Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Bad Cop's not out of Control and the Good Cop isn't Your Friend

Hello and happy Sunday!

Okay, should probably warn all my readers: I found myself, as I was writing this week's snark, delving it some pretty serious information. Don't know if I should provide trigger warnings or how to go about doing so, but felt I should give a heads up. If any of my readers have psychological issues, there's some stuff in here talking about abuse. If it's too much to handle, you may bow out with my blessing. As someone who struggles with mental illness, I understand how seemingly innocuous stuff can hit way too close to home emotionally. That said, on with the snark.

Last week, Mark became an ex-Believer. I'd assumed in true Ellanjay fashion that we'd get a one paragraph mention about how the tribbles are real sad about his death, then move onto the next plot point, but they actually do linger a little and allow the tribbles to mourn Mark's death. This makes me wonder if I should reevaluate Mark's standing in the RTC hierarchy. Because we all know in the great hierarchy that Rayford and Buck are above everyone including God (I seriously think the only reason there isn't a scene where TurboJesus or Zod sobs and talks about how they wish they could be as manly and awesome as Rayford or Buck, is because Ellanjay were too chicken to have them say anything but Bible quotes) and of course, men outrank women, and manly Americans outrank those foreign foreigners. Oh and those with a higher melanin count are automatically outranked by those with a lower count.

Obviously the YTF are somewhat lower on the hierarchy by virtue of age, even though they're no longer, y'know, kids. Judd is probably at the top of the YTF hierarchy even though I'm fairly certain Vicki's racked up more converts and done most of the heavy lifting involved in getting everybody together. But Vicki is a girl with girl parts, who only has the status she does because she's married to Judd.

I'll assume that Lionel, by virtue of being Black and because he disappears for chapters at a time and no one cares, is on the lower end of the hierarchy, enough that I wonder if he even still qualifies as a Main Character or if he's just a member of the Minor Character Cloud (MCC). Though the concept of the MCC actually would explain a lot about Lionel's existence. Gotta feel sorry for the inhabitants of the MCC: nothing for them to do except just float around and read Jack Chick tracts until the plot summons them to appear in solid form.

Sorry for all my rambling. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is I'm wondering whether Mark managed to achieve Main Character status in death, or if he's just a higher-ranked member of the MCC.

All right, I'll get to the damn chapter.

Right at the starting gate, Ellanjay demonstrate their trademark preference for telling rather than showing the readers what's going on.

FOR THE next several days Judd moved around Petra in a fog. He kept replaying first meeting Mark and John at Nicolae High and all the things they had been through. Though Vicki talked openly about Mark’s death, Judd found it difficult. He knew that frustrated Vicki, but it was taking him longer to accept the truth. Mark was gone.

Again this is some interesting stuff that would actually reveal more about Judd's character IF THEY COULD BE ARSED TO ACTUALLY SHOW RATHER THAN TELL!

Of course, what's really irritating isn't so much Ellanjay's kneejerk insistence on always telling, but that when they do choose to show, it's unimportant stuff like travel logistics and phone calls. Someone want to tell them that not everyone is as turned on by dial tones and Travelocity itineraries as they are?

Though that bit about him replaying meeting Mark at Nicolae High...were it not for the fact I'm lazy as hell, I'd go back to the previous books and try to do a timeline, figuring out how much interaction Judd and Mark have had since Ellanjay finally, thankfully, dropped the high school stuff like a hot potato and moved on. Because why would the YTF spend so much time dicking around with high school hijinks like a "subversive" newspaper given that THEY KNEW THE WORLD WOULD END IN SIX YEARS AND THERE'S NO DAMN POINT IN GETTING AN EDUCATION SO YOU CAN GO TO A GOOD COLLEGE AND FROM THERE, GET A GOOD JOB!

But like I said, I'm lazy. If any insanely devoted fans want to take on this project, along with my suggested Butt Monkey Project, feel free, but I've got too much brain space devoted to this series as is.

Judd walks around being all mopey. He goes to the highest point of Petra from there, we segue into what takes up the bulk of this chapter: Token Jew preaching.

Supposedly thanks to Chang Wong's hacking skills (because Ellanjay, like the writers of CSI: Cyber, believe that hacking=fucking magic) this message is being broadcast all over the world.

As you probably guessed, it's a shitty-assed terrible sermon. Increasingly I wonder how well Tim LaHaye does as a preacher. Because you'd think a preacher, aka a guy who writes and delivers sermons every week, would be able to craft a semi-compelling sermon, but Token Jew's is freaking terrible! In fact, I actually liked the beginning where Judd just summarizes what Token Jew said rather than actually show us. Yeah, it's lazy writing but as much as I complain about how Ellanjay violate the "Show don't Tell" commandment of writing, you start to welcome the telling; it's easier to get through even if it is impossible to snark.

When Judd arrived at the massive gathering, Tsion was already well into his message. He explained that the truth of God’s Word was confirmed by the judgments and plagues. From the disappearances to the hail and fire, the burning mountain that fell into the sea, to the demonic locusts—all these and more were proof that God’s Word was true.

I suppose I could rant about all the disasters left out, like the massive worldwide earthquakes and the many, many times the water turned to blood and became undrinkable, killing all flora and fauna, as well as those too poor to stockpile bottled water, but I think it's more important to focus on the last line. Because y'see, it's not really so much whether God's Word is true that unbelievers in this universe are hung up on; it's more the nature of said God. Probably the destruction of Russia's nuclear payload over Israel (aka the event that took place before the Rapture that no one, RTC or otherwise, seemed to notice or care about) would probably be enough to make Richard Dawkins pause and do some soul-searching, but the rest...

Again, Ellanjay keep struggling, trying to meld two incompatible images of God, the pissed-off, mad as hell and not going to take it anymore! God as depicted in Jonathan Edwards "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" sermon, with the God more commonly depicted in both popular culture and scripture as being so unwilling to let any sinner perish, that He'll risk everything to find and bring back that one lost sheep.

But like I said, these ideas are incompatible. You can't proclaim that God loves his people when God is doing his damndest to exterminate every last one of them! To borrow from Linkara, IT JUST DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY! Like John, in his letter to the church of Laodicea, you wish they would pick a damn side and play! Because as horrible as the Jonathan Edwards "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" approach is, at least it's a helluva lot more coherent! Trying to bring together two incompatible ideas just muddles the story even more!

Of course, a large reason for the muddiness of said message is that Ellanjay probably believe more in the Jonathan Edwards approach than they do the "God so loved the world" approach, but they know popular culture as a whole leans more towards the "God so loved the world" approach that they feel they must pay lip service to the idea. So in other words, they're trying to have their cake and eat it too. Again for all the faults of Jonathan Edwards's sermon, at least he was honestly willing to take a stand and didn't try to weasel out of the implications of his words.

Damn...this rant wound up being wordier than I thought. For those going "tl;dr", it's not really so much the existence of God people in the LB-verse question; it's the nature of said God and whether this God is deserving of being worshipped. Yeah, fighting the urge to bring up the Abused Spouse or Child metaphor. I know I've made the point so many times, but it's just so damn apt that there's really nothing else I can use.

Anyway, we finally do get some of Token Jew's words, not just the summary:

“… Two more judgments await before the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ,” Tsion was saying to the people and a nearby camera. “Hear me! The Euphrates River will become as dry land! Scoff today but be amazed when it happens, and remember it was foretold. The last judgment will be an earthquake that levels the entire globe. This judgment will bring hail so huge it will kill millions.

As I recall, haven't we already gone through not one, but TWO worldwide earthquakes? Also, yeah, I'm fairly certain we've also gone through freakish hail storms as well. So yeah, YOU FAIL FOREVER, TOKEN JEW!

“I am asked every day, how can people see all these things and still choose Antichrist over Christ? It is the puzzle of the ages. For many of you, it is already too late to change your mind. You may now see that you have chosen the wrong side in this war. But if you pledged your allegiance to the enemy of God by taking his mark of loyalty, it is too late for you.

Yeah, I too wonder why, when given a choice between an eldritch horror using his supernatural powers to kill everyone so he can burninate them forever and a guy who is trying his damndest to keep the infrastructure maintained, thus saving lives, as well as using his supernatural powers to save people, people for some reason side against the eldritch horror. It's a real mystery. :eyeroll:

Okay, I know supposedly that story your mom told you about how if you make that face for too long, it'll freeze, isn't true, but is it possible that if you roll your eyes too much, eventually they'll stay forever rolled into the back of your head, or if you continually express sarcasm, eventually that will be the only emotion you're capable of demonstrating? Inquiring minds need to know. I'm enough of an isolated weirdo as is! Don't need to add to my list of social difficulties.

Though to be fair to Lovecraft, I probably shouldn't keep referring to Zod as an eldritch horror. Lovecraft may have been super racist, so much so that you suspect the only reason he didn't join the KKK, was that it would require more interaction than an isolated weirdo such as himself would enjoy, but again, like Edwards, he was at least consistent. He didn't say that his mind-melting, world-destroying horrors did all this because they secretly loved humanity!

Oh and Ellanjay...it's like they've read my blog, because they do not try to dispute all my Abused Spouse or Child logic, like at all. Just look at this next line.

“If you have not taken the mark yet, it may still be too late, because you waited so long. You pushed the patience of God past the breaking point.

Some basic rules that Ellanjay apparently need explained to them: In a Good Cop/Bad Cop routine, the Bad Cop isn't really out of control and the Good Cop isn't really your friend.

Also, to continue the Abused Spouse metaphor, as many who deal with people trying to escape from an Abusive Spouse/lover will tell you, no matter how much the Abuser may say otherwise they're not out of control; they know exactly what they're doing. There are numerous anecdotes that testify to this, talking about how said Abuser will magically calm down as soon as the police show up; soon as the cops start sniffing around, they start talking about how it's all a misunderstanding and yeah, they'd gotten into an argument, but it's over now, knowing damn well that their victim (who will have the bedraggled look of someone who's just been through a war, while the Abuser looks calm and clean-cut) won't dare say a damn thing while their abuser is in the room with them.

I know the plural of anecdote isn't data, but sometimes anecdotes really illustrate the point more than emotionless statistics. Like how an abused wife eventually realized that her husband wasn't out of control after a conversation with a friend. Said abusive a-hole husband had a habit of getting enraged then smashing the shit out of stuff; as you probably guessed, afterwards, Abusive A-hole would calm down and apologize and replace what he'd broken.

Said friend asked, "Okay, when he gets pissed off, whose stuff does he break?" and in doing so, pointed out that Abusive A-hole wasn't out of control, because whenever he got into rages, he didn't smash stuff willy-nilly; it was always his wife's stuff that he destroyed, never any of his own stuff.

Whoa...I didn't mean to get so deep and dark this week. Sorry if this is triggering for anyone. If y'all need to bow out, I understand and apologize. In fact, in order to soften the emotional blow and because I'm all about fangirling the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), I'm going to provide a clip.

Because the MCU, unlike Ellanjay and that one movie that drives me into so many frothing rants I'm in danger of alienating everyone in my life, understand that the fundamental difference between the hero and the bad guy isn't that the Hero wins because his gun is bigger and better than the Bad Guy's, but because...well, I'm going to use a quote from Linkara's review of the Frank Miller excretion (I can't, in all honesty, call it a comic book) Holy Terror to drive the point home. I scoured YouTube in search of just this quote, but all I found was the whole review, so you'll just have to take the awesome in text form.

“You know, I sometimes get asked why Camelot of all films is my favorite movie. And the reason is because it actually changed my life or at least focused my beliefs into something that was a good solid foundation for personal philosophy. Those who have power should use it to do good. That violence is not strength. That compassion is not weakness. That revenge is utterly pointless.

Superheroes are basically the equivalent of modern day knight-errant. They go out and help people and fight injustices. But, a lot of the best superhero comics are the ones not actually about superheroes hitting super-villains or hitting each other or anything like that. It’s the ones that show that superheroes are about kindness and decency and something far more noble than the adolescent power fantasies that people often y’know critique them as.

I think I hate this comic more than any other I’ve ever reviewed because it is the complete antitheses of everything I believe in. Holy Terror says that you should be unkind. It says you shouldn’t trust people. It says compassion should be re-paid with violence. And that violence can only be answered with more violence. And that violence is strength. That hurting others is not only enjoyable. It’s desirable. But, it should be employed first when dealing with threats. It says that if you have power, you can lord that power over others and do harm to them. It says that revenge is a worthy cause. It treats women as either victims or enemies. It tells us we should fear the others. The foreigner, the dark skin, the religion that’s not your own. Y’know what the damnedest thing of all is?

I am honest to God afraid of Terrorism. Terrorism is real. There are people out there who want to kill me either because I’m from a different country or just because they're some angry misanthrope with a gun. That applies to both foreign and domestic terrorists.

Terrorism is about making someone so afraid that they’ll do what you tell them to. And the grand message of Frank Miller’s Holy Terror is: Be afraid. Be terrified. And let’s give into that fear and embrace every dark, sick and inhuman part of our souls as a result. And do everything to THEM what they would do to us. Frank, you must be so proud.”

Sorry for all the rants, back to the story. Token Jew continues preaching, basically the same "Better to be eaten first" altar call we've come to know and love from Ellanjay.

Token Jew quotes Revelation 2:10, again ignoring the larger context. Token Jew credits this verse as one of Jesus's, but if you clicked on the link and actually read it, it was actually John's words. And of course, when John wrote these words, he didn't write them for his intended audience--the church of Smyrna, which like many other Christian Churches, was facing persecution at the hands of the Roman Emperor, Nero--but for Christians thousands of years in the future on a continent that he didn't even know existed.

Token Jew goes on basically saying that shit's going to get worse. If you're wondering, this chapter is the one where he cites James 5:8 and again, the mere acknowledgement of the Book of James, makes my brain crash gears, because somehow they know about that verse but managed to read that verse without seeing the first five verses of that chapter?! Again, just so y'all can experience the brain-crashing for yourselves, I'm going to quote the first five verses of James, chapter five, because it perfectly illustrates that for all their idolatrous worship of the Bible, they don't want their flock to :gasp: :choke: actually read and take said verses seriously.

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

Token Jew cites Second Peter, chapter three, verses ten through fourteen. As always, I provide a link to the full chapter because as an English major, I believe that context matters, dammit! But you can see why RTCs are more open to Second Peter than they are to James. Second Peter is less about "Faith without works is dead" and more about the "Sinful Sinners will get what they deserve," which they like more than all that talk about taking care of the poor and showing mercy and all that.

Though I'll assume that like all good RTCs, they stop at verse fourteen and read no further. Because verses fifteen and sixteen of that chapter...yeah, I'll just quote them for the benefit of my readers.

Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Token Jew wraps up his sermon by saying, "Go to our illegal website for more information and to talk with counselors who will lead you to Christ." Kind of interesting that he doesn't just say, "Get a Bible and read it!" Because if this is supposed to be a clear, straightforward reading of scripture, you'd think said non-believer could figure it out on his own and wouldn't need someone to hold his or her hand through all this.

But I suppose there's the danger in that said non-believer might read about how the Church, as depicted in the book of Acts, held everything in common, or they'll read Jesus's sermon on the Mount, without realizing that all that stuff was, again, written for some version in the future, and you're not supposed to actually take it literally. The few verses about the gays and the fires of hell? Totally take literally, but everything else can be safely ignored.

Judd is all comforted by Token Jew's words and feels better about Mark, even though said sermon was incredibly generic and could have been applied to anyone. But to my surprise, that's not the end of the "Mourning Mark" bit. Next section has Judd sit down with Lionel (who has returned from the Phantom Zone or wherever the hell he goes when he's not onstage) and talks to him. I suppose I could wonder why he's talking to Lionel about this stuff and not the person he's married to, aka Vicki, but hey.

Lionel is all "You don't think this is your fault, do you?" Judd is like "I know I couldn't have done anything to save him, but I don't understand why he was so stupid."

Lionel is like, "He saved his friends. That's not stupid," again, illustrating the issue I keep complaining about over and over again in this series: if the Tribbles aren't going to do anything either to stop the anti-Christ or to minister to those suffering as a result of the latest Wrath of God incident, WHY THE HELL DO THEY EVEN BOTHER TO HANG AROUND?! JUST OFFER YOURSELVES UP TO THE GC AND ENJOY ROMPING AROUND IN HEAVEN WHILE EVERYONE ELSE SUFFERS ALREADY!

Then there's this little bit that makes me laugh derisively for several minutes. Okay, I tried to copy and paste it, but I keep getting an error message from the eBook saying I've reached the publisher's limit for copying and pasting. I'm going to grumble and curse about Fair Use and from there, just keep summarizing. It was a small part and it's really not that important, so it won't be too much trouble.

Judd talks about how Mark was always doing stuff without thinking about the consequences, like the time he considered running off and joining the militia, and Lionel says that Judd feels guilty because Mark reminds him so much of himself.

For those of you wondering, this is one of those moments where not only is it okay to point and laugh, but you'd be remiss in your duties if you didn't. Because we all know about all the brave blows Judd has inflicted against the Tyrannical Satanic Government that rules the earth. Such as...I know it's cliché, but really the only way to sum it up is with a tumbleweed gif.

Again, for all her faults and she has many, Vicki has racked up way more converts and done more heavy-lifting than Judd, but she can't possibly be the leader of the YTF because she's got boobs. Remember, in Ellanjayland, a good leader isn't recognized by how his or her decisions pan out or whether they're willing to make the tough choices needed to keep everyone alive; they're recognized by whether everyone kisses their ass, regardless of how well their decisions turn out. So even though Judd spent the majority of this series flying all over the world doing fuck-all, while Vicki tried to hold down the fort and keep everyone alive in the states, EVERYBODY SEES JUDD AS THE LEADER, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THEY'VE HAD ANY INTERACTIONS WITH HIM WHATSOEVER!

Judd shakes his head, saying that he thought Mark would change and we see a brief flowering of rebellious thought from Judd. Cue the Dramatic Prairie Dog. Granted said rebellious thought will probably, like all other rebellious thoughts, be quickly squashed but it is damn nice to see!

Basically Judd :gasp: :choke: says what really makes him mad is that God allowed all this to happen in the first place. I, because I'm morbidly curious, find myself wondering what the good people of CAPalert would think of this. Because y'know Ellanjay won't allow this rebellious streak to go too far and Judd will clearly be shown to be in the wrong, but given that the nutbars at CAPalert criticized the original Star Wars movies because the Empire has bad attitudes (even though the Empire is clearly depicted as being, y'know, evil)...I've got to wonder whether they'd allow even this bit of rebelliousness from Judd. Because apparently if you have anything bad in your story, even if it is clearly depicted as being bad, you're a horrible person trying to corrupt the youth of today!

Lionel brings up his Uncle Andre for the first time since the single digit books (as far as he knows, his beloved uncle died unsaved and has been roasting on a spit for at least six years)and basically mutters some platitudes about how it's bad but he gets by, by believing that God is on his throne and is still in control of things. Yeah...of course, neither he nor Judd take said statement to its logical conclusion by pointing out, "Okay if he's in control of things, then he could, at any point, say, 'Y'know I think they've had enough' and change his mind, right? After all, the last two chapters of the Book of Jonah show He is capable of doing so."

Surprisingly enough, Judd isn't immediately impressed by Lionel's amazing logic. He goes on to talk about an uncle he had, who used to take him out on his boat, and died at an early age of cancer. Judd goes so far as to say, "I still don't see any sense in it, even though I believe God's there and really does care." I suppose that's the most rebellious Judd will be allowed to get in this series. Seeing this bit of rebellious thought struggling to live, it's akin to watching a flower eking out an existence in a crack in the sidewalk. You kind of admire the heroism, even though you know it won't last long. We certainly can't hope for anything close to Mister Smith's speech from the sadly short-lived show Jeremiah:

“I can’t do this anymore. You hear me? I can’t do it anymore! I didn’t ask to be the chosen. I don’t want to be the chosen, I’m tired of being the chosen. So choose somebody else for a change! You got nothing to say? I know you can hear me. Pick now to go quiet? Well damn you. Damn you for doing this to me. And damn me for not blowing my brains out. That’d really mess your plans up, wouldn’t it? I don’t want to know what I know! I shouldn’t have to know the things I know, not if I can’t do anything about it!”

Again, if you haven't seen this show, the whole thing's on Hulu. Go watch now and see just how it succeeds where Ellanjay fail!

Lionel tries to show Judd the YTF website, talking about all the work Mark put into it. But then Judd says something we're supposed to find shocking: he says that he and Vicki are planning on being in Jerusalem for the final battle.

Lionel is shocked and says, "You're crazy!" And maybe because I haven't sipped the RTC flavor-aid, but I can't see where Lionel is coming from here. As Judd talks about how he wants to make life miserable for the GC troops trying to destroy the city and be there to witness Jesus come back, Lionel is all "You'll get yourselves killed!"

And I'm like, uh, Lionel, if Judd and Vicki did die, they'd immediately get bamfed into Heaven, so no loss, no foul. Plus, according to your convoluted interpretation of scripture (which we all know is the only correct interpretation), doesn't TurboJesus win that fight? I thought the whole thing was he shows up, slaughters all his enemies, sends them to hell for all eternity, then his faithful followers get to enjoy a sexless heaven on earth where they get steaming piles of produce to eat until the end of time.

In short, why the hell are you so suddenly concerned for Judd and Vicki's welfare? If anything, you should be like, "Hey can I come with you?" But maybe it's a case of Lionel is aware of his low position on the hierarchy and knows that asking would be an egregious violation of protocol. Because the wisdom and rank of Main Characters must be respected, even when it makes no damn sense.

The chapter ends with Lionel talking about showing Judd a video clip that Chang had given him. Apparently it demonstrates just how incredibly eeeevil Nicky is, but you'll have to wait until next week to hear the actual content. Spoiler alert: said content contains massive amounts of "Satan Has a Point."

But I've talked enough for this week. It just keeps happening: I read through the chapter thinking, "Okay what can I really say about this?" then when I sit down to snark, it's like a spigot has been turned and stuff just comes pouring out. The sad part is, I've probably put more thought into one of these posts than Ellanjay did to their entire series.

4 comments:

Firedrake said...

Nicolae High sounds like the latest CW teen drama series. Oh no, Hot Babe has joined the not-Komsomol, she'll find out about the subversive newspaper and won't go to the prom with Geeky Hero!

If one were preparing for an eternity of being a semi-sapient worshipbot I suspect the best thing to do would be to read as much as possible. Your life of the mind is the only thing you can take with you.

The fundamental ethos of these books is might makes right. In order for the "good guy" to win, he has to be better at killing than that "bad guy", because no other shape of story is possible. The RTC version of David and Goliath has David with an M-16.

I suspect that by this point it's hard to get hold of a Bible; it's probably a banned book.

Obviously Judd's the leader. He's got the most air miles!

Anonymous said...

"The sad part is, I've probably put more thought into one of these posts than Ellanjay did to their entire series."

I really don't think there's any "probably" about it. Even if "entire series" becomes "entire serieses", or whatever the plural is.

aunursa said...

Gotta feel sorry for the inhabitants of the MCC: nothing for them to do except just float around and read Jack Chick tracts until the plot summons them to appear in solid form.

Who knew! You can read the entire Left Behind series in a single Chick tract.

Firedrake said...

Silly RTCs, don't they know the Battle of Armageddon has already been fought. (In 1918. The British won.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Megiddo_(1918)

(And yes, I know full well that there have been battles there before and probably will be again, but it's lovely to see the look on the RTCs' faces.)