The Horrors of Romanticizing Abuse and The Psychology of Harley Quinn

So… This is your idea romance, eh?
Source: BJA007 on Imgur

I’m going to try hammer this one out quickly on the grounds that, while it clearly needs to be said, it’s not something I enjoy talking about.

So, with the release (and subsequent lukewarm reception) of Suicide Squad, it seems that DC Fans have started clamoring about a topic that never fails to infuriate me whenever people start talking about it; the relationship between well-known Batman villains Harley Quinn and The Joker.

Nearly everyone I know has, at one point, said that they want a romance like these two. But here’s the rub – they often say this without realizing or even in spite of the fact that The Joker is an abusive and manipulative sociopath and Harley is most likely suffering from deep mental scars that extend far beyond even the damage he’s done.

For those not familiar with her backstory, Harley – real name; Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel (yes, the bubble-headed, bleach blonde, jester girl has a PhD) – was a graduate of Gotham State University where she excelled in Gymnastics and Psychology. After finally getting a job at Arkham Asylum and eager to start analyzing their most notorious super-criminals, she found herself locked in a battle of wits and egos with The Joker that ended with him seducing her to aid his escape on multiple occasions and eventually to join up as his most frequent collaborator.

But here’s the thing, The Joker is largely incapable of returning that love. If he has any love in his heart, it’s for the pain and chaos he causes. The closest he can be said to have come to loving a human being is his obsession with Batman. And that love for inflicting pain and disregard for human life is shown in the way he routinely scolds and beats Harley. For god’s sake, he threw her out of a 3-story window!

What’s more, Harley’s behavior is supported by psychology. There are the obvious implications of Stockholm Syndrome, but even her slowly growing to believe she could identify with Joker is supported by science. While working in Arkham, she clearly spent enough time with him for Emotional Contagion – the tendency for humans to subconsciously imitate the emotions of others – to set in. With enough time under her skin, it was only a matter of time before Shared Psychotic Disorder (also known as Folie à deux or ‘madness of two’) took hold and she started emulating his Anti-Social Personality Disorder under the delusion of romance.

So, are we clear here? Harley and Joker are not romantic; they are sick. Harley needs counseling to deal with her years of abuse and Joker needs to be placed in solitary confinement. When you say you want a love like theirs, you aren’t being Bonnie with Clyde (which would be bad enough) – you’re being one of those weirdos that send love letters to serial killers.

Seriously, the best thing that Injustice: Gods Among Us ever did was give us the moment that the comics took forever to do; having Harley figuratively nail Chuckles the Ass-Clown to the F***ING wall.

Rejected Princesses: The Blog For People Who Think Disney Princesses Are Too Soft

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.”
Source: Rejected Princesses

There are two truths of the universe that this blog illustrates consistently and without fail; I love to support worthy talents that I feel don’t get enough attention and I F***ING hate the Disney Princess model of storytelling.

To that end, I thank Jason Porath for doing what he does over at Rejected Princesses.

For the uninitiated, Jason was a former visual effects animator for Dreamworks (THE “anti-Disney” in their own right). But the one-off conversation he had with his friends asking who was the least likely historical/mythological figure to be selected as a Disney Princess style heroine in a children’s movie inspired him to flaunt his illustrating and writing skills as well.

What’s funny is that Jason – a white, straight man from Kentucky with no background in history or drawing (his major in college was Film Theory) – seems to realize that he’s the least likely person to be spearheading a multicultural, historical, feminist art blog that has gone viral. However, I would argue how that just proves that anyone can have a worthy voice and extraordinary talent.

So, what about the blog itself? Basically, Jason has taken notes on THOUSANDS of famous women from history, legend, and myth that he feels would be deemed by studios as, “too awesome, awful, or offbeat for kids’ movies.” He then proceeds to gather information from various credible sources, illustrate them in a Disney-esque style that he feels reflects both their real-life appearance and personality/story, and shares their tale with the world – recently in the form of full comics.

I think my favorite tale was his take on the bitter-sweet life of Lyudmila Pavlichenko; the ‘Lady Death’ of Russia during World War II and holder of the title of the world’s deadliest female sniper (309 confirmed kills by the age of 25). Jason’s rendition of her story shows a woman’s dark descent into bitter hatred only to be saved by one kind soul – in this case, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

One of the nice features of Jason’s site is how he included collapsible footnotes between panels of the comics. This allows the reader to get the full story without cluttering the page with asterisks or simply enjoy the epic tale of a princess escaping her imprisonment only to come back with an army without fretting over the history.

Of course, he also has a humorous side to him and does less history driven comics with a more comedic bent to them.

Naturally, this is the point where I urge you to support his work and there’s no shortage of ways to do this. He sells prints of his work on Redbubble and his official Rejected Princesses book is available for autographed pre-order. So the next thing you should probably do is buy them lest you face a beheading from Lady Ching for your cheapskate antics.

One-Hit Wonderful: Part Three – The Bands Play On

So, with the modest resurgence of one of my childhood favorites in the music business with Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ “Dark Necessities”, I’ve – once again – found myself digging back through the old catalog of my favorite songs of yesteryear. In doing so, I’ve uncovered more one-hit wonders that deserved better.

So, let’s go for the hat trick and take a look at three more underrated classics from pop music’s past.

Semisonic – “Chemistry”

Awhile back, I briefly talked about how Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson wrote and produced Adele’s best work. That said, he and his band still did great stuff on their own beyond “Closing Time”. Oh, it was an important milestone for indie music for my generation, but there was so much more.

Their third studio album, “All About Chemistry”, was much more mature yet playful (read: had a lot more coded sex talk) than previous outings. Most of the time, it was trying to sneak helpful lessons about safe and healthy sex for the teens that were buying up their music at the time. For example, “Get A Grip” was a silly, light-hearted story about how healthy and normal regular masturbation is.

However, it was the title track “Chemistry” that sticks with me. It’s a tale about playing the field (experimenting, to use the chemistry analogy) to find the one that won’t burn you out or hurt you. That’s an important lesson considering how many unhappy relationships we see due to people staying together for the sake of some outdated idea of what faithfulness should be.

If people aren’t adding to your happiness, they shouldn’t occupy space (or at least AS MUCH space) in your life. It’s only going to make you both miserable. That’s the moral to take away from this little number.

Dexy’s Midnight Runners – “Jackie Wilson Said”

As great as the hit song “Come On Eileen” is, I feel the message of youthful abandon in the face of darker times was lost on most listeners… mostly because we had difficulty understanding the lyrics.

However, if you were already familiar with Van Morrison, you didn’t have to guess what their cover of “Jackie Wilson Said” was saying; you already knew.

See, Dexy’s – like other acts born from the U.K.’s Northern Soul movement – was heavily influenced by lesser known or sadly forgotten American Soul artists. Here, they fly their colors proudly by directly referencing a great name from Soul’s past.

Add to that how the vocals are – in my humble opinion – much better than those of Van Morrison’s original, and you have the makings of an undervalued gem.

Deee-Lite – “Picnic In The Summertime”

Did I mention how much I F***ING LOVE Deee-Lite?

But damn, if you thought “Power Of Love” was a departure from the norm for Deee-Lite, “Picnic In The Summertime” is a whole different beast altogether.

There’s no deep message or meaning here; it’s just a really happy song about enjoying the little joys of life set to a more urban sound than what they traditionally were used to.

Honestly, I respect the decision to experiment with a new sound every now and again. It keeps things fresh and interesting. It’s just a shame that the public at large wasn’t more receptive at the time.

Why We Happy Few Is The First Horror Game To Actually Horrify Me

Just a quickie to make up for technical issues yesterday. :D

Sad to say that I’ve been financially strapped lately. So, with fewer resources to dedicate to my sanity-maintaining hobbies and this year being more stressful than most (thanks for THAT, Brexit and 2016 election year), I’ve been focusing more on the trailers for the movies and games I can’t see/play just yet in anticipation.

That’s when I stumbled upon this little gem that flew under my radar.

We Happy Few is a survival horror game set in a dystopian 1960’s Britain where the Big Brother-Esque figure known as Uncle Jack uses aggressive marketing and even more aggressive law enforcement to force the citizens into staying high a flying squirrel on a euphoria-inducing psychoactive drug called ‘Joy’ in order to force others to forget their painful pasts and remain willfully ignorant of the real terrors around them.

Of course, anyone caught skipping their Joy is labeled as a ‘Downer’ and will be hunted down by police and citizens alike. Basically, think the classic Doctor Who episode The Happiness Patrol (complete with criticism of Thatcher-Era politics) with significantly fewer candy-coated cyborgs.

Now, I have a history with survival horror as a genre as they seem to do neither very well these days. You aren’t exactly struggling for survival when you’re armed like a space marine and the jump scares lose their edge after the 50th time. In We Happy Few, however, you’re essentially forced to walk among the very monsters that want you dead; creating a truly unnerving experience.

What’s more, it’s an experience that many of us can relate to. I have many close friends who suffer from social anxiety. I can only imagine that a game like this captures the feeling of being trapped among ‘normal’ people; feeling like the outsider that nobody wants and that everyone hates.

This game also touches a nerve for those who suffer from depression. Some days, you almost wish you could pop a pill that made you forget all of your pain. But then you have to realize that the comfortable lie may be even more dangerous than the harsh truth and that disillusioning yourself may just leave you more vulnerable.

I love good horror in all of its many forms because it forces me to face the ugliest sides of the world and arms people with the cold, hard truth. But, in terms of games, this may be the first and only horror game to truly fill me with dread.

Of course, I’m saying all of this before I’ve had the chance to play it. But given what I’ve heard so far, I’m clearly not alone in thinking this.

And let us never forget the moral of this game’s story; the tired meme of, “keep calm and carry on” is a crock. DON’T keep calm; your world is being run by liars, megalomaniacs, and sociopaths.

Archive News: Technical Difficulties

So, my computer has decided to give me the finger this morning. As soon as I get it working again, I’ll be back on schedule. Until then, I wouldn’t expect a new article this week.

If things get sorted out expediently, I may try to post later. But, i really do need something better than a smartphone to work on this stuff proper. Sorry for the delay.

Crucial Advice in Matters of Love (and Why The Agent Is Asexual)

The J. Geils Band was not entirely right; Love only stinks if you don’t talk about it.
Source: ottmag.com

Lately, it seems that multiple key figures in my life have been having difficulties in their romantic lives (no names given to protect the innocent) and this troubles me. Not so much because their problems involve me directly, but because I care about them all and don’t want to see them hurt. I have a very ‘big brother’ instinct to want to punch anything that makes people cry.

However, after these problems blew over (or at the very least stabilized themselves), I noticed that they all have the same common problem; they were non-traditional relationships where all parties involved failed to communicate to each other.

Now, I’m not going to say that these so-called alternative relationships are bad or destructive. I’ve seen plenty healthy relationships work out with multiple partners and partners of the same sex. Hell, often they have whole families of their own that are more stable than the average traditional family.

I think the problem here is that the times have changed. Alternative lifestyles are more accepted than ever before. As a result, new people are indulging their curiosities. And that’s perfectly fine, but they’re often so eager to dive in that they disregard forming that mutual understanding with their partner/partners.

I cannot stress enough how important talking to each other is. Don’t wait until it becomes an issue to discuss it either; nip any potential problems in the bud now. Talk about each other’s needs, other partners if you’re interested, and even the small stuff like music and mood lighting.

And don’t give me the diatribe of, “but a relationship is supposed to an adventure. You need to figure things out for yourself.” F*** that noise. That’s why I broke up with my first ex-girlfriend.

Incidentally, that’s also why I make it clearly and openly known that I’m asexual. I owe it to anyone that may have an interest in me that there are just some things I have no desire to get involved in up front.

As for why that is, It’s not that I don’t feel romantic inclinations towards others; far from it. In fact, it’s not uncommon for my heart to be caught several times a day. I simply have no room for the sexual aspects of traditional relationships in my life.

For one, I’m far too busy to concern myself with sex. I have a day job to pay bills, a passion project that I’m trying to make into a business, multiple hobbies to maintain my mental health, and the full list of chores to do around the house. Even if I did care about it, I doubt I could adequately dedicate myself to it to my partner’s satisfaction.

Then there’s the aftermath of sex; parenthood and STD’s. Contraception isn’t infallible, after all. “What if something happens? Can I be a father? What if they get diagnosed with something after?” Given my mind’s tendency to race with uncontrolled thought, it’s a miracle that these thoughts haven’t led to castration yet.

That said, I recognise that sex is a need that others need to fill. So I don’t judge and I communicate MY needs to any one that’s interested until I find the right person (or persons – who knows what may happen?) with the needs to match. And really, that’s all any of us can do.

The Agent’s Quest for Financial Independence (or ‘What Would You Pay For This Crap?’)

The life of a creator is rewarding… Just not always in a way that benefits the wallet.
Source: Thought Catalog

Let me be on the level with all of you right now. I really love writing like this every week. In fact, I wish I could make it my full-time job. But in order to do that, I need some help from you.

You see, I’m not the kind of person that can be resigned to being a janitor for the rest of their life and I really don’t want to try. So, for the last few weeks, I’ve been puzzling over how to make The Archive better and turn it into my own proper business.

Why am I telling you this? Because this just as much for you as it is me and I want to know how to make my work the best it can be. To that end, I’m asking you – the regular readers – for assistance in helping me.

Here’s what I’ve been kicking around in my head so far and how you can help.

Ad Revenue

I know that no one likes ads. They’re intrusive, ugly, and ruin perfectly good visual design. But, they’re probably the easiest money available to me right now.

I’ve already agreed to let WordPress run ads on the site, but I’ve yet to see a return from it so far. So I need you to help me out on this end.

Firstly, if you use an ad blocker, be sure to whitelist this page. I get that it’s a security measure for the more seedy parts of the internet that hide malicious viruses in their ads, but it hurts legitimate content creators. In fact, be sure to check your frequently visited sites that you have confirmed safe and make sure you whitelist them too.

Next, if you haven’t already, be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and share my posts via those channels. I get a lot of views and likes on them which is very encouraging, but sharing/retweeting ensures that others will see it as well and draw more fresh faces to The Archive. Word of mouth is a powerful force as we’ve seen in recent months.

Patreon

I have been tinkering around with the idea of a Patreon campaign or similar monthly subscription service to help fund me. The problem that’s keeping me from following through with this though is that I want to give some kind of reward to supporters and I’m at a loss as to what that should be.

If you’re someone that would like to support a Patreon  page for The Archive, please let me know how much you would be willing to pay and what rewards you’d like to see be made available. I want to be able to give back to the people that make this project such a labor of love and only you can tell me what a fair price would be.

YouTube

Let’s be honest; written media is dying. Nobody enjoys dragging their eye across text when they could have bright flashy pictures to look at and/or pretty noises to entertain them.

I’ve been wanting to break into videos on YouTube for some time now. However, technical limitations have prevented me from doing so at the level of quality I’d like to see. Right now, if I went out and bought a microphone today, the only thing I could produce is *shudder* ‘Commentary Videos.’

Still, if you have no problem with that, let me know. You could always just put me on in the background while you type up your third quarter spreadsheets or something. I would, of course, be working on increasing the budget for them and getting away from the Commentary genre as time went on.

Your Suggestions

I’m sure I’ve missed some obvious ideas somewhere, but that’s why I’m consulting you. Let me know if there’s something you’d like to see here or a change in focus you’d recommend.

Remember, I do this for you as much as me and I want to feel like I’m giving something back to you for your love. So, let me know what form that love should take.