Any thoughts? Any crying Andrew Garfield fangirls out there?
Any thoughts? Any crying Andrew Garfield fangirls out there?
“We live in the stories we tell ourselves.”- Grant Morrison
For a long time, I would tell people that I had an archenemy. It was as though I was a superhero, slinking through life one step ahead of her and letting all who would run across her know of her evil. It was a bit dramatic is what I’m saying.
Regardless, we did have a rivalry that persisted from when we were both about 9 years old to when we graduated high school. I’m not sure how much was my fault but it seemed as though she tried to do everything better than me.
In the fifth grade, she made a point to tell me that she was an inch taller than me. I remember her leaning toward me and whispering it at me as we sat in the nurses’ office after getting measured. She seemed terrifically happy about it.
In sixth grade, she waved a test at me after getting it back with a grade on it. She got a higher score than me by three points. I’d just gotten out of the hospital a week previously after having heart surgery.
In the eighth grade, she ran a mile faster than me.
In high school, she got a boyfriend first. She lost weight while I kept mine. I joined the FFA. She informed me that that club was “below her.” She did her makeup each morning and mocked my purple tipped hair and makeshift punk clothes.
It didn’t help that we looked somewhat alike. That we often got mistaken for one another. It seemed like our relationship—and the vehemence of it—defined my school years and defined the way I thought of myself for a long time.
Throughout college, I’d tell friends about her and always, always described her as my “archenemy.” Without fail, I’d paint her as the villain in our relationship. She was the grand villain, the evil witch stalking through my story and leaving chaos and bad thoughts in her wake.
We had mutual friends so we were together often. We found ourselves in each other’s presence and never really came close to liking each other. I still have a yearbook from high school where she wrote that she knew we had a bad relationship and hoped we could improve it the next school year. It never happened.
I’m a pop culture blogger, as I’m sure you guys realize. I’m not going to sit here and lecture everyone on proper ways to handle the people in your life. I’m just a 22-year-old (nearly 23 year old) college grad with a blog and a part-time job. I haven’t experienced enough of the world to dole out wisdom like some wannabe Buddha.
But I will tell you how my study of literature as an English major and my appreciation of pop culture as a general nerd has taught me about my archenemy and about myself.
I’ll admit that a good chunk of the lessons I’ve taken from life have come from books, movies and T.V. shows. It’s not that I haven’t had good role models. I have had amazing people in my life and I’ve learned a lot about how to be a kind, good human.
I’ve also learned a lot from the fictional characters I’ve spent the most time with as well. As I’ve pointed out before, the Mr. Feenys of the fictional world have had a lot to do with how my life has been lived so far. Usually that’s not a bad thing.
I’ve found that pop culture and stories in general can help us find out who we are by showing us what kind of characters we identify with most. We can dream beyond our own lives. We can find out what kind of person we really are. It can teach us to fight and win. It can teach us to stand for something, to define who we are and stand by that definition.
However, stories can delude us too. So many stories focus on fighting an enemy that often we come to believe that the same goes for life as well. We seek out our own enemies because we’ve grown accustomed to the idea that we need one.
In the past, that might have been the case. Living in the middle ages, I might have had to be prepared to fight someone off. I might have had to be prepared to go to war.
It’s a very human reality that we see things in black and white. It’s always us and them. Those people and my people. That country and my country. And we always see ourselves as the hero, no matter if that is the reality or not. That’s the way the world works and that’s the way our stories usually work.
Sauron can’t turn out to be a good guy. Voldemort isn’t secretly trying to take over the wizarding world in order to ensure the end of world hunger. Harry Potter is our hero. Frodo is the hobbit we’re rooting for.
Much of my life and most people’s lives get lived the same way. We picture ourselves as the hero of our own movie. We focus on what people have done to us and how those misdeeds make us superior.
She took money and never paid it back. She insulted me.
He lied to me. He pretended to love me and then never followed through.
We hold grudges and I’m guilty of that.
I was lucky enough to start studying English Literature at U.C. Berkeley in 2009. I recently graduated and, while I’m often accused of having majored in something useless, that’s a stupid accusation. I learned more about myself from studying the work of others than I would have studying a “viable” subject and I certainly learned a lot about what it means to live your life on your own terms.
I remember sitting in a slightly cold lecture hall my very last semester listening to my creative writing professor, an author, talk about writing. He told us that a story was only as well written as a villain. He also told us that the best stories were ones in which we could see how, if the story was told differently, the villain could be seen as a hero. Any villain can be written as a hero. Any hero could equally be written as a villain. Stories that follow that ideal are the best stories, in my opinion. That’s something that has made me think about my archenemy, about my relationships with people in my life.
Simple stories tell us that we should see the world in black and white. Simple stories tell us that villains will always be villains and that our goal is to fight them. Simple stories give us archenemies. They aren’t bad stories, just simple ones. Often, stories can be both simple and complicated at the same time. It’s just a matter of how deeply we look at them.
Stories can tell us something more if we look at them a little closer though. Something deeper. Even as Sauron is a villain that can’t and doesn’t change, we see Gollum waffle between his own dark desires and the little, loving creature still living within him. Narcissa Malfoy saves Harry Potter’s life because he saved her son. Even Darth Vader redeemed himself in the end.
I’ve guided my life at least in part based on stories I’ve been surrounded by. I think, at least subconsciously, I’ve also seen my own life as a story I was creating. It comes complete with allies and enemies, plot twists and denouements. Pop culture and the stories that are a part of it are important to me, but they can also prove to be a distraction. The world isn’t black and white. It isn’t a simple story. While it’s true that people can be evil, can be maniacal and cruel, we shouldn’t pride ourselves on having archenemies. My archenemy wasn’t an archenemy. She was a girl I didn’t get along with for whatever reason. She had her issues and I had mine. We didn’t live in a book. I will never win that fight because there isn’t actually anything to prove. I don’t need to prove myself the victor in that rivalry.
Like I said, I won’t preach at you readers. You’re probably wiser than I am. However, maybe take this into consideration: when you absorb stories, take a close look at them. See that the villain of the piece, if it is a good story, has his reasons for being how he is as much as the hero does.
Follow The Doctor’s advice, courtesy of Doctor Who’s recent 50th anniversary special. This is The Doctor’s motto:
“Never cruel or cowardly. Never give up, never give in.”
You are not a character. You’re a person. Nobody is guiding your story and waiting to write your grand moment of heroics. Each and every human being around you is a collection of good and bad, of stardust and coal, of fire and ice. We’re complicated. Get over you archenemies. Live your own story. Write your own story. Be your own hero and believe that each and every person surrounding you can be a hero too. Try and try again to see their point of views. See their stories. Appreciate that the only difference between a hero and a villain is the origin story. That’s what this 22-year-old believes. That’s what I choose as my motto.
Hello all and happy almost Thanksgiving to my American readers! As the time to give thanks for what we have approaches, I thought we could take a moment to talk about mental health. Mental health is the ghost of health problems. Everybody tries to ignore it, no one really talks about it and it never really goes away. However, your mental health is important whether you have a diagnosed condition or not. Everyone gets stressed. A large portion of the population does suffer from depression or related issues. It’s something that needs to be acknowledged more and without shame. Here are a few links to help keep you mentally centered and hopefully happier.
The Five-ish Doctors Reboot
It’s Doctor Who week, folks and I’m just as excited as the rest of the world’s Whovians. Tomorrow, it’s finally time to watch 10 and 11 work together to save the world, to fangirl over Rose Tyler once more and to celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary with the whizzing of sonic screwdrivers and the donning of fezzes. It’s the Day of the Doctor and I’m ecstatic. For those of you who aren’t Whovians, this year is the show’s 50th anniversary and the BBC has gone hog-wild with specials, episode reruns and a near movie-length new episode to be aired tomorrow. If you aren’t familiar with the show it’s about an alien being from a long destroyed planet called Gallifrey. He is called The Doctor and the show is about his travels with human companions. He and the companions meet various other alien races (including the Daleks and the Cybermen) and go to a variety of different worlds engaging in intrigue, adventure and general awesomeoness. He travels through time in a machine shaped like a police phone box. This is the TARDIS.
While I’m definitely a newcomer to the world of Doctor Who, this show has sucked me into its gaping, scarf-entangled maw so quickly I’m honestly a little shocked. I’ve only been watching the show for about a year and I’m already challenging people’s opinions based on violation of the Shadow Proclamation. What a world. So, as the 50th anniversary approaches tomorrow and sci-fi nerds and Whovians around the world get ready to watch, I decided it might be a good idea to give my followers a bit of a primer. Again, I’m a newbie so I haven’t ever ventured into Classic Who but here is a list of what I think are the best episodes for new Whovians to watch. Doctor Who is a lot like the world of comics: completely intimidating to an outsider. While fangirls and fanboys unite to squee over the 50th anniversary episode, if you are interested in Who take a look at the below episodes. They’re a great way to get into the world of The Doctor, they’re all available on Netflix and they’re awesome. While they aren’t all my favorite episodes, they are the best way to get into Who without constantly screaming “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON” at your TV. Get into Doctor Who, my fellow nerds. You won’t ever regret it.
Watch away, my friends. Have a happy 50th!
You've heard of the space race and the nuclear arms race, but now the U.S. and Canada are up to a much friendlier jaunt: a race to make the first-ever invisibility cloak.
Although the invisibility mechanism isn't exactly ripped from the pages of Harry Potter — it would cloak military planes from radio waves rather than a person standing right in front of you — it's one step closer for us Muggles to join J.K.
Here it is, ladies and gents. The latest edition of my ongoing series, five links to make you a better person. While I’m a huge fan of the written word in all its forms, I also believe that images have a massive ability to inspire, teach and enlighten. A perfect image can change everything. A perfect image can inspire a book, a song, or the changing of a life. So, without further words, here are a few image related links to feast your eyes on.