Mark my words: On June 15th, I will release a five song EP.
I hope taking this out of context won’t detract too much from the effect:
Reality becomes synonymous with rot, proving an apparent insufficiency. Then, finding itself unable to cope with a reality infested with a seemingly indispensable psychosis, society begins a desperate search for meaning. Overflowing artificiality is placed upon the scales of natural order with the hope that when an imbalanced perspective is weighed against an impartial world a solution will emerge. The scales tip, and they point toward the otherworldly. God is born.
If anything marks my progress as a writer this semester, it’s the difference between my most recent most - “A Consideration” - and my first post - “Word Gamer.”
Can you guess why?
(Here’s a hint../answer: I used way too many big words in the past)
“Consider your audience.”
My stomach doesn’t like these words. Each time my ear picks them up, my gut makes my brain ask my psyche questions such as, “Won’t this ruin my creativity? Isn’t this morally wrong?”
All this leads to stress which in turn leads to thinking. “When I try to make writing people will like, aren’t I manipulating them?” I used to think holding doors for people was a veiled attempt at manipulation. During those days, very little faith in selfless behavior entered my very big head.
I can hold doors for people now; I just can’t write for them. When I’m told to do so, the teenage spirit of rebellion somehow enters my twenty-year-old body and convinces me to avoid writing. The funny thing is, telling myself I’m rebelling on the basis of moral consideration is itself a moral failure, because I’m lying.
I don’t have a problem losing a game or two of checkers. I have a problem with losing a game of writing. Probably because I’m a word gamer.
Well, I’ve mentioned before in class that I rap. I’ve had this song mostly finished for more than half a year, but production delays and my own feeling that the song wasn’t finished enough prevented me from releasing the song. I recently showed the song to a few friends, and based on their reaction and encouragement, I decided that might be a good idea to release the song. So, here you go. This is the mostly finished single off “Oasis,” the mixtape I worked on last summer.
Every movie one watches has the ability to subconsciously transmit values to its viewing audience. Therefore, in order to avoid indoctrination, one needs to bring a critical eye to the theatre and consider the true meaning behind the movies one views. Disney Pixar’s Monster’s Inc. was a huge commercial success which grossed over $500,000,000 and influenced the lives of millions of people. On the surface, the movie appears to be a harmless tale which chronicles the story of a struggle to overthrow Monstropolis’s, the fictional setting in which the story takes place, corrupt practice of scaring children for energy. Time magazine’s movie reviewer Richard Corliss has this to say about the movie: “In this film the real monsters are bad manners… and corporate myopia… the good guys are those who realize that laughter is stronger than fear. That’s a message worth taking to heart these jittery days” (Corliss). This reviewer has failed to bring a critical eye to his viewing of Monster’s Inc. and has passed over the movie’s subtly inserted dehumanizing messages. Monster’s Inc. is a movie which praises individuals who willingly sacrifice themselves to uphold a corrupt social order. A close look at the structure of Monster’s Inc. will show this to be the case.
James “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman) and Michael “Mike” Wazowski (Billy Crystal) are residents of Monstropolis who are employed by Monsters Inc., a massive, extremely influential corporation. That Monsters Inc. is enormously wealthy corporation is demonstrated by the fact that the monolithic exterior of the building which houses the corporation is made almost entirely of concrete – concrete buildings cost much more to construct than steel buildings. Corporate wealth, power, and influence is further demonstrated through the building’s front door which leads to an extravagant interior complete with high ceilings and, in the middle of the room, a massive representation of the corporate logo: a blue ‘M’ which contains a wide-open, watchful eye in the middle of it. Corporate waste can found in the unnecessary, massive scale of this room of and also in the “scare floor” in which Sulley and Mike work. This room houses a massive television screen which serves the dual purpose of encouraging competition between workers and, through flashing terror alerts, keeping workers constantly aware of the danger their profession entails.
The danger of this profession comes through the chance of potential contact with children who are believed to be toxic enough that a single touch can cause death. Early on in the movie, this danger is made clear when a monster comes in contact with a child’s sock and his helper frightfully calls for help from the CDA (Child Detection Agency). Countless CDA members burst onto the scene that remove the sock and use explosives to destroy it. This terrifies all of Monsters Inc. employees. Given the apparent psychological and physical risk associated with a job which requires one to come face to face with death each work day, one would expect Monsters Inc. to provide its employees with ample benefits. This is not the case. Sulley, the corporation’s top scarer, lives in a small apartment. Mike, his helper, has trouble getting reservations at a fancy restaurant.
One night, Sulley stays late after work to collect and file the paperwork which Mike has left on the scare floor. Sulley notices that another employee, Randall Boggs, is apparently working off the clock. Randall has left a door to a child’s room out in the open, and after exploring this door, Sulley unintentionally lets a child, aptly named “Boo,” enter the world of Monstropolis. The child clings to Sulley’s tail, and, fearing for his life, Sulley desperately tries to get away. He is unable to do so, and he decides to ask Mike for help.
Mike and Sulley proceed to talk over whether or not they want to keep the child, and Mike tells Sulley he fears sharing a fate with Big Foot or the Abominable Snowman who have both been banished from Monstropolis. The casual tone in which Mike cites these cases of banishment implies that banishment is common knowledge for the citizens of Monstropolis. How the threat of banishment came to be common knowledge is never explained. Perhaps Monsters Inc. itself is responsible? The corporate influence on the community makes this a possibility, and the motive, perpetuating power through keeping the public subordinated through fear, is there as well. The truth is that Sulley and Mike have been lied to; children are not toxic and the Abominable Snowman is actually a nice guy. Whichever organization spread the misinformation about the Abominable Snowman knowingly instituted a misinformation campaign similar to the “Ministry of Truth” found in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four which falsifies historical events and has the slogan, “Freedom is Slavery.”
A slave to his own corporation, Mr. Waternoose, the President of Monsters Inc., tells Sulley that the corporation has been in his family for three generations and that he fears diminishing scare returns will cause the board of directors to shut the corporation down. During a scene in which Waternoose is teaching new recruits how to scare, he tells the recruits that the art of scaring is all about presence: “It’s how you enter the room!” The President of a corporation which exploits its workers and relies on the dissemination of fear regarding banishment and children knows all about presence and appearance; his advice may be useful for those who wish to run Monsters Inc.
At the moment Waternoose has finished relaying this bit of advice to his trainees, Sulley enters the room. Sulley’s presence indicates he is in dire need of help. Perhaps made emotionally numb as a result of his transgressions which include but are not limited to kidnapping children and lying to employees, Waternoose does not notice Sulley’s feelings and instead encourages Sulley to give the trainee’s a scaring demonstration. Waternoose’s response to Sulley demonstrates the inevitable lack of emotional awareness that comes with a corporate view of individuals as disposable workers as opposed to human beings – in this case, monsters. Sulley initially resists this request, but after repeated exhortations from Waternoose, Sulley eventually gives in to corporate influence. He obliges with Waternoose’s request, and this act causes Boo to cry. These tears lament the fact that Sulley, in the moment in which corporate reorganization was a real possibility, threw away the possibility of potential progress. Shortly after this, Sulley and Mike are exiled.
When Sulley returns to Monstropolis, he runs past a monster that was previously “infected” with a child’s sock. This monster once again is found to be “infected,” and his partner is prepared to report this to the CDA. However, this monster, having gone through “infection” enough times to know that the idea of child toxicity is a sham, throws the sock on a CDA worker and reports the happening to another CDA worker. The worker is then tackled by other CDA members and quarantined. The self-destructive effects of irrational fear are brought to the surface of the film, and the overthrow of the prevailing ideology regarding children seems imminent.
It is interesting at this point to note that Randall’s helper’s name is “Fungus.” This name can be taken to represent the spread of the corporation’s corrupting influence on the Monstropolis community. This “Fungus” is the character responsible for the creation of Randall’s diabolical scream extraction machine which Sulley, having found a way back from exile, miraculously saves Boo from. Fungus also demonstrates a blind obedience to corporate authority and the how corrupting influence of power can create situations in which upright citizens will do away with their morality for the sake of their own lives through his statement, directed towards Mike, that he is “not allowed to talk about Randall’s evil plots.”
The viewers are told that the scream extraction machine was the President’s idea. For the President to conceive of this machine, he would have to have been aware that children were not harmful. Yet, he did not inform the workers of this circumstance. Why not? Were he to do so, his workers, no longer afraid for their lives during their assignments, may have felt freer to scare children. This would have been beneficial for the company. The fact that Waternoose chose to not relay this information to his employees indicates a motivation to keep both his workers and the public in a perpetual state of fear.
A life filled with constant fear can lead to emotional numbing, and Monsters Inc. does indeed require its workers to ignore their emotions. When Mike returns from exile and finds Sulley being attacked by Randal, Mike, much like Mr. Waternoose, is oblivious to the danger Sulley is in. Mike first believes that Sulley’s silence, a result of his being choked by Randall (who personifies corporate power), as indicative of Sulley’s opening up and demonstrating his own emotional feelings. Mike responds to these feelings by telling Sulley, “Look, if you cry, I’ll cry, and I’ll never get through this.” The corporation has trained him to numb himself to emotional pain, and Mike is, at this point, unwilling to come to emotional terms with himself. Sulley, now nearly destroyed by Randal, cannot respond to Mike, and Mike views his silence as an insult. Mike then throws a snowball at Sulley, attacking him, and ends up saving Sulley through this action.
After a long fight scene, Sulley, Mike, and Boo all help one another to lock Randall in the human world. This action occurs at the climax of the movie and the audience is expected to savor this moment and root for the “good guys”. However, the audience should keep in mind that the act of exiling another monster was the same thing which occurred Sulley and Mike and was previously viewed as indicative of poor moral behavior.
Sulley then confronts Mr. Waternoose and tells him, “[Boo’s] not scared of you anymore.” This sounds bad to Mr. Waternoose, because if children can no longer be scared, the struggling corporation will be unable to produce any power and will go out of business. This moment also occurs near the climax of the movie. By virtue of the narrative structure which has been ingrained in society, this moment is expected to be viewed as demonstrative of Sulley’s victory over the evil corporation.
However, this victory does not lead to an overthrow of the corrupt corporation. The corporation, rather than being destroyed, undergoes a restructuring which places the citizens of Monstropolis in a worse situation than before. Monsters are now expected to get power for their city through laugh extraction. This is not a happy fate for the monsters, because the movie does not demonstrate one instance of child laughter that does not require a monster undergoing physical pain which is often self-inflicted. The Monsters are still subservient to a corporation which exploits children for profit, as J. Zornado puts it, “The social practice of exploitation as an obvious, necessary process remains, and I would argue, has become even more invisible than it was from when we began viewing the film” (Zornado 9). Indeed, the pain corporate employees experienced before the restructuring of Monsters Inc. was imaginary pain which lurked beneath the surface and could be overcome. The restructuring of the corporation has only served to bring this pain out into the open and to make it a requirement. Even worse, the monsters accept their fate. Before we praise Monsters Inc. as a story worth “taking to heart,” we should examine what the movie is really encouraging us to do.
Corliss, Richard. “Scaring Up a New Winner.” Time. Time Magazine, 17 Apr 2011. Web. 17 Apr 2011. .
Zornado, J. “Children’s Film as Social Practice.” Comparative Literature and Culture. 10.2 (2008): 1-10. Print.>
“What do you mean ‘restless leg syndrome’?”
Attempts to describe the feeling of RLS:
Irrepressible bodily desire to move the legs
Movement (relief lasts the duration of movement)
Patience (relief lasts the duration of patience)
Symptoms, though they can occur at any time, most often occur just before one falls asleep.
Irrepressible bodily desire to move the legs
Legs, having acquired both consciousness and freedom from blind submission to outside authority, which desire to exercise their will
Submission to the newly personified legs’ authority
Loss of sleep
Hopelessness, hopelessness, hopelessness
What roommates can expect:
After one day: nothing
After two days: mention of symptoms
After four days: mention of hopelessness
After seven days: mention of anger..
After eight days: mention of anger.
After nine days: mention of anger
After ten days: late night groans (“Just let me sleep!…”); not to be confused with sleep talking
After two weeks: a blog post discussing RLS
Doctor appointment tomorrow. I have already been given “cardioplus” (a whole food supplement to help with the symptoms).It has helped, but I’m still tired and my symptoms now occur during the day.
I don’t want to take a pharmaceutical.
I imagined RLS would make me stronger. If I could ignore the restless, irrepressible bodily desire to move my legs, I would be stronger. Maybe I am stronger, but I am also tired and now I’m hopeless throughout the day.
I don’t want to take a pharmaceutical.
Two days ago I grabbed the top of an open door and I pulled myself up high enough so that I could place my feet on the doorknob. I didn’t want to step on the doorknob, so I just tapped it with my feet and let myself down. The RLS I was experiencing went away.
And then it came back.
In my observation of diversity in Valparaiso University’s Union, a couple things caught my eye. The most surprising aspect of diversity that I noticed was a diverse range of age groups. Up until my observation, I had been unaware of the large amount of adults that move throughout the Union. Upon first noticing all of these adults, I wondered whether Valparaiso University portray a college atmosphere which had been tamed by the constant watchful eye of those older than college students. But, the fact that I never noticed or felt this myself makes me think that this is not the case. Maybe the reason I noticed so many adults was because of recent campus activities which have brought an influx of adults and children to campus. I am unsure whether or not these activities are the University’s attempt to increase community interaction with the campus, but I would not be surprised if they were.
I was observing the Union around 8pm, so the number of people I had to keep track of was relatively low. There were times at which I felt I could have written down a comment about each person that walked through the building. The building was mostly populated by white students, and these students often traveled in groups. I would say that for every three groups of white students, there were two white students that walked alone. Most of the minority students I observed were alone, although there were two groups of white people which had one minority included in them. The most interesting aspect of race I noticed was that the university workers I noticed (front desk workers and others walking around in student clothing) were all white.
For someone visiting the university, I would imagine the response would vary based upon the person’s race. Speculating on other’s responses to diversity at the Union makes me feel a little uneasy. (Do I have the right to attribute feelings to people other than myself?) That being said, I will first provide my own experience of the university. I came from a high school which had around a 50:50 ratio of minorities to white students. Walking the hallways helped me become acquainted with minorities, and I am really glad I got the experience I did at high school. However, on arriving to Valpo, I did not think to myself, “My! This is really white!” I simply didn’t notice. Perhaps those in the majority are less likely to notice the racial make up of their surroundings.
I would imagine someone of a different race would see Valparaiso University as a primarily white school which is making stereotypical attempts to deal with the issue of diversity.