Why Ocean’s 8 Signals the Death of Strong Female Characters in Hollywood

So if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I wrote two Ghostbusters articles related to the trailer and the film itself. This post is going to look at the upcoming film Ocean’s 8. The all-female reboot of the Ocean’s Eleven films. Let me once again (just for arguments sake) highlight that I’m not against female roles in films at all. The nature of this article is NOT to bash the female actors or having female lead characters or anything like that. Rather it is drawing attention to the lack of imagination in Hollywood and why these sorts of films do nothing to promote the idea of female lead characters and certainly shouldn’t be seen as supporting feminism. Just to warn you: I sometimes flip between referring to the females in question as actors and actresses. I don’t think it hugely matters either way.

 

Backstory

If you’re not familiar with the film: Ocean’s 11 was a 1960 film featuring Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. The version most people know is the 2001 remake featuring George Clooney and Brad Pitt. The story line essentially revolves around a heist: It follows 11 men as they rob a casino. Who would have thought you could sum up a film in 9 words. It grossed over $450 million worldwide and currently has a rating of 7.8 on IMDB.

In my opinion it’s a fun and entertaining film that has a decent (all be it fairly predictable) story but is light-hearted enough that you don’t have to take it too seriously. There is a great cast who seem to have great on-screen chemistry and while it is a reboot, Ocean’s 11 is one of the few remakes/reboots that actually do a much better job than the original.

 

The Hollywood Heist

So what is my beef with Hollywood over this one? Similarly to the Ghostbusters remake, there is a clear lack of vision and imagination. Ghostbusters did not need a remake at all! As a fan, I would have definitely gone to see a sequel featuring most of the cast but a remake just was not necessary. Who in the world is going to top Bill Murray as a Ghostbuster? The answer is nobody. Ever!  So by A) Giving it a remake/reboot (I’m honestly not even sure what it would be described as at this point) and B) Making it an all-female cast just to be different, was in my opinion a disgrace. I’m not going to focus on it too much because I covered my opinion extensively in my previous posts.

So why is it that Hollywood now feels that we need to remake a remake with an all-female cast? The simple answer: money. The 2001 film was undoubtedly a huge success, especially if you take the whole trilogy into consideration. There’s a change going on in Hollywood that is very noticeable: by putting females or minority groups into previously white-male roles you get the support of certain groups and it makes the film seem “progressive”.  Now, I’m not against this at all. I think many roles could be drastically improved by mixing it up: Idris Elba as James Bond would have been incredible. A female Doctor Who: less so. This probably makes me come across as sexist but hopefully once I explain what I mean you’ll see this is not the case.

 

Preference is not Sexism

Again, I’m going to try not to go wildly off topic here but the reason I don’t think there should be a female Doctor Who isn’t because I want to only see it as a male role. Rather, it’s because we literally just did that with the Master. Anyone who watches Doctor Who knows that in most cases, the companion is often just as important as the Doctor. Rose Tyler: Strong woman, Martha Jones: Strong woman, Donna Noble: Strong woman, Amy Pond: Definitely a strong woman…you get the picture. It’s not like these companions are damsels in distress. They are partners and they always play just as much a role, if not more than the Doctor.

Yet the BBC is trying to get that “progressive label”. That’s why the last companion was a black, gay woman. As I mentioned, we literally just had the Master become Missy and that was very well done (although John Simm is difficult to top).  For the record (because I feel like I can’t state it enough) I am ENTIRELY for female roles and diversification of roles. My issue isn’t with that at all. My issue is with doing it for the sake of doing it which is clearly the case with shows like Doctor Who (which, by the way, has been getting worse and worse over the recent years). I’ll come back to this point in a moment but for now, let’s get back on track.

 

Ocean’s 8

So what’s wrong with Ocean’s 8? Let’s start with the concept of the film. It’s not sexist to say that the idea of a heist is more male-oriented. I even carried out my own survey by asking completely random people if they’d go see a heist movie. While most males did say they would, most women said they would not (I’ll update this with the figures once I’m finished). So what benefit is there to forcing a cast such as this into a film that is almost definitely going to flop?

This takes us nicely onto the next issue: the cast. I could pick apart the cast of any film but this one in particular stands out. You have some incredible actors in it (and actually I probably will see this film just to see them in these roles) such as Sandra Bullock (she’s not my favourite but she is a good actor), Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter and of course Cate Blanchett. Olivia Munn is also listed as making an appearance but her role is yet to be confirmed (as far as I am aware). These are all incredibly gifted actors and this alone makes me want to watch this film. Sadly, everything else about it puts me off.

The rest of the cast is an example of this. My main pet peeve is having Matt Damon reprise his role in the film as Linus. This is a tactic that is used over and over again. We saw it in Ghostbusters, we saw it in Star Wars, we’ve seen it in films like The Hulk. Yes, when used correctly in can be a hilarious moment but in cases such as this it’s a desperate attempt to connect a film to its previously (and more successful) version. You also have Rhianna and Mindy fucking Kaling. When you have such incredible black actresses like Zoe Saldana, Halle Berry, Viola Davis or Paula Patton, why choose such irritating and just awful people such as these two? Rhianna can’t act and Mindy Kaling has a voice that actually is only comparable to that of Melissa McCarthy. That’s just an interesting coincidence.

 

My Deeper Concern

Similarly to Ghostbusters, my issue does not lie with the fact that it’s a female cast. My issue lies with the fact that we don’t need the film in the first place. I could give you an endless number of films that are coming out that just shouldn’t be getting made. The reason I’m focussing on this is because similarly to Ghostbusters, I’ve seen reports stating that automatically hating this film is sexist.

First of all, we just saw this film. I mean sure, 16 years may seem like a long time but here’s why it isn’t: Star Wars came out in 1977 and The Force Awakens came out in 2015. That’s 38 years between the films, more than double the time between Ocean’s 11 and Ocean’s 8. Yet fans were still all too aware of the fact that the storyline was essentially the same.

My next issue is with it being called Ocean’s 8. I haven’t read this confirmed anywhere and perhaps it’s just speculation…but could it be so that there is space for a trilogy? Ocean’s 8, 9, 10 followed by the 11, 12 and 13 that we already have? STOP! Ubisoft do it, Disney do it, DC do it…why is there this need to create the number of films so far in advance. It just leads to rushed final products, sloppy storylines and disappointed fans!

 

Why hating this film actually Supports Equality

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t view it as sexist to be against this film, Ghostbusters, a female Doctor Who, ETC. I actually think that my opinion is more supportive of female roles in films that those who will blindly go see it simply because it’s an all-female cast. Why? Because this is simply another desperate attempt by Hollywood to earn the “we use females in major character roles” badge. Look at some of the films that have been aimed at women recently: Ghostbusters was an absolute disgrace, Bad Moms and A Bad Mom’s Christmas that basically appeals to mothers who wish to escape from their children to party. How to be Single which was like a female “lad’s” movie and also just plain awful.

Meanwhile films that actually display abusive behaviour towards women such as the 50 Shades of Grey franchise are applauded, respected and smash the box office. Why? There are some incredible female roles in film and TV that people just seem eager to ignore. Peggy Carter in either her own series or Captain America where the role highlights some of the many difficulties faced by women in the workplace both then and now; Game of Thrones has some of the top female characters ever that repeatedly display brilliance and cunning over their male counterparts; Eleven in Stanger Things; Mulan; Jessica Jones; Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs is another example of a woman overcoming very real issues; Rey in the Force Awakens; you could say Katniss Everdeen but I thought those films were pretty poor; Dana Scully from the X-Files; Ripley from the Alien series; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; and not forgetting the brain box from Harry Potter: Hermione Granger. Not to mention upcoming characters like Captain Marvel and I’ve heard that Wonder Women is a great character although I’ve yet to watch the film.

THESE are roles that should be representing women within the entertainment industry. Original characters, original storylines and all of whom are strong and powerful characters: many of whom demonstrate the ability to overcome genuine issues faced by women today. Isn’t THAT what feminism should be promoting? Instead of these disgusting reboots of remakes where the female cast are simply stepping into the shoes of men?

 

Final Remarks

So hopefully you understand my point of view. I’m not against films like Ghostbusters and Ocean’s 8 because it’s a female cast. I’m against them because as films they suck ass (just predicting Ocean’s 8 here) but also as someone who completely supports equal rights (I’m not a feminist because I believe the movement has become toxic, a conversation for another time perhaps), I believe that films like this don’t give power to women or demonstrate powerful female characters. I think it’s simply an attempt to show that women can do what men can do…except that it’s based on films that don’t need to be rebooted and were better suited to a male cast. Bill fucking Murray, man!

 

As always, I appreciate being followed both here and on Twitter! I welcome any and all comments or criticisms and if you think that something I’ve said in this article is wrong or unfair, by all means let me know.

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The Conspiracy Conspiracy

 

What is a conspiracy? Well to use the first definition that Google displays it’s: “a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful” or “the action of plotting or conspiring”. However, we are all familiar with how the word is used today. If you get the label of a conspiracy theorist, then it means you wear a tinfoil hat because you’re worried that the aliens who shot JFK and planned 9/11 are using their base at Area 51 to read your mind. Keep in mind that the term “conspiracy theory” doesn’t directly refer to someone believing some crackpot theory. It’s simply a theory related to a group’s secret plan.

As such, I want to use this post to explore this idea that perhaps we need to view conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists in a different light. Similar to how the blanket term of “drugs” is often used as if all drugs are equally as dangerous or equally as addictive or remotely the same substances whatsoever. Yes, we have class systems for these drugs but just keep in mind that weed is in the same level as amphetamines, ketamine and barbiturates. But this isn’t a drug post.

So what will I be looking at today? I’m going to look at some of the extremes: the conspiracy theories that really do deserve to be up there on the “tinfoil hat required” list while also looking at some of ones that turned out to be very factual despite being mostly ignored today. I’m also going to cover an area that seems to be avoided or seen as the “no-man’s land” in every single aspect of life: the middle ground. For some reason you’re either down the rabbit hole or you’re not. There’s never an opportunity to stick your head in to take a look.

Get the Tinfoil Hats Out

I’m going to keep this section fairly short and light-hearted (all to build you up for the later sections). The truth is there are a million if not billion random conspiracy theories out there that I’m sure we’ve all heard. The Elvis one is always a go-to option but rather than explore that one further, let’s warm up with another musical icon: Paul McCartney.

 

Paul is Dead

What about the idea that Paul McCartney died in a car crash in 1969 and The Beetles covered it up and replaced him with a look-a-like? This is one that I only heard about recently and it’s certainly an interesting one. Apparently, at the end of the song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ you can hear John Lennon saying the words “I buried Paul”. People have even interpreted the album covers as being signs as well. The famous Abbey Road cover being a nod to the funeral which is why Paul is barefoot. This theory was put to rest pretty quickly when Paul McCartney took part in an interview with Life (I’m sure the pun was intended) magazine in which he acknowledged the rumours as being ridiculous…sounds like something a Paul McCartney look-a-like would be paid to say…

 

From Bombs to Tsunamis

I’m sure we all remember the horrific tsunami that took place on Boxing Day 2004 in Indonesia. The scientific explanation is that the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that took place triggered the tsunami and everything that followed. However, there are those who believe that the US government (or at least some section of the US military) detonated a 5-10 megaton bomb in order to trigger the tsunami as a way of sending in “relief support”: All in an effort to claim oil fields. Apparently the type of waves in the area were indicative of an underwater explosion. Combine that with the fact that the US had aid there incredibly quickly and you have a fishy situation. Out of all these slightly crazier conspiracy theories, this is the one I view as being most likely…not that I believe it but I just think that the US government is capable of literally anything!

 

The Moon is a Hologram

Yup, you read that title correctly. The moon it seems is a hologram and the Illuminati or some other secret society has pulled the wool over our eyes for decades. It’s hard for me to go into this one with an open mind, mainly because the entire conspiracy doesn’t make a great deal of sense. From what I can tell, this theory began when an amateur photographer observed the moon for a year and noticed ripples of some sort. He then came out and expressed the idea that the power system was failing which is what caused the ripples. He notes that while doing this he spotted an unlisted satellite that is one of many that projects the moon into our sky.

If you’ve never heard of David Icke, he’s an intelligent man who has bought into what seems like every conspiracy that has ever existed e.g. Saturn is the home of the lizard people who run this world in their human costumes. I first encountered Icke several years back when a talk about the nature of reality, the governments of the world, the holographic universe theory ended with him butchering by favourite Bill Hicks moment: “Just a Ride”. I have nothing against Icke as a human but I do get the feeling that he peddles a lot of nonsense in order to gain from it financially. If you make a theory crazy enough, there will always be people who will hop on board.

Anyway, Icke suggests that the moon being a hologram is all part of the Illumanati’s control over us. By presenting a fake moon, they highlight their power. It doesn’t end there. Oh no, sir! Apparently, the real moon could still be out there and could even be home to a population of alien colonisers. We will be looking at the moon landing further on in the article, I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear.

 

The Reptilian Conspiracy

In case you’ve managed to avoid hearing this one: The Earth is home to shapeshifting lizard creatures who rule the planet. These aliens are known as the Annunaki (which is based on ancient mythology from the Sumerians, I believe) and the Royal Family are actually lizard-people. Of course they are just the low level lizard people. We once again visit the opinion of David Icke, who claims that the bible references these lizard people (of course when you look at the mentioned passages, you don’t get that impression at all).

Apparently this species arrived on Earth via flaming UFOs and manipulated the human race into being their slaves. Only then did they realise that to truly rule, they would have to use their shape shifting power to become human. I’m all for believing in ancient aliens and civilisations but this one definitely requires a tinfoil hat to be a part of.

 

From Downright Crazy to Downright True

Of course not all conspiracy theories are quite as out there. There are many, many examples of governments creating shady plans in order to benefit their own agenda. Some of these are just downright terrifying to imagine but will also set us up for the final section. This section won’t cover anything that isn’t factual. I might share my opinions on them but the cases themselves are all completely true.

 

Operation Northwoods

This is an incredibly interesting yet also terrifying report. It’s suspected to be one of the reasons that JFK was assassinated (more on that in the next section) Operation Northwoods was a proposed false-flag operation. Who proposed it? Certain groups within the US Department of Defence and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that’s who. The proposal called for the CIA and several other agencies to commit acts of violence and terror against US civilian and military targets while under disguise as Cubans.

Some examples of these acts included: hijacking planes while dressed as Cubans with Cuban identification; attacking Guantanamo Bay in order to kill military targets while again, being disguised as Cuban soldiers; blowing up US ships and finally, planting bombs and carrying out attacks in US cities. The purpose of this was to create a strong public opinion that invading/going to war with Cuba would be necessary.

 

MK Ultra

Ever worry that the government might be poisoning you or brainwashing you? Sadly, Project MK Ultra is a true example of this. The CIA (an agency we will be referring to A LOT!) carried out highly illegal tests on both US and Canadian citizens (all unwitting). What was the aim? Well, they wanted to find the most effective techniques for interrogations and brainwashing. So they tested a wide variety of drug methods such as dosing people with LSD. They also tried hypnosis, sensory deprivation and a wide variety of other techniques including verbal and physical abuse.

Ultimately, while an investigation was carried out to determine all the shady shit the CIA had been doing, very little was done in relation to the MK Ultra project. Most of the files were destroyed at the command of the head of the CIA at the time, Richard Helms.

 

The Snowden Files

We all remember the relatively recent breakthrough that the NSA and the GCHQ had been spying on not only enemies but also allies. Both organisations right under our noses had carried out illegal and certainly shady mass data collection and if not for Edward Snowden, we would be none the wiser. Once again, very little has happened as a result of this and the US’s reaction to a whistle blower has been made quite clear which doesn’t bode well for any future releases of this nature.

Of course this won’t have stopped there. The CIA uses Snapchat to collect facial recognition data and Mark Zuckerberg is still all too willing to supply any information he can to any paying buyer, especially government bodies. People like Theresa May want us to have less privacy and if the Snooper’s Charter had gone through, apps like WhatsApp that use encryption to keep messages private, would have become illegal unless they supplied governments with backdoor access.

It’s safe to assume that most of our data is still being collected, they’re just finding more and more ways to do it.

 

I could write about so many more but I don’t want people to get bored but at least you’ll have seen a glimpse of some of the shady acts that our governments have been very willing to do. If you’re interested in these sorts of historical moments, then I suggest you read up about the WTC bomb of 1993 (I think) and the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. This brings us on to the final section.

 

The Middle Ground

One thing that needs to be addressed in terms of conspiracy theories is the middle ground. Why can’t I believe part of a conspiracy theory but not the whole thing? We view them as being one extreme or the other. The reason I’ve named this post The Conspiracy Conspiracy is because I think part of the reason people ignore the middle ground is that they simply don’t want their bubble to be burst. If we can agree that the above example are factual then are the following ones really so hard to believe? I’m going to basically give you an overview of my beliefs on the following well-known conspiracy theories. I personally can’t see any reason why it’s such a stretch to believe them.

 

The Moon Landing was Fake

Ok, hear me out. I believe that we went to the moon. I’m not about to deny that we did. However, I think that while we did go to the moon, fake footage was also shot. I’m inclined to believe the Kubrick conspiracy version of this i.e. Kubrick was brought in to film the fake version and left clues to this throughout other films such as The Shining. My belief is as follows: NASA and the US were about to make history by being the first to send men to the moon. Were people just going to accept that as fact? Of course not. If someone claimed today that we had men on Mars but didn’t provide proof, we’d label them a crackpot conspiracy theorist.

As such, I think a back-up was created just in case there were any issues. In the event that the mission as a whole failed or the footage wasn’t available, then this back-up version would have been used. I’m not even against the possibility that some of the fake footage was added to the real footage. I just think we need to be open minded about the whole situation. There are many examples of Neil Armstrong and the others clearly hiding details. Don’t believe? YouTube and the Internet will be your friends!

 

JFK Assassination

I am a strong believer in the idea that this wasn’t just the work of Oswald or Communists or whatever other official explanation was given. Everything about the assassination screams “conspiracy” and yet for the most part, people ate up the official story. You only have to look as far as the autopsy photos changing, bullets changing, footage being destroyed, files being set for declassification and then delayed.

Is that not enough? Well, what about the ridiculous number of eye-witnesses who died within a few years of the event? Not that their individual deaths were suspicious (although cut breaks surely are) but the sheer number that have died in that time is certainly bizarre and an anomaly. It is said that the odds of them all being dead by 1969 is one hundred thousand trillion to one.

A YouTuber whose channel is Bright Insight led me to the idea that George Bush Senior may have had a direct involvement in JFK’s assassination. He was working for the CIA at the time (one of the agencies seen as most likely to have carried out the assassination) and since he became president (followed later on by his son) it’s no real surprise that keeping this under wraps would be essential. Especially since that leads to a whole bunch of questions about other times the CIA and the Bush family may have joined to commit illegal activities.

 

9/11

Truther is a word often thrown at someone who doesn’t agree with the given narrative about the 9/11 attacks in New York. Am I a truther? No…well, sort of. If you viewed it as a scale with believing the narrative being 1 and believing Bush himself piloted the planes via remote control as 10, I’m probably in the middle: Somewhere between 4 and 6.

Everything about the event just seems off. If you ignored everything else and simply focused on how the Bush administration handled the event that alone would raise suspicions. It just so happens that that isn’t the only evidence. Just to be clear here, I don’t believe that explosives were planted in the buildings or that the CIA organised the attacks (although if you read up on the WTC bomb several years previous, it certainly raises some suspicions).

However, I do believe that it is completely possible that the attacks were allowed to happen and were closely monitored as the day went on. I do believe that the US government received countless warnings that such an attack would take place. I do believe that the attacks were used to fuel public opinion and mount an unnecessary invasion in order to take control of oil and opium. I also believe that the 9/11 Inquiry was great at avoiding any real answers or investigation and that thousands of people had their lives torn to pieces and got a mumbling moron President making everything worse.

 

In Conclusion

So what is the conspiracy conspiracy? Perhaps it’s a plan from a secret society to turn anybody who questions the official narrative into a tinfoil hat wearing nutjob…or perhaps it’s just a title that has no real meaning that to sound catchy. I’m not genuinely implying that the word conspiracy is in itself a conspiracy…but I think that as a society, we’ve attached connotations to the word that ought not to be there.

The point of this post isn’t to debate conspiracy theories. The point of it is to highlight that sometimes, your government and my government are responsible for some extremely shady shit. Yet we let them get a pass over and over again. It’s like letting your dog shit on your pillow and then just shrugging your shoulders because fuck it! I think we all need to take a step back, look at the evidence and decide whether something is believable or not. Just because someone suggests an idea that goes against everything the media or your teachers or your parents are telling you, doesn’t mean that you should rule it out.

I’m not saying believe every crackpot theory you hear. I’m saying that you should look at all the evidence and come to your own conclusions. Government conspiracies are probably in motion right now so don’t go down the path of saying “a government could never get away with that”. They have and they will again. When a red flag is raised with an issue but a group of the people believing it also believe that the Earth is flat, don’t assume that your point of view is wrong or that theirs is…

…And when it comes to the CIA, assume the worst.

 

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter to be kept up-to-date with writing I do outside this blog. If you have a taste for conspiracy theories, check out one of my older posts that looks at how the petition system in the UK is simply there to make you feel like you tried and failed to make a change.

Star Wars Episode VIII: The First Order Strikes Back

So this post is going to be a sort of combination of two things. Primarily it’s my current expectations for the next Star Wars film but it’s also a rant about the use of trailers. I haven’t seen the film yet so don’t worry about there being spoilers. Everything I saw is based on the trailers or my own predictions.

Speaking of which: Remember when you watched a trailer and thought “wow, that looks interesting” whereas now you watch it and basically get the entire idea of the film. I bet if they released The Empire Strikes Back today, the trailer would end with Vader saying “No, I am your father…”

 

Star Wars So Far

What can be said about Star Wars that hasn’t been said before? Nobody can deny the fact that it’s an incredibly interesting saga and obviously a successful one. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have glaringly obvious flaws! Whether you look at the inconsistencies, the average storyline or the predictability Star Wars in a sense is eye-candy. It’s great to look at it, it’s great to think about but is it perfect? No. In fact the closer you look, the more you realise that the effort should have been moved away from the special effects a little and more towards a competent storyline.

I won’t get into a whole original vs prequel trilogy debate beyond this paragraph as I think I can sum it up that quickly. The original trilogy was awesome because of the characters. The special effects may have been good for back then but they aren’t now and yet, people still love the films. If you can overlook the Empire essentially being defeated by stone-age bears then sure, the storyline was ok. The prequels on the other hand, look pretty fantastic (for the most part) but again, the storyline just isn’t that great. They had a target they had to aim for but somehow the arrow they fired went up and down, left and right, curving all over the place before getting there.

I think that these new films are a chance to retell that story without being predictable: something I’ve yet to see happen. The Force Awakens was cool but nobody can deny that it was exactly the same plot as the original Star Wars. Even Mark Hamill has come out and said that they’re all about the money. There is no heart or soul going into it anymore, they’re basically playing to the most generic audience to try and make the most money. More on that later! For now, let’s talk trailers.

 

What’s with the Revealing Trailers?

Something that I’ve noticed happening more and more recently is revealing major plot points in the trailers. The Simpsons movies was the earliest example of this for me. All the funny moments were in the trailer so when you watched the film, it felt like you’d seen it before. Thor: Ragnarok…Wow! Can you imagine how much better that film would have been if you never expected Hulk to appear? In the film they even go into it as if the audience is going to be shocked.

Every single trailer had the Hulk in it! I would LOVED to have seen that film without knowing such details. I wish trailers could go back to being teasers. Enough to interest you and get the excitement pounding at the inside of your chest like you’ve just recently encountered a face-hugger. Rather, we get the movie in bitesize form.

It’s like all the big reveals you get now before things are even released: all in an attempt to build up hype but why? Do they seriously think people wouldn’t go see Thor without Hulk or go and see Star Wars without seeing so much of the film in the trailer? Recently they announced that there is a “big shocking moment of truth” in the upcoming Star Wars film…couldn’t they just let us find that out for ourselves?

I remember when we were nearing the start of the 6th season of Game of Thrones. I was late to watching the show (the 5th season was halfway through when I played catch-up) so I’d never had to deal with trailers for it before. I remember watching the first trailer, thinking to myself “wow, this is incredible” and then slowly realising that I now knew pretty much the entire storyline. I mean the trailer was practically the whole season just squashed into a minute.

This is also when I realised just how ridiculous the idea had become. For Game of Thrones season 6, we got something like 3 teaser trailers. If it had ended there it would have been great. Then we got a slightly longer one. Followed by maybe 3 more? 4? 5? For season 7 I avoided every single trailer I could. When it came on TV I looked away. When YouTube recommend it, I avoided it. Quite frankly, I enjoyed this season a lot more. So let’s look at the Star Wars trailer.

 

Why Star Wars is going to be average!

If you’re a Star Wars fan then you’ve most likely seen the trailer. Star Wars Episode 8: The Empire Strikes Back…Again? It’s so blatantly copying the structure of episode 5 and yet, people are losing their shit at the idea! I can guarantee you that they’ll try and top the father reveal from Episode 5 and guess what; it’s going to be awful. Other than the trailer, I’ve avoided everything I can in relation to the new film.  Why? Because I’m still eager to go and see it. My expectations may be low but I have hope. Not a new hope mind you, just a slowly fading away hope.

This is why I think these new films are flawed. In episode 7 we had the same thing. Oh look, Han Solo is killed, of course. Any guesses as to whether Leia dies on episode 8? What about Luke in episode 9? That isn’t the issue though. They’re using too much symbolism of light vs dark and while it worked for the older films, they’re missing their shot with these ones.

I mean let’s take the trailer apart a little. You have what is essentially the assault on Hoth. In fact, if you look closely in the trailer, you’ll see that the same ATATs are still being used. Where they got them from is a question I’d love to have answered. It’s good to see that 30+ years has led to the machines now walking like apes.

We already know we’re going to have a Yoda-Luke training parallel here so that’s hardly a shock. Part of me hopes that when Luke says “I’ve seen this raw strength only once before” that is isn’t talking about Kylo. After Kylo being beaten pretty easily by an untrained Rey in the previous film, that would just be an embarrassing moment.

 

Let me Use the Force to Glimpse the Future

Here’s my prediction and it could be completely wrong: Rey is going to train with Luke. We see that much from the trailer. She’s going to reach a point where she has to leave to save her friends. Despite having been in the same situation himself, Luke will try to convince her not to go. Eventually she will and it will lead to her confrontation with Kylo Ren. Rey is going to use her anger and it will become hatred. Ultimately, she will join the darkside through manipulations from Snoke. There are rumours that we get a force ghost in this so my prediction would be that Anakin convinces Kylo Ren to come back to the light side of the force. Then there will be this big dramatic change where Rey is now bad and Kylo is good. I don’t think Luke will die in this film. If he doesn’t, he’ll definitely die in the next one though.

The film will end with an evil Rey. I wouldn’t even be shocked if she ends up being the one who kills Leia or Luke. I’d say Finn but there is absolutely no way that Disney is killing one of only two or three black actors. Speaking of Finn, you’ll also notice from the trailer that he gets another mock-lightsabre fight. The first one was bad enough but now he fights like that again? And with Phasma no less…

My only alternative theory is that Rey might not turn to the Dark Side but she will pretend to. Her plan will be to get close to Kylo and Snoke in order to infiltrate the First Order and shut them down from the inside. The First Order will then reveal that they have a reason for doing what they’re doing and in fact they aren’t just a galactic dictatorship.

 

Side Theory

I think there will be many throwbacks to the previous trilogies in this one, most likely in an attempt to fix plot holes and continuity errors. However, I do think that this could be an interesting opportunity for them to advance the storylines from the prequel trilogy.

When you watch the prequels again and get past some of the awful acting and bad writing, you realise that there was a point to Anakin’s view of things. He wasn’t in the right by joining the Emperor but he was in the right about the Jedi and their view/involvement in things.

This will take us back to Episode 5 where Luke enters the cave and decapitates Vader only for this mask to explode and reveal his own face. Luke becoming Vader is less symbolic of him becoming evil and more symbolic of him realising the truth of the Jedi: that they had become a corrupt organisation. Luke seeks isolation because he realises that Vader was right all along (despite going about it the wrong way) and he can’t come to terms with that. Sure, his isolation appears to be due to Kylo Ren and perhaps that was the trigger.

What if there becomes a new rule of two for the Jedi? Whenever there are too many Jedi, there also ends up being unbalance in the force (quite literally) and so things have to be reset. This would stick to the prophecy: Anakin DID bring balance to the force and he did destroy the Sith!

Now there is a new enemy that spawns from the attempt to create more Jedi. The imbalance leads to one of the pupils being tilted towards the Dark Side. Leia claims it was Snoke who lured Kylo Ren to that side but what if it was the Dark Side itself? We know the force is an energy that surrounds everything but also that to some degree, it has consciousness, even if through the deceased Jedi.

What if we take this one step further and view the force vs the dark side as being quite literally light vs dark…but it is in fact the same thing. The light side of the force is the dark side and the dark side is the light side. One energy that needs to remain in balance. Luke realises this and flees. Perhaps he knew that the force would one day bring someone to him but he needed to be patient. I mean it could also be a Lost type scenario where you literally have white vs black exploding out your ears.

 

My Hope for the Future

I wish I could say that I hope episode 8 and 9 will be incredible and take the saga to a whole new level of entertainment. Sadly, I’m not super optimistic and so my hope lies in the other films. I was never ever ever ever ever a fan of the idea of bringing the Star Wars films back. I was even less of a fan of their anthology films…but Rogue One actually changed my mind about that. Out of all the films so far that was the one I imagined I’d hate the most. I mean as far as I was concerned, we really didn’t need to bridge between episode 3 and 4.

I was pleasantly surprised. I mean they still made it super cheesy and I feel like it could have been a lot better but still, pleasantly surprised. My initial thoughts on a Han Solo film are about the same but I’m coming round to the idea. An Obi-Wan Kenobi film is DEFINETLY something I can support. Seeing Ewan McGregor back in the role would allow me to forgive the Star Wars saga for some of its mistakes.

That being said, I heard recently that it might be a prequel. If it’s a prequel and NOT Obi-Wan between episodes 3 and 4 then I’ve lost all faith in the saga. I mean that would just be absolute nonsense. A) Ewan McGregor doesn’t look that young anymore. You can make-up the shit out of him but he was baby-faced in Episode 1. B) As much as I’d love to see Liam Neeson return as Qui-Gon Jinn, I could settle for a force ghost. C) I feel like a prequel of the prequels is just unnecessary. We could get some real character development for Obi-Wan as well as some Vader scenes quite possibly. We could learn more about the rise of the Rebellion and the Empire.

 

You may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned the Star Wars Battlefront games. The truth is, I think they speak for themselves. If a Playstation 2 games from 2004  and 2005 have a higher entertainment value, better storyline and are still played after 13 years then I think that says a enough about EA and their money hungry, soul-sucking company.

 

If you have any comment or questions, be sure to leave them below. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter where I post some of the work I do outside my own blog.

Electric Dreams: Pompous Storytelling in 52 Minutes or Less

In order to fill the hole left behind by Black Mirror, Channel 4 (in the UK) has started airing a TV series called “Electric Dreams”. Following the same format as Black Mirror, each episode is a stand-alone story and in the case of Electric Dreams each episode is based on a short story written by Philip K Dick. For those unfamiliar with the name, you may be familiar with films such as Blade Runner, Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau and TV shows such as The Man in the High Castle which are all based on stories written by him. The purpose of this post is not to critique the work of Philip K Dick as he is undoubtedly a very talented author and an incredibly creative individual. I do however have some issues with these TV adaptions and two episodes in, the likelihood of success for the rest of the series is doubtful.

 

It should be obvious but just in case it wasn’t: there will be spoilers within this post. I can’t say that it will be a great disappointment as anything that can be spoiled was obvious to begin with and where things can’t be spoiled it is because there is nothing to spoil. I’m going to start in the most obvious place: episode 1. The Hoodmaker kickstarts this new series and follows a police detective, agent Ross. Perhaps more recognisable as Robb Stark, Richard Madden does an excellent job as far as I am concerned. In this world, humanity has a clear divide between those who can read minds and those who can’t. What I could only view as a clear parallel to internet privacy (and privacy in all matters technological) the police have started using these telepaths (marked with a birthmark-style discolouration on their skin) in order to better control crime and deal with the rising demonstrations and revolts that seem to be taking place within this city. The public are against a new bill which gives the police the power to use the telepaths during interrogations and to aid in finding criminals due to the fact that the distinction between a criminal and a member of the public seems to be too thin to see. So we follow this agent Ross and his newly allocated telepathic partner as they try to track down someone who has been making hoods which give the wearer the ability to keep their thoughts hidden. Think Magneto’s helmet in X-Men. Ultimately the episode ends with telepaths killing people who stand against their quest to be the ultimate power on Earth. The “twist” (if you can call it that) is that agent Ross has been born with the ability to naturally block telepaths from reading his mind. I can’t say it came as a shock but ultimately his partner has to decide whether to help him escape the room that has just been set on fire or to just let him die. She reads his mind and finds out that he has been racist towards her kind and the episode ends without us knowing whether he was saved or not.

 

My issue with this episode is not the story line itself as I actually did find the concept incredibly interesting. My issue is that they crammed the entire thing into a 52 minute long episode. In that time we are supposed to notice the gradual relationship building up between agent Ross and his partner, something that we don’t really get to see happen over time and instead seem to be somewhat instantaneous. We also don’t get to fully explore the uprising that is taking place out-with the main storyline. All we get are tiny glimpses into an interesting world. Trying to force these stories into hour-long segments is not only ridiculous, it’s impossible. Black Mirror did a much better job in using 90 minutes as the general runtime of their episodes as it allowed for a more in-depth character exploration. This is even more apparent in the second episode.

 

Impossible Planet, the second episode in the series follows inhabitants of a distant planet. We learn early on that Earth was destroyed by a solar flare (I think that’s what it was) and that these planets are basically ran by a franchise of sorts. Long story short, a deaf old woman named Irma and her robot companion RB29 hire two tour guides (slightly above the role of bus tours) to take them to Earth. The two guys, Brian and Ed decide to fake the journey and to take her to a similar sized planet instead. Along the way strange things seem to happen such as Irma telling stories of her grandparents and showing Brian a photo of a man that looks exactly like him standing next to a woman that looks like a younger version of her. These two people are apparatnely Irma’s grandparents. The episode trickles on with the relationship between Irma and Brian growing more peculiar and with RB29 showing anger towards the crew and concern towards Irma. The episode ends with Brian and Irma stepping onto a destructive and poisonous planet (the fake Earth) and ultimately seeming to run out of oxygen and die (while seemingly hallucinating the story that Irma had told about her grandparents swimming naked together).

 

I found this episode to be completely ridiculous. Not only was it facing the exact same issues as the first one (such as lack of time to tell a decent story) but it also leaves the ending far too open. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a show or film that leaves you thinking. Any of you who bothered reading my Westworld post know that I got completely hooked on the tiny details that led to a larger explanation. I more often than not find it completely unsatisfying when a show or film just throws the explanation in your face without making you work for it. So maybe the story in this episode just went completely over my head and if that is the case then I’m happy to admit that. However, I couldn’t see any real solution or explanation for what happened and any ideas I’ve since come up with just feel like I’m grasping at straws:

  1. A) Maybe these two characters live the same lives over and over again. Perhaps they die and are reborn with the same memories buried deep away in their mind somewhere. Brian died long before Irma and she had to find him and lead them down a path that kills them both in order to be reborn again at the same time but she wants him to remember the same way that she remembers.
  2. B) What I think is perhaps a darker theory but also a better and more realistic one is that Brian had already come to terms with the fact that him and his girlfriend wanted different things. His life is grim, he clings onto this hope of advancing through his job even though he realises that he’s going nowhere. You see at the start how little effort and enjoyment goes into his work as a tour guide which I think adds evidence to this fact. When given this opportunity to earn more money, he slowly begins to envy this old woman who has spent the little bit of time she has left just hoping to get one glimpse at the planet her family came from. She knows she’ll be at peace when she sees it and yet he can’t come even close to such a feeling. I think that when Irma shows him the photograph the man doesn’t actually look that much like him but his mind, so desperate to find something to cling to, makes him see himself in that photograph. Irma (either intentionally or not) manipulates Brian into putting everything he has left into her ending and her story. Brian knows all too well that going out onto the planet is suicidal and yet he does it anyway because to provide this woman with this one last wish gives his life some sort of meaning that he just wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Neither of these is a particularly strong case and another explanation would be that there really is no real explanation. Perhaps this is just a love story that shows you that millions of miles of empty space and dying homeworlds isn’t enough to get between true love. That is why I’m not a fan of this episode. There just isn’t enough evidence to go on in order to have a truly interesting storyline. It’s one thing to leave the story a little open to interpretation or to have storylines hidden within other storylines but to have no real storyline and to just leave the creation of the story up to the audience is just lazy.
So I ultimately think that this series is going to fail. It’s been given good ratings so far because people want it to be good and it should have been good. You have a great cast acting out stories by a great author but the lack of time in which to tell the stories is ultimately going to be the downfall of the series. If you’re going to try and make a dark and gritty TV show that makes people shudder but also makes them think then you need more than 52 minutes to be able to do that. These stories take place in worlds very different from our own so you are having to set up literally every part of these world’s from scratch without the entire episode feeling like a setup. Either that or you need an episode that is mostly setup and character development followed by another episode that explores the story. Imagine how much better either of these episodes could have been if there was another whole episode left to explore the story.  I think it is about time that we realise that throwing a big-named cast into a show should not be a guaranteed way to make it a success. Black Mirror did it for their latest season and ultimately that combined with the Hollywoody feel just made the episodes feel less intense and gripping (for the most part). In the first couple of seasons you had a few recognisable faces but ultimately none of the people were likely to sway your decision to watch the show. I’ll put my hand up and admit that when I saw Richard Madden and Bryan Cranston in some of the trailers, it made me want to watch the show. It puts us in this mindset that surely these actors wouldn’t sell out for a TV show with poor writing, right? We then enter into the show with this expectation and ultimately the whole thing can be a bit of a let-down. I’d rather have an amazing storyline with slightly rougher acting than having amazing actors relaying a shit storyline.

 

Lust, Longing and Bouts of Anxiety

“If you meet somebody and your heart pounds, your hands shake, your knees go weak, that’s not the one. When you meet your ‘soul mate’ you’ll feel calm. No anxiety, no agitation.”

– Random quote apparently from a Buddhist

 

Until recently I don’t think I would have appreciated the value of this quote: we see in films people talking about their hearts racing, how they’re so nervous that they’ll make a mistake, that they go weak at the knees when they see someone they “love”. So when we feel these similar emotions we believe that it’s a sign that we’ve met a compatible partner, someone to whom we are physically and emotionally attracted to. For me, the idea of having weak knees, shaking hands and a racing heart sounds a lot more like something negative (my first thought being an anxiety attack) rather than a moment I’d look back on fondly. This is ultimately what I want to talk about today: “love” or at least my own version of it and the effect this has on anxiety (based on my own experience).

 

I always feel a bit hesitant to use the word “love” (never mind discussing it on a blog) because I feel like it has certain connotations that should be positive but are often perceived as negative. I mean you can love a dog, love a family member, love a friend, love all people, a band, a food, a drug, the fact that it’s not raining, sand, you can say you love pretty much everything in the world until you get to someone with whom you are romantically involved with and then it becomes this weight of pressure. It’s almost like using the term “love” is a quicker way of saying that you want to marry someone, have children, spend your retirement gardening together before being buried in the same plot of land that you’ve already purchased…maybe it’s the fact that I hate the idea of doing all those things but I’d like to think that I’m not the only one who sees it that way. As soon as the word love is used I find it creates complications or can cause the same feelings as being stuck in an elevator (when it’s not completely mutual that is). I think that love is tricky to discuss because not only does everyone have their own image of what “it” is but we’ve all experienced it in different ways from different sorts of people and our own experience of it won’t always be positive. Some people fall in love instantly, some never do, some people think they’ve loved only to realise they haven’t and for some it’s the opposite way around. I think love in itself is a combination of emotions which makes it more difficult to pin down because one might feel different emotions when in love than someone else would. I’d say that love is trust, happiness, comfort, lust, etc. Is that all love is though? Love can involve sadness but you’re not sad because you’re in love, you’re sad because you can’t have love. Maybe the person you love is with someone else or maybe they’ve been chosen for the first mission to mars. Anyway, I’m getting off topic here so let me get back on track: how does all of this relate to anxiety and mental health in general?

 

I’ve mentioned previously in a post that I suffer from varying forms of anxiety: I have incredibly debilitating social anxiety (slowly improving) as well as anxiety attacks that can be triggered by certain situations. Physical contact with other people used to be a challenge for me as well but I’ve mostly overcome that now. I’ve been in relationships before where I’ve initially felt anxious but quickly got past it only for my anxiety to still be rather prevailing in any other situation, even when with this person. So it came as quite a shock to me recently when I met someone, a complete stranger, with whom, from the get go I seemed to just feel comfortable. I mean there is always going to be that initial awkwardness of having to use the typical starter questions but once we were past that we got on like a house on fire. The real challenge was meeting friends of this person in social situations that would usually have me sweating and feeling at my most uncomfortable but nope, I felt fine and actually felt confident to a degree. Something about being with this person and knowing that they are there just removes some of the fear. I mean I’m sure a therapist would probably tell me that most of my anxiety stems from a fear of humiliation; I mean I can even think of examples off the top of my head quite easily of when this deep-rooted issue would have been cemented in place. So I guess when you are with a group of people and know that the person there who means the most to you isn’t going to put you down or view anything you say or do as weird, stupid or abnormal then you can just relax and be yourself. Perhaps it is the societal pressures to conform to the norms that lead us into these anxiety-ridden black holes.

 

This change isn’t just limited to situations involving that person though. I started noticing it in other areas of my life: at work I have a supervisor who other than being a racist, homophobic, bigoted alcoholic, caffeine-addicted chain-smoker is also just a bit of a dick. When I first started working there I would put up with it, I’d pretend to laugh at his awful jokes, I’d agree with his narcissistic and ego-inflating statements about his “skills” and my hatred for this man just built up with each day. Along comes this person and without even being aware of it I start taking on the views and opinions of this fossil to the point where he starts saying things like “you need to go back in your shell” and “I’m not liking this side of you”. Areas of work that I used to dread and actually fear became sort of “meh” and I quickly adjusted to them being part of the job. People who I used to avoid talking to I’ve since became quite friendly with simply because I found it easier to talk to them without freaking out about what to say. Most of this took place without me even being aware of it and I believe that it’s down to not only the physical side of being with someone (I don’t mean just the sex, although obviously that does play a major role in altering brain chemistry in such a manner) but also the emotional side. It’s not often that I can spend time with someone and be completely myself. I mean I’m exaggerating a little bit here but it’s certainly true that I usually have to keep some things locked up inside my brain or at least control certain aspects of my personality. SO I guess just being able to release all my built up “me-ness” is therapeutic to such an extent that I am able to relax a bit in other social situations.

 

I am of course not implying that you should be with someone just because they make you feel more confident and comfortable than you usually would but I am saying that for me, this is an incredible feeling to experience and it is certainly a lot more enjoyable than being with someone where you are constantly worried that you might fuck up. I mean isn’t that the dream relationship? I remember it being said pretty well in How I Met Your Mother when the mother (whose death was some of the most ridiculous writing ever and led to the worst ending of any TV series) says that she wants someone who not only tolerates or accepts her quirks but wants somebody who actually enjoys them and encourages them (I’m paraphrasing but it’s something like that). As any of my fellow introverts will know, there comes a time after socialising where you just need to be alone for a little bit to recharge. I can get to the stage pretty quickly given the right situation and often if I can’t recharge my social battery, I struggle to function and ultimately just get a bit irritable. One thing I did notice with this person is that I could spend days with them and I didn’t once think that I needed to leave to be alone. I mean it’s not like we were just in the same room for that time either, we were in each other’s personal space for prolonged periods of time. I remember leaving a party we’d been at and going back to the flat to just relax and that’s exactly what we did: relax. I left for work the next day without feeling even slightly exhausted (at least mentally) and didn’t need to hide in my cave for the next two days to recover from an evening of social interaction.

 

There is another issue that i’d like to mention quickly that i’m sure some, if not all of you have experienced at some stage. Remember when you’ve been attracted to someone and you start messaging them and every time your phone goes off you get a little wave of excitement run through your body then one day you send a text that might be a little risky or might be “make or break” and you get more nervous than you thought possible. Your phone goes off and you don’t even look in case it’s the reply and when it is you can’t even bring yourself to read it because you’re genuinely terrified of what it might say. Know what I’m talking about? Well there is also the opposite of that: where you enjoy chatting to someone but you’ve kind of grown weary of the conversation and when you see they’ve messaged you, you swipe away the notification usually to forget it was even there. I have great news: there is a middle ground and it’s a lot more enjoyable. You might say you like the “thrill” of the first option but I absolutely hate it. I get more stressed with stuff like that than anything else in the world. I nearly got kicked out of university on several occasions because I literally couldn’t open my e-mails out of fear i’d been kicked out…ironically enough the fear of being kicked out was the real cause of me nearly getting kicked out…anyway, back to the point: the middle ground is getting the thrill of that person messaging you but also not feeling like you need to respond straight away. You can send somewhat risky messages but still not feel like the Earth would be doing you a favour by opening below you and swallowing you up. This was just a minor point I wanted to add that doesn’t really have any relevance but still seemed worth a mention.

 

Anyway, this is a different sort of post from what I’d usually write about but what can I say? My brain took me in this direction today and I’ve just sort of let it type until it feels like it’s got it at all out. As usual, if you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to ask. I love responding to any queries and comments and knowing that at least one person reads a post of mine and enjoys it or takes something away from it just makes it worthwhile.

 

 

 

Journey into the Unknown!

For anyone who reads my posts regularly (which may be nobody) you’ll be aware that while my posts are usually rants (hence the name of my blog) that convey my opinion on some trivial matter such as a film or game series, I tend not to reflect on my own personal life.

Today I have decided to go out-with my usual post-type and share with you some insights into my mind and current life plans. Usually I try to introduce the topics I plan to cover but this is mostly going to be off the top of my head as I’m writing so we’ll just see how it goes.

 

I’m mostly going to discuss a trip I’m about to take but I feel like in order for you to understand my concerns and fears I need to invite you inside my little bubble of a life just to highlight how far outside my comfort zone I’m about to go. These pieces of information may seem rather random right now but I swear it makes sense in relation to this post. Let me briefly describe to you why I never really go out and experience life to the fullest:

For starters I have awful social anxiety…I’m not even sure if it’s limited to social situations, maybe I just have anxiety in general, but certainly a key component of it is social. It can sometimes takes me months before I feel comfortable talking to someone in a normal capacity so typical day-to-day situations tend to involve me going out of my way to avoid social interaction with strangers.

For a very long time I was unable to get a job because most jobs involved social interaction and the thought alone made me feel ill. I started having anxiety attacks in exams which soon spread to other situations (to be fair, I was at uni at the time and most of these situations also involved me being hungover so I think it was my mind associating feeling nauseous with certain situations). Suffice to say that several times while at the cinema I would spend most of the film trying to convince myself that I didn’t need to get up and leave which as a movie lover (possibly addict) was incredibly disappointing. I have improved a fair bit but perhaps that’s a discussion for another time. On top of my social issues, I am also one of the fussiest eaters you will ever meet. For as long as I can remember I haven’t eaten any fruit or vegetables which as you can imagine, limits my diet quite a bit. It’s not like I eat everything else either, I basically have the diet of a 15 year old that has been left to fend for himself.

To add to my already limiting characteristics I also have a phobia of spiders but not just your run of the mill phobia, oh no, I am absolutely scared to death of the little bastards. Let’s just say that I’ve fallen out of a lot of trees as a result of this highly irrational fear. You can therefore assume that I will not be visiting Australia any time soon (in fact Antarctica is looking all the more promising). I do understand that Australia really isn’t that far from Thailand and that I’m most likely walking into the real world equivalent of the Forbidden Forrest with its nest of extremely large spiders.

Again, I have somewhat improved on this over the last few years but if a spider is bigger than a thumbnail (for example) then chances are I won’t be able to deal with it unless it’s on the floor and I can drop a very heavy book on it. So this should hopefully paint a fairly clear picture as to why I have the time to sit at home writing blog posts about Star Wars, Assassins Creed, drug laws etc…now let me share with you how I’m about to be catapulted out of my comfort zone.

I’ve been working for the last 6 months and recently realised how badly I need a holiday. As someone who lives in Scotland, I’ve never ventured outside of Europe and even my trips out of the UK have been to areas where the lifestyle is pretty much the same e.g. Italy, Rome or Spain. My initial thought was Egypt because out of everywhere in the world, that is where I want to visit the most. I had looked at flights and hotels but quite quickly came to the conclusion that if I went to Egypt alone I just wouldn’t experience everything there was on offer.

I’d go look at stuff but not really immerse myself in the culture. Luckily, a friend of mine was planning a holiday to Thailand and some of the surrounding countries. I’d personally never even considered visiting anywhere near there for a whole host of reasons (primarily the spider issue) but when given the options of going there for three weeks or waiting months, taking time off work and ultimately going nowhere and doing nothing with my time, I felt that the first option was the one that would be most beneficial. So I handed in a holiday form, it just got approved yesterday and my flights are booked to head out on my adventure.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered not going at least 15 times today alone but you have to understand that I get cold feet with every single decision I make. Committing to any sort of party, event, holiday, anything will be followed by my brain giving me a list of reasons why not going could be the better option. Obviously the biggest ones that come to mind are things like giant spiders (or even just small spiders…really any spiders at all), the language barrier (but even just the social aspect with or without there being a language barrier), and of course the food. I’ve read that places like Bangkok are incredibly sociable cities and that the nightlife is amazing but I can’t imagine that being the case for someone who struggles to start and hold a conversation.

So why am I going? I feel such a trip could be make or break: No matter what, I’m going to be forced out my comfort zone so it’ll either push me to evolve or it will snap my psyche and leave me in the foetal position on a foreign continent. One of the biggest comforts (which is also somehow one of the fears) is that I’ll be just under 6,000 miles away from home. I’m going to feel like Sam and Frodo leaving the Shire. Strangely enough, one of the best ways for me to motivate myself in any situation is to relate it to a game or a film.

I guess it’s sort of my coping mechanism that also acts as an incentive. Different games/films make me want to do different things, for example: Far Cry 3 makes me want to try skydiving or get a tattoo or explore new cultures; 127 hours makes me want to explore and climb, to find adventure where I can, even if I’m doing it alone; Warrior makes me want to go to the gym…you get the idea. We will of course ignore the fact that the first two exams have pretty horrific outcomes for those involved and should really be adverts against exploring rather than what I use them for. So in order to prepare myself for this “adventure” I have started playing Far Cry 3 again (which happens to take place on an island in the area I’m visiting, although whether it is based on a real island or not is beyond my knowledge).

So why am I writing this post? I guess the same reason that people talk about their problems: it’s therapeutic. If I share my fears with random strangers on the internet then in a sense I’ve acknowledged that these fears are indeed real but that they shouldn’t hold me back from enjoying life. I mean we only get one, right? So what if a giant, face-eating spider jumps out of a tree and proceeds to chase me down the road…I should just look at it as life experience or inspiration for my book.

I mean if I stay trapped inside the boring little town where going to the pub to watch football is the highlight of everyone’s week then how am I ever going to look back on my life with fondness? Another way of looking at it: what if the Animus from Assassin’s Creed becomes a real piece of technology and someone tries to look back on my life (not that I plan on having children but that’s not the point). All they would see is me sitting at home watching films or reading. Would I rather they see that or would I rather they watched as I walk with elephants or visit ancient temples?

If I survive and make it back to bonnie Scotland then I’ll be sure to update this or write a new post which shares me experiences. If this is my last post then just assume that I died either by being killed by a spider or trying to escape one!

Ghostbusters (2016): The Other Side

So after the complete hate and negativity the female led Ghostbusters trailer received a little while back, I wrote and shared my opinions regarding my expectations for the film and ultimately why I thought it was going to fail. This isn’t in any way a unique train of thought, neither was it some of one-in-a-million prophecy that just happened to come true. I think most of us knew that for whatever reason the Ghostbusters film of 2016 was doomed to fail. Now that the film has become available online I decided to give it a watch, putting aside my presumptuous hate, my knowledge that it had 5.5 on IMDB and lost $70 million in the box office. Here’s what I thought:

While I did go in with an open mind, I have to say that it didn’t take long for the film to annoy me enough that I started taking notes on my phone of exactly why it wasn’t an enjoyable film. What I found interesting was that on the run-up to this film being released when it initially received its first batch of hate; it suddenly became sexist to say that the film was going to suck. If you thought it looked shit you were automatically branded a women hating pig who thinks that they shouldn’t have the right to vote and only belong in the kitchen. Yet here we have a film that spends its entire two hours going out its way to try and make females seem superior to males. This is where I began taking notes. You see the film opens up with a male tour guide showing guests around some hotel. He gets chased by a ghost, screams and cries and as we learn later, he soils himself. Of course the ghost that does all this to him is a female. We then basically get introduced to three of the four “Ghostbusters” and are told how brilliant they are: Two of them have already published a book on ghosts and both now work at different universities (one is a particle physics professor while the other is some sort of supernatural scientist but still shown as being very intelligent). We then meet the third member who, and I quote, “she’s a brilliant engineer and very loyal, she would not abandon you. She also happens to specialise in experimental particle physics.”  We then meet our 3rd male character of the film. This character we encounter admits that he screams in a disturbing way and basically refuses to go back into the hotel. It isn’t long before we are introduced to the soon to be receptionist for the team: Chris Hemsworth’s character: Kevin. Kevin is literally the most moronic character in this entire film. He covers his eyes when he hears a loud noise, he took his glasses lenses out because they kept getting dirty, he doesn’t know how to use a phone, he doesn’t know how to be a receptionist, he called his dog Mike Hat (which sounds like my cat)…he’s an idiot and the whole team know it.

We are then subjected to a wide array of disturbing vagina, boob and dick jokes for all the 13 year olds who were watching this film. Not to mention that Melissa McCarthy as per usual talks about food for far too long in this film. I can’t help but think about a recent episode of South Park where Cartman gives a talk in front of his school about how women are funny and it’s time we accept it. He tries to had the microphone to various female characters, telling them to say something funny. When they don’t seem to have anything funny to say, he begins telling them “go on, talk about your vagina. Be funny!” When you have female comedians such as Amy “joke-stealer” Schumer who basically only talk about sex and their vaginas, you can’t help but see Cartman as having a point, especially in relation to this recent Ghostbusters film. Just to clarify: I’m completely for female comedians and find plenty of them funny. It’s just that these women in particular were not at all funny and actually just made me cringe for the length of the film. What does it say that during a female-led comedy film, the only times I laughed was because if male characters? Ozzy Osbourne’s random appearance where he thinks he’s having flashbacks was one of the few moments I actually enjoyed because it wasn’t a dick/vagina joke or a reference to Mellissa McCarthy eating. I mean sure, there is the famous moment from the original Ghostbusters where the sentence “Yes it’s true, this man has no dick” but I think we can all agree that it’s a step above someone talking about getting slime “in every crack”.

I’m going to conclude this post (yes it is drastically shorter than usual) simply by highlighting the overall issue with this film: This film isn’t a loveable throwback to the original Ghostbusters nor is it a original film. It is instead a man-hating abomination of nostalgia and special effects trying to convince us that female led films can be just as funny as their male counterparts. I think for me, I can sum up how I felt watching the film by explaining how it ended. After some ridiculous fight and blah blah blah, the Ghostbusters eventually defeat villain by hitting him in the balls. Yup, the female-led team literally saves the day by hitting someone in the balls. If that doesn’t drive the point home for you then I don’t know what will.

 

The Flash: A Representation of Dumbed-Down Television

Anyone else noticing that TV shows (as well as films) seem to be becoming more and more dumbed down in order to appeal to a larger audience? This can take place in many ways, whether it’s the shows characters doing something ridiculous to advance the story or revealing something about themselves that only the slower audience members won’t have noticed or even worse, things actually not making sense in the shows storyline. I recently binge-watched two seasons of The Flash which is what sparked this post so I’m going to use that as my point of reference as it highlights most of the issues I plan on mentioning.

 

I had never seen anything to do with The Flash before. If there are Flash films I haven’t seen them, if there are games then I haven’t played them and while I know there are comics, I haven’t read them. I only began watching the show because I’d been led to believe that it had interesting twists and turns and a generally cool storyline. While I did find myself ultimately hooked on the show, it wasn’t out of intrigue or curiosity as much as it was out of hate and disbelief. I’ll admit that it’s certainly an entertaining show (as much as it pains me to say it) but there are some very clear issues with the show that apply to many, many others like it.

One of the biggest issues is the number of episodes per season which in the case of The Flash is something like 22 or 23. Don’t get me wrong, some shows have a lot of episodes and manage it perfectly fine but others fall into a horrible pit where we notice a formula being used that causes each episode to mirror the one before it with only minor differences. This isn’t the case for every single episode but I found it went something like this:

-the audience is shown a new meta-human doing something at the time of the particle collider explosion;

-Barry and his team/family discuss some problem that they are having;

-the meta-human shows up and causes trouble;

-some member of the team (usually Barry) thinks they have the solution;

-they don’t and they fail;

-ultimately some important lesson about family or teamwork or patience or whatever is learnt and this is used to defeat the meta-human.

We get this for about 40 minutes and then in the last minute or so, some mysterious event happens that adds to the overall storyline in some way that is meant to be like a cliff-hanger but usually isn’t. Essentially, 80% of the show is filler material and 20% is unique storyline. Don’t get me wrong, some of the filler stuff is hilarious and interesting but you can only watch the same thing happen so many times before it becomes boring. The Flash isn’t the only show I’ve watched where this has happened: Take Elementary for example, a show I should have enjoyed a lot more than I did. Elementary also uses this technique in order to add more episodes to each season. This is all well and good but eventually you just become bored of it. Some other examples of this would include Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, Marvels Agents of Shield (specifically the first season) and Lie to me, which are all shows that I thoroughly enjoyed but even they had points where it just wasn’t that interesting and ultimately the success formula acts as a negative aspect of the show. Lie to Me didn’t even have any huge, overall storyline but it still became very formulated. Even The Walking Dead has started to drag its heels in terms of new story arcs. I mean Lost has plenty of episodes and (despite the fact that it ultimately ended up being wildly disappointing) managed to keep each episode unique and interesting. Sure, it may not always have made sense and caused us to have more questions than answers but if a bunch of plane crash survivors on an island can remain interesting, shouldn’t that also be the case with superheroes/villains? I find that for many shows, especially ones of this nature where the storyline should be the focus; less is more. Take Game of Thrones for example, we get 10 episodes a year…TEN! Ignoring season 6 which in my opinion has also become a tad too predictable and has certainly been dumbed down to appeal to a wider audience, I’ve found myself constantly wanting more of the show. I only started watching it last year and I binged 4 and a half seasons in less than a week and still wanted more. Since then I’ve watched the first 5 seasons all over again, as well as the 6th. Breaking Bad is another good example. The number of episodes per season varied a lot (8-16) but the show managed to keep me entertained for almost the entire time. Breaking Bad is another one I’ve managed to watch twice without feeling like the same thing is happening over and over in each episode. What about True Detective or Sherlock? Both incredible shows (perhaps ignoring the 2nd season of True Detective) and yet they have very few episodes per season. I mean Sherlock only has three episodes…just three. So of course the number of episodes can vary depending on the show and the content. I mean take House for example: House has many episodes per season, it’s basically the same thing every episode and yet it is entertaining to watch because it isn’t the storyline that is important quite as much as the characters. I mean this works with a lot of shows: Friends, Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, House…all of which are similar from episode to episode yet remain entertaining. That’s because while they may have an overall storyline, it’s the content of each episode that is important.

 

As I mentioned before, the general “dumbing-down” of TV shows is definitely an issue that is becoming more and more prevalent. We, the audience, are being spoon-fed every singly detail so that we don’t miss it. Why? Well because if some, if not all of the viewers can’t understand what’s going on or miss details that are vital to the story then they may give up watching out of frustration. I’ll once again refer back to The Flash here as I have a few examples in mind. As I mentioned at the start, I’d never seen or read anything Flash-related. So why is it that after watching episode one (spoilers ahead) where we see Barry’s mum being murdered, I could instantly tell you that The Flash would get his powers and end up travelling through time to that night? It was pretty obvious, right? Yet it isn’t until episode 15 through some far-fetched (even by this shows standards) scientific bullshit that blood is found at the scene 15 years after the event that proves older Barry was there as well as young Barry. Bad example? How about how obvious it was that “Atom-smasher” from the start of season 2 was from another universe? I mean it was incredibly obvious. I have an even better example: There is an episode in season 2 where the Trickster (played by Mark Hamill) dressed up as Santa and gives out presents to children. Just in case anyone hadn’t been paying attention, the Trickster conveniently pulls down his fake beard to reveal who he is. Not to insult anyone but if it took up until that reveal for you to realise it was the Trickster then I’m afraid you are part of the problem that I’m referring to in this post.

 

Then of course we have issues that take place within the show itself. So just to carry on with my Flash critique, I shall use a few examples from it to show you what I mean. In The Flash, there are often lessons that Barry learns that are ultimately meant to guide him down his path towards being the best hero he can be. One of the biggest of these is messing with time. In season 1, Barry goes back in time and alters events, soon learning how dangerous the butterfly effect can be. I won’t get into the specifics but despite how risky time travel is, he goes back not once, not twice but three times (that I’m aware of). One of these times he goes back with the intention of saving his mother’s life but decides not to, then he goes back to learn how to run faster and despite the fact that he gets chased by these time-ghoul things that hunt those who mess with time, he goes back again at the end of the 2nd season and actually does save his mother. This final journey back in time is as a result of his father being killed by Zoom who is from another universe. So just to reiterate my point here: despite Barry knowing how risky time travel is and how much can be changed, and despite Barry knowing that crazy time-wraith creatures are likely to hunt him down for changing too much, he decides to go back 16 or so years to change several events that took place: he saves his mother which in turn stops his father going to jail while also stopping the reverse-flash…why is this an issue? Well ignoring how much can change, there are several more logical options that could have been explored. I mean Barry could have gone back and saved his father or gone back before the portal to Earth 2 was opened, both of which would result in less change. Oh, and just to top all this off, this all takes place after Barry reaches inner-peace about his mother’s death, like literally a few episodes before!! I probably haven’t explained this in the simplest of ways but hopefully you get my point. I mean not only is this show completely illogical but it also fails at keeping characters consistent. Barry (or any of the other characters) can have a completely new personality or outlook on life from one episode to the next. One minute Barry is willing to do anything to get his powers back because Zoom has taken one of his best friends…but as soon as he is presented with an option he has to decline it and bring his dad in to help which ultimately leads to his death (another moment where Barry could have gone back and altered things to save his father without completely messing up the timeline). The whole point in having these characters behave a certain way is to give them a personality. You should be able to watch a show and when a character acts a certain way think to yourself “Ahh, that’s exactly the sort of thing he/she would do” but with the Flash, we go from one sort of behaviour to the other with no real explanation.

 

Don’t get me wrong, there are some excellent shows out there that ignore this ridiculously formulated structure (The Leftovers, Sherlock, Black Mirror, Mr Robot…to name a few) but are we losing a large portion of our entertainment to dumbed-down devolutions? I certainly think we are headed in the direction of just having superheroes appear, save the day and then return to their lair with no real storyline or character development whatsoever. As for The Flash? Well, I guess when season 3 airs I’ll have to decide if it’s worth me angrily watching it just in the hopes of finding a more interesting storyline. My only hope is that shows such as Game of Thrones pull themselves back from the edge of the abyss before we lose them to generic television forever. How long before we have an entire episode dedicated to Jon Snow’s morning hair routine? Probably a bad example because that could potentially be entertaining to see…but you get my point. Given that the Flash can time travel (among other crazy abilities) you would imagine that the story writing could be a tad less predictable or even just a wee bit more interesting. Perhaps we simply expect the unexpected and nothing comes as a shock anymore.

If you disagree and believe that I’m being unfair to the shows I’ve mentioned then by all means leave your opinion below. I’d love to hear whether it’s just me that thinks this.

Drugs: A Logical Step Towards Legalisation

I’ve written a few posts on this blog relating to drugs and my opinions on them and for those who have read them before, you’ll know that I stand very much on the side of legalisation. Very little infuriates me quite as much as being categorised as some gutter-living criminal just because I think drugs have many potential benefits (physically, mentally and spiritually) while these same people binge cheap alcohol and smoke cancer sticks while practically injecting high concentrations of Starbucks coffee directly into their heart. That being said, this post is not meant as a rant (although there certainly will be some of that) but more as a proposal or suggestion that looks at reasons why I believe drugs should be legal as well as a potential solution to get this ball rolling. This post is NOT like my other ones where I heavily reference statistics, peer-reviewed scientific papers or books. Instead, this post is nothing more than opinions and ideas which should hopefully make it a bit more interesting to read than my essay versions.

 

So let me start off by admitting several things in order to remove any presumptions that you may have already. First of all, I am fully aware that many drugs are harmful, addictive, destroy lives, drive people insane etc. If you think harming people physically is enough to make a drug illegal then why are cigarettes still legal? If you think any drug that can impact you mentally should be illegal then why is alcohol legal? The reason I HATE these drugs is because they act as a reminder of how hypocritical our society truly is. One day we’ll look back in sheer disbelief at the fact that our species used to poison itself for entertainment and out of boredom; that we ignored figures, statistics and evidence because taxable products are more important and that nature itself was branded illegal. I mean nobody drinks alcohol or smokes tobacco for their physical or mental health other than to end the addictive cravings that they may have. Following on from that, the drugs that I’m mainly going to be referring to here include weed, MDMA (including its various forms such as ecstasy), LSD, magic mushrooms (specifically psilocybin), DMT and Ayahusca. You may have noticed a pattern or two forming in terms of my drug choice and we’ll get to that later.

 

So why do I take drugs? At this point, that would be a very fair question…but first let me ask you one: why do you (or people you know) drink or smoke? In my experience people might drink for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they are bored and need a source of entertainment, it’s someone’s birthday and that’s how we celebrate, it’s Christmas and that’s how we celebrate, it’s New Year’s Eve and that’s how we celebrate, it’s sunny and that’s how we celebrate, it’s a social norm and therefore if most people are doing it then the rest of us feel out of place and in many cases are even belittled for choosing not to poison ourselves. Want to know what that sounds like to me? Peer pressure. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some incredibly fun and entertaining times with alcohol but I’m using it as my example here simply because it is legal while still being a psychoactive substance. I view alcohol as like a stepping stone that allowed me to turn off my brain to interact with people in a manner that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Now I barely drink because that feeling of losing control or becoming someone that isn’t me is just no longer fun. I often hear people making claims such as “everyone is more truthful when they are drunk” but I find this not only to be moronic but also completely wrong. I mean alcohol can turn you into any sort of person depending on a wide variety of variables. I’ve seen lovely people become angry, bitter and violent just as many times as I’ve seen the opposite event take place. I’ve seen shy people become confident and confident people become Gods (at least in their eyes). I mean alcohol after a certain amount changes who you appear to be, it changes this outer version of you to anyone who is there to witness it. Why is “sorry, I was drunk” now an acceptable excuse for most acts that would otherwise not be so easily forgiven? I’m going off topic here…the point is that you have to keep in mind that alcohol is still a psychoactive substance and it alters the way you think, sometimes drastically. I mean alcohol accounts for most of the violent crime in Scotland (at least in 2011/2012) and nearly half of violent crimes in England and Wales during the same time period. In many cases it removes the need to think all together and turns your evening into nothing but darkness that leaves you waking up the next day with questions that you don’t entirely want to know the answers to. So why do I take drugs? (To get back to the point I was trying to make) Well, in some cases I take them for the same reason as anyone else drinks…I’m bored. For the most part this is only true of weed with the exception of one summer when I’d first accepted the thrills of ecstasy and went a bit crazy…but I view it as a learning curve. Since then weed is the only drug that I’ll take simply because I can. The reason I take any other drug now is for a purpose. For example, the ideas for many of my posts have come to me while smoking weed. I have somewhere between 10 and 20 posts on this blog (I believe). These are only half of what I’ve written which is only a fraction of the ideas that I’ve originally come up with. The notes pad on my phone is full of folders and pages relating to film theories or rants or just random ideas. MDMA can be used to improve a typical night out but it can also be used for exploration of your own mind and consciousness. Taking some MDMA and meditating is incredibly peaceful and spiritual and you can often find yourself in areas of thought you’d never even have imagined. I won’t go through all the drugs I mentioned one by one but ultimately what I think it boils down to is this: Why do I take drugs? I take drugs because in many cases they provide an experience that may not be possible to have otherwise. I think that when used correctly, drugs can make us see ourselves, others, the world or even the entire universe in a whole new light. I take drugs because I’ll never be an astronaut or a sailor, I’ll never be the first person to reach the top of a mountain or plant my flag onto undiscovered land. Yet my need for exploration drums away in my mind as a reminder that there are places that literally nobody else has explored: the deep, dark pits of my consciousness.

 

 

So what is my idea? Well, I agree with the claim that the war on drugs has failed spectacularly. Isn’t it funny that the anti-drug campaigners appear to be the paranoid and delusional ones of us all? At the end of the day, people are always going to find a way to take the drugs they want to take. We saw it with the prohibition when moonshine and other such spirits became available to those who felt their freedoms and rights had been taken from them unfairly. Same thing happens now with other drugs. The issue is that most people realise early on that all those anti-drug campaigns the schools run are bullshit and that when the police and your educators are lying or misleading you that something is up. It dawned upon me that legalisation of drugs might not happen in my life time. Even the legalisation of weed is looking more and more doubtful. The issue, however, is not the drugs themselves, but the education of said drugs and the reasons why people take them. I mean anything can be dangerous depending on whose possession it is in. A hammer can be used to build but it can also be used to bludgeon someone’s skull until their brain leaks out. People use cars every day and yet at any given moment someone could drive one metre to the left and hit 10, 20 or 30 people with a speeding, metal death machine. Maybe we just need to look at drugs for what they truly are and stop viewing them as either holy, lifesaving plants or tricks by Satan that lead to an eternity of suffering. Drugs can be positive and negative. So why not educate people in such a manner that as an adult they can choose whether to take them or not? I mean I can choose to eat McDonalds for the rest of my life or smoke until I can’t breathe or drink until my organs fail. How much money would be saved if after a certain number of hospital visits for binge eating food, drowning your sorrows with alcohol or smoking like a chimney the police got involved and made it actually illegal for you to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes or eat shitty food? I guarantee that these people wouldn’t be labelled criminals. They would be seen as sick individuals who required help. That doesn’t mean that nobody else should be able to go buy a happy meal just because some people have never heard the term “moderation”. I mean if our health is really the main issue then what’s the deal with all these other areas that cause such suffering and death? When you see the statistics for alcohol-related deaths, it’s actually insane! I seriously advise you to go and look for yourself. (There is a link to some of these on my weed legalisation post but you may find more recent statistics through ONS). What if drugs were legal but similar to a gun or a car, you needed a pass or licence in order to legally use them? And that, ladies and gentlemen, leads us onto what would be involved in gaining access to this pass.

 

In order to be granted access to drugs, I think it would be important to view the risks. With some drugs there is a risk of addiction. I mean if we allow people to use meth then we run the risk of them becoming addicted to a highly destructive drug. So how do we show people the effects of drugs? Well, we arrange talks or interviews with people who have taken them. I mean how many people would come forth and claim their lives had been destroyed by weed? Not many I’d imagine. Would every single person who has taken DMT be lining up to scream “BEWARE!” at all those would-be trippers? I doubt it. Like any form of education, I think the first step would be attending a lecture or seminar which would look at the specific drug(s) you planned to take. It would run through some basic information such as what the drug was, how it affected you, how it’s taken, etc. It would of course also explain some of the risks but not in a “YOU TAKE THIS, YOU DIE!” sort of way but more in an err on the side of caution manner. For example, with MDMA it would be explained that your body could overheat causing your brain to swell up…BUT that by drinking water throughout the night in small doses you can help to keep your body hydrated. These lectures would also discuss what situations are best for certain drugs. I mean you’re probably not going to take DMT with a large group of people but you might smoke a joint in one. Ultimately you would then be tested in some form to see if you were aware of basic safety measures to take and understand the risks. These tests would also attempt to understand why you want to take the drug. Perhaps you have to submit an essay of some form explaining your reasoning and motivations. This way, we rule out anyone taking them just for the sake of it or out of boredom or because they are being forced to. I mean sure, drugs would still be available in the same manner that they are today but I know plenty of people who don’t take drugs now but would if they could do so legally. By creating this hurdle or wall that would have to be passed, you would immediately exclude a large number of people who perhaps shouldn’t be taking drugs in the first place. Of course the important aspect of this process would be that it wouldn’t be controlled or monitored by solely anti-drug people but rather by those who see the dangers of drugs but also acknowledge that they have potentially beneficial uses as well. I mean if you had the current government in charge of such a process then nobody would get one of these passes/licenses and the entire endeavour would be pointless. Similarly, for the process to have any validity, we couldn’t just be handing passes out to everyone (although that would essentially be the end goal).
I think the best way to look at it is like this: people who want to take drugs are going to take drugs, regardless of the law or potential consequences of being caught with an illegal substance and more often than not they will do so either unaware of the dangers or just ignore them completely. Is it not a much smarter solution to educate any would-be drug users so that they can decide whether they still want to participate in such activities after being given all the necessary information but also so that if they do take drugs, they are better equipped to do so safely? I mean the dangers of alcohol are known but people still go to schools to explain how to drink alcohol as safely as possible and what precautions can be taken to reduce risk. I mean you can’t buy a packet of cigarettes without seeing photos of black lungs or throat cancer, yet you still have the right to smoke them. Not only would education serve a tremendously beneficial purpose but alongside it, we could have the same organisation supplying drugs that have been tested and are as safe as can possibly be. These would be taxable and as we have seen from areas where weed is not legal, this taxable income is incredibly beneficial for the whole society. We already have many communities set up to offer such guidance because the drug-taking community isn’t a grim, dark place where dreams go to die. For example, Pill Report supplies user-reviews of ecstasy pills and gives other information such as strength, effects, what ingredients are included, not to mention whether there are any warnings for a certain pill. Leafly, a site for weed, supplies information on different strains and includes information such as the levels of paranoia or dry mouth you are likely to experience from smoking it or whether you are likely to get the giggles.

 

Of course this would only be the first step. Legalisation (or semi-legalisation) would be the beginning of a new era of human spirituality. Imagine what it would be like if you could go to a nearby city within the Western world and stay at an ayahuasca retreat for 10 days. People who regularly go on ayahausca trips have higher levels of serotonin than the average person. Basically, they are producing more happiness neurotransmitters than the rest of us. If some huge pharmaceutical company created the exact same benefit with a pill, it would be seen as revolutionary and ground breaking but because it’s ancient and involves hallucinations, it’s immediately ruled out as dangerous and negative.

 

I believe that as an adult, I have the right to choose what I do with not only my body but also my mind. Nobody stops me from getting tattoos or piercings that I could come to regret in later life. I can risk my life in the army from the age of 16 where my legs could be blown clean off or I could return with PTSD that makes my life unbearable. I mean did you know that more US soldiers have killed themselves than have died fighting in Iraq? Something like 22 veterans commit suicide every single day! Yet that trauma is seen as more acceptable than enjoying what nature created? Even then, MDMA has been shown to be hugely beneficial alongside therapy for soldiers suffering from PTSD and even they can’t use it. So you’re literally telling me that our governments view it as acceptable to enter a warzone where you could die at any moment, where your morality is tested and your faith in humanity destroyed, where you might see your friends be blown to pieces and even injured in such a way yourself…but that a drug that could potentially help you cope or recover from that very same conflict is too dangerous for you? In some countries you can get less time in jail for violently attacking someone than you would for being caught with weed. So a victimless crime is now as bad, if not worse than assaulting some stranger? If I can choose to go to war or choose to get so drunk that I fight my friends or choose to smoke 43 packets of cigarettes a day, then should I not have the same choices for drugs that can actually positively influence not only my life but the life of those around me? Isn’t happiness the main goal for every single thing we do in this life?

 

So there you have it! My idea for how we can best tackle the current drug dilemma that is facing our countries. Education, education, and education are the main components for how to reduce drug-related deaths and as a way of encouraging potential drug-users to take their drug of choice for the right reasons. Of course in our current political climate, it is unlikely that anything of this nature would ever make it through the doors of parliament but it’s a nice thought all the same. Until then, I guess we’ll have no choice but to jump on the bandwagon and make our way to the nearest watering hole in order to overindulge in alcohol for the third time in one week. As always, I love reading any feedback or comments!

God: Everything You’ve Ever Wished For?

So I was discussing the similarities between certain drug trips and early descriptions of God-encounters in the bible when I somehow ended up on this train of thought: How would you know that anything in the bible was the work of God and not the work of the devil? As I have mentioned before in one of my posts, I’m not remotely religious. In fact I often describe myself as being an anti-theist. That being said, this post isn’t meant to reflect any personal dispute I have with religion. For as much as I utterly despise religion, I do thoroughly enjoy talking about it as well as looking at all the different points of view.

Now, even though I’ve heard the stories in the bible many times and read a large portion of it myself I’m certainly no expert so if you see an error or a misunderstanding, please point it out to me. It seems the obvious place to start this post is with the main man himself: the devil.

My understanding of the devil is that he just wants chaos. He wants God to fail by luring as many of his creations to the “dark side” through temptation and lies and other devilish things. To give some examples that the internet quite helpfully supplied me with: He casts doubt on God’s goodness (Genesis 3:1-5), He distorts and prevents effective Gospel message (Acts 13:8-9), He uses the fear of death to hold men in bondage (Hebrews 2:15), He suggests ways that don’t involve suffering (Mt. 16:23; Mt. 4:1-11), He imitates signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9; Mk. 13:22), brings persecution (Rev. 2:9; 1 Pt. 5:8; Lk. 22:31), dissension over doctrine and causes rifts (Rom. 16:17-20) and finally, he imitates religious roles (2 Cor. 11:14-15; Mt.13:28,30; Rev. 2:9). According to the bible, these are some methods the Devil uses to trick us into following the wrong path. You may be wondering to yourself why the devil (if he is responsible for certain parts, if not all of the bible) would tell us the tricks he himself uses? He is the Father of lies (John 8:44). The Devil apparently only uses the truth when it would add to his deception. What better way to remain undetected than to throw all his cards on the table and carry out the biggest bluff in history? As the famous quote goes “…the Devil doesn’t come dressed in a red cape with pointy horns. He comes as everything you’ve ever wished for…” Many view this God as being all-loving, all-powerful and willing to forgive any sin (apart from one), tell me that isn’t what a lot of people wish for…

I am going to take some time to look at a few prime examples of stories from the bible that reflect this potential truth about the devil (and when I say truth, as a non-believer I mean within this completely hypothetical scenario). First I want to take one of the points I raised earlier regarding the devil: it is said that he likes to cause dissension over doctrine and cause rifts (Rom.16:17-20). There are estimated to be around 33,000 denominations of Christianity (or if we want to be generous, 6 major groups e.g. Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants etc). One of the many flaws of Christianity (or any religion) is the differing number of viewpoints. If this faith was supposed to be guided by God then there shouldn’t be this much disagreement over issues such as suicide sending you straight to hell or the existence of purgatory. These things should have been made clearer because an all-knowing God who exists out-with our view of time would know that these rifts would be created leading to a less unified religion which is ultimately becoming weaker and weaker within Western societies. This is of course ignoring all the other religions that have existed, currently exist and will exist which is a conversation for another time because that opens up a whole other can of worms. Let’s imagine for a moment that the devil wants to divide humanity up in terms of belief so that there is more dispute, violence, hate, questioning of faith etc. What better way to do that than by creating these rifts? Before I carry on to my more literal views of the bible, do you know how the church used to (and in some areas of the world still does) view people suffering from schizophrenia? The church viewed these people as possessed by demons as a result of their sins. The mental illness was viewed as the work of the devil and was often treated with exorcisms and an encouragement to pray or repent one’s sins. Before we began to fully understand mental illness, schizophrenia (as one example) was seen as a sickness of the soul rather than a sickness of the mind. Often these people were locked up in horrendous conditions and left to die. What is it that led to this I wonder? For those of you unaware, schizophrenia has two major symptom groups: negative symptoms (which tend to be forgotten about but include things like a lack of emotions or an inability to make eye contact: basically things that make day to day living more difficult) and positive symptoms which includes hallucinations, delusions and disorganised thinking. You may be wondering why I mention this but the idea of hallucinations and delusions being the work of the devil himself or of his demons will be relevant later on.

The first bible character I’m going to take a look at is Moses. Probably most famous for freeing the slaves of Egypt (mainly thanks to the 1998 film The Prince of Egypt, at least from my experience) he is less well known for being outraged at his generals for allowing all the enemy women to live, before turning his attention to the children and saying “Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” (Numbers 31:17-18). Now we could speculate all day about what Moses and his generals had planned for the virgins they were allowed to keep for themselves, it isn’t hugely relevant to the point I shall be making momentarily. Moses first encountered God in the form of a burning bush: “There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up”. Now to me this just screams “devil”. I mean if there is one thing we associate with hell: it’s fire. Out of all the ways God could have chosen to communicate with Moses, he decides to appear in fire itself in a bush that is burning but not being burnt. We know that the devil wants to manipulate mankind to turn their backs on God. This can be seen as early as the Garden of Eden when the snake (A.K.A Satan) is introduced as “more cunning than any of the creatures of the field that the Lord God had made” (Genesis 3:1). So this cunning creature or being has already by this stage caused the suffering of man-kind by convincing Adam and Eve to go against the word of God by eating from the tree of knowledge. Does it really take a stretch of the imagination to think he could do the same to a Shepard in the desert? I wouldn’t say so. Now, at this time in Egypt the Egyptians worshipped their own Gods such as Ra, Osiris and so forth but the slave population who were apparently building monuments for the Pharaoh (who was seen as a God-like being himself) consisted of Hebrew Slaves (or Israelites). Why would the devil be interested in them? You may wonder. Well, apparently the Israelite population in Egypt (just of the families that are mentioned) number a mere 70 but within only 4 generations they have 600,000 men of fighting age. Therefore we could assume they had at least double that in their overall population so 1,200,000. Now maths was never my strong point, especially with something like this but from what I’ve attempted to work out, even if each couple in every generation had 20 children, it wouldn’t add up to this many. For arguments sake, let’s say that this was accurate (since my maths could be very wrong) this population leap would be spotted by anyone who had need of an army. Moses one day kills an Egyptian and flees as a fugitive into the Sinai desert. It isn’t until Moses is 80 (yup, 80) that he is contacted by this fiery bush demon. Perhaps it takes a certain act to allow the devil to contact you. Maybe Moses killing the Egyptian created the conditions under which Satan could call out to him. I mean regardless of whether the Egyptian deserved it or not, Moses would have been plagued by guilt over taking another man’s life. So the Devil then appears in this bush and tells Moses that it is time for the slaves of Egypt to rise up and escape. Of course the Pharaoh refuses to allow the slaves to be free which is where the ten plagues come in. Just in case you are unfamiliar with them, here they are: water into blood; frogs; lice; wild animals; diseased livestock; boils; thunderstorm of hail and fire; locusts; darkness for three days; and the death of the first born. Once again you’ll notice that fire plays a role in “God’s” work. Ignoring the first nine of these plagues, I’m going to look at the last one. God killed the any firstborn son from any household that was not marked with lamb’s blood (why an all-knowing God needed to be given a sign such as this is beyond me) which resulted in the death of Pharaoh’s son along with many more in Egypt. Now if this God was truly God, he is all-powerful and all-knowing. So he would have known that the Pharaoh wouldn’t release the slaves until the tenth plague. If we assume that the Pharaoh needed to see his own son die as a result of God’s will, why would all the other children have to die as well? The bible doesn’t mention that the Pharaoh was even aware of the mass infanticide that had just taken place when he decided to let the slaves go. I propose that within this idea that it was the devil carrying out these deeds, he needed there to be a rift between the slaves and the Egyptians. More so than merely by their class, he needed them angry and at war. By killing many sons of Egypt, the devil allowed the slaves to feel like justice had been carried out (although I can’t say I fully understand the idea of killing someone’s child for their actions) while the Egyptians would ultimately feel sadness followed by rage. After all this, there was no reason for them to believe that their Egyptian God’s did not still exist. So they would see these murders as an act of another God, of the slave’s God. They would want vengeance which is ultimately what this led to. The ten plagues were meant to invalidate the Egyptian Gods. He imitates signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9; Mk. 13:22), brings persecution (Rev. 2:9; 1 Pt. 5:8; Lk. 22:31); he imitates religious roles (2 Cor. 11:14-15; Mt.13:28,30; Rev. 2:9). Sounds like it could be the devil to me. Although Moses and his encounter with God (or the devil) is certainly an interesting on to look at, I couldn’t leave out possibly the most important character in the bible: Jesus.

He imitates signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9; Mk. 13:22). I have two ways of looking at Jesus in relation to the devil. If we imagine for a moment that the devil can interact with the world but God cannot. Perhaps he can send things in but he can’t just change things as he pleases or send messages whenever he wants. What if Jesus truly was the son of God BUT while Jesus was on Earth he never actually interacted with his father. Instead the entire time the devil was simply leading Jesus to the cross. Perhaps Judas was simply doing the work of the devil. I mean Jesus being the true son of God or not creates a whole new divide among the religious community. Not to mention that since Jesus being the son of God is really just God in mortal form, what better way to deal with him than to get him crucified? My other point of view for Jesus is this: Jesus was never the son of God. He was either the devil himself or one of the devil’s demons inhabiting a body. I mean everyone followed a star which is always seen as so holy…but what is a star? A giant burning ball of gas, that’s what. Hell doesn’t seem too far off what you’d experience by being near a star. I feel like there is too much that could be discussed here so I’ll try and stick to the basics. Let’s look at a moment at the miracles performed by Jesus: sure Jesus did some good things such as giving everyone bread, healing the blind and curing the sick…but he also carried out some miracles that I find highly questionable for a holy figure such as creating wine “for all to partake of”. I mean let’s not ignore the fact that alcohol is poison. While I’m sure you may argue that drinking is normal, it’s a social custom, they weren’t getting wasted etc. I can’t help but feel Jesus could have conjured up a more healthy substance than poison. Another famous miracle that Jesus performed was raising people from the dead. From what I can see he raised at least three people (himself not included): “The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.” (Luke 7:15); ““Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep…he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up.” (Matthew 9:24-25); “The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.” (John 11:44). I mean don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that an all-powerful God would have the power to raise people from the dead…but, why wait until Jesus is there to do it? I mean Jesus asks for his Fathers help when raising Lazarus from the dead, yet as far as I’m aware Jesus is the only one to raise people from the dead in the bible. Let me just quote a small part of the bible that I feel relates to these points: “When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, …” A necromancer? Sounds a lot like our old buddy JC, don’t you think? Tells fortunes or interprets omens? Once again, Jesus fits this description pretty well. So is God telling us that Jesus is in fact sent from hell itself to trick us all OR is the devil trying to trick us into thinking that Jesus should be seen as a witch when he is really the son of God? I mean what really is the difference between magic and miracles? Rather than use my own definitions, here are literally the first definitions of each after a google search: Magic: “the power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious or supernatural forces” and miracles: “an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency”. It sure seems like both Moses and Jesus could be accused of magic. Of course our definitions are different to those back then but I believe the point could still be made that there is no real distinction other than your belief that one comes from a holy, Godly place while the other is used by witches and wizards to cast their evil Satan-summoning spells.

 

 

He casts doubt on God’s goodness (Genesis 3:1-5). Of course one of the big goals of the devil is to tempt people away from God. By making them doubt just how good God really is they will begin to question him and his existence. If we continue on the assumption that much of what is in the bible was actually the work of the devil rather than God, we can see a clear pattern beginning to form, particularly in the Old Testament (but by no means limited to it). As we already mentioned, the devil is the most cunning creature that God ever made. So let us take a look at a couple of examples that have different meanings depending on how you look at them:

Noah and the flood: Of course a famous story, we hear how God chose one man and his family to be the only surviving members of mankind after a flood meant to wipe out humanity and land-based creatures. At this time God regretted creating mankind for they had turned evil and thought about committing evil deeds all the time (how an all-knowing being can have regrets is a bit beyond me since nothing happens that he doesn’t want to happen) and God decided to wipe mankind and all land animals off the planet with a giant flood. Noah appeals to God and basically saves him and his family by building a giant ark. I’m sure you know the rest…two of each animal…rain…bird with a branch…Anyway, this is often viewed as the tale of Noah rescuing the animals. What about the other animals and the other humans? First of all, most of the aquatic life would be wiped out due to the salt and fresh water mixing, not to mention the change in the temperature. Secondly, every single animal that couldn’t fly would be killed which is a lot of animals and ultimately a lot of death. Thirdly we have the humans who are also drowned by the actions of God before undoubtedly being sent to hell for all eternity. I can accept the logic behind humanity being wiped out. They were evil and didn’t worship God or respect him or beg forgiveness. Why did all those animals have to die? Were they carrying on some sort of evil that would keep humanity evil? Were the animals evil? Did they have sinful thoughts on a regular basis? I don’t believe that everything in this story could be the devil. I think either God planned on wiping out all of humanity and land based animals but the devil saved them so that even though most of God’s creatures would die, there would continue to be human souls to corrupt OR the devil caused the flood and God was the one who got Noah to save two of each animal. My reasoning for either of these being true is that God (being all-powerful) must have known the evils that would still come from allowing Noah and his family to live. I mean if you look at just the bible stories that take place after this they are full of evil. I mean he had to intervene many more times after that. Just look at the present day: Where is our flood? It seems to me that God didn’t stop things being much more evil than they were back then. Furthermore, if God (being all-powerful) needed to wipe out humanity, he wouldn’t have needed to kill all those animals. I mean even if you believe that animals do have a soul or don’t have a soul, we all know that animals can suffer. They can feel pain and they can feel fear. I honestly cannot imagine many things more terrifying than the world beginning to flood when you can’t swim very well or at all. I mean you’d try and maybe you’d get by for a while but eventually your muscles will start to ache or the cold temperature will slowly kill you or maybe you’ll drown straight away or simply be eaten by some of the aquatic animals who are now floating above land masses. We know from other bible stories that God can unleash plagues that kill specific family members. We know he can cause thunderstorms of hail and fire or cause animals to become diseased. Are we really going to ignore the fact that he didn’t just make a virus for humans that could wipe them out? As I mentioned at the start, this isn’t meant as a rant at religion but you need to understand my point to see why it makes more sense that the devil was involved in this in some way.

Abraham’s sacrifice of his son: We all know this famous story. Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice his own son as a sign of devotion (or something along those lines). One way or another, Abraham was meant to kill his son. As he went to do this, he led his son (along with two servants) to the place God wanted him to go. Just as he was about to stab his son with a knife, God stopped him. Apparently Abraham had shown his willingness to obey God and he was not to kill his son anymore. I find two things very interesting about this story. The first point is why did God need Abraham to prove his faith? God knows everything that is going to happen: he knows what we think and how we feel so he already knew that Abraham would be willing to sacrifice his son so this entire story is in itself unnecessary. That is unless it wasn’t God that wanted Abraham to kill his son. What if this being that contacted Abraham (which from the description in the bible it appears only he could hear) was in fact the other guy: the devil. As I mentioned with Moses, he couldn’t act as a vessel for the devil’s magic until after he had killed a man. We often hear of sacrificial elements in most religions but one in particular is devil worshipping. What if the devil requires an act of an immoral nature? Moses kills a man just as Abraham showed a willingness to kill his own son. Perhaps all it takes is this act and then the devil gains entry to that person’s life. Perhaps at this point he is able to manipulate the physical world more so than usual. The second point I wish to raise is from the same section of Genesis just after “God” stops Abraham from killing his son: “I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:17-18). To those of you who believe, do you think your God would give those who obey him the numbers to conquer the cities of their enemies? I think this relates back to my earlier point about the devil trying to create an army of the damned.

Moses and the plagues (in particular killing the first borns): I already mentioned this but I wanted to mention it again simply because it is relevant to this new point. Many look at the plagues as being a way of freeing the slaves of Egypt but is there ever really a justified reason for killing children? I mean no all-loving good would carry out such a deed. Unlike an evil figure who may be trying to create tension and hatred among mankind in an attempt to lure them down the path to hell.

I have two final examples that cast doubt on God’s goodness in a way only the devil would use. Nowadays we hear that even though sinners succeed in this world they will be punished in hell. This hasn’t always been the case in the bible as there have been times when God has intervened in such a way that I could only suspect someone else pulled the trigger: “Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.” (Kings 1:10) and “Then the Lord rained down burning sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens.” (Genesis 19:24). I mention both of these for two reasons. The first reason is quite obviously the fire element to these brutal deaths. The second reason is a little more related to modern day. Although they are differing beliefs among Christianity, one thing I often hear is that God doesn’t send us to hell, we send ourselves by sinning. Yet here God is quite literally bringing hell down upon these men and cities.

 

 

Brings persecution (Rev. 2:9; 1 Pt. 5:8; Lk. 22:31). Just to define the term so that my points makes sense, persecution is defined as ‘hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs; oppression’. The following points that I’m about to mention couldn’t fit that description any better:

My first example would be the crusades. Regardless of what your view of the purpose of the crusades may be (I’ve heard people argue it was a series of defensive missions while others argue that it was similar to a religious “cull”), the fact remains that the crusades are a brutal example of religion being used to rally troops. The Pope at the time made it clear that those who fought and killed enemies during the crusades would be forgiven their past sins in the eyes of God. Basically it was like a get out of hell free card. Now you could blame the Pope for making such a claim, you could blame the Vatican, you could blame the soldiers who raped, tortured and killed innocent and often unarmed people all in the name of defending their peaceful religion…regardless of who you choose, from the devil’s point of view things are working out pretty well. We have clear hostility and ill-treatment because of race or religious beliefs. Is this not exactly what the devil brings? I’ve tried to find an actual estimate of the number of people that died during the course of all the crusades but the numbers seem to vary from 1 million to 3 million to 5 million. So let’s just leave it open at 1-5million.

Of course we couldn’t talk about persecution without mentioning the several inquisitions that took place throughout the Catholic Church’s history. For those of you unaware of what the inquisitions were, I shall try and sum them up to the best of my knowledge. There essentially reached a point where challenging the doctrine of the church could lead to you being put in prison for life or simply executed. The accused individual would have to testify against themselves and lost certain rights such as the right to face your accuser or the right to counsel. While initially all it took was two witnesses to “open a case” so to speak, new methods began to be used during the 13th century to extract confessions out of the accused (I’ll give you a clue, they didn’t hug them until they confessed). Penalties could result in small consequences or as was often the case: being burnt at the stake. Anyone who was executed for their “crimes” would also have all their property seized by the church. I can only imagine the fear and paranoia at that time. During the 15th century, the Spanish Inquisition became independent of those going on in Rome.  For anyone who watches Game of Thrones, you will probably be aware of the Faith Militant in King’s Landing. That is pretty much what the Inquisitions were. They would hold you, put you on trial, make you repent as a sinner and if all that failed they would burn you alive and steal your things.

 

 

He distorts and prevents effective Gospel message (Acts 13:8-9). I did have a whole section I was going to write here about missing/destroyed gospels but I can’t seem to find the information again as a point of reference. I do wonder though, how different the meaning of the bible is now as opposed to its early editions or even to its original passages and gospels. I mean what you have to take into consideration is that the bible has been translated from dead languages, it’s been re-translated more times that anyone would be willing to count, it’s been edited by kings and it’s been edited by popes. Not that anyone would want to admit it but the bible is an ever changing publication. Words gradually become emitted, translations over time become forgotten (for example, I’ve heard people mention that the original word for “apple” in the bible also translates to “mushroom”, while “eden” translates to red” which has led some to believe that the original stories were referencing mushroom trips). Certain gospels have been ignored entirely because they contradict others such as the gospel of Judas which paints the picture of Judas being one of Jesus’s most devoted followers. If the devil really can tempt us and lure us, then I’m sure he could plant the idea that leads to the bible being altered.

 

 

In summary, I believe that when using the bible as a teaching or historical tool, there are certain assumptions that never seem to be considered in relation to these beliefs: Firstly, that many of the experiences relating to the main biblical figures could quite easily be the work of a cunning creature who God cast out from heaven. This can be seen simply by looking at the effects that these people had on humanity while also looking at the various mentions of the devil within scripture. It would seem bizarre that people or passages that are meant to guide humanity on the right path would have such disastrous consequences. I mean we’ve seen the people of the world divided, persecuted, tortured, raped, murdered, drowned, burned, deceived, suffer plagues and been made to doubt the beliefs they hold so dear. Does this sound like the working of an all-loving God? My second point is more philosophical: how would you ever know that it was God and not the devil? If you pray and feel like your prayers have been answered (either by action, thoughts, voices) there is literally no way you would know for certain. Some of you might say “I just know it is God. I can feel it.” While your personal feelings may convince you that this is true, don’t you think the devil could trick people the same way? I mean the serpent in the Garden of Eden convinced Adam and Eve that God didn’t mind if they ate from the tree of knowledge. Furthermore, any visions that any individual has had throughout history whether documented in the bible or mentioned at church could quite easily have been the devil as well. This seems even more likely when you consider that hallucinations and delusions were considered signs of possession by demons; demons of course being the devil’s version of angels who drift around doing his bidding. Perhaps the devil’s influence over the years has faded, I mean humanity is beginning to realise that it’s unacceptable to own slaves, to stone people to death, to sacrifice people, etc. Yet in many parts of the world, Christianity is being used for evil purposes such as extortion, child molestation, homophobic and racist attacks (and these are just in Western societies). In parts of the world such as Africa, the crimes and atrocities being committed in the name of Christianity are awful. I’m not seriously claiming that your religion is run by the devil (much like Hydra running Shield in the MCU). For me the ideas that God allowed Christianity to happen or the devil has been running it all along are both equally ridiculous. I do however wonder what makes you think that my point is inaccurate? I’d be interested to hear how YOU know that everything that the bible mentions and everything you believe today are the work of God and not Satan. I’m fully aware that my information could be inaccurate or perhaps I’ve taken things too out of context or misunderstood them entirely. As I mentioned at the start, let me know if that is the case. Even if all my points are backed up by misquotes and misguided understandings, I fail to see how my point wouldn’t still be possible.

 

-“ With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion”