Tuesday, July 24, 2018

I propose a new genre of ultra-violent books, movies, video games, comic books, and so forth. (From Twitter)

[Originally posted on twitter.  Ish.  The introduction is new and everything will have, at least, an editing pass.]

So, before I get to what this is, I wanted to note where it comes from.  Feel free to skip this introduction, main text after the break.

At some point, I was looking at something (been a while, don't remember) and every time I loaded the page to check for new stuff it landed on one of two tweets about the synopsis of a completely real upcoming book.  I say that because, based on the synopsis, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was instead a fake thing that existed only as a farcical over the top parody.

The synopsis makes it difficult to tell if the book will be something too painful to read, or something that one could have fun tearing apart.

Whatever the case, it's a power/vengeance fantasy in which the perpetually offended hegemons who cast themselves as the persecuted victims of the unwashed masses can live out their fantasy of seeing their supposed oppressors laid low and forced to come to them for protection (recognizing their superiority, of course) OR DIE!

When you're not actually oppressed but your identity is built around believing you're oppressed, you end up looking for signs of your oppression in strange places.  Thus the book, which is called Trigger Warning, is lashing out at the injustice of . . . even at a remove, I can't take this concept seriously.

It's the kind of book where the synopsis puts the terms "triggered", "microaggressions", "male privilege" "cisgendered bathrooms" and "safe space" in scare quotes.

The synopsis went thus:

Former Army Ranger Jake Rivers is not your typical Kelton College student. He is not spoiled, coddled, or ultra-lib like his classmates who sneer at the “soldier boy.”

Rivers is not “triggered” by “microaggressions.” He is not outraged by “male privilege” and “cisgender bathrooms.” He does not need a “safe space.” Or coloring books. Jake needs an education. And when terror strikes, the school needs Jake . . .

Without warning, the sounds of gunfire plunge the campus into a battle zone. A violent gang of marauders invade the main hall, taking students as hostages for big ransom money. As a veteran and patriot, Jake won’t give in to their demands. But to fight back, he needs to enlist his fellow classmates to school these special snowflakes in the not-so-liberal art of war. This time, the aggression isn’t “micro.” It’s life or death. And only the strong survive . . .
Before I get to my original response, I want to call out a few things in that cutesy synopsis.

As the only person like him in, apparently, the whole fucking school (the school needs him specifically, not the 1% of the student population like him) Jake Rivers is very clearly the specialist special snowflake of them all.  I would also argue that, since he doesn't have to deal with anyone like him, he's pretty damned spoiled and coddled as well.

The "ultra-lib" classmates he has, remember, have to face something he doesn't: Jake Rivers.  A lot of people would love to attend a school where they would never face a Jake Rivers.  His classmates don't get that.  Jake does.

The scare quotes paragraph pretty clearly demonstrates that while Jake Rivers doesn't need coloring books, he seems to want his own twisted version of a safe space.  (Twisted but traditional: the comfortable are comforted at the cost of afflicting the afflicted.)  Also that he is one of the sneerers.

Basically, Jake here is almost everything he detests.  The only broad strokes thing he's not is liberal.  Sure, the specific details might differ, but Jake is exactly what he thinks other people are.  He might not need a safe space or even understand what one is, but it seems like he wants a space in which he personally is safe from everything that might possibly offend his delicate sensibilities.

Also, grammar fail:
[...] he needs to enlist his fellow classmates to school these special snowflakes in the not-so-liberal art of war.
After Jake gets himself an education, perhaps he can teach the author about semi-colons, because that is what they're made for.  Put a semicolon after classmates, and it's fine.

As it is, however, it says that Jake needs to enlist his classmates in order to school some other group of special snowflakes (the the violent gang of marauders, perhaps) in the not-so-liberal art of war.

The use of the phrase "the art of war" makes me imagine that this schooling is taking place under the auspices of Kelton's prestigious Chinese Military Literature program.

(Stuff from Twitter, edited and possibly refined, follows.)

- ~ ∗ ~ -         - ~ ⁂ ~ -         - ~ ∗ ~ -

Ok, so whenever a certain page reloaded it came to one of two tweets about this garbage [link to synopsis], I have thoughts.

No.  I have THOUGHTS.

I shall now make these thoughts known to the world.

- ~ ∗ ~ -

For all the talk about Hollywood liberals, and mainstream liberals, and this liberals, and that liberals,  and those feminists, and these aggrieved masses of entitled . . . whatever, I've never really bought it.

Consider:  We've had Red Dawn twice.

Everything from Home Alone to [[every Steven Seagal movie in the history of actors named Steven and surnames that are almost, but not quite, "Seagull"]] is picking up on the right-wing fantasy of "They violated my home so Imma kill and/or torture EVERYONE!"

One goes to Home Alone for the torture and not-quite-Seagull for the killin'.  (If you're going to watch one of the gull movies, I recommend Under Siege, though be warned that never will a movie make you more in favor of a major American city being nuked than when Steven is trying to stop it.)

Now one could reasonably come to the conclusion that, maybe, we should have less of this.  Perhaps having this one story told in infinite variations is causing us to miss out on other stories and having an effect upon our ways of thinking, and our culture, and . . . stuff.

Or, one could completely ignore the reasonable and think the way that I think.

- ~ ∗ ~ -

All of this has been a roundabout way to say, I propose a new genre of ultra violent books, movies, video games, comic books, and so forth.  Well, I'm sure that the genre already exists, so I'm more proposing that it become mainstream and be brought to mediums in which it has not yet found traction.

Rather than describe the genre, I'm going to give a specific example and let you extrapolate the genre from there.

Instead of former army ranger Jake Rivers saving the Keyton students from a random violent gang of marauders in a battle where only the strong will survive, we'll have this:

Riley "I got disowned and don't have a last name, but no worries; I'm in a better place now" will join forces with others.

Ne will do this not as a leader shaping lesser classmates into what nir ideology requires but instead as an equal partner in a communal cooperative of, "We're getting through this together, and we'll do whatever we can to make sure everyone survives regardless of whether they're strong."

Riley is no more or less special than any of the other snowflakes and doesn't think the fact ne is a genderfluid + genderqueer [∗] ace person of color from a minority religion entitles nir to special rights.  Just equal rights.

(Riley is not a latte fan, but nothing against those who are.)

[∗] Riley's gender shifts between multiple non-binary genders.

- ~ ∗ ~ -

It's no easy task securing safety for everyone when the fascists in your government have decided to make an example of your university (and also use it as a feasibility trial for cracking down on everything not cis-straight-male-rightwing-christian-'Merica-fuck-yeah)

The fact that "We're saving everyone.  Yes, even those assholes" means needing to manage an asshole population doesn't help.  In the lawlessness of the law trying to kill you, bigotry is hard to contain, safe spaces hard to come by, and micro aggressions deplete san points.

Even so, the entire point of the action genre (whatever the medium happens to be) is to let characters solve problems by punching them in the face.  (Something that doesn't work in the real world, but is a wonderful escapist fantasy of simplicity) and so Riley and co dig in.

- ~ ∗ ~ -

If it's a video game instead of a book then there will be a crafting system and bonus points to those who realize that "marble + shoelace" = sling.  Especially since David versus Goliath is the symbolism you like the government has decided to end you.

The government decided to end them in the name of traditional values, keeping daughters safe, making sure America remains a Christian nation, *something*something* states rights, defending white heritage, and so forth, of course.

Said-government also makes a point of mocking trigger warnings, misgendering people, and such.

I'm leaning toward video game here because you can have stealth, shooter, parkour, settlement management, social, and so much more.

You can have the character need to take time in the safe room to recover from the bullshit ne needs to face elsewhere (implement a crayon+mandala system if you like.)  Basically: the importance of self-care implemented as a game mechanic.

You know the fantasy that if society collapsed and [fantasizer] rebuilt it everything would be better?  Indulge in it.  In addition to things listed above and more (how did I leave out tower defense?) you get to shape the society of the resistance to make bigotry not fucking cool.

Instead of being wiped out, as is realistic, the university becomes the center of a new multicultural egalitarian society in which people, while still people, have at least taken steps to make sure they don't fuck up in the exact same way they have been for 700 years.

DLC includes:
  • Daring raids on medical facilities, and factories, and such to make sure no one is forced to go off their meds
  • Treaty building with with other marginalized or outright targeted groups.
  • Setting up a school system that's neuro-divergent friendly.
  • Blowing shit up in epic ways.
There's a rhetoric skill you can invest in if you want to convince the non-evil portions of the army and police to come over to your side.

There's a side mission where you have to deal with not-Jake-Rivers and his social-Darwinist macho murder cult.

But mostly there's blowing off steam in a way that doesn't hurt anyone but feels good, especially when you've been forced to listen to bigots and other assholes rant about how certain people, possibly including you, don't count as people (or that some people's lives don't matter.)

And there's queer, non-white, non-Christian representation.

And safe spaces are respectfully shown.  And trigger warnings are shown as things that improve people's quality of life. And it's possible to actually put an end to microaggressions.  (Remember: the action genre is a fantasy in which the problems faced are actually able to be solved, often in simple, sometimes explosive, straightforward ways.)

And for once it's the people who are actually treating the lives of others as disposable in the face of their ideology in real life who are shown disposing of others in the name of their ideology in fiction.  And non-kyriarchal utopia is shown as a thing worth aspiring to instead of a joke.

- ~ ∗ ~ -

And I forgot to mention, traditionally action protagonist = [really qualified + special], so Riley is the best in the chess club, founded the top Splatoon team on campus, is active in the community (was in the movement that stopped Women's Studies from being cut), and a is glass blower by trade.

- ~ ∗ ~ -         - ~ ⁂ ~ -         - ~ ∗ ~ -

That basically covers it.  I could have named the post "I begin a bunch of paragraphs with the word 'And'."  Cutting and pasting the line in question was close to accurate (though it's not as descriptive as it could be.)

Thought I'd try to get something out there, this was already mostly written.  It still has taken me positively ages, but today is a day of rest.  (My sister is checking out the property she hopes to move into today.  On other days I'll be helping her race to move out of what we're losing, as I have been for a while.)


  1. My comment was very clever but Sign Out is where Publish should be and I hate the world!

    1. That really sucks. I'm sorry it happened to you.

  2. "Fellow classmates"

    Do you mind if I rant about how much I dislike the phrase "fellow X" where "X" has the concept of "fellow member of group" baked in, e.g. anything with the suffix "-mates"? Because that drives me bonkers. Seriously, that's part of the blurb? Does no one proofread blurbs? You don't need the word "fellow" when that's baked into the following noun.

    Pardon me.

    Going to something a bit more substantive, one of the characteristics of the macho social-Darwinist assholes is that they think that they should be the ones in charge. Now in a fast moving crisis situation, someone needs to be in charge, but should be someone with relevant expertise. You don't put a combat specialist in charge of a medical emergency, and you don't put a trauma surgeon in charge of a hostage negotiation. Perhaps your video game could highlight who has relevant skills for a situation and show realistic consequences if the wrong person takes charge.