Archive for the ‘incredibly random’ Tag

Literally no one asked me to overanalyze Avril Lavigne’s early work   Leave a comment

In 2001, the film Josie and the Pussycats was released. It was part of the trend of adapting old TV shows to movies. In the movie, Josie, Valerie, and Melody are aspiring pop stars called “The Pussycats”. When the biggest boy band in the world, Du Jour, all disappear in a plane crash, the trio are plucked off the street by a desperate studio head. In the end, it turns out that all pop music that exists has subliminal music telling your subconscious to buy new clothes and eat McDonalds. It was a pretty dumb movie.


This song makes it all worth it somehow.

Someone online pointed out that the movie predicted the rise of female power pop artists, and that said rise would replace boy bands.

In 2002, Avril Lavigne released her first album, and she was unleashed onto the world. For those of us who rejected the mainstream, studio-generated, wholesome bubblegum pop, she and her ilk were the perfect alternative.


Not that pop-punk didn’t have its share of interchangeability, no sir.

They were angry and they wore terrible clothes terribly because they were real artists, not just models reciting generic love songs written by five people at studio headquarters.

avril lavigne songwriter

Her first big hit was probably Sk8tr Boi. It was about a preppy girl and a skater boy who are totally into each other.

He wanted her.
She’d never tell.
Secretly she wanted him as well.
And all of her friends stuck up their nose.
They had a problem with his baggy clothes.

He was a skater boy.
She said, “See ya later, boy.”
He wasn’t good enough for her.
She had a pretty face but her head was up in space.
She needed to come back down to earth.

So the preppy girl was a bad person for listening to her friends and being high-and mighty in her social status. That’s not how it works in the real world! Don’t we all relate to this feeling, being rejected by the popular people? Later in the song, Lavigne crows:

Sorry, girl, but you missed out.
Well, tough luck, that boy’s mine now.
We are more than just good friends.
This is how the story ends.

…I’m with the skater boy.
I said, “See ya later, boy.”
I’ll be backstage after the show.
I’ll be at the studio singing the song we wrote
About a girl you used to know.

She even brags, “Too bad that you couldn’t see/ See that man that boy could be/ There is more than meets the eye/ I see the soul that is inside.” Because, you see, this girl is so shallow! Not like Avril Lavigne! Are you shallow? Or are you like Avril Lavigne? “Does your pretty face see what he’s worth?” Avril Lavigne mocks.

One of the most-remembered parts of the song is probably the opening (He was a boy, she was a girl, can I make it any more obvious?) but I think that a key part to the subtext is in the next line:

He was a punk
She did ballet

Mrs. Pancakes is unknowable - Imgur
Image source:[x]

She does ballet. The girl does ballet. Now, in elementary school, maybe being into ballet is rather girly — lots of girls do it, they dream of being pretty princess ballerinas in poofy pink tutus. But I had a friend in high school who did ballet, and let me tell you. It’s hard to balance school, friends, and ballet. You’re always tired. You’re not left with a whole lot of time. Certainly not enough to pursue a relationship outside of your immediate friends group. But Avril Lavigne only knows her boyfriend’s side of the story.

The other big single on that album, Complicated, did take a kinder view to finding relationships outside of your immediate social group. But that’s not saying much.

Somebody else ’round everyone else
You’re watching your back like you can’t relax
You’re tryin’ to be cool
You look like a fool to me

…I mean, relatively speaking. After all, Avril Lavigne is one of the guys. That’s her persona. Check out the music video for this.

avril lavigne complicated

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avril lavigne complicated 9

She is literally surrounded by her dudes at all time, equally active in aggressive, boy activities. She’s even specifically shown rejecting femininity by straight-up attacking it:

avril lavigne complicated 5

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Except that she’s not one of the boys. She’s singled out by her damned womanhood. They do things with her that they wouldn’t do to their fellow dudes. They put on a fashion show for her, trying on the outfits of different personas. When she teases them for it, they pick her up.

avril lavigne complicated 6

Like, they literally pick her up, playfully, because she’s a woman and they’re guys and they’re bigger than her and so they can and so it’s funny. As someone who has been picked up for similar reasons, it is funny! It’s fun to be picked up by big strong dudes! But, you know, guys don’t lift up other guys just because they can. It’s far too physical and, specifically, flirty.

That’s the dream of being One of the Boys, but it’s also the tragedy.

In 2007, Avril Lavigne released a single called Girlfriend. Some people have called it the end of the “punk” part of her career, and that’s not without reason.

avril lavigne girlfriend 1

She lost the iconic tie, her shirt is white, she has on a miniskirt and fishnets instead of the bulky cargo pants that were inexplicably popular in the early 2000s. It’s more than just the fact that her outfit changed significantly five years, though. The content of her song has changed too.

The early 2000s white adolescence was marked by a culture war between “preps” and “punks”. I referenced this even in the beginning of this essay. When I said, “For those of us who rejected the mainstream, studio-generated, wholesome bubblegum pop”, what I meant was, “For those of us who were punks.” There was an alternative, geeks, and their neutrality eventually rose to supremacy above preps and punks. But for the first few years of the twenty-first century, everyone had to be either punk or a prep.

A large part of this culture was the assumption that preps were on top. It was assumed that they had money and popularity, that they wore the right clothes and listened to acceptable music and that adults would listen to them because of their perceived goodness. We all knew they were secretly terrible, cruel bullies to punks, lording over us with their ill-gotten power. So punks had to wear terrible clothing and listen to terrible music, because it was real and cool.

That paragon of great literature, My Immortal, has a great example:

A fucking prep called Britney from Griffindoor was standing next to us. She was wearing a pink mini and a Hilary Duff t-shirt so we put up our middle fingers at her.

Avril Lavigne’s One of the Boys persona fitted this attitude perfectly. But with Girlfriend, she flipped that on her head: the punk was outright stealing another girl’s boyfriend.

She’s like so, whatever
You could do so much better
I think we should get together now
(And that’s what everyone’s talkin’ about)

Over the course of the video, Avril:

Flirts with her boyfriend in front of her:

avril lavigne girlfriend 3

Knocks her go-kart off the track:

avril lavigne girlfriend 4

(I just want to point this out)

avril lavigne girlfriend 6

avril lavigne complicated 8

Snatches her out of a photobooth so she can take pictures with the boy:

avril lavigne girlfriend 7

Steals the giant churro just before they finished eating it (just before kissy times ensue):

avril lavigne girlfriend 8

Whacks her in the head with a golf ball:

avril lavigne girlfriend 9

She actually hits her hard enough in the head that she loses her balance, stumbles, and falls over. That’s a pretty mighty hit.

Then, in the resulting confusion, Avril finds the boyfriend and finally steals him.

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Upon finding them, the girlfriend charges them, but then trips and falls into a porta-potty, where she screams in impotency.

Avril’s antagonist is an interesting character. She’s also played by Avril Lavigne, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen her play a not-Avril.

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In each skit, the first few seconds always shows Boyfriend and Girlfriend doing their dating thing. They actually seem to like each other. He’s always smiling at her. She can sucker him into doing what she wants. They go out and do all these cool things (go-karting, golfing, eating giant churros), and they do them just the two of them, so clearly they enjoy each other’s company. Visibly they’re a completely mis-match, because she’s wearing pink and plaid and he’s wearing black and white, but if they were wearing similar colors they would probably look fine together.


*coughs*

avril lavigne girlfriend 12

It’s only when Avril Classic enters the picture that trouble enters paradise. Which means that the protagonist is the villain of the story. We can’t trust Avril Classic or Avril Lite’s interpretation of the story. So when the Boyfriend is shown smiling after Avril Classic steals the churro, kisses him, and runs, what does that mean? Is he just so easy-going that he’s just happy to be kissed? Or does he really, truly, want to date Avril Classic and not Girlfriend?

avril lavigne girlfriend 14

I find Girlfriend’s outfit fascinating. It’s a pink cardigan over a pink polo shirt, with a knee-length plaid skirt, knee-high socks, and black flats. It’s hideous. It’s disgusting.

It’s also totally, completely, 100% in. Not the colors, oh no, not by any stretch of the imagination. No one would mix that bright pink with that dark plaid. And the skirt is formless. But the schoolgirl style is in: part geek chic, part layered, equal parts classy and casual, it was especially popular in the mid-2000s, when this video was made.

Preps wear pink. Preps wear schoolgirl outfits. Despite our rejection of those atrocious colors, Girlfriend is meant to be a stereotype of a prep, seen through a pop-punk so pop-punk that she’s forgotten how to behave in social situations. The protagonist (the villain) shows her making snotty faces in her introduction, but why should we trust her interpretation?

avril lavigne girlfriend 13

I also find it really interesting that Avril is shown having female friends for the first time. In fact, in contrast to Complicated, Girlfriend features a lot of female faces. They also happily help Avril in her quest to torment Girlfriend.

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We see here again two Preps — note the schoolgirl/layered outfits, although less insanely colored this time. Avril and her friends intimidate them into the leaving the bathroom, breaking into their personal space and jumping at them until they leave. They don’t really do anything wrong, they’re just standing where Avril and her friends want to stand.

Pretty much the only male face that we see in this video is that of Boyfriend, who is more of an object than a character. He could very much be a Sexy Lamp Test fail. This video, unlike her earlier videos, takes place in Girl World. And it’s a nasty, vicious place, isn’t it? Boy World features inept mall cops and friends banding together to have a good time. Girl World has cat fights, personal vendettas, and concussions as conclusions to romantic drama. But it’s okay, because the punk beat the prep!

I spent my early teens in that mindset: punks vs. preps. When I see the writings of kids that age in these mid-2010s, I see the discussion focusing on gender and equality. Why should girl attack girl? Where is the boy’s consent in all this? The kids might not have the best vocabulary to think their arguments out entirely, but they can sense something wrong in this piece. Why should Avril get the boy just because they both wear black shirts?

That is why Avril’s last big hit was Girlfriend. The song was too far from the perspective that built her up. One of the Boys cannot live in Girl World.

Posted February 22, 2016 by agentksilver in writing

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Just imagine 8 getting more and more upset over the course of the conversation   Leave a comment

28: You know what? Look at all these Ill Girls, dispensing wisdom and such. I was an Ill Girl. I wonder if being that sick makes you as wise as they show in the movies. I’m going to go find out.

She goes to 8’s bedroom

28: Hey there. I’m you from the future.
8: Why is your hair red?
28: Because you decided that you look cuter with red hair.
8: When do I do that?
28: Oh, after you shave your head.
8: Why do I do that?
28: Because your head is so hot just all the time. It’s itchy. And it’s just, it’s so hot, and it hurts.
8: You’re right! Sometimes all I want to do is just shake my head back and forth but it hurts so much.
28: Don’t worry. Soon Mom and Dad will find you a good doctor, and that doctor will make you all better. But for now, since you’re sick, you’re much wiser than healthy people.
8: I am?
28: Yeah, like, Beth in Little Women, or Eva St. Clare in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or, like, lots of movies.
8: But in The Secret Garden, Colin was a brat, he wasn’t smart.
28: You’re right. Maybe it’s just girls. Hmm. Right, so I’m going to ask you some questions. You can answer them however you want. Just whatever comes off the top of your head. Alright?
8: Okay.
28: What is the meaning of life?
8: What?
28: What is the meaning of life?
8: Uh…
28: Anything. Anything at all. Okay, let’s go back to that one. Okay, how many road must a man walk down — that is a stupid question.
8: That’s a rhetorical question.
28: How…how do you know what a rhetorical question is, you’re eight.
8: Because I’m smart.
28: Like I said, that one is a stupid question. Okay, let’s go to the next one. When does life begin?
8: Life began four and a half billion years ago, when the earth cooled enough and amino acids started forming single-cell creatures.
28: Okay, wow, you aced that science test.
8: Hair is made of protein.
28: Yes, but, that’s not what the question is. Not when did life begin. When does life begin. You see, okay, Mom told you all about how babies are made. So the question is, when does the fetus become a baby, like, a living baby.
8: I was born premature.
28: Yeah, that caused a lot of your problems early in life. But like, at five weeks early, you could survive out of the womb. When is the earliest we can take the baby out of the mom and not be like, this is just a clump of cells, this can die.
8: I just finished reading the Giver and Mom says that Jonas and Gabe die at the end.
28: What do you think?
8: I don’t want them to die.
28: Well if it makes you feel better than they didn’t die. There’s some books that get published later. Jonas becomes the wise leader of a successful colony where everyone is free and he marries an awesome girl and Gabriel…
8: What happens to Gabriel? Does he die?
28: He becomes a very important messenger for the village. He’s very happy.
8: Does he die?
28: He uh. Yeah. He dies. It’s a stupid book though, I like to pretend it didn’t happen. You know what, let’s go back to — what’s the meaning of life?
8: But why does he die?
28: He sacrifices himself to cleanse the forest of the devil’s influence.
8: What?
28: I know, like, the theme of the first two books what totally that evil came from within. Introducing a devil character was so stupid.
8: But why does Gabe die?
28: Here’s a question, if there is no God, why are sunsets so beautiful?

8 bursts into tears

28: She didn’t answer any of my questions.

Posted January 30, 2016 by agentksilver in writing

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My thoughts as I fell asleep last night   Leave a comment

I’m not big into musical theatre, but one of my followers on tumblr is, and so I heard all about the big performance at the Tony Awards. That was Your Keys, and it was sung by a twelve-year-old girl, standing by herself on the big stage. At the Tony Awards. When all the other performances were big dance-crazy ensemble numbers. She nails it. It’s pretty impressive.

That little girl is playing a young Alison Bechdel. She’s singing about the moment she realized that she wanted to dress in a butch way. She’s sitting in a diner with her father, and she sees a woman dressed the way she wants to look. It’s a big moment.

There’s a concept in Christianity called Providence. The Pilgrims and other Puritans were big believers in it. It’s the opposite of Free Will — you have no choice in everything that you do. God has already decided everything. He’s even already decided if you’re going to heaven or not. Some people on this Earth are the Elect. They have been chosen to go to Heaven. They will always act in the most perfectly correct Christian way because God made them Elect and so they can’t sin. God would have decided if you had sinned or not.

In order to prove that you are the Elect, you always act in the most perfectly Christian way, because the Elect would never want to act any other way. And so you follow the harsh set of rules laid down by the Puritan lifestyle. It’s a very stressful way of life: in Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates, she mentions an anecdote about a woman drowning her children in a well, and coming out happier in the end. If she were the Elect, then she wouldn’t have killed her children, because that’s evil. But now she knew she wasn’t the Elect and so she knew she was going to Hell. It was a real load off her mind.

It’s a fascinating idea. It goes completely against everything that I believe — that we’re all stumbling through this life making it up as we go along. No one has any idea what they’re doing. If there is a God, then that God is too far away, taking care of an entire universe, to notice what we small individual people are doing.

Yet I find myself pondering Providence at random moments. What if everything is God’s plan? In that case, what were we put on this Earth to do?

This is the panel from Fun Home that inspired the Your Keys song. Look at that woman. Alison Bechdel clearly remembers, after all these years, what that butch woman looked like. Who was that woman? I’ve never seen nor read Fun Home so I have no idea if Alison Bechdel talks to her or finds out anything about her. But she made a big impact on her.

In this Providential way of thinking, if we have no free will, then what if the entire point of this woman’s life was to be seen dressed like that in that diner? That small moment, triggering an entire little girl’s life? That woman would have no way of knowing that. What if the entire point of entire people’s lives is to just be seen, briefly? What if you spend your entire life building up to one big moment — you finally win a big lawsuit or get your art put on display at some gallery or you take a big trip to see all seven continents — and in the end the entire point of your life was to hold the door open for someone when you were 23?

In case you’re wondering, yes, Alison Bechdel is a butch lesbian.

Stay in school, kids   Leave a comment

It’s the 1950s. Two COOL GIRLS are listening to some rock and roll. A third girl approaches.

Third Girl: What are you listening to? I’ve never heard of this sound before! It’s really h–ot
First Girl (interrupting): You weren’t going to say hot, were you?
Second Girl: That’s what our mothers say.
First Girl: Only old flapper girls trying to relive their childhoods say hot.
Second Girl: Only squares say hot.
Third Girl: No, I was going to say that it’s really…h…

She looks around in a panic, and sees them leaning on one leg, with their hands on their hips

Third Girl: …hip. It’s really hip.
Second Girl: What’s hip?
Third Girl: It’s better than chill. It’s better than cool. It’s not a temperature at all. It’s hip.

She shakes her booty. The Cool Girls gasp

First Girl: That’s so…
Second Girl: Hip.
First Girl: I know.

They all start dancing

Second Girl: Golly, it’s sure swell to rebel!

Posted May 30, 2015 by agentksilver in writing

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Random thought of the day   Leave a comment

I had a random thought coming home. I recently reread Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: the Invisible Art, a book about the philosophy and science of storytelling through comics. It’s told in graphic novel format, and it’s a really good read, if you’re interested in expression, art, or philosophy. Anyway, I specifically read the part about “closure.”

Even today, as I write and draw this panel, I have no guarantee that anything exists outside of what my five sense report to me. I’ve never been to Morocco, but I take it on faith that there is a Morocco!…All of us perceive the world as a whole through the experience of our senses. Yet our sense can only reveal a world that is fragmented and incomplete. Even the most widely travelled mind can only see so much of the world in the course of a life. Our perception of “reality” is an act of faith, based on mere fragments. As infants, we’re unable to commit that act of faith. If we can’t see it, hear it, smell it, taste it or touch it, it isn’t there! The game “Peek-A-Boo” plays on this idea. Gradually, we all learn that even though the sight of Mommy comes and goes, Mommy remains. This phenomenon of observing the parts but perceiving the whole has a name. It’s called closure.

…Comics panels fracture both time and space, offering a jagged, staccato rhythm of unconnected moments. But closure allows us to connect these moments and mentally construct a continuous, unified reality.

…Every act committed to paper by the comics artist is aided and abetted by a silent accomplice. An equal partner in crime known as The Reader. I may have drawn an axe being raised in this example, but I’m not the one who let it drop or decided how hard the blow, or who screamed, or why. That, dear reader, was your special crime, each of you committing it in your own style.

*

This particular part about closure blows my mind every time I read this book. I found myself pondering it on my way home from Petsmart today. I parked, got out of my car, walked up to my front door, put my keys in the lock, turn the key/lock, opened the door, walked inside, and closed the door. I then wondered how much of that sequence would I need to show, in, say, a comic, for a reader to understand what I was doing. My exact thought was “how much would a movie show?” which was not at all in the mood of where I learned this concept, but whatever. It’s what I thought.

Driving–>hand on car doorhandle–>open car door–>step out of car–>car door close–>walk up front walk–>keys out–>key in lock–>turn key/lock–>open door–>–>retrieve keys (an easy step to miss)–>step into doorway–>close door

driving–>car door close–>walk up front walk–>key in lock–>open door–>step into doorway–>close door

Okay, but can I make it shorter?

driving–>walk up front walk–>step into doorway–>close door

What is the shortest I can make this without completely losing the meaning?

driving–>step into doorway

?????

*McCloud, Scott, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, pg 61-68, HarperCollins, New York: NY, 1993

Posted November 25, 2014 by agentksilver in animation

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An odd conversation   1 comment

I left Harris Teeter today. I sat in my car, and then remembered that I had put my purse in my trunk. So I got out of my car and muttered to myself, “I always forget that I leave it in there.”

“You’re not talking to Martians, are you?”

There was one of the cart attendants standing nearby. He was an older gentleman, wearing a Harris Teeter shirt and a bright orange safety vest. His glasses hid the fact that his eyes were spread apart farther than is typical.

“No,” I said.

“We had one girl who swore the Martians were after her,” said the cart attendant. “She ended up throwing knives and screaming that the Martians were coming to get her. We couldn’t get her to stop.”

“Oh my goodness,” I said.

“It happened twice,” he said.

“Well I just mutter memos to myself,” I said. “Nothing to worry about.”

“Are you excited for the success sharing check? Of course, I suppose you probably won’t be taking part in it, you’re probably too new. And by the time you get to participate — March, I think — they’ll probably be discontinuing it anyway, because Kroger bought us.”

He was talking to fill air. It was 11:30 on a Tuesday morning and he probably had absolutely nothing to do. No carts to put away. No customers needing their trunks loaded. I was probably the first person he had seen in a while.

“Oh that’s a shame,” I said.

“Yeah, but it wasn’t worth much, depending on what you contribute. It was $50, before taxes. It’s a big disappointment.”

I wondered how relevant my experience with success sharing was. $50 gross was typical with Home Depot. James had said that he typically got more than $50, although I couldn’t remember the exact amount. Splitting the bill based on your position seemed both fair and unfair. The lower-earning unskilled workers probably get less than the higher-earning skilled positions. This didn’t seem like the sort of thing to bring up in a random conversation with a bored stranger, so I simply smiled and nodded to show my ignorance.

The conversation sort of petered out soon after that, and I was waved on my way. I turned on my car, gave him a wave, and drove off.

Martians after me indeed.

The Sims   2 comments

This morning, after I showered, I was still left in a blur of sleepiness, so I sat on the couch for 15 minutes and played the Sims Freeplay on my phone. It’s the latest app I’ve downloaded. I really, really want to play the Sims, and yet there’s always better things to spend money on. But the Sims Freeplay was…well, it was free.

At first I was so happy. It was Sims doing things I told them do! Even though most of the time the game was telling me what to do, in pursuit of various quests to get points and then level up. Still, I always made sure I had one Sim more than was required by the game, so that I could always have Sims that weren’t doing The Man’s bidding. They were doing my bidding.

But after a while I started to resent my Sims. If I didn’t tell them what to do, they would sit down. Sometimes they would walk to another room and sit down. Sometimes they just sat down in the nearest chair. But mostly, they just sat.

Here’s the thing: the Sims that I know have Free Will. This means that, if you aren’t actively telling them what to do, they will go and do something. They woill take care of a Need that was at the lowest level, or they will go do something Fun. And I respect that. I can leave a Sim alone and know that the Sim can take care of itself. The Sim can be busy. I can also tell them what to do, and they can say No, because they aren’t feeling well. I can also understand that, even if I don’t like it. It somehow makes them seem more real.

But these Sims had no Free Will. They just sit and wait to be told what to do. I’m pretty certain they would wet their pants and starve to death before getting up out of their chair and taking care of a Need.

They also didn’t have the ability to form attachments to each other. Relationships between Sims had Levels, certainly — Stranger, Acquaintance, Budding Friendship/Romance, Good Friends/Dating, ???/Partners, ???/Engaged, ???/Married. But they had as much effect on the world as two high school girls who are Facebook-married. I planned all the devious relationship stuff that one does with Sims. I had Maria start Dating both Betty and Austin. Then I injected Maciej into the mix, and had him start Flirting with both Maria and Betty. I intended to eventually set Maciej up with Austin. I arranged the meetings so that Maciej was never in the same room as both Betty and Maria.

But this morning, in my sleep-haze playtime, the two other Sims, Elizabeth and Owen, got married. It took a little arranging on both sides, and a lot of unnecessary running around. First I had to build a Park. Then 5 Sims had to go to the Park. Then someone had to Talk with Ducks About the Rings for 7 minutes (????). Then I had to send Elizabeth and Owen back home so they could look at their house one more time before getting married. I got caught in a loop. I sent Elizabeth and Owen back home three times each, before I finally gave up and made them get married at home, with no witnesses.

Anyway, while Betty was Talking with Ducks, I needed something else to do with the other five Sims. Four of them were sitting on benches near each other: Elizabeth, Maciej, Owen, and Maria. I clicked on Maciej and had him start romancing the nearest person — who turned out to be Elizabeth.

Maciej was hitting on the Bride in front of the Groom on their wedding day. Obviously I knew that the actual Day wasn’t very auspicious to any of the Sims, who are a bunch of pixel bits and software, but previous Sims that I’ve played with would get pissed if someone starting Flirting with their Significant Other in front of them. I waited for drama to ensue.

Owen continued to sit on his bench.

I frowned. Now I had Elizabeth Flirt with Maciej.

Owen continued to sit on his bench.

I closed the app and uninstalled it.

I guess I learned today what sort of God I would be, if I ever became one (that, too, is on my list of possible career paths to pursue). I might be the sort of God that incites complicated romantic entanglements to entertain myself, but I also want creations who are capable of responding to their environment. I want creations who make their own decisions, who take care of themselves, who Go to Bed when they are tired and Eat a Snack when they are Hungry. It may not be fun all the time, for me or for them — they will get jealous, they will get angry, they will shake their fist at a God that forces them to paint paintings for 18 hours a day — I will get annoyed when they complain that they are tired and refuse to paint anymore when they are so close to being a Level 2 in Creativity and they could get promoted tomorrow! — but at least I can respect their autonomy. At least they have autonomy. At least I can feel as though these creatures that I’ve made are real living creatures, something beyond a bundle of pixels on top of a bunch of statistics.