Reducing the social stigma and starting conversations surrounding mental health is still a huge challenge, especially in this Instagram-curated, perfection-driven world we tend to live in. For those afflicted with mental illness, myself & many others included, reaching out or asking for help can be incredibly daunting. The least cool thing an anxiety & depression-addled brain can think to do is to be even needier; to be more of a burden on their loved ones.
When I started taking my writing & online presence more seriously, I was forced to consider the implications of brand, identity, and personhood on the Internet. How thin can the line be between private meditation and public presentation? Vulnerability is terrifying, alluring, humorous, but in most cases nevertheless brave. “Influencer Culture” is still in its infancy, and there are so many gross ways to go about, but I don’t believe it’s going anywhere because it’s always been around. The bizarre questions of whether my desires, impulses, or the things I wanted to share with my family, friends, and those who follow me are or are not ‘on brand’ is endlessly tiresome, but not new.
Even if you’re not on the social internet, perception and self-awareness are still useful things to consider (unless you’re a jerk), and opening up about your challenges can reveal that you’re not alone in them, and that the challenges, as big as they are, and as vulnerable as you feel, are not unsolvable. That’s part of what I really like about the Internet, why I lean into it instead of away and why I try to remember that tomorrow will be a better day.
Anyways, when you buy from TOMS.com, you can now select from an array of causes you want TOMS to donate to, including mental health. Join me as I #StandForTomorrow and use promo code: STANDFOR10 for $10 off your next pair of TOMS. https://toms.mvk.co/1fuzh #Sponsored @Toms
I got asked for some Netflix recommendations so I gave someRead More
Whenever I see a big-budget movie like Captain Marvel in theaters, I always try to see it in IMAX. The most obvious reason being that yeah, the screen is bigger and it usually takes over my entire field of view, which just makes it easier to get engaged in the film and enjoy it! But if I plan to leave the house for a movie these days, I’d prefer that movie offer some sort of experience or technology I can’t otherwise get at home.
And more often than not, blockbuster movies have IMAX releases that are essential to the intended viewing experience or even directorial intent, but it’s a coin toss whether that footage makes it to home video, so I try not to chance it. Especially with internet streaming, so many movies are often cropped now to make it easier for the viewer, because on smaller-than-IMAX screens the jump between IMAX cameras and standard cameras in shots can be jarring to experience on say, an iPhone.
So, in November of 2013, I drove out with my dad from Pendleton, Oregon to Boise, Idaho to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire at the closest 70mm IMAX screen to me at the time, which was essential to experiencing the film’s whopping 50 consecutive minutes of IMAX footage, a filmmaking record that wouldn’t be beat until last year’s Avengers: Infinity War; the first film to be shot entirely with IMAX cameras. For the last 50 minutes of Catching Fire, the protagonist Katniss Everdeen played by Jennifer Lawrence is dreading the impending second Hunger Games she’s being forced to compete in. And at this point in the movie, the beautifully complicated and woefully timely themes of media, youth, celebrity, and economics the Hunger Games is all about goes out the window completely when (SPOILERS) Katniss’s confidant and friend Lenny Kravitz gets brutally murdered right in front of her moments before she competes in a fight to the death her government is forcing her to take part in. And director Francis Lawrence illustrates this turning point and new pressure on Katniss by composing one of my favorite shots of really, any blockbuster film.
It’s at this moment the film transitions from its constrained, standard 2.35:1 aspect ratio to IMAX’s full signature 1.78:1 ratio, and sustains it for the rest of the film, gripping us to the action right from Katniss’ perspective. And it’s not a coincidence that this perspective and shot is wider, grander, and more engrossing than the rest of the film. The stakes and scope in the second Hunger Games are somehow larger, and this shot and choice subconsciously show us that, visually.
It’s a really good movie, and you should rewatch The Hunger Games series sooner rather than later.
But I have a strong memory of going to that film, standing in line with my dad.
He couldn’t really understand why I said things like “I identify most with Katniss Everdeen” or “She’s my favorite character” when there are perfectly fine male characters to identify with, such as Peeta or Gale or Woody Harrelson, and I wasn’t really able to articulate at the time what I meant by those things beyond just being engrossed by the female lead. Regardless of the gender, as the protagonist, it’s essential that we care about Katniss and whether she dies in the Hunger Games or not. Otherwise, the film wouldn’t work.
For the past few years now though, around when people realized Star Wars was going to highlight women and people of color, and that Ghostbusters would be gender-swapped for the changing times, there’s this super gross flurry of angry white guys on the internet who want nothing more than to see these films fail, and eliminate the possibility for tempered discourse or criticism of these important, ultimately progressive, blockbusters. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes even went so far as to eliminate their “want to see” feature because minority-led blockbusters are suspectable to fake review campaigns.
Though, if you remove yourself from your own perspective for a moment, and check out the Top 100 Highest Grossing Films of All Time for example and look for films with female protagonists, you’ll see exactly why studios have made it a priority to reverse engineer their franchises into more inclusive, diverse, films that ultimately reflect the world we live in.
Because it makes money, yes absolutely.
But also because there are infinite worlds and stories left unexplored that can truly only come from people whose experiences and imaginations are different from the people who have made and financed Hollywood movies for the last 75 years or so.
Which brings me to Captain Marvel.
As a film, Captain Marvel carries a lot of narrative weight not just as an origin story, but as a franchise-launcher, a preamble of sorts to next month’s Avengers: Endgame, and as a quasi-Hollywood statement piece. There are a lot of moving parts that don’t always align, but one particular thing I admired was how it actually utilizes the technique in IMAX that I hadn’t seen since Catching Fire. The aspect ratio would ebb and flow fluidly at optimal times to make the widening of perspective as fluid as possible. Something the film itself often works overtime to do, just to make bold shots and images less jarring to a skeptical audience.
From a marketing standpoint, touting Captain Marvel as the first Marvel Studios film led by a female superhero is immediately enticing for, like, at least half of its audience and the population. And, through her cult indie appeal and recent Academy Award, Brie Larson seems to be one of the best women and rising actresses to lead the charge on changing how blockbuster movies get made and who they’re made for.
Which was all she was doing when she made the comments that made internet manbabies so angry!
In case you have misogyny stuck in your ears, there’s a stark difference between saying white guys shouldn’t watch or review movies, than what Brie Larson’s saying here. The fact is, there are a disproportionate amount of white male film critics and therefore, white male perspectives usually dictate how movies are viewed critically. Like on Rotten Tomatoes. And, while media itself becomes more reflective of what the world actually looks like, a similar change must occur in film criticism too so that more minority filmmakers get their movies reviewed by minority film critics, dramatically increasing the likelihood of getting seen by mainstream audiences.
It’s not rocket science.
You can get annoyed by whatever hokiness you’re still feeling about all the Oscars Black Panther won, but Disney makes up for 40% of the Box Office now. Disney is the mainstream and yes, they want to make the most money possible, but they’re recognizing that they set the precedent for the rest of Hollywood and even if you don’t care for the groundbreaking movies they’re making, that doesn’t make them not worth recognizing.
So no, I don’t think it matters what white guys think of Captain Marvel. There’s plenty of time to pick apart the film while it does its groundbreaking. Like, if you’re thinking of writing a bad review of Captain Marvel before you’ve seen it, or you feel that ‘boycotting’ over ‘sexism against men’ is a valuable use of your time and Twitter characters, try instead widening your field of view and make your perspective IMAX sized.
Because your boycott didn’t work, and they aren’t gonna work.
“I’m voting for Dukakis,” Maggie Gyllenhaal's character utters from the 80s set Donnie Darko’s dining table.Read More
or, Listen on Spotify
2018 will be a year I'll always remember; whether by its tumultuous, apocalyptic trajectory or by an "On This Day" notification.
Either way, this is the music we made of it, IMO.
Some notes about this playlist:
I included all 11 Billboard Hot 100 songs in it, because they’re the most likely to live with us forever. We’re all responsible for them, whether they’re great (“This is America”) or downright awful (“Girls Like You”, “Havana”). Ponder them as much as they’re worth to you.
I included controversial but popular artists in this because whether we like them or not they’re present in the music we consume. Whether they should be or not is for someone named not-me to decide.
These are some of my favorite songs of the year, yes, but they’re also partially chosen for their thematic elements. Death, suicide, and indulgence are at the very least intriguingly present in today’s music. And I think that’s something to ponder.
Yes, I included my and some of my friends’ releases this year. Listen to them.
This is more or less an accurate window of the range of music I consume. Always open to recommendations. Tweet them at me.
Favorite Albums of 2018
A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships by The 1975 |Amazon
A Star is Born Soundtrack by Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper |Amazon
Kids See Ghosts by Kids See Ghosts, Kanye West & Kid Cudi |Amazon
Ye by Kanye West |Amazon
Dirty Computer by Janelle Monaé |amazon
Black Panther: The Album by Kendrick Lamar & Various Artists |amazon
God’s Favorite Customer by Father John Misty |amazon
Keep That Same Energy by Teyana Taylor |amazon
Bloom by Troye Sivan |amazon
Euphorize by CupcakKe |Amazon
Let me know what I missed/didn’t mention in the comments. You know you want to.
That’s rich — Tyler Scruggs, the boy who’s extremely online is taking a break from social media?
Anyone who knows me knows that my relationship with the internet & social media is a fraught, deeply intertwined one. And maybe, recently, it’s gotten weirder. It’s not particularly complicated to explain, and it’s something I truly believe; that we’re no longer offline and are perpetually and dependably digitally documented in some form, so it’s best to act in awareness of that.
I started tylerscruggs.com as an attempt to take back the reigns on my internet output and act more intentionally & thoughtfully about what I put online. Though, eleven months in, and I still find myself stuck. Stuck as a writer and uh ‘content creator,’ because there’s a certain pressure to not only speak on the things you know, but on the things that are present, current, & topical. There’s a race for writers and creators to be the first(!) and definitive opinion on whatever they’re talking about. And if you’re not delivering hot take after hot take, it’s easy to fall amongst the noise.
I find myself stuck in endless newsfeeds, comment threads, and time-sucks that challenge what I believe on what I’m beginning to think perhaps a too-frequent basis.
Earlier this year, I agreed to write an article for a southern queer publication, on Christianity and its relationship to LGBTQ-identifying Americans. This prompt, though something I'm deeply passionate and thoughtful about, petrified me. It was a massive challenge for me to write, forcing me to think critically about every sentence and ask myself if I truly believed what I was writing. I'm proud of the end result, sure, but it's led me to question myself why I was so afraid about writing how I felt when I have so many avenues to do so.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram... they're permanent ways to express fleeting thoughts, emotions, and opinions. The platforms themselves, though, don't work well enough to contextualize these things properly. They're addictive games, built on 'follower counts,' 'likes,' and the ever-abused quote tweet.
Negative emotions, hot takes, clap backs, take center stage and are rewarded accordingly. And sure, there are viral pieces of positive content aplenty, but think about it: do you go to twitter for the curated content or for the raw, unfiltered emotions? I'm much more likely to click on a Fail video than a rollerblading video gone well.
I don't do many of the things that I should. I should work out more than I do, eat better, I'm not a perfect human by any stretch of the imagination and I never want to present myself otherwise. Social Media is an addiction, and it's designed to be so. There's so much work to be done in making these spaces better and healthier for people, because they should be, but much like eating better and working out, it requires a conscious effort on my part.
I recently discovered vlogger & filmmaker Matt D'Avella and the symptoms he described personally resonated with me, so I'm giving up social media entirely for the next month or so, but one of my personal heroes John Green similarly announced his year-long departure from social media as well, all of which for reasons that resonated with me as well. The amount of time doesn’t matter really, but it’s the conscious nature in which we approach these new and frankly dangerous anthropoids.
Can I be a 'fresh' content creator if I'm not plugged into the world the way social media can simulate? Do I just post & share things socially, but eliminate the apps, the feeds, and the notifications that can distract and detract? I don't know the answer or the therapeutically healthy amount of time one should take off social media to return to a healthy, confident, thoughtful self. I do know that if social media is harming my desire and ability to create, then it's something to distance myself from and reevaluate.
Tyler Scruggs is a writer and musician living in Atlanta with his partner Mark. When he’s not churning out internet content, he’s paying too much for coffee and buying movie tickets weeks in advance. Feel free to validate him on Twitter (@TylerScruggs), Instagram (@Scruggernaut), and YouTube.
If you want to see more stuff like this, consider becoming a contributor on Patreon.
The other day I innocuously quoted the Bible in an Instagram DM to another gay and he was very taken aback. He seemed outright shocked and concerned that I made a biblical reference and may be a Christian, as that would discredit me in most everything I said from then on. And that’s fair, Christians deserve to be discredited, or scrutinized at the very least. The greed, hypocrisy, and uncomfortably strong influence in political discourse is really just a few of the reasons why American Evangelical Christians should sit down and have a long think about the mess we’re in as a country, and their contributions to it.Read More
Originally published in the July issue of Fenuxe magazine.
Drag feels everywhere now, but we still haven’t reached the saturation point. Alongside hip-hop culture, which carries its own wealth of history and struggles for mainstream acceptance, both it and drag tell a narrative through-line that parallels American culture as a whole. In perhaps the most uncertain time in history, it’s stabilizing, motivating even, to see minority communities band together to express themselves in the most authentic way possible. This can only be done through art.
Hip-Hop music and culture have had a stronghold in mainstream media for decades now, but drag particularly has hit a stride in recent years. The rise of the current presidential administration in America alongside RuPaul’s Drag Race’s move made from minor-league channel LOGO to VH1 has created this perfect storm of perhaps hyper-awareness of drag culture in the public eye. Straight people are being exposed to and gobbling up RPDR, and more power to it! There’s no doubting the significance RuPaul has personally had in lifting the artform from metropolitan clubs and live venues to mainstream media but drags sights are set higher than that.
With a deep history leading back to Shakespeare, drag (stemming from DRessing As a Girl) has taken many forms, from being a necessity in theatre to a part-time hobby for gay men to express themselves through the confines of modern society to the hyper-theatrical pop personality competition it’s become.
Through social media, music, and television, drag has extended beyond simply dressing up as a woman and putting on a show. Thanks in no small part to Drag Race, drag has become a competition of vocal performance, dance, fashion design and construction, make-up, improv, and all-around congeniality. Your fav could never.
Honestly, it’s exhausting to see drag stars perform, because the great ones effortlessly perform as a one-woman pop star production, and there’s a stark under-appreciation of the queens who do it well while no one’s noticing. This leads to a drive to stand out in other ways, like in comedy, drama, or mythology.
Drag is reality TV with a sugar rush. It’s astounding simply how much work is left to the queens themselves and the amount of understanding of celebrity, self-awareness, and performance necessary to pull it off. Perhaps one of the greatest criticism of Drag Race is how little the focus is on simply pulling off such feats week-by-week, instead focusing on catty manufactured drama and semi-predictable reality TV beats, often exasperated by RuPaul’s intentionally repetitive brand-awareness.
More importantly, and more noticeably, is the unpacking of personal struggle and adversity every drag queen is faced with, which leads to a weird dynamic between the contestants and mama Ru. Oftentimes, he tasks herself with the role of Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell, and Oprah. RuPaul plays host, therapist, and judge oftentimes in the same breath and it leads to a very strange dynamic between him and the contestants. Is Ru a mentor, a fan, or an icon to impress? The contestants are confused, and the constructed nature of reality TV and competition shows clouds all the hats (or in this case, wigs) RuPaul puts on every episode. After 10 seasons, I’m personally hopeful some of these roles are rectified in the near future because there’s so much good that can come from intimately and honestly unpacking some of the adversities in the queen. The themes are universal to all genders, races, and sexualities, but under the guise of congeniality and competition, one has to wonder if the setting is appropriate.
To discuss drag culture in 2018 necessitates such lengthy discussion of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but hopefully, that won’t be the case for long. There are so many, potentially unlimited facets of Drag and gender expression. We haven’t reached a saturation point in the slightest. Locally, there’s an exploration of that saturation point with many bars establishing their own shows, all in competition for THE drag show in Atlanta, but there simply isn’t one yet. And maybe there won’t be just one. Drag is for everyone, and as long as we maintain the themes and purposes of the art and sport, we may be in for the first truly and authentically queer space in mainstream media. All of this begins though when you hand that dollar to the local queen performing their padded ass off.
Tyler Scruggs is a writer and musician living in Atlanta with his partner Mark. When he’s not churning out internet content, he’s paying too much for coffee and buying movie tickets week in advance. Feel free to validate him on Instagram (@Scruggernaut), Twitter (@TylerScruggs), or on Scruff (you’ll know it when you see it).
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