Obedientia Fortuna

There’s this sense among the privileged that those who do not share their privilege are just going out of their way to get attention. As if the fuss they cause about accommodations or safety is all in fun. Any experience other than their own is some kind of Hollywood myth. If somehow the disadvantaged are not faking it for the lulz, then the Lutheran devil kicks in and, clearly they’re just not trying hard enough or otherwise are of poor moral character, because why else would they be in such an absurd condition?

“Well,” grunts Joe America, “obviously you brought it on yourself, or else the universe in its wisdom has judged against you, so why should I respond with anything other than contempt? (But clearly you must be pretending. For reasons that I can’t articulate at the moment. It’s got to be a scheme. And I’ll show you.)”

I feel like “I Won’t Let You Win” should be the national motto.

This mentality also more or less defines hard Internet culture. The worst thing a person can do, by Internet Law, is suggest they have something different or remarkable to contribute.

We could double up by printing “You Think You’re Better Than Me?!” on back of the dollar bill.

And that’s the thing. A disability, or a marginalized identity, sets people apart, therefore drawing attention, therefore making the less privileged seem in some small way remarkable, which draws suspicion and anger from those who feel a regular need to demonstrate a worth that they’re paranoid they can’t perform.

We’ve got these strong markers as to what makes a person a success. What makes a real man, a proper woman. A true adult. You gotta win, gotta earn more, do better. Gotta collect all the pieces on the board and earn the praise. Maybe get famous? A winner deserves fame, after all.

Our whole culture is competition—and a competition has standard rules. So what are these people doing on the margins, if not cheating by setting themselves apart? That’s not even a real lane! How does this fit into the game I’ve been taught? Well, got to police that. Just because I don’t understand the grift doesn’t mean I can’t see when someone is playing by different rules. And in the unlikely event they’re not faking it… well. They lost. That’s how a game works. Why are we wasting time here?

In sum, ha, ha, the driving myth of our society is garbage.

Horatio Alger can go hang himself with his bootlaces.

The Drapers

There is a recent article in The Atlantic that I have neglected to read, that questions why viewers tend to dislike Betty Draper while they approve of Don, and whether there is a double standard at work. They’re both flawed characters shaped by their environment, so what could explain the different reactions?

This sort of article irritates me, so I’ve skipped it. The answer seems clear enough that I wonder why the question need be asked. Maybe for some people there is a double standard at work, but I can’t really be concerned with them. For me the it’s all about the kids. I’m not too fond of either senior Draper, but whereas Don is distant and neglectful toward everyone, his kids included, Betty is selectively violent toward them — particularly Sally.

Early on, I felt great sympathy toward Betty. Don was passively abusive and oblivious to her needs; she was increasingly unhappy but in denial about it. Then she reached a certain epiphany, where she realized how unhealthy she was in her current situation.

For a while it looked as if she was going to pull herself up and become a strong character. Yet instead of becoming an active agent in her own life, she simply began to leach hostility — particularly toward those weaker than her. At that point her children, especially her daughter, became a scapegoat for all of her anger and anxieties.

I understand the reasons why Betty is as she is; it’s too late for her. She was broken way too early, and the wound was reinforced for way too long. She doesn’t know how to be a whole person. Still, she should have the self-awareness or control to avoid actively abusing her daughter in much the way that she was abused herself. Reasons aren’t excuses, you know.

Don isn’t Dad of the Decade either (except in a historically representative sense). He seems to forget that his kids exist, even when they’re right in front of him. I’m sure if he were granted sole or major custody he would find his own pattern of bad behavior toward the kids. As it is, he’s more of a non entity. That’s its own problem, but… that’s pretty much all there is to it. It’s harder to hate a lack of action than to hate clear negative action.

I suppose there may also be an element of annoyance at having invested such sympathy in a character who later flaunted it all — and who now, from her later behavior, seems worthy of very little concern.

Either way, I see no reason to root for either character. They’re not even real people in the context of the drama; they’re the biggest allegorical foils in a show that’s one big allegorical foil. The only thing to do is sit back and observe their behaviors in context, and to muse about what their actions say about the evolution of society over the past fifty years. Still, yeah. Some behaviors annoy me more than others.