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Book Review: So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

When I was taking a course in web development, one of my projects was to re-create a poster known as The Holstee Manifesto, a series of short affirmations that stand out with big, small and medium sized fonts. These affirmations often say things like “if you don’t like your job, quit” or “live your dream and share your passion.” Basically, two brothers decided to quit their jobs during the 2009 recession and pursue their T-shirt passion project (Holstee) which they started with a friend. They defined what success would look like if “money wasn’t an object” (although their bio never really says what kind of lucrative career they might have had before they quit or whether they grew up with a fair amount of financial privilege that would allow them to quit their jobs and pursue their passion full-time. Not taking a dig at these guys. Just saying).

In Cal Newport’s 2012 book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, he argues that this idea that one should pursue only what they love, aka the passion hypothesis, is not only total B.S. but also harmful to people’s self-esteem and ideas of genuine happiness. Instead we need a much more realistic discussion of what the words success, happiness and passion actually mean. Before I read the book, I poo-pooed Newport’s idea and became sick and tired of hearing that my dreams of moving to New York City for my music career were unrealistic and I was just setting myself up to struggle miserably. After reading this book, I can’t even fathom why I would become so overly optimistic about such an ideal without considering how to put bread on the table, pay my rent or heck, even learn how to survive at all.

Newport opens his book with a true story of a young man named Thomas who travels the world after college in search of a career he enjoys. He finds his true calling at a Zen monastery in the Catskill Mountains of New York. He practices meditation and studies day and night to pass his koans, or word puzzles in the Zen tradition. However, this did not bring him true happiness and he found himself yet again asking, “What should I do with my life?” Newport uses this example at the beginning in order to support his argument that just because we think we have landed our dream job or found our passion does not mean this guarantees absolute happiness. In fact, he explains that people who find their true lifelong calling at a young age are rare and most people who are successful use a craftsman (or craftsperson, to include women and non-binary people) approach to their career instead of just simply starting off “doing what they love.”

Having a craftsperson mindset, unlike a passion mindset, means focusing on the value you can bring to your job (i.e. what you can offer an individual or company) rather than focusing on what the job can bring to you. Newport interviews a professional guitar player named Jordan and although he, Newport, started guitar at the same age as Jordan, took lessons and performed a lot of repertoire in various shows, he explains that he did not reach the level of proficiency that Jordan did. It wasn’t so much the number of hours they practiced their instruments, but what they did during those hours of practice. As a musician myself, I know how tempting it can be to just run a piece straight through during practice sessions and then move on to the next one because it seems fun to do so. However, I finally had to come to the conclusion that playing a piece straight through just isn’t efficient practice, and when you get on stage in front of an audience, you end up messing up worse than you did in the practice room, and soon later, burning out.

Jordan, however, practices in order to get better. According to Newport, when Jordan plays a wrong note or out of tune, he goes back and fixes it. Simple as that. He also seeks new opportunities to experiment with his technique, such as playing by ear. I myself have found it helpful to practice music by ear because it not only helps expand my repertoire (give me some P!nk songs any day of the week to hash out classical-style), but also gives me a chance to step outside my comfort zone. Even just by experimenting with how accurate the pitch I am playing is is an exercise in and of itself. I remember getting extremely burned out during my first professional orchestra audition because I just played all these difficult pieces at the last minute, straight through, no taking breaks for myself, and I burned out before my audition. However, two years later, I have been working diligently with my mentor on practicing with the specific intention to get better rather than just perform.

In my lesson one day, my teacher talked about the advice that famous comedian and actor Steve Martin gives to people who ask how they can be successful in their careers. Martin’s advice is always “Be so good they can’t ignore you” (hence the book’s title), and it’s the kind of advice most people don’t want to hear. Martin says that most people want advice on how to get an agent and write a script, but it really just came down to persistence and thinking outside the box that helped launch Martin’s career. His new act took ten years to actually achieve success, which goes to show that there really is no shortcut to fame.

Another key thing people need to have in order to find a job they actually can succeed in and love is career capital, aka the rare and valuable skills you can bring to the table. Alex Berger, a successful television writer, took on multiple projects that forced him to get out of his comfort zone and use feedback from his peers as an opportunity to improve upon his work and build his portfolio. According to Newport, how you leverage your skills depends on what kind of market in which you acquire career capital. A winner-takes-all market only has one type of career capital that people want and people compete to perfect this one type of career capital so they can get all the opportunities, the call-backs and so forth. Alex was writing for a winner-takes-all market, and the only thing that matter to employers in this industry is the quality of your scripts. An auction market, however, lets you acquire various types of career capital so that each person can generate their own original portfolio of varied skills that people in their field could be looking for.

Newport further argues that one also has to have a clear mission when they pursue a career. Pardis, a 35 year old biology professor at Harvard, enjoys her hobbies of playing guitar and volleyball, and that is in part because her work has a clear purpose and provides her the energy to keep pursuing these hobbies. She does her work not just so she can get grant money or recognition but because she wants specifically to use technology to fight some of the oldest diseases, such as malaria and the bubonic plague. However, Pardis began by building career capital, aka the rare computer algorithm she created to find disease-resistant genes, and using the knowledge she acquired over time to develop her research. In short, she focused on one small niche and then gradually expanded her work to fit a broader mission.

Newport tells an earlier story about a young woman named Jane, who dropped out of college to pursue ambitious goals such as surviving in the wilderness and learning how to breathe fire. She launched various businesses, freelance and blog posts to fund her own journey , but unfortunately lost motivation because she didn’t have anyone who was willing to help financially support her ambitions.What makes Pardis’ story different from that of Jane is that Pardis was patient with herself and developed her passion as she went along in her research so that she could build quality material to show people. She started small so that she could later enjoy succeeding big rather than just merely “dreaming” big. Jane, however, tried to dream big from the beginning and soon came up small. I found myself relating to Jane because I started off after college with this unrealistic idea that I was going to become a professional soloist and travel the world and play for various orchestras just to become rich and successful. But two years down the road I have done more research on the field and sought guidance from professional musicians, and have concluded that it is unrealistic (and downright horrible for your mental health) to magically expect your dreams will come true by quitting your day job and striking it out on your own with your instrument and a knapsack.

I have come to embrace Pardis’ story because she acquired a specific skill set and developed her findings over time while still pursuing what she loved on the side. Even as a musician, I have found using this blog to be helpful in developing my voice in writing and cultivating the art of patience. I know this blog will not be perfect overnight and it takes time to build a good blog, but as someone who tends to be a perfectionist I honestly have to remind myself of this every day. As a philosophy major I was constantly writing, editing my papers and learning how to craft a well-founded argument, sometimes until 2 in the morning. As a musician I have learned to take criticism, practice more efficiently, and perform under pressure. Working in customer service has enabled me to communicate on a human-to-human level and work well under pressure. Right after college, I assumed things would magically fall into place with my degree and a single orchestra audition and I got cynical and depressed when they didn’t. However, even my small accomplishments along the way have been immensely formative in helping craft a larger picture of what I want my life’s purpose to be. I believe that finding creative and valuable ways to use my skills in order to create career capital will help me confront my perfectionist tendencies, stay curious and open to feedback and ideas, and help me develop a clearer mission for my career.

Finally, Cal Newport talks about how developing a clear mission requires using small and achievable projects (little bets) to explore an idea of interest that could be of interest to the public. He discusses how the actor Chris Rock, for example, prepared a successful comedy set for one of his HBO specials. Rock made several surprise visits to a comedy club in the New Jersey area and took notes on a legal pad while on stage so he could figure out what material the audience was willing to see. Even though the audience didn’t really like most of his jokes during these visits, he actually admitted to them on stage that the jokes need improvement, and even the act of admitting it was all awkward for him made the audience laugh. Over time Rock’s series of mini-flops and mini-successes went into developing an original set that people actually enjoyed. Had he had the perfect set from Day 1, Rock wouldn’t have learned how to appeal to his audience, and moreover, how to create capital for his career.

One thing I liked about this book is the absence of a clear cut plan for how to achieve success. While it was nice reading Richard Bolles’ What Color Is Your Parachute? at first, I stopped doing the exercises and reading the book altogether. Even after taking all the self-assessments in the book, I still didn’t feel like I had a clear idea of what my ideal job would look like, and this depressed me even further. So Good They Can’t Ignore You cuts straight through the sugary fluff of “follow your passion” and gives concrete examples of people who have succeeded by starting off with realistic goals and following through with them, and also gives examples of those who didn’t do this and ended up struggling.

There is this awesome video by Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage of the popular personal finance site The Financial Diet in which the two elaborate on the flawed passion hypothesis by giving specific tips for how you can realistically achieve your goals, even if that means going against what some “inspirational” manifesto poster tells you to do.

Agree or disagree with the passion hypothesis? Comment below!

Sorrys- A poem

Sorrys are useless in the hands of cowards

Sorrys are useless when you have said them over and over again

Thank yous do not cover up the hurt you have caused.

Sorry are like sugar on a festering open wound

Sorrys are like giving roses and buttercream cake to cure a black and blue bruise

Sorrys do more harm than good in the end if delivered carelessly

Sorrys are empty when you have hurt the people who love you

Thank yous are a mindless void when delivered half eaten

Loving yourself is important

So you don’t keep making excuses for opening up fresh wounds to hurt people

When you hurt yourself, hurt others, you open up fresh wounds

You heal those wounds by reflecting on and loving you, not running away from life or hurting yourself even more.

By communicating openly.

Not hiding your hurt where people cannot find it.

By being honest with yourself.

By not getting wrapped up in your own pain.

You are beautiful. You are loved. Just as you are.

Don’t ever forget it.

ASMR Videos-My Thoughts

Ever since I was young I can remember feeling a warm tingling sensation every time I heard someone whispering or eating food. During summer school, I was in the classroom reading during my lunch break and there was a girl behind me eating potato chips. I felt my whole body tingling from head to toe, and felt like falling into a deep sleep. I never get tingly when I am hearing myself eat, but I get that warm and fuzzy feeling whenever I hear other people eating. In the library in college, I again got those tingles when I heard a student whispering the words they were studying for a foreign language exam. It put me at ease and made my morning feel that much better.

Before I heard of ASMR (an acronym for autonomous sensory meridian response) I thought I was the only one who felt calm whenever people ate food or talked in soft and soothing voices. But on YouTube there’s a whole community of ASMR folks and so I feel less alone because I know I’m not the only one experiencing it.

These videos on Youtube feature people eating, whispering or making other noises that elicit tingles in the viewer. While researchers are still trying to figure out what exactly in our brains triggers this kind of reaction, they have found that these videos particularly help people who have panic attacks, depression and insomnia. I know that these videos so far have been helpful in calming me down. Experiencing ASMR is very much like having a mental illness or synesthesia; it’s subjective and can’t exactly be measured quantitatively because it’s based on how we experience and see the world in our own individual way.

I think it’s also a gratifying experience for the person doing the ASMR video because they get to savor their food while looking into the camera and feel these tingly sensations themselves when they press into slime or a pillow. There’s something so aesthetically pleasing and, well, sensual about ASMR videos that it’s hard to explain other than the warm and fuzzy feeling.

It would be nice if I could do an ASMR video such as reading children’s books. Here’s a great Guardian article I read that tells more about ASMR.

4 Books That Hit Me So Hard (That I Won’t Be Able to Stomach Their Movie Adaptations)

I probably mentioned in an earlier post that I usually watch film adaptations after reading the books they are based off of. However, there are some books that were so graphic and intense that I’m too faint-hearted to watch them on screen. Maybe someday I will watch these films but as of now, these four books of were sufficient enough to stay forever lodged in my memory.

  1. The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden. This novel is narrated from the perspective of a Scottish doctor who is employed by Idi Amin, who in real life was the president of Uganda in the 1970s. I read this book in high school in world geography class because I wanted to learn more about Uganda’s political history during our unit on Africa. We had a list of movies we needed to see as part of our grade for the class, and I overheard a classmate ask my teacher if he could see The Last King of Scotland for his film grade (it wasn’t on the list because it was school district policy that the teacher couldn’t recommend any R-rated features). She approved but warned him to be prepared because “Idi Amin was a really nasty dictator”. Reading how the doctor, Nicholas, has to witness individuals endure incredibly brutal torture under Amin’s regime, and after seeing Forest Whitaker play Amin so accurately in the trailer, I decided that the book was enough to sit through. I love both Forest Whitaker and James McAvoy’s acting (Whitaker took home the Best Actor Award at the Oscars in 2007 for his depiction of Amin in the film) , but this is a movie I’ll have to sit out until I can officially muster the guts to stomach it.
  2. Schindler’s List (the Australian version is called Schindler’s Ark) by Thomas Keneally. A poignant novel based on the true account of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist and member of the Nazis who saved 1,200 Jews from concentration camps during the Holocaust. Like all works about the senseless killing of millions of human beings, expect graphic scenes of torture, murder and abuse. The book was enough to keep me up at night and honestly I wish I finished it in the daytime because it was enough to bring me to tears. After reading it, I was too emotionally exhausted to think about seeing the film.
  3. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. A black comedy that doesn’t adhere to the traditional linear narrative format, Welsh’s various characters share how they are either directly or indirectly influenced by heroin abuse and other forms of addiction. I know that black comedy is technically supposed to be funny, but weirdly enough I couldn’t remember laughing at any point during this book (except for the scene when one of the female characters, Kelly, gets back at a bunch of slimy dudes who harass her during her waitressing shift by putting gross stuff in their food). One scene that will never leave my memory is when Mark Renton, one of the main characters, goes to see a drug dealer who explains how he lost his leg from abusing heroin. I was already having a hard time dealing with the male characters’ poor treatment of women and their abuse of heroin, but this particular scene had me breaking down in tears so badly I didn’t think I would ever get to finish the book. Reading this one scene was worse than any anti-drug PSA I ever saw, and believe me, I’ve seen some pretty intense ones. Sounds melodramatic, I know but the novel had an impact on me and I can’t ever forget it, so I don’t think I will be able to handle the movie that well. I am now in my long hiatus from Irvine Welsh novels, but I want to read more of them because he’s a really good writer. Next time I read one of his works I will read it during the day time when I can better process it.
  4. Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby, Jr. I know trailers don’t always say a lot about a film, but the trailer for the movie adaptation of this novel was haunting. Even the poster gives me chills, with that big blue eye staring out at you like those of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. But that’s the point. Like Trainspotting, this novel scared me out of my wits because of how its characters lives spiral out of control when they abuse heroin. It’s supposed to scare readers and raise awareness of how abusing these drugs can make people feel a false sense of security with themselves, when in reality they miss out on life because they are dealing with the severe psychological, physical and emotional effects of heroin (and the effects of withdrawal). I read a synopsis of the film adaptation because I knew I’d be too chicken to actually sit down and watch it, although it would have probably scared everyone if they had shown it as part of our health class’ unit on drugs and alcohol. Like a lot of kids, I grew up with D.A.R.E. programs, drug-free pledges and D.A.R.E. bracelets in school, but Hubert Selby’s work is essentially the whole D.A.R.E. program in just 200-300 pages. Phenomenal book; however, until I can manage to get my stomach muscles in order, I remain too shooketh to see Darren Aronofsky’s film .

Got any more film adaptations to add to the list? Let me know in the comments.

Review: Bad Moms

First off, this film was HILARIOUS! 🙂 The gorgeous Mila Kunis plays Amy, a stressed out mom living in an affluent suburb who tries to please everyone. She works for a start-up coffee company where she is the oldest hard-working employee and her younger coworkers are just goofing off. She runs to PTA meetings. She also does her two kids’ homework, makes their lunches, drops them off at school and makes dinner. She is juggling so many things but never has time to herself. Even when her husband doesn’t value her or his kids, she takes his crap because she feels that’s what her duty is: to be the perfect mom.

She also has to deal with a clique of snooty PTA moms (played by Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith and Annie Mumolo) who run the meetings. When I first saw Annie Mumolo in this film, I thought, Wait, where do I know this lady from? And then I remembered she played an uptight mom in The Boss. 🙂

The movie has a lot of great social commentary about society’s expectations for mothers and generally how people perceive women to be the multitaskers and the ones to do everything. In my senior year of high school, I saw a documentary called Race to Nowhere, which talks about how kids today are stressed more than ever because of standardized tests and expectations for them to beef up their college resumes and essays with extracurriculars and other things. But Bad Moms shows how this school-related stress can have a toll on parents just as much as it does on their kids.

There’s also a really great book called How To Get Sh*t Done by Erin Falconer that would be a great tie-in to this film. In the book Erin talks about her own experiences with trying to please her partner, parents, friends and coworkers by taking on extracurriculars, lots of projects, and tasks at home. She says that women are not making enough time for themselves because society tells them they should be caretakers and that if you make any time for yourself, you’re not doing your job. She gives really good tips for time management and explains that the art of saying “no” is hard but important in helping women prioritize their time. In Bad Moms, Amy and the other moms feel like “bad moms” because they don’t always please their kids and partners. However, Amy eventually wakes up and realizes that unless she takes charge of her own time and learn to say “no” to being over-committed, other people will keep demanding her time and she will keep going through the vicious cycle of guilt, shame, resentment and passive-aggressiveness that comes with saying “yes” to everything.

She also comes to understand that she pampered her kids by doing everything for them and they grew up with a lack of appreciation for everything she did. One of the film’s best scenes is when she tells her son to start doing his homework by himself. When he gets upset with her and tells her he is a “slow learner” she tells him straight-up that he is not a slow-learner. Instead, she tells him, he grew up with a sense of entitlement and that if he keeps expecting her to do everything for him, he will carry that entitlement mentality with him as an adult and it won’t be good. There are a lot of kids whose parents can’t always be there for them. There’s a lot of kids whose parents die or divorce when they are young, so these kids have to learn how to take care of themselves. In a lot of families, kids have to hold down a job or two in high school so they can support their parents, and at the end of the day they still have school work to do, so they don’t have time to complain like Amy’s son did. This film in retrospect really taught me how to appreciate my parents more because they worked so hard to get me through school and encouraged me to study hard. I never had to have a job in high school but if I have kids, I want to encourage them after seeing this movie to make their own bed, laundry and meals, get a part-time job and, yes, to do their own homework. Whether or not they carry those habits with them to college is not for me to decide, but at least they would have learned independence early on.

In a way, the film raises an implied discussion on class and classism without explicitly talking about it. Gwendolyn, who chairs the PTA board, forbids the moms from making any treat with sugar or other refined ingredients. Amy goes out and buys donut holes for the bake sale anyway. However, it should be noted that her main reason for not baking treats was mainly because she didn’t want to. Food insecurity is still a reality in many places in this country, and moms living on low incomes can’t always afford to buy expensive ingredients and make treats for their kids’ bake sale. Amy also chooses to not go to her firm’s meeting because she is done with the people who work there. Many moms work jobs where they can’t just afford to take off whenever they feel like it. While I understand it’s supposed to be a funny film, it also raised some interesting questions about the correlation between class, privilege and self-care. Not all moms can afford to eat out, go to spas, or go drinking with friends.

Overall, the film was lots of fun, rich with thoughtful themes, and very touching too. Shout out to all the moms out there; thank you for being you! 🙂

Bad Moms. 1 hr 41 m. Rated R for sexual material, full-frontal nudity, language throughout, and drug and alcohol content.

Review: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Like many theaters, before I entered the theater there was a sign warning about the strobe lights in this film, and I’m glad that warning was there (I can’t remember there being one for any other action movie I saw, not even The Incredibles 2 and that had a lot of flashing images in it) . It was actually the first film I saw where the theater had a warning about strobe lights (to understand the significance of the strobe lights in the film, The Mighty has a piece about it here).

The film definitely does has a lot of strobe lights from the very beginning. Even as someone who does not have chronic illness or autism, I had to close my eyes at some point due to the flashing lights. The illustration of the characters, as well as that of the Spider-verse, however, was incredible and the characters really came to life on the screen. I also loved the soundtrack of the film (I found myself bobbing my head while “Hypnotize” by the Notorious B.I.G. played in one of the scenes). And similar to many action movies, the film’s beautiful score truly conveyed the intensity of the scenes.

The cast was also excellent. One of the villains, Doctor Octopus, is a female in this version of Spider-Man (in Spider-Man 2, Doc Ock is male), which is pretty epic in my opinion considering many villains tend to be men. For some reason Doc Ock looks like a combo of Professor Trelawney in Harry Potter and Shego in Kim Possible. At the end credits, there were several actors I didn’t even know were voicing the characters, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, and Nicholas Cage to name a few. The late Stan Lee also makes a cameo in the film (not telling when he appears if you haven’t seen it yet) and receives a touching tribute in the credits.

The film has a very encouraging message, too. The main character, Miles, is so inspired by Spider-Man, but he gets discouraged when he realizes how hard being a superhero actually is. However, like other Marvel and DC films, he learns that in order to truly defeat evil, he must conquer his self-doubt and confront the villains head-on in order to save his friends, family and society.

And also, let’s just say how thrilled I was to have a person of color playing Spider-Man! 🙂 Miles is half-African-American and half-Puerto Rican. The last film I saw by DC or Marvel that had a Black superhero was Black Panther.

Overall, I highly recommend this film. It deserves to win for Best Animated Picture at the Oscars.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. 1 hr 56 min. PG for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements and mild language.

10 Movies With LGBTQ+ Protagonists

Although there are hundreds of well-known movies featuring characters identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, these characters don’t often play major roles. Here is a short list of ten films I have seen that have LGBTQ people as the main characters. Have a box of Kleenexes handy next to that bowl of popcorn.

 1. A Fantastic Woman (2017)

A beautiful drama set in Chile about a trans-woman named Marina  who navigates the death of her partner, gender discrimination at the hands of his family, and her dream of becoming a famous singer. In real life the actress who plays Marina, Daniela Vega, changed Oscars history by becoming the first transgender person to present at the awards ceremony. In Spanish with English subtitles.

2. Moonlight (2016)

I don’t have many movies in my Amazon movie collection, but this movie is one of the few that made it in there. Truly compelling narrative about a young black man growing up in Miami and coming to terms with his sexuality. It tackles subjects such as abuse, race, poverty, and masculinity in nuanced ways that we don’t always see in mainstream movies with black male protagonists. There isn’t a lot of dialogue or flashy camera-work, and that is what makes the film so beautiful. I have seen it twice and still cry every time I see it. It deserved its Oscar (and also won for the best kiss scene at the MTV Movie Awards). 🙂 

3. Milk  (2008)

Riveting biopic about the first openly gay person elected to public office in California, this takes place during the beginnings of Harvey Milk’s campaign and progresses until his assassination in 1978. Now of course, since it’s a biopic and not a documentary, there’s probably at least one historian who would say there were facts about Milk’s life that the film could have done a better job of portraying. However, if you have never studied or heard of Harvey Milk, watching this film will at least give you a brief glimpse of his political campaign and his life. The movie has an especially big impact on LGBTQ+ activists because it came out the same year as Proposition 8, an anti-gay amendment that would have outlawed same-sex marriage. If you Google “Milk movie and prop 8”, you’ll find countless articles about the topic.

4. Rent (2005)

I watched this movie for the first time at a Gay-Straight Alliance meeting in high school and still to this day remember most, if not all, of the musical’s numbers by heart. Jonathan Larson, who directed the original Broadway, died at a young age shortly after its production, but he goes down in history as a playwright who addressed real-life issues, such as poverty, sexuality and AIDS, in his productions. While I am sad I will never get to see the actual show (it’s no longer on Broadway), I always know I can watch the movie on a rainy day.

5. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Directed by Luca Guadagnino, this adaptation of the novel by Andre Aciman (I haven’t yet read it but want to) tells the story of a teenager named Elio who meets a 20-something graduate student while living with his parents in ’80s Italy. At first their personalities clash; Elio is an introvert, and Oliver, the grad student, is more outgoing. However, the two soon fall in love with one another, and both men find themselves conflicted about their relationship. I have heard many criticisms of the film, mainly about the ethics of Elio and Oliver’s age-gap relationship (Slate has a great article about it here (https://slate.com/human-interest/2017/11/the-ethics-of-call-me-by-your-names-age-gap-sexual-relationship-explored.html). However, while watching the film, I found their relationship to be more complex than just an older man dating a younger man. Overall, the film was beautiful and made me fall in love with Timothee Chalamet.

6. The Misadventures of Cameron Post (2018)

Excellently directed film about a lesbian teen (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) whose aunt forces her to attend a gay conversion therapy program in an attempt to force her to become straight. During her time at the program, she meets a host of characters who, like her, are just trying to make it through the program and its haunting leader, played by Jennifer Ehle. I haven’t read the book yet, but I now really want to after seeing the film. It’s also the first LGBTQ film I have seen that features an queer-identifying Native American character. It’s a really good movie, and I can’t wait to read the book it’s based on. 

7. Pariah (2011)

A young black lesbian named Alike alternates between her social life, where she is free to be her cool queer self with her close friends, and her everyday life at home and at school, where she is forced to conform to everyone’s ideas about how she should dress and behave. When she meets the daughter of her mom’s friend, everything changes and Alike begins to come into her identity as a young queer black woman.

8. The Kids Are All Right (2010) 

A moving comedy-drama about a lesbian couple, played by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, who meet the father of their teenage children. It was my second LGBTQ film after Rent and I absolutely wouldn’t mind seeing it again.

9. Love, Simon (2018) 

A sweet coming-of-age film about a teen named Simon who has a great life and great parents but is secretly in love with another boy at school. One of his classmates, Martin, threatens to publicly announce that Simon is gay if he doesn’t get his friend, Abbie, to go out with Martin. It is overall a beautiful film and the novel by Becky Albertalli was also beautifully written.

10. Carol (2015) 

A 1950s love story about a married older woman, played by Cate Blanchett, who falls in love with a young woman who works as a sales clerk, played by Rooney Mara. Their relationship is secret, but the two find themselves conflicted as they try to make time to see each other without letting their male partners know. Powerful complex film, especially if you love historical movies.

I am obviously leaving out many more films that feature LGBTQ+ protagonists, so this list is not at all comprehensive. But these ten recommendations are a good start to watching more LGBTQ+ themed cinema.

Got any rainbow-friendly movies to recommend? Let me know!

Why the Arts?

The arts are a very important part of how we function as humans. Literature, music, dance, film, visual art..the list of mediums of creative expression are endless. Countless studies have shown the arts to be beneficial for students’ academic performance as well as the psychological and physical well-being of individuals in general. People have also used the arts to address many social injustices, such as climate change, gender inequality and human rights.

As an artist I felt it was important to start this blog because I believe art should be shared just as much as it should be consumed like food and water. I have multiple influences in the arts that go into the creation of my music, and I want to share these influences with a wider audience. I hope you enjoy. 🙂