Pap and Potty-Mouth

Good Morning Huns and Hoydens.  Today my finger feels better, so likely it will heal very fast, which is good, because I have books to write, and I can’t be having with that.

Meanwhile, back at the Hoyt demesne on Friday we went to a writers’ get together.  It’s supposed to be close to monthly, which means we usually end up going once every three months, because someone is finishing a book, someone else is on tour and–  We writers don’t keep too regular hours.

Anyway, the get together is also known as the Not-Movie night because it used to be the movie night, but then indie hit and we spend so much time discussing how to do this and how to promote that there’s never a movie watched.

Only this time, we talked ourselves out (possibly due to the fact yours truly was mostly thinking “ouch” about her finger (not that she is a main contributor to general babel, of course, being meek, of a retiring disposition and, generally speaking the sweetest lamb in the flock.)

So we ended up watching a movie.  Well, two movies, as older boy and I sat through The Immortals which was going on when we came in, and quite unintentionally entertained the company with MST3King it, which the movie is HIGHLY suited for, if nothing else.  Let me put it this way: bare guy chests, drool sharing, Olympians (who die?), a virgin oracle who is a slut, and not the slightest resemblance to Greek mythology.

Anyway, the next movie chosen, the one everyone pretty much watched, was Wreck It Ralph.

Um… The movie is watchable.  More than I’d expect in a movie about a game character.  Disney followed the hero’s journey quite closely, after experimenting with movies that didn’t, like Finding Nemo.  (Because story telling decisions made by corporate boards are… never mind.  Art done by businessmen (who aren’t also artists) suffers from their believing all the myths, such as that unstructured story telling is better, more artistic, and possibly cures cavities.

HOWEVER about five (?) minutes in I started feeling uncomfortable.  This is when they go to a support group for villains and the affirmation is “I’m bad, and that’s good.”

Then there was the overarching message of the movie.  And then there was the potty mouth (literally.)

About halfway through the movie my son put my vague feeling of discomfort into words “Man, this is a movie traditional Indians would love.”

That’s about it.  It’s not just the quasi caste system, which makes sense within the setup of movies, but which is meant to apply more broadly of course.  The moral isn’t just “Stay where you’re planted” (which is a common moral of fables, and which always makes me grind my teeth so loudly that people in Denver complain their windows shattered.)  That is, in my opinion, bad enough in a movie for children.  But the exact moral here is “stay where you’re planted and in the exact role you’re put in.”

Caste system.

But wait, there’s more.  The system of morals is pagan.  Not modern pagan – that system is best exemplified in the Tiffany Aching books and my pagan friends will forgive me for saying it owes an awful lot to Judeo Christianity.

The situational morals exemplified in “if you’re put in a place you have to be bad, then being bad is the best thing you can do” is as far as we can tell how ancient pagans thought.  (It’s relatively hard but not impossible.  There was writing in a lot of these societies, and please, no, don’t tell me it was the bad Romans/Christians/Jews who wrote it wrong, because it is still the thought system of modern pagans not in western society.  Moral used not to be this high falluting abstract thing about love for your fellow man and what not, but merely a matter of appeasing the divinities who could whomp you. And you never challenged the established order, because the gods wouldn’t want to be challenged either.

In case you think the load of that was accidental at the end, when Ralph comes to terms with his role in life, he repeats “I’m bad and that’s not bad” or something like that.

Is this normal in movies now?  I confess I’ve been a bit away, (they lost me with Nemo) but I remember when Disney was all about stuff like making your own destiny, for which they appropriated The Little Mermaid among others (A fable cautioning against young female passion and jealousy.)

The message seemed particularly poisonous aimed at children.  “Don’t dream.  Stay in the game you’re in and the role you were assigned.”  While it might make the kids more tractable, which parents (and teachers) appreciate, it is overall a bad message.  It is also an unexciting message.

Which brings us to the next step.  You know those people complaining that there isn’t enough swearing in SF/F which reduces it to literature for children?  Yeah, I’ve heard the same about lack of explicit sex.

I have absolutely nothing against swearing and/or sex in a book not aimed at children or teens.  In fact, I’ve got dinged for both in the past because some people want ALL their books to be accessible to their kids.  (Not sure WHY anyone would think the Shakespeare fantasies, with their three-tons of language per page would be good for children, but any number of people looked at it and went “YA” and then got all bent out of shape over sex in it (which is so veiled as to be difficult to figure out.))

However, after enduring the ten minutes or so of (literally) potty jokes in Wreck It Ralph, it occurred to me that those – and were they in older Disney movies?  Did I miss them because I didn’t get puns? – were the equivalent of the heavy sex and swearing load in books for adults now.

I often find this as a trap beginning authors fall into.  They know that books (and movies, but now I’m talking about books) are supposed to elicit a strong emotion.  They have clue zero how to do this and – trust me, I was there – even the rawest beginner knows when he’s falling short.  Mostly when the stories bore us.

So they throw in things that make the story titillating to them (and the sex ends up being of the odd and pushing boundaries kind.  I’m convinced 50 Shades was the result of this process.)

This is in itself not a problem and always has been a process writers go through.  What is a problem is that non-erotica (of course in erotica you have a heavy load of sex, duh) publishers have now fallen into this trap too.  And clearly so have children-movie writers.

I think the reason they’re doing this – and I want to point out the sex I’m complaining about here is what I call “purposeless sex” and often “repellent sex” which seems to have invaded science fiction and fantasy and be almost a requirement.  – is that they have castrated the genre.

The genre has “appropriate messages” and “things you can’t say.”  Most people writing know that, and know when they’ve crossed the line to where no traditional house will buy us.  We’re not even talking about political things.  If you read James Hogan’s Kicking the Sacred Cows, you’ll know violating any of those will make your book unpublishable.  (Political things apply too.  No?  Do try to write a bad feminist in some book, or make fun of the credo of female superiority.  Remember, John Norman was selling quite well when they drummed him out.  – And no, I could never read him, but that’s besides the point.)

This has extended everywhere in the field, anywhere you could insert an “interesting” idea.  For instance, I’m very fond of books where our ancestors came from the stars – but I got told over and over again I couldn’t violate “known facts.”  (Ah.  I have an idea on how to do this fitting known facts, and someday Doctor Les Johnson and I will find the time to write it and Baen will more than likely bring it out.)

The messages books are putting out – and movies – are the unexciting kind of “be what you are, with a little twist” and the pap they’re shouting from the rooftops, so far from telling truth to power is the power shouting down at us (no science fiction or fantasy book published by a main house – always excepting Baen – would run afoul of any of the colleges restrictive speech codes; the messages could be proclaimed in class or from the pulpit in the more progressive churches.

So they must bring in that emotion, because you know, the Greeks were right, people watch or read story for the catharsis and resolution, for heightened emotions they don’t have in their private lives, and which in a way rinse the system for daily living.

To bring in the shock and emotion and a counterfeit of catharsis, they have sex and oodles of swearing (or potty jokes, which do the same thing for kids.)

But that’s not real emotion, and it leads to a surfeit.  It also does not allow children – or adults – to escape the most basic stimulus/reaction chain and to… well… engage the mature emotions.  Instead, we’ve gone right around the bend to equate sex with maturity.

And this, this is the problem that traditional publishing is in. The shock and awe that’s sex or language related pushes you to ever greater extremes, till a lot of novels are indistinguishable from erotica, except for the print on the spine.  Which would still be okay, if they weren’t about nothing, essentially.  It is that hollowness that cloys.

Of course, if you prefer another moral, this is the reason Sarah shouldn’t be allowed to watch children’s movies.



204 thoughts on “Pap and Potty-Mouth

  1. “(possibly due to the fact yours truly was mostly thinking “ouch” about her finger (not that she is a main contributor to general babel, of course, being meek, of a retiring disposition and, generally speaking the sweetest lamb in the flock.)”

    You know Dan’s going to freak out when he sees the unmatched parenthesis. When he stops laughing.

    1. Of course anyone with a lick of sense knows straight off that the “sweetest lamb” is either an agent provocateur or a wolf in a sheep suit or both. Leads me to the assumption that you ain’t foolin’ anyone young Portagee.

      1. Ah, but didn’t you see the qualifier? Sweetest lamb in the flock. Makes me wonder about that particular flock…

          1. What makes you think they’re even really sheep? The most normal thing about that flock is the sheepdog, and between the bionics and the way he’s mined most of the approaches and is covering the exit with the heavy guns, I think there may something Odd about him, too…

  2. Continuing your general theme, Sarah… I am surprised that you didn’t point out the one character in the movie who *didn’t* stay in their game, and in the role they were assigned. Yeah… he was the Big Bad of the movie. Breaking out of your role isn’t just *wrong*, kids; it will make you *evil*.

  3. Poor Sarah. Did you get a tetanus shot?
    There were devil boobs in “Fantasia.” Nearly subliminal. You can’t have a G rating even in a Disney movie now, so they try to get a PG rating, which is hard to get now. One of my favorite movies is the G rated “The Straight Story” directed by David Lynch (?!) which included a couple of clumsy H words and D words near the beginning, but got a G anyway.

    1. When the producers of The Rookie sent it in for rating it was discovered that the film they had made got them a G rating. They had not set out to do it, but it happened. Turned out to be a quite a successful film in spite of it. Something about a good story well told…

  4. “For instance, I’m very fond of books where our ancestors came from the stars – but I got told over and over again I couldn’t violate “known facts.”

    What happened since Niven’s “Protector”?

    And didn’t Hogan have a book (or series) where it was revealed humanity’s origins were really on the planet that broke up to form the asteroid belt?

    I admit I haven’t read much “new” SF that hasn’t been published by Baen for, well, a really long time. Once I figured out that my favorite authors were published by Baen, I took to looking for new authors by first looking for the Baen imprint. Has the rest of SF really gotten that bad?

    1. yes. Right now there’s a civil war in SF because Orson Scott Card had the nerve to point out (!) that it’s become pap. So people came out to say it isn’t. And then the Baen contingent joined… It’s… interesting.

      1. One of the most interesting things about the controversy over the effort to blacklist Orson Scott Card from writing the Superman comic has been the people who haven’t been heard from, professional writers who are typically very quick to condemn any attack on an author’s work premised on the author’s personal views. Of course, nobody is required to take a stand on any and all attempts to blacklist a writer for odious personal beliefs, but observers are entitled to note which such instances capture the attention of defenders of liberty and which cause nary a blip on their radar screen.

          1. Knowing, that while we round up the usual suspects, this might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship?

        1. I got “treated” to a big rant about how bigots are bad, DC is evil and they need to be boycotted via an artist/authors’ page on facebook.

          Best response I read: “Bigots are bad people and to be ignored? Hey, we agree! So I’m unfollowing you, since you want to boycott a guy for having traditional relgious views instead of agreeing with YOU.”

          1. I stopped being disgusted by the open bigotry of people who scream about bigotry long ago. Now I just call them on it.

      2. I enjoyed Brad Torgerson’s salvo on FB recently. And then, Larry and Tom got involved. Things got … heated. Glow-inna-dark heated. I’ve been using the crater to read by for a few days now.

    2. Hogan’s Inherit the Stars series.
      And for your other point, I think we should start a new designation, SBB, for readers and writers that have been Spoiled By Baen. Never can enjoy the old afterwards.

      1. David Weber’s Empire From the Ashes (that’s the omnibus edition, can’t remember the individual titles) has the idea that humans did not originate on Earth as part of the bqackground

        1. yes. But Weber is Baen and even Tor doesn’t mess with that. But if you try to submit it to one of the other houses you get the “you know, this contradicts science.”

          I want to do the looped time thing implied in Tomorrow’s Children (? Not sure about the title) by Simak where they send refugees from the future far back enough that “humans should be extinct before they evolve.” Only… only…

          See, while I was watching The Immortals (highly recommended if you have it free somehow and REALLY want to make fun of something) it occurred to me to think it would be cute as heck if all our myths are the misremembered bits of soap operas and computer games. (okay, okay, I know, I’m a certified bad woman.)

          1. It’s fun, all the possibilities time travel hands a writer. Messing with evolution is almost as much fun as messing with history. Get TT into the hands of Martian Lawyers, and you’ve got a serious problem. _Must_ get the whole thing published one of these years.

  5. As I recall the ads for the flick, Ralph was a character in a computer game, meaning he was programmed to behave the way he did. As were all the other characters in the movie. So they were victims of Intelligent Design rather than evolved.

    And apparently Ralph never was able to enjoy the benefits of Ritalin and behavioural therapy.

  6. So, by having mild swearing, no sex on stage, graphic violence off stage too, and a character who has no patience for political correctness is wildly radical and “off the reservation.” Cool! Maybe we should try and get a new Amazon category: subversive sci-fi.

    I will admit that I pulled a very un-PC story out of the current anthology, but it’s because the writing is still not up to snuff, not because of the un-PC nature of the story.

  7. The Daughter collected various dictionaries of slang. When she first met Shakespeare she knew what they were talking about. A friend who home educated was blithely ignorant of Elizabethan slang, which may have been the best for her. This poor woman, who could not watch all of 1776, happily sent her children out the NC Shakespeare Festival.

    1. I remember seeing Tony Randall on the Carson Show waaaaay back when, addressing the (then) current concern over sex & violence in entertainment by providing brief plot summaries of various works of Opera.

      1. I have no issues with sex and violence. I have issues with tab a slot b sex. My issue is that it’s boring. And when you get to inventing sexual perversions… well… you’ve gone over the top.

        1. The Daughtorial Unit was introduced to the Childe Ballads in all their earthly splendor at an early age. Sex & Violence are facts of human life (read Oedipus, for gawd’s sake.) They are not of themselves particularly interesting; what is interesting is how they fit into a story, how they advance a story, how they reveal character and character development.

          Frequently their function in a story has no meaning to the tale; they are there to distract from the fact that nothing is happening, to make the author appear “grown-up” by knowing about such things and, too often, to add another twenty (thirty? Two hundred?) pages to the book to get it up to “proper” novel length.

          In sum, if details can be edited out without disrupting the tale being told, you probably ought to edit them. When two (or more) characters have sex, what is important is not what they did in the bedroom (or on the pool table or in the minivan in the Holland Tunnel or in the lifeboat/space capsule); what is important is how they act toward one another the next morning. Same rule with violence – blow-by-blow after action reports are not story-telling, they are a substitute for it.

          1. Yes, exactly. The kids were reading stuff with sex and violence early, but in books where it was needed.

            Weirdly, the blow-by-blow thing is what got me dinged on sex in Ill Met. (runs.)

            1. I actually like the blow-by-blow depiction of fights, not so much of sex (and if it is the type of sex where you can’t discern the difference between a sex scene and a fight scene, well I can’t think of a faster way to stop me reading the book than giving a blow-by-blow description; I do however make an exception to that rule for the Paladin of Shadows series 😉 ). One of my main complaints with Heinlein was his lack of action or descriptions of action, Starship Troopers read like a really good outline, that he forgot to go back and flesh out the action scenes to me. A lot depends on the style of writing however, I just finished reading The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, and it was written in a non-fictiony, journal-like style (reminded me of Mike Weatherford’s Greenfields) and the glossed over action scenes fit with that memior-type style. There was actually more action description in TMIAHM as well as the MC being less directly involved in a lot of the fighting, but mainly it was the non-fictiony style (that is a poor description, but the best I can explain how I see the style is like many of the memiors or journals written and published from memory after events happened) that made it work.

          2. Larry Correia would be highly interested to know that blow-by-blow action reports are not storytelling.

            1. What part of “They are not of themselves particularly interesting; what is interesting is how they fit into a story, how they advance a story, how they […]” confused you?

              Having read Larry’s three series I think he would agree that if all he did was provide “blow-by-blow action reports” his books would not be as popular as they are. The “blow-by-blow action reports” are interesting because they advance a story.

              BTW, I like the new screen moniker, but how do you pronounce it? Is the A162C silent, and do you use an English or American pronunciation for EA6D?

        2. It is boring. I usually skip, unless the scenes include lots of talking which might be relevant to the plot. And if it starts to look like the whole point is to have sex scenes, and the rest of the plot is more of an excuse, well, I _am_ learning to quit books without finishing them (may check the ending, but if doesn’t look any more promising, that’s that then).

          1. I am learning to quit them too. 😉 I used to think that someone who spent so much time writing– that at least there might be something redeeming in the book. Not any more

        3. My own take is that of an old fuddy duddy, these days: give me the dark curtain trick- ‘and they went into the bedroom…’ followed by an amusing making breakfast scene. I can fill in the rest, and if I want kinky, or not- it’s up to me. I get the ‘too much information’ feeling all too often when people try to write soft pr0n into a novel. And yeah, it gets boring, too…

        4. I remember getting upset at a Disney movie, rated PG, that had a brief episode of backside nudity in it. My wife was upset that it had nudity in it; I was upset because there was no reason – aside for the desire for a PG rating – for the nudity. It was poor writing, plain and simple.

    2. ROFL. My kids figured out the slang before they were out of elementary. Robert “translated” for the other kids when they did SHakespeare. The teacher asked him to stop…

      1. My high school English teacher went out of her way to make sure we understood what we were reading.

        1. So did mine, Rob. She also would point out the glitches in Shakespeare. The only one I remember her talking about was chimneys in Rome from “Julius Caesar”. The Romans of that time used brasiers to heat with.

    3. I think every American school child should watch 1776 in 6th, 9th, and 12th grade, and be tested on it afterwards. It not only tells the story of the Declaration of Independence fairly accurately (there are a few exceptions), but it “humanizes” our Founding Fathers, showing them to be human beings, not deities, and that there are no reason for us to believe we can only do less.

  8. Well, Dang it all! What are we to do now, to shock and awe our readers? I mean, are we supposed to like, tell good stories and then let the Good Guys win? That is _so_ last millennia.

  9. What I truly loath about the present “be what you are, with a little twist” message is that it really does not allow one to be what they are.

    On her first February 14th on university campus, The Daughter was approached by a young man, who in the name of Safe Sex Day urged her to get tested for HIV/AIDS. She said she did not need to, thank you very much. He told her not to be ashamed, it is only natural, we all do it. She said, no we don’t, and unless she had a transfusion no one had told her about or was stuck, unbeknownst to her, with a contaminated needle she really had no good reason to be tested. He continued to press, and she began to explain, at great length, the problems of false positive tests…

    Yeah, we are all to be what we are so long as what we are fits neatly into their categories.

    1. Yep. That is what I meant to say, only I’m still coming up from the “must sleep constantly crud” and even now, three cups of tea later, am only half awake.
      Robert has been in similar situations. They just can’t fit him anywhere. And they get very upset.

      1. I suspected that once The Daughter had fully launched into the science surrounding testing and the various pertinent studies that the young man probably figured that she had chosen to spend her time pursuing stuff other than what everyone else was supposedly doing.

    2. A commenter on a Catholic blog that I follow tried to persuade everyone that abstinence during one’s formative years (oh, ages 12-21) was a BAD THING and led to horrible problems later in life. Even the non-Catholics piled in to argue that sane, healthy humans are more than just the sum of our hormones. Apparently it never occurred to the offending (and quickly offended) party that some people prefer to be highly selective in their choice of time, place, and partner.

      Which offers a great plot idea, riffing off of the Mad Genius Club post on Friday. What if an evil mage sets up near a college, and the mage’s power comes from controlling his physical appetites? He’d seem pretty darn invincible to the vile progs on campus.

        1. Clearly we need massive government funding for studies on the emotional and physical risks incurred from adolescent abstinence. Because nothing says SCIENCE like a government grant!

        2. There are some really awful consequences, like missing out on the joys of STDs and child support payments. Or your kids getting to meet that long-lost older half-sibling.

          And stabilty! Dont forget how awful emotional and relational stability can be.

      1. Interestingly, some of the accounts of supposed “real” occult power DO come from such control of the baser natures. Both The Necronomicon and the Carlos Castaneda books say that having sex diminishes your power.

        1. But then there is also sex magic. Books have been written about how to use sexual rites to raise power. Aleister Crowley seems to have been fond of those… And one way to ‘launch’ sigils (used in Chaos Magic) is to concentrate on the sigil while having sex.

              1. For the guy it might be more enjoyable than thinking of baseball as a way of lasting more than a couple minutes. For the gal it might be preferable to thinking of England.

      2. Used to be that it was an Understood Thing that Witches, Mages and the like only developed their powers so long as they were abstinate. And those were some rousing good reads, too!

      1. Actually I suspect they’re trying to get themselves laid without, you know, having to make themselves look like a great catch and serious husband/wife material.

        1. I HATE “everybody does it’ because it makes all the odds in the world stick out like sore thumbs. We don’t do the stuff other people do at the same time. We might do it earlier or later, or not at all. And we do other stuff that “normals’ would never think about. AND we see the consequences of a lot of “everybody does it” before APPROACHING it.
          It’s not that Odds aren’t used to sticking out, but I remember being young and stupid and feeling obscurely guilty about being a virgin when everyone knew 12 was the age to lose your virginity (if a woman.) I resent it in other contexts too. I can laser-eyes-kill anyone who insists that I MUST write children’s books, because I’m a mom, I look nice, and I have an accent (so it’s not like I could write real, long novels or anything.) Or people who think I MUST write romance, because every female does, of course. OR the people who think my characters are Mary Sues (Do you know how upset Lucius would be? I mean…) because, of course, that’s where characters come from, yourself or your friends (this one makes me feel SO abnormal!) Or the people who assume that all novels will be bad unless they take three years to write, because that’s “what everyone says.” Or…

          Yeah, it’s a sore spot. Maybe a time for a post.

          1. Great (not) moments in Odd life. Doc: “So do you drink?”
            TXRed: “No, sir.”
            Doc: “And are you currently sexually active or planning to be so in the next month?”
            TXRed: “No, sir.”
            Doc (after loooooong pause and look at chart): “You lead a quiet life. What do you do for fun?”
            TXRed: “I write military science fiction and fly airplanes upside down.”
            Doc (after another long pause): “So, have you experienced . . .” and so on with the medical stuff.

            1. Oy. We once had an uncomfortable interview of that kind. “Don’t you have any local friends?” “Yeah, but we mostly see them on line.” It was clear the gentleman questioning us thought we were NUTS.
              Writers are… different. Even local friends are hard to get together with, because we are, you know, writing.

            2. One of my first jobs after college had a (minor) security clearance. The security officer interviewing me and I spent 20 minutes trying to pin down exactly how much I drank.

              “Well, lemme do the math … last month I bought a six pack of beer, one bottle is left and it was four weeks ago, so that’s 1.25 bottles of beer a week … “

    3. He told her not to be ashamed, it is only natural, we all do it.

      Ah yes, the “everyone does it, and anyone who says they don’t is lying” poisoned well.

      I am very, very sick of that, from both sides of the isle. (To be fair, it’s mostly by implication on the right– “the youth vote does X” BS, imported identity politics from the left.)

    4. You know back when I was in school Febuary 14th was known as Valentines Day, not Safe Sex Day. Also if someone I didn’t know came up to me and urged me to take an HIV test I would be insulted, and I’m a guy, I would fully expect a woman in the same situation to slap the urger.

      1. Girls nowadays are taught that it’s bigoted of them to feel insulted.

        Me, I’ve slapped guys before. More of a Jethro Gibbs slap with followthrough than a maidenly slap, because I have brothers. Most guys I’ve had to slap have absolutely no evasion skills, though, because either they don’t expect anyone to be insulted or they don’t have sisters. But I’m an old middle-aged lady these days, and nobody insults my honor anymore. 🙂

        1. The Daughter now says that she has come to the conclusion that his continued insistence to speak to her on the subject might be considered a form of harassment. So she wishes she had started shouting for him to get away form her and to stop sexually harassing her. She realizes this would have been cruel, but she does seem to relish the thought.

  10. Was once volunteer copy editor for a sanitized version of John Ringo’s Ghost (with John’s permission, a fellow really wanted to expose his middle school nephew and the boy’s friends to the story without being accused of supplying porn to early teenagers). We were moderately successful. Copy passed review, but I would be extremely reluctant to do anything similar again. In my humble opinion we wound up with a lesser work as the smut was an integral part of the back story, or at least added nuance and color to the tales. Took me a number of hot showers and several trips to the local titty bars to feel whole again.
    On a different note, picked up the Audible versions of first two Darkship books for a road trip last weekend. Trip ended half way through the first book so was ready to pick it up from Baen when I discovered I already owned it from a monthly pack a while back. Finished it Sunday evening. Strongly reminiscent of middle years Heinlein, a higher compliment I could not bestow.
    Really need to keep better track of authors. Looking at your backlist I discovered that you wrote two e-books from Baen I had read and enjoyed some time ago, Gentlemen and Draw One. Will from now on seek your work out. Must say though you do seem to have a predilection for inflicting inadvertent nudity on your characters, all situationally logical I might add.

    1. I want to plead “What?” about the nudity. I SWEAR it just happens. That and people getting attacked in bed. I shall donate my mind to science.

      GTAC and DOITD were paper books, and I was told will be again, as they’re relaunching the series, before Noah’s boy in July.

      Thank you kindly. All the compliment I ever wanted was to hear “on a good day, squinted at, her writing resembles Heinlein.” Indeed, I hope one day to be worthy of tying his sandals.

      As for INTEGRAL sex… Heck, I read erotica — not often — when it has a strong enough back story that there are emotions involved AND when the sex forwards the story. Weirdly, it’s harder to write that than you’d think. (Sex forwarding the story.) I’ve managed it once so far, with my weird Chinese legend that was paid for but never came out.

      What I’m objecting to, if not plain enough, is where sex has nothing to do with forwarding the plot, and is there instead to hide the fact that plot there ain’t none.

      Shakespeare made more dirty puns than the readers of this blog. And had enough low-brow humor to make Benny Hill cry. BUT Shakespeare had the other stuff too. And THAT is what’s made him immortal, not the chuckles or the titillation enjoyable as it might be particularly for middle schoolers.

          1. I have enough trouble with osculating circles.

            On Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 3:44 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

            > ** > Charlie Martin commented: “The problem with sex is when it doesn’t > converge.” >

              1. Hmm . . . I must be missing something.

                I don’t kiss my glasses. They smudge too easily.

                On Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 3:50 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                > ** > accordingtohoyt commented: “And glasses. !” > Respond to this comment by replying above this line > New comment on *According To Hoyt * > > > > *accordingtohoyt* commentedon Pap > and Potty-Mouth. > > > in response to *Jasini*: > > I have enough trouble with osculating circles. On Mon, Mar 18, 2013

        1. Numbers! Having sex! Is that what they mean when they say “Sex by the Numbers?”

          Oops, that’s Integral, not Intergers, isn’t it?

          Please ignore all the little decimals and fractions toddling about, they come from some other equation. Was it multiplication or division? Sorry, sorry, it’s been too long since the math teacher got shanghaied into teaching sex ed I’ve forgotten all the details.

          1. Lady Integra having sex is NOT something I want to have in my imagination– I must be one of a half-dozen folks who finds Alucard actually horrifying, rather than “just awesome.”

            1. What I find horrifying is the incompetence of an origination that specializes in fighting vampires, who seem to be able to easily enslave people by turning them into ghouls, that employes hordes of armed guards who seem to be extra sensitive to the whole ghoulification process. Whenever vampires want to launch an attack, the larger the human force there to fight them the larger the ghoul army the vampires are going to have within two minutes.

              In summary, if any group has a legitimate need to be looking into the domestic use of drones it’s the Hellsing Organization.

              1. What I found horrifying was that after a more than a strong indication that there was something going on with implantation of chips which was creating a new kind of monster, they apparently forgot that sub-plot altogether. (Nor was this the only thing that got lost as time went on…) This is not particularly good storytelling.

                1. I remember the show being super popular a long time ago, even though I didn’t personally see it until recently. After finding the DVDs at a thrift store a couple months ago, I thought I totally scored a good deal and got something awesome for a cheap price. Unfortunately, I was a bit underwhelmed. Maybe Hellsing’s popularity is due to the manga or something else other than the season I saw, or my tastes differs significantlyfrom the anime fanbase at large, but, yeah, it wasn’t my cup of tea. I have to admit, I tend to prefer humour anime over action.

                  I had a somewhat similar expeience again after finding the first four episodes of Elfen Lied at the same thrift store. Now there’s a show to bring up in this thread!

                  1. I have long wanted to make an AMV for Elfen Lied using White Zombie’s ‘More Human Than Human.’ Meu?

                  2. Oh, gads, I got EL for my husband’s birthday (well, boyfriend, then) because it had a cute little girl on the cover with flowers and blue water, and I was kinda curious what the Japanese would make of Elves.

                    Oh. My. Goodness. We made it an episode and a half before he turned it off because I was flinching too much. (I flinch and feel bad when the bad guy is shot…not because I don’t want bad guys to die, but because I understand pain.)

                    He likes it alright, but WAAAAAAAYYYYY not for me!

                    1. Oh dear, yes, well, my, my. Of course. I am so sorry. Ouch.

                      The Daughter and I would recommend that if you wish to see how Japanese do elves try The Record of Lodoss Wars.

                    2. I relate to The Daughter what you said and she asks me, ‘She does know what it originated as?’

                      I ask, in return, ‘No, what?’

                      She replies, ‘Ahhh, the back story of somebody’s D&D session, basically.’

                    3. I did actually know that– before I knew much about anime, really. First time I tried to do some gaming, they had it on in the background.

                      Given the “take” on Catholicism, I’m STILL curious about how they’d do the sort of elves that Tolkien was drawing from.

                    4. I recently proposed to The Daughter that someone could write an interesting thesis on the Christian church as seen in the pop-cultural media of Japan.

                    5. Ooh, there could be a lot of fun in that– especially if you go into the way that a lot of the..oh, I can’t remember her name, I think it’s Inari, the rice goddess, the one associated with foxes, was often used to disguise statues of the Virgin for the underground Church.

                      If you expand the pop culture to include stuff like food– tempura was supposedly created by monks, I want to say Dominican but I can’t actually remember details– there’d be enough for a BOOK SERIES! (And I would totally buy it.)

                      The research into Japanese mythology alone would be fascinating.

        2. I always thought sex was more a matter of chemistry than mathematics, myself. Just make sure that your addition only turns into multiplication when you want it to. Really, the biggest problem is when your intercourse gets too derivative.

          1. *sigh* Note to myself: refresh the comments. That way, you’ll realize all the jokes have already been made, and can spare everyone.

            Hey look!! A distraction! *dancingmonkey*

      1. Frosting/cake — the puns and bawdy humour in Old Will’s oeuvre are icing on the cake of his tale. They alleviate the dryness of the substance and help keep a balance. Take away the frosting and all you have is dry polemic, nothing but frosting and the dish lacks substance.

        1. Of course in the Elizabethan era plays of the Shakespeare ilk were considered low brow entertainment much like the soaps or reality shows of today. The puns and lewdness and bawdy humor are what sold the plays to both the theaters and the audience. It was in my opinion Will’s mastery of the tales he told that caused them to rise above the morass of similar work then in vogue. It truly is the melding of substance and icing that makes them a delight even to this weary day in spite of every effort by misbegotten English teachers to destroy all human joy from their reading.

      2. That and people getting attacked in bed.

        …how is being attacked when you’re in the place where you are at your most vulnerable, for a huge chunk of the day, an odd thing?
        There’s a REASON my go-to joke with TrueBlue is “I know where you sleep.”

            1. LOL. NO. He’d been growing his beard for three months, and he’s dark and has dark eyebrows and he looked like A Seriously BAD Dude. So I said if he didn’t shave, I’d shave curious patterns, or initials in his beard, because I know where he sleeps.

              1. We refer to The Spouse’s freshman college yearbook thumbnail photo as the ‘undisputed winner of the Charlie Manson look-a-like contest.’

                In the same yearbook in the theater section is a picture of him in a restoration play. The only one of the guys for whom they did not have to buy a wig. The women were still complaining the following year about how well it took the set.

              1. Ah, offensive use of coffee cups– one of my favorite opening scenes ever, The Gods Must Be Crazy. Lady of a Certain Age takes out machine gun guy with a coffee mug.

                1. You’re too young to know whence I speak, though in your present condition, you might be getting close — but when you get to be my age, you’ll have enough pent-up aggression that, if it could be harnessed, you could take out entire planets from orbit.

                  1. You’re too young to be the archtype, but there’s a REASON you DO NOT MESS WITH SCARY LITTLE OLD LADIES!

                    (I aspire to one day be one of those tiny little old ladies who folks fear for no readily apparent reason.)

                    1. Oh pish tosh. My grandmother Gertie, a southern grandedame if ever there was one, was hit by lightning while washing the supper dishes. The lightning should have known better. That woman could have played Granny Weatherwax without any stretch, other than her peaches and cream Georgia belle looks. (That and she had just put down a new oil cloth.)

                      (The Spouse says that if she had played Granny Weatherwax he would have given even money on Gertie winning.)

                    2. Cyn, a bit more than a decade ago, while out camping in the hills around South Park for a star party, I was near a lightning strike. The ground surge from the strike 50 yards away was enough to knock me down and stun me.

                    3. Yea– it is not fun… I actually was 100 yards from a lightning strike and was reaching for a metal door handle. Zap. Another farmer in the area I grew up was hit (it was a small cloud on a very clear day). It killed him instantly.

                    4. You remember Terry Pratchett’s Conan? lol Well, skinny old man, stripped to the waist, brushing his hair off his shoulders, big hammer in hand. lol

                    5. I DO NOT encourage speculation about my appearance. Nor does my mirror.

                      Thirty some years ago, when still leading a relatively active life (i.e., before blowing out a knee) I am told I was quite decent looking at 6 feet, 160 pounds and with straight sable hair to mid-shoulder blades. The fact that my conversational gambits were … decidedly Odd* … apparently limited my attractiveness to observation only. About all that remains at this late date is the thundering brow.

                      As to lightning striking … Whether the pitcher hits the stone or the stone hits the pitcher …

                      *Beloved Spouse suggests that Odd would have been a step up.

                      A favorite number from A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, appropriate to this discussin:

                    6. Poor lightening!


                      Facts are stubborn things, but not nearly as stubborn as fallacies.*

                      On Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 10:53 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                      > ** > RES commented: “Lightning never strikes me; I strike lightning.” >

              2. Seriously, though, there’s only two places WORSE to attack someone– the kitchen and wherever they keep their tools and cleaning supplies.

                1. Dan says if anyone breaks in, he hopes he does it on a summer day when I’m in the basement doing woodwork. Between the chemicals, the nail gun and more blades than G-d can think of off the top of His head, and chemicals that can dissolve anything, no one will ever find the remains.

                  1. One is told that pathologists and coroners are always lobbying screenplay writers to have an Awesome Coroner Knifefight Scene in the morgue, either against an undead or a serial killer.

                    But year after year, they never get to cut up the bad guys onscreen until the bad guys are already disposed of.

                    1. What’s that I hear? I lovely little market niche saying “Calling all authors! Somebody, anybody, please take my money!”…..

              1. Overhead fan, and a pistol on the toilet tank won’t rust, any steam present is near the top of the room and quickly gets sucked out by the fan. Also the newer polymer guns don’t have a lot of exposed metal.

                1. If I’m still in this house in three years, I’m going to inform the owner that his house is being remodeled and a bathroom fan installed, and he can just shut up and hold the ladder while I get out the hole saw.

          1. I have heard that girls are often attacked in the bathroom in a certain genera of films. Usually after spending a prolonged time sensuously laving themselves.

    2. “Took me a number of hot showers and several trips to the local titty bars to feel whole again.”

      Good man. Everything I know about sex I learned from Frederick Forsyth and Ian Fleming 😉

  11. I am drawn into a discussion about the sociological implications of “Wreck I Ralph.” Who would have guessed?

    It’s entirely possible here that I am defending the movie simply because my family and I quite enjoyed it, so I am looking for it to be positive rather than poisonous. I can sometimes be rational about that–I find Hitchhiker’s Guide hysterical, but I clearly see an atheistic and nihilist philosophy coming through, which I do find poisonous.

    First, consider a couple of the important supporting characters. The “big bad” as somebody pointed out is someone who left his game. But the status quo at the beginning of the movie has the “glitch” as an oppressed outcast. The established game order maintains that she is not allowed to race, even though that’s all she really wants to do. The established order uses her ‘glitchiness’ as part of the reason. With the help of Ralph (and others) she (1) realizes her dream, in spite of the outsider role assigned to her and (2) overturns the oppressive governmental order, which turns out to have a fraudulent foundation. How many governments today oppress individuals, especially those who they know to be a threat to their power? Isn’t it uplifting to show that a commitment to a dream, diligently pursued, might even overcome a tyrannical government? And how many governments really have fraudulent foundations with strongmen dictators, or even with power hungry types creeping into legislatures and universities and trying to overturn the founding agreements? Turbo, the usurping king of the Sugar Rush race game, is an excellent archetype of how communism is trying to work today. Communism came on the scene, was seen as the wave of the future, but eventually was demonstrated to be unable to govern well or without evil, while Turbo was a huge hit early but became obsolete. Rather than going quietly and only being played by vintage-seeking gamers (communes still exist, and people who wish to are welcome to join them as far as I am concerned), Turbo infiltrated a dynamic system and took it over, as communists have been trying to gain the various levers of power (news outlets, educational systems, and legislatures via class warfare techniques). Happy are we that a dynamic, freedom loving racer can topple Turbo, and happy are we that a dynamic, freedom loving people can resist the communist takeover.

    Second, consider the romance between Fix-it Felix and the female commander from the first-person shooter game. There may be more star-crossed lovers in film somewhere, but they have to be up there. Clearly neither of them was willing to settle for their pre-assigned roles when it came to choosing their spouses. Also consider the collective theme that the treatment of Ralph was wrong, and in fact it was society that was in the wrong and needed to change, not Ralph.

    Some characters in Wreck-it Ralph fought against the evil established order and overturned it. Some characters defied the established order and did the right thing for themselves and their loved ones. Ralph himself realized that, having helped these other characters defy the set order, there was actually nothing wrong with who he was, and society needed to change, not him–and you can see how he changed society in the difference of how he is treated.

    1. Um… the Glitch is actually another problem. First, she’s programmed to be the ruler. And she thinks calling it “President” frees her from the oppressive robes and stuff, but while she calls it a “democracy” there is no hint that people can or will vote.

      No, sorry — the plot is well constructed, but it is poisonous.

      1. You are certainly correct in what you point out. It’s more of a legitimate king/queen is kept from the throne kind of story. I’d argue that she was programmed to be the biggest celebrity of a freedom-loving racing society rather than a ruler, but that wouldn’t change the central idea I think you are arguing against that everyone has a proper place in society and fighting against that is wrong. But I still think my point stands–the main theme coming through is not the idea that everyone has a preordained role that the should stick to, but that oppressively maintaining the way things are (Wreck-it Ralph as a feared and oppressed outcast, glitch as a scary wildcard who shouldn’t be allowed to race) at the expense of the individuals who are designated as evil is an evil itself–and that the way things are must be and can be changed.

        I love computing, and I’m a programmer, and I have religious beliefs. If society says I am therefore evil, I must be an Air Force officer because my dad was instead of a computer programmer, and I must believe the different religious beliefs of the socieity, then I need to be Wreck-it Ralph and a glitch. If I overturn the government ala glitch, great. If I discover I did want to join the Air Force and my prior religious beliefs were nutso, well that’s okay too.

        But, okay, I could just be wanting to like the philosophy as well as the movie.

      2. BTW, do I get brownie points for my comparing Turbo to communism? I really liked that part.

        1. um… I don’t have any fresh-baked brownies, so you’ll have to wait. (You do realize now I’ll have to bake brownies when I get home, right? Yep, low carb brownies. Who knew?)

          1. See, after I read that I had to go have lunch. You don’t realize the power of your writing!

  12. Yeek! I’d been wondering about that movie. Well, it’s off my list now.

    But I’ve been wary about most of the recent animated offerings – yeah, I didn’t care much for Nemo, either – the only Pixar I’ve liked is Monsters, Inc. (I will say, after a number of friends insisted, I reluctantly watched “How To Train Your Dragon” and absolutely loved it, so I recommend that one highly.)

    I’m with you on all of this – profanity and sex with no purpose is empty and fake. The WSJ had an interesting article last week about how comedians would tell a joke without the profanity to see if it was really funny – a good joke doesn’t need it (unless, of course, the profanity is the point, like George Carlin’s 7 Words You Can’t Say On the Air.)

    1. I notice the issue with comedians and profanity a lot. I love good stand up, but I have a terrible time finding it. Most is just ugly people saying ugly things in an attempt to be “edgy”. Things can be both offensive and funny – I follow Penny Arcade on a regular basis, and they’ve had several strips where I laughed out loud even though it offended me. There’s no correlation between the two. One of my favorite stand up comedians is a fellow named John Pinette. I had occasion to listen to recordings of several of his shows over the years. In the fifteen years he’s been on the scene, he’s generally gotten cleaner and funnier, and the routines I enjoy the most are usually the cleanest.

    2. That is the ONLY Pixar you’ve ever liked??!!! Have you not seen The Incredibles or Ratatouille?

      I caution that The Incredibles is a favorite film of this Blog’s hostess and many of the commenters, so mention of it is prone to provoking contextless quotes.

      1. Yup – I did think Incredibles was cute and fun, and had some good moments (Edna needs her own series, and the whole movie was worth it for her), but didn’t like it enough to watch twice. I thought Ratatouille was stunningly gorgeous to look at, and had one incredible moment with the food critic, but otherwise was flawed story-wise. (Yes, I’m opinionated. ^_^) Pixar mostly just doesn’t touch my heart the way, say, Bambi does, or Spirited Away, and it’s not because of the 3D, because Monsters and HTTYDragon worked just fine, or, for that matter, so did the wonderful Reboot series.

      2. I love the Incredibles, but Ratatouille made me a little squeamish. When the rats swarm over the closed restaurant I got the “icks.” I don’t know if I put it in GTAC or not, but bear with me, you know these people live in my head ALL the time. When Kyrie tried to show Ratatouille to Tom he saw that scene and got so terribly shocked, that he kept saying “Turn it off, turn it off.” 😛

        Meanwhile younger son has confessed that the little mermaid (rolls eyes) is at the heart of his preference for redheads (rolls eyes harder.)

        1. Hah! I know of a Disney fanatic who openly carries a torch for Belle.

          I have the bad habit of looking past the make-up on the “face” characters at the park to try to figure out how much of their appearance is real and how much is make-up.

      3. Oh, yeah, one of the comments from someone else watching Wreck It Ralph was: “This is sort of like the anti-incredibles” (and it might have been a compliment from who said it.)

      4. I’ve watched several PIXAR movies with Timmy, usually me with my earphones unplugged or turned waaaayyy down. Dreamworks, on the other hand, doesn’t get my attention or my sympathy. Timmy was into “Cars” for awhile, but never got that involved with the sequel. From what I have heard, it’s better that way. BTW, I share your son’s partiality to redheads (married one). I blame my fixation on Maureen O’Hara and Kathryn Hepburn. 8^)

  13. And this, this is the problem that traditional publishing is in. The shock and awe that’s sex or language related pushes you to ever greater extremes, till a lot of novels are indistinguishable from erotica, except for the print on the spine. Which would still be okay, if they weren’t about nothing, essentially. It is that hollowness that cloys.

    And this, as I have said before, is also a result of the credo, “You have to push the boundaries when you do art.” When enough people push the boundary, it moves. When the boundary moves, you have to go farther to push it. Eventually, the boundaries have been pushed completely away, and there is no longer any way to push them. And along the way, people completely forget that the boundaries were there for a reason.

      1. It is also total and complete codswallop. What boundaries did Johann Sebastian Bach, Michelangelo, Franz Liszt, Leonardo or Gilbert & Sullivan push?

        The idea that Art must be transgressive imposes boundaries on the conception of the Artist and must be rejected. The Artist must be free to produce Art that exalts, that reinforces boundaries if that is what the Artistic Vision requires.

        For example, in the Soviet Union it was well recognized that Art which challenged the legitimacy of the Workers’ Paradise was counter-revolutionary and must be suppressed. SOME boundaries are too important to push.

        1. A simple test of who truly believes the art must push boundaries can be produced by presentation of a series of doormats, each with a representation of recent political figures and symbols, e.g., George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Harold Washington (with or without frilly lingerie), Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, the American flag, arrayed in such manner that a visitor to the exhibit must step on one or more to pass through. Wire each mat to record the number of people stepping on it, the pressure and length of time of each passage, with the results graphically expressed in real-time at the installation.

          Note, particularly, which person object to the inclusion of certain political figures (for an international flavour we could add Winston Churchill, Maggie Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Fidel Castro, Che Gievera and Hugo Chavez … maybe put in John Paul II and Usama bin Laden as well) and how vociferously.

        2. I just found out I have some boundaries I can’t even approach. There are things that are sacred to me. I suppose establishment people would say I’m a hack. Eh.

          1. As they did and still do about RAH, so wear the label in good company. Robert stated publicly many a time that he wrote to pay the bills and put food on the table. He considered himself at best a craftsman, and seriously lucky to have a trade he could still perform given his health.

          1. I long appreciated the view expressed by Michael Flanders & Donald Swann from their introduction to their revue “At the Drop of Another Hat” where they say (paraphrased roughly as memory is vague) as:

            … the role of satire is to strip away the thin veneer of civilization; our job, as we see it, is to restore it.

            A sample of their oeuvre:

            Those unfamiliar with these two will do themselves well to poke about for some of their other works, such as “First and Second Law,” “The Gasman Cometh,” “The Hippopotamus Song,” “The War of 14-18” and “Ill Wind.”

            Those familiar with Flanders & Swann will want to be aware of their contemporary parodists, “Brabbins and Fyffe.”

          2. I was lucky enough to attend a performance of “The Gondoliers” in Sidney, Australia that took place during a series of government (national and regional) scandals. The cast did a beautiful job working everything into the songs and plot.

        3. Gilbert & Sullivan poked fun at people, especially people they considered “stuffed shirts”. They didn’t use names, but it isn’t hard to determine what they were doing if you’re familiar with the history of the period, and the ideas in vogue at the time. They had a great time picking at the British “upper crust”, both inherited and “earned” positions. There are a few operas and operettas based upon the same basic idea: Figaro, Carmen, the Bartered Bride, and many others. Personally, I follow the tenets of the Lord High Executioner in “The Mikado” — I’ve got a little list… 8^)

        4. RES, I agree with what I take to be the point that to define art as pushing boundaries is to miss the point. But I’m not sure about your examples. Of the examples, the one that I know the most about is Bach. To me his Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue seems pretty far out there compared to the work of his contemporaries. Bach is famous for other noodling around with well-temperedness as well. The difference between that and various misbegotten twentieth century experiments with scales seems to me not that Bach didn’t push boundaries, but that when he did he was constrained by doing it in service of art. Pushing boundaries as part of an exercise in tailoring for emperors isn’t artistic no matter how stubbornly the claque claims that it is.

          Admittedly shocking people with jarringly new styles is not the same in all respects as shocking people by signing a urinal, but I don’t think the pottyness of the urinal was as important as the point of colluding to praise aimlessness. How fundamentally different is it to sign one’s name to a composition of such-and-such-many seconds of silence and to sign one’s name to a sculpture which is a found mass-produced object?

    1. It’s almost (maybe in some areas over) the point where to be edgy, you need to start pushing the boundaries the other direction.

      On Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 1:32 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

      > ** > Wayne Blackburn commented: “And this, this is the problem that > traditional publishing is in. The shock and awe thats sex or language > related pushes you to ever greater extremes, till a lot of novels are > indistinguishable from erotica, except for the print on the spine. Which > wou” >

      1. Ah, but that gets the Vile Progs REALLY worked up.

        Of course, that is, perhaps, a feature, not a bug. But you better do it Indie.

  14. Curses. I just wrote a really long response that the site deleted because it required me to login…Grr…

    Well, let me try to re-write it. First, I just finished reading Draw One in the Dark over the weekend and really enjoyed it. Thanks! It was my first read of one of your books, and I will definitely check out others. Any recommendations?

    Second, I also saw Wreck-it Ralph for the first time over the weekend, and I came away with a take similar to Jeff Mauldin’s. For the sake of transparency, I am 28 years old, and a lifetime gamer, so I appreciated the many, many inside jokes written in this movie for the sake of my generation.

    I disagree with Sarah about this film promoting a “Stay in your role, don’t dream” mentality. Instead, I think it may be attempting to promote a type of ontological virtue ethics. This type of virtue system asserts that the most virtuous action that can be performed is one that accords with one’s design. Thus, a hammer is being virtuous when it pounds nails. Christianity is a type of this virtue system, in that it asserts that the chief purpose of humanity is to glorify God, and assigns virtue or lack thereof based on how much/little a person does that. In the movie, Ralph was created to be the antagonist of a video game, which itself was created to provide entertainment (and advanced hand-eye coordination) to people in the real world. This is important because for a video game to make any sense, there must be an antagonist. This is shown in the movie in the sequence where it is first discovered that Ralph has disappeared. The actions of the hero make no sense except in response to the actions of the antagonist, and the game becomes ridiculous. The support group shown at the beginning of the film has a motto that states “I’m bad, and that’s good….” This motto is not attempting to assert that morality is relative, but instead to show that there is virtue in fulfilling one’s created purpose. Tellingly, Zangief (the big Russian wrestler) says “Just because I am bad guy, does not mean I am bad guy.” There is a semantic misunderstanding that could happen in this sentence, and more properly it could be expressed “Just because I am the antagonist, does not mean that I am an immoral/worthless person.” Instead, the video game villains and their actions are a crucial component in the success of the overall system. Thus, virtue is ascribed to them through their villainous actions. The problem is that their society does not necessarily recognize them as such.

    This brings me to my next point. Ralph’s disaffection at the beginning of the film is not aimed at the role in which he is cast specifically, but at the circumstances that his community has thrust upon him as a result of that role. He lives in a dump, is a social outcast, has no true friends, etc. In a world that portrays video game characters as actors in a performance, Ralph’s community treats him as if his villainous actions are his real self. This is akin to us treating James Earl Jones as if he were really Darth Vader. Ralph is not particularly interested in undergoing a hero’s journey (though he does), but is instead interested in changing his circumstances and the way he is perceived by his community (which he achieves beyond his initial expectations). By the end of the film, he has a new home, is socially accepted and has gained at least one true friend, all of which he achieves by bucking his society’s norms and taking great risks. His actions result not only in him achieving his desired goals, but also in improving the quality of life of many of the other characters in the film. His resettlement in his role as antagonist is not capitulation, but realization that his ontological purpose did not mean that he could not also have the good things that he wanted out of life.

    All that being said, I was also extremely annoyed by the ten minutes of potty “humor” in the film. I find it disturbing that material like this is so expected in films targeted to children. I have been subjected to many animated films over the past few years, and almost all of them have this kind of “humor,” which is low-brow, stupid and must be crafted by adults who think very little of the intellectual capability of children.

    1. Gentleman Takes A Chance is a sequel to DOITD, and Noah’s Boy is coming out in July. There’s also the books on the left of the blog if you scroll down.

      My son is 21, so I don’t think age is a big deal. (And the current gaming obsession for both boys is minecraft. As for me, I played Gallaga (sp?) and a bunch of other things, being an arcade rat.)

      I still think you like the story — as I said, it is well crafted — and are immunized to the message, so you won’t see how it would affect someone much younger. (I’m good at seeing this because I grew up under a barrage of Marxist propaganda. Okay, you could also say I’m OVER sensitized. Don’t make me tap my foot at you, young man! er lady… er… whichever fits)

      1. That is entirely possible. I see much better now how the films I saw as a child shaped my worldview (TMNT got me into punk rock and martial arts), and so it is likely that my enjoyment of the story is blinding me to a message that I will see much better in the future.

        Still, I do think it important to note that Ralph improves his life by taking direct action and responsibility for his circumstances. He does not wait for the programmers (or the video game government? They have security, so they must have laws?) to come back and make things better for him.

      2. “There’s also the books on the left of the blog if you scroll down.”

        Hold your hands up in front of you, with your thumb pointing out to the side and your index finger pointing at the roof. As long as you aren’t hanging upside down like a bat the one that makes an L is your left hand.

  15. What bothered me about Wreck it Ralph was the Sugar-Rush world. I felt like I need to be checked for cavities after the movie and I love sweets.

  16. Frankly, I’m wondering how anyone can rip apart _Wreck-It Ralph_ for its “message”, and at the same time think _The Incredibles_ has a better message (“some people are inherently better than others; and anyone who attempts to ‘level the playing field’ is Evil”; granted, knowing Humanity like I do, allowing The Masses access to superheroic powers is the equivalent of letting a baby play with a blowtorch…).

    Sex in stories: I made the mistake of taking a college Writers’ Workshop class; one of the multiple occasions I nearly got thrown out was the result of a 30-minute ripsnorter between myself and a person who’d included a description of a female in a high hemline removing her undergarments “because every story has to have a sex-tease in it”.

    Profanity, and The Use Thereof: TVTropes covers this on a couple of pages (not surprisingly, NSFW 🙂 ):

    and Roger Ebert’s Little Movie Glossary coined the term “Mamet Dammit” (profanity included for its own sake — apparently, David Mamet is infamous for this).

    1. I think what you’ve done is twist the messgage of The Incredibles, which to me played like an extension of Harrison Bergeron. It was saying “Some people are better at certain things than others, and it generally creates an injustice when we do not let them excel”.

      1. Yep. I also think that “some people are better than others at certain things” is a fact of life. To confuse that with “stay where you were born” is the error of the French Revolution and its successors. I meant to answer but it was late at night, and this morning I THINK I might be a zombie.

    2. Well, Ebert is an ass but that’s not news. Mamet’s dialogue is high art. No one else has me on the edge of my seat listening to every word and listening to the rhythm of the dialogue.

      1. If you think Mamet’s including profanity for the sake of having profanity, clearly you don’t understand what Mamet is doing and have no business reviewing him. It is on a par with disparaging Citizen Kane for all the peculiar camera shots distracting from the story.

        I find Stoppard a playwright whose every word is honed to a fine edge, but the list of such writers is short indeed.

  17. I apologize for not adding my snark to the comments for the last few days. I have been dealing with a pinched nerve in my right hip. It has been agonizing. So I just thought I’d drop in before I drop out again.

    1. Thx My doctor suggested a chiropractor because I can’t take ibuprofen (kidney problems from the disease). So I am looking for one here. As for the rest, I lie down when I start hurting. It isn’t as bad as it was a on Tuesday. I was screaming then. — thanks for the good wishes.

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