Categories
In Medias Res

How Art Classes Ruined My Creativity

For a really long time in high school I thought that someday  I might like to be a photographer or graphic designer or possibly both. I took hundreds of pictures to get the best shot of whatever I was photographing and on numerous occasions my digital art teacher had to make me turn in projects before I thought they were done because I couldn’t stop critiquing myself.

Photography meant the world to me and one of my high school art teachers pushed me and built me up and because of her I grew fond of the art that I could create, excited about the opportunities I had ahead of me because of my creativity. She helped me to hone my skills, step out of my comfort zone, let myself know when I needed to be done with a project, and was always cheering me on when I entered contests.

I’ll be honest, I never really thought of myself as creative and to this day I still don’t. People tell me all the time that I’m creative and I just nod along and pretend to agree, but I truly think that my artistic ability comes down to sheer dumb luck (catch that Harry Potter reference anyone?).

Then, my senior year, I decided to take AP Studio Art… I was absolutely insane my senior year and took five (5) AP classes (I was not one to participate in the good old “senior slide”). This art class was the downfall to my positivity about my art.

For an entire year I took hundreds of pictures, wrote out hundreds of critiques, created and recreated portfolio after portfolio until I cultivated something that I was so incredibly proud of. My breadth had a wide range of photos showing off some of my absolute best work and my concentration showcased people in various stages of being “masked”. The idea was to display portraits where the face, the normal focal point of a portrait, was not the focal point. And then came the time to turn it all in to be graded by the official examiners…

I remember sitting there and showing my teacher the portfolio that I was about to turn in. She shook her head as she scrolled through everything and sighed before turning to me and saying, “You’ll be lucky if you even get a 2 on this.” My heart just shattered. I had spent a whole year working on this portfolio, taking pictures every week, editing almost every single day. I was also furious because not once this entire year had my teacher had anything good to say about any work I’d done. No matter what, there was always something wrong. She couldn’t even be constructive with her criticism… I took it all to heart when I know I shouldn’t have and I’m still dealing with the consequences of that one art class.

Then in college I took a photography class, it was an easy course but in taking this I realized just how burnt out I was on trying to be “artistic”. Pictures no longer come easy to me, I haven’t even touched my camera in over a year. I rarely even take pictures with my phone anymore. I lost my edge. I hate almost every picture I take and I can’t imagine ever loving art as much as I once did.

The last time I loved a project I did was when I had this batshit idea to put paint all over my face and take pictures of it:

But the structure and rules that art classes laid out for me killed my creativity. The constant unconstructive criticism made me feel like nothing I created would ever be good enough for the world to see. I think that art classes can teach you so much but if you have the wrong teacher then these classes will fail you. And I think that’s what happened to me. Someday I’d like to relearn creativity, I’d like to be able to create without fear of criticism. I’d like to throw caution to the wind and paint my face and take creepy portraits. I like doing my own thing and being forced into boxes destroyed my creativity.

And if any of you reading this have ever been in a similar situation, or are in a similar situation now, I’d love to chat. Especially if you’re a high schooler or college student who’s in the midst of art classes now. Share your work with me! I’d love to see it.

Oh… And by the way, I got a 5 on my portfolio which is the highest score you can be given on an AP exam. So suck it high school AP art teacher.

 

Categories
In Medias Res

Trying To Be Niche

I have a lot of interests. I have a lot of hobbies. I like a LOT of stuff. My problem is that I don’t always like these things all the time, I don’t always do these things exclusively, and I am so far from consistent it’s not even funny.

Right now, I really want to read, and I want to write, and I want to go back to school. I can finally listen to music again and I’m getting excited about wearing makeup again too. I don’t have a car to take on hiking trips and I honestly don’t know where my motivation to take pictures went but for some reason I have no interest in saving memories anymore. I can sew and crochet and take a decent picture now and again… Oh and sometimes I like to binge bake things and watercolor painting is one of my favorite things to do (even though I haven’t done it in months now).

I’ve read three books in the last week and every blog post idea I’ve had has been about books. I’m excited about what I’m doing when I don’t think about it, but then when I do pause to think about it I wonder why I even want to. Would people even be interested in the posts I want to make? I want to talk about books, both old and new, how many people will even be interested in old book reviews?

And what about posts that aren’t about books? No matter what I do I will never be able to force myself to stay in a box of one type of post. And sometimes I wonder if that hurts me in the long run when I’m making posts. How many people come to my post to see adventures and end up disappointed about books? Or come to see books and then turn away when I make a post about makeup? I want to be a diverse blog but I feel like I should be niche… But that’s not me.

In the long run, I think I will be forever self conscious about what I write. Every post I can’t help but think that I was too rambly or I wasn’t informative enough. I feel like no one will read my stuff, yet I write like everyone could read this at any moment. I know that I’ll post whatever I feel like posting, because in the end, I like to post things I’m excited about. I just hope that I’ll be able to find people that want to read along with me no matter what I post about.

So I guess what I have to say to conclude is if you found me for book related posts, enjoy! I have plenty more of those to come… And I hope you like all the random posts I have interspersed. And for in the future if I get burnt out on book related posts or if I just stop reading for a while again (which I know will happen, especially if I end up being able to go back to school) I really hope that everyone can find something they enjoy in what I write then too!

Anyways, happy Monday everyone! I’ll talk to you all on Wednesday.

Categories
Books In Medias Res

Toxic Relationships in YA

This topic goes deeper than the idea that a guy can fix all of a girl’s problems (although this is a topic that I could chat about on a different day). It is about the fact that there are multiple books out there that now illustrate controlling, toxic relationships as healthy and good.

When I was younger, I would idolize these types of relationships. I thought they were what everyone should want. But then I grew up and I learned about abuse and feminism and how what I idolized was destroying people on a daily basis.

Here’s a really poignant video from Whitney (aka whittynovels) about the topic. I highly recommend that you watch it before continuing on reading my post.

I’m not going to go in depth with what I think about the examples that she discussed because I really hope that you all watched the video because I feel like she did a really good job at expressing this topic.
I know someone who was in a severely toxic relationship and they didn’t even know that they were in a relationship that was abusive because it reflected so many other relationships they had seen and read about. It is not okay or romantic to be abused. Angst is not romance. Threats of nonconsensual behavior is not okay. The creepy sleep watching scene from Twilight? You guessed it: NOT OKAY.
The media normalizes what we see. It desensitizes us from violence and misbehavior because of how much we see certain things. We are sold problematic media until we think that this is normal.
Instead, we need to normalize healthy relationships and independence. We need to protect young men and women and illustrate behavior that is not controlling, not abusive. We need to discuss problems in these “romantic” books and support authors that write stories that are healthy. We need to stand up for feminist works and highlight healthy behaviors or highlight negative behaviors in a negative way. We need to stop highlighting negative behaviors as positive.
I am done idealizing relationships that are unhealthy. I want to idealize equality in relationships and I hope that y’all are with me. Have a great weekend everyone.
Categories
Books In Medias Res

Review: Gemina

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Just finished reading this gorgeous book the other day. It’s the sequel to the book Illuminae by the same authors. It follows Hanna and Nik, two new characters, as they try to protect their home. Here’s a link to the Goodreads page for a better description.

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Now I really enjoyed this book. It was super fast paced and addictive and I liked it a lot better than the first book. However, I did have some issues with it. Overall I would give it a 4/5 and I recommend this trilogy to anyone who enjoys scifi and survival stories.

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Side note: This book, like Illuminae, has super cool formatting with IM conversations and whatnot but the best part of this book? IT HAS JOURNAL ILLUSTRATIONS. Like give me journal entries and I will be so happy, give me illustrated journal entries and I will be the happiest girl on the face of the earth. And these illustrations are gorgeous too! My favorite parts of the book.

Anyways…

On to the spoilers!!! (And complaints)

This book was literally the same formatting as the first book. Girl doesn’t like boy, boy flirts, girl starts to fall for boy, boy and girl must save everyone and themselves, boy “dies”, they fall in love, THE END. I couldn’t get over the fact that it was the same story line. It was so physically painful!

Also every character was a stereotype…

Russian mob crime family

Overprotective single father

Spoiled rich girl

New boy that everyone loves who turns out to be someone else

There was no substance to the characters, it’s all stuff I’ve seen before and I honestly was really disappointed in the whole super stereotypical thug Russian family. Then there was the whole out of the blue “oh yeah, there’s actually a parallel universe” thing was just weird. Intriguing but so, so weird. I’m really hoping for more of an explanation in the third book to all the science stuff because if not I will be highly disappointed. So much is being left unexplained and just absurd. There are so many holes that need to be filled and so much science behind things that needs to be explained in order for me to better understand stuff. Like I understand that it’s fiction but come on! Make things sound plausible and not crazy.

This book was a highly emotional read and I really loved it, but I hope to see some improvement in book three.

So with that wonderful end to my review, I hope you all have a wonderful afternoon.

Categories
In Medias Res

Our Final Invention: AI

So do scientists really think that super intelligence is a good idea? Or are they just really really stupid?

Like honestly. In any way shape or form does it even seem okay to have technology be smarter than we are? People may think it’s okay, but I’m going to drag some movies into this.

Exhibit A:

Smart House, made by Disney. Here’s a promo for it:

And oh, what’s that? Some of the technologies are in our everyday lives now?!

Okay, cool. All seemingly harmless pieces of technology, right? Well how long until something is invented that will actually control an entire house, something that is intelligent on its own… And how long until that piece of technology turns bad?

Exhibit B:

So I don’t know if you’ve heard this or not, but scientists have supposedly isolated dinosaur DNA… WHAT

AND THIS

Like I can only see this taking one path

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There are literally four movies now that show how dumb of an idea this is.

I just honestly cannot comprehend how anyone could want to create something that could have the potential to kill us all?

I take that back. People are really that stupid; as can be seen with all of the nuclear technology the world has created.

Well…

Okay. So I’ll just move on past the stupidity of the invention of strong AI and just talk a little bit about some fun (?) things.

So first off, my professor was talking about how if we were to invent robots that were lifelike then we would create them as adults. Then he asked if we could imagine little seven pound robots and all I could think about was this:

Robots.jpg

I then took way too long thinking about how what if this movie was like some weird post human world that could actually exist someday. And then I made myself stop thinking about that and just enjoy this children’s movie as is.

Because honestly? This movie is freaking hilarious. And the world concept is so cool. As can be seen in this scene.

Next, I wanted to share with you a thought provoking video from Crash Course involving AI and personhood.

I thought it was quite interesting to think about. And also a topic that I really don’t like thinking about either. It’s just so confusing and mindboggling.

Okay, so lastly, I want to recommend a book that I read earlier this year called Illuminae. This book is so uniquely written and also had a very central character that is AI. I would highly recommend it if you’re interested in science fiction and AI and really unique books!

After seeing all this information, what do you all think about the seemingly inevitable invention of this insane technology? Will it blend in? Or will it destroy us all?

Hope you all have a wonderful day.

Don’t let the inevitability of a robot takeover get you down.

Categories
In Medias Res

A Rant Regarding Black Mirror

At the suggestion of my media literacy professor I decided to watch the show Black Mirror.

Out of the thirteen episodes that are up on Netflix, I’ve watched seven of them. Spoiler alert: I hate the show. This post will highlight why I do. As a disclaimer I will be talking about main points in the episodes so if you don’t want to be spoiled I would recommend you don’t read this post.

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So Black Mirror is a British anthology series that follows a different story line and cast each episode. Every episode has a dystopic theme that seems to take place in a distant future, though I think they’re supposed to reflect what our culture nowadays is heading towards.

I’m going to talk about the episodes that really turned me off of the show and why I don’t think I’ll continue watching it if they continue to create more episodes.

 So White Christmas, an image from the episode is in the upper left, is a three story special that connects in a very interesting way. Now cheating is a main theme in this episode, as well as the episode The Entire History of You (image in the bottom right). Now, I’m not questioning the ethics that go into the technology in these episodes, I don’t really care about that, these technologies are not a reality at the moment and it’s not something that I’m going to question.

In both of these episodes, the men find out that their partners cheated on them and essentially go “crazy”. They attack, harm, and even kill people because they are so overcome by the fact that they were cheated on. This seriously concerned me, that they would make these men take such extreme measures in finding out what their partners did. I can see why they do this in a dramatic sense, but it’s really sick. The violence, in my opinion is completely unnecessary. They also highlight really toxic relationships. The man in the Entire History episode comes across as really abusive and controlling. This is NOT OKAY.

Moving on to the episode Fifteen Million Merits. I really enjoyed this episode, until the end. I think that they really cheated on the ending. Essentially what happened was that this man went on to a talent show in order to try and free himself and others around him from a slave-like existence. He takes extreme measures to do this and what does he do? He chooses to let everyone else live in enslavement solely so that he can be free. He leaves his one friend in an extremely degrading sexual show so that he can have a view of the outside world. I honestly can’t understand how someone could ever choose that. I understand that he must have been desperate for freedom but he never acted that way, and he really acted like he wanted to make a difference in his world. It was a disappointing ending. On a different note, the whole porn station thing was absolutely disgusting as well and I have no idea why they found that to be a necessary part of the episode at all.

The final episode that I watched that I really despised was National Anthem. This episode was just sad and gross and I honestly don’t even want to get into it. Just know that this episode should not have been made.

I don’t understand the violence. The toxic relationships. The exploitation. It’s a dystopic show, but these themes could have been portrayed in a much better way. Things could have been handled so much better. I’m really disappointed in how Black Mirror honestly used women as props and things to dispose of in order to give the men their story. Happen to notice that women are barely featured in any of the episodes I mentioned? Except to be the targets of violence, or be sex objects, or who cheat. Good job Black Mirror.

Now I will admit that there were some episodes that I watched that I actually kind of enjoyed. I did find some issues with them, but I’m also very picky with shows so the fact that I even found these enjoyable in the slightest was surprising with how much I despised the rest of the episodes. These all came from the most recent season.

I’m not going to go into specifics and I won’t spoil these episodes because I actually recommend you watch these episodes if you want. They really have great moralistic messages to them and I appreciated that. Women were portrayed in a much better light (as you can see, women are the main characters in all three episodes). They are strong characters, with actual stories!!! Not just throw away characters! Yay!!

I really enjoyed that two of these episodes (Nosedive and Hated in the Nation) really pushed the view of being aware of the presence of social media in our lives. It was nice to see how we need to be careful of what we say, especially about other people, but also showing that we shouldn’t be afraid of how other people “rate” us. I think these were very relevant and important topics.

San Junipero was just a cute episode, that highlighted to importance of being able to be who you truly are.

Now I highly doubt that I will EVER continue to watch this show if it gets more episodes. It was disappointing in the way that is portrayed women among other things and I really can’t understand the appeal with how many underlying problems the show has.

Have any of you watched Black Mirror? And if you have, what did you think of it?

Hope everyone has a nice day.

Categories
In Medias Res

Empowertising

One of my favorite podcasts is called Stuff Mom Never Told You by HowStuffWorks.com. Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time driving to and from my hometown and Duluth and that’s about a two and a half hour drive each way. When I drive long distances I really enjoy listening to educational podcasts. One of my other favorite podcasts is called Stuff You Missed in History Class, also by HowStuffWorks. I highly recommend both.

So this episode that I listened to a week or so ago was about this concept called “empowertising”. Here’s the description of the episode because I don’t think I can really describe it well enough:

Ads purporting to sell feminist empowerment might depict women in a better light than sexist ads of yore, but do they actually contribute to gender equality? Cristen and Caroline look at the history of using feminism to sell products to women and whether advertisers’ intentions matter.

Advertising has been an interesting topic to me but always more on the graphic design end of it. I’ve never spent a lot of time thinking about what makes people want to buy things or why.

In the past few years I’ve seen a lot of ads come under scrutiny for their sexist content but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything about explicitly feminist ads.

First I’m going to show you some examples of past and modern sexist ads and then show a few of these empowering ads and discuss some of my opinions about what Cristen and Caroline discussed in the podcast.

alcoa-1953-alcoa-aluminums-bottle-caps-open-without-a-knife-blade-a-bottle-opener-or-even-a-husband
Alcoa, 1953
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Chase & Sandborn, 1952
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Van Heusen, 1951
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Burger King
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Pepsi, 2011

Those are just a few of the examples that I found and I honestly have no intention to speak about them further because they’re really just disgusting pieces of media in my mind.

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Virginia Slims, 1968
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Dove, 2014
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Under Armour, 2014

This year, SheKnows Media did research regarding #Femvertising, which is essentially just another name for Empowertising. Here’s a link to the article.

The statistics in this article shocked me. Just how men compared to women in how they responded was something that I didn’t expect. The disparity between the groups was honestly kind of scary, to think that men are this ignorant to how bad it is to display women in these degrading, sexual, unrealistic ads.

Definitely check out the ads that won the #Femvertising awards this year. These are ads that are taking a step in the right direction for feminism. Here’s the link!

I think that representation and empowering images are so important in advertising. Everyone needs representation and everyone could use some empowering. I think that advertising and the overall way of thinking of many people in the world needs to be changed. We have a long way to go, that’s for sure, but long strides have been made and that’s really important to acknowledge.

One more thing that I want to talk about before I leave off for this post is this concept of “rebranding feminism”.

In 2013, Elle UK paired up with three advertising brands to rebrand feminism because they thought that feminism had an image problem that needed to be “fixed”. I don’t really know where this thinking came from because feminism cannot be rethought, or rebranded. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a way of thinking that strives for equality for all people. This frustrated me to think about because they essentially treated the advancement of women’s rights as an outdated product that needed to be made cool again. In my opinion, very very wrong Elle.

What do you guys think of the concept of empowertising? Cool? Unnecessary? Making a difference or none at all?

I think this was a very eye opening podcast and I hope you decide to give it a try, and maybe listen to some of their other podcasts as well, there are so many interesting ones that I want to talk about.

Have a nice day everyone!