Jessica Jones Problem

Content Warnings: Rape Mention, Abuse, Horror

Jessica Jones is a Netflix original series based on a problematic-ass comic. The premise: A woman with super strength falls under the control of a villain with mind control powers. He rapes her and uses her to abuse and kill others as well. Somehow she escapes his influence, and in an ensuing accident thinks him dead. But he returns, and she has to find a way to defeat him without risking falling under his control again.

It’s an intense psychological horror in that premise, that plays out very well in the hands of appropriately sensitive writers and directors during the first season. But as the premise is so based on the “sensational” nature of a hideous sex crime, it would be reasonable to suppose that the elimination of the super-rapist would kneecap any further storytelling with the main character.

I wanted that to not be true. A rape survivor’s story shouldn’t have to be defined by her rapist, in fiction or otherwise. I believe better things could be done with this character, and the second season was their chance to do that.

They failed. At the most basic level of writing, it was all about the hook. The first season had an extremely powerful hook. They were never going to be able to match it, in terms of its potential for horror and intrigue. The hook for the second season? Not as compelling.

But as writers and directors, there are ways to make up for the weakness of a hook. Play up the intensity of local situations and scenes, put in a character arc people will really love even if they don’t care that much for the premise. It’s doable. But they didn’t pull it off, not at all.

Frequently throughout the season, it seemed like they were intentionally trying to draw the drama and events smaller, make them less important, or make things less powerfully felt. Bad guys were soft-pedaled and good guys tarnished to where they were indistinguishable, presumably in the name of artistic complexity, but with the effect of draining all sympathy and interest from the audience.

At its worst, it felt like the budget constrained writing from Inhumans. And the dialogue between Jessica and the big bad in the last two episodes felt almost as repetitive and trite as Luke and Vader’s exchanges in Return of the Jedi. The worst part is that two good guy / sympathetic characters from the first season were turned into sleazy assholes with NO resolution to their arcs of descent.

And in the end? It looks like Jessica is angling toward an ultra-heteronormative domestic situation. My feminism shrank three sizes that day. The show was anticlimactic and just tired.

This season had to potential to show that you don’t need a sensational story of sex abuse to make a compelling narrative about a survivor. It failed to do so, and disappointed my shit out. Three thumbs down. I blame no one but the writers, directors, producers. Better luck in your future endeavors, actors.

Cat Owner Question

I’ve always had cats, but haven’t always been very observant of how they interact. About ten years ago I noticed a certain annoying behavior for the first time – neck biting. It’s obvious enough it’s some kind of dominance move, but it looks totally rude, and I usually feel compelled to break it up. Stop biting your sister, Hecubus!

But then, it has occurred to me this might be bad. Do they need to reinforce their social status on the regular? Is the dynamic different with more than two cats? What should one do? Any experts out there?

Exeunt Satans

Motherfucker, I think I ate like a square inch of aluminum with that Chipotle burrito just now. I can’t like, anything maaan.
the "guess I'll die" meme
Apparently I got bone spurs too.  Got one foot in a boot.  My department manager says “You gonna get those things removed?” and I’m like, “Why would I wanna do that?”  If frogs can erupt their bone spurs for intraspecific combat, so can I.

Just… fuck it, man.  Fuck it.

Feet are Weird

In other news, I am not high. Or maybe the reason I don’t have to smonk big weed is that I think stoner thoughts all the time. So. Feet are weird. I’m doing a 3d art project for someone and when you think about us as the apes we are, our hind paws are extremely weird. What wild-ass ape decided to walk like this, got all her gente on board, and resulted in that wedge-shaped stiffened clumsy nonsense of an extremity?

I normally don’t have a problem with feet – the way they look and whatnot – but I know a lot of people who dislike them. And we all know there are people with an erotic interest in them. Love or hate, they’re charged. What do you think about feet? Whatever you think, you gotta admit. Feet are weird.

Una Pregunta sobre Chicharrónes

Content Warning: Food, Meat, Diet Talk.

Aviso de tema: la comida, el carne, hablar de dietas.

My Spanish is still egregious, but I have a question about chicharróns. Not the pork rinds you get out of a bag at the grocery store. The kinda crazy carved off hard fried chunk of a pig you get at the carniceria. You know, looks like a foot long two inch thick strip of bacon?

I just had one for the first time today and it was everything I dreamed. It was like a pig fat sandwich where the bread was strips of tasty corkwood. Eldritch culinary ecstasy. Now my question, for those of you whose cultures consume those things: How often are they to be eaten? Is it like a fair food, where you only eat one or two strips a year? Or is it something one might eat once a week? Or every day?

Coming as an outsider / total gringo, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with this freaky magic food. Diet culture would have me avoid it altogether, but fuck that shit. I’m curious what the people who invented the recipe have to say.

Mi español todavía es atroz (gracias por duolingo y, pero tengo una pregunta sobre los chicharrónes. No los chicharrónes de una bolsa en la tienda de comestibles. Un poco loco tallado en un pedazo de cerdo frito en la carnicería. ¿Sabes, parece una tira de tocino de un pie de largo y dos pulgadas de grosor?

Solo tuve uno por primera vez hoy y fue todo lo que soñé. Era como un emparedado de grasa de cerdo donde el pan era tiras de bosque de tapón sabroso. El éxtasis culinario y misterioso. Ahora mi pregunta, para aquellos de ustedes cuyas culturas consumen esas cosas: ¿con qué frecuencia se deben comer? ¿Es como una comida feria, donde solo comes pocos por año? ¿O es algo que comer una vez a la semana? O todos los días?

Viniendo como un extraño / gringo total, no sé lo que se supone que debo hacer con esta extraña comida mágica. La cultura de la dieta me haría evitarla por completo, pero a la mierda. Tengo curiosidad por saber qué dicen la gente que inventaron la receta.

Money Atheism is Regressive Atheism

People pursuing different causes for influencing our society will sometimes form organizations, like American Atheists or The Sierra Club, which pool money from members for lobbying and other ways of spreading the gospel. Then there are people who try to influence society without institutional backing, without money, with nothing but the street game. Groups like Antifa, which is not an actual organization, but rather something anyone can call their self if they go to bat for anti-fascism.

The side of atheism and skepticism with the money? Unfortunately, it seems that side has been overwhelmingly lost to political regressivism. Hj Hornbeck crunched the numbers, and it seems like the more right wing and reactionary you are in the movement, the more money you make. If you want the financial backing of atheists and skeptics, the only sure way to do so is by attacking feminism, hectoring those who advocate for social justice, generally being a conservative shitbird.

So if the side I favor has not a nickel to its name, has no financial leverage in changing the world, what does it have? Maybe nothing, as far as this fight. I think for most of us, other causes are more important than atheo-skepticism, and any leverage we have comes from our solidarity with those unrelated movements. When we do fight to make atheism a better place, all we have is our social media platforms, and our audience is just not large enough to swing this fight. Atheism as a money movement is lost to us, strictly the province of utter bastards and willfully ignorant centrists.

But money isn’t everything, as much as the Man wants us to believe that. Maybe just being on the good side will give us the staying power, the long game needed to change this movement. Maybe the rightward march of the money heads will force them to stagnate at a certain level, while we have potential to expand. That would be nice.

I don’t really believe it though. I think activism for atheism and skepticism are founded – more than anything – on ableism, and are therefore inherently regressive. One could advocate for them for progressive reasons. Most of this blog network is trying to. But that poison in the soil? It isn’t going away.

You Can’t Kill Atheism or Homosexuality

I was thinking of this because of the balloon cartoon. It doesn’t specifically reference atheism, but it does credit an evidence-based worldview with creating what it perceives as social ills – including homosexuality.

You can kill atheists – especially in places like Saudi Arabia. You can kill gay people right here in the USA, and have some cultural support even if you lack legal sanction. But you can’t kill either of those things in the population as a whole. It’s impossible. If every last atheist and every last gay person was wiped out in a generation, the behaviors, the ideas would pop back into existence.

It’s because being gay is a natural thing a certain number of people will always experience the first time they feel sexual attraction, being an atheist is often based on thoughts and feelings that arise in an individual with no outside influence. The first time you tell a kid to pray, the first time you ask them to believe in Noah’s Ark or that the entire vast unfathomable universe was created for paltry humanity, you invite comparison and contrast between the child’s experience of reality and the flimsy fantasy you’re pushing. Sometimes, indoctrination will fail.

In that way, homosexuality and atheism are a bit different. Homosexuality requires sexual instinct, which is a natural phenomenon. It doesn’t arise as opposition to nature, but is natural itself. An evidence-based worldview is likewise natural, but the expression of it found in atheism can only arise as an opposite reaction to theism.

As long as you push xtianity or islam or whatever, you are the cause of atheism. You made us. Thanks. Now fuck off with your tyrannical wet dreams and social fascism. You can pop my balloon but another then will inflate – out of the heart of your castle. An endless supply of gay balloons, getting the fuck out of your shitty homes, flying away to leave you alone.

Inherent Dignity

Nothing in the universe means anything except insofar as we give it meaning. There are cultural concepts we have that are useful and ones that are toxic baggage from the deep past. There are concepts that are very culturally specific, some found in the majority of human cultures, and a few that are universal. Some concepts should be more popular and some less so, at least most of us seem to feel that way – right or left or otherwise.

All that nonsense is my disclaimer to the idea I’m about to say something founded in fact. I’m in the realm of principles and emotions, of value judgments. I’m basing everything that follows on a few judgments that should be non-controversial, but are apparently loopy unrealistic ultra-leftist radicalism: One, that it would be desirable for more people to be happy and healthy, and for fewer to be sad sick or dying. Two, that there’s a balance of justice in the world. That while justice is elusive, it exists as a concept to which we should strive. Rights should be upheld, wrongs should be minimized or eliminated when possible.

I believe that every living thing suffers from indignities by merit of being alive. We have to eat, we have to excrete, we have to messily grow and messily break down and die. The cell isn’t a harmonious little clockwork humming away until it gradually winds down into peaceful oblivion. It’s a writhing storm of lightning-fast chemical reactions and spiraling globs of goo slapping and twisting and bursting until it disorders into death and rot.

The fact we’re all born into this messy situation and are compelled to do something with it, this lends us an inherent dignity. The struggle to keep it together, from keeping our asses clean to ducking bullets, to be or not to be and the whole nine.

It isn’t easy. We deserve every break we can get. I include non-human animals in that. If we’re going to kill animals – and we will – ideally we shouldn’t torture them first, shouldn’t do it for shitty reasons. Nourishing humans is a good reason. We’ve been omnivorous a long time. Medical science is good too. Killing for fun? No, man. Fuck anyone who does that. I’m including you, Jed. (Yes I know someone named Jed.) That was cool of you to go to the DAPL protest, but hunting? That’s some shit, and fuck you for it.

This article would be more powerful without the dissembling and sides, but I feel compelled. Sorry.

Human animals (and advanced social animals like dogs) have a struggle that other species escape: Self-valuation. We are biologically compelled to find our place among our kind, by ranking ourselves and others. When AmeriKKKa’s wig daddies wrote about the self-evident nature of our human rights, they didn’t bother to notice that all around them there were people with bad self-esteem, for whom their own rights are not self-evident. People who often lose the most basic battle in life: They don’t feel like they deserve to live.

In the face of all that struggle and indignity, we deserve respect. We deserve to be acknowledged for our individual agency, that we deserve to have the things we desire, so long as they don’t harm others. And that we shouldn’t have to exist for others. No one should be able to use us as the butt of a joke, or use our bodies minds or lives for any purpose that we do not freely consent to.

I did not freely consent to working too hard in a hellish retail environment, I was forced into it by the unreasonable cost of rent. #RentIsTheft y’all. By the unreasonable cost of everything, at that. Retail work needs to happen but it shouldn’t have to be like it is, and we shouldn’t have to choose between doing it like this and hitting the skids.

Human need complicates that right to happiness and health, because there is more need than people willing to consent to providing for it. Still, the math should be pretty damn simple. If people truly need something in order to be healthy, society should figure out a way to provide it. The direct providers of care should be well compensated – so that they will feel willing to consent to providing care – and as charity is utterly inadequate, they should be funded from taxes.

That’s a little off the rails. What am I getting at?

I feel the inherent dignity of the animals around me – humans most of all. I see what we need and what we deserve. I see humans and I see their rights written on their pain, on the indignities they have to bear as frail mortals. Some people don’t see the inherent dignity of others. For them other people are a means to an end, as meaningless to them and as far from their caring as the cow at the slaughterhouse.

I’m tired of living with the cruelties of the selfish enshrined in law and society all around me, tired of the tyranny of injustice. It’s why I have a tag on this blog, Wake Me When the World is Over. It’s an expression of despair. I fight against that despair every day, by helping other people, by cleaning the cat box, by doing whatever I’m capable of to maintain my inherent dignity and uphold that of others. But it doesn’t feel great, knowing that we have so far to go in the struggle, knowing the likely fate of all the needy people around me and directly in my life. And I feel the need to express that. Sorry if any of you find that discouraging, I don’t want it to be.

Anyhow, Solidarity. Long live the fighters. And when we can sleep, let it be deep and peaceful.

In Praise of Marvel’s Flops: Inhumans

So Marvel just finished airing the safe-to-say series finale of Inhumans, their most panned production to date, and it got me feeling like, hey, somebody oughtta stick up for anyone that is getting crapped on that hard. So. Marvel’s Inhumans.

In a moment of perfect timing during the last episode, the words “Created by Scott Buck” appeared on the screen just as the villain of the show was saying, “You realize this is all your fault.” But was it? Must we assign blame? Can we accept this moment, this thing as it is, and move on without recriminations? I dunno. Just sayin’.

Inhumanoids is the story of the inhumans, who are a race of superheroes resulting from the work of Ancient AliensTM. They live on the moon. A lot of them have short foreheads, which makes me think the casting director has a short forehead, and just thought, hey, these people look good and normal. And they do, I mean, my head looks like the comic version of Karnak, so maybe it’s a matter of perspective. Even so, it gets a song in my head.

The faces of Anson Mount, Serinda Swan, and Iwan Rheon crudely photoshopped onto monchichis.
Mon chi-Chi! Mon, chi-chi.

Stop: Spoiler time.

The title of this post isn’t a lie. But I have to mention the bad before I can get to the promised praise…
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