There’s a ghost in my house. I’ve been talking to her.
She doesn’t talk back very often. In fact, I’ve only heard her once. I think she told me her name.
But the thing is, I’m not even sure if she’s real.
If she’s not actually there, that means I’ve been asking lots of questions to absolutely no one for about a week, which is slightly embarrassing. But if she is there, that means I can talk to ghosts, which is kind of badass. Regardless, I’m putting this story on the internet, so I guess you can decide for yourself.
It all started when we were eating dinner. I looked down the hallway and saw a white silhouette so clear that I thought it was my brother. I asked him what he was doing and turned around to find him walking into the kitchen behind me. I looked back in the other direction, but the figure wasn’t there.
“I just saw a ghost,” I said, quite matter-of-factly.
My dad, the self-proclaimed cynic, is surprisingly interested in the “supernatural,” if you will. While he’s never seen an actual ghost-like figure, he’s experienced quite a few unexplainable events.
He proceeded to text my aunt, who is our go-to gal for all things psychic and told her I’d seen an apparition. To put her into perspective, she once made me come to a meditation with her, involving tinctures, crystals, incense – the whole set-up. (Whilst there, I discovered that in my past life I may have died in 9/11, but that’s a story for another day.)
She responded saying that I needed to ask the ghost what it was doing and why it had made itself known to me. I eyed my father skeptically.
“I would do it, dude, but she [my aunt] says you’re more in-tune with this kind of thing,” my dad said to me, in a manner that reminded me of a little kid trying to convince his mother to buy him a lollipop.
My mom assured me that I didn’t need to attempt to communicate with the ghost if I didn’t feel like it.
But I felt a sense of obligation, like this was my duty. This was a task that had to be done, and only I could be the one to complete it. I was Gilgamesh setting out on his quest, but instead of searching for immortality, I was just trying to talk to a dead person.
So anyway, that’s how I started talking to this ghost in my house. At first, I was a little freaked out, but from what I’ve concluded from our encounters, I think she’s friendly and just here to visit, so I’m not worried.
I think she was telling me her name is Mary. The reason I’m not exactly certain I heard it correctly is because I thought I might have been tricking myself. My dad’s grandmother was named Mary. She was an artist and we have her paintings hanging all over our house.
But, like I said, I’m not sure if any of this was real. I’ll let you know once I figure it out.
The icecaps are melting. Human green house gas emissions have grown 80% since 1970. On average, annually, a women makes eleven thousand dollars and men make twenty-one thousand. A headless chicken named Mike lived for eighteen months after its head was cut off. Toilet paper kills 27,000 trees daily. By 2050, one million species of animals will be extinct. But, the problem dominating the internet (not), bringing major social uprising (sarcasm), and (said ironically) causing riots around the world: non-dairy drinks being called milk. *GASP*
Dairy farms protest dairy alternatives such as soy, almond, cashew, and coconut being called milk. This issue has been taken to congress and brought up with the FDA. It is rumored that the FDA will ban the use of “milk” in the title of non-dairy beverages.
Let’s be real here. There are MUCH bigger problems facing our earth today. People, sit down, pour a nice big glass of almond milk, and email congress or the FDA to say “START DOING SOMETHING NECESSARY WITH YOUR AUTHORITY!”
Just this past Friday, March 30, A Series of Unfortunate Events season two arrived with gusto. Streaming on titan platform Netflix, season two has expanded from eight episodes to ten and takes the views up through book nine.
This season sees the introduction of the two remaining Quagmire triplets, a swagger filled Nathan Fillion stepping into the role of Jacques Snicket, and a wonderful, fourth wall breaking, sense of self awareness that shows of this nature often lack.
While yes it does follow a predictable plot line, which was a problem many had with the first season: bad guardian –> something terrible –> Baudelaires escape. The beauty of this repetitive and predictable plot line though is it allows actors like Neil Patrick Harris (Count Olaf) and Nathan Fillon (Jacques Snicket) to really work their roles and have fun doing so, which is reflected as fully realized and sharp characters.
The plot, instead of taking front and center like most shows/movies, takes a backseat to an incredibly immersive and rich world. Instead of trying to turn darkly fantastical source material into highly approachable comic realism (e.g. Marvel Comics), the plot champions a wonderful sort of self-realized, almost escapist fantasy that is unafraid to hit viewers in the face with a strong message of: This is our world, not yours.
With this world also comes the introduction of the highly secretive and, thus far, very vague secret society of VFD as the Baudelaires chase after red herring after red herring (ha).
This season is wonderful and keeps the Baudelaires on the move, it maintains the spirit of the books and the first season with dexterity, and manages newly introduced plot lines with ease. I recommend this show so highly it and I are probably in space. Go watch it.
Now I may be a bit biased by the fact that I get to see one of my all time favorite series on screen, if one is in the mood for a more comprehensive look at season two (spoiler warning) there is one here.
For all of my peers who participated in the national school walkout today, I want to thank you for standing up for what you believe in and being catalysts for the change that our country so desperately needs. We know what kind of world we deserve to live in, and we are making it a reality.
Growing up in an age of technology, social media and internet access can be a double-edged sword of sorts. We can use our technology as a platform for positive things, like spreading awareness and voicing our opinions on all sorts of matters. But, that can also result in a nearly obsessive need to receive validation for our experiences. This validation comes from documenting and posting about almost anything that occurs and is worthy of being noticed.
This dichotomy poses a question: If you don’t post about it does it even really matter?
I’m not trying to be cynical, I’m just genuinely curious if that is a justifiable way of life. I’m not saying I am immune to it, but I would also like to think that I’m not dependent on my social media, nor do I find validation solely through it.
Something I noticed throughout the protesting that took place today is a lot of people seemed to have no idea why they were a part of it. Sure, they knew that it was in honor of the seventeen victims of the Parkland shooting, but they were mostly participating just to follow along with everyone else.
I received several messages, posts, etc. talking about the protests and ways to be involved, which I appreciate, but in lots of ways they all seemed so disingenuous. I am fully supportive of young people’s activism. But when you send me snapchats of yourself wearing an orange t-shirt to “show ur support!” I can’t help but think that you really have no idea what you care about, you just want me to know that you “protested.”
When asked what you believe, you can give a coherent reply. But when asked why you believe it, you have no idea.
It’s almost as if you don’t even care about the victims of all of the past shootings, you don’t even know why people are fighting for stricter gun control/laws. You only care about how many likes you got or how many people viewed your story.
Being a part of a protest itself (actually being an active activist) should be validation enough, it shouldn’t need to be found on instagram. But maybe that’s just the way I look at it.
So, yes, I understand and agree with the fact that social media can be used to spread awareness and to generate change. I also realize that these walkouts were fueled by social media, and that without it we wouldn’t have accomplished such a large-scale and widespread protest. But when half of the people I see posting have no idea what the significance of it is, it just makes them seem ignorant and it takes away from the importance of today’s events.
It is inspiring to see so many young people who already have such strong opinions. But if you have no idea why you have certain beliefs, if your beliefs don’t have a purpose or a foundation, then you might as well not believe in anything.
In order to be effective you must first be informed.
Please stop making shows/ movies about mental illness willy-nilly. Coming from a girl with clinical depression and anxiety, your depictions never get it right. I’m a sucker for any entertainment, especially your notoriously binge-worthy shows, but your new affinity for “starting a conversation” and “bringing awareness” to such prominent issues is doing more harm than good.
First, let’s start with the insanely popular 13 Reasons Why, which follows the events that “led up” to junior Hannah Baker’s suicide. Back in May, when I watched the show, I felt disgust whenever it was brought up. I had watched it because I was so excited to see how a major platform, like Netflix, could start a trend of accurate representation of mental illness in the media. To my dismay, this show became another failure. I wrote a lot about this show in a previous blogpost, but I have a few things I forgot to mention. Besides being extremely triggering for those with suicidal ideations and/or depression, the show’s creators forgot to think about the very real consequences of putting out what they did. In the two weeks following the show’s release, searches relating to suicide, such as “how to commit suicide” or “how to kill yourself,” went up over 19%. To put it into different numbers, about 1.5 million more searches were made relating to suicide. Yes, these statistics aren’t exactly the show’s fault, but such a dramatic spike had to have some catalyst. Also, many teenagers and adults started performing “copycat” suicides or suicides that resembled that of Hannah Baker’s. For example, a 23 year old man committed suicide and left behind 13 audio recordings assigning blame to people he knew for their part in his suicide. You can’t possibly tell me that he didn’t have any persuasion from either the book or TV show. Since the show did not follow guidelines from the World Health Association, a very reputable expert of health in my opinion, on how to portray suicide in a healthy, non-triggering way, many people have faced grave fates on the creators’ behalves.
Moving on, Netflix most recently released a show, Atypical, about a senior in high school with autism. I, again, watched the entire season, very quickly I might add. Sam, the main character, navigates the new world of dating, which involves getting his first girlfriend. He and his girlfriend, Paige, have a sweet relationship, but it all ends when he admits his love for his therapist, Julia, in front of her entire family. Writer Matthew Rozsa writes about how grotesque this specific incident is, among the many others of show. “These aren’t classic signs of autism — they’re violent, creepy, cruel and make the autistic character seem like a monster. When the show then shifts gears to make us feel sorry for Sam, the characterization becomes more offensive. Arguing that those with neurological conditions shouldn’t be held accountable for hurting others is as patronizing as it is socially irresponsible,” he said. Sam even says that autistic people don’t lack empathy, which is very true even though many on the spectrum can’t physically or verbally express it, but some of his actions contradict that. The Olive Garden scene is an example of it, Sam, being as high functioning as he is, couldn’t realistically not see his wrongdoings, as shown by his overall awareness throughout other parts of the show.
The show also follows the lives of Sam’s family and how they have to accommodate him. This is one of the only things that is represented fairly and realistically, as an autism diagnosis doesn’t mean that loving, sarcastic, silly dynamics of family go away. However, this notion that autism is an issue that affects everything about a family’s dynamics is very harmful. Although I don’t have anyone in my family with autism or personally have autism myself, I know that living with this disability is tough. Not only is it hard to function in the world, the stigma that comes along with it is also extremely hard. That’s something this show forgets about. In trying to make an accurate representation of autism, the creators forget to get to the true depths of the disability. While writing this post, I had a long conversation with one of my friends about the show. While she doesn’t have autism herself, some of her family does. What the show misses is the fact that autism has a huge toll on the families it affects, but also the person. Actor Mickey Rowe tells of the gross misrepresentation of this notion. “Sam is a high school senior at a regular school, and he doesn’t use an assistant or paraeducator, so he’s largely independent. Yet his parents seem to hint that they haven’t been able to go on a date since he was born, implying that they’ve sacrificed their own lives to help him through his. What’s more, they talk about Sam as if they don’t have anything in common with him and at times appear to present their son’s autism as a tragedy,” he said. The show lacks the rough toll autism has on the individual, even though there are plenty of first-person accounts they could’ve included in it.
The show claims Sam is high-functioning, but his symptoms are all over the place. In a series of interviews with autistic viewers of Atypical done by The Mighty, Lamar Hardwick, who is on the spectrum himself, explains this perfectly. “There were parts of the episode where I felt some autistic traits Gilchrist [Sam’s actor] displayed were a bit too overstated. While the actor did a pretty good job overall, issues such as lack of eye contact and taking things literally started to feel like a caricature of autism. I’m not sure that an autistic person would always see themselves in that light,” he said. Although the show means well, it makes autism into an anecdote, focusing on common symptoms, to provide a goofy portrayal of Sam’s autism.
You’re left with a character who is kind of a jerk and has an overly-dramatic version of what autism really is. It’s even worse when you see how his family’s characters are much more developed and multi-faceted than his. Possibly the biggest fluke in this show is that none of the creators have autism or a family member with it. Instead, the screenwriter and executive producer, Robia Rashid, “had to do a lot of research.” Research doesn’t always lead to accurate findings, though. Sadly, this show missed the mark about how real autism really is.
Now, I may be coming off as extremely negative, but there is one show (well, movie actually) that I wanted to finish my letter with. That would be To The Bone. Again, this movie doesn’t get the eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa 100% correct. The main character, played by Lily Collins, is a young, privileged, white, and skinny girl who has divorced parents and extreme family issues. This movie had the opportunity to showcase a fat, unprivileged grown man or a person of color with the same disease to show that it doesn’t just affect those that look like Ellen, Lily Collin’s character. As far as eating disorders go, anorexia is very prominent in the media. There are so many movies and books talking about this disease. What I liked about this movie, especially compared to 13 Reasons Why and Atypical, is that the director and the main actress both have had anorexia. An article from Variety magazine describes Marti Noxon’s, the director, accurate portrayal of the disease as, “ [not an] especially pleasant movie to watch, but it is one that just might save a few lives.” What you get when you watch To The Bone isn’t some linear progression to recovery, but an extremely up-and-down diegesis that ultimately shows that recovery, something that is desperately needed when dealing with an eating disorder, is worth it in the end.
One thing I like to mention before I finish, can you tell me one thing these characters have in common? I hinted at it in the last paragraph. Still guessing? They’re all white! Not only is the media containing a complete lack of representation of mental illness, gender, sexuality, and people of color, but you never see a culmination between any of these themes. GLAAD does a very well-rounded data analysis of misrepresentation in media overall and I recommend you check it out. Netflix had a wonderful opportunity to create shows with directors and actors with these disabilites/diseases. They have all different kinds of actors willing to be a part of any media they create and while I applaud Netflix for their overall diversity, they still missed the mark when it came to these shows. The only people of color I remember in these shows are Ross Butler’s character in 13 Reasons Why and a fellow member in Ellen’s inpatient facility who happens to be black. The representation of these characters would’ve done way better in terms of conversation if they changed the way society traditionally sees these challenges. Make Hannah Baker a lesbian, Asian girl who has unforgiving parents. Make Sam black and underprivileged, not having the ability to hug his older sister. Make Ellen/ Eli an adopted, obese girl whose family couldn’t see her illness because they weren’t educated. Create new conversation by adding in REPRESENTATION. Youtuber Annie Elainey puts this into perspective perfectly.
I finish with a plead. While these movies and shows are indeed raising awareness, they have to deal with their subject matter delicately. Mental illnesses, eating disorders, and other disabilities affect too many people to be taken so lightly. What all these people need is a positive, accurate depiction of their lives. They don’t need uneducated producers and directors making stories that they can’t connect with. I love that Netflix is trying to help, but I suggest, like what To The Bone did, that the creators of these shows know what their subject matter is like. Research and conversations don’t even compare to those living with it. No amount of paper can match the grief of another hospital visit. In order to create something with truth, real experiences need to be showcased.
Halloween is arguably one of the most fun holidays. You can dress up like a banana, a zombie cheerleader, or even a cat. However, a certain kind of costume that is not acceptable, comes around every year. Those costumes fall into a small category: when people adopt the aspects and features of another race or culture as a costume, a joke. Some examples of this are blackface and yellowface where people will literally paint a color onto their skin to make them look like a different race. Halloween is not the proper place to display your racial microaggressions. You may not even be aware of them, most people aren’t. Microaggressions are when you say a racial slur or dress up as another race to make fun of them. Actions like these showcase how unaware our society is to the amount of cultural appropriation we experience on a daily basis. Some may take this as it not being okay to dress up as their favorite movie character of a different race, but that is not the case. Little kids can dress up as Mulan, Pocahontas, and Tiana, because they are doing it out of admiration, not disrespect. It is hard to identify when a costume goes from okay to bad. If you think someone will be offended by your costume then odds are it isn’t appropriate.
In 2012, a group of students at Ohio State University, known as STARS (Students Teaching About Racism in Society), made a series of posters to showcase this problematic Halloween trend. It is a series of six posters each picturing an offensive costume representing a racial stereotype, an actual person representing that racial group, and the same line: “You wear the costume for one night, I wear the stigma for life.”
And this is so true. Coming from a place of privilege, I don’t understand the type of oppression people of color receive on a daily basis; neither do any of the people who dress up as stereotypes of a culture. If you dress up as a racial stereotype, then you most likely don’t know anything about that particular culture’s daily oppression. People who don blackface or dress up as a nerdy Asian never have to live in the skin of people of color. They don’t have to wake up knowing they’ll be judged for the amount of pigment in their skin. Most people dress up as stereotypical racial figures to make fun, not knowing anything about what it’s actually like to be who they’re dressed up as. On November 1st, you can wake up in your safety bubble of skin and go on with life, but the group of people you made fun of the night before will continue to wear the skin and/or identity that you appropriated as a costume.