Cancel Culture and Bullying

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m sure you’ve heard about Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss. If you haven’t, let me explain quickly. Dr. Seuss has some books with extremely racist imagery and his estate has decided not to publish them anymore. Mr. Potato Head has changed the brand to Potato Head and will sell the base set as gender neutral to make it possible to build any sort of family. Unfortunately, the press release forgot to mention they were still going to sell the legacy Mr. Potato Head and Mrs. Potato Head.

All this has brought back cries of “Cancel Culture” (I talked about this back when a certain millionaire author felt cancelled. Part 1 and Part 2, I also talked about being problematic here.).

There’s a lot of stuff to unpack when it comes to Cancel Culture and I don’t have the energy to write a book about it. Instead I’ll tell you a story.

I’m a Geek or Nerd, whatever you want to call me. I live in pop culture and spend way more time reading about tech than is necessary for me. A few years ago, someone confronted me about how problematic the idea of “Talk Like a Pirate Day” was, considering their ancestors had been kidnapped and enslaved by real life pirates. (Pirates, corsairs, and privateers were a big part of the slave trade.)

I thought they were kidding; it wasn’t about real pirates, but just a silly internet meme based off cartoon versions. I swear I went through the full gamut of grief. I still have no idea why I was so attached to the damn thing.

In the end, a friend messaged me and said something like, “I get that you’re upset but maybe you should listen to the victim about what bothers them.” I’m sure it was better worded than that, but it’s what made me stop and think. I don’t have the right to question what hurts other people. With that and a cooler head, I realized that, yeah, the day was glorifying a group of people who stole people from their homes and families. Beyond that, they facilitated the complete erasure of multiple cultures. That’s stories, myths, religions, customs, food, etc, everything that makes people feel like people. That’s horrific, and if you don’t think so you need to think some more.

Being told that something hurts others when you thought it was part of you makes you feel like you’re the one to blame. It causes an internal struggle that makes you have to choose between something you think is part of you and another person’s pain. It’s guilt and sorrow and it’s completely on your shoulders.

It’s our responsibility as privileged people to listen to those who have been hurt and try to be compassionate. If something that hurts others is part of you, it might be time to consider if it’s that important and at the very least, admit that it’s a problem.

The calls of “Cancel Culture Gone MAD” and other bullshit is a self defence reflex, but it serves a major purpose, it’s a form of bullying.

Yelling and writing article after article about how sensitive people are and how they should just leave “culture” alone is a backlash that is meant to silence victims and make them question their own hurt. It’s also a way of bullying victims into having to defend their reasons for being hurt.

Next time you are confronted by something that makes you feel like you have to defend yourself against a victim, take the time to think about their point of view and why you have internalized something that was hurtful.

Be safe and be kind,


Lilo and Stitch – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2002 film Lilo and Stitch.


I’ve seen this movie a lot. It’s one of my feel good movies. It’s easy to dismiss this movie because it’s such a happy, and a little silly, story. It has a surprising amount to say about racism and colonialism. The aliens don’t even consider humans intelligent, Stitch is treated as a monster simply for existing, and you have to wonder if a white girl trying to take care of her sister would have as much trouble and scrutiny as Nani does.

It does a great job of showing off the problems in the child protective services system and the mindset that people are what they were born.

There’s also a lot in this about found family, sibling love, deciding who you are, and loving people for who they are.

Score: 1


Lilo never mocks anyone (except Nani). She genuinely seems to love those around her, even those that treat her terribly. She is a believable kid in pain. There’s a lot of talk that she is coded as autistic but I can’t speak to that.

Nani makes me think of my older brother and I can’t imagine the stress and pain she’s going through.

Stitch is sassy, adorable, and more relatable then you’d expect. He’s also cute and fluffy.

The rest of the characters are both surprising and fascinating in their own way.

Score: 1


This movie is quoted a lot in our family. It’s heartfelt and funny.

If I ever get a fish, I’m calling it Pudge.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie is a stunning example of 2D animation. The rich landscapes of Hawaii along with the colourful aliens works so well. The plane chase sequence at the end is fantastic considering they had to remake it due to 9/11.

The music is fabulous and the use of Elvis is both jarring and perfect at the same time.

Score: 1


This movie doesn’t let you get bored. The placement of scenes is such that you get enough time to feel the emotion, but not enough to get bored. It’s a great use of emotion in scenes.

The overall feel of the movie is hopeful and happy.

Score: 1


This is a classic movie that is just overall a lot of fun. If I could only take 10 movies with me to re-watch forever this would absolutely make the list.

Overall Score: 5* Stars

*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Zootopia – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2016 movie Zootopia.

*This was my favourite movie of 2016*


Fast paced, coherent, with several great messages. It’s strange watching it in a post-Trump world and seeing messages that were clearly political. If by political you mean: don’t profile people, be kind, don’t give in to fear, and don’t give up.

The structure of procedural and buddy cop movie is done very well, with lots of allusions to other movies, while keeping the twist fresh. It’s also re-watchable even if you remember the twist.

Score: 1


To build relatable characters it’s important that they have flaws and strengths. To make great characters you need to have those strengths and flaws be intrinsically linked. Judy’s hopeless optimism and refusal to quit are strengths but they also blind her to the obvious dangers and villains.

Nick’s clever mind and overthinking are great for hustles but they make him doubt everything people do.

Score: 1


There’s a lot said out loud and a lot said between the lines. This movie could have easily been bogged down with world building dialogue but is instead filled with wonderful lines. I love the evolution of Nick calling Judy “Carrots”.

I also love the Disney humour. Hearing Idris Alba say, “Life isn’t some cartoon musical where you sing a little song and all your insipid dreams magically come true. So let it go.” was just the kind of self-mocking humour I love.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie is stunning and absolutely beautiful. Zootopia the city is as much a character as a setting and you quickly fall in love with it.

The music is perfect background and the Shakira song is catchy and inspirational.

Score: 1


Other than the press conference scene, I smile and laugh all the way through. It’s a movie that makes you think about the world you live in and the prejudices, while still making silly sloth jokes.

Score: 1


This movie is wonderful and has everything I’m looking for. There are a few contrived moments and it’s not absolutely perfect but it makes up for it in humour, heart, and making you think.

If you haven’t seen it, now is the time.

Final Score: 5 Stars*

*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

It’s Just a Joke!

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

When I was in high school, I wanted to be funny. I looked through the school and public library for books on humour. I thought that there had to be a how-to book on stand-up comedy and jokes. If such a thing existed, I never found it. There are now countless youtube tutorials, psychological texts, and how-to blogs.

“So… if you put funny teeth in your mouth and jump around like an idiot, that is considered funny!”

– Data (Star Trek The Next Generation “The Outrageous Okona”)

Let’s just say I understand where Data was coming from.

The most common way to make people laugh is to surprise them. This could be with a twist pun (How is a doctor like a rock? They’re both Sedimental.), an absurd ending (How is a doctor like a rock? You want neither to get stuck in your shoes.), or a shocking/macabre ending (How is a doctor like a rock? In Alabama, both will kill a pregnant girl.)

These rely on you understanding certain cultural and linguistic markers. If you didn’t know that sediment is often made of rocks and that it sounds like sentimental, or a rock hurts when it’s stuck in your shoe, or that Alabama is trying to pass draconic abortion laws, the jokes would be meaningless.

Dangers of a Joke

Here’s where things get uncomfortable and where I’ve gotten in trouble.

Jokes matter. They are not always frivolous fun. They are often tools used to reinforce and propagate stereotypes.

Stereotype: A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

– Oxford English Dictionary

When you share or make a joke that includes a negative stereotype, you are effectively approving it and introducing it to others.

Let’s be clear here, laughing at these jokes does not make you a bad person. We’ve all laughed at a dumb blonde joke or something like them. Sharing, telling, or otherwise disseminating this joke is the problem.

Often it’s not until you think about the joke and why it’s funny that you realize that it’s portraying someone in a negative way.

Think before you share.

Challenging a joke

This is the part that I haven’t figured out. When I mention the negative effects of jokes or point out the detrimental aspects, I usually get yelled at.

People are extremely defensive of their humour, going to great lengths to defend it and its premise. I once commented, on Facebook, about how horrifying a joke about a grandmother slipping birth control pills in her granddaughter’s food was and I was attacked for not having a sense of humour or understanding what it’s like to be young.

In person, I’ve called out jokes and gotten groans or “come on man, it’s just a joke.” I once almost got into a fist fight over someone using Jew as the punchline for a joke about being thrifty.

Recently, I commented on how I didn’t think a joke was funny because of the stereotype and was treated to a series of history lessons, personal stories about how the stereotype is true, and was then accused of being too sensitive.

I can’t give you a good way of dealing with it. If I find it, I’ll update this post, but for the moment know that people are extremely defensive about their jokes and humour. Be careful not to confront the wrong people in person and be warned it might lose you friends online.

In Conclusion

Think critically about your humour, challenge your own preconceptions, and try to not encourage negative stereotypes.

If you confront people about their humour, be careful.

Remember, the kids of antivaxxers and jokes about Dorian Gray never get old.


Marijuana and Racism

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

In last week’s post on smoking I used the word Marijuana to refer to Cannabis. I thought that they were synonyms and had no idea of the history of them.

A reader sent me this article from the Ottawa Citizen: Here’s why you shouldn’t use the word marijuana anymore

I did some quick research and found this interesting article from CBC: Weed, cannabis, pot or marijuana: what’s the difference?

In brief, Cannabis is the genus of the plant, or its scientific name. It’s the name that the government is using for the product, which can be easily obtained at the wholesale CBD hemp seeds for growing | discount pharms.

Image from this article on the Stranger Magasine.

The word Marijuana however has a much different history. There are a lot of different theories as to where the name comes from but the word was popularized in English in the early 30’s America. The opponents to the drug used the “foreign” sounding word to scare people and eventually pass the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 which was the first step to making the drug illegal.

Apparently smoking cannabis wasn’t popular in the early 1900’s until refugees from the Mexican revolution brought it into the states. Because of this and the ever present racism, the word was associated with immigrants and used to fuel fear based politics. (so much has changed huh?)

The exact etymology is unknown. Here’s a list of theories:

  • A mash-up of the Spanish names Mary Jane (Marie Juane)
  • Bastardization of the herb Marjoram
  • From the Nahualt word, mallihuan, for Prisoner
  • From the Chinese, ma ren hua, or ‘hemp seed flower’

No matter where the word comes from, it’s a leftover racist term meant to encourage fear and we should stick to cannabis as the proper term.

Did you know any of this? Do you have any theories about the word?

Later Days,


History, Hero Worship, and Being Problematic

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

There has been a lot of talk about taking down monuments and changing names. Mostly this is due to things the people have done that are horrifying.

Removing the name or monuments to these people has been likened to sanitizing our history or hiding the horrors of our past.

The whole debate is complicated by the fact that most of these people have also done good things. So do we let one mistake destroy the legacy of a great historical figure?

Vintage still life. Vintage compass lies on an ancient world map in 1565.

History is a very human practice. It’s not a science and relies on what people wrote down and what they chose to leave out. Walt Disney smoked like a chimney but you’d never know from his pictures at the parks or the official videos. It’s possible that future generations will never know.

To get an idea how much we can confuse and conflate history have a look at this video.

Columbus was a genocidal idiot, yet I bet most people didn’t know that.

History is messy and the moment you start worshiping someone you start ignoring the bad they did. Very few historical figures are perfect and it’s important to remember. If we ignore the bad that historical figures did, we risk repeating it.

We also have to not go too far the other way and forget the good that they have done (not Columbus, he’s horrible). It’s a common practice now to demonize people for things they’ve done or said in their past. It’s important to balance out what people did with how they tried to make amends and how they grew. Just because someone was a dick doesn’t mean they didn’t change.

My Opinion

Having a statue in a public space, having your name on a street or building is an honour. If the historical figure has done something horrible (Genocide, mass murder, slavery, etc) move their statue to a museum with the proper, balanced, historical information. Or take their name off and replace it with something more innocent or someone more worthy. Leave a plaque explaining the old name and why it was changed.


Later days,


In a World of BS This Guy Tells it Straight!

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

There’s a movement in the media, politics, and general pop culture; that glorifies simplicity in speech. It’s deeply rooted in a false sense of nostalgia that believes the past was a more honest and wholesome.

This is sadly bullshit, the past was a cesspool of lies, death, hate, and stupidity. Kinda like today.

Why do people have this ridiculous idea that we are unable to speak our minds and that everyone is trying to screw us over now but the past was so much better? That problem is due to three things: Glorification of Americana, Systemic Hate, and Lies.

Flim Flam Brothers from My Little Pony Friendship is Magic
Flim Flam Brothers from My Little Pony Friendship is Magic

Glorification of Americana

Through movies and other media, the time period after World War II has been glorified as a golden age. Arguably it was, if you were a middle class, white male, with no left leaning political views. If you weren’t in that very specific demographic, it wasn’t all that great.

Despite this being a time of travelling salesman bamboozling and flimflamming all over the place, it’s still seen as a safe and honest era. Mostly because of movies and television, but also because anyone alive who remembers it was young and innocent at the time.

It was, however, a great time for racism, sexism, and homophobia.

Systemic Hate

We as a species love to find patterns in everything and even more we love to categorize everything. Once we’ve categorized and separated things into boxes, we then rank or judge value. It’s harmless when we’re talking about fruit, but when we talk about ourselves it gets dangerous.

The idea that certain races are mentally, emotionally, or physically predisposed to specific traits is a complete fabrication. The concept that there’s more than one race of humans on the planet is scientifically unsound.

Unfortunately, culturally, especially in Cananda and the US, we’ve had a lot of problems with hate. Historically there was slavery; recently there’s residential schools. All because of a need to separate or assimilate those who aren’t like us.

Thankfully, we are slowly moving away from such idiotic and barbaric ideas. Part of the backlash against our society becoming less hateful is a backlash against political correctness.

If you are not part of a culture or subculture that is attacked with systemic hate, you can’t understand the hurt that your “only joking” does. To them, the joke is funny because of things they’ve heard. With no one to say, “Hey. That’s hurtful!” systemic hate just keeps going.

Remember that you don’t have to be hateful to say something hateful. Political Correctness is just being a decent human being.


I promised I’d tell it straight, no BS, in the title so here it is:


All these politicians that want to make something great, push Canadian Values, or are saying it like it is; are lying to you. They are appealing to your Hate and False Nostalgia to get what they want. They may be lying to themselves at the same time, but a lie is still a lie.


Do you disagree? Let me know in the comments.

Later Days,


You Don’t Need to be a Jerk to Act Like One

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

There’s something that’s been bugging me since November 8th. A lot of people have been saying or doing stupid jerk-like things.

Jerk behaviour goes through cycles and the latest one is to say, “It’s okay, I’m not a jerk.” As if not being a jerk meant your behaviour couldn’t be that of a jerk.

A friend posted an article where a jerk-face was condescending a female expert about her field. Someone commented that this was obvious mansplaining (When a man disregards a woman’s experience and decides to explain things to her despite her being way more qualified to explain the thing.) A guy commented that they were using the term wrong and that there was no way to know if the jerk from the article was actually a sexist-jerk.

So here’s something that a lot of people don’t seem to understand: An action is independent from the actor. In the same way, the action is independent from the actor’s intention.

The action is independent from the actor’s intention.

Let’s tackle the second statement first. What this means is that despite being influenced by an intention, an action is its own thing. If you call someone stupid, the action is hurtful even if the intention wasn’t. Even if both parties believe the act to be harmless it’s still a hurtful act. Because it normalizes a difference in cognition as bad. This may seem like a banal example but try it by replacing the word “stupid” with the pejorative racial slur of your choice.

An action is independent from the actor.

You don’t need to be a Chef to cook a dinner. Just like you don’t need to be a jerk to do something that’s jerk-like. In the example above, the jerk who was condescending to an expert might not have been sexist, but what he was doing was sexist. It doesn’t matter what he was or what he was intending, he acted in a sexist way.

Why is this important?

It may seem pedantic to insist on this divide but it’s extremely important. People are fallible and we all make mistakes. It’s possible to do a jerk act from ignorance and not malice.

The trend is to say, “Look at that person; they did something jerk-like. They’re a jerk!” That leaves no room for the person to learn or for the person to grow. It creates a society where there are whole websites dedicated to how your favourite celebrity/activist/politician/etc is “Problematic.”

There are people out there who act constantly in a jerk-like manner and they are jerks.

I have acted like a jerk in the past and when someone explained to me why what I did was jerk-like, I tried to change my behaviour.


Try to not act like a jerk when people tell you your actions are jerk-like.

Disgust and Disdain


I can’t remember if I’ve spoken about #GamerGate or #SadPuppies

If you’ve happily avoided these two movements you’re lucky and feel free to click away if you don’t want to get very angry, sad, and lose a little hope in humanity.

GamerGate was/is a hate movement with a veneer of fighting for journalistic integrity. I’m sure there are some in the movement that generally believe they are fighting for better accountability between journalists and video gaming companies but most are threatening people, specifically women, with violence and doing other horrific things.

SadPuppies was a movement that believes the Hugo and SFWA have strayed too far away from its Hard Science roots. To them, this means there are too many non-science writers, woman, and minorities that are dominating the field. “Real Science Fiction” is written by old white men with science degrees, or at least that’s how they sound.

The two movements have the same base in fear of losing privilege and fear of outside influence. Science Fiction and Video Games, have been dominated by white men for a long time and slowly over the past couple of decades women and minorities have started to take a place in both industries.

I’m an outsider, or fringe element to both industries. I play games but I’m not active in any communities outside of TableTop games, and I write but I’m only mildly active in the Ottawa writing scene. This means that I only know what I’ve read or seen from the news and people affected.

As an outsider these movements scare me. Plain and simple the things that have been said and done to certain people is fundamentally wrong. Threats of murder, rape, etc are evil. There’s no room for jest here they’re evil. Calling the swat team on someone, or posting their personal information online without permission is even worse than the threats. These acts are wrong on every level.

It’s not just the overtly evil acts that scare me. It’s the cliques, in fighting, and excluding of people for no other reason than that they disagree with you. The inborn sexism, racism, homophobia, and hate makes two of my favorite pass times feel dirty.

I want to make a career out of writing and I’d love to write for TableTop or video games but these events have made me not want to get involved with them.

Think about that for a second… I’m a thirty year old, white, cis, middleclass, five foot eleven, two hundred and fifty pound, man and these movements have me terrified to get involved.

Take another moment to think how it must feel for everyone else.

We need to stop being afraid of diversity and start embracing it.



Live Long and Prosper


On Privilege

Someone on my facebook posted the following article and it made me mad. Not in the usual way in which I compeletly disagree with the author. I just think the author has missed the point entirely and in doing so is encouraging ignorance.

Authority, Google, and Privilege

The author starts by making a grand statement about how, white people (Especially allies and anti-racists) believe they have the right to his time because he has furthered anti-racist discourse. He goes on to say that depending on his mood he’ll either respond thoughtfully or link them to something. And then sometimes he’ll tell them that he’s “not there to serve as a resource to them”.

You’re probably thinking that he’s being pretty reasonable if not the nicest guy in the world right? And on the surface that’s what it looks like but let me tell you that the author is showing his own privilege and his own arrogance.

I don’t believe that people have the right to insist that he answer their questions. I don’t believe that he must answer the questions. What I truly believe is in the right of those people to ask the question.

If you actively champion a cause, in a public venue, you are positioning yourself as an authority. If you are willing to do that you must accept the consequence that people will want to both learn from you and challenge you.

Someone said in reply, that the man isn’t an “Answer Monkey” and to just use google. I suppose that’s fair, except that google will give you millions of replies, not all of them trustworthy. Asking someone you respect is simpler and safer in most cases. Is it lazy, a little, but we’re human, and sifting through endless research for every question isn’t possible on a day to day basis.

Public discourse is part of how the world learns and grows. To try and stifle it is wrong. If he was talking about botany, instead of race, he would just sound like he hated that people talked to him.

Is it Privilege to ask a person questions about something he’s positioned himself as an authority on? Yes but it’s a justifiable privilege that is a human right not “White Privilege.”

Trolls and definitions

The author goes on to explain that, while he was working on a paper, he decided to check out an interracial dating hashtag on twitter. He wasn’t happy with what he saw so he decided to put out a snarky Tweet.

Checks out #insightsbs. Sees white people describing their racial fetisheses as ‘not racist.’ Gives up forever.

The author than was then surprised and annoyed when someone responded by asking him to define Fetish. The person also made it clear that he was challenging the author and that he disagreed and probably would even after the author explained himself.

This folks is a form of Troll. They’re not living under bridges but they are damn ugly. What these kinds of people like to do is “fish” for an argument. Cast a line out and reel it in. Effectively trolling.

This form of Troll is the kind that says, “I’m not [add IST Here] but…” You can argue with them all you want but they’ll just keep poking you until you devolve into a swearing pile of poo. Then they’ll tell everyone how mean and wrong you are.

However, the question is ok. If I had seen the Tweet, I might have asked the same thing. Fetish is a loaded word with multiple definitions. Not to mention that Fetishism is the name of a serious Psychological condition, in which a person is obsessively aroused by a type of object. I understand that the word is used, in slang terms, as meaning a sexual deviance, or naughty like. (He certainly isn’t talking about the definition where people think that the bone of a saint has magical properties.)

I didn’t read the hashtag, and I’m sure there are a lot of nasty/racist things on it but I would want to know why he is equating preference with sexual deviance and saying it’s racist. Don’t get me wrong there are people out there that are racist and sexual deviants, it’s called Ethnic Pornography, and it’s people of different races in subservient positions and cultural stereotypes.

I’m not saying what he said was wrong but that the person had the right or Privilege to ask for clarification.

How it ends

They devolve into an argument. The author says that he doesn’t need to answer the question because it’s not his responsibility to educate people. The Troll tells him that his opinions can’t matter if he’s not willing to argue them.

My Opinion

As a blogger, and public figure, you have given people the right to interact with you. It’s the way public discourse has been done for millennia, and it’s the reason that Bill Nye still debates with creationists. Without questioning there is no growth.

Learning from an authority is more likely to stick in your head and make a positive impact then learning from google or Wikipedia.

Refusing to answer a question because you think it’s a waste of your time is your right, however for every 100 trolls who ask the question, there will be 1 person who is genuinely curious and can grow from your influence.

As much as there is “White Privilege” there is also a form of “Intelectual/Class Privilege” just because you’ve answered the question before, and think it’s a stupid question, doesn’t mean that the person asking is a troll or not worth your time. There are people out there who are ignorant (I mean that in the traditional, “Don’t know anything” and not the hateful people) and the best way to fight ignorance is with knowledge.

I can’t say it enough I truly believe that asking questions is a fundamental human right.


Did I misread the whole thing? Do you disagree with me? Let me know in the comments.