Saturday, July 20, 2013

Setting the (Entertainment) Record Straight

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe most--though not all--of the people who are reading this don't watch Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel very often.  Some of you can't; you either can't afford cable or only subscribe to a streaming service, such as Netflix or Hulu.  Others of you simply don't have the time for television in general, regardless of the network.  Still others don't care for the kind of shows made by those networks; either you've seen a little bit of them and it was more than you could stand, or you just know that they're for kids, and feel that, as an adult of whatever age, you won't enjoy them.  I still feel that you should give the shows a chance before completely writing them off, but, my point is: Many of you only know what you do about VICTORiOUS or Austin & Ally thanks to our conversations and/or my Facebook postings.
Therein lies a problem, though: Some people--including some on my friends list--seem to think that such shows and their stars consume all my time.  In an instant message conversation, one long-time friend put it this way:
That's kinda weird, since most people who watch that are like at least ten years younger. [...] The first thing I can think of is to get off the "obsession," or whatever you wanna call it, with the "middle school shows." You can still watch them if you want, but maybe don't talk about them as much. [...] When I think of obsessed, I just see all of the collages you made and listed on here or mentioned you have in your room or whatever. It makes it seem like that's all you spend your time on, but that's how it comes across to me.
I think she actually has a very good point; in fact, I would wager to guess that said friend is not the only one who thinks that.  People believing something like that is nothing new: When I was in eighth grade, I bandied about the names of the stars from my favorite shows as if they were my best friends.  More than once during that time, my mom said, "You make it sound like you do nothing but watch TV! You don't even watch that much TV; you're just fanatical about the TV you do watch!" With the way that my classmates and other coeval peers acted around me, it seemed that she was right on target.
So, I want to set the record straight on this matter.  As per my usual style, I'm going to have a few different points I will make.  First off: Though quite a bit of my favorite media is/was intended for kids, there's still right much of it that isn't.  A commonly asked question is: What kind of music do you like? I honestly like a little of everything; you'd be hard-pressed to find a somewhat prolific artist or band--other than one whose music is 100% obscene--who hasn't done a single song I like or would like.  Most of you might think that my playlist consists of nothing but dc Talk/their solo acts and "teen pop" artists such as Victoria Justice, Hilary Duff, and Bridgit Mendler.  You're partly right: They are on there...alongside artists ranging from the Beatles to Audio Adrenaline to Michael Ball to Ray Stevens to Genesis to Westlife.  (If you don't know who any of those artists or bands are, I suggest you look them up.)  Though those Mouse network ladies' songs get plenty of spins, the other artists on their prove that my musical tastes are not as limited as one would assume.
The same is true of my favorite media in other areas, as well: A movie, TV show, or book does not have to be made solely for kids for me to enjoy it.  If you look at my review blog--you know where to find it!--you'll see reviews of all kinds of media.  Recent movies I have reviewed include the historical drama Alleged and the inspirational flick Unconditional, both of which have themes that little kids may not understand.  When it comes to books, you'll find everything from Joel C. Rosenberg's "prophetic" fiction to George W. Bush's autobiography, which aren't for children based on their length alone.  I don't usually review live television on my blog, but I do plan to tune into The X Factor this season.  I wanted to last year, but a massive leak at our house which caused a forced remodel made our family room inaccessible, which made watching anything on television rather uncomfortable.  I'd also like to check out other singing competitions--The Voice, for one--and other shows ranging from Castle to HGTV Star to Once Upon a Time to even some classics that I am currently largely unfamiliar with, such as I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, and Emergency! However,  working about twenty hours every week, as well as household responsibilities and such, take precedence over consuming entertainment.
You may ask: Why do my favorite shows, movies, books, music, and such tend to be made for younger audiences? Many of you might be thinking that it's a product of my Asperger Syndrome--that is, because I am supposedly at least a few years behind my peers socially--but that's not it, though the reasoning behind it might be a product of my A.S. Instead, it is this: Largely, it seems that most entertainment intended for adults or even older teens is simply obscene.  I'm not just talking about pornography, though that is included; much of what comes down the pipelines these days, even on network television and basic cable, is either morally bankrupt or close to it...unless it is made for kids.  There are exceptions, of course; The Lake House is a good example of a clean movie that was intended for adults instead of kids.  Still, it's getting harder and harder to find media that falls into that category.  Even many of the "young adult" books I see have images or summaries on their covers that imply obscene content! As a Christian, I believe that God does not want his followers to expose themselves to such filth; verses such as Ephesians 5:3-4 make it quite clear.  Yes, I know that many fellow Christians will watch, read, or listen to almost anything without any qualms; as a random Facebooker commented, entertainment "is one area where the Devil has a foothold."  Just because "everyone else" is doing it doesn't mean that I have to; you may call that narrow, but that's exactly how Jesus described the gate to heaven in Matthew 7:13-14.  It's as Green Day once sang: "I walk a lonely road; the only one that I have ever known!"
Second off: Doing celebrity-themed artwork is not necessarily a sign of an obsession with famous people.  Back in 2002, my mom tried her hand at making a scrapbook as a gift for my sister.  I helped out by making reprints of the photos, which proved rather arduous due to having a computer, a printer, and a scanner which had one thing in common: They were extremely slow.  Though my mom did finish it, she confessed to me that she did not feel that she had a knack for it.  Some time later, though, when she saw the creations I was able to make on Print Shop and other desktop publishing software, she told me I would make a good scrapbooker.  Unfortunately, I hate looking at pictures of myself and having my picture taken, and I don't think my parents and some others in my family consider themselves to be very photogenic.  So, as a fan of various entertainers--who happen to almost always look good in photos--I use their pictures for collages.
Most if not all of you know someone who is a big fan of a sports team, and is very proud of that fact.  Between wearing jerseys, putting decals on their cars, talking about them on Facebook, and other displays, they love to showcase their love for whatever team.  For me, using/remixing photos of my favorite celebrities as my Facebook cover photo, putting them on the cover of my binder, or having them as the background on my iPad or iPod is my version of that.  Not only is it meant to show that I am a fan, but, when it involves some sort of artistry on my part, it also serves as a creative outlet.
Third off: I don't intend to be obsessed with the celebrities and/or their shows...but that doesn't mean I'm not.  I've suffered from limited interests my whole life, but I'm pretty sure that, at this point in my life, my tastes are broader than they have ever been.  Sure, I do have my dislikes--don't we all?--but I'm still doing better than I was about a decade ago, where I constantly was saying, "I hate ______!", and, "I don't like _____!" I never intended to be obsessed with anything in the first place; it wasn't until others informed me that I was that I even knew of it, and, even then, I denied it.
Some may wonder: Why such a focus on entertainment? Why not broaden my horizons even further? I'm reminded of the "Shooting Three to Make Tutu" episode of Home Improvement, where Tim takes his youngest son Mark to a basketball game instead of the ballet that Jill wanted him to attend.  When Jill finds out, she isn't too happy with Tim.  A rather iconic line from that episode is, "Tim, for years I have been trying to expose the boys to something other than sports, tools, and cars.  I can't get Brad interested; Randy's light is barely flickering; now, you've taken away what I had with Mark."  When it comes to most non-entertainment-related topics, you could say the same thing about me that Jill said about Brad: No one has been able to get me interested.
That right there makes for an interesting debacle: Over the years, people have suggested I get involved in sporting activity of some sort.  Even when I was only about five or six years old, some doctor suggested I get involved in "non-competitive sports," so, my mom signed me up for roller-skating lessons, which I hated.  When that didn't work, she signed me up for swimming lessons, which were even worse.  To this day, every time I see the YMCA where I had those lessons, I cringe inside.  As the years went by, various people suggested I try everything from track to golf to even my high school's annual "Seniors Vs. Faculty" basketball game.  I always refused, using my A.S. as an excuse.  Some people refuted my claim, saying that I was capable of doing anything I wanted to do.  I realize now that we were both right: Though, if I had wanted to succeed in sports or similar activities, I could have...I didn't want anything to do with them, because they just didn't fall into my areas of interest.  Though I'm sure all those people meant well, they can't expect me to do some arduous task I have zero interest in just because Dr. What's-His-Name or Mrs. Whoever thinks it's a good idea.
Fourth off: I do realize that my interests are somewhat off-putting to others...but I still can't change who I am.  I'm reminded of a quotation from an article about Lizzie McGuire I once read:
Lizzie McGuire, all blond curls, high cheekbones and sparkling eyes, asks the boy she has a crush on to go to a school dance with her.  Not interested, he says.  Anyone tuning in to the program for the first time wouldn't buy it. No boy would turn down this adorable girl for a date...but that's the genius of the show. "We took the sweetest, warmest, cutest girl in school and made her the vulnerable one," says [Disney Channel Executive VP] Marsh.
You could make a similar statement about me: When people who have recently met me or who don't know me all that well hear me talk about my favorite things, or see what I post on Facebook, some of them just don't seem to "get" it.  What's with all this talk of bargain hunting? Why is this guy posting pictures of celebrities? How could anyone have a penchant for wall calendars? Yet, those who know me well understand it completely, and realize that I just wouldn't be me without all of that.  It's no surprise that at least two-thirds of the "unfriendings" I have had on Facebook were from people who I randomly met me once before "adding" me as a friend, or who might have gone to high school with me, but still didn't know me very well.  Unless someone knows me, he/she just isn't going to understand why I do what I do.
Here is my fifth, and concluding, point: It's hard to tell how such interests might affect my love life.  This is actually a point I've wanted to make for a long time: It's true that my interests--entertainment-related and otherwise--are not shared by those around my age.  Most coeval folks couldn't care less about garage sales, libraries, or Austin & Ally.  I get that; still, that doesn't mean that my chances of finding my perfect mate are completely nil.  It's actually one of the reasons that a cougar/cub relationship seems appealing: It seems to me that I would have more in common with a lady several years my senior than one at the age most would consider "normal" for me to date.  Some of you may remember this Internet meme that was passed around several years ago:
Two men were sitting next to each other at a bar.  After a while, one guy looks at the other and says, "I can't help but think, from listening to you, that you're from Ireland."
The other guy responds proudly, "Yes, that I am!"
The first guy says, "So am I! And where abouts from Ireland might you be?"
The other guy answers, "I'm from Dublin, I am."
The first guy responds, "Sure and begora, and so am I! And what street did you live on in Dublin?"
The other guy says, "A lovely little area it was, I lived on McCleary Street in the old central part of town."
The first guy says, "Faith and it's a small world, so did I! And to what school would you have been going?"
The other guy answers, "Well, now, I went to St. Mary's of course."
The first guy gets really excited, and says, "And so did I. Tell me, what year did you graduate?"
The other guy answers, "Well, now, I graduated in 1964."
The first guy exclaims, "The Good Lord must be smiling down upon us! I can hardly believe our good luck at winding up in the same bar tonight. Can you believe it, I graduated from St. Mary's in 1964 my own self."
About this time, another guy walks into the bar, sits down, and orders a beer.
The bartender walks over shaking his head and mutters, "It's going to be a long night tonight; the Murphy twins are drunk again."
 As funny as that joke is, that right there is the kind of meeting I envision having with my future wife.  If I could meet a single Christian lady, and, when she and I name off all of our favorite things, it turns out that they're all the same...well, I can't envision a more perfect match.  It may sound naive to believe such a thing could happen outside of a movie, TV show, or novel, but, if a Hollywood screenwriter or best-selling novelist can make such a thing happen, why couldn't the Creator of all things?
Any comments?

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