Wednesday, December 26, 2018

#TwoSentenceHorrorStory: A Genre

In honor of Jordan Peele's newest film "Us". I wanted to venture into the realm of horror. I'm not a particularly good fiction writer, but I've liked the two-sentence horror story format since it burst on the social media scene in early 2013. Most of my early “stories” weren’t very scary or good, but these were worth sharing.

1) After six hours of trying, all he accomplished was getting his leg stuck further in the trap. The temperature was falling, the wolves were howling and he only had one bullet left.

2) Lisa was terrified by the soft sounds coming from her grandparents’ Victrola. The electric company shut the power off two days ago and her brother had claimed all of the records for himself.

3) Connor convinced himself the Homecoming pep rally was his best chance to make them finally leave him alone. As soon as the band stopped playing, he reached in his backpack.

4) She was everything he dreamed of: drop dead gorgeous, rich, intelligent and caring. He didn’t want to kill her husband, but how else could they be together?

5) They read all of articles and watched all of the videos; they sought counseling. None of it stopped their daughter from hanging another cat.

6) He didn’t know he was a cutter until he ran out of people to torture. Down two fingers and holding the knife against his pinky, he knew he had to go hunting.

7) She arrogantly yelled, "Let me speak to the manager." LaQuisha responded, "I'm the owner Susan."

8) They no longer trusted the universities, the media or their own instincts. Reality was changing right before our eyes and we powerless to do anything about it.

9) Holding his breath until he passed out no longer worked. He would wake up and they would be standing over him.

10) They raised their glasses high into the air before the toast. Everyone was so optimistic about 2019, but deep down they knew it would be another year like the others.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Kevin Hart Flexed On The Oscars

Kevin Hart decided to step down as host of the 91st annual Academy Awards. He was announced as the host on Wednesday (12/05/18) and was out by Friday (12/07/18). He informed his fans via an Instagram post of his decision to walk away: 

"I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscar’s... I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past. I'm sorry that I hurt people... I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again."

According to his IG post he was given an ultimatum by the Academy. He could make a formal public apology for his homophobic tweets and stay on as the host or he would be replaced. Kevin chose to walk away. In his response he highlighted the fact that he had indeed apologized for his past statements and those apologies would be just as easy to find as his controversial tweets were.

Social media is the judge, jury, and executioner for those living in the public’s eye. Twitter and Facebook are great tools for gauging what people are thinking at any given moment, but the often-caustic environment found on social media makes civil discussions almost impossible. Kevin Hart apologized for his past tweets, but those apologies didn’t trend like this controversy has; in the world of social media that’s the equivalent of them not existing. 

This isn’t an attempt to delegitimize the criticisms he’s faced for his tweets. Kevin Hart isn’t above reproach, but its’s disingenuous not to acknowledge the roll group think plays in social media controversies. Once a topic trends, it becomes popular to have an opinion about said topic. There are people tweeting about this who have never made one public statement of solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community. Some of have never watched the Academy Awards, and others have never seen Kevin Hart perform. This doesn’t mean their opinions are null and void, but all opinions aren’t equal. There are people participating in this conversation for narcissistic reasons.

This isn't my soapbox. I’ve made a ton of inappropriate statements I wish I could have back, but there are three things about this situation that make me very uncomfortable:

1) The Virtue Signaling: A lot of people weigh in on hot button issues in an attempt to absolve themselves of their own past problematic behavior. I have news for them: it doesn’t work that way. If you’ve laughed, or even snickered a little, at Bernie Mac's "milk and cookies" routine you are the fertilizer that helped grow Kevin Hart’s troubling tweets. 

2) The Doxing: There are people who sit around and scour other people's social media accounts looking for anything that could hurt them. These aren’t private investigators, they aren’t vetting people for important jobs. These people have too much free time on their hands. They would rather use their time tearing someone else apart than building themselves up. 

3) The Accountability: Social media has found a way to hold everyone accountable for what they say or do but the President of the United States. Donald Trump made hundreds of statements just as offensive as Kevin Hart’s tweets. We live in a society that holds comedians to higher ethical standards than politicians. 

Kevin Hart is out as the host of the Oscar’s. This won’t make one person affected by homophobia any safer. This doesn’t make the Academy Awards an institution with integrity. We haven’t solved any of the underlying issues that led to him thinking the way he did about the gay and lesbian community. We put a band aid on a bullet wound. Sadly, there are people on social media hailing this as some great victory for LGBTQIA+ rights.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Why Are We So Depressed?

Sometimes we want what we want even if we know it’s going to kill us.
Donna Tartt

Sigmund Freud believed most people channeled their death instinct outwardly. The "Death Drive" or that tendency towards self destructive behavior is real. I don't care if you subscribe to Eastern orthodoxies, Western religious dogmatism, or postmodern psychoanalytic theory, we can't deny the fact that there are some people hell bent on destroying themselves.

Self destruction takes on many forms. For some it's alcohol and drug abuse; for others it's engaging in extremely dangerous or risky behavior. No matter the symptom(s) the underlying cause tends to be some form of depression. What has changed in society? Are we more depressed now than before? Why do so many people feel like they are trapped in lives they can't escape?

This isn't a frivolous rhetorical exercise. I'm asking broad, open ended questions for a reason: maybe we need to spend more time thinking, with an open mind, about what's happening around us? How can we possibly help anyone if we haven't asked ourselves tough questions, or examined our own self destructive behaviors? 

I'm not Monday morning quarterbacking depression or any mental health issue. This isn't amateur psychology hour. I'm asking anyone still reading to think about the big questions, and some of the seemingly small questions that have big answers. Who are you? Who am I? How much influence does society, class, culture, and economics play in determining the answers we find? Why are we so depressed?