Half-Blood Prince: when the film outperforms the novel

Well, for me, at least. Spoilers alert, obviously.

I doubt Half-Blood Prince (HBP) is the first of such case. But, the notion that ‘film adaptations will always suck’ has been deeply ingrained among different fandoms. Understandable considering film studios constantly betray our trust. Unfortunate because it drives us to close-mindedness.

Traumatised by Goblet of Fire and Order of Phoenix, I had a very low expectation of HBP the film. In fact, it is the only Harry Potter film that I watched years after its release, as in years after part one of The Deathly Hallows was released. I first watched it on DVD; obviously, I was blown away. I should have watched it in the theatre.

I will go into details of why I love the adaptation more than the source material. But, first, I am going to briefly explain why I love the film as an entity in its own right.

Unusual for today’s for-profit cinema, HBP embraces a calm-paced and dialogue-driven manifestation of storytelling; it shows how fast-pacing, exuberance and physicality are unessential for engaging the audience. The tinted cinematography perfectly evokes a combined ambience of mystery and serenity, darkness and lightness. The abundant special effects look wonderfully seamless and visually enhance the narrative instead of distracting us from it. Despite the long duration, I don’t feel exhausted watching it. The acting has greatly improved. I think it is the most artistic film in the entire franchise.

And the novel does not have the film’s level of thoughtfulness.

Yes, it also wholeheartedly embraces calmness and dialogue-driven storytelling. But, the blandness is just overwhelming. The mystery does not arouse the curiosity in me. The depiction of the dark side of humanity fails to unsettle me. It does not share the enthrallment of Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix. It feels like I am just reading meaningless stacks of letters.

Let me first go into details with the Pensieve scenes. If I remember correctly, the film Dumbledore only retrieved two memories; one shows Tom Riddle’s first meeting with Dumbledore in the orphanage and another shows teenaged Riddle asking Slughorn about Horcruxes. The novel Dumbledore retrieved a lot more, including ones that occurred after Riddle’s Hogwarts years and even one that occurred before his birth!

And yet, film Tom Riddle has been way more compelling to me! We all know that adaptations have been plagued with a disease called ‘shallowness’ because they cut out too many crucial elements! But, for some reasons, HBP is immune to it despite doing the same thing and that has been baffling me for years! Right now, I have one hypothesis for why this counter-intuitiveness came into being.

Maybe the cut is the secret. The film successfully insinuates Riddle’s true sociopathic nature through those two memories alone; with a combination of good acting, good dialogues and greenish colour tones (which may symbolises grotesque non-human quality), they are able to capture one of humanity’s darkest manifestations in which immortality is worth the immorality.

The book, on the other hand, fails to evoke the same sinister air. In those two particular memories, young Riddle is also strongly insinuated as a sociopath. But, the other memories overload us with ‘unnecessary’ information to the point of diluting the omniousness. Oh, and mind the air quote on the word ‘unnecessary’.

Judging from some comments I read online, other potheads take issue with how the film omits other memories which not only contain more information about Riddle’s life when he still had a nose, they also contain information regarding the origins of his Horcruxes. They want more exposition from the memories.

Obviously, this is a matter of preferences. As much as data are important for better understanding of the fictional universe, subtlety is the winner for me. I prefer to gain my knowledge of the worldbuilding through subtexts and ambience. The less tangible it is, the better. I love the challenge of exploring what is beneath the frequently void and deceptive surface.

I know this is subject to diverging interpretations. In fact, this makes a work of art and entertainment more captivating for me to study. Besides, it is not like hard data are convincing anyway. For example: many potheads still refuse to call the entire Marauders bullies despite the incriminating evidence in Order of Phoenix. Why? Because they cherry pick the data and refuse to accept that heroes like James Potter, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin are flawed human beings. They cannot accept that you can hate both Snape and the entire Marauders, that you can hate both the greater evil and the lesser evil! For fuck’s sake! Why can’t fans be more reasonable for once?

Now, back to the topic…

Feeling things

Not everyone will agree with the omission of memories. But, I am sure a large portion of the HP fandom would agree with this statement: the film adaptation has more emotional weight than the original source material, especially on two particular scenes. I think you can guess which ones.

One is where Harry encouraged Slughorn to relinquish his Tom Riddle memory. Just in case not everyone can guess.

In the original book version, Slughorn was being his usual selfish self and the only emotion he felt was fear, the fear of being judged. And Harry was extremely odd here; he had a sinister, somewhat threatening vibe. He was not his usual self, acting like a predator drooling over the sight of a vulnerable prey. Maybe it was the liquid luck talking, acting like a mind-controlling parasite. Overall, it is a bizarre and displeasing scene.

Compared that to film version. Besides evoking the same fear, the potion master also felt guilt; he believed he contributed to the death of his beloved student, Harry’s own mother, by unintentionally feeding Riddle’s sociopathy. Beneath the self-serving mask, film Slughorn has a great sense of humanity, so great to the point of claiming responsibility for the murder he didn’t commit! And he was not the only sensitive soul in that scene.

Film Harry was also kinder. Instead of being a psychological predator, he encouraged the potion master to confront and overcome his own demons. It felt like he genuinely cared about Slughorn’s emotional well-being; every single one of his word is laced with heartfelt sincerity. In fact, at this point, it feels like the liquid luck has worn off completely; no longer Harry has his brain contaminated by the potion. Oh, and don’t forget about the emotionally-enhancing symbolism.

Slughorn recalled when Lily gifted him a lily petal that turned into a fish when it sank to the bottom of the fish bowl. On the day of her death, the fish disappeared without a trace. For me, it is a hurtful reminder of how death is the end of our earthly existence; no longer we sustain any forms of physical presence in this world. Eventually, we will exist entirely in fond yet painful memories. Without this symbolism, the expression of Slughorn’s personal pain would be stale in comparison.

Another heart-rendering scene I have in my head is, of course, Dumbledore’s death. Again, I don’t have the precise reason why the film version has the stronger emotional punch for me. But, again, I also have a hypothesis.

In the book, there is no doubt that the characters are struck with grief. But, the story seems to focus less on the emotion itself and more on the matter-of-fact consequences which, in this case, is the decreasing sense of stability and security. Less like the death of a loved one and more like the assassination of a public figure whose presence brings hope among socially-conscious individuals. It is almost like the readers are encouraged to sentimentally detached themselves from the scene.

The film version, on the other hand, does not care much about the event’s social and political impacts on the wizarding world. It believes grief is a very human reaction and it just appropriate to give it most of the spotlight after the earthly departure of a major and beloved character. And yes, the film version of this scene also contains powerful symbolism.

After seeing the sight of the headmaster’s lifeless body, almost every Hogwarts resident in the vicinity was unable to hold back their tears. McGonagall held her wand upward to the sky in respect and others follow suit, each tip of their wands illuminates mournfully. Then, those lights dispersed the menacingly-hovering dark mark. Slowly but surely, it disintegrated entirely, swallowed by the dark night sky. Even in our most harrowing moments in life, love and unity can still outshine hatred and evil. It does sound naive. But, the film makes it sound hopeful.

Unlike the Slughorn scene, I actually love Dumbledore’s farewell in both versions. I love the more emotional approach of the film and the more sociopolitical one of the novel. Ideally, it would be delightful to combine both (even though it is easier said than done). But, if I have to take a pick, it would be the emotional approach.

I am delighted every time a work of entertainment touches on real life social issues; if done right, it can be intellectually intriguing and won’t come off as pretentious. But, I crave the ‘human connection’ even more. I find the completely unemotional approaches to storytelling exceptionally cold and as a reader/an audience member, I feel detached from the characters. I want intimate immersion, I don’t want to be a mere observer.

No more glory

At first, I wanted to group the scene where Harry lets go the potion textbook along with Slughorn’s memory relinquishment and Dumbledore’s farewell. But, I realise that, unlike those two, this scene is more psychological than emotional*. Well, in the film version, at least.

After casting Sectumsempra, novel Harry scrambled to save his ass by hiding the textbook in the room of requirement; he was trying to avoid backlashes from the teachers (and he failed, of course. Seriously, he cast a potentially-fatal spell! What did he expect?). Just like Dumbledore’s farewell, it seems to be mostly motivated by pragmatism. The guilt is faintly present as we mostly see Harry’s frustration with his punishment.

The film does not imply any forms of penalties at all. In this scene, we only focus on Harry’s own psyche. Realising what he had done, he felt tremendous guilt for letting his lust of glory made him harm another human being. Ginny offered a hand by taking him to the room of requirement where they could hide the blasted book. He closed his eyes as told while she was searching for the hiding spot. Then, after storing it away forever, she calmly kissed him on the lips. He opened his eyes to find him alone. He smiled.

Besides guilt, romantic love seems to be one of the main subject matters here. But, from my point-of-view, contentment is the culmination. Contentment of how his loved ones will always help him in his lowest points in life, how they will always be on his side when others will eventually abandon him among the filth. The quietness of the room does not represent loneliness or solitude, it represents serenity that accentuates Harry’s personal contentment.

Once again, I prefer the film version over the novel one. I love the former for revealing how self-aware our hero is of his own vice. The latter’s mostly focus on him getting frustrated for being deservedly punished (and getting constantly pestered by Hermione). It is obvious which version displays maturity.

Oh, I almost forgot about the humour… which I have no problem with. In both versions, it is subtle in nature and modest in quantity. No stupid and forced jokes in sight.

‘It is not canon!’

(A disclaimer: the words below are based on the arguments that happened inside my head. I love having imaginary arguments with imaginary people)

One may argue that the adaptation is not a part of the canon. It does not matter if Rowling approved it herself; she did not write the script and therefore not representative of the official Harry Potter universe. I accept such statement because it is still within reason. But, in this particular discussion (as if this is a direct two-way communication), it is completely irrelevant.

Yes, Rowling established the story idea. But, that does not mean she will always act out the storytelling impeccably. Like it or not, the one who came up with it may make use of ill-suited approaches and may not realise of its full potential. Like it or not, being a part of the canon is not a benchmark of excellence, having a delightful presentation is.

We are dealing with fiction here. If artistic merit is your main concern, don’t focus on the storytellers and idea conceivers. Focus on the storytelling itself!

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*’Psychological’ is something related to human psyche in general and ’emotional’ is related to emotion, which is a part of the human psyche. In the context of my essay, ‘psychological’ means it strongly asserts itself through the writings and screen. ‘Emotional’ is similar to that, but you take it to the heart. I know it is confusing. But, that’s the best way I distinguish both from each other.

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The missed opportunities of Harry Potter films

Obviously, spoiler alert. Also, I have to make this disclaimer: I have not read the first three books. So, the only thing I can criticise about the first three films is their cinematic quality, not their faithfulness (or the lack thereof) to the source materials. But, I am more confident regarding the other adaptations.

Here, I will solely talk about Goblet of Fire (GoF) and Order of the Phoenix (OP). So far, they are my favourite books in the series and I love them for distinct reasons.

In spite of dark and intense moments here and there (especially during the climax, falling action and resolution), GoF is still a generally cheerful book. To this day, I am still gravely excited about the Quidditch World Cup, the Triwizard Tournament and the Yule Ball, even though the real me is far from a sports spectator and a party animal. I also adore the expansion of the magical universe where it is portrayed as a global community in which our hero’s home country is a tiny part of it, not its entirety; I am a sucker for such theme. It is mostly a festive of jolliness that makes the child in me rejoice… unlike its direct successor.

OP is gritty AF. In contrast to its more colourful predecessor, the fifth book is nothing but a barrage of grey and ferocious socio-political disheartenment. Dangerous misinformation. Political restrictions of the academia. Institutionally-sanctioned prejudice. The establishment embracing unsavoury individuals, opting to make enemies with ones who are innocent and/or more tolerant. Those are real life issues. To top it all, our hero has to deal with them while suffering from PTSD, adding the emotional severity. For the standard of escapist literature, this novel is a tough read; a reflection of the reality is inescapable.

I have high praises for both and I also had HIGH expectations of their screen adaptations. GoF was literally the first film I watched whose original source material I read beforehand. I was deeply disappointed because, back then, I expected any good adaptations to be literally exact copies of the source materials, albeit in different formats. Took me some time to recognise my own stupidity.

But, even after the slap on the face, I am still disappointed. The feeling of excitement is the only thing it got right. Well, not entirely. It explicitly depicts the Triwizard Tournament and the Yule Ball, two of the three main sources. But, it does not show a single second of the Quidditch World Cup match!

Like, why? No, time constraint is not an excuse! Even when shown in snippets, it still could exude the feeling! Exclusion of the entire match means the audience members who have not read the book cannot experience the excitement in its totality. Therefore, they don’t know the whole story and I am still scratching on the surface here.

I mentioned that GoF is a cheerful book with dark moments. Well, those moments give the story more layers of depth. Ludo Bagman, Bertha Jorkins, Dobby and Winky! They are characters with secrets and their erasure from the film is regrettable, considering they have the potentials to expose the tangling webs of secrets and deceit that grip the novel. I find it intriguing when lightness and darkness balance each other out in a work of fiction. As a result, the film’s darkness is still very lightweight in comparison. But, at least, it is still partially faithful to its source material, unlike its successor.

The novel’s embodiment of desolation mostly did not make it to the screen. Instead, the film is more of an adventure-comedy. Yes, I said comedy. Admittedly, I love its youthful sense of humour and I believe, when done correctly, it would blend well with the bleak storyline. But, the filmmakers preferred to drench the story in sickly sweet syrup, removing the acquired tastes for the sake of palatability.

Where’s the socio-political grittiness? Where’s the mental anguish? Never mind that they are the driving forces. They are the reasons why Order of Phoenix possesses such outstanding profundity! They are the reasons why the novel stands out! They are the soul of the story! The film may call itself Order of Phoenix and some moviegoers believe that. But, deep down, it has an entirely unrecognisable heart. It is a fraud who is beloved by the ignorant and most gullible among us.

Also, the climax of OP the novel is not the fight at the Ministry building; it is, in fact, Harry’s outburst at Dumbledore’s office. It is an accumulation of the suffering he has been experiencing for the past twelve months (and possibly his entire life) and Sirius’ death triggers the cascade of negative emotions. Its climax centres on raw emotions rather than superficial physicality. It can only be achieved by the embrace of emotional depth. You know, something that the adaptation refuses to do.

God, I sound like a total fanboy. I even haven’t reached to another problem present in both adaptations: how they conclude the plot lines.

The novels’ endings are rather bleak. GoF’s marks the beginning of the sufferings our protagonist will endure in the next volume. OP’s shows that, even after everyone believes and starts revering him, he still cannot feel joy because of his godfather’s death. Oh, and I said rather bleak, not completely so. For me, there are still shreds of warm yet unsentimental hope in them. How about the films’ endings? Horrible, of course.

GoF the film ends with a cheerful farewell for the foreign students and Cedric’s death as the only moment of sorrow; there is no foreshadowing of Harry’s own incoming misery. OP the film ends with a sentimental monologue by Harry; his own grief is given a half-hearted presentation. They are all about cloying sweetness. Again, no depth.

Okay, this is the part where I pretend to know what my readers are thinking (LOL! Who reads my blogs, anyway?).

You may argue I am being too harsh against OP and I sincerely acknowledge the possibility. You may also argue that not everything has to be profound which I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, I feel sorry for those proudly flatulent dweebs who think having fun is beneath them. But, after much contemplation, I can say I am fair with my judgement.

People will hate me for saying this: I believe that an adaptation can still be faithful even with significant alteration to the characters and the storyline, as long it cherishes the source material’s deep-rooted spirit. In spite of being a fantasy novel, OP’s spirit is neither escapist nor fun; the narrative commands us to acknowledge our own wretched earthbound existence. Based on what I illustrated before, it is clear how the film refuses to share such burden.

Also, it feels like its script was written by an elitist Pothead with no experience in filmmaking who thinks Harry Potter films must be exclusively made for anyone who have read the books and inclusivity besmirches the prestige of his/her beloved series. To simplify my words: the film’s confusing AF.

Yes, exposition makes a horrible storytelling. But, the audience deserves any implicit hints about why and how the story came into being! Also, Tonks is not properly introduced, Lupin is not properly re-introduced and Percy suddenly appears out of nowhere, inexplicably working for the corrupt ministry! If an adaptation cannot stand on its own and still needs the source material for intelligibility, why bother making one in the first place? Oh, wait. Never mind! Of course, it is all about money…

Now, I am going to be slightly SJW-ish here.

In GoF the film, the Beauxbaton and Durmstrang students make a hell of an entrance. Of course, I am referring to the gender stereotypes-affirming scene that portrays women as unnaturally tender and men as laughably brute. Disappointing, but expected from a Hollywood film. But, in this case, I am infuriated because the original scene is actually very gender-less (I made up that word).

When the visitors enter the school ground, they just walk straight in! No spectacles whatsoever! There is nothing about it that makes us think about genders! If I have to make an assumption, it feels like someone involved in the filmmaking read the books, became infuriated with their debatably feminist nature, decided to transform the co-ed schools into single-sex ones and shoved outdated gender stereotypes to one gender-less scene. It is too PC! Too liberal! We must protect our traditions of lumping complex human beings to superficial and repressive boxes!

See? I told you I would sound SJW-ish.

Now, to finish up my winding rant:

If only GoF the film also has the same complimenting and intricate subplots as the novel does and refrains itself from unabashedly committing gender pigeonholing…

If only OP the film opens itself to non-HP fans and embraces the novel’s dark and fierce spirit that makes it great in the first place…

If only both films do not conclude on such unrealistically positive notes…

I can confidently say that not only they would be of outstanding quality, they surely would elevate the merit of Harry Potter films or even the entire franchise! Even if they fail to elevate the artistic prestige of fantastical and commercial cinema, they surely would have special places in it.

GoF the film would probably not be hailed as groundbreaking regarding this. But, surely, it would not elongate the already-long list of motion pictures that unintelligently depict genders!

If the existing OP film balances its childlike humour with the novel’s sense of desolation, it could result in a high-quality drama-comedy. Who knows? Maybe the film’s merit could surpass the novel’s! Such a rare phenomenon would historical, convincing fans of certain works of fiction that film adaptations have the potential of reaching excellence!

After watching those wonderful adaptations, some Potheads would probably end up being blessed with higher sense of cultural sophistication, enriching their lives through inquisitive musing and love of cinematic beauty.

But, none of those matters, of course! The only noble goal in life to earn profit! Who cares if you have to exploit the feelings of devoted fans?

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I love dark and crude humour

I initially wanted to say something like ‘it is the best tool to deal with the horrendousness that is humans’. But, I withdraw the decision. Not only I would repeat my ‘I love sarcasm and/or satire’ article, it would also not be entirely accurate.

The statement is true in some situations. But, in others, it is simply about being humorously dark. There are times when, with the ‘right’ slants, I can see the jokes in dark matters. No, I don’t believe that instantly makes me immoral. There is a difference between possessing morbid comedic aesthetics and celebrating the morbidity itself. I don’t mind if people cannot enjoy black comedy. But, I do mind when people make this about morality.

Why? Because they love to scream about one thing that they never care about. They constantly screech about their professedly higher yet actually non-existing moral standing. Public image is a number one priority. That’s one big accusation, I know. But, by observing people for years (I love pretending to be an accomplished researcher), this accusation seems on point.

Those pretend saints love to rail against entertainment entities for poisoning the masses on purpose. They believe the entertainment industry forces offhandedness down on everyone’s throat, deceiving us by promoting crude comedies as ‘wholesome’ and ‘family-friendly’. Yeah, no.

No one forces anyone to enjoy certain forms of entertainment. We are talking about risque comedies, not religious and political propaganda which we coerce on children both at homes and schools! In fact, those holy men wannabes want to stop others from enjoying off-colour fun, they want others to have the same taste as theirs. Typical freedom fighters.

Also, I have never encountered any risque comedies marketed as ‘family-friendly’. None! The film adaptation of Deadpool, which outraged helicopter parents, was crystal clear about its R rating! Cards Against Humanity’s official slogan is ‘a party game for horrible people’; even the name alone clearly signals its ‘horrid’ nature! They are always truthfully advertised. Once again, we are not talking about religious and political propaganda we love to coerce on children. Love it when people are being truthful.

Oh, I forgot to flesh out more juicy details about their ‘morals’.

One of my favourite Youtube videos is Jon Cozart’s After Ever After 2. A parody of Disney’s love of happy endings, it contains jokes about transsexuality, mental illness, hurricane Katrina and the brutality of authoritarian regimes. Very taboo stuffs. Unsurprisingly, it caused outrage. But, surprisingly, the outrage was selective.

Laughing at one crude joke, offended by another. At one point, the video was bombarded with such comments. Yes, we are always dainty about choosing our objects of laughter; even the biggest fans of obscenity still draw the lines somewhere. Hell, even jokes that make us laugh can still pain us to some extend. Some of us excuse this selectiveness by citing personal reasons (e.g. horrible past experiences or personal grievances). Inconsistent, but justifiable. Others excuse their selectiveness by citing morality. Not justifiable.

You cannot laugh at one obscene joke and proceed to declare another one as immoral. If morality is indeed your rationale, you would not be picky about it. You would be offended by every single obscene joke, be inclusive with your so-called love of human dignity and acknowledge that every single adversity deserves our sympathy!

Let me ask you some questions: do you think female rape is more noteworthy than the male one? Violent western interventionism more noteworthy than jihadism? Gang violence more noteworthy than police brutality? If you answer ‘yes’ at least once, congratulations! You may look like a fresh apple. But, you are already rotten to the core.

No, I am not talking about all activists. Some do think their causes are the only ones worthy of sympathy. But, others focus on certain causes for personal reasons (I think I have said this before) and they never condemn others to hell for simply having ‘incompatible’ grievances. Mind the air quote.

Now, back to humour….

Arts and entertainment, especially comedy, are constantly sneered at for seemingly not having any purposes whatsoever. Well, purposeful only when profitable. Fortune is and will always be the only merit. Yeah, no.

Beauty and amusement, unquestionably two things we can benefit from both; seriously, not everything valuable in life is material! But, I am also aware that many individuals, the ones I have interacted at least (and there aren’t many of them), seem oblivious to this one benefit: unfolding human nature.

Our reactions to arts and entertainment works expose our stances on social issues, cultures, politics and, as I have been typing about for weeks (I am slow), morality. They greatly reveal the sincerity and deceitfulness of our declaration of righteousness. They can do so through an individual’s psychological state (ethical consideration needed, something that I often ignore) or a society’s sociological circumstances. No need to elaborate on this again.

Oh, another thing I forgot to mention earlier. This may make me look hypocritical. Well, my writing is preachy anyway. Me being a hypocrite is always a strong possibility. So, here I go…

The jokers’ attentions matter. If their dark and crude humour is a literal reflection of their true selves, they are undoubtedly problematic individuals. But, how do you determine if that is the case with certain people?

Well, don’t pay attention to their jokes; do so to their matter-of-fact remarks. Do their sincere opinions share ideological resemblances with their tasteless jokes? If the answer is yes, then they are problematic. You cannot make a racial joke, make a sincere racist statement afterwards and proceed to defend your joke as ‘just a joke’. You have outed yourself as a racist. You have proven yourself to be deserving of hate. Of course, this method’s flaw surfaces straight away.

It only works when the jokers doctrinally complemented their humour with their own straightforwardness. If their indecency is only expressed through comical manners, then tastelessness is the only thing to be worthy of criticism. The existence of ignorance and immorality is not attested by any solid evidences. I’ll get back to it in a moment.

Then, there is another problem: what does ‘funny’ mean? Of course, every knows what it means: a quality that brings out laughter. But, even the most wholesome jokes are not universally loved. There are different factors to consider: unheard of cultural references, alien styles of humour or, as I have discussed before, audience’s sensitivity.

We have talked about offense caused by taboo humour; again, no repetition is needed. But, what if the humour itself is docile and child-friendly? We should remember that they still can be controversial because either the audience is sensitive to the jokes’ subtextual nature or they take things too personally.

The former may or may not be justified. The thing is subtexts can look very vague and heavily reliant on seemingly conjectural reading. Unless we have tangible evidences, good luck convincing people about the ‘harmless’ jokes’ harmfulness. Besides, how do we know that we are not the problematic ones? How do we know that we are not thin-skinned creatures who see non-existent patterns?

Well, if that’s the case, I even cannot propose a single unproven method to deal with such nuisance. Why? Because I am also guilty of it. As much as I have enjoyed many offhanded jokes, I am still catching myself getting offended by the milder ones. Sometimes, I am 100% convinced that the subtexts I see are real as I am terribly familiar with the jokers involved. But, other times, I am just being emotionally delicate, unable to acknowledge my own irrationality.

I have yet to escape self-contradiction.

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I love sarcasm and/or satire

Arts

It is a great tool to deal with human beings, God’s most regrettable creations.

Obviously, sarcasm is an asset for comedy. Without it, there would be no satires that call out the ignorance and prejudice possessed by humans, especially the powerful ones. Without it, comedy would just be a completely escapist form of entertainment. But, I also love for it another reason.

For me, it is a great outlet to vent my anger. It is healthier than vandalising properties, angry-eating and mean-spiritedly insulting my fellow human beings. Besides having a more appropriate venting outlet called satire, my sarcasm also successfully calls out the people I am angry at.

Well, because my satire can be very mean-spirited, I still sound malicious. But, at the same time, I have also compellingly (I hope) illustrated how empty-headed and jingoistic some opinions can be. Took me over 365 days and many satirical blogs to get the picture. At the beginning, I only cared about emotional satisfaction.

I am not surprised that I end up writing satires. Satirist Stephen Colbert is one of my favourite comedians; I can relate to his takes on politics, religions and anti-intellectualism. A few of my favourite Youtubers are also known for their sarcastic comments. Either they affirm my love of sarcasm or they are the reason why I love it, I am still not sure. But, I am sure about something: not everyone gets them.

They are accused of possessing undesirable traits when, in reality, they possess ones that are the complete opposite. I have been trying to comprehend why people misconstrue them when I, far from being the most intelligent organism in the neighbourhood, can easily spot sarcasm.

My methods to detect sarcasm is not ‘peer-reviewed’ and their validity is purely anecdotal. But then, almost every single one of my blog posts is anecdotal. So, adding another anecdote should not matter. Anyway, here we go:

Maybe, just maybe, people misconstrue sarcasm because it is not always detectable. In the case of internet comments, some users are skilled at masking sarcasm as sincerity, fooling even the most intelligent among us. But, there are times when the satire is blatant.

The ridiculing comments usually start with deceptive sincerity. Then, either midway or at the end, they ‘punch’ themselves by pointing out their own glaringly shiny irony; by this point, anyone would chuckle (assuming you agree with the comments’ messages). But, strangely, there are also sincere comments unintentionally disguising themselves as satires.

Even though they seem indistinguishable to satirical ones, they are actually easy to detect. Instead of starting with a tone of sincerity, they immediately start with an ironic one. In fact, the entire comments are 100% irony. No punchlines and self-mockery whatsoever. By the time you finish reading them, you are not sure if they are being serious or not.

You probably reply, expecting the commenters to confirm their sarcasm. But, their replies seem to be mere extensions of their original comments. By this point, you are great in disbelief. Surely, it is impossible for anyone to be that ignorant, it is impossible for anyone to be that prejudiced….

And yet, it is possible. Soon, you realise that you just encountered humanity at its lowest moment. You realise that satires don’t always exaggerate their portrayal of mankind. You are terrified that humans can be their own caricatures. When life imitates art…

(Side note: I am pretty sure this so-called method can also be used to detect sarcasm in videos. But, personally, I have only used it on internet comments.)

Even when the sarcasm seems blatant for some, it is still not obvious to others. It is all about subtlety. We must not read and hear words as they are. We must dig deeper to determine whether there is an underlying merit. Took me years to recognise (and appreciate) understatedness. But, such skill is not always needed when watching Youtubers.

Many Youtubers are entertainers and entertainers in general are known for establishing public personas who may be an exaggeration or the antitheses of their true selves. Correct me if I am wrong. But, I notice that ‘traditional’ entertainers often don’t show their true selves when performing. With Youtubers, it is a bit different.

Many Youtube videos are indeed scripted. But, scriptless ones are also bountiful because either some formats should never be scripted (e.g. gaming videos) or the content creators prefer to ad-lib everything. That situation makes it easier for Youtubers’ true selves to surface from time to time.

The shifts between personalities are very noticeable. Just pay attention to their body languages, facial expressions, speaking intonation and choice of words. They often drastically change from time to time. How does one identify which persona is the real one?

It probably does not apply to all Youtubers. But, in many cases, their true selves are more introverted, more thoughtful, more inhibited and kinder than their obnoxious, loud and mean-spirited personas. Even without sarcasm, the contrast is too glaring for one to ignore. The art of subtlety spotting should be futile here. Well, ideally.

In reality, those characters are still seen as the actual personalities, despite mounting evidences to the contrary! More sarcastic Youtubers have it worse because they are accused of non-existing sins! I still don’t know why this shit happens. But, I have a hypothesis.

Maybe some people do not see the transformation intentionally. Maybe they know about the Youtubers’ real personalities. But, they love to hate. Being haters is the only thing that gives their sad, worthless lives meanings. Hate is beautiful, they believe.

Either that or they are just a bunch of dumbfucks who cannot separate facts from fiction, whose intelligence is comparable to one of flies-covered faeces, who ideally should not be allowed to breed even though, despite my obvious hatred of idiocy, my personal ethics still prevent me from embracing eugenics with fucking wide open arms!

But, anyway…

Earlier, I talked about genuinely ignorant and prejudiced people who unintentionally make their statements look borderline satirical. Well, there is another breed of humans who do the exact opposite: self-proclaimed satirists who don’t know what a satire is!

Instead of displaying idiocy and bigotry lampooningly, they do so in a very matter-of-fact manner. There is no embellishment that indicates any traces of ridicule whatsoever. Their statements sound sincere. Maybe, just maybe, they are skilled in making their satires look real. Yeah, no.

Upon meticulous appraisal, those earnest-looking satires disclose their veritable quintessence. That’s not how things stand with those unadulterated utterances which, even after a profusion of enquiries, still look unfeigned with their indiscretion and dogmatism.

Sorry, I am being unclear here. Let me show you some examples.

Example one: Let’s just say I want to mock anti-Semitism. Ideally, I would say something like, ‘All Jews are evil! If they are not, then how come these cherry-picked articles and videos say they are?’. Not the best satirical statement. But, it is still satirical. Clearly, I was badmouthing anti-Semites and their lack of cognitive soundness. Only imbeciles declare otherwise.

Example two: What if I go to the streets and opted to suddenly blurt out ‘All Jews are evil!’? What if I opted to suddenly dress myself as a Jewish caricature, complete with a yarmulke, a prosthetic crooked nose and speak with a stereotypical Yiddish accent while holding the Israeli flag in one hand and a bag of money in the other? You would call me an anti-Semite straight up. No hesitation. In the latter, alternately, some of you would accuse me of being offensive for the sake of it. You would noall me a satirist, not even after a close scrutiny. Why? Because context.

Mind the word ‘suddenly’. The people on the streets were strangers. Nobody knew who I was, let alone being familiar about my social stances. Nobody expected my supposedly satirical anti-Jewish statements. My audience should know about them being my audience. Never ever catch them off guard! They ought to be respected… and even that it’s not enough.

Instead of berating anti-Jewish outlooks, my statements merely exhibited them. Straightforwardly. No ornaments to materialise any lampooning quality whatsoever. In truth, purposefully or not, I endorsed anti-Semitism. I would emotionally torment Jewish people and empower anyone who yearn for their extermination.

I am actually one of the few people who believe motives matter. They are the reasons why we do anything in the first place. Dismissing them is being untruthful. One must always thrive to grasp the whole stories or risk ignorance.

But, one must also thrive to take the outcomes seriously. They should correspond to the intentions. If the dissonance is caused by people’s idiocy and saviour complex, which may happen with example 1, then the problem’s on them; nothing I can do to fix their sorry-ass brains. But, if it is caused by my own tactlessness, which may happen with example 2, then it’s on me.

No matter what my intentions are, nothing can defend me from the explosive wrath of my fellow human beings. Even saying, ‘it’s just a satire!’ won’t cut it. Actually, that would aggravate the situation. I would look like I am putting the blame on my ‘stupid and fragile’ audience. Worse, I would look like an anti-Semite who exploits satire for the sake of indulging his prejudice. The only way for me to fix everything is to repent.

Sincerely. Gullible creatures may be fooled by my fake apology. But, observant beings can smell lies from miles away. If I am not sorry, don’t bother to apologise at all! At least, I am honest about my inconsiderate nature… and more considerate people will understand that I am to be avoided.

Anyway, my point is this: think before you act! If you are going to do a satire, make sure you understand it first! If you do things like shown in example 2, then you don’t know the proper techniques and therefore, you don’t know what a satire really is! Antagonistic reactions to your brainlessness are still within reason and decency. A victim, you are fucking not!

Oh, and speaking about that…

Since the start of the article, I have been making one mistake: using the words ‘sarcasm’ and ‘satire’ interchangeably. They are not.

Satire is a genre of the arts and entertainment that mock certain people for their apparent flaws which the targets seem to be insensibly unaware or even proud of. Sarcasm is a confrontational method of communication in which our words may convey the complete opposite of their literal meanings and it is also one of the many techniques used in satire-making. So, how did I end up with this factual inaccuracy?

Well, regardless of the fact, my mind still cannot set the two apart. Sarcasm is the reason why I was attracted to satire in the first place. Heck, because of the sarcasm, some of my favourite Youtubers’ videos have strong satirical touch to them. Their lampoons are unquestionably rooted from their sarcastic inclination. But, I also have another reason to possess such mindset: because I love being mean.

For me, sarcasm is the reason why some works of satire are laced with raw meanness. It is the reason why satire has that strong and blunt punches to their targets’ faces. Obviously, some people find this objectionable, thinking that even mockery must always be polite, respectful and civil. Yeah, no.

Unlike journalism and the academia, arts and entertainment do not have codes of ethics. There is no inherent obligation for artists and entertainers to embrace those “positive” adjectives, like “neutral” or, which is relevant in this case, “nice”.

Okay, I admit that niceness should be compulsory in some cases. If our targets are ones we truly care about and have no ill feeling for, we should express genuine playfulness instead of pure malice. Well, duh. This is what we call Horation satire.

But, if our targets are ones we not only resent but are also corrupt and powerful (in a general sense), niceness is unessential. In fact, if we are being too nice, we would not be distinguishable from toothless tigers, embarrassingly impotent in exposing the sinfulness of our targets. Call me self-righteous. But, being too nice means we are mere usable bitches of the establishment. Ferocity is a must in Juvenalian satire.

And the article ends here. Seriously, I still don’t know how to make conclusions properly. Besides, as a computer document, the article is four pages long. Quite lengthy for my blogs.

 

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Two reasons to hate Stephen Colbert

 

*puts on a mask*

Wait, why only Colbert? Why don’t we include the others? Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Jon Stewart, Sam Bee, Jordan Klepper, Seth Meyers, Hasan Minhaj. You know, those subhumans.

Reason 1:

Because they are libtard fascist commie cucks! They are ideologically different from me! How dare they? Don’t they know my belief is the only correct one? How can my belief is false when I am the most perfect person on earth? Duh!

Reason 2:

Because they are entertainers! They have one duty: to entertain and entertain only! Entertainment is about fun and one cannot be fun without objectivity and neutrality! It is literally stated in every ‘how to entertain’ book. Every entertainer must bow to the ruling of Global Association of Politically Compliant Entertainers. Heck, even arts schools expel students for skipping the compulsory 100-hour-long ‘objectivity and neutrality classes! Media like Fox News, Breitbart and Infowars frequently report that! Can’t go wrong with right-wing pundits.

How about journalists? Well, their job is to make opinions. Duh! Journalists and pundits are inherently the same. Only fucktards think they are different! The best journalists are the ones who only make opinions.

Actually, no. The best journalists are the ones who make the proper opinions. When I said ‘proper opinions’, I meant the ones that affirm my belief. Again, mine is the correct one.

‘But, good sir, aren’t you being biased yourself?’, some of you may ask. Well, yes, I am biased. But, bias is the prerogative of right-wingers! As I sai-

‘But, sir, aren’t you being unreasonable here?’, some of you may interrupt. Look, the fact is that I am the most perfect person in the universe! Anything that I do, anything that I believe is absolutely perfect! Rejecting me means you are rejecting perfection! Rejecting me means you are rejecting God’s will!

Worship me….. or else!

*takes off the mask*