- Chantecaille Kalimantan fragrance is inspired by the intoxicating and lush forests of Borneo, available on the market from September 2010. Intense, sexy and exotic, it features the notes of labdanum, incense and patchouli, merged with benzoin, vanilla and cedar, to illustrate the fragrant wild flora of the island of Borneo.
- Patchouly Indonesiano is a deep, dark and exotic fragrance. Its entire composition consists of Indonesian patchouli (in the top notes, the heart and the perfume base).
- Rituel de Java by Cinq Mondes is a Woody Spicy fragrance for men. Rituel de Java was launched in 2008. Top note is eucalyptus; middle notes are cinnamon and woodsy notes; base notes are patchouli and virginia cedar.
- Borneo 1834 by Serge Lutens is a Oriental Woody fragrance for women and men. Borneo 1834 was launched in 2005. The fragrance features patchouli, white flowers, cardamom, galbanum, french labdanum and cacao.
- Colonial Club by Jeanne Arthes is a Woody Floral Musk fragrance for men. Top notes are mint and lemon; middle notes are jasmine and fruity notes; base notes are patchouli, musk and cedar.
- Poivre Colonial is a new fragrance from the Eaux de Toilette collection from Phaedon. The scent has been described as both "prickly and smooth” woody – spicy one. It opens with an explosion of grapefruit, nutmeg and pepper. The heart includes cedar and vetiver, mixed with warm cacao bean. The base is dominated by notes of oak moss and patchouli with blonde woods.
- The Italian brand of I Coloniali presents their collection Seductive Elixir of 8 fragrant waters in 2012. The collection is inspired by distant countries and offers intense, long-lasting fragrances with various fragrant compositions.
- Acqua di Genova, Colonia Classica by Acqua di Genova is a Citrus Aromatic fragrance for women and men. Acqua di Genova, Colonia Classica was launched in 1853. Top notes are bergamot, amalfi lemon, orange, rosemary, neroli and lavender; middle notes are jasmine, rose and orange blossom; base notes are patchouli, sandalwood, amber and musk.
- Agua de Colonia Concentrada Barberia by Alvarez Gomez is a Citrus Aromatic fragrance for women and men. This is a new fragrance. Top notes are lemon, bitter orange, bergamot and ginger; middle notes are rhubarb, labdanum and coriander; base notes are cedar, sandalwood and white musk.
- Colonia del Sacramento fragrance by Fueguia 1833 belongs to the Destinos collection. “A mix of European detachment with River Plate indolence, this blend combines a restless fragrance of bergamot, orange blossom and lemon.”
- Hole, "Reasons to Be Beautiful"
This is an issue near and dear to my heart, so I'm actually going to respond to it: Can Male Writers Successfully Write Female Characters? Rod Rees defends his female characters in a way that makes you really appreciate Cormac McCarthy's refusal to write female characters, because he just knows he can't pull it off. Because if there's one thing worse than a man who claims all women are incomprehensible, it's the man who claims to understand all women!
The old adage is write what you know and living in a house with two hi-achieving, confident and very ambitious teenage girls and having an intelligent and thoughtful wife (who happens to be beautiful to boot!) gave me, I thought, something of an insight into the female mindset.
Beautiful to boot! I'm sure that makes her easier to try to understand. Based on his descriptions of them, his female protagonists tend to be young, feisty, and ready and able to market themselves to men. They admire their breasts in the mirror, use their sexual wiles to get themselves out of a tight corner (the backseat of a Volkswagen?), and call themselves "a lush thrush with a tight tush." Rees protests that women do, indeed, objectify themselves. And yes, many women do - many women are constantly preoccupied with their bodies, but about 80-90% of the time, such preoccupation comes from a very scary place of self-hatred and envy. Even my most confident friends say things like, "bad news, I got fat :(" and when they tell their mirror selves, out loud, "I look hot," it's to combat the years and years of negative internal dialogue, their relatives' nitpicking, their boyfriends' secret stash of porn featuring women that look nothing like them, and of course, that ol' bugaboo, the media.
Rees also protests that women - grown-up women, that is, in the "visceral world of adult fiction" - use their sexual wiles. Yeah, also true; some women do. But again, it's accompanied by a whole host of other issues: flashbacks to uncomfortable/negative/non-consensual sexual experiences, fear of "something going wrong," and of course, the above body shame. There's also the issue of personality shame: "I'm too awkward," "I scare people away," "no one likes me," "I'm not popular." I'm not saying guys don't have this too - they do - but that this is a real insecurity experienced by many, many women (pretty much every woman I know) who are under pressure to be the kind of socially-adept coquettes that Rees apparently thinks is standard adult female behavior. And as I argued in my essay on Shirley Jackson, women who fail to play the social roles assigned to them rarely if ever appear in fiction, and almost never as heroines. This doesn't mean there's not a hunger for them, among both men and women, which is why fucked-up, maladroit women like Kara "Starbuck" Thrace and Lisbeth Salander have proved so popular, and why I've got high hopes for Sonya Cross on "The Bridge." The issue, for me, isn't that Rees writes about women who don't exist. I'm sure they do, somewhere - there's a lot of women in the world - and they're probably fucked-up in ways that Rees can't imagine. The issue is that female characters like his are so obviously a male fantasy, and all they really do is contribute to the huge pile of excrement that is The Portrayal of Women in Media.
What it comes down to is this: spending your life looking at women does not give you insight into what it's like to be a woman, to think like one, to act like one. All it does is enable you to create avatars who fetishize themselves. When temporarily transformed into a woman for a movie, Dustin Hoffman came to the astonishing conclusion that the world was full of interesting women that he had not deigned to talk to, because they didn't meet "his" standard of beauty - because he had been brainwashed. This is a really important discovery that more men need to make. To some extent, it goes both ways, but men have more social tools at their disposal: wealth, power, seniority, wit, or even just being "not creepy." By in large, women are still defined and judged by their physical characteristics.
Once female writers venture into the more visceral world of adult fiction they find this stereotype doesn’t work and hence struggle. Just a thought.
The stereotype, by the way, is the "ideal" heroine who doesn't "see herself as an object of male sexual interest" and doesn't "use her sexual charisma as a means of achieving an objective." This is probably the most woeful, enraging assertion of all, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Rees hasn't read a lot of books, or stories, or songs written by women. I mean, if he's really suggesting female writers write female characters who have no idea they're objects of male sexual interest, he really needs to listen to Courtney Love's entire ouevre, for one, and Catherine Breillat's, and Sylvia Plath's. Believe me: we know. And actually, there are female writers who write his type of self-fetishizing female characters: teenage girls writing bad fanfiction, copying what they've seen in some romance novels, some erotica, and male-gaze sex scenes. He's got plenty of company.
In 1818, Sir John Ross was on a voyage which was an attempt to discover the long-sought-after Northwest Passage. Ross's ship reached Lancaster Sound in Canada. The Northwest Passage was straight ahead, but John Ross did not go in that direction because he saw, or thought he saw, in the distance, a land mass with mountains, which he believed made going any further simply impossible. He named the mountain range of this supposed land mass "Crocker Mountains". He gave up and returned to England, despite the protests of several of his officers, including First Mate William Edward Parry and Edward Sabine. The account of his voyage, published a year later, brought to light their disagreement, and the ensuing controversy over the existence of Crocker Mountains ruined his reputation. Just a year later William Edward Parry was able to sail further west, through those non-existent mountains.Song for tonight (for the line "I still dream of Dad. Though he died." Although today I was dreaming mostly about Silent Hill and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, of all fucked up combinations):
Ross's second mistake was to name the apparent mountain range after the First Secretary of the Admiralty. Naming what was in fact a mirage after such a high official cost Sir John Ross dearly: he was refused ship and money for his subsequent expeditions, and was forced to use private funding instead.
By an odd coincidence, during a 1906 expedition 88 years after Ross's expedition, Robert Peary gave the name Crocker Land to a land mass which he believed he saw in the distance, northwest from the highest point of Cape Thomas Hubbard, which is situated in what is now the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut. Peary named the apparent land mass after the late George Crocker of the Peary Arctic Club. Peary estimated the landmass to be 130 miles away, at about 83 degrees N, longitude 100 degrees W.
In 1913, Donald Baxter MacMillan organised the Crocker Land Expedition which set out to reach and explore Crocker Land. On 21 April the members of the expedition saw what appeared to be a huge island on the north-western horizon. As MacMillan later said, "Hills, valleys, snow-capped peaks extending through at least one hundred and twenty degrees of the horizon.”
Piugaattoq, a member of the expedition and a Inuit hunter with 20 years of experience of the area, explained that this was just an illusion. He called it "poo-jok", which means mist. However MacMillan insisted that they press on, despite the fact that it was late in the season and the sea-ice was breaking up. For five days they went on, following the mirage, until on 27 April, having covered some 125 miles (201 km) of dangerous sea-ice, MacMillan was forced to admit that Piugaattoq was right. Crocker Land was in fact a mirage, probably a Fata Morgana.
I recently finished Alan Heathcock's short story collection, Volt. I bought it on the basis of the first story. "The Staying Freight" is fantastic, by the way. It's definitely on my very short list of favorite short stories, and is more pathos-ridden than the others on the list. It's about a farmer named Winslow who accidentally runs over his only child with farm equipment, and then after the funeral decides that he must take a walk. Though he keeps thinking that it's time to turn around and go home to his wife Sadie, he can't quite bring himself to do it, and soon he ends up on the wrong side of a mountain range. He goes feral for a while, and when he tries to re-enter civilization by working on a stranger's farm he ends up becoming a sideshow freak, the man who can take a punch to the gut and not go down. And it's really quite awful, especially because you can see inside Winslow and you can see that this is all he thinks he deserves, even though what he wants, by then, is to go back to Sadie. It hit all the right notes for me, plucked all the right heart strings. I thought it was wrenching.
With later stories, though, my emotional engagement went down. I didn't connect to any other characters as much as I did to Winslow and Sadie, and their stories and philosophies and visions of the world started to sound the same. I got a little bored. A lot of reviewers seem to like Helen Farraley, the grocer-cum-sheriff, but I disliked her; she read to me as a remorseless vigilante cloaked in self-righteousness and astonishing amounts of self-pity. She's unambiguously cast as a hero, though, toiling against a chaotic world, and although that world is full of murder and vandalism and animal-killings and vestiges of war, I never bought that this was a world any darker than the average Law & Order: SVU. Heathcock gives his favorite characters a lot of dignity and "basic decency" (not a bad thing). Bad people are few and far between. Everyone gets redeemed (though their descents are not very deep). The only story that I felt really got as strange as "The Staying Freight" was the Grey Gardens-esque "The Daughter," my second-favorite. In the others you basically have decent folks having to deal with criminals and death and life's normal disappointments with a "traditional Midwestern" stoicism, and it all just got kind of hum-drum.
So it's weird to see so many people comment on the grimness and darkness of Volt. I was expecting another Blood Meridian based on the reviews. "Abysmal world"? The "grim, rural town of Krafton"? "Macabre ill-luck"? Macabre? Really? It baffles me because Volt is not gothic in any way. The universe in Volt is a basically good one. Save for the ones in "The Daughter," no character even feels anything so ugly as hate! Here's the only negative review of Volt on Amazon: "revolting, reviling, unutterably bleak, and pointless. I was reminded of Cormac McCarthy and some of his novels, and Flannery O'Connor came to mind, her "grotesque" characters. There's no question that this author has talent, however not as much as either of the above, I just wish he'd find something more palatable to write about." I almost can't believe this reviewer has read McCarthy or O'Connor if they think there's any comparison here. Roald Dahl is darker than Volt.
I thought of this again when reading about the Wall Street journal article lamenting that YA fiction is too dark. YA authors and editors immediately leapt to the defense of the YA books that they perceived to be under attack. I have never understood the appeal of YA or even the definition of YA since its most vigorous proponents seem to be adults, but anyway. My general reaction to this article and all the commentary that followed was "content does not make for darkness." The presence of profanity doesn't make a book "dark" to me (just a book with characters who use profanity). Neither does having a character get beaten or raped or killed. If it's an "issue book" then that applies doubly so, because then the whole point is to be an after-school special (maybe rated R; adults have their own after-school specials).
So I've been trying to figure out what makes a book "dark" for me, and I think it's world view. That may not be the right word, but it's the best I can do right now. My usual example is McCarthy's The Road vs. Anything Else He's Written. The Road horrified a ton of people, some of them Oprah's book club readers, some not, because it depicts the end of the world, cannibal tribes, people roasting babies, basically everyone being dead, the sea being black, etc. But the whole point of The Road is the idea of "carrying the fire" despite the over-the-top desolation of the world around you, of this Christ-like little boy who neither dies nor ever compromises his virtuous qualities. When I read this book I was like "???" because the first thing I read by McCarthy was The Crossing, which features no Christ-like characters, and a main character who, while not a bad guy, spends the last scene being abusive to a dog that needs his help, then feeling bad about it, wanting to make it up to the dog, and then being unable to find the dog. There's no apocalypse, no over-the-top violence (compared to The Road, anyway), but I found it way more painful to read. The Road presents a stark vision of virtue and destruction that I don't find grim or dark at all, despite all the violence. The Crossing, though, I find grim. Genuinely dark.
This is not to say that I think even "real" darkness guarantees merit. I don't. "The Staying Freight" is neither "really" dark nor pretending to be, ends on a note of hope, and is great. But fiction with "surface-level" darkness does seem to be in these days (though I don't know if that's what Heathcock's trying to write - probably not). Some people respond to it and extol it, usually as reflecting reality and truth and "what the world is really like" (or in the case of The Road, it's "what the world will be like after the government is taken out"), and what seems to be a minority really object to it on grounds that it's depraved or whatnot. And I wish more people would read The Violent Bear It Away.
Hilariously Miller then backpedals out of her essay, so I guess her essay wasn't intended to be a factual statement either. What are we even doing here?
Also, LOL@Jennifer Weiner: "I don't think writers get to choose the kind of books they write. It's a function of upbringing, education, inclination." Always nice to see writers blame their choices on things beyond their power. It's like "I don't control my character! My character controls me!"
She's angry because Jennifer Egan, who just won the Pulitzer for The Goon Squad, apparently called chick lit "very derivative, banal stuff" - full context: "There was that scandal with the Harvard student who was found to have plagiarized. But she had plagiarized very derivative, banal stuff. This is your big first move? These are your models?... My advice for young female writers would be to shoot high and not cower." And J. Weiner's all "And there goes my chance to be happy that a lady won the big prize. Thanks, Jenny Egan. You're a model of graciousness." So on Twitter we now have anger that female writers bring each other down and consolations that commercial fiction and literary fiction are equally good and just write good books, readers will come and of course there's plenty of room to like everything! Don't worry! We all have a seat at the table!
On Bookslut, Michael Schaub points out that Weiner's written on her FAQ page, "Somebody actually asked me this at a reading once, at the Powell’s in Portland, which was not the main Powell’s in Portland, because Jennifer Egan was reading the night I was in town and not only is she a critical big deal, she also used to be a model, so which one of us do you think was going to get shunted off to the satellite store?" Ah, passive aggressive self-deprecation.
And I'm like, well, at least sf/f isn't the only "genre" that has this drama with "literary" fiction. Good Lord.
But like many brands of American horror and action genres, popular post-apocalyptic and zombie fictions tend to veer towards straight American male fantasy - many of the fictions and films in the genre operate under the assumption that, if all hell breaks loose, all issues of race, class, and gender are (supposedly) irrelevant compared to basic human survival - and consciously or otherwise, most leaders that emerge in these imagined post-racial scenarios are straight, white alpha males. In the Western pop imagination, there seems to be a desire to wipe the difficult questions of co-existence off the table - and what better way to do that, then to imagine a situation where five to ten random (and mostly white) strangers must fight off mindless brain-hungry hoards while trying to divide the bullets, bacon, and fresh water into equal shares? Where the musings and philosophies of fancy pants artists and social commentators like myself are next to useless?I think this argument - on the emotional/psychological desire for an apocalypse to "wash away" people and structures you don't like - is perfectly applicable to post-apocalyptic fiction that isn't British and isn't even all that "cozy" (i.e., involves cannibals and zombies and killer flus). Some of the comments imply it better fits the American model anyway. Related: "AEnema" by Tool: "Some say we'll see Armageddon soon/ I certainly hope we will/ Learn to swim, see you down in Arizona Bay." Who reads cosy catastrophes? by Jo Walton:
Let's say that North Korea or China suddenly launched an attack on present-day America, like in the video game Homefront or the upcoming remake of Red Dawn. The popular, traditional white male western narrative would then position a white hero leading a resistance of people against the invaders, and our race wouldn't matter - because we're all Americans right?
No. History has taught us is if that shit went down, and Asians in Asia attacked America, the first people who would be fucked would be Asian Americans. We'd be imprisoned without due process, called traitors, tortured and murdered in the street. And yet none of this is ever explored in post-apocalyptic scenarios where Asians bring about doom. I guarantee you, if a science-project-gone-wrong in North Korea causes zombie apocalypse tomorrow, you can bet it's the Asian Americans who won't be getting their share of beans at the survivalist pot luck.
I argued that the cosy catastrophe was overwhelmingly written by middle-class British people who had lived through the upheavals and new settlement during and after World War II, and who found the radical idea that the working classes were people hard to deal with, and wished they would all just go away.And from the comments (man, this is so why Zombieland did not work for me):
In the classic cosy catastrophe, the catastrophe doesn’t take long and isn’t lingered over, the people who survive are always middle class, and have rarely lost anyone significant to them. The working classes are wiped out in a way that removes guilt.
On a bad day, it could even be secretly, guiltily desirable: all those people who fit so well in the modern world, but didn't know how to deal with *real* change, would be swept away. And the people who knew how to prepare would be vindicated. The reader is implicitly in the category of people who can deal with change, of course, by virtue of having read the book.Pop Agitprop from Cheap Truth #13, published in the 1980s, a series of scathing reviews by sci-fi authors, of sci-fi authors - I think this gets to the heart of the problem with a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction very well (and is related to that terrible Dodge Ram commercial as well, re: the sheer amount of self-stroking misanthropy that goes into crafting a post-apocalypse):
The desire to be freed of social constraints and to get fat off humanity's detritus crosses the economic divide.
The gem of this collection is Vernor Vinge's "The Ungoverned," a sequel to his commercially successful novel THE PEACE WAR. In this ideologically correct effort, radical Libertarians defend their realm from an authoritarian army. Thanks to their innate cultural superiority and a series of fraudulent plot Maguffins, they send the baddies packing with a minimum of personal suffering and a maximum of enemy dead.No We Can't by Hunter (this one is political, but I think it ties in nicely with the apocalyptic, and post-apocalyptic, vision, and the desire for this vision to actually happen - thanks to realthog for linking it):
First, and very characteristically, it is post-apocalyptic, conveniently destroying modern society so that a lunatic-fringe ideology can be installed as if by magic. Vinge avoids extrapolating their effects on society, because society is in shambles.
John Dalmas contributes a decent male-adventure Western. Unfortunately this story pretends to be SF. It is set on yet another colonial planet lapsed into barbarism, a fictional convention that allows SF writers to espouse reactionary social values without a blush of shame.
Dean Ing's recent novel for Tor, WILD COUNTRY, takes a similar tack. This book, the last in a post-apocalypse trilogy, is a meandering series of shoot-'em-ups. Its hero is an assassin. The villain is a gay heroin-smuggler, as if an America devestated by nukes did not have enough problems. Ing's hasty depiction of future society is grossly inconsistent; ravaged and desperate when the plot requires desperadoes, yet rigidly organized when Ing suddenly remembers the existence of computers.
The book is a Western, set in a West Texas conveniently returned to the robust frontier values of Judge Roy Bean. Men hold their land, with lasers if possible, while women raise corn and keep the home fires burning.
The book is speckled with maps, diagrams, and lectures on the Second Amendment, which, one learns, "absolutely and positively, guarantees citizens their right to keep and bear arms." Like his fellows, Ing treasures this amendment, the last remnant of the American policy that he is willing to respect. There isn't much mention of, say, voting, or separation of powers. Power resides in the barrel of a gun, preferably the largest and shiniest possible.
Past-America could provide at least some modest layer of security to prevent its citizens from descending into destitution in old age; we in this day cannot. Past-America could pursue scientific discoveries as a matter of national pride, even land mankind on an entirely other world; we cannot. Past-America was a haven of invention and technology that shook the world and changed the course of history countless times: whatever attributes made it such a place we cannot quite determine now, much less replicate. Public art is decadent. Public education is an infringement. Public works are for other times, never now.
America of the past could build highways and railroads and a robust electrical grid. We cannot even keep them running. Of course we cannot keep them running: that was past-America. That past America had a magic that we modern Americans cannot match. Perhaps it was beholden to Satan, or to socialism, or merely to some grandiose vision of a better future, one with flying cars or diseases that could actually be cured, with proper application of effort. Whatever the case, past-America was wrong and stupid, and we know better.
We are told all the things America cannot do. We have yet to be told any vision of what we might still be able to do, or what hopes we should still retain, or why our children will be better off than we were, or why we ourselves will be better off than we were a scant few decades ago. Perhaps the very climate of the world will have changed, and the sky will be hotter, or the storms will be bigger, but none of those are things we can do anything about. Perhaps there will be nuclear disasters, or oil spills, or epidemics, or perhaps a city here or a city there will be leveled by some unforeseen catastrophe; we can be assured of it, in fact, but none of those things are things we can expect to respond to better next time than this time. Those are not, we are told, the tasks of a nation.
Sarah Kane, English playwright. Her first play, Blasted (found through reading this post on Narrative, Politics, and Sexual Violence by Matthew Cheney), was famously called a "disgusting feast of filth" by the never-filthy Daily Mail. She said, "The logical conclusion of the attitude that produces an isolated rape in England is the rape camps in Bosnia and the logical conclusion to the way society expects men to behave is war." She killed herself in 1999, at the age of 28. After this (and seemingly because of some sense of guilt), her critics reached "a sudden posthumous consensus - the work wasn't hateful, nor was it about hate; it was about love." Bold in copied text below is mine.
But why have so few Americans been given a chance to judge the play for themselves? (It has had only a few sanctioned productions in this country.) Partly it’s because Simon Kane, Ms. Kane’s brother and the executor of her estate, has denied several production requests. “Mostly they’re ridiculous,” he said. “There was a company that applied for the rights to ‘Blasted’ and said, ‘We’re the people to do “Blasted” because we’ve done a stage adaptation of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” ’ ” But gore isn’t the point. “The purpose of the violence in Sarah’s plays is diametrically opposed to the purpose of violence in most other people’s plays,” Mr. Kane said. “The purpose of the violence in Sarah’s plays is to resensitize people to what violence is.” (via)
Harold Pinter was at the Royal Court the night after the first reviews came out. He says that he had never heard a voice like Kane's, that she hardly knew where it was coming from herself. "It was a very startling and tender voice, but she was appalled by the world in which she lived and the world within herself." [...] "What frightened me was the depth of her horror and anguish. Everyone's aware, to varying degrees, of the cruelty of mankind, but we manage to compromise with it, put it on the shelf and not think about it for a good part of the day. But I don't think she could do that. I think she had a vision of the world that was extremely accurate, and therefore horrific. Because the world is a fucking awful place. It's a very beautiful place, but this species mankind is an absolute bloody disaster. The elements of sadism are astonishing. She wasn't simply observing mankind; she was part of it. It seems to me she was talking about the violence within herself, the hatred within herself, and the depths of misery that she also suffered."
As with Blasted, the critics suggested the violence in Cleansed was gratuitous and exaggerated. In fact, every violent incident in her plays was closely fashioned on real incidents. (The sucking out of an eye in Blasted, for example, comes from Bill Buford's account of football thugs' retribution against a policeman who had infiltrated their gang; the pole inserted up the arse and released through the shoulder was a Serb method of crucifixion; while the prisoner in Cleansed who learns how to count, discovers how much time he has left to serve and then hangs himself, is based on a man who was jailed on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela.) (via)
The Times article was entitled, “Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town,” as if the victim in question was the town itself. James McKinley Jr., the article’s author, focused on how the men’s lives would be changed forever, how the town was being ripped apart, how those poor boys might never be able to return to school. There was discussion of how the eleven-year-old girl, the child, dressed like a twenty-year-old, implying that there is a realm of possibility where a woman can “ask for it” and that it’s somehow understandable that eighteen men would rape a child. There were even questions about the whereabouts of the mother, given, as we all know, that a mother must be with her child at all times or whatever ill may befall the child is clearly the mother’s fault. Strangely, there were no questions about the whereabouts of the father while this rape was taking place.You do notice this a lot in news articles about rape, especially in small towns or suburban communities, and especially - maybe exclusively - when the suspects are teenaged boys. It's as if the boys are as much a victim as the girl. I think it can be worth investigating how a town reacts to a gang rape (Glen Ridge, NJ, for example), but sometimes I wonder: how many times do we need to hear the same opinions from these seemingly identical, wagon-circling communities? The article claimed to be probing "how could their young men have been drawn into the act," whatever that means, but that's not actually where they went with the article. Because then the article would actually talk about, you know, motive to rape, tendencies toward violence, domestic violence in the town, etc. Instead the article probed "how could their young men have fucked this little girl?" (oh, she looked older than she was - got it - that means they're not pedophiles, so that's good).
The overall tone of the article was what a shame it all was, how so many lives were affected by this one terrible event. Little addressed the girl, the child. It was an eleven-year-old girl whose body was ripped apart, not a town. It was an eleven-year-old girl whose life was ripped apart, not the lives of the men who raped her.
I get that the Times was soliciting neighbors' opinions and these were the neighbors' opinions, but why is this actually worth a story? No duh, the neighbors blamed the girl and pitied the boys and bemoaned the state (reputation?) of their town. I could have figured that in my sleep. Why is this worth repeating and promoting in the form of an article that does not offer any analysis of their opinion? Do they deserve some kind of public outlet because they bred a bunch of predators? Because that might have been an interesting line of inquiry: so how and why did you instill these values in your young men, Cleveland, TX? Otherwise, I don't care about their ruined community. Their ruined community is not a human interest story. Just like I do not care about how The Ryan White Story offended the residents of Kokomo, Indiana. Sometimes towns deserve to be pilloried. Sorry, but there it is. I mean, this NYT article actually says:
“It’s just destroyed our community,” said Sheila Harrison, 48, a hospital worker who says she knows several of the defendants. “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”Classic. Pathetic. These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives? What about the girl they raped? Is it because the boys seem like a greater loss to the town, I wonder - the loss of these promising young men to the justice system, when good men are hard to find (whereas an 11-year-old girl that they all but say dressed like a whore, well, who cares, they're a dime a dozen)? Is it overwhelming sympathy and empathy for the families of the suspects, even though as one commenter at the Rumpus suggests, they apparently raised rapists (whereas this girl's mother, well, she's the one that let this happen)? Is it the instinct that seems to pop up whenever something bad happens in one's community, to generalize it until it's so broad that you too can claim to be personally affected and devastated, because goddamn if you're going to let this selfish child hog all the attention? Or is it just easier to write articles about reactionary people being reactionary, predictable people being predictable? Maybe it's just an example of communal value, and communal priorities (as Hot Fuzz says, the greater good!), overriding individual value.
In any case, Roxane Gay is one of many people to have complained about this article, and the NYTimes has issued two responses. There are some very biting comments replying to the second response, and it's worth reading. My favorite:
“She’s 11 years old. It shouldn’t have happened. That’s a child. Somebody should have said, ‘What we are doing is wrong.’” Implying what, it would have been fine if she was an adult? How reassuring that there's a "voice of reason" in the community.Yes, such are the questions that we should be asking indeed. But coverage of rape always sounds the same.
In other words, zombie killing is philosophically similar to reading and deleting 400 work e-mails on a Monday morning or filling out paperwork that only generates more paperwork, or following Twitter gossip out of obligation, or performing tedious tasks in which the only true risk is being consumed by the avalanche. The principal downside to any zombie attack is that the zombies will never stop coming; the principal downside to life is that you will be never be finished with whatever it is you do.I'm pretty sure zombie fiction is popular because it's an adrenaline rush to live vicariously through people who are slamming axes through other people-not-people's heads. That had to be part of what it was for me.
Five years after 28 Days Later blew my mind, I think I'm exhausted of the genre. I just don't think much can be done with it, after all.
I mentioned this before, but I recently realized that my attraction to zombie movies is I used to have recurring dreams, when I was in elementary school, where the entire world had either become zombies or vampires - my parents, my neighbors, every single person I ran across - and I was the only person left. Like that ad for that BBC show Survivors, except I was being chased. The first time I had the dream, when I screamed in the dream I woke up. The second time, I tried screaming, and it didn't help. The last time I had the dream, I decided to let them bite me and turn me into one of them.
Other than that, I've been disappointed by the recent horror movies I've watched. Frontiers really tried to add something new to the Psycho Hicks in the Woods genre by making them ~Nazis~ in race-rioting France, but when the neo-Nazis decided that they would add this girl of Middle Eastern descent to their breeding pool because they were too inbred, the movie lost all credibility. Tried to make up for it with massive amounts of blood, almost as much as Shallow Ground. I ended up thinking about the final girl again - how violent she's become in recent years. This isn't Laurie running around stabbing Michael Myers with knitting needles anymore - this is ripping throats out, circular saw through the rib cage. The more violent she becomes, I have to say, the less believable she is. Her morality was always specious, but I'm not sure I buy the idea that the average person, even when confronted with the violent deaths of their companions, will be fueled by enough adrenaline and rage to kill so many psycho killer hicks with knives and circular saws and guns and bare hands.
And then I just stop caring.