Category Archives: Smizmar

A Hero and a Chosen One Walk Into a Bar

In every story there is a protagonist, the protagonist can either be a primary character, someone the story just so happens to follow, or in some creative cases the enemy of the “protagonist” should the story follow a villain rather than the hero (think Invader Zim). In many stories a a protagonist will more than likely be labeled a hero and in some cases even a ‘Chosen One’. Now a Hero protagonist and a Chosen One don’t have to be one and the same, but in some cases both will be merged into one character for convenience or lack of creativity. There is nothing wrong with having a Chosen One or a hero, but one can’t help but admit that it may be done a bit too much at times.

The Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey is pretty self explanatory, but just to give a little more detail as to what goes on is that your protagonist goes on a journey and through a series of events has experiences that cause change in his character which may result in heroic deeds.

I’m going to go farther back than I normally do with my references to pop culture and media and reference the poem known as Beowulf. Yes that long poem you had to read in twelfth grade english class will be talked about a little today, no I’m not talking about that weird CGI movie that came out ten years ago. Beowulf hears of the troubles the monster Grendel is causing because the tenants above him won’t turn down their partying resulting in Grendel  killing citizens under the land of Heorot. Grendel and Beowulf do battle, Beowulf rips off his arm and Grendel dies at home. His mother gets pissed.

Grendel’s Mother gets her revenge, and Beowulf travels to put an end to her too. For these two battles Beowulf is more or less just being a nice guy and is very confident in his abilities. He’s a hero because it’s the right thing to do. After fifty years and becoming a king himself, Beowulf takes on a dragon, but thanks to old age isn’t as confident in his abilities and is mortally wounded while dealing with the dragon.

The story itself isn’t too thrilling, but we have the basic hero of Beowulf who technically does go through change in his story of heroism from confident man who defeated two monsters to a king who wasn’t so sure he could defeat a dragon.

The subject of change for the hero can vary from the confidence of the hero regardless of it being a lack of confidence at the beginning to having confidence at the end or vice versa in the case of Beowulf.

There is also the ‘Zero to Hero’ story where Disney’s adaptation of Hua Mulan (just Mulan for the film) is a good example. In the original story Mulan wanted to join the army in place of her father (after she dueled him for permission and won) and was already a skilled martial artist and capable with a sword and after gaining much credit for her work returned home in retirement accepting no compensation for her work in the military.

The Disney adaption keeps Mulan replacing her father as a soldier, but takes away her badass combat abilities. She instead has to learn and earn her abilities as a soldier with the stakes increased in the film that should the Chinese military discover that she is a woman she will be executed for daring to break social norms by entering the army. Mulan is discovered, but is spared because Li is probably very relieved that Mulan is a woman meaning he isn’t gay. For all her efforts Mulan returns home a changed woman with a better understanding of honor and very happy to see her family (and is even hugged by the Emperor after she blew up his castle and earning the highest headcount of her Disney Princess counterparts).

It could be argued that the Disney film Hercules released a year before Mulan has the same Zero to Hero format and technically it does, but the character Hercules is doing it for selfish reasons at first rather than the selfless reason of Mulan and only learned to be a hero after Megara dies and the gods are freed. Technically Hercules didn’t learn a damn thing in the movie (Hades wasn’t such a bad guy and was just keeping his end of the bargain, Hercules is an asshat).

From the three examples above it could be argued that Mulan is the best example of a hero due to her compassion and will to sacrifice herself for the needs of her loved ones (and a cricket for good luck) while Beowulf was just being a nice guy and Hercules had no idea how to be a hero outside of getting a merchandising deal.

The Chosen One and The Special

What do Harry Potter and Star Wars have in common? Well besides the hero and villain relying on the color scheme of red and green to help the audience determine who is good and who is evil, not that much. Both DO have a Chosen One and do indeed play with the idea of a Chosen One. Normally a Chosen One is someone who is predicted to “save the day and put an end to evil!” Because destiny said so.

While this isn’t a bad plot device for a story, I chose the topic of Star Wars and Harry Potter because most audiences are familiar with these two franchises when it comes to having a ‘Chosen One’ despite the actual label of Chosen One being played with. In Harry Potter, Harry is known as ‘The Boy Who Lived’ and after a run in Voldemort his first year at Hogwarts is the only wizard who can defeat Voldy after Dumbledore himself. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (book 5/the one with the blue cover for you muggles) after being responsible for the death of a student and his godfather Harry demands answers from Dumbledore as to why this is happening to him.

Dumbledore explains that because of a vague prediction that Voldy knew of Harry could have been living a normal wizard life while his classmate and friend Neville Longbottom could have been the one with a lightning bolt scar on his forehead, but Voldy picked Harry because he felt Harry was his equal. Dumbledore mentions that Voldy didn’t HAVE to actually listen to the prediction and could have gone on causing problems in the wizarding world, but because of knowledge of said prophesy didn’t want to take risks and decided to go after baby Harry setting the story into motion.

In Star Wars we have the Skywalker family; this starts off with Anakin Skywalker who has a special talent with the force and is prophesied to bring balance to the light and dark side of the force. Anakin is a gifted padawan despite having temptations from the dark side of the force. In the tv series Clone Wars he is shown to be a competent general, but it’s all for naught when in Revenge of the Sith he falls to the dark side and becomes Darth Vader putting an end to his Chosen One status. For the original trilogy audiences figured Luke was the actual Chosen One, and the force even had a back up plan with Leia, but in the end it’s Vader who puts an end to Emperor Palpatine.

In recent movies and spin offs though in the Star Wars universe things are shifting away from having Chosen Ones save the day to a bigger picture type of story I’ll get into a little bit.

The alternative to The Chosen One is ‘The Special’ as The Lego Movie puts it. As the name suggests, the Special is someone who is special, they can be someone immune to most vampire abilities, a vampire with empathic abilities, or in the case of The Lego Movie, someone who will be the best master builder ever! I do like that The Lego Movie also plays with this with the character WyldStyle hoping that she is the special, but discovering it’s a guy who thinks inside the box in contradiction to the outside the box master builders and saves the day more frequently because of it. It is revealed that the Special is completely made up for the sake of one of the protagonists buying time earlier in the movie and that all the protagonists in the movie are ‘The Special’.

Born for the Job

A variation for ‘The Special’ is literally being born into the job. Very good examples of this are Avatar The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, and Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon. In these cases our protagonist is born into the role of hero due to being reincarnated in the case of Usagi Tsukino (Sailor Moon), and the light spirit of Raava being transferred into each life and incarnation of the Avatar.

The approach of being a hero is taken to two different extremes with the Avatar series; in the first series Aang is just child when he is told that he is the Avatar and has to defeat the Firelord to restore balance between the four nations. Aang flees resulting in the mass genocide of Airbenders and has to clean up the mess later. The first two seasons of the series Aang focuses more on having fun since he is still a twelve year old, but grows to understand the seriousness of the situation with the Fire Nation and realizes that he is the only one who can fix his mistake. While the first two seasons are more lighthearted, the third season takes a darker approach with the final batch of episodes focusing on the conflict between Aang’s personal beliefs that killing is wrong despite his position of being the Avatar and needing to protect and bring balance to the world and that he needs to kill Firelord Ozai (he takes the third option).

In the sequel series Legend of Korra, Korra is the opposite of Aaeng, when she discovers she’s the Avatar, she’s excited and spent her whole youth training to be the greatest fighter mastering all bending outside of airbending. While Aang was primarily a defensive fighter who went to great lengths to avoid violence as a solution to a conflict, Korra was ready to kick ass and chew gum. Korra’s constant conflict throughout the series is being told that she as the Avatar is not needed anymore. It starts off small when Amon of the Equalist movement tells her she is no longer needed because ‘benders shouldn’t be superior to nonbenders.’ this continues onto the second season where her uncle tries to replace her as the dark avatar, and comes to a tragic level in season three where the radicalist Zaheer wants to kill Korra and end the Avatar cycle for the sake of chaos and anarchy. The tragedy comes at the end of the season where Korra is damaged physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally and is told by her mentor Tenzin that the newly formed air nomads will aid the people of the four nations further pushing the message that Korra isn’t ‘needed’ anymore. In contrast with most tales of the Hero’s Journey, Korra realizes that in contradiction with Aang needing to resort to violence to save the day (he technically didn’t, but there was still fighting), she needed to rely on pacifism and talked her final foe down without resorting to what she believed was needed in the form of brute force and skill to save the day a few years ago.  

Now there’s Sailor Moon; many people see it as the one of the girliest shows out there. They might be right, but who says a story aimed for girls can’t have depth? Compared to the previous two examples, Usagi Tsukino almost had to be dragged into heroics kicking and screaming. The manga, nineties anime adaption, and live action tokusatsu series do a decent job of Usagi’s growth into a hero from her usual cry baby antics (the first episode of the nineties anime is literally named Crybaby Usagi’s Beautiful Transformation). What convinces her to go out and become a hero despite being a crybaby with zero combat ability? Her friend Naru is in danger (she never turns her back on a friend, she’s always there to defend, she is the one on whome we can depend), so she leaps into action without a second thought to save her best friend. As the series continues it is shown that what Usagi lacks in heroism (there are times where Luna and Tuxedo Mask have to talk Usagi into believing in herself to beat the bad guys), she makes up for as a people person genuinely liking most of the people she meets and standing up for oddballs and social outcasts that would later become her dearest friends.

By the third arc of the manga Usagi admits that she has accepted her fate to protect the earth from all who want to do harm to it and it’s people. In the final series arc she even gives a pep talk to a future incarnation of Sailor Moon known as Sailor Cosmos that even though the fight against Chaos seems hopeless, she can’t destroy the Galaxy Cauldron because then there would be no more life and that even if the fight against Chaos seems hopeless, it’s no reason to give up.

The Legend of Zelda

Why is The Legend of Zelda getting its own portion to this essay? Because it’s just that amazing. In nearly each Zelda game, there is one constant. There’s a Link, and there’s a Zelda. Things got a little interesting a few years ago with the release of the Hyrule Historia finally placing some clarity to many fan debates of how the series worked concerning our two main heroes.

Our heroes Link and Zelda are both subversions and straight examples of a hero and a Chosen One (this can vary from game to game). Each Link is a hero earning the Triforce of Courage for their courageous deeds (and in two cases getting the complete triforce). Many fans wondered how each Link was connected, and the only connection between them outside of the green tunic was bearing the Triforce of Courage, thus being the subversion of a ‘Chosen One’.

The multiple Zeldas in the series are an interesting approach to being a ‘Chosen One’ and ‘being born into the job’. It was revealed in The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword that there was indeed a fourth goddess for Hyrule known as the goddess Hylia born into a human by choice into the first incarnation of Princess Zelda. From that point onward future Zeldas are by technicality a Chosen One in their adventures not because they are royalty, but because they have the blood of the goddess Hylia flowing through their veins and with this power are trained and obligated to protect the land of Hyrule.

In the most recent game in the series Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, this incarnation of Zelda can’t connect with the power wielded by her ancestors and doesn’t like the pressure of being needed to protect Hyrule due to her inability to connect with these spiritual abilities and would rather be a scholar aiding in the research of past technologies. In contrast the Link of the game is a stern soldier fully devoted to Zelda and to the land of Hyrule ;Zelda laments that Link may have chosen this path because his father chose it and asks him what if he had chosen a different path mirroring his own situation with her own.

Unlike the Zeldas, most Links don’t have the baggage of having a duty to protect the kingdom and are just someone who stepped up to the plate to save the day for various reasons either to save a friend, sister, or because a tree told them to do it.

Subversion of Everything I Just Talked About

I have some issues with Chosen Ones; not that a story is bad for having a Chosen One, but that in writing once you set your protagonist as a Chosen One, you wrote yourself to rely solely on a protagonist. First let’s talk about destiny.

Destiney can tie into having a Chosen One because they’re destined to be chosen (so shocking). Back to Star Wars, in 2003 the video game Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic was released; it is one of the only GOOD Star Wars games out there. You can literally make your Player Character have decisions that affect their affiliation with the Force (as in you gain light side points for giving a man money, or can earn dark side points for mugging that man instead). You can also strike up conversations with crewmembers of the Ebon Hawk, one of them being Jolee Bindo. Bindo provides some insight and an alternative perspective to  the way the Force is seeing as he isn’t on the best terms with the Jedi Order.

One story is how a force user named Andor Vex who is told that the Force has a strong interest in him. Andor takes this as a sign that he will be a great hero and is cocky, this eventually leads to him confronting a villain and is taken captive. Andor begins to mouth off and brag about his destiny, resulting in his neck getting snapped and his body tossed down a hole that leads to his captors getting blown up. The lesson from this is pretty obvious that  just because you are told you have a big important destiny, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a delightful one.

To continue on with the thought of destiny there is Steven Universe; in the later portion of the series the main protagonist Steven begins to think he exists and was created for the sake of a big fancy destiny, possibly from the influence of his friend Connie.

Steven is a unique entity on his show where he’s half gem and half human. He was created because his mother, Rose Quartz, was so intrigued by humans and their ability to choose their own destiny, decided she wanted to have a child so that said child can choose their own destiny. By the episode Lion 4: Alternate Ending, Steven becomes obsessed with finding out more about his life and what his mother wanted for him only to be told by his dad that nothing in Steven’s life was planned and that everything that has happened so far was by pure chance.

Philip J. Fry

Philip J. Fry was the protagonist (sorta) to the animated scifi comedy series Futurama! He was a delivery boy from the year 1999 who got frozen and now lives in the year 3000 (sort of) as a delivery boy. As the series goes on it is discovered that Fry is a very important and special (no not that kind) person.

Because of time travel it is revealed that Fry had a one night stand with his grandmother and is his own grandfather. It seems like a throwaway gag at first, but this makes him the most important being in the universe; because of Fry’s ‘nasty in the pasty’, Fry lacks the delta brainwave making him immune to mind control and having his own mind read.

This doesn’t make him a Chosen One and Fry does qualify as a Special, but his importance is never really brought up. While the Nibblonians were aware of Fry and his importance, once his job of defeating the brainspawn is done (twice) he lives an uneventful life most of the time when he isn’t saving the universe by dumb luck alone.

I really do like the approach to Fry in Futurama since his character arc was planned from the start of the series instead of thrown in out of nowhere as the series went along. Futurama is also filled with constant subversions of science fiction and fantasy tropes that inspire the show and treated with love and respect.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Super heroes, they’re not exactly chosen to do the job of being a hero, but they do a good job of doing it. I like comicbooks, The above title for this part of the essay comes from The Amazing Spiderman as something Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben tells him shortly before being killed. And this quote does indeed echo not only through the Marvel Comic universe, but the DC universe as well.

There are hundreds (possibly thousands) of superheroes drawn and printed onto comicbooks once a month that range from being a mutant, alien, gifted with powers, and so many origin stories of how they became heroes.

A common plot involves the hero getting the power by sheer accident (like Spiderman or The Flash), they then proceed to use said power for the sake of doing good. In the case of Spiderman, it was originally just to find the crook who killed his beloved uncle (like a more sarcastic and middleclass Batman), but Spidey decided to keep on saving the day.

Honorary Mentions

  • Once Upon a Time- the first six seasons of this series followed Emma Swan and her adventures in the small town known as Storybrook as she slowly begins to understand and accept her life as the Savior with constant forks in the road of her eventual destiny of saving everyone (even the villains)
  • The Hunger Games trilogy-I’d Argue that Katniss Everdeen is only a hero because her sister just so happened to be selected to participate in the games. Had neither of their names been selected Katniss and Prim would have just continued on their lives and no big rebellion would have happened.
  • Battlestar Galactica-holy crap this series is all kinds of weird “because God wants it this way” going on.

They All Said Ouch

The hero protagonist has been here a long while and is here to stay. The same thing goes for being a Chosen One. The story of a hero can and has evolved though from basic stories of individuals doing good deeds just for the sake of doing them to complex prophecies saying ‘someone will save the day’, and even stories both real and fictional bringing in a protagonist who came from nothing and caused many great and good things to happen.

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What I Learned from National Novel Writing Month

This past month for the first time I participated in Write a Novel in November and I am proud to say that not only did I finish said novel, I went above the 50,000 word count required to ‘win’. It was an interesting experience for me along the lines of ‘something I’ve always wanted to do, but never have.’ I’m going to be honest and say that I thought I was just going to go strong and write the target amount of 1,666 words per day the first few days and then forget about it and just fall behind and fail miserably.

But I didn’t; I kept going and going on typing the story. Some days were easy where I could just keep on typing and the words went onto my computer screen with grace, competence, probably some minor typos, and didn’t sound forced. And there were days where I was literally pulling anything out of my ass and hope that it made sense in the grand scheme of things. Some days were harder than others not because of writer’s block, but because I was busy with the Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday, and I honestly didn’t want to write on my birthday (I still wrote something, just not the 1666 word count).

Today I am going to tell you how this strange approach to writing a novel has taught me about the novel writing process and what I learned about myself as a writer (I feel like I’m typing an essay I did last year to graduate again.)

Why Would You Do That to Yourself?

Why would I torture myself to write the first draft of a novel in a month? Well it isn’t the first time i’ve written a full novel, those novels were written side by side when I was eighteen when I had better time management and what not. This time period was around seven to nine months which isn’t too bad. However both novels are under 50,000 words and should not be read by anyone ever.

I chose to participate in National Novel Writing Month because I have been working on a novel on and off and created a little universe with outlines for heroes, villains, and all kinds of magic. But it’s been nearly half a decade since this started and it’s mostly been short stories that have been finished and one of the main stories has yet to be finished at all.

So I told myself “you gotta see if you can actually finish a story again before you want to continue on with your little multiverse,” and that’s what I did.

How did you Prepare? What Inspired your Story?

I became ‘pregnant’ with my story in the spring of 2016 while taking a hydrology class and reading Water the Fate of Our Most Precious Resource by Marq Devilliers. The book talked about water and different situations concerning irrigation, dams, the pollution of water in parts of the world, and some of the history of water.

One day I had the image of the world shortly after the end of humanity and a lonely mermaid traveling the wrecked seas looking at the remains of humanity and struggling to stay alive herself because of all the pollution. I may save this concept for a painting.

I prepared for this story by making an outline and setting goals for myself and creating structure by choosing how many chapters to write ahead of time. I settled for thirteen chapters because it seemed like something that was doable for me since this was my first time doing this.

I also set rules for myself; the primary ones being that I would not use any ‘chosen one’ themes (I will write an essay about that soon), no romantic interest and no love triangles (I made damn sure not to fall into that), and to stay as lightly above religion as possible (despite my best efforts religion (okay fine christianity) has made its way into my writing).

So what REALLY Happened? (and some areas where I know I made mistakes)

As I mentioned above I went pretty strong with the start of the month sticking to environmental themes at least for my story. THen came writers block. These were night where I pulled anything out of my ass just to get the plot rolling and ended up doing something that I like to call ‘Off Road Writing’ where I went off the main plot of the outline and created something new. It did benefit in some situations where characters grew more and became more fleshed out.

Speaking of fleshing out characters a mistake I did make was having two supporting characters hijack the story from my protagonist for possibly three chapters.

I also did make a mistake concerning a habit of my protagonist that developed on its own that i will have to go back and rewrite some parts of the story just to have things make more sense for my protagonist.

The drawback of Off Road Writing was that the environmental and climate change themes I had planned out and that had inspired the story took a backseat and despite my best efforts did not make it back into the main plot so well. However themes of life and death and what life is worth did take it’s place so for the second draft I may be able to save what was once lost.

Also despite me intention of this story being stand alone, it is still a stand alone story, but it has been incorporated to my little multiverse, which is kind of a good thing since i got to introduce a character sooner than I wanted to and give an aura of mystery to him.

What Will I Do Now?

I’m taking a break from this novel I’ve written just to forget everything that happened and catch up on my own reading and continue job hunting. I’m actually going to ask a handful of trusted friends to read it and give me feedback and condemn me for my crappier parts of the novel the nights I literally pulled crap out of nowhere.

I don’t know if I want this to be published, definitely not in its current form, but you never know. In its current form I’d give this little novel I’ve written one seashell out of five.

Pride Month: The Need for the Coming Out Story

In the past I have made my thoughts and opinions of the coming out story very clear; they are not particularly my favorite story to read/watch/listen. I even wrote an essay on my issue with the coming out story and how I feel it is an overused plot for lgbt+ fiction and how the genre needs to move away from that plot so that lgbt+ characters can be treated as something beyond coming out as gay.

Today though I want to say something different; although I still have the same feelings concerning the coming out plot in lgbt+ fiction, I want to talk about how the coming out plot is important to readers of lgbt+ books as members of the lgbt+ community or as a loved one of someone who is lgbt+.

It Happens to Everyone in the Community

Coming out as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Asexual, or Queer (if I missed a form of sexuality I’m sorry, things just keep on getting added and I don’t keep myself as updated as much as I use to) is something that every member of the LGBTQA has the opportunity to go through.

The story is different for each person; coming out can have negative consequences; I’ve read and heard stories of teenagers being thrown out of their homes or disowned by their families because they’re not straight. In some worst case scenarios it has lead to said person taking their own life. It’s a scary realistic fear every person who’s not straight (I don’t feel like typing LGBTQA right now) has in their mind.

In the past based on what I’ve been told by older friends, the option was never to come out to family members. Just live their romantic/sexual lives in secret and in a sense catfish your loved ones into thinking you just haven’t found the ‘right member of the opposite sex’. Although this solution seems like the easiest one, it’s not the right one. It’s not good to hide and lie to your loved ones, even if the end result wouldn’t be a happy one, it’s better that they know the truth. Atleast it’s better than them finding out via accidentally catching you watching gay porn.

Not all coming out stories end in hurt, some families and friends are happy and supportive of those who come out. If the coming out story, both in reality and the media, has done anything for everyone, it’s given us a form of normality. It has taken the dreaded confession of what a person is and weakened the possible reaction of hate. It has helped turn hatred towards someone for not being straight into understanding, support, and joy. Or atleast reduce the amount of homeless gay teens (hopefully).

It’s a Coming of Age Story

The coming of age story is a story where the protagonist goes from youth to adulthood. I’m not saying coming out as gay makes you a responsible adult ready to take on life, but things do change and your world is shifted.

What better plot to a coming of age story than to have your protagonist come out as gay? It could be the central plot to a story where the protagonist spends most of the book wondering what will happen once they come out as gay and suffering anxiety because of it. Or coming out can work as a macguffin where it simply serves the purpose to get the plot going and your protagonist doing things.

At the end of the story the protagonist will have changed, hopefully for the better (unless the author is Orson Scott Card). The protagonist can either have a very nice happily ever after, or a very vague unknown open ended outcome.

It Can Give Courage, Discussion, and Understanding

The first time I learned of the concept of being gay I was eight. I didn’t think it was a big deal, just a little off. Then puberty hit me; I hoped and prayed that it was just a weird phase I was going through. I thought that being weirded out by two men kissing a little was enough to prove I was straight to myself and supported my hope that I was going through a weird phase.

There wasn’t much LGBTQA media aimed towards teenagers (that I knew of) in the early 2000’s to 2008 so I didn’t have access to coming out stories until I was more or less an adult. I did have the internet through, access to Japanese manga, and an older friend who took the time to listen to me.

These stories that vary from worst, best, and okay reactions to coming out as LGBTQA. They can give someone who is going through what I and others went/are going through courage to talk to their parents, family, and friends and discuss what is going on with them in their life, and these discussions even lead to weeding out who’s a real friend and who’s a fakeass bitch. I can’t guarantee to every person reading or watching a coming out story that things will have a ‘Kurt Hummel being embraced by his dad’ reaction, but it can always, hopefully, open the door for discussion and the ability to face the fear of the unknown.

Bisexuality is Real, Don’t be an Asshole About It

Many people say that bisexuality is someone who doesn’t want to come out as gay or something for people who just like to sleep around with both genders. Don’t be one of those assholes please. Be supportive of your friend or loved one who knows that they do love both genders.

Part of My Own Story

There are two versions of my coming out story; the one for school and the one for home. The one for school was the shitty one; shortly afterward being outed I was harassed by a classmate for two and a half years (I think he dropped out of college and has a kid now. I gave him the wrong answers to a final exam so he didn’t graduate on time).

Coming out at school was done because Melissa Richardson outed me. Melissa Richardson is a fake ass cunt who loves the band Bowling for Soup. I will say thank you to her for allowing genuinely kind and loving people into my life who were nice to me during my time of being shunned by my peers. I hope whatever version of Christianity you’ve made up for yourself this year is to your liking. The mantra of “this shit is over after May 2008” played in my mind until I got my diploma from highschool, hugged my dearest friends (I’m sad to say I lost touch with all of them), and left those who wronged me to the rest of their lives.

Coming out at home started with my cat because you have to practice with someone who can’t judge you too harshly. Eventually though the first human family member I admitted this to was my brother. I don’t remember why but I was feeling okay that particular friday night. I asked my brother something, he replied with a asshole remark, I brushed it off as whatever. I was eventually called back into the room and he hugged me telling me I was loved. I don’t know if it’s because two years of being a youth leader at our church gave him good observation skills about me not being at my happiest, or if somehow my low key status at school (look there were over 1000 students my graduating year, even with what I provided above I did go through four years being very low on the social radar) had somehow gotten to him.

He was very understanding, I think it’s because he was taking both psychology and sociology at the time. He did warn me that our parents were suspicious of my sexuality and to not come out by accident. That it would be better to come out in person.

The December of that year I told my dad I was gay; it was a scary morning for me, and the biggest relief in my life. I was still loved by my dad, I wasn’t thrown out, I wasn’t told it was a phase in life, I suspect he may have secretly prayed to God to make me straight or send ‘the right girl’ for me, or that this was a sign I was supposed to join the priesthood (I don’t understand why older catholics are trying to get so many people to become priests. Fuck that shit). Over time I’m sure he accepted it.

My mother found out via literary gay porn (yes my porn is in ebook format, no it’s not Fifty Shades, I can do better than that). It ended as well as it sounds.

Your Story Will be Different

I’m aware my story was more or less a walk in the park compared to others. While I did have a shitty time at school, my home life was more or less the same. To the teenager reading this little blog right now who is scared not knowing what they are, please take time to sort things out mentally and talk to a school counselor or someone you really trust about your struggle. You will know when you are ready (also for the love of everything sacred do not let porn of all things out you).

To the teenager who is aware they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, asexual, or queer, I can’t guarantee things won’t be happy when you come out. Every situation is different, I have no end all perfect solution to this problem that doesn’t involve brain slugs or corgis. If you are planning to come out to your parents and fear being thrown out, please make precautions and make sure someone will be able to help you in a bad situation. There is also always hope that your parents or guardians will be understanding of the situation and totally accept you as is. And please, please, please do not consider suicide as an option should things go wrong. It’s not a solution. If you are feeling scared about your current situation please contact the National Suicide Prevention HotlineThey even have part of their website devoted to you.

To the Minority of LGBT+ that are Christian and unsure of if it is a sin, it’s not and Jesus loves you regardless of who you love, unconditionally. There are others like you that believe in God too, I’m one of them.

You Will Always be Coming Out

Something I’ve learned since coming out in the first place is that you are forever doomed to be coming out. While coming out to your family and friends is the main milestone in life, you will always end up coming out; it will either be to a homophobic person talking shit about gay people, it will be to new friends who haven’t realized you’re not straight, it will be to someone your friends set you up on a date with not realizing you’re not straight, it will be to whatever eventually replaces Facebook in the future of social media and you gotta answer what you are interested in for relationship purposes.

And finally you will come out to the person who matters the most to you, your future spouse. The one you want to love the most for the rest of your life.

Beauty and the Beast 2017 Review

Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, or rather twenty-five(ish) years old. In continuation with live action adaptions to their classic movies Disney adapted their animated classic Beauty and the Beast to live action film staring Emma Watson as Belle, because let’s be honest we all secretly wanted it that way and didn’t know it, I didn’t even know I wanted it that way.

Unless you’re just barely born, or just escaped North Korea or some other communist regime there aren’t really any spoilers beyond these bold texts. Okay fine there are SOME spoilers.

For the past few weeks I had been teasing my dad that if I ever had kids I would make him watch this new Beauty and the Beast with them countless times since I made him sit through the animated Beauty and the Beast countless times growing up. Yes I apologized to him for doing that and thanked him for being such a patient parent with me growing up.

This morning my dad got back at me by sarcastically saying “how different could the story be this time?” And he was right. This new live action Beauty and the Beast is nearly an exact live action remake of the animated film. There are some differences though.

In the beginning of the film rather than having stained glass windows and narration tell the prologue, we see the Enchantress do the deed of placing the spell on Prince Adam (Dan Stevens) with narration and the same score from the animated film. From there with some tweaking it is more or less the same movie.

Plot holes were addressed (such as the timing and pacing of events seen in the animated film) and corrected in this version. Characters are fleshed out, Belle is not a victim of Stockholm Syndrome (Emma Watson made damn sure of it).

I like that Belle was upgraded from just being a bookworm who longed for more. I know Belle was unintentionally the entry drug for little girls in the nineties to get into feminism. But to me growing up her ‘longing for more’ didn’t exactly scream ‘strong independent woman’ since she was living off her dad still. Now Belle is a book worm, one of the few literate people in the village, and a bit of a engineer since her dad makes music boxes. During the movie though part of me was searching more for Hermione in Watson’s performance as Belle. I then sighed and told myself that Emma Watson is not Hermione and that Hermione is not Belle.

Speaking of Belle’s dad, he too is upgraded from strange elderly person who is an adult child to balance the MAN the Beast is in Belle’s life. He has been downgraded from wacky inventor to heavily respected music box maker. His decisions in his and Belle’s life stem from the fate of Belle’s mother (I honestly don’t know why so many parents were killed in Disney movies up until recently).

The Beast is more or less the same, except he too is literate, so in this version when he gave Belle a library it really did mean something. It’s because of their love of books, his distaste for Romeo and Juliet, and bonding with Belle over stories that they do fall in love.

Our awesome household appliances also get screen-time, but not much of an increased role. The stakes are raised that if the spell cannot be broken they will literally turn into plain objects. What was interesting was that this time around there were family and loved ones of the castle staff who were unaware of what became of them due to the Enchantress’ spell.

Gaston (Luke Evans)  and LeFou (Josh Gad) also have extended roles. Gaston has a backstory of being a war hero and LeFou is confirmed to being in love with Gaston. Other than that they’re just the same, I won’t spoil what becomes of LeFou’s ‘gay old time’. Yes there was the gay controversy concerning LeFou, but let’s be honest you all don’t want to read ANOTHER blog post about that. And if you do, go google it somewhere else then.

Finally, there’s the Enchantress herself. She is actually present in the now unlike the animated film where she’s just illustrated on a window (we don’t speak of Enchanted Christmas here). Part of me was hoping it would be Helena Bonham Carter from the 2015 Cinderella film continuing her work as a fairy who gives a test of character to the people she’s watching and connect the two movies, but Hattie Morahan does a lovely performance as the Enchantress though, even if she doesn’t say a damn thing.

Artistically the film is beautiful, and the costumes are amazing to look at. Of course the music is a wonderful experience too, yes some of the original score from the animated film was kept in and there is nothing wrong with that at all.

Beauty and the Beast was a huge part of my childhood, it made me interested in becoming an artist (how many three year olds do you know have the ability to stick to a dream to their early twenties and sort of accomplish it?) Seeing it on the big screen adapted to live action was great and I intend to watch it again and maybe buy the Beast at build a bear workshop, unless a wonderful (mentally healthy, book obsessed) man on the internet wants to propose to me with said Beast doll.

I give Beauty and the Beast 2017 three and a half places of The Grey Stuff out of five. (it’s caviar?????)

Toonami Twenty Years

Like some kids who grew up in the 1990’s I watched Toonami. It wasn’t my introduction to anime (that was Sailor Moon), but it had a major influence on my life. It exposed me to anime and the unique form of story telling that it brings.

As I’ve mentioned before I learned to draw and became an armature artist because of anime, so I have Toonami to thank for gaining these skills and abilities. Anime was unique to me; before anime the only cartoons I had were either comedy based which wasn’t artistically appealing at times to me (hey look at that, I was a kid who couldn’t draw for shit critiquing the artistic abilities of others!) or they were Disney. Alot of the times unless the animation was a movie, there was no closure to a story. In the 90’s you were lucky if you got a season 2 to your animated show. Anime and Toonami changed that for me, the first anime that I saw in completion within twenty six episodes was Outlaw Star.

It was intense to me because characters fought pretty violent fights and when someone died, they died for good. There was alot of attention to detail in the animation too. I stayed a loyal fan to Toonami because I slowly began to like anime more and more and all of the variety provided to me through Toonami exposed me to genres like Mecha, Magical Girl, Harem, etc. I also indirectly discovered my favorite anime and manga CardCaptor Sakura through Toonami.

When Toonami was cancelled I was a little shocked, but not terribly surprised since all they showed Naruto (I don’t care for Naruto). I was a little annoyed that I missed the final airing, but i accepted that it was time to move on with life since I was going to start college at the end of the month anyways.

THen on April 1st 2012, Toonami came back bitches. I remember the night that I just had the tv on in the background as I listened to what was happening. At the time and even now alot of my tv watching is me listening to what’s happening while reading an article or chatting with a friend unless I particularly like something. Then I heard Steve Blum’s voice. And that Voice saying “bitches”. It was kind of like hearing one of your parents swear for the first time. I stayed up the whole night watching anime and loving it.

You’re all probably thinking that this strange adult in his late twenties now spends his saturday nights watching Toonami. Sadly no because I now have a social life, okay not as much of a social life as I once had in the past few years, but I don’t watch Toonami anymore. But I’m happy it’s on.

These days I’m probably asleep Saturday night because old people just fall asleep the second they’re in a comfortable position in bed. And sleep is awesome, I try to get as much as I can (this might explain how I can function without coffee at my age). I’m happy Toonami is twenty years old and I hope it stays on for a few more years.

Legend of Zelda Breath of Wild Review

Last Friday after realizing what day it was and doing some quick calculations I got myself The Legend of Zelda Breath of Wild for the Wii U (I traded in a few games. Kind of on a budget.) I had been happily waiting for this game since it was announced in 2014 and after one week of exploring Hyrule, going through dungeons, and creating a drinking game out of dying (essentially it was a shot each time a died, two shots if it was a boss fight, down a cup if I was doing something really stupid), I have finished the game. Also BEHOLD THE FIRST (and probably only) GAME REVIEW ON THIS BLOG!

Spoilers from this point on

It was a fun game and very unique in comparison to other Zelda games starting with the fact that there is voice acting and you can’t change Link’s name. Another major change is that the game functions mostly as an open world environment meaning little to no loading screens unless you’re doing a special challenge or decided to warp to a different area in the game.

Gameplay

I was a little disappointed to see that Nintendo wouldn’t continue using motion controls with Breath of Wild after having so much fun with them in Skyward Sword. Using the Wii U gamepad wasn’t a bad experience, however as soon as muscle memory kicked in things went along more smoothly. There was still parts of the game that involved using the gamepad as a motion control that didn’t quite go as smoothly and almost resulted in me throwing the darn thing out of a window.

Having this game be an openworld game was an interesting experience since I never had played one before and didn’t fully get the concept. There were a few times I was lost in the game and had to backtrack some steps and take things more slowly rather than running around gliding from place to place for the sake of doing things the fast way.

The dungeons in this game are Divine Beasts you have to purify from Calamity Ganon’s control. My only complaint is that at times going through the dungeons themselves seemed too short with boss fights essentially being “stab it until it dies” rather than using strategy the whole time to fight the boss. Fighting bosses at times could be breezy so long as you timed dodging an attack perfect to unleash fury on the boss, or just came fully prepared. The lack of finding hearts and rupees in grass was a very welcomed change in Breath of Wild bringing in a new challenge of how to prepare for boss fights by cooking specific food dishes out of the ingredients you find around Hyrule and creating very useful potions out of the remains of monsters you kill in battle.

The game also takes a step away from other Zelda games by not having specific items and weapons needed for dungeons. Weapons could also be broken with the sole exception of The Master Sword, and even then it would need recharging at times. This got annoying at times since very useful weapons got destroyed out of sheer anger with minor enemies.

One item of importance is the Sheikah slate; it’s Link’s smartphone. It can be used to download maps from various areas, take photos, become a makeshift pokedex for enemies, wild animals, and other things, set reminders on quests, and everything but make a phonecall.

Another nice twist is that the start of the game involves you avoiding most of the monsters in the game similar to one would do in the first Legend of Zelda game (well that’s how I played it anyways). You couldn’t just barge into a room killing all the enemies without some serious consequences of either nearly being dead, losing a valuable weapon, or just plain dying.

I also liked the inclusion of the environment affecting Link in the game; you had to change Link into different clothes to suit the condition he was in. Hot volcano area? Special Goron armor. Wanna swim faster? Zora armor. Wanna sneak around? Use the Sheikah clothing (which was THE BOMB to use when exploring while wanting to avoid enemies).

Finally a love and hate thing I had with the game was the fact that the game didn’t hold your hand while you were playing it. Unlike in Orcarina of Time and Skyward Sword, Breath of Wild gives you little to no hint of what to do outside of “go to these places” which was kind of bad for me since I would rush to marked areas, die, and start over. It was when I slowed down and took the rout to areas marked on the map that the game became easier to play.

The Story

I’m still having trouble trying to figure out where Breath of Wild takes places in the timeline of The Legend of Zelda. The only clue given is that there is still reference to the goddess Hylia still being worshipped, but in the stages of being overlooked by the citizens of Hyrule. There is no ill will to the Gerudo tribe and the royal family, oddly both the Zora and Rito tribes coexist, the Kokiri have become the Koroks, there is still a Sheikah population beyond Impa, and the royal family is all but dead.

The game starts with Link awakening from a hundred year slumber to Zelda calling out to him. From that point on Link is placed on his quest by the spirit of the King of Hyrule (who now slightly resembles the late Robin Williams) to save the land. Link is giving the Sheikah slate instructing him to go to Impa to figure out how to save Hyrule.

The story concentrates mainly on Link and Zelda’s relationships with the citizens of Hyrule in the past and their fallen comrades at the hands of Calamity Ganon. In this version of Hyrule things are not going good at all with the castle destroyed and Zelda being the sole survivor of the royal family.

The background of the story is that Hyrule has gone to shit with Calamity Ganon corrupting ancient technology the Hyrulians and other species were using to banish him once and for all leading to not only Link being mortally wounded, but all of Link and Zelda’s allies being killed. As mentioned in gameplay Link is required to purify the Divine Beasts and free the spirits of his fallen friends in order to bring peace back to Hyrule.

A major theme in the story is doubt and having the ability to overcome doubt and what others think is destined for you. During game flashbacks Zelda heavily questions if she, Link, and their allies can defeat Calamity Ganon constantly thinking Link isn’t skilled enough to win against Calamity Ganon and hating herself for not having the power of the goddess Hylia despite Hylia’s divinity flowing through her blood. Another key point is that Zelda is more interested in doing research and studying the past rather than her role as princess and relying on prayer and meditation to use her powers.

There is a better explanation on some background events seen in Orcarina of Time and other games when it looked like there was friction between the Sheikah and the royal family by introducing the Yiga who are Sheikah who broke away from the clan and seek to kill Link.

There is no mention of the Triforce, it is there, but I’d rather not say what happens for the sake of a lovely twist in the Legend of Zelda series.

Artwork

Breath of Wild is beautiful; the game continues using the same cellshaded artstyle seen in both Wind Waker and Skyward Sword leaning more towards the later. The game also seems to lean more towards Wind Waker HD with a beautiful combination of cellshading and HD. I will admit I was hoping the game would be like a watercolor painting the same way Skyward Sword tended to be at times, but I got over this desire pretty fast.

I played the Wii U version so I think I got the less fancy one. If I ever get a Switch I’ll do a comparison of both games to see which system brought out the full beauty of the game.

The music also compliments the artstyle of the game very much with music increasing in tension at times of danger and turning light and soft in times of normality in the game.

Final Thoughts

Waiting two and a half years for the game was worth it, trading in Pokken, Professor Layton, and Animal Crossing was worth it, literally spending all of last Friday playing the game and making some friends think I’d been kidnapped may have been going a little overboard.

But the game brings out the best of the Wii U and possibly the best of the Switch (I’ll probably have to buy one if Nintendo kills off the 3ds). There is so much to do in the game both in the main story and side quests and even just screwing around and exploring Hyrule is worth playing the games at times considering how huge it is now.

I give The Legend of Zelda Breath of Wild for the Wii U and the new Nintendo Switch five out of five Sheikah Slates.

The Subject of Race and Ethnicity

Today I read a blogpost called You can’t do that! Stories have to be about white people and it reminded me of a subject I had been wanting to write about for a while that isn’t about the representation of gays in the media (btw yes I will review When We Rise when I see it in it’s entirety), Christianity, or essays on genres. Today we are talking about race and how the default protagonist is still white. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, but it’s something that still happens. and as Darren Chetty mentioned in his blog post if you want to write about someone who is black or of another race, you have to make your story about the fact they are black/their race (as in your black character has to struggle with racism, they can’t just be black), because if your protagonist isn’t white, it doesn’t sell books as well.

What do you mean you have to make the story about a person’s race if they’re not white?

One of the things I loathed hearing about in middleschool, highschool and my first few years of college was people assuming I would write about my Mexican heritage. Like THAT was the only thing ticking in my mind. It’s not a bad thing, but every time we read stories about Mexicans in school it was always about struggle and how life was shitty for the main protagonist.

Granted I acknowledge that these authors were writing about their own life experiences and respect their stories and life struggles, but my life wasn’t their story and isn’t that story to tell. I had my own struggles, they were nothing like the struggles seen in Hispanic literature. In comparison my life would be seen as a piece of cake by those authors and my struggles would be labeled as a first world problem (which sadly they are).

As I mentioned above Chetty did mention that if I ever write a story with a Mexican protagonist, I gotta write about Mexican heritage or problems or my book (allegedly) isn’t selling squat! For publishers to even consider publishing my book, my protagonist has to either have Mexican problems or have his whole plot centered around coming out as gay (yes I snuck that in too).

What about the TV?

Television has been interesting about race; let’s start with Star Trek the original series. It had Nichelle Nichols playing Nyota Uhura and George Takei playing Hikaru Sulu. A “black woman on the tv who wasn’t a maid” (as described by Whoopi Goldberg) and a Japanese man (who would later come out as a proud homosexual) portraying characters on a science fiction show treated as equal to their colleagues despite their ethnicity.

It took a while for both movies and tv to move past have characters of different races be portrayed as characters beyond just being token minority (it’s debatable if Uhura or Sulu were token minorities). As a kid in the 90’s I saw tokenism at it’s extreme in afterschool specials, and educational television. I remember this one show shown to us at school called The Human Race Club where all the races and ethnicities were represented…and led by a blond haired blue eyed kid with glasses (it had a smart Asian girl, a black kid who liked basketball, a tom boy ginger, and a fat kid).

There was also Power Rangers; three fifth’s of the main five rangers were white (Jason, Kimberly, Billy) with Zack and Trini as the token black and asian without the producers ever realizing that they assigned Zack and Trini as the black and yellow ranger to match their races until it was too late. There was also Tommy who was later revealed to be of Native American decent, not sure if it counts though since it took four seasons to reveal that. This was fixed later when Austin St. John, Walter Emanuel Jones, and Thuy Trang left the show with Rocky (Steve Cardenas), Aisha (Karen Ashley), and Adam (Johnny Yong Bosch) as the new red, yellow, and black rangers respectively of Hispanic, black, and Asian/Jewish ethnicities included.

After the first season, Power Rangers has actually been pretty good about representation of all the races and even had a few ranger teams where the girl or a black person IS the leader (Alien Rangers, Turbo, Time Force, SPD, RPM, Dino Charge). Still no female red ranger though…

Captain Planet also had a minorateam, with the only white American usually being the whiner who had to learn a lesson in the episode. If any of the other members had a plot devoted to them, they were not the whiner. Trust me.

On the CW DC television something interesting happened; races of characters were changed from white to whatever the creators wanted. The whole West family? Black. Jimmy Olson is no longer a adorkable ginger, but is now a hunky black guy with dreamy eyes for Kara and the audience to oogle at (don’t worry, Kara has an adorkable tech friend for fans who are into that sort of thing to oogle at too). There is the issue too some that even though diversity has been added to the cast of these shows, the leads are still white people. With the addition of Legends of Tomorrow (with no MAIN character, but rather having a team lead) and Vixen (female African american (she actually is from Africa)) things are nice and diverse in the live action DC universe.

Because I can’t cover ALL media, here are some honorable mentions. Codename Kids Next Door (it’s like The Human Race Club, except bigger budget and isn’t corny), Star Wars The Clone Wars/Rebels (they have aliens, it counts), W.I.T.C.H. (multiraced badass magical girls), Steven Universe, and Drawn Together (look that show was hilarious regardless of what today’s politically correct millenials will post on Tumblr)

TV comedies (Ugly Betty, The Mindy Project, and Fresh Off the Boat)

It seems races and ethnicities get an easier time at representing different races. In some cases, rather than playing their race for the sake of drama and story telling, they play them for comedy. In the case of Ugly Betty, being of Mexican decent wasn’t a big deal too often. While the show did fall victim to relying on problems faced by immigrants today (for the first and second season Betty’s father was illegally in the US), Betty’s heritage is played for laughs except for one episode (Mark said Betty only got a job to fill a token Mexican spot).

The Mindy Project is awesome; Mindy’s Indian heritage is a joke most of the time and has only been the subject of drama once when Mindy was scared that her son would only know of his Indian half based on a Indian food menu on Mindy’s fridge. Bonus points for Mindy being the subject to large amounts of slapstick humor during the show despite being a woman.

Fresh Off the Boat is a touchy subject; despite being based on the memoirs of Eddy Huang, Huang hates the show feeling they turned his emotional outlet of rap and hiphop and life struggles into one dumb asian joke for the other races to laugh at. Eddy Huang if you ever read this I am sorry, but it is a hilarious show, I have read your book and I understand your anger concerning the show. If it makes you feel better, it has given more exposure to asian actors and actresses.

A Wrinkle in Time movie adaption (this time it won’t be awful)

As many have heard Madeleine L’engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is getting a film adaption with an open cast. Meg Murry being played by Storm Reid and the rest of the Murry family (minus Chris Pine’s character) now black. To add to this Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which will be portrayed by Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey respectively (gotta read that book again and imagine Mrs. Who shrilling like Kaling now).

What can one do to add diversity to books and entertainment?

I’m not sure actually, but you can start by reading The Lunar Chronicles since it does have a racially diverse cast. And tell your favorite authors “hey, I would like some diversity in the fiction you are producing.” Support authors who do write about characters of different backgrounds. Write your own stories about these things fight to get them to be published, I know I am with my books.

 

The Green Aesop

In celebration of my degree in Environmental Science I figured I’d dedicate a whole blog post to The Green Aesop. The Green Aesop is a trope that has to do with the environment. Said tvshow, movie, book, or any form of entertainment will have a message concerning the environment and how it must be protected. Most of the time it doesn’t quite work out so well; while it is easy to point fingers and say “hey this is bad for our earth, let’s create a story with a lesson,” it’s hard to make it entertaining, likable, and not frak up the message (let alone be accurate in staying true to your message).

It would be too easy and too lengthy to say “these movies/books/tv shows that try to preach about being environmentally friendly suck and are awful for this reason,” so I’m going to list a few forms of media that do a decent job of keeping the environmentally friendly message. Here is a list of shitty movies/tv episodes/seasons that are just awful. Ferngully 1 and 2 (the later does educate children a little more about how circuses mistreat animals though), The Lorax (2012 film), The Day After Tomorrow, season five of The Winx Club, and Power Rangers Wild Force (kudos for being balsy enough to kill off a kid on screen though). I’d include Epic on this list, but I haven’t seen it so I can’t exactly pass judgment on it properly.

Captain Planet

Let’s get the biggest green cartoon out of the way; Captain Planet was created by Ted Turner from Turner broadcasting and featured five teenagers with the powers of Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and Heart. These powers were given to them by Gaia the spirit of earth, and they were all different nationalities (with one of them from the Soviet Union of all places). I will admit it’s kind of hard to not want to mock the show for taking it’s save the earth message and shoving it down your throat, even as an adult.

The series was smarter and more thoughtful than viewers gave it credit for covering topics that had to do with the extinction of an entire species in a bad future, basic human rights and needs, nukes, and just about any environment message you can think of. They even have an episode concerning over population advising all the kids watching to limit themselves to having two children.

There were a few good episodes though; the extinct species as mentioned above had to deal with a future where all gorillas just died. I caught it by chance as a kid and it was fairly meaningful to me then and still is. The possibility of existing in a future where my child asks me “what happened to all the ____” is a pretty depressing thought. There’s also an episode where the subject of technology is addressed; Dr.Blight, one of the major villains, switches bodies with the physical god Gaia because she’s a mad scientist and why not. While Dr.Blight is causing all kinds of chaos through the form of natural disasters, Gaia spends the episode trying to figure out a way to convince the planateers that her body has been stolen. It is through this experience that Gaia learns that technology can be used to help reduce and clean up pollution.

In terms of characters, three fifth’s of the planateers are pretty dull and only seem to have personalities once in a blue moon. Wheeler (who the hell names their kid Wheeler?) and Mati have the most personality with the former being a total douchebag who needs to learn a lesson most of the time and the latter being the heart of the group and the key power to forming Captain Planet. Captain Planet himself is a half naked blue man with a green mullet who makes puns while doing the dirty work for the planateers when things get a little too tough for them to handle. Gaia is their mentor and is kind of dull. All their villains are kind of weird, but they seem to fall under “let’s pollute this shit for the evuls!” and “let’s save millions by polluting in this area!” and crazy ass Dr.Blight.

The show was pretty well animated though, action packed enough to keep kids fairly entertained. The story itself can range between too cheesy, too preachy, and actually entertaining.

Humans are Not so Bad

In alot of these shows there is some emphasis from the side of the animals/nature that humans are to blame for any environmental issue and don’t care to fix the problem. In the 1939 animated feature Peace on Earth, all humans are dead and cute woodland creatures have rebuilt society on their graves. The short functions more as a warning about what war can do to our species and how we can easily be the cause of our own demise with war obviously being the main source of pollution with just a sprinkle of propaganda for Christianity. This short was created between World War I and II and could be relevant today, but someone would be offended about that little sprinkle of Christianity in there (nothing against any other religion or atheism, but seriously this modern day society would literally cry over spilled milk, being offended by that statement is proof that I am correct).

However, there are some films that show humans not being such bad people. Once Upon a Forest is one of these movies that shows that although humans are responsible for a gas leak in a forest killing some of the population, including the parents from one of the protagonists (and they stay dead too), humans did put the effort into cleaning up the mess caused by the gas leak.

The Simpsons Movie (and probably some of the 600+ episodes), does feature the citizens of Springfield put an effort to clean up their pollution thanks to one of Lisa’s more successful warnings. Some episodes do involve animal rights and it’s a fifty/fifty chance at the outcome to what happens.

As mentioned above with Captain Planet the planateers do have their elemental powers, but rather than use violence to solve anything (the most violent they got was maybe melting a door down), they provided solutions to problems presented to them. It was their job to solve the actual problem rather than kick the ass of the villain of that particular week.

Corporations (Wall-E vs The Lorax)

It’s funny how two films on complete opposite sides of good and awful sort of have the same message. Before I go on, the book of The Lorax and the first cartoon are actually really good. The 2012 film should have everyone involved with writing banished from civilization.

What Wall-E and The Lorax have in common is that all the problems are caused by big business with Wall-E literally causing the end of the world and The Lorax just having a ecosystem just totally destroyed.

I think what makes Wall-E the better film is that the primary story is a love story between two robots. True there are heavy references to the Bible (Eva is the name of Eve in some countries and one of the few named humans is Mary). The fact Earth got messed up is background noise and when the humans return to earth, rather than regret coming back to the planet, they fix things up using science and technology (and are even successful at it too.)

The problem with the Lorax film is that it doesn’t give a flying fuck about the original message. If you want a more detailed reasoning for this belief, please click the link above to a woman who reviewed and compared the book and film of The Lorax, I swear it’s just coincidental that we share many of the same views on the topic of the film. Just to list a few issues, many of the important scenes of the book are glossed over during the How Bad can I Be musical number, the film cares more on developing the character of the Onceler, the film is constantly saying “big business bad!” and we’re supposed to believe it, Zac Efron having a crush on Taylor Swift, and the fact someone thought it was a good idea to turn forest creatures into clones of the god damned minions!

The book version of The Lorax is of course darker with the Onceler giving a warning to an unnamed boy about how he destroyed the land by not listening to The Lorax. When the topic of business is brought up, the Onceler does defend himself (admitting in a ‘I don’t care’ way) he tells the Lorax that if he were to close up shop, he’d have to lay off countless workers. The book also does not have a happy ending with Dr.Seuss choosing to end the book open ended.

We Dun Fraked Up

Similar to Peace on Earth there are some sources of media where things are too messed up to recover from, a bad example being The Day After Tomorrow insisting that all of this crazy weather will pop up out of nowhere (mass extinction and an ice age don’t work like that). A good example of this would be the series finale to the Jim Henson sitcom Dinosaurs.

What starts off as accidentally destroying a habitat for native bugs for semi big business, the lead character Earl accidentally causes the end of the world with nukes, volcanoes. It’s the darkest episode of the series where the last few moments feature the Dinosaur family slowly being trapped in their home by a combination of ash and snow with Baby asking what’s going to happen to everyone. Earl say’s he doesn’t know, but is hopeful they will survive this predicament. Sadly it is heavily hinted that things will not get better and that the family, friends, and many others will perish during the events of mass extinction.

Earth Maiden Arjuna and X/1999

This thirteen episode anime Earth Maiden Arjuna is sort of like Captain Planet meets Sailor Moon, minus the fun parts of Sailor Moon, and going to dark places Captain Planet was not willing to go. After dying a teenage girl named Juna is offered the chance to return to life after being given a future of current and future travesties to befall the earth. Juna becomes a magical guardian of Earth. Topics of climate change and humanity is brought up, and in the trailer for this anime it’s even mentioned that humans are just temporary parts of life on earth and will one day die with the earth living on without humanity.

X/1999 is the total opposite of Captain Planet with Earth being a living entity and having the Dragons of Earth act to destroy humanity for the sake of Earth living on because humans have caused so much pollution and waste. To counter this, the Dragons of Heaven counter attack the Dragons of Earth and argue that humanity can change it’s ways and that it is possible for earth and humanity to co-exist and recover. Instead of concentrating on “hey let’s recycle these coke bottles because it allows us to reuse them in a new way” X/1999 focuses more on the humanity part of the subject with the members of the dragons of heaven being from various faith backgrounds and life backgrounds giving reasons on why human life is worth saving to the dragons of earth.

Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli is an animation company out of Japan that makes amazing movies, sometimes with an environmental message subtle (like pulling a bike out of a polluted river in Spirited Away) to being the main theme of the story (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke). The studio may be successful in these endeavors because both the message and the story are taken into consideration and are properly prioritized without one overtaking the other.

Instead of repeating the same story over and over, different approaches are made to each story. Nausicaa has more to do with survival in a world where a toxic jungle is slowly spreading over the land and giant bugs run around. The movie is based off a manga and covers the first two volumes with interesting views. Princess Mononoke has more to do with the expansion industrialization causing the destruction of nature and finding a balance between humanity and nature.

Honorable Mentions

Before I finish this up, I’d like to have some honorable mentions on tv episodes and books that did a decent job with an environmental message; the Futurama movie Into the Wild Green Yonder, The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe from Doctor Who, Extras by Scott Westerfeld, Zanzibar from Rocko’s Modern Life, and episode 23 of Animaniacs.

How do you write a good Green Aesop

I don’t know; it’s a topic where one has to intake many sides to a conflict humanity faces to fully understand, and then actually make it entertaining. I can say that keeping things fairly real and honest is a good approach. Sure songs about wanting a tree to live, cute critters running around, and using magic for the sake of sparing the feelings of a child sounds like a good idea, but it’s not a good thing to say. It is the responsibility of humanity to monitor the current situation we are in, educate ourselves on what other people on this planet are facing, find out WHY big business is considered a villain in all of this and how to reduce the waste we produce, how to to re-use as much as we can, and how to recycle things we don’t use. (oh gosh I have no idea if my professors would frown upon this or love it.)

Seven Facts About my LGBT Book

I’ve been working on this book for a while now; the first draft was finished back in 2008 and I’m ashamed at what a mess it is of me throwing shit in there and hoping it makes sense. Eight years later though I’ve made an outline, thought and even prayed a little over what needs to be in it and what shouldn’t be in it. Here it is, seven facts about my own LGBT book that I intend to finish by November next year.

  1. There will be no “coming out” portion of the book; as I’ve said before I’ve read alot of coming out stories and I feel that they’re becoming the main gimmick of lgbt media, plus my main protagonist is already dealing with enough anxiety, hiding his sexuality and gayngst will drive the poor boy nuts.
  2. There will be God and a bit of Catholic stuff in there;  I had debated on keeping this from the first draft of the story out of fear of alienating those who are religious or members of the lgbt community who aren’t comfortable with the topic of God and Christianity. I have decided that it should be in there, for personal reasons and in hope that if someone needs it, they will find it and it will help them.
  3. There will be angels and demons; I gotta make the story interesting if there’s no antagonist via “coming out to the family”.
  4. There will be music; from light christian music to some of the hardest metal ever made.
  5. There is no “chosen one”; seriously that’s kind of over done at this point too.
  6. It was originally fanfiction; To Dead Like Me!
  7. It needs a name! I had a name for it in highschool, I don’t mind it, but I don’t think it applies to where it’s going now.

There we are, seven facts about my LGBT book, I’m really hoping what started as a personal project out of boredom when I was seventeen will see the light of the YA book area of Target one day.

Thoughts on The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren

Last weekend my friend invited me to go to the Texas Teen Book Festival, at first I was reluctant to go because I had heard book con was more of a marketing type of event and that it applied to all book related conventions. My attitude changed when I saw that the author of the soon to be released Ahsoka book by E.K. Johnston would be there and I became giddy discovering Mindy Kaling would be there as well. Sadly I did not get an autograph from Mindy Kaling or to even ask my question and give her a drawing I did of her high fiving her animated counterpart Disgust from the movie Inside Out. On a side note, I got E.K. Johnston to fangirl with a drawing of Ahsoka Tano and in return she gave me a sticker to place on my copy of the Ahsoka book coming out October Eleventh. I’m buying each edition.

This isn’t about meeting super famous celebrities or making authors fangirl though; today I’m reviewing the lgbt book The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren by Cody Wagner. I encountered this book partially by chance and partially by a failed attempt at flirting. I discovered the book when I saw a man wearing a tshirt with a pikachu cosplaying as Harry Potter and I thought That is such a cute shirt, holy crap someone taller than me! I must take a photo with him! Upon approaching Cody Wagner he was very sweet and we had a small quick conversation and he told me about his book The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren.

I knew I had to have it because 1. I am a member of the lgbt community and 2. it sounded like the type of story I felt was missing from lgbt stories. Also there were lots of hugs between us (like seriously none of you have no idea what it’s like to be taller than most of your friends and meet someone taller than you).

Possible Spoilers concerning The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren, I will try to provide as few spoilers as possible.

I will admit I didn’t like the start of the book because it is a coming out story gone horribly wrong. I have nothing against coming out stories, I’ve just read and seen alot of them. As soon as our protagonist Blaize gets to Sanctuary Preparatory Academy the story actually takes off. I was also happy to see that only the start of the book had gayngst.

Much to mine and the character’s surprises the boarding school is far from the ‘pray the gay away’ type of story I was expecting, and most of the mental complaints I had about the characters made sense by the end of the book (these ARE teenagers after all..)

I was actually very happy to see how the story played out and how both sexuality and the main antagonist was more background noise than anything else. Don’t get me wrong, homosexuality is a big deal in the book, but aside from the beginning none of the characters make a big deal about being gay. They are normal teenagers who do normal teenage things and deal with normal teenage issues like peer pressure and bullying.

I was actually very happy the topic of bullying was approached in the book and that sadly no matter what school you are going to it is there and sadly kids and teens don’t take it as seriously as they should. However I do like how the protagonists handle this issue and rather than approaching said bullies in a confrontational way they take the higher road and are the better person.

Also to my relief and shock the topic of romance doesn’t come up too often and things I expected didn’t happen, to which I am very pleased. Cody Wagner did a very good job of keeping surprises as subtle as possible.

I highly encourage reading The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren, you can buy it Here. Do it, right now!

I give the Gay Teen’s Guide Guide to Defeating a Siren five Healing Hamburgers out of five.