Every Movie I Watched for the First Time in 2018: An Analysis

776EF43C-CA9F-4BCE-844A-49ABD4EF0D9E

Movies impact us.

In 2016, I argued that if “movies can impact a moviegoer’s worldview (by stimulating creativity, encouraging empathy, and raising awareness), then moviegoers should thoughtfully consider which movies they choose to watch.” And I stand by that argument.

But now, in 2019, I offer two clarifications: Continue reading

She-Ra and Catra: An Evolved Hero-Villain Relationship

This article contains mild spoilers.

catradora

Noelle Stevenson understands characterization.

Last year, I discovered Nimona, an Eisner-nomated webcomic-turned-novel written by Stevenson about a whimsical, enigmatic shapeshifter who befriends an evil figure with an ultimately good heart. I found Nimona at a secondhand bookstore—the kind of store filled with spine-damaged books sporting dogeared pages—and I was surprised by the pristine condition of the copy I found. As I flipped through the beginning of the graphic novel, I saw a collection of glossy, well-preserved, wrinkle-free images.

Then I got to a page featuring a profoundly tense moment between Nimona, the shapeshifter, and Lord Ballister Blackheart, the semi-benevolent villain. The white border of the page was filled with scrapbook-style stars and bold exclamation points apparently drawn by the book’s previous owner.

Later, when I read that page—a page filled with genuine heartache and refreshingly nuanced character interactions—I added a couple exclamation points of my own.

Noelle Stevenson understands characterization, and that storytelling skill is evident in her latest creation, Netflix’s 2018 She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Continue reading

How Indie Video Games Depict Depression, Anxiety, and Grief

Links and videos of several indie games are posted below the article.

elude

Consider author Tom Bissell’s experience with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion as described in his book, Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter:

Oblivion is less a game than a world that best rewards full citizenship, and for a while I lived there and claimed it. At the time I was residing in Rome on a highly coveted literary fellowship, surrounded by interesting and brilliant people, and quite naturally mired in a lagoon of depression more dreadfully lush than any before or since. I would be lying if I said Oblivion did not, in some ways, aggravate my depression, but it also gave me something with which to fill my days other than piranhic self-hatred. It was an extra life; I am grateful to have it.

I read those words years ago while eating subpar noodles in a building that used to be a Blockbuster Video. The dim restaurant lights shielded me well enough from the gaggle of suburban families that surrounded me, so I hunched my back and unashamedly swallowed Bissell’s words. As a post-college, pre-career teacher wannabe, the 200-plus-page book about the artistry of video games perfectly quenched both my thirst for entertainment and my need to be perceived as an intellectual. But, more importantly, Bissell’s novel, including the excerpt above, connected with a part of me that I did not yet acknowledge: my depression and my (sometimes subconscious) attempts to deal with it. Continue reading

Cinema Sins, BobVids, and a Culture of Discontent

Garden State

If you have ever tried to explain your deep appreciation of a piece of art anywhere on the internet, you likely understand how much amateur criticism and intense posturing exists online.

At best, this negativity is an aggravating byproduct of crowdsourcing artistic validation. At worst, this persistent and indiscriminate criticism is a symptom of a relatively new and alarmingly widespread brand of groupthink. One that is unquestioningly unimpressed—always.

Either way, we seem to be entering a modern era of discontent, and this problem is worth dissecting.

With that in mind, meet a proud part of the problem: Cinema Sins. Continue reading

Top 30 Superhero Films (1989-2018), Ranked by Big B

A169943E-0BD3-444B-93E3-76CC3064E3FD

“What is your favorite superhero film?”

Seemed like a simple question. Easy enough to answer.

Then I began to compile a list of all of the superhero movies I’ve seen. And when that list grew larger than 90 movies (watched over many, many years), I panicked. “Damn. What is my favorite superhero film? Could I even narrow it down to a top ten?” Continue reading

The Gaming Community, the E3 Missing Person Fiasco, and Double-edged Social Media Groupthink

twitch 4

Warning: Article contains links to pages that contain profanity and offensive content.

At 7:45 PM on June 15th, Twitch streamer and Twitter user Ashley “ashleeeeean” Leann posted this tweet:

twitch

The Twitch mixer was a get-together on Wednesday, June 14th for Twitch streamers at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), a gathering of gamers and game developers in Los Angeles. Around 20 hours had passed since friends, family, and social media followers had heard from Twitch streamer and GEXCon host Tia “LauraLania” Zimmer, so ashleeeeean decided, as she described in a video on Twitter, to use “my platform and my following to be able to get the word out there.”

“I did not expect it to blow up as much as it did,” she added. Continue reading

Teacher Appreciation Week: A Quick Note for Teachers

roarLike a birthday spent at the dentist’s office, this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week exists amid a surge of legislative halitosis and biting commentary designed to undermine teachers, and I believe, fellow teachers, that it is our right—even our obligation—to reclaim Teacher Appreciation Week by brushing off this orange plaque with a bit of bristly, humility-trumping candor. Continue reading

Every Movie I Watched For the First Time in 2016: An Analysis

all-of-2016Earlier, I posted my ten favorite movies from 2016. But a “best of” list provides only a snapshot of a yearlong collection of movie-going experiences. If movies can impact a moviegoer’s worldview (by stimulating creativity, encouraging empathy, and raising awareness), then moviegoers should thoughtfully consider which movies they choose to watch. With this in mind, I have posted a list below of every movie I watched for the first time in 2016. Continue reading