Thursday, January 11, 2018

Why The Stan Lee Accusation Matters

Pretty much everyone who knows anything about so-called "Pop Culture" over the last 50 years knows who Stan "The Man" Lee is. Born Stanley Martin Lieber, he got into writing for comic books at a fairly young age. From his very humble beginnings at Timely Comics (the precursor to what would by the early 60s be known as Marvel Comics), where he was basically a "go-fer", getting people's lunches, erasing excess pencil-work from daily art sheets, making sure ink wells were full for artists, etc, he eventually got a chance to realize his life-long ambition to be a writer, working on a story for Captain America #3, published in May 1941. He would go on to be a writer for several of the early proto-Marvel "Golden Age" heroes, including Captain America, Prince Namor the "Submariner", and the original android Human Torch. He also created such characters as The Destroyer and Jack Frost (essentially a proto-Iceman).

By late 1941, at the tender age of 19, due to industry giants (and co-creators of Captain America) Joe Simon and Jack Kirby leaving, Lee was made the editor of Timely Comics, a post he go on to more or less hold until 1972. He joined the Army in 1942, doing mostly repair work before eventually becoming one of a handful of individuals given the designation of "Playwright". After WWII, he returned to Timely, which would by the 1950s become known as Atlas Comics. Unfortunately, during the 50s "McCarthy Era", comic books came under serious attack due to being deemed "harmful" to children's minds (essentially what they said about rock music as well), most superhero comics fell by the wayside. While DC Comics somehow managed to "Soften" their biggest iconic heroes Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, which all continued to publish throughout the decade, Atlas Comics did away with all of their heroes, which meant Stan was left writing a wide variety of "non-harmful" types of stories, such as romance, science fiction, westerns, war stories, mysteries, etc.

By 1961, he had become depressed and disenchanted with comic work, finding it creatively stifling and unsatisfying. Lee has in the past credited his wife Joan, as the one who convinced him, before he quit, to write "one comic you'd be proud of". So no longer caring a bout the still-lingering ban on superhero comics, Lee created what would become known as "The Fantastic Four", the first official superhero comic of the newly named Marvel Comics. This was an instant hit, and Marvel encouraged him to make other new heroes, so over the course of the next few years, Lee (along with several artists), became a one-man creative powerhouse, giving birth to the likes of Spider-Man, Iron Man, Ant Man, The Hulk, The Mighty Thor, The X-Men, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, and more. He created some of the industry's first and most popular female superheroes, like The Invisible Girl, The Wasp, Black Widow, The Scarlet Witch, Marvel Girl (Jean Grey), and Medusa and Crystal of the Inhumans. He also created the first two major black comic superheroes, in the form of African prince The Black Panther, and Harlem vigilante The Falcon. He continued writing comics regularly until near the mid-70s, by which point he became more involved in developing certain Marvel properties for television.

Most of this was started by one man.

Now, why is all of  that important to know? The easy answer is to give you proper background and understanding of the man. His dream was to be a novelist, which is why he chose the pseudonym "Stan Lee" when he started writing comic books, because he wanted to reserve his real name for "serious work". He never did get around to that "serious work", instead becoming one of the founding fathers of the comics industry. Where he was once slightly embarrassed due to the stigma associated with it, to admit to people that he wrote comics, as it was not seen as a "real job" and comics were seen as trash, he eventually embraced his place in the world, and even took the name "Stan Lee" legally. Today, he is one of the most well known and beloved "Pop Culture" icons in the world, and responsible for most of the top beloved characters people spend billions of dollars to see movies of every year.

And then, at the ripe age of 95 years old, having just lost his wife of SEVENTY years to a stroke in 2017, suddenly "allegations" surface that old, infirm Stan Lee, old and frail enough to apparently need at-home nurses, that Mr. Lee was allegedly "groping and otherwise harassing" said nurses. And, in the new "Guilty Until Proven Innocent" climate we've created, suddenly social media dogpiles the man. Everyone is immediately CERTAIN that they "weren't surprised he'd do something like that". A man whom millions claim to love, suddenly becomes vilified online, with people just automatically believing that he MUST be guilty, that he's a sexual predator, a misogynist, basically a monster. You even have tons of people flat out stating they wished that when they saw his name "trending" on social media, that it was because he had DIED, rather than these "groping" allegations, which are of course "So Much Worse". You also had a sizable amount of folks proclaiming their worry, NOT for this man's honor and reputation, but that these allegations might somehow "hurt the box office" of the upcoming Black Panther film. Yes, there are people SO invested in the success of the "first big budget black superhero film" (It's Not), that they care more about THAT, than they do the good name of the very LEGEND WHO CREATED THE CHARACTER.

That is how far gone our society, Identity Politics, and this toxic "Believe Women" culture has gotten. The wildfire of accusations to prominent male celebrities and entertainers (almost entirely white and of course, heterosexual), spreads almost out of control. And in the midst of it all, MOST people seem to just blindly, unthinkingly, immediately believe that EVERY single accusation must be the 100% truth, and that EACH man who is accused, is Automatically Guilty. The fact that SOME accusations might be bullshit, that SOME of these men, many of whom loudly proclaim their own innocence, doesn't seem to phase, let alone occur to most Americans on social media. And that is both disturbing, and terrifying.

His partner of 70 years.

As the title of this article postulates, WHY this Stan Lee accusation matters, is complex. But the first and most important reason is this: While everyone seems to be automatically jumping to the conclusion that it MUST be true, the fact of the matter is, the so-called "Source" of this leaked accusation, comes from none other than The Daily Mail, a notorious smut rag, also known as a "Tabloid". A "news outlet" that deals in trashy stories, most of which are complete and utter garbage. An outlet that ALSO, amongst other things, offers its readers regular chances to "see female celebrities nude/topless", in what are either outright faked images, or non-consensual paparazzi photos. It matters, because the alleged "source" is anonymous, the alleged nursing company is anonymous, and not a SINGLE nurse that has supposedly levied these complaints and claims against Mr. Lee, has been named. Zero official or police reports have been filed, zero charges made. What we DO have to go on, however, as pointed out in this articulate and level-headed AV Club article (written by a woman), is that Mr. Lee, through his lawyers, have claimed that a former nursing firm which he employed, has been trying to get money out of him via threats of these "allegations", and since he refused to give them a dime, they "went public" with it. Not to the New York Times, or the Wall Street Journal, or hell, even FOX NEWS. Nope, they "went public", without naming themselves OR the supposed accusers, to the lowest rung on the "news" ladder, The Daily Fucking Mail.

And WHY this accusation, and ALL of this information, is important, is because regardless of the veracity of the "source", regardless of the extremely dubious nature of the "news outlet" that leaked the story, the fact is, SO many people, women AND men, were immediately ready to believe that Stan Lee is guilty. No details needed, no facts need be confirmed, no self-defense on his part necessary. Just, open and shut, he's a straight white (never mind that he's Jewish) male, he was SUPPOSEDLY accused of sexual deviancy, he MUST be Automatically Guilty. And THAT is the problem. Not that a 95 year old man MAY have grabbed a handful of some nurse's ass. If he DID, that ISN'T ok, and it WOULD be wrong, though there are far worse things in the world. But that isn't the issue here.

The ISSUE, is that regardless of the FACTS, which most people gleefully not merely choose to ignore, but do not even bother to PURSUE for themselves at all, you have literally millions of people sitting on social media, waiting like so many salivating vultures, for the NEXT man to be proclaimed guilty in what has become the "Court of Public Opinion". It isn't even necessary to have a trial anymore. It isn't necessary to PROVE that someone did something wrong, that they are ACTUALLY guilty. It doesn't matter if they're completely INNOCENT, and the mere existence of an allegation is going to completely destroy their career and their life. What matters is that the general, most especially social media prowling public, is SO ready to believe that ANY (straight) man could be a disgusting, harassing, assaulting, raping monster, that the very second even an allegation as utterly VAGUE and questionable as this issue with Stan Lee drops, they are ready to pounce on it like lions awaiting their next meal.

Not So Blind After All...

A question I'd like to ask, to all of those who were/are so very willing to believe that a man like Stan Lee would do this, and are so ready to think "of COURSE he's guilty", is, simply put: "What would you do?" What would any of YOU do, male OR female, if you were suddenly blindsided by accusations that you KNEW to be false, you KNEW you were innocent, but the REST of the world is automatically ready to not only assume, but to PROCLAIM your Obvious Guilt? What if you were immediately assumed guilty of something, which cost you your job, your connections, your endorsements, any projects or prospects you may have had, or WILL have in the future, all on someone's word, and public opinion? No court, no trial, no "Delivery of Justice". Just You're Accused = You're Guilty. Period.

How would Stan Lee's wife of 70 years feel, he person who knew him best and his biggest supporter, to suddenly see her husband's name dragged through the mud? How is his daughter, or ANY of his surviving family and friends, supposed to feel? Do you expect that THEY should also all automatically assume he's guilty and a monster? Or do you expect that they should do what ANY good family and friends who actually CARE about someone, would do, and stand BY him, and believe when he says that he didn't do it, that he DIDN'T DO IT? The problem we're facing, is that in people's zealousness to root out the very real and longstanding issue of harassment and assault in the entertainment industry, people have adopted this ignorant mentality that EVERY man who is accused, even if that's ALL it is, is a vague and baseless accusation, IS guilty, regardless of whether he actually IS guilty or not. To many, it doesn't even MATTER if a man is guilty, because as I've seen it stated many times, "I have no problem with innocent men suffering, if it means that more women are safe." 

I hate to break it to feminists and so-called "Social Justice Warriors", but that statement does NOT represent Equality OR Justice, at all. The very fact that if a woman was met with accusations like this, that she would either immediately be assume to be innocent, or worse, that it would likely be hypocritically dismissed, is not lost in this situation. If, just as a hypothetical example, let's say actress Betty White was levied with the EXACT same accusations, that she groped and harassed nurses, even MALE nurses. Would you like to take a guess at what public opinion and reaction of that exact same scenario, with the genders reversed, would be? I can't of course state for a fact, but I DO feel pretty damn confident in guessing that she would NOT be vilified at all. If anything, people would probably laugh at it, saying something like "Oh yeah, I could see Betty White doing something like that, dirty old lady!" Or perhaps "C'mon man, she's old, let her have her fun before she goes!" And regardless of exact public reaction, I could almost guarantee that it would not be taken very seriously, and would NOT be faced with the same level of social media hostility and ugliness that Stan Lee's accusation has been. And that, dear readers, is complete and utter hypocritical bullshit.

Ready for the next burning.

Honestly, just putting myself out here, as I did a couple days ago when this "news" first leaked, to dare, to have the AUDACITY to defend Stan Lee's legacy, and his honor, could be damaging to me in a very real way. For instance, as a writer, a writer who is writing novels and looking to finally get published, hopefully sooner than later, I am fully aware that in today's climate, I could very realistically be endangering my ability to even GET a literary agent. Why do I say that? Because the reality today, is that I am a (straight) male, and by virtue of my even publicly speaking OUT in favor of Mr. Lee, let alone writing an entire thought-out article trying to DEFEND him, and to DECRY this mob mentality of "Automatic Guilt Based on Gender",  I am risking what is tantamount to a form of "Guilt By Association". Many agents, or publishers, could see that I am someone publicly DEFENDING a man who has been accused of sexual misconduct, period, and say to themselves "I'm not going to work with THAT kind of person".

Because that is what this is all about. Stan Lee, by merely BEING accused, regardless of his very probable (in light of known facts) innocence, is automatically assumed by the greater public to now be a monster, and I, as one of the VERY few having the audacity (or if you'd prefer, "brass") to publicly defend him, am then guilt of at the VERY least being seen as somewhat "Monster-Adjacent". The problem with Mob Mentality and Group Think, is that if you dare to go AGAINST the Mob, if you dare to think for yourself and go AGAINST the Group, you're automatically a monster. People that once "liked" or "supported" you, can and will, on a dime, turn on you and act like your worst enemy, or block you from their lives.

And that is what Mr. Lee is in danger of, as well. Even if he is able to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, publicly, that he absolutely DIDN'T grope or harass anyone, the damage, as they say, may well have already been done. Many of the people who were ready to rabidly pounce on the idea that he is a"Sexual Predator", even IF they just moments before considered him a great and beloved person, are liable to CONTINUE thinking ill of him, regardless of proven Innocence. And part of that, is due to this notion of "Believe All Women". The dual implications of which being, that first and foremost, ALL women are, at ALL times, honest and truthful and trustworthy, and they would NEVER be dishonest, or conniving, or have ANY sort of malicious or harmful intent behind levying accusations at anyone. Or as I have alternately had it explained to me by many, "These women have no reason to lie". Except that EVERYONE can, will, and DOES lie. The implication is also that all women are automatically innocent and helpless victims, who could only ever be RISKING themselves by accusing a man of mistreatment. The REVERSE implication, of course, is that ALL men are Automatically Guilty of any possible accusations, regardless of burden of proof, regardless of the alleged Rule of Law. Law doesn't even often enter into the situation in this new climate. It is, rather, Public Opinion, swayed heavily by Social Media, which proclaims a man Guilty. And by these public "rulings", men have lost their jobs, and their reputations and lives are essentially destroyed, even if they in reality did nothing wrong.

The very ASSUMPTION that, purely based on gender, women are Automatically Innocent and Honest, and men are Automatically Guilty and not only disturbing and scary, it's also very frustrating and angering. I do not, and HAVE never, assumed that there aren't SOME men in the entertainment industry, in so-called "Positions of Power", who ARE in fact predators and monsters. Harvey Weinstein, after all, was fairly easy to believe being a piece of human garbage. And for the record, as if I need to continue stating it, I HATE the existence of sexual legitimate sexual harassment and assault. I HATE that any women are ever abused or victimized. To me, it not only violates the person, it violates what I believe is supposed to be the SACREDNESS of human intimacy and sexuality. The very existence of abuse, much less RAPE, makes me sick to my stomach. But that doesn't mean that I, not only as a MAN, but as a free and independent thinking HUMAN BEING, am going to blindly believe that EVERY man, or every PERSON, who gets accused of something, is Automatically Guilty. The very idea is Intellectually Bankrupt, and shows not only a dismissal of value for actual Equality and Justice, but quite frankly, an open disdain for it. Assuming a person is Automatically Guilty of ANYTHING, let alone based on the simple fact of something as arbitrary and uncontrollable as skin color, or gender, is in point of fact, a MOCKERY of so-called "Justice".

Still a Legend.

Now, if it weren't obvious, I would like to wrap this article up by stating that, yes, I personally consider Stan Lee to be Innocent, and these accusations against him to be Complete Bullshit. Does that somehow make me a "BAD PERSON", for standing up for one of my childhood heroes, and having the audacity to proclaim that until PROVEN otherwise, that he is, as far as I'm concerned, Innocent? Fuck no, it doesn't! Am I willing to put myself in the public crossfire, and as previously stated, possibly even do some damage to my OWN reputation and future prospects, to defend the man and his honor? Obviously, I am.

It bothers me QUITE a bit, that all it takes is one accusation, and to apparently a great many, that's all it takes. A man they once loved and admired, now automatically a piece of human garbage, regardless of proof. The fact that someone would actually say that they'd rather Stan Lee be DEAD, than to merely be ACCUSED of such a thing, because the obvious implication is that Accusation = Guilt. The fact that, even if he IS innocent, for many, this is all it takes to permanently tarnish his image and reputation, in the mind of someone who doesn't bother taking the time to consider actual facts and think for themselves. And the very idea, that in the public consciousness, to many at least, when Mr. Lee DOES die someday, they will no longer mourn his loss and honor a Legend. Instead, they'll make derogatory remarks about ALLEGED acts he committed, and only think of him as some kind of "letch", instead of the great man that he honestly probably is.

Does my proclaimed love of Mr. Lee, and statement that he IS in fact one of my heroes, make me biased in the matter? Of course it does. But I'm going to let you all in on a little known secret: EVERYONE is Biased, and EVERYONE'S opinion is Subjective. Life experience, and personal opinion, by their very NATURE, are purely subjective. And what's more, I would rather be biased due to my LOVE or ADMIRATION of a person, than due to the obvious "background static" bias that MOST people on social media seem to be operating on these days, to be biased due to HATE and ill intent. The fact is, I DO believe Stan Lee to be a good and honorable person, and I thus believe him to be Innocent in this fiasco. But I ALSO believe that based on what little facts are actually known, which is FAR more than most who were ready to burn him at the Twitter stake can say.

Frankly, if he turned out to be guilty, I would be disappointed. But I wouldn't regret putting my "neck on the line", so to speak, to defend him. Why? Because he's a hero of mine, a legend and an icon. If he really DID grope or harass some nurses, that is shitty of him, and he should apologize. But even if he WERE guilty, that doesn't mean he's a "monster", nor does it make him less of a legend. It would make him flawed, and human, and someone who had a moment of stupidity or weakness, as ALL humans do, in some form or other. Just as I was unafraid to publicly discuss, much less DEFEND the honor and character of former NFL player Ray Rice, who by the way ACTUALLY committed an act far worse than groping, I am unafraid of the possibility that Stan might have done it. These things DO come in degrees, after all, and while ALL acts of harassment or assault are bad, they are not ALL equal, not in the eyes of the law, and not in reality. Ray Rice got drunk and got in an idiotic scuffle with his drunk fiance. Yet THAT fact doesn't make him a monster, it doesn't mean he's a bad person, nor does it mean that he should have been (and continues to be) ostracized from the NFL, and from public life. And if THAT'S true, than Mr. Lee playing "Grabass" doesn't make him a monster either, nor does it mean HE should be demonized or vilified or ostracized.

Having SAID that, I do believe him to be Innocent. But as the title of this article postulates, it's honestly BIGGER than whether or not Stan Lee groped or harassed anyone. The issue here, the only thing that is truly "Problematic" (though I loathe that moronic term), is the very FACT that so many millions of people would readily believe, without any proof, without any actual THOUGHT process on their own part, that he's Automatically Guilty. THAT, to the intellectual and thinking mind, to a mind that ACTUALLY valued Equality and Justice, should be EVERY bit as important and meaningful as ACTUAL acts of harassment and abuse are. The greater public should care JUST as much about a person's possible INNOCENCE, as they so very obviously do a person's possible VICTIMHOOD. Women (and people in general) should NOT have to live in fear of mistreatment. But by that same token, men (and people in general), ALSO should NOT have to live in what is becoming a very real fear, a very real reality, of their own possible accusation, and IMMEDIATE Automatic Guilt in the eyes of the public. Crucified by the faceless masses, strangers AND people they actually know, on no stronger a basis than "He's male, he MUST be Guilty".

BOTH are Equally Wrong, and if you don't honestly see things that way, I'm sorry, but that makes YOU part of the Greater Problem, NOT part of the Solution.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Excuse Me

You know, I find myself interrupting people, not because I'm "manterrupting", but because I just seem to do it. I actually dislike interrupting people, in part because I myself hate being interrupted. But the fact is, my mind often goes a million miles a minute, with all sorts of thoughts popping into my head, and when talking to someone else, I often find myself impulsively wanting to say what happens to have popped into my mind RIGHT then. Otherwise it might well be lost to the wind in the next few moments. It has nothing to do with my gender, or their gender, and I don't love when it happens. But the fact is, people interrupt. And talk over each other, especially people who are more familiar and comfortable with each other.

On the same token, I also often find myself explaining (NOT "mansplaining") things to people. Not because I think they're idiots, or know less than me, and certainly never because of their gender. I am a lover and seeker of knowledge myself, and thus I love to share knowledge with people. If I knew that they already knew what I'm explaining, I wouldn't WANT to be explaining it, and have felt that way after the fact when LEARNING they already knew. But I'm not psychic, if you are having a conversation with someone and have no idea if they know about ____ subject, and you enthusiastically want to tell them about it, you just start talking. Unmaliciously.

I am not saying that these things don't occur in society, though I DO and WILL constantly proclaim that those terms are ignorant, counter-productive and unnecessary. But I AM saying, that just because a man interrupts or talks over you, or explains something to you, doesn't automatically mean he's some entitled, misogynist, "privileged" monster. I've known (and experienced) MANY women who have interrupted, talked over, or explained things already known, to me OR to others.

And as I've stated in the past, if you actually bother looking at the psychology and sociology of little boys (AND many girls), they grow up interrupting and talking over and explaining to each other, all the time. That is simply how they learn to communicate. I could certainly see and understand how this happening, in a professional environment, and certainly done in a blatantly rude way, could be angering or frustrating. But tackling this with anger and bitterness and rudeness, is counterproductive, and isn't going to help fix or improve anything. Some people, granted, are just assholes. But I'm willing to bet that MANY people in your life who interrupt you, talk over you, or explain things to you you already know about, AREN'T doing so maliciously, and AREN'T trying to belittle you or "assert dominance" over you. They're just doing it, impulsively. And confronting them about it, with empathy, understanding, and patience, might very well be a far more effective communicating tool, to help yourself be better heard, and to help THEM to better understand you and better communicate with you, than being rude and shitty to someone because they do these things.

Being an asshole because you feel someone else is being an asshole, has never in the history of humanity, stopped anyone from being an asshole. Negative does not negate Negative. Be the Change you want to see in the world, and in other people. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Guilt and Innocence

The issue with the statement "ALL women should be believed", is that it insinuates ALL women are good, honest, innocent victims who never lie. Who NEVER do wrong.

It ALSO insinuates that ALL men are predators, and should be presumed guilty until proven otherwise (which is apparently never, if women NEVER lie or falsely accuse). This creates a culture we are seeing in action, where EVERY accused is immediately presumed to be guilty, and presumed to be a monster, and their life should be utterly ruined and their public image trampled, before anything at all can actually be proven or settled in a court of law.

Victims SHOULD be believed. But SO should the falsely accused. Victims should NOT be shamed or silenced, scared to come forward. But people who are falsely accused, and yes it DOES happen and DOES exist (I've known at least three people it's happened to), ALSO have a right to be believed, and presumed "Innocent Until Proven Guilty". It IS a horrible world out there for victims, in a society that has often ignored or silenced them. But it's ALSO pretty terrifying, that we are coming into an age where all someone has to do is ACCUSE you, and the public at large will automatically believe it to be true, and your life is basically over, even if you are 100% innocent. That isn't Justice, or Equality, or Freedom, or any of the other pretty words people like to parade about.

Make no mistake: It IS a good thing that we are seeing a movement where many victims are finally feeling brave enough to come forward, and tell their stories. Rape, sexual assault, etc. are an ugly and horrible thing. But it is ALSO seemingly inevitable, that in the MIDST of this wave, there ARE going to come to light accusations that are 100% FALSE. Lies designed specifically to take advantage of this new situation, specifically to hurt or destroy someone. And that is bullshit, and harmful, both for the falsely accused, as well as ACTUAL victims. People, ALL people, should be protected from being victimized. But amidst the efforts TO protect them, we should NOT forget that the accused ALSO have rights. And that believe it or not, even if it IS sadly a relatively small number, SOME of the accused are BOUND to be innocent. THEY are then victims too, and should also be protected by the SAME laws. Cared about by the SAME society.

Otherwise "Justice" means nothing. Period.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Endless Chess Match

This country is never going to truly evolve or get better, until we move beyond the tired, rotting "chess match" between the Big Two parties. Our founding fathers never intended for their to ONLY be two viable parties, and to be completely honest with you, looking at our history since the Big Two essentially took hold, it isn't as if we've done so great. The Republicans are not the villains, nor are the Democrats heroes. Nor vice versa. They're all (mostly) just wealthy, overpaid, overrated assholes, who don't (SPOILERS) actually care all that much about their constituent voters, OR the nation at large. What DO they care about? Staying power, and continuing to con the general voting public into KEEPING them in power, so they can continue living a life of luxury and ease, while helping out their rich corporate buddies at the same time.

How long as are we seriously going to continue with this every four years idiocy? Every four years, DEMS claim they're going to "Save the Country from those evil Republicans", and then four years later, the GOP claim they're going to "Save the Country from those evil Democrats", wash rinse and repeat, till the end of time? Meanwhile, our world and environment are literally falling apart, 100% our fault, while little to nothing actually gets done to FIX or SAVE anything at all. We get caught up in what naughty, mean thing Senator X and President Y said today, and caught up in the latest mundane issue, or inane yelling match of moral superiority and virtue signaling. And that just keeps going on and on and on, while people die, entire species disappear from the planet, and Nature itself gets poisoned and rots. How much longer?

Surely, it's SUPER important that we make sure to get those dirty, rotten, no good Republicans out of power, and KEEP them out, even though the Democrats sit around in power and do next to nothing when they have it. They pay token gestures, yes. But it's not nearly enough, never enough. Things in this nation, and in our world, are outright DIRE, and only getting worse. But people would rather sit around on their cell phones, arguing over what the dumb asshole the whole NATURE, our very CULTURE put into office, said on Twitter today. We argue about fake "Nazis", and worthless scandals, and LGBT rallies and abortion. We fight amongst ourselves, as we're 100% intended and expected to, while the real world around us literally crumbles. How much longer?

Even from certain specific Sanders supporters last year, after he "lost" the primaries, I heard how it was IMPERATIVE that we vote for Clinton, to keep Trump and the GOP out of the White House. Because we HAVE to maintain the status quo, HAVE to maintain this holding pattern, and "hope that maybe someday things will get better". How much time do people really think that we have, to keep maintaining the "Same Old Shit", and naively hope that maybe someday, gradually, slowly, magically, things will get better? The answer is, we have less time than you probably think.

Our planet will survive....but WE, and a whole lot of other innocent, blameless lifeforms, will NOT, if we keep going the way we're going. Yet people sit with their cell phones, on Facebook, on Twitter, watching Netflix, etc. etc., throwing out token #Hashtags and putting flags on their profile pic when something awful happens. Sending out token "thoughts and prayers", while people literally die in the street and our beautiful planet is run into the proverbial ground. We post funny memes and complain about our work day, all the while telling ourselves "Oh, well VOTING is still the answer, we'll just get rid of them rotten Republicans in 2020, and THEN things'll get better". But will they actually get better? Or will GOP just come along in 2024 and undo everything the spineless DEMs kinda/sorta did for 4 years? Only so 4-8 years later, the DEMs can maybe come back and undo some of what the GOP did, and the turns go round and round and round, like a sickening tennis match, that every hardcore voter out there is convinced to just mindlessly cheer, hoping their "Side", the "Right Side" wins.

A humanity fixated with "sides", and with winning petty, ultimately meaningless things like elections, is not going to evolve, nor is it going to survive it's own mess and self-destructive ways. The only way we evolve, the only way we survive, is to move BEYOND the stupid, pointless shit that we're told to care about, and start actually, as Ghandi once said, "BEING the change we want to see in the world". The very idea that we can go about our destructive, wasteful, poisonous daily lifestyles, but vote every few years and blindly trust that the rich people we voted into office will take care of everything and make everything alright...was ALWAYS foolhardy and absurd. "We The People" need to be the change, WE need to be the heroes that we've been waiting for. You cannot sit and wait and trust that others are going to do the right thing, and make some kind of difference. And I say that as someone who campaigned for Obama in 2008, as someone who used to buy into the "We NEED to Vote and Support the Democrats because THEY'RE the Good Guys" line, once upon a time. The DEMS have never been the "Good Guys". They're just the lesser of two evils.

Yes, you get your small handful of politicians once in awhile who really do care. But they are nothing in the greater sea of corruption and stagnation that is Washington DC. Politics and voting are not ever going to be what saves us. Never was going to be, never will be. That's just what the people who want to stay in power, because they benefit the most from the system and the ways things are, want us to believe. But I have come to believe, unquestionably, that the only people who TRULY care about politics, are the politicians, those who benefit from them. We do not benefit. And they do not care about the actual realities we face. They care about staying in office, so that behind closed doors, DEMS and GOP alike can sit and laugh and have tea together, talking about how great things are, for THEM. How great the country is, FOR THEM.

Meanwhile, the good, loyal voters suffer, and starve, and get sick, and die, or live long enough to have wasted their life working to help keep others wealthy and living the easy life. This modern life we live, the shopping, the hording, the cars, the factories, the smartphones and the mass pollution and waste was NEVER sustainable. From the beginning. And no amount of recycling, and "healthy eating", and volunteering, and voting, are going to actually help the big picture. Not in the long run. Certainly not by themselves. We need MORE than that, not just from SOME people, but from MOST people. That is how we improve, and survive. That's how we give our children ANY kind of future worth actually having. A world actually worth inheriting. Less people need to say the world needs saving. And more people need to get off of their asses, put down their smartphones, and actually go save it.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Save Files and Life's Trials

You know, a perfect example of people in our modern society accepting the various ways they get fucked, literally just happily bending over and taking it, is beyond the pale, is some recent video games, and their lack of save slots.

It's a petty and silly example, but it's still a perfect illustration. In several Wii U games, such as Ducktales HD, Pikmin 3, and Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you get one, count it ONE save file slot. Meaning, that if you want to start a NEW game, or make a NEW save on your existing game, that's it. You completely erase the ONE save file you already had going. Too bad, so sad.

On its face, that is fucking absurd. Why? Because we've had multiple save files in console games since the fucking NES in the 1980s, since at LEAST the original Legend of Zelda. It has been customary, even EXPECTED, that you should have no less than three save slots, if not more, for pretty much ANY game these days. It is something gamers have every right to expect, just like they have every right to expect to be able to adjust in-game audio or brightness, or pause the game mid-play. These are little features that should be in EVERY game that exists, no matter what kind of game it is. ESPECIALLY having multiple save file slots.

And yet, here you are. Even with Breath of the Wild, the sheer irony that ZELDA on NES started the tradition of having game saves on console games. And then for the first time EVER, the newest Zelda has ONE save file (unless of course you want to play the DLC Hard Mode, then you get one extra for that). And it is, without any cause for actual argument, complete bullshit. But you STILL had (and have) clowns that say "Oh but you can just create a new console PROFILE, and technically make a new save THAT way". Except that too is BULLSHIT. You should not have to find some kind of "clever" workaround just to have something that should already be there. But I've run across far more people that parrot to me the dumbfuck "make a new profile" BS, than people like ME who are smart enough to be mad about it.

And why is that? Because, just like with medical prices, or gas prices, or pointless laws, or people "learning to live with terrorism", people are complacent, cowardly, and lazy. They will, given the chance, always take the path of least resistance, and will always, unless forced otherwise, just passively accept whatever bullshit they are subjected to, because standing up and saying something, much less fighting back, is hard. Which is doubly ironic, in a world so rife is myraid protests for endless causes. Even most of those protestors, in other areas are their life that are, typically, MORE immediate and thus "more real" to them, also cowardly and passive. Accepting.

And yes, there is the axiom of "having the grace to accept the things you cannot change". But how far should that go, really? A lack of save slots in a video game is small potatoes, but it IS endemic of OTHER, far more serious and grave issues that people ALSO just accept. They just take it, because "what can they do about it?" And that is exactly why the world is in the state it is in today, because you have literally billions of people who simply "take it", because "that's just how it is". It is the mindset of cattle, of the herd.

Well listen up folks. Video games should have more than ONE fucking save slot. Medical and gas and other costs of living should be lower, because they CAN be lower. We are only charged the prices we are, because we have proven we'll pay whatever they charge, without resistance. We as a people, will continue to be subjected to silly, dumb, and even horrific bullshit on a daily basis, from all quarters, because we just bend over and "take it". That's just "how things are". Except they don't have to be, and shouldn't be.

People shouldn't accept one save file, any more than they should accept terrorism. Or cost of living so high that you cannot afford to live. As individuals, choose to be the person who stands up and says something. Who refuses to just bend over and "take it". Be the person who IS the change that they want to see in the world. Don't be the person just accepting whatever is, is, simply because it's "too hard" to fight for change. Be the person who fights for change, even dies fighting, because if more people did that, we might just have a more honest, more fair, and less cowardly, less horrible world.

Think about it. I know it's hard. But you owe yourself. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Other Side of the Coin

Another part of this #MeToo conversation that really needs to be discussed, even though I'm certain it's not popular to do so, is that while it is 100% right about victims fearing to come forward about harassment or assault, or being shamed or shut down when they try to. And that SHOULDN'T happen, none of it. When a woman is harassed or assaulted, and she comes forward about it, if it legit happened, there isn't a reason on this Earth that she SHOULDN'T be believed, and supported. But the OTHER side of that coin, is False Accusation. And it isn't just a male problem, it happens to women too. But it's still a reality, and it's still a serious problem, when you as a person are accused of something you absolutely DIDN'T do, and YOU are not believed. Sometimes even by friends or family, people who are supposed to "know" you and trust you. Having people close to you doubt you, because of someone else's word, is both terrifying, and heartbreaking. There are few lonelier feelings in the world than that, just as I'm sure it is an incredibly lonely feeling trying to report something that DID happen, and people ignoring or disbelieving you. 

It may be a minority experience, but false accusation also DOES happen, and it shouldn't be attacked or dismissed as if it doesn't, or as if it isn't an issue. I've known guys it has happened to, from minor stuff such as my ex claiming that my friend grabbed her ass when he didn't (and believe me, I grilled him about it, angrily, assuming she was right). To major stuff, like a former acquaintance being accused of straight up attempting to rape a girl, which could have ruined his life, even though it didn't happen. Or the time that a friend's demented ex, when he was once downtown with her drunk off her ass, got pissed at him for something, and literally starting yelling at told some random dude to call the police, that the friend was "assaulting" her. My friend just walked away and left her ass after that, and came to my house (naturally) to vent about it. And worse yet, when she later showed up passed out drunk on MY porch, I practically begged him to just let me do the right thing, and call the cops on HER drunk, abusive ass, and he refused to let me do so.

Or even myself, one of my best friends had a former fiance, who claimed that while he was out of the room, I was flirting with her (absolutely not). Or another time, that another friend's former GF, literally physically pulled me off balance so that I would fall into her against a wall, and then she "jokingly" accused me of grabbing her boob, even though I 100% didn't. And that situation immediately got the result I think she wanted: he got pissed at me, instantly, without even stopping to think that he knew me better than he knew her, and KNEW I wasn't the kind of guy who would do that to ANY random woman, let alone someone's GF (whom I had zero attraction to and frankly couldn't stand).

The friend instantly got angry, and threw something at me without taking stock of the situation, and I (rightly) told him to get the fuck out of my house. And I don't think she was one bit bothered by the fact that her deliberate "joking" false accusation, right in front of my face, right in front of HIS face, temporarily ruined our friendship (I didn't hear from him for months, until he had broken up with her, and then finally apologized and admitted he knew I wouldn't have done that). In fact, I think she did it because she would have found it "amusing" if we had started fighting like cavemen over nothing. A healthy clue was the fact that she was smirking and laughing, until the point that I told them to get the fuck out of my house.

Make no mistake, bringing this up is NOT in any way shape or form, detracting from or changing the subject from the sad and sickening reality of women (and men) dealing with harassment and assault. HOWEVER, false accusations shouldn't happen any more than harassment or assault should. One is far more prevalent, and that IS NOT an argument, obviously. But false accusations DO still happen sometimes, by people who assume they will be believed and the other will obviously be assumed to be guilty, with little defense or "proof" that you DIDN'T do it. 

It all depends on context, situation, and the individuals involved, obviously. But it DOES happen, and as a guy myself, that is a scary reality and concern that I have to be aware of, and afraid of. I do not make a practice of sexually harassing or assaulting anyone. But I HAVE been accused of the former, at the very least, and know those who have been accused of the latter. And one of the common bits of advice to men on the receiving end of such treatment is often "well don't be dumb enough to put yourself in situations where you could BE accused of anything". The problem with that, quite frankly, is that it is JUST as bad advice, and JUST as shitty a thing to say to someone, as is victim shaming, telling the victim of harassment or assault to "not put yourself in that situation" or "don't go asking for it". There is NO such thing as "asking for it", in either case, whether it be harassment/assault, or being falsely accused of such. In either case, the perpetrator is the one who makes the CHOICE to be a human shitbag, and try to hurt the other person.

That is the reality, the other side of the coin. And people need to be just as aware, and just as sensitive to it, because it can, in many ways, be just as awful and terrifying to be on the receiving end of accusations of abuse, as it is to be on the receiving end of abuse itself.