Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Rey: The Hero I Never Knew I Needed

So over the past few months I have been relishing in the Star Wars love. Not only was the hype before December 17 worth it, the aftermath has been even more enjoyable! This isn't the unsustainable, insurmountable, below-expectations Star Wars movie we'd come to know and dread. This movie has legs, and it's going to keep us pushing on till December of 2018.

One of the happy surprises has been the overall love and appreciation of Rey. Her character in the movie is something we haven't seen too often in film. The leading women of action movies tend to be tough, moody, and in charge. Rey, on the other hand, was optimistic in the face of dire circumstances, cheerful when meeting up with the grumbliest scoundrel in the galaxy, and slowly learning how to embrace her Force-sensitive abilities.

The more I read about Rey, the more excited I get. She's the female presence in Star Wars that I've always wanted. I never thought I would copy Leia, nor did I ever feel like Padme was someone I wanted to be. I guess the closest Star Wars female I appreciated was Mara Jade, but even she was a little too bitter for my taste (even though she did marry Luke Skywalker in the Legends books). Nowadays there are far more females in the Star Wars galaxy to read about (thank goodness!) but back when I was growing up, those were the Big Three.

But I love everything about Rey. She handles things on her own because she was forced to at a young age. She's a capable fighter, but hasn't mastered anything...yet. (From what Daisy Ridley posted on Instagram on Monday, she probably will be growing and improving in her skills in Episode VIII.) And, most importantly, if she never gets a love interest in the saga, I would not be disappointed.

I spend a lot of my free time daydreaming (and not as much time writing my daydreams down - something I have to fix ASAP) and most of those have to do with me being an amazing fighter who beats down bad guys. So when Rey comes on screen and does exactly those things, I immediately felt a connection.

Her outfits are also great. No skirts, no crazy hairstyles, no sexiness, just simple. They wanted to make outfits that could be easily copied and cosplayed on convention floors. Mission accomplished. So much so that I want to cospay Rey's grey outfit from the end of The Force Awakens, something that I never thought I'd say.

At first I was convinced that she was Luke's daughter, and that made me very excited. My favorite character in all of Star Wars has a daughter that's just as amazing?! Now I still hope that is true, however since I have listened calmly and carefully to bloggers, podcasters, and family (*cough*JARED*cough*), I am now totally fine having her be the daughter of some unknown couple. Or be the granddaughter of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Whatever way it turns out, it won't detract from Rey's story. She's the one that has made her own path, and she will continue to do it regardless of her parentage.

So thank you, Daisy Ridley, and thank you, Lucasfilm, for creating Rey. I'll defend her from the Mary Sue doofuses that are out there, and I'll support her character arc wherever it goes.

Now I gotta find some grey wool to make that sweet jacket...

Monday, April 18, 2016

Positive Internet Life Lessons (An Oxymoron?)

It is clear, when doing just one Google search or reading one article or checking out one social media post, that the Internet is not always the best place. That can come from unsafe websites trying to hack into your account to Internet trolls that live for making people feel horrible for what they post to other really crappy Internet problems.

You'll read about those problems and issues in other articles. I've read my fair share. But this article is going to look at the brighter side of the Internet. After all, this magical connecting device does offer some amazing things. Push aside the terrible and see what I've been able enjoy:

I've Found Great People

There are a lot of people on the Internet - millions, for that matter! And while I can't say I have made any close personal connections with anyone through social media (deep relationships are more for face-to-face interactions, really), I have managed to discover a group of people that enjoy the same kinds of things that I do. It's fun seeing them share their opinion on television that we both watch, or music that we both listen to, or comment on an event in a way that reflects mine.

Of course, it doesn't mean we are always in sync with each other. However, there is that boost of happiness when connecting with someone over something small. And sometimes that's a feeling that's very needed!

I've Learned to Love my Body

For a long time, what was seen on television commercials, shows, music videos, or magazines was that of skinny ladies with no blemishes. Anything else was frowned upon, and it seemed like that was the only way to be accepted in this world. Try the diet, exercise a bunch, and maybe you'll look like these gorgeous people!

Well, through the Internet, I've read blogs and articles about how women (and men) are squashing those "acceptable" body images and showing off how they look with pride. A plus-sized woman graced the cover of Women's Running magazine a few months ago. How cool! A woman with Down's Syndrome walked at New York Fashion Week. Fabulous! I listen to podcasts and see YouTube videos featuring women that look like me. They show off their nerdy outfits with pride, and embrace whatever style suits them. And they look amazing!

It doesn't mean I'm going to stop exercising and start eating everything in sight. But it does mean that I'm proud of the way I look, instead of being frustrated that I'm "not making any progress." I am making progress - it's both a physical and a mental progress!

I've Gone Down the Rabbit Hole (in a good way!)

I have had moments where I am reading about a certain event, and am led to a link about something that is closely related to the event about which I am reading. I click on that link, and then another, and then another, and suddenly a whole corner of the universe has been laid out before me!

It isn't just Wikipedia articles, either. I remember once getting stuck in a late 1980s/early 1990s-history loop, and I probably learned more in that evening of research than I ever did in a history class.
You need to be careful that you're reading reliable sources (sometimes that's hard to find), but when you come across an event that really captures your interest, the Internet can provide so much amazing information and points of view.

I Want to Enjoy God's Wonderful Creation

It never fails - I am always coming across beautiful pictures of some amazing, picturesque area of the world that makes me want to see it for myself. I love travel, and the pictures that people take are simply breathtaking and make me want to see those places for myself.

Sometimes, though, it's as simple as sharing a picture of the sunset outside the window, or a beautiful flower from someone's backyard, or a different take at an ordinary-looking building. Yes, it's great to see these things from a 1080p screen, but the idea should be that we want to go and find these things for ourselves!

When I see gorgeous pictures of the mountains or lakes, I want to go out and enjoy them for myself. And I have! It is great to look back at pictures, but to have the experience that goes with it makes everything a little sweeter.

It seems odd, doesn't it? Taking pictures and posting them on the Internet makes people want to get off the Internet so they can take more pictures. But I hope that's the result. It has been for me.

I enjoy being on the Internet. I can connect, I can learn, I can grow, I can be inspired. There are definitely negative aspects of the Internet. But when we choose to make the most out of our positive encounters, we choose to improve our lives for the better!