Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's Okay to Disobey Authority, so Long as it's Brown-skinned.

Well so far, at least at the beginning, there's still some of that good writing around. My theory: as the series wore on, Ellanjay, who always have about a dozen projects they're currently half-assing, decided to just let things be and didn't pay too much attention to the writing of LB: the kids. Though I still think roofies were involved somehow.

Anyway, the kids at the schoolhouse rock! Vicki and her fellow RTCs are actually demonstrating basic hospitality by taking care of Melinda. I know Ellanjay probably only see this as a means to a possible conversion, but kids, if you're reading this, this is what you should be doing as a means of demonstrating hospitality as opposed to being Assholes for Christ.

Not only is Vicki and the others trying to treat Melinda's frostbitten toes,but Vicki stays with her, giving her aspirin, and holding her when she moans, until her toes start to look a little better. It's really sad when I feel like throwing a Mardi Gras-style bacchanalia when the characters act like compassionate humans.

But there are signs that some of Ellanjay's "RTCs are good/everyone else is full of concentrated evil" philosophy seeping through. After taking care of Melinda, it's mentioned that the YTF start trying to clean up the place, fix the roof, and get the generator going again and naturally, only the RTCs are mentioned as doing this work, because the heathens (for those who don't know, the heathen count is at three, with Charlie, Janie, and Melinda still being unconverted) apparently don't care about getting warm again. But there are some decent signs: Janie is depicted as complaining about the food, but she does wolf it down when it's given to her, giving her a touch more humanity than she has demonstrated thus far. The section ends with Melinda, who's bundled herself up, asking "What's going to happen to us?" You'd think by now, Vicki would have given her the full rundown by now, but instead Vicki simply pats her shoulder and says, "We'll take care of you." Again, it's a nice, human touch somehow seeping in, in that Vicki is showing basic humanity.

In Israel, Moist and Ellie are ranting about leaders who don't do what they promised to do and how shit's going to happen as a result. :Yawn: MEGO Now, I'm longing for J. Michael Straczynski's awesome albeit short-lived series, Jeremiah. Now there was a good show and if you're wondering why I'm bringing it into the conversation, in season two, a character (played by Sean Astin), who refers to himself as Mister Smith and claims to have been chosen by God to be his prophet,  is introduced and I'm reminded every time I read any of Moist and Ellie's Tourette's-style ranting, just how badly Ellanjay fail at creating prophets. It's true that many of the Biblical prophets were earthy figures (Amos was a pruner of trees before being called to this line of work) and some were more educated (Isaiah advised kings which implies a little education), but all managed to convey a certain otherworldliness in their writings; you could believe that they were in touch with something bigger than themselves.

You get elements of that in Mister Smith. He is closer to an Amos-type prophet rather than an Isaiah, but he does, despite being an earthy, practical person, demonstrate an otherworldly knowledge that makes people sit up and take notice. Moist and Ellie just sound like they have a Schizophrenia; they are robots, parrotting what bits of holy writ they've heard over and over again, of which they know the words, but not the music. But to be fair, JMS does have more talent in his baby fingernail than Ellanjay do in their entire bodies, so I suppose this isn't too surprising.

In America, the YTF are freezing, running out of firewood, and they can't get the generator going. Melinda's still in considerable pain and that's all that happens in the brief check on the America-based YTF. I kind of wished that Ellanjay would realize that all this back-and-forth between Israel and America gives the readers whiplash and that he shouldn't switch locales between paragraphs and if he does, stuff should be happening. If all that's happening is both sides saying variations on, "Damn it's cold out," then why not do one chapter in Israel and the next in America, so as to make things a little easier on the reader?

Judd's in prison and freezing in his cell, but apparently isn't as affected as some of the other prisoners, though you'd think since they are in all likelihood, eeevil heathens, that all the hellfire inside would be keeping them warm, but apparently it doesn't work that way. There is an affecting moment when Judd realizes a man that had been lying still is in actuality, dead, but it isn't dwelled on too long because stuff like this might actually traumatize the kids who are hoping for the apocalypse so they can watch everyone burn. Emotional responses from the characters would ruin the fun.

Daddy Goldberg is massively pissed at Judd because he converted his son. Judd tries to chalk one up for Zod but it doesn't work and he's sent back to his cell, where he has a curious conversation with a grizzled, old man. Now the whole time, I was thinking, "Oh boy, is he going to have Judd 'pick up the soap'" given how he's introduced but like I've said many times, Judd is a mini-Rayford: of all the YTF, he's in the least amount of danger no matter what situation he's in.

Anyway the grizzled old pervert man (GOM) tells Judd, after making Judd give him his blanket, that they're releasing him and that he should check his coat. Judd is confused but realizes what the readers' have already figured out: the GC are releasing him with a tracking device in hopes of ferretting out other RTCs. He tries to convert GOM, but GOM doesn't take the bait. Later, GOM and him trade coats before Judd's released. He does get his wallet and ID back, but Judd for once demonstrates a few braincells by realizing, "Hey, these can be bugged as well," and throws them away. Me, I'm hoping that the GC were a few steps ahead and sewed a tracker into the lining of the coat, but I'm not going to bet the farm on that. Also, given that we can put tracking chips in animals and chances are the GC probably don't have any of the moral hangups that would prevent them from putting chips in people, why haven't they put them in their prisoners? That would be great: if Judd got back to Jamal's, only to realize he played right into the GC's hands and has doomed his friends. But again, not going to bet on it.

But as Judd heads back, the sun comes out and the earth is warm again  and Judd thinks this infuriating line which suggests to me that Ellanjay have regained consciousness:

A monitor inside the coffee shop showed a replay of the entire conversation between Nicholae and the witnesses. Commentators praised the work of the potentate. Judd smiled. He knew God had been looking out for him and other believers.
Except for all the RTCs who died during the freeze because they were homeless or weak or sick or just plain unlucky enough not to have the resources a rich American does, you prick!

[primal scream]

Anyway in the schoolhouse, Vicki and the others are celebrating the end of the freeze and making plans to consider resuming classes and worship. Vicki finds Janie standing by a river and they talk. Vicki is all "God did this and more's coming," but Janie remains convinced that the break in the freeze is Nicholae's doing.

In Israel, Judd waits around before returning to Jamal's, which is a smart move in case he's being followed, but I'm holding onto the faintest hope that he's been lowjacked. He runs into Lionel. They talk about Daddy Goldberg, but the conversation soon turns to Nada. Apparently Jamal cares about her and is keeping her locked up, But still Nada managed to disappear, leaving behind a note saying that she does have feelings for Judd and wants to meet up with him so they can talk. Needless to say, Judd is not pleased by this and neither is Jamal, who throws him and Lionel out, saying that they've caused enough trouble for his family. Frankly, I'm still shocked that Ellanjay are actually letting their teen protags disobey an adult RTC. Isn't RTC-ianity huge on obedience to all RTCs in authority regardless of how incompetent, corrupt, or evil they may be? But then again, judging by their names, which are all scary and ethnic, and the fact that Nada has been mentioned as having an Arabic accent, it may be that before becoming good RTCs, they were islamo-commie-fascists muslims* and since Muslim and Arab are interchangeable because it's not like one's a racial distinction and the other's a religious distinction, maybe the message is "Obey all RTC Authority figures so long as they're white and not a scary shade of brown.

*I've also flirted with the idea that Jamal's family were Palestinian Christians because it's not enough to be Christian in Ellanjayland, you have to be of a specific subculture, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Ellanjay assume that all Palestinians are Muslim, much in the way too many idiots assume Arab=Muslim.

**If you're wondering about all the links and videos, I'm trying to liven up what I'm sure is a dull job, reading my posts, since nothing happens in these books as said many times before.


Firedrake said...

"What's going to happen to you? Well, you're going to die - if not today, definitely within the next few years, along with everyone else in the world. Then it's either eternal torture or eternal life as a Jesusbot.

"Yeah. Kinda puts the whole toes thing into perspective."

I thought RTCism in this system was a strictly two-tier scheme - convert before the rapture, or not - but clearly it's still Terribly Important to know who's in charge of whom.

Apocalypse Review said...

Vicki and Judd showing intelligence and compassion!

I may faint of shock yet.

It's interesting how inadvertently the writing is, the non-RTC characters show more initiative and creativity than the RTCs.

aunursa said...

In Israel, Moist and Ellie are ranting about leaders who don't do what they promised to do and how shit's going to happen as a result


Moist and Ellie just sound like they have a Schizophrenia; they are robots, parrotting what bits of holy writ they've heard over and over again

L&J are afraid of putting words into the mouths of Biblical prophets.

"[M]ost of the words [that Jesus speaks in Book #12] are direct quotations from the Bible. For all their success in imagining the world's apocalyptic end, the authors say they still prefer to let Jesus speak for himself."

aunursa said...

I thought RTCism in this system was a strictly two-tier scheme - convert before the rapture, or not - but clearly it's still Terribly Important to know who's in charge of whom.

It depends on the particular RTC. Some Christian leaders have criticized Left Behind because those leaders believe that no post-Rapture conversions will be possible or accepted by God. According to them, those people who are left behind will be out of luck.

Firedrake said...

aunursa - ain't it handy that the Authorized Version is out of copyright? :-)

(and yes, I know that LB is heretical even by the standards of premillennial dispensationalists which is kind of worrying really...)

aunursa said...

From the Glorious Appearing copyright page...

Scripture quotations are taken or adapted from the New King James Version.® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked KJV are taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version.

Characters in this novel sometimes speak words that are adapted from various versions of the Bible, including the King James Version and the New King James Version.®

Firedrake said...

Ah. Anyone who changes the King James is bad and evil and naughty, but we haven't changed it, we've improved it! So that's all right then.

Apocalypse Review said...

What, L&J couldn't even be bothered to nick off the Revised Standard Version, which is copyright 1952 and has likely fallen out of copyright since then?

Firedrake said...

AR: Heretic!

Slightly more seriously, I understand that the NKJV attempts to retain the meaning of the original while modernising the language - which is exactly the opposite of what I'd want, a modern translation based on something better than the dodgy Latin that still kept the beautiful poetic language.

Mouse said...

Okay I might be willing to allow Ellanjay to cheat and just copy and paste from the Bible in order to put words in the mouths of their prophets if they gave some indication that the prophets actually understood what they were saying, but they don't seem to. They know the words but not the music, as said before.

Now Taylor, he was probably a better prophet than Moist or Ellie. He knew how to call out the GC on the bullshit: remember his little speech that began with him talking about how they preach peace but are armed to the teeth?

But Taylor is sadly mouldering in his grave so we have to endure Moist and Ellie. :sigh:

Rhoadan said...

All that time I spent watching School House Rock as a kid and I never realized it had a theme song. Huh.

Y'know, Melinda has an excuse for not helping out. Frostbite kinda interferes with doing stuff after all. But why aren't the other non-RTCs doing their share. Their survival's on the line too.

Mouse said...

I think it's supposed to be proof that they're hardened and eevil, Rhoadan, though it really doesn't make sense: apparently non-RTCs enjoy freezing to death?