SOMETHING AWFUL vs. SOMETHING DISGUSTING.Ya know, when SomethingAwful.com takes a clear position on something, I often disagree with them since they have a tendency to take soft liberal positions on various things and I don't.
I am pleased to see that there is one important issue with which I wholeheartedly agree with them, the issue of women who make awful Internet shrines to their stillborn babies.
On Monday, Zack "Geist Editor" Parsons featured one such DBW (Dead Baby Website) as the "Awful Link of the Day". Not only did it feature the usual bad poetry and possibly midis and "Now you're in heaven with Jesus and angels" platitudes, it also had the most disturbing feature of all for these sites, a very grotesque trend of showing Photoshopped pictures of the stillborn kids either wearing normal baby clothes or as angels, which isn't even Biblical, I might add. (Angels were around from the beginning, according to the Bible, they aren't the ghosts of dead people. It's a Wonderful Life lied to you. So did that maudlin "The Littlest Angel" story, which is a mainstay of the Paul Reid Christmas Special CJAD insists on dusting off every year.)
I'm not making that up, by the way. There's a whole cottage industry of sites that will touch up pictures of stillborn babies with Adobe Photoshop.
So, anyway, apparently the person to whom the site belonged was a member of some webring of mothers with Dead Baby Websites, and they all started sending very angry and spiteful e-mail to Zack Parsons, which he tried to politely respond to for a while, but, soon, he realized that the DBW women have a sick pathology and cannot be reasoned with rationally, so his patience wore out and he returned their rudeness and collected some of the e-mails and replies in an article entitled "We're All Gonna Be Dirt in the Ground".
My favourite excerpt:
"She uses the term Mr very loosely.
Mr Parsons (and i use the the term Mr very loosely)
How dare you use peoples heartbreak as your own humour... The person you have posted about who is mourning the loss of her babies is a friend of mine, i met her through a charity of wonderful supportive women who havent been blessed with fortune of having a living baby. I myself have lost 4 babies and it tears my heart out everyday.
You disgust me!
I was done playing around.Your poison womb is making heaven too fucking crowded.
That shut one up at least, but many more continued to email me."
I must warn you that the article includes a couple of unretouched photos from DBW sites that are not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomache. Parsons included several paragraphs of buffer space which should serve as a warning not to scroll down if such things make you nauseous. I mean, I'm pro-life on the abortion issue, but even I'll admit these lifeless fetuses look like a mutant hybrid of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and, well, a turd. Look, you have a stillborn kid or a miscarriage, it's a shame, but... either have the doctor deal with the remains or have a prompt burial or cremation. I don't think it's appropriate to take photographs of it (other than for medical education purposes); I don't think photos of stillborn kids really serve any useful purpose. Is it really something you want to be reminded of, what a lifeless, partially-formed child looks like? Most people don't take photos of their dead relatives in coffins or collapsed on the ground, and those are people they had a chance to know as more than just the occasional kick in the uterus or an ultrasound picture. Some things do not need to be immortalized by Kodak or Nikon. And, for the love of god, don't Photoshop them to pretend they were alive outside the womb, and especially don't put them on the Internet. It is not cute. It is not inspiring or touching. It is just macabre. Plain and simple macabre. Much worse than the goriest zombie movie, because zombies are all prosthetics, make-up, dummies, or other practical or computer-generated effects from masters like Tom Savini, not real things that were once alive, however briefly, but now are lifeless like the remains seen in those photos.
Parsons included a paragraph explicitly stating that he's not insensitive to or making fun of parents of stillborn children. He just doesn't care for how a small minority of women who miscarried "turn [their] self-perpetuating and obsessive grieving process into a public circus of grotesquery."
Zack Parsons also made a fake shrine to his (probably fictional) stillborn son, Connor, with photos of "Connor", who looks like a McDonald's hash brown with fake googly eyes wrapped in a swaddling cloth, being posed with photos of Jesus and being presented with Beanie Babies he'd never get to appreciate (if he were a real dead baby. which he's not). Zack also wrote a poem which, unfortunately, probably isn't that far from the truth for a lot of these people.
"Oh Connor, sweet Connor,
Mommy knows you're in heaven above,
You are a precious angel,
Rather than adopting or moving on you get my love.
Oh Connor, sweet Connor,
If I ever manage to not miscarry a baby,
I promise to make him fight me for attention,
And every time I say his name yours will also get a mention."
The problem as I see it is that well-meaning pop psychologists with books on bereavement to sell and appearances on Oprah and Dr. Phil to procure have codified the "grieving process" into being something that is quite narcissistic. I'm sure they started off with good intentions, trying to help women, and the fathers, to a lesser degree, cope with an unfortunate event that is a small-scale tragedy that can even be a little traumatic.
I can see the point of giving your stillborn baby a name, just as a psychological defense to make a traumatizing medical event that is cold and clinical a little more personal.
But, there is something to be said for good old-fashioned stoicism. Something good in the long term. A stillborn child should be something you grieve for a couple of days about and then get over. Stiff upper lip and all that. The pop psychologists of the world, however, encourage women, intentionally or not, to treat bereavement as a lifelong process and the actions of the sort the DBW women take enshrines the grief as a central focal point of their lives and that can't be positive at all. And a lot of the support groups, which Zack Parsons helpfully linked to, don't help in a positive way; they just reinforce the pathology of obsessing a bit too much on unfortunate events and never moving on.
Giving these people the Something Awful treatment, by which I mean the way Zack did it and not the "Forum Goons" going to their message boards and posting pictures of "Tubgirl" and "Goatse", might seem harsh, but these people need a good cold dose of brutal honesty to snap them out of their condition of self-perpetuating, narcissistic chronic grief. They shouldn't focus so much on and make a public macabre display of one small tragedy, or even several small tragedies, in their past, and then go on to make such a macabre public display of it, and the supporting Internet "communities" that make them believe that it's normal to make macabre websites like that are simply very misguided and only serve to reinforce these negative behaviours.
It's my unprofessional opinion, but I think stoicism is just common sense.