Tag Archives: disease

Hollywood’s Cover-Ups or Indonesia’s Castration Method: How Should We Deal With Pedophiles?

The sexual assault of a child is the most abhorrent crime in the world. As a society we curse those who commit such crimes and refuse to recognize them as anything but outsiders and deviants. Unfortunately, pedophilia is far more common than we care to admit.

Former child actors Elijah Wood and Corey Feldman recently drew attention to the problem of pedophilia in Hollywood. While Wood only pointed to events he had heard about (and last year’s documentary film, An Open Secret), Feldman referred to his own experience with abuse

Unfortunately for Feldman, even if he would like to call out the men who abused him as a child he is unable to do so for legal reasons:

I would love to name names. I’d love to be the first to do it. But unfortunately California conveniently enough has a statute of limitations that prevents that from happening. Because if I were to go and mention anybody’s name I would be the one that would be in legal problems and I’m the one that would be sued.

In a stark juxtaposition to Hollywood, Indonesia is also in the news for their dealings with pedophiles. After a 14-year-old girl was brutally gang raped and then murdered, President Joko Widodo introduced a new law that would mean the death penalty or chemical castration for the sexual assault of a minor.

After reading about the injustice of Hollywood, where survivors are unable to prosecute the predators who took advantage of them, reading about Indonesia can feel like a breath of fresh air. However, it’s worth looking beyond our gut reaction to ask if forced chemical castration, and the possibility of the death penalty, will actually work as a deterrent against the sexual assault of a minor. Continue reading

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The Strain: It’s Nosferatu on Steroids

My last quasi-review on this blog was of Helix, a sci-fi horror show about a strange and deadly contagion which had overpowered a research lab in the arctic circle. My issue wasn’t with the set or the story, but rather that Helix wasn’t really about anything. Science fiction is a medium for us to explore big ideas, like the line between humanity and technology, free will, and responsibility. The horror genre functions the same way, with its stories serving as ways for us to examine the duality of our nature…

…our place in the cosmos…

…and questions of faith.

Going into The Strain, my biggest question was “what’s this all about?”, and readers, I’m not entirely sure. What I do know is that it’s a blast.

Continue reading

Fame Day: Seth Rogen, Alzheimer’s Disease Activist

sethrogenalzheimersdiseaseactivist

“America whispers the word Alzheimer’s because their government whispers the word Alzheimer’s, and although a whisper is better than the silence that the Alzheimer’s community has been facing for decades it’s still not enough.”

Those make up some of the closing remarks from a man who starred opposite James Franco in a hilarious parody of Kanye West’s “Bound 2” music video. An actor who portrayed a disgruntled barista whose get-rich-quick idea scheme was to create the adult film Swallow My Cockuccino. He’s the one responsible for co-writing a film that starred Jonah Hill being anally violated by a demon [spoilers for This Is The End, my bad].

Seth Rogen is all of those things, but he is also an Alzheimer’s disease activist. Continue reading

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

This is the final panel of one of my favorite Calvin & Hobbes strips, though as you can see it works just fine on its own as well. Ignorance is an issue. It always has been, and it probably always will be. The issue is that today it seems that misunderstandings about the nature of tolerance and free speech, as well as the prevalence of Postmodernism, have really given it a haven the likes of which hasn’t existed before. But we’re not here to dissect just where ignorance is coming from in modern culture, we’re here to talk about some of the absolutely dangerous myths that it’s producing and why they are just plan wrong.

I. “Vaccines Cause Autism”

Chances are pretty high that you’re already familiar with this one, and while most folks are fully aware of just how untrue this myth is, it remains nevertheless one of the most dangerous ones out there today. I’m not just talking about the preventable deaths of thousands of people (which is justification, of course, in and of itself) but about the potential damage it can cause. You’re not just exposing yourself to infection, you’re allowing yourself to serve as a potential carrier to infect others.

And of course, this is exactly what’s happening now.

See NPR’s article on the subject here.

Look, I could spend all day rehashing article after article after scientific study demonstrating that no, vaccines do not cause autism, and no, the substances which make up most vaccines are more prevalent in plenty of other substances- but let us, just for a moment, entertain this superstition as being real.

So what if vaccines can cause autism (which they don’t)? Continue reading

Helix and the Trouble with Tropes

Good science fiction is tough to come by. There’re plenty of factors we could point the finger at for that, but more often than not, it seems the people who produce sci-fi just don’t quite understand how it works.

Science fiction is, at its core, a means of exploring some sort of political or philosophical or ethical question. The spaceships, the time travel, brave new worlds- they’re all framing devices for questions about what makes us human…

…how we treat others…

…or our place in the universe.

Continue reading

Apocalypse Wow

There is, if sources are to be believed, going to be a rebooted Left Behind movie coming out sometime next year.

Your reaction should be as follows:

If it isn’t, then you probably aren’t familiar with the series (and should count yourself truly fortunate), so for you blissfully innocent, here’s the basic run-down.

The Left Behind series is based on the book of Revelation in the Bible, as well as certain (delectably) apocalyptic verses in Old Testament books. I say “based on”, but that’s more to demonstrate the authors’ intentions. Left Behind is “based on” the book of Revelation in the same way that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is based on Vasari’s biographies of Italian Renaissance artists.

In the sixteen-novel series, all true (cough, Protestant, cough) Christians have been “raptured” (removed from the world and taken directly to the after life), leaving behind the unsaved protagonists of the story who find themselves contending with the oncoming “tribulations” (the host of hardships and catastrophes marking the end times) and the rise of the antichrist, who walks the earth in the form of a Romanian politician who takes control of the UN (because, you know, there’s no one more powerful than the UN).

Things more powerful than the UN:
The Student Government of MLK Jr. Middle School,
A Junior Sales Rep from Prescott Pharmaceuticals,
Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua

Needless to say, I don’t think very highly of the series. But hey, if we’re looking for badly written fan-fiction, why not haul Twilight to the guillotine?

It’s because of the fan part. That’s what really gets me. We’re not talking about someone fawning over the idea of stalker-veggie-sparkle-vampires, we’re talking about someone fawning over the idea of millions- billions– of human beings undergoing agonizing deaths. Think I’m reading into things? Take a look at this passage from the series:

The riders not thrown leaped from their horses and tried to control them with the reins, but even as they struggled, their own flesh dissolved, their eyes melted, and their tongues disintegrated. As Rayford watched, the soldiers stood briefly as skeletons in now-baggy uniforms, then dropped in heaps of bones as the blinded horses continued to fume and rant and rave.

Seconds later the same plague afflicted the horses, their flesh and eyes and tongues melting away, leaving grotesque skeletons standing, before they too rattled to the pavement.

You might say “Sure, that’s violent, but that isn’t exactly glorifying it, is it?”. Let me continue on.

…Jesus nudged His magnificent white charger and descended to the top of the Mount of Olives.

As He dismounted, Carpathia shrieked out his final command, “Attack!” The hundred thousand troops followed orders, horsemen at full gallop firing, foot soldiers running and firing, rolling stock rolling and firing.

And Jesus said, in that voice like a trumpet and the sound of rushing waters, “I AM WHO I AM.”

At that instant the Mount of Olives split in two from east to west, the place Jesus stood moving to the north and the place where the Unity Army stood moving to the south, leaving a large valley.

All the firing and the running and the galloping and the rolling stopped. The soldiers screamed and fell, their bodies bursting open from head to toe…

So much for turning the other cheek, eh?

And here’s what gets me about the series. It’s not the generally bad writing or the twisted theology- it’s just how freakishly popular the series is. Popular enough not to spawn just one movie attempt, but two. It’s hard enough for good stories to get a second chance at something like that, let alone this junk. And it’s the implication of that popularity which gnaws at me. There are people out there- a lot of people- who genuinely look forward to this supposed apocalyptic scenario, or an apocalyptic scenario, anyhow. People who fully expect the end of the world to be a plague and hellfire ridden Armageddon, complete with WWIII and genocide of unheard of proportions. People who look forward to this- and not in a “in the sweet by and by” way, I’m talking about a “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” kind of way.

You can’t deny that this blood-thirsty anticipation does exist. If you’re even only vaguely familiar with the Christian (American-Christian, more on that in a second) subculture, you’ll almost have certainly run into this. There’s plenty of other lousy Armageddon fantasies out there.

And what makes it all the worse is just how utterly undeserved all this hidden vitriol is. This vengeful glee isn’t coming from people who have been mercilessly persecuted for their faith. This isn’t coming from the families of martyrs or the congregations of assassinated priests and pastors in the third world. The churches of Africa, Asia, and South America have enough problems combating war, poverty, and disease to be drooling over prophesied war, poverty, and disease. No, this is the bitter vindictiveness that only comfort and safety can breed. All this body-bursting leering isn’t a result of imprisonment (not that it would be justified there either), it’s a result of being snubbed by Bill Maher or portrayed as yokels on some sitcom.

That’s just messed up.

Now this isn’t Shame Day, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all gather ’round and ruthlessly mock something that so richly deserves it, and if this drivel doesn’t deserve it, I don’t know what does.