Media Responsibility

In TV shows, Movies, Books. Evil people are evil just to be evil. Dicks are just dicks. There is no deeper meaning or reason behind what they do and no one’s motivation is truly important unless the point of the story is to examine their motivation.

Recently I posted about two different kinds of bullying. The bullying of “I am having fun at your expense and it makes me feel better to hurt you” and the “You are not acting like the rest of us step in line bullying.”

In the last 5 years or so our media has jumped all over the first one while virtually ignoring the second. Usually the two don’t touch so I don’t have much of an issue with media not necessarily wanting to touch it as it’s hard to make people see themselves as the problem and solution.

This brings me to Girl Meets World. There are two different episodes that specifically deal with bullying in the show and they handle it in two very different ways.

In the first they explore the motivation behind the bully and turn the bully to a friend. In the second they condemn and ostracize the bully and in fact this “ghost” isn’t even shown on screen she doesn’t matter she’s nothing.

At the time I cheered alongside everyone else when Riley stood up to her bully. Today I realized I had cheered for someone “standing up to” me.

I wasn’t a bully in middle school. Not like this girl who bullied Riley but I know why she bullied Riley. Because her anger was my anger I just didn’t express it to specific people I would just be mad.

See in the American School System when you go from Elementary to Middle School to High School they merge schools. So Middle School will be the combination of three to four Elementary schools and so on.

Riley went to an elementary school where she met Farkle and Maya thus having friends that embraced her manic pixie perky dream girl ways and loved her for them.

Riley’s bully didn’t go to their elementary school but was just like Riley. No the show never tells us that but the show doesn’t give us a reason and makes it clear that Riley pisses off the Bully just by being Riley.

Do you know why just the way someone is would piss off a middle schooler? Because she spent from 1st to 5th grade being mocked, teased and tormented for being like Riley because at her school there is no Farkle or Maya and the other kids find who she is annoying don’t get to know her and work to change her not caring how that hurts her.

She arrives to middle school with not just the rest of her elementary school but the other elementary schools too like the one that Riley, Farkle, and Maya went to. More kids and more maturity result in a lot of the kids that Bully went to school with liking Riley and thinking Riley’s pretty cool and isn’t it awesome how upbeat she is.

Suddenly Bully is shocked for a second she felt sorry for Riley knowing any day her peers were going to turn on Riley but instead Riley becomes popular and well liked by the very people who tortured Bully for being just like Riley. Bully carries this anger around in her for a long time. Then one day something snaps. The wrong person could pick on her and a fight would break out. One of her peers that loves Riley and no longer remembers why they hate Bully picks on her out of habit. But neither of these things happen.

Instead Bully walking sad and alone after school comes across Riley the girl that’s just like who she was. Riley is being carefree and happy. It’s just not fair Riley is popular and well liked but Bully was tortured and teased. So Bully snaps and starts to show Riley what it’s like starts torturing Riley like she was.

But then Riley’s friends rally around her and the kids that used to pick on Bully rally around and the whole School rallies around her and they all stand up to Bully and they show Bully. “You don’t matter, you’re nothing you’re meaningless you don’t exist” So Bully goes away. Bully vanishes. People forget Bully even exists.

But we cheer for them because they stood up to bully. We cheer for them for destroying bully. We forget Bully was person. We forget Bully cared too.

Unlike when Farkle was bullied by a popular kid who was just jealous of his friendship with Lucas unlike the popular kid who fit in and had a name and was forgiven. Bully is erased.

If Bully is lucky in High School she will find others who will let her be like Riley again. Will let her exist again. Maybe not until College. But hopefully if she lives long enough she will exist.

So if the media is going to take it upon themselves to stop bullying then don’t they have the responsibility to show all causes of bullying not just the “easy” causes like jealousy?

A few years ago my daughter went to her mom who said, “they are just insecure” and said nothing to the teachers. She went to her grandmother who said “Just ignore them”

When she got to me I had to ask her what was wrong and got it out of her that she was being bullied at school. I was the first one to ask her exactly what they were doing.

It turned out they were making yo mama style jokes. This meant one of two things. They were trying to hurt her feelings or being little kids they were telling stupid jokes in an attempt for friendship.

Either way the solution is the same. You laugh. It’s not the solution to all bullying and each case of bullying can have different underlying causes but there’s enough of a sense you can figure out which. I told her “If they say a yo mama joke about your mom you laugh and make another one yourself”

My daughter was excited the next day when she got home from school because she had tried my advice and had gained herself new friends who loved talking about Pokemon. My kid like me is a babbler and they just didn’t know how to talk to her or get a word in edge wise. The jokes were their trying to reach out.

One of the biggest hugs I ever got from my kid.

To answer the question earlier I think yes Media has a responsibility. Riley could have befriended her Bully she could have figured out why her Bully was mad. It even could have played out right up to her dancing anyway right up to her speech even filmed the same way and then be asked by Riley “Why do you make fun of me for this” that moment the camera could have suddenly turned and Bully is no longer an invisible girl but is a girl named Sarah who is holding back tears pointing at some of the kids supporting Riley and muttering “All the way until the 5th grade those kids mocked me for acting like you do but they think you’re awesome and it’s not fair it’s just not fair” She would have broken down crying Riley would have hugged her and then the show would cut to a couple days later the empty hall after school Riley comes into view and starts dancing and is joined by Sarah who starts dancing with her. A bullied broken girl pulled back from a bad path and given a chance to be a friend.

Because let’s remember this about these shows they’re still just kids. Not Monsters.


When Anonymity stops being a shield and becomes a wall

I have been playing around online since I was 10 years old way back in good ol 1991 (yes dating myself) when my dad got Prodigy and set me up to email the daughter of a friend of his and play Where in the world is Carmen San Diego on an online server.

God things change. And that’s kind of what this is about. Growing up through my teen years the internet was always a thing that was there in my house. My dad was a software engineer and he insisted that, “No matter what job you do when you grow up computers will be involved so you are going to learn to use them” Not only was typing class mandatory but my dad even made me practice at home.

Needless to say I got very comfortable with a computer and for lonely gawky kid who didn’t fit in with the other more mainstream kids the internet offered me a chance to discover other parts of the world. So background set at 15 I took the leap from emailing a girl I quasi-knew to chatting with complete strangers of all ages at all hours of day or night.

There was a hard set rule. Pick a Handle, what we called a screen name back then, dude dude dude you’re nobody without a handle you had to have a handle (bonus points for reference). This was your Identity online. No one was to know who you were, where you lived, how old you were or anything.

Everything was to stay cloaked. It was even kind of a two way street I realized not only was no one online to know about you. No one offline should know either. Because you were free. Online you could say anything, be anyone. It made you free to explore the world. I was a scared lonely 15 year old kid but no one could get a hand on me I was safe.

I could pretend I was 18. I could ask questions I had no friends to ask. Learn things no teacher would teach me. I could find out that I wasn’t alone that after I hit 18 in the real world there was a whole world out there of Ghost People. Some who were still slipping through the cracks of society. Some may have dwelled in parents basements but more likely they were like my first boss. Someone who didn’t have much but had their own place and just wanted to connect to other people while not having the money to go out.

As I spent more time online I graduated high school and spent some time in college where I finally made some real world friends and my online presence lessened. I had reached that promised land of adulthood the bullies went away and forgot I existed. People stepped up who thought I was cool and funny. Life continued and the Earth turned.

Then years later a friend asks, “Hey why didn’t you show up to my party?” “What party?” “The party I invited everyone to on Facebook didn’t you see it?” “Face..Book?” (To be fair it hadn’t been around long and Myspace was the only one I had really heard of or been on)

So realizing my friends had made the leap from actually inviting people to just trusting a website to do it for them. I had no choice I joined up, “but hey” the voice of nostalgia screamed in my head “I haven’t had a handle in awhile it will be fun to have a new one”

Then I arrive at the site and informed that fake names will not be allowed and that only legal names are to be used. It was like shattering glass. “Real Names on the Internet surely you jest” “I do not and don’t call me Shirely” (that one’s kind of a gimme) Well I have been toying with the idea of trying to get published under a pen name and it sounds real enough so I slap it on there and for years it works.

Then one day I read a reputable article from a business publication and it informs me that since the Internet has become so ingrained in everyday life that not only do employers Google your name to check for a social media presence but if they don’t find one no matter how many real world friends and family you have you will be deemed a lone crazy whose going to shoot up the company picnic.

So pondering a lack of job offers, imagining a bunch of questioning looks and thinking “Wait,what?” I trudge to Facebook and switch it for the first time ever anywhere online that my handle is now my legal name. The one I was born under the one I work under.

As I do glancing over the occasionally, racist, sexist, other ists postings that friends and family throw up on my wall I ponder just when the hell the world decided that a man with family and friends and a rich real world life is crazier than the lonely 15 year old desperately reaching out online for anyone to listen to him if he won’t give out his real name?

I know there are still places that accept a screen name. I know there are places you can pretend to be someone else. But now everyone puts all of their information out on the internet literally the most public forum in the world and then screams about their right to privacy being violated when people actually look at what they write. They eagerly turn to the internet to store all of their most precious secrets thinking of the internet as if it were Fort Knox instead when it’s more like the quiet coffee shop down the street.

So here I am internet out and proud. I value my privacy more than most of you but no longer care about my anonymity. Jack Faire as you may have figured out is my screenname my handle. The one I have used on many sites in many places hiding in plain sight.

The ironic thing was when I started writing I wondered “How anonymous am I really what’s my online presence?” So I googled my name. Not my screenname not old handles but my actual legal given to me at birth name. I googled Derek Wheeler.

‘Here it comes’ I thought waiting for the deluge of information that people panicking about a total lack of anonymity, I am sorry you call it privacy don’t you….cute, are expecting there to be.

And I am utterly shocked. It’s not that I did a wonderful job hiding myself. It’s not that no one’s ever figured out that my address can be looked up in phone books. No the cosmic joke that is on me that means that even now having revealed myself to the world it turns out that I am not real.

Nope I am fictional I am made up. Or at least that is what the internet insists on telling me. Turns out that the first result for my name is a character from a show that last saw the character when I was 23 years old. First search result for my pen name of Jack Faire is me. Well damn.

I am not crazy world. I’m here I’m not crazy.

Boy Meets World by the shores of Dawson’s Creek

“Every little boy marries someone like his mother,” is something I heard a lot growing up and to be frank the idea of this terrified me to my core. As an adult my mom and I have mended fences and developed an adult relationship that is lucky to have survived my childhood. My childhood was a balance of hidden abuse and typical middle class childhood.

On paper my childhood was pretty good over all. Was fed, clothed, and a roof kept over my head. However my parents were abusive and amoral. My late father decided his children looked like good sex toys and my mother would forget her temper and let out a slap that would leave a pretty good sized bruise. I know a good portion of you just rolled your eyes at the part of my mom slapping me and I get it some of you were punished that way and don’t see it as abuse.

Here is the difference if your mom gave you a good slap because you were getting out of line and that was how she kept you in line then chances are while not condoned these days probably wasn’t abuse. But if your mom smacked the shit out of you not caring in anyway that you were getting out of line and really just was so angry she felt the need to hurt you it was abuse. Again my mom and I have buried the hatchet so let’s move on.

These are things I don’t particularly want to dwell on but feel inform the nature of this blog. See growing up I didn’t have the best role models. As bad as my immediate family was my extended family wasn’t much better. My uncle was a registered sex offender, sensing a trend, and my paternal grandmother was a bit of a drinker and kind of mean to women namely my mom and my sister.

With all of those lame people in my life I should have been off doing drugs with my older brother, doing drugs with my younger brother, or doing drugs with my younger sister, hey she’s clean now and has three kids with her husband woohoo.

My family didn’t turn out so well is what I am saying and while that all sucks and boohoo pity party whatever that’s not the point of this blog. I was raised by TV yup just like it says up there. I grew up knowing right from wrong, I didn’t do drugs, thought smoking was uncool, and didn’t start drinking alcohol until I was 20. Forgive me I was early.

So now that we have gotten all of the messy here is what this blog means stuff out of the way I hope you will join me for the first blog. So here we go.

When I was 11 there was a show called Boy Meets World that came on the air. That is when I met Mr. Feeny. 10 years later he would say, “I love you all” and make me cry, The end. Oh wait you want more? Yeah sorry about that okay more it is.

So at the time I was in the 6th Grade and it was the first and, until it’s sequel, last time that a show came on the air where the characters were my age and going through life at the same time as me and could relate to me. So much of what was on TV either focused on the parents or on kids existing in some bubble where parents didn’t exist. For me Cory, Topanga, and Shawn were the group of friends I didn’t have at school.

For years I would watch them and even at times when I would make real friends they would be there. The show taught me what real friendship was and we may talk about that more another time but today is about Her. In Cory’s life there was Topanga that good friend that was a girl that became the love of his life. Physically and spiritually she became my type. I loved the way she looked and I loved the new agey love will conquer all thing she had going on, seriously did you know she’s a lawyer now?

I think I started scouring my school looking for girls like her because I knew Cory had himself a good thing. I never found her right away though. But I was missing a component an element of sass.

This is where I say by the shores of Dawson’s Creek. You see I am not just a Cory. I am also a Pacey Witter. I am a smart guy from a dysfunctional family who squandered much of his potential in high school and spent a long time after trying to find his calling. Through it all though was his “partner in irreverence” at least I think that’s what he said.

Joey was this smart ass smart as a whip woman that could take Pacey’s ascerbic wit and spit it right back at him. Dawson may have been the writer but there was no way he was keeping up with these two. I could see it as early as season 1 they had something special.

This isn’t about Joey or Topanga though. This is about Siobhan. See while I dropped out to get married have a kid and do a stint in the Army I did attend college for awhile.

While I was a student I had met a group of like minded outcasts who called ourselves the TableDwellers. Kiddies this was the days before there were Superhero movies before podcasting. Nerdist was just a host on a show called Guys Like us?!?! seriously Singled out was done by then? Huh what was that show about? Was it good? Damn now I have to look that up.

Oh right sorry anyway where was I. Oh yeah so okay we were freaks and geeks in the year when that show was hitting the airwaves. We were sitting at this table in one of the common areas and just hanging out all of the time. I was talking to someone whose name and face would be blasted out of my head in but a few moments. I heard a new person walk up to the table and turned to great them.

That’s when I saw Siobhan. I found myself looking her up and down taking in everything about her the way she moved the way she dressed everything. She definitely looked good if a bit preppy looking. Around her neck I was very happy to see she was wearing a pentacle and the words popped out of my mouth before I even got the chance to stop them.

“Oh wow you’re like a preppy wiccan!” ¬†guys if looks could kill I would be ghost writing this and hanging with my main man Casper. I proceeded to receive a tongue lashing the likes of which if retyped here would retroactively cause the internet to cease to exist.

I was in love. I had found my Joey Potter and Topanga all in the same person. This woman would fascinate me and frustrate me for days until she decided I was okay and hadn’t meant any harm by it. It was too late for her I was hooked and in love. Sadly your pal Jack was too stupid to speak up and they went their separate ways coming back together many times over the years.

These days she is my best friend in the world and we are planning projects together including a film I am writing for our company, Preppy Wiccan Productions, Kickstarter pending.

I just wanted in this first blog to thank her for her years of friendship and share with you how TV helped to raise me to want to marry a woman that couldn’t be more different than my mom. The only face slapping she does is when I make her facepalm.

If you liked this let me know if you didn’t and have constructive criticism also let me know. If meanwhile you absolutely hated it and feel like your hatred is so important that you must share it with me because I have somehow magically ruined your life. Damn I am good, then please also tell me. I spent 10 years in Customer Service nothing you can say will hurt.

So until next time this is Jack Faire saying if you can’t Low Five yourself then who can you Low five.