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While We Wait: Writer's Block & Other Lame Excuses

Discussion in 'Never Ending Stories' started by Nylan, Dec 24, 2011.

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  1. North King

    North King blech

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    Yes -- and yes, the culture of said individuals emerges more from socioeconomic circumstance than race. :p
     
  2. Disenfrancised

    Disenfrancised Beep Beep

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    Nah the writing was exhausting, especially compensating for the people who didn't really input much. The data model would have been fine on a per update basis when I'd gotten it to work right.

    Clinical depression tends to tire you out as well I found.
     
  3. das

    das Regeneration In Process

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    Fair enough. All that means is that the narrative he mentioned (if it indeed exists, I'm really not so sure) would just be irrelevant and ridiculous rather than directly the opposite of the truth. :p

    But also, it seems to me that he is talking about ethnic communities (admittedly a very vague term outside of something like actual medieval ghettos with clearly defined rabbinical leadership and social boundaries), which have both their own cultural continuities and their current socioeconomic situations influencing their relationship with the feminist trend. My point is that, speaking theoretically, you don't even need to use the concept of race to discuss African-Americans as a group; you can just discuss them as a sociocultural community, which honestly seems to make more sense anyway.
     
  4. m.t.cicero

    m.t.cicero Good Kid

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    I mean feminist movements have not always treated racial minorities well either, and I feel the reason that a lot of the frustration focused on white [insert other privileged groups here (including middle-class and above)] males is because that group is at the top of the proverbial totem pole, and suffers the least (read: no) systemic oppression. Blaming racial minorities for all of the issues women face (especially those that white women share with women of other races) really comes across as more of a divide-and-conquer strategy.

    tl;dr you're wrong
     
  5. spryllino

    spryllino Deity

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    Feminism did also originate, as a movement, in the parts of the world inhabited by white people, if I understand correctly. I suppose that was not least for socio-economic reasons, but purely on cultural grounds it's perhaps unsurprising if it is still most prevalent in the cultures that it originated in.
     
  6. m.t.cicero

    m.t.cicero Good Kid

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    That's true, and I feel like it's a big reason why there is a very very fine line between promoting women's rights in the third world and cultural imperialism. I mean stoning women for adultery is inexcusable and despicable, but making third world countries into The West 2.0 won't really work either.
     
  7. das

    das Regeneration In Process

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    Er, except you failed to actually contradict him in any way. :p

    He said that certain ethnic communities are not on good terms with feminists. Regardless of whether or not that's true, you simply responded by saying they are not on good terms with feminists for good reasons. I don't really see how he blamed minorities for any of the issues that women face, except maybe very indirectly, so...
     
  8. m.t.cicero

    m.t.cicero Good Kid

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    The references to
    really made it appear to be explicitly placing more of the blame on racial minorities than on women; I was just trying to show that at the very least it was/is a two way street [but yeah maybe that tl;dr was a bit premature :p]. It appeared (and yes, of course, this gives me plausible deniability if I misread it) to be an attempt to deflect an inordinate proportion of responsibility onto racial minorities.
     
  9. ork75

    ork75 Prince

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    Former manifesting itself as the latter....?
     
  10. Nuka-sama

    Nuka-sama See ya! It has been a fun decade!

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    Yo It's more wealth discrimination than racial...
     
  11. Lord of Elves

    Lord of Elves Suede-Denim Secret Police

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    Well, yeah, but race in America correlates overwhelmingly with socioeconomic status. But I'm not sure saying that wealth correlates with liberalism is entirely true either, especially in terms of support for feminism.

    I think it's pretty clear the point of my post was not "Racial minorities in America are against feminism because they are racial minorities." I guess I have to do this whole song and dance of explicitly pointing out the socioeconomic inequalities we are all already aware of which have resulted in significant disparities along racial lines. Certainly I am not advocating for viewing racial minorities in the United States as atavistic or socially reactionary to the man, or even as a whole. Re-elect Calhoun. :rolleyes:
     
  12. das

    das Regeneration In Process

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    There is no escape. None.
     
  13. North King

    North King blech

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    There is a song and dance that needs to be sung and danced, mostly because talking about it along racial lines obscures the [pretty important] fact that, you know, underprivileged white people tend to have similar problems (even if they have fewer challenges as a group owing to systemic racism).
     
  14. Masada

    Masada Koi-san!

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    Proportionally, the biggest consumers of rap music in the United States are young white males. I suspect the same is true for absentee fatherhood.
     
  15. Daftpanzer

    Daftpanzer canonically ambiguous

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    Tactical EMP strike on warrensofthought.com, #NES coms are down. Activate emergency protocol.
     
  16. spryllino

    spryllino Deity

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    What I find interesting, actually, about this discussion is why LoE said that

    I must say that I hadn't noticed this being a feature of such denunciations - although this may be me being English and reading different things - and I would like to see LoE explain what he means. Are internet denunciations of patriarchy really always (or generally) rooted in such a narrative?

    If it is indeed true that there is a prevaling notion that white guys hate women the most, however, it strikes me that LoE does have a point: it seems likely that they probably don't - and, as NK says, it has to do with socio-economic circumstances and is independent of race as such.

    If so, or even if not so, NK's objections to LoE's point don't make much sense, since as far as I can see LoE is trying to correct an existing bias in a "narrative" that he sees, inasmuch as such a bias exists; he isn't, as far as I can see, trying to suggest anything new to black/Hispanic people's disadvantage.

    The worst that can be said about LoE's point, in my view, is that his premise about this "narrative", the existence of which I have not personally taken note of, may not actually hold water. I don't think there's anything racist about it, or a song-and-dance-routine's necessity or otherwise really comes into it.
     
  17. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

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    Irrelevant racial lens? The show is rife with themes of racial dissatisfaction and white savior syndrome. Even the show's "good guy" comes off the line spouting bone-headed racist remarks. He gets better, of course, but that isn't the point. Race and racism are hardly irrelevant to Breaking Bad.

    Consider that most of Walter's primary antagonists throughout the show are non-whites, excepted solely by the presence of Lydia and the Nazis in Season 5 (more on this later) - non-whites who almost always have a better "motive and cue for action" than Walter does, although they are unilaterally painted in a negative way and all of them must die to satisfy Walter's ambitions. I think the show is most accurately read as an allegory for white privilege.

    Walter White is your cookie cutter old working-class white guy, also thoroughly dissatisfied with his life. But his dissatisfaction is based on privilege. Consider his grievances: he hates his job (both of them), his kid has cerebral palsy, his college friends are more successful than him, his brother-in-law is a jackass, and nobody gives him any "respect." Well, why the hell should they? His life's actually pretty damn decent. He has a beautiful wife, a son (palsy or not), a steady secure middle-high income job (he owns a pool for chrissakes).

    All of this, somehow, does not register at all in his mind. The reason is because it does not contribute to any kind of lasting, momentous legacy. He has an intense sense of pride and his entire attitude towards the world can be summed up as "but what have you done for me?"

    He gets diagnosed with cancer which is, admittedly, a bad turn - but we're all going to die anyway, so no point throwing a hissy fit about it. His first thought, and perhaps this is to his credit, is what is he going to do for his family? But they are swiftly moved to the wayside by his pride. He rejects the opportunity for a good steady high-income job with Schwarz because it does not satisfy his pride to accept it. By refusing to be humble, by refusing to acknowledge that life sucks sometimes, by in other words seeing the potential of a life built by himself, for himself, with no regard given to anyone else, he precipitates the deaths of countless individuals and the destruction of many more lives.

    I maintain that he is therefore a poster child of white privilege mentality. He thinks the world owes him something (also because he's "smart" though how smart can he be stuck working at a high school really) and all his actions are consistent with such a belief. He thinks he got a raw deal. For most of his life, he doesn't act on this. He is the Adam Smithian idle law-abider. But when he is put up against the wall and forced to see the end of the tunnel, he indulges his sense of self by placing it at the forefront.

    The theme of pride and legacy and selfishly building oneself up, even by the sweat of one's own brow, is a principle theme in Breaking Bad. The most important racial aspect here is the idea that his self-building up is done at the expense of other people.

    Walter comes into conflict with other individuals, particularly darker-skinned ones, for most of the show. This is meant to demonstrate the strife between white privilege and the so-called typical criminal element. For the most part, the motivations of the cartel members are easy to understand, though they are of course layered: Tuco and the Brothers are acting for what they believe is their family - their family's honor, glory, etc, a wretched parody of the family-centered ethics present in a lot of Italian mafia flicks and TV shows - Gus is motivated by revenge and ambition, but he also has his own ethics. He is like the Michael Corleone of the show. Mike Ehrmantraut is motivated by his niece's well-being.

    For the first four seasons, Walter is pitted against non-whites whose motive and cue for passion originates in things outside of themselves, whereas Walter is completely in it for his own aggrandizement. He destroys them all in turn, until all that's left is other white people - the Nazis, we'll say, and Lydia, who has no ethics whatsoever. These people, like Walter, care only about their own aggrandizement, but other than that they have no ethics. They are blind, unfeeling aggression. Pointless, howling hatred scrabbling around in the dark.

    The point here is that anti-heroes like Walter create their own problems, and that his notions of privilege, what he thinks the world owes him, ultimately create a world wherein all there is to associate with are the shattered remnants of a meaningful society. It is only after Walter has created this paradigm, and been cast apart from the tattered remains of the whole, that he is forced to look into the black pits of his soul and conclude irretrievably that he has been the one to blame for all of this. When you are arrogant and refuse to associate with others in ways that take their feelings and motives into account, then you will be alone.

    The foils to Walter in this are Hank and Jesse. Hank is a bumbling but thoroughly well-meaning cop who starts out as kind of a racist douchebag but his character develops into a really great one. For starters, he is completely the opposite of Walt. He is the same age and has the same stuff - a wife and a house and a good living - but he is not dissatisfied with his life. Maybe it's because he's doing what he loves, and in fact that's probably the case after all*. But the point is that unlike Walt, he thinks about other people and other people's needs. He constantly reminds Walt that he and Marie will be there to help out, and he's always visiting them at their house. He's the only person to do so consistently. He has a strong sense of ethics and when he snaps and hurts Jesse he subjects himself to immediate introspection and concludes that it was him who screwed up, not any system that should have done better by him. He is, in other words, a white person with all the trappings of privilege but none of the attitudes of it, and he is destroyed by someone who is dissatisfied with merely being in the upper crust of society.

    Jesse, meanwhile, is a disaffected youth who is just trying to make it in the world. Effectively nobody cares about him until he meets a girl (whom Walter then kills, what a swell guy). Even though he is young and started the whole meth thing, he is not comfortable with wanton killing, and he has a sense of ethics guided by his desire to find meaning and purpose in his life. Jesse is a very complicated character and I cannot do him justice in one paragraph, but suffice it to say he is nothing like the selfish Walt.

    The up-shot of all this is that Walt has a lot of reason to be satisfied with his life but is whiny and entitled in a way that Skyler cannot hope to match (though, granted, she certainly does her damnedest to try). The difference between Walt and Skyler is that Skyler never asked for any of it. Walt did, and in fact acted continually to impose an untenable life situation on his family - by all means, people whom he should be protecting and supporting - so it is difficult to blame Skyler for bad reactions. Although it certainly stands to reason that what she should have done was filed for divorce the moment the meth thing came out, these decisions can be difficult to make.

    That said, it takes Walter Jr. standing up to him to realize that he, in fact, destroyed his family rather than saved it also shows Walter's inherent sexism. Skyler's dissatisfaction is constantly written off, but Walt Jr's dissatisfaction becomes an immediate item of concern. There are other small elements of sexism written in throughout the series: Walt viewing Gerda as a trophy he should have won, Hank writing off Lydia's mismatched shoes as the result of his own personal bias imposed by having a wife who has obsessive-compulsive disorder, women, in general, being items to be fought over or protected (or killed if they dare be uppity, i.e. Jane). But I will gladly admit that women, in this, are at least not especially victimized because Walt is an indiscriminate murderer. He is an equal-opportunity bastard.

    As usual, Thlayli, you have demonstrated that you did not think about this for more than 30 seconds. I'd say I'm disappointed but I'm really just sad. "This is ignoring that the collaborationist decisions Skyler ultimately made towards the male authority figures in her life were highly anti-feminist." Talk about a simplistic analysis. What the hell do you think "feminism" is, anyway?

    This post is too long and rambly and I am sorry for that, but I realized a pithy reply to your post would A. not have been worth it, and B. wouldn't have fully communicated my intentions (although I probably failed in that anyway). I am well-aware that I am painted as a frothing at the mouth wannabe-SJW liberal nutjob but it is not like I spend all day thinking of new ways to be insane. The concepts of privilege, sexism, etc are things I spend a very lot of time thinking about and I have concluded it is difficult to say that women and blacks do not get the short end of the stick in our society, and often this manifests in ways and behaviors that are not fully explicit e.g. slave-owning. It's gotten better, sure, as you conservatives oft-remind us - but just because something has gotten better does not mean it has gotten good.

    *Oops forgot to expound on this. A theme I haven't had time to fully explore is the wider theme that the real problem at work is that people are prevented from self-actualizing, as can be the case with Walter. Hank has a lot of room to associate in meaningful ways because he is satisfied with his life because he is doing what he wants to. But Walter only finds succor in cooking meth. There is nothing inherently wrong with the act of mixing chemicals to make meth crystals, but it is nevertheless illegal, and the product is dangerous, so it puts him at odds with the wider society. Still, though, it is an inherently harmless act that he enjoys for its own benefits. Despite Walter's outrageously evil tendencies, it is implied that, beneath his warped sense of perception, is the simple ability to enjoy the beauty of chemistry. Gail's character sort of represents Walt's inner sense of wonder in this, and his recitement of the poem "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" is a very stirring and meaningful scene in the whole series. The very final scene also pays homage to Walt's true love of chemistry. Maybe, at the end of the day, all Walt needed was to just do something he really loved, and then maybe nothing else would have mattered as much? And what we see as privilege, racism, sexism, conflict, strife, etc are in fact the petty conflicts constructed by passionless lives? Well, that might be taking it far - some people are passionate about revenge, after all, as established. It is also an oversimplification in any case, but it just makes me think.
     
  18. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    90% of the themes you expostulated, while incisive and clever, failed to expound on your initial idea that the criticism of Skyler (which you assumed to be white and male, because reasons) was inherently rooted in sexism, rather than legitimate (and non-gendered) critiques of her actions.

    You succeeded in establishing common themes of the show at large but in doing so obfuscated the issue and failed to respond to the prompt. C--. Had this been a debate about white privilege, you might have succeeded in winning it, but it's not.

    White privilege /= sexism, as LoE already pointed out for your benefit.
     
  19. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

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    Erm... well... I think criticism of Skyler is largely gender-related because I think a lot of the show's viewers sympathize with Walter unironically, them empathizing with the point of view of a dissatisfacted white male.

    But fine, go ahead, mock me and pretend to be all high and mighty over my poor, stupid little liberal head. And to think I was going to give you a sneak preview of my new NES. Le sigh! Oh, woe is me - I think I'll go cook some meth ~
     
  20. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    I'm not mocking you, no more than you are calling me stupid for engaging in something in a superficial sense (since like, gosh you guys, conservatives are so shallow in their analysis). I hope.

    Tldr; let's agree to disagree, Breaking Bad is a good show and I prefer to look at it through a post-racial lens while you're taking more of a classical liberal interpretation of class-race conflict. Literary (or in this case, television) criticism allows for that.
     
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