Samwise and Bob: Pages in a Greater Story Dec06

Samwise and Bob: Pages in a Greater Story...

From the moment I met Samwise Gamgee on the big screen, he has been beloved to me. Seeing Sean Astin bring one of my favourite Tolkien characters to life made the actor inextricable from Sam in my child’s mind. And through the years, as I have grown older and more aware of the beauties and horrors of the world around me, the roles which Sean Astin has played have stood the test of time, largely due to their redemptive qualities. So, when I saw that Astin would be playing Bob Newby in Stranger Things 2, I was sure that I’d find something to love about him. Both Bob the Brain and Sam Gamgee are vehicles for a universal truth, helping to show that there is in fact, “light and high beauty forever beyond” like Sam notices in The Return of the King. This hope is beyond the reach of the dark, even when the characters themselves seem fairly insignificant in their respective worlds. Bob and Sam are aware that they are in a larger narrative, that their role in their worlds and their small acts of goodness can reverberate through eternity. Sam’s revelation comes in the latter chapters of The Two Towers: Sam acknowledges that the truest and most memorable tales include some suffering, some sacrifice, and a heap of courage. “The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, the...

When Warped Community Feels Right Nov15

When Warped Community Feels Right...

There’s wisdom in seeking counsel from those who are older and wiser than me, from friends who can view my situation from an unbiased perspective. Any time I have to make a big decision, I consult those close to me. However, advice still needs to be taken with careful consideration. A solution that worked for someone else in a similar situation may not work for me—it might not even be the wisest thing for me to do. In Stranger Things 2, Eleven meets Kali (another girl with superpowers). She finds safety and belonging with someone who can empathize with her troubles. Kali gives her advice on how to harness her power and tries to coax her into seeking revenge against the people who hurt her. But Kali tempts Eleven to the dark side of the Force—I mean, convinces her to do more harm than good. She advises Eleven to use anger to fuel her abilities and be unmerciful to those who have hurt her. Eleven chose the more difficult path—one where she had to face her ultimate fear and reconcile with people who’ve hurt her. Kali’s advice isn’t malicious; she genuinely wants to help Eleven. But Eleven comes to realize that Kali’s life is dark and bitter; and Kali is surrounded by friends who let her thrive in her depravity. Eleven soon realizes Kali’s life is not something she wants to aspire to. Kali tries to convince her to kill a man who abused Kali and hurt Eleven’s mama. When Kali tries to kill the man herself, Eleven stops her and Kali responds by saying, “If you want to show mercy, that is your choice, but don’t you ever take away mine. Ever.” Kali respects Eleven to make the decision to show mercy, proving...

Fear: The Demogorgon Dec02

Fear: The Demogorgon

Fear prevents us from letting go of something that makes us bitter. Fear of losing someone else or of being inadequate makes us jealous. Fear is something that threatens to tear apart the friendship of four middle school boys and a mysterious telekinetic girl in Stranger Things. Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will have been friends for years. They go to school together in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. In their free time, they love experimenting with science-projects and playing Dungeons and Dragons. They’ve had years of experience in cultivating friendships. On the other side of the scale, Eleven has lived in near isolation her entire life, never knowing what having a friend feels like. She has only experienced abuse under scientists in a top secret government lab. When Will disappears, the boys unite to save their friend. However, after El escapes the lab and comes into their lives, the boys’ friendship is shaken by fear of who or what she is. But Mike wants Eleven to be accepted into the group. He teaches her in the best way he can how to be a friend. Eleven hurts their fragile friendship because she is afraid of telling the boys the truth about the origins of the Demogorgon and of herself. Lucas becomes jealous of Mike when he sees that Mike is paying more attention to Eleven than him. This fear strains their friendship. I’ve always been afraid of saying the wrong thing that would chase a friend away. I’ve definitely experienced fear like this in my relationships. I don’t have many friends because I struggle with being vulnerable. I’ve always been afraid of saying the wrong thing that would finally chase them away, of sharing secrets or feelings with them. Scared I will ruin...

Stranger Things: The Villains in Authority Sep23

Stranger Things: The Villains in Authority...

While many nerds were losing their collective minds over whether or not Suicide Squad would be any good, Stranger Things slipped in and caught people off guard with its interesting cast of lesser known child actors, 80s nostalgia, and a contemporary view on conspiracy and power. One of the reason Stranger Things resonates with contemporary audiences is because the real villain of the show is not the unnamed monster from the Upside Down, but the nefarious government officials who run the Hawkins Laboratory, conducting the secret experiments that release the Upside Down monster into our world, and indiscriminately eliminating innocent people to prevent those secrets from getting out. Sure, the monster is scary and dangerous… but not as dangerous as the people, hidden in plain sight, whose unchecked authority and power make them untouchable. Most of the accolades for Stranger Things have focused on the show’s recreation of the look and tone of the 80s. The show is a loving homage to films like E.T., Stand By Me, and Firestarter. In fact, Wil Wheaton, former child actor and ubernerd, has declared that Stranger Things might be this generation’s Stand By Me. And while Stranger Things captures the look and feel of those films, its depiction of clandestine agents and corrupt government officials is more a product of our 21st century mindset. The films that inspired Stranger Things rarely depict authority as dangerous or malevolent.  In E.T., when the government takes the alien for testing and observation, they do so with the best intentions based on what they know. Though their methods seem barbaric, particularly to the children, the government officials are actually trying to understand an alien creature that, for all they know, could be dangerous. At best, the authorities are reactionary and unimaginative. Similarly,...