Trotter Head

As much as I struggled with this part of Project X, I am now enjoying it immensely. Not only does it contain the most best thing I’ve ever written, just in terms of its ability to tickle me–

Oh, what a proud moment this full moon was! If there is a pinnacle of Methodism higher than the moment a simple preacher and a deranged evil-doer watched as a senile old man loaded up with morphine dying of cancer wandered around the fairgrounds not being eaten by a Wolf, I can’t imagine what it might be.

I’m certainly thankful that John Wesley did not live to see this moment.

–it also contains a few sections of The Long-Lost Friend, for once my simple Methodist preacher realizes that the deranged evil-doer might be something more than ordinary, he, of course, needs to take extraordinary precautions against him. And so he’s begun reciting a spell that starts, “Trotter Head, I forbid thee my house and premises,” which is just delightful. I have no idea what a “Trotter Head” is, though, and Google is no help. The only on-point link is a link back to The Long Lost Friend. Where is an expert on 19th-century folk magic when I need one?

Still, I feel bad for my minister. He’s just made a friend, someone who understands just how shitty his local trotter head is, and that person is, of course, going to be a werewolf.

Of course. Occupational hazard of being a Catholic priest, I suppose.

Isn’t Angus T. Jones Mostly Right?

I’m a little befuddled by people’s hostility toward Angus T. Jones’s slamming of Two and a half Men. He says:

Please stop filling your head with filth. Please. People say it’s just entertainment. The fact that it’s entertainment. Do some research on the effects of television and your brain and I promise you you’ll have a decision to make when it comes to the television…It’s bad news. I don’t know if it means any more coming from me. But you might have heard it otherwise. But watch out…A lot of people don’t like to think how deceptive the enemy is. He’s been doing this a lot longer than any of us have been around…You cannot be a true, God-fearing person and be on a show like that.

And so what? Isn’t he right? The kinds of stuff you dump into your brain does have an effect on you. It’s not like watching movies where people shoot each other means that you’re going to run out and shoot people. It’s not a one-to-one correlation. But watching a ton of entertainment where women are reduced to sex toys or shrews or both does reinforce the idea that women are sex toys or shrews or both. And we do believe that there’s entertainment that’s not appropriate for children, right? People like ratings on movies and tv and video games for a reason. So we must believe that what we view has some impact. And he’s right that being on a show like that is pretty contrary to being a good Christian. So, what’s the problem? That he thinks the Devil is somehow involved? People, Two and a Half Men is a terrible show and you should not watch it! He isn’t wrong.

Is the problem that he’s been taking a paycheck from the show? He was eight when the show started–so not his choice to be on it. When the contract was signed making him the highest paid child star on television, he was seventeen. He wasn’t legally able to negotiate or sign that contract. But he’s responsible for “choosing” to be on the show? I call bullshit. Every contract he’s been under when it comes to that show has been made while he was a minor.

Plus, we don’t know what he does with his money. Maybe he does give it all to good causes. According to Wikipedia, he’s a do-gooder:

On June 7, 2008, Jones joined other stars including Dakota Fanning, Cuba Gooding Jr., Val Kilmer, and former Bringing Down the House co-star Kimberly J. Brown, in lending their support to the First Star Organization to help abused and neglected children.

In August 2008, Jones joined other stars such as Madeline Zima, Thom Barry, and Brandon Barash at the annual “Rock ‘N Roll Fantasy Camp.”

On October 4, 2008, Jones joined Miranda Cosgrove, Meaghan Jette Martin, Ray Liotta, Selena Gomez, and Shailene Woodley to attend the Variety’s Power of Youth benefit for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

In October 2009, Two and a Half Men co-star Jon Cryer presented Jones with the award for the Rising Star of 2009 at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Rising Star Gala.

Jones also supports the anti-bullying alliance co-founded by The Creative Coalition and WWE, B.A. Star whose mission is to ensure a positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness.

So, what’s the problem? That he said out loud what anyone with two eyes can see? That the show is terrible and that it’s a weird thing for kids to be watching, let alone participating in?

I’m with Alyssa Rosenberg on this, when she says

But I’d actually like to hear in more detail what Jones thinks about the show where he effectively grew up. How did Two and a Half Men affect Jones’ views of women? What did the show’s perspective teach him about what it means to be a good man, and a successful man, if the two ideas are different? When he interacts with fans of the show, do they seem to be taking away different messages than the ones he thought he grew up conveying? How does he feel about Jake, the character he’s playing, specifically? I’d imagine Jones’ critique of the show might skew more towards the show’s deviations from Biblically-ordained gender roles, where mine might focus on the show’s dismissive attitudes about women. And I’m more likely to blame the work of Man rather than the Adversary for creating those images and disseminating those attitudes. But I don’t think Jones is wrong to take culture, or his role in producing it, seriously.

I think it’s great that Jones has matured into the kind of young man who takes seriously what he’s doing and whether it’s good for him and for society at large. We could use more of that, I think. He may mellow some as he gets older, may rethink his stance. But I think it’s good for him as a person–and natural for someone of college age–that he’s wrestling with these things, even if it’s maybe not good for him as a working actor.

Finding the Right Approach

I have now started the story I’m working on for Project X four different ways. Finally, I have the right approach, I think. And a conceit I find interesting. To boil it down to its simplest form–do angels and devils work together to keep people monotheist? Here’s how I’ve been thinking of it. Say you’re playing baseball against your hated rival. You loathe those guys. You want to win. But if a group of people set up a football game in your outfield, doesn’t the fact that your rivalry is so heated, so serious, make it more likely that some folks from both teams will go try to stop the football game?

If you guys were just farting around, it’d be less of a bother if someone was using the outfield for something else. Right? If you didn’t believe that this field was only for baseball, that baseball was the only real game, again, it’d be less of a bother.

So, if it’s a question of keeping the field clear for only baseball, to keep the fans from knowing that there’s any other game than baseball–since, obviously, if they go off to play some other game, they are never going to get to the World Series celebration with you, where it’s all awesomeness and happiness, and, instead, must go to some terrible, shitty place, like possibly Pekin–what is permissible? Are the good guys allowed to do some minor evil? Are the bad guys allowed to do some minor good?

What happens to the good man called on to do minor evil? Can he justify it to himself for the greater good? Or does he wish there were just some way to let some folks play football if they want?

(This is kind of the reason I hate the idea that all religions are the same or that all paths lead to the same place. It still assumes that everyone is playing the same game with the same goals. But look at, let’s say, soccer (football) and football (football). Here you have very similar terms–there’s a ball, the game is called football, two opposing teams face each other and try to move that ball down a field, there’s a goal, etc. Do you think that, when a soccer ball has gone in the net, it has gone the same place a football has gone when it’s carried into the endzone? And that’s my point for religions. They don’t go the same places. To think they do means you’ve not really let go of the metaphor that everyone is secretly playing your game, they just don’t know it.)