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Viking Pride

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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Murder on the Dancefloor

Nancy's conversation with Hooman Jaka, the ladykiller bartender guy, starts off in a pretty bad place: Apparently tomorrow night, her next delivery, will also be "Wax On Wax Off" night, in which quote "ladies who show me the bald stuff get in free." First of all, "ladies" who show strangers their "stuff" are not ladies. Second of all: Gross in every way. That makes me want to put on a skeleton costume and sweep the leg of the universe.

Of course Nancy asks about the guys and their bald stuff, which he calls "just sick" but actually outside of porn, where it's utilitarian, in real life I think it's a brilliant strategy, not just because of forced-perspective reasons like the Hobbits but mostly because it makes it look vulnerable, like a baby bird, and you want to make it feel better. Like in that Kate Bush song where she finds the scared baby fox. (Not that Kate Bush would be welcome, at least not on WOWO night.)

But there's a sort of feminist twist to this encounter and this season that seems pretty half-baked, as per with this show, that comes around in a sec. So but still, I'm not qualified to talk about waxing because I don't understand it. Like, I think Precious's mom is about the worst thing in the world because when she's not talking about how obesity is this moral victory, she's parading around her unshaven legs like they are also a moral victory. I don't care about lady-legs one way or the other, but I do hate grandstanding.

And I remember that I complained about Precious's Mom in like, the larger sense, how everything about her is horrible because that's her choice, and this girl I know was like, "You'd prefer she had hairless legs like a tween?" And what I think was going on there was base-level Jezebelism ("Calling that person fat is racist and that's homophobic!") where you just get to bitch, about anything, on the imaginary internet, to people who agree with you, and feel like a heroine? But I think also it was just getting legs and vaginas confused, and thinking the outrage would do double-duty.

But so now, implicated, I have to worry about shaven vaginas and unshaven vaginas, when before I thought vaginas were pretty great, when I thought about them at all. Either way, if you're showing me your stuff -- whether it's your actual stuff or your historical stuff -- you are unwelcome at best, because it's unsavory. Shave them or don't, just don't make it my personal problem. And this show, sometimes it's like that too. But I think that the show makes a very valid point about the difference between sexism and misogyny that the internet maybe never understood in the first place, and has no real reason ever to do so, because self-serving stances are what the internet is about.

So Hooman is all over Nancy's other problem, which is getting passports, and he gets really excited because he thinks it's a drug thing, and he tells her to go to Morocco, and how he can get her his number and like this, and she's like, "No, this is not a movie. Just passports." He says he can help with that, but that she has to send a man and the man can tell this fellow that Jaka sent him. (Right away red flag, because though Hooman is loveable he is Sketch Supreme.)

But why send a man? Nancy pretends to be confused by this, that it's a sexist thing and that there is oppression, because she just recently learned about it. Literally, in her life, she just learned that men are not only people, but people who are out to get you. And it troubles her! So while it comes off pretty racist that she's asking one Muslim why another and by extension all Muslims hate women, it's also a valid question to ask one man about another, and by extension all, men. And he answers for both, and when he does he tells the whole of all creation, and she will know it. This is the way it begins:

"You guys scare the shit out of us."

And while I don't think this is what the show was originally about I think it's been about that for a very long time, and for a very good reason, which is that it is totally true. Everybody comes from the same place, and without it nobody would exist, so every social rule between men and women ever created is about protecting it, regulating it, possessing it, preserving its power while taking away its power. The word taboo doesn't mean something bad, it means something so powerful and divine that it's terrifying.

Men spend their whole lives, societies, wars, cultures fleeing from the fact that it always wins, and will always win, because without it we're toast. As long as men have establishing power over the narrative where it's there for them, to buy and sell and fuck, to insult and to degrade and to take pictures, they don't have to think about the fact that it owns them. Completely.

From The Faerie Queene to Sharon Stone to Angelina Jolie, there's the story of the female vampire who steals the soul of the man's true beloved. Or the men go into the house and they don't come out. It's all about men because they don't understand stories that aren't about men, and men pay the money for the stories. But outside that general cultural narrative -- which will always exist, endlessly recreating itself -- there's the shadow economy we talk about, where select women who see the system for what it is are able to go outside that shitty mechanism and work it like a videogame.

Normally this is where I bring up gay men as the other radical element that ruins that economy -- who, like hot chicks, are forced into silence and infantilism in order to survive -- but of course this show doesn't have any of those. What it does have is a femme fatale with mysterious supernatural powers and darkness like a black hole, who after six seasons is only now revealing her basic mundane details to us. Who is getting shaded in, after all that time, and thereby losing her power. In a way that's fundamental to any hero cycle, which is what this actually is, but looks so different and meets such different requirements that it often seems to have no plot at all.

Because she is a widow, wearing widow's weeds even today, she couldn't be a succubus and she never plays that archetype. But she plays vampire, and siren, every single time. And there aren't many narratives smart enough to tell that story from her point of view, because there aren't many narratives that women have enough industrial currency to tell. Which makes this show itself part of the shadow economy, a nonstandard narrative passing itself off as a dark comedy rather than the supernatural biography of a vampire. The lady in black who moves in the shadows behind the scenes of every part of the male narrative like Forrest Gump, pushing buttons and holding onto it as hard she can so she doesn't fall off into the outer darkness. The second she lost her man, Nancy lost her place in the system. Everything else is survival.

And so as a man, or a person upholding the straight narrative which is all of us, you have your orders of severity: Sexism is living in the Matrix and thinking it's real and anybody who says different is a problem. Feminism is living in the Matrix and realizing it. Bad feminism means assuming the whole thing is evil just because you've recently learned about it, but don't have perspective on the difference between descriptive and prescriptive or between sexism -- which is about ignorance -- and misogyny, which is about malice. And misogyny is fighting for the lie regardless. Hooman is sexist, the Popsicle Patty situation in a second is misogynist. (PS: "Matrix." Not unintentional, there or here.)

My gays deal with the same lexical confusion: Fearing homosexuals is unfortunate but understandable, like any other kind of ignorance, but hating homosexuals is called "homophobia," because we don't have a separate word for it. I don't see this getting cleared up any time soon, because we like things oversimplified and we all love to be outraged, but that's the difference. One c

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