Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Men, the Appendix, and My Little Pony

There is a section in Antiartists where one of the characters claims that men are not needed any more, that it used to be that men were needed to club mastodons or fight off marauders, but that those days are past.  He says that a man is like the appendix of women: useless, and if it goes bad it might just kill you.

The book, I think, is mostly about our sense of identity, and how that identity is tangled up in what we believe the world around us expects.  That identity is tied up in our jobs, and our sexuality, our families and our religions.  It often seems that our identity is defined for us, that there is no escaping expectations, no escaping the pressures and forces of our environments.  There are stories, of course, of those that break free from that, that go their own way, that express their identity as they see fit regardless of the consequences, and that is great for them, but I suspect most of us never really get to find out who we think we are outside of those forces and pressures.

I recently, and involuntarily, saw an advertisement for a My Little Pony-themed fleshlight; a men's sex toy based on a child's cartoon.  I am not even positive that it was real or some kind of Photoshop mock up, and was sufficiently creeped out to not investigate further, but it seemed only too plausible.  I could only think about what pathetic, weak creatures men can be, and how this can be expressed in the ugliest ways.  Companies do not make products that there is no market for.  The manufacturers of this product must believe that there is a segment of men whose fantasy is to violate a tiny, make-believe purple horse.  I couldn't help but think of the consumers of this product hating themselves for wanting it, hating themselves for buying it, hating themselves for using it.

I thought, what if there was a product that addressed the needs of men in a way that wasn't appealing to and encouraging the basest, most vile aspect of being male?  What would that look like?
 ----------

CyberDomestics, Incorporated has brought to market an anthropomorphic robot said to finally satisfy the fantasies of men, the hidden and taboo things that they are afraid to speak about even with those that they are most intimate with.

The doll is fully articulated, fully poseable and available in virtually any color, shape or size.

It speaks to men, purrs phrases that every man has longed to hear, but have been afraid to request from their partners.

It says, "You are doing a good job."
It says, "I trust you."
It says, "You are doing the right thing."
It says, "I believe in you."
It says, "You are making the right decisions."
It says, "You are valuable."
It says, "I appreciate the sacrifices that you make."

Current demand has exceeded production capabilities, and orders are backlogged for several years.  Do not delay, order today! 

---------

I have two sons of my own.  What can I say to them about what it means to be a man?  What do I have to offer them except my own fumbling failing mistake-ridden example of manhood?  I do not really know what it means to be a man, and I am supposed to guide these small people in some meaningful way?  I remember leaving the hospital when my first son was born, as they handed me the tiny life that I was now responsible for.  I thought, are you people crazy?  I don't know anything!  I still don't.  But all we can do is to try our best to instill the values that we were taught, or have developed through experience, in the next generation.  My sons are already far more decent and caring people than I will ever be, so there's that.  I wish I could take credit for that, but they seem to have arrived with pre-loaded software. 

If you ever meet a parent that claims to have gotten everything right, they are either a liar or an asshole, or most likely, both.

It takes some genuine and sometimes painful introspection to try and untangle who you are from who you think you should be and from who you believe others think you to be, and from what your actions say about your own self worth. 

Boys: Just try not to hurt yourself or other people as you figure this stuff out, OK?

I don't know anything.

Still writing,

RP

PS: If you are new to the blog, it is mostly about my as yet unpublished book and various trials and failures that happens when you try to get a book published.  I write on this thing only when I think I have something relevant to say which seems to be a couple of times a month.  If you comment on here, I will respond to your comments here.  If you want to get in touch via other methods, I am on Twitter @RDPullins, and I am on Google+, though I use that primarily to exchange pictures with my family.  You can also send me an email at dissent dot within at gmail dot com.  Thanks to my best pal Eric, for the Lolligagger Bump.  Cheers!  RP 


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Go to hell, Grandpa Joe

I love Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  The real one, not that godforsaken Tim Burton/Johnny Depp atrocity.  Gene Wilder is brilliant and though his Willy Wonka is friendly and warm, he is also clearly a little unhinged.  The morality tale is the classic that everyone remembers and adores, and the one I feel is best representative of Roald Dahl's book, which I recently read to my boys and is as brilliant and funny and crazy as you might remember.

That being said, I hate Grandpa Joe.

Charlie is a paragon of virtue throughout the whole tale.  He is honest and open and not subject to all the awfulness and excesses of the other Golden Ticket holders.  I will never understand why he chose to take Grandpa Joe instead of his hardworking and long-suffering mother.  In all other ways (with one notable exception, which I will get into in a second), Charlie makes all the right decisions, and stands for all the virtue and goodness that our parents wanted for us, and that we want for our own children.  Why then did he take this old lazy peer-pressuring vindictive asshole to the factory as his plus one?

Ok, before you get out the torches and pitchforks, maybe I should lay it out for you.

1. Grandpa Joe is a bum.

This guy has been laying in bed for years, for YEARS while Charlie's mother is working her ass off sixteen plus hours a day to feed her kid and the old folk.  She is in the laundry morning noon and night, they can barely afford the crappy little shack they live in, the only thing Charlie gets for his birthday is a single chocolate bar, that he is so grateful to have that he doesn't even eat the thing for weeks, he just sniffs the wrapper.  Meanwhile, while Charlie's mom is putting in a hundred hours a week at the laundry just so everyone doesn't starve to death, Grandpa Joe is chilling in bed, laying about like there's nothing he can do.  Oh yeah, it is said that he's an invalid, unable to do anything to contribute, but who is suddenly leaping about the shack when it seems that there is something in it for him?  Suddenly, when there's a Golden Ticket in the house, Grandpa Joe is dancing around and singing I've got a Golden Ticket, like he was the one that brought it in the house, instead of Charlie.  Oh sure, he's a little wobbly at first, but that's just because he's been laying on his lazy goldbricking ass for so long.  It only takes him a minute, then he is fit as a fiddle, hopping about like Fred Astaire.  I'm thinking: Hey Joe, if you were physically able to go to the Chocolate Factory, how about maybe getting a damn job so everyone is not stuck drinking cabbage water every night?  I don't know, maybe pick up some of the slack, so Charlie's mom isn't searing all the flesh off of her arms with boiling water and lye every night to feed your sloth ass.  How about you stop dancing and pick up a job application instead?

2. Joe is selfish.

This is a related point to him being a bum, but I feel it needs addressed.  OK, so he gives Charlie a chocolate bar for his birthday, right?  And that's very nice, the kid has it hard enough with that haircut, and the questionable teaching methods he is getting at school; he deserves something nice.  Here's the thing about that though: Grandpa Joe says that he paid for the bar from his tobacco money!  TOBACCO MONEY?  Are you shitting me, Joe?  You haven't worked a day in the last decade, and you're holding back tobacco money?  How about maybe instead of buying some nice cherry blend for your evening pipe, you throw that in the grocery kitty so Charlie can get a bit of protein every once in a while?  What do you need to smoke for, Joe?  You need to relax?  You lay in bed all day, Joe.  You haven't had a job in years, Joe.  What could possibly be stressing you out so much?  Guilt maybe?

3. Grandpa Joe peer pressures his own grandson into stealing Fizzy Lifting Drink.

This would be pretty messed up even if it didn't nearly get them killed and cost them the prize, but it did both of those things, pushing this in to unforgivable territory.  Grandpa Joe tells Charlie, It's OK buddy, let's have a sip even though Willy Wonka expressly forbid it moments ago.  Come on little fella, no one's looking.  Charlie, the good boy that he is, trusts his grandpa, the old jackass, and is nearly chopped up in an exhaust fan for his trouble.  This follows a classic scenario:  a creepy old guy tries to get you to ingest something, the real effects of which are unclear, and you think to yourself 'hey he's just an old man, what could be the harm?'  So you choose to ignore the pedo-moustache, and trust that everything will be fine.  But it is only after you start getting higher and higher that you realize that you probably shouldn't have trusted that old man and you begin to feel like you could really die.  "Oh no," you think, "I'm too high! I'm too young to die!"  But then you slowly start coming down and everything seems to be OK again.  Never again, am I right?  I like to think that Charlie, like the rest of us, learned this important lesson the hard way, and it is this very experience that leads him to go against Grandpa Joe's terrible advice near the end of the movie, which brings me to my last point.

4. Grandpa Joe tells Charlie to keep the Everlasting Gobstopper, and nearly costs them the Factory.

This is the worst thing Grandpa does in the movie in my opinion, if only because of the far reaching consequences of his pig-headed vindictiveness.  We know how this plays out right?  Wonka says, you stole Fizzy Lifting Drink! You lose! You get nothing, etc.  And then he finishes with my personal favorite that I use all the time in real life: "I said good day, sir!" Then Grandpa Joe tells Charlie, if Slugworth wants a Gobstopper, we will give him one.  But Charlie is a good boy.  Charlie is everything that all those other kids aren't.  Charlie is everything Joe himself isn't.  He gives the Everlasting Gobstopper back, thus passing Wonka's final test.  It all works out in the end for Charlie, and also for Grandpa Joe, through no help of his own, and it's all glass elevators all around and whathaveyou.  But what if Charlie had listened to Grandpa Joe?  What if he had listened to the very shitbird that had got them into this situation in the first place?  Grandpa Joe urged Charlie to try the Fizzy Lifting Drink, and then to compound this error in judgement, urges him to keep the Gobstopper, and if Charlie had listened to his beloved Grandpa, it would have been back to the shack with the cabbage water and his mom working herself to death.  Grandpa Joe encourages Charlie to be as big of a douchebag as himself, and it nearly costs them everything!  I wonder, maybe old Joe was afraid that living in the factory, he wouldnt be able to go back to bed.  Maybe he was afraid that if he moved into the factory, some Oompa-Loompas would make him work for his tobacco money, instead of being able to lounge around all day.

It all works out in the end for Charlie, but only because he was strong enough to step up and ignore the poor advice he is given by an adult.  In a way, Charlie is the best kind of rebel: honest open and thoughtful, but not afraid to do the right thing in the face of mindless authority.

God bless you, Charlie Bucket.

Grandpa Joe, you suck.      

 Still Writing,

RP
               

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Advice for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

I hate Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Not the actual reindeer, not the character Rudolph, but the whole story, the whole message behind it. 

It goes something like this: Rudolph is born.  Rudolph looks different.  Rudolph is made to feel like a freak.  Rudolph is not protected by the very people that are supposed to protect him from shit like this.  Rudolph can not face the hatred and runs away.  Rudolph then finds some other freaks that have been likewise ridiculed into exile.  Rudolph returns home where suddenly he finds himself celebrated because the assholes that ran him out have found a use for him.

I hate this story.  The other asshole reindeer never have any self discovery, like maybe they shouldn't be fucking with people that are different.  No, they just realize that even a freak like Rudolph can be useful.

It ends on what seems like a high note:  Rudolph is rightfully presented as a hero, and the others are all contrite.

You had better sit down Rudolph; I have some bad news for you.  Next year when there isn't any fog, who do you think is going to be leading the sleigh?  You?  No, sorry, you are valued only as far as you are found useful.  You, my friend, are still a freak.  They might tolerate you for now, but you will never really be one of them.  No fog? Guess what? You are going to find yourself back on the Island of Misfit Toys hanging out, crying and wishing you were normal.

My advice is this: next time the fog rolls in, you tell Santa if he wanted your help, maybe he should have watched out for you when you were being bullied into running away from the only home you have ever known.  You tell Santa maybe he shouldn't have been complicit in driving you out into the frozen wastelands of the North Pole to freeze and starve to death.  You tell Santa, listen you fat bearded fuck, where were you before I was useful to you?  Where were you before I had to prove my value?  You tell Santa that if he can't take better care of his charges, even those that are different, maybe he shouldn't be allowed to be in charge.  You tell Santa, sorry, pal, you're on your own.  I hope you crash into the Atlantic and drown.

Go back to the Island of Misfit Toys, Rudolph.  Those other asshole deer can fly blind from now on.  Those other deer can take their reindeer games and shove them up their collective reindeer asses.  Find some other freaks and build a life, make up your own games, live well, and tell the normals to get fucked.

You have intrinsic value, Rudolph, regardless of what they might say.  You don't have anything to prove to those shitbags.  Believe that, and maybe you will find some semblance of peace.

Good Luck,

RP