It’s Thursday, so it’s time for some questions from the big damn writer question box!
Month: January 2018
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Before we begin, I thought I should mention that when I took my hiatus to tech a show, it’s a show directed by someone who actually did work for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.
And I wear show blacks. Although, technically they’re just black leggings and a black dress because I’m a dresser and not climbing up scaffolding or anything like that.
Still, I thought you would all appreciate that.
Also, for our next selection, it’s gonna be a book about a writer who wins the lottery.
Heads up, there’s a racial slur in this recap and an examination of why Sarem feels she’s special and gets to use it.
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Since there hasn’t been an update to this story since last year (ha ha, get it, because it’s January now?), you can refresh your memory or jump in for the first time with part one, part two, part three, and part four.
I also apologize in advance for my horrible poetry from 2007, which you will be subjected to in this installment. Please still respect me once you know how terrible I am at it.
Hark, all ye citizens of Trout Nation! There won’t be posts this week because I’m not only hard at work on the next Ian and Penny novels, but I’m also knee deep in tech week for Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery at the Kalamazoo Civic Theater. I’m a dresser (a person who stands backstage and helps actors change their clothes quickly), and that’s a big job on this show, where five actors play forty characters!
If you’re in the Kalamazoo area, I highly encourage you to come check out the show. It’s funny and farcical and I’m snort-laughing backstage every night. For tickets and more information, please visit here.
Next week there’ll be another installment of The Worst Person I’ve Ever Met, as well as True Blood Tuesday, Handbook For Mortals, and hopefully a Big Damn Rewatch post.
In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone will burn herself out on her “New Year, New Me” plan in about two hours. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:
- Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
- Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
- Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
- Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
- Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
- The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
- All the monsters look like wieners.
- If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
- Angel is a dick.
- Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
- Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
- Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
- Science and technology are not to be trusted.
- Mental illness is stigmatized.
- Only Willow can use a computer.
- Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
- Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
- Oz is the Anti-Xander
- Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
- Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.
- The foreshadowing on this show is freaking amazing.
- Smoking is evil.
- Despite praise for its positive portrayal of non-straight sexualities, some of this shit is homophobic as fuck.
- How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?
- Technology is used inconsistently as per its convenience in the script.
- Sunnydale residents are no longer shocked by supernatural attacks.
- Casual rape dismissal/victim blaming a-go-go
- Snyder believes Buffy is a demon or other evil entity.
- The Scoobies kind of help turn Jonathan into a bad guy.
- This show caters to the straight/bi female gaze like whoa.
- Sunnydale General is the worst hospital in the world.
- Faith is hyper-sexualized needlessly.
- Slut shame!
- The Watchers have no fucking clue what they’re doing.
- Vampire bites, even very brief ones, are 99.8% fatal.
- Economic inequality is humorized and oversimplified.
- Buffy is an abusive romantic partner.
- Riley is the worst.
- Joss Whedon has a problem with fat people.
- Spike is an abusive romantic partner.
- Why are all these men so terrible?
Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments. Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.
WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it.
Jealous Hater Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 11 “The Devil” or “Readers’ Digest Condensed Boring Parts”
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All has been quiet on the Actual Las Vegas Former Olympian front. Let’s keep it that way, dear, now that you know that Trout Nation can smell your pathetic lies from seven miles below the bowels of hell.
Speaking of hell, even though this chapter is titled “The Devil,” Sofiaie is not included in it. There is, however, mention of the sexual and physical abuse in Fifty Shades Of Grey in this recap, so heads up.
Aaaand we’re back. And the show is as sexist as ever.
Here’s the file. Hit play when the HBO sound and logo fade.
In 1988, I didn’t see families like mine on television.
No, I’m not talking about white families. I saw white families on T.V. all the time. Family Ties, The Hogans, Growing Pains, Who’s The Boss, sitcoms that didn’t depict the ideal middle-class white experience were few and far between. As a child, I knew T.V. wasn’t real, but I also knew that these kinds of lives existed. Out there in the wide world, a family like the Seavers contended with the problems of juggling their father’s in-home psychiatric practice and their mother’s television news career. Some busy and successful single mom just had to be out there looking to hire a hunky live-in housekeeper to clean her already immaculate home. There were just too many people on the planet for that to not be happening. It just wasn’t happening in my family.
My family didn’t worry about the things television families worried about. Problems I was having with kids at my rural Michigan school were rarely met with tidy, thoughtful advice dispensed in a gentle, heartfelt conversation that made me feel better. Not because no one cared about me but because there simply wasn’t time between the two jobs my grandfather worked, my mom’s nightshifts at a printing factory and her day shifts at college, and the overwhelming burden of not just childcare for me, but home care for the entire family that fell to my grandmother. When I compared the slick, modern interior of Charles In Charge to our crumbling farmhouse–where pieces of the wall regularly chipped off and fell into the bathtub while I bathed in shared water to avoid filling up the septic tank–I felt a deep sense of wrongness about how we should be living.
The more I thought about it–and since I spent most days from four in the afternoon to nine at night watching a small black-and-white set on the kitchen table in my grandmother’s kitchen I had plenty of time to analyze this–the more I began to realize that the things that happened in my house weren’t the things happening in other houses. I became convinced that our lives and experiences were somehow bad, and therefore not worthy of consumption by a live studio audience. “We” weren’t on television because “we” weren’t acceptable. I started to resent the people on T.V., even though I knew they were fake. I started to resent my own family. I started to despair.
Then, something absolutely magical happened. It started with a few shrill, plaintive notes from a harmonica and a revolving camera shot around a crowded dinner table. The mom was fat and loud and unglamorous. The dad was jolly and loving, but he radiated worry. The kids weren’t wearing the latest fashions. No one was slick and polished. Their furniture was ugly, their kitchen had dishes in the sink, and my god, the green shag carpeting. They were living in a crowded bungalow, with people walking in and out at all hours without knocking. You could see their laundry, even when it wasn’t a plot point, and there were sometimes toys or backpacks on the stairs.
They looked like us.
To say I absolutely craved Roseanne would be an understatement. The show ran after my bedtime, but after much pleading, I received a stay of execution on Tuesday nights only. And I lived for Tuesday. I loved watching Dan and Roseanne fight–not argue, fight–knowing that they still cared about each other the way my grandparents still cared about each other even when they reached screaming levels of frustration. When Becky farted during her student council speech, I was mortified right along with her, while being as gleeful as Darlene. I can still remember how perfectly Sara Gilbert’s eyebrows arched into devilish triangles as she delivered, “Becky. Cut. The cheese.” I can remember her voice.
So many of the Conner family values were things I’d already learned in my own working class home. Treat others the way you want to be treated, but don’t let them walk over you. Speak your mind. Be grateful for what you have, because other people are struggling, too. And, long before any other influence reached me, Sandra Bernhard’s Nancy was a blueprint for my own queerness, despite admitted flaws in her representation.
Roseanne made me feel like I was worth something. Like my family was worth something. Like we were real.
I didn’t pay much attention at the time to the antics of Roseanne née Barr, née Arnold. She was always in the press, doing something controversial. I did wear out a VHS copy of her movie, She-Devil, a more outré attack on the patriarchy and the out-of-touch upper class than Roseanne had the luxury of being on network television. But Roseanne the actress and Roseanne Conner were two separate entities in my mind.
Would that they could have stayed that way.
In recent years, Roseanne the “Domestic Goddess” with her socially progressive television message has become Roseanne the overtly transphobic, outspoken Trump supporter spewing vitriol against Hillary Clinton and Palestine, retweeting anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and claims that Roy Moore’s accusers are all paid liars. She is, well…
She is exactly who Roseanne Conner probably would have become, were she a real person.
The Conners represented a very real slice of the population: blue-collar white Democrats who clawed through Reagan’s recession and the Bush, Sr. years, who knew exactly who to blame for their economic woes, who welcomed the new age of Clintonian prosperity and peace. Granted, some of them cheerfully voted for Bush the younger based on his folksy everyman persona, but many of the same people opposed his war, knowing it would be their children on the front lines, fighting not for freedom but for the wealthy.
Then came Barack Obama.
I don’t know much about Roseanne Barr’s political views before a black man ran for president, but I certainly know what they were afterward. Barr, now staunchly anti-Clinton if her Twitter timeline can be trusted as a barometer, lashed out at both Obama and Oprah in 2008, just before the former president clinched the Democratic nomination. She condemned Oprah for playing the “race card” and accused her of hating other women. Barack Obama, she alleged, was a racist capitalist with no plan for his presidency, who would condemn us to a McCain victory. McCain didn’t escape her ire unscathed; she branded him a fascist. Roseanne Barr saw white supremacy challenged, just as the white liberal working class who once worshipped her saw it challenged, and like Barr, they tossed the principles they previously claimed to hold directly into the garbage.
Like so many white women at the time, Barr embraced the narrative that a vote for Obama was a vote for the patriarchy. Some of the same Baby Boomers who often bragged about their social justice activism in their college days, who credited their generation with “solving” racism, saw an attractive chance to uphold the status quo by supporting a white woman over a black man and branding it the only true progress. With Fox News to stoke their paranoia and the new phenomenon of social media uniting them, they were able to convince themselves that white supremacy was righteous–but certainly not racist–and that they alone could save America through dubious “news” blogs and loud insistence that “common sense” drove their political views and not something far more insidious. When Clinton lost the Democratic primary, the GOP swooped in with tough-talking, gun-toting Mama Palin to be their “strong, independent woman”, and there was no turning back.
These people were the Conners, the Dans and Roseannes and Jackies trying to survive outside of the Family Ties mold. They became the America Roseanne resisted all those years ago; the crowd that cheered a same-sex kiss now floods their Facebook timeline with rants about gay wedding cakes. The people who grieved the loss of Lanford Custom Cycle and nodded sympathetically when the power company shut the Conners’ lights off now would view the same family as deadbeats who created their own problems, rather than victims of a grinding capitalist trickle-down machine. They can do this because they’ve rewritten history to suit themselves. “I bought a house when I was twenty.” “I never got a handout from anyone.” “I didn’t go to college, I worked for a living.” All of this conveniently ignores that houses cost considerably less in 1975, that a college education wasn’t more expensive than one of those houses at the time, and that jobs that didn’t require a bachelor’s degree were plentiful. Adjusted for 2017 inflation, the 1988 Conners are the “lazy” generation that accrued mountains of student loans, worked unpaid for “experience”, and don’t have three kids because even owning a hamster is too much of a financial commitment. They are the people that their original audience now despises.
Now, Roseanne is set to return in the spring of 2018. The viewers who once cheered when Dan was arrested mid-KFC bucket for beating up Jackie’s abusive boyfriend will switch channels from Fox News’s nightly explanation of why women who are raped are merely overreacting. As the winter snows melt all around their tattered Trump yard signs, they’ll settle into some welcome working class nostalgia. They will be reunited with the Conner family, though which version of the Conners is still uncertain. With Dan having been retroactively killed off via voiceover in the show’s finale and a bonkers plot twist that saw the Conners become instant millionaires, it seems unlikely that the family we bid farewell to in 1997 will return without any retconning in the writers’ room. But will the show depict the sad reality of what its eponymous star has become? Will audiences be asked to ignore the fact that the characters we once loved would have inevitably slid into full-tilt Birtherism and Pizza Gate conspiracies? Or will the reboot become a bullhorn to amplify its star’s wild cries of liberal intolerance and public embrace of an actual fascist, the way it once served as a platform for progressive ideals?
I don’t feel I can support the reboot, or, sadly, the cast, who’ve all agreed to return to work with a woman who spends her days promoting alt-right hate under the guise of centrism and reasonable discourse. I certainly don’t feel like I can trust the Conners; like several of my own family members who stubbornly vote for the hand that holds them down time and again–for reasons having nothing to do with white supremacy, of course–the love I once felt for them has become tainted to the point of sorrow. Too many of us who grew up on Roseanne have seen parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles follow the same twisted path that Roseanne Barr continues to forge. What could the show possibly offer us now? We don’t want to see D.J. opine about ethics in games journalism. We don’t want to sit through a TERF-y rant from Nancy or hear about how Becky can’t get a promotion due to affirmative action. Yet time has proven that this is the natural progression of Roseanne Conners everywhere, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that the Connors who felt so real in 1988 would be nothing but a fairytale in 2018.