The Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Toronto Mississauga since 1974
Issue 019 Volume 47 March 1 2021
UTMSU SPRING ELECTIONS
DR. MADELEINE MANT
BREVITY IN LITERATURE
The Spring 2021 elections for the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union will be held virtually. Elections will be held on March 16 and UTM students will be able to submit their votes anytime between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
“What truly drives me is studying the past and thinking about lessons that we can apply to the present and how we can then work to improve our future, specifically with a focus on health and equity,” says Dr. Madeleine Mant...
>> ELECTIONS continued on page 03
>> MANT continued on page 05
Sometimes, the length of a story can intimidate us. A mammoth-sized novel can feel like a monumental challenge, and if the story’s dry, can feel impossible to get through. >> LITERATURE continued on page 08
Health Canada approves new Covid-19 vaccine Isik Vera Senel News Editor
third Covid-19 vaccine was approved by Health Canada on February 26. Officials believe that the new Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will help expedite the vaccination process. In a press conference on the same day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that Canada had obtained two million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and the first shipment of doses of the new vaccine is expected to arrive in the next few weeks. Moreover, much like the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be administered in the form of two separate doses.
>> VACCINE continued on page 02
Take A Rest and stop by the newest Blackwood Gallery lightbox exhibit
External complicity in the Uyghur genocide
Dalainey Gervais Contributor
our life-sized installations grace the quaint UTM campus. Each installation features a pair of photos: Blackand-white stills of men leaning against their partners for rest during a depression era dance marathon are juxtaposed with coloured stills of solo dancer recreating the exhausted poses. The artwork comes from Jon Sasaki’s A Rest, the newest series brought to life by the Blackwood Gallery’s lightbox exhibit. Sasaki’s choreography and cinematography bring new meaning to what it is to be a dancer, putting a trained athlete in positions of physical endurance to lose control of themselves. Sasaki wasn’t always a multidisciplinary artist. He originally studied fine arts at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick. It was only after moving back to his home in Toronto that he discovered a new world of art amid the area’s unique artistic landscape. Exploring new mediums felt like a natural progression in his career, so Sasaki forewent classical painting. “At the time, working in one particular medium and identifying only as a painter felt limiting to me.”
Sasaki explored different mediums and rebuilt his identity, which lead him on a path to performance arts. Since then, the Toronto-based artist has debuted more than 50 large-scale installations and performances, with themes ranging from temporary functional sculptures (Improvised Light Fixtures, 2018) to commentaries on environment-harming consumerism (Destroyer and Preserver, 2015). The inspiration for his current exhibit—A Rest— came in 2016 when Sasaki and fellow artists were invited by the Toronto Dance Theatre to choreograph a solo performance. Coming in as an outsider with no experience in choreography, Sasaki says, “I was interested in creating a dance that wasn’t really a dance.” He achieved this by contrasting the exhaustion and momentary peace portrayed in the 1920s’ and 30s’ dance marathons with a solo dancer maneuvering through stressful and straining positions. As Sasaki says, “We were given a clean slate, which was so generous and trusting from the Toronto Dance Company to collaborate with artists who never worked in dance before.” >> BLACKWOOD continued on page 07
Aroni Sarkar Associate Comment Editor
his week, Canada became the second country in the world to recognize the treatment of the Uyghur population in China’s Xinjiang province as genocide after a vote in Parliament. This follows the U.S.’s declaration in January. The vote to declare the Uyghur treatment as genocide was highly contentious and has failed in several other countries in the world like the U.K. due to concerns over political tensions with China. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wasn’t present during the Canadian vote and had previously commented on not calling it genocide as it was an “extremely loaded” term and that further study needed to be done. Chinese ambassadors have criticized and condemned such votes by considering them as acts which infringe upon internal affairs and sovereignty. The atrocities being committed against the Uyghur population include the largest mass-scale detention camp since the Holocaust. This is arguably the greatest crime against humanity of this century.
>> UYGHUR continued on page 04
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Officials vote to move Peel Region into the red zone Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie pushes to transition into the red zone following stay-at-home order.
Sheryl Gurajada Associate News Editor
Health Canada approves new Covid-19 vaccine Isik Vera Senel News Editor >> VACCINE continued from page 01 “With Pfizer, Moderna, and now AstraZeneca, Canada will get to more than 6.5 million doses by the end of March and there will be tens of millions more doses to come between April and June,” stated Trudeau. As the Canadian government prepares for the next phase of its vaccination program, pharmacies across the nation have stated that they are prepared to administer the Covid-19 vaccines to the public. Jeff Leger, president of Shopper Drug Mart, stated that once they receive the go-ahead from the government, their vaccination sites would be operational in no less than 72 hours. In a phone interview with CTV News, Leger explained that the immunization procedures would be quite similar to how they deliver the flu vaccination. The only potential obstacle they might face with the Covid-19 vaccination process would be the supply of vaccines. “We can move very quickly, and we can move large volumes of people through our network,” stated Leger. “At the height of flu season, we did as many as half a million in one week, we think we could do much more than that—really the constraint was supply.” While the exact details of who will receive vaccination and the location and time is currently unknown, the government is moving
forward with its plans to prioritize vulnerable communities in the second phase of the vaccination program. According to the report published by the Ontario Covid-19 Science Advisory Table on February 26, prioritizing disadvantaged neighborhoods and elderly communities can help begin the recovery process. “Prioritizing and implementing vaccine distribution for Ontarians based on both age and neighbourhood of residence could ensure that those at the highest risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and hospitalization, ICU admission, or death from Covid-19 will be among the first to receive vaccines,” read the report. Ontario Premier Doug Ford discussed the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in a separate press conference on February 26. While Ford argued that adding a third vaccine into the vaccination program might create some complications, he is hopeful that the rollout will be successful. “This is absolutely great news for Ontario and the entire country,” stated Ford. “[The vaccination program] is the most important thing we’re going to do, and we need to get it right.” With the approval of new vaccines, Canadians can expect a faster rollout of vaccine distribution programs. While the current timeline states that the vaccine will publicly be available to all age groups by August 2021, some officials believe that the date could be moved forward with the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
s different parts of the province start to lift some restrictions from the stay-at-home order, Peel Region has not yet been approved to move into the red zone of Ontario’s colour-coded system. The Region of Peel remains in the gray zone with maximum restrictions, but Mississauga hopes to shift into the red zone which features slightly less stringent measures than a complete lockdown. At a news conference on February 24, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie spoke about her push to transition the City of Mississauga out of stay-at-home lockdown status. “You have a commitment from me that I will push for Mississauga into the red zone on March 9 unless we see a sudden increase in our numbers,” stated Crombie. “The decision will ultimately be made by the province as usual as it always is, and we should know where we are headed by [March 5].” While Peel Region is currently averaging 88 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people, the City of Mississauga is well below this average at 73.2 confirmed cases per 100,000. The current parameter for the red zone sits at 40 cases, but Crombie is confident in the steady decline seen in the past few weeks, should everyone continue to remain vigilant and follow guidelines.
If Mississauga is approved for the red zone, limited indoor dining, as well as gyms and personal care services, will open following the appropriate guidelines. “I realized how disappointing this was, particularly for our small businesses, who are anticipating reopening for in-person shopping,” continued Crombie. “We know that the small businesses were never the main source of transmission. And you have sacrificed so much, and I have been truly disappointed along with you.” Peel Region’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, was also present at the news conference. Dr. Loh argued that while he supported Crombie’s hopeful perspective on moving into the red zone, he could not have a specific stance on the matter until he could assess the potential consequences of opening the city earlier than suggested. At the regional council meeting the following day on February 25, councillors from Mississauga, Caledon, and Brampton, unanimously voted in favour of Mayor Crombie’s motion to move the region into the red zone. While Peel remains in lockdown, the neighbouring Halton and York regions are already in the red zone, prompting skepticism from multiple councillors on the efficacy of keeping Peel in lockdown. “I am so proud of what we have accomplished, and we can’t risk what we have achieved,” stated Crombie. “Let’s continue doing the same thing that got us here, remaining vigilant so that our numbers continue to go down even further.”
Hayden Mak/The Medium, UTMSU/Twitter
2021 UTMSU elections begin This year’s elections for the UTMSU executive team and the board of directors will be held virtually on March 16.
Isik Vera Senel News Editor >> ELECTIONS continued from page 01 Candidates will campaign for the five eligible positions in the executive team and the 14 positions on the Board of Directors. The nomination period will begin on March 1 and end on March 5, followed by a silent twoday period. Campaigning for the elections will begin on March 8 and last until March 18. This year’s All Candidates Forum will be held at noon on March 6 via a Zoom meeting. The candidates’ debate is scheduled to take place on March 10 at 5:00 p.m. In the forum, all of the candidates nominated for positions on both the executive team and the Board of Directors will present their campaigns to the student body. Candidates will introduce themselves, state the position they will be running for, and discuss their platforms. The UTMSU has been vehemently against holding online elections in the past. In the 2018 UTMSU Annual General Meeting (AGM), UTM student Ethan Bryant put forward a motion to establish an online voting system, a method that has already been adopted by the UTSU. “It’s important that we look at our current voting system and acknowledge that, effectively, it discriminates against those with disabilities,” stated Bryant in the motion. Participation in elections at UTM has been low throughout the years.
Although 2020 did see an increase in voter turnout, it was still below 15 per cent. The implementation of an online voting system could solve some accessibility issues from in-person elections and increase voter turnout. In the 2018 AGM, Bryant’s motion was supported by Rupin Liddar, a UTM student who believed that an online system could help students struggling with social anxiety to participate in union elections. However, the UTMSU Vice-President Equity Leena Arbaji spoke against the motion to implement an online voting system at the Mississauga campus in 2018, and it was ultimately rejected. Arbaji argued that “easy and accessible are not the same things,” and that if the union wanted to create a more inclusive voting environment, it would work on improving the existing system rather than establishing a new one. This year’s virtual elections can be an opportunity for UTM to finally experience an election with a variety of candidates and healthy competition. Many of the positions in previous election campaigns were uncontested and candidates were able to win their seats without facing any opposition. The Spring 2020 UTMSU elections for the executive team featured one slate, Connect UTM, and a single individual candidate, Med K, running for the VP Internal position. Due to the virtual platform of this year’s elections, we can finally see how online elections can improve voter turnout and community participation in the election process.
Students interested in launching their own campaign and running for a position on the UTMSU executive team or the Board of Directors are encouraged to contact the union’s Chief Returning Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org) to receive their nomination package before the end of the nomination period.
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Governmental and civilian complicity in the Uyghur genocide Aroni Sarkar Associate Comment Editor >> UYGHUR continued from page 01 The Turkic-Muslim ethnic minority from the Xinjiang province, one of the 55 government-recognized minorities in the country have had their women forcibly sterilized, their families torn apart and sent to “re-education” camps to denounce their faith, and their community forced into slave labour. What is particularly significant, though, is the silence from Muslim nations around the world—the same nations that were vehemently opposed and vocal about the Charlie Hebdo attack in France. In the summer of 2019, several Muslim majority nations, such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, blocked a United Nations motion by the Western powers to call an independent investigation into the situation. One of the major reasons why the majority of the world’s nations are hesitant to act out against China is because of its influence and power. One such demonstration of power is China’s “Belt and Road” initiative. China has made significant investments in infrastructure development in countries from East Asia to Europe, which some have coined the New Silk Road. Many of these Muslim majority countries are part of a slew of countries that can benefit from this investment and change the wind of global trade powers that, until recently, were heavily centred in the West. Some nations even believe that Western countries condemning the Uyghur treatment and declaring sanctions are less worried about the lives of the Uyghurs and more about using the Uyghur population as strategy employed against China—which makes the matter worse. Essentially, the silent rule of global politics in regard to China has become, “If you don’t do or say anything to me, I won’t do or say anything to you.” Profit and investment are the fear factors that loom over
any nation that wants to criticize China. But what does this mean for the concentration camps in Xinjiang? Does the fear of the “boogeyman” that is China mean the denial of the genocide occurring as we continue living our normal lives? Is it considered a genocide before or after your country decides to call it so? Even after the conflict is deemed a genocide, what happens next? It might not seem like it, but arguably, many of us are indirectly complicit in the continuation of the genocide. A report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that 82 global brands and businesses have used direct and indirect forced labour by the Uyghurs, both knowingly and unknowingly. The report found that due to a lack of thorough auditing and supervision of contractors, many contractors for companies like Nike, Adidas, Apple, Samsung, Sony, Volkswagen, and BMW have supplied subcontractors that use Uyghur labour. In fact, one of the factories for Nike has been reported to be a site for the very “re-education” in Xinjiang. Approximately 80,000 forced labourers, a conservative number from Chinese state media, have been reportedly transferred to these work sites, effectively being bought and sold like slaves. Since the report came out, many companies have admitted their ignorance and lack of attention to detail in their contractors due to the size of their companies and the number of projects undertaken. By buying and consuming these products, many of us, including myself, are a part of the ripple effect that endures the concentration camps. Due to social media access, many of us have access to satellite imagery, survivor testimony, and live reports of the living and working conditions in these camps. We see them in the comfort of our homes, on our phones and devices that may have been made by Uyghur labour, in nations that are unable to act on the human rights abuse meaningfully or even declare it for what it is. This is a tough pill to swallow.
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Faculty Feature: Dr. Madeleine Mant on the interconnections present in anthropology Dr. Mant discusses her childhood, educational journey, and the importance of anthropology. Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeleine Mant Pearla Hariri Associate Features Editor >> MANT continued from page 01 a lecturer and research associate in the Anthropology Department at UTM, with a focus in the anthropology of health. Mant is known and appreciated by her students for her accessible, visual, and applicable teaching methods. Moreover, her research achievements are not limited to the classroom rather they are also highlighted in her daily life. Anthropology has always been described as the most humane of the sciences, the most scientific of the humanities, and a square fit in the social sciences. Mant has worked with individuals that have defined their interests and passions through diverse projects. She explains how it is important to keep this interdisciplinary aspect in mind as anthropology can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The science can focus on linguistic, biological, and archeological aspects—albeit always drawing back to the study of humanity. Students that take anthropology get the chance to think in a slightly novel way—this thinking often interconnecting with many other disciplines. Anthropology provides students with the opportunity to explore a variety of different social, political, and economic movements in an anthropological way that analyses why the world is the way it is. Mant’s childhood fostered her passion for the past. However, as a young woman, her interests were not limited to archaeology and history as she was also passionate about the arts. She played the saxophone and piano for a few years as well as performed in musical theatre. Mant says that during her childhood, she felt “there was always the aspect of being interested in the past, but the ability to express oneself creatively was also celebrated and fostered.” Mant is also interested in museums and history, and she explains how lucky she was to grow up in a family that analyzed and questioned the past. Her great aunt contributed to genealogical research, and as such, the concept of history and heritage always played a major role in her family. Mant also mentions her mother, who is an author and a professor at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, which is where Mant grew up. Clarity of writing and language was thus a major part of Mant’s childhood. She explains that in her family, it was always encouraged to “read the book before seeing the
movie.” She grew up in an environment that was thoroughly immersed in the academic world. At a young age, Mant knew she would be pursuing graduate school. “I had the privilege of having people in my family that had gone to graduate school and knew about it,” she says. Now that Mant is working as a lecturer, she is mindful that not everybody has family members that have gone to graduate school or even university. She realizes that for her, attending higher education was a foregone conclusion that she would eventually go, which is not everyone’s experience. “My grandmother was an educator, and so [my] time at grandma’s house was filled with educational games,” Mant says, explaining the impact her grandmother had on her educational journey. She says that keeping her grandmother’s curiosity alive is something that truly inspires her. Mant aims to instill this curiosity of the world in her students. Mant argues that this curiosity was the driving force of her time as a student. She says she has always been interested in “finding out why things are the way that they are.” She discusses two prominent experiences that catered to her passion for bioarchaeology and working with skeletons. The first being the discovery of the book titled Dead Men Do Tell Tales, a memoir of prominent forensic anthropologist Dr. William Maples. Mant explains that what truly fascinated her was not the forensic work on current cases but rather the forensic work done on historical cases like that of the Romanov’s—an imperial house of Russia reigning from 1613 to 1917, all executed on July 18, 1918. “It thrilled me that you could look into a historical mystery solely by looking at skeletal remains,” says Mant. The second experience was one that many Canadians are not a stranger to––taking a hard fall on ice, bruising her tailbone, and having to go for a bone scan. “The technician turned all the cameras around to let me see what was happening, and I remember seeing this glowing green skeleton and thinking, ‘that is inside of me, and I have no idea what is going on.’” From then on, Mant began to redirect her passion internally towards herself. “I wanted to use the past as a vehicle between the present and the future,” Mant elaborates. Mant is unconditionally thankful to have discovered anthropology in high school as a way to learn more about the world. At the University of Alberta, Mant completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts of Anthropology. She explains that in the honours program she was required to write a
thesis; Mant looked at paleopathology of ancient Egyptian sample remains. This allowed Mant to get the chance to do a biological anthropology analysis, performing a differential diagnosis to look at some of the diseases and health conditions in individuals. Additionally, during her undergrad at the University of Alberta, Mant worked as a historical interpreter in the summer at Fort Edmonton Park. She spent her summers in costumes—19th century and early 20thcentury clothing—interpreting history to the community. She explains that this was a very rewarding experience that nurtured her passion. She was able to interact with a plethora of different people, from those knowing a lot about history, to those with limited preconceived notions. At this point in time, many of the citizens in Edmonton were Métis, so her interactions encouraged people to think about how the demographics of the city looked different than what was assumed. Mant says that it was very powerful to be able to address the interrelationships between Indigenous Peoples and settlers. Mant emphasizes that her experience at the University of Alberta encouraged her to subsequently get her Master of Science in paleopathology at Durham University in the U.K. At Durham University, Mant studied dental cavities and linear enamel hypoplasia of the dental remains of individuals from middle-class and lower-class cemeteries. She analyzed the role that an individual’s socioeconomic status had on dental health in the 18th and 19th centuries of London. She elaborates that this experience was even more memorable because of her work with Dr. Charlotte Roberts, the co-author of the book titled The Archaeology of Disease. “My university career and movement across countries have been about going and working with specific people,” Mant says. Then, Mant shifted her focus to the trauma of the postmortem and perimortem at McMaster University. Her work at this time analyzed contemporary hospital records from general hospitals. Through this research, Mant worked to determine how trauma manifested itself in individuals in the 18th and 19th centuries as they dealt with the rise of massive industrialization. The main initiative of this was to analyze the stories communicated by human bones, the history written within them, and what information was communicated by the hospital regarding the incident. Mant elaborates that attaining archives of hospital records from numerous different facilities is a journey of its own. One of her projects involved a year’s worth of research,
spending four and a half months solely travelling between archives and seven months in the Museum of London lab conducting data collection. “Working with the historical records really inspired me during my postdoctoral fellowship—the Banting fellowship at Memorial University,” she explains. Following this, Mant continued to solely work with historical records and was one of the first researchers to be granted access to the records from Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, the oldest operating prison in Canada. Alongside being a research associate, Mant works as a lecturer in the Anthropology of Health Department at UTM. The courses Mant has taught form the core of the anthropology of health program—which is a special focus stream within the anthropology department. She has taught and continues to teach ANT214: Food and Nutrition, ANT220: Introduction Anthropology of Health, ANT338: Laboratory Methods in Biomedical Anthropology, and ANT 341: The Anthropology of Infectious Disease. To Mant, ANT220 is her most foundational course because it introduces students to the anthropology of health as they define words such as health, disease, and illnesses through the application of their own personal experiences. Mant describes her teaching style as enthusiastic. She says that she is lucky to be able to teach topics she is passionate about. She hopes that her teaching is accessible, friendly, and fosters trust and community. “I hope that my teaching style and passion inspires others to follow up on those topics being taught,” elaborates Mant. She further explains that the most important thing about teaching is asking what we can do with the information we gain in our studies. It is one thing to acknowledge the existence of a topic but another to analyze its impact on the world around us. With online learning, Mant has found that even more students are attending her office hours outside of class. She explains that while it is important to reach course objectives and work on academic skillbuilding, it is just as important to ensure that courses are accessible and running in an environment where students are able to ask questions. She refers to Dr. Fiona Rawle’s ongoing project of “The Pedagogy of Kindness” and how increasingly important it has become, especially during the pandemic. Mant has been learning different ways in which individuals may need assistance or accommodations, which has helped her to be more empathetic to her students. “The best advice I can provide is to be kind to yourself because you are your best cheerleader,” says Mant. She emphasizes that it is important to take care of yourself by taking periodic breaks. She encourages students to communicate with professors before deadlines when they need further clarifications, and to attend office hours because professors provide this time for their students as a platform for their success. That being said, Mant explains how it is also essential to be responsible for your own learning journey. Most importantly, Mant encourages us to take everything day by day—to trust our instincts to guide us through our decisions.
The rise of digital currency in today’s world May Alsaigh Associate Features Editor
ryptocurrency, also known as crypto, is a form of digital currency created from code and traded through the blockchain—a decentralized database. In recent years, digital currency moved closer to the mainstream as investors dignified its value and observed its potential for large financial gain. As cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin continue to drive the financial market, investors are racing to purchase stocks before the prices skyrocket. Cryptocurrencies can be used for quick payments that avoid transaction fees but can also be investments for financial earnings. They can be purchased with a credit card or through a process known as mining, where individuals use computerized technology to create new coins by collecting transactions and organizing them into blocks—hence the aforementioned database of blockchain. The most popular form of minable currency is Bitcoin, a public ledger shared by a network of computers. Other widely known cryptocurrencies are Ethereum, Bitcoin cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), and Ripple (XRP). Unlike the traditional U.S. dollar, cryptocurrencies are not insured by the government and an investor cannot be reimbursed for their losses if a coin declares bankruptcy or gets hacked. They are also highly volatile and tend to fluctuate frantically. For this reason, there are existing apprehensions surrounding cryptocurrency and trading platforms. As of February 28, a single Bitcoin could be purchased around a price of $44,000 USD, or $56,000 CAD. In 2010, one Bitcoin was priced around $0.06, meaning an investment of $100 at the time would garner a return on investment (ROI) of nearly $73,333,333 USD today. Over the years, Bitcoin investors have acquired astronomical ROIs. As such, Bitcoin has become an impressive portfolio asset, despite its financial insecurity and inclination to fluctuate. The uncertainty surrounding Bitcoin and other digital currencies questions the worth of such investments and their impacts on the future of finance. Andreas Park, an associate professor of finance at UTM, provides input about a contingency plan for a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) program designed by the Bank of Canada. Essentially, CBDC is a digital form of a country’s fiat currency and is a central bank’s liability. Unlike cryptocurrencies, the government is responsible for maintaining these reserves rather than a private company. In an interview with U of T News he describes this blockchain as “an intelligent, open-source social operating system for programmable e-money.” Unlike other cryptocurrencies today, this financial asset is not volatile and is not prone to speculation. Professor Park goes on to write, “A company like Tim Hortons can plug into it to develop an
enhanced reward program, or a firm can customize a service for smaller merchants. Entrepreneurs will ensure the payment mechanism keeps pace with incoming tech: Internet-ofThings micropayments, for example.” As Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies become more popular, central banks are entering this competitive financial market where money is transcending into a digital field. Banks feel the need to implement this mode of payment as they compete with prominent cryptocurrencies around the globe. For many Canadians, this acquisition may be a more viable option as it reduces unsecured crypto investment. Regarding the Bank of Canada, Professor Park says, “The bank has spent the better part of the last decade preparing for this moment […] It has a head start over most other central banks in the world.” CBDC appeals to major financial institutions compared to cryptocurrencies since it allows for greater control and traceability. The CBDC would hopefully reduce financial crime incidents and mitigate offences like counterfeiting and tax evasion while enhancing the safety and stability of banks. Cryptocurrency is impacting the financial world as banks and companies enter the crypto market with large acquisitions and integration with payment platforms, such as MasterCard and Paypal. For instance, Tesla has recently announced a $1.5 billion Bitcoin purchase and is now accepting the coin as a payment method for its electronic and clean energy vehicles. Is cryptocurrency the future of finance? The answer to this question is uncertain, despite its rapid rise in popularity and value in the last decade. The spikes in value may have unintended consequences for the future. For example, Bitcoin’s dramatic price surge in 2017 pushed the blockchain and crypto sector to develop alternatives to the decentralized and distributed nature of this asset as investors scrambled to keep their assets safe. Digital currencies are constantly being created and assimilated into the market while investors try to understand if they will produce large financial growth. On the other hand, cryptocurrency and blockchains allow anyone to participate in the global economy and create an inclusive global financial system. Transactions occur without going through the disruption of central parties to keep track of the internal ledger—such as governmental financial systems that limit and monitor large transactions and charge fees. Cryptocurrency’s technological networking aspect brings wealth and richness to the world with less commitment and more inclusivity. As cryptocurrency becomes integrated into financial markets, individuals have the equal opportunity to obtain the skills and knowledge for investing, regardless of their geographical positioning—another advantage to the integration of crypto into global financial markets. Today, cryptocurrency has the potential to enhance the global economy and have an influential impact on humanity.
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The greatest artist comebacks of all time These artists have each risen to fame, crashed, and found redemption.
Paige France Associate Arts Editor
ost musical artists will misfire at some points in their career. Some endure minor hiccups along the way, while others climb the charts to stardom, only to plummet into controversy, public backlash, and eventually, obscurity. After such a massive fall from grace, few artists will ever climb their way back. But every trend has a few outliers. And with that in mind, here are the artists who’ve achieved the greatest comebacks of all time. Mariah Carey After an illustrious career in the 1990s—in which she sold more than 100 million albums globally, inspired an entire generation of vocalists with her iconic whistle notes, and became crowned the “Artist of the Decade”—it seems impossible that Mariah Carey would require a comeback. Her downfall came in 2001 when she changed musical styles for her eighth studio album, Glitter. Many Carey fans were unimpressed. Critics even more so. It didn’t help that Glitter was released on September 11 and was the soundtrack for one of the worst rated movies of all time. To follow up this misstep, Carey released Charmbracelet in 2002. Unfortunately, the album drew even harsher reviews, souring her musical status and further cementing her undoing. After three years of career uncertainty, Carey released her 10th studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi. Tracks such as “We Belong Together,” “Shake It Off,” and “Don’t Forget About Us” became immediate hits. It marked her best-selling album in over a decade, garnering the diva icon 10 Grammy nominations and three wins, including Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B song, and Best Contemporary R&B Album.
Using her nickname “Mimi,” Carey later revealed that the comeback album gave her the ability to find true artistic freedom while poking fun at her two previous missteps. Elvis Presley During the 1950s, after a slew of panned Hollywood films, and with the music industry focused on The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley’s career took a massive hit. After taking a seven-year hiatus from live performances to follow his movie-star dreams, “The King” was criticized for his sudden and presumably permanent career trajectory. Despite being ranked as the sixth top box office star of the 1960s and his films grossing an estimated $185 million from American and Canadian audiences, many people no longer viewed him as an influential musician. That all changed in 1968. Broadcasting on NBC with the television concert, Elvis, Presley made his comeback. Decked in his iconic leather jacket and leather pants, Presley delivered an energetic performance to an intimate gathering, garnering praise from fans and critics, and redeeming his status in the music scene. His special attracted 42 per cent of American television viewers, making NBC the highest-rated channel of the year. This legendary television concert soon became known as “The Comeback Special,” proving to the world that “The King” wasn’t ready to leave his throne or give up his infamous gyrating hips. The Chicks aka “Dixie Chicks” From the late-1990s to the early aughts, Dixie Chicks became one of the top-selling bands in history. That success spiraled in an instant in 2003 after lead vocalist, Natalie Maines, made comments against America’s war with Iraq, saying, “We’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.”
Take A Rest and stop by the newest Blackwood Gallery lightbox exhibit
At the time, these political comments imploded the band from its country music stardom and catalyzed perhaps the harshest reaction to musical artists in history. Online mobs regularly attacked the band members with death threats. Country radio stations stopped playing their music. People even gathered and performed mass burnings of their CDs. Given the intensity of vitriol, Dixie Chicks’ eventual comeback seems almost miraculous. The band first returned in 2006, with the double-platinum album, Taking the Long Way. While people criticized the album and country radio stations still didn’t play its music, Dixie Chicks won album, song, and record of the year at the Grammys. In July 2020, after a 14-year hiatus, The Chicks dropped the “Dixie” from its name, further disassociating from the Confederate South and the country music scene with the pop-tinged album, Gaslighter. Their eighth studio album—and second “comeback album”— refused to abide by political conventions “appropriate” for female singers. Since its genre change and newest album release, the band’s popularity only continues to grow, racking up accolades and acceptance from audiences. Cher Today, Cher is a crucial part of the musical landscape. But she wasn’t always destined to be the American sweetheart we know and love. After succeeding in the pop duo Sonny & Cher in the 1960s, and again as a solo artist in the 1970s, Cher’s fame dwindled after a string of failed musical ventures, multiple public divorces, and a lacklustre nightclub act. Unlike The Chicks, Cher’s descent was never catastrophic. Instead, she earns her spot on the list for having the most comebacks. Throughout her lengthy career, Cher has left and returned to the musical scene four different times, after pivoting to television in the 1970s, switching to Hollywood in the 1980s, and suffering from
Dalainey Gervais Contributor >> BLACKWOOD continued from page 01 Rather than a fluid dance highlighting strength, Sasaki choreographed a piece of art that demonstrates a trained dancer, James Phillips, being put to the test. Although the original piece was a live performance, with Phillips moving and holding unique positions, the stills featured in the Blackwood Gallery allow spectators to marvel at the unsustainability of these positions. Inspired by themes explored through one of his earlier works, I Promise It Will Always Be This Way (2008), Sasaki pushes the boundaries of physical strength, examining the toll the body endures in times of loneliness. The lighting highlights Phillips’s muscles and accentuates the strength needed to hold each pose,
chronic fatigue syndrome in the 1990s. In 1996, the New York Times dubbed Cher the “Queen of the Comeback.” Asked about the cruelest thing written during her musical failures, Cher recalled she once read: “That if the world were destroyed in a nuclear holocaust, the only thing left alive would be ‘cockroaches and Cher.’” Her return to stardom only continued in 1998, when her all-conquering, auto-tuned banger, Believe, became her first US number one since 1974’s Dark Lady. Now 74 years old, and still touring worldwide, Cher has cemented herself as a musical icon. Taylor Swift While enduring the shortest hiatus on this list by far, Taylor Swift makes a case for the most successful comeback of all time with her careerredefining album reputation. With it, the pop queen quite literally “rose up from the grave” in the music video for the track, “Look What You Made Me Do.” For years, Swift built up a positive image as a country sweetheart. But in 2016, she was branded as a snake after a very public feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. Soon after, #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty started trending on Twitter, and Swift went into isolation for a year. Through reputation, Swift embraced publish backlash, reclaiming the snake image and referencing it throughout the comeback album. Not only was it a comeback, it was a sign that Swift could reclaim success despite negative publicity, using her haters as fodder for her singles “Mean,” “Blank Space,” “Shake It Off,” and “Look What You Made Me Do.” After three years of near radio silence, reputation sold more than 700,000 copies on its release day. Swift’s tour in 2018 earned her Tour of the Year at iHeart Radio Music Awards and made her the world’s highest-paid celebrity. Reputation is predicted to remain the highest grossing tour in U.S. history. while the shadows on the floor imply the absent dance partner’s support. Watching Phillips’ body slowly break through progressive poses reminds us that we’re all social beings in need of partners, and loneliness will always be our downfall. The Covid-19 pandemic has given new meaning to Sasaki’s lightbox pieces. With the anxiety and physical exhaustion depicted in his work, the artist hopes to reflect and connect with the stress many feel during this time of isolation. “I think it would be interesting if part of the anxiety [of A Rest] gets read as economic or social,” says Sasaki. “The Covid-19 lens just makes it more interesting.” If you’re on campus, I encourage you to stop by and admire Jon Sasaki’s A Rest. The installation will be up for viewing until March 14, 2021. If you’re unable to visit the pieces in person, Jon Sasaki’s original choreography is available for viewing on his website, while digital versions of A Rest can be seen on the Blackwood Gallery website.
08 The power of brevity in the short story genre Danica Teng Associate Arts Editor >> LITERATURE continued from page 01 A lengthy story can also allure us, drawing us deeper with the promise of fully fleshed-out characters or lifelike fantastical worlds. Though many stories run long, they don’t need to. Sometimes, short stories are the ones that hit that perfect sweet spot in between. While short stories are notably compact, their resonance cannot be contained. With such compelling tales told with brevity, the shortened length becomes a storytelling advantage, losing no depth in its themes and meaning. Like novels and plays, some short stories become classics, such as Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, Jamaica Kincaid’s Girl, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, Herman Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener, and other memorable works. Short stories may not always have a complete ending, but that doesn’t make them incomplete. Ambiguous or abrupt endings allow stories to persist, off the page and in the reader’s mind. The lack of details or closure also creates more room for interpretation and invites discussion with other readers. Compared to full-length novels, short stories can benefit readers by getting straight to the point and gripping their focus. The single setting readthrough can make the story’s last paragraph or sentence stand out more even more. Just because the story itself is short doesn’t mean its impact is limited. Brevity also helps enchant readers for the short time we devote to reading. As Poe says in an 1842 review, “In the brief tale, however, the author is enabled to carry out the fullness of his intention, be it what it may. During the hour of perusal, the soul of the reader is at the writer’s control. There are no external or extrinsic influences—resulting from weariness or interruption.” The immersive quality of one sitting is often overlooked. Usually, in the time it takes to read a short story, the stories are ours and we are theirs. And when we finish the story, and we break from its charm, it still leaves us satisfied and ready for the next one. This allure is especially true for people who don’t have time to read—short stories become a great way to save time and develop the habit of reading more. Encouraged by the faster pace, it’s also a chance to explore multiple genres that the literary world has to offer. While everyone has their own preferences, one literary form isn’t better than the other. Each style is best suited for the type of tale. There’s no doubt LeGuin’s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas would affect readers differently as a full-length novel. Conversely, J. R. R. Tolkien couldn’t have built the expansive, larger-than-life world in The Hobbit in just a few pages. Part of literature’s beauty lies in the different ways that stories can be told. Each form will always have something unique to offer and its own special charm. If you’re interested in learning more about the short story form, there are some fascinating courses offered within UTM’s English program, including ENG213 (The Short Story) or ENG215 (The Canadian Short Story).
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Shakespeare’s plays are available on screen Siu Ching Chan Contributor
fter the unfortunate cancellation of theatre performances in 2020, UTM’s Theatre Erindale has planned and adapted for an exciting pandemic-friendly season this year. From February 5 to 7, Theatre Erindale performed Romeo and Juliet “on stage” via Zoom. It was an unparalleled theatrical experience—with stellar student performances and a remarkable production considering the technical limitations. For those who missed the live performance of Romeo and Juliet, fret not! The UofT library offers an extensive catalogue of Shakespeare’s plays online, with original texts, live theatre, and film adaptations to feast thine eyes upon. I recently watched a recording of Midsummer Night’s Dream from the Globe Theatre. Can you believe that? I felt as though I was in London, standing among the crowd in Shakespeare’s Globe, a pleasant reminiscence of my trip to the U.K. before Covid-19 struck. If you’re fed up with Hollywood rom coms, below is a list of Shakespeare’s greatest plays you can access with your UTORid. We could all use some good old riotous, rhythmic, rhyming rivalry, and below are some of our favourites.
Romeo and Juliet (dir. Erica Whyman, Royal Shakespeare Company, 2018) The play opens with the now infamous lines: “Two households, both alike in dignity. In fair Verona, where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean…” Romeo and Juliet are two teenagers defying the long-simmering hatred between their families, the Montagues and the Capulets, and falling in love at a terrible cost. Teenagers can be rather reckless. Midsummer Night’s Dream (dir. Emma Rice, Shakespeare’s Globe, London, 2015) This comedy takes place in Athens and comprises several subplots revolving around the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta. One subplot involves a conflict between four Athenian lovers in the woods at night. What are those unmarried couples doing there? The play is two hours long but easy to follow because Rice offers a more modernized adaptation of an Old Elizabethan style. One will also see Shakespeare’s iconic literary technique—“a play within a play.”
Hamlet (dir. Robert Icke, Almeida Theatre, London, 2017) In high school, perhaps you read Hamlet, Shakespeare’s longest play at 30,577 words. Set in Denmark, the play depicts a ghost with a shocking secret, a daughter devastated by loss, and a deadly duel. Hamlet feigning madness to avenge his slain father is among the most iconic tragedies Shakespeare ever quilled to paper. You’ll surely be spellbound before the first act ends. Twelfth Night (dir. Tim Carrol, Shakespeare’s Globe, London, 2012) Shipwrecked on the coast of Illyria, and believing her twin brother drowned, Viola disguises herself as a man and enters the service of Duke Orsino, only to find herself entangled in a triangle of unrequited love. Meanwhile, in the household of Countess Olivia, Sir Toby Belch and his unruly companions trick Olivia’s censorious steward, Malvolio, into believing that she loves him. Don’t you love the twists? Macbeth (dir. Justin Kurzel, film adaptation, 2015) If you like gore, Macbeth will top your list. The play is a haunting story of civil wars and bloodbaths as the military hero, Macbeth, and his wife conspire to seize
09 Top movies to watch out for in 2021 Anna Povorozniuk Contributor
ith one lockdown after another, it’s entirely possible that you’ve watched everything on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, or whatever other streaming service you subscribe to. Well, everything that’s good. And if you’re like me, you now spend your nights mindlessly scrolling through titles, hoping to find one to save you from never-ending boredom—or from thinking about that midterm. 2020 was a grim year for the film industry. Theatres closed their doors, productions got delayed, and the movies we were so excited about in 2020 got pushed back. All this contributed to the dearth of content we experienced last year. However, the wait may finally be over: productions have wrapped, titles have release dates, and blockbusters are bypassing theatres for streaming services. While nothing is certain anymore, movies are ready to roll out in 2021 and here are the releases we’re most excited to watch (fingers-crossed). Raya and the Last Dragon (March 5)
Scotland’s throne. It’s about the violence and destruction wrought when ambition goes unchecked by moral constraints. Othello (dir. Oliver Parker, film adaptation, 1995) Undeterred by their different backgrounds, life experiences, and prejudices surrounding them, Othello and Desdemona unite in marriage. But deadly malice lurks where the newlyweds least expect it. Soon, whispers of suspicion breed irrational jealousy in this gripping psychological drama, one of Shakespeare’s most-celebrated tragedies. The Merchant of Venice (dir. Polly Findlay, Royal Shakespeare Company, 2015) Pursuing a girlfriend took a lot of effort and money in the 16th century. Traditionally, the man would buy a bouquet and other gifts to court a girl. In The Merchant of Venice, Antonio is an antiSemitic merchant, who instead takes a loan from a Jewish “Shylock” to help his friend to court a young woman named Portia. Antonio cannot repay the loan, so Shylock demands a pound of his flesh. Will the heiress Portia, now the wife of Antonio’s friend, save Antonio?
The Tempest (dir. Phyllida Lloyd, Donmar Warehouse, London, 2017) A sorcerer, Prospero, former Duke of Milan, is marooned with his daughter on a remote island populated only by spirits and his monstrous servant, Caliban. Prospero uses his magical arts to raise a storm at sea, bringing him face to face at last with those who deposed him twelve years earlier. With his enemies in his grasp, Prospero now faces a choice: to exact revenge or to build a brave new world for the next generation. King Lear (dir. Richard Eyre, film adaptation, 2018) Many said Shakespeare wrote King Lear during a plague. Very timely for our quarantine binge. The play is about many things: a Kingdom divided, a family destroyed, the faithful banished, and the hateful left to wreak inhuman havoc on the realm. Four hundred years after it was written, King Lear still resonates. History and family dynamics always repeat themselves.
Between about 1590 and 1613, Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays and collaborated on several more.
Disney’s newest animated feature will premiere in March, bringing us to a fantastical land where long-ago dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity from the evil Druun monsters. Five-hundred years later, the monsters return. Now, a warrior (Kelly Marie Tran) must go on a mission to find the last dragon (Awkwafina) and try saving the world. Directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, Raya & The Last Dragon features a predominantly Asian-American cast with many Southeast Asian cultural influences. It’s a magical journey of self-discovery that should appeal to all audiences. As I always say, you’re never too old to watch cartoons.
turn to his family in the Dominican Republic. Starring a multitude of Latino talent, In the Heights explores themes of gentrification, immigration, cultural identity, and romance through song. A Quiet Place Part II (Sept. 17) In 2018, John Krasinski debuted in the director’s chair with the pin-drop horror-thriller, A Quiet Place. The movie masterfully crafted tension through minimal sound and dialogue—garnering critical acclaim and a $341 million box office. The sequel was announced for early 2020, but after being delayed three times, it’s now set to premiere this fall. A Quiet Place Part II picks up where the previous movie left off. The Abbot Family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe) must leave their secluded home in search of another shelter. However, they soon realize the sound-hunting creatures aren’t the only threat in their post-apocalyptic world. Dune (Oct. 1) Based on the 1965 science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, this 2021 adaptation is directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) and features a galaxy full of A-list stars, including Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, and Rebecca Ferguson, among others. The film takes place set in the distant future and follows a duke named Paul Atreides leading a battle to control the desert planet Arrakis. If you haven’t watched the trailer yet, I suggest you do—as even glimpses impress with its stark visuals and innate sense of drama. There are five books written in the series, and this movie covers just a part of the first book, so it’s possible this will kickstart a longer film franchise. Last Night in Soho (Oct. 22)
Black Widow (May 7) After years of anticipation dating back to 2004, Marvel fans are finally getting a standalone Black Widow origin story. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour, the movie is set between the films Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, and follows Natasha Romanoff back to Russia, where she’s forced to confront her past. Directed by Cate Shortland, Black Widow is the first installment in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Originally scheduled to release in May 2020, the premiere date has since been delayed twice due to the ongoing pandemic. After two years since the last MCU film, 2021 is the year we will see a beloved ass-kicking Avenger back on the screen. In the Heights (June 18) Attention musical theatre lovers: this movie is for you. Based on the award-winning musical written by the great Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), and directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), In The Heights depicts a multicultural working-class neighbourhood, where the residents dream (and sing) about a better life. The film takes place over three days and follows a bodega owner named Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), who saves his money hoping to re-
What do time-travel, fashion, and horror have in common? Nothing. Unless you’re talking about Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho, which centres on an aspiring fashion designer who mysteriously time-travels to the 1960s to meet her idol—with shady consequences. This psychological horror film has an impressive ensemble with Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, and Terence Stamp all starring. If you love slow-burn scares, the 60s, and nervous-breakdown horror classics such as Don’t Look Now and Repulsion, then clear your calendar for October 22 and get ready to experience one unique psychological thrill ride. The Matrix 4 (Dec. 22) As they say: you save the best for last. Our last recommendation arrives at the end of 2021— a special treat for all Matrix fans. as Warner Bros. revives the beloved franchise that ended 20 years ago. Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Jada Pinkett Smith will return in their previous roles as Neo, Trinity, and Niobe, respectively, so this movie is guaranteed to bring back some nostalgia. The exact plot of the movie is unknown (for now), but it’ll surely pack some action, style, and slow-motion. Let’s hope that by December, we’ll all be able to see this movie in theatres.
Rewind: Annie Hall and the derivative style of Hollywood Now if that sounds like a cliché to you, just know that this is the movie that made it a cliché. Aidan Thompson Contributor
watched Woody Allen’s 1977 film Annie Hall this past week and got way too excited in the way only a film junkie can. Despite the film being 44 years old, it felt more modern than most movies that came out last year. Coupled with my shameless love for romantic comedies, I felt—in my self-absorbed way— that what the world needed was an article breaking down the influence Annie Hall had on the romantic comedy genre. Annie Hall (dir. Woody Allen, 1977) In 1977, Annie Hall beat out George Lucas’ Star Wars to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The film was by far Allen’s most decorated and financially successful, and marked a distinct change in his style, eschewing the shallow skit-comedy of his earlier work for something with a little more life in it. The film revolves around Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) as he looks back on his relationship with the oh-so-fashionable Annie Hall (Diane Keaton), trying to figure out where it all went wrong. Now if that sounds like a cliché to you, just know that this is the movie that made it a cliché. Alvy Singer, with his acerbic cynicism, and Annie Hall with her ditzy sincerity have been
the blueprint for so many great Hollywood movie characters since. The dichotomy between a cynical, overthinking character and a hopeful idealist is just too soothing to forget. The set designs that Allen used have been filtered down through generations of films, and you’ve probably heard of Alvy’s jokes even if you’ve never reached the credits of a film made before 2010. I could list out all the jokes here, but neither of us would enjoy that. So instead, grab yourself a two-hour glass of wine, tell your housemates you’ve got a big day tomorrow, lock yourself in your room, and watch this movie and the films it inspired. When Harry Met Sally (dir. Rob Reiner, 1989) Hailed as one of the greatest rom-coms ever, Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally is a film built from Annie Hall’s scaffolding. From the trademarked opening credits, to the nuanced characterization, to the familiar sound of New York traffic permeating every frame, When Harry Met Sally has been called “the best 1977 Woody Allen movie made in 1989.” Now, Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) may be a slightly more depressing, less comedic Alvy Singer, but the two share their cynicism about love and romance. Sally Albrecht (Meg Ryan) might be a little tougher to warm up to than Annie Hall—and considering her khaki shorts, a lot less stylish—but both characters pull the blinds open and let a little sunshine into the film’s cynical side. When Harry Met Sally brings sincerity but lacks the original comedy of Annie Hall, a quality that reflects an evolution from the postmodern to the contemporary. Reiner’s
film lacks the self-reflective fourth wall breaks and the skit-like post-structuralist styling of Annie Hall. Instead, it settles for a cohesive structure and a hopeful and idealistic ending. This is perhaps the only difference between the two films: Annie Hall is a story looking back on how love was lost; When Harry Met Sally is a story of love being found. 500 Days of Summer (dir. Marc Webb, 2009) Perhaps the most unashamed tip-of-the-cap to Annie Hall is Marc Webb’s 500 Days of Summer. There’s a good chance you’ve heard this movie referenced by the same people who think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the most underrated film (which it’s not, at least not while About Time is still around). The film was a breath of fresh air in romcoms. It disrupted the genre’s all-too-idealistic tendency to portray love as easy and only a meet-cute away with a more blunt, realistic thesis: sometimes, no matter how convinced you are that you’ve found “the one,” you’re wrong. Sometimes, when you think you’ve lost the one, you’re actually just about to meet them. If Annie Hall was a paint by number and you were using Juno’s colour palette, you’d have 500 Days of Summer. The film’s most imaginative scene is the brilliant two-panelled shot that imagines Tom’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) fantasy and bitter reality when going to meet Summer (Zooey Deschanel) at her twinkly rooftop dinner party. This two-panelled “diptych” shot echoes the classic therapy scene in Annie Hall but reimagines it in a beautifully evocative way.
Before Sunrise (dir. Richard Linklater, 1995) On the surface, the two films seem entirely different. Annie Hall is expansive, ambiguous, and ironic. Before Sunrise is brief, straightforward, and sincere. But deep down, there are some distinct similarities between the two films—starting with their cynical, perhaps overly conscious, male protagonist. In Annie Hall, Alvy is a neurotic Jewish New Yorker who sees anyone who doesn’t like him as anti-Semitic. Meanwhile, in Before Sunrise, Jessy (Ethan Hawke) is instinctually skeptic of others around him, a quality I think many recently dumped people take on. The two skeptics, however dedicated to their craft, both fall for the sincere, hopeful women who act as antidotes for their male counterparts—granted Julie Delpy isn’t nearly as stylish as Diane Keaton, but the two share a common footing. Both films also offer a refreshingly honest portrayal of love that dismantles the alluring, heavily cliché “happily ever after” ending. Instead, each emphasize the importance of cherishing the moment, however, they do so in a much less overused way. Now maybe I’m just stretching a similarity in order to reference this movie—which is likely considering my adoration for it—but Before Sunrise owes as much of its characterization to Annie Hall as Star Wars would owe its setting to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Despite that being the case, do watch this movie, please. Now, if you want to spend your time pulling at the thread trying to find some solution to infinite regression, be my guest. But I’m going to let things rest here before I start to doubt whether there’s ever been an original thought in film.
sports & health
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Past the Melanin UTM hosts virtual conference sharing the perspectives of Black athletes in sport.
Robert Bui Contributor
eing an athlete is a rigorous experience physically and mentally in any sport, but the complexity rises when you have to face adversity as well. The Connections and Conversations group for racialized staff at UofT, with the mission to provide a community of support and opportunities for mentorship and professional development, gives insight into the issues of adversity through workshops, seminars, and events. On Thursday, February 11 they hosted their Zoom presentation, “Black Athletes on the Margins: I Am More!” consisting of student writer Desiree Rubadiri, Soccer coach Jesse Asiedu, Track-And-Field Bobsledder Alecia Beckford Stewart, and Toronto Argonaut Natey Adjei. Rubadiri kicked things off with a spokenword poem on the incarceration of Black people in America titled “When They See Us” that focuses on the issue of the false narrative of the media. After the poem, we got to meet our guest panelists who spoke on a range of topics. When asked about COVID Asiedu and Beckford both mentioned that they feel grateful for the opportunities they’ve had. Asiedu said that he feels gratitude for his personal
experience considering the pandemic restrictions today, and Beckford said that she is enjoying the opportunity to get creative with what to do with her time. Adjei on the other hand said he found a silver lining with Covid-19: due to the pandemic he has been able to spend more time with his children and is able to get more into sports media, particularly Sportsnet. The presentation quickly got into deeper questions. When asked about being Black in their respective sports, every athlete had a distinct answer. Asiedu, who came to Canada from Africa, was the only black athlete on his soccer teams growing up and had the mentality that he had to perform exceptionally well or else he would feel the resentment from his teammates wondering “why didn’t Jesse perform today” compared to his other teammates who wouldn’t have the same type of expectations on performance. Beckford felt like the sole black athlete on not only her team but in her sport when it came to gymnastics and bobsledding. As a kid she mentions the ignorance of her peers who expected her to be fast and powerful due to her skin. The athlete who narrowly missed out on the 2018 Olympics states her skin is only the result of melanin and does not affect her speed or strength. She says further that even today she feels the racism in subtle moments, for example certain
people wondering how she’ll perform in her helmet considering her black hair when nobody else’s hair is brought into question. Adjei said that in the world of football, the portion of Black athletes is around 70 per cent, so he never felt the racism personally. But he has seen racist situations where a Black quarterback isn’t being told to run a complex offence from coaches who don’t think they’re smart enough to handle it, practically stuffing the quarterback into a box where they won’t get the opportunity to advance their career because the coach doesn’t think they can handle it mentally. Outside of sport, Adjei has said that he gets treated with a friendly smile but that he knows in the back of his head that if he weren’t an athlete, he’d be treated differently. One instance he brings up was a policeman acting hostile to him until he realized that Adjei was a Toronto Argonaut. Adjei also spotlights how social justice shouldn’t be in moments of the year, bringing up the argument that there should be the prevention of wrongdoings, not corrections after the fact. When it comes to mental health, Adjei mentions how it is not usually talked about and how athletes grow up with the conditioning that mental health is a weakness. He wants young athletes to know that it’s not about being soft, it is about being aware, and that not talking about mental health does not make you a better athlete.
Going forward, the three athletes talk about their insights on the present and future. Asiedu says that as a coach he does not want his athletes to go through what he did so he communicates with his team on a personal level. On life as an athlete he specifically says, “It is a journey, and a personal journey. Being an athlete lasts for 30 years—there’s still 60 years left.” Beckford mentions how being an athlete does not determine who you are; it is an opportunity that gives you options. Specifically, she mentions the scholarships she has received, and the privilege she’s had to travel around the world thanks to excelling in her sport. Adjei who I would consider the MVP of the guest panelists (most likely due to his experience with Sportsnet), finalized his thoughts with ideas like “Don’t let your athleticism go to your head,” talking about how you shouldn’t mistreat people because you’re an athlete. “Treat every day like a job interview,” he continued. Following a two-way Q&A session, Desiree Rubadiri capped off the event with another spoken-word poem. This one with a theme of being underestimated and rising above challenges. The event ran for 90 minutes, providing an insightful look on being an athlete, being Black, and mental health. It can be watched on YouTube here: https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=-Nde8U7e-i0&ab_ channel=UTMAthletics.
What kinds of people become extremists? Recent study attempts to pinpoint the mindset, personality, and beliefs of people with extremist ideologies.
Duaa Nasir Contributor
ave you ever wondered what kinds of people become extremists? A recent study from the University of Cambridge examines decision-making strategies, personality traits, and ideological attitudes in people to identify relationships between the variables. This study, led by Dr. Leor Zmigrod from the university’s Department of Psychology, was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. on February 22, 2021. “I’m interested in the role that hidden cognitive functions play in sculpting ideological thinking,” explains Zmigrod. “Many people will know those in their communities who have become radicalized or adopted increasingly extreme political views, whether on the left or right. We want to know why particular individuals are more susceptible.” “By examining ‘hot’ emotional cognition alongside the ‘cold’ unconscious cognition of basic information processing we can see a psychological signature for those at risk of engaging with an ideology in an extreme way.” This study utilizes research from Stanford University conducted between 2016 and 2017. In that study, hundreds of participants completed 22 personality surveys and performed 37 cognitive tasks. In 2018, Zmigrod and his team followed up on 334 of those participants. They used 16 surveys to determine “attitudes and strength of feeling towards various ideologies.” Conservative people utilized slower, cautious, and more accurate unconscious decision making. In contrast, liberal people utilized “fast-and-imprecise” strategies to perceive situations. Dogmatic people, those with fixed views resistant to change, processed perceptual evidence slower than others, but they were also more impulsive. They had lower levels of agreeableness and were less likely to take social risks. However, they were more likely to take risks for ethical reasons. Religiosity was linked to high levels of agreeableness and risk perception.
Conservatism and nationalism were associated with cautious unconscious decisionmaking. They were also associated with reward sensitivity, increased goal-directedness, and reduced risk-taking socially. ScienceDaily notes that most “approaches to radicalization policy mainly rely on basic demographic information such as age, race and gender.” However, when the researchers used psychological factors to predict dogmatism, religiosity, conservatism, and nationalism, instead of demographics, increased the accuracy of the prediction. With dogmatism, the accuracy increased from 1.53 per cent to 23.6 per cent. With religiosity, this percentage increased from 2.9 per cent to 23.4 per cent and with conservatism and nationalism it increased from less than 8 per cent to 32.5 per cent. Extremism was characterized by a mixture of dogmatic and conservative traits. These people were cautious decision makers but with impulsive and sensation-seeking personalities. They had weaker working memories and were slower at processing information. “Subtle difficulties with complex mental processing may subconsciously push people towards extreme doctrines that provide clearer, more defined explanations of the world, making them susceptible to toxic forms of dogmatic and authoritarian ideologies,” says Zmigrod. “There appear to be hidden similarities in the minds of those most willing to take extreme measures to support their ideological doctrines. Understanding this could help us to support those individuals vulnerable to extremism and foster social understanding across ideol o g i c a l divides.”
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The Medium - Volume 47, Issue 19