For Sparkly- cute things

So, Sparkly and her new date are getting along really well, it seems like. She’s always talking about how nice he is, and how much fun she has teasing him (sexually and otherwise.) It’s really sweet. They have two running jokes already, which Sparkly loves and keeps telling me about:

He uses his unreasonably good memory for numbers to tease her about how little she eats (e.g. “You bought a whole order of french fries and then you only ate twelve”)

She tries to maneuver him into saying something “rude” about her (like commenting on her weight, or how she doesn’t know much about math/hard sciences/etc) while he tries to turn it into a compliment. Generally ends in him saying “no comment” and both of them breaking down laughing.

Dear whoever apparently Googled (or similar) looking for a second post about Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries– I haven’t posted it yet, but it will appear eventually I promise. Sorry, I guess?

(WordPress doesn’t always tell me what search terms people use, but when it does, they’re usually boring, so I felt the need to comment.)

Bad habits:

Writing stories where there’s sex and also really unsexy plot stuff.

This one is going to start with sex in an alley, and then progress to an awkward conversation in an all-night diner. Supposed to be the other way around, probably. And this is with a moderate does of “character is way more curious and adventurous than they should be, because otherwise nothing would happen”.

Stuff that bothers me about MFMM part 1

This is not polished at all but I’m posting it anyway. I might do a better version later.

Stuff that bothers me:

  • Phryne Fisher the savior and spokesperson for all sorts of marginalized people, always saying the right things.

I’m going to start by talking about “The Blood of Juana the Mad” (s2.8) because I just saw it and it’s fresh in my mind.

So, first of all: I think Beatrice Mason is autistic. I could also see autism + OCD, or maybe OCD by itself, I don’t really know enough about OCD to have an opinion on that. But anyway, something along those lines.

One the one hand, I love that Phryne is understanding and tries to connect with Beatrice. And joining Beatrice in doing something “strange” (she was leaning her forehead against the wall, because she was tired and overwhelmed) is a great, simple, powerful way to do that. (It is literally what the essay of wonderfulness that I was just gushing over recommends– or part of it, anyway.) And I love that Mac stands up for her too– the gist of it being “she’s strange, but she is reliable, she is in touch with reality, and she does genuinely good work.” I love that Beatrice is right that people are following her and plotting to steal her research, that that’s not just paranoia.

I… not love, I guess, but approve, that she is bullied in very serious, scary ways, because that is realistic. It’s good to see bullying taken seriously and not written off as basically harmless. And oh, anti-skills! (as this blog calls them) “It’s polite to accept an invitation,” Beatrice says… an invitation from a bully, which was actually a malicious lie, and resulted in her spending the night on a couch in the men’s dorm, drugged unconscious, and having people accuse her of sexual impropriety. But it’s polite to accept an invitation, and she thought he might actually be serious about apologizing, so she went. Somebody taught her to accept invitations, and didn’t teach her that she might need to say no sometimes, or how to decide who to trust. Somebody thought they were teaching her social skills (though they might not have called it that in the 1910s) and they ended up teaching her the opposite of a skill.
…And someone who hadn’t already been exposed to that concept might not see it that way, yeah? They’d just see it as her being ridiculous and overly literal? I don’t know what to think about that. My sense is that we’re supposed to have sympathy with her over this, but it’s hard to tell.

What I don’t love– well, that essay I mentioned is addressing parents dealing with toddlers. Doing that to an adult verges on being flippant and condescending. It could seem like Phryne expects this one largely empty gesture to do all the work of gaining Beatrice’s trust. And– I think Phryne says something like “You’re right, sometimes there are just too many people and too much noise, and this is relaxing”?– acting as if she feels the same way Beatrice does, when she clearly doesn’t, can seem like Phryne is belittling Beatrice’s situation.

The other thing I don’t love is Phryne’s impassioned speech near the end of the episode, about how wonderful Beatrice is and how she deserves to be in medical school. (I wish I remembered it more clearly/actually had the DVD myself, but I don’t, so I’m afraid I can’t go into too much detail.) I don’t like it for two reasons. I don’t like that Phryne is the one who gives it, as opposed to Beatrice speaking for herself or defending herself (and I think this is part of an overarching pattern, like I said way back at the top of this post.) Second, I don’t like that anyone gives a speech like this at all. For me, it’s answering a question that isn’t worthy of an answer. Obviously Beatrice deserves to be there. She got accepted in the first place, after all– despite the various biases the professors might have against her– and she is functioning as a student and passing her classes. Getting accepted, getting passing grades, and not doing anything flagrantly wrong, like cheating– that’s all the standard any of the other students are held to, to keep their positions. You do not need to be beautiful and wonderful and brilliant despite your flaws to get to stay in medical school. You just need to pass your fucking classes.

The fact that Beatrice is weird enough to get labelled as really off somehow, as crazy, despite the fact that she is basically successful at dealing with with her daily life and her classes, should not change that. No one should need to justify why she is there.

—–

Zoom out one step.

When I was liveblogging live taking-notes-on this episode, because I didn’t have internet access, I referred to Phryne as the Designated Idiot Whisperer as a pithy way of putting point number one, because I was also still thinking about her cousin (if I remember correctly?) Arthur from “Murder in the Dark” (s1.12).

Now, the way Phryne treats both of them is like 90% WONDERFUL. What I’d like is some more detail. Rather than Phryne just always being kind and insightful and Right and saying the Right Things and being an example to the other characters– I’d like to know why she feels the way she does about this. We can guess that it’s likely something to do with Arthur– she’s known him since she was little, he’s probably the first person with a mental illness/intellectual disability/etc. that she met. But, (as is important to point out on a regular basis, murders of disabled children being as common as they are) being related to someone who has a disability does not automatically give you sympathetic and positive feelings towards your relative or people like them. So, how did Phryne come to feel the way she does? What makes her so determined to be a friend to everyone who needs an understanding friend, even when she doesn’t have firsthand understanding of their situation?

I want to know because, first of all, it’s interesting! It’s background, it’s character development.

And second of all, because I think the story of someone who’s always right is far less helpful for changing people’s minds than a story about someone who learns how to do the right thing, and has reasons for what they do. Everything I said about the show dealing well with social issues– every time, Phryne is on the “right” side like it’s automatic, like of course she is, it’s obviously the right thing to do.  And from a certain point of view it is obvious and it should be automatic.

But getting to that point of view is not something everyone does.

Unlearning all the stuff that your society, your family, your literal teachers all teach you about which people are worth paying attention to and which problems are real is not easy, it is not automatic. It takes effort. It also takes a certain amount of letting go of Being Right and Always Doing the Right Thing in favor of listening to people who are different from you, and putting what they actually need and want ahead of your desire to be consistent and right.

Phryne is a great example of caring about bigotry and working against it. She’s no example at all of what to do when you accidentally make things worse instead, or when you come across a situation you don’t understand, or when the person you’re trying to help disagrees with you about what you should be doing– all things that, in the real world, will happen sooner or later, no matter how much you care, and no matter how much you try to be aware of what you should do.

 ——

Edit: So I sort of conflated what Phryne says to the murderer near the end of the episode, with what she says to one of the students earlier. Oops.

I came home and ate a chocolate chip muffin, and my stomach decided to have ALL THE GAS so I’m staying awake, burping repeatedly. I’m basically okay, though.

I honestly can’t tell if that set of interactions was incredibly condescending, or genuinely considerate and kind. More later.

Lately I’ve been watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

which is a lovely Australian show about a lady detective in Melbourne, in… sometime in the 1920s? It’s based on a book series, which I haven’t gotten to read yet.

Why you should watch this show, very briefly:

  • Very exciting and complex mystery plots with lots of romance on the side
  • Eye candy galore
  • There’s a lesbian recurring character! She’s a doctor, and she goes around in gorgeous suits with her hair pinned up.
  • It deals with trauma/PTSD in a reasonably respectful way
  • It tries to talk about other ~social issues~ and is generally okay about them, e.g.
    • There are several characters with other mental illnesses, who are certainly portrayed less badly than they might be, even if I don’t like everything about it
    • The doctor from point #3 is lauded for giving out honest information about contraception, and unsafe abortions are a plot point a couple of times
    • A scientist who’s racist and pro-eugenics is the villain in one episode
    • In terms of representation of people of color, I wouldn’t put it above “okay”. I think there’s only one recurring character who isn’t white. But he is pretty cool.
    • There are recurring characters with ties to socialist/communist organizations, who are still considered good people
    • The main character deals with various kinds of sexism
    • Lots of other Cool Independent Women who aren’t recurring characters, though unfortunately, due to the nature of the show, a lot of them turn out to be involved in sordid murder plots. But really, there’s an impressive number of women-owned businesses.

Later: what bothers me about it.

At this point I sort of feel like I should tell myself not to dwell on it.

Say to myself, “You can handle it. It’ll be okay. Stop going over how bad it is, and focus on being okay instead.”

But I also don’t want to. It is awful and I have every reason to feel awful about it.

This is mildly unusual in that I don’t usually feel conflicted about things like this. Either I have a feeling or I don’t.

——

Sophie from An Unclean Legacy would definitely advise me to get on with being okay, despite any desire to respect tragedy, awfulness, etc.

I just don’t want to forget that it IS awful, given the absence of people who agree that it is.

But I do need to get on with it. You have to go to the lonesome valley, etc.