Wednesday, January 07, 2015

F**k Yes or No

Read a great article by Mark Manson called “Fuck Yes or No.” He contends that relationships, dating, and mating dances need not be as complicated as they are. Basically you just eliminate all the grey areas and being in relationships where one partner is less enthused than the other. You say goodbye to all the intrigue and drama of trying to persuade someone to date you, sleep with you, marry you, buy your book about growing up in the ‘60s.

I’m distilling the article down to just a couple of paragraphs. But the gist is that if someone is not into you they never will be so move on. And if you’re not really into someone move on as well. So when you’re deciding about somebody your choices are “Fuck yes!” or “No.” Blow off all the game playing, arbitrary rules, etc.

The article, especially the way Mr. Manson details it, makes great sense. His arguments are logical, reasonable, and sound.  I wish I had read it while I was in college.  God, the years of therapy it would have saved me.

The only problem with "Fuck Yes or No" is for writers. On CHEERS we’d have no Sam & Diane if they followed this advice. If we couldn’t have mind fucking, power struggles, game playing, shifting attractions, illogical decisions, indecisions, hurt feelings, anger, embarrassment, misunderstandings, and aftershave jokes we’d have no show.

Same goes for all romantic comedies. Imagine Aaron Sorkin characters not over-thinking every molecule of their relationships. Or just watching Pam and Jim for a half hour each week answering phones and trying to drum up new business. If “Fuck Yes or No” was practiced on THE MINDY PROJECT there would just be thirty minutes of Mindy mugging (not to mention the problem this would cause ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY radio on Sirius/XM if they couldn’t speculate on her love life for six hours a day).

For us writers, messiness, conflict, damaged egos, lying, false expectations, and lovers making asses of themselves is the oxygen we breathe. In our world bad sex is good sex. For artistic purposes life is still High School. For Mr. Manson’s REAL world life is Costco.

What do you guys think?

45 comments:

Jeannette said...

Oh, it's great advice. I'm just not sure it applies to real life.

Jim S said...

Don't worry Ken, there are logical rules for a lot of things that people ignore that produce drama/comedy.

For example, my son drove drunk and hit a car and drove off. Logic and the law says I turn him in. But I love the schmuck so I don't. I learn there was someone in that car who was crippled for life. I am supposed to turn him in.

There have been movies starring Liam Neeson and Meryl Streep built around this scenario.

Face it, people are messed up and often don't do the smart or logical or moral thing. Writers need not worry.

Carol said...

Does this mean we can blame you television writers for 'The Friendzone'? :)

Hamid said...

to date you, sleep with you, marry you, buy your book about growing up in the ‘60s.

LOL. Priceless!

Scooter Schechtman said...

Several episodes of "Louis" are centered on the Fuck Yes or No construct, as well as the suspense of Is Pam Adlon Going To Show Some Skin This Episode?

Diane D. said...

In the movie "Grand Canyon" one character tells another, "That's your problem, you don't see enough movies. All life's questions are answered in the movies." Then, sure enough, in that same movie, one of my big questions was answered. The answer was, "We are BORN to ruin our lives, break our hearts, and love the wrong people."

As Jim S said, "writers need not worry."

Charles H. Bryan said...

There were a number of good stories about Mr. Spock, who was allegedly ruled by logic and, every so many years, by raging spinning-eyed lust.

I think the well of human weirdness and stupidity will not soon run dry, so drink deeply, writers, drink deeply. Give us your spit takes.

RockGolf said...

Ken: A possible Friday question.

In light of the horrible murders in Paris, have you or a show you've worked on ever received death threats due to the contents of the material?

McAlvie said...

Yep, that's the logical way to do it, but since when are human beings logical? People are mostly messed up, and so afraid of not being partnered up that they settle for scum and tell themselves that nobody is perfect. And then they spend the next decade whining.

Hamid said...

I know this isn't a political blog, as Ken has mentioned before, but picking up on RockGolf's question, today's tragedy in Paris was sickening to say the least. The PC brigade in the UK - I don't know how it is in the US - shuts down any debate on islamofascism with the fraudulent mantra "islam is peace", repeated ad nauseam every time a new massacre takes place.

This week there's been a striking contrast in middle east related politics. Islamofascists massacre 12 people in Paris for publishing cartoons in the same week that Israel, which is frequently the subject of vitriolic coverage in Europe and boycotts by politically correct thought police who often smear it as being brutal, sentenced a Hamas terrorist to imprisonment for murder. Not tortured, not killed, but put on trial and then imprisoned for murder. Now, which is the civilised side?

I can say that here on this forum or among my friends, but say that in many circles in London or elsewhere and you're shouted down by idiots who scream islamaphobia and vow to boycott Israel, which is just their thinly veiled anti-semitism.

Sorry to get so serious but today's events were horrifying and I needed to get that off my chest.

On a lighter note, I saw Birdman recently and it's brilliant. I hope Keaton wins Best Actor!

normadesmond said...



if we all used that logic, only
a small fraction would be coupled.

..................compromise.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Writers have to romanticize life. For instance...on TV, every couple are able to have sex constantly, and they are all amazing at it. 2, 3, 4 times a night with everyone having orgasmic results each time.
Not just the Sam Malones, but the nerds on the Big Bang Theory are also amazing lovers.

Anonymous said...

I think you shouldn't use "sitcom" and "artistic purposes" in the same sentence. Sitcoms are math equations written by hack writers, and have nothing to do with art.
Most sitcom writers are secretly, or openly, miserable people. They should be. It may have gotten them a nice house, a nice car, but the job sucks, and they have to pretend it doesn't, else they're an ingrate or troublemaker or whatever.
It's a miserable, shallow life, but I guess, like picking strawberries, somebody has to do it.
Swallowing your existential irrelevance has nothing to do with art. It's a racket, full of all the personality types that are attracted to rackets. Nothing more.

willieb said...

What I've never been able to understand -- and this may be a Friday question in disguise -- is why sitcoms cannot cope with couples once they are married and have children. Writers are great at the stop-and-start, will-they-or-won't-they romances -- but once they do, sitcom writers are lost. Why? Most of us get married, have kids, and have family lives with tons of funny stories attached. Why do writers lose the funny when couples finally couple?

benson said...

God help us if everything happened based off of first impressions.

But, if you're honestly not into somebody, why are you wasting their time and your own?

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Diane D: I loved GRAND CANYON, but neither of those is the line that stuck with me. Which is, when Mary Louise Parker's character quits and tries to explain to Kevin Kline's character why and gives up and just says she's leaving: "This doesn't have to make sense."

As for Ken's original posting, I have to say it's nice to see the rest of the world catching up with me. I've never had the *patience* to keep that sort of effort going for long.

wg
Last posting captcha attempts: 9

VP81955 said...

Anonymous said...

The PC brigade in the UK -- I don't know how it is in the US -- shuts down any debate on islamofascism with the fraudulent mantra "islam is peace," repeated
ad nauseam every time a new massacre takes place.

Whomever perpetrated this terrible crime no more represents Islam's ideals than the Westboro Baptist Church represents those of the entirety of Christianity.

And to (perhaps) another Anonymous comment, I think you shouldn't use "sitcom" and "artistic purposes" in the same sentence. Sitcoms are math equations written by hack writers, and have nothing to do with art., I'm guessing you've never seen the "Chuckles Bites The Dust" ep of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" or some gems from "Seinfeld" or "Frasier," among others, because they definitely qualify as artistry every bit as much as the best romantic comedies from Ernst Lubitsch or Frank Capra/Robert Riskin.

Or perhaps you're one of those TV snobs who turns their nose at sitcoms, particularly the dreaded multi-camera, live-audience sort...in which case I suggest you go back to NPR to listen to David Bianculli and his crowd.

blinky said...

Speaking of Mindy...Here is a Friday question: How do you think the character a big star decides to play effects the believability and story options of a show. Bill Cosby went with Doctor because his wife wanted a more aspirational black character on TV. Mindy is a Doctor I think to show a women as a successful role model. But her character is a ditz and would be funnier if she was a struggling med student or fashion designer.

Julie said...

My mother died last week. Reading this post, I could hear her voice in my head, commenting, "Well, I suppose Mrs. Manson is just as proud as can be that the whole world knows her son is a potty mouth."

Sorry. Pertains to nothing. Please continue.

Cap'n Bob said...

I'm with Julie. This trend of using expletives in titles and articles reminds me of bratty children who just learned dirty words and feel compelled to repeat them endlessly.

Jason said...

"Mindy is a Doctor"

Yeah, but you only even know that because once in a while they use the word "doctor".. it could BE a fashion studio and little would change in the show.

Chris said...

I think life would be so much better if everyone would stop being just a little coy and game-y and saying something other than what they really wanted to. Just... who's going to start and hope nobody laughs at them?

That said, I've gotten more interviews with cover letters that skew or eschew the standard polite/passive cover letter model just a little bit.

And I started dating my girlfriend nine years ago. It was a great coffee date, a lovely time, but I just... couldn't... you know how you can just read some people? I was confused, it was confusing. Which is when she asked the question that we still laugh about now:

"Do you want to go back to your place and have sex?"

Tony said...

Julie: My condolences.

I can relate. My mother is the same way. A very proper lady. Funny thing is, my dad the ex-marine is far from proper and has a mouth that can make a boatload of hardened sailors blush. They've made it work, though. Thirty plus years and seven children. Go figure.

Oh yeah, Mark Manson. I have no problem at all with what he said. I have no doubt that it's excellent advice. Unfortunately, people being people, it strikes me as the kind of idealized advice you read in self-help books that is short on applicability in the real world, given how people have always been and will likely continue to be.

Hamid said...

VP81955

I don't know why you referred to me as Anonymous, my name's right there. As for the terrorists not representing islam, I'm sorry but they do. It's right there in their texts.

Chris

Your girlfriend's question is very similar to the Frasier episode in which lawyer Samantha asks Frasier: "Can we just go some place and have sex?"

DBenson said...

Hamid said...
VP81955
As for the terrorists not representing islam, I'm sorry but they do. It's right there in their texts.

-----------------------------

We have all kinds of wignuts, sleazebags and SOBs asserting that they represent Christianity, the Constitution, science, and/or majority sentiment. They don't, and we all know it. I don't see why terrorists are any more trustworthy.

At best, they might have gone the Bin Laden route and shopped around for a fringe "holy man" to rubber-stamp what they felt like doing.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Writers are people who explore the difference between what we think we know about ourselves and reality. It's all right to say to people that thye shoud 'follow their heart' or as a shortcut, only think in 'fuck yes or no' terms when it comes to relationships. But psychiatry has found out that many times when we think 'fuck yes or no' we are not listenening to the best part of our heart or mind, but to some hidden drive,like a pretty girl falling for a rich guy or people marrying their father of mother because of unresolved issues. If Sam and Diana went back and ofrth in their relationship it wasn't because of a lack of abillity to make a clear choice, it was because clear choices were not in their system and one of them always knew if something was wrong. So maybe it sounds true to say that someone who is not into you never will be, but on the other hand, you may sense he or she has something to work out before he is ready to love and that in itself may be a cause for a funny plot. 'Fuck yes or no' is a quick cure for a society that believes that all we have to do to become happy is to follow our true feelings. And in fact that there is such a thing as true feeling. While in fact, feelings change all the time, because they are never true and always steered by the unconscious. Hmmm, how I'd love to write a character like this writer and show how messed up his life is - or will be in a couple of years.

Hamid said...

DBenson

I'm sorry but while I know you mean well, this is precisely the sort of apologetics that certain elements of the left have peddled for far too long. It's not a coincidence that every muslim country has despotic rule and sharia law that allows child marriage and marital rape, among other depraved laws. The cognitive dissonance of the politically correct means they've comfortably shielded themselves from the content of islamic texts but it's all there: marrying pre-pubescent girls, commands to kill atheists, apostates, Christians and Jews. It's no coincidence that Iran hosted a conference devoted entirely to Holocaust denial at which invited guests included David Duke of the KKK.

Anyway, I don't want to prolong this subject, as I'm conscious of Ken's previous comments about it not being a political blog. I've given my views.

On the topic, I've known couples who got together after much persistence by the guy. It's a tough call to make, though, because it's difficult to know when it's right to be persistent and when it might come off as just harassment. I personally don't go the persistence route. If someone isn't interested, I move on.

Janet said...

The only times I've ever really fallen for people are when it has started quite slowly and they did chase me. There was no "f**k yes" about it. I very, very slowly over time opened my heart and saw small things over and over that made me fall. I can't imagine being sure so quickly.

And I've heard many a beautiful story about someone trying to get someone else for years before the person relented - and then that resulting in a long, happy, prosperous marriage.

Also, I think of myself as an extremely logical person. (I'm even called Spock sometimes by friends.) Yet the one thing I've learned is that love is sooooo not logical.

Diane D. said...

Interesting, Janet. I never felt differently about a man than I did on the first date, no matter how long we dated (always a short time), until I met the right one. We had a 3 day romance and I didn't see him again for 2 months when we met at the alter. We definitely felt like it was F**k yes, but I don't think it has to be that way.Diane

Jeff C in DC said...

The Fifth Element when the villain Zorg (Gary Oldman!) smashes a water glass from his desk and all the robots scurry out to clean it up. He explains that by destroying things people gain a purpose in life, making things to do the cleaning up and then building new things...that then need to be smashed and cleaned up again.

Great, great scene, and always reminds of Bill Gates during the buildup of Microsoft. Messy is what people know and crave, and harmony is what - a sterile (and brief) bedtime story? Melodrama is such a disappointment, and such a cashflow.

YEKIMI said...

Girls I have asked out have had this story down pat long before this guy wrote about it. They had no problem saying "No" immediately, although some didn't say no.....they said "No fucking way!" So now I just don't bother.

Pat Reeder said...

Without all the dithering and second thoughts and misunderstandings, there would be no complications that are the building blocks of romantic comedy. On the other hand, it can be stretched out way too long. Our local TV station has recently been rerunning the last two seasons of "Friends," and the endless ludicrous ways in which the writers had to break up Ross and Rachel and get them back together again had me wanting to slap the whole lot of them.

Anonymous said...

That's not so romanticized. I have sex to orgasm almost every night of my life. Sometimes a couple of times a day.

Unfortunately, my wife is rarely able to participate more than once a week or so.

Johnny Walker said...

Comedian Josie Long wrote a simple line which I always liked: "If it's 80% right, it's 100% wrong."

The only problem is how long do you leave it before making a decision? If you're "Fuck Yes!" for two years, and then have a week of "80% right", do you throw all that away? Of course not, but where do you draw the line?

Still plenty of mileage for writers! :)

skarab said...


TV wouldn't be entertaining if characters made intelligent choices! Then there's this definition of fiction: Create characters that the audience will love, then make them SUFFER!

Johnny Walker said...

Hamid, if you condemn all Muslims for their faith you're no better than the fundamentalists that condemn all atheists.

One in five people on this planet is Muslim (actually nearly one in four). To suggest that all of them support those brutal murders is beyond ignorant, and right in the middle of hatred. No wonder your experience such hostility for your views.

As for judging religion by its texts, then you must also conclude that all Christians believe it's OK to own slaves, rape, sell their children, and that all women are subservient to men... because that's what the Bible says.

Hamid said...

Johnny

The difference is that Christianity had a reformation, an age of enlightenment which brought it partially into the modern age. There has been no such occurrence in islam. It's still stuck in its 7th century roots.

And for all the fundamentalist Christians there are, you never hear about them massacring a publisher over a cartoon. It's ironic how the PC gang feel relaxed about mocking Christians, whom they claim to be a bigger threat than their muslim friends, but are terrified of saying anything critical about the so-called religion of peace.

Vast swathes of Europe, including the UK, are now muslim-only areas. Their populations are steadily increasing and it's all with the intent of fulfilling their religion's object of a global caliphate.

It's a tad oversimplified just to say "not all muslims are terrorists". Well, OK, but then all the savagery that goes on in islamic countries and behind closed doors in Europe and elsewhere aren't strictly "terrorism" either - female genital mutilation, child marriages, forced marriages, so-called "honor" killings, marital rape, sex slavery, stopping girls from having an education or getting a job, rape victims being stoned to death and gays and lesbians being executed (Iran holds public executions which are treated as family days out, where parents bring their kids, a packed lunch and their mobile phones to take photos of the gay men being hung, something the left in Britain is strangely silent about). I love how the politically correct like to pretend it's just coincidence that all these things happen in islamic countries and in islamic communities.

I'll finish with a simple question: when was the last time a train, plane, shopping mall, school, magazine publishers or cafe was blown up by a Christian, Jew, Buddhist, agnostic, atheist, Zoroastrian, Sikh, Hindu or Bahá'í?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Johnny Walker said...

More Hamid:
It's ironic how the PC gang feel relaxed about mocking Christians, whom they claim to be a bigger threat than their Muslim friends, but are terrified of saying anything critical about the so-called religion of peace.

Who are you referring to here? Nothing I said mocked Christianity, in fact the point was quite the opposite.

Vast swathes of Europe, including the UK, are now Muslim-only areas. Their populations are steadily increasing and it's all with the intent of fulfilling their religion's object of a global caliphate.

Part of me is wondering if you're actually saying all this to see if you find anyone to agree with you... and then point out how wrong they are.

As a fellow Brit, I'd love for you to tell me which areas are "Muslim only", and also exactly what that means. Would I be shot for walking down a "Muslim only" street?

Your long list of "facts" sound like they've come directly from a hate group forum. There's so much ignorance mixed in with the lies, exaggerations and half truths it's hard to know where to begin. You sound like Fox News, or as we call it here in the UK, the Daily Mail.

When everyone is telling you you're an Islamaphobe, maybe it's time you stopped and wondered if they're right.

I hope you see sense one day, Hamid. Happy new year.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Having now read the Fuck yes or no article, ISTM this is already a movie based on the *last* such book: HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU.

wg
Last captcha efforts: 12.

La Guapa said...

Hamid says: "The difference is that Christianity had a reformation, an age of enlightenment which brought it partially into the modern age. There has been no such occurrence in islam. It's still stuck in its 7th century roots."

You clearly don't understand what the Reformation (capital R) was about. It had nothing to do with the things being discussed here, and it only lead to the creation of the Christian Protestant church, a splinter from the Catholic Church. The Catholic church underwent no such Reformation which means that Johnny's point still stands.

Nobody in the Christian faith ever decided as a group to ignore certain passages in the Bible, as you seem to be claiming, before, during or after the Reformation.

Hamid says: "Vast swathes of Europe, including the UK, are now muslim-only areas. Their populations are steadily increasing and it's all with the intent of fulfilling their religion's object of a global caliphate."

You sound like Hitler talking about the Jews. Sorry, my bad, you're different, because YOU'RE right.

Hamid says: "Iran holds public executions which are treated as family days out, where parents bring their kids, a packed lunch and their mobile phones to take photos of the gay men being hung, something the left in Britain is strangely silent about"

Britain isn't silent about it, it actively condemns it on a regular basis. Iran is a VERY messed up place, but that's nothing to do with Islam. Such things don't take place in Indonesia or Turkey, for example.

Hamid says: "I'll finish with a simple question: when was the last time a train, plane, shopping mall, school, magazine publishers or cafe was blown up by a Christian, Jew, Buddhist, agnostic, atheist, Zoroastrian, Sikh, Hindu or Bahá'í?"

You realize that the KKK is a "Christian" group, don't you? What about the terrorist group the Lord's Resistance Army? The conflict in Central Africa? Are you aware of any of these things?

Atheists? What about Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot?

Buddhists? What about their persecution of the Muslims in Burma? Do you not count that because their targets were Muslim?

Hamid, when everyone is telling you you're dead, it's time to lie down.

Hamid said...

Who are you referring to here? Nothing I said mocked Christianity, in fact the point was quite the opposite.

I wasn't referring to you, I said the general PC brigade in the UK.

Part of me is wondering if you're actually saying all this to see if you find anyone to agree with you... and then point out how wrong they are.

I guess you missed all the news in the last year about Operation Trojan, which found several secular schools had been taken over by extremist muslims who were segregating boys and girls and telling them suicide bombers are great, or the news about industrial scale abuse of thousands of girls in northern towns by muslim grooming gangs who were known to attend local mosques where the preachers told them non-muslim underage girls are "whores" and legitimate targets for rape and all the pleas by the girls to social services and the police fell on deaf ears because social workers, council officials and police said they were scared of being seen as racist if they arrested the rapists, or the news that halal meat (which is a barbaric form of butchery) is now in mainstream circulation without our knowledge.

As a fellow Brit, I'd love for you to tell me which areas are "Muslim only", and also exactly what that means. Would I be shot for walking down a "Muslim only" street?

I guess you also missed the news about the Muslim Patrol gang in London who terrorised people late at night, telling a man to throw away his alcoholic drink because he was in a "muslim area", telling a woman she shouldn't be wearing a skirt and threatening a gay man to get out of the area because he was a "dirty poof". Or the news about the Vue cinema in the north that was taken over by muslims who refused entry to non-muslims during Ramadan. Or the news about the park where a sign was put up saying it's a muslim park and dogs aren't welcome.

Your long list of "facts" sound like they've come directly from a hate group forum. There's so much ignorance mixed in with the lies, exaggerations and half truths it's hard to know where to begin. You sound like Fox News, or as we call it here in the UK, the Daily Mail.

Yeah, I guess the news about 300 girls abducted by Boko Haram and sold into sex slavery is only on hate forums. Oh, wait, no, it was reported everywhere worldwide, as were stories about FGM, honor killings, child marriages and the stoning to death of rape victims. These forums must have magical powers to actually create real corpses and mutilated girls.

When everyone is telling you you're an Islamaphobe, maybe it's time you stopped and wondered if they're right.

No such thing as islamaphobia. There's nothing irrational about being scared of people who constantly talk about wanting to murder you.

I hope you see sense one day

If seeing sense means being an apologist and an enabler for an ideology that has killed millions of people throughout history and is murdering people all over the world literally every day, then I'm happy to be irrational.

I won't comment any further on this as it's Ken's blog and I know he doesn't want endless political arguments.

Happy new year to you too and I hope you spare a thought for the 12 people yesterday who lost their lives because three rabid lunatics decided they needed to get revenge on behalf of their pedophile prophet.

Charlie said...

Can you two kindly find another forum to carry on this discussion, or just email each other? Most of the rest of us would appreciate it. Thanks.

Carson said...

While his advice is sound, not only do few people practice it - it isn't human nature to look at a relationship in such black and white terms. If it was, he never would have had to write that article.

As a writer of sitcoms where the comedy came very much from the characters, Ken, you've got a great handle on how people think and behave (like lunatics). Love makes people do stupid (and also crazy/silly/occasionally deadly) things. Your characters cling to the hope of a relationship beginning/continuing/etc. because we as people are built that way. You've got us pegged.

So while you will find the occasional man or woman who can turn their feelings off like a faucet, or at minimum subscribe to the 'He's Not That Into You" way of looking at dating (which I found to be dead on), most of us human beings cater to our intrinsic need to be loved and will bend over backwards and jodi-mind trick ourselves that there's hope that the one we're with wants us as much as we want them. We identify with Sam and Dianes of the world because we are Sam and Diane.

Anonymous said...

Can you two kindly find another forum to carry on this discussion, or just email each other? Most of the rest of us would appreciate it. Thanks.

You know what? When somebody named Ken Levine tells us to take the discussion elsewhere, we'll take the discussion elsewhere. Until then, it's none of your fucking business. Bo butt out.

Ken Levine said...

Okay, I am officially requesting we end this discussion thread. I am fond of both of you but this is not the blog for that kind of forum.

Thanks much for your cooperation.