NGUYEN | ‘The Last Airbender’: A Case Study on Tokenism

this isn’t a singular issue confined to The Last Airbender. A coming-of-age film isn’t diverse because it pairs a white protagonist with a black best friend. Including the stereotype of a “gay best friend” doesn’t automatically equate to LGBTQ+ representation. Strategically placing a person of color onto a promotional pamphlet isn’t diversity if there aren’t institutional changes that tend to all students.

NGUYEN | Is Environmentalism Futile?

When I first learned about climate change, I learned it as fact. (To contextualize: I grew up in California.) I remember folding my legs in criss-cross-applesauce as I watched my fifth-grade science teacher uncap a neon green Mr. Sketch marker (you know, the ones that scream “lime-scented” from ten feet away) and outline a diagram of the greenhouse effect. Mrs. Weber, who we secretly referred to as The Weberbug, explained it in elementary-school terms. The greenhouse effect is like a comforter, she said. When you throw a comforter on, the blanket traps your body heat, warming up anything bound within. Simple as that.

NGUYEN | Down With Fake Philanthropy!

I wiped graham cracker crumbs from my lips and gulped down one last gooey mouthful of marshmallow and chocolate as I traipsed down the Slope. It didn’t taste very good. I continued to distance myself from the Arts Quad on my descent to West Campus — and yet, I still couldn’t shake the saccharine aftertaste that the s’more left behind. Supposedly, I had consumed the s’more in the name of service. Realistically, my only takeaways were sticky fingers glued together by melted marshmallows and a $6 charge on my Venmo account.

NGUYEN | Rain, Rain … Maybe Don’t Go Away

“It was a dark and stormy night …”

In just seven words, this string of text paints a vivid picture. A familiar image instantly materializes in our minds: a torrential downpour of ceaseless raindrops, set against a dreary backdrop of darkness. We recognize this archetypal setting as the precursor to a twisted tale of tragedy and melodrama. It establishes an expectation of mystery, of doom — a big, bad something looms ahead. When I first stumbled onto Cornell as a freshman, anxiety weighed down my every timid step across the hallowed grounds.

NGUYEN | Instagram Removing Likes Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

I initially downloaded Instagram on my hefty anchor of a first-generation iPad. I remember the beginnings of the social platform well: its tan camera logo adorned with a rainbow stripe, its unflattering in-app photo filter options, its young userbase experimenting with this novel concept of “social media” for the first time. But since its introduction to the world in Oct. 2010, Instagram has been through a lot of changes, from countless user interface upheavals to a notorious $1 billion acquisition by Facebook. Nevertheless, Instagram has thrived in its popularity among youths — and as a result, it’s strengthened its hold on youth culture.