Feminism and Egalitarianism

You know, despite the best efforts and good intentions of pretty much every feminist out there, we still encounter those disheartening individuals who say they support gender equality and women’s rights… but not feminism. I have made posts before about calling it Humanism, a mistake because Humanism is a philosophical belief system about the destiny of the human race as being “to be good people”. However, perhaps you or someone you know says it’s not feminism they support but egalitarianism? An egalitarian society is one in which race, income, gender and background do not affect what rights you have, everyone gets the same chances and that’s that. Awesome right? Ehh…

Egalitarianism was the philosophy that served as the starting point for fair and equal societies, the argument stood as thus – everyone is fundamentally the same, we are all human, we all therefore deserve the same as one another. In the early days of society, those who spoke of egalitarianism got the ball rolling for the formation of fairer societies in which equal rights were not available. Slavery, colonialism, sexism, many creeds of people were denied the most basic of resources on flawed grounds and egalitarianism is the idea that this can be rectified by giving everyone the exact same entitlements. A great concept, if everyone was given £100, everyone is £100 better off right, especially those who are without any money right? Well the problem with this idea is egalitarianism fails to take into account some factors that might drastically alter how far that £100 goes – maybe you already have £100,000, what’s £100 more? Maybe £100 isn’t enough to pay off £500 of debt? Maybe what you need more than money is a home and food? Maybe your problem, say, a disability, can’t be fixed by throwing some money at it? Egalitarianism doesn’t address this, everyone gets the same resources, everyone has to make do.

Feminism, as a concept, only really existed as a combination of ideas and legal battles and protests, taking its name as a means to represent the under-represented class of citizens at its time, women. Women wanted the same rights as men, rights to an education and to ownership of property, to be allowed to divorce unfaithful men and to be allowed to earn their own keep. However, what is often overlooked is what feminism stood for and still stands for – gender is not a fair basis for discrimination of any kind. Feminism grew to encompass the idea that no discrimination is acceptable and a feminist will not stand for discrimination on the basis of sexuality or socio-economic status just as much as they won’t stand for discrimination based on gender, because every human issue affects every human being, regardless of gender. To the outside world, you are defined by your gender, your race, your religion, your sexuality, and feminism says that whatever the world sees, you are never fair game for being discriminated against. Feminism was the word chosen for the movement that defends the rights of those that were unspoken for, it was the name given to the gauntlet cast against the uncaring majority. If a feminist claim isn’t one that seeks to achieve equality in terms of rights and protections for all, it’s not a feminist claim and feminism is still a valid name, though that’s a blog post in itself.

Egalitarianism opened the door to this discussion for the masses when people proposed the concept of an equal society but feminism is the only mainstream movement actively making strides to achieve just that, in fact one must consider that what we often seek is equity, not equality. Equity Theory, as it is known, is the recognition that our varying backgrounds not only make us who we are but that they must be reflected in what must be done to render us all equals. Confused? Say you have a room full of people to feed and you offer everyone in that room peanut butter sandwiches. Here is the difference between equality and equity:

EQUALITY: “You are all entitled to a plate of peanut butter sandwiches”

EQUITY: “You are all entitled to a plate of peanut butter sandwiches but if you are wheat-intolerant, allergic to peanuts or just don’t like sandwiches, we’ll fill your plate with something more appropriate”

Like the £100 analogy from earlier, just offering everyone £100 is equal means but not a fair playing field, some people only have that  £100 and some have that £100 added onto the £100,000 they have in the bank. A fair society is one that levels the playing field so there is nothing outside of the individual’s control that is affecting their chances at a happy life. Equity, therefore, is the offering that if you need more, you can take more and if you can give more, you should give more so that we all share in the wealth and thus, share in the happiness of a secure life. Where does Feminism fit into this? Feminism, at this buffet, is the person at the buffet table telling people not to push and shove because we should all get what we want, everyone deserves to eat and that even if you are entitled to your sandwich, which you are, you shouldn’t force your way through the crowds because when it comes down to that, it’s the weak that get left the crumbs at the end.

The notion of equality can be exploited but equity is harder to fool if implemented correctly. Feminism seeks equity and for a truly fair society, so should we. To fight for social justice and a fair standard of living for all, where all needs are met and everyone feels safe, valued and able to contribute, is to be a feminist and that names does not need to change. By our very human nature, we are social animals who want to better the world we live in, even those of us who commit crimes think we are doing the right thing in some capacity, so a society of equity would ensure everyone’s basic needs were met whilst everyone’s talents were put to use. That is what feminism fights for, that is what a fair society is and that is why we are not egalitarians, we are feminists! 

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Millions of Minions

I’m going to go out there and say it – I fucking hate the Minions by now. What had originally been adorable yellow jelly beans waddling around the background of an enjoyable kids film has become a marketing campaign drawn to ungodly lengths and bloated into such disgusting proportions, there were actually people in a position of wealth and movie-making authority who said “You know what? Give them their own film”. Minions have outstayed their welcome, their yellow cyclopean forms appearing on lunchboxes, phone cases and even underwear for children and adults alike and honestly, I think that has ruined what charm they had and exposed them for what they always were – the most marketable and palatable bland shite in the entire Despicable Me franchise. I’m disproportionately annoyed by these talking tic-tac twatbags so allow me to vent for your amusement, if you so please.

In the original Despicable Me films, the Minions served the purpose of comic relief, side distractions to keep the kids paying attention to the film and appealing to the goldfish mentality of some audiences. Face it, if a film isn’t constantly gripping you, you can drift off, change channel or relegate it to background noise whilst you do something more interesting like Angry Birds or picking your nose. I enjoyed their role, adding a little laugh between scenes but never taking the spotlight for very long, serving more as means to an end for a joke. The focus was always on Gru and his girls, the more interesting characters who needed to be developed and had stories to follow, the Minions are just comedy fodder. However, starting with the second film making Minions central to the end scheme of the antagonist, the Minions began taking more of the limelight away from Gru, a character I actually like (A loveable baddy-turned-daddy that punches sharks in the face? I love it) and soon enough, Despicable Me 3 isn’t a thing but the Minions get their own film? Who gives a film to a mass of moronic herd-like creatures that can’t speak a coherent language? That sounds like a formula for UKIP: The Movie!

The Minions put me in mind of the now faded in obscurity characters of the Rabbids from Rayman, background characters from a Rayman party game that became so popular due to their stupid antics and lack of clear communication, they got their own game and lo and behold, the magic surrounding them faded and soon enough they exhausted every joke in their arsenal, only to be swept under the rug and Rayman resumed his post as the big money in that franchise (Which they rebooted to wipe the memory of Rabbids from the continuity and good on them for doing so, new age Rayman is brilliant stuff – a comedy platformer combining nostalgia with innovation). I wish Minions would go the same way and maybe they will but for now they seem to be firmly stuck to the shelves, the world of cinema and our social networks. Why? Well, I have some ideas.

So the Minion design is minimalistic and interchangeable but with some iconic features that instantly make them stand out as part of the brand – goggles, tic-tac shaped body, funny sounding babble – this makes them characters we can easily modify and project onto, such is the way of lasting marketing characters. Compare the Meerkat uses this same effect, put a meerkat in a shirt and tie, it’s Sergei, put it in a smoking jacket, Alexander, onesie, Baby Oleg, you get the picture. This allows your audience to play with your logo, to cling to it and use it as they see fit and whilst they think they’ve come up with something clever, cute and original, from a marketing standpoint, they’ve basically declared “I am a mindless consumer of your cut-and-paste crap”. Minions have leaked into memes, philosophical quotes, heck, Minion porn is a thing, look it up… NO! WAIT! SHIT! DON’T DO THAT! They’re just easy to use, easy to draw, easy to customise and appealing to the “I’m so quirky” type adults and the “I like to eat crayons” type children. A well designed brand is exactly that though, a simple symbol you can slap on anything and people know what it is – Marvel’s logo, McDonald’s logo, Nike’s logo – something small and easy to recognise so people see what its slapped onto and consume it with the ravenous hunger of a zombified dachshund.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked the Minions, I thought they were fun but they were fun in small doses, they’re comic relief, not central characters. Minions are a side order to the meal of a good film, you can have a bucket of mashed potato and call it a meal if you want but how many of you would really do that, especially when you know the place serves some decent steak or whatever you prefer this metaphorical menu to serve. There shouldn’t be a Minion craze as there is but here it is, an easy way to tramp stamp any fucking thing it touches. I just find it to be such a poisonous inescapable influence, I’d have to unfriend almost every friend on my social media accounts to escape their yellow smug faces tacked onto posts like “Every family has a crazy one. If you don’t know who, it’s you” or “I could be a Monday person if Monday didn’t start until 2PM!”, you know the types, the ones shared by the likes of Debbie or Laura, she says size matters because nobody likes small glasses of wine and she’s a right proper random bitch lol… Shudder. Maybe I’m a horrid miseryguts who doesn’t see the appeal of these jovial jellybeans any more for his shit-tinted shades he wears all day but to me, they outstayed their welcome and their quirks became annoying and I do not believe they ever deserved their own film (Which is a contrived mess of puerile gimmicks clearly meant only to entertain children, I understand it’s intended for children but making shit films and excusing them as being for kids is something so irritating to me, it’s a blog post in itself)

Okay, anger dispelled, can we just collectively ween ourselves off sticking Minions on every shareable picture on the internet and agree that if this trend won’t end, let it live on as another Despicable Me film, not Minions 2. Seriously, how cool would it be to see the girls grow up in Gru’s footsteps? Have a kiddie friendly Charlie’s Angels style romp with Gru’s kids and work some Minions into that somehow. I’d watch it.

DESPICABLE ME 3 – GRU’D AND EVIL. MAKE IT HAPPEN

My 2014

Trigger Warnings – Strong language throughout

Are you excited readers? The new year will dawn upon us soon, it’s time to make plans you’ll never stick to and get so shit-faced your first words of 2015 will be “Oh my fucking god, kill me”, your first morning will have you wake up to being upside down and almost blind with your arse out and your guts on the floor. I’ll be starting my new year entirely sober, bored and probably sat on my butt in front of a screen but I’m not complaining, tis how I almost always start the new year, the only new year I ever spent away from home I spent sat in front of my girlfriend of the time’s TV instead… both of us, I didn’t just turn up and lounge on her sofa like some sort of intrusive sloth. Anyway, as is the tradition, this is the time of year where we all look back at the last twelve months and judge how far we have come and how far we still need to go. Tonight, I’ll talk about how far I’ve come, tomorrow, how far I need to go, a post in two halves such as it were.

I started this year with nothing really, my social life was dead in the water because my pockets were empty and my mood was awful. I had a small circle of people I could kill some time with now and then but for the most part I was just going through the motions. I’m in a similar stance now but something about it then seemed even less worthwhile, maybe it was the lingering feeling I was there because I didn’t get up, as opposed to biding time to come at it again. Anyway, I eventually got my ass back on job seeker’s, I’d been out of pocket since losing my job as a bartender and needed the money to get by. Shortly after that, things started picking up and I was learning to market my skills a bit better, a few job trials but nothing really went my way for a long time. Socially though, I improved, I got myself into a cosy relationship that I was quite happy with.

I won’t divulge into details of the relationship but you’re all aware I’m single so you can tell it didn’t last. I could bitch and whine or make them out as a callous cretin but I’ll avoid it, in spite of everything I just don’t feel venomous or anger towards them, I just keep out of their way and they keep out of mine. I learnt a lot from the relationship though and they helped me understand so many things from different perspectives – gender identities, contemporary feminism, philosophy and even how to be a better writer. The relationship wasn’t one of the body but more one of the mind but I suppose putting two people like us in a room together for too long was either going to be phenomenal or disastrous and so it started as the former and ended as the latter. If you’re reading, hello, hope you’re well, I’d be surprised if you did follow my blog but then again maybe I wouldn’t be. I’m not sure what I’d say to you if we met in person, I’m sure you feel the same probably, undecided if you’d punch me or kiss me but I shan’t overstep the line either way, just know that I do still think about you at times and I’m thankful for everything I gained from what we had, I like to think I am a better man now than I was then, and I don’t mean that with arrogance or bravado but with the opposite, I have learnt the value of listening, of measured selflessness and that we are more than a collection of traits, we are all vast and wide as oceans and just as mysterious. Thank you for that.

Sentimentality aside, the break up was about May time I believe, the details are hazy but it was around that time I started working at Oxfam. I quickly proved myself as a capable worker and found myself being entrusted with greater responsibility as time went by, my manager telling me I was being considered for a managerial role myself. I enjoyed my time at Oxfam, I met some good people and I got to see some of my old friends more regularly in an environment that was engaging without it being “Let’s meet up and stare at televisions and eat stuff”, now we were working together, we came to understand each other a bit better. I finally mended a long since shaking bridge with a friend of mine who has become irreplaceable over the past few months and I got to see sides to my best friend I had not seen before, all of us becoming much closer and much stronger as a unit and as individuals. I have no regrets there, this year to me is defined by the bonds I forged, the friends I made and the old friends I grew to know much better than I once did, holding them through tears and having them cheer me on to make something myself. I became warmer inside, warmer than I had felt before, much warmer than I started the year, a bitter and grumpy man simply existing, now I was working hard, spending time out being active and giving something back to my community.

Autumn rolled in and I got the job. I like to think I did pretty well, with everything considered, and my colleagues came to realise that I was not the shadow of my manager, I was a leader in my own right, I could feel that level of respect from them and it was demanding, sure, every issue that cropped up had a face staring towards me for directions. As the job came to an end, the overall evaluation came as a disappointment, I had not lived up to what I expected of myself or the targets I had been set, management is a challenging line of work for a man who barely says more than twenty words a day. I had my confidence shaken, some had doubted my capability in my role and went about their problems with me in ways I didn’t feel satisfied with, namely going around me to my superiors but hey, that’s the world of work, not everyone has it in them to come up to someone and resolve problems in such a direct manner, even myself at times. I took a step back from Oxfam after that point, to rest, to try and enjoy the festive season with a fair sum of money to my name, which I used to get some essentials for the future and to thoroughly spoil those that I cared about, knowing I wouldn’t get the chance too often. I did it because, well, even though not one of them would say I owe them anything, I felt I did, I had started this year so bitter and cold but each of them gave me something, each of them made me laugh, supported me through tough times and I had grown to love them all in ways I never did before. Blah, mushy…

The year has brought joys and sorrows. Ok, so I had my heart trampled on again, my cynicism towards romance is at its absolute peak now but through careful discussions, I came to understand what I REALLY want in a relationship, not what I told myself I wanted, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that things will work out and I actually feel some hope there. I felt a sense of elation on my birthday though, that for me was brilliant, that so many would show up even without seeing me for so long, just to celebrate my birthday and all of them paired their contribution to the party cost and then some, it reminded me that for all my money worries and dead love life, I’ve got good friends, in that sense I am rich. Granted, this is all a bit doey-eyed but it’s New Year’s Eve, it’s what we do, followed by ridiculous promises tomorrow.

So where am I now? Well, back to being unemployed and single but I have a better sense of who I am, how I feel and I now have a blog I actually put effort into, friends who actually want to spend time with me (Like, few weeks ago, met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in years and my god, it was like we’d never been apart, it was just natural friendly banter all the time, we shared a lot about ourselves and we’re meeting up again soon) and I have more experience of work, a better attitude and the support and resources to do more than claim benefits and rummage around for job opportunities like some sort of beggar, now I’m a desirable employee… though a car would help. Plans for the new year! Woop!

Anyway, happy new year readers, hope 2014 was your year and if not, fuck it, here’s another one, maybe it won’t be shitty, maybe it will, let’s find out together shall we? Hit like and share on here and be sure to check me out at my Facebook page, it’s funny now and then and the comment sections are a hoot (Though if this ever takes off, beware ze trolls!)

http://www.facebook.com/oldmanwolfeofficial

All Together And All Alone

Trigger Warnings – Death.

At the very core of our fleeting existence upon this world, we are lonely creatures. We may well be born into a family, make friends and fall in love as is the way life often proceeds but in the face of death, one meets their maker alone, you can’t hold hands with your parents and ask them for moral support whilst you die, it simply is the way things are. With the threat of the end looming over us, it is in our best interests to lead rich full lives and enjoy laughter and love whilst it lasts and thus relationships are formed when you meet people like yourself that you want to spend that precious time with, be it playing video games, discussing literature or wrestling under the bed sheets laughing.

I am lonely, we all are, we are a race of social animals seeking our place in the grand chaos of the universe. We face this human struggle in different ways, we might be anxious, we might be arrogant and we may even be angry but there is not a human being that has not considered or will not consider their own end. The pursuit of purpose makes us yearn for wealth or the afterlife, the justification of this lonely struggle against the coming darkness, but as a man with no real desire for great wealth or a belief in the afterlife, I embrace the struggle all whilst accepting the fact that light and dark shall forever feud between themselves.

Do not take this as an attack upon religion but for me, I find the reward of a good deed is the deed, not the concept of heaven. Heaven or not, our lives as we know them now are nothing but the blink of an eye, we must cherish that moment and why use your time on this Earth being cruel or unkind, what does it ultimately achieve? We are all in this together on one planet, perhaps in the interest of being civil, we should look to a society of empathy, not envy.

Pick up litter, ask someone about their day even if you don’t really care, hold a door open, all these things are so trivial and insignificant yet they bring me an endless sense of wellbeing. If there is a higher power, they will notice and they will reward you but if not at least you lived a life of positivity and you can rest in peace knowing you did what you could, in your own little way, to make that struggle of life better for someone else. If we all did that, that would be beautiful wouldn’t it? An endless cycle of little joys selflessly given away from one human being to another so that we can feel a little bit better about the reality of our situation as temporary beings. I’ve made these points before in many ways in many articles and there is more to be said but perhaps with time I will come to see someone take this to heart

Call this tripe or rubbish, maybe even beatnik lunacy, but for me, it gets me by, what makes life better for me is making life better for someone else just because I can and I care. I won’t pretend to know the hearts of everyone around me but I cannot be the only one carrying doubts, fears and unspoken wishes with me, if my kindness can lighten that burden for someone, why not? Perhaps someone will do the same for me, perhaps not, I will find the road to happiness either way.

Thank you.

The Protagonist Takes The Stage

Trigger Warnings – Body image, challenging philosophies meaning this article is not for those unwilling to consider new ideas

The other day, I put up a status on my personal Facebook account about Cat from Red Dwarf and his reasoning as to why the world revolves around him. The Cat had the following in his defence

“Take food, until I bite it, it has no taste. Even when I know what I’m going to say, I don’t bore myself saying it and then here’s the clincher, everything interesting that ever happened to me happened when I was in the room”

Whilst this might seem like an amusing and possibly convincing argument, I’d like to discuss the philosophy of the Protagonist Effect, the idea that your life is about yourself and the world might not necessarily revolve around you but what matters most to you is your own personal world, your challenges, your achievements and such like. I suppose in an age of cinema and story-telling we naturally come to associate ourselves with a central role in the story of our lives, nobody thinks themselves the background character, but whilst you might think of your life, you can easily overlook the lives of others much in the same way you watched Iron Man to watch a film about Tony Stark and his metal suit, not the story of that one journalist who tried to interview him. You don’t know that journalist’s name, whether or not he has kids, siblings, hopes, dreams, regrets – he was just a part of the scenery, an accessory to the Stark story and this occurs in our own lives, passersby become background characters and not people until they do something to directly effect us or attract our attention (And even then they become “Crazy shouty man” or “Twat playing music too loud” instead of “Dave the man who recently got divorced” or “Jeff who is really happy to have passed his driving test”)

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should devote yourself to greeting every single passerby on the street and hugging them and learning three fun facts about them, that’s just creepy and as an introvert and non-creepster, I do not advocate such eccentric social behaviour, all I’m saying is you’re not the star of the show, you’re just another human being and whilst you might be important to you, to the shop clerk you’re a customer, to the policeman you’re a speeding driver and to the postman you’re the bloke who lives at number 43. The Truman Show is just a movie, it’s not your life, you will certainly never discover it was a lie and you’re actually just a lab rat. So, now that I’ve stuck a knife in your ego, allow me to give you some insight

Firstly, being the main character is hard work, you can’t do everything. Sure, Bruce Willis saved an entire skyscraper full of people by himself but one action hero equates to one SWAT team in the real world, one superhero is one small army and so on and so on. In your own life, you won’t fix everything, you won’t wipe away every tear or mend every broken heart, you’ll make mistakes and you’ll have other priorities. You cannot see the problems of others solely as more work for you or you’ll work yourself to death, instead you are a part of the solution but not the only solution there is. I mean, imagine trying to do everything for everyone – here’s a hint, I tried, I still do sometimes, it makes you constantly tired and resentful of others for having these problems. If you are Superman, everyone is Lois Lane to you and that’s not always the case, you’re all a bunch of umm… other heroes. The key here is to go with the flow, accepting your limitations and just moving on with your life. Sure, help others, help them all you can but don’t beat yourself up if you have to say enough is enough and you’ll feel much better and help more people.

On that same token, you know what the inherent issue with being the ‘hero’ is? If you see yourself that way, you see yourself as infallible or the ceaseless survivor, things will just work out for you because they always do so you know, whatever. Reality hits home, however, when you realise things don’t just work out, there has to be some effort somewhere for anything to happen. After all, planes don’t just land and food doesn’t cook itself but hey you turn up at an airport and don’t go hungry so it’s cool right? No, everything around you is the effort of someone you may never meet, even the floor beneath the feet or the screen before your eyes. You have to realise everything takes hard work and nothing is ever truly infallible (For further reference, might I suggest you research the Titanic?). So, where does that leave you? On the same page as everyone else except you know you can be wrong so don’t worry about it, learn something from it, let people correct you once in a while and accept the fact you won’t win every argument or competition in life, just as long as you keep trying your best in all that you do, nobody can demand more out of you

The world is always going to disagree or complain or argue, I think we know that, true freedom for all is impossible because someone’s idea of freedom might be “I want to live in a world without wind farms ruining MY view out of the window” whereas you might counter “Well I want a world that relies on less harmful energy sources so wind energy it is!”. The government struggles with this all the time, conflicting interests and opinions and every single important decision ever in history has people saying it’s a stroke of genius and people calling it utter wank. The right for women to vote? Great for women, not good for misogynists. Adding a bus lane to a stretch of road? Great for those relying on public transport, not good for car users. Making a sequel to Alvin and the Chipmunks? Ok… that wasn’t great for anyone. Hopefully I make my point though, there will always be arguments and disagreements and you can’t be focused solely on your desires or your point of view, people won’t always agree and have their own opinions. I know I don’t always bear this point in mind myself but it’s not worth any less if I say it to you now, maybe it’ll stick with you

And finally, if you’re the protagonist, everything relates to you or everything about you is important. Ever decided against wearing something because you’re worried what people might think? Don’t, wear it, how much do you care about what other people wear – if the answer is you don’t really care, then people don’t really care what you’re wearing provided you’re not arriving to work in a latex fetish suit or attending a funeral in a bikini, you’re fine. You think everyone will judge you for your weight, your dress sense, your smell, your decisions but everyone is as insecure as you and if someone really is judging you, that’s them, not the world. Truth be told, whilst you’re panicking about having really obvious pit stains, the guy walking opposite you might be panicking that he can’t pay the rent or ask out Sarah even though she clearly likes him. Furthermore, you’re not special ok? Not in the grand scheme of things. You shouldn’t get any special rights to play your music louder or drive faster or take an extra piece of cake no matter what your excuse because you’d be pissed if people did those things to you. You don’t have to relate the entire world to you, it’s exhausting, selfish and narrow-minded because the world is vast and full of a billion stories, don’t spend all day reading your own

I hope I haven’t offended you all and I don’t want to infringe on your self-worth, just to wake you from the dream. Remember the little things, your mother, your brother, your milkman and your neighbour are all people with dreams and desires and every single person you bump into has thoughts in their head, it won’t necessarily be about your shirt. You’re just some guy or some girl or whatever, you don’t have to worry what people think of you, things don’t work like that. I mean if nothing else this blog post might convince you to wear that fandom crossover shirt because fuck it, your shirt, what the hey? Just don’t worry about the world means to you, worry about embracing the world and being a part of it, not the centre of it

Fan Rant – I Must Inquire About The Inquisitor

Hello everyone, Jacob Wolfe reporting in once again and today it’s a silly rant about an old comedy called Red Dwarf. For those of you who don’t know what Red Dwarf is, watch it, seriously. The premise is simple – Dave Lister is a Brummy washout who joins an expedition to space but is then put into stasis for smuggling an non-quarantined cat on board. Whilst Lister is frozen there is a radiation leak on the ship that kills the crew, except Dave and this cat. Three million years later, the only crew aboard the space vessel Red Dwarf are Dave Lister, a creature evolved from his cat over generations of inbreeding and radiation, a hologramatic reincarnation of Lister’s bunk mate called Rimmer and a neurotic android the crew find in the wreckage of another ship called Kryten. The show is a low-budget sci-fi comedy that combines wit, sarcasm and hyperbole into something loveably tacky but entirely unique and I heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a laugh.

Red Dwarf is undoubtedly one of my favourite things to watch ever, it is hilarious and brilliant but like anything that I watch, I have to pause at points and think about some of the fundamental flaws in the logic of these programmes. Episode 26 is an episode about an interdimensional robotic rogue called The Inquisitor, a machine gone mad that travels time and space judging people on the worth of their existence and if he comes to the conclusion they are a worthless drain on their species, he erases them from history and replaces them with someone who never had a chance at life, a sperm that didn’t make it. Apart from failing at his job by allowing individuals like Shia Labeouf and Justin Bieber to continue existing, or people like Hitler and Caligula to have existed in the first place, I find fault in his method of judging people – he has them stand trial before their doppelganger and gives them roughly two or three minutes to justify their existence by listing their moments of selflessness, achievement or bravery and how closely they have adhered to a “Seize the day” policy and how they have utilised their potential. A sound idea in theory but terrible in practice, as I shall now explain.

Of the characters in the show, erased from history by The Inquisitor are Dave Lister and Kryten. Dave Lister, faced with his clone, fails to convince himself that his fate as a wandering tramp of the cosmos is the result of bad luck because he knows deep down his short-comings aren’t from a lack of opportunity or aptitude, but the unwillingness to commit to anything. Kryten, though selfless, is erased because a machine cannot be selfless because it is programmed to do so and thus it does not act on good motive but binary command. Rimmer and Cat are spared, by themselves. Rimmer gives his clone a sob story about how he was tormented as a child and had no opportunity to ever break free of a life of abuse and his clone agrees, also feeling that same abuse and neglect within himself. Cat, the physical embodiment of vanity, justifies his existence by his appearance and his clone is smitten and agrees to spare him, because if you love yourself to bits then you can’t erase yourself. In this small case study, a machine that set itself the task of weeding out the scum of the universe wiped an intelligent young man with untapped potential from the universe along with a robot on the path to sentience and left behind a gutless coward and a moron who believes his purpose in life is to be attractive. As you can see, The Inquisitor has already failed twice to choose the right people to survive because his idea of a fair trial is if you personally believe you are worthwhile then you are allowed to stay.

Let’s expand on this further shall we? You only have to convince yourself that you live a worthwhile life that is making the most of what is available to you. If you are unaware of greater potential hidden with you and believe the best you can achieve in life is sleeping in shop doorways, you stay, but if you are working a job at a checkout when you know you’re secretly a master musician reluctant to compose your own hit, you die. Therefore, if you believe the only reason you haven’t gone on to greatness is your own mistake, you erase yourself from the universe because that clone of you will know that whatever you say, deep down you only failed because you didn’t try hard enough or at all. The system is easily exploited then, by people like Cat and Rimmer. Cat, who believes the mere visage of his cuban-heeled figure is a just cause to keep him alive, escaped judgement because he is so vain and arrogant, he sees nothing beyond himself. Cat is not the only individual alive like this, there are lots of people who think they are God’s gift and the moment you sincerely believe that, you justify your own existence no matter what you do, be it treating those with leprosy or happy-slapping nuns with bricks. Rimmer on the other hand, blames everything that went wrong in his life on someone else – his parents, his brothers, his school, his superior officers – anyone bar himself. Though Rimmer does conceal a lot of self-loathing, he firmly believes that the only reason he’s in a dead-end job with no promotion prospects is because everyone is out to get him. So once again, The Inquisitor fails, because if you can tell yourself that you’re only stuck in the place you’re in because of other people, you get off scot free. Hitler did that you know? He blamed his failure to get into Art college on the Jewish teachers, saying that those damned Jews had infiltrated society and turned it against him. By the standards of The Inquisitor, someone smart enough to know they’re procrastinating deserves to die but Hitler gets to live? So who does The Inquisitor actually erase from history, anyone deserving? Hardly.

If you’re stood trial before yourself, your judge knows everything. Every lie you tell yourself but don’t really believe is torn apart and you stand before your own naked fury with little to defend yourself except what contribution you can remember making to the world around you. The Inquisitor would be the scourge of the Internet culture because he would turn up before Tumblr nuts left, right and centre and they’d tell themselves “You know full well you could use this time to actually revise for your exams but instead you’re writing a novella about Sherlock bumming Molly and John! You know you waste your time tweeting about movies and how often you buy coffee, you know you’re a worthless drain on your family and so we can’t be allowed to exist”. Poof. Overnight a lot of fanboys and girls would vanish, unless they’d done some sizeable charity work between conventions. Should you be intelligent enough to know you’re capable of better than you are doing, you terminate your own existence unless you have a lifetime of good deeds previously to defend yourself with. However, if you’re particularly at odds with yourself, say fighting inner demons, then you still risk deleting yourself. I know I have days where I wake up, look in a mirror and ask “What the fuck are you even for? I’d forgive you if you were rich, or famous, or stupid, but you’re not – so what are you doing?”. The Inquisitor’s wrath is limited to eradicating those who are aware of their shortcomings and judge themselves harshly for it, whilst leaving behind those who are not aware of their abilities or sincerely believe they are doing the best they can. A great artist struggling with an overwhelming sense of apathy can be removed from existence in favour of a burger flipper, regardless of the fact the burger flipper is unaware of any potential hidden inside himself. The Inquisitor can only destroy those who cannot convince themselves they are the best they can be given their circumstances.

My argument is probably not perfect and likely has holes that you can poke at but I encourage the discussion because I feel Red Dwarf has opened a can of worms for people to watch wiggle everywhere but that has largely gone unnoticed. I look forward to hearing from you, whether you think you’d survive the Inquisitor’s trial or not. Personally, I’m not sure – I pride myself on being a good honest person who has given his all for those who sought his aid, but I also know that had I made some ruthless decisions and pushed through my inner demons at an earlier stage, I could have had books on the shelves of every household years ago. So what do you think? Thank you for reading and I may well use Red Dwarf again in the near future for more rants on philosophy!