Millennials and Religion

Categories: Reading, Screening

Disclaimer:

          When discussing religion, I think it’s responsible to state my personal stance on such a tricky subject. Then the synthesis of analysis of media for this week can be put in some kind of context.

          Religion is weird in my family. Never really touched upon in conversation. My mother is Catholic and was raised in an Irish Catholic home. My father is a Protestant but not a good one. I believe that religion will always be an important part of my mother’s life but due to circumstances and the context of the time she put it on the back burner. Consequently she raised two un-baptized and relatively outspoken atheists. I spent two years studying at a Catholic institution and Religion classes there pissed me off! Hence I labeled myself atheist. However, spirituality fascinates me and in the last year I have looked to redefine my beliefs. Labels are necessary in society, so I am an apatheist.

          My stance on religion albeit considered unorthodox by many, is still somewhat millennial. The Pew Forum statistics states that young adults “exhibit lower levels of religious intensity than their elders do today”. The report does go into more details concerning different religious groups and various aspects of religious expression but the statement still rings true overall. As it is stated in Louisa Ellen Stein’s article “‘What you don’t know’: Supernatural fan vids and millennial theology”, young people have faith but no dogma. They are spiritual but not organized about it.

          I actually based this entire post around one key argument presented by Line Nybro Petersen from “Renegotiating religious imaginations through transformations of ‘banal religion’ in Supernatural”. I had a lot to say on the matter and had to structure it accordingly so I stayed on topic. The quote:

State churches and traditional religions in general have not been able to meet the needs of people living in modern societies, and rather than maintaining a lifelong commitment to their faiths, people constantly transform religion according to their life situations.

          Strauss and Howe argued that each generation is marked by an event, something that defines certain aspects of its behavior. For the millennials it was 9/11. This was an event marked as religiously motivated (among other motivations). The boomers had the protests for Civil Rights; the millennials have such protests for the rights of homosexuals. Religious protest against such does not have a favorable image. Acts by leaders or devout followers of traditional religions are vilified and most rightly so. In such context, religion has not been able to meet the needs of today and is not necessarily seen in a good light. Therefore, it is understandable that there is a representation of an imperfect Christianity in Supernatural. It reflects the tendency in the media to reject institutionalized religion, instead showing more transformative beliefs. Supernatural, from someone who has only watched the one episode, does seem overwhelmingly Christian. The tools that Dean gathers as weapons to defend himself against Castiel are inherently Christian, holy water and salt. The implication that Christian tools are the most effective to fight off evil is overwhelming. Then the introduction of an Angel, who raised Dean from the dead on God’s orders, as Stein notes, this is a recreation of the narrative of Jesus. But it is imperfect Christianity. Castiel does not appear ethereally. He appears imperfectly and human. His entrance into the narrative is marked by fear, violence and the death or maiming of innocents. His wings are black and shadowed (Stein). Stein noted the finale of season 4 as coming to the revelation “that the angels are working to bring the apocalypse, that there is little difference between heaven and hell, and that God may very well have left the building”. My interpretation of that is that institutionalized ideas of religion only bring chaos and destruction.

          Strangely enough, that brings me to The Secret Life of the American Teenager. In a world apparently filled with transformative religious beliefs, The Secret Life goes against the grain. When the name Brenda Hampton came up at the end, alarm bells went off in the useless trivia part of my brain. This is the woman that brought the world 7th Heaven. To come to the link between the shows one must look to the original Petersen quote. People are transforming religion to fit into a modern context, Supernatural did it by addressing millennials ambivalent attitude towards traditional religion. The Secret Life is doing it by superficially attempting to adapt religious conventions to modern life, but laughably so. For example, abortion exists as an option only to be immediately dismissed. Recognizing abortion is religious adaption; the fact that it is not an option though is still institutionalized religion. Essentially then, The Secret Life shows the dogma of religion. Obviously, it is more in the context of sex than destruction.

          The Secret Life is a one dimensional, predictable and clichéd show. It had potential. If it told the story from one perspective: Amy, the pregnant teenager, key lessons could be learnt through exploring the difficulties of her world. Instead it addresses every aspect of teen sex, with a horde of unlikable, preachy and stereotypical characters. Ricky, the abused boy who has sex to appease his insecurities and his slutty girlfriend, Adrian who will inevitably be portrayed as having daddy issues. Then the Christian boy Jack, he suffers humiliation after his first sexual experience by the whole school finding out. Finally, the adults, Amy’s dad gives strict lectures about boys and sex but then concludes with the statement that boys only like nice girls, making his entire ramble completely contradictory. They are all one-dimensional characters that are created to push a dogmatic message across instead of an emotional narrative on the consequences of sex. The portrayal of religion in The Secret Life was laughable, almost satirical. Through pushing a dogma the viewers saw it’s holes.

          This possibly presents the picture of why millennials are so apprehensive of religious institutions. They don’t meet the needs of people living in modern day society. The grey areas in life are vast; people are not one-dimensional and good and bad can come out of the same actions. The assumption that one set of morals is infallible is unrealistic and down right dangerous.

Millennials and Religion (also thoughts on technology and religion!)

Essentially, the general trend is that the presence of religion is declining in the daily lives of Millennials. Fewer Millennials are affiliated with a particular religion, and spend less time praying than former generations. Young people are more tolerant of homosexuality, abortion, and general deviations from the norm. Millennials are more skeptical of institutionalized religion and are less likely to interpret the Bible literally than other generations. The statistical article does point out thatreligious zeal could also be a function of age, but the idea is that religion has less influence over young lives than it used to.

Still, the article contends that young people generally still maintain belief in a God and the existence of a Heaven/Hell. I find this interesting because these two beliefs are the basis for the show Supernatural, which draws upon Millennials' religious conceptions in order to entertain and provoke discussion. As a person unaffiliated with any particular religion, my views of religion and Christianity were not really influenced by watching the show. I wonder how I would feel if I were a devout Christian, however. In some ways, Christianity and religion are being manipulated in the show in order to thrill and intrigue. Drawing upon actual religious texts and symbols gives authenticity to the show, making it scarier and more watchable.

What makes Supernatural so appealing to Millennials? As Petersen suggests, "There is a strong sense of contiuity with the past" and a "romanticized understanding of ancient cultures and spiritualities." Essentially, we are drawn to Supernatural because we are simultaneously fascinated and haunted by history. This observation is at odds with Stein's conclusion that decreased religious affiliation in Millennials represents a decline of tradition. She claims that traditional, conservative values are being traded in for indulgence and tolerance. Perhaps we are searching for both history and revolution. I would argue that Supernatural synthesizes these two, which is the main reason why it is so appealing. Supernatural makes God and religious themes accessible, hip, exciting, and multifaceted.

Furthermore, Supernatural transcends religion in that it reaches out to humanity as a whole. It taps into people's irrational fears of inhuman creatures and the unknown. These two things are common themes in horror movies. Think about it. Monsters such as vampires, zombies, werewolves, etc. are scary because they appear human but aren't, which is a scary concept for us. The unknown is also a feature of many movies in the Thriller genre. As Petersen points out, there are so many psychic characters in the media, as we greatly fear the impending future. Psychological thrillers also tap into our fear of the unknown, as many feature serial killers whose minds are inconceivable to most.  Some movies that explore the idea of the unknown: The Sixth Sense, Dejá Vu, etc. I'm not saying these themes are in ALL horror/thriller movies, just most of them.

I noticed that when the demons arrived in Supernatural, the technological devices would mysteriously turn on, which I found to be creepy. Then, I asked myself why I thought that was so creepy. I think it's because technology is something that is created by us and controlled by us and when we don't have power over it, that is scary to us. On another level, Petersen points out that technology is what enables the special effects that give us the chills when a psychic gets her eyes burned out, or whatever.

That's all for now. I have some other things to discuss about The Secret Life, which I have to admit used to be one of my favorite shows (don't judge). But it's late and I'm tired so I'll save that for another time. Good night!

An Awkward “Situation”

Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino is famous for his role on the reality hit MTV series “The Jersey Shore.” Reality TV stars have caught the attention of the Millennial generation, and for some reason we believe that these people that star and do wild things on reality TV are capable of doing anything. I believe a common misconception people have about reality TV stars is that they are invincible and are actually super talented, since they have made it to the “BIG TIME,” in that they were able to get famous on TV.

Here is an example of The Situation getting himself into a very awkward situation. This is actually painful to watch. First of all, watching a stand up comic blow it on stage is extremely uncomfortable and awkward, but when a person that is trying to do comedy is extremely arrogant and doesn’t realize how bad he is, the situation become even more painful. This segment is taken from a Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump. Many comics and celebrities, including Snoop Dogg, Larry King, and Seth McFarland, are invited to “roast” Donald Trump, meaning that they tell mean and outrageous jokes about Donald Trump and the rest of the celebrity invites. I have no words to describe what happens to The Situation except for RFA!


Religion Morality & The Secret Life of the American Teen

As presented in the article “Religion Among the Millennials,” the Millennial generation does not hold religion to be as important in their lives as compared to older generations. This includes attending decreased attendance of religious ceremonies and praying, and a more “lenient” attitude toward their beliefs (especially Christianity).  “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” portrays religions and religious morality in a Millennial fashion. While the “IT” couple, Jack and Grace, at the school are the individuals who are the most attractive, most popular, and most viewed in a sexual way, the couple is in fact extremely religious. There are few interesting themes that are exhibited in terms of how religion is portrayed in reference to this couple. First, it is ironic that Grace is the most sought after girl at the school, even though she has made a promise with her parents that she will not engage in pre-marital sex. Boys at the school are flirting with her left and right, and don’t regard her religious beliefs or even her boyfriend as a boundary. It shows how these teen Millennials don’t necessarily believe that other teens or people take their religion that seriously, and are usually more than willing to bend the rules. Second, the fact that Jack seriously doubts whether he can wait until he marries Grace to have sex. The statistics presented in the Pew Forum that demonstrate how Millennials don’t regard religion as important in their lives as much, is exhibited in Jack’s thoughts of doubt. Since I have not seen the show before, I can’t say whether or not Jack is able to hold his promise with Grace, but I’m pretty he’s going to have sex with another girl on the show, Adrian, that has already shown interest in pursuing / ruining Grace and Jack’s relationship. Third, in the way that Adrian and other characters on the show perceive the religious couple, it’s almost as if Jack and Grace are seen as being freakish, in that being so religious is seen as so old fashion and conservative. In this way, be religious is conveyed as being out of the norm, which parallels the Millennial statistics.

The morality of abortions is also brought to light in this episode. When Amy confesses to her friends that she is pregnant, one friend suggests that she has options in that she can get an abortion, while the other friend is completely horrified and disgusted at the idea of Amy getting an abortion. The topic of pro-life or pro-choice has obvious religious ties, and once again this parallels the Pew Forum statistics that Millennials are basically split on their decision whether they believe abortion should be legal. Furthermore, due to the sexualized nature of the teenage students, glorifying the religious couple and also perceiving them as weird, portrays religion in a Millennial manner.

 


FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS (it’s me! it’s me!)

                                       

OH. MY. LORD. ABOVE. Pretty Little Liars, you stepped up to the plate and hit a homerun (or at least a game-winning triple) for the FINALE this week. Hot damn, I am one satisfied customer. You certainly rang MY BELLS. Holla!

I am not even sure how to analyze the whole foursome becoming “subjected to the gaze” of invasive technology and then using that technology (the anon. cell phone) to combat and PROACTIVELY attack their mutual predator. All I know is, thanks for the material for my Mill Med. final paper, yo.

Similarly, playing on tropes of horror movies (i.e. entrapment and church imagery, etc.) was so DOPE. Plus, I was scared watching it by myself in the bibs this morning (which was not helped by the gothic townie sitting next to me whispering creepily along to her vintage KORN CD. Is Korn vintage? Idk, they suck).

WHY I LIKED IT

  1. AHHHH WHERE TO START. K, first and foremost, THANK YOU PLL for not keeping us on the hook about the murderer. I was wrong and did not give you enough credit. You outted the dude we all suspected (IAN THE TERRIBLE) as the killer extraordinaire (I think. I mean, he got the cause of Ali’s death wrong, and never really admitted to doing it, but I think it was mostly implied(?!)), and then you hung him up in a church which was a SMIDGE extreme, but I like the dramatic craziness you’re going for. It was a very NEAT AND TIDY exit from second season narrative problems that would arise if his character survived, and yet I like the potential drama sparked by having HIS BODY GO MISSING, and leaving Melissa Baby-Daddy-less and probably all teed up to blame Spency-wency for his Houdini act. Yowza. Guess Ian didn’t have the LUCK OF THE IRISH this time around. SNAP, who got the refrence? BOOM. ROASTED.
  2. Dorky kid, whose name I can never remember, oh yeah, Seth Cohan-lite, brings Caleb back for Hanna’s Banana pt. 2, is that Hannah in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? Nice touch. Nice cameo. Seth Cohen-lite is straight up chivalrous.
  3. Toby licked his thumb in such a way, to send all helmet-hair enthusiasts jizzing in their pants. I know it was just to turn the page of The Dharma Bums (Kerouac? Oh my Buddha. This kid is SO cliche INDY. And misunderstood. Cue the Morrisey), but damn Spence, getttsome. Or just sit on his lap… for a long time. Interesting choice.
  4. SO THE JENNA THANG IS A PREDATOR?! They ADDMITTED IT and it’s on TAPE. Holy balls. That is CRAYCRAY. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an abusive (/incestuous-ish) relationship depicted on television that is initiated by a FEMALE. Ew, wow, shit, yikes. He doesn’t want you to play with his flute, Jenz. Chill. This needs some more in-depth analysis for sheezie. Jenna and Ali are like parallel characters—sexually desirous (of taboo partners), and one is blinded as punishment, while the other is killed. I am not sure what to make of this. I need to do more research on blind female villains. But I am intrigued. AND WHAT WAS WITH HER AND RENT-A-COP?! I think it was sort of  a “cop-out” (yuk-yuk-yuk) to have him be such an important character and to have introduced him so late in the season, but whatevz. Not that pissed.
  5. Aria and Fitzy (since when is the Brawny Man-sports-a-tie a good look?) fight! Everybody wins! Gosh, for once, no discussion of undying love, moving to Guam, or taking the SKETCHIEST relationship photo ever recorded. Haha, he finally got into his childlover’s bedroom, and his ex-fiance totes cock-blocked him via facebook. Or maybe him dumbass shirt did. Good. Fight. Break up. Whatever-no-one-cares. 

WHY I DIDN’T LIKE IT 

    1. IF EMILY ACTUALLY MOVES TO TEXAS I WILL FLIP A SHIT. Seriously, you cannot just introduce the coolest teenage gay girl story ever on TV and then threaten to send Ms. Eyebrow Expressivity off to tex-ass. That is dribble drabble. The whole dynamic would be thrown so off-kilter, I don’t even want to discuss it. Not happening. Shuddup, PLL. Plus, we all know what Texas would do to her hair:
    2. Mona, you insufferable A-HOLE (emphasis on A), stop calling Seth Cohen-lite a Hermy. It’s not nice. Plus, Mona, you are too small to have been that person who saved Spence. BUT THE HOODIE OF SAID SAVIOR WAS BLACK (CAMP MONA HOODIE, PERHAPS?) Let’s go glamp at the blow tent, ya’ll.
    3. I’m a little confused. If Jenna is in cahoots with the cop (and by in cahoots, I mean knockin’ boots, and by knockin’ boots I mean knocking into things due to visual impairment… what. sorry) AND in cahoots (as in associated) with the recently DEAD-ED Ian, then by the transitive property, were Ian and Rent-a-cop also involved? If so, wouldn’t the cop have known Ian was sending a messenger? And if he did know, then what was the purpose of him being in the woods with the girls, since he let them all bounce? Huh? Hm. Puzzling, PLL. Also puzzling— who the the f-bomb RAN INTO SPENCER’S CAR?!? That seeeeemed intentional, and since Ian “loooves” Melissa and Rosemary’s Baby, then he obvi didn’t do it. So WHO? Was our favorite flutist perhaps out for a drive, and forgetting she was BLIND, she just ran into anyone in her path (including Mrs. Pregger Pants?).
    4. D. I wanna know FOXY MOM’S PAST. Gimmie better parental storylines like in the first few episodes, PLL! I have to admit, The Squat Mom-Chad Lowe fuckbuddy versus marriage drama is wearing thin. Real thin. Like who-gives-a-shit, I just wanna see Lawyer Mom have a drinking problem and Foxy Mom bone another cop/Ms. Potter relative/ priest/ whatever for the sake of her daughter, kinda thin. Cmon, AMP THAT SHIT UP.
    5. I repeat, if Emily moves to TEXAS, I will write the producers a letter of ANGUISH. Gerrrrrr. And where the fuck was Paige? One email from the “Punctual” earring maker does not count as wrapping up, adding to, or resolving a storyline. Gosh.

Okay, well that’s my two cents on the highlights and omissions, now for the GEMS (of which there are very few due to the SERIOUSNESS/ SCARINESS of the final episode)

THE GEMS

Hannah (re: going to The Jenna Thang for the goods): “THE TRUTH. CAN YOU HANDLE THAT?!” Nice chees-tastic delivery, Hanz Bananz. Really shootin’ for an Emmy on that one. Call up JACK NICHOLSON for a quick cameo, like “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH, BITCHES!!”

Spencer (re: FACING FUCKING DEATH): “You want POPCORN to go with that!?” * throws the USB approx. 15 feet away from Killer Ian * WHAT SPENCE? You are really going to say that under duress? Is this really the time for sarcasm? Go on, call his SEED “inhuman” again, that’ll really help the sitch. Also, THROW THE DAMN USB A LITTLE CLOSER TO HIS FACE. God. And that better not be the real USB, or they fucking better have made a copy. Jeezum. SMH if after their IAN/ALI WOODLAND PORN vid got deleted, they didn’t make a COPY of their only leverage with the cops. 

I am not going to make predictions for next season, because obviously it could go anywhere from here. They’ve set themselves up nicely for a season two. Half the mystery is solved (I think. Also, the body is MIA), and half is left for next summer (I hope). Fist bumps all around. HOWEVER, I will predict that Emily does not effing go to effing Texas.
Hiiii, I’d like you to meet my bias… it’s all over the blog (cough YAAAAY lesbians cough).

All I can say is that I have highly enjoyed this season of television. HIGH FIVE ABC FAMZ! I cannot wait to re-watch episodes for my paper. I think the rest of this blog will deal with the paper-writing process (or will most likely devolve into more ridiculous rants on individual episodes, starting with the PILOT of S.1 next week). We shall see how things develop.

Grassy ass for reading. Now get to working on those clues. 

GOTTA SECRET, CAN YOU KEEP IT, I LOVE P-L-L, IT’S THE GREATEST, FUCK THA HATE-AHS, MONA’S FARTS SMELL! (Weeak… make one yasself.)

Millennial Religiosity

 

I’m having a little trouble articulating this one. Maybe perhaps because I am included in the millennial accepted category of “undecided” where religion is concerned.  Yet, I know enough to see the stark contrast between the dark atmosphere of Supernatural and the rather fuzzy Life of American Teenager. The only thing they seem to have in common is there inherent exploration into religion in our millennial society. On the one hand, with Supernatural you have what Prothero calls a “saturation of religious representations”, and the “immense pool of religious elements and religious narratives circulating in Western society”. There are elements of folk religion and urban legends such as the psychic ( who loses her eyes) and crystal ball reference we saw. Oh and there are ambiguous angels that appear evil but aren’t? That’s strange I thought angels were little cherubs with white wings. I was wrong! Its popular myths about religion put into a blender and  then through the CW purée. There’s no one religious message operating here, instead its an exploration of our pop culture interest in religion and exploring the “what ifs” we may have. It’s certainly millennial as far as subject matter. We’re smart enough to get the inter textuality. But I’m interested in the seeming serialization/pop-culture aesthetic of the Bible. As the title of the episode references Lazarus, it engages both our knowledge of the Bible ( with the understanding that our views are diverse) and turns it into something a little “supernatural”. As Professor Stein states the process of “mediatization transforms religious ideas by using bits and pieces in new contexts” such as the angel Castiel as a less idealized cherub and darker figure who seems to want to help as he claims he is an angel of the Lord. But this challenges us to re think our understandings of religion, or was that popular culture? It appears, as though Supernatural seems to suggest to us that the lines between religion and culture have been blurred. Which is why we can make fanvids and accept the ridicule or gain followers. It’s a show that certainly challenges how we view the immersion of religion in culture. The underlying apocalyptic feel and inherent darkness of subject matter is definitely a way of engaging our beliefs in the “afterlife” or even the “ other world” and questions of morality.

As for the American Teenager…I sure hope that’s not what we consider the American Teenager. While on one hand the show tries to represent teenagers as highly sexualized or abstinent ( there are only extremes here), they are also kids at the end of the day and must always look to parents, or older generations for guidance ( see the new guidance counselor for example). There is no sense of independence that Strauss and Howe often articulate. Though the subject matter of sex and teens is nothing new. I mean MOLLY RINGWALD! Hey there 16 Candles and Breakfast Club- you were the American Teen! Now how have we changed? Ah yes Ringwald tells her daughter, “ youre only young once” as in, don’t wait til the end of the show to have sex! Start the show off with a pregnancy test, so that we show that this generation acts fast and regrets later. Or they don’t act at all, as displayed by Grace who invites everyone, “ There won’t be a sermon, I promise” but her lack of sex is a huge joke throughout the first episode , and even her religious background is subtly joked at.  The kids, and I said kids, never explain what their values are on sex. We’re just supposed to accept them, and I’m not totally buying it.  I’m not even sure if I’m supposed to belive the statistics about teen sex when they’re rattled off. Potential joke, and even a racist joke as the Asian girl rattles them off? I’m not sure. I just noticed it. Also couldn’t help as Adrian was seductively biting the apple of evoking an Eve-like temptress figure. Again, not so subtle on the religious bits. But I guess we should expect it from the same creators of Seventh Heaven. And as I think of 7th heaven I’m kind of shocked at how the kind of serial tv for teens has changed. Wow! The line about “you better not be suggesting she get an abortion” probably never would’ve ended up in 7th Heaven, but I was still surprised it was a preposterous idea while they seemed to parody religious sexual abstinence. They never would have seriously talked about sexual abuse in 7th heaven and that was the one thing I was surprised about. It gave the show a depth I was not expecting, and makes me interested in the highly sexualized drummer. So I guess for Millennials, the talk about sex is what’s revolutionary, but the teen sex itself isn’t. I was surprised however at the helplessness in which Amy was presented. She let her friends suggest a really terrible plan, and didn’t  even confront the drummer boy. I’m a little ashamed as a millennial as to how the female aspect of the “relationship” is presented.  The one thing that I found most striking however, is how the Jack questions to Adrian how can he be a Christian and a man? As if suggesting our media somehow have created a gap between the two. You have to pick one or the other: religion or masculinity. Thus what the show engages is our critical thinking on religion and sexuality. They cannot be viewed as separate in a millennial lens.

 

 

Reading/Screening Response Week 7

This week’s screening that I would like to focus on is The Secret Life of the American Teenager. I think Supernatural definitely has rich potential to be discussed in a religious context but based on the episode screened I feel I lack the knowledge of the storylines and the show’s mythology and therefore cannot really delve into the subject matter the way the two articles by Stein and Petersen do.

In class professor Stein urged as not to accept articles or text at face value but not to just dismiss them either. I find it very hard to just dismiss this show as terrible but I will try to look beyond the tepidly memorized recitals by these more or less gifted aspiring actors and actresses – I can’t really blame them because they are givin subpar dialogue to work with. I’m also trying to look past the cheap looking sets as I read on Wikipedia that this show is produced for a million dollar less than the average show on American Primetime television.

Overall, the show felt somewhat schizophrenic as it was moving from attempting to sound young and hip (the mother’s Gilmore-esque rant about North Korea at the beginning comes to mind) to a fairly preachy tone (so we’re allowed to say abortion but only to make clear that it’s NOT a viable option). The Christian characters seem to offer some comic relief, yet the alternatives to their lifestyle are represented as doomed and disastrous. Also “the good Christian family” we meet is morally elevated by having a son with Down Syndrom, which they obviously deal with in the most gracious manner. Also, the nice Christian boyfriend is tempted by an ethnic vixen that wants to sleep with him, probably just to prove his morals wrong. But of course, they are caught in the act – you can’t get away with sin. This seems to be the underlying message the show wants to convey hidden under the “we just want teenagers to realize that actions have consequences”-coat. Yes, they do but by judging them and portraying teenagers as perpetrators without morals or even understandable intentions may not be the way to go. Also, the perpetuation of the idea that a sexually driven teenager (the guy who got Amy pregnant) most come from a place of emotional disturbance seems a little dramatic. Sexual abuse, really? Way harsh. Amy’s likable love interest also struggles with sexual desire but these notions go out the window he gets to know because then it’s all about love – which in Brenda Hampton mind doesn’t go together with sex, at least when it comes to teenagers.

Hampton is responsible (or really to blame) for 7th Heaven, a decade-spanning Chrisitan family saga. Here, she seems to try the racy approach, instead of talking about doing the wrong things these characters at least do it. An improvement from Heaven but overall still not pleasant to watch.

With regards to the readings, unlike Supernatural this show is more preoccupied with the institution of church and the integration of faith and beliefs in the lives of teenagers. Characters are represented as either religious or very much not so – as with the entire show there’s seems to be little room for nuance. In our discussion of Millennials we talk about values and leadership as being more prevalent in this generation. I’m confused as how to apply this to this show which strikes me as offensively judgemental, portraying teenagers as almost exclusively incapable of acting responsibly or within any reach of reason but also rather inconsistent in its tone and message. It tries to portray a variety of values, ethnicities and role models but at least for me in this form and representation none of it seems intellectually coherent or appealing!

"Secret" Intentions

When reading “Religion Among Millennials” (http://pewforum.org/Age/Religion-Among-the-Millennials.aspx) and watching the pilot episode of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, I’ve been thinking about the tension between liberal and conservative values present in the millennial consciousness, and similarly, how this tension is presented in the media constructed for this group. Where as the Supernatural screening was using religious iconography and mythology for fantastical (and perhaps revisionist) purposes, Secret Life seemed to be aiming for realism as it pertains to current high schoolers.

Just like in Kyle XY, ABC Family seemed eager to present teenage sexuality as inevitable and ever-present. Both groups of kids on the respective shows talk about sex ALL THE TIME. However, Secret Life differentiates itself by juxtaposing this horny-overload with religious zealotry. Personally, I read (/hoped) the show as being subversive in its presentation. By including scenes in which the show’s protagonist was unsure as to whether or not she’d actually HAD SEX, and by showing the guidance counselor as extremely resistant in distributing condoms, the show seemed to be commenting on the lack of sex education in schools and the detrimental effects that can result. These kids were borderline moronic on their grasp of sexual education, options for pregnant teens, and even seemed confused about the necessity of seeing a doctor. This thread was complicated by the depiction of the religious teens (whose lunch conversation was treated by the writers as silly rather than reverent) as stereotypically blonde, brainless (ish) social elites.

I’m still trying to process this show. I don’t know quite what to think. I’m not sure whether their depiction of religion (and chastity?) in schools is supposed to be taken satirically or not. Clearly they are dealing with very heavy issues on some fronts (teen pregnancy and child molestation—probably the first storyline I’ve ever seen concerning such a sensitive topic). On the other hand, the heavy-handed “after school special” tonality of the pilot sometimes came off like subversive social commentary—like these kids are doomed or lost and need parents to TEACH them how to be safe, healthy, and happy. I’m tempted to watch a few more episodes to see how this pans out, but I’m also wondering how Secret Life was received, and how it compares to the rest of the ABC Family line up—which seems to consistently foreground the tension between social conservatism and tolerance. 

St. Paddy’s

17th March – St. Patrick’s Day. The day of the drunk. The majority of my blood is Irish and what I lack I make up in spirit, predominantly whiskey. See what I did there!

St. Paddy’s is a big deal across Great Britain, for obvious reasons in Ireland, but also in England. Any excuse to start drinking before noon. This year, I was here. If it hadn’t of been my intense midterm week I would have taken off to Boston, New York or Chicago and made my ancestors proud. However, if I wanted to actually pass two of my modules I had to stay here.

I attempted to make the most of it. It doesn’t matter where you are, just as long as you are free and with good people, or so I thought.

Firstly, the wearing green thing. If you don’t wear green you get hit! What the hell. If I don’t conform to this faux-Irish tradition I’m beaten. Sooo not the Irish way. The English way maybe, the American way, most probably. In the end I caved. Changed my hoody so I was wearing green as my arms were starting to hurt. For future occasions though, the ‘wearing of the green’ does not mean literally wearing green, it means wearing a green shamrock on your clothing (dates back to the 1798 rebellion). There’s even a song about it!

Secondly, the food in Ross. Eww. That food was not Irish. The stew/pie or whatever it was meant to be was thick and lumpy. The Corned beef brisket, was not corned, also I question if it was beef too. This doesn’t really matter anyway as beef, not a traditionally used Irish meat. Lamb or more commonly mutton is used. Boiled potatoes are Irish. Red potatoes not so much, small white ones are. However, it would be difficult to find those in this area therefore they should have mashed the red ones. Boiled potatoes as large as the red ones are not appetizing and they turn out, well like they did! Maybe if they put mashed ones with some kale, butter and possibly bacon, they could have made a Colcannon (actual Irish dish). Finally, that boiled cabbage was horrible. On its own and no use in any of the meals they were attempting to put together. If they added some bacon into it, it would have been more interesting. Or even substitute the kale for the boiled cabbage in the Colcannon. Also, just because you put Irish whiskey in something or green food coloring doesn’t make it Irish!

Thirdly, bagpipes! The playing of the Scottish Highland bagpipes on St Patrick’s Day! It’s like someone bursting into God Save the Queen (British national anthem) on the 4th July. Not cool! It wouldn’t bother me so much except that the 30th November (St Andrew’s Day. Scottish patron saint) came and went without even a note on the bagpipes. So why on St. Paddy’s!!!

Basically, Middlebury is bad a being Irish! It’s not like I expected anything. St. Andrew’s went, St. David’s went and more than likely I’m going to watch St. George’s go without a word on the matter. I don’t take issue with that. It’s just that it was overwhelmingly celebrated monumentally wrong!!! It would have been better if they had just let it go or gave everyone a free six pack of Guinness, as I am still yet to have my yearly dosage. Overall, that strategy would have made people a lot happier.

Instead we were beaten, starved and aurally abused.

Happy St. Paddy’s indeed.

Barry Bonds and the Juice

 

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=6243247

 

 

 

Barry Bonds became a household name as he racked up 73 long balls during the historic 2001 baseball season.  He set the record for both most homeruns hit in a single season and in a career.  Bonds owns one of the most impressive offensive resume’s the game has ever seen.  Still, his achievements have been looked at critically as he played during the “steroid era.”  During this time it is known fact that many of the game’s big stars were taking performance-enhancing drugs.  It is widely believed that Barry Bonds was at the forefront of this trend.  He ballooned in size in a short period of time and his offensive statistics seemed to defy convention as they improved with age.  While most people peak around 30, Bonds had the best offensive season in the history of the game at age 36.  The public constantly looked down upon this success.  Bonds was viewed was a horrible human who cheated the game.  Baseball is America’s pastime and the concept of players cheating appalled many Americans.  After the publicizing of the Mitchell Report many players were forced to come forward and admit to their actions.  For the most part the crimes went unpunished; a slight hit to their image was the only consequence the guilty players ensued.  Bonds vehemently denied any and all allegations that he knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs.  For this, he has been under public scrutiny for the past ten years.

As the game has evolved and Bonds has retired, his achievements and actions have slipped into distant memories.  Recent events have brought them back to the front page as Bonds trial for perjury is set to take place in the upcoming weeks.  It is widely believed that Bonds lied about knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs while under oath.  I believe that Bonds did lie.  It seems very unlikely that someone was able to put up the numbers he did that late in his career.  Coupling this with the knowledge of the prevalence of the drugs in the game leads me to the sole conclusion that Bonds is guilty.  After reaching this conclusion it is important to take a step back and decide what the punishment should be for his crime.  There are many out there that are disgusted that impurities like performance-enhancing drugs could taint the game, but I do not fall into this party.  I believe that although drugs should not be condoned, there was an era when they were an accepted part of the game and should be deemed as such.  When Bonds was accused of taking drugs they were not against the rules.  Bonds is not on trial for doping, he is on trial for perjury.  I believe that he should be punished for this and should realize his mistake.  If he had taken the road of many other professionals such as Andy Pettitte who apologized for their mistakes the public would’ve forgave him and forgotten.  Bonds was so insistent on keeping his public image clean that he ended up tainting it further.  I feel for the ball player who was just trying to play the game, but I have no sympathy for the liar who refused to be honest with his fans.  Steroids were part of the game of baseball and there will always be an era stained by steroids.  I hope that the era is not lingered upon, but also not forgotten.  After the conviction of baseball’s Homerun King hopefully we can put this era behind us and keep it solely as a memory and a warning of the corruption that is able to penetrate even a pastime as pure as baseball.