Why an actor from 'Lord of the Rings' is worth hearing out on celebrities and politics.

"Lord of the Rings" actor Viggo Mortensen played the peace-seeking warrior-king Aragorn.

GIF from "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."


While Mortensen's life outside Middle Earth doesn't involve wielding a sword, he is a warrior for peace.

As a publisher and activist, his weapon of choice isn't cold steel — it's words.

Words reforged from the shards of Narsil, that is. GIF from "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."

In an interview with "Democracy Now!" he unsheathed a response to people who have criticized him and other American celebrities for speaking out against injustices.

Mortensen doesn't think any of us, celebrity or not, should yield to the powers that be when we know what they're doing is wrong.

GIF from "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."

Here are a few moments from the interview that cut to the heart of the matter:

Famous people are still allowed to care about things.

GIF from "Democracy Now!"

"[T]here are people who might watch this show and just say, 'Well, there's another jerk from the entertainment business shooting his mouth off.' I'm a citizen of this country. I'm a citizen of the world. ... I have as much right as anybody else to do that. How does a democracy work? How does freedom work? It works like that. People talking about what's going on."

That said, celebrities' opinions aren't worth more than anyone else's.

GIF from "Democracy Now!"

"Being someone in the entertainment business does not give you more right than anyone else to speak, and it certainly doesn't give you less right."

At the end of the day, we just have to remind elected officials that they work for all of us.

GIF from "Democracy Now!"

"[Critics say,] 'You're a movie maker, you don't have a right to speak. Let the politicians speak about politics.' Well, I think that letting our rulers decide how to govern us is not... we haven't had a great history there."

Celebrities who are vocal about politics are some of the easiest targets for public scorn.

But whether or not I agree, I'm glad for the ones who are informed, mindful of their influence, and willing to put themselves out there for what's right. Overcoming global challenges requires a global turnout to the conversation and a lot of hope in our ability to work together.

GIF from "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."

And if it takes Aragorn, High King of the Reunited Kingdom (I mean ... who better?) — or the actor and concerned citizen who portrays him, anyway — to get people talking about issues like war, imperialism, racism, and police brutality, then bring it on.

GIF from "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."

Check out part one of the interview:

For more, see parts two, three, and four.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Welp, the two skateboarding events added to the Olympics this year have wrapped up for the women's teams, and the results are historic in more ways than one.

Japan's Kokona Hiraki, age 12, just won the silver medal in women's park skateboarding, making her Japan's youngest Olympic medalist ever. Great Britain's Sky Brown, who was 12 when she qualified for the Tokyo Olympics and is now 13, won the bronze, making her Great Britain's youngest medalist ever. And those two medal wins mean that two-thirds of the six medalists in the two women's skateboarding events are age 13 or younger. (The gold and silver medalists in women's street skateboarding, Japan's Momiji Nishiya and Brazil's Rayssa Leal, are also 13.)

That's mind-blowing.

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