Depression?

Depression.  It affects more than 21 million children and adults in the U.S annually.  Why exactly is it such a big issue, especially in the United States?  What adverse effects does it cause?  Considering I’m starting to slip into it myself, let’s explore.

According to the above link, the lost productivity of workers with depression in the U.S. averages a cost of about $31 billion annually.  So, depression is not just something that is in peoples’ minds; rather it is also in their pocketbooks and their savings accounts and their tax returns, affecting monetary thingiemajigs there.

Secondly, depression, as people know, often leads to suicide.  And, according to that link, in 2004, suicide was the eleventh leading cause of death in the United States.  (I know that is an old statistic.  But I’m going to assume the number has not changed much since then, or if it has changed, it most likely has increased).  It is kind of difficult for workers to be productive when the only thing they can complete is whether or not they can make it through another day.

Thirdly, interestingly enough, according to the link, their 2007 survey, conducting using four different measures, calculated that Iowa was the “fourth least depressed state” in the United States.  That’s just depressing in and of itself, that I live in a state with a bunch of happy people, or least people that aren’t regularly experiencing episodes of depression.  How am I supposed to be productive when everyone’s too busy smiling and whistling and not helping me understand my own depression?

Fourthly, also interesting, the study also reported that, the lower number of people in a state that had trouble affording healthcare cost, the lower the depression rate, and subsequently, the suicide rate.  Since I am a meager teenager with little experience in politics or economics, so I don’t quite understand how healthcare exactly works, but I am intelligent enough to understand that not being able to be healthy is ample cause for depression.  In fact, if you’re depressed, you might actually be causing a vicious circle: you need healthcare to help solve the health issues related to your depression, but you can’t afford the healthcare, for you get more depressed, and then you need that healthcare all the more, etc., etc., etc.

Lastly, I would just like to thank you all for putting up with my ranting about depression.  It really does truly make me feel better, and more secure, in the world.  Thank you.

 

Even More Stress.

As if my life isn’t stressful enough (and I’m sure all of my readers know that), this week is the week of the school musical, of which I am a part.  Given my class workload and my other activities, this causes a big, huge, major, craptastical issue for me: I’m here from seven in the morning to ten at night every day this week.  FIFTEEN HOURS OF SCHOOL.  A DAY.  This essentially means that I am living at school.  And why is this an issue?  While many teachers are aware of the school musical, they are not aware of the physical and emotional toll that the combination of the lack of time and loads of homework take on students that are in the musical.  It’s not like I can just do my homework offstage; I have to constantly be vigilant and prepared, knowing when and where I go onstage next.  Therefore, I am relegated to sitting in my ricketing reclining chair, until well past midnight, attempting to tackle the piles and piles of homework that I can only pretend to actually do decently.  Since I always wake up at 5:30 in the morning (and I cannot change this time since it takes me this long to get ready to be at school by seven), this causes a great lack of sleep.  I’m pretty sure I’ve already posted a statistic on this blog that teenagers need at least, bare minimum, eight hours of sleep a night, but preferably ten or more, if possible.  This week, I will probably be getting less than six hours of sleep a night, based on my average homework load of about three to four hours.  But there’s even more to this: I don’t have even a job.  If I had a job, there’s no way in hell my homework would get done.  And then,  I’d fail my classes.

A possible counterargument I see to this is: why not just quite the musical?  Well, seeing as I am a named character, that just unfortunately isn’t possible.  Not to mention, while I’m not trying to brag, I am one of the strongest voices in the musical.  Therefore, the show would be significantly worse without me.  The much better alternative for this situation would be for teachers to be more understanding about the work input that a musical requires, and be more lenient on those students the week the musical does its shows.

My Comments on the Boston Bombing Tragedy.

As most people in the U.S probably know by now, yesterday, at the finish line of the Boston marathon, at about the 4 hour: 10 minute mark, two explosions went off in the spectator stands as some of the runners were crossing the finish line.  Was it a terrorist attack?  That isn’t certain yet.  What is a deranged American?  That isn’t certain yet.  In fact, there is very little about this bombing that is certain, except for the fact that two bombs went off.  Therefore, this blog will explore some of my thoughts and theories about the bombing yesterday.

First off, I mourn for the three people who lost their lives and I also mourn for the one hundred fourty-four or more people gravely injured.  Any loss of life in such a violent manner is a tragedy – there is no question about that.  But speaking perhaps more objectively for a moment, is this a 9/11?  No.  Is this an Oklahoma bombing-level event?  No.  While this may in fact be an aggressive act of terror, it was not a massacre of any sort.  I’m mostly just saying to clarify the possible mentioning of this as a “Boston massacre.”.  As I said, that would be a false statement.  Was the bombing yesterday a tragedy?  Of course.  A massacre?  Of course not. I don’t really have a set number for what constitutes a “massacre”, but three is certainly not a high enough number.

So, what do I think happened?  Personally, I do not believe this was an act of terrorism from outside the U.S., by Al Qaeda or something like that.  This may be a real stretch of logic, perhaps even a logical fallacy, but given that the Boston marathon was done in order to benefit the families who lost family members in the Sandy Hook shootings, my most reasonable conclusion that I can come up with off the top of my head is that the person (or persons) who laid the bomb was an angry American, probably pro-gun, that was bothered by the recent discussions in the U.S. law system about tougher gun laws.  I know, that’s a very basic comparison, but given that it’s hard to even be objective about the situation at this moment, that is the best I can do.

So, instead of spending any more time discussing my theories, I will let the CIA and the government do that for me.  I’ll just stick to being the weeping, sad, patriotic American that is upset about such a tragedy.

The Big Bang Theory.

In case it hasn’t become noticeable by now, I am a rather big fan of watching T.V. shows.  But fear not, readers, I am not one of those people that watches Dancing With the Stars and only that.  No, I am also a rather big fan of the show The Big Bang Theory.  

One night, when I came home from school, weary and stressed out, I decided to lay myself down on my sofa and watch some T.V.  All of a sudden, I heard the oddest song: “In our whole universe…in a hot dense, state, nearly 14 million years ago..”.  At first, I was somewhat off-put by the theme song, but very quickly I warmed up to it.  But then, the real magic happened.  I remember exactly what episode it was – the one where Raj (the Indian guy), Leonard (the “sidekick” of the show) and Howard (a creepy Jewish guy) went camping in the woods.  What immediately drew me to the show was the audacity, and yet also the personal relatability, of its characters.  Admittedly, I am somewhat of a nerd myself, so the frank manner in which these “nerdy” characters could make fun of themselves was greatly amusing to me.  But all of the actors just seemed so natural – it’s not like they were reading lines.  It appeared more like they were best friends, having natural, by-the-fireside type of conversations.  This was completely different for me, as I was used to seeing the fakeness in an actor’s eyes.

Besides the talent of the actors, the show just makes one feel good.  I was having a rather bad day – in fact, it was probably one of those “I’m  gonna have to cry myself to sleep” type of days.  Within five minutes of watching Sheldon (the main character) argue with Leonard in their oh-so-scientific manners, I was completely chill, calm, forgetful of my fears.  I found an escape, a way to make my pain -my tears – go away.  Perhaps that is the greatest art of The Big Bang Theory – it is an excellent example of escapism.

Watching it now (literally, as I am typing this blog post),  it still has the same attraction, unlike some T.V. shows I’ve watched, that have lost their sparkle over the months (sorry, Glee 😦 ).  The talent of the actors and the feel-good aspect of the show certainly make for an excellent feel-great combination.  If you ever need to turn those tears into a smile, just watch the Big Bang Theory.  Laughter does the body good.

Yet Another Failure of the Tabloids…

If you’ve ever seen my blog posts before, you all know that I made a post explaining why tabloids have their worth.  This isn’t the point of this post.  Rather,  I am just highlighting for you all one of the numerous instances in which the tabloids epic failed.  And we shall analyze why it is epic fail.

This is the article. It is a recent one from People.com.  Carrie Ann Inaba, a judge on Dancing With the Stars, is explaining her outfit caused her to be “emotional”.  It is a woman, talking about outfits.  Getting emotional.  The tabloids are not giving a story that exemplifies how apt of a judge Inaba is, nor one that even showcases some of her other talents.  No, what they care about is her appearance, her outfit, whether she’s bawling or not.  Just for a slight personal interjection here, this is freaking ridiculous.  Now, anyways…

This article on People.com is just another example of the failure of the Bechdel test.  Notice how Carrie Ann Inaba is the only female judge on the show.  Therefore, she gets less screen time than the than the two male judges combined.  From personal experience of many times watching Dancing With the Stars, the two male judges, Lenn Goodman and Bruno Tonioli, tend to wear simple suits every night, nothing special, nothing fancy.  But Inaba?  No, every show, her hairstyle has to be different, her wardrobe has to be different, her earrings have to be different, her demeanor has to be different, her amount of crying has to be different, blah blah blah.

It’s as if Inaba is an object of characterization for the viewers (such as me), rather than a competent judge giving objective advice to the competitors on the show.  Of the various comments Inaba has made to performers, a substantial number of them consist of qualifications of the performers’ “emotion” or “story”.  If Inaba does get in a word about the actual dancing, then she usually is talking about taking a point off because a couple did a lift when they weren’t supposed to do one.

But I have digressed long enough.  This blog post isn’t necessarily about the failure of DWTS for portraying a stereotypical female as an incompetent judge.  No, this article is about the epic failure of People.com for posting such an article, instead of defending Inaba’s credentials.  They make too much money, so I really can’t actually do anything to stop them from posting more articles such as this, but, hey, I can still explain why their actions are in the wrong.

The True Point of the Variety of “Cast Lists” on T.V shows.

If one looks at the celebrities that partake in a show such as Dancing with the Stars or Splash, at first, one is mesmerized by the diversity of the cast.  There’s whites, blacks, old people, young people, everything to entrance an audience.  But that’s exactly the point: these casts are not made up to create the fairest competition – or anything remotely close to a fair competition, for that matter.  But T.V. executives know that damn well.  They don’t put together cast lists to create an even competition; they put cast lists together to get ratings.  How do I know this?  The purpose of T.V. shows is to draw in viewers and make money.  And the more outrageous and varied the personalities of the stars on the television show, the bigger the ratings, and thus the greater amount of money that gets placed in the pockets of the T.V. executives.

Take the latest season of Dancing with the Stars, for example.  There is a competitor this season named D.L. Hugley.  Judging by his overall scores this season, I would argue he is a bad dancer (and hey, the judges have been judging for a long time – I’m pretty sure they’re safe figures of authority).  His dance moves can’t compare in the slightest to some of the other competitors on the show.  So why did the producers pick him?  He’s a comedian, black, and has a great personality.  These three traits are what the T.V. executives behind Dancing With the Stars are hoping will bring in more ratings.  Specifically, they are hoping for the “comedian-watcher” and the black audiences.  (Although, since many of us are familiar with argument post hoc, we all know that this thought process is somewhat flawed).

As my second example, take Louie Anderson, a competitor on the recent T.V. show “Splash” – essentially, celebrity diving.  He weighs around 400 lbs.  And that’s about all you need to know to realize that this show, like Dancing With the Stars, is not a fair competition.  He draws in ratings; many of the tweets shown during the show emphasize that general belief on the viewing audience that Louie is an inspiring figure – or at least, the public envies him for challenging his struggles while the public sits on its butt, watching T.V., likely not solving any of its issues.

 

Long story short, the cast  lists of celebrity competition shows are not selected based on even talent or for the purpose of creating a fair competition; rather, they are intentionally imbalanced and varied in order to produce higher ratings.

The Bechdel Test And How It Can Apply To More Than Just Movies.

It is a very simple tool that is extremely useful for analyzing the shows and movies that you watch.  If you haven’t heard of it, the Bechdel Test is a simple test used to determine the true roles of women in movies or t.v. shows.  The test involves three simple steps:

1.) Is there more than one named female character?

2.)  Do at least two of the female characters talk to each other?

3.)  Do they talk to each other about something other than a man or a relationship?

In case you want to see the Youtube video of where this idea came from:

Now, to the main point of my post.  Recently, I attended the St. Charles Vocal Music Jazz Festival in St. Charles, Illinois.  While I was there, I noticed a great deal of the female choir members were wearing very sparkly dresses, tight skirts, or sky-high heels.  But more than that, the choirs and the songs they sang often failed the Bechdel test.  Most of them did pass the first rule (as all the choirs had more than one female), but the females never had a soli section (that’s where the females sing without the men) that was about something other than love.  On the contrary, many of the jazz choirs had male soli sections that discussed masculinity or the joy of singing, or something much more philosophical than love or love-making.

I know this is kind of an odd comparison, and one I made on the fly.  Yet perhaps it also represents the possibility that the Bechdel test can apply to more than movies and t.v. shows.  Other forms of media, such as music, also mis- or under-represent women in certain ways.  Besides the jazz style in particular, other forms of music certainly do this to women.  Take, as a very general example, rap music.  Sure, there are rappers (like Tupac) who make meaningful music.  But how many rap videos do you really think there are that actually pass the Bechdel test?  And how many of these videos have a substantial number of views/downloads/purchases?  I don’t really have the time to do a statistics check on that, but I’m sure the number isn’t all too pretty.

So next time you are sitting around bored with nothing to do, try and find some other activities or concepts that fail the Bechdel test.  It probably won’t be difficult.  But, more importantly, think of what failing the Bechdel test means —  mis- or under-representing women.