Spoilers below, massive ones, for the Breaking Bad finale. Seriously, don’t click if you haven’t seen it.
Best puppy punt returner in the DFL!
As some of you know, I had a bit of an altercation today with a woman named Diane on an airplane.
I had a great time antagonizing her, reading your responses, and just generally trying to have fun with an irritating person. But I did have a point and I just want to put it out there.
I know I can…
So, fuck this guy.
I saw this going around on Facebook a few times this morning, and I couldn’t put my finger on why it pissed me off so much. It’s a Storify of some producer on The Bachelor and the increasingly hostile notes he exchanged with a woman who was complaining about their flight being delayed on Thanksgiving.
In his telling of it, the woman does sound rude, certainly. People can be pretty self-centered sometimes, and air travel and holiday stress don’t tend to bring out the best in anyone.
So this guy began live-tweeting about it, which is cool. Live-tweeting about jerks in public, sure! Get that out there. And then he started sending her notes. A glass of wine with, “If you drink this, you won’t be able to use your mouth to talk!” and then, after she sent him a response note accusing him of lacking compassion, another one that declared (hilariously), “the one who lacks compassion is you,” and “I hate you very much, eat my dick.”
As he tells it, at the end of the flight, she slapped him. At which point, he handed her his final note, which explained that he is famous on the Internet, and she should Google him to understand that she was the one who was wrong.
Throughout it all, he got busy on Twitter congratulating himself for his courage in, er, sending sexually threatening notes to a woman traveling by herself in her fifties.
(Of course, lest you think all of this attention has given him a swelled sense of his own importance, his Tumblr post on the matter made it clear that he’s got some perspective:
A lot of people have been really nice to me and called me a hero today. It’s really fun to hear but it’s not true.
Our troops are heroes. Fire fighters and policemen are heroes. Doctors and teachers are heroes.
Glad he cleared that up!)
Anyway. I thought the guy was a dick, but it was the relentless celebrating of his treatment of this lady that really bothered me. Yes, she should have been nicer to people who were also experiencing a frustrating, difficult day. No argument from me there! I worked service jobs for many years, and I know that people can be jerks.
But here’s the thing: You have no idea what another person’s circumstances are. Yeah, maybe they’re just a self-centered jerk who can’t look outside of themselves for five seconds to see that other people are dealing with a situation, too. But also, maybe her circumstances were genuinely unique. Maybe she had a very sick family member that she was supposed to be spending Thanksgiving with, and she was acting rudely because she was upset that she was missing time with her dying whatever. Maybe she herself had been diagnosed with cancer three days earlier and had been informed that she had six months to live, and this would be her last chance to teach her daughter how to make her special recipe for stuffing, and she was reacting to the cruelty of time and fate and human fragility, and the poor gate attendant was just a stand-in.
No one has any idea what battle another person is fighting. Should she be rude to a gate attendant? No, that’s still not super cool. But when you consider that there are reasons why one person might be more upset by a given set of circumstances than another — why a delayed flight for Elan might just be a hassle, while for her it might be life-or-death — it really makes the idea that he was the one invoking “compassion” seem bizarre.
Anyway. You’ve got a guy who is patting himself on the back relentlessly for being hostile and cruel to someone in obvious distress. You’ve got a whole bunch of people on the Internet celebrating his hostility and cruelty. The ugly bits of Internet culture look at some strange dude on an airplane telling a woman in her fifties who’s traveling alone, and who’s in obvious distress, that he hates her and she should eat his dick, and applauds him as a hero, all in the name of “compassion.”
It’s shitty and gross. I don’t know anything about this Elan guy — I’m sure he’s funny and has smart things to say sometimes — but it’s not really about him. I’m going to sound, like, 150 years old when I say this, but it’s really disappointing to see that this is the form of “compassion” that Internet society thinks is worth celebrating.
Reblogged from theyearofelan
Fall reading stack
Never ever change, Austin TX.
Spoilers below, massive ones, for the Breaking Bad finale. Seriously, don’t click if you haven’t seen it.
I was in a dumb argument on Facebook recently about, yup, whether or not privilege exists, and I wish I’d had this example to work with at the time, but it only came up yesterday.
So, Kat and I are on vacation. There’s a little Texas Gulf island town called Port Aransas that we visit every year — this is year four now. If you come after Labor Day, you’re in “off-peak” days, and you can rent a one-bedroom condo right on the beach for $500 for an entire week. That is a lot cheaper than most week-long beach vacations run you, and since Port A is only about three and a half hours from Austin, it really becomes a very affordable way to spend a week off and away from home.
(Three privileges — that is, things that not everybody gets — in that above paragraph: $500 is affordable to us, when to some people coming up with an extra $500 each year for a vacation rental is an impossible dream; we have a car, which makes a three and a half hour drive doable; the work we do allows us to take a week off every year without it being a thing.)
So, yesterday we were driving in to Port Aransas for our yearly vacation. We decided to take our bikes, since it’s a vacation and riding bikes is fun. I strapped the old bike rack we’ve had for years on the back of the car, dropped the bikes on it, and we started off. About an hour into the drive, as we were on a tollway (with an 85 mile an hour speed limit — Texas is crazy), Kat’s bike flew off the bike rack and spun off into the lane. Amazingly, there was no one behind us; I pulled over, backed up about 500 feet (which is terrifying to do on a highway) and observed as cars all changed lanes to avoid running over the bike. I did my best to secure it more effectively to the rack, and drove off, feeling pretty shaken.
(Privilege in that paragraph: We are able to afford nice bikes! We could afford to take the tollway which — sorry, TXDOT — is barely used, so nobody ran over the bicycle while it was in the lane, or me while I ran onto the freeway to get it.)
We got back on the road, and about forty-five minutes later, as we were driving along a country road (with a big shoulder on the right), the bike rack disappeared from the rearview mirror. I immediately pulled off to the shoulder — the rack had slid all the way down behind the car, because the straps that secured it to the trunk had snapped. So we were on a country road about 15-20 miles from the nearest town with two not-inexpensive bikes, in a car that had no extra room because it was packed for a vacation. But we’d passed a Walmart in that nearest town, so after we caught our breath, I called the Walmart to ask if they sold bike racks. They did. We locked our bikes to a speed limit sign, turned around, and headed back up to that town to buy a bike rack.
(Privilege in that paragraph: We had cell phones.)
So we go to the Walmart. They’ve got a really durable-looking bike rack for $99 that is guaranteed for up to 70 lbs. I check out the website for our bike manufacturer, and they say that each bike weighs about 30 pounds. Great, we’re in business. I buy the rack, go out to the parking lot, and open the box. It’s unassembled, and the assembly looks very complicated. I’m not very good at this stuff generally, either. There’s a list of required tools. I briefly contemplate buying those tools at the Walmart, before it occurs to me that I can google “seguin tx handyman” and see if there’s someone who is good at this stuff available to help.
(Privileges in that paragraph: We can afford a $99 bike rack without worrying about it too much. Our bikes are by the sort of manufacturer that has detailed information available online. I have a cell phone with a data plan that allows me to look all this stuff up.)
I call the first number that comes up, and it’s a real nice guy. He’s just about to go out of town for the weekend, but he thinks about it, decides he could use some gas money for the trip, and texts me the address for his garage. I ask him what a fair price is for this so I can grab cash at the Walmart, and he says $80. We drive over to his garage. There are a bunch of dudes there — coincidentally, they’re also going to Port Aransas, to camp on the beach and go fishing — and they’re all real friendly to us. Two of them begin work on putting together the bike rack, while another one gives us a tour of the property, which is — it should be noted — really neat. He’s got a giant fish pond that he built himself, an external game room that he built from scratch (“The only thing I bought was that pool table!”) and an aviary for birds. Dude was in a motorcycle accident three years ago, he tells us, and the guy who hit him “must have owned a bank or something.” He got a $500,000 settlement and only has a light scar on his leg to show for it, even though he had to be airlifted to San Antonio after it happened. He’s very proud of this — still has the motorcycle, as well as two others he bought with settlement money. “I’m retired,” he explains. The handyman business is his, but he’s mostly turned it over to his buddies now.
(Privileges in that paragraph — there are a whole bunch, so I may forget some. But they include: I was able to withdraw $100 from the ATM without incident. I figured I should tip the guy since it was a Friday night on no notice, he was delaying his fishing trip, and he was helping us out of a desperate situation. I was comfortable just driving to some strange guy’s garage in a town I’d never been to before! I’m white, and straight, and cisgender, and average-looking, and I was with my wife and a dog. As soon as we stepped out of that car, these dudes all knew exactly what to make of us — we were non-threatening folks like everybody you see on TV. It might have been an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where they go on vacation. These were very nice guys who may not have harbored a bigoted bone in their body, but if we’d come out of the car and been black, or a gay couple, or if one of us were trans and looked unconventional, the first thing that they asked us may not have been, “Do you guys want to see my fish?” But it goes beyond even that — the fact that I was comfortable just showing up in a stranger’s garage is because dangerous things aren’t really that dangerous for a guy like me. If Kat had been there by herself, just showing up in a strange man’s garage would have carried very different overtones. If we were a gay couple, we’d have the constant knowledge that sometimes people — especially in small towns — get violent with gay folks drilled into our heads. If we were trans, given the overwhelming threat of violence trans folks face, it would have been a completely different situation than it was for us. But in our reality, the way this shook out, we went and had a fun conversation with a friendly guy who bragged about his fish and his motorcycles while his friends built our bike rack for us.)
Anyway — they did a good job. We all listened to “Blurred Lines” out of some guy’s truck while they put it together. The bikes made it the rest of the trip without incident, and the bike rack feels like a tank. It took us seven hours to go 200 miles, but that’s life sometimes. (Imagine how long that trip took 200 years ago!) We’ll have a very fun week of not doing very much and sitting by the beach and generally enjoying some rest after a stressful and busy past year.
But let’s look for a minute at exactly what all that privilege up there means, and what it doesn’t. It does not mean that everything is easy and awesome for you all the time. We were in full possession of a big set of privileges, but when your bike goes flying into the right-hand lane on an 85-mile-an-hour freeway, that still sucks. No part of that becomes easy just because you’re white, or just because you’ve got a little bit of money in your wallet. You still have to make sure no one is going to run it over, reverse up the highway, flash your hazards, and then run out onto the freeway and grab it, re-secure it to your car, and drive away very aware that it could happen again. Dealing with all of this is never easy. Your life doesn’t suddenly become stress- and hassle-free just because you possess these privileges. It’s just that some things that would be much harder without them are not as hard.
People who deny that privilege exists tend to do it because they recognize their own life’s difficulties: Here’s the story of my really hard and stressful trip down to the beach! I felt like Chevy Chase! I had to run out onto the freeway! Don’t tell me how privileged I am when I know that my afternoon and evening yesterday sucked!
But privilege has nothing to do with your life being easy or perfect, or with you never encountering any struggles or difficulties. It has everything to do with the fact that when you do encounter those things that are a normal part of the human experience, the way that you move through the world in dealing with them is fundamentally different from the way that someone without your privileges will. It doesn’t take away your difficulties, or your cleverness in addressing them, to recognize that you have privileges. But it informs the way you move in the world, as opposed to the way that other people without those privileges might. You don’t need to feel guilty, but you do need to recognize it.
Somehow even though Kat’s bike flew off the rack at 80 miles an hour on the tollway, we were able to recover it and this was the only real damage.
Wearing some grown-ass-man socks.
Hola, amigos. Been a long time since I rapped at ya. I’ve been busy! I’ve taken on some regular responsibilities with Fast Company (specifically, their FastCo.Create blog, which covers arts/culture/entertainment) and they have kept me occupied. I shall not abandon this Tumblr, especially since I’m more than halfway through the 150 Favorite Songs project, but it’s been a hard summer to keep up.
In the meantime, here are things I wrote in July for people:
LONGTIME “X-MEN” AND “WOLVERINE” WRITER CHRIS CLAREMONT ON THE KEYS TO CREATIVE COLLABORATION (FastCo)
This one was really exciting to write, because anyone who knows me knows that Chris Claremont is one of the writers whose work really shaped me as a kid growing up (see also this). So getting to chat with him on the phone for an hour was a thrill.
“ONLY GOD FORGIVES” DIRECTOR NICOLAS WINDING REFN ON THE CREATIVE FREEDOM THAT COMES WITH MAKING DIVISIVE ART (FastCo)
It’s a unique challenge to write about something you hated, and boy did I hate Only God Forgives. But since a lot of other people did, too (and very publicly), it was possible to embrace that and tell the story that way. I hope that I did that well.
“ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK” AUTHOR ON GOING FROM PRISON TO NETFLIX (FastCo)
If I could have bought stock in the fact that everyone would love Orange Is The New Black, I would have. I’m not fancy enough as a person who writes about television to get advance screeners of these things, but I knew the source material was great, and Piper Kerman was so enthusiastic about it that I had a very good feeling. Also, fun-fact: When I mentioned that my wife ran a non-profit in Austin that did arts program with female prisoners, she said, “Oh, she must run Conspire Theatre.” Piper Kerman is very invested in this work.
MIRANDA JULY EXPLAINS HOW TO MAKE ART OUT OF EVERYDAY EMAILS (FastCo)
Yeah, this month I got to write about conversations I had with both Chris Claremont and Miranda July. I have a very cool job.
FLUFF AND STUFF (Austin Chronicle)
Did you know that the editorial offices of pretty much every media organization, no matter how serious and well-respected, is probably having a conversation RIGHT NOW about how to be more like BuzzFeed? It is true. This article is about why, and what that means.
That’s the best five for July. There’s a bunch more — primarily at the Austin Chronicle and Fast Co.Create, also at MTV Hive and one for Sports Illustrated and I think maybe also one at Vulture — but these are my favorites. I will try not to neglect this blog so much in the future.