The Cliches that need to die.
I suspect that this, at the end of the day, qualifies as a rant. But it's a rant about writing, so I think this makes for an acceptable blog post. Comment if you think it doesn't.
I live in a family of readers. We tend to write TV episodes as we watch them on television. Obviously, we record everything, otherwise we'd never hear a word. Sometimes, the writers out-think us. Sometimes we like our endings better than the ones on the screen. And then, sometimes, we catch only an image, and we sigh, and we know exactly where everything starts to go downhill…
Have you ever wandered into a TV show, and without knowing anything of the story thus far, a mere thirty seconds can tell you more than you wanted to know? In fact, you know so much from that brief glance, you can, without any hesitation, write the entire episode?
This is pretty much how it goes in our house whenever we see almost any Christian clergyman on television. If it's some sort of religious figure, he's the murderer / pederast / psycho / bad guy. In fact, if there's a guest star who shows up as a priest, the only way my family is surprised is if the priest is not guilty of something. (See: Blue Bloods. The only show on television that hasn’t had this happen to us) Also, if there's a choice between an old-fashioned, grouchy priest, and a hip, young good-looking priest filled with charisma, we know whodunit—the old guy, because killers are never charismatic, are they?
Now, unless someone can correct me, this rule only applies to some variety of Christian group, but, more often than not, it’s a Catholic priest. Even on the television show 24, where Muslims terrorists were involved (literally) every other season for the first six years, no Imams were involved. I have never seen a Rabbi involved in a crime anywhere on television (again, except for Blue Bloods).
Under the heading of “these and other stupid things,” there are some interesting facts.
Despite what the average conspiracy theorist likes to spin, priests have a fairly good record, behavior-wise. Within the last ten years, The New York Times came up with an interesting number: 100. One hundred is the number of priests who have been guilty of abusing children. Not over the course of a decade or two, but over the previous 80 YEARS. So, one-hundred priests over the course of 80 years have been sick, twisted freaks, out of a NATIONAL population of over a hundred and nine thousand.
So, many were exonerated. But, let's assume that some were never reported, because some aren't. So, let's assume these two numbers cancel each other out, and stick with 10,667.
Hmm.... wait, in nine years, public school teachers have abused twenty-nine times the number of children than an entire profession of priests over the course of decades?
On average, abusive priests have been accused of going after 810 kids per year, but the public schools have assaulted 32,000 per annum …
Wow, Catholic Conspiracies? Really? Rome has nothing on the teachers union.
So, if we use the number of the NYTimes, there have probably been more abusive priests on television than in real life. I say probably because I’ve seen a few dozen on television (without ever seeing an episode of Law & Order: SVU. I will use a power drill on my temple before I watch that crap). Certainly, though, the per capita count on tv is higher than in real life.
I must have missed all of those episodes where they went after teachers. Oh well.
ABORTIONISTS AND CLINICS
Fun fact: since the Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade, there have been a grand total of six abortionists assassinated in the United States.
Which means there have been more abortionists killed on the twenty year run of the original Law & Order than there ever were in real life.
And the amusing part is that all of the abortionists are so good, so pure, and so virtuous, that there was no other conceivable reason that anyone would want to kill them. In real life police investigations, the first step is that you look for at the significant other for your murderer. Why? Because, more often than not, that is the murderer. Cop shows will, occasionally, follow inquiries along this line.
But, nope, you can't have it happen like that when it's an abortionist? Really? Just once, I want an abortionist on television to be murdered by his ex-wife. Current wife? Girlfriend? Wife and girlfriend? No one is so perfect that the only people on the planet Earth who would want to kill him/her is a right-wing violent psychotic.
THE BBC & Gays
I don't know what it is with British television (not just the BBC), but, recently, I watched through a whole slew of British mysteries and stories, etc. After a while, I started to get the odd notion that the British have the strangest obsession with being gay. From the murder mysteries of Inspector Morse to the science fiction of Dr. Who, and the list seems interminable.
Original statistics showed that 10% of the population had some sort of homosexual sex. When they stopped polling the prison system exclusively, the number averaged out to about 2-3% of the population.
By my count, there have been more gay characters in all of British cinema than have ever been born.
And that’s another problem I've had, as far as murder mysteries and cop shows are concerned. Notice that my formula about real life murders was generally gender-vague. Gay, straight, bi, whatever, most people are murdered by murdered by their nearest and dearest.
In fiction, the victim is murdered by anyone… but in British murder mysteries, gay characters are granted automatic immunity. This strikes me as mildly offensive. What sort of homophobe will declare that a gay person is innocent because they're gay? Isn't that just a sort of passive bigotry? “Oh, you're the obligatory gay character, you can't have committed this brilliant murder.” What? Wait? Really? Are gays supposed to be too stupid to commit murders that baffle the cops?
The only people I know to buck this trend is the show Death in Paradise, where everyone and anyone can commit a murder. They have even gone full Agatha Christie, and had every suspect commit a murder. No one is immune. But that’s one show out of dozens I can recall.
Then you get to gays and American television writing, where they just get pure stupid.
Take, for example, the trite concept that “Oh, gay partners don't have visitation rights in hospitals! Oh, gay partners can't receive life insurance!”
Are you writers stupid? What idiot believes this crap? You know what the solution to all of that is? It's called paperwork. Sign a healthcare proxy, ya moron! And on the insurance form? “I want X person to be the beneficiary of my insurance payout.” Done. Period. Stop being a stupid. Seriously, have these writers never seen an insurance form? A legal form of any sort?
Did I mention my parents are in medicine and my uncle’s a lawyer? Yeah, I have some familiarity with how things actually work.
Also, the prevalence of homosexuals in media is getting annoying. Heck, DC comics is going a little bit nuts over it — Batwoman, longtime cop Leslie Thompkins, Renee Montoya (formerly the Question), probably Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, Alan Scott -- are all gay, with the exception of Harley Quinn, who's “just” bi. And these are the ones I know off the top of my head. It’s getting to the point where everyone’s gay.
Again, I’ll point out just how relatively small the LGBTBBQ population is. I'm sorry, but there are so few human beings on the planet who end up as superheroes, or villains, and so few homosexuals, the overlap has got to be small. Going by these numbers, DC comics must have about 300-600 name heroes and villains on their active roster, thus … what? Would DC like to say that there are so many LGBTQ villains because they’re naturally deviants? Because I would think that’s not the message they would like to send.
Heck, The Walking Dead brought … how many gay couples. That's nice ... except there are maybe a few hundred people left on the planet (that have been shown) and a gay couple happens to be two of them? Excuse me, but let's go back to the Venn diagram. 98%-99% of the planet is straight. Again, homosexuals are, maybe, 1%-2% of the world's population. In The Walking Dead, 99.99% of the planet have been eaten or become zombies, and somehow, they’re now more than 1%-2% of the world's population? My credulity has just been strained to the breaking point. My suspension of disbelief has broken. The math doesn’t work.
There was a popular BS cliché in the 90s with carryover to today: militias! It was really an excuse for writers to have cardboard villains they didn't need to explain. They were anti-gummint, and dangit, that was all that mattered!
In short, this was BS. The “evil Christian militia” was big in the 90s after Waco, Ruby Ridge, and Oklahoma City, and it was a meme that everyone drummed into the heads of the public for nearly a decade.
None of these people were ... anything that the public had been told, really. The Branch Davidians of Waco was a cult, and the siege of their compound was a screwup according to every Hostage Rescue expert on the planet. Ruby Ridge was just bizarre, a siege waged over a shotgun barrel a fraction of an inch too long. Oklahoma City was led by a pot-smoking atheist douchebag.
Sadly, there's a bit of a resurgence of this idiocy lately. And if I see one more lousy plot where “evil White veterans were framing innocent Muslims for a terrorist attack” I will throw the book against the wall. Like I did with the last one.
Seriously? No. Just no. Period. End sentence. It doesn't work anymore, people. Heck, watching most of the 90s stupidity is almost painful, so one can argue that it never worked. Now hollyweirdos try to reframe it because they’re “obviously evil” because they're caricatures of conservatives. Ooohh, they're RACIST! And Christian! And Tea Partiers! And against illegal immigration! And they like guns!
In short: evil white men. Again. Sigh.
Heck, if you go by the premise that the Tea Party is for smaller government, I could technically count. If you've been tagging along with me for years now, and you assume that this makes me evil, yeesh, have you got problems.
Oh, and for the record, I never again want to see the evvviillll military trying to overthrow the government. It barely worked in Seven Days in May, and that was only because of Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster.
The closest American fighting men and women come to overthrowing a government is by running for President. You’re talking about a military that hasn’t ever had a mutiny that I recall, and there are fiction writers out there who want us to believe that they’d overthrow the entire government? No. This is a concept that needs to be put down like the mindless rabid animal that it is.
Assume that the perverts of Hollywood know nothing about the Crusades: why they happened, why they were fought, or who fought them. Despite the caricatures that Hollyweirdos show us, the nobles of Europe bankrupted themselves in an effort to retake the Holy Lands, so it wasn't about profit. The mandate was to clear out the Holy Lands. Period.
Sacking Constantinople, et al, were the people who slipped the leash. Also, those who sacked Constantinople were excommunicated from the Church. Didn’t know that, either, didja? Don’t worry, good luck finding someone who will tell you unless they’re really cranky and pissed off historians like me.
In the First Crusade, the Crusaders were horrified to find that the Muslims didn't keep to their word, didn’t show mercy to prisoners, and didn’t consider any action against non-Muslims to be immoral. If all things are equal, if the Crusaders were just out for blood, why did they find this so surprising? That, right there, is a telling example of the difference.
More on the Crusades below, because there is overlap.
The Inquisition (You Expected this)
Everyone expects this. This joke is dead. It is no more. It has ceased to be. It has shuffled off this mortal coil.
So, let’s talk about the Inquisition.
First, which one? There were two. Most people think of the Spanish Inquisition, not the version in Rome, which only ever comes up in the mind of an idiot when talking about Galileo.
As with the the Spanish Inquisition, if it was just so EEVVVIIILLL, why did people deliberately commit religious crimes to get their case transferred to that bastion of cruelty? Yeah. Funny that. The Inquisition jails were so much better, people faced with accusations of secular crimes would utter blasphemous and heretical statements in the secular court in order to be transferred to the ecclesiastical edition.
In the secular court, for example, you were guilty until proven innocent, and you could be accused anonymously. Except the Inquisition — even the Spanish edition, which was directly controlled by the King of Spain rather than reporting to the Pope — he Church, you see, created “innocent until proven guilty” and “the right to face your accuser.”
The Spanish Inquisition even asked the accused for a list of their enemies in order to strike the witness list of enemies. Yes, the Spanish Inquisition took the radical step of taking the accuser's gain into account. The Inquisitors took a very dim view at false statements. In fact, those who made false statements could be found by the court as themselves committing a crime. Welcome to “contempt of court.”
Even the “torture” of the Inquisition … really, people? The guidelines for the Inquisition using pain to extract information were simple: inflict NO DAMAGE that couldn't be recovered from in two or three days. When you consider the documentaries recently on how “the rack” works, that means they didn't even turn the wheel a full revolution, they clicked it a few times, total. It would still suck, but they’d walk away, and not have their joints explode.
But, still, they basically have the same guidelines as Guantanamo Bay, and there, terrorists were tossed into a darkened box with a caterpillar (and told it was a scorpion), bounced off of walls specifically designed to cause no harm, but sound loud, and two or three people were waterboarded. This was the Inquisition. Really scary, huh?
See Howard Kamen on the subject, really.
Oh, yes, the Inquisition lasted for 300 years, and may have killed 4,000 people. Why may have? Because they counted people burned in effigy as executed. Yup. Welcome to the Catholic church. At worst, it killed 14 people a year on average. The low number, 2,000, means only 7 people a year. That's less than the average spy count during the Cold War. And remember, the Inquisition was after the reconquista, the Spanish just drove off the Islamic Moors, and having Muslims in town seemed like A Bad Idea. The “purge” was like America looking at Russian immigrants during the Cold War— common sense.
Despite Mel Brooks, the Inquisition did not care about Jews, they only cared about fake conversos. If you look at the history of the Inquisition as written by Netanyahu (Bibi's father, IIRC), it basically boiled down to “The Inquisition was right, this is how we fooled them.”
Militant atheists, or anti-theists, not only do not believe, they are certain that belief is dangerous, and those who do believe are automatically dangerous.
First, Christianity does not, and has never, advocated violence. I do, but I'm possibly insane, a sociopath, or with anger management issues, depending on who you talk to. (Then again, I have papers to prove I'm sane. Muahahahaahah.) Violence has been tolerated as a defensive measure, and only in the interests of justice. Remember, the Crusades were a defensive measure, a response not to Islam conquering the Holy Lands but rather to preventing pilgrimage in said lands. Three hundred years is quite a long time between an invasion and a counterattack, if that's all there was to it. To my knowledge, outside of Pope Julius II (who was more warlord than Pope), only one Pope came close to dealing with assassins, and that was Pope Pius XII as an accessory before the fact. (He was connected to two different assassination attempts on Hitler. The depth of his involvement varies with the telling)
Second, atheist wars against religion have claimed far more lives than those wars "of" religion. Look it up. Vox Day, The Irrational Atheist, broke it down by wars. Richard Dawkins is just a schmuck. And atheists still have terrorists, just ask the Oslo Bomber. Communism alone butchered over 100,000,000 people. Yes, you read that right, one hundred million people. And the body count keeps going up every time I check. It may be over 120,000,000 by now.
Islam, on the other hand, calls for violent action. Muhammad gave very specific orders on how his followers were to treat infidels, and those followers have been pretty good at obeying. Sell the females and boys into slavery. All men are to be killed. How do you determine who's a man? Drop his pants and see if he's got hair. (And if he's circumcised, kill him anyway.)
“Evil Christian historical violence” is a terrible, terrible cliché`, and I want people to read a book or something. Because I am sick and tired of this bullcrap. Even Bill Maher seems to have walked back his stance on Christians lately, because, “Oh, look, ISIS.” Just ... I'm so tired of all this.
Then this: http://www.declanfinn.com/2015/04/stupid-writing-cliches-revenge.html
Why do I mention any of this? Because cliches are tiresome, and boring, and for the love of God, can't anyone come up with an original idea? There are only so many times I can see the same plot recycled through the same unoriginal scripts. If real life were like television, abortionists should collect hazard pay, every priest should be arrested immediately on suspicion, and half of everyone is gay, and are so pure and virtuous that they've never perpetrated a crime.
I’m not approving clergy child abusers, or assassinations of abortionists, nor am I condemning gays for being so. However, if you spend more than five minutes on someone being gay in a plot, you better have a damn good reason for it; I fast forward through “straight” romance subplots unless it’s relevant, why should I care that two guys are making out in the corner?
I don't want Barry Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby in collars, but damnit, I'm tired of writers who are so brain damaged that the only way they can think to bring in a priest on television is to make them the villain.
And, please, can someone on television murder mysteries kill an abortionist because his wife caught him cheating on her?
In A Pius Man, I take pride on the fact that I take every cliché I can think of about the Catholic Church, and I turn it on its head.
I have a mysterious priest in the background, and he seems to have combat training. Hmm … he's got pale skin and silver hair, does that qualify as an albino?
I have a violently, borderline right-wing African Pope who is Atilla the Hun, and who uses the line “by any means necessary” more than a few times. Could he be a villain?
I have a violent, borderline psychopath that the Vatican has hired. That can't be good, can it?
I have a shifty-looking Cardinal, hmm.....is he up to something?
Does the head of Papal Security have to come head to head with the Pope? Maybe even arrest him?
The answers shake out to a yes or two, a few no answers, and a maybe. You can't trust anyone in my book, but you can't automatically conclude that they're the villains.
Nothing is obvious, even if everyone is dangerous.