WTFometer IV

Comixminx has devised the WFTometer, the idea of which “was to give a framework for looking at how bonkers (or not) a story’s plot was, by comparing the story to an assumed ‘average reader’s situation’. This gives a structured way of comparing stories, including the possibility of finding patterns of oddity in seemingly different stories which are perhaps odd in similar ways”.

In this WFTometer post I take three well-remembered stories from Jinty that all deal with bullying. They are Tears of a Clown, Waves of Fear and The Slave of Form 3B. The purpose of selecting the bullying theme is to see how the seriousness and effects of the bullying situations in the stories fare on the WFTometer. WTFometer Tears of a Clown In the first, “Tears of a Clown”, Kathy Clowne is subject to teasing, cruel tricks and bullying because of her name and she is clumsy, slow to learn and considered hopeless at everything. The effects of the bullying wear her further down, causing her schoolwork to deteriorate even more. Neither her parents nor school authorities step in to investigate the problem or help Kathy. They also consider Kathy hopeless at everything, fit only to be laughed at, and also a troublemaker because her lashing out at the bullies is misconstrued as violence. Worst of all, the ringleader (or sometimes fate) keeps sabotaging her attempts to prove her talent for running – until Kathy is pushed too far and uses her talent to run away. The psychological effects of the bullying, lack of friends, the outstanding talent for running, and the unusual dog who becomes Kathy’s pet scores “Tears of a Clown” a 20 on the WFTometer. Physical security remains standard as the bullying is not physically abusive or a physical risk, nor does Kathy face any physical danger during her time on the run. WTFometer Waves of Fear

The second story, “Waves of Fear”, scores a 37. The scoring is much higher, mainly because the emotional and mental security of the heroine, Clare Harvey is rated “extreme” for two reasons. First, she is actually mentally ill, which is something extremely unusual for the heroine to be. Second, her illness  (extreme claustrophobia) has been misconstrued as cowardice (and then violent behaviour as it deteriorates further) because it caused her to panic and flee while her friend was drowning in a cave. As a result, Clare not only suffers ostracism and abuse at school and in the community but also from her own parents. They treat her extremely harshly, abuse her emotionally, and neither they nor the headmistress take any action against the bullying Clare is experiencing at school, although they are fully aware of it and it almost got Clare killed when it went too far at one point. Instead, the parents drag Clare straight back to the bullying environment, regardless of how terrified she is of it. The scoring is high on physical danger as well, because Clare’s life is not only put in danger twice but she is driven to the brink of suicide when she also runs away because of the bullying, emotional abuse and her worsening mental state. WTFometer Slave of Form 3B The last story, “The Slave of Form 3B”, is considered the most over-the-top bullying story in Jinty because of the form the bullying takes. Instead of the more usual teasing, blackmail, or emotional and physical abuse the bully, Stacey, uses mind control techniques (hypnotism and telepathy) on her victim, Tania, in order to cheat, steal and sabotage her way to the Girl of the Year Award while cunningly planting suggestions to cut Tania off from avenues of help. Stacey’s manipulation escalates to near death for Tania because of Stacey’s ruthless disregard for her victim, even when Tania gets seriously injured because of Stacey, yet Stacey will not seek help because she just wants to protect herself. Instead, Stacey tries to hide the injured Tania and then cover up with more hypnotism, despite Tania’s worsening condition. It scores a 37 on the WFTometer, tying it with “Waves of Fear”. It might score higher if more information was given about Tania’s background (family structure, parents, pets etc), but we have to go by what we are given in the story.

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4 thoughts on “WTFometer IV

  1. Great stuff Mistyfan! Lovely to see the WTFometer being applied by others. I am interested in the results – “Waves of Fear” to me is a story that seems in some ways lower-key than “Slave of Form 3B” in some ways, because it is more realistic and less ‘camp’ – but that doesn’t stop it from scoring just as highly on the WTFometer. A psychologically realistic story can still score highly on the meter, because it can still be extreme and unexpected: this analysis is not only looking at bonkersness as such, I guess.

    1. Thank you. I think where Slave of Form 3B fell down a bit was not enough information about Tania’s background. For example, her parents may be wealthy if they can send her to boarding school – or she may be there on a scholarship – but we’re not told. If they were wealthy, the small difference there would push Slave of Form 3B ahead of Waves of Fear. It may push ahead even more if we knew more about Tania’s parents, pets at home etc. As it is, the extremes of the mental and emotional security of Clare Harvey pushed Waves of Fear up to tie with a story that could well have come up on top.

      By the way, I am thinking of a WFTometer on three historical Jinty stories next.

      1. Indeed, but as you say in the text, we can only go by what is given to us – the question of whether her parents are wealthy or not is literally not part of the story.

        Good to hear there are more WTFometers planned! I like the idea of doing themes with them, I think we can potentially see interesting links. I am expecting some new-to-me early issues of Jinty so I will post about them once they arrive. Maybe something to do at some point is to see how high (or not) the stories in the early issues score, compared to later ones.

    2. Both Tears of a Clown and Waves of Fear were based in realism (another reason I think they were written by the same person) while Slave of Form 3B was more camp and over the top.

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