I am Jack's screeching profanity
So about a week ago I concluded another little internet adventure.
I know a guy. I'll call him Jack. I've never met Jack in person, but several years ago... nearly ten, in fact... I made his acquaintance over the Internet.
Jack and I have a lot in common. He's like ten years younger than I am, but he's a geek and a nerd and a general misanthrope without a lot in the way of social skills. He tends to dislike people in general, and most people in specific, almost as much as I do.
As you might expect, we got along famously.... for a while. Then he said something that annoyed me, or I said something that annoyed him... more than we were already annoying each other, I mean, because I'm sure we were, being generally annoying people... and it crossed a threshold and we were done.
Except, every once in a while, he'll send me an email, drop by my old blog, tell me what's going on... and, inevitably, invite me to some chat forum he's moderating, because he thinks I'll 'be good for the interaction'.
Last time he did this, I put it off, because my history with chat forums is kind of like the Washington Capitols' history with the Harlem Globetrotters, and by that, I do not mean, they provide me with a steady source of income. No, I mean, when I interact with them, I inevitably lose.
But eventually, after a few weeks of him importuning me every week or so, I went over and signed up and... oops! He had just quit that forum in a huff.
So a few more years pass by and suddenly here he is in my Gmail box again. He's got another forum going, there's some good geek conversation going on there but he thinks I'd really enjoy it, he's the mod so he's got my back and he guarantees I won't have the same issues there as I've had in the past... come on in!
So I went in.
Well, it wasn't exactly scintillating conversation. The forum is ostensibly dedicated to some obscure boardgame I've never heard of and don't play. But they have a general chat forum where about a dozen geeks hang out and talk about comics and movies and sci fi in general (I deliberately use the term 'sci fi' in hopes of pissing off Harlan Ellison; I realize Mr. Ellison is unlikely to ever read anything I've written, but, still, we all have to have a dream) and, you know, that was okay.
Not great. But okay.
But what Jack did not tell me when he was assuring me he would have my back and I wouldn't have any of the problems I had had with crazed mods abusing their authority on other forums was... that, because he's trying to get more attention for this forum, so, I guess, someday it can be as popular as 4chan or some shit, he has imposed an absolute ban on all vulgarity.
So, we're all adults and we're all geeks and we're all free to say anything we want... but no fucks, no shits, no goddams, no bitches, no taking the name of our Savior Jesus H Fucking Christ in vain, please.
Because if that stuff shows up, the search engines classify the site as 'adult', and the hits drop off.
Well, fuck all that.
I am a profane motherfucker. I do not swear as much as I did, once, in fourth grade, when it was a necessary rite of passage, nor do I swear as much as I did, briefly, in Army Infantry Basic Training, where it is impossible to communicate without profanity.
But there are times when one simply cannot convey a thought or an idea or an emotion without certain vulgar, pungent anglo saxonisms.
Beyond that, I simply dislike it when people tell me what words I may, and may not, use to communicate. I have come to accept some verboten words -- such as 'nigger', specifically -- because late in my life, I have come to an understanding as to the enormous weight of malice and hatred and cruelty that that word carries, coming from a white man when spoken to, or even in the hearing of, a non white man. And I understand that refraining from using that word casually or, really, at all, unless one is specifically discussing the word itself, is a gesture of respect and acknowledgement on the part of the Caucasian race towards non Caucasians. And I even accept that the usage of that word, and the emotional freight that it carries, varies enormously when a non Caucasian uses it.
But, you know, that was a big one for me to swallow, because language is language and I hate it when ANYone tells me there are certain words I must not use, ever.
So, anyway. There's an automatic filter on this forum that takes forbidden words and changes them into other words. Such as, 'shit' becomes 'poop'. 'Bitch' become 'female dog'. And 'douche' becomes, for reasons I could not being to understand or articulate, 'female washing'.
Which, you know, greatly dilutes and even changes the meaning and impact of my words, when I write and post them.
So I complained bitterly about the autofilter to my friend Jack the mod who had begged me to come join this forum while promising me he would have my back, and was told, nope, sorry, the swear filter is non negotiable, because God forbid search engines classify this site, which is entirely for the usage of adults, as an adult site.
So I was dealing with the autofilter. I didn't like it, it aggravated the fucking shit out of me, but, still, I was dealing. It's not like the level of attention or stimulus I was receiving from the site in exchange for my incredibly fucking brilliant posts was, you know, anything extraordinary or, really, even more than nominal... I wasn't laughing my ass off or gasping at anyone else's sparkling wit or astonishing insights or anything.
But, still... dealing.
But then, my friend Jack posts something exceptionally dimwitted about how he would write Wonder Woman, if he were given the chance. (Something to do with 'she's the strongest woman in the world! And nobody seems to ever play that up! Well, I would play that up! Plus, I'd make Steve Trevor cool in a way no one else ever has that I haven't thought up yet!')
And we got into it a little bit because, well, I am a comics geek of some knowledge and I have given quite a bit of thought to Wonder Woman over the years and while there is a great deal about the basic Wonder Woman concept that is... troublesome... to say the least... one will not take that poor, emotionally crippled, twisted, psychologically stunted character concept and correct it by writing stories that play up the fact that she is "the strongest woman in the world!"
(Even if that was some kind of extraordinary characterization engine -- and it's not -- Wonder Woman is not "the strongest woman in the world!" That, in the DC Universe, would be either Supergirl or Power Girl. Or possibly Lois Lane or Lana Lang, if either of them have drunk a magic potion lately.)
So I waxed rhapsodic about how most successful characters and concepts had a central concept/characterization driver without which they do not function, and that the major problem with Wonder Woman is that she does not have anything such.
(Example: Spider-man makes Peter Parker miserable. Peter Parker could be perfectly happy if he could give up being Spider-man... he's constantly covered up in babes, he's a brilliant scientist, he's a gifted photographer, he has all kinds of influential friends and contacts. But Spider-man constantly fucks his life up. But he cannot give up being Spider-Man, because Spider-man is his eternal penance for Failing Uncle Ben. All good Spider-man stories are driven by this basic premise. Occasionally writers have forgotten this basic premise, as Stan Lee did when he had Parker marry Mary Jane Watson after revealing his secret identity to her. This was a mistake. Parker needs to be lonely and miserable because Spider-man always comes between him and those he loves. Otherwise, the Spider-man concept does not work. This is also why Spider-man should never join a superhero team or have close superhero friends. Spider-man is the source of Parker's misery.)
None of these wonderfully articulated and elaborately supported and frankly irrefutable points fazed Jack in the slightest. Instead of acquiescing to my superior knowledge and intellect and acknowledging me his master in this and every other possible area, he simply repeated -- "She has a concept! She's... THE STRONGEST WOMAN IN THE WORLD!!!!" He then advised that not every character or concept needs a defining theme or central characterization engine, and asked me to please describe Captain America's central character concept.
So, I spent about twenty minutes answering his question. (Short answer: Cap has no concept. But Cap was poorly written throughout the Golden Age and for much of the Silver Age because of this. Steve Englehart briefly gave Steve Rogers a concept when he had him stop being Captain America after he felt betrayed by his country. But then he had to take that concept away again, because sales demands dictated that Steve had to become Captain America again, even though, realistically, he never would have... the reality of America is something that Steve Rogers, decent man that he is, would never willingly represent. He should have stayed Nomad forever, and someone considerably more conservative and gung ho should have taken over the Captain America mantle. But the mighty dollar is god everywhere, and even Steve Rogers must bow his head before it; frankly, it was amazing that Marvel had ever let Englehart mess around with the central premise of the title as much as he did, for as long as he did.)
(Interestingly, modern Marvel messes around with the central premises of their various titles all the time. But modern comics aren't supposed to make money and, in fact, rarely do. They are regarded these days as mostly free advertising for multimillion dollar movie and TV tie ins.)
So I typed all this up at considerably greater length and with enormous wit and, yes, a few profanities, and when next I looked at the post, not only were there the usual comical autocorrects, but also, in places where the autofilter had apparently failed, my good buddy Jack had gone in and thoughtfully substituted lines of asterisks for words he felt were improper or would convey entirely the wrong impression as regards his forum to the world at large, or, at least, its search engines.
So I fucking quit.
Jack's not happy with me, but, you know, I yam what I yam and that's all whut I yam.
Plus, fuck it.