Fantasy and science fiction both utilize the hero in their stories as someone to progress the series along. Someone whom you both saw the world through and aspired to be. Lately that trope is being flipped and two characters that embody this trend are Jean-Luc Picard and Luke Skywalker.
The trope of an evil force causing global chaos is the most basic of tropes in fantasy. Middle-earth is the most well-known for this template, but who in this universe was its greatest tyrant?
Beren is a name that carries a lot of weight in the universe of Middle-earth: married to an immortal and the sire of a long line of nobility that survives far past his death. Beyond the myth however, the man carried even greater weight.
The benevolent watchmen of Middle-earth, the Valar play a crucial role in early development of the world up into it's Second Age. While benevolent however, their authority is pot-marked with highs and lows: particularly with their relationship to Middle-earth's inhabitants.
The original White Lady of the Noldor, Aredhel has a short story in the Silmarillion, but a powerful presence. She's up front and blunt person in a clan full of proud and angry nobles.
One of the most lingering aspects to me about "The Silmarillion" was the tale of Numenor, an island inhabited by the best of humanity. Its destruction was so severe, so total, that I had to examine the motivation behind it.
Caranthir is one of the sons of Feanor who gets less attention than his brothers, Maedhros, Celegorm, and Curufin. However I think there's more than meets the eye to him than is given credit for.
Welcome to my examination of the internal relationships between the Elves of Arada and their motivations.
These two brothers are rarely mentioned apart from each other. While "The Silmarillion" contains Elves acting badly, Celegorm and Curufin are perhaps the most infamous. They literally gave their entire clan a bad name on their own, and I think their motivations bear examination.
Though often grouped as shared collective, I think the Elves of Middle-earth are more diverse in appearance and thought than given credit for, even among the separate tribes in Valinor and Middle-earth. These distinctions would not have been as apparent to outsiders, but to the Elves themselves.
The legacy of Luthien is the most famous in the universe of Middle-earth. So much so that it is easy to lose track of who the actual person was and what made her tick.
Ever since The Last Jedi, no matter what people have said, the franchise's fandom has become infamous for its internal battles and mud-slinging. Both sides accusing the other of ruining Star Wars. Now suddenly, that has seemed to change.
Diversity is among the most commonly used and most often divisive words in our language in the last twenty years. It has come to mean different things to different people and whether or not it is beneficial to society or detrimental.
Forty years ago, when you wanted to learn how to fight in some obscure style, you had to either copy it from a movie, buy a VHS tape from a martial arts store or magazine, or buy a book to read up on the steps and use it's pictures. That's all changed since 2005.
When I watched Avengers Endgame, there was a scene where several of the female heroes came together to defeat Thanos. While the majority of the final battle was praised, this was the one scene that I heard cringing groans in the audience. Why the difference?
Why is it that people feel the need to look up to others? Whether they are social activists, political leaders, fictional heroes, or even the local firemen, we feel the constant drive to declare for ourselves an enduring figure, even if we keep them at a distance.
Religious law is something that many Americans detest and have developed an automatic distrust for. We often cite elements like their anti-educational stance and barely-concealed threats to any who disobey—especially in other countries. Yet, to me, it's not dissimilar to American cancel culture.
Disney's run with the Star Wars franchise has seen many debates, but chief among them is using the Force. Some fans have called Rey a Mary Sue for being able to use the Force so quickly, while others supported it. But do you really need it?
The moral sensibilities of Western nations are often hyped up as the best of human ideals. Various countries have sought to preach it in every part of the globe. Yet, many times they fail to take root. If our values are superior, why would they fail to catch on?
One difficulty of living in the modern age is how easily triggered many people on all sides become, and how it quickly consumes everything we see. Some of it seems legit, while some feel pretentious. It seems new because of who's leading it, but it actually goes back some seventy years.
Whether you know or not, philosophy plays a big part we watch, what they tell us, and how we react to them. Since the 1990's, we saw these views as postmodern, but that may not be the case.
When one sees wild painting put up on walls, They may think of it as vandalism or a work of art. But all recognize it as grafitti. Beyond the spray painting and the pictures though, there is can often be a motive behind the art.
When it comes to onscreen heroes, there's a nostalgia for the icons of 40 years ago and a desire for new ones that match today's values. Both sides criticize the other, but what were the changes to heroes and when did they happen?
Conflict can oftentimes warp our perceptions of who or what we are fighting. In the realm of American politics, this is something I've witnessed when talking with both Republicans and Liberals about being conservative.
Undertaking a great quest is almost fundamental to any fantasy story. Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones have done more than any other stories to revolutionize it. What both franchises masterfully do, however, is to show the cost of the trope on the characters who undertake them.
In the onscreen portrayal of these two characters, their falls into madness take similar paths and end up with similar ends, but also come from very different places and life experiences.
You know it's bad when you don't see the last movie of a franchise that in the past you would see opening night. Dark Phoenix was like that for me, but as a fan of 'X' since before the movies, where did I drop off the page?
In the second of the cross-character analysis series, I examine two characters that are both of royal lineage and exiled. Many parts of their arc parallel each other and then go awry, making it fascinating to compare their psychologies.
The hidden king trope has been a classic technique in literature and entertainment for centuries. In the last twenty years, The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones have taken this idea and done very different things with it that are both unique and interesting.
Game of Thrones has made history being arguably the most popular TV series since MASH. Over the course of it's run, fans have had their favorites whom they were looking for to rule Westeros. I believe that the best and most important character is one that has been in plain sight all along.
The final season of Game of Thrones offered a unique perspective into two distinct styles of leadership from a pair of characters of the same house: Jon Snow and Sansa Stark. While there are many similarities, there are also their fair share of differences.
The next subject in my project on in-universe psyche profiles, Melian has been something of a mysterious character for me and difficult to understand. A divine spirit who becomes flesh, forsakes bliss, and binds and involves herself in the affairs of Middle-earth during the First Age.
Once considered the outliers of youthful society, nerd and geek culture has come of age at the turn of the century. From comic cons to tent pole franchises, the comics and movies we made fun of now make millions of dollars. However, that recognition has brought a growing extremism with their fans.
Racism is always a hot topic in America, where people either perk up or tune out whenever it's mentioned. Yet its effects are real and many are trying to deal with that. Reparations to descendants of the victims is one option being worked, yet I find myself unsure of this method.
I think High King Thingol is one of the most complex characters in the Silmarillion. This is because much of that complexity is based around circumstance and legacy. How much of it was intentional and how much of it was accidental?
Of all the sons of Feanor, Maedhros was the most interesting to me because he tries to be the most different. In him, I really felt the tragedy of the First Age.
I read an article about a 1954 letter from Albert Einstein where he tells a friend his opinion of religion and faith. He doesn't seem to think very highly of them by that point. Yet I feel that he and others who share this opinion are missing a very crucial point.
Finarfin is one of the lesser known elves of the First Age. He bookends the beginning of the Noldor saga and its end. However I felt there was enough hints and implications that make Finarfin more than just a bookmark in Middle-earth history.
It's been a while since I started my pet project of doing psych profiles on characters from Middle-Earth I found compelling. So I'm glad to get back to it. These profiles are done from an in-universe point of view and not what Tolkien meant to write. It's long but I hope you enjoy it.
Honor is more than what you saw in "The Last Samurai." An opponent who practices a traditional style doesn't necessarily fight traditionally when the stakes are high. Yet many people often assume that. So what is it?
The average Americans' knowledge of the world is usually limited to knowing nothing at all or a mixture of little knowledge and images presented by media clips. This narrow perspective has contributed both to how prosperous we have been and to our social and national problems.
As different as each generation is from each other, some things never change. And one similarity in particular is their ignorance of predecessors' contributions to social change.
A source of great frustration to me has been the tribalism that currently runs rabid in America. The population is literally spit down two sides and both them can be equally self-absorbed to miss whats better for the greater good. I know the numbers, but have always wanted to know why it exists.
Fighting systems are often used for entertainment and extreme combat situations. The number of disciplines is as large as the various societies they come from. There is opportunity here that many tools don't offer.
MMA events are the among the biggest money makers in sports with huge fan bases worldwide. Yet many people were shocked by the recent post fight brawl at UFC 229. To me however it was simply the nature of the beast.
Martial artists stereotypically are seen as either people dressed in uniforms doing forms, or human dogs fighting in caged matches. However I have learned to see it as something else now thanks to two books I've read.
As a kid, one of the things I was told that makes my religion different was that it was about a relationship with God. Yet for a long time, that was something I barely ever saw. And when I did, it did not lead me deeper into that religion.
This isn't a review but a reflection. I do not have many people I would consider inspirations in my life. However Bruce Lee was definitely one of those few. He is considered a martial arts god to this day, but the new biography on him that I read made me redefine how I saw him and heroes overall.
There's a lot of characters I like from Game of Thrones, but one tends to go unnoticed and despised. The High Sparrow seems like he would be a person people would cheer at first but his later actions change that. Here's why he is still one of the best characters the show has ever produced.
The most difficult type of prejudice and racism to tackle isn't the type that is in your face and cursing at you, but the kind that smiles at you but does not trust you because you fit a certain profile. Where does that come from?
While many of Tolkien's stories and inspired media show humans and elves as allies, they also show them as distinct. Of all the stories, direct or inspired the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth goes into the most detail and implications why
Saying 'I love you' is already a hard thing to say to people. Yet for men to say that to each other can be even more difficult because of the tribal, social contexts we live in today.
In 1986, Top Gun soared into the mainstream, leaving a trail of memorable catch phrases and seductive adventure that would mark American culture. It's effect would then go beyond that.
Many in the entertainment industry are championing the cause of diversity. But that is at odds with their audiences that provides them their careers. While there have been recent successes, their have also been recent failures. Is it possible to consistently profitable?
Even though people want to jump onto one side or the other when they see this word, it is more than what they think it's applications and origins are not as clear cut either.
Was Fight Club prophetic regarding the fragility of the social consciousness of American Youth? Or is a pattern that continues to repeat itself?
In the 21st century, killing others on the basis of belief is largely considered immoral and barbaric by most people. Yet one of the biggest problems of the new century has exactly that. Why?
It's that time again and the hype train for Marvel Studio's films is now in full swing. Yet considering how it started out, its amazing how it got to where it is now and how it has franchise film making forever.
For something that is supposed to be comforting and supportive, somehow this phrase has become the very opposite: cold and apathetic. Why and can it go back to being something honest?
When you been with a product long enough you get attached to it. And over time, the reality of what made it what it was gets glossed over. Such is the case with the Expanded Universe. Disney's new direction has left the fandom split, with opponents wanting a return to the fictional world .
Although the idea has already been raised in the old Expanded Universe, the recent Disney interpretations of the franchise have once again broached the question. So let's look at it for fun.
The classic route to becoming a world power is to knock off the reigning power from their seat, which usually meant war. However as war with equal or superior powers has become more risky, rivals may have found another way to getting what they want.
It is common in America to paint brush over an entire community as one group rather than acknowledge the individual differences. Black Panther hints at some of these differences.
We often look at an idea from a single perspective and assume that to be universal. Yet that is not always the case such as with the issue of feminism.
The strongest heart strings to pull on a person is children. Put those children in areas of conflict or if they have been harmed and it can spark outrage.
There are wild expectations going around for the upcoming and highly praised, newest installment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Among the unique qualities of the movie is where it is located.
With all the opportunities and avenues the internet affords us, it has also become one of the most hostile communities in society that has far reaches beyond the digital realm.
Who defines as success in life? Does it ever really come from ourselves? When we fail these expectations, it becomes easy to become depressed and angry at ourselves and others who seem to have it.
Taking your own life is something unfathomable. That someone could find no other way out of their circumstances than to commit suicide is tragic. Other places can have different perspectives.
All major science fiction and fantasy series that have become successful have created legions of devoted fans. Most are gracious but the recent Starwars movie reveals that are not so much.
If there is one thing I appreciate more than good action and a good story, its action and story weaved well together. The Thor franchise has now become one of those films for me.
Life sometimes wears on us, and we all find different ways to regain that spark. For me at times, it was through my relationships with special women.
International Human Rights Day sounds just like another glorified celebration by bleeding hearts and social justice warriors. But it is much more than that on a much larger scale.
Whats the difference between Wonder Woman and Sarah Connor? Well as of late quite a bit. Like all causes, feminism though justified, can be vulnerable to factionalism, each with their own views.
Everyone also holds at least one belief they think others should obey. How strong that holds up depends on whether the speaker also holds themselves to it. To not do so is to compromise that belief.
Racism is often grouped into one meaning. However each different place has a different history with it, with different elements that made it. While equally wrong and related, they are not the same.
Why do we have such a hard time when we find out unpleasant facts about people we admire? Why do some of us go into denial when confronted with physical proof? We all do it in some form.
Given the backdrop of race issues in the real world, I never noticed until recently how much of that is indirectly reflected in J.R.R. Tolkien's books and movie adaptions, so I wanted to explore that.
NFL fans are furious over their favorite players using TV time to make their views known on the current race issue in America. Even the president has gotten involved. Why are people so upset?
They say you never talk about poltics and religion at the dinner table. They may want to throw in popular shows and movies as well.
Next to Morgoth, Feanor is the biggest catalyst for the events of the First Age of Middle-earth. Though he dies early on, his legacy outlasts him as one of the most controversial of Middle-earth.
Everyone is a businessmen these days. They don't have New York offices or business suits, but a living room, the internet, and an idea. This is a a reflection on when I noticed this trend.
This profile is on the first High King of the Noldor elves and derives from the book, The Silmarillion. He has a long-lasting legacy in the history of the lore and his immediate family.
What is it about looking fat that upsets us so much? Why do we feel less manly if we do not have a six-pack? Who really cares as long as we're choosing that right? So yet why is that not the case ?
This Middle-earth profile covers Nienor, daughter of Hurin and Morwen, and sister/wife of her brother Turin. For proper context, read "The Silmarillion" and "The Children of Hurin."
These are some observations I saw during the fight. I personally enjoyed it and here are some notes you should consider.
Say the name Bruce Lee and you get the image of a bare-chested man screaming and going through his opponents like a bull in a china shop. I found though that there was more to him than that.
At what point does a Non-White, male character become more than the sum of their appearance? Not too long ago, many called this insulting. Today is it still? Did a negative evolve into a positive?
This profile covers Lalaith, second child of Hurin and Morwen who died early on before war separated their family. Though seemingly as footnote, the child brief life bears quite a bit of weight in her family.
Name the last three movies you saw with big, epic clashes of arms. Then recall in any of the movies on your list how many had some gripping, motivational speech about an upcoming battle.
This is a character profile from JRR Tolkien's Middle-earth. The topic being Turin.
This is a personal review of the play Dionysus in 17. If you live in or near the Rochester area you can Google it at Bread & Water Theater.
This article covers the wife of Hurin, Morwen, the Lady of Dorthonion from the books, The Silmarillion and The Children of Hurin.
So, I wanted to do psychological profiles of certain Middle-Earth characters from an in-universe perspective. This one is on Hurin.
Do people who talk about high ideas amount to anything? Do their words accomplish anything in this world? Historically, yes and they still do.
Fear is touted as a martial artist's worst enemy. And we are taught to feel shame if we do feel fear. Should it be as stigmatized?
If you talk to most people about judging others, they will either say its wrong or it is should be on a case by case basis. Yet frequently we are seeing this not to be the case. Why are we shocked?
WARNING: the content of this article refers to words that are insulting, though blanked out. Please move forward carefully if you continue on
Can a friend be as important as your sibling? Can you call someone else your parent who did not give birth to you? The answers I am often seeing to questions like these is 'yes'.
*THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS ABOUT WONDER WOMAN* The fictional character of Wonder Woman is loosely based on the Greek gods of old. It also touches on when those beliefs are challenged.
China has always been hesitant towards its acceptance of mixed martial arts and favored their traditional styles. But a recent match has forced the country to confront this insecurity.
Religion is seen by many as either you believe in superstition or you don't. There is often no in-between, but demythologization seeks to do just that. Can it be done, and what is it exactly?
These two legendary franchises have been around for decades. Why is there still an appeal, and are they more similar than different?
Everyone wants justice, but what happens when it is no longer about justice? What does that look like?
Do you know how to lock up someone in an arm bar or rear-naked choke hold? If so, then do you know about the what those moves do to another person? Or what the law says about it if used?
What do we see watching a movie based on another country's entertainment, with little to no sign of its people in it? Is our perception right or is it culturally biased? And does it matter?
Movies about superheroes can be very entertaining but can also be very generic and follow set patterns. However, there are some movies that break the norm.
A random, sarcastic comment sparks a very good question: when did we find big butts sex? When did less become bad and more become good? And is this a good trend or a worsening one?
There is always talk today about how people are tired of seeing superheroes on the big screen and that the fad is ready to go. However, 'Batman' always seems to defy that idea and it started in 1989.
If you were born during a time of relative peace, then the idea of accepting people different from you may seem natural. However that idea has not always been there and is possible to lose again.
Where is the line between good satire and inappropriate, offensive humor? And why do we have such a hard time find it?
Donald Trump's war with the media has only been escalating with his first few days. But do they and those whose oppose him in Hollywood really have that much power?
Most people love a woman who is great fighter. The success of women's' MMA being an example. It's becoming just as big in movies, but doe the ethics surrounding it damage their credibility?
The Riot at Berkley University has caused a debate over the limits of free speech and how far should people protecting civil rights go. And in the process it has brought up shadows of the past
Donald Trump has been associated with the Far right because of their loud support for him and his refusal to dissociate himself. Some have taken this match up to mean that he is a Nazis.
Trump's ban on Immigrants from specific countries has ignited host reactions from Americans. They range from outrage and protest, to supporting and believing that a campaign promise has been kept.
Martin Luther King day usually brings out the usual quotes of freedom and equality from the famous civil rights leader. But given the violence of 2016, it begs the question, are we free at last?
Martial arts is often seen as a competitive sport, entertainment event, or spiritual exercise. Some practitioners feel this has taken away from its legitimacy as combat art.
Has there ever been a time where you asked something of the universe? Or yelled at God for not saving Someone? And have you ever gotten a verbal response? Hypothetically, what if you did?
During the elections, it was said that all canidates escept Berny Sanders had no love or trust in the Millenial population. Older generations, even the rebellious Generation X, distrust them. Why?
We are familiar with the problems women face with meeting a body-type, or being seen as too emotional and unable to do certain jobs. However do men face a similar dilemma?
The international star breaking into American cinema has been done before. But can it last this time around in a more globalized and sensitive world?
He has been a pop culture icon for over 40 years, but now the star of Darth Vader rises again with the release of Rogue One as the proper villain he always was meant to be. So why do we like him?
One of the appeals of the Starwars franchise is its simple worldview. Rogue One presents a different picture. What are the ethics in real rebellions? MILD SPOILERS AHEAD.
If you saw a movie with its hero jumping from building to building and lifting huge weights, would you think it was a Western comic book movie, or a Chinese martial arts films?
We all have had that one friend or associate who just seems to want to be miserable. Like he or she rejects anything that is happy. They're not all the same though and there can be a reason.
I love Asian action films, as a veiwer and as a martial artist. But I cannot help but notice some repeated themes in many of their films and wonder if there is more to it.
Just how important is character really to a leader?
The topic of depression has come up several times in the last few years and yet we are still hesitant to deal with it unless tragedy strikes. So why can't depressed people just get over it?
Which would you choose: the right thing to do that may potentially cost you everything, or to survive with a stain on your soul that would never leave for the rest of your life?
The election of Trump has many people scared. They fear for their rights and even their lives and while some are skeptical of those fears, there is a reason for them.
My experience with White women's' fantasizing about me as a Black man is usually falls into two categories.
What does the election of Donald Trump say about our values and how we use them?
This year's election is either looked on as a joke or an insult because of our options. But regardless, because of Donald Trump, there is going to be a fallout from this.
One of the defining characteristics of the 2010's is the explosion of new sexual identities that have appeared. For many, it seems crazy, causing perceptions and concerns that may not be truth.
How a dream inspires reflection and insight into relationships.
There's nothing wrong with more diversity right?
Cinema is coming under the increasing barrage of accusations that it is not as inventive and substantial as it use to be. Is that the case?
MMA's popularity has caused many to believe it is something new and unique to the martial arts world. Is it?
American Society has been characterized today competing forces fighting to secure its piece of the American dream, be it for good or greed. Has this benefited the democratic experiment?
Martial Arts are known for bravado these days. And its not everyday someone who uses it truly questions the truth of its effectiveness in an age where your style is going to be tested.
We've all heard of white-washing in movie casting, whether we cared about it or not. But is this a one-sided phenomenon where one party bears all the responsibility?
Once upon a time, it was said that it was okay to disagree on religion. Yet increasingly, this disagreement is becoming disrespect. Stereotypes blend with truths is creating a arena of judgment.
All parents have some hope for ehat their child will turn out to be when they look on their faces. In today's society, what those dreams are may not match up with who their kids turn out to be
Donald Trump's campaign cry sounds like a cheap advertisement is the butt of every joke by a politica satirist. Yet, millions of people have been rallying to this 'joke' and may get Trump the office
The call to be tolerant is the rallying cry of our society. It is for a good cause to and to benefit others. So why do so many people have issues with it?
Martial arts is seen by the general public largely as recreational violence. It is sports, but one whose goal is to dominate your opponent. This view has fueled an internal rivalry.
Has the meaning of the America's favorite holiday changed? With so many groups claiming and fighting injustices, it warrants asking ourselves what it means today: good, bad, or indifferent
Being a Black teen growing up twenty years ago, there was always the pressure to join a side because of my race. Now I find myself feeling something similar. Is my allegiance out of place?
The high emotion and tragedy entangled with the problem with police and Black people are intense and myriad. This perspective is based on my own personal experience dealing with that complexity
From the pews and mosques, into politics and legality, and exploding in violence from Syria to Orlando, old and new values are clashing with each other. Do they still serve a purpose anymore?
Many shows connect with their fans to create passionate base. Game of Thrones however stands out because it has made waves in how our society views morality and pushes our own sense of righteousnes
Are you proud of who you are? Where you are from? How do you feel when someone who doesn't share that moves into your circle? That is the question challenging globalization and multiculturalism
A driving conflict in current world and national affairs is the issue of Muslim migrants and their ability to adapt to their host countries, or if they should. Where is the line?
The world is more hostile to different ideas than it has ever been. Each side believing in its own revolution tries to shut out the other, with neither gaining a advantage. We need alternatives.
A fictional character like no other, Captain America isn't just a hero who in the modern world should not be a hero. He is an unintentional mirror of what America sees itself as.
How is it that a man first regarded as a highly offensive joke, now possibly become the next president of the United States? And should we have seen it coming?
The illegal hacking and posting of nude female artists has inflamed the internet, with most agreeing that that it was wrong. But if everyone knows it's illegal, then why do it?
There are many movies from the 1980's that give us warm feelings of nostalgia. Yet as our social moral compass changes, so does our hindsight of those classic movies.