On The Issue Of ‘Fridging’ In Modern Storytelling

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I try to be empathetic to the liberal-progressive agenda. I really, really, do. But when “woke” people come after some pretty basic elements of storytelling I get really, really mad. I have been aware of the “fridging” trope for some time, but I was unaware that essentially now ANY use of anything related to it is “canceled” in woke culture.

Or maybe only women can use it now? Is that it? No matter how great the story is, if women are put in danger for any reason for the sake of a plot it’s “fridging” and looked down upon? Fuck that. What makes it all the worse is how broad and convoluted the arguments against using the threat of violence against women as a storytelling technique are. I mean, really, people. Has anyone looked out the window? The real world is a harsh, brutal place. There are elements of my story should mitigate the “fridging” accusation for a least some of the woke media observers on Twitter who would harp and bitch about the story in the extremely unlikely event this story is actually a success in any way.

The only thing I can do is be extremely aware of that criticism going forward. That’s all I got. I’m not changing my story to fit anyone’s “woke” political agenda. This story is meant to be a great story that *I* enjoy. I just don’t want to embarrass myself.

There comes a point when you just have to accept that you can’t please everyone — especially woke media observers — and simply embrace the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. I guess Star Trek, that is a utopia and barely has any conflict, is the only thing we should be shown from now on or something.

‘Star Wars’ In Trouble & How I Would Fix It Going Forward

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I have a theory about Star Wars that goes like this — the moment Lando Calrissian was not a woman, the entire thing was doomed. The reason is — if that character’s gender was flipped, instantly Luke would have had a romantic interest and a major flaw in the whole saga would have been fixed. But, whoops!

So, really, this is what I would do.

I would let Episode 9 come out. Then I would take a long, hard look at the state of the franchise. I would blow the whole thing up. Burn it to the ground. Then boil it down to what the fan base loves about it and use that as the foundation of a new cycle.

Some suggestions.

A young male protagonist.
A strong-willed female romantic lead.
A rake.
Cool robots and aliens.
A task (NOT Death Star related)
Lots of call backs to the original universe.

To top it all off, I would stop being greedy and “woke.” Make the movie far more serious — in a sense — and think about storytelling not selling toys or a not-so-subtle liberal-progressive message. Just tell a damn good story and if you get to subtly tell a story that gets your political agenda across, all the better.

The issue is the “base” of Star Wars is center-Right and the management of Disney is center-Left and very, very greedy. I think there’s even some sort of media theory about this situation. I would, if I was in charge of Disney, accept that the base is center-Right and embrace it while also “dog whistling,” if you will more woke people. It’s not impossible, people.

No one listens to me.

Why I Think The ‘Charlie’s Angels’ Reboot Flopped

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

Now, I went into Elizabeth Banks’ reboot of Charlie’s Angels pumped. I love the concept and thought it might be interesting. I lasted until just about the inciting incident then walked out. This says a lot more about me than it does the movie, however. But given how everyone is talking about what a flop the movie was and why, I thought I would put my 2 cents in.

The star of the movie was Kristen Stewart. But I found her extremely miscast. She tried to come off as a dumb-dumb, but it was off putting because we all know she’s not and she’s not that good an actress. I would cast her as a more dominate role. Lean into native strength as an actor and person. Don’t try to ignore that who she actually is. I am aware of the difficulties they had finding the other two actresses and it showed. The movie definitely needed better actresses. But given what it was meant to be — a feminist action-adventure romp — I’m willing to grade it on a curve.

But the moment when I knew I was outtie was the montage of young girls running around for no apparent reason. It made no sense. I guess it was meant to set the tone of the film, but it was at that moment that I realized this was NOT the movie for me. I felt the movie suffered from creeping Bookstmart-itis in the sense that it was so wrapped up in smelling the farts of its message that it was to the detriment of the overall story.

In passing, I would note that one problem with franchises like Charlie’s Angels is it has what I call the Scooby Doo Paradox. This is when your audience is adults who remember something fondly so you think what they want is an over-the-top comedy, when the story might actually be best served by playing it a bit more serious because the conceit is actually really strong and timeless. So, might have made this latest reboot of Charlie’s Angels a little bit more John Wick than it was. That would have been cool. And, remember, Hustlers is how you slip in a feminist message into your story in a way that gets people’s asses in the theatres. Hustlers was a well written movie with just enough T&A (especially J.Lo’s ass) that men went into it not realizing the movie is actually extremely girl-power in its message. Something similar could have been done with Charlie’s Angels.

Make the audience not bi-curious girls in high school, but maybe couples in their late 20s. Have a just enough sex in it to get the guys going — I really liked Kristen Stewart’s flirty butt cheek flash — but if you were more honest about what this story really was then I think you could have a much, much better movie on a number of different levels. If you poured Hustlers and John Wick into Charlie’s Angels, it would have been a hit.

Struggling With Character Ages

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I think I have my ages figured out. But it took me a lot longer than I thought it would. The issue is the older my Hero is, the more gravitas he is accrued. But at the same time, if I have a fixed age for my Heroine, then the older he gets, the creepier any romantic connection between the two of them will be.

So, I have split the difference in a sense. He’s just old enough to benefit from being just about middle-aged, but young enough that the average person wouldn’t wince that he’s 20 years older than the Heroine. I keep thinking about basing my Hero on Daniel Craig, but he’s just too old. I can’t help that men at 50 are white hot career-wise when it comes to leading man roles. That says more about how men are given more power as their careers mature in Hollywood than anything else. It really warps storytelling.

But anyway, I have come up with men who are about the age of my Hero to use as a reference point. The real struggle at this point is my natural inclination to make my Hero a “proxy me” and as such far more of a doofus than maybe the audience would like. I need this to be a dark story with a strong Hero, not some Protestant Alvie Singer character who just is nervous and gets beat up. So, that’s a real issue right now. How to make my Hero, well, a Hero.

But, in general, the story is moving a long quite well. The real task at this point is making the second act — which covers a much longer span of time — interesting enough for the readers to spend the time necessary to finish the story.

Mulling The Potential Impact Of The Durham Investigation

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

So MAGA is waiting with baited breath for the Durham Investigation to save Der Fuhrer from being impeached. This is very possible. The impeachment is supposed to wrap up on Dec. 9th as I understand it. It could drop a big turd in the impeachment process and Trump will yet again survive to tyrant another day.

If you are looking forward to this, please eat shit. Fuck you. Rot in hell. I say this only because Trump is such a racist misogynist tyrant that if you support him you’re a piece of shit.

But the question is, of course, will the Durham Report do what MAGA expects it to do? Given how Trump was able to escape justice after the Mueller Report — only to turn around and do the same thing 24 hours after the “poor optics” of Mueller’s testimony to Congressional pardoned him — I’m inclined to think that our criminally incompetent “president” is likely to escape even being formally impeached.

It’s all very tragic. The only thing keeping us from going full autocratic plutocratic theocracy is, well, Trump’s a piss-poor president. I’m not saying he won’t somehow manage to pull this off in his second term, I’m just saying it may be The Kooch, or Kris Kobach or Tom Cotton that history ultimately decides finished the job.

As such, I’m patiently waiting for an ICE agent to track me down at some point in Trump’s second — or third — administration put me in a camp and murder me after torturing me for some time. I’m a man of peace, words and ideas, so all I can do is just work on my novel and brood. I feel a little like the Man in a High Castle in that respect. Whenever I get mad about how fucking insane Trump is on a criminal level, I use that as motivation to keep plugging along on the political thriller I’m writing.

There are a number of different possibilities. One is that the plot works. Another is it all just gets muddled and yet Trump is still at least impeached. And, lastly, it’s possible that 60% of the population realizes the whole thing is bullshit and it doesn’t work.

Only time will tell.

Fuck Trump. Fuck MAGA.

Republican MAGA Radicalization & Trump’s Ultimate Political Fate

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

The key issue before us is the Republican Party has finally, officially come detached from any connection to liberal democracy. On an institutional level, it’s the Trump Party now. The Republican Party is so completely consumed by Trump’s ideology — or lack thereof — that they simply don’t care about anything other than defending Trump em masse. They have a short term goal, and that’s it: successfully get Trump acquitted in the Senate by any means necessary, even if it means destroying civil society in the process.

So all the tut-tuting of Republican logic by Blue Check Liberals on Twitter is wasted time. This is not about logic or facts, this is about white knuckled political tribalism — identity politics for angry white male Baby Boomers, if you will. Throw in plutocrats, the Religious Right and gun rights advocates and well, here we are.

All of their talk about “letting the people decide” is a bad faith argument to its core. Given what Trump’s accused of — bribery, extortion and political cheating on a strategic level in the upcoming 2020 election — they know the moment Trump’s acquitted he will pretty much go full Putin. He will pardon everyone he needs to pardon and he will instruct Barr to indict (criminal referrals) whomever needs to be indicted. He will, at last, be the authoritarian autocrat he’s always wanted to be. The only things stopping him will be his growing mental instability and his general criminal incompetency. That’s it. That’s why I think their next immediate goal will be to replace Pence with someone like Kris Kobach, or Tom Cotton or The Kooch. Someone who can take over for Trump in his second term should he turn into a mental puddle.

All signs are pointing to the bad guys winning. ICE will be weaponized and I will die in an ICE camp or maybe an American Killing Fields somewhere like upstate New York. So if you see this worst case scenario as your BEST case scenario, you can really just fuck off you piece of shit.

Having said all that, there are at least some known unknowns at this point. Republicans are so completely invested in Trump’s fate on an existential level that they have one of two high-risk endgames before them. Either they “win” and we become a Putin-style “managed democracy,” or they lose and the crisis grows even worse for everyone involved (in a sense.) A major political party can’t grow this radicalized so suddenly without a bolt popping of somewhere. But before we get to that point, let’s see what might stop Republicans from finally destroying the Republic.

Trump Loses His Mind

This is a real wildcard. It’s a big deal because it’s a lingering issue that may pop up at any moment in a fashion that would throw the country into an unprecedented crisis. It could be today, it could be tomorrow, it could be July 2020 (if he’s still in office.) In real terms, it’s the most likely thing that would force him out of office politically anytime soon.

Major Anti-Impeachment Violence On The Part of MAGA
I used to think this might happen. Now, not so much. But if it did happen, that would be one of those impossible-to-spin-but-they’ll-try-anyway things that would really ramp up the political pressure to end Trump’s presidency sooner rather than later.

His Taxes
This is one of those things that is so important and yet may only happen after he’s acquitted so it’s a lulz.

Unexpected Testimony
Don McGahn or John Bolton or one of the Russians involved in Rudy’s “drug deal” unexpectedly testifying in a timely fashion would definitely put a different spin on things going forward.

But the thing is — a growing number of people not in the Republican criminal cult are flabbergasted at their complete refusal to see what’s going on with Trump. Americans are not Russians. While as of right the moment I think Republicans have a 110% chance of burning the whole fucking country down and successfully protecting Der Fuhrer — and indirectly leading to my death in an ICE camp sometime no later than maybe 2023 — there is also a greater-than-zero-sum chance that some pretty shocking things might happen in the near term to at least make that now near-inevitability a bit more complicated.

What those “shocking things” may be, I simply have no idea. But the conditions are there for political events the likes of which we’ve only seen rarely in American history. I’m talking 9/11-levels of shock to our political system. And maybe more than one! The sad truth is no matter what happens in the next few months, the nation is in a new political era. It’s up to us if it’s a good or bad one.

Shelton Bumgarner is writing his first novel. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail (dot) com.

A Ping From The Darkness About Trump’s Potential Mental State

Why would someone from the Washington D.C. area look at what I’ve been writing about the consequences of Trump going bonkers in the context of impeachment?
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I am a nobody. No one listens to me. So when someone, anyone — especially someone from notable like Washington D.C. — looks at anything I’ve written it at least makes me curious.

It’s probably nothing. But all I know is, Trump is hanging out in the White House’s private residence a lot these days. And the whole administration is a bunch of criminal liars. So, it could be nothing, it could be that someone, somewhere knows enough about Trump’s mental and or physical condition to want to know what I’ve written on the political implications of him getting far, far worse.

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Trump’s Mental Decline Is A Real Problem — What If His Insanity Merged With His Criminality?

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

The issue with whatever the fuck is wrong with Trump’s mind is it’s chronic and degenerative. It’s getting worse day by day, if in a somewhat subtle manner. I thought there was a chance he would snap under the pressure of impeachment, but I think he’s going to make out well enough to win a second term, weaponize ICE and ship me to an American Killing Fields whenever my ICE agent notices my anti-MAGA ranting online.

Mental issues are very difficult to predict. So, the absolute worst case scenario would be whatever it wrong with him reaches a critical stage at some point late enough in the 2020 election cycle that there is absolutely nothing politically we can do about it. The 25th Amendment is a dead letter and if at some point at around July 2020 Trump is obviously completely batshit insane, our entire political system will jam up. There simply wouldn’t be any way to do anything about it. Even if Trump was demonstrably fucking insane, he would still win re-election.

My absolute worst case scenario is Trump after he gets re-nominated simply says, “Fuck you, why even vote? I’m going to bribe the Electors and then pardon everyone anyway.” Legally, there would be nothing we could do. Politically, we would have exhausted the impeachment option AND Republicans would say “Let the people decide.” I don’t really expect anything that bad to happen, but it’s a least a possibility given what’s going on right now.

I honestly don’t know what the endgame would be in that respect.

The End Of The American Republic

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

It’s over. We lost. The bad guys won. Gradually, over the next few years, the political system of the United States and Russian will become identical. While Republicans may keep the House as something of a political pressure valve, even that may make them uncomfortable.

ICE will be weaponized and I’ll end up dead in a ditch. Once Trump is acquitted by the Senate, he will be a dictator. He will again be unbounded and he will destroy any chance of a free and fair election in 2020. It will happen in fits and starts, but it will happen.

The only thing that mitigates this clusterfuck for the time being is Trump is criminally incompetent. So, really, he just has to make it into his second term and Kris Kobach, or Tom Cotten, or whomever he picks to make sure American Carnage becomes the law of the land. He can turn into a mental puddle any time after Nov 2020 and, well, that’s that. The end. Fascism, darkness, descends upon America.

I don’t know what to tell you. I guess if you’re center-Left, leave the country if you can. If you don’t, you may be taking your own life in your hands.

Update On My Novel

Shelton Bumgarner

By Shelton Bumgarner

Things continue to go quite well with my novel. I’m kinda working on the scene summary for v1.5 right now. I’m very tired from working on it all day. I’m doing all of the work in longhand, so that tires me out. And things are going a lot slower than I’d like. But I definitely have a lot of forward momentum.

I’m trying to read as much a I can about how to write a novel. The story is strong and I’m pushing myself to the limits of my ability. I’m a pretty good storyteller, but not that great a writer. And there are a lot of things about writing a novel on a basic level that I continue to learn about every day.

One thing that kind of bothers me is I’m too old to do anything creatively successfully in real terms. I should just lay in bed and stare at the ceiling all day and feel sorry for myself. But I can’t help that I’m 20 years too late to the party. I just want to write a novel that I, myself, would enjoy. In large part, the whole thing is just a way for me to see what it would be like to go through the process of writing a novel to see how far I would get before it becomes too painfully obvious that I’ve made a fool out of myself.

But, in real terms, I don’t have anything else to do with my life right now. And I really, really, really like the concept. It’s great. It’s really strong and interesting and flips the script on some tropes more than once. And my characters are growing strong by the day. A lot of my characters are in my head still, though, and not on the page. But that’s changing quickly.

I’m just so tired right this second that it’s difficult for me to get much more work done tonight, even though I really want to. I hope to lay the entire second POV list scenes in front of me on one page then figure out how to make the whole thing as cogent as possible before I got much farther.

Anyway, wish me luck.