O’BRIEN | Cis People Telling Trans Stories: Questioning ‘Trans Visibility’ in the Media

March 31 was Transgender Day of Visibility. Intuitively, the media industry is in a better place than just a few years ago when it comes to trans visibility; in 2015, The Danish Girl was nominated for multiple Oscars, and Transparent for several Emmys. Yet, critiques of these media representations by trans writers and activists reveal that the narrative of representation and progress is not so simple: though there is an increase in the depiction of trans stories, they are still overwhelmingly being told by cis people. In a media landscape where, according to a media-monitoring report by GLAAD, 53 percent of depictions of trans characters since 2002 have been negative, and a large chunk of the rest involve typecasting characters in victim or sex worker roles (who, it’s important to note also deserve to have their stories told), clearly, the depiction of trans people on TV and movies has not been fair, accurate, or nuanced. So when we see an increase in trans characters who are complex and humanized — even as main characters in a couple works last year — it’s easy to herald those as progress.

A Conversation with Composer, Percussionist and Label Owner Sarah Hennies

Sarah Hennies is an experimental percussionist and composer who runs her own record label, Weighter Recordings. Besides recording and performing her own solo works, she plays in local percussion trio Meridian and has played in various rock bands throughout her career, existing “somewhere between the experimental world and the underground punk world.” Having moved to Ithaca two years ago from Austin, Texas, Sarah will be taking part in Ithaca Underground’s Naked Noise #7 on Saturday for the first time, playing the vibraphone. Her latest album, Gather & Release, came out on April 5.  

The Sun: Tell me about yourself as a musician, what do you do and what’s your involvement in the local music scene? Sarah Hennies:I’m a percussionist and a composer.

O’BRIEN | Kim Kardashian West: A Feminist Hero?

Last week, the Internet exploded after Kim Kardashian West posted a (censored) nude selfie taken in a bathroom mirror, captioned “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL.” Kim Kardashian West has of course appeared nude or semi-nude in plenty of platforms before. But I guess something about it being a bathroom selfie, rather than an airbrushed and well-lit magazine photo, sparked such an intense reaction. What followed was a fascinating study in the policing of women’s bodies, with moral-panic-over-female-nudity and slut-shaming abound. Besides the average run-of-the-mill Twitter outrage, the post sparked some reactions from celebrities that mostly got attention because Kim took the time to respond to them (hilariously). Piers Morgan wrote, “I know the old man’s $50 million in debt, Kim — but this is absurd.

Senior Designer Profile: Catrina Corley ’16 Talks Costume Design and Extravagance

Catrina Corley ’16 is a Fiber Science and Apparel Design major and a Theater Production minor. Hailing from Houston, Texas, Corley had a business designing costumes before coming to Cornell, and now seeks to balance extravagance and fun with everyday-wearability in her designs. The Sun spoke with Corley about Cornell, her fashion philosophy and her D.C.-inspired designs in the upcoming Cornell Fashion Collective Runway Show. The Sun: How did you get started with designing, and what made you decide that you wanted to pursue it as a career? Catrina Colrey: I got my start making costumes for science fiction fans.

O’BRIEN | #FreeKesha: Victim-Blaming and Sexual Assault in the Music Industry

Last Friday, Kesha lost her legal battle for Sony to release her from her contractual obligation to her producer, Dr. Luke. Kesha claims that Dr. Luke drugged and raped her when she was 18 years old, and that he sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally abused her over a period of 10 years. New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich ruled that she was going to do the “commercially reasonable thing” and uphold the contract, telling Kesha that Doctor Luke’s $60 million investment in her career “decimates your argument.” The judge’s denial of Kesha’s request to obtain an injunction to break her contract was a devastating blow not only to Kesha’s emotional well-being — not to mention her career — but to the ability for other people who have been victims of sexual abuse in the music industry to come forward. Sony has argued that it should be enough for Kesha that they will allow her to record music without ever having to interact with Dr. Luke. But, as her music would still be under the control of Dr. Luke’s imprint, this leaves him in a position of power over Kesha — allowing him to profit from her sales or, alternatively, to take any number of actions to use his power to continue his abuse or enact revenge.

O’BRIEN | Revisiting Gilmore Girls: A Retrospective

It’s official: Gilmore Girls is coming back for the final season that creator Amy Sherman-Palladino never got to make, Netflix confirmed Friday. Inspired by all the recent revival-induced buzz around the series, I took to nostalgically rewatching every single season during the past few months. Unsurprisingly, the series drew me in just as much as it had the first times I saw it but, also unsurprisingly, I had some different perspectives than my late middle school/early high school self did. As an English major from Connecticut at an Ivy League university who writes for the school paper and wants to be a journalist, it is hard not to identify with Rory. As a ninth grader, I pretty much wanted to be her when I grew up, without even realizing how cool it was that Rory goes on to be a reporter for Barack Obama’s campaign for an online magazine described as “a mix between Slate and the lifestyle section of The New York Times.”

Yet this time around, I was actually much more invested in Lorelai as a character.

Of Montreal: A Bizarre Celebration at the Haunt

Pre-concert, I’d have described myself as having a casual familiarity with Of Montreal’s music: I’ve listened to a couple of their albums once or twice, and there are a few songs I listen to more frequently. But seeing them live on Tuesday at The Haunt piqued my interest in the band to a whole new level: their show was just as much a theatrical performance and psychedelic experience as a concert, adding a whole new layer to my perception of them as artists. The night started with opener Surface to Air Missive, a Tallahassee-based southern rock band whose sound was pleasant and uplifting. Their crystal clear, sunshiney riffs and high vocals created a very 70s-era sound reminiscent of the Allman Brothers and the Byrds. Their collective appearance as a band was a just-rolled-out-of-bed-in-my-polo look — a casual simplicity which created all the more of a contrast once Of Montreal took the stage.

O’BRIEN | We’re So Starving: Mad Max and Feminism

Despite my general lack of enthusiasm for action movies, I was excited to finally see Mad Max: Fury Road at Cornell Cinema on Thursday. The bizarre, cult movie-like fantasy world it created was engrossing, its cinematography absolutely gorgeous and its depiction of a devastated world and a war over gas hit all-too-close to home. But I don’t think I would have enjoyed the movie nearly as much if not for its abundance of badass female protagonists. So what does that say about the movie? What does it say about me?

O’BRIEN | On Duke Freshman and Fun Home

Alison Bechdel’s memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic has been on my radar a lot lately. I first learned of it after watching the Tonys over the summer, and it was subsequently on my list of Broadway plays to see (and books to read). So when I arrived at school this fall, I was excited to see that Fun Home is actually on the booklist of one of the English classes I am taking this semester. The 2006 book is a graphic novel about Bechdel’s childhood with her controlling father, and her gradual realization that she is gay — and so is he. But Fun Home has been in the headlines this past week not because the publicity around the Broadway rendition is making people like me discover the brilliant memoir, but because some Duke freshmen are boycotting reading Fun Home for the school’s freshman summer reading project (and, I’m assuming, passing up the opportunity to see the author speak about the book at their school) on the grounds that it violates their morality.