Drip, drip, drop

If this title immediately made “…little April shower” go through your head, then welcome to my childhood.

Disney movies get a lot of flack don’t they? Maybe not where you live, but where I live people can be pretty hard on Disney. Mainly because it can be “dark” and teach kids bad things about life.

Personally, I look around at what the Public schools are doing, and I think is Disney really the first place to lay blame?

But I digress. In my last post I talked about making things too dark in fiction and movies. But I ran out of time before I could explain what I meant by dark.

Well, the title song of this post is from Bambi, famously the saddest Disney movie ever. And that’s the first point of contention about this subject.

Does Sad = Dark?

Typically, the complaint is that the main protagonists loses one or both parents early on or at some point during the movie.

As I understand it, dark means that there is a lot of angst, anger, hate, or depressing ideas expressed in the material in question.

Sadness is just sad, but it is by no means unhealthy if it’s in the proper amounts. Sadness attached to losing a parent is perfectly all right, and it there wasn’t any, it would seem disrespectful.

Also, loss does not equal dark.

Can we just be real with ourselves and our kids? Up until the past 70–1oo years, losing your mother at a young age was fairly common, and losing your father could be just as common. In many countries it still is. The kids who went through this did not turn out monsters, or depressed and antisocial. They learned to accept grief and move on. If a movie tries to walk a child through this at a level they can understand, that does not make it dark. Let’s hope it teaches the child sympathy. I’m pretty sure Bambi was the first movie character I ever sympathized with, and that was a good thing.

Losing things does not make a movie dark. Unless it is one of the two things I’m about to discuss.

  1. Losing yourself.

This can make a movie dark, and that is perhaps why Frozen is accused of being dark, because Elsa goes through some major struggles with finding out who she is.

But Elsa is not, despite what some people will say, rebelling or pouring on the hate toward her past. She is trying, in her own words, to “Let it go.” And though she is a bit naïve about how easy it will be, in the end she is able to do just that, while retaining the most important things in her life. That includes her kingdom, which she is a better ruler to after she stops worrying about it so much. Elsa, if anything, gets a better happy ending than any other Disney Character, because her happy ending includes finding healing. To me that is a very good message and the opposite of dark.

But here are movies and books that depict people who are slowly unraveling themselves. A good example would be “The Devil Wears Prada.” In that movie, Andy starts to lost track of who she is and what is really important to her, she is snapped back to her senses at the end, but not until after doing some things that she will have to live with for a long time. But that movie is not particularly messed up.

A sadder example is Harlequin from the DC comic universe. There are variations of her story, but they all involve her slowly losing her grasp of morality, reality, and ultimately her sanity.

That brings me to my second thing

2. Loss of morality.

In my opinion, this is the only thing that is always dark. Someone can lose track of who they are and bounce back, so long as they never lose this one thing: Truth.

The most infuriating thing to encounter in fiction is a bad conclusion. The kind where the author shocks you by telling a compelling story and then ending it completely wrong. It may even be a happy ending, but it’s happy for the wrong reason. No one really changed, no one really learned their lesson. But when the ending is unhappy, then it is not just bad, it is dark.

See, a bent story is a story where good is evil, and evil is good, and evil wins. Every bent story is inherently dark. It is because the author themselves did not understand good and evil, or worse, they did, but they liked evil better.

Some stories are broken, good is good, evil is evil, but evil wins. These stories can be dark if it is stressed that evil won because there just wasn’t enough good to overcome it.

The main components that make up a dark story are these:

  1. A lack of light. The main character has no truth and they either find some by the end, or they get crushed  because the weight of what happened to them is too great.
  2. Endless suffering. This can happen either to noble or ignoble protagonists. But the noble ones tend to survive it, but no unscathed, and you feel so bad for them that you walk away depressed about life. Or, they are ignoble, and the suffering corrupts them until they ruin their own lives by making bad choices. Sometimes they start off noble and are made ignoble by what happens.
  3. No hero. Perhaps the worst kind, there is no real protagonists, there are just villains doing horrible things to all the decent people. Or there are no villains, and bad things just happen inexplicably.

The third one is rare I’ll admit, but it is not as rare as it used to be, lots of Young adult fiction books, and horror movies feature this kind of story. There is not a worse thing to waste your time on.

To go back to my title, little April showers do come. There is thunder and lightning, people do get scared. Darkness is scary to most of us until we learn how to face it. But a sad story can teach us that, a happy story can often teach us it better. A bent or broken story cannot usually teach us that. At best, they spur us on to not accept the ending as our ending. True healing and acceptance will never come through a broken or bent story. It just won’t. You can do better than that.

Until next time–Natasha.100_3137

Not real?

I had a new experience since my last post. Somebody online got a bit aggressive in a discussion and I felt somewhat like it was a personal attack. Thankfully, it got no worse because I did not respond.

I’m well aware  I may be the only person on this blog, ironically, never to have had this happen before, so I’m not going to act like it was a big deal. It is actually the topic we were discussing that bothered me, because I’ve known many people to get defensive about it.

Well, specifically, I’ve known many people to get defensive about how they like to watch horror movies, or read what I would call horror novels, though I believe they are mostly known as Young Adult Fiction. (Yeah, burn.)

Seriously, the amount of times this conversation has happened is a bit scary to me:

Me: You like to watch so and so?

Person: Yeah, I love that (show, movie, etc.)

Me: But it’s horrible.

Person: ( a little less enthusiastically) but I like it.

Me: But stuff like that leaves images in your brain…

Person: But I know it’s not real.

Me: just because it’s not real…

Person: Well, it doesn’t affect me.

It doesn’t always happen in that order, but I can almost guarantee the words “I like it”,”It’s not real”, and “It doesn’t affect me”, will come up.

I should fill in a little bit more of that online debate. See the debate was about books and writing, not movies. That’s mainly because the people I was having it with are readers, and likely not as big on movies as the people I debate movies with. I used to assume that people who were readers didn’t have the same problems (content-wise) as people who weren’t, but I have been disillusioned.

I find to my shock that many teens of about my age or younger write mainly one kind of story. You know the type if you’ve ever browsed through the Young adult section in a bookstore or library. (I avoid that section now.) It’s dramatic, it’s about teens, it usually involves mutants, vampires, zombies, or a post apocalyptic setting that might have a combination of two or all of those choices. The narration is usually in first-person. There is a lot of fear, confusion, and fighting back happening in that person’s mind, soul, or surroundings. On top of this, the person tends to be either incredibly immature, or incredibly callous and cynical. And they can be as young as 12 or as old as 16, usually.

My point being, these books are almost always garbage. Even if they are well-written, there are still several inherent problems with them.

The first one would be they are extremely dark. And that is what my debate centered on, how dark can a book be? (And still be healthy? I presume is the implied question.) Most of the people in this online thing thought it was all right to put a lot of darkness in a story, if, in the end, good overcomes it. Others cautioned against putting too much, and one or two thought it was perfectly fine to get in touch with you inner-villain and go all out on your characters.

Something you guys need to know about fiction writers: our characters become real to us.

The evil characters are not like real people to me, personally, but the ones between good and evil can be,  and the good characters always develop a lot of personality.

But the good ones suffer the most, and that is why the darkness question centers on them. But it also centers on the reader. And on the movie watcher, because movies and books have this in common, they make you, the participant, part of the adventure. They have you rooting for the hero and getting upset when things turn out badly. At least this is what a movie is intended to do. A book does even more in that it can leave it up to you to judge what should have happened. A book gets your mind involved, a movie may only get your emotions. Either way, you are meant to get something out of it.

If there is a lot of darkness in a book, that is what the reader will walk away with. I once got a nightmare from such a book, and I am not a person who usually gets nightmares relating to what I read. When I read such stuff, something inside me just says “This is not right.” But personal feelings aside, I think there are biblical reasons not to focus on darkness.

Suffering, evil, and all that goes with it are a part of life. But going to great lengths in your imagination to see and create such things is unhealthy. We are not meant to live that stuff on purpose. As evidenced by the fact that actors who played too many psycho characters have committed suicide, and many bands that have music centered on darkness are not composed of very stable people.

All I am stating is common sense. If this is where darkness leads then don’t go there. But it makes people angry when I knock their favorite material. Which to me is more evidence in my favor. If someone knocks my reading and watching habits, I’m not going to get super defensive unless I personally have misgivings about it already. When I am confident it’s good, I don’t give a rip what anyone says.

But if a part of me were saying “maybe this isn’t good for me.” I would be defensive, or, I’d choose the better option of considering that this person might be right.

That’s what I ask of my readers, who may already agree with me, or maybe only read all of this because they were mad. I can’t know for certain.

But I know that this stuff is important. The fact that it is fiction only means that it represents what people will learn to expect instead of what they already have; and if you expect bad things, you will get bad things. That’s all I have to say on that. Until next time-Natasha.100_4316

My Report Card.

How do you handle disappointments?

I’ve had a lot of them over the past couple of months. They always center around people doing things differently than I was expecting, and not just different, but badly.

As everyone knows I have high standards, and they may be too high at times. I don’t see myself failing as much as I can see other people failing, and I feel let down. Sometimes I do actually have a legitimate reason to expect differently, but not always.

Can you relate?

Well, I can not write some inspired post about how to fix disappointment once and for all. If we were to grade our lives like a report card, how many Ds would we give them? D for a disappointment, D for feeling discouraged, D for despairing of change.

What about some other letters, hmm? How do I personally handle the first D so I don’t get the other two?

Well, I always think about my problem for a while, I weigh it. I may decide I just need to move on, I may decide I need to do something, but the main thing is that I have to give myself an F.

F is good on this report card. F means Forgiveness. Forgive the people who let yo down, forgive yourself for getting discouraged or upset. Forgive God even for doing something you cannot understand. (Not that God needs it, it’s for us.)

Then you might want to give yourself a C for comparison. Compared to bigger issues, this may not really be important, but if it is, C is for Conversation and Companionship. I find it helpful to talk to people about what happened, let them point out things I hadn’t considered, and provide comfort, and then be grateful that they listened to me.

B is for Be Real. It’s not all about me, and the people who let me down often have mistaken ideas about what I want, or they just forget, or they are truly wrong but still need grace. I’ve probably done similar things, so don’t be too harsh.

A is for acceptance. Stuff happens, but often it can end up being a good thing. Never forget that God might be using you in this to help someone else, or that you might be learning something important that you couldn’t otherwise know. At the end of the day, just accept that people will never make you completely happy anyway. It is partly a choice, and partly God’s gift.

You know, I just made this up off the top of my head, but it is what I do to beat disappointment, and  I think it’s pretty good advice. (I might want to copy this list for myself.)

So, how was your report card and do you have any other ideas about not letting disappointments discourage you? Feel free to share them below.

Until next time–Natasha.003zhaoshaoang-flower-bird

Are We Starving?

So, I don’t really think I’ve brought up the controversy if homosexuality yet.

I am going to refrain from giving my opinion on it at the moment. My reason is that after hearing something related to the issue on one of the YouTube channels I watch, my mind got going in a different direction than just the right-wrong question.

As important as that is, there is a forgotten man, so to speak, when the issue is discussed.

The mindset of accepting the gay or lesbian lifestyle has formed a cage around people who don’t accept it. I don’t mean that they get called haters, I mean the cage no one talks about. The issue is simply a kind of stigma that is growing among people against showing any kind of affection to your friends of the same sex, without it being read as sexual.

I don’t know about you, but I am noticing an increasing emotional starvation among the people of our culture. It seems to center around the fact that no one shows any affection for us.

This is the thing, a pat on the shoulder, a kiss on the cheek, holding hands; those all used to be something friends could do. Not guy friends generally, but girls could. Men used to greet each other with a hand shake or a slap on the back. Some still do. In our generation, guys have (wisely) taken to inventing their own hugs and handshakes that are clearly defined as being strictly bro-things. Girls actually could take a cue from that idea.

It may seem weird that I am bringing it up, but it’s high time someone did. Human beings need physical touch. They need to hear words of affection. And they need to hear it from everyone, everyone they are close to. No matter what age, gender, or relation. And we are meant to exchange embraces with all the people we care about. I know plenty of people wouldn’t argue with me on this, and would even think it was obvious, but people my age and younger are starting to wonder.

If I am completely blunt, they are starting to wonder if the fact that they like getting hugged by people of the same sex, does that make them homosexual? They are wondering if they are gay because they like even the most innocent of touches. Even the word touch has some very ugly connotations attached to it now, you probably thought of some of them when I used it, or you didn’t. Good for you.

No one is telling kids that it is normal to want physical contact with people. It is just a way of feeling that they see you, if that makes sense. It is easy to feel ignored when someone glances at you and that’s it, they won’t give you a hug or any acknowledgement. But if they had their eyes closed and still gave you a hug, you wouldn’t feel ignored at all. Think about it, touch is powerful. A person can look at you, and hear you, but not really be seeing you or listening to you, and you can feel invisible or unimportant. But a simple hug or a pat on the shoulder, and you feel noticed. Some people who don’t like to be touched don’t like it because they feel too seen. Some people dislike PDA for the same reason.

I won’t deny there’s always some respect due when you’re using touch as a way to show affection, but there’s respect do no matter what way you show it. The point is I see this taboo touch thing as a direct attack on love.

That may sound nuts, but hear me out. Friendship is a difficult thing to maintain, and it is hard to have a deep, meaningful friendship nowadays because people have forgotten how to do it. There is an uncertain balance among millennials and Generation y-ers over how important friendship is.

Most kids, it must be admitted, will dump friendship over romance. There’s a counter movement that protests that any friendship between girls is more important than any boy. And it usually is between girls, because if the guys say that, they are labeled gay. Ouch.

This is not fair to the guys mostly, but not to the girls either. For one thing, you cannot tell a girl that a guy may never be more important than her girl friendships. That is just not true. When she is married, her husband is going to be more important. And if it is a case of doing the right thing, or if the guy is just the better friend of the two, it is not fair to give the girl friend such preference.

That is another post right there, but what I am saying is, well intentioned as it may be, glorifying friendship is not the answer. I have heard many sides of the question, and my solution is more complicated than just having friends and not being afraid to hug and stuff.

We are getting separated from each other more and more as every mode of affection is getting frowned on with suspicion, or cheered on as progressive. I have realized that everyone is meant to love every person they come in contact with, not through words and  physical touch of course, but in the way they treat them. It has never been a reality to have everyone earth love each other since Adam and Eve fell, but that should be the mindset of everyone who wants to do right by their fellow human beings.

And it turns out, love is different in different situations, but it is the motive and not the actions that decided what kind of love it is.

Squeezing every expression of love more and more into the sexual category is not just stupid, it’s flat-out wrong. It is disrespectful and flippant, and I am heartily sick of it.

I really hope the tide starts to turn in this, we need it to.

Until next post–Natasha.

Legacy

Ever wonder what your impact will be on the world? When you’re gone what will be different because of you? There’s a name for what you leave behind you; it’s called Legacy.

Good old Girl Meets World has an episode devoted to this that I recommend checking out if you can. I don’t want to spend too much time explaining it but I might use the show itself as an example here.

Girl Meets World made its share of mistakes, but it was always clear that their intention was good. You could tell they really wanted to make you think, and they wanted to help you.

It’s a connection that the creator of a movie, show, or book makes with their audience. It’s a way that we know they care, and if we watch or read it, they in turn know we care. Some of us are moved to tears just by realizing that someone out there wants to do right by us, others of us less emotional people just give it respect.

We actually feel betrayed when a show like this gets cancelled, and a book series suddenly takes a different turn and stops being about promoting the good things we liked it for.

Then, bitter or disappointed or just sad, we talk about what that thing meant to us. Other people think we’re nutty for caring so much. We try to explain.

This is why: Someone cared. Someone tried. Someone actually succeeded.

It didn’t have to be perfect, it just had to be good.

I felt understood, or I felt respected. Like the writers actually cared what they were introducing to my mind.

There are those of us who like dirty movies, or horror, but let’s be honest, even if we do, do we truly like the people who put that stuff out there. We let them screw us, figuratively speaking, but do we give them an ounce of respect for it? We may not regard out own minds, but do we really appreciate that they don’t regard us either?

In my limited experience, the people who like horror and sexually charged material are also the ones with low self respect. You expose yourself to garbage when you feel like garbage, it’s just true. (Not that you have to, but that’s why.)

The people who loved Girl Meets World loved it because it respected them. They respected themselves enough to accept it. The kids who got helped by it’s messages about bullying, being yourself, choosing rightly, they all got helped because they had it in them to be helped.

Half the time, the show just reminded us of what we already knew.

But that was okay, goodness knows we need that.

Girl Meets World wanted to make people’s lives better, makes their relationships better, and thereby make the world better. Hence the title Girl (you, boy can be substituted as we all know) Meets (relationships) World (it says itself.)

At the end of both Girl Meets World and its predecessor Boy Meets World, Riley and Cory both realize the meaning of meeting the world. and while I still hope for something more, because of my faith, I won’t deny it’s a good message. Meet the world. Know you aren’t alone in it. Then change it.

That’s a legacy worth leaving. That’s what legacy is. Who you are, who you meet, what you impact. That’s what you leave behind you. Material legacy just represents the unseen legacy.

Those are my thoughts, and this is also my thank you to this show and to every book and movie I’ve ever liked and learned from. Until next time–Natasha.

I feel all right like I could take on the world. Light up the stars I got some pages to turn. I’m singing o-o-oh, o-o-oh. I’ve got a  ticket to the top of the sky. I’m coming up I’m on the ride of my life. O-o-oh, o-o-oh. Take on the world. Take on the world. Take on the world.

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Reach higher.

Don’t go to sleep.

I found out some stuff this week about Disney. I’m aware not everyone who reads this may watch Disney stuff often, but I’m one of the millions of kids who grew up watching almost only Disney, (and VeggieTales.) Now Disney has changed a lot over the years. But one thing I could always count on was that the movies would at least make a pretense of having a good message. More often than not, they delivered. Even the ones I used to dislike I now like, except for Beauty and the Beast, I never have and probably never will like that movie. And guess what? They are remaking it.

That’s not all, there’s some controversy over what one of the directors said about the movie. I refuse to detail it because it’s better if you don’t know, and if you do, you already can guess what I’m referring to.

Over the years I’ve come to expect certain jokes and insinuations to be in adult movies, sometimes I can laugh at them, most of the time I roll my eyes, but you go into it knowing that’s a possibility. There are always times when the movie ends up being completely different form what you saw in the commercial, but most of the time you know what you’re getting. Fine. I didn’t watch PG-13 movies that often till I was 17 at least. I still don’t watch R-rated stuff that often and then only if it’s R-rated for a legitimate reason.

I have this thing about ratings. I think it’s ridiculous to say adults should be exposed to inappropriate content more than children, without it hurting them at all. That’s what most people think of ratings, and most kids see PG-13 material before they are 13 because, heck, they can handle it.

Ratings are actually supposed to be a tool that you could use to decide what to expose yourself to, it’s not your age that matters, it was your tolerance level. That’s how many people use them anyway.

Personally, violence and sensual scenes ae two things I can’t handle well, I will have the images stuck in my mind for days, maybe months. I put up with them if the movie is worth it, and avert my eyes when necessary.

So, why am I telling you all this? So you can think I’m sheltered? Actually, my parents don’t make this choice for me, I do it myself. My siblings and I have standards that we help each other enforce, and we’ve gotten mad at our dad for not warning us of content he knows we don’t like. I used to think it would be cool to watch age rated stuff, and then I realized that my standards weren’t magically going to change because I grew older, they only increased. This is thanks to my mom’s carefulness in what she allowed us to see, though she wasn’t always there, and what you see at other people’s houses is not something your parents can always control. And mine are not the slightly scary type who drill anyone we visit with about what we can watch.

So, there are things I have seen that I regret to this day, and that is why I keep my standards high. I know things like stupid jokes, stupid characters, and stupid plot lines, are inevitable; but you have to keep looking.

To bring this back to Disney, I have to thank Disney for a lot of things. Frozen, for example.  (I might do a post someday about why that’s my favorite movie despite it being a kids’ movie. Would anyone read that?) Disney has never succumbed to the corruption of standards and morals that, it must be admitted, a lot of production studios for other kids’ movies have. (Have you seen some of the things they are advertising–straight up?) But I have been concerned that they can’t hold up much longer, and now I’m really concerned.

Look, I get that not every screenwriter is a God–fearing person. I get that I cant’ expect Christian Values out of every movie made by Disney. I get it, I live in world that hates God being in their business. But, does that really justify shoving spoonfuls of propaganda down unsuspecting children’s throats?

Let’s try to be objective. For along time Disney had stayed neutral, they have never tried to appeal to the Right or the Left, to the Atheist or the Theist, they have held the middle ground. And in so doing, they managed to please most of us, which is not usually what happens. Now, throwing a controversial thing into their movie, even if the kids miss it, is that really the best idea?

From even a business perspective, it makes no sense to me. I’ll grant you, the demographic the controversy appeals to (and there always is one) will likely support this movie. but that will be outweighed by the amount of people who will avoid it because of the content. The scarier prospect is if it’s not.

And if they get away with this where does it stop? You may laugh at me for being paranoid, as I’m sure many people I know would, but am I really? isn’t this how every decline starts? One person gets away with one thing, then another person gets away with another thing, and then everyone thinks it’s okay.

I am asking us all to consider, what is the real gain in letting such things happen without a fight? What do we lose in the long run. Think about it, we sacrifice our morals, we expose our children’s minds to ideas they aren’t mature enough to resist, we spend our money; all on colored lights, loud speakers, and an hour or two of entertainment. Entertainment!

Long sigh. I may not be able to stop the writers from being allowed to do this, but I hope I can encourage a few people not to put up with it. I want people to look around and realize it’s a new day, we don’t have to accept this crud anymore. We can change it. I want to put some good material in this world, the kind that parents will feel good about and kids will love. The more of us who aspire to that, the less power these people have. Just don’t ignore it. Don’t go to sleep.

Until next post–Natasha.

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