Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's not a Dating Guide, Dumbass

Ok, let me make this simple. Stockholm: An Exploration of True Love is not a dating guide. It's not pro-rape propaganda. It's not meant to say, "The true way to show a woman love is to kidnap and rape her."

Art can show us new perspectives and values without providing direct instructions. Simple example: in most Hollywood movies, before a good guy shoots a bad guy, he first trembles like a jackass for about an hour, and then the bad guy makes a sudden attack, and then the good guy has no choice but to shoot. Now the lesson that we, the audience, take away from that is not, "Before you shoot a bad guy, tremble like a pussy for two hours." The vast majority of us will never be pointing a gun at anyone, and those of us that do will probably not be pointing it at some criminal mastermind.

No. The lesson that we, the audience, take away from that is a bit more nebulous, but no less powerful. We learn that "good guys" do not act with cold-blooded ruthlessness. Us "good guys" don't act with godlike decisiveness. In order to be good, we have to be weak, indecisive, docile, meek, etc.

On the other hand, take the critically acclaimed series Firefly. In the opening episode, a government representative is pointing a gun at one of the crew. The protagonist, Malcolm Reynolds, strides in and shoots the federal agent without a split second of hesitation. He doesn't even slow down. Now the lesson there is not, "If an agent of a repressive government is pointing a gun at one of your people, then you should shoot him without hesitating." The lesson is closer to, "To be free of a repressive government, we must be tougher and more ruthless than they are. We cannot hesitate. We cannot tremble. We must attack coldly and ruthlessly." Again, this has nothing to do with guns, and everything to do with perspective.

And these aren't just perspectives influence the way we approach the world. What type of person is going to question cultural values and reject mindless obedience to cultures, religions, and governments? Will it be the type of person who believes that good guys tremble and hesitate and act like pussies for an hour before some external event forces action? Or will it be the type of person believes that good guys defy authority with ruthless force and no hesitation?

Just as Firefly's lessons have nothing to do with guns and federal agents, Stockholm's lessons are not really about rape and kidnapping. This may come as a surprise to some of you (who have never actually seen Stockholm, but love to comment about it anyway), but I am not actually a proponent of rape. I dislike rape. I hate rape. I am, as it turns out, very strongly opposed to rape. Same thing goes for kidnapping. To draw a parallel, Joss Whedon, the creator of Firefly, probably does not want people to start shooting federal agents.

But there is something else that I am not a fan of. And that is the current, official, feminist-endorsed, Hollywood-promoted perspective on what love is. Roughly, this love:

1. Is always monogamist
2. Is never possessive
3. Is doting, not dominant

See, I don't agree that that is the only definition of love, and I really don't like the kind of perspective it creates. Because a man who manages to believe in that version of love often undergoes an abnegation of a key part of his spirit. It's hard to describe exactly, but here is a way to look at it: A lion has something a housecat doesn't. Even though a housecat is a bit safer to be around, there is something about a lion that inspires us. The above version of love often essentially domesticates a man, turning him from a "lion" into a "housecat". And that housecat will approach other parts of life as a housecat.

The point of Stockholm has nothing to do with kidnapping, and everything to do with attacking that domesticating version of love. Most women already know that the above is not the only kind of love. Hundreds of romance novels, popular with women, portray a kind of love that is a lot more like Stockholm and a lot less like the above. But, for whatever reason, some of them don't want men to know about that perspective. Maybe that's why they love to protest Stockholm, which, as a video game, attracts a male audience, and say nothing against the hundreds of similar romance novels with a primarily female audience.

Stockholm, on the surface, portrays kidnapping. But, more importantly, it shows a version of love that is just as emotionally powerful as the current official version, if not more so. Stockholm is not dangerous because it shows a crime. Many video games show far worse crimes than kidnapping. Stockholm is dangerous because it shows the truth about a powerful emotion. It is a first step in illustrating that there are versions of love that do not involve castrating the mind, or domesticating the male spirit. Many of those who have won Stockholm have realized that this type of undomesticated, uncastrated love can exist without kidnapping or rape. Kidnapping and rape might help illustrate it in a simulation, but they are certainly not prerequisites.

The actual situation shown in Stockholm, much like the situations in movies described at the beginning of this post, is pretty unlikely. Most of us will never have a gun pointed at an evil criminal mastermind, and most of us will never be in a situation in which we have a captive and a poison gas set up and a bunch of other hidden options that we discover along the way. But we will be confronted with situations in which we are told that there is only one type of love, the kind where you turn from a lion into a housecat. Those of us who have won Stockholm will know that there are other options.


Maddy said...

This is the most ridiculously UNcontroversial issue. Video games + sex = satisfied boys. Everyone has their own sexual preference (girls are no different, Mr. Audemars). Some boys like sex with other boys and some boys wish they had a bigger penis and masquerade dominance and female helplessness/dependence as love. In reality, this porn star is not in love, she’s just confused. (Not that I’ve seen the film, I doubt anyone wasted $10 to do so). But with Stockholm syndrome, the victim will do anything to stay alive, even resort to lewd sexual acts to feign intimacy. Maybe there’s no such thing as love. Your version of ‘love’ derives from a need, not socio cultural norms. Example: boy with small penis feels inadequate so he creates love illusion. Cultural values my ass. This is 2009. If you want to live out your own sex/love perversions no one is stopping you. Why do you feel the need to proselytize your own dumb version?? If a man is entitled to this other love perspective, then like a seesaw, women are left without THEIR spirit. Love is a choose-your-own-adventure and not whatever twisted idea Mr. Audemars supports by objectifying women in this retard film.

What irks me is that Stanton makes love and sex fantasies an individual, male pursuit. Therefore, sex and love must be played out separately and not components of an emotional relationship. If you are just interested in sex, then the issue of polygamy vs. monogamy is a moot point. Solution? Sleep around. Anyways, the moral of this stupid, pointless, rant from a crazy person (not me, Stanton) is this: instead of dating websites, we need to set up dungeons so that girls who like to be dominated can meet men with small penises.

Mary Lou said...

How long did you think it would take before we saw through your lies and assumptions? We figured it out, your game’s up! Your suggestion that Stockholm: AETL is about “a man captur[ing] a woman” is unacceptable! Granted, I haven’t seen Stockholm: AETL, and have no plans to, but from what I understand of the project: I suppose women are never violent? Women in lesbian relationships are never abused or dominated? Women are never ruthless or manipulative? Grow up! We women are every bit as strong, smart, and ruthless as men, and we like power just as much as you guys do! Women today are career women, CEOs, and have leading roles in politics (Pelosi, Sec. of State Clinton, etc.) Some are dommes (dominatrixes) and command the authority of male slaves, female slaves, or both. We like to pull the strings as much as any man.

Just because the captive portrayed is a female, don't assume the captor is a male! Are you trying to dictate to women what we can or can’t imagine, or just putting out that assumption and laughing into your sleeve.... either way, I challenge your assumption. What you should say, is that behind a veneer of social respectability lies the hearts of cavemen and cavewomen which contains the instinct to club our mate of choice and then have our way with him/her. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “The passage from the state of nature to the civil state produces a very remarkable change in human beings, by substituting justice for instinct in his conduct, and giving his actions the morality they had formerly lacked. Then only, when the voice of duty takes the place of physical impulses and right of appetite, does the individual, who so far had considered only himself, find that he is forced to act on different principles, and to consult his reason before listening to his inclinations.”

I agree with your assessment of Friends. You said, "Rachel inexplicably fell in love with Ross. But in reality, Jennifer Aniston sure as hell didn’t fall in love with David Schwimmer."

You then went sexist again: "Doting, domesticated males are just not attractive." Really, the world is divided into submissives and dominants, and most find dominant traits appealing in males/females, depending on which gender one prefers to partner.

"Stockholm [is] more like figuring out a puzzle, or a Zen koan. Stockholm is not meant to be purely a game. It is meant to be a simulation that challenges what you’ve been taught love is supposed to be. The point of Stockholm is not that kidnapping is the right thing to do. The point is that we need to reexamine our definition of love." I actually agree with this one statement of yours.

"Some have suggested that to be fair, there should be two versions of Stockholm, one where a man captures a woman, and another where a woman captures a man." If I understand correctly, only the captured woman is shown. Her captor could be male of female. Damn right there should be 2 versions! The other version should show a female captor (preferably the same actress) from the perspective of the captive (male or female unspecified). This provides the ultimate knowledge of self: to be the captor and experience the predatory feelings it engenders; to be the captive, and experience (perhaps) a small taste of Stockholm syndrome. I mentioned that I have no plans to view Stockholm: AETL, but if you ever make the counterpart I describe, many people will buy it, including me!