Tuesday, February 19, 2019

More on Johnstone's Trigger Warning

Over the past few days, I've found out that almost everyone except me knows about this book -- it's famous among 20-30 year olds on social media, apparently. Nearly everyone is mocking it, which makes me wonder again whether this bizarre novel is meant to be parody.

At the moment, I don't think so. J.A. isn't throwing the shade I'd expect someone writing parody to throw. It's a painfully earnest book, in fact, in which all the Good Guys are Straight-arrow Republicans, and all the Bad Guys are shrieking progressives.

But maybe the parody gets revealed later? We'll see.

Chapter 5 through 10:

These chapters are heavily padded. The only plot-related events that occur are that Jake gets hit on by a Criminal Justice professor, Dr. Natalie Burke, who apparently has no problem dating a student, and one -- furthermore -- that she is trying to recruit for her department.

(A) Professors don't date students, not if they want to keep their jobs, for obvious reasons -- there's a power differential, and if this student ends up in your class, as Burke is apparently hoping Jake will, how fair will your grading practices be?

(B) Any professor who isn't a creep doesn't want to date a student. They're students! We're in a specific kind of relationship with them, and that relationship is damaged if we start thinking about them as potential sex partners.

But of course J.A. isn't seeing Burke as an actual person, with a profession, and ethics, and a job. She's just there to be the Endangered Sexy Bit that Jake can protect when danger arrives.

There is also yet another extensive, heavily detailed fight scene. For reasons that are never explained, the bad guys who are planning to pull off a big heist keep coming around and starting fights with Jake. This makes no plot-related sense, but it does allow J.A. to include such incisive bits of social commentary as these:

The hooded men hadn’t been lurking here in the shadows, waiting for him, just so they could beat him up. They meant to kill him. Just because he hadn’t eagerly swallowed and regurgitated their line of political bull. “Wrongthink” was a capital offense in their minds.  
“Are you really that stupid?" [Jake demands of one of the Bad Guys he has just beaten up] "You think a real fascist, a real Nazi, would let you live right now? I’ve been listening to you idiots for years now, yammering about how any politician you don’t like is literally Hitler. 
When all along it’s been your side that’s been acting like the brownshirts and going after anybody who doesn’t agree with you!
"....Punching Nazis feels great," [Jake continues -- seriously, this rant goes on for like six pages -- I'm cutting 99% of it] "only you’re the Nazis....
"...if the other side was as bad as you believe it is, if we wanted death camps, then by God, we’d have death camps by now!" 

At that point, Jake concludes and strides away, leaving the Bad Guy sobbing on the ground behind him.

That's one problem (one of many) in this book. The Bad Guys are sometimes a Scary Evil (actual NAZIS!!) and sometimes ineffectual losers, "Pajama Boys," who are just lucky the Conservatives don't round them up and put them in death camps. (Remind me again -- which side is the Nazi side in this story?)

Oh, and at the end of Chapter 7, after Jake admires his bruises in the mirror (what a man!) we find out about the book he was reading in Chapter One -- that socialist drivel he wanted to throw across the room in disgust. It's his economic textbook.

Now I'm not saying economists can't be liberals. But despite what MAGA Americans seem to think, there are a lot of conservatives on campuses in America, and a sizable chunk of them are economics professors. Also, no matter what department you're in, 'drivel' is not your usual choice for textbooks.

But we've already noticed that J.A. ain't ever been to college, so.

Chapter 8 is more of Burke hitting on Jake -- some of the most painful flirting I've ever read, by the way, though I'm sure J.A. thinks this is very sexy.

Also, we're told that Burke is wearing a dress today, because she's on her way to a departmental faculty meeting. Oh my God.

(I can't even tell you how many times I said, out loud, while I was reading this, "OH MY GOD." But the notion that faculty meetings are something professors dress up for? OH MY GOD.)

Anyway, Jake is on his way to a meeting with the university president, to discuss how he keeps beating people up. Kidding. Just the one time he beat people up. The president doesn't know about the other times.

I'm dubious about this as well. It would be the Dean of Students he met with, probably. But okay, let's assume Jake takes special handling, because of his rich granddaddy. (Except we're told EVERYONE here is rich, so why is Jake a special case? Everyone keeps saying he is, and then right after that we get told how rich and spoiled all the other students are, like that makes them different from Jake, somehow.)

ANYWAY. The college professor has photographs of Democratic politicians all over his wall, but no white men. Just people of color and women. (Me: "OH MY GOD.")

College President says this:

“I find your attitude and actions repellent and reprehensible, young man. Kelton College is sup- posed to be a haven of learning for all students, regardless of ethnicity, national origin, gender, lifestyle, or philosophy. We value diversity and a welcoming inclusivity. This entire campus is a safe space, if you will. And then you . . .” Pelletier looked like he wanted to spit. “You come in here with your far-right, nationalist, patriarchal, sexist, bigoted, supremacist leanings and make our entire student body and faculty extremely uncomfortable.” 

("OH MY GOD.")

I could say a lot of things here, but I'll just keep it simple: College presidents don't talk like that. Not to students, not to anyone, and certainly not to the grandsons of men who have donated literal millions to their college.

Oh, also there are something like 30 lawsuits being filed against the college and against Jake. Why? Yeah, that's not clear. I guess because rich people and their lawyers are eeevil?

Don't worry about these lawsuits. Jake's grandfather bribes and threatens (physically threatens, if I'm understanding J.A.) everyone into dropping the lawsuits. So, you know, some rich men and their lawyers aren't evil. Because bribes and threats are cool if you're using them against liberals.

Pelletier also castigates Jake for speaking up in praise of Ronald Reagan in his history class, disparaging Keynesian economics in his economics class, and saying that "all lives matter" in a conversation with another student. All of these, according to Pelletier, are violations of the Code of Conduct, so he could expel Jake for them. ("OH MY GOD.")

Pelletier wants Jake to drop out. Jake says no. More gratuitous bullshit, and we're on to Chapter Ten, where the Main Villain finally shows up.

He's shooting guns, which is interesting. I thought only manly conservatives liked guns. I thought these progressive snowflakes were too soft and whiny to own guns. I guess we need an exception, so Jake can be justified in all the guns HE has.

The Bad Guy is named Matthais Foster. In this chapter he uncovers an FBI spy in his conspiracy, and executes him, in front of like six witnesses. I mean, they're also all in the conspiracy, but even so, that seems kind of weak-headed for a Big Bad Villain.

So we're like a quarter of the way into this book and nothing much has happened except J.A. spouting MAGA propaganda.

It's getting a bit tedious, to be truthful.

Maybe something will happen in the next few chapters.

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