American Girl doll Girl of the Year 2015: Grace Thomas, LEAKED!

19 Dec

grace thomas

Pictures for the new Girl of the Year 2015 are out there, if you haven’t heard. So far, we see the mini doll, the bigger doll, and the book cover.

She is a brunette character this time with a side-swept bang, and long hair. She also has freckles and blue eyes. I’m assuming they are giving her freckles because of Saige’s success, as Saige helped Mattel boost up 3% in 2013. I heard Isabelle was not doing as well…I can’t say I’m surprised…

Read articles here:

Mattel’s Annual Report 2013

Isabelle: Girl of the Year 2014

What do I think of the new Girl of the Year 2015?

Oh boy…

I think she’s cute. I like the fact that she is NOT blonde. Yes, American Girl, thank you. But she’s not interesting. She is uninteresting in many ways.

I knew she would not be interesting the moment I heard her story, and I have expressed this on multiple forums several months ago when I heard it, which is why I took my time to talk about her… This is her book synopsis:

“Nine-year-old GOTY is always thinking up big ideas, like starting a business with her friends over the summer! When Mom announces a trip to Paris instead, GOTY gets on board, but it quickly seems as if none of her plans are working out the way she’d hoped. She and her French cousin aren’t getting along, and GOTY’s friends back home have started a business without her. Can she find the courage to stay open to new ideas and turn the summer around?”

This story attempts to be interesting by placing the setting on Paris, but it leaves me feeling confused. This story seems all over the place, like it’s trying to focus on Paris, while then all of a sudden jumping on a completely new subject, and starts focusing on the business. This story also doesn’t seem to have a solid “lesson”. It’s not clear what direction the story wants to take. Ironically, that seems to be a trait of all children’s story-telling today, especially the stories that come with merchandising, i.e. Frozen. You can read more about that here and here. Thus, I’m not really interested in the story. She doesn’t get along with her cousin, which sounds almost exactly like Kanani’s story. She wants to start her own business, which I can see the playset for her business being similar to Kanani’s shave ice stand. And also, her story is going to take place in a foreign nation, just like Jess’s story took place in Belize. There is nothing…unique about this story. I guess that’s the main reason why it’s not interesting. It feels like it’s already been told, and so the outcome is even more predictable than the average GOTY. And I know American Girl is eager to make use of the Parisian setting for their movie, but they are starting to appear like they are trying to hard to make a good movie. American Girl used to make movies based on the books, now it seems they have designed everything in a way where it appears the books are inspired from the ideas they want to put in the movies…And movies always feel less realistic than books.

The last GOTY movie I actually liked was Chrissa’s movie, and that’s because it touched on a real issue: Bullying. And it was realistic about it. Trust me. I work in education, and I have seen bullying at that magnitude. Despite how parents would like to see children, children can be very cruel.

That brings me to the other reason why she may not interest folks too much. She looks a lot like Chrissa. I have heard people say over and over how much she reminds them of Chrissa. I don’t know why, but she doesn’t remind me of Chrissa. I think it’s the hair color matching and the eye color with the same face mold, which Chrissa had brown hair and blue eyes and that same face mold, too. Okay, maybe they could be sisters. :P This girl has longer hair, freckles, and bangs. She reminds me more of Saige with dark hair. I love her features, I think they are beautiful. But even I have to admit, she left me the “meh” impression. Not the outrage impression Isabelle left me, but not the “WOW” impression I got when Saige came out, especially considering American Girl had just officially removed all of their red-haired dolls from historical collection around that time…

Just like Isabelle, she is caught wearing pink as a signature color (sigh, Attack of the Pink again…Another part of Mattel’s 18 Ways they Can Ruin a Doll Line). Her features themselves are not unique to GOTY, they are just put on her in an attempt to make her more individual. But Mattel failed in making her individual because everyone can tell Mattel/American Girl is running out of ideas…

Still, that’s no excuse for the kind of story they made. I mean, I might love the accessories and furniture, but they could’ve focused on so many more interesting subjects that I’m surprised they haven’t touched on. It just seems like it’s okay, but not as good as it could be.

The whole package feels that way really.

Overall, I was never excited for the GOTY when I heard the story, and as I’ve told readers before, I’m more a fan of the story-telling than the dolls. The story is the deciding factor as to whether I will purchase the doll or not. That’s just how I am as a fan. Since the story did not interest me, I was not interested.

But the doll helps me confirm this. I was not interested in Saige’s story, but the doll was so lovely and unique, plus her clothes so stylish, I couldn’t resist her. That is not the case with this doll. I might end up liking some of her clothes, but the doll herself is never coming home with me.

Now that American Girl has increased their prices to $120, I’m even more picky about the dolls I buy.

Many people felt that American Girl did not live up to their expectations. Many people were hoping for an African American girl or a girl with a disability of some sort. I wrote a little segment about dolls of color here.

But now. Here we have, your typical white girl, with the same tried-again features with a done-again story. This girl is basically many GOTYs mashed together.

Perhaps that’s what American Girl wanted. Young girls may not remember Chrissa or  Jess or any other GOTY from more than 3 years ago. I suppose they re-use features to reignite interest in the doll type and to bring the look into the modern generation. Still, it doesn’t do much for old time fans. American Girl has failed, once again, at bridging the gap between the old-time fans and the new fans, and they will suffer in 2015 because of it.

What were my Hopes for 2015’s Girl of the Year?

I had no real hopes. I had a feeling American Girl would be disappointing. Since my expectations were lower this year than last year, I was able to see the positive in the doll. I think she is much more beautiful than I expected her to be. However, I did have a slight inch of hope that the doll would wear a different color this year, like pale blue or mint green or gold or something, but they even let me down on that. I also hoped the doll would have a distinct name that’s never been used before…

I’m annoyed that the name “Grace” was used again. It’s a stabbing reminder of how they cast aside the NOLA historical characters. It’s also…been used before, and so isn’t so very creative. I, at least, hoped it would be the name of another historical character because it would mean that a historical character is on the way…And it would make the fact that Marie-Grace was removed easier to deal with. GOTY is only around for one year, and so that name will be out in the air all over again.

Overall, though, I can’t come to a complete conclusion until the doll is released. All I can honestly say is that so far, I’m not interested. I’m more interested in getting a Beforever doll to tell you the truth, and I’m not even fond of them, so that’s sad. My Beforever article here —>Beforever.

So, leave me a comment and share with me what you think so far, and your expectations for GOTY in the future. Do you think she’s a let down?

The Music Industry on Decline: What is the Cause, the Effect, and the Solution?

18 Dec

Music Doodle

“There was a time where you couldn’t record anything; you played something and it went into the wind whether or not someone heard it,” Bill Withers said. “Someone like Thomas Edison has come up with a machine where you can sing into it and it’ll play back your voice. So those people were going through the same type of transition that people are going through today.” -Hip-Hop DX

Read Hip-Hop DX’s Article on the Declining Industry

The quote above describes exactly what is happening right now. The music industry is on the decline. 2014 proved the weakest year for the industry as not ONE album went platinum. This is the first year this has happened. This means not one album has made millions. The article above pointed out some interesting points I’d like to reflect on and share. One point it made was that the “era” of artists striking it as millionaires is over. Now, artists, even the already-famous, have to do other things to get money, whether that’s make clothing lines, food-chains, or start acting. They listed the many reasons why it is occurring, and I will mention it, too, but I have some of my own ideas as to why I believe music is on the decline.

What is the Cause of the Decline in Music?

The Digital Revolution

The Digital Revolution is what Hip-hop DX and I both recognize as the main cause of the decline in the music business. The Digital Revolution is a period in time, rather an era, that reflects the sudden rise in technology, particularly of a digital nature. More people have access to technology more than any people before. Our society runs on smart phones, automatic paper towels, toilets, and sinks, computer laptops, ipads, video games, satellite radios, automatic cars, and greatest of all, internet. Thus, life moves at a fast pace. Of course, because of these modern inventions, technology has dissolved many businesses. I did an article about that a long time ago. I believe two years ago.

Read that article here:

Employee of the Year: The Computer

Well, technology has finally gotten hold of the music industry.

What is the Effect of Technology and What has happened to Music as a Result?

There are several effects, some are more positive, some are very threatening to the future of the industry. Let’s start with the Cons, since they are various.

Threatening Effects of Technology Influencing Music Industry

1) Music is extremely accessible, while money is low

One main issue that threatens artists is that music is so extremely accessible nowadays as a result of technology.

Another issue is technology has laid people off from their jobs. It’s harder for people to find jobs. And most people are focused on paying for the more important things. Even if some people are well-off, they fear another economic crisis. Music is a last priority that many people don’t see the need to invest in.

Good thing the internet provides music for free on Youtube. At one time, people would want to hear every song on an album and buy the whole thing. But now people are satisfied with just hearing one song from an artist. At least it’s cheaper that way. Internet allows people to pirate the music online, so that interferes with sales. I mean, if people had a choice between pay for a song or get it for free, free would be the answer.

Then there’s itunes. You can buy only one song if you want to. You no longer have to buy the whole album at once. Therefore, artists today don’t make as much as artists used to. This is a good thing for people to some degree, as children will broaden their skills and not be so “star struck”. But it’s bad for the real artists who will feel their pockets emptying and their bills increasing.

2) Singles dominate the industry before albums

The decline in albums sales is also do to the rise in singles sales. People care more about songs than albums.

3) Fame is no longer a “big deal”

Because of Youtube and online SNS, it’s so easy for people to get famous. The competition has increased, even for the “elite” artists. I saw this to a lesser degree when Cassie got famous just from spreading her song on Myspace (back in 2006 or 2007?). But now, it’s feels like there’s a new indie artist showing up every other day and topping the charts every other month! Being famous is no longer a big deal for consumers. People are considering getting famous themselves, and so they see other artists as competition to their own sales! To add, some people just no longer get so hyped up over artists enough to obsessively follow an artist and buy every album. They like a song, dance to it, and that’s it.

4) There is an overall decline in quality and trust in the industry. Only the elites are reputable.

For the last couple of years, music has experienced an overall decline in quality. The “auto-tuning” really made people lose respect in music. Rap and Hip-hop took a particular hit after rap and hip-hop became more entertaining rather than personal and expressive. People lost faith in music. They recognized that no matter how talented a person was, the rewards were given to people who were “entertaining” rather than talented. It was disappointing to people who deserved a break, but were being out-shined by someone who was “goofy” and didn’t take music as seriously. The desire to be famous was put over the desire to express art.

People also lost trust in the industry because the media is putting a huge amount of emphasis on scandals. People are more reluctant to invest in an artist that they feel will soon let them down.

And then, there are the conspiracy theorists that consider everything to be the workings of the Illuminati…

Read more about that here: The Illuminati: What is it and is it a threat?

Artists themselves do not respect labels. Many artists have expressed their hatred of the industry, and throughout the 21st Century, many artists have expressed being controlled by labels. Thus, people also lost respect in labels and the industry.

The only artists thriving are the ones who have been famous for years. Most of them are veterans of music. But very few artists out today will experience the same notoriety artists who came out six years ago experienced. These people have developed a reputation for making good music. And people are sticking to who and what they know…Which limits new artists.

5) Expectations are higher, and Music is Global Now

With the bad reputation of labels, people are expecting artists to be more personally creative with music. At the same time, people also expect artists to have talent more than ever before. Auto-tune disappointed people, and many consumers are trying to find talent. Thanks to Adele, many people want to see a modern industry where talent is put before looks, sex, and weirdness.

Expectations are also higher because the competition is fiercer. Thanks to the internet, people can get hold of music all around the globe. There has been a particular interest in K-pop lately. At one time, the USA dominated the charts around the world. Today, we can’t predict the next rising star so easily…

Albums may not be going platinum in the US, but that doesn’t mean Americans aren’t buying music. They may be buying music overseas. Music across the globe became popular during a period when people were disappointed in music.

Positive Effects of Technology Influencing Music Industry

There is one huge upside to all of this. There is a new “rebirth” of sorts. It is the revival of the “Starving Artist”. This may not seem like such an appealing name, but it can suggest something positive. The positive side is that without industry pressure, more people are free to express themselves in any way they want. Emphasis is placed on art, not money or fame. Music no longer promises more than it can deliver. Children will be more realistic in their career choices, or at least learn various skills just in case one of their goals backfire. Already popular artists don’t have to worry about people putting so much importance on them. They can live more private lives and be more creative in their own work.

The Solution

The real solution is that artists have to find new innovative ways to get around this issue, just as the quote suggests above. Back in the past, those people experienced a music transition where live bands were replaced by recording artists. Many live bands had to transition, but they found innovative ways to adjust. The same thing has to happen with modern artists. In order to be a strong force in the music industry today, you’d have to have excellent business acumen, and be a straight genius, almost insane really. The person must be aware of global trends, be extremely talented and entertaining, and must live a solid life with a good reputation, or be really good at making their life seem attractive to others.

So leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the decline in the industry. It makes me anxious as I anticipate the fate of music in 2015.

Nick News with Linda Ellerbee: Different Approaches to Education Than The Traditional

17 Dec

nick news

Nick News on the Nickelodeon TV network aired a segment highlighting five different schools that decided to take less traditional approaches to schooling. It was quite an interesting segment because it highlighted how innovative and liberal people have become regarding education. In this Digital Revolution, education has become less important to children, as internet teaches people things on a daily basis, and it’s clear to see that modern-day children in the USA do not value a traditional education the way other nations do. In fact, most American children do not appreciate an education until they get to high school and realize they have to take care of themselves in a few years. Unfortunately, so many American children get dumped out in the world with limited job opportunities, yes, because of the economy, but also because they lack the basic skills to pass higher education courses or to get into trading courses that require particular technical knowledge. Not to mention, they lack the focus and discipline to deal with rigorous courses. I must admit, technology makes life fast, and it can stress children out. Everything is expected to be done in a timely manner. I can’t say it’s much different on a job, but you know, I suppose people are working to try to change that, too…

Well, the unfortunate part is that children who don’t appreciate school do not really learn. They also end up very disruptive and restless. They may also suffer from self-esteem because they just can’t seem to get into school. I was that kind of child.

I don’t want to go head-to-head with parents, but a lot of it has to do with parents. It’s not that most parents don’t care, (though some don’t, I’ve met many), but most parents just can’t seem to find the time to instill an appreciation for education in their kids. Then you have parents who really don’t appreciate education themselves or have felt inferior in an educated environment. They are more than likely to be negative about school. Especially if they were not the best behaved. And these same parents also do not instill a healthy dose of respect for authority. I understand some authority can be unjust, but some authority is there to keep things orderly and safe. Imagine schools without anyone keeping the behavior in check. Fights will break out and kids will be killed. End of discussion. Of course, we have parents who don’t see that far in advance or who can’t see their child as anything but precious “angels” or “babies”. But hey, kids have their home life, and they have a social school life that parents often don’t know about the way teachers and school staff does. In fact, from experience, most children live a double life, as early as 5 years old when they begin kindergarten.

Unfortunately, a parent who doesn’t instill a proper respect for authority in their child soon finds their child rebelling against the greatest authority figure in their own lives: Their parents. And physical discipline can straighten action, but not feelings and thoughts. Children can feel like they want to rebel even if they don’t actually do it. I was that kind of child myself.

My experience? Yes, I work in the education system. I was once a poor student in elementary school, and it greatly affected me in Middle School, High School, and even College! I was able to push through, but so many in my age group dropped out. We were the “test dummy” children put under the new system “No Child Left Behind”. So many programs focused on improving test scores, but little good did it do. We all just wanted to do what we wanted to do, and felt we shouldn’t be forced to do something we weren’t ready to do. Of course, we were children, so all we wanted to do was play. We had no work ethic. Might I add, many parents today also do not instill a work ethic in their children. I used to blame the school as a child, because well, I was a child. I used my mother as a scapegoat to get me out of situations in school that I felt were too challenging. Did it benefit me? At the time, but not in the long-run. This may not go for every child, but it’s just my experience…Which wasn’t too long ago, considering I’m still in my twenties…

The education system we know today is not without flaw, either. These declining test scores reveal serious problems in the established education system that aren’t all direct. There are teachers who seriously do not have the patience to truly deal with children. If you are a parent, imagine having thirty kids in your home for 6 to 8 hours a day…A whole work day…Some parents can barely deal with two to four children that long. That’s what teaching is like. Some teachers get so overwhelmed with their jobs, they want to give up and don’t give the students the proper attention they need. Some teachers get into the profession thinking it will be ideal and thinking it will be easy to deal with children. After all, they are just children, right? Right? Treat them with respect and they will love and respect you? Wrong. Children often don’t respect you just because they don’t want to. They sometimes think it’s funnier to tease the butt monkey, i.e. the teacher. Many times when you start off nice, it’s hard to be firm when you have to be, especially when they child is not used to being disciplined at home. And then there are teachers who let children provoke them, because they haven’t quite matured, and end up over-doing things…

In the high school, you have teachers who just don’t know their place…

With all of these issues, there could be several reasons why children are not performing in school, which are the basis for the founding of “new schools” mentioned in this news segment:

1) Children feel overloaded with work.

2) Schools have pushed on higher levels of stress upon modern children.

3) Some children are bullied, or fear being bullied, and can’t function in a hostile environment.

4) They are not challenged enough and are too advanced for the curriculum.

5) They can’t handle being told what to do.

6) The material is not presented to them in a way that is interesting and fun.

7) Parents have turned them off from liking school.

8) The teachers were too strict or impatient and not attentive to each child’s needs.

10) They may have a disability or another set-back and need extra help.

11) Parent did not instill discipline in a child so that they could endure long hour days and focus.

12) Children may not get any help for the problems they do not understand, not from teachers or parents.

13) No one at home or school cares about their successes or failures, and therefore, they have no real motivation for achieving aside from the fact it could give them a good job in the future…If they really care to think that far in advance. I think this is so sad, but is a true reality that I’ve seen. :(

14) They live privileged lives and can’t see a future where they are not reliant on their parents. This can turn into a “Peter Pan” syndrome.

15) Awards are not earned. Children are either awarded during Christmas and birthdays, without having to behave, so they don’t see the importance of good behavior, or they are not particularly awarded when they do good in school, and are only awarded when they cry. Or not given any awards or attention at all. This often happens in families with many children.

16) Older children feel they already know what they want to do in the future and don’t see the need to learn various subjects they’re not interested in.

17)  Parents may not stick the children to a schedule in the home. Bedtimes are not enforced, so children are not getting enough sleep.

18) There are other severe issues with the home life, such as poverty or abuse.

These are several issues I’ve experienced, but this may not even reveal ALL of the issues!

Now, back to the topic. The schools mentioned in this segment all seek to improve the above issues. Many of the schools seek to place children in environments deemed more “comfortable” for children. Many of the ideas of these schools are truly innovative, and I think should be implemented in all schools. But many of the ideas…don’t strike me as practical for the real world. I don’t want to bash a school’s head in. I encourage all education. Perhaps I will seem a little bias, though it won’t be intended. Still, I am entitled to have certain questions and comments when I feel that something is not considered in the grand scheme of things. This may spark a debate, but I’m no stranger to controversial subjects. I welcome all comments, even if I don’t agree with them.

Quest to Learn

Quest to learn

This school uses games to teach children. They are constantly using cards, computers, and other game tools to learn subjects. Some of the kids commented that they often “move so fast, they don’t realize they have learned something, but then later, they recall it all”. This school believes that children learn best when they are active and involved. They seek to make school fun and action-packed. They mentally challenge students to think on their toes.

One student comments: “I was really zoned out. I was like reading comics in class,” he says. “But now I’m not even considering touching a comic book because I’m so scared that I’m going to miss a subject.”

It seems like the goal is to get children so busy and mobile, they don’t have time to be distracted.

I like the idea that this school uses games and other tools to motivate students, though most schools have this included in their teaching strategies, but just not so extreme. This school seems well-suited to children who catch on to things quickly. It’s also suited to children who thrive well in a competitive environment and enjoy movement.

As a child, I was not that kind of little person. I’m sure there are other children who would feel nervous in this kind of environment. It struck a nerve when the child commented that “He’s so scared he’s going to miss a subject”. I’m not a firm believer in scaring a child. I think fear intensifies stress.

As a child, I needed a versatile environment that considered my needs. Established public schools have all kinds of teaching strategies for every kind of child. This school only provides the strategies that could appeal to a child that doesn’t feel challenged enough.

But hey, there is every kind of school for every kind of child. The only down-side is when these children move on to higher education, they may be so used to a fast-paced environment, they may be frustrated with how slow-paced college courses are. In college, there are no games, there are no quick lessons. These children may ultimately end up impatient with college, and may end up dropping out for quick employment.

Children who learn to get things quick are quick about getting things done. Learning to move quickly may not be bad when it comes to meeting deadlines and challenges on a job, but sometimes these actions can lead to impulsive decisions when choosing careers.

Trek North

Trek North

This school takes it’s students on wilderness trips to teach outdoor skills. It’s a bit like Boys and Girls Scouts. They take service trips, and often they take these week-long trips to help the homeless.  A student can get a high school diploma from this school just from completing tasks. This school seems designed to give children a hands-on approach to learning, which teaches skills that are beyond the range of modern society. These children learn survival skills, which can be useful if the whole system crashes.

This school seems like a lot of fun. This is a school I would’ve loved attending as a child, as I always appreciated the wilderness and volunteer work.

The only issue is that it doesn’t teach children various skills that can assist them in a modern, progressive society. It doesn’t help them properly compete in a GLOBAL economy. Getting a piece of paper is not as important as what you learned to get it. I think this school would be great if implemented as a mandatory after school program. But the main education? I think this leaves a child handicapped in the job force. They also won’t have many options with the skills they learn. Their experience may bring them to jobs that deal with the wilderness or some volunteer work, but if they decide they change their minds, they may not have any OTHER basic skills that could transfer them into another career. We learn various subjects to give our children various options in the world. We don’t want our children limited to one career field when there is much to learn in this world!

Durango Big Picture High School

Durango

I absolutely love this school’s ideas. One student said:  “I wanted to come here because I didn’t like sitting in the classroom listening to a lecture all day,” she says. “(Here) you’re creating a future that you want.”

This school may be just the ticket to help children appreciate school. I believe that children learn better when they understand that their education will benefit them and help them get jobs. In fact, I wish there was an elementary school like this. I wish I had enrolled in a school like this. The reason many of these children don’t appreciate school is because they don’t realize or don’t feel an education will help them get jobs in the future. It’s sad, but I’ve run into children who don’t see the benefit in learning how to even spell their name. But if someone emphasized how important this was in the world, it would motivate the children to do it. An internship, where a child experiences the working world first-hand, is just the ticket.

My only qualm is that it doesn’t consider the indecision of teens. I wanted to be a journalist as a teenager, and even did a program to help assist me. Of course, I changed my mind. But I had strengths in other subjects besides English (History), so I was able to transition into another career. Again, when a student doesn’t learn various skills, they limit themselves. A child may get work that fits their skills, but technology is taking over at a rapid pace, the business they are working in may close, and they will be forced to return to basics to learn a whole new set of skills!

Children need variety. I think this school lets children make decisions they are not half way mature enough to make yet. Heck, I know more than 20 of my friends who went to college “Undecided”, and a dozen of them who have changed majors about three times…And they were all adults! But at least they had basic skills in other areas to make that transition. It’s especially important to have reading and math as mandatory subjects, even if a kid thinks only one of those subjects are important, even if she says she only wants to be a book author. I mean, how is she going to count her money without knowing the value of a dollar?

Aside from all of that, a student can come out of this school working. They can adjust to a work environment easier. They can use that money from their job to pay for a higher education. It’s really a well-developed school with minor kinks.

Connections Academy

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A student said, “I learned that actually not having a lot of kids around me makes me thrive,” she says. “Now that all the distractions are removed, I’m a lot more focused.”

When I think of the future, I always think of online education. This is an online school. This is the modern home-schooling world. The goal of this school is to remove children out of distracting, and even hostile, environments.

My first taste of online classes was in college. In college, you had the option to work in a quiet environment and work at your own pace. It was a new thing for me and my family.

What I hated about it was the deadlines. You couldn’t get an extension or extra time unless you informed the teacher way ahead of time. Computers are impersonal, despite what anyone says. It’s often hard to get the help you need. In order to get help, you can chat with your teacher online, BUT it’s sometimes hard to tell them exactly what your issues are because they are not sitting next to you or watching to see if you’re doing everything correctly. When they correct your work, they correct it, and then forward it with instructions on how improve the assignment. But they never give that personal one-on-one attention. If you are a student that catches on to subjects quickly, online school is the school for you. But for me, it’s the reason I almost failed Chemistry.

You also need a lot of focus. Sometimes, computers can be distracting. Even when I was doing my Microsoft Word paper on the computer, I was distracted by Social networking, so it took longer to finish my assignments, and I was sloppy in my work in a rush to finish.

Home-schooling like this can help a child become a computer expert, as all of their work is done on the internet. The problem happens when a school is only online. Computers do break, and internet does go out. Some home-school programs offer books on the side and allow you to send the work by mail to a school. This home-school program is all-internet.

The other problem is that this schooling doesn’t put a child in social situations, therefore social problem-solving skills will not develop. When they do grow up, they will be weaker to peer pressure and will have a harder time deciphering the right healthy association, unless the parents warn children of this early on. Further, they will be more sensitive to insults and criticism, things they may not experience at home. If they experience it early on, believe it or not, they will expect it on the job and find ways to deal with it. Home shelters them.

They may also develop a mind-set where they expect the working environment to be “like home”. They may be disappointed that the world is not like home. On the plus side, if they become entrepreneurs, they may create a more comfortable working environment for people. Most children who have this schooling are some of the most well-behaved children because they don’t have the social pressure to be bad. Their only influences are their parents. On the same token, if they are only used to listening to their parents, they won’t get accustomed to listening to new ideas that may be more beneficial than what their parents are teaching them. These children carry the risk of not being able to think entirely for themselves. And it’s important for children to develop some individuality and independence from their parents.

And again, while they are in school, they are usually not influenced by peer pressure. But when they graduate, step out into the working world,  they will not be used to peer pressure. They won’t be able to avoid peer pressure. We learn how to deal with this pressure in school, especially in high school. Though home-schooling is meant to protect the child from peer pressure, it doesn’t help them learn to deal with this pressure. And no, bullying and negative peer pressure is not good. I understand that some parents would rather protect their children. In schools outside of the home, not only do children make friends, but they learn to deal with peers. Traditional schools don’t just teach reading and math, but the purpose of a school is to teach you how to deal with other people. In the real working world, they will end up experiencing people they don’t get along with, questionable friendships, and bullies. Daddy and Mommy will not be around to tell them to quit a job and home-job them. Some may work from home, but most will end up working outside of the home. How will they deal with this issue? Will they quit every job they feel is hard, which is every job? Will they let people get under their skin?

These children can become more impressionable than the average person when they become adults. This is not to say this is every child who is home-schooled, but from my experience, it’s a risk. Justin Bieber would be an example.

The upside is that when a child is alone with their work, they have the ability to develop all kinds of skills. When there are no distractions, a strong curiosity can develop. From my experience, home-schooled children acquire skills that most children learn when they are older, like the ability to sew. Many develop talents. They often learn to become excellent cooks and often eat healthy diets. They stay children much longer. They are least likely to be pregnant teens and will more than likely plan their lives.

Yet, the strong curiosity can lead them into danger as they get older. They may wish to do all the things they missed out on,and they may live wild lives in an attempt to do all they missed out on.

Diablo Valley School

Diablo

This school doesn’t have a curriculum, doesn’t give homework, tests, or grades. When we think about this ideally, we can see that this school has good intentions. They want children to be comfortable in their learning environment. The school setting is more like a house, where there are couches and the staff cooks lunch for the kids. They allow children to attend board meetings, voice an opinion, vote, and help with school-wide decisions. This school’s goal is to encourage children to be confident in themselves. This school wants children to develop their own identity, and be proud of who they are. It’s a school that wants children to recognize that everyone has individual strengths, and it minimizes the idea that any child has a weakness. The goal is truly ideal.

One student said, “I’ve become a lot more confident with myself,” she says. “And I think the best thing about this school is that there is no pressure to be anyone other than yourself.”

Many of their ideas are so out-of-the-box in both excellent ways and debatable ways. I like that they let the children have a voice on what goes on in the school, and I like that they let those children take leadership roles. This helps them move their school and learn the importance of responsibility. This school is great for students who don’t feel confident in a regular school. This is also a good school for students who need a little more intimate attention from their teacher. This is also good for students who want to have fun. The children did seem happy in the segment. What child would not want to go to a school like this? This is a school where kids rule. To add, the food probably tastes better than the food at any school around the nation…

But there are a few things that I think was not considered in the greater scheme of things.

This school seeks to “protect” or “nurture” children by giving children what they emotionally need and want, but it doesn’t prepare them for the harsh realities of the real working world.

This school allows children to begin learning basic skills such as reading and writing…whenever the child feels like learning it. Yes, they decide what they want to learn and when they want to learn it. They feel this helps the children develop a natural interest in subjects. If a child wants to learn something, they ask, and the staff there helps them learn it. And it doesn’t have to be basic skills, like reading or math. It can be something like sewing. I understand this school was designed to make children feel more confident in what they are learning.

But I feel this school treats the children like babies. While the school provides a comfortable learning environment, it doesn’t teach them how to adjust to working environments that are not ideal when they get older. In traditional education, at least a child learns to adapt to various working styles. This actually teaches them how to endure in many different kinds of jobs. It gives them the discipline to deal with the working world. When a child becomes use to this environment, a real job becomes a cinch. They learn that each job has it’s own rules and it’s own code of dress and many other similarities to their school.

A comfortable environment makes the children feel at home, but gives them unrealistic expectations about the job life. These children will grow up with the attitude that on a job “They will work when they are good and ready”. They will not know how to do something they don’t want to do. But guess what? No one wants to work, but we have to. Otherwise, who will eat?

Sometimes, it may ultimately make them less confident as adults as they begin to compare how much they know with the other adults around them who have learned so much. Some children may not even acquire the curiosity to read until they are teenagers. By then, many teenagers their age would’ve learned so much more, even the students that are considered “struggling” in traditional schools! I asked one child, who was struggling in 5th grade, to spell her name out for me as fast as she could. She spelled it so fast, you can tell that she had written that name a thousand times. She knew it by heart, even though she was struggling with her school subjects. I told her that’s how I knew she was in 5th grade. I could tell that she had spent five years practicing that name. A student who decides when they are going to learn this in teen years will be way behind…

Children with mental disabilities often never acquire an interest in learning because of their set-backs, so this school would leave them empty-handed. I’ve had to push (not shove, of course) many students with disabilities to learn subjects. They may not have liked it as children, but when they get older, they often felt confident. When they are not pushed, they don’t learn, and are left to feel odd or as mentally disabled as people make them feel when they become adults.

Also in a subject like history, this school will put the kids behind. There are certain things children should know about history by the time they are in 8th grade. We learn history so we can avoid making the same social mistakes and so we can borrow inspiration to create a more progressive future. That’s how we were able to make many of the inventions we have today, on the basis of what people did. Most children do not acquire a natural curiosity to learn history. I know this from experience.

Instead of helping them compete with a global economy, this school will still put them behind. This school stated they are focused on improving test scores in the nation, but without…testing the children. It sounds like they are only about the numbers, not the education. Or rather, they seem to be all about the numbers they decide to put in. But without a curriculum guide, they don’t really seem to care if the child can truly compete with other children globally on an intellectual level. The students may not feel these debilities as children or teens, but they will feel it as adults.

The school also doesn’t prepare the students for a higher education. In college, while they do get to choose the subjects they want to study, and what time they want to take the courses, they have to sit for long hours in lecture halls, complete homework assignments, and deal with stressful exams. How does this school prepare them for a higher education should a child want to pursue that path? This school, in my honest opinion, is for the pampered and babied. In fact, without a test, how could they monitor a child’s progress or really know whether they have learned something in the school? How can they know if a child has even learned to count? By letting the child monitor their OWN progress? Children just want to play, and may say anything just to get work out of their hair.

The upside to this kind of schooling is that these children may grow up remembering that they don’t have to work at something they don’t like. That’s the privilege of living in the USA. This may thus help them push for more creative freedom in a work environment. But making that kind of difference takes time. And they still need to learn to work at a stable job. But then there are those moments where the lack of various skills limits them to odd-end jobs…

What really disturbs me is the fact that none of the “teachers” are required to be certified. The children learn from random people who share their “experiences”. Again, this is ideal, but not at all realistic. The school seems to be lacking in a little historical education themselves, and are doomed to repeat the same mistakes of the past. In the past, teachers were not required to have any more than a 8th grade education. Soon after, women were usually married off and men began working. But how could a student be confident in a teacher they are not sure has been to school or learned anything themselves? Would you want a certified Doctor operating on you or your family? Or some random person who came into the hospital saying they know a little bit about medicine? I know a college degree doesn’t make a person smarter than someone without one, but at least you know they have acquired the knowledge to attend to the job at hand. The certificate is confirmation that it has been a field of study for 4 or more years. When someone is not certified, you can’t really know if you are being taught lies or not. You may not know with a certified teacher either, but at least you know they have studied the facts before.

Then, there are things personal experience cannot teach you. There are some subjects that can’t be understood in-depth without consistency and an expert. For instance, there are hundreds of countries around the world. It is not only beneficial to talk about the country the child lives in, but also about other countries. This not only broadens their world view, increases compassion in a child, but it also teaches them to think about someone other than themselves. A random teacher can’t teach a child about correct geography or how to read a map correctly. These “teachers” are also probably not equipped to deal with mentally disabled people, either. I mean, the school isn’t bad, but is it really on the same quality-level as a traditional school? Or should I think it’s better just because it’s free and new?

The school would then have to place value on what THEY deem is more important to learn, which means they would be belittling the subjects they feel are not so important. I’d like to think that each subject has a use. If we belittle a subject, we belittle a job and therefore limit what our children could do in the future.

So, this is my spin on the “new school” education. Share your comments on the matter. Do you think the schools have the right answer to combat declining test scores in the USA?

7 Animated Movies That Almost Seem Like Disney Movies + 7 of Disney’s Sexiest Characters

13 Dec

In the 1990’s, Disney experienced a Renaissance of sorts. Most people know of this. It was Disney’s greatest age. Disney gained popularity once again after a Dark Age during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Little Mermaid brought Disney back on their game.

During Disney’s Renaissance, there were other animation studios that tried to imitate Disney’s musical movies, due to Disney’s success. Some of the studios failed, some studios actually succeeded in making movies as great as Disney.

This article is to share with you 7 movies that were just as good as Disney’s movies, and almost could’ve been Disney movies, but weren’t.

1) Cats Don’t Dance

With stronger animation than most movies of it’s day, it could remind someone of movies like The Goofy Movie or Oliver and Company. It’s focus is on an animal and how he paves his way to stardom. Randy Newman contributed to some of the film’s music. Name sound familiar? He was in charge of the music in The Princess and the Frog. This style of music really makes the movie feel like a Disney film. Of course, it’s missing the strong story elements that Disney had, but the music and characters were just as lovable as any Disney movie.

2) Thumbelina

This sweet story about a female heroine the size of a thumb always brings us back to Disney, who is often known for their heroines. The story was written by Hans Christian Andersen. Sound familiar? He was the same writer that wrote The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen. Most people know The Snow Queen‘s loose adaptation, Frozen. Hans’s name was even used for one of Frozen‘s characters! It’s no surprise that this movie reminds people of a Disney movie. With all the interesting characters and Thumbelina’s long voyage from home, we begin to wonder if Disney had some hand in the story. Well, technically they did. Don Bluth, the director of the movie, once worked for Disney. He left Disney during Disney’s “Dark Age”, and started his own rival company. He had quite a few successes, many of which will end up on this list.

3) The Iron Giant

This story takes place in 1957 during the Cold War. I think the story carries a deep past and an interesting message. The critics have looked favorably on the film. But it isn’t Disney. This is a movie you would not want to miss. Unlike some of the other movies on this list, it had no Disney animators, directors, or song-writers influencing it’s direction. It reminds me of Disney without even trying to be like Disney. I still think this is one of the greatest animated movies of the 1990’s.

4) Balto

Balto is actually based off of a true story and actually holds a deep past. The story creates Balto into the animated hero he deserves to be. In 1925 Alaska, a diphtheria outbreak threatened the children in the area of Nome. This brave dog is expected to carry antitoxins from one part of Alaska to another, meeting dangerous weather and circumstances along the way. I learned about the intensity of this outbreak through this movie. Man, was I shocked to find this wasn’t a Disney movie. It should’ve been. Well, Steven Spielberg was in charge of the movie and he was known for his great story-telling. This movie was underrated, but very well-developed and touching.

5) An American Tail

Steven Spielberg and Don Bluth both had a hand in this film, so it was inevitable that it would be confused for a Disney film. This movie taught me the hardships that people endured trying to come into the United States. This movie was definitely an engaging story. This was a movie I always watched over and over. But it didn’t have to be a Disney movie in order to be good.

6) The Prince of Egypt

Based off of the Biblical story about Moses, the animation and musical scores in this movie made it powerful enough to compete with Disney’s movies. It always reminded me of The Huntchback of Notre Dame because of the religious elements involved. The story was very powerful and I seriously thought I had Disney pegged on this one. Nope. I was wrong.

7) Anastasia

Though I’ve always known this was a Fox movie, because the beginning didn’t have Tinkerbell or Mickey Mouse like so many Disney movies had in the 90’s, I know many people who confuse her for a Disney Princess. She’s a spunky, lost princess. She sings epic musical Broadway-style numbers. She wears pretty ball gowns and her love interest is an orphan. The main villain has supernatural abilities, a musical score all his own, and is deadly. What isn’t Disney about this movie? The fact that it doesn’t carry a Disney logo. This is one of the greatest animated films in the history of animated films. It is loosely based off of the real Duchess Anastasia. I can honestly watch this movie until times get better.

So, you people should check these movies out. No, they are not Disney movies. But if you love animated films, get the nostalgia jones, or just want to try something new, give them all a watch one day.

6 of Disney’s Sexiest Characters

Well, talking about animated films has brought me back to Disney films. I recently started watching some old Disney movies. Now that I’m older, I can catch some of the “suggestive” jokes I couldn’t really grasp as a child. But I’m also starting to realize how hot certain characters are. Some characters were even deliberately made to be sexy by Disney! I’m not sure you’ve noticed, but I’ve acquired a list anyway.

1) Prince Naveen 

He speaks French, he’s a prince, and he’s romantic. What isn’t sexy about that? Only a man this charming and handsome could woo the focused Tiana in The Princess and the Frog. What makes it better is that he speaks French, duh! Didn’t I say that? :P French is a romantic language, and thus, a sexy language. His accent also adds charm to him, as well as his ability to let go and just have fun. And hey, he’s pretty handsome…When he’s not a frog…

2) Megara

Megara, Nut Meg, was the “femme fatale” character from Hercules who worked with the Lord of the Underworld, Hades. She is an anti-hero of sorts, so her moral and ethics are not the strongest, but she turns into a good girl eventually. Of course, as a servant of Hades, she’s expected to coerce and seduce Hercules into giving away his secrets, particularly his weaknesses for Hades’ evil plans. And she does it so well, she oozes hotness. Just the way she says, “Bye, Bye Wonderboy” can send shivers down the spine. “Femme Fatale” says hot to me.

3) Flynn Rider

He was never meant to be sexy, but he just is. He oozes bad-boy charm and is the handsomest “prince” to date. He is probably one of the few well-developed male characters in a princess movie created by Disney. Though he’s a bad boy, he is also sweet and cute. Every girl’s dream.

4) Princess Jasmine

Princess Jasmine, from the movie Aladdin, is the only Disney Princess with an hour-glass curvy body and a skimpy wardrobe. And man can she work her bod! The best part is that Jasmine is strong, beautiful, and smart! She’s very sharp. That makes her even sexier. But Jasmine knew how to turn on her seductive powers whenever it was convenient, which shows she was very aware of how attractive she was.

5) Esmeralda

Esmeralda is a gypsy street-performer who does what she can to survive in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. She is quite the under-dog, the outcast, and has a deep spiritual side to her. But when she gets in front of an eager crowd, she knows how to draw a man’s eyes to her. In fact, she made the Archdeacon, Frollo, so mad with lust, he burned down all of Paris just to find her! If anyone has a strong sexy power, it’s her. And all she had to do was pole dance. Well, she kind of flirted with the crowd, too. But just about every man in the story was in love with her and super jealous of Phoebus, who was the only man that actually won her heart. She has an “exotic beauty” aura about her. And boy, does she look good in red. This movie is a little too deep for kids, now that I think about it…

6) Jack Sparrow

Pirates of the Caribbean is Disney’s most successful live-action film, and it is geared towards a 13+ crowd. Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp) is a charismatic pirate who creates most of the comedy and seduction the movie provides. He is edgy, but definitely full of charisma. He persuades and seduces everyone throughout the whole movie, man or woman! He convinced Will Turner to join his crew. He happened to wheedle himself out of danger just with his charm. And he’s slick as ice. Does it help that he is also handsome? It was made clear that he has had many women in his lifetime, and he can’t always remember each of their names! Even Elizabeth Swann had a taste of his smexy lips in one of the sequels…Before she turned on him…What woman, of any generation, would think he is anything but sexy? He’s probably not the best for a long-term mate, but he’s certainly a gem for those who want to have a good time.

7) Jessica Rabbit

Who Framed Roger Rabbit introduced us to Disney’s (an animation’s) most racy character, Jessica Rabbit. Jessica Rabbit is now considered a “sex icon”, producing erotic responses from many males the world over. There are so many perverted sketches of her online, it’s pretty evident she is an ideal. Her infamous line “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way” shows it all. This “femme fatale” character is hot and a bit naughty, and we, the audience, like it. Just like Esmeralda, she sings and dances for the feasting eyes of men. But let’s just say she’s a little more interactive…And there’s just something about her that just feels a little more deliberate.

This “bad” girl has a body that is so bodacious, her boobs are so huge, she keeps everything she needs in them! Is she really a Disney character? XD

This “fiery red” chick spells hot all over.

Leave me a comment and share some of your favorite animated stories!

f(x)’s Amber Liu is SET to Make a SOLO DEBUT 2015!

3 Dec

Amber singing

I’m so late to get the news, but I’m going to share it anyway, for those who are also late. Where have I been, right? XD I’m such a f(x) fanatic, I should’ve been first in line when this news came up…Anyway…

It has been announced that f(x)’s Amber is going to have a solo debut sometime in 2015. Well, it’s still more like a rumor. SM Entertainment said they had been “discussing it”. Many rumors predict the solo will be released in February.

Read more about the solo announcement by clicking me.

Actually, Amber sort of hinted at a solo back in May, in so many words.

Back in May, on an After School Club interview, before Red Light, Amber hinted that she had been working on some music with Ailee. I assumed at the time that it had to do with the comeback, but now I assume this has to do with her solo debut. You can see that interview here. —>AfterSchoolClubWithAmber

I’m super excited that f(x) Amber is getting a chance to SHINE. I’m honestly happy that ANY f(x) music is being made at this point. Most of the other f(x) members have been doing acting jobs, with Luna and Amber mostly focusing on music. Luna has also been doing some killer photo-shoots.

f(x)’s Amber has been a host on KBS’s A Song for You, and has been gaining wider attention through Eat Your Kimchi, a Youtube vlogging channel that often covers K-pop. She even helped with promoting the EYK Awards:

If ya’ll don’t know who f(x) is or who f(x) Amber is, I will explain briefly. f(x) is a popular K-pop girl group under the “powerhouse” Korean label SM Entertainment. f(x) has five uniquely individual members: Victoria, Amber, Luna, Sulli, and Krystal. They are multi-national, as three of the five members come from foreign nations. They are known for their unique genres and bold sense of style in fashion, dance, and music. They are definitely unconventional. The name, f(x), is meant to represent this variety in image and identity. f(x) is a mathematical function. “x” can represent anything. If you put in any number to represent “x”, it can become anything. f(x) Amber is the tomboy member, known for her bold androgynous looks in a cookie-cutter industry, where all of the females wear short skirts, pounce around like perfect “goddesses”, and sing cutesy and/or sexy songs to impress a superficial audience. f(x) Amber is one of the few K-pop artists respected and known for being herself because she “was in control” of dressing “comfortably”, which is very unusual in the K-pop industry, where most idols are controlled even in the way they look. Regardless, she is allowed to wear fashions that most people would deem controversial, and yet, it never hindered her success, and only encouraged success.

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f(x) Amber is also popular with an international audience because she is from L.A., USA, and thus, speaks perfect American English.

Amber is also quite charming and lively, and seems to love the stage and music. There is usually never a moment when you can catch Amber being rude to fans, and she is, in fact, extremely friendly and “dorkable”. Her intimacy with fans is evident by the affectionate name she often goes by, Llama, which was given to her by a fan.

To learn more about f(x) and Amber, come to this article —>f(x), the Korean Spice Girls + Amber Liu in the Spotlight

After hearing all you have about this girl, it shouldn’t be surprising that most fans have been pushing for Amber to go solo. Most f(x) fans are ready for this girl to shine. She has so much potential as a solo artist, and she has the appeal that can reach western audiences. She is a “bias wrecker”. At first, people may like the other girls possibly for superficial reasons or because of perceived cuteness. But after getting one dose of Amber, it’s hard not to fall in love with the uniquely hidden diva.

What’s even more shocking is that she is the FIRST f(x) artist to do a complete solo album! It’s surprising, considering Korean is not her first language and that some of the other girls have a stronger standing in Asia. I, at least, expected Krystal or Luna to have solos first, considering they are considered the main vocalists in the group. But I am just as proud that Amber was the one to do it first. She seems to love music a whole lot more than some of the other members, and she has an array of talents and connections that could make this solo a success, if done right. Her image is unique enough to reach the world.

However, there may be two concerns for K-poppers out there, both among fans and newcomers to k-pop (or antis). I hear a lot of people saying/asking:

1) Amber has a SOLO? Can she sing or dance? What are her talents?

amber singing 2

For most of us f(x) Amber fans, this is an unusual question. Why wouldn’t a music artist have talents? Obviously, she had to have some talents. Some people may feel that she is only famous for her androgynous looks, but do you honestly think SM would’ve allowed her into such a conservative industry with just that? She had to have something else that they felt would make her a success. She actually got through an audition with her singing.

Singing? What?

That’s right. Her singing.

Sure, f(x)’s music glosses lightly over Amber’s talents, especially when it was around f(x)’s debut. Amber didn’t speak Korean very well. That couldn’t be helped. And back then, tomboy girls were stuck with rapping, though Amber actually has some serious rapping skills. Even an Electro Boyz member said so, despite the  the brief rap segments she had in f(x)’s songs…

Electro Boyz member compliments Amber here

And I will admit, Amber never had many chances to sing or show off her vocals. She also didn’t have the right songs to do so. Her voice is soft and melodious. And there are certain songs that fit with certain vocalists.

Even someone with a powerful voice would need the right songs. Jennifer Hudson had this problem with her first debut album. She had a strong voice, but some of the songs she sang just didn’t fit her kind of voice.

Amber also has other musical talents that most people don’t know about, like guitar and drumming skills. She has also written and composed music for f(x)’s albums.

I used to think the same thing to myself that other newcomers were thinking, “Is this girl talented or a gimmick?” But I did deeper research. I found out her list of talents that were hidden. I feel that most K-pop artists, even if their talents are very obvious, are tried with the same question, just because it’s K-pop, and K-pop has a reputation of being “robotic” and “superficial”. But I assure you that Amber has the talent to back this album up.

For those of you who are doubters, back during f(x) month, I made a portfolio that consisted of all of Amber’s talents, and one for all the other f(x) members as well.

Check out Amber’s portfolio here —>Just How Talented is f(x) Amber Liu?

After looking at her portfolio, I’m sure doubters will no longer doubt. After hearing Amber sing on KBS’s A Song for You, even Super Junior’s Kangin described her voice as “sexy”. So he thought highly of her vocals. He even recruited Amber to help him and Sungjae work on a special A Song for You project. If you haven’t clicked that link above, you seriously need to. Or find out for yourself just how talented she is by researching it all yourself. But don’t go based on what people are saying or solely on f(x)’s group work. In a group, everyone has to shine, so it’s hard to get individual attention.

I think the point in Amber doing this project is so she can get that attention she hasn’t been getting. This project will prove to doubters her skills and talents. This is her chance to prove herself as an individual. So if you’re still not convinced after my portfolio, this album is her chance to answer all doubting questions of whether she has talent or not.

That concern aside, there is one more concern:

2) An f(x) solo project? That’s never happened before! Does this mean the end of f(x)?

fx-red-light-amber

There are pros and cons to everything, as I always say. So far, f(x) has said they are not disbanding. But there haven’t been any announcements of a comeback for next year, and the only music we know of is Amber’s. After the scandal that happened with Sulli (which you can read at this blog as well, click me), all promotions for f(x)’s last album came to a screeching halt with Sulli going on hiatus. Most fans assumed the end of the group, especially because f(x) only comes out with one comeback a year. They are always doing solo projects.

A solo may not necessarily mean the end of the group. But it could be the start of something that takes the focus off of the group for awhile. With this solo, Amber would have to promote and tour. It’s more time-consuming than filming a few movies.

I know, plenty of K-pop groups have artists that go solo. But that’s just it. My fear is that one member will get so popular, they will leave the other members behind. It has happened in groups around the world. Destiny’s Child is a good example. Beyonce got so popular on her own that she no longer needed Destiny’s Child. Same with Justin Timberlake from Nsync. I feel this is sort of happening with 4Minute. Hyuna is getting so popular on her own, she may make her own statement and may no longer need the support of her group. She honestly doesn’t need their support. Any loyalty she has to the group is because she loves her members. I have this uneasy feeling that an Amber solo project can launch her in a different direction. And I’ll be happy for her, by all means, but I like the group f(x) and will miss them together if they disband.

But hey, I’m still a fan of the Spice Girls even though they’ve disbanded. So, whatever.

The upside is that f(x) Amber will get the chance to show the world how special she is, just like Taemin from Shinee had the opportunity to do so. Thinking positively, it may not mean the end of f(x). f(x) Amber was shown recently promoting “Red Light” at the EYK Awards, so she’s still happy to do work with f(x).

Whatever happens in the future, I hope that each member gets the chance to shine and that all of the members are happy.

And I’m rooting for Amber’s debut. More than likely, I will be first in line to buy it, just like I was for f(x)’s Red Light.

So leave me a comment and let me know what you think about Amber’s solo debut!

Amber Liu f(x) Red Light MV GIF

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I love the “Red Light” screen-shots, don’t you? :P

Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games) or Tris Prior (Divergent)?

30 Nov

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I just got back from seeing The Mockingjay Part 1, and that movie hit a nerve. With all of the protests and riots going on now, the movie was a reminder of all that was going on in the real world. It felt more like propaganda than a nice, easy escape from the harsh realities of the world. It’s not the movie’s fault that it’s right on time.

This movie gave me the same impact that the first movie did, even more-so than the second movie. This movie brought a real-life touch to a fiction story.

I also saw the Insurgent trailer, the sequel to the Divergent movie. I saw a BA character, with a short boy-cut, leaping fearlessly over buildings. It reminded me why I loved Tris Prior so much.

Seeing the two leading lady heroines pack a punch on the same screen I was watching, I was inspired to create this article, just out of curiosity. There are probably other articles out there like this, and they’re probably irritating. I mean, it is irritating when two books with similar genres are compared. It can create all kinds of fan wars. Still, it doesn’t end my curiosity on the subject matter.

I honestly want to know what the people think. Who is your favorite female heroine?

Hunger Games was the movie that started it all. Hunger Games was a movie that made us pay attention to harsh realities such as poverty and hunger. We paid attention to a government system that cared nothing about it’s citizens. We saw the inhumanity as children slaughtered one another in an arena that served as entertainment for the elite. It was not a pretty sight, and I guarantee you, I came out of the theater stunned out of my mind. I didn’t expect the movie to be that…good. I mean, it was directed to teens with a young female heroine. At the time, that was considered the set up for a horrible movie. But it exceeded all expectations. It made me think, it gave me something I didn’t expect, and it portrayed females as powerful creatures, people that even men can respect. This movie started a trend of “female-empowerment”. Without this movie, I doubt there would’ve been Divergent.

We see this reflected in the movie’s main character, Katniss Everdeen. Katniss is just…normal. She’s dry, drab in appearance, she’s a normal girl, and she has weaknesses. She becomes a symbol for freedom by chance. She never wanted to be a rebel or a hero. In the first place, she just wanted to protect her sister and save her own skin. She never had any special combat training beyond learning how to wield a bow and arrow. But this normal girl becomes a rebel. She becomes a heroine for a marginalized group of people. She becomes a symbol of hope and freedom for those who have felt powerless. Using her brains and courage, she found loop-holes in the “system” and captured the hearts of her viewers simply for her own survival. We respected Katniss for being clever and strong during trials.

Again, she isn’t perfect. She never was really that brave, and the most irritating quality is her indecision when it comes to love interests…But we can set that aside, because Katniss makes us feel and understand her. Her life has been traumatizing and we see her react in a strangely human way. She makes the fiction story believable. She isn’t invincible. She’s human, but that’s why people relate to her.

Divergent, on the other hand, starts off with Tris Prior glamorizing the violent, but freedom-loving group, the Dauntless, and thus forming our opinion of Tris early on: She is tough and is ready to fight. Unlike Katniss, she dreams of being free, of armoring up, and trying daring things. She’s not fond of Abnegation, a selfless, compassionate organization. I’ll bet my scarf and mittens Katniss Everdeen would’ve chosen Abnegation if she could magically appear in the story of Divergent. She’s righteous like that. I didn’t feel that same sense with Tris. Tris was irritated with having nothing and being “forced” to care about others…

Divergent brought in a revolution from the beginning, and so we have a movie that moves fast. Tris has a tougher, more combatant personality. She doesn’t flinch when she is shot at. Unlike Katniss, she’s a little more decisive when it comes to love, and hardly shows fear or weakness. She seems like a hero, but she is missing the human feelings that make Katniss feel more realistic. Tris is a little more invincible. She carried herself like a powerful heroine from the beginning. We expected her to be a rebel. She also has more sexual fantasies than Katniss…or rather, fears of being raped…Which ultimately breaks her away from her male audience. Katniss’s movie stays away from the deeper sides of love-making, and Katniss can barely decipher what her feelings even mean.

Katniss’s movie allows men to relate to her. Even in the movie, we see men and boys looking up to the “Mockingjay” as a symbol of hope, not just little girls and women, which would be the usual. In fact, when we see Katniss, we don’t even care she’s a female. She’s just doing what she has to do. Divergent is still early on, but we don’t really feel that those around her will look up to her. If anything, she’s a secret identity, a lone wolf. She may make an impression on her male audience because she wields a gun, but she seems to be a stronger feminist presence that could intimidate males rather than relate to them. The pace of the movie also doesn’t help us strongly connect with Tris…But the books may shed more light on her.

Despite how dystopic Hunger Games is in it’s own world of fiction, clear blurred lines between gender and race make this movie fit into what humans would feel is ideal. Divergent, while having a diverse cast, fails to deliver the same importance to all of it’s characters, even it’s minor characters, enough to make everyone feel quite as included. The nature of the Divergent story focuses on a select few, whereas Hunger Games focuses on mass waves of people in many districts. With Hunger Games, the possibilities are endless, the character count continues to expand, and the chance for many different ethnic groups and genders to shine is open. The main protagonist then becomes a symbol for all of humanity-a universal character.

Still, Tris is the goonest of the two. Tris is less likely to hesitate in a shoot-out.

The whole Divergent movie manages to bring in realistic elements while still holding on to elements that make it feel like fiction. Tris has that feeling. They are trying to convince us that she’s normal, but something about her feels superhuman. She feels like a girl that can do whatever she wants, despite how “normal” she appears. She’s almost like Neo from The Matrix. She has that feeling. Divergent individuals in the movie have that feeling. This is all tripped out, and would be scary if it were real, but when we leave Divergent, we can safely brush it off as fiction.

Hunger Games lost all of it’s fiction feelings with Mockingjay, almost mirroring the real world with the rioting, protests, and execution by a firing squad. Even fire bomb scenes nearly mirrored the Holocaust. Katniss doesn’t seem like a “god-like” character that can save the world. She and her people are as defenseless as Colonists were during the American Revolution against the British military, the strongest military in the world at the time. Throughout her movie, we are just as afraid that she’s going to die as we are afraid for other characters. We are not afraid for Tris because they executed her and her movie in a way that convinces us she’s going to be victorious.

The girls’ strengths make up for the others’ weaknesses. This is why it’s so interesting to get everyone’s take on the two female heroines.

Is it Katniss Everdeen that inspires you?

Or

Is it Tris Prior that inspires you?

Don’t be shy. Please, share your opinions. And I won’t get butt-burned just because you don’t like my favorite female heroine. Express your fullest opinions on why, even if you don’t have a good reason. I’m just curious. :)

The Civil Equality Tests

29 Nov

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Previously, I created a Bly Test and Socrates Test to improve gender relations, and create a more “equal” experience in media. These tests were based off of the Bechdel Test, a test known to create a more equal and fair female movie experience, but is very vague in it’s standards. You can click the links on “Bly Test” or “Socrates Test” to learn more about them…

But lately, the topic seems to be about race and ethnicity. Ever since the Michael Brown case, racial issues have resurfaced into a second “black-power” movement of sorts. Many of the issues center around racism. Though I believe the Michael Brown case had little to do with race, more on that here —>Michael Brown case issue<—, the topic of race was bound to show up sometime in this century. It has been boiling up for years.

Because it has shown up, I realized how tense relations between the many ethnic groups are. The issue is that neither side understands the other, and neither side wants to. The protests show that many ethnic groups, particularly the Caucasian and African American groups, do not trust each other. And yes, I say each other. Neither sides want to be caught up in a race issue, and yet both sides can’t seem to rise above the issue.

Racism still exists, true enough. There are white people out here who hate black people just because they are dark-skinned. There are white people who are closed-minded and think they are better than other ethnic groups. There are white people who believe the European way of doing things is, was, and always will be the superior way of living.

On the other hand, there are some black people who have a difficult “character” to deal with. Many prefer to solve their problems with aggression and violence. And many black people don’t trust any white people and so will find racism in every little thing. That could be challenging for a white person who really isn’t racist. Some black people don’t want to like white people, and want to live their life in hatred. Some have developed racist attitudes themselves (yes, it’s possible for a black person to be racist).

Yet, black issues, even without racism, are ignored. What is resurfacing is something that hasn’t been truly weeded out at the origin. Race issues have only been touched on the surface, but the deeper psychological scars haven’t been healed. Grandmothers are still alive to tell their stories. It still affects the children of today, if even in small ways. Yes, the slaves have been free for hundreds of years. Yes, the civil rights era was over 50 years ago. But were the issues truly resolved at the core? At the deep psychological core?

Because this issue still persists, and because the races still have tension, neither side will cross that dividing line of trust. The real issue lies within. How do we view each other? This issue is even more intense than the division between men and women.

In order to root out racism, one must have insight. Hatred is an internal thing that may not be visible. A superiority complex is something that is bred deep within. The true meaning of racism is to think one race is superior to another. This can be done from all sides. Sometimes, the affect is so deeply-rooted, we may not even realize it is there until we are tested.

This test is to check to see if all of us, we as people, have any hidden inner racist ideas, and to help us become more open-minded to other races. This may not be the overall answer, but it could be the start of healing racial tension.

I’m calling this test the “Civil Equality” Test. This test will push a more equal mind-set in people in a civil way by allowing people to reflect and think about other nationalities outside of their own. This will also rule out any self-hatred. For once, imagine being a different ethnicity for a day. How would you think? How would you feel? What would you do in your daily life? These are simple questions that a person with true understanding of another could answer.

This test may be controversial in nature, and I hate to step myself into racial issues. I like all people. I’m African American, and I’m obsessed with Asian culture. But as such, it’s even more important that I step into this issue.

One may argue that one race could never understand another race. But if we have that attitude, how can we ever resolve racial issues? How can we ever find peace among each other? We all live on this Earth, we can’t escape each other. Understanding is the key to ending war among people…Unless of course you enjoy and thrive on war…Then, you may have some other mental issues you have to work through…

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This test works differently from the Bechdel Test, the Bly Test, and the Socrates Test. This test will pose a series of questions for each person to reflect on and answer. If you can answer ALL of these questions, then your mind is open to learning about other nationalities. This means you are NOT racist, because you don’t think your own ethnicity so superior that you are not willing to try to understand other ethnicity groups. If you can only answer half of these questions, you may be interested in other ethnic groups, but you only care about your own people and are only interested mostly in things that reflect you personally. You may have hidden prejudices or may ignore races you don’t feel fit in your world. If you can’t answer ANY of the questions, you have a hidden superiority complex and are a hidden RACIST. You might want to make friends or associate with different kinds of people so you can understand people outside of your small range of understanding…

So, here come the questions…Not that this should be the ONLY thing that decides whether a person is open to understanding others, but I think this test will be pretty basic. If you can pass this test, you have a start. Even a child could pass this test. So are you ready? Here goes.

1) What is Your Favorite Movie Where one African/Black descendant Male AND one Female Stars as a Main Character

Then name a music artist

Cartoons are included, by the way.

I will begin with this for starters, since this is my own ethnicity, and I will give an example, just to show you how this works. As an African American, I have plenty of knowledge on African American media, so obviously this would be the first to answer. It’s best to start with your own nationality to rule out self-hatred.

I know one African American woman who hates all black media. She never has a good reason why…I sense some self-hatred.

My favorite movie where black males starred are Friday, The Brothers, Bad Boys, Good Burger, and White Chicks. I enjoy all of the Madea movies. My favorite movie where a black female stars is The Princess and the Frog. I also enjoyed CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story and Akeelah and the Bee. I also love 2 Can Play that Game. I also loved Why do Fools Fall in Love and The Color Purple. I loved Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, starring Brandy. I also liked College Road Trip.

Favorite male music artists are Omarion, Usher, Ne-yo, Dru Hill, Chris Brown, Tony! Toni! Tone!, The Jacksons, Prince, Stevie Wonder, The Gap Band, and New Edition. Favorite female music artists are Rihanna, Tamia, Janet Jackson, Monica, Brandy, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, En Vogue, Toni Braxton, and TLC.

See how easy that was? You don’t have to name two, but if you can name more than one, you are really interested in thinking outside of your own realm. If you can name more than one in your own ethnicity, you do not suffer from self-hatred in any way, as you can relate to your own ethnic experience and are not ashamed to watch entertainment geared towards your own target audience.

2) What is Your Favorite Movie Where one Caucasian Male AND one Female Stars as a Main Character (name at least one that is Jewish, too)

Then name a music artist

I know there are plenty to choose from, but it’s still something to consider.

My favorite movie where a Caucasian male stars is Pirates of the Caribbean and all of the Harry Potter series. I also love Stepbrothers and Bedtime Stories. My favorite movie where a Caucasian female stars is A Series of Unfortunate Events. I also enjoyed Hunger Games and Tomb Raider. I also loved The Golden Compass. I absolutely love Annie, Psycho, and all of the American Girl movies.

My favorite male Caucasian artists are Panic!At the Disco, Fall Out Boy, A7X, Justin Timberlake, Adam Lambert, Backstreet Boys, Jesse McCartney, ColdPlay, Robin Thicke, Eminem. My favorite female Caucasian artists are Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Lillix, Gwen Stefani, Avril Lavigne, Lady Gaga, Pink, Adele, Demi Lovato, Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Amy Lee, Hayley Williams, and Miley Cyrus.

3) What is Your Favorite Movie Where one Hispanic/Latino Male AND one Female Stars as a Main Character

Then name a music artist.

My favorite movie where a Hispanic/Latino male stars is The Legend of Zorro. But I’m afraid I don’t watch enough of Spanish media. :( I need to open my mind more…

My favorite movie where a Hispanic/Latino female stars is Gotta Kick It Up and the Cheetah Girls series. I also loved The Princess Protection Program.

I ought to be ashamed of myself. I should have more knowledge of Spanish media. :( You see how honest you have to be with yourself? It takes a lot of courage to have insight.

Perhaps others can recommend some movies where Spanish-speaking individuals star, and excuse my ignorance.

My favorite male Hispanic/Latino music artists are Daddy Yankee, Fat Joe, Miguel, Enrique Iglesias, and Mario Vazquez. My favorite female music artists are J.Lo, Prima J., Selena, Paula DeAnda, Nina Sky, and Adrienne Bailon.

4) What is Your Favorite Movie Where one Asian Male AND one Female Stars as a Main Character

Then name a music artist.

My favorite movies where Asian males starred are Prince of Tennis Chinese live action, Detective Conan live action, Mushishi live action, Fashion King, and Rush Hour. My favorite movies where Asian females starred are When Love Walked In, Mulan, and To The Beautiful You.

My favorite male music artists are Gackt, Shinee, Suju-Henry, Got7, Se7en, Show Luo, Bi-Rain, Jo Kwon, George Nozuka, and Mike Shinoda. My favorite female music artists are BoA, Utada Hikaru, f(x), Keiko Lee, Namie Amuro, Ayumi Hamasaki, Jade Valerie, Kristine Sa, and Jolin Tsai.

5) What is Your Favorite Movie Where one Middle Eastern/Indian/Islamic/ Israeli Male AND one Female stars as a Main character

Then name a music artist.

My favorite movie where a Middle Eastern stars is Million Dollar Arm. Unfortunately, I don’t know too many movies with women starring as leads. :( I need to open my mind here.

My favorite male artist is Tarkan. My favorite female artists are Tina Sugandh, Natacha Atlas, Nawal Al Zoghbi, M.I.A, Super Woman and Humble the Poet, and Samira Said.

6) What is Your Favorite Movie where one Indigenous/Native Male AND one FEMALE stars as a Main Character 

Then name a music artist

My favorite movie where a female stars is Pocahontas. Unfortunately, there aren’t very many that I know here, either. I really need to learn more about other cultures.

My favorite female music artist is Lucy Idlout. I don’t know any Native/Indigenous male artists, unfortunately. :(

So, you see? This one simple examination can reveal how open-minded a person really is. It can also reveal how open-minded media is in representing all kinds of people. Hopefully this sort of test opens people’s minds. Just doing it myself made me realize where I was lacking.

You can bring these questions to other categories, such as literature and television shows. Then you may really be able to open your minds. It’s also healthy to know about at least one historical figure that’s of a different nationality other than your birth nationality. When we can open our minds, and learn about others, we become less racist in our own minds. After all, racism begins as a mentality.

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Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the test. If you’re not too shy, perhaps you can share with me some of your favorite movies with different ethnic groups.

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The Trailer for the Live Adaptation of Cinderella + GN’s Top 15 Favorite Disney Movies of All Time

27 Nov

I’ve recently seen the new trailer of Disney’s latest live adaptation, Cinderella. It brought me back to my childhood for a moment. So nostalgic. <3 If you haven’t seen it yet, I will share it with you here. The movie is due to be out March 2015, so we have a while before it’s released.

My opinions on the trailer? I LOVE it! For once, it appears to be EXACTLY like Disney’s animated movie. Hopefully, it isn’t deceitful like the Maleficent movie was. That movie was such a let down. If you want to know my reasons why, I have the review right here —>Maleficent Review .

A lot of people wish that it had some twist to it, but I think the “twists” are what’s ruining lovable characters. Many of the twists seem forced in already-told stories. I think that if you want a story to be more modern, what happened to people using their imagination and making original stories with modern themes, rather than butchering another story? What’s worse is when these movies, like Maleficent, are titled in a way that implies they are the lovable characters we know, when they turn out to be the exact opposite. At least if you’re going to butcher a story, give it a new title, like Disney happened to do with Frozen

Anyway, I was a little skeptical about seeing any live adaptations from Disney after my disappointment with Maleficent, the weakest mistress of all evil I’d ever seen. But after seeing this trailer, perhaps I’ll give Disney a second chance. Okay, Disney. You sucked me in again this time, but you better not let me down again…

There are many complaints about this movie. Aside from the fact that the story has been told in this way so many times, people have a feeling the movie won’t be interesting. Many people also don’t like the fact that there are very few people of color cast into the movie. As a person of color myself, I feel this is a ridiculous thing to demand from a movie that is based on a European folk-tale. I would rather have an authentic movie than one that is made to fit with every social agenda being pushed nowadays. Other ethnic groups would not appreciate it if an African folk-tale had a Caucasian character as one of the leads, or an Asian folk-tale having a Hispanic character. This was the very problem with Dragon Ball Evolution and Avatar: The Last Airbender. So, everyone needs to chill on that demand and just enjoy a European movie, for once. This is probably actually the first authentic live adaptation of Cinderella that has ever been released.

Well, moving along…

Since we are on the topic of Disney, I’ve recently been watching some clips of my favorite Disney movies, and renewing my childhood all over again. It gave me inspiration. I would like to share with my readers my Top 15 Favorite Disney movies of all time. Why 15? Because I literally have 15 favorite movies.

Disney has that certain “affect” on people. The movies are timeless and entertaining for the whole family. Many of the stories are very deep and interesting for children’s movies, and others are just amazing adventures that can help one escape the mind. Some are just funny. In any case, I’ve gathered all of my favorites together on one list and have narrowed that list to 15 (as difficult as that had been). When I think of good Disney movies, my standards fit my list. After looking at my list, hopefully you get an idea of what I think makes a good Disney movie. You are welcome to share with my your lists. You can tell a lot about a person by the kind of lists they share…

I’ve always been a major fan of Disney, ever since I was a child. I’m even a fan of Kingdom Hearts because of the Disney elements.

So, here I go. Many of you have probably heard of these movies, and others may not have heard of them. Hopefully, if you haven’t, you will check them out next time. I will be starting with #15:

15) Brother Bear

Ah, finally a brother story that doesn’t involve a woman. You know how rare that is to find with males as lead characters? This story is truly a story about brothers. Sometimes, brothers may not be blood-related. You can find a special bond in all of the oddest places. I feel this story was told in a very unique way. It helps to have Phil Collins bring the epic song “Take a Look Through My Eyes” into the picture.

14) Meet the Robinsons

A sweet family movie that encourages kids to “Keep Moving Forward” and is a play on a quote from Walt Disney himself. Louis, the main character, is easy to fall in love with. His quirky intelligence makes him a character that you can only root for. I definitely didn’t expect the Robinsons to be who they were, but it provided and interesting twist on the story. There were still so many mysteries left unanswered, but for some reason, that’s why I loved the movie so much. I hope one day, we learn more about Louis’s past.

13) Wreck It Ralph

I love video games, so when Disney (and Pixar) decided they would make a movie based off of video games, I was all for it. It was a plus that it was a good movie. The story was entertaining the whole way through. The movie threw in familiar characters from popular game titles (such as Street Fighter), and yes, they sold me something I loved. The story was charming, and had a cute little twist that made the movie entertaining. I always thought it would be cool to see all of my favorite video game characters blend in one…Disney made that possible for me with this title.

12) Toy Story

A story about toys that come to life. Nothing was more frightening for me as a child, and yet, I thought it was also cool. I remember when the movie was first released. After watching it, I would stay up all night waiting for my toys to come to life when I wasn’t looking. Apart of me was scared, apart of me was curious. This movie is one of my favorites. I love toys even to this day. And I always enjoy this charming tale about toys that come and go in popularity.

11) Lilo and Stitch

Stitch high-jacked every Disney movie in it’s promotional trailers. There was no way I wasn’t going to see this movie after watching those trailers. When I saw it, I realized there was more to the movie than slap-stick comedy. It was a touching family film with a unique focus: A little girl as the main character and her older sister, who was her guardian. The setting was Hawaii. Disney hardly has children as their lead characters, but the oddball Lilo added to this movie’s unique appeal. And who doesn’t love the adorable Stitch? I can watch this movie again and again, and I always end up falling in love with the characters all over again.

10) Dumbo

This classic tale was way ahead of it’s time in it’s message. The poor outcast Dumbo was judged because of his huge ears. Dumbo never spoke throughout the whole movie, and pantomimed his way through life. But that is what made his character so cute, lovable, and unique. This story had very strong emotional moments. Dumbo was treated in a way that would make any heart break. Plus, there were elements in this movie (such as Dumbo getting drunk) that wouldn’t dare be in kids’ movies today. It has just that touch of edge to make this story likable. And I love the musical numbers in this movie, too.

9) Emperor’s New Groove

David Spade provided the voice for one of Disney’s most comical characters, Emperor Cuzco. Cuzco is not like other Disney lead characters. He’s not so righteous, nice, kind, or considerate. He is the most powerful man in his kingdom, is spoiled, and gets whatever he asks for. I love how this story turns this arrogant King into a positive royal figure. It didn’t even need to focus on romance to make this movie a success. I couldn’t help letting out a chuckle with this movie. It’s still a movie that I love to watch during a sad, rainy day. It always perks my spirits up.

8) Finding Nemo

A small clown fish travels billions of miles across the ocean to find his son. As unbelievable as this may seem, Disney executed this movie in a way that made it believable. This is still my favorite 21st Century movie to ever come out from Disney. I love how detailed the movie was in highlighting the way many of the fish lived, and yet they still managed to give them human emotions and personalities. The animation made everything amazing to see. The characters were anything but typical, and the movie was thrilling and engaging the whole ride through, as well as comical and entertaining. This was probably Disney’s most well-packaged movie. They haven’t had a movie this engaging since.

7) Beauty and the Beast

A dark tale about a curse that was cast on an arrogant prince. From the beginning of the movie, there was an enchanted feeling to it. Every moment could be felt. The dark forest, the spooky castle, and the ferocious beast. When I first watched the movie, I could not imagine Belle falling in love with him. But of course, the story unfolds into a moral lesson about not judging a book by it’s cover. The dark animation and hidden themes make this a favorite of mine.

6) The Lion King

Who doesn’t love the Lion King? Set in the heart of Africa, it is one of the few stories that give the continent justice. The strong musical scores, coupled with powerful vocals, make this movie powerful from the very beginning. What adds to it’s majestic presence is the story, based off of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This was the first Disney movie where one of the protagonists died and wasn’t revived. That harsh “reality” in itself was enough to draw interest, as it was a heavy moment in the story, and hard to deal with throughout. Because of the gravity of the situation, we could easily relate to Simba, the main character and lead protagonist. His rash actions affected everyone in his kingdom, his naivety made him a puppet in a cruel system, and his fear of facing his past made him sort of an anti-hero. He made serious mistakes, but it only made him a stronger king. Many animal experts say that nomadic male lions are the best male lions because they are not so reliant on a pride for survival. Many have traveled alone, and have been out in the world to fend for themselves. When they do get a pride, they strongly appreciate their female lions, who now provide the support they once didn’t have. This story brought out some interesting points about Africa, lions, and Hamlet. This was Disney’s first deep story.

5) Tarzan

This movie is one of Disney’s deepest and most touching movies of all time. From the raging storm that isolates Tarzan and his family to the horrifying encounter with Sabor, a saber-tooth tiger, the movie begins on a threatening note. It’s hard to not want to follow this film all the way through. Throughout the film, Tarzan, a young boy was stranded on a stretch of land off of an African coast, and is raised by gorillas, who become his new family. Of course, fitting in is the hardest for this boy. He just can’t seem to find where he belongs. Eventually, he meets “people”, who look just like him, and especially meets a “female” from his species, which really makes him question where he belongs. This story is mesmerizing. Once you watch, you just can’t stop until the very end, and then you may want to watch all over again. This movie doesn’t truly give a happy-ever-after ending. It’s a bit…bitter-sweet. It never glosses over the harshness of living in the jungles of Africa, and I appreciate it’s honest approach and it’s daring story-telling approach. Word of advice, bring tissues when you watch this movie. If you thought one of the protagonists dying in the Lion King was bad, try watching this movie.

4) Mulan

Mulan is possibly the only female character I respect on every level. As a lead character, she was not in a romantic movie. Her story did not surround love in any way. Her story was about trying to find where she truly belonged. Mulan is the bravest female character. She stole her father’s armor, impersonated a soldier, went through harsh military training, fought in a battle with China’s most fearsome villains, and saved her country using her quick wit. She never focused on her appearance, neither pretty gowns define who she was as a person. Her side-kicks were also amazing additions to the story. This epic, action-oriented tale is rare to find among female leads. Usually, females lead in genres like drama or romance (yawn). Though she had a romantic interest, it was secondary to the story, unlike the other movies made with older female heroines. Mulan is the epitome of a feminist movie. Boys and girls both can enjoy this adventurous tale. What makes it even better is that it takes place in China, and you know I have a serious fascination with Asia. Sure, it’s pretty stereotypical. But I think it was executed in a way that made it a charming movie for the whole family.

3) Atlantis the Lost Empire

Surprisingly, this was one of Disney’s least popular movies. I can’t understand why, for the life of me. Perhaps most people just don’t understand this movie. Perhaps it was lacking in the “magical”, heart-wrenching elements usually present in Disney movies. I’m not sure, but this movie is at the top of my list. From the movie trailer, with the haunting Atlantian words spoken by Princess Kida, I knew this movie was going to be deep. This movie is intelligent. It focuses on a young archaeologist, named Milo, and his fascination with the lost city of Atlantis. There was not one moment, I mean ONE moment, where this movie dragged. It was exciting all the way through. The movie gave me thrills and chills as they traveled through the depths of the Atlantic Ocean just to find this city, and the best part was the adventure was not offer even after they’d all reached the city. The crew that traveled with Milo provided comic relief, but also proved to have useful skills that drove this story along. The villain was what you would typically think a villain would be…but maybe not at the time it came out. Still, the movie was not boring, and was in fact, engaging. I found the movie to carry a hint of mystery, and as the history buff that I am, a strong sense of discovery. Even the first DVD it came on was interesting. I loved going bts to learn more about the language and discoveries. This movie might have been overwhelmingly intelligent for most children, but I wanted to see this movie at age 11, so maybe there were other kids who were interested, too. Perhaps this movie would scare younger kids.

2) Pirates of the Caribbean

This is Disney’s first successful PG-13 movie. And it is definitely one of my favorite movies. The unusually charismatic Jack Sparrow is really the star of the show. However, it’s the dashing Will Turner that gives this movie a heart. His tale of being rescued by sailors and Elizabeth Swann’s company makes the story a nice twisted pretzel. This brought pirate tales back into popularity. I love history, so I appreciate a movie that highlights a pirate’s point-of-view, even if it was glamorized for the sake of the movie. What makes this movie better is that it was an original story inspired from Disney’s attraction at Disney World. They brought all the right actors and actresses in this film, and wrote all the right words in the script. It spread the seed into two other movies. And again, Johnny Depp brought humor to Jack Sparrow, stepping out of his comfort zone for a more comical character. A girl like me can’t resist a movie with two hotties (Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp). <3

1) The Huntchback of Notre Dame

This is my ultimate favorite movie of all time. It is a story that brings up the controversial issue of Church vs State. Using religions to execute capital punishment on innocent people? Very controversial. The theme and message of the movie makes this Disney’s most powerful movie. The musical numbers are superb, ultimate perfection. The emotions are felt through every song. Some of my favorites being “Out There”, “Hell Fire”, “God Help the Outcasts”, and “The Bells of Notre Dame”. I never get tired of this movie. Sometimes, it takes more than one watch to truly and deeply appreciate this movie. What makes this movie the best is the fact that it doesn’t have the perfect fairy-tale ending. It ends on a bitter-sweet note. Nothing turns out the way someone expects. Though we are taught not to judge a book by it’s cover in this movie, poor Quasimodo was still out-shined by the handsome Phoebus. So, yea…Still my favorite movie from Disney, though. The story of Quasimodo really makes people think, and I think this is the movie Disney created without rose-colored glasses. I always like the controversial stuff…

So leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the new Cinderella live adaptation and share with me your list of Disney favorites!

Michael Brown and the Ferguson Protest

25 Nov

Protesters_with_signs_in_Ferguson

The streets were littered with protesters in the USA in regards to Michael Brown, an 18-year old boy who was killed by 28-year old police officer, Darren Wilson. Two young men. After the death, people, many of them African American, began rioting in the streets, robbing from stores and getting into altercations with other police officers.

That happened months ago, but now the verdict in regards to the case was due to come in 11/24. Unfortunately, Wilson was not charged with murder.

Hell broke loose on the streets of Ferguson once again. Protesters, or rioters, rather, began stealing from stores, setting fire to buildings, and vandalizing property.

Protests have been happening in other areas of the nation, such as in Washington, Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

Here’s my spin on the matter:

1) I find Wilson guilty in my own heart.

2) We don’t know the truth about this case.

3) The rioters are in the wrong right now, and disrespecting black people and anyone they claim to represent.

Now, I just want to explain my stand on this issue in a fair, but truthful way. I don’t want to ruffle feathers with such an uncomfortable topic, but I’m not shy when it comes to controversy, either.

I find Darren Wilson Guilty

darren wilson

With Trayvon Martin, I had my suspicions. You can read about that here. But with Brown, I really don’t feel he deserved to die. I really feel that the officer was in the wrong in some way. I don’t feel it was necessarily racially motivated.

I believe he judged the man based on the content of his character. There are a lot of black men in the community to just be singling out one man. This boy did steal, but he didn’t do a major crime for the capitol punishment that was issued.

I don’t know every gory detail of this case, but I do know that the boy was shot way more than once. I understand the young man was strong, but after the first shot, why go any further? After the first shot, I would’ve asked, “Are you going to surrender?” Really, he should have stayed in the vehicle and waited for back up after the boy fled the car. The cop obviously wasn’t strong enough to subdue the young man. But to shoot the boy more than five times? I can even understand two shots, but seven?

I think the cop was mad, lost control, and felt his own power. I believe he was young and thought he was going to teach the boy a lesson. I understand how crazy these children can be. I work with them. But whenever you have a position of authority, you always have to remember that everyone has their reasons for what they do.

From the story, there are two versions. Wilson’s version makes Brown out to be the aggressor, the one who provoked the fight. Brown’s friend, who was with him during the altercation, has an entirely different story. Witnesses all conflict in what they heard and saw. But one thing was adding up: There were way too many gunshots than there needed to be.

Should that boy have robbed from that store? Nope. And if he had a better moral character, this wouldn’t have happened. But it’s the cop’s job to make sure true justice is served. With Brown dead, can he really learn from his mistake now? Can others learn from his mistake? True justice would’ve been served with him alive, and certainly not shot more than five times. I believe both were wrong. But Brown has already paid for his wrong deed.

What payment is being due to Wilson, who acted out of control and trigger-happy with his gun? Not enough.

But as Yuuko from XXXHOLIC would say, “sure, you are getting away with it now, but you won’t be able to leave the house”. Something to that affect. He will be a prisoner wherever he goes.

I know police officers. I have had family members who were cops, all black cops. I understand that when someone signs up to be an officer, they are literally taking a chance with their life everyday. Really, they have sacrificed their comforts and safety to try to protect the community.

But some officers get comfortable with having that little power and carrying that gun, especially when they are young and inexperienced. Wilson strikes me as that kind of rookie cop. He probably has never experienced a one-on-one death threat before, and felt challenged by this bold boy who acted unafraid of the police. They exist out here. The criminal often feels his power as much as the cop trying to subdue him does. It takes an arrogant person to rob a store in broad daylight and not think nothing was coming to them. A thief must feel he has the power to walk in some place and take what he pleases, without fear. In this case, we expect that from a young man.

Not from a cop. The cop stole something from someone that night, too. He robbed a family of a son, brother, cousin, and he took someone else’s life. We expect an immature child thief to over-exercise his power, but we would hope our police officers would keep a cool head on their shoulders and not act irrational out of anger or revenge. It’s seriously a scary thought. On both ends, for both parties. And it makes this issue even more sticky…Of course…

We don’t Know the Truth About This Case

We have Wilson’s testimony, but obviously, he’s going to make himself out to be a victim. We have Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, who was involved in this altercation. We can’t really trust his word completely because he might side with his friend, even if the facts prove otherwise. Young people hate authority, and so you can’t trust everything they say.

Some of Wilson’s testimony seems legit. Read his testimony here. —>Darren Wilson’s testimony He claims that Michael Brown “taunted him” by calling him a “p***y” and “assaulted him”. Guess what? I believe him. Being the age Brown was, and in the kind of neighborhood, I believe it. I work with inner city African American children (and was once an African American child myself, now I am an adult), and most of them influence each other to be the same: Extremely disrespectful towards authority. There are only a few well-behaved, respectful children. Being respectful does not always mean being obedient to every rule, but showing respect even when you disagree with a rule or a law. Most of the young black children I know don’t respect ANY authority, not even if the authority is black.

No, this testimony is not easy for a grieving mother to grasp, as every mother wants to feel that their children were precious “angels”, and no one wants to lose a loved one. But come on, we all know, deep down, Michael Brown had some hand in his demise. I doubt the altercation would’ve escalated to that point had he been calm the whole time.

On the other hand, I believe the witnesses and Brown’s friend when they say Brown had his hands up in surrender. I believe that Wilson, so angry after being taunted, lost control, and began trying to prove to Brown he was not a wimp. He was angry, and wanted to show Brown up for making him look like a weak cop. That’s my understanding of the matter. I believe that the cop may have jerked his car door, accidentally hitting Brown. I believe he grabbed Brown by the neck. I believe the officer and Brown exchanged cuss words, aggravating the situation. I believe that Brown was trying to surrender, albeit with an angry tone of voice, but surrender nonetheless. I believe the cop misunderstood his actions.

Perhaps Brown stuck his hand in his waistband to scare the cop at first, we don’t know. But eventually, I believe he gave up after he realized the cop was willing to shoot him. This is when the shots should have ended.

The other Witnesses may count for something, but we don’t know who is neutral about the situation, and who just hates when white people have authority in black communities. There are black people who just hate to see a white cop (or any cop) in an altercation with a black person, and they will more than likely side with the black person (even a criminal) even though he is wrong.

Still, they are the only eyes and ears that can shed light on the case. They shouldn’t be ignored. And through everything a person says, everything may not be true, but I believe you can find some truth in everything said.

Read all the evidence presented in the case —>>> Here. It has all been released.

I understand all of this confusion can make people angry, especially the family and friends of Brown. I would want to fight someone, too. But…

The Rioters are in the Wrong Right Now, and Disrespecting Black people and Everyone They Claim to Represent

Ferguson,_Day_4,_Photo_13

I understand everyone is angry. I understand the feeling that you are powerless, and there is nothing you feel you can do. I felt that same powerlessness, which is why I started this blog. It almost feels like black people’s voices are being ignored. It may even feel like people are getting desensitized towards black people because of a handful of black characters who actually do commit crimes. All black people get stuffed together because of the actions of one, and it isn’t fair.

But is rioting going to make people see that Michael Brown was being “profiled”? Being “profiled” is being suspicious of black people, especially men, simply because they are black men. It’s stereotyping all black men to be the same, pinning them to crimes committed within the community, when they are innocent. (But Michael Brown did commit a crime by robbing a store hours before his death, so…He wasn’t profiled).

By committing a crime, are you proving to the world that black people are blamed for “no justifiable reasons”? Or are you proving that black people love to commit crimes, and now that they have a reason to do it, they are going to?

I understand some black people want to send a message. They want to show that if they can’t trust their police officers, they might as well not follow the laws of the land. In other words, they feel if even the cops can commit crimes and get away with it, they should be able to get away with it, too. The more I put this in words, the stupider it sounds.

If you’re going to send a message that promotes anti-violence and the end of legal criminal activity, wouldn’t it be more effective to make yourself look like a solid citizen? If you act wild, with violence and legal criminal activity, then people begin to understand why police are so rough on your neighborhood, and they definitely wouldn’t take your cause seriously. You would be no different from the cop! I should say the whole community appears to be crazy. But if the people had acted peacefully, it really would’ve been a stab at the police. By rioting, they negated the purpose of the protest and made it about themselves.  Who can take the protesters of Ferguson seriously now? They aren’t representing Michael Brown by rioting, and they certainly aren’t helping empower black people. They are giving power to those oppressing black people.

There have been a lot of race riots in the past, but did it solve anything? No. The most effective movements have always been non-violent protests. The world has gotten farther with non-violent boycotts than with violence and rioting. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi were examples of how these movements have benefited people. There was less bloodshed and more understanding from the ones oppressing them. The only way to end racism is to understand one another. Do black people truly want to end racism? Do they want white people to understand them? Or do they thrive on their hate and anger towards white people and any other people they feel oppressed by? If the latter is the case, black people must have a love-hate relationship with racism. They hate that they can’t get anywhere in life with oppression, but they like being the under-dog and having a scapegoat cry of “racism” that could get them out of trouble whenever they need it. In this case, they are playing the American Justice System. They hate the system when it doesn’t benefit them, but they use the freedom of speech and equal rights clauses, amendments of the land, to empower themselves whenever they need it. I guess something about the system is benefiting them. In other countries, there are no equal rights clauses to benefit the oppressed. And black people have a right to take full advantage of that system, but let’s not take it for granted. You can only cry “race” for so long before, as MLK put it, the “content of character” begins to show.

And what does the rioting tell me about the black community in Ferguson? What is the “content of their character”? Honestly, it is not a place I want to visit, and those rioters are not individuals I want to meet. And that is sad. I really wouldn’t feel safe being there. That’s sad that I feel that way about a black community. Apparently, it’s so bad, they’ve stopped airplanes from entering and exiting Ferguson. I don’t want to judge these people, as I’m sure there are some good people there that the media isn’t showing, but I can say honestly, it turns me off, if even a little bit. I would love to go there and help, but I don’t want to be robbed and looted as I’m entering a city that is about to go bankrupt in a minute, due to the looting.

Look at how disrespectful all of this is to Michael Brown and his family. Sure, the family probably felt a sense of healing to know that people felt so strongly about the loss of their son. Possibly, at first they were happy everything was burning to the ground, because that’s probably how they felt inside. But after awhile, they probably began to see black-owned businesses burning, people scared, and all the hateful backlash, and it just pained the family in the long run. Whatever love the rioters were trying to show the families proved counter-productive.

Especially because these rioters were destroying their own community, their own businesses, their own streets! Before you destroy something, think to yourself, where am I going to sleep tonight? I’ll bet the good number of people who tore everything up didn’t have homes or jobs. If they did, they would’ve thought about these consequences. And if they did have a job and home, they probably don’t have one anymore. And even if they still do hold a job after this, the community is going to be in debt, due to all the damage that has to be fixed. It’s hard enough for black people to find jobs as it is, now you destroy the jobs you do have? Why set your people back further like that? Black people have destroyed themselves by rioting. Aside from jobs, now where are people going to buy things from? You burned your gas stations. Where are local people going to get their gas from now? I would hate to have to drive out of my community just to get to a gas station! You robbed your phone stores. Now where are you going to get phone service? All the drug stores are looted. Now where can people get their cigarettes? You know how people get when they can’t get their cigs!

Cars were burning, so how are people going to get home? What are they going to do if they don’t have good insurance? People just don’t think about others.

I understand things are just things, and lives are important. But isn’t all of this threatening to the ones still living? Should there be more bloodshed of the innocent on account of one semi-innocent victim?

They even looted the Chinese restaurant! What did they ever do to black people? When we get to this point, it’s no longer about race, and it’s no longer about Michael Brown. In fact, by this point, people are beginning to question whether any of this was about race or Michael Brown in the first place. Thanks for destroying what could have been a strong reform in the Criminal Justice System. This just makes the Criminal Justice System even more aggressive in their tactics and even more tight. It makes them look right about the community, and it makes the people look like they don’t know what they’re talking about!

We have black people saying, “This is nothing compared to Michael Brown’s body on the street. The city can be rebuilt, they have insurance. But Michael can’t be brought back to life.” Well, they won’t be singing that tune when their checks are hashed with taxes to pay up. Insurance can only cover so much. And you better hope some of those businesses have everything insured, especially small shops. You know how these insurance companies can be. And without jobs, these people may end up like Michael Brown, especially with the winter in full swing. How will the employees of the burned-down businesses thrive? It’s not like it will be easy to find a job in the community.

The real question is: What do black people hope to achieve out of this? And I’m not talking about the family. They just want an indictment. I’m talking about if there had been an indictment, and for future cases. Do black people truly want a better Justice System? With a stronger Justice System, black people won’t be able to pull the same card they usually pull. How will that ever be achieved when you won’t ever trust the police, no matter what? Even if there was change, could black people trust that things have changed, even with imperfect men trying to keep law and order? And if that system was better, would they comply with the laws better? Or are they just using all of this as an excuse to commit crimes, and don’t really care if they have good law-abiding cops?

I mean, authority figures are never anyone’s friend. They are certainly not friends with the people of this community, who seemed like they lacked total respect for police, looking at how Brown acted towards policemen. They are attacking other cops on account of this one cop. They are pitting all cops in the same category. They are setting fire to police cars in their own community, the same cars that could possibly save another life with the right reform. I understand if they don’t trust any of the cops now. Did they ever trust them in this community? Is it that they want all of the cops fired and replaced? Preferably, with more black cops? My community has nothing but black policemen, but it’s no different. There is still struggle between criminals and cops. Will a reform in the Justice System truly create safety? If not, what will stop people from being murdered in their beds or robbed in the streets?

It pains me to see another black community going down in flames. I want to see better of my people, I really do. But how can I support people who don’t want to help themselves, and instead, are only out to gain something for themselves out of someone else’s pain? Is robbing a liquor store going to solve this issue? Really!

And hey, I have felt racism. I know what true racism is. Racism is something far different than what is being experienced here. Racism is when someone is innocent and is accused by authority without a reason, just because of the color of their skin. I’ve experienced this in school and on the job. This boy had a reason for why he was stopped, and he was not innocent. It didn’t have to escalate as far as it went, but he was still not innocent. Rioting brings out all of the flaws of the case. It brings out a seed in this community that was probably influencing Michael Brown everyday, which is why he thought it was okay to steal in the first place. Before you do something, consider how your actions will affect the children in the community. Think how the same seed of rioting and looting actually killed Michael Brown in the first place. Straighten up your actions so you can be a better influence on the next generation.

In conclusion, I beg the people of Ferguson to focus on seeing justice in a peaceful, but more powerful way. I pray for the families affected by this tragedy. And I hope stability is restored to the community soon.

Leave me a comment and let me know your opinion on the Michael Brown case!

Kit Kittredge: American Girl Beforever’s “Bad Girl”

21 Nov

generationnext:

Want to learn more about American Girl Beforever’s “bad girl”?

Originally posted on Generation Next:

American Girl brand consists of a line of 18″ dolls both from the past and from the present. The original heart of the brand was the American Girl historical dolls. They each come with six books that tell each girl’s story. The American Girl brand was designed to inspire girls to read and learn about history. The stories focus on heroic 9 to 10 year old girls who display courage, compassion, and an ability to work hard. Obviously, these stories are meant to teach moral lessons, so the girls are meant to have upright personalities to fit. At least, that was what they were meant to have…

However, when we look closer at Kit Kittredge, we may get a totally different impression.

Looking at the doll, it’s hard to imagine that a doll with a soft, pretty sweater and skirt, with the lovely cute bob is anything but innocent and…

View original 2,318 more words

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