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We forget that the subjects of our myths are humans. Whether we ridicule or exalt them, idols of the American Dream (or Global Dream) float like symbols through our consciousness. We hear their voices, see their faces, and absentmindedly play through a narrative of their lives we’ve heard, an anecdote, a quote. They are embedded in us, but when we try to pick apart what they mean to us and why they mean it, we see a shivering person there, not an untouchable god or monster at all.

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“She’s not autistic,” Caleb says to billionaire mad scientist Nathan, who’s asking him to evaluate the artificial humanity of his robot Ava. That’s an interesting comment for him to make, and runs through the heart of all the questions this film asks. While we’re trying to figure out if we can create electronic, artificial conscious and emotional beings, some of the humans these simulations are supposed to emulate don’t pass all the tests. As programmable and predictable as we humans are, we are still a bit beyond our own understanding, and maybe we really can’t replicate ourselves until we better understand ourselves.

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Harold and Maude, now streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime, deals with a timeless issue: the crushing morbidity of precocious young people. When our brains are getting used to being alive, we can’t help but confront some of the hypocrisy and misery we see around us. If you’re sensitive and dramatic as well, everything can seem wonderful and horrible and you can’t imagine how anyone does this life thing.

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If you haven’t watched A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night on Netflix yet, you’re missing out. It’s an elegant mashup pastiche of everything from spaghetti westerns to Fellini. The backdrop is a nowhere U.S. western town where everyone speaks Farsi and a girl vampire can hide under a batlike chador.

The shots are breathtaking, the music is intoxicating, but the cat, played by the film’s producer’s cat Masuka, steals the show, charging a bewitching energy through the entire movie.

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When I was 18-20, success to me was just surviving. I honestly didn’t have a lot of hope for even that. I didn’t know if I could get or keep a job. I had a passion for writing, but knew that the potential for money or even slight recognition for that was against me. Besides, I didn’t really have anything to say. I didn’t know anything except dread and fear, which are great topics in themselves, but they still need a little focus.

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Randi tried to be nice to people, but it backfired. Like a spy, she would stealthily listen to what other people said to each other, but then when she said those same things, Randi got a different reaction.

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Robert came up with a theory of time in his notebook. He knew there were others, scientists, who were better qualified for this. But, still. It felt like a breakthrough. He had always had a sense that he was at the verge of getting at something, but it was so hard to communicate what that was. His girlfriend Sara used to laugh at him sometimes, and that laugh, so bitter and red, was fuel to him now. He tried to have compassion for Sara now that she was somewhere else with some cretin, the two of them slouching towards the grave with nothing but silly pleasures for their empty heads. She just didn’t have the capacity to understand his brilliance.

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From my ask.fm:
i’m a girl and i like my friend but he is bisexual. and i get pissed whenever he flirts with guys that sometimes it makes him thinks that I don’t accept his sexuality and that i’m close minded. but the truth is, i just can’t accept that he can’t like me the way i like him. what should i do? i’m hurt

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Bruce Jenner has shaken up our world and brought the question of gender to the forefront of popular consciousness. His two-hour interview with Diane Sawyer was a very well-planned introduction to the “real” Bruce Jenner, an introduction to a public figure we thought we somewhat knew, but actually haven’t met before. A few things we learned about this more authentic presenting Bruce is is that he is a woman “for all intents and purposes,” he is more feminine than masculine, he prefers male pronouns for now, and he’s also a Republican. Since conservatives are more likely to be unaccepting of those outside the accepted gender binary, all of these facts taken together threw everyone for a loop.

What is gender? Is it biological in some way, maybe in the brain? Is it a social construct? If you’re more feminine than masculine, do you have to be a woman? What does it mean to be a man or a woman? Do well-defined definitions matter to us more than they should?

mariabamford

I personally like my comedy best when it is just spikes of terrifying truth thrown out at you through the darkness. These spikes have to be lobbed by an expert. Not only an expert at observing of these truths, which is a skill in itself, but they then have to be so expertly delivered that they tickle as much as they hurt. It’s not that there shouldn’t be metaphorical blood involved, it’s just that it should leak out through your mouth disguised as laughter, and afterwards you feel almost as good as you do after you cry. It’s a relief. It’s like leech therapy for your psyche. It’s like a deep tissue massage that both relaxes your muscles and painfully reminds you that they are there.

Maria Bamford is the master of this, and I love her for it.