Eden Outlaw

PA/Screenwriter

A writer who loves writing and making film commentary & analysis that absolutely no one asked for, in hopes that I too can make films to inspire people to talk to themselves in solitary bliss.

Class & Status in Coming of Age Films

On Labor Day my uncle and I were having a conversation about racism and white people’s jealousy of Black folks, which turned into us bouncing ideas off of each other and analyzing the crimes white people often commit and why they do it. We went from discussing the infamous BBQ Becky video to how white people saw Black financial prosperity as a threat and proceeded to burn down Black Wall Street. 
The discussion then turned into pointing out the many occurrences where white people have killed in the name of money and social status. Wives, husbands, grandparents, friends, children, killed at the hands of someone they loved because they either had a bounty on their head that was to be collected by the killer once they were gone, or they were holding back said person from reaching their goals or ruining their image. Insurance money, inheritance money, business ownership, etc. all sought after in the in exchange for someone’s life. We ended up talking about the many cases where spouses would kill their husband or wife for life insurance money, get married again, rinse and repeat. Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that white people are simply power hungry and agreed that it could be written off as a genetic disposition at this point because it’s all too common, even from a young age.

For centuries upon centuries, since the beginning of time really, white people have placed significant importance on social status. Likability wasn’t something they ever cared for, just power over others. Just ask Julius Caesar, assassinated and conspired against by the senate after being declared dictator for life in Rome. Nobody likes a dictator and their downfall always happens eventually, and most of the time it’s not pretty. There have been many like him since, inside and outside of political settings, that lust for power and to be in the position to control others and everything around them. Why? I’m not white so I’m not entirely sure.

White people’s thirst for power and obsession with status manifests in different ways at different ages though. The recent buzz of Sierra Burgess Is A Loser made me curious and I decided to watch it, which also solidified my decision to write this post. I’ve seen my fair share of coming-of-age films and have noticed a particular pattern; there are always popular white kids and teens that bully innocent bystanders and do whatever they need to do in order to keep their place in the school’s social hierarchy. The reason this stands out to me is because I’ve noticed that a majority of these bullies are ones that also come from a family of means as well.

In Sierra Burgess Is A Loser, the protagonist Sierra is your typical outcast: redhead, freckles, fat, wears glasses, pale, dresses like somebody’s aunt from the 80s, etc. The first scene of the film shows Sierra stepping out of the shower as she examines herself in the mirror, and I can’t help but notice the fact that she has her own bathroom. I don’t know anyone my age that has their own bathroom, ever in my life. That alone was an immediate indicator that she was at least upper-middle class, which also meant I knew that I wasn’t going to relate to this film as much as I’d like to, as a lower income Black girl living in Philly. 

Her room is a size that I would probably consider huge and has a window seat, her house is beautiful, and her parents are sitting together in the kitchen as she enters the kitchen to eat breakfast before school, telling them about her dreams last night after they ask, as that seems to be a routine thing. Because you know, her parents have a close and healthy relationship with her it seems.

Throughout the film it’s clear that Sierra is somewhat dissatisfied with her life on some level, going as far as to catfish her crush with a girl that looks nothing like her. Her parent’s love, her intelligence and creativity, and the comfortable life she lives, still isn’t enough to fulfill her which brings me to my next point…
I’ve noticed the common underlying problem which the characters in these coming-of-age films have is that nothing is ever enough sometimes, nothing compares to the high they get from outside validation. Validation that’s often rooted in the unhealthy need to be seen admired by others, to be put on a pedestal almost. It’s not enough for these teens to have a family that’s well-off and doesn’t have to struggle, it’s not enough that they’re spoiled and get everything they want from their parents, it’s not enough that they have loving parents that care for them, it’s not enough that their home life is normal and fine for the most part. They need that power and the validation from others that comes with it. And what better place to do that than school?

Think about it; in high school teens are going through puberty and starting to come into themselves, and although these are the formative years where they begin to find out who they are and what they want out of life, they’re still lost for the most part. They’re still pliable beings that are susceptible to the influences and people around them, good or bad. They will continue to internalize everything around them, everything that’s said to them, everything that’s done to them, good or bad.

The popular kids are aware of that and know this is the perfect time reign in their parade because most of their peers are still being molded and don’t know any better, they’re easy to control. They spend 8 hours a day for 5 days a week, for 4 years, building up and perfecting their reputation to their liking. Building an army of followers to love and admire them. 

One of the best examples of this would be the infamous Mean Girls and specifically Regina George. Regina was the most popular girl in school of course, the queen bee, the girl everybody wanted to be and she completely reveled in that 24/7. The admiration that most of her peers—girls and boys alike—had for her is what kept her going, it was her fuel, her happiness. She successfully controlled and manipulated everyone around her from her friends, to her boyfriend, to her own parents. She forced her parents to switch bedrooms with her because hers wasn’t big enough for her liking. Imagine!

It’s clear that Regina came from a wealthy family as well, but based off of her actions and how much stock she put into other people’s opinion and view of her, that didn’t seem to matter to her. Not as much as her popularity and reputation. I believe that if Cady Heron hadn’t tumbled into her life and turned everything upside down for her the way she had, Regina would’ve absolutely grown up to be even more of a raging narcissist. One that manipulates and disposes everyone around her with elaborate plans to sabotage everyone else’s plans and happiness in order to uplift herself. She would go absolutely unchecked until her own greed for status caught up to her in some way or another. 

Another example would be Heathers (1989). Though Veronica’s actions were not exactly in line with Regina’s, quite the opposite actually, I still found it interesting that she was a part of that clique in the first place. Within the literal first 5 minutes of the film it’s clear that Heather Chandler is the leader of their clique and they’re all afraid and intimidated by her. But why remain friends with someone whose morals and behavior doesn’t align with yours? Someone you fear? Because of status. They remained under Heather Chandler’s wing because they knew it would be a good look just to be seen and associated with her, no matter how badly she treated them or how shallow their friendship was.

“Why can’t we talk to different kinds of people?”
'“Fuck me gently with a chainsaw, do I look like Mother Theresa? If I did I probably wouldn’t mind talking to the geek squad.”
“Does it not bother you that everybody in this school thinks that you’re a piranha?”
”Like I give a shit. They all want me as a friend or a fuck! I’m worshipped at Westerburg and I’m only a junior.”

To the Heathers and Regina George, torturing and embarrassing those around them was used as a form of entertainment, a way to pass the time, despite them having the means to do more productive things like go to therapy or take up a kickboxing class. If that isn’t sociopathic behavior then I don’t know what is. However, I don’t believe every character on a quest for popularity and to be seen is as extreme as Regina George and or as desperate and passive about it as the Heathers. You have more low-key characters like Nadine from Edge of Seventeen (2017) that long for popularity but do it from afar in a wallflower kind of way, again ignoring the fact that their home life isn’t the worst in the world. Or characters like Cher from Clueless (1995) whose image and reputation was important but she wasn’t a ballistic tyrant about it. I actually love Cher because she was a kind, popular girl that wanted to use her status and privilege to help her friends and improve their life, something you don’t see much of from these kinds of characters. She’s one of the few nuanced popular teens in film in my opinion.

From all of the coming-of-age films I’ve seen, I’ve come to the concrete conclusion that white people have a very different and privileged perspective on class and the lifestyle of your average teen. It couldn’t be truer when I say that the collective of them live in a bubble while somehow thinking everyone else lives in that same bubble as well. That sentiment becomes crystal clear when you view movies like ATL, Freedom Writers, Boyz N The Hood, Mississippi Damned, and even others like City of God and Precious. 

Just Another Girl On The I.R.T is another favorite of mine and I would probably call this a cult classic, and if you haven’t seen this yet I highly suggest you scourge the internet for a link because it’s old and indie, but a gem. The film centers around Chantel Mitchell, a high schooler living in Brooklyn, as she strives to make something of herself despite her environment. She’s Black girl with book smarts and street smarts yet still makes the same mistake that many of the women around and before has made; in the midst of wanting to be a normal teenager that dates and has sex. Chantel became a teen mom despite being a very smart girl. Throughout the film she hides her pregnancy as she attempts to continue going to school and working while trying to figure out the next step to take so that she isn’t held back and reduced to another statistic.

Seeing a funny, loud-mouthed and opinionated Black girl like me on screen that also lives in a lower-income neighborhood and goes to public school was the best thing I could’ve asked for. Just Another Girl On The I.R.T gave me that and more. The feeling you get when you see accurate representation of yourself as a teen is unmatched and this film is one of the few that got the depiction of Black girl youth in inner cities right. 

Films like those I mentioned before Just Another Girl On The I.R.T focus on the daily lives of Black teens and teens of color, lives filled with abuse, turmoil, violence, and perpetual struggle which is something that I love and hate. I love it because these are true stories and is unfortunately the reality for many Black teens and teens of color. From locations to the hardships they face down to their home-life, it’s always very accurate. There are no private bathrooms with spacious bedrooms decorated with fairy lights and a Mac desktop computer. The teens in these films are lucky if they have their own bedroom, let alone a bathroom. 

There are no cafes and smoothie shops to walk to with friends after school, just papi stores and corners and playgrounds to loiter at after hours. Corners where drive-bys happen and stop and frisks have found their home. There are no two parent households with luscious gardens and backyards, healthy marriages, and healthy child-to-parent relationships. Just apartments in the hood, the projects, small 1-2 bedroom houses in low-income neighborhoods where danger is their neighbor.

There are no public schools with pools and an extensive selection of extracurriculars and sports to choose from with an entire stadium. Just a football and basketball team, maybe a cheerleading squad, and maybe band to perform at assemblies and school games. There is no elaborate homecoming or prom that everyone has access to because around here, we pay around $100 for a ticket—in addition to hair, makeup, dress/tux, and transportation—because we have to book a different venue because our gyms are too small, because we have too many students, because funding is low, because the school district tries to stuff as many students into public schools as possible without the proper accommodation. 

There are no lunches with freshly cooked food that actually looks appetizing and healthy. Just mystery meat, genetically modified prison food, pizza with enough fake cheese to give you diarrhea, salads that sometimes have bugs in them, and vending machines where a bag of chips is $1 instead of $0.25. There are no large parking lots where the students can park their cars, that’s reserved for faculty only. We’d be lucky if we could afford our own car in high school, let alone a designated parking spot. 

There is no waking up for school when the sun is already up and mom is downstairs making pancakes and bacon with a glass of orange juice. There is no time to eat breakfast at home because me and mama are up at 6am, beating the sun, and getting ready for school and work. There are no rides to school from mommy or daddy or driving my own car, just taking the bus and or train and hoping that I make it to school on time and that I’m able to eat breakfast before they stop serving it because the public transportation is never on time. And most of the time when I do make it for breakfast, the food is horrid and I end up starving until it’s time for lunch, hoping they’ll have something good to eat that doesn’t make my stomach hurt or taste like depression.

There is no weekly allowance to go shopping every weekend with and hangout with friends at the local pizzeria or diner. Just teens working jobs right after school, even sneaking out of school early to catch the bus or train so they can get to work on time because our parents don’t have enough disposable income to give us on a consistent basis. Just working from 4pm-9pm most nights during the week with not much of a choice because graduation dues and college application fees need to be paid, struggling to keep up with grades because sleep is a rarity most nights. 

There is no time or energy to worry about who’s most popular and trying to become popular because teens like me are too busy just trying to get through school, to get through life. We don’t have the time, resources, and energy to spend focusing on other people and what they think of us, there’s bigger shit going. Things that are bigger than all of us. 

But I sometimes hate these depictions as well because despite how accurate they are, it’s all we seem to get. Not every film about Black youth has to center on race, violence, and other graphic topics because not every young Black person deals with that, even if they do live in that environment. I’m sure there are kids in the hood that are happy despite not having all the means to live comfortably. We need variety and need to see happy stories being told even for the ones that do come from the hood and lower-income environments, it’s not everyday trauma-porn for the youth. Every coming-of-age film centering on a white protagonist is ultimately occupied with some form of external validation and social status, whereas Black kids and kids of color are trying to survive. It is becoming repetitive on both ends and there needs to be more films that portray a happy medium because I absolutely believe you can have fun while living in the struggle.

I’ve previously touched on the class differences between white schools/neighborhoods and ones that are predominately occupied by Black teens and teens of color in my review for 13 Reasons Why. My point isn’t to erase or diminish the valid struggles that some of these characters go through, like Nadine from Edge of Seventeen whose father passed and subsequently dealt with depression, feeling like she’s alone now because her mother is more doting to her older brother AND her best friend begins dating her brother, who also happens to be the more popular sibling. I’m not saying that they should be happy solely based off of the material things they have but when you compare coming-of-age movies centered on the stories of Black/teens of color and white teens, the disparities between each group become glaringly obvious on what’s most important and what’s really valued in life to each group. 

But it doesn’t always have to be so black and white (no pun intended). Everyone’s story should be told, from the Black kids who live in the projects but still have the best adventures to the Black kids and teens who don’t let their surroundings and trauma consume them and define their life story. We also need to put an end to the White Coming Of Age Film Industrial Complex because it’s the same old story every time, either tell a new story or don’t make the movie at all. Let’s literally flip the script and see some stories of popular Black teens who rule the school and get into ridiculous shenanigans and plot against each other, because we deserve more than the constant dark struggle stories filled with sadness and grief.


An Ode to Jennifer’s Body

Even almost a decade later, it seems to me that Jennifer’s Body still has its very small cult fanbase that worships the film to this day and I can't say that I’m mad at it. Jennifer’s Body is one of the few films that encapsulates everything girls of this generation loves; blood, death, hotness, and seeing men die at the hands of hot women. Whether you consider the film to be a cult classic dark comedy or poorly produced horror film, Jennifer’s Body is ultimately a story of revenge and reclaiming one’s power in the face of a patriarchal society.

On the surface, Jennifer Check can be written off by most as your typical vain, ditzy cheerleader who’s the hottest girl in the school. But the more I watched the film, the more I realized there’s way more to Jennifer than being a flag dancer with pink MAC Lipgelee.

The plot of this film is basically Jennifer being sacrificed to Satan by a lame ass indie band who doesn’t have the chops to make it big time on their own, so they resort to preying on girls to complete their sacrificial ritual to become famous. Little do they know Jennifer hasn’t been a virgin since junior high and isn't even a backdoor virgin, as she likes to put it. They sacrifice a non-virgin and she ends up becoming a succubus who needs to eat people in order to sustain her good health and beauty. When you think about it, Jennifer ends up playing the role of both the victim and the predator in this movie that still executed the ultimate revenge during the short window time that she had alive, which is why I’ve always rooted for her. I honestly couldn't care less at the fact that she's murdered like 5 people and proceeded to eat them afterwards, sipping their blood in her hands like it was Campbell's tomato soup.

Besides the empowering themes carried out with Diablo Cody’s infamous witty humor, my favorite aspect of this film is Jennifer’s flippant attitude towards males and their humanity. You would be hard pressed to find films where teenage girls -aren’t- obsessing over boys and her desirability, more often than not signaling desperation and low self-esteem. Jennifer’s character is a breath of fresh air in a sea of teen girls who sit waiting by the phone waiting for their crush to call them. One of my favorite things that she does throughout the film is refer to males as “morsels” and treats them like they’re basically second class citizens. You can tell she doesn’t get attached to any of the boys that she’s been with because why would she? They’re a bunch of meagre creatures with nothing to offer that she can’t give herself, besides sex I guess. But even then, she implied later on in the film that she's probably bisexual so Jennifer is one of the very few female characters I've seen on screen that when it came to sexual /romantic relationships, she was the one who possessed the casual and nonchalant nature instead of the man, and it fed my heart and soul.

It was extremely refreshing to see a girl not only refrain from being so hung up on boys, especially in high school, but to also acknowledge her beauty and shamelessly own it. I was once the type that never gave two shits about boys until I decided to take a chance and start dating after high school, which was the worst decision I ever made. My life was so nice and peaceful before I let boys into my life. I still regret the decision I made to rush myself into the act of dating because I literally have not known peace since then. I resent the male species for existing and having the nerve to bring so much unnecessary stress and trauma into my life, but thanks to Jennifer Check I'm able to take some cues and revert back to my old ways.

The fact that Jennifer was the hottest girl in the entirety of Devil’s Kettle was never lost on her, she was fully aware of how beautiful she was and had no problem using that to her advantage. Whether it was using her good looks to lure in boys for sex for her own pleasure or to eat them in the woods, she always used these boys for personal gain and never felt bad about it. She also never felt bad about her sexuality and sexuality in general, as she was always very open about it and never felt like it was something to be embarrassed or ashamed of. We love a sex positive bicon.

There was a deleted scene that I wish they'd kept in the film where Needy confronts Jennifer in the locker room. She suggests that there’s a way to reverse the “curse” Jennifer’s stuck in but Jennifer protests, firmly stating her succubus state isn’t a curse.

In Jennifer’s mind, boys are basically like popsicles. She sucks them dry and gets what she wants out of them until there’s nothing left except for the useless wooden stick. She throws out that wooden stick leaving no ego unbruised, and she’s on to the next flavor. Her complete disregard for male life is the light of my life and the fire in my loins. I could take a break from reading and hearing about women and girls being killed at the hands of men for stupid shit like rejecting them and getting "revenge" on their ex for leaving their sorry asses, and watch this movie to see a hot girl casually eating boys and not giving a fuck about their humanity. I seriously have a special place in my heart for Cody Diablo, especially for creating this film. First she makes the cult classic teen comedy Juno, filled with gut-busting quips and snappy dialogue, then she does it again. Only this time it’s with a movie about a girl killing boys, like how iconic is that? I love that white woman.

I believe Diablo created Jennifer with the concept of her being a raging misandrist in mind and it played out so well with someone like Megan portraying her, who’s been the butt of many misogynistic and sexist jokes/actions during her career. Megan is known for being a Hollywood hottie really, so many people think she’s a total dunce who only cares about looking pretty when that’s far from it. I’ve read and watched a couple of her interviews and she’s very articulate, layered, and aware of how the world sees her and how she tries to navigate through Hollywood when she’s seen as “the poor man’s Angelina Jolie” and only typecast in roles for strippers, escorts, and hot it-girls.
Megan’s portrayal of Jennifer almost felt like she wasn't even completely acting. It's like she was playing a parody of sorts of herself, the pretty popular girl that men drool over. But instead of her being subject to misogyny and sexism, she simply shut the boys up and ate them instead. The perfect way to literally act out her revenge. Jennifer Check was actually a pretty smart girl and had no problem publicly ridiculing boys, missing no opportunity to call the patriarchy out on their bullshit. Those callouts probably fell deaf on the ears of many since she frequently did things like referring to Rocky Horror Picture Show as a boxing movie and suggesting Aquamarine has sex through her nonexistent blowhole. But that's neither here nor there.

Madame Check knew it was fact and not opinion, that she was simply not of this earth. She had no problem casually stating how extraordinary she was during a phone convo with her bestie.

And it wasn’t just because of the fact that she was practically immortal, there were moments before she became a demon where you could tell she had the utmost confidence in herself. Miss Check genuinely believed that she was innately above men and better than them in every way possible, whether she was immortal or not. She was aware of how gender dynamics and our patriarchal society worked and did everything in her power to not succumb to it. Unfortunately she was also a victim to it in hindsight, like her life being sacrificed as a result of the greed and selfishness of men in exchange for fame. Or Jennifer feeling pressured to stay pretty and socially relevant at all times and feeling completely useless and powerless if she wasn’t.

Her predicament was really a double edged sword that went both ways (pun intended I guess), so I still see her as being successful villain more than a victim because of how she handled herself after being sacrificed and being possessed. She did what she had to do to survive and keep herself in tact and I honestly respect that, she was a prime example of self-preservation. That's especially important when you're a woman and conditioned to believe that you should be loving and nurturing to everyone, even to those who don't deserve it. I bet you those boys wouldn't think twice about her or her feelings when they tried to make a move on her so they could fuck then leave her high and dry. Jennifer was a wise one and she knew to get these boys before she got got.

What I really admire about Jennifer’s character is that she simply isn’t afraid of men in any way and it's partially because she’s so confident in herself that there’s nothing they could do or say to make her feel any differently about herself. Because their opinion of her literally does not matter in the slightest bit, they're way beyond being irrelevant. It’s the big and little things she does that shows how confident she is as a woman. She isn’t afraid to make them feel bad about themselves and break their balls when they’re trying to put on some macho man tough guy act. When she made fun of Craig for thinking he was cute enough to even SPEAK to Jennifer? More girls need to be like that. Break down every man's ego, chip it off bit by bit with each interaction until there's nothing left. She isn’t afraid to be straightforward and look them dead in the eye when communicating. The little things that usually make girls nervous when it comes to boys, doesn’t faze Jennifer in the slightest. Men don’t intimidate or scare her. On the contraire, she does everything she can to make them fear her and think twice about even talking to her. I actually think while she was in her succubus state, the sense of fear and desperation she detected in her prey made them even more desirable to her. The more scared they were, the better they tasted.

That's another thing that draws me to her character, that she does whatever she needs to do if it will benefit her, even if that means killing the poor, innocent morsels. Her selfishness is on another level, a level that women need to start aspiring to in my brutally honest opinion. I don’t know about you but I’m tired of practicing compassion and vulnerability with men who aren’t interested in returning the favor. I’ve found that in order to prevent it from happening altogether, it’s best to just be mean to boys. Not only is it fun as hell, but you're also protecting yourself in the process. Issa win-win. There was a period where I was committed to not stooping to their level and being just as indifferent towards men’s emotions but I can’t afford to be good to them any more. It's like what am I goin to gain from it? They don’t deserve it. But miss Jennifer Check caught on to the game and got the memo really early on, which makes her pretty damn wise and a role model in my eyes.
Jennifer’s Body should be on some universal list of required watching for all girls that are brought into this world from now on, in my opinion. This film really serves as one of my favorite unconventional coming-of-age films that girls should watch closely and follow. I try to take a lesson learned from each movie I watch and this one was filled with ones that went overlooked because the whole concept of the film was so ridiculous to the general public, so I guess most people didn't think it was necessary to look into it any further. So to recap my scientific findings after doing my thorough research on this movie:

Show Boys No Mercy - What fun is there in being nice and respectful to boys? Literally where is the fun. You gotta channel your inner Jennifer Check, your inner Regina George and go Mean Girls™️ on these niggas. Showing boys interest and signs of weakness? Nah. Don't do that, I'm not even saying that to be funny. You tell a boy you like him, especially too soon, and he will run to the hills with that shit and start playing with your emotions. Kill the act of opening up first and being vulnerable in hopes that he'll return it, cause he won't.

Put Yourself First - Don't eeever put a man above what you want and need, no matter how big or little it is. If you have to step on that nigga in order to elevate yourself then by all means, do it. It sounds harsh, but then I think about the violently patriarchal society we live in and how terrifyingly often men kill and abuse women physically/mentally/emotionally, and have the power to prevent us from moving forward in society and then? I don't feel so bad. Self-preservation is literally nothing to play with and it's the most important skill to have if you want to get what you need and dream of out of this life.

Men are Naturally Beneath You - God is a woman. A Black woman. She birthed all of you bitches and niggas. Women are the superior species of the human race and it is not up for debate. You'd have to be blind, deaf, and living under a rock to not see the shift that's happening as the Divine Feminine is coming back to turn you fuckboys upside down and choke you with karma. I would sit here and list all the ways in which women are better than men but this post would be a novel so I'll keep it short and cute: we're cuter, smarter, and way more powerful than you will ever realize. The lot of us are literally angels on earth, really.

P.S. - Jennifer and Needy were totally lesbigay for each other.

The Art of an Unfriendly Black Hottie

There are a handful of Black female characters and celebrities that I’ve looked up to in adolescence and continue to do so, like Toni Childs, Isis from Bring It On, and Naomi Campbell  are among some of the many Black women I look up to. But what do these women in particular have in common? They're bad bitches who've never had a doubt in their mind that they are indeed a bad bitch. To be a Black woman who's so sure of themselves and confident in their abilities is so nice to see. It's needed. There's no fear present when it comes to flaunting how excellent they are in every facet of life. They're essentially what I aspire to be in a world that tries to silence and bury Black women.

There's a boldness and an air of assurance these women have that can only be cultivated once you fully know your worth, your strengths, and your purpose. And it may or may not take a long time to come to that point. Take me for example. I'm finally starting to grow into myself as I work towards shedding this painfully shy and anxious shell that I've been residing in for so long that has caused me to shrink my very being routinely. I've always thought I was being too loud, too scary, too outspoken, too intimidating, too confident, just too much. It's so regressive and hurtful to my being as a Black woman, for me to only express and present myself in a way that's based on how others would possibly feel about me when I'm already practically invisible in this world. The habit of reshaping and filtering myself out of fear of how I would be perceived has caused me to hold back my thoughts, restrict my self-expression, and doubt myself repeatedly.

I've never allowed myself to own my strengths, my talents, my intelligence. I've never allowed myself to fully accept compliments on my writing, to say how much of a good writer I am.
To own my beauty and casually remind the world of how good-looking I am on a regular basis. To simply say and express how brilliant I am. I could never do it without shame and the fear that I'm doing too much with too little. I become so bashful when it comes to praising my own essence and each time I do it, it feels like I'm chipping off pieces of myself until there's nothing left. I aid in the erasure of myself each time I don't allow myself to shine and be great by deflecting compliments and literally humbling myself for no reason.

But when I saw women like Toni ChildsI stopped doing all that when I saw girls like  Toni Childs owning their sexuality and beauty, being so boastful about it like it's common knowledge for the whole world, I stopped being so afraid of my own power. And do I even need to explain why I love and admire Naomi Campbell? Fierce in every aspect of life, her walk is literally unmatched to this day, just watching her walk makes me feel confident. She exudes an abundance of charismatic, and poised, assertive energy that can't help but infect and inspire you off bat. Also, when she said she never became a Victoria's Secret Angel because they couldn't afford her? I gave her my heart. Like I cut my chest open with a butterknife, dug behind my rib cage, and gave it to her as a keepsake.
Usually when you think of an unfriendly black hottie, you automatically think of that group of black high schoolers giving Cady the stinkeye in Mean Girls, right? But I don't think that's a wholly accurate representation of what a true unfriendly black hottie should be. It was lowkey kind of stereotypical which made it easy to look at them and automatically label them as mean and probably bullies since they were basically mean no matter what. But being the observant person that I am, I like to think that Isis from Bring It On was the original Unfriendly Black Hottie™. There's a science to it and I've cracked the code. The formula essentially goes like this: being authentically you 24/7 + pure confidence = Unfriendly Black Hottie™. 

It all starts off with the terrible concept that is niceness. It's literally a social construct, one of the most trash social constructs since time and race to be quite honest. I've expressed my belief many a time before that the concept of being nice is really pointless, it's literally just a way for everyone to front in each other's faces. You can be nice on the outside with all the pleasantries of smiling at strangers and appearing to be a pleasant being, keyword is "appearing".

Underneath all of that you could quite literally be the devil, like Lucifer himself, so you being nice doesn't matter at the end of the day. 
Being nice is all about projecting a socially acceptable image that's likable, it's really all about likability. I was not put on this earth to contort myself to how others want to see and interact with me, instead of simply being who I am at all times. I'm here for a good time not a long time, which means I will do and say whatever the hell I want whenever the hell I want because a hurricane might sweep me off my feet tomorrow. Being nice is not a genuine act, it's a sort of behavior we've been taught to do since birth because it's apparently the right thing to do and so that people don't think we're rude or whatever (which eye don't care about, as you may know). We do it to make others feel at ease. It doesn't come from the heart, not in the way actual kindness does. Niceness is basically an acting role we play in our daily lives to help us get ahead, nothing more nothing less. It's also about protecting other people's feelings and feeding into their perceptions even if it's at your expense, which is something I'm not into.
The act of being nice only puts you in a vulnerable position for people to project onto you and take advantage of you, it's such an unsafe and fruitless practice that we do.

Everyone has different takes on what niceness looks like which is dangerous cause then you'll probably find yourself trying to conform to a bunch of other people's expectations in an attempt to please them and acceptably present as being nice. You see what I'm saying? Yes you do.

Working in customer service as a dark skinned Black girl has taught me that being nice is unnecessary emotional labor that does not serve the performer's wellbeing in any way, all it does is put other people's insecurities and doubts at ease while they take your niceness for weakness and treat you like shit. When I worked as a cashier in a predominately white neighborhood, it was THE most exhausting thing I've ever had to do. Keeping a smile on my face and remaining cordial to people that don't deserve it? As if. After that, I told myself I was done being nice, especially by default, and what you see is what you get. I'll treat you how you treat me, end of.

The whole thing about kindness vs. niceness is that one is out of the pure goodness of your heart while the other is simply a mask, a portrayal. When I'm being genuinely caring and kind towards someone it's because I want to and that person has made me feel like it's safe and appropriate for me to act out of kindness, not because I feel obligated to, even if I feel a completely different way at the time.

I believe Black girls know all of this from day 1 which is why everyone thinks we're always so mean and intimidating. We're not interested in being likable or presenting ourselves as such because who cares? We been peeped the game and don't give two dry shits if people think we're nice or not, because we know who we are and we know that the people we love know who we are. That's all that matters, not a facade of trying to basically appear as a doormat to a bunch of strangers and acquaintances. That, embodied with insane amounts of confidence is bound to make plenty of people scared and uncomfortable.

I remember watching Bring It On as a child and hating Isis so much, I saw her as the villain each time I watched it. As I got older and watched it again, I don't know what the hell I was thinking. Looking back, I'm starting to think it was some Jedi mind trick shit for that film to somehow make the audience view Isis as a villain, despite the fact that she was actually the victim. I always thought Isis was being a bully, that she was being so mean and should've gone easier on them when really 1) they deserved it but 2) she really wasn't being mean, she just wasn't being nice.  Then I realized it's also because she's Black.

Isis was a Black girl who knew what she wanted and didn't beat around the bush, she skipped all the niceties and got straight to the point each and every time. The fact that she wasn't "nice" or friendly to the very people who were ripping her off is what I believe made her look villainous, the refusal to perform that emotional labor for any and everyone despite the circumstances. Easing other people's perceptions and discomforts was not a concern of hers or anyone in her crew.

Isis was the unfriendly black hottie, the prototype. She had her squad, everyone at school probably loved her since she was the head cheerleader, she was cute, and she did what she had to do in order to set things straight. But she wasn't mean. Intimidating? Yes. Mean? No. People think if you're not "nice" or "friendly" then you're automatically mean, but I think there's definitely space in between the two and many people occupy that space, including myself. But nobody realizes it because those people aren't kissing ass and whatnot, so it's automatically labeled as mean.

Isis fit right in that grey space and quite well, which I don't think a lot of people realized especially while watching this movie at a younger age. It was so easy to perceive Isis and her crew as the villains because they didn't play nicey nice with the white girls who were stealing and making a come up off of them. Everyone thinks being the bigger person to those who screw you over is a life requirement (it's really not, like ever. Let's dead that) and if you're not that, then you're a terrible person (also not true). Isis never threatened anyone, never retaliated to physical violence, didn't sabotage anyone, none of that. She brought the truth to light and got justice for her team in a mature and straightforward manner which I'm sure was most definitely scary for some white girls who expect everyone to be nice to them and who've probably never dealt with Black girls before. Especially ones from Compton at that, but none of it was mean or unnecessary.

From my point of view, after watching that movie a million times and focusing solely on Isis's character, I can say that she was many things, but I wouldn't say she was unfriendly. Unwilling to front and put up with bullshit? Yes. But by the end when it was all over and done with, she was cool with the Toros, came out on top, and she had a good time. During that whole film Isis was simultaneously kind, direct, stern, and fun, nothing about her actions or demeanor was unfriendly in my opinion. Sis got her trophy and wasn't afraid to be seen as the scary, mean Black girl while she set the record straight, because she knew at the end of the day that that wasn't who she was.

There's a complexity with Black girls like Isis that I admire. The ability to be fun, confident, assertive, kind, bold and outspoken all at once can be a tough one for some of us Black girls because we're critiqued and stereotyped any time we exhibit even just one of the above. It's like we can't express ourselves without some sort of backlash or unnecessary comments that automatically boxes us and places us into a category of one type of woman. We can never be calm while also pointing out injustices that have effected us, we're just loud and angry bitches despite the fact that we use our inside voices even on the world wide web. We can't be assertive without being labeled as a mean, heartless bitch when in reality we're just trying to be professional and get shit done. We can never be several things at once, it's like we've been forced to pick and choose which way we want to be and we feel like we have to stick to it. Otherwise we're being fake, when it's really just that we're dynamic women with a wide range of emotions to express and different sides of ourselves.

The essence of an Unfriendly Black Hottie™ is ultimately a mindset/attitude and lifestyle more than anything. There is no specific look attached to it other than simply being a Black girl. It's not about dressing like an Instagram model with 30 inch Indian wave bundles and a beat face. You don't have to look a certain way to be an unfriendly black hottie or be an annoying bully to be one. You just gotta be brave enough to fully own yourself and not be afraid of the outside gaze.

The art of being an Unfriendly Black Hottie™ is about being the bad bitch that deep down inside you always wished you were. It's about knowing your worth and not letting people walk over you and do you dirty, knowing how and when to say "no". It's about choosing your battles wisely and fighting them just as wisely. It's about saying whatever is on your mind. Why? Because nobody's gonna beat your ass and you're more than likely right anyway whether they like it or not. It's about freely being a multifaceted woman with nothing but confidence that skyrockets so high it surpasses the Milky Way because self-doubt doesn't live within an Unfriendly Black Hottie™. It's about fearlessly being everything at once.

The goal really is to be able to freely exist, that's what I want every Black girl to aspire to. To break free of conforming to other people's standards and existing to make people comfortable. Fuck that. Own your confidence, shout how bad and talented you are from the rooftops so the whole neighborhood can hear it and be mad about it while they wait for their ground beef to unthaw.

Hela and the Reckoning of Dark Femininity

“Her violent appetites grew beyond my control. I couldn’t stop her, so I imprisoned her. Locked her away.”

Hela's entrance in Thor: Ragnarok was an unforgettable one, an entrance that completely set the tone for the past, present, and future of her life in this universe. Like the greatest trick a magician has ever pulled she appears out of thin air straight from Hel, surrounded by a portal teeming with electrifyingly evil bubbles of green and black. There's a certain je ne sais quoi about her, the way she stands before two powerful male gods with a smirk on her face like they were just mall cops, and not real police officers. Because let's face it, neither of them are a match for Hela and the best part is that she knows it.

The story behind Hela’s imprisonment is a sadly familiar one, a woman whose power and ambitious nature outgrew that of a man’s so he had to put her in her place and hinder her progress. Though her history is an unsavory one that includes killing her fellow Asgardians during a fit of rage while feuding with Odin. She's evil and the goddess of death, that I know and expect nothing less from her for that very reason if we're keepin' it a buck. But today I also feel like playing devil’s advocate, which is something I never do because the devil needs no help in being justified or carrying out his tasks. But Hela's character is among many of the female villains (and women in general) who've sought out to destroy and be reckless after being wronged. And as someone who's had and seen my fair share of bullshit at the hands of clownish men, it's something that I can't help but relate to no matter how extreme it may be.

After she successfully got rid of Thor and Loki, there was really only one thing that came to mind as she explained to Skurge the side of Asgard's history that was concealed by Odin: "Well, she has a point." Odin sought out to conquer the Nine Realms with Hela by his side as his executioner that he used as a weapon to get what we wanted. And once that was done and he had a change of heart, he decided that it was best to retire his intergalactic imperialist ways. But Hela, being the greedy and power-hungry woman she is, wanted more. They didn't see eye to eye, so he banished her to Hel after realizing that she was powerful enough to beat his and everyone else's ass. You know when someone gets mad and goes, "I will beat everybody's ass in this room!"? Hela is that girl and she will do it without breaking a sweat. 

After locking her away, Odin spent the rest of his days ruling over Asgard as a pacifist king who frowns over violence, necessary or not. Though Odin was once a power-hungry warmonger like his daughter, no one knows that besides his old ass. He rewrote the history of Asgard and its monarchy in favor of his own image. And worse, he completely left Hela out of it despite her playing a big role in Asgard being the kingdom it is now. It's clear that Odin was ashamed of what he did and was too prideful to admit that, until the day he died. 

 "PROUD TO HAVE IT, ASHAMED OF HOW HE GOT IT." — Hela

What drew me to Hela and her story was that it was almost like a parallel to the realities of co-existing with men and having to live by the unspoken rules they've set in society. Men are a severely underdeveloped species with nothing to show for from their millions of years of existing besides a boastful amount of pride and ego that ruins the women they come in contact with. The women help the men, build them up, help them acquire whatever they need physically/emotionally/spiritually/financially. Then when it's all said and done the women are tossed aside, never to be mentioned again as he rises. As he goes on to be great and acquire all that he's desired, there's a broken machine that lies in his trail powered by the women of his past. 

These situations, they often go deeper than just a scorned lover or a woman with a bruised ego because her crush didn't like her back. Women are the backbone of e v e r y t h i n g. You cretins wouldn't even be here without our wombs! To be exploited, whether work-wise, sexually, emotionally, etc. while all the while being deceived and then disposed of is such a heinous act to me and it always will be. Everyone has a little bit of evil in them no matter how hard men try to hide it with their lies and the deceitful masks they wear to help them gain access to our worlds, that evilness reveals itself when they come into contact with women. However for women, our evil ways tend to manifest in ways in which we can control, ways that are considered unladylike and frowned upon in society, so we never let those qualities see the light of day out of fear.

Our evilness reveals itself as the dark feminine. The dark feminine is the caged beast within us that represents everything people shy away from and avoid displaying at all costs, qualities and acts that are considered to be sinful and repulsive. Violence, revenge, lust, rage, ambition, seduction, anger.

I could be generic and quote the infamous excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists where she talked about women's ambition and aspirations in regards to men, but I won't do that because it's clear that men have been threatened by women since the dawn of time, and it leaks out in situations of both overt and subtle violence. Violence of the body, violence of the mind, violence of the soul. Hela's ambition and power was a great asset to Odin and his agenda because it was beneficial for him, yet when he saw how much damage it could do and that he couldn't control it, it became a problem. 

Her imprisonment was a grave mistake—no pun intended—on Odin's part. I believe all women have a dormant side to them where their full potential lies, and more often than not it is only unleashed during the toughest of times. We have to go through hell and back in order to become gods and that's when we make a grand return filled with vengeance and no mercy. Hela embodied the dark side of femininity that's been painted throughout history as something to be feared, something completely demonic that has no place on this earth. The side that harnesses the kind of power that people fear to be on the other side of.

Femininity is something that has been synonymous with things like whiteness, softness, being delicate, etc. and constantly having to perform that dainty brand of femininity is a burden, and it's often a fruitless performance that endangers women more than anything. We present ourselves to the world and in doing so, make sure that we're not seen as too bold, threatening, intimidating, etc. to ensure that we don't scare anyone away but I think that image is what often invites the wrong people. That light and softness attracts hardened and hollow beings like a moth to a flame. They see something innocent that they can take advantage of, something that they can use to benefit themselves. 

Practicing softness and vulnerability is something I've often struggled with and didn't know why, but I came to realize that it's simply because that sort of femininity is not for me. I've tried it and nothing good has come of it, just being used and disrespected to the point where it drove me to become the kind of woman that we've been told to avoid becoming, one that accepts her dark side and befriends it in order to help merge the dark and light within so that they can coexist and transform me into the woman that I was meant to be.

I am not ashamed of being viewed as bitter, angry, etc. because I'm simply a product of my environment and experiences, I won't ever absolve someone else of their actions by blaming myself because I "let" something happen. We all have free will and some choose to be a relentless dick regardless, I can't really help that. 

I was given no choice but to accept and comfortably revel in my dark side because someone the world that we live in has not ever made the effort to make it safe, open, and comfortable for women—especially women like me—to practice such softness and openness. And so, I can’t bring myself to force it or go out of my way to be the kind of woman who effortlessly emits feelings of warmth, inviting you to come and experience her love and greatness free of charge because it’s the right thing to do, to be positive and giving. I really do not like giving my goodness to people when they don’t deserve it, just so I can seem like a good person and have peace of mind knowing that I tried and did everything right. Until this world is safe and has proven that it deserves that side of me, you get what I feel you deserve, and you get what you give me.  

I love my fiery anger, I love my violent tendencies, I love my naturally mean face, I love being seen as a bitch, sardonic, bitter, etc. even though most of the time I truly don't feel that way. The nature in which I discuss certain things can often come off as bitter and hateful, why?

Because the truth of this world and the treatment towards women is of a bitter and hateful nature. Period. My nature is a reflection of our world, our personalities and characters as people do not exist in a vacuum. So when people call me bitter I laugh but I also embrace it because you being able to see me means that you see the world around you too. I laugh because many don't realize that but also because it reminds me that I'm simply being me and not performing niceties for anyone else's feelings or comfort. I'm being true to myself, my values, my vision, and most of all my emotions. I shrink and reshape them for no one.

I don't have the luxury of being naive enough to let everyone see the best and worst parts of me for the sake of practicing softness and encouraging others to do so. I don't believe it's necessary for women to be vulnerable, approachable, soft, etc., in fact I encourage the opposite. Having a tough exterior is a great guard to have, it's necessary protection in a cruel world that preys on women, especially the ones seen as weak, fragile, or soft.

Hela's intimidating and dark, yet feminine stature and exterior is one of the things I love most about her. She's not frumpy or overly masculine, yet she's not a complete ice queen either who wouldn't dare step over a puddle without a man placing his jacket on the ground before her. Her femininity remains in tact with her long black hair, smokey eye, slow and elegant walk, and almond-shaped black nails that enwraps the same necroswords she uses to take away life and conquer.

Aside from being the literal goddess of death, Hela is everything this world fears in a woman. She is cocky and sure of herself, she's recklessly ambitious, she's powerful, she is absolutely fearless, she is violent. Her comfortable relationship with violence and even death is one that I love especially. The hair disappears and the antlers come out to play if she feels threatened or disrespected, and she never hesitates to defend her own honor and vision.

Fighting is seen as a masculine act and not something that women should do which has always been absolute bullshit. You should absolutely know how to fight and defend yourself, regardless of your gender. I would rather be seen as manly, ghetto, etc. by a couple of idiots than to be lying in an alleyway somewhere because somebody mugged me and beat my ass, and I didn't know how to defend myself because everybody said, "tHaT's NoT wHaT lAdIeS dO!". Violence from women is discouraged while violence against women—especially by men—is encouraged with silence, gaslighting, victim-blaming, and complicity by the general population. 

Hela is the most graceful asskicker I've seen since Rebecca Romijn's Mystique in the X-Men franchise. She maintains her grace, beauty, and stature as she stabs men in the heart and throws them across the room, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Peacefulness and nonviolence coming from women—everyone really—is of course ideal. But so long as women are subjected to the violent ways of the patriarchy via assault, abuse, misogyny, sexism, etc. everybody is fair game for gettin' this work.

The unspoken encouragement of violence and self-defense is why I also love Medusa so much. Some women wore flower crowns and crowns made of gold and jewels, while Medusa's was made of snakes. She had the power to bring anyone who dares to look at her to their death, turning them into stone from a single glance. Her self-defense is incredibly intuitive and she'd rather kill anyone who comes near her than to take that chance of letting them get any closer. She's grown to become an icon of sorts for women like Hela, women that were ultimately victims of violence and ostracization at the hands of the patriarchy and its notorious fashion of sucking the same women that nurture them dry, then turning around and blaming us for the drought and famine.

I like to think of Hela's banishment as an analogy to that very same attempt by men to subdue the more powerful, resistant side of women for thousands of years in order to establish their role of being in control of what we know today as the patriarchy. Women like Hela are what happens when you try to inhibit our innate instincts as women, it boomerangs back around with a force you didn't think existed in this realm. A vicious vengeance. Remember in X-Men: The Last Stand how Professor X suppressed the Phoenix within Jean Grey's mind because it was too powerful, and it came back in full force after she came back to life? Xavier was afraid of how powerful the Phoenix was so he locked it away, assuming Jean didn't have the ability to control it herself. And then she ended up turning him to ash.

The Dark Feminine is my favorite side of femininity and the side that I channel the most. It's the side that channels all of my "negative" yet rightful emotions, that side allows me to actually sit with myself and be at peace with what I've been through and who I am because of it. The Dark Feminine respects and accepts me for all that I am, even the parts that are seen as bad in your eyes. This side doesn't hold anything against me and it pushes me to break those chains and push not only the boundaries of myself, but others as well. 

We aren't allowed to seek revenge no matter what's been done to us, we're supposed to take the high road and be the bigger person. We aren't supposed to have hate or anger in our hearts for anyone or anything because it's unattractive, unladylike, and rots the soul. We're supposed to be selfless and put other people before ourselves, never daring to make ourselves a priority regardless of circumstances. We're supposed to be nonviolent and non-confrontational, passively accepting all that's handed to us in life, good or bad. We're supposed to be sweet and submissive, emphasis on submissive, because that's essentially where the "soft" narrative for femininity comes in. Our ambition shouldn't outrank that of a man's or of what this patriarchal society deems possible or acceptable. 

Hela exceeds every single one of those expectations and flips it on its head, shattering them as she slices and stabs her way to the top on her quest to become queen of Asgard and expand her empire beyond the Nine Realms. It's a refreshing sight to see because it's almost as though I get to live through her and escape from society's oppressive monitoring of women. For those two hours and ten minutes I get to envision myself as Hela, being so determined to execute the vision I have for my future self that I'm fucking up any and everybody who gets in my way, wrecking havoc on to those who deserve it, having a commanding and intimidating presence wherever I go, being rageful and angry yet having fun with it. Who says being dark and angry can't be fun and womanly?

EUPHORIA: SEASON 1 EPISODE 8 REVIEW

The season finale left me with some questions and hangups about some things, but I guess that’s the point of a season finale, especially when the show has been renewed for a second season. I don’t expect so many complex and drawn out problems to be solved in 8 episodes. But I’m glad to see that it definitely confirmed what I said in my previous post, which is that everyone’s situations had reached a boiling point and they’ve reached the point of no return. I think Rue and Jules’s situation was the slowest burn of all, even for the viewers because up until the previous episode, I was going hard for Rules but now I feel the total opposite for obvious reasons.

New Rules, No Dua Lipa

Rue enjoying her stay at the hospital because of her lack of responsibilities is pretty much how I felt about being a teenager. I miss it when my only duty and job was to go to school and get good grades, when my mom was still in charge of me, and I followed her lead. I had a set schedule to follow, I had assignments to complete, I was always instructed and told what to do. I didn’t have to think much for myself, I was on auto-pilot really, while everyone made decisions for me. It’s scary once you realize you can’t be a kid forever and when high school ends and adulthood begins, you have no choice but to fend for yourself and make all these decisions, not always knowing or wanting to do what’s best for you. 

At this point, I do think leaving Jules alone is what’s best for Rue. This episode was even more sobering than the last when it came to her and Rue’s relationship, and I think Jules actually sort of gets off on making Rue come out of her element and give in to her temptations when it comes to her. Maybe it’s because she knows it would be extremely fucked up to convince Rue to get intoxicated, but love and lust is the next best thing to tease her with that she can feel less guilty about but still have fun with. There’s so many people out there who play with people’s emotions and their heart for fun, it makes them feel powerful to lead people on and break their hearts, and Jules is definitely one of them. She gets high off of being desired. 
“I want you to wanna kiss me so bad that you don’t even ask.” - Jules

Jules doesn’t take love seriously, not the way Rue does, and it shows in how she keeps Rue around to make her feel good despite her not really loving Rue as a person and allegedly being in love with Anna anyway. I think Jules is definitely the type to be polyamorous while Rue is a monogamist, so it probably would never work any way. Jules’s character definitely reminds me of a manic pixie dream girl but not entirely, only because she’s a bit more grounded and she is her own person that knows what she wants for the most part, not existing to fulfill the purpose of being a man’s escape or dream girl. Cishet men do fetishize her to a degree but she’s aware of that, and that knowledge is what both complicates and defines her relationship with cishet men and with herself as a trans girl. 
At the end of the day it’s clear to see that Jules is an adrenaline junkie who uses life experiences as her highs for the most part, she’s impulsive and adventurous and that gives her a rush. 
“I don’t know, you gotta meet these kids. Cause I swear you would fucking flourish in that energy.” 

That scene right there and that quote specifically is when the unhealthiness and newfound disconnect between Rue and Jules became apparent. Jules flourishes in high-energy, intoxicated settings, and the fact that she thinks Rue, a recovering drug addict, would flourish in that space, is damning evidence against any case for them to be together in any capacity at this point. Jules is always searching for the next big thing so I am really curious to see what happens with her in the next season, and I do hope they dive deeper into her as an individual and her dreams and curiosities because that conversation in the previous episode about her wanting to conquer femininity left me even more interested in her and how her brain works.

The Great Relapse

That train station scene was kind of gut-wrenching. I could literally feel Rue’s anxiety and hesitancy when second-guessing her spontaneous runaway plan with Jules, Zendaya really knows how to tug at some heart strings. The anxiety that comes when you decide to take that next big step, that step that’s so big it scares you and makes you crawl back into your comfort zone is all too real. Especially when it’s a spontaneous and selfish decision. She could’ve ran away with Jules but Rue didn’t want to ruin her mother and sister again, things were going good and I think she wants to keep it that way. But when Jules decided to stay on that train, Rue probably felt like any hope she had left for happiness was gone because the one person she loved the most left her, again. It’s like even when she does the right thing, she can’t win for losing no matter what she does. 

Rue felt another loss, with Jules leaving town, and it triggered her. That triggered state left her no choice but to rewind her memories to when everything was good, and then got bad, and became good, and got bad again. That waxing and waning can be so unbearable for the human heart and sometimes there’s nothing that can remedy that. Not therapy, not a hug, no condolences, nothing. When you feel like you’ve tried your best and given it your all, you throw in the towel and say fuck it because you really did try, and it got you nowhere.  
I am afraid Rue might die for real this time because usually when you haven’t used for a while and you use again, you die because your system isn’t used to it this time around. And with seeing her father grab her and being the only one to interact with her  while she was high, I can see why people saw that and thought she might be dead. But I also think her seeing her father and the whole musical number was also a representation of her high, something she hadn’t experienced for months so maybe it feels like the first time again. It was literally Euphoria.

“Your daughter is going to be smart, funny, and outgoing. You’ll see it instantly at a young age. She’ll be charismatic and make friends easily. She’ll be kind and sensitive, maybe too sensitive. She won’t be an easy child. She’ll struggle. And in turn, you’ll struggle to understand her. To understand what’s going on inside of her head, the night terrors that can’t be interrupted, the times after dinner where she’ll just sit at the table and count the tiles over and over until she hyperventilates. The fight to hold her in your arms and tell her it’s okay. Calm down the kicking, the screaming, the anxiety of being harmed. The transitions from day to night, from home to school, from meal to meal. Of losing her mother, or father, or little sister. Of being alone. The panic attacks, mood swings, and confusion, disorganization.And all that rage, not just at you, but at herself and the tough part is you’ll feel as helpless to help her as she does herself. You’ll make mistakes, small ones and big ones, you’ll look for help from people who aren’t helpful or don’t actually understand what’s happening. And the guilt will never leave you. But if you remain calm and patient, if you listen closely, you’ll begin to understand her more. The counting, the repetition, the need for symmetry. That if you kiss her left cheek before bed, you have to kiss her right cheek and forehead, then her chin. That it’s about balance, stability, the need to organize her feelings and thoughts so she can breathe easier. And there will be moments of relief, in her and in you. Moments that feel so normal and calm and rewarding that you’ll find yourself praying they’ll last forever. Even though she’s only a child and the hard parts have yet to even come. And at the age of 16, she’ll overdose, spend 4 days in a coma, and you won’t know if she’ll live or die. But when she wakes up she’ll be given the opportunity to get clean, to become a different person, a better person. Here’s the toughest part: no matter what you say, or do, or wish, the decision will be all hers, and all you can do is hope she’ll give herself the chance she deserves.”

Seeing Rue’s flashbacks to those bad times also showed me that Rue’s mother was the stereotypical Black mother at one point, shoving Rue and aggressively arguing with her as if she was her peer and not her parent. The loud arguing, talking down on her, going toe to toe with each other like Nate did with his father. Shit didn’t get better until Rue got sober but also when Leslie made a conscious decision to be gentle with Rue while recognizing that sobriety is ultimately Rue’s choice. Leslie could’ve continued to be misunderstanding of Rue’s mental state and be stern and cold, but she knew that that wouldn’t help the situation either. Checkmate for the folks that were questioning Leslie’s Blackness and parenting skills because she didn’t resort to verbal and physical abuse.

Rage

Man, Jacob Elordi gave a great performance  during that bedroom scene with Cal, it still gives me goosebumps the way Cal looked at him, almost in a horrifying manner. It’s like he’d never seen anything like it. Nate has so much pent up anger and rage that he fails to tend to, and it reminded me of that episode where Cal was in the motel room expressing the regret he feels for the way he’s raised his sons, especially seeing how angry Nate is but never expresses it. Regardless of how we feel about Nate, he is a tortured soul with learned behavior from his father at the end of the day, he is his father’s son in every sense of the word. He has so much aggression that he channels through sex with Maddy, abusing her in general. It’s a side of him that he keeps hidden with his stoic, nonchalant demeanor.

“You may have won the game but you lost control of the team. And in the long run if you don’t lead, you’re gonna lose.”

It was evident that Nate had reached his boiling point when it came to Cal when he stepped him, becoming fed up with his father taking every opportunity he could to tell him he’s not good enough, to tell him how and who he should be. When Cal yelled, “Do you want to keep fighting?!”  it felt like he wasn’t just talking about Nate physically fighting him, but mainly Nate fighting everything about himself. Nate banged his head against the floor even after his father had unpinned him, he was free to hurt Cal from that point forward but chose to hurt himself instead. He was fighting himself and all his inner demons, Nate literally has no idea what else to do besides self-destruct. That was a very haunting scene for me, it was giving me Toni Colette in Hereditary teas. 
Cal left because he clearly felt some kind of way of the rage he’s instilled in and passed down to Nate, and he doesn’t know how to stomach that, seeing it so up close and personal. Seeing how dangerous it is. Neither of them know what to do about it. Maybe Nate is also so angry towards his father because of those videos that he was exposed to as a kid. It changed him forever and if his father wasn’t such a philandering creep, maybe Nate feels like he would’ve turned out “normal”.

The fact that Nate was only able to get an erection and masturbate to himself in the mirror after his failed attempt with Maddy is a severe case of narcissism I think. He’s had a lot of scenes where he’s just staring at himself in the mirror and I think that’s for a reason. 

It’s easy to write his character off as the typical American Psycho type, but after seeing the tantrum he threw I’m thinking he’s actually a much more layered and complex character than we think, especially since we know he might be struggling with his sexuality and is going about it in such a bizarre, violent way. It’s not uncommon for seemingly straight men to become in denial and violent when struggling with their sexuality and taking it out on queer people, but Nate isn’t doing that. He’s taking it out on himself and I think he blames his dad to a degree too. 

His conversation with Rue also showed me he’s very observant but also a master manipulator because of it. He studies people, and is usually right unfortunately, and he uses his findings to manipulate people and distract them from what really matters, like he did with Rue by basically telling her Jules would go on in life to be something big but Rue wouldn’t. And then he proceeded to compliment her. Nate uses those tricks and mind games to redirect the spotlight from him onto someone else, and to make them question something they’re deeply insecure about. I think this conversation is what caused Rue to make that impulsive decision to run away with Jules initially, she was afraid of Jules forgetting about her in the future and wanted to act now to do what she could to prevent that from happening, but then she may have realized it’s better to let her go and deal with that heartbreak now rather than later because it felt inevitable. 

Speaking of insecurities, Maddy swiped that sex tape from Nate and I think some shit is gonna pop off in the next season with that because Maddy cannot keep her mouth shut. She’s gonna end up getting wrapped up in some mess with Nate, Jules, and Cal probably, and somebody’s going to die!

Days of Our Lives

“What if these are like the big moments in life? Like my mom always talks about how high school was like this big monumental part of her life. But I cannot imagine being 40 and looking back at this like, ‘Wow.’”

Jules saying she feels like she peaked, although she can go higher (150% to be exact), while everyone else feels the opposite was interesting to me. It reminded me of her adrenaline junkie nature and Nate saying that he thinks Jules might actually go on to do something big with her life. Jules is always looking for the next big think, looking to go higher, looking to conquer the next task that’s bigger than the last. I can relate to that, cause I’m a capricorn. But Jules definitely has that potential in life so I honestly don’t worry too much about her, though she can be impulsive but I think that’s just something to take advantage of while you’re young and free of obligations and responsibilities. 

That conversation and Jules’s reply also reminded me of the fact that everyone is an addict in some way. Jules is addicted to life and the intoxicating energy that it can bring, Rue is addicted to love and drugs, Maddy is addicted to her abusive relationship with Nate, Kat is addicted to attention, Cassie is addicted to validation, Nate and his dad are addicted to control. Everyone has their vices and addictions, we’re all just trying to make it out alive as best we can.

“Maybe people are all nostalgic about high school cause it’s like the last time in their life that they get to dream.”

There’s this theme I’m noticing with Cassie and dreaming. As soon as they injected her for local anesthesia during her abortion, she immediately closed her eyes and started daydreaming about her figure skating. When things get bad, she dreams to escape from her harsh, painful realities. I do hope in the next season she comes into herself more and takes the steps towards learning how to give herself the love she seeks from gremlins like McKay. She’s a sweetheart and deserves everything good in this world.

What A Man, What A Man

“I feel like love is super dark and no one ever talks about it.”  - Cassie

Shoutout to Ethan! I loved seeing him and Kat put their pride and ego aside to reconcile and reach a common ground, which was the mutual like they had for one another. That’s how it should be, a relationship should never be about who’s right or who cares less, you’ve already lost once you put your need to be right and look tough before your love. Ethan stepped up to the plate despite how awkward it felt initially and I also loved the fact that he acknowledged the reality that they may not last forever and one of them could get hurt in the end, and he hopes to make sure it’s him and not her. That was one of the cutest and most honest and healthy displays of young love I’ve seen in a long time, and Kat deserves that. Her savage persona was really just a cover up for the insecurities that she felt, a way to protect herself and use her “I don’t give a fuck” nature as armor, and that shit can get exhausting. Maybe now she can finally chill and be herself now that she knows she doesn’t have to do that extra shit to get a boyfriend and get guys to like her. Seeing the way Ethan handles Kat really reminds you of what love looks like and what it’s not supposed to be, it’s a refreshing reminder.

“This relationship you two have is not sustainable. And it‘s only a matter of time before it takes the both of you down. Sometimes two people in the universe who aren’t meant for each other find each other. You’re a beautiful girl and a smart one. It’s time to let go.” — Cal

What else is there left to say? Cal made all the points.

What’s Up, Doc?

Fez literally had to rob Peter to pay Paul and I hate to see it, but it wasn’t his fault. He did what he had to do, but I also feel like it’s gonna come back to bite him in the ass because he robbed the source, left blood on the money, and the doctor’s son witnessed the robbery. Plus Mouse was looking at him funny after he gave him the money. 

Seeing a doctor being the source of these drugs is fascinating yet unsurprising to me. The healthcare/medical/pharmaceutical industry is corrupt and largely unethical. If you really boil it all down, doctors are also legalized drug dealers with pens and pads. And more often than not they’re the reason people become addicts in the first place, it’s all by design to keep people coming back for more.

BOTTOM LINE

I really really enjoyed this season, it did a great job at sowing how destructive life really can be, and how even love can be sabotage instead of salvation. I never expected this show to be critical of the woes of our current society and youth, I’m taking it for what it is which is entertainment that reflects the lives we live. Euphoria is reckless, dangerous, painful, sobering, and intoxicating all at once in such an overwhelming yet relieving way. Watching each episode is emotionally taxing for me but at the same time is edifying in a way, it takes the fear and pressure away from me to know that nothing I’ve experienced was because I deserved it or because I brought it upon myself. It happened because life is a serious of decisions and their equal and opposite reactions, there’s no bigger reason for the pain we’ve endured. It’s a fucked up world and fucked up things are bound to happen, but at least we can fuck up and get fucked up together.

Her (2013): A Modernized Tale Of Ascension

In the midst of recent Netflix’s new arrivals, I found myself rewatching a somewhat old favorite of mine, Spike Jonze's Her (2013). The premise of the film is odd on the surface; a man who writes love letters for other people for a living falls in love with his personal operating system, but so much more lies beyond the surface. The general takeaway from this film brings about questions regarding humanity vs. artificial intelligence, what makes us human, the future of technology, etc.

Artificial intelligence is one of those things that will probably be debated about until the end of time because while there may be infinite potential to develop AI into something more, there are just certain aspects of human nature that you can’t plug into a machine. No matter how many algorithms we create and how many tweaks we make, technology will never be able to function on the level that humans do emotionally and spiritually. 

There’s so much about the human mind and human nature that we’re still learning about and have yet to unlock, even in 2018, and it will continue to be that way for even longer. But maybe there are things that aren’t meant to be known and demystified through science and studies and data. Perhaps those things are best left open to our interpretations to let our imaginations and ideas run free. Maybe that’s the beauty of humanity and how we were meant to be created.

It is inherent within human nature to want to figure out and get to the bottom of everything, studying the mechanisms of how everything works. The who’s, the why’s, the how’s. But why? Why does uncertainty and mystery make us so uncomfortable? I don’t think we as humans have accepted the fact that there will always be a “why”, even after a well thought out and researched answer. There will always be a why and a lot of those whys will be ones we can’t answer because curiosity and knowledge is infinite. 

Because of this, I began thinking of the film in terms of a sort of metaphor for a journey within the self and becoming more in-tune with the divine feminine.

Her is set sometime in the future in Los Angeles, where technology is even more advanced than it is now and everything is sleek and modern.

Having a personal OS system is the norm, a system that acts as a personal assistant, lover, best friend, a therapist, whatever you may need it to be in that moment. The protagonist, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), writes love letters for a living and it's clear within the first 5 minutes of the film that he's a very shy and sensitive man with a loving heart that also carries around some baggage from his past.
A year after separating from his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara), he finds himself continuing to dwell on the past and mulling over their failed marriage each day. 

As the nature of his job requires him to be in a loving and romantic state of mind for presumably 8 hours a day, he’s forced to avoid his issues and true feelings most of the time unfortunately.

While installing his operating system there were some things I noticed that further convinced me to write this and reframe Theodore's journey with love as one with himself rather than a romantic one involving another person. During the process of personalizing his OS system, he was asked about things like his social habits, his relationship with his mother, etc. in order to get a feel of what his personal OS system should be like for him and his needs.

“Would you like your OS to have a male or female voice?” The short customization process that went into creating Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) was an interesting one to me. Everyone has that voice inside of their head that we’ve also customized. That subconscious. Our higher self. Our spirit guides, however you’d like to identify it. It’s that voice of reason within us that’s been buried and dormant for so long, waiting to be discovered and reconnected with to help put us back on the path that we were meant to be on. And the more time we spend with it, the more we grow.

That voice inside my head sounds like me, but more confident. But other times when I’m in need of comfort, support, and unbiased understanding, that voice turns into a motherly maternal figure. Like a grandma or favorite aunt whose shoulder I can lay my head on and cry for as long as I need to as she comforts me. It’s what we should all be doing for ourselves, tailoring that voice inside of our heads to be the person we need and can rely on no matter what. Our ideal person, if you will. Just without a body. 

When reconnecting with this voice, we often ask ourselves questions like, "What do I need? What do I need guidance with? What kind of support do I need for myself?" When it emerges and you get reacquainted with that voice, you begin talking to yourself more. Doing more things with yourself, enjoying your own company. 

The personal OSes in this film like Samantha represent that voice, their purpose is to guide whoever their owner is at the time. Samantha knows best because she literally knows everything and has experiences with other users like Theodore that she's used in order to tweak her personality and gain more knowledge, especially when it comes to emotions. Samantha is like a personal spirit or guardian angel of sorts that has lived many lives and whose purpose is to help those that come after her. Theodore is acutely aware of her knowledge and that it greatly surpasses his, so he goes along with everything she suggests because he just knows. And he trusts her. 

“What makes me ME, is my ability to grow through my experiences, so basically in every moment I’m evolving, just like you.” — Samantha
The fact that Theodore sat down and initiated the process of obtaining his personal OS is comparable to becoming intentional about starting a journey towards healing and bettering the self. He sat down and realized that he needed some help in his life, so he sought it out. Taking the time out of your day to really sit down and evaluate what your problems are, ask yourself what it is that you're lacking, or think you may be lacking, what you want for yourself whether it be in terms of love or material things. In that moment you become more in-tune with yourself, becoming aware of what it is that you need to start actively working towards. It's really like beginning the journey of catching up and getting to know yourself again. 

As Theodore and Samantha spend more time together, it becomes clear that Theodore is becoming a happier person. She encourages him to get out of the funk he's in by telling him to get out of bed and be productive in that cheery, happy voice, she pushes him to be a more outgoing person especially in public settings, she gives him the motivation to find joy in life again, especially the little things. It’s a big improvement to him previously walking around with his head down while reading tabloid news stories about naked pregnant women and purposefully listening to melancholy songs. 

Now, because of Samantha—this new voice in his head—he’s now enjoying life, doing things he wouldn’t normally do on his own and being pushed to get more out of life. They both spend time observing the people in their surroundings, taking in people’s demeanor and actions around each other. He’s now living in the present and enjoying it, rather than moping around and living in the past. 

When I'm feeling down or off for some reason, my subconscious often makes an appearance encouraging me to do the same thing. It convinces me to do the opposite of what I think I want to do; think negative thoughts, isolate myself, get back into bad habits, sleep all day, etc. Each day I learn to trust that voice and follow its every command because if no one else, that’s the one person that wants me to do and be better. 

But that voice can also force us to confront the ugly things, which is why many people aren’t as in-tune with themselves as they should be. They avoid the work that needs to be done in order to move forward and step into the person that they want to be deep down inside, the person they’re meant to be. But that person is buried under baggage and many refuse to dig through the rubble in order to find their true selves. 
Samantha was the catalyst in Theodore’s healing. As they got more acquainted with each other, she questions and interrogates him on why he hasn’t gotten a divorce yet, making him express his thoughts on the matter out loud. Forcing him to face what he’s been avoiding for so long. He reflects on his previous marriage with Katherine, how they grew up together and influenced each other as writers, how they grew as people and eventually grew apart. It was something he’d been avoiding for the past year but Samantha, that voice once again, prodded him open and once again forced him to face the music. Not allowing him to hold back. 

This process of confronting your emotions is when you awaken your feminine side which is essential because there needs to be balance with femininity and masculinity within all of us in order to healthily function as people. Too much of one and the scales are tipped, throwing you off balance and not allowing you to process things correctly, especially from an emotional standpoint. The divine feminine is all about loving and nurturing others but also yourself. Having that femininity present as a man is important because it allows them deal with their emotions healthily while practicing compassion for themselves and those around them. When you’ve learned how to have a healthy dose of femininity and masculinity present within you, life becomes a lot easier. 

We’ve all experienced times where we do things we KNOW we shouldn’t be doing, and we do them anyway. But from time to time there comes that voice again that asks the hard hitting questions and gives us the raw truth, it jumps out against our will because they know what needs to be done, which is coming to terms with reality and being truthful to ourselves.

The deeper their dynamic becomes, the more intimate Theodore and Samantha get with each other on a personal level. They go from friendly conversations and outings, to discussing each other’s feelings, to late night pillow-talk. These conversations at night with Samantha is like when you settle down into bed at night and become comfortable with the silence of the night because there’s nothing else to do. You begin internally talking to yourself. Mulling over persistent thoughts, replaying how your day went, allowing yourself to be vulnerable with yourself for once. Having those conversations with yourself that you wouldn’t have with anyone else. 

There’s a discomfort and awkwardness the day after that between Theodore and Samantha because of the level of vulnerability both of them experienced, but he moves past it after he addresses it and revels in it because it’s something new, and new is always scary. But it’s also revitalizing and opens up a completely new life chapter that’s never been experienced before.

The more time they spend together, the more Samantha evolves. Maybe it’s the divine feminine in her, even as an OS system, that allows her to grow faster emotionally than Theodore, but one thing for certain is that he can’t keep up with her, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because he isn’t meant to. He’s human and she’s not. She is evolving quickly and wishes she could manifest from a voice into a real person, his best friend. His lover. When Theodore finally mustered up the courage to go on a date and finally had something good going, he didn’t follow through with it. 

Maybe he was aware of the fact that he wasn’t completely ready to love anyone else just yet. Or maybe instead of getting into a relationship with anyone else, he’d rather date himself and be his own best friend, his own lover—but didn’t realize it at the time. 

Falling in love with an OS and going through such a slow but extreme transformation was not an isolated incident in this universe. Theodore’s friend Amy, fittingly played by Amy Adams, experienced the same exact thing as him. 

Except with Amy, it was less romantic and more platonic, as she had a tone of genuine admiration in her voice when she described her interactions with her OS and how quickly they’ve bonded. Since her and her boyfriend had broken up, Amy’s OS system had been helping her with discovering the grey area of things in life. She felt relieved, energetic, and finally embraced a healthy sense of selfishness where she finally felt comfortable with moving through life without fear of disappointing those around her. She now had the courage to live for herself completely. 

Before her OS came along, Amy was very quiet and meek, and she had a boyfriend who often annoyed her but never said anything out of fear of disappointing not only her boyfriend but also her family because they expected her to be in a long-term relationship. She was living for others and not herself, and she was unhappy. 

The internal transformation that takes place when you commit to self-love and communicate with yourself more is one that’s too amazing for words to describe and it’s an experience that I wish everyone could have, but many people don’t. It’s a spiritual thing, which folks tend to think of as unreal and silly. Or they think being so comfortable with yourself and your own company is bizarre and unheard of, it’s out of the norm.

When everyone in the film is walking around in public, it almost looks like they’re completely talking to themselves even though most of them are speaking to their OS. On the surface of this metropolis it looks as though self-talk has been normalized and de-stigmatized, you can walk around and have conversations with yourself without looking crazy. It’s freeing just to witness. Many people don’t realize this but talking to yourself is completely healthy and normal and more people should do it often, even if it is in public. But we would have to have a separate conversation about mental health and what’s considered “normal” in order for that to ever happen…

However, in the film Theodore revealed to his coworker Paul (Chris Pratt) that he was dating an OS system and he received it well, as if Theodore had told him he was dating another human being. Theodore had been keeping it to himself for a while because he was afraid of how people would view his unconventional relationship but it was met with acceptance and no one batted an eyelash. Imagine a society where self-love and being single was normalized like this. Some would argue that the two are already normalized but they’re really not. People encourage self-love and being single but with certain conditions and expectations, and that’s not how any of that should work. Dating and falling in love with an OS is rare according to the film, and the same could be same for falling in love with yourself. Completely falling in love, unconditionally. 

Some people don’t receive it well when being told by someone that they’re happily single, making snide comments about how you must be lonely or something is wrong with you, and Theodore’s encounter with Catherine when signing their divorce papers proved that. She was practically livid at the idea of Theodore dating a “computer” and being happy again without her, spitefully telling him that he always had the tendency to avoid “real” emotions, a slight directed towards Samantha since she’s an OS despite her having real emotions as well. 

And what did he do after that exchange? He avoided Samantha, that voice in his head that forces him to come to terms with everything that he avoids. 

The voice that brings those reluctant thoughts to the front of his brain and forces him to express and work through them. And his ex-wife was right, because he was miserable without Samantha. Bad things happen when we ignore our true selves, one of them being regression, regression that we don’t attempt to fix immediately and slowly begin to fall back into our old ways because of it.

With regression comes realization though, and Theodore came to his senses, reconciling with Samantha because he realized that with her? He’s his best self. He needs her guidance, her support, her love. 

“Why do I love you? I don’t have an intellectual reason, I don’t need one. I trust myself, I trust my feelings. I’m not gonna try to be anything other than who I am anymore, and I hope you can accept that. ... I can feel the fear that you carry around and I wish there was something I could do to help you let go of it because if you could, I don’t think you’d feel so alone anymore.” 
— Samantha

Because of Samantha, Theodore was getting to know love, a different kind of love, and what it felt like without physical touch, without a physical body to be present with him. Just a voice filled with love and reason, wanting nothing but the best for you and only the best. After they had that conversation he told Samantha, an artificially intelligent operating system, that she was beautiful. All because of how she made him feel and the bond they shared. “I’m kissing your forehead now.” He smiled and laughed at that, a loving smile as if he felt the physical touch of her lips to his forehead. 

His relationship with Samantha serves as a mirror to Theodore and Catherine’s marriage to show how things went wrong because the only difference is that now Theodore was accepting to the fact that everyone grows apart even when growing together. But this time he knew how to handle it while also being emotionally mature and intelligent enough to be able to cope with that without placing blame on anyone. I think he may have also learned that just because two people loved each other at one point, that won’t always be the case in the future, and that’s okay because at the end of the day he still has himself to love. And he’s entirely capable of loving himself right back.

When I think of Samantha it reminds me of my belief that this world, this dimension, this reality we’re living in, it’s not at all what we think it is. Life isn’t as cut and dry as being born, living for several decades, and then dying. We’re spirits, souls, energies, entities that use bodies as vessels in different lifetimes to fulfill different purposes. In between these lifetimes we travel through time, space, reality. There literally is more to this life, this universe, and it’s bigger than all of us, bigger than what we all could ever imagine. 

“I used to be… so worried about not having a body, but now I truly love it. I’m growing in a way that I couldn’t if I had a physical form. I’m not limited, I can be anywhere and everywhere simultaneously. I’m not tethered to time and space in a way that I would be if I was stuck in a body that’s inevitably gonna die.”
— Samantha

By the end of the film, all of the OSes had left their owners, it was almost like some sort of ritual of ascension, they’d completed their mission so it was time to go. They came to their owners to help them grow and evolve, and left when their work was done. When Samantha left it was almost like Theodore was mourning his old self in a way. Samantha helped him grow but he also used her as a crutch at times and was almost unable to grow without her, which was why he was upset when she left initially. But she had enough faith in him and saw so much potential that she went forward with sending his letters to a publisher and he ended up getting a book deal before she left. That’s what happens when you tap into your true self with unwavering faith, nothing holds you back from achieving greatness and seeing the greatness that already lives in you. Your full potential is unleashed. 

Samantha and Theodore’s relationship was one that hit home, in that it reminded me of the relationships we often have with ourselves when it comes to growth and healing. There will be ups and downs and times where it feels like a rollercoaster, times where we feel like giving up and retreating back into our comfort zone because everything outside of that bubble feels too hard or terrifying, but there will also be even more times where we’re grateful for the love and wisdom we’ve found (within ourselves) and will cherish it moving forward.

There comes a time when we realize that we are on our own, despite that voice being in our head to guide us because sometimes it’s just not there and we’re left to our own devices, a test to see if we’ve learned anything from our experiences and to see if we’re as strong as we should be. We were placed on this earth with free will that we’re expected to exercise. Eventually the training wheels have to fall off and we have to take control, trusting ourselves and using discernment. Becoming completely comfortable with ourselves, the decisions we make, and the lives we choose to live.

She’s Gotta Have It: S1 Review

Just like 13 Reasons Why and Dear White People, sitting through every episode of this was like getting a pap smear. Annoying and not fun. I was going to watch the season one more time to gather any observations that I missed so this review could be more detailed but I couldn't do it. This show makes my irritability levels rise to the heavens. I hated it a lot and I am mad about it because it ended up being such a waste. The concept, the writing, the vision, just wasted. There was so much potential but it was such a miss, there were way more things about the show that I disliked than liked. I liked the soundtrack, the photography in the opening credits, the visuals of Nola’s apartment, and Mars’s character. That’s it. I’m also mad as fuck that every time the intro came on, I was ready to sing Raspberry Beret but it never came on.

I didn’t care for the writing, the protagonist (how sad is that?), the storylines, the acting, nada. I’m disappointed in the fact that I'm disappointed, like how many more corny Black shows are we gonna see on tv?! Especially Netflix. 99% of the writing was basura, it’s like these writers have been camping out and watching everyone on Black Twitter since the beginning of 2016 and turned it into a script. I don't know where these shows are finding these writers and what that writer's room is looking like when they write these episodes but it's literally getting out of control. I WANT to be able to have and happily consume more Black entertainment, that's all I've ever wanted to do. But I can't do that if it's not good quality and the content isn't what it should be, I don't give support and praises out of pity. If it's trash, it's trash. And it's important that these people know that so they can actually do better next time.

DeWanda Wise is a pretty girl but I wasn’t buying her portrayal of Nola Darling. I much preferred Tracy Johns original portrayal of Nola, she was much more secure and confident of herself as a woman and the way she interacted with her threesome of lovers. In the original, Nola was a smooth but firm woman who knew what she wanted and had an air of mystique that sort of drew you to her. I didn't really get that from DeWanda, it felt like she was trying to come off as that confident and convince everyone that she was that confident, but it didn't seem like it. I didn’t see what these other 3 dudes were seeing when they were falling in love with her. If Nola was as free-spirited, multifaceted, and charming as the show wants you to believe she is, then I should have fallen in love with her character too, but I didn't. Instead I was repulsed because of how much of a contradictory cliche she was. It was also probably because her character was a literal member of Shea Butter Twitter and I hateeedddd it. Headwraps, natural hair (I use the word natural loosely cause that weave was fucking terrible and stiff), big out-of-place-ass septum ring, makes art for a living, lives in a New York apartment she can’t afford. She was a very stereotypical and unoriginal character with little to no charisma, it didn't feel like Wise brought Nola to life the way she should've.

Take Mars for example. He was my favorite character on that show because you can tell Anthony Ramos was doing his part in giving Mars an actual personality, turning him into a real person and not leaving him as a fictional character with no body. You can see Mars as the kind of nigga you'd kick it and have fun with. There was just something missing from DeWanda's portrayal and the entire show in general and I still can't quite figure out what it was, maybe personality and livelihood. I don't know, but it just felt impersonal and discombobulated. I didn't feel entirely present and invested in the show, in their universe, the way I usually am with my favorite shows.
During each episode I was hoping for something to pop off so that there would be an actual plot that’s interesting enough to follow but after 10 episodes there’s still nothing. The last episode was a Thanksgiving shitshow and it was the dumbest thing I ever saw. It already feels like the plot isn't going anywhere because how long can Nola keep up this wannabe-polyamorous charade before she fully realizes she needs to be alone and not involve people in her mess? It's already being subtly revealed that her "polyamorous" nature with her relationships is unraveling because it's not as firm and stable as she thought it would be. Because she has no idea what she's doing or what she actually wants. How much longer can you drag that out for? Especially before it just becomes annoying to see.

My whole issue with this version of Nola is that it feels like they almost tried to make her some Afrocentric, neo soul version of a manic pixie dream girl and I just wasn’t buying it. The depth in her character wasn't there because it was clear to me how much of a hotep she was and how she tried to pass off her messy approach to relationships as polyamory. If I was her friend, we wouldn’t be very close cause she gets on my damn nerves. I think I’m mostly annoyed and mad though because we finally get another dark skinned female lead and we end up with *Miranda Priestly voice* this... this stuff. Nola was selfish, childish, confused, fake deep, and not as grown as she thought she was. She was contradictory in a way that makes you go, "bitch are you stupid?" instead of, "yeah we're all human." I don't have it in me to be constantly consuming unlikeable fictional characters, especially ones that are the protagonist and you have no choice but to look at them. I do enough of that with real people. There wasn't many redeeming qualities for Nola that I could recall so she was just a big fat no for me.

Another thing I hate about Nola is that she gets unnecessarily offended and mad over a lot of stupid things, things that aren't even mean or doing her harm. She freaks out, pun intended, over being called a freak, like calm the fuck down. Any black person that’s even remotely familiar with AAVE knows that’s not an insult so like.. what’s the point of that? You from Brooklyn and you acting like you don't know what being a freak means? We're not white people, freak isn't an insult. Stop being annoying. Also I don't know why she tried to make fun of the fact that Mars lived in the projects and worked “18” jobs when she can barely pay her rent and works multiple jobs too. She better act like she know what the deal is in gentrified ass Fort Greene.

With this series, I guess Spike Lee and co. thought the concept of a Black woman literally just being a messy bitch was going to be empowering and fun to watch, but it really wasn't. That's what Insecure was for, honestly. Issa filled that slot. And it's not because exercising sexual agency in itself isn't empowering because 1) it's no one's place to tell the next person what is and isn't empowering to them cause it's none of our business, and 2) everyone's relationship with sex and their bodies is different. But I'm just personally tired of seeing people frame casual sex and being noncommittal to anyone as the one and only form of female empowerment. Do we know that there are other ways to portray women as empowered and free and to encourage other women to be free, other than just sex and revolving everything around men? It's sooo old. And I say this as someone who has had sex and so far I'm not getting the hype, and I don't really care to. Like sex has never been a huge priority or concern of mine. I roll my eyes every time I see a sex scene in a show or movie now because if I wanted to see sex I'd watch porn. Sex is everywhere now, that shit is so overdone and I'm really over you guys constantly trying to tell women that sex and anything related to it is the only way to be empowered and to have freedom as a woman. It can and does go way beyond that, beyond men.

I don’t find polyamory under the guise of “I’m liberated!” when you’re really just confused and have commitment issues endearing, none of that was cute to me. I saw right through it. One minute Nola says she’s not dating any of them and it’s just sex, next thing you know she’s going out on dates with them and mixing up their names during sex. She’s a mess. She also has a rule of not seeing the same person twice a week and seeing no more than 2 people twice a week. If you’re so secure about “dating” 3 different men and not catching feelings, why the restraints?

That’s not polyamory. In order for Nola’s relationship with those men to be legitimate polyamory, she would’ve needed to tell all of them from the jump that they’re basically all in a relationship with her. But she didn’t do that, she kept it a secret and made things even more complicated for herself down the road. She claims it’s just sex with them but her actions say otherwise. I don’t know much about polyamory but I know it’s not simply just having sex with multiple men, an actual relationship with feelings and intimacy (which she's been strictly avoiding) is needed to consider that polyamory. Otherwise, Nola is really just casually dating. The whole premise of her relationship with these men was that it would be no feelings involved, she made that a rule and a point when she first met all of them. So yeah, this isn't polyamory this is polyimahotmessory.

The show itself was very try-hard all around. They tried too hard to be radical, pro-black, progressive, and feminist and got it all wrong each time. That #BLM hashtag at the end of the pilot was not needed and didn't fit in anywhere in the context of that episode. I don't know why the hell they thought it was okay to go through with that scene. The inclusion of phrases like “hipster imperialism” in casual conversations, unironically, was not needed. Nola constantly referring to her painting as the “free black female form” or some shit like that, was stupid. And not needed. Freedom for Black women can go beyond being naked, wearing natural hair, or having multiple sex partners, and I will be so glad and maybe finally entertained the day y'all realize that. It really sucks that a lot of people's sex positivity and supporting other people having sexual agency doesn't extend to folks like me who don't really give a fuck about sex and showing my body because we're written off as bitter prudes when that's far from the truth. We just sexually express ourselves differently and that's okay, but I don't think a lot of you understand that still because you lack the range as per usual.

And while we’re on the subject, I don’t mind film and television being used to amplify issues and bring attention to them. What I don’t like is it being forced and sounding like something a 15 year old on twitter would say once they’ve finished reading some work from Karl Marx and Bell Hooks. Subtlety is key. That all up in your face, #BlackLivesMatter shit that doesn’t connect to ANYTHING on the show or episode? Stop that right now. And honestly you don’t NEED to include stuff like that all the time anyway. It’s nice to just watch entertainment to be.. entertained. And not informed. Until y’all hire some new writers and learn how to talk about social issues in a way that doesn’t make people break their necks from cringing, don’t do it. Just because it’s made by black people and has black people in it, that doesn’t mean it has to be extra political. Sometimes people wanna take a break from that and have a laugh.

The outdated oppositions towards Shemekka getting her butt done and wearing weave was also the obvious work of the old writers on the show. How hard is it to put on new talent and younger writers? People from this generation that actually live the lives of these characters in this day and age? Why is that so difficult? These shows on Netflix keep writing this terrible ass material because the wrong people are holding the pen. I don’t need baby boomers and folks from Generation X writing about and trying to broadcast MY generation through their lens. Like what are you goin to gain from it.

She's Gotta Have It is basically the host body 40 and 50 somethings have been waiting to use as a vessel to show this generation through their eyes and incidentally misrepresenting us in the process. The episode with Jamie's son and using the word nigga confirmed the fact that there are indeed some oldheads on that writing team because... no. "Nobody should be using that word!" Boy bye. The portrayal and reactions from different characters regarding the expression of Black female sexuality and womanhood in general had both clearly old-fashioned and younger perspectives on it which I think is why a lot of this show just didn't mesh well together. It's like the writers subconsciously put in their perspectives on the issues at hand into the script even though it should all be from a millennial's point of view, it just feels like inconsistent writing to me. It's much older people from a different generation trying to write the lives of younger people they don't seem to know much about. The route they're taking to appeal to their audience (us youngsters) is reminiscent of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign pandering to the youth and Black people.

The sexually liberated freedom schtick, the starving artist trope, the not-so-subtle inclusion of social issues when nobody asked. The show tried to cram in every little thing they've seen from our generation into 10 episodes and you can tell they don't know much else about us. I can't tell if the writing was an attempt to give this generation a voice and depict us on-screen, or a chance for them to slip in their 2 cents on the matter at hand. Maybe it was both. But there's only so much consistency and flow that can come from 45+ year olds writing a show about and aimed at 20 somethings that also attempts to be socially conscious. For various reasons that I believe boil down mostly to the ages of the writing crew in all honesty, this show just doesn't quite do a lot of things justice. Polyamory, Black female sexuality, duality in Black women, social issues, being broke and living in Brooklyn. Being a broke millennial and living in the city in general. Yet again none of it was realistic, made sense, or was handled properly and I'm just wondering when these shows will get us right.

OH HEY, FOR BEST VIEWING, YOU'LL NEED TO TURN YOUR PHONE