Monday, February 22, 2021

Establishing Conflicting Complexes: How Religious Trauma Grows (part one)

I mentioned in my Trauma Nation post about the establishment of inferiority complexes in members of the church. I didn't call it that, but that's what it is. Let's talk about that a moment. Or three.

The basic premise of "the church" is that people are shit. Now, this is actually a crazy idea when you break it down, so let's do that...

"god" is supposed to be a perfect being, right? "He's" all powerful, all knowing, all everywhere (yeah, sure, I could just say omnipresent and do the whole "omni-" thing, but it's funnier this way). And this god made everything, which is supposed to be a perfect creation. Stay with me, because this is where the mental gymnastics come in.

god is perfect and can't make things that are imperfect and, yet, man, his greatest creation, the being he (I'm just using "he" for ease of pronoun usage, at this point, and because that's what "christians" call it) breathed a soul into which, supposedly, he didn't even do for the Angels, is so flawed that he had to make a pit of fire to toss these immortal souls into because of how messed up they are. Mosquitoes (which, according to a recent study, have killed more humans than anything else in creation) don't go to Hell, yet man does. And I'm just going to add in here, how can you credit any being who would willingly create the mosquito with perfection?

Now, "christians" will tell you that god did indeed create man perfect; it's only that man chose to become imperfect through sin. And I'm going to go back to the "all knowing" part and say "what the fuck?" And apply some logic, because logic is good, right?

If you were an omniscient being creating something you wanted to be perfect and have a relationship with, would you make it with some kind of fatal flaw? On purpose? I mean, that's the kind of thing writers do to create tension for their audiences so, unless "god" has some audience of other "gods" and this is all some kind of weird galactic stage play, creating man with a "fatal flaw" is just spiteful. Cruel. It's messed up, man.

The other option is that it was an accident, making "god" not so perfect after all.

At any rate, "christians" would have us believe that man's imperfection is by design, so they choose the "that's fucked up" option. Then they beat it into believers because you only need "god" if you are, indeed, fucked up.

But, wait, I'm not through.

See, the reason that god made man all fucked up and imperfect is so that man would require the assistance of god to become perfected and be... just like him. Which is where the next part of the mental gymnastics comes in.

See, the idea is that god was hanging out up in heaven and got lonely. Which kind of does away with the galactic stage play thing because you'd think if there were other god-beings to hang out with then you wouldn't need people. Oh! Oh! But wait! There's more. Because god had a kingdom full of angels, already! And this is the screwy part: the angels were no good for hanging out with because they were too much like god. So, evidently, god needs something less than perfect to hang out with to give him some mental stimulation. Although, all things considered, how much mental stimulation can you get from an ant? Have you ever tried hanging out with ants, having philosophical conversations with and whatnot, and, maybe, firing up the grill and stuff? Oh, wait, we know what happens when you invite ants to picnics.

Now we have all sorts of problems because, according to "christians," god can't hang with less than perfection. So god needs some imperfect humans, but god can't deal with imperfect humans. It's like someone with lactose intolerance staring at a triple cheese pizza.

And, so, god creates man and puts him in a situation where he can't help but fail, causing man to be no better than shit. Shit that god needs to toss in a fire because god can't deal with the imperfection. Did I say that was fucked up? Because that is fucked up.

Let me tell you, what I want to do most as a creative individual is make art that I have no better purpose for than burning. Yeah, that's how I want to spend my time; how about you?

But this is the proposition proposed by "christians":
1. god created man, a perfect being, to "fellowship" with "him."
2. god put man into a situation where man would "sin" and become an imperfect being and, thus, interesting.
3. But god can't "fellowship" with imperfect beings and, also, imperfect beings will damned to Hell for all eternity suffering for their imperfection (which god caused in the first place).
4. However, god made a way for man to become perfect again which will allow him to "fellowship" with god once more, not that god has any interest in that, having plenty of perfected beings around himself already that he has no interest in, but, hey, it does save you from perpetual burning.

And, yes, the "church" can help you with the secret to that (for, you know, $20 in the offering plate on Sundays). Which is why they spend so much time on convincing people about how messed up they are. And kids who grow up in that environment? Well, they become convinced pretty early on that, on their own, they're not worth a whole a lot. Even people who don't grow up in it become convinced of it:
You're no good without "god."
In fact, you are an inferior person.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Promising Young Woman (a movie review post)


I think it's not unreasonable to suggest that the greatness of a movie can be judged by how long it lingers in your mind after you've watched it. How much time you spend ruminating over what you watched and, possibly, what it means. Unless you're talking about Christopher Nolan. No one should spend any time thinking about his movies after the fact, especially Inception. When the man admits that the movie ends ambiguously because he couldn't make a decision about how to end it, it doesn't deserve any thought. That's just sloppy bad writing.

However, with other movies, how much time you spend thinking about them is a totally valid measure of how good they may be. Promising Young Woman hung around in my mind pretty steadily for days. Not in a way that would probably make you want to watch it again, because I'm pretty sure it's not a movie I really want to watch again, though that might not be true. It's that kind of movie.

I'm betting you want to know what kinds of thoughts I was having, but I'm not going to tell you because there's not really a way to do that without being spoilery. I am going to say, though, that this is currently my pick for Best Picture this year. It's a powerful movie and deals with a powerful subject. If you're a man watching this and not uncomfortable, minimally, doing so, there is something wrong with you. And you're probably part of the problem. If you're angry about the movie, you are definitely part of the problem.

And if you make comments about how Carey Mulligan is not pretty enough to be believable as a rape victim, you are more than definitely part of the problem and you don't know how rape works.

Don't be part of the problem.

Speaking of Carey Mulligan, she's fantastic. She more than adequately carries the movie, which is significant, because the whole plot rests on her and her believability. She gives the role a nuance that still has me wondering about some things here and there, which is why I possibly might would watch it again just to see what I thought after a second viewing. But it's a hard movie to watch, especially the ending.

Emerald Fennell, the writer/director, probably also deserves the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. It's very difficult to have a powerful movie without a powerful script, and this one is powerful. Not to mention the creeping dread the movie causes as you hope what's going to happen isn't what's going to happen. You don't find people who can create that kind of feeling very often.

I think this is a must-watch movie, especially if you're a white male. Or just white. Women participate in rape culture, too, because, well, just gonna say it: Patriarchy and "christianity." Get rid of those two things and rape culture would probably just go away.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (a movie review post)


This is not a free-use picture but, as far as a can tell, it's supposed to be usable for reviews.
Since this is a review, I'm using it.

Is there a way to legitimately talk about this film without dealing with the death of Chadwick Boseman? I don't think so. Boseman's performance was, of course, stellar. It would have been stellar for a healthy man. Chadwick Boseman was dying. Though, honestly, he did most of his work while receiving treatment for his cancer, and who knows for how long it was affecting him prior to 2016. He was an amazing talent by any standard but that he did it while also undergoing cancer treatment is just mind blowing.

On the surface, the conflict of the movie is between Levee (Boseman) and Ma Rainey (played by Viola Davis), the conflict between the new and the old and those who refuse to change. [Look, I'm resisting the urge to point out that Ma Rainey and her refusal to change with the times is just like Republicans... oh, wait...] Also that Levee is flirting with Ma's girl, and Ma doesn't appreciate that, either. These are the conflicts that supply the emotional tension of the movie. But...

But before I go on, let's talk about Viola Davis. She was unrecognizable in this role. Ahead of seeing the movie, I had forgotten that she was in it and, so, wondered, more than once, as we were watching, who it was playing Ma Rainey. Thus I was surprised when we got to the credits to find out that it was Davis. She was amazing. The number of actors who can submerge into their roles so that you can't see the actor at all is very small, and most of those guys are fucking weird (Sacha Baron Cohen, Daniel Day-Lewis). Davis doesn't seem to suffer from any weirdness with her ability to... become.

What I'm saying here is that the acting in this film was extraordinary, and Davis and Boseman both deserve Oscars for their performances.

Though I don't think the film itself is Best Picture-worthy. Nomination worthy, certainly, but it's not quite Best Picture material, I don't think. Mostly because it's, basically, a filmed play. It's a very good play, but I'm pretty sure that when you turn a play into a movie that you should turn it into a movie and not film it as if it's a play. Maybe that's just me.

However, it does deal with an ongoing problem in American culture, the exploitation of the talent of African Americans for the benefit of fucking rich white men. That's the true conflict of the movie and part of Ma's resistance to change. She has achieved a slice of power within music culture and is desperate to retain that small amount of power she has. It's exemplified at the beginning of the movie when Ma's driver gets into a fender bender. The (white (do I really need to say it?)) police officer is ready to throw Ma in jail for her attitude: He doesn't know who she is. But Ma is "rescued" by her white agent, because the crash was in front of the recording studio, who exercises his whiteness on behalf of Ma, just so that Ma can then press him under her thumb with ridiculous demands. But she makes the studio a lot (a LOT, evidently) of money, so he's really responding to the money, not to any respect he has for Ma.

One of the more interesting aspects of the movie is the difference between the relationship that Ma has with the studio and the relationship that Levee has with it, because Levee wants to be the next big thing. And that's about all I can say about that without getting into spoilers. At any rate, it's definitely a movie worth watching. And I have to admit that I was more than a little skeptical about watching the movie to begin with. I'm not a blues fan, and the title... just isn't very inviting. Which is not to say that it's not appropriate, because the song is what the conflict is centered around. The performances alone make it more than worthwhile.

Monday, February 1, 2021


I learned a new bit of information the other day: There's a thriving black market for catalytic converters from Prius. I also just learned that Prius is like Lego: It's its own plural.

So... We had a Prius. We just had a Prius. An older one. Actually, the oldest. It was a 2005. As of today (today being the day I'm writing this, which is a day last week, at least, from when you're reading this), we no longer have a Prius. Because of the catalytic converter.

Let's start over...

One morning, recently, my wife and I went to go somewhere in her car, the Prius being her car. I started it up, and the car roared to life! Oh, but, see, Prius aren't supposed to roar. Ever. We were, of course, alarmed. The roar, of course, was the muffler... the muffler missing its catalytic converter.

Which is how I found out that catalytic converter theft is a thing. There's a one word answer as to why: platinum.

I had no idea.

Before this, that is.

Fortunately, this kind of this is covered under our insurance, so we had it towed to a body shop to see about repairs. But here's the thing about thieves, they don't have any consideration about the people they're thieving from. I mean, if they did, they wouldn't be stealing from people to begin with, right? But it's not just the theft that's the issue; it's all the things that go along with the theft to enable it. Like broken windows or doors, threat of violence, or, as in this case, collateral destruction to get to the desired item.

There were pieces of my wife's car lying in the driveway after the towtruck took the car away. The thieves did so much damage to the car cutting the catalytic converter out that the entire exhaust system was going to have to be replaced. Remember that I said that it's an old car? Because 15 years is quite old for a car, especially these days. Effectively, the thieves totalled the car, because the new exhaust system was going to cost more than the value of the car.

Which brings us to the real problem, my wife had a lot of sentimental attachment to that car and, though she had been considering replacing it, the choice was taken away from her. As she said, "They murdered my car." Then there's the added problem of having someone else decide for you that this thing that you love isn't worth fixing and should just be scrapped.

The whole event was traumatic.

I was reminded strongly of the Republican response to the pandemic, because they have the same kind of view toward human lives as the insurance company does towards cars. Their evaluation said, "These lives aren't worth saving. It's cheaper to replace them than it is to save them."

And here's the problem with that way of thinking: It's really not. Not cheaper to replace them, that is, just like it's not cheaper for us to replace the car than it is to get it fixed. It's only cheaper for the insurance company. Their evaluation is one thing: Is it going to cost us more to fix the car than it is to pay them the value of the car? When they choose to not fix the car, the rest of those costs are passed onto us. Those costs can be many and varied, for us it's the cost of getting a new car, but for some people it can mean the loss of a job because they can't afford the cost of a new car and can no longer get to work reliably. Or the inabilty to get groceries. Costs.

Republicans have no problem with passing on the costs of people they don't value to other people they don't value, and the death toll means nothing to them. If it did, they would have forced McConnel to do something about it. But Mitch and gang have been happy as clams with how things have been working out, which tells me they're all lining their pockets in some way due to the pandemic.

And, sure, I know we have a new administration in there, now, and they are already taking steps to alleviate some the pandemic-related issues, but it's not soon enough to prevent the loss of half a million lives.

All of which takes us to universal health care and why we don't have it: Republicans. Because the money white men make off the insurance industry is of greater interest to them than the lives lost each year due to inadequate or non-existant health coverage.

Yep, you get all of this from someone cutting the catalytic converter out of my wife's car, because it's not too far off from Republicans cutting the soul out of America.