Content Warning: Explicit Talk of Sexual Harassment.
I’m six foot tall, 250 pounds, AMAB, masc-looking with a big white beard at the moment. But I got full-on sexually harassed yesterday on the bus. Leering, repeated explicit come-ons, not accepting rejection, a weird racial element, and being unwillingly exposed to a stranger’s penis. This is a new experience for this 43-year old, and that novelty probably has some of my AFAB readers feeling jealous. I didn’t feel like my life was in danger, but on the way home from the bus I did look over my shoulder to see if I was being followed.
There was a bit of foreshadowing to this experience. Within the last week on the bus, a drunk lady who may have been trying to hook on me dropped a come-on line that was verbatim the sort of thing men often tell women. “I just wanted to tell you I think you’re cute… I’m not bothering you, am I?” To that I said, “Thank you, no bother, I just prefer to listen to my headphones in the morning.”
Why am I so irresistibly hot right now? I guess with the beard I’m kind of a bear. And I’m more stylish for the office than I was for the mega-retailer. But the A.M. drunk lady was the first time I could remember hearing anything overtly positive about my appearance in over ten years. (I used to catch a few smiles from fellas and ladies back in my 20s, which was nice.) I had my doubts about her motives, but it was almost pleasant for me. That did not prepare me for the dude who was sleazing on me last night. I didn’t do anything about it and probably will not (unless I see that guy again), except tell him to chill out or he’ll get himself arrested, on my way the hell out the door.
I don’t know how I felt about this. At first there was bewilderment and amusement, but there’s a lingering sensation in my head I’d like to get rid of. I’m a little disturbed. At no point did I fear violence, and yet? My body is kind of reacting like I did. I’m taking a sick day. I’d rather not take the same bus home at night within 24 hours of that experience.
But I will almost certainly get over this, and soon. It is not part of a pattern of abuse that preceded puberty for me, unlike the experience many AFAB people have to contend with. That may make it a little more of a shock at the moment, but it doesn’t feel like society affirming its fundamental disrespect for my bodily autonomy, like an atom in a sea of degradation that defines my life.
Moral of the story? Public transit sucks.
Spoiler Warning: for a forty year old Z-grade italian movie
Starcrash! You can see it on Youtube probably illegally, or on Amazon. Like Message From Space, it’s a scifi space adventure with fantasy elements that came out the same year as Star Wars. In the case of Starcrash, it was blatantly a dashed off attempt to cash in on the success of the more expensive film. It even includes a knockoff jedi character with absolutely zero explanation for how or why has “powers” such as messing with electricity, resisting lasers, and seeing the future. His lightsaber doesn’t show up until the end of the second act and again has no explanation.
But is it better or worse to not have jedi explained? The deeper we get into Star Wars lore, the more shit like midichlorians we get. The more powers are shown that people find goofy, overpowered, or annoying. You get force ghosts that can do so much they might as well still be alive, which makes death a lot less dramatic.
Starcrash is bad and Italian. I don’t know if the director Luigi Cozzi was fascist, but the way the show was run did inspire communist crew to steal the final print and hold it for ransom. The biggest star in it was Christopher Plummer doing a performance so bad that it’s very well known he was just in it for a free trip to Rome. He seems stoned in a very particular way, which makes me wonder if he was on the same shit as Bill Shatner back in the ’60s.
There’s mention of scanning a planet with “computer waves” within the first few minutes of the film. The hero is Caroline Munro dressed like Vampirella. The robot is a cowboy. There’s a green guy whose face paint keeps rubbing off. There’s a sub-harryhausen giant fembot controlled by the laser brains of a space-amazon. There’s italian space-cannibals flying through the air. There’s a David Hasselhoff space-prince. There’s just a space-lot to space-recommend this.
Oh, and spoiler: There’s a happy ending.
We live in a cyberpunk dystopia. Some people might quibble because there aren’t enough lazertacular synth pop jams and airbrush art, but they just haven’t looked at the right spots on Bandcamp and Soundcloud and such. It is the time for cyberpunk. Cyberpunk comes out of rebellion against oppression – corporate fascist oppression trying to turn us all into burnt out zombie consumers, laboring on treadmills until our bones grind to a halt, heads plugged into virtual reality to avoid the sad sight of the lives they have left to us.
Disney has always been at the vanguard of oppression in the creative sphere, and have finally cemented their monopoly status. Epcot Center is The Death Star for vital and socially relevant art. Pew pew. Kablooey. Nobody will be able to compete at their level. But what about making art below that level? What about tha streetz?
There was a time when Star Wars and comic book movies and such could be at least kinda liberal. The first Star Wars in particular was very much antifascist, even while it cribbed some imagery from Triumph des Willens. Now that the noose has tightened, we’ll see more playing it safe, more bland bullshit riding the creepy side of the political center – and never doing anything to offend the censors in Beijing while they’re at it.
What interests me is the potential for independent art to take the inspiration of those stories and use it to create something else. Nobody’s really tried to capitalize on the success of Star Wars with an equivalent spirit of fun and adventure since the various B movies around the first one. Shit like Ice Pirates and Starcrash. Nowadays all it would take to make a good funtimes antifa scifi adventure is for some theater kids from the fine art school to join forces with computer graphics fuckos from the commercial art school. Get on it, people.
Superhero stuff would be even easier because you could set it on modern-day earth and not have to create all your sets in CG. Chronicle had a budget of $12 million (peanuts to the studios these days), which was probably pretty heavily invested in the actors and Hollyweird apparatus. Not much of that budget made it to the screen – something like it could have been made for a lot less.
That’s just talking about the genres we’ve come to expect from the big boys. Horror and arthouse and all kinds of movies can get made if people get the gumption. Maybe all it will take is for Monopoly Mouse to keep disappointing our asses just a little longer. They’ve already inspired a massive wave of piracy. Classic cyberpunk. Now let’s see if they inspire some real art too.
From a spoiler here, a spoiler there, an opinion here, an opinion there, I’m getting an impressionistic look at the new Space Shooters film. And it sounds unappealing, uninteresting, not worth the ticket. Hell, not worth the bother to pirate. I didn’t watch Revengers: The Last One either. Disney brought me right up to the grand finales of their big cash cows and lost me there. Why?
Revengers had a big ensemble cast but always felt like at core it’s the Tony! Toni! Toné! show, and it doesn’t feel good. Robard Downy Jerk was fun in his first movie, because of the focus on wacky inventor stuff and because he rejected the military industrial complex. By the second one – by his own admission – he was “bored of the liberal agenda” and was just back to being an asshole. Some people insist they love characters who are assholes, but that ain’t me. The more I heard about The Last One, the more I realized it was a big exercise in fellating Downy with a good dose of fatphobia to wash it down. Nuh.
Space Shooters: The Franchise Awakens had these cute actors playing cute characters with heart, big bombastic visuals that spoke to my dreams, and a villain who was a great reflection of the kind of flailing infantile fuckboyism that’s taken over our world. The sequel kicked up the space wizard stuff all the notches, making Da Force feel like some Dragon Ball Z shit. It made the main characters of the first one feel less important, less like they have agency in any important way. It included people giving waaay too much latitude to a egotistical ass who got a lot of people killed. But it shook out all right, in my opinion.
It also introduced a character who was a sweaty nerd and an excellent audience stand-in – Rose Tico. Think of this: She was cute but not sexy or conventionally attractive. She was deglammed in dumpy overalls, sweating and trying hard. She cared more about furthering the story than our diffident man of action Finn. Come on, sexy main actor people!, she said. You have to be the heroes we’ve held you up to be! You have to engage in this star war!
But it sounds like the new movie was designed by committee (how many writers?) to avoid offending any given partisan audience member – which meant capitulating to the sexist racist misogynists who couldn’t see past their dicks to notice Rose Tico was for them, leaving the second most important character from the first movie in time-killing mode, walking back anything interesting they’d done in the second movie, and generally wasting the potential of a damn fine set-up.
That’s the impression I’m getting. I still haven’t seen Revengers: The Last One and Space Shooters has become even less interesting than that. In honor of Rose Tico, I’m not paying Disney for this bullshit anymore.
Content Warning: Political Despair
Michael Moore recently had some dire predictions for us:
“I think if the election were held tonight, Trump would win. Not in the popular vote. Oh, no. Hillary won by 3 million votes? Whoever the Democratic nominee is, is going to win by 4 or 5 million votes. The gap will be even larger. The popular vote is going to be huge. But Trump has not lost his base. They’ve gotten bigger, and angrier, and whiter, and madder.”
I know this. I’m not sure if most people are noticing the extent of the problem here. The narrative has turned against progress. Public discourse in America and places like it around the world has been soaked in fascist propaganda for long enough that even some of the best of us regurgitate “common sense” we got third hand from neo nazis via our friends, family, lovers, the comedians and cultural figures we grew up with. Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, harmless innocent funny people are telling us social justice has gone too far, people are too entitled, etc etc.
Kind and reasonable (but naive) people have been drinking from this cyanide well for so long there are young voters who have grown up knowing nothing else. Progressive movements like BLM get exploited by corporations to sell shit like Netflix TV shows that admit, yeah, maybe there’s some problems and you should stand up in some ambiguous way, but at the end of the day your political opponents are good people who can be reasoned with. You don’t need to do anything truly radical. You don’t need to care or to fight *that* much.
So the middle is kept too passive to vote, while conservatives are feeling more empowered and engaged than ever. Literal nazi propaganda has normalized so much that Fox news might as well fly the swastika. White people are gagging for it like sweet ambrosia. They believe it, they buy it, they sell it, they wallow in it. The belief that all of the woes of the world are the fault of outsiders, interlopers, anyone but themselves and the institutions they’ve been trained to revere.
Together with the fruit of decades of racist vote suppression, gerrymandering, and prison industry, that can sew it up for Trump – or his successor, whoever that great white fuck happens to be.
I’ve said it before and Mr. Moore reminded me today to say it again: Be ready to lose. To live under full bore fascism. To struggle to do right with no reward in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel. I wonder what it will look like from the inside, rather than from stories about other countries and other times in history. Some of it is already here, but when the scale tips – when we don’t even get the half-assed power to wag our fingers publicly at the tyrants, like at the impeachment – what will that feel like for us? I hope we don’t get to find out.
My body decided to walk the walk of my self-labeling talk. I’m an AMAB genderqueer person who never touched the ‘mones, but a few weeks ago I started growing a left titty. I was worried it might be the cancer so I got it mammogram’d, but lo, it was merely a healthy tiny amount of breastness happening in there. Shame it isn’t a pair, but what’re you gonna do?
It’s the Youtube Walkout! The 10th through 13th we’re supposed to avoid watching youtube videos. They’ve dropped some fucking egregious new terms of service, promising to delete any channel they deem commercially unviable. Since the videos disproportionately affected by this are producers of LGBT and progressive content, you know what this is really about.
Honestly, it feels like Blizzard’s ability to glide on by wholesale political and societal condemnation by waving around shiny video game trailers – together with their own virtual monopoly on internet video – has them feeling like they can get away with murder. In this case, the murder is anyone that might offend the censorious authoritarian regime that rules the Chinese market.
I’d link to some good videos on the background of this issue, but NOPE. Fuck that. In solidarity with all oppressed peoples and against these fascist ass-tonguing corporate monoliths, DON’T LOOK AT YOUTUBE until the 14th!
There’s been a lot of very smart essays on the reasons evolutionary psychology is pseudoscience. It’s still happening because EP jackoffs are still crappening. But for this cat, it boils down to one simple ass question every scientist or intellectual worth a shit asks themselves: How could I be wrong?
It’s possible somebody involved in EP has asked this question, but if so, they didn’t answer it honestly. Or their imagination is broken. If you’re going to pose as a thinker, think on this earnestly for just a few minutes and you’ll get answers. The world is complex as hell and there are a million ways any given idea you can conceive could be false.
I’ll show you how easy this is. I could be wrong about this thesis because I haven’t studied the scientific method since high school, and maybe the words I’m using in a vernacular way mean something different to True Science Boyz. I could be wrong because I’m underplaying the importance of feeling confident in one’s ideas during scientific exploration, that I’m opening the door to a paralyzing level of doubt. I could be wrong, but nuh. Get real.
The holes in EP are glaring. They’ve been pointed out in great detail by detractors and handwaved by proponents with no real consideration. Guys, they’re doing the work for you that you should’ve done for yourselves. They’re telling you how you could be wrong. If your magazine-friendly science is going to have foundations this flimsy, at least have the intellectual honesty to point it out in the footnotes. Last sentence on every EP article should read, “Or this could be a total ass-pull that is only convincing because of our cultural biases.”
Most animals, down to the single-celled level, are looking for an angle – an advantage on surviving and thriving. It works differently at different levels. A protozoan with a light sensing organelle uses some kind of chemical binary decision making to guide it to food or away from danger. A more complex animal gets more options – up down left right open or close your mouth. Nurturing animals angle to give their offspring advantages, laying those eggs in a caterpillar, whatever.
Why are humans so useless at doing the right thing on a mass level? At helping the flourishing of the entire species? It’s only natural to look for an angle, and we’re all doing it. But our behavior is so complex we might not even notice what we’re doing. There are those who convince themselves it’s cool to do obviously malevolent things. But the rest of us have our angles too.
In government and business, we diffuse responsibility so no one person can be blamed. Then we get that little leg up. We don’t have to be told by a mastermind or sinister cabal. We just have to want to do well for ourselves in our jobs. If that means harming someone to make your performance metrics look better, eh, it’s just one person, one time.
Just one little law bent or rewritten to help out your cousin’s business. It can be selfless – just do one person a favor and put two million at risk of lead poisoning. Maybe nothing will happen. You could get lucky. That contractor who was trying to do well for his business told you as much. The supposed high quality components are overpriced, the cheap stuff could last fifty years, you never know.
Animal instincts are killing us all. But we’ve never been able to stop. Maybe at an individual level, but en masse? It might not be possible. Ian Malcolm annoyed me as much as he annoyed John Hammond. “This level of control you’re attempting, it’s impossible.” I don’t like to believe that. Chaos seems like nonsense, like magic.
And yet. Global ecological collapse is out of the bottle, on a rampage. Nobody who was in a position to do anything about it could bring themselves to fight that instinct. They angled. Will they change their stripes now? Doesn’t seem like it. Even if they did, will it make a difference?
Humanity is the King of Anglers. But you can only steal so many advantages before you’re stealing them from yourself. Capitalism is a man eating his own legs and not noticing it until he’s almost dead. It’s a shame being a skin cell on this demented man, unable to affect the grisly scene. Being human is a real trip.