Bohemian Apology

EDITED: This is technically the first part of a companion article which came later for you to enjoy after imbibing this hot mess of anguish, The Ballad Of Flynn Rider is the remix edition, hot and fresh out the kitchen.

So I’ve been trying to write something to accomplish my only New Years Resolution by creating an article less harrowing than this cheerful little number I cranked out before the perfect punchline turned up six months late. 2013 was a year so horrible that the numbers you saw on your desk calendar actively tried to warn you how horrendous it was going to be, yet nobody noticed, and now I can’t make a joke poking fun at the Shia LaBeouf comic book plagiarism scandal where I decry Syrian insurgents cracking puns equally as unpardonable as their atrocities, which may have been plagiarised from well known mangaka Go Nagai’s Violence Jack. Which was adapted into the anime OVAs I watched before seeing that footage, giving me a merciful black comedy angle to make that ghastly subject matter funny. It’s not like I go out of my way to find this horrible crap happening in the world, I seem to be the polar opposite of Bret Easton Ellis where instead of going out of my way to insert violent, sexual and controversial subject matter into his writing to boost sales, I’m an upcoming novelist who’s a magnet for surreal and horrifying things that always seem to find me without having to dig very deep. I’m a childhood friend of horror, I’m not an errand boy, so I sent horror a nice Christmas card as usual.

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My unironic affection for Cannibal Holocaust comes from the fact that Robert Kerman brings humanity to a film crying out for it, and that his performance reminded me of why those Society and Culture classes I loved in high school mattered. No matter how bleak and ghastly this film gets, every time Kerman’s on screen it’s gonna be okay. It makes me so sad that Robert Kerman disowned Cannibal Holocaust because his performance moved me so much, in ways that even explaining to him why it does would make him weep that something wonderful came out of this blood sacrifice to the heathen gods of grindhouse, by an Italian madman who killed real animals.

But speaking of apologies (see what I did there?) let’s start the year fresh with my apology to Bohemia as a concept which isn’t plagiarised from other sources like Shia LeBeouf might do. If you noticed that the title of this thing’s a riff on a Queen song, you’re welcome. So let’s talk about me and Bohemia,  like they haven’t seen the two complete novel drafts in a projected trilogy I’ve been nursing for years. And I say that less to deliberately flaunt my laurels as much as establish why Bohemia used to make me angry versus misplaced anger which isn’t so much Bohemia’s fault as it is New York’s and America’s. Bohemia and I have a complicated, weird relationship which isn’t as violent and abusive as Sid And Nancy, it’s closer to the novel Welcome To The NHK than any movie attempting to show me what my ideal life should be like. People have said that Welcome To The NHK is a cynical novel, but I’m not sure it’s quite as superficial and glamourising of very serious and hard hitting topics as Bret Easton Ellis’s novels might be, because it seems too sincere to be sarcastic, and the Japanese love them some sincerity even when they are being critical of their own culture. Tatsuhiko Takimoto’s sincere in his critiques of the grimmer aspects of the anime otaku scene, celebrating the humanity of the hikikomori, not their illness.

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I could tell you right away my favourite novel ever’s Welcome To The NHK by Tatsuhiko Takimoto, yet if you asked me what my favourite movie ever is, I’m reduced to an existential panic attack, no longer knowing who I am.

Part of why I keep bringing up Welcome To The NHK is because I want to get across that I’m not this hater whose opinions are flung about like some negative gatling gun where I’m intent on tearing down every smile in the world and turning it upside down. Welcome To The NHK was so influential to my novel writing career because it was one of the first books that allowed me to see how you could talk about genuinely troubling subject matter and still make it human rather than coming off as mean spirited shock value like something from one of Eminem’s early albums. Like I said, I’m a childhood friend of horror, but it’s this frog boiling in a pot style of horror which creeps up on you like Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett, things seem pretty okay at first. But this guy Jimmy Buffett’s singing about is slowly wasting away in Margaritaville much like Satou Tatsuhiro from Welcome To The NHK‘s doing as a hikikomori. The aesthetic evoked by Jimmy Buffett in Margaritaville is closer to Oingo Boingo’s cheerful 80s pop tunes about disturbing subject matter that creates a tone dissonance I really dig, and that tone dissonance is often implemented into my own writing style rather than deliberate nihilism. That article I wrote before where I mentioned my doing my Higher School Certificate and doing a Studies Of Religion course didn’t mention the time I was dragged by my teacher to the Sydney Jewish Museum, where I listened to two separate Holocaust survivors who only made it out of the Shoah alive because they weren’t sent to Auschwitz. This shit finds me. Unlike Justin Bieber joking that Anne Frank would be one of his fangirls however, this harrowing museum experience made me take my novel research very seriously, since I wasn’t just trying to not offend the living anymore. Once I wrote this poorly researched superhero based short story where Undead Oscar Wilde ran for mayor and used gay marriage as an election promise. Those familiar with Oscar Wilde’s MO can easily spot what went wrong here, but I suffered his fabulous wrath in my night terrors that same evening I committed this travesty. He was sitting with his grand Victorian library around him, in the fanciest chair you’d ever seen, and he just sat there laughing, saying nothing, just laughing at my pretentious ass for getting everything he was about so wrong. When it comes down to it, being haunted by the angry ghosts of the dead people your work misrepresents is the only literary criticism that really matters. It was the most terrifying dream I’ve ever experienced, I took heed, striving to appease the victims of history’s mistakes.

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I’ll take Slayer’s word for it that Auschwitz really was the meaning of pain, since both of these Holocaust survivors stated that the lesser known camps where they toiled instead weren’t a picnic by any stretch either.

I’m of the view that a little bit of grit makes a man interesting, and too much grit makes a beast out of him. My childhood was pleasant enough, it’s just that it happened adjacent to messed up stuff that could have happened to me if I wasn’t just a house away. Once me and my brother investigated outside after hearing gunshots next door, and the next morning we found these packages of white powder piled up like bricks against the wall near where the police tape was sealed off. Turns out there was a huge drug bust while we slept.

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I always tell the truth… even when I lie…

I cannot watch Scarface without imagining that’s how the shootout across the road from my house when I was a kid so sheltered I didn’t know it was cocaine in the bricks against the wall as evidence went down. And the stuff that did happen to me is still… uncomfortable, but listening to two different Shoah survivors while battling depression, and your parents calling their autistic white boy son whiny and emo makes you confused about whose struggles mattered more. Due to my not being in a wheelchair, my autistic spectrum disorder is not immediately apparent, hence a lot of people see my pasty white flesh and assume I have no problems in life. Tumblr assumes this a lot, I’ve noticed. I don’t want this turning me into a mean, angry person like my depression’s doing to me now.

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Oingo Boingo is like Bret Easton Ellis’s better ideas turned into music, again I could tell you straight away that Only A Lad‘s my favourite album ever, never get tired of it, but ask me my favourite movie and I’ll start panicking.

Bohemia I realise, made me angry in the same way my brother complaining about whatever girlfriend he was dating, while I struggled to even find a friend, let alone romance, made me angry. It made me angry because I saw people who didn’t seem to have a lot of problems, at least not the ones I was dealing with, finding something I was never able to find which brought such joy and happiness into their lives. It made me angry because a lot of people who didn’t appreciate how hard it is for me to have what they did wouldn’t acknowledge that what they’ve got isn’t so bad. And when I point this out to them, they get angry at me for not seeing why they like living the way they do. If you’ve ever seen Ralph Bakshi’s Heavy Traffic, the movie about a weirdo cartoonist that isn’t Freddy Got Fingered or Monkeybone,  there’s the scene where Michael’s watching a movie to escape his troubles. Problem is he’s watching this romantic comedy where the couple are abusive assholes and he’s left angry and confused, as well as sad and lonely to boot.

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I avoided romantic comedies like the plague when I was a teenager, because apparently I’m not the masochist I’m afraid I was, and don’t go out of my way to watch movies that make me hate myself.

Recent events have called into question whether I’m little more than an internet hater, which pisses me off because I think I’m more of a detractor than a hater, since the detractor is like the hater’s sophisticated older brother whose commentary isn’t some shaggy dog story that goes nowhere and wastes your time, and isn’t misspelled to damnation like the barely literate typings of a hater. I also don’t like the label of hater because it allows people to dismiss the criticism of a detractor with this reductive stereotyping of the kind of person who would be negative towards a given subject or artwork. My lawyer mother had to sit me down and explain to me that by law, we’re expected to treat politicians as human beings, so I made a less profanity laden, less homicidal political statement here:

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Even if you never click the hyperlinks this article’s peppered with, this single image meme really says it all.

Haters don’t like being left behind? I’m not sure anybody likes being left behind, and in my Ernest Hemingway-ish experience of internet flame wars, half of why grown ass adults end up dragged into pointless internet arguments is because they’re burnt out shells of men with nowhere else to go, like the digital equivalent of the drifter Stallone played in Rambo: First Blood. The legitimate internet trolls are out to hurt people, but diamonds in the rough do exist. It’s just sometimes the rough’s hard to separate from the diamond.

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Riff-raff, street rat… I don’t buy that… if only they’d look closer… True story, after I saw this movie as a three year old, I belted out this song atop a playground looking over at a Dracula castle theme restaurant. Aww.

Now Aladdin‘s a good movie, but I’ve always felt weird about his faking his entire identity. Fortunately Disney did me a solid and gave me Tangled, the movie where its Prince character was designed by committee via celebrity pin-ups like The Six Million Dollar Hunk, but despite my former self being angry at people too pretty to complain about life’s complex problems, I was kinda taken aback at how true Eugene Fitzherbert’s situation rang with my own. I like Eugene’s sense of accountability compared to Aladdin being a habitual liar. Especially since I’ve seen his situation happen to myself, and many blokes I knew, they thought they had to be some Casanova ladies’ man to have any human worth. Dude ended up reading a book about a smouldering hero he wanted to be growing up, but things didn’t work out so good. Rapunzel’s his new dream and the only one he can be himself around, plus his checkered past of heroic shenanigans got him involved with some very bad people he’d never associate with otherwise. Poor guy, I’ve been there. Not that Rapunzel isn’t relatable to me just because she’s a girl character. Good God, this movie taps into Millennial fears about being trapped in smothering environments which hinder their ability to thrive through circumstances beyond their control in some pretty creepy ways given this was made for kids, and not beleaguered students facing college loans. Journalists treat us with the same contempt Mother Gothel has for Punzy when she preys on her obvious anxiety disorder, teasing her that she can’t survive in the real world.

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SHE IS HIDING IN HER OWN HAIR BECAUSE SHE’S AFRAID OF YOU, GOTHEL! YOU’RE HISTORY’S GREATEST MONSTER!

Which is becoming more and more of a concern for people my age, especially with people that fit easier into the Bohemian/hipster category than myself. I do feel somewhat disconnected from some of the items on that second list, since my problem isn’t that my achievements aren’t worth lauding, it’s just that while my parents are aware of the fact that I am sitting on two manuscripts in a trilogy I’m trying to get published, because it does not immediately manifest itself as money that can help them achieve a straight-forward retirement where I no longer have to live with them, they do not care as much as I’d hope about my creative endeavours. Tangled sticks out in my mind as something that has resonance with my life, since I’m worried about how at least three of my favourite Disney movies involve vulnerable people who are trapped in toxic abusive environments and robbed of their potential to thrive might say something about me psychologically. It doesn’t help that this movie contains songs like When Will My Life Begin? and I See The Light which now I’m an adult able to see obvious parallels with my own life in pop music recognise themes of anxiety over approaching adulthood, much like how I feel trapped within the confines of academic institutions for now as well as my parents’ home all at the same time. I See The Light is the most potent song I’ve heard in recent memory about somebody recovering from a fog of clinical depression, metaphorical or not. The way Gothel masks her hurtful remarks with ‘just teasing dear!’ reminds me of my own experiences too.

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I’m sorry Mama, I never meant to hurt you… I never meant to make you cry, but tonight, I’m cleaning out my closet…

Bohemia really gets a bad rap because of the hipster, another reductive stereotype like the hater, and often used by haters to decry bohemia itself. I’ve been guilty of hipster haterade in the past, but I’m noticing the more diverse camps of Bohemia that distinguish the mean spirited Vice Magazine reading motherfuckers who laugh as the world burns, compared to the nice and sweet tea drinking hipsters who knit and try to make the world a better place by actually turning up to protest rallies. Those protest rallies regarding recent events by the way are ones I’ve been to myself, not just to help Australia out in its time of need but because I needed an excuse to haul my shut in behind out of the house. I can’t even get angry at BuzzFeed for existing, because young people who might only be there for its ecosystem of nostalgic materials get exposed to hard hitting political satire articles that attack from the sides like Velociraptors when they were only expecting boy band GIFs. This agitprop method’s similar to the one used to motivate teens in Clueless and it’s effective at reaching out to people, because unlike other agitprop that tries to change your mind about unpleasant subjects with shaming the people you’re approaching for allegedly being so self centred, you’re reeling them in using friendly and familiar concepts.

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Yeah, I used Clueless as a positive example of contemporary agitprop. What? I wrote an essay claiming Part Of Your World from The Little Mermaid rallied the cause of teen girls like Battleship Potemkin united the Bolsheviks for my University Visual Arts related Animation Theory course too, making outrageous statements that I’m forced to back up with academic evidence is what they force you to do there.

It’s the apathy and jaded non-involvement I hate about hipsters, which seems odd since I’m such a big fan of MTV’s Daria. It’s not Daria’s shade throwing that I’m talking about when I say I related to Daria though, but her having a breadwinning lawyer mother who worries about you not being involved in any activities and threatening to sign you up for things you have no aptitude for, because she’s noticed you haven’t left the house for a while and you don’t see your few friends as often as she’d hope so you’ll seem normal. If you’re wondering why this article took so long to get out there, it’s also because I’ve been bending over backwards to make sure I don’t diss my own Momma just to get recognition. Unlike other mothers, lawyer mothers can pursue interesting legal action against you.

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Lawyer mothers: They meddle because they love. Even if you don’t want them to.

And Daria has this fanbase which is diverse enough to include both nerds and indie scenesters who are snarky outsiders in one way or another, so I wanna make this clear that I don’t hate Daria’s apathy because it’s conveyed well as something she clings to so she can survive high school, and the character development people miss is how those walls of non-involvement with other humans are broken down with love rather than violent tearing down her boundaries she strongly believes in. The point I wanna get across is that Daria is a show about a jaded and cynical young woman who slowly begins to understand we do fun things not because we’re selling out, but because they’re fun and make us happy. I need to make that clear because it’s a recurring theme of this here blog piece.

There’s this sketch from Portlandia which is a show that lampoons hipsters, but I’m using it in my argument to suggest that while I identify more with the nerd camp, my terribleness at video games and alienation from the medium of comic books because of my living in a country and culture without comics industries the same as what America and Japan or even Britain have, the things that would mark me as a nerd make me feel conflicted given cultural tropes expected of nerds. I say nerd because my Australian accent will not allow me to say geek. I write books and read even more of those, I enjoy animation, I’m really big on watching weird movies I fish out of the JB-Hi Fi bargain bin. Which is culturally distinct from its American cousin, the Best Buy bargain bin, because the Australian cultural cringe treats all cinema regardless of artistic merit or quality like garbage, and tends to denigrate the arts in general but we’ll get to that later on when it matters. On the other hand, is a whole heap of uncomfortable stereotyping which reduces my identity as a person to traits that are not the same for everybody who has my high functioning autism which is inescapable for me to deal with as part of my daily life, yet is erased by media’s inability to recognise how it might affect my life in the way it does because I’m not in a wheelchair and seem completely normal on first glance. Also I’m male, and white. Thus because I use the internet I get lumped into the same category as fedora wearing, MRA, Reddit using, Brony libertarian atheists despite the fact that I am none of those things. I’m a Taoist, if Ursula K. Le Guin can be one so can I. While I’m at it, a lot of the ill will I have towards the hipster/geek/nerd/indie subcultural clusterfuck is because I’ve never felt I fit properly into any of these categories or belonged anywhere, hence the title of my previous article Like Ralph Bakshi In Disneyland, which makes more sense if you’ve seen Heavy Traffic and some of Bakshi’s other movies like Coonskin or Wizards, since Ralph Bakshi was this outsider adult animator who broke away from Disney’s style.

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And it might not have been Kim Basinger’s alterations to Cool World that killed Ralph Bakshi’s career for a while until Kickstarter was a thing, it breaks my heart to notice that Manga Entertainment’s imported ultraviolent edgy adult anime probably didn’t help matters for this perverted cartoonist with bad timing, who was for years the West’s only game in town for animated T&A. But that is a tale that shall also be told. Not today.

So I’m a little at war with both what I’m trying to make as my literary contributions to the world and the change I want to see in it, as well as things I cling to in a desperate attempt to remember what my life was like back when I was happy and not fending off depression while smashing spiders with the butt-end of a Super Soaker as the result of me being born on a continent filled with so many things that anyone, let alone somebody with autism or an anxiety disorder would look at and declare it as this hateful continent where nothing good grows, sentimentality is treated as a hanging offence even though the death penalty is outlawed, and I’m as surprised as you that I survived this long on a prisoner island that appears to be plotting new and elaborate ways to kill me. The day I realised the possibility that Heavy Traffic might not be my favourite movie ever anymore, and I might be experiencing something called personal growth, or a change in opinion, I had this panic attack where I was watching the same movie multiple times in a row, trying to figure out if that was my favourite. And this led me down the sane conclusion that I need to purchase DVDs of much happier movies than the ones I had. Because when your mental rolodex of ‘favourite movies’ is limited to Heavy Traffic, Perfect Blue, Ex Drummer and Cannibal fucking Holocaust, maybe you might put together in your head that these are important films that shaped the person you are, but maybe, just maybe, would it kill you to add a few Disney DVDs to your shelf? Because that won’t kill you, but this endless parade of misery from the news you’re following on Twitter, and your having made time to see Audition and Ichi The Killer because they’re good movies, without ever having bothered seeing When Harry Met Sally, just might do you in regardless. I was told by various sources that romantic comedies are bad for you, yet I went to such an extreme in the opposite direction, that while my DVD shelf had some bitchin’ cult movies stocked on it, I was in a situation where the only movie I had which I could show to a normal human being who didn’t know me very well was How Stella Got Her Groove Back. And when I showed them that, I lost my movie night picking privileges, leaving me with a mountain of cinematic gold on home video yet nobody was willing to watch it with me.

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I know some people hate the ending of the movie Heathers, but I, an autistic man, am compelled to remind folks that the disabled kind of need somebody to watch movies with in their lives.

Oh, speaking of my disability and watching movies growing up, I never saw The Lion King in theatres when I was a child because my autistic audio-sensitivity made me decline an offer to go see it, so now whenever critics like Lindsay Ellis bring up how awesome it was to see in the cinema on a big screen I feel these pangs of guilt and shame over my missing out on something that became such a cornerstone of everyone else’s 1990s childhood, because of what I was born with like there’s something inherently wrong with me. Those pangs of guilt haunted me so bad in the twenty years since The Lion King that I appreciate it as an adult, but feel weird and confused when everyone else says Mufasa’s death scarred them for life while I’m left remembering how even when I was a kid with the VHS tape at home the roars of the lions would scare the hell out of me and I just associate that movie with bad memories and anxiety problems. And I was so worried that I’d missed out on something truly magical for the rest of my life, after that I never skipped a Disney movie in the 1990s, going to see Mulan like a boss instead of seeing Small Soldiers again with the other boys to keep up appearances, and when I asked my twin brother about Mulan he has the same pangs of guilt about his precious masculinity making him miss that one as I do about my medical condition robbing me of a chance to see The Lion King when it was new. I love watching Lindsay Ellis’s videos, like her Reality Bites episode and her takedown of The Christmas Shoes which is more even handed towards religion than you’d expect from a woman whose videos frequently feature broad generalisations like when she hires a sassy gay friend only to discover he’s not a reductive stereotype for the sake of comedy during her Disney Needs More Gay episode, where Lindsay Ellis and Rantasmo discuss coded gay characters in Disney media. I’m not openly trash talking Lindsay Ellis to get attention oddly enough, unlike that other time I deliberately trash talked John Safran on my blog into talking about Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha manga with me and Father Bob on his radio show Sunday Night Safran (also can we address how scary it is that I somehow got airplay on Triple J while actual Australian indie bands who make music struggle to reach an audience?) unfortunately disability in media seems to be a blind spot for her as evidenced by Lindsay going into hiding from people booing her over dissing Wreck-It Ralph (a backlash similar to the one she explored about the Matlida fanbase which made me empathise with her dealing with the terrifying world of fan opinions during a livestream where she was called out by an unhinged The Little Mermaid zealot, which made my mental breakdown of a novel pitch to her in the same livestream seem less like I was Eminem’s Stan and more like, well, Wreck-It Ralph in comparison). Yes, a long time ago Lindsay Ellis made an autistic temper tantrum joke in her Beauty And The Beast: The Enchanted Christmas video. I’m not going to act like she’s a terrible person because she’s clearly not, as evidenced by her polite and reasonable response to my novel pitch I sought help with slash mental breakdown. I don’t feel entitled to much more than the hope she gave me at a particularly dark time in my life, I hope she knows that while she might not feel like she and her internet video reviewer buddies matter, they might one day have helped me matter a great deal in ways they don’t understand or comprehend yet. Even though I disagree with some of Lindsay’s opinions, her entourage of other critics like Kyle Kallgren who states my problems with New York City’s bubble universe better than I can, and Elisa Hansen whose macabre aesthetic of outlandish and weird would probably appreciate the subject matter of the novel trilogy I pitched to Lindsay in an insomniac haze much better than Lindsay herself would, makes great Vampire Reviews too. Elisa because she’s a writer as well takes a different approach to analysing media than Lindsay the jaded film school graduate burnt out by Hollywood much like my twin brother is by his film school directorial ambitions, and my approach is quite different to both given that I’m trying to make novels instead of just critiquing media from the perspective of somebody with neither the ambition or agency to create the kind of media you want to see in the world, I don’t like elements of John Green type YA novels and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower because they present a sheltered Americanised perspective of how life is, whereas female written YA like Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen by Dyan Sheldon and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell present an alternative perspective on young college age people problems which are more relatable. Because oddly enough, the girly expectations you have of things makes the sincere serious drama that turns up when it needs to hit you so much harder, especially Fangirl which combines the judgemental glares of society has upon women writing yaoi slashfiction with real social anxiety problems and current issues where college women don’t feel safe going out by themselves unaccompanied. Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen actually made me care about New York City bubble society problems in ways that Lena Dunham’s Girls hasn’t been able to manage yet, because it shows a sheltered young woman used to getting everything she wants suddenly not getting everything for a stretch of time for once. I CARED ABOUT HER, and I’m not angry that they exist because I’m writing something myself that deals with college age Australian problems in ways that somebody like Dyan Sheldon or Rainbow Rowell wouldn’t be able to, because of their different perspectives and cultures from my own.

Lindsay Ellis Book Pitch Tweets web version

Someday, my ramblings about how Australian politicians are saggy old flaccid members of Parliament will make sense in context, Lindsay. Sooner than expected if you click the included hyperlinks.

It’s not like I don’t empathise with Lindsay Ellis being a woman on the internet, unlike me, a man who only suffered cyberstalking once in his life when I ran into this creep who kicked me around for four years and seemed like The Joker with no backstory, rhyme or reason before I discovered he was far closer to some kind of Evil Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady who used self-improvement as a pre-tense for his harassment, ladies face a much more potent disdain just for existing than disabled yet otherwise straight white males like myself do. Yet part of the reason why I wrote this Once Upon A Time In The West for the age of message boards meets J-Horror internet curse book trilogy was to make sense of this horrible tragedy that had befallen me in a time when people with Asperger’s Syndrome were trolled with macro images of ASSBURGERS kids being cured of their ‘made up disease’ with electroshock therapy, with beautifully Photoshopped images created through hours wasted on hurting the disabled on message boards they turned to when they had no other options in their lacklustre social lives. And until now nobody was policing that hate and moderating properly. It was actually Lindsay Ellis’s review of this movie The Christmas Shoes where I started noticing the role assigned to me by society as potential role model to other autistic people like what Susan Boyle’s become now is kinda fucked up. Half the reason I keep pleading with you to not see me as some kinda Bret Easton Ellis figure who’s a different minority writer as a gay man known for controversial books that piss people off is because I’m too sincere to be in his same category of ‘transgressive literature’ but not light and fluffy enough to be featured on Oprah. Even BuzzFeed would allow me the dignity of being presented as the weird hard to fit into a box autistic writer I actually am, compared to Oprah’s Oscar baiting mainstream America-fest. I’m a bit disturbed about the supernaturally optimistic landscape of social media where only the upbeat and saccharine stories about overcoming adversity actually get heard. I beg of my audience: “PLEASE DON’T TURN MY UNSETTLING BIOGRAPHY INTO SOME SANCTIMONIOUS TV MOVIE WHERE I’M PRESENTED AS THIS COMPLETE ANGEL AND THE GUY WHO CYBERSTALKED ME AS THE ANTICHRIST!”. The torment I suffered at the hands of Evil Henry Higgins online was so horrible, that it emboldened my infamous Kanye West-like confidence against real life bullies at my Australian high school who found me intimidating and terrifying, they had nothing to work with, and unbeknownst to them, for the first time in history their jobs were outsourced to an American. I cannot stress this enough, why I had that now infamous Kanye West-confidence was due to me being hassled by offline bullies of inferior quality to the ones who were grinding my gears, although rampant autism may have been a factor involved in why the Kanye-like stage presence was there. As jarring as Lindsay Ellis making an autistic temper tantrum joke is, I’ve been so shellshocked by far worse soul-destroying harassment that even the word ‘retarded’ on its own doesn’t get the rise out of me that it should have when the bullies I was dealing with offline used it. I just laughed it off most days because apart from ‘retarded’ and a few shoves, those guys were outclassed by the Mozart of making people miserable to their Salieri in Amadeus terms. A lot of the people who see my twin brother at high school reunions remember how truly, truly outrageous I was back in the day, and part of why I imagine they assumed everything was wacky hijinks and shenanigans is because I’ve never really told them what was going on with me at the time I was still doing my High School Certificate. It’ll probably break their hearts once they put together that why I got involved with some bad people in the first place was because doing my final assessments over three years meant I was abandoned and forgotten about by my peers annually, and thus to this day I find it even harder to make lasting connections with others because I’m afraid they’ll forget about me as soon as they graduate like what’s happened before. And I’m certain they don’t know about the guy who was cyberstalking me, in between those wacky shenanigans that happened when they saw me during school hours, and if they did they’d probably be a lot more concerned about me than just remembering me as our Cathedral School’s equivalent to The Bell Ringer Of Notre Dame. No really, our school had a gigantic cathedral attached to it, making the already tragic parallels of my life to Disney’s Hunchback even more apt than they already were. Let’s call my cyberstalker Evil Henry Higgins, because it’s both descriptive of the kinda manipulative douchebag he was, and allows me to pull a Carly Simon in anonymising him. Revenge is a dish best served Carly Simon, especially when a lineup of douchebags think that song was about you for decades. It also makes sense because Henry Higgins used human beings as a hobby. My entire motivation of why I don’t wanna become Eminem’s Stan is because this shit happened to me, if I can help it I’d like to not be seen as the same kinda creepy internet cyberstalker making my life hell when I was vulnerable and isolated. This above all else is why I defend Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, Tangled and The Hunchback Of Notre Dame as movies. They’re films that helped me come to terms with it.

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This is the second worst thing I’ve ever seen happen to a little girl on screen. I don’t like seeing little girls pleading and crying. It reminds me of other stuff I don’t wanna have to talk about right now.

Wreck-It Ralph was probably the closest thing to my equivalent to The Lion King, as much as it might irk Lindsay, but given what I’ve stated about how I missed out on seeing that in cinemas, what I’m about to say will make more sense than the ramblings of a madman who’ll defend any flavour of the month new release if it makes him cry. Which this movie did, a lot, for reasons that might make the people reading this cry buckets of salty face-water too. Lindsay said this movie has no stakes, that the motivations of the characters was weak, and that the screenplay was weak. I present above Exhibit A of why I think she’s wrong about all of these things, and why a lot of people might be angry about her dissing Wreck-It Ralph. There’s this scene that’s only on screen for about ten seconds, an imagined sequence where a disabled girl who’s utterly helpless and doomed is sucked into this digital void and deleted, pleading and crying for help that never comes. I’m getting misty eyed just describing that to you, and considering the times I’ve mentioned my high functioning autism in this post I’m hoping you notice why this weaponised A-bomb of man-tears would affect me in the way it does, perhaps almost as much as the other really upsetting scene where Vanellope cries because Ralph destroys the kart that gave her agency to escape her horrible life of marginalisation and being bullied by the other characters in her own game which people actually remember. I’m almost certain that this scene above was so traumatising, that the internet collectively pretended it never happened just to cope with the existential PTSD it instilled in audiences who watched this symphony of sympathy. I’m not gonna front and say that when King Triton destroys Ariel’s stuff and hence her property and sense of identity she had to hide from her father in The Little Mermaid I didn’t feel bad for Ariel too, but compared to Vanellope’s so-traumatising-I’m-surprised-Riz-Ortolani-who-scored-Cannibal-Holocaust-wasn’t-hired-for-this situation where her sense of identity and agency is riding on this kart that will let her race and win back the world of people who she cares about which King Candy stole from her… Ariel seems like she’s got first world fish problems. Disney bothered to animate this extremely upsetting imagery, because they needed you to remember why you’re crying when Ralph smashes her kart. It’s not just the kart he’s destroying, it’s her chance to escape the dismal oblivion that imagined sequence is there to remind you of what Ralph’s meant to be saving her from if Sugar Rush ever goes out of order. It’s not just that she’s banging on the walls and crying that tear me up inside about that imagined sequence, it’s that hell awaits, and it’s a place that sucks out the joy from the universe, as rainbows die and candy turns to ash. Goddamn it, I’m crying now just from looking at that picture while I’m trying to write this. Vanellope’s this disabled little girl who’s gone through similar hard knock life experiences to me, disabled people hate feeling trapped and helpless. Even when I was a child I couldn’t hate Jar-Jar like the rest of society demanded that I do because I was projecting my emotions of isolation and being rejected by my own species onto this racist space alien from Episode I, feeling like the comic relief in people’s lives that everyone hates. This movie hurts me sometimes but I’m glad it does, because it reminds me that I still have a soul. Back when I was dealing with Evil Henry Higgins, he made fun of me for having audio-sensitivity issues that caused me to bail on my parents who were watching Flags Of Our Fathers on their big TV with a surround sound system, so I ended up buying DVDs of a lot of messed up movies, Cannibal Holocaust included, to prove that fucker wrong. Culminating in me not leaving that theatre via pulling a Siskel and Ebert, which would have let assholes on the internet win and I’d regret never seeing the end of that movie I legitimately wanted to see for reasons other than internet vengeance. I ended up enduring the Sydney premiere screening of Hobo With A Shotgun which had the loudest, rowdiest audience I’d ever seen, bar none.

Chocolate DVD cover

Much like the movie Chocolate I’ll be reviewing soon, sometimes badass cold blooded revenge wins out over autistic panic attacks.

Part of what made Evil Henry Higgins so horrible was that like other creepy reprehensible people from Disney movies such as Mother Gothel from Tangled and Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, he was real big on that ‘the world is cruel, the world is wicked…’ thing where he pretended he was toughening you up for an adult life where you’d be kicked around by guys like him when in reality guys like him were bullying the vulnerable into thinking crying over sad things like a normal person would was what made you weak and worthless as a human being. Somehow this wasn’t already insidious and hateful enough, so when he saw me saying I wanted to hug Asian ladies in a really G-rated way on the forum he inhabited, Evil Henry Higgins disparaged his own ethnicity by claiming I was ‘raping Orientals’ to make me uncomfortable, while stealing Facebook photos of my depressive acne ridden mug and inferring that Aspies like me were psychotic killers waiting to happen, too bad our gun laws are so restrictive that it really is Nerf or Nothin’. While my ideological stance against cheap irresponsible hipster irony which lets bad people off the hook is a reason Scott Pilgrim Versus The World rubbed me the wrong way when it came out, I was also dealing with Evil Henry Higgins tormenting me then.

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This movie would’ve been as harmless to my mental health as something like Rent if not for Scott Pilgrim‘s ‘This white guy creeping on Asian schoolgirls is you!‘ premise.

Couple this with a ton of personal baggage I was trying to atone for, so I ended up spending my sleepless nights writing novels and doing University assignments in between going Zero To Hero to the needy on the other side of the sea at 3am, because I’m apparently the only person in Australia left who thinks the ANZUS Treaty shouldn’t just be an excuse to drag us into Yank wars where we don’t belong and that it should actually mean something, where Yank and Aussie help each other in timezones when nobody else can or will.

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If that little kid likes me… how bad could I be?

There’s this phrase used by Australian critic Margaret Pomerantz that should be adopted by film critics arguing online immediately, “I think we saw a different film.” – because it encapsulates why people’s opinions about a movie may vary to the point where the film detractors of the movie you liked is describing to you in why they hated it is unrecognisable compared to the one you saw, or at least think you did. It would end wars, this phrase. Clearly we did see a different film, Lindsay Ellis, and that’s okay. Because your blind spots don’t make you a bad person as much as somebody not experienced in dealing with disability representation in media. Lady issues are your strong suit, as well as social commentary. Lindsay’s right about The Little Mermaid in some respects as far as my own opinion goes, but I’m baffled as how she could overlook the coded disability aspect of Wreck-It Ralph with the same starry eyed Yank idealisation of Australia that makes her imagine our country as a land of nice beaches and health care. And you’re not the first Yank critic or celebrity whose well meaning and nice worldview unexposed to how horrible the reality of being Australian really is despite our health care you’re envying even as politicians threaten to take it away from us. Aussie creatives suffer under a cultural cringe and a lack of vision from Spartan government agencies with application processes resembling ths agoge montage from 300 more than an actual arts program. FilmCritHulk’s commentary on the War On Twee prompted me to write the beginnings of this article ages ago…

YOUR AMERICAN DREAM STINKS FILKCRITHULK WEBVERSION

...but this kinda unintentional cultural imperialism which I’m pretty sure Lorde wrote Royals about despite being Kiwi, is something I see a lot from Yanks online who seem bewildered and confused as to why we don’t have Netflix like they do. Again, Australia’s a country where the death penalty is outlawed, yet sentimentality’s a hanging offence, I don’t know how I reached adulthood on this deathtrap of a continent, let alone how Baz Lurhmann’s managed to exist this long in a nation that actively wants to murder any hint of whimsy in the crib before it gets a chance to grow into something wholesome. Baz’s movie Australia is about as representative as nationalistic artwork of our struggles as The 47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves is representative of Japan’s national identity. Ours is the country that once considered the Sydney Opera House a bad idea, and yet I once performed music inside that architectural icon, given the opportunity so few get to sing there. I saw it again the first time I watched Pacific Rim, while treasuring that moment. This nation is so hostile to the human imagination, that it pummels me like a battered housewife, screaming ‘I can’t leave him, I LOVE HIM’ – and if you’ve been paying attention I fall prey to abusive and toxic environments on a fairly regular basis, I dread this place because I look at America where art and culture are given a chance to thrive, while my own people laugh at you for being stupid even as they ignore their own ignorance. You’re a sheltered nation, America, but not completely stupid. You seem to know a threat when you see one, Australia doesn’t. So many things you take for granted are absent from Australia’s lumbering dinosaur excuse for infrastructure, our politicians are more interested in finding excuses to waste money for cruelty’s sake just so they can avoid the complicated process of creating a better world than the one they were elected to run as a government, and actually making people’s lives a little less miserable. This, this is why in the War On Twee I seem like a cynical internet hater and enemy combatant, when really I’m drowning in bullshit and the lifeguard is off duty. My inability to withstand Lena Dunham’s Girls has nothing to do with her femininity or nudity, but because she is living in a New York City bubble far from the broken down living hell of a city called Sydney I inhabit, where nothing works compared to HBO’s magical world where Netflix and actually good public transport are a reality. Hobo With A Shotgun was a film that shellshocked me, yet I cannot deny it convinced me that giving my spare change to the homeless was a good idea, and getting involved with activist causes was a far better impact on humanity than I expected from that movie. I’m left confused and baffled by a lot of the so called controversies Americans complain about on BuzzFeed and Twitter, Miley Cyrus twerking on Robin Thicke was awful but compared to things I’ve dealt with in the past, let alone this year, it was hardly the Car Alarm Of Mental Health that I’m used to. And yet, Bohemia, that cheerful twee land of hipster frivolity where art and culture actually gets appreciated, I’m so sorry that my cultural and personal baggage made me hate you for so long. I’ve wanted to be as happy as you are in your world of cupcakes and moustache accessories and indie music collections since forever. I’ve said on Twitter before that the reason why my generation is so nostalgic for carefree eras of popular culture past might be because we inhabit the most despondent, dreary and depressive era in recent memory, previous pop culture was a lot more optimistic and happy than the mean spirited era of what passes for comedy, let alone drama and Goddamn Superman movies now. It’s an awful time to be young. All the corporate whores and politicians will cry out, ‘Save us!’. And like Rorshach, we whisper… no. We want society to break so people actually notice it needs fixing.

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Although when I screw up and end up offending nice ladies I’m trying to help the honey glow in my cheeks turns to regret.

Wreck-It Ralph might contain some accidental brilliant commentary on society’s functions and the roles assigned to us that we didn’t choose for ourselves. Wreck-It Ralph potentially destroys the entire arcade when he rampages off into Sugar Rush in search of a better life yet his unintentional destruction ends up bringing attention to the plight of a disabled little girl who’s bullied by friends in a former life before King Candy brainwashed them into tormenting her. I’ve suspected that the superhero movie genre has devolved into the Big Brawny Man Pummels The Crap Out Of Society’s Problems Until They Go Away narrative for some time, but I can’t deny that sometimes we need the Big Brawny Man to break things so they can be rebuilt because sometimes we never built it right to begin with. After so many anti-war songs and sanctimonious TED Talks about world peace, I’m here to bring the nugget of gold that may just help us understand a little more about the saddest thing about violence. It doesn’t just hurt more than it helps, it betrays this lack of imagination in tackling problems like global warming, income inequality, racism, sexism and man’s inhumanity to man… it screams to the world “WE ARE OUT OF IDEAS, PUNCH THESE SCARY PROBLEMS IN THE FACE SO THEY GO AWAY!” – yet tragedy upon tragedies, these are problems the Big Brawny Man cannot solve because they have no face to be punched. And we need to accept that Big Brawny Man Who Pummels Things may be a last resort, not just because of how much damage he does, but because if he is the only app we have installed on the iPhone of life, our toolbox to deal with a complex, nuanced world is severely diminished. It’s not like Fix-It Felix doesn’t learn his magic hammer cannot solve the PTSD of the woman who puts the honey glow in his cheeks either, she needs conversation and understanding, and sometimes a magic hammer you inherited from your father isn’t what you need to make her life a little better. Wreck-It Ralph and Fix-It Felix learn to coexist in the same world, in which both their purposes are needed.

Some of you are reading this and getting flashbacks to the Mop Speech from Weird Al Yankovic’s cinematic opus, UHF. I doubt my own words hold a candle to Stanley talking about his beloved mop.

Which brings me back to my apology towards Bohemia, I’ve really been angry at Bohemia and by extension the same quirky twee indie hipsters by extension, because they enjoy a blissful twee happy existence divorced from my own perspective that I paid dearly for through terrible things that have happened to me over the course of my life. And also not so terrible things, like how a coincidence ended up fulfilling a lifelong dream of visiting the Pyramids of Giza on my birthday, I got to see Tutankhamen’s Tomb, ride a camel which drank Coke just like the ads from the 1990s, see the mummies in the Egyptian Museum like the remains of Rameses II, what family holiday is complete without paying homage to dead kings like you’re Conan The Barbarian, honestly? I got to see ALL of the Sphinx, the nose in the British Museum next to the Rosetta Stone as well as the rest of it back in Cairo, plus the Tower Of London and Harrods while I was in England visiting the uncle who owned a timeshare in Cyprus. Which is why I got to see the Birthplace of Aphrodite as well as eating suckling pig, alongside a decent lunch feast on the Turkish side later. Because we were Australian, they give us mad respect over Gallipoli. I’ve seen Las Vegas, slept in the Luxor Casino’s big fake pyramid you see in one of the shots of Showgirls that reminds me of that trip every time, as well as the Luxor Temple that casino was based on. The Grand Canyon, San Francisco, Utah, Arizona, Frankfurt Airport, Anaheim where my family got to skip the lines for rides all day, because we did the Disneyland Park Tour, Broken Hill which was the setting for the legendary Australian film Wake In Fright and Silverton Pub where The Road Warrior was filmed and I got to see and touch the last of the V8 Interceptors with my own eyes and hands… for an internet dwelling shut in, my travelogue rivals that of Rutger Hauer’s speech from Blade Runner. I used to carry around my novel manuscript on my Kindle to prove to hipsters at parties that I actually did write a 100,000 word manuscript, which sounds braggy until you realise the poignant and tragic reasons I felt I had to prove my identity to people wherever I roamed, because I’ve had to prove most of my adult life that the awesome shit that comprises my accomplishments actually happened, as well as the bad times and the grit and the keeping it so real that it held up to the scrutiny of repeatable scientific experiments. I distinctly remember posting this photograph on 4chan’s /lit/ board and they didn’t believe that I actually did meet Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman at separate book talks to get my copy of Good Omens signed by them both, because there was no timestamp on the photograph I took years later. Terry Pratchett was really sweet, signing everybody’s Discworld books before leaving. Neil Gaiman gave me insomnia advice straight from the Dream King’s mouth: “If you can’t sleep, do something productive.” – I’ve been following that advice ever since and it’s brought me as much trouble as it has brought me success. As all great advice tends to do in the hands of young upstarts trying to prove themselves.

NEIL GAIMAN AND TERRY PRATCHETT WEB VERSION

The internet’s pics or it didn’t happen mentality probably gave me an identity crisis more than you or I even realised until now. Jeez, 4chan. Just take my word for it.

And my hostile reaction to hipsters or dilettantes talking trash about the work of genuine, sincere artists who worked so hard and bled for their craft like I did is largely this reflex reaction to a lot of people over the years online who mistook me for both a hipster and a dilettante because they had no indication or understanding of the troubling backstory to why I’m so dedicated to my writing, namely that I don’t understand how to make sense of the world or create something otherwise, and my intense dedication to this craft is the result of years and years of trying to cope with extremely distressing circumstances where I felt utterly alone and that nobody was listening to what I had to say the first time I said it, so I ended up writing novels about the kind of life I led back in the day. So in an attempt to no longer decry Bohemia of the same phoniness I strived for years to exorcise myself of, I’m sorry for my projecting glaring, unaddressed psychological issues onto Bohemia that wasn’t any one hipster’s fault for hurting me like this. Let’s be friends.

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Judge Claude Frollo longed to purge the world of vice and sin… and he saw corruption everywhere, except within…

And I know this screenshot of the Hellfire sequence from Disney’s Hunchback is a potent metaphor to get my point across, but when I saw this as a kid in the cinema I was less scared by this as a child than as an adult, as a kid I didn’t know why an old man haunted by red cloaked representations of his fears would be anything but hilarious. Of course back then I didn’t know what rape was. I thought it had something to do with slavery for a long time, I was close. Until I saw Perfect Blue as an impressionable twelve year old on SBS it didn’t really occur to me why rape was so awful. If nothing else Perfect Blue‘s traumatising me as a child in search of late night anime on TV prevented me engaging in unwanted sexual contact with ladies, but that’s like saying Evil Henry Higgins’ advice was helpful, because his cruelty taught me life lessons I could’ve learned through much less psychologically damaging means elsewhere. I implied earlier Evil Henry Higgins was Asian, which is true from the sources I’ve got on my email proving his guilt. Thanks NSA and Google!

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You can lie to yourself and your fanboys, that your anonymity can’t fail… but you never can run from or hide what you’ve done from the EYES… THE VERY EYES OF GOOGLE MAIL…

And you’d probably think I was racist against Asian people because of what this guy did, which isn’t the case, since almost every other Asian person I’ve encountered online or off has been nothing but nice to me, especially (anecdotal evidence but still) since when I explained my life story to this Asian lady like a drunk yet strangely polite Forrest Gump, apparently Asian people growing up beside me saw how others regardless of race treated me. And they put together pretty quick that I wasn’t just hanging around with them to date pretty Asian ladies, but because both male and female Asians treated me with a degree of humanity that I wasn’t finding elsewhere. I actively don’t wanna be racist not just because I’m a leftie or because it’s wrong, but because as an isolated disabled man, I don’t wanna live in a world where other cultures disown me the same way Australia treats their refugees, leaving me saying “OH NO, NOW EVEN MORE PEOPLE THAT I WANNA BE BUDDIES WITH WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH ME!”. Ir’s not like I didn’t find Asian ladies attractive for both physical and personality reasons, but given what Evil Henry Higgins claimed about my motives, you can see how my need to not be seen as a reductive stereotype feeds into my striving to not reduce other people to reductive stereotypes.

A Country So Fat Their Fast Food Joints Are Also Museums (2005)

Speaking of reductive stereotypes, I’d make fun of this Burger King That Is Also A Navajo Cultural Centre And GI Joe Action Figure Museum, but only in America have I seen a culture which combines all three of these elements successfully, you’re true visionaries, you Yanks. You sell yourself short even worse than us Aussies do, but Good God, you took The Onion‘s wet dream and made it a functional reality! Mad props, America.

I’m not going out of my way to hate on everything that remotely challenges me, my world view or is something I disagree with yet love parts of. The reductive stereotype of hipsters as mean spirited snarky haters who don’t give sincere artists a chance falls apart once you meet real people, they might be hipsters, but you don’t care cause they’re fun to hang out with. TheeObscure’s a less cynical parody of hipsters, he’s playful and funny. The best kind of Bohemians never shut you out of their world, instead gently inviting you in.

5 thoughts on “Bohemian Apology

  1. […] Remember when I said before how I keep watching Lindsay Ellis and Todd In The Shadow’s videos …, even if they truly despise some artworks which moved my soul in ways I wish they understood? Well a big reason I keep watching these wacky internet people is because they make complex media analysis and social justice issues easier for some high functioning autistic bloke like me to comprehend, as well as avoiding perpetration of insensitivity. […]

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