if there's one type of person that really irritates me - beyond the typical sorts of bigots that irritate everyone - it's a very specific type of person that's hard to describe. what i like to call them are maybe "woke ivy league hopefuls" - white people characterized specifically by a certain air of superiority that they try to temper with a knowledge of social issues. they seem to think that by psychoanalyzing the poor and disenfranchised that they can hope to understand and speak in support of those who need that support. but everything seems to fall flat because everything they say just exudes this air of superiority and pomposity. is that even a fucking word?
it's so hard to explain these people, but they're also usually women or nonbinary people, which gives their air of superiority a different sort of tone. like, i've met so many smart men that immediately act as if they're the hottest shit to ever steam, the sole authority on literally everything. but they don't try to hide their superiority, at least most of the time. there are some softboys that fit the criteria i've described, but most of the time they're easier to spot. it's the women especially that just give off this insanely unsettling vibe to me. they always speak with exaggerated academic vocabulary, and their analysis of issues tends to veer into an area that i've tried to recently distance myself from: the hyper-conceptual.
while it is lovely to conceptualize and maybe even idealize a better world, it's best to often ground yourself in reality at some point in time, or at least acknowledge the space where the concept you are arguing originates from. like, i love going into detail and arguing completely wacky claims in literary criticism. it's super fun to take a look at things that are super wild and details and stretch the text in a way to fit into whatever wacky narrative i've constructed for it. i love creating arguments for literature that can be textually sound, but maybe don't actually fit into what the author obviously intended, or maybe even don't suit my own personal interpretations of the book. but while i agree that this is fun, i still understand the limitations of this kind of literary criticism, and i recognize it as nothing more than fooling around with fun concepts that i've noticed in my readings.
what really fucks me up about these weird ivy league types is that they will argue something completely outlandish and potentially with drastic implications without even admitting that they are simply playing an elaborate intellectual game. when my linguistics professor talks about the potential sexism of referring to one's native country versus their colonized territories as motherland vs fatherland, he does add a disclaimer that it's simply something interesting that he has noticed. when some of these ivy league types speak, they act as if their judgement is the end all be all, that their theory-based leaps are practically fact. and that's what makes me lose all respect for them and their work. because yes, i love analyzing things to the point where nothing makes any sense anymore, but i understand that and i can still pull myself back and look at what i've done and laugh at the absurdity of some of my theoretical leaps. these people don't, or can't, because they hate admitting fault or understanding that academia can be about something other than just being right.
all this is to say, i've been watching sarah z on youtube recently, and she's exactly this person. she reminds me of this girl i went to school with named jenna. jenna was one year older than me, but we took the same high-level spanish class together. now, i'm not exactly sure how she got this stick up her ass, considering the class she was in was mostly full of students one year younger than her learning the same material, but she was exactly this type of ivy league hopeful. she was so stupid smart - i won't deny that. i can't even stand up to the kind of smart she was, considering the fact that she was composing her own music as well as excelling and math, science, and spanish - all things i consider myself to be decent enough at, but not genius level. but jenna, she was fucking genius level. the thing was, though - she had some sort of superiority complex about it. and i don't think she was trying to be an asshole about being smart, but sometimes she definitely was, despite the fact that i wasn't a stupid person in the slightest. i guess there's a certain expectation when you're so intelligent, that you just stop expecting others to be able to match your level of communication? i don't exactly know what made people like jenna the way she is, but even though she was my friend it was annoying as fuck.
but, back to sarah z. i've watched a few of her video essays, namely on west elm caleb and idiocracy. while i enjoyed the west elm caleb think piece and it really did get me trying to digest certain aspects of internet culture, i can't say i felt the same about idiocracy. while she made a few good points, i noticed that her discussion of the film was set up in a very specific manner. to me, discussing a film produced in the bush era about political criticism should have contained the context regarding the political climate and the influence on the film at the beginning of the video essay, not near the end. i support sarah was trying to place it in the same space one would a "rebuttal" of claims, but that's not what it is. pieces of media are products of their times, and none exist in a bubble. while i get that sarah was arguing that idiocracy shouldn't be used as a judgement of current politics... i don't think anyone is really trying to act like it's a perfect representation. sarah views the concept of "idiocy" in the film as a trait being implied solely onto the citizens in the film, which i think completely misses the point. firstly, the use of idiocy as a thematic device in order to display the current state of the world is not some sort of attack on poor people or those that are intellectually disabled, etc etc. especially when it comes to comparing the film to the trump era. i think it really comes down to idiocy = ridiculousness. during bush's presidency, everything seemed out of our control as voters and citizens. there was a war on terror being enabled, and patriotism was at an all time high. songs like "american idiot" aren't just criticizing redneck americans, although those types of people are being mentioned and ridiculed. the real culprit and target is the pro-usa propoganda that was being spread at the time, which was directed towards southern working class citizens. it didn't help that bush himself was a texan, and that everyone viewed him as uneducated due to his remarks. while yes, we did and still do have a problem with blaming poor southern citizens for being uneducated and uninformed, it still is not the point of the satire being discussed. not all satire is clear cut or executed perfectly.
furthermore, i think sarah's analysis of the film, while well-intentioned, completely disregards both the historical context of the movie as well as the genre of satire. is idiocracy well-executed satire? no. it inadvertently produces an argument based on eugenics that i do not think was the point or the intention at all. again, i think that that choice to make the entire population absolutely stupid was not an ill-intentioned plot device. instead, it was to show how our understandings of systems arounds us degrades. in the film, even those os power such a corporations and politicians are not evil masterminds - they are idiots, just like everyone else. sarah portrays this as one of the film's flaws, but then later admits that if they had made the characters, especially for the corporate masterminds, significantly smarter, then it would also be inaccurate. so, then, it stands to reason that this was the whole fucking point of the satire. that the corporate heads were stupid because they really are no more intelligent than the average dude. and also that while the actual application was way off and had certain undesirable implications (namely eugenics), that the whole population being comprised of those created due to lack of birth control and sex-crazed impoverished individuals can also be viewed as a satirical tool. it stands to reason that those who believe the world is a terrible place full of crumbling infrastructure would not want children. instead, those who would want children would be those who believe the current state of the world is not so bad that bringing children into the picture would be a bad idea. on top of that, governments restricting birth control, especially to impoverished areas, is and has been a national problem. did they go about it in a very 2000s way? yes, yes they did. because the movie was produced in the fucking 2000s. can we still apply a 2022 lens to the situations and peel back the layers of bad plot design in order to seek a deeper and more applicable meaning? also yes. do i believe it was the writer's intent? no, but it doesn't have to be, because some of these things are literally unconscious associations that creators choose simply because it feels the most accurate to the current culture.
have i even seen the movie that was being discussed? no. so i can't tell you exactly why i got so riled up, other than the fact that sarah z was flaunting herself like ivy league hopefuls i had interacted with in the past, and the fact that i could literally pick out the aspects of her counterargument that she hadn't explored in full in order to construct my own theories based on the basic information about the movie presented in the video essay. i don't know. literary analysis, whether it be film or book, is just something i get so passionate about. seeing someone just completely ignore something so significant as the legitimate historical significance just lit up the notification in my brain that identified this woman as one of those intellectuals who just wants to be right and doesn't want to actually discuss the topic, and it really got be irritated.
also, if you're wondering, jenna didn't actually go to an ivy league, even though she applied to several. personally i think she got rejected because she was a dan and phil stan.
started planting my garden today! well, not exactly. i started planting some seeds to germinate. it's only march here, and planting doesn't really happen until late april or early may, so the seeds need to be started now. honestly, i wanted to start them last weekend, but we had a random cold snap and it actually snowed on the day i wanted to do my planting! obviously i couldn't do it on that day, because even though i was planting in pots, the seeds would have still been on my screened in porch, which would have saved them from any frost-related issues, but would not have saved me the discomfort of planting in 30* weather.
luckily, this weekend it's nice and warm, so i got out on the porch and planted my seeds. i planted a few things that i have before - usually i try basil, oregano, and parsley every year just to even out my herb garden. i overwinter my rosemary and thyme so they've been around for a few years at this point, and the annual herbs give me a good variety. also on the herb front, i'm trying cilantro and dill. I had some dill last year and like it, so i'm hoping the seeds will still work. i'm also trying cilantro for the first time - i wanted to get a couple seedlings of it last year, since it was too late in the season for me to plant at that point, but there were no cilantro seedlings anywhere! the same thing happened with jalapenos - which i think is absolute madness. like, why would none of the shops have a very popular pepper? because of that disappointment, i also started some jalapeno seeds, which i'm hoping will grow so that i don't have to scramble around for them again. in addition to those, i tried some habanero, which were on sale. i'm not one for spicy peppers, but i figured they would be nice to try, and maybe i could make hot sauce? who knows. lastly, i rounded the edible plants out with some spring onions, tomatoes, and pumpkins. the tomatoes were from a package of multiple seeds that i decided i would try. I pretty much always buy tomato seedlings, since they're cheap and it's easier than germinating, but i didn't want the seeds to go to waste. the pumpkins i don't know if i'll have any luck with, considering the best seeds i get are usually out of the jack o lanterns, not the ones out of the bag. i'm hoping they do grow, though, considering some of the seeds are mini-pumpkins, which are always adorable. lastly, spring onions, which i tried last year, but transplanted to an area that was too bright when they weren't large enough and accidentally killed the poor things. rest in peace.
i'm hoping to up my garden game from last year. that was the first year since when i was in middle school that we actually had a garden, and i had to fight for it. coming home from college and then trying to make a space in the yard for something i wanted to do was more trouble than i thought it would be. i wanted to tear down the old swingset i had when i was a kid, and i wanted my dad to help me do it. he thought it should be done one way, i thought another... i ended up going out there by myself for a while until he decided to help me. but, that wasn't without our first actual argument, ever. it was horrible - i ended up crying because i was so frustrated. he had managed to fabricate this story in his mind that just because i had an opinion on how things are done, that it meant i was some pompous college-educated prick who thought he was smarter than his father. keep in mind that my dad is not the authoritative type - he never disciplined me when i was growing up and one time bought us a go kart without my mom's permission. he was never the type of dude who let on that he would have his ego bruised by having me question his ideas. but, then again, i had been away at college for the better part of four years. things had changed while i had been away, and his drinking had progressed to the point where he was irritable and easy to anger. again, that wasn't the man i knew - when i was a kid, i could only ever remember one time my dad ever truly got upset, and that was on a vacation. which is understandable, because travelling is stressful. the things he was getting angry over now, were actually nonexistent. yes, i had a college education and he didn't, but i didn't think i was better than him. i didn't think that i had to call all the shots because i went to college, and i honestly hadn't changed much since i left for school. i just didn't think the way he has suggested was going to work. he thought that he could smash the whole thing into pieces with the backhoe, but i really didn't think that it would work the way he wanted it to (and, spoiler alert, i was right).
but it didn't seem to matter to him. he was dead set on it, and he argued that if i was such a smart college educated adult that knew better than him, than why was i asking for help in the first place? i snapped and started screaming at him, saying i asked him because i wanted his help. when i had mentioned the whole thing before he had kept blowing me off, and at this point, it was around march of last year. i knew we still needed to till if i wanted that garden, and i knew he wouldn't help - so i started taking the whole thing down myself. with the help (or, more like moral support) of my mom. i had never done that before - decided to go out and do a project like that on my own. dad and i worked on things in the yard all the time - i helped him cut down trees, fix sheds, till gardens - but i had never knocked down a structure like that before. i toiled by myself out there for a while, frustrated and angry that he wouldn't help. and then we had the screaming match. he ended up getting in the backhoe to knock down the playhouse. my mom was skeptical, but i knew it would at least fall over. and it did - he knocked it over. but he couldn't crush it or run over it. he and my mom had made that thing for me themselves - back when i was still a baby. they had constructed it from a kit, but they knew that at some point, their baby was going to be climbing on that thing. so it was built tough - we would find that out later when we tried to pull the nails out. my dad had double and triple nailed all the boards and beams in, to the point where it was such a mess that even a piece of machinery like a backhoe was unable to crush it. he tried and tried, but in the end, he couldn't. he almost flipped the backhoe at one point, but he finally listened to the way my mom and i yelled at him to stop
if this were a short story, that playhouse could have been a metaphor for my parents' relationship with me, or some shit. the fact that i wanted to tear it down and make my own place a metaphor for growing up and branching out, the fact that neither my dad nor i could break it down on our own a representation of how strong our love had been when i was younger, and how that wasn't going to be shattered over something so petty. and it wasn't. the next day, we grabbed our tools and some cold ones, hiked our way out there, and tore that playhouse down. it was built tough, and with love, but it wasn't what i needed anymore. and my dad needed to realize that i wasn't a kid anymore. but we did it, and planted the first garden last year. and it was a good garden - way too many tomatoes, but good.
unfortunately i couldn't even enjoy that garden to the extent i wanted to. that summer, my gradnma was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. she, as much as my mother, had raised me. and despite never understanding that i was a grown person with thoughts and feelings and dreams, she had still taken the time to care for me when she didn't have to. having to care for her, in return, as she withered away, was the worst experience i've ever had. watching her take her last breaths is something that will haunt me forever. my mom and i - the two generations that came after her - took care of her and struggled and didn't sleep as we grieved someone who was technically still alive. if you could call the state she was in living. it was horrible, and traumatizing, and kept my mom and i away from our house for... fuck, i can't even remember. i think it was a week. i don't think it was any longer than that. my grandma - she wanted to die, and so it wasn't too long before she was gone. when we got home, i was greeted by my garden. my dad had been taking care of it the best he could, but obviously he didn't really know what to do with the produce. i found a zucchini in there that he had missed. it was the size of my bicep and shoulder muscles combined - absolutely massive. so, while that garden did its best... i wasn't exactly in a state to take care of it last summer. i was hardly in a state to do anything, after that. maybe i'll talk about it more later.