Page 1


table of

CONTENTS GUEST FEATURE 4-5

4

Why Go to the Library It’s not because the library is a magical place full of wonders

WORLD

6

6-7

The Case for Travelling as a Student

8-9

PR Nightmares: Why the World Needs FIMS An explanation of how you will get a job similar to the one you will give your family at Thanksgiving dinner.

10

The Best Student Experience Spoiler Alert: This is an impossible thing to promise!

11-12

Get to Know the FIMSC Executive Team

13-14

D&R to Wortley Village

15

16

16-17

Analyzing Girl Boss in the FIMS Classroom

18-19

I Miss the Old Kanye

Girl Boss sucked and I need you to know why

The ideal playlist for intersectional feminists trying to have a good time

You are broke, but it is still possible to travel.

WESTERN LIFE 10

ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

CREATIVE 20

20

Golden Bird A short story.

21-22

FIMS Exchange Film Collage

23

Zine Canada

An exchange student’s collage.

A collection of headlines from across the nation

A bunch of fellow students begging you to send them emails.

Pop the dang Western bubble already

Map of FNB Better study spots than Weldon, guaranteed

How much do we control technology, and how much does it control us?

COVER ART // ANMOL CHANDLA


EDITOR’S NOTE KSENIA KOLODKA Welcome to Openwide’s frosh issue! Whether this is your very first day of university, or the first day of your final year, I wish you all the best!

EDITOR IN CHIEF

VERONICA CHEUNG

FIMS frosh: this year will be hard but it will teach you so many important lessons, not just in academics but in life!

MANAGING EDITOR

FIMS is going to change your life - you’ll be introduced to a plethora of theories that sometimes might not make sense, but they will shift your perspective in such a way that the Earth suddenly seems like a different planet. You’ll gain so much understanding and you’ll want to share it with everyone around you. Embrace this! It took me a long time to find my passion within the faculty but first year definitely provided a solid base that would host my future studies.

KIA ANDERSEN

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by your classes and your peers, so one piece of advice I have is to make friends with people outside your faculty! This will force you to appreciate different perspectives and lifestyles, and will shape you into a wiser student.

WORLD EDITOR

BRIENNA FRENCH ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

ALEX PRONG

WESTERN LIFE EDITOR

HANNAH ALBERGA

Take risks. Be attentive. Stay cautious. Question everything.

CREATIVE EDITOR

Sending all readers my love and good luck wishes, Ksenia Kolodka Editor in Chief - Volume 18

SARA MURPHY

LIKE FOLLOW WRITE FOR

US /

PROMOTIONS

BRIELLE GOULART facebook.com/OPENWIDEzine

PROMOTIONS

twitter.com/OPENWIDEzine writers.openwide@gmail.com

ANMOL CHANDLA GRAPHICS

Disclaimer: The sole responsibility of this publication lies with its authors. Contents do not reflect the opinions of the University Students’ Council of Western University (“USC”). The USC assumes no responsibility or liability for any error, inaccuracy, omission, or comment contained in this publication or for any use that may be made of such information by the reader.

TALA AL-RAMAHI WEB EDITOR


openWIDE // GUEST FEATURE

Why Go to the Library?

// PROF. GRANT CAMPBELL

“Everything’s online,” people tell us. Why should we go to the library? Why does anyone go to a library? Well, libraries are my business, and I’ve spent a lot of time in them. But let’s start by knocking down some of the wrong reasons for going to a library. “Because the library is a magical place full of wonders.” A library is a place full of books. Used books. People handle them. Fondle them. Write on them. Sneeze on them. Spill coffee on them. Also computer terminals, with keyboards that have had been fingered by so many people that you hope that proctologists have their own dedicated terminal. And chairs in which countless people have sat, lounged, slept, stretched out, cuddled together, and probably done other things. On the bright side: with the advent of social media hookup sites, the washroom cubicles aren’t as graphically informative as they were in my undergraduate days. “Because the library is a magnificent structure.” Some, I suppose. The New York Public Library is pretty cool, with those lions and that fabulous reading room. But a lot of university libraries are pretty darned ugly. Other things are more important. Does the roof leak? Is there enough room? Can the building support all sorts of new technologies? Librarians are pretty practical people: they prefer a building that does the job over a building that lifts the spirits.

Like it or not, libraries are physical buildings that hold physical objects. As such, they remind us that information is real. It may look like magic when you type words into a search engine and the stuff appears in fractions of a second. But the words you typed went to a massive index that pulled out data distributed among hundreds of server farms, all over the world, all of them drawing horrendous amounts of power, and transmitted through thousands of miles of fibre-optic cable. All of that happens behind the scenes, and you can’t see it. In a library, you can see the information. Shelves and shelves of it. You can see people moving it around, checking it in, shelving it, organizing it. You can see people using it, fighting over it, copying it. It’s wonderful. It’s also kinda gross. But then, whether it’s in physical form or digital form, information is wonderful, and kinda gross. It’s best you learn that right off the bat. What else do you see in a library? You see people. They’re reading. They’re studying. They’re meeting. They’re talking. It’s the whole idea of “the public sphere”: a public forum where people can interact and debate and exchange ideas and values. Pretty great, isn’t it?

4 // v.18

Well, yes, I suppose. But actually, what I really notice in a library is that people are real. There’s something about a library that causes people to relax their masks. And, just like information, people are pretty wonderful. And kinda gross.


openWIDE // GUEST FEATURE You’ll see all kinds of wonderful behaviour in a library. People help others who are staggering under a load of books. They’ll make room for each other in the elevator. They’ll speak in low, courteous tones. They’ll say “please” and “thank you.” Until they start concentrating. Then they make strange sounds between their teeth. Some people absently pick their noses, or squash a pimple. Some people clip their fingernails. They grunt, and sigh, and shift positions. And when they go home, they often leave little nests behind them: nests of pencil shavings, eraser debris, scraps of paper, chewing gum wrappers. It’s not very appealing. But it’s real. They’re not tweets; they’re not comments on a Facebook or blog post; they’re not the disembodied expressions of hatred and prejudice and blind stupidity. The people themselves are real. Wonderful, and kinda gross. When pundits talk about “big data,” they’ll get really excited about “data trails”: tracing online behaviour like keystrokes, social media “likes,” purchasing history, computer cookies, and so on. It can sound really glamorous, and, to be sure, there’s some exciting stuff happening there. It sounds really frightening when you hear stories of constant online surveillance, identity theft, and advertising that targets vulnerable people. Those stories are also worth heeding. But the library is a good place to visit, because it shows us what these fancy-sounding data trails really are: they’re the online equivalent of pencil shavings, eraser dust, and little scraps of things that we all secrete as we move through university. When all is said and done, “big data” is no more glamorous than digging stray loonies out from between the sofa cushions.

But something else is real, and it’s the real reason to go to the Library. Librarians. They too are real people: flawed in lots of ways, but real. And you can meet them and talk to them and get them to help you. Most of our online information is curated behind the scenes by algorithms that make assumptions about what you want. Sometimes they’re accurate. Sometimes they’re not. But you can’t see those algorithms; you can’t talk to them; you can’t explain to them what you want, and why. There’s lots wrong with libraries. Their classification systems are complicated and sometimes outdated; their materials are sometimes heavily used, or not there when you want them; they don’t deliver things right to your door. But here’s something I learned very early on: the learning process begins by resisting something you can see. You’re more powerful, more self-reliant, and more articulate, after you’ve spotted and resisted the imperfections of a real, working system, than you are after silently accepting a system that you can’t see. Visit the university’s libraries. Talk to the librarians. Keep it real.

// Grant Campbell is an Associate Professor in FIMS who teaches courses that explore the theory and practice of information organization and retrieval.

5 // v.18


openWIDE // WORLD

//LEYA DE N

IL

Travelling is often touted as an unforgettable experience and you get told that those who do not travel are missing out, however the idea of travelling as a student is often overwhelming – from the amount of money it will cost, to the fear of finding yourself in the unknown. The summer after first year was the first time that I had travelled without the safety blanket of a parent; the responsible adult that kept all your tickets together, that had a larger budget than any student, and had an itinerary that made it possible for me to just follow along. All of a sudden I was that responsible ‘adult’ without a safety blanket to fall back on, and travelling seemed much more daunting than ever before. The thought of travelling as a student is extremely exciting... at first. Soon, doubt comes creeping in, and you are making lists of everything that can go wrong and everything that you need to plan for. But let me say something that probably many have said to you before – don’t let that fear stop you. As a student it is easy to make excuses not to travel: lack of money, time, inexperience, or fear. What many often fail to realize is that travelling 6 // v.18

doesn’t have to be a daunting task, but can serve as an emotional escape – something that is sometimes necessary, especially as a university student. Over the past year I have been on exchange in London, England, and now I have done my fair share of travelling to both new and old places. Through my trips, and because I was living in a notoriously expensive city, I had to travel on an extremely tight budget. Travelling can be expensive, but I have learned that it doesn’t always have to be. Not only does the cost of a trip depend on the destination, but also on the way you travel. As university students most of us are on a budget; however, don’t let that be the reason you don’t grasp the chance. Yes, flights are not always cheap, but there are many ways to make up that money once you arrive. I have found that many cities provide ways for people on a budget to enjoy themselves just as much, or even more, than those that may not have such a tight budget restraint. Often by looking for ways to save money when travelling you will find yourself stumbling upon local favourites as opposed to tourist destinations, which will ultimately make your experience that much more memorable and authentic. This is not the only trick that I have used over the past year, I would highly recommend to anyone travelling on a student budget to:


1 2 3 4 5 6

Do your research!

openWIDE // WORLD

Prepare as much as you can, find the free or less expensive things to do wherever you may be travelling; not only will that allow you to get a grasp on the city, but it will also allow you to budget your expenses before you arrive. Research and find the cheapest ways of travelling around or between countries/places – often this will involve an inter-rail, buses or trains and will save you money which will be worth the extra time. Airbnb, groupons, and weekday flight discounts can be your best friend.

Stay outside the city

This is often cheaper than staying downtown and provides you with a local experience. You will find yourself in an area with locals as opposed to tourists.

Walk

Even when staying a little outside of the city center I would highly recommend walking whenever you can, this will save you money (and stress) spent on public transport.

Free walking tours These are an amazing way to see any city and I have never travelled anywhere where they have not been offered.

Bring your UWO student card As university students we also have the advantage of having student cards, which will become your best friend while travelling. Ask everywhere you go if they have a student discount, because more often than not there will be one – another perk of travelling as a student!

Don’t be afraid to put down the map and get lost Often the most memorable experiences I have had while travelling have been those where I put down my phone and just walked. Getting lost is not something to be afraid of and often you will stumble into something, whether it be an entire neighbourhood or merely a single café that the map would have never lead you towards.

Being a student at university is a learning experience, however, the classroom can only teach you so much. Not only is travelling a beneficial learning experience, but you will never have as much free time as is given to you throughout university. Of course classes, volunteering, work and/or internships take up time, but ultimately you have less restrictions now than you will have in the future, so don’t take the ability to travel for granted. I truly believe that travelling has taught me just as much as, if not more than, my university courses and it has overall cost me less. Travelling is in itself an educational experience and one that is far too beneficial to be defined by a price tag. 7 // v.18


openWIDE // WORLD

Why the World needs FIMs A Letter to Incoming FIMS Students

//Kia Andersen Congratulations! You made it into FIMS – an acronym that you will soon get tired of explaining to people. You have worked hard to get here and are probably both excited and nervous to begin your academic journey with the faculty. Something about the program has sparked your academic interest and I hope that you pursue whatever it was to the fullest. However, you will inevitably face questions about what you will do with your degree. It can be hard to visualize where a FIMS degree fits into the world, especially when entering the program. When I began first year, the classes were captivating but I could not see how they fit into the job market or the so-called real world. Which, as I am sure you must know, is a scary feeling. Luckily 2017 has already provided us with a slew of high profile examples of just how much the world needs minds from programs like FIMS. We often don’t notice when advertising goes well, but we certainly notice when it goes wrong. Take for example the Kendall Jenner and Pepsi collaboration. The now infamous ad makes a mockery of the power of political protest and rides on the backs of the enthusiasm garnered by protesters for commercialization. Many read the ad as an offensive recreation of a Black Lives Matter protest. It is hard to understand how no one on the advertising team stopped the ad or raised concerns about its insensitivity. Perhaps some of the people who worked on the project knew it was a bad idea but were too afraid to raise concerns. How the ad got on air is a mystery, but the style and tone of it is far from new. 8 // v.18


openWIDE // WORLD The strategy of commercializing social and political movements is a senior advertising tactic. Karl Marx’s concept of cultural hegemony describes the way in which the ruling class dominates culturally in order to ensure the ruling class’s continued survival. These advertising tactics are a part of the cultural hegemonic agenda to absorb raw movements and sell them back to the people who started them. The field of public relations operates within this uncomfortable space. Corporate public relations experts manage how to package this consumerism in a way that disguises it from the truth. But now, truth is a hot topic. Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer’s almost comical lies have helped foster growing public concern for truth. I think that this concern is promising. Public opinion seems to be turning against these old tactics. This is changing the way companies are advertising. In the fall of 2016, Facebook launched an educational campaign to try and teach people how to “spot” fake news, and websites that expose fake news stories such as Snopes.com have been growing in popularity. I think that the continued negative reactions to these traditional practices show signs that the market is opening up for programs like FIMS. FIMS often operates in a postmodern world of greys, an often uncomfortable position between trying to better the reality we are in while simultaneously criticizing it. The general public is starting to reject political movements being repackaged as happy-go lucky commercials aimed at pacifying and commercializing real movements. The troubled notion of philanthrocapitalism, the idea that social movements can be spearheaded and fixed solely by the capitalist system, will continually be challenged as social justice movements continue. I think that we may be entering an era of ethical public relations where companies need to practice what they preach to escape criticism of the public. This may just be a FIMS pipe dream, but I think that there is increasing value in ethical media and public relation campaigns that aim to better the world we live in. Upon graduation, many FIMS students face the uncomfortable reality that they will have to contribute to an industry that they have spent four years criticizing. What I hope these examples of public outcry towards unethical and wildly insensitive advertising points to is a shift in public opinion. A shift towards more honest and productive forms of advertising and media work. As FIMS students we are aware of an interdisciplinary and intersectional approach to these topics and can provide a fresh outlook for a changing industry.

9 // v.18


openWIDE // WESTERN LIFE

Anmol Chandla // Alex Prong

Map of FNB

10 // v.18


openWIDE // WESTERN LIFE

The Best Student Experience 3, 240 km from home, there was no point relying on recruitment slogans. I am not an optimistic person; nor will I ever pretend to be, but my inability to recognize the positive features of my life during my first year served as a great and detrimental disadvantage to my overall experience. In truth, attitude shifts focus and perspective. This is something that I realized much later than necessary. Entering Year 1 at UWO was exciting, because I could finally live on my own and deal with myself by myself. A classic sense of utter freedom and weightlessness. In stark contrast were the emerging feelings of inadequacy, unfamiliarity and general discomfort; weight. Living in residence, in my opinion, is a crucial experience. I was surrounded mostly by cool people who were very different from me, who had lived and were living very different lives than me. At some level, I think I began to compare all the new people I was meeting with my friends from home, which made me cynical. They were not my friends from home, they were not at all like me. It made me feel angry, and then stupid for comparing very different people to an unfair standard. Despite this, it was comforting to see others continuing while being completely uncertain of how to myself. It all seemed drenched in impermanence. Nothing seemed solid or palpable, because I had left everything I was sure of at home. I was in a deep emotional limbo. I was uncomfortable with the fact that I had left my two younger sisters at home to come to university; it almost seemed selfish. I was uncomfortable with the fact that I had left my best friends during a difficult time in all of our lives. After spending so long

// SHARANYA MENON

developing these incredible relationships with people who know me, who are me (basically), being on the other side of the country trying to replicate them seemed fraudulent. Being sure of myself, of my new friends, and of my decisions, was always an attempt, never a reality. There was a lot of weird self-inflicted doubt that is still difficult to verbalize. All in all, it was a rough year, a lot of new things for someone who had convinced herself that she could handle it. Ultimately, I, like, spent the year, like, realizing.

I can recognize now that everyone has to drift through these highly sore emotions before finding ground. Further, the use of past tense is entirely deliberate. I am in a much more “sure� place now. I have settled for what I can control, which is myself. I can cope with abandonment and failure, with loss and the precipitation of my insecurities. Maybe not entirely, but in some part, with confidence. 11 // v.18


openWIDE // WESTERN LIFE

The FIMS Student Council (FIMSSC) is a group of undergraduate volunteers who are working hard to make FIMS the best program it can be. This includes planning great events, helping you study for exams, creating the best faculty apparel on campus, and advocating for student rights. Keep up to date by liking the “Fimssc” Facebook page and coming out to meetings, but in the meantime, get to know this year’s executive team!

EMMA COATES PRESIDENT OW: In FIMS we read work by a lot of different theorists. Do you have one that you could single out as your all-time favourite? One that changed the way you see the world?

ecoates6@uwo.ca OW: When can frosh contact you?

EC: Derrida’s “the center is not the center,” is WAY COOL! It is a concept that makes you reconsider the way you think about the structures we’re surrounded by everyday. Derrida’s writing is an attempt to problematize structuralism: a way of conceptualizing society as a bunch of structures that order human beings into different roles within the structures. As with most thinkers in FIMS, Derrida wants people to realize that it’s more complicated than that! There is no binary being vs structure - the people within structures influence and change the structure and vice versa.

EC: Contact me ANYTIME if you’re looking to get involved, have questions about what the heck you got yourself into, or feel as though something could be done differently. I can help by assisting you to advocate for what is important to you. Together we can make change in our own faculty (FIMSSC) or on a larger scale at Western (USC).

VP COMMUNICATIONS REBECCA MCLAREN OW: Coming into FIMS, it can be intimidating that most of your courses will be essay-based. However, as most upper-year students know, this basically means you get to choose to study things that you are passionate about. Do you have a favourite essay that you’ve written for FIMS? RM: In first year, I wrote an essay arguing that deodorant is not a simple and binary idea, but a normalized network of social interactions and standards. One of my second year papers compared a Ceeps bar photo to Bentham’s concept of panopticon by focusing on the layout of the bar and the behaviour of guests - bar photos and deodorant, my two true passions.

mclarenrebecca@hotmail.com

OW: When can frosh contact you? RM: Slide into the FIMSSC Facebook dms if you have questions about events or getting involved. Tell me what interests you and show me articles that relate to what you're learning about in class - I'll share all this stuff online!

12 // v.18


VP EVENTS

openWIDE // WESTERN LIFE

OLIVIA KEAST

OW: Speaking to FIMS students, a common thread seems to be a love for the professors in our faculty. Do you have professors that have had an impact on you? OK: It’s hard to choose, but I've narrowed it to Romayne Smith Fullerton. Her passion for teaching and academics warms my heart. In 3100, we talked about the different ways that journalists cover news stories and how this benefits or oppresses certain groups. We learned Habermas’ separation of systems world and life world. Because journalists work

for profit, they belong to the systems world - that of rationality, efficiency, and logistics. They then have to filter the news of those in the lifeworld, much of which can’t be quantified or proven and so is devalued. This has altered the way I read the news - now I ask whose voice and type of reasoning is being prioritized, and whose is being left out.

okeast@uwo.ca

OW: When can frosh contact you? OK: Frosh can contact me when they have an idea for a FIMS event, or when they have any questions about the upcoming hip happenings in the faculty. Other than that, frosh should just contact me to say “hey” so that I can get to know them, because who doesn’t love new friends?!

MATTHEW CONACHER

VP FINANCE

OW: Although FIMS gives lots of electives, the required courses tend to be very interesting as well. Do you have a favourite course of the 3.5 required in first and second year? MC: That’s a tough one! My favourite FIMS class would definitely have to be MIT 2200 - Mapping Media and Cultural Theory. Learning about the cultural theorists who influence the way we think and act is a cool opportunity. As a required course, MIT 2200 will give you an in-depth look into the ideas of theorists Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, and even cha boi Karl Marx.

mconach2@uwo.ca

OW: When can frosh contact you? MC: Hit me up if you have an idea for an event or workshop and require funding. I’ll do my best to get you the resources you need from the University Students Fund (USF) in order to make your student-run initiatives and event ideas a reality.

VP ACADEMIC

TANYA SAHNI

OW: When students get into their upper years, they tend to become more and more excited about what they are writing their essays on. Do you think you could pick a favourite essay? TS: It's so difficult to think of my favorite essay because I have a lot of love for most of them. It honestly would have to be a tie between two papers: the first was for MIT 3218 - Technology, Democracy, and Postwar America, in which I discussed the politics of nostalgia and how experiencing nostalgia is something of privilege; the second paper was on El Salvador, describing how economic remittances to the country are aiding in making the country vulnerable to exploitation by the global north.

sahnitanya@hotmail.com

OW: When can frosh contact you? TS: A student can contact me when they have any concerns/questions/feedback related to academics. Whether that be about course material, professors, classes in general, graduation, or extra-curricular opportunities within FIMS. However, I want to stress that my role is in no way limited to these things as there is a lot that "academics" encompasses, so any student can reach out with any problem they may have. Specifically for our frosh, any questions regarding progression requirements, how to get involved, what resources are available, how to use different services, or internships would all be directed to me.

13 // v.18


openWIDE // WESTERN LIFE

o t R D& e g a l l i V y e l t r o W //Hannah Theodore

A day-plan for exploring London

So you’re walking down Richmond Row. Maybe you’ve made it as far as the Starbucks at Central. Where to next? Having time to kill in a city like London can be daunting, or if you’re like me and you moved here from Toronto, maybe a little underwhelming. But after living here for the better part of four years, London has slowly begun to unravel before my eyes as the Southern Ontario hub for art, music, food, nightlife, and community, far beyond the confines of campus. So, how do you make the most of a day in London? Well first off, skip the Starbucks and head for Covent Garden Market. There you’ll find Hasbeans, the incredible coffee shop located by the Talbot Street entrance to the buzzing downtown market. While there, explore the local vendors and restaurants – Thai Delight is always my first choice. And while you could easily kill an entire morning in Covent Garden, London is, as they say, calling.

Next, head to Dundas and Richmond - the infamous D&R. Directly across the street from the iconic London Music Hall is thrift boutique Filthy Rebena, a small but elegant shop that’s all too easy to get lost in. On Sundays the lovely ladies that run this unique spot offer complimentary coffee and Oreos to anyone in store, to keep you full and fueled while you scour the racks of luxury but affordable vintage attire ($25.00 vintage denim, hello!). With some fresh vintage digs in hand, head across Dundas to explore Attic Books, a three story used bookshop with thousands of hidden gems under $10.00. After that, it’s a trip next door to Grooves Record Store, London’s best stop for rare and unexpected music finds, and if you’re lucky, live music. After all that shopping, you’ll be hungry, so hit up London’s proudest achievement, vegan fast food restaurant, Globally Local. What began as a lone food truck serving entirely plant-based versions of Big Macs and pulled pork sandwiches, has now evolved into a local phenomenon. Their menu is packed with

14 // v.18


openWIDE // WESTERN LIFE tasty vegan options that would turn even the toughest carnivores into herbivores for a day. As much as downtown has some amazing things to offer, there’s even more interesting spots to explore just east on Dundas at Adelaide, better known as Old East Village. It’s quieter there and it’s justa quick journey on the familiar 2 Bus, but the fun finds are far from lacking. Grab a pastry (or two) at The Boombox Bakeshop, loose leaf tea at Wisdom Tea, Booch Organic Kombucha at Rootcellar, and explore the several antique shops that line Dundas in this ever-changing neighbourhood.

DOAM at Oxford and Adelaide, an intimate house venue that has been opening its doors to local and visiting bands for years. For something a little livelier, try Call The Office, located at York and Clarence. Wednesday nights often feature a live indie showcase with free admission, offering artists in London a chance to share their music without pressure or pay. Feel like trying your hand at being on stage? The London Music Club offers a weekly open mic in their funky basement bar and coffee shop, as well as live music on the main floor of their hard-to-find (but-totallyworth-the-search) house venue.

Dinner time? There’s no better neighbourhood in London for amazing food than Wortley Village. My personal favourite spot in this quaint part of town is vegan restaurant Plant Matter Kitchen, but other notable dinner stops include The Wolfe on Wortley, Sweet Onion Bistro, and The Old South Village Pub.

After a day of shopping, eating, and live music, it’s hard to imagine a time that I ever thought London had nothing to offer me. Far beyond the stretch between Masonville Mall and The Ceeps, there is a city waiting to be discovered by more Western students, with locals who proudly want to share it with us. So go explore and see what your own perfect day in London Live music is London’s specialty, and the looks like. I promise you’ll find it. perfect way to end your day. Check out the

15 // v.18


openWIDE // ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Analyzing GIRL BOSS in the FIMS Classroom // Brienna French

FIMS is about critical thinking, and one of the great things about this is that there is no shortage of media to criticize; you’ll always have new problematic material for your assignments. Netflix’s recent series Girl Boss is an excellent example of media you can analyze within the FIMS classroom. Girl Boss, created by Kay Cannon, is “loosely” based off of Sophia Amoruso’s autobiography #GirlBoss, on the creation of clothing brand Nasty Gal, originally a vintage clothing site, on eBay. Girl Boss’ producers, such as Charlize Theron, boasted its ability to invoke change through female empowerment during promotions, however, many critics have found it to be everything but empowering. With a premise rooted in pop feminism, many key concepts relating to cultural studies, a key component in MIT, are applicable to Girl Boss. Here, I list MIT concepts and apply them to the disappointing first season of Girl Boss.

The Male Gaze Theory In 1975, Laura Mulvey created the Male Gaze Theory, where audiences are forced to consume cinema through the perspective of a heterosexual man. The male gaze occurs when camera movements focus on and follow the curves of the female body. Many Hollywood films are shot from the perspective of this gaze, including many self-proclaimed feminist ones, such as Girl Boss. There are many instances of the gaze throughout the series. For example, its main character, Sophia Marlowe, is often seen trying on her products as the camera lingers on her body.

The Bechdel Test Coined by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, the Bechdel Test is applied to cinema to measure gender inequalities. To pass, a film must have at least two women that have a conversation about anything other than a man. Despite the simplicity of these requirements, many films and series, including self-proclaimed feminist ones, do not pass. Girl Boss’ main character is a woman, who often discusses business with her female friend, so yes, the series does pass the Bechdel Test. Despite this, it is important to note that passing the Bechdel Test does not necessarily make cinema feminist.

White Feminism The premise of Girl Boss lies within sympathizing with a narcissistic, privileged capitalist in the name of female empowerment. Essentially, this is white feminism. Girl Boss is self-branded as empowering for the sheer reason that the female main character followed her entrepreneurial dreams, while disregarding the privileged aspects of her life that allowed her meet her goals. This tone-deaf approach to feminism is dangerous, and suggests the show is trying to profit off a movement. Oh, there’s nothing I enjoy more than picking apart cinema for white feminism. 16 // v.18


openWIDE // WESTERN LIFE

Precarious Labour Precarious labour can be defined as unreliable employment. This is a big term in MIT, in regards to the political economy aspect, as many of the jobs within the culture industries are precarious. In Girl Boss, Sophia’s work in creating Nasty Gal and relying on selling goods online is an excellent example of precarious labour. In the early stages of Nasty Gal, her ability to pay rent is dependant on her products selling. This is an accurate portrayal of many jobs today, and ties in with neoliberalism, as participating in precarious labour is now considered a necessary step to “make it” in the professional world.

Neoliberalism Neoliberalism tells people they can achieve anything through hard work. Girl Boss’ glorification of precarious labour for potential “success” is exactly this. When Sophia starts to generate profits off eBay, she becomes obsessed with money. From crying over it to having sex on a pile of it, Sophia’s character supports the neoliberalist ideology upon becoming “self-made”.

Mass Cultural Production As you’ll learn when studying the work of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, mass cultural production occurs within Hollywood as standardized cinema with homogenous products, plots, and stars who dominate mainstream media. Adorno and Horkheimer argued in the 1940s that this is killing the art of cinema. I think Girl Boss counts as an example of this, as its stereotypical characters and comedic, “empowering” plot have been done in countless other cinema, despite the producers’ belief it could invoke change through its supposedly unique premise.

As you can see through this brief analysis, Girl Boss is a problematic show. While it is more than okay to consume, and even enjoy, problematic content, it is also important to remain critical. Being aware of the underlying theories and ideologies that cinema is rooted in is necessary for this, and FIMS is here to teach you this!

17 // v.18


openWIDE // ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

I M I S S T H E O L D K A N Y E I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS THE OLD KANYE I M I S S T H E O L D K A N Y E I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS THE OLD KANYE

I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS THE OLD KANYEI MISS I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS THE OLD KANYEI MISS I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS THE OLD KANYEI MISS I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS THE OLD KANYEI MISS I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS THE OLD KANYEI MISS I MISS THE OLD KANYE I MISS I MISS THE OLD KANYE

//Lena Gahwi

THE THE THE THE THE THE THE THE THE

OLD OLD OLD OLD OLD OLD OLD OLD OLD

KANYE KANYE KANYE KANYE KANYE KANYE KANYE KANYE KANYE

Here is a playlist from an intersectional feminist who is still trying to have a good time.

Green Light, Lorde

Humble, Kendrick Lamar

Lorde makes good music, and she makes me feel so much cooler than I actually am. Green Light is a good anthem to remind you to let stuff go! Something we could all learn to do. It is a story of a breakup, and I don’t know about you, but I connect pretty hard. Lorde’s brand of empowerment tends to be very ‘white feminist’-y and I am no fan of that, but this song is thoroughly enjoyable. It makes me dance alone in my room with a great deal of vigour which is always necessary and very fun.

This is a fire song, with a visually entertaining music video by Kendrick Lamar who I’m such a big fan of that I usually find it hard to be too critical. But here are a few points: Is it feminist that he sings about stretch marks? No. Is it a revolutionary statement? No way. Is it problematic that he uses a conventionally attractive light skinned woman in the video when attempting to talk about ‘real women’ (whatever that means)? Yes. (Side note: Can we please stop praising men for making half hearted attempts at empowering women? Ok, thanks.) However, this song will get you pumped, and that is necessary when you are trying to finish that essay that you left to the last minute. So, when you start freaking out, listen to this song, then sit down and write.

Any Song by Beyoncé I realize that not everyone is a Beyoncé fan, and although I find this fact to be confusing, I will respect it and proceed to ignore it. Beyoncé has come into her own in recent years and has become a major feminist icon. Or at least as much as an incredibly affluent celebrity can be a feminist icon, so, please take that title with a large grain of salt. 18 // v.18

However, she stands as an example of how regardless of fame and success, black women remain to be under fire for simply existing. Her most recent pregnancy showcased the vile critique black mothers are subjected to on a daily basis. This reality is incredibly demoralizing, but the solution can only be to listen to Beyoncé’s entire discography on repeat in order to forget about it.


E E E E E E E E E E

openWIDE // WESTERN LIFE

I love Kanye, Kanye West I love Kanye West’s music. Maybe I shouldn’t have this in print, because I know I will get flack for it, and I totally deserve it. Kanye West is incredibly problematic as a person, and so is his work. He is sexist, racist, and so out of touch with the real world… it blows my mind. But, he makes good music, he is a talented human being. It is highly disillusioning when a black man with such a powerful platform uses it to support those who wish to dismantle society’s safety nets, and seek to incite fear in our hearts. It strikes me as odd that someone who creates art that centres around the black experience doesn’t really understand it, and supports those that wish to make it more difficult. However, this is not a new critique;, people have been saying this for years. There is no doubt about the issues with Kanye and his work. You will come to realize that all of your studies will push you to be more critical about the world around you, this is what you’ve come to learn at Western. However, this doesn’t mean that you cease to enjoy the things you love. You must be cognisant of the real life effects of the actions of those like Kanye West, and you must be vigilant in calling them out, and fighting them as best you can. That being said, we live in a volatile time, and this gets really difficult sometimes. bell hooks would agree that you can enjoy the work of your problematic fave as long as you remain critical. Love what you love, but don’t forget the bigger picture.

Cherry Wine, Hozier

Folk-Metaphysics, Milo

White dudes with long hair and guitars are my guilty pleasure. I sometimes wonder if it’s ok for me, an Arab woman in women’s studies, to love this type of music so much. Conclusion: yes. Yes, it is. There is no such thing as a right or wrong preference especially when it comes to music. Part of the dehumanization that people of various minorities face is when they are generalized. People of colour are not a monolith; this is a ridiculous assumption. So I say, you should proudly blast Hozier regardless of who you are because that dude is great.

This is one of my favourite songs. I find Milo (Rory Ferreira) to be incredibly intelligent and I think it is exciting when you are listening to music and the artist references the obscure philosophers you have to read in class and can never imagine how they fit into the real world. Occasionally you need to listen to some melancholic sounding human singing on a track. This is a good late night studying type of song, or, I would highly recommend listening to it on low volume and reflecting on life. I just really vibe with this song, and I need to share it. You are welcome.

While trying to choose songs for this list, it became clear that the majority of my music is made by black individuals. This is both intentional and unintentional. Most of the genres I listen to were created by black people, and rightly, continue to be dominated by them. They have historically and in large part continue to be a critique of white supremacy and a symbol of black struggle. It is important to point out that since entering the mainstream, much of that history has been brushed to the side for the sake of profit. People like me are claiming the music as their own and listening to it without thinking about the consequences. This is not only harmful but downright impossible. We cannot appropriate this music without knowing about its past and what it stands for. There is no Taylor Swift on this playlist. I think it is important to point that out because it is in fact, a statement. 19 // v.18


openWIDE enWIDE // CREATIVE

e g n a h c x E e i Auss in Film // Chelsea Clifford // Hannah Alberga

Arrival in Sydney, Australia: Sydney Opera House

Queen Victoria Building, Sydney CBD

Architecture in the Central Business District

20 // v.18

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Rented a van and set off on a camping trip to Jervis Bay with some mates

Camping Weekend - Burning Palms Beach, NSW


openWIDE // CREATIVE

Everyday Australian precautions

The 12 Apostles / Great Ocean Road - Princetown, Victoria

met 2 Australian surfers at a campsite, they helped us pitch our tent - we instantly became friends

Off to the Royal Randwick Horse Races - The Championships

Erskine Falls - Lorne, Victoria

Surf Camp Australia in Gerroa, NSW - Weekend Trip

Domestic flights

Melbourne, Australia: Brighton Beach Boxes

21 // v.18


openWIDE // CREATIVE

“It’s about Miles.” Mary interrupted the silence.

Golden Bird

She was clenching George’s arm so firmly that his leather jacket was left with the imprint of her hand. He opened his mouth for a moment, but then pursed his lips and started whistling to a song lingering in his head. Following their usual path at the art gallery, their first stop was the exhibit of the month. “What do you think is going on with our son?” She concentrated to maintain a smooth voice. George separated from his wife to look at a painting of children. The kids were gathered into two groups and painted faceless, but the scene was still very clear. A group of hockey players were triumphantly covered in ice with white debris glistening on their uniforms. The second group was figure skating on a separate rink, some were balancing on one leg, and others were skillfully twirling. One child was walking between the two rinks. George imagined the kid looking with uncertainty at the hockey players, and then at the figure skaters, but he couldn’t see the child’s face. Mary stood behind George and admired the figure skaters. But when he turned around she focused on the painting beside it. She knew what he was going to say. “See there are the hockey players, and the figure skaters, and then there’s that kid.” He pointed to the painting. “You’re talking nonsense. And keep it down, we’re in the gallery,” Mary hushed. George separated his lips to justify the remark, but then exhaled a single, deep chuckle instead. He walked across the room to a grey sculpture of a ballerina poised in ‘first position.’ “I remember my very first ballet recital.”

22 // v.18

//HANNAH THEODORE

Mary tried to straighten her hunched shoulders. George squatted so that he was at eye level with the ballerina’s feet, which were pointed outward. He looked at his wife, who was examining her hands and pulled out a nail file from her purse. He was still thinking about the first painting—the child standing between the two rinks, eyes lingering on the figure skaters. Then he had an idea. Angling his own feet out and raising his hands, he replicated the ballerina’s position. His wife finished filing her nails and looked up. “What are you doing,” she shrieked. “We’re in the gallery, don’t raise your voice.” “George!” “Is my ballet bothering you?” He asked. “Because you act like this, you make Miles think it’s okay…” She stopped, unsure of how to finish the sentence.

“You’re right dear, my open mind is like a dagger.” He violently threw up his hands as if releasing a blast of confetti in the air. “I should say: son, you will be a business man, wear a suit, marry your high school sweetheart, and have two to three kids.” “That’s what you did!” “Right.” A security guard standing in the corner noticed the animated discussion. He started walking in their direction, but then saw the clock on the wall indicated it was his coffee break and exited the room. Now, George was slowly circling the sculpture with arms held behind his back, straight posture, and toes pointed. Mary

pretended to be looking at a painting of a fruit bowl while watching George in her peripheral vision. He began to twirl and sashay around the ballerina. Performing a grand jeté, he gained height and almost hit the ceiling. She turned around. “George. Stop it or I’m leaving!” Mary clenched her teeth so tight that George could hear them grind together like a knife scratching a ceramic plate. She shoved her arms into her sheepskin coat at an urgent pace and accidentally placed one into the hood. Then buttoned it up, wrapped a purple silk scarf around her neck in a single swift motion, and tied it in a very tight knot. But she didn’t leave. As Mary was getting dressed in her coat, George walked to the next room. The ceiling was a skylight, a bright contrast to the pot lights at the last display. Paper birds of all different colours hung from thin silk threads attached to the ceiling. Some were maroon; others were silver, or copper. Mary followed him and sat down on a wooden bench. “I’m serious. No more joking around. We need to talk about Miles.” George looked up and focused on a golden bird staggered lower than all the others. He could reach it. After quickly checking if any security guards were in sight, he softly stroked the bird’s head. “It’s all up in the air. Look, every one is different and it’s beautiful. The birds didn’t choose to fly and they didn’t choose their colours either, someone else did.” He approached his wife, more serious now, the most he had been all day. “Mary, he’s our son.” He gazed up at the golden bird, leaned in close to his wife, retrieved the nail file from her open purse, and cut him free.


openWIDE // CREATIVE

ZINE CANADA

SILENTLY WONDERING, “WHY BOTHER?” SINCE 1906

DRY O-WEEK SPENT LOOKING FOR THE BEST PLACE TO HIDE ALCOHOL Solution: anywhere with foliage

ROOMMATES REALIZE THEY’LL NEVER TALK AFTER FIRST YEAR ENDS …. Wait, these are supposed to be jokes?

FRESHMEN CHECK MINIMUM AVERAGE REQUIREMENTS AFTER FIRST LECTURE And again after the intro assignment

PARENTS RUSHED OUT OF RESIDENCE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE

... As student scrambles to find true personality on move in day

STUDENT SPENDS ALL OF MOVE IN DAY PLANNING WHICH POLAROIDS AND STRING LIGHT DECOR TO PUT UP Martha Stewart approved

FROSH REALIZES O-WEEK PERSONALITIES WERE ALL FACADES *Single tear*

HIGH SCHOOL SWEETHEARTS BREAK UP TO HAVE THE FULL WESTERN EXPERIENCE They will rekindle again in April

FROSH CARRIES GUITAR EVERYWHERE IN HOPES THAT THE RIGHT MOMENT WILL PRESENT ITSELF Anyway, here’s Wonderwall

STUDENT IN RESIDENCE FINDS HERSELF Loses all her socks in communal laundry

FROSH ASKS WHY WE HAVE TWO HOMECOMINGS Mysteriously goes missing

STUDENT STRUGGLES BETWEEN BEING WOKE AND RELATABLE

“Samantha, concerts are a capitalist nightmare. But sure, I’ll go to the Weeknd concert, who’s opening?”

FROSH CALLS HOME FOR A MEAL PLAN TOP-UP ONLY 3 WEEKS IN Spoke bagelwich suspected culprit

LCBO STORES RUN OUT OF RASPBERRY VODKA AND JAGER AFTER O-WEEK Most people pray they never restock

23 // v.18


Openwide v.18.1  
Openwide v.18.1  

The FIMS Alternative Student Publication

Advertisement