“Excuse me, sir, but your stupid is showing”

2/9/2015

Ah, Mr. King, you’ve done it again. I have been waiting to get my hands on some of your most recent novels, but, poor as I am, have had to be content with staring longingly at the book section of Walmart. Last week, I finally got my copy of Mr. Mercedes. As usual, I find in your writing a refreshing blend of humor, uniqueness, and, of course, captivating plot and characters. Some people might call you strictly a pop fiction writer, but I would wager they hadn’t read enough of your works, especially the later ones, to be able to discern your true talent. For instance, the tying together of a meta- plot arc spanning basically the whole of your writing career in the Dark Tower series took epic writing chops, so sayeth this humble writer. Some reviews have no doubt referred to your writing in “literary” terms, and I think this is more accurate, because you don’t just write stories, you write characters…real people. Yes, I am fully aware I sound like a gushy fangirl, but, believe me, I am coming to a point (I think.) I read and love your writing so much I know it has influenced my own, from the “artistic liberties” I take with sentence structure to the very tone of my writing. Your stories make me think.

Mr. Mercedes is no different. I am still in the thick of the novel, but the villain in Mr. Mercedes has gotten me thinking, and… I think, therefore I BLOG. Although I have some educational background in criminal justice, and have done quite a bit of reading on sociopathic killer-types, I really can’t say for sure what your “typical” villain might be like. Brady Hartsfield seems to fit a lot of the established characteristics (and maybe some stereotypes?) for sociopaths. He’s arrogant, narcissistic, seems socially underdeveloped yet is great at faking proper social interactions. His moral compass is completely off kilter (he still thinks he knows right and wrong, but his morals definitely don’t conform to social norms.) He’s also fairly intelligent…and perhaps also predictably, he does consider himself smarter than the rest of us sheeple.

And yet, like most criminal/villain types in pop culture, he is stupid. Not in the intellectual sense, so much as the moral sense, I suppose. As if we didn’t have enough reason to dislike Hartsfield for committing mass vehicular homicide (and then writing a letter to brag gleefully about it,) you wrote him as a casually unapologetic racist. While he doesn’t overtly go out of his way, at least not that I have read yet, to commit acts specifically for a racial agenda, throughout the narrative of his internal thoughts, he displays his tasteless views on everything from inter-racial dating to black people with “white names,” and peppered in there, in case you need more convincing, is his flagrant use of the N-word.

Now while all of this of course did achieve the likely purpose of causing me to dislike him even more, I found also that it put me off of his “character” as well. What I mean, I guess, is that many readers may dislike a villain for his actions, but like the function he serves in the story. Let’s face it; some characters make good villains (Hannibal Lector immediately springs to mind as an iconic good villain.) They have flare, charisma. They’re clever. Some of them even start out with sort of sympathetic reasons behind their villainous actions.

This douchebag, Hartsfield, while admittedly “clever” in the sense of planning and execution of his crimes, has sort of lost any credibility (with me, at least) as a good villain. As intelligent as he may be in some ways, the fact that he displays such racist ideals just proves his ignorance and selective use of intellectual and logical thinking, and thus causes him to go down in my estimation, even as a villain. While this may seem like an obvious statement (uh, duh, racism is stupid) what was more curious to me was how this changed my dislike for him, from simply thinking of him as a nut-job with a murderous agenda to thinking of him as a narcissistic, weak-minded brat.

So, if there is a point to this whole excursion into mental diarrhea, I suppose it’s that (in my book at least), If you’re a villain, it’s okay to be a psychopathic killer… as long as you’re not a fucking idiot too.

Thanks for coming along, readers.

Related:  https://alienredqueen.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/tunnel-vision-more-on-the-predictable-pathology-of-bad-guys/

Advertisements

The Cycle

“I asked you a question.”

He’s trying to control the conversation.  Don’t let him.  You have the power now.  He’ll never control you again.

“Say something…say something!” His lapse in composure is brief, but she sees the rage that she now knows must have always been there.

“What do you want me to say?”

“I want you to answer the question.”

A pause.  “How could you do what you did?  Those women…”

“Have you never been taught not to answer a question with a question?”  She’s never heard that note of condescension in his voice before.  Not in 8 years of marriage or the two years they dated before that.

I never knew him at all…who is this man?

“You still love me…”  His eyes pin her to the spot, like a butterfly mounted in a display case.  “You miss me.  You need me.  Don’t you?”

don’t need him.  And I don’t love him, not anymore.  But, God help me, I do miss him.  At least, I miss the person I thought he was.

“Answer me.”  Somehow this quiet command is more frightening than all of his rage.

I’m not scared of him.  He can’t hurt me anymore.  I’m not scared, I’m…  Defiant,”Why should I?”

“Because I have something you want.”

“You don’t have anything I want anymore!”  No!  Don’t let him see your anger!  If you’re angry, he wins.

He smiles.  “We both know that’s not true.  I know where your sister is.”

bflies-071

Fight Fair: When the Love is Gone

When the Love is Gone…

Healing-a-broken-heart2

What’s Left?

Most of us have been there– a relationship that just didn’t work out.  Not just someone you dated once or twice, but a relationship that actually took off, but then for some reason, began to lose steam.  Or worse– crash and burn in a fiery conflagration of suspicion and hostility after some transgression or betrayal on the part of one or both parties.

And then what’s left?  Broken hearts, bitterness, tears… and an apparent disregard for the feelings of someone we once claimed to love.

When I went through this myself, back at then end of high school, beginning of college, I simply couldn’t fathom why I was being treated so badly.  The answer soon became apparent;  the lying, the flagrant disrespect for me, disregard for my feelings, and blatant hostility, even in the face of my tears.    This was the “man” who had once begged me in tears to come back to him.  Now he was threatening to cut his wrists in front of me.  The narcissism.  The manipulation.  The threats and name-calling.  I’m pretty sure my ex had sociopathic tendencies…

Obviously, not all exes are “psychos” (incidentally one of his favorite insults to hurl at me,) however, even perfectly normal people have the capacity to be emotionally brutal to their partners.  Something I used to say often, and which I believe is true for a great many people (but at least I was upfront about it) is that when I get hurt, I get angry.

It’s a defense mechanism.  However, often, the person on the receiving end of  verbal darts carelessly slung around in an argument are often innocent (subjectively speaking) of any wrong-doing—  at least, the type of wrong doing that would warrant such emotional warfare.

You’re such a psycho…

No one will ever put up with you…

Where has [it] gotten you? You have nothing going for you…

I understand striking out when you’re hurt.  I’ve even been known to throw a punch or two, back in my younger days.  But I learned a lot from my ex.  I hate to say it, but it’s true.

I learned how I never wanted to be treated again.  I learned what I wouldn’t put up with from someone.  I learned not to fight back using name-calling or worse…giving a liar a black eye.  I also learned that I didn’t like the person I had become as a result of being with my ex…  Insecure, and abusive in my own right.couples-fighting

But this post isn’t really about me or my ex.  It’s about how people treat one another.  Relationships are complicated, and blame goes both ways.  Maybe your partner has hurt you.  Maybe you are in the midst of a break-up, with no foreseeable hope of reconciliation.  But do you really want to hurt this person you once loved, or maybe even still love?  Silence can be a very damaging and passive-aggressive form of fighting…

But sometimes silence is your friend.  If you are losing control, and you know you might say something you can’t take back, keep your mouth shut.  Don’t just walk away, but tell your partner you need a few minutes to yourself and then walk away.  And if your partner tells you they need a moment, let them walk away.  You can save yourself and your partner a lot of hurt.  Even if you see no future with them, do you really need the stress of fighting with them?

Sometimes the problem is even more basic.  Some people just don’t care if they hurt someone else’s feelings.

I can’t stress it enough– when this is a repeated pattern, especially if it’s not in the heat of the moment (and thus not an issue of self control) this is a very clear sign.  I learned it myself, after too long being mistreated, waiting for apologies that never came.  When your partner no longer cares if they hurt you, it’s time to move on.

To everyone else…   fight fair.  If not for your partner’s sake, for your own.  Being nasty to your partner is not conducive to mending a relationship.  Don’t take the bait and give into trading insults.  Even if  things don’t work out, you will know you did the best you could and stood on higher ground.  Not to be better than them, but to be a better you.