The Importance of Neurological Diversity in Media

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Over the course of the 21st century we have seen a slow but steady increase in the amount of diversity presented in various forms of storytelling, art and entertainment media.  The majority of the focus has been on things such as racial and sexual diversity though lately other types of diversity such a body diversity have begun to make headway as well.   I personally feel though there is another type of diversity of equal importance that often gets overlooked in the debate.  and that is neurological diversity.

 

 

While true many characters in various animated series, comic, films and television programs are given diverse personality types and some of these could be attributed to various neurological conditions or quarks, very seldom do we see such things actually addressed within the context of the work.  Though thankfully this too is slowly changing.  This year Sesame Street introduced an Autistic character named Julia onto their program to both reach out to young autistic children and teach other children from a young age that some children may act/behave differently than them and that’s OK and should not prevent you from wanting to become friends.  And while Autism like many things in the realm of human existence is a spectrum and one character can only cover so much, the character’s inclusion into the children’s program is a small step in the right direction.

 

Other then that we have seen many other television programs address unique character quarks but not all have quite tackled the issues head on.  The character Jeff from Clarence has expressed to his friends how he has his own way of doing things and how many things other kids do make him feel uncomfortable but outside of over exaggerations of typical OCD & Germaphobic tendencies the show hasn’t always gone too in depth towards Jeff’s neurological quarks from a serious perspective outside a few speeches by the character himself.  I am not saying  the character can’t properly represent neurologically diverse individuals, just that this type of teasing is noting new in animation.   Other then that many other all-ages and adult animated programs have also touched on or introduced characters with various neurological quarks as part of their character traits that while engrained in their character’s habits and personality are not always explored as deeply as they could be.  Steven Universe is a masterpiece in its emotional depth and maturity but even it like most other programs can shy away from the more serious psychological issues at time.  The cult favorites My Little Pony/Equestria Girls have characters like Fluttershy & Sour Sweet that represent conditions such as severe generalized & social anxiety and disruptive personality disorder but these elements are only used as obstacles to over come social issues & friendship problems more often then being something the character has to live and work to control on a daily basis.  Then of course you have Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burger’s who is also a very socially awkward character but her unique quarks are often just played up for cringe or laughs.

 

Now again I am by no means saying that these characters cannot be inspiring to viewers that share the same or similar unique neurological diversity to them, just that with media’s slowly increasing willingness to talk about so many other types of diversity and to talk about things like emotional maturity and true morality in a more refined, serious yet still easily digestable manner that it would also be beneficial to neurologically diverse viewers and society as a whole, as everyone has some sort of quark or imperfection that helps make them uniquely who they are, to discuss characters neurological diversity in a more open, casual and mature manner as we have seen other issues brought up within media over the course of the 21st century.

 

One example I think television could take some level of inspiration from would be comics.  In recent years we have had characters like Jessica Cruz pop up to many a readers delight.  Jessica Cruz for those that don’t know is the newest Green Lantern of Earth and is unique not just in the fact that she is the first female Green Lantern to hail from our blue orb but also because she is a character who has openly dealt with the trauma of extended bouts of sever anxiety and depression and was still able to over come these and become a hero.  The book doesn’t ignore the issue though and early issues show how even as a hero Jessica still is working to overcome and control her anxiety and that it is her true arch-enemy the same way the Joker is to Batman.

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This extremely open and human portrayal of Jessica is what helps make her work as a character and seeing her overcome her fears and anxieties to become a hero is an inspiring story for readers of all ages.

 

Overall I do think that the representation of neurological diversity is becoming more prevalent if not somewhat more slowly then its ethnic/sexual/physiological counterparts.  I just hope that our favorite cartoons and comics will continue to push the envelope so to speak and continue to add episodes and stories giving open dialogues about neurological diversity and neurologically diverse charters so young children and adult viewers alike can continue to be empowered and inspired by these characters that give us all the courage to dream.

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  Predator: Hunters #1 Review

Published By: Dark Horse Comics

Written By: Chris Warnar

Art By: Fransisco Ruiz Velasco

Lettered By: Michael Heisler


    Dark Horse Comics has been publishing Predator Comics for decades and from Aliens to Batman to Terminators the celestial hunters have gone against many worthy foes, however in this latest series humanity fights back and the hunters become the hunted.
  The book starts out as usual with a group of humans being hunted by the predator with all but one being killed by the beast.  We cut away to a gas station where our main character Nakai is being harassed by his racist redneck boss as he repairs a car.  Shortly after a mysterious trio arrives at the station and confronts Mr. Nakai.  They ask him what experience he has with Predators and he tells them his story.  The trio run by Jaya Soanes then reveal that they are Predator hunters and that they have also survived encounters with or descend from those that hunted the monsters and would like Nakai to join their group.  At first he is reluctant, but eventually he decides to tell off his racist boss and join the team.

 In terms of story the first issue is unsurprisingly primarily set-up and while we do get some brief predator action at the start and via flashbacks most of the issue focuses on setting up the characters and their relation to the extraterrestrial beast.  It isn’t the most entertaining read but it is well executed and gives us decent backgrounds for our human cast and the Predator moments are fairly well done.

 The art by Valesco seems a bit on the genaric side of things but it is done well enough to where the story is fairly easy to follow and the Predator is still intimidating.

  Overall this is a decent start to the mini-series, if not a somewhat subdued one given the premise of the story.

Final Rating

Story: 7

Art: 6

Overall: 6.5

Thoughts on: Logan

WARNING: This Post Contains Spoilers!

DISCLAIMER: This Post is Solely My Opinion.  Wolverine/Logan and all other characters are property of FOX and Marvel Entertainment.

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  On March 3rd 2017 Logan opened in theatres nationwide, and has quickly become the most successful solo Wolverine film to date, as well as one of the most successful X-Men films in the domestic box office joining the likes of Deadpool and Days of Futures Past.  Today we will take a look at the film to see if it holds up after all.

 I’ll go ahead and get the negatives out of the way first.  One thing that really bugged me about the film was the stereotypical and somewhat racist undertones the film had at times.  In the very beginning of the film Logan is confronted and gets into a fight with a group of Hispanic gangsters, because of course when you are in a town in Texas that is near the border the criminals have to be Hispanic.  I will give the film credit for trying to balance things out by having this incarnation of X-23 aka Laura being half Hispanic herself, and they do have some jerky white rednecks for Logan to intimidate/beat down later on, but that still doesn’t negate the sour taste in my mouth the opening scene left.  It also doesn’t help that when Logan’s evil clone X-24 is sent to kill Charles Xavier the innocent African American family that Logan and co were spending the night with basically become cannon fodder as the monster kills them off one by one.  And then there’s the fact that Charles Xavier himself is killed off in a very anticlimactic way which is kind of disrespectful to a character so important.  So yea, between all the pointless death and pseudo racism, even if it was unintentional  Logan does have some elements that leave a sour taste in one’s mouth.

  On the positive side however, I will say the overall script of the film is solid, the story is basically a western with superheroes, we see Logan as a grizzled old man taking one last job to try to get his daughter to the Canadian border so she can meet up with other young mutants and find sanctuary, all the while being tracked by a group of mercenaries, evil scientists and an evil clone. Hugh Jackman also gives one of his best performances in the role yet, we see a more vulnerable and more human Wolverine who is still just as stubborn as ever despite the Adamantium in his body slowly killing him due to his healing factor slowing down to a crawl.  We also see him doing his best to keep Charles Xavier, who seems to be suffering from strokes that make his psychic powers go crazy, alive and well. Throughout the film there are many emotional moments both large and subtle that really help you sympathize with Logan despite his jerky attitude as well as constantly rooting for Laura, Logan and Charles to make it through, even though you know by the end of it at least one of them won’t.  The film has just the right amount of action, dark humor, drama and heart tugging moments to keep you engaged with the story, and as things escalate by the time you get to the end you get a genuinely satisfying fight scene with Logan and the kids fighting all the forces that have set out against them, which ends with a tear jerking moment between Logan and Laura.

 In terms of technical aspects of the films, as it doesn’t have to be as overly dependent on computer generated special effects as other superhero films, we get a more down to earth and organic feel from the story, and the music, sound, pacing and cinematography all blend together perfectly to hit all the queues as needed.  The only real nitpick one could have is that like with many modern action films it can be a bit overly dependent on explosions at times.   Modern Hollywood’s obsession with destruction aside though, the film looks, sounds and runs smoothly from act to act.

  So yes, even though Logan is rough around the edges in some spots it is a genuinely well written and well executed film.  It is a strong last hurrah for Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the character, and for the most part genuinely deserves the praise it receives.  If you haven’t seen it yet I would definitely recommend doing so.