Saturday, November 2, 2013

Likes, Unlikes and Networking

Don't read this blog if your time is tight or you have to operate heavy machinery. Even though it touches on the core issue of divisiveness in human society being easy and connecting being unnecessarily complicated. I don't like schmoosing and yet since 1984 I have been directing shorts and since 1988 writing a feature script per year along with anything else I've written - to mixed results - and I hear a lot about networking, usually showing up in a class of folks who all want to direct or a venue that requires voices raised above the music. I know enough about myself that I am not a screamer and my ideas are subtle enough that they will lose something at high volume. Sometimes you want people to lean in out of curiosity. I once attended an info meeting for Cine-Coup and there among the crowd sitting peacefully was producer and famous A.D. John Board whose posts I constantly see on Facebook and have posted comments on and liked. I had a moment where I realized I am actually hesitating about saying high to a Facebook friend. I walked up and said hi and what do you think and what are you working on - all generic questions and everything BUT the one thing I was too sensitive to ask. Like this is the wrong place and maybe I don't know him well enough to ask how his cancer treatment is going with bee stings. Half an hour later, I notice he is surrounded by a huddle of other guys I didn't recognize all having a serious connective conversation - after all, it's no secret that he has been promoting his documentary about the bee sting experiment for ages and he is all about promoting homeopathic medicine. So I felt very face-palm about that very dot-nose bit of social awkwardness. The guy I knew John through had just lost a wife to cancer, and even my own late father was tough to talk to about cancer, but for me I think I choke when it comes to getting very personal in public. This doesn't mean that I can't discuss an ISSUE and stay on the ISSUE and have it be regardless of the reaction it cause. There is a great axiom, "Disregard the fruits of your actions." I find that it applies when expressing anything in public. There are any number of nutty reasons why people might either ignore a comment or be incited by it. Provocative dress came up in a Facebook discussion recently, as to whether it provokes. If someone is looking to cull through Facebook numbers, I generally hope I make the cut and don't get abandoned by someone. Even if I don't notice for another year. I recently discovered that someone had not only dumped me but blocked me so that people in a discussion were reacting to interjections I could not see. I'd be lying if I said I am not curious to hear how I earned that distinction. I suspect that it was meeting this person back home and having less to say than a talkative mutual friend I was with. It's a bit like the moment on Seinfeld where Jerry first steps out and leaves George to fill silence with Elaine. Except that I had been in a play with this actress, got along well with her, asked her out, and happened to meet her boyfriend who was involved with film and a cool person, then she went back home and we lost touch. But in person if I have been sitting watching a play or in transit and silent it is an effort to get back up to speed to converse. So maybe I seemed like an aloof dick. So that kind of thing I get. I can settle for guess work. Most of the time I can freely interject into any Facebook discussion or under any post that seems like something hasn't yet been said about a topic. I expect the same on my own posts. People click like or maybe add an element of information that might be lacking or a quip. I find that there are a few Republicans and conservatives who post inexplicable support for things like Fox News but even then I stay on point if I post and it is about the subject and people should assume that my heart is in the right place. I have family members that are more conservative than myself, and I can clash on the issues and scratch my head over a stance, but still wish only the best. Surely I'm not alone in having friends or family with whom there is disagreement on a few items. One thing I've learned especially from looking at youtube and imdb discussions is that if I ever achieve a level of fame I will resolutely focus on that axiom of disregarding the fruits of your actions. As a FAN merely supporting an actor or a writer or a filmmaker, or pointing out a problem or a fact, I have had to fend off some serious vitriol. If you post on youtube, folks, be sure to do so under a different account than the one with which your own videos are uploaded or tediously disabled the ratings on each of your videos. There is really no accounting for taste, and if your main observation is that someone is a moron then it won't matter how much time you invest reasoning with them. But we want to believe the best. Let's look for reasons to write each other off. Bruce Willis and Kevin Smith have worked together on two movies, Kevin acting in Live Free or Die Hard and then directing Willis in Copout (original screenplay title "A Couple of Dicks"). Their experience on the latter has been discussed and written about by Smith and there is apparently an irreparable rift. I have all of Kevin Smith's movies and listen to his podcasts, so if you are a hardcore Bruce Willis fan you can hate me for that. I have many Bruce Willis DVDs as well, so a Kevin fan could choose to hate me for that. Does the presence of one desecrate the land occupied by the other? I dunno. I have many Mel Brooks movies and Spielberg movies, but owning 21 Mel Gibson DVDs would cause some to call me "anti-Semitic" for failing to pitch them. Even though Kevin Pollak and company seem to be anti-Gibson [with side-kick Samm Levine being an Inglorious Basterd (sic) and making Nazi references], I still watch every episode of his Chatshow. He in turn has a good relationship with both Smith and Willis, takes no side, and believes neither would care if he did. People either come to the table with a chip on the shoulder and an axe to grind or they don't. It has very little to do with what sets them off. Not that I or anyone seeks permission to have an opinion or make a judgement, but I'll use the word permissive as a place-holder until something better comes along and I'll say that in a permissive society or sphere we may not see a warning or a gauge of the over-abundance of lying and self-protective politeness. Once we understand that jealousy, judgement, and possessiveness are the current sins that are fashionable to acknowledge and your spouse says be careful on the computer not to open the file with the ex-spouse's name on it because there are candid photos if you have a problem with that then the expectation might be to pretend you can take the shock and look at the pictures and then have to reign in whatever natural discomfort there would naturally be in seeing those images rather than trying to merely distance yourself from the fact that you followed someone who was replaceable and you may also be replaceable. That might be an extreme case of trying to be politically correct in one's own home, and it might be a bubble that bursts eventually. There might be a growing detachment or suspicion or it might result in a regrettable violent reflex. Plenty of people go around thinking and projecting "I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay. . ." and then the dam crumbles and they are shocked to discover what they are capable of. It is unlikely that Loraina Bobbitt expected to cut off her husband's penis until one time too many he went to sleep after being abusive. Never let the sun set on anger, they say. So a woman like timid-seeming Ms Bobbitt can be provoked to inexplicable violence, either in self-defence, as venting, or pre-emptive attack or in revenge but judged officially as a crime of passion or a moment of black-out, or temporary insanity. So is the same possible for men? In the 1970's O.J. Simpson was appearing in movies like the Towering Inferno and Capricorn One and he was mentioned on Mork and Mindy as being the figure of worship in Exador's new religion, an the eighties found him as an accident prone, unlucky Detective Nordberg in the Naked Gun Trilogy. In the Nineties he was the star of a long-running high-rated reality TV show called The Simspon Trial. Police explained to O.J. about DNA technology and reassured him that they would find out who killed his e-wife Nichole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, so O.J.'s reaction was to jump into a bronco for a long chase ready to commit suicide. This somehow didn't come up until after the trial was over. Could a paragon of sportsmanship and a hero to many be capable of letting his pride and jealousy and the shock of losing anything in life when he is so used to winning snap and maybe black-out and become a horrible murdering thug? The Jury is actually in on that question, but it remains something difficult for people to process. Could he have anticipated this reaction? If he was mad at his ex, could he have gone for a walk like everyone else does? Maybe walking in Los Angeles is not common, so he might not have considered it. Not to seem glib, but if he can't stand being around his ex he should have made a point to avoid her home and if he has visitation with his children he could hire someone or ask a fiend to pick them up. He did not have to see Ron Goldman driving his old vehicle or put himself in a position where he might see Ron driving his former old lady. I think if people expected the worst of their reactions there would be fewer eruptions of violence. If John Wayne Bobbit expected as a course of nature that frequent abuse of his wife would inevitably cause her to snap and turn the tables, both abuse and the retaliatory incident would have been avoided and it would have been better for the health of his penis. I would be instantly killed by casual female blog readers if I suggested there was anything Nicole could have done to avoid being murdered by O.J.. I don't know what kind of regular interaction they had after the divorce. I have neglected as a citizen of Canada to read up on every American celebrity and their tragedies. I suspect that someone in O.J.'s position had not built up enough low points in life to cope with the ups and downs and losses that happen in negotiating a marriage and then the Heisman trophy winner and C-list movie participant could not process the rejection inherent in divorce and the vulnerability of his new intimate enemy possibly having enough dirt on him to fully transform his life's achievements to shit and infamy. That became a self-fulfilling prophesy as he managed to invert his fame with his own horrible alleged actions. What if someone said to you I am free to go rub that celebrated athlete's face in poop and mock him and make out with my girlfriend in front of him just because it is my right and because he has no legal recourse against me? Would you advise that this is a wise course, because after all in his shoes you know you have the capacity to take the abuse and you assume that he must be the same? And who knows whether Phil Hartman's model-pretty wife Brynn was feeling like she wasn't getting enough attention or energy out of the comedic genius who was known to be quiet in person? Maybe she didn't need much encouragement to snap and shoot him. He likely did nothing to provoke it and she was known to be unstable on the inside as contrast with her pretty exterior. Dominique Dunn had finished shooting Poltergeist (remember her flipping the middle finger to construction workers) and had started shooting the first V Mini-series when her ex-boyfriend showed up and shot her. The same thing happened to the young star of Pam Dawber's other hit sit-com My Sister Sam. How do people who were your friends or lovers get it into their heads that they can just go over and kill their object of rejection and obsession ? I don't know. I suspect it is related to the capacity to compartmentalize some of our pain to survive. That might get mis-filed. And yes, I said "object." I once had some know-it-all sanctimonious thought-police call me on that, "I'm pretty sure you just compared a person to an inanimate object" when I referred to people abandoning their bikes and being shocked when they go missing and expecting that the world will make sure nobody just TAKES what they want. Whatever else we are, ultimately we are all objects. Light falls on us a certain way, as does shadow, and we can dress for the wrong occasion. Remember the season 5 guest villain on Dexter, Jordan Chase the inspirational seminar guru with the catch phrase "Take it!" who turned out to be running an abduction, rape and torture club? Some people TAKE what they want, for whatever reason, for whatever this bike or that child or adult person represents to them. You may not steal, or deliberately hurt anyone, but you know enough to lock your bike and make sure it can't be easily clipped, and also not to just leave it in a place where people can take their time picking at it while you hit a bar. The guy I argued with once on Facebook, and a woman who chimed in to insult me, don't know how to set a separate standard for themselves and recognize that others may not be capable or interested in their concerns. It is true that the sales machine does not care a fig about the people it flatters and if an old fuddy-duddy father says to his daughter, "You're going out LIKE THAT ??!!!" he is not a fascist nor the enemy of freedom and an anti-feminist nor is be a bad parent on the scale of the mother who brings her daughter to a Hollywood party to meet a famous powerful director and leave her alone with him for a "photo shoot" even if he is well known to have lost a pregnant spouse to a murderous cult and lost his family years before in the Holocaust and is likely a guy (talented and great though he may be) who has no good reason to be left alone with an under-aged girl who just wants to be famous. The over-protective parent might be annoying but they are not the enemy. Is it human nature to look for a fight? Is that the glitch embedded into the species? Whether it is the prehistoric man discovering he can use a bone to kill a rival or an AI system like HAL running a spaceship called Discovery that is shaped like a bone, something is off kilter and running things off course. There is a time to lower your head and shuffle away with the cowed, whipped white Eddie Murphy voice, "Okay." There is also a time - in fact a great many more times - to stand ground and say no and with the obligatory "with all DUE respect" verbally kick somebody in the crotch. There are some cultures where you can punch your mates in the face and still enjoy a beer together. When you've been posting on discussion threads for years, contributing this or that perspective, and occasionally the dissenting view on someone's posts for at least 5 years it is a little galling for a random piece of flotsam to call you a troll. And yet I don't engage on a personality level and take the person down. I stick to the point. If someone wants to be abusive, I'd rather see them do it in the open where people can see that side of them. Augmenting an open back and forth with a private message that spews naked insult is childish. I'm not sure there is a consensus about where the line is drawn. Some people burn out their circuits without realize it, especially people who view themselves as progressive and aren't used to losing an argument. And if they are used to it maybe the strategy (without getting into gender the way a certain stand-up comic did) is indeed to change the subject and make it a personal attack in the hopes of provoking a psychological implosion and try to wear you down or demonize. Expect false conceits to be at the core of it - you appear to have THIS position, which means deep down something is wrong with you. I think how can this argument work in a movie. How can it fit? How can it have consequence? A pair of co-workers are discussing Sinead O'Connor being cited as the influence of Miley Cyrus' wrecking Ball video, O'Connor being badgered by media for a comment, and her deciding the comment can take the form of an article she may as well write herself and that article taking the form of an open letter, because it would indirectly reference her either way. All very logical. Then one of the office guys notices a female co-worker is in ear-shot, and dressed in skimpy attire that seems out of place in a geeky office. He decides to pipe up, "I think the O'Conner letter is slut-shaming, and it creepy me out. She seems to be saying women are responsible for being raped if they dress too provocatively." "What is provocative?" the other guy asks. "What is being provoked?" "Nothing," says kissy-face. "Here is some math for you - rapes caused by scanty dress equal zero, rapes caused by flirty or seductive behaviour equal zero, rapes caused by cock teases equal zero." "That doesn't sound like math," quips the other guy. "It sounds like smug bumper sticker campaigning." Kissy-face has a meltdown and yells incoherently at the other guy and knocks over a chair. He turns to the scantily clad young lady in the room and says it is quitting time and she can she can go home whenever she likes and nice dress and sorry about the discussion which males should not have a voice in anyway. He goes off on a tangent about feminism and accuses the other male of not being a feminist. The other male says, "Feminism is irrelevant in the western world. It's an umbrella term. I don't look down on out boss at head office just because she is female. Most people enjoyed 9 to 5 and still watch it and Working Girl (the workplace comedy with Melanie Griffith, not the one apparently about a hooker) and we pretty much agree with equal pay. I'm an ally on many of those kinds of reasonable things. That doesn't mean I have to hold up the umbrella term feminist and ask myself whether each new issue or position is feminist in order for it to be right. My position on whether a rural doctor should be forced to expand her practice to include performing abortions even if she sees it as murder would not be considered a feminist position. My opinion as to whether two lesbians can get married and adopt would however be considered feminist. Having an umbrella term allows you to demonize me for not fitting all the arbitrary criteria of it. And the jury is still out as to whether dressing sexy attracts the attention of creeps and whether standing at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere is pressing your luck. I have sisters and I've heard them and their friends laugh proudly about who they will frustrate at the bar. I'm saying frustrate the wrong person and it is Russian roulette." "I have control of myself. I'm not being caused to rape just because a woman is hot," says the kissy-face p.c. guy. "We're not talking about you or me, " says the intelligent other guy. "We are speculating about a CRIMINAL. Almost every law exists because of the FUCK-UPS and the stupid and the morally weak. We can find out what sets a rapist off if we can stand to talk to him. But we will be too busy patting ourselves on the head for being superior beings. I have every right to compare a rapist to a hyena and say it's a bad idea to get out of your vehicle and go pet one. Cee-Lo was accused of putting ecstasy into his ex-girlfriend's drink, the master of comedy who I won't name here - a beloved figure - was accused of using cold medication to knock out a woman so he could feel her up. We don't know if any of that is true but enough people are open to the possibility because they know even a nice person's head can split open and The Thing can spring out frothing at the mouth. You can be high on drugs or in self-righteous politically correct propaganda. " "Ignore him, " kissy-face says to the sexy looking female colleague. She waves goodbye and heads out the door. Both guys steal a glance at her ass. They don't learn until an hour later when the police arrive that she was brutally raped in the parking lot by a clean-cut rape-culture night-clubber who remains at large. He may have chosen her because she was alone, or maybe because she was in a mini-skirt and stooped to pick up her car keys when she dropped them. If a medical professional ever discovered that his erection took a critical amount of blood from his brain and he had no control as his baser instincts took over, that professional would likely keep it to himself/herself rather than be demonized for a suggestion that does not calm and reassure people that everything they do is A-OK the way most of their input does - from advertisers and lobby groups trying to seduce them every waking hour. The reality is that we share the same dangers in our society and nobody wants a loved one to suffer the attacks that statistics assure us are inevitable. We end up seeing a video Facebook chooses not to take down, where a guy ostensibly angry at his wife for cheating chops her head off, we hear of girls getting splashed with acid in the face for saying no to a marriage proposal, we hear of date rapes and seduction seminars preaching which buttons to press to close the deal on sex. And some people still have the audacity to fucking lecture someone like me for saying so-called Slut Walk is a joke? Of course it is. The media, the music industry, everyone who decides what is cool for the young, the prison culture for example which has contributed some fashion statements, have no sense of consequence. It is over-stimulation, and more so now that we have more distractions. It is all wrapped up with a "you're okay" rubber stamp. Someone's dress may not be what causes a guy to snap. Paul Bernardo and Karla looked for "virgins" but that had more to do with age than attire. A "slutty" clad or dressed-down girl may be the virgin just feeding off of sexual tension as flattering, and the girl who has partied heavily, been to gang-bangs and used abortion as birth control more often than condoms may look like the quaint, quiet girl next door. Like the old Eddie Murphy routine about girls who, "raise hell and then move somewhere else and get shy." But maybe there are safe behaviours and unsafe habits. Maybe there is a street-proofing and failure to street-proof even when people are not kids anymore that a stranger might steal or lure into a car. But in order to practice defensive living the way people know to practice defensive driving it might mean behaving AS IF we have some responsibility. For the way we are perceived and the way we provoke. I mean can you be provocative without provoking? Funny language, ours. By the same token, despite being civil I can be called a troll because I don't march in lock-step with the popular misconception. When that happens I have to detach and accept that some people believe their own hype and the flattery that comes with being part of the target demographic. People who are still using terms like "Slut Walk" and "slut-shaming" will campaign to get rid of the word, but a) I don't hear a lot of guys - especially adults - calling women slut. I remember Bill Murray calling Dustin Hoffman "you slut!" in Tootsie as one of the biggest laughs. I'm just as likely to use the antiquated word slattern. You know who does use the word - women, against each other. You know who polices who gets categorized as "that kind of girl" ? Girls. If a female is reputed to be easy, guys won't launch into a lecture or insults. They'll just form a line-up. Who sets the "double standard" for whether sexual history is a problem or a benefit? Again, a woman might choose a guy who is confident. If he got that way by getting lucky a lot, so be it. She likely will accept it. A man may or may not require confidence to find a woman attractive. It is not a deal breaker. He can wait for confidence to develop, just as a woman might be patient about the "bad boy" she has fallen for and she might believe she can reform him or tame him. So being "good" or "nice" is something a woman doesn't demand of a guy to date him. So again a guy has absolutely no incentive to be a virgin other than having no game or no interest in the women available. So again even the term "double-standard" is kind of a joke. It projects on people a deliberate system or intention when there is no actual artificial structure there at all. It is lobby-group-think or magazine-think. It is the quality of thought that goes into devoting one's University thesis paper to whether and why Batman and Robin are gay, Sherlock Holmes and Watson are gay, and how Anne of Green Gables is a lesbian. If it makes people feel good about themselves, then it is not a total waste of time. But it is also not scientific or logical or credible. There has been in this blog the habit of limiting gender to what is now called "binary" terms. The GBLTQ- and-sometimes-Y alphabet soup of human diversity should factor in and may even support the overall drift. The reason I think it's great if a transsexual or transgender person wins a beauty contest is that it subverts the beauty contest and undermines it in the eyes of people who love that sort of thing. When the Huffington Post declared that Gloria Steinem has the last word on the Sinead-Cyrus debate and the issue of whether media exploits sexuality too much and youth and looks, she left it at Miss America offering a valuable financial reward and paying for a winner's education so why not take advantage. But the funders of Miss America and other pageants could easily put their money into other enterprises if putting people through college is the ultimate goal. There are other accomplishments and fields of endeavor that could win someone a prize besides posing in a swimsuit and giving generic answers about world peace. Gloria doesn't have the last word. There might not be a last word with any issue that has so many moving parts. I am only thankful that I was able to write this one on somebody else's time. I will get to the bottom it eventually and crack the formula of humorless, arbitrary argument. This is the kind of crap taking up valuable real estate in my consciousness.
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