Jerk March 2023

Page 40

March 2023 Vol XXII Issue III
New York
student fee THE MARCH ISSUE

OMG, you’re my dream mag! @jerkmagazine We know.


Lilly Chidlaw-Mayen


Sarah Dolgin



FOB EDITOR: Megan Adams

ASST. FOB EDITOR: Jojo Wertheimer




ASST. FEATURES EDITOR: Joelle de Poto & Sadiya Kherani

GAWK EDITOR: Lily Brooks




NOISE EDITOR: Chloe Langerman



Jackson Barnes, Roxanne Boychuk, Maddy Brousseau, Sophie Davis, Bryan Fletcher, Kathryn Hendry, Kiran Hubbard, CM McCambridge, Isa Naro, Madeleine Oliveros, Gray Reed, Miguel Rodriguez, Teddy Ryan, Nadia Weller, Qiong Wu


DIRECTORS: Daisy Leepson & Emma Novy

EDITORS: Haley Moreland & Ella Welsh


WEB COORDINATORS: Brandon Veale & Vivian Wang

STAFF WRITERS: Kylie Adedeji, Naiya Amin, Timia Cobb, Sophie Davis, Molly Egan, Georgia Fernandez, Yewon Hong, Kiran Hubbard, Mckenzie Johnson, Amanda Kosta, Victoria Lafarge, Tania Ortiz, Catherine Scott, Josephine VanRy, Ireland Walker, Nadia Weller



VIDEO DIRECTORS: Olivia Allison & Luci Messineo-Witt

PODCAST TEAM: Emma Lambiaso, Daisy Leepson, Zoë McCreary



DESIGNERS: Katie Cefalo, Marisa Goldberg, Travis Newbery, Megan Radakovich, Lindsey Smiles

ILLUSTRATORS: Katie Cefalo, Marisa Goldberg, Matt Latvis, Fe Kligerman, Hallie Meyer, Kodah Thompson, Freddy Toglia


PHOTOGRAPHERS: Grace Hayden, Abigail Johnson, Maya Lockwood, Vivienne Love, Kailyn Peng, Ellie Sternschein, Yiting Wang, Krystal Zhang


Through its content, Jerk is dedicated to enhancing insight through communication by providing an informal platform for the freedom of expression. The writing contained within this publication expresses the opinions of the individual writers. The opinions expressed herein are not those of Syracuse University, the Office of Student Activities, the Student Association, or the student body. Additionally, the ideas presented in this publication do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Jerk Editorial Board. Furthermore, Jerk will not be held responsible for the individual opinions expressed within. Submissions, suggestions, and opinions are welcomed and may be printed without contacting the writer. Jerk reserves the right to edit or refuse submissions at the discretion of its editors. Jerk Magazine is published monthly during the Syracuse University academic year. All contents of the publication are copyright 2021 by their respective creators. No content may be reproduced without the expressed written consent of the Jerk Editorial Board.



I love magazines. “ Zoe,” You’re thinking, “Duh. You’re a Magazine major, not to mention the Editor in Chief of the magazine I’m reading right now.” What an astute observation, my dear Jerk

When I say I love magazines, I don’t mean I love the words and pictures in this magazine (although I do!). I love getting to put my hands on the paper, smudging ink on the heel of my hand as I edit, and working with our fantastic design and photography teams to conceptualize images. One of the most visceral moments of my life was the first time I saw my name in print. My brain formed a core memory as I touched the letters that made up the words “By Zoe Glasser” in my high school newspaper. That might be a total journalism nerd moment, but it’s true. So when I say I love magazines, I also mean that I love holding a little glossy book of gorgeous words, pictures, and drawings in my hands. I love the process of creating that little book and then getting to share it with a group of people who are equally excited about that process.

We at Jerk know that, as time passes, technological innovation may eat our little book alive. Still, we like to think that there’s room for everyone in this wide world. So, this issue of Jerk is all about time — the future, the past, and everything in between. We take a microscope, and sometimes a hammer, to long-standing norms, like violence against women disguised as kink on page 11. We dissect the future of AI and what it could mean for both artists and the privacy of individuals on pages 17 and 35. We celebrate our favorite timeless trash TV, old and new, on page 57.

Much of the human experience is spent contemplating the past or the future — worrying about it, studying it, preparing for it, or all of the above. This is also true of the print journalism industry. For the past 4 years, I have learned all of the possible reasons why my job may not exist soon and how to stay afloat in an industry built on constant change. A lot of my peers at Jerk who plan to go into the media industry have done the same. Maybe

you’ve even been forced to think about how to pivot your career in one of your classes. In all likelihood, you have; if there’s one thing we know about time, it’s that it guarantees nothing.

It’s possible that there may not be a print version of Jerk in the future, but there will always be print issues from the past. We’ll hold on to these little books that we made together. We can always find meaning and truth in them, and we’ll remember the process. For now, though, us Jerks are going to continue making our little book twice a semester, and we hope you continue reading it. And, in case you were wondering, none of these articles were written by ChatGPT.



Hit/Bitch Jojo

March Horoscopes

Sex: Unmasking Misogyny

Disguised as Kink

Margo Moran

Framed: Lilah Ali

Joelle de Poto

21 +/- Thoma mi Paloma Megan Adams

Art as Algorithm

Franco’s Search for Stardom

Have You Bean There Done That? Kathryn

Prozac and Privilege Isa Naro Consent for the AI Generation Emane Haque Doubts, Denial, and Diplomas Russell Tom Sun Joanne Rowling’s Respectability CM McCambridge 15 17 19 21 Pulling Back the Curtain on SU Drama’s Body Shaming
Kherani & Roxanne Boychuk
Verbal Blend Brews Confidence
Madeleine Oliveros
Fault in Our Drunk Cigs Qiong Wu
Joelle De Poto
Karla Perez
23 27 31 35 39 40
the Internet
Hendry & Nadia Weller
Jerk on
But wait, there’s more...
Maddy Brosseau
7 9 10 11 13 14


Disabled Empowerment

Cassia Soodak & Lily Brooks

It’s Giving Nothing

Lily Brooks & Chloe


Form & Function: How to Dress Like a Hoe That Never Gets Cold

Makenna John & Noa Putman

Closet Case: Slow

Fashion in Fast Times

Joelle de Poto


A Ride Along with Redgate

Miguel Rodriguez

Package: High/Low Cuture

Sophie Davis, Kiran Hubbard, Lily Brooks, Gray Reed

Amplified: Nykara

Emane Haque

Taking Survivor to Tribal Council

Eden Stratton 41 49 51 52 53 57 65 66

Listen to Jerk’s weekly podcast, Hit and Bitch — where Zoë, Emma, and Daisy discuss the things you hate to love and love to hate — on Spotify today!

Jerk Magazine is exploring new ways to compliment our print mag. Find additional content on social media and our website JERK ON THE INTERNET Bringing you the latest and the littest @jerkmagazine JERK THIS 8 JERK 1-14


What we love



It’s about time we have a talk with this damn groundhog. We appreciate the honesty, but it would be nice if Groundhog Phil didn’t see his shadow just this once. With spring semester burnout and winter depression preying on our demise, a little bit of sunshine before mid-March would really do us some good. But indeed, Phil has spoken, and we’re counting down the days until petunias and dartys start to rear their pretty little heads around campus.



Alright, let’s just call it like it is, shall we? Here at Jerk, we don’t do math. We don’t do math, we don’t like math and we don’t support math. I mean hello, we’re in Newhouse, damn. What we do support, however, is pie, whether it be regular pie, a pizza pie, or pieing a DKE boy in the face. In fact, it’s the only day a year that we forget about the number of tears we’ve shed over MAT 221.


MARCH 12 - 19

Whether it be tanning on the sandy beaches of Tahiti or laying on the couch at home for hours at a time (as most of us at Jerk will be doing) spring break cannot come fast enough. So take that brain break, sleep until noon, and don’t think about your C in calculus for the whole week. It’s time for a break and you’ve earned it!


Whether you’ve been locked in on Miley since The Climb or just recently discovered that she’s more than a wrecking ball, Endless Summer Vacation could not come fast enough. Will this be one of 2023’s first no-skip albums? Or will Miley let us down? Not to be dramatic or anything, but if it’s not the former there might be hell to pay. Come on Miley. Do not disappoint.


As excited as leprechauns make us, St. Patrick’s day at Syracuse is more than just a celebration of our long-deceased Irish friend St. Patrick. In fact, it’s a celebration of all that we’ve come to value at this fine institution: Castle Court, drinking, and acting like there’s only one color in the rainbow. Or should we say, this was the true meaning of St. Patrick’s day. With St. Patrick’s day falling over break, our dreams of blacking out on Comstock in a green Amazon jumpsuit have shattered. And to think, it falls on a Friday. All we can say is, missed opportunity.


Do we really need to explain this one? Yes, we may use great aunt Cindy’s Netflix, and yes, we may or may not have shared the password with every hookup we’ve ever Netflix-and-Chilled with, but come on Netflix, are you for the people or not? But alas, if you can’t change the rules, at least try and play the game. With the crackdown estimated to begin at the end of March, it’s important we binge every episode of Gilmore Girls at least once through before then. Good luck soldiers.


God damn it Netflix. Why’d you have to hit us with the double homicide? Not exactly sure what grinds our gears more, the fact that we won’t be able to watch Big Time Rush because it’s leaving the platform or the fact that we won’t be able to mooch into the site in the first place. Come on buddy. Cut us some slack here.

What we hate



Mar. 21 - Apr. 19

Aries baddies, work on your patience this month and come to terms with the fact everything will work out. The drama with friends or the stress of schoolwork will all figure itself out. Focus on something else and treat yourself to a $7 Salt City coffee.


Apr. 20 - May 20

We know you Tauruses love to rot away in bed, but this March please give your dorm a deep clean. And please throw out your DoorDash delivery — it’s been a week.

May 20 - Jun. 20

Gemini, it seems like you’ve been nose deep in other people’s business these days. Instead of observing others, let’s take the time to reflect on how we can be better. Not your circus, not your monkeys!


Jun. 21 - Jul. 22

You might feel a bit of imposter syndrome right now, maybe you’ve just joined a new club or started a new project with people you might not know. Trust that this endeavor will bring you irreplaceable knowledge and experiences. You got this babe.

Jul. 23 - Aug. 22

Leos, you are about to diverge on a new path this month. It might be something as small as changing your drink order or even a new discovery of a study spot on campus, but this could be exciting! So take one second to stop looking at your reflection on the screen and live life!

Aug. 23 - Sep. 22

Virgos, it’s time for you to start going to class. We all need our time off from school, but maybe this month our professors might say something of somewhat importance. But also, what do we know? You guys are always right...


Sep. 23 - Oct. 22

Libras are naturally people pleasers, but maybe this is your season to start asking yourself, “does this really make me happy?” I bet you’ll surprise yourself with what you come up with. This might be a little deep for you though, so just keep chugging your Pink Whitney!

Oct. 23 - Nov. 21

It’s time to let loose, Scorpio. We know you’ve spent long hours in Carnegie, so this month we’re BEGGING you to go out. Get plastered with your besties or find a random hookup, whatever will take the edge off.

Nov. 22 - Dec. 21

Decisions can be hard and the familiar can get boring. What’s going on? Get yourself a green juice and journal a little bit, your emotions are all over the place.


Dec. 21 - Jan. 20

Capricorns, remember to speak up for your needs! Start drafting a notes paragraph dedicated to your friend who’s been on your nerves lately, and resolve that conflict (peacefully).

Jan. 21 - Feb. 18

Good job on taking the time to focus on you recently, and we’re here for it. But can we ask a quick question? When was the last time you checked in on your friends? Shoot them a quick “checkup” text and thank us later!

Feb. 19 - Mar. 20

Pisces, it’s your season. Really listen to yourself this month and follow your intuition so you can thrive! Treat yourself to going to an insane house party this weekend or a movie night at Destiny!




One girl’s last-ditch attempt to explain to men that hating women isn’t kinky.

Today, more than any day that has come before, college-aged people are having kinky sex. What a great day! As more and more people engage in kink, its actual definition and boundaries of kink become further muddled. As our generational understanding of kink moves further from the truth, let’s set the record straight: Merriam-Webster defines kink as “unconventional sexual taste or behavior”. This includes everything outside the sexual mainstream, including BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism, and Masochism). Many sexually active people are familiar with at least this aspect of kink play and have perhaps engaged in it themselves. However, one of the basic tenets of legitimate kink seems to have been lost in translation: if it’s not consensual, it’s not kink. Even in the realm of kinks that intentionally shirk consent, like CNC (Consensual Non-Consent), there always has to be informed and enthusiastic consent given by everyone involved. So, why has kinky heterosexual sex become synonymous with men being violent towards women in sexual contexts without any consent surrounding these aggressive acts? These acts of violence can include non-consensual penetration, beating, choking, etc. The cause of this development, above all else, is a lack of education. When your only sex educator is porn, you may

believe that smacking someone across the face with your dick out of nowhere is super chill and hot sexual behavior. Dick slapping can be so fun if both parties agree to it ahead of time. I can’t emphasize enough that kink, when done right, is a healthy, normal, and extremely pleasurable practice for a lot of people. What we are talking about is not kink, it’s violence.

With an understanding of legitimate kink under our belts (pun intended) we can approach the question at hand: why the fuck do so many men want to hit women so badly? Have they thought about taking up a hobby? Going to one of those rooms where you destroy all the stuff? Learning to knit? Seeing women as human beings? For some men, a good unsuspecting mid-sex smack across the face just sounds so much more fun. When dominating a partner sexually through violent means like punching invades your non-sexual relationship dynamic, it sets a dangerous precedent of control and unequal power in what should be a partnership characterized by give and take. Submissive and dominant relationships should not indicate a lack of respect, and it becomes evident that they have taken a turn for the unbalanced when you start hearing sentiments like, “I love her too much to hurt her,” from the dominant partner.

Legitimate kink is not indicative of any lack of

TW: Sexual Violence

love or respect, and men may fall into the archaic Madonna/whore complex of viewing casual sex partners as unworthy of respect and seeing romantic partners as somehow more human. This is especially unsettling because one would imagine that these men are also probably engaging in that casual sex, but I have lost all energy to feign shock at sexual double standards surrounding gender. Submissive partners may want to be treated with performative disrespect during sex, but very rarely actually want to be considered to be a lesser being by their partner.

As hook-up culture becomes more normal on college campuses, so does having sex with people you haven’t established trust or communication with. These casual sexual relationships can range from empowering to harmful, but one thing is true of all encounters under this umbrella is that you are not in an emotional, monogomous relationship with your partner. For one Syracuse University student, navigating hookup culture as a woman has been

complicated immensely by the violent tendencies of so many men on campus. She finds herself feeling anxious and unsure about safely navigating a culture that normalizes nonconsensual sexual aggression against women on a campus dominated by hookup culture. When any man that you meet at Lucy’s could reveal these violent tendencies after you’ve brought him home to your apartment, you’re bound to be that much more discerning about who you let get close to you, if you can stomach building these connections at all. Once again, the onus of fear and carefulness fall on many women and responsibility is lifted off of their male counterparts. As the line between consensual kinkplay and sexual violence is misconstrued further and further, we here at Jerk leave you with two parting thoughts: first, every time misogynistic sexual violence masquerades as valid kinkplay, you harm not only your partner but the entire kink community by grossly misconstruing what it means to engage in kink; second, go to fucking therapy.



Motivated by the desire to engage with new and exciting artistic ideas, Lilah Ali looks to embrace variety and multidisciplinary innovation in her art. A freshman Studio Arts major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, she engages in multiple disciplines and uses a wide range of mediums to express herself artistically. Open-mindedness and whimsy are core to the work she produces in a variety of ways.

Although she is no stranger to traditional mediums such as graphite, charcoal, oil paint, and clay, she is enamored with resin, multimedia installation art, and colorful ink and pen work. Creating practical objects like incense holders, often shaped like strange and fantastical creatures, is a key part of her art. She also is interested in the idea of artistic permanence, which for her involves creating simplistic and memorable characters such as Roberto, a friendly cat.

Often the charm of Ali’s pieces is in the differences across her pieces. Contrary to the belief that young artists must find their sense of style, she finds comfort in knowing that she does

not have nor want an unquestionably distinct style. She wants to be able to produce a versatile array of artwork and does not want to be limited by the need for cohesion. If anything, her sense of style is purely tied to the themes she portrays. Her funky art forms and elements of comedy help make challenging issues easier to cope with.

Colorful and full of compelling oddities, Ali’s piece Nature Reflects Human Life is the culmination of hours of conceptual research, sketching, and painting. Not only is this painting visually striking and intriguing, but it also sparks dialogue about how nature and humanity are interconnected. The belief that nature reflects human life has a biting irony to it at first, but it subtly nods to the idea that human perception is first and foremost centered around the human experience. Lilah Ali’s artistic practice is unique because she is diverse in her materiality, tone, and subject matter; she consistently follows through with her ideas in a powerful way.

“I do not want to feel pressured to stick to just one thing.”


The Other Tequila Drink.

Making frozen margs is a lot of work. Lots of blending and shaking and all sorts of nonsense no one wants to do when they’re just trying to get drunk on a Tuesday night. The solution? Palomas. As simple or complicated as you want to make them, palomas are versatile and refreshing and the perfect drink to accompany your spring break tan. No matter what Punxsutawney Phil says, spring is on the way in and seasonal depression is on the way out. So let’s press fast-forward and get to the best part of a sunny spring day — a cocktail.

Fun fact: “La Paloma” means dove in Spanish! We guess this drink is a peace sign. Literally.


• 4 oz grapefruit soda

• 2 oz tequila or mezcal

• A little lime juice

• Salt for rim

• Pinch of sugar (optional)


1. Using a glass of your choosing, soak the rim in lime juice and then flip over and dip it in salt so it sticks to the rim.

2. Add 4 oz of grapefruit soda.

3. Add 2 oz of tequila or mezcal.

4. Add a pinch of sugar to taste.

5. Cheers!

21 +/-
Photo by Abby Johnson


Diagnosing the treatment gap.

It doesn’t take much research to learn that we live in a world riddled with depression and anxiety. As students, pressure for good grades, internships, and relationships alone is enough to send us into a downward spiral. When I was 15 years old, I started speaking to a therapist. My anxiety became too much for me to handle on my own, so my parents brought me to a mental health center for adolescents. The center was 9 minutes away from our house in the city and the income of my parents allowed me to see this therapist weekly for two years. If I had an anxiety attack in school, my dad could pull me out. If I became overwhelmed with my responsibilities, I had the ability to take a step back. This is how my privilege affected my experience of depression. The ability to step back when you need to. The ability to seek and receive treatment when it’s needed. The ability to put your life on pause when you need help. This is a luxury that is too often taken for granted by people with privilege.

No matter how rich you are, how pretty you are, or how amazing your life is, anyone can experience clinical depression. For decades, psychiatrists believed depression to be a strictly Western phenomenon that’s only experienced by the wealthy. Numerous studies have shown that those with more money and more success are at a higher risk of being depressed. It could be from pressure, competition, or a never-ending need for material things, but according to a psychologist at Compass Health Group, privilege makes people less resilient. When you haven’t experienced any significant adversity in your life due to your identity or economic status, you’re more likely to accept defeat when faced with mental health issues.


Money is power. Those with financial security are a lot more flexible in allowing the effects of depression to navigate their life. This could mean calling off from work, not showing up to school, or ignoring necessary responsibilities. When the consequences of disregarding these responsibilities don’t make or break your living conditions, resilience seems less essential. However, when your basic needs aren’t being met, the problems that we face as American college students appear to be completely futile. This doesn’t mean that wealthier people don’t experience adversity or haven’t had to overcome any obstacles, what it does mean is that financial stability offers the luxury of letting obstacles overcome your life and routine.

Those who are struggling to make ends meet may not be able to include mental health in their list of priorities because they are more concerned with other things. These people might experience the same symptoms of hopelessness, sadness, and exhaustion as their wealthy counterparts, but can’t afford to put their life on pause to do something about it. Some critics argue that depression medicalizes experiences that could be easily dealt with by stronger family ties, with the implication that people in poverty don’t need the kind of counseling that people in wealthier people receive. Views like these diminish the very real experiences that these people are going through, and create a narrative that only wealthy people in Western countries struggle with depression and anxiety. Dr. Pamela Ryan, an SU philosophy professor, and licensed therapist has worked in shelters with assault and trauma survivors.

“When you’re talking to people living in these shelters, there’s just no way for them to be happy in a housing situation like that. There are fleas, there are bedbugs. People are using drugs and abusing each other. It’s a whole different reality than the reality of this middle class.”

A large factor that contributes to this is accessibility. Access and coverage for mental healthcare and treatment are incredibly limited. Mental health clinics are concentrated in urban areas and psychiatric treatment costs hundreds of dollars per session, as most providers operate outside of health insurance systems. Most health insurance plans don’t cover psychotherapy treatment after the age of 65.

“It’s just so mean,” Dr. Ryan said. “If I’m seeing a patient in their early 60s, I have to stop seeing them when they turn 65 because, in the end, they’re left without money or without good health insurance.”

This leaves a staggering number of outliers in need of mental healthcare that can’t afford the treatment or even the journey to the nearest facility. While the progression of teletherapy and virtual appointments might be intended to mend the accessibility gap in mental health care, it actually deepens the divide. Dr. Ryan says that access to a computer, strong wifi, and a quiet place to talk can be just as inaccessible as actually driving to a mental health clinic.

According to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), less than half of Americans who have a mental health disorder receive treatment and less than 10% receive effective treatment. The numbers only get lower when you look at low-income communities.

“It’s a very eye-opening experience to see how the system works aggressively, at every turn, to make it more difficult to get out,” says Dr. Ryan, “When the system doesn’t care about you, you know it.”

Privilege can present itself in many ways. Depression and anxiety are not to be taken lightly by anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, but mental health treatment should not be an unattainable luxury that only serves the rich. This is a systemic issue. Making mental health treatment available and accessible is not something that can be changed overnight. However, it is important to acknowledge the ways in which financial stability and routine flexibility are privileges that should not be taken for granted.

BITCH 16 JERK 15-22


Deepfakes are deeply fucked.

The gifts from the gods (read: dudes) down in Silicon Valley are never-ending. To name a few: Instagram, Uber, and the short-lived #NFTs. It’s true; entrepreneurial endeavors from the Zuckerberg wannabes down in America’s biggest tech hub have completely changed many of our lives. In 2014, Ian Goodfellow, one such Bay Area bro, surpassed the existing algorithms of face matching and tracking after creating Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs — a set of deep learning processes to output computer-generated images undetectable from the original images it aims to mirror. Although they may not know of the frameworks used, an average person sees the work of GANs in AI voice memes, photo mashups, and Facetune. And that same average person can also watch deepfaked pornography as easily as a video of AI Biden rapping.

In late January, Twitch streamer Atrioc accidentally live-streamed himself on a site of AIgenerated porn of fellow popular female Twitch streamers, including Pokimane and QTCinderella. The widely publicized incident brought the

conversation of deep fakes to the mainstream in the U.S. No longer a murky concept unknown to those outside of the tech world or a plight exclusive to celebs, deepfakes are now a new form of media. Not only is AI porn unethical and damaging, but it also sets a dangerous precedent in the already unregulated porn industry to take advantage of people’s image and likeness.

Within all porn lies the matter of consent; AIcreated porn is no different. For those who fail to see the connection between pornography and consent, Jerk is happy to make that clarification. New York State defines consent as a knowing, voluntary, mutual decision to engage in sexual activity. In relation to content creation, if AIgenerated porn is made without the knowledge and explicit permission of the people who are used as the original source material, it violates consent.

While GANs was not created to make AI porn, the majority of its use is for that very purpose. Sensity, a deepfake detection platform, reported in 2019 that 96% of deepfakes on the internet are pornographic, and 90% of those represent women.


The numbers, while high, reflect our society’s male entitlement; the “who is going to stop me?’’ attitude toward women’s bodies. The unfortunate reality is, for those who watch deep fakes and purchase them, the concept of consent is not unknown to them, but rather they are willing to put aside sexual integrity in order to get off. AI porn is different than catcalling or date rape in its novelty, but the disregard for autonomy and respect is all the same. Dually wrong, Sensity has found deep fakes have been used to make child pornography as well.

All victims of non-consensual porn suffer emotional distress, and the creation of nonconsensual AI porn presents a uniquely ambiguous fear in knowing deepfakes can be made of you and put out on the web, and you may not even know. While most popular deepfakes are made of female celebrities and influencers, the use of technology is not limited to women in mainstream media. Being deep-faked can happen to anyone. Knowing there are explicit videos of “you” being watched, spread, and monetized off creates extreme stress for the women who are aware of their abuse. It is unknown how many victims have no knowledge of their image being used and how many are victims of revenge porn or extortion via deepfake creation.

After the Deepfake site featuring nonconsensual AI porn went viral following Atrioc’s stream, QTCinderella tweeted, “I want to scream. Stop. Everybody fucking stop. Stop spreading it. Stop advertising it. Stop.” While she received support, many reply tweets displayed blatant victim blaming. User @Davy97259476 wrote, “It’s 2023 QT, get over it. Nobody got touched, nobody is underage. Just a few horny viewers that don’t get excited with regular porn anymore. Most probably have a rough life and if this is something that prevents them from going real crazy, I’m not judging,” illustrating the irony of where empathy is directed.

User @RichardWaldner wrote, “Does being deepfaked make the content real? It’s just fancy photoshop that doesn’t actually show what the women who obviously didn’t consent to this think it shows. Might be small peanuts to me and I apologize if it comes across wrong.” This minimizes the issue of non-consensual porn to ‘fancy photoshop.’

Another user, @AdriianFTW wrote, “You’ve done more to advertise it than the sites do themselves.

Get a grip of yourself girl.” The tweets speak to the men’s dismissal of virtual sexual abuse. Women’s pain becomes the basis for sexual gratification, and then they are faulted for their outrage.

The sheer difficulty in taking down the content and permanence of the internet also exacerbates trauma. While certain platforms, like Reddit and Pornhub, have attempted to remove and ban deepfakes, it is a band-aid fix to the issue. On the top four pornography websites, Sensity accounted for 124 million existing deepfake videos. Although AI porn is typically advanced, it still can be detected as AI-made. In time, with GANs’ ability to rapidly create and improve on itself, deepfakes may be impossible to identify and prevent.

Alongside those whose non-pornographic images are used, sex workers also lose control of their image. Using non-pornographic material and existing content, the nature of deepfake porn can vary as faces can be cut and pasted on another’s body or vice versa. Sex workers whose bodies are used to make AI porn go unpaid for their content, also becoming an issue of labor rights as well when their bodies are being profited off.

Many content creators put their work out willingly and are faced with disdain by the same people who may then turn around and watch deepfakes without guilt. Questions can be raised on why are these deepfakes watched when it is known they are unreal: Is it that the lack of autonomy of those who have been deepfaked is a turn-on? Or is it that they don’t have to pay for it? Because AI women have perfect bodies and can essentially be fucked however you want without consequence?

There is a prevailing impression of tech in America as one of a futuristic, morally neutral force that propels us forward. While the marvels of technology are great and all, they can also be entrenched in the very -isms that have always held us back; classism, racism, sexism, etc. These systems of oppression are all intertwined with our advancements, no matter what sleek packaging they are presented to us in. Tech can be a means to sexual misconduct, abuse, and misogyny through AI porn. It is not a victimless crime. From the images, pixels, or animations that make up a fully formed deepfake, exploitation is made ready for consumption.

BITCH 18 JERK 15-22


DegreeWorks? Damn, I sure hope it does!

“I have no idea what I am going to do,” is the resounding remark I keep hearing from my friends and peers as the countdown to graduation shrinks with each passing day. Graduation for the class of 2023 has not been met with the optimism and excitement previous generations have experienced. After all, we are in the middle of an economic recession with corporations conducting mass layoffs, all the while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on. That hope for a bright future the class of 2023 had when we stepped on this campus in August of 2019 has been dimmed to a bleak and burnt-out light. It doesn’t help that we’re being pressured and driven to apply to jobs that pay way below what we’re worth, and barely give us any benefits or paid time off. Even if we do apply, we’re almost always immediately rejected, even for positions we’re overqualified for. And yet, we continuously hear from professionals, professors, parents, and our own peers (mainly annoying people on LinkedIn) about having a job lined up for us RIGHT AFTER we graduate. I mean this in the best way, but this is some bullshit, and we have got to get rid of this expectation.

After everything my generation and I have been through collectively, why should we run toward adulthood? The only good thing to come out of the pandemic was showing us all the reality behind the over-romanticized lifestyle of a 9-to-5 office job. You want me to work 8 hours a day at a desk to only be paid $45,000 a year AT MOST, get enough benefits and insurance so I don’t go bankrupt after each medical visit, and pay about $1,800 a month to rent a hole-in-the-wall studio apartment that hasn’t been updated since the late 1900s? How does that even sound like an ideal life? Why are we as a generation expected to follow in

the suffering that everyone else went through? Why do we have this ideology of, “I suffered to get this far, so it’s only fair the person after me goes through the same process”? Why should we even have to endure unpaid internships, low wages, and mistreatment for the sake of a job title that means nothing to who we genuinely are?

What I am thankful for is that a majority of my generation feels the same way. As a collective, nobody knows what to expect from our future as throughout our entire childhood and teenage years, every passing year has had some sort of disturbing historical event we did not ask to be part of. It feels like we were robbed of our futures before we even had the chance to think of what we even wanted to do with them. Before any of us were even allowed to enjoy the freedom of our 20s, we had that ripped away from us in 2020, with the class of 2023 officially being the last college class that remembers what college life was like without the pandemic.

I want to give a message to my generation: I give you permission to give yourself a break and do what makes you feel fulfilled. Notice how I didn’t say happy. Happiness comes and goes, but fulfillment is this rush of feelings where the work you are doing resonates with you and you feel that you are genuinely contributing to something. Take some time to find what suits you. If there is one thing this pandemic has taught me is that jobs will come and go, but our lives are delicate. These corporations have made it clear that we are nothing but a number in the system to them and if we are to be treated as a number, as people who are replaceable, they don’t deserve and shouldn’t expect us to hand ourselves over to them unless it’s on our terms.


Go out into the world and do what you want to do. As for me? When graduation arrives, I plan on returning home to California and seeing what I can find there. Maybe I will get a job related to my major. Maybe I’ll return to working at Urban Outfitters (which I loved, by the way, best job ever, AND a 60% off employee discount). At some point, I want to save enough money to travel and see all the wonders of the world before life gets too busy. All I know is that I have to believe things will work out.

Before the pandemic, I had the mindset of getting a job by graduation and diving into work, and accumulating wealth and property to live a life of luxury and success. That was my 10-year goal for post-grad. But these past four years have shifted my entire perception of reality and what I truly want. What I really want in 10 years is to be living in a quaint home somewhere in Northern California, by the beach, with a little ranch for the animals in our backyard to run around in. In the afternoon, my husband and I will take long walks on the beach as the sun sets, maybe adding a child or two to carry on our strolls. And then when we return home, we

will make dinner for our friends and family who will be coming over to recount warm memories and make new ones. All I want for myself and for the others in my generation is to find peace, happiness, and love. What good is having a high-paying job, a luxury lifestyle, and an upscale apartment if you’re burnt out and alone? I just want enough to be comfortable, travel a little bit, and find somewhere to call home.

The future looks terrifying and uncertain for our generation, but for some reason, I still have hope it’s all going to work out for all of us.

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Here at Jerk , we would like to spend a moment with you all to “mourn” the career and respectability of once-allegedly-beloved author Joanne Rowling. Some may insist on using a different name for her, but her fans have pointed out it would be ridiculous to ever go by another name, such as “JK” or “Robert Galbraith.”

Rowling, a multi-billionaire who moved into a Scottish castle only to lobby against the nation’s independence from the United Kingdom, is best known for her series of derivative children’s books. Readers would be forgiven for mistaking her for a “reporter” at The Daily Stormer, given her dissemination of Neo-Nazi talking points and association with people who publicly quote Adolf Hitler. Rowling also frequently threatens those in the UK with litigation to stop this verifiably true information from being shared.

Rowling, who claimed that seeing a transgender woman is, “the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment” is clearly the community’s greatest asset. We at Jerk would never judge a woman so open in her support for trans issues that she even has a face clockier than Big Ben.

This death both follows and precedes the release of a video game based on Rowling’s work, Hogwarts: Legacy, which was largely spearheaded by alt-right YouTuber Troy “Are Thoughtcrimes

Becoming Real” Leavitt.

Per New York Times bestselling author Andrew Joseph White, “I have to spend a lot of time making sure the metaphor works.” Fortunately, Rowling wrote about slaves who are thankful for their imprisonment; one slave in her work even becomes a depressed alcoholic as a result of being freed.

Persephone Ranson, a reviewer for GamesHub who said that Legacy can’t be reviewed on its own merits, received countless threats and transphobic replies, including a recent violently transphobic essay.

“It was at least creative, I was actually pretty impressed by the imagery,” Ranson said. “There was such an interesting use of metaphor.” The essay included lines of multiple emojis to establish emotion, and one on ‘being such tiny specs in the infinity of the cosmos,’” Ranson said.

“There’s this weird attachment to this property from like 20 years ago, and people always try to justify it,” said Charlie Kelly, a journalist at Checkpoint Gaming who wrote about being transgender within gaming spaces when Hogwarts: Legacy released. How anyone would need to justify a series that included hook-nosed banking goblins, or described villainous characters as having “twice the usual amount of neck” or being “roughly the size and weight of a young killer whale” is far beyond us.

Fortunately, Rowling would never call trans people “violent, duplicitous rapists.” Oh, wait...



In Smut, we deep-dive into aspects of on and off-campus life that affect you (yes, YOU!).



Resurfaced 90’s audition papers reveal history of prejudice.


Snaps for spoken word poetry.


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*Cough cough*...we should probably stop.



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pulling back the curtain on su drama’s body shaming


Resurfaced 90’s audition papers reveal history of prejudice.

The world of drama and acting has a dark, twisted history that goes back decades. Some of the most acclaimed Hollywood films and Broadway shows have hidden secrets from their audience about what goes on behind the scenes, especially regarding body shaming and misogyny. Although these issues have been recognized and addressed in many aspects, some of these problems still linger in the production world.

In the SU drama department, the issue of body shaming has recently resurfaced through the discovery of audition forms containing a ‘body type’ category. In a recent Instagram statement, the Syracuse Department of Drama’s student representatives addressed the discovery and provided further clarification.

“On January 23, 2023, the Syracuse Department of Drama student representatives were made aware of a social media post that involved an image of a Syracuse University audition form that contained a category pertaining to ‘body type,’” the representatives said. “As the post began to circulate, there was obvious and understandable outrage as discussions began about what ‘body type’ has to do with any one person’s ability to perform or their talents.”

According to the representatives, the department ultimately determined these audition forms were outdated, and faculty had not used them in years. However, they were mistakenly

distributed during a recent audition, bringing to light the department’s history of fatphobia.

After the release of these papers, the drama department discussed the incidents with students during one of the weekly drama town hall meetings. This meeting was led by the department chair, Ralph Zito. Sophomore Haley Thompkins, an acting major in the drama department, explained what happened during the meeting.

“During the meeting, we were able to sit down and talk about the issues and the chair told us that these forms had not been used for over a decade and were accidentally printed,” she said.

“The student-to-faculty relationship is very mentor-to-mentee. They listen, they care.”

Thompkins believes the faculty has been attentive and caring in addressing this incident but that the drama department is far from perfect. “I have never experienced any negative comments about my body, but I have heard of others with different experiences than my own.

Another acting student, sophomore Annie Comegno, explains that her experiences were quite different from Thompkins’.

“I was a first-year student at the time, very nervous because I already didn’t feel like I belonged. I wasn’t as flexible as some of the other students in this class. I was told by my professor that they knew I wouldn’t be able to participate in some of the exercises because of my size,” she

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said. “Even today that professor brushes me off to the side and can barely look in my eyes when I ask for help when I am yearning to become better and stronger.”

Experiences like this can cause students to unhealthily lose weight, or even develop body dysmorphia. Although these outcomes may be unintentional, when students have to be as active as they are in the drama department, eating at proper times and the right amount of meals is extremely important in establishing a healthy balance.

“One of the issues that I have experienced is not having enough time in the day to eat due to the drama schedule being overbooked,” Thompkins said.

Comegno agrees with this sentiment and shared that she has seen her friends fall into these unhealthy patterns because of the program.

“I’ll see my friends walk out of class and talk about how they’ve only had an apple today or they’re not eating today because they have a costume fitting in a few days,” she said.

Throughout the conversations with members of the department, a pattern became more evident. Interviewees revealed few personal details overall, even with specific rebuttal questions that encouraged these responses.

In addition, many professors declined to be interviewed and suggested others who might be able to speak. When a professor agreed to be interviewed, a response came in after six days. The response received was a similar description to what was posted on their Instagram. Zito once again gave the response on behalf of the faculty.

“The audition form you are referencing has not been used by our department for nearly 15 years,”


he said. “A clerical error led to this outdated form being printed and distributed at two auditions that we know of; however, the form was not used as part of the audition evaluation. We deeply regret the impact this mistake has had on our community and have since removed this form from any of our print and digital files. We continue to work closely with our students, faculty, and staff to ensure our students have a positive experience that prioritizes their health and well-being while preparing them for a successful career in the theater.”

Comegno sees hope for the theater industry but noted that there is still a lack of compassion towards actors of different body types throughout the field.

“I am not a gymnast, never was, never will be. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to learn how to tumble across the floor and at least try these

crazy stunts,” she said. “The industry puts so much pressure on actors to be super fit and super small. It’s not just a problem here, it’s a problem at most, if not all schools, and [in] the industry. We are finally starting to see different body types on the screen and on stage, but when will the body shaming end?”

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Snaps for spoken word poetry.

Verbal Blend is a haven for student poets at Syracuse University. Since its founding in 2007, the spoken word poetry group has worked to create opportunities for students to perform their work.

Cedric T. Bolton, the SU Coordinator of Student Engagement in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, founded Verbal Blend out of his own passion for poetry. Known under the pseudonym Blackman Preach, he has released several spoken word poetry albums about his life and identity. Despite his success, he hasn’t always felt his voice matters.

“It’s all about giving voice. It’s always been about voice,” Bolton said. “You know, when I was young, I never really had confidence in my own voice because I didn’t think that it mattered what I was saying.”

Bolton’s most recent project was his 2022 rap/ hip-hop album, 12 Years Gone. The album explores Bolton’s life experiences and his identity through spoken-word poetry.

Verbal Blend welcomes all identities and cultures and focuses on encouraging students who may feel like their narratives aren’t heard to create and display their work. Its main goal is to foster an environment of mutual respect and acceptance.

“Those students who are coming into the space have to be able to trust the space so they can be

vulnerable and feel that they won’t be judged,” he said. “I have to be able to share the ground rules in the space, but also say that there is a poetic license and there is no judgment here as artists.”

Bolton strives for transparency with members about what to expect from the sessions. The group offers seven writer’s workshops throughout the semester where students are welcome to share their work and get to know each other. Students are given prompts and asked to edit their work with their peers, sometimes brainstorming as a group. Bolton said that by the end of the third week, students really get to know each other and feel comfortable in the group.

“This is the one space that they feel to be a corner of Syracuse that is theirs. When they feel that family, they do extremely well when they are not only in classes but also when they hit the stage if they choose to perform,” he said.

Sasha Temerte, a senior member of Verbal Blend, added that the group has become an inviting space for students looking for a community.

“I think Cedric and the people who run Verbal Blend do a really great job creating a safe, comfortable environment for students to be happy to share their work and willing to share their work,” she said. “It’s a very open, welcoming, very diverse

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community of poets. We have people from all backgrounds who come together and write about their own experiences,”

Temerte has been writing poetry since high school and self-published a book called Peace and Other Radical Ideas . However, she said joining Verbal Blend has helped her improve her poetry and expand her ideas even further.

“I mean, I’m just a very busy person, so I haven’t been prioritizing poetry as much as I used to, and Verbal Blend is kind of a way to force me to write poetry every single week,” Temerte said. “I sometimes find myself drawing from the same themes over and over, and Verbal Blend challenged me by presenting me with brand new topics that I haven’t explored before.”

Laurie Fernandez, another member of the group, has also found Verbal Blend to be a constructive

distraction from her busy college life. She said it has helped her dedicate time to focus on her poetry during her busy weeks of student teaching.

“You don’t really have time to reflect because you’re always just in class, or you’re doing work, or you have a job where you have projects,” Fernandez said. “So having that hour or two once or twice a week is really helpful.”

Fernandez has been a member of the group since her freshman year and is also the president of Nu Rho Poetic Society, SU’s invitation-based Greek organization for poets. Before joining Verbal Blend, she used her poetry as a form of self-reflection to learn from her life experiences. But during her four years in the group, she has learned to expand her creative style from introspection to more audienceaimed pieces. She spoke about how essential it is to know a voice has value and importance.


“It got me thinking, what do I want to say to my audience?” she said. “If have a platform to say something, what do I want to take the time to actually acknowledge and say to people that is going to be not only important to me but important to them?”

Verbal Blend holds several open-mic poetry slams throughout the semester. Students have the opportunity to perform their poetry and practice their audience engagement to gain confidence. Sometimes, that confidence translates into other aspects of members’ lives. Fernandez said that even though she is not one to perform her poems frequently, she notices the ways that her performing has permeated her everyday life.

“As an art education major, I’m doing student teaching,” she said. “In some ways, I view it as a performance because regardless of what’s going

on, I have to teach my lesson and say the questions that I have.”

Temerte also finds the Verbal Blend performances impactful.

“It instills a lot of confidence in your ability and desire to keep getting better and to perform,” she said.

Although the group dynamic is what attracts many students to Verbal Blend, it is Bolton’s leadership and commitment to providing a judgment-free outlet that keeps them coming back.

“He really knows how to bring out the creative side of people and inspire [them] to write about themselves and their experiences, and write for the people,” Temerte said. “So it’s a great opportunity to have your voice heard, and whether or not you perform, it’s a valuable writing experience.”

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*Cough cough*...we should probably stop.

When considering that anti-nicotine public service announcements practically raised the current generation of undergraduate college students, it seems only logical that very, very few of us would ever take up the habit of smoking cigarettes. These PSAs used to be practically everywhere — on the television, in unskippable advertisements played before YouTube videos, in middle school health classrooms, you name it. All of us have memories of these disturbing yet educational videos.

SU senior Olivia Budelman remembers seeing a lot of anti-smoking announcements from a young age, including videos that would show someone smoking and then reveal that they had no teeth or deteriorated lungs. Like Budelman, the message that smoking causes numerous negative effects has been ingrained in all our heads from a young age.

So why do so many of us smoke?

Though SU policy attempts to create a smoking and tobacco-free campus by banning smoking on all University property, this policy is largely ignored as students continue to smoke anyway. Alayah Trinidad, a freshman in the Whitman School of Management, says she has seen other students smoking around campus since the first week of school.

According to Professor Dessa Bergen-Cico of the Department of Public Health at Falk College, a Spring 2021 survey of SU student substance use revealed that about 40% of SU students had used nicotine products such as cigarettes in their lifetime. This figure can be compared to just 33% of undergraduate students across the country, according to a 2019 American College Health Association survey.


SU’s higher-than-average nicotine use parallels its higher-than-average use of other drugs, including alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, prescription stimulants, and hallucinogens. Bergen-Cico attributes this to our campus culture, also noting that drug use generally tends to be higher at institutions that offer D1 sports teams.

This campus culture also manifests itself in the form of the “drunk cig”, which is when students smoke a cigarette, specifically when drunk or otherwise not sober, typically on weekend evenings. As Bergen-Cico explains, “for people who are regular users of nicotine products, [nicotine use] often goes hand in hand with certain triggers or

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behaviors, such as drinking.” When people drink, their tendency to take risks increases; for some, that means smoking cigarettes.

But what drives students to take this particular risk? In the case of previous generations, it’s easier to explain the commonplace nature of smoking cigarettes because information about the harmful effects of cigarettes was not as widespread. Having grown up watching countless anti-smoking public service announcements, we don’t really have that same excuse. Though some students have taken those messages to heart, others do not seem to have them at the forefront of their minds. What drives students to open that first pack of cigarettes, and to light that first one?

It is possible that for college students, the sudden freedom that comes with leaving home is a key motivator. Students can now try new things that were previously much more difficult or even impossible to do at home, cigarette smoking being one of them. There is always a general tendency to gravitate towards things that are considered “taboo,” which for some college students may include nicotine and other drugs.

According to the same SU survey cited by Bergen-Cico, the results showed that less-thanweekly use of nicotine products was similar between first, second, third, and fourth-year students. This data is consistent with the theory above; an equal number of students probably try nicotine each year but don’t really get into it — thus the irregular, less-than-weekly use. However, the survey found regular, daily use to be highest among first-year students and seniors.

This distinction could be attributed to the stress of transitioning between different stages of life: for freshmen, the transition from high school to college; for seniors, the transition from college to whatever lies ahead. Sophomores and juniors, however, are more “secure” in that they are more sure of what they are doing right now and what their next few years will look like, thus having, in general, slightly less of an incentive to smoke. Yet, without access

to more survey data spread over several years, it is impossible to make any definite claims one way or another.

Another possible contributor is the influence of the cigarette-smoking habits of other countries. SU students who go abroad may become immersed in an environment where smoking is just more common. Budelmann, who studied abroad in Santiago, Chile, during the Spring 2022 semester, attests that some host families smoked cigarettes in their homes. Spending time in an environment where cigarette smoking is much more common and accepted, such as going abroad or even just going on vacation, may also influence students to smoke.

Though our generation is more aware of the adverse effects of cigarettes, there may be a more accurate statement. A better way to phrase it could be that we are aware of the negative effects of smoking, but we are not always entirely conscious of them. In other words, though we know the risks of smoking, we aren’t always actively thinking about it (possibly due to an under-developed prefrontal cortex) and, therefore, don’t see it as particularly dangerous.

As Bergen-Cico put it, there isn’t “as much emphasis on the dangers of nicotine” as in past decades due to a decline in the frequency of antismoking PSAs. There used to be a lot of money available for this programming through settlements made with major tobacco companies for knowingly selling potentially addictive and harmful products without informing their consumers. But there has not been as much funding in more recent years. Another issue is that it has become increasingly difficult for people to get together and watch television simultaneously on the same platform, like cable TV, due to the rise in popularity of many different streaming services. Advertisements on these platforms are now more targeted at selling products; public health communication has been disrupted by the lack of a way to reach people universally.


A study published in the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors Journal titled “Effectiveness of antismoking public service announcements on children’s intent to smoke” found that when shown anti-smoking PSAs, young children had reduced intentions to smoke, but this effect did not last for a long time. Perhaps growing up seeing these PSAs

over and over helped to reinforce the anti-smoking sentiment for some, but not for others.

“I hated cigarettes as a kid and that just always stuck with me,” said Steinhart. “The perceptions I had as a child are difficult to break out of today.”

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AI art is a divisive issue among contemporary artists living and working in the 2020s. While some artists are eager to use AI-generated images as a tool for creation, others are hesitant to toy with an intelligence that could potentially take away their creative employment. Even though AI image generators, such as DALL-E 2, have brought innovation that has made AI more reliable and imaginative, many complications are still worth noting.

The Downsides of the AI Algorithms

While AI art technically creates unique text and images, its data set is sourced from preexisting images and text, most of which are public domain but some of which are copyrighted. Even though human art often involves the application of information collected from other media, much like AI art, human art also allows for the synthesis of collected information with personal experience, emotion, and nuance.

In this set of images, I explored word associations by recreating single-word feelings using expressive photography in the simplest, most predictable way possible.

Depression: I depicted myself as a sad girl lying in her bed, hiding from the light, and crying with mascara tears running down her face.

Love: I portrayed an affectionate cis-het couple hugging each other, appearing to be swaying as if they are slow-dancing. I used a light in the shape of an iconographic heart.


Appropriation or Piracy?

Many artists condemn AI art because many of their datasets contain content derived from independent artists and illustrators without their consent. Some argue that AI image generators simply appropriate artists’ work, but at what point is appropriation a violation of the original artists’ intellectual and artistic property?

I appropriated Cassatt’s painting by recreating the pose, coloring, and composition almost exactly. Would it be fair for me to take full credit for this composition without paying homage to Cassatt or even mentioning her name? Luckily, this piece is public domain, but even with that legal knowledge, I still feel compelled to acknowledge Cassatt as my inspiration.

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Here’s another example. In this one I am recreating a Munch piece. In high school, when I was applying to art colleges, I was always warned not to recreate paintings, photographs or any piece of art and claim it as my own work, especially if the composition is the same. Why are college-bound high school students, who are usually not even legal adults, held to higher expectations than advanced AI image generators about respecting artistic property?


You’re Just a Statistic

AI apps that use images of an individual’s face to “recognize” their features and manipulate them often rely on stereotypes. Usually, the AI image generator will make feminine presenting people appear more conventionally attractive,Eurocentric, and thin. I have also found that AI tends to draw almost all feminine-appearing Asian people as East Asian.

Are AI-generated images the future of art?

While the humans desiring to integrate AI into art is not inherently problematic, it yields many unprecedented problems regarding artistic integrity, ethics, and stereotypes. Since art is a tool and outlet for human reaction and a method of response to internal and physical environmental surroundings, and human art-enjoyers seek these qualities out in art, AI art will likely not replace human art, at least not for a while.

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SU American Idol auditionee hopes to break into the music industry.

On audition day, Franco Tomaino woke up early to meet his 5 a.m. call time. He had barely slept the night before because a lobster po’boy had given him an allergic reaction, making his throat extremely dry. After a full day of filming interviews around New Orleans, he was exhausted, nervous, and nearly voiceless. Still, he woke up early and headed to film his audition for the star-making TV show “American Idol.”

Raised in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and now an SU sophomore, Tomaino grew up with his eyes set on the stars — those stars being Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, of course. For as long as he can remember, he has had a close connection with music; he would write lyrics on the back of his choir folders and dream about someday turning them into real songs.

From a young age, he began taking theater lessons and performing in his school plays, which eventually led him to pursue the actor-singer track in the SU Drama Department. But his childhood in a “cookie-cutter” small town didn’t always allow him to experience his full creativity.

“Growing up there was difficult. I feel like I was very misunderstood just because I was creative and out there,” Tomanio said.

At times when he would feel overlooked, he would turn to his love of performing, which in time helped him build up the confidence for “American Idol.” So when the time came to select the song he would perform, he chose to play the piano and sing

a ballad version of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”

Playing the piano was a risk for Tomaino because he only had two weeks to learn the full song. His preparation was affected by a mixture of nerves, early call times, endless interviews and last-minute changes. However, as he looks back at his audition, he is happy with his performance and just wishes he had trusted his talent a bit more.

“If I do regret anything, it would be the fact that I didn’t just rely on my voice,” he said. “I felt like I had to also play the piano or give a spectacle or show to make it work for television.”

Still, Tomaino received encouragement from the judges — one of them his idol, Katy Perry — to continue to work on his craft and return to the show next season, something he took to heart.

“It really can take just one moment,” he said. “One person could see that and be like: ‘well, maybe it wasn’t for them, but I like it.’”

As he prepares to perform in two upcoming Syracuse Stage shows, Tomaino is anticipating his newfound platform and the doors that will open with his appearance on the show.

“Here at Syracuse, I’m surrounded by a lot of people who love and care about me. And [I] don’t always get that honest feedback,” he said. “I strive to get that because I always, as a singer, as an artist, as anything, want to become better.”

Photo provided


Spilling the beans on The Cracked Bean Roastery.

Are you tired of running into your old hookup in the never-ending Dunkin’ line, and then proceeding to shit your pants immediately after one sip of your massive caramel swirl macchiato? God, so are we. If you’re looking to switch it up, The Cracked Bean Roastery is located in Eastwood, a beautiful residential neighborhood in Syracuse, and it has everything you’ve ever dreamed of. It’s truly a (no pun intended) “sweet escape.” Their menu is bursting with inventive drinks and delicious nibbles, and the atmosphere is majorly comforting.

Owner Michelle Cruse unknowingly started her coffee journey in 2016 when she stopped at just about every small coffee shop she could find during her road trip from San Francisco to Seattle. Cruse’s love for the coffee community blossomed further as she returned to New York and opened the doors to The Cracked Bean Roastery during the pandemic.

Faithful to her love of the community, the company is passionate about creating and maintaining relationships with other small businesses.

“Our business was started on the wholesale side of things — partnering with other local small businesses. The more successful they are in surveying and beverage-ing their clients, the more successful we are,” Cruse said.

The Cracked Bean features items from many local businesses, including tiny charcuterie bites from The Curd Nerd, delightful baked goods from

Sweet Praxis, and dairy products from Ripley Family Farm. Cruse explained this New Yorkbased farm produces milk solely containing the A2 protein, which gives their products a “creamier flavor” and allows those with lactose sensitivities to enjoy freely with no side effects (win-win!).

Satisfying every customer’s need is The Cracked Bean’s thing. Each month, the roastery features two specialty drinks, with this month’s special being a “dark strawberry mocha for the latte” and a “blushing cherub, strawberry lavender, lotus drink,” Cruse said.

With their Point of Sales system, the workers can glance back and retrieve any month’s specialty drinks, keeping customer favorites forever locked in their system.

It’s been two years since The Cracked Bean started welcoming customers, and Cruse laughs about the fact that they never really had a proper grand opening. Perhaps they will band with some of the other local businesses that flourished during the pandemic for a group-grand opening, but that’s never been a cause for concern.

In fact, most things don’t concern Cruse. Their primary goal has always been simplicity; at the end of the day, it’s just coffee. As Cruse stands atop her windowsill and waters her plants, she said with a shrug, “Sometimes you just want a great cup of coffee and a safe space.”

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Capturing students with disabilities in the outfits that bring them joy.

Creative Direction by Cassia Soodak

Creative Assisting by Lily Brooks

Photos by Grace Hayden

Modeling by Kate Allyn, Jane Goldman, Vineet Narayan, Troy Providenti, Cooper Self, Virginia Wade

Check out our site for more on this shoot! 41


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The history of “recession-core” and the return to minimalism.

Award show red carpets are typically a space for celebrities to blind anybody in a 10-mile radius with heaps of Swarovski crystals and then flirt with Miss “Chicken Shop Date” Amelia Dimoldenberg afterward. But at this year’s Golden Globes, that signature escapism fell flat. To the shock of Twitter users everywhere, hardly any looks featured necklaces. Thus began the “no necklace discourse,” and the conclusion that although rich people can afford to wear precious jewels in a recession, they are turning to minimalism to avoid a public stir.

This minimalism surge can also be chalked up to the move away from “dopamine dressing,” a phrase coined by fashion psychologist Dawn Karenn. Karenn says that wearing bright and flashy clothing– much like what was popular during the COVID-19 pandemic — can release dopamine and scientifically improve one’s mood. Nearly three years after the beginning of the pandemic, and with an international recession looming, people may be becoming disillusioned with playful fashion as the state of the world fuels anxiety.

A famous study done by Marjolein van Baardwijk and Philip Hans Franses took a look at skirt hemlines throughout the ages and noticed that they were shorter in times of prosperity and grew longer when the country was in economic trouble. For example, the 20s saw the look of the flapper girl and shorter dress styles and during the Great Depression, trends veered more towards modesty. Recently, the early 2000s were influenced by icons like Paris Hilton, who famously wore skirts the size of belts. This was followed by the 2010s, after the 2008 recession, when

athleisure and hippie style took over. Maybe it’s our collective consciousness that draws us to dress modestly in modest times, but it doesn’t feel like a coincidence that the eccentricity of our quarantine days is being replaced with a more minimalist approach to how we dress. Social media, runways, and celebrity fashion are infiltrated with muted colors, androgynous silhouettes, and an absence of accessories. Kate Moss, Carolyn Basset Kennedy, and Olsen Twins aesthetics are back once again to inspire the elevated basic wardrobe that encourages sustainability and a “think before buying” attitude.

Although a recession is not something to celebrate, maybe there is a positive in people rethinking their relationship with their wardrobes. This mindset encourages buying pieces that fit your personal style instead of rushing to Shein to grab the newest fad and investing in elevated basics that will last many, many more recessions. It’s also important to not view minimalism as an excuse to trash your whole wardrobe and replace it with something that fits this “trend.” And when things get better economically, can we please remind ourselves how we now look back on microtrends from the past ten years and cringe?

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FORM AND FUNCTION: How to dress like...


We live in a tundra, but we’re still hot.

Layer, Layer, Layer!

FURS: The timeless fashion piece that screams (cozy) diva. If you haven’t already, it’s time to invest in faux fur. Or if you want the real deal, there is an abundance of furs in the thrifts.

BOOTS: Stick with the staples! No need to trash your gorgeous heels or fresh new kicks in the snow. You can quite literally never go wrong with the trusted black boot.

HAT: Wrap that noggin up. Heat escapes from the head, don’t let it run away!

VEST: A fuzzy vest, aka a hoe’s best friend. It’s the first step to a successful layer and a great way to break up some color.

SHIRT: The base of it all, the shirt. Thank god it’s funky long-sleeve season. Remember, texture is your friend.

BAG: The weather is gross and dull, but you’re not. Add a pop of color with your favorite accessories.

Photo by Conor Mitchell Modeling by Jovan Alcantara


How DIY and handmade graphic shirts are putting humanity back into everyday fashion.

Words by Joelle de Poto


Calvin’s shirt is a linocut print of a wolf from his friend Joel. He likes wearing the shirt because it has a visual reference that serves as a token of their friendship. “Being able to put on art that another human intentionally thought about is very meaningful to me, and makes me feel more connected to other people.”

Holly made her own shirt and vest by cutting pieces of felt and sewing them together onto the garments. “I have bought nearly all of my apparel secondhand for almost three years,” she said. She also likes to upcycle thrifted clothes by sewing patches over stains. “I believe handmade clothes are an investment because they are customizable, wearable art.”

Tobias screen-printed his shirts for “Circles and Squares,” his WERW radio show (which you can find on He used thrifted vintage t-shirt blanks as the surface for two-color prints because he believes that vintage shirts tend to be of better quality and printing on them gives them a second life. “When I decided to do a print run for my radio show, I wanted to not only create a promotional device but also make something highly personal my friends and supporters could wear.”

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Photos by Joelle de Poto and Kailyn Peng Modeling by Calvin Cohen, Holly Anderson, Tobias Gray HOLLY ANDERSON: TOBIAS GRAY:
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A RIDE along with RED

College housing by day, music venue by night.

Down Euclid Avenue, somewhere on the 600 block, there resides a two-story, old-style house painted white with teal accents. Planted at the front end of the home’s entryway, stands an imposing torii, a feature that separates the house from its neighbors. A torii, which looks like a big red gate, is an important symbol in Japanese culture that marks the boundary between a sacred and

ordinary space. Inside the home, something sacred is indeed taking form.

Already hard at work on a Friday morning, six third-year students at Syracuse University begin prepping their humble abode for that week’s “Redgate” show. Named after — you guessed it — the torii out front, Redgate serves as the venue for the weekly house show run by the home’s tenants:

Words by Miguel Rodriguez Photos by Maya Lockwood


Henry Brennan, Ben Brier, Dylan Fox, Jesse Herman, Josh Price, and Jared Rowland. Known for the live music that shakes its basement, as well as the social space of the house’s first floor and patio, Redgate is made possible by the passion and ingenuity of its residents. The guys have been friends since their freshman year. Scattered throughout each floor of Flint Hall’s

A-wing, the boys spent their first year meeting and growing closer to each other. But it was in their South Campus apartment the next year that they began their foray into show business. Southdaze, a family barbeque/music festival/clothing swap, was the first official musical brainchild conceived, birthed, and raised by the six of them. Headlined by some mainstay campus acts such as Froggies

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and Studio89, Southdaze managed to capture the attention of the students who found themselves on South Campus that day. Whether they were chowing down on grub from grill master Dylan’s menu, watching the acts, or dancing, good vibes were plentiful that day. “It [was] a really good way to combine passion and fun into one thing,” said junior Jared Rowland.

The guys’ eagerness and dedication to their craft is on clear display in the form of what the roommates refer to as “the fucking manual,” a Google Doc created by Dylan, a junior finance major, and sent to the home’s residents over the summer, laying out the do’s and don’ts of a show. Dylan prefers to call it a handbook.

This morning, the guys begin what they consider

the most boring part of the process: making the crib look presentable. The tuning of finer details is vital to having a successful night, according to Dylan,“When it’s all added up, organization is key.” By the time counters have been wiped down and the objects in need of hammering have been hammered, it’s mid-day. He sets up the venue’s sound system, which is funded entirely by money straight from the guys’ pockets. Speakers hang on the walls next to the drum set, bass guitar, and mic stands purchased to make the stage more easily accessible for performers. “We had to go with the expensive equipment because this shit gets put through hell,” said Dylan.

Upstairs, the rest of the guys gather around the living room TV. With everything set up and ready to go, they wait as the clock approaches opening time. The Pixies’ song “Here Comes Your Man” fills the room as the guys play each other in NBA 2k23. It feels as if they are in their zen states, relishing in the calm before their beautifully selfmade storm.

At 8 p.m., two hours before opening, the house fills with shop talk as artists come in and perform their sound checks in the basement. No one bats an eye as the ringing of drums and reverb-heavy guitars fill the air, they just bob their heads to the beat. The show’s acts are found on their Instagram, @ redgatecuse.

“Last semester it was a lot of us reaching out to people ourselves, mostly friends. This semester we put out an Instagram post asking people if they want to play here, they DM us and we decide from there. It’s better than booking a band last second,” said junior Bandier student Jesse Herman.

There are only 10 minutes left until the doors open and the crowd has already begun


gathering outside the entrance. Redgate’s audience, according to Dylan, is “a mix of people who love live music and want something beyond frat parties.”

At 10 p.m., the show begins. The guys working the door are bombarded by eager bodies and Venmo payments. Less than 30 minutes pass before the house is packed. Downstairs, Dylan runs the soundboard, keeping track of the on-stage band’s sound as their performance rips the basement apart.

“Redgate feels more intimate,” said Cribulis, one of the night’s performers. This is a statement that reflects itself in the clear sense of unity found throughout the house: at Redgate, there is no such thing as separate; everyone stands around united by sound and good times. People who have never spoken to each other experience connection as they dance together in the basement, getting the words to songs wrong in unison rather than alone. By 1 a.m., the party shows no signs of slowing down, and Jesse observes, “it’s usually not this packed this late... this is rare.”

The Redgate regulars have a multitude of reasons that keep them coming back.

“It’s a fun environment. Plus I get to dress up, plus I get to meet cool people, plus sometimes Studio89 performs,” said Madi Christiansen, a freshman attendee. Walker Pasalis, another consistent guest, said “I really enjoy the ability to have multiple scenes within a single party. You can chill on the patio, meet new people in the living room, or go to the basement and dance with your homies for a bit.” In the middle of a dancing crowd and unable to control the adrenaline running through his veins, Adrian Berger conveys his feelings towards Redgate when he yells “I LOVE IT!”

As the night winds down, the organizers jump into the crowd and dance with those who remain. By 2 a.m., the people who had remained in the

basement have fully trickled out. Dylan shuts down the music. Jared lets out a satisfied, “That’s a wrap.”

In the kitchen, the guys gather around the crooked island to begin what they call the “debrief.” Despite their sloshed heads, tired bodies, and the strange mix of smells that linger around the house, the guys laugh their way through stories until 3 in the morning. Midrecap, Dylan unknowingly summarizes the essence of Redgate, “It’s perfect for what it is, that’s how we do things around here.”

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Unpacking the origins of our finest art and guiltiest pleasures.

“What’s considered classy if you’re rich but trashy if you’re poor?” asks Twitter user Ana Samways in a now-viral thread, prompting responses ranging from “bilingualism” to “recreational drug use.” Conversations like these, as casual as they may seem, help point out the extent to which classism and the racism intertwined with it (‘cause there’s no classism without racism!) can infect everyday life in a pretty arbitrary manner.

High culture is considered esteemed, intellectual art best enjoyed alongside champagne and caviar while wearing Mr. Peanut’s top hat and monocle and muttering words like “erstwhile” and “neo-romantic.” Low culture, on the other hand, calls to mind images of fart jokes, pop-country music, and lazy mindlessness akin to the Axiom humans from Wall-E. However, if we take a second to hold Mr. Peanut’s monocle up to these categories and look at them with a more critical eye, it’s easy to notice the not-so-subtle white supremacy and classism that often separates highbrow “class”


and lowbrow “trash.” In fact, the term “highbrow” was popularized in 1902 by reporter Will Irvin, who subscribed to the “notion of more intelligent people having high foreheads,” and therefore being more appreciative of fine culture. One would think that this vomit-inducing display of Social Darwinism is proof enough that these terms should be removed from the way our society thinks about culture. Yet racism and classism still dictate the binary between “high culture,” consisting of music that’s just underground enough to post on our Instagram stories and books that we feel pressure to lie about having read, and “low culture” that forces us to turn off our Spotify social tracking activity and bury celebrity gossip magazines at the bottom of our shopping carts.

A historical approach helps shine a light on just how ridiculous the line between high and low culture can be. For example, the impressionist movement began as a rebellion against traditional conventions of “high art.”

Similarly, William Shakespeare’s sexual innuendos (see Aaron saying “Villain, I have done thy mother,” in Act IV Scene II of Titus Andronicus for evidence of the timelessness of “your mom” jokes) were considered part of “a ‘shared culture’ in theatres attended by diverse audiences,” according to Lawrence Levine, author of Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America. Most highbrow art wasn’t intended to be highbrow at all.

Today impressionism, Shakespeare, and countless other media have become synonymous with the uptight rigidity they were trying to break away from, only to be enjoyed only by stuffy academics. The economic confines at play are undeniable; tickets to theatres and art museums are far from affordable for everyone, and can often only be found in wealthy cosmopolitan areas. As certain media have become less accessible, they have gained greater prominence as pillars of “high culture.” At the same time, popular culture — which can be accessed, appreciated, and related to more easily — has become conflated with “low culture.” It’s no coincidence that oftentimes this art is created by people of color, who are systemically denied entry to “high culture,” and are far less likely

to receive praise for their creative efforts (see: the entire history of hip hop). Levine argues that the structures upholding and rewarding inaccessible art “permit the few to enter while excluding the masses,” leading them to “scorn the forms they have been denied.” Naturally, these barriers to entry have made the general public resentful of this bullshit, leading to a greater divide between what’s considered high and low culture. In reality, the true villain isn’t any singular element of culture, but the racism and classism that dictates how we perceive these elements.

While it’s easier said than done, the best way to walk the tightrope between trashiness and pretentiousness is to destroy the binary (and dismantle the notion that one side is better than another) altogether. It’s time to acknowledge that reality television and French new-wave cinema both have the power to be thought-provoking and eye-roll-inducing. So instead of high or low culture, opt for no culture! This isn’t to say you shouldn’t continue to consume media, but that instead of aspiring to achieve a certain level of morality (which by the way was dictated by a bunch of classist, racist assholes) in the culture that you consume, you should engage in what you like! Whether it’s pretentious garbage or mindless garbage, abstain from or partake in the garbage without guilt.

Separating oneself from the binary of high and low culture and just engaging in the content that you enjoy can invite a whole world of diverse, valuable perspectives. When we remove ourselves from the racist and classist roots of high and low culture, we can find delight in reading William Shakespeare’s crudest jokes accompanied by the genius musical stylings of Jason Derulo.

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A discussion of the local art scene’s inaccessibility.


Timeless, sophisticated, beautiful, and unattainable.

Some variation of these adjectives is probably what comes to mind when you consider any acclaimed work of art. Most of us have been taught to view traditionally famous artwork as an ideal of ‘high culture’ beyond our grasp, even if we don’t actually like it.

In general, art education is a luxury. Without resources, it’s basically impossible for artists to practice and sell their work, keeping them from earning any decent amount of money and increasing said resources. Such cycles allow for the gatekeeping of artistic prestige by people who can afford access (and everyone knows how we feel about gatekeeping).

This phenomenon has convinced consumers to associate wealth with talent: we regard classical artwork so highly because the affluence that created it is unreachable, for the majority of people.

Syracuse is not immune to this issue. In 2021, students in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at SU expressed their frustrations with the lack of equipment provided by the university. Currently, many VPA and Architecture students have to buy materials out of pocket each semester.

Teresita Paniagua, executive director of cultural engagement at Syracuse University and managing director of La Casita Cultural Center, highlights how the problem extends beyond SU. “There’s not a significant amount of programming focusing on Latino cultures in the region,” says Paniagua. “Families don’t have the resources to provide children with this kind of enrichment. They don’t see cultural representation that they can identify with in a positive way.”

However, there are organizations within SU that are working to address the accessibility gap. The Coalition of Museum and Art Centers unifies institutions dedicated to providing arts education; these include the SU Art Museum, Light Work, Urban Video Project, and the Community Folk Art Center. This collaboration provides significant funding and exposure for its members. Many of the organizations include programs to seek and support upcoming artists, such as the Art Wall Project at the SU Art Museum.

La Casita works to offer invaluable internship opportunities for students. Interns are able to develop their skills and discover their passions in a real-world environment, as well as host free art workshops designed for youth in the community. “These programs are established as a cultural bridge between the Syracuse University Hispanic community and the region,” Paniagua says.

There are many other opportunities on campus for more inclusive and comprehensive arts education. For instance, Bird Library is currently displaying “A Love Supreme: Black Cultural Expression and Political Activism of the 1960s and 1970s” on the sixth floor. The exhibit, named after John Coltrane’s 1964 album, features Black artists, authors, and activists of that era who have historically been buried in archives to perpetuate white supremacy. It’s free of charge and available for everyone on campus to explore and will be featured through July.

There’s a long way to go before art becomes equally accessible to everyone. However, organizations in Syracuse work every day to bridge the gap.

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Do we have “mug” written on our forehead?


A new bombshell has entered the villa, and here it is: reality TV may be low culture, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable. Reality shows in general have a reputation for being dumb, pointless, and superficial. That’s not a hot take, but we don’t care. Love Island releases about 66 episodes per season, averaging around 50 minutes per episode. So we’ll do the math for you: that’s a little over two full days of nonstop tea.

When media is categorized into high culture versus low culture, judgment is frequently passed on how people choose to spend their free time. Television shows, music, and movies that are made with the aim to appeal to a wider audience come with the connotation that you should feel guilty for enjoying them. Pop music is cringe, but alternative music is cool. War documentaries are worth your

time, but reality shows waste it. Life is hard enough. When you want to sit down and relax at the end of the day, it seems perfectly reasonable to want to take your mind off your problems and laugh. So reality shows like Love Island are popular for a reason.

Reality shows became successful from their ability to show the public how ‘out of touch’ and privileged people live their lives. It proved that the rich are not better than the rest of us, and, in fact, these extremely beautiful or wealthy people make mistakes and act just as irrationally as the rest of us. Their wealth and looks don’t absolve them from acting human. However, reality shows can often be accused of being scripted, and the plot often gets manipulated in the editing room. While most viewers are aware that what they are seeing is heavily edited, parasocial relationships with the cast bring people back. Whether it be the villain, the new bombshell, or the adorable couple you hope will make it past Casa Amor, it’s hard not to feel connected with the people you watch go through the seven stages of grief seven days a week.

Love Island specifically is successful in making the audience feel like they are active participants because of the constant surveillance, which gives a better insight into the contestants’ personalities. And to some extent they are; the public is able to vote and even eliminate people every so often. Beyond the psychological intrigue, there is something to be said about being able to sit with your friends and gossip about situations that have no impact on your lives.

Low culture media, specifically television, is arguably made to be talked over so you can enjoy the episodes with friends, crack jokes, and laugh as a collective. The commentator with the heavy Irish accent is doing it with the rest of us, and we’ll be the first to say he makes us giggle!

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A love letter to the narcissist that changed my life.



I have a feeling that when you were written by Oscar Wilde, he had no idea how profound you would become. Yet here you are centuries later, continuing to leave a mark on my heart.

When my sophomore English class first picked you up, I was unsure. I was a fan of bildungsroman and modern fiction, so the idea of reading a Victorian novel left me skeptical. However, you opened my eyes to new possibilities, and I will forever be grateful.

At the risk of coming across as a snobby literary critic, the way you explore the theme of youth and beauty will forever leave me in awe. Your deconstruction of the toxic nature of purely aesthetic mindsets has forever changed my view of the world, showing me that living purely in a material state is simply not the answer.

For there is more to life than appearances; you’ve taught me this through your gothic tale. You also revealed the metaphorical benefit of life imitating art. As Dorian’s portrait slowly revealed his true colors, it became so much easier to grasp how one’s attitude can ultimately affect their dayto-day life and their interactions with others.

I have come to the realization that without the curriculum requirement to read you in high school, I may never have had the honor to meet you. For that, I am grateful. However, I worry about what this means for students across the country who

may never get to read their favorite books due to increasing bans.

Thankfully, you have not been removed from the shelves, but I fear for your high-art literary cousins such as The Great Gatsby, which continuously goes through rounds of bans. In Florida, all books must now be approved by qualified school media specialists before they can be introduced in the classroom. It’s also worth noting that a lot of these bans are targeted at books by BIPOC and LGBTQ+ authors, but that’s for a different article.

Books such as yourself, and others like you, give students the opportunity to confront their morals and view life from different perspectives. Without proper exposure to such pieces of literature in their formative years, many students will be unable to gain these crucial pieces of knowledge that are granted through exploring such complex themes.

Furthermore, banning books due to their problematic nature is the equivalent of sweeping a massive problem under the rug. I feel it would be more beneficial to unpack why these issues are harmful in a safe environment than never to be exposed to these problems in the first place.

Literature classics such as yourself are a form of high art as they allow us to learn by viewing the world through lenses previously unexplored. Thank you, The Picture of Dorian Gray, for expanding my mind through such a thrilling tale. I will forever be in your debt.




Music all the 2000s kids love but a music snob would probably hate.

Words by Gray Reed

Art by Freddy Toglia

Party Rock Anthem — LMFAO, Lauren Bennet, GoonRock

Party in the U.S.A. — Miley Cyrus

Dynamite — Taio Cruz

I Gotta Feeling — Black Eyed Peas

I Kissed A Girl — Katy Perry

Disturbia — Rihanna

Oops!...I Did It Again — Britney Spears

Tonight Tonight — Hot Chelle Rae

Moves Like Jagger — Maroon 5, Christina Aguilera

Call Me Maybe — Carly Rae Jepsen

Everybody Talks — Neon Trees

Teenage Dirtbag — Wheatus

Starships — Nicki Minaj

Lose Yourself — Eminem

Cool Kids — Echosmith

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Music comes from the heart, and Nykara does not hold back.

Jerks to: SZA, Summer Walker

Sounds like: Kehlani, Jhene Aiko, Ariana Grande

Jerk Magazine: Was music always something you wanted to pursue?

Nykara: I’ve been doing music forever. My family are very musical people. My grandfather was in a salsa band back in the day. My dad worked in sound recording and studios and everything. I knew this was something I always wanted to do. I always participated in choir. I went to a specialized high school for music as well. We had rehearsals every single day, like two class periods a day dedicated to it. We had a lot of outside performance opportunities, we would go compete at festivals. I was always involved. I didn’t see myself doing anything else.

JM: Can you tell us about your creative process and songwriting approach?

N: I go off of my emotions, what I’m feeling. I use music as an outlet. That’s usually where the creative process starts, and then from there I’ll listen to some tracks whether I search them on YouTube–two of the tracks, my cousin actually produced. I would kind of match the lyrics to what I was hearing and what I was feeling. Sometimes I can write a song in a day; sometimes it takes a little longer. You know, maybe I’m feeling too much at once right now and I need to sit with it to tell the story I want to tell. I usually go to my friends and I’ll be like, “Do you like this? Do you like how this sounds?” because I want people to enjoy it as well.

JM: Your EP is titled, “Over It.” Was there a specific personal experience you were “over” that inspired the title track?

N: I did go through a breakup, but the funny thing about “Over it” was that I wrote that my freshman year of college and it had nothing to do with [the breakup] at the time. I went on Instagram and I knew I wanted to write a petty heartbreak-type song. I put up a little sticker note that said, “Tell

me about a toxic ex you had and things you would want to say to them.” People swiped up with their responses, and I already had an idea. I think the first lines I had written were, “Here we go again with the same damn shit/I see your Instagram, I see you posting them pics.” After I got the responses, I kind of just placed the lyrics and formulated the words and put it all together from what I got. Everything else was things I experienced after my breakup. I’ve gotten messages from people relating. It feels really nice to know that my story was put out there and everybody is accepting it.

JM: What is next for you?

N: I have a single coming [out] soon, hopefully by the end of the semester. The song is already done. I’m just working on some marketing stuff because I do it all by myself. I’m also working on a feature album that I’d love to put out, maybe next year. I would say it’s similar to [the E.P]. There is a lot happening in the instrumental which I love. If you listen closely you hear all the little details in it. It gives a trap, R&B vibe. The [upcoming] song is kind of bouncing off of “Honest,” but more like I’m taking back my power. It’s going to be called “Still Love Me.”



Survivor ’s 22-year-long run has historically favored white contestants.

Love Island, Too Hot to Handle, Ex on the Beach

— there’s nothing more entertaining than watching a group of conventionally attractive people screw each other over in paradise. But in the early 2000s, one show stood above them all — Survivor. Currently boasting an impressive 44-season run, Survivor was the blueprint for challenge-filled, island shenanigans, changing the fabric of reality television.

For contestants of color, however, challenges weren’t exclusive to the game of Survivor. Over the course of its 22-year-long run, the show has struggled to promote diversity and treat storylines featuring non-white competitors with respect.

Nothing was more egregious than Survivor: Cook Islands, which aired in 2006. In a stomachturning display of cultural insensitivity, contestants were divided into teams based on their race and ethnicity. To the surprise of no one (with the exception of the show executives, perhaps) the season was a complete shit show.

“The assumption of that [season was] that ‘yeah, let’s put all those of Asian descent on one tribe because they’ve all got to be the same and just naturally get along,” Carolyn Hedges, professor of communications at Syracuse University, said. “Nothing’s more problematic [regarding] demographics and dividing people by race and ethnicity.”

For Ramona Gray Amaro, the first Black woman to compete on Survivor, her depiction post-edit was saturated with racist stereotypes.

“We can’t swim... we butt heads,

we’re athletic, but maybe not smart and strategic,” she told NPR in 2020. “I’m just saying, ‘Do right by us.’”

Amaro and fellow Black alums have continued to fight for future competitors, advocating for more diversity on the executive production team, implementing a zero-tolerance policy for racist acts, and creating storylines for people of color that play into racial stereotypes.

While Survivor allows us to connect with our inherent competitive spirit, it can reveal the worst parts of ourselves, and gives us permission to feed into our own bias and prejudice. The enduring scope of the show gives it the power to inflict biases onto its audience, and sustain harmful stereotypes in the media. While later seasons of Survivor have attempted to safeguard contestants against targeting by addressing racism during tribal councils, it’s not a concrete solution.

“Does it mean the work is done?” Hedges said. “Absolutely not.”

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A RIDE along with RED

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Resurfaced 90’s audition papers reveal history of prejudice.

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