BINGEwVANDEE Podcast to Launch Soon

Podcast Logo

By Vandee

Hello VanProver readers (whoever you are).

I just wanted to apologize for lack of content in 2017 – I’ve been hard at work prepping my upcoming podcast BINGEwVANDEE.  I’ll be releasing the first wave of episodes pretty soon, and I’ll be sure to include links on VanProver.

Big thanks to VanProver contributors Dan and Felicia for maintaining their blog Time Well Spent , and allowing me to feature their content on VanProver.

As always, VanProver is open to contributions from damn near anyone.  Vancouver-centric material is preferred, but I’m not picky.  Email submissions to vandees.email@hotmail.com .

Thank you all for your continued support,

Vandee

Vandee and the #XMasMythos 4: On Christmas Perfection

norman-rockwell-freedom-from-want-1943

By Vandee

Christmas Watch List recent activity:

  • The Muppet Christmas Carol
  • Star Trek Generations
  • 30 Rock – S5E10 – “Christmas Attack Zone”
  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – S6E14 – “A Very Sunny Christmas, Parts 1+2”
  • Blackadder’s Christmas Carol – 1988 Special
  • Clone High – S1E11 – “Snowflake Day: A Very Special Holiday Episode”
  • Community – S1E12 – “Comparative Religion”
  • Family Guy – S3E16 – “A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas”
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – S1E15 – “Deck the Halls”
  • Friends – S3E10 – “The One Where Rachel Quits”
  • Full House – S2E9 – “Our Very First Christmas Show”
  • The Mindy Project – S3E11 – “Christmas”
  • That 70’s Show – S3E9 – “Hyde’s Christmas Rager”
  • The Office – S3E10 – “A Benihana Christmas, Parts 1+2”
  • The Office – S5E11 – “Moroccan Christmas”
  • Seinfeld – S9E10 – “The Strike”
  • Sherlock – S2E1 – “A Scandal in Belgravia”
  • South Park – S18E9 – “#REHASH”
  • South Park – S18E10 – “#HappyHolograms”

 

A merry and joyous December to everyone reading this!

I hope your halls be decked as fuck, and I hope there’s a suitably seasonal drink resting in your hand.

…so if you’re halls are not decked, and if you’re not sipping something festive, know that you’ve killed my Christmas dreams and you’re a terrible person.

That’s how Christmas works, right?

I look deep inside myself, and conjure that one request of fate on which my holiday season will pivot.  If I get what I wish for, Christmas can be deemed “successful”.

Anyone who stands in the way of a reasonable Christmas wish is a Grinch, a Scrooge, a motherfucking humbug – a terrible person.

Years ago, I’d be wishing for a specific Lego set or Xbox game.  Santa usually abided.

These days, I find my Christmas wishes ambiguous – harder to pin down and harder therefor to determine whether or not Christmas is “successful”.

My Christmas season starts on the first weekend of December with a huge holiday bash.  Each year, more people show up, and my turkey scales in proportion.  Like all Christmas wishes, I have expectations around this party – that everyone be fed, that everyone be merry, that I get loads of compliments for my attention to Christmas detail and my bacchanalian commitment to good times.

By all accounts, 2016’s Christmas bash was a success, but not so much so that I can rest on my Christmas laurels – it’s only December 9, and there’s still so much to do.

Gifts, travel, seeing friends and family, watching Christmas movies – so many boxes to tick, and I’m not sure which is the most important.

I don’t know what my Christmas wish is…

…except maybe, succinctly, to have The Perfect Christmas.

My watch list is full of examples of how likely this is to blow up in my face, but I’ma focus on 2001’s “A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas”.

In this entry, Lois’ Christmas cheer comes as a kind of aggressive selflessness: she has a Norman Rockwell holiday in mind, and scurries around trying to make everything perfect for her family and friends.  Peter, meanwhile, embraces the holidays like a kid in a candy store: chasing one Christmas distraction after another to Lois’ frustration.  Predictably, Peter’s selfish desire to drink with his buddies and watch Kiss Saves Santa destroys Lois’ many attempts at holiday perfection.

Admirably, Lois maintains her holiday cheer as everything falls apart around her.  Channeling the spirit of Whoville, she convinces herself that the warm glow of a “Perfect Christmas” doesn’t need material trappings so long as her family is committed to the idea of the season.  She loses it when – after the Griffin’s house, presents, and food go up in flames – she finds out there are no paper towels left to clean up the mess.

Lois rampages around the city, tearing down anything that reminds her of the empty promise of Christmas:

“So you can cook your own damned turkey, wrap your own damned presents – and while you’re at it, you can all ride a one-horse open sleigh to Hell!”

After she terrorizes the town, she is tranquilized, and spends Christmas Day zonked while her family enjoys the simple pleasures they had previously been denied as a result of Lois’ zealous commitment to holiday perfection.

Most likely, the Family Guy writers were trying to make a point about the unappreciated people in our lives that “make Christmas happen”.  The moms who cook for hours, the dads who drive all over town hunting gifts – the Loises of the world who selflessly work behind the scenes of every family Christmas.

Peter is the selfish, unappreciative viewer whose carelessness leads to the mental breakdown of the aforementioned Christmas heroes.

…that would have been my reading of the episode last year…

This year, I’m inclined to think of Peter as the hero of the story, and Lois as the villain.

Perfection is a lie, and a “Perfect Christmas” may be one of the most poisonous lies of all – the idea that everyone enthusiastically submit to the Christmas spirit to satisfy the expectations of the holiday facilitators of the world.

Families feud at Christmas, friends argue at Disneyworld, people are unsatisfied mid-orgasm.

Gathering people together with the demand that everyone be 100% happy for hours on end is an unreasonable expectation – one that will inevitably blow up in the face of the Lois who puts their faith in it.

Better to be the Peter, whose holiday wishes, though selfish, are small and reasonable and lack the existential heft of a “Perfect Christmas”…

So this Christmas I’ll be wishing for safe travels, hearty food, premium whiskey, and time spent with family and friends.  Most importantly, I’ll be working to avoid the temptation to wish for Christmas Perfection.  Hopefully I can lower my expectations of myself and others, and simply enjoy the twinkly distractions of December.

Vandee’s Christmas Watch List 2016

doctor-who-the-snowmen-gallery-1

Pre-season’s greetings everyone!

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to cleanse my pallet of this terrifying election business by embracing the warm glow of commercialized Jesus.

My Christmas fanaticism continues in 2016:

This year, I’ve been learning to play the fiddle with an aim to deliver a set of Christmas tunes on December 24th.  A special thanks goes out to my wife for her patience through many screeching strings and fumbled notes.

Supplementing my decked halls and jolly tunes is my annual Christmas Watch List!

The scrooge narrative seems to resonate this year: a greedy miser lords over us, unwilling to let the warmth of the holiday season melt his icy heart.  Maybe if three ghosts pay a visit to Trump Tower this Christmas Eve, we can get some resolution in 2017…

In the meantime, order your preferred Starbucks holiday bevy, put on your favorite knitted turtleneck, and cozy up with some holiday favorites.  You’ll notice a few repeats from last year, some episodes that are yet to air, and one Czech Christmas special, “Morozko”, which is available on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw2DN4335hU .

I’ll be posting my musings on the Meaning of Christmas as I go through my list.  Feel free to join in, or deride me to your hearts’ content.

Movies A-Z

  • Batman Returns
  • A Christmas Carol (1938)
  • Die Hard
  • Elf
  • Ernest Saves Christmas
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  • Little Women
  • Love Actually
  • Morozko (1964)
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol
  • Prometheus
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Scrooged
  • Star Trek: Generations
  • The Star Wars Holiday Special

TV Episodes A-Z (By Series)

  • 30 Rock – S5E10 – “Christmas Attack Zone”
  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – S6E14 – “A Very Sunny Christmas, Parts 1+2”
  • Blackadder’s Christmas Carol – 1988 Special
  • Bob’s Burgers – S7E7 – “The Last Gingerbread House on the Left”
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine – S3E10 – “Yippie Kayak”
  • Clone High – S1E11 – “Snowflake Day: A Very Special Holiday Episode”
  • Community – S1E12 – “Comparative Religion”
  • Community – S3E10 – “Regional Holiday Music”
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm – S3E9 – “Mary, Joseph, and Larry”
  • Doctor Who – 2012 Special – The Snowmen
  • F is for Family – S1E6 – “O Holy Moly Night”
  • Family Guy – S3E16 – “A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas”
  • Family Matters – S2E13 – “Have Yourself a Merry Winslow Christmas”
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – S1E15 – “Deck the Halls”
  • Friends – S3E10 – “The One Where Rachel Quits”
  • Full House – S2E9 – “Our Very First Christmas Show”
  • Futurama – S2E4 – “Xmas Story”
  • Happy Endings – S2E9 – “Grinches Be Crazy”
  • Lost –S4E5 – “The Constant”
  • The Mindy Project – S3E11 – “Christmas”
  • New Girl – S2E11 – “Santa”
  • That 70’s Show – S3E9 – “Hyde’s Christmas Rager”
  • The O.C. – S1E13 – “The Best Chrismukkah Ever”
  • The Office – S3E10 – “A Benihana Christmas, Parts 1+2”
  • The Office – S5E11 – “Moroccan Christmas”
  • Orange is the New Black – S1E13 – “Can’t Fix Crazy”
  • Parks and Recreation – S5E9 – “Ron and Diane”
  • Saved By The Bell – S3E24 – “Home for Christmas, Parts 1+2”
  • Seinfeld – S9E10 – “The Strike”
  • Sherlock – S2E1 – “A Scandal in Belgravia”
  • South Park – S18E9 – “#REHASH”
  • South Park – S18E10 – “#HappyHolograms”
  • The Weekenders – #34 – “The Worst Holiday Ever”

Election 2016 Anthology

usaBy Vandee

November 2016 is on its way out, and good riddance to it.

I’m keen to move on to my Christmas material, but wanted to organize some of my thoughts re: US election.

First, Trump is horrible and terrifying; members of his inner circle are horrible and terrifying; this whole situation is horrible and terrifying.

Second, I must admit the issue I’ve had the most trouble grappling with has been making sense of 60 million Trump voters in a moral context.  Should we on the Left be willing to listen to the concerns of folks who voted Trump, (if only to win their votes at the next election), or should we call them out as terrible people and continue the progressive struggle?

I still don’t have an answer.

Finally, I’ve written six pieces on the election, and have gotten feedback in the form of WordPress comments, Facebook replies, and IRL conversation.  Hearing from other people has been instrumental in helping me make sense of this whole election business.

Thank you to everyone who commented and contributed – if you didn’t, I’d never learn.

I’ve had a bit of a change of heart concerning a few points I’ve made – especially those found in my “live reaction” piece See, Mirror, Darkly.  I considered pulling the piece, but thought it best if it remained as a reference for Future Vandee.

Placed in the context of the other five election pieces I wrote, those live reactions make some sense, at least in terms of the emotional journey this whole rotten business has become:

 

Trump’s Funnel: The Flipside of Feel Politics – June 1, 2016

Vandee muses on some of the less intuitive aspects of PC culture, and explores how the reaction to political correctness helps to fuel the Trump movement

The Declivity of Demonization – June 6, 2016

During the California primaries, Vandee reflects on how both sides put Godwin’s Law into practice

Tripping Over the Line in the Sand – September 20, 2016

Vandee reacts to Hillary’s “basket of deplorables” statement, and explores how the Dems’ tactics could backfire

See, Mirror, Darkly – November 9, 2016

In a whiskey-fueled live reaction to the election, Vandee blames the Left for Trump’s victory

Into Muddier Waters.. – November 15, 2016

Vandee struggles with divisions on the Left, and wonders how Trump can be defeated in the future

Better Behind the Curtain? – November 18, 2016

Vandee reacts to Trump’s first cabinet appointees, and sees an opportunity for unity in the darkest place imaginable

 

 

 

Better Behind the Curtain?

man-behind-the-curtain

By Vandee

Trump is horrible and terrifying; members of his inner circle are horrible and terrifying; this whole situation is horrible and terrifying.

No one in the internet news-o-sphere seems to disagree.

Even when I plug my nose and dive into news sites that are pro-Trump, I don’t get the usual post-election gloss I’d typically expect.

Usually when one side wins an election and starts filling cabinet positions, there is an effort by the victorious party to sell each cabinet appointee as the best option for the whole country – even if they’re not.  In other words, GOP wins of the past have brought cabinet shuffles backed with justifications that “so-and-so is getting the position because they are the most qualified person, and the whole country will benefit from this person’s expertise”.

Of course, this is often a lie, and it’s the other side’s duty to show how Secretary So-and-So is really just a partisan insider who is going to advance the party line.  Predictably, debate ensues.

As is typical with all things Trump, the usual kabuki of decency has been shed.

When I read the meth lab of hatred that is the alt-right news, no attempt is being made to say that Trump’s cabinet picks have the best interests of all Americans in mind.  Rather, they are open about how Trump’s cadre of deplorables are going to fuck their political opponents whether it benefits a majority of Americans or not.

For example, on the subject of newly-appointed US Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, Breitbart today did a repost of a critical piece from Huffington Post:

(…aside: it should be illegal to appoint someone to a cabinet position when they are named after two Confederate leaders…)

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/11/18/media-meltdown-continues-hysterical-huffington-post-says-sessions-racist/

“Back in the mid-1980s, when Sessions was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, President Ronald Reagan nominated him to become a federal judge. But during the nomination process, allegations emerged that Sessions had called a black attorney “boy,” that he suggested a white civil rights lawyer was a race traitor, that he joked he liked the Ku Klux Klan until he found out they smoked marijuana and that he referred to civil rights groups as “un-American” organizations trying to “force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.”

Wow, what an asshole.

So, to recap: the quote is from Huffington Post – a bastion of the Left that seeks to defame all things Trump.  The quote was republished on Breitbart – Trump’s propaganda ministry.

The latter published the quote as is.  They did not include a rebuttal.  They did not attempt to re-contextualize Sessions’ statements.

The Huffington Post said that the newly-appointed Attorney General of the United States is a terrible racist, and Breitbart simply said “Yup”.

Wow.

Here’s where my brain goes:

It’s entirely conceivable that a Romney administration, or a Jeb administration, would also appoint terrible racists to key positions.  However, when making such appointments, the GOP and their media outlets would try to downplay past racial indiscretions, and parade said racist around with their “one black friend” (Michael Steele?) in an attempt to maintain that veneer of decency – at least attempt to make the case that this person is not racist, and will benefit all Americans with their hard work.

Not so much anymore.

The racists are out of the closet.

…and not just in the Capital…

Every day since the election, my newsfeed has been filling up with reports of increased rates of intimidation and harassment of minority communities across the US – hate crime is on the rise, it seems:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-hatecrime-idUSKBN13D1WU

http://jezebel.com/tracking-racist-incidents-and-hate-crimes-in-donald-tru-1789058519

…just terrible…

It makes me wonder: these folks weren’t born last Tuesday – they’ve presumably been festering with their racially-charged butthurt for a long time, and have only just been inspired by the asshole-in-chief to come out of the bigot closet and let their assholery play out in public.

I’m about to cross into controversial territory – please comment, or I’ll never learn…

In a terribly twisted way, I wonder if bigotry coming out of the closet actually benefits the progressive cause?  Isn’t it easier to champion the rights of marginalized people when their opponents are easily identified?

The immediate answer my Left wing gives me:

“Not when it’s at the expense of marginalized people.   Gaining a rhetorical edge should not come at the cost of the lives and well-being of the disadvantaged.”

True.

Still, I want to walk through this thought-experiment:

Racism and bigotry live here in Canada, too.

It can sometimes be hard to spot when we’re so busy congratulating ourselves on being more progressive than Americans, for having an official policy of multiculturalism, for having a 50% female cabinet, and for our lack of high-profile police killings.

I’ve heard it argued that Canada’s blend of aggressive politeness and progressive rhetoric shrouding the inequalities in our society is actually worse than the usual state of affairs in the US – at least America’s problems with inequality are out in the open.  At least Americans are forced to acknowledge their checkered past (and present):

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/sarah-beech/canada-hate-crimes-post-election_b_13021394.html

http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/out-of-sight-out-of-mind-2/

In other words, Canadian progressives would seem to argue, at times, that maintaining the veneer of decency is actually worse than a state of out-and-proud racism.  The lines are murkier, the rhetoric less direct, and problems easily overlooked.

Does this logic apply to the Trump situation?

Would progressives rather have their racist, bigoted opponents out and easy to spot?

Depends on the cost, I suppose…

Surely, members of minority groups would rather have a neighbor who acts polite and keeps Confederate paraphernalia in their basement than one who sits on their porch with a shotgun shouting bigoted statements…

…although when I read that back to myself, it seems obvious that those are both shitty options…

Here’s what set me down this road:

http://jezebel.com/white-middle-school-teacher-in-baltimore-fired-after-sc-1789120094

On Tuesday, a white, middle school teacher in Baltimore lost her temper and went off on a horrible racist tirade.  The incident was recorded and posted to social media.  The teacher has since been fired.

Her racism didn’t just appear on November 8.

Is it better to have a closeted racist teaching children, occasionally letting her views seep into lessons, subtly advancing her bigoted worldview for thirty years, or to have her show her true stripes in one terrible incident that sees her fired and barred from teaching?

My privilege means my well-being will never depend on the lesser of those shitty options…

I’ll try to wrap this up…

At some point last Tuesday evening, the American Left started mainlining nostalgia for the Obama years.  Already, we are seeing the time between 2008 and 2016 as a series of triumphs for progressive values.

A few months ago, I wouldn’t have thought we were all that progressive…

My daily dose of everydayfeminism.com had me convinced that veiled bigotry and microaggressions were the real enemies of the progressive cause.  Here is a site that regularly publishes articles criticizing self-proclaimed “allies”:

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/10/counterproductive-allyship/

http://everydayfeminism.com/2016/09/middle-class-good-intentions/

…something tells me that over the next four years, microaggressions will lose airtime as actual aggressions become more high profile…

The more horrendous shit the Trump camp does, the less divided the Left will become.  No more will the progressive side be split along identity lines, witch-hunting the microaggressive allies in their midst.  We can seize this opportunity to say in a united voice that no matter our differences, we can all agree that this Trump shit is horrible and terrifying and needs to be stopped.

Final note:

I admit I’ve been conflicted on the issue of how to view 60 million Trump voters – should we cynically court them as a means to win the next election, or should we label them as terrible bigots for supporting Trump?

The answer in my mind: time.

In the next year or so, we are going to see Trump appoint more horrible and terrifying people into positions of power.  Then, we’ll see those people start to do some horrible and terrifying things.

There will be a narrow sliver of time for the lightbulb to go on in the minds of those “ignored, working class, anti-establishment voters” who, by their reckoning, did not vote for Trump’s bigoted policies, but supported him to “send a message to the Washington elites”.  As Trump’s rhetoric turns into reality, those 60 million voters will have a chance to recognize their mistake, and join the movement to oppose Trump by any means.

Anyone who continues to support the blatant bigotry of the Right as words turn into action should be given no quarter or sympathy.

When the Right finally sheds its cloak of decency and shows its true colours, I’m hopeful that the majority of those 60 million voters will tell them to go to hell.

Into Muddier Waters…

trump-protest-getty-623003804

By Vandee

Please comment, or I’ll never learn.

Still in the post-election haze; still stuck in the crossfire between factions on the Left; torn between the folks who say the Left needs to start courting Trump voters if the Dems are to stand a chance in 2020 https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/protesters-trump-phildelphia/507665/?utm_source=fbb , and the folks who are digging in their heels by treating every Trump voter like a racist piece of shit http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/11/there_is_no_such_thing_as_a_good_trump_voter.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_fb_bot

This is fucking tough, y’all…

On the one hand, each passing day seems to confirm that President Elect Trump has every intention of fulfilling the most horrifying promises he laid out in his campaign.  He seems to be stuffing his cabinet with a veritable who’s who of right wing deplorables, and many previously closeted racists and bigots are coming out across America – harassing folks that the GOP has been demonizing for the past year.

…makes me proud to be Canadian, to say the least.

On the other hand are the tactical necessities of the 2020 (and 2018) elections.  If the Dems want to take back the US government, they’ll need to win more voters at the next election, and more broad support in the interim.  That means winning support from the Trump camp, the third party voters, or the 115 million or so American adults who did not vote last week.

If the Left’s primary tactic for the next four years is the further demonization of Trump voters, it is unlikely many from that camp will be persuaded to vote Democratic.  To me, that’s base level human nature at play – when you call someone an asshole, it is unlikely that they’ll pensively reflect on their behavior and respond with “you know, you’re right, I am an asshole”.  That just doesn’t happen.

Maybe the Dems can produce an appropriate anti-establishment populist of their own (Michelle Obama? Oprah? Anderson Cooper?)  After all, now that Trump and his cronies are “The Establishment”, it seems unlikely to me that quality of life is going to increase for every single anti-establishment voter that backed the GOP last Tuesday… In all likelihood, the anti-establishment camp is going to be just as pissed off in four years as they are today.

A lot of those folks don’t seem to be GOP by default – Trump came in obliquely, and won the primaries by blasting all of the GOP golden boys for being “establishment”.  Now that the GOP are in firm control of most levels of government across the USA, they will be the establishment very soon.  The Dems can, and probably should, position themselves as the real anti-establishment party (a platform made more convincing by a Clinton-less ticket).

There’s another demographic the Hard Left will have to address if they want to stand a chance over the next four years:  white male voters.

Already my Left wing perks up:

“Vandee, how dare you even suggest that anyone should cater to white men in the US?  Every statistic proves that white men enjoy the most privilege already.  If anything, political parties should endeavor to mitigate white male privilege and elevate marginalized groups.”

I agree with my Left wing, but cannot ignore the political reality that played out last Tuesday:

Without denying the statistics related to white privilege, I have to acknowledge that a lot of white folks do not see themselves as privileged in any way.   Moreover, I think that the tactics used to convince white America of their privilege have largely backfired, and helped drive people into the Trump camp.

Trying to convince any low-income earner of their privilege seems like an exercise in futility.  The facts may be sound, but human nature seems to scream in opposition to this.

So when a low-income earning white male living in the south or the Midwest sought out news or election info from the Hard Left, they’d find a narrative that does not reflect the reality of their lives as they see it.  They’d read about a privileged class of white males that enjoy luxury at the expense of minority groups.  This would be a difficult pill to swallow for anyone struggling to make ends meet.

To demand this person put aside their political needs (as they see them) and make a cerebral vote to benefit other demographics would seem (especially in light of Tuesday’s results) to be asking for the impossible.

Political movements have various carrots and sticks at their disposal.  The GOP courted the white male vote with a carrot: prosperity at any cost, and a giant middle finger to the “establishment”.

The Dems to a certain degree, but especially the Hard Left, largely offered the white male demographic the stick of the privilege narrative.  However correct an assertion, this narrative proved politically counterproductive last Tuesday.

So what’s next?

At 31% of the US population, white males could be outvoted by everyone else.  In theory, the Dems could court every other demographic and come out on top.

Alternatively, the Dems could paint the newest incarnation of the GOP as the “establishment”, and repackage themselves as the real populist option in US politics.

The bottom line from Tuesday: in a capitalist democracy, people vote out of self-interest, not out of compassion or cold logic.  If an individual voter sees nothing in the Democratic platform that will benefit them personally, they’ll likely swing GOP – especially when the latter is slinging a platform full of ridiculous promises that aim to benefit their demographic exclusively.

The Dems should aim to hijack base human nature next time, just as the GOP did on Tuesday.