Apparently God is a major movie buff.
Chances are pretty good that if you...*checks news*...live literally anywhere in the world, you're probably quarantined and maybe dying from COVID-19 right now.
I probably am right now. Sure, some psychologists are saying, "Don't let coronavirus tip society into panic," but panic is a natural response to unseen threats that make us question our survival and why we even exist. So if you're going to be stuck in your bedroom during what very well might be your last two weeks on earth, you might as well catch up on all the movies that God quizzes you on when you get into heaven.
Wait, what? That's right, dear reader, God is a major movie buff, according to a prophetic vision I had last night while quarantined, and let me assure you that I immediately and accurately jotted His favorite titles down so you can ace the test and not be cast into the fiery pits of Eternal Damnation. Remember, if you don't die as a seasoned movie buff, God will not let you in. Look it up in The Bible.
According to God, high-budget Hollywood retellings of biblical stories are His favorite form of worship. So it almost goes without saying that Darren Aronofsky's Noah epic, starring Russell Crowe, made the list. While many of the other Hollywood bible epics take too many liberties for God's liking, God assured me that Noah is a spot-on interpretation, and that Noah's real adopted daughter actually did look a little bit like Emma Watson. God also mentioned that flooding the world was one of the coolest things He ever did, so it was pretty fun to watch on the big screen.
The Passion of the Christ
Mel Gibson's poorly received Jesus Christ biopic may be a slog to get through, but honestly, we should have seen this coming. After all, when a guy who vocally hates Jews decides to direct a movie about God's son, you better believe God's going to take notice. The funny part is that God didn't like it either. God made it crystal clear that Mel Gibson failed to capture Jesus' mannerisms and that the main point in having us watch is so we can all make fun of it together from an informed perspective.
God's Not Dead
With a paltry budget of only two million dollars, and a very silly cameo appearance from Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson, God informed me that even though He hates to use the term, He couldn't help feeling like God's Not Dead took His name in vain. The movie's premise that God actually cares whether or not some dumb college students believe in Him was deeply offensive, especially when the only thing He actually cares about is whether or not we can pass his cinematic litmus test. He hopes that we can use take this movie as a lesson in what not to do.
Gods of Egypt
Straight up, God would not stop praising Gods of Egypt. This is a direct quote from God during my quarantined vision: "Dude, Gods of Egypt is so underrated. Realizing there wasn't going to be a sequel was the exact thing that made me start coronavirus." God clarified that while it's technically a good-bad movie, it's so good-bad that it might actually just be amazing. He's really into good-bad movies, so that's probably a useful thing to keep in mind when you kick the bucket. Also, if you happen to be Tommy Wiseau, he's going to talk your ear off. Like, he loves you, man.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Okay, this was a surprise. It turns out that God's favorite movie, in the history of the medium, is Paul Blart: Mall Cop. He doesn't even like it ironically; he actually thinks it's good. I asked him if he had ever seen the comparisons between Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Neon Genesis Evangelion and, I kid you not, God says, "Who do you think came up with that first?" Admittedly, when God first said that Paul Blart: Mall Cop was his favorite movie, I doubted his taste in film for the briefest moment, but oh God, did God prove me wrong. The dude is absorbing cinema at a whole different level. I mean, this is the same guy who came up with mountains and diamonds and fish, of course He knows what He's talking about. I should never have doubted God, and now I know that when I die from COVID-19, God will be gaining another little film bro in heaven.
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Breaking down the bias of comfort films.
With the constant onslaught of complicated news that 2020 has brought, sometimes you just want to be able to shut off your brain, relax, and feel happy.
Enter comfort films. These are the feel-good movies that feel like a warm hug when you finish them, the ones that allow you to escape for a short while. We often turn to these types of films in times of trouble or extreme stress, and when we're not sure what films of this nature we should watch, we turn to the Internet for options.
Rivera's "Glee" character was not just important, she was groundbreaking.
As a young queer girl growing up in the south, I was lucky that my parents weren't homophobes.
My parents believed that people were sometimes born gay, and while they wouldn't "wish that harder life" on their children, they certainly made me and my sister believe that gay people were just as worthy of love as anyone else. I was lucky.
Still, in my relatively sheltered world of Northern Virginia (a rich suburb near Washington D.C.), homophobia wasn't as blatant as hate crimes or shouted slurs, but it was generally accepted that being straight was, simply, better.
In high school, it wasn't uncommon to use "gay" as an insult or for girls to tease each other about being "lez." While many of us, if asked, would have said we were in support of gay marriage and loved The Ellen Show, being gay remained an undesirable affliction.
Even more insidious, I was instilled with the belief—by my church and my peers—that if gay and lesbian people could be straight, they would. But since they were simply incapable of attraction to the opposite sex or fitting into traditional gender roles, we should accept them as they are as an act of mercy. At the time, this kind of pity seemed progressive and noble. Those in my close circle of family and friends weren't openly dismissive or condemning of gay people, but we saw homosexuality as a clear predisposition with no gray areas.
Specifically: Gay men talked with a lilt, giggled femininely, and were interested in things that weren't traditionally "masculine." Meanwhile, gay women dressed like men, had no interest in makeup or other traditionally female interests, and probably had masculine bodies and features. In my mind, before someone came out as gay, they did everything in their power to "try to be straight" but were eventually forced to confront the difficult reality that they felt no attraction at all to the opposite sex. I viewed homosexuality not as a spectrum, but as a black and white biological predisposition that meant you were thoroughly, completely, and pitiably gay.
As a child, when I began to experience stirrings of attraction for other girls, I would reassure myself that not only had I definitely felt attraction for men in the past, but I also liked being pretty. I was a tomboy as a child, sure, but as I got older I recognized that my value was increased in the eyes of society if I tried to be a pretty girl. As it turned out, I even liked putting on clothes that made me feel good, I liked applying makeup, and I liked some traditionally "feminine" things. In my mind, this meant that I couldn't be gay, because gay women didn't like "girl" stuff.
As a teenager, I began to learn more about the difference between gender and sexuality, and the fluidity of both. I began to let myself feel some of the long-suppressed feelings of queer desire I still harbored.
Still, in the back of my mind, the instilled certainty of sexuality as an extremely rigid thing sometimes kept me up at night. What if I was gay? Would I have to change the way I looked? Would I have to give up some of the things I liked? In my mind, being gay meant your sexuality was your whole identity, and everything else about you disappeared beneath the weight of it.
But then, Santana came out as gay on Glee.
GLEE - The Santana 'Coming Out Scene' www.youtube.com
If you didn't watch Glee, than you might not know the importance of Naya Rivera's character to so many queer young women like myself. Santana was beautiful, she was popular, she had dated boys, she was feminine, she was sexy, and she was gay. There's even evidence that Santana had previously enjoyed relationships with men.
But the character came out anyways, not because she had to or because it was obvious to everyone around her that she was gay, but because her attraction to women was an aspect of her identity she was proud of. It wasn't an unfortunate reality she simply had to make the best of; it was an exciting, beautiful, aspect of her identity worth celebrating.
Before Santana, it had never really come home for me that being gay wasn't an entire identity—that it wasn't an affliction or disorder, but just another part of a person. She also didn't suddenly start wearing flannels or cutting her hair after coming out. She was the same feminine person she had always been. I had never realized that being a gay woman didn't have to look a certain way. Santana and Brittany's gay storyline showed two femme-presenting women in love, and for me, that was a revolution.
If it wasn't for Naya Rivera, we may never have had that important story line.
"It's up to writers, but I would love to represent [the LGBTQ community] because we know that there are tons of people who experience something like that and it's not comical for them in their lives," Rivera told E! News in 2011. "So I hope that maybe we can shed some light on that."
While Rivera herself wasn't gay (the importance of casting gay actors in gay roles is a separate conversation), she understood how important her character was to the queer community. "There are very few ethnic LGBT characters on television, so I am honored to represent them," Rivera told Latina magazine in 2013. "I love supporting this cause, but it's a big responsibility, and sometimes it's a lot of pressure on me."
Rivera wasn't just a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community on screen. In 2017, she wrote a "Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community" for Billboard's Pride Month. In it, she wrote, "We are all put on this earth to be a service to others and I am grateful that for some, my Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays may have given a little light to someone somewhere, who may have needed it. To everyone whose heartfelt stories I have heard, or read I thank you for truly enriching my life."
Now, as we mourn the loss of Naya Rivera, at least we can take comfort in knowing that her legacy will live on—that the light her Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays gave us won't go out any time soon.
Excuse me, I have to go weep-sing-along to Rivera's cover of landslide now.
Glee - Landslide (Full Performance + Scene) 2x15 youtu.be
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