Give Yourself Permission to Turn It Off

There’s always a new TV show. We get a lot of media recommendations from friends, family, coworkers, TV itself. “Try this! You’ll love it!”

So what happens when we don’t love it?

Sometimes we keep watching because our friend is super-excited about a show and wants someone to watch with. Other times we keep watching because we don’t want to be judgmental or legalistic. Maybe it’s the cool new thing.

I’m definitely guilty. I have a lot of friends who are in love with Supernatural, a TV show where two brothers hunt all kinds of supernatural monsters. It sounded interesting, so I watched the first four seasons.

And Supernatural was fun. The brothers’ love for each other is compelling. The side characters are hilarious. But I felt dirty whenever I finished an episode. There was too much darkness for me to handle. I felt like a wimp for giving up so far into, but it wasn’t healthy to keep watching.

So I turned it off.

We talk a lot about not discounting media choices out of reflex. We’ve also had a few posts on being careful about what we chose to watch (here and here.)

Sometimes that moment doesn’t come until a few episodes or seasons in. It’s easy to think, “I’ve already invested sixteen hours into this show. I can’t turn it off now.” But you are the one who has to live with what you watch or listen to, and some of it can be hard to forget. If you ask me which Supernatural episode bothered me the most, I can recount the whole thing in excruciating detail.

Knowing and accepting our own tolerance makes seeing beauty in media easier. It’s easier to see hope and love if I’m not completely distracted and disgusted by other content.

So try that new show or movie. Enjoy media, but don’t feel obligated to keep watching even if you’re in season eight. Give yourself permission to turn it off.

-Josie K.

Daredevil, Flannery O’Connor, and Violence in Media

Marvel recently released a trailer for Daredevil’s second season, introducing the new anti-heroes Punisher and Elektra. (Warning: Trailer briefly shows a crime scene and fighting throughout.)

Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer who moonlights as a vigilante. In the courtroom or on the streets, he protects innocents who can’t protect themselves. Matt is also one of the most religious characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the help of Father Lantom, a Catholic priest, Matt grapples with his motives and his own soul.

The peace of the church is a sharp contrast to the dirt and chaos on the streets. The strongest-stomached viewer will flinch at the gritty picture of Hell’s Kitchen slums. Is the violence justified? Is the harsh picture of evil necessary?

Flannery O’Connor says absolutely. Evil belongs in movies and TV because it’s already in real life. It’s tempting to gloss over the bad, but refusing to acknowledge evil is like pretending it doesn’t exist or will fix itself, which ultimately helps no one. Sin and pain are an inescapable part of reality; the honest writer must confront it with wisdom and careful consideration.

“For the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures.”- O’Connor, “The Fiction Writer and His Country”

Daredevil is absolutely a loud and startling figure. It paints humanity with all its rottenness and hope and reminds us that redemption is not cheap.

O’Connor is right. Evil, in media and in life, is inescapable. Without some cause of conflict, story is impossible. Or at least very untrue. But how much of that evil we see, or can stomach, is something each of us must weigh for ourselves.

-Josie K.

 

5 Ways To Beat Post-Series Finale Blues

Gravity Falls ended this Monday. After two seasons of monsters, twins, and a fight against a demonic triangle, I’ve got the post-series finale blues. No more Mabel jokes, no more mysteries. Now what?

Even if we enjoy television in moderation, it’s easy to get attached to characters or storylines. If we fall into binging five or six episodes a night, it’s worse. We don’t like endings, even happy ones. So here are five ways to bid the finale blues goodbye.

  1. Read a Book

This is my go-to for recovering from a great TV show. The change distracts my brain from wishing Gravity Falls had three more seasons. Check out our tips on finding an engaging book. Even better, try a new genre.

  1. Find a New Show

If no books catch your eye, another option is a different show. Again, a genre switch can be most effective. Just pick one still airing so you aren’t tempted to binge all five seasons on Netflix.

  1. fantasticbig
    In Theaters November 18

    Wait for the Reboot

Reboots/remakes take a long time, but hope tides many fans through finale syndrome. Harry Potter fans rejoice! Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are reviving the magic.

  1. Fanfiction

Fanfiction explores all the favorite moments and missed opportunities. The best ones will recapture the themes, characters, and atmosphere that made the series so amazing. Fanfiction can also be really hit or miss in quality and content, so be cautious if you pick this route.

  1. Share the Love

popcornTV is better with a friend. Whether it’s another post-series finale sufferer or the uninitiated, find a buddy, pop some popcorn, and replay episode one. Enjoy the beauty that hooked you in the first place. Celebrate the best moments together and start conversations about what you see.

Tell us about your experience with post-series finale blues. Is feeling sad after a finale a natural part of enjoying media, or is it a sign we’re too invested in a fictional world?

-Josie K.

 

Kamala Khan: Ms. Marvel Represents

Kamala Khan is shaking up mainstream comics. She’s one of the first leading female teenage in the Marvel-verse and the first Muslim hero with her own series.

kamala khanInstead of falling into stereotypes, Ms. Marvel presents Kamala and her family as living, breathing people. Different from some readers maybe, but people with dignity and challenges. She faces bigotry from villains and kids at school. Her parents are strict because they want the best for her, and she learns from their wisdom. Her family and faith are part of her identity and help her develop as a hero.

Kamala’s story might be different from mine, but she’s a normal teenager too. She’s plays online games, writes X-Men fanfiction, and takes selfies with her heroes. Kamala is in the minority in comics, but that makes her even more inspiring.

As she comes to grips with her newfound powers, Kamala becomes a voice of her generation. When The Inventor calls teenagers parasites and uses them as batteries, she rallies the teens. She reminds them not to buy into the stereotypes other make about them. They have futures and purpose.kamala khan and wolverine.jpg

Kamala’s also learning about herself as she learns about her heroes. She accepts that she isn’t a tall, blonde, TV beauty. She finds friends and mentors to support her and figures out how to be super without double-crossing her faith.

Ms. Marvel is about superheroes, giant robots, and teleporting dogs, but it’s also about being a teenager. Kamala encourages us to see past stereotypes to love our neighbors even when other media tells us otherwise.

-Josie K.

The Innocence of Father Brown and An Evangelical Cynic

My professor called me a cynic yesterday. We were talking about Christian books and movies and how disappointing I and my classmates often find them. They mean well but often feel trite.

I’m often cynical about secular media too. To wonder which of these beloved characters’ sudden but inevitable betrayal I’ll be cursing. To predict how many episodes it will take before it’s just too dirty.

Even when you’re looking for beauty, it can be hard to find. Christian media is too easy. Secular media is too dark. If you don’t expect anything from media, it can’t disappoint you.

father brown
Alec Guinness in The Detective (1954)

Good thing Father Brown is as uncynical as they come.

He’s a Catholic priest/Sherlock Holmes who finds mysteries everywhere he goes. The Innocence of Father Brown is a short story about him, but Father Brown isn’t innocent. Not really.

“I assure you, my ‘innocent’ ears encounter every day stories of a horror that would make your sophisticated hair stand on end. Although I wear funny clothes, and have taken certain vows, I live far more in the world than you do.”

But he isn’t jaded. He hasn’t written humanity off.

His experience makes him an ace detective, but he’s more worried about the souls of the criminals than what they steal. His “innocence” is really a heart attentive to good. It makes me a little less jaded.

Father Brown began in a short story collection by G.K. Chesterton. Now it’s several movies, a miniseries, and a BBC TV show. The earnest, sleuthing priest that keeps people coming back.

For me, it’s the reminder that faith and skill don’t have to be separated. Cynicism might protect me from disappointment, but it makes me less kind and less sensitive to beauty and truth.

I want to be more like Father Brown, who sees goodness even the worst of life.

-Josie K.

What The Middle Teaches Us About The Mundane

  The Hecks aren’t superheroes. They aren’t spies or wealthy 20th-century aristocrats. They’re just a regular suburban family facing the warts and worries of everyday life.

Most of their problems are normal. Help Sue make friends. Keep the laundry mountain under control. Balance that checkbook. Make sure Brick goes outside.

brick updates his blog

Life is chaotic. Sometimes it’s stressful just getting out the door with everything you need for the day. Add a job, cooking, homework, family, friends, and everything else and life is overwhelming. It’s hard to appreciate little victories like matching socks.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed. One of the best ways to deal with it is slowing down. Make the mundane moments count.

At the end of each episode, Frankie and her family have duct taped the crisis back together. Whether it’s a second to breathe or Sue surviving her cheerleading tryouts, there’s something to be grateful for. They grow more from the everyday disasters than they do in the calm.

According to The Middle, the most joy comes in the middle of chaos. Appreciate the forced pauses of the grocery line. Thank the Starbucks barista. Match your socks (or don’t.) Text your parents.

Life is crazy. Take a cue from the Hecks and make the most of ordinary moments.

-Josie K.

Navigating the 2016 Grammys When Third Day Is the Only Artist On Your Playlist

The Grammys are coming. Dazzling stars, funky chords, and top 50 hits all mixed together in one big awards show. In ten days, the Grammys pick their favorite artists, and the nominees are, as usual, a mixed bag.

2016’s nominees cover a huge genre range and some hard content. In one corner, there’s very spiritual, safe “Soul on Fire” by Third Day. In another, Florence and the Machine‘s “Ship to Wreck” explores unsettling self-destruction. “Uptown Funk” has an infectious beat, but flirts with sex and alcohol like they’re normal.

grammy-trophy
The Grammy Awards air February 15 at 7c

The 58th Grammy nominees can look pretty uniformly bad at first glance. There’s plenty to cringe at, but there’s a lot of good too.

 

“See You Again” gently faces friendship and separation in death. 1989 is all about messy, broken relationships but also moving past them. “Thinking Out Loud” shows a faithful relationship that lasts to old age.

None of the nominees are perfect. It can be frustrating to turn on the radio to yet another song about sleeping around. But a common thread is longing. Longing for meaning or identity or hope. Most of the songs look for answers in some pretty broken places. A few stay there and call it good enough. But other artists fix their eyes on better alternatives. Brotherhood, healing, faithfulness.

Very few reach God as their answer, but their search can be beautiful too. The songs can remind us of the human condition and show us good—and not so good—ways to deal with our longing and struggles.

The Grammys might not have the answers, but they can help us voice questions we might not otherwise know how to ask.