PC, But Not PC

How the personal computer changed my professional life

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: March 9, 2002

PC, But Not PC

Latinos, especially those of us in the homeboy tradition, are not encouraged to pursue writing as a means of expression. Certainly not as a vocation. Literary comments from this tribe is usually limited to spray can soliloquies, or tattoo catch phrases. My inspiration has always been song lyrics.

The personal computer via the Internet has taken writing and the availability of getting one's thoughts to the public into a whole other realm of facility. For those of us who ever struggled with a Dear John/Juanita letter or a term paper, there has been an evolution of the writing process: first, the yellow pad and ink, followed by typewriter and white out, then personal computer, and finally personal computer with spell check.

You can now get software that lets you can talk to the computer and it will write down whatever you say.

The irony of this process is that nowadays anyone can write. Too bad it is usually limited to us "insolentes" who have very little to say, but the expert means to convey it. It is said that politics is show business for ugly people.

Dictating to a computer who audibly reads back what I say in a whiny cyber electronica voice gives me the creeps, and am quite confidant that the computer feels the same way about me. I still need a mechanical connection to the page. Acquiescent, it seems that I always defer to what the spell or grammar correct suggests, because I?m convinced that the people who program such things are smarter than me. The computer wanted me to write I am.

As a former magazine feature writer turned screenwriter, the old process of getting your prose to market was cumbersome. I would write out several drafts of an article or a story, type it out with quarts of white-out handy. Send the manuscript through the mail, only to have the editor kick it back for rewrites a few weeks later.

To write is to re-write.

If the article needed to be somewhere quickly, under deadline, you could take it to the airport, put it on a plane or down to the slums and put it on a bus. Then came Federal Express. You could send your hard work overnight to get back ?Notes? -- a fascist fix-it list -- a few days later. This process was expensive and by the time you were published and were paid, you lost a few bucks in the process, only to have your friends not read your stuff anyway. People like to look at pictures.

The real revolution occurred when we where able to enable the business computer at work to send full screenplays across country. This modem to modem process took several hours and when the text arrived it looked like a Chinese menu.

The handling of the written word became user-friendly when fax machines came into play. I could fax, article, or several scenes and receive immediate criticism via that weird silky paper which has a tendency to curl up like the end of a Tailban's church shoes. We were one of the first families in our community and one of the first Latinos on the planet to have an in-home fax capability.

E-mail has inspired a whole new generation of writers. One can send a full one hundred twenty page screenplay via e-mail and have the entire document reviewed and rejected within a few short hours.

Skilled producers even have the capability of blocking your e-mails when they are tired of your mess. Agents on the other hand are different, they will often times let you e-mail them screenplays only to delete them in front of the office staff during happy hour.

No one reads anything. Movie people prefer to look at pretty pictures.

?The entertainment industry is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There?s also a negative side.?

-Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Everyone, whether you acknowledge it or not, has something valid to say. There is no excuse with the ability of modern technology for people not to participate in the great American dialogue.

We have many serious community issues that need to be discussed, problems need to be solved, people must participate in society. Your voice must be heard, your perspective represented.

Use your PC not to be PC.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos Hernandez is a screenwriter looking for gigs.

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