A friend of mine recently did the impossible. She defied the natural laws of the universe and found herself a normal, successful, devilishly handsome fellow. Online. I actually admire her moxie: she risked becoming a human lamp shade for sex. And love, I suppose. But mostly sex. This got me to thinking about how we do things nowadays. It seems more and more of our social interactions are happening online, but is this a good thing? (No. The answer is no.)
Nothing is official unless it’s on Facebook
Here’s an ugly truth: we define ourselves by someone else’s standards. We determine who we are by what others think of us. Why else do we have bumper stickers and “official member cards” for things as pointless as being a member of the snail liberation front? This has always been true, but at least we could pretend we were doing it for our own benefit before Facebook, etc. Now, we are obsessed with showing people the places we visit, how many levels we’ve passed in a videogame or whether we are in a relationship. The fact that we have done these things means nothing unless everyone knows. I’m the mayor of my bathroom! You know who cares? Absolutely no one.
Social interaction has no value
The first principle in business is location, location, location. The second is know your demographic. The third is sex sells. Somewhere down the line we have this whole supply and demand thing, The value of a given item is dependent on its availability (or lack thereof). Now that we can talk to everyone all the time, we don’t really care to. Gone are the days where we would lovingly craft a letter to convey our love. This morning I texted my girlfriend “wanna bone?” She was beside me. And said no. The sad thing is that being with one another isn’t special anymore and, really, does a face-to-face have that much more to offer when we can shoot the shit all day long? Socialization is easy now. Too easy.
Making friends is a process
Remember when we were kids? I would ask a girl for her number and, after continual badgering, sometimes I would even get it. Then I would call her and get to know her. Now we say “add me to facebook” with the hidden addendum “so I can ignore you, block you, or judge your character based on your profile.” My friend met this guy online and he called her. He CALLED her. How personal is that? Voice to voice contact? Jesus this guy is clingy. We’ve effectively made hooking up a more bureaucratic process. Please fill this k-38 form in triplicate and submit to our mutual friends before contacting me.
They hate you for you
So there are websites out there for dating. I know, right? Anyways, in order to get up and running and find the love of your life, you first have to create a profile, decide what you want in a partner, and fill out a comprehensive survey outlining your complete sexual history. Oh ya, and you have to upload photos. The sad part is, after all is said and done, no one gives a shit about you as a person. It’s your face that’ll get you results. While this is absolutely NO different from a real life social situation, it is just a little more painful. When I’m at the club, that girl who just dry heaved at the sight of me might just not know about all my wonderful qualities. However, firstname.lastname@example.org knows exactly how awesome I am because I told her. Hell, I probably spent a solid two hours lovingly crafting my autobiography. That’s what makes it hurt so bad when I’m shot down. She knows what she’s saying no to. Fuck.
So all in all, our new socialization, our digital socialization is doing little more than moving us apart and setting us up for rejection. I applaud the lucky few that can find someone, however, for those less well-adjusted, I would suggest sticking with the underage bars, cougar haunts and redlight districts that have always been a sanctuary for romantics like us.
I would like to start this article by pointing out that I do not have children. However, my friend is about to have one so I feel I am about as well poised to write parenting advice as anyone. Dubious? Not at all. Each of the following principles are based entirely in psychological science. True, this is my first crack at the (vicarious) parenting thing, but if Dr. Lipschitz can be an expert, so can I.
1. Build in a failsafe
We have all been children at least once (here’s lookin’ at you, Hindus), so I think it’s fair to say that we are all aware how much of an asshole a kid can be if he/she tries. Your little munchkin can go from mogwai to gremlin in the blink of an eye, so it’s best to be prepared.
Considering the monumental task disarming the nuke that is your child can be, it is best to be proactive and build in a “failsafe.” This is to be distinguished from the oft used “killswitch” method, where you near kill an annoying child with a switch. However, it should be noted that the latter method should always be employed with red-headed stepchildren.
Now, when I speak about failsafes, I do not refer to buttons or switches or anything so silly. What I refer to is a series of booby traps set in the child’s mind that will ward off any thought of mutiny or self-determination. Consider yourself the Dutch to their Predator. Get empowered!
I’ll teach you to leave your legos on the stairs
Step 1: Select your failsafe.
The easiest of these to “install” would be the conditioned phobia. As Pavlov demonstrated with his dog and, better yet, Watson with Little Albert, if you associate something with something else you can make magic happen. Make sure this is something that your child will not come across easily in daily life, else they may become a complete wreck and ruin your chances of cashing in on their future success as a television star. My personal choice would be something absolutely useless that will never have any impact anyone ever.
Yes, I’m talking about Paris Hilton
Step 2: Install.
Show them the item frequently paired with loud noises, violent images and, depending on how well-behaved you want your children to be, cigarette burns.
Step 3: Parent!
Now that the hard part is done, it is time to enjoy the fruits of your labours. Whenever your little bundle of pinkeye and measles begins to go Christian Bale on your ass, just whip out your (monocle/California Raisins commemorative plate/Eddie Murphy cassette) and watch them cower in pants-crapping fear.
2. Save your money
Children hate doing chores. Well guess what kids, we all love it so fucking much. I love spending my weekend doing laundry and vacuuming. My life is so blessed. Wrong. Everyone hates chores you egotistical little facehuggers. Unfortunately, this lesson is rarely learned by our newer generation because they are continually provided with incentives to do what they should already be doing. Great Grandpappy Kanuck would have never stood for it and neither will!
Here’s the thing: the more allowance you give a kid, the more they will hate their chores. Seriously. If you pay well, they’ll figure they’re only in it for the money. Now if you give a kid, say, a dollar and a swift kick in the ass, their brain will say, “there is no way I’m doing this for the pay. I must LOVE making my bed.” Basically, you can use your kid’s own denial against him. This Festinger guy figured it all out. Now I don’t want to hear any of these stereotypes about cheap Jewish people. That’s racist and unfair -he was cheap because academia pays about as well as being an overweight, male, midget prostitute who won’t do “weird stuff.” That is to say, not very well.
Raising future happy Wal-Mart employees one degradation at a time
The beauty of this is that it works for everything (theoretically)! If your kid does well at something, by all means reward them with iced cream. But make sure it’s maple-flavoured or something equally shitty so they a) stop asking for it and b) keep doing what they were doing before you poisoned them with patriotic confections. If you keep track, you’ll save on all sorts of things (i.e. allowances, snacks, toys, graduation presents, vacations, meals, soap, you name it!).
So treat your kids like they work in a Cambodian sock factory and save your money for the things that matter…like porn.
3. Don’t miss a moment
Your child will only be this young once. Best to take advantage of the opportunity while you have it. The opportunity to enjoy each moment of their upbringing: joy, tears and the whole shebang? Hell no! Seize this opportunity to solve some of life’s greatest mysteries, you jerk.
Is homosexuality learned? I don’t know. Maybe you could try to make your kid gay. If it works, there’s a chance you have stumbled across something.
Can a kid learn every language in the world if exposed to enough international TV? You can find out.
If you convince your child that he/she has latent superpowers, would that make them better or worse at tetherball? Try it!
The thing is, we still have no idea how a lot of stuff works and experimenting on (your own) children has a long a noble history in science. Coincidentally, I stumbled across this most enlightening article today. Further, most of what we know about kids is from this Swiss dude, Piaget. He did all sorts of crap to his kids to figure out what makes them tick. Circadian rhythms? Ya that was some dude who had watched too much Exo Squad wiring his kid up to a machine night after night. Aside from all the secrets of the universe which can be unlocked by fucking with your kid, aside from all the fame that will shower down on you as a result of solving the world’s problems, it’s just plain fun too.
My daddy loves me
Feed your kid ten bags of hickory sticks, put them in a maze and have your kid find a bottle of water. Or put them in a cage with exactly one precise way to get out. The best part is, you can actually use this later. All the small successes over monumental obstacles will actually make your job easier and your kid a total badass.
Timmy: “Shucks Dad. Fractions sure are hard.”
You: “Shut the fuck up, Timmy. Remember that time in the maze? Remember the cage? It took you a couple months in that last one, but you figured it out, didn’t you?”
Timmy: “Gee Dad. I guess you’re right. I just have to keep trying.”
25 years later:
Timmy: “They told me I would never be able to raise an army of killer ostriches who play bagpipes, but I showed them!” Bow down to your leader!!”
GARG ‘N UAIR DHUISGEAR!!!
See that people. That is parenting.
Comic book scientists are just AWFUL at what they do. They don’t keep records, they don’t keep tabs on their experiments and they most certainly do not share. It seems like the entire comic book universe has completely ignored an important scientific doctrine: everything should be replicated a million times. Even worse, those we call heroes are actually the superpowered equivalents of that selfish jerk, Jamie, who always wanted all the construction toys. God we hated him.
Here’s the thing: a huge number of comic book characters are created in the lab. Sometimes by accident other times not. Given this comic universe quirk, shouldn’t society be absolutely spilling over with superpeople? Even better, wouldn’t the world be better if everyone was super? Okay not that, but at least some people (bulletproof cops, immune doctors, teleporting peeping toms). Experiments go awry, sure. But how many times? The whole point of the lab is CONTROL people!
Have you seen that new hero with exactly the same colours and abilities as our spider?
Spiderman was created in a lab – sort of. Petey Parker was bitten by an experiment and turned into the cirque-du-soleil-on-steroids act we know as Spiderman. I get that the spider escaped and no one knows what it did, yadda yadda yadda. But being a scientist, wouldn’t you notice? I mean, if one of my billion dollar experiments went missing I would either a) find the fucking thing or b) consult my meticulous records and recreate it. Having done so, I would be sure to subject it to vigorous experimentation, which would of course lead me to the conclusion that this spider grants people super powers. But no one ever followed up on that spider. It was like they all decided spiders were icky anyways and turned their attention to more lucrative research like how far penguins can shit.
But it’s not just Spidey.
Captain America was the lucky recipient of a steroid-colada which made him Tony Little. But alas, this formula was destroyed and the only person to remember it was (gasp), Captain America himself. Now instead of saying to himself, “gee, I hate Nazis so I should share this recipe for the ultimate soldier, shorten this war and save a generation,” he said “cool. Ya, I’m pretty awesome. Fuck you world.” What. A. Dick.
Don’t worry. It’s a Russian bear.
How about Wolverine? He was part of an entire government project and they still pooched it. They figured his healing factor was handy and even used it to save Deadpool from a terribly unromantic death by Cancer. They fucking cured cancer! But they never applied that amazing healing factor again; they never cloned/bred Wolverine to create a new species of healthier humans. They didn’t do shit with it. I can’t really blame Wolverine for his resistance to being a guinea pig, but really, they had it in their hands. Hell, they even knew where Deadpool was if they needed to grab another sample. But they never looked at it again.
Likewise, Luke Cage was part of veritable Tuskegee affair. But oh no! This one made the African American dude awesome. Best burn that recipe now!
Next: the incredible Hulk. Gamma ray experiment gone wrong makes meek Bruce Banner a Green God of War. Alternatively, similar experiment makes asshole coworker super smart. Either way, these would be good things to share!
…Maybe only super book-smart
It’s not even just the heroes. Loads of villains are laboratory raised, too. Just look at Morbius, the Lizard, Clayface, Bane. They even did it on purpose, so you know they had to have an idea of how it worked. Then there’s Sandman, Hydroman and the like. Though not deliberate, their transformations could still easily be traced back to a source. You know, if anyone actually investigated anything.
So maybe those are genetic quirks. Maybe some of this stuff is just biology gone awry.
More proof? Sure.
Tony Stark makes weapons for a living, so we have a pretty good idea that he is a colossal douche. That aside, he starts to moonlight as a super hero using an inexhaustible energy source and marvelous armour. Once again, rather than share these inventions which could simultaneously lock down world peace and end world hunger, Stark decides it would be way cooler to go it solo. Even with the douche factor in mind, he would make WAY more money if he were to cash in on these. Fuck, take this to Dragon’s Den. They would let you keep majority share! Either way, he is a douchey douche’s douche.
And then there’s Batman. Batman has more awesome toys than a kid on Party Mamas. Batman has a boat that can submerge! Okay so that already exists, but Bruce Wayne had it way before. How about the Batwing. That could not only hover before Hawker even thought of a Harrier, but could also submerge. Ya Batman is secretly Steve Zissou. Not only could his innovations help law enforcement agencies around the world (industrial-grade utility belts, batarangs, shark spray, etc.), but he could revolutionize the leisure craft industry. Instead, he dresses up in BDSM gear and puts the hurt on mentally ill children’s entertainers.
All he needs is a hug
And then we have Mr. Fantastic. Reed Richards is one of the keenest scientific minds on the planet. He has created mind-blowing inventions like shrinking rays, the Fantasticars (oh ya, that’s a thing), interdimensional portals and even a new trendy fabric. Yet absolutely NONE of this is ever shared with society. Hell, he’s even pulled a Richard Branson and jimmied up a number of homemade spaceships. But naw, who would want to go to space, amIright? Me, you selfish son of a bitch.
Once again, the villains are no different. Scratch that. Villains are different because it’s understandable that they don’t give a fuck whether anyone else has their technology. Scratch that again. Villains could make more money if they would just sell their inventions with a royalty/patent/licensing deal (more Dragon’s Den) than through a life of petty crimes. Shocker’s gauntlets, Vulture’s age and gravity defying harness, Chameleon’s holographic belt buckle, Doc Oc’s arms, Doctor Doom’s everything: all of these things could revolutionize our very existence. And that’s only Spiderman villains.
So far, scientists, be they good or evil, are morally bankrupt and lack any sort of business acumen whatever.
From everything I’ve read, magic takes a vast knowledge of the arcane arts and a deft skill which can only be perfected through years of assiduous study. As such, I’m counting this as a scientific venture. Magic is a known and accepted part of the comic book universe, yet none of the perks are ever exploited.
I could stop global warming, but I’m busy changing channels with eye blinks
Dr. Strange, the Sorceror Supreme, can mess with the very fabric of time and space, but I still have to sit on a plane for 22 hours to get to Timbuktu. Likewise Doctor Fate is imbued with the power of an ancient sorcerer via some nifty clothes. Does he ever turn over these items to magicologists to study and distribute the knowledge. NO. He just runs around constantly losing them. And on that, why are there no magicologists? If magic is a thing, is no one interested in how it works or how we can better our lives with it? Is no one interested in how we could patch the Ozone layer or go back and prevent the atrocities carried out by the Nestle (oh this, too)? These and various other magic users claim all this stuff is esoteric. Newsflash jerks: it’s only esoteric because you refuse to teach anyone.
The existence of God
Another thing that is never looked into or applied to life is the existence of higher beings. It is proven time and time again that Hell is real, there are angels, there are world eating destroyers, there are Elder Gods, New Gods, elemental spirits, you name it. Yet none of this ever trickles down to the average person. You know one way to prevent crime? Prove that you will ACTUALLY go to ACTUAL Hell and be raped with an ACTUAL pineapple. Forever. Something tells me that lady’s purse just got a whole lot less appealing. However, no theologists, clergy, or anyone really think twice about this. Also, Jesus in a comic? No way. But a Hawaiian Shark God? That is definitely viable. Apparently indigenous religions around the world had it right all along. But if that was true, these Gods surely don’t give a damn that their loyal followers were being exterminated or that their shrines were being mowed over for highways. Kind of makes you wonder…
So in summary, the comic book universe is trapped in an age so dark, no amount of jolting (from direct proof of God to potions of invisibility) can incite even the merest hint of curiosity. Do you know how many publications someone could get out of pyrokinesis? At least 2. Yet even this does not serve as any motivation. What kind of universities are spewing you “scientists” out?! I find the comic academia guilty of gross apathy and incompetence and sentence them to 25 more years of exploding spontaneously and being stomped by their own creations. You selfish bastards.
Finally and with only several months of added pressure on my shoulders, here we have the third, and final round of Marvel v. DC: Politics! If you haven’t been following, Parts 1 and 2 were pretty stellar. Read them. Now.
Real subtle Coca-Cola, I’m onto you
So, as we’ve seen, comics have been used as a vessel by which the powers that be manipulate the minds of our young ones: America is good. White is right. Spandex is totally straight! LIES LIES LIES!
Okay Marvel, you’re up first. Let’s stick with chronology, shall we. Ah the Nazis. They were fairly horrible c*nts with a hard on for mass murdering and building highways. Marvel personified Nazism in its evil posterboy, Red Skull. Don’t be deceived by the name; his skull was really more of a crimson. Red Skull was a Nazi and, quite honestly, still one of the scariest things Marvel has ever churned out. Think Skeletor but more organized, better equipped and way the hell more hateful. I can’t really hate on Marvel too hard for this image though. What’s scary, revolting and evil? War. What better symbol for the evils of war but a ostensibly bleeding skull? Plus Nazis were giant dickholes who deserved to die slowly from Type II diabetes.
Of course this was a wonderful opportunity for Captain America to shine. What was the one thing that could destroy a crazy, super-powered fascist? Justice. American Justice. And what’s better is that Captain America didn’t even use weapons! He wasn’t attacking others, he was defending the American way of life - with a shield! He was going to protect the American people from the evils of Nazi Germany (and bash their faces in while he was at it). What surprises me is that Red Skull had any beef with Captain America in the first place. I mean think about it: he was blonde, blue-eyed and was obviously the epitome of soldier.
A technicoloured Gary Busey look-alike Red Skull may have been. However, Marvel thought they had to up the ante with even more Nazis. Baron Wolfgang von Strucker had a monocle! And Geist was Hitler’s cyborg adviser, which makes him pretty damn dickish. Thanks to Arnim Zola, a mad Nazi biochemist, we got the Hate-Monger. Have you heard of Hitler? Ya, him. No lie. Arnim Zola transferred Hitler’s “essence” to a clone that then moved to South America. Oh and he wore a clan hood. Seriously, I think the evil SS (SS Schutzstaffel, not SS super-subtle) skull guy was obvious enough but just in case we were all stupid enough to miss it, here’s KKK Hitler. Got it. Germans are bad. Marvel, I underestimated you.
Also known as Herr Holocaust
But wait, there’s more. Germany is not only the Axis of Evil because of the Nazis. No, nothing to mundane. Deutschland also hosted other baddies such as Doctor Faustus (yes, Faust), who sold his soul to Mephistopheles (the Devil), and Dracula. Because what are the worst things ever? Nazis, vampires and Satan. So in a nutshell, Nazis suck and Germany is home of evil incarnate. Am I reading you, Marvel?
Perhaps I overstate the case. Marvel did create some German heroes, too. One fine example is Blitzkrieg. Why he’s named after the Nazi stratagem that conquered several countries, pushed the Allies back to Dunkirk and almost won WWII for the Axis, we may never know. More likely than not, it was the only German word Marvel knew besides zeitgeist and wunderbar. Anyways, Blitzkrieg was a hero for exactly one reason. No not superpowers, silly. Everyone has those. Blitzkrieg made it his mission to spread democracy. Ya, they are exactly that subtle. Another example was…errr…Zeitgeist. God dammit Marvel. And just in case Germany felt left out of the “Captain” crew (Captain America, Britain), Hauptmann Deutschland literally translates to Captain Germany. Oh and he was all anti-Fascist too. You know, with all these US-loving super-powered Germans around, it’s amazing the Nazis ever gained a foothold at all. Somewhere in here, I should mention Baron von Blitzschlag, too. BvB was another Nazi geneticist, but he came to the US to apply his ill-gotten research to a super-soldier program. The moral: Germans are okay, so long as they’re American.
I love apple pie und ze Ryan Seacrest.
If you’re German, you shouldn’t feel too bad. Marvel hated Communists, too. After the WWII fervor died down, Marvel had to turn its hate-o-ray (patent pending) on the next big enemy of canned cheese and hot pants: Eastern Europe. And what better example of punch-to-the-nuts subtle symbolism than Dr. Doom? Doom was the dictatorial ruler of Latveria. Oh don’t worry, it’s not like that sounds anything like a real country or anything. Doom, as the embodiment of the Iron Curtain, wore an iron suit. It wasn’t even like a chastity thing. He actually opted to wear this piece of shit suit, like, always. Fashion faux pas aside, Doom was an awesome reflection of American fear. He was a technological genius, often rivaling Reed Richards’ scientific prowess. Even when unmasked, he was ALWAYS a decoy or a robot. They never knew who the real Doom was or when he would strike. If MacArthur was in the Fantastic Four, he would have gone out of his mind. Although Doom (Eastern Bloc) and Richards (USA) were once friends (allies), Doom became twisted and bitter and bent on destroying the world through brute force, technological mastery and secret alliances with powerful people. Hey quit that, Doom! You’re stealing American Thunder!
If only voting was simpler!!
After all is said and done though, who is can possibly be more evil than the Russians? Omega Red was their pet project and you know what he did? Suck the life out of everyone around him. Just like Communism. Incidentally, Omega Red was made of materials that were just shy of being as good as good ol’ American adamantium. The Russian was also Russian. I felt the need to clarify that. He was super strong and also had the added bonus of being a blithering idiot.
Some Russians were okay though…so long as they defected to the states. Colossus was also super strong and not so smart. Then there was Winterguard, a super hero team which comprised of a bear, a less-than-stellar copy of the iron man armour, another Captain <enter country> and a robot named Sputnik. All in all, everything Russian was a cheap facsimile of great American stuff. Marvel was good enough to grant the Ruskis enormous muscles and tiny brains though so win-win?
The Titanic Three was a pretty great team of villains as well. You can’t say Cold War any better than these guys. Radioactive man was Chinese and obviously was a human nuke, Titanium man was a Red and symbolized industry and then the Crimson Dynamo was just really really into vodka.
Okay last one for Marvel. What about China? You must like them, right? They gave you the good half of Rush Hour. Well Marvel actually avoided making them super evil. Kudos? Not quite. So there are these 5 Chinese brothers, right? Who can merge into one really cool guy (Collective Man), right? And this guy has the abilities of the ENTIRE NATION OF CHINA. So apparently they don’t just look the same, they ARE the same. Billions of people=one guy who is somewhat notable to Americans. No wonder they’re hording your dollars and making you dance you racist shits. While not exactly propaganda, it does dehumanize billions of people, so I’m going to count it.
We are Siamese if you please…
Now that we’ve seen Marvel at it’s finest, I think it good to mull over how we can blame them for our racist, xenophobic tendencies. Oh, you’re a DC fan? Well, fine. Stay tuned for Marvel v. DC: Politics Pt.3-2 - Propaganda for a look into the Justice League!
Things aren’t going so well. You’re a nerdy, untalented person without parents or motivation. Also you live in a suspiciously dangerous city for some reason. You often wonder if a huge inciting incident would finally inspire you to embrace your destiny and dedicate your life to justice, but what are the odds of that ever happening?