Books, Movies

Take Your Little Sibling to See Divergent

ImageDivergent, the latest in dystopian-teen-literature-turned-film-franchise, opened this weekend, and while it’s no Catching Fire, I would highly recommend seeing it and taking every young (and old) girl and boy you know. Set in an ambiguous future where people are separated into factions based on traits (honesty, selflessness, bravery, knowledge and kindness), Divergent focuses on 16 year old Tris, who’s inability to fit into one single faction makes her a threat to the government. Constantly compared to The Hunger Games series, it’s undeniable that the two share a lot in common, probably making a lot of people want to skip out on the Divergent craze entirely. But trust me, if you see the movie and aren’t struck by the intense fight scenes, Shailene Woodley’s performance, or Theo James’ face, you will remember one small but very important scene that I think everyone should see.

Tris, who chooses to join the “brave” faction known as Dauntless, has to pass a series of tests in order to complete initiation and join the Dauntless for life. Without giving too much away, one of these tests involves taking a serum that forces you to combat your fears, and allows the people around you to look inside your mind. Tris’ more insignificant fears involve being attacked by birds and being trapped in a glass case filled with water. But her deepest fear is of intimacy with her new boyfriend Four. Though Four and Tris have a good relationship in real life, she that Four will take advantage of her and force her to go too far without her consent. Under the serum, Tris manages to escape by physically fighting back, and when she awakes she is greeted with applause and Four’s acceptance. Yes, it was just a simulation, but the message is clear: Tris can defend herself against an attacker that she knows and loves, and people will be proud of her. It’s a small scene altogether, but the most important in the film, and will probably be the most important in its following two sequels.

A scene like this is featured in no other film in this genre. It goes without saying that Twilight portrays nearly the exact opposite, with Bella completely helpless around Edward- maybe they were in love, but who wants a heroine who physically can’t control herself around her boyfriend? And I’m completely Team Katniss, but half of The Hunger Games features Katniss forcing herself to get close to Peeta and act out the “star crossed lovers” bit so that she gets sponsors and becomes a fan favorite. It’s a survival tactic, no doubt about it, but when you really think about it, it’s pretty gross that either of them had to experience that. Divergent is a completely new outlook on this situation. Four isn’t a hero for respecting Tris’ wishes, but is just an example for how all boys should act. It’s not revolutionary, and maybe Divergent isn’t the next huge hit, but if it should be remembered for anything, it should be for this. You can be a badass heroine, and get the guy, and still feel safe about it. It’s your choice, and it’s a choice I’m happy to see portrayed on the big screen. Well done.

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Books, Movies, TV

What’s a “Guilty Pleasure,” Anyway?

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Since I was a little kid, I’ve had an obsessive personality when it came to books, movies, and TV shows. Caught between my older and younger sisters, you could also say my taste was eclectic when it came to the things that my peers were paying attention to.

And for some reason that is still beyond me, people have constantly used this trait as a way to taunt me. When I was little, I read too much Harry Potter. I was still watching Lizzie McGuire when everyone else graduated to Laguna Beach. In high school, it was absolutely ridiculous that I listened to the Jonas Brothers, and why in the world am I currently obsessed with One Direction? As if it was something that could infect the people around me, my “bad” tastes have been the target for teasing for as long as I can remember.

As an adult, I couldn’t care less what people have to say about my interests. And though it never extensively bugged me much as a kid, it did make me feel embarrassed whenever people asked me to play my iPod or started talking about what they watched on TV the night before. Any interview I watched with a celebrity would include the question, “whats your guilty pleasure?” and for a while it felt to me like everyone was on the same page: you could like whatever you wanted if it was popular, or if it wasn’t popular you could admit that it wasn’t cool and feel bad about it, or it was cool because it wasn’t popular. Plain and simple.

But if thats the case, then what is pop-culture? If everyone is going to either go along with the often-trivialized mainstream media that defines our society or hate it for everything that it is, than what is its point? Correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t movies and TV shows made for people to think, and for people to enjoy themselves? Sure, the making of films is becoming all about making money (which is an entirely different post all together), but I can’t be the only one who turns on the TV or opens up a book to at least learn something. Whether that “something” is educational, thought provoking, or just something else I’ve learned makes me laugh, it seems like it should be all about just enjoying yourself.

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Which brings me back to my original point. Harry Potter, apart of the mainstream pop-culture since the 90’s, is something that made me happy and made me want to read as a seven year old. Lizzie McGuire, one of Disney’s most popular shows, gave me a role model in Hilary Duff. And One Direction’s music is catchy as anything, and they’re talented, and cute. Who cares? Why has it been put in our heads that we should feel guilty for liking something that someone distributed for widespread enjoyment or education? As long as it’s not hurting anyone, and as long as any problematic issues are being acknowledged, then why should a third party be given the right to make me regret something that makes me happy?

I’m not saying that I walk around forcing the people around me to dissect the Jonas Brothers break-up with me, or bring up High School Musical in job interviews. But I am saying that this whole “guilty pleasure” idea needs to stop. Stop feeling guilty about the things you like! If people take issue with the things that make you happy, then they’re probably just jealous their taste isn’t as original as yours.

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TV

Good Job Charlie

Growing up, I watched a lot of Disney Channel. I believed basically everything that it told me, and it was only till I grew up that I realized Disney Channel wasn’t as perfect as I had thought (see Joe Jonas’ tell-all released in 2013). I’ve seen since then that there are issues with it, as there are issues with almost anything presented to mass media. There’s always going to be somebody offended, and one slip up could cause the ruin of an empire.

This time though, Disney made a great decision. On their hit show, Good Luck Charlie, they introduced a lesbian couple, and handled it, well, like humans. You can watch for yourself in the clip below, but here’s a quick summation: parents Amy and Bob are unsure about the name of their daughter’s friend’s mom, and when she shows up they realize the source of their confusion- it’s because she has two moms. And thats it. After inviting them in, Bob (in classic Disney-Channel-Dad fashion) says, “Taylor has two moms” and Amy retorts, “Nothing gets past you, Bob!” and then they carry on like adults. Though groups like One Million Mom’s are absolutely furious about this decision, and some may make the case that this decision only comes in the last month of the show’s run (Good Luck Charlie’s last episode is set to air February 16th), I think that its a step in the right direction nonetheless. The fact is, plenty of the channel’s viewers do have two moms, or two dads, and the fact that Teen Psychics could identify with a character on Disney (ha) but a child from a same-sex couple could not for so long is definitely limiting. And I can only imagine the look on a kid’s face when they saw, hey, Charlie’s friend is just like me! Job well done, Disney.

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