Castrated men and power fantasies

So Scottie Futch and Sam Witt asked an interesting question. Why are we seeing the rise of really bad stories featuring overpowered protagonists and wish-fulfillment novels, even when people reading them know they are bad?

Well, motherf*****, that is going to take a long time to explain.

So, I hypothesize the following:

  • The World is Sick.
  • Popular literature reacts to this.
    • Manifestations of this are the rise of zombies as enemies and the return of superhero movies as the largest market franchise.
    • We have a rise in the castrated male as the archetypical figure in our society.  That is, our society praises castrated men as the best sort of men, a eunuch society.
      • In women’s literature, this has lead to the rise of female sexist novels, such as Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, novels so blatantly sexist that if any man had written them, they’d be skinned alive. But they feature the antithesis of the castrated male, the hyper-masculine/abusive male who dominates a weak-willed woman.
      • In men’s literature, this has lead to the rise of the fantasy wish-fulfillment man who gets all the women, praised by all the men, etc.
      • In general literature, it has lead to the rise of conspiracy theories and “alternative facts”.
  • This is not the same as the old heroes and myths. E.g. Achilles, Hercules, Beowulf, Samson, etc., all die as a heroic sacrifice.  The wish-fulfillment novel is a new development where the author clearly puts themselves in the place of the novel, the earliest example I can find is Rousseau.  That is because ancient literature focused on the collective, the idea of the individual reader or writing to the individual wasn’t really an idea until Descartes put forth Cogito ergo sum.

After presenting my findings to the audience, I will not give any psychological counseling or consolation for mental distress caused by this evaluation.

Wish-Fulfillment did not exist in older literature

I’ll start off with the basics.  I cannot call any of the older literature wish-fulfillment.

The Old Testament is full of prophets who suffer horribly, so much so that several of them like Jonah literally attempt to flee the responsibility. (Obviously, it doesn’t work).

Likewise, the same thing was true of the Greek stories, where the heroes were often pursued by deities and died horrible deaths. The importance of these stories wasn’t in their wish-fulfillment, (as they taught you that you should mostly be happy with not being special), but in their moral lessons: Obey God and avoid hubris or suffer. Even the greatest heroes of the old testament like David, Moses and Aaron, etc. suffered God’s wrath.

From what I can remember of classic literature, the first true wish-fulfillment fantasy is Rousseau’s Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse. Rousseau pens himself as the Saint-Preux and his ideal woman as Julie. This book was the best-seller in its own century, (read that again, CENTURY) and it is the definitive companion to the Twilight saga. Yes, I have a reason for bringing this up.

An example passage:

“Heavens! My mother sends for me! Whither shall I fly? How shall I support her presence? O that I could hide myself in the centre of the earth! I tremble every limb, and am unable to move one step….O my heart, how piercing! She waits for me- I can stay no longer – she will know – I must tell her all….write no more – who knows if ever – yet I might – what! – deceive her! – deceive my mother! – alas!….we are undone!”

Brilliant. Even then, the novel is a morality play, as are other precursor heroic poems like Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene or more popular stories like Robin Hood never attempt to insert the author or the reader as the protagonist.

Quite the opposite, you were never going to be Hercules, Beowulf, or Moses and you should be happy with your lot in life, because to not be happy is to have hubris and that would cause destruction and chaos.

The more modern versions of this strip out any morality or philosophical discussion and become fetishisms where the viewer is meant to admire the lives of the protagonists and place themselves as a surrogate for the protagonist.

The World is Sick

Here, I’ll introduce a not-as-controversial statement, but one that still needs to be defended.  The World is sick.

From a literary perspective, this is almost certainly true. Best-sellers are George Orwell’s dystopia 1984, Margaret Atwood’s The HandMaid’s Tale, and Yeats Poem The Second Coming is one of the most cited poems.  In short, people are reading dystopia by the buckets.

From a political perspective, this is true. Briefly, the US is involved in its longest war in history with no end in sight. We’re playing nuclear chicken with an unstable tyrannical ruler in North Korea. The entire Middle East is in flames, instability rules from Gaza, Syria, Iraq, and Libya. Things don’t look any better in Central Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, or anywhere else. And large parts of Central America are ruled by drug cartels and criminal gangs.

The World’s largest superpower has been unable to make any progress in two economically powerless and minor territories. The same technology that gives us access to huge amounts of information has also fueled the rise of e-jihad, large swaths of recovered materials are downloaded from internet websites.

This is historically unprecedented. Huge swaths of global territory are dominated by populist unrest, anger and effective loss of state control.

Foreign Policy (2014)

In addition, we’ve seen the rise of right-wing militias and left-wing militias, and a World where civilized debate is unheard of. The overwhelming dogma is that anyone who disagrees with your political position is deserving of only scorn and hate. And this is in modern, industrialized “civilized” countries.

Likewise, extremist groups have been on the rise politically. One of the most striking things about the Nazis rise to power is that it was second only to the Communists in Germany, and that even in areas where there was no Nazi Party apparatus, the Nazis still took around 37% of the vote. During sick times or times of chaos, extremist solutions become preferable to moderate ones, often making the situation worse.

Psychologically, this is true. Long-term depression has risen by 450% over the past two decades.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11779262

(Full Text)

http://happierhuman.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/P2.-National-Trends-in-the-Outpatient-Treatment-of-Depression.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3330161/

We also see that the number one killer of people in the UK in the age range of 20 – 24 is self-harm.

Ecologically speaking, this is true. We are also seeing a rise in hurricanes, natural disasters, and worldwide famines, a major precursor to the Arab Spring’s uprisings.

Technologically speaking, the internet was supposed to open up the potential to limitless learning. You can watch classes at Harvard and other top universities for free, right now. Instead, most people have amused themselves with memes, or even worse, created entire communities that resemble echo chambers of mutually toxic ideas. Technology liberates some people, but completely destroys others.

Let us then state it plainly then: The World is Sick. And art is reacting to that in different ways.

  • Psychologist Jordan Peterson doesn’t call it sickness, but rather chaos.  I think the point still stands.

Corollary: Popular Literature Reacts to this.

Comic books’s primary responsibility is to entertain . . . but to do that, it must be relevant to people’s lives . . . the juxtaposition of fantasy and real experience is exciting and allows for social themes to emerge.

1990 interview, Mark Grunwald, then editor of Captain America (1985 – 1995, or issues 307-443)

Despite the fact that we remember big literature, (Yeats, Hemingway, Faulkner, and other people you will pretend to have read), the fact is that even smaller literature reacts to the changes in society at large.

For that, let’s take a trip back to 1938, another time of sickness/chaos.

Here, we have Superman vs. the Drunk Drivers.

Synopsis:

Clark Kent is on his way to work when he comes across a crowd and discovers that a reckless driver has killed his friend Charlie Martin. Clark Kent calls up the mayor to complain about it, but the mayor tells him that it’s outside of his control, what can he do?

In a rage, Clark Kent transforms into Superman. He breaks through the wall at a local radio station and delivers a warning on the radio station:

The auto accident death rate of this community is one that should shame us all! It’s constantly rising and due entirely to reckless driving and inefficiency! More people have been killed needlessly by autos than died during the world war! From this moment on, I declare war on reckless drivers — henceforth, homicidal drivers answer to me!

Then he smashes all the vehicles in the police impound lot that were arrested for reckless driving. He destroys cars at a used car salesman’s lot. He frightens a drunk driver, a driver that does a hit-and-run on him, and then smashes cars at an auto factory that he says are making inferior vehicles.

He then goes back to the same radio station, destroys it again, and issues more threats. He sees a police officer accept a bribe from a speeder, and he forces the police officer to beat up the speeder. He then carves a new road out of an existing one, and kidnaps the mayor, taking him to see how bad highways are and visiting accident victims at the morgue. The mayor reforms, and Clark Kent gets a ticket for illegal parking the next day, and Kent rejoices.

Here, we have a Superman posed against the forces of capitalism and technology, reasserting the public good (safety and law) over private property (cars in the factory, the poor radio station), and technology.

This brings out the two counter-intuitive parts of the superhero that Frank Miller explores in Watchmen. First, we have an individual who is ostensibly acting in the best interest of the collective. Second, we have someone doing things that might seem barbaric or inhumane:  Quis custodiet ipsos custodies.  “Who watches the Watchmen?” asked the satirist Juvenal.

Certainly for readers in the Great Depression era and on the year prior to America entering the Second World War, the idea of a superhero telling people to place the well-being of others above their own self-interest had some sway.

By the 1950s, in the Cold War era, Superman had been rewritten as “a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way”, which became his catch phrase.

The next historical reaction to changing circumstances was Iron Man. When Stan Lee created Iron Man, Tony Stark combined two different ideologies. The first was that after the USSR launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957, the US passed the National Defense Education Act, designed to create new leagues of scientists capable of taking on the Soviets.

That was Iron Man. Iron Man started out as a combination of American military and scientific prowess, with Tony Stark more important as a manufacturer of weapons than as a masked hero. His main enemy was Titanium Man, a Communist version of Iron Man. Likewise, another villain was Black Widow, originally a Russian spy but later converted to American agent.

Iron Man converts in the 70s comics, after learning that his weapons had been used to decimate the villages of Vietnam. In the movie adaptation, Iron Man undergoes the same situation with his weapons being used by terrorists, leading him to renounce his initial infatuation with the military-industrial complex.

The final turn in comic books occurs in the mid 1980s. What is clear, however, is that the change began in the mid 1980s. We get three comic books which redefine the genre:

  • Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns
  •  Art Spiegelman’s Maus
  • Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen

The world about us has changed and is continuously changing at an ever-accelerating pace. So have we. With the increase in media coverage and information technology, we see more of the world, comprehend its workings a little more clearly, and as a result, our perception of ourselves and the society surrounding us has been modified. Consequently, we begin to make different demands upon the art and culture that is meant to reflect the constantly shifting landscape we find ourselves in. We demand new themes, new insights, new dramatic situations. We demand new heroes.

—Alan Moore, ‘‘The Mark of the Batman’’

In large part, this was a reaction to the waning power of the Soviet Union and the fall of Reaganism.

Even though Reagan became a Saint invoked numerous times during the Obama administration, his facade was crumbling during his own time. The S&L Crisis, the Iran-Contra scandal, the downing of Korean Air Lines jet in 1983, and the massive expansion of the federal government during his tenure, and at the time, the largest debt increase in a non-war time.

Additionally, the Soviet Union had always provided a foil to American politics, and was used for justification for anything America did. Without the forces of the Soviet Union, America found itself accountable for its own actions.

The other issue confronting the US at this point was that the Baby-Boomer generation entered their prime years of crime. The result was a spike in crime. Countries primarily consisting of youth, (most of Africa and the Middle East), have high rates of violence. Meanwhile, the most geriatric countries like Japan have so little crime that police don’t have anything to do, but have no workforce to tap for the increasingly geriatric population to subsist off of. (This latter dystopic viewpoint is dealt with by Harmon Cooper’s Proxima Universe novels, in which a geriatric population increasingly spends their entire lives immersed in virtual Worlds.)

Anyway, the quintessential case of rising crime is the case of Bernard Goetz. On December 22, 1984, Goetz was riding the subway when several African American youths approached him. What happens next is the subject of dispute. What isn’t disputed is that Goetz pulled out a gun and started shooting them. Goetz was taken to criminal court for this, but acquitted.

Goetz claimed the five youths were out to mug him, while the youths claimed that they were just asking for money.

Miller’s Batman enters into that fray. He’s a relentless psychopath, but the “man on the street” interviews in the comics portray him as both savior and villain in one, including the President ordering Superman to arrest Batman and the new commissioner actively opposing Batman until seeing Batman and his new followers handle looters.

Even Captain America had to deal with the complexities of the 80s. Steve Rogers is hauled before a committee who tell him that he either has to become an agent of America again or stop using the name and moniker of Captain America.

Those men are not my country. They are only paid bureaucrats of the country’s current administration. They represent the political system—while I represent those intangibles upon which our nation was founded . . . l By going back to my wartime role as a glorified agent of America’s official policies, I’d be compromising my effectiveness as a symbol that transcends mere politics.

Steve Rogers as Captain America.

Steve Rogers gives up the uniform, and a new Captain America takes his place.

Going forward into the 90s, the plot got lost. Four separate and horrible things converted all at once:

  • Dark age comics. The problem with comics like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns is that they inspired a generation of comics that had the style of gritty-realism, but no depth. This gave birth to The Angst, where characters were very angry and angsty, but had no real reason why.
  • Reasons to force characters to become angsty rose and fell, with the Girl in the Fridge being one of the most popular ones. (Where a loved one of a superhero will die repeatedly). Go read Bloodwynd and you’ll have an idea of what The Angst was like.

You can also watch the Ben Affleck DareDevil movie and see The Angst in action.

  • Then, the worst thing ever to happen to comic books, Rob Liefeld, was unleashed. Liefeld, in and of himself, was only part of a larger problem, the rise of the Superstar Artist. As part of the speculator bubble, artists became far more popular than authors, with many artists demanding to become more responsible for their comics. This lead to artists writing their storylines, and artists do not necessarily make good authors.
  • – The Speculator Bubble. The 90s were a time for collecting things under the idea that they would someday become amazingly valuable. Marvel capitalized on this by releasing all sorts of variations on their comics in more and more gimmicky ways to get people to buy them just to collect them, not to read them.

Not surprisingly, the combination of a Superstar Artist and a market designed to collect rather than consume lead to a noticeable depreciation of comic quality.  This will come back up.

Additionally the types of comics that collected the highest values in the older comics were new superhero debuts, death of comics, and dramatic story-turns. The new collector/investor comic book readers started collecting those, and every comic started killing off major characters, then introducing tons of new ones, then having plot twists with existing ones, etc. all in an effort to pander to this new investor market.

Of course, the reason why the old comics were valuable is because no one thought they would be valuable. With tons of comics coming out just for the sake of being collectible, there was a market saturation. And with any good bubble comes a good crash, with 1996 marking the year Marvel would file for bankruptcy.

superboy_v2_61
Do you remember Superboy?

Additionally, Image Comics was formed because the content creators felt that too many of their rights were taken away by the big comic book companies, as they wouldn’t see royalties on their created images.

Anyway, what we got left with were a series of worse and worse Batman movies, culminating in Batman and Robin, a terrible Spawn film, and flops like DareDevil and Elektra.

It seemed to be over for comics. Until a movie came out that asked the important question. Should we have sex with vampires or not?

That movie was Blade. From Blade, we get the X-men, and from the X-Men, we get the Sam Rami Spiderman trilogy, and from there, we get the Marvel Cinematic Universe coming into fruition, even though Spiderman was not part of that Universe originally.

If you fast-forward to the modern time period, the current ongoing crisis in comics is the never-ending culture war. Marvel has gone all-in with the feminist/diversity quota. The problem with the initiative can be summarized with one word: pandering.

The Marvel comics discussed above placed nuanced decisions in the hands of the superheroes. Batman could easily be seen as both savior and villain, and even though the series ended on him being savior, it doesn’t make seeing him as the villain a strange or weird decision.

New Marvel though takes it to cartoony proportions. (New Marvel began in 2015). The good guys celebrate diversity, bad guys don’t. Old heroes get sidelined stupidly to make up for setting up the new heroes. Let’s look at recent trends:

  • Captain America is a Nazi
  • Old Wolverine is dead
  • Hulk is dead
  • Old Thor is hammerless and has cancer

Replacing this:

Wolverine is now a female. Thor is now a female. Ghost-rider is now Mexican. Spiderman is black. Hulk is Asian. Iron-man or iron heart is also female.

There’s a huge irony in this. The name for this sexist trope is called Ms. Man or Distaff verison, where they take a male character and turn him into a female one. Of course, some of these characters have been swapped in the past, for example, Ghost-Rider is just a title, anyone can become a Ghost Rider. Anyone can become Captain America.

Typically though, whenever other characters have taken over the role, they have been established throughout the series.  The reason why characters like Black Panther, Luke Cage, Storm, etc. work is that they have their own identity and story. For successful swaps, we have:

Black captain America?  Did it in 1999 with Sam Wilson, who had been in the series since 1969.  Female Thor?  Did it with Storm and with Valkyrie.  They have their own identity and persona prior to becoming the character. Just stealing someone else’s identity doesn’t work. You f***ing hacks.

Some people are extremely hurt that I didn’t mention that female Wolverine is X-23, and she’s been setup as female Wolverine since her introduction, becoming a quasi-surrogate daughter to both Wolverine, with whom she has a complicated relation, and Gambit, who acts more like a father figure.

That’s because it’s utterly irrelevant that I go by a point-by-point basis on the new Wolverine, Thor, Ghost-rider, Spiderman, Hulk, Captain America, and Iron-man/Iron-Heart.

The point being that these constant changes have alienated fans.  You cannot get emotionally invested in a character that might just switched out at any moment and replace the long running character you love.

The fact that they are all Distaff swaps have made it look more like it’s an ideological agenda than a natural flow of the story-telling arcs of the characters, which happened with the previous swaps and characters taking up the mantle of the hero whenever one of them fell or was incapable of continuing on.

Then they release a catastrophically large number of new series each month, that requires buying multiple crossovers to follow the storyline. And tons of cross-overs between the comics. And tons of #1 issues.

If you are saying to yourself right now: “Doesn’t this sound almost identical to what killed them off in 1996?” The answer would be: Yes. Part of it is that they are now trying to appeal to a global audience. For example, they added in a Chinese character to one of the movies for 20 minutes in one of the films because they wanted it to sell in China.

So I think that they are trying to make these new gender/race swapped characters and revamps to bring in a more global audience. But they have done so by blatantly pandering (at least Marvel, DC is still doing fine, as is Image, which branched out into other things), to the lowest common denominator.

So current comics reflect the left/right SJW manifestation that infects everything.  This will come up again.

Zombie movies

That of course, leads us to zombie movies. A very smooth and natural transition.

Anyway, there’s a brilliant opening shot in Joe Versus the Volcano where Tom Hanks walks into his job and everyone is just shuffle-walking. It’s brilliant.

If you didn’t know better, you would swear this is a zombie film. And that’s the origin of the zombie motif.

In today’s corporate World, you are shorn of all identity and forced to behave in the exact same way. When you encounter corporate evil, you aren’t fighting an individual. You are fighting an insurmountable group of nameless, faceless beings. Same when you deal with the government.

This gets mocked even in Domino Finn’s Reboot where the World is basically ending and he’s stuck talking to an Indian tech support worker.  Since the problems confronting us like terrorism, stagnant wages, ecological disaster, etc. are greater than any one person can solve, it feels like fighting the endless hordes of undead.

Castrated Men

Women now beat men in graduation rates in high school and college and are doing vastly better in the workplace. Men now only account for 40% of college graduates. In most other domains, 4x the suicide rates, opium addiction, incarceration rates, life expectancy, men trail women by staggering amounts.

The good student is one who sits down, shuts up, and does what he or she is told. For men, that means becoming castrated.  If you can’t do it by fiat, then using enough psychiatric drugs should do the trick.

Likewise, the good worker at his job sits down, shuts up, doesn’t make off-color jokes, and is a good castrated male.

Men are really going to have to change their act or have big problems. I think of big guys from the cave days, guys who were good at lifting stuff and hunting and the things we got genetically selected out for. During the industrial revolution that wasn’t so bad, but it’s not going to be there anymore.

Richard Freeman, Harvard economist

In short, you need to be a good little girl if you’re a man, or you’re not going to get the job or the degree.  Whether or not you think the emasculation of men is a good thing will largely determine where you fall on the SJW vs. anti-SJW side of the spectrum.

If you want a good look at this and the role it’s played in mass shootings, article is here.

Reactions in General Literature

The reactions in general literature has been the obsession with conspiracy theories and the rise of fascism on both the left and right side of the political spectrum.

There are two ways of understanding the World. The first is “user-agent oriented”, which means that things happen because agents will those things to happen.

The second way is “systems-oriented”, in which complex systems create problems.

As an example, think about killing Saddam Hussein. If you are user-agent oriented, then you think that Saddam is a bad man, and killing the bad man will make society better.

If you are systems-oriented, you think that Saddam rose to power as the result of an underlying system that produced him, and that removing him from power will not change the underlying system. Thus you might end up with someone even worse in power.

Guess who was right?

Simply put, the running theme is to label anyone with a disagreement as some alien life-force not worth considering. They are treated with disgust.

Then we get to college, where the dominant mode of politics is identity politics, and in which the primary test of an argument isn’t the quality of the thinking but the cultural, racial, or sexual standing of the person making it. As a woman of color I think X. As a gay man I think Y. As a person of privilege I apologize for Z. This is the baroque way Americans often speak these days. It is a way of replacing individual thought — with all the effort that actual thinking requires — with social identification — with all the attitude that attitudinizing requires.

In recent years, identity politics have become the moated castles from which we safeguard our feelings from hurt and our opinions from challenge. It is our “safe space.” But it is a safe space of a uniquely pernicious kind — a safe space from thought, rather than a safe space for thought, to borrow a line I recently heard from Salman Rushdie.

Another consequence of identity politics is that it has made the distance between making an argument and causing offense terrifyingly short. Any argument that can be cast as insensitive or offensive to a given group of people isn’t treated as being merely wrong. Instead it is seen as immoral, and therefore unworthy of discussion or rebuttal.

The result is that the disagreements we need to have — and to have vigorously — are banished from the public square before they’re settled. People who might otherwise join a conversation to see where it might lead them choose instead to shrink from it, lest they say the “wrong” thing and be accused of some kind of political -ism or -phobia. For fear of causing offense, they forego the opportunity to be persuaded.

What we get left with a shitty, patronizing set of Marvel comics. Instead of focusing on large systems of thought, we focus on the user agent. You would only say that if you’re a bigot, or a libtard, or SJW, or Nazi, or (insert pejorative here).

Thus by turning the “personal into the political”, the underlying systems never get dealt with or criticized.  Nietzsche might have said that Socrates was an ugly man, as a way of saying that his moral system is that of an ugly person, (Socrates thought true beauty was held by ideas in some other sphere, so true beauty was not physical), but the current climate goes beyond that.

Reactions in Female Literature

In female literature, (meaning literature written by and for women), the reaction to the castrated male has been to create the antithesis of that archetype.

A male character who is older than the female lead, often hyper aggressive and machismo to the point of being a literal or figurative predator, who has infinite wealth, good looking, and who has a large amount of previous female lovers. Despite being the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company at only 28, he is never shown actually working.

There’s also stalking, having sex while she’s drunk, and a whole host of abusive behaviors. This is the 100 million best-selling book that woman want to read.

As a psychological reaction though, it’s not surprising. The opposite of the castrated male in the domineering alpha male. Since the castrated male is what women are mostly exposed to in school, work, and their love life, they’re going to crave the opposite of that. Thus we have mommyporn for 100 million women.

In the era of the repressed female as the archetype, Bonnie Elizabeth Parker liked to pose with guns and cigars as part of her image.

bonnieparkercigar1933

Our biological makeup inclines us to consume what we should not, but so do the cultural traditions that have drawn on that biological makeup and been shaped by it.
Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain p. 281.

At its base, the story of Fifty Shades is so banal it’s painful. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back. Even the sex scenes are vanilla, a silk tie as a restraint? If missionary position is a wild porn fantasy, then this is your book.

Otherwise, prepare for an assault on the English language.

Sitting beside me, he gently pulls my sweats pants down. Up and down like a whore’s drawers, my subconscious remarks bitterly.

My inner goddess is beside herself, hopping from foot to foot.

My inner goddess fist pumps the air above her chaise lounge.

My inner goddess stirs from her five-day sulk.

My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves.

My inner goddess is doing a triple axel dismount off the uneven bars, and abruptly my mouth is dry.

I know what you’re thinking.  “Is he going to try to make Jeff Hays read those lines?”  Probably.  Probably.

Anyway, it’s not Maitresse or Secretary, it’s really a banal story with a blow-up doll as the lead female and a caricature of the alpha male as the emblematic feature.

You can repeat this criticism for Twilight, the best-selling all-female book that 50 Shades was a fan-fiction to.  Without the hypermasculine male, there isn’t anything to these books.  They have no real soul, and yet, the fact that they are about hypermasculine men primarily escapes all of the popular treatment of them.

Reactions in Male Literature

Finally (whew!) that brings us back to male literature and the LitRPG genre. The reaction in male genres has been to also recreate the Adonis figure, but not as an Adonis figure.

Instead, as the recipients of cultural castration, we have created culturally castrated men who are given extraordinary sex appeal within the environments they live in.

Unlike the female version: a confident, abusive, manipulative, rich, handsome, and socially graceful man, the male version is awkward, clumsy, stilted, nice, not handsome, not rich, and not abusive. He’s a beta male who attains alpha male status, the ultimate fantasy wish-fulfillment for a beta male.

In movies, the archetypical example is Revenge of the Nerds, where one of the nerds has sex with the jock’s girlfriend.  She says, “Wow, you’re so good.”  And he replies, “Yeah, because nerds think about sex all the time.”  As opposed to the jocks, who are actually having sex.  That is the beta-male fantasy in a nutshell.

These novels do not confront the real-World problems, as the characters occupy a space outside of it.  Christian Grey is a multi-billionaire who does nothing, while most of the male fantasy characters are godlike or in an environment where they are outside those mundane concerns that threaten to overwhelm us.  As readers, we get to experience a World without those existential dread concerns, whereas the better novels ask us to confront those problems and grow from that confrontation.

While I can understand why a book like Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey is a best-seller, I will stand here today, tomorrow, and forever decrying it as absolute shit. And while I can understand the need for men to write literature ascending themselves as beta-male-gods, and I think Liam Arato’s Gold Farmer is the prime example of that, I will stand here today, tomorrow, and forever, telling you that if you write this pandering shit it is shit.

I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.

7 thoughts on “Castrated men and power fantasies”

    1. The independently rich guy capable of taking out humans, vampires,and werewolves, that spends his free time hunting and killing bad people, accomplished medical student, and master piano player?

      The sparkling scenes might be more homoerotic than two men wrestling in a pool of jello, but that doesn’t change the fact that everything else about him is pure alpha male.

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      1. Uhm, no. What you’re describing is a very talented person. <- full stop. A renaissance man or whatever you call it in English. In this example good at medicine, playing the piano and killing people.
        That doesn't say a lot about his personality type though.
        Could be an alpha, but could be just as well turn out to be a nerd. What differentiates between the two is not skill, its social behaviour. An alpha likes to interact with people – and will try to lead – a nerd would avoid that. Not having read twilight I can only go by descriptions, but as far as I can tell, Edward does most definitely not strive for a prominent social position.

        But let's put that aside for now. It took me a while to find your blog again, so I had lots of time to ponder your post in more depth.
        First I was surprised that you left out the Odyssey, given that you mentioned the Illias. It seemed to me that the Odyssey is exactly the kind of power fantasy you claim didn't exist before modern times. A man who does rely more on his wit than his brawn describes Odysseus pretty well after all.
        But then I got thinking. Did you leave it out on purpose? I came to the conclusion that if yes, you were right to do so. Why would people of the classic and similar periods even think of brainy-man-does-stuff as wish fulfillment?
        Wouldnt other stories be much closer to their idea of what a man is supposed to be and do?
        Take the Beowulf saga you mentioned. When you think about it, that's not a tragedy as you claimed, that's their kind of wish fulfillment.
        Man goes out, kills stuff, gets awarded lots of loot, then kills even stronger stuff that no ordinary man can even think of fighting and wins immortal fame. Which leaves him in quite the quandary: without a worthy foe to fight and die to, he's bound to diean old man in his sleep, which means he goes to Hel after death. The tragedy!
        But lo and behold, an even stronger opponent appears and kills him, granting him entrance to Walhalla. Happy End after all!

        IMHO you're making the quite common mistake of taking a modern view and imposing it on definitely-not-modern man. What seems a tragedy to us spoiled-by-eternal-safety modern humans isn't neccesarily a tragedy for people of antiquity.

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