I have barely gone to the movie theater in 2017, but there was one movie I saw the trailer for several months prior to its release, I just knew I wasn’t going to miss. Gifted starring Chris Evans, McKenna Grace, and also included Jenny Slate, Octavia Spencer, and Lindsay Duncan in this incredible cast. I tend to go to the movies by myself, but this one I saw with my parents, and it was great to know I wasn’t the only one that went through several tissues during this drama. McKenna Grace plays Mary, a spunky, spirited, brilliant little girl being raised by her Uncle Frank (Chris Evans) in Florida. Frank unfortunately gets into a custody battle with his mother, but it’s not any usual custody battle – Evelyn wants Mary because she’s basically a child prodigy and she wants to exploit her abilities. Jenny Slate plays Bonnie, Mary’s teacher who recognizes her unmistakable talent, but also gets Frank’s desires for Mary to have as normal a childhood as possible. The film is just beautifully done. You can tell that the cast seriously bonded with one another, and the chemistry is so palpable, I forgot that all of these characters aren’t related to one another in real life. (Isn’t that the goal of a film – make the whole story undoubtedly real?) I really loved the message in this story too. Frank so badly wanted Mary to really get the chance to be a kid. I won’t ruin the story, but it explores plenty of themes – the value of family, finding balance in life, figuring out ways to acknowledge a gift but not make life ever be about only one thing. The soundtrack was amazing, the cast was astonishingly talented, the story was beautiful and it’s funny but some of the parts that made me sob in the theater weren’t even “sad” they were just so incredibly touching. I laughed, I cried, I got mad at characters, I thought about relationships and life, and the little things. I know I haven’t recommended a movie in a while, but if there’s one you’re going to add to your To Watch list, this should be it. The cast deserve some major awards for these performances!
I woke up last weekend, and honestly thought it was an April Fool’s Joke that our current president spoke of April as “National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.” On the WhiteHouse.gov website, the opening paragraph of the proclamation reads: “At the heart of our country is the emphatic belief that every person has unique and infinite value. We dedicate each April to raising awareness about sexual abuse and recommitting ourselves to fighting it. Women, children, and men have inherent dignity that should never be violated.” Nice sentiment and all, but this is coming from a man who has proudly bragged about assaulting women, degrading them, and is completely void of respect. How is that for awareness? It disgusts me what we deal with as a society, the standards that have been set, that people try and find ways to blame victims for what happened to them. (IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.)
If I sound angry, it’s because I am. Why are conversations continuously steered towards what someone is wearing when they are assaulted? Or if they were drinking? Or if they flirted with someone? Agreeing to go on a date with someone, does not mean you “owe them” sexual favors. None of these are an invitation to have your space and body violated.
It takes a brave person to share their personal experiences, and sometimes through this we realize that more people than you might’ve originally thought, can relate. In an effort to continue educating people, watch this video put together by the It’s On Us campaign that highlights even just how we need to change our conversations about this.
It’s important for victims to know this is never their fault, and they are not alone. If you or a friend needs to talk to someone about this, the National Sexual Assault Hotline # is 1-800-656-HOPE or visit notalone.gov
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but NBC’s Superstore is so worth mentioning again. Remember my post about the importance of finding things that make us laugh? The value of comic relief? Superstore hits the nail on the head. I can’t even tell you how many times I laugh until there are tears in my eyes during one episode. On multiple occasions I’ve realized I’m still laughing when it’s segued into commercial. The comedy show is brought to you by the geniuses behind The Office. Last night’s Valentine’s episode was just the amount of laughter my week had been missing. It’s actually available on NBC’s website, now. If you’re not already a fan of this show and you could use some laughter in your life (who can’t?) I highly recommend checking it out! The show features an eclectic group of people working at a major chain store. Hilarity ensues whether it’s an HR meeting, making a playground out of the inventory room, off-limits romantic sparks between coworkers, a little bit of everything. Sometimes, it might seem so off the wall that it’s unbelievable, but that’s just it – at the bottom of everything it’s insanely realistic. Here’s a trailer I found on YouTube because even if you don’t have time to watch a whole episode right now, this might make you giggle.
I don’t know about my readers, but personally – I am profoundly disturbed by current events over here in America. On so many levels. Every day feels like I wake up with baited breath to see what new disgusting news report there is to read about what happened while a lot of us were sleeping. Unfortunately, some of the time I’m awake in the middle of the night and I see it. (I decided to do something (that felt) productive with those insomniac hours and signed petitions, and called survey lines, and sent my words of displeasure to our senators. Stay informed.) Anyway, I think we have an obligation and duty as citizens to pay attention to what’s happening right now, to speak out when something is wrong (there’s a difference in disagreeing with someone about something, and lies, hate, and an attempt to silence people and stop the spread of fact-based information.) Who knew that in 2017 we would be waking up to “alternative facts” – we cannot let this become the “new normal” in this strange, bizarre alternate reality we’ve found ourselves in – which is unfortunately the only reality we have. Let’s call alternative facts what they really are by the way: LIES.
Okay, enough of my rant – my point of today’s post is that while we need to stay informed, and not turn our heads because the absurdity is overwhelming, I wholeheartedly believe we also need to give ourselves breaks from this as well. (Would we not lose our minds if we didn’t?) For me the main outlets that comes from, other than conversation, and getting together with friends when I can? Reading, music, movies, and finding material that makes me laugh. I fell asleep listening to the Arctic Monkeys the other night, after I watched a few episodes of re-runs of The Office and Parks and Rec. Both of these shows make me laugh until my eyes tear up. They’re witty, they’re well-written, the acting is fantastic, and they’re real. The laughter is a temporary escape, but a healthy one.
You know who else makes me laugh? Aziz Ansari. Whether it’s in his own show, Master of None or on Parks and Rec, or watching his standup comedy, or reading Modern Romance, or listening to a podcast he’s featured on he always makes me laugh. Not only is Ansari hilarious, but he’s brilliant. I think some people underestimate him, but read a chapter of his book and tell me otherwise.
Last weekend Aziz Ansari hosted SNL for the first time. The opening dialogue was insightful, but humorous. I think we can agree that sometimes, you have to laugh so you don’t cry. Like always, Ansari had me in stitches. See the clip below, and if not that – at least check out his book, or other work- I hope his brings you as much enjoyment as it’s brought me.