NRA: Cater to their feelings

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 120-122

First, a quick reminder that Buck Williams is a jerk:

It was nearly time for Buck to head for Palwaukee Airport. Verna Zee was back at the Global Community Weekly office with the new (to her) used car Buck had promised to buy her from the fleet of leftovers from New Hope.

Verna, you’ll remember, had graciously loaned Buck her car so that he could go to look for Chloe after the bombs fell.

He abused it, blowing a tire, and then abandoned it. He’d promised Verna to replace it with “a better car,” and, apparently, has fulfilled that promise as minimally as possible.

A few chapters back Buck bought a car for himself. He used his Global Weekly credit card to buy a $100,000 Range Rover even though it was for personal use, not for work. (Buck stopped doing work in the last book, although he still collects his salary.) But he won’t use the company credit card to replace the car he took from his employee. She’ll have to make do with one of the Rapture-surplus cars Loretta had collected at New Hope.

I’m sure Loretta and Donny Moore gave Buck a competitive price for the car — just like with the laptops. I’m picturing them in the church office, counting the money, as Donny asks, “Do you think Buck will ever realize we just sold him Irene Steele’s car?”

Loretta, we’re told, “was at the church office fielding the constant phone calls about Sunday’s memorial service.”

And here’s how I imagine those calls going:

“No, it’s just for Bruce. Only Bruce. … Yes, I realize that our church lost dozens of members in the bombing, and millions more are dead all over the country, but … no, no, you’re right. You’re absolutely right, but it’s not up to me. … Buck Williams planned it. … Exactly, yes. …”

Chloe hobbled around on a cane, needing crutches but unable to manage them with her sprained wrist in a sling. That left Amanda to take Buck to the airport.

“I want to ride along,” Chloe said.

“Are you sure you’re up to it, hon?” Buck said.

Chloe’s voice was quavery. “Buck, I hate to say it, but in this day and age we never know when we might or might not ever see each other again.”

“You’re being a little maudlin, aren’t you?” he said.

The last time Chloe left the house she was badly injured in a car wreck due to a nuclear bomb. She also knows, for a fact, that the second, third and fourth seals of divine wrath are being poured out on the world, meaning that “a fourth of the world” will be dead in the weeks to come. So rather than seeming maudlin, her comment seems appropriate.

But the authors have to treat this like a “quavery” bit of overly emotional thinking on her part because that will allow Buck to callously dismiss her feelings, after which the authors, through Amanda, can deliver yet another Lesson in Christian Marriage.

That’s the point here, with this lesson meant to be some Mars-Venus business about men being too practical and unfeeling while women are overly emotional. The authors here are thus reminding good, godly husbands that they need to cater to the sensitivities of the weaker sex and pretend to be paying attention when their wives prattle on about their feelings. This is similar to the earlier Lesson in Christian Marriage in which godly husbands were urged to pretend to appreciate any “frilly,” feminine knick-knacks their wives have used to decorate the home.

That’s my summary, but look at what the authors have written here and judge for yourself if it’s accurate:

“You’re being a little maudlin, aren’t you?” he said.

“Buck!” Amanda said in a scolding tone. “You cater to her feelings now. I had to kiss my husband good-bye in front of the Antichrist. You think that gives me confidence about whether I’ll ever see him again?”

Buck was properly chastised.

The lesson here seems to be, roughly, “Husbands, cater to her feelings and make her think you’re really listening when your wife talks about … oh, you know … whatever it is that wives talk about when they talk about all that woman-ish stuff.” I can’t figure out whether the authors are simply unaware of the way their lesson on listening reveals that they don’t listen, or if this is actually meant to sound patronizing. I may think of “patronizing” as a bad thing, but I’m not sure the authors agree that it is. (If husbands are patrons, after all, why shouldn’t they be patronizing?)

After the lesson, Buck, Chloe and Amanda pile into the Range Rover — Buck driving, of course, because it’s his car and because penis — and head toward Palwaukee Airport.*

Buck was amazed that the built-in TV had survived Chloe’s crash. He was not in a position to see it, but he listened as Amanda and Chloe watched. Nicolae Carpathia, in his usual overly humble manner, was holding forth.

Nicolae Carpathia, we have just been told, usually comes across as “overly humble.” He seems like a fake, in other words, a condescending phony.

He is a fake, of course. He’s the Antichrist — a false messiah. But the thing about any decent false messiah is that he has to seem like the real deal. That’s the salient fact about actual phonies — they seem genuine.

I think part of the problem here is that the authors simply do not trust their readers to dislike Nicolae without making him utterly unlikeable. This despite the title of the book: Nicolae: Rise of the Antichrist. His rise, we are told, is due entirely to his charisma, his preternatural charm and superlative eloquence. Yet they’re afraid to allow him to be or even to seem charismatic or charming or eloquent.

Instead what we get is every bad writer’s favorite method of making one character seem smart: making everyone else seem stupid. Consider poor Chaim Rosenzweig. He’s supposed to be a genius, but he comes across as clueless and dimwitted, utterly fooled by Nicolae’s obvious fraudulence and “overly humble” phoniness.

In this scene it’s not just the foolish Rosenzweig who is fooled by Nicolae’s obvious pretense — it’s the entire world.

Jerry Jenkins’ provided himself with another way of handling this. Back in the first book of the series he went to great lengths to establish that the Antichrist has supernatural powers of mind control. I keep waiting for him to make use of that in scenes like this — to suggest that Nicolae is working his mojo on the whole world through this broadcast while only the redeemed, those who enjoy the magic of divine protection, can hear what’s really going on.

But Jenkins doesn’t do that here. Instead, he falls back into the trap he set for himself by insisting that Nicolae is the greatest orator and most convincing speaker of all time.

Again, don’t ever do this to yourself as a writer. Don’t ever give a key character any superlative skill that will at some point have to be demonstrated on the page. Robin Hood stories are fine — you can describe an arrow hitting its target without having to wield the bow yourself. But don’t try to tell readers about the world’s greatest poet, or the world’s funniest comedian, or the most compelling orator of all time, because eventually you’ll have to back that up by supplying the poetry, jokes or oratory that live up to such descriptions. And unless you are, yourself, the greatest poet, funniest comedian, or most compelling speechwriter in all the world, then you’re trapped.

Jenkins is trapped. He is not the greatest speechwriter in the world. He is, rather, a terrible writer of terrible speeches.

And instead of great, or good, or even adequate oratory from Nicolae, what Jenkins gives us instead is this:

“Make no mistake, my brothers and sisters, there will be many dark days ahead. It will take tremendous resources to begin the rebuilding process, but because of the generosity of the seven loyal global regions and with the support of those citizens in the other three areas who were loyal to the Global Community and not to the insurrectionists, we are amassing the largest relief fund in the history of mankind. This will be administered to needy nations from New Babylon and the Global Community headquarters under my personal supervision.”

So New Babylon, the capital of the one-world government established after all nations were abolished, is going to oversee the distribution of “relief funds” to the various nations that need them. What?

“With the chaos that has resulted from this most sinister and unwise rebellion, local efforts to rebuild and care for the displaced will likely be thwarted by opportunists and looters. The relief effort carried out under the auspices of the Global Community will be handled in a swift and generous way that will allow as many loyal members of the Global Community as possible to return to their prosperous standard of living.

“Continue to resist naysayers and insurrectionists. Continue to support the Global Community. And remember that though I did not seek this position, I accept it with gravity and with resolve to pour out my life in service to the brotherhood and sisterhood of mankind. I appreciate your support as we set about to sacrificially stand by each other and pull ourselves out of this morass and to a higher plane than any of us could reach without the help of the other.”

It’s difficult to imagine that banal, contentless speech uniting the entire world behind its beloved leader. I’m not sure I can imagine anyone listening to the whole thing without changing the channel.

Buck shook his head. “He sure tells ’em what they wanna hear, doesn’t he?”

Set aside that the meaningless pile of throat-clearing noises above is being presented to us as an example of superlative oratory. Focus, instead, on the idea that this speech is also the authors’ best attempt to convey an oily politician pandering to the masses and giving them exactly “what they wanna hear.”

Who, ever, in all the long history of human experience, has ever wanted to hear that? How are the masses being pandered to by that indecipherable puddle of rhetoric?

This echoes the problem we saw earlier with the Lesson in Christian Marriage. Husbands are instructed to seem like they’re listening to their wives when they say all that stuff they’re probably saying, whatever it is. And politicians are criticized for pandering to the masses for saying all that stuff the masses want to hear, like …  you know, whatever that stuff is that the people want.

The authors have no idea what it is “they wanna hear,” because they view ’em — the masses, the maddening crowd, the hoi polloi — the same way they view their wives: as alien, inscrutable and unknowable. As a different, and subordinate, species.

And thus it doesn’t occur to the authors that it’s actually very easy to portray a politician saying what everyone wants to hear. Just have him say what you want to hear. To portray a crafty Antichrist spinning words to deceive the entire world, have him say the kinds of things that would deceive you.

Sometimes the authors’ lack of empathy is due to a lack of imagination. But here — with their world as with their wives, with the masses as with the Mrs. — they avoid empathy because they regard it as impossible. Empathy works by remembering the ways that you’re just like everyone else, and the authors refuse to accept that they are.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* This is not a long trip. I looked it up. Palwaukee Airport is only about 7 miles from Mount Prospect.

Yes, they’ll be driving through a post-nuclear wasteland, but we’ve already seen that the roads are fine. The only after-effect of the nuclear attacks on Chicago’s highways seems to be that there’s less traffic than usual. And anyway that’s downtown, in Chicago itself. The city was attacked with nuclear weapons, not the suburbs. If things that happened in cities were in any way connected to life in the suburbs, then, why, suburban churches would have to change almost everything they’re doing. And that’s just silly.

Palwaukee Airport is a good 18 miles from downtown, so no problem there.

Oh, and Buck Williams is certainly the only person who decided to fly out of the smaller suburban airport after O’Hare was destroyed in the bombing. So no need to worry about crowds or a riotous mob-scene when they get there.

In real life, it’s not called “Palwaukee Airport” any more, by the way. It’s now “Chicago Executive Airport” — they changed the name about 10 years after Nicolae was written.

There may be a lesson there for anyone writing stories with a near-future setting. It’s probably best to avoid using the present-day names for any airports, stadiums, concert venues or convention halls. Those names are too likely to change, making your “future” seem oddly antiquated.

I’m not criticizing Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins for failing to foresee this name-change. It’s just a novel, after all, it’s not like the authors claim to be prophets or something. Oh, wait …

The fact that, 15 years after this book first came out, Palwaukee is now called “Chicago Executive” does not undermine the credibility of their prophecy. What does undermine their credibility as prophets is the fact that, 15 years later, the airport — and the rest of the world — is still here.

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  • LL

    Jeez … Yeah, women and their womany feelings, like compassion for the death and suffering of others. What a bunch of whiners. 

    No wonder God put men in charge. Only manly men who don’t give a shit what happens to other people should be running things. 

  • http://twitter.com/senorpez Senor Pez

    I continue to be stunned by the lack of empathy and human qualities found in the characters in these books… and how easy it is for Fred to showcase those lacks. One would think that a competent evangelical piece (which is what these are supposed to be, right?) would express a better message than, “Neener neener neener we told you.”

    Thanks for another great installment, Fred. Loving it as always, though I’ll be dead before you finish the series.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    A better writer might actually be able to make those personality defects work, and even make them part of the conflict. Two things you’d have to change. First, the good guys would actually have to do something – stopping the bad guy, exposing the bad guy’s schemes, saving people’s lives, whatever. Second, your leads would have to be a lot more distinct.

    One of the men is arrogant and rude in pursuit of good, the other one’s more of a white knight. Their methods come into conflict, they fight, but over time develop a bit of transferrence where the former softens a bit while the latter gains an edge. It’s not exactly original, but it’s better than trying to sympathize with two characters who are completely self-centered.

  • LL

    “and because penis” 

    My favorite thing I’ve read today.

  • GeniusLemur

    “this most sinister and unwise rebellion”
    That’s the absolute worst way to say it. Apart from being bizarre and unnatural, apart from the “unwise” part giving a sinster tint to your speech, it sounds really, really stupid

  • Jim Roberts

    Yes, whyever would one consider grief to be practical?

  • aunursa

    Chloe hobbled around on a cane, needing crutches but unable to manage them with her sprained wrist in a sling. That left Amanda to take Buck to the airport.

    This is clearly preparation for Book #4, when as a result of the Earthquake, Chloe suffers broken bones, a fractured skull, and assorted internal injuries.  And then during her recoverly, she insists that she be allowed to travel from Chicago to Israel.

  • hidden_urchin

    It’s not Nick with the mind mojo; it’s L&J. They actually managed to convince millions of people that this was worth reading.

  • GDwarf

     

    It’s not Nick with the mind mojo; it’s L&J. They actually managed to
    convince millions of people that this was worth reading.

    That’s because “Tell, don’t show” works. I used to be an uncritical reader: If the author said something was so, it was so, even if what actually happened didn’t match that. So I’d have actually seen Buck as a great journalist because that’s what the narration said.

    Amusingly, it was probably MST3K and such that broke me of that: Once you start making fun of bad movies you start training your brain to question what you’re enjoying, but, at least for me, it wasn’t an automatic thing. It was a learned skill.

    Now, that’s not to say I enjoyed Left Behind when I read it. In part I was too young, something like 12 or 14, but it also bored me to tears. I didn’t know why I found it boring, but I did. But then, my parent’s (and, at the time, my) theology is quite different from Ellenjay’s, so I didn’t have the “Yeah, right!” reaction to all the prophecy stuff, which can be quite powerful.

    So let’s say you don’t read overmuch, because most people don’t. Further, the stuff you can read is somewhat restricted by cultural norms and expectations. That won’t be true for everyone who reads these books, but the core audience isn’t even allowed to read books that have swearing or non-married romance in them, which rather limits their exposure. Let’s also say that you haven’t been trained to question everything you read and that, most likely having at least a bit of an authoritarian bent, you have a mind that doesn’t notice contradictions very well*, and the books keep dropping in bits and pieces of things you genuinely believe, it’s not hard to see why you might find these books at least tolerable, maybe even enjoyable, and then all your friends say they tolerate/enjoy them, too, so your opinion of them goes up…

    *Lots of studies showing this to be the case: The more die-hard an
    authoritarian you are, the less you notice contradictions, especially
    made by “your” side. There’s also a strong correlation between the
    target audience of these books and authoritarian tendencies

  • fraser

     This is a good point. There are lots of books I don’t read closely and errors fly past until reviewers point them out.

  • Rakka

    Let’s also say that you haven’t been trained to question everyanything you read

     

    Fixed.

  • flat

    sigh, I have to remember every good villain speech in existence so we can just remember how good they are when the writer isn’t a complete hack.

  • Turcano

     It doesn’t even need to be a villain speech, especially since the Antichrist is still pretending to be the good guy at this point.  Personally, I would have gone with something like a more modern version of Lincoln’s second inaugural address.

  • Starbeam

     There’s actually a gag about this effect in one of the Order of the Stick prequel books: the evil overlord Xykon enjoys terrible coffee more than delicious coffee, because drinking bad coffee makes you remember all the superior coffee you’ve ever had. (On that note, Xykon — a literal stick figure of a skeleton with a crown — is written so much better than virtually anyone in these books that it’s not even funny.)

  • Bificommander

     Oh my god, a rapture book with the Anti-Christ’s character copied shamelessly from Xykon: GENIUS!

    Now I want to slam Jenkin’s head on every page of the Start of Darkness book, shouting “This is how you write a charming character who’s rotten to the core!”

    Really, the ending of that book shows more terrifying evil on every panel than Nicolae shows in this entire snorefest of a series.

  • PatBannon

    “Huh. First you blast your brother, then you lie to me about it, now this? Did they have a big sale down at the Testicle Store or something?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

    To portray a crafty Antichrist spinning words to deceive the entire world, have him say the kinds of things that would deceive you.

    The problem with that is that if the Antichrist said things that would deceive LaJenkins, he would be indistinguishable from any of the Christianist GOP hucksters that LaJenkins and their readers have been voting for unthinkingly for the last thirty years. When Bush was President, I got a lot of mileage from pointing out that the city-sized embassy he was building in Iraqi desert looked a lot more like a New Babylon than anything else that had been proposed in my lifetime.

  • fraser

     And if they tried saying what they imagine the liberal unsaved want to hear, it would be a disaster.  “You have my permission to force Christian churches to celebrate gay marriage” or something like that.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    I’d like to quote from the lesson descriptions of CWG Publishing, which we were all recently mocking:

    What makes a character living and vibrant? Such characters endure the crucible of the story and emerge at the end a different person. Learn to let yours grow and change naturally.

    I wonder if Jenkins ever realized that this should apply to villains as well? Granted, Nicolae is basically a comic book villain, but there have been well-written comic book villains. “Evil” and “shallow” are not synonymous.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    Yet they’re afraid to allow him to be or even to seem charismatic or charming or eloquent.

    Possibly because he then might seem too much like certain evangelical preachers for L&J’s comfort?

  • aunursa

    That left Amanda to take Buck to the airport drive the car home from the airport.

  • GeniusLemur

    Nick “telling them what they want to hear” is him saying they’re going to rebuild, which is going to be a long, difficult, expensive process.
    a. Doesn’t sound much like pandering to me
    b. What else is he gonna say? “Oh, well, just leave everything in ruins, it’s not like those places were important?”

  • flat

    but now we are talking about speeches that changes everything, this week queen Beatrix announced that she will abdicate.

    So we had seven million people listening to her on the tv and the radio and the rest of the evening we had nothing else on but documentaries about her life and discussions what will happen next for the royal family.

    That was an big announcment in the Netherlands and compared to nicolae’s sad little speech it actually felt real.
    However we all expected it to happen sooner or later so it wasn’t such a big suprise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.kirby.940 Matthew Kirby

     Try multiply that by every leader in the world abdicating their position to Nick and his princes.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    “You cater to her feelings now.”

    Has any woman ever spoken this sentence, ever, outside the context of a paid couples therapy session?

  • thebewilderness

      “You cater to her feelings now.”

    Has any woman ever spoken this sentence, ever, outside the context of a paid couples therapy session?No, but since this is a book written by a man who does not listen to women it will contain what he thinks women say when the men are not listening. So it does not matter.

  • That Other Jean

    “Buck!” Amanda said in a scolding tone. “You cater to her feelings now. . . .”

    Yet more evidence that “cater to” in no way means “respect.”

  • fraser

     I’m reminded of an article from Focus on the Family i read a couple of years back, explaining that romance novels are evil, evil things because they present women with the absurd vision of loving husbands who will actually listen to their feelings–something which is, of course, quite impossible for real men. The specific term for the books was “emo porn” because they supposedly fill the same need in women that pron fulfills in men.

  • fraser

     There was also an article from David Brooks some years back that waffled on (it’s Brooks, after all) about how bookstores are completely gender-segregated with the Men’s Section holding books of adventure and the women’s section holding books about “feelings, I guess.” So i guess it’s not just LH&J who have issues.
    And yes, I know Brooks is full of shit, unless he assumes the SF and mystery and general fiction are all really “men’s section” and women only go and giggle over the romances.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea
  • Fusina

     Just read the article in the link. Only one thing to say here… THE HELL?

  • fraser

    Isn’t it though? And the writer is oblivious to the fact so much romance fiction involves white-hot sex and not just snuggly feeling-sharing.

  • Fusina

     What gets me about this sort of stuff is how the women are portrayed as being both uncontrollably passionate and totally passionless, simultaneously.

    I went and read the other bit about princesses and heroes, and truth be told, I didn’t want to be Cinderella, I wanted to be the fairy godmother. Told a therapist that once and was told that showed I was mentally disturbed (I was, but I still don’t see that as a symptom) because a normal girl would want to be Cinderella.

    Yeah, yeah, I’m not normal either. I take great pride in that now.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I wanted to be the fairy godmother and Cinderella, both. I made up stories about how the fairy godmother or other female mentor character taught the heroine how to also be a fairy godmother or etc. after the heroine came back from her honeymoon. I wanted to be a princess who would become queen when she was older, married to the handsome prince and having magical adventures (some with him and some without), all of it. 

    I’m angry that we teach girls it’s either-or. Like if you’re a woman, you can either have romance OR you can do awesome non-romance stuff. It’s a pervasive lie.

  • Jenny Islander

    Wonder what your old therapist would have thought of me?  I always wanted to be the princess.  Princess Leia.  With a blaster.

  • Fusina

     Well, DUH! Who didn’t? She didn’t just wait to be rescued, she shot back! And she took charge! Over the snarky pirate dude! She didn’t even back down from the Wookie!

    My mum never did understand why I loved the first Star Wars movie so much. She thought it was shallow and derivative (okay, it was, but it had Leia!)

  • fraser

     speaking as a guy, I thought she was awesome too.

  • fraser

     Of course I also enjoyed Barbra Streisand sweeping Ryan o’Neal out of his comfort zone in What’s Up Doc?

  • Fusina

     One of my favorite films EVER! Also one I waited to come out on DVD and didn’t wait for it to reach the sale price mark. Realized today that I need to find a copy of Life of Brian on DVD (have it on video but that is so last century) so I can make the kids watch it. I have a list of films I’ve been making the kids watch, the hardest was to get my son to start watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. After we got to the monolith on the moon, he didn’t even want to take a potty break. Hee. Still think it has the best title scene and theme of all time.

  • Lori

     

      Of course I also enjoyed Barbra Streisand sweeping Ryan o’Neal out of his comfort zone in What’s Up Doc? 

    I love that movie.

    “Eunice, we’re going to have to put you in a home.”

    At the start of my one unfortunate semester of Christian college they showed it at movie night. I was happy to see it again, no one else had ever heard of it and I ended up being the only one who laughed. I should have known to just pack my bags and head home right then. I could have saved myself 4 months of misery and a killer case of mono.

  • fraser

     Yes, that was a baaaad sign.
    I think my favorite line (not verbatim) is still “Snakes, you see, have a deathly fear of …. tile!”

  • Lori

    I have a soft spot for Judy telling Howard that she knows she’s different, but she’s going to try to be the same. When Howard asks the same as what her response is “The same as people who aren’t different.”

    I also have a fondness for “Don’t you dare strike that brave, unbalanced woman.

    I have got to get a copy of that on DVD. It has been way too long since it turned up on the Saturday afternoon movie.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Oh, thanks for reminding me of that movie!  I loved it when I saw it, but it never showed up on cable anytime I was watching and somehow I never thought to look for it on DVD.

  • fraser

     I taped it off the year years ago so I have it handy when I itch to watch it again.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Seconded. Princess Leia was smart and feisty and generally awesome. Plus when you grew into the adolescent phase there was the bonus that she ends up with early 80s Harrison Ford.

  • Lori

    Told a therapist that once and was told that showed I was mentally disturbed (I was, but I still don’t see that as a symptom) because a
    normal girl would want to be Cinderella.  

    That is so upsetting. It totally made me do the Kermit the Frog hand flail. Your therapist was a very, very bad therapist. Aside from being stupid and untrue, that”s just not something a therapist should ever say to a client. That person should not have been allowed to practice. [Kermit hands]

  • Fusina

    It took me a long time to trust therapists again. I’ve gotten to the point where I can get help when I need it, and am also getting to the point where I can both self diagnose (things are going wonky in your head) and solve (this is the episode in your past you are dealing with and work on how to proceed from here). But yes. He was an RTC type–This I knew, but didn’t know enough to run like hell away from–long story.

  • Lori

    I am so sorry that you ever had to deal with that. It was not your job to know enough to run. It was the job of the licensing board and his colleagues to know that he shouldn’t be practicing. Of course if he was an RTC all his colleagues probably were too. Ugh. I’m glad that you’ve been able to get past it.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I wanted to be a princess. Wonder Woman, specifically.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    600+ words and Coughlin never once even attempts to answer the question the original letter asked.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    they supposedly fill the same need in women that pron fulfills in men

    Well:

    1) Most romance novels these days have lots and lots of sex.
    2) As with men and porn, most women don’t read romance novels, or do so only very occasionally. And men read romance novels too — sadly I only have anecdotal evidence here, which tells me just as many men like romance novels as women.
    3) Women like what we normally call porn (movies that are about people in them having sex) nearly as much as men do — over 40% of porn is bought by women. Women are also directing a lot of porn these days.

    So, not a surprise, that article-writer had no idea what they were talking about from a strictly factual standpoint.

  • fraser

     The blogger Digby made the same point: The men in romance novels are providing hot sex just as much as they are emotional nurturing. But I’m sure that would freak Mr. Emo Porn out even more if he knew.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Actually men in romance novels are very rarely emotionally nurturing. They aren’t there to provide emotional nurturing: they’re there to provide hot sex. And sadly, romance novels are as bad about showing how emotional nurturing and hot sex go together as nearly every other form of media is in our society. Oddly, video games seem to be better at this than books or movies. I think this is possibly due to how much story-heavy video games have been influenced by Japanese media, especially Japanese video games, which in turn has been heavily influenced (to say the least) by anime. 

  • fraser

     I actually see  a fair amount of nurturance in romance novels, though I admit my reading is a small sample of the total out there

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    You must read better ones than those I’ve been reading. I’ve been trying to expand my knowledge of romance novels, but have been unable to finish any. I keep running into ones in which the hero rapes the heroine, but it’s never acknowledged as rape. I’d even take one in which the hero rapes the heroine and it’s explicitly called rape and then he reforms, rather than the non-acknowledgement that consent is a thing that I’ve been seeing. Do you have any recommendations?

  • fraser

    Are you reading recent novels or older ones? There was a phase in the eighties when several lines required the first sex be rape in some fashion.
    It’s been a while since I’ve read much (it was much easier when I worked a bookstore) but Georgette Heyer’s regencies are a lot of fun (The Grand Sophie in particular). Some of Nora Roberts are good and also Betina Krahn’s. Julie Kenner’s Aphrodite’s Kiss and its sequels are great as a series superhero romances. Obviously YMMV

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I’ve been reading recent ones, set in the modern day, which is why I did not expect this. The last I gave up on was a Nora Roberts one published in 2012. It is not acknowledged that the hero rapes the heroine; it’s supposedly just hot sex. But it’s not, it is rape, she is specifically trying to protest and he does not let her speak, then he uses his strength to overpower her and do what he wants. Oh and this is a guy whom the reader is supposed to believe is super-sensitive (but who is actually a controlling stalker and rapist.)

    I would greatly prefer the old-fashioned trend of having the hero rape the heroine that *acknowledged* that it was rape.

  • Lori

    How do you feel about steampunk? I’m enjoying Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series and I don’t think there have been any consent problems. I just finished the 3rd one last month and there definitely weren’t any in it. The heroine is very good about saying what she does and doesn’t want and the hero listens to her. As a bonus the heroine is from a women-only village and there’s a nice tolerance message there (which I didn’t find too heavy-handed, although I suppose some people would).

    Double Down by Katie Poter (which I think is ebook only) deals with consent from the other angle. The hero has a lot of shame about his kink (role play) and has trouble getting it through his head that yes means yes. The heroine leaves him and won’t take him back until he pulls his head out of his ass. I won my copy in a contest and was really surprised by how much I liked it. It’s not my usual thing but I thought the author did a nice job dealing with the difference between privacy and shame and the fact that when your partner is into it being ashamed or not taking yes, as yes is insulting, not respectful.

    Before I unload any more reqs, are there some particular subgenres or kinds of stories that you like or have no interest in?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Before I unload any more reqs, are there some particular subgenres or kinds of stories that you like or have no interest in?

    I don’t like magic on Earth at any point in history in novels for adults, whether contemporary or historical. (No idea why, I just cannot finish books with that as their setting.) I do not like male-only pov in any romantic novels. I cannot stand when women or girls (or anyone) are insulted for enjoying and excelling at traditionally  feminine pursuits. 

    Otherwise I like pretty much anything that’s written well. 

  • Lori

    Do you count steampunk and magic on earth? If no,t I would suggest trying the Brook series. The first one is The Iron Duke.

    I’ll did around in my reading records and see if anything else jumps out at me that I think is worth passing along.

  • Isabel C.

     Ah, yeah, my recommendations are probably not so much your thing, then: I tend to be very much AU-with-magic in both my reading and writing tastes. The historicals I mentioned are good and non-paranormal, though.

    And yeah. Rape kink as kink is fine. Rape as normalized That’s The Way It Is because Good Girls Don’t Want It On Their Own makes my teeth hurt.

  • P J Evans

     One of my favorite AU-with_magic is Stealing the Elf-King’s Rose, which is available as an e-book (no DRM) here.

  • Isabel C.

    Excellent book! I myself found a largish part of the plot hard to follow, because it involves the stock market, but I loved the rest.

  • P J Evans

     I think the e-book version may be a little clearer on that part of it (it’s the ‘author’s cut’ version), but I’d have to do a side-by-side comparison to be sure.

  • Carstonio

    Rape kink as kink is fine. Rape as normalized That’s The Way It Is because Good Girls Don’t Want It On Their Own makes my teeth hurt.

    Me too. That was my point about the historical romances I read, and why I stopped at two.

  • Carstonio

    What was the purpose of that editorial policy? Did the editors assume that readers would slut-shame the heroine? The tactic seemed to perpetuate the old myth that a woman will inevitably fall in love with her first partner.

  • fraser

    I think a lot of it came out of the school of thought that women want romances about being dominated by alpha males. And I know at least a few women who enjoy hot rape scenes in fiction.

  • Carstonio

    The two examples I’ve read seemed to reflect the good girl myth. She can’t have desires on her own, these have to be awakened by the seduction or rape.

  • Lori

     

    Did the editors assume that readers would slut-shame the heroine?  

    This is part of it. Even now there are plenty of women (and I’m not just talking about readers of Christian fiction) who can be terribly judgey about a heroine who frankly enjoys sex. It’s the subject of much ongoing debate on the blogs. The tide is definitely moving away from that, but there’s still a market for it.

    Fraser is right about the rest of it. Some women like it. Some actually enjoy rape fantasy, which is their deal and they’re as much entitled to their kink as anyone else.

    My issue is that I think there are still a scary number of people who aren’t exactly into rape fantasy, they’re just so steeped in rape culture that they don’t understand good consent and therefore don’t recognize the lack. That’s not a kink, that’s just fucked up and bullshit and that’s what I find upsetting.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    That’s not a kink, that’s just fucked up and bullshit

    Yep. I have the rape fantasy kink myself, but it is *fantasy*. And if it is not explicitly acknowledged as rape: one, that doesn’t trigger the kink. Two, it is seriously disturbing, because too many people don’t understand consent in the first place, and think “he covered his mouth with hers so she could not protest, used his greater weight, size and strength to put her where he wanted her, and proceeded to do as he liked” is perfectly okay. And that if the woman or girl is aroused or confused at any point, that somehow magically means she consented. 

    Also, I don’t like rape fantasy in anything mainstream. I want it cordoned off into pure fantasy erotica, no ties to the real world whatsoever. I write a little myself and will never share it with anyone but my husband. I have nightmares of some MRA jackass quoting me to “prove” that women really want to be raped. Besides, I already get enough flack from certain internet feminists for having this kink in the first place.

  • Tricksterson

    Oh I anna be big time mainstream author
    And talk with Ellen and Oprah on TV
    Oh I wanna be a big time ainstrea author
    And all I gotta do is write romantically

    I’ll set my book in a time romantical
    The type of place my readers would like to be
    With flashing swords and pirate hordes fanatical
    And all of it done of course romantically

    I’ll write myself a heroine thats virtuous
    A sweet young thing who’s heads not filled with fluff
    She’ll have a nature feminine and nurturous
    With a hidden yen for dark and sensual stuff

    I’ll write myself a tall dark handsome hero 
    Named Billy Shane, from whom she can’t escape
    She’ll say she hates this cruel eyed rogue so strong  and virile
    But we’ll know it’s really love right fom first rape

    Oh I wanna be a big time mainstream author
    And all I gotta do is write romantic
    The plots are crap but the money’s fantastic
    All I gotta do is write romantically!

  • Lori

    I keep running into ones in which the hero rapes the heroine, but it’s
    never acknowledged as rape. I’d even take one in which the hero rapes
    the heroine and it’s explicitly called rape and then he reforms, rather
    than the non-acknowledgement that consent is a thing that I’ve been
    seeing. Do you have any recommendations?  

    Are you reading mostly historicals, especially older ones? I rarely run into unacknowledged rape any more, especially in contemporaries. Which is good because that’s an auto-wallbanger.

  • Jenny Islander

    I used to just love LaVyrle Spencer’s romances.  She has loads of plot, fun descriptions of historical periods and subcultures, and no “romantic” rape whatsoever.  She does get a bit purple and silly when she starts describing “interesting revelations of the marriage bed,” but most of the time she just writes good vivid prose.  NOTE that she does sometimes depict triggery stuff, always realistically and sometimes graphically.  I have ROT13ed spoilers if needed.

    Recommendations:Morning Glory, my absolute favorite and a book I still turn to when I’m feeling blue.  It’s about two people in 1930s Georgia who have nowhere to go but up.  Avoid the movie version; it chops up the story something awful and is a total waste of Christopher Reeve.  Gur ivyynva zheqref uvf ybatgvzr zvfgerff naq nggrzcgf gb senzr gur ureb.The Endearment is about a nice 19th-century Swedish homesteader who writes away for a nice Swedish farmer’s daughter fresh off the boat in New York, but gets an Irish-American city girl and her little brother.  From her viewpoint, it’s a fish-out-of-water story as she struggles to adapt to life in a Swedish farm colony. Gurl terj hc va n juberubhfr naq ylvat nobhg ure vqragvgl jnf gurve bayl jnl bhg.  Haorxabjafg gb ure yvggyr oebgure, fur unq gb unir svefg-gvzr frk jvgu n wbua gb trg gur zbarl sbe gur genva.Years is also about an adult farmer and a teenager, but in the 19teens.  This time she’s a schoolteacher and he thinks he’s never going to get married again–for good reasons, but of course there’s a happy ending with wedding bells.  It’s also a love letter to the Great Plains.  N grrantr fghqrag nggrzcgf gb encr n yvggyr tvey, ohg vf pnhtug naq chavfurq.That Camden Summer is set a few years later, in Maine.  The heroine is a divorced public health nurse and her love interest is a local widower.  Together they struggle past the stigma of divorce and other, worse perils. N ybpny “cvyyne bs gur pbzzhavgl” vf n frevny encvfg.  Ur unf nggnpxrq arneyl rirel jbzna va Pnzqra naq ur nggnpxf gur urebvar nf jryy.  Gur jbzra onaq gbtrgure gb gnxr uvz qbja.

    Those are the first that come to mind.  Gotta go, preschooler is poopy.

  • Jenny Islander

    AGH MY PARAGRAPHS!

  • Isabel C.

     Heh. Well, not to do the blatant plug thing, but I like to think I’ve been pretty good about consent in mine. ;)

  • Isabel C.

     Also–damn you, keyboard–Galen Foley, Susanna Fraser, and Rose Lerner have been good for historical stuff. For modern, I like Emma Holly and Angela Knight, which are heavy on the paranormal–which I like, but may not be your thing–and also on the sexually-empowered women, so that’s good.

  • Lori

    Emma Holly seems to do mostly paranormalish stuff now, but in the early days of her career she did erotic contemporaries. AFAIK they’re all still in print.  And yes, she knows the difference between kink and lack of consent. In fact one of her books is about a woman who bails on her first kinky relationship because the guy is over the line and she recognizes that she needs to GTFO.

  • cyllan

    I second Isabel C’s blatant plug, and toss in a strong recommend for Courtney Milan’s historicals as well — all of which (as I recall) operate on the Enthusiastic Consent level.

  • Isabel C.

     Thanks!
    And yeah, I need to find some Milan soon. I’ve heard good things.

  • P J Evans

     That’s probably why I’m sitting three feet from a couple of them. *g*

  • Isabel C.

     Aw, thank you!

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    You could try heading over to Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and take a look at some of their reviews.  You can sort them by grade, and see if anything with, say, a B+ or higher strikes your fancy.  They have no patience for the Old Skool rape era, and save their funniest D- and F-grade reviews for such books.

  • http://twitter.com/Jenk3 Jen K

    Nora Roberts, Kay Hooper, Judith McWilliams, Kristine Grayson, Janet Evanovich, Linda Cajio … ok, my romances are dated, but they’re reprinting lots of Hooper’s and Evanovich’s early romances.

  • Lori

    IME it depends a lot on what subgenres you read and how old the books are. Alpholes definitely still abound, but they’re not that hard to avoid. Outside UF there is still a lot of gender essentialism, almost all of it unexamined, but there are also plenty of heroes who are supportive and nurturing. Of course there’s also a lot of stuff that kind of looks a little bit like nurturing, but is really just taking over and running things for the little lady’s own good, so there’s that.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I could see it if the wife/girlfriend were pregnant, and was just showing signs of being moody. Something like “Don’t let it get to you when she snaps, it’s just the hormones.”

    Or maybe if the woman is going through some sort of crisis, and I were advising the guy to just be there and be supportive.

    But as a general marriage rule, it’s all sorts of fail.

  • JustoneK

    Yanno what else has occurred to me re: phonies?  That this series would’ve had more potential as a thriller wherein no one knows AT ALL for sure if Nicolae is in fact the AntiChrist at all.  And he’s extremely polarizing, but the rest of the checklist starts going ahead, and conspiracy theories among the people actually within the story would abound.

    Vaguing up lots of those details might’ve helped rly.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    That may have occurred to Jenkins, at least initially. The first book had multiple antichrist candidates, but the whole thing was really poorly done and it was plainly obvious who the real bad guy was. I suspect it made more sense when this was a trilogy. Shortening the story wouldn’t have made it good, but a tighter narrative would at least make it a lot less boring.

  • JustoneK

    So like all decent concepts in this series, run into the ground, paved over, and ignored.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Vaguing up lots of those details might’ve helped rly.

    A what a great twist it would have been if the seeming-heroes did depose Nicolae for fear of him being the Antichrist and installed a seeming-RTC in his place, and while everyone’s high-fiving, have Ray & Buck wondering how they even could have pulled it off … if it’s all God’s plan, they’re shouldn’t have, unless pulling it off is God’s plan, and OMG! Fitzhugh is the Antichrist* leading to a schism between the RTCs who now rule the world and the Real RTCs who go underground.

    *Or God just doesn’t exist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobby.herrington.1 Boze Herrington

     Thank you! Words fail me

  • CharityB

     I agree completely. In the first book, Jenkins plays around with the idea of an uncertain Antichrist — some of the characters thought it was the businessman Jonathan Stonagal while others suspected Carpathia. They didn’t go anywhere at all with it before Carpathia executes Stonagal at the UN, but if they had stretched out the drama a little longer, with multiple potential Antichrists each of whom appears to fit some but not all of the checklist requirements, it would have added more suspense.

    Not that suspense was a critical goal of Jenkins at any point in this series, but still…

  • Kit

    Now, Fred, you know it’s not just a lack of empathy. If Jenkins were to write a political speech for Nicolae that appealed to himself, he’d give away the game. Y’know, the one where his favored religious leaders, pundits, and politicians say whatever appeals to the basest natures of their demographic, barely disguised in (anti)Christian values.

  • Kit

    Damn, Alan Alexander got to it already while I was herding nieces back out of my office.

  • walden

    Wait just a minute.  How did they get the Range Rover out of the tree?

  • JustoneK

    DIVINE MAGIC.

  • Kit

     It fell out of the tree, nearly crushing Buck. I just still can’t figure out *how*. It sounded like it was going to land on its top, but instead it landed on its tires and was completely fine.

  • Ken

     

    It fell out of the tree, nearly crushing Buck. I just still can’t figure
    out *how*. It sounded like it was going to land on its top, but instead
    it landed on its tires and was completely fine.

    Truly, the Lord moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.

  • Tricksterson

    That wasn’t a “fall” it was an assassination attempt.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Ah, the Range Rover had AI, then? :P

  • Lori

     IIRC it basically fell out.

  • GeniusLemur

    And landed on its wheels, and, apart from cosmetic scratches on the grill, turned out to be undamaged.

  • Magic_Cracker

    “And, lo! The tree bough boweth to his feet like a wife submitting to her lord’s will and delivered unto him the Rover of Ranges. Because Buck was just that awesome.” Book of Buck, 3:12

  • http://twitter.com/BillHiers Bill Hiers

    Okay, I’m faving this and saving it. You’ll get all credit whenever I show it to someone, Magic Cracker.

  • banancat

     

    Wait just a minute.  How did they get the Range Rover out of the tree?

    Respawn point.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You know, the Quake analogy is an excellent one.

    Rayford and Buck are using the in-‘verse cheat codes. :P

  • http://twitter.com/BillHiers Bill Hiers

    It slid down when the branch broke and landed on its wheels right side up.

  • http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/ Marie Brennan

    But here — with their world as with their wives, with the masses as with the Mrs. —

    I just have to say this is a beautiful bit of writing.

  • Carstonio

    The lesson here seems to be, roughly, “Husbands, cater to her feelings
    and make her think you’re really listening when your wife talks about …
    oh, you know … whatever it is that wives talk about when they talk
    about all that woman-ish stuff.”

    This type of sexism seems more repugnant to me than the old Hollywood potboilers that showed women as hysterical in the face of danger. Unlikely that the scriptwriters and directors were attempting to illustrate an ideal for gender or marital relations.

    What are your opinions on John Gray and Deborah Tannen? When I first read their books, they didn’t strike me as gender essentialist, but that was some years ago and I may have missed it the first time.

    His rise, we are told, is due entirely to his charisma, his
    preternatural charm and superlative eloquence. Yet they’re afraid to
    allow him to be or even to seem charismatic or charming or eloquent.

    Would it be clichéd to have Nicolae reveal a little of his true nature amid his eloquence, something that his audience wouldn’t notice but the readers would?

  • GeniusLemur

    I wouldn’t say it would be cliched. It might be, depending on how it was handled; I’ve seen some things along those lines that are painfully obvious, corny, or shoehorned in.
    Still even attempting that would be more subtlety than Jenkins could ever handle.

  • fraser

     John Gray believes that the reason there’s so much violence in the world is that women no longer believe it’s their duty to have sex with their husbands, even when they don’t feel like it. No I’m not making that up.

  • Carstonio

    Yuck. I must have missed that in Men are from Penis Planet, because I would have likely tossed the book aside in disgust. That’s what I did with Love for a Lifetime, which I started reading because I hadn’t heard of Dobson.

  • fraser

     No, it’s not in the book, it’s in an interview he gave some years after the book became big.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    John Gray believes that the reason there’s so much violence in the world is that women no longer believe it’s their duty to have sex with their husbands, even when they don’t feel like it.

    But there’s less violence than there used to be. Which means even this moronic argument is arse-backwards.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    Re: John Grey and Deborah Tannen:

    Agree or disagree with her theories, Deborah Tannen has an actual PhD and does actual research on which her books are based.  (I haven’t read anything by her since I took Women’s Studies in college, but IIRC no, she’s not a gender essentialist, she thinks men and women tend to learn different patterns of communication as they grow up.)

    John Grey has a PhD from a non-accredited school that he got via correspondence course and as far as I can tell has done no real research whatsoever, just regurgitated his pre-existing beliefs out onto paper.

    So I think the resemblance is superficial.

  • Carstonio

    Even if gender essentialism weren’t to patriarchy what intelligent design is to creationism, the concept itself would still be deeply suspect. Putting aside the variations in behavior within the sexes, there’s no way to determine which sex-specific traits are innate and which are learned, because we don’t have a control group of people raised without societal influences. 

    What first bugged me about Gray was his characterization of sex differences as a romantic yin-yang fairy tale. That arguably enabled the homophobic idea of same-sex relationships as biologically and psychologically invalid.

  • Dan Audy

    Putting aside the variations in behavior within the sexes, there’s no way to determine which sex-specific traits are innate and which are learned, because we don’t have a control group of people raised without societal influences.

    Obviously scientific literature is different, but for the purpose of a relationship book does it really matter whether particular traits are innate or learned?  It seems to me that for a book written to help people within a particular culture at a particular point in time is more relevant to write about the common experience of dealing with a gender rather than the core of what a genders identity is.  Ascribing traits to nature rather their societal causes is bunk writing and most of these books massively overgeneralize but it strikes me that regardless of the cause of the behaviour talking about how men are prone to repressing feelings and how to manage that sort of behaviour in a relationship would be useful advice.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    Obviously scientific literature is different, but for the purpose of a relationship book does it really matter whether particular traits are innate or learned?

    Maybe not, but I’ve never really understood the “Men are like this, Women are like that” relationship book anyway.  As a description of cultural patterns (or linguistic patterns, like Tannen’s books are) it would make sense assuming it’s based on actual research and not the stereotypes of the author.

    But by and large I think differences between the genders are smaller than differences within the genders.  It doesn’t seem to me like reading a generalized description of “women” or “men” — even if accurate — is going to help you much a particular woman or man.  Trying to figure out how to get along with your spouse by reading sweeping statements about their gender seems kind of like trying to find out how tall they are by looking up the average height for their gender.  You’ve got them right there, why not just measure them?

    I mean, I can see SOME such books being helpful to the extent that they might open one’s eyes to different ways of dealing with the world, some of which might be true of your spouse (Grey’s books, I think not so much).  But I don’t know that drawing these traits along gender lines clarifies things rather than obscures them.

    (N of one here, but I tell people who have only met my mother, that if they want to know what my father is like, imagine taking away all the parts of me that are like my mother and what’s left is kind of what my father is like.  It would work the other way, too.  I’m not saying there haven’t been cultural influences because clearly there have been, but think there’s a great big helping of DNA there and I don’t mean my possession of two X chromosomes.)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    My favorite is always the assertion these books make that women love to talk about their feelings. My mother likes to complain that I’m just like my father in that getting either of us to talk about our feelings is harder than pulling teeth. And she’s right!)

    I was a decade into adulthood before a friend told me that when people are complaining about a problem to friends they’re not actually looking for suggestions to fix it. Apparently complaining-to-vent is a “feminine trait” and focusing on solutions is a “masculine trait” so I got that one backwards.

    So now when a friend starts telling me about some problem they’re having I clarify–are you looking for sympathy or ideas or both–and we’re fine.

  • Carstonio

    I find myself focusing on solutions, but most likely because I’m uncomfortable when people are angry or sad or upset. My impulse is to take away whatever is causing the negative emotions in that person. A few times I’ve found myself becoming frustrated with someone when I perceive him or her to be causing those emotions in someone else, a variant on “Stop making Mommy/Daddy mad!”

  • Münchner Kindl

     Which is not a male, but a human reaction. We want to help and make the badness go away because the sadness is affecting us.

    But the best help we can give is often just standing there and bearing it. It is not easy, but if you know that people = humans need this at certain times, you can try harder.

  • Carstonio

    Really? You mean other people become fearful in those situations? Where their impulse is to either walk on eggshells or avoid the person entirely? Where they start imagining the person becoming violent or catatonically depressed, even if the person has no history of either?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    So now when a friend starts telling me about some problem they’re having I clarify–are you looking for sympathy or ideas or both–and we’re fine.

    I have the same problem. I can understand the need to vent, but when a friend is venting for the 25th time about a recurring problem, I can’t help but think I’d be a better friend if I offered possible solutions that I know they have not tried. Especially if said solution is, “tell the person you’re venting about what you just told me.” There are only so many sympathetic noises I seem able to make these days.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     My usual approach to this is to say “That sounds awful. So what do you want to do about it?” in some form or another.

    I can usually tell from the reply whether this is a “Yeah, getting around without a car can be tough” moment, a “Have you considered getting a ZipCar membership?” moment, or a “Do you need a ride?” moment.

  • j_bird

     Apparently complaining-to-vent is a “feminine trait” and focusing on solutions is a “masculine trait”

    I’m trying to think back to overheard conversations between men in which one of the guys is talking about some problem.  I’m pretty sure that for every “Have you tried [solution]?”, I’ve heard several instances of “Yeah man, that sucks. [shakes head]  Shit…”

  • Carstonio

    That was my response as well, but I like your wording far better than mine.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    I mean, I can see SOME such books being helpful to the extent that they
    might open one’s eyes to different ways of dealing with the world, some
    of which might be true of your spouse

    What I found helpful about Tannen’s books was
    pointing out how much of “typical” behaviour was unconcious
    that neither style of talking – passive vs active, indirect vs. direct – was better than the other; some are better in certain contexts, but not generally.

    While I didn’t find myself in the descriptions of the typical woman, there are times when I did want to vent and not get advice. Realizing this made it possible to clearly explain to my friend – and in turn try to recognize when he wants sympathy and when he wants advice.

  • Carstonio

    The issue with the idea of innate gender behavior is that it pushes guilt onto people whose behavior doesn’t conform to gender, where they come to believe that something is wrong with them. Since “gaydar” is driven mostly by assumptions about nonconforming behavior, the concept of innateness also treats homosexuality as abnormal.
    Plus, it’s a handy excuse for jerks to claim that they are just acting like nature made them. I’ve seen this mostly from men, but there are probably some women who use the same excuse. 

    Causes aside, I doubt that the common experience of dealing with a gender is all that useful for specific partners. It doesn’t take into account the individual differences in upbringings. A brother and sister could show identical repressing because their parents had this personality as well. It’s far too easy for someone to frame all of a spouse’s behavior in gender terms and assume that this explains everything. 

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Since “gaydar” is driven mostly by assumptions about nonconforming
    behavior, the concept of innateness also treats homosexuality as
    abnormal.

    This reminds me of my experience visiting Brazil, where practically all the men pinged my gaydar, mostly because they were comfortable with a level of physical closeness and interaction that men in the U.S. typically find inappropriate outside of a sexual relationship.

  • banancat

     The really interesting thing about gaydar is that among men, a lot of things that are viewed as homoerotic actually look a lot more like dominance displays through the eyes of anthropologist.  This really makes itself known in military culture where it’s a bunch of young men who come together as strangers and have to start their socialization from the very beginning.  Same deal with fraternities.  I was once at a party of military guys where they took turns spanking each other’s bare butts which I have never seen at other types of parties.

    It’s also something I see in the boyband One Direction, which I know way too much about for an adult woman.  But they were all complete strangers grouped together on the X Factor and everyone likes to call them gay, but what I see with all the gentle touching is the betas ingratiating themselves to the alpha boy of the group, and when he reciprocates it’s to show the others that one of them has increased in status.  Statistically, it’s likely that one of the members is gay and although I have no gaydar, if I had to choose I’d pick the one that rarely even participates in these displays at all.

    It also ends up that a lot of cultures that are especially misogynist tend to have more of these homoerotic displays between men because dominance hierarchy is more important, like when GWB held hands with men in oil-producing companies in the Middle East.  I don’t know if Brazil fits into this model because I don’t know how misogynist their culture is relative to the United States.

  • banancat

     The really interesting thing about gaydar is that among men, a lot of things that are viewed as homoerotic actually look a lot more like dominance displays through the eyes of anthropologist.  This really makes itself known in military culture where it’s a bunch of young men who come together as strangers and have to start their socialization from the very beginning.  Same deal with fraternities.  I was once at a party of military guys where they took turns spanking each other’s bare butts which I have never seen at other types of parties.

    It’s also something I see in the boyband One Direction, which I know way too much about for an adult woman.  But they were all complete strangers grouped together on the X Factor and everyone likes to call them gay, but what I see with all the gentle touching is the betas ingratiating themselves to the alpha boy of the group, and when he reciprocates it’s to show the others that one of them has increased in status.  Statistically, it’s likely that one of the members is gay and although I have no gaydar, if I had to choose I’d pick the one that rarely even participates in these displays at all.

    It also ends up that a lot of cultures that are especially misogynist tend to have more of these homoerotic displays between men because dominance hierarchy is more important, like when GWB held hands with men in oil-producing companies in the Middle East.  I don’t know if Brazil fits into this model because I don’t know how misogynist their culture is relative to the United States.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     I don’t have much of an opinion about Brazillian misogyny. Possibly relevant is that it’s not so much that the displays were homoerotic as that they involved a lot more casual touching, independent of gender. And the status element is everpresent, of course, though not really any more so than at home, it just jumps out at me more.

  • Trixie_Belden

      Same deal with fraternities. I was once at a party of military guys where they took turns spanking each other’s bare butts which I have never seen at other types of parties.

    OK, my perspective may have been jaundiced by the fact that when I first got on the Internet I was utterly fascinated by all the varieties of free porn fetish sites there were – but it never crossed those guys minds’ that those are acts that some might consider to be sexually charged? 

    The really interesting thing about gaydar is that among men, a lot of things that are viewed as homoerotic actually look a lot more like dominance displays through the eyes of anthropologist

    But can’t it be both?  I’ve (anecdotally) come across some examples of men who express intense bigotry toward gay men;  these same men, when turning to express hostility or contempt for some other man (who is not known by these bigoted men to be gay) will express their contempt in the strangest terms, terms that seem to me to have a strong sexual interpretation, and I have to mentally ask them this question – “if you did the things you were threatening to do to that guy would that turn you on?”

    That must have been quite a party.   

  • Carstonio

    The idea of spanking as sexually charged wouldn’t have occurred to me without popular culture.

    Maybe for many men, the sexual and dominance impulses are the same, where they view sex itself as a form of domination. That meme is rampant in male language about sex, which views women as game to be hunted.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    it never crossed those guys minds’ that those are acts that some might consider to be sexually charged?

    I can’t speak for the particular individuals, of course, but IME it certainly occurs to folks like them. Queer/kinky folk are frequently blamed by practitioners for taking such “innocent” practices and turning them into something non-innocent by associating them with sex. When I’m centered, I find this profoundly funny.

  • Lori

     

    but it never crossed those guys minds’ that those are acts that some might consider to be sexually charged? 

    My observations is, no most of them don’t. It’s very context specific. If they saw guys doing that in some other context (not frat brothers or army buddies) it would scream gay to them, but in that context it’s just how things are. It’s sort of like family. Everyone’s family has weird shit they do or say (I’m not talking about things that are toxic or abusive, just weird) that family members don’t think of as odd because that’s just what they do. Certain context do, to a significant degree, create their own reality.

    Which is not to say that there aren’t guys involved who are, let’s just say not a Kinsey 0.

  • Münchner Kindl

     Well there is a big difference: if the behaviour is inborn instead of learned, it will be difficult to impossible to change, whereas learned behaviour can change.

    This is also why the argument that we don’t have control groups is wrong: we have different cultures with different attitudes and expectations on how a “typcial” man and woman behave, act, feel – and we see people showing very wide variety in fundamental gender-specific behaviour across cultures.

    I think it was one of Deborah Tannens books where she cited “attitude towards money and finances”: in US culture, women are perceived as having difficulty adding up a checkbook, whereas in Japan, husbands hand their money over to the wife because everybody knows that men are too dumb to  handle long-term investment. Women do that.

    That’s also where Tannen’s books, as scientist and serious writer, work: because she describes learned behaviour, there are differences not only among genders, but among cultures, and always individuals who fall out of the norm. Esp. in a culturally mixed country like the US, various sub-norms in different regions given interesting spectrums.

    And the value for a lot of things is the first step of recognizing what happens subconsciously, because it applies to both genders – to all humans – that sometimes we want somebody to listen in sympathy without offering a solution (or trying to one-up with a similar story), and at other times, practical advice is necessary.

    Also, the indirect/direct speech is not only among genders or in some cultures, but also between powerful and powerless people, so even men sometimes use indirect speech. Knowing that some individuals – because of cultural/ gender socializition – tend to use very direct/ indirect speech means you can better phrase and decipher when talking with them, instead of just getting frustrated that they are “always blunt and direct/ never say what they really mean” – neither style is better, and some people just have preferences.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I think it was one of Deborah Tannens books where she cited “attitude
    towards money and finances”: in US culture, women are perceived as
    having difficulty adding up a checkbook,

    Actually it is cultural motif in the USA and Canada for some relationships that the man is the breadwinner, and the woman is the household manager. So while the man earns the paycheck the woman is the one who, at the end of the day, has to balance the household accounts.

    This is what gives rise to almost certain conflict in these relationships where men complain that their wife “nixed the new toy”, etc.

  • Münchner Kindl

     That the husband is the breadwinner and the wife “manages” the household doesn’t automatically negate the belief that “women are bad with finances”. It may be a generational thing – two typical examples that come to mind, comedian Erma Blombeck complaining that at school, she didn’t learn math applied to chequebooks, and Doris Day housewife in “Don’t send me flowers” where her husband mistakenly believes he will die soon and tries to teach her to be economic when shopping (which she mistakes for him loosing his job = no income), are from the 60s/early 70s.

  • fraser

     A good analysis, but I don’t think even “inborn” behavior would have to be immutable. Lots of inborn things–genes to be tall, for instance–don’t work out if, say, you get a diet that neutralizes them.

  • Lori

    Yet they’re afraid to allow him to be or even to seem charismatic or charming or eloquent.  

    Are they afraid, or just unable? None of their characters are charismatic or charming or eloquent and most of them aren’t even likable and they don’t seem to be aware of that. Jenkins apparently thought the speech was good and just what people would want to hear. He very well may think that Nicky seems very appealing.

  • JustoneK

    To trope things up, huge Values Dissonance leading to a shitload of Informed Attributes.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    If L&J couldn’t manage genuine charisma, they should have gone the other way. A few years back, I read a science fiction novel where one of the villains had a Nicky-esque hypnotic power. He was a magnificent idiot who could barely string a sentence together without tripping over his tongue, but everyone who listened to him speak saw him as a lot more intelligent and charming than he really was. There was one kid who was immune to the effect, and his reactions made the situation seem a lot more surreal than it already was.

    I’m sure I’ve mentioned all this before. What I forgot until now was that the kid actually lived with this villain. There’s one scene where the author hints that the villain might have discovered the kid’s immunity. It’s fairly tense because the two of them are alone, and if the villain has figured this out, the kid is as good as dead.

    The contrast couldn’t be more clear. One novel sets the scene with surrealism and dread, the other doesn’t bother establishing anything. And one sold perhaps a few thousand copies, while the other sold millions.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    A few years back, I read a science fiction novel where one of the villains had a Nicky-esque hypnotic power. He was a magnificent idiot who could barely string a sentence together without tripping over his tongue, but everyone who listened to him speak saw him as a lot more intelligent and charming than he really was. There was one kid who was immune to the effect, and his reactions made the situation seem a lot more surreal than it already was.

    I got that feeling whenever I watched George W. Bush give a speech.  

    Zing!  :D

  • aunursa

    Jenkins apparently thought the speech was good and just what people would want to hear. He very well may think that Nicky seems very appealing.

    LB fans seem to think of Nicolae as Jenkins wants them to think. From the plethora of Amazon.com 5-star reviews of Nicolae

    The evil ones like Nicolai and Leon Fortunato are vile enough to make you cringe at times.

    The plot is good, the good characters are likeable, the evil characters hate-able (Nicolae is so much more creepy in this book than in any of the movies!)

    The character of Nicolae Carpathia is becoming more and more familiar as the Antichrist.

    I was scared out of my mind by this book. There is so much going on and Nicolae could not get more evil!

  • Lori

    I try very hard not to be judgey about people’s reading habits. I’m aware of my tendency to be a bit of a snob and I’m also aware that there are plenty of things I love more or less unreservedly which aren’t actually very good at all. We’re all hypocrites at times, but being so blatant about it tends to make me feel guilty.

    The person who wrote that review is a fucking moron, and I don’t feel bad for saying so.

  • aunursa

    That was actually snippets from four different reviews.  With 62% of the Amazon reviews rating Nicolae 5 stars, there are surely millions of “fucking morons” who feel the same way.

  • Lori

    If you’re point is that millions of people can’t all be morons, I beg to differ.

  • aunursa

    No, I would never suggest that millions of people can’t be morons.  65 million books sold proves the opposite.

  • Vermic

    I live just down the street from Palwaukee Airport!  It’s always a little unsettling when the LB books go into local detail.  Makes it feel like Jerry Jenkins is stalking me.  If Buck and Chloe go to Bob Chinn’s Crabhouse I’ll be a basket case.

    Personally I still call it Palwaukee, despite the name change, because “Chicago Executive” is super generic and meaningless.  I expect most locals do the same, but it’s a small airport and doesn’t come up in conversation much, so I can’t say.

    Mount Prospect to Palwaukee is a super easy drive.  You can even avoid major roads to get there.  Hard to say how crowded it would be in the aftermath of WWIII — on the one hand, with O’Hare gone it’d be the closest air service in the northwest suburbs (with the larger Midway Airport shouldering the bulk of the Chicagoland traffic).  On the other hand, Palwaukee is so small that I imagine its ability to manage additional traffic is pretty limited.

    There’s certainly no way Midway and Palwaukee could accommodate the enormous volume of air travel formerly handled by O’Hare, so if you lived in Chicagoland and O’Hare were wiped out, you could pretty much kiss your air travel plans goodbye for a while.  Unless, of course, you were a highly-ranked OWG media guy with super duper clearance; then all bets are off.

    “this most sinister and unwise rebellion”
    That’s the absolute worst way to say it.

    It’s pretty much impossible to say this phrase without sounding exactly like Darth Vader.  Go ahead, try it.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon
    “this most sinister and unwise rebellion”

    That’s the absolute worst way to say it.

    It’s pretty much impossible to say this phrase without sounding exactly like Darth Vader.  Go ahead, try it.

    Aw crap, now I am reading everything Nicky says in the disturbingly sexy baritone of James Earl Jones.  

  • Turcano

     Due to the fact that the speech started with “brothers and sisters,” I read it in a stereotypical black preacher voice.

  • Dmoore970

    That should raise his charisma by several points.

  • Jenora Feuer

    There’s certainly no way Midway and Palwaukee could accommodate the enormous volume of air travel formerly handled by O’Hare […]

    O’Hare barely accommodates the enormous volume of air travel handled by O’Hare.  If a plane is late arriving, they have to start shuffling other landing times around it, and it sets off a chain reaction of altered schedules across most of the continent.  O’Hare is already booked to full capacity most days, and it’s a really big airport.  A snowstorm hitting O’Hare throws off travel all over the place.

    And yes, I’ve to reschedule flights because a snowstorm hit while I had to fly through O’Hare to get where I was actually going.  Have I mentioned I hate hub-and-spoke flight planning systems for their lack of redundancy?

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    It’s pretty much impossible to say this phrase without sounding exactly like Darth Vader.

    And this one is playing to the tune of John Mayer’s Daughters

    Husbands, cater to her feelings

  • Magic_Cracker

    His rise, we are told, is due entirely to his charisma, his preternatural charm and superlative eloquence. Yet they’re afraid to allow him to be or even to seem charismatic or charming or eloquent.

    The authors’ propensity to chicken out like that is one of the major recurring wounds these novels inflict upon themselves (readers are just collateral damage) — Rayford is a sinner redeemed, but this pre-Magic Words sin of unconsummated almost-lust is utterly banal, so his redemption lacks any impact (what what impact it could, theoretically, have us undone by his sin of pride which isn’t just ongoing, but celebrated by the authors). Ditto for Buck who, pre-Magic Words, was a worldly 30-year-old virgin. The good guys, even if they were once “bad,” can’t be too bad and bad guys who are supposed to appear good can’t look too good, lest the resulting complexity and ambiguity cause the readers’ faith to momentarily flicker the exact moment they are fatally struck by a meteorite*.

    We’re talking not just about the end of the world, but the end of the literally God-damned universe here, and not just the any end of the God-damned universe, but one of the trippiest, weirdest, Alpha-Omega-est, First-Shall-Be-Lastest, most nonsensical end of the universe scenarios imagined. Restraint is not what’s needed.

    Except for the telephone scenes (and Jeezilla in Glorious Appearing).

    *Actually, I know that’s not why they wuss out. They’re concerned about their readers’ eternal sales, not souls.

  • http://twitter.com/BillHiers Bill Hiers

    Jeezilla…? You win the Internet! That’s a hilarious mental image. Turbo-Jesus, eighty feet tall, roaring like Godzilla and smashing buildings…

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The lesson here seems to be, roughly, “Husbands, cater to her feelings and make her think you’re really listening when your wife talks about … oh, you know … whatever it is that wives talk about when they talk about all that woman-ish stuff.”

    In fairness, this advice is not without some merit, but I would neuter the language a bit.  One should cater to one’s partner and listen to them, regardless of whether the partner is husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, or any other gender-identity/relationship combination you can think of.  Men are most definitely not exempt from this, even if engendered values limit the forms of its expression.  Heck, Buck and Rayford are perfect examples of this, their constant need to assert dominance and put others in their place speaks of a deep insecurity with their own positions.  Being able to admit that (at least to a trusted confidant) would probably do a lot at making less asshole-ish.  

    People have feelings, they are not always irrational (as Fred pointed out the sentiment here is appropriate to the situation) and it is important that one listen to them.  I cannot stress enough that the important verb here is listen.  A partner who thinks that you are not sensitive to their feelings is a recipe for an unhappy breakup.  All relationships involve a little give and take, and often that means that a partner ought to be able to give the other their ear on occasion in return for the same favor when they need the other to listen instead.  

    But then, I tend to approach such things from an assumption of equality.  I am not sure L&J do.  

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    His rise, we are told, is due entirely to his charisma, his preternatural charm and superlative eloquence. Yet they’re afraid to allow him to be or even to seem charismatic or charming or eloquent.

    I am not sure L&J even know how to write a charismatic character.  This might be a more a limitation of their own abilities than an underestimation of their audience.  

    Or it could be both.  After all, if their audience thinks crap like this is amazing, then they  might actually be as dense as L&J seem to think.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Buck shook his head. “He sure tells ‘em what they wanna hear, doesn’t he?”

    Well, yeah.  One kind of wants to hear that the powers-that-be are on top of the situation when massive disaster strikes.  What would Buck rather he say?

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    So on the one hand, you’ve got a huge missed opportunity for world building that actually ties into the book’s alleged title!

    Devastation of the richest cities in the richest nations, and a massive, globally-funded relief effort makes for a nice set-up to establish your Ten Ambassadors of Evil. 

    “In order to co-ordinate relief efforts, to ensure that food and supplies are not caught in nets of red tape, or simply stolen by local strongmen, I am granting special authority and power to the Global Community Overseers of the ten disaster relief districts. I know there will be some who see in this a sinister motive, as they see evil in free lunches to school children and malice in improving dental care for rural citizens, but understand, the needs of the suffering are too great not to see that the support of the able are received in full.”

    See? Now you’ve got your ten regions of your OWG supplanting existing governments, with Nicolae at the top of it all,  you get to sneak in a little Communist Manefesto language, and the bad guy is saying “What, you think charity is evil?” which is a common political ploy.  Your heroes get to spout that Nicolae started a war, killed millions, and is now using it to grab even more power. 

    On the other hand, LeJenkins would probably just snort “Hey, Nicolae was made head of the U.N. in book 1, and he named his ambassadors then. It’s already a done deal, why go on about it?”

  • Vermic

    This brings up a point I’m still unsure of: exactly why Nicolae triggered WWIII in the first place.  Normally your standard evil ruler would pull a stunt like this to increase or solidify their power, but Nicky’s already Supreme Potentate of Everything at this point, so what does he have to gain from blowing up his own people under fake pretenses?

  • aunursa

    what does he have to gain from blowing up his own people under false pretenses?

    Why?  Just for the hell of it.  He’s that evil.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    t, so what does he have to gain from blowing up his own people under fake pretenses?

    Couple of possibilities:

    Divine Mandate! Nicolae’s as much a puppet of prophecy as everyone else. It’s not a question of gains or losses, but what he’s there to do. 

    “Consider the source, son!” Yes, the Book of Revelations says he’ll lose, but don’t you think the author might have been biased? Who’s to say that What Was Written wasn’t written down differently somewhere else? Nicolae could be following a game plan he thinks will lead to victory.

    One Thing Leads to Another. If people need to die of famine, utterly destroying major transportation hubs would certainly help that. If 1/3 of the waters need to become undrinkable, well, several megaton detonations casting fallout might move things in the right direction, right?

    The people will rise up against you, and they are too numerous to defeat! Tricks like relying on police and military, using the media to confuse, and hollowing out the power of the existing governments will work in the short term, but as things get worse and worse and those structures break down, control is maintained by force. It’s a lot easier to control the population of a planet by force if you whittle down that population to a more manageable size. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    I guess Nicky should have used the big radioactive nukes instead of the apparently tiny, nonradioactive ones that affect only airports.

  • Magic_Cracker

    I guess Nicky should have used the big radioactive nukes instead of the apparently tiny, nonradioactive ones that affect only airports.

    They probably came across the term “suitcase nukes” and thought “Well, since this is fiction, and if they already have nukes that affect only suitcases…” 

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.kirby.940 Matthew Kirby

    >If 1/3 of the waters need to become undrinkable, well, several megaton
    detonations >casting fallout might move things in the right direction,
    right?

    Except that they’re using special fallout free nukes.

  • http://twitter.com/BillHiers Bill Hiers

    Because Evil. No, really. This seems to be his only motivation. To cause as much destruction, pain and suffering as he possibly can because he’s evil and he wants to.

    You know, the guy who was supposed to the actual physical personification of all evil in the movie Time Bandits, a guy who killed his own henchmen all the time for the most minor of offenses and who had endless rambling monologues about how he loved being bad just for sake of it wasn’t as petty as Nicolae in his motivations. 

  • WalterC

     

    He’s just a dick who got a lot of power and likes to pretend he has some big plan.

    Yep. He’s not a character, he’s a plot device. Nicolae Carpathia serves the same function as the Rapture, or the star Wormwood, or any of the other Judgments. He has as much personality as any of the 10 Plagues of Egypt. He’s essentially a natural disaster that happens to be able to wear a suit.

    He makes so much more sense when you think of him like that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    “…never know when we might or might not ever see each other again.”

    I don’t know if that might or might not make sense.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    There may be a lesson there for anyone writing stories with a near-future setting. It’s probably best to avoid using the present-day names for any airports, stadiums, concert venues or convention halls. Those names are too likely to change, making your “future” seem oddly antiquated.

    One can still show that one researched the situation without name-dropping landmarks.  They could simply describe the situation and journey in detail without having to name names.  This would side-step the possibility of locations changing names, and it would paint a clear picture of the scenario in the heads of people who have never been there, while at the same time the people who have been there would know it and realize the authors actually know what they are talking about.  

    Of course, this would require giving actual descriptions, which is anathema to writers who prefer to fill space with good, godly phone conversations instead.  

  • flat
  • aunursa

    Chloe: Buck, I hate to say it, but in this day and age we never know when we might or might not ever see each other again.

    Amanda: You think that gives me confidence about whether I’ll ever see him again?

    Hello?  They’re all RTCs.  According to L&J they’re all guaranteed to see each other again and spend an infinite amount of time together.

  • christopher_y

    According to L&J they’re all guaranteed to see each other again and spend an infinite amount of time together.

    Pas besoin de gril, l’enfer c’est les autres – Sartre. [No need for a gridiron, hell is other people]

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    Uh oh.  It is suddenly obvious why these books seem so awful to us and yet are so popular among RTCs.

    It’s Nicolai’s mind mojo.
    To all of us non-RTCs, his mojo makes the heroes seem like selfish, petulant buffoons and himself like a quite harmless and ineffectual character.
    But the RTCs are immune to this effect and see Rayford and Buck as the glowing saints they are and Nicolai as the embodiment of evil.

    It’s like ‘They Live’, only with Jesus instead of Roddy Piper.

  • Magic_Cracker

    “I have come to to fulfill the law and kick ass … and I’m all out of law.” [FLAMING SWORDTONGUES humanity]

  • Bificommander

    Sadly, any interesting ambiguity is unacceptable, because the whole shtick of the author’s argument is that everything is really plain and simple. It’s obvious that this is what the Bible predicts, and it is obvious who the Anti Christ is. The purpose of the characters in the story reading LaHaye’s own prophecies is to hammer home how obvious those prophecies are, and how incredibly literal they are coming true. 

    That leaves no room for the classical Greek approaches to prophecies, i.e. let the characters completely miss the ambiguous other meaning of the prophecy, or let them make the prophecies come true while trying to prevent them. The latter approach would really work with this kind of story, to make the heroes seem likable and the villain sinster and powerful: The heroes try to prevent the rise of the villain, but the villain shows his might and the inevitability of his reign by subverting or hijacking every attempt, providing a feeling of dread and helplessness until the Deus-sans-machina ending. 

    Provided the mistakes made by the heroes are believable (unlikely with Jenkins at the keyboard, but hey), it would make them much more sympathetic than these dillholes who realized the prophecies have nothing to say about their actions, and that since god is just everyone on earth deserves to be punished, and end up doing fuck-all besides quietly thinking about how much more righteous they are.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    That leaves no room for the classical Greek approaches to prophecies

    Which is a crying shame, because those ancient Greek tragedies are chilling.

  • Dmoore970

    The movie version actually did a pretty good job of just that.  Buck finds Stonagal and Cothran’s sinister plan to corner the market on food and exposes it.    Nicolae uses the expose to remove the last two obstacles to his absolute power.  Well done!

  • Bificommander

     True, it was kind of a lame example, but it was at least something. And the second movie gave the heroes something midly courageous and pro-active to do: Get to a mind-whammeyed Tsion Ben Judah and convert him before his broadcast, thus getting a public victory for Team Jesus when he announced the messiah. At least the heroes did something.

    But the problem with that approach is the same as the problem the Apocalypse movies (a series of four boiler-plate rapture movies) had: Each individual movie kept giving a ‘happy ending’ with the brave Christians twarting the Anti Christ, only for the next movie to pick up with the Anti Christ in power again. They exposed him to the world at the end of the first movie, but he’s still ruling pretty much unopposed by the second. They twart his plan to spread the mark of the beast in the second, but by the third 99% of the people have the mark anyway. They expose the Anti Christ again in the third movie, but it didn’t take for the fourth again (Not that it mattered at that point, since there were only very few non-RTCs who hadn’t taken the mark by that point, so their broadcast only showed the doomed population just how doomed they all were.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Maybe Nicolae is a badass only while offscreen. In between books is when he gets most work done, and he is at his most ruthless and efficient in between page breaks and scene changes.

  • Tapetum

     So he’s sort of like a Weeping Angel, except that when being observed he freezes into banal doofus who can’t even make a proper speech mode?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Oh I see now why Jenkins never mentions all the dead children, or talks about the bare facts of all the people who’ve died and what that means. To do so would be maudlin

    Buck is perhaps the least observant human being in the history of the world. This is not a quality one should give to one’s viewpoint character unless one is an absolutely brilliant author. It is definitely not a quality one should give to one’s viewpoint character if said character is supposed to be the GIRAT.

  • Michael Pullmann

    It’s hilarious on several levels that Jenkins, through Chloe, uses the cliched phrase “In this day and age” to refer to the Apocalypse.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Is “maudlin” the Evangelical equivalent of Catholics’ “despair”?

  • http://twitter.com/Zornorph Zornorph

    I’m a man, but I want someone to cater to my feelings, too.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    I admit I’ve read any number of books that were problematic and didn’t really notice the problems until after I’d read them… or even after someone else pointed them out, depending on how hard I thought about it after I’d finished.

    I don’t think any of them were as badly written as these, though.

  • ACTUALLY DAD, DUBSTEP IS COOL

    Personally, I think of Jenkins as a magnificent writer of terrible speeches. If you ever need a really bad speech, he’s your man. He should write eulogies for dictators.

  • Damanoid

    I can’t get over how the author goes out of his way to point out  how Buck passes off somebody’s leftover death car on Verna.   Oh, it’s new– “to her!”   Practically every single thought or action these “heroes” perform is awash in selfishness and pettiness.  Even the tiniest detail of their behavior, such as the above, is driven by the need to aggrandize themselves at the expense of others.  And somehow, this is all intentional– this is somebody’s studied, carefully considered representation of how they believe Christians should act.

  • Rae

    Especially considering that a new car for Verna would probably be the most *legitimately* work-related purchase that Buck would have ever made using that unlimited credit card of his…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    Heck, a new car for Verna – if they did succeed in bringing her into the Tribbles – would be a good excuse to pick up another “fully loaded” Range Rover or something else similarly tricked out to ultimately benefit the resistance. Even if she doesn’t become a Tribble, using a fancy new car to get her gratitude could be useful if Buck ever has to abandon ship but needs an inside contact for a favor or two.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Now how exactly is Verna with her vagina supposed to drive a Range Rover?

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Heck, a new car for Verna – if they did succeed in bringing her into the Tribbles – would be a good excuse to pick up another “fully loaded” Range Rover or something else similarly tricked out to ultimately benefit the resistance.

    This is such a good point, and such a good illustration of the fact that even when the ultimate result would benefit them, Buck and Ray always take the most cheap and selfish route.

    They really do operate on the level of a not-very-bright five-year-old, don’t they?  They can’t even think two steps ahead of the moment.  Not a great trait for people who are leading a (heh) resistance force.

  • fraser

     I presume we’re still supposed to see her as someone desperately begging for her comeuppance, like she’s the pointy-haired boss in Dilbert.

  • David Starner

     Yeah, it’s like he doesn’t care about someone who gave him her car so he could save his wife. He doesn’t feel compelled to be as generous as he can afford to be in return. I’m writing these words, but don’t get them; who could feel that way, and who would think he’s a likable character?

  • MaryKaye

    I had the misfortune of sitting next to a young man who was reading _Men are from Mars_ during a longish airplane trip.  I started to read over his shoulder (a bad habit, I know) and within a few pages I wanted to yank the book out of his hands and say, “Please, no.  You’ll be better off, the women in your life will be better off.  Trust me on this.”

    I think the particular bit that set me off was Gray saying that I should never allow myself to light a fire, because it’s a Special Caveman Treat for my man and these treats are super important to him.  Well, guess what?  I like to light fires too.  Gray assures us that I’m kidding myself, I don’t *really*.  Not like my husband does anyway.  It’s about as gender essentialist as you can get.

    There are points at which my husband and I fit the stereotypes:  if someone has to ask for directions, for example, it tends to be me.  But there are also points at which we don’t:  at the moment I go to work and he watches our son.  Gray wants to pretend that everyone fits *all* of the stereotypes, or if they don’t there’s something wrong with them and they ought to be trying to fit better.  It’s pretty dehumanizing.

  • hidden_urchin

    Hahahahaha! In my family I am known as the master of the fire. I can build it, light it, and keep it burning. (My record is 20 hours straight.) I also occupy the number one spot- on the hearth. I love fire. (More accurately, I love being warm.) A man will take that job over my cold, dead body. (Very cold because no fire.)

  • Hexep

    what is this i dont even

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    We have a natural gas fire place, so turning it on involves nothing but flicking a little toggle switch on the side.  

    Not a big deal for us though, the cats in the house prefer it this way (often vocally reminding us when we have “forgotten” to turn on the warm-box.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    Not a big deal for us though, the cats in the house prefer it this way (often vocally reminding us when we have “forgotten” to turn on the warm-box.)

    Just hope the cats don’t figure out how to flick the switch.

  • SisterCoyote

     My favorite part of my sister inviting all her friends over for bonfires was… actually the conversation, since they’re mostly cool folks.

    But my second favorite part, by far, was the way I’d sit inside, hanging out on an IRC channel, and listen to the guys go from “You got it? You got it? DAMN! Get out of the way, I got it. …Dammit, Andrew, you just made it worse! John? …no? Okay, somebody go inside and get Ruth’s sister…”

  • Deborah Moore

    I always wanted to counter with a book called “Men are from Earth; Women are from Earth.”

  • fraser

     Whereas my wife is much more reluctant to ask directions than I am.
    One point that sticks in my head is where Gray explains that he avoided his sick SO at one point instead of nurturing her because he’s a man and it’s his natural instinct to withdraw into the cave at the sight of someone he cares about in pain. I think it’s because he was being a dick.

  • pharoute

    Jenkins should’ve just borrowed one of Dr. Klahn’s speeches.

  • GeniusLemur

     An excellent suggestion. You have our gratitude. *Gong*

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Nicolae Carpathia, we have just been told, usually comes across as “overly humble.” He seems like a fake, in other words, a condescending phony.

    Gotta be honest, the image that popped into my head here was that obnoxious “serious” expression Paul Ryan is always putting on. You know, the one where he pretends he’s sad when talking about how he just has to cut your grandparent’s Social Security benefits so that the rich can have another tax break. So, you know, all the time.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 226 pages

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    It’s pretty much impossible to say this phrase without sounding exactly like Darth Vader.

    I’m actually thinking that with this rambling, incoherent word salad Nicky is coming across like Adam Sandler in Billy Madison.

  • Ian

    I actually read it as Emperor Palpatine, especially “unwise rebellion”

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    What does “cater to someone’s feelings” mean anyway? Have tissues on hand when telling a sad story to someone who cries easily? Don’t make a shy person give a public speech?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    In my experience, the meaning when people use phrases like “X caters to Y’s feelings” is something like “X does things intended to make Y feel better, or to avoid Y feeling worse, and I don’t think X ought to do that, for reasons I’m not prepared to own.”

  • Carstonio

    I read “cater” as not only paternalistic and patronizing, but also passive-aggressively obligatory. Apparently it’s a massive burden for a husband to listen to his wife, as if she were an equal and not a domestic servant or a brood mare.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah. I’ve seen milder versions of this put forth by some men, who act like their wives/girlfriends wanting something is silly and superficial, and then go on to whine about “the woman nixing my toys”.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    I wonder if it counts as catering to someone’s feelings if you offer them pizza when they’re down…  I mean I can’t speak for anyone else, but pizza almost always cheers me up

  • Dogfacedboy

    Instead what we get is every bad writer’s favorite method of making one character seem smart: making everyone else seem stupid.

    Here’s the trouble.  In order to write smart characters, the author needs to be smart.  And Jerry–well, I’m sorry.

  • Sigaloenta

    I don’t think it’s possible for L’n’J to write compelling “oratory”, and not just because every word they write is a failure by the most basic criteria of rhetoric.  I suspect that in their worldview “rhetoric” and “oratory” are synonymous with “falsehood” and “deception.”  Because if you were saying something true and sincere and moral, you wouldn’t need to dress it up and try to trick people, right? (hint: no.)  So for them, all “rhetoric” has to be specious and weaker than the truth, because if it were not specious and not the truth, than it wouldn’t involve rhetoric.

  • Splitting Image

    Speaking of “phonies”, I just remembered a little anecdote from 2001. Ernie Coombs (Mr. Dressup) had just passed away and Fred Rogers was asked on a radio program what made Coombs a great children’s entertainer.

    Rogers’ answer was that Coombs was simply a genuine person who was able to communicate his enthusiasm for what he did. Kids can spot a phony from a young age, he said, and the moment they realize you’re not into what you’re doing, they lose their respect for you.

    I think that answers the question why the kids all had to go during the Rapture. It was the only way to assure Nicolae’s rise to power. If even one of the little rugrats had been able to hear one of Nicolae’s speeches, she’d have pointed out right away that he wasn’t really very eloquent.

  • banancat

    I’m not sure I can imagine anyone listening to the whole thing without changing the channel.

    I actually zoned out while reading it and then realized I was supposed to be paying attention and forced myself to actually read it, and still nearly zoned out again.  That’s some amazingly boring writing.


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