Log in

Somehow or other, I've managed to find myself in the possession of the collection If This Is A Lecture, How Long Will It Be? and noticed something annoying. Not only do we have to deal with Lynn/Elly bleating about how men objectify women by having Mike a cloud that could either be Mickey Mouse ears or a pair of breasts as the latter, we have another piece of annoying interstitial art that has him scowl because either the school boards or Elly's idea of appropriate material for studying reproduction is a cutaway of a flower instead of the 'good' stuff. The reason that I mention this is that a certain fear of talking about sex is part of the strip itself and it ain't just her freaking out about Mike somehow getting a copy of a skin rag.

The arc I have in mind is all about Elly, her squealing about how it should be the State's job to save her from having any discussion about sex at all by making it illegal for kids to express any sort of curiosity about anything like that and the cowardly means by which she avoided doing so with April. While we are clearly meant to cheer her on for remaining woefully ignorant about her body and about human reproduction, the facts of the matter tend to cast her in something of a negative light. It's as if she's living proof that abstinence campaigns backfire because all three kids and Meredith were unplanned and came at super-inconvenient times. This wouldn't have happened if the dumb people allowed themselves to understand sex.
Now, to get back to the blizzard arc, it seems to me that we get to see three examples of characters making fools of themselves because they answer a vital question incorrectly because they fail to understand the people around them. Said question is, of course, "What did you think was going to happen?"

First off, we have to deal with Elly's angry astonishment when confronted with something she actually should have seen coming. While she'll deny it with her dying breath, she shouldn't have actually expected John to be honest about the Yellow Penis-Mobile Of Overcompensation's ability to handle a Canadian winter any more than she should have expected him not to want to glom on to her ride. She should have remembered that he and the kids see the non-job she has too much of her identity invested in as a sort of paid hobby and also remembered that he saw taking a cab to work as being almost as big a humiliation as riding the bus.

Second, John should have remembered that Elly wasn't going to just let him borrow her wheels no how. He should have remembered that she hates the idea of being stuck at home because she hates the idea of being thought of as the organic adjunct of a gas range just because he doesn't seem to want her to get the degree of being treated like his equal.

Finally, we have Mike who seems to have expected the city plow crews to leave the town immobilized just so he could sit home the following day instead of going to the evil building of being told that he's a lazy ignoramus with an inflated self-concept. About the only person who didn't flunk that question was Lizzie and that's only because she didn't notice that her teachers are chicken too.

The Rhetta-phant in the living room.

To continue on with my look at Elly's war against having a social life that isn't one hundred percent vetted by her, it's not as if seeing the back end of Martha soothed Elly's jangled nerves. The same moron who wrung her hands because her boy wasn't running to Mommy with every little thing and sharing every secret like a dummy went from fearing the vitality of Martha to fearing a different stupid thing about Rhetta: her ties to her family.

Elly's panicky bleating about how she wanted to TIE MICHAEL DOWN TO MILBOROUGH RIGHT OUT OF UNI when he was supposed to be allowed his nomadic phase before seeing how terrible the outside world actually was sort of proves some Republican dude's glib pronouncement that hippie is short for hypocrite right. She didn't mind Mike being tied down to a boring suburb so she wouldn't have to resent her own dumb choices....she just wanted it to be all on her own terms.
The interesting thing about this year is that if I remember correctly, we're about to see Mike's last season of pee-wee hockey. This means no more of Elly whining about sitting on a cold bench, no more yowling about her precious free time going away and no more having to care about silly team sports that lead inevitably her having to thanklessly nurse a hopeless cripple after a sports injury destroys Mike somehow. The reason that I mention this is that another baseless anxiety is about to take its place this August. This anxiety has curly hair, freckles and parents who think that her poor angel Mike is a sex offender bent on its ruination.

Yep. That's right. No sooner does he give up on the team sports of encouraging violence to mothers does he start getting interested in cheap little floozies who clearly want to trap him in their web and destroy his loving mother's hopes for his glorious future. Or, to put in English instead of Crazed Egomaniac, Elly needs something to fear, hate and worry about in order to feel alive. It just so happens that a slip of a girl whose folks think of that dreg Mike as THAT boy from THAT family takes the place of sports for a while.
Recent revelations have given me a horrible idea for a plot thread. Said horrible idea involves Thérèse achieving her happiness (by which Lynn and Anthony mean finding Mr Right and settling down), restoring her family (by which I mean relieving Lizardbreath of the horrible burden that is dealing with Françoise and exposing herself to the reality that yeah, she actually was a home-wrecker) and arranging for such things in a manner that "oppresses" and "humiliates" the Patterson family. The ever-enduring misery I have in mind would be visited on the "long-suffering" "heroes" by the subtle masterstroke of making her new fellow rich and handsome and totally unconcerned with how anything he says or does might affect Elly Patterson.

This is because the Pattersons are a bunch of really terrible people who need to see themselves as the victims of all victims surpassing all others and it simply wouldn't do for an antagonist to really have a happy ending...especially if that happy ending involved shrugging and not seeing how they have any say in how she lives her life. Why, the whole family might have to slink off into the night blubbering about the eternal humiliation of seeing someone they hate succeed.
The other really interesting thing about the blizzard is that if the strip were really set in the present day like Lynn wants us to believe it is, we wouldn't even have had the argument about whose job was most important in quite the way we do in the strip. This is because instead of the argument being touched off by his wanting her car, it would have been touched off by the two of them being told to stay home that day because it's 2017 and there's the Weather Network and snowflake-to-snowflake coverage of terrible weather and proterty managers and school districts not taking chances with people's safety and the like here in the present day.

This means that Elly's angry screed about how she's not less of a human being just because she doesn't have a degree would be touched off by his unsubtly hinting that how the world can do without her one day more than it can do without him. Also, she'd get to bristle at any suggestion that she should spend more time than she wants to with the kids because they'd be underfoot too and she'd still have to do most of the parenting. Also, we could have John do something stupid to try to "fix" the power that would wreck something and feed Mike a punchline about unsureance.

The hidden message of the big blizzard

As we know, we're just about to lurch into the first big slice of life arc of the Middle Years: the big blizzard. While we get to watch Mike's teacher panicking because he might have to spend the night with his students along with Mike complaining about the efficient road crews that prevent his having a snow day, we also get Elly's car getting creamed by a snowplow. This is a very interesting thing for a very interesting reason that has a lot to do with the avatar I'm using for this post.

Said reason starts making sense when you consider that John has himself an ultra-impractical sports car that can't cope with a northern winter at all well. Since he was stupid enough and afraid enough of Elly not to keep his station wagon, he tries bumming her wheels and telling her something she doesn't feel like hearing: her sinecure at the library isn't really as important as his being a medical professional. Once he pushes the words past his lips, he realized that Elly gets really defensive and angry when she's reminded that she isn't the big shot she'd like to be and took a cab to work...only to be told that he might as well not have bothered when he arrived at the office because the authorities had shut down the roads until the storm cleared off. This means that he was half right to suggest that Elly should stay home for a stupid, sexist reason. The interesting thing is that he'd be just as bad a man if he suggested that it would be stupid for anyone to go out in said weather and subjected them to a harrowing tale of a worse blizzard. Reason: Elly is from Vancouver and doesn't understand winter at all and never will. She doesn't like winter sports, she hates cold weather and I don't even think she likes Roll Up The Rim at Timmies so anything that gets her shoveling out her ride is bad. The difference in my scenario is that she'd have to come up with a valid excuse to keep the kids home and she'd pay less on her insurance.

When does Patterlife begin?

It's not enough, of course, to simply rename months if you want to create a sort of Pattercalendar. You also have to have a beginning point in time so you can say that "This is when the family history began." Thankfully, we can use Mike as a sort of measuring stick. Lynn had him stay the same age two years running because she doesn't pay attention but right now, he's eleven and right now, John and Elly had been married for five years when she oopsed him.

This means that it looks as if we're in the middle of the seventeenth year of the Patterson era but we're actually in the middle of the eighteenth year. This is because the Richardses and Elder Pattersons probably imposed the sort of stupid ultimatum that would later be inflicted on Therese and Anthony because the strip is littered with dim people whose fear of disgrace would probably be dismissed as inhuman and unfair by the Taliban. When he was found in her chair, he simply had to marry her to avoid her total ruination.

The month of Martyrdom

While it does seem as if Elly would have to be alone in conidering December a month in which she experiences more marytyrdom and over-work from her under-appeciative family than usual, it seems somewhat obvious that the rest of the family regard the month as a sort of torture. Said torture takes the form of having a kill-joy claim that she alone is responsible (and thus should be awarded credit) for ‘making’ Christmas happen. As I’ve said once or twice, the Christmas Angel special seems to demonstrate to the masses what December is all about at the Pattermanse despite not really being canon as such.

This is because while it looks to the novice that we’re getting a bog-standard moral about family being family and letting the spirit of the season be more important than the minor agita involved when you’re growing up, the true fan realizes that the Spirit of Patterson Christmas involves one thing and one thing alone: being afraid of Elly’s trademark rages. She only thinks she suffers in silence because I presonally believe that she’ll die being totally unaware that her family are afraid of her. Also, this particular special seems to have had as its message “Lizzie shouldn’t feel especially bad that Elly doesn’t appreciate her because she’s got company” because you just know that someone was about to tell her that grace under pressure is a virtue. Instead of Peace On Earth, they all end up getting something in Klingon as their message:

‘oy’ DaSIQjaj: “May you endure the pain.”

The month of Noremember

Before I get to what the Pattersons must think of November, I'd like to point out something about myself: I haven't got the blindest idea of what it was like to serve in conflict. I buy poppies to wear, I attend services on the eleventh day of the eleventh month and I tell myself I'm honouring their sacrifice but since I can only vaguely guess at what that sacrifice was 'cause I'm kind of dense, I've no idea if I am. This puts me in the same leaky boat as the Foobs but at least I'm aware of it.

This means that while I reflect on what people who have been through that say when they tell me to shut up if I don't know what I'm talking about, the Pattersons get to make windy pronouncements about something they've never experienced while slowly but surely teaching their children that wars were something people used to have and that certain people are ceasing to become real. This act of forgetting is sort of why it's the month of Noremember as we contemplate Meredith wondering why Superman didn't simply punch this Hitler person in the face.


Snarky Candiru2

Latest Month

January 2017



RSS Atom
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow