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Posts Tagged ‘Laurie Penny’

The nuclear family, in its brief heyday, was fundamentally an economic strategy, one that made it easier to control the supply of workers and organize childcare and domestic work so that women were doing as much of it as possible for free.  This arrangement no longer makes economic or emotional sense — and millennials know it.  Almost half of us, after all, grew up with parents who were divorced, or in single-parent households.  But the nuclear family remains the only form of family with cultural legitimacy.
Here’s the lesson I had to learn:  “Traditional” nuclear families today are no more stable or secure, no more or less likely to lead to lasting happiness, than “alternative” households.  In “The Sirens of Titan“, Kurt Vonnegut spends hundreds of pages coming to the conclusion that the purpose — or at least a purpose — “of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”  The problem with found families is exactly the same as the problem with every other sort of family.  There is no perfect structure, no single set of rules, that can guarantee that people will always be decent to each other, will never have growing up to do, and that nobody will ever get their heart broken ever again.
And that, I suppose, is what family means.
It means you love whoever is around to love.  That doesn’t mean you have to like them all the time.  Love takes work.  Living together takes work.  Sick and tired of waiting around in the antechamber of socially sanctioned adulthood, millennials are setting up home right here.  We are not waiting for our “real lives” to start.  We may never have the security or stability we were raised to desire, but we can still have commitment and community.  For me, this is my real life.  These are the households and relationships where I have grown up, learned how to take care of myself and other people, had my heart and brain and favorite mugs broken.  These are our real lives, brief and beautiful, stupid and unlikely, and we would live them far better if we were given permission — beyond the wish fulfillment of fiction — to believe in them.
    —    Laurie Penny
From her article: “Live Wrong And Prosper: It’s The Future Of Families
Appearing in:  Wired Magazine, dtd: July / Aug 2020
Online at:  https://www.wired.com/story/live-wrong-prosper-covid-19-future-of-families/
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On This Day In:
2020 A Message To Optional Trump Supporters (Basically Everyone)
2019 Bigger Jaws
On The Other
2018 Hoping For A Blue Wave In November
2017 Garden Dreaming
2016 Well, Maybe Not “No” Talent
2015 An Appetite For Life
A Trip To The Library
Great Expectations
2014 Pass The Soul
2013 Zapping Music And Art
2012 Not Quite Fantastic
That Kid Is Back
2011 Wolves At The Door
2010 I’m Feeling Patriotic… (Well, more than usual, anyway.)
Beating the Heat…

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This is a story about stories — and the way technology is changing the scope and structure of the stories we tell.  Right now, in untelevised reality, we are in the middle of an epic, multiseason struggle over the territory of the human imagination, over whose stories matter and why.  For me, it started with fandom.
While many millions of people out there felt that they had been written out of the future, not all of them agreed on who to blame.  Some of us blamed the banks, blamed structural inequality.  But some people don’t pay attention to the structure.  For some people, kicking up takes too much energy, and it’s easier to kick down — to blame women and people of color and queer people and immigrants for the fact that they aren’t leading the rich and meaningful lives they were promised.
But there are different kinds of love, aren’t there?  I used to believe that there was something universal about fandom, that our excitement and love for our most cherished myths could bring us all together.  This wasn’t the silliest thing I believed in my early twenties, but I had, at the time, swallowed a lot of saccharine nonsense about what love means and the work it involves.  I had not yet encountered in my adult life or in my fan life the sort of love which is always, and only, about ownership.
All nerds love their fandoms.  For some of us that means we want to share them and cheer them on as they grow and develop and change.  For others, loving their fandom means they want to own it, to shut down the borders and police their favorite stories for any sign of deviance.
Television and online streaming are driving the evolution of a new, powerful hybrid species of mass culture, one that can be collective without being homogeneous.  As arc-based television explodes, becomes more diverse and more daring, the film industry is lagging awkwardly behind.  Films are still hamstrung by their own format:  They have to tell stories of a certain length that will persuade enough people to leave their houses, find a place to park, and buy a ticket on opening weekend, or else be considered a flop.  This means mainstream cinema still needs to appeal to what the industry considers its broadest possible audience.  So it’s superhero blockbusters, endless remakes and reboots, and sequels to sequels that dominate the box office.  Safe bets.
Episodic narrative television, meanwhile, allows for many stories being possible at once.  Intimate and intricate, it may be the novel form of our age — but to reach its true potential, it took the advent of streaming platforms.  Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO.  Streaming technology changed one simple thing about the way we tell collective stories today:  It made any show theoretically accessible to anyone, at any time.  A TV writer is no longer obliged to appeal to a very large number of people at a specific time every week and hold their attention through ad breaks.  Suddenly, TV became a medium that could find its audience wherever they were in the world, so long as they had broadband and someone’s login details.  Nobody has to write “universal” stories anymore, because every show or series can find its audience — and its audience can engage on fan sites, forums, and various social media behemoths, in breathless real time.
    —    Laurie Penny
An excerpt from her article:  “We Can Be Heroes: How the Nerds Are Reinventing Pop Culture
Appearing in:  Wired Magazine
Issue:  September 2019
The article also appears online at:  https://www.wired.com/story/culture-fan-tastic-planet-fanfic/
[The online version of the article may be behind a paywall.  In which case, you can probably find the hard copy at your local library.    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2019 Sounds Like #LyingDonald
2018 Start Building
2017 Woof! Woof!
2016 Cast Out
2015 Small Pieces
Happy Father’s Day!
2014 Uncertain Work
2013 Unpatriotic And Servile
2012 What Price Freedom?
2011 Particular Importance
Three From Bette…

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