Day 10 of the NaNo Novel Nuttiness, and while it’s not taking it toll, it’s probably part of the reason I’m irritated this morning. Well, no, it’s not: it’s more due to my computer acting like a spaz for 45 minutes after I brought it up the first time, when all it wanted to do is make the disk go spin, spin, spin, and my browser kept locking up, and finally I just smashed the sucked hard and brought it back up . . . and now it’s playing nice.
No, NaNo is being nice to me. I’m going along as I should and averaging about 3500 words a day, and generally (believe it or not) having a good time. I know that I’m around 16,000 words from “winning” NaNo, but I’m also aware that my novel is going to end up about 20,000 words beyond that, so the only “win” I’ll get is when I put “The End” on the sucker, do an edit, and get it published. That’s the ultimate goal for NaNoWriMo: really write a novel in 30 days (or less), then put it out there for sale.
For me it’s not about running word counts or doing word wars with my buddies; it’s about creating something that not only makes me proud, but allows me to share that pride with others.
The one thing that NaNo does show me is that writing is work. It’s a lot of work. I might only spend a couple of hours doing actual writing, but research, thinking about characters, imaging the scenes . . . it’s a very intensive process. And it’s a lot of work. I’ve said before, whenever you tell someone you’re a writer, and they cop that “Oh, so you don’t work?” attitude, hit them between the eye and ask them if they’ve ever tried creating anything from their own imagination. Tell them to try it, tell them to have it make sense . . . then have them come back to you when they’re done. Chances are they’ll leave you alone.
Oh, an a bit of blog whoring here: I’ve done a guest post over at Jennifer the Writer’s blog, and it’s NaNo related. Give her some love and enjoy my writing.
Now, rant time. You can leave now if you don’t wanna hear ranting this time of day.
Ready? Let’s go.
A few days ago I wrote about some Hate Dumb pissing and moaning that left me none too happy. I said at the time that I was going to write about something else in that conversation that didn’t set well with me, but I never got around to it because–well, I’ve been writing! Funny how that happens.
Part of the argument revolved around the meme of what is a true vampire, and whether or not a certain writer could made vampires the way they did. You wanna read about it, check that link up yonder: I talk about it. It’s fun; it really is.
But there was someone else jumping into the Hate Dumb as well, and their scree was just as bad, if not worse. You see, going back to the writing in question, one of the main characters just loves to play the Midnight Creeper, sneaking into a girl’s bedroom at night so he can watch her while she sleeps. Oh, yeah. It’s creepy, for sure. He also watches her from bushes, and “fixes” her car so she can’t drive it . . . yeah, he’s a stalker.
Oh, did I mention he’s a vampire? Sure, he oiled up her window frame so the damn thing wouldn’t squeak when he opened it, but he was also fighting the urge to leave an exsanguinated corpse behind when he left. So, you know, when my daughter starts dating vampires, I’m damn sure gonna see to it that bastard ain’t doing the same thing. I’m hip to your ways, dude.
Now, for the one person who was upset with this, they weren’t viewing it in the context that it happened, which was that of one fictional character who was stalking (and, yeah, like it or not, he was stalking) another fictional character. It didn’t matter that he was a Stalker With a Crush, and that the whole thing was played as Stalking is Love. For the person discussion this entire matter was, if I may adopt my Comic Book Guy voice, the Worst Thing EVAR!!!
Or as they said, “I don’t want to live in a Culture of Rape.”
The first thing I want to say is, “Just this culture?”, ’cause lets face it, we’re not the first to hit this note. Not by a long shot.
Go back far enough and you’re gonna find some crazy stuff that passed for entertainment. Back in the 16th Century revenge tragedies were hugely popular; people couldn’t get enough of them. Of course, there was this guy, Willie Shakespeare, saw what was getting produced, probably mumbled, “Fuck it; I can crank this noise to 11,” and proceded to write Titus Andronicus, without a doubt his most bloodiest and violent work. Murder, rape, a bit of cannibalism thrown in to to keep the audience on their toes, and a hell of a lot of cutting off of hands, Titus was one of Shakespeare’s most popular works.
But surely, it got better? Lets take a look.
Wanna talk crazy stalkers, how about these? Eponine stalked Marius in Les Misérables. Frollo and his feelings towards La Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Stalking. Henry Crawford tormented Fanny in Mansfield Park: stalking. Erik in Phantom of the Opera . . . dude, please. And Phantom pulls double duty, because Raoul has been obsessed with Christine since they were kids and gets pissed when she professes feeling for another. Yeah, he hides outside her dressing room because he’s searching for the Phantom and wants to protect her, but he also like to sneak in there and smell her clothes. Um, stalker anyone?
Let’s talk vampires. Face it: by their very nature they’re stalkers. They have to be. So Dracula is totally a stalker, but . . . yeah, there was something there for Mina that wasn’t just about the blood. But that’s those old style vamps, that wouldn’t happen today . . . yeah, but Angel did stalk Buffy, and she was turned off by it until she realized what a hot dude he was, slept with him and got him all evil. And Spike? Fifth season with him hanging ’round outside Buffy’s house, and the thing with the Buffy Bot? ”Um, yeah . . . it’s not what you think–” My man, I’m thinking–stalker!
Harry Potter had himself a stalker of sorts–Romilda Vane. And if you don’t think Snape wasn’t stalking Lily a bit, you need to adjust your rose colored glasses. Trinity told Neo she used to watch him as he slept; at least she didn’t need to oil the windows. The Borg Queen’s feeling for Jean Luc? Stalkerific. Mary of There’s Something About Mary fame had a lot of stalkers, but that’s okay ’cause it was played for laughs and most people didn’t care.
And songs: Possession by Sarah McLachlan, about a real stalker. Happy Together about a guy who obsesses over a girl he never speaks to. Why Don’t You Write Me? by Simon & Garfunkel: high octane stalker fuel. And that oldie by goodie, Every Breath You Take, which many people look at as a beautiful song about love, but which is about–you got it. In fact, Sting has become so creeped out by couples who’ve said “We danced to this at our wedding!” that he’s wished he never wrote the damn thing.
Lets face it: this sort of thing has been a part of our culture for a very long time. So are we a “Culture of Rape”? Hardly, because if we are, then we’ve always been that way. Yes, domestic violence and rape are huge issues. But put the blame on politicians who don’t give a shit; put the blame on law enforcement who don’t want to get involved; put the blame on religions leaders who think if they look the other way, this stuff will go away.
But blaming any form of media for the ills of society is far easier. Ted Bundy said, “I read comics, so that made me want to rape and murder women”. John Hinckley loved him some Jodie Foster, so he had to shoot someone to get her attention. Mark David Chapman read way too much The Catcher in the Rye and just had to kill John Lennon ’cause it’s what Holden Caulfield would have done.
Of course, David Berkowitz got his marching orders from his dog, and Ed Gein–not so much into stalking vampires, but, boy, did he love his mamma . . ..
Crazy bastards do things not because a Firefly marathon convinces them that someone is trying to Take the Sky From Them and they gotta do something about it, but because they are crazy bastards. It’s like some members of the Manson Family saying they were conditioned to not give a shit about violence and killing because, well, it was all over TV and that’s all they watched . . . please. I grew up in that era. I cut my teeth on Three Stooges shorts starting about the age of 4. I’ve seen more violence on TV and at the movies than you can shake at stick at. When I was a tweener growing into a teenager I was pretty much obsessed with nuclear war, and read Alas, Babylon at least 30 times. One of my favorite movies is Hard Boiled, aka Làshǒu Shéntàn, which has one of the highest one-on-one body counts of any movie (307, with something like 50 of them occurring during a long tracking shot in a hospital where two cops pretty much kill everyone they encounter), and that in of itself should make people think twice about speaking with me.
Oh, and I also own a ton of role playing games. Talk about your red flags!
So why ain’t I out killing and raping? ’Cause I’m not a crazy bastard. I know right and wrong. And reading a book isn’t going to make me want to find someone on the Internet, hunt them down and stalk their butts, maybe kidnap them and rape them until they love me . . . no. I don’t do that. I’m–well, relatively sane. But I’m not goin’ on a rampage.
And one last thing, and then I promise to shut up. The world in question, the one that helps promote a “Culture of Rape”–um, there’s no, like, raping going on in it. None. Nope. I checked with friends. Absolutely, positively no rapage what so ever. In fact, sex don’t happen for the main characters until after they’re married, so while there might be some creepy stalking shit ongoing during part of the story, they score a big zero on the Rape-o-Meter.
So, as a word of warning: when you hold up a work as fostering a “Culture of Rape,” next time, how about getting one that doesn’t have a girl holding onto her virginity until she’s married and actually pick one that has some, you know, rape?
Cause it’s always a pain in the butt when your false dichotomy is hanging out there for everyone to see.