The Simple Argument Against Mankind

Is man good or evil?

The answer to this question has escaped humanity. Philosophers like Plato, Ayn Rand, and Immanuel Kant each had their own well-thought-out answers, but they’re all dead so who cares what they think.  I say man is evil. I only need one piece of evidence to prove my claim.

The public bathroom.

We’ve all experienced one. Opened that door, looking to complete our most basic bodily function. We’ve all kicked open that stall door and hoped for the best. Then we saw the true nature of humanity lying on the ground next to the toilet. Festering. Leaving a smell in the air that beckoned filthy flying disease-spreading creatures.

On the walls in those stalls, we can see all that man is. The bathroom stall is a private place for a person. No one is allowed in. The person can collect their thoughts and write any messages they choose. No one knows who writes the words. The anonymity of the stall wall reveals the darkness of man. For what does he share in his private moment but the worst words and the worst sentiments. The foulest language in our tongue greets the person who wishes to evacuate their bowels and be on their way. The person has to sit with their cheeks spread on toilet paper, holding their nose and forced to look at crude drawings of genitalia and racial epithets. In their most vulnerable moment, they find that they have been betrayed by their fellow man.

Those people then embrace their own evil. They sit up and leave without flushing. They contribute to the depravity on the walls. They unleash their load on the floor. They leak out onto the toilet paper. They leave the stall in worse shape than they found it. A revenge for the person before that afflicts the person after.

No person who leaves the bathroom leaves with a smile on their face. Their face is a contorted one of frustration with a touch of misery.

For they have been reminded what they are.

Evil.

 

 

Hollywood’s Hypocrisy Spoils Oscars’ Message.

Hollywood had a clear message that they wanted to express during the Oscars. They beat every viewer over the head with it for three hours.

Diversity emboldens us. Empathy and tolerance bring us together. Fear only serves to divide us. And that we must resist.

Last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy and the rise of President Trump set the stage for tonight’s award choices.  A  concerted effort was made to nominate diverse people and films. A record-setting number of black people won an Academy Award. The winner of Best Picture was not the heavily-favored and heavily-white La La Land, but the queer and black, Moonlight.

The same message was echoed in the speeches made by the Academy Award winners.

“This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender conforming who don’t see themselves, we are trying to show you, you and us, so thank you, thank you, this is for you.” said Tarell Alvin McCraney, writer of Moonlight.

The director of The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi, chose not to attend the Oscars due to the travel ban but left a statement to be read from him:

“Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever.”

Strong words that no reasonable person could find fault with. Not could they find fault with the message. But in some brief moments last night, Hollywood’s true smug elitist nature bubbled to the surface.

The first such moment came during actor Mark Rylance’s introduction for the Best Supporting Actress category.

“Opposition is really good in society… Sometimes, the most supportive thing is to oppose. Something women seem to be better at than men, is opposing without hatred.”

This was a sexist blanket statement. If the roles were reversed, people would be up in arms. The purpose here was to empower women which made it a good lead for the award, but he bashed men too. This statement was contrary to the message of the night.

Another brief lapse came during Viola Davis’s acceptance speech.

“People ask me all the time, ‘What kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola?’ And I say,’“Exhume those bodies.’ Exhume those stories — the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost. I became an artist, and thank God I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life. ”

The speech was impassioned, raw, and inspirational. But she also essentially that only she and her artist friends celebrated the human condition. She set herself above the common person. Struck me the wrong way.

And finally, during a long horrendously unfunny bit, Jimmy Kimmel brought out unsuspecting tourists to meet celebrities sitting in the front row. All the stars were laughing at the normal people showing up during their big award show.  As if the average person was something worth laughing at. The skit had no punchline to it other than that.

As the tourists awkwardly made their way past the celebrities,  Kimmel asked a young Asian tourist what her name was. She had to tell him twice as he struggled to pronounce it.

He then joked that it wasn’t a real name like her husband’s name, Patrick.

On a night when diversity was being celebrated.

 

Hell Hath No Fury.

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So I overheard this girl today talking about her issues with a guy. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop on her conversation. I had to wait in line behind her and her friend. The sound of their chatter forced its way into my head. My brain had to process that information. I had no choice but to listen to them.

I got behind them in line too late to learn all the details. Whoever the man in the story was, he was messing up. This young girl in her twenties was red in the face with anger talking about what she was going to do to him. What I did find out was this man was not the official boyfriend yet. He was on the path to boyfriend-dom. If their relationship were a status bar, I’d say he was 75 percent boyfriend from how she spoke of him. He might have been a friend with benefits. She had strong feelings for him and thought he returned those feelings. Until he did something at a party with another girl.

The storyteller didn’t specify what he did with that girl. Clearly it was the wrong decision. She told her friend that now she had to do some “crazy bitch shit”.

Her exact words.

After that proclamation, the cashier rang up their chocolate bar and bottle of water. She and her friend ran like hell out of the store. Likely to do that “crazy bitch shit” that she needed to do.

This left me thinking. What was crazy bitch shit?

Her friend knew. She had no questions as they left.

was there just crazy shit? was there normal bitch shit? Why the emphasis on crazy?

At what point was a woman driven to do crazy bitch shit? What had this man done with this other girl? Was it deserving of having crazy bitch shit done to him?

I knew from the way she spoke that this wasn’t the first time she had had to do crazy bitch shit. She was very confident in her ability to do it to this guy.

I did not envy this man. He should have thought twice before doing what he did with that other girl. Now he has to live with consequences and have crazy bitch shit done to him.

If I were a religious man, I’d pray for him.

But I’m not.

Antihero Protagonist: Louis Bloom

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Louis Bloom

Antiheroes come in shades of grey. Lou is the darkest of dark grey. He would be black in any story that didn’t feature him as the protagonist. There is not much redeeming to him. He is willing to manipulate and harm people to justify his own ends. Dan Gilroy, the writer of the film, describes him as a sociopath and refers to the film as an antihero success story.

The introductory scene brings Lou’s darkness out in a quick two pages. It is not available on YouTube unfortunately. So here is the scene in screenplay form.

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In two pages, Lou gets established as a creepy man who shouldn’t be trusted by people. Common story convention says to introduce your main character doing something that shows us who we are. So we begin here with our sociopathic antihero cutting a chainlink fence. As he notices that he is not alone, he turns and gives this charming yet unsettling smile.

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It’s not in the screenplay but it gives us our first impression of Lou. This is the first we actually see of him as the shot prior to this had him in the dark. Jake Gyllenhall killed it with his starved coyote look.

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He seems so feral in both appearance and in how he moves. When the security guard’s light hits him, he reacts like a nocturnal animal caught in headlights.  He gives his first words, a lie to get the guard’s defenses down. He feigns not knowing what he’s doing. We can tell he’s done this sort of thing his whole life. There is no worry nor tremble in Lou once he’s caught.

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He smiles wider and advances toward the officer, where he can get a better look at what he’s dealing with. His confidence grows once he sees that his opposition is only a security guard. He takes out his ID, continues his lie until he’s close enough to pounce.

We are given this image to close out the opening sequence.

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The fate of the guard is left up to our imagination. After seeing the entire film through and see what Lou is capable of, it’s scary to imagine just what he could have done to this man.

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Your Uterus and You.

I have been thinking about abortions a lot lately. There’s just something about the holiday season that makes me think about the sanctity of life, fetuses and women’s rights. It’s the hottest of hot button issues.

Abortion debates bring up many questions. When does life begin? Is that answer in science or philosophy? What is a person’s responsibility to their unborn child? Once pregnant, should they be forced to carry the baby until it is born? Should the government be telling women what to do with their bodies anyway? What business do they have dictating to people what they should and shouldn’t do in their homes? Do not women have the right to decide whether they will have a child or not? And what if it were illegal? What should the punishment be for an illegal abortion? Should there be jail time? If abortions are permitted, should society encourage them? Should people who get abortions be proud of them?

These questions are why I find my mind coming back to this issue. Each of them requires a sophisticated answer because the development of the fetus in the mother’s womb is such a strange happening. A mother, person with rights of her own, has another person or person-in-the-making (depends on who you talk to) living inside her.

Ninety percent of abortion discussion is coming up with absurd scenarios to try and equate the strange pregnant mother-unborn child relationship. People have come up with everything, from being a homeowner evicting an unwanted guest to waking up attached to a violinist, all in an attempt to sway people’s opinions one way or the other.

I am easily swayed. I find myself going between pro-life and pro-choice nonstop. I’ll read a pro-choice comment on a blog and be one hundred percent gung-ho about it until I read a follow-up blog post about the importance of life. I can’t make up my mind. The arguments are so well-reasoned on both sides. I wish they could both be right.

I had a long blog post prepared to discuss both positions at length and to finalize my own position on the issue. But then I read this opinion piece and realized I had to immediately delete my blog post.

“In the House currently sitting 362 men, there are only 76 women. There is no reason why a group of people should even be voting on women’s reproductive rights, especially one where the men outnumber the women four to one. Men do not have the right to an opinion in the matter of abortion.

So according to this young woman, only those with uteri have been bestowed with the power to have valid opinions about abortions. I can accept that, but I do have some questions.

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At what age does a person gain this “valid opinion on abortion” power? Is it all persons with uteri young and old? Does an eight-year-old girl have a more valid opinion than her father on abortions? Or is it only after she’s reached the age of majority?

What if a person with a uterus gets their opinion on abortions from a person without a uterus? Like an adult woman reads some pro-choice blog by a guy and then forms her opinion based on that guy’s information. The man’s opinion was invalid due to his lack of uterus. Is that opinion now valid because a woman has that exact same opinion?

What if a woman’s uterus becomes damaged? Not to be graphic, but things happen in this life. The uterus is not indestructible.  Would damage to a woman’s uterus impede her ability to argue about abortions? Are her opinion on abortions less valid than a woman who has a perfectly functioning uterus? Or is the possession of the uterus all that is needed for the opinion? Is that something a doctor can fix if it does happen?

What if a woman is born without developing a uterus? This is a real ailment.  Is she the same as a man since she can’t have kids? If a woman donates her uterus to her, would she be fine then?  What if that woman has an artificial uterus inserted? Like scientists build her a new uterus. Do those count?

Is the valid abortion argument power in the uterus or in the woman herself? If it’s the former, then what if a woman loses her uterus? Women can have their uterus removed and live. Like what if some girl had a really crazy night out. Like the craziest night out ever. What if she woke up the next morning and her uterus was gone. If she were to go online and argue with a pro-lifer, would she still have valid arguments? Does her prior experience with a uterus make her okay?

What if a woman was born without a uterus, had an artificial science uterus installed that got damaged, and then lost that uterus after a really crazy night?

What about marriage? Man and wife share everything. Can a woman share her uterus power with her husband? Like, let’s say her husband loves to go down to the abortion clinic and protest. The wife doesn’t need the power as she’s going grocery shopping. Can she lend it out to him for the day? What if she goes with him and just stands there holding his hand? Could his opinions be valid then?

Here’s a scenario. A woman paralyzed from the neck down spends all her day in a hospital bed. Prior to the accident that left her unable to move, the greatest joy in her life was arguing with people on the internet about abortions. After the accident, she can only move her eyes and eyelids. She works out a system of communication with her male caretaker. He reads her the latest articles about abortions off the internet to keep her knowledge sharp. She decides that her condition is not going to hold her back from the greatest joy in her life. So she has him respond to articles for her. He is only a puppet. Are her opinions now invalid because a person without a uterus is typing them out for her? Or are they okay because the original source is a person with a uterus?

What if a guy has a woman regurgitate all his opinions on abortions? Like let’s say I had a woman write the blog post I wanted to write on abortions. Would it now be valid because a woman technically wrote it?

The original woman in question said you have to have a uterus but she did not say you have to have one inside of you. Let’s say a uterus falls off a truck. It was on its way to the Uterus Transplant clinic, hit a bump in the road that sent uteri flying. Some weirdo picks the uterus up, puts it on ice, and  Now he technically has his own uterus. Has he now gained the power to have valid opinions on abortion?

She failed to mention you have to have a human uterus. Can a female deer have a valid opinion on abortions? What if scientists teach a female deer how to talk and its first words are “The unborn are organisms. They are not merely a ‘part of the woman’s body,’ unless you take the position that a pregnant woman has four arms, four legs, twenty fingers, two heads, two noses, and half the time, working male genitalia. As philosopher Richard Stith points out, human beings do not develop piece-by-piece like a car; rather, they develop themselves from within like an old Polaroid picture.” Would have to heed the deer’s words?

Can uterus power stack? If a woman were to come into possession of two uteri, does she have stronger arguments for her position on abortion than the average woman? If uterus power does stack, is there a limit? What’s stopping some woman from going psycho and murdering millions of women and collecting their uteri one by one like the monster from Jeepers Creepers except only with uteri? She could have the power of a million uteri at her fingertips. Everyone’s stances on abortion would become invalid in the presence of this giant uterus monster.

Hillary Clinton and Mainstream Media Condemned by American People.

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Despite having the endorsement of the current president and Lebron James, millions of Wall Streets Dollars in her pocket, hundreds of emotionally-manipulative advertisements being played on television, polling results that had her winning in a landslide, and the mainstream media (minus Fox News and Breitbart) by her side, Hillary Clinton will not be the next president of the United States.

People are scrambling for answers, in shock. This  could be seen on the news reports tonight. The reporters looked taken aback. As Trump’s surge began, they stuttered through explanations. They held off on declaring him the winner. They tried to twist the numbers to give Hillary a chance. They had convinced themselves that the monster would never win. The polls said he couldn’t. But the time came when they could no longer deny reality.

The American People wanted Trump to be their 45th president, not Hillary Clinton. Stories will be written about who is to blame for this debacle and the reaction surrounding it.

The real story here is the utter failure by the mainstream media to remain unbiased. We had publication after publication come out and tell they endorsed. If they had stuck to the facts,  they would have been able to see this coming.Instead they are left with their mouths on the ground, struggling to make sense of it. All their attempts to destroy and condemn Trump only served to help him get his message to the people who wanted to hear it.

Now hell has frozen over and Donald Trump will be president. President Trump. Never thought I would see a black man be president and I never thought I’d see Donald Trump be president. Life certainly keeps things interesting.

Best of luck to him.

Antihero Protagonist: Light Yagami

Audiences have grown tired of the traditional heroic story. A virtuous person rising up against the forces of evil and darkness is saved for children’s stories nowadays. Adults are bored with idealistic heroes. They want flawed individuals at the center of their stories.

What is it about antiheroes that audiences love?

I have been watching films and television shows about antihero protagonists to find out the answer to that question.

DEATH NOTE

Light Yagami

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Every story needs the right protagonist. Death Note has a money one in the god of the new world, Light Yagami. A story about a high school student that finds a notebook that can kill people is a novel concept by itself. When that high school student is a genius sociopath with a god complex, you get the intriguing cat and mouse game that is Death Note.

The Character:

Under other circumstances, Light would be a traditional hero. He has many heroic qualities. He is highly intelligent. Determined.  Battling against the evils of society. His major flaw is his hubris. That same flaw is shared by many ancient Greek Heroes.

However, Light Yagami is a sociopath who revels in the destruction of his opposition. He murders thousands of criminals over the course of the story. He is so driven to his goal that he will manipulate anyone to achieve his ends. He believes he has the right to judge the world and no one should dare stand in his way. Those who do deserve death.

Pivotal Scene:

After killing Raye Penbar and a team of FBI agents sent to investigate him, Light Yagami realizes he has left himself exposed. Penbar’s fiancee, Naomi Misora discovers a clue that could implicate Light in the murders. Light runs into her and finds out her discovery through idle chitchat. He asks for her name. With a name and face, he can kill anyone. She gives him a fake one. With his life on the line, Light slyly gets the woman’s real name and kills her.

I chose this scene as it shows all the facets of Light’s character. This woman is his first real challenge. If he fails, he will be arrested and executed. He acts out of survival. He gains her trust with subtle lies and compliments. Once he has won, he tells her he is the killer the police are looking for. By then it is too late for Naomi to do anything.

On the surface, this scene is a man killing a young woman and getting away with it, a villainous endeavor. But this scene is  a battle of wits. Two intelligent people go back and forth until one comes out the victor. Ultimately Light uses Naomi’s emotional attachments against her.

This scene is very well-thought out and logical, among the best in all of Death Note.

Things To Be Learned:

An intriguing protagonist only remains intriguing against strong opposition. The eccentric L. Lawliet is Light’s rival in this story. L is the world’s great detective. He is as ruthless and cunning as Light is. He has the support of the police force and applies immense pressure onto the wannabe god. The cat-and-mouse game between the two of them is the backbone of this story. The story drops in quality after Light defeats L.

It’s important to not try to force the audience to feel a certain way about characters. Death Note lets the audience decide on whether they want to side with Light or L. The story teller should be putting on a show, not trying to push morality onto the audience.

Closing Thoughts:

Death Note‘s Light Yagami is the reason this anime is able to appeal to people who do not usually enjoy animation. He draws the audience in. People want to see him caught. People want to see him get away with everything. No one would want to be friends with him, but we do all want to see how he gets past his next big obstacle.

I look forward to the upcoming live action adaptation of Death Note. There have been interesting casting choices made. The portrayal of Light Yagami will be the key to the success of the adaptation. If the writers and director accurately transfer his character to the screen, then American audiences will be in for a treat.

But that’s a big if.