There are no cookies for meeting minimum standards. Just sayin’…
There are no cookies for meeting minimum standards. Just sayin’…
On Saturday, Cliff Bleszinski, creator of games such as Gears of War, went off on a rant about actress Olivia Munn. Among his complaints, he leveled the charge that Olivia Munn is a fake geek girl who is engaging in cultural appropriation of nerd culture.
Folks, Olivia Munn is a bad person. She is the embodiment of appropriating nerd culture and using it for her gain. Don’t trust her.
— Cliff Bleszinski (@therealcliffyb) March 12, 2016
My immediate thoughts on the subject can only be summed up in meme form:
It’s hard exactly to sum up just how Olivia Munn is appropriating nerd culture, seeing as CliffyB didn’t bother actually going into detail other than to rant about her being an asshole and making the usual “your anger only makes me stronger” posts that people seem to think proves that they’re not bothered by the response.
Fuck you and your dumb college catchphrase. Xo https://t.co/mXuT4ThRqw
— Cliff Bleszinski (@therealcliffyb) March 13, 2016
But while there’s a certain amount of irony in CliffyB calling people hipsters for using phrases like “gatekeeping” while slinging terms like “cultural appropriation”, it’s a charge that gets thrown around regularly without irony (usually by people who think using “SJW language” is a magic spell) at women who have the temerity to claim to be geeks or to like geeky properties.
A number of my readers and followers on Facebook and Twitter have been posting about the “covert” plans by self-proclaimed masculinity guru and begrudging-ass-wiper RooshV to hold secret meetings across the world for the readers of his blog Return of Kings on Saturday, February 6th and wanting to either spread the word and what I thought about the whole thing.
And to be perfectly honest: I don’t think much of it at all.
Don’t get me wrong: I think Roosh is a racist, misogynistic scumbag who dreams of elaborate revenge fantasies on the women who’ve wronged him. His supposedly Swiftian proposal1 of legalizing rape on public property is par for the course for someone whose Red-Pill-wanna-be pick-up manuals talk about the time he got a woman so drunk that she couldn’t resist when he decided to fuck her. His site caters to the sort of person who thinks that emotional abuse is an ideal part of maintaining a relationship and that one should only date women with low self-esteem because then they’ll never leave you.
But honestly? I think people are overestimating the impact of his supposed world-wide “I-Really-Wish-I-Were-Tyler-Durden-Because-I-Missed-The-Point-Of-Fight-Club” rally.
To start with: it’s pretty much a sad trombone of a joke. Not that I think it’s a prank – although I certainly wouldn’t put it past Roosh to try to pretend he’s got a Xanatos gambit running – but because the whole thing is like watching a couple of ten year olds playing secret agent. With supposedly “secret” meeting places that you can only access by a) being a heterosexual, cisgendered male of a certain age and b) knowing the seeeeeeekrit passphrase (which is openly broadcast on a public website), it’s like the world’s saddest LARP as dudes pretend that they’re actually part of an underground society that’s fighting back against an oppressive force that… makes them trim their nails and clean their buttholes, I guess. They’re looking for any opportunity to claim victimhood and pretend to be under assault from an Illuminati-like army of feminists armed with hair dye and wet-wipes. The Hellfire Club it ain’t.
(I will now pause for the inevitable claim of “Ha ha you fools, you fell for my cunning plan; the real event was elsewhere, now don’t you feel silly?” which is almost inevitable and we can all pretend to believe him.)
While I’m sure that some of his true believers will show up looking for Roosh’s pet shop (which I think should now be a phrase that means “scratching one’s itchy butthole”), I don’t think it’s going to be a massive gang of rape-apologists looking to get beers before psyching themselves up at their seeeeekriet meetings before going out to harass women who’re just trying to have a drink in peace. If you get more than a double-handful world wide (aside from the various organized protests… more on that in a second) , I’ll be vaguely impressed that this many people had that much time on their hands and nothing better to do.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should ignore it or make the usual statements of “don’t give them the attention, that’s what they want”. I think attention should be paid. I think it’s worth noting that these events are planned. I really don’t buy the argument that bringing more attention to RooshV and his brand of rape apologia and hate/fear of women benefits him the way that people often think. It really doesn’t matter whether people ignore him or call him out because he’s going to try to spin it as though it were his master plan all along and his fans will act as though he’s a brilliant tactician instead of a grown-up saying “I meant to do that”. RooshV’s a circus clown who desperately wants people to think that he’s a ringleader.
But more to the point: Roosh’s grandiose proclamations and childishly byzantine arrangements all work against him. Not only are people pointing and laughing – an appropriate response, in my opinion – but it’s leading to more and more people being aware of who he is and what he stands for. That, in turn, means that more people are standing in opposition. Already, mayors across Canada are making official statements that Roosh and his disgusting views are unwelcome in their cities while the Australian government has stated that he will never be granted a visa to enter the country. It’s a little hard to make a speaking tour and sell your self-aggrandizing rape-manuals when entire countries are telling you to piss off.
It has also lead to several organized protests, including ones in Montreal, Las Vegas, Chicago and Washington, which encourage others to be aware that these attitudes exist and for more people to stand up against it. In fact, I rather suspect that the counter-events are going to be louder and larger than the mutual-backslapping society that Roosh is trying to throw together, which is as it should be. The more people – men especially – who tell him and his fellow travelers that they and their bullshit are unwelcome, the better. I think shining a light on them and making people aware that this is still a thing and still has an audience is a net benefit to the rest of the world.
Frankly, I think Roosh’s rallies are going to have all the impact of a wet fart and all of the smell. I think the best thing we can all do is point and laugh before getting back to creating a world where his brand of rape advocacy, disgust for women and contempt for his fellow men is further marginalized.
Now with that being said: Roosh has his fans, and those fans are loud and aggressively hate women. It’s easy for me as a guy to not see them as a threat, especially when they get together into would-be mobs, because I don’t live with the very real risks that women face on a daily basis. I think that women are entirely justified to feel threatened when a bunch of dudes with chips on their shoulders towards women and a belief that consent is something that happens for other people show up in numbers to psyche one another up about how bad-ass they really are. Be safe, watch out for each other if you’re in the area of the meetings and take care of yourselves.
So everyone ready for another hot take on 50 Shades?
As I mentioned last week, I went to a press screening for 50 Shades of Grey to do a review with the Unusual Suspects at OneOfUs.net. Spoiler alert: it bored the ever-loving piss out of me. But while the movie toned down the more obvious rape-y aspects of the book, there was one section that stood out as an example of the movie normalizing what is at best creepy behavior and at worst, a prime example of a movie trivializing and normalizing rapey behavior as romantic.
And that would be the bar scene at the beginning.
To set the stage:Anastasia and her roommate and her Jacob-expy Nice Guy friend are at a bar, partying down and generally acting like college students. Ana, after a few shots, drunk-dials Christian Grey and basically tells him off for being a creeper. All well and good.
Christian, his vulnerable-coed-senses tingling, demands to know where she is and insists he’s coming to get her.
It’s worth pointing out: he has, at this point, met her exactly twice. Once at one of the most laughably awkward interviews ever and once taking her for coffee. After one not-date, he’s already so possessive of her that he feels entitled to give her orders and to come get her when she does something he disapproves of.
Also: he does so without her telling him where she is. So he has, by inference, used the influence of his technological conglomerate to stalk a college student to her EXACT LOCATION. Beyond a flagrant misuse of company resources and likely violating any number of privacy laws – this is the sort of thing the NSA likes to pretend it doesn’t do – this is supposed to be an indication of how much he cares for her.
You know. The college student he met twice.
Anyway. This is all stuff that’s been covered to death and isn’t the part that bothered me (relatively speaking). No, what bothers me the most is what came afterward.
See, Anastasia is puking-on-the-sidewalk, passing-out drunk. It’s very clearly the point where someone needs to pour her into a cab and send her home, which none of her friends are doing. Instead, the Jacob expy – who for the purposes of this commentary shall be Captain NiceGuy – has decided to make his move, trying to slide into Drunk Ana’s DM’s like “yah”.
This is – rightly – portrayed as supremely creepy. Dude’s trying to take advantage of the fact that Ana’s incapacitated. Cool, I’m with you thus far, movie. Good on you for making him out to be a creeper. But then they go and ruin it by letting Christian Grey be even creepier. Christian, having stalked her to the bar, now assaults Captain NiceGuy for the crime of… well, basically trying to claim Christian’s property while Ana sits by, passively. It’s like watching two dogs having a pissing contest over a particularly drunk fire hydrant.
So having rescued her from creepy guy, Christian decides he needs to take care of her and make sure she’s safe. Now he doesn’t take her to her roommate and say “hey, Anastasia’s doing badly, you should take her home.” In fact, Christian has specifically brought his brother along as his wingman to the bar and uses him to distract Ana’s friends.
Nor does he take her home himself, something he could easily have done; he can find her at a random bar in Vancouver, he can find her apartment, tuck her into bed, turn her on her side to make sure she doesn’t aspirate on her own vomit and leave some OJ and Advil1 on the nightstand.
No, he takes her back to his hotel room.
Here’s the part that bothers me: nobody objects to this.
The fact that Christian Grey brings an unconscious woman back to his room is completely unremarked upon by anyone. He carried Anastasia – who is dead to the world – through the front door, past the front desk, through the lobby and into the elevator. And nobody, not the doorman, not the staff, not the guests, nobody said a damn thing about it.
Now in any place, people would notice this shit. This is not something you expect to see in a hotel lobby. In the real world, people would react to this; there would be comments, there would be whispers and pointing, people would be coming up to know if she was OK, folks would be filming it to be put on YouTube alternately laughing at the drunk coed or overlaying it with “Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong”. And that’s for a normal, unknown person. Not a wealthy billionaire. Not someone who’s paparazzi bait.
Let’s be clear here: Christian Grey is the richest man in the Pacific Northwest. He’s no recluse – he’s, at the very least, Richard Branson-level famous. People know who he is and what he looks like. He’s notorious for having never had a publicly acknowledged relationship with anyone. And here he is, bringing an unconscious college student back to his room like he’s bringing back a pizza.
In any other world, this would be huge. TMZ and Perez Hilton would lose their everloving shit over this. Jezebel would have at least three articles in the span of 15 minutes going over grainy YouTube footage. Newspapers would be hounding Grey Industry’s PR team for comments. This would be trending on Twitter. Facebook would be flooded with people sharing the cameraphone snaps. There would be constant comparisons to Retaeh Parsons and Stubenville.
But not in this movie. In this movie, a rich, powerful man taking an unconscious young girl back to his room, undressing her and sleeping in the same bed with her is sweet. It’s romantic. It shows how much he cares for her. This isn’t taking advantage of someone who’s incapacitated by alcohol, this is the beginnings of TRUE LOVE. And somehow everyone in town recognizes this and discretely gives the happy couple their privacy because yeah. Even Ana’s friends don’t care that Anastasia disappeared from the bar without a word.
I want to point out: when other students at Stubenville were asked about the sexual assault, they insisted they didn’t even know it was rape. She didn’t say no. She wasn’t struggling. She was just being manhandled like a side of beef by the popular kids.
Like Anastasia Steele. Being dragged around by Christian Grey.
It’s such a minor thing, compared to all the more overt abuse that Christian pulls… but it’s all the more insidious because of it.
So I’ve been enjoying the *hell* out of The Flash lately except for one thing: Iris Allen. Her character is screen death; every time she’s around, everything comes to a screeching halt.
The problem is: it’s not her fault, it’s the writers. Rather like Laurel Lance in the first two seasons of Arrow, she has Lois Lane syndrome. Her (like Laurel and Lois) entire character arc is based around being ignorant of events that literally everyone else in her life is aware of.
It’s bullshit artificial tension – the hero has to lead a double life and can’t let the woman he loves know because reasons. Except there really isn’t a plausible reason for this; it’s not as though law enforcement agents have to hide their identities from their family and spouses. There may be aspects of their jobs they can’t talk about (ongoing investigations, etc) but it’s not as though they’re required to live double lives.
(An exception would be people involved in government-sponsored espionage, but that’s a completely different beast from law-enforcement or superheroism)
The problem with this artificial tension is that it makes it literally impossible to do anything with Iris (or Laurel or Lois or…) because anything that moves the overall plot along is counter to her individual arc of ignorance. Everything has to stop when she’s around in order to maintain her personal status-quo. As a result, we end up with increasingly implausible “reasons” as to why she doesn’t realize what’s going on, forcing her to be a static, unpleasant and frankly stupid character. We end up with a Skylar White situation, where you get a character who is continually complaining about what we, the audience, see as minor annoyances in the life of someone who has much greater responsibilities.
But when you look at it from her perspective, these concerns are incredibly valid. This person she supposedly loves and trusts is acting weird, treating her with disrespect and feeding her increasingly obvious bullshit. But from our perspective, it seems small and petty at best. She’s a roadblock in his life.
And then to add insult to injury, to keep the drama going, they have to introduce a competing love interest for her. But of course, she can’t completely give up on Barry or Olly or Clark, so… we get to see her Friend Zone our hero instead, making us like her EVEN LESS.
Yes, the Friend Zone doesn’t exist, etc. But this seemingly callous treatment becomes one more strike against her as a character, making us dislike her even more. And again: all of her behavior makes perfect sense from her perspective. We’re being taught to hate her for acting in a manner that would be completely reasonable and understandable from anyone else.
It gets even more galling when you realize that literally everyone who knows – and this usually ends up being everyone in her immediate orbit – is actively lying to her. Everyone she’s supposed to trust has gotten caught up in a conspiracy to keep her ignorant. As a result, we get a character who we’re supposed to root for, to want to see get together with our hero but who we’re being trained to actively dislike.
This is even more galling when you realize that Joe Allen (or John Diggle or Pete Olson) gets to know but Iris doesn’t.
Why, exactly? Joe knowing Barry’s secret doesn’t make him any more of a target than Iris knowing would. Hell, Joe not knowing Barry’s secret puts him in more danger. He’s already out there having to fight supervillains that cops simply can’t stop. Knowing about Barry means that he now has resources that the rest of the Central City PD doesn’t. But Joe’s not the love interest. He’s allowed to be a partner right from the start and prove his value to Barry. Iris (or Laurel or Lois) doesn’t get to until she’s swallowed enough shit and proven to Barry (or Olly or Clark) that she can be trusted. Only then does she get to be a partner instead of a hinderance.
And the irritiating thing is, it’s so very stupid. It’s a lack of imagination. Making the love interest a full partner right off the bat makes for a much better interaction and doesn’t affect the drama at all. Look at The Shadow. Look atSandman Mystery Theater. Shit, look at The Thin Man.
Say what you will about Man of Steel, at least they gave Lois enough credit as an investigative reporter to figure out Superman’s secret identity right of the bat.
It’s an irritating, vestigal trope from the early days of comics and we can’t seem to get rid of it in our fiction.