Watching the decline...

Monthly Archives: August 2017

Your Heroes Will Always Disappoint You

Updated on 8/23/17 with links. And a few egregious spelling errors.

….so don’t have heroes.

Feminism has been redefined, again and again, mostly by men. I think I went through a short period of calling myself a feminist before I realized the ridiculousness of that statement. I’m not a woman, so the defining of feminism was not for me to do. Like conversations about abortion, I can only actually be involved on the periphery unless I had something directly to do with the pregnancy. Yes I know and love the women in my life but I don’t define who they are.

Feminism and the definition of it are truly woman’s work. I have a right to chime in and ask questions but the defining characteristics of feminism and being female are not mine to judge.  I think our first mistake when we talk about feminism is allowing fearful or manipulative men to set the conversational terms of engagement. Men, although well-meaning, are often swayed by less than honorable reasons to declare themselves “feminists.” there is a running joke that guys who declare themselves feminists are just trying to get laid. Its a trope on every college campus and workplace and it exists because in many ways it’s true.

It is like the friend who declares their “color blindness,” the person who always knows the best “ethnic food spots” but knows not a single person representing the various flavors he can describe in great detail. The guy who likes exotic looking chicks, or the girl who shows up at all the anti-racist rallies and doesn’t have a single Black friend IRL.

Those people. I’ve been one of those people. I hope never to be one again.

I wish I could say that Kai Cole’s essay about her ex-husband Joss Whedon came as a huge surprise to me. Anyone who shouts so loudly about a cause and is so vocally oppositional to those who champion its opposition is often, not always, but often, full of some degree of shit.

Granted, as we should do with everyone, we need to wait for both sides or at least the stream of on set confirmations that will surely follow, until fully accepting Cole’s POV lock stock and barrel. I fear, though, that it may be too close to the truth.

I love Rosemary’s Baby, adore Braveheart and still believe North by Northwest is a classic, but all of the above film’s Directors, were and in some cases still are, shitty to women. It doesn’t make my enjoyment of any of the above less so because they all came from the minds of mild to extreme misogynists. It does, however, because I am a man and have no direct experience with misogyny, not ring as deeply as it would had I been female. It sucks in this case because he was preaching to be just the opposite.

Now you can find a whole host of reasons his activism was nulled and voided by these revelations (if true) but I can’t help but think that along with the truckload of bullshit there is a deep psychological upset in there as well. Not justifying any of it, just looking at everything full big picture.

If what Cole has written is true, not in its natural and understandable POV but its core truth, that Whedon was a faker and manipulator who used his feminist creds to hide his philandering, that will be a hard pill to swallow. For me it’s not as much a personal affront that he cheated, that aspect of his life is his, and his ex’s not the public’s. What tramples on my sensibilities is that everything he’s said, largely in line with my own beliefs, will be used as ammunition against the rest of us, the silent ones who looked at his stances as brave (but sometimes just as bad as some of whats been said on the “other side”)  and echoed his sentiments. It doesn’t make the views any less relevant, but it does make the spewer damaged goods. The messenger and the message have become one, and the messenger has his stink all over the message.

This is why I back away from admiration as a public duty, and this is why I don’t have heroes. They will ALWAYS, ALWAYS let you down.

I’ll Just leave this here…

This Is Normal (unfortunately)

A few facts for anyone attempting to normalize what happened in Charlottesville by believing that all sides are truly to blame for the provocation of violence.

This is normal for our country. White Nationalism and White Supremacy are deeply ingrained in our culture. If you are a woman and you are trying to justify the violence by spreading the misinformed belief (peddled largely by the alt-right and its ilk) that somehow Antifa or BLM are racist organizations you should certainly read some of what these men write about you. Wehuntedthemamoth.com is a good place to start.

 

Racial violence has been perpetuated not only on people of color but their allies and friends as well. Homophobic beliefs are also part and parcel of these peoples agenda, so if you have any gay friends, they could be, have been and possibly will be targets of this hatred as well.

 

Oh and if you have any African American, Jewish, Latino or Arab friends or relatives, they hate not only them, but you as well because, by mere association, you are a race traitor and belong in the ovens with the rest of us.

 

I understand you feel that you’ve been victimized, marginalized and ignored. Instead of believing that you are the only ones and that your “people” don’t receive a fair shake, do some research, talk to anyone who has experienced an ism’ first hand and try to commiserate with your own experience. Again, if you are a woman, you should understand the feeling of being constantly on edge in certain situations and men’s eyes on you and the clear and present threat of sexual violence many of you have come to know firsthand.

 

These men have much the same mentality of privilege with people of color and individuals who are LGBTQ as they take with your body and your sexuality. The double standard applied to women’s sexuality the assumption that if you behave a certain way and dress a certain way or just are, is very similar to the assumption that because of the color of your skin or who you love, you are innately inferior.

 

The left/right dichotomy is a false one. It is nothing but a smokescreen to obscure the truth that anyone who, as their core belief, feels superior to others for some cultural, ethnic or racial reason will see the other is subhuman and therefore as you’d put an animal down, so they would a member of that group too.

 

We need to stop lying to each other and ourselves and realize that the strain of violence that is rising in this country has its roots in the belief that a group of people are culturally or racially superior to another group. We also need to stop lying to ourselves that this violence has not been at the very least been ignored and in many cases encouraged by a president whose ideological underpinnings are loose at best, as the wind blows at most. We need to stop lying to ourselves that our words and actions have nothing to do with the words and actions of others and we need to stop lying to ourselves that they and we are not a part of the same indoctrinate culture.

 

This is going to get worse, much, much worse before it gets better.

The Con / Try

Edited on 8/11 for comma exploitation and a sentence of clarification.

 

Geekly (and confessional) Stuff Ahead: You Have Been Forewarned!

For the past few years (5 maybe 6?) I’ve attended the local fandom convention.

The first year it was a revelation, the kids and the smattering of adults, formed a community of people gathered primarily because of a love for Anime, Sci Fi, Horror and Video Games and secondarily because we were all misfits. All consigned to a bin that contained every aspect of what we found appealing, a bin that was often, in wider circles was left on the curb, rejected by even the garbage man.

Those first years were strange and beautiful, full of unexpected camaraderie and kid-in-a-candy-store glee. One year an impromptu dance party in front of the sword vendor broke out, and I witnessed one of those rare moments of perfect chaos. As Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”  played through a boom box the vendor set up a crowd of cosplayers, mashing together various weird and wonderful takes on genres, gyrated, stumbled and displayed many different levels of dexterity, and no one stood in judgment.

There was an unabashed sense of joy in that, dancing like no one was watching, and that entire weekend was that, joyful. It was the apex of that experience.

In the last few years, some moments came close, seeing George Takei, watching Nana Visitor and Michael Dorn banter on about DS9, listening to Dorn talk about flying with the Blue Angels…but nothing as sublime as an impromptu outbreak of dance. That moment expressed the joy of being surrounded by a bunch of weirdos where I felt I belonged.

In subsequent years the Con has gotten bigger, expanded beyond the confines of the convention center, tried various configurations and scheduling arrangements and failed or succeeded at all. But it just isn’t the same anymore.

Perhaps I’ve just grown out of it, or maybe my life circumstances have changed enough to warrant feeling a bit too old for the proceedings. Maybe it changed, or maybe as many relationships do, we’ve grown apart. Maybe we just need some distance, a break perhaps.

I love the idea of being surrounded by people who may have only one voluntary thing in common, but that thing is so compelling that it ties them together as no involuntary thing can. I love that because we are all geeks of some sort, we find ourselves, regardless of age or any other factor, able to dress like someone or something that doesn’t exist. I love that people who would otherwise be feeling very much alone, get to feel a part of a group of people who often feel the same.

This year lacked something though; it lacked my attention. I was elsewhere for a large part of the Con, I didn’t want to be fully there, and that translated to me not being fully present. I was lost in some internal drama that was largely of my making.

Which leads me to the next thought.

I am not the best communicator in my personal life. I have realized that in many of my closest relationships I retreat into a state of CYA (cover your ass). It stems from a few things that I’ve been born into but it comes from a distinct place of fear. Fear of missing out, fear of making people angry with me, fear of abandonment and fear of being unlovable. All of these swirl and combine with all the bad stuff I’ve let myself become to make for a terrible mix sometimes.

I wait until the last-minute to avoid the confrontation I bring on myself. I have a hard time being honest about being frank with myself and therefore others, and I sometimes confuse the right thing with the best thing to do in any given situation. Sometimes I know what exactly none of that means.

I’m trying to be honest now. Honesty isn’t just telling the truth of the moment but telling the truth period. Not trying to play one off another and not trying to be everyone’s friend, not lying about my foreknowledge of things and then hoping they’ll not work out as shittily as I know they will.

My enjoyment of my life, the Con, my loved ones and myself are at stake. Honestly, I don’t know what else to do but try.

On Approval

Edited on 8/8 for glaringly obvious typos.

Have we just become a bunch of approval seeking heroin rats? Are we so wrapped up in other people’s lives that we forget to have our own? Why are we so able to share the intimate details of our lives with relative strangers on Social Media yet can barely look each other in the eye on the street.

We are so focused on getting our opinions across and our relationships “approved” that sometimes we forget the reasons we have relationships and beliefs in the first place. I love the people in my life, and I love to share them with my wider circle of friends but not at the expense of my relationships with them. I’d much rather have a relationship than the appearance of one.

Through trial and loads of error, I’ve learned that there are some pretty standard principals for governing yourself, and your image, online. I try my best to adhere to them as closely as life and occasional emotional upheavals, allow. Use what you find useful, discard what you don’t.

Love and Relationships:

If you want to share a happy moment, please do so, you shouldn’t have to worry about who’s watching, but if your “sharing” is covering up a flaw in your relationship, or worse, causing one, promptly stop. I have someone in my life currently whom I adore, no pictures of us exist online together. Not to say that they never will, but for the moment we are not on social media as a couple. This is a mutual choice. It is one that not only protects our relationship, but also our relationships with the rest of the world as individuals. Friends who know us as a couple see the hints, others just see us as people.

Politics, Loss and Assorted Other Opinions:

I’ve contemplated leaving, Facebook, in particular, sometimes, usually when the loud opinions of a few people drown out he animal videos, kitten pictures and real life cries for help from people I care about that need answering.

When someone loses someone they love, or a national event requires a collective sense of empathy that platform is a wonderful way to feel cared for and a bit less lonely, it’s no substitute for real arms and real tears, but it is a comfort.

When we suffer depression or a disease, this format is a perfect place to feel less alone in that, but it isn’t a replacement for a real ear or a real shoulder.

When the needs of a few people to be the center of attention crowd out the compassion (in my feed it’s not usually my friends, but THIER friends who do this), I seriously think of cutting the cord. Life is too short, don’t worry about other people’s happiness unless you intend on sharing it. And if you plan on sharing, do so with an understanding of the potential consequences, try to be gentle. People will be looking from the outside in, exes and friends who disagree with you. Unless you are passive aggressively trying to sever those connections, be understanding of how they feel or make it explicit that there will be something following that might hurt or offend. In other words, try to play as fair as you can.

Reactions to all of the Above:

Life is also too short to worry about people’s petty hatred. Sometimes the most reasonable argument can seem like a torch to a powder keg, or the slightest mention of a new relationship can be (of course) painful, but that is the cost of keeping oneself out on social media.

Don’t let anyone else’s fears and anger get you down and don’t believe that every single smiling face doesn’t have its share of pain.

Ultimately we present the face we want the world to see, in my case I’m living the vast majority of my life offline now. Life isn’t perfect, but it is damn good.

Bring On the Whiny Liberals

Edited on 8/3 for horrible misspellings.

I like reserving judgment in all but the worst circumstances. Artistic endeavors especially require a delicate and deliberate middle of the road approach.

Watching Jericho, for example. I knew of the shows obvious right of center bent, and it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of it one bit. I didn’t feel that it was shoving any ideology down my throat, even when the Republic of Texas was the hero figure, because the story was so engrossing and the acting (save Mr. Ulrich who was at best passable, at worst incomprehensibly ticky) was great. despite or maybe because of his well-known conservatism I love Gerald McRaney, he reminds me fondly of my ex’s dad, and that association humanizes him beyond a political label.

Lately, though, many of my fellow lefties have become so amazingly, insufferably, annoyingly reflexive, that I sometimes feel the need for a new language because the Liberal tag seems more and more like a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head than a badge of reasonable honor.

The reaction to the proposed alternate reality show “Confederate” is one example of an illiberal dousing of a completely fascinating premise (what if the North and South fought to a stalemate and slavery became a institutional part of half our American identity).

This show could be an amazingly rich and disturbing look through “what if” allegory at how little we’ve progressed about race in this country. Of course, it wouldn’t treat racism kindly, what we know about human bondage now would inform the narrative, shape the dialog and create a space for allegory that could be so deeply mined.

Not if the whiny among us have their way.

Let me retreat a bit…

Charles Murray
Milo Yiannopoulos

Usually, I wouldn’t put these two people in the same post, nor think about them in the same context, one is a beleaguered but respected researcher the other a provocateur “journalist” who’s contradictions are so legion he’s incredibly hard to take seriously. Both, however, are proving to be unmistakable examples of actual liberal fascism. Yep, I said it.

There used to be a rule in more liberal circles, and honestly just civil society, that said that regardless of how outrageous and sensational what you had to say was, it should be at least heard.

So, okay, that part is bullshit.

That time never fully existed.

There were fights in Congress, speakers were shouted down, and crowds never behaved in ways we think they did, but my view as a Progressive, Lefty, Liberal etc. et.al. whatever has been that as open-minded individuals who are ideologically inclined to share equally heart and head and argue passionately yet logically would allow even the most heinous speaker his or her due platform.

How we can claim to be liberal-minded and not accept the difference of opinions of other without reading their books or hearing them out astounds me. I am guilty of this as much as anyone else. I have often made opinions of things that had no basis in fact, I have allowed the crowd to determine my feelings about a book or a film without ever having seen it, I have held biases against people I do not know and would never condescend to know, I have been judgmental and prejudiced in my assessment of cultures I have not tried to understand.

I’m sympathetic to people from other countries but not to those living in the borders of my own. I am guilty of feeling like people who live in the “flyover states” are backward and inherently racist.

Some of these things may be, and probably are, true, but why are the assignments made before the exposure? Do they assume that my educated black ass feels somehow superior to them? And why, in some cases are they right. Yes, deep-seated racial, sexual, cultural and regional dynamics play a role and make these biases and divisions a deeper crevasse, than they otherwise would be. I know the history of division and the use of racial tropes that the powers that be have always used to fracture bonds that make more sense than not. But why do either of us pre-define each other before ever setting foot on the same ground?

I firmly disagree ideologically with many folks on the right, vehemently, but why? I got sucked into the Manosphere and still subscribe to the mailing lists of at least three of the sites I’d frequented years ago. I look for dynamics that define the person behind the words and recognize that even in Mein Kampf there is something to be learned about struggle, oppression and the view of them through the distorted and diseased lesions over jaundiced eyes, but up until recently I’d never read it. Same, to a lesser degree, with The Bell Curve, which I am reading (albeit slowly) now.

I’ve slammed the book and its author(s) before without really having heard their story. I assumed its purpose was not to advocate, in a traditionally conservative way, for the restructuring or abolishment of academic inclusion policies and social welfare programs, but that it was arguing similarly to my other example, that one “race” is superior or inferior to another and therefore did not deserve help, let alone inclusion.

When you meet someone or hear their voice, they are humanized, by default. Our brains have reactions to certain characteristics in meeting people on a playing field we recognize. Hearing Mr. Murray speak on Sam Harris’ Waking Up podcast was eye-opening in this respect. Although I don’t agree with the conclusions and still feel that the onus and political motivations played a part in the furor, the man seems far from the racist bogeyman he’s been portrayed as. I encourage you to listen to the entire podcast with an open mind and feel free to disagree with the premise and the conclusions but do not miss the salient points made in the margins. The end of the conversation when Murray’s latest book is touched upon is especially relevant and enlightening.

Through the wearing of ideological labels, we have cut ourselves off from opposing opinions and the facts they are based upon. As a good friend of mine told me on a recent visit, he no longer discusses politics with many friends because it’s all about the way you look at things and where you are. So why should it not be about learning where THEY are from and how THEY look at things? Who THEY are.

Yes, there are things that I find unacceptable, that will never penetrate my liberal defenses. Having a protective shin of ideology isn’t always a bad thing. My liberalism doesn’t let baseless claims about superiority and inferiority get through. But it does let me consider uncomfortable propositions. It does not let me lose sight of the fact that behind every label we put on ourselves and each other we are still human beings with a lifetime of experiences that make us who we are. My Liberal underpinnings are both shield and filter in these ways.

Hiding behind a moniker, an ideology that denies you hearing anything you might otherwise let through the filter sitting across the table from another human being is one, Liberal or Conservative, that does no one any good.

Disavowing the artistic creation of a show about a timeline gone awry is the same as crying foul when a female comics editor posts an innocuous picture because the SJWs have taken over everything. Illiberal behavior is illiberal behavior, even when and especially if, it comes out of the mouth or hand of someone claiming to be Liberal.

We can have a plethora of ideas about a plethora of opinions in a way that allows us to see the world from a different perspective. Not allowing a person to speak, or trying to force a show not to air even before the words have been read or the show has been produced is a dangerous form of thought control. It is being practiced not just on the radical right but on the left as well, and it’s sad in either case. It’s more than sad; it’s dangerously fascist.

 

 

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