Why People Hate Theatre Kids: Analyzing the “Artsy Douche” Stereotype

I’ve said before that I’m currently majoring in writing,  but this wasn’t always the case. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I was a proud theatre arts education major. College was my first experience with a theatre department, since my high school barely had a marching band and thought that the arts were expendable. That being said, I was surrounded by rednecks who hated kids who liked art and I knew quite understood it. I’d never met someone who was artistic that was unlikable in any way, really, so why did everyone have this preconceived notion about art kids?

Well, I’m here to tell you, after my brand new experience with the theatre department, I finally understand exactly what everyone was talking about and, while I don’t like to stereotype people, I completely get why people are so disgusted by anyone who has the term ‘arts’ in their degree. Here’s why people hate theatre kids:

Many  are, indeed, arrogant assholes. I’m critical of things, I know, but I can appreciate something good and someone’s opinion to believe that something is good. I can appreciate childish whimsy and a love for things that weren’t nominated for an Academy Award. I can appreciate actors who are not classically trained and I can appreciate stories for children.

A lot of the theatre kids I’ve worked with (and befriended) are the same way and have a lot of respect for people’s differing tastes.

But then there are the others, the ones that give these poor kids a bad reputation to start with. For example, not too long ago, I was discussing ticket sales for our latest theatrical production, a comedy, which is selling out much quicker than our previous show, a very dramatic, obscure piece about lives being ruined and suicide.

Now, it’s obvious to see why one is doing better than the other. The fact of the matter is, people outside of a theatre department are more inclined to pay to see something that they know will be enjoyable, something that will make them laugh. Personally, I put a high value on comedy as I think it shows us more truth than anyone realizes.

Unless  you’re easily offended or a stereotypical tumblr SJW. If that’s the case, you should probably stay off the internet and avoid anything that’s even remotely funny, because you’re going to end up butthurt afterwards. Sorry not sorry.

Anyway, so, I was saying that our new show was selling more because it was a comedy. I was saying that, on average, people are likely to take time out of their day to see something genuinely funny and entertaining rather than something depressing.

My friend, a musical theatre major, then said (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Well, yeah, a lot of non-theatre people like comedy when it has no substance.”

Keep in mind, this is the same woman who adamantly defends Cats.

Well, for starters, this is inaccurate. In fact, I may just make a post about how important comedy is in the near future just to debunk this myth that’s constantly thrown around by people with a shitty sense of humor.

Secondly, how dare you? In this single sentence, this theatre kid has not only proved that she cannot dissect something that doesn’t slap her in the face with some kind of dark meaning (which, honestly, sounds a lot like butthurt-DC-fanboy attitude, but whatever), but she also implied that people who enjoy comedy are somehow beneath her, as if they don’t comprehend things on the same level as her and that they are somehow inferior.

This is just one example. I’m aware that the stereotype doesn’t define all theatre kids, but it was that very moment that I realized that, in some cases, the stereotype is very, very true. And these people are hard to get along with. And I completely understand why so many people who don’t know any better hate these kids. They’re the worst. God forbid you express an opinion in front of them or ask them to see LEGO Batman with you.

Anyway, theatre kids aren’t all arts kids, I know. Music kids don’t face the same awful stereotype. Instead, they get pegged as either stoners, music snobs, classical music enthusiasts, or idiots with no future. Visual art kids are usually considered the weird outcasts who just kinda hang out in the back of the room and only talk to one another.

None of these stereotypes are completely accurate and it’s never fair to judge someone by them, but, as much as I hate to admit it, all stereotypes come from a bit of truth. A lot of theatre kids are pretentious. Kids who draw sometimes are more socially awkward than others. And a lot of kids in the music department do enjoy the occasional joint or two.

So, all I’m really trying to say is that, no, you shouldn’t judge arts kids by any of these stereotypes until you get to know them. But, if you find that someone is going to start telling you that a hilarious satire on censorship  is somehow substance-less just because they aren’t fans of comedy and think that no one else should be either, run the other way.

Conclusion: STEREOTYPES. THEY DO EXIST.

 

– Mary

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My Top Concept Albums

I’m a music geek. I have been since I was a child. My parents introduced me to their music at a young age. After that, I developed a slight obsession with Guitar Hero, joined the school marching band at age ten, and started on my journey to being the music snob that I tend to be now. Is my music taste anything more than trashy? Probably not. Do I care?

Hell no.

Anyway, music has been a major part of my life for many reasons, but the prime being that each song, in its own right, is a story — whether this is a good story that’s worth telling is subjective —  and storytelling makes up the majority of the joyous thing in my life — hence my writing major.

What better way to tell a story than to release a concept album, an album in which each song leads to the next, connecting all of them in an intricate story instead of making your album a compendium of different ideas. It is because of this principle that concept albums mean more to me than most others. Despite that, I don’t know of too many concept albums, which is upsetting. That being said, here are my nine favorite concept albums of my limited experience with them.


 

9. Electra Heart – Marina and the Diamonds

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A girly choice, I know, but I cannot quite explain the love I have for this album. I didn’t really get into Marina and the Diamonds until after the release of Froot, but there’s something about this album that I’m drawn to. Maybe it’s Marina’s use of four different archetypes when it comes to women telling their different stories. Maybe it’s how she seems to represent the darker sides of women and their lives, something we don’t often see being put out by your average pop diva. Maybe it’s just Marina’s incredible vocal work and catchy songwriting. Who knows? But, regardless, Electra Heart is, unironically, one of my favorite concept albums and albums in general.

Favorite Song(s): “Valley of the Dolls,” ; “State of Dreaming” ; “Teen Idle”

 

8. Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies – Volbeat

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A somewhat unconventional choice, Volbeat is an — unfortunately lesser known — Danish band with by far one of the most unique sounds I know of. Michael Poulsen (vocalist) has one of the most interesting voices I’ve heard. I remember sitting with my dad and asking how me made his voice sound like an electronic bass, since it seemed impossible for that to be natural. I was wrong, which was amazing. Anyway, Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies is often considered a concept album due to it’s focus on gunslingers in the 19th century. The album has an astounding quality to create not just a story, but an entire atmosphere that immerses yourself in a western, the opposite of what you’d expect from a metal band. The combination of Volbeat’s natural metal sound — and incredible music ability — and the interesting use of old western stylistic choices creates for an entire new world that the listener can temporarily live in.

Favorite Song(s): “The Hangman’s Body Count” ; “Cape of Our Hero” ; “Our Loved Ones”

7. … And Justice for All – Metallica

Metallica_-_...And_Justice_for_All_cover

Remember when I said I listened to my parents’ music? Well, by parents, I mostly meant my dad, but whatever. Metallica was his favorite band for years, so, in turn, I fell in love with them as well. I remember sitting in the kitchen as a child while my dad reached for his guitar. I remember listening to the opening measures of “One” more times than I can count. Hell, I hadn’t even heard the song in it’s full glory at the time. So, anyway, what is it that makes this album so special? Well, let’s start with the burning question I’m sure some of you have: Is this even considered a concept album?

In truth, I’m not sure. I’m not sure if the band ever explicitly stated that this was a concept album, but those who have listened to it can draw connections between each of the songs as, lyrically, they tend to revolve around injustice and legal inequality in regards to war, censorship, and so on. The central concept seems to be this idea that blind justice is a lie, a beautiful thought, really, since it’s very, very true. This, at least, makes me consider it a concept album, but feel free to dispute me.

Favorite Song(s): “One” ; “Blackened” ; “The Shortest Straw”

6. Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones – Black Veil Brides

Wretched_and_Divine-_The_Story_of_the_Wild_Ones

I know, I know. Black Veil Brides is an emo trash band that really isn’t that great and has a douche of a lead singer and blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard it all before, trust me. I know that they’re not the greatest and that I will probably get a lot of hate just for putting them on the list, but hear me out. No matter how you feel about the band, let’s look at this album. Wretched and Divine tells the story of a dystopian world in which a group of rebels, “The Wild Ones,” seek to rebel and go to war with F.E.A.R., a group that is ravaging the world.

Now, let’s take all of that into consideration. Post apocalyptic rebellion? Originality and freedom overcoming fear and oppression? I don’t know what about you, but that whole idea speaks to me. The clearness of the story and the use of radio transmissions is what teleports a listener into this war. I felt as if I were fighting alongside the Wild Ones and, despite me just sitting at home on my couch with my headphones in, I felt a sense of victory as we approached the finale. Say what you want about Black Veil Brides, but the storytelling in this album puts it on this list, like it or not.

Favorite Song(s): “New Years Day” ; “Nobody’s Hero” ; “Wretched and Divine” ; “We Don’t Belong”

5. Master of Puppets – Metallica

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Yay! More Metallica! That means more of Mary’s childhood, right? Yeah, you’re right. So, remember when my dad pulled out his guitar and played “One” for me? Well, he didn’t just stop there. My dad also had a thing for the very opening of “Master of Puppets,” which was interesting on an acoustic guitar — damn, I remember when I thought my dad was the world’s greatest musician. On top of that, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” was one of my favorite songs of all time, even before I’d heard the original recording, because of my dad played it so often and I grew fond of the ballad. Master of Puppets is my favorite Metallica album period, and for good reason. This was also the last album with Cliff Burton before his death, so that makes it significant in the band’s history.

And, we’re onto the same question as before: is this a concept album? In my opinion, yes. Each song seems to confront the ideas of the abuse of power in some respect. I don’t think the songs are meant to tell a single specific story, but they have a unifying concept. Does that count?

Favorite Song(s): “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” ; “Orion”

4. The Black Parade – My Chemical Romance

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My Chemical Romance is my favorite band. Period. We all new this album would be on here somewhere, right? The Black Parade is the defining album of MCR’s career, and for a good reason. Musically, it’s their best work with the most emotional songs and an excellent showing of Gerard’s vocal range and passion. There is a certain fire you can hear in his voice that sets him apart from other vocalists. Anyway, The Black Parade tells the story of a man dying of cancer and his journey into the afterlife. Not very intricate, but with beautiful songs that prove to be very memorable and effective.

Favorite Song(s): “Disenchanted” ; “Famous Last Words” ; “Cancer” ; “Sleep” ; “Dead!”

Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys – My Chemical Romance

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More MCR! Yay! Anyway, Danger Days is actually my favorite My Chemical Romance album and not for the reasons it probably should be. Musically, it is just slightly inferior to The Black Parade, being a much more tame, almost alt-pop-rock sound rather than the odd rhythms and dark lyrics found in their older “emo” stuff. However, it’s this album’s story that captured my heart. Black Veil Brides took the idea from MCR — actually, they probably didn’t, but they are extremely similar so… — but this album follows a group of rebels in a post-apocalyptic society. The society is controlled by Better Living Industries, a group that makes living easy for the people of Battery City, but takes away their emotions through tablets. Outside of the city are the Killjoys, a group of rebels that include: “Party Poison” (Gerard Way), “Fun Ghoul” (Frank Iero), “Jet Star” (Ray Toro), and “Kobra Kid” (Mikey Way) as well as an unnamed girl. The story follows them on their journey to defeat Better Living Industries.

The album, according to the band, is about being who want to be and personal freedom, while Better Living Industries serves as a metaphor for society taking away things that make people different, cutting art, etc.

Beautiful.

On top of that, Gerard Way wrote a comic book to continue the story, which I recommend. Though, if you really want to read Gerard’s work, I suggest The Umbrella Academy.

Favorite Song(s): “The Only Hope for Me is You” ; “Bulletproof Heart” ; “DESTROYA”

2. American Idiot – Green Day

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This one is a no-brainer. American Idiot is partially responsible for reviving the idea of the concept album. It’s perfect, one of the few perfect albums in existence (I’ll probably post about that at some point as well). Green Day’s iconic album tells a long and weird story, but follows Jesus of Suburbia as he runs into characters like St. Jimmy and Whatsername after leaving his boring home and family for the city. The album also has some political themes, mostly criticisms of the Bush administration. The overall tone of the album is that of rebellious teenagers who fancy themselves freedom fighters, a coming-of-age-type of story as Jesus is faced with the rage vs. love ideal. The ending is left to the listener’s interpretation.

Also, if your album is good enough to get a show on Broadway, you deserve a spot on the list.

Favorite Song(s): “Homecoming” ; “St. Jimmy” ; “Wake Me Up When September Ends” ; “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”

 

1. Operation: Mindcrime – Queensrÿche

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Another album that my dad introduced me to, Operation: Mindcrime is another concept album that keeps a listener engaged with nearly flawless storytelling techniques. The story is more elaborate than that of most concept albums, following a character with an actual name, and it is a story that parallels that of a fictional character close to my heart: The Winter Soldier.

If you don’t want the album’s story spoiled for you, skip the next paragraph, since I feel the story is crucial to this album’s place on my list and I feel the need to tell it.

That being said, the story follows a man named Nikki, who wakes up one day with amnesia. His memories hit him all at once and he remembers his past as a politically-unhappy drug addict who is manipulated into joining a revolutionary cause. He is then taken under the care of Dr. X, who merely says the word “mindcrime” in order to turn Nikki into a mindless puppet, one that Dr. X uses to carry out murders necessary to his cause. After essentially turning Nikki into an assassin, Nikki meets Sister Mary, whom he develops a bond with. He starts questioning what he’s doing. Dr. X, fearing Nikki might grow rebellious, orders him to kill both Mary and the corrupt priest she words under. Nikki kills the priest, but refuses to kill Mary and the two decide they want out of the resistence together. When Nikki tries to leave, Dr. X tempts him with the fact that he is an addict and only with Dr. X can he be provided his fix. Nikki is conflicted and leaves, only to return to a dead Mary. Unable to cope with the loss — and the idea that he may have killed her unknowingly — he starts losing his mind. Eventually, he is arrested under suspicion for Mary’s murder — as well as the murders he knew he committed — and put in a mental hospital as his memories fade. The album end with Nikki watching something about all the recent political homicides, jogging his memory and returning us to the beginning of the album.

The story is so perfect and the telling of it is absolutely beautiful. There is no cooler concept album out there, honestly. I mean, musically,  I have other favorites, of course. I prefer listening to My Chemical Romance or Green Day most of the time, but this is, by far, the best done concept album I have every come across. The pure technique and storytelling aspects of this puts it at the top of my list.

Favorite Song(s): “I Remember Now” ; “Operation: Mindcrime” ; “Eyes of a Stranger”

 


 

Special Thanks to my Dad: You’re one of my best friends in the entire world. Thank you so much for having faith in me, being there for me, and being one of the few people in the world who will have extensive conversations with me about past and modern music. Thank you for all of those times that you played your guitar for me as a kid. Thank you for introducing me to a new world through song. Most of all, thank you for being my dad. I love you.


 

– Mary

The Illusion of Hope: A Brief Analysis of the Justice League Trailer

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Possibly one of the most anticipated superhero movies of the decade, The Justice League has just released its second trailer and the world seems to be basking in its glory.

I, for one, did think that it was a solid trailer, one with an air about it that, surprisingly for a DCEU film, was not overly dark. Call me childish, but I personally don’t enjoy trailers — or films, for that matter — that like to smother people in all the “hidden darkness.” This is, however, exactly what I was expecting from a Justice League trailer, especially given Zack Snyder’s heavy involvement in the film. On top of that, I’m confused and slightly frustrated by Superman’s absence from the trailer, but have decided to forgive that for the time being.

Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised with the Guardians of the Galaxy/Suicide Squad-esque atmosphere of the trailer. It looked like a legitimate comic book film, one that is engaging and fun to watch, rather than a repeat of Batman v. Superman, which left people checking their watches to see when the plot-hole-ridden-snore-fest would finally end.

As of now, I’m particularly excited for Jason Momoa’s Aquaman and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg. Though they had less screen time than Ben Affleck’s Batman or Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, they left the largest impression on me.

Overall, the trailer looks promising.

However, this was my exact thought behind Suicide Squad and we all know how that turned out. From what we know about Zack Snyder, it’s clear that he cannot be trusted with handling a franchise with so much potential. The fact that he both wrote and directed this movie has me terrified. I’d hate to see another highly anticipated DCEU film fail due to poor writing and direction by a man with no place in the production process.

So, do I have hope? Absolutely.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not currently mentally preparing myself for disappointment.

 

– Mary

Invalid: Living with Mental Illness in the Higher Education System

Recently, the rate of mental illness (namely generalized anxiety disorder and clinical depression)  in young people has skyrocketed. College students  today are much more likely to show symptoms of mental illness  than previous generations. Statistically, 25% of college students suffer some form of mental illness.  In American  colleges specifically, 44%  have reported having depressive symptoms, while 75%  of them choose not to seek help. Perhaps most importantly, suicide is the third leading cause of death in college students and 80% of people who contemplate/attempt suicide show clear warning signs of self-destructive behavior. While we can’t narrow down exactly what is causing this epidemic, it is apparent that people — myself included — are suffering. Here is a brief description of my personal journey through college with severe depression and generalized anxiety.


1. Attendance Policies are a Living Nightmare

If you or anyone you know suffers from depression, you’re aware of the fact that, some days, you would honestly rather claw your own eyes out and eat them than get out of bed in the morning. You can’t explain it because it will never make any logical sense, but it feels like you’re absolutely numb, stuck in a rut. Motivation is nonexistent and apathy takes over your every waking thought.

Unless you also have anxiety. Then, it’s a matter of which one of your mental illnesses wins that day: the one that makes you care so little that you’d rather die that go to class, or the one that’s so terrified of failure that you feel like your heart will explode if you don’t attend and perform perfectly. How sad is that? Your everyday life is literally in the hands of two opposing disorders going to war inside your head.

But, anyway, the point is, even if you’re a brilliant student and have an ‘A’ performance in the class, you’re still at risk of failing because attendance is somehow more important than your health and your understanding of material. I have yet to fall behind enough in any of my courses to risk even a ‘C’, let alone failure, but that excuse is invalid. Maybe if I were to break my leg or get hit by a car or fall out of a window it would be acceptable, but wanting to slit my wrists isn’t good enough.

2. Being Isolated by Design and Still Upset About Loneliness

When you’re going through a depressive rut — sometimes it’s only a few hours, sometimes a few days, or, in my case, several months — you tend to isolate yourself from other people. In some cases, it’s because you just don’t want to deal with using the energy to socialize, but, in most of my experience, it’s more about not wanting to bring down the group. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said “Well, when you’re in a bad mood, we’re all in a bad mood,” or “You have to think about how you affect other people.”

This point is completely valid, I agree. You can’t only think of yourself. But it does cause a problem when you’re pushing guilt on someone who already probably suffers from self-esteem issues due to their mental illness. Personally, I struggle with intense self-hatred, o telling me that I’m making your life worse only makes me want to disappear that much more. To combat this, I tend to hide away or just become generally very quiet when I’m not feeling well. I don’t want anyone to be bummed out because I can’t seem to get happy.

But then they start wondering where you are and what’s wrong with you. I understand and appreciate their concern, but they’ll never fully understand why I can’t be around them when I’m like this. I don’t trust myself when my apathy is at it’s peak and I’m terrified by how mean I know I could probably be. But, to some people, this excuse is invalid. They always claim that they always enjoy your company just to seem like good people, but we all know it’s not true.

3. Absolutely Nothing is Under Control

Crying fits, panic attacks, sudden body tremors, headaches, constant fatigue and tiredness, apathy, insomnia, hypersomnia. These are just a few examples of the symptoms I experience on a daily basis. I can’t help any of this. These things randomly seem to attack even when there is no logical trigger.

I remember one time, a friend of mine was talking about politics. No big deal. We’re college kids and today’s political climate sucks. Of course we’re talking about it. But she was getting really heated and we disagreed on something. And, even after I had stopped talking altogether, she kept going for a solid five minutes without stopping. My hands started shaking, my head started hurting, my heart started pounding, I couldn’t feel my legs, I couldn’t catch my breath, I was dizzy. The next thing I knew, I was laying down, trying my hardest to just breathe. I was having a panic attack. For no logical reason. Try explaining that to someone who has been fortunate enough to avoid them throughout their life.

I can’t sleep. Nighttime is the worst time for me and I don’t know why. I have to take 20mg of Melatonin just to feel something. Half of the time, that doesn’t work. I lie awake, unable to get comfortable, for hours on end. On average, I go to bed around 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. Typically, I am unable to fall asleep until at lest 5:30. I have 9:00 a.m. class the next morning. Friends wonder why I can stay up so late and how I function on three hours or sleep or less most nights. I can’t explain it. I fell into this routine during my senior year of high school. It’s simply a part of my life now.

But when I get the chance to sleep in, boy do I sleep in. I can’t fall asleep quickly, but once I do, I’m not getting up. I usually wake up every two hours or so — sometimes due to my chronic back pain, sometimes due to nightmares, sometimes for no reason at all — and I continue this routine for as long as I can. Recently, sleeping until 4:00 p.m. on the weekends is normal.

I take frequent naps. My friends constantly tease me for how often I sleep, but I don’t know how to explain to them that I’m always tired and that I know it sounds ridiculous, but I can’t ever seem to get over this fatigue and tiredness that I constantly feel. My mind is constantly in overdrive and I feel like it’s overheating most of the time. Maybe that’s why I have so many headaches, but I don’t know.

4. Talking About it is Frowned Upon

Again, people love to constantly talking about how you’re ruining their good mood whenever you mention something regarding your mental illness. Hell, I’m suicidal. I have been for the past three months. I try to be open about it so no one is shocked when something happens — not necessarily something self-destructive, but anything that could be related to depression.

I’ve never wanted anyone to feel sorry for me, but that seems to be how people will likely view me, as that is how my friends and family viewed me for years. I’ve never wanted the attention. I know that so many people do claim mental illness for attention. I know that for many people, it really is a phase, so how could my family have known? I understand that, but that stigma has made it nearly impossible for anyone to take my illness seriously, even with my medication and medical diagnosis right in front of their face.

On top of that, everyone seems to go crazy if you say the word ‘suicidal.’ I’d like to break that stigma. The truth is, to anyone who is suicidal, while it’s not necessarily okay to feel this way, it is, at least for the time being, a part of who we are. It’s just as much as part of me as my hair color, my IQ, my weight, and so on. I should be aloud to say it just as you should be aloud to state your sexuality or preferred gender or whatever. It shouldn’t be met with all of these stares or people quickly changing the subject and moving on.

And it especially shouldn’t be met with the special voice. You know the one I’m talking about, right? The one where you know they’re just trying to be compassionate, but they’re actually being extremely condescending? I’m not made of glass. I appreciate you trying to be delicate with me, but I’d rather be greeted as “Depressed piece of crap,” or, you know, MY NAME, than anything too sweet with that super special voice.

But, of course, none of it matters. These excuses are invalid.

5. I No Longer Exist for Myself

I’ve said it a few times now, but people love to turn your mental illness into something about them. Period. Whether it’s “Well, don’t do anything because it would make me sad,” or “Don’t talk about it because that’s not fun for me to hear about,” or even the ever-so-frequent “Well, I understand because this one time I *insert-somewhat-related-anecdote-that-is-actually-a-method-of-getting-the-attention-back-to-me-through-potentially-compassionate-and-understanding-dialogue=here*.” This isn’t intentional. No one means to make things worse by saying any of these things, but it does. And confronting them about it is hard, especially when you’ve tried and they’ve never listened.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve casually mentioned suicide — oftentimes while not talking about myself in any way — and have been met with the timeless “It’s so selfish,” argument. You’re right, to a point. Suicide does hurt the people around you in your attempt to end the pain and move on. I’ve always talked myself out of it by saying “It’s the coward’s way out.” In ways, that’s true, and while I find this argument very valid, I’m curious as to why MY mental illness is only a problem when it concerns YOU.

People who are depressed or suicidal should focus on finding help to better their OWN lives, not everyone else’s. Since when did they start living for other people anyway? Of all the things you could say to them: “You have so much to live for,” or “But things will get better for you, they always do in time,” or even “Look at all the things you want to accomplish,” but people still always go for “Look what it will do to the people around you.”

What most people don’t understand is that half of depression — especially if properly paired with anxiety — is caring so much about other people that you hate yourself because you believe that your very existence is hurting them in some way. God knows this is my day to day life. I apologize for talking too loudly; I apologize for not talking at all; I apologize for sleeping; I apologize for being excited; I apologize for being apathetic; I apologize for being happy. I do this all because I am more concerned for other people than I ever have been for myself because I feel that I’m not worthy of my own love. This is my biggest struggle in day to day life, so telling my that me being this way is a problem for you is only adding to that. I truly cannot do anything right.

If the only thing you have to say to someone who is struggling is “It would be better for me if you -,” then you are basically saying that my life, my feelings, and my actions are invalid and will always come in second to you.

6. There is No Escape

No matter how hard you try to explain things to your superiors, no matter how much they seem to understand, it’s rare that they’ll ever fully accept any of this. It’s so much harder to tell the authenticity of mental illness and it’s symptoms than something as visible as a physical disability. That’s true. I hate it, but it’s the truth.

So, because of that, we’re going to suffer. Life will always be harder for us than it will for many other people. We know this, but it’s very hard to accept.

It’s hard to accept that college is, in this generation, pretty much a requirement if you want to enter the workforce and survive and stuff. But, with the way the education system is set up, it’s almost impossible for someone with severe depression and/or anxiety to get through the day, let alone four years. That’s why the college dropout rate is so high. So few universities are actually willing to work with a students crying fits or lack of sleep or random weight loss or inability to go to class everyday.

In my case, I’ve been told that withdrawing may be the best thing for me and that online school might be a better option, but even then, it’s going to be a major challenge for me. I’m not doing it (yet) because I go to an expensive school that my parents put a lot of money in to. They’ve told me that they wouldn’t be disappointed in me if I prioritized my heath, but I know they’re lying — at least partially. I love my parents and they love me and I know they’ve done their best to make sure I turned out okay. I also know that we don’t come from money and that they placed a massive amount of faith in me when they sent me off to such a school. I know they would love me no matter what and that they probably wouldn’t be angry with me, but they’d have to feel a little let down by all of this.

The point is, I want to survive in the real world and, because of that, I’m stuck in a situation that is only making my mental state worse by the day, but I don’t have a choice. Most careers I would go into would produce a very similar result. So many people feel this way and I know I speak for many when I say that we are, at least, according to our current perceptions, completely and utterly helpless.

That adds to all of the outside factors that make our minds function as destructively as they do, but that’s just another invalid excuse. Logic dictates that it’s not the end of the world, but that doesn’t stop us from feeling this way.

7. Not Even Doctors Take You Seriously

Better diet. More exercise. That’s somehow the answer to all of your problems if you ask a physician. Get out of the house more. Talk to people. Everything will be fine.

God, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that — from doctors, parents, teachers, counselors, friends, the internet, etc. — I’d have enough money to pay off my student loans. And trust me, that’s a lot of money.

But, you see, exercise isn’t my problem. Sure, I could definitely use a solid work-out routine and a few more greens in my diet, but that won’t make all of this go away. It’s not going to solve these problems. You know what I need? Medication. You know what a lot of people need? Medication. Why is medication such a dirty word now? Why do people think you’re a violent criminal if you’re taking pills every day? I don’t understand.

But, the fact of the matter is, doctors will always jump to diet and exercise because it’s the easy solution. For everything. Seriously. Go to the doctor for any ailment and they’ll probably start off with those two suggestions before actually evaluating you medically. Mental health is no exception. If anything, these excuses are used more frequently with mental health because you can’t effectively test for it. It’s so much harder to tell — and to treat, admittedly — than most physical illnesses.

So what do physicians do? Diet. Exercise. Because that’s the only solution, apparently.


If your depression/anxiety/mental illness is chronic — especially if it has genetic roots — I have bad news for you. You’re stuck. But you probably already knew that. You literally cannot get out of this no matter how hard you try. There is no cure. There is no winning. There’s only fighting.

But you have to fight. You have to fight for yourself, for your dreams, for all that untapped potential. You have a choice, but the right choice is always to keep fighting. It seems easier to give up, to run away when things get hard, but, no matter how hard they get, the best decision is always to move forward because, while your illness is permanent, your bad spells are temporary. It will never be easy to be alive, but it will be easier.

I know I sound like every loser, motivational speaker, or whatever  when I say this, but you are loved and your life is worth living. You have so much to live for and your world is so full of possibilities. You can’t let your mental illness win, no matter how hard it gets.

 

– Mary


 

National Suicide Hotline (USA): 1-800-273-8255

 


 

Sources: http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/college-students#2

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

https://www.drugrehab.com/co-occurring-disorder/students-mental-health/

 

 

Unpopular Opinion: Black Widow is Overrated

I know what you’re thinking: “How dare you say anything bad about Natasha Romanoff! She’s a feminist icon and all female superhero fans love her because she’s amazing!” While I won’t deny that, somehow, this character is very well-liked in the nerd girl community, I find that Natasha is, indeed, far from amazing and I wouldn’t dare refer to her as an icon. Let’s look at the facts, shall we?

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Natalia Alianovna Romanova, commonly referred to as “Natasha Romanoff” or “The Black Widow,” is a former Russian assassin trained in the infamous Red Room. Overall, she’s a badass with a seductive smile and a few charming one-liners. She’s beautiful, clever, and extremely skilled in both armed and unarmed combat.

Great.

And?

She can kill a dude with her thighs. Wonderful. You know who else can do that? Pretty much any other female character with any form of training in a superhero movie: Mystique, Mockingbird, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, the list goes on and on. So what makes The Black Widow so special?

Well, most people like to immediately point out her dark past. (Now, for the record, I know it’s much more complex  in the comic book world, but since most Natasha fans don’t actually have any knowledge of her comic book life outside of what some idiot said on tumblr, I’m focusing primarily on her current MCU story.) Natasha was trained from childhood to murder, obey orders, and show no mercy.

Cool.

You wanna know a secret? She’s not the only one. The Red Room trained dozens of assassins just like Natasha. Sure, we don’t see any of them on screen as of now, but why is it that she is, for some reason, a cut above the rest? On top of that, she’s not even that great of an assassin, if Captain America: The Winter Soldier was any  indication.

People like to argue that part of what makes Black Widow so interesting is the fact that she overcame her dark past to become a hero.

Okay.

So did everyone else.

If anyone tries to make an argument that Natasha is so special because she came out of a dark, villainous place and made herself a hero, I’ll point them to Mystique, Harley Quinn, The Winter Soldier, The Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man, Black Panther (if you count Team Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War as villains like I do), the entirety of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and countless other characters throughout both cinematic and comic book history. In fact, many of these characters changed their ways for legitimate reasons. You know, not just because Clint Barton was going to kill them otherwise. An argument could be made that Natasha eventually came around to heroic ideals, which is accurate. Her friendship with Steve Rogers and attachment to Nick Fury makes that obvious. But why? What caused her to change?

We don’t know. Because it doesn’t make any real sense.

Maybe it’s because she’s so suddenly in love with Bruce Banner that her entire world turned upside down, because that isn’t horribly stereotypical and misogynistic in any way. (Thanks, Joss Whedon) Maybe it’s because being exposed to heroes for so long made her miraculous see the error of her ways like it has for so many others. But we have no way of knowing, do we? Because she’s never explored as a character and shows no signs of development. Why is that, you may ask?

Because she’s so flat and two-dimensional, that she cannot exist outside of the “I’m-a-girl-and-I-can-kick-ass-and-am-funny-so-that-makes-me-great” stereotype. Sure, she is smart. She’s done many clever things and knows how to use her femininity to her advantage. I wouldn’t dare say that she is a character without purpose.

She’s just a character without substance or personality. I personally feel this way about her in comic book world as well, but that’s an argument for another day. The fact of the matter is, outside of the stereotypical “dark-and-brooding” past combined with the “I-can-fight,” stereotype, Natasha isn’t a character that I would consider real. If anything, she’s dull and a poor excuse for a female character in the genre.

“But Mary, what about her infertility? That’s gotta count for something, right?” Wrong. Why is it that the ability to have children has to play a role in every woman’s storyline anyway? That’s beside the point. The fact is, of all the things Natasha could have seen as her worst nightmare — being separated from her family, losing people she loved, killing dozens of innocent people, near-death experiences, etc. — she focuses on the most stereotypical female thing in the world: the fact that she can’t have kids. It’s tragic, truly. As someone who has also lost fertility, I understand. However, it doesn’t even compare to everything else that this character has been through, you know, the stuff that could have actually developed her somewhat as a genuine character.

Also, the fact that she had the nerve to compare that to turning into a giant green monster that kills innocent people without Bruce Banner’s consent is highly offensive and should have signaled from Bruce to run away instead of kissing her.

So, all in all, Natasha Romanoff is a sad character in the MCU that doesn’t deserve half of the love she gets. She doesn’t deserve the title of “icon” and certainly does not deserve the product placement she gets in place of Scarlet Witch.

You want a good female character in the MCU? Look at Wanda Maximoff, Peggy Carter, Bobbi Morse, Jessica Jones, and so on. Natasha Romanoff is not the end-all-be-all of feminist characters.

You want a good character with a redemption story arc? I have two words for you: Bucky Barnes. Of course, I’m biased since he’s my favorite comic book character, but that’s real redemption. That’s a real character with feelings that make sense.

And one thing is for sure: As a massive Winter Soldier fan, if the MCU so much as attempts to add WinterWidow — without massive changes to Tasha’s character, at least — into the movies, I’m going to be highly offended.

– Mary

The Top Five X-Men Movies

With the recent release of Logan, arguments are being made that 20th Century Fox needs to stick with this new trend of R-rated superhero films. While I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this, it’s safe to say that their films have significantly improved over the years — many of that being due to the fearlessness of the R-rated movies — but the fact of the matter is that X-Men movies are just fun. Anyway, here is my list of the top five films in the franchise.

 

5. X2: X-Men United (2003)

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Of the Original X-Men trilogy, X2: X-Men United is easily the best. The plot alone is more complex than the other two and it’s much less obnoxiously smothering — not to mention just poorly done (*cough cough* Dark Phoenix *cough cough*). X2 was also the introduction to Pyro, advancement in the ever-so-important relationship between William Stryker and Wolverine, and a strong introduction to Nightcrawler.

On top of that, X2 exhibited Magneto’s power when he used the iron in a man’s blood to carry out my favorite prison break in cinematic history.

 

4. X-Men: First Class (2011)

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This is my go-to movie whenever I’m feeling particularly bad (you know, it’s either this or Captain America: The First Avenger). X-Men first class was the first in the prequels and the only X-Men movie that can exist in both the first and second timelines, since the split didn’t occur until Days of Future Past. The film navigates fans through the origin stories of Charles Xavier, Erik Lensherr, and the X-Men as a team.

This movie is among my favorite due to the wonderful portrayal of young Charles and Erik. I’ve been a long-time lover of Magneto as a character, but Michael Fassbender’s portrayal added a new layer of development to him, helping to create a wonderful, very human character that calls for our sympathy. It also chronicles the friendship between Erik and Charles, something crucial to both of their stories and to the remainder of the series.

Also Kevin Bacon.

3. Deadpool (2016)

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I know, I know. How could I place Deadpool so low on the list? Shouldn’t he be at least at number two? Well, to answer your question, no. Deadpool was the beginning of R-rated superhero movies and, while it was brilliant, the overall story falls just short of the last two on my countdown.

Anyway, Deadpool was more than just a hilarious comedy staring the wonderful Ryan Reynolds, but it was a well-made piece of cinema. The story was easy to follow and the struggles were — at least in part — easy to relate to. We’re all at least a little bit insecure about how we look, and who wouldn’t be vindictive if some asshole named Francis showed up and ruined how pretty you once were? Wade’s insecurities and emotional journey didn’t slap you in the face, but it was definitely there.

2. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

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Of all the movies in the franchise that are centered around more than one character, X-Men: Days of Future Past is clearly the best. The plot is the most complex, yet still relatively easy to follow, and the journey was exciting. There wasn’t a boring moment in the entire film. Sure, it was another Wolverine and the Pips film, but it was brilliantly carried out with beautiful special effects and the introduction to a few amazing characters, no matter how brief their screen time.

Among my favorite aspects of this film is the wonderful portrayal of Charles Xavier and his struggle with his abilities. We often think of Charles as this sort of mutant Holy man who was always in control of his powers and always dedicated to helping people. We often forget that he’s only human and that his mind is in touch with the pain and emotions of pretty much everyone on the planet. It is important to understand how much he had to fight what seems like a mental health issue in order to rise above his own pain and make the world a better place.

Also, Evan Peter’s Quicksilver — though inappropriately named Peter Maximoff — was brilliant and one of the most fun sections of the entire film.

1. Logan (2017)

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There’s no disputing this one for me. Logan is not only one of the best made comic book films of all time, but one of the best films I’ve ever seen. I remember sitting in the theater and I really, really had to go to the bathroom, but I endured. There was not a single moment where I wasn’t on the edge of my seat and desperate to know what happened next. The action sequences were beautifully executed, though brutal, and the storyline was absolutely perfect.

This is, however, one of the most painful movies I’ve ever seen. I’ve dedicated much of my life to superhero films and the X-Men franchise was a massive portion of my childhood. Charles and Logan, though fictional, became like family to me. So (*Spoilers*) losing both of those character, especially in the brutal, heartbreaking manner that was portrayed on screen, was like losing my grandpa and my favorite uncle. It was the death of two major comic book icons that helped shape my life.

Then there was the wonderful portrayal of Laura Kinney, a.k.a. X-23. Needless to say, I can’t imagine a valid argument to put a single X-Men movie ahead of the cinematic masterpiece that is Logan.

– Mary

Winter is Here: Why “Game of Thrones” is one of the most relevant and real fantasy franchises of our time

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Game of Thrones, based on A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin,  is arguably among the greatest television shows of all time. The story line is highly complex, following a number of wonderfully built characters through their journeys in Westeros. For some, these quests are nothing more than desperate attempt to get home or even survive. For others, however, the primary focus is obtained the coveted Iron Throne.

Sound familiar?

While Martin’s works explore extremely mature plots in a world where dragons and white walkers wage war, there is a certain reality to these stories that I have yet to find in another work of fiction. I acknowledge that Martin’s goal in developing the wonderful world of Westeros was likely not to create a commentary on the global political environment, but there is no denying the tiny hint of truth that viewers can find in the series. It is easily one of the most relevant and important shows of our time and watching it has helped myself — and countless others — to better understand the world we live in.

Let’s start with the obvious. You can’t deny that the race for the Iron Throne nearly mirrors ever political race I know of. It’s important to understand that assassinations, affairs, and the exploitation of children are essential to being a highly successful politician. It’s crucial to draw parallels between House Lannister and the Clinton family — Think about it: unfaithful king usurped by a vindictive and dishonest queen who will do anything to get ahead —  or to see that you don’t necessarily have to be on the throne to be in charge — Littlefinger practically runs Westeros and he has yet to take the Iron Throne.

Now, I’m not saying that Hillary is hooking up with her brother on the side or pretending that using an illegal email serves even compares to setting wildfire to a sept and killing hundreds of innocent people, but understanding Cersei Lannister and predicting her movements could be key in deciding how a person feels about her. Seeing how easily Littlefinger manipulates his superiors is essential to understanding that it’s the people behind the scenes — not necessarily the ones you see on TV — that you need to look out for; more often than not, the representatives, much like Westerosi monarchs, are nothing more than expendable scapegoats to the political machine.

What is perhaps most important about my current understanding of Game of Thrones is that fact that it reinforced my trust issues. The show teaches us that you can’t trust anyone, especially those in power, and it makes it very obvious that, no matter how benevolent they appear, people can and will use you for their own personal gain. Politicians are corrupt, but we can only imagine the extent of their corruption when it is put in a fantastical circumstance. This needs to change. Should any of us have been even remotely surprised when we learned that the CIA has possibly assassinated people and treated it like an accident?

Maybe I’m just cynical, but the brilliance in Martin’s stories speaks for itself. The world is not what you think it is. The only difference is, in our world, we can’t count on a pretty blonde girl with dragons to save us from the evil lion lady.

 

– Mary