A Movie Review by Cole: Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel. What is one word I can use to describe this film? The word “impressive” comes to mind. The visuals, the story, characters, all are impressive. The character of Captain Marvel is the newest and perhaps most powerful addition to the Avengers, and her story is one of the most unique. Let’s start with that.

Captain Marvel’s story definitely took some interesting turns throughout the film, making for a very attention-grabbing plot. It is set in the 1990s (they had a Blockbuster video store for crying out loud!) and that in of itself aided the story in its own unique way, like Nick Fury’s pager being used at key points. Also, there is the involvement of the Kree (they turned out to be the bad guys once again) and the villain Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy, and the revelation that like Peter Quill, she was born on Earth and lived the rest of her life to the present time on another world with another race of people, which I kind-of saw coming but also didn’t. I must also point out that a younger Nick Fury and Agent Coulson had significant roles in the film; Fury became like a second father to Carol Danvers, which is Captain Marvel’s real name, aiding her when others wouldn’t.

The visual effects, as usual, were very impressive and not gratuitous like some movies are these days. For instance, they made Captain Marvel’s powers look real and believable for the story. Granted, Marvel films are typically well-executed visually, but this one in particular required something a little different, and it definitely was. Visual effects were required to bring Captain Marvel’s powers to life as well as giving the illusion of being in space.

The character development was also well done, with Captain Marvel’s backstory as a female Air Force pilot and Nick Fury’s pre-director career with S.H.I.E.L.D. as a more personable and humorous character. The interactions between them and the other characters like Jude Law’s role as Captain Marvel’s Kree mentor were believable in their performances giving the audience a cast of characters they could connect with and care about.

To recap, Marvel studios delivered once again with Captain Marvel, giving audiences a strong principle character with a compelling story, enhanced with spectacular visual effects, and believable performances by all the actors. Definitely a must-watch, especially with its tie-in to Avengers: Endgame and the final showdown with Thanos, as well as the clever 90s references throughout. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

Autism Myths Dispelled: Empathy (or lack thereof)

Another common misconception about Aspies or others on the Spectrum is that we are not empathetic to the feelings of those around us. Put simply, this is a misconception in the sense that reading and expressing emotions are very difficult, and so it can be difficult to identify with and relate to the emotional needs or state of another. This can be very problematic in the case of friendships and relationships, which I will cover separately in another post.

“My spouse doesn’t care about my needs!”; “Why is my spouse acting so selfishly?” These are just a couple of things I’ve heard from spouses of Aspies or someone else on the Spectrum, and it’s a shame that this is commonplace in relationships or even friendships. In truth, people on the Spectrum lacking in empathy is a misconception largely because it is common for us to lack general awareness and therefore, forget to ask about the needs of whoever else is within proximity. McKenna and I have had numerous discussions about that, as I’m sure all you with spouses on the Spectrum might have. Sometimes I need a reminder that I have a one-track mind which makes it harder to be aware of other things or other people, not to be intentionally rude or hurtful.

Now I want to talk about how this myth could not be further from the truth with regards to what Aspies and others on the Spectrum actually experience and feel. Contrary to what is widely believed, we actually feel very deeply, the problem is that we struggle to express them in an appropriate manner. In my own experience, expressing empathy is not an easy thing to do, but I do feel it. I feel it and I try to find ways to express it, even if it is as simple as saying, “I’m sorry”, or “I wish I could help”, etc. This can be a double-edged sword, however, as I often have a meltdown or become very sad or angry because I feed off of the emotions of the person(s) around me, and that can be off-putting to someone watching from the outside.

What else can I say about this? For one thing, I can say to people on the outside who view this phenomenon that it is an unfair thing to place on an Aspie or someone else on the Spectrum, and it might actually make it happen! If someone is told they are something or doing something for long enough, they start believe it is true and it then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, I ask you to learn about Autistic behaviors regarding emotional understanding/expression, and maybe you will see that feeling empathy and expressing it are not the same.

I also want to encourage my fellow Aspies and anyone else on the Spectrum that struggles with empathy to not let people get you down. It is hard, I know that all too well, but you know your emotions better than others may give you credit for, and those around you may understand it better than you believe. Empathy is not lacking in those on the Spectrum, in fact it runs very deeply, we just need help learning how to express it as the situation demands.

All that to say…

The “Shutdown”

One of the most difficult things for McKenna and I to deal with regarding my Asperger’s is the act of “shutting down”. All people have some kind of coping mechanism for stress, whether it’s turning to a material distraction, engaging in some sort of risky behavior, or seeking isolation. Most coping mechanisms aren’t necessarily negative in their effects, but I can say as an Aspie (and probably for most others on the Spectrum) that shutting down is THE coping mechanism of choice, so to speak.

What is a “shutdown”? It is an automatic response to over-stimulation that can take on the form(s) of tuning out the world, looking and feeling almost paralyzed, sudden emotional outbursts like crying or shouting, or just sudden total silence and then mindlessly going about a task. I have experienced all of these characteristics, often all at once. For those who are not on the Spectrum, it can be perplexing or even alarming to see someone who is on it experience a shutdown. In other cases, it can also be viewed as a rude behavior which can prompt that person on the outside to rebuke or berate the person who is going through a shutdown.

I know from my own experience that shutting down can be incredibly inconvenient for both oneself and for their friend or spouse, especially in a place where it is not socially appropriate. Sometimes the person can hold it in until they get home, but sometimes they can’t, and it can result in an unpleasant situation for all parties involved; it’s humiliating in every way possible.

However, there are ways to prevent a shutdown. One thing that can be done is for the person feeling like they might shut down to tell someone, like their spouse, parent or friend that they need to be done with or need to be temporarily removed from a potentially overstimulating situation. Something else that can be done, on the other’s part, is to try and notice when their Autistic friend or spouse is beginning to shut down or looks like they might and ask them if they need to go somewhere else or, if necessary, leave the situation altogether. Doing any one of these things can go a long way in preventing or lessening a shutdown.

I realize that this may seem like a lengthy post, but it is important for me to get this out in the air. Aspies and anyone else on the Spectrum experiencing a shutdown are not something to be taken lightly or even rebuked, because almost 100% of the time, it can’t be helped. Sometimes a shutdown is exactly what needs to happen, as hard as it is to experience and witness. To all of you out there who deal with this on whatever level, be it the one who feels it or sees it, it’s okay. It’s okay to let it happen. Shut down, restart. Trust me, as much as it sucks, it can also be beneficial. Hopefully this will be of help to those on the Spectrum who experience shutdowns and to their friends/family. It’s okay.

Hitting the Mark- Combat the Habit!

In previous posts I covered my prior and existing struggle with pornography, laying it all out there. But I never really talked about what to do to combat porn. Here I will give advice from my personal experience combating this sin, and hopefully those who read this can learn from it and know that there is hope.

What can a man (or boy) do to combat this? Paramount to getting out of porn is finding someone to be accountable to. That person can be a friend, family member, spouse, pastor, anyone you know you can trust who will not judge you but will keep you on the straight and narrow as much as possible. McKenna was my most important accountability partner especially because we were dating and I wanted to kick the habit before we got engaged, which I did!

Next, if necessary, is relieve yourself of electronics with internet access. In this day and age it can be very hard to be willing to do that, and I understand that all to well. If you can’t get rid of your phone, disable any apps that would be tempting to you, relegate your device to non-social media communication only. I had to disable YouTube and Facebook Messenger a few times just to lessen the temptation while I was on my phone. Also, make sure the safesearch setting on your internet browser is as strict as possible and keep yourself accountable to someone who can remind you not to mess with it.

The last piece of advice I can offer is this: ask yourself, “What’s more important to me? Long-term intimacy with a real person who loves me, or short-term pleasure with a woman on a screen that you will never meet and only be left with regret and shame?” This is a hard one, I know. At times I felt like I was better off continuing to view porn as I wasn’t sure I would actually find my life-partner. But when McKenna and I started dating and leading up to our engagement, the answer to that question was clear. I wanted a long-term, intimate relationship with a real woman that porn could never fulfill, and that was the end of it. Trust me, real love and intimacy is so worth the effort and much better than fake stuff on a screen!

Again, I hope that what I have shared here will benefit anyone who reads this that has or is struggling with porn and give them hope. There is hope for lasting change, if you are willing to take that first step. Be it ditching electronics and fortifying your internet browser, finding an accountability partner or simply asking yourself what you value more, you CAN combat and eliminate pornography from your life. Where will you start?