Monday, July 23, 2012

The Necessity of Social Media: An Introduction to my own Accounts

I just found something else to write about! :D

Ladies and gentlemen, a brief rant about social media. 

For a while now I've been kind of having writer's block for this site, considering I am currently on the job hunt during the summer. Also, you might have noticed that I've placed more of a focus on my YouTube channel during this break to do film reviews on there. (See what I did there? I FILM my FILM reviews.)

And, to increase my professionalism, due to some encouragement by my freelance writing father, I also created my LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. However, some of these things may not last very long. I'm just trying them out.

The thing is, every time I create a new account, I get a little anxiety, like I shouldn't be creating it and that I'd be better off without it. There are also times when I create something and then delete it because I don't feel that I am ready for it. Other times I consider it but then put it off. Every time I create one of these accounts I feel like I'm not ready for it or that I should create it at a better, more special time. I'm normally not the type of person that creates an account with one of these sites right away. I felt that way when I got my Facebook and this very blog as well. I figured I'd start off slow just in case I wish to delete them, but it turns out Facebook and Blogspot have been very successful additions to my life, but it also feels like Facebook is overdone because my activity is kind of broad on there and I want to tone it down. I often try to clean out my activity, friend lists, pages, etc.

I am a very private person, so that's why I always question myself every time I create a new account on a new site. I always get nervous because I feel like we as a society are relying too much on technology and that I am just joining the bandwagon, doing what everybody else is doing just because it's popular, which is not something I make a practice in doing.

I was never one to care too much about how many followers or subscribers I have, but it's nice to know that I am not creating these accounts for nothing, and I ultimately do end up caring a good amount, so I definitely appreciate them. It's always so exciting for people to see that number increase one by one. I wonder why this excites us so much. It just helps us to know that we are getting noticed. This proves to me that what I do online has a purpose and that people actually care about me, what I have to say, and want to hear more. That's always a great thing.

From what I see, everything has AT LEAST a Facebook and a Twitter. I often wonder if only one of these sites would do the trick, so what's the point of having more than one account that ultimately has the same purpose as the others? That's my issue with Twitter right now. Twitter is my newest addition. They all seem to have the same functions. What's difference between Twitter and Facebook? Between YouTube and Vimeo? Etc.? What are the benefits of each site? Perhaps some are more professional than others. I liked certain things on Facebook, so does that mean I should or should not follow them on Twitter too? I like being a person without certain accounts and feel proud of myself because when I create these accounts I feel like I am meshing into the rest of the population. Another thing is I always kind of found Twitter odd for the lingo and mascot alone.

I've aired my concerns to my family and friends, and they all agree that these sites are very useful for business, depending on how I use them. Times have changed, and such technology is needed to get my name out there. The thing with me is, I want to get noticed, but yet sometimes I don't want to get noticed. I mean, I do want to get noticed to build my successes, but I am still kind of a private person, after all. I sometimes don't want people to know stuff about me. Why should I post my information for everyone? Then again, I can't necessarily be invisible either in this age of technology. For professional reasons, this needs to be done, and perhaps it isn't much of a big deal. It's not like everything about me is accessible.

I remember once talking to Kelly about how technology is taking over and perhaps life was better back when we didn't have all of this technology, like perhaps things shouldn't have changed and life was better with our "traditional" ways. She said that even if computers and such didn't come around, something else would have. Technology is always changing and improving, which, I agree, is a good thing. Social media is just a new way we communicate with each other. Her words always resonate with me when I start thinking like this. Recently my friend Sammie told me that we use cars and cell phones even though others use them. These sites are just ways we communicate now, just like phones, radios, and televisions were invented. Yeah, but that doesn't mean people need all different types of cars and phones. Only one or two should suffice depending on the circumstances. Why should social media be any different? It just feels like everybody has one of each of these sites, and I wonder, is there a point? Is it good that we are doing this? I understand the more accounts we have the more we branch out to others and the more convenient and better in the long run, but it still makes me question.

I was so proud of myself for being a person who did not have a Twitter account because that is a rarity in today's society, and I like being different. I have been considering it though, and I am kind of happy for finally having one because now when I see Twitter as an option on other sites, I can actually use it now! But then I think, if I like these things on Facebook, what is the point of following them on Twitter? The same goes for me vice versa. If I am connected to people on one site, is it necessary to connect with them on another? Also, I can always go to websites for information as well. Couldn't I just Google things? I'm guessing social media is needed to make contacts easier because it helps to build certain communities.

Oh yeah, and I'm also on Stage 32. This one I don't feel as odd about because this social media site has a theme of theater, TV, and film, which is my field, so naturally it would be good to join it. Plus it's different and I don't know a lot of people on it. My dad sent me this one and I jumped on it.

It's just that I don't want to drive myself crazy with all of these accounts and go nuts trying to make sure they're all connected with each other. Right now I am juggling five, including Facebook. I am trying to get away from my computer and here I am creating additional accounts? That's contradictory, isn't it? Are they even necessary to be in my life? Shouldn't one or two suffice? Are they all needed? Then I feel incomplete that I don't have one of them.

It's not like I have an account with every site imaginable. There are plenty of others sites where I don't have accounts, so I shouldn't feel too bad about the ones I have. And there are plenty of people that have plenty of accounts to help them branch out. See, I don't want to be one of those people that has an account with every site...but is that necessary for business, to have an account with a good majority of these sites? That is what I am asking.

I know I am kind of repeating myself, but this is my stream of consciousness questioning and it is something that is currently on my mind.

Right now, since I am a beginner on Twitter, I am starting off slow and just pretty much using it for business. The more I learn about it, the more I am discovering its benefits. But, I don't want my activity on Twitter to turn into my activity on Facebook. I like how empty it is, starting from scratch. Then again, my Facebook page is pretty empty itself, so that's good.

I just want to be organized with these things, and I think I am, for the most part. :)

I will admit though that it is fun creating and using them.

I'm probably over thinking this like usual.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Starkid's Starship and Disney's The Little Mermaid: Similar Stories, But Which is Better?

Let me start off by saying that I am a big fan of Team Starkid. I am a recent fan considering that I am not a huge fan of Harry Potter and they began their franchise with their first ever musical A Very Potter Musical, so I didn't watch it when it first came out. I was inspired to watch it this past summer of 2011 because I was very into "Glee" and Darren Criss, who started off with Starkid, is now a cast member of "Glee," and I was YouTubing "Glee" the same night the final Harry Potter film was premiering, so I figured I'd watch it to see what the hype is all about. I must say I am very impressed with their talents and pleasantly surprised. As someone who did not necessarily grow up with the Harry Potter series like the rest of my generation, I find myself able to enjoy it regardless.

For those of you who don't know who they are, Team Starkid is a theater troupe consisting of a bunch of theater students who attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Darren being one of them. They come up with their own original pieces and eventually perform them and put them on their YouTube channel. They have all graduated now but still continue their Team Starkid franchise together. They actually just recently completed their S.P.A.C.E. Tour this past November and their Apocalyptour this past June. I definitely consider them an inspiration to aspiring performers everywhere because of their creativity and passion.

A recent Starkid staged musical is Starship, which is what I am going to focus on in this post. Starship has been compared to the story of The Little Mermaid by the Starkids themselves in this video. I've noticed similarities as well, now that they mention it. So which is better? My vote is for Starship. Here is a nice compare and contrast piece of Starship and The Little Mermaid.

*Beware of Spoilers.*

Bug, played by Joey Richter
The Story
The story of Starship follows a human sized insect, appropriately named "Bug," living on a planet called "Bug World," whose greatest dream is to become a Starship Ranger. He gets inspiration from hanging out in an abandoned starship on his planet and watching the old starship footage he finds there. However, he cannot achieve his dreams because the rest of his bug colony gets in the way. They all, including his best friend Roach, try to convince him that becoming a starship ranger is way beyond his reach and that each bug is supposed to do his or her part for the hive, which is where all of the bugs live (Except for one. We'll get to him soon enough.) The Overqueen, an insect who is the ruler of the hive and looks like a vagina (I just found out as I write this that I'm not the only one who thinks this lol), is the one who dictates what each bug does for a living, though also takes into consideration what the bugs want where reasonable. Bug, unsatisfied with the job the Overqueen gives him, comes across February, a human Starship Ranger who has been captured while doing some inspection of the planet by the bugs to implant eggs inside of her. Her eyes are also covered with bug slime, so when Bug talks to her, she doesn't realize he is an insect as well and thinks he is a Starship Ranger like herself. Bug, seeing that February is just as misunderstood as he, feels that they have a connection and instantly falls in love with her. He then rescues her.

At this point we can make connections to The Little Mermaid. Ariel is a small mermaid, the youngest in her family and the daughter of King Triton. Her greatest wish is to live on land. However, though she has this interest towards the beginning of the film as well, this interest is further instigated by rescuing Eric, a sailor with whom she falls in love, from shipwreck during a storm. Then is the only time we truly see her wish to live on land deepen so much whereas Bug's wish to be a Starship Ranger is strong as soon as we meet him. I feel that meeting February did nothing to trigger a greater urge in Bug. His urge is great from the beginning. Bug's inspiration is falling in love with a career and Ariel's inspiration is falling in love with a man. Though he does fall in love with February, and this does have something to do with it, he was convinced he would become a Starship Ranger one day whereas Ariel's wish to become a human and live on land seems more like a curiosity, though she does have this hope to become a human from the beginning as well.

As I am writing this, I'm noticing that Bug and Ariel aren't as much different as I thought.

The Bad Guys
You know what's really awesome about the villains from both Starship and The Little Mermaid? They are all so devilish. Sometimes you have a corny bad guy with useless henchmen and an even more useless plot, but Ursula and Pincer work their way into the minds of the protagonists to get what they want, showcasing some awesome villain strategies that only Satan himself could influence. They both convince the protagonists that they wish to help them whereas they are just in it for themselves. Plus, they both also have two of the best "bad guy songs" of all time:

What I really find interesting is how both sets of lyrics incorporate the villain coercing the protagonist to "make a choice." Another observation I've made is how both characters have long extensions that float around. Pincer has his claws and Ursula has her tentacles.

The only thing I don't like about these villains is that I feel like they are both poorly developed. Their agendas don't seem too clear. For example, Pincer makes it known that he wants to devour the humans, but he also says later on that he does what he does because he is simply a bad guy. Ursula is pretty much just known as the underwater witch and wants to take over the ocean, so therefore she fits the villain description perfectly. I just keep wondering "What is in it for them? Why are they like this? Why are they outcasts? Why are they defiant? Where is there motivation?" I just don't accept the idea of them simply being themselves as their only motive.

However, I really like how huge Pincer is when he enters the stage. When I first saw him, I was in shock with both fear and awe. When I was a youngster at Disney World, I saw the "Voyage of The Little Mermaid," which is a live action stage production of the movie incorporating with some movie clips in it as well, much like what Starship does. When Ursula came onstage, she had the same affect on me. She literally took up the whole height of the stage. She was both frightening and amazing to look at.

The one thing that's different in regards to bad guys is that in Starship, we also have a human bad guy who eventually teams up with Pincer. His name is Junior. He is originally a Starship Ranger whose father is the captain of the starship. He has his own agenda, which is to use what he finds on Bug-World to get a profit to buy some weed. This is actually another pretty weak motive for a villain, but I really enjoy how Brian Holden plays him.

What the Protagonists Do For Love
Okay so now that we have two such persuading bad guys, what exactly do they persuade the protagonists to do? Well, Ursula makes Ariel trade in her voice for legs and Pincer makes Bug trade in his physical appearance for a human body. They use this machine to transfer Bug's mind into the body of a lifeless Starship Ranger Pincer came across. So the question I pose, which was my initial reason for writing this piece, is, what is worse: giving up your voice or giving up your original looks?

Having a voice is very important, so this is poor decision-making on Ariel's part. A person should be able to have the freedom to speak his or her mind in whichever form. At least Bug has the ability to communicate with others considering he keeps his voice and is able to speak both English and his native bug language. Outward appearances don't necessarily matter when it comes to voicing opinions. Well, okay, that's kind of a lie considering how looks get people's attention in the first place, but I think you know what I mean.

My friend Kelly posted this photo on my Facebook wall awhile ago.
This photo is the inspiration for this blog post.
The Moral of the Story 
When we finally meet the Starship Rangers, we find that they have a lot of issues, especially with robots and insects. At the end, Bug becomes the connection between the humans and the insects, helping them all live in peace and coexist with each other. The lesson I personally learn from this part of the story is to not judge based on rumors and initial perceptions. I'm even going to go deeper and suggest that the moral is to not judge through stereotype and racism.

With The Little Mermaid, I feel there are no morals to learn. For one thing, I'm under the impression that the humans in this movie have no problems with the undersea creatures. In fact, they seem to go after them more than flee from them. Ariel's union with Eric doesn't seem to solve any issue between two groups like it does in Starship with Bug and February's union. The lesson I get from it is that you must change yourself for a man and once you get the man you must leave your family forever to be with him. This is my friend Kelly's favorite Disney princess and film and she feels that these morals are realistic to everyday life. Though I agree with her to an extent, I still find it anti-feminist and unrealistic.

It may seem like I am praising Starship and constantly knocking The Little Mermaid, but there are two different ideas in Starship that I strongly dislike, which I will share with you now.        

Two Minor Details That Annoy Me About Starship
I understand that Starship is a parody of science fiction films much like the other Starkid production are parodies, so perhaps I shouldn't take anything about it too seriously, but I really cringe every time they refer to God as the "dead god." Being a Catholic, I believe in Jesus Christ dying for my sins and rising from the dead and gaining eternal life, and I feel like this is Team Starkid's way of mocking my religious beliefs. We don't believe that He necessarily "died." His spirit was always alive. In other words, there's no such thing as a "dead god." God is never dead.  

Starship is a story about science fiction. Religious beliefs have nothing to do with this. In fact, we constantly have this debate going about evolution (science) versus the Genesis Creation Story (religion). The two are never really connected so I don't understand why this is used at all. They say it often too. I can see if they want an interjection to use, but the "dead god?" I also have been hearing that a handful of the Starkids are Jewish, those who believe in God but not Jesus Christ, the man who "died." I'm not sure if there is any truth to their Judaism, but if there is and they used Starship to poke fun at my Christianity and Catholicism, that doesn't sit too well with me.

Then there's something else about Starship that hits me on a personal level. My aunt passed away four years ago from breast cancer, leaving behind a six-year-old son. Since then my uncle has remarried a woman he met online. She is very good to my cousin, don't get me wrong, but it is still a depressing situation for my family. Starship takes this whole concept and makes it a joke. I think it partially explains why Junior is the way he is. Junior's father, Dr. Space-Claw, has a tendency to keep Junior on his toes throughout the musical. We see them converse only once, via webcam, though we don't see Dr. Space-Claw's face. Dr. Space-Claw nonchalantly reveals to Junior that his mother died right after he left for his starship mission. We then cut to Junior's new stepmother and the back to Dr. Space-Claw, who tells Junior he met her online. There is random laughter throughout this scene. The scene plays from 2:07 to 3:11:

I'm sorry, but this hits too close to home for me! There are certain things you just don't joke about, and this is one of them. This scene isn't necessarily needed either. The only reason for it I can think of is to give Junior another reason to go off the deep end, but he is evil to begin with anyway. Just like my issue with rape scenes, people need to take into consideration who their audiences are, for there is a good chance there is someone who lived the exact same scenario you are portraying. It should be done tastefully. There are times I refuse to watch this scene because I find it so offensive and inconsiderate.

However, to conclude this piece on a positive note, the bottom line is, Starship is a very well put together retelling of The Little Mermaid with a happy ending, produced creatively by young people who are just starting out in the business. I think what makes it better too is the fact that it was performed in front of a live audience as opposed to being a cartoon film. Theater is different from film in the way that every show is always live as opposed to film which is watching the same material over and over again. This, and the fact that it was theatrically performed by upcoming artists somewhat straight out of college. That is just very impressive to me and from what I see, we'll be seeing a lot more from them!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July From "Taking it One 'Stef' at a Time!" :D

I love this holiday, don't you? It is such a relaxing holiday. It takes place during the summer, where for some people there are less obligations, and not to mention fireworks and barbecue! And, of course, it is the birthday of our great nation when we got our independence from England. Happy Birthday, America! :)

Here is footage of fireworks from Brookdale Park that I took the past two years:

Enjoy your day everyone! :D

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sears National Dance Day 2012 Preview!

You might remember that I celebrated National Dance Day last year.

It's that time of year again! This year's National Dance Day will be taking place July 28, the final Saturday of this month!

Here are this year's routines:

Last year my friends and choreographed our own routine, which we may still do, but I also want to learn these routines and perform them. I've never performed an official National Dance Day routine and I want to. I've actually been practicing the hip hop master class one to challenge myself lol.

Do you have National Dance Day plans? If so, let me know! If you film yourselves doing these routines, post them! :) Have fun!

I'll let you know if we make any other plans!