An Eternal Struggle

An Eternal Struggle

So my last blog was crap. I was frustrated by a lack of information, and I just really needed to get it typed up. I’m not proud of it but this one will be better! In the last post we took a look in to the things that Heath Ledger and the film crew took to make the Joker seem like a madman, and while I was looking around I found an article claiming that in the 1989, Tim Burton directed Batman, the main character is a schizophrenic. I found this to be a very interesting subject, and it got me thinking about the relationship between the Joker and Batman, and what makes these two such an incredible pair to watch, after all ” they are essentially similar yet almost completely opposite” (Terrill, 325). Terrill then goes on to say “an indication of their essential similarity is the psychological profile of Napier that Wayne reads; violent mood swings, highly intelligent, emotionally unstable; aptitudes include science, chemistry, and art. The same profile could be used to describe Batman/Wayne” (Terrill 326). Has a more true comparison ever been made? Both wear costumes, both go out at night with the intent of hurting other people. It can be argued that one is going out to hurt the “bad guys” but isn’t that really just a matter of opinion? Every reincarnation that we have ever seen of Gotham has been a dying city controlled by various crime lords. Would it be so hard to believe that in his own twisted way The Joker is trying to save the city he loves by hurting those that he views as bad? Highly intelligent is easily seen in both. Batman has been described as the World’s Greatest Detective, and it’s easy to buy in to considering that Batman, a mere human, has defeated the god-like Superman multiple times. As for the Joker, would anyone without a fair amount of intelligence be able to pull of the tricks, and schemes that he does against the “World’s Greatest Detective?” So we have established how similar they are, but that alone isn’t enough to keep audiences drawn in I think the best description out there is from the late Heath Ledger’s role “This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object” (Nowlan, The Dark Knight). The audience just can’t look away from watching the eternal clash that these two juggernauts of the nerd world are eternally locked in. In the end what it all comes down to is order and chaos. Each stands for one, and it’s pretty apparent which, but something that I am becoming increasingly interested about is given all that the Dark Knight has been through, can we really trust that he is completely sane? If not is he really the warrior of order that we have all come to believe he is?     RESOURCES   The Dark Knight. Dir. Christopher Nolan. Perfs. Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Gary Oldman. Warner Home Video, 2008. DVD Terrill, R. (1993). Put on a happy face: Batman as schizophrenic savior. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 79(3), 319-335. This photo was taken from Pixabay.

Why So Serious?

So I promised you a question of great interest in the subject of acting in this post. It was going to be what are the psychological effects that acting have on actors/actresses. Unfortunately, either the research isn’t there or I am just not searching correctly for me to fall down that rabbit hole. That being said in this post we are going to inspect one of the most psychologically demanding parts in all of acting, The Joker. To be more specific we are going to cover Heath Ledgers take on one of the most iconic roles in the entire comic book universe. A lot of people view Ledger’s Joker as the best ever to bless the silver screen. On the other hand some may argue that his death shortly before the release of the movie had an effect on how well his rendition was received, and there are a lot that feel that Mark Hamill is the best Joker seeing that he is the one who gave him his iconic laugh. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum very few can deny that Ledger’s take was anything short of incredible to watch as it unfolded. What I am more curious about, however, is what did Ledger, and the filmmakers, do to make such a lasting impression. The opening scene sees a series of bank robbers, who were hired by the Joker, being killed off by their teammates while robbing the bank. Finally, we are down to one robber who pulls off his clown mask and The Joker “appears disheveled, with unkempt, long green hair and messy clown makeup. His mouth is outlined in red that extends to cover scars at both corners”(Camp 146.) Prior to this movie, The Joker’s appearance has been roughly the same a bright purple suit, slicked back green hair, and perfect face paint. This new appearance comes in stark contrast to most viewers initial thought of the character, and it does a great job by mirroring “his increasingly unpredictable behaviors” (Camp 146) by making his hair look greener, and giving us the iconic purple suit, which is of course just as disheveled as our villain. Throughout the film the language that the other characters use when referencing The Joker help show just how insane he really is. Freak, clown, strange, are all used to show the “normal” persons reaction to him. He even refers to himself as “a dog chasing cars, who wouldn’t know what to do if he actually caught one.” (Nowlan, Dark Knight) The last big thing that contributes to Ledgers wonderful performance, is the unpredictable series of events that get more animalistic as the film goes on. “The Joker enacts the maddog epithet by shaking his head out the window of a car after blowing up the Major Crimes Unit.” (Camp 146). Similarly, his reactions to various events are the exact opposite of what people expect. Like laughing when being hit, or threatened with death. Ultimately Christopher Nowlan, and Heath Ledger are able to blend these things together to create the most chilling version of the comic book worlds creepiest clown.   The Dark Knight. Dir. Christopher Nolan. Perfs. Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Gary Oldman. Warner Home Video, 2008. DVD Camp, Mary, Webster, Cecil, Coverdale, Thomas, Coverdale, John, & Nairn, Ray. (2010). The Joker: A Dark Night for Depictions of Mental Illness. Academic Psychiatry, 34(2), 145-149.

Acting Through The Ages

Acting has been a part of human life for a very long time, and why wouldn’t it be? Doesn’t the vast majority of children spend most of their first years on this world pretending to be a character in some story they’ve created in their head? A quick look on Google and you can find that it is believed to have originated with the Greeks in 6th century BC, and that a man named Thespis is considered to have been the founder of the profession. The story is that Thespis used to go around reciting poetry and pretending to be the various characters from the story, and it is because of this many that we use the term thespians to describe actors. The Greeks thought of acting as an art and began playing out scenes from their religion in stages known as  amphitheatres.

There were a few hiccups along the way, looking at you ancient Christians, but eventually sometime around the 1500’s acting became what most people envision when they think of how it was performed in the ancient world. Despite my personal feelings for any of his work the best way to describe it would be to ask you to picture the works of William Shakespeare. There’s a little bit of controversy when it comes to that man and a small percentage of people think that he didn’t even write the works that gave him credit. However, he was a playwright and not an actor so that’s as much of that topic as we are going to cover.

Even with the theatres growing popularity, there were very few people in the world that thought of acting as a respectable profession. Then came Hollywood, and the illusion that times were changing. In no way am I denying that most people have a little bit of respect for the people we see in our favorite movies and T.V. shows, and they most definitely should. These individuals work tirelessly, and a lot put their bodies through some very demanding things just to entertain us. The problem comes when you consider the individuals that aren’t famous, making millions of dollars every time they step on the set. Like a relatively unknown actor for a traveling play, or the average guy or girl that says they want to be an actor. We may smile and tell them we wish them the best of luck, the reality is that inside a lot of people are thinking “have fun being a waiter! I don’t think that one can be blamed if they ever do have these thoughts especially considering how high the unemployment rate is for actors. What I do find terrible though, is that despite all  of the incredible advancements we have made in the field of acting, when it comes to how we feel about the vast majority of actors/actresses our views haven’t changed much in hundreds of years.

Focused inquiry… Take two

Hello Friends! So I made a huge mistake when I wrote that last blog post for Focused Inquiry. I was sick, missed a day of class, and ultimately did not completely understand the project when I wrote it. I was under the impression that I would need to cover a lot of broad information about a topic. Instead the goal is to start off with a broad subject and find some rabbit hole within that subject that we can fall down, and we will end up with a great deal of knowledge about that one specific piece. That being said I am going to change the topic of my blog. I may take a hit on points with that, but I feel that this is the best choice moving forward and that my final product will be much better for it. Drum roll please! The new subject is going to be acting! Ill finish up here talking about my interest in acting, next I will talk about some history of the subject and then by the third post we are jumping in to one of my biggest questions when it comes to the subject! I don’t want to spoil anything now but I think it’s a pretty fascinating question and one that most people will truly enjoy discovering the answer to as we continue our journey. So, my personal connection to acting. Well I would have to say the biggest thing is that I love all types of film. Whether it is the latest blockbuster hit, unheard of television shows, or some off the wall anime I can, and do, spend hours embarking on various journeys across every genre there is. I love a compelling story, but even when the story falls short I love appreciating the talent that individuals show by making their audience truly believe that they are the person that is being seen on screen. This is even more amazing when the actor/actress is able to shrug off their normal character, and be something that no one ever expected them to be. Think Bruce Willis before Die Hard. The role was turned down by a lot of individuals before it finally ended up going to Bruce. Even then they didn’t even put his picture on most of the posters advertising the film because he was seen as a comedic actor at the time, and the studio was worried no one would take the film seriously. He completely reinvented himself and was able to star in one of the few movie series that was just as good with every film! Well, at least up until the fourth one. After that the series hit a wall and just kind of died out, but that doesn’t really matter. The incredible thing to see was that this comedic, family man was able to make everyone believe that he was just as good at saving the day with a gun as he was with a few laughs. That is my favorite thing about watching people act and I don’t think that is ever going to change.
Blog Post 2

Blog Post 2

YAY! It’s blog time again!

In these last few weeks we have covered quite a bit! We started this portion by talking about relationships both healthy and terrible. Within that we talked about the ways that both types of relationships can affect us as people. The second thing we covered was what types of drugs various personality types are most likely to use. I found out that my scores were all a little on the high end, but my score for sensation seeking was the most ridiculous. I can’t remember what the exact number from class was, but either a score of thirteen or fourteen meant that individuals in that category were very likely to try out most any drugs they could get their hands on. The name says it all on this one these individuals  desire to seek out new sensations, so it makes sense that they dabble a little bit in everything. Well it’s a little bit ridiculous, and also rather fitting, but my score was twenty two! That’s is not an excited exclamation point, but one of shock. Like I said it is rather fitting but to see a number that high kind of blew my mind when I first looked at the paper. I would really like to learn more about the fifth category which was psychosis. This one talked more about psychedelics and which individuals are most likely to use them. Unfortunately, there is not much research in the area so the professor did not go in to too much detail.  Next we jumped back in to one of my favorite subjects of the year, POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY! Only this time we dived in a little deeper and talked about various interventions that we can use on ourselves, or that doctors can use to help individuals that struggle with their mental health problems. The great thing is that it doesn’t even need to be that extreme, we can use these interventions to help out if we’re simply having a bad day, and the effects will still be uplifting. Lastly we covered social/emotional learning. This piece had a lot of really fun parts and it was great to see how positive the results were when elementary schools started implementing programs to help students become more knowledgeable of this topic. I also found it a little funny that the professor mentioned there are times that the teachers have a harder times than the students do with the programs, and I find it very fitting. I’m pretty sure that I mentioned this in my last blog but I don’t really let emotions run any part of my life, rather I keep them in check, if I acknowledge them at all, and run my life based on logic and reason, so I would definitely be one of the people that struggled with the program if I were thrown headfirst in to one.

Overall, I think that one of the biggest themes of the last few weeks was self awareness, and different things that we either can do, or should be aware of to make ourselves the best people we can be. I would love to be able to say that I jumped headfirst in to one of these things and have started making a lot of life changes for the better, but the fact is that that just isn’t true. I am slowly trying to become more aware of the social and emotional learning subject, because I think that it will help me connect a lot better in my romantic relationship. Unfortunately, I have spent a long time viewing emotions, especially extreme ones, as a hindrance, and an obstacle that can be dangerous when trying to decide the best course of action. Those habits die hard, but the thing I’m really working towards is being able to identify the emotions of others, and being able to connect with them even if I don’t feel the same things that they do.

This photo was pulled from pixabay.

I hate coming up with titles for things

I hate coming up with titles for things

Greetings fellow travelers!

Well, yet again I have been given an assignment to create a blog for school, and to make matters even more interesting this will be an ongoing series of posts with one central theme. To be completely honest, at first I was a little annoyed by this project. I’m not the biggest fan of blogs and most of my experience with them comes from annoyingly skimming over them while I try and find the steps for some recipe I found on Pinterest. Seriously, why does everyone have to have a two page story about why they thought of making a certain food? Why do so many people care about the reasons behind it? Just give me the recipe so I can make my food and go about reading something more interesting! Alas, there was no avoiding this so I set to trying to think of a subject that was interesting enough that I would actually enjoy researching, and writing about, for the next month and a half or so. In the end I was left with two subjects. Video games or drugs?

This was a very hard question for me to answer. Both of these subjects have been a lifelong interest of mine and both are things that I thoroughly enjoy learning about.  I even tried to think of a way that I could tie the two together but couldn’t really come up with anything interesting. So I started trying to figure out which would be more interesting to a reader. Whenever I have tried talking about video games to someone who doesn’t play them I have been met with a blank stare, or been given the response “But there’s just so much to do in this world, why would you want to spend so much of your time sitting in front of a television?” I have had a lot of conversations like this throughout my life, and ultimately it has led me to the conclusion that for those who don’t play them, video games just aren’t very interesting.

On the flip side drugs are more taboo. People get awkward if drugs come up in a casual conversation. It’s even worse when I mention to someone that I have tried a certain drug, or recount an experience that I have had after taking one. What I have found though, is that even for people who have never tried them by the end of the conversation they seem genuinely interested, and usually walk away having learned a thing or two.

I probably know what you’re thinking about now. “This guy is  going to try and convince me why drugs should be legalized, or how good they are.” Rest assured that is not the case. Drugs are illegal now and despite this most everyone can try anything they like, so that conversation is a waste of everyone’s time. Instead I want to go a little further in to the topic. Which drugs appeal to different types of people? How do the actual effects compare to what people think, or how they are portrayed in movies? How ancient civilizations used them, their role in various religions, and how can they be used to help people the people in our world? Throughout this series we’re going to cover all of these topics so stay tuned and have  a wonderful day!



The photo was borrowed from pixabay.

A Month in the Science of Happiness

A Month in the Science of Happiness

I am a very blunt and honest person. Some of the things you read may sound slightly offensive or may make me out to be an inconsiderate asshole. While that may be true just know that I will only speak the truth as I see it, and I’m working on the asshole part.

I haven’t ever been one that puts a lot of thought in to mental and emotional health. I don’t have depression, or anxiety issues, and despite admitting that I can be a little emotionally dumb I do consider myself to be mentally healthy. Because none of these things have ever troubled me, I haven’t ever cared what other people have to do or say to think the same of themselves. This is probably a huge indicator of why social intelligence is the second lowest item on my via strengths survey. This was never a problem for me until I started dating my girlfriend a while back. She has a degree in psychology, deals with chronic anxiety of her own and to top things off she is an oh so very sensitive soul. To put it plainly she is the exact opposite of me, and she is the main  reason I am in this class. Before her I pretty much had my mind made up that people who had chronic anxiety or depression were mentally weak, and were choosing to wallow in their own self pity. Gloomily looking at everything in life because they can’t let themselves go for a little bit and just enjoy it. If I’m being completely honest there is a small part of me that does still believe it. I’ve had deaths of close relatives and friends, been treated like the absolute lowest scum on the face of the planet for an extended period of time, had an ex wife leave me, and lived through a war where I saw some absolutely terrible things. Yet, I have never once experienced depression or anxiety, and sometimes just can’t entertain the idea that people do.

So when I needed another slot filled in my schedule, and my advisor mentioned this class it was met with skeptical excitement. On one hand I may not buy in to all of it, but at the very least I would get an opportunity to learn about some things that I don’t think I would have researched on my own, and just maybe I would learn a couple ways to be a better partner.

Throughout the first month of this course we have covered a lot of information from what exactly constitutes mental health, depression, and anxiety to positive psychology and how cultivating our own strengths can help with all of those things.

Week one we covered Keyes model of mental health and what it means to be flourishing or languishing. In that we also learned that the absence of mental illness does not equal mental health. A few weeks later we took a similar test in the PERMA survey I feel that the questions were a little better written and that it was a better indicator. Week two we learned that about half our mental makeup comes from our genetics and most of the other half comes from intentional activity. Which means that even if you inherited some depression or anxiety from your family you can most definitely still overcome those through the things you choose to do. Three was over positive psychology, as well as forgiveness and how hard that can be. Week four was over our strengths and virtues. Last but not least depression and anxiety disorders was covered in week five.

I have learned that people who deal with anxiety or depression are not just mentally weak individuals. They actually have a chemical imbalance that will help contribute to their problems. In addition, a lot of people don’t have the ability to overcome these problems without professional help. When they do actually go to see a professional one thing that they may utilize for their treatment is positive psychology. Which is getting individuals to live meaningful virtuous lives and hoping that that leads to lasting happiness. In order to do that they would first need to identify what strengths the patient has, as well as what strengths they value using a tool like the VIA strengths and virtues surveys we took. Once those have been identified the patient and counselor will begin to cultivate and focus on those strengths to hopefully help them live more meaningful lives.

The part that stuck out the most to me was the portion on positive psychology and the strengths and virtues. I think the reason that it did is because as we were learning about these things I realised that I have always been very aware of my strengths and used my them to help live a virtuous life that I have found a lot of meaning in. In turn I believe that this has greatly benefitted me in keeping me from ever having to personally deal with anxiety or depression issues. In short I was using these methods before I ever learned about them, and i believe they work.

Before this assignment I did not really try to connect the individual weeks together but after I started I had a lot of fun trying to connect them together, and very much look forward learning more in the coming weeks and seeing the ways they all tie together.

this photo was pulled from pixabay