The Buffalo Bill – Madame Mandelip Connection!
March 25, 2018
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The word is in from the Appendix N Podcast. A. Merritt’s Burn Witch Burn might lose a few political correctness points due to its stereotypical Italian mobster and comic relief Irish Beat Cop. And yes, sensitive readers will experience a brief moment of triggering at the the mention of how women were put away for “hysteria” in the bad old days of prohibition. If you thought that there just wasn’t anything in here truly worth getting offended over, then think again. Because Burn Witch Burn is danker than you think!
Check this out from the podcast: One of the things that did stick out to me though is actually something that I still see today but was especially common as recently as the nineties is this idea of the gender non-conformist as a villain because here Madame Mandelip is like this big masculine woman with this hairy upper lip and these like big hands and like I think using this masculine woman as an equivalent to villainy is also kind of the same way that you see effeminate men and dandies as a way of standing for decadence and evil often times in Conan stories but even in like Disney cartoons….
This one went right past me when I was reading. Sure, I was vaguely conscious of the “big hands” bit. Mainly, I was too horrified by the thought of a woman that ugly having the ability to appear unfathomably beautiful… and going around seducing unknowing men for her nefarious purposes. It’s fundamentally, rivetingly horrible in a way that very little of contemporary storytelling manages to attain.
One of the guys on the show unironically ponders what it is that people will look back and see that is so “problematic” about the stories of our day… as if we are all just going to continue to get more and more refined and more and more sensitive to an even more comprehensive list of horrible awful no good things over time. And of course, there’s no way to tell what the next big offensive thing will be. And that is true… in a sense.
This stuff is scary if you think about it, because the only sure thing in this is that we are all being extremely problematic even without meaning to and without knowing what it is that we’re doing that’s do awful! Imagine living like that. I mean really, honestly living like that. Being vaguely aware that everything you build is founded on the shifting sands of a fickle and opportunistic ideology. Not having any way to even conceive of being genuinely “okay”, but remaining in sort of a permanent defensive posture at all times because you know that you can fall afoul of the collective determination of whatever the next scandalously problematic thing is supposed to be.
The only way you would be able to cope with that would be to publicly and loudly join up in some sort of weird cultural police force, doing the public a service by alerting them to dangerous people and materials at all times. Stoking and feeding the general hysteria with nearly every social interaction in order to keep attention on people that are noticeably more problematic than you… but knowing that still in spite of all your efforts the mob can still come for you at any moment!
It can’t be healthy.
At any rate, yes… traditional notions of witches and witchcraft are “problematic” today. Most contemporary treatments of them are necessarily eager to invert, sacrifice, or dilute age old mythical elements in exchange for a very tenuous brand of virtue that has an explicit expiration date right on the package. I wouldn’t be surprised if the early twenty-first century fails to produce much in the way of timeless classics. The spirit of this age is opposed to such things on principle.