Archive for the ‘Reflections MH Community’ Category
As one of the most painful and heart-wrenching of human experiences, addiction inherently provides a wealth of narratives creative types can constantly visit and revisit. Whether through film, writing, song, art, or other medium, the serious medical condition always comes bundled with swirling emotions for the affected and their loved ones alike. Even though the details inevitably differ from individual to individual, the agony and the ecstasy almost always remain the same.
1. The Lost Weekend (1945) dir. Billy Wilder
Because the addiction (and, sometimes, recovery) narrative arc has become so familiar to moviegoers, the beats legendary director Billy Wilder might seem clichéd to modern audiences. Considering its age, that does not dilute The Lost Weekend‘s power any. Ray Milland’s Don Birnam’s alcoholism drives wedges between him and his loved ones, and brief flirtations with sobriety only give way to more substance abuse.
2. Bigger Than Life (1956) dir. Nicholas Ray
Drug addiction as a result of chronic illness doesn’t always receive the same attention as the more “glamorous” habits, but this film covers how miracle cures might harm as much as they heal. Here, a family man with a most uncommon diagnosis grows dependent on the cortisone used to eradicate it, mirroring many of the real-life struggles painkiller addicts have to contend with. Even factoring out the physiological component, Bigger Than Life explores how easy it can be to grow psychologically dependent on a substance when it so successfully curbs horrendous physical torment. And, of course, the resultant isolation and other intense personal and interpersonal emotions.
3. Days of Wine and Roses (1962) dir. Blake Edwards
In the real world, many individuals wind up addicted to various substances because a friend, family member, or lover introduces them. In this tragic classic, the phenomenon receives a pretty thorough dissection through the narrative of an alcoholic slickster and his youthful paramour. Blending her love of sweets with his love of alcohol results in the two succumbing to mutually destructive decisions – even after marriage and birthing a daughter. Despite comedic moments, the movie quite explicitly details with everything from withdrawal to what 12-step programs entail.
4. Barfly (1987) dir. Barbet Schroeder
Based loosely on the life of author Charles Bukowski, Barfly also frankly depicts dysfunctional romantic relationships that sometimes coalesce around a mutual addiction. Alcoholism forms the core of central characters Henry and Wanda’s connection, and it lubricates their conversations as well as initiates their liaisons. A small thread of dark comedy weaves in and out of the story, particularly when a cat fight erupts over the male protagonist’s affections near the end. Neither main character wind up seeking help for their dependency, however, which adds an entirely different layer of tragedy to the story.
5. Less Than Zero (1987) dir. Marek Kanievska
More of an anti-drug PSA than fully objective glimpse into drug addiction, this film still receives plenty of accolades for its hardlined message. Following his first semester, a college boy returns home to discover his best friend screwing his ex-girlfriend and crippled beneath a serious cocaine dependency. A very broad adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel ensues, delving deeply into the upper middle class entitlement that once inspired kids to consider narcotics a sign of status and luxury rather than an honest physiological wrecker. Interestingly enough, many recovery programs show to enrollees as a springboard to getting them to analyze their own thoughts and behaviors.
6. Drugstore Cowboy (1989) dir. Gus Van Sant
Matt Dillon plays a desperate addict whose fixes come courtesy of drugstore and hospital holdups. A small, strange family forms as more join him and his wife on their heists, but a series of increasingly horrific scenarios leads him to try and kick the lifestyle once and for all. This obviously proves near impossible, as he already ingrained himself far too into it to just cut and run. Gus Van Sant never shies away from peeling away the grim and gritty reality of addiction and the desperation and tragedy that so often accompanies it.
7. Huozhe (1994) dir. Yimou Zhang
Addiction doesn’t just happen with substances, although the vast majority of movies on the subject emphasize alcohol and drugs. Huozhe, however, chooses to look into the destructive potential of growing a little (or a lot) too fond of gambling. China’s entire social, political, and economic structure shifts while a family loses everything to the patriarch’s obsession with betting everything – eventually forcing him and his wife to make some backbreaking choices.
8. Kids (1995) dir. Larry Clark
Name something, and the eponymous youth at the center of this controversial film are probably addicted to it. Based on the director’s photographic research about excessive drugs, alcohol, and sex amongst hedonistic teens, the brutal Kids explicitly looks at what happens when sociopaths grow too dependent on their own power. Most notably, one character with HIV delights in acting as virgins’ first times, eventually spreading the disease to innocent others. Because of the heavy adrenaline rush abuse and lying imbues him with, that’s why.
9. Leaving Las Vegas (1995) dir. Mike Figgis
In one of Nicolas Cage’s more down-to-earth roles, an alcoholic whose life entirely unraveled thanks to his habit heads off to Vegas with suicidal intentions. Wanting to drink until he dies of alcohol poisoning (or related complications associated with excess), the protagonist hooks up with a prostitute, with whom he forges a friendship of mutually assured destruction. Neither is allowed to criticize the other’s habit, which provides emotional comfort as well as no real incentive to get healthy or get out of danger.
10. Trainspotting (1996) dir. Danny Boyle
Fans of pitch-black comedy and punk sensibilities wanting to see the venerable device applied to drug usage might want to pick up Danny Boyle’s well-received contemporary classic of Scottish cinema. A simultaneous glimpse into heroin abuse and urban poverty, it follows one addict’s attempts to clean up his life, and the ugliness that inspires him to try and starts holding him back. Throughout, Ewan McGregor’s Renton proffers some insight into how ideologies railing against suburban conformity might pique addictive behaviors in some instances.
11. Requiem for a Dream (2000) dir. Darren Aronofsky
Requiem for a Dream is often touted as THE drug addiction movie – one parents want to show their kids about why shooting heroin and popping diet pills might not end up as glamorous or healing as they think. Alternating between four different individuals with four different motivations, Darren Aronofsky’s intense drama doesn’t end well, but it ends realistically, albeit at the grimmest possible ends. A much more effective (though, sadly, far less campy) deterrent than Reefer Madness, anyways.
12. Traffic (2000) dir. Steven Soderbergh
Unlike most movies covering the ins and outs of drug addiction, this one also analyzes the complexities behind producing and distributing in addition to how such substances impact the end user. Suffice to say, the way drugs land at their final destination is far, far more egregious than what happens to the people who actually consume them. More socially-conscious viewing audiences will appreciate how explicitly the human rights violations between shuttling cocaine, heroin, and the like back and forth come to light here.
13. Candy (2006) dir. Neil Armfield
An adaptation of the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Luke Davies, Candy relays a romance where both partners love one another (almost) as much as they love heroin. Everything goes predictably awry, however, when the opiate eventually transubstantiates into the very core of their lives, forcing the both of them to resort to criminal activity. Only one winds up walking away, while the other continues nursing a neverending lust for fix after fix after heavenly hellacious fix.
14. A Scanner Darkly (2006) dir. Richard Linklater
Beloved cyberpunk author Philip K. Dick penned A Scanner Darkly as a reflection on the drug culture which absorbed him and the erratic mental illness what took him there. Although science-fiction, the book and the surrealistically rotoscoped film alike remain thematically grounded thanks to the writer’s personal experiences. The dystopian setting takes a grim look at the direction the failed drug war might very well go in if things do not change for the better.
15. Shame (2011) dir. Steve McQueen
David Duchovney’s and Tiger Woods’ dual sex addiction scandals brought the condition to the forefront, challenging how American society perceived the promiscuity it so often derides. The condition is, of course, nothing new – though it certainly seems that way considering the amount of current attention – but remains mostly uncharted territory in the cinematic world. With the amount of acclaim the explicit Shame and its boiling family drama has been receiving lately, that might not stay the trend for too much longer.
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The state of the economy has left many people and families worried about money. From paying bills to finding a job to coping with high medical costs, it can be hard to think of anything else when financial woes come your way. It’s no secret that stress from finances can play a big role in changing your mental state, causing mood swings or even depression, but many may not realize what a marked effect it can also have on your physical well-being. Stress, whether from finances or other conflicts in your life, can do a number on your overall health, often in ways that you may not even realize are related to stress. If you’re going through a stressful financial situation, make sure you take good care of your body, take time to relax, and get help to make sure these harmful physical effects don’t take a toll on you.
1. Lost sleep
One of the earliest signs that stress is affecting your body is insomnia. Lack of sleep can cause some immediate effects on the body that can make getting through the day pretty hard, something no financially stressed person needs on top of everything else. While there may not be a way to get more sleep without getting rid of what’s stressing you, you can set yourself up for better rest with a good bedtime routine every night.
2. Less money for preventative care
There is no way around it, health insurance is expensive. For those facing financial problems, it can be one of the first things cut from the budget, or may simply be lost along with exiting a job. Whatever the case may be, lack of insurance most often leads to lack of preventative care, or any care at all. Those worried about running up huge medical bills may not be as willing to head to the doctor when they see troubling signs or early indications of bigger problems. In fact, not only are those without insurance less likely to have major diseases detected early, they’re also more likely to die prematurely than those who are insured. That’s a pretty big health effect, and a reminder that no financial issues are worth risking your health.
3. Increased levels of anxiety and depression
Anxiety and depression are mental effects of stress, but they can have some physical manifestations as well. Those who are chronically stressed may begin to have panic attacks, shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and increased aches and pains throughout the body. These symptoms are related both to the underlying stress and to the depression and anxiety it may cause.
4. A greater risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke
Stress is hard on the body, especially chronic stress, and can lead to some very serious health issues if not kept in check. Among the scariest of these is an increase in your risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Part of this may be due to those who are stressed engaging in unhealthy behaviors like drinking and smoking, but scientists think there may be a stronger correlation. Chronic stress may weaken the immune system and put undue pressure on internal organs and processes, which can lead to a variety of serious medical conditions down the road.
5. Increased heart rate and blood pressure
Think about something that stresses you out? Does your heart beat faster? Stress can have a big effect on your heart and larger cardiovascular system. It can make your heart rate increase, which can in turn increase your blood pressure. Prolonged stress, and raised heart rate and blood pressure, can lead to heart arrhythmias and hypertension, both very serious heart conditions that could segue into heart attack, heart disease, or stroke. If stress is raising your blood pressure, take time out to just relax, meditate, or cool down throughout the day. Your heart will thank you for it.
6. Greater numbers of digestive problems like ulcers, constipation, and diarrhea
When people are stressed, they rarely eat well. This can be part of what causes digestive problems, but stress itself can also take a toll and weaken the immune system, letting the digestive track become infected or inflamed. This can lead to greater instances of conditions like ulcers, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and even heartburn. Those who had these conditions before their financial stress began may see them flare up or become worse under duress. While most digestive conditions are not caused by stress, many, if not all, can be exacerbated by it.
7. Hair loss
When you’re already stressed out, the last thing you need to worry about is the state of your follicles, but you may not be able to avoid hair loss if you’re under serious, prolonged anxiety from financial matters. There are three types of hair loss that can be associated with stress: alopecia areata, when white blood cells attack and kill hair follicles; telogen effluvium, when stress pushes growing hair into a resting phase; and trichotillomania, when a stressed person pulls out his hair as a way of coping with anxiety and tension. Hair loss can also lead to lowered self esteem, self image, and overall confidence, none of which are helpful in getting back on your financial feet.
8. Decreased libido
When you’re worried about how to pay the rent, your love life may not be your biggest concern. And it’s not just due to distraction. Stress can actually cause other factors that cause a nose-dive in libido, like lack of sleep, emotional distress, and weight gain. These all combine to make it hard to want to be intimate with a partner, even if you’ve never had problems with interest in sex in the past. Talking through your problems, getting rest, and enjoying intimate time can all help battle the libido-killing effects of stress.
9. Dental issues and gum disease
Stress seems to have an effect on every part of the body, and your teeth and gums are no exception. Stress can cause many to grind their teeth or pay little attention to oral hygiene and healthy eating, which may ultimately lead to a decline in oral health. It can also cause painful canker and cold sores, most likely due to a compromised immune system. Studies have also shown that even short-term stress can lead to increased levels of dental plaque, which can increase an individual’s risk of developing gingivitis. You may not be able to get rid of all the stress in your life, but you can practice good dental hygiene, which will help reduce your risk of developing any painful or problematic issues with your oral health.
10. Increased risk of diabetes
Stress can cause a spike in blood sugar, which can affect both those who already have diabetes and those who don’t in negative ways. While development of diabetes is often also related to other health factors like obesity and genetics, stress can often be a trigger that makes underlying conditions even worse and could push your body into a dangerous place, health-wise. For women, the link between stress and diabetes is stronger, so they need to be especially careful to monitor themselves for any early signs of the condition.
11. Breakouts and skin problems
Just when you want and need to look your best, stress makes you look your worst. When you’re stressed, your brain releases stress hormones and your immune system may be weakened, both factors that can cause your skin to go haywire. Bacteria trapped in pores, which your body can’t fight off, can lead to breakouts, and your skin may become oily, flushed, dry, or inflamed in response to stress. Some people may get hives or rashes, while others may have painful, sensitive skin. Whatever the result, stress is just plain bad for your skin, and it’s essential to keep it moisturized and clean and eat well when pressure’s high.
12. Weight gain or loss
Depending on your genetic makeup and personality, stress can cause either weight loss or weight gain. Some people may experience a loss of appetite when under stress that makes them eat less and lose weight. Others may eat more to help them cope with the emotional distress caused by financial issues. Cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, can often play a role in weight gain by increasing appetite and holding weight in your mid-section — a holdover from our caveman days, when stress was a response to a danger that would have left us needing to replenish energy supplies. Studies have found that weight loss occurs more often as a response to short-term stress, while prolonged stresses generally cause weight gain.
13. Joint pain
Joint pain is often caused by chronic inflammation, which can be worsened when the body is under stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is an inflammatory agent and can leave all parts of the body, from the internal organs to the joints, inflamed and quite painful. For those who have noticed an increase in joint and muscle pain along with an increase in stress, there are several ways to help your body feel better. It can often be helpful to avoid eating sweets and foods with a lot of carbs as these can cause additional inflammation. Instead, seek out omega-3s in your foods, which can help reduce inflammation. Exercise can also help to loosen up painful joints.
14. Coping with stress through unhealthy behaviors
Studies have shown that people under stress often engage in unhealthy drinking, drug use, and overeating. All of these behaviors can have serious health effects that can last well after a stressful event is over, and drinking and drug use, if done in excess, could even lead to death, paralysis, or other very serious effects. While these activities may lead to short-term reductions in stress, they offer little in long-term resolutions of stress, and can actually increase stress if they lead to a loss of a job, serious health issues, or financial problems. Those who are having difficulty coping with financial issues should seek out someone to talk to and engage in other, healthier methods of coping like exercise.
15. Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath generally freaks people out, and for good reason. It could be an early sign of a serious health issue. It can, however, also be a side effect of prolonged stress. Stress can lead to panic attacks, which can cause chest pressure and shortness of breath. It can also increase your risk of conditions like heart disease, which sometimes have the side effect of shortness of breath. Those who have asthma or other breathing problems may find that their condition is worsened considerably when under stress. Anytime you are experiencing shortness of breath, visit a doctor to ensure it is not a serious condition that requires immediate treatment.
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Special education teachers require a very specific set of skills if they hope to do right by their students. Even the best make mistakes, but opening up to what others have to say and offer grants them an excellent opportunity to learn and forge viable future solutions. That’s why reading proves fundamental when entering the industry. Without the free exchange of ideas and insights, many promising kids and teens with special needs might not receive the educational opportunities that are their right.
Plenty of fantastic reads exist beyond this, of course, so read these selections and use them as an introduction to all the varying perspectives out there. This list strives more for diversity rather than any one facet in particular. Don’t take it personally if a favorite ended up left off. That doesn’t make it a bad book by any means!
1. Wrightslaw: Special Education Law by Pamela Darr Wright and Peter W.D. Wright
Picking up the latest edition is integral to the savvy special education teacher, as it means the most updated information about laws and policies driving the industry. It should be pretty obvious why educators need to pick up this hefty volume — going without might compromise the best possible service and advocacy for special needs students.
2. So You Want to be a Special Education Teacher by Jim Yerman
Jim Yerman pulls from more than three decades of special education experience to offer hopeful and novice professionals a comprehensive look at what to expect. In many ways, the classroom forges families, and they weather triumphs and tragedies with love, laughter, and the occasional tear. The career path won’t always prove easy or smooth, but sweet little moments and victories might make it well worth it for many devoted educators.
3. The Special Educator’s Survival Guide by Roger Pierangelo
Whether a battle-scarred education veteran or a greenhorn eager to prove mettle and get kids learning, Roger Pierangelo’s advice resonates. Every facet of working with special needs children and teens ends up covered here, including legalities, dealing with parents, diagnostics, and plenty more. Make sure to stay current and check for the latest editions, as legislation and other procedures may change between printings.
4. The Complete Guide to Special Education by Alan W. Brue and Linda Wilmshurst
As the title implies, these special education experts dish on anything and everything the aspiring or experienced teacher must know. But it also looks at the processes and policies through a parental filter as well, offering some insightful analysis about what they might experience outside of the home. When it comes to assisting kids and teens with special needs, both educators and parents have to understand one another’s perspectives; without this diplomacy, students might not end up with the education they deserve.
5. The Complete Learning Disabilities Handbook by Joan M. Harwell and Rebecca Williams Jackson
Discover the optimum strategies for education and understanding the different learning disabilities present in a special needs classroom. Since requirements change from student to student, it would behoove their teachers to fully grasp the specific diagnoses. As you can probably imagine, picking up the latest edition is the most prudent idea.
6. Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm and Veronica Zysk
Special education professionals dealing with autism spectrum students will greatly appreciate this comprehensive, sensitive look at what life is like with the disorders. By getting into the minds and experiences of such children and teens, Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew proves an integral resource when drawing up viable lesson plans and properly meeting specific emotional needs. Parents and other loved ones struggling to understand ASD individuals will also benefit from picking up this revolutionary read.
7. Lost at School by Ross W. Greene
Behavioral issues also fall under the special needs umbrella, though they receive less attention than some of the other disorders out there. Ross W. Greene outlines how these problems manifest, the ways in which they internally and externally affect students, and what needs to be done to address them. Use some of his strategies to prevent dangerous, harmful actions in the classroom and instill valuable skills that will hopefully last a lifetime.
8. Assessing Learners with Special Needs by Terry Overton
Public school special education teachers form the target audience of Assessing Learners with Special Needs. The book even takes into consideration the different requirements behind a wide range of linguistic and cultural backgrounds as well, making it ideal for those in diverse neighborhoods. Just make sure to purchase or rent the latest edition for the most up-to-date information.
9. The Mislabeled Child by Brock Eide and Fernette Eide
The doctors Eide want teachers (and parents) to firmly grasp the various special needs diagnoses and the negative implications of a wrong label. The Mislabeled Child outlines the myriad disorders and disabilities they may encounter in their careers and viable teaching strategies for each one. In addition, the authors provide case studies that educators will probably find amazingly useful.
10. The Gift of Dyslexia by Eldon M. Braun and Ronald D. Davis
Consider this inquiry into a common learning disability when wanting to learn more about diagnoses, treatments, and the physiological origins. It offers up an interesting perspective about some of the overlooked cognitive and creative potential behind dyslexia that some professionals might not even consider. The educational solutions included might prove beneficial as well, so give them a shot.
11. Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults by Edward R. Amend, Paul Beljan, Jean Goerss, F. Richard Olenchak, James T. Webb, and Nadia E. Webb
One tragically common mindset paints all special needs students as possessing below-average intelligence and aptitude — an unfortunate phenomenon resulting in stigmatization and many kids going without the proper treatment and educational accommodations. When working with the gifted who happen to struggle with different learning, psychological, or behavioral disabilities, consult this guide for both advice and insight. Both parents and teachers can benefit from understanding the complex interplay between various diagnoses.
12. When the Brain Can’t Hear by Teri James Bellis
Special education teachers and other professionals working closely with hearing impaired individuals might want to explore the science behind a very specific, often misunderstood, diagnosis. Auditory processing disorder receives a thorough explanation here. Told from the perspective of a doctor suffering from the condition, it alternates between personal accounts and clinical findings.
13. Better IEPs by Barbara D. Bateman and Mary Anne Linden
Because so many legalities dictate the hows and whys behind special education, teachers must completely comprehend them when creating individualized education programs. Lest they think such restrictions might compromise the quality of their lessons, Barbara D. Bateman and Mary Anne Linden make sure to maximize educational viability. It should prove a great help when serving students and addressing student concerns.
14. How the Special Needs Brain Learns by David A. Sousa
Before working with special needs students, take the time to fully comprehend the physiology behind different conditions. Putting forth the effort means creating stronger lesson plans addressing specific roadblocks. Just make sure to check for any new updated editions, as medical advances and different teaching strategies will impact the content over time.
15. The Secret Life of the Dyslexic Child by Robert Frank and Kathryn Livingston
Like the title explicitly states, this book unpeels the misunderstandings and myths behind life with dyslexia. By digging deep inside the physiology and psychology of the afflicted, The Secret Life of the Dyslexic Child opens up opportunities for nurturing the empathy and compassion necessary when teaching them. In addition, the authors also provide educators with solid advice on how to best meet the needs of their dyslexic students, no matter the severity.
16. Case Studies in Assessment of Students with Disabilities by Victoria Groves Scott and Mary Konya Weishaar
Case studies regarding both practice and in-class assessments are presented here in order to provide a well-rounded view of a very important cog in the special education machine. Practicality reigns supreme here, and teachers will appreciate seeing how their training applies to real-life situations. With so many questions and exercises to test their knowledge, there’s plenty here to promote improved skill sets.
17. Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin
Professor and autism awareness activist Temple Grandin writes extensively about her life on the spectrum, so almost any of her books on the subject prove well worth reading. Here, she candidly talks about how a diagnosis of autism changed her life and impacted her perspectives while simultaneously dissecting it through a scientific lens. Thinking in Pictures provides an impressively in-depth look at a complex, frequently misunderstood, medical condition.
18. The IEP from A to Z by Jennifer Twachtman-Bassett and Diane Twachtman-Cullen
No matter a student’s academic requirements, this guide helps teachers outline the best possible individualized education plans to meet them. Parents, too, are included in the process, and the authors encourage special educators to work with them almost as intently as the kids and teens themselves. Both new and experienced instructors alike should consult the expressed advice whenever they hit a snag in their lesson plans.
19. Including Students with Severe and Multiple Disabilities in Typical Classrooms by June E. Downing
In reality, many — if not most — special needs kids and teens end up in mainstream classrooms that may not fully address their requirements for at least part of their educations. Suffice it to say, the phenomenon proves exceptionally challenging to teachers and students alike, and this book guides them through the most viable methods for providing an excellent, accommodating education. Special needs educators whose pupils bounce between different classroom styles should keep abreast of the unique structure, issues, and solutions relevant to the academic structure.
20. The Special Educator’s Comprehensive Guide to 301 Diagnostic Tests by George Giuliani and Roger Pierangelo
Assessment obviously comprises one super huge facet of the special education sector, so it’s obvious that the teachers have to know how the process works. George Giuliani and Roger Pierangelo forego the clinical in favor of something more approachable, which those without PhDs will certainly find agreeable. It’s a lot to process, no doubt, but the time and cerebral investment are more than worth it in the end.
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What constitutes “literary trends that need to go away” is purely a matter of opinion, of course, and one of debatable education at that! And so, dear, sweet Internet, do try and curtail any possible combustion over subjectivities. It really is quite silly!
But yeah, these really exist as quite ghastly little numbers, poisoning beloved bookstores and libraries for far too long. Some have wreaked havoc for decades while others — if bibliophiles are lucky, anyways — might blink away as just another disposable fad. Either way though, they all deserve a giant booting so worthwhile reads can take their place.
Lackluster graphic novel/comic book adaptations
Excellent graphic novels and comics, such as the Pulitzer-winning Maus, stand on their own as classic, essential literary works. So the medium itself isn’t the problem here. Neither are lovingly-reproduced adaptations showing the utmost respect for the source material. L. Frank Baum enthusiast Eric Shanower and lively artist Skottie Young collaborated on the Eisner-winning, New York Times-bestselling comic books relaying myriad stories from the Wizard of Oz universe. All the included series preserve the novels’ and the most popular musical’s whimsy, imagination, wit, characters, atmospheres, themes and all those other lovely literary buzzwords, even if the comic creators did have to play with its progenitors to fit the medium a bit.
The issue lay with the idea behind graphic novel and comic book cash-ins just because it’s the thing to do, paying little heed to the original story, the medium or both. Manga Shakespeare, for example, seems to exist more to bank some sweet-sweet coin off the last vestiges of America’s late-’90s, late-’00s lust for Japanese comics. While its intent to make The Bard “more accessible” deserves applause, the frequently uninspired art and cringe-worthy liberties (Hamlet set in a “cyberworld in constant dread of war”) do little to promote the author or the diverse medium. It’s as if the publishers desired to whip out some manga and added Shakespeare later to push more product. No shame comes taped to playing with the familiar stories — Throne of Blood elegantly welded samurai culture to Macbeth – but half-assing it just to make a quick buck disrespects the original author, comics themselves and (most importantly) the readers.
“Self-help” guides doing more harm than good
Fun Fact: That The Secret thing the kids were into a few years ago? The whole “law of attraction” thing essentially foists the blame of abuse and suffering onto innocent victims. What a concept! If only displaced genocide survivors knew they could prevent losing their loved ones and homes with THE POWER OF THINKING HAPPY THOUGHTS REALLY, REALLY HARD!!! Self-help guides always have been and always will be a thing, but the entire genre shouldn’t be dismissed because some of the most prominent and egregious examples do the exact opposite of what they tout.Chained to the Desk, intelligently — and with empathy — toutlines a very real psychological condition (workaholism) and offers highly accessible advice for patients, their loved ones and healthcare professionals. It’s one of the best examples of an effective self-help book doing exactly what it’s supposed to do — outline an issue, proffer solutions and back it all up with scientific (not anecdotal!) proof.
Unfortunately, the pulp getting so heavily pushed doesn’t typically possess the same detail, research and psychological intent as Chained to the Desk. Most are relatively harmless, offering generic inspirational bromides in lieu of anything substantial, but causing about as much internal and external damage as a fluffy little down feather. Garbage like the aforementioned The Secretand the ever-so-popular depression “cures” involving nothing but positive thinking, however, pretty much wreak psychological havoc. The former and its ilk blame victims already plagued with trauma, guilt and stigmatization, while the latter refuses to acknowledge the true complexities behind a serious mental health issue. Journalist Barbara Ehrenreich published Bright-Sided to delve deeply into this unfortunate trend, which probably won’t dissolve completely anytime soon.
Twilight was crap, but at least it attempted something a little different by making its vampires sparkle. And its baffling success kicked off the most recent young adult literary trend: angsty teen fantasy-horror-romances. The list starring vampires alone contains enough titles to fill a generous library shelf. Exploiting narrative and trope trends is about as new as the Marianas Trench and probably won’t stop happening until never. While some of the shameless rip-offs might actually prove worthwhile reading, the problem here lay more with homogeneity than anything else. With so many trendy tomes crowding stores and libraries, curious readers looking for something completely different might experience a more difficult time finding something suiting their tastes. Plus, focusing too much energy on riding a contemporary’s coattails precludes an author’s own personal creativity. One wonders how many interesting, innovative stories ended up shunted to the sidelines because publishers preferred trendy opportunism rather than trying to launch their very own trends and innovations.
Self-indulgent celebrity memoirs
Every once in a while, a celebrity memoir like Steve Martin’s heavy, evocative Born Standing Up or even Bruce Campbell’s campy and fun B-movie romp If Chins Could Kill prove that the genre isn’t an entire fame-whoring waste. Unfortunately, so much of it proves absurdly formulaic and self-aggrandizing (with the requisite mock humility), savvy pop culture critic Nathan Rabin has taken to regularly reviewing and observing the phenomenon. Publishing resources that could go towards brand new, talented writers with something fresh and interesting to say instead supporting the same old “fame totally happened, oh man I lost everything, but yay, spirituality” narrative. These people get (or got) enough attention as it is, earned or not.
“Revolutionary” diet plans
The PR says “revolutionary,” the cynics say “fad,” and the medical professionals say “potentially dangerous.” Here’s the only diet plan anyone needs. Exercise regularly. Practice portion control. Eat a diet comprised primarily of nutritious foods. No book necessary.
Celebrity authors who just can’t write
So that ghastly Snooki wrote a novel, launching a thousand lazy jokes about whether or not she’s even literate in the first place. The obviously autobiographical result, A Shore Thing, proved just asvomitously cringe-inducing as one would imagine, and her name actually ended up in a larger font than the book’s title. Probably because it wasn’t really the novel being sold at all, but the Snooki brand. Lauren Conrad, another bafflingly famous “personality” who arguably doesn’t really do much of anything, pulled something similar and ended up on the bestseller list. Twice. Meanwhile, once again, real writers enjoy fewer and fewer opportunities as the marketing machine plows through their art like so many Lawnmower Men. Apparently fame in one area automatically translates to talent in another, even though both “authors” shilled efforts whining about their luxurious lives.
“Women’s literature” with reductionist views of women
Scientific studies reveal a link between romantic comedy consumption and unrealistic — if not outright unhealthy — attitudes towards relationships. So it stands to reason that their bookish equivalent known as “chick lit” might result in a similar effect. Enjoying fluffy, escapist reads carries absolutely no shame, but the problem lay with some of the disconcerting tropes. Like how “women’s literature” tends towards problems involving men and shoes, painting its protagonists as shrill, empty-headed, materialistic archetypes instead of real people. Or the fact that so many books ostensibly about the ladies always seems to involve men. Specifically, attracting, keeping and tolerating the fact that they just aren’t perfect. The Confessions of a Shopaholic series is probably the genre’s most prolific example, though nonfiction like He’s Just Not That Into You also egregiously explore similar territory. Literature aimed at a female demographic should continue being a thing, of course! But maybe someday authors concerned with writing unique, interesting, relatable characters instead of insulting their audience by essentially painting them as high-maintenance, boy-crazy bimbos. The ladies deserve much better than that. The Color Purpleconcerns women’s issues and identity, but jettisons the scary credit card debt and griping about boyfriends farting in bed.
Remixing the classics
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was funny at first: a fresh, postmodern take on Jane Austen’s Regency classic. And then Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters happened. Followed by two more Pride and Prejudice and Zombies sequels, Little Women and Werewolves, Jane Slayre,Little Vampire Women, Mansfield Park and Mummies and many, many more mashups. Although this definitely falls under bandwagonning, the added element of building on popular public domain works adds an extra literary dimension. Yeah, the cheekiness definitely amuses, but the market’s become quite saturated with them. Enough already!
Assuming genre fiction has nothing to say
This article has probably expressed a rather harsh attitude towards genre fare, but the egregiously terrible and/or overtly, unabashedly derivative examples shouldn’t speak for all of them. Frequently, a ponderous work like Fahrenheit 451 or Lord of the Rings score sweet syllabus deals, but most end up ignored or outright dismissed. When it comes to science-fiction, for example, Snow Crashsays just as much about the human condition and experience as most classics with a grounding in reality — and considering its technological themes (even prediction of services such as Second Life!), eerily resonates today. Rebecca and some Sherlock Holmes books really deliver academically when it comes to mysteries, but how about The New York Trilogy? And so forth. Scratching the surface makes a great introduction to different genres, but try and find examples beyond the tried and true to really diversify the canon.
Dismissing all self-published literature
With so many celebrity tell-alls, “reality star” “authors,” dangerous dieting and dismissive self help reads taking up publishers’ time and money, it’s no wonder so many writers decide on DIY jobs. Some do it to avoid over-editing and compromising their main ideas. Others just like masturbating their ego over adding “published author” to their resumes, quality levels be damned! And even more think the process far easier than the one involving agents and marketing departments and whatnot. Out of all of these motivations, the only books anyone ever focuses on (of course!) are the narcissism-driven and/or terrible. In reality, self-published writers run the gamut from creative, thought-provoking and talented to those so genuinely frightening and outright offensive linking them here would probably cause the FBI to shut this whole site down.
So just like books published through more traditional venues. When exploring this brave new technological world that has such diverse people in it, head over to Self-Published Review first. The minds behind the site do an excellent job of de-stigmatizing the process and offer up informed commentary on the excellent, good, bad, weird and absolutely godawful dreck available. More readers should hear them out and perhaps find their next big favorite.
You can rad this story and many others at Accreditedonlinecolleges.org.
It’s easy to make a mediocre public service announcement. Just work with a small budget, hire some average actors, and provide a message that most people have already heard. Most PSAs leave a small impression on the viewer, even if it’s just because they’re reinforcing an idea, but it takes a real talent to make a seriously terrible public service announcement. These 10 commercials aimed at raising awareness about different plights of our society have really raised the bar for bad acting, poorly executed ideas, and pushing the envelope a little past good taste.
Companies are like insecure teenage girls: they want your money and will do almost anything for attention. Most corporations have better marketing strategists than teenagers, and come up with creative publicity stunts that reach a wide audience and promote their brand. Every once in while, though, you find a gimmick that must’ve sounded good in the pitch meetings but ended up totally backfiring. Here are 10 marketing stunts that didn’t go according to plan.
1. Aqua Teen Hunger Force bomb scare
Boston has a high enough profile that it could reasonably be the target of a terrorist attack, and citizens and authorities are right to be cautious if they see a potential threat. Of course, Cartoon Network and its parent company, Turner Broadcasting, didn’t consider this fact when they launched a guerrilla marketing campaign for the late-night animated show, Aqua Teen Hunger Force. They hung small electronic circuit boards that displayed light-up depictions of the show’s characters, and they thought bridges in the busy commercial district in Boston would be the perfect place for their pseudo-ads to be seen. And people did see them; a train passenger, seeing the board and wires sticking out, mistook them for bombs. She notified police, who blew up one of the devices and shut down highways and two bridges. Once the stunt was understood for what it was, two men were arrested for placing a hoax device and for disorderly conduct.
2. Casa Sanchez tattoos
The Sanchez family, who owns a taqueria in California, seriously underestimated the appeal of their burritos — or the lengths people will go to get free food. When the restaurateurs put a sign in the window of Casa Sanchez offering free lunch for life to anyone who would tattoo its logo on themselves, they didn’t think anyone would take it seriously. But people did. A few inked customers turned into 40 fans sporting the tattoos. And then the owners did the math. If those people took full advantage of their lifetime commitment, coming in for an $8 lunch every day for 50 years, it would cost the restaurant $5.8 million. After running those astounding numbers, the Sanchez family decided to cap the number of people who could get the deal at 50, and interview potential life-time customers to see how hungry they seemed. The logo, in case you were wondering, is a little boy in a sombrero riding an ear of corn that looks like a rocket ship.
3. Hold Your Wee for a Wii radio contest
Radio stations are notorious for coming up with crazy contests to hook listeners and get publicity. KDND 107.9 in California thought they could get a little buzz for a contest where people would see how much water they could drink without going to the bathroom. They called it “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” and planned to give the winner the video game system. They got a lot more buzz than they anticipated, though, when a contestant died from water intoxication. She had been the runner-up in the contest, and complained of her head hurting when she quit. Ten employees at the radio station, including the hosts of the show during which the contest aired, were fired. The woman’s husband won a $16.5 million case against the station.
4. Snapple popsicle meltdown
Everybody loves to hear about new world records, the stranger the better. Snapple, the juice and tea company, thought that breaking a weird record as appetizing as World’s Largest Popsicle would be the perfect marketing stunt. They created the popsicle, 35,000 pounds and 25 feet tall, out of kiwi-strawberry Snapple, and shipped it in a freezer truck to Times Square in New York where they planned to erect it. Despite all the careful preparation, the marketing team chose the first day of summer, when the temperature hit a balmy 80 degrees, to pull off this stunt. As the crane started to raise the giant popsicle, pink liquid rushed out, covering the street in sticky Snapple juice. The officials called off the attempt to stand the popsicle upright fearing that the structure had been compromised and would collapse, and fire trucks cleaned up the mess.
5. Balloon Boy
It’s not often that you find a family that tries something outrageous just to get publicity, but in 2009, TVs across America were tuned in to watch the Heene family worry about their son who was flying through the air in a homemade helium balloon. Richard and Mayumi Heene called up authorities when the family’s balloon was released and they feared their six-year-old was inside. Eventually, the boy turned up and said he was hiding in the attic. But in an interview for Larry King Live, Falcon Heene said his parents had told him they were doing this for the show, meaning the reality show they hoped their publicity would inspire. The family wasn’t offered a TV deal, and both adult Heenes received jail time for the hoax.
6. JMP Creative crane stunt
When your CEO is a former magician, you know the publicity stunts are going to be crazy. Jim McCafferty decided to start a marketing company, JMP Creative, and wanted to kick it off with something spectacular. And if you want something done right, you should do it yourself. McCafferty got someone to put him in a straightjacket, close him in a steel cage, and then lift him up 300 feet in the air with a crane. The CEO was supposed to escape the cage within a certain amount of time before it dropped to the ground. He didn’t quite make it out in time and had plummeted 60 feet before being able to attach himself to a harness and avoid death. He did have second-degree rope burns, though, which had to be treated at a hospital. The gimmick apparently got someone’s attention, and the company is now worth millions of dollars.
7. Edison’s elephant
Today when animals are put down, it’s normally done in a fairly humane way. But in 1903, things were a little different. One zoo decided it needed to get rid of its elephant, Topsy, after she had killed three of her handlers. When zoo officials thought electrocution might be the best method, Thomas Edison jumped at the opportunity. He had been in a feud with George Westinghouse and Nicola Tesla over whether their alternating current, or AC, was better than his direct current, DC. To prove that AC was dangerous, Edison used it to doom Topsy, and made it a public event. Fifteen-hundred people showed up and Edison filmed the execution. Today we all use AC anyway, and though we remember Edison, it’s definitely not in association with this tasteless exhibition.
8. Molson partying campaign
College kids may enjoy getting drunk and going wild, but their parents certainly don’t appreciate corporations encouraging it. So when Molson Coors Brewing Co. in Canada started a contest aimed at university students (many of whom are too young to drink) that seemed to reward the most drunken, outrageous parties, many college officials and community members were concerned. The campaign, which attempted to use social media to reach one of the company’s target audiences, asked students to upload their craziest party pictures to Facebook to compete for the title of Canada’s top party school. The winner would be sent on a trip to Cancun with four friends. Molson ended up scrapping the contest after public backlash. That probably isn’t the end of drunk college kids, though. Sorry, Canada.
9. Cocaine energy drink
If you want your product to get attention, just name it after an illegal substance. That’s what the makers of Cocaine, an energy drink, discovered. The beverage doesn’t contain any cocaine, but it does have a ton of caffeine, more than its competitors Red Bull and Rockstar. The makers didn’t have much money for advertising so they chose the controversial name and let angry politicians and talk show hosts do the work for them for free. Legal trouble was a bit more than they had bargained for, though. The FDA made the manufacturers take Cocaine off the shelves because it was “illegally marketing the drink as both a street drug alternative and a dietary supplement.” The makers renamed the drink “No Name” for a while to put it back on shelves, but it is supposedly back in stores now — with lots of warnings about how dumb you have to be to believe the drink contains cocaine.
10. Pontiac’s Oprah giveaway
We’ve all heard about the show where Oprah Winfrey gave every member of her studio audience a brand new car, but most of us probably don’t remember that they got Pontiac G6 sedans. GM, the company that owns Pontiac, donated the 276 cars to the show, but most of the credit went to Oprah who had nothing to do with acquiring them. At $21,000 per vehicle, the cars alone cost GM about $5.8 million. Add in administrative costs and GM officials say the gimmick cost somewhere around $8 million. It’s not that it was a bad marketing technique; the publicity just didn’t go to the company that put up all the cash. Oprah is probably very thankful, though, since this giveaway made people love her even more than they did before.
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