10.04.12 vol. xliv, no. 5 The Indy is redecorating. Cover Design by
ANNA PAPP AND MIRANDA SHUGARS
FORUM 3 All the Single Shabab (Put a Ring On It) 4 The Other Iron Lady 5 Too Many Drops to Drink? NEWS 6 Roachtasmagonia 6 Honey Love ARTS 7 A "C ult " F ilm 8 F lowering in O ctober 9 B et ween B lack and W hite SPORTS 10 C rowdsourcing F ootball 11 I ce , I ce , B aby As Harvard College's weekly undergraduate newsmagazine, the Harvard Independent provides in-depth, critical coverage of issues and events of interest to the Harvard College community. The Independent has no political affiliation, instead offering diverse commentary on news, arts, sports, and student life. For publication information and general inquiries, contact Co-Presidents Whitney Lee and Gary Gerbrandt (firstname.lastname@example.org). Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Meghan Brooks (email@example.com). For email subscriptions please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Harvard Independent is published weekly during the academic year, except during vacations, by The Harvard Independent, Inc., Student Organization Center at Hilles, Box 201, 59 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Copyright © 2012 by The Harvard Independent. All rights reserved
Co-President Co-President Editor-in-Chief Production Manager News and Forum Editor Associate News Editor Arts Editor Associate Arts Editor Sports Editor Design Editor Columnists
Gary Gerbrandt '14 Whitney Lee '14 Meghan Brooks '14 Miranda Shugars '14 Christine Wolfe '14 Carlos Schmidt '15 Sayantan Deb '14 Curtis Lahaie '15 Michael Altman '14 Angela Song '14 Will Simmons '14
Senior Staff Writer Will Simmons '14 Staff Writers Clare Duncan '14 Sean Frazzette '16 Travis Hallett '14 Yuqi Hou '15 Cindy Hsu '14 Mohammed Hussain '15 Sarah Rosenthal '15 Kalyn Saulsberry '14 Milly Wang '16 Graphics, Photography, and Design Staff Maria Barragan-Santana '14 Alex Chen '16 Travis Hallett '14 Nina Kosaric '14 Anna Papp '16 Guest Design John McCallum '16 Orlea Miller '16 Tarik Moon '15
Picks of the Week IOP "Tea and Cookies" When: Friday, October 5th at 4 p.m. Where: The Student Office, The Institute of Politics What: Hungry for good food and even better conversation? Come to the IOP’s first “Tea and Cookies” event of the semester. Wind down from the week with political friends and homemade baked goods. Women's Rugby: Radcliffe v. Columbia When: Saturday, October 6th at 3 p.m. Where: Cumnock Fields, located behind Harvard Stadium and the soccer pitch in the Athletic complex. What: The Radcliffe Rugby Football Club, soon to become Harvard’s newest varsity sport takes on the Columbia Lions. Radcliffe dominated the contest last year, but with Columbia eager to prove itself against the Ivy League's rugby titan the game is sure to be heated. Also, on a related note, look for the Indy's Radcliffe Rugby Special in next week's issue! 90's Dance When: The 1990s? No, Saturday, October 6th at 10 p.m. Where: Pfoho Dining Hall What: Want to party like it's before 1999? Head up to the Quad for this denim-tastic celebration of our favorite decade, when we emerged from the womb ready to groove to Aaliyah and Christina. Wish JT still had those frosted curls? We do too. It's guaranteed to be nostalgia central -- bring your punk, your pop, and your (fresh) Prince. Football: Harvard v. Cornell When: Saturday, October 6th at 1 p.m. What: Harvard hosts Cornell in the 77th meeting of the Ivy rivals, the two top offenses in the league this season. Cornell leads the league in pass yards with the Offensive Player of the Year, Cornell quarterback Jeff Mathews, but Harvard's sack record this year promises to challenge their pass-heavy offense. Live video streaming is also available, but you could also do the players the honor of walking your lazy butt over to the field and cheering them on. Go Crimson! 10.04.12 • The Harvard Independent
Seasons of Migration to the East "I love you, ma sha' Allah." By CLARE DUNCAN
June 23, 2012. Downtown Amman. As I walk through the streets, past shops and stands, weaving through throngs of people, young Jordanian men call out to me. “Welcome!” “Welcome in Jordan!” “Welcome to Jordan!” “Very pretty!” “I love you!” “I love you, ma sha’ Allah!” I stop. That last one is clearly special. Ma sha’ Allah means as God willed or what God willed, so obviously this young man believes God has willed us to be together. I look around, hoping to catch a glimpse of my soul mate, but we have already lost each other in the crowd — how unfortunate. Though none of the various streetside exhortations I received ever quite reached the pleading, beautiful, completely sarcastic tone of the ma sha’ Allah, some were quite creative. I’m sure others were equally as creative, but my level-three knowledge of formal written Arabic meant I had a hard time interpreting what I’m sure were completely appropriate colloquial expressions of…let’s go with “interest.” Everywhere I went I was a spectacle, which meant everywhere I went there would be some form of catcalling. No blonde girl walking through the markets of Amman is immune. Before I continue any further, I should mention that I personally did not take issue with this. The harmless comments were easy for me to brush off, ignore, or simply smile at. By day two I was used to it. That being said, for some female foreigners, this catcalling is extremely uncomfortable and makes it difficult for them to feel fully at ease in the city. The response differs from person to person. The term for these young The Harvard Independent • 10.04.12
men is shabab (shuh-BAB), guys from their late teens to early-to midtwenties. In some ways it’s like the term “guys” in English, when “guys” is used to describe a single-sex group of young’uns (or, as I’m sure someone’s grandfather has once called them, hooligans). When you walk on the streets, whether to go to the grocery store, a café, or simply on a walk, the shabab are always the most prevalent group of people. Some may be university students whose class day has ended, some may be working small merchandise stands on the side of the road, and some may simply be hanging out with friends. Either way, they are the faces of Jordan that I most associate with the country. In addition to my daily dose of bemusement, the shabab provide an interesting sociological insight into this relatively stable Levantine state. Jordan’s standard of living is not exactly high, especially by American standards, and unemployment is rampant. The young men you see while out and about may be running a small sidestand on the street, selling scarves and watches; they may be sitting in a café with friends, waiting to go home later for dinner; they may be thinking about international job offers after they graduate with a civil
engineering degree. When a young man is old enough to venture out into the world, as a somewhat separate entity from his family, his prospects are not as bright as they could be. Job opportunities are scarce, especially without a university degree, and many Jordanians refuse to work low-wage, menial jobs like street cleaning — these positions are often filled by Egyptians instead, who are willing to work in worse conditions for less. L a c k o f financial stability is a major concern f o r anyone, but it is especially serious in a culture in which a man needs a stable job, an income, and preferably a house to get married. Though Americans often associate religion and religious people with younger marriage ages, Muslim Jordanian men tend to get married around age 30; for women, the age is just a couple of years younger. Though I realize one anecdote does not a statistical sample make, a Jordanian friend of mine complained that her parents would not let her and her family-approved-of boyfriend, ages 23 and 25 respectively, marry. Though they had been dating for three years, both his and her parents thought they were too young. Marriage prospects, if not arranged,
a r e at least watched over and negotiated for by the family, and finding suitable life partners is difficult if the son is not able to support a family of his own. Somehow, however, these problems seem to solve themselves — at least from my very-much-an-outsider perspective. The vast majority of Jordanians are married, and despite high unemployment rates, society continues to function (at least for now). The family remains an absolutely integral social unit, and religion helps to bind everything together. I could not tell you how life will end up for the shabab who call out to me on the street, but I can say that there is an extremely tight network of family support and communal obligations that will likely help as the street vendor, the college senior, and the teenage brother search for some livelihood in a country that is slowly reforming. Meanwhile, they will spend their free time hanging out with each other and saying hi to me as I walk down the street. Clare Duncan ’14 (cduncan@college) will always remember June 23 as the day she lost her soul mate. She also wishes she had lost a shoe, so that she could bemoan the fate of her sole mate as well. She would also like to apologize for that completely unnecessary pun.
II N F A L L I B L E
Language barriers and national borders.
By MILLY WANG r e a l i z e d t w o t h i n g s t h is
Thursday while sitting in on the President of Argentina’s speech at the JFK Forum. One: I really should have learned Spanish. Two: politicians have to really like themselves. Why? Because, frankly, a lot of people out there won’t like them. So, how did I come to these two “insightful” conclusions? Well, first, I won the lottery — and while my prize was not 3.4 million, I did have a chance to hear Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the President of Argentina, speak at the Institute of Politics. That being said, I knew close to naught about her and the current political state of Argentina. In fact, I only knew three things about Argentina. It’s famous for the Argentinean Tango, a Spanish speaking population, and Eva Peron, whose life and meteoric rise to fame I learned about from watching the musical Evita at the Stratford festival two years ago. Looking back, the sensible route for anyone in my situation would have been to do some background research before going to the talk. During the very first ten minutes of the speech, I had really began to wish that I had done just that. For one, my knowledge of Spanish only extended to numbers and greetings — not very useful for a political talk during which my translator device malfunctioned. Kirchner must have made a joke in the first few minutes because everyone who understood Spanish and those whose device worked (which was pretty much everyone else) burst out into hearty laughter while I just glanced around looking confused. It was right then and there that I made the resolution to learn more Spanish. Two minutes later, I realized that I also lacked technological competency when I discovered the knob that I was turning in an effort to find the right translating channel was actually the volume control knob. Once I could understand her speech, it became quite apparent that Kirchner was an eloquent speaker — confident, convincing and charismatic. She is the first female president to be elected in Argentina, and by over a
fifty-four percent vote for her second term, just a few of the facts that she touted proudly. She really sold me on the idea that Argentina was greater, more productive, and more progressive today under her leadership than it was in the past. She emphasized the need for strong international relations and cooperation, and I found myself nodding along. It wasn’t until later in the question and answer period that my image of her as a benevolent and popular leader was shattered. Having no background knowledge or ties to Argentina also meant that I had no preconceived notions about her. To some members of the audience, she represented the government of Argentina, the failings of the country, and the controversial policies currently in place. To me, she was just a person with something important to say. So, I accepted what she said at face value, perhaps not unlike many of the uninformed citizens out there who are swayed by the words of a political leader running for President. I was easily won over by the rosy picture she painted of her accomplishments and dreams for the future. I imagine many Americans to be the same. The average American won’t know about the inner workings of a country, what it takes to change the economy, or alter national policies. They’re easily taken in by the persuasive words of politicians without considering the reality of the situation, or the practicality of the proposed policies. It was only after three Argentinean students accused her, one after another, of not speaking with or listening to the people and of maintaining an antagonistic relationship with the press that I realized the President might not be as in tune with her citizens as I had thought. In spite of the attacks and requests for her to practice more self-criticism, Kirchner stood strong and
unwavering in the defense of her government, an admirable feat considering the heated questions flowing around the room. It was these final moments of the night that really gave me perspective on this entire talk. As citizens, we sometimes have conflicting expectations for our political leaders. We expect them to be human, to show concern for our troubles, and to empathize with us in times of hardship. But we also expect them to be flawless. We want to be confident in their choices. We want them to enact policies and make decisions that will not go wrong. Those desires are understandable, as we rely on these leaders to run our country and to protect us. We are putting our faith in these people, so, naturally, we expect them to do a good job. But what should leaders do when they make a mistake? If they deny their error, we accuse them of hubris. We criticize
them for not owning up to their mistakes. But if they do admit that they made a mistake, we criticize them for making poor choices. In a sense, we no longer trust them wholeheartedly because we realize that they are fallible. And we don’t want that. To be or not to be human — that is the question. It is natural that we would have different expectations for politicians because they have such an important role in governing our country. We don’t want them to be like us. As they have chosen to take on such enormous responsibility, we expect them to live up to our high standards. We expect them to put aside their human flaws. But is this viable? Can this be done? Milly Wang ’16 (keqimillywang@ college) feels like she has some studying to do before joining the United Nations.
10.04.12 • The Harvard Independent
Have Free Candy, Join OUR Club
Incentivizing, vacillating, and snacking. A Taste Bud’s Avidity
By ALBERT MURZAKHANOV
Desirean amalgam of apprehension and curiosity, sparks the mind Satisfactionno longer enticing. provokes a thirst for more, a ceasing pleasure for the familiar Entering with no regret, engraved solely by sporadic urges to break away with rhythmic tendencies A hullaballoo; the first of the taste bud’s many epiphanies An urge-less taste bud can only sense repetitive patterns and endure the agony of a monotone landscape, living life without the sensation of the bitter-sourness or the alluring-sweetness of the cryptic path that lies before it.. Taste bud, you have nothing to fear; simply discard your crippling fear of regret.
nundating your emails , taping
flyers to your doors, and standing by the Science Center to spread their word to all those “willing” to listen are some measures many extracurricular organizations take to get you involved. In this seemingly endless stream of activities, you may encounter some life-changing ones or waste valuable time doing something you realize you hate. When trying to choose the perfect choice do you simply draw out of a hat or base your answer on experience? It’s hard for most people to embrace their weaknesses — activities in which they lack experience or prior knowledge — when they have so many strengths. It’s even harder for people — I speak for myself, specifically — to embrace their weaknesses when they don’t have many strengths. In the start of high school, I immersed myself solely in science and began preparing for a career in medicine. My electives and extracurricular activities were all science-based, and I “loved” the feeling of acknowledging that my career would be beneficial to society. It only took a couple days of volunteering in
The Harvard Independent • 10.04.12
a hospital to reach the epiphany that I wouldn’t be able to be a doctor if I perpetually kept my eyes shut (an inevitable outcome of having to see blood, bodily fluids, and organs). Knowing I didn’t have the physical capacity to make it as a doctor, I immediately turned to the next best alternative: science research. Enrolling in a lab, though probably the least riveting decision of my life, was vital in helping me decide what not to pursue. I spent a school year and two summers repeating systematic tasks that completely dimmed my newly lit interest in genetic engineering and microbiology. The year spent volunteering on “ground-breaking” certainly broke my grounds. The struggle was over; I no longer felt the urge to fight a losing battle. As disappointing as it was to inform my enthusiastic AP Biology teacher — who just knew I was born to do science — that pursuing a career in research was the last thing I’d ever seek, I knew it had to be done. When I first arrived at the Harvard Activities Fair, I was eager to find and enroll in three extracurricular activities, clubs, or volunteer
organizations that simply stood out (though I admit I was also enticed by the prospect of free food). I came out with an interest in about fifteen clubs or activities and flyers from about twenty — needless to say, I had not attained my goal of narrowing down my interests. It was like finding three needles in a haystack, except instead of hay the stack was full of candy and free goods being given away by organizations hoping to lure in anyone willing to listen, and instead of searching for just any three needles — it would take less than five feet of walking until another organization would poke you — I needed to find the right ones. At college, people either continue with what they know they can do well or they pursue something that is completely foreign yet appealing. There is a reason students chose to enroll at Harvard as opposed to a university that contains specialized colleges for various fields. Here, we do are not forced to let our decisions from high school — a time during which we had no true exposure to the real world — dictate our future. I found I have had to rely on
finding my passion and future career through a method cavemen used for centuries: trial-and-error. Instead of basing decisions on what my friends and family hope I will do or what I was good at (but didn’t enjoy) in high school, I dabbled in activities I would never have thought of joining along with a few I knew I’d enjoy. Though I spent months doing something I now know I’ll never pursue, and though I’ll probably end up doing that again, I hope that these trivial yet frustrating steps of trial-and-error will enable me to find a career I truly love. The liberal arts curriculum and the presence of hundreds of clubs are there to be explored and tried out. When looking past the free candy and food, a minimal task that is surprisingly difficult for college students to do, I could spot the few activities I would want to devote my time to. And if my path turns out to be off track yet again, I’ll turn around and continue on the long yet essential journey of finding the right needle. Albert Murzakhanov ’16 (amurzakhanov@ college) hopes the Indy will be one of those needles!
A New Reality?
By CHRISTINE WOLFE
Honey Boo Boo's read on sexuality in America.
a s t we e k , 7 - ye a r - o l d A l a n a Thompson of McIntyre, Georgia reminded America that there “ain’t nothin’ wrong with bein’ a little gay.” Alana, better known by her stage moniker, Honey Boo Boo, explains to her viewers that, despite all of the negative connotations they may have with homosexuality, “everybody’s a little gay,” so they may as well get over it. The context for her stalwart declarations is the arrival of her gay uncle, Lee, affectionately termed by Alana as “Uncle Poodle” (all of the members of the Thompson family, the stars of TLC’s Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, have rather laughable nicknames). While her and her family’s views of gay men are certainly highly stereotyped, her ferocious defense of her clearly beloved uncle is endearing, perhaps even somewhat comforting. It is undeniably true that there are problems with calling all gay men “poodles,” but it is a step in the direction towards acceptance that a young girl from the rural South knows that
her gay uncle is just fine as he is. As Lady Gaga reminded the public last year when she initiated the Born This Way Foundation in Sanders Theatre, there need to be people who will affirm, defend, and befriend people who feel that there is something wrong with them. What bullied individual wouldn’t want one sassy, loud-mouthed girl on their side? Stereotypes are a real problem, but so are the practicalities of violence and depression. To have more people defending those whom they love against the harsh words of others can bring immediate solutions to serious problems. Reality shows are often criticized for promoting the worst human behaviors, including egotism, a lack of self-control, and complete idiocy. TLC, the program that broadcasts Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, has been harshly criticized for its exploitative television programming. Under particular criticism is their program Toddlers and Tiaras, in which Alana made her first television appearance. Toddlers and Tiaras, a show
following child beauty pageants, premiered in 2009, and since then it has been the source of numerous controversies, including multiple custody battles fought over child mistreatment. Major news outlets, including the Huffington Post and Fox News, as well as bloggers, such as Momotics, have railed against the program (Momotics have a post on the show entitled, Todders and Tiaras: How is this Not Child Abuse?). There have been problems not only with the unrealistic beauty standards promoted by the pageants but also in the light of the incredible pressure put on these small children to perform. Alana was first made famous by her “special juice,” a (presumably dangerous) concoction of sugar and energy drinks that helps her keep energy up for the pageant. When TLC decided to produce a program following Alana and her family, it seemed as if they had stumbled onto a gold mine of trashiness sure to draw their usual audience of accident-onlookers, even worse than their
decidedly controversial Toddlers and Tiaras. But what they didn’t expect was the charm and genuine affection of this confessedly silly family, only exemplified by Alana’s comments about her uncle last week. The Thompson family may be ridiculous, but they do not have the usual reality TV star attitude of manipulation and discord. This is a family that clearly loves and supports each other. Yes, they have ridiculous nicknames, they professionally coupon, and the father does not seem to know his colors. But there is no doubt that this family is caring, even towards those people who would not usually fit into the Thompson’s community. Maybe the 2.8 million people who tuned in to last week’s episode (CNN) will learn a little something about acceptance, or at least more than they would from The Kardashians. Christine Wolfe ’14 (crwolfe@college) is an ardent fan of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Get off her back about it.
Pride, Prejudice, and the Cockroach I
A Dorm Crew Captain faces her natural enemy at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
n the back right-hand corner of the “Arthropods: Creatures that Rule” gallery in the Harvard Museum of Natural History, a new banner appeared overhead on the morning of Saturday, September 29th. It was hideous. In a gallery holding shelves of jars filled with the bleached corpses of various arthropods floating in pale yellow embalming fluid, the small rectangular banner reading “Blattodea” was the worst sight in it. It made the skin crawl, and to my horror, as I approached I realized that this banner was heralding the grand opening of the new mini-exhibit I had been told about but hadn’t fully digested. The Harvard Museum of Natural History had devoted an entire corner of one of its galleries to my natural enemy, one of the vilest leggedthings alive, the cockroach. Cockroaches are, of course, not my enemy alone. Creepy, crawly, dirty, horribly fast, often flying, and very, very big, cockroaches are the scourge of anyone who lives indoors and eats. They are the enemy of the Harvard College river-dweller who must fight them off as they swarm from the shower drains and nest in the pizza boxes that decorate the floor; they are the enemy of the Harvard College graduate, who must fight them off in his first apartment as they swarm from the shower drains and nest in the pizza boxes that decorate the floor. They are my enemy in particular, however, because as a Dorm Crew Captain I am on the front lines of the battle not as a soldier, but as a general. When students move out of dorms in the spring and at the end of the summer, Dorm Crew invades as an army of sweepers, moppers, 6
dusters, toilet scrubbers, and harbingers of doom and death for cobwebs and the critters that live within. As Captain, I bear some responsibility for the final eradication of these things, and the cockroaches — I counted ten in one Lowell suite alone — are the worst of them. As a captain, I have drowned cockroaches, beheaded cockroaches, flushed cockroaches, slowly suffocated them with clouds of industrial degreaser, and, when they are too fast and there’s no worker in the room to be brave for, shrieked at them and run away (I have never, however, stepped on a cockroach. That’s how you spread their eggs). I hate cockroaches, yet as I neared the exhibit out of moral outrage and the allure of the macabre, a phrase stamped on the yellow wall above two cases of cockroach carcasses stopped me: “advanced parental care”. Did you know that several species of cockroach (and there are over 4,500 species) are more or less breast-fed by their mothers for up to a year? Or that cockroach fathers are heavily involved in their offspring’s upbringing? Or that some baby cockroaches live with their parents for at least the first four years of their lives? I didn’t, and as I turned to the left and gazed at the smiling face of the elderly Dr. Louis M. Roth — a Harvard entomologist who dedicated his life to the study and vindication of the now-lowly cockroach who once ruled the earth — I realized cockroaches have families, and the vegetarian in me died a little. The centerpiece of the exhibit, other than the cockroach carcasses and a duo of live hissing Madagascars, were the cockroach
By MEGHAN BROOKS
drawings by museum intern Marc Socié. An exchange student from the École nationale supérieure des arts decoratifs in Paris, Socié had clearly rendered the drawings carefully, and a poem on the kind cockroach by Mary Ann Hoberman graced the wall as well. I felt guilty and small in this corner of the Harvard Museum of Natural History where so much attention had been lavished on the victim of my violence, and despite my hesitance, I solemnly promised to the larger of the
Madagascars that my hatred for his people was quelled. On Monday I cleaned a bathroom in Dunster and killed a cockroach as it scurried from under the bathmat into the shower. I’m sorry, Blattodea. Old habits die hard. Meghan Brooks ’14 (meghanbrooks@college) doesn’t eat cockroaches, at the least.
The Harvard Museum of Natural History presents
Cockroaches in Their Natural Habitats
10.04.12• The Harvard Independent
No master of plot
PICTURE SHOW the indy
The Indy reviews The Master.
The Master (2012) PICTURE SHOW Director Paul Thomas Anderson
By FRANK TAMBERINO
eing aware of the creative potential
in a piece of art, but not being able to appreciate it, is a frustrating experience. Critics are accustomed to the phenomena of misunderstood art: how something can be offensive and enigmatic in its time, but hailed as a triumph years later when perspective is gained. This new framework leads many critics to praise films that seem important, but leave the “experts” just as confounded as the general public (the public, by the way, never lies). As I waited to enter my seven o’clock showing of The Master, I encountered the previous audience exiting the theater, a parade of puzzled faces. I picked up on such comments as “What the hell was that?” and “Did you guys actually enjoy that?” The Master has taught me never to resent the average moviegoer for a shallow appreciation of cinema. He or she represents an important, yet often overlooked, aspect of filmmaking: the ability to entertain. This is no easy film to decipher. It revolves around the science of insanity, cult-worship, and the effects of severe trauma (let alone the guzzling of paint-thinner) on the human mind. With The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson tore up the blueprint for a traditional cinematic experience. But was the result a film with the dual potential to entertain and to deliver a message that is as slippery as it is disturbing? Hardly. Joaquin Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, an alcoholic World War II veteran who fails to understand society and stumbles into the lap of Lancaster Dodd, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Dodd is the leader of a cult preaching ideas about time-travel and reincarnation. The two experience an immediate connection and begin to attempt to heal Quell of his condition through a series of tedious and ostensibly ludicrous metaphysical exercises. The acting is exceptional. It is often difficult to look in Phoenix’s eyes, burning with insanity and desperation. It is the accuracy with which these themes are depicted that makes The Master such a The Harvard Independent • 10.04.12
draining experience. Quell is an animal on a path of self-destruction who is always ready to fight, fornicate, and ingest anything containing alcohol (including turpentine and paint thinner). He makes expressions that are reminiscent of a snarling gargoyle and walks like a werewolf with a limp. Phoenix creates a truly inhuman character for this role in both his physical presence and his psychology. Quell is such a perplexing creature that it is hard to believe his condition is entirely born of post-traumatic stress from the war, not something aspect of fundamentally deformity. As the film progresses, it is made evident that there is something twisted about his character. His condition stems from a problem deeply rooted in his nature, not as a human being, but as an animal. He is not merely unwilling to conform to societal standards or function under any sort of authority, but rather, he is incapable of it. The conflict between Quell’s refusal to commit to anything and the fervent dedication required of a cultmember makes for a fascinating premise. Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd creates what I can only imagine is a spot-on depiction of a cult-leader who is as intelligent and sophisticated as he is insane. Dodd sees Quell as a challenge to his ability to persuade and enthrall with fantastical methods combining psychoanalysis, hypnotism, and a firm belief in the journey of the human soul from one body to the next. Hoffman’s standout scene — in my opinion — is one in which he is confronted with a stubborn cynic at a dinner party full of potential cultmembers. Dodd’s response to an aggressive inquiry of his work results in a clash of his enhanced intellect and his volcanic nature, making for one of the few scenes that is a pleasure to watch. What is it that makes The Master an exhausting, if not painful, ordeal? By attempting to equate Quell’s experience with that of the audience, depicting mindnumbing cult rituals that pick away at your
brain with the tedium that Quell himself is enduring, the film pulls its audience into the discomfort of inhumanity. Due to Quell’s animalistic obstinacy and Dodd’s zealous enthusiasm, the characters seem stuck, unable to resolve their fates. Quell and Dodd are both clearly disturbed in their own ways, but one respect in which they are similar is their unwillingness to change. This makes for a story that is entirely devoid of character arcs. And without character arcs, there is hardly any movement in the plot. Paul Thomas Anderson must have foreseen this lack of movement as an inevitable result of his mission, but what he failed to see is the effect that it would have on audience coming to theaters to watch a story unfold on the screen and be sufficiently entertained. The Master showcases extraordinary talent and poses some interesting questions, but it is by no means a satisfying experience. Films are not books. They cannot be examined in the same way because they occur as a single, seamless exposition. They must be able to pull in and amuse the audience before they can attend to the message of the film and instill questions in the viewer’s mind. Paul Thomas Anderson is undoubtedly a brilliant pioneer of his field who has proved his abilities in films such as There Will Be Blood, which told a story that entertained with constant action and riveting dialogue, but it also nurtured complex themes under the surface. The Master achieves the latter, but in regards to the former, is not even comparable to what Anderson has done in the past. The actors deliver Oscar-worthy performances but have no real story with which to interact. The product is a film that is stagnant and difficult to endure.
Cast PICTURE Joaquin Phoenix SHOW Philip Seymour Hoffman
Film stills courtesy of PICTURE The Weinstein ComSHOW pany
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Frank Tamberino ’16 (franktamberino@college) is ready for an entertaining experience on screen.
PICTURE SHOW the indy
As if there were an adolescence that wasn't flawed. The Indy reviews The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
PICTURE SHOW By CLAIRE ATWOOD the indy
PICTURE SHOW The Perks of Being a the indy Wallflower (2012) PICTURE SHOW Director Steven Chbosky
Cast PICTURE Logan Lerman SHOW Emma Watson Ezra Miller the indy
Film stills courtesy of PICTURE Summit Entertainment SHOW
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PICTURE SHOW 8
he Perks of Being a Wallflower begins
and ends with images of highways: lights flickering along the roofs of tunnels, grooves in the cement streaming by in unending succession, the skeletons of bridges arching overhead. While a nod to the film’s tagline, “we are infinite,” the visual is also a solid metaphor for adolescence – by turns thrillingly expansive and stiflingly isolated, but always immersive – the composite of a million moments that will never again be grasped in the same way, the end always just out of sight. Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 novel of the same name, on which the film is based, got at these truths like few others have before or since. Fans of the beloved source material will be pleased to know that Perks, written and directed by Chbosky himself, is faithful to the original novel in both plot and atmosphere. The film is structured around a series of self-revelatory letters that Charlie (Logan Lerman), a trodden-on high school freshman who communicates in deadpan stares, shrugs, and raises of his permanently rounded eyebrows, sends to a stranger in the course of his first year. Charlie goes to the archetypal high school, familiar from John Hughes films and (in a stylized form) from episodes of shows like Glee: a herding-pen of unmotivated students who arrange themselves in hostile cliques, complete with swaggering jocks, abusive upperclassmen, and a world-wise English teacher (Paul Rudd) who notices and nurtures Charlie’s literary sensitivity. For the most part, however, Charlie watches from the sidelines (literally) and is bullied by his classmates, while details from his past – a friend who shot himself, time spent in a psychiatric hospital – are revealed only gradually. Redemption from all this comes in the form of stepsiblings Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson, sporting an American accent), two seniors with an inclusive bend whose wry banter and music references offer Charlie a welcome alternative to harassment and indifference.
Recognizing Charlie’s loneliness as well as his good nature, Patrick and Sam take him to his first party and initiate him into their group of stoners, misfits, and music nerds. That semester, Charlie gets high, covers his blank walls with photographs, disseminates mix tapes, stars in “Rocky Horror,” and falls hard for Sam, who is dating the magnificently douchey college boy Craig (Reece Thompson). Charlie’s transformation is touching and believable, and it’s hard not to shed a tear when he responds to a toast by saying, eyes downcast: “I didn’t think anyone noticed me.” Though Watson, in dark eye makeup and a series of clingy outfits, is prettier than ever, her performance is occasionally stiff. Lines like “Welcome to the island of misfit toys” fall woodenly from her lips, and she never loosens up enough for her moments of joy to be convincing. She excels, however, in moments of vulnerability, and her scenes with Lerman are at once tender and raw. It is Miller, though, who brings real exuberance to the early scenes, playing off of Lerman and Watson’s seriousness and bringing the film firmly back down to earth when it threatens to stray into melodrama. Miller, though only twenty, has fully mastered the physicality of acting, and it is a joy to see the way he scrunches up his face before he laughs, or how his usual ironic expression shifts into a pained smile when Charlie says something unintentionally pitiable. All three principals, however, are at their most exquisite as they break down. Underneath the exhilaration and the poignant swells of David Bowie and the Smiths, there are currents of palpable pain that encroach further and further into Charlie’s life, from both inside and out. Almost all of the younger characters have some sort of sob story, but none of them (apart from Lerman’s and Miller’s) are developed beyond shades of innuendo that were vastly more effective on paper. Still, the leads make do with what they
are given. As she demonstrated in the Potter movies, Watson can cry with the best of them, and between the growing cracks in his bravado, Miller allows us a glimpse of a Patrick who feels as bitter, jaded, and powerless as everyone around him. It is Lerman, however, who gives us the most affecting moment in the film, when Charlie, reduced to a mass of tics, regains consciousness after a mental break and is made to verbalize a truth about his childhood he had previously repressed. Like its characters, Perks has its flaws, some of which come with the genre. Several characters, notably Charlie’s friend and later girlfriend Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman), are dimly conceived or fall into movie stereotypes for the sake of comedy, and the bullies and jocks that people the school hallways are so onesidedly loathsome that, even when used as a contrast against Charlie and his friends, they are simply not believable. In fact, it sometimes seems that the cast has been cobbled together from two different films entirely: one, the emotionally truthful film that is Perks at its best, and another that is curiously acquiescent with the very stereotypes it would aim to skewer. Quibbles aside, the film is a sensitive and emotionally potent adaptation that manages to deal insightfully with sexuality, child abuse, drug use, and mental illness, all while maintaining a PG-13 rating. It is emotionally high-octane from the start and only gets deeper, darker, and more frenetic as it progresses, making for an exhausting viewing experience that only heightens the relief of its glorious catharsis. We are left with a final impression of three young people who, after slogging through the muck of messy self-discovery, stop walking around in self-destructive circles, make it out, and find that life gets better — something we all should remember. Claire Atwood ’16 (catwood@college) is glad to see Hermione in a new avatar. 10.04.12 • The Harvard Independent
The incommunicable suffering of Malina
The Indy analyzes the Werner Schroeter piece, screened at a retrospective held by the Harvard Film Archive.
By SARAH ROSENTHAL
Werner Schroeter’s Malina (1991), one becomes consumed by the simultaneous repetition and fragmentation of the action just as the protagonist herself is consumed by love and insanity. The effect is one that makes the experience worthwhile, but anything close to a complete understanding of the movie won’t arise with the first viewing. The film itself, screened on Saturday, September 29th at the Harvard Film Archive as part of The Passions of Werner Schroeter, a retrospective of the German director’s work, is difficult to describe. It follows a nameless female writer and her relationships with two men, one businesslike and the other playful, as she loses her sanity and is absorbed by the ghosts of her past. She spends most of her time smoking, attempting to write, putting on lipstick, looking in the mirror, sleeping with her boyfriend, and trying to convince herself that she needs neither that man nor Malina, the serious man whose relationship to her remains ambiguous until the end of the film. The movie is drenched in symbolism and visual motifs to the point of cliché, but the most interesting aspect of it is the protagonists’ relationship with words. The protagonist is supposedly a novelist, but she spends more time scattering papers on the floor and shoving them into envelopes than she does writing. At one crucial moment, she makes a list of names and nouns, thereby presenting the labels of everyone or everything of importance in her life. It includes the names of her men, Ivan and Malina, the name of her deceased sister, Eleonor, and various other words like “animal”. This list of words seems to present the fundamental problem with the protagonist: her life revolves around words, but these are so incapable of communicating the depths into which her life is sinking. This theme is interesting as one addressed by film, which revolves around visual rather than verbal language, but serves to bring up questions about the refter watching a film like
The Harvard Independent • 10.04.12
lationship between the movie and Ingeborg Bachmann’s novel whose title it shares and on which it is based. Without having read this novel, I can only speculate, but I suspect that the film is more intellectually powerful as a companion to the source material than it is on its own. This stems from the fact that (as the Film Archive representative who introduced the movie explained) the novel uses the medium of language to explain the inability of language to convey emotion. Within the isolated movie, at least upon the first viewing, much of the beauty of the messages about language and self-destruction are overshadowed by the viewer’s confusion about who Malina actually is. Of course, in conjunction with consideration of the amount of power words and names do and do not have, this provokes a few thin layers of thought. However, given the oppressive amount of visual information given to the viewer to untangle over the course of the film, including a crowd of people constantly running somewhere just to look down while a violinist accompanies them badly, single threads of meaning are difficult to follow. In this way, the film itself reads like a complex book, especially one which the reader must constantly flip through to refer to previous passages. In my consideration of the film’s relationship to words, I couldn’t help putting large weight on the fact that this particular screening presented the French language version of a German film with English subtitles. This mixing of languages seemed to present the very problem with the abstraction of words which the protagonist confronts, and yet is removed from the protagonist’s mind, since her character speaks within the movie’s world, and not to an audience which may or may not understand her language. At the same time, she recognizes that her spoken words are not as powerful as she might hope, as evidenced by her constantly turning to opera or
wordless screaming as expressions of emotion. Her tone is frequently exaggerated to compensate for the ambiguity of her statements, but she comes across more as a lunatic than as a woman desperate for communication. This is probably a function of the notion that the lack of visual and audio subtlety and the emphasis on the relationship between the woman and the men steer the audience to look rather than read. The message emphasizing the powerlessness of words is lost because the protagonist is powerless not just because of her words, but also because of simple themes like the power of love. Ultimately, I would not say it was a bad movie, and I even enjoyed watching it. However, I think that much of the symbolism Schroeter attempted to convey reads more as visual clutter than as a message. That which we see is more able to communicate emotion and meaning than written or spoken language, so the message of inability or emptiness reads more as a woman’s struggle against love than utter frustration over the nature of her world. But to make a true judgment of this, I need to read the book and see the movie a few more times – at least until the fire the woman surrounds herself with becomes more than a clichéd symbol of passion. Sarah Rosenthal ’15 (srosenthal@college) is excited to explore the connection between words and reels, but may be next time through a Potter movie.
PICTURE SHOW theMalina indy (1991)
PICTURE SHOW Director Werner Schroeter
Cast PICTURE Isabelle Huppert SHOW Mathieu Carrière Can Togay
Film stills courtesy PICTURE of Kuchenreuther Filmproduktion SHOW
PICTURE SHOW the indy
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An Empty Lambasting
Harvard dominates Holy Cross, 52–3 to win twelfth straight game.
By SEAN FRAZZETTE
EFORE THE RAIN, LAST Friday’s football game against Holy Cross (0-4) had promise. There would be free ice cream, good football, and Friday festivities before and after the game. And then the rain came. During the rain, the very same football game had lost all of its promise. There was no ice cream, nor
Courtesy of the Indy Archives
would anyone have wanted it as a cold mist rose from the bleachers. The football was good for Harvard’s record and standing, but boring, as dedicated fans felt obligated to stay despite the weather and score. Upon arrival, if one casted a look at either side of the stands, he or she would notice the mostly empty
stone seats and the somewhat more crowded wood seats under the shelter. The lack of fans was a theme for the day. Freshman Dean Tom Dingman ’67 said it best: “It’s unfortunate the weather has kept a number of people who were here for reunions and other events from attending the game. I think we might well have had fifteen thousand people or so tonight, but you can see the stands are pretty empty.” While fifteen thousand fans may be a little high, at least over a few hundred would have been nice. Fans or not, however, Harvard (3-0) football took the field — and very convincingly so. Two minutes and eleven seconds in (and over the course of five plays), the Crimson put up the first points of the game, as senior quarterback Colton Chapple struck sophomore wide receiver Ricky Zorn in the middle of the end zone for six points. Those would prove to be the only points needed by the Crimson. The rest of the first half was like watching the Washington Generals try their best against the Harlem Globetrotters. Nothing Holy Cross tried worked. Their best chance came shortly after Harvard scored, when sophomore quarterback Ryan Laughlin hit tight end Reed Apfelbaum in the chest in the corner of the end zone, only to have the senior drop the ball. For the rest of the game, the ball never had a chance to cross the goal line. The Crusaders kicked a field goal on that drive, and then proceeded to be blanked for the rest of the game.
Holy Cross’s defense did not hold its own much better. In fact, the next five Harvard drives — every drive of the first half by the Crimson — ended with a touchdown. Along with those six offensive scores, the Crimson’s special teams got involved as well. Trailing 14–3, the Crusaders junior punter John Macomber looked to kick the ball deep into Harvard territory, only to be blocked by sophomore Connor Sheehan. With the ball loose, Harvard senior DJ Monroe scooped up the pigskin and trotted in to the end zone to extend the lead even further. In total, the half saw four touchdown passes, one run from Chapple, a run from senior runningback Rich Zajeski, and a blocked punt return. Going into the locker rooms, Harvard had devastated the team from Worchester, leading 49–3. On their first drive of the second half, the Crimson kicked a field goal, tacking on the final points of the game to set the score at 52–3. Holy Cross had limited chances for the rest of the game as the Harvard defense squashed any attempts to put more points on the board. If there had been fans at the game, I’m sure they would have been pleased. Yet they weren’t. Even the alumni were not in full force. People arrived late and left early. But despite the poor showing from the students, the team showed up in full force, racking up 520 yards of total offense and holding Holy Cross to a measly 190 yards. The team faces the Cornell Big Red (2-1) next week, as they continue their quest to another Ivy League championship. And in the words of Dean Dingman, with three wins under the Crimson’s belt, “I think it’s a very exciting beginning and you can only feel super optimistic.” Sean Frazzette ’16 (sfrazzette@college) is still upset that there was no ice cream.
10.04.12 • The Harvard Independent
Chillin’ with Champions
The Indy takes the ice.
AST WEEKEND, HARVARD University hosted some of the world’s biggest names in figure skating in the 42nd annual An Evening with Champions. Hosted by Eliot House and completely studentrun, An Evening with Champions aims to raise money for the Jimmy Fund, which supports adult and pediatric cancer research at the DanaFarber Cancer Institute. This year’s co-chairs, Laura Kim and Amanda Black, have brought the amount raised for the Jimmy Fund by An Evening With Champions to more than $2.6 million. An Evening with Champions brought many great names to Harvard’s ice this year, including (but not limited to) Christina Gao, Jeremy Abbott, Emily Hughes, Ryan Bradley, Kimmie Meisner, Paul Wylie, Agnes Zawadski, Jason Brown, and the Haydenettes. The night’s hosts were Paul Wylie ‘91 (1992 Olympic Silver Medalist) and Emily Hughes ‘11 (2006 Olympian), both Harvard alumni. They provided a casual link between the performances, giving brief introductions and conducting the occasional post-performance interview. For those at all familiar with the figure skating world, this line-up made the event a must-see. The highlights of the show included: Paul Wylie doing an ina bauer, camel spin, sit spin combination in a full suit; the crowd-pleasing MC Hammer act of Jason Brown (2012 World Jr. Bronze Medalist); the deathdefying lifts and stunts of pair skaters Melanie Lambert and Fred Palascak, Christina Gao (’09-’10 Jr. Grand Prix Final Bronze Medalist) and her ethereal classical performance; the entertaining and somewhat provocative — ladies, please don’t faint in ecstasy, but yes, there was a sweater taken off — performance of Ryan Bradley (2011 U.S. Champion); and other emotionally powerful performances that came from Jeremy Abbott (2010 Olympian), Emily Hughes, and Kimmie Meissner (2006 World Champion and Olympian). Sunday’s performance also featured a Theater on Ice group, Act I of Boston, in an eerily fantastical piece. After the performance, the Indy had the chance to catch up with some of the skaters and ask them a few questions. To the people involved, An Evening The Harvard Independent • 10.04.12
with Champions represents an honorable cause to support and a reputable community with whom to skate. But to some, it also represents something more personal. For both Abbott and Hughes, family members have been through cancer, and An Evening with Champions represents an issue that’s very close to home. Abbots tells us of his long standing desire to perform in the show, not only because of its prestige among the skating community, but also because of how cancer has affected him: “my mom had two bouts of skin cancer so it hits close to home. I’m always excited to help in any way I can for causes like this.” At this point, a gleamingeyed fan interrupted us to ask for a signature. Hughes also addressed the impact of the event: “My mom had breast cancer about 13 years ago, so I try to do a lot of charity in relation to breast cancer and cancer research so this was really close to me. And it’s great to come back every year, especially as a student, to be skating here in front of my friends and my parents.” Skaters realize the importance of time management, whether they themselves went to college or not. They may be seasoned at the balance between academics and athleticism, like Bradley, or just experiencing this challenge for the first time, like Zawadski. Whoever they may be, procrastination is everyone’s enemy. “Time management is the biggest thing,” Bradley says. “I went to school for 3 years full time while trying to train full time as well so there’s a lot of 7 am and 9 pm classes. It was a lot, but you just really have to manage your time well and have a plan. I used to have to write what I was going to do every hour of every day, and then I’d be set.” Despite their busy schedules, they all agree that Boston is a great place to be. For Abbott, it’s the beautiful architecture, the weather, and the “great vibe and attitude.” Bradley relishes in anti-Yankee sentiment. Zawadski loves the Harvard campus and surrounding area: “it feels very European to me.” And for Hughes, who graduated from the college in 2011, taking walks along the river “brings back so many great memories.” What may surprise spectators the most might be the number of Harvard
By WHITNEY GAO affiliates participating in the show. Not only did the Harvard University Figure Skating Club perform a group number, but also many solo acts are, or were, Harvard students themselves. As already mentioned, both hosts are Harvard alumni. On Sunday, Harrison Choate, an already admitted member of Harvard’s Class of 2017 and the 2012 U.S. National Jr. Pewter Medalist, took the ice. Christina Gao is also one of our own, a freshman in Straus Hall. The Harvard Independent had the privilege of getting to know Gao a little better when we met with her in Starbucks in the Square. Hailing from Cincinnati, Gao has spent the last few years training in Toronto, so this away-from-home college experience isn’t too much of a shock to her. An Evening with Champions, not only an amazing cause, also provides a chance for her to reconnect with figure skating friends she doesn’t normally get to see nowadays. As she tells The Harvard Independent, this is her second time with An Evening with Champions, and she’s glad to be back. Gao is unsure of what she would like to study, but she’s taking Economics 10 and — so far — it’s been a good time. Biology is also a passion, so perhaps her academic forays will take her in that direction next. Balancing her skating and her schoolwork has been manageable, but somewhat difficult. Waking up early from training from 8 to 11 in the morning, Gao initially bought a bike for the trip. Unfortunately, her bike was stolen, but this just became a reason to
purchase a razor scooter and be all the more unique. Besides skating, Gao also is a member of the Chinese Students Association and the Asian American Christian Fellowship, but figure skating continues to be her major extracurricular commitment. She hopes to also join the Asian American Dance Team in the future. Gao has two competitions in the fall, Nationals in January in Omaha, Nebraska, and next year is the qualifying year for the Olympics, so she’ll be keeping busy in terms of the figure skating competition season. Keep track of her progress! But in the meantime, she says she’s exceptionally social and such a warm and welcoming person. Get to know her if you can —she’s a great addition to the Class of 2016 (Take that Stanford!). Whitney Gao ’16 (whitneygao@college), a former figure skater, was overjoyed to have met so many of her idols (and had a picture taken with Ryan Bradley)!
Courtesy of Maria Barragn-Santana
drawn & quartered ANNA PAPP
The Indy is redecorating and our cover looks the part! Featuring stories on an Evening with Champions, Argentina President Cristina Kirchner...