The Perfect Metaphor

Still on the Resnick/Malzberg thing. I’ve been trying to figure out how to model what could possibly have been going on in these guys’ heads, because they’re not stupid, whatever they might’ve been displaying recently. Ferret Steinmetz hit it perfectly.

When you do something very difficult in an Xbox game, you get an Achievement. It’s a fizzy little thrill, not unlike winning a scratch-off lottery ticket: you vanquish a difficult boss and there’s a blip noise, then an alert at the bottom of the screen: ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED.

You’re told the name of your special Achievement. It is added to your profile, and is yours forevermore.

There appear to be a lot of feisty old dudes who think they’re awesome at this equality thing.

Here’s the thing: by 1970s standards? I’m sure all of these gentlemen were enlightened. Compared to the treatment women, gays, and blacks got from mainstream society at the time, these dudes were well ahead of the curve. And at the time, they deserved all the credit for going above and beyond ordinary treatment. Still do, in a certain sense.

The problem is, in their heads, they Achievement Unlocked. They became Good To Girls, or Friend To The Negro, or Comfortable With Homos. And that badge could never be removed. Once they’d proven their magnificent tolerance in the crucible of the Issues of the Day, they never had to question their position again.

That’s it, right there. Steinmetz nailed it completely. Click through to read the whole thing. I hope Resnick and Malzberg do, and that it makes a lightbulb go off in their heads.


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Angela Benedetti lives in Seattle with her husband and a few thousand books. She loves romance for the happy endings, for the affirmation that everyone who's willing to fight for love deserves to get it and be happy with someone. She's best known for her Sentinel series of novels, the most recent of which is Captive Magic.