The Walking Dead is the metaphor for modern Journalism: The revenge of cannon fodder and how the profession lost its footing

The Walking Dead is a peculiar comic book, but then again, zombies are a peculiar breed of villain. Usually, villains have a face and a name and are integral and definitive characters in any given story…yet zombies are faceless, nameless, and just plain dead. They rarely have any sentience; they just kill in droves. They are not just the ultimate followers; they are cannon fodder twice over: they were killed by some other zombie before joining their ranks. They are toxic, yet disposable and you do not need to know their backgrounds, motive, or personality to get into any story with them. Their heartlessness comes from their mindlessness, just like killer robots.

What makes The Walking Dead more interesting than the standard horror concept is that the focus of the book is two kinds of cannon fodder: the zombies and the people running away from them. You do not have to know anything about the fleeting revolving door of characters you meet: they’ll all die sooner rather than later. It is as if you are a kid whose parents own a seafood restaurant and you foolishly name the lobsters in the tank and consider them to be your pets. It is less about heroes and villains per se, but more about what is usually ignored in stories: cannon fodder.

The entire cast of heroes and villains are essentially cannon fodder. That usually is the consequence of an ongoing story where anyone can die. Once established, that rig in the story turns the protagonists and antagonists into cannon fodder. Who they are becomes secondary to what fate holds in store for them. It becomes a competition in a “reality show” style: who gets bumped off is the focus, not how the winner comes out on top.

This genre of storytelling has a particular wrinkle: were characters downgraded from hero to cannon fodder – or were the cannon fodder upgraded to hero?

It depends on the story, but in the case of The Walking Dead, the answer is clear: the disposable characters got an upgrade. Because most are so poorly defined, the fact that there is any focus at all is important (In Afterlife with Archie, on the other hand, the characters received a major demotion for the simple fact these are established characters with decades of history, and in a single panel, it is all over for them).

With zombie tales, it is usually (but not always) a viral “outbreak” that causes the sorrows. A virus picks off the weakest first, but it does not discriminate: everyone is a target. In the comic, the elevated fodder usually succumbs to the virus that infects them. The zombies are mere carriers, nothing more. We don’t need to know anything about the zombie; they are just the delivery vehicle that lets those around them know that anyone can fall at any time.

The comic book and the show have both proven to be very popular, an odd thing given that character development is not the primary focus. It is all about survival and body counts. Where the wander virus will hit, how, and whom is where we build our primary suspense. Personality and character background are mere afterthought. The story begins at the very end where no one can possibly find Happily Ever After, and now people must endure a life that will always be inferior to a life they have known before.

Which brings us to the collapse of journalism.

So many journalists are still wondering what happened. They do not get a thing. They still believe Donald Trump did something to them to make them lose face, and despite what you think about him, he merely bypassed them before tweaking his nose at them.

If you want to begin to understand what happened to journalism, go read The Walking Dead. It is popular for a reason: because it has somehow managed to tap into a zeitgeist and exploit it.

But there is more to it than that.

A virus hit journalism with catastrophic results: it is called the Internet, though a more appropriate term is the Fourth Medium. When we talk about things “going viral”, we mean people are posting someone else’s stuff on their social media feeds and blogs. That’s it.

And that virus decimated journalism.

Reporters chased after big newsmakers, such as world leaders and A-list actors, and every once in a while, they had “man of street” pieces, asking regular citizens for their opinions on the big fish. These stories were disposable filler, while most news stories were considered the important essence of the news media.

But then came along the Fourth Medium that did something interesting: suddenly, the focus was no longer on the newsmakers so much as it was on the “man on the street” opinions that clutter Twitter and Facebook.

In other words, the cannon fodder got elevated thanks to the virus. Sure, the opinions were fleeting and disposable, but the cannon fodder finally got top billing in the Fourth Medium, something that eluded them in the first three.

Whose opinion or story went viral became more interesting than the personality or background of the person who posted it. We don’t have to bother with how a married couple are getting along, so long as we can call dibs on seeing their marriage video of them tangoing while reciting their vows.

We do not have to make any emotional investments: we just have to view the next viral amusement, whether it is a DIY propaganda poster insulting a world leader, a ranting Tweet, or a feel-good story about a cat in need. There is no commitment required, no understanding, and no emotionality. Just react to the next virus.

To newsmakers, they lost their luster and clout. Sports viewership is down, movies are tanking, and books and magazines are crumbling. Gravitas has been felled by the virus. It does not matter if the amateur opinionist knows not a single thing about a newsmaker, it will be their snarky opinion that will get all of the intention, front and centre for five seconds before the next snarker is up.

Journalism could not compete. Those in the profession were so used to wielding all of the power in determining what issues would be discussed and how people would view those issues and newsmakers, that did not see that the Fourth Medium was akin to a zombie apocalypse…and now their lives are in tatters at the end of the story where they cannot expect their lives to ever be as good as it was before the outbreak began.

Journalism needs to completely change. The old world is gone, and in many respects, it is a great relief, but if reporters honestly believe they can go back to the days where they held all of the cards, they are mistaken.

The question is how can a profession so utterly clueless to a shifting reality move forward in a much more alert and humble frame of mind. It is a concept I have spent the last two decades studying, and the answers are not as easy or passive as many in the profession deluded themselves into believing.

Memo to the Atlantic: Facebook is not the enemy. You are.

The Atlantic is a publication for those who wish to avoid reality and escape into arrogant Left-leaning sophistry that is devoid of facts or reason. I sometimes wonder if it actually written by angsty high school children who were raised in obnoxious white privilege, and hence, were doomed to meddle and patronizingly lecture the populace with their childish theories of life as they manage to alienate anyone who has a clue. It is bad, very bad poetry on a moody teenager’s blog, and one who is writing it simply because someone felt pity, and told him that he had something resembling talent for a writer.

As a journalist, you need a talent of finding facts more than a flair for writing.

For those of us who (a) live in reality, and (b) like facts, it is an offensive magazine. It is simplistic, and seems to be some sort of a propagandist’s journal on trying to figure out how to force every single citizen in America to be happy with limousine liberalism, even if it will cost them their shirt. Case in point: What Facebook Did to American Democracy: And why it was so hard to see it coming by Alexis C. Madrigal.

A far better title for it would have been “Who can the press blame for not getting their own way, and why everyone who had half a brain cell saw it coming except for journalists,” but that would imply that journalists finally clued in to why they have lost their relevance in 2017. Reading this article reminds me of Saturday Night Live’s The Girl You Wish You Never Started a Conversation With on Weekend Update. This is a vintage piece of someone trying to sound smart and analytical, but has no idea where to begin, and no effortless hack or bloated language is going to provide that magical shortcut for them. At least the diatribe is in typical journalese, so let’s have a look at why journalists are really clueless about the world they live in and are paid to chronicle.

To people not in the journalism business, they do not understand the absolute shock and trauma November 2016 brought to the profession (my upcoming book When Journalism was a Thing discusses this in detail), but we now have a generation of reporters who suffered the most profound professional disturbance one can imagine, save to discover you thought you were helping orphans escape from war to safety only to find out you handed them over to a group of pimp pedophiles who had full immunity.

As someone who covered the business of journalism, I knew exactly what was coming, but journalists who were so dense and oblivious to the obvious, did not. They did not see a Trump victory coming. Journalists thought all they had to do was be dismissive and rude to Trump, shame his supporters into not voting, fawn all over Hillary Clinton as they lectured people that it was now a “woman’s turn” to be president, and everyone would just play along. Ta da!

Of course, it didn’t happen because there were many ignored factors at play. Journalists are still in the denial stage, and it has been almost one full year of their horrific public failure. Every article since then has been written in meltdown mode, and this story is a prime example of it.

The first bit of manipulation happens fairly soon, with the writer trying to deflect criticism by making a false claim:

Reporters tried to see past their often liberal political orientations and the unprecedented actions of Donald Trump to see how 2016 was playing out on the internet. 

To pretend that reporters were looking past anything but their own egos means journalists do not even want to face the heart of their problem. It is off the table, meaning they do not wish to change themselves, but are still trying to manipulate everyone else to go back to a time where they could build or destroy lives the way they wished. Reporters do not seem to comprehend that they alienated people with this very behavior.

This knee-slapper of a comment does not align with the reality of the time: that reporters decided Hillary Clinton was the obvious winner and treated her political rival as an amusing political comic relief who could not possibly beat her, while ignoring that his strategy was cunning, cagey, and effective, showing that he, unlike Clinton, actually understood how to play the political game, even though he was a complete newbie to it and she was the veteran who spent most of her adult life in that gladiatorial arena.

An underestimated Trump understood that it wasn’t just about getting votes to the point of fighting for redundant ones. It is not, contrary to popular belief, a popularity contest, but an elegant campaign of strategy and math. He understood the concept of the electoral college. Clinton, for whatever reason, chose to play the role of oblivious and arrogant slacker, and she snatched defeat from the jaws of victory all by herself. She still doesn’t see she is her own worst enemy, and I doubt she has what it takes to ever be able to see it.

But journalists should have seen it, but didn’t and they are behaving like Clinton, looking for some big baddie to blame for their own moral and intellectual lapses.

No, Facebook did not help Trump win. Russia did not help Trump win. Trump won because he understood enough of the bottom line to win the game. He made promises to get critical swing voters on his side, and had a definitive vision with a specific agenda.

Democrats did not embrace him, but neither did Republicans. Jeb Bush was heir apparent and had an enviable war chest along with a family dynasty and extensive political experience on his side…and he was no match for Trump.

The Clinton campaign should have known then in what deep waters they were wading. Clinton had no vision or specifics to her campaign, which she absolutely needed to stay viable. She merely assumed vote-shaming people into putting a woman in the White House just because it was long overdue was a good enough strategy. Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for Hillary Clinton is not actually an inspiring war cry. She fought not to lose, and her rival fought to win.

As someone who is neither affiliated with the Left nor Right (call me an anarchist, political atheist, or radical centrist, I don’t care: I just will not be boxed in by static and arbitrary following games based on hypothetical constructs by any side who wishes to manipulate by tyrannical sink or swim logic), I knew Trump would win, and could do so even without the popular vote. He is an outsider who is willing to take risks: it was the way he conducted his business affairs and managed to make it as far as he did in a volatile industry.

Clinton was never presidential material, and she had eight years observing life right inside the White House, yet not a single lesson was she capable of learning. She never learns. She never learned when the far more charismatic and alert Barak Obama decimated her previous presidential ambition with the devastating Don’t tell my mama that I am voting for Obama grassroots jingle. He understood the future clearly, and rightly knew she was a curious relic of a bygone era.

Bernie Sanders understood it, but Clinton was always yesterday’s woman and in the Past she is serving a life sentence. She is a self-entitled lightweight and annoyance, and had the Democrats an ounce of common sense, vision, and gravitas, they would have kicked her to the curb twenty years ago, and gotten an angry and swaggering feminist in her place, launching her bid at a woman’s shelter. The Democrats needed a warrior, not a wonk – and certainly not a woman who rode on the coattails of the philandering man she continues to stand by – but then it would have meant admitting that the last eight years was not all limousine liberal paradise for every citizen in their own country. Heaven forbid a party admit they were wrong or needed to improve in some way. That party played it safe, and not only failed to win the White House, but also Congress, the Senate, and two thirds of the governorships as well.

But the Democrats weren’t the only oblivious institution muddling through life: journalists were also clueless to reality. I had conversations with those in the journalism business, stating my contention that Clinton could not win this game. They all dismissed me as being silly.

People needed jobs that got them food, shelter, utilities, and enough disposable income at the end of the month to do the things that make life more than a mere existence. We have multibillionaires run businesses where they have people working for free – or working a wage where they are still homeless, despite having a graduate degree. Trump merely pointed out the obvious, and for pointing out that obvious, he won an election. He knew his audience, and they repaid him for being able to see them despite all the white noise.

For all the outraged babbling that fake news tilted the election, journalists still fail to grasp the obvious: Trump won because he understood the game. Propaganda has always been with us: in the newspaper pages, in movies, and even in textbooks. Fake news is nothing new, and mainstream news outlets have been spewing fake news for decades. Stories about Enron and WorldComm’s success was nothing more than fake news. Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair presented fake news in The New Republic and The New York Times. (Don’t Believe It!: How lies become news chronicles all this mess).

What is bothering journalists to the point of irrational panic is that they told the little people how to vote…and they were ignored. People were ignoring news stories and flocking to Facebook and Twitter where they could express their own feelings, bypassing the gate-keeper the way Trump bypassed them. Journalists lost clout, and then lost face when their predictions turned out to be wrong: so instead of the necessary soul-searching, they chose to lash out like bigots against Russians, and like elitists against Facebook and the poor who voted for Trump hoping to find a way to claw their way out of poverty.

Make no mistake: this was a deathblow to the profession. They did not see reality. They could not make a realistic prediction: ergo, what are they good for if they treat reality as the enemy?

Journalists depend too much on narrative, meaning they can never comprehend reality or truths. Clinton provided them with a simple narrative with no facts and they bought it up without question and without thinking two steps ahead of what would it mean to the profession if her narrative did not align with reality. The problem was they could not convince every single American of that narrative.

Had they troubled themselves with facts and foregone narratives, they would have seen a very different picture emerge. Facebook is not the enemy as there were plenty of vitriolic anti-Trump propaganda and rhetoric on those same newsfeeds (meaning the entire hypothesis of The Atlantic article suffers from a devastating confirmation bias, making it useless), yet those who voted for Trump were not deterred by it.

But The Atlantic is still stuck in a vortex of good guy-bad guy narrative of a paranoid conspiracy theorist:

Facebook’s enormous distribution power for political information, rapacious partisanship reinforced by distinct media information spheres, the increasing scourge of “viral” hoaxes and other kinds of misinformation that could propagate through those networks, and the Russian information ops agency.

It could not possibly be that journalists have completely lost sight of their own mandates: it had to be some villain who wrecked their fantasy that whatever they decreed would be taken in as the gospel truth. The Russians did not have to lift a finger: people know whether or not they can pay their own bills, and when they cannot, they will reject the Establishment candidate, especially one who lies with a straight face that the reigning Establishment has been a boon to every citizen.

Here is Clinton – a candidate who was closely associated with predators such as the now-exposed Harvey Weinstein – and she still continues to behave as if she and her political party of choice gave a damn about women?

Journalists didn’t give a damn about women, either as they drooled and fawned over a misogynistic boor Hollywood player in their countless news stories over the years – and now they think Facebook had something to do with their diminishing clout?

Clinton was never a feminist, but an opportunist who dutifully followed a script as she wore a mask and dressed the part, yet nothing about her was even remotely genuine.

Had the news media been remotely genuine themselves, they would have called her out and wondered just how out of touch the Democrats had become with the rest of the populace. The Democrats have no vision; they merely preach and moralize as they shame anyone who does not completely allow themselves to be indoctrinated into their self-serving dogma, gleefully vilifying anyone who dares question their dictates.

That’s not politics: that’s religion.

Just as politicians have completely forgotten what politics is all about, journalists have also developed professional amnesia. They confuse opinion, sophistry, spin, narrative, and even propaganda with facts, The Atlantic article proved:

The real problem—for all political stripes—is understanding the set of conditions that led to Trump’s victory. The informational underpinnings of democracy have eroded, and no one has explained precisely how.

Not at all. The problem is journalists still do not understand that Facebook has nothing to do with their downfall. They are responsible for their own miserable and well-earned collapse. The New York Times was not just home to Jayson Blair; they also employed Judith Miller, who assured the American people that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction, and scores of innocent people died as a result of that newspaper’s gung-ho propaganda. They introduced the world to Trump in 1976 in this fawning way:

He is tall, lean and blond, with dazzling white teeth, and he looks ever so much like Robert Redford. He rides around town in a chauffeured silver Cadillac with his initials, DJT, on the plates. He dates slinky fashion models, belongs to the most elegant clubs and, at only 30 years of age, estimates that he is worth “more than $200 million.”

The media has repeatedly spread misinformation, lies, and propaganda recklessly for decades, and because they had been the only game in town, could do whatever they wished without consequence, knowing people had no alternative avenue to express themselves.

Then came the Internet that liberated people from those gate-keepers who, until that point, could deify and demonize people with no consequences. Trump became a monster to the press for one reason only: he knew their tricks as he had decades worth of experience – and then outclassed them to win an improbable contest.

Facebook became their scapegoat: how dare regular citizens have a right to choose what they choose to believe? They are supposed to swallow whatever story journalists tell them without question…and now that the media’s grip has weakened, they don’t know who to blame – they will certainly never blame themselves.

The rambling piece takes shaky study after shaky study to make a nonexistent point, but the truth is simple: a forced choice is no choice, and when there is the option to actually have your own choice, you will forego the limited options and go where you truly desire.

When Facebook came along, people could finally have a platform to themselves, even if it was showing the pathetic banalities of unflattering selfies or memorializing a greasy overpriced hamburger that starving feral animals would turn up their noses.

But the same holds true in elections: you don’t have a real choice: a few elites pick a couple of mediocre candidates, and then people have to hold their nose and vote. If people could bypass politicians to either make their own decrees – or at least choose a candidate they want in office without a leadership contest – no current politician could ever expect to be elected.

What we have in a political sphere is pseudo-democracy: we have very little say over the candidate running for political office: we must choose from a limited range of options. That is one step better than a dictatorship, but not as much as we’d like to believe. Worse, they are confined by their party’s stifling ideology.

Journalists never bothered to ask hard questions about the inherent weaknesses of the model of democracy we have settled on. They merely exploited it: overhyping elections to make them seem more exciting and life-altering than they are. They will cover debates and fight who will serve as their moderator; not wonder if winning a debate has any relevance to running a public office. They get on the campaign buses covering canned events such as photo ops, instead of skipping the fake events and looking for information relevant to what people really need to know.

Why are you covering a speech? It is nothing more than political advertising that someone other than the candidate wrote (and how many journalists wrote those speeches?). What are the specific plans a potential leader has for the country? How will they be implemented? Who will be on this leader’s team to carry out those promises? What are their backgrounds? What are their qualifications? What does this person stand for?

Instead, reporters and pundits are obsessed with image. They speculate and indulge in hypotheticals. They do not talk to people, but at them. They have no idea about what the homeless are thinking. They have no idea what women in shelters are looking for in a leader. They look at Twitter and Facebook and think you can actually know what people are thinking. They do not actually sit down and get to know their audience, who have become complete strangers to them.

Journalists want to sound learned, but they are not. They cite bad studies and useless polls, and then are floored when they cannot predict a very predictable reality. They have no feel for their surroundings, and no legitimate journalist can be numb to their environment.

If I want to know someone’s personal truth, the last place I would look is their Twitter feed. That is do-it-yourself advertising that shills your amateur book, album, podcast, comic book, or art/media project. I also would completely skip their Facebook feed because that is a form of personal public relations. That is the equivalent to the year-end letter people stuff in their Christmas cards telling you little Billy is going off to a prestigious college.

Journalists want to know about the world? They should put down the smart phone, tablet, or laptop. You have to sit with people in their natural setting, and listen to them. You have to look at their rundown homes with the knob and tube wiring and collection notices as they first try to put a sunny spin before they screw up the courage to speak the truth.

It is not “the Facebook” that caused Clinton to lose: it was her willful tone deafness to anyone who did not conform to her own privileged narrative. The press willingly enabled her delusions of competency, but the rest of the nation did not. The end.

Journalists are not supposed to rig elections by presenting skewed coverage; belittling or insulting anyone who is not impressed with their poorly thought-out subjective presentations. They need to work with humility more than anything else. Not everyone has the same hopes, dreams, life requirements, beliefs, or values. It does not make them lesser people.

Journalists also need to stop telling people what to think. They have become reactionary nags and judgmental gossips who are forever scheming on how to force people to abandon their own wants and needs to fit in with their flawed interpretations of reality.

Facebook is hardly perfect. It has big problems, but allowing people to resist someone else’s marching orders is not one of them.

So, to The Atlantic, here is the memo: it did not matter if people’s feeds were filled with real news, fake news, or news about adopted cats: people who were repulsed by the unrealistic ambitions of Clinton – a woman who stood for nothing, had no defining platform, and went in with the assumption that everyone was prosperous under the current regime and wished to go on with the status quo – were not going to vote for her. Ever. A vote for Trump was a protest vote, and protest votes do not magically appear after viewing a few canards on a social media feed: they come from years of institutionalized neglect and abuse, creating a lot of bad blood that boils and then explodes on election day.

The problem is that journalists never saw those raw years coming, and that shocking and disturbing oversight explains exactly why journalists have lost their relevance and credibility with millions of disenfranchised citizens. The Atlantic has always been one of the most clueless of offenders, and in their own warped bubble they continue to find false shelter as the world spins on without them.

Muzzling the Messenger: How the New York Times still does not quite get this Internet thing

The New York Times is behind the times, and in the age where anyone, no matter how empty-headed and uninformed, can broadcast their shallow-most thoughts, there is no use trying to move backwards. Their new social media “policy” insists their reporters refrain from using social media to broadcast their personal truths, such as the fact they do not like Donald Trump or that their mechanic did not fix their muffler and is doing nothing to remedy the problem.

Okay, what reality does the Times inhabit?

Do they think that muzzling their journalists will hide what they truly believe in their stories?

Of course not. What facts you see and what facts you ignore is guided by your interpretations of reality. There is no hiding that, and don’t think you are such a practiced liar that you can fool all of the people all of the time. You are not always the smartest person in the room. The Times has made numerous blunders over the decades. For example, more than one con man got away with fleecing people because that newspaper gave them legitimacy without asking hard questions. Those journalists just assumed those grifters got their wealth by legitimate means, which tells us something very important about their opinions on businessmen.

Objectivity is not pretending you do not have any biases because that is a lie, and everyone knows it is a lie. Objectivity is, in fact, acknowledging you have preferences, and then challenging your own beliefs. There has to be an element of struggle, dissonance, and true analysis as you revise your own assumptions. The simplest way to challenge yourself is by not falling for the confirmation bias: you absolutely have to look for evidence that refutes your theory and then face the fact that issues are more complicated than what your perceptions reveal. The more facts you present, the more you and your audience see that the story, event, or issue is more nuanced than what everyone initially believed.

Journalists are not the only ones with biases that need challenging: so do audiences who also have them. The purpose of a news report is to inform those biased audiences that their narratives and interpretations of reality do not align with the real thing. That is the reason we need to consider an issue from more than one or two perspectives: we can focus on a newsmaker, but while he is a hero to some, he is a villain to others. The point is to view people as human beings, not gods or devils. We can weigh the good and the bad and come with a more realistic view.

Reporting is not about spewing propaganda. It is not about manipulating audiences by fear-mongering, cheerleading, hero worshipping, or demonization. People get whipped into some childish outrage, and then they cannot actually think for themselves, and the worst thing of it all, they don’t realize they are not actually feeling that way, but have been talked into those unnatural emotions. They get injected with adrenaline, and then look at the choreographed feelings of others, mistakenly taking those feelings as their own.

Yes, it happens, and frequently happens to you. You are not propaganda-proof.

If done correctly, journalism informs rationally. It gives facts, and the audience can use those facts to make assessments and decisions.

But the Times’ policy does something to undermine that simple journalistic mandate: it gives reporters less freedom than the audience they are targeting. If common readers have more leeway to express, then why should they take the Times seriously? Why entrust a censored group who are withholding their feelings?

Because reason is only one-half the information we use to make assessments. We also use emotionality. An emotionally literate person has biases and reactions, but can use the reflection of logic and facts to revise their feelings just as their feelings give context to those facts. It is a feedback loop.

Hiding emotions is deceptive, and worse, the lack of emotions is a sign of an anti-social personality, while the lack of opinion is a sign of apathy.

In journalism, facts come first. We don’t need a reporter to meddle and tell us how to think — but we also need to get some sense of who a reporter is as a person.

A very good example of solid journalism was Ronan Farrow’s recent game-changing exposé of Harvey Weinstein in the New Yorker, a publication that usually peddles in arrogant sophistry. There is no question of who Farrow is and his background…and yet his reportage was accurate, truthful, honest, valid, reliable, useful and righteous. It had the balance of both logic and feeling. It did what a good piece of journalism is supposed to do: warn people about the hidden dangers and remind them not to be complacent followers who mindlessly cheer those who are destructive. We know Farrow’s stance and personal history, yet far from him being someone who shouldn’t have done the story, he became the very person to report it.

The New York Times needs to take a lesson from Farrow. You cannot hide the truth, or else you are as deceptive as those you condemn in your stories. Stop pretending and stop tethering your reporters to the point they have less freedom of expression than the audiences who have the freedom to do so.

It is not about hiding opinion. It is about facing those opinions and learning to channel them through the lens of reality and humility. You do not know everything and you have a lifetime to learn and adjust your opinions as you gain new information.

But the Times chooses to go back in to a less honest era to cover a world that has moved on.

How did Harvey Weinstein fool the world for so long? Ask your messengers: Why journalists were complicit in preserving a predator

Harvey Weinstein is finally getting introduced to reality, but the general public is still naïve as heck. His downfall is all being spun as if it were some sort of “Hollywood” problem, but the truth is sketchier than that.

Were journalists in the dark about an A-list Hollywood studio head who had a penchant to play the press to the point of making mediocre and milquetoast movies get turbo-hyped into Oscar winners?

Of course not. Journalists, by the very nature of their jobs, are hangers-on. They have to hang out in the corridors and back alleys trying to get elites and other Establishment types to comment of various stories. It is how they make their living. There is absolutely no way that any reporter does not know who is sleeping with whom.

Even as a journalism student covering one city hall event, I got the low-down from local reporters telling me all about a “council bunny” who was getting passed around by councillors and getting nice patronage appointments for her degrading troubles. I was an impossibly naïve young kid back then, and yet I found out all about one municipality’s grungy side within five seconds of standing in the hallway with reporters.

There is too much gossip to be traded. You don’t need a soap opera when you work as a journalist. Disgruntled unpaid interns, nannies, secretaries, janitors, maids, assistants, and other members of the Great Unwashed will vent to reporters as both are more than willing to discuss the ugly side of the beautiful people with each other.

So when The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan had this to say in one of her recent columns, I had a good chuckle:

Weinstein used the media like a bludgeon to keep his alleged victims in line, by many accounts. He did it skillfully — and with plenty of help.

It is half the picture: the press was more than willing to hype up a blowhard, and keep any information about his darker side to themselves. Why rock the boat when they might get invited to the next glamor junket?

But there is another side to the complicity: sexual harassment is also a problem in newsrooms.

What plagues Hollywood also plagues journalism. The dynamics of power are no different in the nonfiction arm of the media business, and often, the same executives cutting checks for prime-time actors are also cutting them for their reporters.

Roger Ailes was done in by his own unsavory tendencies, but he is not the first by a long shot.

Journalists can get away with it because no one is really making demands for them to open their vault of sins. Journalists may be more than happy to expose men such as Weinstein once his bag of goodies is empty, but the fact that the New York Times had the story way back in 2004 ,and did nothing with it shows that when it comes to sexual harassment, there is a reason why major outlets don’t actually see it as any deal at all.

Because it often is the same problems they experience in their own workspaces.

But go anywhere near the subject, and games of misdirection begin. Tina Brown’s piece in the New York Times is a classic example: she was the editor of Weinstein’s Talk magazine, whose debut cover is even more disturbing in retrospect, but when discussing working with such a boss, Brown begins to “bridge”: that is, she brings up Donald Trump in her piece as if it was part of the Weinstein shocker.

No, it is not about Trump, whose very name is a trigger word to many. Right now, it is all about Weinstein, and why editors in all those decades just kept potentially criminal behavior under wraps. Brown made a name for herself in trading celebrity gossip, and yet her article leaves way too many unanswered questions for comfort.

For decades, the press trained and encouraged the public to laud and admire someone who harmed women. Women paid money to see those movies, and people chattered about how great a Miramax or Weinstein Company movie was.

Had I been a journalist travelling in those circles, I would have never given a single word of praise to someone who behaved that badly. I would have done everything in my power to expose it.

But reporters never did. Many of those same journalists were being abused in the same way by their bosses – or were the abuser themselves.

We have had an enabling press turning monsters into powerful titans for decades. It is time to stop giving so many icons and idols the benefit of the doubt – or give the press the power to do so with factless and fawning fluff pieces.  It begins by becoming skeptical of those who insist on telling us how we should think about certain people.

Just give people the facts without the narrative. That’s what journalism needs to do because there are many tyrants getting fawning press coverage right this second – and you are probably getting miffed that someone on their social media feed isn’t falling for the very feints and ruses that you are buying without question.

Because if we accept facts rather than opinion, it goes a long way into helping us being able to stop the tyrants before they begin terrorizing everyone around them as they get to shape our culture, beliefs, values, opinions, reality – and world.

The Patriarchy is Lying to You, Part Two: The Beauty Is A Sexual Social Worker Hoodwink

There are some concepts that are fixable, but others that are not. The Patriarchal Storytelling structure is often misused to sell concepts that are not very good for people in the real world, even if they sound like romantic theories on paper, or at least a guarantee for better ways if you follow the instructions to the letter.

Many young women’s lives have been forever altered, and even ruined thanks to the toxic mindsets of Patriarchal stories, and we, at the very least, should acknowledge it.

Disney is one organization that has much to answer for with their Princess line of apologists for archaic thinking. These may have been based on old fairytales, but the message they send is horrifying. Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella push the passive approach to female existence, promising a man will save you if you pretty much just lie there and do nothing or take abuse from others, respectively.Beauty and the Beast is also a bad story to the core, but I often hear how it is a role reversal in that it is the woman who saves the man.

It is rubbish, of course, but Disney is trying to put a sunny spin on rot, by casting a self-proclaimed feminist Emma Watson in the role. Watson has a lot of goodwill on her side, but the film is still as misogynistic as it was when it was first told all those moons ago.

How is it sexist?

My disdain for the story came from the get-go, but it wasn’t until I was a twentysomething newspaper columnist when I interviewed a social worker who specialized in dealing with teenage girls who were in abusive relationships that I could actually put my finger on the exact reason the story was repulsive to women. She was someone who genuinely cared about the young women she saw staying in relationships with men who beat them black and blue.

Some of those girls, she explained to me, were shackled by the Cinderella syndrome, in that they thought their abusers were their saviours (financial, for example, but there were other carrots dangled that these young women misconstrued as positive reasons to keep a man who was giving them black eyes and broken ribs).

But the other was the Beauty and the Beast Syndrome.

These young women thought their beauty was going to tame these beasts. The tale suckered these girls into staying with a batterer because their love was somehow going to magically transform these beasts into their prince charming, except it never did.

The scam takes advantage of something women do an awful lot by nature — what Arlie Hochschild coined as “emotional labour”. Women are the ones who keep families together, and that takes work — emotional work.

That focus on “fixing” a man means she will have to sacrifice that focus and ignore other things, such as her career, well-being, and happiness.

So no, Belle is not some sort of sexual social worker who is going save her man, she is just being distracted as she wastes her life.

Notice that Belle doesn’t stand up to the Beast from the get-go. She doesn’t start her own business to get her family out of poverty. She hooks up with a monster who financially supports her. The end. (And there is the threat of dire consequences if she leaves his castle, a common feint cults use).

So Beauty and the Beast merely encourages young women to settle for abuse with the promise that if they behave in the correct way for long enough, the payoff will be that her beast will become civilized. The notion is truly sickening — and is a waste of that emotional labor women are adept at expending.

It does not surprise me that this movie did as well as it did. It should not have, of course. It should have been denounced and Watson’s backside kicked hard from here to tomorrow as her right to call herself a feminist gets revoked until she actually understood that no feminist would have ever agreed to play a Disney Princess under any circumstance, especially as Disney cagily banked and exploited her feminist label to prevent people from denouncing a sexist story.

While Disney gets Matriarchal Storytelling when it comes to their more masculine properties, such as Star Wars and Marvel, it is clueless when it comes to their more feminine concepts. The problem is their Princess Line is too profitable for them to merely scrap it all in favour of something far more stable and liberating.

Princesses in stories have made a mess of a lot of women’s lives, encouraging them and instructing them to not cut their losses because if she holds on just long enough, her will can overpower an abusive male partner and he will just change for her, never mind that he has found the advantage of stealing all of her focus: she fusses over him as she helps his career at the expense of her own. She rewards bad behaviour by staying with someone who has earned to be alone — not some who is owed a servant.

Belle is not the only one whose story is unfixable: Wonder Woman is just the same: she takes off from paradise at the first male she sees, and slums it as she keeps saving her crush’s hide, all while prancing around in a modified Playboy Bunny suit.

The 50 Shades series and Twilight are adult retellings of Beauty and the Beast.

They all sell books and movie tickets, but at what price?

If you are a woman who has stayed in a beastly relationship or beastly job because you thought you could transform it into something functional, you may very well have been shackled by the toxic life philosophy of Belle.

I always said women could turn any Hell into paradise, but the point of life is not to ever reward those conniving demons with a paradise from your labor: if they want it so badly, let them clean up their own act, and not use you as their source of energy and servant.

It is not a talent to be proud of — it is a bad habit to question. Life is not easy, but we do not have to make it more complicated, either.

Matriarchal Storytelling doesn’t put up with the Beasts or the Belles as it a method of questioning our untested truisms, not continue to perpetrate them.

I have played around with the concept of Belle in my character of Alena Love — a teenage girl from Texas from the late-1800s who once came from obscene wealth until her mother died — and then her braggart father blows that fortune in less than a year, but in his need for money, he strikes a deal with wealthy older men, promising his two daughters’ hands in marriage in exchange for some cash.

Yet Alena Love is nobody’s fool. She figures out that a party her father threw was, in fact, a trap for her and her sister. She may have been the belle of the ball at the party, but the price was too steep.

If she were a character in a patriarchal yarn, she would have gone through with the marriage as she fought to save her soul.

But she is a Matriarchal heroine, and instead of playing the role of a sheep who is being taken to the market, she grabs her sister Vivian and gets the hell out before her father has a chance to see his plan through.

They never see or hear from their father again, but they meet up with a young Cajun teen in Louisiana who narrowly escaped a lynching — the three girls are tired of being second-class citizens due to their sex, and in Liselle’s case, race, and decide to find a town that will treat them as equals.

They are repeatedly chased out of town, mostly due to Alena’s little public sermons extolling equality for all regardless of sex, race, and even sexual orientation.

While Belle tap danced for the beast, Alena and her companions tell those beasts what jerks they are, but eventually find a small forest, and along with two other young girls they meet along the way, decide that if they cannot find a town that sees the world the way they do, the five, eventually known to the world as The Rocking Hand, will make their own town from scratch.

It is a hard road as they must build their houses, gardens, and make their own clothes and food, but eventually, twelve other young women join them in creating their own home.

They face obstacles and even stand up to violence, but they are not princesses expecting men to do their dirty work — they do it themselves.

They still find their loves along the way, but on their own terms. They are seen as rebel outlaws to the rest of the world, but their grit and determination defeats the fear of others.

The Matriarchal thrives with the concepts of innovation, invention, and re-invention. It is about the thrill of creating something new when the old is rigged to hold you back unnecessarily.

Belle gives in to the system. Alena thumbs her nose at it as she inspires generations after she breathes her last. In the Matriarchal style, I can write about a young Alena in her early days, but then also show an elderly Alena as she inspires her granddaughters in their own respective stories — and see how her descendants thrive with her legacy — and how those unrelated to her take her words and actions to heart as they are guided to build their own worlds to make a better tomorrow.

Feminism is about building new foundations. It is an exciting way to shake up the world from Sleeping Beauty’s passive slumber. It kicks Cinderella in the backside for relying on her looks instead of putting stepmom and stepsisters in their place.

And it also shows the ugly side of Belle who sacrifices the future of young women with the false promise that they are heroines who can change the ways of their abusers instead of showing them self-reliance and defiance in a world that has too many pleasers and enablers, but not enough rebels bringing people back to their senses.

#ellowrites

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The Patriarchy is Lying to You, Part Two: The Beauty Is A Sexual Social Worker Hoodwink

The Patriarchy is Lying to You, Part One: The Utopia/Dystopia Scam

Life often puts us on a hamster wheel, where we are forever running in place, getting tired and used up, and we don’t even realize how we have been conditioned to think in ways that are unnatural to us and even work against the very stuff of our souls.

We don’t realize our thoughts are unnatural and there is a game that has rigged things to favour certain people over others. We think we are idiots, but what we have been is secretly trained to believe things that actually harm us.

Storytelling is one of the ways we can enslave people, but it can also be used to liberate us.

As a storyteller, I agonize over subtext. I question structures of stories even more than content because structure is the silent and invisible prison that prevents true progress from happening.

I love Matriarchal Storytelling because its structure is fluid, not static. In fact, the emphasis is on the structure as much as content — and at times, it is the structure of the story that counts more than content.

Because the Patriarchal focuses exclusively on content, its structure is rarely questioned, but it should be questioned.

Vigorously.

Why?

Because so much of society’s base assumptions dutifully follow the untested truisms based on the Patriarchal structure.

For example, why can’t we achieve equality in 2017? Considering how long humans have been interacting with one another, you’d think racism/sexism/homophobia would just be eradicated, yet every day, we have people getting harmed by authority figures (the city counsellor in my riding was hassled and carded by police last year, for instance, and Wyclef Jean was recently handcuffed by police. The only hassling either one of these men should get from police is for them to ask for autographs, but I digress).

We have people, to this day, not realize that being a woman is not a genetic defect.

How, on earth, have we absolutely not evolved by this time?

Because we have been conditioned since children to accept a very latent assumption that the Infinite is dystopia, while the One, by default is utopia.

In futuristic films and novels, a dystopian world is very, very bad. There is anarchy and chaos, and disharmony because there is some latent competition among people who just refuse to be part of the One.

But Utopia is all about harmony of the One. The hero swoops in, and after getting everyone to think just like he does, people become followers as the hero leads them to paradise.

Oh, nice try.

That is pure patriarchy talking. Why can’t people just give up their free will, hopes, dreams, and independent thinking, and go with the flow?

Aside from the fact that everyone’s life requirements are different, they really shouldn’t.

But stories told in the Patriarchal style absolutely reject this. To have plurality is considered evil, yet life is a mosaic: every piece has its place and contributes to the whole without losing its individuality.

In the Matriarchal, dystopia is not evil by default; in fact, we can all have a common thread (to embrace progress, freedom, individuality, kindness, happiness, and peace), yet how we achieve those shared qualities requires us to follow our own instincts. Far from being competitive, we are cooperative. We do not become threatened because a group of people progress. We, in fact, make certain that if a group starts to lag, we figure out the problem so that no one gets ahead at someone’s else’s expense.

It’s not hard, but there are seeds planted in us at a very early age where people who have different opinions from us are labelled “villains,” and when there is people following their own paths, we are to see it as “dystopia” — a place of ruin and misery.

The underlying message is simple: well, if these groups just all went lockstep with the hero, we’d all be united, and happy!

That is nothing but a lie and a scam used by people who are so petty and myopic, they think they cannot have any success in life unless they trick people into sacrificing themselves and not pursue their own dreams.

No wonder we cannot tell stories past Happily Ever After — we are too scared to contemplate that world of relinquishing our freedom to appease a control freak.

Where are the stories that embrace the beauty and excitement of multiplicity and does not see the Infinite as something to fear and despise?

Utopia can only be utopia if we embrace the different chords that all have a place and purpose. A patriarchy does everything it can to discourage the notion that we can have plurality. The patriarchal, when left unchecked, veers into monomania. When you become obsessed with always staying on top and dominating everybody and insist they all think and act like you, you miss an awful lot — problems simmer because all you see is The One.

We never learn to truly tolerate ideological differences, nor do we learn to navigate and negotiate when we reach impasses. We are trained to make other submit, rather than find the way for both (or more) parties to mutually benefit.

Matriarchal Storytelling is about connection with other people who are from different times and places.

That means the Patriarchy has been messing with us. It is not about conquering and submission. It is not about defeat and victory. We share this space, and those who are spending billions building flotillas, bunkers, and spaceships trying to run away, I have very bad news: you cannot run away from yourself.

Nor can you run away from the truth.

And the truth is we have been doing it wrong. We have become afraid and fear brings anger and hatred. We have been living in the dark ages where xenophobia thrives. It is time to put an end to those ridiculous lines in the sand, and start connecting to others in a genuine way.

The best way to bring people together is by starting with a very good story that weaves everyone in as it speaks to every heart in earnest truthfully. The meaning of life is different for each of us. We cannot expect progress if we force people to live an unnatural life.

We can have a world that is a paradise — but we can’t have it if we keep drilling it into future generations that everyone has to sacrifice their heart and soul to someone else to get there.

The Thrills of Being an Urban Idealist: Why the positive is not Pollyanna in Matriarchal Storytelling

Optimism gets a bad rap these days as Batman is seen as cooler than Superman, but the problem is we have confused what is optimism with what is pessimism, and then our perceptions become misaligned.

Optimism is not about not seeing reality as it is. It is about being confident in your ability to improve a bad situation – but it is also seeing that others around you can do better because they are capable and you push others to try harder so their lives can improve.

You see the faults, but optimism compels you to better your surroundings.

Pessimism, on the other hand, is not about seeing a bad situation, but not having the confidence of seeing the solution.

Often, pessimists complain, but other times, they are sneakier with how they frame their negativity. They spin bad things to make them sound like good things. They live in a dump, but then go on and on about how great things are – always spinning a bad situation so they don’t have to deal with the rot and ruin because deep down, they think they cannot overcome; so they retreat and make excuses.

That is latent pessimism.

It is often hard to distinguish optimism with latent pessimism, unless, of course, you use Matriarchal storytelling techniques to weave your stories.

The Matriarchal is all about realism in human interactions, not wishful thinking: because we have multiple protagonists weaving in and out of stories, there is a scientific element to it: we can directly compare characters, their mindsets, and outcomes. In the patriarchal, characters are in a vacuum, so we must take a narrator’s word that the hero is an optimist or pessimist.

In the Matriarchal, we see the results and outcomes of various characters of equal importance, and thus, we can begin to see patterns. Is the hero really optimistic when he does nothing but be an apologist for toxic behaviors? Is the heroine who seems like a complainer resigned to a bad situation – or is she realistically assessing a situation to see the flaws – but also the latent strengths because she is a visionary who wishes to rise above the mess around her?

Suddenly, we have far more complex and interesting philosophical fodder to contemplate: what is the meaning of optimism? Can you be both an optimist and a realist?

Of course you can. You can be an urban idealist: you see all the problems you face, but you still strive to push forward because you know you can be better as you make your surroundings better. The Matriarchal favors urban idealists who do not wear rose-coloured glasses – but it doesn’t stop them from being Edenic in nature: they strive for utopia by creating a mosaic.

Which leads us to another interesting perk of Matriarchal storytelling: characters do not have to be extremist, but they can be from the radical center: they can be a balance of two seemingly contradictory qualities. The realistic optimist seems like an impossible quality, yet with the Matriarchal, it is more than possible to be both. A utopian who believes in embracing the infinite also sounds impossible, yet with the Matriarchal, it is an ideal.

We can embrace new combination of personality traits to create balances that reflect modern sensibilities. It is not either/or all the time. We can understand the value of One just as we can understand the value of the Infinite.

In other words, we can be urban idealists as we are out to make the world a kinder place. It is not a childish delusion: it is an innate drive to cherish and unleash with confidence.

The Matriarchal gives us the tools to tell stories from a different point of view: we can see the problems like Batman, but strive to solve them like Superman.

We can be both. We can bring both extremes together to meet in the middle, and when they embrace each other, nothing is impossible.

#ellowrites

The Princess is the Enemy: Why Patriarchal Storytelling has harmed Women Covertly

There is a very good column in The National Post about feminism’s biggest silent killer: The Princess in fictional storytelling, and it its essential reading, given the climate these days.

Newstalk 1010 had a discussion of it on Jerry Agar’s show today, but the male panelist and host’s complete ignorance of the problem is not unexpected. A lot of men don’t get it, mostly because it’s not their own backsides in question, but also because people who do not write fiction for a living really don’t understand the nuances of subtext, and it is time those men get their education in it because they are defending very reactionary and archaic thought patterns, and as one of the panelist’s erroneously assumed, shallow window-dressing updates cannot hide the stench of the Princess Archetype.

The princess is the enemy. She is not praise or a map to how any woman should live her life. In a world where women who are sexually assaulted cannot get justice, are victims of domestic violence, and do not get the same pay for the same work, there is no room for princesses.

So let me explain it to those who don’t have a clue, and really would benefit from being teachable.

The Princess is the shackles that has kept women back for a very long time. In essence, this archetype is something of a Mary Sue — someone who comes from privilege, feels self-entitled, gets herself in scrapes because she assumes she is good enough as she is, yet is hopelessly short-sighted, and then doesn’t change, yet life gives her a different outcome for doing the same thing and thinking in the same way — either a male beneath her has to swoop in to save her worthless and arrogant hide — or by some miracle, her passive nature is rewarded and everyone else has to accommodate her.

It is far from the hero’s journey men get to read as boys: you work your way up. You see the weaknesses of others — but true change arrives when the hero sees his own inherent weaknesses, owns up to it, and makes changes within himself before he makes his surroundings better.

The modern princess is not a hero, not even if Disney puts out some pseudo-female empowerment press release pretending that they do. They are not fooling anyone with a functioning brain.

The panel discussion is worth a listen, only to point out how ignorant people who are in the communications industry can be when it comes to the ideas of narrative. One of the panelists used the real life stories of Beyonce and Oprah Winfrey as example of good princess narratives and said that princesses don’t always wear crowns.

Those rags to riches narratives aren’t about princesses — those are hero’s journey stories — and they are real-life stories spun to give a newsmaker a certain image, but if we were to indulge this theory — those women aren’t princesses, but queens. Get your royalty straight before you disagree with someone who thought a problem out longer than you did.

Second, a princess is not about a crown: it is about a vortex or a hamster wheel that someone keeps spinning on because they cannot see themselves as they are — they have no power, and then have to make educated guesses what someone in power is like so they can get what they want in the way that they want it.

Princesses get things because of who they are — they are passive, coast on their youthful looks, and the modern princess in Patriarchal storytelling is still passive. Things just work themselves out in the end — she doesn’t have strategy. She has to have others tell her of her strengths. She always has to build consensus and appease others because she can never stand alone.

Modern storytelling still gives women a single option: not to reflect on herself honestly and realistically so she can see what she needs to do around her — and with herself — to have control of her circumstances in order to build her own worlds and empires on her own terms.

Feminism is at a crisis right now, and it happened because we had too many princess stories distracting us from creating the stories we need so that we are never, ever again at a place where we have to fight battles that should have been resolved decades before. Feminism needs to change its strategy right here and now: and one of the first orders of business is to completely abandon the princess and the patriarchal for Matriarchal Storytelling structures to give women an array of viable options of strategy.

It is the reason I began A Dangerous Woman Story Studio in 2013 — because the world doesn’t need another princess secretly harming women who shouldn’t be marching on the streets yet again — but in the world shaping it to make certain women can go as far as they want and need to for her to reach her full potential.

Matriarchal Storytelling’s Fiat Lux, and Why Women in Fiction Matter

Patriarchal storytelling is a narrative in the dark ages because so many portrayals of women leave too much to be desired. We have princesses who need rescuing as their fathers bribe men with crowns to marry them, all while the princess thinks she is so perfect, she never needs to grow, change, or be well-rounded. Her entire purpose in life is to get married and live Happily Ever After.

Or, she must be a queen bee who can never share a spotlight or be happy for any other women who has successes, too.

She is a damsel-in-distress, a second banana, arm candy, trophy, evil step-mother, husband-hunter, bitter spinster, man-stealer, or even cannon fodder, but because the patriarchal is all about a single hero who must save everyone from themselves, female characters get the short end of the narrative stick.

Male characters get the perks of gravitas, respect, eccentricity, and can even be weird jerks who will still get top billing. Male characters get all of the perks and their characters change and evolve, but often at the expense of the female characters. Oh well, that’s the nature of the patriarchal structure; so just roll with the punches and make do.

Of course, the idea that a rig must be kept in place is more than just silly; it is obnoxious. What is wrong with outrageous women with quirks and gravitas? No wonder publishing is in a big mess: it is in the dark about what women want and need.

And they want is to be unleashed as they roar their own Fiat Lux!

Women have been held back for far too long because they are expected to sacrifice themselves for the Greater Good, except there is one catch…

You cannot achieve the Greater Good if you sacrifice women. That is truth and that is reality. Women matter. Women matter as much as men. Women are not supposed to just be resigned to be denied, and then just take it. Women are not immortal beings who can afford to waste a century or two. They are brilliant and hard-working, just like men, but we never get to know their true potential because the system of Patriarchal narratives does not entertain the fact that perhaps there is more to a woman than to be used a plot device to make the male character look good.

For years, getting stories out about diverse female characters was a challenge because the literary rig made it hard to do it properly. It was masculine rig that favoured male characters from the get-go. It is tune with their wants and needs. The narrative works in its favour: a maverick comes in from nowhere, challenges the status quo with his swagger, he uses strategy to get what he wants, and he wins all with a gorgeous babe on his arm.

That is Patriarchal storytelling.

The Matriarchal has other ideas.

And on the top of the list is that women are frustrated because they are always held back in some unnatural way, and her challenge is to remove those rigs, confines, and barriers as she lets every grain of her being push forward.

She can do it alone, but more make it a fun and fantastic party with a purpose.

How does the Matriarchal do that?

It does it in several critical ways: first, because we can explore multiple characters, a protagonist has a strong supporting cast who all shine in various ways. We can even have two characters shine in the same way: we see it is not a competition or rivalry, but why not double the resources as both go at the same problem from two different angles or ways? It is not always a dynamic where everyone has to be completely different [think of The Monkees: The Smart One (Mike), The Cute One (Davy), The Funny One (Mickey), and the Naive One (Peter)]. The underlying assumption is no two character can step on each other toes because there will be rivalry, friction, or redundancy, which is absolutely silly and unjustified.

We can explore personality better as we can see how very different personalities can get along to achieve a common goal. We can have several smart and strong personalities cooperate and not try to dominate others, or tell the what to do or how to think. The Matriarchal is about freedom and the power and strength freedom gives us. Your strength does not come from being a tyrant: it comes from working with the energy of others as you share your energy. Idealism is not a childish or impossible concept; in fact, it is the most important quality to have if you wish to have a progressive life that evolves, expands, strengthens, changes, learns, gives, and grows.

But the Matriarchal has another purpose, and that is to show benevolent strategy. I often find there is a black hole when it comes to having strategies for women that are in tune with a woman’s reality, truth, experience, biology, and mindset. We have manuals such as The Art of War, for example, but they aren’t the same for a woman’s life where she finds herself in a cutthroat situation and things are stacked against her: she doesn’t have the experience of strategy as her male counterparts, she doesn’t have the same backing support, connections, or clout — plus she has relatives to look after who don’t understand that she needs focus in her career and she must divide that focus as she is in her daily gladiatorial arena.

The Matriarchal thrives in creating the maps for all kinds of strategies, but it is not all about being a destroyer, but a creator who builds worlds. It is all about that fiat lux, but one the enlightens the world about what women want, need — and can do when she does not have to be distracted by a patriarchal narrative that wants her to run to a hero when she could have just as easily done the job herself.

With the Matriarchal, men can still be heroes — but so can women. There is no divine or natural rule that says women cannot be heroes in the same stories as men. For too long, we have gone in with the assumption that the Patriarchal was the only way to tell a story. The structure made a lot of damage, and it is time that we demand Matriarchal stories.

We need a structure that shows us that we can be wonderful heroes in life without entertaining the notion that others must play second fiddle to us. We need stories that show us the power and beauty of finding our places as we make the most of the time we have here on Earth. We need stories to show us new strategies of coming up against bullies and manipulators that give us energies and results, not drain us as it seemingly breaks our spirit when we hot back and it appears not to make a difference.

Storytelling is a calling like no other because it is a profession of creation: storytellers build. They entertain as they inspire and teach. They are the needle that sews people across time and space together to make an ever-growing cloth.

But we must insist on exploring different structures to tell stories. The Patriarchal model has now hit a wall, but that wall is one that the Matriarchal can get through to the other side that requires women to be free as they create, inspire, invent, and grow as they make this a place of kindness that is tune with their hearts that is filled with a mighty light that shines its brightest when it creates.