12 Underrated Fictional Fathers

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Last time, we observed Mother’s Day by taking a gander at 12 underrated fictional mothers. And since this is the month of Father’s Day, it only seems fair that we give 12 underrated fictional fathers the same treatment. Let’s not waste any time and dive right in.

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#12: Grandpa Joe from Willy Wonka

This guy has gotten a lot of hate over the years. And to be fair, it’s not altogether unwarranted. He spends twenty years in bed until his grandson finds a golden ticket, throws childlike insults around about the other kids, encourages Charlie to steal, and has his own outburst after Wonka has a vocal seizure. But he’s still earned a spot on this list, and here’s why:

  1. Charlie’s father is dead in the 1971 movie, which means Grandpa Joe has stepped in to be Charlie’s father figure
  2. He resolves to stop using tobacco once he sees that a loaf of bread is the equivalent of a banquet for the family
  3. He believes in Charlie throughout the contest despite the impossible odds, tries constantly to keep Charlie’s hopes for a better future alive. “Kid’s gotta have something to hope for” is his excuse.
  4. He recognizes that the way the other parents raised their kids wasn’t right
  5. He’s the one who warned Charlie about Slugworth, which ultimately led to Charlie passing the test in the end

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#11: Cameron and Mitchell from Modern Family

…honestly, these guys are here mainly because they’re so entertaining. Not only do they navigate life’s ups and downs as a gay couple raising a Vietnamese girl, but it’s also fun watching them do it.

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#10: Richard Castle from Castle

Castle has the maturity level of a child. He touches everything in sight, he makes faces at a school kid who gives him hell, and he compares his first ex-wife to a deep-fried Twinkie. But when he sees a child in jeopardy, there’s nothing joking or playful about his demeanor. When his daughter is abducted, he literally flies to France to find her and bring her home. When a nine-year-old is held hostage, he negotiates for the release of her and her mother before anyone else. When it’s revealed that a child might’ve witnessed a murder, he interacts with the kids to find the possible witness, and along the way helps them open up about their fears and insecurities.

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#9: Fa Zhou from Mulan/James from Princess and the Frog

Two fascinating father figures in Disney are Fa Zhou and James. They were both teacher figures who believe in their daughters, but not to the point where they coddled them. They were both tired to the bone sometimes, but they still summoned enough energy to provide for the girls. And for much of their respective movies, Mulan’s and Tiana’s motivations revolved around their fathers. Much like Kala and Jumbo, the two fathers’ differences are fun to compare too. Fa Zhou was more stern and stone-faced, while James radiated warmth and passion. Mulan was concerned about keeping her father alive, while Tiana’s goal was living the dream her father never made a reality.

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#8: Stoick the Vast from How to Train Your Dragon

The relationship between Hiccup and Stoick isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. They have different opinions on how to solve an issue, Hiccup wants Stoick’s approval, Stoick wants Hiccup to be different, you know it and so do I. Two interesting factors help this relationship stand out. One, the writers and animators for the movie know how to bring this relationship to life. From the expressions to the conversations to the actions, everything feels genuine. You know how much Stoick gets annoyed with Hiccup, but you also know how much he cares about his son. You see how much Hiccup looks up to Stoick, but you also see him trying to do what’s right for the dragons. The second factor is how the relationship develops in the TV series and the sequel. It’s awkward at first, but both parties are making the effort to communicate and compromise with each other. And by the time we get to the sequel, we get a glimpse of a healed relationship.

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#7: Hector from The Vile Village

From a cowardly grammar fanatic to a Trump-esque vice principal to a financial advisor with the humility of a peacock, Lemony Snicket seems determined to make the Baudelaires as miserable as humanly possible. The Baudelaires’ best legal guardians is an eccentric herpetologist, and he dies. But Hector is second best for a few reasons:

  1. Though timid, he doesn’t try to bribe his way out of trouble by handing the Baudelaires over to Olaf
  2. Even though it’s breaking the village rules, he provides ways that the Baudelaires can scratch their reading, inventing, and biting itches
  3. He visits the Baudelaires in jail and gives them the final clue they need to find their friends
  4. He builds an air mobile that gets the Quagmires out of Olaf’s reach
  5. He looks an entire village straight in the face and pretty much says “F*ck your rules, I’m done with this shit.”

#6: Long John Silver from Treasure Planet

In the original book as well as nearly every adaptation, Silver takes on the role of mentor and father for Jim Hawkins. Even Tim Curry understood this while scaring little girls in Muppet Treasure Island. So what makes this animated Long John Silver stand out above the rest? To put it simply: the attached clip from the movie.

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#5: Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice

Honestly, the only thing that makes this guy worth mentioning is that he’d fit right in with a modern-day stand-up comedian. In a weird family where each character has her own illogical form of logic, Mr. Bennet is one of the few voices of reason. That and his witty comebacks are a riot.

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#4: Ross Geller from Friends

He may be phenomenally stupid, but give him credit for wanting to be there when two of his ex-wives bear his offspring. And he also wanted to send his daughter to a science camp, so that’s a bonus.

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#3: Burt Hummel from Glee

Up until around the time Glee started airing, men and women had their own set of expectations to fulfill. Because of this, Burt admits that he doesn’t know how to be a father to a gay son. While he accepts Kurt for who he is, the two don’t have a lot of common ground to build a connection on. One likes fishing and sports, the other likes Broadway and clothes. This becomes especially problematic when Burt starts bonding with his new girlfriend’s son Finn, and Kurt becomes jealous. Thus, Kurt tries to act like the stereotypical man to gain his father’s approval. This relationship has all the traits of the relationship between Hiccup and Stoick, except Kurt always had Burt’s approval.

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#2: Bert from Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins and Bert have always offered a different view of parenthood that we don’t always talk about. She’s the strict and stern guardian, he’s the one having a blast. She’s the one with insane self-control, he’s the first one to join Uncle Albert on the ceiling. But even when you don’t have Mary Poppins there, Bert has fulfilled fatherly duties in ways that Mr. Banks never did. When the kids run away from the bank scared out of their minds, he’s the one who comforts them, teaches them empathy, and brings them home safely. When the kids don’t have a babysitter, he keeps them company. And when Mr. Banks wants to blame Mary Poppins for his problems, Bert gently offers him a different viewpoint. “Get to know your kids now; there might not be another time.”

#1: Iroh from Avatar

It’s hard to tell the story of Iroh and Zuko without giving anything away. So I’ll let the YouTube clip do the talking.

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12 Underrated Fictional Mothers

When you think of great fictional mothers, who comes to mind? Marge Simpson from The Simpsons? Mrs. Weasley from Harry Potter? Mrs. March from Little Women? Well, this blog post isn’t about them. Instead, we’re celebrating Mother’s Day by looking at twelve mother figures that we don’t talk about for some reason.

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#12: Donna Sheridan from Mamma Mia

If you haven’t seen this movie yet…don’t. The songs are pointless, the story is complete nonsense, the characters are forgettable, and everything else is insulting to Greece. But if there was one thing that was okay, it was Meryl Streep’s character. I can’t imagine how much stamina it would take not to disown your daughter when she invites three of your exes to her wedding without telling you (though you could argue Streep didn’t snap because the movie is allergic to misery). And towards the end when Sophie breaks down and asks for help, Streep agrees and even gives us a tender moment where she sings about letting go while helping Sophie prepare for the wedding.

From the moment she gets pregnant, a mother has to put up with a lot of crap. While we’re not unethical or sadistic enough to invite her exes to a wedding she has to attend, we still have to be fed, cleaned, sheltered, and cleaned up after for years. And since the movie at least understood that (to an extent), it only seems fair to bring it up.

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#11: Mrs. McCallister from Home Alone

Granted, leaving your eight-year-old at home alone to go on vacation isn’t responsible parenting. And the relationship between mother and son as shown in the beginning was strained. But when she realizes what happened, she almost immediately jumps to try to get back to Chicago. She calls local police to check on Kevin, she stays at the airport to get a flight back, she nearly trades her earrings for a seat, she snaps at a guy who tells her she can’t get there in time for Christmas, she does whatever she can to get home. She shows that responsibility isn’t so much never doing anything wrong so much as doing whatever it takes to set things right.

#10: Mrs. Brisby, Secret of NIMH

The Nostalgia Critic goes into better detail about the character, so I’ll let the attached clip showcase the awesomeness of this fictional mother.

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#9: Anne Juergens, Secret Life

Fair warning, I haven’t seen the later episodes of this show, so I’ll only focus on season one. The Juergens family is in shambles for almost the entire season. Fifteen-year-old Amy is pregnant, Anne and George are separating after his affair, and Anne’s mother is showing early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. But with all that on her shoulders, Anne keeps it together to help the family get through.

It’s important to note that she doesn’t coddle Amy during her pregnancy. She doesn’t scold or belittle her for being stupid, but at the same time she makes it clear that Amy has to start thinking and acting like an adult if she wants to be treated like one. While she agrees to support whatever decision Amy makes about the baby, she still does everything she can to make sure Amy has the information she needs to move forward, regardless of whatever choice she makes.

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#8: Jumbo from Dumbo/Kala from Tarzan

In many ways, Jumbo and Kala are pretty similar. They both stand up for their sons, they’re both great sources of comfort and refuge, and they both get a song number. But their differences are fun to compare as well. Jumbo became a mother thanks to a flighty stork, while Kala rescued Tarzan after losing her child. Kala doesn’t resort to violence to protect, but Jumbo reached a breaking point and felt she had to. Jumbo and Dumbo have a playful relationship—neither character even speaks—while Kala and Tarzan resemble the mother/son dynamic we see in everyday life. All in all, both have a well-earned spot on the list.

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#7: Valka from How to Train Your Dragon 2

She tames dragons. She got taken while protecting her baby during a dragon raid. She tames dragons. She can recognize Hiccup by a faint scar on his chin. She tames dragons. She teaches Hiccups more about living with dragons peacefully, even showing him a flying trick which predictably comes in handy during the final battle. Did I mention she tames dragons?

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#6: Mary Poppins

When the topic of fictional parenthood from the movie Mary Poppins comes up, a lot of people are like “oh, George Banks! He learns how to be a good father and fixes the kite!” Okay, fair enough, but how come no one ever brings up the leading lady herself? She’s the one looking after Jane and Michael for half of the movie. She’s the one taking them on fantastic journeys and showcasing the power of laughter and imagination. She’s the one teaching them generosity (and in the original book, responsibility). And she’s the perfect blend of lighthearted yet stern, nice yet haughty, and respectable yet flexible.

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#5: Mrs. Bucket from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

In the book and the 2005 remake, Mrs. Bucket is a side character with only a handful of lines. But in the 1971 film, her role is expanded in the first half, giving us a more developed relationship between her and Charlie. Through it’s only limited to a few scenes, we see her trying to be encouraging but also realistic. She doesn’t like seeing him down in the dumps, but she also doesn’t want him to get his hopes too high in case they come crashing down. It’s also interesting to note that, after the discovery of the third golden ticket winner, Mrs. Bucket is the one Charlie talks to. She’s the one who witnesses his frustration, she’s the one who reminds him that he wouldn’t be the only disappointed kid who didn’t find a ticket, she’s the one who tells him to keep his chin up, and she’s the one who tells him to keep his dreams in sight.

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#4: Narcissa Malfoy from Harry Potter

                As the author and hardcore fans of the Potter books will tell you, mother love is one of the recurring themes in the story. Mrs. Weasley and Lily Potter are obviously the two most influential mother figures, but another key mother figure who isn’t talked about a lot is Narcissa Malfoy. In nearly every scene she’s in, she’s concerned with the safety of her family. The first time we meet her, she’s defying her husband’s master to beg Snape to protect her son Draco. And in her last scene, she’s keeping Harry safe so that she can go back to Hogwarts to find Draco. In interviews, Rowling explained that she used Narcissa’s defiance to close the story so that it begins and ends with a mother’s protection.

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#3: Cora from Downton Abbey

As fun as it is to mock this soap opera, you have to admit that it also has its good moments. Cora happens to be one of them. Not only does she have the protective side going for her (an example is what happens when she overhears the nanny calling Cora’s granddaughter a “wicked little crossbreed”), but she’s also a consistent voice of reason. When Edith runs away to be with the daughter she had out of wedlock, Cora tracks her down and helps her find a solution that works for everyone. When her husband is being unreasonable when one of their daughters makes a drastic life choice, she sets him straight. And…yeah, that about sums it up.

#2: Elastigirl from The Incredibles

There’s one scene that sets up a perfect example of Elastigirl’s awesomeness, so I’ll let the clip speak for me.

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#1: Mandy from Ella Enchanted

For the sake of argument, let’s ignore the movie and focus on the book.

From beginning to end, Ella’s fairy godmother encompasses the depth, difficulty, and necessity of motherhood. She looks after Ella, but doesn’t spoil her. She encourages her to be realistic, but doesn’t stop her from pursuing her dreams. Though she won’t take risks (“big magic,” as she calls it), she’ll do whatever she can for her goddaughter. She weeps when Ella weeps, she celebrates her joys, she shares hopes for a brighter future, and she’s the most trusted confidant in the story. Mandy, the most underrated mother figure.

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Ranking Disney: #28 – Tarzan (1999)







Act vs. Wait

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We’ve seen a lot of injustice since the dawn of time, haven’t we? The rich get richer while the poor starve to death. Terrorism takes on different forms almost every day. Even the most well-meaning government officials are corrupted by power. No matter where we are in the world, injustice is a sad reality that we have to come to grips with.

For a lot of people, this has brought up a nagging question that has no clear answer: When trouble rises, do we act to try to fix the problem, or do we wait for someone else to try?

At first glance, it seems like taking action is the right direction to go. As we’ve seen in the last few months alone, actions such as protests and lawsuits have prevented the Muslim ban from going into effect twice. Even something as simple as paying for a meal or donating to a good cause goes a long way in demonstrating love and kindness for our fellow man or woman. That being said, there are at least two cons that come with taking action.

First, there’s pride. When we do something good, we like to brag about it. In a church I used to attend, members are given the opportunity to stand up and share how God has led them to be a temporary hero for the poor (and yes, I did roll my eyes when I wrote that). Sometimes, this kind of arrogance can lead us to berate or belittle others for not doing what we’re doing. The “I’m perfect, why aren’t you perfect?” argument, if you will.

The second con from taking action is lack of proper guidance. To illustrate my point, let’s look at police brutality and the growing lack of trust between law enforcement and citizens. A while back, some officers tried to rebuild trust by handing out free ice cream to random passersby on the street. Even if they had the best intentions, the gesture didn’t do anything to shake the fear of being approached by an officer. If you don’t have the knowledge or the humility to find the root of the problem, you won’t be able to fix it.

On the other hand, there’s also the option to stand back and wait for someone else to fix the problem. It’s a solution that Christians like to point to a lot, saying “just pray and wait on God to fix everything.” And just like action, waiting can have its advantages. If you don’t have the necessary knowledge, waiting can allow you to take a step back and learn more. Or if you’re not qualified to help, it might be necessary to make way for someone who is. But even waiting has its disadvantages too—namely, paving the way for potential apathy and/or laziness. Poverty has been around for so long that it’s too easy to say “it’ll never get better, so why bother caring?” Waiting also makes it too easy to say “I’m sure someone else will deal with it better than I can, so better not try.” Or as psychologists call it, the Bystander Effect.

With all of this said, it might be easy to just say “oh, we’ll just need a little bit of both. If we need to wait, we wait. If we can act, we act.” The thing is, that line has never been drawn—at least, not clearly. Take medicine. Would the world be a healthier place if everyone knew about the human body? Maybe. Since not everyone specializes in science, we’re not really hard on someone who decides to pursue a different path. But we could still learn if we wanted to. So does the lack of action make us lazy? Or would taking action despite lack of passion for the subject matter only make everything worse?

The sad thing is, figuring out what’s right for certain conflicts has never been easy and it never will be. We live in a complicated world, and as a result the solutions won’t always be black and white. Does this mean we shouldn’t try to find solutions at all? Hell, no! That’s not why we’re here. I guess all I’m trying to say is:

  1. Do the best you can and encourage others to do the best they can
  2. Don’t belittle people for either taking action with a hothead or not doing anything.

We’re trying to figure things out and we’re trying to get better at making the right choices. And if we want to steer people towards the right choices, we need to acknowledge our own mistakes and humanity as well.

Photo source: https://christandpopculture.com/side-ferguson-local-churches-fighting-injustice/

Tired of Chasing Beauty

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I used to obsess over appearance. Like…all the time. As a little girl, I had a small collection of princess costumes and glitter. As a teenager, I hid behind long hair and baggy clothes so that the other kids wouldn’t comment on my acne or body weight. Now, at twenty-five, I can’t help but wonder…why?  Why did I obsess over my appearance so much? Why was visual appeal so important to me?

For starters, it’s almost a given that society plays a big role in perpetuating faith in beauty. Since the invention of commercials, we’ve been bombarded with ads featuring various clothes, face-cleansers, hair products, and make up products. Beauty pageants are still a thing. And we often hear unsolicited beauty tips like these:

“Why don’t you smile more? You’ll get more attention.”

“Nice girls shouldn’t get dirty.”

“Wear your hair down more often, it’s so pretty that way.”

But that still leaves the question: why did I, like so many other girls, buy into that lie in the first place? I have two theories.

One: exposure. As a kid, the only movies I remember growing up with were Disney movies. And while Ariel and Jasmine were a clear sign of Disney trying to evolve their storytelling (I didn’t see Beauty and the Beast until I was ten), the first Disney princess to actually confront and reject gender stereotypes was Mulan, and her movie came out in 1998.

Two: easy way out. We live in a crazy, complicated world. As a result, we tend to look for easy solutions to make the world less complicated. As much as my teenage-self looked up to female characters like Kim Possible, Luna Lovegood, and Violet Baudelaire, I didn’t think I could be strong or brave or smart like they were, no matter how much I wanted to. I wasn’t good at math or science, gym class was always a nightmare, and I was that one kid who climbed up the high dive, took one look at the water below, and then climbed back down the ladder. And while I wasn’t confident about my looks either, beautiful felt at least obtainable in comparison.

But is it even worth it? On occasions where I make myself a little more presentable than usual, the compliments and attention I get only last a few seconds. And on the two occasions I intentionally dolled myself up to look pretty, one guy (who had a girlfriend at the time) told me I was beautiful and then years later admitted it was a mistake, and another guy—one I was actually trying to impress—started a relationship with another girl the next day. And on non-social occasions, looks never played a role in anything. They never increased productivity at the workplace, and they never had an effect on anything I’ve ever written.

I’ll admit, I was ready to give up on caring about my appearance altogether. If the upsides to beauty are trivial at best, why bother? Then I talked to one of my close friends from college, and she mentioned that giving appearance some thought can have two actual benefits:

One, health. Yes there’s weight watching, but some beauty products contribute to things like healthy skin and healthy hair. She may or may not have also mentioned that, and I quote, “supportive undergarments [help] avoid back pain.” Kind of weird, but then again, we live in a weird world.

Two, sense of identity. Again, to quote my friend, taking note of how you look can allow you to “mentally see yourself. You’re allowed to make yourself look any way you feel like looking, without worrying about how others perceive you.” I spent a few good hours mulling over what she said. And the more I did, the more I realized she might have a point. It’s hard to explain, but the kinds of clothes we wear and the way we set up (or don’t bother to set up) our faces say something about who we are and what we think. For example, feeling at home in a $3,000 tracksuit either screams “eccentric billionaire” or “wealthy and proud of it.” A sharp suit can say “I’m ready to go, so let’s get to work.” Or a look as simple as jeans and a t-shirt can say “this is who I am, and I won’t pretend otherwise just to make you happy.” I’ve noticed some of these trends in my own life as well. Finding the right balance is a hassle, but having it there allows me to relax and focus on what I’m doing. I’ll wear dresses and skirts as long as I’m allowed to add leggings, but slipping into pants makes me feel more like myself.

So maybe there is something to be said about the way we look. It just might take looking at the issue from a personal standpoint as opposed to a societal standpoint. Again, it’s a little hard to put into words, and again, it can be tiring to find clothes and makeup products that tell others—and myself—who I am. But maybe some good can come from it.

Special thanks to: Ashley Peters, admin

Photo source: https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-16095685-stock-footage-woman-applying-makeup.html?src=rel/68941:8

What Abstinence Only Doesn’t Teach

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When I was in high school, I took a Family & Relationships course. At one point in the class, we talked about intercourse, protection, pregnancy, STDs, and pretty much almost everything else connected to sex. While the teacher did believe that abstinence was the best choice we could make, she acknowledged that it wasn’t the only choice. As a teacher at a Christian school she also pointed out that, even though God had a lot to say about sex, that didn’t mean we couldn’t enjoy it.

It was a great class, and I got a lot of questions answered. But I didn’t take that optional class until I was eighteen and in my last semester of high school. Until then, I was subjected to both my church and my school giving me the abstinence only view of sex. In that time, all I knew about sex was that I should avoid it as much as possible—even talking about it if I could.

We Americans have a weird way of talking about sex no matter where we go. Some communities like to avoid the topic altogether. As a result of the way we refuse to acknowledge the subject, America’s teens will often go into high school—even college—without a full understanding of sex. Sadly, this leads to unanswered questions. And in some cases, the consequences of letting these questions go unanswered are too severe not to address. Here’s just a few of those questions.

  1. What is sex?

John Oliver discussed the lack of sex education in America’s sex ed programs (link to his segment below), summarizing that it’s easier to find out what kids aren’t learning than it is to find out what kids are learning. And…yeah, that’s the best way to summarize abstinence only programs. They’ll tell you that it involves getting naked, but they don’t usually teach about protection, getting pregnant, or even what consent looks like.

  1. What’s the Appeal?

One of the questions I never got answered growing up is “if it’s so wrong, why have sex at all?” The media in particular has a strong fixation on sex. There are several factors that could explain the phenomenon, including but not limited to a) you can make almost anything appealing by forbidding it, and b) it’s a human drive—not a need, but a drive. Point is, there’s truth to the phrase “knowledge is power.”

  1. Is Shaming Okay?

On one hand, we believe that the “old-fashioned” notion doesn’t exist anymore. But it does, and it’s weird that we’d gloss over the idea of saying no. The other day, I found an ad from dating coach Matthew Hussey saying the best reply to a new acquaintance asking for a naked photo is “I think you’re mistaking me for a future version of myself who’s been on more dates with you.” Okay, but what if we don’t want to exchange naked photos at all? Come on, Hussey, let’s forget about my love life and talk about the legal and emotional importance of consent for a minute, shall we?

But on the other hand, people still make fun of you if you’ve had sex outside of marriage, whether you chose to or not. When I was in high school, a girl in my youth group was pretty popular with boys. To my knowledge, she never went beyond casual kissing. Yet my youth group leader made it seem perfectly acceptable to humiliate her for her “suggestive behavior,” turning our group into a hierarchy and saying she needed to earn her place in the clique despite already being part of the small group. That kind of non-virgin shaming isn’t just appalling in Christian communities, it’s commonplace. The sex education programs at Christian schools give students the right to compare non-virgins to dirty shoes or walking STDs.

As mentioned before, there’s a lot of other things about sex we don’t learn in sex education. The John Oliver segment—again, link below—is both funny and informative, so please check it out when you have the chance. But the point is, sex is more than just getting naked and experiencing bodily pleasure. So if we want to prepare our youth, then maybe we need to be more candid and willing to talk about it in a safe environment where kids can ask anything without fearing paranoid criticism.

Photo source: http://act4entertainment.com/issues/human-rights-civil-justice/sex-education/

12 Angry Men: A Message of Kindness?

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When most people think of jury drama, they think of Reginald Rose’s play 12 Angry Men. And when some people think of the play 12 Angry Men, they think of the 1957 movie of the same name directed by Sidney Lumet. High school English teachers pop this movie in because of the way it defines American justice, its message that facts aren’t always as black and white as they appear, and its Schooling Juror #10 Drinking Game.

The story is about a jury deciding on the guilt or innocence of an eighteen-year-old boy accused of killing his father. 8 is initially the only one who votes not guilty, despite the fact that the testimonies and presented evidence show otherwise. He pokes holes in the facts and argues that the evidence isn’t as conclusive as it seems, and the other jurors slowly but surely change their votes.

While critics love this movie for its cinematography, acting, and obsession with the phrase ‘reasonable doubt,’ I thought I’d focus on a different aspect of the story: 8’s influence on the other jurors.

Let’s start with 8 and the way he interacts with the other jurors. He walks into the jury room, quiet and contemplative, only speaking when spoken to. When he’s asked why he votes not guilty, his only response is “I don’t know.” He starts his case by appealing to the other jurors’ humanity and asking to show the boy compassion by discussing the case.

As the arguments unfold and we hear about the testimonies and evidence presented, we learn that 8—though quiet—is by no means a pushover. Whenever someone says “this is fact” to him, he nearly always has a way of saying “maybe to you, but I’d like to know more.” He challenges them to stand by what they say, especially when they’re not as sure as they think they are.

But while he isn’t a pushover, he also isn’t a victim of toxic masculinity like 3 or 10. When he realizes he’s outnumbered, he gambles for support instead of trying to power through on his own. He respectfully listens to the opinions of the others, even if he doesn’t agree with them. In fact, the only instances where he ignores the other jurors is whenever 10 exhales bigoted bullshit. And the only time you see 8 visibly angry is when he catches 3 and 12 playing tic tac to instead of focusing on the case.

Now let’s look at the other jurors. 1 is a passive guy, trying and failing to keep the peace between the others. 2 is a passive banker who is more used to agreeing rather than voicing his own opinions. 3 is—as 8 refers to him in the story—a “self-appointed public avenger” who wants to see the boy die. 4 is a smart, analytical broker who is also the strongest advocate for sticking to the facts. 5 is a quiet man who grew up in the slums. 6 also tries to keep the peace, but he won’t tolerate any of the jurors being silenced or treated as less than human. 7 doesn’t care about the case at all, always checking the time and impatient to get to a baseball game. 9 is the oldest of the group who could pass for an empathetic psychologist. 10 is a bigot who values his own opinion too much. 11 is a quiet European immigrant who isn’t afraid to ask questions. And 12, like 7, doesn’t take the case seriously and cracks jokes when he probably shouldn’t.

The first six jurors to vote not guilty are 8, 9, 5, 11, 2, and 6. Out of the five who change their votes, four of them start off as quiet, and whenever they speak up they’re either insulted or not taken seriously by the other jurors. They’re treated as though their opinions don’t matter in the grand scheme of things (and if 6’s line “I’m not used to supposing” is anything to go by, they probably believe that they don’t matter). But as soon as they change their votes, they become strong advocates for the boy’s acquittal. In comparison, the majority of the other six (1, 3, 4, 7, 10, and 12) start out being loud, aggressive, and in some cases obnoxious. But by the time they change their votes, they don’t speak up as much—almost as if they’re humbled by being proven wrong.

What does this say about these two sides of the coin? Watch the film again and focus on how 8 interacts with everyone else—and how they respond to him. Again, 8 listens to everyone else and what they have to say. But he also asks questions. When talking to jurors like 2, 5, 9, and 11 in particular, it’s like he’s saying to them “your opinion does matter.” And when speaking to jurors like 3, 7, 10, and 12, it’s like he’s saying to them “your opinion is not the only one that matters.” With all of that said, maybe this movie was about more than just criminal justice. Maybe it also showed how kindness can empower the powerless and simultaneously humble the arrogant.

Photo source: http://screenprism.com/insights/article/how-does-12-angry-men-use-cinematography-to-build-tension-during-the-film

Why I Still Go to Church

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Christianity has had an interesting history, hasn’t it? What started off as a small, persecuted movement has now become one of the most well-known religions in the world. Many Christian churches go on to do great things that help other people, including (but not limited to) donating food and helping build homes for people who need it. But especially recently, Christianity—or even just the idea of going to church—has become less and less popular over the course of time. There’s been a rise in millennials leaving the church for various reasons, either because they need a break or because they don’t find meaning in the Sunday morning ritual.

As for me, I’d be lying if I said being around other Christians was a walk in the park. But I still go even if it’s not popular for my generation. And this is why.

When I was in college, my church attendance was slowing down before it eventually came to a complete stop. I had a few reasons, most of them involving transportation and my repulsion at the idea of getting out of bed earlier than I wanted. But even between graduation and my first job, I was slowly getting fed up with the idea of church. Instead of being a place where the needy found mercy and compassion, the church had become a place where people could brag about all the nice things they’ve done. When I think about why I decided not to go back, what comes to mind is the Home Improvement episode where Randy decided he wanted to stop going to church. Like Randy, I hadn’t given up on God, but I wanted to find other ways of strengthening my faith that didn’t involve going through the motions of worship.

This break lasted for a little over a year. And if there was only one word I’d use to describe that time, it was “frustrated.” I was frustrated with my life because it wasn’t working out the way I wanted it to. I was frustrated with my job because—at the time—working there made me feel imprisoned. I was frustrated with my family because I didn’t feel like the daughter or sister they wanted me to be. I was frustrated with myself because I was convinced that I had failed to do what I wanted before I’d even started. But above all, I was frustrated with God because I didn’t know what he wanted me to do.

After a while, I finally started going back. I found a church close to where I live, and I’ve been going ever since. As an introvert, it’s taking me a while to make friends. And truth be told, I could go on for hours about the things there that I don’t agree with. But one of the biggest selling points happened just this weekend, when I realized why I wasn’t giving up and why—despite my complaints—I kept coming back.

For me, being a Christian is less about religion and more about faith. Rituals and traditions? Never been a fan. Hand motions to accompany hymns? Fuck them. Half hour sermons that almost always go a little too long? I’ll let you know when I stop drifting off to La-la Land. Interacting with God? Getting to know him through his word? Learning a handful of the ways he uses to communicate with his people? That’s what helped me let go of my self-hate. That’s what challenges me to be a better person every day. That’s my Christian bread and butter. I need the small Christian community I found to nurture my faith and keep asking questions. And as sappy as it sounds, I couldn’t have found that community without church.

So to my fellow millennials out there considering leaving church, I say this: if there’s something more you’d like to see churches do, bring it up. There are plenty of older Christians out there asking how to bring the generation back. And if we can all have that conversation with each other about how the church can spiritually flourish, then maybe we can come together to make the world just a little better than it used to be.

Photo source: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung/2015/02/05/the-plus-one-approach-to-church/