It’s OK to have a knee-jerk reaction to stupid things

Hi. I’m supposed to be going up north but the highway is closed because some truck crashed and “dangerous liquids” spilled all over it and it won’t be open until 8 and I have nothing to do but wait as the bag of frozen edamame I just bought casually melts in the car where I left it because I have basically given up on everything. (PS: I… hope everyone is OK. Truck driving is scary.)

Anyway, I thought I could make use of the time by stating a thing: if you, like me, heard about the upcoming TV show picked up by HBO to be created by the Game of Thrones showrunners D&D about an alternate universe current America in which the Confederacy won the Civil War and slavery is still legal, and if you, like me, went, “Uggggggggh,” then, trust me: it’s OK. Even though everyone’s going to call you an over-emotional SJW, your reaction is fair. At least, according to me, it is.

It’s super early, we don’t even know if it’ll actually happen, who knows what it will look like, maybe D&D will hire a black creative team and they’ll treat the subject with respect and compassion and will ensure it won’t be exploitative. But. Probably not.

Even if they do (and… I hope that they do. I hope that either they have a good creative team and they salvage something out of this terrible, terrible idea, or, that they decide not to do this at all), this should never have happened in the first place.

Slavery is one of America’s greatest shames. It’s legacy continues to affect everything that goes on there. Everything. I think it’s generally a good thing if people want to explore these issues in art, but I have noticed that it tends to be white people who really want to do it in this specific way. “Oooh, here’s a super great premise that will be really important to work through: what if slavery still existed?”

The books I’ve read that take on slavery have been fantasy written by white Americans. One is the A Song of Ice and Fire series. One is Queen of the Tearling. Both feature young plucky white girl monarchs fearlessly stepping in and ending slavery. Like. In one fell swoop. There are complications later on, sure, but they end it fast, usually in front of a large, adoring audience. Slavery as a topic shows up, I would suggest, mainly to bolster the white girl saviour queen’s awesome hero image. I loved both of these stories. When Dany has Drogon fry that incredibly over-the-top evil slave merchant, I mean, I loved that. I was a little more cynical when Kelsea declared that slavery was over now forever, but that was probably because Johansen’s book is less about the spectacle than GRRM’s are. But here’s the thing: I think a useful discussion of slavery wouldn’t be easy, spectacle-driven, ideologically clear reading/watching. It might be fun for Quentin Tarrantino to imagine what he would have done as a white guy in the slavery-era south (so, he’d be a former dentist, current bounty-hunter, and he would mess everything up because he’s too pure to shake a horrible person’s hand) (that movie is embarrassing) (good, but embarrassing), as it might be fun for us to watch young white women take down slavery infrastructure with fire. But it doesn’t help. It’s easy to say, “Slavery was bad and I wouldn’t have participated.” It’s harder to say, “We need to rethink our current prison system because it is incredibly racist and if we’re perfectly honest it is a gigantic violation of human rights and it ends up functioning in ways that are quite eerily similar to slavery, which is supposedly illegal now.” You can barely say anything even close to that if you’re a politician and you’re seriously considering earning more than, like, ten votes. But if we’re as serious about being anti-slavery as we say we are and as we think we’re demonstrating when we geek out over Dany and Kelsea, then we should probably be thinking about the modern-day ramifications and equivalents of slavery. Because. Come on.

Considering the fact that they could have picked up a show about literally anything else, it’s even more annoying. You might argue that taking on modern racism by depicting slavery as being still legal could potentially be thought-provoking and norm-challenging, but even if it turns out to be just that, why would nobody instead do an alternate universe in which the Americas were never colonized? Or taking a look at what Africa would be like today without decades of European meddling? My guess is because there aren’t really opportunities to inject white saviour narratives into stories like that. But maybe that’s me being uncharitable. (It isn’t.)

Also D&D are not good. So, even early on, I think it’s a safe assumption to fear for the worst here.

Anyway. Be angry, it’s perfectly valid, you don’t have to wait and watch a show about modern day legal slavery before you’re allowed to say that it’s probably not a great idea and that you’re not interested and that most other ideas would have been better for a new TV show.

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Yesterday was scary but my job helped, or, here, look at pictures of animals

All right. Well. If you’re like me, you’re kind of scared and you don’t know what to do, because somehow someone who has no business tying his own shoes is president and he’s surrounded by people who might actually be capital E evil, and things seem, surprisingly, a lot worse than they already did.

I don’t know what to do. But yesterday was my Friday, so I was at work, and that helped. I cater to animals’ needs at the shelter, so all day I had a purpose and I got to take care of cute things (and one really angry, mangey, bitey cute thing but that’s OK too). It wasn’t even a good day. Like I’m pretty sure one of our dogs died. Last I heard he was in intensive care not improving. So.

But still. And it’s all I’ve got to share, so here are some pictures I’ve taken over the years. Enjoy, if you can.

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This one gives the best hugs.

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I don’t really know why such a thing as this exists, but I’m certainly not complaining.

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Making himself useful by putting his fur on all of the clean bedding, thanks partner.

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I always thought it was funny when they’d sit up there together like that.

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This was a gigantic bunny and was in rough shape. And there were ten of them in one (tiny) room. The morning after they arrived I was the one assigned to cleaning them all, so when I went in, not knowing what to expect, all of these GIGANTIC rabbits were all thumping, which is a sign of pure rabbit rage. It was the most intimidating thing I’ve ever experienced.

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This blurry picture of these fuzzballs.

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Fostering kittens is the best.

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This gentle giant named Scooby really wanted to be a lap dog. It was painful.

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Friendly guy.

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The true purpose of kiddie pools is for puppy-whelping.

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This is when a puppy is at its best: barely mobile and more or less clean. And doesn’t have teeth yet.

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Those blue eyes though.

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Chili’s (Chili is, unwisely, mine) twin sisters.

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Romeo was at large for at least a month. This was the first day I was allowed to walk him.

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It’s almost time for itty bitty season. Which is both cute and the worst thing to ever happen, ever. Kittens. Man.

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She wasn’t at the shelter but she’s cute.

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Paisley and Nigel, unconcerned about the decorative spiders they’re sharing space with. (She would later give him calici.)

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True story: once I was too lazy to move this xpen aside to get a toy I needed to clean, so I just tried to bend myself over the gate to grab it. In my defense, I’m reasonably tall, and I didn’t want to go in there because there were eight of these and they’d converge four to a leg and bite my scrub pants. Anyway. I wasn’t tall enough, and I fell head first into the pen with them.

Luckily they were too shocked to bite my pants. Also somehow I didn’t die, or even get injured at all.

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They were cute and all but I hope we don’t get more.

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And we leave off with a fundraiser photoshoot that I snuck up on for a picture of my own. These guys were left in a park.

Anyway. I’ll be back at work on Sunday, and until then, this’ll have to keep me distracted.

Of course, they could start trying to impeach him, too. That would help.

100 Books: March

January. February.

I diiiiiiiid it.

OK I didn’t read 96 books this month. But I did read 10.

… all right so I cheated a little. Two of them I’d already read half of, one is a novelette, two are essays, and one is a 100-page kids book. But I consulted my sister (you remember hershe used to regularly contribute to this blog but then decided to be a full time student on top of being a full time employee as well as moving to the worst city known to humanity in which the zombie apocalypse, should it ever happen, will definitely be beginning in) and she said that short fiction (and short non fiction, I guess) is broadly defined as something you read in one sitting. So. I didn’t read even the shortest thing on this list in one sitting. Also, I’ve been reading JK Rowling novels in one sitting since the age of 11, so shut up.

Anyway next month I plan on reading an anthology so that has to count for something.

Here are the books I read in the order that I completed them.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

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I hadn’t ever read a Toni Morrison book before and after reading this one, I was livid. I mean. I have an English degree. I took postmodernism and American lit and not once did a Morrison book show up on any of my syllabuses, which makes no sense. Did I really have to read The Sound and the Fury twice? Did I really need that terrible one about the sociopath accountant in my life? No, is the answer. Morrison is a titan. This book was extremely disturbing and I need some time before I revisit her.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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I and everyone else read The Hate U Give this month. I thought Thomas handled her difficult and extremely relevant subject matter very well, connecting one horrifying, life-altering encounter to Starr’s smaller experiences of everyday racism. This book has seen major success so far, and there will be a movie adaptation soon, so I hope this means it makes an impression on its young target audience.

The Story of Lamia and Pan by CM Blackwood

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This was like reading an old fairy tale – lots of gore, anger, and bitterness as well as magic and romance. The difference was that the protagonists were two women (well, one was a female elf, but still), and their romance was a supportive unity rather than the sort of thing you see with the girl and the king in Rumpelstiltskin, if you’d like one example of weird relationships we’re supposed to root for in fairy tales.

We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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I deliberated over buying this one because early in the month Adichie implied that trans women aren’t real women, but I’m glad I read it ultimately. A lot of it was stuff I’d already read in all the think pieces all over the internet, but I think there was enough of a unique focus in here to make it worthwhile reading. Of course, I couldn’t help but notice all of the times she focused on the male/female binary, which is something I don’t think anyone can speak eloquently about if they misunderstand how that binary impacts the most vulnerable among us. I’ve got to find some trans rights stuff to read for next month.

Unicorns of Balinor: Secrets of the Scepter by Mary Stanton

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I used to love this series until Harry Potter happened and I forgot all about it, so I wanted to revisit to see what I used to enjoy. I wasn’t thrilled with it this time around. The characters were a little one-note and the adventure was lacking a bit. But it’s the story of a young woman on a magic quest to prove that she’s worthy of leadership, and I’m grateful that I and other kids had this story growing up.

Guns by Stephen King

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America.

Real quick:

***So I’m really excited about It, even if it is only part 1 (which is a huuuuge mistake imho. One of the biggest problems of the tv movie is that it split the kids’ and adults’ stories. In the book it all happens together and is WAY better mirrored like that but whatever.) because it is probably my favourite book ever and I’m really trying to temper my excitement because a) it’ll probably just be OK and b) the subject matter of “Guns” is very serious.***

This essay of King’s is sobering and very sad. There’s one part where he makes a false equivalency between Fox News and MSNBC – Fox and MSNBC are not two sides of the same spectrum. One is very significantly off on its own. But I appreciate what his point was in that part anyway. I just came away from this like I come away from anything to do with America’s gun violence problem: feeling completely hopeless.

Who Killed Edie Montgomery by CM Blackwood

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One that I started in 2016 and finally finished! So although I liked the ending that the protagonists got, I was less happy about the actual ending of the book (spoiler: the bad guy, being pretty much a demon, continues to do terrible things). Also, I would have preferred less of the long parties where everyone acts suspicious and shallow, and more Mary and Jessica, or more Mary sleuthing.

Two things about this book: One – Jessica is my favourite love interest this month. Chris in The Hate U Give mildly annoyed me a couple of times and Niko from Vengeance Bound was flipping insufferable. Jessica is just nice, and funny, and supportive. I wish I knew why YA male love interests have to be such jerks, but all I know is that Jessica wasn’t and it was much better that way. And two – Jessica’s murder scene, and everything to do with male violence against women, is somehow depicted here in a way that isn’t… gross? It’s hard to explain but here’s an easy example: Game of Thrones really likes to show rape and murder of women, and the times when they show rape and murder of men don’t, you know, fix that problem. It just makes it worse. Somehow they don’t know this. This book wants us to care about the female victims and it’s as shocking to me now as it was when I started reading what a difference that makes.

Our culture sucks.

Vengeance Bound by Justina Ireland

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This is like if Twilight had been much better, and somewhat less romance-focused. The writing is tighter, the main character is more interesting and more likable, her friends that she’s lying to are more interesting and likable, her love interest is slightly more likable (that’s not saying much, I know, but still), anytime violence against women is brought up it’s always a bad thing and not, you know, the main part of the romance, and the supernatural element is the female protagonist’s burden and it’s way cooler. Harpies > Vampires. It’s just the way it is.

The one thing I didn’t like was Niko, the love interest. He kept smiling wickedly which made me think of this:

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Maybe it’s just me. Maybe there’s some stuff I should work through with a therapist. But honestly I think it’s just that generally, my 100 books this year so far are just not pulling their weight in making me care about who their protagonists care about. We’ll see.

Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson

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The other one I’d already read half of. This book was beautiful and haunting and I loved every minute of it. It’s my favourite this year so far and I wish I could adequately explain it. My review of the first half is a start, I guess.

Luna Station Quarterly, Issue 029

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I don’t think a literary journal is cheating! This was a lot of fun. My favourites are probably “Sex After Fascism,” “Genie’s Retirement,” and “An Astronaut Lights a Candle.” I’m glad I found this journal and I think I’ll be going through their backlog soon.

April is calling. Hopefully I’ll like next month’s love interests a little better.

Power Rangers, The Lion King, Scar, and Reverence for Nostalgia

All right so I watched this review:

I plan to see Power Rangers because the trailer promised a gritty, YA-novel version of the silly show I used to watch as a six-year-old so obviously I’m there. I have very low expectations. I’m willing to put up with some boringness and way too much angst. I read the entirety of the Twilight series, so I’m immune at this point to popular YA-type angst and awful storytelling. I am looking forward to the action, though, because although I can’t really remember, I’m pretty sure that Xena-loving kid me severely dug that there were two action girls in this show, so, I’m excited.

But my expectations have been low since I heard there would be a Power Rangers movie. Because it’s Power Rangers. I was six and I knew it was stupid. It was the good kind of stupid, obviously, but stupid nonetheless.

It’s a fine line to walk, because I don’t think children’s entertainment has an excuse to be lazy and incompetent just because it’s for kids, and I also acknowledge that there are big fans of Power Rangers who maybe see something profound in the various TV versions of it that have existed for decades. But I don’t know – I feel like at the end of the review when he says something about how he’d punch someone if they adapted something he’d loved as a kid like this, he’s engaging a little too seriously with treating Power Rangers like a nostalgia property that should be worshiped like some sort of deity.

I might change my mind when I actually see it later this week, but I don’t know. I wish they’d made a fun Power Rangers movie (this and other reviews I’ve seen suggest it unfortunately wasn’t made with “fun” being the major point of the whole thing), but probably they went with angsty and overlong because they wanted it to resemble the teen dystopia stuff that sells, so. Fine.

But here’s a thought exercise for myself on this lukewarm Monday evening: what’s a nostalgia property that might be adapted so badly that I would want to find the filmmakers and punch them?

Well obviously The Lion King.

All I know about the live action CGI Lion King remake is that Donald Glover and James Earl Jones have been cast, which is good. But today my coworker turned up the Broadway Lion King soundtrack way too loudly (also he sang along wrong, singing lines too fast or too slow or outright missing key words, and then when he noticed that I was unimpressed he had the gall to ask, “Don’t you like The Lion King?” and I thought “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU’RE SPEAKING TO RN” but I settled for saying, “Yes, but-” and then he started singing along incorrectly again) and I remembered that song, “The Madness of Scar,” and how it’s actually kind of terrible.

It’s fine as a song goes, I guess. It’s funny. It was entertaining to watch on stage, mainly because Scar is the worst and it’s fun to laugh at him. But it gets laughs out of enhancing Scar’s Shakespearean villain “being haunted by the terrible thing he did” thing into HILARIOUS mental illness. And how he was never loved as a child. And then he decides what’s missing is a wife, so, he gets weird about Nala. And none of this was necessary. So I look at this and think, “The last time they adapted The Lion King, the biggest difference is that they went for sympathy – mocking, maybe, but sympathy still – for Scar, who as far as I’m concerned deserves very little sympathy. So who’s to say that in the remake, rather than perhaps outright acknowledging Timon and Pumbaa’s queerness, they’ll just add trauma or mental illness to try to make Scar sympathetic and everything will be awful?????”

So let’s talk about what the upcoming Lion King remake might do to Scar that would encourage me to write a song in which I shriek at myself about how angry I am because SOMEONE MISSED THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE ORIGINAL SO I MEAN WHY WOULD THEY EVEN BOTHER REMAKING IT IF THEY NEVER GOT WHAT WAS SO GOOD ABOUT IT IN THE FIRST PLACE GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

Scar, for reasons that will remain eternally unknowable, has a fanclub. A pretty big one. So does Frollo, so, it doesn’t really mean anything apart from confirming that people watch movies and only pay attention to certain parts, I guess, but Scar’s fanclub does exist. If the filmmakers decide to throw them a bone and give Scar some sympathy, a couple of things begin to fall apart.

If Scar is sympathetic because he was abused or neglected as a child, our suspicions turn to Mufasa. Why didn’t Mufasa look out for his little brother? Now, look, Mufasa doesn’t have to be flawless – but what would be the point in giving him a pretty unforgivable flaw? Not looking out for your smaller brother is not cool.

Look at how the Thor/Loki dynamic turned out with the Marvelverse’s audience. And Thor tries, even, but it’s not enough. The fact that Loki is incurably selfish does very little to correct how freaking likable he is. Scar, I would suggest, can be likable without being sympathetic. We can like that he as a set goal in mind and that he achieves it. But then when he snivels and schemes and tries to blame everything on the hyenas, and when he throws Simba’s mercy quite literally right back in his face, and also before all of this when he’s scheming to murder his own brother and nephew, and also all of the nasty emotional abuse? Yeah. I don’t need to sympathize with any of that.

Making Scar a victim of childhood neglect, or perhaps even trauma, depending on where he got that scar that he’s apparently now named after, is, as far as I’m concerned, a mistake. Because The Lion King doesn’t need its villain to have a fleshed-out childhood trauma narrative. Simba is all we need.

Simba is a little baby just living his life when his uncle tries to feed him to hyenas, twice. And in between the first and second hyena-feeding attempts, he watches his father die, and then is made to believe that it was his own fault.

Simba and Scar have a conversation near the beginning of the movie where Scar calls himself “A monkey’s uncle,” and calls Simba his favourite nephew. This conversation would be sweet. If. You know. Scar weren’t trying to gode his baby nephew into running right into hyena jaws to try to prove his bravery. Scar is emotionally manipulative from the beginning. After all, he was next in line for the throne, until the little hairball was born. Simba is an obstacle in the way of Scar’s power, and must be removed.

Do we really need an extensive childhood-trauma backstory of Scar‘s to explain why he does the things he does?

Look at two things. One: American politics. Right now. Paul Ryan is very upset because his first big attempt to take down Obamacare failed. Really think about that. Paul Ryan’s ambition is to take health care away from poor people. He wants poor people to die. Sure, he probably doesn’t kneel at his bedroom window, gazing up at Evangeline, praying, “Please let me make it harder for poor people to get access to necessary health care, Evangeline, please.” Probably he really does believe that people who deserve health care will just magically be able to afford it, and that poverty only exists because liberals make capitalism malfunction by making people pay taxes or something. And for sure he has a whole, complicated personality and backlog of memories and experiences that have led him to this point, which, I remind you, is that he wants poor people to die. But. I don’t need to sympathize with him.

Let me. OK. Look. I work at an animal shelter. People in my industry, whether they’re shelter workers or even if they just work in animal medicine, have a kind of troubling suicide tendency. This line of work is hard. It puts you face to face with suffering animals and the people who outright refuse to care about them, so we work doubly hard, trying to make up for the apparently endless callousness of humanity. Emotional labour is exhausting and, unfortunately, it’s finite. I’ve met some people who maybe started out working with animals out of a love they thought was endless, but then it turned out that love did end, and they became kind of awful. An example of something I saw that was somewhat disturbing but not actually unethical was a coworker of mine was ripping feathers out of a dead hawk for a craft someone was doing. It was really violent. The hawk was dead, so, it was fine, but I said to her, “I don’t think I could do that, even though he’s obviously not suffering.” And she laughed and said, “Working here does things to you.” We need a bit of callousness for ourselves; we have to wear it as armour, but we have to be careful or we turn into monsters. So I’ll say: we need to empathize as much as possible with as many people (and animals) as possible, but there are limits. There have to be. Right now, I’m empathizing with the people Paul Ryan is fine (happy, even!) letting die, and not him.

So like. If there’s a Trumpcare movie, I don’t need a whole sob story about Paul Ryan to explain why he has the terrible ambitions that he has. The emotional focus should be on those vulnerable people he’s giddily trying to harm.

And, less depressingly, two: Remember when Star Wars tried to explain what turned Darth Vader to the dark side?

Yeah.

I think the best decision here is to just do what the original movie did. Scar is like those privileged frat guys who do horrible things even though they’ve lived more or less unchallenging lives. Sure, maybe they’ve had a bit of sadness here and there, but they’re not mentally ill (and we need to stop stigmatizing mentally ill people as the only – or even the usual type of people who do terrible things because usually not. Usually they’re the victims of violent crimes, in fact), and they’re not victims of childhood trauma and neglect (also we need to stop stigmatizing these). I think you can be pretty dark without enduring significant pain in your past. I think you can have dark ambitions and a gigantic propensity to hurt others even if your parents were basically all right to you. See Donald Trump. See George W. Bush. See Dick Cheney omg it’s always a better day when I don’t remember that man exists. *Shudder*

Why? Who knows. Probably it’s culture. Toxic masculinity, rampant individualism, anti-intellectualism, every type of bigotry and how institutionalized bigotry rewards privileged people for not noticing it. And in the utopia of the Pride Lands? Well, it’s probably because he’s a lion. Lions stand in for humans in this story (because, ahem, we’ve casually forgotten that there are humans in Africa. Also Tarzan does this). They’re the top of the food chain, kings because if they treat the ecosystem poorly everyone starves, but they’re benevolent and instead work to keep the circle of life working properly. But they don’t have to. If Scar does unethical things to gain and keep power and it works? Why should he do the hard work of ruling properly when doing the opposite has worked for him so far?

“The Madness of Scar” suggests that Scar is surprised and a little sad that he isn’t loved the way Mufasa was. I’ll firmly suggest that the Scar I know, voiced by Jeremy Irons with a perpetually smug look on his face unless he thinks he’s seeing his brother’s ghost or if the nephew he kept trying to murder when he was a baby is now an adult and is getting the better of him, DOES NOT CARE ABOUT BEING LOVED.

Banzai: Hey, boss!

Scar: Oh, what is it this time?

Banzai: We’ve got a bone to pick with you.

Shenzi: I’ll handle this. Scar, there’s no food, no water –

Banzai: Yeah! It’s dinner time, and we ain’t got no stinking entrees!

Scar: It’s the lionness’s job to do the hunting.

Banzai: Yeah but they won’t go hunt!

Scar: Oh, eat Zazu.

*Zazu and Scar argue about whether Zazu would taste good*

Banzai: And I thought things were bad under Mufasa.

Scar: WHAT DID YOU SAY?

Banzai: I said Muf- I said, uh, que pasa?

Scar: Good. Now get out.

Banzai: Yeah but, we’re still hungry.

Scar: OUT!

And then later, in public…

Scar: Where is your hunting party? They’re not doing their job.

Sarabi: Scar, there is no food. The herds have moved on.

Scar: No, you’re just not looking hard enough.

Sarabi: It’s over. There is nothing left. We have only one choice: we must leave Pride Rock.

Scar: We’re not going anywhere.

Sarabi: Then you have sentenced us to death.

Scar: So be it.

Sarabi: You can’t do that!

Scar: I am the king, I can do whatever I want.

Sarabi: If you were half the king Mufasa was you wouldn’t –

Scar: I’m TEN TIMES the king Mufasa was!

All Scar wants, the entirety of his desire, is to do whatever he wants. Which is, apparently, listening to happy tunes (but NOT “It’s a Small World”) in a cave. He doesn’t want the responsibility of keeping things in balance, which keeps everyone fed, especially considering that letting the hyenas have free reign is a major factor in his gaining and keeping power, and the hyenas having free reign ruins the balance. So.

He’s a Republican, is what I’m saying. The Lion King is about the responsibilities of power, after all, and Disney’s chosen metaphor for this is a family group of big cats where the big, scary male is in charge but actually all of the hard work is done by the females (heh heh heh). Scar’s politics are nonsense and ecologically devastating. And he hates women. What he wants and what he needs don’t actually work together. His staunch refusal to do what is necessary is so staunch that he’s willing to starve to death himself, just as long as he gets to be king (like all of those Trump voters who will likely lose their health care).

Even his guilt about Mufasa is more about his fear of losing power than it is about his fear of facing his own conscience. Probably the only law he ever enacts is the law that states that you can’t say the name “Mufasa” in his presence, because, as he screams at Zazu, “AM THE KING!” He has to keep screaming this, and banning Mufasa’s name, not because he’s secretly sad that he murdered his brother, but because he knows that once the lionesses learn that he stole power they’ll turn on him.

Scar is not sympathetic. Do you want to know how he got that scar? OK I know there’s a cool Lion Guard or The Lion King: Expanded Universe official explanation of it but here’s mine and I think it’s better: he got on the bad side of a lioness. He doesn’t even need to have been Frollo-esque rapey, to be honest (pretty sure his “unwanted affections,” if he were to have any, would be directed at the males of the species anyway). Maybe, since he’s a bully, he bullied her cub, or her sister, or something. Maybe she gave him what he deserved. I don’t know why he would be called “Scar” because of this, though. Frankly, even if he got scarred as a very small cub, that part makes no sense. But the rest of it does, right? I’m sure he has depth and motivations, but like the politicians and terrible frat guys I’m comparing him to here, they don’t mean much to decent people like you, me, and even the hyenas, in the end. Scar is the worst. He should garner no sympathy.

But erm, you say. What does this have to do with you thinking that Power Rangers doesn’t really need to be any good?

Not much, I have to admit. I think my point is that I can understand being angry at bad adaptations, ultimately because if the original works and then the remake changes one thing without radically changing everything else connected to it, everything falls apart. But Power Rangers, no matter what anyone says, isn’t The Lion King. It’s five teenagers doing martial arts and joining into a huge mechasuit or whatever and while that is awesome and while it deserves an earnest, fun, “rah-rah let’s be heroes” blockbuster movie, if its filmmakers dropped the ball and made it too YA-angsty for it to truly be as good as it could have been, well, it isn’t really a tragedy.

But that’s only my opinion. And I kind of liked the Rangers as a kid, but I memorized the other thing. I memorized it. So, of course my opinion would be that Power Rangers being good is far less important than Donald Glover+CGI everything The Lion King being good.

Shrug.

PS: I’m happy about the CGI, in case I made it seem like I’d prefer Disney to use real animals. Big cats aren’t actors and shouldn’t ever be. People hit them in the face as cubs to teach them to defer to human trainers. Also eventually some of them snap and maul and/or kill people so there’s that too.

I looked for the video I saw of leopards being hit but couldn’t find it. But who needs that, am I right?

Things I Saw Last Week

Specifically, things that are mostly related to Canadian (and, directly or indirectly, American) politics.

Groan. 

I know.

In the animal rights arena, some new proposed changes to humane transport of animals used in the meat industry, open for public comment until this Wednesday. I haven’t done it yet. Even sending emails makes me uncomfortable. (But obviously I’m going to, it just needs thinking about for an unnecessarily long period of time.)

As for refugees and immigrants, I learned this week about the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care, which provides necessary care for those who are in health coverage limbo while they’re waiting for citizenship. The context of learning about it was this article about the increase in refugees fleeing into Canada from the States and 45. The article was amazing, profiling the heroism of Dr. Caulford as well as the courage of refugees, many of whom require treatment for frostbite. I mean. This isn’t good news, and obviously Canada could be doing a lot more here, to say nothing of the nonsense happening south of the border. But this organization seems like a really useful local thing I can support so I guess that’s something.

In unsettling self care news, I bought The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood because some nice fascist dystopia seems like just the thing for these times. While I paid, two staff members were laughing about how they were shipped a huge box and all it had inside was one copy of Animal Farm, when they had actually ordered a bunch of copies of 1984. So. I guess we’re all reading fascist dystopia now. Cool.

There is a trustee a couple of municipalities over who called a parent a racial slur a while back and she hasn’t resigned yet. Also she claims she isn’t racist. What’s all the fuss about, guys? Who needs decent upstanding people – or who, at the very least, don’t call people racial slurs – in charge of school systems, am I right?

This article about Justin Trudeau and the electoral reform promise made me laugh, a lot, and then I felt better about the whole thing.

Propane Jane told a bunch of progressives ranging from slightly annoying to actively harmful to “mount [their] damn unicorns already” and I’m dead. Please serve only cake at the funeral.

Unrelated to politics, Paul wrote nice things about Paperman again.

And. The US rounded up a bunch of people and deported them, and they abandoned the federal government’s attempt to protect civil rights for trans students (that stupid bathroom thing again, yes).

All right. Let’s start the new week.

sansaweary

Familiar Fascism, or, I’m suffering from Stephen Harper Deja Vu

The only. The ONLY good thing. About this guy. Was the cats. THAT’S IT. And he could have had the cats without being a politician at all. Ugh.


We got rid of Harper and it was wonderful. After nearly 10 years of his leadership, left-leaning Canadians were so fed up with him that we all apparently mentally decided to not split the vote and we ended up kicking a bunch of established NDP MPs out of Parliament… which was a mistake. But an honest one. We needed to get rid of the Conservatives and the Conservative voters show up, with their strong 40% of the voting population, and they can easily win majorities when we on the left can’t collectively choose between the centrists and the actual left.

I would love the chance to vote for the Green party, actually, but I’d prefer to help keep the Tories out of power, especially after they spend a decade proving they didn’t even come close to deserving it. But now, with the centrist Liberal party in charge and without a stronger NDP presence to sway them leftwards more often than not, we run into problems like “Oh hey never mind about proportional representation, because that broken system we have just handed us a majority and what do you mean ‘think about the long term?'” and, “Yey, Trump reversed Obama’s decision on the keystone pipeline, that’s AWESOME for Alberta!”

You know. Until the environmental consequences of the tar sands catch up with us.

But I’m writing today because everything Trump has done so far (it’s Wednesday. Of his first week.) is reminding me strongly of Harper’s time as PM, and I thought I’d point out the parallels, because how else could I possibly spend my time until we’re all wiped out because of a tweet amiright

Gagging Scientists

Fascists hate science. Before Trump took office, some American climate research was saved on Canadian back up servers. Now that he’s been president for five minutes, scientists are banned from speaking publicly about their research.

Stevie did this too. In this piece, the way Harper’s gag worked seems pretty much identical to what’s going on with the EPA right now.

“In the past, journalists were generally able to contact scientists directly for interviews, but after these new directives they had to go through government communications officers.

And scientists had to get pre-approval from their minister’s office before speaking to members of national or international media, a process that can involve drafting potential questions and answers, which are then scrutinized by a team before the green light is given.”

So here are two examples of some information that might have been useful to be open to wide public knowledge from that same article:

  • Environment Canada’s media office granted no interviews after a team published a paper in 2011 concluding that a 2 degree C increase in global temperatures may be unavoidable by 2100. 
  • Postmedia science reporter Margaret Munro requested data from radiation monitors run by Health Canada following the earthquake and nuclear plant problems in Japan. Munro said Health Canada would not approve an interview with one of its experts responsible for the detectors.

The other unsettling part of this whole mess was the time they destroyed a bunch of research – it was originally claimed that they had literally burned some of it but apparently that wasn’t true.

The good news? This didn’t play well for Harper. I mean, the 40% of voters who always show up and always vote Conservative no matter the fuck what didn’t care, but the rest of us were pretty horrified. Gag orders. Muzzling scientists. Orwellian. We payed attention, and they really couldn’t spin this in a positive light.

The bad news? This was late into Harper’s 9 years. Trump is in his first week.

Abortion Abroad

Trump’s “Global Gag Rule” explained here by Laci Green reminded me of when Harper decided to be charitable with maternal and newborn health worldwide but wouldn’t fund abortions because they’re too “divisive,” in Canada (where they’re legal) and elsewhere, where the funding was going. An obvious point quoted in this article:

“New Democratic Party critic for international development Hélène Laverdière challenged the government on its summit theme of “Saving Every Woman, Every Child.”

‘Well, there’s 47,000 women who die each year from unsafe abortions,’ she said in an interview with CBC News.

‘So, if we want to save every woman, we have to address that issue too.'”

There’s only bad news here. Harper was very anti-abortion but started not talking about that publicly before he was able to win his first election. Given the opportunity to vote on reopening the “should abortion be legal in Canada” debate, he voted to not even have the discussion. I applauded him for that. It probably couldn’t have been easy for him (not that I sympathize with having “hatred of women” as a personal cause – listen, if it makes you uncomfortable that’s fine but then just don’t have one yourself, and if the thought of grown women dying from unsafe illegal abortions feels fine to you, reexamine that please), but it was clearly the right thing to do and he did it whatever his beliefs were.

Trump… is Trump. Lots of people have made the point that he’s likely paid personally for a couple of abortions, but to get that sweet sweet GOP teabagger applause he loves so much, he’s, you know, said some things. Much worse is that the people pulling his strings actually are fanatically anti-choice, and they will do whatever they can to make abortion illegal again in America. They’ve basically said so, and we would be wise to believe them.

Muslim People

We heard today about banning refugees and Muslim travelers to the US. This is disgusting. Harper didn’t do anything like that, but he used openly racist rhetoric during his final campaign.

The worst thing the Harper government promised to do was to set up the “Barbaric Cultural Practices” hotline. Its intent was that if you had some Muslim neighbours and you thought they might be honour killing their daughters, you could call this RCMP hotline and report them.

Like.

How did they not realize how unbelievably racist that was? That would enable so many racist bozos to call in about nothing. “I saw a guy in a turban walking down the street.” You know some clownstick (or several some clownsticks) would call in about Sikhs in traditional Sikh clothing.

The good news? There’s only good news for Canada’s Conservative party. Kellie Leitch, who has expressed the ambition to use Trump’s campaign strategy to win the Conservative leadership race, regrets it. Tearfully. Here, and here (I bolded the ridiculousness):

“‘I’ve had a lot of time to think about this since the campaign took place and if I could go back in time, which I can’t, I would change things,’ Leitch said. ‘I would not have made that announcement that day.

‘As minister of status of women I was focused on making sure that we eliminated violence against women and girls especially making sure we advocated for women’s rights,’ she explained.

Leitch, who is also a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, said her intention was to ensure that if women and children needed to ‘pick up the phone’ to call for help that someone would answer, but admits that ‘the message was lost.’

‘We weren’t talking about race, we were talking about kids … but that message was completely overtaken and I regret that, and I regret that it occurred, and it shouldn’t have been done,’ she said.”

So she’s not going to be outright racist. Maybe she’s leaving that up to O’Leary.

But.

Kellie.

It was called the “Barbaric Cultural Practices” hotline.

If you really wanted kids, all kids, or anyone at all to call for help, and whatever, to humour you let’s use the example of a Muslim girl being abused, perhaps even for “religious” reasons. Why in fuck would she feel safe calling the “Barbaric Cultural Practices” hotline? Call it something else.

Also, if you gave such a damn about women in perilous situations why did you not do a thing about the horrific number of missing and murdered Indigenous women? ???

Crocodile tears, is what I’m saying. You all knew what you were doing and you did it anyway, so now stand back and let the somewhat more competent and somewhat less racist than you political parties handle things until you and your voters are all old and dead, or have been replaced by people of actual quality. Thank you.

The bad news is that what Trump is promising is worse, and, again, it’s only the first week.

Medicine

Trump will be repealing Obamacare, to the horror of many voters of his who didn’t realize that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are in fact one and the same.

Harper didn’t like our government-funded health care system, but it’s fairly popular. I mean. You can find bozos here who don’t like it, and who in fact say things like “It’s so much easier for my dog to get treatment!” Honey. No. Some of these people are Conservative politicians, go figure. But most of us, even the basically uninformed, are proud of our health care. So Harper couldn’t outwardly state that he was going to privatize it. Instead, he made cuts. Lots of cuts. And we’ll be feeling them for years yet, at least.

There’s just bad news here. People are going to die, and those people who spite-voted him in because they didn’t like being called “rassist” will have blood on their hands.

Voter Suppression

The well-documented strategy of the Republicans has been to suppress the votes of people unlikely to vote for them – specifically, black people and Hispanic people. Trump will apparently be wasting money looking into voter fraud which of course is so minute that it may as well not exist.

Surprise, surprise, Harper did this sort of thing too. His policy was called the “Fair Elections Act.” We all made fun of it. We called it the “Unfair Elections Act.” Get it? It was clever.

They passed the Act because of a scandal they perpetrated – from this:

“The Conservatives put the new election laws in place ostensibly in response to the national outcry over the robocall scandal, in which party operatives were accused of using automated phone calls to direct non-Conservative voters to the wrong polling stations on election day. The misleading calls were reported in ridings across the country and appeared to be targeted based on information from closely guarded Conservative party data.”

Instead of actually doing anything to prevent further robocall scandals, the Fair Elections Act just made it harder to prove your ID if you don’t have a driver’s license.

The good news? After this “Fair Elections Act” was passed, we held an election, and everyone thought it was going to be close. We held our breaths for a couple of months. But Trudeau won a decent majority.

My hope is that in two years during the midterms, decent Americans will be as motivated, if not even more motivated, than we were when we voted our wannabe-fascist out of power, overcoming his election laws meant to shrink the numbers of people voting against him.

All right that’s enough. The Disney movie I’m pairing for today’s trip down a decade of Harper-themed memory lane is Wreck-it Ralph, in which bad guys have a support group and are actually really nice, and in which the real villain stole all his misused power from the girl. That’ll. Make me feel better. Sure.