I recently got an Instagram. I think it’s a fun way to promote ideas, people, and stuff I care about like libraries and comic books. But since joining I’ve noticed something interesting. Namely, it reveals things about people I didn’t realize.

It shows me that people I know like pictures of scantily-clad women. It’s surprising, but perhaps shouldn’t be. I mean it’s normal, I guess, right? And I suppose it could be much worse.

About two months ago, I watched this movie on Netflix called The American Meme. It showed how there is a subculture in America (presumably youth culture) that loves to watch people just act like idiots.

It’s like total Epicureanism – the worship of mental pleasure; ultimate indulgence in absurdist vice, hedonism.

I’m not sure if society has always been plagued by such debauchery or craving to witness irrational, thoughtless activities. Surely, we’ve been racist, sexist, greedy, and selfish for a long time.

However, I think today it’s evolved into something much more extreme, which has been perpetuated by media.

There are so many movies that glorify sex or objectivism, alcoholism, and drug abuse. What’s more, the celebrities in these films have become staples of cultural paradigms thanks to a rise in magazines like People and J-14. I don’t know the answers to these issues, nor do I have them widely explored.

I’m bringing them up because I think it’s important to have an open dialogue about where we’re moving as a society. This conversation at this point might be trite. Think about how many people were up in arms about the rise of rock n’ roll, MTV, hip hop, and Eminem’s mainstream success. The list could go for hours. Though it’s continually necessary to think about whether we’re creating fertile ground for the healthy, thriving development of our children.

These thoughts have led me to start thinking about cultural theorists such as Karl Popper and Theodor Adorno, as well as concepts related to post-consumerism and post-materialism. Hopefully, I’ll get time to read these in the next 3 to 5 years. Meanwhile, I am just striving to get my daily actions in order by reading books like Good to Great and The War of Art.

You can’t change the world until your own motivations are right.

You should know about it. Too many people don’t realize just how damaging it is to so many lives. For example, mandatory minimum sentencing is cited by many to be untenable, private prison systems incentivize incarceration, and minorities have been arguably unfairly targeted.

To start your journey, check out this article about how more than 90 percent of state and federal criminal convictions are the result of guilty pleas, often by people who say they didn’t commit a crime.

Also, watch 13th by Ava DuVernay on Netflix. It’s my first in-depth exploration of these issues. It was Oscar-nominated for Best Documentary and won multiple Primetime Emmy Awards, Best Documentary at the BAFTA Film Awards, and many others.

From Wikipedia:

DuVernay contends that slavery has been perpetuated in practices since the end of the American Civil War through such actions as criminalizing behavior and enabling police to arrest poor freedmen and force them to work for the state under convict leasing; suppression of African Americans by disenfranchisement, lynchings and Jim Crow; politicians declaring a war on drugs that weigh more heavily on minority communities and, by the late 20th century, mass incarceration of people of color in the United States. She examines the prison-industrial complex and the emerging detention-industrial complex, demonstrating how much money is being made by corporations from such incarcerations.

13th has garnered acclaim from film critics. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 89th Academy Awards, and won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are the power duo behind a number of cultural-defining cinematic booms, including Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street, and – my favorite movie – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Because I’m such a fan of the lastest Spider-flick, I decided to check out this interview they recently did with Joshua Johnson at 1A.

At the end of the interview, Miller gives some advice for a young fan about how to get into animation. Quoting some tips from a teacher of Chuck Jones, he says “you have 10,000 bad drawings inside you, you’ve gotta get them out as quickly as possible.”

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse attempts to capture the realities of diversity in an urban context. It is smart, even existential, while remaining optimistic, family-friendly, and hip.


Adding in his own words, “the more pencil-miles you get, the more practice you get making things, the better you’ll be, and don’t worry about failing. Don’t worry about chasing after something that you think someone else wants to see. Just make things that interest you, that you want to see, and eventually, you’ll get there.”

This is classic advice. It calls forth a similar idea from another illustrator, Stephen McCranie, who is attributed with the quote “The master has failed more than the beginner has ever tried.”

So, from a fellow trier, just keep on going. You got this.