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Should I specify covid masks in a story, if it's set in modern times? (1 Viewer)

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ironpony

Senior Member
Now that everyone wears them, should I specify characters putting them on, taking them off, if it's the new normal? Or should not mention it at all, or would not mentioning it seem strange now?

For example, there is a scene where a woman character tries to seduce a male a character. But when she goes in for the kiss, she of course would take off her covid mask first. But should I mention this action during the seduction then?

That's just one example, but what do you think?
 

sunaynaprasad

WF Veterans
I would avoid the masks, especially if you need your characters to kiss. In fact, unless your story is centered around COVID-19, it would probably be worth to set it one or two years ago, like 2019 or even 2018.
I don't know what your WIP is like and if you added dates and the days they fall on. But if you haven't, then you could set it in the past 1 or 2 years.
If it's important for the characters to wear masks and live during the pandemic, think about what could happen to their health. This might open a chance for more tension and conflict. But if they need to live typical lives without pandemic restrictions, it may be a good idea to set it in 2019 or 2018.
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh okay. But since I am writing a screenplay that is meant to be filmed, they cannot set it before covid, because of the laws that stipulate you have to wear masks while working nowadays though. So the actors still wouldn't be able to get around it, even if set in the past though, I don't think.

But my story does involve an event where if I set it in the past, wouldn't readers be asking, "why didn't we hear of this event back then, if that's when it happened in the setting?" Or would they not ask that?
 

Xander416

Senior Member
Oh okay. But since I am writing a screenplay that is meant to be filmed, they cannot set it before covid, because of the laws that stipulate you have to wear masks while working nowadays though. So the actors still wouldn't be able to get around it, even if set in the past though, I don't think.
Even if your script is made into a movie during this pandemic, COVID and masks really don't have to be relevant to the story being told and, like a lot of background elements, can just be there with no reference or relevance at all. For example, there's a Shake Shack restaurant in Lower Manhattan, but that doesn't mean Olivia Benson has to visit or mention it in every episode of Law & Order, does it?

Just focus on telling your story and stop letting outside elements like this bog you down. For all you know, COVID, masks and social distancing could be a thing of the past by the time your script is bought and made into a movie.

But my story does involve an event where if I set it in the past, wouldn't readers be asking, "why didn't we hear of this event back then, if that's when it happened in the setting?" Or would they not ask that?
You're not adapting a real life event, so there's no need to be concerned with that. It's the whole nature of fiction and the same reason I don't wonder why Los Angeles is still standing after being nuked in 2004 after watching Terminator 3.
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh okay. It's just that if the law says you have to wear a mask in real life now, in any work environment, there is no way around that, and the government does not care about fiction setting, when it comes to laws like that of course :).
 

Xander416

Senior Member
Oh okay. It's just that if the law says you have to wear a mask in real life now, in any work environment, there is no way around that, and the government does not care about fiction setting, when it comes to laws like that of course :).
Laws in the real world have no bearing on fictional events. I've played all but one of the Grand Theft Auto video games since GTA III in 2001 and the number of pixelated people I've murdered in said games all throughout those years of playing would make the Holocaust look like a misdemeanor in comparison, yet I'm still walking free and have never spent a single moment of my life in jail. If you legitimately fear being held criminally responsible for your fictional characters not wearing masks in the fictional world you created on your computer screen, you can call a lawyer and ask just to be sure. I'd bet money he just laughs and hangs up on you. :lol:
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
You can use mask, but don't use COVID. COVID automatically dates things, and since pandemics are things that have happened before, we can bet it will happen again. So, let another generation enjoy your piece without thinking you're talking about a specific timespan.
 

TheManx

Senior Member
But since I am writing a screenplay that is meant to be filmed, they cannot set it before covid, because of the laws that stipulate you have to wear masks while working nowadays though. So the actors still wouldn't be able to get around it, even if set in the past though, I don't think.

In the U.S. (and I'm betting elsewhere) the various unions and guilds have come together to publish covid safety guidelines for film production. From what I understand, there are a lot of work-arounds that don't necessarily require that actors wear masks. They're available on line. Why don't you do some research -- and then figure out how it will affect your story? I'd also consider the likelihood of selling your script and the time it takes to get a movie into production...
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
For example, there is a scene where a woman character tries to seduce a male a character. But when she goes in for the kiss, she of course would take off her covid mask first. But should I mention this action during the seduction then?

Look at it this way, if she succeeds would you go into details about the removal of underwear, if you would go for it with the mask, otherwise let your readers assume they took them off.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
You can use mask, but don't use COVID. COVID automatically dates things, and since pandemics are things that have happened before, we can bet it will happen again. So, let another generation enjoy your piece without thinking you're talking about a specific timespan.

I disagree with this line of thinking. Setting is everything.

Sometimes I set my modern stories before the pandemic, sometimes after.
 

Xander416

Senior Member
Maybe it's just me, but the reality of this pandemic has been depressing enough for me already and having it permeate my avenues of escapism only to remind me of said depressing reality doesn't sound very appealing. Hence I'm completely ignoring COVID in everything I'm writing regardless of setting.

But you (as in everybody else, not any specific "you" commenting in this thread) do you and I won't bust your chops about it.
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh okay, my story does not have anything to do with the pandemic in the plot, I just didn't think I could get around it, if actors are going to be legally required to wear masks for who knows how many years now. I live in Canada where the laws are more strict on that for actors, than in the US I think.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
The rampant mask wearing will most likely start to wind down within the next 1-2 years.

The Spanish Flu lasted around two years and that was with less vigilance and no real vaccination program, which is projected to begin for Covid early 2021. I wouldn't necessarily bother making major changes with that.

Do you think writers in 2002 incorporated fear over Islamic terrorism into every story around that time? No. Ultimately art is separate from life and while Covid is a huge deal and mask-wearing in real life is an absolute no brainer, we aren't talking about something that is necessary, let alone desirable, to be incorporated into most stories for no good reason.

I trust you don't frequently incorporate the impacts of chronic diarrhea into your stories either, and that is also a widespread health concern. I know Covid isn’t remotely comparable to diarrhea right now, but in five or ten years? it probably will be. People tend to move on rather quickly. Nobody thinks about polio anymore.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
The rampant mask wearing will most likely start to wind down within the next 1-2 years.

The Spanish Flu lasted around two years and that was with less vigilance and no real vaccination program, which is projected to begin for Covid early 2021. I wouldn't necessarily bother making major changes with that.

Do you think writers in 2002 incorporated fear over Islamic terrorism into every story around that time? No. Ultimately art is separate from life and while Covid is a huge deal and mask-wearing in real life is an absolute no brainer, we aren't talking about something that is necessary, let alone desirable, to be incorporated into most stories for no good reason.

I trust you don't frequently incorporate the impacts of chronic diarrhea into your stories either, and that is also a widespread health concern. I know Covid isn’t remotely comparable to diarrhea right now, but in five or ten years? it probably will be. People tend to move on rather quickly. Nobody thinks about polio anymore.

I am not at all sure that is true, Lucky. Flu didn't simply go away, it is embedded in a domestic animal population in SE Asia and emerges in new mutations regularly, most of them are not so virulent as the Spanish variety of 1919, but they are essentially the same thing. Covid may have originally come from a remote source, but there is good evidence it is infecting other animals besides humans and that it is mutating. It could well be that we end up needing a new vaccine every year like flu and not having gone for the 'wipe out' policy of Asia, New Zealand and now Australia we could be stuck with it as a permenant endemic disease. If people are not thinking about polio more fool them, the only disease we have effectively wiped out is smallpox. Look what happened with that spurious 'research' about MMR vaccine, people didn't bother getting their kids done because it might be bad for them and there have been outbreaks of measles ever since, not huge, but they have killed a few children and left more disabled. Bear this in mind, the areas we have not reached for polio are in tribal areas ruled by militant Islamists, if some terrorist figures out he can take a lot more people out with a spray can of polio than he can with an AK or a traditional sword, and probably not even get caught ...

We should be fighting hard to rid the world entirely of diseases like polio and leprosy, they only affect poor people with no influence at the moment, but if our civilisation takes a downturn they will be back to bite us, or our children.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
Any story setting of your 1918/19 would have a dash of Spanish Flu? Unless your narrator was looking back from a 20s/30s/40s/50s/60s or 70s/80s perspective when there would be absolutely no reference to pandemic.


...cursory word for Mary Seacole, bootlegger with bandages, possibly.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
I am not at all sure that is true, Lucky. Flu didn't simply go away, it is embedded in a domestic animal population in SE Asia and emerges in new mutations regularly, most of them are not so virulent as the Spanish variety of 1919, but they are essentially the same thing. Covid may have originally come from a remote source, but there is good evidence it is infecting other animals besides humans and that it is mutating. It could well be that we end up needing a new vaccine every year like flu and not having gone for the 'wipe out' policy of Asia, New Zealand and now Australia we could be stuck with it as a permenant endemic disease. If people are not thinking about polio more fool them, the only disease we have effectively wiped out is smallpox. Look what happened with that spurious 'research' about MMR vaccine, people didn't bother getting their kids done because it might be bad for them and there have been outbreaks of measles ever since, not huge, but they have killed a few children and left more disabled. Bear this in mind, the areas we have not reached for polio are in tribal areas ruled by militant Islamists, if some terrorist figures out he can take a lot more people out with a spray can of polio than he can with an AK or a traditional sword, and probably not even get caught ...

We should be fighting hard to rid the world entirely of diseases like polio and leprosy, they only affect poor people with no influence at the moment, but if our civilisation takes a downturn they will be back to bite us, or our children.

But we're talking about what gets (or should get) WRITTEN about in fiction...

Of course people should think about diseases, remember those who died, learn the public health lessons, etc. But I fail to see where incorporating a bunch of people wearing some cloth masks over their faces in a piece of fiction fits into that.

This is where we need to stay on target, IMO, and not drift into the realms of politics or anything. This isn't a discussion about public health policy or anything like that. If it were, I would not be nearly so flippant and would agree with everything you wrote, more or less. But none of what you are saying seems relevant to the fact that people don't seem, in general, to find covid or the reality it fosters *interesting* when it comes to stuff they want to read about in books and I see no case for why including it would be helpful or enjoyable.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
Face masks will be some element of the story if you want your reader to picture 2020. If you were painting a street crossing in Tokyo, 2010, you'd chuck in masks.

There's actions - this year - for example, if you are writing a romantic setting, build-up - she flung off her face mask has become rather more intoxicating [gurgle], taboo.
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh well I guess the story is set in modern times, but how does that mean I have to have covid? For example, when the Spider-man (2002) movie came out, I read that the filmmakers went back and cut out all the shots of the twin towers after 9/11 happened. But if modern events should not be a big deal, and not should not be a part of your story, if your story, doesn't have anything to do with modern events, than why did they feel the need to do that?

Does that mean that I need to include covid in mine for example?
 

Xander416

Senior Member
Oh well I guess the story is set in modern times, but how does that mean I have to have covid? For example, when the Spider-man (2002) movie came out, I read that the filmmakers went back and cut out all the shots of the twin towers after 9/11 happened. But if modern events should not be a big deal, and not should not be a part of your story, if your story, doesn't have anything to do with modern events, than why did they feel the need to do that?

Does that mean that I need to include covid in mine for example?
The difference there is that the Twin Towers are never coming back, whereas our social normality eventually will.
 

sunaynaprasad

WF Veterans
I assumed that Spider-Man may have removed the twin towers scene because it might have offended people, especially those who lost loved ones during 9/11. But I could be wrong.
 
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