Totally not bait and switching. The Rising is a bipartisan anti-establishment show hosted by the Hill. It originally starred progressive populist Krystal Ball and conservative populist Saagar Enjeti.https://youtu.be/MDIilLaVN6c
My short life has been dogged by sexual religious trauma and loneliness. I never ever thought that a woman owed me sex, and I was never trying to get laid. I’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on around me and survive. I am diagnosed with ADHD, but I think I’m also an Aspie. I need to go get that confirmed. If I am, it’s been hard to tell between all the woo woo and backwards socialization and MLM bullshit that has been my life until recently. I almost thought it was just the ADHD and the rest was trauma and confusion from such a weird ass upbringing — Mormon, bishop’s kid, Chiropractic kid, and whatever cognitive disorders I have plus lots and lots and lots of anxiety.
Which I’ve managed to turn off for the most part. Without drugs. My father is a selfish bastard. I just needed to be allowed to express myself and have my rights and my wrongs confirmed or criticized by intelligent thinking people, which forces me to be very choosy in a world full of Mormons. I feel like I’ve been drowning under the oppression of a mask that was forced on me at a very young age and stapled to my face with constant shaming. Whenever I tugged at it, I was gently reminded of my sexual sins and what I knew was coming if I rebelled against the church — abandonment.
In the movie Happy Feet, we meet a young penguin named Mumble voiced by Elijah Wood who has, shall we say, a neurodivergent coming of age story full of all the social awkwardness and hostility of a society that doesn’t understand him or care to understand him. The sexual and religious themes are thick, but we’re talking about CGI penguins and any mating is represented on screen only by the penguins finding their mate through singing their “heart song,” or the song that bubbles up from within and becomes the voice of who they truly are. I don’t know who on earth is going to be offended by blasphemy against the “Great ‘Guin”.
The story begins with Mumble’s parents and their romantic heart song pairing. In penguins society, once the egg is hatched, the dad holds it on his feet through the winter while the mom goes to the sea to get food. “Never ever drop thy egg,” says the narrator. Mumble, still in the egg, is dropped. His dad, still young and madly in love with his mate and shirking his religious group’s admonitions, let’s the egg drop. It briefly tumbles out into the snow in the frigid Antarctic winter temperatures. He retrieves it in panic and suddenly becomes the most religious penguin in the winter huddle as he prays that he hasn’t murdered his own offspring — but it sounds like he’s more worried about the shame he would take from his mate and from his group. He’s just full of shame, and this comes to color his relationship with Mumble, who does hatch, but is just different in some way.
My father is similar. I don’t know all of what he did as young lad, but he was filled with shame for it and became a very religious man. He also learned about how vaccines damage nervous systems while at Chiro college and has always felt guilty about having his firstborn vaccinated. He didn’t know any better, he tells himself, but he looks at me (hi) and all the ways that I’m different from what he wanted in a firstborn son and he as at once smitten with shame and guilt. I’m guessing he was tormented over his normal psychosexual development. He did explain to me one time that he played show and tell with the girl next door in his small town and there was also a piece of shit older kid who masturbated in front of him once. My father has a weirded out relationship with his own sexual nature and he generously tried to pass that on to me. He filled me with shame about “immorality” before sine even knew what that meant. Like, he’d come into my room when I was ten or eleven and laying in just after bedtime and he’d shame me with all the confusing energy of a parent concerned for their child but freaking them out in the most confusing ways. He told me Satan would never get me with drugs,
probably, but he might get me with immorality.
K. Um, what’s immorality again? I find it a common theme that I don’t ask what things are because it would break my mask and I’d have to admit that since I was a kid I haven’t been able to tell what’s going on around me half the time, cuz I’m usually too anxious to want to engage with groups of people doing things around me and I have a tough time sitting down and paying enough attention to do boring shit I don’t wanna do. So I faked it figuring I’d make it. Mormons are frustratingly squeamish about getting into the details of sex and sin; they always said to ask your parents. But my parents would never tell me anything either, for fear that knowledge of what the sin was would persuade me to try it. That’s how my dad explained that he masturbated for the first time: the bishop asked him about it (we had this conversation many years later after I’d established a dialogue with him as my bishop). I didn’t ask my peers, because I couldn’t relate to my peers at all for some reason I couldn’t put a finger on. Just, so much anxiety in a young mind, but brilliant about some things but total ineptitude when it came to basic things that my other peers seemed to be able to do. Abject terror that my mask would be seen through, but misery because my mask felt false. Trapped. Trapped. No way out. My mother and father had both cornered me at various moments before they’d even educated me about sex and they made me swear I’d tell them if I was ever “playing with myself” or doing “immoral things” or thinking about girls before I was sixteen. I was nine/ten/eleven. Some of these encounters happened before my libido has even started coursing through my veins, but I didn’t know what was normal. No idea. I could only infer from what there was around me, and I struggled to “people” with people, and when I could I struggled to take people other than literally, especially when they were dead serious. Was touching myself when I peed the sin of immorality? Was being curious about what girls look like under their clothes immorality? I had three brothers and we showered together before school when we were very young. Jesus said whoso looketh upon a woman to lust after her is an adulterer. I guess you can’t even think about it. I swore I wouldn't then, Jesus, let me go play.
But then days came when my body started to change, and I was guiltily curious about it. I was ambushed by the bishop during my priesthood interview and he used words I didn’t know. When I asked for clarification, he used Mormon infantile words that my mom had used and I was suddenly struck with conviction (like in a criminal sense) and I lied in panic and as everyone congratulated me on my worthiness. I died inside and kept discovering new levels of dying inside as I began to notice the girls in ways I hadn’t before. My social ineptitude and my scrupulosity and my guilt and my shame and my anxiety were as inflamed as they could possibly be and I wasn’t even a Freshman yet. But I kept masking, surviving, trying to figure things out. I was smart. I got good grades despite my struggles. I could figure this out.
I think when I heard there were seven degrees of hell, I thought that made sense, even though there’s nothing in the Quad or Mormon doctrine about that.
Mumble hatched despite his father’s fuck up, but he couldn’t hide how different he was. His intelligence wasn’t retarded. He was just different. Other penguins didn’t make sense to him, but he wanted to be like them but he just couldn’t be. He didn’t know why. They didn’t know why. So he was just aloof during his childhood, and his most intimate moments were with himself alone where no one could gaze upon anything he did with judging eyes. The penguins in happy feet are taught about marriage and having eggs while they’re still hatchlings, and as a Mormon I didn’t efrn think about how weird this was. That’s what we do. We start setting the Mormon heteronormative expectations as soon as these beings can talk, long before they understand what any of it means.
Mumble wants to find his heart song and find his mate and make the egg like everyone else, but he can’t sing. He doesn’t develop like the others did. By the time everyone else his age has graduated, he still hasn’t lost all of his hatchling fluff, so his Mexican friends half his size affectionately name him Fluffy. It’s a weird movie; don’t think about it too much. But as an Arizonan, I didn’t think that was weird either. I think maybe some minorities like it when they encounter a goofy but harmless Caucasian who was too awkward to have the Whiteness properly installed like the other ones.
Mumble can dance, though. I can’t. But I imagine it represents finding the thing you’re good at and getting good at it both to spite all the people who want you basically to just cease to exist and stop bothering them AND finally connect with your peers in all the ways you dreamed of. There’s a dance sequence where he gets all of his peers to dance with him and finally emotionally connect with him only for the governing Elders to poo poo on his heresy and his backsliding. There’s a famine, and they think his happy feet did it somehow by offending the Great ‘Guin. He defends himself to the Elders only for his father to T-bone him out of the blue. His guilt-ridden father who is fundamentally ashamed of his son’s existence but blames himself for it too comes up to him and begs him to put his mask back on (“for all of our sakes, you must stop this freakiness with the feet”). His father confesses that he dropped him as an egg and apologizes but tells Mumble “there is something wrong with you, boy.”
“Don’t ask me to change, Pa. I can’t.” So the Elders exile him and he takes it, vowing to figure out the whole world and come back and throw it in their faces.
The famine is caused by humans overfishing, so the story suddenly becomes a quest for Mumble to go find the “aliens” and ask them to stop doing whatever it is they’re doing. The movie becomes a cheesy tree-hugging flick beyond this point, but Mumble proves he’s made of something brave and intelligent and courageous along the way to find the humans. Along the way he discredits an evangelical pastor but befriends him, narrowly avoids getting eaten, and dives off a strep cliff no penguin would dare while the pastor penguin, Lovelace, who is the narrator voiced by Robin Williams, says he gonna be telling Mumble’s story long after he’s dead and gone.
But that’s not the end. Mumble finds himself in a strange and isolated place with other penguins in captivity, he gets humanity’s attention by tap dancing for them, and they take him back to the South Pole so he can lead them to his people. Everyone is smitten by the existence of these aliens and their technology, so they follow Mumble’s lead and he leads them in a tap dance best box sort of thing, and the humans love it, so they film it, and the whole world suddenly realizes that they’re overfishing the Antarctic and they ban it. The movie ends with everyone tap dancing like mumble and eating plenty of fish while Mumble is obviously happy with his girl, the social approval he always craved, and the removal of all the drama that had ever plagued his life.
The movie gave me hope as a twenty-something returned missionary, addicted to porn and drowning in the shame of failure and the fear of abandonment with all my social awkwardness, wondering at the mysteries of why I was the way I was and how to fix it and win back everyone’s approval, that it was possible to be happy. At the very least it was possible to find peace with myself.
I grew up conservative, but I embraced liberalism only to find that in the Trump era at least liberalism or progressivism has its own dogmstists who demand conformity or call you some word designed to smear you and tell everyone else that you’re an untouchable. I’ve been called an “incel” for criticizing this notion that a metoo accusation shouldn’t be questioned. But what I wanted was for the world outside of my family’s bubble to look reasonable so they would come down off their Trumpian political binge. But belaboring that point on social media everywhere I tried to raise the objection got me labeled an incel, a Nazi, a chauvanist, a womanizer. Other guys pried into me accusingly wondering if I had done something to some innocent woman and was objecting to this groundbreaking social innovation that we believe all the women now because I was afraid of getting found out and getting what was coming to me. They didn’t understand any of what I’d been through and I was just socially-awkward and thoughtful besides being worried that my family would never see things my way. The world outside of the conservomormon bubble was not lunatic or hostile or any of the things they thought. Well, maybe now it was. Liberals were treating me as morally suspect particularly in sexual matters, just like the conservative Mormons always had, unless I agreed to to shut up and let the dogmatists is establish and magnify their authority. It was disheartening.
Cold-dodger is just some socially-awkward reference to the movie Happy Feet. I don’t know what makes a cool username. Fuck it. I’d rather just dignify the one I made and wear it proudly. This is all of what it means to me, and it’s loaded with stories of my emotionally history and the hopes and dreams I still cling to that someday I won’t feel so awkward and alone or that I’d at least become my own good company sufficient to make up for the rest.
I hate dogmatism. I hate people that refuse to communicate with logic and instead throw passions around paired with ultimatums made out of weaponized taboos. I expect people to make arguments for what they think and after an honest day’s work within the dialectic embrace the best arguments that have all the evidence on their side, but I’m also open to being wrong and corrected. Idk, this is just how the world makes sense to me, but most humans don’t play by those rules on either side of the aisle. I’d almost been hoping I could pin everything that was different about me on the cult and on my trauma, but I have to admit that I’m just different from others. That sounds like such a bad thing. “Disorders” they call them. Ba, humbug. From my perspective, everyone else is insane. Everybody else is neurotypically wired to be plugged into a tribal identity complete with a group think. I’m not. I can dance well enough to mask how uncomfortable it all makes me and sometimes pass as just another person in the group if you don’t scrutinize me too closely; but I hate all of it. It feels like people are playing games with each other and I was never given the manual. I want them to just level with me and verbalize all the unspoken things so I can know them. I grew up in a cult with a layer of MLM/alternative medicine madness on top of that with a cognitive disability (or two, maybe, we’ll see) beneath that keeping me vulnerable to trauma and keeping it ongoing which was all insulating me from the logical world of reason that I wanted to be part of for some long. The hope of atheism for me is that with all the passionate bullshit trimmed away and with reason as my guiding star, maybe I could finally figure out how to “normal.” Heal, learn, be normal, find my heart song, win a mate, maybe a tribe (for a while, I hoped maybe my old tribe or at least my folks or maybe my siblings) and live happily ever after.
My hopes and dreams are very basic.