The Oscars’ Special Guest Star: A Conversation About Suicide

Watching the Academy Awards this past Sunday, I noticed that the word “suicide” was a lot more prevalent than in any awards telecast before it. We had Dana Perry, winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject for her film “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1″, dedicate her award to her son, a suicide victim, and told us how we needed to talk about suicide out loud. Winner of the Best Adapted Screenplay award, Graham Moore, talked directly to those like him, who attempted suicide at age 16, and told them to “stay weird, stay different”. These people are the kinds of people affected by suicide. The saddest thing about the subject of suicide is the fact that it has always existed, it isn’t a new thing.

A little history about me, I attempted suicide at 22 and 23, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008. Since surviving my attempt, I’ve tried to make the people around aware that it is something that exists. Most people don’t believe that murderers will invade their home in the middle of the night, or that the brakes on their car will go out and cause a horrible pile-up. They also don’t believe that someone in their lives could feel so lost and alone that they would want to take their lives.

And this is why we do need to talk about suicide out loud. A key icon of the struggle of suicide, in modern times, is the late Robin Williams (it feels strange to say that, late) and as a child of the 90’s, I saw him in every comedy and thought the same thing that everyone thought, he’s happy. But I also didn’t see his personal struggles, probably similar to things that I experienced in my darkest times. Saddness, loneliness, and just a complete lack of a strong ego that most people have to prevent those dark, self-loathing thoughts from creeping up. People like to claim that suicide is for the weak and that it is selfish. And unfortunately, these are the stereotypes that survivors of suicide endure from those who choose not to understand or listen. It really takes a great amount of strength to hurt yourself and some times all that could pull you away from it is one person to say “I understand and I’m here for you”. However, the stigma of it and society’s constant pressure to keep it silent from our every day converstations make it easy for someone like Robin Williams to hide and put on a smiling face just because it makes everyone else feel better.

We all need to take responsibility for every suicide that happens in the world. That is not to say that we can prevent each one (my experiences as a bipolar sufferer have told me that if someone is determined to kill themselves, they will do anything to find a way) but our fear of just speaking about it makes it harder for people to find help. This is why I, as a survivor of suicide, appreciated every mention of the word suicide on Sunday night. Not only did we have someone who was very directly affected by the suicide of another, but we also had a suicide survivor. I truly hope that even after the post-Oscar glow disappears at the end of the week, people will still talk about Graham Moore’s call to the weird and Dana Perry’s heartbreaking dedication. I hope they talk about people they know who have attempted or committed suicide. I hope people will talk about their attempts or thoughts. I hope people will talk, and I hope soon we can all sit down and, at least once, talk about suicide seriously.

Humility & the Grammys: Song of the West

I recently watched the Grammys ( I don’t have cable so I always watch things after the fact) and I was a little confused by the whole Kanye West fake out that occurred when Beck won for Album of the Year. After, I reasoned, much as everyone else had, that he was making a joke out of his ridiculous moment six years before at the VMAs with Taylor Swift. I thought to myself, maybe he is changing, maybe he is becoming a much more calm and much more reasonable man now that he is a father and husband. I thought that until he came out and said it wasn’t a joke.

Shirley Manson’s response to his disgusting display is, by far, my favorite. My favorite line would be “you disrespect your own remarkable talents and more importantly you disrespect the talent, hard work and tenacity of all the artists when you go so rudely and savagely after such accomplished and humble artist [sic] like BECK”.

This response, not Buzzfeed articles comparing Beyonce to Beck, is the most appropriate in terms of what happened. I would never say that one artist is better than another. Each artist is different. Yes, Beyonce has other artists sharing the writing credits on her album, but how does that make her any less of an artist than Beck? I’m sure he was inspired by several artists as well. Sure, Beyonce doesn’t play instruments but that doesn’t mean she isn’t talented. To compare two artists who are so vastly different is not the way to stand up against such oppression as Kanye.

Beyonce seems like a classy, intelligent woman who doesn’t need the rude acts of a fellow artist to stand up for her. Artists lose, they get nominated and then, they lose. That’s how awards shows work. No one is saying that Beck is far more talented than Beyonce, but her album just didn’t win. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross didn’t win the Oscar for best soundtrack for Gone Girl, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t talented. Kayne’s outburst doesn’t help anyone notice Beyonce’s talent. Instead, it just makes a mockery of the awards ceremony and makes it seem like he’s a sore loser when he wasn’t even nominated! I feel sorry for him that he has to pout and stomp his feet to get the attention he needs. It has nothing to do with race, talent or recognition. It has to do with Kanye wanting to be noticed for something. He had a mediocre performance, wasn’t nominated and just had to be the center of attention so this is the only way he can get that attention. Maybe his wife told him he shouldn’t make an ass of himself so he stopped himself before going onstage and played it off as a joke but we all know tigers can’t change their stripes.

A Korean Import turned American: Oldboy

For many who actually saw the original film, Oldboy, back in 2003 when it was released, the idea of a remake was simply upsetting. The movie’s twisted background and psychological connection with the audience is just “unredoable”, in my opinion, and putting the name Spike Lee on anything just makes it seem like its a ploy to get more buzz around the film. However, after seeing the movie myself today, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

It wasn’t that the movie was done exactly like the previous film, in fact, it was done differently in a lot of aspects of the plot line (which I won’t give away here). The fact that the movie was adapted into a version that was much more Americanized than the Korean version was refreshing. I didn’t feel like I did with The Eye or One Missed Call. Those films just tried too hard to be like the original because of the Asian version’s strong followings. Instead, Oldboy decides that it can never be like the original and does its best to try to make due.

This brings me to the idea of remaking movies, which I absolutely despise. There are millions of writers in the world yet we are still making movies over again. There’s no imagination left in Hollywood anymore and when we take Asian movies and remake them, we make ourselves look like idiots once again. I say this as a writer and a movie fan. I don’t want to see all of my favorite Asian horror films remade, I don’t want to see all of my favorite manga or anime made into feature length films starring American actors pretending to be Asian. I want something new, but the problem is, if screenwriters do make something unique, it flops. But instead of allowing themselves to flop, they decide to take other, more successful movies, and remake them to ensure they make money for the big studio heads. But what will happen in the future when we run out of movies to remake? Then we have the silly reboots like Superman, Spiderman, Incredible Hulk, Batman….

I could go on, wage a war against Hollywood and their films, but I will always be willing to pay money to see a movie, even if I hate it. And that is why Hollywood will always win. There’s always someone somewhere who has never seen the original and probably won’t see it if there’s a new one on the horizon. And so we continue, but at least I can say to Spike Lee and other film makers that take a film and at least try to make it new, you’re kind of doing it right.

American Music Awards = Devoid of Talent?

Honestly, when the recent polls went out for the AMAs, what were the voters thinking? To place Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers in the alternative rock category was painful enough but giving the Icon award to a young artist like Rhianna was just unbearable. Its unfortunate that the categories only had three nominees because I just wanted to see if there was any type of reconciliation for the misguided choices like Mumford and Sons. Music isn’t what it used to be (previous winners in the alt rock category: Pearl Jam, Linkin Park, Smashing Pumpkins) and the AMAs show all of us over the age of 20 how different it is. As the years tick by, music with actual genres and categories become more blurred and genres, like the illusive industrial and heavy metal, disappear with their famous bands and devoted fans. Dubstep reduces the need for actual singers or musicians and auto tune allows former untalented artists to be successful album vocalists. The rare musical talent that acts like Fleetwood Mac, Nine Inch Nails, Queen, etc had in their time is unmatched by the Katy Perrys, Lady Gagas and Miley Cyrus‘s of today. There’s no actual talent being churned out in record labels anymore unless they come in the form of young female vocalists. Lorde and Ariana Grande make the future seem, at least, somewhat brighter because of their aversion of traditional teen bop music and trashy attire. If only we could see good bands develop and change the landscape of the music world and bring back the lost musical genre called alternative rock. Until then, we wait, watching mostly vocal lead bands like Imagine Dragons win alt rock awards because that’s all we have left to represent our taste in music.

Fall Programming Fails & Successes

I had intended on writing this post after I had watched ALL the new fall programs, however since many shows have still yet to be shown and I am impatient, I am reviewing the current releases.

I’ll start with Dads starring Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi. Individually, I don’t think that these actors could hold a show together for any length of time. Luckily, the producers paired these two and created an interesting and funny premise. I’m sure there are nay sayers that think this show is terrible, but in my opinion the issues between both son-dad pairs are real and intelligently executed. The Pot Brownie episode was a great way to have drug use in primetime television and its racist and sexist comments are most likely directed to bring attention to the fact that RACISM AND SEXISM ARE STILL PREVALENT! There’s been so much talk about how the show is offensive but the fact is, its realistic. I’ve never met anyone that is concerned with political correctness during everyday conversation and Dads makes sure that we know that.

Mom is another show that risks offensive-ness for the sake of reality. The cycle of teen pregnancy within the family is real, and so is the issue of alcoholism and boss/employee relationships. My opinion of this show was low at first upon seeing Anna Farris on TV but the humor is perfect for her talents and the first episode really forces the viewers to connect to her broken down life. As a sitcom, I think the premise is new and refreshing, and like Dads, the show finally brings real life to primetime television. If I didn’t feel as pathetic as Anna Farris’ character, Christy, I would feel sorry for her. Allison Janney also contributes to the fantastic talent in this show as Christy’s mom, Bonnie, a recovering alcoholic who “did the best she could” as a mother. I think turning a show with such a sad background into a sitcom really makes the characters so much more love-able and hopefully long lasting.

Now to the worst, which I don’t have much to say about.

The Goldbergs. Ugh, I get it, you’re trying to be like The Wonder Years. The problem is, you can’t be like The Wonder Years. I find the show to be lacking in some major things, like Comedy or general interesting dialogue. I have a feeling that the show will be canceled soon, and if it isn’t I’m not really sure who would want to watch a show about the ’80s through the eyes of a family with  no really dynamic. Adam Goldberg, who narrates the episodes, is no Kevin Arnold and because of that, his character is not interesting enough to keep audiences attention on what is happening to the family.

Another lacking show is The Michael J Fox Show. I want to like it, I really do. That’s why it’s still scheduled to record on my DVR and it’s because I love Michael J Fox as an actor. However, the lighthearted look at a Parkinson’s sufferer in the public eye is not as lighthearted as he probably intended it to be. I feel as if there is too much centered on being inspiring AND funny at the same time when the show should have been much more about the humor. I love that Michael J Fox is trying to come back and make his suffering less saddening, but the problem lies in the script and the dialogue. Perhaps we will have a turn around after the first few episodes, perhaps it will get canceled, who knows?

I know there are several other shows needing reviews (Agents of Shield, Season 3 of Once Upon a Time, The Blacklist, Hostages, etc) but this post is only so long so I’ll review them after we find out who gets the cut at the end of the season.

Why is society so gay?

Barilla, you know the pasta, is the most recent in the string of companies to begin a siege against homosexuals and homosexual couples as the new normal nuclear family.

Wednesday night, Barilla CEO, Guido Barilla, made some comments on an Italian radio station about the issue of homosexual families being depicted in Barilla advertisements/commercials. The comment was blown a little out of proportion, in my opinion. I understand his comments were directed to treat homosexuals as the perpetual “other” in terms of modern 2013 society, but as Michelangelo Signorile from the Huffington Post explained, Mr. Barilla was raised in a culture and society of spoiled men. Women waiting on hand and foot to their sons, husbands and fathers for their entire lives. The idea of homosexuality in a culture that prides their food as “mother’s comfort food” does not see men acting as women act.

That being said, and also playing devil’s advocate, is it really all that disgusting to see to men together now, in 2013? Hollywood will continue to churn out various sitcoms with strong gay characters, we see lesbian/homosexual couples all over the news and primetime, and some of the most popular fads and fashions emerged from gay culture. With the way the world has evolved over the years, I cannot imagine why so many people would be completely against the idea of people being themselves and loving who they love without considering whether it is acceptable or not.

Considering what milestones the world has gone through, we will be dealing with the stigma of homosexuality for a considerable amount of time. Slavery still exists in the world and we are well aware that racism is rampant in some major civilized countries. I see people like Harvey Milk connected to others like Martin Luther King Jr. and Alice Paul as a strong representative activist for HUMAN RIGHTS. HUMAN RIGHTS to do whatever the hell you want to do in any place you want in the world with other humans.

But just because people like to watch the cute gay couple on Modern Family, The Ellen Show, or Rupaul’s Drag Race does not necessarily mean these same people want to see that gay couple, an Ellen, or a man dressed as a woman in their neighborhood Wal-Mart or Chik-Fil-A. As humans with rights, we who support LGBT culture should also allow those, like Mr. Barilla to express his personal feelings. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

The 65th Emmy’s and you

I might be a bit late on the reporting side here but hey, at least I’m still in the same week as the 65th Annual Emmy Awards that aired this past Sunday on CBS.  Funny how a station that rarely has Emmy award winning shows is the one to air the prestigious ceremony.  Regardless, I watched it in its entirety in order to correctly comment on the various moments of the show.  I’m glad I sat through the slew of memorandums and acceptance speeches because this was genuinely the best I’ve seen in terms of winners.  However, that being said, it’s hard to really pick a terrible show now a days especially with HBO, Showtime, and even AMC exploding with season after season of remarkable storylines and characters. Move over USA, characters are welcomed everywhere now.

Though there has been some critique at the fact that many of the Emmy’s went to cable shows, the fact of the matter is original series and miniseries are really becoming in vogue now since the decline of the theater (film, that is). Movies lately have not had the same impact and resonance as shows like Game of Thrones, Girls or Veep have with society today, which really depicts the complete turnaround that television has taken.

I appreciate this fact because that means that the writers of today’s television world have stacked the odds and have solidified in terms of talent against the screenwriters of days old.  Prior to this “Golden Age”, as many at the Emmy’s put it,  Lorne Michaels, Larry David, Rod Serling were a rarity just simply because television was consider the low portion of the totem pole. You start in Theater, move to Film, then have a breakdown. Eventually, after rehab, you wind up in television writing for a rom-com on NBC. But NOW! Geez, you could start in TV and suddenly you’re writing a full length Brad Pitt film.

Yeah, what does this ridiculous, self-congratulatory ceremony actually have to do with me? Well, for me, as a writer, this means that although some people would prefer not to pick up a book, newspaper or anything that has printed words, this development in television means that there are new avenues, new ideas, new creativity being developed and cultivated in a whole other industry that we ignored for more than 50 years.  Popular culture will suddenly become more popular (less educated/prosperous people can join in) and much more intelligent (have you actually taken a moment to consider the script writing in Veep, goodness).

What this means is that we may need writers more than all of you who scoffed at my English degree may actually think.