Marvel does it better

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Against all my better judgement I went and saw Suicide Squad over the weekend. It’s not that I hated it, I didn’t really. I didn’t love it though, and I knew that this was most likely going to be the case despite the high hopes I had for it. I really wanted to love it, but when one of my friends asked me (knowing my extensive knowledge and love for comic books) to predict how I was going to come out of the theater feeling, I responded: I want to like it so much and have high hopes, but pretty sure it’s going to be like every other DC film. I’m going to come out of it not hating it necessarily, but will more than likely be disappointed at the narrative and missed opportunities for rich character development.

So, here’s your obligatory warning. I’m about to go into details from the movie, so if you are looking to avoid any spoilers for Suicide Squad, you should stop reading now.

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Overall Impression: It wasn’t completely awful and for the most part, the movie was enjoyable for what it is. A friend of mine sitting next to me told me there were several moments I let out an audible disappointed sigh, and he’s not wrong. While it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve seen, there were definitely moments that didn’t live up to what I was expecting.

Deadshot and Harley Quinn definitely stole the show for this one and their characters were definitely the most intriguing and did the most justice as far as representing their comic book counterparts.

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Deadshot, one of the most notable anti-heroes of the DC Universe. An assassin with a troubling family past, but also motivated to take action whether for the heroes or villains to do good by his children. This was portrayed well in the movie by showcasing the relationship with him and his daughter. Will Smith did not disappoint in his portrayal of the surefire yet often conflicted assassin. Deadshot surfaced as one of the leaders of the group and motivated other team members to contribute to get the job done, while still remaining morally grey throughout the movie. One of the highlights is when he goads a reluctant El Diable who fears losing control to help fight the fight and light things up with the squad.

Deadshot: Whatcha gonna do?
El Diablo: You wanna see something? YOU WANNA SEE SOMETHING!?
Deadshot: YEAH!
(After El Diablo goes berserk and gets lit fam)
Deadshot: Yo…I was trying to get you there. No hard feelings, right? We good?

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The breakaway performance definitely has to go to Margot Robbie though as Harley Quinn. She definitely stole the show in my opinion. The focus of the movie was on her and showcased her relationship with the Joker. Her backstory and presence seemed to be the focus out of all the squad members. The movie seemed to take a lot of inspiration from The New 52 version of Harley as she was shown to be exposed to the same checmicals Joker was exposed to in the film as part of her backstory. Her leaving the squad for Joker and later rejoining when the plan fell through was also remiscent of a New 52 plot. I thoroughly enjoyed Margot Robbie’s performance of Harley and she had a lot of great moments. Her motives and loyalty walked a fine line with zany madness throughout the film, but one thing was certain: underestimating her was most certainly a mistake. The only moment I might have groaned (here comes some whine) was when she played a critical role in saving the day as she blurts out, Stop hurting my fwiends! (and there’s the cheese).

It will be interesting to see what happens with the character as it was revealed in her bio that she was an accomplice and either helped or was the one to kill Jason Todd. This revelation might help to explain why she reacted so strongly when she sternly states, “Own that shit” to El Diablo’s reveal about killing his kids. It may be her reaction to her own killing of an adolescent Jason Todd. Another possibility for this reaction could be that she was responsible for the death of her own kids. Whaaaaat!? BOOM! BLAM! KAZAM!

For those of you that missed it, the movie hinted that Harley might have been pregnant with Joker’s kids at some point and this could be a gamechanger that could be incredibly intriguing or a plot twist that ends up being a miserable disaster.

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So, when it comes to Deadshot and Harley Quinn, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Unfortunately for me, it just goes downhill from there with the rest of the characters.

Amanda Waller: Overall, the movie did a good job illustrating how cut throat and ruthless this character really is, but I wanted the movie to reveal and explore her deeper connection with metahumans and the major players of the DC universe. I get that this isn’t possible in the cinematic universe as metas are only beginning to surface and be known in this world. But still.

Diablo: I am on the fence with Diablo. On one hand, I really enjoyed his brooding character and his internal conflict of using his powers fearful of losing complete control of them. He was most certainly a force to be reckoned with. He has a really tragic backstory, but one that is a deviation from the comics. In the comicverse, he unleashed his fury on a rival ganghouse only to discover there were innocents; women and children that also fell victim to his flames. As a result, he let the authorities take him to Belle Reve due to his overwheliming feeling of guilt for taking the lives of innocents. The movie decided to up the ante and change his backstory to losing control and taking the life of his wife and children instead. Why they decided to make his backstory that much more tragic, but completely ignore the tragedy of Katana’s backstory (see below)  was what perplexed me. The only thing I can think of is to allow the reaction of Harley Quinn, which will more than likely play out in future movies. If this isn’t the case, then to make that choice with Diablo while completely ignoring Katana’s tragedy makes absolutely no sense.

Joker: It was cool to see a completely different interpretation of the Joker, but it got old real fast, especially his laugh. When I first heard the laugh in a trailer, I thought it was interesting and definitely had a chill factor to it. I also assumed this was a specific laugh in a specific scene to invoke that specific feeling. Nope, that laugh was pretty much the same every time something happen to tickle his fancy. It never changed. And come on, no one believed the Joker was actually dead when Harley watched in horror as his helicopter crashed in a burst of flames, so she could rejoin the squad with tear filled-eyes and those oh so pouty lips.

Slipknot: Who the hell was he again? Unless you’re an avid reader of comics you still have no clue who he is other than to serve the sole purpose of being the obligatory red shirt in the movie. If you’re going to kill someone off, at least provide some semblance of a back-story to make us feel something for his death other than, whelp guess his only purpose was to die.

Boomerang: He didn’t contribute much other than to be the skeezy cat-calling sterotype to womanize the bad ass that is Katana, which again, was barely touched upon. He bailed the first chance he got only to return to the squad moments later with absolutely no motivation to do so.

Katana: Like I said, Katana is a badass, but you don’t really understand this in the movie other than to know she knows how to use her weapon. A missed opportunity to explore a pretty epic backstory of her husband being killed by his own brother who held an unrequetted love for Katana. This was referenced, but watered down by revealing “someone” killed her husband with the souleater sword that ended up in her posessession. The scene explaining that she talks to her husband would have been so much more tragic had they offered more details of this backstory of not only her husband’s death, but the tragic death of their twin children in the same incident. The movie also doesn’t take any time to explain how Katana came to be involved with Rick Flag or the suicicide squad, but she merely just shows up as his body guard with absolutely no explanation of their connection.

Killer Croc: Well, this was probably one of the most disappointing portrayals. Killer Croc is a beast in the comics, A BEAST!  The movie, sadly, turned him into a deformed thug that kind of looked like a crocodile.  The movie took the fact that Killer Croc’s alter ego is Waylon Jennings who happens to be black. They basically ran with this and made this the focus of his character, completely ignoring the raw primal power of the croc and watered him down with cheap humor. His only request is to get a flat screen TV, so he can do nothing but watch big booty dancing on BET. Come on…They completely bastardized the beast that is Killer Croc.

Enchantress: I’ll admit that I don’t know a whole lot about the Enchantress in the comic book world and that made me continue to wonder throughout the whole movie, why she was so hell-bent on taking over the world. I get that she was pissed, because she was essentially just a tool to be used, but why not just go straight for Amanda Waller? I also found it troubling that the squad’s first mission was against this seemingly all powerful herky jerky magic-wielding belly dancer. The stakes were suddenly so monumentally high in a matter of seconds with no room to explore how the squad evolves from completely conflicted individuals to a cohesive unit.

Rick Flagg: I expected more, so much more of this character. What I got was a whiny emo lovesick puppy dog who was apparently maneuvered into a relationship that makes absolutely no sense just so he can be forced to babysit the villanis that Waller recruits. Flagg actually lead a World War II team called the suicide squadron, which serves as an inspiration for putting together the meta human suicide squad, but again, this was a completely missed opportunity to better explain his connection and motivation for leading the suicide squad.

Na na na na na na na na (That’s supposed to make you think of the Batman theme music to serve as a transition into the conclusion).

Time for the cool down. Thanks to those who bared with me on my rants and ramblings on the latest installment of the DC Cinematic Universe. Alright look, I realize that the comic book buff in me tends to make me a little if not obnoxiously overcritical of the movies. These are merely my own personal qualms with the DCCU, and I completely understand that. I get why a lot of people really love these movies, but I for one will always look to Marvel as an example of how to bring the expansive comic book universe to film and do the characters and plotlines justice. I didn’t hate Suicide Squad, but I didn’t love it either.

 

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Don’t forget the big picture.

Working in higher education comes with ebbs and flows through times of utter chaos and moments where you can finally begin to take momentary breathers. The last month of the semester is usually utter chaos, so please forgive me for my inconsistent and lack of posts up in this blog-o-sphere!

While it has been quite some time since I have posted, this week brought on a series of events that stirred up some mixed emotions; a blog post was inevitable. The events I am about to describe made me realize there was a slight possibility I hadn’t fully processed some eye opening incidents that occurred during my tenure in grad school, which happened to be located in a less than liberal state (that’s putting it lightly through the use of alliteration). This week, a roller coaster of events have been unfolding on Capitol Hill regarding the great heated debate of…wait for it…MARRIAGE OF THE GAYS!

Source: http://imgur.com/gallery/dAXzu

Alright, so Obama took the typical political waffling on this controversial issue spouting something about evolutionary gay feelings rather than walking down the path Biden & other members of his administration had laid before him. Needless to say, folks weren’t very happy about it. Yet, there was something Machiavellian about the way Obama neither denied nor confirmed support of marriage equality. One could assume this was due to the social stigma created by right wing socialization, and his full backing behind Biden would inevitably lead to a loss in votes. It is after-all, an election year. Whether it was the realization that there was more at play here than skirting the question or a loss of patience for waiting to hear a confirmation of what was echoed in his campaign speeches of hope and change; a crack began to form.

Then along came the state of North Carolina with this little amendment called one. Supporters and allies united and cried out with tweets, status updates, and memes expressing their disgust and disappointment that progress seems to remain stagnant among pockets throughout the nation. In its quake history was made. For the first time, the in-office President of the United States of America publicly supports same-sex marriage. Huzzah! The news made me want to celebrate…I just wanted to DANCE! Except, there was a part of me that felt uneasy about the whole thing. As I had alluded to before, it all seemed so calculated; the timing seemed to be perfect like the type of a sexy move that ends with a swirl…

Chris Weigant of The Huffington Post pinpointed what I was feeling perfectly:

What we just witnessed, for roughly the past four days, was not a “breaking story” or even an “evolution” of any sort. What we just witnessed, capped this morning by President Barack Obama’s statement of support for gay marriage, was nothing more than the introduction of a new (political) product. It was a “new and improved” product rollout — nothing more, nothing less.Admittedly, I’ve been conflicted. Of course, I recognize it is a historical milestone to have the President and his administration openly support marriage equality, which is truly a positive mark for progress. However, the fact it is being used as a political strategy does seem troublesome.

Admittedly, I am conflicted. Don’t get me wrong, the historical milestone to have the President and his administration openly support marriage equality is truly a positive mark for progress. However, I do find the seemingly commodification of the gay community as a strategic tool for re-election troublesome. But was it bothering me enough to contemplate my support and decision to re-elect? Who knew sifting through Facebook status-updates/discussions/debates/snarky-rebuttals/cat-fights of those who would all agree that marriage should be a freedom shared by all American citizens would spurn on a metaphorical spirit walk. While I certainly felt uneasy and found myself questioning Obama’s motives, there are some that are in full-blown hulk smash mode.

Comments that followed and seen throughout the world of Facebook and Twitter illustrate the crack formed from Biden’s support vs. Obama’s initial silence in regards to marriage equality seemed to increase to a sort of a schism. Below is a list of  highlights taken from responses to the status update above, but note that not all comments are in their entirety yet still represent the general tone of the discussion. (authors of comments have been kept anonymous for privacy reasons; if you recognize your words and would like to be listed as the author email me, and I will be happy to do so):

  • I’m glad you’re not fooled
  • Thank You! I was saying many of the same things…
  • Love you and you deserve equality.
  • There’s no difference between a president who supports same sex marriage and one who doesn’t if the one who does support it is commodifying same sex couples just to get reelected.
  • It’s not like this is an election year and he put his re-election in jeopardy with this statement. Was it a political ploy, probably, but Obama is a politician and this is how Presidents who support gay rights get re-elected.
  • Did he really put his re-election in jeopardy, though? i mean, anyone who is so against gay marriage that they’re angered by this wasn’t voting for the guy anyway. plus, this will help in reenergizing the young liberal base he’ll need to win.
  • In an ideal world full of non-hateful un-morons, yes, I would want him to have made this move earlier. But given reality, I’m just glad we have a guy in the White House who has the right position. Please remember that the other side is the one that wants to make a task force to investigate the “infringement of religious rights” that gay marriage represents and vows to enforce DOMA.
  • If you don’t think that Obama has felt this way all along, you’re naive. But I’m tired of our side (liberals) getting indignant about playing politics while the other side whips our ass.
  • I don’t care how Obama has felt all along, but resenting being used as a political pawn for someone else’s gain doesn’t come from naivety. It comes from encountering people who will call me a faggot on the street only to turn around say that they support my rights to an audience because they love the sound of two things: 1.) Applause, and; 2.) Their own voice.
  • You don’t know how much it breaks my heart to know the prejudice you’ve faced. I hate it and I swear to you if you told me what to do to help you with any of that, I would be there to do whatever it was. I mean that. I don’t feel that he is using you or this position as a political game. I think this is part of a larger, totally defensible agenda that you probably support in spirit.
Reading about the prejudices Amitheonlyone had to face broke my heart as well. I hated that this individual had to go through what he was describing, but this one comment also brought back some strong emotions and experiences I had encountered while I was attending grad school and residing in the same city where Amitheonlyone is currently residing in. To illustrate, I am going to enlist the help of one of my besties.
Ladies and Gentlemen; welcome my dear friend, whom we shall call Boo, as she tells you about one of said encounters that stuck with me. Seriously though, if you’re ever in Portland, check out the comedy scene; you may run into her and hilarity will most certainly ensue.

On the particular night Boo is describing, I was genuinely scared. I had dealt with ignorance and ugliness like that from a distance living in Wyoming. I came out of the closet in 1998 only to slam the door shut on my way back in after reading the headline of Shepard’s death; As Shepard was fighting for his life in a Colorado hospital, a Colorado State University homecoming float carried a scarecrow decorated with signs hung on a scarecrow that read “I’m Gay” and “Up My Ass.” Needless to say, I stayed pretty low on the gaydar until I left Wyoming. The night described above was the first time I was in direct contact with this kind of hatred. I was convinced I was going to be the victim of a hate-crime, but not for being gay like I had always feared, but simply for voting in favor of Obama.

Kansas was also the first time and place I was the direct victim of discrimination. Again, I had always heard about it happening and saw it happen indirectly living in Wyoming, but never really experienced it. My second year in grad school, I had been living in my apartment on my own for about a year while my partner finished his undergrad degree in Minnesota. I found myself being told by my landlord my partner of 4 years could not move in with me after he moved to Kansas to be with me after he graduated. The justification was that the apartments were only one bedroom. I explained he was my partner, and my landlord responded they don’t allow couples to move in either. The only problem with that reasoning was there was a couple living above me and right beside me. His response to this—they were married. My landlord refused to put his justification in writing, cited housing laws stating he could choose to or deny rent to whomever he wants, and also refused to let me out of my lease. The existing human rights ordinance did not include sexual orientation as a protected class. I had no choice but to stay even after his disapproval of me was made very clear and his presence at my building through “random” check-ins increased from seldom to several times a week. I vividly remember convulsively sobbing to my friend Boo on the phone (she had moved to Oregon a few months prior) as I explained there was nothing I could do about it and the landlord knew it!

So, I can understand the anger in Amitheonlyone’s status update and his vehement disdain at Obama’s support of gay marriage, only to follow that statement up with his stance that states should be the entity to make the decision whether to legalize or ban. During my last year in Kansas, I  spoke at City Council meetings, public forums, and demonstrations to bring awareness that discrimination does happen and the inclusion of sexual orientation into the city’s discrimination clause was not only the right thing to, but necessary. Sexual Orientation was added to the existing human rights city ordinance, but was overturned months later after new City Council members were elected. Recently, the state passed a law stating that discrimination against the LGBT community was permissible if it was due to moral or religious reasons. So, yes, I understand the anger and disappointment Amitheonlyone is feeling.

Many status updates and tweets reflect this same anger and frustration at the hesitation of Obama to solidify his stance, and then using his announcement as a poltical maneuver in order to garner votes. One comment reads, “He’s doing it to get votes, Do not think he is really o.k. with it.”

Obama’s timely support of same-sex marriage is more than likely a political strategy, however, it is not indicative of whether or not he is okay with it. The truth of the matter is, there is a high probability he has been in support with marriage equality all along, but in our world of politics, one has to be strategic about how they express their viewpoints. Moreover, many opposing comments throughout Facebook reflect that politics inherently consist of game-playing and stratagems whether we like it or not, and Obama seems to have gotten the hang of the game.

My last year in Kansas, there was a small handfull, three to four, members of the community that would come to the City Council meetings in support of me speaking on my housing experiences. It was one of the scariest yet most fulfilling things I had done during my time there, although it didn’t seem to have an affect at the time. I was certainly deflated as those who sought to maintain the status quo tossed out accusations that my situation was fabricated in order to fuel the discussion on amending the ordinance. Months later after I had moved out of the state, I saw a post regarding a decision to declare June pride month in Manhattan and the possibility of taking a vote in order to address amending the ordinance. I watched the meeting from a live Internet feed. During the public comments section of the meeting, I was overwhelmed with tears one after the other was expressing their gratitude and urging that the issue was going to continue to be pursued. The movement had gained momentum. One year after I had left, I returned to the city to speak at a Pride Parade and demonstration. I was once again amazed at the number of people that publicly showed their support for equality including the now secure and out Amitheonlyone, straight allies and gay folk alike,  all united under one common need for equal human rights where just a year before the movement seeemed to consist of only a handful of active members.

Perhaps the most disturbing after-effect of the frustration and disdain over Obama’s “strategic move,” is the divide it has created among equality advocates. One response to Amitheonlyone’s status update I found truly insightful read:

What kills me is that we’re on the same side. You know that, right? I understand that I’m a white, middle-class, heterosexual male. I never forget the privilege I was born into and have spent most of today trying to ask others what I can legitimately do to help. So what depresses me, what causes me great concern, is that you and I are bickering over a man who today endorsed what both you and I believe…The gay rights movement is fairly new in the social consciousness. And right or wrong, we have to contend with how best to deal with the raging, hateful idiots who use our shared, totally morally correct position to fundraise and mobilize for politicians who will crush what we believe.

I strongly believe one of the obstacles in the LGBT rights movement are the fractured and divisive ideologies that exist within the community itself, which then lead to mixed messages for the movement at large. Those opposed to the “gay lifestyle” seize these divisions and exploit the mixed messages to further stifle our cause.

I will admit that there was a big part of me that was concerned Obama will use his stance as a bargaining chip when it comes to deliberating with congress. But then I looked at the bigger picture and realize change and progress take time and often the big picture cannot be achieved without the baby steps. It is important to realize policy doesn’t just happen overnight, and more importantly not to forget the change that has been enacted and the progress that has been made. I am hopeful that if granted a second term, there will be some follow-through, and Obama will fight to make this country that much closer to a state of true equality despite any resistance from congress he may face. We live in a time of many firsts for the gay community, and I am confident the President will work to make more happen and make room to allow for more to happen after his second term. Faith.

So, while I can definitely relate and understand the frustrations that arise when it seems like we are so close to being equal, yet still remain ever so separate; I leave you with these final thoughts. Remember what it feels like when the group comes together and a simple act of sharing your collective stories and experiences produce profound affects that you didn’t realize was possible. Remember the accomplishments that seemed so insurmountable become less daunting when everyone works together. Remember how infuriating it feels when others refuse to look outside their own narrow lens to consider other perspectives beside their own and ask yourself if you are guilty of the same.

One of the great problems of our age is that people care more about their feelings than about their thoughts and ideas. Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny. What we think is what we become.

~Margaret Thatcher, The Iron Lady

GCB Date Night-Forbidden Fruits

A dear friend of mine from way back when (who has since moved miles away) and I discovered that we both share a common guilty pleasure. Our hearts have been stolen by this little gem of a show called GCB. This show makes me so happy I’d be willing to compare its effects on me to the kind of drug that makes you euphoric for no apparent reason. The women are so vicious to each other, yet admist all the backstabbing, the cattiness, and good ole Christian shenanigans is a delightful and touching story arc between a prodigal daughter and her mama, the pillar of her hometown community, who is claiming her second chance to better express her motherly love.

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GCB, based on a book by the title of Good Christian Bitches has made quite the impression through the conservative media circuit. Many are upset that the the portrayal of Christians in this show gives the impression that Christians are hypocritical; gasp!

Fox News Upset with GCB: Damn that liberal media with their attacks using fancy generalizations!

However, I have to believe the majority of audiences are going to be independent critical thinkers who realize adhering to generalizations like all Christians are hypocritical and believing these generalizations are true for all cases is problematic. Kind of like generalizing all Muslims as terrorists. Kind of like generalizing all gays are promiscuous or pedophiles. Kind of like generalizing all women as sluts just because they are taking a stake in their own reproductive health. Oh wait, that last one wasn’t a generalization, just faulty logic. My dear friend Jon summed up the right-wing’s response to the show perfectly.

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Indecision 2012 – Endless Suffrage 2012 – MSNBC’s & Fox News’ Southern Primary Coverage
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The truth is there are some folks out there who act exactly like the women in this show. Perhaps they are a wee bit overboard (again, it’s TELEVISION!), but even those who aren’t necessarily fans of the show agree women like this exist. Author of blog, Preacher on the Plaza agrees the portrayal of Christian women on the show is off-putting. Her reasoning is the interesting part: “And while, yes I am a fan of satire and not taking one’s self too seriously (appropriate uses of humor are always good, I’m with you Alan on this one), I have to say that I was saddened by GCB because I felt so much of the show IS TRUE.”

I would argue the show isn’t seeking to portray Christian women or an attack on those with faith. There are examples in the show of overcoming the pettiness and bitchiness illustrated by remarks regarding becoming the better Christian that sheds light on the complexity of  following a faith such as Christianity. It points out that rising above and  following the intention of true Christianity is in fact difficult and commendable. When one chooses the path of smiting those in the name of religion and judging others in the name of religion, things are not only going to end badly for you, but you serve as the comedic plot line for that evening’s episode.  Remember when it was the gay character who played the fool and served as comic relief? GCB uses the device, but uses it in a far more critical and ingenious way. It is the actions of the person that make them the object of mockery, not simply what is on the surface level. In other words, the show isn’t making attacks on the religion of Christianity nor making caricatures of the women in the show simply because they are Christian; it is making attacks on those who are quick to abandon their self proclaimed principles in order to knock someone down for selfish reasons.

So, back to my dear friend, who shall go by the name Sister Kel, who shares in this new guilty pleasure of mine that is GCB. Upon our discovery of our shared love, we decided to make a date night this week and watch the episode together. We even delayed our viewing until the day after it was aired, so that we could still watch together despite the different time zones. If the fact that we were able to wait a whole day after it was aired just to watch it together doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will. Below is a list of some of the highlights and some snippets from our texts back and forth as we eagerly viewed the episode.

WARNING: The following contain spoilers for Episode 5: Forbidden Fruits

Some of my own personal takeaways from the episode:

  • Cricket’s rendition of Amazing Grace rocked my world.
  • Carleen’s brother is dreamy.
  • The sibling rivalry between Sharon’s kids looks to be an entertaining addition to the show.
  • Carleen and her scope make me so happy.
  • Using Sheryl Crow to get back at your fellow Christian brethren will turn off those of virtue. Abuse of power makes you ugly.
  • Carleen and Cricket’s face when Gigi “takes the bull by its horns” = priceless.
  • Bozeman is hot. His character is supposed to be in High School. I feel dirty and compelled to blame the liberal media.

Snippets of my conversation with SK:

Obligation to Entertain

“True comics are a popular art, and yes, I believe their primary obligation is to entertain, but comics can go beyond that, and when they do, they move from silliness to significance.”

~Bill Watterson

Click on image for source

Truth be told, I was teased and bullied through most of my childhood due to the fact that I was a geek. I was and still am into comic books, science-fiction, video games, and the world of fantasy. Whether I was singled out for these interests or I escaped into this world of geekdom as a result of my peers targeting me in such a negative way is uncertain. What came first; the awkward comic-book nerd or the social outcast of the public school systems I attended? Regardless, comic-books helped me cope with my less-than desirable social status in the hierarchy created by the powers that be in grade school and middle school—kids are cruel.

Comic books are meant to entertain, but Bill Watterson said it best in the above quotation. Sure, those that have not taken the time to read the “silly picture books” may not realize, in fact, that they are so much more. Since their inception, comic books have been seen as a lesser form of literature. However, comic books have tackled serious societal issues long before mainstream media depicted such issues because they were deemed taboo. Comic books mimic social reality;   readers can often relate with the characters and are encouraged to find the superhero within themselves.

Danny Fingeroth (2004) expands upon this analysis suggesting Superman uses his secret identity to assimilate into Earth’s culture; more specifically, he assimilates into the American culture in order to blend in and avoid standing out. Fingeroth states:

“Superman’s story is not unlike that of the kid who at home speaks the language of his parents’ immigrant roots, but outside adopts the identity of the mainstream, attempting to blend in and become one with the adopted homeland…The immigrant wants to excel but  stay anonymous. He wants to make his parents proud―but not make them ashamed of who they themselves are, though he may, himself, be ashamed of them in certain profound ways.”

Click Image for Source

Many readers can easily relate with Superman’s struggle to maintain his secret identity in order to fit in, with the understanding that this alter ego is merely a sham to conceal the true persona within. Although authors wrote the Superman mythology with the American immigration experience in mind, the theme that emerges from the use of visual images depicting Clark’s transformation from the meek salary man into the confident powerful Superman with a quick visit to the nearest phone booth and the deeper meaning beneath the surface of the narrative is applicable to a significant scope of the audience regardless of the demographic that each audience member may or may not belong to. Interpretation of metaphor within the visual imagery and text can encourage readers to become more critical about the subject matter and present themes that, in turn, helps readers make sense of one’s own identity by situating oneself in the themes and metaphors that emerge in the narrative.

While the predominant obligation of many comic book writers may be to entertain, my hats go off to those writers who consider their obligation to offer critical commentary on the societal issues most tend to shy away from. The writers who write for the readers who could stand to realize they are not alone in their experiences and tribulations. The writers who encourage readers to believe that they share more in common with heroes than they had ever thought.

Someday, I’ll be captain of my very own ship!

Even from a very early age, it was pretty clear I would grow up to be a nerd. I remember quite vividly in one of my earlier elementary years going through the typical class discussion surrounding the topic of: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Our instructor was a beast of a woman who did not enjoy fun, seemed to hate her job, and was deeply rooted in reality. Picture Delores Umbridge, but without the facade of granny sweetness. I thought these were some pretty odd characteristics for someone whose profession involved interacting with children on a daily basis. O.K., so my vocabulary was more like meany and grumpy pants at that age.

So, each of us took turns announcing our chosen dream profession. Some she would approve of with a slight smile and a nod, others she would amend. Her gaze reached my seat. I explained, “I am going to be an engineer on a star ship. Someday, I’ll be captain of my very own ship!”

I was an effing cute kid!

Ms. Grumpy Pants gave me a quizzical glare and begrudgingly explains to the class that what I meant to say was astronaut. I instantly grimaced and tried to protest, but she shhhushd me and sternly growled that’s all. She moved on to the next student, Tony. What was about to happen only further exemplified my theory that Ms. Grumpy Pants was a meany, but I wouldn’t realize until years later; it was also evidence that she should have no longer been teaching.

Tony was doodling when Ms. Grumpy Pants called on him to share his desired jobby job. He looked up and simply said, “I want to be a dolphin” and went back to his doodling.

Ms. Grumpy Pants amended, “So, you want to be a football player for the Miami Dolphins.”

Tony looked back up and responded, “No. I want to be a dolphin.”

Ms. Grumpy Pants began to laugh. “Tony, I am not sure what you are getting at here.”

Tony answered with clear frustration in his voice, “I want to be a dolphin. You know, the animal. I want to swim and leap through the ocean with my dolphin friends.”

Ms. Grumpy Pants began to laugh quite heartily at this and began mocking him, “You hear that class? Tony is going to swim and play with the dolphins when he grows up!” She then notices that Tony’s doodle is none other than the finned animal he clearly admired. She snatched up the doodle and continued to point and laugh at both the doodle and poor Tony.

Some classmates laughed. At the time, I really did not understand what was so funny. I just understood it to be mean. I moved away to a new city and a new school later that year. I often wonder what became of Tony and what future repercussions that day had on Tony’s life. I find it both disturbing and sick there are instances where so called educators teach ignorance and hate. Things that should neverbe taught in a classroom.

Sooooo, I never really pursued that early childhood dream of becoming an astronaut, but if there are ever star ships built with warp capability; I am totally fighting tooth and nail to land a job on said star ship.

Instead, I became a teacher. Weird. I think I’m pretty good at it though.

In the Home Stretch!

As the semester winds down and the winter quickly encroaches, I have come to the realization that this has been a year of change and growth. I started out the semester trying to find my way back to the way things were only to discover those were the things I had outgrown. It’s always a sobering moment when you realize the world you used to know so well has gone and caught itself in a freeze frame of sorts; the pieces just don’t fit anymore.

These past few months have been trying as the things I thought I knew and understood turned out to have false bottoms like the desk drawer of a paranoid schizophrenic. A drawer that concealed ugly secrets, which were desperately hidden in hopes the true metaphorical head of the villainous trickster would never be seen. Funny thing about those who stir the pot; eventually no amount of stirring will prevent the stew from getting burned. There’s really no going back, and I’m more than O.K. with that.
While it was a harsh reality check, it was necessary. I’ve learned there are more important things in life than going through the motions and embracing the trivial. I’ve learned to always question and not play into the manipulation that comes with passive aggressive behavior. I also learned that I have some great people I can genuinely call friends that make all the other stuff seem so tiny and insignificant. 
 

I have gained a new appreciation for the work I do and my co-workers. I am lucky to work with a group of people who make my job fun and keep me on my toes. Teaching is still rewarding despite the bumps in the road and those that seem impossible to reach. Giving up forensics to focus more on the opportunities at hand wasn’t as jarring as I thought it would be and actually find it to be quite refreshing. This last semester alone I:
  • helped a transgender student remind fellow students and instructors that the institution was one that embraced diversity, which was also written into policy. 
  • literally made an impromptu trip to attend a conference that would create potential for future programming and coordination opportunities.
  • learned empathy after seeing the full scope of how students process and deal with their stress levels throughout the semester; some better than others. 
  • coordinated efforts between various clubs and organizations on campus hoping to improve communication and encourage collaboration among the student body. 
  • grew an appreciation for the student leaders that work with our department and all the hard work they do. 
  • had a lot of fun getting to know my co-workers a bit more and take part in the occasional office prank or two. 
  • fully embraced the fact that there is only one doctor: THE DOCTOR

It’s been a crazy insane semester, and I am so glad it is over. I am looking forward to traveling and seeing old friends over winter break. As the sun sets on the final days of the year 2011, I hope to go into the new year moving forwardno turning back.

This is the 99%


These protesters who are actually few in number, have contributed nothing. They’re parasites. They’re pure, genuine parasites. Many of them are bored, trust-fund, kids obsessed with being something, being somebody. Meaningless lives, they want to matter.
                                                                                      ~Rush Limbaugh

This appeared on my Facebook news feed that someone shared from Don Giordano’s Facebook page. Don’t know who this dude is, don’t really care. I’ve been seeing a lot of similar rhetoric pop up on my news feed lately (I live in Wyoming). That’s awesome this person managed to get through college debt free. Truly, but I have some issues with this statement. 

I disagree with this statement mainly because it twists the arguments of Occupy Wall Street and what it was intended for. While I am sure there are those that jumped on the bandwagon because they blame “The Man” for all of their problems and poor choices. But there are those that have legitimate reasons to take part in this movement and making a hasty generalization based on what the media spoon feeds you is problematic.

Taking the major premise that you read an article or saw a news report showing Occupy Wall Street participants complaining about student loan debt, then going off the minor premise that you are part of the minority with the luxury of being debt free due to “hard work” in order to lead to the conclusion that Occupy Wall Street protest participants are nothing but college kids with privilege whining about their debt and poor decisions is not an absolute truth, but a faulty categorical syllogism at best. Furthermore, not all debt is the result of poor decisions but rather, a consequence of the system.

I will agree that perhaps the original goals of this movement have been submerged through the few bandwagoneers and the media’s interpretation. The true meaning is best described as the following: “Occupy Wall Street deals with the very material consequences of corporate collapse in the last five years. People who ‘worked hard’ lost their jobs and their savings.” So, the Occupy Movement in all reality has NOTHING to do with student loan debt. It’s that the priveleged benefiting from big corporations are feeding off of the demise of those beneath them. It’s about bringing awareness and expressing outrage regarding these practices.

Thus, I feel there are genuine and legitimate reasons to take action through protest in order to enact change. THIS is the 99%

                                  Photo taken by: Katia Roberts