Friday, April 14, 2017

13 Reasons Why: Netflix Series

There’s a new on Netflix is a show called “13 Reasons Why” about a high school girl named Hannah who kills herself and makes 13 cassette tapes to tell her reasons why she killed herself. Now at first I was a bit skeptical about watching the show because well . . . let’s face it, no one is particularly thrilled to watch a show about why a young girl decided to kill herself. Not only does this subject alone makes people tend to shy away, when you add in the factors such as age, society and bullying . . . it makes the whole thing almost too much to bear watching.

I think the show does a great job depicting the life of Hannah. You can hear her words and emotions from the tapes she had created as you watch her and everyone around her go through the different events and scenarios that lead up to her last days. You also get to see and hear the stories of the people in her life and what they are going through during and after her life ended. That in its self I found to be fascinating because you often hear the victims story so you don’t think about how complicated everyone else’s life around them is as well. It is also interesting to see the effects suicide has on the people that are effected. Not just family members but the peers that knew the person.

Another aspect of this show I found interesting was really understanding the characters in the story. It reminded of my days in high school and the people I had encountered. As children, we are often so consumed with our lives and hormones we don’t see the different sides to the people in the other cliques on campus. For instance, one of the characters is a star basketball player who always appears so jovial and social. His parents also bought him a 60,000 car so from the outside he would appear to have it all. Or there is the cheerleader with the star athlete boyfriend with all her friends who also appears as if she has everything anyone could ever desire. Obviously, they are people so have they have feelings and home lives that no one is really aware of so to see them struggling with their insecurities and struggles was a good look. There’s so many movies that tend to put these caricatures of these high school stereotypes that make these characters non-believable.

I never experienced bullying growing up but I think it’s interesting how different it has come in the last 10 years. When I was growing up, I wasn’t aware of anyone really trolling around on Myspace, Blackplanet, or AIM. Also, not everyone was equipped with a smartphone or even a flip phone so life/social media wasn’t always “on”. I didn’t have to worry about someone taking screenshots or pictures and spreading my business. At that point it’s like teens getting bullied never find any peace and are always living in that hell. Something that most adults aren’t familiar with dealing with. So the parents in the series aren’t quite able to understand the children or get them to talk/open up to them.

Now I don’t want to give a way too much but this was definitely worth watching. For young people, maybe they can find more kindness to their fellow peers, find a reason worth living, and see how their choices impact the people they come in contact with. For adults, maybe they can more understand how different/difficult is for the teenagers growing up, the struggles they have to deal with, signs for trouble teens, and maybe a way to open the dialogue so that we can prevent the amount of suicides among our younger generations. If you don’t think that suicide is a problem amongst teens, then you are sadly mistaken because currently suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death. So even if you don’t go watch this series be aware of those around you and treat them with the same kindness and respect you would want to receive in return. It’s not cool to be a bully and lashing out at others will not ease your pain.

If you know someone who is suffering or contemplating suicide below is the link for the resources to find help for them.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Another unsolved mystery: Why can’t other races make Kool-Aid?

 My apologies for generalizing and being a hypocrite as I usually rage against racial generalizations with the utmost resolve that they’re utter nonsense. Yet here I stand having become the very thing I despise. Of course I know that not all black people are capable of concocting an exemplary cup of Kool-Aid. And of course, of course, of course there are other races more than apt at making an exceptional batch of the well-known sugary elixir that was the staple of our child hoods.
For example I once had the pleasure of knowing a southern ham roasting, sausage/gravy and biscuit cooking, vegetarian, pot smoking staunch right wing conservative white woman who I’d be willing to bet could brew a hell of a cup of Kook-Aid(An untested theory as I never sampled her efforts but she  seemed to be an anomaly in every other right so…) but that’s just a guess and that’s precisely what the rest of this missive will be, guesswork mixed with my own very limited experiences.
  First things first I’m not just singling out white folks in my flavorless Kool-Aid tirade. I’ve actually met three Mexicans and a Puerto Rican (All of whom could throw down in the kitchen) who couldn’t make a passable cup of Kool-Aid. That’s right, the purveyors of spicy beans, rice, meat and peppers couldn’t manage to mix sugar, water a flavor packet and food coloring. Tasting their efforts made me want to ask them, “Who hurt you?” I didn’t though because that would have been rude. Good news though. I’m not just here to make unfounded accusations and denunciations of other races’ Kool-Aid making prowess.
    Many black people, (especially the older ones) would have you simply eyeball the sugar to water ratio. While I’ve had countless years to master this technique others haven’t been so fortunate so I’ll go ahead and share a little secret. Now come on and lean in, make sure no one is around…you can in fact follow the instruction on the packet to create a flavorful cup of Kool-Aid. I know, I know, I know that you think you’ve been doing exactly that all these years but you haven’t. You’ve used the exact measure of sugar suggested on the package but…you’ve never bothered to calculated the recommended measurement of water. Also remember when using a larger picture you have to use two packets and double the amount of water AND SUGAR., Now go on and use your new found knowledge of Kool-Aid science. You’re welcome.


Okay so I'm gonna nerd out on you guys today . . . 

So I watched this movie on Netflix called For The Love of Spock and it was actually pretty interesting! Now I'm definitely guilty of loving some Star Trek! I know I wrote a blog about it when I come to think about it . . . it's called Live Long and Prosper if you want to go check it out . . . Now before you just go thinking that this is something that you can't enjoy, go check out Star Trek Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. Like all shows in the beginning episodes the actors are still getting into their characters so you many have to watch a couple before you get sucked in. Besides aliens and space, the epic series has a great way of addressing important concepts and bringing up societies issues without making it feel like a lesson. The setting is a couple hundred years in the future, the Earth has achieved world peace and humans are exploring the galaxy and the different species that are foreign to them. They have to figure out when to interfere, communication, cooperation, acceptance, and how to bridge the gaps between the ocean of differences between them and the species they encounter. They are forced to think outside the box, create novel solutions, and figure out how to coexist with other species that are vastly different from anything human. Just like when two strangers now from two different countries meet, people find a way to come together and in optimal situations, learn from each other. The show touches on tolerance and understanding . . . morals . . . how to treat people who are different . . . the concept of ethnocentricity . . .  environmentalism and sooooo much more! Hmmm . . . a lot of parallels . . . right! 

Now when it comes to this documentary, it explores the character Spock, from the first Star Trek series and his iconic effect on the entire culture. It also gives the biography and interview clips of the actor, Leonard Nimroy, who played him which gives you a sense of who Spock really was and what went into playing a character like him. If you don't know, Spock is a half human, half Vulcan (alien) who serves aboard a star ship. He has some of the characteristics of humans but he is also Vulcan so he looks a little different from the pointy ears to the green blood. Another trait of the Vulcan is that their species are known for their expert emotional suppression. So while the emotions of humans are very much like a roller coaster, it would appear that for a Vulcan they are very . . . collected . . . at all times. They believe that logic is the key to life and so they are a very scientific based society. So within the series you will see him try to keep his balance, question his humanity, and explore life aboard the ship as an outcast. No matter how well his relationships with the others on board become, he is well aware that he is not the same as them. Now I wasn't around for the Spock craze but to this day just about everyone knows the Vulcan V shaped hand gesture even if they aren't familiar with where it is from. What was it about Spock that made him such an icon?

"Live long and prosper"

Now a lot of us out here are feeling isolated in our own little bubbles . . . every once in a while . . . even if you don't want to admit it. Sometimes you just end up being the black sheep in a herd of fluffy white flock and that's how Spock felt as the only Vulcan with this all human crew. Now although he was half human, any multiracial child will tell you that just sharing some of the same genetic make up with someone doesn't mean they think you belong nor see you as being the same as them. Essentially this was Spock. There's an intriguing aspect of him that he was constantly keeping his emotions in check. How many times have you felt overwhelmed with how you were feeling? For him, being in control and restraining those primal instincts were just a part of the Vulcan life. Some people will wish they were more like him. His character could also represent someone who was intelligent and was always looking to acquire more knowledge. Spock had morals, honor, and dignity . . . just some of the few attributes that many of us would hold in high esteem. It's easy to see how fans would aspire to take on some of those traits. So for the society at the time who had not seen a character quite like this, they felt a connection with him and to the point that some even wanted to emulate him in dress and manner. When you watch this movie, you not only get to understand Spock, the Vulcan, but you hear about Nimroy and how he helped developed this character and ultimately affect the entire science fiction culture. You will also hear about his life behind the scenes from his family. The struggles he face trying to balance work and home, turning off and on the character and what were some of the inspirations that gave birth to an icon.

You may not be a Star Trek fan or someone remotely interested in science fiction but this was definitely an interesting watch. The actress in me is fascinated with the whole process of how he created this character and thought of the smallest details to embody this alien/outsider. The anthropologist in me is curious about the reasons why people gravitated so heavily to his character. What made Spock iconic as opposed to Captain Kirk or any other character was that Spock, as the outsider, had the ability to transcend multiple categories such as age, race, socio-economic standings and gender. It's amazing. Just to think, Leonard Nimroy didn't set out to embody a science fiction icon . . .  nor did he know when he initially started filming how big that show would impact the culture. One of the humorous scenes from the movie is from a show that Nimroy was reading the audience the critics review of the show when it first came out. Star Trek initially got horrible reviews and no one could have ever predict that it would still be an active part of the culture decades later. That just goes to show you that you can never know where your individual river of life will lead you. Although you think you are just doing something insignificant, you can't be sure who is receptive of you and what impacts you are making for someone else.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Netflix and Binge

I am applauding Netflix. Clap! Clap! Clap! 

You guys are doing GREAT! Not only are they producing great series for us to binge and crave but they are also bringing us great television series from around the world! There are several shows on there that I have completely lost myself away to that were not in English and they were GREAT shows! In the ethnocentric country we live in, having access to shows from other countries is a blessing that many others overlook. There's so much we can learn from the shows that we wouldn't know unless we went there ourselves. Of course, everything but be taken with several grains of salt because we know what kind of shit show our country looks like just judging us off our television and movies.

Now I know a lot of you groan because you don't like to read subtitles but really now . . . Society for the most part has stopped reading books, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, BLOGS, the labels on your medicine . . . etc. No one reads anymore. They just want the quick fix, the "painless" amusement that is over within an hour or so. Our attention spans don't carry us over through a 2 hour movie nonetheless a book. Well if we want to dumb ourselves down and set an example for the children, I will make sure not to include myself in that! And I hope you won't either! It's so interesting to see how other people live, think and what makes them unique. Societies form for many reasons and are comprised of so many different beliefs. What you will find is at the center core of it all . . . we all aren't so different after all. Essentially we all just want to be happy in our lives and find meaning in whatever we do.

So again, Netflix, I applaud you! Please bring us more good stuff and don't wait too long between the seasons of the series! Can I just tell you all the struggle of trying to find a season 2 of this Turkish show I've been hooked on lately! I finally found all 4 seasons but they don't have subtitles so I had to find the written out synopsis of the episodes someone was so kind enough to write on Facebook. Thank you kindly! Anyways, kudos and keep up the great work!!!

Shows I recommend: La Esclava Blanca, Magnificent Century, Lady: La Vendedora de Rosas, 3%, The Time In Between

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Bobby Brown: Put some respeek on his name.

  Usher, Chris Brown, Trey Songs, August Alsina, Jeremiah, and pretty much any aspiring R&B artist of this day, what do they all have in common? They're all using a certain archetype that includes a roguish bad boy attitude or guise if necessary, sexually suggestive dance moves and boy next door charge. Their true genius stems from the sheer simplicity of their personas and the fact that they are all so relatable. Any of them could be that cute ass fly guy next door who rocks all the newest cloths, haircuts, works out and always smells good. They represent a realistic fantasy for young girls everywhere.
   Yet we often hear these very artist credit the likes of Michael Jackson and Prince as their inspiration growing up when truthfully the aforementioned acts have literally nothing in common with the likes of Mike and Prince artistically. Whereas Mike and Prince were both eccentric having mimicked the pageantry people like James Brown, Earth, Wind, and Fire Frankie Beverly, and Maze used. On the other hand the artist of today are almost always mimicking none other than the king of R&B, Bobby Brown.
 Now sadly many of you just gave me the side eye. You may be thinking to yourself, how the fuck is crackish ass Bobby Brown the king of anything. Wasn’t he just Whitney’s Husband? Fame is a fickle beast. How quickly we forget what a super talent Bobby possessed in his heyday. We forgot the Bobby that attracted Whitney in the first place. I mean we still remember Whitney as the Diva she undoubtedly was and she was just as crackish as Bobby, (may she rest in peace.)
  So let us all remember Bobby Brown actually is the King of R&B. He cultivated the very style every R&B artist today is still using. He was the first one shirtless and gyrating on screaming fans, the first one humping the air, the first bad boy of R&B. Michael Jackson was the king of pop. Prince just was and Bobby Brown is the kang of R&B and let’s make sure we never forget it again.