After several years, this March marked the completion of my first feature “Fairfield Follies.” It has been an educational, fun, and sometimes grueling journey. As I assemble my presskit materials to submit it to festivals, the Director’s statement provides the opportunity to share what the movie actually means to me.
Here’s what “Fairfield Follies” is really about:
Stereotypes exist for a reason. At some point in time, a group of people embodied similar characteristics and traits. These traits were then reinforced, modeled by others. It became a ‘reality’ that ‘Those people are that way’. In the high school cafeteria, it becomes a survival tool – a “band geek” wouldn’t dare infiltrate “ski club” territory. We seek out ‘our people’ using stereotypes, for a greater chance of love and acceptance.
The trouble is: we forget that these are just surface assessments, and that no one person embodies them to the core. We forget that these are individuals who have their own personal thoughts, feelings and motivations. And, let’s not forget that we can’t even figure out which stereotypes to affix to people of color. Are “THEY” Lazy? Industrious? Jesters? Criminals? ‘Mammy’ or ‘Uncle Tom’?
For me, “Fairfield Follies” was an opportunity to expose the fact that most of us, to some extent, are guilty of stereotyping. Ms. Evans’ attempts to celebrate diversity turns into a debacle of gross generalizations and ignorant affectations. Why? Because her actors portray their roles by the most generalized of stereotypes. The richness of culture is lost in surface assessments, and no real understanding of the layers of human complexity.
None of the characters are malicious, with the obvious exception of Mrs. Whitelove. They have a childlike innocence and ignorance. They absorbed their beliefs, as we all do, taking for granted what they were told, saw in movies, or gleaned from observation. I really enjoy role reversals – and, adults acting like children was a light-hearted way to drive home the realities of this issue.
There are a couple of moments in the movie where we definitely cross lines. I toyed with filming a milder, more acceptable version. However, skirting around these subjects do them injustice. Also, it would be hypocritical to conform to political correctness for a film that takes aim at this very philosophy. I hope these moments inspire conversation. Why does this make you uncomfortable? Why is this wrong? Because, honestly, I hope you do feel some things are wrong.
We are in a time where the themes in “Fairfield Follies” are, unfortunately, very relevant. Ignorance, hate, and fear are fostered by stereotypes and an ‘US’ vs “THEM” attitude. The reality is that there is only “US”, made up of individuals who possess a spectrum of good and bad traits. Sharing Ms Evans’ lofty goal, I hope that “Fairfield Follies” will be “a perspective-changing masterpiece”.