Star Wars: Kelly Marie Tran and the Ladies of the Galaxy

 Some may wonder why we are so loud about the shameful treatment of Kelly Marie Tran (Rose in The Last Jedi), after all, Star Wars is just a fictional world and Rose was not the most popular character, the movie itself was highly controversial. Many people expressed negative views on the movie that had absolutely nothing to do with sexism, racism, or anything else inappropriate. I have no problem with these people. Negative opinions are not evil, the evil can come in with how they are expressed.

But it was revealed that Kelly Marie Tran was targeted by one specific hate group of men who have also targeted Daisy Ridley, and have announced that their next target is Kathleen Kennedy. They were delighted that they caused Tran to leave Instagram. These men are disgusting, lustful humans with evil hearts. The kind of men who like a woman to be scantily clad and submissive to whatever their sick minds can conjure.

Star Wars has created female characters that make my heart as a woman soar. The women of Star Wars are warriors, politicians, mothers, wives, pilots, inventors, mechanics, artist, and so much more. They do not always fight with physical weapons, often they fight with their words, their compassion, their influence, their hope. They mobilize those around them and make things happen because they are energy constantly in motion. They are beautiful, strong, intelligent, hopeful characters who bring so much color to the story of Star Wars.

I am a woman. I know what is in my heart. The strength that God put there, the beauty. I know I have the heart of a warrior, I feel the tenderness of God in my heart. I want to change lives, to bring hope, to bring life.

So when someone so viciously attacks a woman who played a character that actually represents these things I KNOW to be true about women, it hurts and angers me deeply. Not just on her behalf, but on behalf of thousands of years of women who have not been treated with respect, love, and given value. It hurts me on behalf of my little sisters, my mother, my friends, my future daughters.

Kelly Marie Tran, you are precious and beautiful, my dear. Created in the image of God and He delights in you. I pray that you may find Him and know the truth of who you are.

And, Gentleman, please don’t dismiss these posts as nonsense. I love men, I delight that they are in our world. Heck, fellas, we women GIVE BIRTH to men all the time after we have MARRIED men. Women have fought for their men since the beginning of time. But there are deep wounds felt by millions of women. There are ways they have been hurt, physically and emotionally. Misused, misunderstood, undervalued, squashed, and damaged by the men in their life.

That is not God’s heart. That warrior spirit you men have? He gave you that spirit to protect and help those around you thrive. If you love the women in your life enough to value ALL of who they are, to cheer them on, celebrate them, enjoy them, and share your life with them, you will have a life overflowing with happiness and love from women who feel treasured. The love and joy of a woman who is treated like a treasure will knock you off your feet.

I celebrate Star Wars because I feel like in many ways Star Wars celebrates who I am, and no one, no matter how acidic or evil, can take that away from me.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story

I saw this movie opening day, an entire week ago, and I have been sitting here since,  terrified to write this article. Why? I just felt so, so many things. Good things. But I felt overwhelmed with the task of trying to put all of those things into coherent words and sentences.

Until I found the key to my thoughts. And amazingly, that key also happens to be the key to all of Star Wars and why it is so beloved.

Hope.

It’s as simple as a gentle, four letter word. H-O-P-E.

star wars hope

Hope is the summation of the entire Star Wars saga and every single story contained within the galaxy. Solo is about the heart of Star Wars…it’s about hope.

There is a lot of pain to be felt in Star Wars stories. The agony of loved ones lost, betrayal, wanton destruction, questions of value and purpose, merciless and cruel evil sweeping upon the innocent like a shadow of death.

The ache of Anakin holding his dying mother in the desert. 

anakins mother

The death of clone after clone after clone as they march into an unwinnable war, all while wondering if they are more than just forms created for endless violence.

The pain of Ahsoka leaving.

ahsoka leaves

The death of the Jedi by one of their own. Obi-Wan’s tearful scream, “You were my brother, Anakin! I loved you!”

you were my brother anakin

Padme’s death. 

Ezra Bridger losing his parents. Caleb Dumes’ sacrifice.

Ezra and Kanan

Our entire Rogue One team, gone. Alderaan. Countless Rebel pilots and soldiers. Ben Solo’s fall to the Darkness and subsequent death of many Resistance leaders and beloved friends. And so many destroyed lives in the middle.

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And yet…we stand in hope.

After every breath of darkness and pain, no matter how deep, we are always left with even a glimmer of light.

poe dameron hope

Perhaps it’s babies hidden away in the desert or the palaces of Alderaan.

It’s clones who took their stand and made their choice to live free and walk their own paths.

It’s long-lost warriors rising again from the dust of the Clone Wars. It’s Jedi returning, it’s warriors, pilots, soldiers, street rats, senators, princesses, moisture farmers, scavengers, Storm Troopers, and orphans standing up and fighting back. 

jyn's rallying hope

It’s a ragged kid from Correllia lifting his eyes above the squalor of his life and daring to dream of the stars.

Han Solo. 

corellia street boy

We know him in later years. He’s a scoundrel. He’s sarcastic, crusty even. A scruffy-looking nerf herder with enough bravado to destroy a planet and a heart big enough to envelop the galaxy.

How do you become Han Solo, the legendary smuggler who made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs? (12 if you round down). How do you go from appearing like a selfish jerk to winning the heart of a Rebel princess, befriending a Jedi, and leading in a rebellion that destroys the Empire?

Han Solo

Solo: A Star Wars Story is the tale that tells us the how, and the why of our favorite smuggler.

What the makers of Solo did is they gave us a horrible set of circumstances. Then they gave us a cast of characters each faced with the same awful world. The truth of the story came out as we saw how each character faced that world and what came of their chosen paths.

Some chose to nurture and create more evil beneath the Empire’s shadow. Some characters would have appreciated change, but when it came down to the wire, they made choices out of self-preservation and fear. Other characters gave into hopelessness and despair that anything could ever change. Some characters drowned the pain of their world in alcohol, games, and fancy capes.

And then we have Han, a rebel.

sad han

Just a street boy working for thug overlords?

“The next person who hits me is going to get hit back.”

Stuck on the ground in the squalor?

“I’m gonna be a pilot.”

Foot soldier in the mud now?

“I got kicked out of the Imperial Academy for having a mind of my own.”

Thrown in a mud pit with a Wookiee? No problem, just befriend the Wookiee and get freedom for them both. Faced with a dangerous job stealing coaxium with a crew who doesn’t really want him, when do we start? Lost the coaxium and facing sure death from a crime lord?

“What about unrefined?”

Mauraders, homicidal crime lords, card games, giant space monsters, gravity wells, explosive materials, insurmountable odds…

never tell me the ods

 

Because he will always, always defy them!

Solo tells us a truth that we have suspected for a while now.

smiling han

Han has always been a Rebel.

Han may have grown up in poverty and violence, but he was rich. Rich in heart, and in hope during a time when hope was an even more precious commodity than coaxium. Han dreamed of the stars. He was ambitious, but not cruel. He spends the majority of this movie working to take care of someone he loves. He’s incredibly driven, driven by the unbending belief that there is more for his future, that he is NOT trapped by his circumstances, that he can fight for something better.

And he is willing to put his life on the line to ensure that others around him get that same chance. If only they had all followed his lead, they would have met with the same truth we were led to.

kssel run

Han, our hero, survives. Not only does he survive, he has a hope and a future. Oh, if he only knew just how amazing that future is going to be. Yes, it’s going to be filled with many heartaches, many setbacks, and losses. His life is full of tragedy. But it’s also full of love. Full of people he loves. Full of moments where he said no to evil and yes to making a difference, and what a difference he made. We see the beginning of that in Solo, we see where the hero’s roots are planted.

And he did it without selling his soul. Without giving into despair. Without trampling innocent lives under his feet. That’s what he proves in Solo. That is the truth of this movie, this character, this thing we are all crazy about called Star Wars. It’s hope.

solo flybooys

Han clearly grew more jaded in the ten years of life lived between Solo and A New Hope. I imagine kicking around the galaxy with the worst of its citizens with his bro Chewbacca probably caused his golden heart to crust over a bit, his perspective to skew, and the miles began to wear on his soul.

That is until he meets a crazy kid who actually believes he can make a difference. Until he meets a beautiful princess who is glowing with hope and purpose. Until he meets people willing to lay down their lives because they believed that there could be more for their future, that it could be better.

Original trio

Sound familiar?

He thinks he’s big. He’s bad. He’s a scoundrel. A legendary smuggler. He always shoots first. He’s rubbed shoulders, sweet-talked, and fought with the worst scum of the galaxy. He’s an outlaw, a terrible person.

goober han

But one who knew him from childhood, Qi’ra. She knew better. Beckett, a hardened mercenary who chose to view life with harsh cynicism knew better. Chewbacca, who has seen the cruellest of people, knew better. Enfys Nest knew better. Lando Calrissian, the double-crossing fabulous smuggler, knew better.

They all knew better because they looked at this cocky kid who walks with a swagger and a smile, and they saw hope. And they knew in their hearts.

“You’re the good guy.”

And we, the world that loves Han Solo as if he is our own blood-relation reply,

“We know.”

chewie and han

Disney Live Action: Treasure Planet

Clearly, Disney has had wild success with their live action films. I learned much in MaleficentI cried in Cinderella. I was beautifully transported back to my childhood with The Jungle Book (I watch it over and over and over again). And I had all of my practical questions answered in Beauty and the Beast in the most golden, beautiful way.

What we are finding with these magical live action movies is not that Disney is incapable of producing a new story, but rather;

Disney is using their live-action remakes to deepen and flesh out the stories and characters we are already in love with.

Why is Maleficent so angry? Surely there has to be more going on here than not getting invited to the baby shower? Is there more to a true love’s kiss than meets the eye?

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Why is Cinderella so hopeful? There has to be an answer for it, a moment, a person who motivated her to have that perspective on life despite her circumstances. Is Prince Charming just a pretty face, or is there more to him? Why does the evil stepmother hate Ella?

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Why does Shere Khan hate Mowgli? What is the mindset of a man-cub who has been raised by animals in the jungle his whole life? Does he HAVE to leave the jungle, after all, this is his home and his family?

jungle book

Why is it that Belle finds understanding for the Beast when at first glance they have so little in common? What is it like being raised by a charming but eccentric inventor in a village that looks down on him? Why is Gaston so full of himself? Just how does it feel to be a servant of the prince who has been cursed all this time for a crime you did not commit?

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Disney took these stories from our childhoods and made them 3D. Turns out, there is more behind Maleficent than getting dropped from the baby shower list. Cinderella has an incredibly strong motivation to be who she is. Prince Charming is a real human with a heart, mind, and dreams. Mowgli struggles with trying to find his place in the jungle as he is still a human. Belle doesn’t have a picture-perfect life, she has been ridiculed, mocked, and feels like an oddity. The servants at the Enchanted Castle are heartbroken as they remember days in the sun when music, love, and life thrived, oh how they long for those days to return!

This formula is working. I cannot wait for DumboThe Lion KingAladdin, Mulanand so many more movies to come! I cannot wait!

Along the lines of live-action movies, I have an animated movie suggestion to send Disney’s way for a live-action remake. If you agree with me, let’s try to get Disney’s attention.

That movie? Treasure Planet.

treasure planet gorgeous

No, Treasure Planet is not as well-known as some of the other Disney classics, but in my opinion, it’s an often overlooked gem of a story and a treasure in the storehouse that Disney would do well to bring out into the light.

treasure planet fireTreasure Planet is a “treasure island” story, told in a science fiction/steampunk/space fantasy world. It features a deeply engaging story about Jim Hawkins, a fatherless boy in search of adventure and meaning. He falls in with charming rogue John Silver, a pirate with a bigger heart than he cares to admit.

 

treasure planet

This story deals with fatherlessness (something a huge majority of our world is facing), responsibility, betrayal, bravery, maturity, honesty, mentorship, fatherhood, and choosing to become someone better on behalf of someone you love. It has deep, rich themes, made even richer by the colorful and exotic world that it’s placed in. Just LOOK at this world!

treasure planet world

treasure planet world 2

treasure planet ship

Can’t you just imagine how beautiful this movie would be live-action? In the hybrid-filmmaking that combines beautifully crafted, physical sets with rich, intricate CGI? Can’t you just see the solid wood of the airship, the rough ropes, the creak of the many metallic costume pieces and props, mixed with a glorious CGI sky full of clouds, stars, and planets? Then we add in colorful characters from all across the galaxy, ship captains, inn-keepers, scientists, treasure hunters, and pirates! And ground it all with our deeply engaging and heart-rending character, Jim Hawkins.

jim hawkins in the night

This idea is even more plausible to me now that we have discovered Tom Holland. Can you think of anyone more perfectly suited to play the raw, untrained-yet-eager-innocent and sympathetic Hawkins? Nope, it’s like Tom was born for the role.

tom holland

Beyond the role of Jim Hawkins being given to Tom Holland, I’m open to any other casting. But. This. Is. Perfection.

jim hawkins

This movie live-action would draw new fans from an audience who hadn’t even seen the 2002 animated movie. It would be that beautiful.

Do you agree with me? If so, share all over and let’s make some noise and let Disney know what the people want. They have a treasure in Treasure Planet, and I for one want to explore this rich story/world deeper.

#liveactiontreasureplanet 

 

Star Wars: Every Story in the Galaxy

Back in the 1970s a creative guy named George Lucas made a little movie called Star Wars.

No one expected it to be a big thing. Sir Alec Guinness (who played the original Obi-Wan Kenobi) acted in the film because he’d always wanted to be a “children’s movie”. 

At best, they thought they might make a sci-fi cult classic that would gather a small but fierce following who met in basements and had mini-conventions. That was all they expected.

This is what happened instead…

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The world exploded, and we have never been the same since.

Why is Star Wars so popular? I had a friend of mine ask me a question along these lines recently. She’s an adult with grown children, and not super into many movies. But she loves Star Wars. “What is different about Star Wars?” she asked.

I could list hundreds of reasons why Star Wars is all that and a bag of credits, but we don’t have time for all of that today. Instead, I’m going to list the biggest reason I think Star Wars has resonated so deeply with millions of people internationally for generations.

Star Wars tells us every classic, cliche story we’ve ever heard, but they do it in an unforgettable way.

Star Wars is one of the most cliche-ridden sagas ever. We started our journey with a young hero possessing a unique “ability”, the old sage mentor, a rogue with a big heart, a princess, and a cute animal (or droid) sidekicks.

Original trio

They joined forces with the underdog (the Rebellion) and go up against Goliath (Darth Vader and the Empire). The hero uses his unique abilities at just the right moment to destroy the story’s greatest threat against all odds.

It’s not the first time this story has been told. Star Wars borrows from many classic stories, established religions, and other known influences. And yet, the world exploded.

See, we “complain” about cliches, stereotypes, and classics. But there is a reason those things became so well known. It’s because they are real, and we experience them on a regular basis.

Star Wars tells us all of the old stories. An underdog story.

A New Hope 3

A redemption story.

Luke and His father

People bravely fighting against all odds for a better future.

rogue one cre

Questions about free will.

the clones

Darkness vs the light. Free will vs destiny.

ben and rey

The danger of allowing your emotions to be manipulated.

anakin becomes vader

Mentorship. Family. Friendship. Growing up with grace in times of hardship.

our rebels

Choosing to not give into victimhood, but instead to stand on your own feet.

rey

Making the hard choices. Becoming a part of something bigger than yourself.

Han Solo

Stormtrooper Finn

Learning what true leadership is.

poe in trouble

And on, and on, and on.

And these classic stories are told in the most exciting and colorful way. With spaceships, planets, aliens, blasters, lightsabers, dark and light, good and bad. They are told with heart, with humor, with a connected history, a force that binds all of these stories together. With characters that feel like old friends.

Star Wars tells our stories.

I love our galaxy. I love the characters, the history, the messages, the hope. The fact that by now generations of families have all gotten to enjoy the same world and story as it is continually told. I love it all.

Happy May the 4th, may the force be with you!

Real Women: Jyn Erso (Rogue One)

6 Ways that StarWars: Rebels Differs From StarWars: The Clone Wars

 

Lost In Space: Storytelling Done Right

Is anyone else kind of obsessed with Netflix’ remake of the old 1960’s sci-fi show Lost in Space? *warning, slight spoilers ahead*

I didn’t know much about the show until I saw a preview at the movie theater. It looked shockingly interesting. As soon as I saw the first episode I was hooked. Lost in Space is one of the best TV shows I have come across in a long time, and I’ll tell you why.

Lost in Space is visually gorgeous, both the sets and the CGI are amazing. It nails the science/fiction part every single time. It has intrigue. A shadowy timeline. A colorful world. There is so much material for new plot threads that I am confident this show has a long and prosperous future ahead of it.

But none of the reasons I listed above are the core of why Lost in Space is such a phenomenal show. There’s another, more encompassing reason.

Lost in Space is storytelling done RIGHT!

The opening sequence of the pilot episode drops us into action almost immediately. We see the Robinson family seated around their “table” playing a game of Go-Fish. Sounds normal, right?

lost in space

Actually, no. The normalcy of a casual family game night is starkly contrasted by the fact that the family is wearing space suits and strapped to their seats in a ship that appears to be plummeting out of orbit onto some unknown planet’s surface.

How did they get there? Why is their ship crashing? Are they the only people in this corner of the galaxy? Is this just normal and terrifying landing procedure?

These immediate questions are grounded with a few layers of underlying tension that we are immediately shown between the characters. John Robinson is at odds with his children, especially his strong eldest daughter Judy. His wife Maureen is calm and collected, but there is a coolness in her manner towards him. Clearly, there is something going on in this family, but what is it?

We don’t have time for answers, because our ship is crashing, straight into an iceberg and cold, icy waters! The family makes it out into an ice cave, but their equipment is still inside their submerged ship and they are going to need extra help to survive the cold night.

lost in space ice cave

More family tension. The youngest Will (I adore this child) is the only one small enough to fit into the jammed hatch at the top of the ship. But he’s afraid, never fear! Brave big sister Judy is here! Judy plunges into the waters against her father John’s commands (again, what happened to this family) and attempts to retrieve equipment herself. Problem is, she is unable to get out of the icy water before it freezes over, trapping her in the thick ice just inches from the surface.

*cue panic attack* Claustrophobes know what I mean right here.

Maureen has a severely damaged leg, but her brilliant mind is still trying to work on behalf of her family. Still, her usefulness is compromised. Judy is trapped in the ice with several hours of air left in her suit, no amount of spunk or gumption is going to get her out of this mess. John is trying to keep himself to together while he attempts to free Judy, but he feels like he’s failing yet again. Will feels guilty that his beloved older sister is trapped because of his “weakness”, something you get the inkling he believes about himself a lot. Penny exhibits much of the lost behavior that is often attributed to middle children, she’s falling through the cracks yet again and doesn’t know how to contribute.

robinson family

This is a brilliant setup. Want to know why?

The best stories in any genre are always character driven. 

In just a few short moments, we already know important details about the Robinson family, the people who are the heart and soul of this show. We are given hints of their strengths, but we are more clearly shown their weaknesses in this beginning. We see how these weaknesses are not only affecting them as individuals but especially as a unit. We are put right there in their shoes, we feel their panic, their anger, their confusion. We feel the weight of every problem facing them right now, and at the same time, we have so many questions.

lost in space 10

 

This is how you tell a story without using the infamous “info dump” that so many storytellers make the mistake of using. An audience doesn’t need every detail to fall in love with a character and their story, they just need the right details and they are hooked. We were shown the heart of Lost in Space immediately as we are introduced to the Robinsons’ humanity and immediately given a chance to root for their success.

lost in space 7

 

I am pleased to say Lost in Space follows this pattern for the entire series. We are never given an information dump, we have to fight for the reveal of every piece of info we ever get, but we still don’t feel cheated in the waiting for those reveals.

Lost in Space strikes the perfect balance between the past and the present. We spend most of our time in the present, our immediate problems. Unknown robots. Fuel-eating eels. Mysterious characters who hide their true colors. Strange beasts. And above all, a need to get back on track.

lost in space 6

Much like real life, the Robinsons and all other characters have to stay in the moment, even as pieces of the past are revealed, and old wounds are dealt with.

lost in space 8

 

We already know that we are rooting for these Robinsons. We can’t help it. Not only are they our heroes, but we understand them on a human level. John aches over the time he missed with his family but really feels at a loss for how to repair that damage. Maureen is a red-headed Wonder Woman, is there anything she cannot do? But she’s lacking, there is something missing. Judy doesn’t know how to let herself fall apart, but she also knows she’s not fine. Penny is taking it one day at a time, but she still feels lost. Will wonders if he will ever be more than a failure and a weakling.

Other characters throw in unique problems and questions. Dr. Smith still blows my mind, I never know what to expect next. I have never seen a character quite like her, and she scares me more than 85% of the villains on screen.

 

 

 

lis dr smith

Don West’s I-couldn’t-care-less facade is quickly derailed by his adorable acts of compassion. He grows more endearing by the episode, and I am a huge fan of his precious chicken Debbie.

LIS Episode 102

Among all of these questions, theories, hidden histories, and secrets, one thing is starkly clear to us. This family needs to fix the fault lines within their circle. They need each other to survive. We can see who they are, how much they love each other, and how powerful they are as a unit, therefore we root for unity to be restored.

robinson children

Season 1 ended perfectly. We saw the Robinsons overcome, and reunite, and we saw the power of that newfound strength and unity.

lost in space 5

Maureen is smart and powerful, but she is even better when she has other strong people like her husband John at her side. John has failed to be there for his family in the past, but he’s here now and he’s never leaving again. Judy learns that it is not a weakness to be human, to not be okay sometimes, and her experiences simply feed into her already fierce compassion. Penny is not falling through the cracks, she’s a glue that holds her family together. She has a place and a purpose. And Will, sweet, kind Will learns what we have seen since the very beginning, Will is incredibly brave.

As this family repairs itself, they make a difference not just for themselves, but for those around them. Every other character is delivered because the Robinsons are together again. We started this story seeing the Robinsons’ greatest weaknesses and broken places, and we end Season 1 seeing them thriving with their combined strengths.

Robinsons stick together.

Season 1 was tough for this family. They barely hung on, but in the end, they stuck together and it changed the story for everyone. Considering that cliffhanger we were left on, this united front is going to be vital for the family’s survival going into Season 2. They are up against some terrifying unknowns, but so long as they stick together, they are going to be okay.

The writers of Lost in Space made sure that no matter where this story takes us, we would have one solid thread, the Robinson family. They are our core, our heartbeat, our purpose. We are rooting for them all the way, and no matter what colorful, frightening, or bizarre events they face in future seasons, we know we can always count on one thing….

….Robinsons stick together.

lost in space family

 

That’s storytelling done right, my friends. Now, who else is ready for a Season 2?

Lost in Space Season 1 is Currently Streaming on NetflixIf you want a cleaner version for your family, Lost in Space is also available for filtered streaming on Vid-Angel

 

 

 

The Flash: Dear Ralph Dibney

I didn’t like you.

For 4 seasons of The Flash I have wondered why it seemed like the criminal underworld got the mega-share of metahuman gifts, seriously, didn’t any nice, normal people get hit with the dark matter and decide to help out like Barry Allen? Sure, we had a few nice ones get hit. But they appear and are usually dead in the same episode, so, they didn’t count.

And then we got Ralph Dibney. Gross, self-piteous, self-focused, dirty-minded Ralph Dibney. Really? THIS is the one we get to keep? Why in the heck couldn’t Julian have stuck around for another season?!? You actually made Joe puke, and I agreed with his assessment.

gross ralph

Ralph, sir, you made yourself so hard to like. You were a mess. I hated it when you made off-color comments about women. I hated it when you ate gross food. I hated your extraneous banter. I hated the establishments you loved to frequent. I hated your self-absorbed attitude about how your life had turned out. I was delighted when we had an episode where you were mysterious “out of town” or otherwise occupied. I hated it all, and I still do.

I. Did. Not. Like. You.

Dear Ralph Dibney, I’m going to miss you.

elongated man

I know, I never, EVER expected those words to come out of my mouth. You had managed to take me beyond indifference for an unlikable “good guy” character and make me actually wish you were gone! But now that you are, all I want is for you to come back.

‘Cause here’s the truth, Ralphie-boy, even when I still didn’t like you, you started to make me proud of you.

I was proud of you when you saved someone even if it meant letting the bad guy “get away”.

I was proud of you when you decorated for Christmas, even if your taste in decorations is atrocious.

I was proud of you when you encouraged Joe to stay true to his moral standards and not plant false evidence at the DeVoe’s house to save Barry.

I was even prouder of you when you choose to step up and protect Caitlin and Cisco from the Prankster’s acid, even if it meant you died a horribly painful death.

I ached for you and was proud of you when tried to help Izzy, when you didn’t turn away from her pain but rather embraced it. I saw the heroic, protective, kind heart you had hidden under the slime, and I was proud.

But Ralph, when you sat and told Barry what you were afraid of, that you didn’t fear losing your own life, you feared losing the people you loved. When you looked him in the eye and said with passion,

I would walk into a furnace for them….they’re mine! DeVoe can’t have them!

ralph's family

Ralph, at that moment, I wasn’t just proud, I didn’t just ache, Ralph, at that moment I LOVED you. You did it, you won me over. I loved you so much I couldn’t even believe I was there, but I was.

And now you are gone. Just when I loved you, you are gone. You died looking at Barry and thanked him for the gift he had given you, and my heart broke.

How did you do it, Ralph? I’ll tell you how.

We are all broken people. So many of us are unlikable, smarmy, gross, self-absorbed, jerks. Without help, many of us stay there. But someone saw you, Ralph, for who you could be, and your story took a different turn.

Love empowers. But I’m not talking about just any old brand of “love” that gets sold as lust and chocolate. No, I’m talking about real love. Real love sees someone, no matter where they are at, and sees who they can be, and that kind of love never lets go. That kind of love can happen to anyone, it’s not confined to romantic relationships. That kind of love crosses colors, nations, boundaries, personalities, and any other obstacles that get put up. That kind of love changes people.

sweet ralph

It changed you, Ralph. You couldn’t even believe it, not for the longest time. Someone actually cared about you? About slimy, worthless, failure-ridden-old you? They cared more about you than you cared about yourself. When you fell down, they picked you up. When you made a mistake, they forgave you. When you hurt, they hurt with you. When you didn’t feel like a hero, they told you that you were one and gave you the strength to become that person.

It changed me too, Ralph. I believe in the power of Love to change, this kind of love anyways. Love came down and saved me at the Cross regardless of how unworthy or unlikable I was.

But it was nice to be reminded, I needed to be reminded.

You died a hero, Ralph; you died a changed person. You died knowing you were loved, and you died giving your life for the people you loved. Someone offered you something that no, you didn’t “deserve”. But that’s not how true love works, love keeps giving even when we don’t deserve it. And choosing to accept that love changes us.

It changed you, Ralph. And it touched me.

Dear Ralph Dibney, I wish I had seen you sooner. I wish we had more time. I don’t know if you will be brought back or not, that episode seemed pretty final. But I had to thank you, I had to thank you for reminding me of something so precious.

You reminded me to look beyond the book cover. To see beyond the unlikable. And to love first.

Goodbye, Ralph. You made a difference and watching how your story progressed encouraged me to keep making a difference as well.

Dear Ralph Dibney, you will be missed.

hero ralph

Coco: Returning the Dream

I know, I missed the hype for Pixar’s latest masterpiece, Coco. I didn’t see it until this past week.

I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t my favorite Pixar movie, but I was still deeply impressed by the creativity, the colorful animation, the music, and above all, the story.

Pixar has the reputation of making story after story that touches us in the deepest parts of our hearts. The biggest, baddest, toughest humans among us can walk out of a Pixar movie crying because they just got healed from some childhood trauma or something.

The key to Pixar’s success is that they don’t overcomplicate their stories. They pick simple, profound truths about life, love, and people, and then proceed to remind us of those truths with unforgettable stories and characters.

I loved how the creators of Coco took an already established piece of Mexican culture and used it to create a fantasy world where Miguel travelled to meet his ancestors. They created a more physical, visual picture of the written/spoken truths we all learn over time and from the knowledge people leave behind for future generations. Rather than learning these things in letters, history books, Miguel learned them face to face. What a creative way to communicate the message!

The message. Pixar has pretty consistent messages. Live in the moment. Life with the people you love is an adventure. Keep swimming. But family always comes first with Pixar, always.

Miguel was born into a family where music had supposedly torn the family apart. His great-great-grandfather had left his family behind to pursue the dream of music. The fear his family had was that music would take another loved from them. Miguel feared that his family would steal his dream. The false belief everyone had was that it had to be one or the other.

angry abuela

 

In the Land of the Dead, Miguel met his hero, Ernesto de la Cruz, a musician who had followed his dream to the letter. What Miguel discovered upon closer view, however, is just how empty Cruz’ dream was. The man had become so obsessed with his all-important dream that he had literally murdered for it.

de la cruz

The victim? Miguel’s great-great-grandfather, Hector. Hector knew his family was the real dream and was willing to walk away from the glamour of Cruz’ world in order to return to the true music of his heart. But he was cut short, kept from his loved ones, and has spent lifetimes trying to return to his family, to his little girl, Coco.

hector

Here’s the thing about dreams. They are beautiful things, they can cast vision, hope, spread joy and new things to the world. Dreams make horrible masters, however. Those that follow the dream blindly, forgetting all else, reach an empty reward. What is the point of living your dream if you have to do it alone? If you’ve burned bridges, lost loved ones, and destroyed relationships?

What I loved about Coco is Pixar reminded us yet again of a simple truth.

The people we love do not have to be an obstacle to the dream, instead, they are the dream. When we love our people first, the rest falls into place and becomes something even greater.

Hector had a song, a beautiful song. Remember Me. It was the song he used to sing to his sweet little girl, Coco. He had loved to make music with his family. Once he left their lives, the music left as well.

At the end of the movie, Miguel races back to his great-grandmother Coco, racing against time as Hector is fading away in the Land of the Dead, as he has been forgotten by all his family that still lives, except perhaps for Coco. Miguel must help his great-grandmother remember her Papa before it’s too late.

*pulls out tissues*

And with the music, Coco remembered her Papa. Hector was restored, a family was healed, and Miguel began to make music again. But this time Miguel had a greater purpose for his music, a greater understanding of what it meant and what it could accomplish. His dream of music had enabled him to restore his family and change their past, and their future legacy. He wasn’t able to reach this greater level of the dream until he embraced his family and accepted their importance in his life. And once he did, the dream became reality and it became better!

I don’t know what your dreams are. Sometimes our dreams may take us farther away geographically, for a time. But they should never take us away in our hearts from the people we love. The people we love make the dream more beautiful because they are the dream. Regardless of what you do in your life, the people you love make it worthwhile. You can be cleaning toilets in a gas station, or singing on American Idol, it doesn’t matter, life is about the people we love.

Thank you, Pixar, for once again bringing us home. Home in our hearts, home in our priorities, home to the truth.

home and family