Why I Decided To Stop Watching ‘Gotham’

gotham blog post pic

Note: This is something a little new that I typically don’t do on this blog site, but I honestly couldn’t think of another site I have where I can publish this.

There have been a lot of articles written in the recent past by people who have decided to stop watching shows like Game Of Thrones.  This is normally because they feel convicted by certain things they’re seeing onscreen while watching the episodes (which, in the case of GOT, I’ve heard more than enough to know to stay as far away from that show as possible).  I’m going to explain why I’ve just recently decided to stop watching an ongoing show called Gotham.

To start off, for those of you who don’t know what Gotham is exactly, it is a show that airs on FOX that is set in Gotham City from the DC Universe.  It takes place long before Bruce Wayne becomes the Batman and is essentially meant to tell the origin stories of Batman’s greatest enemies like the Penguin and the Riddler (although technically, the Penguin becomes the Penguin, like, after the pilot episode, so yeah).  It is meant to show the state of Gotham City to emphasize why the city really needs a hero like Batman, and we’re seeing it all through the eyes of Detective Jim Gordon before his days as commissioner of the GCPD.

So with that, let’s get into the details.  For one, I’d like to point out that this show is TV-14, a stark difference from the TV-MA rating like Game of Thrones has.  Over the past few years however, I’ve learned that the TV-14 rating can, in many cases, be the equivalent of a light R rating from a film perspective.  In the case of this show, this would indeed have a light R rating if it was a movie.

This show has been going on for a season and a half now, and while the first season was fairly held back in terms of content with the exception of a few moments here and there, the second season has been one string of senselessly violent sequences that almost never ends.  Limbs are hacked off, people are stabbed repeatedly, blown up, and set on fire with shockingly very little censorship in the process.  The more graphic violence is off-screen just barely enough simply so that the show can maintain its TV-14 rating.  Some particularly gory moments in recent episodes (yes, spoilers technically ahead) is when the Penguin stabs a woman repeatedly in the chest as she screams (it’s behind a door with a shaded window, but we still see enough and hear enough to comprehend the terror of the moment), a cannibal who works as a hired assassin bites into a female officer’s neck and keeps tearing until she dies while her fellow officers are trying desperately to get him off of her, and a man’s arm is chopped off as punishment for something that I don’t really remember nor do I care to remember and we see the bloody stump where his arm used to be.  These are just to name a few.  Violence is something that remains a subject of deep debate regarding its role in storytelling and entertainment.  Sometimes violence can actually be used to great effect in a story to send an important message across.  Most of the violence in Gotham however, never feels like its there for anything except to be complete shock value.  A lot of times, there’s no point to it.  It’s easy to tell when violence in a show has meaning and when it’s just shock value, and the latter is what I’ve felt all the time with Gotham.  Yes, bad guys do bad things, but how many times do we have to see it happen before the writers feel like we’ve seen enough to get the point?  They haven’t reached that point yet apparently.

I understand the universe of Batman is a dark one, but remember Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy?  I remember very little blood in those movies.  In fact, Nolan was much more focused on telling a deep and sometimes thought-provoking story without the use of graphic violence to try and get the point across, and whenever there was violence, it was used sometimes in a pretty powerful way that prompted emotion.

Unfortunately, I’m not done.  The second thing about this show that’s made me decide to stop is its portrayal of women.  Most women in this show are either mentally insane, always getting abducted and can barely defend themselves, or are simply there to be eye candy.  While there are very few actual sex scenes and little nudity here,  enough bare skin can be seen to make me feel uncomfortable, especially being that it’s in a setting where the people are real.  Jim’s ex-girlfriend Barbara is a psychopath obsessed with getting married to Jim, but has no problem sleeping around with both men and women that are willing to have her.  One of the women she encounters is the sister of the current central villain, whose only motivation is to kill, and get jealous when she sees Barbara making out with her brother.  Most of the random women we see in the background are typically prostitutes or strippers, and the camera makes sure to take its time lingering on those poses. Again, there is no real value or meaning to this.  There are some women in my life that I consider to be fantastic and talented people, and I would honestly feel ashamed if they watched this show with me, so with that in consideration, neither do I feel that I should watch it.

Gotham is absolutely not nearly as terrible in terms of content as a show like Game of Thrones is, but it has enough for me to say ‘no’, and for good reason.  If you watch this show and you don’t feel convicted by it like I do, I’m not trying to discourage you from watching it.  Everybody has their own different set of convictions.  In my case, Gotham isn’t for me.  While a few good things stand out to me in this show like Sean Pertwee’s performance as Bruce’s beloved butler Alfred and Robin Lord Taylor’s performance as the Penguin, they still don’t justify the content.  Any morals that the writers try to insert into the show are drowned out by the content and even normally feels heavy-handed to begin with, as if they’re almost an afterthought to try and give this show heart.  Batman, I don’t care that you’re Batman, this show is not for me.

Autistic Guy Goes To Sunday Morning Mass For The First Time

MINISTER PRESENTS EUCHARIST DURING COMMUNION

 

I was spending the night at a friend’s house last weekend and had to go to Sunday morning mass with them at a Catholic church at 7:45 in the morning.  I decided it wouldn’t be so bad, in fact I thought it would be kind of neat because I would be able to witness a cultural thing that I haven’t really witnessed before and learn something from it.  Well let me tell you, I learned some things alright, but at the cost of practically embarrassing myself along the way because I wasn’t familiar with the church’s rituals and traditions.

First of all, interestingly enough, the mass was taking place in a gym that day.  Secondly, there was an awful lot of standing up and sitting down throughout the service.  There was chanting, most of the words I didn’t know, but I had somehow managed to follow along with most of the words.  I didn’t believe in the idea of just sitting there and being silent.  I felt it would’ve been most disrespectful if I didn’t at least go through the motions.  Odd looks from other people came to mind.  Thankfully, it got better when we started chanting the Lord’s Prayer, because that was something I knew by heart.  Things were starting to look up a little bit in the ‘playing along’ game.

Then Communion started.  The church does a ritual to bless the Communion so that the bread and wine would turn into the actual flesh and blood of Jesus.  Now, whether it belongs to Jesus or not, I’m not a big fan of the idea of eating someone’s flesh or drinking someone’s blood.  As each blessing was bestowed individually on the bread and wine, there was a musical chime of which I wasn’t sure where the source was.  I looked around trying to find someone who was responsible for the chimes but couldn’t see anybody.  My friend’s family explained to me that if I didn’t want to take Communion there, all I had to do when I was next in line was to cross my arms together and the Father would bless me, and that would be the end of it.  Well, I didn’t know the exact timing I was supposed to do that.

While in line for Communion, I was either looking down at the floor or looking to the left and right of me instead of observing the front of the line where I would get an idea of what to expect.  Once I walked up to the Father, who was holding the bread, I didn’t know that that was the time to cross my arms.  He stared at me intently and asked me if I receive the body of Christ.  I responded with ‘yes’.  He gave me a slightly odd look and asked the question again.  I responded again with ‘yes’.  I later found out that I was supposed to respond with ‘amen’.  The Father rather reluctantly gave me the wafer and started moving on towards the single goblet of wine.  The Father tapped me on the shoulder and told me that I was supposed to eat the wafer right now.  I immediately ate it then and apologized and went on to explain that this was my first time.  The Father at the time was more interested in continuing to pass out the bread.

Moving onto the goblet, I took it and sipped.  I walked back to my seat with my throat on fire and 90% of my interest in trying wine expelled.  Mass didn’t last much longer after that, and I was more concerned about the burning sensation in my throat, and I don’t think it was the fire of the Holy Spirit to be honest.

Still despite all this, I have to give the church points for how generously giving they are, as I noticed that the ‘free will offering’ jar had a lot of money in it, and the Father is a pretty nice guy as I got to speak with him briefly after the service.  Fortunately, he was very understanding of my lack of knowledge in how Communion went.

I think I really like my home church.

In Recognition Of World Suicide Prevention Day: Helping Someone Who Needs Help

candle

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, which given some of the things I’m passionate about, is like my kind of day.  I’ve wanted to write a post on suicide for a while now but wasn’t sure how to approach it.  Given what day it is though, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to bring the subject matter up.

It would be obvious for me to say that that suicide is a very serious thing, but I think even though many other people have said, I’m going to say it too, because I know it’s a serious thing myself. Having struggled with suicidal thoughts before and having known people who’ve attempted suicide (thankfully I don’t know anyone personally that actually succeeded in the act), I know a good portion of the pain that suicidal people go through.  It is such a hopeless feeling that needs attention.  Things like World Suicide Prevention Day gives me hope because it shows that people are aware of this serious issue and are doing everything they can to help.

According to the World Health Organization, 800,000 people die by suicide each year and is the third leading cause of death in the world for people who are 15-44 years old.  Depression is also the leading cause of disability worldwide, and according to the WHO, depression will outpace cancer, stroke, war, and accidents as the world’s leading cause of disability and death by 2030.  To me, this is enough information to motivate people to take action.

I spent a year living with family friends before moving back in with my parents so that I can live in a more ‘positive’ atmosphere until I move into my own apartment.  I went through depression ‘phases’, struggled with suicidal thoughts, and consistently thought of myself as worthless, and having absolutely no meaning or purpose on earth, even calling the Suicide Prevention Hotline at one point. Yeah, I’m a follower of Christ, but that doesn’t mean I’m invulnerable and it doesn’t mean I’m confident all the time.  You can believe in an all-powerful, all-loving God and still be plagued by depression.  I’m not afraid at all to admit that.

So what I can say to you readers about how to help people who need help?  I can share with you what to do based on my own experiences.  Experience brings us knowledge after all.

1. I’m going to boil it all down first to explaining a simple phrase: “It’s okay”.  Simply saying those two small words to someone makes a world of a difference to someone who’s hurting.  Not only does it show that you’re assuring someone that everything will be okay, you’re also assuring the person that you’re there for him, and that makes an impact too.  Most people who are depressed or suicidal typically feel alone in their struggles, and you have to let the person know that you’re there for him.  Saying ‘it’s okay’ also helps the person believe that the place he’s at in life is okay, and that he doesn’t need to strive to go higher right now.  I myself had to learn that where I’m at in life right now is where I’m supposed to be, and that more will come at the right time.

2. For Christians, do not take comforting a suicidal person as an opportunity to preach.  It is at this point in the person’s life where he’s questioning everything, so it’s very unlikely that he would just willingly and immediately accept the concept of a loving God.  Also, the person wants to know he’s loved by someone he can see (like you), not someone he can’t see or may not believe in right now.  Being with someone who’s depressed doesn’t need an elaborate speech or anything professional.  You’re just two people talking, and making one of them feel cared about and accepted. Keep it at that.  For me personally, someone can tell me that God loves me until he’s blue in the face while I’m going through a serious depression phase and it makes very little of an effect on me.  I just want to know the person is there for me, not trying to get God to do the job.

3. If you have to, take measures such as calling the Suicide Prevention Hotline or call 911 if you think the person is in a crisis.  Yes this has been said many times by many other people, but I feel this post wouldn’t be complete without this, so I’m saying it now.  If you’ve tried talking to the person and listing alternatives to help the person and the person only seems to be getting worse, call for help.  Having called the Hotline before, I know that they take their job very seriously, and will be more than willing to help.  Do it if that’s what needs to be done.

To finish off, I will be lighting a candle near a window tonight at 8 PM to honor World Suicide Prevention Day, and I encourage you to do the same.  Helping those who are depressed and suicidal is a passion that has a special place in my heart and will stay there probably for the rest of my life.

If you’re in a crisis or know someone who is, please call the Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255

The Power Of Uniqueness Over Feeling Like Something Is Wrong With You

self-confidence3

I really don’t know why I chose this picture, just roll with it.

Just the other day, I gave my diagnosis report to my parents to hold onto and basically keep away from me so that I can’t read it again.  I’ve already reread it over and over again.  To explain briefly, the diagnosis report stated that I was on the Autism Spectrum, as well as explained different things about me they figured out through the psych testing I did a few months ago.  Some of the things mentioned in the report had taken an emotional toll on me, because they were very negative, and it discouraged me and made me depressed.  It talked about my anxiety, depression, and the feelings of hopelessness that parades through my mind from time to time.  To make matters worse, I was reading those sections more times than I think my psychologist even expected me to.

I finally talked to my psychologist on the phone earlier this week to get some clarification on certain areas of the report that I didn’t quite understand, which meant revisiting the report.  Again.  The uncomfortable transition from one mood to the next (from positive to negative) made it crystal clear to me that it was a bad idea to keep looking at it.  So, after getting some feedback from a few friends and even getting the same advice from my therapist, I finally handed the report over to my parents to hold onto.  This doesn’t mean I’m ignoring what the report says and pretending that what the report says is not true about me.  It’s my way of making my own statement, which says: “that report doesn’t define me.  My own person is not what the report describes me to be”.

With so much focus on the negative listed on the report, it was becoming harder to focus on the positive things about me.  Also, I believe that some of the negative things about myself can be used for good somehow, but I wasn’t thinking about that aspect while reading and rereading the report.  I was only asking myself the question, “what’s wrong with me?”

Nothing’s wrong with me.  I’m human.  We all have our flaws.  We’re all born with traits that make us unique.  I would also like to point out the fact that as a believer in God and a follower of Christ, I need to focus on how God sees me.  If you yourself feel like something is wrong with you and that you have problems, remember that you’re unique and you’re special and, if you believe in God, you know that you’re loved by Him.

Nothing in the report should’ve surprised me, given that most of the information was stuff that I had suspected about myself for a while now anyway.  Yet somehow, seeing it all put down on a piece of paper was almost like a solid confirmation and it deeply affected me.  So I gave it away.  There’s no way that report should discourage me.  I’m special, unique, and loved.

Five Things To Expect In My Fiction Writing

Blog Post Photo

Every fiction writer has his or her own habits and traits when it comes to their own stories, and I’m no exception.  I have my own odd habits when I write stories and hobbies that inspire certain ideas for my stories, both in terms of original fiction and fanfiction.  Here are five things to know about my fiction writing.

1. When I’m trying to weave ideas together in my head, I listen to a particular song over and over and over and over again.  The lyrics and tone would remind me of a story I’m trying to figure out how to tell and it helps me zero in on that idea in my thoughts to flesh it out and put it down on paper effectively.  One song I’ve been listening to repeatedly lately is “How To Save A Life” by The Fray because of recent ideas forming in my head.

2. I don’t sugar-coat.  I write things exactly as they are.  Being a believer in God, many other Christ-followers would expect you to write stories that are free of most kinds of inappropriate content.  If you look at Christian movies like God’s Not Dead and Do You Believe?, they are typically free of most kinds of inappropriate content such as intense violence, sexual content, and language.  Most characters in my stories are not Christians to begin with, so I don’t expect them to behave like Christians would expect themselves to.  I don’t go over-the-top or graphic with content, but I do intend on being realistic.  To Save A Life would be a good example of a Christian movie that isn’t afraid to have some inappropriate content in it in order to serve the story and present its message.

3. I’m never afraid to kill characters off.  Maybe Lemony Snicket inspired that part of my writing in me, but know this: if you catch me listening to rap, I’m most likely thinking about killing off a particular character and the “fight scene” or incident when that unfortunate fate befalls the character.

4. I don’t believe in the “happily ever after” ending.  If I have a complex story to tell, the ending is not Disney-happy by any means.  Most of the time, I shoot for bittersweet endings, so that you can feel happy for the characters but also feel a little sad about the events that had transpired throughout the story and feel a sense of loss for the characters that had died (refer to #1).  I also don’t like ending stories that have a 100% sense of finality to them.  I like leaving a few things open-ended, not because I always want to write sequels (though in some cases that does happen), but because I want to let the reader know that the lives of the characters are still continuing on.

5. I don’t write to entertain.  I write to inform.  Sure my stories can definitely be entertaining, especially if the genre involved is something the reader really enjoys, but I don’t write stories simply for the purpose of entertaining someone.  It may be fiction, but I write stories to make people think.  I love philosophy and psychology, so issues of morality and consequences of actions are big themes in my stories, and they either have good outcomes or almost tragic outcomes depending what I believe is best for the story (and also depending on my current mood, I’ve been noticing that).  I don’t write to make the reader feel happy or sad or angry or anything.  I write to make the reader think, and any emotions the reader draws up as a result of his thinking is entirely based on his point of view.

Different Is Good, But Different Is Hard

self-acceptance

The last ten days or so has probably been one of the most painfully confusing times of my life.  Last Wednesday, I got my diagnosis report from going through psych testing a little over a month ago, and I realize now that reading all fourteen pages shortly before going to bed was probably not the best thing for me to do.

I have been diagnosed to be on the Autism Spectrum, on a high-functioning rate.  While this honestly didn’t come as much of a surprise to me or my family, it wasn’t easy for me to read the report.  For some reason, diagnosis reports are written in such a way that it sounds very dramatic.  Being that I’m a dramatic person myself, I took the “drama” of it pretty seriously, and some of the information in the report got me thinking which led to overthinking, which led to a lot of anxiety and in some cases, fear.  I already analyze myself more than enough as it is, so it wasn’t very pleasant at all to start doing it even more than I already do.  I went through mood swings and experienced a lot of emotional stress that affected the way I viewed myself and my purpose in life.  Hence why my previous blog post about having vision in my life was meant to be more for myself as a therapeutic practice than it was to be for anyone reading.

Multiple people have told me to not allow the report to define me for who I am, and to all those people you have my deepest thanks.  I knew pretty quickly that allowing that to happen wasn’t the way to go, but my mind takes a frustratingly long time to reach decisions, so it took me a while to get myself grounded in that.  I’m happy to say that I’m there now, but the journey to reach that point was difficult and stressful.  It’s not that I didn’t want to tell myself not to let the report define me, it’s that there was a part of me that was having a very hard time resisting the idea of defining myself in a very negative way.

I’ve always known that I’m different, and that I’m not like everyone else, and for some reason that was a hard truth for me to accept, but different is good.  It makes me unique and it makes you the reader unique.  Different is good, but different is also hard because we’re constantly pressured by the culture to be a certain way, which can cause us to wander off in directions that would be damaging for us.  I am me, and there’s no one else like me, and that makes me special.  I know I probably sound like a pretty insecure person, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I definitely can be, but I’m working my way up from that mindset.  God has a plan for me that involves my talents, some of which I may not even have discovered yet.  I guess if there’s anything I really want to “preach” in this article per se, I would tell you to accept the fact that you’re different and embrace that.  I’m sure that lesson has been used to the death, but given what’s been going on in the last week with me, that’s the lesson I want to give this week and that’s the lesson I’ve been learning myself.

The Importance Of Vision In My Life

Nature

Where there is no vision, the people perish – Proverbs 29:18a

Recently I’ve been thinking about my own view of the world.  I confess that I see the world as I’d like it to be, not the way it actually is.  I learned from past experience that if I look at the world exactly as it is, then I have no hope for myself or my future, and I end up spiraling down into a depression that eats away at me with very little mercy, because I see so little good through that perspective.  I’ve had to build fantasies in my head with positive ideas of what my future may hold, even if some of those ideas may look a bit unrealistic to a lot of other people.  They’re a comfort when I’m struggling to hold onto hope for my future.  I’m only twenty.  I like to think I’m going to live for eighty more years, and thinking that fills me with hope.

I’m fully aware that I may be lying to myself when I say I have eighty more years to live, but sometimes a lie like that is necessary for people like me to get through life with perseverance, hope, and feeling encouraged.

You have so much to enjoy and to be and to do” – Frodo from Return of the King

Everybody has these fantasy perceptions of the world, whether they’re aware of it or not.  Some are aware and some are not.  I’m one of those people who is aware and intentionally keeps it, because I know that it’s better than constantly seeing the world for what it actually is.  I can’t live like that, because I’ll never be able to feel relaxed or be without fear.  I would feel constantly overwhelmed, hopeless, and feel worthless.  I need a vision to live for, and whether or not that vision may be realistic of what my future truly holds, it’s important for me to have one.  And who knows, maybe my visions will actually come to pass.  It’s an exciting thought.

Last year I wrote a letter from the future, sent to me by a person I hope to meet some day, and it gave me hope.  It helped me continue on, and I still have it with me that I go back to once in a while.  It helps me to know that where I’m at in life right now isn’t where I’ll be forever, but I must be content with the fact that where I’m at in life right now is where I’m supposed to be and where God means for me to be.  Having dealt with depression before, I know how easy it is to lose hope, but I know that with effort and a desire to pursue my passions, I can eventually get to another place that God has already prepared for me and I will look back on this time now and realize that it was necessary to go through the things I’m going through right now.  I’m excited for my future, and with God having that future in His hands, I have every reason to be. Below is a dialogue exchange from Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick that I found to be very encouraging in continuing to move forward.

My life will get better?  You really believe that?”

It can, if you’re willing to do the work.”

What work?

Not letting the world destroy you.  That’s a daily battle.”

Narrowing The Scope To What Isn’t Always Seen

Crowd of people

This is the first time in a long time where something I was talking about with someone else became a topic I wanted to bring up in a blog post.  This morning, I was telling a friend that people should actually narrow their focus range.  What I mean by that is that they should focus more on the things going on in their own neighborhood then what’s happening behind the curtains of the government or the terrorism of ISIS.

Those are big things that I never really wanted to talk about on my blog, but I’ve mentioned them now so there’s really no going back.  Yes, I’m saying that a lot of people (even Christians) have their focus range way too wide and are more concerned about issues that they ultimately can’t control.  This makes sense though.  People are afraid of things that they have very little to no control over.  They share their opinions about these large things whether other people want to hear them or not, and they debate about them and write stories about them, but at the end of the day, where is it actually taking them?  People say we need to be “aware” of the issues they talk about or write news articles for.  While I agree that people should be aware to an extent (after all, it’s better than having your head completely stuck in the sand), I don’t believe it’s healthy to be hyperaware, as some people are. Regardless of what people think they’re doing by consistently sharing facts and opinions on ISIS for instance, it still invokes fear, and prevents people from having the motivation and the confidence in life, and it can burden them with constant stress and worry.  Believe me, I know this from personal experience.  I had to stop reading about ISIS altogether at one point because it was tearing me down with doubt and feelings of hopelessness, rather than building me up.

It’s one thing to talk about what’s going on out there, but if we can’t do anything about it, what exactly is the point?  People can talk and debate about government issues and the ISIS terrorists, but what exactly is the point if they’re not going to do anything about it?  Since these wider issues are things that we can’t really do anything about, why not narrow the scope so that we can pay attention to the things that we can do something about?

By narrowing the scope, I mean pay attention to the people around you who may need help.  When I went to Royal Family Kids, I was surrounded by abused and neglected foster children who live in the area that I live in, and it opened my eyes to something that I didn’t see before in my day-to-day routine.  It showed me that people who are hurting or need help are all around me.  We can see ISIS, and we can recognize political and economical problems, but we don’t always see what needs our attention when it walks right by us.  We need to open our eyes to the people around us that are hurting.  This really cuts deep to share this, but I myself have felt like that kind of person that needs attention.  I’ve walked down streets surrounded by other people and walked around in stores feeling torn down and depressed, with so much on my mind about my future and what’s going on in the present.  I’m not saying that you need to stop every person you come across and ask him if he’s okay, but I am saying that if you recognize that someone needs help or you feel that someone is having a very hard time, try to help that person in some way.  The way you help might be a small gesture, but it will make a world of a difference to the person.

Other issues around us can be related to school bullying and the people who are without homes or proper shelter.  We have the ability to donate to good causes meant to benefit different things around the world.  We can volunteer for causes in our area like food drives or even well builders.  Wells have been built in places like Africa thanks to donations.  This is to list a few things that we’re capable of changing that goes a little bigger.

As a last note, I personally want to help those who battle with depression and suicidal thoughts.  Depression can potentially come from having heard things in the news that is terrifying and discouraging.  I’ve been through that.  We need to be an encouragement to people, not explain to them more ways that the world can be a pretty scary place.