Friday, August 28, 2009

Cabbage Head Complex

I've noticed that people, in general, don't like to think negative things about themselves. And, amongst those people, I notice that some like to deflect away criticism (valid or invalid) which has been targeted at them, by saying and/or believing that it's actually criticism against some other feature of theirs. Usually, the other feature which the criticism is directed against is some feature which isn't entirely their fault, or would reflect shallowness on the person giving the criticism. For example, if you were to break up with your boyfriend and cite issues with him being an alcoholic with a borderline abusive personality, and he were to believe at all the reasons you gave him were false and the real reason you were dumping him was because he was overweight, then he would be exhibiting the kind of behaviour I'm talking about.
Occasionally, someone will latch onto a specific feature of theirs and attribute all criticisms and negative opinions people have of them to that one specific feature (or create a feature if there isn't an obvious one available) . I call this a "Cabbage Head Complex," named after a recurring character from Kids in the Hall. The basic premise behind this character is that he is rude, obnoxious, dishonest, misogynist, and also has a cabbage for a head; he'll talk to women and they'll all be repulsed by him for the former four reasons, but he inevitably blames all rejection on his cabbage head, because doing so would imply that they are rejecting him for a shallow reason, and thus they are to blame and not him.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Read Twilight and Hate It: Chapter 9

    This chapter consists of nothing but Bella and Edward talking as he drives her home.  And the things they talk about consist of nothing except answers to the little questions that audience may have been wondering about until now.  Rather than have you suffer through the narration, I'm just going to provide you with a list of points that are established:

  • Edward knew where Bella was before the rapists cornered her because he "followed her scent,1" establishing another power for him: super-scent.  This, of course, makes it even harder to believe that he doesn't notice that Bella gets all hot and bothered whenever he's near her. 
  • Edward is the only one who can read people's minds (because he's special) and Bella's is the only mind he can't read (because she's double-special).  He hears the thoughts of everyone around him, as though they were just talking instead of thinking.  He thinks that he can't hear Bella's mind, because it works different than other people's.  Bella is "bothered,1" by this (probably insincerely, because every high school student loves to be told there's something non-obtrusive to their live that makes them special and different from everyone else).
  • Edward drives 40 over the speed limit everywhere because he can; he has super vampire reflexes, and can also mind-read whether or not there are cops nearby.  After that, it was Bella's turn to give some exposition:
  • Bella tells Edward where she got the notion that he's a Vampire, thus fulfilling my prediction that she would break her promise to Jacob not to tell anyone, at the drop of a hat (or, in this case, the drop of Edward's "low," "velvety" voice).  She tells him everything, even so far as to mentioning Jacob Black by name, and saying that Jacob had mentioned Edward's family specifically. 
  • Bella has decided to herself that it "doesn't matter1" whether or not Edward is a vampire (because she's got the hots for him anyways). Edward, being a more reasonable character than I usually give him credit for, freaks out at how stupid this is.  After that, it's his turn to start filling in some holes again:   
  • Edward says he's 17, but has been so for "a while.1" (ie; he is a pedophile).
  • He also let's Bella know that all the vampire legends about burning in the sun, being nocturnal, and sleeping in coffins are completely false.  That's right folks, Bram Stoker, Sheridan Le Fanu, and folklore are all full of shit.  Meyer is the only real source on vampires (according to Meyer).  Edward does, however, allude to something happening in bright sunlight (but not your piddly little Washington sunlight) that would make it obvious to those around him that he's a vampire.  Also, with regards to the sleeping-in-coffins thing, he says he doesn't sleep at all (which leads me to believe that he has a couple of level 60 characters of Word of Warcraft). 
  • He also says that he does drink blood, but he does the family-friendly cop-out of only drinking animal blood, never humans, because "I don't want to be a monster.1"  This doesn't really explain why he actually goes out and hunts for blood, rather than just getting it from a butcher shop.
  • Bella considers herself coordinated enough to smash a rapists hose bone into his brain with the palm of her hand, but not coordinated enough to run four blocks without face-planting (thus, her decision to try to fight off several attackers and Port Angeles rather than run).

     After that, there's really nothing new, just some old ideas are hashed over again. For example, Edward reminds Bella that her life could be threatened just from being near him.  She says (again) that she doesn't care, and he points out how stupid that is, which makes Bella cry.  When he asks if she's crying, she lies and says she's not, but "traitor tears were there, betraying me.1"  They wouldn't really be "traitor" tears if they didn't betray you, now, would they?
    So, they arrive at Bella's house, and as she's getting out of the car, she makes him promise that he's going to be at school the next day.  Normally, if a friend's been missing a lot of school, you might make them promise to go out of worry for their slipping grades.  In Bella's case, though, it's completely selfish; she just makes him promise so that she can see him and swoon some more.  In return, he makes her promise not to go into the woods alone, because he's "not always the most dangerous thing out there.1"  I cracked up about how he says "not always the most dangerous."  It's like he wanted to reassure her: "but don't be fooled, I am really dangerous.  Dangerous and mysterious.  I might kill you at any time... I'm a vampire."  Also, this brings up the question why he would bring it up.   Either he was spying on Bella in chapter 7 when she ran into the woods to pout (which is creepy), or he just brought this up randomly without any indication that she would go into the woods by herself (which is stupid), or it's another matter of "I know, because the author told me."
    In her house, Bella does some lying (and more lying to cover up those lies) about where she's been and how she got home, to her dad.  Then she calls Jess.  Finally, she spends some quality alone time doing what she does best, thinking about Edward.  At the very end of the chapter, she comes to the conclusion that she "was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.1"  So ends chapter ten.  
    Actually, I'm glad that she finally said that, because that means that we the readers now know all the events that lead her to be in (I would say it's lust, but just for the sake of simplicity let's call it) love with him.  A friend of mine who's a fan of Twilight suggested that I could better understand how to get women using the information in this book, so (now that we've seen all of Edward's "game"), I'm proud to present:

How to Get Women: The Edward Cullen Method (by Edward Cullen).

        Part One, First Impressions
    You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make it a good one.  No matter how much you want to date a girl, or have sex with her, or drink her blood for sustenance, never let on when you first meet her.  You should never make it clear that you like a girl; in fact, act like you hate her guts.  Without saying anything to her face, do whatever you can to avoid her, try to switch out of any classes you have with her, and just generally make it seem like you don't even want to look at her.  If you do want to look at her, though, make sure and do it with "piercing, hate-filled eyes."
    Now, the whole hate thing may seem counter-intuitive, right?  You want this girl to like you after-all.  Well, it does help her like you by fulfilling two important needs.  One: it will make you seem mysterious (chicks dig mysterious guys), because you'll be creating a mystery for her as to why you hate her so much.  Two: it'll give her a project (making you not hate you).  No body likes to be hated, so people will try to be extra-nice to people that do seem to hate them.   This does create a system where people are rewarding others for being mean to them, but no one thinks into it that much.
    Now, it's important to make sure you pretend to have the right kind of hatred for your mark.  As mentioned before, you want to have the ostensibly-unfounded kind of hate, but you don't want to have the kind you act on.  That is to say, you don't want to look like your actively seeking out your mark to punish them for whatever reason you hate them.  That's seen as the needy kind of hate.  Rather, you want to act like you're trying to avoid them at all costs, like they're not even worth your time so you're going to give them as little of it as possible.  Remember, don't be a doof; be aloof.
       Part Two, Establishing a Friendship
    If all goes well, then your mark will try to get closer to you, to fix or at least understand why you hate them.  This is good.  It means that they've shown an interest in you, and that you've made them decide in their mind that they want you to like them.  Once they start putting enough effort into it, you can drop the whole hate act.  Don't worry, though, you can always bring it back up without explanation later if you need to.  Instead of replacing it with genuine niceness or affection, just sort of act like you tolerate her, but like ultimately you're doing her a favor every time you talk to her.  And you should definitely not ask her out.  After all, if she knows that you want to date her, she might start questioning whether she wants to date you.
    Now, dominance is very important in getting a girl, especially at this stage.  It's important to let her know that you're a good mate, by ignoring whatever she says and just doing what you want.  Remember: no means yes.  If she asks you not to pick her up, you pick her ass up and carry it.  If she says she doesn't want a ride home, you tell her tough shit and that you will drag her into your car if need be.  If she says she's not hungry, you tell her that she is.  Repeated use of this tactic establishes two things in your relationship: what she wants doesn't matter compared to what you want, and you are always right (because, she always ends up doing what you want, so you must always be right). 
        Part Three, Stalking
    It's not really stalking if you do it out of love, right?  Follow her around everywhere.  Don't get to close, though.  Your purpose for stalking isn't to gather a ton of information, it's to be there and ready to swoop in when a heroic opportunity strikes.  What's a heroic opportunity?  Any time your mark is in danger (or perceived danger), you need to be able to save her like a knight in shining armor. 
    Now, I happen to have a wide range of super vampiric powers (and I usually get a new one every couple chapters or so) so it's easy for me to do things like stop skidding minivans with my face.  However, there's still a wide range of of things that you can do, such as verbally assaulting some guy who's hitting on her, or running rushing into a pack of rapists with your car to drive her away.  If you do that last one, though, make sure you wait until the last minute, so it's clear that she was in danger.  Otherwise, you wont get credit for it.  If she ever asks about you stalking her, deny it if it's believable that you would just happen to be there.  If it's not believable, then fess up, but don't say it was stalking.  Make it her fault and not yours; you're not there because you're obsessed with her, you're there because she needs you.
       Part Four, Staying Mysterious.
    If you start doing good deeds for her, you do possibly run the risk of loosing your mystique.  So, it's important to establish that your dangerous, and could possibly kill her at any moment.  Chicks dig threats.  Although most girls are too smart to fall for it, you could say you're a vampire like me.  It's not like you'll ever have to prove it; if she ever points out that she's seen you walking in broad daylight before, just tell her that "all that stuff about only coming out at night is folklore.  Vampires don't really die if exposed to sunlight, or have fangs, or drink human blood... except, I could drink your blood at any moment.  Because I'm dangerous."  Other options are that you're a murderer (but don't worry, you only murder rapists and child molesters), or that you're an assassin for the CIA (but don't worry, you only kill vile dictators, not innocent people), or that you're a member of the mafia (but don't worry, you're a reformist working within the Mafia to move it away from smuggling drugs into the country in hollowed out bodies of children, and towards things like promoting rock concerts).  The possibilities are literally endless.  Whatever you pick, though, stick with it.  And bring it up whenever you feel you might be being too nice.
        Part Five, appearances
    Confidence and emotional manipulation will only get you so far.  You get the rest of the way with rugged good looks, because (let's face it) girls are just as shallow as you.  Now, ideally you're like me and have a velvet, muted, low, rough, quiet, soft, musical,  velvet, muted voice, as well as messy blond hair, lean, muscular arms, and a charming crooked smile.  Also, tall.  If that doesn't describe you, though, then you can compensate for it by getting a sexy car (also, do some push-ups, fatty).  Now, I'm so damned sexy that I can get away with going around in a Volvo.  Hell, I could probably get away with going around in a pink BigWheel.  If you don't quite live up to my standards, though, you might want to stop my your local Mustang dealership. 
    Now, all this might seem like a lot to take in, but it can really be boiled down to just a few concepts and a simple pneumonic device.  Remember to act:
        Enigmatic around her, and give up as little information as possible
        Dangerous, like you could kill her at any moment
        Willful, as in: your will matters and hers doesn't
        Aloof, trying to avoid her
        Revolted, acting as though you despise her and the very site of her makes you want to kill yourself, and
        Dreamy, like a gorgeous, Aryan model.
    Keep these principles of the Edward method in mind at all times, and you'll have Mary Sues falling in love with you left and right.  The end.

Now, back to the story.  Stay tuned for chapter 10.


1Meyer, Stephanie Twilight. “Chapter 9: Theories” Little, Brown and Co., 2005

Friday, August 7, 2009

I Read Twilight and Hate It: Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Port Angeles
    On the drive, they're listening to "whiny rock songs1" on the way (I find it pretty ironic that Bella would describe anything else in this book as "whiny") and chatting about boys, as Jess talks about ho well her date with Mike went.  During this conversation, Bella reveals that she's never been to a dance because (and I don't see why Stephanie Meyer thinks it's necessary to remind us of this) she's clumsy, and also because she's never had a boyfriend before (I guess none of the boys in Phoenix were sparkly enough).  Actually, she says it's because none of the boys asked her.  Jessica points out a plot hole:

        She looked skeptical. "People ask you out here," she reminded me, "and you tell them no.1

    Good point, Jess.  Are we going to get an excuse for the Sue-paradox that Bella is both wanted by every guy with a name and still playing up the whole "unlucky at love" thing?  Nope, it's just used as a segue into the fact that Tyler was telling every that he was going to the Prom with Bella.
    Anyways, their shopping trip continues, and the girls talked about boys, and "giggled while pawing through the clothes,1" and paid compliments to how each other looked in different dresses and looked at shoes, etc.  I know that Meyers actually is female, so I almost can't make this argument.  But, is it me or does she seem to write the whole "girl time" part like a middle-aged man would, like someone who has never been female and is just basing it off of stereotypes from TV and movies?  Maybe it's just my imagination.  But then again, what girls'-night-out with Bella would be complete without her bringing up Edward?  She asks Angela whether it's normal for the Cullens to be missing school a lot, and Angela rather unceremoniously reassures her: yes, yes it is.
    After they're all done with dress/shoe shopping, they decide to split up for an hour and then meet at a restaurant for dinner. 

        I wanted to go look for a bookstore.  They were both willing to come with me, but I encouraged them to go have fun - they didn't know how preoccupied I could get when surrounded by books.1

    "You two go do some stupid non-thinky thing.  Only I am allowed to enjoy books and reading."  Bella goes out walking and looking for a bookstore.  In a seemingly-pointless scene, she passes a hippie, New Age looking one and decides to forgo it and look for a "normal book-store.1"  Screw local business; I'm going to find me a Borders.   While looking, she gets lost, because her mind was busy "wrestling with despair1" about Edward.  She finds herself in sort of an industrial/warehouse district (which, inconveniently, was just one block away from the main tourist boardwalk), where she passes a group of guys who are "joking loudly among themselves, laughing raucously and punching each other's arms.1"  So, I guess it's not just girls; Meyer writes "guy-time" out as a ridiculous stereotype of male behaviour, too.
    One of the guys tries to hit on her (all the boys do), but she gets freaked out and starts walking away quickly.  As she's walking, she notices that two of the guys from the group are following her.  She keeps walking quickly down the street, trying to out-pace them, until she finds the other two guys waiting in front of her (I guess they can teleport, too).   As they close on on her, suddenly a silver car bursts through the alleyway, making the guys scramble.  A door opens, and the driver tells Bella to get in.  She does, and gets driven back to the main part of town.  The driver is Edward, obviously.  Oddly though, Meyer doesn't say it's Edward at first, just referring to him as "him1," until several paragraphs after Bella gets in the car.  Was she expecting us to be surprised that the person in the car was Edward?  Because, if so, she completely failed.
    Anyways, Edward speeds out of there with Bella, "blowing through several stop signs1."  I guess because he's worried that those guys could outrun his car if he doesn't bolt out of there.  On the way, Edward sounds really pissed off at her for almost getting raped.  After she calms him down, though, he explains that he's really pissed off at the would-be rapists, and was having trouble resisting the urge to hunt them down and slaughter them.  He drives to the Italian restaurant that Jessica and Angela are waiting out side.

        He parallel-parked against the curb in a space I would have thought much too small for the Volvo, but he slid in effortlessly in one try.1

    Bow-chika-wow wow.  You know how Bella is constantly thinking that all the guys around her are jealous over her?  Well, in the restaurant she does the same thing the whole time, except with thinking that the hostess and waitress are jealous over Edward.  You could tell the hostess would be trying to steel her man, because of her "unnatural blondness1."  Curse you bleach-blondes and your inherent evil!
    After they get seated, Bella gets jealous an tells Edward that she doesn't want him being all sparkle-sexy in front of other girl.  After that the waitress comes out, and Bella is actually thinking, when she sees her, that she was gossiping with the hostess in the kitchen about how smoking hot Edward is.  This is what she's thinking about.  She's so paranoid about other girls getting Edward, that she's actually imagining that they're conspiring together to steel him away.  Not to mention the fact that she was almost just raped, and probably has more to be shaken up about than possible competition for Edward.  Actually, I should note that the word "rape" or "rapist" is never actually used in this chapter.  It's always just replaced with a phrase like "do something horrible1" or the character trailing off before finishing their sentence.  Why Meyer decides this is beyond me.  Maybe they just didn't want this book to be too adult, so they could put it in the "teen" section at bookstores.  Although, if you ask me, having a chapter about rape is going to make the book just as mature whether you use the word or not. 
    Anyways, Edward makes Bella drink a couple Cokes (the word "Coke" is actually mentioned five times in this chapter.  Sponsorship?) and eat some pasta and bread, the whole time his eyes "golden butterscotch.1"  He asks her if she's feeling okay after the whole rape thing, but she just keeps turning the conversation back to him.  She mentions about his eyes changing colour again, and says she has some theories.  He asks to hear them, but she says she wants some information out of him first, and he agrees.  Um, that's not really a good deal for Edward; I mean, it's not like Bella's theories are going to reveal any terribly useful information about him; they're just facts about him which may or may not be true.  But, I guess the story has to move forward somehow.
    The fist question, "why are you in Port Angeles?1" Edward passes on.  The second question, "how can you read minds?" he's oddly open about.  Actually, before he answers it, it sort of evolves into "how did you know I was in trouble?"  Edward responds by saying "Only you could get into trouble in a town this small.  You would have devastated their crime rate statistics for a decade, you know1."  Okay, so he’s actually saying that it is her fault that she almost got gang-raped.  Also, it did seem really unrealistic that Bella would fall victim to street crime in a town as small as Port Angeles, but now that I've read Edward's explanation... it still seems really unrealistic.  He further elaborates the point:

        "I was wrong about you.. You're not a magnet for accidents - that's not a broad enough classification. You are a magnet for trouble.  If there is anything dangerous within a ten-mile radius, it will invariably find you1"

    He also says that he would fall into this whole trouble category, "unequivocally1."  He then goes back on his previous decision to past on her first question and announces that "I followed you to Port Angeles,1" apparently because he was trying to keep her alive.  How would he know that she'd be in danger, though?  They give the wishy-washy excuse that it's because he knew that she was a "magnet for trouble," based on her clumsiness, but there's no sound logic-track that leads from someone being clumsy to you knowing they'll be raped at a certain time and place, no matter how much you think about it.  It seems like another instance of "I know, because the author told me so." 
    Bella notes that this is the second time he's saved her life and/or virginity, and he says that it's actually the third time; saying that "your number was up the first time I met you,1" presumably because he was so tempted to kill her to drain her blood when they first met (or just kill her because she was so annoying).  Saving someone's life and refraining from murdering them are hardly the moral equivalent, though. 
    He then gives her some more information regarding her second question and lets her know that he knew she was in danger, because he could tell that she wasn't with Jessica and Angela by reading their minds, and then later was able to read the rapists' minds and see her face and what they planned on doing to her.   Wait, what?  You mean, when he was talking about reading people, he didn't mean just estimating what they were thinking by reading their body language, he actually meant looking into their heads and seeing what they were thinking.  How stupid is that?  Stephanie Meyer, apparently, was sitting in front of her computer thinking, "Well, he's already got super-strength, super-speed, super-hotness, and immortality... but maybe, that's not quite enough powers.  I'll make him psychic, too."    Protip, writers: it is your hero's weaknesses, not their strengths, that makes them great.  He also makes it clear that Bella's mind is the only one he can't read.  Maybe she lacks the delta brainwave from doing the nasty in the pasty at some point2.
    Edward laments again, how hard it was for him not to kill the would-be rapists (awww, poor Edward).  He then suggests that they leave and asks for the check, in a voice that's "quiet, rougher, still reflecting the strain of our conversation.1"  He let her into his car, and as he was walking around to the driver's side, Bella was "amazed, yet again by how graceful he was.1"  Umm... okay.  Walking to the other side of the car isn't an act that usually requires a lot of grace; but who knows, maybe he was doing some spins and pliĆ©s along the way.  They drive off, and Edward lets Bella know it's her turn to answer questions.  So ends chapter 8.
    Nice thing: it is sort of refreshing that Meyer decided to give Edward a Volvo as a car.  Given that the rest of his character design seemed like she was trying to build the "perfect man," one would guess that she'd give him some kind of sexy car, like a Charger or a Corvette, or a roadster, or at least a Beamer..  But instead, she chose to gave him a rather non-descript vehicle from a company that's known for making cars that are reliable but boring.  Kudos.  Stay tuned for Chapter 9.


1Meyer, Stephanie Twilight. “Chapter 8: Port Angeles” Little, Brown and Co., 2005
2Futurama episode 3ACV07 "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid," Which incidentally pre-dates Twilight by four years.