religion has Confirmation. The Walkabout of the Aborigines. There dozens of others.

The social worker in MURRAN, Sarah Cummings, is the Director of the M.A.A.S.A.I. center in Brooklyn. She speaks about the need for young boys to have a Rite of Passage to manhood in my soon to be released book.

“Every culture in the past has had some form of rites of passage for young boys to become men. Too many of our young boys now turn to more negative forms of proving their manhood like fathering children with multiple women, committing theft and murder, and finding safety and identity in the comfort of gangs.”

She cleared her throat.

“Our program here provides information on African culture and African-American history, daily rituals, ceremonial rituals, values, and leadership. Once the young person completes our Rites of Passage program, a completion ceremony is held where the new initiates are given African names with meanings that match their personalities.”

“May I?” Jackson interjected.

Cummings nodded her approval.

“The Rites of Passage program develops our youth toward achieving their fullest potential,” Jackson began. “They are capable of making a valuable contribution to their families and communities while instilling the values, customs, and the structure of the Maasai society into their own.”

“But these kids didn’t kill any lions,” Trey argued, thinking about what he and his father had regularly discussed when it came to the Maasai.

“In a way, they do,” Cummings added. “There’s an old African proverb that says, ‘When spiders unite, they can bind a lion.’”

“What does that mean?” Trey asked while thinking to himself, Great, more doubletalk.

“The lion moves over the earth seeking those it may devour,” Cummings responded. “Family Maasai seeks to bind and cast out the lion of drug abuse, violence, teen pregnancy, low self-esteem, disrespect for others, the lack of a true cultural heritage, and the spiritual deprivation in our communities. All these are the characteristics of the lion that must be defeated once the small spiders unite.”

Reaching the top score in Grand Theft Auto is NOT a Rite of Passage.

October 18, 2014

African-American or Just an American?

Filed under: MURRAN — Frank Fiore @ 11:03 AM

In my newly released book – MURRAN – to be available the first week of December, black characters take on this question is a very unique way and flies in the face of the common knowledge of people like Oprah – who by the way, was pretty upset with black actress Raven-Symoné.

Actress Raven-Symoné was the subject of the Wednesday premiere of Oprah Winfrey’s “Where Are They Now?” She lit up a firestorm in the Blacksphere when she said, “I’m tired of being labeled. I’m an American, I’m not African-American. I’m an American.”

You could tell that Oprah really did not like Raven-Symoné saying this. She attempted to joke it off and play the objective interviewer, but she was not pleased with Raven’s emphatic statement that she defines herself as an American, not by a certain phrase. Knowing Oprah’s proclivities of late to deal the race card, this is not surprising.

What is also not surprising is the hue and cry on Twitter and in other social media.

Roxanne Jones, founding editor of ESPN The Magazine and former ESPN vice president, took to CNN to register her disagreement. “I get it. Raven-Symoné doesn’t like labels. But she is wrong to run away from her blackness, seemingly hoping that no one acknowledges her beautiful brown skin and the history written all over her face.”

Why is Raven-Symoné’s refusal to use the African-American label equivalent to turning her back on her race? As if a label is anything but a form of categorization. Raven herself said this about her initial discovery of her sexuality: “I don’t need a categorizing statement for this.” From reading the Twitter feeds, very few people are getting up-in-arms about her unwillingness to check the “gay” sexuality box, but plenty of people are highly upset at her unwillingness to check the “African-American” box, and are inferring all types of negative baggage from it.
Back in 1997, Tiger Woods, another supposed “Black” role model (he didn’t volunteer for the role) that the Blacksphere embraced as one of their own (also something he didn’t seek out), pretty much said a similar thing. When Oprah ruled the airwaves on network television, he said in an interview on her ABC show, “Growing up, I came up with this name: I’m a `Cablinasian’. He felt the name best captures his racial makeup: a blend of Caucasian, black, Indian and Asian. Black people got up in arms and called him a denier, a self-hater, and a sell out too.
Dr. Martin Luther King said “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” From the N-word, to Colored, to Negro, to Afro-American, to Black, to African-American, the label has been molded to reflect the times and the generation; and each generation has a right to say that the label no longer fits, or that it does not adequately define me.
It is refreshing that Raven-Symoné wishes to lead, and I applaud her right to do so.
I totally agree. I hope someday, as Martin Luther King once said, people will be judged solely on the content of their character and not the color of their skin. And I might add, not by a ‘hyphen’.

October 11, 2014

MURRAN Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 11:46 AM

Very good meeting yesterday with my publicist. Shared the conf call results we had with her partner. He’s the production person in charge of video productions and has a lot of contacts in and out of the industry they have used for authors before. Now that we have a release date for MURRAN – December 3rd – we can now put together the blog tour and frame a series of ‘hooks’ or ‘elevator pitches’ for MURRAN. After that, they will video an interview for me that we can use for promotion. We have three of four that we are constructing.
So…we are on our way!

October 9, 2014

MURRAN Release Date – October 3rd

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 10:23 AM

Had a very productive meeting with my publicist and publisher yesterday. My publicist and I were greatly impressed with the hands on approach and promotion resources that my publisher is going to give MURRAN. I’m confident that if we all do what we promised, MURRAN should get the successful launch that it deserves. BTW: MURRAN will be released on December 3rd. Whoopee!

September 26, 2014

Found a Publicist

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 10:16 AM

Oscar Wilde is famous for saying, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

Because of the controversial nature of MURRAN, it will need to be talked about to become a best seller. So I’m going to need an experienced publicist. I believe I found one who can not only work with me, but also my publisher, to dovetail their efforts together.

The bottom line for a publicist is INFLUENCE.

In order to gain wide exposure for a book, one needs a publicist that has personal contact with influences – that is, one that can influence the influences. Press releases, creating marketing materials, designing web sites, etc are important for publicity but to be really influential in getting wide book exposure, a publicist must have expertise in three areas – social media, media like blogs and print, and local and national TV.

DM Productions seems to have these areas of expertise and they plan to use them in cooperation with my publisher to give MURRAN the widest possible exposure.

We’ll soon find out if I made the right choice.

Finding the Watering Holes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 10:15 AM

On one of my vacations in Africa, I came up with a marketing term that I use quite frequently.

Water Hole Marketing.

The concept is not new. It’s basically finding places where your market goes for water like the animals in Africa. In other words, it’s places online and offline where your potential readers can be found.

But that’s not all.

These ‘watering holes’ are managed. The task is to get these watering hole owners – who already have the credibility of their visitors – to like your book and influence their visitors to buy it.

Watering holes can be blogs, newspaper columns, magazines or TV shows to name a few.

So how to find and influence these watering holes? That’s JOB ONE of a good publicist. How well connected they are PESONNALY with the influencers will go a long way in the success of promoting your book.

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