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(ˈmoovmənt/) a group of people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas.
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Letter from the Editor
In my journalism class sophomore year, my professor took us to a Q&A titled “What News Matters,” where a panel of journalists from Rolling Stone, NY1 and The Daily Mail discussed what stories are important “right now.” By the event’s 90-minute finishing mark, none had mentioned art in the arena of news that mattered; perhaps it was our lack of fatalities or presence on Capitol Hill. But the implication that we don’t matter is entirely false and served as the genesis for this issue. The theme is movement, and for the panelists, it’s a political one. Film reviews may not bleed and concert coverage can’t pass laws, but the movements that define my desk’s five sections –– Books, Entertainment, Film, Music and Theater –– could not be more rooted in the politics of then and now. During times of political and social unrest, artists were the first to reflect the change needed in the world and through movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, we got them. This issue is not an A to Z guide on French New Wave or Impressionism, but it does explore the movements whose ideologies hold a strong relevance to our world today. Art has consumed my life for as long as I can remember. Whether that medium be dance, theater or film, it doesn’t make a difference. But as a journalist and former dancer, my goal has been to make art and make it matter to the world. And with this issue –– Movements –– I hope we might have accomplished just that.
Film Music Theater Entertainment
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Mumblecore: An Unspoken Genre By ZULEYMA SANCHEZ Staff Writer
If you’re unfamiliar with the term mumblecore, you are not alone. Mumblecore, unlike other widely accepted and standardized genres of film — comedy, action, drama — thrives on its obscurity and its inability to be properly defined. Not even widely accepted as a stand-alone genre, many consider it a subgenre of independent filmmaking while others revere it as an entire film movement. Regardless, mumblecore films are generally recognizable by their degree of realism when it comes to acting and dialogue and their emphasis on the complexities of personal relationships — they are definitely worth reading up on. Mumblecore was created by director Andrew Bujalski and started with his film
mumblecore are now progressing in so many interesting ways,” said Tisch sophomore Jason Ooi, who considers himself a fan of the movement. “Aaron Katz made ‘Gemini’ with Zoe Kravitz, Lola Kirke and John Cho. Andrew Bujalski made ‘Support the Girls’ with Haley Lu Richardson and Regina Hall, and Joe Swanberg has been making movies for Netflix for the past few years, like ‘Drinking Buddies’ which stars Olivia Wilde.” Perhaps the genre’s most fascinating facets are its uniquely American beginning and its rejection by those most closely associated with it. Unlike other film movements, mumblecore was proliferated and circulated by American actors, screenwriters and directors. Despite this, to ask someone about their association with the word is often construed as an insult. This was the experience of Jason Ooi who once tried to pitch an article
[It] represents a lot of cinematic purity and is totally evocative of what can be done on a low budget.” JASON OOI “Funny Ha Ha” in 2002. However, it didn’t receive wide recognition as a movement until the South by Southwest Film Festival in 2005. Coincidentally, many films that year shared an aesthetically and narratively authentic approach to filmmaking and were thus grouped together as mumblecore films — whether the filmmakers liked it or not. Once considered a niche pocket of cinema, it’s unlikely now that someone hasn’t encountered the mumblecore genre. Though the term only brings up just over 3,000 results on YouTube, many of the affiliated filmmakers now produce content on large entertainment platforms. Mark Duplass, whose name might sound unfamiliar but whose face is instantly recognizable, created the critically acclaimed show “Togetherness” on HBO and has films on Netflix. Lena Dunham is a household name thanks to her hit show “Girls,” and Greta Gerwig is an Oscar-nominated and award-winning director. “The directors that started out making
about mumblecore to the editor of an indie streaming site and was surprised when he received a rejection because the term was considered “offensive to directors.” In 2007, director Joe Swanberg spoke with The New York Times and said that he disapproved of the term’s reductive quality, which popularized the notion that all the associated filmmakers were the same. “It was an obnoxious name nobody liked and it was meant to be a joke,” said Swanberg, who was at the festival that year with his first feature, “Kissing on the Mouth.” “But we haven’t been able to get rid of it.” As a product of independent filmmaking, low-budget production has played a distinct role in the characterization of the subgenre. And considering it’s more inexpensive for filmmakers to shoot on digital cameras than on film cameras, a digital aesthetic has also become tied to the movement. Katz’s film “Cold Weather” was shot with only a $100,000 budget and a RED Camera. His preceding films were made for even less.
Ooi recognizes the value of teaching mumblecore more widely in film classes. “[It] represents a lot of cinematic purity and is totally evocative of what can be done on a low budget,” Ooi said. This is an especially important sentiment for filmmakers who are just starting out. Mumblecore films serve as proof that filmmakers don’t always need a big studio budget to produce content that is substantial and impactful. Yet, despite its recognition by filmmakers and film lovers as a valuable type of filmmaking — regardless of the polarizing nature of the term itself, the content of mumblecore films aren’t without their fair share of criticism. Often dealing with people in their 20s and early 30s, mumblecore plots can come off as self-absorbed and the problems being overcome in the narratives sometimes appear trite. “Frances Ha” centers around a young woman finding a new apartment in New York City; “Tiny Furniture” centers around a post-graduate wondering (relatability not groundbreakingly) what to do with the next chapter of her life. Another point of contention is the lack of diversity since, for the most part, mumblecore films have centered around the problems of a specific and narrow group of people. Of the group of films screened at SXSW in 2005 and labeled as mumblecore — “Mutual Appreciation,” “The Puffy Chair” and “Kissing On The Mouth” — all the films featured white protagonists and predominately white casts. In 2007, Dennis Lim of The New York Times wrote that mumblecore films are “hardly models of diversity” and that the narratives “are set in mostly white, straight, middle-class worlds, and while female characters are often well drawn, the directors are overwhelmingly male.” Still, through the use of hyper-realistic storytelling techniques such as improv and unobtrusive camera direction, mumblecore films still manage to cultivate a sense of relatability. Like mirrors, they help reflect to audiences the worst and best parts of themselves, their lives and their relationships. “I really think they speak a lot on contemporary culture,” Ooi said. “They’re usually
full of dislikable characters, but only in that they are so honest — as if you and your entire friend group spoke without a filter but did not judge.” Like many great artists and artistic movements, it’s possible mumblecore won’t receive its fully deserved appreciation until long after the peak of its popularity. Still, if there’s anything to be learned from other movements, it’s that progress seldom stems from silence. If the genre is to survive, then it has to be part of a wider conversation, despite the shortcomings of the mumblecore label. To reflect the genre’s approach to honest and authentic storytelling, audiences must be able to openly reflect on what the genre provides and what it lacks. Small and impactful narratives didn’t start with mumblecore films, and if we do right, they won’t end with them either. Email Zuleyma Sanchez at email@example.com.
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Hollywood’s Newest Wildfire: #MeToo By BROOKE LAMANTIA Staff Writer
The #MeToo movement has been a highlight of this past season’s award shows and discussions ever since Harvey Weinstein was exposed by The New York Times last October.The founder of the movement,Tarana Burke, awoke to #MeToo trending on twitter without any idea of how it happened, according to an article in The Guardian. Harvey Weinstein sexually harrassed actress Ashley Judd in a hotel as early as 1997. A friend told Judd that his behavior was an open secret in Hollywood. Judd then went on record about Weinstein and tweeted #MeToo, which was when Tarana Burke saw it on her screen from home — a movement she had created over 10 years ago. #MeToo was and is an emblem for women expressing themselves over the pain of sexual assault and harassment.
Shortly after, Time Magazine released its “Person of the Year” edition in December 2017, except it wasn’t a single person but rather a compilation of women and men who were titled “The Silence Breakers” — including Judd, Burke and many other effected individuals. From Hollywood to rural America, the Time article detailed multiple stories of sexual harassment in the workplace and gave the #MeToo movement new traction in mainstream discussion. Shortly after, #MeToo and Time’s Up — a movement against sexual assault — quickly filled twitter feeds and left a deep mark on this season’s award shows. At the 75th Golden Globes, most actresses and actors wore black and activist walked the red carpet beside them, including Burke. While the awards shows were a great platform to bring sexual assault to light in the industry, we often only see part
of the picture with those public demonstrations. We as an audience see actresses speak up about sexual misconduct and the repercussions of these accounts coming to light — such as Scarlett Johansson calling out James Franco during this year’s Women’s March — but we often don’t think about the women behind the camera, the women like Burke and the farm workers from Time Magazine. WSN talked to executive members of Fusion Film Festival — an NYU-run festival showcasing all female-work — about what has been happening in Hollywood and how it relates to their own work. Like the #MeToo movement, Fusion Film Festival was started over 10 years ago by two students who were fed up with the way they, in addition to producers, directors, writers and all the behind the scene workers, had been treated in the film industry. Tisch Film & TV junior Priya Khanol-
kar mentioned how she’s in a predominantly male directing class, and she feels the effects of the gender disparity. “Sometimes my classmates want to tell me how to do something very specifically even if it’s not the best way to do it,” Khanolkar said. “They don’t trust my knowledge about lighting and camera work because that has generally been a male-dominated profession in the past.” #MeToo wasn’t created specifically for the film industry, and for actors exclusively, but that has become its connotation. This issue is one that will continue to serve as a barrier for the women who experience sexual misconduct behind the camera and the ones who won’t get a chance to speak up about it on an awards show. Professor Sandra Sandler discussed the gender gap in the past Oscars, citing the fact that only five percent of the nominees were women. In the midst of this move-
ment, gender and racial discrimination still hold women, specifically women of color, back. That’s why festivals like Fusion are so important. They provide an outlet for women to showcase their work without the limits that patriarchal Hollywood normally places on the work, whether it be on an actress, director or producer. Though there is a while to go until the sexual assault cases and gender restrictions that plague Hollywood cease, movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up certainly indicate progress. “This is truly a great time for this movement,” Khanolkar said. “It should’ve happened earlier, but the way it’s spreading now is like wildfire.” And we all know wildfire is hard to contain. Email Brooke LaMantia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diversity: Hollywood’s Two-Way Street By GURU RAMANATHAN Staff Writer
The 90th Academy Awards was meant to be an extraordinary event for various reasons. This year’s ceremony was a milestone for Hollywood, with its unpredictable Best Picture
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race and notably diverse nominees. Film in 2017 seemed to represent the gradual shift in America’s culture amid the tumultuous period it is currently in. Rachel Morrison (“Mudbound”) made headlines as the first woman to ever be nominated for cinematography; Dee Rees (“Mudbound”) was the first African-American woman to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Jordan
Peele (“Get Out”) was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and ultimately became the first black person to win. Although the acting winners were all white, a bevy of black actors were spread out across acting categories. The steps the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has taken to diversify its membership and its nominees are critical in a country that is dealing with a divisive political climate. It’s membership has seen a vast change in its racial and gender makeup in the past few years, as seen with the rise of #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo. While the 90th Academy Awards finally sported a few important firsts, the body is far from being as diverse and groundbreaking as it should to be in the modern age of cinema. Following the nominations for the 87th Academy Awards, activist April Reign started the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite in response to an all-white slate of acting nominees and the lack of attention to civil rights drama “Selma” –– the only 2015 Best Picture nominee to have a black lead and female director. Reign’s campaign continued with momentum during the following year’s ceremony, where another all-white list brought her hashtag back and caused a serious uproar for change within the Academy. The Academy reacted promptly, resulting i n
an “ambitious membership overhaul to diversify the voting body by race, gender, geography, and age,” according to an article in the New Yorker. The Academy is continuing to diversify its voting body –– made up of around seven to eight thousand industry professionals –– and as seen in the most recent Oscars, some positive results are already showing. But the Oscars only make up a fraction of the problem. At the end of the day, it is the ultimate celebration of the best that film has to offer each year –– it’s improbable that the Academy will start nominating minorities only for the sake of nominating them. Additionally he implications of doing so would discredit the merit of the performers and the award itself. The real change needs to come from within the heart of Hollywood itself — a type of systematic change that Reign is seeking. In an interview with CNN the day after the 90th Academy Awards, Reign gave her thoughts on whose responsibility it should be to ensure equal representation on the screen. “The Academy can only nominate films that are made,” Reign said. “So it really depends on Hollywood filmmakers and those who have the ability to green-light films to step out of their comfort zone and allow more people from marginalized communities to tell their stories.” For the film industry to really progress in terms of diversity and racial equality, where all communities are represented, change must start in the studios, not with the nominations. Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther” is evidence of this fact. It is the first black superhero film of the modern comic book
era and has become the fifth highest grossing domestic release of all time, topping both “Avengers” films in North America. “But ‘Black Panther’s’ impact goes beyond the bottom line — it’s also beloved by critics and cinematic proof that a black director with an all-black, gender-balanced cast can captivate audiences,” Wired writer Jason Parham said. “It’s a triumph that tests a complex thesis: that major studios will now entrust directors of color with mega-budgeted, franchise-worthy films.” When the screen finally celebrates and embraces a community, it is obvious that audiences of all races will come out in droves to support the film. When more diverse films are being made, only then can awards shows also become more diverse. It is not just about filling a quota, but continuously changing the landscape of the industry itself. The same can be said for Reign’s “Oscars So White” campaign. Due to the activist’s efforts, the campaign has “since become ground zero for conversations around cultural inclusion as they relate to so-called creative institutions.” Art is often seen as a direct reflection of our culture. But it is a two-way relationship: our culture reinforces popular images, moments and figures seen in art. #OscarsSoWhite presents a wake-up call for studios, not just the Academy, to broaden their views of who and what makes up Hollywood and the need for more people of color to be in front of and behind the camera, sharing their stories and perspectives with the rest of the world. Email Guru Ramanathan at email@example.com.
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Cinéma Vérité vs. Direct Cinema: By AMELIA REARDON Staff Writer
Documentaries give us a glimpse into the world around us, but there is more to this art form than simply capturing the present. In the early days of film, it wasn’t the the big-budget, fictional movies that drew audiences to the theater but rather mundane films showing a train pulling into a station or a group of workers leaving the factory after a long day. Eadweard Muybridge shot the first documentary, as he took sequential shots of moving horses and projected them one by one quickly and in order. Before films reached into fictional galaxies and accomplished feats in terms of visual aesthetics, they simply told a short story of an event, shot as it was happening. In a sense, the documentary preceded mainstream cinema. In regards to the first major movement in documentary making –– Cinéma vérité –– saw documentation was not the focus. According to the New York Film Academy, the focus was “an awareness of the camera that is filming the scene, thus establishing a connection between the cameraman/filmmaker and those who are being filmed.” Cinéma vérité can furthermore “involve stylized and staged set-ups and the degree of intervention is greater than in direct cinema, with the filmmaker’s subjective involvement evoking provocation.” This interaction has lead many to question the authenticity of the subject matter that Cinéma vérité captures and if the genre should be associated more with directed movies than with documentaries. Defenders of the movement say that the real truth is hard, if not impossible to capture. Famous Cinéma vérité filmmaker Dan Kraus once
wrote, “No documentary can ever show you the truth, because there are multiple truths, but vérité can at least relay the truth as seen by a single observer.” Tisch sophomore Jaylyn Quinn Glasper also questions the capacity of any piece to truly be unbiased. “I think that filmmakers, and people in general, are too confident in their ability to be objective,” Glasper told WSN. “I feel that people do definitely bend the definition of documentary sometimes and manipulate things too much. And vérité is used stylistically as straight up fiction, but I like that Cinéma vérité is more upfront about its influence on the subjects.” As the documentary movement reached the United States, the value of the camera as a character in the story diminished. This new take on documentary, developed mainly by Albert and David Maysles, became
encing the subjects in ways that we may not realize.” NYU provides its own class in documentary, titled Sight & Sound Documentary, as part of its Film & TV program. “I don’t feel we learn towards a specific type of documentary,” Glasper, a student in the class said. “I think it’s more about learning many different techniques and using the best for the project or subject. One of the assignments is to do an observational documentary with little to no interaction by the director and no interviews, but I don’t think we lean towards Direct or vérité ... I think it’s really more learning which is more appropriate and also developing personal style.” While critics and film buffs may debate between the validity of the two or pit one against another, students like Glasper believe that a balance of the two is more beneficial
I think that filmmakers, and people in general, are too confident in their ability to be objective.” JAYLYN QUINN GLASPER known as Direct Cinema. The two wrote that “the documentarian was an objective observer, a completely invisible passivist as opposed to a director or participant –– a noteworthy sentiment that sets the genre apart from Cinéma vérité.” With Direct Cinéma, the main goal is to capture the subject without any interference, as many followers of the movement consider interaction to be erasure of the truth. This can seem impossible to many though. Glasper further said, “Even in direct cinema the presence of the filmmaker and of the camera is influ-
than strictly sticking to one. “I feel like it depends on the documentary,” Glasper said. “It’s fascinating to see how people behave with outsider presence but not outside interaction. However I really like seeing a directors relationship with the subject grow and change over the course of filming. I also like personal documentaries where people make them about themselves and loved ones and seeing that interaction is really rewarding as well.” Email Amelia Reardon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Fall of Queer Cinema By MATTHEW HOLMAN Entertainment Editor
“Love, Simon” is not a piece of queer cinema. Well, it’s not the best representation of one. The young-adult romantic comedy from 20th Century Fox is churning social cinematic waters, being the first film released by a major studio to feature a gay protagonist. Such a seemingly bold –– albeit surprisingly delayed –– piece of LGBTQ representation for mainstream moviegoers is being paraded with laudations. But when sitting down and witnessing the film unfold before one’s own eyes, audience members come to the stark realization that, while its core indeed deals with queer subject matter, “Love, Simon” is quite a normative film, one on a ostensible streamline of normative queer cinema. Normativity is the antithesis of queer cinema. Pioneered by eccentric visionaries such as John Waters or Pedro Almodovar, the hallmarks of queer cinema are not necessarily that the film dabbles in LGBTQ material, but rather it’s content be so outside the regularities of so-called normalcy it can exist as staunchly queer; just because a film contains LGBTQ subject matter does not inherently make it a queer film. But a key hallmark from queer cinema scions is imbued in “Love, Simon:” the gay male gaze, in which the directors of queer films are queer individuals themselves.This
puts “Love, Simon’s”director Greg Berlanti in the same sociological grouping as directors like Almodovar and Waters. However, the film’s content showcases anti-normativity for naught: despite the character of Simon continually polarizing himself as starkly different from his peers, the film’s universe is wholly in the realm of normalcy. Even outside the narrative, normalcy reigns: there aren’t shots sexualizing the male body or perpetuating any sort of visuals that exist outside the norm.The entire film visually and narratively comes across as especially plain, almost as if Berlanti subjugates queer ideology to direct a film that looks just like something normal. This is something the film admits in the first few minutes, with Simon proclaiming he’s “just like you,” despite, you know, the gay thing. It is so absorbed into the normalcy the queerness is dead: anyone can indulge with this story. This accessibility has seemingly become systematic for other films utilizing the queer male gaze. The 2017 Oscar-winning film “Call Me By Your Name” is directed by Luca Guadagnino, who himself is also a gay man. The luscious romance between two young men is portrayed through more erotic imagery than “Love, Simon.” However, the circumstances in which this romance unfolds are objectively quite idyllic: the characters are affluent, intellectual and white and wasting their days basking in the glow of the Italian countryside.
For how gorgeous the film comes across, it still doesn’t adhere to any queer elements and reads as yet another easily embraceable story with queer elements. The mainstream propagation of these normative LGBTQ films is potentially harmful for the community at large, as it gentrifies the queerness on display. The aforementioned “just like you” mantra of “Love, Simon” is problematic — if not downright insulting. As delineated in a recent article in The New York Times, Simon has the exterior of a totally normalized, masculine gay –– amplified by straight actor Nick Robinson –– with the film not portraying other types of gay men in a light that isn’t comedic relief. For such a groundbreaking portrayal of a gay romance on a public platform, the mainstream queer film arguably utilizes the most heteronormative queer characters imaginable to be its mouthpiece; they don’t represent a broader spectrum of queer personalities. GLS sophomore Ryan Tang expressed his qualms with the film. “I enjoyed it,” Tang told WSN. “But it was also tiring to see another idealized coming out story involving people that look nothing like me for the sake of a cute Hollywood ending.” But even if the representation is more skewed to appeal to a broader audience, perhaps the fact such queer presentation exists at all is a step in a positive direction. A recent article in Quartzy discusses
how these LGBTQ-centric films not only perpetuate queer storylines but promote positive narratives for members of the community. In comparison to previous phenomenons such as “Brokeback Mountain” and “Angels in America,” the stories being told promote a more positive energy for the community, along with the aforementioned widespread notoriety. This is possibly reflective of the growth in our culture of LGBTQ acceptance in recent years, with the love and acceptance only continuing to grow, if only evidenced by the movies. Ideally, mainstream film will better represent the array of personalities that embellish the LGBTQ community and adhere to the roots of queer cinema. But for now, it’s a start, and one cannot help but think of the positivity this might be perpetuating across the country right now. Even if it’s not entirely “queer cinema,” I can’t say that if I were still a starry-eyed, burgeoning gay teen back in the discomfort of generally non-accepting Oklahoma, “Love, Simon” wouldn’t have been a shining beacon to look up to. If it’s not queer cinema, it’s at least part of a movement of affirmative queer films. “I left the theater feeling really happy,” Tang said, and perhaps for now, that’s all that matters.
Email Matthew Holman at email@example.com.
The Rise of Queer Cinema By ALEX CULLINA Staff Writer
“Queer is hot.” Critic and scholar B. Ruby Rich asserted this in her 1992 article, “New Queer Cinema,” printed in the Village Voice. She described the wave of films depicting gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people that had hit the festival circuit in the previous year. But many of these films had more in common than just being about queer people. These films were political, they were independently produced — an extension of the long tradition of “outsider” film — and they were critically acclaimed. They were radically unapologetic in representing queer people as nuanced, complicated beings. They were made by self-identified queer artists. And they reveled in the queerness of their characters. Rich coined the term “New Queer Cinema” to describe this new trend. The 1991 and 1992 Sundance Film Festivals screened films that were part of this vanguard of queer cinema, including Todd Haynes’ “Poison,” Gregg Araki’s “The Living End,” Christopher Munch’s “The Hours and Times” and Tom Kalin’s “Swoon.” Other films that Rich discussed included Jennie Livingston’s “Paris Is Burning” and Gus Van Sant’s “My Own Private Idaho.” In the last few years, it appears that there has been an increase in the number of films both by and about queer people. However, Madeleine Olnek, a lesbian filmmaker, doesn’t necessarily think this is the case. “Sometimes it’s not necessarily what’s being made, but what is our awareness of what’s being made,” she told WSN. Many of these recent films have been critically acclaimed. “Moonlight” received a historic Academy Award for best picture
in 2017, and this year, “Call Me By Your Name” received four nominations and one win for best adapted screenplay. But where the New Queer Cinema was unapologetic, anti-assimilationist and radical, today’s queer film is increasingly neutered. Greg Berlanti’s “Love, Simon,” which opened last month, is the first major studio movie about a queer teen. It follows an average gay teenager and his low-stakes coming out and searching for love. Its tagline, “Everyone deserves a great love story,” and the accompanying marketing campaign is designed to be broadly appealing. Over the last decade, the LGBTQ community has had many feats including the LGBTQ rights movement becoming fully mainstream, marriage equality in the United States and increasingly visible and active queer rights movements around the world. The way most Americans think about queer people has changed significantly. What it was like to be queer in 1992 was drastically different than what it’s like today in 2018. “Now that same-sex loving people have been normalized in the U.S. via the marriage equality movement, the popular culture market is willing to produce queer themed entertainment products,” LS Clinical Professor Christopher Packard told WSN. In 1992, the AIDS epidemic was still in full force, and the first effective treatment against HIV/AIDS was still three years away. The post-Stonewall era had come to a screeching halt in the mid-80s, with queer people once again being vilified in the media. To be queer was to be different. The crisis compounded the urgency for queer artists and filmmakers to tell queer stories. “‘No, no, no, I need to make my movie right away,’” Olnek said. “The politics of queer film at that time were radical because
that’s what the time required.” Reflecting the way that the modern LGBTQ rights movement has evolved, from radical to more assimilationist, queer film today is different. Many films are depoliticized, or about characters that “just happen to be gay.”
starting to get more attention. More and more straight filmmakers are making great queer movies, such as the director of “Tangerine,” Sean Baker. The landscape of queer film has changed greatly since Rich wrote her seminal piece. But the vast majority of films by
Now that same-sex loving people have been normalized in the U.S. via the marriage equality movement, the popular culture market is willing to produce queer themed entertainment products.” CHRISTOPHER PACKARD “The queer films from the 1990s appeared during some very dark times, when the AIDS crisis made queer sex risky, and the homophobes took advantage of the fear,” Packard said. “The queer films from the ’90s didn’t apologize for anything and that’s what made them satisfying to watch.” But there are still many queer filmmakers working today that work in the vein of the New Queer Cinema,producing daring, experimental and richly queer films. The French Canadian director Xavier Dolan (“I Killed My Mother”) and the American directors Stephen Cone (“Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party”) and Desiree Akhavan (“Appropriate Behavior”) are notable examples. Films that fit this mold from overseas, like Argentina’s “A Fantastic Woman” –– winner of this year’s Academy Award for best foreign language film — and France’s “Stranger By the Lake,” are
and about queer people are still small, independent productions with limited releases. While there are more films by and about queer women and queer people of color, the majority are still by and about queer white men. “Unfortunately, the nonconforming [queer people] from all the rainbow of communities in the U.S. are not adequately represented, not to mention the issues faced by queer people outside of the U.S. and Europe,” Packard said. Queer film today is in a very different place than it was in 1992, just as queer America is today. As queerness and queer film approach the mainstream, both have and will continue to change. What this means for queer Americans is up to them. Email Alex Cullina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Goodbye Blaxploitation, Hello LA Rebellion By JESSICA XING Staff Writer
In 2007, University of California, Los Angeles Film and Television Archive Director Jan-Christopher Horak received a grant from the Getty Foundation to restore and preserve the films made by a group of
damaged, like thesis works stored under beds or thrown out on the streets. The black filmmakers and their radical work at the time were largely forgotten by UCLA professorship until today. They are now known as the LA Rebellion. Horak and the LA Rebellion initiative started the project believing the California
There’s this misconception that black cinema did not exist or did not really start until the late ’80s, with Spike Lee, when really there was this whole generation of West Coast filmmakers making films since the ’70s.” JAN-CHRISTOPHER HORAK black UCLA film students between the 1960s and 1980s. Horak recounts the difficulty of even identifying many of the filmmakers, for many films were severely
film movement involved around eight or 10 filmmakers. After years of restoration work, the team realized they were looking at a movement of over 50 filmmakers,
with over 100 film titles. The LA Rebellion was founded in the midst of heavy racial turmoil. In the wake of the Watts Riots and the 1969 shoot-out on UCLA’s campus, the first group of black filmmakers to graduate from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television created a number of films combating the traditional black narratives seen in media. Their goal was to tell authentic stories that did not rely on Hollywood stereotypes or on the Blaxploitation genre. Many instead found inspiration in developing world, postwar cinema from Latin America and Africa, like Charles Burnett’s “Killer of Sheep,” Jamaa Fanaka’s “Penitentiary” and Julie Dash’s “Daughters of Dust.” “There’s this misconception that black cinema did not exist or did not really start until the late ’80s, with Spike Lee, when really there was this whole generation of West Coast filmmakers making films since the ’70s,” Horak said. “Young filmmakers need to see this work and especially filmmakers of color need to see they are not the first generation, that there is a tradition of filmmaking, and it goes back
almost 50 years.” Tisch graduate Jessica-Brittany Smith relates to the sentiments behind the LA Rebellion, and her understanding of the movement affects how she understands acting. According to Smith, acting is an expression of compassion, and the LA Rebellion is black filmmakers acting in compassion toward people with similar experiences. Common narratives found in black cinema include incarceration, police brutality and slavery. While Smith believes these topics are important because they disproportionately affect black people, in order to move forward, it is necessary to see more from Hollywood. While many movies focusing on the black experience have found great success in mainstream cinema, Smith believes too many black films need to be validated by white audiences to succeed. “It’s really important that the craft is there and the money is given,” Smith said. “l think it is about where we put our money in an industry. Investing money into black art is about seeing more and seeing more for a very long time.” Tisch sophomore Jacarrea Garraway
applied to film school to prevent this. To Garraway, three-dimensional black characters need to be created in film so minorities can further integrate themselves into an industry that traditionally ignores or even rejects minority narratives. “I try not to think about the audience when I make film, but it’s hard not to,” Garraway said. “I grew up in a household where it will be a black audience in my mind. I know especially for me there is this pressure to support and uplift the black community in film. It is always about me trying my best to promote not just positive but realistic images — it can’t just be for Hollywood or for dramatic effect.” Like the film students from the LA Rebellion, Garraway and so many other emerging filmmakers see the future of film –– independent and experimental films –– as a more effective and accessible way to express authentic stories about the black community. And bearing the critical and commercial success of films like “Moonlight” and “Black Panther” in mind, we cannot blame them. Email Jessica Xing at email@example.com.
A Renaissance in Independent Filmmaking By NATALIE WHALEN Film Editor
Your favorite movie from the past five years almost wasn’t made. Luckily, it was, thanks to the growing independent studios that put it in theaters. It is likely that some of your most critical film viewings have occurred from the comfort of your own home. With the advent of the home video market, movie lovers and casual viewers alike began either buying or renting VHS tapes and DVDs to watch anything from old favorites to classic cinema standards. From then to now, the market has evolved –– as cable-provided Video On Demand libraries grew and streaming services emerged, it became easier than ever to watch nearly any film without leaving your couch. However, this shift in the viewing experience has caused the industry to suffer. In recent years, the mid-budget film has become less and less financially viable. Even Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” came this close to becoming an HBO release due to its $65 million budget. Less people are going to the movies. Unless it’s an over $200 million blockbuster –– likely mammoth a part of a huge franchise or a Twilight sequel –– it doesn’t make sense to distribute in the-
aters, where ticket prices are ever-increasing in an attempt to mediate costs. Thus, the rise of independent cinema began. However, it is not a new phenomenon. In fact, this movement has existed since the invention of motion pictures, but officially became a cinematic institution in the ’80s and ’90s with the emergence of festivals like the Sundance Film Festival and the mainstream success of indie studios like Miramax. But as the market has evolved from studio-dictated viewing experiences at the theater to accommodate more niche audiences through home viewing, low-budget –– $2 million or lower –– handmade films have become the more financially viable options for streaming services and studio distributors alike. That is, until recent years, when new school studios like A24 (“Lady Bird” and “Moonlight”), Annapurna (“Phantom Thread,” “American Hustle” and “Her”) and Neon (“I, Tonya” and “Gemini”) started changing the game. Of course, A24’s first Academy Award for best picture win in 2017, “Moonlight,” only had a $1.5 million budget. But this success has only situated them within the industry to take on mid-budget projects like the $15 million “Ex Machina” and the $10 million
Courtesy of University of California Press
“Lady Bird,” which won a host of awards including best picture comedy at the 2018 Golden Globes. The Blumhouse-backed success story “Get Out,” which won Jordan Peele a best original screenplay Academy Award, cost $4.5 million to make — technically making it a mid-budget film. A24, in particular, has become the new Miramax for an upcoming generation of film fans. The company’s Twitter has over a million followers, more than twice as many as masterpiece Oscar-winning studios Focus Features and Fox Searchlight. Social media is quite integral to the approach of new independent studios like A24 and Neon. A24 pioneered this guerilla marketing approach with its campaign for Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” back in 2013, where advertisements featured bikini-clad Disney stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens. This approach proved successful, ultimately driving hoards of teens to see a distinctly Korine art house film that would likely have drawn less attention and success with an alternate marketing scheme.This upset some viewers, but that didn’t seem to bother those
behind the project. “It became clear when I spoke to the company’s employees, [that they] saw ‘Spring Breakers’ as a Trojan horse for progressive cinema,” David Ehrlich wrote in a profile of the company for Slate Magazine. “The company less concerned about the nine kids who found the film too weird than they were the one kid who went home and rented Gummo.”The choice to distribute in theaters was a risk, but it’s one that paid off, grossing over $30 million at the box office, six times that of the $5 million budget. And perhaps NYU is the perfect incubator for independent studio fans. Bo Burnham, director of the July-slated A24 flick “Eighth Grade,” opened the second episode of A24’s new podcast greeting the 12 Gallatin students he joked to likely be the only people listening. Even though A24’s films vary from middle school dramedy “Eighth Grade” to Ari Aster’s supernatural horror “Hereditary,” there is a certain aestheticism
and cool-factor to the films that is both superimposed by their streamlined yet inventive marketing strategy that keeps its millennial and Generation Z fanbases coming back to the theater. Neon shares this mentality, often featuring its namesake neon hues in its advertisements for films like their most recent release “Gemini”and last summer’s “Ingrid Goes West.” Of course, indie films are and always have been a staple of video on demand, and for low-budget films, this is an excellent opportunity for exposure. But the mid-budget film, most financially viable through theatrical release, is getting a second life through independent studios. And it’s through their revolutionary, social-media based marketing strategies that this is even possible.
Email Natalie Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Courtesy of A24
The Immortal (Musical) Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement By JOEL LEE Staff Writer
The deliberate inclusion of Gil Scott-Heron’s black protest song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” in the “Black Panther” cinematic trailer could not have been more obvious and appreciated. In the context of the film and our current reprise of social conversations on race in the United States, the song embraces the legacy of protest and the civil rights movement that came before, and the song’s title directly alludes to a slogan used during the 1960s Black Power movement. Current artists engaging in protest and socially conscious music do so by building upon the legacies of those pioneering artists before them like Gil Scott-Heron, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke and other musicians who transformed people’s experiences into powerful rallies for justice. “The name of this tune is ‘Mississippi Goddam.’ And I mean every word of it,” Simone says as the eponymous song begins. Simone fueled the lyrics of “Mississippi Goddam” with anger as a response to the assassination of Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers and the 16th Street Birmingham Church bombing that killed four young black girls in 1963. After trying to arm herself with a gun, Simone instead wrote the song to unabashedly speak of the injustices made. She debuted the song at Carnegie Hall to a majority white audience before radio stations nationwide banned it, but the song became a unifying civil rights piece for the black community. Simone refuses to hold her tongue as she vividly describes the plight of African-Americans and white American’s, specifically
the South’s, which often turns a blind eye to injustice. “Don’t tell me, I’ll tell you,” Simone sings. “Me and my people are just about due. I’ve been there so I know. They keep on saying, ‘Go slow!’” Gallatin Professor of African-American culture, Michael Dinwiddie, explained how Simone was in a unique position to speak out. “She as an African-American woman could speak out in ways that African American men could not,” Dinwiddie said. “They wouldn’t endanger their lives, and it was a very tense moment because part of the narrative was the peacefulness of the movement.” “And so to come out with a song that such strong language is used and which there was a condemnation of racial hatred really was a powerful statement,” Dinwiddie said. “It was powerful on her part because it did impact her career, but it did have a psychological effect on helping people who were interested in racial justice articulating and understanding their rage.” Long before Simone, “This Little Light of Mine” lit the way for protest anthems. The song showcases the integral connections within the black community, religion and protest. First written by Christian hymn writer Harry Dixon Loes, Zilphia Horton adapted the spiritual into a civil rights hymn. The song was a staple for black churches and marches as it provided not only comfort but also personal responsibility to the cause. Bernice Johnson-Reagon –– a song leader, composer and civil rights activist –– furthered this idea in an interview with journalist, political commentator and later the former White House Press Secretary Bill Moyers.
“A lot of times I’ve found when people say ‘we’ they’re giving you a cover to not say whether they’re going to be there or not. So the ‘I’ songs are very important,” Johnson-Reagon told Moyers. “So ‘This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine’ means that when the march goes, I am going to be there. So it really is a way of saying ‘The life that I have, I will offer to this thing.’” Johnson-Reagon explained that the song takes on a form of unapologetic confidence, encouraging black people to embrace visibility, which brings broader support for action. One of the most canonical songs of the civil rights movement was Pete Seeger’s “We Shall Overcome.” Cordell Reagon, Johnson-Reagon’s husband at the time, convinced Johnson-Reagon to change the title to “We Shall Overcome” from its original “I” –– hoping to note the coalition between blacks and whites. Union workers used the song during protests in the 1940s, and made its way Tennessee’s Highlander Folk Center –– a hub for racial equality activism –– to the ears of Carawan, where it took civil rights form. William G. Roy, a sociologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, explains the song’s multivocal message in his book, “Reds, Whites, and Blues: Social Movements, Folk Music, and Race in the United States.” “The obstacle of ‘overcoming’ is like a Rorschach inkblot test,” Roy writes. “[It is] an image that the viewer can see for him or herself –– segregation, racism, capitalism, hate, or the white race. Who can be against ‘overcoming’?” Leaders like former President Lyndon B. Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr. adopted Johnson-Reagon’s song title and message for their speeches. When
Johnson recognized the struggle for black voting rights, he ended his television address with “and we shall overcome.” The use of the phrase became a symbol of the cause and still holds its power today as one of the most iconic songs of the Civil Rights Movement. Released in 1970, Gil Scott-Heron’s poem and song, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” scorches Nixon’s administration, mass commercialism and war. The title plays many roles in its bold statement. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” implies that black people will not be watching the revolution from the comfort of their homes, but rather leading it in the streets. They
Shall Overcome’ were doing what Julie Lester said, ‘in those days, you had to put your body in the struggle,’” Dinwiddie said. “And going to see a film in which positive images of African people are depicted is simply an act of consumerism. So there’s nothing revolutionary about seeing a film. It’s what you do after.’” In its irony, the song’s appearance in “Black Panther” reflects today’s embrace of media to empower black voices, although disproportionate representation in news coverage still exists today. Rather than reflecting Heron’s ideals of revolution, “Black Panther” adds to the cultural conversation about race and representation in America. What’s important to recognize about
[Nina Simone] as an African-American woman could speak out in ways that African American men could not. ” MICHAEL DINWIDDIE must reject what corporate media and the government relies on –– their feeding into commercialism and the news. Scott-Heron’s anthem of anti-commercial sentiments and revolution sit uncomfortably within the “Black Panther” trailer. Even though “Black Panther” is a huge step in black representation and box office numbers that show that narratives of people of color are profitable, the song’s message goes against traditional media and its profit-seeking values. Dinwiddie elaborates on what can be considered revolutionary. “The people who walked and sang ‘We
the Civil Rights Movement is that the movement was comprised of a diversity of ideologies and methods. Simone’s condemnation of racial hatred in “Mississippi Goddam” highly contrasts “We Shall Overcome’s” message of community and optimism. Although the songs have divergent intentions, they both contribute to validating experiences and achieving the goals of the movement. The songs must be seen as pieces to a greater struggle for racial equality. Email Joel Lee at email@example.com.
Vaporwave: Songs for the Disaffected By HAILEY NUTHALS Editor-at-Large
When you grow jaded with bubblegum pop in an era of daily human rights abuses across the globe, when you grow angry with the consumption-driven theme of sex and fame, when you become sardonic at the punk rockers selling out 30,000-seat amphitheaters, what music do you listen to? Father John Misty, if you like smoking cigarettes and hearing something that sounds like David Foster Wallace if DFW was an incredibly talented performer. If you’re too bitter for the hipsters, though — if their disillusionment still sounds like it’s played in a major key — vaporwave is the music for you. This wave in music was born roughly around 2010 with the release of Daniel Lopatin’s album “Ecco Jams Vol. 1” under the pseudonym “Chuck Person.” The genre has a distinctive uncomfortable sound, eschewing traditional harmonic theory and purposely editing samples of rhythm and blues or Muzak tracks from the ’80s and ’90s until they’re muddied,
pitchy and barely recognizable. One of the most iconic tracks of the genre is Macintosh Plus’ 現代のコンピュ,” / “リサフランク420 which is effectively a slowed-down, chopped-and-screwed version of Diana Ross’ iconic “It’s Your Move.”The samples are overlaid with the sounds from PlaySta-
Vaporwave revels in its lack of consumer appeal because at its heart, it is an openly anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist movement. Manifesting both as a musical genre and a visual style, it has proliferated around the globe. Creators shroud themselves in anonymity, preferring the global identity of the alienated masses rather than the neo-
Creators shroud themselves in anonymity, preferring the global identity of the alienated masses rather than the neoliberal, self-motivated fame machines that are celebrities. tion boot up tones, iconic Microsoft update noises and other chimes from video games and computer tech. Choruses are looped into endless oblivion.
liberal, self-motivated fame machines that are celebrities. “Vaporwave” as a term is a combination of “vaporware,” technology that is mar-
keted to consumers but never officially released, and a Marxist term describing ideas without backing that are repeated in perpetuity, as if saying them more makes them stronger, described as waves of vapor. As Karl Marx himself would argue, anti-capitalist sentiment is a global phenomenon, accessible to any member of the proletariat with enough class consciousness to recognize their own despair. Vaporwave is the soundtrack for the alienated, the malcontent. Even Vaporwave’s visuals mock a capitalist culture; Saint Pepsi, who now goes by Skylar Spence, one of the more popular artists in the movement, has an artist name poking fun at brand worship and videos filled with low-resolution commercials from the ’90s, women in bathing suits and large sunglasses sipping soda through bright straws. Frequently, graphics of shopping malls, Roman busts, tropical landscapes or East Asian landscapes are crudely pasted together, the more pixelated, the better. Album art looks like graphics designer for Microsoft from 1989 collectively threw their raw images onto a Lisa Frank
coloring page. Though Vaporwave has not instilled any direct action or organization around its dissonant jadedness, it has found a large global community online of listeners who rally around its sound. In an interview, Gallatin junior Emily Fong said that she likes the music for its curious origins and ironic parallels to the student body. “Vaporwave is a fascinating genre because it started out from such a familiar NYU vantage point — avant garde upper middle class kids with free time and word of mouth knowledge of The Communist Manifesto,” Fong said. Perhaps the next steps forward for vaporwave are that of organizing the exploited masses into a more revolutionary genre. Working title for this new movement — Commu-tunes. Disclaimer: Emily Fong is the former Opinion editor of Washington Square News. Email Hailey Nuthals firstname.lastname@example.org.
Screenshot via YouTube.com
Music Industry Finally Says #MeToo By NICOLE ROSENTHAL Staff Writer
Hollywood is very much touched by the #MeToo movement. In the wake of the 2018 Grammy Awards, the music industry has finally begun to shed light on its similarly troublesome past. After months of anticipating a catalyst to start the conversation about sexual assault and abuse in the music industry, a caucus of female music executives called for the president of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, to step down after making pointed comments about women at the awards and telling reporters that women must step up to advance their careers. In response, the Recording Academy announced that it was establishing an independent task force to examine the institution and “overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community.” This comment came only days after the release of a study conducted by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism on female inclusion in the recording industry, which illustrated that, over the past six years, an average of only 12.3 percent of songwriters were female,
while only 9.3 percent of Grammy nominees from 2013 to 2018 were female. From its conception, the music world has systematically encouraged the sexualization of women –– a concept further championed by the act of artist competition. In an industry that thrived on the fantastical notion of the slogan “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” for so long, sexual assault not only ran rampant but was a manifestation of these ideals. Industry whistleblower Bob Lefsetz has recently been calling out members of the music establishment with his newsletter. His stories recount the tales of women who were encouraged to dress provocatively and then endured unwelcome touching, were subject to emotional and verbal abuse, and were told that sleeping with superiors was part of the job and necessary for advancement. When reporting these accounts to human resources, these women were either ignored or dismissed as overreacting. Several were forever blacklisted from the industry for stirring up trouble. “The #MeToo movement reaches all areas of music, as it reaches all areas of our society,” Marilyn C. Nonken, the director of Piano Studies at Steinhardt told WSN. “Sexism, misogyny and abuse of power are
not genre-specific or unique to any one field. Great talents –– James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera is just one example –– are often permitted tremendous leeway in their personal behavior.” While the Grammys opened up the floodgate for discussion, allegations against dozens of top names in music have been well underway, from independent artists to industry executives. Over a dozen women are calling out Def Jam Recordings founder Russell Simmons for sexual assault, with accusations spanning decades against the so-called “Grandfather of Hip-Hop.” Republic Records President Charlie Walk is being investigated while the head of Epic Records L.A. Reid was forced to step down. Jon Heely, the director of Music Publishing at Disney, was charged with sexual abuse of minors. It was also discovered that Berklee College of Music –– the alma mater of many superstars, like John Mayer and Steven Tyler –– has recently fired 11 faculty members for sexual assault over the past 13 years. The issue even made its way to NYU when this past semester, Steinhardt Adjunct Professor Bradley Garner, who is also a world renowned flutist, was fired from the university for allegations of sexual mis-
conduct which surfaced from his former position at the University of Cincinnati. Yet, while industry officials can step down or take a leave of absence, musicians alleged of sexual assault or abuse still leave their art behind. Just as film buffs are left questioning whether or not Weinstein-produced films like “Shakespeare in Love” can be stomached, fans of artists such as Crystal Castles, Brand New and R. Kelly are left questioning whether or not it is ethical to keep these artists on their playlist. After Buzzfeed published yet another investigation on R. Kelly, one in a string of allegations of misconduct throughout his career, public outcry led Live Nation to cancel his tour. However, he was not dropped by his label or publisher, and his catalog lives on Spotify, YouTube and other streaming platforms, slowly collecting money while the heat on him cools. “People will be so dedicated to the music [that], after a certain point, nothing can really change that,” CAS first-year Cat Garcia said. “If an artist is new to the scene or newly popular, it’s a lot easier for fans to abandon the music in support of victims and condemnation of the artist’s actions because there is less of an attach-
ment to the music.” Less than a week before the 2018 Grammy Awards, “a grassroots music industry analog to Hollywood’s anti-sexual harassment movement” sprung up, serving as a beacon of hope to those seeking change within the industry. Voices In Entertainment, formed by music executives Meg Harkins and Karen Rait, urged Grammy attendees to wear white roses to show support for “equal representation in the workplace, for leadership that reflects the diversity of our society, workplaces free of sexual harassment and a heightened awareness of accountability.” A-list names like Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar and P!nk donned white roses in solidarity. And, while displaying roses at ceremonies doesn’t serve as a clear-cut solution to stopping assault in the confines of the industry, awareness is being spread. For the first time, men and women are finally being encouraged to speak out, and only through communication may the toxicity of abuse finally be purged from the music community. Email Nicole Rosenthal at email@example.com.
Modern Music Gets Personal
By CONNOR GATESMAN Music Editor
Music has long been a way to not only express oneself. But more than that, it has been a mechanism to overcome struggle. For groups like Public Enemy, hip hop was a way to rebel against the institutionalized racism that surrounded them every day. For artists like Elliot Smith, music was a way to channel the emotional struggles ranging from romantic yearning to childhood abuse. Coping with adversity often results in some of the most unique and poignant music that the industry has to offer. Chance the Rapper exploded in popularity following his acclaimed “Acid Rap” mixtape, a drug addled project where Chance
reckons with addiction, the lost innocence of youth, street violence and a host of other topics. He dives into these themes in particular detail on his Obama-approved ballad, “Acid Rain.” “My big homie died young, just turned older than him,” Chance sings. “I seen it happen, I seen it happen, I see it always. He still be screaming, I see his demons in empty hallways.” Chance laments the loss of his friend, murdered in Lincoln park at 19-years-old, and the overall violence that plagues cities like Chicago. Music can be used to deal with grief in a way that can not isn’t just personal extremely but also extremely
relatable. The loss of a loved one is something that affects everyone. For some, music is one of the only ways to overcome the pain. Jesse Sgambati, a rapper known as Jesediah and a junior at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, went into further detail about how music can be used therapeutically in the wake of tragedy. “After my dad passed away, I wrote a song a day every day for two months,” Jesediah told WSN. “It was truly the only thing that got me through. I found it to be an escape from realities that prove overwhelming –– a world that I can control.” The accessibility and universality of music means that artists like Jesediah, Chance and countless others can channel their emotions in a way that can reach and comfort others. This is true now more than ever, with artists like SZA and Solange using music to empower generations in a way that’s as poignant as
it is exciting. In Solange’s song “Cranes in the Sky” from her acclaimed album “A Seat at the Table,” the artist uses music as a way to overcome racial prejudice. “Don’t touch my hair, when it’s the feelings I wear,” she deftly sings. “Don’t touch my soul, when it’s the rhythm I know.” Solange uses music as a way to confront the stigma not only surrounding black hairstyles but the black community as a whole. Her lyrics are empowered and confrontational. Music is her way of mobilizing a message of self-love and acceptance in a way that truly resonates. However, for some, music isn’t just an outlet to address adversity. It’s also a way to comfort the soul. Victoria Canal –– a first-year at NYU and subject of recent Mastercard TV commercial with SZA, sat down with WSN to explain her approach to the art form.
“If we’re talking truth here, adversity never played a role in the reason I chose to play music,” Canal said. “I sing because when I sing, nothing else exists — no hatred, no war, no sides, no self-inflicted pressure on time or status. A missing limb? That’s not really the reason I chose to dedicate my life to being an artist.” Regardless of one’s reasons for creating music, it remains a powerful medium for expression and emotion. Each artist has a different way to approach their craft, leading to the plethora of genres and musical movements that populate the medium. Whether an artist is writing songs to overcome the loss of a family member or to challenge the biogtry of the world, music provides an opportunity for both artists and listeners to explore those emotions that not many other art forms can. Email Connor Gatesman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
via instagram.com / @SZA (original photo by Ryan McGinley)
The Times Are Always Racing: Political Music Then and Now
By TAYLOR STOUT Staff Writer
How does your favorite song make you feel? Music evolves constantly to reflect the sentiments and desires of its audience. While it may sometimes seem like a form of escapism, music is oftentimes highly political either overtly or subliminally. Perhaps no socio-political moment is reflected more in music than 1960s counterculture. From free love to psychedelic drugs to the Vietnam War, the ’60s were a time of chaos and change, and much of this cultural upheaval was expressed through sound. The 1960s began with an ending: the ending of the Eisenhower years and the reign of the archetypal American dream. The children of this era were growing up, and as they became active participants in society, they began to question and challenge the culture that raised them. As the Port Huron Statement — a
1962 manifesto by the Students for a Democratic Society — put it, “We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.” In the face of disillusionment, music acted as both a reflection of and an influence upon modern culture. Music journalist Mikal Gilmore writes, “For a long and unforgettable season, it was a truism — or threat, depending on your point of view — that rock & roll could, and should, make a difference.” With his iconic 1964 song “The Times They Are a-Changin,’” musician Bob Dylan laid the groundwork for the cultural shifts that would occur throughout the decade. Dylan warns the listener, “If your time to you is worth savin’, then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changin’.” This call to action defines the societal attitudes of the various cultural
movements of the 1960s, such as civil rights, the sexual revolution and women’s liberation. By the end of the 1960s, modern civilization had been shaken to a state of disorder by war overseas and rebellion at home. Perhaps no song greater captures the precarious nature of the time than The Rolling Stones’ apocalyptic and foreboding 1969 track “Gimme Shelter.” The song is pervaded by a sense of impending doom. The line, “War, children, it’s just a shot away,” is repeated throughout the song, illustrating the inescapable shadow of violence that consumed society. However, the song ends, “I tell you love, sister, it’s just a kiss away,” dramatically shifting from hopeless fear to a hopeful plea for future peace. Political music didn’t die with the 1960s. Even today, when those in power push alternative facts and act in ways that marginalize large groups of society, music can be an influential and essential platform for
expression of dissident opinions. NYU Clive Davis first-year Leyla Aroch said that, instead of 1960s artists “becoming known for their activism,” today’s musicians are “known for their artistry becoming political.” She believes that the norm is to speak about politics in music, to the extent that if you’re not political, there’s something up with you. Furthermore, Aroch brings to light the increased diversity of today’s music scene. While the ’60s did include steps towards women’s liberation and civil rights, music was still largely dominated by white men in groups such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors and The Who. However, today’s pop scene is dominated by strong female musicians. Beyoncé, one of the most celebrated modern artists, often uses music as a tool to make compelling statements. In the powerful and invigorating song “Formation,” she declares, “I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making.”
In addition, Aroch notes the prevalence of hip-hop in the modern music scene, saying, “African-American culture is claiming [its history].” Aroch cites rapper Kendrick Lamar as an artist who doesn’t shy away from politics. In “Alright,” he says the police “Wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho’ But we gon’ be alright.” This impactful statement about police brutality is just one example of political issues permeating modern music. Aroch believes that today’s artists bear a political responsibility and must use their platforms to incite change. From gun violence to abortion rights to #MeToo to police brutality, Aroch said. “It needs to be normalized that these things are talked about,” and that the musician holds the ideal place in society to influence a new generation and bring these issues into everyday conversation. Email Taylor Stout at email@example.com.
Agitprop Art Activates Audiences By EMMA HERNANDO Staff Writer
In today’s divided political climate, we often feel helpless to actively affect change. When politicians and elections fail us, we’re faced with a choice to do nothing or to invent our own solutions. Many have sought alternative ways to establish a voice in politics besides voting, and while we attempt to make our voices heard, artists seem tasked to both amplify those voices and reconcile the division between beliefs. Within the NYU community, Gallatin junior Maria Polzin stands at the forefront of this artistic political revolution. In partnership with the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, she directs a magazine entitled Survivors that treads the boundary between art and activism –– also known as agitprop. While using art to empower a group of people or push a
Photo by Veronica Liow
political agenda seems more prevalent today, there’s actually nothing new about it. Political art was popularized in the latter part of the 20th century in revolutionary Russia. Agitprop theatre was inherently political and was formed off the words, “agitation” — meaning to stir public opinion for or against something — and “propaganda” — rumors spread to forward a political cause –– with its goal to inspire the masses to support a particular political party. While agitprop generally has negative connotations because of its roots in Soviet Russia, it mainly aims to cause shifts in public opinion: a tactic that is predominantly being employed by artists who seek to affect political change. Notable productions that have included agitprop methods are the recent plays “1984” on Broadway and “The Low Road,” currently in repertory at The Public Theatre. These
plays grapple with the current issues of our time and use Bertolt Brechtian techniques, techniques that remove all emotional connetations, to make the audience aware of the political message the play is trying to circulate. For example, in “1984” a blinding light randomly flashed between scenes to force the audience to remain on their toes and prevent them from sinking into passivity. However, agitprop isn’t the only art form created with the purpose of igniting change. Art movements such as Futurism also seek to break societal conventions in art as well as life. Futurists professed manifestos and performed with the desire to stun their audiences and thereby p u s h
them into action. Yet, the very act of performance or art seems antithetical to change because the audience is inherently passive, but these artistic movements seem to leave their audiences with no other option than to do something about what it is they are seeing. Series of editorial photoshoots that empower survivors of sexual assault fill the pages of “Survivors.” The survivors work with the creative team to put together photoshoots that allow them to feel confident and in control. The magazine also contains poetry and prose written by survivors. The magazine’s Instagram, @ survivorsnyc, addresses broader issues with goals of ending violence and oppression. “All of our projects give survivors the opportunity to reclaim autonomy of their representation,” Polzin said. “We acknowledge that we are part of a larger movement to end vi-
olence and oppression and this can only be done by using our platform to center the voices of marginalized communities and individuals.” Polzin believes Survivors has impacted the community by allowing survivors of sexual assault to know they have a safe space and to introduce conversation about sexual violence. “Without [these] spaces, conversation about sexual violence will continue to be taboo and swept under the rug,” Polzin said. “Our aim is not to directly affect legislation. But I firmly believe culture affects policy.” She hopes that through the shifting of public opinion, lawmakers will feel pressured to meet the needs of the people. In Polzin’s perspective, “We have to start by believing them.” Like the revolutionaries who have come before her, Polzin’s use of agitprop methods doesn’t let the viewer to be passive, but rather confronts them with her motivations for change. Email Emma Hernando at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Courtesy of Theater of Cruelty
Theater of Cruelty Assaults Its Audience By EMILY FAGEL, Theater and Books Editor
The theater is a pleasant place. Showgoers dress up for an evening of glamour, facing star-studded stages from plush velvet seats. At the theater we expect to be treated to reverie. Even boundary-pushing shows only provoke us, with only some leaving a lasting impact on our cognizance. The theater is rarely uncomfortable. It doesn’t harm or assault us, and we don’t expect to feel fear or uneasiness in the comfort of a Midtown auditorium. Theater of Cruelty — a philosophy and a discipline — is meant to challenge the notion of the theater as an escape to realistic fantasy, convincing us instead of the theater’s role as a crude attacker of the human subconscious. Antonin Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty began as a challenge. In 1938, writers like Ernest Hemingway and Arthur Miller were crafting p l a y s
rooted in concrete language and realism. Artaud yearned for a primal, cruel form of theater that would assault an audience’s senses through sound, lighting, gesture and movement. His publishing of “The Theatre and Its Double” included two manifestos of his Theater of Cruelty, and this movement has emerged with social and political underpinnings since. Theater of Cruelty is a reversal of Western theater traditions, and according to Tisch professor Andrew Goldberg, a way of drawing out the cruelties and unexpressed, subconscious emotions of everyday life. “[Artaud desired a form of theater that was] primal, ritualistic, that revealed the true cruelty of everyday life, the fact that at any moment the sky could fall on your head,” Goldberg, who teaches classes in the drama department, said. “He described a hypothetical theatre that assaulted the audience with sound and fury acting directly upon the audience’s nervous system, and [he] likened the theatre to a violent plague.” Artaud’s book was originally published in French and wasn’t translated until two decades after. Artaud
had already died and would not see his work recognized or appreciated. His production of “Les Cenci,” a play about a man who rapes his own daughter and is then murdered, closed after only 17 performances in
ideas about Theater of Cruelty during his lifetime, political theater groups such as the Living Theatre have used the philosophies attached to Theater of Cruelty to create political pieces. “[They] were inspired by Artaud to
He described a hypothetical theatre that assaulted the audience with sound and fury acting directly upon the audience’s nervous system, and [he] likened the theatre to a violent plague.” ANDREW GOLDBERG
Paris. But Artaud’s ideas later came to be acknowledged, and many artists went on to produce pieces inspired by his theories. Despite the social implication behind the Theater of Cruelty movement — that there is a base human instinct to violence and brutality, Artaud did not mean to imply anything political with his ideas. This was not always understood by his later admirers, such as Jean Genet and Peter Brook. While Artaud did not produce many plays that reflected h i s
create visceral, environmental, ritualistic, non-conformist theatre,” Goldberg said. “In some cases this was a misreading of Artaud, who did not relate his theatre to political ends. Some interesting recent scholarship has [even] seen proto-fascist tendencies in Artaud’s assaultive version of theater that forces the audience to submit to his vision.” The social implications of Artaud’s philosophy may be showing themselves in modern politics, but the discipline of Theater of Cruelty has not completely surfaced in today’s art. Art today still keeps us comfortable — consider the recent Broad-
way openings of “Frozen,” “Mean Girls” and “Anastasia.” Even boundary-pushing productions don’t quite fall into Artaud’s desired realm. The most recent Broadway production of “1984,” featuring Olivia Wilde and Reed Birney, was both lauded and attacked for its PG-13 torture scenes, blackouts and sudden jackhammer sounds. Although this production came close to the Theater of Cruelty genre, Artaud once imagined the audience sitting in the middle of the theater while performers moved around them. “1984” did not approach that level of disruption and is thus not truly a modern example of this movement. “1984 was certainly graphic and violent, but I’m not entirely sure that is the same thing as cruel,” Goldberg said, emphasizing Artaud’s philosophy of Theater of Cruelty as opposed to the actual discipline of the movement. “The cruelty that Artaud was getting at is not just a literal shock of blood and guts, it’s the much more horrible idea of the cruelty of the universe, an awareness of human suffering.” Theater certainly tries to make us more aware by revealing human truths, but the violent truths of Theater of Cruelty and the ways Artaud imagined them to be portrayed have not yet reached the Great White Way.
Email Emily Fagel at email@example.com.
The Atomic Age of Anime By ALEJANDRO VILLA VÁSQUEZ Copy Chief
The decimation of Hiroshima and Nagaski is known throughout the world today as one of the most brutal and pivotal movements of World War II. But what few people care to investigate is how manga and its offspring –– anime –– allowed for the healing process in Japan to manifest in artistic, cathartic, everlasting forms. People started to look for ways to deal with the trauma after the war came to a close. There was a divergence between how Japan recovered through honest yet fictionalized portrayals of the destruction of nature, the inefficiency of war and mankind’s resilience against the two, while American artists put on their rose-colored lenses and produced
Rain” attempted to externalize the sorrow Japanese citizens felt about the destruction of their environment and the fear inflicted upon their society. But these cartoons also reinforced that Japan would see its resurrection in the decades after the war through perseverance over all obstacles. Comic book artists continued producing anti-war content in Japan, eventually birthing the mecha genre. From the gray pages of literature to the nascent silver screens, manga found a new home in the movies. The mecha genre is defined by larger-than-life sci-fi monster battles –– think Godzilla –– that all attempted to demonstrate the chaos precipitated by the abuse of technology and nature. Content creators were galvanized by the horrors of war, which to them seemed antithetical to peace itself.
The beauty of anime is that it is rendered limitless by its cartoon nature, and animators continue to abide by their desires to construct stories that explore the range of human emotion and experience. ” multitudes of comic book series based on normies-turned-heroes by the power of nuclear waste or outlandish science. Japanese artists developed a way to heal with distinct creativity and artfulness. Osamu Tezuka authored the “Mighty Atom” series (or as it’s known in the United States, “Mega Man”), which explores Japanese disdain with the United States’ failure to apologize for the bombings — as well as man’s abuse of technology. Other series like “Barefoot Gen” and “Struck by Black
Certainly, no one is arguing that anime and manga would not have existed had the tribulation of war not struck the Japanese. “The literature was already firmly established before World War II; however, it may look very different without the advent of ‘Astro Boy’ or other manga from the time,” said Chris Kincaid, a writer for Japan Powered, a forum for Japanese culture. “Godzilla would not have existed in his current form as well. It is possible that the mecha genre and others would have less focus on nuclear-like destruction and armaments.” Even after the age of anti-war literature founders like Tezuka and “Mega Man,” the movement prevailed in the soon-to-be-legend Hayao Miyazaki. That’s right. The man who gave us the wondrous and eternal masterpiece, “Spirited Away,” started out in the anime world creating films that illustrated the same de-
nouncement of war. Movies he oversaw the production of like “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and “Howl’s Moving Castle” all have resilient and brilliant young girls as leads because Miyazaki saw how many children had been orphaned by the war and left to fend for themselves. Then, with the rise of television cartoons in the 1970s and 1980s, anime found a new home in the American theater. Shows like “Sailor Moon” and “Pokémon” were wildly popular with American youth, and the dissemination of anime has only grown since then. Why, though? In an article by The Artifice, the rise of anime is being attributed to greater accessibility thanks to innovative streaming services like Crunchyroll, the at times strikingly different behavior of characters in anime –– reflective of non-Western sensibilities and a desire to explore themes rarely visited by shows targeted at young adults — like homosexuality and violence — in a way that isn’t childish or aesthetically sterile. “I think that the content of anime is a lot different from Western shows — Western shows really focus on shock value and sex appeal and romance as their defining characteristics,” Tandon first-year Melanie Triplett said. “[Anime] still has those things [but] I found that a lot of the time, anime has really intricate plots that are really fun to follow. And the episodes are usually 20 minutes so you can easily binge watch 15 or 20 in a day.” Anime and manga combine pleasing visuals with content and plotlines that actually mean something to their audiences. The beauty of anime is that it is rendered limitless by its cartoon nature, and animators continue to abide by their desires to construct stories that explore the range of human emotion and experience. And considering the current administration, it’s really no wonder why anime has been embraced with unprecedented ubiquity in the West. American youth are looking for a change both in their government and in the popular culture they enjoy. There is now a collective desire to see cartoons utilize their near-infinite potential to illustrate experiences as they are in the real world, wrapped up in artistry and magic. Email Alejandro Villa Vásquez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Making Politics Pop: Social Commentary in Pop Art By ANUBHUTI KUMAR Highlighter Editor
Obama 2008. Hope. Is it possible to hear these words without associating them with the red and blue poster that adorned every social media post and rally on the left? Not really. That “Hope” poster is just the beginning, or maybe the most ubiquitous modern example, of the entangled affair between pop art and politics. Beginning the history of these two intertwined disciplined were artists like Andy Warhol, best known for his “Campbell’s Soup Cans” and Marilyn Monroe portraits, and Roy Lichtenstein, famous for his comic book style parodies. The reflection of pop culture, giving the form its name and its commentary on American consumerism, defines the new school of art. What made it groundbreaking is that unlike upper class art stored in museums and personal collections, these pieces were relatively easy and inexpensive to produce, making them much more accessible to the public. Warhol portrayed the tumultuous politics of the 20th century through his work depicting the John F. Kennedy assassination, the George McGovern presidential campaign and a commissioned portrait of Jimmy Carter. While he claimed to be independent, Warhol clearly leaned to the left, and pop art continues to be an ally to the left with its youthful and progressive demographic. Former President Carter’s commission of Warhol could be the first example of politics acknowledging the power of pop art and making an effort to harness in order to appeal to the youthful demographic that followed the genre. Fast forward to the new millenvia facebook.com
nium. In 2008, the Obama campaign had the same insight. Shepard Fairey designed the iconic Obama campaign graphics and went on to do the same of the Women’s March in 2017. Even Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign merchandise and posters capitalized on the appeal of pop art in the younger generation. “The pop art that was geared toward the election was mostly in Clinton’s favor, which I think definitely helped her solidify her messages among millennial and influencers,” CAS junior Azza Zakaria said of the ongoing allure of pop art for politics. “Speaking of movements and non-profits, I am curious to continue to see what For Freedoms, the first artist-run super political action committee, continues to do,” Gallatin junior Alexandra Shveda, who is concentrating in ‘Art, Identity and Social Change,’ said. “They essentially aim to collaborate with artists in order to spur and produce political messaging with nuance.” Shveda also serves as the arts chair for NYU Program Board. Clearly, politicians are not the only ones keenly aware of the power of art and eager to find ways to channel it. Not only does pop art have cultural influence on the campaign trail, but it’s also a powerful tool for social commentary. Maria Qamar, known as hatecopy on Instagram, is a Canadian artist of Pakistani descent. She uses her vibrantly colorful, jump-off-the-page, comic panel style to bring forward social issues common to the South Asian experience, from sexism to racism to overly intrusive “aunties.” “[Qamar uses] bits of dialogue that evokes emotion in the viewer
and also relatability,” Zakaria said. “A lot of her art is just very relatable because its put in a realistic context, and I think that’s what really draws fans to her pieces.” Qamar’s eye-catching easily shareable, laugh-out-loud funny comic panels are a modern example of the lingering influences of the school Warhol popularized. Another artist who infuses his work with issues of race and continues Warhol’s commentary on consumerism is Hank Willis Thomas. “A lot of his work looks at racial identity through advertising and pop culture,” Shevda said. “For instance, one of his pieces, ‘Priceless #1,’ which caused some controversy, utilizes a personal tragedy –– his friend getting murdered over a gold chain –– to illustrate and question the larger concept of pricelessness and the value of commodities.” A notable, unexpected name in political art is Jim Carrey. Taking a break from his comedy, Carrey’s focus became art. His caricature style paintings very directly satirize the current administration with their visual references to the president and his staff. A debate about a piece based on press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, one side crying offense and the other fair game, went viral and brought widespread attention to Carrey’s work. The affair between pop art and politics that began with Warhol’s foray into political commentary continues to bring heat to modern movements under a diverse array of of new crafters and ever adapting techniques. Email Anubhuti Kumar at email@example.com.
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