How to make everything worse, racist cops edition

The South Bend Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #36, recently posted this image to their Facebook page:

You will note the Santa in the lower-right corner is making That Gesture. This was posted to bring attention to the police union’s Elficers program, which is a toy and food Thanksgiving donation thing.

You can probably write the rest of this post on your own.

I believe the following things:

  • That’s a stock image, and was found by someone Googling “Cool Santa.”
  • That there is no real reason to believe that the image itself was meant as a stealth white power thing. Now, blah blah blah deniability and all that, I understand the point of why these assholes adopted this gesture, but still. I feel like that’s probably innocuous.
  • I’m a little less willing to cut whoever chose the image the same amount of slack, but I’m still willing in principle to cut them said slack, depending on how they react to being told about the image.

Go ahead, take a guess. What do you think happened when the local police union was told that the Santa they picked to help promote their Thanksgiving charity drive was making a racist gesture?

I’ll give you a minute.

Did you choose “double down” of fucking course they doubled down:

So, uh, here’s the thing, guys: It would’ve taken y’all less than ten minutes, max, to redo that image with any other Santa on that Google search list. There is no reason– no reason at all— to get defensive about that one. It’s a fucking stock photo. There are hundreds of other available images to choose from. You could have replaced the image, issued a literal two-sentence apology (“It was brought to our attention that a portion of this image featured a gesture many find offensive, which was not our intention. We apologize and have replaced the picture.”) and been done. Everybody would have forgotten about it in no time flat and, well, there wouldn’t be an article in the Goddamned paper about it today. I wouldn’t even know about it, and I wouldn’t be posting this today.

But nah, y’all couldn’t do that, could you?

And that is what makes it clear that y’all are racist as fuck. Because now there’s no deniability. Because you were told that Santa was making a racist gesture and you could have fixed it in seconds and instead your response is “Nah, it’s fine, fuck y’all.”

ACAB, even when they don’t have to be.

On shitty advice

I’ve seen this video, or at least heard the audio clip, on TikTok several times, generally over a video of someone making something with their hands. I would talk about it there, except the way the site works there’s no good way to respond to a full minute of audio. I can talk over him and have the full minute, or I can clip out five seconds and then have 55 seconds of my own afterward, but neither really works, so … off to blogging!

Go ahead and watch the video; it’s only a minute long.

Look, I get enough of people not watching videos that are critical to understanding the next thing they’re going to do from my students. You haven’t watched the video yet. Watch the video.

Fine, figure it out.

This is terrible advice and this man is dumb.

Now, I don’t know when he said this, but the fact that he put it on his TikTok account implies that it was pretty recent. Which is odd, because the world that this might have worked in went away, like, decades ago. First of all, I love the implication that everybody can afford to take 90 days to work for free. So you’re either living at home and don’t have any bills or you already have enough money saved up that three months of rent, all expenses, potentially your student loans coming due (be real, he’s not envisioning someone who has student loans) and, oh, right, health insurance, which nobody gives to people who are working for them for free. Anybody who can afford to do that already has plenty of connections, and frankly if they’re planning on entering the business world their best contacts are almost certainly their parents. And entering the business world is the only possibility this person is really picturing; if the person who is “living your ideal life” is anything but the owner of a business this whole idea falls apart– you can’t approach, say, an author, or a comedian, or a school principal with a deal like this. The other possibility is some sort of apprenticeship model for a craftsperson, but guess what– we already have that sort of thing, and “connections” aren’t really all that useful if what you want to do with your life is build cabinets or chairs or something like that.

The other fun thing is his theory about how this process ends. After you have spent ninety days working harder than anyone this business owner has ever met, for free, you approach him and tell him (it is also certainly a him in this dude’s scenario) that you would now like to work for money. If you are told no, you shake hands and part ways (… and then what?) and if you are told yes, you have entered the odd question mark in this Underpants Gnome scheme for profit.

What if dude looks at you and says “I’m not sure, work for me for another 90 days for free and then I’ll decide?”

What if the wage he offers you is insulting? (Side point, but I will never as long as I live forget seeing a job listing offering $15 an hour and demanding a Master’s degree.)

Has this guy not realized that unpaid internships are already a thing, that they’re basically used as free slave labor by the businesses that sponsor them, that they have basically the exact same economic problems that I’ve already outlined above, and there’s an endless supply of them for anyone who wants to employ them? There is no fucking shortage of trust-fund shitheads who are willing to work for “free” (ie, everything paid for by their parents) and bring coffee to people for a semester in hopes that someone remembers their name when they hit the job market. There will never not be college juniors, dude.

I am sorely tempted to look more closely into this person giving this speech on a stage with a wireless microphone in his ear, to find out how his parents got their money.

ON WANDAVISION: THE FIRST TWO EPISODES

…meh?

We watched the first two episodes of WandaVision last night. To be clear, this is all that’s been released so far, and I’m still not clear (and I’m not looking it up) how many episodes are planned for this season or what the release schedule is. The real short version of this post is that right now after two episodes I’m not sure why this show exists or what it’s for, and I’m kind of bewildered by the super-positive reception it seems to be receiving so far.

Minor spoilers, but if you’re familiar with the concept of the show there’s really not a lot to spoil.

The thing is, this is a Season 5 mystery, not a first-episode-of-the-series mystery. When last we saw these characters, Wanda was at the big fight at the end of Endgame and Vision was still dead, having had the Mind Stone ripped out of his head by Thanos before the Snap– and because he died before the Snap, as far as we know he stayed dead. Did Tony bring him back? Maybe, but we’ve not been shown that prior to now.

So I guess we’re supposed to be wondering why Vision isn’t dead any longer, and probably wondering why this series is, so far, mimicking crappy TV sitcoms from the fifties and sixties and abruptly bouncing into Technicolor at the end of the second episode to enter the seventies. There have been a couple of hints that something else is going on; the color red, and a weird dude in a beekeeper’s suit, and a couple of moments where Wanda sort of freaks out and takes control of what’s going on around her.

The problem is I don’t care. Here’s what I mean by a Season 5 mystery: if you watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, imagine that Dawn’s first episode was the series premiere. The viewers knew that something weird was going on from the jump, because we’d had several seasons to get used to Buffy and her family and we knew ferdamnsure that she didn’t have a little sister, and she’d never had a little sister, and so Dawn’s first appearance sparked curiosity. This, on the other hand, comes off to me as more of an okay, this is what we’re doing, I guess sort of thing, and the fact that they’re leaning so hard into the fifties and sixties tropes when those shows were bad is, at least to me, not a smart move. I spent all of both episodes waiting for the minute of footage where Something Untoward Happens, because of course this isn’t how things are supposed to be and can we move on to getting some answers, please, because the A-plot where Vision is having his boss over for dinner is insanely not interesting. Like, that sort of boring-ass plot worked in the 1950s, or at least I guess it did, but in 2021 it’s all wasted time, because there’s no earthly reason to care.

Is there something about Wanda’s personality or hobbies or something that makes reverting to old sitcoms make sense? Dunno; we don’t really know anything about her. I know, because I follow these sorts of things, that the actress calling herself Geraldine in the second episode is actually Monica Rambeau, who is low-key the main reason I’m watching the series in the first place– but that’s not in the episode at all. In a Season 5 mystery, we know that the dude playing Vision’s boss is actually Mr. Frumblegumph from his actual job and the neighbor lady who’s being so nice is actually the villain from Season 2, so we should keep a close eye on her, or whatever. This? If I hadn’t known that Monica Rambeau was in this show, noted the name of the actress playing her, and then seen that name in the credits, I’d have no reason to think anything at all about that side character.

I mean, I don’t hate it, don’t get me wrong, and I’ll watch more of it because 1) what the hell else do I have to do right now and 2) Monica Rambeau, but this wasn’t the home run to me that a lot of people seem to think it is, and I really don’t know where those folks are coming from. Hopefully a few more episodes in will have moved onto something real and not this contrived-ass mystery.


A quick moment, though, while I argue with something that I’ve, uh, not actually seen anyone say so far: one thing I do like about the show is that so far this program has been aping the 1950s and 1960s but there are Black and Asian people in the cast and they have not felt the need to be Historically Accurate and made all these white folks racist as hell. I feel like if I look hard enough I’m going to find someone complaining that “Geraldine” was just treated like another member of the cast when in the real 1950s show she’d be blah blah blah blah and I’m glad they decided to just ignore that.

Whoopsie

Somebody almost fucked around and forgot to blog today. Not that I actually have anything I want to talk about; I just had a parent come at me about her son’s “alleged” absences and I’m not in the greatest mood.

Well, okay, I’m in that sort of I keep receipts for allllll of this, ma’am, and you’re about to find out what my tone is like when I’m not telling you to fuck yourself but I want you to hear that anyway mood.

Do not, in the same damn email, tell me that you’re not home during the day when your son is supposed to be at school and then use the word “alleged” to refer to his absences. Just don’t. It’s not gonna go well.

Off to watch television.

#Review: Attack on Titan, Season 1

I have now watched the entire first season of this … show. This program. This anime. And while I’m neither in love with the program itself nor the format, there are some interesting things going on here.

The premise of Attack on Titan is that the human race, under assault of giant man-eating humanoids called Titans, has withdrawn behind three concentric walls that, for hundreds of years, have protected them from Titan attacks, but also prevented humanity from going anywhere outside the safety of their walls. In the very first episode, a Colossal Titan, one larger than any ever seen before, shows up and basically wrecks the outer wall, allowing the Titans inside. A full 20% of humanity perishes in the events that take place over the next several months, as the Titans have feasts and the humans try to fight back.

Good stuff:

  • This show does action really well. All of the Titan fights were really cool, and the Spider-Man-esque way the characters get around, via waist-mounted cable guns, never looks anything short of amazing.
  • The designs for the Titans are uniformly awesome. None of them look like any others, but they all really skate up to the uncanny valley and they are all really creepy. None of them move quite right, although some of them move much more strangely than others, and the way some of them have faces that would look perfectly normal on a banker or a grocer when they’re actually man-eating monsters is really something.
  • The actual story itself is pretty cool; I want to know more about these things and more about the world.

Bad stuff:

  • This may be a manga thing or an artifact of how Japanese translates into English– and I should point out that I watched about 80% of the season dubbed, not subtitled– but my God, the dialogue was terrible, and the melodrama off the charts. There was no set of circumstances perilous enough (or exciting enough) that they could not be interrupted for a lengthy philosophical conversation, even if the characters were, say, on horseback and fleeing from a giant, when you wouldn’t expect them to be able to talk. The voice acting in both languages has one volume: screaming. And any individual sentence would always be 20 times as long as it needed to be, with lots of recursive clauses. Even if this is how Japanese sounds to an English speaker when translated literally, you solve that problem by not translating it literally. If you’re going to do a dub, try and make the dialogue sound natural to an English speaker.(*)
  • Character design for the human characters could be better, especially since they tend to be wearing uniforms and thus dressed the same all the time. I had trouble differentiating between a lot of the characters.
  • The flashbacks. My God, the flashbacks. Again, nothing is too exciting that you can’t interrupt it with a five-minute flashback to people talking.
  • Pacing. The episodes are short, at about 22 minutes each, but there’s a couple of minutes of recap and credits at either end of that, so the actual episode length is maybe sixteen to eighteen minutes? I am not exaggerating when I say that most episodes are 14 minutes of talking about what is happening right in front of the characters and carping about philosophy and then four minutes of something actually happening, then a cliffhanger.

So, it sounds like I hated this, but the positive stuff is actually interesting enough to me that I’m probably still in for the second season– especially since the things that are crappy about it lend well to making fun of the show while watching it, which … is a way to enjoy TV, I suppose. I may try out a season of My Hero Academia before I go into S2 of Attack on Titan just to see what things are in common across the two shows and maybe recalibrate my expectations a little bit.

Also, my wife brought home the first two volumes of the manga from the library, and I read the first one, and the anime really does appear to be a scene-for-scene translation of the manga. I have not read the second volume yet and really am not feeling much of an itch to do it, so I think I’ll stick with the series for now.

(*) This may be a good time to remind people that my academic background is in Biblical Studies, and the Hebrew Bible in particular, so I have a lot of Opinions about how to translate things. My lack of facility with Japanese hurts me a bit, but I can go on for a while about this sort of thing.