Friday, 26 August 2011

Top 10 Favourite Fictional Couples

To counteract the more serious and analytical entries, here is some pure, unadulterated fangirl squee. Presenting my Top Ten Favourite Fictional Couples!

10. Spike and Drusilla, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Two words: aww yeah. When it comes to sexy vampire couples, you can't go past Spike and Dru. They were hot, they were twisted, they were more than a little crazy. And they had some really great dialogue, too.

9. Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus, from Sailor Moon.

Yes, I love Sailor Moon. Yes, I'm twenty two. Your point?

These two are great because how often do you find an openly lesbian couple on a kid's show? I wish there were more couples like them. And I had a crush on both of them when I was thirteen because let's face it, they're hot stuff. And you know it.

And Tuxedo Mask/Sailor Pluto. IT COULD TOTALLY HAPPEN.

8. Ryan O'Reily and Dr Gloria Nathan, from Oz.

I hesitated at including this couple because the truth is, they scare the hell out of me. It's not that I want them to get together either. They're just... oddly compelling. If super dark and twisted relationships are your thing, these two take the cake. I think they even beat the most popular Oz couple, Chris Keller and Tobias Beecher, in terms of sheer fucked-up-ness. I can't be bothered going back and counting, but I think the body count that resulted from both relationships was pretty even.

Ryan and Gloria. It's like a trainwreck, you can't look away. You probably should.

7. Angel and Spike, from Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Okay, I was going to only include couples that actually got together in the timeline of their respective canons, but since Joss Whedon pretty much confirmed Angel and Spike as a couple, I'm going to include them.

Yes, the leather-coated ensouled vampire duo themselves. I mean come on, they've known each other for over a hundred years and spent a good part of that hundred years raising havok across Europe. You honestly think they never went there? Please.

6. Willow and Oz, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I wish I had a boyfriend like Oz when I was seventeen. As much as Willow/Tara will always be my favourite Buffy couple, I will always have a soft spot for Willow and Oz. I mean, how adorable are they? You can't not love them!

Plus Oz is probably responsible for the fact that I have a bit of a thing for werewolves (I really, really don't want to psychoanalyse that... ever). Leading me on to the next couple:

5. Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin, from Harry Potter.

I know, I know, it was handled dreadfully in the books, but that's what fanfiction's for, right?

There was no way I could resist this couple. It had all my fandom kinks: angst, adversity, werewolves and age gaps. Seems I also have a thing for couples where the guy is a lot older than the (legally of age) girl, but the girl can totally kick his arse if she wants. Which we know Tonks totally can. Again, not psychoanalysing that with a ten foot pole.

Lupin and Tonks were awesome, and then, well, this happened:

Yeah, that really sucked.

4. Amy and Rory Pond, from Doctor Who.

Everybody say naaaaaaaaaw.

I can't get enough of these two. Rory spent two thousand years waiting for Amy. Two thousand years. It... just... brings a tear to my eye... *melts into a puddle of happy goo*

3. Willow and Tara, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

If I thought the end of Willow and Oz's relationship was rough, it was nothing compared to what Joss Whedon put these two through. It shattered me. And I will never forgive Joss Whedon for it.

Season 5 and beginning of Season 6 they were all happy and shiny and then Willow became addicted to magic and they broke up, and then they got back together and Warren shot Tara and it was horrible. Fuck you Joss.

2. Rogue and Gambit, from X-Men.

Be still, my sixteen year old heart.

Epic romances aren't normally my thing, but these two pull on my heartstrings like no other. I think it's the whole 'forbidden fruit' aspect that makes it so appealling- they can't touch each other, but they're still madly in love and it threatens to destroy them both on various occasions. And in the rare moments when they can touch for whatever reason, the pay off is most excellent. They had sex in a cave while they were captured and Gambit had his arms chained to the wall. Tell me that's not hot.

And my number one favourite couple is:

1. Wash and Zoe, from Firefly.

Now and forever, amen.

Firefly is my happy, shiny place, and Wash and Zoe are at the heart of that happy, shiny place. They have their ongoing issues and they fight, but they work through them because they both realise that their love for each other is more important than the fights they have. It's not an epic romance. It's not all flowers and rainbows. But they're genuinely happy together, and I think it's one of the most realistic happy marriages I've seen on screen.

Plus they're a married couple who are shown to have an active sex life. Heaven forbid!

I know Joss Whedon ruined it all with Serenity, but I remain firmly in denial. DAMN YOU JOSS, STOP RUINING MY HAPPY, SHINY PLACES.

Phew, that took longer than I thought! But it was fun. I'm thinking of doing a Top 10 Favourite Female Characters list at some point.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Strong Female Characters, Women In Fridges and MANPAIN: Some Disordered Thoughts

Ah, the elusive Strong Female Character. How we crave her. How we condemn her.

Ideally, I long for the day where a tv show/movie/book won't be considered an exciting abnormality for having Strong Female Characters. I long for the day where the phrase Strong Female Characters will be obsolete, and there are either good characters or bad characters, regardless of said characters' gender.

But this is not the world we live in. We live in a world where we cling Strong Female Characters with grateful fangirl hands because they're so goddamn rare.

Contrary to what many Hollywood execs seem to believe, there is no checklist for what consititutes a Strong Female Character. Leather pants and a big gun do not a Strong Female Character make.

Of course, there are many butt-kicking female characters who are Strong Female Characters, but giving a girl a machine gun and sticking her on a motorbike does not automatically make them a Strong Female Character (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, FRANK MILLER). I like a butt-kicking woman as much as anyone, but it does create the trope that in order to be considered a strong woman (or a Strong Female Character), you have to reject everything that is traditionally associated with being female- become 'one of the guys' in a sense. While hopefully still wearing leather.

And that doesn't help at all. It still reinforces the idea that women are weak, this woman is just an exception because she's 'one of the guys.' Unfortunately this fictional trope is a reflection of what happens in society: in order to succeed, a woman not only has to be seen as 'one of the guys,' she also has to be tougher and more 'guy-like' than all the men. This is particularly true in business or political situations; in order to be taken seriously, a woman has to essentially beat all the men at their own game, on their terms. Case in point, Margaret Thatcher. And if you don't want to take on the boys club's terms and would rather succeed on your own, have fun trying to crack that glass ceiling.

Personally, I would like some Strong Female Characters who don't carry machine guns. Who are top CEOs. Who are insecure teenage girls. Who are mothers. Who are enthusiastic bakers. Who are sci-fi nerds. Who are trying to break into the job market. Who drive forklifts.

In short, variety.

Strong Female Characters are, however, still at risk of falling into that old standby: Women In Fridges.

The term 'Women In Refrigerators' was first coined by comic book author Gail Simone on her website of the same name. It refers to how female characters, in this case in comic books, are frequently murdered/beaten/raped/maimed/crippled/tortured/sent to parallel dimensions/brainwashed etc for the sole purpose of invoking an emotional response in a male character. The superhero genre is particularly guilty of this (the phrase refers to a particular scene in a superhero comic where a male character comes home to find a female superhero butchered in his fridge), as is the entire science fiction and fantasy genre.

Gail Simone also made an interesting point that much like business CEOs, the superhero fanbase is a massive boys' club and as a female fan you either go along with it or find the comic book store a rather uncomfortable place. Dare to mention the words 'feminism' or 'female empowerment' or even mention that drawing female characters in leather bikinis all the time is kind of sexist, and you will either get a lot of online flames or at best some blank looks before said boys' club keeps salivating over Catwoman's boobs.

So it's no surprise that Women In Fridges continues to be a popular trope.

One of the new Doctor Who series finales is a good example of a Woman In A Fridge: Rose is trapped in an alternate dimension so that the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant in fine brooding form) can angst about it for the next two plus seasons.

Because what goes hand in hand with Women In Fridges? MANPAIN. Which is basically straight white male characters whining about how hard it is to be straight, white and male in today's society and making everything in the world ever all about their ANGST. Because they have ISSUES. Some examples: Tenth Doctor, Batman, Det. Stabler from Law and Order SVU (good god, does he have manpain), Angel, Mal Reynolds, the entire Supernatural franchise. The key element being No One Has Ever Suffered As Much As Me. And the death/torture/other horrible things happening to female characters are written just so they can contribute to the litany of Manpain, ie:

Detective Eliot Stabler: My wife left me and my job is on the line because I can't contain my rage and I'M GOING TO HIT SOMETHING NOW BECAUSE I'M SO DEPRESSED AND NEVER LEARNT A HEALTHY WAY TO EXPRESS MY FEELINGS.

Detective Olivia Benson: Well, my father raped my mother and then she became an abusive alcoholic and I'm traumatised from being assaulted and I'm lonely because my partner and best friend who is my only source of emotional support is an ass who can't see beyond his-


And that, dear readers, is Manpain in practice. Clumsy, ham handed and often rather misogynistic.

Depictions of male characters in emotional pain aren't always Manpain, of course. It descends to Manpain level when said male character's pain is the biggest pain in the room, even if the pain is because his girlfriend/wife/sister/daughter was tortured and therefore the pain that gets the biggest focus should be hers. This combines Women In Fridges with Manpain to create a gigantic sexist trope that is sadly very prevalent in popular culture.

Women In Fridges (and the corresponding MANPAIN) is sexist because it reduces women's importance to how they are valued by men. Their pain is merely a plot device. The audience isn't supposed to feel sad because Jean Grey went crazy and died, we're supposed to feel sad because Wolverine is depressed now, poor baby. Jean Grey becomes That Chick Who Wolverine Angsts About. And I say this as someone who doesn't even like Jean Grey. Manpain is all about how the camera focuses on a male character's pain when there's is hardly the most important pain going on in the room.

I read a blog post by someone who I sadly know only as Thingswithwings who summed up my feelings on Women In Fridges and Manpain in a far better way than I can: "the show runners think that, if we don't establish that a female character is important to men, is in a romantic relationship and kissing a dude, we won't care that she's died."

I've had enough of female characters being reduced to plot devices with boobs. Give me female characters who have agency. Female characters whose feelings are taken seriously for once. Female characters who have their own plot arcs that are separate from their relationships to men. And, like magic, you will have a Strong Female Character.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Twilight Discussion: The Bechdel Test and Gender Stereotypes

There's a thing that's talked about in internet feminism called the Bechdel Test. The way to pass the test is simple: two named female characters talk about something that is not a man.

Now a surprisingly huge number of films fail this test, and that's why the test itself is so often cited. But personally I'm uncomfortable with using the Bechdel Test as some be all and end all measurement of how successful a film is in its portrayal of women, since by its own rules Sin CityShowgirls and Suckerpunch actually pass with flying colours and those films are rife with exploitation.

Okay, small shameful confession time: I actually like Sin City. It's not one my favourite movies by any stretch of the imagination, but from a purely artistic and visual point of view I really like it. It's quite beautiful to look at. But it fails on pretty much every other level (including basic storytelling) and I'm not one of those people who can cry "Oh, but it's art! That makes it okay!" when something is blatantly misogynistic/racist/homophobic etc. So Sin City still fails. Sorry.

Twilight fails the Bechdel Test repeatedly, and while I said that I think the Bechdel Test is has a lot of flaws and is cited as evidence way too often, I think it is significant in this case when examining the novel's portrayal of gender as a whole, and the female gender in particular.

Kathryn Elizabeth made a really interesting point in a comment to my last entry about how stereotypical the female characters are. Most of the time when female characters are this flat you can attribute it to the fact that it's a male writer and/or written for a male audience. But Stephenie Meyer is most certainly female and writing for a female audience, so why does she feel the need to write such a stereotypical character as Bella Swan?

It could be a simple case of bad writing, but I'm not too sure. After all, Twilight is an astronomical bestseller. It must be appealling to some need, emotion or desire within its audience on a very deep level to have gained such enormous popularity. Now, I'm inclined to believe that Stephenie Meyer is one smart cookie. Sure, she can't write worth a damn, but that's never really been a requirement in a bestseller (case in point, The Da Vinci Code). She can't write a good novel. Can she write a good bestseller? Absolutely.

Personally I find Twilight's blatant pandering to gender stereotypes and corresponding views on traditional gender roles to be as condescending as it is insulting. But I'm clearly not in the majority, and it's not like Twilight is an exception. The average pulp romance novel followed more or less the same plot as Twilight for the past fifty plus years. The difference with Twilight was that Meyer tapped into a popular trend- vampires- and got a pretty cover with an apple on it rather Fabio. Also, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had been over just long enough for her target audience not to have grown up watching it, but for vampires to still be a big influence in pop culture.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was and remains the intelligent show for teenagers. It took traditional female stereotypes- the airhead blonde, the awkward nerd, the sexy mean girl- and subverted them. It wasn't perfect, far from it, but Buffy did go a long way in portraying female characters who weren't just shallow cardboard cutouts of their individual stereotypes.

Twilight doesn't do that.

Bella is the typical 'damsel in distress' girl. Throughout the book she has almost no agency. Things happen to her, she doesn't make them happen or play any active role in making things happen. There are times when she has to consider making decisions- whether or not to go near Edward after she discovers he's a vampire is one- but even then the decisions end up being made for her by, you guessed it, Edward. She doesn't have an oppotunity to make mistakes because she doesn't have an oppotunity to do anything. The only decision she's made so far was to move to Forks, and even that was because of somebody else's actions.

The characterisation of Edward really deserves an entry all on its own, but I'll give it a go here. To be fair to Stephenie Meyer, her male characters are as stereotypical as her female ones, which raises more questions. Why is Edward so appealling given that he's basically a blood sucking Heathcliff?

Bella is written to stereotype. But what is also telling is that Edward has a stereotypical view of Bella. From his initial meeting he sees Bella as a self-sacrificing, sainted and oh so helpless little girl who needs to be protected. He falls for a concept, not a person. He doesn't consider her own thoughts and feelings, nor does he seem to care. He never considers that Bella has a choice in what happens in her own life. When Edward decides to stop wrestling with his libido vampiric thirst for blood and talk to Bella, he never considers that she might not want to talk to him. It's not "Do you want to hang out with me," its "You're hanging out with me now."

Edward makes a ton of assumptions about Bella in their very first meeting. Since they're complimentary assumptions (what person doesn't want to be thought of as self-sacrificing when they're actually being self-centred?), Bella is flattered by them and doesn't think to contradict. Which is another key issue- Edward has a gendered view of Bella and Bella doesn't think to contradict him.

Edward and Bella are not real (duh). They are characters who are clearly constructed as people to aspire to. Given the construction of gender in this novel, what message does this send?

That men not only can have stereotypical views of women, but can expect women to behave according to those stereotypes because the stereotypes are true. And women should not only be flattered by this, but should behave accordingly, since this is what men like, and being liked by men is the most important thing for women. This is why the Bechdel Test and the fact that Twilight fails it is significant: women in Twilight are only seen in terms of how they relate to men.

So why the appeal? Twilight reinforces traditional gender roles, so is this what is the most appealling thing to its female readership? I think it's part of it.

I believe that a quintessential part of growing up is making your own decisions and dealing with the consequences of those decisions. And it's hard. It's scary. And I'm sure we all have times where we wish someone else would take care of the decision making for us. It's escapism- a world where someone else makes the big decisions and the central character, which is the audience focus and the character we're supposed to relate to, doesn't have to accept any responsibility what so ever.

I'm sure we all want that sometimes. But you can't live your life that way, and the fact that Twilight panders to this highly unrealistic desire is condescending, insulting and very damaging.

Take Buffy the Vampire Slayer as an example again. I always thought that one of the central messages of Buffy (other than 'high school sucks') was that actions have consequences. Characters made mistakes, those mistakes had consequences, they dealt with, learnt from and overcame those consequences, or they didn't and the consequences grew worse. Buffy made a mistake in not telling her friends that Angel was back in Season 3, she was called out on it, she learnt from it. Willow made a mistake in using too much magic in Season 6, the consequence was that Tara broke up with her, Willow refused to deal with her mistake and thus the consequences grew worse.

Bella doesn't get an oppotunity to make mistakes and learn from them because she doesn't get an oppotunity to do anything at all.

So why, Stephenie Meyer? Is it in fact a subtle commentary on the role of women in society? A dark parody of gender stereotypes? A study of an abusive relationship from the point of view of the victim?

Or just misogynistic bullshit?

I would really like to know your thoughts on this, dear readers, and I invite you to do so in the comments.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Twilight Chapters 6-8: Now With More Foreshadowing!

And now, the plot finally kicks in! We're only six chapters in, Stephenie Meyer must be economical.

In today's review, Bella 'Slow On The Uptake' Swan finally learns that Edward is (SPOILERS!) a vampire. Wow, never saw that one coming!

I'll take this oppotunity to point out one of my main gripes with the book, in case you haven't guessed it already.

It's boring.

There's a whole of lot of stupid, sure, but it's boring stupid. It's not like, say, the Anita Blake series by Laurel K Hamilton, which are at least so bad and high camp that it's entertaining to read them purely for the lulz. Twilight is about on the same level of badness as Anita Blake, but dull. Really dull. I've said previously that it takes a lot for me to declare a book boring, and it's true. So here I am, declaring Twilight boring. Ta da!

Bella learns that Edward is a vampire, but don't worry, we have a whole lot of filler to get through first, so enjoy the stupid.

Chapter 6: Scary Stories

As the title suggests, this is the Exposition Chapter, and therefore not really worth dwelling on unless you're, you know, actually interested in the plot or something. Which I assume no one reading this is, and if you are, I'm not giving you spoiler warnings.

Bella's in Trig class (not Biology for once!). This is completely irrelevant to the review, I just have an America Question to ask: do you really have seperate classes for different branches of mathematics? As in, Trig class, Calculus class etc? Ouch. I thought one Maths class was bad enough. No seriously, I'd appreciate it if an American can weigh in here because it's something that occurs a lot in American fiction.

But onwards!

I'm going to make a separate entry about the Bechdel Test, because while I think the test is hugely flawed, it's significant how so far Twilight has failed it dramatically. The way a novel/film/tv show passes the Bechdel Test is if two named female characters have a discussion about something that is not a man. And Twilight fails. Repeatedly. This chapter is no exception.

Case in point, Jessica, who seems to worship Bella despite Bella being nasty at every turn, asks Bella about Edward and stresses about Mike and that's pretty much the only thing she does before being forgotten about. I'm seeing a pattern here.

Anyway, this chapter is significant for the introduction of Jacob Black, who is (spoiler) a werewolf and supposed to provide the romantic tension of "Ooooo, who will Bella choose?" Except it's completely pointless because it's obvious from the get go that she's always going to be with Edward. I'm sorry, Team Jacob, but did you ever really think he stood a chance of getting the girl? Really?

Jacob makes his entrance (with at least half a page of physical description, of course).

However, my positive opinion of his looks was damaged by the first words out of his mouth.

"You're Isabella Swan, aren't you?"

It was like the first day of school all over again.

"Bella," I sighed.

And we're off to a rousing start!

Why on earth does Bella hate being called by her full name so much? It's not like 'Isabella' is so darn horrible. I guess it could written that way to show how proud Bella is of being an individual, but instead it comes of petty and immature, much like the rest of Bella's thoughts do. It's also really repetitive. Yes, Stephenie Meyer, we know Bella hates being called by her full name and is clumsy. YOU DON'T HAVE TO KEEP TELLING US ALL THE TIME.

After that scintilating few lines of dialogue, Jacob settles into what is his true purpose in this book, at least: exposition. Which we will skip, because it's boring.

In summary, Jacob tells Bella about the 'cold ones' who are enemies of werewolves (FORESHADOWING) and there's a group of them who claim to be civilised and they went away for a long time and then they came back and they could be dangerous even though they promise not to attack humans and their leader is called Carlisle and OMG, could he be talking about the Cullens? Surely not!

*cue spooky FORESHADOWING music*

So after that Jacob asks if Bella has a boyfriend because he's subtle like that, and that's it.

But wait! The best is yet to come! Because now it's time for

Chapter 7: Nightmare

AKA When Bella Discovered The Existence of Vampires Through The Power of Google.

That's right, folks, vampires, whose existence has forever been hidden, are discovered by a sleep deprived teenage girl with an internet search engine. Not only that, on a site called Vampires A-Z.

Wow. Just... wow.

The Cullens do a pretty bad job of living below the radar already, so if Bella of all people can discover their true identity by Googling, it just baffles me that no one else did so before. Which leads me to think that what if Edward made a habit of seducing teenage girls by appealling to their curiosity and what if there were a long line of Bellas throughout history who found out who Edward was and came to a sticky end when he was tired of them- and that would be a very different book. Possibly written by Anne Rice.

Bella finds an entry on 'good' vampires (in Italian! FORESHADOWING):

Said to be on the side of goodness, and a mortal enemy of all evil vampires.


Okay, so I have trouble taking the word 'evil' seriously in a fictional context. It's cliche, it's black and white, it rarely leads to good storytelling and well developed characters. Of course it's in Twilight!

Through my irritation, I felt overwhelming embarrassment. It was all so stupid. I was sitting in my room, researching vampires. What was wrong with me?

The first moment of sensible self-reflection Bella's had so far. Unfortunately, it's also the last. She also wonders if this means she should stay away from Edward.

Bella, honey, if all the evidence tells you to stay away from a person for your own safety, you should probably stay away from that person.

Bella muses on the impossibilities and inhuman qualities for two pages or so, taking care to mention his unearthly beauty, and wonders if the Cullens are vampires. A lot. Like, for the rest of the rather long chapter.

But oh, dear readers. Dear readers! You have no idea the stupid that is yet to come.

Chapter 8: Port Angeles.


I loathe this chapter. Loathe it with the fire of ten blazing suns. Loathe it to the point that if I didn't have to read this book for my studies and therefore future career, I would have thrown the book across the room and given up. Coincidentally, this is about the point where I threw in the towel back when I tried to read Twilight at eighteen.

But for my thesis and for you, dear readers, I keep on. Please appreciate the sacrifices I make for you.

This chapter contains one of least favourite plot devices: attempted sexual assault. I'm sure you've all come across it before. Young Helpless Girl's honour is threatened by Moustache Twirling Villain(s) only to be rescued by Young Handsome Man.

I realise that personal history is probably causing me to project all over this, but I hate it when something as traumatic and violating as sexual assault or even attempted assault (because that it also traumatic) is used as a way of bringing two characters together. I don't have a problem with it if it's done in a sensitive way, acknowledging the fact that developing romantic feelings for a rescuer is a common effect of trauma and can therefore be very unhealthy if not handled correctly. Twilight... doesn't do this.

I'm going to skip straight to the scene in question because the beginning of the chapter is all about dresses and talking about the prom, so it's mostly filler.

The street was lined on both sides by blank, doorless, windowless walls... Lounging against the western building, midway down the street, were two other men from the group, both watching with excited smiles as I froze dead on the sidewalk. I realised that I wasn't being followed.

I was being herded.

I do have to give Stephenie Meyer credit for successfully creating a tense atmosphere in this section, although only to an extent. This scene plays pretty blatantly on the Rapist in the Dark Alley that is every woman's fear, hence the tension. The Rapist in the Dark Alley is something that women are told to fear so much that for many women, myself included, avoiding situations where the Rapist in the Dark Alley can get us is a subconscious part of our routine. All the while society tends to overlook the fact that most sexual assault victims were attacked by someone they already knew. But I'm getting off topic here.

Just as things start to look really bad for Bella; Edward, the Knight In Shining Volvo, arrives to save the day.

And this is where I get pissed off.

Bella has just been through a traumatic experience. Her personal safety was in serious danger. So of course Edward makes this all about him, because he's a creepy arsehole. Observe:

"Are you okay?" I asked, surprised at how hoarse my voice sounded.

"No," he said curtly, and his tone was livid.

"Bella?" he asked, his voice tight, controlled.


"Are you all right?" He didn't look at me, but the fury was plain on his face.

"Yes," I croaked softly.

"Distract me, please," he ordered.

Edward, she was nearly attacked by a bunch of thugs. Shouldn't you be doing the distracting? But no, that would mean you care about someone else's feelings.

I think it's a pretty big reflection of Edward's character that he can't put somebody else's feelings before his own. I'm not drawing this out of one scene either, it's demonstrated in his behaviour from the first moment he appears. It's also implied that he wouldn't care about any of these horrible things happening to anyone other than Bella, even though preventing them isn't any actual effort on his part. Charming.

Since his introduction, Edward has threatened Bella, intimidated her, mocked her, stalked her and dragged her to his car against her will. I'm disturbed that this is the romantic lead and even more disturbed that thousands of teenage girls are swooning over him.

Look out for my next review, because the stupid and the rage just get worse.