YANG | Thoughts from the Subway

I worked in a research lab at a university in my hometown this past summer and, for the first time in my life, experienced what it’s like to have a long commute — an hour and a half each way standing in a hot, humid, insanely crowded subway car. Most of my fellow commuters spent these long and miserable daily trips on their phones, either scrolling through Weibo (think Twitter) feeds, watching viral videos, playing online games, binging the newest hit TV series or reading trending articles on Wechat (a Chinese amalgamation of Facebook and Instagram). Hundreds of commuters with headphones on staring down at their smartphone screens was quite a sight be behold but also incredibly frustrating, especially when I had to transfer lines at one of the busiest stations downtown, and had to follow a massive crowd of people up flights of stairs to another platform, a process slowed down significantly by those who were too absorbed in their phones to even walk properly. Despite my frustration, and because social learning is a natural thing that we all do, a few days into this commuter life, I also started killing time by spending it solely on my phone, going through my Weibo feed more times than necessary, replying to comments, reading Wechat articles that I normally wouldn’t care for and, when all that was still not enough, busted out my VPN to go through Instagram and Twitter. Yet, as you may have guessed by now, aggressively working my way through every social media platform every morning and evening did not make me feel “more connected” to friends and family, all the articles I read did not make me significantly more knowledgeable in certain areas or enlighten me on social or political issues, nor did the viral funny videos make me happier.

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

LING | Eat Up!

Walking into a dark theater to watch Incredibles 2 this summer, I was excited to watch a highly anticipated sequel to a movie that had been a part of my childhood, not to be emotionally wrecked. When the customary animated Pixar short began, I gasped as the image of a squat Asian woman deftly shaping meat-filled buns on her kitchen counter filled the screen. The familiarity of the motions as well as the hunger-inducing detail of the ingredients brought to mind moments of my own childhood, moments that I hardly expected to be represented in animation before a blockbuster Pixar film. The short film, “Bao,” depicts the complex relationship between a Chinese mother and her son, a steamed bun that suddenly comes alive, from birth to rebellious adolescence. Directed by Domee Shi, a Canadian-Chinese woman, “Bao” is able to accurately capture bits and pieces of the Chinese-American experience, from a house filled with objects that can be found in every Chinese household to the pain and distance the son inflicts on his mother in his attempts to navigate assimilation.

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GUEST ROOM | The Most Beautiful Thoughts are Always Besides the Darkest

Where should we, as listeners, mainstream media consumers and socially minded citizens, stand on Kanye West? It is a question that, in today’s world, flickers in our minds about as often as “what’s for dinner tonight?.”

With every concert hall rant, tweet and piece of Kardashian-related gossip, that spotlight has only grown brighter. Often, his career as an artist is only examined superficially, as if it is second to his worldwide image as an erratic pop star. This summer, following his support for Trump on twitter and preposterous statement that 400 years of slavery “sounds like a choice,” Kanye released his G.O.O.D. Music series consisting of five albums.

So where do these five albums fall on the stage of Kardashian gossip, tweets and rant? Is it fair to evaluate Kanye’s music without the context of his personality and erratic behavior?

JONES | I Don’t Even Wanna Talk About It

I really don’t wanna talk about it, and I shouldn’t even really, so I’m barely going to. The last few weeks have been surprising, disorienting and mainly just sad for anybody who has ever admired Kanye West as a musician, artist, public figure and person who doesn’t befriend alt-right figures and espouse their disgusting revisionist histories. The music he has released during this time — while it, as usual, sounds pretty good — has either been a platform for his new, semi-incoherent ideology (“Ye vs. the People”), or a troll so broad that it begs the question of whether he’s taking any of this shit even remotely seriously (“Lift Yourself”). In the end, it doesn’t really matter all that much, at least to me, whether he actually believes what he’s been saying, or whether he just believes that he is continuing a long career of reactive, disruptive speech regardless of its content, or whether it’s all just a huge joke at the expense of everybody except for Donald Trump, Candace Owens and people who believe that 400 years of slavery were a choice.

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COLLINS | What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

I’m in the twilight of my days as a columnist for The Sun. I know that, typically, columnists will close out their time with parting words of advice to incoming first-years or graduating seniors. But, although I’ve done that in the past weeks, the fact of the matter is that I don’t have much advice to impart. Or, at least, much advice that you haven’t already heard hundreds of times, and will hear a hundred more times. Go to office hours, try out something new on campus, make sure to wear sunblock on Slope Day, etc.

Courtesy of Study Breaks Magazine

YANG | To Thine Own Self Be True

On an ordinary afternoon a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the poem “Love After Love” by Sir Derek Walcott as I was sorting through old files on my laptop. The title didn’t ring a bell at first. The file info says I had saved it over two years ago to the folder that contains poems I liked, which I also didn’t remember doing. So I opened on the file to read it, unprepared for relevancy of its words, and the clarity they would bring me. “Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart.”

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer.

A minion ascends to the throne.

GOULDTHORPE | Goodbye Sun: My Love Letter to Cinema

Last week, my editors at The Sun informed me that this was going to be my last column for the paper — and I was shocked. The Cornell Daily Sun has become such a part of my life over the past couple years. Departing is going to be a huge change… but I’m not sad about leaving. Instead, I’m glad for the time that I’ve had here. It’s given a direction to my writing skill, and I fully intend to continue Animation Analysis on my own site, GouldenBean.com.

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SWAN | This Should Be a Given

Last week, Kendrick Lamar’s Damn. won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music. This was the first time that a non-classical, non-jazz work was awarded the prize. I love Kendrick Lamar and I thoroughly enjoy Damn., but nevertheless, my reactions to this decision are mixed. Not, of course, about whether Kendrick Lamar’s work is deserving of such acclaim; indeed, the musical complexity and poetic mastery present on Damn., as well as earlier albums like To Pimp a Butterfly, warrant the utmost critical respect.

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COLLINS | Isn’t That Kind of the Point?

Graduation draws nearer every day. With the end in sight, I completed a millennial rite of passage and finished watching The Office. (I skipped swathes of the middle seasons, but we’ll conveniently forget that for now.) The last few episodes contained many anticipated surprises. Michael Scott returned right in time for Angela and Dwight’s wedding. So did Kelly Kapoor and Ryan Howard, who completed their long careers of making audiences squirm by running away and leaving Ryan’s baby in the care of Kelly’s unsuspecting husband, Ravi.

Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Marvel’s Not-So-Marvelous LGBTQ+ Representation

Anyone who knows me knows me to be a huge Marvel fan, and knows that in the past few weeks I have not stopped talking about Avengers: Infinity War. And while I’ve been marveling at how far the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come in terms of character development and universe-building in the past ten years, I also can’t stop thinking about the one thing they’ve made very little progress on: LGBTQ+ representation. To give it some context, in May of 2008, Iron Man brought about the beginning of what we know today as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). In November of the same year, California passed Proposition 8, which reinstated the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Here we are, ten years later in 2018.