The Truth About my PTSD Excuse

For many of my quirks and discomforts, I use a recycled excuse. Being raised in a cult and soonafter running away from that, living with a sociopath, I say that I have a sort of PTSD from those super intense experiences. But, much of the time, I say those things rather than saying how I really feel in the moment. That guy I’ve told you about, my old landlord, had some terrifying perspectives on people, he wanted to nuke the downtown area because he felt that people who did drugs and who commit crimes are trash. Barring the fact that many law-abiding citizens spend time downtown and the fact that I am one such citizen, I think it is horrifically problematic to want to wipe out some people because of the few. Today, I shared with some friends who were showing me a movie about two people who decided to go on a killing spree of those they consider idiots, that I have PTSD because of the guy to whom I used to pay rent. But that is not really why such premises in movies give me such discomfort. I absolutely hate watching needless violence. It is why I do not ordinarily watch horror movies and it is why up until about ten years ago, I would not even watch action movies. I feel strongly that life is precious, and despite my frustration with religion, I do not see any life as without purpose.

I understand the point that is being made. People want to blaim religious zealots, reality TV show stars, rednecks and so many other stereotypes for our problems. They consider them the idiots, the disgusting ignorance that so plagues this world, and some suggest that society would be better off without them. Honestly, religious people these days drive me nuts! They have so many perspectives that prevent society from moving forward, they insist on their way without even considering they could ever be wrong. Admittedly, I have despised being around Christians. I have been disgusted with those who seem without kindness. But, what I have felt for years now is that everyone has a story. A bratty television star may someday grow up and figure out life does not revolve around her. Or maybe she will stay as bratty as ever, her parents enabling her forever. Just because she is cruel at school or entitled that does not mean she deserves to die. I guess I just feel it is a slippery slope. I have lived the life of those who society calls “idiots” and many of them mean well. I know I did. I have been the chosen one in many situations and then, almost immediately, the enemy of those same people. That landlord guy originally thought I was badass, intelligent, and had a very very good head on my shoulders. But, time and time again, I have discovered that that kind of prowess in society doesn’t last. One day you are on the side of the intelligent, the next you are the hunted idiot by someone with a finer intellect. I have learned over time that intelligence tends to be relative. You may feel that you are better and more educated than the masses, but there is always somebody else who has more experience and who would corral you in with the rest of society’s mindless cattle in a heartbeat.

Perhaps it is my Christian upbringing that gives me this feeling that everyone should be given attention and care. I was once involved in feeding the homeless, empowering survivors of sex trafficking, being a sounding board for the misunderstood. These are the things about which I am passionate. I just think people of all kinds need to be heard and cared for rather than preached at. Those who are cruel are cruel due to their own insecurities. The times in my life that I have myself been cruel to others, I can definitely chalk up to my own insecurities. They were never out to get me, they are not hopelessly lost, evil people who will never learn to be good. They are complex, nuanced human beings. Slasher films and films about vigilante killers take these individual lives and just cut them down without a thought. The concept that someone can just grab and gun down or whatever the hell and just kill people because of how they perceive them, because they do not like them, is absolutely terrifying, disturbing and fundamentally wrong. Where does it end?

If the vigilante were a fundamentalist Christian who felt society was evil and maybe that God was calling them to purge society of its problems, they would target Hollywood, they would take out the media who dares to question God. They would attack the sexually impure which means they would attack me and my boyfriend. My roommate and her boyfriend. My coworker and her boyfriend. We all are just facing life the way that it makes the most sense to us. Hollywood is not out to destroy Christian values. It is made up of so many people who grew up in the church and who are thinking differently now. Just like me. If a vigilante wanted to get rid of the worst people in society, who would he target? I guess it would depend on perspective, his background and the way he sees the world. From where I am standing, there are plenty of reasons to have faith in the world and in its propensity for goodness.

With this election, it is tempting to blame society’s idiocy. But both sides are saying the same thing about the other’s candidate. The political terrain has split and many are discussing civil war, It is frustrating because to me it seems obvious who is more qualified. But there are many who disagree with me. They are in my workplace, my school, even in my family. Many call these people idiots. I see why, but I also understand their fear, because, as I said before, I have been in their shoes. Society’s true worsts are con-artists, rapists, bigots, hypocrites. But, murder is not the answer. They may never let us reason with them, but murder would destroy what we could potentially accomplish without cheating. We may never agree, but civil war and vigilante justice will solve nothing.

Renewed Fervor for Media!

When I started this blog, I did not start it to grapple with my own issues and background as much as for recognizing the good in media. It is so frustrating sometimes to listen to the tidal wave of hate against Hollywood, calling movies a ‘cash grab’ or a ‘quick buck’. Everyday people doing their jobs to make money just like we do, except, often, what they do for work affects how we see the world. Hollywood, the way I see it, has always striven for a better standard of behavior, especially as far as treating people. Personal actor problems such as: parties, drugs, and feuds aside, the primary message of the fictions played out for us by Hollywood stars seem to be tolerance, kindness, integration. Continue reading

Beyond the Mask: A Surprisingly Refreshing Perspective

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Spanning across continents, set in the Revolutionary War era, Beyond the Mask impressed me with its not-too-preachy message of redemption, its strong and beautiful romance amidst consistent action and its astounding effects and sets (for a $1 million budget.)

I stumbled upon it this afternoon when a friend wanted to go see a movie. I have recently seen four movies currently in theaters so I mentioned this one. After looking at reviews, we decided to check it out. My friend is in a laid back exploratory phase of her religious convictions so when the previews advertised preachy films, I felt bad. I had inadvertently led my friend and myself into a Christian-made film.

I braced myself for a slew of unnecessary references to the cross, constant discussion of the afterlife and a practically platonic approach to romance. I received none of those. Instead I was launched into a world reminiscent of some of my favorite movies. And not unlike those movies, there was redemption for a villain, this time redemption I’ve known to last.

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I say quite a few things on this site in question of my church-guided faith. I think a lot about the way I was raised and have struggled to recognize those places where my faith was coaxed rather than felt, forced rather than accepted. In doing this, I have tended to indict and convict Christianity more than uphold its truths in my writing. But it should be said that this movie resonated with me and that faith, deep belief that God is real and working and that He loves every single person on this earth, propels my very existence.

I roll my eyes at Christian obsession with changing the world media to be honoring to God. I honestly do not believe anything is at stake there. By getting so distracted with changing world media, we rarely create our own things. We have to stop thinking of ourselves as a persecuted class and join the world in living. We ought to recognize that there is much more to life than quoting Scripture.

This is why the movie was refreshing. It didn’t shove itself in your face. The advertising quoted a verse but the movie itself never did. It simply showed redemption from a Christian perspective and brought to mind favorites like Les Miserables, Count of Monte Cristo and Pirates of the Carribean. jeanvaljean

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The romance was clean but not without chemistry and tension, her desire to love a man who loves God was something I can totally understand. Still, her conviction did not run over the plot or raise her up on a pedestal throughout the movie. Moreover, the thing that made her attractive was her kindness, grace and determination to do something to stop cruelty from having the upper hand. What made him attractive besides his generally gorgeous exterior was his desire to thwart darkness, to learn and to be a new man.

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Though this movie seems to have fallen through the cracks with other moviegoers and critics, I thought it was very well done and it reminded me of something I’ve steadily started to lose. I am Christian. And I am very proud of that fact. I simply believe my Christianity is more about how I treat those in my path now than it is about what I will earn in my future. As it pertains to story and film, Christianity is so beautiful when nuanced and it’s so awesome when it’s a whisper in the wind rather than a blaring advertisement, when you almost miss its message but something sinks into your spirit and makes you smile, makes you remember there’s a God.

We forget that we are not at war with the world. We are at war with darkness, with Satan. Light has overcome the darkness, even the smallest of lights can pierce the darkness, whether it comes with screaming sirens or complete silence.

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This is a nearly unexplored territory for Christians, the action/adventure film. We have so much we could begin to explore throughout history. I for one would love to see a Dietrich Bonhoeffer movie with the redemptive/rebellious atmosphere of Amazing Grace and the latest Beyond the Mask. I’m excited to see these sorts of projects happening. Not so much for world redemption (I truly think Jesus has that covered, plus total conversion of the world seems a bit like world domination, not everybody needs revival) but so that Christians can learn about themselves and see that the hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil approach does not work in storytelling. It’s entirely okay and wonderful to enjoy action movies and history and things that don’t always have the “Christ” approval stamp on them. We’d do well to realize he probably approves more than we think.

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New Series! Hollywood Changed Things :)

Hey everyone! I’m starting a series for my blog, hoping to get back on track and to really speak up about my semi-unconventional understanding of Hollywood. So many people fear Hollywood, or make it out to be this twisted or evil thing. I’d like to help change that perspective if I can.  Many complaints against Hollywood speak of its desensitizing nature. The way that the violence makes people think hurting people is okay or that having sex with random strangers is a good idea.

But, I have observed also the good that has come of Hollywood, a good that I think is far more widespread than the evil. Just look around at the world now. They say it’s the last days, the evidence is in the depravity of the world, but look at the world now, post-Hollywood in comparison to a century ago and pre-Hollywood, or even to two millennia ago, in Jesus’ time. One hundred or so years ago, racism governed our country, including racism against Caucasian immigrants and the unfortunate history of the well-known Civil Rights battles. Prior to the all-inclusive influence of radio, TV and movies, parents beat their children under protection of the law. There is more, I believe, that has been greatly affected by the innovation of Hollywood. We’re so constantly talking about the media and its bad messages, why do we so rarely recognize the life-changing ones?

In this series, I hope to discuss the influence of Hollywood on a broader spectrum, drawing from music, movies, TV shows and life to show the positive outcome of Hollywood’s infusion into the world, especially America. Always, what makes Hollywood matter is the people involved. That is the foundation of the PVX Pearls vision and the only reason Hollywood has influence at all. So, let’s take the sandy outlook thrown around America all these years, capture it and find that pearl!

H2O: Just Add Water

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I have this new show that I’ve recently gotten into. You may have guessed it is H2O: Just Add Water. See, I’m moving with a family and their son, no, not their daughter, their son really likes it. So, seeing as how it was on Netflix, I thought I’d check it out. Now I’m addicted. To a teenibopper/kids show! Honestly though, this isn’t all that surprising for me.

I have seen the beauty and magic in kid’s movies and TV shows ever since I was a child. What’s funny though, is that despite finding the magic growing up, I always worried about believing in magic or thinking it was cool. It was against what I should believe. I’ve had to recognize the fact now, that magic intrigues me. I like Once Upon A Time, Harry Potter and H2O, in fact, I think these ideas capture all of our hearts on some level.

In H2O, a mere drop of water can turn the three magical friends into beautiful mermaids. What little girl hasn’t thought being a mermaid could be the coolest thing on earth? This show is so innocent, so real and so magical.

I hear the complaint all the time “Ugh, these kid’s shows are losing their morals, TV used to be good. Now it’s just trash.” You know it’s funny though, I’m fairly certain that was our parents’ reactions to our shows growing up. Cartoons and kid’s shows have no substance.” But, if you watch them as you grow, you begin to see that you were being taught valuable lessons in life. Watching old Disney movies always puts me in that mindset. Through movies and TV shows as children, we are almost inevitably taught to persevere through greatest trial, to be kind and accept people in their situations, and to be willing to sacrifice ourselves to protect the lives of others.

My favorite example of this in the show H2O is Rikki and Zane. Both Rikki and Zane have an attitude and a reputation that tells people to back off. They’re both a little rude and blunt and they follow strongly what they feel. You will see, I tend to sympathize with the “villain” types. In the first few episodes Zane is so rude and Rikki so reckless. You never expect to love them more than the other characters. But, as you go deeper into this ocean of beauty and story, Rikki is shown vulnerable and Zane is by her side, sacrificing anything and everything to show he cares. Nobody else trusts him, they see him as the veritable antithesis of trustworthiness. But he has, as TV shows often show, a stronger conscience than many of the others (as does Rikki.)

I would dismiss the notion that the “bad guys” can end up being the “best” guys, even more “good” in their actions than the good guys. But, in my own life, I’ve seen it! Movies and TV shows tell us that our bullies won’t always stay our bullies, our greatest enemy may one day be our strongest ally, the most insufferable person may someday sweep you off your feet. You can never predict what will happen. Bullied at a young age, I never expected those girls to ever accept me, give me a makeover and choose to spend real time with me. But, I found in my early teens that life is not your elementary school bullies, and it isn’t shaped by what they say. One of the rudest girls approached me when I was in school and invited me over. No trick. (I am not saying that people are never cruel, I’m simply relaying my own experience.) Looking around her house with her doting parents who always tried to fit in with her friends and which was a bit of a mess to stay in, I could begin to see why this girl, let’s call her Bethany treated me and others the way she did. We’ve grown apart over the years. She is now out partying all the time, one of those people, that, though popular in grade school, now is a little bit of a loner with a highly publicized drug issue. Hard to run away from these things in a small town.

What I’ve learned in life and through family movies and TV shows is that people are almost never what they appear. People have motivation, whether justified for us or only for them. The trick is to see people as just as lost and confused about life as you are. That’s why Rikki in H2O is my favorite. When Zane tells her about how his dad is always abandoning him, she remarks “So, that’s why you’re such a jerk!” then shares some personal things about her own dad. Sometimes, I feel, that the person who everyone trusts, can be the most unpredictable. They’ll pull the rug out from under you. But, on occasion, the one everyone distrusts will surprise you and be far more down to earth and scared than you would ever expect. I think these people are the most trustworthy. You can see their motivation and test it. They will rise to the occasion every single time.

Anyways, as always, this is a long-winded entry and only barely scratches the surface of this wonderful show. But, it had to be said. Trust can be the most vulnerable thing you ever do in your life, but when we were kids, we were taught to trust. Why should that leave with our interest in watching kid’s entertainment? A trusting, forgiving heart is valuable in this life. You may be hurt, but if you learn to guard your trusting heart, I think life has endless possibilities. I will have to share another post on the show, magic, friendship and secrecy. But, this is my current obsession and I’m loving it. Will follow up with another entry soon. Off to Sunsplash! Hope I don’t get wet! 😉

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