The line

June 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

For me at least, the line between acceptance of different opinions and rejection of those that hold them comes down to coexistence. Specifically, are they willing to allow it?

It’s not enough that they be willing to allow me to exist, either. It’s not enough that they be willing to allow others that they disagree with to live, as long as they don’t make them uncomfortable. Right now I’m thinking about Orson Scott Card again, as I do sometimes because to me he’s the primal example of someone I once enjoyed as an author, whose books I purchased and who I probably would have defended until I discovered that he hates me.

I am an adult who was a child, and when I was a child, I was sexually abused. I’ve talked about it before, and I’ll probably do so again, but for now, that sentence suffices. Card’s argument that homosexuality is the result of childhood sexual abuse enrages me to my core – it takes good people I’ve known and paints their very identity as trauma, it takes my pain and uses it to make cheap points in his campaign to make people he doesn’t like go away. For him, gay people having the same rights he enjoys is terrifying, a threat to all he holds dear. To be honest, his logic escapes me, but his fervor doesn’t. He’s claimed that if the US Government allows gay marriage, he’ll become its enemy and seek its destruction. I’ve been called a liberal communist and called a traitor for my opposition to the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, and I never called for the destruction of the United States’ Government.

So here I sit, and Ender’s Game is about to come out, and it will have a huge marketing push and people who only know Card’s novels and not his newspaper columns or other statements will go see it, and some of those people will be gay, and their money will go to someone who hates them. Some of those people will be the survivors of rape or sexual abuse, and their money will go to someone who has used the worst day of their lives to try and steal happiness from other people, to use their pain to justify causing pain to others. This is why I won’t go see the movie, but I don’t claim that my decision in this case should matter to you.

You can’t coexist with hate.

Hate isn’t rational. Hate isn’t willing to allow others to live, much less live purposeful or happy lives, or even simply pursue happiness (since happiness isn’t guaranteed in life, of course) – hate needs the objects of its vermillion gaze to be held down, to be stripped of their essential sameness. The people who hate will not accept that the people they hate are their equals, perhaps even their superiors – they must be kept down, held back, kept away from whatever it is they want that those suffused with hate already have. For the man who embraces hate, it is not enough that he wins, the object of his hate must also lose. It is not enough that the ones who hate have every advantage, every right and privilege afforded by society, but those despised must also crawl in the dirt and be thankful for every scrap hurled their way from on high.

“We don’t need gay marriage, gays can already get married to someone of the opposite sex if they want to get married” is the kind of argument you hear from those who will not coexist. Make no mistake – they are the ones who have chosen the path here. They are the ones who will not live and let live. Not us. We’re not the ones threatening to declare war on the government if it doesn’t vote our way, we’re the ones threatening to vote. We’re not the ones calling women sluts and whores for wanting the same access to medicine as men, we’re not the ones who try and make it harder for minorities to vote because they can’t win elections any other way. The targets of hate are always the ones being told to compromise.

You can’t compromise with someone who would rather you starve than see you eat the same food he eats.

Personal Space

June 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have personal space issues. I have reasons for them, but I don’t feel much like dragging those reasons out again, and it really doesn’t matter what those reasons are. The issues persist, and I have to deal with them on a day by day basis. One of those issues is that I don’t like to be touched. Actually, let me rephrase that – if a stranger touches my without me awareness or consent, even if forced to do so by circumstances (we’re on an elevator or subway car and the crush of the crowd pushes us together) I immediately have to restrain myself from flipping out. I’m talking clenched teeth, trembling limbs, hands curled up into fists, sweating with the effort of not going apeshit. I even have this reaction when I am sitting in cramped quarters and someone’s shoulder is touching mine, like in a movie theatre. If I have no way to be introduced and establish who you are, I do not want you within ten feet of me.

I often tell a story from college of my first Improvisational Theatre class, when the teacher (a lovely fellow named Peter, who loved theatre and playwrights and the written word’s expression) had us do some improv exercises. We all spread out around the walls of the space (a converted dance studio) and Peter would pick two of us, and tell one to walk towards the other until they reached the boundary of the other person’s personal space. He picked myself and Stuart, a person I barely remember now, and told Stuart to walk towards me. Stuart took one step, stopped, and looked around uneasily.

“Stuart, I said to move forward until you reached his personal space.”

“I think I did.” Peter turned to look at me, and I nodded. Stuart was easily twenty feet away from me.

“You’re all in my personal space. All of you. All the time.”

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JJ Abrams’ Star Trek as Amen Break

June 16, 2013 § 1 Comment

Stephen King once described his writing of Salem’s Lot as taking the novel Dracula and playing handball with it. Taking themes, motifs, even entire scenes from the original novel and changing them, altering their parameters, rearranging their context and characters. It produced a novel that is obviously very different than its inspiration, yet still feels very much like a product of that process. I bring this up because every time I think about the two JJ Abrams Star Trek films, this idea flashes into my head.

One of those little pieces of information I picked up online that always sticks with me is the idea of the Amen break. This one six second drum solo has become, through sampling and recontextual use, almost ubiquitous in modern music. It’s been chopped up, rearranged, used and re-used, until it has almost become akin to a virus traveling through our musical medium. When watching Star Trek Into Darkness I started to think again about the Amen break, and specifically how in these two movies Abrams seems to be using the entire Star Trek mythology as a kind of Amen break. Characters are recontextualized – Pike’s role expanded and his importance increased (going from just Kirk’s predecessor to his father figure) and moments are reshuffled and rearranged. In order to discuss it, I’ll need to go into spoilers, so I’ll give you that warning now. « Read the rest of this entry »

Man of Steel – my long, intensely spoiler heavy review

June 15, 2013 § 8 Comments

I went into Man of Steel wanting to love it so badly that it actively hurt me a little. I was tense. And for almost all of the film’s run time, I did.

That’s not a small achievement – I’ve been burned on Superman movies before. After Superman II, it felt like Hollywood just completely lost touch with the character. And while Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns wasn’t terrible, making it a kind of sequel to Superman II and casting Brandon Routh to essentially be Christopher Reeve was a mistake that couldn’t be recovered from. For the past few years I’ve had to take solace in animated films because while Marvel has absolutely dominated cinematic offerings, DC has built up a pretty solid animated wing. But with Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy redefining the Caped Crusader for modern audiences, it was inevitable that he’d get the chance to do a Superman movie. And make no mistake – Zach Snyder directed Man of Steel, and his influence is felt, but the film is a Nolan movie. Bringing Goyer (the writer or co-writer of the Batman trilogy) in is a statement that this film, directed by Snyder or not, is of a piece with Nolan’s previous offerings.

And if there’s one thing Christopher Nolan loves to do, it’s wring you out. I walked out of The Dark Knight feeling like a sponge that had been squeezed for two hours. Man of Steel takes that, adds in a script that uses flashback liberally to set mood and tone, and gives us a Superman for the modern age – a Superman that incorporates elements of every single Superman who has gone before. There’s some of the original Superman’s humor and one particular scene that calls back to how the Superman of the late 30’s could be a bit capricious, there are elements of the Weisinger era (played way down, but you can’t have a Krypton with weird beasties and aerial cities and not nod at Mort Weisinger) and the late silver age, then what is today called the bronze age (when I was a kid we just called it comics) including themes and motifs that come from Byrne, from Waid, from Morrison and even Moore. And in that combination Nolan finds a way to absolutely reach into the heart of a long time Superman fan and twist.

From here on out, I am going with spoilers. You’ve been warned. « Read the rest of this entry »

A story I wrote in 2009 about World of Warcraft

June 7, 2013 § 1 Comment

The screaming was disconcerting. It was loud, shrill, and it wasn’t until her chest started to hurt that she realized she was the one doing it. The shock of the heavy blade of the sword she carried crashing down through rotting flesh and the smell of the twitching, vaguely human-shaped thing that had leaped at her as it tore in half didn’t make her want to stop, either. Lack of air ultimately forced her to.

All around her, the sound of wild, disorganized fighting. They’d headed out from Crusader’s Pinnacle to try and push further into Icecrown two days before, 100 strong. Not all were members of the Argent Crusade, but most were, including a strong force of some forty paladins, and they’d expected to make their way through the mountains and then the glacier and head north to meet up with the main force of the Crusade in a week or more. Time enough to help clear the ground for the new base Highlord Fordring wanted to construct.

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