This month? Goddamn ridiculous. Not in any kind of tragic way, just there is no time, not ever, not happening. Back next week.
Because Shit For Which I Judge You, Personal Relations Subcategory would be a whole book, and let’s not even get into SFWIJY: Personal Grooming. (Chapter 7: Wearing Toe-Delineating Jogging Shoes Anywhere But Jogging).
I’ve been meaning to write this ever since the whole “Joker” thing came out, but really I’ve been thinking about it for a while.
Because on the one hand, I absolutely agree that there are no “guilty pleasures” in reading or watching TV, people can like problematic things without being horrible themselves, and anything you like is a valid thing to like…about 90% of the time.
Back when I was on OKC, any guy with Ayn Rand or Richard Dawkins in his “favorite reads” profile was an automatic nope. That’s easier–that’s nonfiction, and obnoxious nonfiction. Thing is, Catcher in the Rye or Fight Club would also get the pre-smartphone equivalent of a left swipe, despite the fact that a couple of my friends really like both of those things and are not horrible people. Here’s why:
Where fiction is concerned, I don’t judge what you like, because any work of fiction is a complex ball of different elements and so is any given person. When I was ten or so, I was really, embarrassingly into Gone With the Wind, basically because I was a dumb white girl and the book had a lot of descriptions of really pretty dresses and being the prettiest girl ever. Now, thinking back, I still think it contains nuggets of sadly wasted potential–the psychological effects of going through a major war at sixteen, no matter how justified that war was, how much ruthlessness is required to protect yourself and family, the hidden depths of “soft” people under pressure, the way misunderstandings and just being stupid get in the way of relationships, the propensity to love someone for what they represent that’s gone rather than who they are–but they’re buried in a hip-deep layer of racism and a slightly more shallow one of sexism, and I’m not going to advise anyone to start wading through that. Kipling? Racist as all fuck, and also there’s that poem where he spends a verse insulting his son and son’s wife for choosing not to have kids, but there’s still a lot of his work that speaks to me. How to Be A Fan of Problematic Things: it’s a whole subject, other people have covered it.
And even when you can’t put a name on what you like, sometimes a work–well-written or not–just pushes your buttons. Romance is full of things that do not work in real life, or that readers absolutely would not want in real life, that just push people’s buttons. YKIOK, and you don’t have to explain it.
You do kind of have to label it as such, though, and that’s where the judgment comes in. Someone who likes Wuthering Heights might have a thousand different reasons for it–admiring the writing style, liking to watch the train wreck, finding the portrayal of women and class interesting, having encountered it at a time in their life they’re nostalgic about, and yes, even It Is Fucked Up But Heathcliff Gives Me Pantsfeels. Someone who legit thinks it’s a wonderful story of deathless romance, on the other hand, is someone I’m going to avoid, especially if they’re over 25, because they have some ideas about romance that will make me want to scream until I shatter glass. “I dig Catcher in the Rye because it’s an interesting portrayal of an unreliable narrator,” doesn’t say anything about you, but “Holden Caufield is a sympathetic character and a voice of truth for our age,” does, and none of it’s good. You can like Lovecraft, and I do, but thinking the man had a point about all those swarthy foreigners is not okay.
Human nature is human nature. If I know you, I’m more likely to assume you have non-fucked-up reasons for liking what you like, and, to be honest, if I don’t know you I’m going to go by demographics when deciding whether to give you the benefit of the doubt or not. There aren’t nearly as many POC, women, or LGBT folks who think Tyler Durden has a point as there are white cishet guys who do. I’m sure there are people in those other categories (especially white cis women, OMG, we’re awful) who defend mass shooters and incels because Well They Were Picked On So You Just Have to Understaaaaand their Paaaaaain, but most of that bullshit I’ve heard has come from white men. For that matter, I’d have been way less skeptical about “Joker” as a whole if the director had been Taika Waititi or Patty Jenkins rather than Bropants McDudeface.
Sidebar: when I say “skeptical about,” I don’t mean “I think everyone who watches this is an incipient serial killer” or “theaters should refuse to show it” or any of the other slippery-slope ridiculousness that the Reddit Crowd tends to yell about. I haven’t seen anyone say or imply that. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, it’s a big Internet, but what I tended to see was:
Person: “Ugh, no thanks. If I wanted to hear mediocre whiteboys whine, I’d save my $20 and hit 4Chan.”/”Really, DC? Read the room much?”/”…fuck no.”
Forty-Seven Twitter People With Anime Avatars: “ZOMG CENSORSHIP FREEZE PEACH DON’T JUDGE BY THE TRAILERS EVEN THOUGH THAT IS LITERALLY THE REASON TRAILERS EXIST FIRST AMENDMENT!”
Aaaanyhow. Like what you like. It’s fine. But if what you like has massive problems–and not just “all your faves are problematic,” which is true, but real Yikestastic works–maybe be prepared to, or pre-emptively, explain your reasons, or at least indicate that you recognize the Yikes!ness.
And don’t like Ayn Rand. There’s never a good reason to like Ayn Rand.
So my computer wanted to strike out on its own, independent of bourgois concepts like “charging its battery”. The Man couldn’t keep it down! More specifically, I couldn’t keep it powered up. I am, in many ways, not unlike The Man.
Due to a series of events involving an equally rebellious refurbished Chromebook and my general tendency toward procrastination, that was the computer I had.
I’m now waiting on a replacement. Meanwhile, the Richards Memorial Library in North Attleboro is a lovely place to do my day job and some other writing, but a) I don’t want to tax their goodwill too hard by just occupying a computer all day, interrupted only by lunch and going up, Oliver Twist-like, to request more time on my session, and b) this requires putting on pants. Fuck pants.
As a result, no post this week. My hope is that next week the situation will be rectified, and I can triumphantly return in either More Drunk History: Aleister Crowley Part 3: Seriously With This Asshole, or Things I Do and Do Not Judge You For: Media Edition.
One: I write romance, obviously. I read romance. It’s a major part of why I buy Bioware games. Obviously it’s a plot I like–but more than half the romance subplots in non-genre films are like sand in my underwear. They don’t need to be there, and they kind of make everything in their vicinity more irritating.
Like Ocean’s Eleven: first of all, Danny, leave your ex-wife alone. She filed the papers. She’s moved on. If she wants to get in touch, she’ll let you know. Second, dating your ex doesn’t make Bennett a bad person. Apparently he is for other reasons, but, what, is a divorced woman just supposed to join a nunnery? Third, Tess, leaving him because he said he’d leave you if he got the money back–it’s hundreds of millions of dollars, and it’s not his, so I feel like that’s not an unreasonable decision, albeit the way he and Danny phrased it was icky as hell and I’d dump them both for that. Fourth, I don’t have time to watch Clooney and Roberts sit and stare at each other in the middle of an otherwise-awesome heist film. Ugh. At least they made Tess part of the con.
Two: The Tarot of Cocktails exists, and I need to buy it. Half the reason for cocktails is to give them weird thematic names, and this is a good set.
Three: Finished Season 2 of Mindhunter. Bill Tench might be my role model, honestly. Jim Barney isn’t bad either. Basically, I like anyone who tells Holden to shut up, because Jon Groff is the hotness, but the character’s interaction with other people is sixty percent saying things the wrong way at the wrong time, twenty percent insisting that he doesn’t need tact because he’s right, and maaaaybe the other twenty being a person. Basically, he’s the heroic version of the guys with anime avatars on Twitter, and I want to slap him in just about every episode this season. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT FOR LIKE FIVE MINUTES DUDE MAYBE CONSIDER IT SOME FUCKING TIME.
Props to John Douglas for being secure enough to let the character obviously based on him be an arrogant little twerp, and props to the show for having everyone around Ford call him on that. My “nobody non-obnoxious is named Holden” score is 2/0, for any future parents considering names.
I doubt that’s Actual French. I do have Actual Butterscotch Liqueur in my tea, which is what matters, and I’m going to explain the hell out of the Tarot one last time!
(Sort of. I’m prone to occult ramblings, so this will probably not be my last post on the theme. I’m thinking of a couple more already, though they’re book-adjacent, credit to Sara Greer for the idea.)
So here we are at the top two Wands cards, which are interesting studies in contrast in the simplified version. Things of fire, like passion and inspiration, aren’t really phenomena you associate with settled growth or rulership–or maybe they’re just not phenomena I associate with it, which says a fair bit about my personal life. There’s a reason it’s New Relationship Energy, right?
(This is also true of air, by the way, and now that I think about it, it might be one of the reasons higher Swords cards tend to be negative. Freedom and being settled are pretty opposed; gaining some amount of knowledge and power can be good, but once you have it and are trying to hold onto it, shit can get real tricky real fast.)
This is where the other Fire aspects come in. Relationships are one, sure, and established emotional bonds can be a steadying factor when the initial passion–of whatever sort–fades, keeping various situations ongoing. But screw this human connection thing and all its feelings, let’s talk about will and go quasi-Nietzsche. And then let’s not, because that guy was a dickhead who gets quoted by other, dickheadier, less hygienic dickheads.
All the same, while holding That Guy and his goatee as far away from me as possible with a pointy stick, I would argue that will is a pretty damn vital part of most situations and their results. (Versions of That Guy who want to argue about the existence of free will are welcome to…not…and also to jump in any convenient lake.) Willpower is one of the key components of magic; will is vital for any contract, and (fucking ideally) in any human relationship.
The Queen of Wands–see, I was getting back here, and you doubted me–is someone who’s found what the Page was learning about and the Knight was looking for, and has then made the choice to stop looking and develop one or more aspects of that. She represents the beginning of applying will to passion, inspiration, or relationships: practice, study, research, actually hanging out regularly with a person or people.
More specific interpretations include boldness, connection, expression, and determination. It’s about knowing what you want and how to get it, and bending your will to that end.
The card, naturally, shows a queen with a wand, dressed in fire colors. Most decks have her sitting on a throne, often with lions as the armrests and above her and a cat in front, but some show her standing and holding a wand because the lady is Vigorous. The background’s pretty much always desert-y.
The King of Wands is, of course, in the same desert. He doesn’t get a cat if he’s sitting, though there is a lizard wandering around–probably a salamander, for fire–and a single lion above the throne. Like the Queen, he’s sometimes standing, because this is a suit about energy and purpose and not lounging around.
This guy gets shit done.
Sometimes he gets it done himself. Sometimes he inspires or directs other people to get on the fucking ball already. If he’s on his own, then what he does makes others sit up, take notice, say “oooh,” and maybe try to get on board or do similar things. (Now I’m thinking that the Kings may also be “suit as it can influence the reactions of other people” and I kind of want to go back and take a look at that, fucking hell, this is the sort of thing that happens with the Tarot.) He’s a leader even when he doesn’t mean to be.
Because he’s Wands, we’re generally talking moderately-short-term, fairly straightforward actions rather than complicated plans (Swords), or works that will take decades to complete (Pentacles). That’s not always the case, and both “short term” and “straightforward” are relative as fuck, as far as meanings go.
Generally, though, this is someone goal-oriented, as we say on bullshit resumes. Whether that’s good or bad depends on what the goal is, and where you stand in relation to it.
And with that, we end Drunk Tarot. Tune in next time for Izzy and Valium Mess Around With Ouija Boards.
Probably not really.
I’m prepping for a LARP and thus not writing, so have some links. Texting-themed, because why not?
textsfromsuperheroes.com: if you’re even peripherally aware of comics/superheroes, this is Good Times.
Texts From Dog: Good Times regardless of who you are.
Texts From Fight Club: Part of the Toast’s excellent Texts From Series–which is now a book, also–this pretty much is all you need to know about a) Tyler Durden and b) pretty much every cishet white dude who lists “Fight Club” as a favorite in his dating profile.
Crime TV, true or otherwise, and specifically the sort focused on serial killers: Can we discuss naming?
Because it was one thing when it was:
1) Criminal Minds, the series that, over a teenage amount of seasons, progressed from if-not-ripped-from-the-headlines-at-least-inspired-by-real-cases plots to the SVU-style throwing of darts at a board until a high enough body count and/or freakish enough MO was achieved, plus got rid of the Agent with the Jawline, so what is even the point not that I’m bitter.
2) Inside the Criminal Mind, which is really Baby’s First True Crime Show, like, it feels it has to explain the homicidal triad plus it recaps every case afterwards like it’s coming back from commercial despite being a Netflix original, *plus* it really, really loves the stock footage and the establishing shots. WE KNOW WHAT CALIFORNIA LOOKS LIKE, ItCM, JEEEZ.
(If you want a less-basic but still murdery true crime thing, the UK’s “Encounters with Evil” has been good, despite/partly because of the fact that they got the Vincent Priciest narrator they could find. Like, I sort of suspect the audition involved asking people how many “e”s were in “evil” and anyone who said fewer than five was sent home. Also, “When a killer comes calling, there’s often no escape,” is the intro tag line, and damn.)
But! Now we have:
1) Manhunt: Unabomber, the dramatization of a true story wherein the first season was the Unabomber and I tagged right out midway through E2, after the third “but what if Kaczynski, like, has a pooooint about computers, maaaaaan,” from Detective Bearderson. He lives in a cabin, showers once a year, and KILLS PEOPLE WITH MAIL BOMBS, you twit, he’s not the Visionary for Our Age. (I think the second season’s going to be the Olympic Park bombing, and since that asshole was a forced-birther who was also “protesting global socialism,” I hope to God the writers don’t go within ten miles of the But What If the Killer Has a Point, Though? trope.)
2) Manhunt UK (edited because I originally had it as Mindhunt UK, YOU SEE MY POINT), which I haven’t seen and involves the guy from Doc Martin, and is apparently *also* based off a true story. It sounds pretty interesting and I might check it out, and is apparently in no way associated with Manhunt Colon Unabomber.
3) Mindhunter, the pretty neat history-of-profiling show with a John Douglas stand-in who is UNBELIEVABLY ANNOYING in his personal relationships, like, when his S1 girlfriend cheated on him my reaction was “about goddamn time,” but is also very cute and gets naked a lot, which mitigates considerably in my book. Also there’s a montage of diners.
4) Mindhunter, the book #3 was based on, which is completely nonfiction, and quite good if you like true crime, and contains no John Douglas nudity at all. (Which is…probably good? Although Wiki suggests he was a looker in the day.)
5) MindhunterS, which is a movie about FBI agents being trained with AR, and of course it All Goes Horribly Wrong.
6) Manhunter, the movie based on Red Dragon before they did Red Dragon, the movie based on Red Dragon, which was the first movie featuring Hannibal, central character of the book and movie and series Hannibal.
I’m going to need you, as a genre, to take a break from titles involving “Mind,” “Man,” “Hunt,” and “Criminal,” or at least issue a coherent identification chart. Because this is way more taxonomy than my Netflixing should require.