Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Story Worth Telling

I've haven't shared this before, but I'm writing a play called "Hair Like the Sun." It's set to premiere next year at the Texas Repertory Theater. This play is a labor of love, and I'm proud to be a part of it. The reason I haven't mentioned it before, though, is because talking about it makes it real. Suddenly I'm not just noodling around in my workshop, tinkering with a hypothetical script for a hypothetical play. Now I have to face the fact that this is happening.

This project is listed on a website. It has a date. It's been printed on flyers and mailed to people. This is a real thing that has a real date with real people who are investing real money. Already this is generating real buzz which means a real audience will fill a real theater to fill real seats. And for me, this is real scary.

When this project was just a fanciful idea, a "what if" scenario, there was very little consequence for failure. It was a small project known only to a handful of people. If it didn't work in those initial stages, we could have always told ourselves that it would have been wildly successful if not for events that weren't our fault. But then the unthinkable happened. We got a green light to actually produce this play. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

This Open Letter to TV Tropes

Dear TV Tropes,

You've destroyed me. I hope you're happy. You seemed so nice at first, offering me a fresh take on my favorite pop culture. But it's clear to me now what you are. You've baited the trap so perfectly. Just one more little link, just one more page, and suddenly my productivity is gone. It's all gone.

Even when I get away from you, I can't fully escape. I could be on a completely different website, minding my own business, when a stray link brings me back. Suddenly I'm right back in, reading about breaking the fourth wall, being genre savvy, and not being able to get away with anything. Just as I can't get away from you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Rethinking my Worst Movie Ever

My wife and I caught Batman & Robin on television the other day and decided to watch it. Ever since it came out, I've always maintained that this is my least favorite movie of all time, not only because it was so disappointing but also for nearly killing the Batman franchise. (And yet again why we are so thankful to Christopher Nolan. Hail Nolan! Hail!) It was truly bad.

Sitting down to watch it again, I am struck that this movie is even worse now than when it came out, partly because of the Nolan films. The dialogue is still utterly atrocious, the acting too over-the-top, and the villains terrible representations of their comic book counterparts. (Especially Bane.) And yet, while watching it, I realized something, a truth that so many others have discovered while I stubbornly nursed this decades old grudge: it's actually a fun movie to watch in a so-bad-it's-good kind of way.

I am no stranger to this phenomenon: films made in earnestness that failed so hard they became awesome for other reasons. Plan 9 From Outer Space. Manos:The Hands of Fate. Most Nicholas Cage movies. They develop a cult following because of their stupidity and are, in fact, celebrated because of it. Such movies were the bread-and-butter of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and are still a huge part of Rifftrax. Bad movies can be fun in the right context.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

This Open Letter to Christians worried about their "Religious Liberty"

Dear Christians worried about their "religious liberty,"

Many of you are freaking out about the Supreme Court ruling that gay marriage is a right, and thus legal in the United States. If you are worried about your "religious liberty," then I have something I need to share with you.

You really should have paid closer attention to what Jesus taught. He taught us the Golden Rule, which boils down to "treat others as you would like to be treated." This command tells us to think about how we treat people and ask ourselves if we would like it if our positions were reversed. If we were on the receiving end of our own behavior, would we like it?

As you consider that, I want you to consider this. Over the past decade or so, we Christians have spent millions upon millions of dollars supporting legislation that restricted the rights of gays. We Christians fought tooth and nail to ensure that gays were second class citizens. That's why I ask, is this how we would like the gay community to treat us? Do we want them to devote a decade and millions of dollars to take away our rights?

Of course we don't. In fact, now that the pendulum has swung the other way, the new mantra of these Christians is: "Please don't treat us like we treated you."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What 'Inside Out' Can Teach Us About Charleston and The Duggars

Inside Out is one of the most important movies released this year. I say that not just because this movie is a return to form for Pixar. (It's right up there with Wall-E.) I say this because it teaches us some very valuable lessons about the role of emotions in our development and in how we live our lives. It also gives us a better frame of reference by which we can look at some of the awful and tragic stories that have been dominating our headlines: the horrific shooting at the Charleston church, and the revelations about the Duggar family.

I know it might seem frivolous that I'm using an animated movie to address tragic real-life events, but that's one of the purposes of art. We use art as a frame of reference to understand complicated concepts. The purpose of Aesop's Fables was to teach moral lessons. Jesus used Parables to explain complex theological and spiritual concepts. We've always used stories and art as a lens, and this time is no different. True, they may oversimplify, but it's definitely a start.

Let's first look at the tragic shooting in a black Charleston church by a young white man named Dylan Roof. In case there is any doubt, let me start of by stating, categorically, that this man's motivation was racism. I know a lot of pundits and politicians are going out of their way to avoid saying it's racism, probably because they've spent so much time denying racism even exists. But it does exist, it's pervasive, and it's the motivation for the shooting. So how can Inside Out help us understand the shooter's racism?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Why Christians Should Oppose these "Religious Freedom" Bills

This person is also standing up for "values"
I'm a Christian, and I am vehemently opposed to this "Religious Freedom" bill in Indiana signed into law today. I'm also opposed to a similar bill in Georgia. These bills and laws aren't about religious freedom, they are a way to justify discrimination and treating people like second class citizens. Worst of all, they are using Christianity as a shield for actions that are the very antithesis of what Jesus taught. It's utterly vile, and if you believe in the Devil, I can assure you that Satan is in full support of it.

Christians need to oppose this law and others like it. These laws make our faith out to be the religion of gay-bashing. Apparently, according to these types of bills, hating gays is so integral to our faith that we need legal protections to continue our unabashed campaign of abuse. Is that really what we want people to think of Christianity, that its primary focus is making sure we can  treat gays as second class citizens? Is that how we want people to think of us?