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October Media Companion

Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman | By: Lindy West

I think that I had heard of Lindy West a few times, but I didn’t know how much people loved her until I read her book and joined the club. I’ve read a lot this year about women being forced to view themselves as small, making sure that they don’t take up too much space, and keeping quiet. I can relate to that. I know a lot of women and girls who can relate to that, but I have also read stories about a lot of women who are refusing to be quiet. Lindy West is one of those women, and I’m glad that she decided to be loud because I needed to hear her story and I’m sure that a lot of other women needed to hear it too. Shrill is full of stories about how she became self-aware. I have Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tattooed on my side because I hope that one day I will be too.

The other thing about this book is that it’s really upsetting. There’s a chapter full of tweets that people sent her after she appeared on a TV show to debate rape jokes in comedy. It was hard to get through, and I read about people being trolled all the time, but to see them laid out like that was awful. Plus, that was only a handful, she got hundreds. People commenting on her body, telling her that no one would ever rape her so she had no right to feel threatened. It was a reminder of how unkind people can be, especially to people that are different or look different than they do. Most of the time we like to pretend that hatred doesn’t exist, but when it looks you in the face, it’s hard to ignore it. So like Lindy, I’m going to do my best to be loud, shrill if need be, and refuse to take up only the small amount of space that society thinks I deserve. 

Super You: Release Your Inner Superhero | By: Emily V. Gordon

I love superheroes. I also find comfort in the occasional self-help book. So, when Emily V. Gordon (love her) wrote a self-help book, with a superhero twist, I knew it would be perfect for me. I like self-help books because I never liked going to therapy. I tried for many, many years, but the introvert in me didn’t like having to talk. So, I always found comfort in hearing some of the advice that these books had to offer. Super You had a lot of the same things to say as other books I’d read, but I found the ideas more interesting and accessible when they were set up against a superhero backdrop. Accepting your past traumas became writing your superhero origin story and finding your strengths became compiling your superhero tool belt. It can seem a little silly if self-help books are not your thing, or if you aren’t that into superheroes, but I have always loved stories. I don’t think I’m the best at telling them, but I love hearing them. This book gave me some ideas about how to better tell my own story. It taught me how to be kinder when I talk about myself and how to better use my superhero tool belt to fix my problems and live a healthier, more productive life. Sometimes life is just one long story, so I’m going to make mine interesting, while still staying true to myself. 

Is It Evil Not to Be Sure | By: Lena Dunham

“I’ve always thought that there’s something essentially radical about a woman deciding that her life is worthy of writing down.”

I bought this collection when it came out, but hadn’t gotten around to reading it. Then I had some time during a layover and was able to finish it in one sitting. The passage quoted above is from the introduction, and I couldn’t get that idea out of my head. With our focus on creativity this month, it struck me as really important. The collection is basically a book of sentences, Twitter length sentences, that Lena wrote down between 2005 and 2006 (pre-Twitter). They are just her experiences, things that happened, what someone said, what she did, what she was thinking. It seems mundane, but I’m obsessed with the idea behind them. That no matter who you are, your life is worth documenting, especially if you’re a woman. The world has tried to silence women’s voices for so long that now we feel compelled to take note of every single thing. If not for ourselves, to help the women that will come after us. The experiences that we are having today are a result of the experiences that the women who came before us had. We have all struggled, we have all triumphed, and some of us have had more help than others. If my notes on the things that I’ve experienced can help someone deal with a parents’ divorce, the death of a friend, a break up, a headache, or depression, why shouldn’t I do that? Reading this collection made me want to start journaling again, or just make sure that I have something to write with. I may not always have something to say, but when I do, it matters.

One last quote;

“If I could be didactic about just one thing (although I hope to God that limit is never imposed on me), it would be my belief that young people, young women in particular, must commit their experiences to paper. If for no other reason than this: only you will ever have these particular experiences and we won’t want to have lost them after you go, or forget, or grow up and get terrible snow boots. But you may also find, as I did, that the sentences might become the planks that form a raft that drags you ashore, wet and gasping on a welcome beach.”

I Am Brian Wilson | By: Brian Wilson and Ben Greenman

After it's all been said/The music spinning in our head/Can't forget the feeling of/The magic of that summer love/Ooh, I wanna take you there/Do you wanna turn back the pages/Memories in photographs /The world is changed/And yet the game is still the same.     - "Isn't It Time"

I would consider myself an artist. Over the years I have made it a point to work on different creative projects. I don't limit myself to one medium. One day I could be acting, the next writing, the next interior design, the next creative directing. I am not musically talented (except for playing Maria in the Sound of Music when I was 16) but music has always inspired me. One of my all time favorite bands, a bad I listen to every day, is The Beach Boys. I think I have always loved them because they sing about the beauty and culture of California (being a California girl, I feel like this music was made for me) and falling in and out of love (something that's apart of growing up). Their music fills me with joy. Brian Wilson, the songwriting master from The Beach Boys, wrote a majority of my favorite Beach Boys album, "Pet Sounds". Never in my life have a related more to the lyrics of an entire album. Earlier this year I finally got to see Brian Wilson in concert. It was so inspiring to see a 74 year old iconic musician still doing what he does best. Being at that concert made my heart and my cheeks warm. You could not wipe the smile off my face. 

When his memoir I am Brian Wilson released, I was excited to read something about his life. The memoir breaks down into different sections. All of the sections are based off inspirations in his life: fear, family, foundation, home, fathers and sons, echoes and voices, sun, America, time, and today. As you read, you learn that Wilson's life was more than falling in love with a California girl and going on a surfing safari. He suffered from mental illness and had a rough relationship with his father. Through his struggles, he was searching for the next good sound and a light at the end of his suffering. 

Brian Wilson inspires me to continue to push myself, even when I'm feeling lazy or lacking confidence. The persistence is what's going to get me far. I will continue to work on my projects and try to create something beautiful that I am proud of.

Westworld | Created by: Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan

I’ve mentioned many times before that I am a TV person. So HBO’s highly anticipated Westworld (halted in production many times for many different reasons), was the one of the highlights of the fall TV season for me. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton, which was the source material for a movie and some other failed TV projects. The story is set at a wild west theme park, in the unknown future, where guests can pay a lot of money to live out their wildest fantasies among other humans and hosts (AI). One of the reasons that I was so intrigued by this concept was that it is literally all about stories. The hosts in the park are set up to make their way through certain narratives that are written for them, and tensions rise when they begin malfunctioning. Can they break out of their narratives? Do they remember things from their past narratives or the traumas that they endure at the hands of the guests? This show was made to ask questions and start discussions. It’s very philosophical, and if you want to think about it, you could think about it for a very long time. People will be writing thesis papers about this show.

One of the main issues, that has been brought up by pretty much everyone who’s watching, is the sexual violence against women that the show portrays. It is unsettling, just as it is in every other portrayal on TV, but the creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan asked people to wait for the story to unfold a little bit to judge the show for those choices. I know that that sounds like something we shouldn’t be asked to do, but there have been consequences to those stories where the women have come out on top. In the most recent episode, the main female character Dolores (played beautifully by Evan Rachel Wood) has a real breakthrough. I literally pumped my fist because I want her to win. She is a host, she is an artificial being, but her purpose is to be as human as possible for the enjoyment of the guests. One of the main philosophical questions is the debate over how to feel about the hosts. They aren’t human. So should we feel sad when they die, even though they get restored and come right back? Should we cringe when they are tortured because they can’t really feel it? Those are some of the questions that Westworld is asking, and they are fascinating. I highly recommend this show to anyone who is interested in people and how they interact, or how they act when they think no one is looking. Go watch, then find someone to talk about it with, you won’t be disappointed.