The Hate Virus

I have, on occasion, said that I hate people. I do. My biggest issue is when people are in groups they take on a group persona as opposed to an individual attitude of a reasonable person. Everyone wants to feel liked, to feel like someone cares about them. Everyone wants to be right.

Every month marks 30 more days since Pulse. And every month I realize how much we’ve forgotten. People who cried or posted heartfelt Facebook statuses asking “why” are now the people arguing with others through social media or making fun of someone different from them with their friends.

I am not innocent, but at least I can admit to myself that I am perpetuating hate.

However, as humans, we won’t be able to move past that hatred. There are some of us who are honest and express our concerns about other people, but then there are the silent ones, who sit in the corner brooding and waiting for the moment they can just leave the conversation and never speak to these people again.

I want to believe there is good in people, I want to believe there’s a chance that someone will remember Pulse (like I do when I’m being hateful), and change their attitude.But I know in all honesty that’s not going to happen. Hateful people will always be hateful. They will always leave nasty notes on people’s cars just because of a pride sticker or presidential candidate, they will always call someone stupid because they don’t agree with them, they will always ignore them when they ask for help, they will always treat others in ways they would never want to be treated. And my heart breaks for their lack of remorse.

It was a little over 3 months ago that we as a city, a state, a country, and as humans stood together in support of love and against hate. But that sentiment has disappeared in favor of continuing with our lives and moving on while the families of those victims and the survivors will never be able to forget. We are lucky to be able to hate and continue on like nothing happened. At least until it happens to you.

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Feminism vs. Batman: The Killing Joke

This past Monday, I had the pleasure of seeing an animated feature length film of one of my favorite Batman graphic novels. Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke was a turning point in my love for Batman. I started becoming a fan girl of the comic book hero back in the 80s when the Tim Burton film was released but after reading The Killing Joke, I found a different love for the character. The Killing Joke showed Batman in a light that I think many people don’t want to see their favorite hero in.

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“All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy.”

He became more human, more damaged, more desperate in the story line and all of that is due to Alan Moore’s truly realistic and dark view of the comic book world. We’ve seen this type of sordid view of superheros from Moore in Watchmen or Captain Britain but here we see Batman essentially face himself through the Joker’s depraved acts and increasing insanity. Yes, his back has been broken before, yes his cohorts have died before; but here he is truly having to decide if he is as warped an individual as his all-time greatest nemesis.

I hope what I have just written will allow everyone to understand that I did not hate the animated film despite what is to follow.

The movie was somewhere around 30 minutes in when I sighed and decided that I was going to accept those first 30 minutes as not part of the film itself. My issues with it start with the addition of Paris Franz, an aspiring crime boss added to give Batgirl something to do. The character of Franz is so flat and brought nothing new to the story except flirt with Batgirl and treat her like a terribly toxic boyfriend who, instead of cheating, tries to kill her on several occasions. This character was also a placeholder for Batman to get jealous. Of course, the sexual tension increases, Batgirl and Batman engage in intercourse on a rooftop and, immediately after, Batgirl goes through the typical female crisis: “Why hasn’t he called? Where is this relationship going? What are we? Does he like me? What did I do wrong?” There is even a scene where she screams at him to say “It was just sex, I don’t care, you don’t care, no one cares,” or something to that nature.

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“Does this outfit make me look fat?”

I never really think of myself as a feminist but I was seconds from screaming at the screen in the half full theater. They turned a strong female superhero character like Batgirl, only a few scenes away from becoming a paraplegic, into a sappy, sobbing mess of a girl because she slept with her boss. I get it, she’s young and immature, but not every woman needs to cling to a strong male. I feel as if the screenwriters decided that women cannot be as strong as men, especially if that man is Batman. They decided that no woman can resist him, and even if they are partners, they must have intercourse.

I agree that the entire concocted opening to the film was there to give the audience an idea of how the events that unfold affect Batman in his core. He’s hard to read and allowing us to see him as a vulnerable human being gave us some insight into his personal feelings toward Batgirl. But what if this was Jason Todd? Would he have had to sleep with his Robin before he was murdered to give us some idea of how it affected him?

It is an unfortunate situation for Batgirl that she had to have that vagina. If she were only male, she would have just gotten over the whole Paris Franz thing, the whole “Batman doesn’t respect me as his equal” pouting, and she would probably still be Batgirl (not Oracle) with a fully functioning spinal column. I would’ve expected this treatment from an animated feature before but not in 2016 when a woman was just nominated a U.S. Presidential nominee for the first time in history.

Perpetual Sadness with Spontaneous Outbreaks of Joy

I am legitimately tired.

I see everything that’s happened in the world and I am tired. I am tired of people, I am tired of humans, I am tired of us. All we are doing is killing each other. And no reason is a good reason to murder.

Obama was right, it’s not a black issue. But it’s also not an American issue. It’s a human issue. Dogs don’t walk around trying to kill other dogs because they don’t like the way their hair is cut, or what language they bark in, or which God they believe in. We don’t belong on this planet; we are roughage: taking up valuable living space for other beings that don’t kill for sport.

Besides just the senseless murders that have happened in the past 30 days, there’s more. There’s just simply being terrible, selfish people. Ignoring when someone needs help or turning away from something that shouldn’t be happening. We are to blame. As much as we’d like to say “it’s been like this for years and we cannot stop it”, we can. WE, not I. As a person, we can hashtag and cry and protest and fundraise and donate and volunteer, but as people, we should change. We won’t, but we should.

I’ll ask this again, who are we? Are we those people that hashtag a name and dedicate our Facebook to one cause while millions of people die miles away that we won’t even know about? Are we going to defend “Black lives matter” and yet ignore when police officers (who probably agree that black lives DO matter) are murdered in the streets?

We are matter. We will always be matter. And as living, breathing people, we matter now, but eventually we won’t anymore. Trayvon will be forgotten and commemorated through Wikipedia pages for our grandchildren. The 49 Pulse victims will be forgotten just like the 2,977 September 11 victims. We will forget as we age. We will forget to tell our children. They will learn in school about them and wonder, “How does this affect me?” We’ll plan parties, have birthdays, enjoy life, and forget, because that’s what we do.

Evolve. Make change. Not just by yourself but with others. Take the time to love someone who probably needs to be loved right now. Take time to enjoy the people around you because one day they could be gone.

Maybe, by some small chance, we can stop ourselves from ruining this world we’ve been gifted and never deserved.

Who are we?

In a time of tragedy, people show who they really are. I break them into three categories: those who are burdened, those who help, and those who are selfish.

After the devastating loss of life in my city, my home, Orlando, I couldn’t stay home. My mind was going so fast, I was confused, and all I could do was try to help in all the ways I could. When I finally stopped, it hit me. People have died, and they will never be able to come home. It’s then that I went home and cried myself to sleep.

I woke up and scrolled through social media, reading about mothers who lost their children, friends who were missing, and people hurting for the community. I got to a post where someone was upset a post of theirs was deleted from a Facebook Group regarding the event. As the night went on, more of these types of posts popped up. People claiming there are worst things to happen, expressing their opinion on gun control, promoting presidential candidates. Even a post going around claiming we should never leave our homes again because there could be another gunman.

Regardless if what you post is true, are you so selfish as to only care whether or not people will listen to you? These victims will never be able to express their opinions again, never vote again, never experience worse because this was their worst.

I won’t say I’m never selfish. I thought about staying home from work just to lie in bed and cry for every one who decided to go out on a Saturday night to have fun and never came home. But how much would they have loved to be in my position, to be able to wake up again, get dressed, and enjoy life.

So I pick myself, not just for myself but for them. I’ll go out to donate supplies, give blood, give money, I’d give it all because they can’t. And that’s what matters. Sitting behind a phone screen or computer worrying about whether someone read your stupid post about Trump or Isis, it doesn’t matter to those people who are suffering right now.

Why can’t we strive to be self-sacrificing? What are we doing to each other? Who are we?

 

My Body, My Home

International Women’s Day came and went, and with it, Kim Kardashian’s nude selfie and a collection of celebrities who either loved it or hated it. I have my own personal feelings (mostly dislike) toward pseudo-celebrities and their need to remain relevant, but in this case, I had to side with Kim K. She wrote an open letter, told everyone to mind their business, and defended herself by pointing out how empowering it is to love your body.

In my time with roller derby, I’ve noticed there are all types of bodies. The thing is, you don’t really see it after a while. Regardless of your size or shape, its the skills that make you a great player. A gal might look like she would be a good jammer, but naturally, she’s just better at blocking. You really can’t judge because there is no “derby body”, anyone can play (but you do get some awesomely thunderous thighs, tho.)

It took me a year to stop hating myself and my body. It was a process of eating heathlier, losing weight and accepting myself as I am, not as I thought other people would want. I never actually reached my goal weight of 110 lbs because I woke up one day, looked in the mirror and said “you don’t look so bad”, which is a compliment in my book. That’s all I needed to stop worrying about what I looked like in shorts, or thinking that everyone was talking about my celluite.

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My body is all mine, all of it, my possession. So when someone like Kim K. posts a nude selfie and defends it by saying “its my body, and I do what I want with it”, I can’t be mad at her. There are so many female celebrities with nude photos out there in internet world that they did not intend for all to see. What other way of empowering yourself than by posting one yourself because it is your body. I agree that it is a bad example for young fans, but the internet is bad for young fans. I think the person to blame there are the parents, but that’s a whole different post.

The thing is, we, as women, are constantly judged by the way we act, dress, live, etc. From adolescence, we are self conscious of ourselves and, for many of us, we never really get over it. Women need to stand up for each other and say, “Hey, if you think you look good and you want to post that nude photo of yourself, go for it. I wouldn’t, but that’s not my body, its yours.” Do what you feel, when you feel…as long as you don’t hurt any body else. ;P

Focusing on the hate of hate crimes

This year, social media and the news has exploded with racially motivated crimes, riots, and general hate around the United States. Much of the focus of these crimes have been about the races, sexual orientation, or beliefs of the people involved in the crimes, especially after the rash of police shootings that occurred earlier this year. Hate crimes seem to have risen in these recent years, even provoking folks to demand the Confederate Flag be taken down, despite its historical significance.

It feels like either people have a selective memory or they just want to imagine that hate and racism were never this bad in the 80s and 90s. Unfortunately, there are those minorities that have experienced real hate within their daily life and they can never forget, but they do become numb to the hate they see on television.

As a mixed race child, I dealt with prejudice throughout grade school. I grew up in a Mexican household and related mostly to those with my same background, despite my caramel color skin (which was darker than most Mexicans I met at the time). I tried my best to fit in with the Hispanics in my class, but most judged me before getting to know me. I was subjected to racial slurs, pet names like ‘negrita’, and being outcasted altogether. It was painful and, for years, I was ashamed of my skin color.

Despite the mention of my race, it really wasn’t the slurs that bothered me. It was the unprovoked hate they had for me before they knew me. Similar to the way the victims in Charleston were judged by another human as being unworthy to live the rest of their lives. But, regardless of race, hate is the true problem here in America.

It would be a great change to see the news broadcasted without mentioning races and leaving photos off of the screen. Ambiguity would show us the incredible amount of crime between human beings. As humans, we have so much in common but hate causes us to focus on the one item that makes us different. But as Americans, that one difference should be the thing that brings us together, not tear us apart.

Super Hero Hype

This past Sunday, David Ayer, director of the upcoming 2016 film Suicide Squad, tweeted a photo of the cast of misfits known as the Suicide Squad including Harley Quinn, Killer Croc and Deadshot. The film has slightly over a year before it’s released and a trailer hasn’t even been made yet however, with the release of this photo and the prior photos of Jared Leto transforming into the iconic character, The Joker, for the same film, it is clear that we are being hyped.

I used to enjoy the hype, the marketing, the press. In fact, I have always maintained that guerilla marketing is the most entertaining marketing and can be even more exciting than the actual film. It’s not always the film’s fault, the marketing team that creates the campaign is just far too talented for their own good. So when a film like Blair Witch or Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters gets the advertising but doesn’t deliver in the box office, the hype machine can force people to question if they like the film or the advertising.

It is great when it works (See The Dark Knight or Gone Girl), but for the great mass of film lovers, its hard to tell if it is going to be beneficial at all to one’s psyche to see the marketing. It’s similar to a friend recommending a film: they tell you it’s the best movie they’ve EVER seen, you have to watch it, if you don’t, you’re missing out. Then, you see the movie and it was good, but not the best movie EVER. So the next film your friend recommends, you take it with a grain of salt. Sure, if you are a casual film goer, it’s not a deal breaker to be disappointed but if you’re a “filmie”, it can ruin the fun.

I will be in the theater for both Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad (BvS is set to release a few months ahead of its counterpart Suicide Squad) but I will hopefully be there with little to no knowledge of the plot. Just so that I can have that moment when a film is brand new and nothing has tainted my love for it.

Gendered Toys & Forced Norms

There’s been a big argument recently against the common practice of gendering toys and books in order to appeal to a particular audience. For years, I never really paid very much attention to the argument. Honestly, if you don’t like something just stay away from it and do what you need to and be happy. However, I read an article on the Huffington Post about gendered books that really got me thinking of my own childhood.

I like girly things. I wear dresses, heels, I love makeup and I know how to sew. But I also like comic books, video games, baseball and boxing. Just those sentences show what I was taught as a child in terms of gender norms. It shouldn’t make someone feel different just because they like certain activities that aren’t considered “usual” for their gender. Things like comic books and video games appeal to certain people who have a certain cerebral perforrmance, not because they have certain sexual organs. And the same thing goes for dresses, heels and makeup.

In the article, written by Caroline Bologna, they point out some of the harmful gender stereotypes listed on the front of books called The Big Book of Girl Stuff and The Big Book of Boy Stuff. While the boy book implies boys need to know how to build rockets and what books to read, the girl book gives advice on how to start babysitting and how to give the perfect compliment. Another major issue is that the boy book says “how do I tell a girl I like her” and vice versa on the girl book.

Nobody is claiming that its not ok to include these things in the books, but the issue here is that a whole subsection of children are being alienated. I know there are those out there who believe that we are far too sensitive toward gays, transgendered individuals and gender queers, to which I affirm and understand. However, we should be sensitive to them because that’s what they deserve after years of having to remain in the closet. To hand a child a book that includes “how to tell someone I like them” will not at all make them say “Someone? That means I can like someone of my own gender! Suddenly, I’m gay!” Nope. Just like wearing heels doesn’t make a man want to be with another man or how playing sports doesn’t make a woman a lesbian. Unfortuately, that is not at all the way love works and kids are much smarter than we may think. By including the OPTION, we are opening the doors to children who will be proud of who they are and more accepting to people who like different things from them. The gendering of toys and books does not need to happen anymore because we should be able to be whatever definition of our genders that we want it to be.

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.