Students share Netflix favorites as new seasons added

[Image retrieved from whatsonnetflix.com]

By Dalton Lord

It’s a new season, but it’s not just a different sight outdoors. New shows are premiering on television, and new seasons of veteran shows are as well. It’s also the time when Netflix brings new series and seasons to its lineup.

Seeing as how not everyone can watch prime-time shows at night, students log on to Netflix and binge a show whenever they’re available. The students at St. Bonaventure University shared what they like to watch on Netflix.

Continue reading “Students share Netflix favorites as new seasons added”

Beyonce captivates audience with Lemonade

[image courtesy of hypebeast.com]

By: Liam McGurl  @Liiiammm1996

 

Fans might think Beyoncé effortlessly handles life’s curveballs because, well, she’s Beyoncé.  But her new, highly secretive album Lemonade is visual and sonic proof that’s not the case. Even further, her latest artistic effort shatters the typical boundaries of pop music—utilizing striking visuals to accentuate an already powerful message.

Opening with the prophetic words, “The past and the present merge to meet us here…What am I doing my love,” Lemonade’s official trailer left fans unexplainably disturbed, intrigued and downright confused. The promotional video itself didn’t include an excess of Bey-focused shots; rather, it put the attention on art—with starkly contrasted visuals of peace and tranquility, juxtaposed to utter chaos and destruction.

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Banks-Palin fiasco calls for racial dialogue

[image courtesy of rollingstone.com]

By: Liam McGurl  @Liiiammm1996

 

Rapper Azealia Banks is most commonly known for her foul mouth, which she has excused by calling her verbal daggers a part of her “crass, New-York-City sense of humor.”  I’d have some serious questions for anyone who would accept such a poor excuse for vulgarities; regardless, it is likely Banks supporters would agree the 24-year-old rapper’s taken things a bit too far this time.

After a March 31 Newslo article’s release, jokingly telling that former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin said blacks “accepted [slavery] willingly,” Banks took to Twitter, voicing her thoughts on the statement.

Unfortunately for Palin, Banks’ comments were nothing short of humiliating.  Even worse for Banks, the comedy-based article was falsified.  That’s right, Palin never made the remarks in the first place, despite Banks’ all-too-real comebacks.

Continue reading “Banks-Palin fiasco calls for racial dialogue”

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Review

[image courtesy of imdb.com]

By: Liam McGurl  @Liiiammm1996

 

If you ask Gus Portokalos, Windex can fix anything.  Unfortunately, it’s going to take more than Windex to fix My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.

The sequel to the 2002 box office hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding stormed U.S. theaters on March 25, ringing in a smorgasbord of long-time Greek Wedding fans and newcomers to the Joel Zwick classic.

As expected, the Kirk Jones follow-up continued the larger-than-life Portokalo family’s story, resurrecting some of the first installment’s signature jokes—and deteriorating cast acting abilities.

Unfortunately, Greek Wedding 2‘s “comedy Bundt cake” tasted bland, juxtaposed to the original film, because of its commonplace, reunion movie set-up.

Not surprisingly, the film’s characters haven’t changed much coming into Greek Wedding 2: Toula’s still awkward (and regretfully working at Dancing Zorba’s), just as Ian’s suaveness hasn’t died down; Maria still runs the house—even if Gus doesn’t think so—and Aunt Voula is as sex-charged as ever. And there’s no shortage of prideful Greek history lessons on Gus’ behalf, too. In reality, there aren’t any jaw-droppers in the character’s 14-year progressions—with the exception of Angelo’s coming out.

The biggest, and possibly only, bombshell of the film was the elderly side of its dual, romance plot.

Greek Wedding 2 mainly focuses on Toula’s daughter, Paris, who’s landed herself in a similar situation to that of her pushover mother—grappling with her Greek identity and fighting against Gus’ persistence in helping her find a “nice, Greek boyfriend.”  Paris, an introverted high school senior, is beginning the college application process, trying to dream big while her family dreams of keeping her close to home.  Regardless, Paris’ prospect is New York University and she’s determined to push past her unavoidable familial embarrassment—which, as we saw in the first installment, turns into an appreciation for her Greek heritage.

On the other hand, though, a good chunk of the plot is focused on Gus and Maria’s relationship, troubled by differing opinions regarding the failed signing of their invalid, multi-decade-old marriage license. In typical Gus fashion, the family patriarch passes off their lacking marital status, but Maria demands that she gets a proper, Greek wedding experience. Needless to say, Maria—the “neck” to Gus’ “head”—gets her way.

Even if the elderly couple’s marriage was just a ploy to live out the film’s name, it was still the film creators’ most successful move; the couple’s marriage allowed for the introduction of Gus’ long-lost brother—no less hot-headed than he—and some familial wedding drama.  As her parents make their way to the altar, and the post-vow Baklava, Toula finally puts her own happiness first—adding some Voula-esque sex drive into her growingly monotonous relationship.

From the family’s elders’ attempts to understand modern technology—a sure headache on Toula’s part—to the recycling of Greek Wedding’s most-quoted-jokes, Greek Wedding 2 served an agreeable blend of modern nuances among traditional humor.  Even if it’s not a deservedly acclaimed addition to the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time, Greek Wedding 2 was a “good enough” follow-up, deserving of a muted “Opa!”

Iggy Azalea further damages reputation with new album

[image courtesy of celebuzz.com]

By:  Liam McGurl  @Liiiammm1996

 

Iggy Azalea has released a promotional single off her forthcoming album Digital Distortion, ironically reminding everyone why her A-list team is constantly diminishing.

“Team,” supported by borderline EDM beats, derives the majority of its power from commanding sounds, removed from Azalea’s lyricism.  As far as Azalea’s artistry on the track goes, the 25-year-old singer provided what everyone had expected: a “good enough” track.  Sonically, the song can’t be shamed.  It warrants more than just a lackadaisical foot tap or lethargic head bob because it’s undeniably aggressive—in that self-assured, Nicki Minaj sort of way (although, Minaj might not appreciate that comparison).

While its dance-inducing nature might deem it a successful comeback effort—after Azalea’s rough, 2015 career roadblocks—the track’s lyricism and lyric video pose a whole new set of issues for the Australia native.  And those roadblocks seem all-too-familiar for Azalea, who’s known to attract public disdain and media criticism.

Opening with five female dancers in the utmost intimidating poses, the technically impressive video jumps right into all the crumping and twerking that lines the nearly four-minute-long piece.

As far as the choreography goes, the video’s impressive. Featuring denim-clad male and female hip hop dancers, it breeds visual excellence all around.  The marrying of the dancer’s loose clothing and jagged movements exaggerate the already impactful choreography; they hit every mark effortlessly, affording an occasional cocky snarl or hair flip.

Despite the song and video’s invigorating sounds and visuals, there’s a concerning dynamic to the efforts, which were meant to resurrect Azalea’s career after she made some questionable, public race and sexual orientation-related remarks: it bleeds cultural appropriation.

We’ve seen these types of dance-focused videos everywhere lately: Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” Beyonce’s “Formation” and Rihanna’s “Work.” While Yonce and RiRi might have participated in the video’s choreography, it’s worth noting that Bieber didn’t.

With that being said, there stands one dividing point between the 22-year-old, Canada-native and Azalea: the success “Sorry” acquired wasn’t rooted in references to another’s culture.  While the single’s video might have displayed a few questionable twerks, it featured white dancers, without any uncomfortable mentioning of a group’s experiences or cultural norms—which Bieber is likely unversed in.

Not only did Azalea feature mainly dancers of color in her video, she also references dutty whining, a form of Jamaican head dance, singing, “Jamaican club – I’m stayin’ on the grind/ Dutty whine, don’t step on, this land mine!”  It’s a subtle statement, wedged between a reference to her financial standings and the Spanish phrase “ven aqui, andele.”

While Azalea’s Jamaican reference might not have carried any intent of cultural appropriation, the reality is that she’s used another’s cultural expressions as a means for acquiring “street cred,” something most would acknowledge benefits a rapper’s career. She’s not celebrating Jamaican culture. Rather, she’s promoting herself.

After the release of her 2011, Kendrick Lamar remix  “D.R.UG.S.,”Azalea was under fire for her racially insensitive line, “When the relay starts, I’m a runaway slave … Master, hitting on the past gotta spit it like a pastor.”  It’s an unsettling lyric, regardless of one’s race or in-depth understanding of the history behind the concept.  Azalea, intentions aside, used the deaths of countless men and women—persecuted due to an uncontrollable, genetic factor—to complete a dull rhyme.  Needless to say, a bit more creativity on Azalea’s part might have made the word-selection-process a bit easier.

In blunt terms, the line shows a lack of ethics on the “Fancy” singer’s part, valuing a catchy line over a directly offensive remark.

Considering her “D.R.U.G.S.” reference in conjunction to her mentioning of dutty whining, it seems Azalea doesn’t understand cultural boundaries, whether she’s borrowing from another’s dance style or softening a pained historic event

Only one line later, Azalea sings, “Ven aqui, andele,” meaning “Come on, hurry” in Spanish.  At face value, the line is harmless.  Considering an insensitive 2011 tweet, posted by Azalea, though, it speaks of Azalea’s cultural ignorance.  Tweeting, “Is it wrong I feel happy to hear southern accents again & not mexican ones? F*ck it. I am,” Azalea made her feelings on Mexican language—and presumably culture—abundantly clear.  Her tweet reverberates intolerance.

On the track, Azalea uses the Spanish language to finish another rhyme. Ironically, the singer seems supportive of the Spanish language when it benefits her career, but she comfortably voiced her annoyance with its accompanying accent only five years prior.  It’s a self-serving move, one of the many that have yielded Azalea a multitude of professional second chances.

Azalea has agreeably posted her racial standpoints on Twitter, allowing them to even shine through in her released tracks and mainstream interviews.  As loud as her past racial statements have been, echoing complete apathy, “Team” serves a message more blunt than ever before: it’s all about image.

Much like the common person, who isn’t broadcasted on a global scale and whose every verbalization isn’t critiqued, Azalea has made questionable remarks.  With that being said, it was expected she’d learn from her professional stumbling blocks going forward. As a well-known performer, with a net worth of nearly $6 million, Azalea had the resources to get outside, uninvolved opinions on her content before its release.  Had she taken the time to hear from listeners of color, she may have been impassioned by the unwarranted ignorance these sort of disparages breed.

No matter how upbeat “Team” may be, its cultural references serve as regressive statements—one that adds to the egoistic borrowing of one’s culture over its well-bred celebration.

Zayn Malik separates himself with Mind of Mine

[image courtesy of officialcharts.com]

By: Liam McGurl  @Liiiammm1996

 

After the release of Zayn Malik’s “Pillowtalk,” Directioners were split between their long-time-favorite boy band and its bad boy breakaway—with some taking a middle road.  Now, it’s looking like Malik will hold a fan base all his own after releasing two more successful singles off his upcoming album.

The 23-year-old singer’s first solos prior to his new album Mind of Mine teased the record with three contrasting sounds.  It was a move full of marketing genius and, surprisingly, impressive artistry.  He’s proven his diversity, a likely incentive behind his split from One Direction’s all-too-consistent sound.

At this point, virtually anyone who owns a radio has heard “Pillowtalk”—and rightfully so.  It is a major success, especially considering it’s Malik’s first promotional solo single—featuring psychedelic visual support to catchy choruses in its accompanying music video.

“It’s You,” officially written as “iT’s YoU,” making grammar fanatics cringe and conjuring roaring applause from music-lovers, gives a sound more distant from “Pillowtalk” than Malik’s relationship with 1D.  The ballad, possibly inspired by Little Mix’ Perrie Edwards, has an undeniably mature sound and message.  The track and its Apple Music video— both released on Feb. 26—are all about heartbreak and mistrust.  While heartbreak anthems are nothing new to the music industry—the lyrics lining “It’s You” serve a presumably all-too-real look at the Bradford, England, native’s specific relationship experience. It’s honest, down-to-Earth and spares us another cheesy tune—who can complain?

While “Pillowtalk” relied on catchy choruses, “It’s You” is grounded almost entirely in the single’s sentiment of self-conflict inside a failing relationship.  Singing, “I won’t, I won’t, I won’t/ Cover my scars/ I’ll let ’em bleed/ So my silence/ So my silence won’t/ Be mistaken for peace,” Malik shelves his badass reputation momentarily, letting us into his unvarnished emotional experiences.

The last album teaser, “Like I Would,” remains the least impactful release thus far—fluctuating between lethargic lulls and a funky chorus packed full of potential.  The track, released on March 10, opens with the words, “Hey what’s up, it’s been a while,” starting off on an Adele-esque note, both in lyricism and pace.  Well, that is until the buoyant chorus’ introduction, commenced with Malik shrieking, “He, won’t touch you like I do.”  It feels remarkably inconsistent compared to its preceding singles, a sure death sentence for any solo track.

In all honesty, Directioners’ reactions to the single seem to be more memorable than the actual effort behind “Like I Would.” Shortly after the song’s reveal, 1D fans took to Twitter, accusing Malik’s track of appropriating the boyband’s 2012 hit “I Would.” Regardless, Malik’s made it brilliantly clear where he stands on the group’s “generic as f*ck” sound and, so, it’s safe to say he isn’t stressing over the criticism.

Following the release of his album, Malik has established his aesthetic as a solo artist and solidified his newfound, independent reputation.

Column: Unethical jouralism practices ruin lives

By:  Liam McGurl @Liiiammm1996

(image courtesy of usmagazine.com)

 

Journalism: it’s about delivering the facts.  Well, the facts the public ought to know, that is.

Unfortunately for Lilly Wachowski, formerly Andy Wachowski, her all-too-real facts’ public release were prompted by a concoction of unethical journalism and a disregard for the face behind a potential headline.

According to Wachowski—one half of the sibling-director-duo behind the Matrix films—said her coming out process was unnaturally expedited by Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper. Wachowski alleged that the newspaper threatened to release a story exposing her transgenderism.  In an effort to share her authentic narrative, as each human deserves, Wachowski wrote an open letter for her hometown LBGTQ news source Windy City Times—somewhat unwillingly coming out as transgender.

With recent, public celebrity transitions—such as that of Caitlyn Jenner—everyone seems to have an opinion on transgenderism.  While some opinions are religiously motivated and others grounded in pure ignorance, Wachowski’s words likely hit a compassionate nerve in most readers.

“You know, when you’re living as an out transgender person, it’s kind of difficult to hide,” she said in the online publication. “I just wanted—needed—some time to get my head right, to feel comfortable. But apparently, I don’t get to decide this.”

Wachowski’s emotional admittance is nothing short of heartbreaking, mainly because of the dual issue that impelled her to come out.

First, from a journalistic standpoint, Daily Mail breached what could be called one of journalism’s golden rules: respect the privacy of innocent persons.

Wachowski—a professional woman, dedicated to her craft—deserved to tell this story on her own terms, when she was ready to face potential criticism head-on and with a sense of self-assurance.  Unfortunately, Wachowski became the victim of media bullying instead.

It’s hard enough for many LGBTQ community members to come out to those they adore: family, friends and, even, coworkers.  For Wachowski, poor journalistic ethics, mixed with her “celebrity” status, forced her to come out on a global scale.  Within the first few hours of the letter’s publishing, Wachowski went from being a notoriously private filmmaker to a public spectacle.

Outside Daily Mail’s breach of a long-held journalistic principle, those who pressured Wachowski breached a moral principle: compassion for the experiences of others.  It might not be a legal responsibility, but it’s one the public generally aims to uphold.  Sure, we’re all humans, and we’re not always as respectful as we ought to be; however, there’s a heightened moral expectation from journalists.

There’s power in words—especially those that tell the stories of others.  Daily Mail wasn’t dealing with some fluff story on the best local diners—they were toying with someone’s reality.  It’s worth noting that, as many LGBTQ community members will attest to, it’s a reality often unaccepted by the majority of faces they greet with each day’s passing.

Daily Mail threatened Wachowski with her own narrative, likely attempting to use a shock-value story to increase publication “views.”  In the end though, Daily Mail established themselves as an unscrupulous, unfair publication with no regard for the human condition.

On the other hand, Wachowski showed immense strength—taking control of her own narrative and refusing to be made suppressed by faulty ethics and morals.

Column: We Need to Talk About Ke$ha

By Liam McGurl

[Image courtesy of mtv.com]

There’s always a strange dichotomy between celebrities’ personal and professional lives—especially when it comes to musicians.

We’re so attached to their pop-savvy lulls that we, sometimes unknowingly, assume their bubbly pick-me-up sounds are a direct reflection of their personal experiences.

Needless to say, this outlook is nothing short of faulty and “Tik Tok” singer Ke$ha is an unfortunate illustration of that.

The star of the television show My Crazy Beautiful Life filed a lawsuit against her producer Luke Gottwald—more commonly known as Dr. Luke—in October of 2014, alleging he drugged and raped her shortly after her 18th birthday in 2006.

Continue reading “Column: We Need to Talk About Ke$ha”