Posted in episodes

Episode 30: Toxic Masculinity

The homework for the episode:
Martha: Devils Within by S.F. Henson (2018 YA novel)
Pete: The Sopranos, 1.01 (“Pilot”)
Caitlin: TED talks from Jackson Katz and Tony Porter

A teenager escapes from the Neo Nazi compound that raised him and tries to integrate into the real world, overcoming years of brain washing and conditioning…while those same White Supremacists hunt him down for killing their leader.

A modern day mob boss starts going to therapy after the pressures of his life cause a panic attack and blackout episode.

Two learned gentlemen discuss the role men have in conquering our culture’s ingrained misogyny and sexism.

Friend of the show and fellow educator Caitlin Hofert joins us today for a tricky, sticky subject: Toxic Masculinity. Timely!

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: Wizard-themed pop-up bar in Milwaukee (it’s Harry Potter with the labels scratched off)
Martha: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (2018 YA novel)
Cailtin: Whitechapel (2009 BBC television show)

Martha and Caitlin both have credentials that would fit pretty well into the episode, completely by coincidence, so let’s get right into it.

This is probably one of the most timely topics we’ve discussed on the show, and we all have Many Feelings about it, which is why we run a little bit long. Some of the questions we get into:

    1. How do the fictional stories we looked at reflect the ideas from the TED talks?
    2. How do the fictional stories we look at either celebrate or condemn the toxic environments they reflect?
    3. The Sopranos first aired in 1999 – almost 20 years ago. Do we think the attitude towards a character like Tony and what he represents has shifted in our pop cultural landscape?

Caitlin also tells us a bit about how she approaches this topic with her students, which delights Martha, who also gets to tell a bit about how toxic masculinity and related attitudes seeps into her job.

 

 

Next week is a follow-up, a part two, a continuation if you will: we’re going from toxic masculinity to Anti-Heroes in pop culture. Joining us for his on-air debut is Mr. Martha Sullivan himself, Bill Sullivan!

Your homework for April 25:

Martha: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (2008 thriller)
Pete: The Maltese Falcon (1941 film directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor)
Bill: Dredd (2012 action opus directed by Pete Travis and starring Karl Urban and Karl Urban’s Chin and also Olivia Thirlby)

Find Pete on Twitter @piko3000, and find Martha on both Instagram AND Twitter @magicalmartha. Follow us online @DYDYHpodcast, e-mail us at show@homeworkpodcast.com, and find us on Facebook.

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in extra credit

Some More Favorites from 2017

(Written by Martha S.)

I touched on the fact that the things that usually make my Top Ten end of the year lists are some combination of things that I think were best, and also things that are my favorites, and somewhere in the Venn diagram of those things is the top ten I eventually summon. The point is, the things that are best are not always the things that I love, since I occasionally have trash taste and also will prioritize things that give me feelings over things that are technically excellent (IT was a very good example of this).

Logan, for example, on Pete’s list, was probably one of the ten best films of the year – but I did not leave that theater desiring to ever watch it again, because it was so exhausting and such a raw experience. I recognize that it is a stellar film (because the Academy won’t, amiright), but I would rather watch Wonder Woman ten more times.

I realize this makes me seem like a lazy consumer, and in many ways, I am – which is not to say I don’t enjoy being challenged by media, but rather that the structures under which I want to revisit something are more specific than wanting to study something in-depth.

ALL OF WHICH IS TO SAY, that here are some other truly excellent things I experienced this year, which did not make it into my list for the episode, but that I would like to give credit to.

The Shape of Water, film, directed by Guillermo del Toro
I am leading with this because if I had seen it before we recorded the episode, it would have bumped something off my list. It is a truly excellent, beautiful movie that cares about as much for logic as a Grimm’s fairy tale, which is to say, not at all. Sally Hawkins gives a lyrical performance, and I have been describing it to people as “Think about if Beauty & the Beast and The Creature from the Black Lagoon had a film baby,” and I stand by that.

Turtles all the Way Down, book, written by John Green
John Green is a hard author for me to talk about as an adult human because I can see so desperately what his appeal is for teenagers, I simply came to him too late in my life to be truly enraptured by his “talk like tiny adults” teenage protagonists. TATD suffers from this greatly, but it is also an incredibly raw, relateable story about someone dealing with crippling anxiety and OCD, and I approve of the conversations it inspired in my teen book club.

Rick and Morty, s3.07: “The Ricklantis Mixup,” tv episode written by Dan Guterman and Ryan Ridley
The fanbase for Rick and Morty may be terrible, but the show has reached some truly transcendent moments, and I particularly enjoyed this Lord of the Flies-esque diversion into Citadel life. Politician Morty is superior to Pickle Rick, don’t @ me.

Brooklyn Nine Nine and The Good Place
The biggest reason I didn’t include any episodes of Brooklyn Nine Nine or The Good Place on my list were simply that I couldn’t pick just one, and I wanted to get granular and stay consistent. But both of these shows have delivered consistently excellent, intensely watchable tv, particularly TGP 2.02 (“Dance Dance Resolution”), 2.05 (“Existential Crisis”), and B99 5.04 (“HalloVeen”), 5.09 (“99”), and 5.10 (“Game Night”).

All the Crooked Saints, book, written by Maggie Stiefvater
I am still a bit unsure about how I feel about this book! As a reading experience, it is excellent: it is whimsical, emotional, fun to read. However, it is a very Hispanic story about Hispanic people using Hispanic culture, written by….a white lady. I haven’t been able to find any quotes or writing by Stiefvater about the research process for this book, or who she did or did not consult while writing it, but my kneejerk reaction is that this is a bit what people are talking about when they talk about cultural appropriation: was Stiefvater’s voice the best voice to tell this story? Is this her story to tell?

Release, book, written by Patrick Ness
Patrick Ness wrote one of my favorite books in the universe (The Rest of Us Just Live Here) and I think it is an UTTER TRAGEDY that it has not been turned into a CW show about beautiful teenagers making terrible life decisions. That said, I truly loved about 70% of Release – the other 30% was a fairly obtuse fairy tale interweaving between the story of one summer day in not-quite-out Adam Thorn’s life, and I am still not quite sure what the relationship between those two stories is.

Thor: Ragnarok, film, directed by Taika Waititi
It was good! I had a lot of fun! It was also super dumb? Not in a writing or humor way, because I actually thought most of the humor was delivered excellently; the story, however, makes NO sense, and a lot of my favorite bit players from earlier Thor chapters were tossed aside very unceremoniously, which I did not appreciate.

Posted in episodes

Episode 20: Masks

The homework for the episode:
Pete: Mother Night, 1961 novel by Kurt Vonnegut
Martha: Hannibal, episodes 1.01 (“Aperitif”), 1.07 (“Sorbet”), and 1.10 (“Buffet Froid”)
Mark: Enigma, graphic novel by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo published by Vertigo Comics in 1995

We are joined for this episode by friend of the show and Pete’s brother, Mark Rhomberg! Welcome, Mark!

We’re back to our metaphorical roots, examining plot and character elements in our discussion of Masks. We look at them both literally and figuratively, and there may or may not be a round of patting each other on the back for not assigning any straight forward superhero stories (although we still manage to talk about Batman, because, well, duh).

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: Revolutions podcast, hosted by Mike Duncan
Martha: Monster Factory on YouTube, a Polygon production
Mark: Take Care, 2011 album by Drake

If Martha seems detached and quiet during this segment, it’s because her internet kept dropping her from the Skype call. Awkward! She joins in long enough to talk about the piece of pop culture she’s ACTUALLY excited about, her brand new MoviePass (although she’d be more excited about it if it would actually work!). Pete gets down with history and everyone gets to chastise Martha for not being able to recall any Drake music.

You may have noticed we had no pre-reading post up before this episode – that is an accident of busyness, and nothing more! The big questions we address in this episode:

  1. What is the impetus a character might don a mask, and what function does that mask serve? What are the literal and figurative masks our characters wear?
  2. How do these characters get “lost” behind their masks (if, in fact, they do)?
  3. How does the idea of wearing a mask assist a character function in society when they might not otherwise be able to do so, by being their “true” selves?

We also touch briefly on the pros and cons of wearing a mask, how that can be used as a defense mechanism, and the central issue posed by Vonnegut in the introduction to Mother Night: “We are who we pretend to be.”

Our theme was inspired by a tumblr post by Neil Gaiman, which we discuss and which can be found here. The Wonder Woman page can be read here; it’s a page from Wonder Woman Annual #1, written by Greg Rucka and art by Nicola Scott and Liam Sharp.

We don’t get into a lot of detail, so for anyone who didn’t read Enigma, our discussion probably gets a little confusing – in brief, the reader finds out that the title character was basically abandoned down a well for most of his life where he developed psychic powers, lived off lizards, and never learned human feelings. When he is found by the world, he adopts the guise of this esoteric comic character in order to have some kind of purpose that isn’t just psychically manipulating lizards or his mom.

On November 22, we’re doing something a little lighter and going guest-less to talk about some of our favorite media to consume around the holidays. Your homework is to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas because it will probably come up!

Follow us online @DYDYHpodcast, e-mail us at show@homeworkpodcast.com, and find us on Facebook.

You can follow Mark on twitter @MARKRHOMBERG. Check out his awesome bars Splash Studio and Nine Below if you’re ever in Milwaukee.

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in classroom connections, episodes

Episode 19: Sound & Music

The homework for the episode:
Pete: Blade Runner, 1982 film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford
Martha: American Horror Story: Asylum, season 2, episode 10, “The Name Game”
Dan: Mulholland Dr., 2001 film directed by David Lynch and starring Naomi Watts

We get technical this week as we examine the ways that sound, music, and silence are used in various forms of visual media. Our guest for the episode is Dan Karlin, of SOOL Radio fame, who joins our discussion as we get into, amongst the other things, diegetic music, creating tone with sound, and how Martha gets anxious when a movie doesn’t have any score at all. It’s no accident that we’re talking about yet another Ryan Murphy joint, or that all of our media happens to be surreal in nature – truly, sound is the thread that weaves a visual story together.

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: 2017 LCD Soundsystem album, American Dream
Martha: “Love Nikki Dress Up Queen” mobile game
Dan: “Always on Time” by Ashanti and Ja Rule

Welcome, Dan!

If we had recorded a mere hour earlier, Martha could have impressed everyone with some super awesome podcast she was listening to on her commute home – instead, you get to hear her try and describe the ridiculously addictive (and just pretty ridiculous) mobile dress-up game, “Love Nikki.” Dan and Pete both share their recent musical adventures, which are on very opposite ends of the sound spectrum while also both managing to be completely rad.

We have fun getting both more technical and more interpretive than ever before, as we struggle to decipher the aural stylings of a David Lynch film (spoiler alert: not even Lynch knew exactly what he was talking about), a cult cyberpunk classic, and a moment of gothic absurdity. Some things we discuss: how music can be used to underscore or indicate tone, utilizing silence and the absence of music (not always the same thing!) as a cinematic device, and how to bring aural literacy (in addition to visual literacy) into the classroom as a teaching tool.

The quote on David Lynch’s relationship to sound design is taken from an interview with John Neff, and can be found here.

On November 8, we will be joined by none other than Pete’s brother Mark to discuss Masks. Here’s your homework:

Pete: Mother Night, novel by Kurt Vonnegut
Martha: Hannibal, episodes 1.01 (“Aperitif”), 1.07 (“Sorbet”), and 1.10 (“Buffet Froid”)
Mark: Enigma, graphic novel by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo

Follow us online @DYDYHpodcast, e-mail us at show@homeworkpodcast.com, and find us on Facebook!

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Pre-Reading

Prelude to Episode 19

(By Martha S.)

Episode 19 of Did You Do Your Homework? was fascinating for me to prep for. Music and sound are definitely an integral part of the cinematic experience for me, but I consider them as part of the whole – I don’t listen to orchestral soundtracks very often because they feel wrong to me when they’re not woven in with the visuals they accompany on screen. I tend to think that a soundtrack that’s too noticeable is a bit of a failure (not that it can’t be good music, just that the intention should be for it to be one part of the whole).

We looked at three pretty different pieces of film for this episode, including a David Lynch film, a 1980’s cyberpunk romance, and another Ryan Murphy TV episode. All three utilize sound, music and silence in fascinating ways, and I hope you’ll join us tomorrow for our discussion (joined by friend of the show, Dan Karlin!).

Your homework for tomorrow:

Pete: Blade Runner, original flavor
Dan: Mulholland Dr.
Martha: American Horror Story: Asylum, episode 10: “The Name Game”

Posted in supplementary material

Ambition: Not as Unflattering on a Lady as You Might Think

(Written by Martha S.)

Why does Macbeth get to be a tragic figure, and Lady Macbeth the maligned instigator? Why is it a common sight in rom-coms for career-driven women to get “caught” by a romantic lead? Why are ambitious women so frequently tarred as bad people in narratives?

Look, if you’ve been around the blog at all you know I’m pretty passionate about gender dynamics in media – I’ve tried to make it an episode theme, but it feels too big right now, so it’s been back-burnered until I can get a better handle on it. Until then, it’s probably where my mind is going to go most frequently following an episode, especially when we don’t get a chance to touch on it while recording. In our last episode, we did briefly light on the subject of gendered ambition: specifically, that while ambition in general is usually a negative character trope, men are more frequently allowed to be ambitious (or driven, or passionate, or goal-oriented, whatever) than women without being narratively punished for it.

Women are culturally trained to think of all other women as competition. Because the world is constantly comparing us to each other, we grow up comparing ourselves to each other, and are usually trained to find ourselves the one that’s wanting. We’re not allowed to call ourselves the best, or to find ourselves the superior one – in an environment that demands that someone be “the best.” To do so is to be branded stuck up, conceited, a bitch. Ask any girl who’s accepted a compliment on a dating app how fast that turns into “You’re not actually that pretty.”

Media is a reflection of cultural attitude. So we get narratives with harpies, with shrill wives, with backstabbing mean girls, with cold career women who just need the right man to warm them up and put a baby in them. And you get people like me, who are going to shove the opposite narrative at you in the hopes that some day, by boosting these stories, we’ll drown out the people who say that girls can’t be friends.

Without further adieu: narratives featuring girls who are ambitious and also great.

Abigail Rook in the young adult series Jackaby by William Ritter, first book published in 2014. Abigail leaves her wealthy family in England to pursue a life that encompasses more than just playing the piano, getting married, and looking pretty. She is an aspiring archaeologist who becomes an accidental assistant to a supernatural investigator. Abigail’s ambition is interesting because it grows over the course of the series – in book one, she has mostly unformed desires to do something with her life, instead of being consigned to the house. She originally goes on an archaeological dig that ends up being mostly farce, and when she realizes that, she moves on to more and bigger opportunities.

Diana Prince, also known as Wonder WomanDiana’s opening line in the 2017 film directed by Patty Jenkins is “I used to want to save the world.” Indeed, this origin story is not only about a woman dreaming of ending all war – it’s about the only woman who actually can. Her aspirations are noble and lofty, and the narrative makes it pretty damn clear that they’re attainable, as well.

Jane Grey in the 2016 novel My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. This fantastical retelling of the story of Lady Jane Grey imagines Jane as an intellectual who prefers books to boys, who would rather use a sudden political opportunity to actually improve her home country than for personal gain, and ultimately as an alive person (which is less than what history gives her, I’m afraid). Jane discovers she has a taste for ambition when her family uses her as a political pawn, only to discover that she won’t be used for other people’s purposes – no, if she is to have power, she is going to use it the way she sees fit.

Judy Hopps in the 2016 animated film Zootopia, directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore. Judy Hopps is a bunny in a big world full of predators, and she defies all expectations to become the first bunny cop in the city of Zootopia. And she does so in a montage that makes me cry every time.

Peggy Olson from the critically acclaimed 2007 tv series Mad Men, created by Matthew Weiner. From the secretary pool to ad professional in her own right, Peggy is a great example of a lady that gets her career AND her man (spoilers for the end of Mad Men, I guess). She is also an example of a character that the internet doesn’t like very much! The internet can suck it, Peggy rules.

 

 

Posted in episodes

Episode 17: Ambition

The homework for the episode:
Pete: The soundtrack to the 2016 musical Hamilton
Martha: Glee episodes 1.01 (Pilot) and 3.22 (Goodbye)
Lizzie: There Will Be Blood, 2007 film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano

The story of one of our founding fathers told in catchy hip-hop verse, chronicling his rise from nothing to his final downfall at the hands of a political rival.

A plucky group of high school students from all social cliques join musical forces to compete in show choir.

A man builds an empire in the oil-rich fields of California, in a so-called epic tale of American capitalism, greed and violence.

Pride cometh before a fall, but does ambition necessitate isolation, violence, and sacrifice? That’s the question on everyone’s minds as we explore ambitious characters from the beginnings of America, to 1900’s California, and to the halls of modern day high school. Only now am I (Martha) realizing that this is the most musical material we’ve ever covered in one episode – perhaps ambition is too large a feeling to be discussed with mere words?

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: Paradise, debut album by Knox Fortune
Martha: Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
Lizzie: Netflix original series American Vandal

Welcome, Lizzie!

Pete takes another opportunity to plug his brother’s music, but when your brother is Knox Fortune and putting out tunes like these, how can you blame him? Martha finally broke down and bought the super-sized book accompaniment to Hamilton, mostly so she can read along to “It’s Quiet Uptown” and cry a lot. Lizzie introduces us to another Netflix original series in the styles of true crime drama, which Martha immediately binged over the course of two days and can ALSO highly recommend. Anyone calling it an eight episode dick jock has thoroughly missed the point of the series, but that’s a topic for another podcast.

Today we’re talking about the potentially fatal character trait, Ambition.

  1. When we talk about characters having “ambition,” how do we differentiate that from goals or drive? Should we?
  2. Is ambition a positive or negative force in the stories we looked at?
  3. How does ambition get gendered in these narratives?
  4. What is the cost of ambition? Does ambition inherently require sacrifice or loss?

We kick things off by discussing the differences as we see them between ambition, goals, drive, passion, and greed. We diverge for a while to discuss Ratatouille, which pretty handily illustrates the shades of meaning there; we all get very emotional about Hamilton, and Lizzie and Martha get emotional over There Will Be Blood (but not really in a good way, TBH).

Other things for you to check out: Hamilton by Ron Chernow, the 2005 biography that inspired the show; the PBS documentary about the making-of Hamilton, titled “Hamilton’s America,” which you can watch on PBS.com with a WTTW Passport account

On October 11, we’re doing something a little different and diverging from our usual format to talk about Tabletop Roleplaying Games withe special guest Rachel HIlbert! Your homework for next episode is to try out an RPG if you’ve never played before – to get started, check out RPG Now for tons of free modules and rule sets.

Follow us online @DYDYHpodcast, e-mail us at show@homeworkpodcast.com, and find us on Facebook!

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Pre-Reading

Prelude to Episode 17

Episode 17 is a banger, y’all – our guest host Elizabeth Buehler joins us for a discussion on Ambition and how it drives a narrative, what it costs our main characters, and a whole bunch of other stuff (specific, I know – you’ll just have to listen to the episode!).

Some of the questions we seek to address are:

  1. When we talk about characters having “ambition,” how do we differentiate that from goals or drive? Or do we?
  2. Is ambition a positive or negative force in the homework?
  3. How does ambition get gendered in these narratives?
  4. What is the cost of ambition? Does ambition inherently require sacrifice or loss?

As a refresher, the homework for the episode is:

Pete: The soundtrack to a little 2016 musical Hamilton
Martha: Glee episodes 1.01 (Pilot) and 3.22 (Goodbye)
Lizzie: 2007 Paul Thomas Anderson film, There Will Be Blood

As always, you can reach out to us at any time with questions, comments, or ideas at show@homeworkpodcast.com; find us on Twitter @DYDYHpodcast; or chat us up on Facebook.

Posted in supplementary material

Episode 16: Follow-Up, Finally

(By Martha S.)

Good morning, all. This INCREDIBLY DELINQUENT blog post is coming to you courtesy of writer’s block, which is not an excuse – any creative worth their salt will tell you that writer’s block is for amateurs, and that true professionals will strap in and work their way through it. Let’s never mind the fact that I am not actually a professional podcaster, merely a pretender to that throne, and actually get on to the meat of the matter.

We started posting follow-up blog entries to our episodes to explore questions, topics or media that we don’t have time to cover in our hour-and-change episodes. Sometimes, those posts are easy for me to write – the topics we pick are rich, and the constraints of mortal time mean we can’t cover everything we may want to talk about in only 60 minutes. Sometimes, the topics don’t resonate with me as much; not because they’re not Good Topics, Brent but simply because every person has different things they find deeply relevant and can talk about for hours.

Clearly, “You Can’t Go Home Again” is a topic I find interesting, but not resonant, otherwise this post would have gone up on Thursday like it was supposed to and I wouldn’t be sweating like I had a list-minute school essay to write (see what I did there?). I’ve been trying to understand why that is – certainly it is an idea that I, as a 30-year-old woman who went away from college and has moved through four different apartments post-living in my childhood home, have a familiarity with. And I think I have finally come to some sort of understanding about why I find it difficult to write about: I think all stories, in some way or another, include an aspect of this, which makes it almost overwhelming to examine under a microscope.

Think of it like this: changing identity is a core theme in YA literature. Frequently, this involves our main character realizing that the things that have been familiar and comfortable to them (their home, their family, their lifestyle, their sexuality, whatever), is not actually who they are. Cue their search for themselves, whether that’s an introspective or outward search. When they find themselves, the familiar is no longer comforting. Home is no longer home.

Literally all Epic Quest stories feature YCGHA(tm). Literally all Hero’s Journey stories feature it. Any story with a character growth arc will have an element of it. Like the Hero’s Journey (or perhaps in conjunction with? Discuss in the comments), YCGHA is a pervasive theme throughout storytelling.

Where am I going with this? I’m not sure. But it’s interesting to think about, because overthinking things is what we do around here.

(To make this entry not completely a self-indulgent wankfest, here are some supplementary things to read/watch on our theme. They are all excellent stories and I hope you enjoy experiencing them, even if they give you existential angst.)

Exit, Pursued by a Bear, 2016 novel by E.K. Johnston
Firefly,
2002 TV series created by Joss Whedon
Grosse Pointe Blank, 1997 film directed by George Armitage
Outlander,
novels by Diana Gabaldon and TV series developed by Ronald D. Moore
Runaways, 2003 comic series originally by Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona
Stardust
, 1999 novel by Neil Gaiman and 2007 film directed by Matthew Vaughn

Posted in supplementary material

Episode 15 Follow-Up: Forgiveness of the Self

(Written by Martha S.)

Let’s talk about self forgiveness real quick.

One of the things we talk about at length in our last episode is whether or not granting oneself forgiveness is valid or not. We talk about forgiveness as a two-way street, and I believe some pretty strong words are used in relation to Briony seeking to forgive herself for the lies she told during Atonement. I will admit to you now, dear readers, that I don’t remember what side of the argument I came down on in the episode; if I was against the concept, I am now revealed to you as a fraud and charlatan, because I’m about to talk to you about narratives that hinge on self-forgiveness as a means of character growth.

I recently finished listening to We Were Liars by E. Lockhart on audiobook, which was a fascinating listening experience, as the story unfolds in fits and starts as Cadence, the main character, recovers her memories of a summer previous when something terrible happened (but no one will tell her what). She has returned to the island owned by her grandfather, which serves as a family summer destination, to spend the summer with her three best friends before they start leaving for college. The only thing is, as the summer progresses and Cadence’s memories return, you (the reader) realize that not only did something horrible happen, but that Cadence was the cause of it – and only by remembering and acknowledging what she did, and forgiving herself for it, can Cadence move on from it.

Here is where that difference between forgiveness and absolution comes in as well, I think – Cadence forgiving herself for what she did does not absolve her blame or guilt, but at least puts her in a position where she can recover mentally from what happened (in the case of We Were Liars, the tragedy was an accident caused by rashness and foolhardiness, and whether or not Cadence forgives herself, this doesn’t change – what CAN change is whether or not she learns from, and moves on from, the accident).

In Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner (one of my favorite emerging YA talents – his superb debut novel The Serpent King won the Morris Award last year for best debut novel by a new author in the YA world), Carver Briggs is dealing with the fact that his three best friends died in a car accident probably caused by one of them answering a text from him while driving. While I as an adult human can look at that and say “It is not your fault, Carver, for sending that text – your friend should not have been texting and driving, that was a choice he made without you,” Carver is a teenager without such insight and spends the novel trying to reconcile his continued existence while his friends are buried one by one. He seeks to be able to forgive himself, while pursuing the forgiveness of the families of his friends.

Did you think I wouldn’t find a way to link in Hannibal? YOU THOUGHT WRONG, DEAR READER. (Honestly, it was either this or Supernatural, since those shows encompass so very many of my favorite storytelling tropes.) Season 3, episode 2, “Primavera,” largely deals with Will Graham coming to terms with the fact that he’s willing to forgive Hannibal for the events of the past two seasons – I like this example because the forgiveness itself isn’t in doubt, simply Will’s acceptance of that within himself.

Last, for something I haven’t figured out how to work into conversation about seventeen thousand times, consider the movie Captain America: Civil War. One could argue that many, nay, all of the events in that film are the result of Tony Stark seeking a way to forgive himself for the events of Age of Ultron. He sees a way to moderate his guilt about creating a homicidal AI that destroyed a country by yoking the superhero group he’s been kind of de facto in charge of for two movies to a larger governing body. He may as well be screaming “Please love me again, I promise I’m a good boy.”

I would also argue that he never figures out how to forgive himself in this particular film, which is why he can’t fully commit to Cap’s side of the argument. But forgiveness is a process, whether it’s facilitated by oneself or someone else.