Updated: Jan 26
INT. CONFERENCE CENTER BALLROOM - DAY
Stephen King, a gangly WHITE MAN of UNKNOWN AGE (for having sold his soul to the devil) lopes onto the stage in smudgy eyeglasses.
A CROWD of people (brown and black, as normal people are) MURMURS. King TAPS the mic. A MODERATOR, a pretty woman in her 20s, grabs it from him like he might steal it, and WIPES it discreetly upon her pants leg before speaking into it.
MODERATOR: Hello, ladies and gentleman! Thank you for coming to the event today. As you can see, we have here with us today one of the nation's leading white voices, the white male "writer," Stephen - hold on. I'm not sure how to pronounce your last name. Do you say it with a British accent? (Purses lips like the Queen's arsehole, LAUGHS.) "King."
The crowd CHUCKLES.
MODERATOR: (to crowd) Just makes me want tea and crumpets!
Crowd goes MMMM.
MODERATOR: Wait. It's Tuesday, isn't it? Tea-n-Crumpet Tuesday!
MODERATOR: Is that tea truck still parked outside? I really want tea now.
KING: Um, I don't say it like that. King is fine. Just like you would normally say it.
The moderator lifts her brows and the crowd SHIFTS awkwardly.
MODERATOR: Seems like someone's getting combative already.
Crowd CHUCKLES again.
KING: I'm not mad, I was just -
MODERATOR: Don't worry. This is a "safe space," as your publicist requested.
KING: He did?
MODERATOR: You can let down your guard, and just be real with us. We want to support white male writers. Our lawyers suggested we do that.
MODERATOR: Can you recommend any white male writers to us?
Moderator looks at the crowd like "can you believe this?" They shake their heads.
MODERATOR: Seems someone's just a bit full of himself, doesn't it?
KING: But this presentation is about me, and my book. I'm not trying to be -
MODERATOR: I thought your people were known for their humility. Does your obvious narcissism put you at odds with cultural norms for your people?
KING: At odds? Why are you doing this? I'm just here to talk about my book.
Moderator takes a DEEP BREATH and composes herself.
MODERATOR: Fine. So. What's this new book about, anyway? You've called it, "It." Is that some kind of statement about identity?
KING: Well, no, I mean. Maybe. There's this homicidal clown who lives in the sewer, and everywhere he goes there's a red balloon. His forehead is really big.
Moderator's eyes narrow in thought. The crowd SHIFTS and MURMERS again.
MODERATOR: I see. This sounds like a very authentic white male narrative.
KING: I didn't really think about it like that as I was writing it. I was just trying to write about a scary clown.
MODERATOR: So, you're saying white men are scary clowns.
Crowd MURMURS in agreement. But, because this is a safe space, RESPECTFUL agreement.
KING: (re: crowd) Why are they doing that? They look weird.
MODERATOR: (ignores question) Do you find it difficult, in an industry where authors like Dean Koontz are writing unrealistically about nuanced, clever, ethical and decent white male characters, to appeal to, you know, readers, with authentic white male narratives such as yours?
KING: I don't understand the question. It sounds like you're saying "readers" and "white males" are mutually exclusive somehow.
MODERATOR: Well, I mean...c'mon.
KING: That's kind of insulting.
MODERATOR: Well, maybe if you took that chip off your shoulder, you wouldn't be offended by everything. (British accent) Oh, look, I've got me fish-n-chip on me shoulder!
MODERATOR: Oh, before I forget. I just want you to know. I have a friend from Belfast. Well, actually, he's not my friend. He's just my gardener. But my husband and I totally feel terrible about what's happening to your people there.
MODERATOR: What is your opinion about unrest in Northern Ireland?
KING: I'm sorry?
MODERATOR: Well, that's nice of you. But do you actually think it's all your fault?
KING: Wait, what?
MODERATOR: Was it very hard for you, growing up on welfare after your parents swam here from Belfast?
KING: I'm sorry? What? I'm not Irish. My ancestors were English.
MODERATOR: Oh, c'mon. Is there really a difference?
KING: I'm pretty sure there is. Also, I'm an American.
MODERATOR: Are you saying you're not illegal?
KING: I'm a citizen.
MODERATOR: Well, that may be. But what are you, really?
MODERATOR: Well, you might be an American citizen now, but with a name like King, won't you always be Irish first?
MODERATOR: I mean, c'mon. We're in Los Angeles. You just flew in from Las Vegas. Those aren't exactly Irish words, are they?
KING: No. They're Spanish.
MODERATOR: Exactly. They're American. Like all of us. Except you. Is it very hard to write from a foreign point of view for an American audience?
KING: I don't do that, though.
MODERATOR: It's hard for me to ask this next question, but here goes. Do you honestly think that with all the problems being faced by your people in the third world, that they really need to be reminded of murderous clowns?
KING: Third world?
MODERATOR: Especially considering climate justice, third world coastal cities. No, wait. Belfast's landlocked. Isn't it? I don't really know. What's your favorite thing about Belfast, Mr. King?
KING: I've never been there.
Crowd LAUGHS like this is a tremendous JOKE.
MODERATOR: You know, I don't think I'm the only one who's noticed, but your English is really good. Like, surprisingly good.
KING: Thanks. It's my native and only language.
Crowd LAUGHS again.
KING: I write in it. Even though my book is always shelved in the translation section for some reason.
Crowd LAUGHS again.
MODERATOR: You're charming. Adorable.
MODERATOR: And if I weren't married...
KING: So, back to my book. When I set out to write it, I used an outline. Sometimes I don't, but for this particular plot I felt like I had to. Otherwise it would have eaten me alive.
MODERATOR: (scared, steps back) Wow.
Crowd GASPS. Two armed SECURITY GUARDS step forward. King eyes them nervously.
MODERATOR: Speaking of which, is it quite difficult for you, Mr. King?
Moderator gestures to the crowd suggestively. King doesn't understand.
MODERATOR: All of this, I mean.
King still doesn't get it.
MODERATOR: Well, being here amongst all these delicious looking people, and not, you know, jumping into the audience and eating all our faces.
KING: What are you saying?
MODERATOR: Or is it, culturally I mean, is it only when white males are wearing clown makeup that they commit atrocities?
KING: It's a novel. Not a memoir. A work of fiction.
MODERATOR: Yes, but surely you've drawn upon your own life as a white male. Otherwise, what would be the purpose of a marginalized person such as yourself to be attempting something as painfully difficult - and particularly difficult in a dark, wet sewer - as writing in the first place?
KING: Well, no, actually. It's just a story.
MODERATOR: But surely you must be writing to represent your community.
KING: Not really. I just like words.
MODERATOR: Well, now that is deeply disappointing. Are you trying to say you're not actually a white male writer?
KING: I'm trying to say I don't think that should matter. I'm a writer.
MODERATOR: So, you're not a white male writer, then?
KING: I mean, I guess.
A white male ACTIVIST college professor in the audience stands up. When he removes his MAGA cap, we can see that his head is shaved.
ACTIVIST: Are you or are you not a representative of our community, Mr. King - if that's really your name.
KING: What community?
The crowd GASPS again.
KING: (offended) Are you asking if I' a skinhe-
ACTIVIST: The white male community! Do you or do you not represent us? Are you self-loathing or something?
KING: No, I'm just - I came here to talk about my novel and writing process.
ACTIVIST: I bet your name isn't even King! I bet you're...you're...I read somewhere that your grandmother was named Garcia!
The crowd GASPS.
KING: What the hell does any of this have to do with being a writer? Or my new book?
ACTIVIST: You might think you're a writer, but as a member of the white male community it is your job first and foremost to authentically represent all 200 million of us!
KING: How is that even possible? We don't all share one brain, do we?
The activist stares at him as if to say "of course we do, and it's located in Sean Hannity's skull."
MODERATOR: Mr. King, in closing, is there anything you'd like America to know about the plight of white men, before you go?