Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A need-to-know basis

One of my favorite movie quotes comes from The Rock: "You're on a need-to-know basis, and you don't need to know." This is probably something often hammered into the heads of journalists everywhere (as well as the newspaper-reading public!) but it would seem a lot of writers would say something like this, too. Just because they're there writing about something doesn't mean they'll tell readers every single thing they hear, see and do.

I am reminded of this now because of a current article I am writing. The article is about people of semi-celebrity status who, I might add, I have the privilege of seeing quite a lot. Often in ways they'd rather keep hidden from the public. I didn't want to write about them at first because, well, I AM privy to this type of "private" information. But you can't turn that "writer" inside off. You just can't shut it out, no matter WHAT is going on in life. Of course I'm not writing about EVERYTHING that has to do with them. I know when to keep my mouth shut and when to keep stuff private. But it was only a matter of time before I came up with something to write about, something involving them. It involves me, too. Hah! But that's not why I've got my inner "gatekeeper" turned on. I've got it turned on because I respect their privacy.

This goes against my long-standing feelings about writers, reporters and the media in general, withholding details. I have always had a gripe about gatekeeping. I've always been one to get the COLD HARD FACTS out there into the world, for all to see. The public has the right to know!

But the fact is, they don't NEED to know. Not every single detail, anyway. There are just SOME things that need to be kept private. Some things that a writer shouldn't go blabbing about to the whole world. As far as a celebrity, or even semi-celebrity, is concerned, they have a WORLD of concerns as far as what gets revealed to who. They have a reputation to either uphold, add to, or even salvage. They have a way of "working" their publicity. (That's the PR side talking!) And, yes, there ARE things they don't need revealed to the whole world. A little mystery about people only adds to their appeal. We don't REALLY know someone, but that's what draws more attention, more fans, and more publicity. That's the stuff that keeps their careers going. And I'm not going to take that all away by blabbing every single detail to the whole world. That will only bring them down, and that is not why I am writing about them in the first place.

So why do I want to write THIS article in particular? About THESE people, in particular? To promote them AND to give readers/their fans a taste of something they can't have: What it's like to be around them. I want to write about what it's like, but I won't write EVERYTHING. Some things are private issues that the world just doesn't need to know.


  • At 11:07 AM , Blogger Andrew McAllister said...

    I liked that line in THE ROCK too.

    Some other favorites:
    State trooper to Burt Reynolds after telling him to leave the state and then pulling him over on the highway again (delivered in a slow, Southern drawl): "Boy, what we have here is a failure to communicate!"

    Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment when his neighbor asks him if he would like to go on a second date with her: "I'd rather stick needles in my eyes."

    Anyway, thanks so much for dropping by To Love, Honor and Dismay and for leaving such a nice comment. See you next time!


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