Feb 18, 2011

How a Spartacus related to the Truth behind Relationships

Finally I've got my hands on a copy of "Spartacus: Blood and Sand". Not owned, mind you, but rented. My local blockbuster did pushed its luck with me on this matter, as it took it forever to secure me a copy, inspite the fact I specifically requested to be informed the moment the SOLE copy was available again (honestly, which self-respecting video renting joint keeps only one copy?). Two weeks of waiting to finally have it in my hands yesterday - even went as far as run to the store as soon as I was called - and at once watched the whole first CD. This, of course, explains why I'm so tired now, and sustain myself on coffee alone.

It's too early to give any comments or pass judgments over the series, as there are parts somewhat disappointing, parts that are good and... 9 unseen episodes. So far I can tell you that at least in the begining the poor acting is evident, the stiff and awkward lines are the norm, and the abundant crass language a resource abused to stamp a feel, an environment that better acting, directing and writing could better succeed in. But - and this is important -  our hero looks beautiful. Nice eyes, nice eyebrows. Evidently airbrushed ass, so I can't say anything about that.

Originally I was thinking about writing something on relationships - since it seems to be a topic on the go now -  but suddenly a series seemed more important to me. This series in particular, famed for its profuse blood spilling, and I tell you, it's like hosing with blood and throwing buckets of blood at the smallest sign. "Oh I cut my finger" and the garden sprinkler is full on. I'm not talking Kill Bill-like, or 300-like, I'm talking Saint Seiya like, where you thrust a sword into a guy's chest on the top of the Everst, and his blood covers the mountains and leaks to the Ocean. But then again, blood sells. The series is also famed for its profuse and uncovered sex scenes. It's advertised as an "all you can eat", no restrictions, slave-on-slave action, and yeah... sure.

So we have blood and sex - the first one in cartoonish amounts, the second in hard efforts to be presented as modern-society-shocking yet still stiff and gathered - and it sells while trying to push the attention away from the points where shortcomings are evident. Hell, the lines are bad, but look at all these worked out men running around in briefs! The plot is a little bit too stupid, and it's a sloppy second of many other series and movies, but don't pay attention to that! There's lots of sex! Look! We can even have slaves performing for the enjoyment of their masters and the masters' guests! Like ancient times porn!

This kind of pulled me back to the topic of relationships. (The Mind works in Mysterious Ways.)

The other day I was reading a post posted by this guy I read, and he was talking about this topic, much related with a line he has been developing on the subject, focusing on the social pressure, the behavioral patterns observed and the expectations. (So far a collection of 3 posts on condescending attitude towards hooking up, mutual satisfaction and the time to have sex in a relationship.) These topics, often a sort of taboo in "much more educated, polite circles" are also the topics that draw people. In a way to say it, these are topics that sell, such as the unrestricted blood shed, and the unrestricted outlashing of sex in a series. Why do they sell, because by being labeled as "unproper", "dirty", they arouse the imagination of people, and pull them towards a sense of different, higher pleasure. Topics are not new anymore, and in a way people kind of expect that - by walking into the taboo - they'll uncover something new, something that breaks the routine, that still has the power to astonish them. More than a revisiting of the old, dirty pleasures, there's a sort of hope to catch a new bit. At the same time, it's interesting how the attention still focuses on the same thing, on the taboo of hurting and killing as well as on the taboo of sex. People wouldn't go looking for a new way of entertainment by now exploring the developments of solar explotions.

I won't even delve into why 'sex&violence', but make a farfetched connection. On one hand we have the social requirement to have a relationship, a commited sexual relationship with a partner, that would make you fall into the "Social Schedule" in order to form a social cell - commonly known as "family" - in which you'll produce a given number of new elements - commonly known as "children" - to keep the well oiled social machine running. All elements or individuals, born into the "single" status, are systematically ushered into a series of "in a relationship" status, often pushed forcefully into, like two not matching pieces of a puzzle, by the muscle of society - this muscle commonly refered as "pier pressure" - seeking the production of new elements, and hammering them into line. Though in some societies the kind of relationship pressed forward is marriage, others settle for at least  common law marriage, partnerships and so on.

Once the elements are steered into this status, the hammering towards the production increases.  This, however, due to the profuse set of programs and rules related to the status, tend to difficult the sustainability of the pairing. Obligations, adjusting, jealousy, commitment, expectations, dos-and-don'ts and so on, could easily push the individuals out of the social lock, back into the untamed "single" status. Thus, aside from the social bullying consisting on the taunting of the single, the name-calling and the debasing, bits and pieces are pulled into attention from relationships - here mainly the sex - in order to sell it and keep people "in schedule". Push forward the "fact" that you need a partner to have sex (debase those who have sex without a fix parner, in the meantime), and also, well, that you can't cheat if you don't have someone to "cheat on". In the end, exactly like with the series, the package of the relationship is sold world wide through sex, throwing in a few "beaten into shape" complimentary concepts such as trust, love, being aproved of, never again being alone (which you must avoid or you'll be a loser and get depressed and die of sadness and bitterness), self esteem boost because finally someone saw something worthy in you (your own appreciation of yourself, of course doesn't count, because you are not objective about yourself, so you don't really know how worthy you are and besides, what do you think of yourself?) among other similar minor goodies, usually aimed at the "sensible" market composed by women - because they fall for that kind of corny, mushy shit - though truth is this is what you sell women, because they can't openly admit to love sex, so you have to push in the excuse for them to fall, as a matter of fact, for the same selling propaganda (sex).

Okay, this is all nice and good, but technically - if you REALLY don't give a flying fuck about social expectations and social bullying - you can get all that and still avoid the relationships. The "Social Schedule" and social muscle will keep your mind away from this insurgent idea. One thing the social program can't really keep out is the notorious contradiction happening here. On one hand we are told that relationships are not only about sex, but relationships as sold through sex. If they are not only about sex, why are they not actually sold through any other of their attributes?

As a consequence of this move, people often step into a relationship moved by the sex, and then find themselves holding a bundle of complications they can't even mention, and stand there -  often feeling desolated and more alone than ever - trying to figure out what is what and is that supposed to be that way. You look around trying to find help or clues to solve this thing, but everything points you again towards sex ("Are things going bad? Change your sexual position! Have sex in an unsual place! Go on vacation and have sex in a strange bed!"), or towards obscure elements and advises that basically are resumed in "suck it up". Sex is easy, it's pleasurable and just like booze, it can momentarily take your mind off other things. And if there's no mood for sex - because of all the other things - blame it on the shitty sexlife, and thus you are back to the one root you are allowed to attack: sex.

But what other matters actually enter the whole relationship package? Well, for instance the bringing into the relationship of all your other relationships (family, friends, pets, coworkers, so on), the managing of personal interests, personal time, managing of temperament differences - simple acceptance and behavioral modification are not acceptable to my standards as I believe no one should give up him or herself for anyone else - management of ideologies, management of individual and cojoint plans for the future, management of dreams and ambitions, handling of believes and habits, managing of the concept of relationship itself, handling of the rules of the relationship, management of the emotions and what goes in and what goes out, and well, the actual content of the relationship itself, whether it becomes a co-ownership of each partner, whether it is acceptable to keep up a friendship relationship with the counterpart, and how much the sexual element must be tied to all the "extra goodies" sold in the package. Does sex actually mean love, or can you keep loving your partner when he or she doesn't provoke any sexual attraction in you? And what is actually this love thing? Is it absolutely necesary in a relationship? Are its mutations - organic or externally induced - detrimental to it still being love, or are these acceptable? Is the developing of the same sort of emotion, called love, for someone else, necesarily mean the termination of the ongoing relationship? Is love an emotion attached to one person each time, just as one body can occupy only one space?

Then, what is really heartbreak? A broken heart really stays broken or does it regenerate to end up as good as new? How much must be endured in a relationship? Shall anything actually be endured in a relationship? Is it possible for two or more people with different views and different concepts of life get into a relationship without compromising necessarily the integrity of their views and concepts, or must necesarily be sacrificed until the prevailence of only one?

What is a "functional relationship" anyways and do we actually want one of those?

Yes, I know, though questions, and these are only the tip of the iceberg. Socially these are conveniently solved with "these you must talk with your partner about and get to an agreement", and "no relationship can fructify without a lot of compromise from both parts", which, as you've noticed, actually gives you no reply to your concerns. The concept continues in sale. Go for it, go for sex and you'll be successful, loved and worthy. If something is off, remember "improve your sexlife", "talk it over" and "both of you need to commit to it to make it work". Fix a smile on your face and swallow the mess in your hands. Smoke screen. Men in briefs, and pretty eyes, profuse shallow sex and buckets of blood to ignore the fundamental flaws in the construction. Sex and hazy advise to take your eyes from the fact that the social structure of a relationship is failed.

So what are you gonna do? Suck it up and adjust to a diminished satisfaction, focus on sex and ignore the rest, or kick it up, go single and make your own?

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