Michelle Obama, Cultural Norms, and Making A Statement

You should all know by now that I’m one of the last people to be up to speed on current events in the political sphere. Having said that, I do pay attention to the news in my Facebook sidebar, which is how I found out that three days ago Michelle Obama joined her significant other on his trip to Saudi Arabia to pay respects to the recently deceased King Abdullah.

Oh yeah, and she also didn’t wear a head covering of any kind.

Now look, before we really dive into this I should probably remind everyone that being the spouse of a world leader is no cakewalk. To pick just one example out of many, Michelle Obama [referred to by full name to avoid confusion] announced the Best Picture winner at the 2013 Oscars. This prompted Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin to share that:

“There is a sense of going too far and too much and becoming so ubiquitous that people don’t consider you something special. She is the first lady for goodness sakes. She’s not just a Hollywood celebrity.”

It’s a statement which . . . okay, it’s ridiculous. I would explore that further, especially the comment about the inherent celebrity within the status of POTUS and all related to the person in that role, but I just wanted to illustrate the fact that Michelle Obama is under a lot of scrutiny all of the time about everything. Continue reading

The Last 3 Books That Made Me Cry (And Why You Should Read Them)

I love getting lost into the world of a book. You know how it is when you can’t handle taking a bathroom break or stopping to eat lunch because it might mean tearing your eyes away from the page? Luckily, as an English major, reading is a big part of my learning experience. Not every book I’ve been assigned to read has been my style, but some of those books have been so good that they sucked me deep into the story until the next things I knew, tears were streaming down my cheeks.

For the sake of this article, I won’t be focusing on all the books I’ve read over the past year. If you want to read a fantastic overview of a wide span of books, I suggest you check out Evan’s 2014 Literary Awards. Instead, I want to share the last three books that made me cry, and, more importantly, I want to discuss the larger issues that make each of these three books valuable reads.

Each of these novels engages with what it means to live in a post-colonial world. In each story, it quickly becomes apparent that the horrors of colonization do not simply end the moment government policy changes.

While I will avoid any key plot points in these books, I will be alluding to general context around the books. If you prefer to go into your reading experience with a blank slate, I should warn you, Spoiler-ish content below.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Generally regarded as the post-colonial prequel to Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea opens in Jamaica, shortly after the abolition of slavery. Rhys’ protagonist, Antoinette, comes from a family of plantation owners who were brought to financial ruin by abolition. As a child, Antoinette struggles to understand what separates her family from the rising class of British capitalists.

By writing from the perspective of a child on the wrong side of history, Rhys prevents any oversimplification of her narrative. She also challenges the idea that colonial injustice somehow ended when slavery did.

Rhys’ strong narrative style creates a story that will immediately pull you in, but her imagery and carefully thought-through word choices create layers of meaning that make this novel much more complicated than it appears at first read. While it initially seems to be a Gothic Romance, Wide Sargasso Sea also explores a variety of important questions around race and gender. Continue reading

White Guilt, Privilege, and Justice

It’s my understanding that later this week Evan will be providing some cutting observations on the state of Tumblr [I make no promises -Evan.], especially in regards to its role as a haven of intrepid social justice and/or goose-stepping political correctness. While I’m guessing there might be some overlap in our posts, I figured I’d try to lay the groundwork here.

Not too long ago, readers, I stumbled across a garish little webpage dedicated to celebrating the “WISDOM OF THE LAKOTA”. In florid terms, the site noted the Sioux’s dedication to nature, their exemplary thriftiness, and their peace-loving nature.

There’s plenty of things you could say about the old Lakota tribes- that they were “peaceful” isn’t one of ‘em. For *****’s sake, Lakota translates to “The Enemy”. One does not become synonymous with war by handing out daisy chains and Hallmark cards.

“We come bearing the pointy sticks of friendship!”

Now this wasn’t the first time I had seen that very list. A few months earlier, I had come across the exact same one, only this time it was attributed to the Cherokee. And not long before that, I had seen it posted as a set of Cheyenne commandments. And Iroquois, and Cree, and Blackfoot, and so on. Continue reading

The Black and White of American Sniper [No, This Isn’t About Race]

There were just so many angles from which to approach American Sniper. One of them is, of course, within the context of the Oscars, especially when set in stark contrast with the amount of nominations Selma received [or didn’t receive, as it were]. Another is as the whitewashing of both a man who took great joy in taking lives and the war he fought in. While both are important, the latter more so in my opinion, I will actually be focusing on neither.

As I so often do on this blog, I will instead be writing on and cataloguing a number of reactions to the film [which I haven’t personally seen], some of which you can see below-

Continue reading

5 Reasons Why Galavant is my New Guilty-Pleasure Comedy

I love watching comedies when I’m in school. It allows me to check out mentally on those days when I feel like I can’t seem to turn off my brain. Although I am looking for thoughtless fluff, I still want to avoid straight-up terrible writing and plots. This makes my comedy search a little more difficult. Luckily, John and I came across Galavant, which provides what I am looking for in at least the following five ways.

1.It’s funny, without being offensive

I hate Seth MacFarlane. Just don’t like the guy at all. Yet his form of humour (i.e. let’s see how far we can push the line without getting in too much trouble) seems to dominate contemporary comedy. There certainly have been times when I have laughed at Family Guy or American Dad, but more often than not they leave me with a sour taste in my mouth.

One of the only gif’s from Family Guy that made me laugh instead of cringe.

I still want something that will surprise me into laughing out loud, but I don’t want to only ever be surprised because the punch line was too offensive for me to be expecting it.

Unlike McFarlane’s shows, Galavant is all about pushing around puns and being- well, for lack of a better word- silly. After being bombarded with jokes that make fun of real life trauma, it’s nice to be able to laugh at something because it’s just silly.

“Maybe they’re up your butt”

Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S4E9 “And The Past and The Furious”: A TV Review

s2e9

It sure is weird that CBS released their first 2 Broke Girls episode of the season on January 5th, and then skipped a week. Not a great way to build up momentum. Not that I’m complaining, honestly, because a) it’s always nice whenever I get to take a break and b) that last installment was super racist and I was not having it.

Thankfully the worst part about this episode is that I can’t find any gifs of Jenko freaking out about lambos from 22 Jump Street. Man, that’s a franchise I am always going to be behind. Anyway, to the episode-

This is one of those weeks where not a whole lot happens in these twenty-some minutes of TV. In fact, I think I can summarize it in half a dozen bullet points:

  • It’s Caroline’s birthday! She is optimistic.
  • Her dad, Martin Channing, bought her a Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster! But they have to return it in the morning.
  • Caroline is now pessimistic.
  • Max roofies her and drives her to the Hamptons, which she waxed poetic about.
  • They squabble at the beach, but make up and return to the diner!
  • Oleg means to propose to Sophie and then does so.

That being said, this was not a bad episode overall. Continue reading

Taylor Swift: History’s Greatest Monster

When I first heard that pop star Taylor Swift had paid off a fan’s student loans, I was honestly and truly impressed. The average student loan debt is around 30 thousand dollars, and can easily pass six digits for some folks, and knowing that struggle all too well myself, that kind of spontaneous kindness struck me as really neat. When Evan wrote about that on Friday, reporting the payment was less than 2 grand, it kinda took the wind out of my sails. Don’t get me wrong- I think Evan hit the nail on the dead in saying that anything good is good, but I still couldn’t help thinking:

“Is that it?”

Still, I decided to suspend my hostilities towards the woman and actually do some more research into her- fully prepared to be proven wrong, or to admit that my dislike stems purely from taste in music.

Still, it seemed the deeper I dug, the more I’d keep returning to that same question.

“Is that it?”

Now back in November, Evan had written another post trying to defend Swift, arguing that her music isn’t for everyone (no argument), plenty of other singers have cashed in on lost-love themes (also true), and at the end of the day, she’s just being herself.

Problem is- I believe that.

While it’s entirely possible that Swift’s just another interchangeable, committee-designed pop figure, I’m completely willing to believe that she’s being who she is. Only who she is isn’t all that good.

Let me break it down here. Continue reading