C Magazine Vol. 8 Edition 1

Page 1


October 2019 • Volume 8, Edition 1

Dear Readers, We are so excited to present the eighth volume of C Magazine along with our new editorial team and staff writers! With this new school year, we wish last year’s staff members the best of luck in the future as we usher in the newest generation of C Magazine. As we continue to deliver fresh stories and creative designs, we’ve also revamped the magazine to reflect the evolving tastes and unique blend of perspectives within our new team. Our community has been in the spotlight of the national mental health crisis for the past few years, and we’ve decided that it’s time to highlight our own experiences of mental health within the Paly and Palo Alto communities. In our cover story, “Planting a New Narrative,” writers Katherine Buecheler, Faith Chow, Lexi Gwyn and Isabella Moussavi investigate the state of the mental health crisis in Palo Alto and present an alternate narrative to subvert the widespread perception of Palo Alto as the “suicide town.” The writers and creative team altered film photos, taken by Natalie Schilling, of the inside of the iconic tower building to depict flowers growing within the building — a metaphor for the bits of light shining on a more accurate story of mental health in Palo Alto. While we turn the focus inwards into the Palo Alto community, in the spotlight as our featured artist this issue is Metro: a band made up of student artists Marina Buendia (‘21), Joseph Cudahy (‘20), Toni Loew (Castilleja ‘20) and Rein Vaska (‘21). The band has taken giant leaps in the music industry for a group so young; having launched Paradox, their own music festival, Metro is not only producing great music, but they are also creating a space for other student musicians to come together and share their sounds. Although it is clear that there is an abundance of popular music produced in the Palo Alto community, Fiza Usman has a lot to say about foreign musical artists and the unfortunate lack of acceptance of their music in the United States. In her perspective piece “Hear Me Out,” Fiza — who is frequently banned from auxing — gives insight into her favorite foreign songs, advocating that everyone should expand their musical horizons while driving to school and work. This perspective features album artwork and an interview from Igor Barbosa, one of Fiza’s favorite musical artists from Spain. Her taste in international music is only a sign of the times; with globalization, music is a new channel for cultural exchange. As new cultures continue to flourish within the U.S., it is important to note that generalizations and preconceptions can unintentionally bundle together diverse perspectives into one stereotype. In “Only Human,” Ellen Chung, Ashley Guo and Sophie Jacob tell the stories of local Asian Americans living under the persisting “model minority” myth. While society is making great strides in the right direction, the Asian American stereotype still places many unique individuals in a mold as they constantly work towards finding their own identities independent of race. As many stories in this issue highlight new perspectives and emphasize independence of thought, we hope that you stop to question your preconceived notions and expand your horizons. As we continue to challenge ourselves in our reporting and visual design, we are excited to debut the first issue of the 2019-2020 school year. Happy reading! Ellie Fitton, Ashley Guo, Chloe Laursen and Hazel Shah Editors-in-Chief

thanksto our sponsors Anne & Billy Spier Annie Funkhouser Barbara Cottrell Charlotte Amsbaugh Chris Lillios & Jinny Rhee Craig Dumas & Ranne Rhee Clara Fox David Scherer Dan Zigmond David & Shantel Ferdman Emil Stefanutti Gadi & Henriette Ponte Gigi Tierney Grace Rowell Holly Lim Illuminate Plastic Surgery Inder Sodhi Jack Callaghan Jack Stefanski Jan & Monte Klein Jasleen Sahota Kathy Mach Leela Vakil Liz Darby Maria Aboytes Maria Afzal Mary Lynn Fitton Mea Rhee Michael Romano Mike Helft Mimi Veyna Moon & Hwa Rhee Pietro Stefanutti Robert Wilson Rochelle & Stan Ferdman Rosa Schaefer Bastian Ryan Gwyn Sam Mutz Stanley Chow Stella Laursen Sue Kim & Won Rhee Sylvia Chavez Teresa Chen Terri Brown Theresa McCann Victor & Teresa Chung Virginia Fitton Wendy & Gary Hromada

staff Editors-in-Chief Ellie Fitton, Ashley Guo, Chloe Laursen and Hazel Shah Creative Director Natalie Schilling

Creative Adviser Tyler Varner

Managing Editors Katherine Buecheler, Sophie Jacob, Kimi Lillios, Isabella Moussavi

Copy Editors Kailee Correll, Theo L.J., Mahati Subramaniam

Online Editor-in-Chief Ellen Chung

Digital Design Editor Claire Li

Online Creative Director Tamar Ponte

Web Design Editor Raj Sodhi

Business Managers Karina Kadakia, Fiza Usman

Social Media Manager Sukhman Sahota

Staff Writers Leslie Aboytes, Faith Chow, Zander Darby, Lexi Gwyn, Lindsey McCormick, Sam Mutz, Bridget Packer, Ellie Rowell, Atticus Scherer, Libby Spier, Emma Stefanutti Illustrators Ellen Chung, Natalie Schilling, Tyler Varner

Cover Natalie Schilling, Raj Sodhi

Adviser Brian Wilson

Publication Policy C Magazine, an arts and culture magazine published by the students in Palo Alto High School’s Magazine Journalism class, is a designated open forum for student expression and discussion of issues of concern to its readership. C Magazine is distributed to its readers and the student body at no cost.

Printing & Distribution C Magazine is printed 6 times a year in October, November, December, February, April and May by aPrintis in Pleasanton, CA. C Magazine is distributed on campus and mailed to sponsors by Palo Alto High School. All C Magazine stories are available on cmagazine.org.

Advertising The staff publishes advertisements with signed contracts, providing they are not deemed by the staff inappropriate for the magazine’s audience. For more information about advertising with C Magazine, please contact business managers Karina Kadakia and Fiza Usman at businesscmagazine@gmail.com.

Letters to the Editors The C Magazine staff welcomes letters to the editors but reserve the right to edit all submissions for length, grammar, potential libel, invasion of privacy and obscenity. Send all letters to eicscmagazine@gmail.com or to 50 Embarcadero Rd., Palo Alto, CA 94303.


con ten ts

arts 8

Copycat Couture


Contemporary Classics


Featured Artist: Metro


Sex, Drugs and Gen Z

culture 20

Stop the Fame


Redefining the Crown


Planting a New Narrative


You Wish You Were a Senior


Only Human

music 38

The Dotted Line


Is It All About the Music?


Breaking Barriers


Hear Me Out


A California Winter. These outfits, a mixture of grunge, vintage and bohemian, are perfect for a California winter. Most of these pieces are thrifted, and others bought from unknown retail stores. The use of accessories is minimal but well done, with accents of silver jewelry, colorful clips and a bucket hat. These students model black shoes, Doc Martens, ankle boots and classic mary janes. Enjoy.

Text and design by TYLER VARNER • Photos by NATALIE SCHILLING


copycat couture

In an effort to generate profits, corporate retail brands often appropriate culture and steal from artists without giving due credit or payment.




s the Twitter app opens, tweets flood the dashboard with angry messages directed towards Louis Vuitton and Raw Edges for claiming their chairs were of “tropical patterns” when they were a blatant appropriation of indigenous prints. At the top of the trending list, the hash-tags “cultural appropriation,” “colonialism,” “racism” and “theft” appear on every tweet. Continuing to scroll through the feed, it became apparent that the tropical prints belong to artists in Tenango de Doria, Mexico and not Louis Vuitton. Culture appreciation entails an understanding and respect for the culture and its traditional items. Cultural ignorance and a drive to reap profits create an environment where cultural prints and artwork are not seen as pieces representing history and meaning, but in the means of selling more without the effort of creating original products. With traditional garments like the Chinese cheongsam being cut up and re-appropriated, corporations continuously steal many indigenous prints without giving credit where credit is due. Years of culture and history that culminate in a style of clothing or a pattern are stripped away, leaving items to be sold and worn by consumers who often do not have any sort of appreciation or understanding of the culture. While those of certain minority groups are often called derogatory names for wearing their cultural pieces, others outside of those minorities are praised and viewed as stylish. Louis Vuitton’s website boasts a collection of chairs, printed with solid green, purple, yellow or black that lead into a colorful pattern that engulfs the back. On the surface, it seems that Louis Vuitton has simply created another luxury item: this time a chair priced at $18,000. These prints, however, are culturally significant to artisans from indigenous communities in Tenango de Doria. The Otomi group populates one of these communities and have produced these intricate and vi-

brant embroidery textiles for hundreds of years, passing the tradition down from generation to generation. Each design is handcrafted by the Otomi women, and occasionally men, featuring many of the symbols and motifs that are popular in their culture. When these Otomi artists discovered that their prints were being used without their previous knowledge or approval, they were frustrated. “They’re just copying our work. It’s not right,” an indigenous Mexican artist Glafira Candelaria said in an interview with TRTWorld. Many designers take work from indigenous tribes, playing it off to consumers by claiming that they are in contact or have a partnership with the artists without this actually being true. The artists have had enough. On average, they spend anywhere from months to years designing and handcrafting a single item and it is frustrating when their hard work is copied by brands with no credit. Not only have artists spoken out after being notified that their life’s work is copied and mass-produced, but the Mexican government has also publicly called out Louis Vuitton for stealing and cultural ignorance. Emboldened by status and reputation, Louis Vuitton replied to the accusations with a message stating that they were in a business relationship with the artists in Tenango de Doria as well as a brand called Raw Edges that produces a wide variety of home decor to design these chairs. However, in reality, the animated prints were stolen, and no payments or attributions were ever given to the artists. “It’s not fair to the smaller artists who worked really hard on these designs to get their work stolen and not get any credit,”

Paly junior Addie Glenwright said. “Brands and companies shouldn’t be taking work in the first place, but if it does happen, they need to put out an apology.” Even though a few brands have posted public apologies, many continue to steal, highlighting their drive for profit and the lack of sincerity in their apologies. Instances like this are not uncommon, and they are measly examples amidst a common trend of ignorance among corporate brands. Victoria’s Secret is among those criticized for cultural appropriation; during their 2012 annual fashion show, a model was sent down the runway donning a feathered headdress and leopard print. While this look was meant to symbolize Thanksgiving, many felt it ignored the detriments that indigenous people suffered through at the hands of European settlers. Although Victoria’s Secret was called out for this, the brand ultimately repeated this act of appropriation again in 2016. Taking traditional Chinese prints and turning them into undergarments, Victoria’s

Secret had a model walk the runway with an image of a dragon winding across her back. In 2017, Victoria Secret included the section “Nomadic Adventures” in their show, which featured ‘tribal’ inspired garments. The models, none of which had Native American descent, were dressed from head to toe in cultural items that included feathered headdresses and suede fringe. The fine line between appropriation and appreciation is often crossed when culture is stolen, stripped of its historical and cultural significance and manipulated for profit. The influential corporate brands are blatantly stealing artwork because of the money and power at their disposal, and artists are still not given any credit or compensation. When consumers unwittingly pick up a product because it appears stylish or trendy, there can be generations of hidden history behind it. When consumers and companies understand the culture behind pieces, appropriation may be replaced by appreciation.


Contemporary ClASSICS As some people say, there are movies and there are films. Film is art that can come from anywhere: a story told out of order, a magical bathhouse,a quirky pregnancy story, or a likable office worker. There are thousands of great films, but here are four that are a good start.

American Beauty


merican Beauty’ is pretty much the perfect screenplay. Every character is a variation on the team of appearance vs. true self,” Paly senior Max Rosenblum, said. “American Beauty” is a mediation on the struggles of suburban life. As the main character, Lester Burnham, starts to become attracted to his daughter’s friend and begins to realize his actions are upset-



pon discovering that she is pregnant, 16 year-old Juno MacGuff must make a life changing decision. Juno MacGuff, played by the talented Ellen Page, is a quick-witted, sarcastic teen with a spunky attitude, making her a striking enigma on the screen. She is eccentric, with her hamburger shaped telephone and love for Sunny D, sardonic, with a dark sense of humor, and impulsive, doing whatever she wants whenever she wants. Her pregnancy, while a significant time in her life, does not diminish any of these qualities. She makes jokes about her situation and does not let


ting the world around him. As the film unfolds viewers watch as the other characters change in their own unpredictable ways. “The surreal sequences get you into his head really effectively. I can see myself in all of these characters, which is impressive because on paper these people are nothing like me,” Rosenblum said.

The real feat that “American Beauty” achieves is that it’s entirely carried by the conflict of the characters: there is no gaudy cinematography or shallow visual effects. The performances and script shoulder the entire film: Spacey already looks like he should be living through a depressed mid-life crisis, and Wes Bentley plays the psychopathic stoner perfectly.

it define her. She initially plans to have an abortion, but later decides to look into other options. She then proceeds to go to her local convenience store where she sees an ad for a couple who are looking to adopt a child: Mark, a failed punk rockstar and Vanessa, a meticulous businesswoman. Once meeting the seemingly perfect couple, Juno decides to have the child in a closed adoption. “Juno” deviates from the the typical teenage pregnancy trope. “I would consider ‘Juno’ to be iconic for the way it portrayed teenage pregnancy in a way that was contrary to other portrayals at the same time. ‘16 and Pregnant’ was from the same era, and it was sort of romanticizing the notion,” Alanna Williamson, an English and Film Composition Literature teacher at Paly,

said. “‘Juno’ is more genuine to what the experience is probably like for many young women.” Aside from the pregnancy, “Juno” beautifully captures the main character’s personal growth and teenage experience. You see her struggle to comprehend her feelings for her best friend, Paulie Bleeker — who also happens to be the baby’s father. You see her in her bedroom, listening to The Stooges without a care in the world. Unlike other films within the high school subgenre, “Juno” tells a realistic story. There are no cliques that run the school and no romanticized storylines of unexpected love. “As a teenager, I felt really understood by the film. The situation is not glorified, and the characters are so normal,” Williamson said. “Juno” presents life in the most simple yet quintessential way.

Spirited Away


ith the fantasy of magical entities, the perils of defining one’s identity and the courage that comes with having to face the unknown, Japanese director Hayao Myazaki’s anime, “Spirited Away,” provides a visually stunning, yet perfectly c h a o t i c journey through his imagination. “Spirited Away” tells the story of Chihiro, a young girl who stumbles upon an abandoned amusement park with her parents while on the way to their new home. Chihiro meets Haku, a boy with a dragon spirit, who informs her that she is in a town inhabited by dangerous demons and evil spirits. Exploring the area, Chihiro’s parents decide to dine and dash at


one of the abandoned restaurants, resulting in them mysteriously turning into pigs. With the help of Haku, Chihiro must navigate her way through this unknown realm in hopes of returning to her world and saving her parents. Unlike other animated films, “Spirited Away” pushes the envelope in that it is both vivid with its artistry and unconventional with its storyline. The characters, from the innocent Chihiro to the vile witch Yubaba, show stark contrasts which are unexpected, making the film that much more striking and compelling. Miyazaki also manages to distort his characters to instill a more realistic human quality of being. He shows the dark and twisted consciousness that lives within them as well as the light, optimistic side, blurring the line between good and bad.

“It’s one of the most vibrant, entertaining and stunning animations that exist,” Jasmine Venet, a senior at Paly, said.Venet is an avid Miyazaki fan. “If you look at each panel of the film, you’re sure to find something beautiful and bizarre that somehow manages to fit perfectly with one another,” she said. “That’s what I think is so timeless about the film: it’s ability to seamlessly incorporate both the weird and the normal.” “Spirited Away” proves itself to be not only a film, but a unique and invaluable experience for the viewer.

PUlp fiction

ulp Fiction” is iconic filmmaker Quentin Tarantino’s masterclass, which soaks the viewer in a delirious world packed full of meditative and funny dialogue. “Tarantino aims to change the way in which stories are told, especially the way you interweave these stories with blood and violence,” Paly senior Dylan Duncan,said. “Every character in the movie is so polarizing yet captivating.” Often called ‘the most quotable movie of all time,’ the release of “Pulp Fiction” in 1994 is now seen as a landmark in cinema history. It made its way onto college dorm

posters, Urban Outfitters t-shirts and into the heart of anyone who appreciates a good film. It tells three stories with three different characters. The first story tracks Vincent Vega, a hitman who just arrived home from Europe. The second is about a famous boxer trying to find his veteran father’s watch. The movie closes with Jules, Vincent’s colleague, being held hostage during a robbery. “Tarantino sets up [simple] dialogue to have the audience entertained throughout the scene and waiting in anticipation to see what will happen next. To him, it’s too easy to fol-

low a traditional story structure,”Paly Senior Nicolas Diaz said. “Pulp Fiction” became a sensation because of the ambiguity of the briefcase; some people think it’s even Wallace’s soul.” Tarantino’s style is famous for a reason: incredibly crafted dialogue said by unique and lovable characters pervade his entire filmography and everyone influenced by him.



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Featured Artist

Each member in Metro, a local alternative indie band, brings their own eccentric style to the group, creating lively performances for the Palo Alto community. 13


ith the beats and sounds of the previous rock band still vibrating through the air and coursing through the floor, the next performers take their places at the idle instruments. They assume their positions in front of the pink and green fluorescent lights illuminating the asymmetrical banner reading “PARADOX” plastered on the wall, take a deep breath, and start on the count of five, six…five, six, seven, eight… Metro is an alternative indie band that produces all of their own music — which they perform at local venues, where they are booked for commission and produces their own music. These are notable feats for the average musician and all the more impressive for the group of four teenagers: Marina Buendia, Joseph Cudahy, Toni Loew and Rein Vaska. Loew, a keyboardist from Castilleja School, initiated the creation of Metro last December after the breakup of her former band. After about a month of writing and performing solo, Loew knew she wanted to produce music with a band again so she


turned to social media, where she discovered a potentially compatible bandmate, Buendia. When they first met, Buendia, a vocalist, suggested they reach out to Cudahy as an electric bass guitarist and Vaska as a drummer to complete their hypothetical band. “And by the end of that day, we had a fourpiece band and three shows booked,” Loew said. After just a couple of practices in Vaska’s garage, Metro performed its first local gig at Cubberley Community Center. “In my past band experiences, we basically didn’t play gigs at all so the fact that we had so many lined up right away made me super excited,” Buendia said. Bands are not always guaranteed this success, even if they are comprised of talented artists. This rare, sudden success was, in part, a result of their instantaneous connection and compatibility. “From the first moment we all met, we meshed really well,” Buendia said. “Which is really important because even if every single person is good at their instrument, they have to blend, compromise

and know how to play with each other or they’re not going to be a good band.” Metro also attributes part of their success to their shared ambitions. “A lot of people our age who are serious about their music have had a lot of experiences where they end up having to play music with people who don’t care about it the way we do,” Cudahy said. “So it was really special to find people who approach it the same way I do and who I can relate to about music.” After performing at events from competitions such as Battle of the Bands to local venues such as the Winter Tavern, the band’s undeniable ambition recently led them to organize an event of their own: PARADOX Music Festival. The long hours and many moving parts required for the planning and event coordination gave the band insight on how much goes into a serious music career and what goes on behind the scenes. “Before managing a band, I had never realized how much organization was required and how integral making connections was,” Loew said. “I’m relatively quiet so reaching out to venues and organizing gigs really helped

Text and design by ZANDER DARBY and KIMI LILLIOS • Photos courtesy of SYDNEY LOEW and KRIS LOEW

“ORGANIZING THE EVENT WAS SUCH A VALUABLE EXPERIENCE AND IT WAS SO REWARDING TO BRING THE COMMUNITY TOGETHER THROUGH A WIDE VARIETY OF MUSIC” -TONI LOEW me find my voice and learn how to convey information and communicate with others effectively.” Not only was Metro introduced to the administrative side of the music industry, but they also learned how to promote their brand and grow a following. They utilize social media and word of mouth to keep their audience updated on new releases, including upcoming gigs and their latest merch. With many live performances, Metro started to master the logistical side of live events, which included complex sound sys-

tems and sound engineering. For most recreational bands, these responsibilities are often overlooked, but the members of Metro have accomplished more than average teenage musicians. “Having a group this serious about writing, performing and recording has mostly taught me a lot about working together and collaboration,” Vaska said. After many hours practicing with each other, performing live and learning how to manage the smaller details of logistics and promotion, Metro gained insight into the bigger impact their music can make. “Orga-

nizing the event was such a valuable experience and it was so rewarding to bring the community together through a wide variety of music,” Loew said. With a diverse group of performers at PARADOX, Metro was able to push themselves to new boundaries. “We invited a lot of hard rock, grunge and metal bands so we worked up a much higher energy set than we normally play,” Vaska said. “It was so much fun to really get into the music and play hard high energy music, even though that’s not really the sound we generally play.”


The festival highlighted how versatile the band is as a whole, but each individual member also has a lot of variety in music taste and style. As the primary instrumental writer, Loew’s personal music preferences and inspirations influence her compositions for Metro and motivate her to produce the best possible product. “I take inspiration from indie-rock, punk, metal and even ragtime music, but the single artist that inspires me most has to be Queen,” Loew said. “Every song they’ve written is a masterpiece with their inventive chord progressions and song structure, meaningful lyrics and the emotion and energy they put into every work or performance.” Vaska is also inspired by professional artists, but unlike Loew, he uses these idols as technical teachers rather than inspiration for composing songs. “My drumming techniques and styles are mostly inspired by Cage the Elephant’s drummer, Jared Champion, and I’ve unintentionally adopted a lot of his techniques,” Vaska said. Buendia originally discovered her passion

for music while performing in musicals and choir, but she found that performing solo with her guitar or in a band is her favorite. Personal expression is common for many musicians, and for Buendia, singing and performing on stage has always come naturally and allows her to be open to sharing her

ually, he primarily draws from jazz, funk and fusion inspired music. He also informally records his own tracks, but he chooses to keep this music private. “I have a lot of reservations about sharing it because the music is really personal and designed to be exactly what I want to make and play, not what people want to hear,” Cudahy said. “It’s not that I’m scared people won’t like it, but I care so little about what it means to anyone else because that’s not who I’m trying to appeal to.” Despite the contrasting styles and inspirations, Metro comes together as a unique, harmonious unit rather than a conflicting, disjointed one. “We all have slightly different styles and music tastes, so we all bring something unique to the table,” Buendia said. For Metro, the next steps are to record and produce their music, including releasing their first EP, a major step for Metro’s growth. After initially beginning to record at a studio in San Francisco, Metro is now recording and mixing on their own in hopes to publish their EP in the near future.



personal experiences through songs. “For me, it’s harder to play a cover than an original because I know the lyrics so well and the lyrics are so personal to my own life experiences that it’s easier to have emotion while singing,” Buendia said. While Cudahy plays the fretless electric bass for the alternative indie band, individ-

Text and design THEO L.J. and LIBBY SPIER • Photos by TYLER VARNER

Sex, Drugs and Gen Z

HBO’s newest drama presents a dismal outlook on the life of up-and-coming Gen Z teens, wrapped up in a neon-tinted bow.



very time you breathe, you breathe out all the oxygen you have.” This is a frightening thought for many, but a very real feeling for others with experience getting high. While some indulge in this rebellious lifestyle, many young lives are tainted with conflicts of drug addiction, sexual identity and mental health. This is a line from HBO’s controversial new drama, “Euphoria,” which follows 17-year-old Rue Bennett who is struggling to stay sober. Bennet’s life revolves around her problematic mental health, which ultimately leads her down a drug-laden path, culminating in her overdose. As a child, Bennet was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder that forever changed her life. Dealing with the highs and lows accompanying her disorder on top of the death of her father plunged her into depression, which doctors handled with a cocktail of prescription drugs. As Bennet enters her teenage years and spirals into addiction, viewers see her as an anemic patient desperate to silence the voices in her head rather than a hedonistic party goer, the usual stereotype of teenage drug-users. Bennet’s path is one of many in the show that demonstrates how a dark past can lead to an even darker present. However, it is also an honest depiction of the harrowing lifestyle of the person behind the addiction, breaking many common misconceptions surrounding the disease. “Euphoria” is centered around Bennet’s peers and life in a small suburban town. They go about their separate day-to-day lives, yet everyone in her high school is inherently connected. Leading seemingly different lives, those in the town are able to find a sense of connectivity through common activities whether it be sports or drugs. “Euphoria” not only breaks the stigma surrounding addiction, but it also addresses many modern-day topics such as sexual and gender identity. Bennet’s best friend, Jules Vaughn, played by a transgender model, Hunter Schafer, in her debut onscreen appearance, is a transgender girl who constantly finds herself being leered at by her peers. Schafer is one of few transgender actresses in Hollywood, and is one of the first transgender actresses to play a transgender role in a TV show. Because of her firsthand experience, Shafer was able to add a new insight into her character that few others could. The tangled web of connections between the high school students in “Euphoria” shows many characters wandering into dangerous, yet all too real, scenarios that parents dare not dream of. Tales of blackmail, internet hookups and suicidal tendencies permeate the characters’ lives and seep into the fabric of their town. While this is not the first time teen-life has been looked at in a stark way, “Euphoria” is a first of its kind for mainstream TV. Dealing with such difficult topics gracefully and taking the time to map out intricate plotlines and dramatic scenes, “Euphoria” provides an honest perspective with just the right amount of star power and Hollywood sensationalism. “Euphoria” has become known for shining a light on topics that other shows ignore, attracting an audience and keeping them hooked for the duration of the season. Almost all shows that are centered around teenagers go out of their way to avoid topics such as drug

Bennet’s path is one of many in the show that demonstrates how a dark past can lead to an even darker present.


abuse, porn and harsh societal norms. These issues, however, are spotlighted in “Euphoria,” where they are openly discussed and generously depicted throughout the show. HBO puts everything on display, while most of entertainment still seems to push themes of sex and drugs under the rug. “‘Euphoria’ tackles issues that aren’t really addressed because they are harder to talk about,” Paly sophomore Sophie Pardehpoosh said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.” Critics praise the brutally honest portrayal of suburban life through superior cinematography in “Euphoria.” Zendaya and Schafer have both been applauded for their somber and truthful performances in the show. Prior to “Euphoria,” Zendaya had been recognized for her acting career on the Disney. Channel Being a part of this show, demonstrates her vast acting range by highlighting her talents in almost any role. Her realistic portrayal of a troubled teenager is a key contribution to the show’s success. Thomas Kim, a student at Stony Brook University, agrees.“The actors did a really good job to the point that I felt like I was doing drugs, too,” Kim said. “I personally thought that it was great that they were brutally honest, but sometimes it was too much to handle watching it.” From the radiant makeup job for many of the characters to Rue’s ever-so-cynical descriptions of her emotions and her life in the town, the show’s amazing attention to detail brings every aspect of the story to life. The makeup brings out underlying plot elements and character expression. Makeup artist Doniella Davy has been applauded for her intricate and glamorous makeup art on the cast. On her Instagram @donni.davy, Davy posts descriptive analysis of how the characters’ makeup actually represents what they experience throughout the storyline. “Rue always has glitter around her eyes, and I feel like it symbolizes the drugs in her life,” Pardehpoosh said. “Whenever she took drugs, there were always sparkles around her eyes.” Whether it is gilded under-eye triangles to convey a moody, sad-clown effect or a vibrant eyeshadow to represent empowerment, Davy perfectly ties each character’s personality and life struggles to their makeup; she even knows the power of a blank slate showing a character’s true colors. What some viewers might not notice is the music that accompanies the show. With the unique cinematography, music adds a whole dimension. Additionally, Grammy Award winning artist, Drake, is an executive producer on the show, providing his expertise and a nontraditional take on the music. The soundtrack features a wide range of artists, from Fiona Apple to BTS to Beyonce. “The soundtrack puts a whole new level of focus to the show and I think no other songs would be a good fit for the show,” Kim said. These details feed the buzz among fans and fuel the thoughtful analysis of critics from episode to episode. Taking notice of the show’s success, HBO was quick to renew it for a second season, tentatively due to start shooting next year. No matter how the cliffhanger from season one is resolved, it is certain that the show will continue to gather new fans as it gains traction into the second season.

HBO puts everything on display, while most of entertainment still seems to push themes of sex and drugs under the rug.




As the stigma around school shooters continues to grow, the media has a choice to either fuel this growing fire of atrocities by over-analyzing the perpetrator, or extinguish the glamorization of these mass shooters.


his generation of youth lives in a world where they regularly read news stories about kids, similar to themselves, being trapped in their classrooms and held at gunpoint. As the paranoia around mass shootings continues to grow, the media plays a vital role in either fueling this fear or contributing to the healing of the victims and the general public. Although the media attempts to denounce shooters for the notorious atrocities they commit, the constant media coverage often accomplishes an opposite effect. With their names and faces posted on news outlets and across social media, many feel that this attention acts as criminal glorification and awards the perpetrator free publicity, fame or even sympathy.



By giving attackers notoriety through focusing massacre crime stories on the shooters, it becomes easier for others to plan or execute similar shootings. The National Center for Health Research stated in a study that “Violent events are often covered by news outlets in great detail and spread immediately through mass media and social media. Experts believe that this media coverage can inspire others to copy these actions or commit similar crimes.” In 2014 and 2015, researchers at Arizona State University conducted a study in which they examined data about mass shootings. They found that there was significant evidence of contagion in shootings as they spread over time and across regions. This means that like a disease, mass shootings spread to create many inspired violent acts. Through this, shootings spark new massacres, perpetuating a vicious cycle. With the ever-increasing number of mass shootings, this issue has reached the center of attention and prompted people across the country to respond with various movements. “Don’t Name Them” is a rising movement that works to create thoughtful coverage that emphasizes the victims, survivors and heroes, rather than those suspect-



Text and design by LINDSEY MCCORMICK and TAMAR PONTE • Photos by CLAIRE LI

ed of committing the crimes. “We know that a substantial number of the attackers are motivated by a desire for notoriety or fame,” Pete Blair, the Executive Director of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training center at Texas Christian University said. “Giving that [fame] rewards their bad behavior.” The “Don’t Name Them” campaign found that most people recognize the names of the gunmen perpetrators involved, yet they can’t name any of the victims or the heroic individuals who put themselves in harm’s way to stop mass shootings. “The focus should be on the community, heroes and, where appropriate, the victims,” Blair said. To prevent the continuation of publicizing the information of attackers in media, “Don’t Name Them” urges the public to contact news sources who focus their coverage of an attack on the shooter and inform them that they do not like this type of news. Through this, the news outlets, can begin to go along with the wants of the people in how they present news. Recently, more people have called attention to how publicizing the specifics of shootings, can negatively impact the public. Reports suggest that most sources prioritize getting the story out there and being objective with their reporting rather than spending time and assessing the potential risks of focusing on the perpetrator. In response to this, news outlets such as NBC have altered their ways of reporting by referencing the suspects as the “shooter” and omitting the names entirely. However, without the participation of popular new outlets the desired change, this campaign wishes to accomplish hits a wall. A similar organization called “No Notoriety” was initiated by affected community members of mass shootings and is working to reduce future tragedies by stripping the media of any identification of shooters. The movement calls the media to be mindful that often shooters shoot in public places to gain national recognition, and that by spreading it on the internet, it encourages them. People against the prevention of publicizing information of

the shooters state that by providing the public with this information is crucial to stop future shootings. They believe that this can lead to the public misidentifying shooters and expose the perpetrators’ motives. When news outlets speak of mass shootings, and publicize information and photos of the shooter, they tend to do this after the attacker has been found and arrested, which only brings fame to the attacker and provides inspiration to potential mass shooters. Although the expectation for transparency of public information is an important issue, in cases where the mass shooter’s identity is revealed, it causes more damage than good. By glorifying these people through publishing their names and personal data, it creates more suffering of the survivors and victims’ families, potentially warranting further attacks. These harmful effects motivate those who are trying to transform the present media narratives of mass shootings in the media, turning them into ones that better inspire hope and healing amidst a great tragedy.



REDEFINING THE CROWN By focusing on women empowerment and inclusion rather than looks, the pageant industry is taking steps in the right direction.


s your name echoes through the large auditorium, a spotlight finds its way onto your perfectly curled hair and pearly white teeth. All eyes in the jampacked room fall on you as you confidently stride across the stage with music blasting from the speakers and confetti falling from the ceiling. Sitting in the front row, your friends and family proudly cheer you on as a crown is presented to you along with a silky white sash boldly displaying your new title. You are shocked to have been chosen among so many other qualified young women and accept the crown with pride. For decades, beauty pageants have been a staple of American culture, emblemized by the crown and sash. While many have chosen to participate in one of the most heavily glamorized industries, it is no secret that these events, as fabulous as they may seem, are riddled with controversy. When the Miss America pageant debuted in 1921, it was heavily exclusive and discriminatory towards any woman who did not “fit the mold” of that time period. The first pageants required all candidates to not only be white and unmarried, but also went further to ban those from competing if they had ever been divorced or had an abortion. After four decades of enforcing these discriminatory


qualifications, people across the nation began to believe that candidates were being degraded and that the industry was fueling the ongoing mistreatment of women. With the 1960’s came protests against the pageants, sparking a period of heavy social reform within the industry. With the success of the movement, pageants took significant steps towards becoming more inclusive in the years that followed. Miss America pageants welcomed their first ever AfricanAmerican candidate, Cheryl Browne, in 1971. A decade later, Vanessa Williams became the first black woman to win Miss America. Even though Miss America stopped including candidates’ body measurements in an effort to move away from focusing solely on physical characteristics, beauty pageants today are still criticized for the perceived image that all candidates must have. Miss Santa Clara 2019, Sydney Johnson, however, believes that the pageant industry is taking steps in the right direction. Johnson signed up for her first pageant four years ago to push herself out of her comfort zone. “Miss America does a great job of empowering young women to be their best selves,” Johnson said. “This year they removed the swimsuit portion of [the] competition to try and get away from making it all about body image and more about the women as a whole.” Johnson also reveals that the organization helps build confidence and self esteem. “As far as self esteem, I can’t think of anything better to build that,” Johnson said. “We have to publicly speak, we have private interviews that prepare us for the real-world and we have to perform a talent on stage in front of everyone.” Not only are the public speaking aspects supposed to boost confidence, but they are also meant to empower candidates by providing them with a platform to inspire young people everywhere. By 1990, all candidates were required to advocate for a social justice cause during their speaking tours. This requirement influenced Miss Silicon Valley 2019, Alyssa Vasquez, to begin participating in competitions, as she felt it would be an excellent opportunity to spread awareness about important social issues. In Vasquez’s case, she used her title to advocate for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors in California. “The really cool thing about the Miss America Organization is that we get to dedicate our year advocating



for any social [issue] of our choosing,” Vasquez said. “To me it’s never been about the crown because I’ve always seen it as a microphone and what I can do with it.” Vasquez believes that the pageant industry is helping to inspire and empower youth on both a local and national level. “As titleholders, we are role models that strive to change the world and inspire others to do the same. It’s all about women empowerment and being the best version of yourself,” Vasquez said. Referring to the organization’s removal of the swimsuit portion of the competition, Vasquez agrees that it is a step in the right direction. “Believe it or not, all of these women are really smart and accomplished, but people don’t see that when they are walking on stage in a bathing suit.” Vasquez’s predecessor, Amia Nash, was also drawn to beauty pageants because of the competition’s new emphasis on social justice, community service, and advocacy. “I became interested in participating when I learned about the community service aspect of the role, and how every titleholder has a personal platform throughout their year of service that they advocate for in their local community,” Nash said. “I used my platform of mental health advocacy to connect with youth and adolescents in Silicon Valley and talk about mental health.” Candidates of all ages have noticed the improvement of pageants as local as the Bay Area and foresee a promising future in pageants. Paly sophomore Giselle Toth is currently representing the pre-teen division of the Bay Area. Since first competing a year ago, Toth has found a sense of community surrounding beauty pageants. She believes that even though

the pageants were originally centered around appearance, they have become much more accepting and diverse. “They’ve definitely evolved over time,” Toth said. “It’s becoming less about beauty and more about how you express yourself and how you put yourself out there.” Despite the notable progress that the Miss America Organization and its subdivisions have made, there is still more that can be done. Toth and other competitors envision the pageants growing and expanding to become more inclusive and progressive. “I see the pageants having more categories,” Toth said. “There’s a lot of talent portions, and they’ve been going big off of interviews. I want to see what we can incorporate into the judging that can have a broader aspect, just so it’s not just walking and talking, it’s more about what you can do [for] your community.” Along with Toth , Vasquez also believes that there is a lot in store for the future of pageantry and envisions a brighter future for the industry. Over the next few years, many candidates are confident that pageants are going to continue to blossom into an even more accepting and empowering environment for women of all backgrounds. “In the future, I truly believe more women are going to want to be a part of this,” Vasquez said. “We have already changed the way we speak about the Miss America Organization. Instead of contestants, we say candidates. Instead of calling it a pageant, we call it a competition. It’s a step in the right direction and I know it’s going to change the way we look at ‘pageants’ for the better.”



Amidst the pressures of attending the high schools of Palo Alto, California, students’ true opinions on the rigorous environment are not adequately represented in media coverage. From on-campus wellness centers to mental health organizations and curricula, PAUSD is working hard to change the narrative. Only by highlighting these positive inner workings can the public truly acknowledge the community’s efforts to shed light upon these nationally known schools.



Planting a New Narrative Warning: This article addresses issues regarding mental health and suicide.


very day at 7:00 a.m., sophomore Anton Tompert jumps straight into his morning routine: stretching and immediately leaping into an ice-cold shower. Minutes later, three eggs sit sizzling on the pan as two pieces of toast flop onto the plate. “Eating a good breakfast isn’t just a way to help me focus during the day, it makes me feel clear,” Tompert said. On top of his heavy workload at school, he tries to find ways to stay level headed. Returning home, he finishes homework and dedicates time to boost his well-being. Since deciding to make simple changes in his life, Tompert has begun reading, journaling, meditating and listening to podcasts instead of music. Physical health is also a crucial aspect to Tompert’s routine and he includes a workout every night, runs with the cross country team and consciously makes efforts to stay hydrated. “It’s really basic activities,” Tompert said. “Now it’s really easy to pick up good habits.” Tompert is one of the thousands of teens residing in Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley, home to countless high profile schools. Known across the nation for their academic rigor, this district and other surrounding communities have made a name for themselves in the media of cultivating highly academic and driven students. From national newspaper articles to a full-blown documentary, this media attention has made it widely accepted that these students face pressure like no other. Every year, Palo Alto schools take new measures to ease this increasing pressure, especially after the teen suicide clusters the community has faced in the past. A suicide cluster is defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to be three or more suicides occurring in a short time frame and in the same geographical area. Palo Alto has seen two clusters in the past 11 years, with six teens lost in the 2008-2009 school year and another four in the 2014-2015 school year. These clusters have gained national attention and prompted both the Palo Alto community and those outside of it to wonder what factors could have led to the loss of these adolescent lives. In the last six or seven years, media sites including The Atlantic, KQED and


The Mercury News have been criticized for their coverage on the suicide clusters in the Palo Alto community. Their breaking news headlines are not ones that speak of excellence, creativity and drive. Instead, they portray Palo Alto as a dystopian society that industrially produces academically perfect students, constantly straining themselves in order to attend the most prestigious colleges in the country at the expense of their mental health. According to those living in the Silicon Valley, the idea of having higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicide is just one side of the deeply complex narrative of a strong and unified community. Just this past March, a documentary about Palo Alto schools was released. The film, “The Edge of Success,” addressed the recent suicide clusters in Palo Alto through sharing real-life experiences of Palo Alto students, teachers and parents. The producer and writer of this documentary, Liza Meak, was interested in more than just the journalistic standpoint of the topic. “I quickly realized that to give this story the nuance and the time that it deserves, it wasn’t going to work as a five or six-minute story that would feel

sensational,” Meak said. Due to the sensitivity of the topic at hand, there were strong responses to the film. A spotlight was placed on all Palo Alto students at the time of the documentary’s release; the same spotlight that is seen after the publishing of every article and magazine regarding the suicides in Palo Alto. “What’s happening in Palo Alto is happen-

Despite the negative attention the documentary garnered from the Palo Alto community, Meak claims that the content of the film was made with a positive goal in mind and was built surrounding the opinions of the students themselves. “Our goal from day one was ‘let’s focus on the kids’ and that’s what we tried to do,” Meak said. “We tried to get a diverse cross-section of students that went to Gunn and get their perspectives; some people may agree with them, some people may not, but it’s their stories. We’re not trying to set an agenda, what they told us is what they’re telling us.” Chloe Sorensen, currently a junior at Stanford University, was a sophomore at Gunn High School when the suicide cluster occurred. Sorensen was particularly frustrated by the way that the media approached the coverage of these events. “I didn’t feel that those stories adequately reflected the reality of what it was like to live in Palo Alto and what most students are dealing with,” Sorensen said. Sorensen also comments on the “attention-grabbing, sensational and dramatic” ways the media reported on these events. She explains that this style of reporting

“I didn’t feel that those stories adequately reflected the reality of what it was like to live in Palo Alto and what most students are dealing with.” — Sorensen


ing in Redwood City is happening in Detroit, Michigan, and all over the country,” Meak said. “I’ve talked to people across the country working on the documentary, and spoken with mental health organizations who work with high schools and colleges across the country looking at the issue of stress, anxiety, depression and overall mental health.”

glamorizes suicide, thus leading to an increase in suicide rates. “When you emphasize the fact that there are resources available or that recovery is possible and then that mental illnesses are treatable, suicide rates actually decrease,” Sorensen said. The Palo Alto community has made a substantial amount of progress in the past five years. Advances include the development of mental health resources, on-campus wellness centers, the implementation of a social-emotional learning curriculum and fundraisers for local hospitals to support mental health crisis services. Whitney Aquino, the Wellness Outreach Worker at Palo Alto High School, estimates that around 50 to 70 students visit the on-campus wellness center per day, which have been open for the past three years at Paly and Gunn. “The Wellness Center is a safe space on campus for students. They can come here when they are seeking support, feeling overwhelmed, stressed, feeling ill, even thirsty or hungry!” Aquino said. She also said that one of the main goals of implementing these centers at school has been to reduce the stigma around mental health for students. “[Mental health stigma] is a pervasive, worldwide

issue that prevents many from seeking the help that they need. Although we have an open-minded community at Paly that generally supports mental health and wellness, there are many factors that contribute to the stigma of mental health,” Aquino said. “Our goal is to work with the community as a whole to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and provide education around the topic, and in doing so, reduce the stigma that students may face.” Kaitlyn Clark, a junior at Gunn High

mentary] if it solely reflects the bad side of Palo Alto.” On Clark’s first day of high school, she heard the scripted in-class announcement that a senior had died by suicide earlier that morning. “My throat choked up,” Clark said. “I didn’t expect this to happen, especially on the first day... Honestly, the rest of the day was a blur.” Clark believes that “The Edge of Success” failed to acknowledge the beneficial changes that the school has implemented to reduce the stress of students since that tragedy. “Instead of constantly focusing on the painful past, we need to focus on the future and talk about ways to make the situation better,” Clark said. The discussion of mental health is often confused with the topic of mental illness. Mental health is commonly associated with high stress, anxiety and suicide, but it is defined as “our emotional, psychological and social well-being.” Our level of mental health correlates with how we think, feel, act and behave. The use of the word “level” implies that there is no fixed definition — mental health is a spectrum. Many preconceived ideas of mental health are based on a black and white scale, which

The idea of [Silicon Valley] having higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicide, is just one side of the deeply complex narrative of a strong and unified community. School, believes that “The Edge of Success” documentary failed to acknowledge these initiatives at Paly and Gunn. “The [documentary] didn’t show the positive aspects of Gunn and Palo Alto schools,” Clark said. “I don’t think that it would be beneficial for students to watch this [docu-


can lead to polarizing misconceptions. Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, an American psychologist, author, professor and podcaster, found that one’s environment can both help and hurt their ability to flourish. He sees this as a source of the community’s stress problem, as well as it occasionally acts as a positive aspect in society. “It seems like personal growth is not as valued in some of these hyper-competitive environments where the bottom line is getting into the best school or getting the best grades, winning this award, and having this company,” Kaufman said. “It really is creating a generation of deeply unfulfilled

people.” Instead, Kaufman encourages students to seek professional help if they are experiencing issues with their mental health. “If

The Palo Alto student community still seems to shine in its excellent self and peer leadership. More students are fulfilling their basic needs and ensuring that their voices are respected and heard. Within school clubs and individual advocacy, there is a lot of activism and support relating to the students and their interests, as well as their mental health. However, even with these support programs and clubs, there always seems to be a lingering mindset of needing to meet an incredibly high standard. By making a conscious decision to eliminate this factor of fear in regards to the weight of their grades and level of classes, students can begin to see an extremely positive change. “You feel this higher sense of moral elevation and I think young people today really underestimate the importance of moral elevation for well-being,” Kaufman said. “They overestimate the importance that acceptance or belonging in certain groups will give them well-being.” Many Palo Alto students are beginning to realize the importance of separating their lives from the world of academics. They are also helping to implement changes in their schools which better aid student mental health and wellness. Following the suicide cluster in her community, Sorensen found that she needed to channel her grief and pain into something productive and positive. “We worked on increasing access to counseling services, built upon a mental health awareness campaign and brought mindfulness programs to Gunn,” Sorensen said. After seeing the impact these small efforts had on her community, she was determined to take her efforts to bring awareness around mental health to the district level. “I began speaking to the school board [and attended] other school board meetings,” she said. Courtney Custodio, a senior at Los Altos High School, is another student who is determined to inspire change. “We’re hoping to connect students on campus with resources and will open up more discussion among LAHS parents and students about teen mental health,” Custodio said. She is planning on organizing at least one panel,

“I think we, young people today, really underestimate the importance of moral elevation for well-being.” — Kaufman


you’re depressed or you’re anxious and you need help, you go to a clinical psychologist,” Kaufman said. “The clinical psychologist is not going to teach you how to create [safe spaces], but [how to] go around telling people you need safe spaces.”

some info booths and interactive and educational activities for the school. Her hope is that these efforts will spark more conversation between students and administration on how mental health resources could be further improved. Phebe Cox, a senior at Gunn High School, is the president of the club “Bring Change to Mind,” which is dedicated to challenging the stigma around mental health and bringing up conversation on various mental health issues. Cox prepares for the upcoming school year with the hope to organize more club-oriented activities. She is also focused on creating an environment in which students feel safe when discussing these sensitive topics. Cox additionally comments on Gunn High School’s mental health resources — including a new building with the top floor dedicated to being a wellness center for students. “I thought that was a really good step in the right direction,” Cox said. Gunn junior Haleigh Brosnan agrees that the schools have been working towards helping their students, but she also has some ideas of her own. After reading the article “The Silicon Valley Suicides” in The Atlantic, Brosnan wishes that there were more educational parent meetings on issues of mental health. Brosnan believes that the competitive environment is built off of the desire to live up to their parents’ high standards and then comparing those standards to that of one’s peers. “The district has to do a better job of reaching out to parents because parents often know their child better than Teacher Advisors know their students.” Along with these new and improved changes within the school community, there are other solutions that students have found to cope with stress and anxiety in their everyday lives. Brosnan took advantage of her school’s Wellness Center where she would grab tea and relax; at home, listening to music and doing her makeup were her remedies for stress. Students don’t always use the school’s resources and may choose methods of relaxation and consolation outside of school. Paly freshman Kellyn Scheel is currently adjusting to high school life with the

help of her friends and family. “I’m feeling a little scattered at the moment, but that doesn’t necessarily mean bad,” Scheel said. “There’s definitely a lot going on in my head right now, considering I just moved to a new school and I’m trying to figure out everything with the workload, sports and social things, but it’s also very exciting.” Scheel has found that staying organized helps ease her mind. “When I have things written down and organized and in a planner, it helps me find time to fit everything in, which leaves me a lot of other time where I can do things that help me out socially or with my anxiety,” Scheel said. “Paly makes it pretty easy to communicate and email and get to teachers whenever you need to.” Like many other students, Scheel finds time in her schedule to participate in activ-

subjects of the technological center of the world. “All of the arts have become a really big part of my life and are usually how I collect myself because they help me get out of the chaos,” Scheel said. From the organization of activities to making time for relaxation, Paly and surrounding high schools are continuously making an effort towards integrating mental health awareness into their communities. More than ever before, parents, teachers and even the students themselves are working to strike a balance between challenging adolescents and finding their utmost limits. Through this process, media attention and disagreements are inevitable but despite these obstacles, it is important to keep in mind for whom we are fighting: our students and their futures.

“All of the arts have become a really big part of my life and are usually how I collect myself because [the arts] help me get out of the chaos.” — Scheel ities that help clear her mind and relax. “I play the guitar and I also play the piano,” Scheel said. “They’re a way to calm down.” Scheel understands the importance of creative outlets. Her ability to relax and take a step away from her school work ultimately stimulates new thinking. “I also write a lot of poetry and it helps get everything out of my head in a way that makes sense to me,” Scheel said. For many, exploration of the arts can serve as a break from the heavy STEM emphasis present in the Bay Area, especially for those who don’t resonate with the

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health please contact the following support services: 24/7 Teen Crisis Hotline: 1-888-247-7717 SCC Suicide Crisis Hotline: 1-855-2784204


You wish you were a senior Text and design by KAILEE CORRELL and CLAIRE LI • Art by CLAIRE LI and NATALIE SCHILLING

Decades later, the senior class continues to follow the footsteps of previous years: wearing camouflage attire on various school days in a final display of unity. 31


or freshmen, the first day of Thayer said. With the ability to in- first day has become an event of its school is intimidating. To ac- corporate a tank from Moffett Field own. Between stripping local surcompany the newfound stress into their float design, the idea of plus stores of their camo pants and of an unfamiliar campus are none making the theme related to the ordering camo print accessories off other than confident seniors, dressed military came into mind and dress- of Amazon, the first day of school head-to-toe in camouflage apparel ing up in camouflage fit the theme requires some planning in advance, and spilling out from cars painted without any regards to future senior but brings excitement when doing with green and white. For seniors, classes. “After it was such a big hit, so, establishing a connection among the first day of school is long-await- we wore it a couple more times lat- the class. ed and highly anticipated. After er [that] spring,” Centrella Thayer “Since it was our last first day three years they are finally on top said. of high school, we needed to do and it is time for them to become Although they did not initial- something that unified our class and fully unified as a class and maintain ly expect it to become such a long showed our school spirit and Paly Paly’s most legendary traditions. lasting tradition, underclassmen to pride,” Paly senior Mikayla Rimsa As students progress through high this day look forward to wearing said. “We all had this connection.” school, they continue to discover the camo.“I think it’s really important, Along with the camouflaged unique senior privilegclothes and accessories, es that have become “Since it was our last first day of high the first day of school an established part of school, we needed to do something that is also the time for sePaly culture after years niors to break out their unified our class and showed our school window paints and of repetition. The beginning of markers to illustrate spirit and Paly pride.” the camo tradition betheir school pride. The -Mikayla Rimsa gan with one innovaparking lot is cluttered tive senior class over three decades especially in high school, because it with cars covered with the senior’s ago. Anna Centrella Thayer, Paly unites people and it gives the under- graduating year, viking drawings class of ‘82, was part of the senior classmen something to look forward and the phrase “honk if you’re a class that established this longtime to,” Centrella Thayer said. “It’s like senior.” “I thought that car painting tradition.“It birthed out of what you finally deserve it and earned the was really fun because I got to show we were going to do with the color right.” my pride for Paly in a way that all green [for spirit week],” Centrella Now, wearing camo attire on the of Palo Alto could see,” Rimsa said.


As it has become a popularized integrated with the first day of Whether it provides a connection tradition for well over a decade, the school lesson plans and “get to know among the senior class or functions custom of wearing camo not only you” activities. Wearing camo while as a rite of passage, it has proved to unites the current senior class, but walking across campus between pe- be a tradition that reoccurs every also alumni with current students. riods or heading to lunch also allows year. Although the camouflage pat“From the alumni back then we for the chance to identify students tern is shared by both the military can say ‘we did that too,’” Centrella who were not previously recognized and Paly, there is no clear connecThayer said. The connection be- as seniors, or reconnecting with se- tion between the two. “I think most tween present-day seniors and Paly niors who moved back to Palo Alto of us didn’t really think of it as a graduates holds a special place in for their senior year. military thing or anything else,” Fitthe history of the senior toria said. “Noclasses, allowing for a “I think it’s really important, especially in body thought shared experience, with- high school, because it unites people and anything of it, it out any regards to age or just a cool, it gives the underclassmen something to was generation. fun thing to look forward to.” Nowadays, in addition wear.” to decorating their cars, Senior tra-Anna Centrella Thayer many seniors will meet up ditions may not with their friends before always reflect school starts to take pictures in their Wearing camouflage also boasts the most sensible moments of high camo outfits and drive to school to- seniority status throughout the en- school, but the school spirit of the gether, building up to the excitement tire campus, giving the senior class graduating class is the factor that of establishing their dominance an extra boost of confidence as it makes this period unforgettable. Afand power over the rest of the stu- separates them from the rest of the ter three years of waiting, the time dent body. A crowd of camouflaged students. Miguel Fittoria, Paly class has come to lead the rest of the studressed students surrounds the se- of ‘08, experienced the camo pants dent body in pride and uphold the nior deck as they exchange greetings tradition for himself over a decade traditions that have been passed before the warning bell while taking ago. “It was like a rite of passage,” down from class to class. While the more photos. Fittoria said. “You didn’t get to do first day might have been intimidatThe bond between the seniors it until you were a senior, and you ing for underclassmen, the last day extends past the last minutes of always saw the seniors do it, so you is one to remember as papers are summer before the first-period couldn’t wait to do it yourself.” thrown into the air by camo-clad sebell to the classes themselves, with The now labeled tradition has dif- niors, leaving behind a final impresconversations about the ferent meanings to past sion that exudes Viking pride. summer break and present students.


Only Human



Confining, ignorant and harmful, the “model minority” myth continues to affect an entire demographic of diverse individuals.


s he wove through crowds of people walking up and down the sloped street, Paly senior Jonathan Kao wiped a bead of sweat off his forehead. It was noon on a hot July day, and while the humidity contributed to his discomfort, Kao felt uneasy for a different reason. Thinking about interactions he had with well-known business professors and faculty members for the past week, Kao became more and more agitated with every step he took. When Kao approached the building, he sighed and reluctantly entered the lecture hall. After the lecture, Kao approached the professor and began to ask questions, eager to gain more insight. He hoped that his interaction with the professor would be different from their last conversation. But as the professor spoke, he quickly faced the same problem as before. And he was let down once again. “Whenever I asked questions or engaged in conversations with my professor, he never seemed interested in what I had to say; he was always too distracted,” Kao said. “Every time I hoped that it would change but this time and every other time was no different.”

From his experiences talking to his professor and other business faculty members, Kao was under the impression that no one thought he, being Asian, fit into the world of business. “When interacting with the business professors, I always felt like I was being talked down to and didn’t belong,” Kao said. Kao’s experience with STEM professors and faculty members, however, was drastically different. Engineering professors and faculty members created a welcoming classroom environment, and Kao felt more comfortable and accepted in this setting. “During engineering lectures, my professors assumed that I knew what I was doing and was well-versed with a lot of knowledge,” Kao said. Throughout the three weeks at the summer program, Kao consistently noticed instances where he was treated differently between business and engineering lectures. Although he was participating in a prestigious summer program organized by one of the top universities in the country, he still sensed a feeling of alienation as a result of his race and the “Asian stereotype.”


“I sometimes feel that they have already made judgments on my personality and interests.” - Jonathan Kao


These immigrants were more likely to have a college degree than the average American, and this hyper-selectivity resulted in the current stereotype of intelligence and competence; it also brought upon the stereotype that Asians are to­o knowledgeable, too focused on work and lack personal skills — thus came about the label of “model minority.” This two-sided stereotype of Asians has sparked the debate; in today’s world, some may regard these labels as beneficial, while others view them as confining and degrading. Discrimination is rampant in the United States, but the “model minority” generalization is one that drives a wedge between Asian Americans and other racial minorities by imposing this notion that all Asians are a prototype for success. Unfortunately, this marginalizes the experiences of an entire race of people with countless different ethnicities and cultures. By creating a mold that one can never truly fit into, the “model minority” myth is a constant reminder to the average Asian American that their race will be judged above all else. “When I think of someone who fits the ‘Asian stereotype,’ I think of someone who is extremely hard-working, smart, keeps to themselves and excels in the STEM area,” Kao said. Kao feels like this stereotype may cause others to have the wrong impression of him before getting to know him, especially combined with his aspirations in business. “One of the major ‘Asian stereotypes’ is incompetency in the humanities, and throughout camp, I kept noticing instances where this fact came up,” Kao said. “It wouldn’t be fair to attribute this difference

solely to the color of my skin and my appearance, but I was under the impression that it certainly played a large factor.” Of course, everyone already knows the danger of a single story. It can confine a perception of someone who is otherwise unique, interesting and has a distinct perspective. “In everyday life, even before I speak to new people, I sometimes feel that they have already made judgments on my personality and interests,” Kao said. Despite this, society is making large strides to erase these preconceptions through better media representation and a more welcoming mindset to cultural diversity. Over the years, the push for increasingly accurate and appropriate representation of Asians in mainstream media has helped to dispel stereotypes regarding Asian American identities. A larger variety of role opportunities for Asian actors and actresses that deviate from stereotypical roles are breaking down the predominant limiting narrative promoted by the media. “When I was in high school, I don’t remember any mainly Asian films. The only one I recall watching was ‘Better Luck Tomorrow,’ a movie where one student murders another,” Paly math teacher Daniel Nguyen said. “It’s exciting to see movies such as ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and ‘Always Be My Maybe’ explode in popularity. It also makes me happy to see Asian-Americans get elected to public office.”


Preconceptions, such as being educated, intelligent and hard-working, are often associated with the Asian population and coincide with the current Asian stereotype. However, less than a century ago, Asians were seen as illiterate and unassimilable. Many found it difficult to become U.S. citizens and were victims of harsh racism and unlawful segregation. With changes in U.S. immigration laws came waves of Asian immigrants, many of whom had already graduated college.

“It bundles together billions of people from incredibly diverse backgrounds and slaps a label on them.” - Daniel Nguyen As the media embraces the variety of Asian American experiences and more Asians take on leadership positions, the portrayal of Asian narratives is expanded and in turn, represents more diverse perspectives. This representation is essential to transforming the general perception of Asian Americans and allowing public policy to reflect the perspectives of actual people. “The idea of a ‘model minority’ is damaging,” Nguyen said. “It bundles together billions of people from incredibly diverse backgrounds and slaps a label on them. Even people from the same country can have their

own distinct culture, tradition, and values.” The “model minority” concept projects the perception that all Asians are successful, educated, and have a high standard of living.

Rather than being angry or complacent with the “Asian stereotype,” Asian Americans can live life beyond these generalizations.


This generalization overlooks the vast variety of life experiences of Asian Americans as well as the disparities that exist within the Asian community. On average, Japanese Americans have a much lower poverty rate than Bhutanese Americans, but lumping these different communities into one basic stereotype perpetuates the idea that all Asians are at the same socioeconomic status. This potentially affects policy decisions that successfully bar help from those who may need it. Though society still harbors prejudice against Asian Americans, Brent Yamashita, a patent attorney at a law firm and a Paly parent, believes that society has greatly progressed in casting aside stereotypes. “Overall, I think today is a much better time to be an Asian American than any time in the past,” Yamashita said. “People like Constance Wu, Andrew Yang, Nikki Haley and Paly’s own Jeremy Lin are doing wonderful things for us by showing the world a side of Asian Americans that some never knew was there.” Rather than dwelling on the small injuries of being prejudged according to an overarching stereotype, Yamashita takes his Asian American identity in stride. “I am good at math and science. I am quiet and easy-going. I often don’t show a lot of emotion, and I am not a good driver!” Yamashita said. Although there are ways that he fits into the stereotype, there are countless instances where he breaks it. “In my job, I am good at speaking in court and in depositions, and people sometimes have told me afterwards that they did not know I had that in me,” Yamashita said. “Once I get going, I can have a really biting sense of humor. I am also good at voice impressions, and that can throw people for a loop.” Yamashita, like many other Asian Americans, has encountered instances where ignorance led others to assume aspects of his identity based on stereotypes, but he considers each of these instances an opportunity to

change the narrative. “I have heard comments about how well I speak English at least five times during my lifetime. It always hurts a little to hear that sort of thing, but these days, the way I would respond to that is I would say, ‘Thank you. I was born in America, so no big deal,’” Yamashita said. “We have to force ourselves to use these events as opportunities to change the other person’s impressions of who we are. Maybe the next time that person sees an Asian American, they will wonder whether that person can speak English as well as that other guy they met.” The bitter truth is that stereotyping is human nature and, therefore, the idea of a “model minority” will never truly disappear; however, there is a lot that Asian Americans can do to show that they are, in fact, a community of individuals that cannot be summarized through simple generalizations. “Rather than deny that we form stereotypes, we need to acknowledge that we do, and we need to be aware of it when we see or meet someone for the first time and try to self-correct,” Yamashita said. Though we can accept that stereotypes can never be broken, they can be overcome. Rather than being angry or complacent with the “Asian stereotype,” Asian Americans can live life beyond these generalizations and continue working hard and growing past the idea of the “model minority.”

“We have to force ourselves to use these events as opportunities to change the other person’s impressions of who we are.” - Brent Yamashita As Yamashita put, “You know that equation from physics, v(t) = v0 + at? The velocity at time t is based on the starting velocity, v0, and acceleration over time. For each of us, we have a starting velocity. That might be affected by things like the socioeconomic status that we were born into, our physical traits and also things like society’s stereotypes about our race and gender. Those are largely beyond our control. But we have a choice — we can be angry and withdraw or lament, or we can accept it for what it is and push through it, meaning that we can affect the acceleration, a, in the physics equation to overcome any bad starting velocity.”


the dotted line

On March 28, Lil Uzi released the track “Free Uzi,” a protest of his record label. Rappers continue to call out their labels for abuse, so why do they keep signing?


or many rappers, music is an outlet to communicate their thoughts, fears and feelings, eventually releasing their creations for the world to hear. But for a record label, each unique and talented artist is reduced to a mere business commodity, a source of revenue or a numerical figure on a page. This personal and vulnerable art is distorted into a formula, with the sum being streams, sales and profit. Big labels promise instant money and publicity, but many young artists fail to read the fine print and certainly are not trained lawyers. The deal is then inked and the artist now has more money than they have ever seen — but this instant gratification is doomed in the case of many. In the long run, these deals can end up costing artists millions of dollars, not to mention the creative freedom which breathes life into their creative process. This is not an issue that is new to the music industry. In 1995, Prince performed with the word “slave” inked across his cheek in protest of his label, Warner Bros. Around the same time, George Michael dubbed his contract with Sony, “professional slavery.” However, more and more people are becoming aware of this dark side of the industry, with A-list artists speaking out against their labels, along with the virality factor of social media. Rappers, such as Kid Cudi, Jay-Z, GZA and Denzel Curry, are some of the many who have used their experience with labels as a source of inspiration when it comes to producing new music; letting people know what they are getting themselves into when signing with a major record label and sharing their personal grievances with their deals. Record labels have placed harsh


conditions on rappers, discouraging ingenuity within their songs in favor of the commercial appeal. Frustrated with these restrictions, some rappers have been driven to become independent artists. With no label executive confining their style or sound, they are able to explore their creativity to the fullest extent and experiment with their own ability. The internet has played a key role in allowing for an artist to succeed independently, as they are able to accomplish on their own what the primary purpose of a major label is: marketing. Even with new platforms allowing artists to make it on their own, major record labels continue to convince new artists that they must be signed if they wish to truly succeed. In order to compete in the new age of music, the modern record deal has changed to be known as a 360 deal. This entitles the label to a percentage of the artist’s profits, including money made from brand deals, media appearances and more. With the rise of rap as the dominant music genre on the charts, rappers’ deals are getting bigger and bigger, with artists such as A$AP Rocky, Chief Keef, Young Thug and countless more cashing in multi-million dollar deals. Amidst all of the changes in the modern music industry, what remains the same are the misleading tactics that record labels use on aspiring rappers to sign them to one-sided deals, preying upon their dreams of fame and fortune. The American rapper GZA, formerly a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, has spoken and rapped about the issue. “So sometimes people gotta come out and speak up, and let people understand that you know you


gotta read the label, if you don’t read the Label you might get poisoned,” he raps in his song “Labels.” He starts off by confronting how taboo the subject is in the industry, then goes on to warn up-and-coming rappers about the dangers of contracts and record labels. GZA, like many, has had disputes with his label, but unlike most, he has spoken out about the subject. In the iconic Wu-Tang Clan song, “Protek Ya Neck,” he addresses the cultural differences and shortcomings between many major labels and the rappers they represent.

anything they think does not fit their desired brand for the artist. Some artists now only rap because of their contract, with their once burning passion and love for rap diminished. On the contrary, some rappers complain that their label withholds their music, as to not flood the market and consequently decrease sales; a controlling nature of a big label that has artists anxious at the thought of being locked into a bad contract, and others living in that reality. Although countless rappers battle with the politics of being signed to a major label, there are plenty

“So sometimes people gotta come out and speak up And let people understand That you know you gotta read the label You gotta read the label If you don’t read the Label you might get poisoned” - “Labels” GZA “First of all, who’s your A&R? A mountain climber who plays an electric guitar? But he don’t know the meaning of ‘dope,’ When he’s looking for a suit-and-tie rap.” GZA references the labels’ A&R, the talent scout for a record label, making reference to how little certain labels understand or appreciate the art that they profit off of. This point is still brought up today, with many African American rappers coming from low-income areas while the label executives and managers who represent them come from different and typically more privileged backgrounds. While the great majority of labels act within the law, many will use a rapper’s lack of legal experience or education against them to write a deal that does not favor the artist. With record labels placing deadlines on rappers to produce more music, the creative process is sped up and the content is simplified into a quality-over-quantity esque production cycle. The process resembles that of a typical nine-to-five job and no longer is the artist putting as much passion into their music, especially when record executives can veto

of successful rappers opting to follow the route of an independent artist. The explosion of talent on the SoundCloud scene, as well as the popularity of YouTube, is making it much more viable to take this route and still compete in sales. These independent rappers are making incredible steps for the hip-hop industry, with many artists referencing their choice through their music and cautioning artists from signing a deal prematurely or ignorantly. Rappers such as Chance The Rapper, Joey Bada$$ and Tyler, The Creator have made huge waves in the industry as independent creators. Recently, Tyler, The Creator earned the spot of #1 on the Billboard Top 100 with his album “Igor,” overtaking DJ Khaled, an industry giant. Not only does this impressive accolade reveal the possibilities for an independent artist, but it also inspires, as a David versus Goliath story of the music industry. While a big label can certainly be beneficial, there is no denying that in 2019 the ceiling for an independent artist will continues to elevate.


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With constant advancements through the addition of outside attractions, the music festival industry has recently gained rapid attention from the public. But does this mean that these events are straying away from their original roots and drifting towards becoming a marketed experience that solely aims to make a profit?




metal fence is all that separates the artist onstage from the jam-packed crowd roaring lyrics at the top of their lungs and bouncing along to the vibrations of the music. As the night intensifies and various performers take to the stage, the pulsating ground continues to shake, and the great buzz of energy fails to die down. With the industry endlessly progressing, crowds get bigger, energy stronger and the experience grander each year. As the variety of outside attractions escalate, these annual events become more than just a concert, transforming into a surreal, overall experience. The number of popularized music festivals has been on the rise over the past few years, each showcasing distinct music genres. Along with the music, individual festivals have gone all out— incorporating everything from carnival rides to trendy food vendors to build their very specific brands, setting each festival apart from the rest and causing a spike in concert-goers. Generally, the aesthetic seems to overpower the draw of the lineup when it comes to driving many fans to these events. Rushing to specific music festivals solely because of the name, people travel across the world just to be able to say they attended and to gain attention through posting on social media. While festivals used to solely focus on the music and bringing people together, the driving factors are now heavily leaning on the mar-

ketable profits that come out of these weekend-long events. Not only is the chance to talk about their concert experience a motivation for people to drop hundreds of dollars on tickets to attend, but the opportunity to take “Instagram-worthy” pictures is also a driving factor for influencers and visitors alike. With the rise of technology and increasing carnival standards, the artists only contribute a piece of the overarching music event.

“It was way more than just a concert; it was about the experience.”


-Marina Buendia

“It’s just much more saturated now than it used to be, I feel like there are different motives nowadays,” Marina Buendia, junior at Palo Alto High School, said. “A lot of it is motivation for profit and jamming as many people as you can, and as many artists as you can so more people will go. [Before, it] wasn’t all about rushing to the front and being in the front so you can say you were in the front.” Unlike some who would rather go for the experience, Buendia believes that the festival’s lineup is just as important. Last year, Buendia attended “Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival,” a popularized music festival that features various rides, carnival games, food vendors and artists.

Its popularity primarily drew from the fan base of Tyler, the Creator, its host, but has quickly expanded to other music lovers. “I went because everyone in the lineup was someone I listened to, so my plan was to go to every stage,” Buendia said. “It was way more than just a concert; it was about the experience.” As a stark contrast to the well known music festivals that attract hundreds of screaming fans, many local shows have been formed with

atmosphere the show was held in, reiterating the concert’s founding goals. Just like the music itself, every music festival is unique; the stories behind their foundations have their own meaning and symbolism. “Blackfest,” which takes place at Stanford University in early May, began with the intent of showcasing black music and culture to the rest of the community on campus. Started by Stanford’s Black Family Gathering Committee and comprised of food, clothing and accessory stalls, it has been promoting the exchange of social customs and cultures for over 15 years. However, the most notable aspect of “Blackfest” is the student and recording artist performances that make up the concert portion of the fair. “Blackfest” is one of the few festivals that highlights a combination of culture and education with the help of music, its popularity drawing from mostly from a Palo Altan crowd. Its non-musical attractions have also contributed to these original cultural roots, but there is no telling of what else the festival will include in upcoming years in terms of other activities and interests. Music festivals are becoming significantly established and well-attended events for both music enthusiasts and carnival lovers alike with a growing combination of artists and attractions. While these events have an increasing number of entertainment attractions every year, the roots of these various festivals will always trace back to fans’ love of music.

“The point [of Paradox] was to bring people [together].” -Marina Buendia

the same roots that more popular festivals were also once based around. In the hopes of establishing a biannual concert, Buendia’s band, Metro, created Paradox — a show that allows for close connections between the performers and audience. “We play a lot of gigs that are similar [to Paradox], like DIY shows, and we wanted to have our own [show],” Buendia said. “The point [of Paradox] was to bring people [together].” Having played with other Bay Area bands during various events, Metro extended the invitation to those local groups, establishing a close community vibe among the performers. This close bond not only affected the musicians, but also expanded to the audience members through the comfortable


Photo courtesy of CONNOR PETERSON


Text and design by KARINA KADAKIA and ELLIE ROWELL

In the past, artists have questioned whether revealing their true identities to the public was worth sacrificing their reputation. However, recently, popular artists have begun to open up through their music, leading to the celebration of broken barriers.


raditionally, male rappers in the hip-hop industry, especially African American artists, are pressured to fit a constricted stereotype consisting of hyper-masculinity and heterosexual norms. Contrasting these previous norms, in recent years some artists began releasing songs with vulnerable and expressive lyrics that contribute to the representation of a wider narrative. Artists including Frank Ocean, Kevin Abstract, Lil Nas X and Tyler, The Creator continue to change the conversation and steer away from definitive stereotypes. Music has always been used as a form of expression and recently has become an outlet for artists to open up about their sexuality. In 2012, Christopher Breaux, better known by his stage name Frank Ocean, made headlines after releasing a song detailing experiences with his first love — a man. From his song “Garden Shed,” Tyler the Creator sang, “Thought it was a phase/ Thought it would be like the Frank poof, gone/ But it’s still going on.” Similar to Ocean, the popular hip-hop artist Tyler, The Creator hints to the struggle of keeping one’s sexual orientation concealed in his song “Garden Shed.” “You don’t have to hide,” he sings, “Garden shed for the garçons/ them feelings I was guarding.” People speculate that the garden shed is a metaphor for a closet, which derives from the phrase “coming out of the closet.” In addition, the word “garçons” translates to “boys” in French which justifies how people were able to infer that these lyrics were hinting at his undisclosed sexuality. As more members of both the LGBTQ+ and hip-hop community publicly embrace their identity, remaining stigmas cause others to demoralize these individuals, a reaction

common to fans and fellow artists alike. This is best illustrated in Lil Wayne’s song, “Turn On the Lights.” In the song, Lil Wayne raps, “Tell her I skate/ I ain’t got no worries/ No Frank Ocean, I’m straight.” These lyrics boosted a controversial conversation as people speculated that this reference was meant to shame Ocean for revealing his sexuality while others argued it was simply a lighthearted joke between friends.This intrusive speculation and other offensive comments

to come out due to continuous judgment and criticism artists can experience as a result. “I just feel like he young, and backlash can come behind anything. [His coming out] wasn’t a bad idea, and it was most definitely the best time to do it, during Pride,” said Young Thug. Even with the disapproval Lil Nas X received from Thug and the backlash voiced from others, his decision to come out as an openly gay rapper has transcended the genre and sparked a time of change in the music industry. This change has allowed more popular artists to freely share vulnerable parts of themselves through their music. In an interview with GQ Hype, Lil Nas X proudly shared, “Since I came out, people have been coming up to me saying, ‘You’re making a way for us.’” As hip-hop and the music scene continue to progress and develop, these artists have begun to break the barriers of social and gender norms. Amongst African American artists in the industry, others have come to see traditional forms of “masculinity” as a staple factor in their appearance and performances. The “hardness” of a male rapper’s image has long been considered inherently crucial to their success in the industry. Musicians like Frank Ocean, Kevin Abstract, Lil Nas X and Tyler, the Creator, are changing this narrative, widening the boundaries for what is considered to be a “masculine” artist through unprecedented vulnerability exemplified in their music and beyond. “Live your life to its fullest potential and don’t really care too much about what other people think of you. I used to say that cliché, but I never really lived by it, until now,” Lil Nas X said as he happily recalled his latest announcement to the world.

“Since I came out, people have been coming up to me saying, ‘You’re making a way for us’.” - Lil Nas X discourage other artists from opening up. The growing community of support, however, has encouraged younger artists to allow themselves to be vulnerable on social media or through their songs despite the expected pushback. Another artist who recently came out as gay on social media is the up-and-coming rapper, Lil Nas X. The 20-year-old, who struck fame with his hit “Old Town Road,” came out as openly gay on the final day of Pride Month in 2019. However, Young Thug, an older artist known for challenging rap culture gender norms himself, holds a differing opinion with Lil Nas X’s decision



usic is something that everyone, no matter where they are from, can relate to. From car rides to the background noise while studying, music is present in almost all day-to-day activities. Yet, everyone in the entire world has different music preferences, some of which are more globally popular than others. My own preference apparently seems to be at the bottom of the food chain, according to all of my friends. It has come to the point where I am sadly forbidden to touch the aux cord during all road trips and car rides. You see, my playlists — unlike the tunes of my friends’ and many others — mainly consist of music produced by international artists. Most of these songs are sung in languages from all over the world, and even though I can’t always understand them word for word, they all speak to me in their own ways. While it’s all in good nature, I often hear that my music is “trash,” “hard to connect with” or “simply weird.” After all, why would anyone want to listen to music that they can’t understand?


“I personally wouldn’t listen to music in different languages if I don’t understand the language,” Priya Bakshi, a senior at Paly, said. “I guess music speaks to everyone differently, but I find it super hard to connect with a song if I have no clue what’s even being said.” I see it differently, however. If given the chance, it is possible to connect with a foreign song, and I believe that everyone should try to expand their horizons and listen to music from all around the world. Now you’re probably thinking: “Fiza what are you even talking about? I was just listening to ‘Despacito!”’ With this in mind, some may even think that listening to a single with occasional incomprehensible lyrics is enough to be representative of all global music, but again, that is simply not true. Recently, many mainstream American artists such as Shawn Mendes have come out with hit singles that incorporate foreign lyrics. Listening to those is essentially no different than listening to a foreign song like the ones you would find in my playlists. I can’t

seem to understand why those songs make global charts, yet the more authentic ones aren’t even given the time of day. Some of the best songs are the authentic ones that natives in other countries listen to. Although we may not fully understand what these foreign lyrics are saying, a song’s vibe allows us to interpret and connect to it however way we find fitting for our own lives. Exploring music outside of the English language grants us the opportunity to experience a new culture without ever having to leave our own homes. While listening to international music is perceived as “weird” in the U.S., people in other countries actually listen to foreign music all the time. When I spent a few months in England this summer, I met many people who had surprisingly similar interests in music as me. The friends I made from both Italy and France had no issue connecting with a song in Russian, Spanish or even English. “I like listening to foreign music because it allows me to enjoy a song for it’s

Hear Me Out Truth is, many americans are missing out on international music. Everyone around the globe listen to our top hits, so lets listen to theirs. Text by FIZA USMAN • Design by FIZA USMAN and TYLER VARNER • Photo courtesy of IGOR BARBOSA musicality and not the lyrics, and because singing along can be very fun,” Nora Dezyeni, a high school senior living in Italy, said. It amazes me that almost all of the people I met during my time abroad had listened to American music, even if they couldn’t fully understand the language. They were able to identify the newest releases from just the first few notes, as our top hits also happened to be theirs. So why is it that these people know so many American songs and yet only a handful of my friends at home can pinpoint an international song they thoroughly enjoyed? Even though English is the official language in many countries, non-native speakers have absolutely no reason to resonate with our music; yet, they enthusiastically listen to our American music and, for the most part, enjoy it. While it is true that they might be taking English classes as a requirement, we are also required to take language courses. The difference with us is that our willingness to interact with the language stops as soon as we step outside the classroom.

Quite frankly, this refusal to branch out makes us miss out on some of the greatest artists. A simple fact such as their residency or nationality forces foreign artists to work a lot harder to integrate themselves into our culture compared to American artists who can sell out stadiums for tours all over the globe. Igor Barbosa, a native Spanish singer, has had to allocate a lot of time towards becoming proficient in English in order to connect with a bigger audience and make a name for himself in the music industry. “I started writing songs, first in my mother language, and then of course I felt like the whole world should understand me,” Barbosa said. “English felt so ‘easy’ on me that I stuck with it.” In order to become a household name, it was important that he put in extra time and dedication into learning the language his role models spoke. “In Europe, people really love American artists, that makes it really hard for us European artists to break through and get a worldwide audience,” Barbosa said.

One of the great things about music is that it allows people to express themselves;the instruments, speed and infinite style choices work together to become a voice that allows an artist to connect with thousands of listeners. Language shouldn’t be a barrier to connection — that’s what music is for. Barbosa grew up admiring artists such as Michael Jackson, Ne-Yo, Chris Brown and Beyonce, but how many American artists are looked up to by foreign artists as inspirations? Not many, as it is nearly impossible for an international artist to break through our walls and have the opportunity to make a significant impact here It is time that we gave international music the chance it deserves. Whenever the songs on your playlist become boring, don’t settle for the same songs in mainstream categories. Instead, spice up your life with foreign music. Maybe give me a ride home — since I still don’t have my license yet — and let me use the aux to better change your life. You never know, you may stumble upon something amazing — I know I did.


— Barbara Fredrickson