Butterfly Cauldron

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Some things go too far

This story about Mychal Bell, one of the Jena Six, just makes me sad.

Regardless of how you feel about Bell's involvement in the original incident, the man tried to kill himself. According to the news report, he'd been getting his life back on track. He'd been studying, working out even though he could not play high school ball because he still hoped to be able to play college ball next year. Moving him to Monroe and placing him in foster care seems to have been good for him. And yet, he developed a depression deep enough to make him feel like his life was not worth living.

Now, maybe he was trying to shoplift. So what? Yes, it's wrong. Yes, it's a crime. And yes, if he's guilty, there needs to be punishment. But the fact is, if he had not been involved in the Jena case, his name would never have been more than a single line in the local paper's police blotter. He'd probably end up having to pay a fine, do some probation. It wouldn't be the end of the world and it certainly wouldn't be the end of his football career.

How long will he be punished for the Jena incident? He pleaded to a lesser charge in that case, he did his time and was working to get his life back on track. So how long will it be before we let him move on? Bell was 16 when Jena happened. Everyone is stupid at 16. Some of us are more stupid than others, but we all do things that we shouldn't, things we look back on later and wonder how the hell we ever did. The fact is, no one died in the Jena case. No one was even seriously injured. (And if you're going to say that Barker was, just stop. If you're well enough to attend a party later the same day, you're not seriously injured. Bruised and hurting? Sure. I'll give ya that. But bruises and aches are not serious. I've gotten worse injuries fighting with my brother and he probably WAS trying to kill me.)

How long is this man going to have to pay for being a stupid 16-year-old? How long is he going to be followed by the media? (And believe me, he's being followed. No one is stalking him or anything, but you can be damned sure that ever few months some Editor goes to a reporter and says "Check on Mychal Bell. See what he's up to." Why? Because he made a stupid, dumb mistake that will haunt him for the rest of his life. And if all the reporter finds is that he's now attending college somewhere, the Editor will make them write a story starting with: "Mychal Bell, the only member of the Jena Six to stand trial and be convincted of attempted murder, enrolled at the University of Blahblahblah. . .")

When this man dies, hopefully many many years from now after a well-lived life, his involvement in the Jena Six will be mentioned in his obit. Despite the fact that he may end up being a world-class surgeon that saves lives, despite the fact that he may become a great civil rights leader, despite the fact that he may just become a decent mechanic, whatever the hell he does with his life, the Jena Six thing will haunt him forever.

Listen. The man did his time. He paid for his crime. He's clearly still dealing with the fallout from that. Let it go. Let him be. For gods sake, stop hounding the man until he feels his only option is death.

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posted by Zan at 8:18 AM 0 comments

Thursday, December 11, 2008


It's snowing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And it's piling up on the ground! I do not think this has ever happened before. It's just....beautiful. Suddenly, my lingering depression is gone! Poof!

This is my backyard this morning:

This was my car:

The view from my front door:

Trees in my backyard:

On the road to work:

The parking lot of my office:

I feel like I can breath again. I haven't felt this good in...ages. I woke up and I was like, hey, something's changed. I felt good and rested and just...energized. Then, I opened my curtains and saw SNOW!!

The gods listened when I said I needed something to break this horrible depression I've been having. Boy, did they listen.
posted by Zan at 8:43 AM 7 comments

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Depowered Woman, or Why I Hate Heroes

They killed Elle.

Not only did they kill her, but they made her a victim of domestic violence. Her boyfriend killed her. Granted, said boyfriend was a murdering bastard anyway, but Elle was one of the few people he'd ever shown any fondness for. And why did he kill her? Not to take her power -- that at least would be understandable and in character. No, he killed her (or so it seems) because he could.

So, let's review: Elle, the only female character on Heroes who seemed to relish her ability and use it without fear, is killed by her boyfriend. Not only is she killed, she doesn't even fight back. She could certainly fight Sylar off -- she'd done it before. And I'm not buying any argument that she was weakened by being shot. Screw that. Your boyfriend is trying to kill you and you have the ability to fight him off? You use it. (Understand -- I'm not judging RL victims of domestic abuse. They don't have the ability to electrocute people. If they did, we'd have a hell of a lot fewer causes of domestic violence.)

This tendancy to kill off or write off women with genuine power on Heroes is killing the show for me. (Note: I'm writing this under the assumption Elle is genuinely dead. They left that bit somewhat hazy last week, but previews for next week show Sylar burning her body. So, if she's not dead now, she likely will be soon. And what the hell? Burning your girlfriend's body? Because killing her father, taking her ability, making her think you cared about her and then slicing open her head isn't enough? Really?)

First, we had Nikki. She was wicked strong. She was also suffering from a serious mental disorder. (I'm sorry, but Dissociative Identity Disorder is NOT a superpower. It's an illness, generally caused by some sort of childhood trauma. It would have been an interesting story to explore how Nikki's ability was tweaked by the murder of her sister. It always seemed obvious to me that Nikki's inability to protect her sister when she was young channeled her physical abilities into her alter as she got older. Nikki was 'weak', the ability was strong. Nikki's mind, damaged by the trauma of her sister's murder, couldn't integrate the strength, so it created Jessica to handle the ability. Fairly classic DID, with superpowers on top. But they never explored that. They just said that having an alter was a special ability. *sigh*)

Anyway, Nikki -- for all her strength -- was always somehow a victim. First, she didn't realize she had the ability. Then, she used it to kill people and steal money, which got her husband sent to jail. And got her indebted to Linderman. She had some good moments at the end of Season One, but then she ended up getting her husband killed, leaving herself and her son to rely on the kindness of his family. Then, she finally seems to be getting some control of her life and her ability -- and she ends up dead.

We also had Monica -- a character I really liked and want to see more about. While a bit freaked over her ability at first, she took to it pretty quickly, trying to use it to help those around her. She was a genuinely good person, with a really useful ability that she was learning to relish. And what happens to her? She gets in over her head (which, granted, I don't object to. You gotta have some conflict or there's not story) gets rescued (but hey, at least she wasn't rescued by a man!) and then...gets written out of the show.

Next, we have Claire. Admittedly, she's a bit whiny. But I give her a pass for most of that, because she's only 18 or so. (I'm assuming 17/18, because she's clearly not going to school this season. They seriously messed up her age.) Anyway, she's fricking indestructable. She can heal anything, is likely never going to die and what are they doing with her? Nothing. No one is teaching her how to fight or sleuth or any of the things she wants to do. (Yes, I realize there have finally been what, two? attempts to teach her things. But come on, how long as the girl been demonstrating her desire to learn? Yeah.) She's gotten the hang of her ability, she's made her peace with it and -- she's being treated like a fragile, breakable thing. I understand that coming from her parents -- they're her parents. But everyone else? Please. She's doing stupid things because she's young and inexperienced -- and can't find a fricking teacher to help her out. (I totally want Claude to come back and take her under his wing. She'd be the craftiest, sneakiest, morally gray character around.)

So, let's see...who else do we have? Oh! Daphne. At the moment, she's the only one I'm holding out hope for. Yes, she's got a bit of 'victim' in her background. I can deal with that. At least no one is trying to put her in a little box. (Matt? I'm looking at you -- do NOT try to control your girlfriend or I have a brick with your name on it, got it? You almost got one when you read her mind without permission. Grr.) The revelation that she had cerebal palsy is. . .a post for another day, actually. But it's at least different. It seems she had a decent childhood. Her father clearly loves her and they seem to have a good relationship. And her thing with Matt, while the 'I Love You's came too fast, at least feels like it's becoming genuine. His total acceptance of her is really good for her and she's good at bringing him down to earth.

Which means that the rumors of her being killed off next season are likely true. Screw you, Heroes. I'm tired of all the strong women being killed off.

Which brings us back to Elle. *sigh* I loved Elle, because she was so totally herself. Yes, I know, she was a bad person. I'm ok with that -- women can be bad people. We're not paragons of virtue. Despite all that was done to her to warp her into a sociopath, she never seemed to be a victim. When she found out what had been done to her as a child, she didn't collapse into a pile and beg for someone to save her. The knowledge colored her actions, yes, but she got on with her life. She fucking 'saved' herself.

And so, they have her boyfriend kill her. Just when she seemed to be truely freeing herself from her past, just when she seemed to be ready to become herself.

Seriously, Heroes, fuck you. Just fuck you. Call me when you start randomly killing off your male cast. How about when Saundra sticks a knife in Bennet's heart for being such a giant asshole? Or when Claire bricks Peter over the head for being such an overbearing, patronizing, whiny little emo bitch? Maybe when Sylar gets his head cut off by an Eileen Wurnoes wanna-be he picked up at a truck stop because she reminded him of Elle? Oh, not going to do that to your big manly cast? Yeah. Fuck you.

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posted by Zan at 11:06 AM 6 comments