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Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Remember when I talked about how fictional characters sometimes translate differently in real life?

One of the targets of my criticism was beloved Jim Halpert of “The Office.” I used to know someone a lot like Jim, and although he could be entertaining and charming at times, his life is ultimately incredibly depressing, especially because of immaturity and a lack of motivation.

This morning, I was pleased to see that I’m not the only person who thinks somewhat along the same lines. Meghan Keane at The AWL has posted a thoughtful article about how depressing “The Office” has become.

This exerpt, I believe, best captures the idea:

For audiences, Jim—more so than Pam—has served as a pressure valve for all of the overstimulated personalities on the show by responding to his absurd coworkers the only rational way: with sarcasm and bafflement. The whole point of Jim was that he held the promise that at some point he would get his act together enough to break out of the confines of Dunder Mifflin. He’s the relatable protagonist for anyone (read: everyone) who has ever been trapped in a middling situation and found the only defense to be sarcasm and bemusement.

Now Jim has developed into the most depressing archetype: a mediocre man who has already realized his full potential.

Gone is Jim’s charming lack of enthusiasm for his job. Now he’s proving exactly where a lack of drive is likely to lead you—to the mediocrity of middle management, where one is gripped by the fear of losing whatever corner of inanity you’ve carved for yourself in the workplace.

I must confess that I haven’t watched “The Office” for at least two seasons now—for the very reasons this article, and my earlier post, describes.

Granted, there’s something to be said about sticking with your current job in the uncertain times of an economic depression. And for Christians, single or not, male or female, God uses us, and our circumstances, for His good purpose, even if they seem depressing and soul-crushingly mediocre. And if you have such a job, and you’re perfectly happy with it, then hey, whatever floats your pirate ship.

This is loosely, or hardly, related to single Christian females. But I wanted to post something, and it was nice to have something to point to and say, “Hey! I’m not the only one who thinks this!”

Sorry for the lack of posts, but God is working through me, and there have been a few things going on in my life that I would like to write about here, so I’m going to try to be more frequent.

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This is a bit late for Friday Frivolity, but I have been distracted by—you won’t believe this—work and other real life responsibilities! I know, I know, and I’m sorry for letting you down. Hopefully this will make up for it.

Ever been caught in the “friend zone,” willingly or not? Sure, we all have. But maybe Boundless is right and that ISN’T the way God planned it!!!

(Apologies that the video wasn’t embedded. It’s actually embeddable, but WordPress is being … well, it would be un-Christian of me to describe what I really think of it right now.)

Unrelated note: I still owe you guys the fourth and final part of my (over)analysis of the Girl’s Guide, I know. The thing is, I misplaced the hard copy I had with all my notes, and I’m too lazy to go through it and rewrite them. It’s somewhere in my room, though. Can’t promise when it will be posted, but I can promise that it will be posted!

On that note, as always, Happy Friday, and have a blessed weekend!

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Even though it’s my post, I don’t mean the 18th or 19th century when I say “old-fashioned.” This time, I actually mean the 1960s, because that’s where today’s clips come from.

Look, I’ll be honest with you: I’m not entirely sure that this first clip (from the 1960 movie Tall Story starring Jane Fonda and Anthony Perkins) is entirely appropriate. But I came across it on YouTube a few days ago, and knew that it simply had to be in the next Friday Frivolity. Actually, I’d never heard of the movie until I found it while searching for clips from Barefoot in the Park.

Bethany had the best response to it, though: That’s one of the best things I’ve seen in a while. So awkward, so wrong, so wonderful. And so…yeah, I don’t even know the word.

Me either, Bethany.

Then we have a longer clip, from Barefoot in the Park, in the scene I posted about before, where Robert Redford’s character, normally very proper and dignified, is whimsically drunk. Actually, this is from the last 9 1/2 minutes of the movie, so if you haven’t seen it and don’t want the ending (such as it is) to be spoiled, then don’t watch.

As always, happy Friday! I’m leaving for a mission trip in a couple days, so given Bethany’s grad-school busyness, don’t expect many postings over the next couple of weeks. Until then, cheerio!

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FINALLY! It took me FOREVER to get the formatting on this thing the way I wanted it, and I had to resort to primitive methods. Anyway, we’re up and running now.

I will freely admit that the Internet does not need another Twilight website or commentary, whether pro- or anti-. I know this. I can’t help it. There’s something I have to address, particularly because I have yet to see others make the same observation to my satisfaction.

Full disclosure: I hate Twilight the book. Now, I enjoy the movie in a so-bad-it’s-funny, at-least-it’s-got-more-of-a-plot, kind of way. But I am not a fan by any stretch of the imagination. Many a person, whether it be a soccer mom or a youth pastor or a semi-moral teenage girl with half a brain in her head, has praised Twilight for its morality, for its message of abstinence. Whether you have bought into this idea or not, or haven’t even read the book yet, let me clear something up:

Twilight does not demonstrate real abstinence. If you are looking for a book that truly advocates an admirable, true-love-waits, selfless approach to sex, look elsewhere.

Giving credit where credit is due, the main characters don’t have sex until they’re married. Sarcasm aside, good for them—or rather, the author. As a morally (not necessarily politically) conservative Christian, I can get on board with that. But the book’s version no-sex-before-marriage only follows the letter of the law, while the spirit gets broken willy-nilly. Setting aside other problems within Edward and Bella’s relationship—and there are many, as a number of other websites have discussed—I was honestly disturbed after I decided to check out Twilight, having heard so many good things about it, its charming love story and surprisingly moral message.

So how about I get down to business and actually talk about what my big problem is?

While the main characters do practice abstinence in that they don’t have sex, they do other things that rather defeat the purpose. The whole idea behind the practice of abstinence is to maintain a safe physical and emotional distance between two people before they come together in a sanctified marriage relationship, in honor of both God and each other.

Song of Solomon 3:5 Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, / by the gazelles and wild deer, / not to awaken love until the time is right.

Practicing this demonstrates not only obedience to God, but respect for the other person. I do believe that there is a little, ahem, “wiggle room” in the extent to which two people can practice abstinence—that is, how far is too far. (And obviously, there is forgiveness in Christ for outright sin.) Certain things are more of a temptation for some people than for others, which is something that Christians should learn about themselves long before they have to make a rational decision in the heat of the moment. For obvious reasons, this isn’t decided on by experimentation, but by prayer and diving into God’s word.

So what does this have to do with Edward and Bella?

Edward takes Bella into the woods and completely isolates them from anyone else. It is there that he informs her of his vampirism, that he has killed people before, and he desperately wants to drink her blood because she is so beautiful and tempting. They then experiment with physical contact, seeing how far they can go before Edward loses control. Obviously, he doesn’t, but the ends do not justify the means. Do you swing an axe in a crowded room and then say, “Well, I didn’t cut anyone’s head off, so it’s all good.” No—you swung an axe in a crowded room. You’re a moron.

What if Edward hadn’t kept control? They don’t know what the line-not-to-cross is—they’re both new at this “twoo wuv”/romance/sex thing. Well, Bella would have been gobbled up and the series would have ended much sooner than it does now—and many people would be okay with that. In which case, Twilight would be a nice cautionary tale of what happens when you aren’t cautious enough. But if, in this book, vampirism is a metaphor for sex, then they are being completely irresponsible, selfish, and just plain stupid.

Would you honestly, HONESTLY go into the woods with a suspected murderer, only to have him confirm those suspicions, and then proceed to make out with you, just to see if he can control himself and not kill you? Even if he told you outright that you are a heady temptation? And if his record so far is not exactly spotless on the not-killing thing? Guy or girl, why would you allow yourself to enter into such a situation? How could someone take advantage of another person like this, attempting to fulfill their sensual desires as much as possible without crossing what becomes a very ambiguous line? This is putting not only oneself at risk of physical and emotional hurt, but the other party involved.

Matthew 18:6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

During their first sexless “love scene,” Bella says, “I was afraid… because, for, well, obvious reasons, I can’t stay with you. And I’m afraid that I’d like to stay with you, much more than I should.”

To which Edward replies, “That is something to be afraid of, indeed. Wanting to be with me. That’s really not in your best interest.” And then later adds, “It’s not only your company I crave! Never forget that. Never forget I am more dangerous to you than I am to anyone else.”

A little later, in describing the first time he saw her, Edward speaks the words that should have sent Bella running and screaming—away:

“In that one hour, I thought of a hundred different ways to lure you from the room with me, to get you alone. And I fought them each back, thinking of my family, what I could do to them. I had to run out, to get away before I could speak the words that would make you follow…I so very nearly took you then. There was only one other frail human there — so easily dealt with.”

Unfortunately, Bella does NOT run screaming. Instead:

I knew at any moment it could be too much, and my life could end — so quickly that I might not even notice. And I couldn’t make myself be afraid. I couldn’t think of anything, except that he was touching me.

OK, that is as far as I’ll go into the physical aspects, but there are other things that concern me.

The damage, real or potential, is not only physical, but emotional. Although I haven’t read past the first book, from what I’ve read/heard elsewhere, there is something of a love triangle between Edward, Bella, and Jacob (even though it’s well established that Edward wins out). Surely there would not be any indecisiveness in Bella’s mind if she was absolutely certain that Edward was the murdering, bloodsucking vampire for HER. (As opposed to the murdering, half-animal werewolf Jacob. Such options! What is a girl to do? /sarcasm)

The fact that she’s indecisive probably means that she’s not sure that Edward is the one—which is good, considering that she’s 17 or so. But if she’s not certain, if they’re not married, then the make-outs, the emotional bonding, the abandon-all-others attitudes and actions that she and Edward demonstrate are all clearly premature and could have serious emotional and physical consequences.

“Bella, you are my life now,” Edward says in the movie. (Does he also say it in the book? I’m not sure.) This is a pretty heavy declaration for two people who have known each other for, at most, a few months. In high school. (Although technically Edward is over 100 years old, and only looks 17, but again, the massive age difference is pretty much the least of their problems.)

Lying in bed together, pouring out their hearts and souls to each other (chapter 14), is also not a good recipe for staving off premature intimacy. I’m just saying…

Lest anyone think I’m getting too legalistic here, I’ll leave you with

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

And

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

A blessed week to you all!

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Oh, my, this is awkward. Apparently the week went by just too, too quickly. And honestly, between Bethany being gone for spring break, and my growing obsession with Twitter, political events to follow and blog, attempts to be social, Netflix DVDs to watch, a ridiculously slow work computer, a visit from my dad, and an upcoming missions trip to prepare for, I guess this blog had to be put on the back burner for a while. My apologies.

So today’s Friday Frivolity (these weren’t intended to always be video clips, btw, it just works out that way) is a clip from the BBC show, “The Vicar of Dibley.” Yes, the vicar is a woman, Geraldine Granger (played by the indescribably wonderful Dawn French), who never seems to find that love of her life. Plenty of men have asked her to marry them, of course, by which they mean they want her to conduct their wedding ceremony … as they marry someone else. But at the end of the series, her turn finally comes.

For any North and South fans out there, yes, that’s Mr. Thornton.

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It’s a good thing I’m a writer on this blog, because I’m going through a nasty bout of, “Blegh, I’m single, grrr, I hate this, blah blah.” So, here’s where the self-medication part comes in:

Just remember this post for when you need to treat yourself to a little period-drama hottness.

And because our girlie breakdowns are usually random but understandable, here’s another favorite of ours:

Please do enjoy.

Almost forgot: I didn’t make either of these videos, I’m just linking to them. If you want to know who did make them, they should be a click away from the originals on YouTube.

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We single ladies love our fictional characters, am I right? The “good” ones inspire us, encourage us, offer a new perspective on just about anything, and we love to cheer them on. We want to see the “bad” ones get their just desserts, or see the light and mend their ways. (How many cliches can you fit into a paragraph?) Male fictional characters, just like in real life, can give us someone to wish for or a bad boy to win over. The tricky thing is that these characters often don’t translate well when it comes to real life. Things are funny that way, aren’t they?

Have you ever known someone who seemed like a real-life version of a fictional personality? I have met several in my day, and they mostly seem to be male. This is, I think, due to the (sad) fact that I “know” more fictional men than real men, and are more likely to compare guys I meet to fictional characters. With women, I have more real-life female acquaintances with whom to compare new people, instead of to fictional characters. I guess I know too many women to often say “She reminds me of so-and-so from that one book/movie/show.”

(Wait, I take that back. Emily Gilmore, from the TV show Gilmore Girls? That is my mom. Not the actress, but the character. All right, exception to the rule, moving on…)

(And Bethany and I actually remind ourselves of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, respectively. All right, I lied. Never trust me. Anyway, moving on NOW …)

Maybe you are intensely practical and obscenely realistic and have never had your thoughts or perspectives influenced by made-up characters. In all seriousness, I congratulate you, but that has never been a strong suit of mine. Many people, whether they know it or not, find it difficult to separate fact from fiction and exercise proper judgment. I’m not trying to sound condescending—I’ve had to deal with it, too! Without the proper perspective, and a healthy dose of realism, just about any work of fiction can have an impact on our real-life thinking. (From what I understand, although an extreme example, this is why pornography can be so damaging; also, why studies show that women who watch too many romantic comedies have a distorted view of relationships.)

Of course, insightful novels, films, and works of art can and should challenge us intellectually, but like I said, it’s about maintaining the proper perspective.

For our first character study, let us look at Jim Halpert from the U.S. version of “The Office.” Cute, funny, and easygoing, Jim is loved/liked/adored by just about everyone. He sends female viewers a-swoon with his hilarious office antics, his sensitive side, and his ability to befriend just about everyone, not to mention his undying love for Pam. Seriously, who wouldn’t want a boyfriend like that?

Well, I certainly did until I met a guy who seemed just like a real-life version of Jim Halpert, at least in terms of personality. We never dated, but I got to know him through a group of friends, obtaining a better look than the one we get of Jim Halpert, which is through a TV camera for half an hour on Thursday nights. Sadly, the sense of humor, so cute in a scripted show, was actually a mask for immaturity and the inability to address more profound subjects. A dead-end job, and failure to challenge himself, indicated laziness and a victim mentality. His “easygoing” personality eventually showed him to be unmotivated. As a Christian, he used “waiting on God” as an excuse for inaction. As a “nice guy,” he didn’t stand up for himself, or for much of anything else, and was constantly compromising.

Now, I am not trying to ruin the image of dear Jim Halpert, or say that you should not watch “The Office”! Neither am I trying to bash the real-life guy just to air old grievances I don’t even have. I do wish him the best and hope that he “got his act together,” as my mother might say. I just want to remind you ladies, including myself, that there is always more to someone than you might think, good or bad. Superficially appealing traits might, in fact, mask deeper issues. If you say “I want a boyfriend just like this guy in [insert movie/book/TV show name],” consider what that might really mean.

Another fictional character I’ve “known” in real life comes from the opposite side of the personality spectrum: Dr. Gregory House, of the medical show “House, MD.” A parody of “House” that I saw online described it as a show written “for women who like abusive men” or something like that. There’s a measure of truth to that description, however funny. I myself don’t care for abuse and I still (mostly) enjoy the show, but why do many viewers find the main character appealing? I mean, he’s rude, verbally and emotionally abusive, manipulative, a drug addict, selfish, arrogant, antisocial, sexist, generally amoral, and for the most part refuses to deal with any of his “issues.”

AND YET he is massively intelligent, often brutally honest, stubbornly sticks to his convictions (such as they are), and, being a doctor, helps to save lives. [Yes, insert swoon here.] The combination of good and bad traits in such a strong personality can be rather heady, don’t you think? Many women viewers, I am sure, experience a triggering of some maternal or nurturing instinct and wish to comfort or heal this “damaged” man, or even want to rise to the classic challenge of “taming” the “bad boy.”

For the love of goodness, beware of this instinct in real life!

Although I was not romantically involved with someone like Dr. House, I have known a guy with a similar personality. Sarcastic and biting, he considered himself very smart and enjoyed putting others down to demonstrate this, without consideration for the feelings of others. He had an uncanny ability to suck the joy out of a room, and made others nervous about speaking up, such a strain was his negative attitude.

People like this can be poison—a little exposure to them may not be bad, and may be unavoidable or even necessary, but too much and it will damage you. The “toxic” person may or may not be aware of it, but should you come across a similar personality in real life, do exercise extreme, prayerful caution—be the person male or female—and practice complete avoidance if necessary.

Of course, as servants of Christ we are called to do good (Psalm 34:14), and forgive our enemies as well as pray for them (Matthew 5:44). We are, however, also to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23), avoid association with wicked people (Psalm 141:4), and demonstrate not even a hint of immorality (Ephesians 5:3). It sounds severe, but this is a way for God to protect His children. Flee from temptation if you cannot withstand it (I Corinthians 10:13) and do not leave yourself vulnerable to abuse of any kind, for example by investing too much, emotionally, in an association or relationship with someone like the characters described above. Being loving does not mean being stupid also. If you know someone like this, again I say, certainly pray for the person, and demonstrate God’s love if your paths cross. But you must also guard your heart, emotions, mind, attitude, and body, and at some point may simply have to shake the dust from your sandals and move on.

Am I saying not to watch these TV shows, or to avoid people who remind you of fictional characters? Am I saying that you should not find the characters interesting, or admire their positive traits? I am most certainly not! Do I still watch House? Guilty! I only want to remind you, and by doing so remind myself, that there does exist a line between reality and fantasy, and that traits in a fictional personality may not be quite so endearing in a real, live person.

I merely wanted to share a cautionary tale based on my own personal experiences, but by all means take it with a grain of salt. Heck, take it like a deer and get a whole salt lick—I don’t mind. Have fun, of course, but exercise caution, and do not leave yourself vulnerable to unnecessary pain. Remember that this is Reality, and we do things differently here.

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