A #Haiku on #NetNeutrality. #OpenInternet #poem #amwriting #writerslife

24178129_161756431093066_6913219805348626432_Originally posted on my Instagram.

 

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Why I’m Team Captain America

I’m about to wade into the second most polarizing issue of this year and throw my allegiance into the ring. I’m Team Captain America, for reasons that have nothing to do with the Superhuman Registration Act. And one that does.

1: Paul Rudd

Ant-Man was always a fascinating idea, but brought to life by Paul Rudd, he was hands-down one of the best heroes I’ve seen on the big screen. He’s funny. He’s charming. He’s a good dad (arguably). And, he openly acknowledges that he doesn’t want to be a hero. Even at the end of the titular film, he clearly just wants to be a dad–but America needs him more than his daughter.

2: Scarlet Witch

As the only remaining mutant in the Marvel cinematic universe, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) is standing on a pedestal. Not only does she have a connection to the mind gem, one of the infinity stones that will be the central point of the Infinity Wars, but there are going to be major scars from that time she brainwashed everyone and ruined their lives. That’s going to get interesting.

3: Bloodlust

The trailers already show Bucky (The Winter Soldier) attempting to shoot Tony Stark (Iron Man) between the eyes, but the repeat of Captain America’s “C’mon, I could do this all day” line suggests that he’s losing the fight against Iron Man–and that he expects to die, or at least go down fighting. Will Stark kill his ex-best friend? …No, obviously not. But he’s going to think about it, and I want to see him try to apologize for the whole almost-murder thing.

4: Avengers sans Whedon

As a long-time fan of Joss Whedon (Thanks to Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog), I was looking forward to The Avengers from day one. Then the two movies came out, and they were awesome. Now, without him? I’m going to be a very strict (but not harsh!) critic.

5: The Registration Act

Like I said, one was the Act. Why do I care? Because where is the line? Would Dr. Strange, one of my all-time favorite characters, have to register? He’s not really superhuman, if you think about the fact that the chakra system and spiritual power is accessible to anyone. What about Vision? Does he even count as human? And, The Hulk definitely isn’t human, while Bruce Banner is only a human until he transforms.

That last one can be debated, but still, someone with an eidetic memory could potentially be forced to register. While Sheldon Cooper isn’t about to level New York, would you–would anyone–really be okay forcing innocent citizens to submit to such control?

I sure as hell wouldn’t. #CaptainAmerica #TeamRudd

The Most Dangerous Job in the World, repost

Hello, friends,

I stumbled across this excellent piece of commentary on the nature of reading, writing, and having an opinion. I see both sides of the issue being discussed, but wholly agree that one shouldn’t be attacked for a draft of an idea. That’s why we revise.

The skinny of it is that writer Jon Ronson was called out on twitter for a line in a galley proof that one reviewer felt was demeaning to rape victims. Rather than confront the author directly (which is one of the points of the galley stage), this was handled over social media. I see both sides, of course: his comment did overlook the sense of personal and sexual violation that accompanies rape, but there is immense pressure for men to be the breadwinners, even today.

That doesn’t mean getting fired is like getting raped. The latter is significantly worse than the former.

Personally, I feel grievances like this should be calmly addressed with the writer before public attacks begin, if the comment isn’t in the public sphere. Most people are sane and level-headed. If you say, “Excuse me, but this line is offensive,” odds are, they’ll do their best to handle it. Most people mean well.

Of course, I acknowledge this isn’t always the case. Some writers do feel privileged to say whatever they want and damn those who don’t like it, but I can’t offer a solution to that–it should be handled case-by-case.

I’d love to hear thoughts on this below.

Best wishes,

Kevin

The Most Dangerous Job in the World.

Banned Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale, Censorship, and Feminism (#heforshe)

Hello Travelers,

Here’s a quick review of a classic banned book, as well as my thoughts on why it should not be banned and a note on why we must talk about these topics. I encourage you all to comment, whether you want to talk about my thoughts or the issues overall. Whether or not you do, I wish you the best.

Peace and love,

Kevin

***

People love censorship almost as much as they claim to hate it. There are plenty of examples to make this case, such as 1984, but Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is among the most interesting, as the censored subject is not art, language, or religion, but the human body. This book has been banned for discussing suicide (and in some cases, characters commit said act), government-sanctioned murder, and rape, all of which are understandably difficult to discuss in schools.

Told from Offred’s perspective, the reader is thrust headlong into the Republic of Gilead, a theocracy in a dystopian world where sterility has crippled the population. Men are given the positions of power, ranging from security guard (Angels) to leaders, such as the Commander. Women are divided into: Wives, who are legally bound to their men, as in contemporary marriage; Marthas, who perform home care and routine chores; Aunts, who run the schools and govern the Handmaids; and the Handmaids, who are fertile women sent to breed with ‘healthy’ (powerful and wealthy) men.

The story slowly builds the sense of cataclysmic oppression, bringing in details on how Gilead formed—seemingly overnight as women were fired across the east coast of the United States, had their bank accounts frozen, and in many cases, were kidnapped. Political dissidents and ‘useless’ women were sent to The Colonies, a wasteland where they’d presumably starve and die. The Handmaids, constrained by the Aunts and the strict, Biblical laws, are put through ‘training,’ which amounts to psychological torture, as seen with Janine.

This particular Handmaid confesses early on that she was raped as a teenager and got an abortion afterward (no doubt another reason this book has been banned). Rather than empathize or try to comfort her, the Aunts condemn her and make the Handmaids-in-training chant that it was her fault. She breaks down in tears but is subjected to this repeatedly, until eventually the Aunts pick a new victim.

The main story follows Offred’s assignment to ‘The Commander’ and his wife, Serena Joy, a former singer who, on numerous occasions, is hostile toward her husband’s breeding partner. This is especially complicated by the breeding ritual, wherein the Handmaid must lie with her head between the Wife’s leg, resting on her pubic bone. All parties remain fully clothed during this (aside from the Handmaid hiking up her dress), indicating how mechanical and loveless the process has become.

There are many compelling reasons to check this out from your local library or, ideally, buy, read, and have on your shelf for future perusal. For one, the first-person narration is done wonderfully, giving a direct insight to this hazardous future. Offred’s voice is insightful, remaining strong in the face on constant attacks against her and women in general, and even as she contemplates suicide, it’s clear she’s only striving for control in a world where women have been stripped of all rights.

The suppression extends to their wardrobe as well, as referenced above in noting the censoring of the human body. Handmaids are forced to wear ankle-length red dresses and ‘wings,’ white caps that prevent them from seeing to the sides, like blinkers, which do the same for horses. Japanese tourists smile and take pictures of these women, further marginalizing and objectifying them.

Throughout, the language and structure of the book is such that as horrifying as it can be to view humans degraded in such ways (and I didn’t even touch on the brothel), there is an entrancing quality to the book. Offred is presented humanly, perhaps as the only human in an inhuman world, and this makes each atrocity hit home a little harder than the last.

This book can be challenging for adults to discuss with other adults. It explores depths of depravity that are only seen on the fringes of contemporary culture, paralleling mail-order brides and human trafficking as well as the diminished status many women face today in America as well as around the world.

I maintain that the difficulty people face when addressing these topics is precisely why we should be discussing them in school. Why let youths handle such difficult topics on their own? Studies suggest that one in six American women are rape victims, with 44% being under the age of 18.3. That means one in twelve high school aged females has been raped, or roughly one victim in every single class. This is unacceptable.

But don’t pretend kids won’t be aware of these topics just because we take a book off their shelves.

Today, more so than ever, we must open a dialogue on these topics. In an internet-based global society where ideas can cross thousands of miles in seconds, all citizens must be aware of and able to discuss these topics. To do otherwise—to choose ignorance, shut out all trace of these ideas, and pretend they won’t happen if we don’t talk about them—will only allow them to continue.