dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As the school clothes-buying and Halloween costume arcs show us, Elly tends to fight a stupid battle with her children based on a stupid reason. The strip in which she regarded Lizzie's not wanting to wear the ugly orange coat as a sign that she was too defiant and selfish to be allowed to attend kindergarten gives us a hint as to what her mental defect is; given that she seems to have believed that wearing the coat that she picked out with all the love in her great big heart was a precondition of being grown up enough to attend something that's mandatory, it's not hard to come to the realization that Elly tends to give children false dilemmas because she's convinced herself that everything is a referendum on whether her kids love her. This ends up meaning that every time a child shows any hint of a difference of opinion, it must be the result of the child hating her and wanting her to suffer and so on and so forth.

This makes her a different kind of irritating jerk than John and his clone Anthony. What impresses me as being the best way to explain the both of them is by referring to the fact that Assthony is currently in Year Fifteen of an indefinite sulk because his father didn't simply give him a free car for breathing, Nostache is that entitled and blind. This explains why he told Françoise that Santa doesn't like little girls who don't kiss Lizardbreath's fat arse. He and John present children with false dilemmas because of their self-serving need to have absolute control of things. It doesn't matter to either douchenozzle that respect has to be earned, they've got the mighty organs and you've gotta do what they say, no matter how little you get out of it.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As you know, I've made something of a meal pointing out one of the stupider ideas that Elly has when dealing with her children. The stupid idea I happen to have in mind is when she comes to the stupid conclusion that when she plops one of the kids down someplace, the child will not move, act, speak or think. You'd have to be stupid to think that a child would sit inertly like a doll or something just because it would be convenient and you'd have to be even stupider to get angry with the kid for doing something you really should have anticipated he or she would do. As any number of strips attest, Elly is exactly stupid enough to think that a child will happily sit still for Mommy and stupid enough to think that since the kid did move, he or she hates Mommy and wants to make a fool of her.

I told you that story to tell you about John's blind-spot. As we all know, John loves to think that he's the smartest person in the strip. According to him, he's far smarter than the woman he conned into thinking that he was completely helpless around the house and he's definitely smarter than the kids who eat his food, spend his money and live in his house without contributing anything in return. As far as he can see, said children are completely unaware of their surroundings. This is as it should be so that he, the man, can reign supreme as the only one with his head in the game.

The problem is that his children aren't the stupid, oblivious nitwits he needs them to be. Every so often, they make the mistake of reminding Daddy that no, they aren't little dummies he can get to believe crap without thinking about what it means. Instead of being grateful that his children can think for themselves, John is outraged. Having children who think is seen as an affront and a challenge to his masculinity. This sort of thing is why it's very hard to understand why he sees himself as a good father with bad kids. I tend to think that the adjectives need to be swapped around to fit the facts.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
As we saw yesterday, the very last thing that Elly wanted to do was to have Michael go to the library when she was running late. The strip I linked to was clearly predicated on the idea that Michael simply didn't respect the fact that Elly wanted to be more than his mother and thought the idea that she wanted a life that wasn't catering on him hand and foot to be as ridiculous as her wanting to look attractive. Watching Michael act like a selfish jerk who hates and fears the idea that Elly could make something of herself because it means that HE has to give instead simply taking and TAKING and TAKING seems to have set the tone for why Elly doesn't like to have her children be a part of her working life.

This need to pander to the sort of working mother who sees her children as fulfillment-eating monsters who want to chain Mommy to the kitchen and thus wish to embarrass her in front of her co-workers and ruin her professional image is why she had Lizzie photocopy her face so that she'll get fired and admit that they are her masters instead of showing her gratitude that Elly feeds her by sitting until the evil need to move around went away forever. The reason she did that is because children love chaos and totally don't understand that they're supposed to read Elly's mind. It's not that Liz is a bored child who did something silly without intending real harm. It's that Liz is a jerk who wants to make Elly look bad and thus force her to lose the only thing that gives her life meaning.

Lynn plods merrily on telling us that Elly's monster children hate the idea of her having an identity that isn't based on serving them with the special "A Storm In April". As I explained before, that badly-animated mess was all about how April fooled all of us by refusing to understand that when Elly plops her down, she's supposed to stay there. Moving around, being curious and wanting to explore the world around her is not something children just do, it's something children do to embarrass and humiliate the mothers that they hate.

Not even John is immune from this because his evil children make prank calls and try to turn his supplies into toys and just generally try to turn the world into a playground instead of being good children and ignoring the EVIL, CHAOTIC impulse to move around, speak and be curious about the world around them. Aside from the rule-proving exception wherein April was put to work to keep her from scary information and scarier talking to people Elly might not approve of, the idea is that children must never, EVER intrude on their parents when they're at work because they want to make every day kids' day.

If I didn't know that Lynn is a prickly idiot who can't handle interruptions at all well, a vain idiot who takes herself too bloody seriously and a testy idiot who didn't like to be around children if she could help it, strips like the ones I linked to would definitely lead me to that conclusion.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
As we're about to see, John is the man who comes up with the brilliant idea of packing Michael off to Vancouver for the summer. In his mind, it's an elegantly simple solution to an otherwise intractable problem. This is because what he sees is a kid raising a ruckus over nothing much on one end and a wife who can make his life a seething Hell on the other arguing about a problem that only matters to him because of the noise it makes. Given how little he knows of what goes on in his own house, it makes a sick, sad sort of sense that what the problem turns into is Mike being a noisy pain in the neck who wants to piss off his mother. Given his low tolerance for having to deal with angry children, it makes even more sense that his solution to a child's bad attitude is to remind the brat who's boss in the house.

The problem that isn't John being a huge, swingin'dick is that he has no more idea of what was bothering Mike back then than what bothered April about the Housening. The first few days of the arc were, after all, all about how horrified Michael was that at some point, his parents would decide that they liked life without him so much, he was going to have to stay in Vancouver forever. Does John know this? No. John has no idea that Michael and Lizzie and April all lived with the fear that he and Elly would send them away just'cause. He can witness the result but he doesn't understand the fear because he doesn't really know who his wife and kids are.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
As I've reminded you, Elly tends to not want to face the fact that the way she carries herself or how she reacts to things affects how she's perceived. She wants to think of herself as a confident, assertive person instead of a submissive idiot who rolls over when she shouldn't and doesn't want to see the easily astonished, easily confused and easily angered figure other people imagine when told to picture her.

This need to not face her face has its equal in John's not especially wanting to see that the things he says tell us things about him he doesn't want to know about himself. As [livejournal.com profile] josephusrex reminds us, John's entire career is built around the fact that he doesn't want to admit to being the insensitve clod, choleric petty tyrant, entitled clod and misogynistic tool that we know him to be. This means, of course, that he won't admit to himself that when he calls his employees 'his girls', wonders out lood what exactly Elly's problem is with being thought of as 'Mrs John Patterson', bleats that his children are too young (and Elly too old) to be so 'sensitive' or makes dismissive comments about April's feelings of loss and confusion as being the meaningless drama of a princess, he's outed himself as being a smug rat who doesn't care about the feelings of those around him because doing so is a sign of weakness.

That's right. I went there and I brought stuff back too. John doesn't want to admit that he's a jerk because he equates admitting error as a sign that he has no power. To him, freedom's just another word for being a selfish dunce.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
What really bothers me about what I discussed in my last poist is that for some reason or another, neither of the parents seem to want to admit that Mike, Liz and April are not really much trouble to raise. Instead, John and Elly seem to behave as if they are fighting for a control that they're losing when that is most assuredly not the case. You would think that they'd have enough awareness of the situation to realize that flying off into a blind rage over very little makes them look stupid and cruel but you'd be wrong.

That being said, I almost feel sorry for Elly. After all, she is loathe to admit it because it means that her ability to be martyred would be compromised but on some level, she's always known that she has good kids that she mistreats because of her own issues. I should think that while her mouth tells Connie that she can't understand why April doesn't want to be around her loving parents or return to a home where she's understood and accepted, her conscience is in the background making a mocking comment about how 'loving', 'parents', 'home', 'understood' and 'accepted' are all lies. A lot of the reason that she's not all that sorry that Jim died is that she no longer has to worry about being told what a brainless, self-absorbed, hysterical and deluded failure she is as a mother.

While I am tempted to pity Elly, the only emotion John inspires in me is contempt. His angrily smashing an inoffensive caterpillar to bits in front of the son who pathetically pleaded in vain for it to be spared is a reminder that John hates it when things don't go the way he expects and reacts to the unfamiliar with an unfeasibly crazy level of violence. While he shares Elly's ludicrous belief that if a child disagrees with a parent in the least, it's an intolerable sign of defiance and chaos, the reasons are different. Elly is a messed-up adult who takes out her unhappiness on her children because some idealistic buffoon enacted a law against murdering entitled idiot unappreciative pig jackoff husbands while John never bothered maturing past being a spoiled five year old who wants to smack people who don't give him what he wants.

This means that while Elly regrets lashing out in blind rages and laments the 'necessity' of acting how she believed Marian did, John, having no more capacity to identify emotionally with those around him that a toddler does, resents the implication that he might be the problem in his family. If only Phil had been forced to eat him to survive; April's dad might have had all of his chromosomes.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
As you noticed the other day, both Liz and April have both imagined John either chaining them up or locking them away in a dungeon because they either do something harmless that he finds an intolerable inconvenience or make the foolish mistake of trying to get in the way of him and his beloved Ungodly Eyesore Vandal-Magnet Train Layout Of Selfishness And Immaturity™. While this is rather unsettling, it's sadly somewhat predictable. The children always seem to live in fear of how John and Elly will react to things that aren't really worth blowing one's stack about.

Take, as an example, the time they sent Lizzie out to the store to buy one of those bags of milk that they sell up here. The kid gets playing around like a normal kid and the thing breaks. No big deal, right? Wrong. VERY big deal. Very big deal indeed. Lizzie is terrified of how Elly and John will react to a minor inconvenience; so terrified that she tries to lie her way out of the brutal punishment she's convinced is coming. When Lizzie's fear of getting a beating for stonewalling Mommy forces her to tell the truth, Stupid and Useless Flapanhonk is astonished that her lifetime of of exploding in a blind rage when confronted with minor inconveniences has produced a child who assumes that making a good-faith mistake equals at best being sent away forever and at worst being beaten to death.

John, it would seem, is Elly's equal in avoiding seeing how his being a belligerent loon with no tolerance for minor irritations that saner, better, braver people realize aren't worth getting upset about make his children confuse him with some sort of cruel, medieval despot who locks girls up for shits and giggles. The only difference between the two is that Elly has a little voice in her head called a "conscience" that she tries to silence because its insistence that her claims of being a martyr are lies keeps her awake at night. John has never been able to identify emotionally with the people around him so his never having been hampered by the crazy, limiting concepts that weak people call 'remorse' and 'common decency' allows him to sleep the peaceful sleep of the inhuman monster.

The only thing that gives me the remotest bit of pleasure is that he's alienated the one person who would otherwise had the decency to visit him twenty years from now when he's an elderly widower dying slowly of liver failure. Mike will be too busy with his own life, Liz will be too hammered to drive the three blocks to his rest home and April would have come but Daddy will always be an ungrateful asshole who acts like a spoiled, stubborn, greedy and mean-spirited five year old so why waste remorse and sympathy on someone capable of neither? That delightful vision of his having driven away the only person with the decency to care about him more than balances out the disgust inspired by Lynn's refusal to see that having children live in a constant state of justified fear is not a good thing.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
As you know, I've already talked about how Elly's stupid nagging turned the trumpet lessons that Michael could have found enjoyable into another horrible chore to be avoided and how Phil's inability to realize that Michael doesn't exist in a vacuum didn't improve matters much. If you'll allow me, I'd like to remind you all of how John's need for his children to not disturb Daddy by living their lives got in the way.

As we know, John doesn't seem to think that he has to put in much effort to be a good father. To his way of thinking, he's provided his children with a roof over their heads so he thinks that that should be enough. This means that time and again, he sees having to be a father when it's inconvenient as a cruel imposition willed on him by children who ask too much because they're selfish and spoiled. When he looks at fathers who support their children in their endeavors while letting their own interests slide, he sees not good men behaving like good men, he sees suckers being exploited by brats. What is supposed to happen is that children speak seldom and ask little of their father because he works all day.

This belief that Daddy needs his quiet so his children owe it to him to be grinning little dummies out of fawning gratitude is complicated by something that has enraged a lot of us: his hateful belief that disagreeing with him in the slightest is not a sign that someone is an individual with a right to his or her own opinion but a defiant brat who needs to be either threatened with violence, shipped away like a criminal or arbitrarily spanked so as to be reminded that there can be only one opinion: John's. What makes him even more intolerable is not that he's a thug who hates to be disagreed with; it's that he's a thug who isn't honest with himself. Always and ever, he acts like the helpless people he dominates are trying to destroy him, as if they're a viable threat. This means that 'straight-shooter' is Lynnglish for "cowardly asshole."

Another fact to be considered is that, as this excerpt from one of his letters:
Apparently Mike is getting close to finishing his novel. I always hated writing essays, and this project of his seems like one giant essay to me, so I can't imagine how he could either want to do it, or more importantly enjoy the writing! He seems to be enjoying it, though, in spite of all the chaos with his young family.
indicates, John cannot bring himself to care about any interests that do not interest him. Simply put, John can't relate to being a writer because he hates having to ask himself why he does what he does so Mike's career is the subject of dismissive laughter because Daddy is a knob who doesn't like to stretch his mental horizons. Since he shares Elly's dislike of music owing to sharing her being an embittered failure who resents those with the will to dare and to do (as well as a need to hide this from herself), it doesn't take a genius to see why he wants to toss the instrument of torturing him by making have to interact with his family on their terms under a steamroller.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
As we all know, Lynn occasionally likes to turn the strip into a sort of situation comedy like the Brady Bunch; the reason that I mention this is that she's about to indulge her tendency to do so by presenting us with a common-place event turned into a farce. Said otherwise normal event is occasioned when Michael takes the class hamster home with him for an evening to help teach him responsibility or some such thing. The interesting thing is not that Lizzie is too young to realize how fragile the poor little thing is or that Mike tries to palm the job of cleaning up after him off on Elly "because that's what Moms are there for". The interesting thing is that John seems to hate Humphrey the hamster like fire. While on the surface, it might look as if his antipathy could stem from his belief that only dogs are pets or his country-boy belief that a hamster is a rat with good PR but we get a rather strong hint as to what his deal is when he wants to kill the poor little fellow because he's kept up by a poorly-lubricated exercise wheel. While a casual observer might think "It almost looks as if John thinks that the hamster is trying to screw with him", a true student of the Foobiverse would cut 'it almost looks as if' right out of that sentence when the thing houdinis out of its cage. It takes a special kind of always-angry imbecile to think that a tiny rodent with the brain the size of a chickpea is going the 'wrong' way just to defy him. John is just that special....but then, we knew that already, didn't we?

Yes, I went there and I brought stuff back. John has always, ALWAYS put his own needs above everyone else and the idea of sacrificing his own petty desires for others has the same appeal now as it did when he was a snotty, molly-coddled little brat being handed things by his overly-indulgent mother back when he was small, selfish and filled with the need to tyrannize those around him.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
As I pointed out yesterday, John and Elly seem to regard the idea of their children having fun as a threat to themselves. For reasons that I'm about to speculate on, it seems to them that having their children living in a constant state of fear and depression is better for all concerned than having optimistic children who look forward to tomorrow. Given how they engineered life so that said kids wound up with like-minded partners, the end result is the Mike and Liz who should have realized that Mom and Dad have Mom and Dad's interests alone at heart grew up to also be terrified by the horrific prospect of children acting as if it's good to be alive.

The reason that John is this way is rather easy to figure out. When we see him react to gentle kidding with an act of malice and violence, we immediately see him for what he is: a vain simpleton who can't tolerate being laughed at because he's the only person who really exists. Since other people aren't fully real to our boy, he can't really let them be happy lest their happiness be at his expense. Also, he likes his unquestioned and unearned authority so having happy, smiling children means that he ain't got them under control.

Elly is also rather simple to figure out; not only is her natural state one of pointless gloom and unreasoning negativity, she's insanely jealous of the younger brother who had life so easy and was so happy to, as she saw it, rub her nose in it. When you factor in the fact that Elly will not ever get over all the stupid crap that happened growing up stupid under the Red Ensign, she doesn't see an innocent child who isn't trying to ruin her day when Mike, Liz or April listens to the hated voice who tells her that this life is worth living. She sees the Phil who she saw as telling her that she can never win at life.

This need to make sure that Mike, Lizzie and April realize that life is Serious Business and that fun is for suckers is why they never laugh in front of the children if they can avoid it. To them, it would be an act of cruelty to let the children know that they have senses of humor.

The end result of all of this is a Michael who stands there panicking because his children want to play with him and a Liz who is about to freak out because the Weird Frenchy Girl engages in harmless wordplay. Since this allows Elly to crow about her own misery and to make them hopelessly dependent on her for advice, this is a great thing.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
The one thing that you can't help but noticing is why Elly does what she does. We know that she insists on clean plates because her mother made a point of making her feel like crap if she didn't choke down the sort of horrible crap (cold, mushy peas, liver slathered in gravy, corned beef with enough salt in it to corrode people's intestines at twenty paces and so on and so forth) that gives British cooking a bad name that she insisted was good stuff that was good for her. Given Elly's love for praise, it's not a mystery why most of her own cooking is based on having to trick children into eating foods they hate and then making an ugly fool of herself crowing about how it didn't kill them so now they have to eat it. This, as we all know, has had the effect of giving the Patterson children an unhealthy relationship with food and deepened the trust issues that power the intergenerational conflict that angers the whiny pinhead cowering behind his newspaper.

What we're never told is why John is such a fragile little thing that the merest hint that his children don't do exactly what he wants angers him so greatly. Lynn's refusal to focus on the unimportant thing that is John's past deprives us of knowledge of why he's such a pompous dullard or why he feels as if he has to have blind, unquestioned obedience from everyone within his myopic visual range. We're not kept totally in the dark, of course. Every so often, we get to see that when confronted with everyday annoyances that make most people sigh about having to take the good with the bad, our lad is beside himself with confusion and rage. It's as if he thinks that he's somehow immune from the slings and arrows that beset the rest of mankind and any sort of disconnect between what he expects to happen and what does happen is an evil, terrible thing that must be answered for.

It is thus with no small amount of pleasure that I can state that the Liographies give us a further insight into his character. That's because when you read the one for his parents, you end up realizing that his mother is a stubborn lunatic who needed everything to be just so. Why, she spent five or six years being pointlessly angry at Will because he had free will and only realized that she should quit being a stuck-up jerk about his not doing what she wanted when she expected it to happen when classmates started getting their brains blasted out for Britain. Given how she fixated on Will at far too early an age and seems to wander around with an expression on her face that says "I'm right", it's not hard to imagine what someone that hide-bound and averse to the unexpected would be like as a mother. Her rearranging Elly's kitchen to suit her own preferences like a petty jackass is just the tip of the iceberg; we can expect someone that ready to impose her vision of the true, good and beautiful on the world to keep sending John reminders that things must be as they always were so that she can still dominate his thinking after they scatter her ashes. Simply put, her need to have her way be the only way and John's need to not have to think about what he's doing lest he be humiliated make him a bigger jerk than he would otherwise be.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
As you know, I've been taking another good long look at how the Pattersons hate the idea of looking at a situation from the viewpoint of the person that they happen to be screaming at at any given point in time. John in particular is quite reluctant to see things the way someone else does because of his idiotic belief that by doing so, he's being more or less castrated; in his mind, once a man forms an opinion, it's a sin to try to get him to change it. This belief that virility and a gutless, dickless refusal to admit to being a colossal screw-up are the same blasted thing is something that limits his effectiveness as a husband, father and employer and is also something that alienates people who might otherwise have reached out the hand of friendship. Since he lacks self-awareness, he isn't going to understand it when someone flat-out tells him that he has better things to do with his time than hang out with a shrill jackass with a persecution complex who's so up his own asshole that his children aren't allowed to screw up like everyone else. This, I think, is a result of the same phenomenon that makes Elly abhor a plate with food on it. As we know, Marian was the sort of crowing idiot who delighted in winning arguments with children no matter what the cost to society so it's likely that John is simply raising his children he was raised. From what we've seen, it's obvious that Carrie Patterson was a humourless perfectionist in her own right and made it quite clear that there was no such thing as a good faith mistake; since John wasn't allowed to screw up, his kids aren't either.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
As I've said before, John takes far too much pleasure in Ted's misery. Elly's friends might think of the poor shmuck as a beastly lowlife whom Connie needs to be rescued from but they're content to simply hold him in contempt. They don't feel the same need to twist the knife in when telling Ted when he screwed up as John does. Then again, none of them have the same need to deny that Ted makes a good case for having waited to have married as John does. John needs to have living proof that he had to settle down when he did and the deluded idiot living like he's still in high school is it, baby.

That being said, it's not just giving thanks that he has living proof that settling down is where it's at that makes him pal around with Ted. He also comes in handy when he wants to talk about something and not have a distorted version of it repeated back to him by a crazy woman jabbing her finger in the air about something she doesn't actually understand. It's bad enough that Elly's paranoia and truculence run away with her when it's just the two of them talking; I can only imagine how much it must suck when Elly has to deal with second-hand information. Since Ted tends to talk down to women, John can say things without penalty.

This leads us to his other use: watching Elly get pissed off at him. He knows for a fact that Elly hates him like no one else because he doesn't admit that he should live in terror of her ragerespect her opinion. Watching Elly scream at Ted is always good for a laugh because the dodo doesn't get why he's being yelled at.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
Of course, most of why people didn't want to talk to April or even let her know what was going on during the Housening is that they feared that if she knew what was going on, something very bad would happen. Said bad thing seemed to be getting a loutish idiot purveyor of abuse porn to see that buying and remodeling the Tiny Train House and selling off the three extra lots would have been way cheaper than renting and far less disruptive than the Housening.

The reason that it was bad was that John wanted to be disrupted because he saw that waste space Stibbs selfishly kept to himself not as the perfect site for three homes but as the perfect place for his self-indulgent need to inflict his eyesore model train layout on an unhappy world. Imagine how terrible it would be if Mike had to do what he did and start from scratch; far better to give him the family farm like a good little plowhand.

That would be just as bad as simply talking to April like an adult and explaining that since the fire made Mike, Dee and the Patterspawn kinda screwy, it would have next to impossible for any of them to see moving anywhere soon. That way, he could have got her on board and not been able to grouse about selfish kids. You can see how bad that would have been.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
As we've seen recently, Lynn likes to tell a rather annoying joke in which a character makes a lot of noise about being decisive only to turn out to be a waffling idiot. The first version of said clinker had Evil Ted try to lure poor John to the Dark Side of the Force only to be revealed as pathetically dependent on others to make up his mind for him. The problem is that her favourite butt of this non-joke is the Picky-Faced Martian Creature Princess. I can think of at least two occasions in which April complained about not having input into her day-to-day life only to go into vapour lock when asked to decide something trivial. In the first instance, John and Elly go on vacation up to a cottage up North and only bother telling April about it a few days before they leave and in the second, we have to contend with her wanting to not be treated like an imbecile who has her decisions made for her by people who do NOT have her interests at heart only to not be able to decide what to have for lunch. In both cases, the basic premise seems to be as follows:

HUM! Since April can't make a little decision like this, it only stands to reason that she can't make big decisions. That means that she's a silly child who doesn't know what's best for her and that John and Elly are right to whatever they want without worrying about an opinion she doesn't really have.

The problem is that Lynn and her fanbase ignore possibilities that don't make a defiant, hypocritical idiot out of April. First off, they ignore the very real possibility that she's subconsciously afraid of deciding things on her own. You can't live in a house wherein a simple statement that you're very sorry about missing dinner but homework comes first turns into Elly bellowing like an idiot and John threatening violence unless you apologize for having free will NOW without developing a sort of protective submissive attitude. They also ignore the very real fact that even if Elly doesn't blow a gasket or John doesn't grumble about attitudes, the two of them will overrule her because they're afraid of her. In the first instance, they had it in their stupid heads that if April knew about their vacation plans, she'd somehow whine her way into making their trip up North go away while during the Housening, the clear subcontext seemed to be that ignorant, selfish April was so fixated on having a room she wouldn't get to enjoy much longer anyway that she didn't see the dire consequences of not being treated like furniture.

This leads me to a third problem I have with how they treat April. The same people who are terrified of her learning things that scare them have the annoying habit of expecting her to be an ignorant idiot that they have to explain what strokes are only to turn around and expect her to know that Mike simply cannot afford to buy and maintain a house. Why it is that they need to be safe from her knowing what's going on around her is something I'll touch on more fully later. Suffice to say for the here and now that their expecting her to know something that they keep from her when it's convenient makes hectoring her for being stupid a rather irritating thing.

Finally, the same sort of idiots who were clearly disappointed that John didn't haul off and belt April for 'defiance' tend not to want to see that the only reason that April is being singled out for being a waffling idiot in a strip peopled with prevaricatiing clods is that they've been ordered to. The amusing thing about watching her being yapped at for being clueless for not knowing what she wanted for lunch is that most of why her life sucked is because her allegedly adult siblings couldn't make up their minds about what to do.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
It seems to me that there's another reason that Mira might start to see the Patterson children as being more to be pitied than hated; their inability to see that while there is a conspiracy in place to shape their lives, the conspirators believe themselves to be helping Mike, Liz and April. Take, as a for instance, the campaign in place to make sure that Mike realized that his destiny isn't supposed to be chasing some distant illusion but to embrace the comforts of home and family. A normal person such as Mira would be able to see that Deanna, John and Elly aren't consciously aware of their hateful jealousy of those willing to dare and to do. She knows of any number of also-rans and failures who don't want to face up to being second-stringers so Deanna's whimpering that she wants Mike to be alive to enjoy life is a means of distracting herself from seeing that her parents' hopes for her were in vain. Best to nod, smile politely and admit that the same daughter who blew off singing lessons because they were haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard might as well be left to run her idiot money-hemorrhaging sewing school while she congratulates herself on playing a Jedi mind trick on a sap who could have been a damned fine literary critic instead of the author of crap novels.

She'd also realize that the people who woke of a morning trying to figure out how best to consign Liz to the same self-induced Hell that blights Elly's life honestly thought that they were saving her from a life of misery far from home and family. I mean, Gordon and Tracey had no way of knowing that what looked like homesickness was actually Stockholm syndrome and it's not like John and Elly are willing to face up to how wretched they are and how little they have to offer anyone. They don't even want to see how self-serving they are.

About the only salvageable person she can see is the one whose horses John and Elly don't know what to do with; since they'll never need a small animal veterinarian, April will one day embarrass and mortify her poor, ill-used parents by saying that yes, she was jealous of Becky for a stupid reason and no, she doesn't see the point of paying for the retirement of two vicious, greedy and self-absorbed old gits who should have planned things in such a manner as to not avenge themselves on their children for asking things of them.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)

Another reason that Liz finds her life less than fulfilling is that her destiny was being guided in such a manner as to delight the amen choir of people who love it that her life's path guided her not to defining life on her own terms but in such a manner as to serve the needs of her entitled, selfish and empathy-free asshole parents. While we see the bizarre, anachronistic and silly 'inherit the family farm' vibe given off as a good and life-affirming thing because it seems to comfort them that the kids don't have to live in the big, scary adult world.

It doesn't seem to be a problem to Kool-Aid Nation that by marching not towards being people in their own right but towards a resumption of their old childhood roles that Liz and Mike have tricked themselves into thinking that a humiliating loss of dignity is a victory and a vindication of their life plan. This is because I believe that they see it as a good thing is that John and Elly finally feel as if this parenthood racket is going their way.

When one looks at the tragedy of two people who could easily have clawed out lives for themselves were it not for their craven and destructive need to please worthless vermin like John and Elly immolating themselves on the pyre of self-defeating behaviour through the eyes of said slithering pieces of filth, it magically turns into a happy ending. For one, the boy-girl pair of children people are 'supposed' to have finally spend their time being cravenly grateful for the alleged sacrifices made on their behalf and witlessly apologetic for trying to stir remorse in their alleged parents' stone hearts. What a grand and glorious thing it is for a heartless dick like John to no longer have to hear horrible, vicious things about how his children weren't actually freeloading off of him; now that he's finally free from having to be told that his children would have starved to death gruesomely without his money, he's finally happy. As for Elly, she's finally happy that Liz understands that the desire that children have for Mommy's attention is an evil, horrible thing that only exists because evil children want to spread chaos and make Mommy miserable. As for the superfluous third child, they might not even care that she's escaped the hellish vortex of their entitlement, greed and lack of remorse; after all, with her gone, their family is how it's supposed to be.

What really irritates me about all of this is that whenever Kool-Aid Nation notices people like me, they say that we want bad things for the Patterson family. I can remember one person claiming that we wanted Anthony and his daughter to suffer some arcane, improbable and poorly-defined horror because we're awful, cynical people who have no sense of human. What we want for Anthony is for him to grow the Hell up and stop fixating on some pallid idiot who needs a spotter to remind her to breathe in and out, man the Hell up and do something with his life. What we want for Françoise is for her to not have a 'mother' who resents her. It turns out that this is probably the terrible ending that they have in mind. Other scary, horrible endings are "Mike realizes that being an author was Elly's dream and tells her to stop living vicariously through him", "Liz realizes that what she thought was homesickness was Stockholm syndrome", "Elly realizes that she's mostly why her life feels so empty" and worst of all "John finally gets it through his thick skull that he's the damned problem and tries making things right with his wife and children."

dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
Of course the real fun of reading all the strips that have evil, picky-faced princess Molly be treated like a spoiled and deluded idiot who should be grateful for the 'caring', 'responsible' way her not-at-all entitled and in no way, shape or form tyrannical, fearful imbecile father kept her from throwing her life away hanging out with a boy who was so God-damned white bread that he should have come in a polka-dot wrapper is the fact that she looks so damned much like the April who ruined the Housening for everyone. Just check out this little gem wherein Molly is supposedly too stuck up to go out into a town wherein no one knows her name and compare it with this little wonder wherein April is supposedly a twit for accurately remembering that the last thing any of the smug vermin that surround her care to do is admit that she has feelings that have to be taken into consideration. The two of them could practically be twins. What's more, they both have to contend with the same problems. Let's list the parallels, shall we?:

  1. Self-serving dipshit fathers: As I hinted at, fearful petty tyrant Greg got himself a transfer so that he could not only step on a relationship with some bland clodhopper who dressed in a manner that scared the fool, he could also have help from the Pattersons in being a pompous ass. John decided to move down the block so he could play with trains.
  2. Transparent dishonesty about parental motivation: Just as John made huge noise about how a fait accompli was just an idea he was kicking around, Greg appears to have made a big noise about career advancement in the hopes that his daughter would aceept that as the primary reason he uprooted them.
  3. Underestimation of targeted teenager: They seemed to believe that they could get away with blatant lies because they thought that they'd raised gullible simpletons when that was clearly not the case.
  4. Weak-minded stooge mothers: Dim Connie was so excited to have a man in her life, she failed to see that said man threw her under the bus so as to take the hit for the move; Thinking-impaired Elly moved into a clapped-out old bungalow so she could get new stuff.
  5. Moral Cowardice: The reason I think that both John and Greg are chicken-shit rat bastard idiots is that most of why they threw their little wifeys under the bus was so they could avoid having to listen to their children. After all, they might end up being made to feel bad and that's just terrible.
  6. Unearned Martyrdom: Since the women are too stupid to realize that they've been shivved by Hubby and since they're too spoiled and selfish to care about anyone who ain't them, the presence of a hurting child is an occasion for Mommy to whine about being tyrannized by a spoiled brat.
  7. Parenting via stereotypes: In both cases, the legitimate concerns of troubled adolescents were dismissed as a cry for attention from children too young to know what they should want. Also in both cases, it took years for the alleged adults in the room to admit that just maybe they made a mistake.
  8. Dissonance between goals and result: Greg clearly intended to control Molly's behaviour by showing her what would happen if she didn't play ball; the end result was that he made it obvious that he didn't see her as having any right to an opinion that was not his. The consequence was to make him a non-factor in her life. John and Elly clearly intended to make April see that home was less a place and more a group of people; they ended up convincing her home was not in Milborough.

The moral, if any, of these two stories is that if you parent as if your children are your enemies, your children will become your enemies.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
Remember when I was making a lot of noise about how most of why John made an ugly, stupid fool of himself during the Housening was due to his not having the least idea what April really wanted? I quote at length from the final retcon:

Our teenager has been feeling alienated, and I don't think we knew the extent of her angst - we thought she was just grumpy about moving, but we didn't realize how unpleasant it was to stay in the rec room and how she had ended up in the position of babysitting the little ones so often. She and Elly had a good talk before April left for the farm, and over the month that April was gone, Elly realized that she really does need more attention - she's plucky, and we don't always remember that she is still a kid, with feelings that get easily hurt.

The interesting thing about that little chunk of stupidity is that he totally failed to see that April was within earshot or had been somehow or other told that he'd made a lot of noise about how she was being a spoiled little princess who didn't realize that she was asking Mike and Dee and the kids to die in a gutter and blah-blah-blah. I'll get to how John and Elly simply do not want to see that their obvious and well-stated belief that their children are trying to destroy them hampers their attempt to be effective parents later. What I'd like to discuss today is how that need to have a place for just himself makes him a bad father because it blinds him to who these children who make incomprehensible and unfair demands on his precious free time are.

If you think that his sweeping generalizations about a third child he doesn't really know at all are a new thing, the Halloween 1983 series should teach you that this is not the case. We know for a fact that Lizzie is terrified of new faces so the idea of taking her trick-or-treating is sort of a problematic proposition at best. When a new (and thus scary and evil person) made things so that Lizzie could become aware of a new dire threat from which to hide from, we could see that her hiding in the bushes from scary, scary unknown person was an inevitability. John has no idea who Lizzie is as a person, though. He didn't understand why Lizzie hid in the bushes and interpreted events in the fashion we expect of him by assuming that his children are all out to make a big fool out of him because children are born defiant and evil and filled with an attitude that makes them disrespect idiots who do crap-all to deserve it.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)

So far, I’ve covered how Phil and Elly might react in an outing scenario. Phil would probably be holed up in a bar somewhere wondering why doing the right thing hurts so damned much because he’d either wonder why he let Elly talk him into marrying a square like Connie or why being a meat-eating straight guy made him the weirdo. I’ve also explained that Elly is the sort of person whose reaction to the discovery that a child is left-handed would be to assume that the child’s thought processes could be summed up by the statement “Hmmm…..how shall I blight the life of the mother I hate sooooooo much? I know! I shall become a left-hander!! (Diabolical laughter!!)”

Now that I’ve got them pegged as a wishy-washy imbecile who’s baffled by life’s reverses and a nutbag who believes that she’s the victim of a conspiracy consisting of everyone else in the world to destroy her brain and make her miserable, let’s speculate as to how John would make a bog of things. We can start in by looking at the strip wherein he pouts like a sulky toddler because no one wants to eat his pancakes of death at eight in the morning. Taken as an isolated incident, it looks as if the family is crapping all over the man’s generous impulses. The problem is that it cannot be taken as an isolated incident; it is, as a matter of fact, part of a wider pattern of behaviour that would tend to explain how he might react in a given situation.

First off, we have to remember that John loves to make sweeping decisions that affect the people around them without really bothering himself with a question he considers to be irrelevant. After all, he is the father and husband so when he says “Jump”, the wifey and kiddies are supposed to do so without question (lest he not have a hooooooooooome) so they’re not supposed to have opinions that conflict with his own. This, to him, displays a horrible lack of gratitude.

Next, we have to remember that John really, really hates to have to ask himself the question “Who are these people that surround me and what do they want?” Having to remember that Mike likes to sleep in or that Lizzie can’t wolf down a stack of pancakes without getting sick or even that Elly’s appetite doesn’t kick in until nine or ten would mean that he’d have to adapt to their needs and that would be just terrible. Why, that’s almost as terrible as their not being who they’re supposed to be.

Yes, I went there. I also brought something back with me. John has yet another habit of mind that would tend to make life more difficult for a child who outed him- or herself: the fool notion that a person is supposed to be a certain thing. As we’ve seen, John is constantly confused and angered that Elly doesn’t find the life of a housewife appealing like she’s supposed to. The reason he’s perturbed by this is that if people aren’t what he thinks they’re supposed to be, he might just be wrong about something and perhaps even apologize to them and that would be simply terrible. I mean, that would contradict everything his childhood taught him.

This brings us to the root of John’s being a dick to everyone around him: his need to retreat to a childhood wherein he was ‘right’ all the time and never had to ‘surrender’ to people by having to lie and say that he regretted being an antisocial little knob whose overly-indulgent mother let him run hog-wild because she got a cheap thrill out of his knavish stupidity. A grown man would realize that maybe he should have cooked a pancake brunch for ten instead of trying to force everyone to live his childhood. John is not a grown man, though. John is a spoiled brat with seniority and were someone to betray him by outing him- or herself, the results would be as ugly as everything else the greasy pile of sludge has done. 


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