Boyhood. Sad Face.

I did not like Boyhood.

I remember last year when I first started reading about Linklater’s film, I was intrigued. The story of how the film was made is interesting and no doubt, a great accomplishment. That they could film this continuous story over 12 years with the same actors is both ambitious and risky. Yet, it paid off immensely as the film started to get attention and more and more people sung its praises. My excitement level grew after every review that I read, but the review that flat out sold me was Drew McWeeny’s review over at Hitfix. Seriously, that is a phenomenal piece of writing and one of the best reviews I have read in a long time.

Now, my anticipation for the movie was through the roof. I kept looking at when the film would expand. Why isn’t this showing in more places? Will I even get a chance to see this one? Binghamton rarely gets the smaller films and/or if they do, it comes months after. So, I was looking at when the movie would be playing back at home, and lo and behold, it was playing around the time that I was planning to go home. Or did I time it that way? I can’t remember. Is that bad? O, well.

So, I go home one week last year. I wake up in the morning–I think it was a Saturday, and head to an early morning showing. O yea, I have no problem watching movies alone. 1. No one in my family cares about movies the same way that I do and 2. It is just so much more convenient and hassle-free. But, back to the movie. I enter the theater; it’s playing in one those smaller ones–you know the ones with only a one door entrance. The theater is empty. I can’t remember if there were one or two people that eventually showed up but it felt like I was the only one there. So, the trailers finish, and I think to myself, “this is it.”

The film ends, and my first thought is “huh?” I had to process why I was having the reaction that I was having. Could it be that I was feeling disappointment?

“Nooooo, stop it. You will love it. Just give it time–it’s one of those films”

It’s been months since I have seen the film, and I still feel the same way. I know this post is largely dramatic, but it really does suck when you don’t like something that is so universally loved. I know some people that think critical consenus is bs, but I don’t agree. I think a film, or television show, or an album that can touch so many different people, is extraordinary. Drew’s review and how the movie hit so close to home for him is a perfect example of this. I do not begrudge that. Honestly, I’m jealous, because I wish I had that reaction.

I have thought long and hard about why I did not particularly enjoy Boyhood. The movie felt extremely tedious to me. I think you if you strip away the premise and execution that went in making the film, you have a fairly generic coming-of-age story. It is also a very white movie. That is not particularly surprising as most movies are largely the same. Yet, it just was not compelling to me. The entire movie is largely dependent on Ellar Coltrane’s performance, and while he did an okay job, I just do not think it was enough.

Then you have Patricia Arquette’s performance. Look, I think she did a fine job. But, that one scene that everyone is taking about–the one where she has the breakdown when Mason goes off to college, did not work for me. I remember watching it in theaters and thinking that this is really awkward and does not fit with what we have seen in everything leading up to this moment. I’ve seen people state that it’s about motherhood, but it felt out of place to me. I honestly do not know but it also felt like a very white reaction?

I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating, the way Boyhood was made is far more interesting than the actual film itself. The way it was made is daring, but the story presented to us is much of the same. The thing is I can write a whole other post about the lack of diversity in films. That is a problem that still exists today as the 2015 Oscar nominations clearly indicate. Zero…ZERO actors of color nominated in the acting categories. Do not even get me started. Yet, there were many largely white movies and stories that I saw last year that I did enjoy. For instance, Whiplash–one of my favorite movies of 2014. The thing is there was an actual story, and it was enthralling. Can we talk about THAT final sequence?

So, yeah. Boyhood. Not a fan. But, I can see why so many people loved it. I respect that.

Now, go see Selma (and Whiplash) (and Nightcrawler).

the unyielding desire to be right

I am an observant person by nature. I prefer to stand back, take things in, and quietly process said things. While I may have  more of a vocal presence online, I tend to keep most of my thoughts to myself. I bring this up because lately, I have been seeing much of the opposite. People have this unyielding desire to be right–to be the loudest voices and simultaneously, shut anyone who disagrees out of the conversation.

The Christian world is a great depiction of this type of behavior. The biggest voices tend to dictate the conversations. There is no room for disagreement, especially because no one is willing to earnestly listen. It’s very easy for people that have had a relatively great life to make blanket statements.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve found it extremely challenging to adopt that “I’m right, you’re wrong” type of mentality. My faith is important to me, but I can’t say that I am an exemplary Christian by an means [whatever that means/looks like]. This has been my struggle. I’ve seen people that I know scoff at the topic of feminism because that is not seen in a favorable light or part of the so-called appropriate Church discussion. I’ve seen people largely ignore issues of racism, especially when it comes to the Church. I’ve seen people largely shy away from talking about sexual abuse.

It’s frustrating. Everything is black and white, and the moment you say something that is in the slightest, not in line with “mainstream Christianity” thinking, then you are going to hell. I refuse to accept that, but at the same time what can you really say to those kinds of people. It’s a just a continuous, vicious cycle of arguments. Meanwhile, people are actually hurting.

So what do you do? Sometimes, you talk but other times you silently push forward because it’s just not worth it.

#Ferguson thoughts

I’m sure by now, you must have been inundated with posts, tweets. etc about what’s happening in Ferguson. I don’t want to bombard you with my thoughts on the entire situation, especially when people have said it much better than I could ever have. Peep Shaun King’s (@ShaunKing) twitter timeline for starters. He has been relentlessly fighting the cause of Ferguson, specifically the tragic, senseless murder of Mike Brown and why it matters (because apparently, being human doesn’t really mean much nowadays, especially if you are a black person). I’m so thankful that I follow him because he continues to enlighten me and make me think deeper on issues of race. I, admit, his timeline may be a bit overwhelming, but check out these compilations of tweets at Storify: 1. On the Psychopathy of Racism and 2. On the Eyewitness Accounts of the Michael Brown Shooting.

The reason why I felt compelled to write this post, is two-fold.

Firstly, I feel like this is an issue where the Church likes to downplay. Much of what I’ve been seeing/reading these past few weeks, makes my heart sad. It just seems like the Christian world at-large is tone deaf. People would rather get defensive, or scold others for actually caring about what’s going in Ferguson. It’s more than just caring for Ferguson, it’s largely because people actually care about Mike Brown, and what his death represents. It baffles me that people who want to believe in this colorblind version of the world, cannot see how contradictory their actions and words are. 

Secondly, there is a lot of racism that exists within the Indian community. Yes, we have experienced racism, but there are many Indians who are racist. I am probably going to get a lot of heat for this, but I refuse to stand, idly by when I know something wrong is happening. This is an issue where I don’t even know where to begin or even how to solve it, but I believe the first step is addressing it.  I find it hard because no one wants to have these conversations, and a lot of the time, I find myself alone, talking to a wall. We have a history of sweeping things under the rug, but I am tired of that.

Something needs to give. People are hurting.

#TakeDownThatPost

So, I was debating whether to write this post because I have already read some great points on why this post from the Leadership Journal is so problematic. Long story short: the publication gave a criminally charged sexual predator a platform to “share his story.” I mean, that alone should create some major red flags. How it managed to actually get approved still baffles me. The publication has since then taken the post down and issued an apology, which you can find here.

I first learned of the article through Emily Maynard (@emelina), a person I happen to follow on twitter. [Sidenote: Follow her. Just do it] Emily and many others started the hashtag, #TakeDownThatPost to persuade the appropriate staff at the publication to do the right thing and remove the article. It was so damn touching to see that a bunch of Twitter followers could be the voice for that voiceless victim.

When I saw that article, I knew that I could not be silent. That I needed to be more than a silent participant. As a former victim of sexual abuse, I know all to well, the feeling of shame that engulfs you. The feeling of utter loneliness and despair that consumes your life. The long and hard journey that it takes to reach some sort of healing or just a way to move forward. Multiply all those feelings and emotions, and then imagine being a Christian on top of that. People think that a few Christian-ese phrases can erase the thing that happened to you. It does not. So you don’t want to share because most people who you know can only offer empty words. You don’t really blame them because that’s what Christianity has become. Yet, it should not be like that.

#TakeDownThatPost may be perceived by some as a little thing on a social media website, but it is so much more than that. It is important. Those that feel like that they have no voice because of the things that have happened to them need to know that they are loved. That it is not their fault. That there are people out there that are fighting for them. That their voices are important. Another twitter participant, Micah J. Murray (@micahjmurray) noted, “those who participated in #TakeDownThatPost have shown courage, grace, and true leadership. This is what Christianity can look like today.” I could not have said it better.

Indian Culture

There are so many great things about being Indian or American Indian or American or however you want to identify as a brown person born in America. For one thing, Indian families are generally very large, which meant that I was fortunate to grow up with and/or know many of my cousins. The numerous family gatherings were and are still some of the highlights of my life. These family gatherings were places where we [the kids] could bond while the adults discussed mundane things that we did not care about. What made the gatherings even more worthwhile was the kick-ass food. O, the food! Can I just say that so many people in my family were blessed by the Father up above when it comes to cooking. I still think about those events–those moments as a kid where I did not have to think about “grown-up” things, and could just be blissfully ignorant. See, the idea of family is so important in the Indian culture, and for that I am forever grateful. I know how fortunate I am to have a family that loves me, and would be willing to do anything for me (well mostly anything).

Yet, as kids tend to do, they grow older. I got older. As you mature, and start to make sense of things on your own, you begin to see the cracks in your culture. A culture that you love. A culture that places significance on education and religion. A culture that is both deeply amazing and deeply flawed. A culture that instills in you a desire to work tremendously hard, but also one that prohibits you from speaking up. A culture that tells you from the get-go that Christianity is in our blood, but one that emphasizes religiosity over actual faith.

Sometimes I wonder why I had to be that person; the person that saw things differently. Why couldn’t I just be just the good kid? Why couldn’t that be enough? I’ve always been known to be the quiet, nice one within our extended family, and I am those things, but I also just keep a lot of things to myself. I’ve learned in life you just have to pick your battles, and a lot of times it’s just not worth it. One thing Indians are great at doing is silently judging you; they won’t say anything to your face, but eventually word will spread, and oh it will, and now everyone in the Indian community knows your story. It’s the thing that I absolutely hate about my culture, and that may just be human nature in general, but it goes much deeper than that. See, the Indian Christian community does many great things, but as someone who has grown up and been around the Indian Christian scene for a long time, I know so much goes unsaid. Why? Because people are scared and ashamed, and feel like they will be judged for saying anything. Because we’ve been brought up in a culture that stifles necessary conversation however uncomfortable it may be. A culture that would rather sweep things under the rug because that is easy, and so that no one will get their feelings hurt. It is awful and it breaks my heart.

Remember, when I said that there are days where I wish I wasn’t this person because honestly, sometimes it really sucks. Yet, I can’t change what happened to me when I was younger. I’ve written about it before, but to put it bluntly, I was sexually abused as a child. I have grown so much since then; I have been able to move forward in my life in so many different ways, but it was not easy at all. I do not want this to be a sob story, but it was extremely difficult not having anyone to talk to about it. There already is a deep sense of shame with something like this even though you know it is not your fault—that feeling of shame only multiplies when you are brought up in a culture that blindly ignores anything that is even remotely uncomfortable. A culture so interwoven with Christianity that it really is no longer Christianity, but instead, the Indian culture’s perception of that religion. So, they throw a couple of albeit nice, but generic phrases like “God will get you through this” or “God is bigger than your problems.” And there I was, a teenager, who discovered that yes, something horrible happened to me as a child, and no, it wasn’t just a nightmare, and I had no one to guide me through such complex emotions. Still, I pressed forward, I kept my faith (even though, at times, I wasn’t sure why the hell I did), and I did my thing. My parents have always been supportive and loving, and while I couldn’t be open with them, it definitely helped in my healing process. So, I worked hard in high school, and I went off to college, and I was eventually, able to open about the things that happened to me to a few people. It was tough and awkward, but also, incredibly freeing.

I was able to move forward, but not everyone can. I still have tough days, but I know the worst is behind me. The thing is when someone hears about sexual abuse or rape or whatever, they never think about the long-term effects. That was what really screwed me up. Yes, something horrible happened to me that I blocked it out of my memory, but the ramifications of that horrible incident messed me up even more than I could even imagine. I had an incredibly hard time getting close with people, and the idea of having a relationship, seemed extremely daunting. How could I ever get close with a person with all this heavy baggage? Those are still some of the things I’m working through, but they aren’t eating me up at night like they used to. It’s an incredibly complicated situation that I could go on and on about, especially because I’ve always felt like an introvert to begin with.

Earlier I mentioned how I sometimes regretted the person that I am because it comes with a terrible thing that I wish I could erase. Yet, it also means that I can’t look at things the way my culture looks at things. I just cannot. I can’t just blindly go with the flow, and accept the status quo. I’ve been silent about a lot of things, but lately, I’ve been realizing that my voice is important for my culture, especially for people that have been in similar situations, or even worse ones. I know they are there—I may not know all of their names, but I know they exist. Rape, sexual abuse, sexuality, domestic violence, etc may all be uncomfortable things to talk about, especially for Indians, but honestly, who cares. Yes, they may be deemed controversial, but actual human being went through these things. Your mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins. Your family. Yes, these things happen within the Indian community whether you want to accept it or not. And it’s not that these things just happen, but it actually is a bigger problem than most Indians want to believe. I don’t know where to go from here—I am just one person. But, I want others to know that you are not alone. I know our culture indirectly makes us feel inadequate at times, but all of our voices are important. There is so much I love about my culture, but there is also so much that needs to be changed…