Sober Up

Sober Up” by AJR featuring Rivers Cuomo from their album The Click is a song about losing yourself in adulthood. The song evokes a feeling of innocence, and the lyrics describe someone searching for their young love and innocence that has been swept away by adult life.

The song starts with:

Hello, Hello

I’m not where I’m supposed to be

I hope that you’re missing me

‘Cause it makes me feel young

Last time I saw your face

Was recess in second grade

The song is introduced with the speaker lost in his surroundings. His one lifeline is remembering a person from his past because they remind him of happier times in his life. The connection between them has been distant for some time, yet he still yearns for it.

The second verse includes lines like:

‘Goodbye, goodbye,’

I said to my bestest buds

We said that we’d keep in touch

And we did our best

The speaker begins to give more background on the situation he was in and the situation he finds himself in now. He uses “bestest buds” to describe their old friends because they were all truly close, but their communication fell through once they all went their own ways. The song then transitions over to describing the new people in his life by saying,

All my new friends

We smile at party time

But soon we forget to smile

At anything else

The new people are just “friends” because they don’t really have a genuine, heartfelt connection. The speaker tried to fill the gap of friends with new friends, but those friendships do not last. Smiles are a way to express happiness, and when smiling around people usually means that they make you happy. The speaker only smiles with his new friends during parties, so they don’t really make him happy. 

Throughout the song the lines “Won’t you help me sober up?” and “And I want to feel something again” repeat multiple times. The speaker is calling out for help. He realizes that he is in a toxic lifestyle and reflects on the last time he was happy: his childhood. This song is not only a cry for help, it is a reminder to search for your own happiness and that it is okay to ask for help.

Denver's Agency

As I read Beloved, I kept expecting a romantic interest for Denver to be introduced. However, as I kept reading, I noticed there is a lack of romantic love throughout the book. Sethe and Paul D. get together, but even that relationship seems to blossom out of the need for an escape, the need to remember the past, not just love for each other. Even Halle and Sethe’s relationship is described as familial, not romantic. I think that Toni Morrison chose not to give Denver a romantic interest because it would take away her agency.

A romantic interest would have hindered Denver’s growth and made her arc shallow. If Denver had a romantic interest that swept her off her feet, that boy would have been the reason she separated from Beloved and Sethe. She would not have had to make the conscious decision to get help without knowing that she would have anyone to return to. Denver’s power comes from her actions. Without a boy, she is only influenced by her mind, not someone else.

Religious Autonomy

In Exit West, Saeed says that “He asked to learn [prayer] before his parents had yet thought of teaching him” (201). This sentence struck me because it was the first time I have read or heard of parents choosing to wait to indoctrinate their child into their religion.

Most people I know who are religious have been religious their whole life, and they have practiced the same religion, which is usually the religion their parents practice as well. Religion is such a strong influence on people’s actions. Most parents pass their religion onto their children without considering the child’s agency because that is “how it is done.” Children grow up knowing only the one religion and are not given a chance to experiment with what religion they connect with. If they question their inherited religion, they run the risk of being shunned (to varying degrees).

In Exit West, Saeed and Nadia respect each other’s religious expression. Nadia rejected her family’s expectations and Saeed followed his family’s practices, and they are both happy with the way they choose to express their beliefs. Saeed is happy with his choice to continue practicing his religion because it strengthened his bond with others. Nadia chose to not follow her family’s religion because she could not find a reason to keep practicing it. Why should she lose her family for that?

Life and Death in Existentialism

I do not understand why life gives life purpose. As soon as Mr. Heidkamp said that in class, I questioned it. How can life give life purpose?

We as humans value our lives because we know that one day they will end. In some cases, people who know they are dying soon adopt and Existentialist point of view. In an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, a patient is diagnosed with lung cancer. After she is diagnosed, she realizes that she never really enjoyed life. She never smoked, drank, and always watched what she ate. Once she comes to this realization, she orders a dozen cakes to eat, shoplifts chocolate from the hospital gift shop, and gets drunk at a bar. She was motivated by death.

In the Percy Jackson book series, Percy is offered immortality by the gods at the end of the last book. To everyone’s surprise, he turns it down. He doesn’t want immortality because it would take away the value of life.

I think that death gives life meaning. Death motivates us to make the best use of our lives. If we never died, we would never value our life experiences because we would always be able to repeat them, and that does not seem like a life worth living to me.

Playing Into Gender Stereotypes in “Black Box” and the Real World

In “Black Box”, women are taught to use how they are perceived as weapons. They purposely act clueless and obedient. This technique works because it plays into the preconceived notions that men have of women.

The “Beauties”, women contracted by the government to seduce and gain information from men, justify their actions by telling themselves that the information they are gathering is of the utmost importance and will save America. They do what they do because they think it is for the greater good.

By purposely acting ditzy and obedient, the Beauties are reinforcing negative stereotypes about women.

When I think about negative, harmful stereotypes, my mind immediately jumps to Hollywood. In film and television, stereotyping runs rampant. The girl who walks into the dark basement to investigate a mysterious sound dies, a woman who is focuses on her career doesn’t have time for love, businessman realizes he was in love with his secretary after she left him. There are a plethora of movie/TV stereotypes about women.

Although famous actresses often champion feminism, many of them continued taking one-dimensional roles. In Grease, Sandy changes everything about herself for a boy. In Jurassic World, Bryce Dallas Howard plays a career-oriented woman who is cautious of love. Actresses may only see the role as a part to play, they are helping perpetuate harmful stereotypes.

Instead of gaining power, women are giving power to demeaning stereotypes, which in turn allow men who believe in those stereotypes continue with their actions.