A Public Confrontation on Practicing Homosexuality? I’ll pass.

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Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

I might sound angry and incoherent in this post because I am. The other day, I watched a hypothetical “What would you do?” ABC video about public displays of homosexuality. Here’s a summary of the scenario to illustrate my point. A gay couple was kissing, holding hands, etc. in a restaurant. A woman would be visibly disgusted at the sight and would have no problem criticizing what they were doing. Most of the customers (or as I like to call them in this case, guinea pigs) had varied reactions. Some of them joined the woman in criticizing the couple, while others didn’t say anything but agreed that homosexuality was wrong. There were only two guinea pigs in the whole experiments who had a problem with the woman, and who were genuinely upset when the couple was eventually kicked out for ‘religious conviction’ (in some places, that’s legal).

If this happened in real life, there are two things in this scenario that would probably land me in jail for angry physical violence. First, the hostility was public and for everyone to see. Now, it made sense for the sake of the scenario because it was a “What would you do” experiment. But people who openly criticize people for what they do in real life are infuriating. Now, people can have their own opinions on different subjects. I respect it, I encourage it, it’s all fine and good. And if asked to express them, people can do exactly that. But here’s the thing: A lot of people who do confrontations of any kind claim that they do so in love. Fair enough, God calls us to face others with love when they wrong us. However, if you have no problem confronting someone publicly for practicing homosexuality, let me ask you this: where’s the love in that? That’s not love; that’s public humiliation. If it bothered you, I don’t care. If what they did was wrong, I don’t care. Bottom line: unless you’re in court, YOU DO NOT CONDEMN ANYONE PUBLICLY ABOUT ANYTHING. There is nothing in the Bible that gives anyone the right to do that.

Second, the scenario discussed homosexuality and touched on the main problem I have with the whole argument. Even though it’s an important issue to talk about, it’s starting to sound like a broken record. I’ve talked about the biblical soundness of homosexuality in the past. My opinions on gay marriage have changed a little since then, but this much hasn’t: Every thinking human being should have the right to decide for themselves what they want to do regardless of sexual orientation. I still stand by this belief, and I’ll never change that. That’s why it’s tough to watch people condemning others for practicing homosexuality. On one side, I’ve met dozens of people who have no problem criticizing gay marriage, and chances are I’ll meet several dozen more. Like I said, they’re entitled to their beliefs, and I respect that, it’s fine. But on the other side, I can barely count on one hand people who would call someone out for, say, littering OR hypocrisy OR cruelty. Why? The only unforgivable sin is blasphemy, and all other sins are equally bad in God’s eyes. If homosexuality is a sin, it would be just as sinful as bullying or misusing God’s name or ignoring someone in trouble.

So why is it so easy for the human population to criticize another person’s sex life and yet say nothing about damaging the ecosystem? There’s an inordinate plethora of world problems to deal with, so why the big focus on homosexuality? Is it because it’s easier to meet a Christian who would tell a gay person “you’re going to hell” then it is to meet one who says “This isn’t what I would choose, but I respect you as a human being and what you do is none of my business”? Is it because we’re less likely to meet confrontation because a few Bible verses and over half the heterosexual population would agree and back us up?

Bottom line: If you won’t say a word about any issue except homosexuality, just keep your mouth shut. You’re not helping. If you won’t hesitate to condemn strangers for their sexuality, they will ignore you because you’re giving them nothing that shows you respect them as human beings.

I can’t be the only one who has a problem with the ‘judges’ in the video. I refuse to believe that I’m the only one.

Source used:

Photo source: http://emekatalks.com/9-powerful-quotes-you-must-remember-when-criticized/

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Should Stories Be Censored?

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Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

A lot of us know about Into the Woods. In the original, the first half is (mostly) a child-friendly musical all on its own, filled with fairy tales and happily-ever-after-endings. But then we get into the second act, and the musical does a complete 180. Characters are picked off one by one, a married prince seduces a married peasant, and the remaining characters have to deal with the idea that (gasp!) “Witches are right and giants are good.” It leads to the moral that the world is a dark place, so people have to grow stronger and help each other in order to survive.

And, of course, a lot of us also know about Disney’s upcoming take on this dark but poignant story. Not only have they taken out a controversy that tied in with the rest of the plot, but they’ve also omitted crucial death scenes. As we know it, this adaptation of Into the Woods will no longer teach about the reality of life, but of the lengths people will go to decontaminate other people’s works.

Which begs the question in the title: Should stories be censored?

And I’m just gonna say it upfront: it depends on the controversy you want to censor and why the original author put it there in the first place.

On one hand, there are cases where adding controversy goes horribly wrong. The Garbage Pail Kids movie, for example, is perhaps the worst movie to date. I can forgive a stupid film for being terribly written, directed, or acted. But this supposed “kid’s movie” featured disgusting little monsters threatening people with knives, racial slurs, and other abominations that I don’t even dare write about. Yeah. I have to censor Garbage Pail Kids on my own blog, it’s that bad. None of it served any purpose, it wasn’t suitable children’s material, and I don’t know of a single soul who lasted longer than forty minutes trying to watch it unscathed.

But on the other hand, there are cases when controversy is necessary. I still remember when JK Rowling’s adult book The Casual Vacancy came out. People flocked to bookstores as soon as it was released, but were then shocked at how dark it was compared to the Harry Potter stories Rowling had written before. It had drugs, major cursing, prostitution, child abuse, etc. Despite the complex characterization, smart narrative, and clever word choice, a lot of people I know who read the story were turned off by how dark it was. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised by The Casual Vacancy when I started reading it.

But then again, it’s not the first time Rowling’s mind went into freaky dark imagery. Harry Potter gave us a man who cut off his own hand to revive his master, a collection of brains that would strangle you if you touched one, and a man who would do anything for immortality, from ripping his soul into several pieces to drinking unicorn blood. And apparently, the exact process of ripping the soul to pieces is so graphic that Rowling said in an interview that “it was too horrible to go into detail about.”

Putting that aside, The Casual Vacancy doesn’t bother me much because it truly is someone else’s perspective of reality. It’s a tragedy surrounding corrupted politics, the way we treat the poor, and the hypocrisy of society. This is an example of an author using controversy to show that the world isn’t all daisies and fairy tales and rainbows. Most of the time, it’s the exact opposite. And again, the same can be said for Into the Woods; it got darker so that it could show us how dark the world can be, and if we want to survive, we need to keep growing and learning no matter how old we get.

Most stories that we remember fondly are the ones that took chances in order to be more than just popular fads. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol isn’t all smiles and Christmas wreaths, and yet it’s one of the most beloved Christmas stories today. Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables isn’t a happy story, and yet it’s become a popular musical with a touching message of hope. So if you want to censor a controversy, you need to start by understanding why the author took that risk in the first place.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”

Photo source: http://www.newpig.com/pig/US/barricade-tape-pls325

Thank You, Dad

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Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

Since I wrote a post for Mother’s Day, it only seemed logical that I write one for Father’s Day as well. This is going to be a little different, though, because I have to admit: there’s not a lot about the “perfect dad” that I know of. I’ve never been a father, and I’m physically incapable of becoming one, so before now I never took the time to think about the kind of father I would want for any children I might have. That’s not right. In fact, it’s sad. There’s a large variety of fathers, and the media shows us only three: the Embarrassing Dad, the Nonexistent Dad, and the Overbearing Dad.

To the naked eye, it seems like the mother does most of the parenting. It’s easy to see why; she gives birth to them, she feeds them, she cleans them, she fusses over them, etc. Many consider the Good Mother to be the place of refuge. With all of that in mind, what does the Good Father contribute? I did a little digging, and I found an article called “The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children” written by Jeffery Rosenberg and W. Bradford Wilcox. The article gave a basic—but thought-provoking—overview of fatherhood. It talked about how the relationship between the mother and father influences a child’s psychological behavior, as well as what this child will eventually look for in his/her future relationships. It also said that fathers playing with their babies will have a healthy effect on their psyche altogether.

That’s not to say that children with loving fathers will never experience depression or insecurity. My dad played with my brother and me a lot when we were babies, and outside sources gave me a lot of teenage angst that I’m not proud of. But because of both of my parents, I learned to grow out of it. While I admire single parents for raising kids on their own, I don’t think either of my parents could’ve raised me or my brother on their own. I don’t believe my dad could’ve done it without my mom, or that my mom could’ve done it without my dad.

I’m glad to say that I don’t have an Overbearing Dad, an Embarrassing Dad (most of the time), or the Nonexistent Dad. So what kind of dad do I have? After giving it some thought, I would label my dad as the Teaching Dad. If I had a question related to math or science, he was the go-to guy. If I needed help with paying taxes or fixing my computer, he was the one in the family who could help. Additionally, there were things that my dad unintentionally taught my brother and me. His relationship with our mom taught my brother how to respect his wife—as well as other women around him—and it taught me how I should be treated as a woman in any area of life. He taught me that it’s okay to be myself, and that I shouldn’t settle for relationships with people who don’t respect the kind of person I am. But at the same time, he taught me to be humble and recognize when I’m wrong.

My dad wasn’t a perfect man. There were times when I resented him. But at the end of the day, he was still my dad. As is the case with my mom, God made my dad just right for me.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “Happy Father’s Day, Dad. You deserve it.”

Source used: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/fatherhood/chaptertwo.cfm

Photo source: http://www.sheknows.com/holidays-and-seasons/articles/992789/wacky-quotes-all-dads-will-love

Maleficent: Epic Fairy tale or Psychological Letdown?

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In 1959, Disney released an animated film called Sleeping Beauty, based on the fairy tale of the same name by the Grimm Brothers. We still remember it for its artistic backgrounds, epic finale, and—of course—the greatest villain that Disney has ever given us, Maleficent. With her quiet elegance, her slimy disposition, and her awesome powers, critics and audiences fell in love with the villain. Years later, Disney decided to give her a backstory, much like Wicked did with the Wicked Witch of the West, and create the dark fantasy movie Maleficent, directed by Robert Stromberg and released on May 30, 2014. So far it’s become a box office success, grossing over $170 million within the first week. However, critics remained skeptical upon leaving the theater. Maleficent currently holds a 51% on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.5 stars on IMBD.

And I’m just going to quote the Nostalgia Critic’s final thoughts on the 2012 Les Miserables movie: I’m glad I saw it, but I don’t think it’s as good as it could’ve been.

First, let’s talk about what worked. The setting gives viewers the feeling of any fairytale movie, and Maleficent is excellent at showing the contrast between the world of fairies and the world of humans. The CGI doesn’t look real, but it’s still nice to look at. The costume design is creative as well, defining the fairies, the humans, Maleficent, and Aurora. I also like how the cinematography is put together, allowing viewers to see what they want to see without giving them too much.

Before I go any further, let’s address the white elephant of the movie: Angelina Jolie as Maleficent. In the trailers, I could tell that Jolie knew she had a rough job and she was putting her all into it. The film gave me the same impression: that Jolie was trying the best she could with everything the writing was giving her (more on the story in a moment). And I’ll also give her credit for making Maleficent a sympathetic Shakespearean villain.

The other impressive actress in the film is Elle Fanning as Aurora. In the 1959 movie, Aurora’s screen-time was so short that the filmmakers gave her little to no personality. One could argue that the three good fairies and Maleficent were the main characters. Here, they expanded Aurora’s role as much as they could, making her a curious, warm-hearted young girl who thought Maleficent was her fairy godmother. And Fanning’s acting was impressive as well.

Unfortunately, those were the only two—okay, three; the crow was cool—characters that were developed well. I’m not a fan of the three good fairies in the 1959 flick, but I’ll give them this: they were smart. They gave the girl a different name so that her identity wouldn’t be discovered, they were at least good parents, and they kept a close eye on her. This movie gave them a serious downgrade. They’re so annoying and so stupid that I wanted to bang my head on the seat in front of me every time they opened their mouths to talk. And the list of horrible pieces of character BS in the movie doesn’t end there. The humans are akin to the Whos in the first half of the live-action Grinch film: contrived, one-dimensional, horrible creatures with no redeeming qualities. And King Stefan’s one-dimensional character isn’t just bad; it’s disturbing. In the first three minutes of the film, he seemed like a good kid with a believable backstory. But his sudden transition into greedy, psychotic tyrant came out of nowhere. No build-up at all.

And that gets me into the worst part of the film: the story. I know I shouldn’t nitpick a fairytale, and this movie is okay at being a fairytale. But the first few minutes are so rushed that I didn’t have a clue of what was going on. And it doesn’t get much better after the first few minutes. If you thought the original fairy tale was confusing, this movie will do nothing to help that. It felt like it tried to fit too many plot points into an hour and a half, and say “hey, we’re Diet Wicked!” In fact, if they had made a prequel centered on the first few minutes, and then a live-action version of Sleeping Beauty, I think we would’ve had not just one, but two strong Disney films.

As is, however, the film is worth a view or two, but nothing more than that. If you want an epic fairytale, you’ll enjoy this movie. But if you’re looking for a psychologically brilliant story, you won’t find it here.

Overall rating: 4 stars out of 10.

PS: This might be an inappropriate request to make, but as long as we’re making Diet Wicked movies, could we have a backstory of Jafar with Tom Hiddleston playing the sympathetic villain? Just a thought.

Photo source: http://movies.disney.com/maleficent

Top 12 Heroes

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

Today, I want to talk about heroes. Not superheroes. Not heroes of Greek mythology. I’m talking about characters who willingly sacrifice something for the sake of salvaging what they believe is important.

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#12: Jacob Black

Although he comes from a bizarre franchise written by a bizarre author with a bizarre worldview, he’s the only decent character in the series. He’s the only one making sacrifices and the only one thinking about others. He’s the good guy, people.

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#11: Pocahontas

Let’s ignore the historical inaccuracy (as well as the sequel) and focus on the character in the film. I would’ve put Belle on this list because she sacrificed her life and freedom for her father’s safety. But while that’s admirable, I think her life in the castle was better than the one she had in the village. So overall, it didn’t seem like Belle had to give up anything. With Pocahontas, the phrase “it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all” comes to mind. She was willing to die not only to save John Smith’s life, but also to show that hatred wasn’t the answer. And John Smith was still injured to the point where he had to go back to England for a chance of survival. Pocahontas is the only Disney Princess whose love story ended in tragedy. Though she didn’t expect that to happen, she’d rather negotiate with her foes rather than kill them in cold blood.

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#10: Katniss Everdeen

Had Katniss not taken her sister’s place in the beginning, we would’ve gotten a different story. It’s interesting that the author decided to do that; instead of having Katniss selected, Collins wrote it so that Prim would be chosen and Katniss would volunteer to take her place and keep Prim safe. The brutality of the story showed how much Katniss sacrificed to keep her family alive. The aftermath of the Games seem similar to how war affects soldiers. She escaped with her life in the first book, but the rest of the series showed that she still paid a price: her agency and her emotional stability.

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#9: Elphaba

She’s unpopular, the teachers discover her magical abilities, she meets the Wizard, and she gets her happy ending, right? Wrong! When she finds out that the Wizard was behind the cruelty to animals, Elphaba gives up her happy ending to fight the ruthlessness. While no one else will fight alongside her, she sticks to her guns and counters others’ arguments with simple ethics.

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#8: Samwise Gamgee

Giant spiders, cave trolls, Gollum, Frodo’s deteriorating mental health, small chance of survival…I don’t think Sam knew what he signed up for when he joined the Fellowship. But he endured all of it and more because Frodo was his friend.

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#7: Ron Weasley

Harry and Hermione are both great, but Ron is the only one who goes up against his deepest fears and insecurities brought on by the Horcruxes. He doesn’t just have bad thoughts whispered into his ear; he has to see his worst nightmares dancing right before his eyes. It’s all summed up in the YouTube clip above (it explains it much better than I can).

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#6: Addie and Mrs. Frisby

Courage isn’t going up against the monsters that no one else is used to fighting; it’s going up against the monsters that you’re not used to fighting. I know a lot of people admire superheroes, but I don’t think they hold a candle to characters like Addie or Mrs. Frisby. Superheroes are used to going up against monsters. But Addie and Mrs. Frisby are used to mundane living. They’ve never had to fight anything. It’s despite their fear of the unknown that they choose to push forward anyway. Addie does it to save her sister, while Mrs. Frisby does it to save her son. If they die or give up, they have everything to lose.

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#5: Hester Prynne

Hester starts her story with little to be proud of. But she endures it all with dignity, because she knows what’s important in the course of a lifetime: the people she holds dear to her. In a Puritan point of history where adultery was punishable by law, maybe Hester’s life would’ve been easier if she revealed the name of her lover and gave up her child for adoption. But she loved her daughter too much to give her up, and did everything in her power to keep her. I won’t reveal the name of the father, but knowing his identity will explain why she refused to name him.

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#4: Moses

Okay, this is a little bit of cheating since this movie is based on someone in biblical history (no, I didn’t put Jesus on the list; that’s too obvious). But this medium transfer tells the story from a different point of view. The sacrifice that Moses has to make is his relationship with his brother. He did have two biological siblings. But to Moses, even while acting on God’s behalf, Ramses was always his brother, nothing more or less than that. Moses knows how much being a worthy leader of an entire nation means to Ramses. But he also knows how much turmoil his people are going through. No matter how much Moses loves his brother, he has to put that aside for the sake of his people and the Lord.

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#3: Martin Luther King Jr.

Again, this is kind of cheating, since this is a movie based on a historical figure. And it is—to say the least—a weird movie. But it pays homage to the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr, who put his entire life into creating a better future for America. The film also brings up the fact that his sacrifice made a huge difference. And since MLKJ is one of my favorite historical figures, I had to put him on the list.

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#2: Lily Potter

I know I already have a Harry Potter character, but I couldn’t let this countdown go by without mentioning Lily. Rowling described Lily as a place of refuge. Her act of sacrifice at the beginning of the story was the catalyst to Voldemort’s end; not only did she give Harry the protection he needed to survive the killing curse, but her sacrifice also gave him a fighting chance at defeating Voldemort.

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#1: Atticus Finch

I haven’t met anyone yet who didn’t react with awed reverence whenever they heard his name. Not only does he stand up for black people in a racist point in history, not only does he put more value in his family than in his possessions, not only does he raise his children on his own, not only does he represent a black man and believe in his innocence even when no one else will, not only does he avoid trouble and yet fight it when it threatens his values, but he takes pride in all of it. There’s no doubt about it; he’s the perfect hero.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”

Photo sources:

http://scoop.diamondgalleries.com/Home/4/1/73/1012?articleID=47713

http://twilightsaga.wikia.com/wiki/Jacob_Black

http://princess.disney.com/pocahontas

http://onceamonth4ladies.com/2012/08/15/why-we-adore-katniss-everdeen/

http://history-wiki.wikispaces.com/yr12_induction_kristensen_s

http://www.harrypotterfans.com/2010/11/harry-potter-photos/ron-weasley-4/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Two_Princesses_of_Bamarre

http://ntfe.thornvalley.com/design/brisby.php

http://flavorwire.com/265847/10-of-the-most-powerful-female-characters-in-literature/5

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/the-prince-of-the-egypt/images

http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/movies/Our-Friend-Martin/Martin-Age-34/

http://quoteko.com/harry-james-potter-color-darkred.html

http://andreabadgley.com/2013/11/13/atticus-finch-is-my-parenting-role-model/