Blue Pill Movies: Independence Day

Donal reminded me on my last post that I also wanted to do an analysis of Independence Day, so here it is.  First, let’s look at the four main “heroes.”  On the plus side, they’re all men; you probably couldn’t do that now.  But how manly are they?  Let’s look:

1. An alcoholic widower who’s screwing up his business by flying drunk.  He’s a father (a plus), but his kids appear to pretty much take care of themselves, and perhaps him, while he screws up in ways that probably make it hard for them to get by.

2. The President, who is pushed around by his underlings until being mentally attacked by an alien appears to give him a testosterone boost.  His wife and female chief of staff are both more assertive than he.  When the movie opens, he’s home playing Mr. Mom while his wife is doing something political across the country.

3. A handsome, clearly alpha, fighter pilot with the qualifications to be an astronaut, but (according to his friend) NASA keeps turning him down because he’s shacked up with a single-momma stripper.  Of course, she’s the good kind of stripper, who’s just doing it for her baby, instead of a head-case who hooks on the side for crack money. When he marries her before going on the Final Mission, he apologizes for taking so long.  We don’t see her thank him for overlooking all her baggage.

4. A nerdy, environmentalist tech guy whose ex-wife (the aforementioned chief of staff) divorced him three years earlier because he wasn’t ambitious enough to suit her.  He was happy with his job and his recycling obsession and their marriage just the way they were, but apparently she thought he should be out chasing Nobel prizes or something.  This is presented as a sad thing, but completely understandable on her part.  He’s still pining for her to the point of continuing to wear his wedding ring, so it’s up to her whether they’re together or not, and that’s how it should be.  She starts to tingle for him again when he saves the world.

The three women characters — the stripper, the chief of staff, and the First Lady — are cool and competent at all times, whether running from fireballs or even dying.

I don’t think it would be exaggerating to call this movie a defining moment of its era.  It was the largest-grossing movie of 1996, breaking records and winning awards.  Everyone saw it and was quoting it.  Everyone remembers the scene of the helicopter swinging away from the White House as it explodes, and the alien ship blasting the buildings with people waiting on top to meet them, causing city-wide explosions for people to run from.  (Fireballs were really, really slow in the mid-90s.)  Tied to July 4th as it was, it reconstructed the idea of non-ironic, fist-pumping, pro-military patriotism as something good, as long as it had a global flavor.

So in this movie everyone was watching and imitating 18 years ago (about the time today’s marriage-delaying 30-year-old girl was growing up), what did we learn?

  • Men have a lot of flaws. Women don’t seem to.
  • Men are sometimes able to get better, maybe good enough to deserve a woman, if they work really hard to redeem themselves and meet her expectations.  Saving the world may improve a man’s odds.
  • Strippers with other men’s children are smart, capable, classy, and generally great wife material.
  • If a man’s wife falls out of love with him, it’s not her fault, and is probably his.
  • A father without a mother will probably crack and be the kind of guy you wouldn’t let take care of your goldfish, let alone some kids.

Am I forgetting any?

Blue Pill Movie: Godzilla (1998)

I used to think 80s teen movies were blue-pill, but most of them are really a decent mix of blue and red.  I’ve been catching up on more recent movies lately, thanks to RiffTrax, and I’ve come to realize that newer action movies are far more blue-pill, often overwhelmingly so.

Maria Pitillo (hot girl)

Maria Pitillo (hot betrayer)

Case in point, the Godzilla film made in 1998 (extremely stupid movie; great RiffTrax).  Matthew Broderick plays a scientist who’s studying the effects of radiation on earthworms — pretty much the very definition of undatable nerd.  In his science nerd van, he carries around a collage of pictures of his old girlfriend (Maria Pitillo), who we later find out left him eight years ago, and it appears he’s been pining away for her ever since.  She’s ridiculously cute with a tremendous body, but it’s never explained how he got her in the first place.  She tells her friends they were together for four years.  He proposed, and she turned him down (of course, since she’s at least a 9 and he’s a worm scientist who looks like Matthew Broderick, so she wasn’t about to settle for him).  She ran off to New York to try to become a famous reporter, but didn’t even have the guts to break up with him, just ran off without a call or a letter.

Vicki Lewis (invisible girl)

Vicki Lewis (invisible girl)

Meanwhile, Vicki Lewis (from NewsRadio) is basically throwing herself at him from the moment they meet.  She’s no 10, but she’s not ugly either, but he barely sees her because he’s still waiting for Cutie.

When he and Cutie inevitably bump into each other while he’s saving the world and she’s being an annoying junior reporter, she accuses him of still being angry and causing her feelbad. He gives her the mildest rebuke in history for leaving him without a word after four years together, so she acts hurt and starts to walk away, until he apologizes to her for his rudeness, and then things are okay.  She sees his collage of pictures of her that he’s been carrying around — even in the middle of saving the world — and instead of being creeped out, she’s touched.

  • So, she dumped him, in a particularly hurtful way, but it’s his job to make her feel okay about it.  Check.
  • He stayed loyal and waited for her for 8 years while she Pursued Her Dreams.  Check.
  • She never apologizes for the dumping, and he takes her back without the slightest repentance or penance.  Check.
  • His one-itis touches her heart and brings her back, instead of driving her away again or telling her she can blow him off for another ten years because he’s sure to keep waiting.  Check.

It’s got it all, all the blue-pill lies about how to get a girl (or how to get her back, in this case), what they find attractive, how caving in and being nice works better than standing up to them, etc.

There are a couple of very small red-pill truths, though, if you look hard enough (in a way, there have to be, to set up the blue-pill lies).  For instance, the way a man being more in love with a woman than she is with him, and making her too comfortable by proposing, can push her away.  That’s the one true note here.  Unfortunately, the typical Nice Guy who needs to learn that lesson will miss it; he’ll focus on all the rest, and come away thinking, “Okay, so I just need to keep waiting for my runaway Princess, doting on her from afar, avoiding attachments with other women, until I get a chance to save her from a giant lizard someday — and then I’d better remember to be nice to her and not push her away again.”

He should have grabbed the girl who doted on him, burned the nostalgia pics, and then told the ditz he had better things to do than rehash old news.

Corwin and Hugi, the End

This is my favorite part of the Corwin & Hugi story, so I’m finally getting around to it:

“I can’t beat it across that place,” I whispered. “There is no way.”

“You say you have failed,” Hugi said. “But this is not so. There is neither failure nor victory in striving. It is all but an illusion of the ego.”

I rose slowly to my knees.

“I did not say that I had failed.”

“You said that you cannot go on to your destination. [….] No, Corwin. Resignation is the greatest virtue you might cultivate.”

I raised my head and lowered the staff to the ground. Hugi fluttered down to stand beside it and I regarded him.

“You do not want to believe any of the things that I said, do you?” I told him. “It does not matter, though. The conflict between our views is irreducible. I see desire as hidden identity and striving as its growth. You do not.” I moved my hands forward and rested them on my knees. “If for you the greatest good is union with the Absolute, then why do you not fly to join it now, in the form of the all-pervading Chaos which approaches? If I fail here, it will become Absolute. As for me, I must try, for so long as there is breath within me, to raise up a Pattern against it. I do this because I am what I am, and I am the man who could have been king in Amber.”

Hugi lowered his head.

“I’ll see you eat crow first,” he said, and he chuckled.

I reached out quickly and twisted his head off, wishing that I had time to build a fire. Though he made it look like a sacrifice, it is difficult to say to whom the moral victory belonged, since I was planning on doing it anyway.

**************************

Now, I’m not saying that when leftists tell us that striving for the Good is useless and that we should all wallow in the mud together, we should pull their heads off and eat them.  But many times it would be helpful to remind ourselves: “‘The conflict between our views is irreducible.’ I’m not going to convince this person that my way is right, because he’s opposed to the concept of right. I’m not going to talk him into striving for the good, because he considers all such striving to be counterproductive. His only goal is my resignation.” So at some point, usually earlier in the conversation than normal people realize it, you have to say to yourself, “Facts, logic, and appeals to virtue are worthless here; it’s time to shift to their weapons: ridicule, illogic, and beheadings.”

What’s in a Name?

Vox linked to and commented on a piece by Rollo about the dangers he sees in the “First Mate” paradigm suggested by Athol Kay’s Married Man Sex Life.  As often happens in such discussions, people soon got bogged down in worrying about the specific words and batting anecdotes back and forth about one phrase or another.  So one guy says calling your wife your “bride” is pedestalizing her, and another guy counters by saying he’s been doing that for 40 years and his wife still dotes on him.  If we looked long enough, we could find good and bad marriages using every possible term.

We should all know by know that the words don’t matter; it’s the attitude behind the words that matters.  Your choice of words might be a reflection of your attitude, but only you can know that for sure.  So if “my bride” makes you feel studly and makes your wife blush and giggle, keep right at it.

As far as the “first mate” thing, here’s what I see happening — not just on this topic, but in general in the manosphere:

  1. Many guys are trying to have equalitarian 50/50 marriages and failing.
  2. A guy comes along and says, “That won’t work; you need something more like a Captain/XO relationship, where your wife is your most trusted assistant, but you are the ultimate authority on everything.”
  3. Many guys say, “Hey, that’s really helpful; I never thought of it that way.  I’m going to try to bring that frame into my marriage.”
  4. Tradcons and other white knights become uncomfortable, because while they might agree with that paradigm in theory, it’s too rigid for them, because: “What if my daughter marries a shitty captain?”  They therefore need to reframe it so it still looks traditional and patriarchal, but leaves the wife a veto.
  5. So the tradcon says, “Hey, this First Mate idea is great, because, you know, a smart captain knows he can trust his First Mate and the First Mate often knows more than he does about the situation at hand.  In fact, if his First Mate disagrees with him on something, a wise captain will go along with his First Mate’s opinion.  If he doesn’t, that just shows that he’s not man enough to deal with any threats to his command, or that he should have done a better job of picking a First Mate.”

See how easy that was?  In three sentences, I reframed it so the First Mate is really the one making the decisions after all, and if the Captain objects, he’s being a whiny bitch.  That’s what they try to do with every idea the manosphere comes up with that challenges the female imperative — twist it around until the man is responsible and the woman is in charge.

That’s what we have to watch out for.  We’re not going to find some perfect vocabulary that they can’t subvert.  These are people who can turn “wives, be subject to your husbands” into “assign your husband a to-do list,” after all.  We have to keep our focus on what we mean, what frame we’re projecting, not particular words.  That way, when they try to twist our words around to serve the female imperative, we can recognize it and say, “Nope, that’s not what we mean; you’re doing it again.”

Contented Women Don’t Facebook

(If this one looks familiar, it’s because I posted it a while back, but somehow made it a Page instead of a Post.  That’s annoying because it makes it look like my central thesis or something, when it’s just some offhand musing. If I were running this WordPress on my own site, I could change it in the database; but I can’t do that here, so I just have to copy it and let it show up as a new post.  Enjoy again, I guess.)

Something I’ve noticed is that a woman who’s happy with her man doesn’t waste time on Facebook or other social media (not counting business usage, of course).  I’ve seen the same pattern over and over: girl is on FB every day, sharing silly pictures and liking all her friends’ stuff.  Then she meets a new guy and disappears online for a while.  She may post pictures of herself and her new man now and then to brag, but the frivolous stuff will stop.  Her page may even go dark for months.  Then one day she’s back, and you can tell they’ve broken up or she’s not happy.  Rinse and repeat.

What brought this glaringly to my attention was a particular girl’s page.  I don’t even know her; I saw her on a dating site and thought she had potential, so I tracked her down on FB (easy to do when you live in a small enough town, as long as she uses the same pictures). That revealed more potential but also some red flags, so I thought I’d just observe for a while.  Not too long after, she posted a picture of herself with a new short haircut — which all her friends gushed over, of course — so that didn’t help.  Some days later, she posted a picture of herself with a new guy, and some happy stuff about soulmates or whatever.  No activity for a while, then one day all that was gone — not just dropped off the page, but deleted — and she posted some pablum captions about how it’s better to live alone than with someone who doesn’t love you, blah blah blah.  Then a couple weeks later, all those were gone, and the picture of the two of them was back!  She’s gone through that same cycle a few times now, with the same picture of the same guy.  Looks like I dodged a bullet on that one.

That got me thinking about other women I know online, especially relatives and close friends whose personal lives I’m familiar with.  The ones who are reasonably happy at home just don’t spend much time on there.  When they do post, it’s stuff about their kids, or recipes or crafts — things they’re actually doing — and the friends who comment on their stuff tend to be other moms or family members who are in the same boat.  They don’t post pictures with captions about strong women, or take endless tests to find out what kind of flower they are.

The women who do that stuff are the unattached or unhappy ones.  Of course, they post about how happy and busy they are, but there’s a frantic, try-hard feel to it.  Rarely is any of it about something that matters.

So if you see a girl posting a lot of silly stuff on FB, you can figure she’s immediately available, regardless of what her status says or how many pics there are of her with a boyfriend.  On the other hand, if your own wife or girlfriend is the one doing it….well, don’t be surprised if you get the “love you but not in love with you” speech before long.

Corwin on Solipsism

This is actually the bit from the Amber books that made me decide to put up some quotes here.  How often do you run across the word “solipsism” in a fantasy novel?

For those who don’t know the series (read it, seriously; it’s a quick read), the background here is that Amber is the only “real” place that exists, and all other places are “Shadow.”  Shadows are alternate universes that can be created/discovered by members of the royal family of Amber, by using their minds to alter their surroundings as they travel.  (Let’s just ignore the complications of the second series.)  So our Earth is one Shadow, Avalon (with Arthur and Lancelot and so on) is another, and there are limitless others, all different. The Amberites don’t know whether they actually create the Shadows with their minds, or simply travel between them, which is what Corwin (a prince of Amber) is talking about here.  He’s traveled so far through Shadow that he’s starting to see things that he can’t imagine are coming from his own imagination:

Two lines from a story of Isak Dinesen’s returned to me, lines which had troubled me sufficiently to cause me to memorize them, despite the fact that I had been Carl Corey at the time: “… Few people can say of themselves that they are free of the belief that this world which they see around them is in reality the work of their own imagination. Are we pleased with it, proud of it, then?” A summation of the family’s favorite philosophical pastime. Do we make the Shadow worlds? Or are they there, independent of us, awaiting our footfalls? Or is there an unfairly excluded middle? Is it a matter of more or less, rather than either-or? A dry chuckle arose suddenly as I realized that I might never know the answer for certain. Yet, as I had thought that night, there is a place, a place where there comes an end to Self, a place where solipsism is no longer the plausible answer to the locales we visit, the things that we find. The existence of this place, these things, says that here, at least, there is a difference, and if here, perhaps it runs back through our shadows, too, informing them with the not-self, moving our egos back to a smaller stage. For this, I felt, was such a place, a place where the “Are we pleased with it, proud of it, then?” need not apply, as the rent vale of Garnath and my curse might have nearer home. Whatever I ultimately believed, I felt that I was about to enter the land of the completely not-I. My powers over Shadow might well be canceled beyond this point.

Corwin isn’t a very good solipsist here. For the true solipsist, nothing can ever be proven to be not-self; if the solipsist can perceive it, he can imagine it as part of the universe that makes up his self. There’s nothing that can make him say, “Ok, that couldn’t have come from me.”

I’ve known New Agers who hold this as their official belief: everything they perceive — including their New Age friends who believe the same thing, presumably — is a creation of their minds, and can be altered with the right mode of thinking. It’s a particularly problematic way of thinking, which I’ll have to write about more another time.

What’s interesting, though, is that the first part of what Corwin’s talking about has infested modern thinking: we are free to do pretty much whatever we want with our lives, and many even believe we can improve reality with positive thinking.  But you rarely hear anyone ask the second part: In that case, are you proud of your results? No one points out the disconnect of having a group of people running things who simultaneously claim that A) they have all the answers, and B) everything sucks. Try to claim that anything they’ve been working on for decades — racism, sexism, the environment, take your pick — is getting better, and they’ll shout you down. But if nothing’s gotten better, shouldn’t they have to answer for that?

It’s like the “there are no wrong answers” concept of schooling, where you never tell a kid, “No, that’s wrong,” because that would damage his self-esteem or stifle his creativity, has spread to everything. All that matters is that you have the right intentions; no one ever asks whether you’re proud of what you produced (or didn’t) — or whether you should be. You shouldn’t have to be a solipsist to care about that, but it seems like a solipsist should care the most, yet they seem to care the least.

Oh, and it’s interesting that Isak Dinesen, the writer he quotes who thinks few people are free of that kind of extreme solipsism, was a woman.

Sophomore Philosophy, Part 1

I’ve been pondering this exchange between Corwin and Hugi the nihilistic crow, who keeps encouraging him to give up. To call my knowledge of philosophy or psychology skin-deep would be an exaggeration, but I still find them interesting, especially in small doses like Zelazny works in here. (If you’re worried that it’s a whole series of this, don’t; the books are much more Mike Hammer than Jung.)

Hugi: “The whole problem lies with the self, the ego, and its involvement with the world on the one hand and the Absolute on the other.”

Corwin: “Oh, is that so?”

“Yes. You see, we are hatched and we drift on the surface of events. Sometimes, we feel that we actually influence things, and this gives rise to striving. This is a big mistake, because it creates desires and builds up a false ego when just being should be enough. That leads to more desires and more striving and there you are, trapped.”

“In the mud?”

“So to speak. One needs to fix one’s vision firmly on the Absolute and learn to ignore the mirages, the illusions, the fake sense of identity which sets one apart as a false island of consciousness.”

“I had a fake identity once. It helped me a lot in becoming the absolute that I am now — me.”

“No, that’s fake, too.”

“Then the me that may exist tomorrow will thank me for it, as I do that other.”

“You are missing the point. That you will be fake too.”

“Why?”

“Because it will still be full of those desires and strivings that set you apart from the Absolute.”

“What is wrong with that?”

“You remain alone in a world of strangers, the world of phenomena.”

“I like being alone. I am quite fond of myself. I like phenomena, too.”

“Yet the Absolute will always be there, calling to you, causing unrest.”

“Good, then there is no need to hurry. But yes, I see what you mean. It takes the form of ideals. Everyone has a few. If you are saying that I should pursue them, I agree with you.”

“No, they are distortions of the Absolute, and what you are talking about is more striving.”

“That is correct.”

“I can see that you have a lot to unlearn.”

“If you are talking about my vulgar instinct for survival, forget it.”

[….]

“I will admit to a certain small admiration for your persistence,” Hugi said, ” and even for what you implied when you spoke of ideals. But that is about it. Earlier, we were talking about the futility of desire and of striving–”

“You were. It is not a major concern of mine.”

“It should be.”

“I have had a long life, Hugi. You insult me by assuming I have never considered these footnotes to sophomore philosophy. The fact that you find consensus reality barren tells me more about you than it does about that state of affairs. To wit, if you believe what you say I feel sorry for you, in that you must for some inexplicable reason be here desiring and striving to influence this false ego of mine rather than free of such nonsense and on your way to your Absolute. If you do not believe it, then it tells me that you have been sent to hinder and discourage me, in which case you are wasting your time.”

Hugi had a gargling noise. Then: “You are not so blind that you deny the Absolute, the beginning and end of everything?”

“It is not indispensable to a liberal education.”

“You admit the possibility?”

“Perhaps I know it better than you, bird. The ego, as I see it, exists at an intermediate stage between rationality and reflex existence. Blotting it out is a retreat, though. If you come from that Absolute–of a self-canceling All–why do you wish to go back home? Do you so despise yourself that you fear mirrors? Why not make the trip worthwhile? Develop. Learn. Live. If you have been sent on a journey why do you wish to cop out and run back to your point of departure? Or did your Absolute make a mistake in sending something of your caliber? Admit that possibility and that is the end of the news.”

Hugi glared at me, then sprang into the air and flew off. Going to consult his manual, perhaps…

Although it’s not quite the same thing, those last few paragraphs reminded me so much of many atheists, who seem determined to spread their faith to others, and who take rejection personally. If nothing matters — if striving is meaningless — then why would you waste time trying to convince anyone of anything? For that matter, why would you take another breath? In good times, maybe you’d go with the flow and enjoy the imaginary ride while it lasted; but everyone has bad times. When those come along, why not flip the switch and turn off the bad movie? So like Corwin here with Hugi, I don’t believe those people really believe what they’re peddling.

My favorite line here is, “You insult me by assuming I have never considered these footnotes to sophomore philosophy.” That’s so common with SJWs, aspie atheists, and other leftists: if you don’t agree with them, it must be that you’re too dense to understand their brilliant points, or that they just haven’t explained it loudly or often enough. It couldn’t be that you’ve considered the same ideas that converted them, and decided they were lacking. I assume most people can look back at times in their lives — especially the teenage years — when they had firm beliefs that they’d be embarrassed to admit now. These people don’t seem to be able to do that. Either they can’t remember believing anything else, or their beliefs have never changed since they read that one book that or watched that one movie that set their worldview in stone at age 14.

Part 2 to come.