Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Let's Discuss Paper People

Let's discuss paper people. If you've read John Green's novel Paper Towns you know what I mean by a "paper person." If you haven't you should be ashamed of yourself and should immediately drop what you're doing and purchase that book, then read it cover to cover. I'm going to assume not all of you did that and that a few of you continued to read my article, so I'll bring you up to speed on what's important for this discussion. In the novel, one of the main characters, Margo, describes her home town as a paper town full of paper people living in their paper houses. This doesn't literally mean that Orlando is populated by people made out of paper. What Margo is getting at is that everyone living there is something less than a full person. They're fake people that only exist and care about their own two dimensional lives. There's nothing substantial to them. They literally have no depth. This type of thinking is extremely dangerous. Here's why. As soon as a person is thought of as anything more or less than he or she or gender-neutral-pronoun is, then they become something that is either too great or too little to actually meet our expectations. The novel focuses primarily on "what a treacherous thing [it is] to believe that a person is more than a person," and it does a wonderful job so I won't discuss that here. If you want that argument, read the book. I would like to discuss the flipside, what happens when you imagine someone as less than a person?

I'm not going to talk about legally defining a person as less than a person. Slavery is clearly messed up and the three-fifths compromise was absolute bullshit. That's not really up for debate. But here's something that's been a little more moot of a point recently: public perception. Oftentimes, in media women (primarily) are portrayed as objects of sexuality. It happens to men too though (see any Abercrombie and Fitch ad or any movie starring Channing Tatum), so Ill allow that into the discussion as well. People are showcased not as people, but as decorative objects on which to hang clothes like living manikins way more terrifying than anything from Doctor Who. Furthermore, the focus of these people isn't even on the face, but on their bodies. A woman is nothing more than her breasts and a man is nothing more than his abs. Please don't quote me out of context on that one. The point is they become nothing more than symbols of sexuality. Now this symbolic sexuality becomes so visually pervasive in our tv in our magazines in our movies in our books that it becomes embedded in our brains. And just as with anything else, too much exposure begins to shift your understanding and soon all people become their sexual symbols. Women are just breasts and men are just abs. As people turn into symbols the only value they can hold is what they symbolize. As a result if you don't have perfectly symmetrical, perky breasts or you don't have washboard abs, then you are worthless. Would people still flock to Angelina Jolie's movies if  she didn't get implants to replace the breasts she lost in her double mastectomy (which was extremely brave by the way)? Would people like Brad Pitt as much if he weighed an additional 40 pounds of fat? I pick those people as examples because they are both insanely talented, yet are appreciated for being the "sexiest" members of their respective sexes, but I highly doubt they would be. And though this idea is certainly not a novel one, it is nonetheless distressing. But that has actually been discussed a number of times by a million different scholars and bloggers and facebookers. Every woman has experienced that. I would like to then extend the conversation just a little bit more.

A long time ago some Greek guys argued about what was the best way to write theater. One of them, some dude name Aristotle, argued in his Poetics that in good theater, characters should be symbols to represent something more than people (someone please correct me is I'm misremembering my Poetics). Aristotle was a moron. Symbols are by definition a two-sided coin. On one side is the symbol, a Raven for example, and on the other side is what it stands for, death perhaps. There is nothing more to it, and while symbols are a very valuable rhetoric tool, it is no way to view people, who are eternally complicated to the point where we don't even know who we are. If that's the case, how can simplifying someone down to two sides even come close to the multifaceted messy masterpiece that is a person? It can't. All it can do is make someone out to be less than they are. It is so unfair to make someone into something less than they are, because then they have no space in your mind to exist as anything more than you expect from them. A pair of breasts is a pair of breasts. They only serve so many purposes, not a whole lot of surprises there. But a woman, a woman is a thinking being that has opinions and the potential to do amazing, surprising things and is beautiful in so many ways so much deeper than her body. Unfortunately we've been brought to this point in society where people have become symbols of our own desires. That symbol meets my sexual desire. That symbol meshes with my idea of a housewife. That symbol meshes with my idea of wild freedom. And it's sad. it's sad because it's not fair to the people being turned into symbols, into cliches.

I realize this argument has been talked about a lot, but it's a problem now more than ever. And I'm not innocent. My gosh I'm not innocent. But certainly the first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging it. And that's what we as a society need to do because we are tumbling into a pit of symbolically obsessed paper people. Dustin Hoffman discussed this very phenomenon in an interview about his film Tootsie. He concluded it and I think nicely described the problem with these words: "There's too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed."

Don't let the men, women, and gender-neutral-nouns in your life be reduced to symbols. Don't let people become paper people. It's unfair to them to be minimized like that and it is unfair to you to lose the potentially amazing relationships you may find with potentially awesome people.


You can buy a copy of John Green's book here.
And I'll embed the video of the interview with Dustin Hoffman below

Thursday, June 13, 2013

More than you probably want to know about me

Let's talk about emotions for a bit shall we? So I often jokingly describe myself as emotionally dead inside, which never fails to get people to give me that look that says"I think you're kidding but if you're not I'm concerned for your well being." And for me it's always been one of those things when I mean it comically but it's like...totally true. It's not necessarily that I can't feel emotion, it's that I often choose not to. Which sucks. Cause what happens is I chose not to feel emotion so I just become this human pool of stagnant water, which if you've never seen stagnant water, is disgusting. I'm not sad, I'm not angry, but I'm not happy either. I'm just sort of...there - like that knick knack you got for Christmas one year you never really bothered to hide in the garage. And it's really frustrating to become aware of the problem and not do anything about it, because I'm stagnant, but once in awhile something comes along that snaps me out of that stagnancy, and is amazing. It's like, you know that song by Three Days Grace "pain?" Well if not, the chorus of the song goes "I'd rather feel pain than nothing at all." Anyway that sentiment, though sounding really depressing is totally true, cause I've gone through years at a time, what with the whole not feeling emotions thing, not ever having a true emotional reaction or connection to something. And so when those dry spells, when those deserts so sadly devoid of emotional substance finally begin to fade into something, anything other than just miles of sleepy sand, even the mostly ugly patch of grass can become the most beautiful thing you've ever seen. I think I've taken that metaphor as far as it will go, but my point is even something that's normally perceived as negative, like sadness feels awesome to someone who hasn't felt anything in a long time. There is nothing that is quite as cathartic or just good in general as sobbing uncontrollably.
So Scott, why are you waiting all this emo crap right now? Well I'm just now coming off of one of my emotionless binges, and I'm anticipating the moment when I'll get to feel something again. And I think this time that anticipation is particularly bitter sweet because it comes with graduating. There is an actual instigation. I'm graduating. Like, tomorrow. And I'm scared, but I'm not scared of being homeless. I'm scared I'm making the wrong decision. And I try to believe that there are more wrong decisions, that everything that happens is beneficial in some way. But I can't help but worry that once I've made my decision I'll lose everything I've found here, or I'll lose everything I've learned about myself. Either way I know that in the next seven days I better have one damn good cry, because it's gonna feel so much worse if it just festers in my little stagnant pool. Sorry to get so vague all of a sudden, but it's my blog. Chill out. Maybe I'll add more to this later.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Made A Movie!

I'm very sorry that I haven't posted in four months. Totally my bad. And now that I am posting it's totally a cop out to advertise my most recent project. Sorry. A little bit. Ok not really, but I do have a new post planned that I hope to share with you in the next few weeks. till then please enjoy the embedded video, which is my most recent film, "What Comes of Reading."

It is written and Directed by me. I also play the main character Luke.
Lisa Sonoda plays Monica
Nina Liddi plays Kristen
Ryan Cameron plays Luke's Roommate

Cinematography is by Cody Phillips and Allison Lau

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ahead of me is a chasm

Ahead of me is a chasm.
It stretches into infinity.
Beneath me is my Path;
It is where I have been and where I will be.
Before me is a Bridge.
It is my only means to the far side.

To continue my path, I must
Cross the Bridge and visit the far side -
But mist shrouds that unknown place,
And I can only see shadows on my Path ahead.
I can see my fellow Travelers on my Path,
But cannot know what they'll do or say.

In the great distance I can see
More Bridges and more Paths,
But they have yet to take form.
They twist and turn to avoid my gaze.
I don't know if they are part of my Path
Or mere musings of what's to come.

But they are a long way off.
Right now
         Ahead of me is my chasm
               Beneath me is my Path
                     Before me is a Bridge.
I can see only this Bridge.
I want to see the Bridges ahead.
There is only one way to peer through the mist:
I must cross this Bridge.

I cannot turn back.
I cannot go around.
I can only move ahead
Or stand, irresolute, and gaze
Into the undefined

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Chapter 2

I recently wrote and directed a video for my production course called Chapter 2. It's inspired by the poem "Get Drunk" by Charles Baudelaire (which you can read here). It stars my friends Ryan Cameron and Jeet Nagda. Check it out if you so choose. Also subscribe if you like. I'll probably put up some more stuff.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Thoughts on Why the New Year is Important

So I feel bad that I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been busy working through my own stuff so I haven’t felt passionate about anything one way or another for a while. A while. Anyway, that’s why my last five posts have been kind of cop outs. But I decided it was time to write something thoughtful again, especially since that appears to be what you guys prefer. So I give you my thoughts on why the New Year is important.

Before we talk about why the New Year is important, let’s talk about why it shouldn’t be. What is a year? “Year” is just the name we give to a single rotation of the Earth around the sun. Should there be any sort of important emphasis on a day that could just as easily be any other day of the year? I mean, if we chose to start the year on March 25 then January first wouldn’t hold any importance at all. It’d be just another day, like April 10, December 28, or July 20. So then, why put such emotional, personal, and cultural significance on a day that is only significant because we chose it to be? I think that this is a valid argument as to why January 1 is a day like any other, but I don’t think that removes its significance. Every day is significant. Those dates above are each significant. They are my mother’s birthday, the day I became a Christian, and the day we landed on the moon, respectively. Every one of those days holds extreme importance for many, many people: everyone my mom has ever interacted with, me, and every person on this planet. So I think it is pretty safe to dismiss the idea that a random day can even be insignificant, as you can pick any day and find something important that has happened on that day - whether it was life being extinguished, being lit, being engorged by something amazing like love, or simply continuing. Every day is important because there is something unique and amazing in every day.

So then, we know every day is important, but that still leaves the doubt that the beginning of a year is what makes January 1 significant. Perhaps it’s only important because it’s a day just like any other, that is to say, a day unlike any other. I would say otherwise. See, I think the significance of a New Year is important to that day. (In rebuttal to my earlier point that the New Year could be any day so thus insignificant, that’s idiotic. We didn’t put it on any other day. We put it on January 1. So shut up.) For though the World goes on rotating and revolving, it is begins anew every year. The constellations start their migrations across the sky over and the seasons begin their cycle again. But nothing is quite the same. The constellations change based on the expansion of the universe and whether or not some star somewhere has twinkled its last. The seasons change their specificities based on the changes to the atmosphere. The world is constantly changing, and though it starts its cycle over, it never repeats the exact same cycle. In the same way, we may be experiencing January first again (second now), but this is a new January 2. This is January 2, 2013. And we’ve never had that before. And we’ll never have it again. This moment is brand new and it only lasts as long as it is right there. So we have to embrace that newness. So the New Year is significant because it is us starting over as something new.

But that is not all that makes the New Year important. Indeed, it is not even the most important aspect of the New Year. What’s most important about the New Year is the gusto with which we approach it. See we know the year is new. We know this year has never been and never will be again. So we also know that we need to seize that moment while it is there and to make it the best year we have each experienced. Resolutions have become a bit of a joke in our culture – the idea that we’re all going to be in the gym for the next two weeks then we’re all going to be back at Kentucky Fried Chicken. But they are not all failures. And while we may like our deep fried, genetically altered, oil sponges KFC calls chicken, we still try to improve every year. No one approaches the New Year thinking “this year I need to be worse.” And if they do they are a waste of space. We all want to improve. We are all hoping, and some of us even striving, to improve ourselves and the world around us. That, my friends, is why the New Year is important. Not because of alcohol and stupid ass glasses made out of numbers, but because we all know deep in our bones that the way we are is crap, or at the very least mediocre, and that we need to be constantly bettering ourselves. The New Year is significant not only because it is new, but because it will hopefully be improved. And that is the only time that statement hasn’t been an oxymoron that I’m aware of.

What saddens me is that we lose sight of that in a week. Like clockwork, we all lose sight of the fact that we are like the Earth and every moment is a new one for us. And since every moment is new, and we have the capacity to improve ourselves and everything around us, it is our responsibility as stewards of the Earth to actually do that. We develop this odd philosophy somehow that the status quo is “ok.” We are the way we are. There is nothing we can do about that, so we just won’t. But that’s not the case, every one of us has some improvement to make on ourselves, and saying so isn’t offensive. It’s offensive that people think they have nothing to do to improve themselves. So I know it’s a long shot, but I remain hopeful that one year, maybe this year, we won’t forget. And we will constantly strive to better everything we can – for ourselves, for our family, for our friends, for (our) strangers, and for our home.

Happy New Year everyone. Make 2013 a good one.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Poetry I Wrote - Probably Badly

Hey. So I write prose. I don't know if you've noticed from EVERY SINGLE OTHER post on this blog. Even the one I called a poem is really prose written in very short sentences. These two are actually poems. The first is a sort of modified sonnet and the second one is a prose poem. If they're really bad feel free to let me know and I won't post poetry up here again. This is kinda an experiment. Have fun. Also the first poem should really be read with this playing in the background.

A Rain Sonnet -
Drips echo up in to my ear
Washing clean my cares and my fear
See it’s not the feel nor the sound
Wherein stormy pleasure is found.
Rather tis the thought may that I
Prove the sadness brought by the rain
Fiction, Fant’sy, and Brittle Lie –
Lies of sorrow, sadness, and pain
“sad is happy for deep people”
Just to feel is proof of my life
Life is not found in home’r steeple
But in good hope after strife
How can sadness stay here and not
Flee if’t exposes what I’ve got?

The Source of Utopia -
For me there is no single utopia. I am enthralled by the serene life of the countryside. The slow moving people. The sweet smelling wind. The sounds of life in its purest form.
Yet I find an equal peace in the city – in the hustle and bustle of the city. The speeding of the always-cycling train. The rising stench of a thousand hot dog stands. The dull roar of a city that won’t sleep.
For me, utopia is the progression of life reminding me I’m alive. Utopia isn’t a sight. Or a smell. Or a sound. It is the amazing variety of sights in every place. And the ever changing scent of the world. And the sounds of the different folk, flora, and fauna found throughout the earth.