On Fundamentalism and Pop Culture
A friend of mine from high school (I was actually in high school and he in college; he’s maybe 5 years older than I?) messaged me and asked if there was anything I’d written on the internet about ‘leaving fundamentalism.’ I sent him some links, and I quickly realized all of them were related to shows and movies and bands and such he may not have heard of, and especially the show needed a little introduction, which I wrote out.
But that’s how I process reality. Narratives have always helped inform how I look at the world around me, since I was a kid reading every book I could get my hands on, to a kid sneaking around to watch movies, to a kid finally getting her hands on actual good pop culture (there’s a time and a place to enjoy whatever it is you enjoy and heaven knows I do, and there’s a time and a place to understand truly great works of art), to a kid finding friends who were also submersed in pop culture and showed her what she’d been missing, from certain subtexts to HBO.
People tend to want things boiled down, even though things are often incredibly complex. My leaving fundamentalism had multiple causes, including (theologically, morally, personally) terrible responses to death, clear patriarchal system, untenable stances on social and theological and scientific issues, etc. But if you really want to boil it down, I would say it was my exposure to a myriad of narratives which both led to and helped me breaking out of the system.
Narratives which introduced me to other thought. Pop culture which helped me solidly construct and verbalize ideas which had been floating disjointedly around my head. Stories which helped me empathize with other points of view. Fiction which posed questions and portrayed gray areas; fundamentalism is vehemently against open-endedness and potential for changing one’s position based on presentation of evidence, and definitely against ‘gray areas.’
And thus, fundamentalism is against almost all narratives save, I dunno, Pilgrim’s Progress, full of the most obvious metaphors in existence and doubt castigated as sin. Fundamentalism even actively rejects biblical stories as narratives, and uses them mostly as object lessons and theology. because I think they understand and fear the power and potential of such things.
And stories are powerful, and they were certainly my saving grace.
I’m sitting here listening to parents gush (it’s weird to gush about this, but that is in fact the correct verb for their vocal intonations) “you know we have BOYS because [insert story about stitches last week and climbing on the counter to get a cookie and ER visit history etc].”
Honies, pack the gendered crap and let me tell you about my childhood.—
Several concussions, including one where I got hit in the head with a bat playing backyard baseball. Multiple torn ligaments and tendons. Fractured my collarbone when I was wrestling with my best friend (who was a boy, if that matters) and we slammed against a metal bedframe. Knocked a baby tooth out. Jumped off a couple 2nd story roofs onto makeshift ‘landing pads,’ came out mostly unscathed. Hammered my thumbnail off making a raft. Broke my glasses several times horsing around. Thought it was a great idea to use cardboard to ‘surf’ down a long, smooth cement slide (spoiler: not a good idea). Sliced my shin open on a riverbed rock, and since I’m terrified of needles washed it out and held it together while liberally applying superglue, then sat there for 30 minutes until it stopped bleeding. Built a fort out of wood we found around town, missed pulling out a bent nail, and when I stood up I tore a hole in my scalp.
Still have those scars, and probably two dozen others. (Oh yeah, wrote about some of my scars here.) Was in urgent care or the ER plenty as a kid, and every year from age 14-21.
I’m a girl, and I was every much as banged up as your boys. Spewing this crap means if you ever have girls, or even get within earshot of young girls, they’re going to think they can’t or shouldn’t do those things. More spoilers, EVERYONE should do those things if they wish. Everyone is equally capable of being a reckless young kid, or a cautious young kid. Maybe your kid will, maybe they won’t, but don’t artificially hold them back with your weird pride and prejudices. Personality is what matters, not what gender you think your kid ‘is’ or ‘should be.’
So STFU and just try to be aware if your kid has a bike and a couple pieces of wood, they will at some point make a ramp, and you should be on standby with the Neosporin and not so much with the ‘because you’re a [gendered noun]’ speech.
Lost Girl: Season 4 Redux
I was going to write a more thorough breakdown, but then I was invited to talk to Drinks at the Dal in their season overview podcast(which you can watch live this Sunday and/or listen to later). We’re going to talk about structure and pacing and motifs and color and character arcs and all those sorts of things, so rather than redundantly repeat myself, I’ll just give you a quick intro and get…