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    From: J. Michael Straczynski <>
 Subject: Just curious...
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/30/1996 5:17:00 AM  

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{original post unavailable}

What an interesting question....

I don't think it *has* affected me, but that's my my subjective
point of view, and that's a self-serving analysis, so let's start from
the assumption that that may be flawed, and proceed from there.

Main reason I think it hasn't affected or changed me is that I
haven't had *time* for it. Once we got the go-ahead for the series, I
stuck my head in a B5 shaped hole in the ground and haven't had time to
come up for air yet. Once I've finished the show, and can take a moment
to look around, will I become a complete butthead? Possible, but I
don't think so.

My problem is the same as it's always been...I'm *extremely*
self critical. The doofus in the mirror today, 3 years into B5 is the
same doofus I saw there 3-4 years ago. I know the areas in which I'm a
jerk, and the areas in which I'm golden...they haven't changed much. I
also have a hard time applying the reaction to *the show* to myself.
The show is a thing apart, somehow. Whenever someone thanks me for the
show, I tend to get kinda abashed about the whole thing...which is why
you don't tend to see messages from me elaborating on someone's
appreciation. Usually it's just a "thanks" and we move on. If I
wanted to feed that, or keep it going, I could do so. But for me, the
Babylon 5 universe has a certain reality about it, somewhere deep in my
brain, and I'm just writing down what happens there. (No, I can still
tell fact from fiction...but I've just been living in that fictional
place so long that it becomes second nature...imagine your best friend
walking across the den late at night, and banging his/her shin on the
coffee table. It doesn't take a great leap of imagination to figure out
what your friend will say in comes naturally. So do the
events in B5, by virtue of knowing the characters and the universe as
well as I do.)

I will tell you a terrible but true thing: when I go to a
convention and take the stage...I never hear the applause. I'm so
concerned with what I'm going to say, the need to find some way to
appear even *remotely* interesting when I know the reality is far from
it, to make sure these good people get their money's worth, a
performance...that I don't hear it, try as I might. I want to, I would
like to...but it's as if it's intended for someone else, and he or she
couldn't make it, and I'm being thrust out onto the stage to substitute
for someone interesting.

I think that if I've changed at all, it's to become a little
more cautious and introspective. (Witness this message.) As that
famous Greek philosopher Peter Parker once pointed out, "With power
comes responsibility." Because of this show, I have an unexpected
platform; so I have become more wary in how I use it in order to avoid
abusing it. With that comes the desire to find ways to use it in a
positive encourage other people to find their own dreams,
to ask questions and put out good information on how TV works, so that
people can better influence what they see and hear in this medium, and
get what they want, not what somebody *thinks* they want.

Finally, I think I'm fairly aware of my relative position in
society; can there be any lesser celebrity than a producer, anything
more ephemeral than a television writer? Between writing, prep,
shooting, and post, it takes us about 3 months to make one
episode...which is gone in an hour, phosphor dots sent cruising toward
Andromeda at the speed of starlight. It's been debated here before, but
I still hold fast to the notion that the really important people, the
ones doing the work that will influence the next hundred years, are the
teachers and the builders and the researchers who are creating the
*real* future, not writing about a fictional one. I can write 1,000
episodes of B5...and it won't cure one person of polio, that took Dr.
Jonas Salk.

Television as a medium is too important to turn over to the
visigoths, can be used to great can ignite controversy,
entertain, educate and ennoble; it can propel us toward the stars or
bring down a president. But it is always ephemeral, of the moment; it
does not last, does not endure. If you're very lucky, your show can
last 10 years before it becomes dated, out of style, behind the times.
Where it can inspire people to do more with their lives in ways that
make a permanent difference, then it is of greater value, and that is
my hope for this show.

But that's the show. Not me.

I'm still the doofus in the mirror.


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