Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Blind Assassin: a critique of sorts. Wrestling with Margaret Atwood!

An intellectual post today, praise me or hate me for it! Strap your seatbelts on! For anyone who hasn't read the book, this is the stuff: http://www.amazon.com/Blind-Assassin-Novel-Margaret-Atwood/dp/0385720955 Check out the reviews for some proper gushing.

I guess that The Blind Assassin qualifies as a feminist novel. A lot of it is about exploring the ways in which women have been oppressed throughout their history. Iris Chase is married off when she is eighteen, her sister Laura is sent off to different schools and eventually an inhumane clinic as a way of suppressing her extravagance, their mentor Reenie becomes pregnant and has to get married practically against her will, and so on goes the story, littered with anecdotes and interesting facts about how women were treated and/or perceived (cooking, sewing, gardening & the rest of the full smack).

Central to the book (titular, in fact) is the relationship between a blind assassin and a mute girl who is supposed to be sacrificed. The assassin is meant to kill her but eventually they fall in love with each other, so he takes her away and on the run to get out of the city. The image of these two kids is by far the strongest and most brilliant moment of the book. It functions as a superb metaphor for the relationship between man, blinded by his own drives and desires to the pain and damage that he causes, and woman, incapable of communicating her own suffering to the men (further layers are added when you consider that her tongue was cut off by men, but those were the same men who blinded the assassin). The exchange between the two then becomes partial, fugacious, full of stumbling in the dark and silent weeping, but also carnal and primordial. A very rich moment of literature, definitely one of Atwood’s best.

However there are some problems. For a book that is purportedly about gender relations, I found it to be often unexpectedly naïve about its own subject matter. For starters, there is a gigantic problem with Laura Chase, the sister of the protagonist. Iris Chase seems (implausibly) more interested in exercises of linguistic virtuosity than in writing a memoir: Season of chrysanthemums, the funeral flower; white ones, that is. The dead must get so tired of them. – very pretty, but why the sudden curve into esoteric witticism? Thus, she seems to be nothing more than a surrogate for the author, whose interest in showing off with language is much more credible.
This is the lady, for anyone who's wondering.
The problem with Laura is exactly the same – she too is just an authorial surrogate, albeit in a completely different way. Where Iris represents the conscious (or self-conscious) side of Atwood, Laura stands for the side which belongs to the subconscious. According to Iris, ‘Laura was strange.’ Indeed the character is eccentric, but the nature of her eccentricity is so disingenuous that it almost results irritating: Laura is incredibly sensitive and invariably innocent, as well as socially inept. Oh wow. She is also asexual, reaching the age of twenty-something without showing anything like a hint of desire for a man, let alone a relationship (the closest she gets is her Mother Teresa-style attempt to save Alex Thomas, the communist lover of Iris).

Laura is not a character. She is an ideal. She is a subconscious projection of the self in its perfect integrity. For all of her social dysfunctions, she is always stalwart in her confidence in herself and her identity (just like we all would like to be). She is simply the female Tyler Durden. And, much as with Tyler Durden, the protagonist is split into two selves – the present and actual Iris, with all of her insecurities and her self-awareness (even excessive self-awareness, given how circular her style ends up being), and the ideal and transcendental Laura. Hell, she even has the name of the most famous mythical woman after Helen of Troy – hello Petrarch? Laura is a character whose privacy is entirely inaccessible (compare Tyler Durden, who is a man and totally public as a figure, with Laura, who is a woman and totally private as a figure – an interesting and revealing polarisation, I think). In this, she actualises the fantasy of the reader – it’s certainly seductive to think of ourselves as some mysterious and unreachable individual who is totally self-confident and whom others can’t figure out. We are the heroes, albeit ‘misunderstood’ heroes. Predictably, Atwood doesn’t have the courage to attribute this fantasy to the real ‘speaker,’ and she splits the voice from the subconscious ideal into the two sisters. But they are indeed the same person, and the speeches of Iris sometimes even parrot the ones she attributes to Laura in her memoir – for instance, Laura demonstrates an eccentric theological interest. Compare this with Iris’s own journal entry in The Water Nixie:

God works in his mysterious ways his wonders to perform, as Reenie used to say. Could it be that Myra is my designated guardian angel? Or is she instead a foretaste of Purgatory? And how do you tell the difference?

Is the above paragraph not the kind of thing we may expect Laura to say, quite exactly? According to Iris, they even wrote The Blind Assassin ‘together,’ even though Laura’s presence was only spiritual. The two sisters are the same character – both stand as expressions of the same (authorial) voice, struggling with the relationship between what it would like to be and what it is.
Laura's younger brother
Unlike Fight Club, TBA does not acknowledge the tension between actual and ideal self. While Pahlaniuk has the characters finding out that they are the same person and even confronting each other, Atwood insists to the end that the two sisters are two different characters.

Furthermore, for a novel that purports to be about gender relations, it seems to hold the two sexes to very different standards. Of course I don’t have an issue with the story being told from an exclusively feminine perspective, that’s not just legitimate but natural, but the representation of the men is ruthless to say the least. There is not a single man who is likeable in the entire novel. The father of the two girls is an alcoholic who abuses his wife and neglects his daughters, and whose only redeeming feature is a sort of military attachment to his wife. Iris’s designed husband Richard is a heartless monster and he even indulges in child abuse, as we later find out. The teacher of the sisters, Mr Erskine, is a fascist and he too indulges in child abuse (it must have been fashionable back in the day). Alex Thomas, the communist lover, is cynical to the point of nausea, and proud of his cynicism too. Walter, the husband of Iris’s care-taker when she is old, is good to the extent that animals can be good – he’s basically a mindless brute, used for menial tasks like driving her around or shovelling her snow, and Iris frames him by saying that ‘there are some men for whom chewing is a form of thinking’ (I’d love to see how Atwood would react to an equivalent passage about women: ‘there are some women for whom washing plates is a form of thinking’). Then there’s some side-characters who are male – an old French waiter who offers to marry her, people in the cinema who try to harass her, soldiers whom she can’t speak with because they’d ‘mistake her intentions,’ and other assorted folk whose sole occupation of the mind is an attempt at fucking her (or fucking some other girl).

The book disallows for the notion that men are capable of having good feelings, or an intelligence (one which doesn’t express itself in cruelty, at least), or even just an interiority. Her male characters are flat and incapable of ambiguity or paradox. Above all, in TBA men are incapable of possessing sensitivity. This is how Alex Thomas thinks of Iris when he has to part from her:

Her lovely distressed face wavers like a reflection in a troubled pool; already dissolving, and soon it will be into tears. But despite her sorrow, she has never been so luscious. A soft and milky glow surrounds her; the flesh of her arm, where he’s held it, is firm and plumped. He’d like to grab hold of her, haul her up to his room, fuck her six ways to Sunday. As if that would fix her in place.

Let’s roll! I’m sure that when John Clare was taken away from his wife to be locked into an asylum, he was thinking to himself, ‘I’d love to stick it up her ass as hard as I can!’ I’m not saying that this element does not exist in the male psyche – of course it does, and sometimes it can become incredibly pervasive, even predominant. I just wouldn’t reduce the male psyche to this bestial sentiment, which is the only one ever expressed by men in TBA.

The great inconsistency in TBA, then, is that it doesn’t respect its own brilliant metaphor. Women are ‘mute,’ but men are anything but ‘blind’ in this novel. They see all the damage that they cause, and in fact they seem to take pleasure from it. The narrative negates the delicate ethical balance which its central metaphor suggests. To me, the incongruity is so glaring that I find it astonishing that such a novel could have won the Booker Prize (assuming that it is as prestigious a prize as it appears).
Talk about a bitch-slap title. But the question is legitimate.
I won’t go so far as to say that I’m ‘concerned’ or ‘insulted’ by this book. It’s a well-woven story and I enjoyed reading it. But I wonder whether the message it’s sending out is as limpid as it would like. Mainly, and judging by its portrayal of gender relations, I wonder if it mightn’t be a case of using feminism simply as a pretext for androphobia. There does seem to be an undercurrent of discrimination against men in Atwood’s writing, and TBA definitely buys into the tone and structures which characterise texts normally labelled as misogynistic, only it inverts the genders.

I’d love to hear what the ladies think about this. I, for my own part, will take refuge in Atwood’s poetry, which I think is much more aware and ‘responsible’ than her prose, and in my opinion also much more interesting. I say this having read only two of Atwood’s novels, and I’d like to qualify this by stating that I thought Surfacing was a much better novel than TBA, though I did read it quite a while ago. I’ll give a shot at some more of her stuff at some stage, but I’d like to say that I remain a fan – albeit one which she probably is not interested in having, seeing how I happen to be a man.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

American Football!

I’d like to believe that I am a pretty fit piece of cake in the local bakery, but after a while everyone needs some variation, so when choosing a sport to sign up for, I go for American Football. I am not going to be naïve, so I enquire with the gigantic mammals seated at the desk whether a kid with no experience or knowledge of the game can be useful to the team. They respond positively.

In American Football, you scream a lot. More, perhaps, than in any other sport. The introductory meeting alone ends with the entire room standing up like gibbons at a rally screaming the team’s motto – ‘Who are we? Pirates! Who are we? Pirates! What do we do? We win! What do we do? We WIN! WIN! WIN! WIN! [etc.]’ The second thing that I discover is that American Football, like Americans themselves, meets with scarce popularity outside of the United States. By this I am not referring to – or complaining about – the fact that every time the rugby team crosses us in a pub they start hooting and such a scene has to be raised that you’d think their beers had been served by William Wallace in person. Rather the predicament relates to the hours of training.

The more popular the sport, the more comfortable are the hours allocated to it by the administrators of the sport fields. Anything between noon and four p.m. goes to the local football team. Morning hours are for girls who do volleyball and from four to six you get the rugby players (those rabid hounds). Between six and eight there’s cricket or that ridiculous game with sticks where you pick up the ball with an instrument and run it into the opponents’ goal – something like an hybrid between football and hockey, played of course by hybrids between asses and impalas. From eight until the darkness becomes mythological, there’s a slew of cryptic sports, like frisbee or sack-racing on ice. Then there’s us.

On the first night of training, I am presented with a blizzard of epic proportions. On the second night the weather is more merciful, so I am allowed the privilege of seeing the stars, distant and frozen, like the eyes of Greek divinities looking down in pity at my adventure. I reach the changing room, where I meet a host of seals in the fog: my team-mates. Within five seconds they are already barking – who are we, pirates, who are we, pirates, and so on. Then they hand out the armour, and a couple of minor brawls break out when it turns out that some players get helmets which don’t fit them or nut-shields which work like nut-crackers. We undergo a warm-up phase: despite the sport not being very popular among the locals, every single American in the region has come to take part in the team, so there must be four-hundred of us loping around the field in our body armours. Running in that stuff feels a bit like carrying a bag of bricks, meant for a house which you have no interest in seeing built, to the top of a steep mountain inhabited by wolves. It loosely reminds me of the Great March of Mao Ze Dong.

Then comes something which has the semblance of a real session of training: ‘Get into positions!’ yells one of the coaches. Yes, but what the hell is my position? Not everyone has had the chance of studying the NFL tactical booklet since the age of four. I look lost, so they throw me among the receivers. It is probably not a good moment to mention that I am short-sighted.

The tactics for American Football have been devised by the most intricate underground society since the institution of freemasonry. I wouldn’t be surprised if they told me that it once involved sacrificing goats. The rules are assigned and put into practice by means of mysterious codes which one of the players tells to the others when they all gather together in a circle (the only moment in a footballer’s life when he whispers!). Normally the game gets going while I am still lost in lucubration as to where the fuck I’m expected to go and why. On the off-chance that I do reach a conclusion, I set off running into zones which are such a desertification, with all the play going on elsewhere, that one of two things has happened: either my conclusion was off the mark like a parachutist that falls into the storage blocks of a glass factory, or I’m being used as a decoy by some genius tactician.

As time progresses with the team, I discover that my incompetence is of no great consequence. My role in the squad consists in sitting on the bench and yelling ‘Offence’ or ‘Defence’ depending on what the team is doing and whether I can understand this correctly. I also scream the team slogan when the games are over. The scores are also completely beyond me, on occasions ending something close like sixteen to nineteen, on others something ludicrous like losing zero to seventy-five, occasions in which the team is usually said to have ‘played well.’

The parts after the match are, as a rule, much more interesting than the match itself. What happens is that everybody gets on the bus to go home from whichever small city had hosted us with whichever of its small community of immigrant Americans, stopping at some oil-plant on the way, buying wine or beer to scales which would be illegal in any civilised country other than ours, and then doing our best to vomit before the bus has finalised its run to take us home. The drivers are usually aware of the latter intent and for this reason they race like bastards on the highway. This doesn’t help with the stomach and a few of us let go almost immediately. These individuals are dumped at the back of the bus with the armours. Whoever else loses consciousness follows suit

I probably would have dropped out of this society much earlier than I eventually did if it weren’t for the fact that this was the only team in the entire university that placed us in contact with cheerleaders. Best of all, the cheerleaders partook in the bus and the drinking on the way home, even though they seldom gave their attention to people whose task was that of warming the bench (and shouting the slogans). The other thing that kept me there was the socials. As I was about to find out, there were few clubs in the university that organised socials more awkward and quixotic than the American Football society. This is another story, but it is a good enough story to have kept me with the screaming seals for almost the entirety of the academic year. I’ll recount it in one of the next blog-posts.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Remembering graduation

There is nothing as sentimental as anticipating your graduation day, and there is nothing more successful at spoiling that sentimentality than learning how to order your graduation suits. The process in and of itself is actually rather simple – you get e-mails from the university telling you exactly when and where to get hold of them. The issue is in the price. Judging by what they charge you to rent it for a day, you’d think it had been hand-made by Princess Aurora. It’s quite bewildering, given that they do nothing but sit in some mummified wardrobe for the rest of the year. There’s also the option to buy it in case you feel the need for it, but who on earth does that? There is not a single item of clothing on the planet that you’re likely to use less often than a graduation coat, and unlike a proper suit, you can’t even recycle it. I mean, it’s not like you can go to a funeral twenty years later dressed in your old graduation coat, not unless you mean to have everybody there laughing until they spill their fucking kidneys out and their grandmother awakens from the dead (also laughing).

Once you’ve ordered the suit, usually with several months of advance, it is time to invite your family over. In my case, the family decides to come over with the numbers of a national pilgrimage. I have them come down a couple of days early so they can visit my city and all the rest, including of course my house. For the first time since entering that wreck, I even clear up the bottles from the floor and the champagne patches from the walls (the only night in my life that we purchased champagne, I chose to open it above my laptop – and the resulting acrobatics to keep it from spilling on the keyboard meant that the room looked like as in the aftermath of a paintball battle). Then I teach all of my housemates that even though I myself usually swear like a Germanic warrior who just tried to take a shit over a geyser, there is not to be a single ill term spoken in the presence of my family.

The day spent taking my folks around proves to be the most pleasant of them all, spent in shops and tourism and lovely meals which feel like Christmas out of season. The day after that, being the actual day of the ceremony, starts off with a little less panache. In order to pick up your suit from that sprog of blood-sucking vultures who have rented it to you, you must present yourself at the university at some barbarous hour between the blackest pitch of night and the first tremulous rays of dawn. Apparently, if you don’t have five hours of advance on the procession then you’re bound to fuck it up. If we weren’t about to get diplomas, I’d think they were calling us stupid.

I go to campus under the eyes of astonished ducks, who can not believe that I am up at this hour. I reach the building where I’m supposed to pick up my robe. At the counter, the lady puts a green bed-sheet in front of me and I assume that she wants to play billiards. It takes me a few moments to awaken from my stupor and realise that this is, in fact, my robe. No matter that it looks like something my grandmother could have made to save on resources during the war, it still costs like armour commissioned by Bruce Wayne. It comes with a salmon-coloured scarf which might be gratifying if its object were that of keeping you from getting run over, and of course the hat. The hat is the only part of my robe which I really love. I don’t know who invented it, surely someone with a great deal of imagination (a black, square piece of cardboard with a string hanging from it would never have occurred to me as a symbol of the intellect), but it is wonderfully endearing nonetheless.

There are a number of things to be done before the ceremony, presumably waking up the tutors who must have been sleeping until now, so I have the time to go and have breakfast with my family. When the hour comes for the ceremony, I head over to the lecture hall.

I hear that in Oxford and Cambridge they have medieval castles just for these ceremonies, with horns being blown and archers roaming about just in case. Our hall is distinctly less glossy – it used to be a basketball pitch and it is now filled with chairs and used as a lecture hall whenever there are too many students attending. It goes without saying that the place is now packed up to the walls.

I walk my family to their places and let them have a taste of what it’s like to take one of our classes as the Dean starts reciting his sermon. The only difference with respects to a regular lecture is that every tutor is dressed up like they had all been getting smashed at the Carnival of Rio.

When I am done with that bit, I head off to the side-corridor which gives onto the stage, where I am supposed to wait for my turn to pick up the diploma. There, I am faced with a queue so long it could not be handled by three airports. Maybe I should have brought along a Monopoly board, I think to myself. Time passes. I hear the name of every student being called out as they walk on stage in turn, shake hands with the Dean and pick up the degree. Since the conversation isn’t really running rampant (it is hard to formulate statements when you’re snoozing on your feet like a mule), I let my mind wander into reflections of my own. I reason that if I don’t think of something really solemn, I’m going to regret it in the future. So I begin looking back over my time at university and I ask myself what it is that I’ve learned. But it seems like the only spiritual thing for which it’s worth being a student is learning that I’m not interested in being a student – not anymore, at least. At that stage someone trips on his robe a few feet in front of me and I decide to postpone the pondering to distil some laughter from the episode. I’ll think of something wise later on. After all, I reason, I can always tell people that I thought it on the spot.

It is time to walk up on stage. From what I hear, people in Cambridge and Oxford are supposed to do all sorts of stuff as part of the ceremony – kneel in front of the Dean, recite some oath and even execute some somersaults on stage for all I know. I am thankful for the most fleeting of moments that I didn’t get into the elite of education – all I am asked to do is shake some guy’s hands. The Dean looks down into his book and spots my name. As soon as he pronounces it, I am startled by a boom from a section of the audience as I hear my family roar ‘BRAVO’ in unison. I smile, and I remind myself, in the middle of all this pomp and circumstance, that it is them that I have come here to honour, not the university. Why disappoint them, then? As I walk on stage, I kiss my fist like a footballer, then raise my arm and point it to the sky. A gesture of victory. The act is unorthodox and the Dean looks at me a little haughtily, but the old sock doesn’t have to worry. I don’t really intend to be immature anymore.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Anthropology of the Epic Dickhead

This was originally written down as a quiz, unfortunately here it doesn't seem to work that way. Just call it a list of the greatest epic dickheads ever. It was meant for another source, so Scooby Doo picks up some material I've already used on this blog. Other than that, it's really great stuff. Enjoy! :)


Congratulations: you’re a dickhead. But not just an ordinary dickhead – you are distinct amongst all your peers for being the most egotistical, narcissistic, self-congratulatory, bombastic wanker ever to have walked upon the face of the earth (you remind me a lot of myself, actually). You are unique in this epic round-about because you specialise not in vanquishing dragons or braving seas but in throwing hissy fits. Your story begins when your king Agamemnon chooses to sequester one of your concubines and you throw hissy fit # 1 because you’ve lost the girl, something which is completely retarded because you’re as gay as a pink windmill in a field of Easter rabbits, and you conclude this in the most epic of fashions: you actually GO WEEPING TO YOUR MOM (hissy fit # 2). She gets all of your friends killed in the war (nice going, mate) so the king comes begging for forgiveness and you throw hissy fit # 3 because you don’t like his presents and would rather sit on your ass and ‘play your harp’ (Iliad XIV, a double entendre if I ever heard one). You fall asleep, and while you’re snoring like a cave full of motherfucking elks, the hairless seventeen-year-old pimp you normally bang during the intervals has the great idea of donning your armour and getting himself slaughtered in battle. Cue hissy fit # 4. This *could* just be followed by another hissy fit – and so it is, as you turn to Hephaestus and rant your head off because you can’t fight if your armour hasn’t been polished with camel’s spit and red lobster eyeballs or whatever the hell it is that gay war-lords or war gay-lords wanted on their armour in ancient Greece. Battle at last! Cue two-hundred hissy-fits as you tell each soldier in turn how stupid it was of them to kill Patroclus and how they’ll pay for it YADDA YADDA YADDA PLEASE SHUT YOUR EFFING MOUTH!!!! Your tale concludes with you bartering Hector’s body back in exchange for a blowjob from his father (Iliad XXIV states that Priam comes to his tent at night and ‘hugs his knees’ – make of that what you will).


I think this takes the palm as the most epic of all dickheads, and by quite a distance. Your oracle tells you that you’ll shag your momma and kill your daddy, so you leave the country. On the way, you find an old man who is mildly rude to you, so you kill him. Then you proceed to bang his wife, who is two decades older than you are. HELLO???? Do I need to draw a diagram?? I mean, even Roger Rabbit would have figured out that with a prophecy like that you should refrain from killing old men and buttering old women, something which in all fairness you should not be doing anyway, at least if you’re going to have constellations named after you – I’d rather go down in history with the reputation of Adolf Hitler than have a constellation after me named ‘The Motherfucker,’ not to mention having my name constantly vandalised on Wikipedia with lines like “LOLOLOLOL YOU SHAGGED YOUR MOM”. (I honestly was going to make that single line the entire profile for Oedipus). When you finally figure out what you’ve done (go you, Dick Tracy), you deploy all of the wisdom that made you King of Thebes and tamer of the Sphinx by finding the perfect solution: you rip your eyeballs out. (What?). You then go roaming aimlessly around the countryside like one of those end-of-level bosses in Super Nintendo videogames of a decade and a half ago, until eventually you die (I can’t honestly remember how, I think you ‘take a walk into the sea’ or something equally spectacular). A fitting end. You obviously never saw where your oracle was coming from, but it’s a good consolation to know that, before you died, at least your mother saw where you were coming from. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist that).


I’m not actually going to talk about the historical Leonidas here because I know more about how to fuck sheep than I do about the real battle of the Thermopylae. But we all know who the man is – the famed king from ‘300’ afflicted with that goofy pathology which makes you swear like an ostrogoth every three seconds inasmuch as whatever you say, you have to SHOUT it. Despite your tendency to walk around Sparta butt-naked save for a cape and for a rugby ball that’s tied around your nut-sack, you are in fact not nearly as gay as Achilles – you just enjoy male depilation for some reason. How do you spend your time? Mainly, you climb hills bare-chested, you ejaculate witty phrases, you fight wolves on mountains, you ejaculate inspiring speeches, you train your son in WF wrestling, you ejaculate into your wife, you ejaculate people into wells, you pick up blond little kids who have just been ravaged by a hoard of black people (that entire sentence sounds WRONG in more ways than I can even think of), you go trekking on snowy glaciers – a feat which, in Southern Greece, is nothing short of bewildering – and you trot out the word ‘FREEDUM’ every four or five sentences. You probably wouldn’t have made it onto this list if it weren’t for the act which made you famous – you waged war against the Persians because otherwise they would have killed all the men in Sparta, raped the women and taken the children into slavery. By the end of the film, however, you and all your men are dead, your wife has been raped and your son can look forward to being sent into a concentration camp where he’ll have to kill other kids or get killed himself – now that’s what I call a fantastic argument in favour of the practice of war! Congratulations. Dickhead.


Here’s the exception of our list. Not in the sense that you’re not a dickhead – you’re an aerial and flaming one at that. It’s just that you are not particularly epic. In fact, the only epic thing about you is that you’ve managed to go through 800 episodes of your canine series (a TV program which is centred on the only character in the show who doesn’t do a fucking thing), yet even though every single one of those 800 times your supernatural nemesis turned out to be a spoof, somehow you still manage to feel all sniffly and pusillanimous when the next ectoplasmic sardine or lycanthropic marshmallow-man’s-walking-dick comes about. Honestly, what the fuck is wrong with you? It’s like a grown man having watched two-hundred hours of porn and then being surprised when the prostitute he picks up from the M11 starts removing her clothes (we’ve just described the common farewell to celibacy of every single Firefly fan in the world). For the rest, your show is comprised of a trio of Trainspotting yuppies, a stubble-bearing heroin junkie who speaks to his own Alsatian and somehow earned himself the implausible name of ‘Shaggy’ (hahaha I’m already picturing that!) and, in the later series, your son Scraggy – the most insufferable dwarf. Not only does the son possess an elaborate faculty of speech (making you look even more retarded), he also makes himself detestable by being one of the most clever (read: sermonizing) characters in the series. The dynamics of the show then become something like having a man who is more stupid than his own dog, a dog who is more stupid than his own son and a screenwriter who is more of a dumb-fuck than all of them put together. While this still and fully qualifies you as a dickhead, there’s nothing inherently epic about it. I’m sorry, it looks like you’re not an epic dickhead after all.


Italians are famous for a number of things, predominantly pasta, pizza and a population that drives a car the way that a chimpanzee on vodka handles a malfunctioning space shuttle as it bombs into the ocean. Italians are NOT famous, to the best of my knowledge, for bouncing on the heads of phallic mushrooms and frog-leaping towards strange boxes with shiny question marks which yield coins when you brain yourself against them. Are you an epic figure? Definitely, not only because you’ve ventured on a quest to save the princess, but because you’ve undergone it about twenty million times and you still seem not to get it – even though there’s some things in your narrative which I don’t get myself. For one thing, King Koopa picks up Princess Peach with such an ease that you’d think she was a prostitute waving flags in the middle of a highway, which strikes me as nonsensical even in terms of the premise – if you’re a giant turtle, why the fuck don’t you want to fuck giant turtles? Even a human would be a pervert if he wanted to shag a girl who goes around wearing a pink bell from Westminster Chapel and has a face like a seven-year-old’s picture of an onion, let alone an animal. And this brings us to you, O Mario, and to what makes you an epic dickhead. For starters, your apparel. Last time I checked, if a princess is kidnapped, then she is rescued by a prince. You’re a fucking plumber! Worse yet, you’re dressed like one. Not to be anti-democratic here, but couldn’t you at least get changed before going on the quest? Did you really need to bring the red suspenders? Then there’s the people you hang out with – Toadstool (so fucking annoying!), Yoshi, the eternally useless Luigi, Donkey Kong, Wario – for Christ’s sake, WARIO, oh what a clever name to give to a baddy! What sparkling wit! The bottom of the pit is reached I think with his brother, Waluigi. Waluigi? What kind of a fucking name is ‘Waluigi’? What if they did that for other famous franchises – Lord of the Rings, with Wagandalf the Negro and Waragorn. Evil wabbit!! …and despite being able to save a princess, drive a kart, excel at every single sport in the Olympics, employ a hydro-pack, program your VCR and even BLOODY FLY, you still have no more eloquence than to say ‘Mamma mia!’ What the hell.