Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ellanjay are Wusses

Again, some of the links in my post may not be work-safe and I don't want anyone getting fired because they read my blog. So if you're at work, please wait until you get home to click the links.

Fred Clark has already written about how Ellanjay violate Kurt Vonnegut's Eight Rules for Writing* and he does, but I'm more interested in how Jenkins manages to violate his own rules for writing. I stumbled onto this little gem while doing an archive binge at Writers' Digest and I find myself shouting, "Physician heal thyself," until I'm hoarse. BTW, if you need to contract laryngitis for any reason, just read that article until you throw out your voice from all the screaming.

So like I said, Judd for some reason thinks that Mr. Stein has gone off the deep end because he wants to go to Africa and witness to those who haven't heard of Christ. I'm not sure why he thinks Mr. Stein has gone off the deep end--seeing visions and portentious dreams has been a regular part of Christianity for a while--but frankly, I think it's because Mr. Stein wants Judd to come with him and Judd's a wuss. That's my theory and I'm sticking with it until I'm offered proof otherwise.

But Mr. Stein does do something good: he makes Jamal promise to look after Lionel and Samuel while he's gone. And much as it pains me to admit it, Judd does demonstrate some small courage: he's not sure about the Africa trip so he prays to God that if it's his will, he'll go. Naturally the section ends with him and Mr. Stein getting fake passports and Hat Dude sneaks them to the airport.

In America, Vicki is getting ready for yet another Bible study even though most of the inhabitants of the school are already converts so is there really a reason for them to constantly rehash the same few verses over and over again? But Janie is missing and they're worried that she might be heading to sell them out to the GC. That's all that happens on the American side.

In Israel, Lionel and Samuel are skittish around Jamal, a nice little touch which actually makes sense: they after all have good reason to believe that Jamal's not that thrilled to have them in his house. 

Samuel still wants to set up a meeting with his daddy, something which seems pretty damn inexplicable when you take into account that Daddy arrested one of his friends and were it not for the fact that the GC are inexplicably sissies, he probably would have tortured a confession out of him. Don't get me wrong: it's nice to see an RTC concerned about someone who isn't a fellow RTC, but given the circumstances...

The section ends with Samuel taking them to a warehouse where some RTCs, who actually are a bit pro-active and probably a lot more interesting to read about than the Tribbles, are smuggling religious literature inside crates of GC literature.

Judd and Mr. Stein are at the airport trying to get a flight and I will credit Ellanjay with one thing here: they actually acknowledge Africa as a continent rather than a monolithic nation. When Mr. Stein asks the vendor for a ticket to Africa, the vendor, who is named Vivian, responds with "Uh, what city, you dumbass?" Again, one of my major pet peeves is when Africa is treated like a monolithic country when it's a continent with over fifty different countries. You wouldn't have a character talk of North America like it's a homogenous land consisting of stereotypes that bear a suspicious resemblance to Texans; you shouldn't do the same with Africa.

But Ellanjay loses what few points I was willing to give it when the vendor, in a futile attempt to get Mr. Stein to narrow things down a bit, asks about natural features, but it isn't until they run into a fellow believer named Mr. Isaacs that they get anywhere. Remember kids: only RTCs are remotely competent. Though my sympathies are still with the poor agent: how would you feel if someone came up to you and said "Hey I'd like to go to Africa," but couldn't or wouldn't tell you where in Africa he wanted to go? So yeah, more signs that Ellanjay don't believe in research and their cultural insensitivity is through the roof.

So apparently where God wants Mr. Stein to go is near the Northern Sahara between the 10 and 40 degrees latitude. Right now, apparently God wants them to go to Bamako aka the capital city of Mali. Meanwhile, I'm frantically searching Wikipedia in anticipation of their missionary trip just so I can see all the things they got horribly wrong. Because Ellanjay believe America is the greatest nation on earth so there's no point in learning about other nations, especially since all national stereotypes are true. But frankly, if we're to be truly honest, I think Ellanjay are going to wuss out. Something will happen and their heroes will be unable to go to Mali, thus sparing them having to research another land and culture. I base this on experience: it's been proven time and time again that Ellanjay will use any excuse they can to wuss out of the hard stuff involved in writing and writing about another culture is pretty hard sometimes.

*About Kurt Vonnegut: I still feel somewhat guilty in that even though I love, love his rules on writing and I laugh at most quotes attributed to him, I still haven't been able to make it through any of his novels. For some reason, everytime I try, it feels like he's holding me back from the action, standing in front of the screen and keeping me from getting close. I feel guilty because like I said, I do consider him wise and funny, but I just can't get into his works.


Firedrake said...

I'm faintly surprised that there's any mention of Africa at all - goodness knows that the vast majority of the witnessing in the mainstream series is squarely aimed at the important people in this world, white men.

That whole praying for guidance thing... the trick there is to work out whether the impression you got was really divine guidance or just you fooling yourself into believing what you want to. I'm told the Catholics have a bunch of tests for this, but I don't know the details. I find myself pretty unconvinced, anyway.

Mouse said...

I feel like celebrating that they chose an actual country and didn't just have their characters go to Africa City, Africa. That's how low my expectations have become.

aunursa said...

Vicki is getting ready for yet another Bible study even though most of the inhabitants of the school are already converts so is there really a reason for them to constantly rehash the same few verses over and over again?

Silly Mouse. Rehashing the same verses over and over again isn't for the benefit of the people in the school -- it's for the teenage readers.

Apocalypse Review said...

Wow. Jenkins has rules for writing?

Talk about chutzpah! There's only one rule for Jenkins: You shall crap out your book in the fastest time possible.

Oh, and in that book, one telephone call per chapter. Minimum.

I'm also kind of vaguely impressed that L&J + ghost author chose some actual locations within Africa beyond Egypt.

Also, Judd acting like the way RTCs claim they act (with humility and seeking Christ's guidance and all that) is also kind of refreshing, because for once he's acknowledging it's not all about him; if the boss dude he believes in says "go", then it's a go.

Mouse said...

That's true, Apocalypse Review. Between this chapter and the way he handled Nada in the last, Judd has been acting like a decent human for a change. Makes me wonder if there's been some kind of pod person invasion as one of the many disasters plaguing the world.