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GUEST ROOM | Girl on the Road: Female Sexuality as Power in American Honey

In Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, a teenage girl named Star leaves behind a troubled home life to join a group of kids who travel across the Midwest selling magazines. This film sets out to tell the story of adolescent camaraderie on the road; it ends up an important contribution to road narratives that does justice to female sexuality in a way rarely seen before. In the beginning of the film, Star and two children stand on the side of the road sticking out their thumbs for passing cars. When no one will pick them up, Star yells in exasperation, “Are we invisible?” If women and children are seen as in need of help at any locus of society, that perceived helplessness is amplified when one is a woman or a child (both, in Star’s case) on the road. The vulnerability of women on the road is a reality that renders people like Star invisible to passersby.

COURTESY OF NPR

ALUR | Tiny Desks and Tank and the Bangas

The Tiny Desk concert series is a favorite of mine. I routinely turn to NPR Music’s YouTube channel when I’m in need of something new to listen to. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the series, the host of NPR Music’s “All Songs Considered,” Bob Boilen, created Tiny Desk Concerts as a way to host and record live performances. They take place at NPR Music’s office in D.C., and over the past 9 years, the series has featured musicians from a wide range of genres and levels of fame. I’ve been watching Tiny Desks for several years now, and I’ve seen some of my long time favorites (Death Cab for Cutie, Lianne La Havas) perform from behind Bob Boilen’s desk, as well as discovered some incredible new artists through the series.

COURTESY OF HBO

STANTON | Try Different Jokes

Comedians love to talk about themselves. So much so, in fact, that one imagines them going out of their way to have noteworthy experiences in life just for the sake of writing new material. This real-time autobiography is an essential part of the craft, as the rules of modern stand-up dictate that comics have to reveal an embarrassing experience in every set, or at least throw a few self-deprecating pokes at their own neuroses. Whether he intended to birth an undying format or not, Jerry Seinfeld transplanted these autobiographical elements of comedy culture into his TV show, resulting in one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. For apparent lack of inspiration, every comedian in the game seems determined to do the exact same thing.

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JONES | A Love Letter to SPIN Magazine

In junior high school my uncle bought me a subscription to Rolling Stone for my birthday, and I read its bimonthly pages like they were the gospel of popular music. Rolling Stone was the end-all authority on music, the paper of record for music journalism: it didn’t seem to decide so much as know what was good. There’s a reason I felt this way at the time. Rolling Stone has lost most of its cultural significance, but it somehow remains a powerful brand. Even Pitchfork, which is much more influential among millennials, doesn’t hold the kind of brand-cache that Rolling Stone does.

COURTESY OF DREAMWORKS TELEVISION

SWAN | On Freaks and Geeks and Music

I would like to initiate this piece by making the rather bold assertion that Freaks and Geeks is a most profound creative portrayal of white, suburban and American high school life. Although it was tragically cancelled after its first season, it has surely attained cult-classic status. Yet, for those of you who do not know about this masterpiece of American television culture, Freaks and Geeks takes place in 1980 Michigan, and follows student Lindsay Weir in her attempt to abandon her confining, “mathlete” persona and hang around the burned-out group of “freaks” in her high school. This is not some desperate call for attention, or a problem that needs resolving, but rather an act of personal expression on the part of Lindsay. This is perhaps the thesis of the entire show; that youthful expression is both liberating and emotionally healthy, and it is crucial that young people surround themselves with accepting peers in the process.

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ALUR | Exercise, HGTV and Emo Melodies

Let me preface this piece by saying that my recent columns have been very politically driven, and I’m ready for a break. Every news story I read makes me cringe, so today I’m going to attempt to deliver some lighter writing. Here’s to hoping I succeed. I’ve been going to the gym more often lately. It’s a nice break from my academic life and it gives me something to do in those awkward hours in the middle of the day.

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CHAZAN | The Revolution Will Not Have Shoulderpads: Image Comics 25 Years Later

One of the largest comics publishers has reached a milestone anniversary this year. Image Comics, now in its 25th year, also happens to be experiencing of its most successful years ever. Initially a major driver of the speculation boom in the early ‘90s comics market, Image has recently reached the pop culture zeitgeist again with numerous bestselling titles which put most of Marvel and DC’s output outside the box office to shame. Image has represented very polarizing ideals in the comics scene over the years, a seeming contradiction in the direct market paradigm. On one hand, they have represented the utter absence of artistry in the mainstream, the muscle-bound inanity and collector’s items of the late nineties boom and bust at their most abject.

COURTESY OF FOX ANIMATION

GOLDFINE | 10 Movie Performances That Deserve an Oscar More than a Sexual Predator

On Sunday Night, Casey Affleck stood on the stage of the Oscars wearing a very nice suit with and a very nice beard and a very nice ACLU ribbon on his jacket, and accepted the Academy Award for Best Actor. A great number of journalists have written detailed accounts of Affleck’s sex crimes of intimidation, harassment and physical assault against Amanda White and Magdalena Gorka on the set of his 2012, I’m Still Here. You can read the entirety of Gorka’s lawsuit here, and an excellent analysis of the controversy here. Whether or not you knew that Casey Affleck was a sexual predator, the members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences assuredly did, and still decided that his profoundly ok performance as a very sad janitor was worth more than women’s dignity. Personally, I am still waiting to see a film so good that it is worth legitimizing sexual violence in order to reward it; a movie more compelling than my own humanity.

COURTESY OF COLUMBIA

STANTON | Bruce Springsteen, Chris Christie and Unrequited Love

All your favorite artists are problematic. It’s an obvious statement, but one that resurfaces on social media in the wake of most every celebrity scandal, from Kanye’s vocal support of Donald Trump to Azaelia Banks’ apparent Twitter crusade against any and all forms of human decency. Of course, with other artists the crimes prove more unforgivable, inviting armchair critics everywhere to try and reconcile good art’s occasional tendency to come from bad people. Skillful deflections and self-justifications on this topic range from “Only a troubled mind could have made this!” to the more nihilistic “Everything is terrible; we might as well enjoy the music”. It’s an exhausting debate, and one that seems to affirm the sad truth that people will always do what they can to avoid feeling guilty in their indulgences.

COURTESY OF DISNEY

GOULDTHORPE | One Year After Gravity Falls, I Look Back Fondly

On June 15, 2012, I remember watching the premiere for a new Disney cartoon titled Gravity Falls. It was pretty wacky and funny, and had a twist that actually made me raise my eyebrows. But again, it was a Disney cartoon, and after a few episodes I shrugged it off. It was definitely better than anything else on Disney Channel at that time, yet it wasn’t anything special, right? On February 15, 2016, I remember watching the finale for Gravity Falls.