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Eleven Twelve Thirteen Fourteen

Does it really surprise anyone that I needed a second rants page? I didn't think so. Read on if you dare.

Bitch #11: Life As A V.C. Andrews Novel

I don't usually talk about my serious personal problems in public. I had a lot of garbage happen in my formative years that doesn't bear open discussion. I generally tell people that my early life was like a V.C. Andrews novel (the title "Flowers In The Attic" should clue most otherwise blissfully ignorant people). Okay, so nobody locked me in an upstairs room and fed me sugar doughnuts laced with rat poison, but there were incidents that I can talk about now with something like casual indifference that make people gasp and stare.

Still, anytime I think life is hard, all I have to do is look over at the one with whom I've chosen to share my life, and things look a whole lot better. I know the one I love is not going to leave me destitute or trade me in for a newer, flashier model. We've developed a relationship based not just on attraction and affection, but trust.

I really wish everyone were that lucky, but they're not. There are no happy endings, because nothing ever ends. That's what Schmendrick says, anyway.

This rant was originally about a situation that my best friend was going through which was very difficult for her. I got really bent out of shape and posted a long, vitriolic ramble here in the name of "standing up" for my best friend.

It's been almost a year since I posted the original rant. A lot has happened, not the least of which was my having to have major emergency surgery for a potentially life-threatening condition. Ever since I got out of the hospital I've wanted to try and set some of the wrongs I've done right, because life's too damn short to hold grudges. The only real obstacle was my own selfish pride--I have a very, very hard time ever admitting I've done anything that might even be considered wrong. I kept telling myself I was justified to do what I did, but I can't claim that anymore. After a lot of soul-searching and examination of my own motives, I'm finally ready to come clean and tell the simple truth once and for all.

While some of my motives for posting the now-deleted rant might have been noble, I had no right to speak out in public over an issue that, quite frankly, didn't involve me. If someone came up to me in private and asked me for my opinion, that's one thing--but I took it upon myself to try and hurt people I saw as being in the wrong. I did that by "outing" the situation here on my personal website, which receives literally thousands of hits a week, and thereby advertising other people's private lives to total strangers. While I still feel that things in the emergent situation should have been handled differently, I can no longer deny that I was not justified for opening my big flapping pretentious mouth on the subject and I should have simply kept out of it until and unless someone asked me what I thought, which no one probably ever would have.

I also had no right taking things I was told that I did not witness as gospel. I'm not accusing anyone in this situation of lying--that isn't my call, either--but emotions do flare and miscommunications do happen and things can be misunderstood and taken out of context far too easily. Even a person's own memory can't be trusted when viewed through the distorted lens of emotional distress.

Let's be honest--I was pissed off and I was looking at everything in the worst possible light. Some of my intentions were good--I was tired of my friend being spat upon and shunned, which did happen, and I wanted to get it out in the open to punish those I saw as responsible. Trouble is, that's not my place or my call, and I had no right to do it.

Like Gallagher used to say, "Two wrongs don't make a right. Three rights make a left."

The poor behavior of other people in this matter (and I am NOT pointing fingers here at anyone but myself) does not in any way excuse me acting like a jackass. For that, I am truly and deeply sorry. I will continue to support my best friend, whom I love more dearly than my own blood, and if there comes a time when she needs me to defend her, I stand ready to do so. But no one's attacking her now, and all I can do is be there for her, which I intend to be. She's made her own peace with the other parties involved, which is an ongoing process for her. In order to help further the healing for all concerned, I'm asking forgiveness for my own interference. I was wrong to post what I did. I shouldn't have. I'm sorry.

That's all.

Bitch #12: My Intolerance for Stupidity

It's 2003. I'm 42 years old. I've been online for almost ten years and it's time to admit my one prevailing, unfailing, enduring prejudice.

I hate stupid people.

First, let me define the term "stupid" as I use the term. Stupidity is not ignorance; ignorant people don't know any better because all they know is what they've experienced or been taught. A newborn baby is ignorant. Ignorant people are nott. A newborn baby is ignorant. Ignorant people are not, by definition, stupid. Everyone is ignorant about something, because nobody knows everything. Mentally impaired people are not stupid; if you've got an IQ of 60, you're not stupid, you're disabled. Mental retardation is the same as any other handicap, except you don't need a wheelchair or a prosthesis or a dialysis machine. People who have different opinions than mine, or different likes and dislikes than I do, are not stupid; the fact that they can think for themselves proves that they aren't idiots.

Okay, so now I've told you what stupidity is not (to me, anyway). So what is it?

Let me give you an example. In my days as a corporate whore, I worked in a law office. The office manager would berate me for sending four-page documents in a manila folder because "if you fold it up, it weighs more". (I kid you not.) She would regularly fold up ten- or twelve-page documents and stuff them into a #10 envelope, heedless of the fact that something that bulky might well get stuck in the Post Offal's machines. It took our employer overhearing her chide me about it to put a stop to her riding me about "wasting money" by folding up the papers and making them "weigh more".

Done laughing? Okay. I have no idea where this college graduate got the idea that folding up a piece of paper (or several pieces of paper) increased the mass of the paper, but even after I weighed two items on a postal scale, one folded, one not, and proved it to her, she insisted that I was wrong and she was right. This is the kind of thing I'm talking about: the stubborn refusal to admit that you might be mistaken in your views even when presented with incontrovertible proof that you are wrong.

Racists are stupid. They honestly believe that their so-called race is "superior" to all others, despite the fact that there is only one human race, and that's...well, the human race. Dark skin, or epicanthic folds, or other such race-specific markers are a factor of heredity, not variance in species. To say "I hate Asians" is the same as saying "People with blue eyes are stupid" or "short people got no reason to live". I'm not saying people shouldn't be proud of their ethnicity; I'm Scottish/Welsh/Cherokee/Greek and damn proud of it, thank you, but I'm not about to slam anyone who isn't the same ethnic mix as I am. While I'm classed as "white" on my birth certificate, I prefer to class myself as "ecru".

Homophobes are stupid. Primates are bisexual by nature; if you don't believe me, visit the local zoo and check out the monkey house. And yes, humans are primates, too. I'm not saying that promiscuous sex is a good thing--it's not. We're not monkeys (at least most of us aren't). However, bisexuality is a social taboo, not a mental defect. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are preferences, not predetermined at birth. I don't believe there's any such thing as a "gay gene". Wouldn't that be counterproductive to reproduction? However, some people do choose the gay lifestyle, and if they do, people shouldn't blast them for it. Nor do I believe that there is a "cure" for homosexuality, any more than there's a cure for hating the taste of rutabagas. It's all preference and experience, people. You might be able to brainwash someone into a different lifestyle, but that takes away freedom of choice, which is A Very Bad Thing™ to do.

There are lots of different flavors of stupidity; these are just the examples that spring to mind. I guess the bottom line is that it doesn't matter who you are, or where you're from--if you can't admit you're wrong about something (and everybody is wrong about something at one time or another), you're being stupid. So cut it out.

Bitch #13: Oh, No, Not Another Yaoi Rant

Okay, I'm sure there must be a few people reading this that have no idea what "yaoi" is. It's a Japanese term, pronounced more or less like "yowie" (which is apt in some cases), which refers to male/male relationships, particularly in manga and anime. (The corresponding female term is yuri.) Older fans might be familiar with the term "slash", as in K/S (for Kirk/Spock, the first known instance of male-on-male fanfic pairing), which means more or less the same thing.

Yaoi fanfic and fanart is prevalent in certain anime that are particularly overloaded with bishounen (pretty boys)--Samurai Troopers, for example, or Gundam Wing. A lot of anime series don't have a lot of female love interests for the male characters, and if you want to do a romantic fanfic about them, you either have to make up a female character (and risk accusations of Mary Sueism) or have the boys boink each other. Many, many female fans choose the latter avenue, maybe because they can't stand seeing "another woman" snuggling Heero/Seiji/whoever.

Fine, no problem, I can deal with that. I'm not a huge yaoi fan, but I have read some, and some manga and anime (Fake, for example) even play up to yaoi fans, which is completely cool by me.

So when does it cross the line with me? Mainly when an established couple in an anime are either broken up or disregarded by the writers of fanfic in order to pair up the pretty boys. Everybody who's ever watched Sailor Moon (and a lot of people who haven't) know that Usagi and Mamoru are predestined for each other. It's fate, it's established, they end up ruling Earth together and they have a kid. So what is it with all the fanfic writers who end up pairing Mamoru off with one of the Generals, or Motoki, or really a woman, and Mamoru hates him/her/it anyway)?! Granted, a lot of male SM fans put the girls with each other (Sailor Moon is one of the few genres where yuri fanfic and fanart outnumbers yaoi), but I'm not crazy about people who put Usagi with one of the other senshi, or Beryl, or--shudder--Luna, either.

Recently my lifemate got into Yu-Gi-Oh!. Deep into it--the anime, the manga, the cards, online and offline RPGs, the whole nine yards. I haven't seen my baby with an obsession this deep since we stumbled into Dragonball Z about eight years back. I'm not into it quite so heavily, but I do enjoy it, and I've gone looking for things to feed my new interest--including fanfic and fanart. 90 percent of the fan works I've come across are yaoi.

The most popular pairing in Yu-Gi-Oh! yaoidom is--I kid you not--Yuugi/Yami. I'm still trying to figure out if this counts as incest or autoeroticism. After that...probably Bakura/Yami Bakura (see previous comment). Then there's Kaiba/Yami, Jou/Yuugi, Kaiba/Jou, Malik/every other male on the planet...you know the drill.

I think Yu-Gi-Oh! yaoi mainly bothers me because so many people who want to pair Yuugi off with someone else (or with himself...*squick*) justify their pet obsession by vilifying Anzu, Yuugi's canonical love interest. Why is this necessary? I love Anzu. She's a rarity in shounen anime--a smart, strong-willed female who doesn't just whine, jiggle and cling decoratively to the hero.

The reasons that Anzu haters give are as lame as excuses can get. "She's too preachy." (Only in the English dub, because everybody talks too much in dubbed anime.) "She's too moralistic." (She's the voice of reason for three hyperactive high-school boys.) "She's always talking about friendship." (And this is a bad thing...how?) "She's a slut." (Really? Who does she have sex with in the series? Name some names. I'll wait.) "She's got big boobs." (Okay, now that's just weak.)

The real reason Yami/Yuugi 'shippers (and, to a lesser extent, Yuugi/whoever else 'shippers) hate Anzu is simple: she's an obstacle to their fannish pairings. It's the same justification people use for hating Sailor Moon when they want Tuxedo Kamen to boink Nephrite. It's why Ranma/Ryouga fans despise Akane Tendou. In other words, it's lame as **** (insert your favorite expletive). If you're going to pair male characters who have established canonical love interests, fine--but don't try to justify your uncanonical pairing by saying Anzu (or Relena, or Usagi, or Akane, or whoever) sucks. You're not fooling anybody, least of all me.

Bitch #14: Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, Why Do They Call You Sue?

Another rant about fanfiction--hey, I'm on a roll.

Anyone who reads a lot of fanfic on the web has probably heard the term "Mary Sue". The term comes from the name of a very, very old Star Trek fanfic character who is infamous for her stunning perfection. The name is used as a label for any fanfic character which is considered to be an idealized version of the author herself, doing the things the author wished she could do if she existed as a stronger, better, prettier version of herself in the genre reality of her choice. Mary Sues, and the authors who write them, are usually female--the male version, much less common, is commonly called a Marty Stu.

There are tons of essays out there on the Web about what does, or does not, constitute a Mary Sue. Some of the demarcations are awfully arbitrary. Is the new character pretty? Does she have talents the heroes don't have? Does she fall in love with one of the series regulars? Is the story told primarily from her point of view? Does she save the day while the other characters (the actual stars of the canon, you remember them, don't you?) stand by and murmur their appreciation? Does she die heroically at the end and leave a good-looking corpse for them to weep copiously over?

Any story with too many of the above elements (or all of them) stands a good chance of being branded a "Mary Sue" by other fans of the genre. Some readers of fanfic refuse to read any story with a prominently-featured original character interacting with series regulars, simply because they "hate Mary Sue stories". That's a personal decision, and one I wouldn't fault anyone for making. Everyone knows my opinions about slash/yaoi by now (see previous rant). The problem I see with decrying all original characters as "Mary Sue" is that before you even read a story, you've made a judgment about it that can color your perceptions, perhaps unfairly. Yes, I hate out-of-character yaoi with a passion. On the other hand, I adore anime such as Fake and Ai no Kusabi, both of which are yaoi-oriented anime. I even get into Gundam Wing fanfic that has Heero getting snuggly with Duo and/or Trowa making time with Quatre. If I avoided all yaoi the way some readers brand all original characters "Mary Sues" and avoid stories which feature them, then I'd be short-changing myself, wouldn't I?

Some people, on the other hand, actually like Mary Sue stories. Recently it's actually become chic to stand up and admit "Hey, I'm an author who writes myself into my fanfic and I'm proud!" There's a
whole website devoted to the specialness of Mary Sue and the authors who write her avatars. Anyone who's curious to learn more about this type of chracter is encouraged to go check out the link. If you write fanfic with an original character in virtually any genre--TV, anime, movies, books--there are even "litmus tests" to help determine whether your character is too Mary Sue even for lovers of Mary Sue. (Yes, that is my name you see on that site. Yes, I belong to the Mary Sue webring. Yes, I do have avatars of my own. Shut up.)

Whether an original character in a genre fanfic is or is not a "Mary Sue" isn't always clear. The only suggestion I can make is that each fanfiction story featuring an original character interacting with the established cast should be taken on its own merits. If you read a fic where some chick with purple hair walks into your favorite series and takes over while the characters you love stand around and ooh and ahh, of course it can be frustrating. That doesn't mean that every story with an original character is going to be a Mary Sue. If the new character doesn't appear in every scene, if she's not the focus of every action, conversation, and plot twist, if she doesn't make the male characters forget other women ever existed, if she's not either the female characters' best friend or object of spiteful jealousy, if she isn't a deus ex machina that can solve any problem, if she adds to the story without completely overbalancing it, then I for one actually get a kick out of seeing someone new with a fresh perspective interacting with the characters I know and love. Even if she does manage to go to bed with one of my personal favorites. ^.~

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