Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I vo(mi)ted


Election Day is next week! Yes friends, the polarizing parade of lies is almost over! As of next week, no longer must we block our "friends" for posting annoying, partisan rhetoric. No longer must we endure an idiot's understanding of rape, flip-flopping, or (God forbid) another debate. Soon, we will be free of these multi-million dollar vagina monologues. 

I haven't voted since 2000. I don't see the point. Our current Electoral College system is such that certain “battleground” states will elect the President. No matter which candidate I back, my state and my vote will mean little, if anything.

Still, I was planning to vote this year. There are some local elections and a few propositions that I am passionate about, so I figure I might as well go stand in line for a few hours. To prepare, I sat down with my voter’s guide, started to read over the propositions, and was promptly disgusted. The arguments for and against this year’s batch of propositions so insulted my intelligence, that it made me want to throw things. 

For example:


So either I’m further damaging our economy by throwing money down a hole to feed rapists (there’s that issue again) and cop killers, or I’m saving wasted tax dollars to protect innocent men, whilst getting more rapists and cop killers off the street. The sensationalism and manipulation are enough to turn anyone off. Are you for or against? Are you Liberal or Conservative? Democrat or Republican? Coke or Pepsi? Paper or Plastic?



Since honesty is off the table and it seems that spin is the order of the day, I find myself yet again disenchanted. If I could ask for anything in this election, it would be for more choices. My favorite candidate, Racist Ron Paul, wasn't even taken seriously. In my opinion, the corporations decided that they couldn't control him like they could Romney, and so Ron was marginalized and written off. The media convinced many that Ron Paul was a tin foil hat wearing idiot, and poor Ron didn't have enough money to convince them otherwise. 


Both guys are working at their own self interest while claiming to act in the best interest of your bank account and your sex life. Our quest to make and keep as much money as possible is almost as polarizing as where one puts his penis. Meanwhile, these clowns spend millions trying to become President, and we’re all supposed to believe that they're doing it out of the kindness of their own hearts. They want to be President because they love America so much, right? We as a country constantly ask "What's in it for me?", and these powerful millionaires give up 4 years of their lives to do the most stressful job in the world for (by comparison) chump change? I was born at night, but I wasn't born last night.



The corporations make it rain like Little Wayne so that their pony gets picked, and yet, these candidates will wax patriotic, as if they give a crap. Well if you love America so much and you want to serve, why aren't you in uniform? Where were you in Vietnam, Mitt? I volunteered to serve this country because I believe that the people of the US are worth fighting for, but our political system is screwed. There's so much bureaucracy and blind allegiance to a given party that things rarely get done. And who is paying for all of this red tape? We are, sometimes with our lives. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Success?




Yesterday I was watching a show on USA and I saw one of the leads getting into his private car just moments after discussing his multi-thousand dollar suit, and his $500 hair cut. Immediately I began to question my lot in life and what I had. I had thoughts like:

  • I want a private car. 
  • My suits don't cost that much. Do I look cheap? 
  • Who pays $500 for a hair cut? 
  • I'll never be able to live like that. I fail. What am I doing wrong? 
  • I should be a lawyer. 

There is a war going on inside me. On one side is the strong knowledge of who I am and what I value. On the other is the media telling me their opinion of who I should aspire to be, and what I should value. As I consider myself to be a confident, secure person, this battle shouldn't last long. The world fires off their barrage of missiles, and like the third little pig I hunker down inside my truth shelter and weather the storm. Unfortunately, the storm doesn't end. I love TV and film so much that I am right back on the battlefront fast forwarding through the lies and praising God above for DVR. Like Rambo, the media never seems to run out of ammunition. 


Somewhere someone is living like Harvey Specter but the reality is that most of us do not. As Tyler Durden said, "Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need." So in moments of clarity, in other words when I put down the remote and I am honest with myself, I realize the err of my ways. Still, I wonder why the media dangles the proverbial carrot so often. 



Chances are you or someone you know really liked "Sex and the City", but do you realize how utterly unrealistic Carrie Bradshaw's lifestyle is? In a given episode, her outfit alone is more than a typical columnist would make in month, and let's not talk about her apartment, constant cab rides, drinks, and parties with friends. When your characters wear shoes that cost more than my rent, you have truly lost touch with reality. 

And it's not just TV and film. Pick up a magazine. There are ads there for the latest car, make up, perfume, and/or cologne, all showing the lifestyle that you dream of and promising that their product will help you feel like you're there. Or if you listen to hip hop, it won't be long before you're inundated with (fake) success stories and braggadocio. I rarely listen to the radio but yesterday I turned on Power 106 and heard this:


"Lamborghini Mercy
Your Chick She So Thirsty
I’m In That Two Seat Lambo
With Your Girl She Tryna Jerk Me"

Perhaps Kanye and whomever else on the track can afford a $400,000 car but why is my broke ass listening to it? How many people listening are driving a Lamborghini? It's nonsense. 




A steady diet of lies and misinformation can't be good for the soul. With this in mind I once again I defer to the gospel of Tyler Durden: "We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off."



Future Featured Guest



I just watched Morgan Spurlock's Comic Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope and I feel as if I just got off a roller coaster. It is an excellent film. I was impressed with the pace, tone, and the unabashedly truthful nature of the film, and watching it evoked so many different emotions! It was nice seeing some of my friends in the film, but it was even nicer seeing the dreams comes true and the realization potential of the artists and costumers that use Comic Con as a proving ground for their talent. 

There's a part of me that feels like I am separate from or too cool for that culture, but there's an even bigger part of me that knows the truth. I am exactly who the folks in the film are talking about in that I aspire to become a (bigger and more influential) part of the industry side, and because I do genuinely feel a sense of welcome, belonging, and acceptance at comic book and sci-fi conventions that I don't feel anywhere else. I've never been to Comic-Con in San Diego but at Comikaze Expo (the best Con I've ever been to) and to a lesser extent at WonderCon, LBCC, and other shows I was among like-minded people, and I most definitely felt understood.


Because of the crowds and the difficulty getting a ticket I've always said, "I'll go to Comic Con when they invite me." And yet, I'm going to Comic Con next year. I was approved for my Professional badge and Vigilante Project got a table in the Small Press section. Despite my delusions of grandeur and my fantasy of being a featured guest in Hall H, I realize that this is in fact the mecca for Geeks, Nerds, and Fan Boys and I want to make a pilgrimage. Besides, I have books to sell.

If you haven't seen the film yet, do so asap. While you watch it, I will be busy perfecting my craft so that someday I will be invited as a featured guest. Hall H, are you ready for me?

Friday, October 19, 2012

From the Sarlacc Pit





All right, I admit it. For years I chased money instead of chasing my passion. Call it fear, cowardice, or an unplanned pregnancy but I traded in my Thundercats t-shirt for a suit and tie, and dove head first into cubicle hell. Years later my son is now old enough to wipe his own ass, and I desperately wanted to like the person that I saw staring back at me in the mirror. So I started writing again.




It started out innocently enough. I grabbed a Syd Field book and a copy of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Screenwriting” and attempted to get my Sorkin on. Next thing you know I’m writing and creating comic books and loving it! I made myself available for freelance work and in came the requests for financial articles (makes sense given my experience) and sales pitches thinly disguised as editorial pieces. Are you concerned with the depreciation of the US Dollar? Read one of my articles and you will be.

Because of this pesky thing called hunger I am still forced to punch the clock. However now I am looking for work with a creative outlet. Hey, I've been laid off twice in 3 years and I figure I have nothing to lose. I’ve gathered the Dragonballs, and I’ve made my wish. 

I imagine my competition is steep. There are probably dozens of recent grads with bulging portfolios and new suits from Men’s Wearhouse, but have they ever pulled a Boba Fett and climbed out of a cubicle shaped Sarlacc pit to freedom? I have! My life experience, determination, and new sense of direction make me feel like I can take on the world. Cue the music from “8 Mile” because this is my shot and I’ll do whatever it takes to make the most of it.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

George Zimmerman's Arrest and the Big Bad Media

Today George Zimmerman was arrested. I won't bore you with the details, but I will tell you that the reaction has been quite interesting. One side cheers while the other groans, and those on the grumbling side are quick to blame the media. I've read complaints about the pictures that they chose to post, the editing of audio tapes, the carousel of terms used to describe Zimmerman's ethnicity, and more. These are all valid issues and concerns, but in my opinion blaming the media is pointless. Sure they fanned the flames of public outcry/outrage but what did you expect? They have advertising to sell so they can continue their pandering. 

What's more is that now everyone involved is under the microscope. I've read discussions on the DA, the Sanford Chief of Police, and the investigators on the case, all of whom are suspected of (if not already convicted for) having an agenda. 

I know that not everyone's motives are pure, but doesn't that go both ways? I believe that everyone, including the DA is innocent until proven guilty. I also believe that the only way to condemn or to exonerate Mr. Zimmerman is to put it to our judicial system, as flawed as it may be. The lead investigator on the case wanted to arrest Zimmerman the night of the shooting but was told that there wasn't enough evidence. Was he overzealous? Perhaps. Was he affected by the media? No. 

What about his superiors that decided there wasn't enough evidence, what was their motive? Are they careless? Racist? Or was there truly not enough evidence and if so what's changed? Did they succumb to media pressure? I'm sure that had something to do with it, but are you telling me that everyone at the local, state, and federal (yes the FBI is involved) are all spineless jellyfish caving to media pressure? Would all of these professionals put their careers and reputations on the line for a case that doesn't hold water?

In the end, if the charges and the arrest are truly unfounded, there are a few hundred investigators, detectives, crime scene investigators, District Attorneys, and Federal Agents with egg on their faces and blemishes on their career files. Why? For the big bad media? Since when did media become synonymous with mafia? Can the media have you whacked? Did the media put a horse head under all of their sheets? If you call shotgun and the media sits behind you in back, get out!

Truth is, we don't have all the facts. Those that do have decided to make an arrest. Some of you will not be happy with the results of this case and that's because you have already chosen a side. If he's convicted you'll say he's being made an example of, or that he's being sacrificed for fear of riots and such. But if he's freed you'll say that the same flawed justice system that you were complaining about today, and that same, opportunistic DA got it right this time. The other side will see it exactly the opposite way. And what of the media then? When the smoke clears, will your praise the media or curse it?

You say that you want justice and I do too, but how would your desires for justice change if it were a black shooter and a white victim? What about if both parties were white, or Latino? What if this happened in a poor neighborhood? Would it even make the news? How much power would the big, bad media have then? 

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Do I Look Suspicious? Thoughts on the Trayvon Martin killing.


When we decided to give our character Alvin Gentry a hoodie, we chose it for both its innocence and its treachery. We liked the hooded sweatshirt’s ability to obscure our hero’s identity, and because of the hooded sweatshirt’s popularity, we figured that it would allow Alvin to blend in. We reasoned that a person wearing a hoodie would not immediately be considered a threat (boy, were we wrong), and finally, we considered the weather. In New York, in early spring, one might need a jacket.

Thanks to the Trayvon Martin debacle, the hooded sweatshirt or hoodie has taken center stage. Political pundits like Geraldo Rivera are blaming an article of clothing, stating that it contributed to the crime. 

Alvin Gentry is a sophomore at NYU, and he has an NYU purple hooded sweatshirt. It's that simple. At least it was. The irony of our character, a young black male wearing a hoodie as Trayvon did the night he was killed has not escaped us. Our guy is a violent vigilante that carries weapons under his sweatshirt. Trayvon was carrying Skittles. The two could not be more different, but to many, they look exactly the same. 

I didn’t know Trayvon Martin and I don’t know George Zimmerman. Chances are neither do you. I can’t speak to their personalities, and I have no interest in debating the details of the case. But while we’re all caught up in the particulars, we’re missing the big picture. The driving force behind this incident and behind most of the reactions is fear.

You say that you want justice and I do too, but would your desires for justice change if it were a black shooter and a white victim? What about if both parties were white, or Latino? What if this happened in a poor neighborhood? Would it even make the news? Would you march, protest, or post pictures in solidarity then?

Fear is what causes suspicion, and I believe that fear is what led this young man’s death. George Zimmerman was afraid of Trayvon Martin, and now gun owners are afraid of losing their rights, politicians are afraid of losing their standing and their money, and just about everyone is afraid that something like this could happen to them or someone they love. In my opinion, fear is behind most of the things that are being said in the media, and fear is what is fueling the reactions in social media.

It's likely the Trayvon Martin killing has already changed your life in one way or another, but how we choose to react to this tragedy can and will shape our future. Maybe you identify with Trayvon Martin. Perhaps you identify with George Zimmerman. But until we recognize that the true enemy is our own preconception these kinds of things will continue. Until we focus on a person’s character and NOT their clothing, we are and will be truly lost.

- Chris Dickens




“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.