What I would put in Room 101
[WARNING: THIS POST IS REALLY LONG]
[WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SEVERAL PICTURES OF SPIDERS-ARACHNOPHOBES BEWARE]
Room 101 is a British TV show in which celebrity guests try to persuade the host to put the things they hate most into Room 101. The show is named after the room in 1984 where people are tortured with whatever they consider “the worst thing in the world”. In the TV show, this is generalized to a containment facility for the worst things in the world, from people who laugh at their own jokes to laugh tracks in sitcoms. If one looks around the Internet, one can find a number of lists from various people saying what they would put in if they were on the show, and I decided to make one of my own.
But wait a minute. All these lists are missing something. Guests on the show don’t just say what they hate and then put it in. There’s almost always at least one item that gets rejected. So I got to thinking, not only about what I would nominate, but which ones don’t deserve to go in.
I tried to limit myself to 8 items, since that is the most anyone ever nominated on the actual show. As with many of the guests on the actual show, I had a number of things I hated that didn’t quite make the cut. These are some of the ones I considered strongly: People who clap during movies (this was originally going to be on my list until I remembered a certain movie), Mispronunciations of my own name, We’re The Millers, People that don’t know how to argue (borrowed from the actual show, put in by Nick Hancock), Unnecessary interruptions, My former cabin mates at summer camp, Sunburns, Elton John, Mosquitoes, Death (Borrowed, nominated by John Peel but rejected), Math textbooks, The fact that humans need to breathe, Advertisements, Days spent largely in a car
Without further ado, onto the actual list! These are in a rough ranking by order of how much I hate them.
Starting with what is probably the worst book I’ve ever read:
The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time
Hoo boy. This one’s going to be controversial.
I used to love reading. I mean, I still do love reading. But this book changed something about my love of reading. It used to be that every time I read a book, I would indulge in it. I’d get addicted to it. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. Then, this book came.
When I first read this book, I devoured it. I’m not really sure why. I hated it from beginning to end. I had to read it for school, but it wasn’t really out of a desire to just get it over with. Devouring books was just what I did.
As I said, I hated it from beginning to end. I hated it so much, in fact, that every time I’ve read a book since, no matter how much I’ve liked it, I’ve found myself unable to read more than one chapter at a time, just because this one book was so damn hard to get through.
But enough about my problems. Let’s talk about the book. I didn’t realize this when I first read it, since I hadn’t read it’s better predecessor, but this is really just a poor man’s Catcher In The Rye, somehow made even slower and less enjoyable. Where Catcher In The Rye presents a realistic (albeit dated) portrayal of the mindset of a teenager, the protagonist of The Curious Incident is deliberately designed so that anyone reading the novel will regard him as a weirdo. The book is often praised for how well it portrays the mind of an autistic child, despite the fact that Mark Haddon has explicitly stated that the book was not made about somebody on the autistic spectrum, just someone who was an “outsider”. Real autistic people tend not to agree, and that makes sense, because the main character is the exact same “insufferable genius” archetype that gets called an unrealistic fetishized version of autism in shows like Sherlock and The Big Bang Theory that also aren’t actually about autistic people. He ticks all the stereotypes: socially awkward, brilliant at math and science, takes everything literally, looks down on the religious and others who hold “irrational” beliefs, etc. What distinguishes Christopher and Sheldon Cooper? Their ages, obviously, and Sheldon is slightly more intelligent, but beyond that, nothing really. But that’s not what bugged me about it the first time I read it. Unlike Catcher, Curious Incident actually has a plot-a “murder” mystery, to be precise-but goes out of its way to delay any advancement whatsoever until the very end. 99% of the novel is just long and detailed descriptions of things nobody cares about. The worst part of the novel is when Haddon/Christopher devotes an entire chapter to explaining why he doesn’t believe in God and you shouldn’t either. It’s not even relevant to what’s going on or is about to happen in the book, and it’s not like it even established character since Christopher has already made it clear that he is an atheist. There is absolutely no reason for it to be there, but Haddon just couldn’t resist explaining to theistic readers (of which I am not one) why he is right and they are wrong.
It’s gotta go in.
It’s a TV show next, and while there are oh so many TV shows I would love to see rot in Room 101, it was surprisingly easy to figure out which one was the absolute most abhorrent:
How I Met Your Mother
Another controversial choice, I know. But no matter how hard I try, I cannot make it through a single episode of this God-forsaken show. First of all, watch that clip up there. That’s supposedly the show at its best. At no point in watching that video was I even close to laughing or even smiling at a line. I’ve been told I need to watch five episodes or so to get “into it”; I start to feel my brain cells dying after five seconds.
But let’s ignore for the moment subjective judgments of humour. The basic premise of the show doesn’t make a lick of sense. How do you get NINE YEARS of television out of a father telling his kids a story? Not stories, mind you, but *one story*? Is this in some kind of alternate universe where people never have to do anything? The premise is really just a gimmicky distraction, anyway; the show is largely just about typical ensemble sitcom hijinx.
There are tons and tons of bad shows out there, but this is the only show I’ve ever hated so much that I find myself physically incapable of making it through an episode.
It’s an accomplishment, making a show this bad, but I don’t think I’m going to let it in. See, all sitcoms with laugh tracks are already in Room 101, so there is no point really.
The next one is a little hard to describe, so I’ll just tell you what it is:
This one is for purely personal reasons. My mother uses these CONSTANTLY. She has one for just about everybody. She even has cutesy nicknames for her cutesy nicknames. She tells me it’s her way of expressing love. And that may be. But surely there’s some other way to do so? One you don’t know that I hate?
Somehow, knowing there’s nothing really bad about cutesy nicknames that I can think of just makes me hate them more. I guess because I know it means I’ll never be able to get her to use them even slightly less.
Perhaps a part of it, is that I dislike reasonless cheerfulness. When you’re sad, angry, scared, bored, or even just apathetic towards your current situation, there’s nothing worse than a cheerful person. A cheerful person to me is a constant reminder that I’m not cheerful, and since, by definition, they’re always so happy being cheerful, I feel like I should be cheerful, and then I feel even worse because I feel like I’m doing something wrong by not being happy.
Hmmm… I don’t know. It’s really cheerful people that I object to, not cutesy nicknames, isn’t it? I guess it doesn’t go in then.
Up next is my most hated animal, and this is one I’m betting will be a popular choice:
I’ve had a phobia of spiders for a long time. No other living thing on Earth fills me with nearly as much revulsion as these little monsters. I’ve mostly gotten over it, but it used to be so bad that every time I turned around I would get this feeling that there would be a huge spider right behind me. I knew there was no way it would actually happen, but that didn’t make me any less constantly terrified.
Everything about spiders is utterly disgusting. Let’s start with their hair. Anything with hair that isn’t a mammal is just not right. Then there are the eyes. Y’know how they say the eyes are the windows to the soul? Have you ever looked into the eyes of a spider? They’re totally coal black. Then there are the webs. Did you know Darwin’s bark spiders have been known to spin webs of up to 82 feet? It’s really quite terrifying. The worst, though, are the ones that don’t spin webs-the tarantulas. Mostly because of what I said earlier-anything with hair that isn’t a mammal is just wrong. Hair is a sensory organ in most spiders, but for tarantulas it serves a second purpose-they can shoot hairs off their bodies at attackers! This won’t kill you, but it can cause you a lot of pain and, if it gets in your eyes, blindness. Did you know there exists a tarantula that preys on mice, rats, lizards, and hummingbirds? It’s called the goliath bird-eating spider, and width-wise, it’s about the size of a human face. It’s also not the largest spider in the world. If that doesn’t belong in Room 101, I don’t know what does. Then there are the handful that can kill you, of which the most venomous is the Brazilian wandering spider. Its venom can not only cause paralysis, asphyxiation, intense pain, and inflammation, it can also cause priapism. For those unaware, that is a painful erection that lasts for four hours or longer. Why? At what point in the course of evolution was there any kind of incentive to do that? Brazilian wandering spiders, like the aforementioned goliath, aren’t limited to eating insects-they also prey on frogs and lizards. Did I mention this is actually a genus, not a species? There are eight kinds of Brazilian wandering spider, because God exists, and he hates you very much. But at least you’re fine if you stay out of Brazil, right? Wrong! Not only is the Brazilian wandering spider native to several other parts of Central and South America, but it’s also known as the banana spider because it will sometimes hide inside banana plants, and banana shipping has transported them as far as England. Then there is the Sydney funnel-web spider, which is another highly toxic one. The Sydney funnel-web has a toxin which doesn’t affect mammals, except primates. If you’re reading this, that’s probably the kind of mammal you are. It’s not even some kind of weird monkey-eating spider. Like all things that come from Australia, it just really wants to kill you. Its venom can kill human children within as little as 15 minutes. Did I mention the funnel-web spider often bites repeatedly? Then there is one of the most horrifying, the wolf spider. It’s actually pretty harmless, but-well, just look at it:
Even Steve Irwin, who you may know as “the Crocodile Hunter”, or possibly the man who was once bit by a snake on live TV and didn’t even flinch, was freaked out by large spiders. They’re just utterly horrible.
But do they deserve to go into Room 101? I don’t think so. Sure, I’d never have to see one again, but so many mosquitoes and flies would be saved that it would just be a pyrrhic victory.
From my least favourite kind of animals, to my least favourite kind of humans, illustrated by this clip from The Princess Bride:
Hoi polloi which avail capacious altercation extending to hale pert externally percipient what they adumbrate
which is the thesaurusized version of:
People who use big words to sound smart without knowing what they mean
This, in my opinion, is the single most annoying thing a person can do. If at any point when reading someone’s writing, I ascertain that even a single word was taken directly from the thesaurus, I immediately stop taking anything they’ve written seriously. Really, when you do this, what you are saying is “my ideas are so stupid, that if I were to use all the right words to explain them, I would look even dumber.” Here are some rather amusing examples of this from around the web:
http://i.imgur.com/717mpyV.jpg – “[C]athartic abduction of my contacting device”? So it was forcibly taken in a way that provided psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions? And “gone […] vacuous”? So your phone has become lacking in thought or intelligence?
http://i.imgur.com/HEGpU2a.png –It’s kind of nice of this guy to leave a clarifying note for those of us who do know what the word “epitome” means.
http://imgur.com/btCbQhM –There is no way anyone has ever said “utilize bipedal locomotion” instead of “walk” in real life. You also can’t “traverse to” somewhere, only “traverse” something.
http://i.imgur.com/I24R329.png –Apparently a state of forced balance between musical forces can be foreseen at the point at which escape from the gravity of a black hole becomes impossible.
http://imgur.com/HqRvI12 –”Menacingly melodic malcontent metaphors”? What?
http://imgur.com/SyHZxJj –I have no idea where to even begin with this one.
http://imgur.com/eHVRjMr –This has too many errors to list, but most egregiously “derivate” isn’t even a verb.
http://imgur.com/E14Dr2r –Apparently the Salvation Army’s bell is angry and bitter.
These people always seem to have a certain reverence for anyone who wrote something considered a “classic”, and Shakespeare in particular. But what do the great authors think of them? Since this is Room 101, let’s start off with George Orwell:
“The key words in this kind of writing are ‘death’, ‘life’, ‘birth’, ‘sun’, ‘moon’, ‘womb’, ‘cosmic’ and ‘catastrophe’, and by free use of them the most banal statement can be made to sound picturesque, while what is outright meaningless can be given an air of mystery and profundity. Even the title of this book, ‘The Cosmological Eye’, doesn’t actually mean anything, but it sounds as though it ought to mean something.”
That’s from his review of Henry Miller’s The Cosmological Eye, and I think you can guess how he felt. Any other classic authors who could share their thoughts?
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”-Ernest Hemingway.
“Eschew surplusage.”-Mark Twain
“The sun becomes “that round orb of day” (as opposed, I expect, to those square orbs you see about so much lately); maple syrup is “Springtide’s liquid love gift from the heart of the maple wood”; the forest, by a stroke of inspiration, turns out to be “a cathedral of stately grandeur and never ceasing wonder and awe” (argue, if you will, for “cloying quicksand” as the phrase superb, but me, I’ll hold out for “stately grandeur”); the ocean – you’ll never guess – is “a broad expanse of sparkling silver” […] It is difficult to say whether Mrs. McPherson is happier in her crackling exclamations or in her bead-curtain-and-chenille-fringe style. Presumably the lady is happy in both manners. That would make her two up on me.”-Dorothy Parker, on Aimee Simple McPherson’s autobiography.
“The slightest matters have their vulgarity fumigated out of them by the same elevated style. Commonplace people would say that a copy of Shakspeare lay on a drawing-room table; but the authoress of “The Enigma,” bent on edifying periphrasis, tells you that there lay on the table, “that fund of human thought and feeling, which teaches the heart through the little name, ‘Shakspeare.'” A watchman sees a light burning in an upper window rather longer than usual, and thinks that people are foolish to sit up late when they have an opportunity of going to bed; but, lest this fact should seem too low and common, it is presented to us in the following striking and metaphysical manner: “He marvelled–as man will think for others in a necessarily separate personality, consequently (though disallowing it) in false mental premise,–how differently he should act, how gladly he should prize the rest so lightly held of within.” A footman–an ordinary Jeames, with large calves and aspirated vowels–answers the door-bell, and the opportunity is seized to tell you that he was a “type of the large class of pampered menials, who follow the curse of Cain–’vagabonds’ on the face of the earth, and whose estimate of the human class varies in the graduated scale of money and expenditure…. These, and such as these, O England, be the false lights of thy morbid civilization!” We have heard of various “false lights,” from Dr. Cumming to Robert Owen, from Dr. Pusey to the Spirit-rappers, but we never before heard of the false light that emanates from plush and powder.”-George Eliot, Silly Novels by Lady Novelists
“In his long-vanished day the Southern author had a passion for “eloquence”; it was his pet, his darling. He would be eloquent, or perish. And he recognized only one kind of eloquence—the lurid, the tempestuous, the volcanic. He liked words—big words, fine words, grand words, rumbling, thundering, reverberating words; with sense attaching if it could be got in without marring the sound, but not otherwise. He loved to stand up before a dazed world, and pour forth flame and smoke and lava and pumice-stone into the skies, and work his subterranean thunders, and shake himself with earthquakes, and stench himself with sulphur fumes. If he consumed his own fields and vineyards, that was a pity, yes; but he would have his eruption at any cost. Mr. Mc Clintock’s eloquence— and he is always eloquent, his crater is always spouting—is of the pattern common to his day, but he departs from the custom of the time in one respect: his brethren allowed sense to intrude when it did not mar the sound, but he does not allow it to intrude at all. For example, consider this figure, which he used in the village “Address” referred to with such candid complacency in the title-page above quoted—”like the topmost topaz of an ancient tower.” Please read it again; contemplate it; measure it; walk around it; climb up it; try to get at an approximate realization of the size of it. Is the fellow to that to be found in literature, ancient or modern, foreign or domestic, living or dead, drunk or sober? One notices how fine and grand it sounds. We know that if it was loftily uttered, it got a noble burst of applause from the villagers; yet there isn’t a ray of sense in it, or meaning to it.”-Mark Twain, “A Cure for the Blues”
“One superlatively important effect of wide reading is the enlargement of vocabulary which always accompanies it. The average student is gravely impeded by the narrow range of words from which he must choose, and he soon discovers that in long compositions he cannot avoid monotony. In reading, the novice should note the varied mode of expression practiced by good authors, and should keep in his mind for future use the many appropriate synonyms he encounters. Never should an unfamiliar word be passed over without elucidation; for with a little conscientious research we may each day add to our conquests in the realm of philology, and become more and more ready for graceful independent expression. But in enlarging the vocabulary, we must beware lest we misuse our new possessions. We must remember that there are fine distinctions betwixt apparently similar words, and that language must ever be selected with intelligent care.”-HP Lovecraft, emphasis mine
“13. Use the right word, not its second cousin.”-Mark Twain again, Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offences
I think the point is made. That said, I don’t think these people can go in. They serve a very valuable purpose, you see. If these people didn’t use big words in this manner, I would have to read through all of what they write before realizing they have nothing of value to say.
Next up, it’s a movie. I considered many movies for this, but ultimately one stood out below all others:
The Lightning Thief
Now it’s not so much The Lightning Thief as-well, no, it’s completely The Lightning Thief. But the bigger trend it represents, I suppose, is pointless changes in adaptations. That word there, “pointless”-that’s important. I don’t mind movie adaptations that change a lot from the book, so long as I can get a sense that they were trying to do something with it. The movie versions of The Hunger Games, for instance, make a lot of changes from the book. For example, the movies are much less focused on romance than the books. Also, while the books are told entirely from Katniss’s perspective, the movies add in a few scenes showing the inner workings of the Capitol. This isn’t to say that the film is better or worse, but the changes were in a specific direction.
By contrast, The Lightning Thief has more of a “change as many details as you can and hope something improves in the process” approach. Nothing does. It makes The Hunger Games look like a carbon copy of its source, and yet I honestly can’t tell you that it was more or less anything than the book. Aside from that it was more crappy, of course. This isn’t to say that it’s a horrible adaptation but a good movie on its own, as I have heard people say. The whole idea makes no sense because of the changes. In the book, it’s explained that the Greek gods and monsters go wherever the centre of Western civilization goes, which is why they are in America now. In the movie, the gods apparently just randomly moved to the top of the Empire State Building, and the monsters to America with them. In the book, it’s stated that monsters and other life forms without souls can’t die permanently-they crumble to dust if killed, but will regenerate with time. In the movie, monsters that were killed in Greek mythology are just suddenly alive again, for no reason whatsoever. In the book, the existence of the supernatural is kept secret from normal people, hence normal people not knowing about it. The movie OPENS with Poseidon appearing in giant form RIGHT IN FRONT of an apparently-normal fisherman! This could’ve easily been explained away if they had kept the Mist from the novel, but it isn’t mentioned (something rectified in the film’s only-barely-better sequel). I could go on.
There’s an off chance I could have tolerated all the nonsensical changes to the plot and world, were it not for the alterations made to the character’s personalities. “[A]lterations” is a poor choice of words there-the effects would be more accurately described as “obliterations”. As far as depth of characterization goes, the books may not be in level with spiritual predecessor Harry Potter, but everyone has some kind of a personality and almost every character has some endearing quality. In the movie… well, I’ve already told you.
And the film’s myriad pointless changes culminate in the ending, in which Luke Castellan, one of the MAIN CHARACTERS of the books, is killed off in the first movie. Yes, I know the second bullshitted its way out of this by explaining that Luke “can swim”, which explains why he didn’t drown, and how he survived being stabbed in the neck with a trident. Wait, that doesn’t sound right…
Even if everything else wasn’t already enough, that one scene would more than merit the film being put into Room 101.
Now, another group of people next:
[EDIT: With the exceptions of my friends Aleks and Mika, and my cousins the Arons. You guys are all awesome. In my defense, when I wrote this I hadn’t met Mika yet and didn’t realize Aleks had a dog. I have no excuse regarding the Arons.]
Now, it’s not all dog owners that I hate. What I’m really nominating is dog owners who can’t seem to comprehend that someone can not like dogs.
I have a mild phobia of big dogs. I don’t get scared just by looking at them, I just get nervous when they come near me. If I go to a house with a dog and I tell the owner this, 90% of the time I can guess the response: something along the lines of “It’s okay, he’s friendly”. I. DON’T. FUCKING. CARE. Phobias aren’t articles of clothing, you can’t just throw them out when you don’t want/need them.
I feel like I should say a little more, but this post is way too long as is, so I’ll just skip straight to the part where they’re going in.
Now, my final nomination. It’s another group of people, my most hated occupation this time:
First of all, I don’t like having my picture taken. That’s not enough to get me to put them in, but it’s a contributing factor in my decision.
Secondly, and this is the biggest, I don’t like being lied to. There are two kinds of professional photographers, in my experience. There’s the kind that tells you “one more” and then takes another fifty, and there’s the kind that tells you “one more” fifty times. That’s it. There is no third option.
Since I’m sure we both want to get this over with at this point, I’ll tell you now that they’re going in.
In conclusion, here’s a clip on special reprieve from Room 101 of a choir which can’t decide whether it’s more bored or confused.