So I'm here now. Sorry again for the lateness, but take some consolation in that maybe after all this exposure to good art and how I'm now facing some bad art...maybe it's like starving a junkyard dog, how after a while it attacks everything that moves. Maybe my snark this week will be extra vicious.
So let's get to it. Keep trying to figure out which pop culture reference I should use as a launch point? I couldn't decide so I'll post both. All right. It's Saturday night, I have no date, a two-liter bottle of Shasta and my all-Rush mix-tape... Let's rock. or for those soulless abominations who hate animated entertainment, I'll reference the classic Blues Brothers bit:
Elwood: It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark... and we're wearing sunglasses.
Jake: Hit it.
Again, choose your own pop culture launching point for this week.
Anyway, like I said last week, this chapter contains massive amounts of "Strawman Always Has A Point," though I suppose I should say, "Satan Always Has A Point." Yeah, Nicky's speech is pretty cartoonish, so much so that I totally picture him being voiced by Chris Latta. Ah, Chris Latta, he may be the one actor who could portray Nicky as his writers intended. Too bad he's dead.
But the actual content of said speech...it actually demonstrates some subversive elements, if you get past all the "Bwaah! Bwaah! I am evil!" villain talk. It's a more cartoonish version of Philip Pullman's thesis in His Dark Materials. In the last book in the series, the characters kill God, who is basically a spent, senile old man. I felt Pullman's books were entirely too heavy-handed, especially towards the end, but he makes some of the same points as Nicky. According to the characters of his books, God was the first thing created out of the Dust (an elemental force that binds everything in the Dark Materials-verse)and proceeded to tell everyone that He was God and Created Everything.
I'm probably reading entirely too much into this stuff, but every time I stumble onto anything in this series with any subversive element, I gnaw endlessly on it, like a starving dog with a bone. I'll assume the ghostwriter did most of the writing for this chapter. Though you know Tim LaHaye would get the vapors if he found out that someone compared his books to Philip Pullman's.
Anyway, maybe the ghostwriter thought we were all tired and shagged out after the exciting action of the previous chapter, because all that happens in this chapter is the YTF and Chang and probably some other tribbles I'm too lazy to care about, watch Nicky's speech and bravely make snide remarks from the safe confines of Petra.
Leon Fortunado introduces Nicky and if we're continuing the GC is Cobra thing I mentioned earlier, yes, I totally picture Leon as Destro. Except a guy as fabulous as Leon wouldn't be content with just wearing Destro's usual style: Leon would totally go for the gold-headed pimp Destro model.
:sighs: I know this kind of complaint is the proverbial "Going to a porno and spending all your time complaining about the characters' taste in wallpaper" kind of complaint, but is it weird that the biggest problem I have with Destro wearing a metal bucket on his head, is how exactly does it have little cut-outs for his eyebrows? How does that even work?
Okay, I'll stop being nostalgic for shitty eighties' cartoons and get back to tearing the For Kids! version of Left Behind a new one.
Anyway, the YTF are all chilled by Nicky's pledge to eliminate those who oppose peace within a year. Yeah...again, we run into that old meme with Ellanjay: "Peace is Evil, so everyone who wants it, is evil!" Even though I imagine if you were to ask the spirit of General Patton and the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., they'd probably both agree that peace is, y'know, a good thing. They'd just have different ideas as to how to go about achieving it but they'd still agree that it's good.
But Ellanjay...it's like Fred's footnote for his post Pistol-Packing Pacifist says:
We looked at this anti-peacemaker attitude in an earlier post, where I wrote of people like LaHaye that: “They’ve gotten so caught up in guarding against wolves in sheep’s clothing that anything in sheep’s clothing is viewed as the enemy. So all sheep must be shot on sight.” That probably understates the problem. LaHaye doesn’t believe there’s really any such thing as sheep, just a wooly fifth column of wolves.
Okay, I suppose the bit about peace could have been chilling if we got the "Nicky plans to crush all who dissent against him" vibe, but given that's essentially TurboJesus's plan...yeah, I really don't need to go any further, do I? I'm just going to post a quote from Jeremiah and get back to work. Because it's a good quote and you'll probably get where I'm going with it.
Theo: I'd rather follow the man who has the power and doesn't use it, has the ideas, who thinks that they're better than he is than the man who likes power too much and will do anything to get it. The man who thinks that he is bigger than the ideas.
Seriously, go watch this series! I have half a mind to start kidnapping people, tying them up, and making them watch it from beginning to end.
Anyway, like I said last week, according to the error message, I've reached the Publishers' limit on copying and pasting, so I'm being forced to go to creative lengths in order to quote from this book. I'm fairly certain my usage of this book falls under the Fair Use part of copyright law, but I'm not entirely sure what to do about the error message. Somebody who's computer savvy want to help me out?
I will freely admit that I do encourage everyone to pirate the living hell out of this series. Most of the time, I am damn opposed to pirating books (because only the RIAA deserves to be scammed out of cash, because seriously, fuck the RIAA.), but in Ellanjay's case, I say go nuts. Anything to keep them from making more money off of this crap, because even the Fifty Shades of Grey or the Twilight series are better reads.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Carpathia said, “the time has come for me to take you into my confidence. We must all be on the same page in order to win the ultimate battle. Look into my eyes and listen, because what you hear today is truth and you will have no trouble believing every word of it. I am eternal. I am from everlasting to everlasting. I was there at the beginning, and I will remain through eternity future.”
Nicolae stood and began to slowly circle the table.
“It’s as if they’re in a trance,” Vicki said. “Like they’re scared to even look at him.”
“Here is the problem,” Carpathia continued. “The one who calls himself God is not God. I will concede that he preceded me. When I evolved out of the primordial ooze and water, he was already there. But plainly, he had come about in the same manner I did. Simply because he preceded me, he wanted me to think he created me and all the other beings like him in the vast heavens. I knew better. Many of us did.”
So in other words, Nicky is finally doing what we Slacktivites have been suggesting all along: marshalling up his citizens/subjects by saying, "God did all this; therefore he's evil and must be opposed!"
In fact, even with all the cartoonish villain blather, gotta admit that Nicky really has the RTCs' number, so much so that I wonder how the ghostwriter managed to slip this one by. I suppose said brave ghostwriter was helped by the fact that Ellanjay believe that only amateurs reread and edit their works, but still.
Carpathia talked as if he were explaining a math problem to a group of second graders. “He tried to tell us we were created as ministering servants. We had a job to do. He said he had created humans in his own image and that we were to serve them. Had I been there first, I could have told him that I had created him and that it was he who would serve me by ministering to my other creations.
“But he did not create anything! We, all of us—you, me, the other heavenly hosts, men and women—all came from that same primordial soup. But no! Not according to him! He was there with another evolved being like myself, and he claimed that one as his favored son. He was the special one, the chosen one, the only begotten one.
“I knew from the beginning it was a lie and that I—all of us—was being used. I was a bright and shining angel. I had ambition. I had ideas. But that was threatening to the older one. He called himself the creator God, the originator of life. He took the favored position. He demanded that the whole earth worship and obey him. I had the audacity to ask why. Why not me?”
Of course, Judd gives the witty rejoinder, "Because you're the father of all lies," but again, I continue to be on Team Nicky. Because where exactly would Nicky have gotten these ideas if GOD HIMSELF HADN'T PLANTED THEM IN HIS HEAD! GOD GAVE HIM THESE IDEAS AND TURNED HIM INTO SATAN AND WILL PUNISH HIM FOR BASICALLY BEING SATAN BECAUSE HE'S A CRUEL FUCK THAT WAY!
Or the way I see it, in this scenario, God was the negligent parent who spilled huge amounts of pills all over the damn floor, even though he lived in a house with small children. Then when said small child swallowed a handful and became very sick, GOD BASICALLY BEAT THE EVER-LOVING SHIT OUT OF THE KID FOR BEING STUPID ENOUGH TO SWALLOW SAID PILLS AND GET SICK!
Though wait, that isn't entirely accurate. As bad as most abusive parents are, at least, there are limits to what they can do to a kid. No matter what you feel about torture or abuse (I really hope my readers are opposed to it), there's a natural endpoint in that you can't hurt them anymore after they've died. BUT GIVEN THAT ELLANJAY BELIEVE IN HELL AND THAT IT'S FOREVER AS IN WITHOUT END!
Y'know what, before I go any further, I'm going to post some good writing as a palate cleanser. And yes, I am quoting from Sandman Vol. 4 again, because Neil Gaiman has more talent in an eyelash than Ellanjay do in their entire bodies. Note how Neil Gaiman handles stuff like the Fall, as Lucifer talks to Dream:
LUCIFER: I'm tired, Morpheus. So tired. You knew me, Dream. You knew me when I was an angel. What was I like?
MORPHEUS: You were very proud, Samael. But you were also very beautiful, and wise -- and passionate.
LUCIFER: Was I? Yes... yes, I was. I cared about so many things. I cared so deeply, back then, in the cold at the beginning of things. In the Silver City. I suppose that was why everything began to go wrong. You know... I still wonder how much of it was planned. How much of it He knew in advance.
I thought I was rebellng. I thought I was defying his rule. No... I was merely fulfilling another tiny segment of his great and powerful plan. If I had not rebelled, another would have, in my stead. Raguel, perhaps. Or Sandalphon.
We fell, my comrades in arms and I. We fell so far... so long... And after an eternity of falling, we came to rest in this place. And I knew then that there was no way that I would ever return to paradise.
Nicky starts talking about the whole rebellion he lead against God and about how a third of angels fought with him. Uh, yeah, someone want to tell Ellanjay that the whole shtick about Lucifer rebelling and being cast to Hell is basically Biblical fanfiction created by a guy taking a handful of verses and using them as jumping off point for his ideas? Though I can imagine why Ellanjay wouldn't want to reflect too long on that last part.
He rehashes Genesis talking about how he tempted Eve into eating the fruit and Cain into killing Abel. I admit that this part of the speech is mostly "Bwaah! Bwaah! I am evil!" blather, but again...Satan continues to have a point. It's nice that Ellanjay acknowledge that even the bad guys see themselves as the hero of their story, even if they horribly botch it because they're unwilling to take this line of thinking too far. But again, their subculture really doesn't have much respect for inquiry.
Then there's this bit:
Before you know it, I am proving beyond doubt that these creatures are not really products of the older angel’s creativity. Within a few generations I have them so confused, so selfish, so full of themselves that the old man no longer wants to claim they were made in his image.
“They get drunk; they fight; they blaspheme. They are stubborn; they are unfaithful. They kill each other. The only ones I cannot get through to are Noah and his kin. Of course, the great creator decides the rest of history depends on them and wipes out everyone else with a flood. I eventually got to Noah, but he had already started repopulating the earth.
I find the bit about Noah to be very interesting, especially where it mentions that eventually Satan got to Noah. It makes me wonder if someone clued in Ellanjay that their RTC forefathers used Genesis 9:20-27 as basically a Biblical cudgel to justify slavery. Later when they couldn't justify slavery with it, the bigots held onto it, using it in order to justify Jim Crow laws.
I suppose if I pointed this out to Ellanjay, they would be appalled, saying that they totally would have supported Martin Luther King, Jr. and how dare you say otherwise! Yeah I've got another webcomic for them.
Because we all know that they're going to do the same with Gay Rights as they did with the Civil Rights: deny, deny, deny until said views start costing them bodies in the pew (or in other words, money) after which they'll reverse themselves and pretend like they were totally on the right side of history all along. Sad part is because their subculture sucks at history, said strategy will work.
The next part I highly suspect was put in to bolster their "The Other Guys are the Real Anti-Semites, not us!" defense. Because Satan wants to exterminate the Jews, but Ellanjay just want them to surrender their cultural identities, give up everything that makes them a separate people, and convert or die and burn in Hell forever, which is totally different.
“Yes, I will admit it. The father and the son have been formidable foes over the generations. They have their favorites—the Jews, of all people. The Jews are the apples of the elder’s eye, but therein lies his weakness. He has such a soft spot for them that they will be his undoing.
“My forces and I almost had them wiped out not so many generations ago, but father and son intervened, gave them back their own land, and foiled us again. Fate has toyed with us many times, my friends, but in the end we shall prevail.
Nicky does the bit that aunursa had mentioned in a previous post where Nicky basically bwaahs! about how he's going to win by following God's plan to the letter even though said plan ends in his defeat. I fast-forward through it to quote this part.
“Let them turn the lights off in the great city that I loved so much! Ah, how beautiful it was when it was the center for commerce and government, and the great ships and planes brought in goods from all over the globe. So it is dark now. And so what if it is eventually destroyed? I will build it back up, because I am more powerful than father and son combined.
“Let them shake the earth until it is level and drop hundred-pound chunks of ice from the skies. I will win in the end because I have read their battle plan. The old man plans to send the son to set up the kingdom he predicted more than three hundred times in his book, and he even tells where he will land! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a surprise waiting for him!"
I'll admit it's still heavy on the cartoonish villain talk, enough that I continue to see Nicky as Cobra Commander, but in spite of this, bits of it are oddly inspiring.
Because the core is Nicky basically saying, "We're going to stand up, fight the Eldritch Horrors trying to wipe us out, and win!" and as Fred Clark points out, heroes are generally opposed to the destruction of the world. It's kind of part of the job description: heroes value life and will do whatever they can to save whoever they can. Villains believe that the ends justify the means.
Or in other words, think of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron where Ultron is all "Okay you can stop me from destroying the world or save a city full of millions of innocent civilians." And in true hero fashion, the collective response of The Avengers is "STFU! We're doing both!" and they proceed to do so. The Avengers could have easily decided, in realpolitik fashion, that the billions of lives that would be lost if Ultron won, far outweighed a city full of civilians, but they double-downed and bent over backwards to prove that Ultron was wrong about humans.
[TANGENT] I find myself wondering if Avengers 2 didn't exist as one giant Take That against that movie I hate so very much. Instead of a movie that's dour and dreary and steadfastly refuses to admit that there is anything awe-inspiring or cool about seeing a man fly, Avengers 2 gave us bright colors, a rousing score, and heroes who actually do care about life instead of just paying lip service to the whole "Heroes value human life" trope. [/TANGENT]
Or if you're tired of me fangirling the MCU, I'll use Fred Clark's words on the subject. Yeah, I already linked to said post, but I totally felt it deserved to be in the body of the snark.
One thing it might suggest is that Nicolae Carpathia doesn’t know that he’s the Antichrist. He doesn’t seem to realize that history is in its final throes, with the last curtain closing in less than six years from this point in the story.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to work with the rest of what we’ve been told or shown about Nicolae. I’ve wished it were true, because I think his character — and the entire story — would be a lot more interesting if he had no idea that he was the Antichrist, and no idea of all the “Bible prophecies” and End Times check list events he was required/predetermined to fulfill. But the authors have never given us any other motive or explanation for Nicolae’s behavior. His agenda — from the construction of New Babylon to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem — is just too weird and arbitrary to be explained by anything other than his working from the same prophecy check list that’s pinned up on the wall of Bruce Barnes’ study.
So he’s gotta know he’s the Antichrist, and he surely knows the final countdown of the seven-year Tribulation is under way.
But maybe he really thinks he can win. Maybe he imagines that he’ll be able to change the predetermined outcome at Armageddon, preventing the End of the World and thereby continuing his reign as global dictator for the rest of his natural life. In that case, it might make sense for him to want children — to raise an heir who could inherit his throne. Maybe Nicolae really thinks he has a chance of keeping history and the world going longer than just the next five and a half years, long enough to see his child graduate from school, maybe get married some day and make him not just a father but a grandfather. …
But that scenario – the Antichrist-who-thinks-he-can-win-Armageddon possibility — raises another huge problem. It turns the whole story upside-down. It gives us a story in which powerful forces are at work trying to bring about the end of the world, while one man rises up to oppose them — fighting to save the world and to prevent the slaughter of billions of people. If that’s the story, then there’s no way that guy isn’t the hero of the story — even if that guy is also the Antichrist.
Fighting to save the world makes you the hero. That’s how that always works.
Anyway, because I am a massive MCU fangirl and I especially fangirl Captain America, I'm going to blather on some more about my love for said series and yes, I will provide a clip for your perusal.
Because I find myself thinking of the conversation between Erskine and Steve. Erskine basically says that he chose Steve because he felt that a weak man would know the value of strength and be less likely to abuse it. Fair enough, but I wonder if Erskine considered the possibility that a weak man who is given power, may very well decide to use it to abuse others. It seems a sadly oft-repeated theme in history: somebody on the bottom gets pushed around and picked on by those higher up, until somehow positions change and now the weak man is the one with the power. But the problem is that the weak man has internalized the "Might makes Right" attitude of those who used to bully him, so said weak man proceeds to become as bad as those who used to pick on him, using his power to push around those lower than him.
Of course, we all know Steve, by virtue of being awesome, didn't internalize the bully's mindset and become a bully himself, but still. Though I know Ellanjay are aware of the whole internalizing mindset. Because it just keeps showing up on the Right: "If we give the black folk/the gays/whatever group serves as their bogeyman, the rights due to them as Americans, they will immediately oppress and enslave us!" Granted, they use other words to express this idea, but the general meaning remains the same. They think Rights work like Pie in that in order to give someone a bigger slice, you must take away from someone else's slice. But Rights don't work like Pie. Giving more people more rights just leads to more rights for everyone. Rights multiply.
Anyway, there's some boring blather about weapons and then we get to the part where Lionel warns us to have strong stomachs.
If you're wondering which part of the Bible they're taking out of consequence, it's Revelation 16:13-14. For those of you too lazy to read the whole thing in the link, here's the verses in question:
Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
So okay, we should expect to see demon-frog people. But, y'know, they're going to botch it. I remember one time when they had something in there about a river from a dragon's mouth being sent to kill God's people. I kind of knew they would interpret the part about the dragon as being about Nicky, rather than an actual mother-effing dragon, and they did, but I wondered how they would interpret the part about "the river from the dragon's mouth." I thought it would involve Nicky trying to kill everyone with his drool, which would be so stupid it crosses the line and becomes awesome, but instead, it involved an army of soldiers. Because Ellanjay support a straightforward interpretation of scripture.
Anyway the demon-frog people appear and Nicky says this:
“Please meet Ashtaroth, Baal, and Cankerworm. They are the most convincing and persuasive spirits it has ever been my pleasure to know. I am going to ask now that we, all of us, gather round them and lay hands on them, commissioning them for this momentous task.”
Not bad, but that seen could have been so much more metal than it was. You find yourself wishing that Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath was here: at least they'd give us an awesome album cover that would capture all the ridiculous awesomeness.
With the potentates and the others touching the three, Nicolae said, “And now go, you three, to the ends of the earth to gather them to the final conflict in Jerusalem, where we shall once and for all destroy the father and his so-called Messiah. Persuade everyone everywhere that the victory is ours, that we are right, and that together we can destroy the son before he takes over this world. Once he is gone, we will be the undisputed, unopposed leaders of the world.
“I confer upon you the power to perform signs and heal the sick and raise the dead, if need be, to convince the world that victory is ours. And now go in power."
If what I'd shown you thus far, hasn't turned you into a drooling Nicky fanboy or fangirl, the above should be enough. Because again, saving the world, along with healing the sick and resurrecting the dead, tends to be the kind of stuff that heroes do. So I want everyone to join me in saying, "Hail Satan!"
Anyway, that's it. This post was getting so damn long I was worried I'd have to halve it or something, but it's done. It'll have to tide you over for a bit; this weekend I'll be visiting relatives because of Christmas and whatnot, so I won't be able to dish out high-quality snark. You'll just have to hold on a bit longer.