Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Monday, September 21, 2020
Examining J.K. Rowling's views is a good way to understand how to live in a world filled with hatred.
Since Sony had a splashy PlayStation 5 showcase event, and a long rumored video game called Hogwart's Legacy debuted, I decided that I wanted to take a look at the author that has made the most money from writing that the world has ever seen, i.e., J.K. Rowling. Specifically, I wanted to catalogue her transgender hatred/mental meltdown for myself regarding trans people, just so I could wrap my head around her nutso stance a bit (and maybe establish a timeline). And it honestly seems appropriate since Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and the United States is about to become Gilead from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. So why not look at hatred? It doth seem to be everywhere these days. If you want to take this journey with me, well just read on, friend. Aren't you the lucky one :)?
First off, Rowling positioned herself as a progressive on representation. Okay, then. Do as I say, not as I do, right? For the record, this is not a new thing. There are lots of people who want to establish themselves as progressive so that they can cash in on the liberal money making machine and appease Hollywood types. Honestly, maybe the worst thing about the modern world is that we overshare and over "know" to much about people.
Back in 2007, the original Harry Potter universe ended with Deathly Hallows. Dumbledore absolutely had no signs of being gay in the books. Then she retconned her way to this by announcing that Dumbledore was gay. I guess that is sort of inclusive, right? I honestly don't know what to make of that, and still don't. Okay then.
In 2016, Rowling published The History of Magic in North America by stereotyping Native Americans by associating them with a history of animal and plant magic. I guess Europeans were the only ones smart enough to make wands. It seems kind of shallow to me. Later she writes that wizards who came to America fleeing the authorities ran into the "friendly native" stereotype. That's nice. And then she appropriated the whole skin walker thing so that she could make villains, not really being respectful of Native American beliefs and traditions regarding these things.
In 2019, Rowling supported Maya Forstater, whose contract position at the Centre for Global Development was not renewed after she used offensive and hateful language against transgender people on social media.
In 2020, Rowling penned a huge essay about her reasons for speaking out on sex and gender issues, and it's long, and a lot of it doesn't make sense to me. You can read it HERE. She espouses debunked lies about the existence of transgender people and supports fellow bigots who she claims have been "canceled" for their beliefs. Okay, then.
Now (present) she's released a book under the pen name Robert Galbraith that perpetuates the stereotype that transwomen are men disguising themselves to prey on cisgender women.
Oh well, I (for one) believe that most of the people in this world are terrible. So I'm particularly suited to not be bothered by a person's art despite the fact that the person who created it sucks. I also don't think that cancel culture really works, because (again) there are too many terrible people. We can't get people to wear masks during a pandemic. Do we really think we can crush the bottom line of Chick-Fil-A? They're doing just fine. So is J.K. Rowling, with her billion dollar empire.
So I'll continue to appreciate the Harry Potter things. I'll still love David Eddings' Belgariad despite the fact that I know he and Leigh Eddings were child abusers, were sent to prison for a year because of it, and then went on to write some lovely novels that I think are amazing.
Will I still watch Woody Allen movies? Yup. Do I still think Gone With the Wind is a book worthy of a Pulitzer Prize? It sure is. Evil, evil, everywhere. Running from it or trying to cancel it is useless. I think learning to live with it is the best that we can do, like living with climate change. It's here and it's upon us and nobody cares. So living with it seems like the only option.
And thus I raise a glass to you, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You are gone and now evil will take your place far an entire generation, and there's not a damn thing me or anyone else who thinks like me can do about it. Salut. My arms are too short to punch god. We will try to learn to live with all the evil that's coming down the pipe, and take the victories we can until they no longer matter (because at that point I'd imagine we'd be in Civil War). It's not a thing I want, but I can see it coming on the horizon. To twist a Chinese proverb just a little bit for all our benefit, I wish every single one of us lived in less interesting times.
Friday, September 18, 2020
Dennis Villeneuve makes good movies. Now, he's bringing Dune to life in a two-part movie adaptation, and I really love it. Dune is a seminal work that has influenced a hundred things that came after it, whether it be Star Wars, Warhammer 40,000, or Robotech. Many of the things that we like in our nerd niches owe a bow here and there to Dune. It even influenced some of my early writing. I remember drafting a novel in college and sharing pages with my critique group. One of them (who went by J.C.) was very critical because I used a Dune-like intro to each of my chapters explaining this or that before the actual text started. J.C. hated that. "It works for Dune, but it doesn't work here. Cut it out." And so I did.
I can't explain for others why Dune is so cool. On paper, the majority of it takes place on a desert planet with no features at all except for sand dunes and some big earth worms. But for me, I've always enjoyed desert adventures and desert things, similar to an early childhood fascination with ancient Egypt. And Dune as a work seems to strike all of those archeology Indiana Jones-esque buttons that make my imagination light on fire. Of course, added to the mix is a kind of magic, both in the form of the Spice Melange and with the orders of the Bene Gesserit, the Mentats, and characters like Doctor Yueh with his Suk training to make sure he is completely loyal (which obviously means that he must be the bad guy, right?) No one makes mention of a wall that is insurmountable in a story if they don't fully intend to make it tumble down at some point.
Another thing that really draws me into the story is being in Paul's head. Honestly, even though he's the Atreides heir and very educated, he knows next to nothing about how the universe works. He also has a relatively solid moral compass, and it's easy inhabiting his thoughts. It is because he knows nothing though that makes the book so good. You learn as he learns, you figure out things as he seems to be figuring them out whether it be the Gom Jabbar or seeing a sand worm for the first time or interacting with the space-faring guild or a Harkonnen. The fact that Herbert had these things in his head is pretty incredible, and he sets the table for his story extremely well by immersing us in political backstabbing theater of the highest order, and then providing us with a protagonist that is not only sympathetic, but has the ability to call upon superhuman powers due to his breeding.
And then of course there is the Spice itself. This thing is as unknowable as The Force is for Star Wars, which is probably where Lucas got the idea to be honest. The Fremen have been around the Spice all of their lives, but they don't know everything that it can do. And layers just keep getting added to those who use the Spice in different ways. In some sense, it is this thing that the author could add a power to later on down the road if they so desired, just saying, "the Spice caused this unknown mutation and it resulted in this and voila...a new thing happened." It's a useful trick for anyone crafting a story, and it keeps the Miracle Exemptions that one requires a reader to absorb to a manageable level so as to maintain the suspension of disbelief.
Anyway, I'm so looking forward to seeing this adaptation of Dune. This is a movie that I will risk going to theaters to see even if Covid is raging the countryside. If you are unfamiliar with the remake or haven't seen the trailer, I'm placing it below.
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
I'm re-reading the Dragonlance books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I usually don't go back and re-read things, but nostalgia for the past and seeking out things that provide comfort seem to be the norm during 2020. So why shouldn't I indulge just a little bit? Truthfully though, it has been about thirty or so years since I last read these books, so I'd forgotten just about everything except the biggest plot details and the names of one or two characters (at most). Additionally, I don't think I appreciated the work and creative talent that went into the Dragonlance storyline when I was a teen. But now that I'm much older, I see that they are (in fact) works of great brilliance.
If you don't know, the Dragonlance books are based on a tabletop roleplaying game called Dungeons & Dragons. Now D&D is an incredibly fun game, but it is also really goofy. I like to tell people that a session is kind of like participating in some really bad improv. D&D is a hodgepodge of all the fantasy tropes. It is a huge mixing bowl filled with everything from Oni to hobgoblins to wizards to dragons to gods and to minotaurs. It pulls from every culture indiscriminately, and in many cases, it is the granddaddy of the term "cultural appropriation." You can have ki-rin in the same game session as you have a pyramid based on ancient Egypt. You can have kung-fu in the same story as Gandalf and Sauron. The words "one of these things is not like the other" does not apply to Dungeons and Dragons. Yet, somehow, with all of these goofy potentials, Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis pulled off something remarkable: a beautiful story in a world (Krynn) that essentially has all of these elements and somehow manages to take them seriously and give them respect. That is no small feat.
I half expected to hate these books on a re-read, and find them utterly unreadable. Instead, I'm marveling at how well the authors negotiate the different character classes and manage to integrate the monsters as well as pay homage to a lot of what makes the game of Dungeons and Dragons fun to play. It's all there, down to the spells that Raistlin Majere casts (taken from the Player's Handbook) and to the abilities that several of the characters in the story manifest. The clerics feel like D&D clerics and the equipment they use feels very much akin to how leveling feels like when I play this game. It's a fascinating thing, and yes, they manage to make it just as high fantasy and feel just as epic as anything that Tolkien wrote in The Lord of the Rings.
Honestly, I'm enjoying this re-read quite a bit. In a post Game of Thrones world, I would love to see Dragonlance turned into a high quality movie. The story is definitely there, as are the characters. They are as well-developed as anything that was turned out by George R.R. Martin. I've heard that there are some legal issues to making this kind of thing a reality. However, if it happens in my lifetime, I will gladly give the ones that bring it to the movies a fistful of cash.
My one complaint is that there are no good hardcover editions of the individual Dragonlance books that I can purchase for my shelves. Of course there are electronic books, audiobooks, and special edition omnibuses (which I hate because they are so unwieldy). Omnibus editions really should be restricted to either electronic book or audiobook format. Who wants to try and balance a huge hardcover book in their hands? Not I. And I found some weird overpriced handmade editions on Etsy (how is that even legal?) I didn't buy one...it was just a curiosity and way too expensive.
Anyone else out there a fan of Dragonlance? Are you giving them a re-read or are you reading them for the first time? If it's been a while, but you have a favorite character, please let me know in the comments. I think my favorite character is Tasslehoff Burrfoot. I didn't use to like him, but in this re-read, I can see how brilliant the character is, and it's easily the funnest one, pulling the whole party into his adventures. Plus, the way he sees the world is just too special.
Monday, September 14, 2020
I watched Raised By Wolves this weekend. I thought it was good, but definitely more of a "watch this one time" thing and not something that I'd ever consider re-watching. For one, even though it has this rather high concept science fiction premise--a schism between religious people and atheists results in an apocalyptic nuclear war that renders Earth a smoking ruin--the "on location" filming feels very small with a hut being a central location and then a desert as another. Like...I feel it was filmed very cheaply...that it could literally be filmed in Utah because how much does a mud hut run these days?
Even the costuming is sparse with the religious people dressed like Dungeons & Dragons clerics in white robes with stars on their chests (they worship Sol), and with the children dressed in rags and with the androids wearing onesie neoprene suits. And that never changes, so yeah...wardrobing seems...easy? What do I know of filming? But Prometheus this is not, even if the android designs come straight out of the Alien-verse with the white milk being the android blood and the organs on the inside of the Android being bulbous plastic things surrounded my more milk. As a side note--I always wondered why the androids in the Alien-verse had white milk flowing through them aside from "it looks gross," which may be the entire intent behind the design.
There's also this whole "atheists" had a war with "zealots" thing, which seems like a heavy-handed modern commentary that smacks of Fox News's decades long "War on Christmas" segment that you see about every October through December. It's not that I don't appreciate the allegory, but I'm also rather tired of it. Like...it's a dead horse that has been beaten over and over by conservative media pundits and as far as I know...it's baseless. However, this doesn't mean that Raised By Wolves is about Christians. For some reason, the Earth people followed Sol or worshiped Sol, and there seemed to be a lot of unity about the religion as a whole, which also strikes me as odd since there are hundreds of religions on Earth. Yet the one that built the "Arks" (a biblical term that has nothing to do with any being called Sol) is the one with all of the religious people worshiping the same deity, and there were no other religions that apparently escaped Earth's destruction.
So the premise of the show is that humans are at the edge of extinction, unless I've misinterpreted something. The androids of the show are programmed to raise children to be atheists and to create an atheist society to "prevent the war that destroyed the parental civilization." Okay then. But the kids all want to start praying, which is a thing I'm not sure I understand but...okay. And then the religious people on the ark who arrive at this same planet are not morally good. They take things by force from those who can't stop them, they arrived with a rapist who impregnated underage girls while they were in stasis, and they are led by a person referred to as "your eminence" who makes his zealot followers carry him through the desert of this alien planet on a palanquin. They literally have no food, very little water, and it's a sand desert, and they have to carry this guy around like he's some kind of emperor. Like...what the hell? Oh, and you also find out that they created the superhuman android raising the children who destroys the ark...she's called a necromancer...and she apparently has powers that are similar to Superman. Like...the religious people on Earth created these "necromancers" to kill atheists in droves. They're basically god-like in their power. However, they don't worship these god-like necromancers. Rather, they worship a thing called Sol, which (from what I've observed) can do nothing for them. It's just really weird.
Ridley Scott seems to be stuck on asking these questions about the relationship between a creator and their creation. It is an interesting question, but it seems to be getting kind of old. We saw this in Prometheus as Elizabeth Shaw lost her faith when she came face to face with (presumably) the Engineers who created the human race (there are no definitive answers to this question, but it's my hot take). There is also the strong suggestion in Prometheus that the reason the Engineers were going to wipe out the human race with the black goo bombs is because they killed one of the Engineers two-thousand years ago, putting the timeline at about the same period when Jesus Christ would have walked the Earth. So maybe, Jesus was an Engineer? Again, this question is not answered by Scott, and he's probably too afraid to answer it truthfully at the risk of insulting influential Christians and having his career ruined. So instead, we get ambiguousness.
Well, we get this kind of thing again in Raised by Wolves. We have humans and androids doing this kind of "creation" dance. It ultimately comes to a head when the religious people realize that it is one of their own creations that they cannot deal with that is on this planet. Furthermore, it is this self-same creation that will be their complete undoing unless they can find some manner to deal with "superman" with nothing but rocks and sticks.
In the end, Raised by Wolves is more a show that is entertaining for those who like to watch survival porn. In other words, there's a Bear Grylls kind of fascination to watching humans struggle and overcome challenges when forced to live on a deserted alien planet with hostile life forms and an inhospitable environment. But once you get past the whole "Naked and Afraid" appeal of the thing, the five episodes I watched simply traveled between a mud hut in a desert to the actual deep desert with real sand dunes where they find a huge pentagonal-shaped rock. The "eminence" figure of the religious order of Sol proclaims the thing as being "intelligently designed." Well, he dies shortly after when he's set on fire by a heat wave from the object and someone else fills his place as "the eminence." Then they pack up and leave the object. They never gain entrance to it, nothing is ever explained about it, they don't find food or water there. They just go, find it, pray before it (and are warmed by it when the night is cold), and then travel back the way they came through the desert to go and find the androids raising kids in a mud hut again. And that's pretty much it. They just wander through the desert like Moses did when he left Pharoah.
Anyway, like I said earlier in all of this, it's not something I'd re-watch, but it did have entertaining moments.
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
An extreme weather event blew through Salt Lake City on Tuesday. The area effected was all the way to northern Utah, with winds reaching 100 miles per hour. On Saturday we were 100 degrees here. Now it's like forty degrees outside. I have always believed that humans are causing the climate to change incredibly fast, but these extreme weather events have even taken me (a natural pessimist and believer that humans are by and large terrible) by surprise. My neighbors to the far west in California are constantly on fire, our air here in Utah is always smoky (during the summer and fall) these days, and our summers are getting extremely hot. I think we had ten days in a row in July with temps over 100 degrees, and in some cases around 110. This. Isn't. Normal. This was the hottest summer Utah has ever experienced since records were kept. What makes it strange is that I believe, next year will also be the hottest summer Utah has ever experienced since records were kept. And so on and so forth. Wildfires explode with such intensity that they've created a new name for them. They call them "gigafires," because they burn down 1000 acres in just a few hours. This didn't used to happen.
Anyway, here are a few pictures from around the valley of things that happened due to the extreme wind storm. Tons of big trees fell in one of the parks not far from my house. However, nothing bad happened to my house. Just a ton of debris in the yard, and my two big planters on my porch that weigh probably 100 pounds each filled with wet soil and plants ended up on the sidewalk (yeah...the wind was that strong). As I'm writing this, there are 100,000 people out of power in the Salt Lake area. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones, especially since temps are plummeting. It's going to be in the low 20's in Park City tonight, which is only 15 miles from me. Again, we were 100 degrees just two days ago.
Friday, September 4, 2020
Ridley Scott is a great director. Even so, it's questionable whether he gets total creative control over his projects. Other directors who landed in the same boat are famous names like David Lynch, who calls his Dune adaptation done in the eighties as a great sadness in his life (because he was unable to realize his own vision of the book and had to bend to what the studio execs desired). The same can be said of Ridley, who started out with an Alien prequel series known as Prometheus and ended up having to film some hot garbage called Alien: Covenant, because the studio was cratering to fandom demand that the xenomorph be prominently featured.
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Yay! There's only four months left in 2020. This year has been the longest one in my living memory. At least we have the Insecure Writer's Support Group to share together online. Haven't heard about it? Well let me fix that right now. This is a copy/paste from their sign-up page which can be found right HERE.
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.
Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.
Remember, the question is optional!
Monday, August 31, 2020
A lot of people like Umbrella Academy. I am one of them. I started watching the second season of it on Netflix this weekend, and it occurred to me that there are a lot of shows out there that fill this niche. And by "this niche," I'm saying comic book movies with real characters that have problems and issues and are very flawed and relatable. So why then is the Umbrella Academy even good? Well, there are several reasons that make it a standout.
Friday, August 28, 2020
Every once in a while, I head over to Mondoshop and look at their new posters they have for sale. One of these days, when I come into monies, I'm going to buy a bunch of these and have them framed. But in lieu of that day, here are a bunch that I do like. Hey...I can always comfort myself knowing that while I struggle with money, at least the sleezebag Jerry Falwell gets a $10 million dollar payday for being actually fired from Liberty University. If I got fired from a place, I'd just get my last paycheck is all. Somedays, life just doesn't seem fair...or all the days really. Anyway...favorite posters.
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Monday, August 24, 2020
Based off the first trailer for the Batman I'm thinking Pattinson might actually be able to pull this off.
The trailer for The Batman dropped this weekend. I am more excited than I thought I was going to be. Dare I say that Pattinson might actually be able to pull this off? What do you guys think? I'm linking it below.
Friday, August 21, 2020
The United States taxpayer should be proud of the size of the national debt because we've all gotten a lot of something for nothing and it's never getting paid back.
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Monday, August 17, 2020
Christina Aguilera's song from Mulan is a beautiful ballad for paladins and a surprise for movie goers because its for a film that makes its debut on streaming.
Now that I've said that, I will also add that I deeply enjoy that some of the streaming services are doing an effort to put out quality products. Mulan by any means was an expensive film, and it's kind of shocking that it is debuting on streaming and not in a theater. I applaud those who made the decision to give us a bit of a treat while we are all stuck at home dealing with a worldwide pandemic. Below is a music video for a song called Loyal, Brave, True by the singer, Christina Aguilera. It dropped last week, and I listened to it and instantly liked it. Again, this kind of quality is super unexpected from a movie that is making its debut on home screens. Christina's voice is so rich and full and lovely, and I love the Asian-feel to her outfit. I suppose being half-Asian, I feel a kind of kinship with movies and television that pay a respectful homage to those ancient cultures.
Anyway, if you have the time and you haven't heard the song, you should give it a listen. My friend, Meg, said that Christina's voice reminds her a lot of how Cher used to be, with a rich and full and powerful voice that is full of soul. I've thought about that assessment, and I think it hits the mark. It's also a beautiful ballad for paladins (for any Dungeons & Dragons players out there).
Friday, August 14, 2020
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Brandon Sanderson just finished a kickstarter for a ten-year-old book that almost hit $7 million in funding.
Monday, August 10, 2020
Dark is a humorless slog of a show that nevertheless has good eye candy and is somewhat compelling to watch.
1) It's hard to care about the character's world because it is so small. I know that there is a town that the characters all live in, but there's maybe ten significant locations that just get used and reused by repeated visitations of the old, middle-aged, and young characters traveling through time.
2) The story is just a string of vignettes that are slammed together for essentially three seasons of television. Each vignette has two people talking in serious hushed tones, there is usually one if not both characters experiencing such strong emotions that they are on the verge of tears, and then there are lots of hugs. And it is this thing over and over and over again. As soon as one vignette ends, you zoom to another location and another time where two characters come together, discuss either how futile and frustrating the time loop is and how no one seems to understand anything about what's going on enough to find a clear direction, and there is always this momentary shock or realization heightened by dramatic music. Oh and the tears. There are always tears.
3) The plot is purposefully confusing and convoluted, so much so, that it actually feels like the showrunners are drawing the story out longer to make it more convoluted and impossible to figure anything out. By season three, you've got two separate worlds each with their own past, present, and future versions of the characters facing an apocalypse which you aren't quite sure would be necessarily bad if you could just get to an end or some kind of conclusion to a story arc. As I said earlier, the world is impossibly small because it is essentially ten significant locations repeated ad nauseum season after season.
4) The characters don't really eat. I've seen eating maybe once in three seasons. But they do smoke, have sex, talk in hushed desperate whispers, and feel the full gravity of their fates while trying to unravel the endless loop of the apocalyptic circumstance that has got them all trapped. There's some teen angst, suspicion, manipulation, but very little eating. It all seems very German, as many of their characters are quite easy on the eyes (so it does have that going for it).
5) Dark has no humor. There is no laughter and there are no jokes. It is one episode after another of intense stares, dramatic tear-filled eyes, pleas of conscience, serious discussions, and hugs.
Anyway, all that aside, I'm actually enjoying the show, because it is science fiction, and I am curious as to how it will all end. Are any of you watching it out there?
Friday, August 7, 2020
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
August 5 question - Quote: "Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don't write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be."
Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?
Friday, July 31, 2020
I read a fantasy that is just some Tolkien fan fiction published by Doubleday and once I got off my high horse I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
"When the stars were right, They could plunge from world to world through the sky; but when the stars were wrong, They could not live. But although They no longer lived, They would never really die. They all lay in stone houses in Their great city of R’lyeh, preserved by the spells of mighty Cthulhu for a glorious resurrection when the stars and the earth might once more be ready for Them. But at that time some force from outside must serve to liberate Their bodies. The spells that preserved Them intact likewise prevented Them from making an initial move, and They could only lie awake in the dark and think whilst uncounted millions of years rolled by. They knew all that was occurring in the universe, but Their mode of speech was transmitted thought. Even now They talked in Their tombs. When, after infinities of chaos, the first men came, the Great Old Ones spoke to the sensitive among them by moulding their dreams; for only thus could Their language reach the fleshly minds of mammals...
That cult would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth."
Monday, July 27, 2020
When I heard Olivia de Havilland passed this weekend I was astonished by the many things that had happened during her long lifetime.
|Olivia de Havilland in 2018. She was already 102. Wow!|
I don't come from the generation that was her intended audience. Far from it, Gone With The Wind was already forty years old by the time I saw it. When watching it for the first time, I was captivated by the great Hollywood beauty of Vivien Leigh, who was dead before I was even born. Vivien seized the screen in just about every role I ever saw her play, and I thought she was a greater beauty in her prime than Elizabeth Taylor, whom my parents spoke of in reverential tones when discussing film stars. I didn't originally think that Olivia de Havilland was pretty, but I realized once I'd grown older and understood things better, that this was intentional because the character of Melanie Wilkes is a bit of a milquetoast with none of the strength of the character, Scarlett O'Hara.
But even forty years after Gone With the Wind was released, the world was still a much slower place. I may work on a computer now, and I don't consider myself "old" by any means. However, I still remember having to turn a dial to change a television set and feeling fortunate that my television set could get channels 12 and 13, which showed a lot of Godzilla movies that I liked. The world was still slow enough that old stars from the forties were still household names, and entertainment didn't come at you from streaming sources that are so plentiful it's like taking a sip of water from a firehose.
I am kind of awed not only by the quality of de Havilland's life, but by the length and span of it. My mother was still a child when Olivia de Havilland was being filmed as Melanie Wilkes, and Ms. de Havilland outlived my mother by four years (and my mom was an old person when she died)! Her co-star Vivien Leigh, died in 1967. Ms. de Havilland outlived the famous Scarlett actress by more than five decades. I think that's rather incredible, and a tribute to good genetics, healthcare, and probably some luck to boot. In fact, she seemed so out of place in my mind when I realized that Olivia de Havilland was still alive (I think Liz told me about it a few years ago in a comment on my blog). Olivia was still alive in a world that had so completely transformed, seeing not only the rise of fascism in America (from Paris), but a worldwide pandemic, and a thousand other things. If anything, knowing this fact about this Hollywood legend was like contemplating an anachronism: a person who could have told you (until this weekend) of personal conversations with the likes of Judy Garland, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, and the list goes on and on.
Anyway, it's a fascinating thing to think on, this connectivity of the past to the present. I can't help that with her passing, there's a kind of Golden Age "Instagram" that has also left the world. A repository, if you will, of vignettes...candid moments...and personal revelations of other artists who left their work for us to appreciate, and who (in time) will be all but forgotten save for the lasting pieces of entertainment that we can watch, and hence appreciate the characters they portrayed.
Friday, July 24, 2020
|Image taken from Jezebel and this article that talks about the Having Conversations Industrial Complex|
Anyway, the "Having Conversations Industrial Complex" is defined as thus:
"A loose assemblage of professional speakers, non-profit organizations, astroturfed activists, diversity consultants, academic advisory boards, panelists, and politicians who are paid to generate a "conversation" that doesn't need to show tangible results. The only role is to generate more conversations while those on a frontline are injured, arrested, and labeled as "terrorists." The Having Conversations Industrial Complex pushes people and projects through a revolving door of empty promises, acting as agents of reformism."I want to be really clear when I say that a lot of people would like things to be different in our country. I also still think that conversations about how to resolve problems are necessary. However, action and work are hard for two reasons that I think are honest and very uncomfortable truths
The first is that a lot of Americans don't like to work. They like to sit back and point out things for other people to do. I'm not going to use the term lazy, but I've seen people unable to manage the decay in their own homes much less start a revolution or hold people accountable. And these aren't disabled people. Rather, they are entitled, and they just want to play all the time. They don't think they should have to get their hands dirty, because they never have had to do this in the past. I know lots of adults who run a car into the ground rather than do the maintenance to keep it going, who drive around with cracked windshields because they don't want to have to do the work to get it replaced (even if it is free because of insurance), and who don't want to clean up after themselves so they leave litter in public parks. These are the people who plague social media with what I call "Awareness porn." They try to make people "aware" of what's going on in the hopes that somebody will step up to do the work. It never occurs to them that the "somebody" is the person in the mirror.
The second uncomfortable truth is that many Americans are unaware of their lack of power. In the past, Americans could ask for something and they usually got it. Things were civil and parceled out, and wants and needs seemed to be addressed. That world is gone, but few know it yet. Faced with this reality that comes in the form of asking for things and being repeatedly traumatized by the words "No, you aren't going to get that, and I don't care how you feel about that!" many are just floundering like a gasping fish on a dock. I see the concept of "power" in modern America as a choice, but it is also binary. You either have it or you don't. If you don't have it, that's okay. But let's be honest and admit that we are helpless to affect change (for whatever reason). A person that taps out and says, "I'm not going to do the work to affect change" may not be what others (who desire change) want to hear, but I still think that's okay. You do you, and that kind of thing. It's like Eugene on The Walking Dead admitting to his cowardice (so shameful, right?), which was honest but true (I loved that character by the way). But sitting around creating work for others by making them "Aware" of the jobs that need doing and acting as a "supervisor" is (I don't think) very helpful other than to make you feel like you are doing something, when in fact you are doing nothing. Nobody asked for a supervisor, and yet there are millions of them on Facebook trying to make people "aware of the injustice." Honestly, you'd have to be blind to not see it. But I suppose they all feel like they are doing something. All I see is that they are doing nothing.
Going back to my discussion on "power is binary" in the previous paragraph, the reason I say that the concept of power in America is binary (and a choice) is because we all (technically) could flip the switch and say, "It's time to take this matter into our own hands." But what does this look like? Protesting? Yes, that's a part of it. Riots? That too. This is where violence comes in...revolution...civil war. Most people are unwilling to go there (as am I). And I think it's perfectly okay to want to just sit and do nothing and be honest about it. For me, I've adopted a strategy of realizing that the oppressors are going to continue the abuse and as I've chosen to do nothing other than peacefully vote and see if an election brings about change, I'm powerless to affect real and sudden change. Therefore, I will adjust my life accordingly and try to build a life as best as I can around the continuing abuses going on around me. I think that's okay too.
When there's no choice but to live in the swamp, one does their best to at least pick out the areas that will cause the least distress, right? However, there's some strange narcissism and shaming that is happening with the people who are engaged in "Awareness Porn." As I stated earlier, they are actually doing nothing, but they feel like they are doing something. And that feeling that they are doing something, is making some of them "shame" those who are honest about doing nothing and very transparent about it. They can do this, because they think that they are doing something. "I'm out here working so why aren't you?" But from my perspective I'm like, "Uh...you haven't done real work in ten years. Let's be honest, here." In other words, on paper, the two individuals are doing the same thing. They are both doing "nothing" only one is sharing posts on Facebook waiting for "someone" to do "something" because they can't be bothered to do anything about the injustice they are pointing out...and the other is watching Netflix. Personally, I think the one watching Netflix is making the wiser choice, and it's overall better for the person's mental health.
It is for these two reasons that bringing about actual change is really hard, and why all of us just take our turn on the revolving carousel labeled with "The Having Conversations Industrial Complex." How long has our society been talking about sexual assault? The 1970's? What about racism? a hundred years? We live in a polarized country. People chant "we need justice," but what does that look like in a democracy where everyone's opinion of justice is different? Let's also be honest about one other thing: revolution isn't happening in any form that I see. But if I'm wrong (which does happen), it will result in a violent civil war that will shake out far worse for minorities than the current status quo (in all likelihood). That's just how I see it.
Liberals on my Facebook feed are tough talkers. "The time for talking is over!" and "This is unacceptable!" with nothing to back it up. Why? Power is binary and they have chosen to absolve themselves of doing the work that needs to be done, and that's okay. I've made that choice too. I'm a pretty non-revolutionary person by nature, so I'm not advocating throwing up the barricades. I also am skeptical of people whose rhetoric seems to demand a military (or paramilitary, or revolutionary terrorist) campaign who make no effort to actually prepare or train or back up their rhetoric in any way. Does anyone seriously think that progressives would win a civil conflict? I don't. So strongly worded diatribes are gonna have to suffice, while the oppressors repeatedly oppress and ignore boundaries. This is what happens when consequences for actions are absent.
So what is left? I think it is summed up in this message that I got from twitter that was retweeted thousands of times:
"A Woman of a Certain Age (user) wrote: 'I just broke down sobbing. I have never done this before. I think I am at my limit. How much more corruption, collusion, racketeering, conspiracy, treason, abuse of power, bribery, embezzlement must we take before someone does something? I don't want to live here any longer.'And that's just the thing: "...before someone does something?" Not me...just...someone. It's America in a nutshell once again pointing out the terrible and then passing the buck. This is why many of us are screwed.