Since I have another blog that is hugely successful and read by millions of people worldwide the idea was that this blog would be just me answering questions whenever I feel like it but even though I have a bunch of questions in the hopper here I go again on my own, going down the only road I’ve ever known. I just have SO much to say.
I react poorly to compliments. Which is annoying because false praise is an important part of the current culture, especially at work which is really my only interaction with the current culture. It’s silly because HR sends out a stupid survey and the results says that people don’t feel appreciated so then managers are told they need to tell everyone who great they are all the time – which is like giving a picture of food to a starving person. Anyway, I normally react to compliments with feelings of anger and betrayal, but sometimes I actually believe it. Such as, one time someone told me that I was “pretty self-aware” which I accepted with good grace (or at least not bad grace) because I thought that it might be true. This was a weird compliment in the sense that the person barely knew me and it was at work, but whatever.
But it turns out that person was an IDIOT because I am not self-aware at all. Here’s what happened. I have FAMOUSLY maintained the opinion that violent and sexual media depictions don’t really affect people to make them more violent or sexual. My theory was that violent and sexy people seek out violent and sexy media rather than the media making them that way. But it turns out that much like Obi-Wan when he thought that he could train Anakin as well as Yoda could I was wrong. How do I know this? From my own stupid brain!!!
Last night I was watching a documentary about child actors and how awful it is to let kids be actors and it was making me sad and I thought to myself “I wish I liked shows that were more upbeat”. And BAM! Just like Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus it was the lightning bolt of conversion, I believed one thing and in a flash I was changed into believing something else. Saying that reminded me of something. A few years back when I was not deeply in love with the greatest woman in the world and there were no shows on I liked and I wasn’t gaming regularly I had a lot of time on my hands. And what I did with that time was that I watched the documentary channel a lot. Because even if a documentary isn’t well done it’s still usually good in the sense that you get some information or misinformation, it may suck but you’re learning something (even if it’s wrong). Such as the Katie Couric doc about how it’s not my fault that I’m fat (it is my fault) was poorly made but I still felt like I got a lot of good information about health and nutrition. As opposed to a bad piece of fiction which is just bad and a waste of time. The documentary channel was a safer bet.
After a few months of this behavior I says to myself I says “You got to cool it with the documentary channel because it’s making you depressed”. Most docs are depressing stories about bad things, and they try to have a bit at the end where they say “but if you act now there’s still a chance things will be okay” but that never made me feel better. The point is, there was actual proof in my own life that watching sad things was making me sad. So probably both things are true. Violent sexy people seek out violent sexy media and indulging in that media contributes to their violent sexiness. It’s like one of them feedback loops you hear about on the Star Trek. Like if you have a bad attitude you fail and when you fail you have a bad attitude which makes you fail more with makes your attitude worse and on and on and on.
The question is, why, when I had this obvious example in my own life did I persist in my belief that we can’t blame the media? Partially because I’m dumb as a skunk stuck in a window well obviously, but beyond that it’s probably because of the participatory nature. I still don’t believe that a 100% non-violent non-sexy person will be made violent and sexy by violent sex media, so you have to want it in the first place, but there is an effect. So perhaps it was just the distinction that was lost on me.
Unrelated topic. I can’t remember what triggered me to think of this but I have argued with people that the government shouldn’t spend money on art or making government buildings look nice or things like that. Oh, I remember now, I was thinking about that because I survived another round of layoffs at work. When I do get fired I will probably never get another job and become homeless. And once I’m homeless I will probably be stabbed or set on fire to death by rowdy teens, but if I don’t I will starve to death. And as I’m dying I will think “wow, I wish the millions of dollars spend renovating the capital building was used to feed me instead”.
I think this is a clear case where old Maslow’s hierarchy of needs comes into play. If the government is able to make sure that everyone has food, water, and shelter and they still have money left then they can move on. I feel like art and projects meant to make us feel good don’t come in until the 4th or 5th level of the pyramid. The counter-argument that’s been hurled at me is that without the government paying for art there would hardly be any art. I feel like my answer to that is “who cares”? Art is cool, I like art, but you would never choose art over a person’s life right? Except that’s what we’re doing. It’s a couple levels removed, which makes it easier, but it’s still what’s happening.
Some dude said “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable” and there’s some truth to that probably because people as soon as they became people started making art. But art exists without MY tax dollars paying for it right? Me writing this is art for me. An arty nude picture of Cindy Crawford is art. Podcasts are art. Professional wrestling is art. All entertainment is art of a fashion, even if it sucks like a Katie Couric documentary. There’s art all around, I don’t think we need to worry about there being no art if the government doesn’t pay for it. So the world won’t be unbearable, it might be worse for people that are “privileged” but I won’t starve to death after I get fired. That’s cool right? Calling people out for being privileged is in right now.
If I wanted to belabor the point (which I do) I could say that the cavemen making cave paintings probably were doing that on a full stomach. But on the other hand I have no idea what cavemen did. Maybe they did starve to death and make cave paintings. There’s no way to know. Yet.
Another even more random topic. Recently Magic the Gathering removed gypsies from their canon. The D&D setting of Ravenloft did the same with the Vistani, which are their version of gypsies. Similar races or cultures or whatever you want to call them exist in many settings and fiction and so forth. I get that the word gypsy is a slur and shouldn’t be used and that portraying gypsies as tricksters and thieves is not okay, but can those fictional cultural constructs still exist? Pathfinder has the Varisians they are an “exotic ethnicity renowned as itinerant charlatans, gifted storytellers, and talented singers. The dark-skinned Varisians enjoy brightly colored clothing and jewelry, preferring gems over coins. Their vibrant natures are matched by their outgoing personalities, which in turn is matched by their comely looks.”
So they were inspired by a stereotype. Does that mean that you can’t have them? Or can you say “Varisians are not real people, by having them in our game we are not in any way saying that Romani/Roma people are anything like this” and then it’s okay? That doesn’t quite seem right, because they you can disguise any racial stereotype you want behind the shield of fiction. But on the other hand what does that mean? You can never have a fictional race of shady nomads? At what point does the person saying “hey this thing is a racial stereotype” become the one that’s being racist because they’re putting the stereotype on the other thing? Like if I say “you shouldn’t watch Battlestar Galactica because it’s racist, the Cylons are obvious a thinly veiled reference to Canadians” clearly I’m the one being a bigot in that sense and the show is fine. When does that line hit? And then what does it mean if the writer of BSG says “Cylons were based on Canadians, Canadians love genocide”?
There’s a big thing going on in the D&D/RPG world right now about getting rid of races – dwarfs, orcs, etc. because they’re (maybe) based on racial stereotypes (maybe). I don’t know how I feel about that. I wonder if anyone is really offended by it, and I also wonder if the origin matters. I don’t think anyone now associates orcs with non-white people even if that’s what Tolkien was implying as some people claim. So if no one makes that association anymore does it matter?
I don’t know. It feels weird to even talk about it. Good thing only people I know read this.
Where does that line hit? That reminds me of a woman interviewed on tv who was furious because the new sculptures downtown were obscene and looked like dicks. But to a lot of other people they just looked like cacti. I think she was on the other side of that line. The pervert side.
That’s the question, you can find someone who’s offended by anything so what’s the benchmark? How many people have to be offended before something is wrong?
I guess one could argue that government subsidization of artists is just another form of welfare and keeping people fed. Same for historical restoration/preservation, it gives jobs to all of those craftsmen who are willing to stand on a scaffold and wipe off cigarette smoke stains with a Q-tip. While at the same time giving all of us something beautiful to appreciate.
Your point is taken though. Especially right now when everyone’s $600/week unemployment benefits are about to fall off a cliff.
That’s true I suppose, any spending technical stimulates the economy – all I know is that a bunch of wrestlers got a ton of money from the government because they called their show performance art.
Why do you hate skunks so much? Also, my retort to govt funded art would be the govt didn’t make spider webs or leaves, they just destroyed those things to put up statues of slave owners.
I don’t hate skunks, I’m just saying the ones that fall into window wells are stupid