Tag Archives: Community

Mask

It’s kind of a relief to read other people’s posts, to see that I’m not alone in feeling the need to wear a mask of some kind. At the same time it makes me kind of sad, the idea that so many people feel the need to hide who they really are. And it makes me wonder what the point is, is it the case that everyone is pretending to be something and someone they’re not? If so then how does anyone ever form a connection with another person? How do you know that something is real? I’m only a few sentences in but I get the feeling I’m rambling already. Or maybe it’s just because I’m so tired that it feels that way. This prompt got me thinking about all kinds of things I’d rather not think about. Not least the e-mail I finally got around to sending. Before writing it I was obsessing over the fact I hadn’t done so and now I’m obsessing over the fact I have.

I did get my answer though, I don’t miss the person in question. I just like the idea of having that kind of relationship but it won’t work in reality. Not as long as I can’t stop pretending not to be me around other people. I keep telling myself that when I find the right person I’ll trust them enough to be able to do that. But it isn’t true, it’s just another lie I tell myself so I can keep going. Truth is it’s not just about finding the right person, the problem is with me. I’ve spent my entire life being told I needed to act differently, that if I worked harder to fit in more then I wouldn’t get picked on. I know all of those things were wrong to tell me, that the people who said them aren’t right. And that if I ever had kids I would never let someone talk to them that way or tell them such rubbish. But their words sunk in, a little too well maybe. Now I really am rambling. In fact all of this is making me very uncomfortable, talking about feelings usually does. That alone is the reason why I should write this and not delete it as I want to. Because writing this is the only way I can talk about it, I can’t do that in real life.

I have no idea what my point is or if there even is one. This isn’t how I envisioned it turning out, I had it all laid out in my head and this isn’t how I expected it to go. I can’t even remember what I originally planned, I wasn’t quick enough in writing it down.  There is however a downside to how tired and forgetful I am at the moment. It means I’m too tired to rant about the last episode of The A Word which aired last night. I know I’m angry about it, I ranted about it at length last night. But I can’t remember any of it, other than how angry it made me. So that’s a good thing.

As I’m writing this I’m half-watching yet another re-run of CSI, I say half-watching because I don’t need to (nor can I) pay full attention to it. It’s an episode I’ve seen many times and is in fact a favourite of mine, an episode titled “Who Shot Sherlock?” I don’t think I need to explain why it’s my favourite, the title says it all. The reason I’m mentioning it is because I find it amusing that it’s one of today’s episodes. The main case is about a group of Sherlock re-enactors, they get together and pretend to be Sherlock and the accompanying characters. All of them are normal grown-ups who have lives and jobs, for some of them the society was a bit of fun but for others it was preferred to their real life. More than just an escape from the tedium of daily life, they depended on it. Ironic seeing as how Sherlock is a drug addict. Even more ironic because it was the group member who played Sherlock that put an end to it. What tickled me the most is one of the group members is English, Captain Brass tells him to “drop the accent” and he replies “I can’t, I’m English.” I don’t know why I found that so amusing, just that I did.

Writing about that reminded me of my first though in relation to this prompt, Batman. Not the films or the comics, but Abed and Sheldon. Both of them do Batman impressions of a sort but it’s Abed who does the best one. One of my favourite ever scenes is when him and Troy are both talking in Batman voices. The voices are awesome, the topic of conversation even more so but what’s the best is at the end when Troy says “It’s cool to know other people think about this stuff too.”

I wish I had a friend like Troy. Him and Abed are just the best. There’s nothing that can beat “Troy and Abed in the morning.” I can’t stop singing that, it’s just unbeatable. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a friend who was every bit as strange as you are. To have that license to be completely weird with someone else. But then even Troy and Abed came to an end. Nothing lasts forever. Including how sorry I was feeling for myself when I started writing this post. I think watching Abed helped. He’s connected to the other reason I should be happy right now, the Russo connection. Tomorrow is the big night, the midnight release of Captain America: Civil War. Everything is in order, I’ve got the tickets, the money, all I need to do now is pack. This is either going to be the best thing I ever do or one of the worst. I’m not worried about the film being disappointing, though I still hate the fact Iron Man is in it. I’m just very aware of how big a challenge this is, spending a night away from home. I have to get some sleep at least. The plans for Friday depend on it. I’m making the most of where I am and going to see Civil War again in the morning before going home. And then the most important part of the day, Freiburg’s game against Paderborn, potentially the deciding game for both of them. Best thing about it all is Leipzig play on Friday too, which means no waiting for the other results. They play Schwolow’s team from last season, Arminia Bielefeld. With their 2.Bundesliga status secured I hope they’ll give it their best shot against Leipzig.

Revisiting the Marvel Universe

In anticipation of the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron I’ve been rewatching the films in the Marvel Universe. Technically I should rewatch season 1 of Agents of SHIELD and start to watch Agent Carter too but I barely got through AoS the first time round and I’m finding the second series equally as troublesome so I’m skipping that. So far I’ve seen Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America and Avengers.

Next up is Iron Man 3 and now I’ve got to that I regret my decision to do this. I’ve seen Iron Man 3 three times, twice at the cinema and my opinion wasn’t altered by the subsequent viewings. I disliked it as much as Iron Man 2 and now Iron Man is officially my least favourite Avenger. What I disliked most about Iron Man 3 was the reason given for the vice president’s betrayal of his country, but not just that, it was the way it was revealed. A shot of his daughter in a wheelchair was considered enough to show to the audience why a man would betray his country. I didn’t like that at all, like that’s all “normal” people need to see and they will automatically understand. Disability is viewed as a enemy in a way, seeing as how it’s the center of not only the vice president’s betrayal but also of the Extremis program as well.

I have to say I did like the Mandarin though and the reveal that he was in fact an actor hired to play the part of a terrorist. Apart from that I found it as tedious as I found Iron Man 2, I no longer find Tony Stark an interesting character (at least not in his own films) and the second and third film lack the wit and intelligence of the first one.

I did like him in Avengers, in particular his interactions with Bruce Banner. That for me is the stand out feature of the Avengers film, the humor that is to be found in the interactions of the Avengers. My favourite moment of the entire film is when Hulk smashes Loki into the ground saying “puny God.” I think Mark Ruffalo is perfect as Bruce Banner, I much prefer him to Edward Norton in the role. I liked his line when Cap tells him to get angry: “that’s my secret Captain, I’m always angry.”

I’ve realised that the humor is my favourite thing about the films, the action stuff is of little interest to me so I’m not going to complain about which villains I do or don’t like or any of that.

Another reason for watching them all again was to figure out who my favourite Avenger is and which of the films I like the best. I’m not done watching the films but I already know the answer to the second question at least. My answer is unchanged, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is my undisputed favourite. If not only because in this one, I actually enjoyed the action scenes as well as the rest of the film. Also because I think it’s better written than the others, the one liners and the overall dialogue are far better than the others. I saw it at the cinema at least five times and I couldn’t imagine sitting through any of the others films that many times in the space of six weeks.

I had a hunch TWS would be a favourite of mine before I even saw a single second of it, the reason being that it was directed by Anthony and Joe Russo who worked on Community. Joe Russo in fact directed what are not only my most favourite episodes of Community but what I also consider to be some of the best TV ever. The paintball episodes, the Dungeons and Dragons episodes and the missing pen episode.

The Russo brothers are directing the next Captain America film and Avengers Infinity War Part 1 and 2. All of them will also be written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, news which makes me happy indeed, though not even that can make up for the fact that Tony Stark is in the Captain America film. Given that Daniel Brühl is in it, I will most likely want to see it quite a few times, which means having to tolerate the presence of RDJ a lot. As it turns out Daniel is playing Baron Zemo, I can’t wait to see what his costume will look like and to find out where he fits into the story in regards to Von Strucker, if he’s in this film that is. From what I’ve read and been told by someone who is far more knowledgeable about these things than myself that would seem to the case. I’m not into comic books, my sole comic book experience consists of reading the first Nick Fury comic where he duels with Von Strucker. I have nothing against comics, or graphic novels as they are sometimes referred to these days, I just can’t get into them.

This is what Baron Zemo looks like:

https://i2.wp.com/comicattack.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/373465-19408-baron-helmut-zemo_super.jpg

As for my favourite character, that is actually none of the Avengers. My favourite character is Dr. Eric Selvig, partly because I like Stellan Skarsgård and partly because of how great he is in Thor: Dark World, he is easily the best thing about that film. My favourite Avenger would be either Hulk or Thor. Hulk because I can identify with being angry all the time, with that risk of turning into a monster at the drop of a hat, though obviously I don’t turn into a green hulking giant. It’s not quite so clear to me why I like Thor so much all of a sudden, at least not until someone asked me this the other day, “is the reason you like Thor so much because he’s from another planet?”

That may very well be the reason, the fact that he doesn’t get any of their references and is usually a step behind in the conversations. Then of course is so is Steve but it’s different with him. he’s from another time not another planet.

Abed – Community

Abed is not just one of my favourite autistic characters but one of my favourite characters ever. And Community is one of my favourite shows ever, not the last two seasons so much but everything before that was perfection. I love all of the references and in Abed I have a character that not only speaks my language but says a lot of what I’m thinking.

More importantly he’s not a “TV autistic.” That is he’s a believable autistic person, he’s not just a socially awkward slightly obsessive genius, without any actual kind of disability at all. They don’t gloss over the difficulties posed by his autistic characteristics, they actually find ways to deal with them but always in the context of a story, it never felt like they were doing as Abed didn’t want them to do,  a “special episode” about him. He’s a character, just like all the others, not just the autistic guy who is brought out to add some weirdness here and there. I also love the little references they throw in about him having Asperger’s. Like the line, oh it’s so sweet, it’s like The Notebook instead of Alzheimer’s Abed has…”

Or like any of these following examples:

“Abed you’re special, can’t you stand at the scene of the crime and see what happened?
I see a man. Using a social disorder as a procedural device. Wait, wait, wait. Mildly autistic super detectives everywhere. Basic cable. Broadcast networks. Pain. Painful writing. It hurts.” [At the end of the show, Abed is shown deleting The Bridge, Hannibal and another show, something Spectrum from his DVR]

On the subject of Hannibal, I really dislike the character of Will Graham. I think Hugh Dancy was completely the wrong choice to play him first of all, mainly because he’s played an autistic character before in the film Adam, and one can’t help but see the similarities. I’m only talking about the first season, maybe it’s better later on, I don’t know, I quit watching and have no intention of returning to the show. What bothers me about Will Graham is not so much the character itself as the creator of this interpretation of him and of said creator’s fundamental misunderstanding of autism as evidenced by the following:

“This version of Graham identifies himself as being on the autism spectrum, but show runner Bryan Fuller has refuted the idea that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, stating that he has instead the opposite of it. He possesses pure empathy and an overactive imagination, allowing him to mentally recreate the murders he is investigating.”

Well first things first, the person who wrote that need to pay more attention, Graham did not say he was on the autism spectrum, these were his exact words: “I hitch my post closer to autism and Asperger’s than psychopaths and sociopaths.”

Secondly, he just described AS to me. In fact that description fits someone very well that I used to know in real life. Additionally I’ve read online about many different people who talk about having too much empathy and not being able to handle it or not knowing what to do with it.  I don’t care whether Graham is autistic or not, but it bugs me when people don’t seem to have done the most basic of research. It does however amuse me that the actor who played Graham in the film Manhunter is William Petersen who also played Grissom in CSI, a name that frequently pops up on supposed Aspie lists online and who is definitely on mine.

“Everyone else is growing and changing all the time, and it’s not really my jam. I’m more of a fast-blinking, stoic, removed, uncomfortably self-aware type. Like Data, or Johnny-5 or Mork or HAL or K.I.T or K-9 or Woodstock and/or Snoopy. Of course Spock probably goes without saying.”

Jeff: “Abed, the mafia movie is over.
Abed: I’m not doing a mafia movie. In fact, I don’t need to use movies or TV shows to talk to people anymore. Before, I only needed them because the day-to-day world made no sense to me, but now everyone’s speaking the same language. Chicken. I finally understand people and they finally understand me.
Abed: “Okay, if I could just take this time to share a few words of sarcasm with whoever it is that took this pen. I want to say thank you for doing this to me, for a while I thought I’d have to suffer through a puppy parade, but I much prefer being entombed alive in a mausoleum of feelings I can neither understand nor reciprocate.

One curious aspect of the character of Abed is the fact that Dan Harmon has talked about AS in real life and how he thinks he fits on the autistic spectrum. Is it a coincidence that one of the best autistic characters ever was written by someone who is possibly autistic themselves? Can a NT write a good autistic character?

Two episodes in particular show what I love about the character of Abed, the first is the episode in which Abed wants to take a film class but his father won’t let him, so Britta pays for it and starts off a whole battle which results in her ending up taking care of Abed. The source of conflict is that Abed is not going to the film class Britta is paying for, instead making his movie for said class whilst throwing cash around and seemingly ignoring Britta.

In the end Abed makes a short film about his childhood, a film which contains lines such as “I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Abed is not normal” and “What is wrong with you? All I want to do is take care of you.” And this exchange:
“What do you think Dad (to Jeff)?
I think you are really weird Abed, and I think the wrong person just left.”

Towards the end of the episode, Abed shows this film to his father, Jeff and Britta. His father, seeing what films mean to Abed agrees to pay for the class, saying “if films help my son be understood, I’ll pay for the class.”

That scene was very difficult for me to watch, which is odd because very little is difficult for me to watch, boring and tedious is what I usually find emotional type scenes, but they rarely get to me. This did, because if I had the kind of parents one has a close relationship with I would feel that way too. That’s why Abed is so special, because it’s not often that a character voices thoughts that I would say, or that there is a character I can relate to so much. It’s also important because before I saw that scene, I didn’t even know stuff like that bothered me and if I had, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to express such feelings or put a name to them.

The second episode is the chicken fingers episode. I love this reason for two reasons, first because of Abed and second because Goodfellas is one of my all time favourite films and this episode parodies the film. In the episode, in order to get chicken fingers the group get Abed a job in the cafeteria. But it doesn’t turn out as they planned, Abed becomes power hungry, builds up a chicken empire and it all gets out of control. At the end of the episode Jeff confronts Abed:
Abed: But I was close.
Jeff: You said you were close. What were you close to? To the group? To people?
Abed: Please don’t do a special episode about me.
Jeff: Oh, I wouldn’t dream of it.
Abed: Everyone else needs my help. That’s what people don’t get, is that they need me. I just need to be able to connect to people like you can, and then I can make everyone happy like you do.
Jeff: Do you know why I’m here?
Abed: Because you got caught with a fake bachelor’s degree. By the way they just started using that as a seasonal arc on Law & Order, total rip-off.

The chicken fingers episode is important because it shows that he’s aware somewhat of his differences, he wants to reach out to other people, he just doesn’t know how. I like it because whilst it’s an honest admission, it doesn’t turn into a “special episode”, it doesn’t make him look pathetic.

In addition to his self awareness, I also appreciate the way he uses his autism sometimes, as in an encounter with Chang where he finds out that the study group are having a mixer and didn’t invite him. When Chang confronts him, Abed keeps repeating “we didn’t know how to reach you” and “it’s a mixer,” Chang walks off in frustration and Abed says “works every time.”

It’s like he’s parodying people’s expectations of an autistic person and then using it to his own benefit, It’s also great because it addresses the myth that crops up online with an annoying frequency, that if you think/know you have autism then you don’t have autism, because according to some people an autistic person would lack the self awareness to know they have autism. Completely ignoring the obvious fact of course, that autistic people grow up and develop too, just if not slower, then in a very different way. My point is that an autistic person may develop more self awareness as they grow older.

What I also like about Abed, is what Jeff referred to as his “I can’t tell real life from TV gimmick.” I like that Abed has this whole other world going on in his head and the show allows other people some insight into that.
It’s a very honest and fair portrayal of an AS character, one which does not over exaggerate the good things or overstate his capabilities, but one which also does not dwell on the negative either.