Writing Advice from Warren Ellis

On a scale of 1 to 10, this man is awesome. (Original image by Gage Skidmore)

Warren Ellis is one of my favorite writers. One of his most popular creations, Transmetropolitan, is easily one of my favorite works in any medium. He’s also a wonderful man with a prolific online presence who was kind enough to respond to a few questions via email, so here is advice from one of our great modern artists.

Teachers, writers, students, and anyone with any interest in creating art, please pay attention.

1) Independent publishing has taken off in the last several years. You yourself work through Avatar Press, but you’ve also worked for the big labels. Under what circumstances should artists go at it alone or indie and when is it best to look to work for a big outfit?

Indie publishing’s been around in American comics since the 60s.  This isn’t a new thing, and there have been several peaks in indie comics over the decades, some bigger than the current situation.

Ultimately, Marvel and DC aren’t interested in publishing your original work.  Simple as that.  Make your decisions based on whether you intend to paint someone else’s house, or build your own.

2) Opinions differ on writer’s block. Some writers say to just work on something else. Others say to focus on the problem until you crack it. Others don’t even believe it exists. Your thoughts (and possibly remedies)?

Writing is writing.  If one thing isn’t working, move on to another thing, or some correspondence, until you’ve solved the problem.

3) What’s harder? Starting or finishing a story, and why?

Finishing it, by far, because it requires you to ensure that you closed everything you started, and have connected up every loose wire you threaded, and generally that the thing has to make sense.  I always slow down towards the end of a job because I have to make sure everything’s tidied away.

Good Morning Sinners by ~lerms on deviantART

4) You and your work are known for discussing transhumanism. You’re also known to be quite vocal in your fiction regarding your points of view on everything from religion to politics. How can a writer get something so dear and close to his or her heart out in a story without sounding like a preacher? Or do we NEED to be preached through fiction?

I have no issue with being preached to through fiction.  Some of my favourite books — some of the world’s favourite books — have strong opinions that they aren’t shy about firing.  I’d rather read a good book with passion and vigour to it than a piece of brilliant prose styling that was about nothing because it was terrified of offending someone.

5) My classes range from 7th-grade writing camps to undergraduate college courses. The biggest problem my students face is the fear of being heard, of someone calling them out for their opinions. Often, though, they’re just afraid they’re not good writers. What would you say to students who are afraid of writing, of having their opinions heard?

If you prefer not to have your opinions heard, or, indeed prefer not to project any kind of personality or worldview whatsoever, you will probably be very successful and make a lot of money.  It will be my opinion that you have betrayed the role of the writer, but, you know, you probably don’t care about that.  What we say through our fiction is reportage: we explain where we think we are today, and what we think it looks like.  The joy of fiction is that we can explore this by creating characters that we don’t agree with, and characters who contain only facets of our opinions, and therefore by writing we can discover what we truly think about things.

Don’t be afraid of not being a good writer.  None of us start out as being good writers.  Be afraid of not being an honest writer.  At this point in your career, being honest to your work is far more important.  Write every day.  Find out what your voice is.  Find out what you think about things.  Finish pieces.  Hate them.  (Believe me, you will.)  Then read them again, and learn lessons from them, and then write something else.

Warren Ellis is frequently found on Twitter. He may or may not be insane, but it works for him. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you Monday, folks! In the meantime, enjoy a short fan video of Transmetropolitan‘s own Spider Jerusalem explaining how voting works.

The Good and the Bad

Sleep is the for the weak!

October 8, 2012

It’s been a while since I actually posted here instead of randomness over at Facebook, so let me say this.

I needed the break.

I feel refreshed, I got editing done, and I was able to focus on only one or two projects at a time. On the other hand, I’ve also been eating a lot and haven’t exercised as much as I should have this week. This leads to the eternal conundrum: working out or Oreos?

After that fight is over and my arms and core are burning from the workout, I have another matter to tackle: writing. Writing is not something to be undertaken lightly. In fact, it should be an endeavor trained for and prepared for in the same vein as going into combat. Train and practice all you want, but be aware that the situation on the ground will later everything. No plan survives first contact with the enemy.

But I do have a plan.

I’ve been trying to finish Charcoal Streets for two years. Every time I think I’m a week away, something else pops into my head, but I have to accept the reality of my own advice. At some point, everything ends. I have to one day stop and just tell myself that the book is as good as it’s going to get. I can’t write every story for this one anthology. I just can’t. That’s what later volumes are for. I have to just stop and tell myself, “It’s good enough.”

I have to do the same thing I’ve been telling students for years. I have to set my ego aside. I have to put the work first. I also have to start writing more creative things, not just the articles here. I have to get back to poetry, short stories, flash fiction, all of that. Writing is influenced by what you take in, and the reason my fiction has felt so dry is because I’ve been reading so much news the last two years.

Articles will continue, but expect them to be a little more… abstract. Stream of consciousness. That sort of thing.

I have a few stories to share with you. I’d hate to waste the time.

Review: Superman vs. the Elite

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s OH DEAR GOD RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!

September 14, 2012

I’ve made my distaste for Superman known before. I think he’s an overpowered brute that’s too far removed from humanity to really matter. He’s as close to a physical god as DC can show and still remain viable as a recurring character that won’t break the story.

And yet…

I was pleasantly surprised by Superman vs. the Elite. If done properly, I believe nearly any story idea can work. Well, almost any, but you get the point. I was intrigued because the movie is based on a Superman storyline, “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?” that asked the eternal question.

“Why is Superman still relevant?”

Two down, two to go! by ~BaSHeL1K on deviantART

The Story

Superman fights the Atomic Skull on the streets of Metropolis and causes millions in collateral damage. To draw Superman out, Skull nukes several civilians. At a meeting of the UN, Superman is asked how he can keep just locking up supervillains when he could easily just take care of them permanently. He counters that his ways don’t involve killing, that he wants to show the world that even if all his power, he can be better than a common thug.

Some, however, feel that Superman could be doing more to keep dangerous super-powered criminals down.

Enter the Elite, a group that vocally supports Superman’s efforts to rid the world of crime, but their tactics are much more brutal. And they’re not afraid to kill. After seemingly putting an end to several catastrophes ranging from super-powered villains to terrorists to a possible war in Eastern Europe, the world sings the praises of the Elite over Superman, but Supes thinks the world may regret it…

The Good

The story is an interesting one for me from a thematic standpoint. Does Superman really matter anymore? Do we need the “Boy Scout?”

Yes, the movie says. Like I said, Superman is as close a god as the DC Universe has to offer (aside from those other gods) and puts criminals away. He doesn’t kill, which means villains have a chance of coming back. His adherence to the law means that he’s constantly tied down by bureaucracy and politics. The Elite, however, have no qualms about such things and easily stop a war and deal with Atomic Skull in the most permanent way possible.

They blow his head up in a public execution. This is just one of many times where the sound effects and animation really sold the fact that, yes, these are demigods we’re talking about, but they’re still getting hurt and it SHOWS.

When Superman decides to show the Elite just what their methods will lead to, he seemingly kills each member one by one, until only their leader, Manchester Black, is left. The true horror of an enraged, vengeful Superman has to be seen to be believed.

The best part?

Superman. Bitch-slapped. Manchester Black. Repeatedly.

Seriously, it’s both awesome and hilarious as Black just loses it and actually cries, begging for his life. Of course, that’s not the end of the story, but I won’t give the ending away.

Oh, and did I mention the SWEET intro sequence?

Overall, the movie goes back and forth between very dark action and black comedy, mostly courtesy of Manchester Black, a villain with style and the rage to be both hilarious one moment and sociopathic the next. I figure if the Joker got telekinesis and tried to be a good guy, he’d be Manchester Black.

Manchester Black by *CaptainUnobservant on deviantART

The Bad

The dialogue can get pretty cheesy, especially at the very end with Superman’s monologue. I’m sorry, but it sounds too much like a motivational poster. Up until that point, I was rooting for Supes, but then I had the urge to put up fliers for the elite. The sentiment was there, but as much as I wanted to side with him, he came off like a bad after-school special.

The Weird

Overall, the movie was fun, but I was actually kind of shocked at the level of violence in this one. People get twisted until their arms and legs break, Manchester Black gives a couple of terrorists strokes (complete with blood from the eyes and mouth), and let’s not even mention Atomic Skull’s victims.

This movie has more cursing and gore than other DCAU movies out there, so it’s really better for the adults than the kids.

Overall, a nice romp. It can get a bit preachy, but I think it delivers in the end. ESPECIALLY in the end. I’m talking of the last twenty minutes.

Final rating? 4 out of 5.

Check out the trailer below.

Star Trek: How Heroes Fall

Readings indicate a “Braga” did this.

September 10, 2012

Last week marked the 46th anniversary of Star Trek. That short-lived series spawned an entire culture, but for me, Star Trek was about more that cool ships, ham and cheese, and cool effects.

Star Trek taught me how hard heroes can fall.

It was 1996. I walked into a movie theater and saw the trailer for Star Trek: First Contact. Soon afterward, I tracked down where I could watch Next Generation and, within three years, I’d tracked down stations showing Deep Space 9, Voyager, and the original series. I rented the movies at Blockbuster and read about the making of the show, bought books on the artwork, technology, everything. I couldn’t ingest Star Trek fast enough.

As I grew up and new movies and series got off the ground, something felt off. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it. As I re-watched old episodes, I didn’t feel the same excitement. Yes, I enjoyed the episodes, but there was something missing, and it was the same feeling I was getting from the newer episodes of Enterprise and the later movies like Insurrection and Nemesis.

Spock, Star Trek by ~Hanger-18-shirts on deviantART

By the time Enterprise was cancelled and Nemesis flopped, I finally figured out what it was that had bothered me for so long. Part of it, I think, was the fact that Star Trek was no longer about analogues to real-world problems or philosophy. Episodes like “City on the Edge of Forever,” “The Measure of a Man,” and “In the Pale Moonlight” are classics that asked big questions about ethics, the nature of sentience, and the morality of war.

By the time Insurrection, Nemesis, and Enterprise came around, Star Trek was about Star Trek. Voyager was probably the worst offender. Every other word was made up and made sense if you knew the internal science on the show and had a complete disregard for actual physics and engineering. Characters were there to function as set pieces. The biggest slap came with Enterprise’s final episode, a supposed grand finale to the story that was really nothing more than a chance to do a B-story to a Next Generation episode.

I was crestfallen.

Star Trek Abbey Road by ~Rabittooth on deviantART

Don’t get me wrong. I do still love Star Trek, warts and all. My friends and I made it a game to pick out the production errors or blatantly wrong scientific terminology. I still think it made a huge impact on my love of science and speculative fiction, and I have fond memories of finding out my mother was a Trekkie in her youth, watching the redeeming 2009 movie with my now-fiancé, and the shared geekness that links me with millions of people around the world.

But Star Trek did force me to admit that even that which we love can betray us. Oh well. We’ll always have Vulcan.

Oh, wait…

Ninja Turtles Sans “Teenage” and “Mutant”

Yeah, not gonna happen.

September 7, 2012

I have made my love of my childhood franchises known for years. When Michael Bay went and gutted the spirit of Transformers and rolled Optimus Prime’s ashes into a large cigar to smoke while he sodomized my memories, I did not take it lightly.

Now, though, he’s going after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

There will be BLOOD, Bay…

I’ll give him this much. He’s producing. He didn’t write the script and has little control as to the details in the movie. Still, he’s putting his name on it, so against logic and the rules of civilized criticism, I am going to tack this on him.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by ~Zlydoc on deviantART

If you’re willing to read a few excerpts and a small synopsis, go here. I’ll just highlight the… low points.

Shredder is now an Army colonel or something. The turtles are actually aliens from Dimension X. Krang appears but only in the third act. Bebop and Rocksteady also appear, and they’re apparently the only ones who vaguely resemble their original versions. And the writing? Oh my gods… A note to anyone wishing to write a screenplay: don’t tell us the character’s thoughts in the directions. That’s NEVER going to be on the screen. Don’t say a subject is loaded for the characters involved. We should be able to tell. Don’t use weird word-play to describe the action. It’s confusing.

I know, I know. I’m a 28-year old man complaining about a thirty-year old franchise. About anthropomorphic turtles. That know ninjutsu. And fight aliens and mutants. I grew up with it. Fine. I have good memories. Whatever. Things change. I know this.

But this isn’t about how I… feel… about Bay and his lackeys taking this franchise and twisting it into an unrecognizable film project. This is about having respect for the source material.

Eat a D*ck Michael Bay by *TomPreston on deviantART

NOTHING in this script sounds or acts like its comic book or even 80’s 90’s or 2000’s cartoon equivalent. Even the new Nickelodeon cartoon at least shows that it will pay homage and respect to the 80’s roots. This is an action movie that has turtles. It’s like saying Star Trek: First Contact is an adaptation of Star Wars because both have space battles. Even thought the Turtles’ creators are supposedly onboard, I’m going to call “crap” on this whole project.

It’s one thing to expand a short work and add elements to it, much like Red, and end up with a different product that still makes sense. This? This is going to suck.

Let’s try and clean our minds by watching a bad lip reading of Twilight. Trust me. It’s funnier than it sounds.


Ann Romney to Hispanics: You Don’t Get It

I’m not saying Ann Romney is racist. I’m just saying she doesn’t seem to think Latinos are intelligent citizens who deserve equal protection under the law simply because of their skin color and heritage. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Author’s Note: I realize some people prefer the terms “Hispanic” or “Chicano.” I personally refer to myself as “Mexican-American” since I’m a first-generation immigrant. I know we all have our preference, but for the purpose of this article, I’m sticking with Ann Romney’s terminology.

Ann Romney is not running for office, but her recent remarks about the Latino community show the Right’s mentality on minority votes and, on a personal level, showed her contempt for people like me.

At a recent luncheon, Mrs. Romney went on about how Latinos need to understand that the GOP, and her husband in particular, are working in the best interest of Latinos in this country. She gushed over how much damage another Obama presidency will do to us and how we’re just uninformed about current issues and policies.

It’s us, not them, she tells us.

I like to think my arguments are better than just flinging insults or calling names, but I would like to vent a little steam before starting by saying that Ann Romney sounds like any abusive husband on a Lifetime movie telling his battered wife that it’s her fault she’s on the ground doubled over.

Let me explain. Ann Romney said:

“I spoke to women last night and I wanted women to understand how important this election is for their children. But as I was sitting backstage listening, I thought, it’s also very important that the Latino community recognize how important this election is for them.”

I like how she talks about women and mothers and that need to protect the family but seems to think Latinos don’t have those concerns or are somehow different. It sounds like nitpicking her grammar, but it actually makes sense a little later.

“And [Latinos] are mistaken if they think they are going to be better off with Barack Obama as their president. There really is only one way for prosperity, for small business, and that is, this is the simplest way I can say this: If Mitt Romney wins, America wins.”

Mrs. Romney’s assertion that helping small businesses is the best way to help the country falls apart for two reasons. Firstly, she assumes that corporate profits equal social prosperity. They don’t. The top earners in this country have had incredible success in the last several years, but the middle class hasn’t seen significant improvement in THIRTY YEARS. Small businesses are another matter. Yes, they could be doing better, but the self-serving nature of the Romney/Ryan plan is another case. It will hurt not just Latinos, but everyone.

It’s when Mrs. Romney starts talking about why Latinos are specifically deaf to the GOP that I start to put the pieces together.

“You’d better really look at your future and figure out who’s going to be the guy that’s going to make it better for you and your children, and there is only one answer… It really is a message that would resonate well if [Latinos] could just get past some of their biases that have been there from the Democratic machines that have made us look like we don’t care about this community. And that is not true. We very much care about you and your families and the opportunities that are there for you and your families.”

If I may, I would like to address Ann Romney directly.

Read the rest of the rant at Political Groove


Learning How to Spell: The Tyranny of Exposition

The words! They drown me!

September 3, 2012

I’ve had very long discussions with other writers about editing, clutter, and what it means to right clearly.

On the one hand, the use of language to paint a vivid image is essential to bringing your readers into the story. One exercise I do with my students is to pull out a large, fist-sized rock and have them give me as many descriptors for it as possible. I usually get things like “hard,” “small,” “heavy,” and things of that nature. Then, I pull out a large quartz crystal and tell them that too is a rock. How are their descriptions of the first any different from the descriptions of the quartz? It’s that use of very specific language that can make or break a scene.

Then again, being TOO specific, writing two or three lines just setting up the scene without anything happening, just drags the story along the ground and gives it skinned knees. This is a problem especially prevalent in speculative fiction: science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

vintage exposition by ~Delightfaces on deviantART

My chosen genre is rife with ghosts, strange cultures, weird technology, and all sorts of weird concepts that most people, except perhaps readers familiar with the genre and its tropes, will understand or know at first glance. For example, I have a draft of a science fiction novel set centuries from now where pilots can fly starships by linking their consciousness with the ship, giving them incredibly fast reaction times and an intuitive understanding of their environment. This is because, in the world’s back-story, AI and advanced computer systems were scaled back because of a war with sentient machines.

Yeah, it’s partially Dune’s back-story. Sue me.

Actually, wait, don’t sue. I have no money.

Princess Irulan, Dune by ~iayetta83 on deviantART

Like Frank Herbert, I could easily just include a glossary and “in-universe” encyclopedia explaining the history, just what the hell “interfacing” meant. Likewise, my rewrite for “Eternal Love and Other Lies” sees the narrator live through thousands years of history. To him, things like the rise of civilization in the Fertile Crescent, the Dark Ages, and other events are perfectly understood. He lived through them. I can put in detail to make his world more real, but can I really add the kind of detail he would use in describing his world without sounding heavy-handed.

Authors have handled dilemmas like this in many ones. The most common, and sometimes weakest, is to have one character explain the situation to another, ignorant character. Doing this for too long or too often feels very forced, though.

I believe the best option is to let the description of events and context clues give the reader the history. For example, in “Eternal Love and Other Lies,” I’m doing research into various cultures and what they believed about love. These attitudes will be present in the story, but not explained. Maybe they’ll make sense, maybe they won’t.

Pairs by ~Rosana-Araujo on deviantART

I always prefer a story that leaves the reader wanting to know more or wanting to research instead of a story that lays everything out in monologues and neat “as you know” explanations. As Guillermo del Toro once said, you don’t have to explain why the wall has a mouth. All the audience needs to know is that there’s a mouth on the wall.

But then again, maybe that’s just me.

On a related note, if you’ve read some of the Charcoal Streets stories, do you think I explain enough? Also, let’s get the week started right by making fun of people who got hurt, usually by their own idiocy.

Learning How to Spell: Writing Life With Real Life?

It’s all about balance… but I can’t find it.

August 30, 2012

To be an artist is to give up a normal life.

I’ve talked about this at length. You have to devote yourself to your art. You have to learn, read, practice, get critiques, and sometimes you even have to restructure your life to meet the demands of your work. Worse, your work doesn’t always pay off.

I once wrote how you needed to make sacrifices to be great. I’ve made those choices. I knew going in that this wasn’t going to make me rich overnight… maybe ever. But I wanted to create something and I’ve pushed for it. I ignored a social life for a long time. I took the hardest classes. I took risks and knew only I would pay the price if anything happened. In some episode of House, I think the patient of the week put it best. The greats gave everything up to be great. They have no family, few friends, and they never really lived… but they built a legacy.

I don’t want to be that guy.

Stress by ~WolfGrin1 on deviantART

I don’t want to be the guy who spent his life reading, writing, researching, and honing his skills to the point where he may one day be put on the pantheon of great 21st century authors. That immortality will mean nothing if I didn’t have an actual life… and the last three years have shown me what that life is like.

So what do I do?  Where’s the balance? I can’t keep this up forever. My income as an aspiring writer is not going to let Mary and I build a life together. It lets us live as we are, but growth is near-impossible. It’s do-or-die. I have to get my work out soon. I have to finish Charcoal Streets. I have to do something to either build my life or make it so writing actually becomes a full-time paying job.

I’m still not sure what this means. I’m pondering this because, again, finances are tight, though not desperate. Also, there may be some work in the future that may take away any time I’d devote to writing and this website. I have to make that choice now. Which is more important to me: honing the craft or enjoying my life? I never thought I’d be here, honestly. I never thought I’d have a wonderful woman by my side or that I would be making plans to actually settle down. I always pictured I’d take jobs while I wrote and created my work, eventually making something that would let me write full-time. I never thought I’d have to put someone else on the line for my dreams.

I love Mary. I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I have no plans to leave for any reason. A part of me, though, wants to know how to balance writing with this new life.

Can I have my cake and eat it too, or am I the dog with two bones?

less stress by ~Lelek83 on deviantART

Students Without Rules?

Anarchists! Every last one of them!

August 27, 2012

We’re back!

Well, by “we,” I mean “me.” It’s just one person behind the sleek internet experience you are, uhm, experiencing right now.

Let’s start with why one local school district just failed an English class.

Here in Laredo, Texas, schools will no longer have rules. No, that’s too negative. We can’t have teachers telling kids not to do things. It’d be like setting boundaries and stunting their growth. We can’t have that! Instead, the United Independent School District of Laredo, Texas will now implement “expectations.”

For example, instead of “No running in the hallways,” our students will now be encouraged with statements like, “Our students walk down the halls.”

You get it? It’s positive reinforcement. The kids will do better because they have freedom and can do whatever they want while at the same time feeling shame when they don’t meet “expectations.”

Student by ~mirchiz on deviantART

I really hope I don’t have to tell you why this is a dumber idea than Kim Kardashian thinking she can have a music career. Or Snooki thinking she should be a mother. This is stupid, and I know why the district is doing it. Ever since the Penn State scandal broke, schools have gone ape trying to make sure they don’t do anything that might make a child feel uncomfortable. We have to make sure kids have a great time at all costs. I understand the need for proper training, though. I had to undergo training for dealing with minors. It included signs to watch out, for that may indicate abuse in the home or even at work. It included the chain of supervisors that needed to be notified of such signs. It also laid out in very clear language the kinds of things that were expected of me as an employee of a public education institution. And I learned a few things I didn’t know…

But the idea that kids can do fine with “expectations” but not rules is fucking stupid.

Let me put it this way. Are there consequences for not meeting “expectations?” I’m sure there are, so in the end, what we have is “rules” by another name. An expectation reminds me too much of that scene from Office Space. You know the one.

office space by ~WolfsEye157 on deviantART

There’s a big gap between personal drive and what is expected at work. A student will follow “expectations” as long as said expectations are easy. Kids, I’m sorry to say, with very few exceptions, are not motivated to learn on their own. It’s the same problem of “unschooling” I talked about almost two years ago. A child has no incentive to follow an “expectation” unless he or she wants to follow it.

On a larger scale, it’s the same problem I have with Objectivism and libertarianism: the idea that we can have near-total anarchy and people will comport themselves because it is expected of them. Let me be blunt. People are morons. People are selfish. Companies have no incentive to be humanitarian if they can corner the market and keep making money at the expense of others. Students, likewise, have no incentive to follow a suggestion if there are no consequences.

I’ll be damned if I ever tell my students that I “expect” them to pay attention. Oh, no, buddy. They will pay attention or suffer my creative wrath. After I told them I wanted them to stop leaning back on the back two legs of their chairs, I made it clear it wasn’t a suggestion. This was an order.

If I saw anyone lean back, I would get behind them, grab their chair, and pull them back just enough to make think they were about to fall. There was a consequence. I was not asking them. I was telling them.

Rules exist for a reason. Unfair, unjust rules, must be fought, of course. A rule must have a purpose. Replacing all rules with “expectations”? That’s just asking for trouble. Eventually, a good student won’t have to be told to cheat or run in the halls. Until then?

They’re still kids.

Now, let’s clear our heads with one of the later episodes of MST3K and a personal favorite of mine: Space Mutiny.

Limbaugh vs. Medieval Literature OR How Robin Hood Can Become a Tea Partier

Is this the face of the Tea Party? Or a Medieval set of stories adapted through the centuries that have now been twisted to serve a pill-popping madman?

August 9, 2012

Limbaugh’s setting a new record for most dumb things said in a single month. Between his claim that The Dark Knight Rises is some sort of slam against Romney and the claim that liberals are somehow trying to make football illegal, he’s wandered into literary territory.

As a writer, I take particular offense to this. Just watch and see if your head doesn’t shoot blood from every pore.

Rush claims that people don’t understand the story of Robin Hood. He fought the government, he says. Most people, according to Limbaugh, think that Robin Hood just stole from the rich to give it to Maid Marian. It’s a lie, Limbaugh cries! He was stealing from the government! That makes him a Tea Party activist. Robin Hood, Limbaugh proudly claims, was anti-taxes.

I see about fifty things wrong with Limbaugh’s analysis, the key one being that he’s still somehow on the air and people are listening to him.

His analysis of Robin Hood as a Tea Party activist, however, is deeply flawed. Let me just say that what we consider the mythology of Robin Hood is actually a composite of various ballads and stories. There is no “definitive” story, but there are various early stories that have laid the path for the modern, popular incarnation. Here’s what can be pieced together.

Limbaugh by ~OblivionSoul327 on deviantART

Sources differ on whether Robin Hood was a commoner or a member of the aristocracy, though the modern portrayal shows him as a man who’s been wronged by Prince John and seeks to reclaim his family’s honor and land. It wasn’t until the 16th century that Robin Hood was given a definitive setting: the 1190’s, when King Richard I fought in the Crusades. There are various references to Robin stealing from the rich and giving to the poor in the original stories, but the general idea was there.

In fact, in popular culture, he stole from a group of aristocrats who made themselves rich by overtaxing the common people. In a way, Limbaugh is right in that Robin Hood was anti-tax, but he’s massively wrong to claim he’s a Tea Partier. The Tea Party, for all its claims that it’s standing up for the little people and the common man, is a branch of Koch Industries. The Tea Party may believe it’s helping the middle class, but the result of their actions are to give MORE power and money to the wealthy. It’s a fact, if we look at an America ruled by the Tea Party, that the results are not good for anyone except rich white Christian fundamentalist men.

Say goodbye to healthcare, police, firefighters, voting rights, education, social security in all its forms, and say hello to surveillance, limited marriage, and corporations that will rule over us like Prince John and his ilk who answer to no one and enforce the laws they see fit. Be sure you buy a gun, because law enforcement and gun regulations are a thing of the past.

The Three Rs by ~poasterchild on deviantART
Tea Partier? Please. Robin Hood would have marched with Occupy. The rich abused and took money from the poor. Robin Hood fought to get that money back and depose those who stepped on the backs of others to get their power. If we’re going strictly by the popular, modern incarnation, as I’m sure Limbaugh is doing since I’m certain he’s not looking up manuscripts stating “Robyn hode in scherewode stod,” he’s obviously never actually seen a Robin Hood movie or TV show.

This is typical of many Right Wing analogies. They lack either context or they deliberately remove one part of the analogy to make sense. Or, like Steve King recently did, they completely lie about what they’re talking about. This is what got me back when Glenn Beck was still on Fox. He kept using movie metaphors like comparing the Tea Party to the heroes in everything from Terminator to It’s a Wonderful Life. He, like Limbaugh, has no clue how to analyze literature or films and misses the important context clues.

If Limbaugh were my student and gave me this kind of analysis, I wouldn’t fail him because I disagreed with his political views. I would flunk him because he seemingly got his plot synopsis from a third-rate SparkNotes knock-off and looked at the story with all the clarity of a particularly nearsighted bat.

Let’s wash away the grating sound of literature dying by watching really bad drivers.