Monday, February 4, 2008

Story Seed

I'm still sort of boggled from a news article I read and my brain is slipping in all sorts of directions. On the surface it's just a story about a petty theft, no big deal. But I'm coming up with all these different interpretations and implications and what if...? kinds of threads.

The story is about two teenagers who stole a nine-year-old Girl Scout's cookie money, and my first thought was that these two bitches are just begging for a good pounding, seriously. Not just for what they did, although that was bad enough. But when they were caught this is what they had to say:

"We went through all that effort to get it, we got all these charges and we had to give the money back. I'm kind of pissed," one of the girls told WPBF.

And the other:

"I'm not sorry, I'm just pissed that I got caught," the girl said.

That's it. No remorse, no guilt, no sense that they'd done anything wrong whatsoever. They "needed" the money, it was there within reach, so they took it. And after going to "all that effort" they seem to think that they somehow deserved to keep it. O_O

It seems like a minor thing, if you take a step back and look at it in the context of the world and its larger problems -- two teenagers stole money and weren't sorry when they were caught. But what if that were the new direction society was heading? What if that's "normal" a couple of generations from now -- what would the world look like? What if, a hundred years from now, there would be no outrage at all over what these girls did, just contempt for their being stupid and inept enough to get caught? Dystopias have fallen out of fashion in SF over the last decade or two, but this news story really brings a dystopian future scenario into my mind.

Or what if there's some explanation for their actions and attitudes other than their just being a couple of prime examples of entitled personalities? Maybe there's some disease attacks the part of the brain which makes moral judgements? Maybe they were drugged in some way which produces the same effect? (Deliberately or accidentally? Willingly or knowingly or not?) Maybe they're being impersonated or had their minds taken over (aliens? demons? ghosts?) by entities who are trying to fit in but watched the wrong movies during their preparations? Or which are deliberately trying to smear the two girls or hurt the Girl Scout or just generally create outrage?

You can get a dozen different stories out of this, from chilling to humorous, from intense psycho-drama to despairing dark-future to rollicking adventure, because this is just so outrageous that it spawns a strong need to figure out reasons and consequences, which is always a good place to start with a story.

In the real world, though, I still want to smack the both of them good.



Nentuaby said...

I hope you're not honestly that concerned that this is some kind of "growing trend." As infuriating as it is, this is just the classic and very, very ancient sociopathic personality. It's been observed in criminals since prehistoric times- you can even find a certain percentage of sociopathic individuals annoying the rest of any given troup of monkeys. The gut feeling that it's a new and growing problem is a simple function of our short instinctive time horizons.

Angie said...

Nentuaby -- no, I wasn't seriously considering it the beginning of a trend. :) A single data point isn't much to extrapolate with, and even looking at all the other entitled sociopaths who are out there rampaging through the news, it's still a tiny fraction of the total population, and there's enough anger and outrage about it in commentary that I don't think we have to worry about this sort of attitude becoming the norm for a very long time.

I still want to smack those two twits until they're spitting teeth (and I seriously hope the police decide to charge them, or that the Girl Scout's parents raise some hell and insist upon it, or something, but the "what if" speculations were in terms of story ideas. I don't know whether you've ever written SF, but "what if...?" is where most SF stories start. As a news story it's maddening, but as a story seed it's actually pretty fertile.


Spy Scribbler said...

They're still deciding whether or not to charge them? That's sick. They definitely need to learn that their behavior was wrong.

That's most important.

Angie said...

SS -- according to the story I linked, on the one hand "the case has been handed over to the State Attorney's Office to determine if charges will be filed against the teens," but on the other hand "Authorities said the teens were not charged because they did not use force to steal the money, nor did they take the money from the Girl Scout’s hands." It sounds like someone is pretty confused here. I'm just hoping they do get charged, because I agree with you that their attitudes are just outrageous and they need a major wake-up call.


Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Gosh it is horrible to hear stories like this. What do the parents have to say about all of this? Horrible kids. Simply horrible.

Angie said...

Ello -- no comment in the story from the parents. I know what I'd have to say if it were my kid involved in something like that, but no clue what these folks think.

I actually hate to imagine it, frankly, considering these are the parents who raised the two girls to be the way they are. :/


Sarai said...

You are right Angie it does force one to think what if... A lot of my friends ask me how I come up with story ideas and this is a prime example.
Reading something that triggers an emotion and then asking what if... It is pretty sad that these young girls see no wrong in what they did. It does make a person wonder...

Angie said...

Sarai -- exactly. [nod] I think the more outrageous and frustrating something is, the more I want to come up with some explanation, and the more out-there the explanations I come up with are likely to be. [wry smile]


Charles Gramlich said...

I fear we're living in this world now. At least sometimes it seems so. The school cheating thing is an example from my own experience. It's rampant and so few students feel guilty when caught.

I guess it's too much to hope that these girls' parents will smack them around?

Angie said...

Charles -- everywhere I've seen comments on this article, people were angry and outraged. That gives me hope, you know? There was nothing in the story about the parents' reaction, except for that one father donating money to the Girl Scouts, but I'm hoping they'll take some strong action. :/


Bernita said...

"Smack them both"
Oh, me too, Angie!

Angie said...

Bernita -- we can each smack one of them. :P They're certainly begging for it.