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The irritating thing about this whole damned mess with the girls' shower is that the closest Elly actually seems to come to inflicting sanctions on Mike is blowing up in his face when he makes the mistake of assuming that he can talk to her like she's a peer or some damned thing. This is because the last time he gave in to his throbbing biological urges towards age-inappropriate voyeurism, his punishment was to be allowed to come and go as he pleased but be told that he was grounded all the same. If a punishment is inconsistent and doesn't have teeth, nothing can be learned.

This is why it's sort of a good thing that Mike does have a girlfriend to try to actually impress. He's never for long without female companionship and he always behaves better when he's in a relationship with a girl than he ever was when the only woman in his life was toothless old Elly and her non-effectual non-punishments. When one takes this into consideration and one looks ahead to her filling the head of a mind still desperate for proof that she actually loves him with gibberish about family politics and how generosity has a price because she has an instinctive dread of Mike figuring out that he actually likes the Sobinskis more than he does her, we can start to maybe see what all this garbage about scheming twelve-year old gold-diggers comes from. I should think that it comes from the mind of a panicky asshole who lives in fear of her son realizing that most of his life has been spent trying to please an incompetent numbskull.
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What Mike also doesn't quite realize is that pretty much the only reason other children hung out with him in the first place is that either their mothers were friends with Elly or, in Gordon's case, anticipated Anthony by wishing that the Pattersons were his parents. Gordon is pals with John and Elly now, Brian went off to be a crazy Westerner marrying a Japanese national and Lawrence is part of Lizzie's social circle and Mike has no idea why this might be.

The reason, of course, is that he doesn't seem to notice that these other people have more to offer the people they're pals with now. The Delicate Genius impresses me as not bringing all that much to the table that isn't irritating the crap out of people who think you can do a damned sight better than him as a buddy....which is why his marriage will last until Death do Deanna and Mira apart. Once the fatter, more successful at manipulating people Elly dies and Dee can no longer scandalize her by enabling his idiocy, so will Mike's marriage.
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The irritating thing about having to deal with Mike smiling like a jerk because he was on his own in spreading that rumor about where the camp got its meat is realizing that he's deliberately setting himself apart from what he sees as a group of boring, ordinary people having fun at his expense and without his approval or permission. This belief that he's somehow entitled to more, that there's supposed to be one rule for him (namely, he gets to do what he wants without censure or hindrance) and one for everyone else that is something of a turn-off.

What this tells me is that when Lawrence and Brian dare him to look in that hole in the shower hut, they're doing so knowing that the head camper and his staff are aware of the problem and watching out for anyone doing something stupid. Mike might be aware that people see him as something to be exploited but he's not aware that his being a massive jerk with an unwarranted sense of superiority is what makes him a target.
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I think that it's safe to agree that Michael is a very dull child who led a very boring childhood punctuated by acts of teeth-grinding stupidity. It would be rather inappropriate to say the least to call this unremarkable and somewhat pliable drone anything like a rebel but he thinks that he is. From what I can see, there are two reasons that he arrogates to himself a status he never possessed in the first instance.

The first reason, as you might have guessed, is that the fragile flowers that surround him are too feeble to cope with a surly, gullible imbecile who's full of himself and who radiates contempt for everyone not privileged enough to be him. This need of his parents to behave as if he's anything special and to give up trying to control him constitutes an active danger to the boy.

Said danger is feeding into an already bloated ego that likes the idea of being a monster because he cannot tolerate the idea that he is what he actually is: The Friend Nobody Likes. He likes thinking that he's this big threat because the alternative is seeing what the 'boring, ordinary' people see: a pompous jerk who needs cutting down.
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Of course, the same sort of noise and blame evasion that would have to take place if Elly were to, say, chaperone Mike for a pee-wee hockey tournament would also take place if she were, as [livejournal.com profile] howtheduck and [livejournal.com profile] aprilp_katje proposed, to be forced to accompany Mike and Lizzie to Kamp Kawkawa. In fact, I should think that we'd be getting a little more noise out of her.

First off, I don't think that she'd react all that well to the means by which she'd be forced away from the Pattermanse in the first place. After all, she only decided on sending them away the day before Lawrence and the Enjos left because she was at her wits' end. She would not be thrilled to be told that she cannot, despite her hope otherwise, simply dump her problem in someone else's lap without paying a penalty so being told point blank by the man I call Bob that he's sick of people like her sending their discipline problems his way without having the decency to warn him in advance about someone who's going to make life miserable for the other campers so that's why people who do what she did kind of have to come along for the ride so she doesn't get sued for his damages. What's the fun of packing her kids off somewhere to forget about them if that isn't an option.

As if this didn't anger her enough, having That Man come along every day breathing down her neck about the stupid stunts Mike gets into and how they're somehow her fault for raising him wrong is not something she'd react well to. She very much needs to not have people act like her mother and tell her that she can't duck a problem or wish it away by blaming television or Gordon Mayes so being told that his being a pliable goof is her doing is going to go as well as his suddenly developing an interest in some girl she makes into a threat because she was a friendless, tongue-tied wallflower throwing herself at someone she didn't stand a chance with at his age.
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 The interesting thing about this arc is that the realization that Elly had failed in her responsibility to warn the people at Kamp Kawkawa what a disruptive jackass Mike was going to be made [livejournal.com profile] howtheduck and [livejournal.com profile] aprilp_katje wonder what would happen if, by some chance, Elly had been forced to accompany Michael on a long-distance trip somewhere. The example that comes readiest to my mind involves that minor-league hockey team of his playing a tournament in, oh, say, Thunder Bay for a week or so. The boys would need chaperones and more or less by accident, Elly would be 'volunteered' for the job.

It should probably go without saying that she'd be fairly reluctant to break out of her happy little routine for her child. As I've said before, the deluded nitwit seems to be transfixed by the idea that for some reason that makes little sense to anyone who isn't an always-angry mother who wants to stab her children to death with a potato peeler for having needs of their own, the children want to kick her in the teeth and laugh at her when they tell her that she's their slave and she'd better stop thinking that she's a person too. This transmutes being a supportive parent into a sacrifice the children are out of line to expect.

It should also be fairly obvious that while Elly loves to point the finger of blame at everything within her field of vision, she's rather averse to admitting that she herself is to blame for things that go wrong. If Lynn were to write the arc, we could have a straw unfair critical person who hates the idea of Elly expressing herself make an unfair and cruel connection between what she does and does NOT do and how Michael behaves in the loutish fashion he does that we would be told to ignore. If Team Fungus People were to write it, the other volunteer wouldn't look like a half-orc, her name wouldn't be something comically grotesque and the Reason You Suck speech would end up sticking.   
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As we know, the reason Mike was off by himself just before he met Martha is because he didn't want to be reminded that no one really liked him. The self-pitying goof was unhappy because they saw him for what he was: a dismally dull young boy whose overweening need for attention and approval made him make a fool of himself as well as an abrasive clod who didn't want to understand that they too had feelings. The reason that I mention this is that we've no clear reason why it was that Martha was running around screaming that no one in camp seemed to like her either. This is because we know from later experience that she has saboteur friends Janice and Megan running around throwing a monkey wrench into things with their overbearing need to hold her to a promise to tell them everything about her social life.

The only reason that seems to make much sense is that Janice and Megan don't seem to be within an hour's drive of Kamp Kawkawa thereby depriving the girl of people to talk to. Knowing that Janice seems to thrive on intimidating Martha into compliance with her own stupid desires by threatening her with social exclusion, it seems to me that perhaps Martha was under orders to not make friends without Janice's approval or permission and since the girl likes to be jerked around by damaging idiots, she complied with that insane demand, met no one, approached no one and was left on the outside looking in.  
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The irritating thing about having to watch Michael fret and fume about how miserable a time he had at Kamp Kawkawa and how no one likes him at all much there either and how everyone but him seems to get into trouble is that he's viewing life through the Michael filter and thus cannot see what's really happening around him. As it will be towards the end of next month when he's baffled and horrified by the fact that Elly isn't going to smilingly take verbal abuse like she would on television, the deluded donkey with the thinning hair doesn't especially want to face the fact that behaving as if life were television is why his own life is worse than it should be.

First off, no one is going to be applaud his cleverness for starting a rumor that they serve road kill for lunch. While he smiles along evilly at the prospect of people being revolted by the possibility, what the moron doesn't see is that they're going to be miffed by being tricked so some jerk can have fun at their expense and not want anything to do with someone as crass, selfish and unconcerned with their opinion as he is.

Second, he doesn't especially want to have to admit that the people in charge of the camp aren't cartoon characters with their heads shoved up their asses. My initial reaction to his giddy discovery that a hole had been chewed in the wall of the girls' shower was to assume that if he knew about it, it was pretty much guaranteed that his calling his bunkmates' attention to that followed the camp director's discovery of same by at least three hours. If Lynn hadn't wanted so very much to give Elly a reason to want to throttle Michael because she can't see the kids who dare him to do stupid things, she would have had him moan "Aw, MAN!!!!" because it had been boarded over by the time they got there.

Third, of course, is having to remember that Mike doesn't learn things from his mistakes because doing so would mean admitting that television and movies lie to him about what life is like. If he were to admit that, he'd have to look back on his life in regret and despair because of all the wreckage left behind by his bad case of cathode ray poisoning.

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The irritating thing about the bargain-bin copy of PorkyBalls that we're about to see is not that once again, Mike blanks out on two depressingly obvious facts. We know that he's never going to understand or admit that most of the reason that he gets dropped right in it is that he's too stupid to get out of the way of punishment and we also know that he shares the family's tendency to not want to understand that people aren't going to warm up to a dour son of a bitch who thinks that he's better than the people who steer clear of his festering neuroses. The irritating thing is that in her quest to more or less send the message that once again, Elly is punishing her children for being young and requiring the services of parents, Lynn can't see two much better reasons for having Elly make that stupid palms-out pleading gesture when someone asks her why the kids are only finding out about being enrolled in camp the evening before they go and squealing about how they have to do what she says so why consult them?

The first such motive is that we have to deal with the fact that the kitchen and dining area are being expanded and it would be better for everyone concerned if minors were not in the middle of a construction zone. We could have the bog-standard Mike moaning "Aw, MAN!!!" because he doesn't get to shoot himself in the foot with a nail gun, the obligatory defensive gibberish from Elly about how she doesn't have to run ideas by her kids because she's their mother and they don't get to choose where they go and we could proceed from there.

The second rather obvious reason to get the kids out of town for a couple of weeks is to get Mike away from That Boy From THAT Neighbourhood. While she would go on to do this because she confuses a sternly policed slip of a girl whose parents distrust Michael with a calculating gold digger who wants to destroy the Patterson family because she never got over being a wall-flower who couldn't see that her growling about how horrible life was is why her dance card was empty, Elly didn't seem to see fit to punish Gordon for trying to make that spider go pop. We could have Mike incoherently defend his friend from his idiot mother while packing for camp and go on from their. We don't because Lynn has one constant motivation for putting space between John and Elly and their children: Trash Bag Johnny and Flapandhonk are a pair of fragile flowers who simply can't deal with their dull little offsprings and send them away to be brainwashed into thinking that they're dangerous rebels.
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Something odd happened when we were looking at the "Let's melt our brains in a big box" arc. That odd thing is that Mike didn't actually seem to understand that the girl that, for some reason or another, seems to hang around Brian's house like she lived there or some junk had a name. This led to the revelation that he can only seem to remember the names of two people in Liz's social circle: Candace because she gave Liz a hard time and Anthony because he's a dude. Otherwise, they seem to be nameless and irrelevant because, well, of a mental block he's still got: an inability to see little girls as being, well, PEOPLE.

This is furthered by his breezy declaration that he and Brian had to stop Lizzie and the girls from taking over his Fortress Of Dying Of Heat Stroke Because Moving It Into The Shade Also Means That She Wins. Rather than see a person, he looks at Dawn and sees the leading edge of a semi-human horde come to girl up frying their cerebral cortices in a refrigerator box and thus ruining it for everyone. Giving her a name would make her a person and that would mean that Lizzie was one too and that would be awful.
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To plod grimly on from last time, having to remember that most of the reason Mike was attracted to Martha is that they can be sour jerks together is remembering why he was loaded with self-pity in the first place: his angry realization that unlike the other sheep, he seemed to be having a miserable time at the stooopid camp his evil, tyrannical parents had packed him off to because they hate him and fun and life and happiness and, for some reason, love that stoopid, useless GIRL who invaded his home and all the other gloomy crap the dumbass spouts non-stop. No one, you see, seemed to really like him as a person but instead just used him as a source of cheap entertainment. This is because of something that still seems to have eluded the dimwit and been a detriment to his enjoying life.

This thing that The Delicate Genius can never quite seem to realize is that for him to be liked, other people would have to actually want to like him. The first time people took serious notice of him was, I should think, his standing around squealing about unfairness when the camp counselor read him the riot act for lousing up meal time by telling people that they served roadkill. They were enjoying supper up until that jerk Patterson made a nasty little prick of himself for his own horrible amusement. We follow that up with his being squawking annoyance yowling non-stop about the unfairness and cruelty of activities they were trying to enjoy as well as his groaning about how terrible it is that unlike in the movies, people aren't going to praise him for his cleverness and daring in poking his stupid head in the girls' shower any more than they're going to line up and take the fall because he's too stupid to get out of trouble's way. Simply put, no one really notices or cares if he's not around because he makes camp a more oppressive place to live. This fits a general pattern of his being too fucking dumb to notice what he's doing to piss people around him off only to turn around and wonder why they say he's got a bad attitude.

This would be bad enough on its own but since he's an extension of the personality of a woman with the same irritating blind spot, it's sadly obvious that none of the cast realize why they're on the outside looking in socially. It's just that the female characters have help being dimwitted isolates that makes them look more social than the male.
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While I intend to not post headers for strips that feature Mike being a miserable failure as a boyfriend to Martha, I feel that it's only right to ask what it is that pointed her at yet another of the many damaging human beings she's encountered in her life. As we know, Mike had absented himself from a campfire so he could wallow in self-pity about having to be punished for taking yet another stupid dare because the theatrical nitwit never seems to have cottoned on to the fact that if he didn't run around with a bad attitude all the time, people might like him as a person rather than as a source of entertainment.

The reason that I mention this is that this is pretty much what Martha herself was doing. Just as Dawn and Liz struck up a lasting friendship because they were sick of taking crap from loutish older brothers, Martha and Mike started off being repulsed by given the booooring, ordinary old-fashioned names of people they never met and had to be uncool and unfun anyway because they were ooooold. After agreeing that their idiot parents owed it to them to have named them something good like, I dunno, Dweezil and Moon Unit, they compared notes about other things they hated. Too bad for them that they had to have positive things in common. He's too stupid to know what Operation Jealousy looks like and she's too passive to resist the horrible people she keeps running into.
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The irritating thing about having Mike and Lizzie's banishment from the house because Elly is too stupid, emotionally distant and gutless to play referee is having to remember that Lizzie is more excited about going to camp than he is. While she's thrilled by the prospect of going to a camp without having to deal with John and Elly's bullshit about respect and entitlement and so on and so forth, Mike goes into it with the same bad attitude about doing what they tell him to he always has. The problem is that neither of his dimwit parents have any idea why that is or especially want to.

This is because that mutton-headed dolt Elly would have to do something she does not especially care to do: admit that what she says to her children matters. Elly wants to live in a world where her mistakes don't mean anything because children are resilient. She thinks that she should have been able to smack him around because he bothered her while she was being an inept and angry seamstress and he wouldn't grow up to resent her. She thinks that she should have stood around screaming to his face about what a bad child he is and it would just wash off his back. She thinks that she should have played favourites as shamelessly as she did and he'd not feel like the house was a prison and he'd been convicted of not being Lizzie. His resentment fed into her anger which led to his being more resentful and so on and so forth. Since she's not very bright, she's probably telling him to be a smarter parent than she could ever care to be and since he's desperate for any sign that she cared at all, he's dumb enough to listen.
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Of course, assuming that Elly simply doesn't like the idea that people who aren't her or people she trusts to make her children adopt her values as a reason for her war against peer pressure requires her to actually understand the problem at all. For all her smugness and refusal to understand how futile, stupid and destructive it is to try to hollow out her thirteen year old daughter Holly and fill her with jaded forty year old, Val Stone at least has the sense to resent the fact that the same sort of skinny little bitches she hated as a kid are still plying their unholy trade. Elly might not see what's actually happening because she has a hard time understanding what's going on right in front of her.

This is where the strip where she archly declared that a math question had the answer "Don't throw things off of overpasses" comes in handy. She is, after all, the author avatar of a woman who's so otherworldly, she cannot and will not see the world of difference between Gordon cackling with malicious delight at the prospect of flash-frying a spider and a dumb animal who can't know right from wrong gobbling it up so it's very possible that she doesn't understand who's to blame for the problem with the shirt. She sure doesn't seem to understand that her children fear and resent her so anything's possible.
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As we know, we're about, oh, five years or so from Elly wailing idiotically about how screwed up and wrong Liz is to want to fit in with the crowd and thus reject all the love in her poor mother's great big heart or what the Hell ever stupid excuse ferblondzhet idiot Elly loves to use for making a point of not seeing why it matters to Liz that she not stand out like a dog's prick. We're also about a month away from Elly planning to totally murder Mike's ass for being sweet-talked into sticking his head in the hole in the wall of the girl's shower. In both cases, Elly makes a point of not understanding what peer pressure is and why children fall for it.

While there is the element of Elly's angry refusal to admit that she can't possibly expect to be the only person her children listen to in this world to be considered, we can't really blame it all on her being a sullen wing-nut who thinks that being just one voice that her children can choose to listen to is part of a plot to totally silence and discredit her because of her stupid love of the idea of being a misunderstood and unappreciated martyr. We must also remember that much like her evolutionary replacement Valerie Stone (and the idiot husband she has), she's convinced herself that the problems she had as a teenager disappeared from teen-aged life forever the second she turned twenty. Since she no longer has to deal with the dangerous body language brigade, her children are telling her an absurd lie about how that's still a problem. Since she isn't stopped in the hallway to be ranked out by the popular girls, peer pressure no longer exists. This means that no, John shouldn't have bought Liz new clothes just to fit in and feel better and yes, Mike should get his teeth kicked in because he wanted fit in and get the guys to like him.
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As we all know, people who've lived long enough to be fairly old tend to arrogate to themselves the right to put civility aside. This is why we had Chinnuts interrupt bickering about The Big Fat Sham Wedding to harrumph that since he was in the war and since refugees in war zones had terrible diseases, nothing the people did actually mattered in order to make them feel bad about keeping the old goat up past nine. The reason that I mention this is that Lynn is in her seventies and promises to let her alleged persecutors REALLY have it.

Given that she's a catty annoyance braying about how her evil, cruel, evil lying cruel mother who was cruel and evil and a liar fooled everyone into thinking that she loved her daughter when Lynn alone knows the truth because she's a petty narcissist who needs someone who isn't her to blame for her innate feelings of inadequacy, terrible work ethic, inability to get along with others and blundering headlong into one self-induced crisis to the next NOW, one shudders to imagine the horrible screeching directed at people who had the bad luck to get on the bad side of a raw nerve that mugs for the camera like a child. We seem to have gotten a foretaste of this with her arch simpering about how people who were repulsed by her arc of deliberate cruelty couldn't possibly really care about anything else so we're in for even worse appeals to worse problems, her no longer wanting to walk back from the Heintjes interview of nearly criminal slanderous libel and her insistence that yes, being a cameraman did make Aaron a horror freak who wanted the whole world to see his lovely tableau of a suicide victim twisting in the wind.
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One of the more annoying things that I've encountered over the years is an act of intellectual cowardice from manga artist Rumiko Takahashi as regards the broader implications of her martial arts sociopathic humor festival Ranma Nibunnoichi. When one of the more disturbing problems her "Let's throw bullshit against the wall and see what sticks" approach to tormenting the male lead was raised, she archly declared that she didn't bother thinking things through to their logical conclusion and neither should anyone else. That bothers me because if you put something out there, you're forced to consider the problem and cowering behind Belisario's Maxim is just plain gutless.

This is what I have against this malicious infant Lynn's cackling about how the spider was fated to die so quit worrying and laugh as the dog eats it: Gordon goes unpunished. If Lynn weren't a nasty little kid delighting in being a revolting twit, Elly wouldn't be five seconds away from smacking Mike around and, yeah, Gord would be persona non grata because no one needs to be around a loon who, if this sort of stuff goes on, would graduate to killing people and staging their remains in sick parodies of Mentos ads. (You know....the FRESHMAKER!!!) The problem is that Lynn wanted to kill the spider because it's funny to piss people off.
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The odd thing is that when one parses through what Lynn has said about the strip over the last nine years since the Settlepocalypse is that she really does consider the Patterson's story to be essentially over because after years of setbacks and dead ends, Elly got what she really wanted out of life. You would have thought we could have ended it when Mike took over the mortgage to the Pattermanse but that would be wrong. Keeping the house in the family was nice and being able to live vicariously through him felt good but that wasn't what she wanted. Getting April out from underfoot so she could finally have that empty nest she wanted was sort of a good thing but that wasn't Job One either. No, what Elly really wanted was to prove to herself that marrying John wasn't the biggest fucking mistake she'd made in her life and the way that was supposed to happen was to have Liz marry Anthony when they both got out of uni. She'd had to wait a longish while because obstructions to her happiness falsely and criminally kept insisting that they had rights that needed to be taken into consideration but she got what she needed so it made no sense for Lynn to keep telling a story that was over. This would allow Lynn to take up a new career and her loyal fans would gladly follow her along.

The problem, as [livejournal.com profile] aprilp_katje pointed out, is that the people who loved 'Ellie's lovely column' aren't exactly what you'd call Lynn Johnston fans. What they are is Elly Patterson fans. They wanted and still want to see the characters validating their existences by continuing on as they are. People like Therese intimidate them so they need to see her continual humiliation. Teenagers and young people scare the shit out of them because they represent a world that'll keep on spinning after they die so they need to see April get smacked down hard to make themselves feel better about the cruel reality of their own deaths. They're angry people who take out their discontent about having to raise children on children so they need to see Liz act out their need to drop-kick their teeming get off an overpass and laugh the Sticky-Out Tongued Laugh Of Malice at their brats' broken remains because they were mildly inconvenienced. If someone new were to come along and pick things up from the wedding reception and continue on with screaming at children, threatening April with bodily harm for daring to have emotional needs, talking shit about evil career women and the like, they'd gladly follow this new person and praise her lovely column.
dreadedcandiru2: (Royally Peeved Candiru)
At some point during the arc that leads up to the kids being packed off to summer camp, Brian suggests behaving as if he and Mike had a brain in their heads and simply letting the girls hang out in the box because it's too blasted hot to just stew in the stupid thing being a dog in a manger. Mike would rather not give up something he claimed as his because he would rather not have something happen to him. Said thing is having to be enslaved by that cruel, anti-kid thing Mom and Dad want to torture him with and make him admit that he should never laugh or smile or want to be loved called "common sense."

You see, to an outside observer, Mike is an irrational twit who brings trouble on himself by blaming Lizzie for his mother's idiotic refusal to see that she actually doesn't treat both of them equally and never intended to matters. Said disinterested but sympathetic stranger would see that if Mike would simply let his stupid, self-destructive and irrational grudge go, he'd be a lot happier. The problem is that Mike is a melodramatic half-wit with a persecution complex, a yearning for unearned praise, a belief that he's a lot more important and cool and smart than he really is and an inability to really understand what's going on around him and what people are thinking. He really does think that Liz decided to be born on purpose out of sheer malice and that he's expected to admit that he really is an unwanted burden no one should love and that he really shouldn't have expected to want all the good things that everyone but him is allowed to have. Since people don't actually learn much from history (which explains why there's so much of it), we can expect to slouch uneasily towards an indeterminate future in which he makes showier gestures of post-mortem filial piety just to shove her out of the way because she deserves to be mistreated for wanting to ruin him.
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Since Lynn's muse is quite obviously network television, it seems fairly obvious what Gordon was originally supposed to be: the troublemaker friend who guided poor, dumb innocent Mike into mischief. From dragging him to poorly-researched arcades to convincing him to risk arrest and-or just plain getting shot down in the streets by the police for defying society by wearing a punk rocker costume to blowing up spiders in a microwave, he's Lynn's vision of the Professional Bad Influence. The reason that I mention this is that why he's this says a lot about how Lynn is. To explain why I say this, I'd like to talk about who he's supposed to be: Eddie Haskell from Leave It To Beaver.

As we know, Eddie buttered up any adult in sight shamelessly before dropping Wally and The Beaver right into a mess. What we fail to realize is that while their other saboteur friends were far more destructive than he was, Ward and June hated him like fire while letting the others off with a "get our sons into a mess free" card because only Standards And Practices kept them from saying "Our asses are for sitting, not kissing." It's his transparent phoniness that made him The Bad Friend because the show runners hated his being a blatant fraud. The funny thing about that is that the show-runners also took special care to remind us that Ward and June weren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Ward could be too hasty and June was clearly too damned worried about what the neighbours might think about the daffier trends their kids adopted to really be effective sometimes. These were presented as flaws that hampered their efficiency in dealing with a younger son who never seemed to bother learning from history.

This distinguishes them from Elly and her claims of perfection. Since Elly is now The Best Mother Ever trying to get the Worst Kids Ever into shape, it stands to reason that she be hampered in her quest by an example of Uncaring Parenting. Gord's parents don't love him enough to scream at him all the time about trivialities, deny him reasonable demands out of spite and also to save face, fret endlessly about things she doesn't understand or like, be a brick wall of judgmental malice when he needs encouragement or sympathy and to dismiss his emotional concerns because nothing that happens when a child matters. Yes, since their parenting lacks the perfect absence of actual parenting, he's clearly a demon spawn come to tempt Elly's son away from fealty to someone who works tirelessly against his best interests.

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