Fear of the Dark (And Everything Else)

My hamster’s primary emotional driver is fear (“oh God here comes the hand again this is it HE’S GOING TO EAT ME oh he’s just going to pet me and give me treats”), and I’m not sure humans are any more evolved than that. Look at how the Republican Party has used it to great effect, convincing people that Mexicans and Muslims and women and queer people are going to steal their jobs and eat their cats and turn their children gay. People are scared that they’ll lose their jobs, get sick, that something will happen to their children, that that spider will bite them, that that colored person will mug them. Fear is everywhere you look. Hell, social media networks are practically powered by it.

Look no further than Hollywood for the perfect example. Right now, there are seven (7!) projects in development about Robin Hood. Is it because viewers are jonesing for men in green tights? No. It’s because executives are terrified because Marvel (and Warner Bros., less successfully so far) have a lock on the superheroes people have actually heard of, so they grasp for any name recognition they can find – and they’re afraid that the other studios will get there first, thus costing them their jobs. It’s the same reason remakes, sequels, and adaptations have always been the norm. Studios are scared to take a shot on anything original, but previously existing properties at least give them some reassurance. It’s worked before, why wouldn’t it work again? So instead of funding a bunch of inexpensive movies, they put all their eggs in one (extremely expensive) basket that they consider a safe bet. Frankly, it’s amazing anything ever gets made.

I’m no exception. I’ve lived most of my life governed by fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of what other people think of me. I have dozens of projects filed away that will never see the light of day because I was (or still am) too scared to take a shot on them. I’ve brainstormed lots of ideas for podcasts, but I’ve never actually done any out of fear that no one would listen or it would somehow hurt my career if I talked negatively about movies. There are many occasions where I’ve been too scared to take the necessary steps to advance my career, when all it would have required was an email or a phone call.

It’s not something I’m proud of. It is, however, something I need to come to terms with. A pretty smart guy who put over 100,000 people in prison camps because people were scared that their eyes looked different once said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. I think he was right about that (the fear thing, not the internment thing). Ultimately, the only way to get past that rodent state of mind is to acknowledge your fears – and do the right thing anyway.

Political Post

Time to dust off the ol’ blog. I was looking for a place to share my void-screaming, and rather than add to the cacophony of noise on Facebook, I figured I’d use this venue.

So. I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but things are scary out there. Real scary. Now, from the comfort of my home in a suburb of Los Angeles, as a straight white dude from a well-off background, I haven’t been personally affected by it yet. I’m Jewish, so the white supremacists will get to me eventually, but right now they’re focused on Muslims and Mexicans. My father, a staunch supporter of Israel, doesn’t see the parallels between the scapegoating of these minorities and the actions of previous fascist regimes, and he never will until Fox News goes after the Hebrew people (and they may never; after all, they need the Jews for their weird end times prophecy). Unfortunately, I do. The problem: there is literally nothing I can do about it.

If anything, that impotency causes the greatest anxiety. At a certain point, it feels like watching a drama play out. Romeo will never get to be with Juliet, and Donald Trump will always get to name whomever he wants to the Supreme Court. The rampant greed and cruelty will ultimately affect everyone, but we are helpless to do anything about it. Even our elected officials – the ones who have actual, tangible power – can’t do anything about it other than issue statements. I see friends and colleagues going out and participating in marches and protests. I respect that. It doesn’t seem to accomplish anything, though – how are you supposed to shame people incapable of shame? Lemmy once said, “Just ’cause you got the power, don’t mean you got the right,” but Mitch McConnell doesn’t strike me as much of a Motorhead fan.

There are more of us, yes. Historically, though, that doesn’t mean much. After all, the British were able to subjugate millions of Indians for decades with a few thousand troops. These assholes have the power and nobody can challenge them for it, so there’s nothing we can really do but let it play out. We put our faith in the midterm elections, but let’s be honest: the conservatives have been stacking the odds in their favor for years, and now that the trap has sprung, they’ve left their political opponents very few ways to get out of it. We hope for a quick release from this hell, but these things usually play out over years. It will only get worse before (if) it gets better.

Society is a construct of mutually-agreed rules. The Republican Party, their donors, and corporate interests have abused and manipulated those rules. Now that they have the power, they ignore them completely – or at least look away when their anointed president tramples all over them. That’s how the slide towards fascism starts. Now I know how it must’ve felt to live in Germany during the 30s, watching it all dissolve, knowing that everything around you was wrong, and not being able to do anything about it. Resistance may not be futile, but it sure seems like it right now.

How does one deal with that? I wish I knew. What can you do when speaking out does nothing? How can you combat hatred and venality that seems hardwired into humanity? I don’t have the answer – I feel lost at sea, with no sign of land in sight.


DC Comics is having a competition to earn a spot in their writers workshop. As someone whose lifelong dream it’s been to have a Batman comic with his name on it, it seemed like a good idea to enter. One problem: I don’t have any published comic material. All my stuff is either in the form of metal writing or screenplays. I do, however, have stories to tell. So I wrote one up as a comic script, and I’m “publishing” it here. Hope you enjoy! And hey, if you’re an artist, feel free to use it – just let me know. Special thanks to Ted Blegen for inspiring the character of Bud.