Toxic Masculinity

So if you live in today’s times, you’ll know that feminism is often a controversial topic because it’s seen as detrimental toward men, or somehow taking away from them. However, feminism has expanded to encompass and include men’s rights and how they are also affected by the patriarchy. This typically shows its face in the form of ‘toxic masculinity’, Toxic masculinity is one of the ways in which Patriarchy is harmful to men. It refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth. 

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Toxic masculinity mostly seems to show itself in the aggression or level of testosterone in males. This is why Adam is pretty much seen as the weaker member of the group throughout the novel: he isn’t as physically strong. However, he’s given a sort of alternate route out of being seen as the more sensitive member of the group, in that he can use his nerdiness to pick up women.

The way most people typically see it, how masculine someone is depends on how sexual, strong, or physically aggressive they are. Throughout the novel, violence and aggression are actually what manage to ruin rank’s life. He’s constantly got pressure put on him to be this super dominant alpha male from both his father and later from his college coach. When he goes along with his father’s demands, he nearly kills Mick Croft, a local punk, and when he refuses to hurt anyone and goes directly against the role laid out for him, he’s punished by having to quit hockey and lose his scholarship.

This also perpetuates that violence is the only way to deal with his problems, which is very evident. In the novel, he often pushes people or tries to intimidate them when he’s angry, most likely because he simply doesn’t understand how else to go about it.

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Rank mentions that growing up he felt the stronger effects of puberty before a lot of his peers. Due to him living in a society and era (aka the 80s) where being a strong jock and stuff was praised and definitely preferred, this causes women to start treating him as a grown up or sometimes an authority figure just because he adheres to the roles put out for him by that society. Because we associate masculinity with being grown up, this can often make us treat children as adults that they are not even in today’s society. Rank nicely sums it up when discussing his childhood.

“First, being a grown man gives you this instant, irrational power. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t graduated from junior high yet, it doesn’t matter if you spend most of your evenings picking your nose in front of Family Ties, and it doesn’t matter if you have done precisely nothing in your life worthy of your fellow man’s respect. Doesn’t matter — you have it. Everyone figures you can fix their cars, that you know what kind of aluminium siding they should buy, that you can file a tax return. And they turn to you, this is what’s astounding — They turn to you, these ladies with the bashed-up furnaces — In all your assumed expertise and aptitude. (Coady 62)

The issue with this is that Rank is not a grown man at that point at all. He’s still a child, but because we associate the traits he has (muscular, tall, deepened voice) with being an adult, people treat him like an adult.

Heck, the reason that he even becomes a bouncer is because his father sees him as a grown adult when he’s still a child because of his size. He can use him to intimidate other people because his masculinity says “Prove it. Prove to me how big you are.” (Coady 62)

Another problem with typical standards of masculinity is the ‘unemotional’ aspect of it. Men are expected not to show emotion, not to talk about their feelings. This is a ‘girl’ thing. Real men deal with it on their own. After all, what could be more traditionally macho than dealing with pain on your own?

This shows itself in Rank’s behaviour. He never really talks to his friends about his post-traumatic stress disorder or his actual feelings toward his father. He tends to simply bottle things up until he just can’t take it anymore and snaps. He even describes healthy venting as “yanking off hanks of self-flesh and shoving them bloodily at everyone around [him].” (Coady 4)

The problem with this is that it likely contributes to the suicide rate of males, who die 3.5 times more often than women do by their own hands. It is considered weak and lowly to ask for help, which is absolute crap and causes a lot of problems for Rank when he bottles it up because he releases it in one, angry wave. I believe that his life would have been easier if he’d just felt like he could talk to people.

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I think that if these issues weren’t present in Rank’s childhood and adolesence, nearly none of the events in the book would have occured. Most or all of them stemmed from bad parenting based on stereotypes or social norms that need to be thrown out. The real antagonist is those who perpetuate them.

This is Katie, signing off.

Portfolio Planner

Alright, let’s get to it!

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Portfolio planning is always fun, and I actually have a bit of experience in it. Hopefully, I’ll be able to knock this one out of the park.

My thesis is going to be that toxic masculinity is the real antagonist of the novel (haha). I usually write persuasive essays because it’s easy for me to use emotionally charged language to prove a point, but I think this time I want to challenge myself and try out the argumentative style essay. If this proves to be difficult during drafting then it might be a subject to change, though. The topic I’ve chosen is one that I usually talk extensively about outside of class, so it shouldn’t be too hard to tackle within a novel.

For the other three pieces of media, I’m pretty confident with what I’ve chosen:

  • Podcast
  • Blog post
  • Website

Now, in regards to the last point, I don’t think I can actually make a functioning website, but I figure that I can make a Tumblr blog to utilise the same characteristics. I’ve had experience in this before both from my own blog and from a project last year where I decided to design a blog that a character in my book would have.

The blog post is just… well, I’ve already shown that I really enjoy writing these. It’s essentially just a place for me to spew my opinion endlessly. If you haven’t noticed already, I like to talk and debate.

BWW's Top Ten TV gifs of the Week; Jonathan Groff, NPH, Kevin Hart, and More!

BWW's Top Ten TV gifs of the Week; Jonathan Groff, NPH, Kevin Hart, and More!

Same here, Gina.

The blog post is just an easy way to get all my feelings down into one area.

Which brings me to my final area…

T H E  P O D C A S T

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This is either going to kill me or it’s going to be the best time of my life. Talking is my life. I love talking about the things I like and the things I’m passionate about. I’m a little worried about how I’m going to make and edit a 40-minute podcast, but I have faith in my ability to get off track enough to fill the time slot. I’m also a bit worried because I don’t really have a good microphone to record on, but I really want to do this!

Well I mean… that’s the plan, Stan! Hopefully this’ll be fun. This is Katie, signing off!

The Antagonist: Volume IV

Over the past little while, I’ve divided up Lynn Coady’s The Antagonist into three sections and done a little blog post on each of them using three different lenses: Reader Response, Archetypal, and Feminist.

I’ll be honest, I think the Archetypal lens provided the least insight for me. It didn’t interest me nearly as much as the other two did. While the Feminist lens is right up my alley, my favourite is pretty clear:

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Reader Response!

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I have nothing against the other lenses, I think that they’re both fine except that the Reader Response really fits because it’s essentially what I personally take away from the text, and I think that the other lenses kind of bleed into that. My thoughts tend to be very jumbled and all over the place, so just being able to rant about literally everything on my mind no matter how weird it happens to be is incredibly helpful. I definitely thought the most during it because I have opinions on literally everything. It’s very easy for me to relate the characters and events in the book to other topics because my mind just constantly jumps from place to place. It was easy for me to connect with Rank and analyze his relationship with his father after seeing that he used the “… tactic from long ago and far away. Gord switches tracks — shifts with stomach-turning swiftness from wrath to bewilderment. Who, me? Loveable old Dad, screaming, making threats? You’re mistaken, sir.” (Coady 97)

I can talk about how I think that Coady did a good job portraying how hard it is to break away from Catholicism. I could talk about how effective it was to keep me (aka the audience) on edge by jumping back and forth from the past to the present and denying us knowledge of what Rank even did to get a place in Adam’s book in the first place. I could talk about how much I loved that the Deed™ is left intentionally vague only to have the horrible, gut-wrenching reality sink in later. Or, I could just ramble on about how much I loved the final quote:

“Let me just stop right there and tell you I am sorry for it all–for offering it up to you, of all people, all that gore and grief. I am heartily sorry for having offended you, as we say in the confessional–the good old Catholic penalty box. Whatever it was I did to you that night, that morning (we both know I did something; I struck a match; I flicked a switch), I’m sorry.

And thank you for not putting it in your book.
And fuck you for not putting it in your book.
Your friend,
Gordon Rankin” (Coady 376)

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As much as I love analyzing a text based on gender or literary archetypes, in the end there’s a (somewhat selfish) love for just being able to state my opinion for a piece of art that I loved, and I would say that Coady’s novel is no less than that.

This is Katie, signing off.

The Antagonist: Volume III

The final chapter!

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Today I’m going to be writing about everyone’s favourite compilation of angry emails — otherwise known as The Antagonist by Lynn Coady — from a feminist theory. I thought this would be interesting because there’s a total of two (2) women with roles central to the plot. But what can you expect from a book about jocks, masculinity, and lovable frat boys?

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That being said, let’s jump right into it!

Now, The Antagonist is essentially a ‘bromance’ book. What I mean by this is that there are minimal amounts of women in it. And what I mean by that is that there’s a total of maybe four women with speaking roles. Two of them only show up once. Normally I’d be upset about this, but this is a book that literally centers around manhood and also happens to be set in the 1980s-90s. You take what you can get.

Image result for virgin mary paintingRank (the protagonist) makes his attitude toward women indirectly clear throughout the book. He’s very civil and not nearly as sexist as some of his counterparts (*Cough*Kyle*Cough*). However, this doesn’t mean he’s exempt from his own broad generalizations.

Around halfway through the book, Rank gets in a fight with his friend Kyle, who tends to degrade the women he sleeps with despite calling himself a feminist. A notable example is the following: (Warning: Crude language)

“…’What else do we think is bullshit?… compact discs,’ says Kyle, turning it into a game. ‘Digital music — all your albums are obsolete overnight, and you have to rebuild your entire collection. Total marketing scam. What else?’
Rank is just looking at Kyle and Adam is looking at Rank.
‘Hot chicks who get fat,’ continues Kyle with a swig. Adam suddenly leans forward. ‘You fuck ’em when they’re thin, and then they still expect you to wanna fuck ’em after they’re fat.'” (Coady 201)

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I love frat boys.

Good to know that sexism is alive and well. Lynn Coady is very accurate in her writing with the misogyny.

Rank essentially scares Kyle out of the room by yelling at him and threatening to fight him after that last quote starts an argument between them. He tries to defend himself because “It’s like… During the whole Take Back The Night thing last month. There was that poster around campus about virgins and whores. How guys think women can only be one or the other… except Kyle thinks they’re all whores. It’s not a virgin/whore complex it’s a… whore/whore complex.”  Adam refutes this by stating “That’s not what he thinks, Rank… it’s what you think. [Except] you have the opposite.” (Coady 205-206)

Should it need further clarification, Rank believes that every woman is a virgin. The mental image we usually get when we picture a virgin woman is a girl who’s pure or good, motherly or innocent. While ‘virgin-praising’ is arguably better than ‘slut-shaming’, it’s still a detrimental image to carry around.

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The thing is that Adam isn’t wrong. Rank does carry around a ‘virgin/virgin complex’ likely due to his kind, gentle, Catholic mother. Heck, the first time Rank talks about her he romanticizes her as a ‘glimmer of light’. Soft, gentle, yet pleasantly bright and pure.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with using clever metaphors or analogies to describe someone you love. The main issue is that it’s sometimes counteractive or maybe even bad to carry around the idea that someone is an angel or perfectly pure or a glimmer of light, because this is a symptom that you’re not in love with a person, you’re in love with an idea, a fantasy. It’s not good to reduce someone to that level. My favourite example is from Daydream Nation (2010) wherein the protagonist’s love interest writes her in his book as this beautiful dream girl who saves him, who pulls him from the depths with her boundless love and beauty. Her reply is:

Bravo, Kat Dennings!

Luckily, Coady makes sure to snap off this limb before it grows nerve endings, having Rank admit in one of his emails, “I can’t believe I tried to depect [my mother] to you as a glimmer of light. I’m embarrassed about that now. It’s so obvious. I am very nearly forty years old, have not been inside a Catholic church since 1986, and I’m still as conditioned as a Pavlonian dog. Holy Mary Mother of God. Why didn’t I just put her in virginal robes, describe her ascending into heaven, hands over heart, eyes in the clouds?” (Coady 212)

His former girlfriend, Kirsten, is further characterized later in the book by describing the mistakes she’s made in her marriage, battling self-loathing and her slow detachment from her religion. It’s only near the end of the book that the women are begun to be seen as people instead of archetypes. Aside from this, they usually show up as either offhand comments from a party or a one night stand. Here, to make things simple, I’ll just list off the names:

  • Sylvie: Rank’s mother, mentioned frequently throughout the book. When mentioned, she’s either cooking/cleaning, crying, or consoling Rank. I believe this is intentional because this is what Rank remembers through his virgin/virgin complex. The only exceptions are when she describes in detail to him the time that she was duck hunting and had to kill one with her bare hands because they were stranded on an island, and near the end when she’s trying to explain to Rank that she’s going to leave Gord, her abusive husband.
  • Kirsten: Mentioned maybe 4-5 times throughout the book. Rank first describes their brief relationship and then breakup before later connecting with her again via Facebook and learning more about her life.
  • Tiny Tina: Mentioned 2-3 times, though never has a speaking role. She’s a girl who Kyle hooked up with before she gained a lot of weight.
  • Emily: Wade’s girlfriend. Mentioned once and speaks/flirts for a couple pages with Rank.
  • Rita: A cute barmaid at Goldfinger’s who says a couple words to Kyle. Never mentioned outside of that.

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See, this book is kind of an analysis of masculinity, so I’m not bashing it for this. Not to
make generalizations, but a book about men usually doesn’t have many women in it who aren’t either mothers or objects of affection. We really need to work on that, don’t we?

Perhaps next time we should all dig a little deeper to see the extra character that we have deep inside of us instead of assigning meaningless roles and titles to the people we love. If we’re being honest, we all have a little bit of a virgin/whore complex nested deep inside of us.

This is Katie, signing off.

The Antagonist: Volume II

Alright, lovelies, time for round two!

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I’ve now read the second third of  Lynn Coady’s “The Antagonist”. If you didn’t tune into the previous blog post, then here’s a rundown:

Gordon ‘Rank’ Rankin made way too many mistakes in his adolescent years than is considered acceptable. His friend, Adam, decided to write a book and write in Rank as the antagonist… I’ll let Rank explain the outcome of that.

“Already this feels like a cliché, which is the fault of none other than Adam. It wouldn’t feel that way if you didn’t exist. It wouldn’t be a part of someone else’s fairy tale, it would just be my own nameless stench, hanging over me. The biggest pisser? The fact that the cliché of me was all you really took, you boiled an entire life, an entire human being, Adam, down into his most basic, boneheaded elements. Good mom plus bad dad hinting at the predictable Oedipal (oh give me a fucking break) background of — voilà — Danger Man! One seriously messed up dude. Not very creative of you is what I’m saying.”
(Coady 9)

But anyway, let’s jump right in!

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I’ve always been fascinated with how archetypal theory pushes its way into the narrative. I learned about ‘The Hero’s Journey‘ when I was in 10th grade, and it’s always intrigued me how the most brilliant stories can be so different, yet so similar just because they follow this simple formula. The Antagonist is no exception, it’s just more clever in how it masks it. In example:

The Hero – Gordon Rankin Jr. He’s the protagonist and the one who our sympathies lean toward as the reader. He also acts as a tour guide throughout the story he tells.

The Mentor – Surprisingly, it isn’t really his mother or his father. Owen Findlay is Rank’s hockey coach and eventually his therapist in a Juvenile Detention Centre after the kid nearly kills Mick Croft. Rank’s words: “It is safe to say that you and I would never have met in the hallowed halls of academe if the gods had presented me with any coach in the world who was not Owen Findlay.” (Coady 116)

The Ally – There are multiple. These people are Rank’s friends throughout university: Kyle, Wade, and Adam. They live in a rented frathouse together known as “The Temple”, a place where everyone is expected to get along and act politely to each other regardless of your social standing or clique. Adam is Rank’s best friend of the three, though, and frequently talks to him man-to-man to make sure he tones back his temper or just listens to him when he’s got issues.

“… But Rank is throwing caution to the wind on this day, in celebration and acknowledgment of his newfound status of Completely Screwed. But — It’s hilarious. He doesn’t feel so bad. It’s clear now why his first instinct was to dig up Adam and tell the whole story to him before anybody else. He must’ve known that only Adam would react this way — only Adam would applaud.” (Lynn Coady 172)

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Though this doesn’t make up for the fact that Adam continuously makes cracked skull jokes even though he’s aware of Rank’s trauma after the incident.

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The Herald – Would be Mick Croft. He’s such a piece of utter garbage, but for some reason, I loved the couple chapters we got to spend with him. His incident of insulting Gord enough to lead to a tussle with Rank in the parking lot and then getting his skull cracked open on the pavement is what begins the mess of trauma in Rank’s life, and is continually mentioned throughout the story beyond.

The Trickster – Kyle and Wade. They aren’t in the book that often unless some light-hearted comedy is needed. They’re both goofy, popular stoners who just like to have fun and kiss girls. Most of the dialogue they have is humorous or banter.

Shapeshifter – Definitely Adam Grix. Adam was Rank’s best friend all throughout university until the big ‘incident’ occurred. He’s portrayed as very logical and maybe a bit pretentious sometimes, but he also looks out for Rank as often as he can. This changes when he basically betrays him and smears his name in the book he wrote; writing down all the things that Rank considered private to be read by the public.

“You know all of this, or I thought you did. I gave it to you, these intermittent chunks, I pulled off bloody hank of flesh after bloody hank and just handed them over and you were so coy, you averted your eyes and pretended to be embarrassed like the rest of them when really you were squirreling the hanks away and secretly stitching them together and building Frankenstein’s monster.” 
(Coady 8)

The Shadow – If I was being lazier, I would just classify Rank’s father, Gord, as the Shadow and be done with it. Rank is constantly struggling against his father’s toxic masculinity and his emotionally abusive tendencies, but I believe the real Shadow is Rank’s guilt. Throughout the novel, he’s constantly battling with his self-loathing after nearly killing Mick Croft. He thinks about it constantly, unable to move on from the fact that he did that and it happened. I certainly hope he can learn to make peace with himself by the end of the novel.

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But moving on, the Hero’s Journey doesn’t stop there! There’s an entire outline for how the plots usually go! Though I haven’t reached the end of the book yet, so I don’t have too much to go on. But from what I can tell:

The Ordinary World: Rank lives in his small town with a part-time job at his father’s ice cream shop, Icy Dream. Though he doesn’t have the best home life, his mother is alive and well and he has decent grades and a decent life.

The Call To Adventure: That makes it sound a lot more triumphant and joyous than it actually is. In reality, the call to adventure (or the event that gets the story going) is when Rank has a fight with local punk and drug dealer Mick Croft in the parking lot of Icy Dream at the request of his father. It ends with one punch and Mick ends up with brain damage.

Meeting with the Mentor: Rank meets Owen Findlay, a hockey coach with a strict non-violence policy on the rink. He plays the role of the father figure where Gord sort of fails and also acts as a therapist for him when he’s in a Juvie center after pleading guilty to assault on Mick Croft. Owen helps teach him to quell his temper and even helps him get a scholarship for his hockey skills.

Crossing the Threshold: Rank crossing over from Highschool to University.

Tests, Allies, and Enemies: Rank makes friends with Adam, Kyle, and Wade. Three somewhat pretentious stoners who are absolutely nothing like him. Nonetheless, they’re all very good friends. Adam is especially a big help when Rank decides to quit hockey and forfeit his scholarship after his coach told him to either crack the skulls of the enemy team or walk away from the team entirely.

Approach: The tension begins to rise within the group of friends as Rank becomes a big more estranged and takes a job as a bouncer (and later a shady deliveryman) at a seedy bar called Goldfinger’s. It is at this point that it becomes clear that the frequently referenced ‘incident’ is going to happen soon, and it’s not going to be pretty.

Though I haven’t reached the climax of the book, from the journey I can expect this; I think someone is going to either die or come very close to it. He’s going to be torn apart so that he can eventually stitch himself back up and fix what he’s done. Rank is going to flee from the situation and then realize everything that needs fixing. From there I think that he’ll start a new life from there and end up doing something he likes instead of trying to please everyone.

Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

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This is Katie, signing off.

My Opinion on Adnan Syed’s Innocence

A little over a month ago I listened to the first episode of  Serial, a podcast documenting a dramatized version of Hae Min Lee’s death, and the events that transpired while police attempted to find her murderer.

The podcast follows narrator Sarah Koenig as she investigates what she believes to be an example of wrongful imprisonment for one Adnan Syed, Lee’s ex-boyfriend at the time of her death. For all the reasons I’m about to state, I believe he’s innocent.

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Always, Rihanna.

The first issue I had with Adnan’s imprisonment was the lack of evidence that actually pointed to him being at the crime scene. I don’t mean people saying that they saw him with his friend Jay the day of the murder, I mean real, hard evidence that totally convicts him. There aren’t any fingerprints, fibers or stray hairs that point to him actually being in the car that day. Even though that probably wouldn’t have made a difference in testifying his guilt.

The whole situation made me a little uncomfortable with how willing they were to accept that Adnan absolutely did it. I still believe that it has something to do with profiling and the fact that he has a very broadly-built Muslim man. It’s very easy for the media to paint someone like that as a guilty, rage-filled murderer of his ex-girlfriend. This can further be backed up with the fact that “Some 95 percent of felony convictions are the result of plea bargains, with no formal evidence ever presented, and most never bother with an appeal.”

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Yeah, it’s really messed up, and America’s justice/prison system really needs to be fixed.

Anyway, returning to the topic at hand, most of the evidence against Adnan is either from Jay, his friend and allegedly an accomplice to the murder of Hae Min Lee, or from various other people around the campus or school who kind of think he maybe did it, or who think he did it because of an odd, convoluted series of phone calls.

Let’s not forget to mention the fact that Jay’s boss stated that the prosecutor was allegedly yelling at him for not making Adnan sound ‘creepy’ enough and that the homicide investigators who interviewed Jay believed that his story was changing.

I’m also going to point out Asia McLean’s alibi (that for some reason wasn’t used) once again. The fact that she sent multiple letters to Adnan about the incident and was also on the phone with the prosecutor beforehand does something to prove that she wasn’t at least some random woman just looking for drama. Adnan stated that he thought he was at the library around the time of Lee’s death, and Asia was able to back up the claim. The only issue is that she allegedly wasn’t told when she was supposed to show up for a court hearing.

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This is the problem that’s stated many times in the podcast. There are holes in every murder case, but it’s rare that there are so many different holes that the state is pretty much basing the entire case off of a ‘he-said-she-said’ situation.

Anyway, this is Katie, signing off.

(Blurb posted below)

The Antagonist: Volume I

So over the past month I’ve read a little over a third of The Antagonist by Lynn Coady, a tale of masculinity and bromance prevailing through thick and thin.

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Alright, you got me. It is about masculinity, but also about confronting those who have done you wrong. The book centers around forty-year-old Gordon ‘Rank’ Rankin, a man who has recently discovered that his former best friend in college, Adam Grix, has written a book and in doing this, has made him the main antagonist of the novel by taking what he considers to be the most shameful parts of his life and oversimplifying them. He responds by asking Adam one day, totally out of the blue, to review the story that he wrote.

What ensues is a seemingly endless stream of emails about the story of his life, fleshing out the relationship with his emotionally abusive father, the death of his mother, his guilt and trauma, all the while giving small jabs at Adam for being a jerk and traitor for making him look like an awful person.

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I won’t lie, I’ve always wanted to do something like that. Condense everything into one whopping message or a series of emails with only me to tell my side. In fact, I started doing that a couple chapters in.

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The one thing in this book that really hits home was the emotional abuse of Rank’s father. While he doesn’t state outright that he’s being abused, it’s incredibly prevalent from what I’ve seen so far, and it’s sometimes even maddening. His father — also named Gordon Rankin — is simply referred to as ‘Gord’ instead of ‘dad’ or ‘my father’, and Rank states in one of his emails to Adam that “No Adam, he doesn’t hit. Gord is not a hitter of ladies, he is at heart a courtly little bugger, as I’ve already said. But he sneers. Croft had the smirk, Gord had the sneer, every bit as infuriating to the observer. He berates. He insults.” (Coady 48) But soon after the incident was over, he would bring home ice cream cones from his shop as reconciliation.

The trouble with Gord’s character is that it’s very easy to pin him down as simply an awful person and nothing else; as Adam did with Rank. Through all his awful, loud-mouthed ways, short temperament and soccer-mom tendencies, it’s very hard not to feel bad for him when he seems so happy to talk to a son that clearly (and rightfully) despises him. Gord is not a good dad or husband. He yells at his family, takes out his anger on them, pushes his (often misguided) ideology onto his son and encourages bad behaviour. But to repeat, it’s very hard not to feel a pang of sympathy when he so clearly just wants to connect and relate to Rank, but continually messes it up.

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However, I’m not his lawyer. His actions really line up with the cycle of abuse. Particular scenes were especially hard for me to read because of how incredibly real they seemed. The “… tactic from long ago and far away. Gord switches tracks — shifts with stomach-turning swiftness from wrath to bewilderment. Who, me? Loveable old Dad, screaming, making threats? You’re mistaken, sir.” (Coady 97)

See, I’ve met people who do this. They intentionally rile you up or start fights, but the minute they realize that they’re losing or that they look bad, they immediately switch tracks and play the victim while you’re still mind-numbingly angry or upset. It’s a horrible process and an awful thing to do. The worst part is if/when people don’t believe you about how bad the person is, like when one of Rank’s girlfriends stated that “[Gord]’s just a frail, old man!” while he was desperately trying to get her on his side about him. I swear I could hear my heart hit my stomach.

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Thanks, Tennant, let’s move on.

Now, this book does a fantastic job of jumping from interval to interval through time without making it seem jaunty or awkward. In his emails, Rank very frequently goes off on long, distracted tangents about other stories loosely related to the one he’s telling that help to paint a better picture of his life.

In fact, that’s something I frequently do.

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Due to him frequently getting off-topic and spilling random tidbits about other events in his life, I have to frequently try and guess what the heck is going on and when it even took place. Things like:

– What the heck happened after Rank’s trial for nearly killing Mick Croft? Was he sent to Juvie? Did he have to do community service?

– What in god’s name did he do in college that led him to run from the cops? I swear to god, did he actually kill someone?

I’m a little more worried about the latter, to be honest. Rank describes incidents that sound like PTSD flashbacks or triggers. Incidents where he was absolutely sure that he could hear a boy’s head hit the ice and split open, just like Mick Croft’s did when he nearly killed him despite the fact that the boy had his helmet on the whole time and was unhurt. He also talks about he found the exact quote of what Croft last said to him in a library book and proceeded to have an emotional breakdown. I feel like he would be a lot more traumatized if he actually killed someone, so I’m guessing that he’s going to either commit a crime or just injure someone/himself.

It’s really sad to read about his flashbacks and his guilt. I hope he’s okay.

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Yeah, I’m claiming a forty-year-old man as my son. In my defense, the character we get to know is him as a teenager and a young adult.

Anyway, I totally look forward to reading the rest of this wonderful book. This is Katie, signing off.

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(Additional information, sources or short blurb, will be posted below)

The Ethics of Remixing

In his four-part video series, Kirby Ferguson brings up an interesting topic. Could everything fundamentally ‘creative’ that we know simply be a remix of something else? A copy-and-paste scrapbook of things that have already been done?

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I agree, Lorelai, but I need to talk about this.

Ferguson’s first installment in his series runs onto the topic of music, and how existing baselines, lyrics, chords, or sometimes even sections of certain songs are sampled in others. While this has been seen in specific examples such as Melanie Martinez’s ‘Pity Party’ taking a sample from Leslie Gore’s ‘It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To’ or Halsey’s ‘Hold Me Down’ sampling the instrumental bass line from Son Lux’s ‘Easy’, the example used in the video happened to be the many, many times that Led Zepplin took lyrics, chords, or lyrics from other music and didn’t bother to cite the original creators for songwriting.

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Yeah, me too. Nobody (especially a rock fan) ever likes to hear that a band or artist they enjoy has taken something from another medium. The only issue with this is that we have to accept that creativity derives from experience and from being able to copy and examine things first before we can begin to create in that medium.

The specific examples used in Led Zepplin’s case are one in way too many to name, and I think a lot of people would like to slit the throat of anyone who would dare suggest that the chords from Stairway to Heaven were not an original work of art. Ferguson goes on to explain that while Led Zepplin is certainly not the first blues-y band to sample from other songs, they are one of the only ones who do it without citing those who originally wrote it.

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I’m in English student. Not citing your sources is a crime that could probably get you burned at the stake or stoned if you’re not careful enough. It’s taken quite seriously here, but sadly that doesn’t carry over to the musical world. I don’t believe that they ‘ripped off’ a song, but I do believe that they could do a little better when giving credit to those that they take the lyrics/chords from.

So without further ado: Katie’s Personal Guide to Remixing Without Ripping Off.

  1. You may sample an existing baseline or instrumental to a song as long as you credit the original creator. Taking the bassline or instrumental of a song is incredibly common in the music world and shouldn’t be rioted over. However, this does not mean that you can pass it off as your own.
  2. You may sample a lyric or two from a verse from another song but can’t take the whole verse. However, you should be fine by taking a chorus so long as you do something to change or transform it while giving the original artist credit.
  3. You cannot sample an entire verse. Don’t bother trying to get away with it. Someone will find out. It seems less like a remix and more like a rip-off if you take a large chunk of a lesser known part of a song.
  4. You can perform covers of existing songs, but don’t bother trying to pass the entire thing off as your own.
  5. The final rule. Can you guess what it is?

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Come on Leo, you know this.

CITE. YOUR. SOURCES.

The one sure-fire to get away with remixing a song without being called a rip-off artist is to make sure you tell people where these wonderful lyrics/chords/tunes came from in the first place.

This is Katie, signing off.