John Oliver: The Key to getting Millenials to give a Shit

Thea Baldwin

One thing I have noticed about my generation is, when it comes to politics, we are full of indifference. I believe a lot of this is because today’s problems are not only depressing, but also incredibly confusing. To make matters worse, today’s politicians are just a dimension away from being cartoon villains, and our government seems only a little bit better than completely fucked.

HBO’s Last Week Tonight, I believe, is the show Millennials need in order to start caring about our country’s problems. It breaks down complicated issues and remains fairly bipartisan, so that, unless you believe your party can do no wrong, you can usually get behind what he is saying. In short, Oliver takes the good things from the Comedy Central news shows (The Daily ShowThe Colbert Report), but fixes a lot of the problems. John Oliver doesn’t spend time railing against the stupidity of news panels or political parties, but instead attacks who and what he believes is responsible for the problem at hand.

He also covers ongoing stories that are fairly ignored in the mainstream media because they have been proclaimed, “too heavy,” or, “ too dull,” to report on extensively.

Things like:

How fucked up the death penalty is. How fucked up our prisons are. How fucked up the system keeping track of our nuclear warheads is. How fucked up our nutritional supplement regulations are. How fucked up our food label regulations are.

 You might wonder, “Wow, that’s some heavy shit. How does a comic even begin to make it funny?” That is the genius behind the show. Oliver’s rants never come off as angry. He presents the information and acts just as astounded as the audience at how almost comically horrible the problem is. He throws in humorous comparisons to the problems such as comparing the United States to a t-rex, and that the nuclear weapons are the t-rex arms, “They are essentially useless, and you are plenty scary enough without them.”

While sharply criticizing dictators and monarchies, he also makes fun of them in the most humanizing way possible. He illuminated the tyrannical dictator of Syria as this weird dude who was supposed to be an ophthalmologist and listens to pop songs like, “Sexy And I Know It” and, “I’m Too Sexy.”

Because John Oliver focuses on the ignored current events that aren’t going away any time soon, anyone, even someone who is over politics, can learn a lot from this show and get a good laugh in at the same time. And I promise it is absolutely hysterical. There has yet to be an episode that I have not laughed my ass off throughout the entire episode.

So, my fellow Millennials, let’s ditch that irritating stereotype we have of being an uninformed and indifferent generation, and start giving a shit. John Oliver won’t, of course, provide all the answers, but it’s a damn good place to start. 

Advertisements

Get Off your High Horse! No One is too Old for Animation.

Thea Baldwin

Imagine this: Someone makes a burger- but not just any burger. They spent years in culinary school to learn how to create this fresh ground chuck, expertly seasoned, stuffed and topped with unique and fresh ingredients that work together like Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. People who appreciate and understand burgers say it’s the best burger they’ve ever had.  But there is a portion of people that insist, based on that the mere fact that it is a burger, that it is only for people who like McDonalds and immediately lose interest. 

This is how I feel about people, (everyone from my friends, to the fucking academy voters!!!) refusing to acknowledge animation as a valid form of entertainment, because they’re “just kid movies.”  This is insulting and ignorant considering the amount of effort and time put into these films. Yes, kids generally appreciate animation over other genres, but that doesn’t automatically make animation juvenile or not worthy of our consideration.

On average a major studio animation film can take anywhere from 3 to 7 years to finish. This is because the work, on everything from the writing to the visuals, that goes into an animated film is incredibly complicated and detail oriented.

Merida’s hair, from Brave, was one of the trickiest parts of creating the film, and took almost three years to get it right.  Pixar actually had to internally release a new simulator to make her hair curly, but also flowy and light. And the results were beautiful.

In The Lego Movie, the animators painstakingly analyzed every characteristic of the Lego pieces to make sure it looked like a stop motion film. They animated scratches, grooves, and even dust particles to make the pieces look used and played with. They also built the set on software that mimicked authentic Legos, so the software didn’t allow you to connect two Legos that couldn’t be connected in real life.  

In How to Train Your Dragon, the filmmakers traveled to different locations like the Pacific Coast and Iceland to inspire their creation of the story’s setting .The co-director Dean DeBlois stated in his notes he wanted to create a place that was, “a balance between a place that would be very hard-going if you lived there, and somewhere that you would absolutely want to visit – just because you know that the sights and the sensations of standing there, on those windblown cliffs, with the raging sea, would be unbelievable.”

These are just three examples of how much care and thought is pumped into these movies.  Do you think this many fucks were given to a movie like Transformers?  3 HOURS OF COMPLETE CONFUSION, RACISIM AND FLAT CHARACTERS, YET DARK OF THE MOON STILL GROSSED $352,358,779. Ugh.

A quote from Pixar Studios sums up why every well executed animated movie deserve respect:

“We are world builders, who must first imagine everything in the world, and how it differs from the world we all know and why it differs and how much. We are character creators and must imagine characters that live beyond the frame and framework of the film, dimensional characters with desires and wishes and will. We are storytellers who must find an engaging way to bring the story’s problem to life on the screen, presented as action, not description.”

If you take the time to really watch a successful animated film, it’s difficult to come up many criticisms that justify it being not worth watching or, “just for kids.” These movies are absolutely stunning visually, and the storytelling is unique, fun, interesting, and always has the potential to bring a smile to your face. So please, ditch your preconceived ideas and embrace animation for what it truly is- an all-inclusive form of art.

In Defense of the Millennials’ Music

Thea Baldwin

If you have an Internet connection and some free time, you can hit up hundreds of sites that are great for finding new music. The best part about this availability is the amount of diverse genres that have sprouted up. There’s actually a genre called “Noisecore.” And it sounds exactly as you’d expect.

So with so many creative and interesting musicians out there, my spirit falls a little when I hear someone around my age (20s) go “I just listen to top 40.” Or worse yet, when I hear an older person beating the same dead horse that every elder says about the younger generations’ music, “Today’s music is so shallow. Why isn’t the music exactly like the music I listen to? What’s the point of trying new things if it isn’t going to sound just like Simon and Garfunkel? Shmer shmer shmer.” 

I have a theory that the former feeds the ladder. AND HERE’S THE THING. Today’s music isn’t shallow. It’s just that the Top 40 of today serves a different purpose than it used to. Before the Internet really took off, radio was THE source for music unless your town had a great local music scene. So the artists that hit the radio were probably genuinely some of the better artists of that time. Not saying great artists didn’t slip through the cracks, but I can see why Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Buddy Holly, etc. etc. made it big time. Nowadays, we don’t need the radio to discover music, and for the most part, the most talented artists don’t necessarily create the biggest hits. Most of the Top 40 seems to be driven by our party culture. And it does a GREAT job. Generally, the sound is simple, has relatable lyrics, and is incredibly catchy.  As much as I love The Avett Brothers, when I’m drunk off my ass at a club I just wanna dance and jam out to a chorus I can learn in 30 seconds.

Sometimes the more unique a sound is, the less popular it is. That’s why 19.7 million (based off Twitter followers) people flock to the typical happy, poppy sound of One Direction, versus 780 thousand people who flock to the heavier PopCore/Pop Punk sound of A Day To Remember. Does this mean One Direction is better? I would (strongly) argue no. But One Direction has a well-received sound that’s been popular since the late 80’s, versus A Day To Remember who are one of the firsts to combine pop punk and hardcore sounds successfully.

This is why I would ask both my fellow Millennials and our elders to please stop judging today’s music strictly off Kiss FM.  But I’m not trying to be that holier-than-thou hipster either. I’m encouraging music enthusiasts to give up the endless hatred and elitist feelings towards the Top 40’s, and accept it for what it is: great party music. And maybe even just be a little less critical overall.  I’m also encouraging “Beliebers,” “Directioners,” “Swifites,” etc. to explore your musical interests beyond the Top 40 list for your own personal growth and enjoyment.

Because at what point are you not even enjoying the idea of music anymore if you’re so picky you can only listen to one or two genres? It’s like the food critic in Ratatouille. He was a way happier dude once he stopped being a pretentious asshole. So let’s find artists on Twitter with less than 50K followers, buy $15 tickets for those up and coming acts in your hometown, but still squeal with joy when Ke$ha comes on the radio (okay that might just be me, but still). Together we can represent the vastness of our generation’s musical tastes.

Why you should both Watch and Read Orange is the New Black: Part 2

Thea Baldwin

During my two seasons of binge watching the original series Orange is the New Black, produced by Jenji Kohan (creator of Weeds), I was constantly filled with a clusterfuck of anger, pity, and laughter throughout the show.  And like a preteen chasing drama, I was hungry for more. I discovered that the series was based off a book, also titled Orange is the New Black, written by Piper Kerman (real-life Piper). It was nice to have both the real account of Piper’s story alongside with the fictional story. Both the book and the TV show blur the line between yourself and prison inmates and shows that people in prison are often times normal, decent people who made one bad decision and drew a bad hand.  Both are also effective in illuminating how terrible government run programs can be if ignored. If you have any doubts on starting either one, or both, here is my attempt to convince you to give them a chance.

As many show-watchers know, Piper Chapman can be a very frustrating character and often causes me to yell WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING at the TV in response to her dumb decisions. So reading the book was a pleasant change. Not only did I realize that Piper is actually a real person, I realized she is actually a decent, thoughtful and strong person. Unlike the show, the book is entirely an inward struggle of her learning the culture of prison, while also dealing with the constant frustrations of a poorly run system. Although the show also covers problems inmates deal with, there is something chilling about reading an actual account of fuckups by COs, administrators and just the government in general. 

Despite the frustrations with the system, it is inspiring to see someone actively try to make themselves better in a bad situation. Anyone in her situation could have blamed everyone except themselves, and held on to their anger and sadness. Piper Kerman stayed zen-like calm most of the time and took responsibility for her own life.  The book highlights her creating new relationships and cherishing her old ones. She had a steadfast focus on improving her body as well as her mind, and always seemed to practice gratefulness to every act of kindness she received, and in turn tried to give out as many acts of kindnesses to others.

The book is very compelling, well written, and contains no slow chapters that you have to “get through.”  It is uplifting, interesting, yet bothersome. Bonus: it’s a quick read! I finished it in about 3-4 days.

Book Synopsis: Piper Chapman/Kerman participated in a drug operation with her girlfriend in her early twenties. She eventually got scared, ended things with her girlfriend and went home.  She put the past behind her and 10 years later she’s in a happy relationship and enjoying her career. Unfortunately her past comes back to haunt her, and she goes on trial for a crime she committed 10 years ago. She is sent to prison to serve a 13 month sentence. Being a white, educated, middle-class woman she stands out among many of the inmates and faces a lot of challenges while trying to carve a place for herself in the community. Through out her journey she meets an array of woman who all have their own interesting pasts.

Why you should both Watch and Read Orange is the New Black: Part 1

Thea Baldwin

During my two seasons of binge watching the original series Orange is the New Black, produced by Jenji Kohan (creator of Weeds),I was constantly filled with a clusterfuck of anger, pity, and laughter throughout the show.  And like a pre-teen chasing drama, I was hungry for more. I discovered that the series was based off of a book, also titled Orange is the New Black, written by Piper Kerman (real-life Piper). It was nice to have both the real account of Piper’s story alongside with the fictional story. Both the book and the TV show blur the line between yourself and prison inmates and shows that people in prison are often times normal, decent people who made one bad decision and drew a bad hand.  Both are also effective in illuminating how terrible government run programs can be if ignored. If you have any doubts on starting either one, or both, here is my attempt to convince you to give them a chance.

My favorite part of the show is how the characters are handled because you get to see the back-stories of most of the characters. And of course, every character is insanely fascinating. A lot of them individually highlight flaws with our system, such as clearly needing therapy instead of jail time, or purposefully getting thrown back into prison because they were borderline homeless once they were released. Then there are the characters who are always making you unsure if they are good people or not, due to their variety of actions that vary from reprehensible, to genuinely kind. There is a nice range of absolutely horrible to wonderful people on the show which isn’t necessarily what you’d expect in a show about prison inmates.

Another strength is how diverse the cast is. There are men, woman, lesbians, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, transgenders, old and young. And unlike shows like Game of Thrones where even the supposedly unattractive characters have chiseled jaws, tiny waste lines, symmetrical features and sculpted abs, the cast of Orange is the New Black has the normal range of body types and facial features, which makes the whole environment relatable. It would actually be nice if more TV shows followed suit and realized no one is going to respond with, “EW. NORMAL LOOKING PEOPLE? How am I going to struggle with my body image now??”

I also appreciate the comedy element the writers threw in. Of course with this subject matter it can get depressing, but it never gets Sarah-Mclachlin-depressing.  There is always plenty of comic relief, making it the perfect dark, dramedy.

Show Synopsis: Piper Chapman/Kerman participated in a drug operation with her girlfriend in her early twenties. She eventually got scared, ended things with her girlfriend and went home.  She put the past behind her and 10 years later she’s in a happy relationship and enjoying her career. Unfortunately her past comes back to haunt her, and she goes on trial for a crime she committed 10 years ago. She is sent to prison to serve a 13 month sentence. Being a white, educated, middle-class woman she stands out among many of the inmates and faces a lot of challenges while trying to carve a place for herself in the community. Through out her journey she meets an array of woman who all have their own interesting pasts.