Social Pressure
One of the very few people that seem to do exactly what they feel like without concern for Japanese social obligation, are the Yakuza. If you put more than one Japanese in a room, it seems to create a social expectancy - each Japanese watches the other Japanese, to make sure that they don't accidentally do something considered unbecoming for a Japanese. This effect seems to multiply the more people are around. There are only a few people who don't give a shit about this omnipotent social pressure - crazy people, foreigners, and Yakuza.
Social pressure is not as bad here in the U.S.A., but it certainly exists. This is a nice description of how powerful it can be. How much it can suppress people and make them all the same.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Social Rules for Discussion

people don't argue whether to have an affair. to prevent one they shut down discussion. "you can't say that, we can't discuss that, i won't think about that, i'm so offended, go away."

if someone allows it to be a topic of discussion, and says no, that's a lot of the way to them giving in.

there are other social rules where you're not supposed to do something, and a lot of the social mechanism to stop you involves refusing to think about or discuss the issue in the first place.

once the ice is broken, once there is a foot in the door, it's much harder for ppl to resist the social sin. they don't have actual arguments to resist with, and the social rules don't give them much help cuz they focus on blocking things off at the start without considering the issue.

it's sorta like if you say something taboo, then if you aren't immediately shut down (e.g. told to STFU) then just having said it makes it less taboo. even if you're just like "i wonder if the taboo about X is a good idea" and then you consider some args on both sides and end up concluding it's a rational taboo, that still kinda messes up the social prohibition that makes it a taboo.

an example is sending an elderly parent to an old folks home. that's not exactly taboo but there's pressure not to do it or even consider it. it's hard to bring up. it could offend ppl. when you say it, ppl might react immediately negatively, like "oh we could never do that". if no one reacts immediately negatively, then it's just become socially acceptable to consider it, and that's already a bunch of the way to doing it (even if u merely wanted to consider it, u've now helped it happen, esp if you don't have all the relevant decision making authority).

or consider ppl who are shy about sex. if someone asks "do you want to have sex?" and the other person isn't immediately offended, and is actually willing to discuss the topic, then they're already a lot of the way to having sex. breaking the ice is one of the hardest parts – or in other words lots of the pressures are front-loaded.

or it's similar with sexual fetishes. if you ask your spouse to do one of those, then the way it works socially is s/he has to be like "no way" immediately without thinking about it. otherwise it gets significantly harder to resist and say "no". even if they think about it and discuss and say "no", now that the topic has brought up you can just keep asking and giving reasons or whatever and wear down their resistance. their resistance isn't as effective once past the initial reaction.

or doing an intervention for someone. that's really awkward. and if you suggest it, ppl might say immediately "no, that's too drastic and mean" and shut down the idea. but if no one shuts it down then it's become socially acceptable to your little group of friends who were talking, and it's got a good shot of happening.

or committing someone to a mental hospital against their will. this might be a thing some relatives are considering but no one wants to say. and if someone says it outloud too early, ppl will shoot it down like "no way". but if someone manages to suggest merely considering it, without getting the idea immediately shot down, then they are a bunch of the way to actually doing it.

another example: pulling the plug on a spouse in a coma at the hospital.

one that is NOT an example is atheism. maybe it was in the past? (or is now in some countries like Iran?) but now questioning God's existence in the West is so well known and socially acceptable that allowing it to be a discussion is not dangerous to God believers. believers have developed knowledge of how to deal with challenges from non believers. they don't just rely on avoiding the discussion or maintaining some sort of taboo.

or both capitalists and socialists can socially-safely treat the other side as legitimate to discuss. they don't rely on just refusing to discuss. they're used to debate and don't consider the other side's ideas taboo. their resistance to switching sides is not front-loaded. breaking the ice like mentioning capitalism could be false doesn't really matter.

environmentalism, like recycling or global warming, is more front-loaded. they try to shut up debate more than socialists or capitalists, though not entirely. there's a lot of effort currently going into trying to make environmental skepticism an unthinkable taboo.

what are other examples and non-examples?

btw this stuff doesn't just affect discussions outloud with other people. it works fairly similarly with self-discussion. like if the example is an affair, just making pro and con lists in your own head is damaging to your ability to say no to the affair. it stops feeling like a taboo or illegitimate non-option, and starts becoming more possible to think about, discuss, maybe even do. or like consider if you've made pro/con lists in your head and then the other person suggests an affair. now it's harder for you to be like "wtf? no way! don't ever ask that again. how dare you?" cuz if you say that you're lying. and the person might guess that (or just hope it on general principles – nothing to lose for trying this tactic even if mistaken) and be like "you've thought about it, i can tell, don't pretend this is just my own deviant idea that never crossed your mind". if that's true, it's much harder to just be like "omg you're a deviant, what a bad idea" and block discussion entirely.

The Fountainhead illustrates the affair example:
“Your wife has a lovely body, Mr. Keating. Her shoulders are too thin, but admirably in scale with the rest of her. Her legs are too long, but that gives her the elegance of line you’ll find in a good yacht. Her breasts are beautiful, don’t you think?”
“Architecture is a crude profession, Mr. Wynand,” Keating tried to laugh. “It doesn’t prepare one for the superior sort of sophistication.”
“You don’t understand me, Mr. Keating?”
“If I didn’t know you were a perfect gentleman, I might misunderstand it, but you can’t fool me.”
“That is just what I am trying not to do.”
“I appreciate compliments, Mr. Wynand, but I’m not conceited enough to think that we must talk about my wife.”
“Why not, Mr. Keating? It is considered good form to talk of the things one has—or will have—in common.”
“Mr. Wynand, I ... I don’t understand.”
“Shall I be more explicit?”
“No, I...”
“No? Shall we drop the subject of Stoneridge?”
“Oh, let’s talk about Stoneridge! I ...”
“But we are, Mr. Keating.”
Keating looked at the room about them. He thought that things like this could not be done in such a place; the fastidious magnificence made it monstrous; he wished it were a dank cellar. He thought: blood on paving stones—all right, but not blood on a drawing-room rug....
“Now I know this is a joke, Mr. Wynand,” he said.
“It is my turn to admire your sense of humor, Mr. Keating.”
“Things like ... like this aren’t being done ...”
“That’s not what you mean at all, Mr. Keating. You mean, they’re being done all the time, but not talked about.”
“I didn’t think ...”
“You thought it before you came here. You didn’t mind. I grant you I’m behaving abominably. I’m breaking all the rules of charity. It’s extremely cruel to be honest.”
“Please, Mr. Wynand, let’s ... drop it. I don’t know what ... I’m supposed to do.”
“That’s simple. You’re supposed to slap my face.” Keating giggled. “You were supposed to do that several minutes ago.”
Merely allowing a discussion of the topic is a large social concession. Slapping is the kind of action which can shut this down, socially.

If the discussion were more rational, with serious arguments, it wouldn't change the social meaning of being willing to consider the topic in a discussion.

merely treating a topic as discussable has social meaning.

the social rules block paths forward. you can choose: block the discussion or defy the social rules.

you may doubt that affair discussion is an important path forward, b/c you have a low opinion of affairs. but i bet you have a higher opinion of something else which involves similar social dynamics.

also even if no affair is ever a good idea (past or future), discussion of affairs would still be an important path forward. because sometimes people want to have affairs, or think it's a good idea. even if they are always wrong, discussing it is still good. they could learn they are wrong and why, and then be happy to not do the affair. (but the social game rules are incompatible with this approach.)

one question is: how do you have such discussions without the social meaning? if you just want to talk/think about it but not change the social landscape. can you? it could be impossible since social rules are flawed, so they may not be compatible with this; the only solution might involve rejecting some social rules stuff. but maybe there's other solutions. post your thoughts in the comments!

on tangent, what do you think of Ayn Rand's affair? one notable thing is it wasn't secret. on TV affairs are usually secrets. (one reason is if you ask your spouse if having an affair is OK, that's one of those things where the socially acceptable response is to freak out and immediately shut down discussion)

Rand's affair was secret from the public, but not from her husband. I wonder how common non-secret affairs actually are in real life. Or affairs where a spouse knows about it without being told but doesn't say anything.

another issue is Rand was mistaken about how good a thinker Nathaniel Brandon was. is that a coincidence? did lust play some role in this mistake? or was she not mistaken at the time, and he changed later? (btw just merely raising the possibility that lust played a role in the mistake – not a nice thing to consider – has social meaning. it's harder to bring up that unkind possibility initially than it is to discuss it afterwards. the resistance is somewhat front-loaded.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

Social Memes and patio11

patio11 is a frequent commenter on Hacker News. I like some of his writing, e.g. about bitcoin and consulting. Sadly, he advocates irrational social memes. But it's still more interesting than usual because he understands them more clearly than others.

Regarding, WSJ: Can 'World of Warcraft' Game Skills Help Land a Job?, patio11 writes:
Running a WoW guild is pretty good preparation for having to manage a fairly large group of employees with wildly varying levels of skill, attention to detail, ability to follow-through on commitments, intrapersonal conflict resolution ability, and the like.

That said: it is almost crazy to have on a resume, 99.54% of the time. It doesn't by itself persuasively say "I'm going to make you more money" and unless you have a very good read of the cultural background of the person reading your essay has a high risk of reading "I have low status hobbies. Please judge me for them!"
This is about how to meet social expectations, and be socially effective, rather than be logical.

Regarding, Guide dogs and guns: America's blind gunmen, patio11 writes:
This is one way in which a large portion of America is culturally distinct from Britain in a way which many people do not appreciate white people being capable of being culturally distinct. In much of America, use and possession of firearms is a strong cultural marker, like ear piercing or playing football or driving cars. Perhaps it is not obvious at the BBC, where this looks like "Crikey, that's the only way to make guns MORE dangerous," but for people who are in that culture, it reads more like "Blind man triumphs over adversity to claim his rightful place in the civic life of his community."
This is about social groups. It treats them as very important, and understands how much work people will put into gaining social acceptance.

Regarding, Why are some people so much luckier than others?, patio11 writes:
I rather like the Techzing guys' take on this, called "luck surface area," because it tracks with my experience and is actually weaponizable in a way that "be more observant" is not.

If you for some reason want to get into a guild protected by a scouting system, then your priorities should be a) identifying what the scouts are looking for and getting good at it and b) getting in front of as many scouts as possible as often as possible.

There exist many opportunities which HNers want which resemble "a guild protected by a scouting system" if you squint at them, by the way.
This comment has good insight into the social systems surrounding many Hacker News type activities. patio11 is vague about what he means, but I think that's on purpose. (Perhaps to avoid avoid offending people by saying what they are doing clearly and truthfully?)

Social Advocate

In each case, patio11's advice advice is approximately: obey social rules. Understand social rules, act accordingly, and you'll get ahead in life.

He's a little vague about recommending this. I read this vagueness as him not considering any alternatives. I think he takes it for granted that this is how life works.

He assumes if he tells people how to follow social rules better, and what the rewards are, they will want to do it. It's unnecessary to persuade people to live this way. It's life, and the issue is merely skill at doing it. patio11 has more skill than most, and he's sharing some.


It has never crossed patio11's mind that he's promoting irrationality. He's teaching people how to better conform the externally-determined rules for their lives. He's encouraging people to pay more attention to social issues, and develop more effective social skills, and live by them (which, like it or not, means less attention to reason, science, programming, etc)

He's encouraging people to be more social – and obedient to social expectations. He's encouraging them to learn how to deal with social issues more skillfully, like he does (rather than find a way of life in which one doesn't have to).

Social rules are not rational. Everyone knows this, but at the same time few people will admit it when they are on the defensive. They don't like the implication that their decision to learn and follow many social rules is irrational.

Let's look at the three examples above. The first rule is about not writing about "pretty good preparation" on one's resume. Instead of making the best rational case in one's resume, one is supposed to obey unwritten social rules about what to write or not write.

The second rule is about having to shoot guns for people to be more friendly with you. It's about pressuring people to share the same interests, instead of being happy for everyone to make their own decisions and choose their own interests. The gun shooting is a required social ritual, similar to prayer. You can tell because there's no flexibility to adjust it when it doesn't make much sense (as with a blind person). It's not about making rational sense, it's about social signaling.

The third rule is about guild systems. patio11 advises become skillful at what certain other people want, to please them, instead of figuring out what skills are the most rationally useful and pursuing those.

By learning and following social rules like these, patio11 has gotten ahead in life and received various rewards. At a cost to rationality. He's gotten better at pleasing others, but worse at figuring out what is an objectively good life and doing that. Instead of focusing on his own values, he's learned all kinds of ways to get along with people socially and please them.

Rather than openly acknowledge the tradeoffs, people view learning and meeting (and exceeding) social expectations as life effectiveness. They sacrifice their individual soul to the group, and don't even realize there is a question to consider about what to do.

Most people muddle through their life, including social life, without understanding what's going on very well, or why. patio11 understands how the social rules work more clearly, but still doesn't critically question them.

I find this all very sad. Smart people live bad lives, wasting so much potential. And even go around advising others to do the same. Well, I advise the opposite. Don't focus on pleasing others. Focus on pleasing yourself. No they aren't the same thing. Your personal preferences don't just happen to coincidentally match the intrusive preferences others have for you.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

All Authority is Social Authority

People think there's different types of authority. One guy might have high social status, be a leader of a social group. He has social authority. Another guy might be a "leading intellectual" with "intellectual authority".

But "intellectual authority" is a contradiction. Reason doesn't work by authority.

What's actually going on is that all authority is social authority.

That "leading intellectual" has a type of social status. It comes from his socially-accepted reputation, which comes from things like socially-accepted reputation-deciders. Like the people who are socially anointed as legitimately able to decide who is worthy of a Ph.D. or a (socially) prestigious award.

(Similarly, there is no intellectual prestige. All prestige is social prestige.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Social Dynamics: Cruz, Trump and PUA

Some knowledge about social dynamics from pick up artists applies to politics. Candidates aim to gain a social status advantage over their rivals. It's not the only factor in how people vote, but it's a big one.

Long-Time Leaders of Conservative Movement Unite in Support of Ted Cruz

“There are two big differences between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz that explain why I think Cruz will prevail,” Bozell says.

“First, in every other clash between a competing candidate and Trump it was that candidate picking a fight with Trump. In this case it was Trump picking a fight with Cruz out of necessity,” Bozell notes.

“Second, in this case it is Trump who sounds angry. Cruz is responding with humor,” he adds.

“The more this plays itself out, the more it is being established that Cruz is the real conservative and Donald Trump is a charlatan,” Bozell concludes on the Trump-Cruz matchup.

This analysis has some good points. It's a good start. But real social dynamics style ideas can add more. I'll talk about reactivity and the law of least effort.

Trump is the more reactive one. He's reacting to Cruz more than Cruz reacts to Trump. This is contrary to Trump's previous fights where he was the less reactive one.

The article says Cruz is in a good spot because Trump picked the fight with Cruz. That's less accurate. You can pick a fight with someone and get them to react more than you. If you poke them a little and they have a big reaction, now they look bad.

Initiating means you are reacting to them. But it doesn't mean that you react more to them overall. Whoever picks a fight is more often the more reactive person, but not always.

Another way to look at reactivity is: it's about who is living their own life with their own strong frame, and who is leaving their world to go visit the other person and give them attention on their terms. Going to pick a fight with someone is a disadvantage here. But it's not game over. If an attacked person gets defensive, that shows a weak frame and that they are reacting to the attacks, so then they can lose this social context.

Cruz has dealt with Trumps attacks with poise. He hasn't gotten overly defensive. He hasn't started accepting Trump's premises or framing of the issues. And he hasn't started reacting a lot. Cruz does react, but less than Trump is reacting to Cruz. Cruz is the more calm and chill person in their squabble.

Trump comes off as more interested in talking about Cruz, and interacting with Cruz, than vice versa. Trump is seeking out Cruz and reacting to what Cruz does (e.g. go up in the polls) more than vice versa.

Note that the media in general, which has attacked Trump so much, has been the more reactive and higher effort party there. That's helped Trump.

The law of least effort also provides some insight. In short, whoever appears to put less effort into an interaction has higher social status.

Trump is appearing to put more effort into going after Cruz than the effort Cruz is putting into doing anything about Trump. So Cruz looks better here.

Cruz has highlighted this pretty clearly. He's said some stuff about he's on Trump's mind and Trump is tweeting so much about him.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (17)

Disney Movies Are Immoral Propaganda

i'm watching Frozen. i watched aladdin trilogy yesterday.

the messaging is really evil

like the let it go song, and the stuff about crazy.

and everythign about love

it's life ruiningly bad ideas

and the approach to emotions

aladdin is full of lying and forgiveness

all of them are full of non-communication problems

jasmine forgives aladdin's repeated lies b/c she FEELS GOOD when doing romance with him

iago reminds her of how she felt on a date with aladdin, from a couple days ago, and she'd like forgotten. then relives the feelings and forgives him with no problem solving.

the role of music and dancing and clothing in life is bad too in the movies

the movies have major evil like every other scene

like ana and cristof just jumped the ravine from the wolves

and he makes up a stupid lying excuse to still help her – she won't buy him a new sled if she dies.

he also makes an awful comment about not helping ANYONE in the future, b/c of this particular incident

and then she's like "oh u will [come]? i mean, i'll let you tag along"

which is a like intentionally blatant lie

like playing it off cool, but badly. which is a thing

ppl find it more defensible b/c it's not very clever or sneaky or something

being superficially socially uncalibrated IS CALIBRATED in certain ways, contexts, etc

similar to the stuff about "can i say something crazy?" she does with hans earlier

just acknowledging she (claims to) knows what she's saying is "crazy" makes it ok to say

if u want to do something crazy, but don't know it's crazy, that'd be bad

but if you know it's crazy and want to do it anyway, and it's the right kind of thing, now that's good

it's partly a massive dishonest exaggeration of their deviance

makes them more unique, rebelliious, non-comformist, quirky

but what was her "crazy" idea? a very old trope. love at first sight. a princess marrying a prince she doesn't know well.

it's convention masquerading as craziness

the movies are like this THROUGHOUT

evil after evil after evil

the world doesn't want the information that disney is evil propaganda that destroys their children. which isn't really accurate. it's just selling the kids on the same bad ideas their parents already have and are selling too.

ppl need to learn to see it themselves, not be told the points individually by me

a few demonstrations and examples are good. but i already have provided hundreds of those.

they meet the talking walking snowman and freak out. very very uncalm, rash, stupid.

disney portrays these large character flaws as fun normalcy for kids.

now olaf the snowman is singing a song about how he wants summer, like tanning at the beach and stuff. he's ignorant of melting. the whole song is teaching kids about how to make fun of people, and read between the lines, and not communicate directly, and how that's good and fun and normal.

cristof is like "i'm gonna tell him" and ana says "don't you dare" in a voice tone.

the message is telling ppl the truth is bad

positive emotions trump truth.

early on there was a really blatant attack on capitalism and trade. calling it exploitation. that's marxism!

ana climbing icy steep mountainside with no gear is like "i'm just gonna block u out cuz i gotta concentrate here"

their interactions are full of kinda mean and hostile and stupid banter presented as fun and good

after failing to climb, ana makes transparent, stupid, defensive excuses for her stupidity, and isn't contradicted

it's not presented that way. the voice tones, atmospheres, vibes, character reactions, etc, all lie about the underlying nature of the interactions.

these movies in general portray problems as solved by people being in the right emotional states, and caused by being in the wrong emotional states. elsa freezes stuff cuz fear. ana is positive and happy, so thinks elsa can unfreeze no problem. but elsa thinks she can't cuz she's being negative. says she doesn't know how. later she will unfreeze without learning how, just by changing mood.

they never have rational discussions about anything

that's just not a thing to even consider

elsa causing problems by literally trying not to feel emotions. her dialog is "don't feel. don't feel". the visual imagery shows she's having negative feelings.

she tries to suppress emotions by force of will, and this works out badly. lesson? embrace even "crazy" positive emotions, like ana. especially love.

the trolls are now embarrassing the fuck out of their FRIEND christoff. singing a song attacking various minor traits he has as flaws. this is portrayed as somehow friendly and just kinda over-enthusiastic. it's got the thinnest veneer of helping – they are asking why ana doesn't pursue love relationship with him, what's the blocker. so then they list lots of potential bad things about him.

it's very intrusive about relationship, and done on initial meeting.

lyrics include saying ppl make bad choices if mad or scared or stressed

which is like explicitly what i was saying the movie's messaging was about emotions

and they don't respect at all that she's already engaged.

the movies portray pets as humans a lot. they also have a ton of selective attention on the main characters.

olaf says "love is putting someone else's needs before yours". so: sacrifice, altruism.

elsa unthaws kingdom cuz she feels lovey

then ppl cheer for ana's petty violence and petty insult against hans.

oh look now kristoff is being super beta and getting affirmative consent to kiss ana

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Silly Song

What Makes You Beautiful Lyrics

You're turning heads when you walk through the door

song sings about girl turning heads when she walks thru door. but like they can’t see she’s hot BEFORE they turn their head. so it doesn’t actually make much sense. or if they could already see her, they don’t have to turn head, yaknow?

You don't know you're beautiful, oh oh,
That's what makes you beautiful

also the song says what makes her beautiful is ignorance of the beautiful face she spent 2 hours in front of a mirror designing before the party. blatant fucking lie? and is that ignorance what ppl r looking at when they turn their heads..?

Everyone else in the room can see it,
Everyone else but you

she'd have to be terribly naive and ignorant to have no clue how people see her. especially given lots of people have told her by hitting on her, singing love songs to her about her beauty, etc. do they want her to be naive about our society's thinking on sex so she's easier to fuck? sounds unrealistic. maybe they just want her to pretend to be naive about it so she seems more like a virgin. a lot of girls do that kinda thing. they put on an act about their sexual inexperience and then lots of guys like fucking them more. it's very silly.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)

Moana Review

You will learn more if you watch the movie first and write down your own thoughts before reading mine, so you can compare.

Moana is better than Frozen but has some nasty stuff about identity ("who you are"), emotions, and not needing skill. Also, like Frozen, it doesn't have a serious evil bad guy. I don't think Disney wants to admit there's evil in the world anymore. There's no character anything like Scar from The Lion King or Jafar from Aladdin. Not even close.

Moana starts when she’s like 2yo and her dad disrupts her important activity, without knowing what she was doing or why, and ignores her protests. he drags her away from the magic powers, wonderland, etc. then he says she will grow up to be chief but first she needs to learn “where she belongs”. learn your place, don’t go to the ocean!

then it glorifies primitive life. “the island gives us what we need” (they should try watching the Alone TV show to see how realistic that is). primitive island tribe life seems to consist of way more dancing than manual labor. and "we share everything we make" is so anti-Objectivist and collectivist.

moana sings (paraphrasing): i try to be the perfect daughter, but no matter how hard i try i still disobey (b/c my dad is wrong)

moana's world sucks because her people forget their identity. but she magically suspected it from birth and has a quick little magic shamanic journey to find out.

moana goes out, alone, to face the scary unknown on the ocean without bothering to even learn how to sail a boat first. b/c her heart told her to.

Moana has a strong and powerful male lead so that's an improvement over Frozen. the man and the woman have to work together, using both of their different strengths, to succeed. it's not great or anything. but that tradition is way better than the modern radical attack on it for the purpose of destruction. it's hard to reform anything when it's under attack by enemies. i'm not an enemy of our culture's traditions, just a would-be reformer. i'd much rather have people stick to old ideas than make things worse. i try to make sure my criticism of society isn't aligned with radical leftist and SJW agendas. i try to clearly separate myself from them and point out how they are worse than the traditional aspects of society which i criticize.

Some lyrics

Moana go now

Moana don't stall

Don't worry 'bout how

Just answer the call of the sea

Not worrying about how, just proceeding, is stupid. Moana at least does some training after she's on her journey.

The overall meaning of the movie is as follows (notice this is basically good):

Society is stagnating and failing. It can't go on without any change. But it resists change. Moana is young and naive and willing to think outside the box. Her dad tells her to stop, but she does it anyway.

Change is scary, but Moana chooses to be heroic. She has setbacks and doubts, but keeps trying. It's hard, but she doesn't expect to be pampered. She isn't looking for a stress-free life on easy street. She succeeds at harnessing the power of the scary unknown and brings it back to her society which begins a new era of flourishing. By courageously facing and solving scary problems, Moana was a pioneer, and her individual actions changed the world while the bulk of her society did nothing.

For points of comparison, I'll summarize three more Disney movies. BTW, thanks to Jordan Peterson for his analysis of Lion King and Pinocchio which is great.

Lion King is about the danger to society from evil, and how heroic actions can defeat evil. Simba's father dies because society is blind to its evil side. Simba spends the middle of the movie being irresponsible, but then he realizes his error and decides to do better. Part of why he reforms is that he disappointed the girl. He's also aided by a shamanic journey, which basically means he does some introspection. Facing Scar is a stressful challenge, but Simba is able to succeed. This is pretty good.

Pinocchio is about a young boy growing up. He receives a lecture on morality which doesn't make any sense, because society is terrible at explaining morality logically, so that's a typical experience of children. Then he goes along with temptation which offers him rewards (fame and money) without the effort of education, even though his conscience (Jiminy Cricket) warns him. Pinocchio is generally passive and irresponsible, rather than taking charge of his own life. He gets a second chance and pursues temptation again (the easy fun of Pleasure Island). The excuse used is that he's sick and instant gratification will cure him. Pinocchio manages to escape before losing his humanity, but still has to face a difficult challenge (the whale) to put his life back together. He finally acts responsibly and heroically, and succeeds. This is pretty good.

In Frozen, Elsa nearly kills her sister Anna by not keeping herself under control. The danger is real. Nevertheless, the lesson she learns later is to "Let It Go", stop trying to control herself, and embrace her wild whims and arbitrary emotions. This doesn't make sense.

Anna is a contradictory mix of traits. She's helpless and feminine at times, strong and competent at other times. This fits with the modern lie that girls can be just like boys when they want, but also still be girls when they want. (Life roles don't just arbitrarily mix and match like that. It's hard enough to manage one lifestyle you focus on. Changing lifestyles like masks, at a moment's convenience, is ridiculous. It basically implies that everything people do in life is superficial and simple.)

Anna's love interest is a weak beta male with little to offer.

The theme of the movie is following your emotions. Very bad movie.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

Analyzing How Far I'll Go

Lyrics from How Far I'll Go, from Disney's Moana.

I've been staring at the edge of the water

The ocean water is a metaphor for the unknown, the Other, for thinking outside the box, for being a pioneer.

Long as I can remember, never really knowing why

People don't understand themselves very well.

I wish I could be the perfect daughter

But I come back to the water, no matter how hard I try

Moana tries to follow her society's rules and fit in like her dad wants her to. "Perfect" refers to perfect conformity.

But she can't do it. Many people are content to just go with the flow of their society, but Moana is an ambitious hero. And as as the movie plot indicates (Moana's actions are necessary and help her society), society needs some people who stand out, some explorers, pioneers and nonconformists.

Every turn I take, every trail I track

Every path I make, every road leads back

To the place I know where I cannot go

Where I long to be

Moana faces a conflict with her society. She tries to fit in, but there's friction. This is normal. Society tramples on the individual some. It may be pretty good, but it's not going to be a perfect fit for everyone. This is a common problem, especially for children, but most people accept their place as they grow up.

See the line where the sky meets the sea.
It calls me
And no one knows, how far it goes

Society doesn't understand the world outside the society.

The line is a boundary line. Crossing a line is similar to breaking a rule. Moana wants to cross lines.

If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I'll know

Moana wants to push boundaries. She wants to go beyond her society's current knowledge.

This isn't a challenge to her society. She isn't attacking her society. She isn't calling it oppressive. She doesn't think the new knowledge will harm her society. She thinks it will be good. And in the movie, it is good for everyone.

Notice the if. Her plan involves uncertainty. The unknown involves unpredictability.

If I go there's just no telling how far I'll go

When you're a pioneer, you never know where the journey will take you. Once you step outside society's boundaries, there's no more societal structure to guide your or limit how far you go.

I know everybody on this island seems so happy, on this island
Everything is by design

Society has reasons for how it's organized. And it makes people happy and works pretty well.

I know everybody on this island has a role, on this island
So maybe I can roll with mine

People have roles in society. People try to figure out a role which works both for them and for society. Moana has a role which is accessible to her (chieftain's daughter who will later be chief), and has been trying to make herself want it. But she wants to be a pioneer.

I can lead with pride, I can make us strong
I'll be satisfied if I play along

She sees good things about the life role her society is offering her. She can accomplish worthwhile things within the role. She thinks she should be able to play the role and be satisfied, like other people do. (Or at least appear to do. Many others have similar struggles like Moana. But they don't always talk about it, and they often become satisfied and play along as they grow up.)

But the voice inside sings a different song
What is wrong with me?

Moana thinks something is wrong with her because she doesn't fit into her place in society. She has put a lot of effort into fitting in, but it's still not working. She wants something different.

See the light as it shines on the sea.

Moana wants to explore the sea (the unknown beyond her society's little world). The light on the sea is positive symbolism. Light is holy, moral and illuminating. This is partly because light lets us see, and seeing lets us understand and deal with the world.

A dictionary definition of "illuminate" is "help to clarify or explain".

It's blinding

But the sea is difficult to deal with. Her society is blind to what the unknown is like. Moana can't currently see the world she wants to explore, but she believes it will be illuminating to go there.

But no one knows, how deep it goes

The unknown is scary and dangerous. You don't know how to control and organize it and put it in a safe, bounded structure.

And it seems like it's calling out to me, so come find me

And let me know

What's beyond that line, will I cross that line?

Moana wants to cross lines (explore outside boundaries, break rules). She's inspired to do this. She finds it appealing. She has an energetic, adventurous, heroic spirit.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (8)

Frozen Comments

female "equality" is a type of feminist social justice, and is a major theme in Frozen.

let’s have 2 female leads and a weak man, and call it equality… uhhhhhhhh

another major social justice idea is that existing social structures are oppressive. which is also a main Frozen theme. it presents following your emotions as the solution to this oppression. the rules are mean, so ignore them and replace with whim and be free and empowered.

lion king says existing social structures can be oppressive or not. depends who’s in charge. Scar was oppressive but that was a solvable problem without getting rid of the structure.

but Frozen says you can’t reconcile existing social structures with your emotions, identity, etc

Moana sings about “who you are” and has some identity shit. and it says this causes some mild friction with society. but that fundamentally Moana is compatible with society and is even celebrated by her society without the society losing its nature or values.

in Lion King, when Simba accepts his societal role, function, duty and responsibilities, he makes things better. his responsibilities weren’t oppressing him, they were guiding him to do the right thing which was best for everyone.

in Pinocchio, when he acts responsibly, he saves his father from the whale and he becomes a real boy. first he acts contrary to his conscience, to society’s ideas, and makes his life a mess. then he acts more like how he knew he should (how society and his conscience say to) and that got his back life in order.

Moana is irresponsible in mild ways. a bit reckless. but what matters is: she decides to do something hard because it’s important for her society in a way that’s bigger than herself. it’s also personally fulfilling. that’s compatible. she decides to take on a burden, a responsibility, a difficult heroic quest.

and the Moana plague, Pinocchio whale and Scar tyrant are all like objective problems in the world. as opposed to Frozen where the primary problem is Elsa being emo, not the political plot. Simba being dumb in the middle is not the primary problem in the movie.

Pinocchio is dumb and is responsible for some of his own problems. but his emotion following is portrayed as bad. he wasn’t supposed to give in to temptation. (as opposed to Frozen where they are supposed to give in to their emotions). and then Pinocchio faces a major challenge in the world after.

Moana is never very dumb. at her worst, she thinks she’s failed and wants to give up. one scene later to give her some wisdom, she’s back at it.

in Moana, her semi-love-interest is an older man with a large power imbalance in his favor (he’s a demigod…). he’s cocky, funny and initially dismissive to Moana. he’s high status and knows it and is literally willing to say so. Moana is strong enough to push back and earn some respect.

I see what's happening yeah

You're face to face with greatness and it's strange

You don't even know how you feel

It's adorable!

Well, it's nice to see that humans never change

Open your eyes, let's begin

Yes, it's really me

It's Maui, breathe it in

I know its a lot; the hair, the bod

When you're staring at a demigod

What can I say except you're welcome

For the tides, the sun, the sky

Hey, it's okay, it's okay, you're welcome

that’s how his song begins when she meets him. and he shit tests her by sealing her in a cave with a giant boulder and stealing her boat and leaving

Anna doesn’t decide to be a hero. she doesn’t choose to face the dangers like wolves or giant snowman, they just happen to her. she never starts acting responsibly on purpose

she keeps gossiping. she’s super social. that’s not typical of adventure movies. but she spends her time talking and then like actually does things as a minor aside.

simba knows scar is dangerous and faces it anyway. same with pinocchio and sea+whale. same with Moana and maui, crab and fire boss

anna says elsa isn’t dangerous when she goes on journey

she isn’t setting out to face the scary unknown or slay a dragon. she’s just trying to talk with her sister like at home.

Anna’s most heroic moment is when she gets hit by a sword. b/c of self-sacrificing love, not courage. at least she knew she was stepping into danger (tho she was about to die anyway)

Moana sings about trying to choose a role in life (chief or explorer)

roles Ana plays include: clumsy-adorable girl, falling in romantic love girl, helpless girl who needs to be rescued, breadwinning provider, gossip, martyr, badguy puncher (in a comic way without strength), dismissive beta-orbiter-target

she doesn’t really play a princess role, but she does abuse her office to give Kristoff a job

she fakes confidence in a social way a couple times on journey

she never does anything to learn, grow, train, skill-up as is pretty standard in these movies.

the movie is about letting go of the structural organization of society, not having roles in life to guide you, and replacing it all with emotions – especially love.

Frozen also has no strong characters. the giant snowman/monster or random guards are the closest. the hero doesn’t even fight the monster. she just leaves and the bad guys fight it

the movie is so confused. changing the bad guy into the sister will do that, i guess.

the movie doesn’t even know if “cold” is good or bad. it can’t keep its metaphors straight b/c of the role change. she has cold powers. which are good, sorta. but Let It Go ends with “The cold never bothered me anyway.” besides a lie, this is a use of the regular meaning of cold (as bad)

and in Let It Go (all Frozen lyrics), Elsa sings:

And I'll rise like the break of dawn.


Here I stand, in the light of day.

But then when Anna shows up, Elsa sings:

Please go back home, your life awaits

Go enjoy the sun and open up the gates

It's contradictory about the sun. Elsa was singing how she gets to be in the sun now, but then she's like "nah you go be in the sun Anna".

later the trolls sing:

We’re not saying you can change her, ‘cuz people don’t really change 

We’re only saying that love of course is powerful and strange 

People make bad choices if they’re mad, or scared, or stressed 

Throw a little love their way and you’ll bring out their best 

True love brings out their best!

Frozen says Love is an Open Door (that's another song title)

Frozen replaces the hero’s journey with the lover’s journey.

in Frozen, you don’t pioneer by facing the unknown, you pioneer by falling in love... in regular movies you explore the scary unknown world and face challenges in the world. in Frozen, you explore your own emotions, and the challenges are your own emotions, and pretty much the whole world consists of emotions.

Frozen is a super social movie all about talking, relationships and emotions. it's heavy on romance, love, and dishonesty. Anna lies about her assertiveness with Kristoff and later lies about letting him tag along (faking non-needy high status even on a snowy mountain, because she thinks social reality always matters more than real reality). And Anna doesn't want Kristoff to tell the truth to Olaf about summer melting snowmen. And then there's what Elsa sings (emphasis added)

Don't let them in, don't let them see

Be the good girl you always have to be

Conceal, don't feel, put on a show

Make one wrong move and everyone will know

Putting on a show means lying.

A "wrong move" consists of one that lets everyone know. She's trying to hide the truth from them. She wants them blind ("don't let them see"). She wants them not to have knowledge. She considers enlightening and illuminating wrong.

The cold never bothered me anyway.

The cold did bother her. This is such a standard, modern, social lie. People say they didn't care anyway about stuff they did care about. Like if they don't get invited to a party they lie that they didn't want to go anyway.

And what are Elsa's ice powers a metaphor for? They are something about she doesn't fit in, she's not normal, and when she's emotional she can hurt people. I think the movie is ambiguous and Elsa is meant to fit many types of not fitting in, rather than it being about a particular type. As an example, Elsa could be a lesbian and trying to hide it (the voice actors like the idea). That would fit the movie fine. But the movie is vague and it could easily be something else instead, like she's a nervous dork. Or she could think she's a C student working really hard to get A's, but she's not smart enough for the perfect student role and worries she'll be revealed as a fraud if she slips up. Or she could be a non-cheerleader who worries if she slips up with her makeup and lets them see a pimple then people will realize she's not the beautiful girl she tries to present as. There are lots of ways people get nervous, worried and stressed. They try to fit into a role in society, and especially early on they aren't perfect at it and worry people will recognize the mismatch. And then they sometimes lash out when the pressure and stress upsets them. The pressure is often more self-imposed than the realize, but there's also frequently some genuine, important external pressures which they resent.

What is Frozen's solution? if you don't fit in, blame society. do whatever you feel like and people should be happy to support you. Frozen has no respect for the reasons society is organized as it is, no understanding of the purposes of society's structural organization. Frozen seems to think people can change their place in the world about as fast as they can change emotions.

Read my previous comments on Frozen.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)