This will be the 50th post made on this blog, which is a nice and even number. Combine that with the fact that I’ve run low on inspiration (which is good, don’t get me wrong – it means that I’ve successfully minimised my contact with loathsome people of all stripes), it seems appropriate for it to also be the last, at least for a while. No doubt the world will find new ways of pissing all over me, but for now, I feel I have adequately expressed just how it does so and why it is wrong to do it.
So what’s the thought I should end with? How to sum it all up? Well, how about this: I really miss being able to do good.
Now, I know what you’re saying – but Baeraad, aren’t you the best person in the entire world and without any flaws? Isn’t that what you’ve been insisting for fifty posts now? And, well, yes, obviously that is true. But I didn’t say that I missed being good. I said I missed doing good, which is another thing entirely.
See, being a good person is something that can happen in a vacuum (albeit with some difficulty – I’ll get to that). You can just sit on a chair and be a good person all you want. But if you are in fact a good person, you will also have the urge to do some good in the world. You will naturally desire to champion some good causes, helping some good people. And for that, the world needs to cooperate a little. It needs to offer up some causes for you to champion and people for you to help that are actually good – or at least, that are sufficiently good that you by aiding and abetting them aren’t actively making it easier for them to hurt others. You need, at a minimum, a world where there is such a thing as people who aren’t either smug, loathsome, bullying scum or the enablers and apologists for the same.
So you see my problem here.
If I wanted to fight for what’s right – and I do – then where should I start? Should I whiteknight some feminists so that they can bash nerds and shame autistssome more? Should I stand up for free speech, when that speech is usually “women are CUUUUUUNTS and black people are MOOOOROOOONS”? Whatever I do, whatever I argue for, some asshole is going to come along and pervert it. What possible cause is there, what group of people can I possibly try to help, that isn’t ultimately going to be co-opted by either screeching hysterical feminists or moronic dick-waving louts?
None and nothing. Every single person except me is competing for who can be the most malicious and hurtful – who can piss the longest and hottest on the weak and helpless. No, I refuse to help any of them. They are awful and make the world worse, and if I helped them I’d be contributing to making the world worse.
And the really horrible thing is, since I am unable to do any good, my goodness is a sterile thing at best, entirely academic at worst. I know from experience that when I’ve seen something that seemed good and right, I always tried to help it along, and therefore I know that I was good at least at some point in the past. But these days, I could be a horrible selfish sociopath, and I’d never know the difference – because the situation that would trigger my goodness and thus prove its existence never occurs anymore. Perhaps my do-gooder muscles have atrophied – how would I know? A man living on a desert island can not be either good or bad, because his life – involving as it does no interaction with other human beings – lacks all moral significance. Likewise, a man living in a society full of nothing but scum can not be good, because who would he be good to?
Another thing that annoys me with feminists is that they keep telling people to be horrible in politically correct ways.
I mean, to start with there’s the sheer awe-inspiring mental disconnect in genuinely believing that horrible people care what feminists (or anyone else) think. Just how far up your own ass do you have to be to just blithely assume that bad people are dying for you to tell them how to be bad in a proper, progressive way? I mean, I think very highly of my own opinions and moral insights, and I genuinely think that everyone would be better off if they listened to me first and foremost, but I’m still aware that be that as it may, no one else does in fact give a crap what I think.
It makes a certain amount of sense in certain select areas, I guess. If you’re reading a comicbook about brightly coloured heroes fighting ludicrous villains, you don’t want to be hit in the face with RAPE RAPE RAPE all the time. It’s just not what you signed up for. If we can imagine a world where putting on primary-coloured spandex and fighting theatrical duels across the rooftops is a common reaction to getting superpowers (and, for that matter, where people getting superpowers is a thing that happens), we can also imagine that such a world has an underpinning of unspoken chivalry whereby even the evilest villains won’t stoop to petty abuses that makes the reader feel bad, but sticks to great and glorious abuses that makes the reader feel good.
But if you are dead set on something feeling real – and I wish you wouldn’t be set dead set on everything feeling real, because reality is awful and flights of fancy are so much nicer, but never mind, apparently the world has collectively gotten together and decided that everything has to be GRIM and GRITTY all the freaking time – then it’s going to be ugly, and you don’t get to choose what kinds of ugliness is going to be in there. It’s going to be all of them, okay? Or at least all the ones that the creator can think of.
You could make an argument that selective ugliness is still a problem. Like, if the author has his female characters raped all the freaking time because of REALISM!!!, but his male characters are all prancing around having glorious adventures because they’re so big and manly? Yeah, I might agree that if so you have some cause for complaint. But then you don’t get to complain about how triggered you are by, for example, Game of Thrones, which is commendably equal-opportunity in having bad things happen to absolutely everyone. Women get raped more? Sure, but men get crippled and castrated more. Isn’t equality grand? Either stop watching or stop whining!
(honestly, GoT is the perfect example of what I’m talking about – the very first episode showed a woman raped and a child crippled for life, and you’d think that that would have made everyone get the idea, but half a dozen seasons later, people are still clutching their pearls about how bad things happen to people on this show. I can understand having delicate sensibilities and not wanting to see bad things happening to people, but then stop watching this show!All pain you can walk away from is self-inflicted. But no, no, no, apparently a sizeable group of supposed fans are absolutely certain that they should be able to have only the clean, wholesome sort of wallowing in blood-soaked medieval history and that the showrunners’ failure to give them that and only that constitutes a despicable betrayal)
But the whole fictional aspect is nothing. What really bothers me is that feminists are genuinely, explicitly and unapologetically demanding politically correct villainy in real life, too.
No, really, don’t take my word for it. Go and ask one! Go up to a feminist and ask her, “in your opinion, are acts of misogyny, homophobia, racism, etc, etc, more heinous and more important to deal with than acts of more general, non-specific douchebaggery?” She will say yes. I mean, she won’t just say yes, in fact you’ll get a whole lecture on why some douchebag being mean to someone Because Vagina is a clear and present danger to all that is good and right in the world, whereas the same douchebag being mean to someone out of normal, healthy sadism is a non-issue, a minor annoyance, something we might deal with at some unspecified point in the future once we’ve achieved our feminist utopia. And if you weren’t very, very careful in how you phrased your question, she will also accuse you of trying to sabotage her valiant struggle by wasting her time and energy with your stupid questions.
I can not fully express my disgust for this mindset. It shouldn’t be possible to be this self-serving and still convince yourself (and the entire rest of the world besides) that you still hold the moral high ground – and yet, here we are. Feminists are literally and explicitly saying that crimes against me don’t matter. They are literally and explicitly saying that I can be beaten, broken, spat on and stomped into the ground, and it is, at worst, a minor shame – because I’m not being hurt Because Vagina, and that makes it irrelevant. And of course, it very conveniently means that the feminists themselves have free reign to do any stomping they personally feel like – after all, they’re certainly not stomping Because Vagina, and that means that they’re not mean and cruel, just wonderfully outspoken and delightfully snarky.
No. NO. This is not acceptable. My pain matters. My pain matters a whole freaking lot. Anyone who says otherwise is scum.
Think about what this means, for God’s sakes – just think about it! That feminist utopia that it’s soooooo important that we all strive towards? It’s a place where everyone is every bit as much of a selfish sociopath as today, where the strong walk all over the weak like today, where people fear and stave and stuffer as much as today – but oh, no one is BIGOTED about it, and that makes it okay. Is that what you want? Is that a world you think is worth fighting for? No? Then STOP SUPPORTING FEMINISTS!
Oh, it drives me up the wall. Especially since the feminists won’t even get their damn stupid dog-eat-dog paradise where they finally get to join the alpha males in pissing down on all of us subhumans. You know why alpha males are in charge in the first place? Because they’re good at thriving in a dog-eat-dog world. Any woman who wants to join them doesn’t need more whiny blog posts, she needs learn to destroy her own capacity for human emotion, learn to love working twenty-hour days and learn to treat every other person she meets as a potential competitor. Those things do not normally come natural to women, and that’s why the alpha males are going to keep on doing all the pissing around here until we finally get around to making that kind of hyper-effective sociopathy unacceptable! Women will have equality when the world stops rewarding douchebaggery, and not before – but tell that to the feminists, who love and admire the douchebags and just can’t understand why the feeling isn’t mutual.
But I don’t want to concern troll too much. Let’s say I’m wrong. Let’s say that if feminists just act like absolute psychotic excuses for human beings enough, it really will lead to a brave new world where girls beat up boys on the playground, gang violence is half female and there’s an exactly 50% chance that the person who just moved your job to a Third World country is a woman. Does that make it good? Does that make it right? Does that make feminists any different from the “I got mine, fuck you” conservative types beyond the fact that they’re still in the planning stages – “first I’m going to get mine, then fuck you”?
No. This is not liberalism. Liberalism is about being nice and wanting no one to suffer. It’s not about being an asshole with a couple of arbitrary limitations to your assholery. It’s not about only wanting the right people to suffer for the right reasons. Feminists aren’t liberals, they’re the close relations to those most loathsome of creatures, the libertarians – wanting the world to be a place of all-out war, but with rules in place that ensures that they can make the most of their strengths but their enemies can’t exploit their weaknesses.
Why does no one else see how absolutely twisted and wrong this is? How does a huge group of people go around saying, “in the name of niceness, you must let me be as mean as I want to be” and no one calls them out on it? How did we get a world where politically correct villainy was the ideal?
Not everyone who jumps on the feminist bandwagon is made the worse for it. For some people it’s more of a… lateral move.
Take Rich Burlow, who has spent the last fifteen years drawing a D&D-inspired webcomic called Order of the Stick. It’s funny, exciting, often clever (though not as clever as Burlow thinks it is) and always colourful. It has also, in its entire run, never had a single female character of prominence who hasn’t been either stupid, evil, insane or some combination thereof. While I would never suggest that feminism should be used as the cure for anything, I’d be the last to deny that Burlow has needed some kind of clue-by-four to the face for ages now.
Alas, the closest thing to a clue-by-four we have these days is feminism, which tends to be a cure worse than the disease. It was therefore with mixed feelings that I noted that Burlow had apparently been struck by it. Quoth he, in the author commentary of his latest bloated monstrosity of an album:
In this way, Tarquin is also symbolic of an older time when stories were likely to be more formulaic or cliched – and less diverse. It’s no accident that he’s a wealthy old straight white man losing his marblesover the fact that the tale he’s experiencing doesn’t focus on the other straight white man at the expense of the black man, the woman, the genderqueer person, and even the Latino guest star. By rejecting his insistance that he take the lead, Elan is also saying that no, it’s OK for not every story to have a blonde white guy in the lead. It’s OK for them to be the supporting character sometimes. They can still be part of the overall tapestry of the narrative, and sometimes maybe they’ll get great focus episodes. (Like this one!) As an author who is, himself, a straight white guy, it’s difficult for me to always make a statement on the experiences of other demographic groups without running the risk of talking out my ass. But I can make a statement about what I think we, the straight white men of the world, should be doing. And that’s for us to recognise that it’s not always about us, and that it doesn’t make us weak just because someone else is the hero for a while. I’m sure the Tarquins of the real world will read this paragraph and lose their own marbles over it, but I don’t see any point in writing if I can’t express my own views.
God, no one is as self-righteous as a convert! Accept that it’s not about me? When did I ever – EVER – have the luxury of thinking that anything was about me? My whole life has been one long lesson in how much no one cares about me or what I think! I’m not the one who’s sitting on a forum dedicated to my personal awesomeness with scores of fans kissing my ass every day! Aaaarrggggghhh!!!
And yes, I’m freaking “losing my marbles” over that paragraph, because it’s the sort of bragging-over-how-humble-I’m-being garbage that gets on my last nerve! You know who brags over how humble they are? Arrogant asshats! Those of us who have actually been humbled by life are too busy fighting for every scrap of self-esteem we can get hold of to pat ourselves on the back for how bravely we’re shitting all over everyone in our own category. But sure, I guess that makes me one of “the Tarquins of the real world” – I mean, I seem to have lost track of all that money, power and respect that us Tarquins are supposed to have, but I must have it somewhere, because the idea of a straight white guy not having those things is just preposterous!
And you know what? I never had any trouble identifying with Roy. He’s the stodgy law-and-order type, that’s always the character I identify with the most. I would claim that as proof that I can easily empathise with other cultures, except that I heavily question just how much Roy is actually part of a different culture than me. I mean, has he ever faced prejudice based on the colour of his skin? Was he raised to be aware of a heritage of heroism and hardship that shaped both his community and his own family? Not as far as the strip itself shows. Burlow just drew him in a different colour and called it a day. Now, that’s not inherently bad or anything, because shallow diversity is better than none (and given how Burlow writes women, I cringe at the thought of how he would have tried to portray Genuine Black Culture), but if you’re going to pat yourself on the back THIS DAMN MUCH, you should have put in one hell of a lot more of an effort.
Oh, and Vaarsuvius is “genderqueer,” supposedly. Bite me, Burlow, you’ve admitted yourself that you just accidentally drew him so androgynous that none of the readers could tell if he was male or female and then you thought it was funny to make it into a running gag! That’s your big LGBT cred – treating it as an immature joke! And yes, I’m saying “him” and “he,” because given your track record there’s no way you bothered to include a second woman in the group.
But anyway, part of Burlow’s born-again feminist reform is apparently to write more female characters who are neither stupid, evil or insane. Which is great, right? Who could possibly object to not treating half the human race as shallow stereotypes? What could possibly go wrong?
Bandana is the lesbian black woman who gets put in charge of the pirate crew shipping the heroes to a new location. She is very definitely neither stupid, evil nor insane. I would tell you more about her, but sadly, there is nothing more. I mean nothing. Aside from her job, she is – a lesbian black woman who is definitely neither stupid, evil nor insane.
I hate to belabour the fact that she’s a lesbian black woman, because it makes it sound like I have something against lesbian black women as characters, and I can assure you that I do not. In fact, I can recall, off the top of my head, a number of them that I’ve been rather fond of, whereas I can not recall a single one I didn’t like. Bandana is, in fact, the one to break the excellent track record that lesbian black women in fiction have had so far. It’s just that… well, it’s virtue-signalling so pure that it’s almost beautiful. What is the first thing the born-again SJW does? Creates a black lesbian character who is too perfect to have any personality! This is the sort of thing troglodytes always accuse liberal-ish writers of while usually being completely wrong. It’s reality indistinguishable from parody.
Bandana hangs around for a hundred pages or so, being supremely competent and helpful. The only interesting thing that happens to her is that she has to deal with another female character who’s stupid and delusional and won’t recognise how right and perfect Bandana is and needs to be taken down a peg because of it. I would make a sarcastic remark about how Burlow can’t find anything for his non-stupid-evil-or-insane female character to do than fight with one of his regular stupid-evil-or-insane ones, but to be honest, if it had been a male character challenging her I’d have given him grief over that, so he probably couldn’t win this one no matter what. But what is sad is that Andi, the strawwoman whose entire personality consists of needing to learn that she’s not as good as Bandana, is still more interesting than freaking Bandana!
So it would seem that Burlow’s feministing is just a great big loss, yes?
And yet. Burlow actually did introduce a second female character in this arc – Sigdi Thundershield, mother of cast regular Durkon. And Sigdi is… well… any way you look at it, she’s…
… COMPLETELY FREAKING AWESOME.
Seriously, Sigdi won me over right from her first page with her toughness, her modesty, her responsibility and her just general supreme dwarfness. And as we got to see more of her, she also turned out to have an interesting supporting cast of friends and family and a flavourful backstory. She came alive on the page in the most amazing way.
Oh, and as far as diversity boxes to check go, she’s a disabled middle-aged single mother, which is a wonderfully uncool and therefore genuinely underutilised thing for a character to be.
It’s not because she’s more flawed than Bandana, either. She’s certainly neither stupid, evil or insane – indeed, as of the reveal at the end of the arc, she seems to be nothing short of a paragon of altriusm. But for her, it works, because she’s actually rooted in the world. She isn’t a Strong Independent Woman, even though she’s certainly a very strong and independent woman – she’s Sigdi Thundershield, who has lived a life, fought her battles, and has no regrets.
(I could quibble here that her role in the story is still defined by her relationship to a man, but… feh. Most of the other characters have had some sort of mentor or rolemodel at this point. Sigdi fills that role for Durkon, and it was frankly about time one of them turned out to be female. And like I’ve said before, having women be paragons and inspirations for men may not be the be-all end-all of gender-balanced writing, but it’s not a bad thing, either)
This, in a nutshell, is why I don’t wail to high heavens about “SJW agendas!!!” unless things get truly dire. It’s actually for roughly the same reason that I am against censoring the likes of James Desborough. If you put up with a certain number of James Desborough, who write shitty little stories of petty ugliness, you eventually get a Carlton Mellick III, who write mind-blowing stories of ugliness so astonishing that it wraps around to become beautiful (seriously, look him up!). And if you grit your teeth and suffer through a certain number of Bandanas, you eventually get a Sigdi Thundershield.
None of which changes the fact that Rich Burlow is an ass, mind you. But credit where it’s due, sometimes when an ass fumbles for feminism he accidentally catches hold of something genuinely positive.
Of course, his latest addition to the comic appears to be a character named Minrah, who is neither stupid, evil or insane, and therefore has no personality whatsoever beyond some vague girly crush on her deity (because, er, having girly crushes on powerful men is a thing women do, right? Right?!), because Rich Burlow still can’t figure out how to intentionally create an interesting female character who isn’t stupid, evil or insane. Two steps forward, one step back…
This blog is winding down a bit. My store of pre-written posts is shrinking faster than I’m adding to it. It’s not that I’m not angry about things anymore, it’s just that talking about them no longer feels cathartic. Yes, I’m right and everyone else is wrong, but no one else is going to change their minds if I just repeat it enough times, and at least for the time being I think I’ve fully convinced myself. I might put the blog to sleep until I’ve got a reasonable store of content again.
But before that, I need to address something I’ve been meaning to for ages, something I’ve started writing about and then erased several times, because, well – it’s gross and humiliating to talk about. Still, someone has to talk about it, or we’ll never get anywhere, so let me be a bold trailblazer and inform you of the following:
Men have a biological imperative to insert their semen into women.
I know, I’m completely blowing your mind here, aren’t I?
Seriously, while everyone pretty much knows this, what they don’t know – what women never understand and most men don’t seem to be able to put into words – is just how the male sex drive manifests. People keep talking about it like men are just horny all the time. Which is not how it is. Being horny is kind of fun and there are, ahem, ways of making productive use of it even in the absence of a sexual partner. Perhaps men are horny more than women are – there are some signs that that is the case – but that’s a matter of degree if so, and either way not what I’m talking about.
No, I’m talking about the imperative, the damn nagging idiot imperative. The one that never goes away no matter how much I’m not in the mood. The one that tells me, for every woman I pass on the street, that I’m supposed to inseminate her – that I have a moral duty to inseminate her – that if I don’t inseminate her, I have failed as a human being.
And there’s nothing primal and grand about it, either – put that thought from your mind. We’re not talking about every man having the roar of a magnificent beast in his heart. It’s a nagging, whimpering, petulant thing, this imperative – the equivalent of an annoying toddler repeating “are we there yet?” every two seconds. Frankly, I have no idea how this thing developed. An empty belly makes itself impossible to ignore, but it also sharpens your mind and turns you into a better hunter. You’d think that male sexual frustration would, in the same way, flood the man’s veins with testosterone and make him start jumping around, flexing his muscles and just generally doing all the damn stupid things that signal to nearby women that his sperm is viable. Instead, it causes us to break down and whimper and beg and plead – behaviour that does not lead to any chances to mate today, and surely did so even less on the primal savannah. It’s inexplicable even from an evolutionary standpoint.
(the reason for the title, by the way, is that I’m convinced that the imperative lives in the prostate. The penis tends to get blamed, but in my experience, the penis is stupid but good-natured – it wants to have some fun and then roll over and sleep, and the older it gets, the more inclined it gets to just skip right to the second part. The prostate, on the other hand, just get more quarrelsome and unreasonable with age. “Stop slacking off!” it whines. “How are you supposed to turn the entire world into your genetic likeness if you aren’t constantly cumming over everything?” Well, Mr. Prostate, first off I don’t want to turn the entire world into my genetic likeness. My genes are crap and I take pride in the fact that they’ll die with me. Secondly, even if I wanted to create the sort of inbred dystopia that seems to be the only thing that will make you happy, there is no way I could even begin to do it, so shut up. Honestly, it’s bad enough that there’s a significant chance that you’ll literally be the death of me, you damn worthless cancer-magnet of a gland!)
I want to make one thing perfectly clear: women know nothing of this. They have the occasional itch, and think they therefore know what sexually frustrated men go through – that the reason why we act like complete sociopathic idiots is because we’re so Privileged and Entitled that we go crazy just from having an itch. Well, I’m not much interested in defending men, because God knows we suck, but if all we had to deal with was an itch, we’d be able to rise above it too. The reason why so many of us don’t is because they’re dealing with a lot more than that.
Here’s the thing, women do have a reproductive imperative, but because their biological situation is different it doesn’t take the form of wanting the maximum amount of sperm in you. No, it triggers when they turn about thirty and realise that they absolutely have to start having babies now, if it so kills them. They’ll torpedo careers, shatter relationships, end friendships and, yes, even risk their own lives, all to satisfy their version of the imperative – just like, funnily enough, men will do to satisfy theirs. Men have sex drives like women have biological clocks – that’s how we should be thinking about this. And both have just the tiniest bit of what the other has, too, but not enough to drive them as crazy as the other (usually), and most certainly not enough to make them even remotely understand how the other feels.
All this may sound like I’m making excuses for men who, having achieved a position of enough power to get away with bad behaviour, immediately proceed to slather their semen all over any women within range – or, indeed, for men who do nothing but sit around online and whine about how they aren’t getting to satisfy their damn stupid imperative. On the contrary, I have nothing but contempt for either of them. But I also have nothing but contempt for women whining about their biological clocks (and if you are here starting to go, “but men molesting women is evil and women wanting babies is cute and harmless…” then one, see above about all the damage parenthood does to your current life and everyone in it, and two, as a stubborn anti-natalist I do in fact consider creating a new person who will suffer all the pains of the human condition and then inevitably die to be every bit as shitty a thing to do as grabbing someone’s ass. Okay?). We are thinking creatures. We are meant to be able to stand above our base urges, no matter how loud. That doesn’t mean denying them, and certainly it doesn’t mean we should deny them in others, it means facing them head on and refusing to give in to them.
But having that said, it is an inconveniently unalterable biological fact that my body works in a certain way. Stop shaming me for that fact. Stop whining that men are “sexualising” women. Rubbish. From men’s perspective, every woman comes pre-sexualised. Yes, I know that that’s not the case for every man from women’s perspective. Women need men to jump around and perform for a bit before they start sexualising them. That is one of the ways in which our sex drives do not work in the same way. And honestly? I fail to see what’s so inherently wrong with the way the male libido works. It has, if nothing else, the virtue of egalitarianism. Would you prefer it if every man was one of those smirking bastards who sit around bragging about how his penis will never deign to rise for any woman who doesn’t meet X, Y and Z requirements?
Again, none of this means that we have any sort of right to express that universal, indiscriminate sense of attraction to every woman on the planet in whatever way we feel like. There is a laundry list of things we’re not allowed to do or say, and rightly so. But it should still be acknowledged, as one of those sometimes distasteful facts of life, that this is what the experience of being a man is. And, just as there are polite euphemisms for other biological realities, there needs to be acceptable ways of addressing this one – because not being allowed to express your personal reality is oppressive, and we’re supposed to not require that of people anymore. Thus, a man may not holler at some woman across the street that she’s got nice tits. He may however strike up a conversation and invite her to his room – as long as he understands and accepts that the likely answer will be “no.” Yes, he may even do so in an elevator (and yes, if course that was where I was going with this – did you really expect anything else?).
And keep in mind here that what I’m talking about is nothing more than the right to feel a certain way and not completely hide it. It says nothing about the fact that men are supposed to take initiatives and that by taking initiatives they occasionally find that the woman they’re into is into them back (I mean, I have heard distant rumours of that sort of thing happening, though I admit it’s entirely outside my experience…). No, this is purely about a man’s right to politely tell a woman he’s got a sexual interest in her and just be politely told that she’s got absolutely no sexual interest in him, instead of being shamed for it because she wasn’t currently in the mood to have that discussion. It’s about getting to admit that you like to look at women and not be told that you objectify them just because you didn’t require a list of their accomplishments and aspirations before getting turned on by them. This is about being allowed to exist as a physical, biological entity, while asking for nothing except for mere tolerance.
And if we really can’t do that, then I propose that we just scrap this whole “liberalism” thing and go back to feeling ashamed of our bodies and praying for Jesus to take our sinful urges away.
I want to like Liana Kerzner. I do. For one thing, she’s one of the few people around who seem to at least be trying to chart some sort of course in between “ew, get the girlie cooties out of video games – it should be non-stop boobs and explosions, or else it’s PANDERING!” and “ew, get the icky penises out of video games – it should be all about the convoluted mental disorders of flat-chested asexual women, or else it’s PROBLEMATIC!” And she genuinely seems like she’s trying to be nice, which is a rare thing in today’s world.
But every time I go check out her channel, I end up pounding my head against the desk.
And that’s when – cheap shot here, but true – I actually manage to figure out what she’s saying amongst all the humming and erring, the caveats and qualifiers, the pointless tangents and the personal anecdotes. One of the videos I watched this time was a 40-minute rant against Stupid Liberals, which as you know is a subject I am personally fond of, but after listening to the whole thing I realised that she’d never actually gotten around to explaining what exactly was so Stupid about those Liberals. I mean, I think it had something to do with them being perpetually offended and having overly high standards, which is true as far as it goes, but if there was a more specific message in there it got lost in all the rambling.
Well, quite. It was his OPINION that every character needed to be slim and perfect. And apparently that news site was of the (quite justified, as far as it goes – though I’m under no illusions that didn’t they ruin it by anchoring it in the toxic morass that is feminism) OPINION that he was a dipshit for having it. Golly, isn’t it nice that we have such a vigorous climate of public debate? Don’t you all just feel better off for it? I’m sure that this is precisely what the people who drew up the bill of human rights intended the freedom of speech to be used for – man-children whining about cartoon women’s bodies and real women screeching hysterically about how horrible that is!
But as I was saying, another video I tried to watch but shut off in disgust was Kerzner complaining that Bill Maher had insulted comicbook readers. Now, Bill Maher is actually one of the few public figures I kinda-sorta like. He’s got a few major problems, like the fact that he thinks Donald Trump is going to institute a military dictatorship when his term is up (don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Trump would think that was fun, but unless he’s got the backing of the actual, you know, military I don’t see it as a major possibility – I’m more worried that he’ll start a nuclear war before his term is up), but he’s one of the few people around who’s at once unabashedly liberal and trying to be a goddamn adult about it instead of either playing the victim or enabling other people playing the victim.
Which fits right in with his blog post shaking his head at comics, as something that was supposed to be for kids but which the current generation has refused to let go of, thereby creating a culture that is at once juvenile and obsessed with being taken seriously, and which he blames (not implausibly) for the ability of Donald Trump to get elected – because Trump is nothing if not the poster boy for a world where people insist on their right to believe whatever self-indulgent, self-flattering nonsense they want.
Of course Kerzner was incensed. Her whole career is about defending the poo-flinging chimps that make up the gamer community. The reason why I want to like her is that she defends them, primarily, from the hoity-toity pearl-clutchers of the mainstream media, who are awful and deserve to be opposed at every turn. The reason why I can’t like her is that she keeps trying to pretend that there is something fine and noble in all that poo-flinging (while, credit where it’s due, criticising its worst excesses from time to time).
Listen, it’s all very simple. There is no right side. All the sides are bad. It is not the case that either GamerGate was a screeching hate mob who should have shut up or that Anita Sarkesian is a prissy bitch who should have shut up. Both of those things are true, at the same time. Everyone should have shut up.
I differ slightly from Bill Maher too, of course, in that I don’t think that being a man-child is the worst thing in the world. I plan on reading comics, playing video games and just generally fail completely at growing up for the rest of my life. Adulthood is for chumps. But the thing is, I know what adulthood looks like, and that I ain’t it. And yeah – the fact that nerds honestly seem to believe that their convoluted fandoms full of flashy, substance-less made-up factoids is SUPER SERIOUS AND IMPORTANT and should be treated with reverence and awe by the mainstream… well, I’m not sure if that’s what made Trump possible, but it sure does seem like there’s is some kind of correlation at the very least.
I think the problem with nerds is that they want to escape reality and disappear into their own little worlds, but those little worlds are inherently ephemeral, since they’re just flights of fancy and all. This, after a while, leaves the nerds feeling unsatisfied. So then they do one of two things – either they try to drag more realism into the dreamworlds (thus giving us an entire genre of superheroes with bizarre powers dressed in brightly coloured spandex dealing with SERIOUS TOPICS!!! like death, rape, war and… more rape, usually), or else they try to push their dreamworlds onto reality, demanding more respectability and mainstream acceptance for them so that feel more relevant and not so flimsy. Thus, you get GamerGate: “hey, you can’t say that our dank, juvenile man-cave is a dank, juvenile man-cave! It’s actually a SUPER SERIOUS place where we do SUPER SERIOUS things with SUPER SERIOUS implications! Like… fight for ETHICS IN (video game) JOURNALISM! Yeah!”
(and no, I am never going to stop scoffing at that. If Elevatorgate is the perfect platonic ideal of all that I despise about feminism, the phrase “ethics in video game journalism” completely summarises everything that makes me want to hit every single nerd in the world upside the head with a clue-by-four. Just… how deep up your rectum does your cranium need to be located before you can read that phrase and not realise how inherently idiotic it is? How much deeper before you can make it your catchphrase and then act genuinely surprised and hurt that no one is taking you seriously?)
To be clear: my problem with snotty video game journalists is that they found a dank, juvenile man-cave and, instead of leaving its grubby inhabitants to live their sad lives in peace, set out trying to either improve or exterminate them. The fact that some people might only be able to function in that sort of environment never seem to have occurred to them – all they cared about was that this eyesore was not allowed to exist in their nice, clean world. That makes them cruel, arrogant and altogether morally repulsive, and it burns me up that they’re touted as some sort of heroes.
But the dank, juvenile man-cave-dwellers are also not allowed to put on airs. (no one is allowed to put on airs. I don’t care who you are, your shit still stinks and don’t you forget it!) If you can’t stand reality, then I heartily sympathise, because reality is awful. Let us hide from it together. But don’t delude yourself that we’re doing anything but hiding. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that your opinion on the sexiness of a cartoon character is relevant. And don’t, really DON’T, stick your pasty, unshaven head back up into the sun and start trying to tell the grownups (what few remains) how to run the world. We are well rid of all that crap, and they are well rid of us.
That’s my problem with Liana Kerzner, in a nutshell. She keeps telling nerds that they should take themselves seriously. No good can come of that.
Sometimes when I hear some nitwit bleating about Tumblr this and misandry that and pandering the other, I have to stop for a moment to wonder uncomfortably, “is this what I sound like to feminists?” And then of course I remind myself that I sound nothing like that and if feminists think I do it’s because they are very stupid, but still… it’s annoying that some whiners whine in a way that is so close to my own whining while still being so completely and utterly wrong about everything.
Case in point, the latest entry on my list of things I love even though they’re feminist-approved: the new She-Ra and the Princesses of Power cartoon. It’s wonderful stuff, really. It’s funny, it’s heartfelt, it’s got fallible heroes and humanised villains while still having a comfortable divide into Good and Evil. Smart enough to stimulate, dumb enough to not have to get worked up about. And, of course, it has plenty of the good old Girl Power going, which includes acknowledging that girls can use their power to either do good things or do misguided or malicious things. (I especially love Catra, whose arc throughout the first season highlights both her capacity to become a hero and her stubborn refusal to take any of the opportunities she’s offered to do so, instead plowing deeper and deeper into villainy)
I have, fortunately, been spared the gushing praise that the Tumblr crowd apparently have for the series, and as such have been able to fully enjoy it. I have not, sadly, been spared the whinging and crying from emotionally stunted toerags stumbling over themselves in their eagerness to find fault with it because it has such horrible things as DIVERSITY in it. That one didn’t cost me my enjoyment, but it did put a sour note in it – I had to restrain a nasty little thrill every time there was an overweight character on screen because I knew how much it would annoy the haters, and I don’t like being the sort of person who loves in the name of hating hate.
Let me make one thing very clear here. If you like a show solely because it checks off a bunch of boxes of representation, then you’re an asshole. However, if you hate a show solely because the characters aren’t a bunch of identical-looking white guys in drab uniforms? Then you’re a hyper-plus-extra-SUPER-asshole!
There are a lot of hyper-plus-extra-super-assholes hating on She-Ra.
And they all whine about “pandering.” Do you know how much I hate that word? It’s the sound of terminal poverty of spirit. “Someone else got something, and that offends me!” – that’s what people complaining about pandering are really saying. “People paid attention to someone who isn’t me, and that’s not faaaaaiiiiiiir!”
(and this goes for the other side too, though they use the word less frequently. “Are you really saying we should pander more to white men?” a feminist in a snit asked shortly after the 2016 US election. The answer is of course, YES, YOU MORON! YES, we should pander a little to white men! Not all the time, but every now and then, just often enough to let them feel appreciated. It’s people like you telling them that they don’t deserve any attention, ever, that is driving them towards Trump!)
We have already established that nerds are incapable of even noticing when they’re getting pandered to. And you know, for the record, I’m not opposed to nerds getting some pandering. Everyone deserves a little taste of something, that’s one of my fundamental beliefs. If some people want to live out a fantasy where their tech-geekiness makes them masters of the universe and their utter lack of tact and people skills is seen as straight-talking level-headedness, let them have it! But the way they seem to genuinely believe that them getting everything they want and everyone else being ignored is the natural, neutral state of the world drives me up the wall.
Oh, and the animation is bad, according to a bunch of self-proclaimed art critics in YouTube comment sections. It looks fine to me, though it’s true that I’m not very visually oriented… but either way, this is coming from a group of people who probably watch South Park religiously. The difference being, of course, that Tumblr likes She-Ra, and therefore the show must per definition fail at every objective standard, because nothing that Tumblr likes can be allowed to be good!
I am so sick of this dumb, mindless knee-jerk reaction. It makes everyone who isn’t 100% on board with SJW self-indulgence look like idiots by association. Yes, there are people who seem to genuinely think that creating quality entertainment is just a matter of cramming as much mental illness and atypical sexual orientations into it as possible. Those people are stupid, and that’s on them. But if you turn yourself into the bizarro version of them and think that nothing that isn’t pristinely straight and neurotypical can possibly be good, then that’s even more stupid, and that’s on you!
To summarise, I like She-Ra an awful lot, so there. Okay, they may have slathered on the gay subtext (and at times, text) to an extent that might be called excessive, but you know what? I don’t care. Unlike some people, I am comfortable and secure enough in my love of boobies that I don’t panic at the first sign of a rainbow. Any show that isn’t overtly hateful, I will judge on its merits, and She-Ra has tons of merits.
And I hear the new Ghostbusters was extremely, resoundingly, overwhelmingly ADEQUATE, also!
You know what I’m really sick of right now? Everything.
I’m sick of whiny conservatives clutching their pearls because children’s shows contain Teh Gay. Dude, we’ve settled that question. Gay is okay. Move on. It’s not even a case of “get on the right side of history” anymore, it’s a case of “grudgingly follow history at a distance and keep it from completely getting out of your sight.”
Is there anything dumber than worrying about homosexuality? Gay people have never done anything to me. Not even indirectly. All those men getting caught slathering their semen over every woman in sight so that I get damned by association? No gay men among them, I can just about guarantee it. If gay men do gross things, they manage to do them on their own time and without me ending up with the blame for them, which is all I ask.
For that matter, all those women jumping up and down going, “I’m sexual! I’m so sexual! Sex, sex, sex, that’s what I’m all about!” and then screaming bloody murder because some man looked at her ass when she didn’t want him to? I haven’t seen many lesbians among them. You’ve got to say that for lesbians, they don’t keep you guessing. They don’t want you to sexualise them in precisely this way at precisely that time under exactly those circumstances, but don’t you dare get a single detail wrong or you’re part of Rape Culture – they want you to never sexualise them in any way at all, which is beautifully simple and straightforward.
Complaining about homosexuality? Utter idiocy. It’s all those straight bastards who keep tormenting me.
Like those straight bastards who complain that they put girls into Assassin’s Creed. You’d think straight men would like that, but no, it’s apparently Historical Revisionism to have women run around fighting in Ancient Greece, and we can’t have that. Which is interesting, because the Assassin’s Creed series is all about how all of history was shaped by a group of people who thought, talked and acted uncannily like twenty-first century nerds, and who were friends with all the important historical figures who, it turns out, were also all good libertarian humanists, without any of that religious claptrap that only a small mind could believe in. Oh, and all the historical figures who are on the player’s side were GOOD, and all the ones who you fight are EVIL, because history was precisely that simple.
But yeah, a woman picking up a sword? That’s crossing the line!
I can not tell you how absolutely, utterly DONE I am with this idea that is apparently floating about that games like The Witcher are realistic because they’re dirty and grimy and custom-made to flatter the average nerd’s self-image as a Practical Thinker, whereas games like Dragon Age aren’t because they have some colours and emotions in them. Look, I don’t begrudge anyone their wish-fulfilment fantasies, but let’s be very clear here: historical times did not include any eclectically educated atheist men riding around on their own, defeating tons of enemies with their big swords and big brains and making the busty barmaids swoon from their manly unwashed odours. They mostly involved people hanging together for safety and praying to whatever god they thought might be listening that they’d avoid catching the plague.
Get your jollies any way you want, including by wallowing in grimdark, but please stop pretending that it makes you a serious thinker and realist! In fact, can we please quit it with this notion, which is apparently all over the conservative half of the population right now, that when you take away the feelings, what you’re left with is per definition the facts? Rubbish. When you take away the feelings, what you’re left with are dumb, brutish instincts. “Fight! Fuck! Feed! Never ever bathe!” They’re not more true than the airy-fairy feelings, they’re just uglier. The facts are hard to find and harder to interpret, which is why they’re so much less popular than thinking with your fluttery emotions or your dull urges, depending.
Damn, I’m so depressed right now.
I was going to wrap up with a complaint against feminists, but you know what? I can’t even be bothered! I’m so very tired of being tired of feminists. They just keep twittering the same self-serving, hypocritical narrative about how everyone has to be nicer to them but it’s completely unreasonable for anyone to expect them to be nice to others, and the only people who ever call them on it are the homophobes and the delusional man-child gamers. What else remains for me to say about it, at this point?