Who could have guessed it? Almost 5 years down the road and my blog is still active and awesome. I wouldn’t have, that’s for sure. Not only is the blog still going strong, but this very post is the 300th post on MHB. (Yay me!) Part of me feels like I should shout “This is Sparta!” and then proceed to kick someone into a huge cavern to celebrate. The other part came up with this intriguing four face reflection theme for MHB’s milestone post. Before we get into all of the fun stuff I just wanted to send out a big thank you to any/all readers checking this beast of a post. Also huge thanks to all of the contributors that are helping make this post as epic as possible. 😉 I can’t thank any of you enough. But now it’s time to get down to business.
Short story short… I was scrolling through a search of Mortal Kombat related art on Instagram recently (I’m an MK fanboy) and I saw a crazy awesome piece done featuring Mortal Kombat’s most famous yellow ninja, Scorpion. I immediately thought to myself… If I were to depict myself via pictures to somebody, would I use this picture of Scorpion to convey who I am? Weird first reaction, right? I thought it was weird… I also thought it was a crazy cool premise. And just like that, my gears started turning to make the concept into an interesting blog subject.
So here we are. The idea has morphed a tad but the same premise applies. Instead of one picture, everyone participating gets to choose four faces from pop culture (or any aspect of life really) to show and represent all of their beliefs, inspirations, and dreams of who we are to this point and/or what each of us hope and strive to be moving forward to form their four face reflection.
Between family and friends I was able to corral 7 other crazies who were willing to peer into the four face reflecting mirror and join me on this little venture. To introduce them, I’ll show you their names and faces, but they’re on hand to show you their reflection.
Sooooooo (in the order in which I received their contributions) I’d love to introduce my guest bloggers!
Matt Horn’s four faces…
I know Scorpion is the face that spawned this idea, but he didn’t make the final four for me. Sorry dude… My faces are Aragorn (brought to life by Viggo Mortensen) from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, late ESPN anchor Stuart Scott, former NFL and MLB star Bo Jackson and legendary front man, Paul Stanley, of KISS. So let’s dive in!
I chose Aragorn, like all of the faces I chose, because he covered more than one quality/aspect of my life. Aragorn lives an unassuming life, means no harm to others, and really doesn’t do the entitlement thing. And I applaud cause I feel I operate the same way (the 30-year old version of me anyway). Lord of the Rings was eye opening and a complete game changer for me. Up until I saw those movies, I was all about music and sports. After seeing Lord of the Rings, I realized that I loved story telling. Only since I started this blog though have I come to appreciate what goes into telling an epic story such as Lord of the Rings. I’m in awe. To be able to accomplish something of that magnitude is to have the foresight and fortitude to know a project worth doing will take time and dedication. And not to short change yourself just to get something done. But rather completing the task (whatever the task may be) exactly as it was meant to be done. Aragorn’s inclusion, as a character and as a face to the medium in which his character exists, was a must.
I have many hobbies – football, baseball, golf, ultimate, etc… Anyone see a theme? I love to play sports, watch sports, and talk about sports. I chose Stuart Scott because he talked sports, and when he talked sports, I listened. I loved watching and listening to him on Sportscenter, and later in his career on ESPN’s Monday Night Football coverage. He made all the games/highlights he broke down more interesting. And he made working with others on set seem effortless and easy. Stuart Scott made the content a better product when the product was already great by itself. Unknowingly at the time when I made the decision to go back to school, he was probably the biggest influence as to why I went back to school for broadcasting. Stuart, you sir without question fall under the influential portion of my post for the dedication you put into your craft. Booyah!
Bo knows football. Bo knows baseball. Bo knows everything I aspired to be good at as a young human. Bo Jackson, running back for the Los Angeles Raiders, outfielder for the Kansas City Royals. Playing two professional sports, and playing them better than his piers. He’s the most amazing pure athlete over the last 33 years (I use 33 because I’m 33 years old). But most importantly (I kid, but not really, lol), he’s a Nintendo Tecmo Super Bowl legend! His direct parallel with me is through Tecmo Super Bowl. So many hours playing that game. So many controllers thrown because I couldn’t stop Bo Jackson. How does one stop the unstoppable?! I’m here to give Bo Jackson credit for my infatuation with stats as well. When I’d play Super Tecmo Bowl I’d always monitor how many yards I ran for with Bo, how many TD’s I scored with him. I was always on the stat page comparing how I did vs the rest of the league. Nowadays, I get to flex my stat-head prowess daily throughout the summer playing rotisserie fantasy baseball and fantasy football in the fall. But the stat tracking all started with Nintendo’s December 1991 release of Tecmo Super Bowl. Bo was a force of nature on the gridiron and in the game. I admired his pure ability so much I wanted to name my son Bo after Bo Jackson. I long to be as versatile and dominant in sport, gaming, and life in general as Bo was.
Last, but definitely not least, and I say that because his name was the very first face on my list, is the one and only Starchild, Paul Stanley of KISS. It’s been about 20 years of KISS fandom for me now. My love for them has grown into a love of rock and roll. I can’t get enough gritty guitars and rapid fire drum rolls. Though with KISS specifically, I’ve always been enamored with their larger than life rock star appeal. As a 13/14/15 year old, they made me want things for the first time. I wanted to sing, to have long hair, to play guitar, to be on stage, to be famous. After listening to KISS Alive!, it made me want to listen to other bands live albums. After seeing them in concert, it made me want to experience more bands in concert. Basically, they made me want to expand my horizons. Fun fact: After reading Paul’s book 2 years ago, I found that I share many of Paul’s outlooks on life and views regarding family. To discover a shared a fundamental approach/outlook on life with one of your idols is extremely gratifying. It’s weird but some part of me felt at peace/fulfilled after learning that. Especially now that I have a family of my own. I honestly feel connected to KISS more so than any sports team, or any pop culture entity. To not have a face from KISS representing me for this post would be a total farce and a complete misrepresentation of who I am.
I love to take photos! in my spare time or when traveling I can usually be found buzzing around taking more pictures than I know what to do with. I’m an amateur shutterbug with plenty left to learn, but I embrace the fact that even on the most ordinary day of the year there’s always something amazing to capture. The beauty of this world never ceases to amaze me & it’s even better when you can capture it to share with others. Ansel Adams’ famous photography is not only an inspiration but also a great reminder the world has much to offer, we just have to keep our hearts open & our cameras handy.
[“…I never took lessons to learn how to play guitar, I just sort of figured it out. I think that if you’re passionate about something and you’re driven & focused, that you can pretty much do anything that you want to do in life” -Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters]
This one-of-a-kind rocker represents a portion of my diverse taste in music and having been a member of two legendary rock bands, he is obviously no stranger to hard work. After seeing the Foo Fighters in concert twice (which are easily part of my top ten memorable moments) it is evident Dave is truly passionate about his music and you can depend on him to give 110% – even with a broken leg! His passion is inspirational and I can certainly relate to his work ethic. I hold myself to high standards when it comes to the work I do. I am my own worst critic but no matter how challenging, with passion & hard work I know there’s always the potential for something better than ‘just good enough’. I will never have any Grammys to show for it, but a successful end product makes the hard work well worth it.
The Lorax in a cleverly written Dr. Seuss tale is the ‘speaker of the trees’ and teaches children of all ages about respect for the environment and what happens when industry & greed take the lead. I often find myself in a similar position as a volunteer at a local zoo where I am an animal interpreter- I have the opportunity to ‘speak for the animals’ and educate curious zoo guests about conservation for critically endangered animals and what they can do to help wildlife right in their own backyard. Throughout my childhood, I was taught to have an appreciation for plants, animals & the environment’s well-being which has stuck with me. I hope to pass that along to educate & inspire others to take steps to better our Earth.
Besides sporting tees with his successful I ❤ NY logo, I was first introduced to this designer while studying graphic design in college. He’s the designer of many recognizable iconic works like the colorful Bob Dylan poster and one (of the many) DC Comic logos. His concept that ambiguity is better than certainty represents a mindset I strive for. With a considerably high awareness of the thoughts & feelings of those around me, an open minded approach & willingness to hear out and/or accept other points of view is always something I focus on. Certainties set limits which restrict learning experiences, growth & creativity. It’s tough to achieve great things with tunnel vision or intolerance. Ambiguity triggers thoughts- reinforces my willingness to think outside the box & reminds me to have faith that everything will work out the way it needs to.
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Where does one begin choosing just four faces to represent oneself? By praying to the Many-Faced God? Probably. But I get the feeling that the only advice I’d receive from that particular deity would come in the form of a particular Nick Cage quote: “I wanna take his face…off.” (And just in case you were about to die from fear, let me reassure you: Nick Cage’s mug will not be appearing in my picks.) … (Arrrggh!%$#!—Now all I can see in my head is the crazy-eyed Cage face saying that line!) Ahem… Whittling faces down was a lot like picking a hundred, then choosing just four from a hat, because there are so many equally valid choices, and indeed (yes…I’m that guy who loves the word, indeed) as I begin this intro I have no idea which four I’ll pick. So I reiterate, where does one begin? Is a boy truly no one? No one but a face in the crowd… And with that little reference I launch into the first of four picks:
Face 1: Tom Petty
The obvious choice. At least to any of my friends. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is my favorite band, and if I was going to include any face from music, it was always obviously going to be this one. And yet, he almost didn’t make the cut, because choosing only four from other sources seemed impossible. But in the end, it wasn’t just the music—which represents my tastes so well—that made this choice for me. It was everything connected to it. My other three picks will undoubtedly be all about me, as they should be—I mean we’re trying to pick ones to represent ourselves here. But I wouldn’t be me without the people in my life, and TP, even from the earliest days of shooting pool amid the sweet sounds of his records, has represented to me the connections I share with my closest pals. And even now, every time I hear a TP jam, it’s like it was written just for me. For who I was then, and for who I am now. Indeed, few are the artists and songs that I’ve identified with so wholly and so continuously, throughout the various stages of my life, as I have with TP. And finally, so why the Mad Hatter TP pic, you ask, with the top hat and shades? Well I had to have a little fun with it. And it’s an image that seems to jive with exactly the kind of person I feel like inside: strange but silly, crazy even, prone to enjoying outlandish outfits (at least in my mind), and never feeling like there’s enough time. Also, he’s not a pretty guy.
Face 2: Link
My next face was perhaps the most obvious to myself. I knew right away I had to do one from a video game. But which one? There are myriad, and many that might be more personally meaningful to me than Link, especially characters from Final Fantasy, always my favorite games. No stories have meant as much to me or helped define who I am as FF4, FF6 and Chrono Trigger. No stories have so well captured what was in my heart. But in the end I forced myself to choose just one face from games, and I knew that I wanted it to be all-encompassing of the things that draw me in, and also as recognizable as possible. And most of all I knew it should convey the spirit of adventure that makes all my favorite games, stories, and movies my favorites. And that face is Link. The lone adventurer. Ever riding out into the unknown to solve the riddles of the world and save the day, and doing so to an epic soundtrack. Which isn’t what my life is actually like of course, but it helps me to sleep at night by viewing it through such a lens. As for the image I picked, it was a difficult choice. I very much wanted to go with the pixilated Link from SNES’s A Link to the Past, given it’s my favorite one and conjures up a great deal of nostalgia…but this hand-drawn image I found is more solidly recognizable. And he’s got this sexy, determined look about him…much like I have myself. Or so I’ve been told. By myself.
Face 3: Jean-Luc Picard
If Link is my spirit, then Picard is my spirit with a conscience, the guiding force behind my Master Sword. Which isn’t to say that this was an easy pick. I so wanted to include Mulder, The X-Files ever being my favorite show. But in the end, I’ve always found Star Trek to be among the most meaningful and inspiring…anything. It is the epitome of what people could become, should we continue our progression toward the ideals of social justice and reason. And writing that…well I’m not really sure what that has to do with me, except that Picard symbolizes a purpose that I otherwise lack. And he symbolizes, in many ways, my ideal persona. He loves the adventure. He hates the bullshit. He’s a sensitive guy deep down, but he’d never let you walk over him. He questions everything, but he’s passionate when he believes in something, and above all, he’s a character founded and grounded by reason (as is the show itself). Indeed, reason and logical truth are my highest values. Of course, it’s hard to depict that in a face, so I choose the classic Picard “Engage” pose. Because that’s really what it’s all about. A willingness to engage the world and move forward into the unknown. And let me tell you, I’ve been know to engage some gnarly unknowns…
Face 4: Steven Colbert
Face four…definitely the most difficult. Do I pick, say, Mel Gibson’s William Wallace, one of the most single-handedly inspirational characters to me? No, I think that would be redundant after Picard. Not to mention much less dimensional. Do I pick Lord Helmet? I so wanted one less serious to represent the fact that I am generally not very serious. The fact is, I’m much more Spaceballs than Braveheart. Or perhaps I should do a second game character, say…boot Mario, who quite literally is me, or rather, my alternative online self… (I had this hankering to say boot Mario in this post someplace—and Lo! I’ve achieved it!) Ahh…but in the end, and after watching a sultry Tetris-piece sex scene on his new show (Seriously. Look it up.), one predominate image popped up in my mind to end all others, and I knew… And that image was Colbert. He’s a goofball. But a serious one. He’s a nerd. But not an obvious one. And I find myself finding him most agreeable nearly all the time. I dare say the Colbert Report had more me in it than any other thing ever. And that is why I choose Colbert to round off the four faces of me (and that trademark raised brow in particular). One face to represent my most important outside influences. One face to represent my deepest innermost influences. One face to represent that which guides those influences. And one face to bring them all together and in the darkness bind them…er…I mean one face that represents the whole me. So at last, upon considering all these influences, I believe I can finally and fatally answer that most cheaply-made referential question: a boy is indeed someone. A boy is the Fishman.
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
He came from humble beginnings and had a never give up spirit. Almost every image of him shows his signature smile. His music and style shaped my perspective on life – stand up for what you believe, love life no matter what it sends your way, be true to yourself, and always smile.
The inventor of AC power.
He was always observant of the world around him and looking for opportunities to better humanity through harnessing electricity. Tesla was a bit of a showman, however in the public eye he maintained an air of mystery. I’ve always been amazed at his incredible genius and vision of the future that we are only now realizing. The intense gaze, well pressed suit, head resting on his hand – This image shows us a selfmade man, deeply passionate, always thinking, and confident. All are qualities I admire and strive to achieve.
Theodore Roosevelt / Robin Williams
This image resonates with me because the uniform reminds me of Boy Scouts which greatly shaped my life. The smile made famous by Teddy Roosevelt who saw war / turmoil yet strove to best it all. Interestingly Robin Williams seemed to always wear a smile although he battled demons in his personal life. I’ve become aware to the world of mental illness and how it can control a person’s life. Robin Williams portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt reminds me that all of us have a story and we should never judge a book by its cover.
I’d be vain to compare myself to Ghandi which is why this image represents a role model. A man who was successful saw a bigger cause them himself. He humbled himself and through example and prayer enacted real, lasting change in the world. This image reminds me to be prayful, humble, and to walk with others – especially when they feel alone.
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Sports have always fascinated me. Whether I’m watching them or playing them, I find enjoyment in being a part of the competition. I’ll be the first to admit that my favorite teams are pretty sporadic. Most importantly, I hate Philadelphia teams and I currently reside 35 minutes from Philly. Mainly because I never want to be associated with Philly fans.
I have plenty of reasons as to why I like the teams I do, but nothing really compares to the NY Yankees. By far, baseball is my favorite sport to watch, and I’ve always enjoyed learning and watching it’s pastime. But for some odd reason, I was obsessed with The Babe as a child. Maybe it was learning and reading about his childhood. Or even staring at his statistics in awe. I even mimicked his signature on baseballs. On top of that, I still collect photographs of him. Oddly, Babe Ruth is the reason I love the Yankees, and the reason I became so interested in sports.
I have an addiction. I’m an addict. My addiction is music. Ace Frehley should be the person held accountable for it.
I’ve always been a KISS fan. I remember jamming out to Ace’s solo album while skateboarding in my parents driveway at the age of twelve. It started with the face paint. Ace and his silver splash made him my favorite. Sure, I loved the rest of the crew, but couldn’t rip chords and riffs on my air guitar without pretending to be Ace. Then it escalated so much that I went dressed as him for Halloween.
Ace and KISS have certainly impacted my love for music and classic rock, and I’ve learned to expand my taste in music. Every genre but country is acceptable. Music helps the work day roll faster, and helps me focus on what I’m doing. I hate driving, but love listening to music in my car. Even cleaning, cooking, or getting ready with music is awesome. For me, music changes everything.
This one might sound lame, but he belongs here. My mother does as well, but I’m only picking one for this list. I’m also keeping it short.
My dad is an older version of me. He’s got the same sense of humor as me, he’s a child, he volunteers when it’s needed and/or wanted, and he often puts other before himself. That list goes on for days, but I’ve admired my dad’s character and I’ll admit that I’ve copied it. And I’m happy he’s been there to teach me in being the person I am.
My career as a designer and my daily life has been impacted in many ways by Steve Jobs. I spend at least eight hours per day doing design work on a macintosh. I spend at least two hours texting and contacting friends on my iPhone every day. I watch HBO Go on my Apple TV often. I even wrote this paragraph on my iPhone. Sure, he didn’t design and create all of these products, but he marketed most of them and he creatively directed them.
Being a designer, my perspective on Steve Jobs is completely different than that of most people. Tons of people hate him. I’m the opposite. I know what it takes to drill into someone’s head to force them into creating the product that is going to get everyone to purchase it. In addition to that, I admire what he’s done from a marketing and design standpoint. He’s changed the lives of many people because of it.
I’ll leave you with an inspirational quote that I’ve always loved. And if you haven’t read the book, I highly suggest it.
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
It took a lot longer than I expected to come up with the four faces that have most influenced who I am. The first two came very easily, it was the second two that took a bit more deliberation. After all, a lot of things go into shaping a person, how do you narrow it down to just four? I tried to pick to pick things that would be very recognizable to those who know me, or give a good idea of who and what I am to those that don’t.
So, without further ado, here are my four faces.
Probably not a surprise even if you barely know me. The Simpsons, in general, were a very large part of my life growing up. We weren’t supposed to watch the show, my Mom thought it was a bad influence on my sister and I. Luckily she worked on Thursdays, which meant she wasn’t home when the new episodes would air. I would break the rules every week to keep up with Homer and the rest of family. This was maybe one the longest running, blatant defiances of one of my Mom’s rules. Finally, after she actually watched a few episodes in syndication, she relaxed the rule and let us watch the show without sneaking around.
If you know me, you know I quote the Simpsons (Homer in particular) every single day. I have a quote for almost every situation. Some of my friends love it, others hate it, and it makes my girlfriend roll her eyes. It’s me though, its a part of me. All of Homer’s wisdom (and non-wisdom) is all tangled up along with all the other stuff in my personality.
I’ve played a lot of video games in my life…and I mean a lot. When my sister and I got a Super Nintendo for Christmas in the early 90’s, it started the chain reaction that would shape a great portion of my life. Now, I’ve played a lot of games, and spent a lot of hours on those games, but the first time I ever really spent “way too much time” playing a games was Legend of Zelda, a Link to the Past.
First, I sat and watched my friend Mike play through the entire game when he got it for Christmas. We used the map book to guide our way through Hyrule, destroying bad buys almost every afternoon. When he finally beat the game, he let me borrow it. It took me the whole summer that year to beat it. Every minute of free time was spent exploring with Link, crawling through dungeons and solving puzzles. That was the first game I dedicated so much time and effort to completing.
Link was the gateway character, the first one that I would take on a great series of adventures. I played the rest of the Zelda games, I watched the Zelda cartoon, I own Zelda t-shirts. Many hours of many days have been spent on other games, but the ones featuring Link were the ones that got me into games, and made them my hobby and my conversation starter.
These games are also why I love fantasy novels. You could probably attribute the reason I like Lord of the Rings so much to the fact that I played so many games featuring Link and his High Fantasy universe.
Iron Maiden’s mascot is Eddie. Eddie is on every album cover (of which I own all of them), he’s on most of the t-shirts (of which i own many), he’s on bobble heads (of which I own one). He’s the face of Iron Maiden, and Iron Maiden is my favorite band, of all time.
I got into Iron Maiden in 2001. I heard Aces High and loved it. Shortly after they released Brave New World, which I also loved. Then I went to see them on tour, and I was hooked. Maybe the best part of the show is when Eddie walks out on stage, battling and harassing band members, shooting fire, waving a laser gun, or whatever they have him rigged to do that tour.
Iron Maiden became part of my school projects, reports, videos, and just about everything else I could fit them into. I made friends and family listen to them, and listen to me talk about them. Most of my friends were probably tired of hearing about the greatest metal band in the world, but I managed to convert a friend or too along the way. I have more Iron Maiden music and memorabilia than anything else own (except maybe Star Wars).
Iron Maiden also served to get me deeper into the metal scene. I wore band t-shirts, skull belts and bracelets, and I went to concert after concert. Most of the paychecks that were coming in then went right back out to buy cds.
I still listen to Maiden on a regular basis, and I still go to concerts when they tour. Until they retire (which is gonna be a sad day) I’ll keep buying their music and seeing them live.
I could have picked any number of Star Wars characters to put here, but my favorite “face” from the whole series is the helmet of the Imperial Stormtroopers. As a kid I thought they were so cool. I pretended to be one, I bought the blaster rifle, and I wished they weren’t bad guys. I thought that armor was so awesome, so recognizable.
Star Wars became a very big part of my life. I wore out the VHS tapes from watching them over and over again. My Dad and I bonded over the series, one of the few things we had in common when I was a kid. I couldn’t tell you how many times we sat down and watched one of the original trilogy.
In th mid-90’s, when the films were re-released, we went on opening day to see them. I started collecting the new toys, and I always wanted the stormtroopers first. Even when I wanted the heroes, I wanted the versions in the stormtrooper armor.
I probably talk about Star Wars at least once a day. I play Star Wars games, have Star Wars noises on my phone, and have the posters and other decorations around my apartment. Friends and family will give me little gifts every now and then, simply because they came in Star Wars packaging.
I was there on opening night to see the Force Awakens, and I’ll be there on opening night for the rest of the new movies. Star Wars is such a part of my life, like it is for many other people. Even if I have nothing else in common with someone, if we both like Star Wars I can carry a conversation.
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Christina Horn’s four faces…Sandra Day O’Connor
She was the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court and I portrayed her for a 6th grade project about historical figures. Many years later (19 to be exact), my career as an insurance adjuster reflects the strengths I admire in her like being able to analyze and weigh in on important cases. Side note: I still remember banging a gavel to get everyone’s attention for my presentation even though I’m pretty sure Sandra never had a gavel.
Her words are tremendously powerful and timeless. They spoke to my heart several times throughout my life and especially while at Messiah College. She just makes me want to be a better person. One quote that has always stayed with me is, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
To be honest, I don’t know much about her but I like her paintings. I connect with her work because we share interest in the same subject matter. She is known for painting enlarged flowers and I’m drawn to flowers since becoming somewhat of a budding watercolorist (see what I did there?) and gardener. I admire her ability to be bold yet simple. Her painting style also taught me that sometimes the best art comes from connecting with nature and letting the details speak for the whole. She inspired me to study the texture, shape, and color of flowers which has become my zen and for that I thank her.
Charlotte’s from Charlotte’s Web
My daughter and I watched this movie recently and I resonated with Charlotte, a well-spoken spider who befriends Wilbur, a runt pig destined for the smokehouse. In his time of loneliness, she kept him company. In this time of need, she used great strength to spin several words such as “some pig”, “terrific”, and “humble” into her webs which drew public attention and ultimately saved his life. I strive to be creative, clever, and loyal like Charlotte.
Sarah Manning of the BBC Sci-Fi Television series ‘Orphan Black’ can be described as an unlikely, even reluctant heroine in the midst of a most chaotic bio-genetic situation. She has a checkered past, and was, at a time, involved with some very unsavory characters. When this unbeknown leading lady walks onto a subway platform to witness the suicide of a woman whom she’s never seen before, but who is her exact clone, EVERYTHING in her life changes.
Sarah is a fighter. Armed with a shredded Clash T-shirt, a constant black hoodie holding her wild hair and feelings inside and ready to breach the nearest security system to find answers, she is stubborn, tough, defensive, loyal and most importantly-independent. In one word: badass. She cannot stand being described (she would hate this!) and even more so, cannot bear being told what to do and when to do it. Often, she does just the opposite of what is expected for sake of rebelling. However, when chaos ensues- she rises to every occasion to fight for her and for those she holds dear. At one point in the series, Sarah is posing as her clone, who was a detective. She actually learns to play the part- from a fake accent and outer identity, to using firearms and police work tactics. She is very resourceful. When she is not posing as one of her clones to further investigate the mystery of why and how these women are all connected, she is balancing regaining custody of her young daughter and sticking close by to her friend, another former foster child, Felix. As a former child of the youth protective services, Sarah has some major trust issues. She cannot seem to commit to a partner, as she has no permanent sense of a family model, other than Felix and her former foster caregiver, who is female. With no father figure and no solid father figure for her daughter, at the end of the day, she feels that she can only depend on herself. This attitude does wax and wane throughout the series, as her relationships with other clones deepens and we see a sisterly and maternal side of Sarah, the loyal and protective side. Her anger is harnessed for a purpose other than ‘getting back at the system’, and she becomes less wayward and reckless.
She appeals to my independent streak, my teen-aged self that never left. I have definitely been told I am stubborn, at times defensive, haphazardly independent, and maybe caught holding my feelings, along with my hair inside of a hoodie from time to time. Pushing people away is a skill I am happy I have not completely mastered, though have been known to dabble. Harnessing anger and frustration rather than letting it run rampart toward the nearest stable expectation is something I strive toward and hope, with age, that I’ve become better at. Though not a former foster child, but having an unconventional family model, it has left me with reason to question relationships throughout my life. I have been told often that I treat friends no different than family, as anyone can leave at any time and putting trust in those closest is at times, a painful and not easy process. And my rebellious nature, though not as wild as it once was, will never die out. That constant teenager being oppositional pops out when cornered. But that flame of stubbornness, as we see with Sarah, can be used for good. Beginning to trust and protect what is dear, as well as taking care of oneself in the process can ease those urges to ‘run away’ or rebel from life’s responsibilities and expectations. The more a character like Sarah, and myself, realize that we are valuable and loyal assets to have on one’s side- the more solid and stable the relationship bonds surrounding us will be.
Vanessa Ives of the television series ‘Penny Dreadful’ is cursed. It’s not just that she believes she is cursed; it’s that there is paranormal proof of the force that surrounds her and haunts her, and soon others realize they must stay and fight it with her- or keep a safe distance. A lead female character in a male-dominated cast, culture, and society, Vanessa’s inner demons are something she battles more so than the grim and gothic characters that make up her surroundings.
In Victorian London, Vanessa seems well tucked away safely in her wealthy mansion, surrounded by male protectors, suitors, and a very strong connection to her spirituality. Like many religious inspired tales of possession and hauntings, one might say that it is simply BECAUSE Vanessa believes so diligently in a higher power and the supernatural that she ends up with this affliction, this curse casting its ever present shadow on her. It is described in the show as ‘being touched by the backhand of God.’ Like a martyr who receives the stigmata, this phenomenon effects those who are chosen by God to serve as some sort of medium or messenger. This process of being ‘open’ to a paranormal plane unseen to most, can be described throughout history as well as fiction- and no different in Vanessa’s case- as a painful road filled with suffering. Those who are chosen for this task are often reluctant and want it ‘taken away’ like a fever. John Constantine comes to mind as another great character with this simultaneous blessing and curse- worn near or past death, he fights a spiritual battle he did not choose for himself, creating a kind of reluctant-savior complex. Along with the affliction comes power. Vanessa knows she has powers and is different from other people fairy early in her life. It’s not until she has had enough life experience under her belt that she grows to understand how to really use her powers, made up of knowing the light and dark sides of nature. In her story, she learns to speak the symbolic ‘devil’s tongue’ in order to fight against its dark force when it rears its twisted head, again and again. She is left feeling alone in the world, even when paired with others who can see the paranormal. She loves very deeply, but cannot let her guard completely down. Her gift/curse seems too large a burden to bear for those close to her and she wants to protect them by keeping a bit of distance, so that the dark forces may never touch them.
My spiritual side, particularly the growing- up- Catholic part of me relates to Vanessa. In order to believe in the light’s existence, you must first acknowledge the dark. If you believe in neither, perhaps you save yourself the headache of conducting a search in ‘why things happen to us.’ I have always been interested in the unexplained. Maybe it was a steady diet of X-files and Catholicism… or the Catholicism within the X-files, either way, it led to investigation. Since a very young age, I would read books the saints, but also about monsters and zombies, and ghost hauntings- but not just for the thrill- for a reasonable explanation. Why did these things happen? Did they happen? How? There have certainly been things in my life that have left me with no logical answer. When something like a freak accident or an unforeseen tragedy happens to you, but you go on living, do you view yourself as cursed, blessed, or neither? These are questions I’ve asked myself, and questions that Vanessa struggles with throughout the series as well. Perhaps it is a pain to believe, whatever it is you believe in- and to ask questions… But I want to believe.
An iconic figure in comic and pop culture alike, Bruce Wayne is infamously better known by his crime fighting alias; Batman. I chose Bruce Wayne, existing in his civilian identity, rather than Batman for multiple reasons. Firstly, Batman is a tough, vast and legendary force of character to tackle. In order to begin dissecting the world that is Batman, one must first understand the root of his character- that is Bruce Wayne.
We all know the tragic tale of young Bruce Wayne’s parents being murdered in front of him by gunshot at point blank range; I will not go into detail explaining that very sad fictional evening. I will focus on what this did to Bruce, how this changed him completely, and how it almost stunts and accelerates his psychological growth simultaneously. When Bruce is faced (honestly face to face) with terrifying violence and this unimaginable loss of his loved ones at the hands of a street criminal, unknown to him, he is overcome with shock. He grieves, as he is so young and now suddenly, orphaned. He grieves because his parents loved him and were ever-present in his life. He cannot imagine a world where they are taken away- and for what? – money and jewelry, hardly worth the price. He grieves, because he is now angry and cannot understand how a person could be capable of existing with such a despicable nature. While the murderer is eventually caught and brought to ‘justice’, he grieves because no amount of years or court ordered punishment will even begin to bring a sense of peace or reconciliation for the death of his parents. Finally, he grieves out of guilt and feeling as though he could have done something to stop this from happening, to have fought back, to have not been left a survivor- frozen in an unfair battle.
Bruce Wayne is one of my most favorite characters of all time because he turns his personal tragedy into outward action. He has no superpowers, just a seemingly unlimited amount of resources to aid his quest. To avenge the murder of his parents, he takes justice into his own hands in an effort to protect the innocent from evil- as Batman. Classic. Who would not want to be Batman and experience all of that heroic glory? But think about being Bruce Wayne, really living as the man and not the myth, not taking credit (but to a select few) for all of that hard work and compassion. It’s always interested me, Bruce’s humility, his ability to lead a double life. He is satisfied with the secret work he knows he completes and would prefer to remain anonymous.
When something tragic happened to me, I immediately wanted to become stronger than I was before that event, both physically and mentally. Bruce does this physically by mercilessly training his body to withstand combat. I am still working on my ninja-vigilante physique, though it is a slow process. I have a goal in mind to turn my physical self into a well-functioning and healthy machine, ready for danger at the drop of a hat. I would like to better arm myself with combat skills, although I believe that most of us do possess a natural ability to survive and fight when threatened. A knowledge of self-defense is not just about kicking and striking, but a state of mind. In therapy, I’ve been told over and over again, since my traumatic event, that anger can be our biggest tool in healing. Anger is without a doubt what propels Bruce Wayne to live on and fight for others, since the traumatic loss of his parents. Since he was young when it happened, his life was at a standstill- as it is for everyone who experiences trauma- but in a way he moves on by bettering himself as he gets older and ‘making a difference’ in society (we won’t get into the legal aspects of that!) Some might argue that he’s not moving on, as he still experiences flashbacks and has so much anger to deal with. Personally, I don’t think trauma is ever really ‘over.’ It is not for me, and I would like to make some kind of a difference, if possible, in our society and work with those who have been victims of tragedy. Maybe it’s a dangerous idea, diving into a snake pit of grief and upheaval- but I think it’s one way to cope, and to help. We can’t forget how Batman became who he is. Bruce Wayne’s choice to be brave and power through his personal grief represents, I believe, anyone who would like to make a difference even after seeing the evil side of humanity.
(My take on Jessica Jones will be based purely on the television show, as I have not read enough of the Alias comic to relate.) Jessica Jones is not only one of the best feminist characters I’ve seen represented in this fashion, but also one of the first to discuss PTSD in a no-bones-about-it type way. Another character who is trying to cope, Jessica Jones is a rogue crusader who lives with constant flashbacks of a time in her life when she was the victim rather than the hero. She struggles with an alcohol addiction in an attempt to ease the PTSD. She is very dry, very cunning, and extremely protective of all those who are preyed upon by criminals, particularly women. She is extremely close with her best friend, and in the series- even discusses her PTSD with her. I love that it is actually called out and not just implied. I know this was a huge deal for victims, advocates and just plain fans of the comic and character alike.
I relate to Jessica Jones mostly because I am diagnosed with PTSD, but secondly because I am a modern day woman in a male superhero-dominated society. Jessica Jones is not oversexed in the show- in fact she wears basically the same jeans and leather jacket for just about every episode that I’ve watched. I can dig this. And yes, although she has at least one intimate relationship, this show is not a giant love story filled with her dating escapades. She is always watching, always paying attention to detail- every noise, every shadow, and this is not only because it is her job as a private- eye, but because that’s what living in a hypervigilant state is like. It is hard to relax when you are stuck in this mode, and it is so clearly represented in the show. I had a huge ‘aha!’ moment while watching this and wished I would have seen it or read it sooner because it brought me great comfort. It felt good to put a female face to what I was feeling, and how I felt angry and restless all the time. Not to mention, there is nothing glamorous about her apartment in the series, she is certainly no millionaire. She is representative of an everyday woman who was at a time, a victim, but refuses to ever be put in that position again- so much that she wishes to protect anyone she can help from ever feeling what that feels like.
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
***MHB’s 300th post. In all it’s glory.***
Thanks again to Samantha, Nate, Brett, Clark, Brett, Christina, and Annika for taking the time help make this milestone post a great one as well.
To any daring readers…
Please join in and share you Four Face Reflections in the comment section.