Social Anarchist

The other day, I decided that I’m a social anarchist. As far as I can tell, social anarchy isn’t a defined thing, but I ran it past the Professor, who laughed and told me to go reread Mill, and she seemed to buy it.

This came up, in part, because I broke my stupid rule about reading Pith comments and, in the middle of being insulted, I started to get fascinated. The dynamic is, somewhat, that commenters feel free to say terrible things about me, justified by the fact that they think I’m terrible. But the funny part is that they then are limited themselves to terrible me, because no woman who fit their definition of nice would read those comments and want to subject herself to them.

But that’s not the whole of it. There’s also the way the comments lay bear people’s social hierarchy expectations. It’s in part because people are anonymous that it’s easier to see, I think. When you’re face to face with an older white guy, for instance, and he kind of naturally takes the dominant role in the situation, it’s sometimes hard to tell if that’s just because of confidence, expertise, or whether it’s just the belief that, in any given social situation, it’s his job to be the leader.

But when those cues are missing–in other words, when you can’t tell he’s a white dude because it’s the internet–the presumption of being the social top dog stands out. And the anger at not being properly recognized as social top dog also stands out. Seriously, the next time you’re tempted into a long raucous comment thread, check out how many comments are “I’m always an asshole, but I am very, very upset about you being an asshole and I am, in fact, going to call you on being an asshole and then, be an even bigger asshole when you don’t shape up.”

We probably establish social hierarchy all the time by sorting out who gets to speak the most and who gets the most attention, but because in person it feels more natural, it’s not as easy to see it happening.

And, weirdly enough, I’m pretty sure I’m a terrible social anarchist in many ways, but I do believe in the knocking down and poking fun at of those social hierarchies.  Even at the same time that I reinforce a lot of them, all the time.

But there’s something funny to me about being a terrible social anarchist, so I’m sticking with it.

I Have Feelings about BATTLESHIP

I think they may be feelings that mean I’m old. But it stars a dude who looks too much like Channing Tatum Channing, who is already bordering on vaguely unrememorable and he’s a complete fuck-up. His brother, though, is Erik the Vampire, who commands a ship. This brings up the first problem I have with BATTLESHIP. Why would any girl date an unremarkable fuckup when his brother is Erik the Vampire, who surely has room for a concubine or seven? Second problem, and I didn’t get that far in watching it, but there’s a disaster and the boat Erik the Vampire commands is destroyed and the boat the Japanese are commanding is mortally wounded (I’m not a sailor, so I assume there’s some sea lingo for this situation I just don’t know). Who can command the other boat–that appeared to come out of nowhere–, now that Erik the Vampire is dead?!?! Competent Japanese commander who seems to have his shit together and who is not piloting a crew who’s running around going “Holy shit!!!!! The next in command is Poor-Man’s-Channing-Tatum-Channing!!!! We’re all going to die!!!!!” (This is almost word-for-word dialog from the movie. I shit you not.) or the generic fuck-up whose crew fears being under his leadership?

It would be less hilariously offensive if the Japanese leader died or seemed less incredibly competent. But as it is, at the end of the world, they don’t rely on the leadership of the only living person who actually has leadership skills but instead focus on a guy who, in a just world, would be getting cuckolded by his brother while he was being too dumb to notice. Did I mention that Erik the Vampire is supposed to be his brother? It’s befuddling. Like who were their parents supposed to be? “Our dad is Baldur, the most handsome of all the gods. Our mom was a pile of mashed potatoes shaped into a snowman that vaguely resembled Channing Tatum Channing?” There’s just no way that those two men are brothers. It’s like the casting director threw up his hands and was like “I spent all my time getting Liam Neeson in this film and then looking at Erik the Vampire. I don’t have time for sensicle casting decisions!”

Okay, so yes, that part is really racist.

But Potato Dude as a trope interests me. Because I come from the era of movies about male fuck-ups–STRIPES, ANIMAL HOUSE, REVENGE OF THE NERDS, (hell, GOONIES, and STAND BY ME, also to some extent and maybe THE LOST BOYS as the horror version of the trope). But these were all about groups of male fuck-ups who everyone acknowledged were fuck-ups and the adventures we were watching were their fuck-ups coming to some final head. And, yes, often it worked out just fine for them. But they weren’t heroes.

But I wonder about this idea that a guy who already has so much–a good career, the Admiral’s daughter, a brother who watches out for him, etc.–and who continues, as Liam Neeson’s character points out, to squander it ill, should be given even more chances and more responsibility for people because, eventually, he will become a hero. How many chances are you supposed to give to a fuck-up in order to guarantee that, when the chips are down, they will come through?

What a weird fantasy to sell about men.