Volunteering and traveling in Argentina to proclaim God's great love, and hopefully not getting sick along the way.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

GG: an unnecessary and yet existent analysis

I confessed to my parents that while I was vacationing, I was watching the tv series Gossip Girl. "Don't judge," I said. We all know that it was too late. So I might as well confess:

I liked it.

Now, let me define some of my feelings because, I recognize it, the show is absolutely scandalous.

First of all, I enjoy the references to literature and classic films. From references to Age of Innocence to House of Mirth as well as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Roman Holiday. When one takes a step back, there is a recognition of the underlying theme that the love of money can ruin everything.

I read House of Mirth this year (p.s. the movie is TERRIBLE), and was struck by the reality that those who have all the money one could want, enjoy most the conflicts which are spread through assumption and gossip. Through making others feel inferior. Hence, the television series. Their problems aren't real like that of not having food for your kid or political unrest or arguments over the deeper things in life.

To give a Biblical perspective, I depend on these verses:

An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end. Proverbs 20:21

And at the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. 1 Timothy 5:13

Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. Ecclesiastes 5:10

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36

I repeat, the characters' problems aren't real. Not just because it's a tv show, rather because they have gotten lost in the weight of their riches. They are always going to extravagant parties in effort to show others their great wealth (kind of reminds you of King Xerxes doesn't it?).

Every character has little sense of caring for others. They are all in the game of guarding each other's deepest secrets to reveal them at just the right time in order to either appear stronger or to.. you can guess it.. make more money. However, when they do look out for their friends or give to some charity, their character seems a bit brighter if only for an episode or two.

It's so unfortunate that this is the type of show we can get so easily engrossed. If we (read I) do, I find it important to give a critical eye to that which goes into our heads. Something I have learned to do even more this year, is combat lies on the screen with truth, out loud, for the best effect!

And of course, ANY time sex occurs, happily have the remote control handy to fast forward. Such a waste..

The characters in no particular order
The only reason I would ever stay in a show like GG is because the characters are fascinating. I found myself asking the screen, "Do people like this actually exist?!" That age old question of life reflecting art or vice versa.

Lily Bass - the "mom" of the show. To me, her character ends absolutely evil. She hugs the shoulder of whichever husband (she had 3.. or 4?) is closest. She usually just thinks about her money and the control she has over others because of it. At the same time, she shows a glimmer of compassion to the infamous Chuck Bass. p.s. her character comes straight from House of Mirth.

Chuck Bass - I have to admit, this womanizer had me laughing at times. He is so full of himself at the beginning of the series that he is just ridiculous. People like him do exist, because I met them at Northwestern. Nevertheless, I find it interesting to watch his transformation throughout the seasons. Though let us not be wary to ask, if he is so devoted to Blair, how come whenever he is upset over another abandoned-as-a-child issue, he turns to his old habits? He is quick to bring others into his downfall. My final comment, at least he was dynamic, which I can not say for the next character.

Serena Van der Woodsen- the epitome of dumb blonde who gets whatever she wants. If she happens to be out of the spotlight, she has no qualms to destroy everyone in her path, even herself. She turns to drugs, stupid relationships.. Once she tries to be a "better" Gossip Girl; she doesn't even realize that she is just as conniving if not worse.

Dan Humphrey - the actual Gossip Girl (did I mention spoiler alert?), and all so he could get the girl. It kills me that Serena calls GG Dan's "love letter" but one ought to count the cost of hurts and rape and pure idiocy that ensues due to the mob of people who constantly send in their tips. Dan is supposed to be the good guy, the one looking in on the inner circle of the Upper East Side's great wealth and finding a way to join them. Instead, we find the UES sticks closer than a brother to each other, even though they all treat each other like horse dung. Dan is foolish to keep GG going so long, especially if his motive was to be with Serena in the first place. But I suppose that is the stuff of soap opera--everyone gets with everyone at one point or another. (doesn't have to be real life, people!)

Blair Waldorf - one born into fashion and riches. She actually appears to be one of the most intellectual characters, but that side of her is rarely developed. Typical, the appeal of brains foreshadowed by her looks and fabulous clothes. Maybe it's that secretly I just really like her stepfather in the show. You may recognize him as Vizzini from The Princess Bride.

Nate Archibald - if Serena is the epitome of dumb blonde who always gets her way, Nate is the cliché airhead jock who as GG appropriately calls him in one episode, the man-whore. The show tries to placate his static character by helping him be more cautious in his female choices. It doesn't work.

And we ask, are the problems faced by these characters a result of money issues? Or daddy issues? Both? And perhaps even a few more issues.

You ask, with all these positive comments, how can you say you actually liked it? Aside from the references, I found the show appealing because I think this stuff actually happens. I want to understand why, and I want to have an answer to teenagers like these as to how they can find true fulfillment in their lives. That is, in Christ, the One who makes it possible for us to enjoy the work that we have been given on this earth for this short time.

Lily Bart in House of Mirth discovered that when she gave to the poor and even spent time taking care of them, she felt a happiness she had never known before. We can not only enjoy our lot, but discover satisfaction in staying true to the two laws that actually matter: Love God and love others.

love and chau, xo xo

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The aftermath

With the police strike on Wednesday and all of the stories I have read or heard or discussed, there are many questions to ponder.

Why was the governor in another country at the time? Why had he not considered beforehand to raise the salary of the police, who earn less than half of the bus drivers? (Bus drivers, on average, do not have more than a high school education.) Why did he send a message through Twitter asking for help?

Where was the president? What did she do? Even if she does not have a good relationship with the leader of Córdoba, these are still her people. Did she really send gangs to join in the looting?

My fear, after talking with Cristian, was that the other provinces might follow suit, putting even more people in danger. Sure enough, the provinces Catamarca, Neuquen, and Río Negro held strikes on Friday. (Read here).

When I read more of Argentina's history, I took note of the violence that is rooted with the government that has formed more or less beginning in the 70s. I suppose with that sort of start, what can one expect?

A similar effect has occurred since the fall of man.

The article explains that 136 arrests in Córdoba have since been made of the looters. Most of them were caught by the photos they had put on Facebook, showing off the many things they had stolen. With all the destruction I have seen in the city center, I know that thousands should be charged.

I talked with someone who lives in the slum area, to make sure she was all right. She said that everything was fine. Peaceful even, because everyone had left to steal from the wealthier neighborhoods.

Perhaps the bigger question is best described by one of the members of my team here in Córdoba.

"Where are our values? If we base our values on whether or not someone is watching, they really aren't values at all. The test comes when you take away the authority figure."

The challenge then, is to find where do we base our values. Digging a bit deeper, where do we base our Christianity? If we believe in God because of what we have been told all of our lives, nothing we have with God is real. When we have to choose following Christ even when the circumstances aren't in our favor--even if it means losing sleep on a Sunday morning, losing our job, losing friends, etc.--that is when our faith is real.

We realize whether we are following Christ or not when no one is looking.

This is my conclusion from the crazy 24 hours between Tuesday and Wednesday of the police strike in my precious Córdoba.

love and chau.