dreadedcandiru2: (Angry Candiru)

As I told [livejournal.com profile] josephusrex in a previous entry, I will allow as how that Elly’s conscience does trouble her when it comes to her children. My guess is that after boasting to Connie about how the two of them were firm, fair, loving and kind parents and reminding us that neither of them come close to being any of those things, she was kept awake by a voice telling her “Damn it, Stupid….why do you always got a pick a fight with your kids? Now April’s in trouble with that moron John again ‘cause your feelings are hurt. Hope you’re happy!” John, on the other hand, sleeps like a log because he doesn’t seem to have a conscience troubling him. As far as he knows, April was quite vulgar, defiant and cruel in her dismissal of her mother and that’s probably where the matter ends. Oh, I don’t doubt that somewhere along the way, Elly told him that she lied her fat ass off because her fragile ego got bruised but it would never occur to the douche playing (“operating”, my eye, Fathead”) with trains that he should maybe owe April an apology for treating her like crap. Hell, even when Elly finally managed to get it through his thick skull that his transparent lies about who was going to end up living in his dream firetrap and arrogant refusal to take her feelings into consideration was why she spent most of the Spring of 2007 feeling like she was the afterthought she was, his response was to make a promise to treat her a bit better that still presumed that she was the one causing all the problems. I remember that most of us pointed out that if Johnny Boy would get the Hell out of his stupid workshop and be a part of the family, he’d have a better idea of what was going on around him.

The problem, of course, is that John simply does not see it that way. In his mind, being a man involves holing himself away in an alcove so that he might avoid having to be an active presence in his children’s lives. All he is supposed to be is a dispenser of money and a bludgeon that his maidservant-nanny-wife can wield when the children that are solely her responsibility prove too defiant. This, as I’ve said, means that he doesn’t have a clue as to why Elly’s children do what they do and can only stir himself to care if it looks as if they’re being defiant and ungrateful. By his standards, he’s a wonderful father and has nothing to lose sleep over. What he can’t take into consideration because it would force him to confront and admit that he’s a heartless, selfish and cruel human being who never met an arbitrary and self-serving thought he didn’t like is that a human being’s first affirmative duty to himself and those around him is to know what’s going on in his own house. Living in a fog the way he does doesn’t make him the lord of all he surveys the way he thinks it does. It makes him a pathetic dolt who’s the helpless, hapless captive of a hysterical old biddy with a persecution complex.

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In my haste to rehash the mental failings that cause John and Elly to breed teenaged rebellion where none should exist, I forgot one thing about the two of them that is fairly important. What that important thing is is best explained by the strip that originally ran on 1 October 1983. As we see here, Elly had a good idea of what the man she was to marry would look like while John witlessly confessed that all he was looking for was a big bustline and wide, child-rearing hips. The idea that the woman's personality might somehow be important is not one that John ever took into consideration when looking for a Mrs Nerdy Moron Dentist.

This, I think, is symptomatic of what is wrong with the man in general. As I've said before, what people think and feel is not something he can care about nor is it something that he wishes to concern himself with. Most of the strip's conflict comes from his inability to even stop to consider that merely because he thinks that marriage is supposed to turn a woman into a happy homemaker and childbirth into a loving mother that that is not automatically the case. The same man who doesn't see the unfair, unfeeling and unkind moron who threw his child under the bus to play with trains we do spent his life being baffled by people who don't do what he expects of them.

That being said, Elly's reaction to this admission is even more annoying. She is startled by it but the revelation that who she is is a distant second to her looks is soon forgotten. This is to be expected because Elly only thinks that she knows who John is and tends to forget anything that reminds her that he is not especially nice nor does he especially care about what people think as long as they do what he expects them to. It's sort of depressing to watch the poor woman think that if she isn't careful, her husband will become a stranger when she doesn't know who he is in the first place.
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The fact that John is both confused and angered when asked to do things with his children that don't amuse him is a rather annoying symptom of his belief that he must be seen as an unapproachable and hostile authority figure in order to have any hope of standing against his children. Were he to display any hint that he is a human being capable of feeling anything other than implacable rage, the dumb bastard thinks that his children will never take him seriously again. The reason Elly is seen as weaker than he is is sadly because she shows lingering signs of awareness that her wanting her children to see her and John as being rock-solid walls of inflexible authority is going to come back and bite them in the ass one day. John, you see, is incapable of realizing that he has good kids being watched over by a lousy, punitive and moronic father who's so pathetically afraid of displaying signs of weakness that they've never seen him laugh.

The problem with obliviousness on that level is that their clear yearning for the day in which their children will spontaneously declare that they actually are spoiled, selfish children who sponge off their totally innocent parents because they're evil and love chaos is written all over their ugly, stupid faces. Since no child is ever going to admit this, they make the same horrible and inconvenient realization that most people do: that John and Elly are whiny little pissants who think that the world owes them a living because of the amazingly infantile reason that they have to endure the same nonsense as less exalted people. This tendency to whine about how awful life is because they have to give as well as to take tends to result in children who can't respect puny Pattersonian pinheads who set arbitary rules to further ignoble ends. Since John and Elly are too damned dimwitted to realize that treating children like enemies makes them enemies, I can't find it in me to sympathize with them.
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To get back to why John thinks that he has the right to pull blankets away from children, you would have to pay close attention to what another Sunday strip teaches us. The strip I have in mind is the one that originally ran on 17 February 1980. As you will recall, our lad had to deal with a hard day at the office and responded to the awful imposition of dealing with difficult patients and other minor annoyances by taking out his pointless rage on his family. What this tells me is that John expects unquestioned obedience from his family to compensate for what he has convinced himself is a complete humiliation: not getting his own way all the time in the real world. This, as I've said before, makes him the peer of all of the other hateful patriarchs who play tyrant in response to alleged humiliations. It, for instance, makes him the equal of Elly's pompous ass of a grandfather who thundered on witlessly about how unfair it was that the rest of the world did not immediately reverse societal change he didn't like because some greasy little non-entity of a remittance man living in Vancouver howling about how putting French on the cereal boxes was part of a Papist plot to overthrow the Anglo-Saxon race. He is also a clone of Connie's dad who believed that the fact that he had no sons wasn't a fact that he had no control over but a humiliation willed upon him by les autres. In both cases, a made-up sin that rescues someone that doesn't matter from having to realize that he isn't the centre of the universe allows a puny anonym to strut around as if he has a mandate from God to ride rough-shod over everyone in his field of vision.

Having to contemplate all of these alpha doofuses would almost be hilarious if the results weren't so damaging to society as a whole. Were they real men instead of spoiled brats wailing about the bogeyman, their children wouldn't have grown up to become dysfunctional vermin in their own right and bred even more examples of a species I call "Gymnopitechus Stultissimus Canadiensis": The All-Canadian Blithering Idiot.
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As you might have guessed, I am not especially fond of the strip which was originally published on 4 September 1983. It appalls me that we have John so cavalierly yank the blanket away from Mike so that he could have biiiiiig fun traumatizing the child by exposing him to the public. What makes John's being so damned smug about casually running rough-shod over Mike's expectation of being treated with dignity so damned aggravating is that it's part of a pattern. What seems to be happening is that John is trying to remind his children that as the father, he can do whatever he wants to them whenever he wants to and they are fighting against all that's right and true in the world if they stand up for themselves.

This, I should think, is owing to John's fear of being weak and helpless and thus open to being treated shabbily. He tends to not want to admit that not everyone in the world is a monster motivated by jealousy, malice, greed, gluttony and cruelty because that would mean that he'd have to look in the mirror and see not the respectable straight shooter he wants to see but a petty, deceitful moron who threw his youngest daughter under the bus so he could play with trains.
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The problem, of course, with trying to get John to see any point that might make him look in the mirror and see the sullen, childish, cruel, entitled, arrogant, whiny, spoiled and repulsive jackass he really is is that he'd have to be hit over the head so damned hard with the fact that he cannot use any of his favorite means of twisting things around so as to pin the blame for his own hateful stupidity on his victims. What this would entail in the present day would be to have him be outraged by someone pulling the same sort of malicious stunt he did during the Housening and end up having someone like Jean ask him how he's any better than the jerk he's hacked off at. Since John is all about how people think about him, the realization that most people think of him as being anything but the straight shooter he believes that they think he is might be the only thing that might make him reconsider his course of action.

That being said, there's another thing that might make him actually take stock of himself instead of running away from asking the horrible question (with its terrifying implication that the answer might actually be "Because I'm a selfish and heartless coward who's no better than some punk hustling weaker classmates for lunch money.") "Why do I do what I do?" is having to deal with Elly's new friend Great Big Jerk Divorce Lawyer. The reason that I mention this possibility is that a recent post on Coffee Talk made some of us consider what would have happened if Elly's reaction to his oafish attempt to twist things around so that his refusal to consider other people's feelings (because, CHEE!!!, that would completely unman him, don'tchaknow?) into her being too sensitive was to realize that no, she (unlike Savage and Hyneman) cannot actually polish the turd she married and thus must leave before she turns into some sort of gloomy, shrieking horror freak who can't take pleasure in anything.

The first immediate consequence of this would, I should think, to be to turn her parents against one another. Jim might be a grumbling old codger who fears social change and loves respectability almost as much as Marian but he has one advantage over his wife: he's always wanted her to be happy. This tells me that while he wouldn't like the idea of any marriage disintegrating, he could be persuaded to see that Elly and the kids would be far better off without John Patterson being a destructive factor in their lives. Insert a mildly oafish joke about trading up and another one about how maybe they shoulda shacked up first so she coulda backed out later and we'd have a mildly reluctant support system.

We'd need him because you just know that the woman from whom Elly derives her habit of getting in a frenzy about the nonsensical and irrelevant would be all about what old sweats who weren't worth powder and shot when they were alive and are of even less importance in the here and now would think. Any comments from Jim about how this wouldn't have been a problem if it were happening to Phil would fall on deaf ears because Marian would never spontaneously admit that when respectability and decency class, the concept that has more syllables in it must give way.

The only way I can see her realizing that most of why Elly did so many things that were not in her own best interests would be at the trial itself. Having to hear the litany of John's sins as well as his boasting about "saving" Elly from the unnecessary horror of autonomy would finally open her eyes as to how big a jerk she'd been. As for John, I should think that being lectured to by the judge about what a pathetic little dictator he's been would be mildly less traumatic than being told off by his Mom and Dad. His very public ruin and the permanent loss of any chance reconciliation with Elly RICHARDS would be the only thing in the world that would get through his thick skull.
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Every so often, Lynn does something she doesn’t intend to when she writes those notes of hers. What she does is hint that she’s got something mildly wrong with her. What generally happens is that she does something any normal person would know to be a dumb and bad thing and she only realizes that it’s a dumb and bad idea after the fact. This means that what we sometimes think to be the result of being a jerk could well be the result of having some sort of autism spectrum disorder. If this is the case, she does know right from wrong but doesn’t know going in how her actions are going to be perceived. Her most recent example is a longish story about how Aaron reacted poorly to what she thought was a harmless little joke. She had to piece together from his being terribly upset that what she did was wrong because she simply wasn’t capable of seeing things her way. Since John is the character that most closely resembles her as a clueless, foolhardy and insensitive clodhopper, the only way that he could go from his current state of allowing as how maybe he didn’t consider April’s feelings during the Housening to realizing that he acted like the greedy, imperious and heartless moron would be to finally somehow learn that his fear that he had no control over his family is nonsense. Granted, his empathy would be of the same self-serving variety as Lynn’s (“CHEE!!! I didn’t realize that I came across as a tyrant!”) but just as he finally realized that Elly isn’t lying about feeling overwhelmed just to make his life bad, he is capable of seeing that April felt as if she had no control over anything. It would just take the right words to get the point across. Words like “When did you ever not have control?” and “Why do you hate me?” 

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As you already know, the reason that I love what I call Lynnsights is Lynn's habit of cheerfully revealing incredibly damaging information about herself that tends to confirm any sort of suspicion that she's a fairly horrible person. We're about to be reminded of just how proud she is of being a nasty human being when she makes a whole lot of defensive noise about how hating haters who hate get all defensive and snippy over what she calls nothing: John insisting on his absolute right as Mike's father to expose the boy to the humiliation of being publicly exposed. Just as she saw no real problem with terrorizing her kid brother so she could laugh at his confusion and terror, Lynn seems to see nothing in the least wrong with John traumatizing Mike so he can be reminded that dignity is for those who can defend it. To her, it's hilarious to see the weak insist on being treated with any sort of fairness because only those who can fight back deserve it.

This, I think, is most of what made the Housening such a revolting display. April's feelings of betrayal, confusion and terror were not to be thought of as invitations to pity her but as a means of inspiring indulgent laughter at her expense because it's just a kid getting hurt and not someone who can fight back and win. John's smirking refusal to realize that her feelings are no laughing matter are the culmination of a life wasted following the hatefully anti-human delusion that if other people's noses happen to get in the way when he swings his arm, that's their fault and if people come in and tell him different, they're the ones being unrealistic.
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We're about to see what really makes John's telling his family that they should simply let his hateful comments about them slide because it's 'foolish' to to insist that he consider their feelings before he opens his fat bazoo. This is because we're about a year or so away from his stupidly dropping a twenty-five pound turkey on his foot. We all know that if it had been Elly who'd wound up injured, his whining about having to do for himself would be interspersed with asinine jokes at her expense and about the only time he'd act like a man and sympathize would be under duress. As we're about to see, the merest suggestion that his own suffering is risible makes our hero quite angry. It also makes him act like Michael does when he cannot ride roughshod over Lizzie. As a matter of fact, Dorko spends the next two months acting like a sullen eight year old because he happens to have injured himself getting a turkey that his family is probably still eating because it was too blasted big. Reminders from patients that they hurt as well are as effective at reminding Fathead that he's not the only person who's ever suffered discomfort as Elly's reminding him that she had to carry their children with pretty much no help and absolutely zero sympathy in that they do not work. A few months later, John is forced to retrieve Richard's potty from the Nichols house because the kid has shy bladder syndrome and reacts to the idea of urinating in an unfamiliar receptacle with something approaching sheer terror. Rather than shrug off the kid's problems and the B-and-E beef that he has to tapdance his way out of, Johnny Jumpup growls about the endless horror of the forgettable incident of his explaining himself to the Metro Toronto Police Service. What we can take away from this is that John judges the rightness of a situation by how it effects him. If his feelings are not hurt, no one else should feel hurt ever and if he gets dinged in the least degree, the world just might spin off its axis. This makes him a scoundrel, an egomaniac and a child.
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As we’ve seen, one of John’s few redeeming traits is that he’s not going to stand around inviting people to pray for world peace. That’s because he seems to share Elly’s rather nebulous religiosity. Instead of the cosmogony and theology of his low church ancestors, our lad has a groovy God ruling over a swell afterlife that more resembles the world as envisioned by George Lucas than that of Jerry Falwell. That being said, he’s not himself a groovy guy. He might have abandoned his belief in a deity that judges his actions but he never lost faith in the either-or mentality that holds the more hysterical of the god-botherers of the world in its sway. As we’ve seen, he doesn’t see the World as it is with its shades of grey. A world in which he can only be part-way right terrifies and angers him because of his belief in glittering, blinding whites and blacks which devour all light. We’re about to see this in a couple of weeks or so. Right in the here and now, our lad is telling Elly that she should simply roll with the punches but when it’s his turn to get kidded after he gets clocked over the head as the result of one of more annoying and ill-conceived acts of zit-brained childishness, he’s quite livid. It’s all quite simple to explain this when you remember that our hero seems to see himself as fighting for his worthless life to be in control of his surroundings. Either he can have the unquestioned obedience of those around him or he is utterly impotent and helplessly dependent on others. The notion that there are situations where he does not have to enforce his will, where he has to abandon a display of power to preserve its essence are alien to his need to think in extremes. Simply put, the man is a religious fanatic whose deity is himself.

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The reason that I mentioned all of that yesterday is that we’re about to be reminded of something rather annoying about John. Quite simply, he doesn’t seem to see that the feelings of those around him matter. His response to Elly’s pointing out exactly how hurt she is by his implication that she’s lazy, stupid and worthless is to dismissively tell her to just sit there and take verbal abuse. This is part of a long-standing pattern of bad behaviour on his part in which he struts around thinking that his family has the inconvenient and silly habit of getting worked up over nothing. After all, it isn’t his feelings that are getting hurt so he cannot allow himself to see the problem.

The predictable side effect of this inability to see that other people’s feelings matter just as much as his own is that when John is the butt of jokes, the same clod who can’t see why Lizzie was so sensitive about his ‘harmless’ teasing is filled with fury. The look on his face spells out what’s on his mind. Quite simply, he is both enraged and baffled by the fact that he, John Patterson, had his dignity take a hit and his feelings wounded. Can’t the awful people around him see that that cannot be allowed to happen?

The reason, of course, that he cannot put himself in the shoes of those he mocks is that by doing so, he’d have to admit that he’s a jackass who exults in the suffering of others. He and his fellow moral monster Mike can look at other horrible people and say that they have no right to be so cavalier with the feelings of those around them but, as we’ve seen, point to some sort of arbitrary and ridiculous non-event as an excuse for not being ‘muzzled’.

As I’ve said before, the two of them think that there is some sort of awful conspiracy concocted by simply terrible people to keep them from expressing themselves. An adult knows that you just can’t pop off and say the first thing that comes out of your mouth because other people have feelings; wide boys like Mike and John think that decorum is a synonym for castration because they never outgrew the need to say what they want to when they want to no matter what it does to others. This would be bad enough were it not for the fact that the ‘tragedies’ they claim give them licence to be idiots are so stupid. In both cases, two stupid, greedy children are still squealing in outrage because they think that they should have been allowed to have final say over having a younger sibling.

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As the retcons and the strip itself teach us, John has no real use for any literature that isn't some form or another of an instruction manual. The reason that he doesn't like to read novels is, as I've said before, the same one that makes essay questions into a horrible and unfair ordeal his sadistic teachers used to humiliate and confuse him. The reason that he thinks of Elly's interests as being impractical is, of course, his fear of having to devote any sort of thought into what he believes and why he believes it. To do that is to risk the shame and eternal humiliation of having to realize that some of the things that he believes to be universal truths are not fit to be believed and his need to shape his world accordingly has made an ugly fool of him. Reflection also places him in the dire peril of having to see that his pursuit of ludicrous, destructive and self-serving phantasms that he was wrong to ever have even considered have made his decisions witlessly arbitrary and himself to an insensitive ogre who delights in the cruelties he maliciously inflicts thereby putting him in the terrifying position of having to apologize to people. Since he's as smart as a sack of hair, he assumes that if he apologizes, he won't be allowed to stop.

Since he'd rather not admit that having to ask himself why he believes what he believes and if what he believes is worth believing in terrifies him, he dismisses the whole scary phenomenon as being impractical and people who write fiction as pretty much making their money doing nothing much at all. It is thus that he tends to be a lot more fatherly to Gordon Mayes who works with machines and is thus sensible than to Mike who somehow or other isn't quite manly enough to work with engines like he should.

This unbelievable belief is as misguided and silly as all of the other delusions that bedizen the fatuous clot. Gordon, as a for instance, isn't animated by the same need John and Mike share to demean people to show them who's boss nor does he tell people that they need to lose the bothersome tendency to resent being called names. He also doesn't call the need to think of the feelings of those around him before opening his fat yap 'being muzzled' because he's not a spoiled brat. Since John sees things on a very superficial level, he can't see that Mike is far more like him that Gordon.
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As we know, John has a very hard time interacting with his children because he shares the counterproductive and stupid belief that if he and his children have the least bit of a difference of opinion, the offsprings are arguing with them and must be punished for defiance. We also know that the two dimwitted yuppie jackholes either grumble about being misunderstood by meddling outsiders or reveal their true colors when they scream and yelp about how they've been backed into a corner by the unstoppable menace that is a bunch of placid children who use their free will to see the world the way they see it, not how their parents wish they would.

We also remember that John shares with Elly a default mistrust in the honesty of his children. Somewhere along the way, the collection of folk beliefs, misapprehensions and self-serving shibboleths that comprise what he oh-so-charitably refers to as a mind wound up containing the concepts "Children can't be trusted to see the world properly" and "children are only truthful when they're in pain". This, along with his refusal to see that he's a self-serving, oblivious, heartless, boorish, foul-tempered, callous, bullying piece of crap, tends to make him a brute of a father who thinks that he's respected rather than feared. Quite simply, he can't remember any occasion in which he might have been in the wrong let alone have anything to apologize for. Where Elly can look back and allow herself to admit that just possibly her life would have been easier if she didn't behave as if her children were trying to destroy her, the rat bastard idiot she married is sort of smug about his legacy of cheap shots, deceit and threats.

The fun thing is that this idiot thinks that while other parents have made horrible mistakes and should atone to their kids for acting like they were under the gun when they clearly weren't, we ended the strip without his ever having realized that he's got a lot of crap to live down. Given that Jim and he are a lot alike and Jim turned out okay in the end, there is a fairly good chance that the same man who eventually realized that Elly might just have a point about how housework is an overwhelming burden might figure out that he could have handled things better when his children were smaller.

The way I see it happening is that sooner or later, he's going to blunder into a mild difference of opinion that's quickly escalating into a pointless screaming match. Michael will have it in his fat head that one thing happened, Meredith will say quite another and, since Mike has internalized John's self-serving belief that "disagreement is defiance", what could have been a non-event is quickly mutating into Michael losing his shit because his child doesn't admit that because Daddy says it, two plus two is five. Let's also say as a for instance that John saw what happened and that it happened the way Meredith said it did, not in the way that would allow Mike to win all the time. Hearing his own arguments used to steamroll a child into admitting that she's a bad kid because Daddy has to be right all the time or the world will spin off its axis coming from the child he used to spar with might just give John pause to reflect.

Should this happen, we'd have him realize "CHEE! Mike looked as if he thought admitting that Meredith was right would mean that he could never be right again. That's weird; it's almost as weird as how he can't seem to allow himself to be laughed at. I wonder why the expression on his face looked so familiar, though. Maybe if I were to look at some old photos and home movies, I could figure out how he got to thinking something that freaking dumb."  Given that at that point in his life, the pressures he wasn't handling well and displaced onto his family would have abated, he wouldn't be able to view the events he saw through the distorting lens of panic and see someone who shared something with his wife: a need to blow things out of proportion because he seemed to have thought that he was alone in feeling inadequate.

Since it isn't in him to run around like the Ancient Mariner on the rare occasions when he realizes that he's responsible for the mess his life is, we can probably look forward to Mike, Deanna, Liz and Anthony having to contend with what they see as an old fart undermining their attempts to establish order and what everyone else would see as another old dude who was trying to make up for bad parenting by being a voice of reason.
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We've had a fair amount of fun over the last week comparing Elly to the dimwitted hero of the British scare-em-straight flick Apaches. The problem with blaming just her for the horrifying series of near-misses that plague the strip's history is that she has a lot of help being stupid. That help wears glasses and thinks that the people around him have no sense of humor because they want to be treated with the same dignity he aggressively insists on. The reason for John's turning a blind eye to his wife's imbecile recklessness is that he tends to rely overly much on Elly's interpretation of events when it comes to the children.

The example that best demonstrates this tendency is the infamous "I-quit-motherhood" incident. Like any interaction with her children, it can be broken down into distinct phases:

  • Phase One: Elly makes a self-serving and silly request that reminds us that she has no idea who her children are or what they want out life. Given that she has the belief that finding out means that they win and she gets humiliated, anyone with foresight would realize that she won't even come close to getting the results she wants.
  • Phase Two: Elly has a temper fit like the idiot she is the instant she doesn't get the result she wants.
  • Phase Three: She shares her warped interpretation of events with John.
  • Phase Four: John's simplistic moral viewpoint and hatred of nuance translates "mild disagreement" into "hateful act of defiance that must be quashed lest Civilization itself die".
  • Phase Five: John makes an ugly and vicious fool of himself because he's too stupid and stubborn to ask himself the question "Is Elly making a mountain out of a molehill again?"

As we've seen, he cannot ask himself this question because when adults and children tell two different stories about the same event, he will not ever believe the child. Children, it would seem, owe their parents absolute obedience. If this means that they have to say what they know to not be true, that is the price John says they have to pay. Let's examine how this affected the whole Farleygate thing.

It doesn't take a genius to realize that Elly thought that she had fixed the problem by telling April to ask a nebulous 'someone' if she could leave the property and told John so. What this means is that instead of realizing that Elly didn't do a damned thing to prevent this, the conclusion he first came to was that April had disobeyed Elly. After Elly had started talking about toppling and how nothing at all could have been done to prevent anything, that became what he believed. Nowhere in the process did it ever occur to him that merely because Elly had given birth to three children, it didn't automatically make her a competent parent. Most people would look at Elly, channel Guru Larry and make profane commentary about her hapless stupidity; rigid idiot John believes in a maternal instinct that doesn't exist and makes an ass of himself.
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Remember how I said that the trip to whatever destination John and Elly dragged their kids to was marred by a smug failure to empathize with their needs? It doesn't take too much thinking to realize that when they arrive, the two of them are just as unwilling to see the world as Mike, Lizzie and April do. The idea seems to be that since John and Elly are having a fine old time catching up with relatives and talking about the old days and pursuing their own interests, the fact that their children are not must mean that there is something wrong with them. This year's trip will serve as an example of what I'm talking about. Just as they thought that camping and visiting Jim and Marian would magically make the kids wonderful, John and Elly suffer from the delusion that exposure to farm life will miraculously eradicate the pesky free will that the two of them so clearly hate to see. Since the children are bored by having to do chores someplace else, irritated by a carping jerk of a cousin and can't wait to get back home to be with the friends who they are sure are having a better time in the city than they are with old people who call them spoiled, rotten and lazy, it clearly must be that there's something about them that makes them evil.

Contrast the horrible time the children have traveling with their imbecile parents with the pleasant experience Mike has traveling to Vancouver by himself. He's accompanied on the plane by someone who doesn't freak the Hell out when he asks something, isn't accused of trying to torment anyone and has a pleasant time with his grandparents owing to the absence of self-absorbed idiot parents who want to teach him that parenthood is a loan that needs to be paid back at usurious rates of interest. It sort of becomes clear from that arc which cylinders are not firing: the grumbling moron in the goggles mentally undressing the flight attendant and the frazzled hysteric in the ponytail squealing about being disgraced.
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As we know, John and Elly love to come up with stupid excuses about why it is that they cannot take their children on vacations in the sun while ignoring the very real issue of the children having to attend school while Mommy and Daddy have a fun time where it’s warm. Most of the stupid excuses rotate around the fact that traveling with children leads inevitably to John and Elly being publicly humiliated. We’re soon coming up to yet another example of this tendency. Since it is so typical, it can be thought of as an example of what I call the Patterson Family Trip Cycle. This pattern of theirs is an otherwise-preventable catastrophe that cannot be avoided due to defects in John and Elly’s personality. If you’ll indulge me, I’ll demonstrate what I mean by telling you which flaws come into play at each stage:

  • Failure to anticipate the needs of children: We first start with the John being talked into buying the children gaudily coloured plastic space guns at the duty-free shop. The reason he gave Elly was that he needed them to keep them quiet. The reason that he needed to keep the kids quiet was that he was too stupid to allow them to take a toy with them to distract them from the boredom of having to sit for hours on end in an airport terminal. This seems to be not only due to a failure of the imagination on John and Elly’s part but, as I have said in the past, to a fear that by allowing the children to have a toy with them, they’ve become their children’s slaves.
  • Failure to allow for complications: You would have thought that if he had to buy a toy, John would have gotten the kids planes so they could play Top Gun or something. He didn’t because of his foolish assumption that everything will go exactly right. This, just as with the cabin and the train, comes back to haunt him.
  • Failure to anticipate how they look to others: This is because during the baggage loading process, they’re held up by a security guard who makes a lot of public noise about how Mike and Lizzie are clearly trying to hijack the plane with their toy guns. When the guy’s boss tells him that he’s being an idiot, the guard talks about how shifty and untrustworthy John and Elly look. This tells me that if John and Elly didn’t look like they were trying to get away with something all the time, the man would have been all smiles as he told the kids to put the guns away; instead, he thought that he was dealing with a pair of idiots trying to smuggle something or other because they looked guilty.
  • Inflated sense of humiliation: Since the Pattersons’ tendency to be hateful wiseasses is a defense mechanism meant to protect them from a world of people who want to laugh at them, they come away with the stupid delusion that everyone in the terminal is going to laugh and laugh at the non-event of two dumb people who got jammed up by a jobsworth at Gate 5. The idea that by dinnertime, the people who bore witness to their standing there looking mortified probably forgot all about them is not something that would appeal to them.
  • Blaming the children: The moral lesson John and Elly come away with from all of this is that their eeeeeeeevil children planned this to make Mommy and Daddy look foolish and lose money and be humiliated. This is owing to John and Elly being unable to admit to that anyone who isn’t them can make a good-faith mistake. When they screw up, they had the best of intentions; when other people drop the ball, it’s to further a master plan to destroy their authority and unleash a world of chaos.

Simply put, the children get cheated out of something nice and lied to because their parents are too stupid to allow for the fact that children are not grinning little dummies who only move and think when a parent wills it, too arrogant to allow for the fact that things will go wrong, too dumb and vain to laugh off their problems and too paranoid to admit that the kids weren’t screwing up on purpose. Eventually, this ends up nearly killing April; however, since adults can make good-faith mistakes, Elly cannot be asked to accept responsibility for being an improvident cretin.  

dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
I think that it's fairly safe to say that the only person in the world whose feelings John Patterson worries about are his own. We're about to be reminded that he thinks it's the height of comedy to compare his children to barnyard animals and that he thinks that Elly sits on her arse eating bon-bons. As the years go on, he makes one amazingly hurtful remark after another in smug complacency and, when confronted, either makes a dismissive remark about how people are needlessly sensitive or mewls piteously about being asked to consider the feelings of other people as if that is tantamount to being castrated. What's more, the merest hint that he too must be laughed at always enrages him.

This, of course, is owing to his refusal to consider the fact that other people's feelings really matter or entertain the notion that he is a mean-spirited, loutish, narcissistic jackass instead of the wonderful guy that he thinks he is. My guess is that Carrie Patterson is a lot like some of the more strident of the Get-A-Life battalion. What I've noticed is that his cutting remarks just wash over them as if they don't want to see how very repellent and churlish John really is. It makes a lot of sense that his mother just sat on her fat behind and just let the geyser of carbolic acid she calls a son spew his venom over everyone who couldn't fight back because boys will be boys.

I can say this in smug complacency of my own because he looks to me like the absurdity called a mama's boy. I can well imagine his every stupid move gushed over by a cooing mother as if he were the first boy to, as Lynn would so delicately phrase it, pop out of a gal's chute. This would explain his agitating habit of not thinking about things because it would appear that he was told not to. It would also explain why he thinks of Elly as a maid. Until he left home, women had been isolating him from the world his whole life so he needed to return to normality.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
The arc in which Mike gets fleeced by Gordon is, as I said, one of the first examples of his poor sales resistance, gullibity and lack of a head for money. Too bad for all of us that it's not the only thing that it's one of the first examples of. That's because when Elly does find out what happened, she insists on twisting the knife in in order to teach him something. It doesn't matter what happens, Elly simply has to get in the last word and that last word is "LOSER!!!"

This, I should think, has everything to do with the fact that she and John live in fear of their children. As I've said before, they seem to behave as if they show the least bit of what they perceive to be weakness, their children will be the bosses of them and they will not be allowed to own horses in order to make up for the cruel and unreasonable sacrifices of time, effort and money spent on raising the menacing, freeloading strangers who insist on making baffling demands on them. By shooting them down, by tearing them apart, by always saying the worst possible thing, they're heroes defending themselves against what they see as defiant monsters bent on unleashing chaos and what hating haters who hate (or, translated from Lynnglish to English, sane people who don't have their heads wedged up their sigmoid colons) see as two fearful bullies hobbling innocent children whose need for love and affection terrify them.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
You will, no doubt, have noticed that the male characters in the strip have something of an allergy to having to clean up after themselves. We have John and his "Chee!!! I got married so I wouldn't have to do so", Mike and his "I was proud of the dirt" and most of all, Phil acting as if being asked to grow up and start doing things for himself on the domestic front was the moral equivalent of being circumised with a motorized tree feller.

Lynn would have you believe that this is both innate and eternal. This is, of course, bullshit. A man can be trained to both shift for himself and want to do so. The military does it all the damned time so her idea that men aren't built to think domestically is so much junk. Mind you, the armed forces in the world have a bit of deprogramming to do on that score because of the real reason that men like John and Phil cannot think domestically: they have mothers who sabotage the women their sons marry by going "Let me do that, dear." Marian and Carrie call their need to hover over their cossetted little princelings "mother love". I call it "smashing an oar into Elly and Georgia's bellies."
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
If the reload lasts long enough, we're going to be watching John make an ass of himself dragging his feet about remodeling the kitchen in five years or so. The reason he gives is the expense and inconvenience of it all but I don't quite think that that's the case despite Lynn's best efforts to make it look as if he's great at spending money on toys for himself but crappy at pleasing Elly. It seems to me that the row Phil stupidly walked into by not renting a moving van like a sane, decent person points us all to the truth. The dumbass got into a pointless, divisive and ridiculous argument because he wanted to save money and be self-sufficient.

This, you see, is what made John drag his feet for so long. He didn't want to look like less of a man by having people come in and do something that he thinks that his fellows would expect that he could take care of easily. The problem, of course, is that John is a model builder first and foremost. He can be trusted with eyesore vandal-magnet train layouts, doll-houses and anything that human beings do not use. If the go-kart he didn't build strong enough for children to use is any indication, he's not to be trusted with anything a person could operate and must be shooed away or distracted with a non-job that would appeal to the dumb little kid in him.


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