February 15th, 2013

Snarky Candiru2

Michael Patterson and the Arcade of Tearing Elly's Heart Out Of Her Chest While It's Still Beating.

As you're about to find out, we're a little bit shy of the "Elly gets into a somewhat justifiable panic about Mike going to the Super-Crazy No-way Video Arcade of Depravity" arc. As always, the sequence is touched off by Elly's inability to cope with distractions all that well; simply put, Mike and Gordon are expected to wait until Elly says it's okay to live their lives. Since normal human beings don't actually behave that way, they become the idle hands that the Devil (or Atari) finds work for. After an annoying strip in which we engage in recreational moral panic about how the noisy games that rouse Lynn from her beloved coma are leading children to ruin and her to losing her contract and having to settle for the (appropriate) status of "dentist's wife", we get a whiny mess about how weird Elly is for caring about what Michael does when it reflects poorly on her.

The one thing that distinguishes it from all the other story lines in which one can panic because evil people run their evil arcades with the evil video games that aren't evil merely because Lynn hasn't the brains, patience or coordination to play and learning evil swears that will make Elly look bad is that Mike says something that rings exceedingly false when he whines about how lucky Gordon is that his parents don't care about him as much as Elly does. This seems wrong to me and I'll tell you why. In my experience, a child who sees himself being barred from doing cool things is going to think that the parents who allow his fellows to do Cool Forbidden Thing X are the ones who care while Panicky Idiot Elly would be seen as a mean old witch who has no sense of human.

Why this sort of disconnect between what kids really say and what a Patterson would say? The question can be answered by the following questions: "Can we have junk food?" and "Why don't you buy sugar cereal?" You and I both know that in the real world, Mike would ask for something from the Burgerdrome and a box of Honey-Frosted Zipz; the problem is that we live in Lynn's world. In Lynn's world, the default assumption is that children are bad, ungrateful, selfish people who want to reject the love and caring of their parents and spread chaos and anarchy and so on and so forth. In Lynn's vision of events, Michael isn't an ordinary little boy who has no idea how to fill the void of time Elly's "You can't come in because I'm busy" created because, well, that would imply that the source of the problem is that she never learned to put on her big girl panties and multitask like adults. Rather than deal with the fact that Elly is just too damned stupid to take care of little details like "What are the kids doing?" and "Where did I put that can of varnish?", Lynn posits a world in which children go to arcades and eat sugar cereals for the sole purpose of stomping on the hearts of poor, weak, defenseless mothers because they're ungrateful and selfish chaos-lovers who'll only ever realize how much they hurt Mommy twenty years after she dies.

What makes this all the more ludicrous is that despite being drunkards, the Mayes come across as being more responsible parents. It seems to me that having Gordon learn about what he should avoid is a better thing than Elly's clever plan of saving Michael from scary information that might end up having the scary, scary, scary effect of outing Mommy and Daddy as having all the intellect and awareness of a cinderblock.