Opinion: Racism, Dogs, and Our Primitive Brains

We can be better.

I love this article RunPee Dan wrote about how bigotry used to have an evolutionary advantage for early man. This discussion was sparked by The Hate U Give,  a movie out just this week, delving into the timely topics of race, bigotry, and prejudice in our culture. Racism has been a frequent topic in film for many long years, and unfortunately, it’s still something society grapples with.  

I was talking to the RunPee family yesterday about just this: something a lot of people don’t know is that we’re not the only racist animals. Dogs and chimps have demonstrated this too, and even more ancient creatures. Watch any school of fish, or what happens in your own aquarium. There’s safely among one’s own kind.

When I worked with dogs, I noticed in person something I’d read about previously — that in a group/pack situation, dogs will seek out firstly others of their breed, and, failing that, will seek out dogs of its own color. So a black lab would look for other labs, or at least other black dogs. Eventually a dog would make its own ‘friends’ outside those boundaries, but those friendships still come with unassailable hierarchical positions. Dogs respect hierarchy above all else (the reason they obey us — if they do — is because they see us as higher in the pack scale as their Alpha, hopefully).

We see different as scary. We feel uneasy in a very primitive part of the brain when confronted with other. Fear and anxiety – and decision-making — are controlled in the amigdala, and that’s buried deeply in the brain’s cortex. Our primal limbic system tries to protect us with knee-jerk responses to a variety of potentially dangerous stimuli. Run! Fight! Hide! Bark! This worked for a long time and got us where we are today, with cities, surplus food for most, and even leisure time to pursue learning, creative endeavors, and the pursuit of happiness.

Hopefully, we’ve had enough cultural evolution by now to think mindfully instead of reactively to every new encounter. This kind of mindfulness is a major reason I treasure Star Trek so much. Star Trek shows an enlightened society where greed, racism, hunger, and war-like qualities are mostly eradicated, replaced with a Humanist outlook on life. Look at someone like Captain Jean-Luc Picard for the finest example of a Renaissance-level human ever in entertainment. The reason so many fans are pumped he has a  new Picard show in development is so we can watch our role model again, and feel inspired to be BETTER. (Also, Sir Patrick Stewart can read recipes out loud and make them sound like epic literature. ) So, yes, Star Trek FTW: I love this kind of positive outlook on the future. Not all entertainment has to be dark and gritty to be good.

I think my favorite part of Dan’s opinion article is about taking our racist brain parts out for a walk — to pet them, to tell them “different is okay”, and to let go of old, outmoded, instinctive fears. Yes, avoiding different was once a source of support and longevity. We in H. sapiens have had enough cycles of comfort and prosperity by now that we can TEACH ourselves to be more tolerant, less judgmental. (Which includes being tolerant of ourselves when we make the inevitable mistakes. There’s a learning curve.)

This is my hope. And, right, we have to work at it.  It does get easier, with practice. Constant vigilance! I believe we’ll get there in time before the inevitable alien invasion arrives to MAKE us play well together.  😉

Through the Wormhole – Are We All Bigots?

Movie Review – The Hate U Give

Movie Review – BlacKkKlansman

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Funny Harry Potter Fan Film Short – The Mysterious Ticking Noise

If Potters were puppets…

Are you a really big Harry Potter fan? Here’s a somewhat silly, but super fun fan video, called Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise. These guys made a lot of little Harry Potter puppet shorts, but THIS is the best, the most beloved and well known. We Potterhead types have been known to play this video to a room full of fellow fans and sing it out loud together: happy little geeky freaks.

Once you watch this enough times, you can’t get it out of your head. Play it a few times. Catchy. Charming ending, too. There’s also a little subversive bit with Dumbledore to make you go WTF.  What character do you sing along with? (I tend to shout out Ron, Ron, Ron Weasley!  Confused? You’ll see what I mean when you view this.)

So here we go. It’s a little like the classic “Muh Nuh Ma Nuh” earworm from the old days in Sesame Street.

Snape, Snape, Severus Snape…

Related, on RunPee: Enjoy a nicely done and quite amusing parody of the song Uptown Funk, sung by Voldemort and the Death Eaters (that even sounds like a band!), called Dark Lord Funk. Read Voldemort Will Funk You Up.

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Apollo 11 Trivia Quiz

Apollo 11 Trivia

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Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Where’s the American Flag in First Man?

Much ado has been made about the omission of the moment when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag on the moon in the movie First Man. So what’s the deal?

Here’s what the director had to say about this decision:

“It surprised me because there are so many things that we weren’t able to focus on not only during the lunar EVA but in the entirety of Apollo 11. Just by the nature of the story we were telling, we just couldn’t go into every detail. So our through-line became, especially at this part of the movie where it’s the final emotional journey for Neil, what were the private, unknown moments of Neil on the moon? The flag was not a private, unknown moment for Neil. It’s a very famous moment and it wasn’t Neil alone. We included the famous descent down the ladder because that’s him alone, literally first feeling what it’s like to be on the moon. But other than that, we only wanted to focus on the unfamous stuff on the moon. So we don’t go into the phone call with Nixon, we don’t go into the scientific experiments, we don’t go into reentry.”

Regardless of how you feel about the exclusion of this scene, there are numerous people who (at least pretend) to care deeply about it. So much so, they told blatant lies that would be clear to anyone who’s even seen the movie trailer. It’s been said the American flag is deliberately never shown — this is false.

Here are three images (below) showing the American flag in a 2 1/2 minute First Man trailer. The movie is 2 hours and 21 minutes long, so they’re on pace to show the flag 169.2 times! (I’m sure it will be much less because, as they say: sample size matters.)

First Man Flag

First Man Flag

First Man Flag

First Man‘s Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle is known for stories of intense personal sacrifice in the struggle to achieve, like La La Land and Whiplash. The title First Man really sums up what this movie is about: an individual struggling against his fears, technology, physical limitations, and most of all, gravity.

Chazelle added:

“In First Man I show the American flag standing on the lunar surface, but the flag being physically planted into the surface is one of several moments of the Apollo 11 lunar EVA that I chose not to focus upon. To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is, “No.” My goal with this movie was to share with audiences the unseen, unknown aspects of America’s mission to the moon. Particularly Neil Armstrong’s personal saga and what he may have been thinking and feeling during those famous few hours.”

Armstrong’s sons, Rick and Mark, wrote in a statement:

“This story is human and it is universal. Of course, it celebrates an America achievement. It also celebrates an achievement for all mankind, (emphasis added) as it says on the plaque Neil and Buzz left on the moon. It is a story about an ordinary man who makes profound sacrifices and suffers through intense loss in order to achieve the impossible,”

Conclusion
There are those who think that everyone who disagrees with their perspective on patriotism has some agenda, or is behind some conspiracy to corrupt, what they feel, is the only true expression of patriotism. But, sometimes these decisions are based on artistic expression, or as is more often the case, didn’t notice that there was anything patriotic there in the first place.

Read Next: Where’s the Flag? Opinion, by polyGeek

Movie Review – First Man

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Entering the X-Files – The Pilot Episode

The X-Files Pilot still one of the better long-running television pilots out there. Quintessentially set in the early 90s, it holds up well. Scully is an adorable skeptic, still bright-eyed and bushy tailed — so eager to please — with a sweet face still bearing traces of baby fat. Mulder starts out almost exactly as he finishes, tossing his new partner a half assed joke in greeting:”Welcome to the FBI’s most unwanted.” He knows she’s been sent down to his basement to dubunk him, and has his I Want To Believe Poster posted proudly behind his desk, surrounded by conspiracy theory news clippings and marked-up maps.

(Get used to this being Mulder’s domain. Scully only perches on things for the next few years. It does improve for her much later, when she gets a desk of her own. And on a side note, Mulder doesn’t get a bed until the two-parter ep Dreamland, so it’s an equal opportunity level of bodily discomfort.)  🙂

In spite of this preliminarily  lopsided pilot powershow, the two exude instant charisma, and the minor ‘abduction’  story needs thankfully little exposition. It’s got a self contained plot (is it about alien abductions, or driven by some other supernatural condition? It doesn’t matter), and it concludes in a satisfying place.  But the plot isn’t the main show, thankfully.

The real reason to watch the pilot is to play close attention to the dynamics of Gillian Anserson and David Duchovny as Scully and Mulder, respectively. Right away, their mutual charisma bounces between them with a crackling electricity, whether they’re bickering in their office, or laughing at each other in darkness, drenched in the road — where a big red spray can X marks the spot. It’s a good moment. I don’t want to be too specific. Just watch it.

Were they abducted too? Why did they lose time? It’s actually par for the course that we never know. Get used to this in this series, and you’ll be fine. The show is about its two leads, and how they almost, but quite, prove the evidence of aliens and the supernatural.

If you find this coy cat and mouse overly-plotting, stick it out anyway, at least until seasons 5 or 7. The Chis Carter Effect doesn’t set in til then. This is a great show to keep up, because the two leads sparkle even after all this time, and the frequent Monster of the Week episodes are often the best things ever seen on television.

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

More Powerful Than You Could Possibly Imagine

Remember in A New Hope when Obi Wan said to Vader, “Strike me down and I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine”? As it turned out, Obi Wan didn’t become all powerful. He didn’t do much more than become the Jedi Whisperer. (Let go, Luke. Trust your feelings.)

Now that Luke has faded to the Force (after the events at the end of The Last Jedi) it appears he might be the all-powerful one. Or maybe he was the all powerful one. It’s all conjecture at this point, but here’s what we know think we know.

The Express reported that leaks for the upcoming Episode IX (December 20, 2019) indicate that Luke has the power to force choke a Star Destroyer. The question is, does this happen in the past, and we see it as a flashback (The only thing JJ Abrams loves more than lens flare is flashbacks)? Or does it happen in the timeline of Episode IX now that Luke is truly with the Force?

What is it with the Star Wars universe and sand?

There is evidence that this is a flashback  based on the book Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Legends of Luke Skywalker, which is part of the official Star Wars canon. One of the stories takes place shortly after the end of Return of the Jedi on Jakku — Rey’s old stomping grounds. A crew member aboard a Star Destroyer recalls seeing a hologram of Luke reach out. Shortly afterward, the ship crashed into Jakku. It’s implied the abandoned Star Destroyer we saw in The Force Awakens, the one that Rey frequently scavenged, was brought down by Luke nearly three decades earlier.

What’s clear: Disney and Abrams need to unite the fractured fanbase that’s disappointed with how impotent Luke has been portrayed thus far. Right now we’re left sifting through the sands, like an archaeologist looking for clues from the bones of long dead animals, trying to figure out where the story is going, and where it came from.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

MoviePass Auto Re-enrollment for Select Users

MoviePass has had a rough go of it lately. No surprise when your business model is too good to be true. However, their latest move is stirring up controversy among their users  — or former users in some cases —  who have been auto re-enrolled in a new program.

According to Business Insider, former MoviePass holders recently discovered they had been re-enrolled in the service, which is expected to roll out a new plan Wednesday. Now users can see any three movies (within their new draconian limits of what is “available”) for $9.95 per month.

 

MoviePass users have until Thursday, October 4th to opt-out of the plan they were re-enrolled in.

Bottom Line: if you’re using MoviePass, be sure to keep an eye on your account and make sure you’re getting what you expect. Some users who tried to cancel their account ended up being auto re-enrolled, and charged for it.

Opinion:
I don’t envy anyone working for MoviePass customer support this week. I’m sure those employees are going to have some sort of contest to see who gets the worst abuse from a disgruntled user. I can empathize with them, because I’ve had to deal with my own share of unhappy users after adding Peecoins to RunPee. All of that aside, what MoviePass is doing shouldn’t be legal, and it’s a travesty that the politicians (both Dems and Reps) are too gutless to pass any sort of legislation to keep companies from doing this sort of thing.

For the vast majority of users, I don’t think there’s anything worth getting worked up about. They’ll either say, Yeah, this new deal is worth it, and stick with the auto-enrollment, or they’ll spend a few minutes and go back into the MoviePass app and opt out, again. But a small percentage of users won’t notice. The emails may get filtered out; they won’t notice the charges on their banking account; whatever — and they’ll end up paying for a service they thought they had dropped, month after month. And if they don’t know that they’re enrolled, they won’t be using the benefits. This is where I think MoviePass is doing nothing short of stealing.

What do you think?

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Alert Peetimes

One common request from users over the years is to help them avoid graphic scenes in movies that might disturb them. For years we have tried to do the best we can to create Peetimes during scenes we found to be over the top, or disturbing, compared to the rest of the movie. Now we have made it quasi-official by marking these Peetimes as Alert Peetimes.

This solution comes with a few caveats.  First, this is obviously very subjective. What may be disturbing to one person isn’t even noticed by another. However, I think there is a lot of common ground. We focus on scenes that have sexual violence, animal cruelty, or torture. (Hopefully there’s never a scene that involves all three!)

Also, this is contextual. If you’re watching a gangster movie with lots of torture scenes, then what’s the point of making Alert Peetimes for those?That’s what the movie is about. But, if there happened to be a scene involving animal cruelty in a gangster movie, then we’d try to alert you to that.

Second, we can’t have Alert Peetimes that might cover every conceivable thing someone out there might be sensitive to. For instance, if you were recently in a terrible car crash, it might be traumatic to watch a movie and then unexpectedly see a car crash. My suggestion for anyone with an issue like that would be to talk to someone who has already seen the movie, and ask them if one of their trigger scenes is in it.

Third, we make it very clear in the RunPee app that we won’t be held responsible for catching every scene that might trigger someone. We’ll do our best and invite our fans to provide feedback, good and bad, on how we are doing with the Alert Peetimes — but we’re not interested in hearing criticism that blames us for not protecting them from a trigger scene. Again, we’re doing our best with it, but this isn’t our core purpose when getting Peetimes for a movie.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movies Mentioning Pee – fun film clips

We’ve got your back. I mean your bladder. With apologies to Hitchcock.

RunPee is about Pee. Okay…um: I should rephrase that. We’re about movies.  But pee was the inspiration, and as Alfred Hitchcock famously said, “The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.” 

This isn’t really the case in modern times, most especially with blockbusters. We tend to call the really long ones Bladder-Busters, because they are. It’s funny, but really is no joke. We started the whole RunPee app thing while sitting through Peter Jackson’s 3+ hour King Kong, after all.

That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a great pee joke! In fact, I made it my mission to pull up a whole mess of movie scene videos where peeing is the entire punchline. Want to have some fun for a while? Sit back, open up these movie moments, and enjoy. (Hint: make sure to run and pee first!)

HERE ARE A LOT OF MOVIES WITH PEE SCENES…

Star Lord leaks a little bit:

Iron Man explains how he pees when he wears his suit:

Apollo 13 has a cool scene that solves the question of how astronauts pee in space…and then exactly where that pee ends up:

A hilarious gender-bending pee scene in Jumanji 2:

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels did Iron Man’s little routine first:

The Rundown with The Rock has this little gem:

If you’ve ever had to go in a jar, from Sabotage:

Another bit of pee bottle humor, from Diary of a Wimpy Kid:

Another Wimpy Kid peetime:

Austin Powers never shies away from toilet humor. Each film in the trilogy has at least once funny pee scene:

Dumb and Dumber, and yet another pee bottle, clearly a staple of movie humor:

A cute little scene from Big Daddy:

Another Adam Sandler pee/kid scene, from Billy Madison:

Harold and Kumar pee in the woods:

American Pie had a few pee moments:

Even Disney cartoons aren’t above funny little pee humor:

In Almost Famous, even girls gotta go:

A League of Their Own, with Tom Hanks enjoying a good pee:

Soooooo, this isn’t a comprehensive list of scenes. I was a little shocked at the quantity and quality of pee scenes available on You Tube. But this will get you started, and you can include anything I missed in the comment section.

 

 

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Free In Flight Movies – they rock, but are harder to find

See those screens? Where did they go? I want my MTV…

I used to love Delta Airlines, and willingly paid more for their expensive tickets.

Why? They had movies, over a hundred film options (some barely out of the cinemas, plus new popular TV show episodes), built into the backs of their comfy, relatively wide seats. For free. You brought or bought headphones, plugged them in, and blissed out for hours. I could catch up on lots of cool movies I didn’t get to see before, and arrive at my destination without stress. It was like having my own tiny, private movie theater, with flight attendants serving hot & cold running drinks. In coach!

So now, with airlines getting more and more stingy, why has Delta suddenly made my upcoming coast-to-coast CROSS COUNTRY red-eye flight a frustrating ordeal? I can’t even select my own seat anymore without a $30 fee (which means…the dreaded middle seat). But more importantly: I counted on having an in-flight personal movie selection for the long night flight. There’s no way pre-loaded entertainment on my phone or laptop will last long enough to fill the gap of midnight flight desperation.

Am I peeved? You bet. More than peeved. I could use stronger language here, since this is a long, late flight from RunPee HQ in San Diego to RunPee HQ in Orlando, and now I’ll be too tired to read, but not comfortable enough to sleep.  I want my movies.

Am I being picky over nothing? The touch-screen seat movies made flying almost acceptable again, in my mind. What’s your recent flight experience with free film screens? If you have tips on how to find these flights, add to the comments below.

How People Stay Germ-Free on Flights

Tips to Prevent Catching Swine Flu at the Movies

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.