Dear Evan Hansen: A Tasteless Exercise in Forgiving White Male Mediocrity

I love me some musical theater. So while I had heard from a friend that Dear Evan Hansen had a deeply unpleasant storyline, when my mom offered to buy me and my brother, who was visiting from my hometown, tickets, I figured I’d give the show the chance to prove itself. I headed into the theater last Saturday night knowing none of the music and with only my friend’s brief synopsis of the plot to go on. What followed was two and a half hours of the most disgustingly tasteless story I have had the misfortune to experience in a theater. I spent the entire first act feeling like I was actually going to be sick to my stomach, and found no real solace in the second act, which was frustratingly absent any repercussions for the title character’s reprehensible behavior.

(via playbill)

Spoilers for the show and a trigger warning for discussion of ableism and suicide after the jump.

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In Brightest Day: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and Cloud’s Incomplete Battle with Depression

I wrote a review for Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children a while back. In it, I went over some of its problems—it panders, has too many characters for its running time, and breaks its suspension of disbelief more than once. I also briefly touched on Cloud’s depression, which I plan to talk about in more detail today. Advent Children has a lot of things wrong with it, and as a whole, the movie simply does not work. Cloud’s character arc is one of those things. The movie doesn’t know how to handle mental health issues, and that makes Advent Children more than a little painful to watch at times. Cloud suffers from depression, but his depression never contributes to his character arc in a way that matters. Advent Children uses it to set up his internal conflict, but it never resolves his issues. Instead, Cloud’s depression is little more than a gimmick, and the way the movie handles it really drags on the story.

(via wikia)

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In Brightest Day: Love Is No Cure in Mystic Messenger

Upon finally finishing Mystic Messenger, I’ve come to one conclusion: I’m dead. Emotionally dead. As far as otome games go, Cheritz’s Mystic Messenger has some of the best writing I’ve ever seen, and a plot full of more twists and turns that I would have ever thought possible from a freemium-styled mobile game. While the game does have plenty of cute moments and funny interactions, as well as drama, these are all to be expected. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was a deeper look into the tragedy of mental illness, and how even the best intentions can lead to an ultimately harmful ending for more than one person.

mystic-messenger-old-rfa-photoMajor spoilers for the game, especially both of the secret stories, beneath the cut. Additionally, a trigger warning for mentions of suicide.

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Lack of Depression in Black Characters

Dearest Readers, writing for Black History Month is difficult. There is a difficult balance of focusing on concepts vs. people, discussing people that are strangers vs. people you are friendly with, and characters vs real people. To further the complication, there is an urge to spend the whole month celebrating and spotlighting things that deserve praise. But at the same time, I find it absolutely necessary to discuss less enjoyable topics.

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In Brightest Day: Depression in The Babadook

The BabadookA lot of exciting things happened to me this Christmas—I saw Star Wars four times, got a Lego Millennium Falcon, and went into anaphylactic shock. Twice. It was an eventful time for me that I thankfully survived, and as my break started coming to an end, APerigren told me about this amazing scary movie called The Babadook that came out in 2014 and was both written and directed by Jennifer Kent as her directorial debut. Despite hating horror films because they give me nightmares, and disregarding the potentially fatal medical issues I just suffered through, I decided to traumatize myself even more by giving The Babadook a watch. This was a bad idea.

Regardless of my low tolerance for scary monsters and the subsequent nightmares the story gave me, I will concede that The Babadook is one of the better movies I’ve watched. The Babadook is a psychological thriller about a monster called the Babadook who terrorizes and possesses people. It’s also a giant metaphor for depression and grief.

Spoilers up ahead.

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Ceci N’est Pas Un Jeu Vidéo: A The Beginner’s Guide Experience

When I saw the trailer for The Beginner’s Guide, I knew I was going to end up writing an article on it. As the second game from Davey Wreden, the designer behind the hilarious and surreal The Stanley Parable, I looked forward to getting a further look into his sense of humor. While I got that in parts, I’m left here wondering whether or not I actually benefited from playing Wreden’s most recent journey into interactive… something instead of having an experience with The Stanley Parable influence what I thought of it. However, going into it without prior conceptions is impossible: a designer’s reputation and previous works always precedes them, and perhaps that’s what The Beginner’s Guide sets out to tackle. Part of it, anyway.

I’ve been sitting on this, mulling over my thoughts for maybe little over a week now, and I still have no idea how to properly put into words what this game truly is. Is it art? Is it reality? Whether or not Wreden meant the trailer to be misleading, I’m uncertain, but this uncertainty is likewise reflected in just how many questions this game creates, and all the ones it leaves unanswered.

On a base level, yes, okay, the trailer wasn’t exactly lying to its audience. The game is a psychological study of a person through the use of small games that have been developed. When I initially downloaded the game off of Steam, though, I was expecting more of a self-introspection sort of deal, with you, the player, trying to decode several people through a set of games, and then being made to wonder why you would assume such things given a very narrow, vague, detached sense of personhood. That’s still part of the game, but in a different, more uncomfortable way than I was anticipating.

If you have any inclination to play this, please, please do before you drop beneath the cut. Spoilers, and a trigger warning for depression, below.

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In Brightest Day: Struggling with Depression in Inside Out

Inside Out posterFor quite a while, I had been hearing nothing but good things about Inside Out, and while the movie is by no means perfect, it was pretty damn good. One of the reasons I like this movie so much is because it has one of the most accurate portrayals of depression that I have ever seen. And not only does Inside Out portray depression realistically, it also presents it in a way that’s easy to understand.

Major spoilers after the jump.

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