Archive | October 2017

Uncle Josh Thinks About Men

A tweet that crossed my feed a couple of days ago (and is now lost so attribution is a mystery) that asked (in paraphrase):

Do men ever look around and ask “what’s wrong with men?”

My answer is this: No.

Naturally, this is a highly personal answer, and I don’t dare speak for all men, but I suspect in the case of the Straight White WASP-ish Male, I share some common habits with my demographic. Being a representative of the Dominant Culture where I live, not only do I have the ability to think to myself (and say out loud) that I treat everyone as an individual, I have the cultural freedom to be a prick and think this is actually true.

In fact, when I am dealing with other men, I do categorize them into one of three groups: Idiots, Assholes, and Heroes.

Idiots

These are the easiest to spot and this is the easiest bucket to fill. It doesn’t take very long in conversation or just listening to a dude to determine that they are an idiot. When a guy says oil is never running out, he’s an idiot. When he says tax-cuts for the wealthy creates jobs, he’s an idiot. The problem with idiots is you have to give each bit of useless misguided noise they present a chance, because it is possible that the idiot may know something about the subject.

Assholes

This second bucket is a little harder to fill because usually they spend time in the idiot bucket first, and it takes some prolonged exposure to determine that the idiot is really an asshole. Of course, some people land there immediately. Racists, sexists, homophobes, white nationalists, and others who take stands that require other people to suffer, are assholes. Assholes are easily dismissed without worry of the ad hominem fallacy rearing it’s head. I don’t listen to these people because they’re assholes, not because I think they’re wrong about a subject. They may be right, but I don’t have to listen to an asshole. In the same vein, as a capitalist I don’t see movies starring Tom Cruise or Mel Gibson. I don’t criticize their acting, I just refuse to give them my money.

Heroes

This is not the bucket for supermen and there is no sense of worship involved in this bucket. Heroes, in this context, are people who have attributes I can admire and emulate. My friend Rob is a kind man, and his kindness defines him in a way that I wish I could be more like Rob. My co-worker John can understand the vast wodges of idiocy I encounter at work and the overly complicated systemic idiocy that big companies collect like dust bunnies. My father-in-law has incredible self-control (unless he’s being snarky), and my own father was able to talk to anyone without fear.

When I described this to Stephanie, she thought there would be a bucked for Bros, and I suppose extroverted men may have that bucket, but Bro to me is not a relationship but an attitude and most Bros I meet end up in the Asshole bucket.

So what about women? How do I think about women? When I look at women as a whole do I ever think “what’s wrong with them?”. No. I tend to place them into the same three categories. There are women in my life who are idiots, assholes, and heroes.

I am sure that anyone who really knows me will read this and call me on bullshit. I hope they do. I’d hate to be living a lie.

Uncle Josh Thinks About Men was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Advertisements

Uncle Josh Tackles Blade Runner 2049

To prepare for the new movie I did not manage to re-watch any version of Blade Runner but instead re-read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which I’ve been meaning to do for a long time anyway. I walked away from the movie in a definite love-hate relationship with the movie. It is a movie for the hard-core Blade Runner fan and the disciples of film as an art form. It should be needless to quote River Song here…

–cut

Memories of Blade Runner

I remember the basics: Deckard sent out against his will to retire a group of Nexus-6 replicants. He tests Rachel and has a strange non-love story with her. He hunts and kills and finally meets his match with Roy Baty who dies after a hell of a fight and a great speech. The movie’s theme for was empathy is the key to being human, and Deckard is a human with so little empathy and the replicants seem to have a lot more, but it’s all faked. Of course there are the visuals, the crowded always dark nearly always raining city and the cluttered combinations of food carts and ad-hoc labs and omni-present advertising.

Memories of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

My long term memories from first reading the book decades ago was challenging the idea that Deckard was a human, or could be a replicant himself. The re-read made me realize that this was not what the book was about. The switcheroo with the fake replicant cops was a smokescreen that barely lasted a chapter. The replicants are evil in their callousness. They cut off the legs of a spider because they are certain it could get by with only four legs, and when it doesn’t move they set it on fire to prove their point. It is cruel and uncaring. The book emphasizes this as a theme over and over again.

Blade Runner 2049

As soon as the music started I knew I was back in the world of Blade Runner. Seeing the devastation of California in the opening shots let us know exactly how bad things were, even worse than in the first movie. The bounty hunter and the prey. This is how it works. The reveal in that first fight that K is a replicant was a little disappointing. It made it harder to care about the character. It made me think that we need to get to Deckard sooner, because it’s nice to have a human to root for.

The memories of childhood introduced the idea that K is actually a human, somehow and for some reason convinced he his a replicant. This was great. The best part of the PK Dick stories is questioning basic foundational realities. That gave me some investment with the character. Because K begins to question who he is, I begin to spin out the possibilities and predictions and watch them play out.

The other great question was the mixup in the genetic profile of the missing child. This played out well. I was surprised that it turned out to be Dr. Stelline. I didn’t catch her tears at the memory as recognition, but basic human empathy. So that’s on me.

I even liked the effects of the gratuitous sex scene, but it was still a gratuitous sex scene. The idea that a holographic home companion would fake that much emotion to a replicant didn’t feed into the central question of the first movie as much as seem, well, odd. I can buy the replicant living in a grotty little apartment in an ugly neighborhood instead of living in a closet. I can buy that part of emulating a human is to have a human need for companion. One of the ideas in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is presented by JR Isadore who decides that it’s good to have neighbors and people around because it helps keep us human. Even once he realizes his new neighbors are replicants and he could get a major reward for turning them in, he desires their company more than the money. K even has a “gift” for the JOI he owns. It’s a strange relationship for a tool to want a humanish tool.

What did shock me about watching the film is how impatient I’ve become as an audience member. When K realizes he’s in the set of his memory and he looks to confirm the wooden horse is still there, the descent down the stairs took too long. I was impatient because I knew where he was going and what he was going to find ind would have been surprising if he hadn’t. I felt there were a lot of scenes that just took too long. It fit visually with the first movie as I remember it, but in several scenes I realized I was thinking “get on with it.”

The idea of the replicant army seemed plugged in to set up a sequel, if this movie gets one.

Finally, Wallace seemed a strange uber-villain to the whole thing. He didn’t have a clear goal. Yeah, he wanted to improve his product, but to what end?

I will probably re-watch it down the road, back to back with the first movie, and come away with a different reaction.

Uncle Josh Tackles Blade Runner 2049 was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much