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FIMS’ alternative student publication



louis pushelberg





17 THE POWER OF POP emily stewart


20 GIRLS ON FILM samantha roach


22 THE OPENWIDE HOUSING GUIDE kyle simons 25 MISS WESTERN GOOSE TAKES FLIGHT kevin hurren 26 DEGREE ZOMBIES rachel kelly Disclaimer: The sole responsibility of this publication lies with its authors. Contents do not reflect the opinions of the University Students Council of the University of Western Ontario (“USC”) or those of the Faculty of Media and Information Studies Students Council. The USC assumes no reponsiblity or liability for any error, inaccuracy, omission or comment contained in this publication or for any use that may be made of such


Back Cover art by Eilidh Fisher


The new year is touted by many as a time for resolution. While I’m not one for the short-term fixes that begin when the hangover recedes, I will admit that the beginning of a new year does serve as an appropriate time for reflection. Recently, OPENWIDE Online faced criticism from a former writer and editor, who reiterated the crucial position that criticality occupies in an increasingly mediated -and many believe increasingly apathetic- university environment. My first week back in FIMS further reinforced this notion; watching a biopic about the life and work (they don’t appear separate) of esteemed war photographer James Nachtwety, I was struck by his statement that publications rarely adopt critical stances, perspectives that work to “overcome the diluting effects of the mass media and shake people out of their indifference”. Hearing it from Nachtwety, juxtaposed against a backdrop of his haunting images detailing devastating conflicts, made for a powerful reminder of my duty as editor at OPENWIDE. Without sounding too preachy, the ability to critique, to subvert, and to engage in discussion are the essentials this faculty has provided me with. This publication exists as a platform where those can and should be wholeheartedly put to use. What amazed me most about Nachtwety wasn’t his tenacity, or his fearlessness, but his unwavering lack of negativity in the face of preventable suffering. He could easily and forgivably slip into cynicism, or come across as elitist, but he doesn’t. I believe this is what enables him, and any socially impactful artist for that matter, to directly and effectively communicate messages to a receptive public - an audience Nachtwety believes doesn’t get enough credit for its sympathy. Join OPENWIDE and ring in 2014, the year of the horse, on a critical note - but keep it positive, and remember that open-mindedness and humility are far more effective tools than pretentiousness.

TENTS Editor-in-chief CHRIS LING

World Editor KEVIN CHAO

Managing Editor KEVIN HURREN


Western Life Editor TRAVIS WELOWSZKY

Web Editor EMILY STEWART Assistant Web Editor MARWA HASSAN Promotions SHAYNE SADLER

Graphics & Layout OLIVIA PIERRATOS Photography & Images ERIN HOFMANN



“ o you’re an MIT student, what do you do with that?” The infamous unanswered question that shadows so many MIT undergrads, particularly during their final years in the program. I know the feeling. I’ve been in your shoes, trying to keep my head above water as a sea of papers and exams continues to swell. Amongst this typhoon of schoolwork, it can be easy to lose sight of what you’re learning in university, and how it will be valuable after graduation. Having graduated from MIT almost a year ago, I can confidently tell you that you’re in a good position. Life post-MIT is an exciting and opportunistic time. To confirm this statement, I spoke with four recent MIT graduates. Judging by the conversations we had, I’m happy to share that they feel exactly the same way. Their experiences speak for themselves. MIT students are excelling in many areas thanks to the holistic and interdisciplinary education they’ve been provided. The MIT graduates interviewed here share their wisdom and reflect on the role their MIT education played as they embarked on their career journeys. It’s my hope that through these candid conversations, I will affirm the amazing opportunities out there for MIT students- let’s see how it goes! The first graduate I spoke with was Stefan Milosevic. Stefan had the opportunity to intern for Sid Lee after graduating from his final year in MIT. Sid Lee uses an integrated approach to shape brands and create experiences through marketing, advertising, architecture, online brand development, interior, industrial and graphic design and any other medium that helps communicate a brand’s identity. After applying to an inaugural program, Stefan was invited to a kick-off party, then a follow-up interview, which landed him the internship. Stefan worked in Sid Lee’s strategy department, researching core insights to guide the action of brand campaigns. He analyzed “cultural, psychological, technological, economical [and] political trends [and matched] them with the consuming trends for the industry.” Ring any bells? Stefan writes, “this is where my MIT muscles came in huge.” As MIT students, we study similar trends or cultural behaviours in practically every class. Stefan writes that Sid Lee “values [an understanding of] cultural theory,” as evidenced by the cultural theory books from MIT 2200 which were “on practically every strategist’s desk.” Stefan’s advice for those pursuing internships? “The harder you work, the luckier you get. Hard work never goes unnoticed – luck will find you.” When interviewing for an entry level position in advertising, Stefan stresses that it’s key to demonstrate “you’re passionately curious about advertising above all, and that [you] are thinking about what it means and what it does.” The key word here is demonstrate. As MIT students, we’ve had continual exposure to critical thinking about what advertising means and what it does, given that a large part of the MIT curriculum is focused on challenging how we think about media and its meaning. As an MIT student you have lots of experience thinking in this way – the important part is to demonstrate it.


Stefan also suggests not being overly concerned about the amount of experience you bring to the table. When hiring an intern, businesses typically aren’t looking for years of experience – that’s why you’re an intern. Instead, they want to know that you have a desire to learn and that you fit in with their culture. “They know they’re taking a chance on you, you just have to prove to them you’re worth the chance,” writes Stefan. Again, ‘demonstration’ is the key to success – proving how you will be of value to them, and why they should take a chance on hiring you. Stefan sums up his internship as an amazing “opportunity to work with some of the industry’s brightest minds.” Stefan is currently enrolled in the Master of Professional Communications program at Ryerson University. You can follow Stefan and Sid Lee on Twitter @stefanmilo and @SidLee. Next, a few valuable career insights from MIT graduate, Rebecca Ford. Through a visual resume coupled with a keen interest in video games, Rebecca landed an internship at Digital Extremes during her 3rd year. Digital Extremes, or DE for short, specializes in triple ‘A’ games, which are equivalent to the likes of Hollywood blockbusters in the gaming industry. Headquartered in our very own London, Ontario, DE has received numerous awards for developing spectacular games and for being one of Canada’s top employers. After a successful internship, DE offered Rebecca a full time job as Community Manager on completion of her MIT degree. Rebecca is now managing an online community of hundreds of thousands of gamers on DE’s official forums. Since launching their latest game, Warframe, DE’s community of gamers continues to grow with Rebecca at the helm. She spearheads the community team at events like E3 in Los Angeles, California, Gamescom in Cologne, Germany and other international gaming events. She also hosts a bi-weekly video series featuring core game updates and has even done some voice acting for a major game character. Reflecting on how MIT helped her succeed at Digital Extremes, Rebecca writes: “MIT as a faculty is very aware of how quickly things change in media and technology.” She explains that “theoretical knowledge and way of thought is used daily” in many aspects of the “video game world [which] require fast and critical thinking. When people all over the world are playing and thinking about your game, you need to try to understand all the perspectives and adapt accordingly.” Rebecca’s piece of advice to budding MIT students - be open to establishing new relationships, “every an opportunity...whether it’s a TA, professor, or a library desk partner, never overlook the power of just getting to know people around you, finding common ground and starting an interesting discussion.” Follow Rebecca @rebbford and check out DE’s latest game at or on twitter and Facebook @ PlayWarframe and The third MIT graduate, Sasha Goldstein, works as a part-time Art Director for the jewellery brand Vitality. He designs the packaging, manages the website and shapes the general aesthetic and lifestyle direction of the brand. Sasha also writes freelance for Snowboard Canada, does word-of-mouth photography assignments, graphic design and web development for a small group of clients. During his undergrad, Sasha worked as a nightlife and live music photographer as well as a freelance graphic designer and web developer. He also had a brief stint working for Red Bull as a brand rep. “My job was to throw parties, promote events and get people hooked on Red Bull. That was fun.” Reflecting on his 4 years at Western, Sasha notes that “more than anything else, the value of the MIT program is in the complexity of thought and information processing that grows from trying to untangle theorists like Theodore Adorno, and unravel the myth of the American Dream on a daily basis.” He explains that the theoretical component is invaluable because it challenges you intellectually. “While I could never have predicted it”, he writes, “in hindsight I appreciated the theoretical direction. Over the course of four years, I acquired practical skills, particularly in writing, and experience in a wide breadth of media and technology related subjects in other faculties (music, computer sciences, design etc). Meanwhile, MIT forced me to expand my research skills, critical thinking, and certainly my work ethic.” Sasha notes that while most of his opportunities have come from side-projects or interests outside MIT, it is unlikely he would have been as successful without developing his critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.


Sasha’s top-of-mind recommendation to MIT students? “Explore as much about MIT as you can during your time at university.” Theoretical study and critical thought will help you develop and use your ideas in a wide variety of disciplines (or in whatever endeavour you find yourself in). “Find ways to incorporate the MIT practices you’re learning into other courses, faculties, and the rest of your life,” Sasha says. Check out Sasha’s website and find him on Twitter @sashagoldstein. The fourth graduate, who has some interesting input, is Mitchell Sturm. Since graduating from MIT, Mitchell started a small creative consulting and social media agency – Three Chairs – with a fellow MIT Alumni. Three Chairs helps small to medium-size companies build their online presence through identity and web design, as well as the production of original video and social media content. Currently, Mitchell is continuing his studies at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in the MFA Film and Television Production program. In thinking about the relation of his MIT experience to his current business and studies, Mitchell believes the strongest perspective he’s derived from MIT comes down to a simple reminder: “Stop, and really critique the content you create before creating it. In all the various stages of the production process, I’m constantly filtering and examining my opinions to ensure my ‘inner MIT student’ would approve.” Mitchell elaborates, noting that having an artistic eye or natural talent isn’t enough. “Critical thinking skills are the biggest asset to have when approaching filmmaking” or any discipline you choose after graduation, “it’s through this critical engagement process that you can see the holes in existing media.” In the area of filmmaking, Mitchell treats those holes “as opportunities for more interesting stories.” For MIT students who are beginning to make decisions about life after graduation, Mitchell explains that “the jobs you might be perfect for don’t yet exist. We started Three Chairs because we didn’t have the autonomy, influence or creative authority we wanted right out of the gate. Unless it’s your dream job, steer clear of being that guy in the office who can use Photoshop. Go directly for a job or company that you really want. Sometimes that means making it up yourself.” How do you go about this? “Do the research. Call people you admire and who are doing what you’d like to do. Pester them over and over to get lunch and find an opportunity to pick their brain.” Mitchell explains that Three Chairs acquired most of their clients through connections with people, not by tossing their resume into an inconsequential pile. Getting better opportunities is all about connecting with the people who are doing the kind of things you’d like to do. Mitchell’s bottom line? “Follow the cliché – do what you actually love and don’t be afraid to take the time to try new and interesting things.” Find Mitchell and his work at and Three Chairs at www.threechairs. ca/. What can be learned from the unique experiences of these 4 students? While they share different examples, the common thread that emerges is to actively seek ways to apply our university knowledge. These examples suggest that it goes beyond simply learning media theory, beyond excelling academically. Instead, it is the tacit, inherent learning we acquire at university – how to learn, how to think, and how to communicate- that are the invaluable skills we exit with. Why are these principles so valuable? Understanding how to learn and teach ourselves is a powerful tool. Take Stefan’s experience at Sid Lee for example. He was forced to learn independently and on-the-fly. At times, things were “difficult because [he] had absolutely no direction.” As a result, Stefan had to become opinionated about what needed to be done, and Sid Lee trusted him to make the right choices; a process which he recalls as a “blessing in disguise.” Settling in, Stefan developed the “confidence to tackle larger problems” by listening to, and working with Sid Lee’s extremely bright people. Had Stefan not acquired the capacity to learn quickly and independently, his ability to adapt at Sid Lee would have been challenging. Fortunately for us as MIT students, this is the implicit value of the MIT program – it’s an essential by-product of the countless readings, research papers, exams, and repeated scrutinizing over our responses, which in turn helps us to prosper.


Rebecca, Sasha and Mitchell’s experiences also reinforce learning agility and ability. Rebecca touched on the value of “fast and critical thinking” while Mitchell and Sasha were challenged to build supplementary skills outside of the theoretical curriculum. Sasha writes that you must supplement knowledge gained in MIT with additional skills and “find ways to incorporate the practices you use in MIT into other aspects of your life”. So the criteria for our future success is as much about these ‘practices,’ and the work ethic we are developing as it is about pure technical capability. Throughout university, we come to realize that the whole institution is designed to teach us how to learn, versus teaching us solely about media or technology. And how do we learn? Through repetition, or as Sasha apty puts it: “practice.” These basic principles are at the core of teaching methods. This is why we spend four devoted years focused intently on one subject, listening to professors repeat the material until we understand. We write papers and exams over and over until eventually we become pretty good at it. Developing an understanding of how we learn and how to effectively teach ourselves is an ability we are indirectly exposed to at university and is a skill to hold onto for the rest of our lives, as these grads can attest to. Secondly, university teaches us how to think. MIT helps us understand that the culture and world around us was constructed and is not an isolated box we live in, but something we control and shape. It allows us to think critically and independently. That is the power of education, and MIT does an unquestionably excellent job in exposing us to these ways of thinking. How does this wisdom and insight play into a career and a life after graduation? Professor Keith Tomasek explains that companies are looking to ‘hire smart.’ MIT students “learn to think critically about media technology and its implication in society – an approach which can be challenging to students, but [also] the reason they graduate with the smarts that leading organizations want and expect.” Professor Tomasek’s perspective is closely aligned with Mitchell’s advice – that “critical thinking skills are [your] biggest assets” and can be used for creating new opportunities. Sasha’s experiences also reinforce this notion – he attributes much of his success to the ability to think and solve problems critically. Lastly, MIT teaches you how to communicate. Through repeated exposure to essay writing, researching, presenting, debating, contemplating and mulling over concepts, you learn to better articulate ideas and produce a convincing argument. These skills, in combination with the learning and analytical thinking skills you’ve gained, make all the difference when interacting with employers. Whether it’s face-to-face or in an online format, communication skills are crucial. Stefan was given his opportunity because of the connections he built at Sid Lee’s internship networking event. Rebecca was offered a full time job because of the good relationships she built during her internship reminding us that “every an opportunity.” So start building relationships with your professors. Get to know them and “don’t limit your interactions to in-class knowledge exchange,” Professor Tomasek recommends. To put things into perspective, think of it this way: You spend 4 months in a class, and during these 4 months you are passing through a field your professor has studied for years, possibly a lifetime. There is no richer opportunity to reach out to those professors and to make an effort to understand their world, their experiences and their expertise. In the next 4 months, you have the opportunity to interact with some of the most intelligent and forward-thinking people you’ll come across in your life, so take advantage of it. Your relationships and the mentorship received from these professors will last long after your university days. It is my hope that these insights and tips will help you anticipate and prepare for imminent career opportunities. While MIT focuses on media, information and technology, it really is designed to give you the skills that lead to success after graduation. While university can’t establish your career path or get you hired, you will graduate with longevous knowledge which is more powerful than any purely vocational skills. You will leave with the ability of knowing how to learn, how to think and how to communicate – invaluable gifts for your career and for your life. May these gifts open a whole range of possibilities for your future success.





Signs a Game-Changing Deal WORDS Chris Ling


hen the puck drops this upcoming October to signal the beginning of a new National Hockey League (NHL) season, Canadians will be watching their national sport through a different lens. A recent deal saw the league’s exclusive broadcasting rights signed away to Rogers Communications in a surprise transaction worth a staggering $5.2 billion, a move that has provoked cries of injustice and the unpleasant word monopoly to spring from the lips of many. The decision follows decades of the NHL’s rights distributed between The Sports Network (TSN), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), as well as Rogers Sportsnet. The new contract spans a minimum of 12 years and provides Rogers with sole national broadcasting rights to the league across all of its networks, on all platforms.

TSN is almost unanimously considered to have the best televised hockey product available. It surpasses other networks in its in-game calling and analysis, and is widely recognized for its superior production quality. NHL hockey is the lifeblood of the TSN: hockey-related programming constitutes the majority of the network’s total programming, more than all its other sports combined. Over the years, the “source for all things hockey” has built a reputation as the go-to network not only for colour commentary and analysis, but also for insight into the league’s activity: trades, contracts, draft picks and the like. Rogers is not celebrated for its proficiency in this area, nor for the quality of its production. In fact, many hockey fans consider Rogers’ programming to be “low-budget” and to lack the nuances that the TSN has so finely shaped in its hockey product. While the deal may not result in TSN’s big guns immediately jumping ship to join the Roger’s cast, what it can guarantee is some drastic cuts to the numerous personnel employed by the network’s large-scale hockey productions, something The National Post aptly denoted as a “looming death by unnatural causes” for Canada’s Sports Leader.


Criticism thus far - and there has been an onslaught of it in the Canadian media - has centered not only on the fallout for TSN, but on the debasement of a Canadian tradition, the assailment on an essentially religious gathering that takes place in countless bars and living rooms nationwide on Saturday nights. The CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada turns 62 this year, and for the first time in its history it will not enjoy exclusive NHL airtime during its weekly broadcast. Rogers will simulcast games on Sportsnet and its other channels, at the expense of CBC’s once dominant audience positioning. Though it was Rogers who made the merciful decision to allow Hockey Night In Canada (HNIC) to carry on for the next four years, the impact of their new deal on the national broadcaster will be evident as the new season kicks off. CBC Television already struggles in a Canadian market saturated by American networks because of the low costs and typically higher quality of American programming. Poor regulatory practices on the part of the CRTC don’t alleviate that pressure either. Many fear that losing HNIC will cause a slippery financial slope to become even more treacherous for the CBC; the popular weekly broadcast is valued at $200 million, generating over half of the network’s advertising revenue. The continuation of HNIC may sustain CBC’s audiences for the time being - save those numbers lost to Rogers’ Saturday-night simulcasting - but effective this season Rogers will collect the advertising revenue generated during the broadcast, gutting the CBC of its largest revenue source. Rogers will also overhaul the production, editorial content, and all that Don Cherry, Ron MacLean and the rest of the veteran cast at the CBC fine-tuned over the years. At the end of the day, the CBC will be no more than a masthead in a corporate storm. The future for CBC Television looks dim because of the deal, though dismal audience figures indicate that it was never all that bright. Audiences were down 40 percent as of 2012. Primetime programming and the CBC news lure a mere five and two percent of the national population, respectively, and those numbers are in decline. Federal budget cuts of $110 million last year combined with this latest hit to HNIC paint a gloomy picture for the largely publicly-funded network. Cultural capital notwithstanding, it may not be in the national economic interest to sustain such a floundering network, particularly one swimming in a pool of private sharks like Rogers. In the meantime, further financial losses will have immediate effects on the CBC’s current programming, though what that means exactly is uncertain at this point. The only upside for CBC here is the fact that Roger’s will absorb HNIC’s production costs; hopefully this will offset revenue losses enough to save the network from a financial freefall. In spite of the criticism that this deal faces, one glaring fact has been repeatedly overlooked: “This just means I get to watch more hockey.” Though Rogers’ monopolistic actions may defile tradition and considerably alter the way hockey looks, it also means that NHL games will be broadcast across all 4 of Rogers’ regional feeds from coast-to-coast, giving fans numerous options. Montreal Canadiens fans in Ontario, for example, are delighted that Toronto’s blue and white will no longer occupy centre stage without alternatives (as Leafs games traditionally have) because Rogers has both the means and motive to screen more hockey on Saturday nights than the CBC’s customary double-header. For the well-rounded sports fan, the deal may in fact be a blessing. Along with Rogers’ channels that will give consumers more NHL access, the absence of hockey from TSN’s schedule will result in more free programming space and perhaps a more diverse network, provided the network can survive the financial hit. That would be welcome news for fans of less popular sports like tennis, which was pushed to TSN2 (the network’s paid channel) a few years back to accommodate increased hockey coverage. Whether or not you’re a die-hard hockey fan, or even a sports fan for that matter, the deal reflects what is becoming alarmingly normalized in the Canadian media industry: monopolistic, largely unregulated behaviour, the elimination of competition and the reduction of consumer choice. Our national broadcaster, perhaps the only network free from direct American advertising influence, hangs dangerously in the balance. Maybe the true north isn’t so free after all.


Socializing Complacent Responses WORDS

Ademofe Oye-Adeniran

Whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed information that has left

the public with one scary thought: that the government is emulating Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’ and is excessively vigilant of the lives of private citizens. Over a billion individuals worldwide have had their personal information collected by the National Security Agency (NSA), yet after this evidence was released there was no mass public outcry or backlash. This is partially due to mass media and technology socializing a new generation to respond in a complacent manner to security breaches.

In the summer of 2013, Edward Snowden, a former contractor of the NSA, released classified information to journalists. This information revealed that the U.S. government, in affiliation with other international security agencies, was engaging in a bulk collection of information from not only American citizens, but individuals worldwide. They monitored e-mails, text messages and cell phone conversations, as well as the places these conversations took place. International security agencies, including in Britain and Canada, collaborated with the NSA to retrieve this information. Records were retrieved from Verizon Business and from other tech giants like Google, Facebook, YouTube and Apple. Adding fuel to the fire, prior to Snowden’s information leak NSA Director General Keith Alexander declared a number of times that the NSA did not review the e-mail and text messages of Americans. Following this massive infringement on personal privacy and breach of public trust, multiple Americans filed lawsuits declaring an infringement of their first and fourth amendment rights. Two federal judges disputed the constitutionality of the NSA practices in December of 2013. In Washington, judge Richard Leon concluded that the NSA’s mass collection of information was unconstitutional; on the other hand, New York judge William H. Pauley III disagreed. From the time when the information was leaked in May till the end of the year, apart from hearing the opinions of judges, the government, and corporations, there was no mass public response. This is partially because people are now accustomed to technologies that breach individual privacy. For example, for almost every application on a smart phone, customers have to agree to permit access to their files on their device, such as their pictures and music, and also to allow the application to transmit and obtain data. It is clear in the twenty-first century that, to a certain degree, people already concede to a violation of their privacy. This concession is obvious with the use of social media. On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, people disclose personal details about their whereabouts, the people they are with, the location of their workplace and the school they attend. Students can spend hours on Facebook researching strangers or friends by using Facebook’s 11

information finding tools, such as “viewing friendships” or searching photos of a specific person in a specific year. People have lost their jobs because of the private information that they disclose on social media platforms, but nevertheless, everyone continues to use it and share information. Facebook itself retains a large amount of this information indefinitely, from photos to locations. In addition, while signed in, any internet searches by the Facebook user is utilized as information to display specific advertisements. Nevertheless, the number of Facebook users has increased from one million in 2004 to over one billion users in 2013. The acceptance of subtle privacy infringements is also apparent with the increasing popularity of reality TV shows that follow the daily lives of people. Reality television shows from Keeping up with the Kardashians to Big Brother have gained over a million viewers. In the United States, Big Brother is on its thirteenth season, and it tracks every incident that occurs in the Big Brother household. The public can subscribe to online feeds and watch the people on the show 24/7. It is clear that a number of people have been indoctrinated into a culture of knowing, of being watched, and of watching other people’s lives, which has been facilitated by technology in the twenty-first century. People become accustomed to inspecting the personal lives of others and are therefore unsurprised when the government does the same. This NSA privacy breach undermines the public/private divide that liberal democracy is founded upon. For liberals, the sole purpose of rights is to prevent the state from intruding into the personal lives of citizens. The NSA disregarded these precepts by collecting mass information about private citizens, and in doing so undermined their right to privacy. However, when the NSA scandal emerged there was no public protest, as those of us conditioned to subtle privacy breaches expected these intrusions. Although some expressed outrage, most did not seek a substantial change; perhaps because they felt they could do nothing about it, or because they thought this breach was just another part of the concessions of privacy that individuals forfeit daily. To uphold public trust, the White House sanctioned a review of these NSA policies, which was released late in December of 2013. Earlier that month, Facebook, AOL, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo and LinkedIn issued a Global Government Surveillance Reform, requesting changes to the government’s system of data collection. Dissatisfaction among shareholders also caused Verizon Wireless to reform its policy; the company expressed that it will release consumer data collected at government request. This included limiting the number of individuals monitored and increasing the transparency of the process. Such responses indicate that it is possible for citizens to trust those in power to respond appropriately to such controversies, especially when the interests of capital are involved. However, these reports and changes were finalized only in December, which does not excuse the lack of public outcry during the six months prior. Mass media and technology may be facilitating the development of a new generation that is complacent to the invasion of privacy through technology. As this generation emerges, responses to problems concerning increased government control, like the NSA controversy, may become non-existent. 12

Under the


With the emergence of each new technology and platform, the media landscape becomes an increasingly ubiquitous part of modern life. As children of the 90s, we have witnessed perhaps the most significant technological transformation since the turn of the century. OPENWIDE editors Jenna Taylor and Emily Stewart share their perspectives on media and its wide-ranging impact on adolescent mental health.




T h e K i d s Don’t Stand a Chance From Nintendo 64 to the Apple Store WORDS Jenna Taylor

Murmurs of my childhood entail mystical journeys into the forest, a dress-up box, and a significant collection

of tamagotchis and pogs. I can’t help but ask: has the childhood completely withered away, replaced by the enchantment of the glowing screen?

As a child of the 90s, life was a lot slower. My only interaction with a computer consisted of 30-minute weekly sessions playing a “typing tutor” game, an activity strictly enforced by my mother. Today, the childhood is almost—if not completely—mediated by the presence of the screen. From early on, this generation experiences a distorted, pixilated reality created by an omnipresence of technological reflections. Considering an individual’s values and beliefs are molded and easily influenced during one’s youth, this situation becomes extremely problematic. Ultimately, growing up has been corrupted by the accessibility and popularity of the technologies we worship. Not only do kids want these cool new interfaces, they have been conned into believing that they need them. It’s worrisome to see an iPad written twice on a ten-year-olds’ Christmas wish list, and even more upsetting, when in brackets they write, “If I do not get this, I will be very VERY angry.” To make matters worse, the child author of this idealized wish list and her younger sister both received iPads for Christmas. With one thoughtless purchase at the Apple store, these parents have unknowingly thrusted their children into a world of relentless disappointment and constant pressure to perform. A few weeks ago, I received an Instagram request from one of these pre-teens (who I previously babysat) and it caught me off guard. Her profile was crammed with selfies and images covered in text: “Like if you think I’m pretty” and “2 likes=ugly, 7 likes=cute, 12=pretty… 19+=drop dead gorgeous” – and so on. Today’s youth are deeply ingrained within an age of narcissism, exploitation, and inescapable torment, and this is beginning at a younger age than ever before. After talking with Cassandra and Samantha, 10 and 11 respectively, my anxieties about this social media culture spiked far larger than any of our trolls’ hair ever could. “All my friends are on Instagram, I go on every second I can. And I post at least one selfie a day.” I couldn’t help but ask, How do those pictures that relate your appearance to the amount of likes you receive make you feel? To which Samantha replied, “If you have a lot of followers it doesn’t matter… you could be the ugliest person in the world.”


Afterwards, the girls showed me some of their friends’ profiles. Through a clever use of the most popular tags, some of these accounts have gained over 4000 followers. This obsession over obtaining more and more followers creates an entirely new platform for ranking social acceptance and has ultimately made children more ignorant and detached from one another in the process. Pre Web 2.0 kids did have instigators that affected their self-esteem, with early exposure to magazines and infatuation with celebrities, but social media has created this new system for self-representation and external reassurance that takes the eye away from celebrities and turns the focus inward. In the 90’s, if you made it onto YTV’s gameshow Uh-Oh or sported the coolest choker, you were put on a pedestal. Now, kids may only feel self-satisfaction if they are deemed worthy by an abundance of likes from complete strangers. All you need is likes, right?

Virtually unlimited contact with these media platforms has the potential to raise mental health issues to a detrimental level. The YouTube fad “Am I Pretty or Am I Ugly?” exemplifies these new concerns for the younger generation. The trend consisted of girls as young as six or seven posting videos about their insecurities. Each video is accompanied by the caption “Am I Pretty or Am I Ugly?” which openly invites strangers to participate in an endless forum regarding beauty standards. Under each video, two types of comments are common. Users either post hateful slurs, or they sexually objectify the young girls, both of which have great potential to harm the poster’s mental health. Though these young girls choose to expose themselves online, do they really know any better? Instead of a less personal, one-to-many message from the mass media to an audience, YouTube’s interface (along with other social media sites) dangerously opens an avenue for direct communication between society and the child. While, to some degree, we have experienced some struggles with adapting to this progressive technological climate, Gen Y youth is the first group raised from the start in the social media age. How will these kids, whose lives are entirely based around virtual communication, cope later on? If studies have already shown that today’s university students are becoming more apathetic and are developing stronger social anxieties due to Web 2.0, things are only going to get worse for future generations. The childhood has become the ultimate embodiment of the tamagotchi—a life trapped within the confines of a screen, where only a few buttons determine all experiences. If parents continue to succumb to the demands and values perpetuated by our iPad-obsessed society, children do not have the luxury to hit a restart button to escape—they may be stuck in the bright light for good.


The Power of Pop WORDS Emily Stewart

Have you ever blared a favourite song to drown your problems? Though few would admit to using popu-

lar music as an emotional crutch, it’s difficult to deny that playing an uplifting track can be good for one’s morale. I often find comfort in knowing that an artist cared enough to write relatable and uplifting lyrics about getting through tough times, especially in a musical climate where sensationalism and superficiality seem to be some of the biggest sellers. When pop musicians take the rare step away from the normalized drivel about relationships and parties, they put out a more personal song with a positive message.

Granted, this is not a recent trend. While many would use the example of Gaga’s “Born This Way,” the pop music industry is no stranger to motivational content. Consider Queen’s uplifting power ballads “I Want to Break Free,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and of course “We Are The Champions” - classics that have dominated the airwaves and inspired many to raise fists since Freddie first belted these tracks out in the 70s. Today’s pop music scene might be a far cry from the Queen era, but from Hedley’s “Anything” to Kelly Clarkson’s “People Like Us,” inspirational songs remain a staple in the pop artist’s repertoire. Motivating lyrics are not only a refreshing alternative in a musical climate chalk-full of songs about Cerulli’s claims highlight drinking, sex, and drug use (look no further than “Blurred Lines” for recent exa complex issue that differs amples of that), but they also provide something more meaningful - an emogreatly from to artist to arttional element that pop culture in generally devoid of. These songs reflect the ist. While he’s flattered fans are rare instances of celebrities mobilizing a medium in a way that promotes touched by his work, Cerulli conself-reflection and personal growth, which enables discourse around pertends that his music is a reflection of tinent social issues. Macklemore’s hit “I Can’t Change,” for example, is his personal experience and is not written a progressive step in a genre dominated by sexism and homophobia. with the purpose of providing listeners with emotional stability. He believes that while a Yet the trend towards such positive tracks has faced its fair share listener is free to draw personal meaning from a of criticism. Chris “Motionless” Cerulli, lead singer of the song, this does not make musicians responsible for American metal band Motionless in White, expressed his reaching out in an effort to console their audiences. frustration towards the subject on his Tumblr blog. Cerulli He says rather bluntly: “If in fact you were on the brink criticizes artists for selling out and consumers for naively of any self harming action…it was YOU who pulled yourself accepting what he feels is little more than a marketing from the ledge. You saved your own life, you are the hero. strategy. He likens this trend in the music indusWhy are people not willing to take credit for their own actions?” try to socially-conscious marketing employed by corporate brands. Cerulli writes, “Do people not realize they are being scammed? Are Still, does this mean we should condemn musicians who produce pospeople too stupid to see that the ‘mesitive messages? Music, pop or not, functions as an effective coping mechsage’ is a money-making, failsafe plan? anism. While pop songs might carry the reputation of being a lighter meThese bands and companies realize dium, its positively-inclined songs nevertheless leave listeners better off. It’s that people are responding heavily true that not all songs relate directly to fans, but that doesn’t mean individual to the ‘message’ thing and many listeners shouldn’t draw inspiration from them and can’t apply the lyrics to their of them have no problem usown circumstances. After all, isn’t this one of the most important social roles of ing that to their advantage.” art? Feeling inspired by positive lyrics in a pop song is no different than feeling the same way after reading a book or poem, looking at a photo series or watching a film. To ostracize pop music as a craft that can never be used positively, whether on a person al or broader social level, is to wrongfully vilely the medium. Musical therapy, though based in classical songs, has proven itself to have positive effects in hospital environments, and has been in practiced since the mid-fifties. Who’s to say that pop music can’t provide similar relief?


Awareness surrounding issues like bullying and mental health has increased in the past few years, and the music industry is beginning to take notice. Simple Plan’s organization, The Simple Plan Foundation, specializes in assisting troubled youth. The band explains that interacting with fans post-concert and reading emails made them aware of the mental health issues affecting teenagers. The band writes, “It breaks our hearts to see so many young people fighting to survive while feeling depressed or lost. We want our Foundation to help them find their way and show them that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, that things can get better.” Simple Plan’s well-received “This Song Saved My Life” is based on what fans wrote to the band in thanks for releasing music that had helped them through difficult times. The Canadian Mental Health Association reports the second leading cause of death for young Canadians aged 10-24 is suicide. With this saddening statistic in mind, it is evident that an immediate, accessible outlet - even a short-term one - is crucial. Music can often play that role, easing pain or stress through its simple melodic rhythm. Canadian electro-pop artist Lights told the Huffington Post Canada that her fans consistently write to her about their problems. “Maybe their family or friends don’t understand the weight of the scenario, so they’re telling someone like me who they don’t even know. That’s heartbreaking to me because there’s not really much I can do about it except for trying to encourage people to be confident and not ashamed of anything”. While Lights remains humble about the support she provides her fans, her situation demonstrates just how much listeners connect with her music. There’s no denying that the media industry profits hugely from the positive social engagement of entertainment. Giving Circles author Angela M. Eikenberry notes, “Many corporations that sign on for cause-marketing campaigns enjoy higher sales and wider publicity for their products and services, improve their image with consumers, expand their markets, and boost employee morale.” Yet in the case of music with a positive messages, perhaps selling out to mass audiences isn’t such a negative thing. Pop music is a powerful tool, having the potential to reach large, international audiences. Using such a vast medium can positively influence a vulnerable and impressionable youth and teen market. It’s true that songs won’t fix everything, but they can certainly help raise awareness and ease the pain.

Artwork by Eilidh Fisher


Bound 2 FAIL

WORDS Stephanie Gordon

Kanye West’s Journey into the Fashion Industry

Before you dismiss this article simply because it mentions the words ‘Kanye West’, I urge you to discard the neg-

ative impressions you might have about Kanye and take a moment to appreciate the insightful commentary hidden beneath his tantrums, rants, and leather sweatpants. Kanye West shouting “You ain’t got the answers Sway!” is probably the only thing the media asks you to remember from his interview with MTV’s Sway Calloway. The conversation between the two starts to heat up when the topic of fashion arises. Kanye talks about his endeavors with Nike, being marginalized by big brands, and his experience trying to break into the high fashion industry. Behind his radical statements such as “I am Shakespeare in the flesh,” there lies some truth. Kanye’s Nike stories provide a commentary on the power struggle between a musician’s autonomy and a corporation’s need to translate popularity into profit. Kanye emphasizes that a company would rather deal with ‘nice celebrities’ that are okay with taking a backseat in the production process rather than celebrities who wish to exert total creative control. As Kanye continues to passionately express his frustrations with the fashion industry, Sway asks the question that sparks it all – “Why don’t you empower yourself…do it [create a fashion line] yourself?” There is no question as to whether Kanye West has the money, so why doesn’t he just use his substantial funds to build an independent clothing brand? This is where he comments on the vicious cycle: the delicate balance of maintaining integrity, money, and relevance. If Kanye were to pursue fashion, he wouldn’t be able to make music as often as he needs to stay relevant or to sustain his main source of revenue. He recognizes that at the end of the day, somebody still signs his cheques. The prestige, and ultimately the markup of his brand, depends on his relevancy in the music industry, something that might be neglected he were to funding his fashion pursuits. In the interview, West notes it would be so much simpler if Nike just said, “The [Air] Yeezys [shoes] did good, that was a good job. Let me get you some more so you can start your own line because obviously people [are] lining up for it.” The issue here isn’t wanting to design a shirt, the issue is West wanting to design the best shirt. He is looking to break into the high fashion industry, to offer a higher level of quality from the start, which cannot be achieved with money alone. There are huge principal costs, and Kanye wishes to catalyze his success by using the existing economies of scales available to big brands. Sway talks about others who have started their own lines but West is stubborn in his reply: “it ain’t no Ralph though.” Money is not the only barrier of entry that Kanye faces. Fashion, at least high fashion, remains a predominantly white industry. There is also the lack of support from some of his fans as a result of the gay connotations that an interest in fashion denotes. They would rather he focus on the music instead of venture into other fields, while Kanye does not want his creativity pigeonholed to a single occupation. Another reason West may be finding it difficult to gain respect from the fashion industry is his public persona. The media chooses to publish headlines focusing on his ‘crazy rants’, rather than his ‘criticisms.’That being said, Kanye’s hasn’t worked on improving his public image, having done few interviews since 2010. Every time he does something ridiculous and unconventional, the public’s image of him is further tarnished: Kanye consistently fails to provide context for his actions.


In his mind, Kanye wants to better culture. He is not looking to work in collaboration with a corporation that seeks to reap the benefits from his celebrity status. His exaggeration and grandiose self-belief, however, perpetuate a persona that is uninviting to those he wishes to do business with. At first, Kanye’s failures appear to be his own. Yet it is important to acknowledge the structural complexities that prevent him from entering the high fashion industry. A volatile source of revenue dependent on his musical pursuits, a fabricated and unattractive public persona, race, and the inability to benefit from economies of scale are all weighing factors. Under more critical analysis, it is evident that the people at the top of the music, media, and fashion industry still maintain the real power, while Kanye just sings about it.

Girls on Film WORDS Samantha Roach

Greta Garbo. Ikea. The Cardigans. What will Sweden throw at us next? How about a film certification system based on gender representation?

Four Swedish theatres have recently begun using the Bechdel test, a method of identifying gender bias in fictional works. This movement has the support of the state-funded Swedish Film Institute, and will act as a model for a Swedish television station that plans to follow suit for films they broadcast. The test, created by American cartoonist Alison Bechdel and inspired by her friend Liz Wallace, and was first introduced in her 1985 comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. For a film to receive an A rating and pass the test, it must meet three criteria: the work must have two, named female characters, these female characters have to speak to each other, and they must speak about a subject other than men. Alleluias may spring forth from the mouths of those already familiar with the test, or of those who are simply tired of seeing the same mundane female characters in cookie cutter movie templates over and over again. Unfortunately, this is largely our reality because many Hollywood films fail the test, miserably. We have to remember, however, that gender representation is a complicated beast. The problem moves beyond the amount of films that fail to pass the test and onto the ones that do, which are not always deemed progressive or balanced. The Bechdel Test Movie List (at is a project that evaluates the passing or failing of Hollywood films. Titles that technically pass, such as The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, may fulfill the ranking system’s status as gender-balanced, but calling these films progressive is highly debatable. There you go ladies... everyone’s favourite vampire-obsessed, one-dimensional heroine, Bella Swan, passes the test! Problem solved. Or how about the recent Adam Sandler twin-trouble flick, Jack and Jill? Whenever I think of a strong female character, I think of Adam Sandler in a dress, don’t you? Even in a film I adore, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, mostly all the female characters have an attachment or obsession with Scott that leads to conflict centered around him. The husky-voiced, sexually powerful cinema queen Greta Garbo would not be amused. Just because a film or even television show passes the test does not guarantee that particular text is going to provide a balanced representation of gender. I mean, hell, if we look at the burgeoning terror of reality television (not technically fiction, your mileage may vary), the New Housewives series of shows would likely pass the test simply because the plethora of female ‘characters’ spew poison about each other. Am I saying the Bechdel Test is useless? Not at all. All I attempt to do is point out that this is certainly not a fix-all. However, the implementation of this test has sparked some discussion of how women are represented in film and which images we want to see of ourselves in on the big screen. I for one am very interested to see how this new certification system plays out. Thanks for getting the ball rolling, Sweden, but we’ll probably need a different instruction manual to put together the entertainment system on our side of the pond, perhaps one with a little more nuance.



It’s nearly the time of year that every first year student dreads:

house-hunting season Once you’ve dealt with the social conflicts that accompany housemate selection, you’re ready to begin the search. Try not to feel too overwhelmed while going through this process - eventually you will manage to find a place that meets your needs. It is also important to remember that you are not stuck in the location that you choose for the rest of your student experience, and it’s quite common for students to relocate after second year. Still, this spread is meant to be a brief guide to a few popular student housing areas in London, giving ideas of where to start looking.

Let the hunt begin! Kyle Simons



MASONVILLE AREA: Living near Masonville Place is a shopaholic’s dream. All of your clothing and nutrition needs are a short walk or bus-ride away. If you enjoy going downtown, however, it may be costly to arrange transportation home late at night; cab rides can add up and cost you a fortune. Taking the Mustang Express is a great way to cut that cost. Campus: 1.5 – 2 km Bus Routes: 13 & 10 Bus Frequency: 15 min. Groceries: 0.5 – 1 km Nightlife: 3.5 – 5km

WONDERLAND & SARNIA: Though out of the way of both campus and downtown London, living near Wonderland and Sarnia does have its advantages. There is easy access to both Masonville Place and White Oaks Mall, inexpensive housing options, and close proximity to Costco. This area is, unfortunately, relatively far from student bars. Campus: 2.5 – 3.5 km Bus Routes: 10 & 9A/B Bus Frequency: 14 min. Groceries: 0.5 – 3 km Nightlife: 5 – 6 km



Platt’s Lane is extremely close to the Cherryhill Village Mall, which bears the essentials of student life. While technically a mall, don’t expect much in terms of shopping, unless of course you are seeking a new nightgown. Living in this area requires mastering the 9 bus route, which changes course in the evening. Alternatively, the 2 bus route operates close by. Campus: 1.3 – 2.5 km Bus Routes: 9 & 2 Bus Frequency: 15 min. Groceries: 0.2 – 1 km Nightlife: 2.5 – 3.5 km




Finding a place near Western’s main gates makes getting to class as simple as a ten to twenty minute walk. If you’re a little lazier, you can still hop on a bus, but don’t expect there to be space for you after it has made its way down Richmond in the morning. This location isn’t conveniently close to groceries or nightlife, but public transit allows provides easy enough transportation downtown and to Masonville Place. Campus: 0.7 – 1.5km Bus Routes: 1, 6 & 13 Bus Frequency: 13 min. Groceries: 1.5 – 2 km Nightlife: 2 – 3 km

RICHMOND & OXFORD: This intersection provides a happy medium between proximity to campus, groceries, and nightlife. The 6 and 13 bus will take you to campus, there is a grocery store right at the intersection, and London’s student bars are a short walk away. This location is especially good for MTP students, as the 17 bus route runs along Oxford Street toward Fanshawe College. Campus: 2 – 3 km Bus Routes: 6, 13 & 17 Bus Frequency: 13 min. Groceries: 0.3 – 1 km Nightlife: 0.3 – 1.3 km

WHARNCLIFFE & OXFORD: (THE GOLDEN ARCHES) Close to all of your student needs, living near Wharncliffe and Oxford is extremely convenient. Though getting to Masonville is somewhat of a challenge, it makes for a short walk to the nearby grocery store and cheap cab rides on the weekend. If you are particularly fond of Gatsby, then you might be even more enticed by this area. This location also provides access to the 17 bus for MTP students. Campus: 2.5 – 3.2 km Bus Routes: 2 & 17 Bus Frequency: 9 min. Groceries: 0.6 – 1 km 24 Nightlife: 1.5 – 2.5 km

Miss Western Goose Takes Flight WORDS Kevin Hurren

Something monumental happened during Western’s homecoming weekend this year. It was more game-changing the Mustangs’ impressive win over the Queen’s Golden Gaels. It was more controversial than the police fine issued to a spirited cheerleading team. On that fateful weekend a glorious birth took place, and the Western campus would never be the same after @westerngoose made its first tweet on September 29th. The parody twitter account, calling itself “Miss Western Goose,” has been quacking ever since, and – assuming the twitter user is indeed female – she certainly does have a lot to say. With over 2,300 followers, Miss Western Goose reaches more than double the twitter audience of our University Students’ Council president, Pat Whelan. Miss Goose even received a nod in Whelan’s “A Seat at the Table” video released in early December. But as Miss Western Goose continues soaring to new heights, it’s important not to dismiss the feathered femme fatale as a passing joke. After all, what makes Miss Western Goose so popular? How has she been able to achieve longevity, maintaining a strong following over the last several months which is something that comedy accounts in general struggle with? First, it’s important to look at the type of humour Miss Western Goose utilizes in her tweets. With messages written in a short-form, misspelled style that would make even the most dedicated MSN users roll their eyes, Miss Western Goose takes advantage of “bitty” or stereotypic “white girl” culture. An amalgamation of Starbucks cups, designer sunglasses, and (purposefully ironic) Canada Goose jackets, Miss Western Goose represents the epitome of the spoiled, selfish, and fickle. Another subculture our favourite goose exploits in her tweets is the privileged, pretentious side of Western – specifically Ivey. Several of her tweets play with notions of exclusivity, power and wealth surrounding the business school and the faculty. And, finally, the third main element of Miss Western Goose’s persona is the bar scene in London. Developed with students in mind, the bars and clubs in London are an integral part of the overall Western student experience. Miss Goose knows this, and several of her most popular tweets involve references to specific downtown venues or drinking events. Does this all mean that Miss Western Goose is propagating an accurate depiction of Western life? Not necessarily, but something can be said about the popularity of such tweets on campus. What makes this twitter account so funny and ultimately so shareable is that we, as Western students, can indeed recognize ourselves in the image of Miss Western Goose. Her tweets aren’t jokes nor are they puns. Instead, they are an exaggeration of the superfluous, privileged, and partying culture Western is – reluctantly – perceived to have. In such ways, Miss Western Goose is not just another comedic twitter account or passing fad. The twitter account is an incredibly intelligent satire, acting as a kind of fun house mirror – making us laugh but at the same time forcing us to look at an only slightly distorted reflection of ourselves.


Degree Zombies WORDS Rachel Kelly

I agree that we need big guys, but we can only feed one. So who’s it going to be?”

It’s the beginning of finals. To relax, my roommates and I are having a very serious discussion about our plans for the impending zombie apocalypse. So serious that we are now killing off our friends. My roommate, Mercedes, considers for a minute but I have an answer ready. “Amgad. He’s in medical science. Jay is only in economics, he’ll be of no use to us when currency loses value,” I reason. Mercedes and Sabrina, my other roommate, solemnly nod in agreement. “We’ll also need Scott,” I continue. “He’s the only engineer we know, we’re going to need help with water and electricity.” “What about Brianne?” Sabrina suggests. “She’s in chemistry, she can make us bombs and stuff.” We all agree. I am not a science student, but if one semester in first-year chemistry gave one the ability to design bombs, I would be more wary of my friend Brianne. It’s no secret that certain stereotypes are attached to every degree. Sharing your program with someone opens you up to a plethora of generalizations: engineers are daredevils who like to party, FIMS are elitist hipsters, science students are the nerds who just want to end up doctors. But isn’t it impossible for every student in a program to fit a stereotype? Though an isolated incident, the conversation between my roommates and I poses an interesting question: are we our degree? Does what we choose to study say something about who we are? Would being a science major give you a life or death advantage in the zombie apocalypse? The question most frequently asked when choosing a program is what job opportunities your degree can create. Students tend to focus on their education as an end rather than a means. We think in terms of family expectations, what makes us happy, what makes us money, where we want to end up. But everyone’s priorities are different, and the motivators that direct us towards a certain program or major differ for everyone. If I cared more about making money, I could have applied to Med Sci or considered law school. If I cared more about what my father wanted, I would be in Math. What I wanted, however, was more important. So depending on your personal list of priorities, you could be in a different program - and that has little to do with you as a person. Assuming we’re all in charge of our own destiny, we all could have been engineers, math students, med sci students or anything else. What program we are in is ultimately the result of too many variables to define who we are. We are not that simple to explain. Even so, I asked my friends what I, a FIMS student, was contributing to our zombie plan. They looked at each other, then one offered the following: “You already know too much about the plan for us to kill you now.” Gee, thanks.


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OPENWIDE v14.3  

The January edition of OPENWIDE. Volume 14.3. The new NHL contract is discussed, FIMS alumni reflect on life after they graduated, and two o...

OPENWIDE v14.3  

The January edition of OPENWIDE. Volume 14.3. The new NHL contract is discussed, FIMS alumni reflect on life after they graduated, and two o...