Category: arts and entertainment

Thoughts on SJWs

sjwRecently I became aware of a new acronym in the internet nomenclature- SJW. This stands for Social Justice Warrior, which is officially defined by Urban Dictionary as “a pejorative term for an individual promoting socially progressive views; including feminism and civil rights”.  When the term is used correctly it is basically a way to describe an intellectual troll. So these aren’t the people who are just saying someone is a moron or an idiot for liking a movie or book.

No, these are the people who won’t let others have an opinion because their views are ethically and intellectually better. If you have been involved with the internet world you have met someone like this. For example, I’ve heard people claim as if it is a fact that the Little Mermaid is sexist and that Ariel is a bad role model. I happen to see the character and movie differently. A normal person would let me have my view, an SJW will never let it down.

That said, the problem with this grouping is that it has now become an easy accusation for anyone who makes an intellectual argument against something. Let’s take the movie Birdman. I personally found that movie to be misogynistic in troubling ways. Some people would call me an SJW for having this feminist view. However, I don’t think I am an SJW because I allow other people to interpret the film differently. I was a bit frustrated when it won tons of awards but for the most part I don’t care if other people love it. More power to them.  The world would be boring if we all liked the same things, for the same reasons.

I have no problem with people bringing feminist or diversity concerns into a discussion of art, movies or books. This is a good thing we should be discussing. The arts and literature are important catalysts for change in our society. Sometimes reading or seeing a problem is the only way we make things better. It’s not being an SJW to say ‘I wish there were more Asian actresses in movies” or “I wish a woman was allowed to lead a superhero film”.  That is a good discussion to have and creators need to know we want those things.

Like I said, where it crosses the line into the SJW is when you shame others or harass them because they see it differently.  That’s being the reverse of a warrior in my book. It’s being a social justice tyrant! You have to remember that change takes time and rarely is something so misogynistic or hateful that there isn’t a reason someone might like it. Try to see it from others points of view and then explain your own view as succinctly as you can (I know this is a lot to ask for the internet!).

And if you know it is a hot button issue for you than maybe step back a bit and make sure you won’t post something you will regret.  It’s as simple as that. Give people their space to have different opinions, explain yourself as best as you can and then be patient.

On the other side, internet world- try to listen to people’s concerns instead of immediately branding them an SJW. They may actually have something important to share.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What do you think about SJW’s and these types of discussions?

A Few Thoughts on Diversity


So in the last few days youtube has erupted with controversy over the topic of diversity in literature. A youtuber who I do not follow or particularly care for posted a 22 minute video about how diversity was not needed and that all that mattered is good books not the diversity of the characters in said books. I honestly thought her video was kind of insane so I will refrain from posting it here and giving her more views but it is easy to find if you want to.

Anyway, I thought I would bring up a quick point that I think often makes these discussions very messy.

It’s a question of MACRO vs MICRO

Here’s what I mean by that-

In the world of economics there is microeconomics, which is the study of an individual, group or company. This gets you into the nitty gritty of one person’s spending habits or the sales forecasts of a particular business.

Then we have macroeconmics, which is the study of a national economy as a whole. This is where we talk about GDP, trade numbers, national unemployment rates and federal interest rate changes. These are broader, longer trends.

So how does this relate to books and diversity?

Well, it is important to talk about diversity on a macro level.  To look at trends and statistics so that hopefully we can implement small changes to make things better.

I don’t know anyone that thinks having more diverse characters is a bad idea. For example, I’ve always been a defender of faith-based films because I think it is good for that audience to have films that they relate to. It feels good to read a book or view a movie and find characters that feel and look like us. Is not part of the reason we go to the cinemas is to occasionally have someone like us staring back at us? To see our world in new and interesting ways through storytelling?

Just this year I really enjoyed Ghostbusters and for me it was cool to see a woman like Melissa McCarthy in kind of a superhero role. She looks a little like me, and I’ve never seen anyone who looked remotely like me in a superhero movie. That was cool. I can only imagine how much more important that is for someone of a minority race or sexuality.

All of these issues are good to discuss so we can support those books and films that do showcase diversity. Now they still have to be good movies/books. Don’t get me wrong. Niche audiences should not be placated too, but we also should seek out those books and movies that do it right.

Where we get into problems is when we start mixing in a micro level perspective in this discussion. For example, talking about the lack of representation at the Oscars is a good thing because it is looking at movies as a whole and how we can do better.  However, when a particular movie is focused on and declared as racist because it is not diverse that’s taking a macro discussion and making it micro. Certainly racist movies and books exist and should be called out but just because an individual movie does not have a diverse cast does not make it racist.

I also think that authors and directors should be free to write about any culture or race that they want but they should do the job well. I hated Me Before You for a lot of reasons but one was how obvious it was the author had never met a person with quadriplegia before writing her novel about one. That’s irresponsible in my book. If she had done a good job than more power to her. Harper Lee was a white woman from the south and wrote one of the most stirring Civil Rights novels ever. But again we are talking about individual books, which is a micro-level discussion not the macro that is really effective.

It also should be noted that many times those of different ethnicities or races require no real adaptation to include in a book or movie. I mean when I loved Clueless growing up I never thought about Dion being black and Cher being white. They were just 2 girls in a funny movie I liked. 

I do think the macro discussions are making a difference. I don’t know much about the publishing world so can’t speak for that but in movies I am seeing changes. Look at Marvel for example. We are getting Black Panther with a black cast and Captain Marvel with their first female superhero led movie. That’s great!

Next year we get Wonder Woman and I pray that will be handled well. We have Oceans 8 coming out with an all female cast. That has potential to be great. Star Wars has been outstanding in featuring women and a diverse cast in both Force Awakens and Rogue One. Disney has recently had success with Elena of Avalor- their first Latina princess and Moana is going to be an islander with a more natural size and shape to her body. That’s a good thing!

We still have a long way to go but I don’t think we get anywhere when we focus on the micro instead of the macro.

ps. I also want diversity for purely selfish reasons. I get tired of reading the same types of characters with the same backgrounds. Same holds true for the movies. Shake it up!

So that’s what I have to say about that!

What do you think about what I have said? Do you see the difference between a micro and macro discussion? And how do you think we can improve diversity in both movies and books?

Unnecessary Enemies

Last week I had an interesting experience over on my youtube channel. I reviewed a film called Southside with You. This is a romantic comedy about President and Mrs Obama’s first date. As you all know I am a conservative who strongly disagrees with the president on nearly every major issue. As a bit of a joke I even wore my Romney t-shirt from the 2012 election to do my review. The interesting thing is that I actually liked the film. It’s not groundbreaking but a solid, sweet romantic comedy.

What? You say? How could I like a movie about the Obamas? Well, just because I disagree with the President on policy doesn’t mean I think he is a terrible person. From everything I can see he is a good person and he and Michele have a healthy solid relationship. Why wouldn’t I want to find out about their first date? The script was solid and it felt like an authentic voice of a young Barack and Michele. There was one moment where I felt the writers couldn’t help but aggrandize their hero president but for the most part it was about 2 people going on a date and that’s it.

The interesting thing is I posted my review and the next day lost 10 subscribers which is a big dip for me (I just can’t seem to get to that big 1000 sub number!). I don’t know if it was because I said nice things about the president so I upset my conservative viewers or because I wore a Romney shirt and upset my liberal viewers. Either way it is very silly.

Why do we have to turn people who think differently into an enemy? What is so wrong about a conservative person learning and admiring something about a democratic president? Why must we be so partisan to not even listen or admire an opposing view in any way? It’s all nonsense if you ask me! I have actually read both of President Obama’s books and I can see why he thinks the way that he does. I don’t agree with him but I can see his perspective. And isn’t there a famous quote about you never understand your own argument until you can adequately explain your opponents?

I’m not saying Southside with You is some kind of masterpiece but it was an enjoyable romantic comedy.  It certainly was much better than say the Tyler Perry romantic comedies often served up to African American audiences. But the target demographic shouldn’t really matter. We should all be able to appreciate good writing and acting and want to learn more about our elected leaders.

I think it is kind of sad I lost those 10 subscribers but I have gained 6 of them back so good riddens!😉 Life is too short to create enemies where no enemy exists and to not listen to all kinds of perspectives. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

You Saw That?…


Obviously by the title of this blog I am LDS or Mormon. As such I am counseled to try and monitor my media choices and look for things inspiring and free from degrading content. This is obviously getting harder and harder to do all the time but I try to make choices that I feel exist comfortably with my faith. Yet some people are critical of me when they see I am seeing one movie and not seeing another film. Aren’t Mormon’s not supposed to see R rated movies? I must get that question a million times, so I thought I would explain my process and how I determine what to see and not see.

First, I don’t believe not seeing R rated movies is an essential doctrine of my faith. There is no temple recommend question that asks about R rated movies and there is nothing that expressly forbids seeing them except in counsel to youth who technically shouldn’t be seeing them anyway unless over 17. We are taught to get the data, follow the spirit and make the decisions in media for ourselves. Other people chose to not see R rated films and I respect that and for the most part people respect my choices also.

Second, the MPAA is corrupt and stupid. An R rating from the MPAA is practically meaningless in my eyes. Many PG-13 films are more offensive than R rated films but careful editing will barely make it into a PG-13. There are so many sneaky things filmmakers can do that will get a PG-13 rating. For instance, if someone is shot and we don’t see blood that can still be a PG-13. Is it really so much more violent because we see blood? They are still getting shot.

Or a movie can have 3 or 4 swear words, like The Kings Speech or Bully, and get branded with an R rating when something can be full of objectionable content and get a PG-13. It’s nonsense if you ask me. You know what I do? I don’t trust a corrupt ratings board. I get the information myself from and make the decision for myself of what I want to see. I think that is actually a much better way to live my faith than trusting an organization. I make the decision for myself.

I honestly don’t see that many R rated movies. People think there are way more than I actually do. Last year for 2015 I saw 12. There are so many movies I chose not to see because of content and I’m okay with that. I didn’t see Deadpool, The Witch, The Nice Guys, Don’t Breath, The Hateful Eight, Green Room- all films with excellent reviews that I wish I could have seen.

Sometimes I will take a risk like I did with the Revenant. It was at a screening so I wasn’t’ able to do the same kind of research. It was pretty brutal but I’m still glad I saw it.

Third, I know what bothers me. I was thinking about seeing Don’t Breathe but then I heard there was a rape scene in it. That bothers me, so I opted out. There is a rape scene in Batman: the Kililng Joke but it is all off screen and implied and I hated that movie so I guess that was a risk not worth taking. I tend to avoid horror movies but occasionally there will be one I like such as 10 Cloverfield Lane and Ex-Machina. I also don’t like movies where there is a stalker or some other kind of evil influence.

I also know to avoid any film with extreme nudity, sacrilege, and vulgar humor. I can’t remember what the film was but I was researching one recently and it had full frontal nudity and I said ‘nope!’ Skipping that one! I promised my blog readers I’d see every animated film of 2016 but then Sausage Party proved to be more than I could rationalize. I had to say no but I was able to get an amazing guest blogger to do a review, so everything worked out.

I personally chose to not see films edited unless on a plane or something. I know some like doing this but I want to be in or out. If I can’t in good conscience say I have seen the film on my review than what’s the point? There’s plenty of good films out there that I don’t need to see those movies.

The hardest thing to take into consideration is context. To me there is a clear difference between sensuality with a married couple and a stupid fling. Sex is an important part of married life. I think it can figure into storytelling and not be over the top or gratuitous.

Same thing with violence. Historical violence in a battle scene is a lot different than a scene where a person brutally stabs another person. You have personal violence and battle/historic violence.  It’s not the same thing in my eyes.

I also usually ask the question of an R rated film- “Is this important?”. Meaning is this just a silly comedy or is it a movie that will really make me think. 12 Years a Slave for instance has disturbing stuff.  There is no doubt about it but it should be disturbing!  It’s about slavery for goodness sake. To me a film like that is worth it because you grow as a person understanding our history and culture.

Sometimes I just won’t have a good spirit about a film and I can’t even put my finger on it. People may find that arbitrary but no critic sees every single movie. They all have to pick and chose. It just so happens that some films that others love are ones I chose to not see. Trust me, I still see plenty of movies.

So for me there isn’t a doctrinal problem with the films I see. I try my best to do my own research about the content and make an informed decision instead of trusting a corrupt organization like the MPAA. I decide for me what I see! I recognize context and the amount of content. Is it gratuitous or does it really matter in the storytelling?  All of those factors go into my decision.

How do you make your media choices? Do you have a system you use like I would love to hear more.

Spoilers and Spoilerphobia

I’ve been working really hard lately and battling headaches and other issues.  Yesterday I posted a video where I let out a little rant about something that has been driving me crazy- spoilers or SPOILERPHOBIA!!!

I get not wanting to be spoiled on big epic moments but we have come to a point where talking about media or books is almost impossible.  Somebody always ends up yelling ‘spoiler alert’.  It finally got so annoying I had to rant a bit about it!

The spoiler culture we currently have drive me crazy.  What about you?  What do you think about the video?

I would love your feedback.  Thanks


Saturday’s Warrior Review

I normally don’t review movies on this blog very often but since Saturday’s Warrior is an LDS film I felt like it belonged here more.  It was interesting because I saw Everybody Wants Some, the new film from Richard Linklater today along with Saturday’s Warrior.  Both films are set in the late 70s and both are heavily nostalgic and both rely on music to tell their stories.  It’s funny because on the surface they couldn’t be more different but seeing them back to back I saw some similarities. To read my review for Everybody Wants Some go here.

Anyway, let’s talk about Saturday’s Warrior.  Based on the popular stage play written by Lex de Azevedo, Saturday’s Warrior is a musical focused on a Mormon family in the 1970s.

It starts in the premortal spirit life where the family is gathered to say goodbye as each of them leave to join their earthly family.  The oldest Jimmy and Pam promise the youngest Emily that they will make sure their parents don’t get tired of having kids before they can have her, the 8th child.

Then Julie, the second daughter, sings to her love Tod that they will find each other on earth. The last group is Wally Kestler who is desperate to go on a mission and convert the world.

saturdays warriorOnce they get to earth things get more complicated with the appeal of that darn old rock and roll music (gets you every time!) and Jimmy gets dragged into a band that is up to no good.  They even start singing a song literally called ‘Zero Population’ criticizing his big family and threatening the birth of little Emily.

Meanwhile Tod hasn’t been born with the gospel and is an artist and poor Elder Kestler doesn’t have much luck on his mission (until he meets Tod…spoiler alert).

The main appeal to this movie is the songs.  If you have nostalgia for the songs than you will probably enjoy it.  There is no attempt to lessen the camp at all and this is true for the songs.  Aside from having popular Mormon singers like Alex Boye involved they feel like they are straight from the 1970s.

saturdays warrior2I guess you either go with that kind of vintage feel or you don’t.  There’s also no attempt to update the production either.  It might as well have been shot on the Brady Bunch set how low budget 1970s it looks.  That has some appeal but wears thin after a while.

One thing that was weird is the camerawork seemed off the entire time. I am wondering if there was something wrong at my screening.  It felt like everything was chopped off.  You’d have characters talking and their foreheads would be chopped off of the shot.  It was very weird but when I watch the trailer I don’t see that happening.

saturdays warrior3The acting feels low budget and it is a religious film where the Mormon way is the right way and the other is the way of the devil.  Not a whole lot of in between.  If you are looking for a subtle movie about faith this is not the film for you. It’s very cheesy but I knew that going into it.  No surprises there!

Unfortunately the acting isn’t very good and it all feels like a Mormon episode of Saved by the Bell.

If you are a big fan of the music than you will probably enjoy it.  I had fun with it on that level but I can’t really recommend it.  It’s not a good movie but not the worse thing I’ve seen either so take that for what you will.

Overall Grade- D+ (2/5 stars)

My youtube review- If you like this review I would really appreciate subscribing to my channel or giving it a thumbs up.  Thanks!

You Are What You Media Tag

Hey friends!  Today I posted a fun tag over on my channel.  I was tagged by my friend Matthew Aronhalt who is doing a top 300 movies list over on his channel.

The tag asks you to list 3 things that influenced you or made you who you are. I tried to pick stuff that influenced me when I was a little.


  1. To Kill a Mockingbird
  2. Little Women
  3. Anne of Green Gables


  1. Les Miserables
  2. The Beach Boys
  3. REM


  1. The Simpsons
  2. Fairy Tale Theater
  3. Boy Meets World


  1. Little Mermaid
  2. Home Alone
  3. Clueless

Social Media

  1. Roger Ebert
  2. Rob Cesternino
  3. Car Talk

If any of you would like to do the tag please do! It’s really interesting to think about the media that influenced you.

Here’s Matthew’s tag video