Monday, September 30, 2013

Teen Movies

You just don't see many teenagers in movies. In the normal movies, the ones by and for adults, we don't exist. At most, we'll get a cardboard character whose job is to Be Rebellious at the beginning and Be Reformed by the credits. But sometimes you'll get a movie with multiple teen characters. With real characteristics and motivations. The teen movie.
Here's wikipedia's list of teen movies from the last four years. I added a few they forgot, let me know if you can think of more.

Easy A-2010
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World-2010
The Virginity Hit-2010
I Am Number Four-2011
Turn Me On, Dammit!-2011
Little Birds-2011
Project X-2012
American Reunion-2012
21 Jump Street-2012
The Hunger Games-2012
Pitch Perfect-2012
The Perks of Being a Wallflower-2012
The First Time-2012
Ginger & Rosa-2012
Struck by Lightning-2013
Warm Bodies-2013
Beautiful Creatures-2013
Spring Breakers-2013
The Bling Ring-2013
The To Do List-2013
21 and Over-2013
The Philosophers-2013
The Way, Way Back-2013
The Spectacular Now-2013
Sea of Monsters-2013
City of Bones-2013
That Girl in Pinafore-2013

34 total. I'm surprised at how many I haven't heard of. 34 seems like a pretty good number until you realize just how many movies are made each year. The list includes indie and international films. A huge chunk of the original movies (the ones that weren't remakes or based on books) seem to be about sex. No, really. That's the entire plot. A girl loses her virginity. A boy throws a wild party and sleeps with a hot girl. A girl earns a reputation as the school's bad girl. 
No wonder teenagers get such a bad rap. 

You know, some of these movies managed to tell a good story without injecting sex scenes. They resort to tricks like "plot" and "character development". And they manage to stay below an R rating, which means we can actually watch them.

I'm sixteen. So far as I know, all of my friends are virgins. We don't spend Friday nights drinking and partying. When we throw a "party", it amounts to three people hanging out in someone's basement with Doritos and a board game. But that only happens once a month, if we're lucky. Most nights I cuddle up with my chemistry book. Maybe the movie industry thinks they've got some kind of gritty realism going on here. I don't see it.
Just look at those titles. The Virginity Hit. Turn Me On, Dammit. And 21 and Over? Really? How does that qualify as a teen show? I know most movies can't bother to find teenage actors. But if you're going to make a teen movie, at least make the character young. Oh, but then you'd have to cut out a few sex scenes. Silly child protection laws.
Yes, there are teenagers who are sexually active. Yes, some of us throw wild parties that draw the cops like moths to a flame. But some of us prefer to stay home and watch a good movie.
When we can find one.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Happy Banned Books Week!

I'm only going to talk about books I'm familiar with, but you can find an excellent list of banned books here. Most of the list-toppers are books aimed at teenagers and childrends, since we have moral guardians worried about our poor little souls. Huh. Maybe if they worried more about their own poor little souls, we wouldn't have a porn industry.
This first book shouldn't surprise anyone.
1. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
In 2010, it was banned for being 'sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violent'. By 2011, it somehow became 'anti-ethnic, anti-ethnic, insensitive, offensive language, occult/satanic, violence'.
 I'm not exactly sure how a dystopian society that hasn't heard of religion can know what satanic means.
Anti ethnic? What, because all the black characters died? So do all the white character. And the rich characters, and the poor characters, and the male characters, and the female characters and the old characters, and the young characters, and the smart characters, and the stupid characters...basically, if you're human, don't expect to survive the book.
And then they all died except for the cat.
The End!
Seriously, Buttercup was drowned in a barrel, infested with worms, survived two bombings, tossed in a sack like a hunk of meat, and treked who knows how many miles through the wilderness. If tributes had that many lives, the Hunger Games wouldn't be a problem.

2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

2009 reasons: religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
2010 reasons: religious viewpoint and violence
Religious viewpoint topped the list in both years. I live in Utah, so I can't help but find this hilarious. A few years back, Deseret Book, a chain of church owned bookstores, stopped carrying it. For just about every reason except religious viewpoint.
Mormons: "Don't read this book! It sensual! It's sexy! That makes it anti-Mormon!"
Rest of the World: "Don't read this book! Bella's a virgin! That makes it Mormon propaganda!"
Poor Bella. She's got enemies on both sides. I think I know the real reason people want this banned, but I don't see 'sparkle' on the list anywhere.

3. Thirteen Reason Why by Jay Asher

Made the top ten for the first time in 2012. Reasons: Drugs, alcohol, smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group.
I know, right? When I first picked up this book, I thought, "I bet Hannah commits suicide because she's sick of living a life of sunshine and rainbows! And I bet everyone she left behind is happy because of it! And the moral of this story will be Suicide Makes the World Go Round. Tra-la-la-la-la."
So, not the kind of book you read as you skip off to Candyland. But it is the kind of book that can pull you back from the brink of suicide because-news flash-it doesn't actually make your life better.

4. Scary Stories series by Alvin Shwartz

Oh, it's banned now? Could you tell that to my third grade teacher? I think she traumatized us all for life. It's a completely harmless book if you read it in broad daylight. But no, she had to shut off the lights and peer at the pages through a weak flashlight. And she had to do it in her special chair with the creaky footrest. When she reached the end, she'd let out a bloodcurdling scream. One time I covered my ears because I knew what was coming. She watched me until I took them away.
It hasn't made the list since 2006 (hey, my third grade year) when it was charged with "insensitivy, occult/Satanism, unsuited to age group, and violence."
I agree. These books are insensitive towards amputees. All the disembodied heads are portrayed as villains. Do you know how many good people have been decapitated in the course of human history? And what did the author have against cannibalism? Pick any powerful ancient empire. Cannibals, all of them.
That age group's probably sixty year old women.

5. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Banned in multiple years for occult/Satanism. Okay, people, I've tried those spells. They don't work. And the wizarding world? Either they're very good at hiding from muggles, or Rowling made the whole thing up. I had to write my OWN Hogwarts letter. And look what happens if you try to board the train.


So for your own health and safety, it's probably best to avoid taking these books too seriously. Looks for storylines instead of political and religious bias. Unless you're a zombie, wizard, vampire, or cat. In that case, you can do whatever you want. I'm powerless to stop you.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Things More Dangerous Than Internet

Caution: Subtlety ahead.
Every time my school has an assembly, we kick it off with a video informing us that Bullying Is Bad, Peer Pressure Is Bad, or Drugs Is Bad. They're brought to us by what I like to call the Dude That's Not Cool Committee. Today's moral was Internet Is Bad.
Our principal introduced "this special video on one of the biggest dangers of this generation: Internet."
What about chemical warfare? They have teenagers in Syria. Sure, thousands of children have died, but at least their dictator shut off twitter first. Wouldn't want to corrupt a generation.
Gives you carpal tunnel
Attacks your face with cat memes
Sparks debates about international controversy 
Deletes several hours of your life
Chemical Warfare:
Makes your body bloated
Attacks your face with poisonous gases
Sparks international controversy
Deletes your life

Ooh, and what about bullets? I think Bullets Is Bad and Cancer Is Bad and Starvation Is Bad and Fire Is Bad and Flooding Is Bad.
Today's Dude That's Not Cool Committee were a bunch of  "average" teens. Strangely enough, they didn't look like average teens. They looked like actors. Older ones. Prettier ones. But they couldn't act, so that idea's out. An adult, who looked pretty much like the rest of them, showed them how much information a stranger can learn about you in just six clicks.
He learned...that one of the girls liked My Little Pony. And she had dandruff. Another girl got diarrhea from a goat milk smoothie and one of the boys was cheating on his girlfriend.
Let that be a lesson to you, children! Don't cheat on your girlfriend with the same account. This could happen to you.
Internet safety is overhyped. When I was in elementary school, they warned about chat rooms and mini worlds like Club Penguin and Millsberry. Don't tell anyone your real name. Don't tell anyone your age. Don't tell anyone your gender. Don't tell anyone your nationality. It all made sense to me. Anonymity is part of the point there. But I can't convince myself those same arguments apply to social networking.
Let me explain the idea behind social networking. It's networking. And it's social.
This message brought to you by Captain Obvious. 
There's a reason married women use their maiden names on Facebook. There's a reason students put the name of their high schools. There's a reason entrepenuers post their company names. You want to network.
If you use fake names (like I did when I first got into it) your friends can't find you. Big Bad Kidnappers can't find you either, but how often does that happen?
Yes, we see it on the news. About once a year. That's because it's newsworthy. If a fourteen year old girl gets abducted, murdered, and thrown in a ditch by some creep she met online, she'll make headlines. If a twenty eight year old woman meets a guy on eHarmony, dates him, and then gets married, no one will care. Except for the Facebook friends who come to their wedding.
I don't think the Internet is dangerous. It's distracting, confusing, and filled with information you'll never need, but it's just a tool. It can only hurt you if you use it the wrong way.
Like an anvil.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Pace of Modern Life

If you've read this blog long enough, you know one of my pet ideas is that nothing much changes from generation to generation. Here are a few good quotes on the pace of "modern" life.
"There is a great tendency among the children of today to rebel against their parents, not only that placed upon them by the will of a parent, but against any restraint or limitation of what they consider their rights...this fact has filled well minded people with great apprehensions of the future."
Rev. Henry Hussman
The Authority of Parents, 1906

"Our modern family gathering, silent around the fire, each individual with his head buried in his favorite magazine, is somewhat the natural outcome of the banishment of colloquy from the school..."
The Journal of Education, volume 29
I looked up 'colloquy' and it means 'a conversational exchange'. In other words, schools crack down on chatting in class, the family unit is doomed.
Now we see at that picture and think it's cozy. We wish our family could be more like that. They look like educated, refined people. Except for that kid on the floor. He just looks bored.
Happy happy happy.
I don't know any modern families who want their children to talk more than read. Now the complaints are, "I can't get them to pick up a book!
I borrowed the quotes from xkcd. Read more here.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Difference Between Lightbulbs and Children

Yes, but will it take take care of you in your old age and show up to your funeral?

Here's a transcript if you can't get the video to work.
Like a child, this CREE LED bulb could be in your house for decades. Unlike a child, it will pay for itself and spend its life saving you money. And it will never pierce its tongue!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Oh Look, Another One of Those Lists

Every once in a while, I find an article about all the gosh-dang things kids these days just don't know. This little gem  claims people born after 1980 can't name the capital of France and don't know what a kilt is. This is backed up by a study from Kent State University, but the article doesn't bother with a link you can access without a university login.
I enjoyed this one because you can tell how much research the writer actually put into this. Here's my favorite part.
Inundated with technology and saturated with second-by-second media, today’s young people find history to be so yesterday. In 1980, the name of the man who iconically cried, “The British are coming!” was ranked as the 23rd most-known fact. Now it’s sunk to 53rd place.
P.S. It’s Paul Revere.
Other American history factoids that fell by the wayside include knowledge of the woman who sewed the first American flag (Betsy Ross). This question fell from 58th to 79th place. And Lieutenant Colonel George Custer lost the Battle of Little Bighorn. His ranking dwindled from 84th to 171st.  
Nobody actually knows who sewed the first American flag. We say Betsy Ross because she was Washington's seamstress, good a guess as any. And Paul Revere never said "The British are coming!" American History 101: In 1775, we were British. Only a third of colonists supported the revolution. If Revere had been that stupid, they would've told him, "What are you hollering about, Paul? We're already here. Now shut up and go to sleep!"
He said the Regulars, or English soldiers, were coming.
Oh, and apparently Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity. Uh huh. Just like Isaac Newton invented gravity. And Mark Zuckerberg created computers. I hope it's just this article. Surely Kent State has a history department somewhere.
Let's see, should I defend my generation now? Explanation #1: The exact same test was given in 1980 and 2012. These questions are the ones answered correctly less often. So other questions are being answered more often. We've learned something. But you can twist data how ever you want if it's your article. 
Explanation #2: We know our American history factoids.
 As someone who actually bothered to take U.S. History in eighth grade, I'm qualified to say this:


Does It Count? Well, What Does?

Sometimes I wonder what I'm doing here, curled up at my computer typing about ageism. Does anybody care? Yes, there are young people trying to push down the voting age. There are old people working for equality at the other end of the spectrum. But it's not a popular idea. You don't see ageism sob stories on the news. You never hear about rallies.
Maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe I should just shut up. Then yesterday I saw an article about Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes. You know, the ones made with condensed milk. Apparently that offends vegans enough to start a petition. And it's taken off.
Is this really necessary? Yes, it's an important belief for some people. Yes, it's an important health issue for some people. Yes, it's going to leave out people who can't have milk.
But you can make your own latte. Problem solved forever.
Does this really deserve a petition? Does it count as discrimination? If not, what does? I've heard people complain about prejudice for, let's see...

Hair Color
Hair length



Political Belief



If you don't get this picture, here's a song for you.



...and now food.
Let me know if you want anything else added to that list.
So which one of these should get the headlines and which ones should shut up and leave us normal people alone? The biggest minorities? The victims of hate crimes? The ones who whine the loudest? The ones who don't have a choice to be different, because that's just the way they were born?
I'm opposed to coffee too, it's against my religion, and if you try drink your pumpkin spice latte in front of me I. Won't Care. I thought this Starbucks crisis was the stupidest thing I'd heard in months. Go home and make your own latte.  But is food discrimination different than ageism? Or sexism? Or anti-goth prejudice?
No one has any right. It's all a matter of finding a soapbox to climb on and seeing who will stand with you. So long as people complain their anti-vegan coffee, I'll be here to talk about ageism.
Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. But you''re not entitled to anyone else's.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


My mom and I went to see Austenland this week. It’s an indie movie, so it’s not playing everywhere, but if you can find it I recommend it. We got there a few minutes into the previews, but it was also dinner time, so we ordered food first. After several minutes, my mom told me to go into the theater while she waited on our sandwiches.
So I walked towards the ticket taker. The moment she saw me, she said, "You're in One Direction, theater 20." Then I handed her my ticket. "Nope, you're in Austenland, theater 18."
At first I thought it was funny. "Ha, take that, ticket woman! I don't fit into your stereotypical teenage molds! I watch classy movies!" I still think it's funny. But the more I thought about her assumption, the less I liked it. I've never had the ticket taker guess my movie before. There were 25 films playing. I could've been going to anything. Yes, the One Direction documentary is a teen movie. But so is City of Bones. So is Sea of Monsters.
Sea of Monsters

City of Bones

Wait, why am I captioning these? They have words.

And I'm not just a teenager. I'm a girl, so I watch chick flicks. I'm a Percy Jackson fan, so I watch Sea of Monsters. I'm a Pixar fan, so I watch Monster University. I'm a Shannon Hale fan, so I watch Austenland.
Shannon Hale is a New York Times Bestselling Author. She writes YA, or young adult. I highly recommend everything she’s written.
Austenland was her fifth book, the first one made specifically for adults. It’s not aimed at teenagers. All the actors in the movie are adults. Even when they flashback to Jane’s high school days, they don’t use a teenager. They smear make up on Keri Russell’s thirty seven year old face and expect we won’t know the difference.
But Hale’s still a YA author. So is Austenland’s executive producer. There’s plenty here that “appeals” to a teenage audience, but I don’t care about appeal. I’ll watch my kiddie movies and my adults movies and my teen movies, when Hollywood bothers to make them. I don't care what anyone in the movie industry thinks. Any movie can be my movie.
And there's nothing wrong with One Direction either.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's Never the Victim's Fault

Today I'm not going to shy away from a serious topic. If you're easily disturbed or offended, leave. I won't care.

Mr. Hall  was the first male teacher I ever knew. He taught first grade, a nice guy, from what I remember. I didn't have him, but sometimes we'd rotate classes and he'd teach us about clouds or show us how to act out a skit. One year later, he got an award from the governor for excellency in education. The whole school came down to the auditorium to clap as he received it.
Three years later, they found out he was a pedophile. Hall had taken multiple girls into the storage room connected to his class and sexually assaulted them. Finally, one of them worked up the courage to tell.
It was a huge deal. They brought police officers into every single class to talk about safety. We had awareness assemblies. The TV news people swarmed in for the story.
He was 37.
His victims were 6, maybe 7.
Fast forward to last year. Ms. Jarrell taught math and coached the girls' basketball team before they arrested her. There were no assemblies. No special talks from police officers. I found out about it when I googled my school to check my grades a few days later.
She was 22.
Her victim was 17.
I got most of my information through the school grapevine. But I did find a few articles online. As usual, I scrolled down to the comments to see what the readers thought. I knew what I would find. They would be devastated. People would complain about the educational system in general and our school in particular.
That's not what I found.
Here's a comment that got four likes:
The heart wants what the heart wants....PLUS there is a lot of reasonable doubt here AND the 17 year old already stated she was a willing participant who can legally consent to have sex here in Utah. Apparently she did not actually break the law...just the spirit of the law.. She has already lost her job and now needs to move on. There is not enough evidence to convict her of a crime...just a poor decision. Get over it...
There were several other comments from jealous lesbians wondering where these sort of teachers were during their high school years.
Now a judge in Montana has sentenced a former high school teacher to 30 days in jail for rape.
He was 54.
His victim was 14.
When she was alive, anyways. Now she's 17 and dead. Suicide.
You can get six years in jail for killing a cat, because animal cruelty is just wrong.

On Wednesday, Baugh apologized in a letter to the Billings Gazette newspaper, conceding his words were "demeaning of all women." He also said that while a 14-year-old "obviously" cannot consent, "I think that people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape.… It was horrible enough as it is just given her age, but it wasn't this forcible beat-up rape.
-Judge G. Todd Bough, as quoted in the LA times

He also describes this poor girl as a "troubled youth". That doesn't make her responsible. The victim is never responsible. Not if the age gap is 30 or 40 or 5. A teacher should never use their influence to force a student into a relationship. It's not love. Rape is rape.
Should these girls "move on"?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor-1895 to Today

According to wikipedia, Labor Day is "a celebration of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.
But really, we just party.
Hey, beats being in school.

And it beats working.

Thanks to the men, women, and children from the 1895 Pullman Railroad Strike. We got today off because of them.
Happy Labor Day everyone!

But you're not looking at this on Labor Day, are you, because Internet traffic slows down on weekends and holidays? You're looking at this three months in the future. Maybe you're at work. Or school.
Oh well. Happy Labor Day to me.