The glorious and triumphant return of now-19 year old Blogger, the revival of a once-grand and dare I say influential webspace that produced daily content, and the crippling anxiety of a young woman who no longer has any time or motivation to write, and feels like any ability she had acquired in the past through repetition and sheer will alone is now slowly slipping out of her grasp. Brief history of the Blog and Blogger can be found here.

Here be personal journal entries, observations, slices of life, questions and conclusions, as well as exploration of social and political topics seen through the lens of a Malaysian Muslim, feminist, lesbian, Marxist, and horse enthusiast.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How Television Ruined My Life

(Honestly, I'm in such a bad mood. Seventy thousand one hundred and seventeen things to do and seven thousand one hundred and sixteen things went wrong. Woke up on the wrong side of the bed, had a terrible lunch, my toilet is making me anxious, and something terribly wrong is going on with my iTunes, I don't even understand it, but seriously, what a crap day. It's such a crap day.)


This is the story of television.

And how it ruined my life.

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Before that, let's go to last night, when I went over to Hanna's house with a sleepover with Nisa there as well. While not entirely relevant to the story, it does have some points worth highlighting. I headed over there at about eight, with a pit stop at 7Eleven to get Pepsi for me (they didn't have Coke; what kind of 24 hour convenience store doesn't stock up on Coke?) and Nisa was like, get me something, and I asked her what she wanted and this is, clearly, explicitly and verbatim, what she said: anything. I got her something that both she and Hanna didn't take much of a fancy to (I don't really eat junk food in the middle of the night?) and then Nisa complained. She said, and I can quote it front and back, anything, that I was to get her anything, and yet when I got her something, the equivalent of her version of anything, she complained. That is really human of you, Nisa. Congratulations on being human. God knows we all need a pat on the back for that every once in a while. But this whole thing only really worked me up this morning, so we're skipping a bit ahead of ourselves, aren't we?

It started off weirdly, the sleepover, mostly because we slept in Hanna's parent's room, which in itself is pretty weird, I figured. Nisa was hugging her elbows for some reason, and Hanna was still 'busy' being engrossed in pictures of her Zayn, I guess. I also guess that's how you spell his name. Yeah, that's it. (Fun fact: when I Googled his name, the most popular search keywords other than zayn malik was zayn malik muslim.) I don't know, I guess we talked and Nisa put on some James Franco interviews while I worked on the cover art for Afreena's welcome home mix CD. I like what I made for her, really, mostly because I did it in two hours, not counting the extra time it took to make the cover at Hanna's, of course. After that, we watched a little bit of Howl, and the animation was cool and all, and watching Nisa's face when the scene turned explicitly gay was also hilarious, but for all of that, we were all still very much bored out of our minds. I'd like to try watching it again, maybe. Alone.

And I guess that's when we decided to bake. Well, we put on The Breakfast Club, which is such a good movie and all, but Hanna wasn't getting into it and Nisa was all awkwardly trying to find something else to do (like bake) so it ended pretty soon after the detention started, like before they even got to much of anything. Not saying that I don't enjoy doing stuff with my these people (which is, for the most part, true, because I like being alone), but I really cannot for the life of me watch a serious movie with them. It's sad. I'll get to this a little later on in the story (and, yes, while I said this was going to be a story about television, I was pretty serious and I was also somewhat serious about this being a part of the story).

We scoured the Internet for recipes. If I were to tell you the Google search horror stories we had then that would take up the entire post and I don't really much care for it anyways so we finally decided on a simple enough looking pancake mix, but we had no golden syrup so we decided to just make it without and hope for the best. Hoping, for all that they say it's essential in life and survival and some other things that they say about being an optimistic person, doesn't really pay off that much because it tasted of nothing. The pancakes, they tasted of nothing. We even put in a little vanilla. We also put in coloring, but that's really not all that relevant. Rest assured that we came away from that whole experience with stained fingers. I think while Hanna's hand is terrible (the mixture of blue and yellow dye makes it seem dead and zombified), the red coloring on the inside of my very long fingernail is really a huge, huge travesty. We took pictures of the batter in the bowls because the colors were pretty. We also laughed a lot, until Hanna said, "Thank God for friends," and Nisa muttered, "You made her mad you know," and I said, "Excuse me?" and Nisa said, "Nothing." So that was when I decided I needed to take a break.

And it was a good time for a break, too, because this is where the story starts to get a teeny tiny bit more relevant than all those words I just wrote up there. But first, we'll stop this story here and pick it up a little later on, because I've got something else to say.

+++

A few weeks ago, like, really a long time ago, I decided to watch Switched at Birth. I don't know why. I guess I heard good stuff about it on the Internets and Starworld was really pushing it (not as much as they were pushing New Girl, though. The new Friends? Seriously? Zooey Deschanel is... she can't possibly replace Friends. It's rock bottom, fifty feet o' crap, and then New Girl) (sorry, so sorry for digressing) so I thought, why not. It seems like a better thing to do with my time than, say, watching 90210 or Gossip Girl or God forbid. Well, that was I thought at the time, anyways, and yeah, on most levels, Switched at Birth really is better than 90210 and Gossip Girl and Glee.

Not, however, by much.

The pilot episode was so crazy. Like, I felt like all the characters (or the actors playing the characters and quite possibly the writers as well) were all high. It was only marginally better than the Vampire Diaries pilot. Picture it: Bay finds out that her blood type doesn't match up to her parents' at all and then something or another and then the hospital's telling them that there was a mix up and that the daughters were switched at birth and all that basic premise stuff, all laid down in the first ten minutes or so. I guess that, really, the whole point wasn't the big reveal. The show's already called Switched at Birth so really, no surprise off of that card trick. It just felt rushed, is all, but for all of its pacing problems, it really came together sometime towards the end, when I was literally screaming at them to MOVE IN TOGETHER. This is like a poor man's OC, with the extra guest house and all (Ryan lived in a pool house but I am taking liberties for the sake of liberties here). So it was fine.

And then I got to know Bay.

So pretty, right? Right. Well, anyways, whoever wrote Bay has some issues with rich people or something. Because she is the most 2 dimensional character on the entire show. You have to hear how she talks, it sounds so... actress who doesn't know what she's doing playing the part of a rich girl who, by some weird twist of fate, was supposed to be born in a poor alcoholic family instead. She goes to regular poor men's restaurants and says how 'authentic' it is and then they laugh it off, like it's a joke and people are supposed to just make fun of her instead of giving her crazy side eyes and 'gurl, what are you saying' faces of incredulity. That's not even me getting started on how artsy fartsy they're making her out to be. That's not even me getting started on her family. I will judge you to hell if you say to like Toby as a character, even if you just find him hot. Yeah, Lucas Grabeel was a pleasant surprise and I like him, Lucas, I mean, really, because he's a High School Musical alum and, respect to the memories, you know? But Toby is a fucker, and Bay is right up his alley. And their parents are ridiculous.

I have to admit, I kind of ship Kathryn and Regina. And John and Emmett's mom. But that's just, you know. Me. And I don't hardcore ship adults anyways, so back to what I was complaining about.

It's like in their entire dynamic, the Kennish family and Regina and Daphne (and Santana's abuela), someone is always off their game, rendering all the other actors' performances flat, at best, and I can't even tell who this elusive actor is. It's just someone. Not necessarily the same person every scene but just... someone.

So to recap, I hate the Kennish family for being privileged, silver spoon fed assholes, and I hate Daphne for being so oblivious to Emmett (although that's actually the most forgivable offence out of everyone else's because love is dumb, blind and deaf as well, apparently), and I hate Regina for being such a weirdo secret-hoarder. At least tell them at the beginning, oh my God. But I'm very sympathetic to Regina actually, because everyone's ganging up on her and it's not fair what happened to any of them so they really shouldn't gang up on anyone, really. I mean, cut that woman some slack. Her own husband wouldn't believe her (I probably wouldn't have either. That's like one of a lesbian couple getting pregnant and then she's saying, "It's yours," to her partner) and then things went on a downward spiral and life sucked and continues to suck.

I asked a general question at the prefects Form 3 project thing on Thursday, "So... anyone watch Switched at Birth?" and everyone did that really, really rude thing where they just stare at you for a minute before going back to what they were doing as if they hadn't heard the question because obviously none of them do. Well, except for Divyia. She said she likes Emmett. I can't blame her! Despite the fact that he's not exactly the most virtuous guy on television, he's pretty much like a saint in this verse.

I don't know what bothers me so much about all of it. Maybe it's Bay and her non-character character and really grating appreciation of the arts. Maybe it's the fact that everyone's got their own agenda. Most probably it's the fact that the whole switched at birth and deafness premise is still not enough to blanket the fact that it's just another television show, and at the end of the day, couples are going to get shuffled around like decks of playing cards (and really, Bay? Ty and Emmett?) and everyone's drowned in their own sorrows and conspiracies. Television is really disappointing, I learned.

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Which brings us to that story I was telling about the sleepover and another thing that's equally as disappointing: people. Nisa put on Switched at Birth. I wasn't really watching because I decided that I had had enough of Switched at Birth after Bay annoyed me with her attitude in that episode where she and Emmett went around, looking for the craziest clues as to who her Dad was (and how great of a climax was it that she met him at that art thing? And he just stared at his guitar pick on her sleeve and said, "Hey, my guitar pick!" "You're my Dad!" "I'm your Dad." Don't quote me on that. That's not word for word) and then I had to find out that she started dating Emmett? That is pure puerile bullshit. I'm not saying I ship Emmett and Daphne, not really, but I'm just saying that they should be together for the sake of endgame. I mean, I know, how groundbreaking a relationship, right, but Bay is a menace to the art society. I get that she and Emmett can be the it artsy couple but she is a flake, a fake and annoying to boot.

But what was I supposed to do? Lie face down on the pillow and pull my hoodie up and stuff my ears with my earphones? Well, I did the last one. We used Hanna's projector again and of course, it was huge and right in front of my very eyes and very, very loud so I caught a bit of dialog here and there. You know. When they were speaking. Here's the disappointing bit.

I never really mind it when someone's opinions differ from mine. I mean, sure, it's great to have a kindred spirit (ah, memories. Like for Born This Way, when Elia and I both skipped school just to watch it and then we ended up calling the other and squealing and downright crying, versus this year when I had to walk on eggshells just so I wouldn't straight up get down on my knees and beg her to tell me what was so special about Blaine 'Not For Sale' Anderson.) but it's not a necessity. And I never really had a problem with people watching the same things and liking the same things that I did. I mean, when I first started watching Glee, I told everyone.

And everyone didn't quite listen.

I know that I couldn't have possibly told everyone. I mean, not like everyone at school. Probably just my closest friends and Nisa started watching it but she's, like, well, she wouldn't exactly not watch a television show. She, afraid of horror and blood and gore, watched the American Horror Story pilot with Hanna and I this morning and said that if she had company, she wouldn't mind following through with the other episodes. But I still felt like I tried to promote it. I still feel like I try to promote things, most of the time, just by liking them and talking about them on a constant basis. I mean, isn't that equivalent to promotion? I don't know. But then it came on television and everyone. Was. A. Gleek.

Come on. That is a bit unfair. I feel like I had the burden of a prophet on a mission, trying to get people (well, okay, my closest friends) to watch it and take interest and then suddenly it airs on television and everyone else started getting their panties in a twist. That's where the whole problem really started for me and that's when I got annoyed whenever someone starts watching a show I've been watching for ages and... comments on it.

I look at behind the scenes stuff. I keep up with spoilers and cast Tweets and I read fanfiction and meta and I write meta and all of that, just for Aly to tell me that she thinks Cameron what's-his-face from the Glee Project sang Blackbird better than Chris did. Well, I judged, Aly. I judged so hard when I Facebook stalked you and found out you liked to listen to 'any type of music' and 'didn't like to read'. But then I met you and thought you were a cool person. Really bookish for someone who doesn't read books, but a cool person nonetheless. And plus, I know a trillion girls who sing Justin Bieber songs better than he does but I don't shove that up your face, now do I?

Well, that was mean. But we have come to the heart of the problem. I really hate it when other people like stuff that I like. Not because I don't like things that are 'mainstream', whatever the heck that word is even used for in current culture, but because I don't believe that an opinion is a valid opinion unless it is a fully formed opinion, in which you have received information from all sides possible.

Which brings us back to the disappointing thing. Hanna and Nisa like Bay and Emmett together. Okay. Nisa... well, I don't really care. She watches the show, she doesn't like Daphne and Regina and every so often, she'd say something about the Vasquez family and while I hate to hear it, I don't mind. Hanna was a bit more disappointing. She didn't even watch any of the previous episodes and she's saying stuff like, "That whole family should just go away already." I get it. You like Bay and Emmett because they're aesthetically pleasing and the whole I love you thing was sweet. And, yeah, even I can admit that I yelled out "Slut!" when Emmett kissed Daphne. But an opinion isn't a valid opinion unless it is a fully formed opinion. And you know how wasteful it is to spend your time listening to invalid opinions. And then I tried to explain why I didn't like Bay, that whole fakey flakey artsy fartsy thing and, plus, Liam, but Hanna didn't listen at all. She was back to her computer by that point. People are very disappointing. Television, too.

+++

A few weeks ago, I found out that Sam was going to come back as a stripper. And I was appalled. That is a terrible story line and I'm not saying that I'm not grateful he's back, I'm not saying that I want Kum or no Sam at all (but it was kind of like, 'just as we were getting used to things', you know?), but that is truly a terrible idea. Who came up with that idea. Please. I would like to know who to blame for my getting stuck in this labyrinth of suffering. And then there was the official straw that broke the camel's back. I mean, really, I've been writing and rewriting my breakup letter for Glee for while now. It's something like this, and I'm going to tell you the whole story.

I liked Klaine for a number of reasons but for the purpose of this post, there was only one reason that really mattered. I was going through a lot of things in my life at that point - Never Been Kissed - and that whole thing with D wasn't really a big thing, really, it was very, very tiny, in comparison to some other things going on with my life. But nevertheless it was part of my life. And, I don't know, I keep seeing all these comparisons, all these contrasts between Klaine and what I was going through in real life. I really also just found them completely adorable. And then something changed after the Christmas episode, after I listened to Baby It's Cold Outside for a thousand times on repeat. It was the start of a new year, for one thing. And D was gone, for another. Whatever it was, it had nothing to do with Klaine. I mean, not like a direct line linking one to the other. But I still felt just weird watching them interact onscreen.

When Original Songs happened, of course I was happy. I was ecstatic. I couldn't stop smiling the whole day. But on the other hand, that was when the story completely broke for me. Kurt wasn't Kurt anymore. He was a baby penguin. Trust me. It was referenced in every single fanfiction I read thereafter. And Klaine weren't Klaine anymore. They were together. They were real. They were something I'm not, something I'm not going to get. I persevered, though. I slogged it through. In it for the long haul. The day that Somewhere Only We Know came out by accident on Glee radio was one of the happiest days of my life in fandom. I played the song over and over again, the original version as well. I hummed it to myself sometimes when I'm bored during duty at school. I did a lot of smiling. And I was happy, content.

And then Prom Queen. I promised myself after Prom Queen that I wouldn't consider myself a Klaine shipper anymore. I was neutral. I was all right with things as long as they didn't seem too far fetched. I begun hovering over the Kum fandom more and more often, wondering whether I should dip my toes in or whether the wound was still too freshly cut. And that's how things remained up until Season 3.

I've been living in a bubble. A bubble of lies. Outside of the bubble, were people who acknowledged and dissected not Glee's shining moments (of which I realized there really weren't any anymore), but everything about the show that was wrong. It was a nice bubble. There were a lot of fanfiction. In fact, I paid more attention to the fanfiction than I did to the actual show. That was why when I heard it, Blaine's a junior this year, the bubble just... popped. Gone. No more fanfiction to protect me from the outside world of serious, important issues surrounding the way Glee chooses to handle its myriad sensitive topics. No more fanfiction because all of those fanfiction were lies. Jossed. Lies.

But I continued, you know, for the sake of Chris. Not Kurt. Not anymore. Not after I Am Unicorn. And the anger kept on building steadily, day by day; anger at the writers for being such shitheads, anger at myself for considering the show shit because the cast are such lovely people and they seem to enjoy, if not the work, each other's company loads, anger at those stupid people who don't know how to argue well. I love arguments, live for it, but if you're going to be that stupid, might as well just keel over and pray.

"Blaine's too good for you," was actually the last straw. It made me rage. It made me raise my eyebrows up and then smash the keyboard and then choke on air for a good fifteen minutes. It made me Unfollow about 32 people, all the Glee blogs, including Ain, Elia and Syairah, people I know and like very well in real life, because I'm putting down my letter of resignation. I am no longer a Gleek. I quit cold turkey.

That never really works, does it, quitting cold turkey? So I decided that, just because of Chris, I'd watch the performances only. Red Solo Cup was a disaster (if only because I couldn't get the song out of my head for the rest of the night - and keep in mind I didn't listen in on First Listens; watching the performances on the show was actually my first time listening in). But other than that, everything else was... better. The colors brighter, the music more melodious, the smile on my face wider. I'm actually enjoying Glee the way I used to because I'm ignoring everything else but the performance and the song. It works for me. I'm just going to be doing this from now on. Also, closing my eyes really, really tight whenever the camera pans up to Blaine too close.

And also die face down on the pillow and pull my hoodie up and stuff my ears with my earphones. That's what I did when Nisa wanted to watch this week's episode, anyways. Blocked out a lot of stuff as well.

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"People fall so in love with their pain, they can’t leave it behind. The same as the stories they tell. We trap ourselves." (Chuck Palahniuk)

I spent months trying to stick it out with Glee. It hurt a lot. On the one hand, there were these people who would defend Blaine to the ends of the Earth and each and every fanfiction I've read in the Klaine fandom post-Hold Onto Sixteen, were about justifying Blaine's actions in it (I don't actually know what he did, by the way, other than the fact that he said he's not for sale to Sam, which I caught in a gif set and I promptly fell off my chair in rage). On the other hand, there were these people who have managed to influence me so much, I couldn't even find it in me to smile when I see Darren's face. It's that bad. And it sucks because I don't even know where I stand on the matter and all of that? All of that drove me crazy and over the brink and broke my stupid camel's back and now I'm left with Glee withdrawal and I am happy that I've chosen this path, sure, but it's still dissatisfying to know that I've somehow (someway) abandoned Kurt and his story line.

And I never wanted to do that. Sure, I can talk about this on the Internet with people who actually understand but I don't know why I feel the sudden need to talk about it with someone in real life and have them actually care. People are disappointing. Television shows, even more so.

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So I'm mad a lot. Mad at Nisa for saying what she said and then brushing it off like it was nothing. Like I wouldn't get hurt at a throwaway comment. Like I don't have a heart. Mad at the writers of Switched at Birth for failing to bring a very interesting story to life with good dialog and three dimensional characters. Mad at Hanna for forming an opinion on something she had just set her eyes on a few minutes ago. Mad at Glee for ruining my life. And also, mad at my computer for being so slow.

Take heed, friends and fellow travelers, for it is a perilous journey you're about to embark on if you choose to enter a fandom. Not that most of my friends would know. Not that they would ever get to feel the camaraderie, the absolute sense of belonging one gets when one's around one's own kin. Not that they would get it, not quite, because I like things with strings attached. I like them by throwing myself into it, by respecting what and who I like, first and foremost, and by drawing boundaries. By trying to understand and trying to find moral values applicable to real life. Maybe that's why I don't think just any random old person can be called a fan. Because I worked. Because I bled. And because others form an opinion before getting information from all sides possible.

Take heed, if you're not going to give your heart and soul and your everything, if you're not willing to sell your soul to the devil of media, Television, then you're not in the right place. It's not fandom you're after. But if you are ready, if this is what you want, then think it through first because people disappoint. Television is no different.

It's not too late to turn back.

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