Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Christians Upset Over Fleeting Images of Gay & Lesbian Parents in "Storks"

I don't go to the movie theater as much as I used to. There are multiple reasons for that. Long story made short, I haven't seen Storks. I'm vaguely aware that it deals with storks and some corporation that delivers babies to people. One baby gets lost in the process, leading one stork to attempt delivery of the baby in defiance of his corporate overlords. Or something like that. (Jon's Note: I'm sure that the baby eventually makes it to his family and everything works out in the end.)

Turns out that Christian movie reviewers are upset because there's a lesbian couple and a gay male couple in this movie towards the end. Like for less than a second. But you really need to know this so that you can decide if you want your money to go to anything even hinting at gay families.

From the Christian Examiner:
The Bad... The creators of Storks did tip their hat to the LGBT community, although the scene is even more brief than the alleged lesbian scene in Finding Dory. The Storks scene takes place in the film's final minutes, as we watch a rapid sequence involving babies in the arms of different parents. Most of the couples include a man and a woman, but we also see two women, and moments later two men. It's so quick that it's easy to miss (it might last a fifth of a second – if that). The scene was not a deal-breaker to me, although it might bother some conservative families.
In fact, the Christian Examiner decided to post a second article highlighting Storks' gay parenting controversy yesterday:
But there is no question about a just-as-brief (if not briefer) scene in the new animated movie Storks (PG), which has been widely applauded for some of its general themes but which also includes a rapid sequence at the film's end that shows a baby in the arms of different couples – including a lesbian couple and a gay couple. The film grossed $21 million over the weekend and finished No. 2. 

Adam Holz of Focus on the Family's Plugged In department said Christian families who know about the controversy will reach different conclusions as to whether they should watch the film. 

"The scene in question here is very, very short. It may be a quarter of a second or less," Holz told Christian Examiner. "It's truly a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment. If viewers aren't paying close attention, they may very well miss it entirely. Because of that, I think there's room for Christian families to make a variety of decisions on whether they want to navigate this scene or not. That said, I suspect that for many Christian families, the fact that the film includes a scene with at least two same-sex couples (two women and two men shown in a fast-moving montage) receiving babies from storks will push it out of bounds on principle, no matter how fleeting the scene is

"By including those images, the filmmakers are promoting a worldview and an understanding of family that's consistent with mainstream secular values with regard to sexuality and marriage, but one that's at odds with a biblical understanding of those important subjects. I suspect that will be enough for many Christian families to take a pass on this film."
Seriously, there are people who will refuse to see Storks because it includes a passing image of two men holding a baby and two women holding a baby for less than one second. And Christians continue to ask me why gay people don't think that there's room for us within the Church...

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Christy from "Little Women: LA" Sued on "The People's Court"

I was poking around YouTube today and discovered an episode of "The People's Court" from earlier this year featuring Christy Lynn Gibel (or is she Christy McGinity??) from "Little Women: LA." Keep in mind that I like "The People's Court," but I cannot stand "Little Women: LA."

Here's the gist. A woman named Alexandria Pham claimed that her car was struck by reality TV star Christy Lynn Gibel on the way to work, causing just over $3,500 in car damage. Turns out that Gibel had let her car insurance lapse, so she wasn't covered at the time of the accident.

Unfortunately for Gibel, she admitted that she admitted in court that she coasted through a red light turn without paying attention to the oncoming traffic. Fortunately for Gibel, Pham's car was 16-years-old and its value exceeded the cost of the necessary repairs.

Gibel lost the court case and had to pay $2,528 for the damage that she caused.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Carroll, Iowa: Football Team Being Investigated for Online Bullying Against Gay Student // Updated Below

Originally written on 09/13/16The football team at Carroll High School in Carroll, IA, is under scrutiny today following reports that they engaged in anti-gay bullying on a group chat against another student:
The football players were in a group chat and were upset that another student, who is gay, was voted to the homecoming court. Superintendent Rob Cordes said the players already regret what he calls a stupid mistake. 

“Well I certainly think this gives some individual students a black eye, as well as the football team,” Cordes said. 

Cordes discovered a copy of a group chat in which players used slurs against the gay student on the homecoming court. 

The football players’ chat happened Friday night. One player's text said the gay student should kill himself, or go die. Another said he would drop out if the gay student stayed on the homecoming court.
It doesn't appear that the gay student was in the group chat. According to KCCI News, he indicated that this "should be a teachable moment for the entire school, not just the football players."

No punishment has been meted out against any of the football players at this time. Most likely, there will be a school assembly held to promote the message of tolerance to the student body.

You can watch a news segment about this story here.

Updated on 09/24/16: The Daily Times Herald of Carroll, IA, published a follow up article this week about this situation. The 17-year-old gay student was identified and we finally heard his perspective. It was interesting to read about his response to this news cast, particularly one of the interviews where the superintendent appeared to cast the bullying football players as partial victims in this situation:
The players have said they already regret the slurs. “And I can tell you for a fact there is a lot of them hurting,” Cordes said. “And some of the ones hurting are the ones that caused the problem.”
Here is how the Daily Times Herald reported the teen's response to the superintendent's attempt at damage control:
He watched Carroll Community School District Superintendent Rob Cordes on the screen, saying how sorry the texters were and that it was simply a stupid mistake — they were hurting, too. “It felt like everything in me from head to toe drained out,” Loew said. “I was numb.” He didn’t sleep that night. He changed his mind. He wasn’t going to let this go.
Incidentally, four of the football players were suspended from playing during at least one of the games for their involvement in the online bullying.

And the gay teen ended up being crowned as homecoming king.

Friday, September 23, 2016

CIVIL WAR II: Guardians of the Galaxy Stranded on Earth after Ship Blown Up

We accidentally picked up a copy of CIVIL WAR II #5 this week. That's right. We haven't been purchasing this latest comic book event by Marvel Comics.

Here's what it's about. A new Inhuman named Ulysses has visions of the future. Captain Marvel has seized upon this opportunity to advocate for new laws that allow SHIELD and Earth's superheroes to arrest people for pre-crimes.

So Ulysses tells everyone that Hulk will kill everyone. They all confront Bruce Banner -- who's been Hulk-free for months -- and Hawkeye ends up shooting Banner in the head. He claims that his trained eye picked up a bit of green and he knew that he had to act. Not that Spider-Man's spidey-sense picked up any danger.

Hawkeye walked and now Captain Marvel and SHIELD are going crazy with pre-crime arrests. This leads to a huge battle between the Captain Marvel (alongside the Ultimates, Alpha Flight, the Extraordinary X-Men, and the Guardians of the Galaxy) versus Iron Man (alongside the All-New Avengers, the All-New X-Men, Old Man Logan, Doctor Strange, Captain America, and the other Captain America).

I won't reveal the big spoiler (though it's hardly a spoiler anymore), but there was one development that promises to affect the Guardians of the Galaxy for the foreseeable future. Vision blew up their starship and effectively stranded the team on Earth.

That's right. Fans of the Guardians of the Galaxy will be treated to several months of Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, Drax, Angela, and Groot complaining about that backwoods planet called Earth. However will they cope?

It's too bad that they don't have a starship anymore or access to anyone who could get them to a starship or a place where they make starships!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Coming Soon to Channel 4 in the UK: "Damned" // Dark Comedy about Social Work

If I lived in the United Kingdom, I would be watching this new program called "Damned" on Channel 4 next Tuesday. It stars Jo Brand and Alan Davis and features of team of children's services social workers.

I've seen a couple different clips online (at this link) and have discovered an intriguing dark comedy that apparently highlights the elements of social work that I rarely write about on this blog -- because it's too close to my workplace!

In interviews, Brand has noted that her mother was a social worker and she has long been interested in spotlighting this profession and shining a little light on these good folks:
Damned is Brand’s attempt not only to tap into an underexplored area, but to counter negative portrayal of social workers by showing them as real people faced with complex decisions. The title is a nod to the no-win situation social workers invariably find themselves in. 
Brand believes the public “love to hate” social workers because, although in reality they are a mixed group like any profession, they cannot shake the image of “middle-class”, “do-gooders” telling people how to live their lives. 
She says: “Psychiatrists have a similar job to social workers because they have to predetermine how much harm someone is going to do, but when they make mistakes, they are not castigated in the same way… 
“…when a social worker does a good thing you never find out because it’s classified information. You only find out when it goes wrong.”
Too true.

If you live in the UK, you can watch "Damned on Channel 4 on Tuesday, September 27th, at 10:00 PM.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ryan Buell of "Paranormal State" Arrested // Charged with Felony Theft & Receiving Stolen Property

It's been a while since I've written anything about Ryan Buell, formerly of "Paranormal State." (Here, here, and here) I follow him on Facebook, but haven't been interested in his gaming activities on Twitch.

He's back in the news today -- but not for good reasons. Ryan was arrested on September 18th and charged with "two felony charges related to theft and stolen property", as well as misdemeanor charges of theft of services. He was arrested and charged in Centre County, PA, and remains in jail at the moment.

I'm assuming that it's connected to ongoing reports of Buell organizing tours and speaking engagements, only to cancel at the last minute and then not refund many who purchased tickets or other services.

There is a lot of discussion on his fan Facebook page about this arrest and the surrounding scuttlebutt. His PRS Bureau supporters posted a response about his arrest:

Meanwhile, Buell's mother has been posting on his public Facebook page a plea to Buell's fans:

In a nutshell, Buell's mother told her fans to stop enabling him by buying tickets to events, buying merchandise, paying to see him on Twitch, etc.

I will post more as I learn more.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ghost Rider Makes His Debut in "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

I normally don't get to watch "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." because of my part-time job. But I've not been working this past week, plus the show just shifted back an hour. So I actually get to watch this program again!

Season Two began tonight and introduced Ghost Rider to the program. Up until now, the program has consisted of super agents and Inhumans. As far as I can tell, Ghost Rider is the first supernatural character for this program

Ghost Rider (AKA Robbie Reyes) is the Spirit of Vengeance. He is bonded to the Devil and occasionally flames up when in the presence of people whose souls have been soiled by sin.

The main battle in tonight's episode featured Ghost Rider versus Quake. It ended up resulting in a bit of draw -- though more in Robbie's favor.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Coming Soon to Archie Comics: REGGIE & ME Ongoing Series!!!

I learned some great news earlier today: Archie Comics will be publishing a new comic book series featuring Reggie Mantle. REGGIE & ME will feature writing by Tom DeFalco with art by Sandy Jarrell, Kelly Fitzpatrick, and Jack Morelli!

Here is how the series is described:
There is no one more loved, revered, admired and adored in Riverdale than... Reggie Mantle? Well, at least Reggie doesn't think there's anyone as loved and admired as himself. And his best friend can back that idea up -- his best friend, of course, being his dog, Vader. The unstoppable duo is known around town for pulling the funniest pranks, getting the hottest dates and throwing the best parties. And if anyone even dares to compete with them, there is going to be hell to pay. Come take a look at the life of your hero, the handsome, hilarious Reggie Mantle.
I have to admit that I'm a bit sad to see Runty replaced by Vader. But they're essentially the same dog. Maybe they decided that Vader sounds more bad-ass than Runty. Which is dog. Still...

ARCHIE, JUGHEAD, LIFE WITH KEVIN, BETTY & VERONICA, JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS, and now REGGIE & ME. I'm pretty excited these days with all of the new titles that Archie Comics is publishing these days.

REGGIE & ME is scheduled for publication is early December.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

"Z Nation" Shouts Out to Riverside, IA, and Trek Fest in Season 2 Episode!

As you might know (or not), I like to binge-watch programs on Netflix. My latest binge is "Z Nation," a show that currently airs on Syfy. In fact, I just found out that a season 3 "Z Nation" just premiered on Friday. So I'll need to keep my eyes out for that.

I'm like a pushmi-pullyu when it comes to zombie programming. I'm definitely drawn to them, but they inevitably repel me due to the fatalistic nature of these programs. I'll track spoilers online for episodes of "Walking Dead" and "Fear the Walking Dead," but I rarely watch them anymore. They're just too depressing!

With that in mind, I avoided "Z Nation" when I first learned of the program on Syfy. Just another apocalyptic program. But -- for whatever reason -- I decided to give the show a chance when I saw it show up as a suggestion on Netflix.

I did indeed find a program about yet another zombie apocalypse. And it's one of the worst ones, in my mind. Not only do the zombies attack and eat people, but they're fast-running zombies -- not shufflers. And not only do the zombie bites spread the disease, but it's the type of apocalypse where everyone comes back. You could die from a heart attack and still come back itching for human brains and flesh. But this zombie apocalypse isn't limited to people. Everything comes back from the dead. We're talking people, horses, dogs, foxes, monkeys, bears, sheep, snakes, birds, etc.

Frankly, I don't see any coming back from a zombie apocalypse when it affects all of the animals. The zombie birds should be dive-bombing everyone. The undead bugs should be creepy in from every crack. Once all of the animals come back from the dead, it's game over.

Fortunately I'm not writing this show. So you only see animal zombies when it's convenient for the plot. And they don't seem to cause too much trouble -- except for the Sisters of Mercy.

But "Z Nation" has something that most other zombie shows lack -- humor and oddball antics.

So things might seem hopeless, but we can still sit back and watch them take on "Sharknado." Or we can see what happens when zombies turn into compost at a marijuana research facility. Or we can visit Roswell, New Mexico, and see if aliens made it out of the apocalypse alive.

Speaking of Roswell, I was watching one of the season two episodes and found an unexpected shout out to nearby Riverside, Iowa, and (indirectly) Trek Fest! Check this out:

(Incidentally, when did we lose the ability to take screen grabs from Netflix. I could do it as recently as last Saturday, but now it just comes out all black. I found an annoying way around the black-out, but this was frustrating.)

Anyway, I'm looking forward to finishing up with season 2 of "Z Nation" and then tracking down the movie that just premiered on Syfy. If you haven't seen "Z Nation," you owe it to yourself to check out the show and enjoy the zombie show that maintains hope through humor.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Remembering "Degrassi Junior High" Episode 32 ("He Ain't Heavy...")

It's been nearly a month since I shared any of the favorite "Degrassi" episodes. This week's show is episode #32 of "Degrassi Junior High" AKA "He Ain't Heavy..." The episode made its debut on 12/05/1998 and it introduced viewers to Snake's older brother, Glen.

Here is the summary:
Snake's older brother comes home and reveals that he is gay, which Snake finds difficult to accept. Joey takes a job as a janitor at CRAZ radio in an attempt to get his band discovered.
For the record, we won't be focusing at all on Joey's subplot here. Just the parts dealing with Snake and his brother.

This episode starts off with an AIDS education class. Because you might as well talk about AIDS when you're going to introduce the first gay character to "Degrassi," right? All of the students were told to randomly shake hands with four other students. The end result, Snake got infected with AIDS.

Not quite. Actually, Snake had a card with a letter "A" on it. For AIDS. He "exposed" four other students to the AIDS virus. And, of course, they had each exposed four other students. In other words, pretty much everyone in the classroom had been potentially "exposed" to AIDS. Fortunately, three of the students had cards with the letter "C" on them. For condoms. So they managed to protect themselves.

Don't get me wrong. It's a clever way of highlighting how a disease can spread through a community. But it's still eye-rollingly obvious to place an AIDS message within a coming out message. Then again, it was the 80s and the height of the AIDS epidemic so I get it.

After class, Snake, Shane, BLT and some other guys went off to play basketball, but not before riffing on each other, talking with stereotypical high-pitched, lisps.

Enter Glen Simpson. He is Snake's beloved older brother that we've never met before. He was a star athlete on the school's football and basketball teams. He was also the valedictorian of his high school class. He's now going to med school -- on a scholarship, no less!

He's left med school for a few days to share some important information with his family. Snake immediately jumps to conclusions. Not the correct conclusion, but he's on the right track: "I know -- You're getting married, right?" "No." Snake: "No? Too Bad. Mom can't wait to have grandchildren."

Snake Simpson: Forever twisting the knife of poorly timed observations...

No, Glen has come home to tell his family that he's gay. He has a boyfriend named Greg and their relationship is getting pretty serious. Serious enough that they now live together.

Snake doesn't take the news very well. He freaks out and pretty much ostracizes his brother for the rest of his visit. Much like Caitlin back in Season 1, Snake is fearful that he might be gay if he has a gay brother. Glen assures him that it doesn't work out that way. You're either gay or not.

Things go badly when Glen comes out to his parents. They tell him to leave and that he's no longer their son. He leaves, but not before getting to see Snake one more time. Snake apologizes for his earlier reaction. He asks when Glen is coming back home. "When I'm welcome."

Which apparently never happened. This is the only time that we met Glen Simpson. Snake is the one "Degrassi" character from the 80s who continues to appear on new episodes of the program. We've seen him get married. We've seen him become a father and stepfather. We've seen him battle leukemia. We've seen him struggle with depression. We've seen him wrestle with various challenges at work and at home.

And yet he's never spoken again about his beloved older brother Glen.