My Blog Week: March 7 to March 13
A Word on the Week
There are two problems with political correctness…a term transitioning to being called wokeness (a phrase that once addressed awareness of others’ experiences, now seized by its enemies to wield as a frightener).
First, the wanting to make changes in semantics and forms, before achieving buy-in. Marginalized people need laws enacted for their protection, but also need those laws enforced. The BLM movement demonstrates the disregard of legally established rights. Black and white citizens aren’t classed differently under the law, but what help is that when the law’s enforcers can select whom they protect and whom they punish?
Second, the targeting of persons and publications, by a not identified, consistent principle. A book, a cartoon character, a TV show episode that ran in the 90s, gets attention for its errors, then discontinued, pulled from circulation. A thousand other things, just as bad, don’t get attention. Haters of progressivism can claim, and with reason, that the same crime gets a pass or a penalty. This is haphazardness, a prime fault of wokeness thus far, but easily portrayed as campaigning behavior, as vindictiveness by the left against the right. A principle would put the basis for judging in the hands of the public, and fix the responsibility there too, important for calming everyone down.
Important for the sake of honorable conduct, as well.
These are things we deem to be offensive; here is the context in which these things will be made available; these are the flags we attach to them as a warning.
(Note also, that the commercial imperative—making money—has a lot to do with whether a private company will touch a hot potato. But archivally, for research and education, all materials must be accessible.)
Now, a fun assignment. To contextualize Pepe LePew, I recommend a couple of movies. The musical South Pacific (1958) with Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor, and Love Affair (1939) with Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer (with his killer windowpane-checked coat).
Looney Tunes were originally shown in theaters before the feature. Pepe’s outings were a cartoon sendup of the continental lover, a cinematic type big in the mid-20th century, more forgotten today. Without a principle to apply, we seem to have lost the core satire of Pepe’s tales, while managing to take a cartoon as a serious statement.
If we were ruling out the pursuit story, we would rule out vast amounts of extant entertainment. Not only most present-day romance novels, but all the fun ones from the Anya Setons and Victoria Holts of the past.
Also some popular and well-loved TV shows and movies, and…
In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, do we despise Duke Orsino for pushing himself at Olivia, or do we like him because we like Viola, and she falls for him at first sight?
Why hasn’t Gone with the Wind been discontinued, what with Rhett Butler? Doesn’t the movie version offer the reprehensible implication that Scarlett, in Rhett’s view, needed to be raped, and that she liked it?
And forever on and on.
Now, a WOW extra. Some snatches I’ve created in the vein of a rehabilitated Regency Romance (really Regency screwball comedy).
Pursuit without Offense:
Rodney Hobspound seeks the hand of Lady Mary Mumchance. He has tried putting himself in her way wherever she goes; after which failure, he tries making her jealous, presenting poor connection Eustacia, a resident of the Hobspound home, as Lady Mary’s rival.
Her answer: “Well, you ought to marry her, poor girl. It would give her a place in the world.”
Rodney, at a loss, goes to Eustacia herself, seeking advice.
Eustacia: But what have you in common with her?
Rodney: (looks blank) In common?
Eustacia: What interest made you fall in love with her?
Rodney: In love? Don’t shoot me that look… I’m trying to come to grips with these expressions of yours. Do you mean to say, hobbies? What people call hobbies… taxidermy…
Rodney: Or pasting things in books. Or, I don’t know, fancy dress balls?
Eustacia: I think you’ve gone astray, dear. (Enunciating) Things in common are the means by which affections grow.
Rodney: Deadly. All right, yes…surely it’s unladylike to roll one’s eyes quite so often. Lady Mary has money, and I should like to have money, eh? If I had, I would buy a knighthood, then she needn’t be ashamed of me… There you are at it again!
Eustacia: (long silence) Are you not aware that Lady Mary is Somerset’s foremost expert on prehistoric farming techniques in the West County? Now, suppose you went to her and claimed to be writing a book. A novel, some Walter Scottish affair… You say to Lady Mary, there is so little of use written about the prehistory of the West Country. If you’ll allow me to live for a week in that cave on your grounds, known locally as the hermit’s cell of St. Cwerylgar, but occupied, of course, by pagans for many centuries before the arrival of the first Christian missionaries…
Eustacia talks Rodney into seeing the advantages. Lady Mary is not expected to approve the plan, but if Rodney will only keep his mouth shut and issue considering, “Hmms”, while Lady Mary lectures on, she’ll come away convinced that here is a man she can share her life’s dream with. Unfortunately, she proves keen for the experiment, and insists that a week will be utterly insufficient…he must spend a month in the cave, at least.
A day or two, and Rodney in desperation breaches the dining room just after Lady Mary’s elegant guests have risen to hear the musicians for an hour of digestion before the dancing begins.
A maid, horrified, fetches her; Lady Mary, with a train of guests at her heels, returns to see the unshaved and unkempt Rodney clutching breadsticks to his chest.
Lady Mary: Put those down at once, and go back to your cave! (Self-conscious glance over shoulder; face put close to Rodney’s) Are you trying to ruin the experiment? Do you want our data to be rendered useless?
One guest, aside to another: Of course, many country householders keep menageries. It appears Lady Mary’s enthusiasms are a little…different.
Eustacia, next evening, answering Rodney’s plea, ventures in the moonlight to deliver a basket of provisions. She surprises a man, sitting on a rock.
Man: Please do not be afraid, madam. I am Leslie Mumchance, and this land is mine. (Adds hastily) I am an earl as well, so far as credentials go, but chiefly, I am a poet…
Tad, Hobspound family servant: Princess! Princess!
Leslie: A princess! I confess it was my first thought of you, come glimmering like Queen Mab in the beams of Selene!
The little dog runs to Eustacia, who stoops to pick it up. She has stood otherwise in gobsmacked silence, not failing to absorb that Leslie is both an earl and most appealing with his poet’s shirt and tousled hair.
Leslie: And what is your dog’s name?
Eustacia: (Looks around) Er…maple. That is, Mabel.
Tad: Not Princess?
Eustacia: Hush, boy! (Majestically) We are incognito.
Tad: O-oh. (Taps temple) I had an aunt was incognito.
Rodney is tutored by a poacher who uses the cave as a second home, and after various cantankerous exchanges, develops a competence at woodcraft.
Eventually, of course, the two imposters must be unmasked…
And so the story goes. Even a serious pursuit can afford to leave sexism and incipient criminality behind. Just get rid of the dumb cultural ideas as discussed in last week’s WOW, make the man more vulnerable, the woman more self-respecting, and remember Eustacia’s advice.
Things in common are the means by which affections grow.
On Monday, a new Totem-Maker, with Bani’s father witnessing a mystery. On Tuesday, The Sword Decides!, Andreas and Giovanna taking each other’s measure. Wednesday, a new Jumping Off poem, “Apprehensively”. Friday (an internet outage postponed Thursday’s post), part thirty-four of Shine! by Mathilde Alanic, Annie discovering Breton pageantry. Saturday, the conclusion of the short story “Heckler”, the character having a moment onstage.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: March 7 to March 13