A Record of the Past

One way or another, I watch a lot of old films, whether old TV shows, old movies, or even old instructional videos.

It’s informative, and not just in the way the original filmmakers intended. As C.S. Lewis pointed out, consuming work produced in a different time doesn’t just tell you what the work is about, but also how people thought and their basic assumptions about life. The point isn’t that it’s completely accurate to how life was back then, but that it does show what at least some people thought and felt at the time regarding the subject. It also gives a sense of how that subject might have been generally viewed by the audience, depending on the assumptions the creator felt he had to cater to.

For instance, viewing 1946’s Miracle on 34th Street, we can tell that having a woman in a position of authority in a major corporation like Macy’s Department Stores was not considered particularly unusual or surprising at the time it was made, since no one comments on or expresses surprise at Maureen O’Hara occupying such a position, and the film feels no need to provide any explanation for it. We can likewise gather that having a Black day servant was fairly normal for a well-off businesswoman, since again, the film feels no need to explain the character’s presence. On the other hand, the film does need to explain the difference between a hearing and a trial, because it’s not something the average audience member might be expected to know or take for granted, and they might become confused as to what the stakes are and the rules of the proceeding.

A steady exposure to the thoughts of many different ages is an indispensable defense against blindly following the zeitgeist and prejudices of one’s own particular age. Because what you get is actually what was said or filmed or thought at that time; not someone’s reconstruction of it.

For an example, consider the following short. It was intended for a proposed Mystery Science Theater 3000 tie-in CD that never got off the ground. Looking past Mike and Bots’ typical irreverent humor, we see an image of what Venezuela used to be like (sorry for the poor sound quality).

Now, obviously it’s a very positive portrayal, since the film is Creole Oil showing their employees how great it can be to work there, but look at what’s on screen; the clean, busy streets and beautiful buildings of Maracaibo and Caracas (many of them recently constructed, according to the film), the Sears store, the full car lots, the stores crammed with American products. This is, at least in part, what the country looked like in the 1950s, and how an American company interacted with the country.

This is Evil

I’m a little late on this, but in case you’ve missed it:

Amelie Wen Zhao, an immigrant from China, dreamed of being an author her whole life. Then she achieved that dream, selling a three-book YA series to a major publisher. The book, called Blood Heir, was done. It was published. It was slated for release with a strong marketing push, making it one of the ‘most anticipated titles of the year.’ Miss Zhao was ecstatic, sharing her disbelieving joy on her blog:

Three-book deals. Manuscripts going to auction. Offers from the Big 5 Publishers.

These had all seemed like dreams to me. Literally, dreams towards which I could reach yet never even hope to achieve, to cross that yawning abyss in-between. Wishes from the highest star in the skyat which I could only gaze and gaze and gaze.

Until last month.

I don’t think it’s sunk in until this very moment, when I sat down to write this post — that I am going to be a published author.

I AM GOING TO BE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR!!!!!!

Then all that was destroyed almost overnight because a few people on social media decided to take exception to her book.

You see, apparently her work is about prejudice and slavery, only in the fantasy world that she describes, prejudice is not based on skin-color, but on some other factor (exactly as it is much of the time in real life). This, coupled with the fact that she, a non-Black person dared write about slavery (because it isn’t like any other peoples in human history have ever been slaves), and that, apparently, one of the characters is described as being Black, but isn’t written ‘properly.’

I reiterate that the book is not even released yet; no one in the general public has read it. Yet they condemn it because the premise and some advanced material seems ‘problematic’ to them. So, based on that, these people attacked a young woman for being ‘racist’ and pressured her into pulling her first book before it was even released, effectively destroying her career and her dream in the process.

Do I have to explain how monstrous this is? A handful of damaged souls protected by the anonymity of social media, swarm around an innocent woman, slander her, browbeat her, and destroy her dream because they don’t like the way bigotry is portrayed in a fictional world in a book they haven’t read! Along with a few other insanely petty reasons.

All this is directed at a lady who, based on excerpts from her blog, substantially agrees with them, but only wanted to express those progressive ideas from her own particular point of view. That is enough for these lunatics to destroy her life.

I have no interested in her book; that isn’t the point. The point is that this kind of behavior is evil. This should not be tolerated, and it certainly should not have any influence.

But why is it tolerated? Because it couches itself in terms of opposing bigotry and prejudice. That, in our world, is the all-sufficient excuse: “I was offended,” or “I feel excluded,” or “this is bigoted.” Invoking those sacred terms permits us to destroy lives at will. Just recently, a group of high schoolers were intimidated, slandered, and had their reputations shattered in front of the whole nation in the name of ‘opposing bigotry,’ and even after video proof that they were the victims and not the instigators, we still have people piling on them, because apparently where anti-bigotry is involved, truth has no place.

‘Anti-bigotry’ has long since become, for many people, nothing but a means to control and humiliate and destroy. This needs to stop.

You see, something that we seem to forget (or more likely are never taught) is that a substantially correct idea can be as pathological as a false one. Someone who opposes racism, but sees it under every rock and desires to destroy anyone who crosses their imaginary boundaries with the ardor of John Brown murdering pro-slavery settlers in Kansas is every bit as damaged and insane and evil as the most fanatical Nazi, and ought to be given as little credence and acceptance. We desperately need to learn this.

In the meantime, shame and curses on the “book community” that is responsible for this outrage. I hope, for their sakes and everyone else’s that not one of them ever finds a willing ear ever again. And I hope that Miss Zhao is somehow still able to achieve her dream in the future.

And to my fellow authors: do not permit this type of person to intimidate or discourage you. They are paper tigers at best. Do not try to appease them: that will only make them feel powerful and demand more. Do not engage with them. Do not give them the least attention. I recommend staying off of Twitter entirely, and only using social media to talk with people you actually know somehow. From all I have ever learned, it is a toxic, brutal, loveless environment that soils the soul and fuddles the mind.

Write what you want to write, tell the stories you want to tell, and don’t feel the need to justify yourself to soulless cretin’s hiding behind the veil of a computer screen.

For another take on this, read the Incomparable Larry Correia’s response to this outrage. As always, language warning: when angered, Mr. Correia let’s loose even more than usual.

AMDG

Traditional Masculinity with Larry Correia

After all the nonsense we’ve heard in the news lately about ‘toxic masculinity,’ a restorative seems in order. To that end, I offer another fisk by the incomparable Larry Correia. In this one, Mr. Correia tears into a painfully ignorant and narrow-minded piece listing ‘obsolete’ male skills and in the process demonstrates what real manhood looks like.

As always with Mr. Correia, language advisory: he puts the lie to the idea that manly men hide their feelings.

I particularly appreciate the section where the author lists ‘fighting’ as an obsolete skill. Needless to say, this brings out the brutal truth:

It’s a pretty common conception that at the root of every male confrontation is the possibility of physical violence.

If by “common conception” you mean what we’ve learned from all of human history and human nature, no ****, Sherlock. 

Road rage incidents, bar standoffs, most guys have found themselves in a situation that felt like a prelude to fisticuffs.

That’s because whether you like it or not the world has many violent, predatory ***holes in it.

And in a violent dog-eat-dog world, there’s a certain logic to that approach.

There is a great deal of logic to it, unless you have a magic wand that can make murder vanish. In the meantime you can either be prepared to defend yourself or you can just be a victim.

But how many of those situations actually evolve into a fight?

Trust me. One is enough.

And why should any of them?

Because the other ***hole gets a vote too.

Physical fighting literally doesn’t solve anything — it just leaves people angry and bruised, or worse.

BULL-F******-S***.  That is some sheltered, Pollyanna, Kumbaya singing, wishful thinking, delusional nonsense right there. That attitude is the most “white privilege”, ivory tower, I Live In A Gated Community, nonsense I know of.  And I think the very concept of “white privilege” is idiotic, but if it exists, it’s that **** right there.

There are evil people in the world. And I’m not talking about the car mechanic who called Ian a sissy. There are murderers, rapists, terrorists, and people who want to hurt you just because it makes them happy to see you bleed. In addition to those actual evil people, you’ve got morons, who sometimes do stupid **** that gets out of control.  

People who claim violence never solve anything are profoundly, painfully ignorant of the world. Violence solves lots of things. It doesn’t solve them pretty, but it solves them.

Bad things happen. Period. You might win the lottery and never have a violent encounter in your life. But if you do, then having some measure of knowledge and skill to keep from having your skull caved in is mighty handy.

Instead, Learn How to Mediate

Problem-solving with an eye to compromise and healthy conflict resolution is something that, by and large, men just aren’t taught growing up.

An absolute lie.

I grew up rural poor, surrounded by men with what the APA would surely say are guilty of “toxic masculinity”, and though we learned to fight, we ALSO learned how not to. And it mattered MORE, because we were dealing with strong people who could really **** you up when it mattered.

That’s one of the reasons many of us are so quick to start swinging or shoving rather than handling things with our words.

Ian is projecting. 

In reality, guys who know how to really fight, also know how badly injured the human body can be by a proper strike to the head, or a bad fall. And so we tend to avoid pointless conflict.

If I may add: as someone who has about twenty-years martial arts experience under his belt, I can testify that it is usually the morons who never actually learn to fight, or who take the pretty, show-off style classes who talk about violence as if it were a game. The people who actually spend time sparring, going back and forth with rubber knives, and practicing how to hurt someone know better. How many of those antifa types or the people calling for violent “resistance” do you think have ever actually been punched in the face, let alone been shot at? My guess is not many. Not that there aren’t exceptions, but in my experience those who have the best idea of how to hurt someone are also among the least willing to start a fight over something stupid.

But then again, it also tends to be the sheltered and the naive who parrot the idiotic ‘violence never solves anything’ line and talk as though ‘mediation’ with a predator or a coked up lunatic were possible because they have no idea what reality is really like.

Anyway, read the rest and enjoy the sight of some ‘traditional masculinity’ in action.

Aquaman and Causation at The Everyman

That review I fisked last week sparked some thoughts in my mind about Progressivism and causation. The resulting essay appears today at The Everyman

First it must be noted that Aquaman is a very successful film. As of this writing, it’s made 265 million dollars in the US and close to a billion worldwide (according to boxofficemojo.com)—and it’s still going, sitting comfortably at number one in the US Box Office, while standing at a respectable 7.5 rating on IMDb. Objectively speaking, it’s not a great film by any means, but clearly people like it. Heck, I liked it, even with all its many flaws.

Now here comes the point: if it had been everything this reviewer apparently wanted it to be—a social justice driven, feminist-environmentalist tale where instructions on real-world politics and ideology served as the main themes—does anyone honestly suppose that it would have been half as successful as it is?

There are no hard and fast rules in the box office, but there are in philosophy, and one of them is this: if you change the cause, you change the effect. Aquaman is a very successful film because audiences enjoyed it, and one of the reasons they enjoyed it seems to be that it was so unabashedly escapist in its tone. If the filmmakers had changed that and instead opted for a self-consciously ‘relevant’ film like, say A Wrinkle in Time or Ghostbusters 2016 or Robin Hood, it almost certainly would have bombed just like they did.

Read the rest here.

By the way, since writing that, Aquaman has officially passed the $1 billion worldwide mark. He’s come a long way since the Superfriends.

First Post up at ‘The Everyman’

My first post is up at the new Catholic / Conservative commentary site The Everyman, which you definitely should check out. It’s only a week or two old, but there’s some good stuff there.

In our day, of course, telescopic charity has never been easier. We have television and the internet to bring us tales of want and injustices from all corners of the world to stir our heartstrings. Of course, sometimes this brings real help and attention to people who genuinely need it and who would never have received it otherwise. But there is another side to it, and it’s one that I think is too little addressed.

The fact is that modern media creates an illusion of immediacy where none in fact exists. It has a tendency to fixate our attention, whether in sympathy or anger, on people thousands of miles away whom we have never met and whom we in fact have no contact with whatsoever. But, because we so often hear about them and hear them debated endlessly on the news, we can come to feel like we are involved, and that we must show ‘charity’ to one side or another.

But such ‘charity’ typically doesn’t result in any concrete action for good or evil. As C.S. Lewis pointed out in one of The Screwtape Letters, love and hatred for distant public figures or the people we see on the news is largely imaginary; we do not know these people, they are “lay figures out of newspapers.” As private citizens, our scope for doing either good or ill to them is effectively non-existent. Outside those immediately present, not one person out of a thousand is actually going to have any effect on, say, missionary work in Africa or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nor does voting or campaigning change this; it may or may not be a good thing to do, but again any one person’s scope of action and consequent responsibility in these matters is so narrow as to not exist.

Read the rest here.

Dating a Feminist: A Fisk

I found a video mocking this list and I knew I had to have a go at it. The original is in italics and my comments are in bold.

14 Things You Should Know Before Dating a Feminist

She’s basically the most amazing person on the planet.

            Yes, that is the tagline. See for yourself. Needless to say, the article does not back this assertion up.

(by the way, Cosmo asked me to subscribe by swearing at me. Classy)

  1. You’d better be prepared to look at the world/movies/TV shows/everything more closely than you used to. There might be a movie that you really love that you never noticed was super-crazy sexist, and you need to at least be open to hearing her explain why it is and looking at it from another perspective. I dated a guy who hated when I would do this and you will never guess how quickly I dumped him because haha no.

            We’re off to a grand start: the very first thing you can expect when dating a feminist is that she’ll criticize you and/or something you love and you’d better not complain about it. Notice how she boasts of ‘dumping’ a guy who hated when she did this, as if it’s absolutely unreasonable to get irritated when your girlfriend keeps telling you that the things you like are ‘super-crazy sexist.’

            Note also that this is her idea of “looking more closely at the world:” searching for more reasons to be offended.  

2. If you don’t identify as a feminist already, you should figure out why that is before going for her. Do you think she should make less than you make for doing the exact same job? No? Then you’re a feminist. This is not difficult, Jeremy.

            This probably should have been number one, though perhaps she thought the first item was less ‘provocative.’ Or she just didn’t put any thought to logical progression. Probably that.

            Anyway, here she plays the trick of trying to force the other person to accept a certain identification, which she then can claim the right to define, effectively invalidating his right to argue with her. The game goes “do you believe this ostensibly reasonable thing? Then you’re a feminist. A feminist listens to women. Oh, you want to have your own opinion? I guess you don’t really listen to women, because if you did you’d think what I say you should. That means you really think women are inferior.”

            For what it’s worth, I’ve long since figured out why I’m not a feminist, and people like her are Exhibit A.

3. You’re not necessarily going to offend her because she’s a feminist and you paid for her tea. I had a guy buy me an iced tea once and he acted like he wasn’t sure whether to pat himself on the back for being such a good guy or apologize for acting like he owned me. My tea was $1.50, dude. Calm down. If you’re doing a nice thing because you want to do a nice thing, I will love that. Who wouldn’t?

            So, this is a woman who is so unpredictable and thin-skinned that a guy becomes nervous when he tries to practice basic politeness. She then makes fun of him for it. Notice how her reconstruction of his thought process is “am I a good guy, or did I act like I owned her?”

            A healthy person’s mind doesn’t even consider the possibility that, “he paid for my drink” could mean, “he thinks he owns me” (how on Earth would that even work?). Note the ‘not necessarily’ in the title and that her justification for not being offended being ‘it was cheap.’

4. Please at least know some basic women’s history. See: Leslie Knope being pissed Officer Dave didn’t know who Madeline Albright was or me being pissed that a guy doesn’t know what riot grrrl music is.

            Yeah…when she talks about knowing ‘women’s history’ and immediately cites a TV comedy referencing someone from the Clinton cabinet, that doesn’t really convince me she knows much history. This impression is reinforced by her other example being ‘riot grrrl music.’ That sure sounds like a turning point of history.

The thing is, this isn’t just a matter of making fun of these specific examples: it’s the question of why would she pick those? Even on her own standing, surely citing someone like Helen Keller or Susan B. Anthony would hold a heck of a lot more weight; instead her idea of history is…’riot grrrl music.’ It’s as if someone claimed to be a connoisseur of cinema, and as a proof said that her favorite movie is The Last Jedi.  

            As for basic ‘women’s history,’ do you mean people like Empress Maria Theresa, Queen Isabella of Spain, Princess Elizabeth of Hungary, Queen Christina of Sweden, Queen Victoria, Czarina Catherine, Abigail Adams, etc.? Or perhaps women like Theresa of Avilla, Hildegard of Bingen, Clare of Assisi, Scholastica, Joan of Arc, Catherine of Sienna etc.? That is, any ‘women’s history’ that extends beyond the 20th century?

(Also, remember that back in number one she dumped a guy for being annoyed that she was trash talking the things he liked. Now she gets mad that someone simply isn’t familiar with her pet interests)

5. “So do you hate men?” is a “joke” she has heard about 5,000 times. And if you make it, I will think you are both uncreative and kind of a dick. Like, are you serious? It’s not 1962 (and let’s be honest, no one thought it was funny then either.)

Judging by this list, that isn’t a joke; it’s an entirely reasonable question. I also note that she doesn’t answer it. 

6. She thinks she’s just as entitled to an orgasm as you are, which will make sex really fun if you’re good in bed or very confusing if you’re not. One time I literally sat on a hookup’s bed after they’d had an orgasm and said, “I didn’t come. I’m not leaving this room until I do,” and I waited. Ohhhh, I waited

.            Uh…no comment.

7. It’s fine if you hold the door for herJust don’t act totally shocked when she’s equally as polite and holds it for you. 

            The fact that she feels the need to assure him that she will not be offended if he holds the door for her is telling. Also, note how she immediately undercuts it by insisting that it’s just as polite for a woman to hold the door for a man, showing that she’s unsurprisingly missed the point. 

And wouldn’t it have made more sense to put this one alongside the one assuring us she won’t freak out if we try to pay for her cheap tea? 

8. She will debate anyone she meets who says they aren’t a feminist or expresses anti-feminist sentiments. It might be your dumb-dumb friends, it might be a random guy who said something shitty at a bar we’re at, but it could happen. I never pick fights with anyone, but I’m also not afraid to calmly call someone out for saying something bigoted and frankly, you shouldn’t be either.

            Not putting money on her debating skills, especially given that she immediately assumes any non-feminist must be an idiot. Also, note: “I never pick fights with anyone, but I’ll insult and attack anyone who says something I don’t agree with, even if he’s a stranger.” And she expects you to do the same, or else she’ll think you’re a coward.

9. You’d better be aware of what male privilege is and that you have it. One time my guy friend said to me, “Oh man, male privilege sounds nice. Wish I had some of that. Haha,” and I almost threw him across the room. It’s real. If you’re a guy, you have it. Next topic.

            A summarized version of this and the previous entry are “you had better not challenge or question anything I believe, however asinine.”

            Notice how she boasts of being completely infuriated when a man dared to say that his own experience doesn’t match her pre-conceived beliefs. She then bluntly declares “all men have privilege” and moves on. This despite spending most of this article detailing how she doesn’t think men have the right to disagree with her on anything.  

10. Any lingering anti-feminist beliefs you may still have can and will be challenged. And rightfully so. Ideally, you’d just take an interest in feminism on your own because everyone should, but if you’re going to be dating me, I’m definitely going to call you on the bullshit you may knowingly or unknowingly still say from time to time. Thank her for this. She’s going to save you from making a horrible rape joke in public (aka making any rape joke in public.)

            So, she’s going to snap at you for saying something she doesn’t agree with, you are not allowed to answer back (see previous two entries), and you ought to thank her for that.

            Also, note the assumption that either you kow-tow to being corrected on every minor violation of feminist orthodoxy or you’ll “make a horrible rape joke in public.” There is nothing in between. 

11. She’s happy to teach you about feminism if you’re happy to learn. If you think Beyoncé can’t dance in a revealing outfit and call herself a feminist, you are wrong, but I’m happy to explain to you why that is if you actually want to know. Why? Because I like you.

            Again (this is about the third time the same point is made), “shut up, stop thinking, and swallow whatever nonsense I tell you and be grateful for it.” Note the patronizing and patently false “because I like you. You’re stupid and pliable and do what I say, so I like you.”

12. Never, ever, ever tell her about how men are discriminated against too. This isn’t a competition for which gender had been treated more unfairly, but if it were, women will win every time.

            Love that; “this isn’t a competition, so just admit you lose.” 

            Yet again, she’s insisting that you should never challenge her beliefs or point out any inconvenient facts or allow your own experiences to contradict her precious theory. She doesn’t even want to hear about anyone else’s challenges or hardships: just shut up and listen to her problems (or, more likely, the problems of other people that she’s read about and applied to herself). Yours don’t count.

           And as noted with number two, the logical progression in this list is terrible; she jumps all over the place. This should probably have gone right after the one about ‘privilege.’

13. If you seriously believe we’re all equal and feminism is unnecessary, keep walking. Also, what are you even doing with your life? Clearly it is not “reading literally any news website.”

            The really funny thing is that she thinks ‘not reading literally any news website’ is a reason to question what someone is doing with their life. There is nothing better in life than feminism (sounds like an exaggeration now, but just wait), and life has no meaning if you are not obsessing over it.

14. She really, truly believes in equality for all.Feminists are the most amazing people on the planet because we believe in equality for all genders, races, sexual orientations, you name it.

            (“What? No, unborn children don’t count. Why would you even ask that?”)

            Seriously, would you want to date someone who believed anything less? No? Then it’s good that you picked me.

             Let me just repeat that:

            “Feminists are the most amazing people on the planet because we believe in equality for all genders, races, sexual orientations, you name it.”

            Ah, so feminists are “the most amazing people on the planet” because of something they believe? All you have to do is to believe in the right things and that makes you better than everyone else?

            So, feminists who ‘believe’ in the correct things and write articles about it are more amazing than, say, Marines laying down their lives for people they don’t even know?

            More amazing than the Missionaries of Charity ministering to dying children in the poorest regions of the world?

            More amazing than scientists making biomechanical arms for amputees?

            I guess so. For the feminist it’s “I thank thee, myself, that I am not like other people. I believe in equality.”

            Hell, the Pharisee in the parable was more amazing than that. He at least had actual works to boast of.

           This reinforces the idea that Leftism is the true heir to Puritanism: same principles, just applied differently. What you believe, not what you do, determines what kind of person you are. Only in this case, rather than the glorious truth of the Gospel, the saving faith is the asinine speculations of self-righteous academics high on Marx.

            Also, note the claim of belief in equality for all, despite the fact that most of this list has been variations on telling men that they have no right to question feminism, cite their own experiences, or even get annoyed when feminists attack the things they care about. I wonder what this writer’s views on double standards might be?

            But the most disturbing thing about this whole essay is the fact that she evidently doesn’t realize just how unpleasant, arrogant, and self-righteous she comes across as. Several entries are dedicated to telling men that their own experiences and hardships do not matter to her mind, and that they need to shut up and be grateful when she ‘corrects’ them or tears down something they care about. And her entire justification for all of this, and why she evidently expects men to want to date her, is that she has the correct beliefs.

            This is why I would recommend men being very careful about dating self-described feminists. Not so much for the content of their beliefs (though the ‘my ability to compete in the workplace justifies killing my own children’ thing is, shall we say, a stumbling block) as for the way so many of them seem to think that their views give them the right to be as cruel, capricious, and rude as they like. So many feminists seem to think that men have no right whatever to so much as question their views or even to talk about their own hardships. Men have ‘privilege,’ you see, so their struggles, experiences, and observations do not count. But if you dispute anything the feminist says, that means you’re ‘dismissing the experience of women’ and ‘mansplaining.’ 

Basically, feminist ideology encourages women to be simultaneously hyper-focused on their own grievances while dismissive of any that the man might have, and to make utterly unreasonable claims regarding what the man can and cannot say or do. I don’t even have to cite examples, because this attitude is fully on display in the above list, not only undisguised but held up as something the writer is proud of. Whatever the justification behind it, and whether adopted by men or women, this kind of attitude is deadly to relationships.

           I don’t care about social structures or ingrained power systems: it is not unreasonable to ask that you act like a decent human being.

            I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if ‘equality’ means anything, it means the same rules of conduct apply to all. That means you don’t get to simply dismiss someone because you think he has ‘privilege,’ and that you don’t get to be rude because someone else who shares a chromosome with you was treated unfairly at some point (or even because you yourself were once treated unfairly. It’s called being human).

            It also means that when you write a repulsively self-righteous piece like this, you get called on it.