The Brandeis Hoot, 02-12-2021

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Volume 18 Issue 1

“To acquire wisdom, one must observe”

February 12, 2021

Brandeis University’s Community Newspaper · Waltham, Mass.

Rosentiel Award winners contribute to vaccine production By Roshni Ray special to the hoot


ROSENTIAL Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman ‘81, MA’81 received the Rosential Award via Zoom.

Biden brings student debt cancellation By Celia Young special to the hoot

As a new presidential administration takes office, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren hopes to cancel some student loan debt. Canceling that debt would impact about 40 percent of Brandeis students—students who rely on federal loans to pay Brandeis’ higher than average tuition. The federal government has paused payments and involuntary collections on federal student loans due to the coronavirus pandemic—a rule that was set to expire Jan. 31, but one President-elect Joseph Biden will extend when he assumes office. As the pandemic has caused job losses and an economic slowdown, Warren renewed her calls for debt cancellation in a Dec. 7 virtual meeting with student journalists across the country. “For tens of millions of borrowers, student loan debt has become an impossible burden,” Warren said. “Student debt falls particularly hard on Black and brown Americans… This is the effect of long-term systemic inequality and discrimination.” Warren continued, “On day one, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can use ex-

Inside This Issue:

isting authority under the law to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for all borrowers with federal loans and make sure that loan cancellation doesn’t result in any additional tax bill for borrowers.” With Biden supporting a debt cancellation plan, though one less extensive than Warren’s, some form of debt relief could come as students face an unstable job market and a lack of government support. College students have been largely left out of the two stimulus checks the federal government has so far provided during a pandemic that has dragged on over a year. The first stimulus checks provided $1,200 in March 2020, and nine months later the second round of relief gave those eligible half that amount, according to Yahoo News. For both rounds, most college students who were claimed as dependents on their parents’ tax returns were not eligible to receive the money. Warren voiced her concern for students struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic and said that student debt cancellation will help students and graduates build real wealth and increase access to a college education.

Biochemist Katalin Karikó and Professor Drew Weissman ’81, MA’81 were presented the 50th annual Rosenstiel Award for their pioneering work on the modification of nucleic acids to develop RNA therapeutics and vaccines. Karikó currently serves as the senior vice president at BioNTech RNA Pharmaceuticals and Weissman is a Professor of Medicine as well as the co-director of the Penn Center for AIDS Research (Immunology Core) and director of vaccine research (Infectious Diseases Division) at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, according to the award’s website. Brandeis president Ron Liebowitz, cofounder of Moderna, Derrick Rossi, and director of

NIAID and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, Anthony Fauci gave congratulatory remarks during the ceremony. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there has been an immediate focus by the scientific community to develop vaccines to combat the virus. The foundational biological concept underlying the COVID-19 vaccine development can be traced back decades ago, Rossi explained during the awards ceremony. “DNA makes RNA, makes protein, makes life.” In our cells, messenger RNA (mRNA) acts as a mobile intermediary between the passive molecule DNA that resides isolated in our cell’s nuclei and the proteins in the cytoplasm. Through their research, Karikó and Weissman sought to harness a cell’s protein making capabilities See VACCINE, page 2

Anita Hill discusses new Supreme Court By Tim Dillon editor

In a Jan. 18 event, Professor Anita Hill (AAAS/LGLS/HS/ WGS) talked about the duality of her excitement for Vice President Kamala Harris’ historic inaugu-

ration and concern that calls for unity would paper over lingering problems of inequality in America. Hill started out by addressing the attempted insurrection at the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, where conspiracy theorists, white supremacists and supporters of the

former president answered his calls to “stop the steal” by breaking into the building and attempting to violently stop Congress from certifying the electoral college votes. The implication of what Hill

See STUDENT DEBT, page 3

News: Student Union election results. Ops: On the Capitol riots. Features: New classes being offered spring 2021. Sports: UAA cancels springs sports. Editorial: Do your part to stop the spread.

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Check out The Hoot’s favorite study spaces on campus!

Amanda Gorman kicks off the Biden presidency.


See HILL, page 2



2 The Brandeis Hoot

February 12, 2021

Professor Anita Hill talks about the future of equality and United States Supreme Court HILL, from page 1

called “‘stop the steal’ thinking” is a “message among the various reactionary movements … that previously marginalized people, including people of color and women, are somehow ‘stealing’ something economic and cultural away from white men,” Hill explained at the event. Later, she made a point of saying that the country is not evenly divided, and the problem lies in “a vocal and violent minority,” but that she has hope for rallying a majority. Hill also spoke about the many facets of legal equality. “We need to be sure that we look at inequality and think about inequality across different platforms, including environmental law, constitutional law, labor law, as well as

criminal law,” she explained. She also added that this extends beyond federal judiciary, saying that it is important not to lose focus on the role or potential role of the executive and legislative branches, as well as state and local law. After this the event was opened up to student questions for Hill. When asked about the merits of adding more justices on the Supreme Court, or otherwise adjusting its size to change its ideological makeup, a process colloquially known as court packing, Hill commented that while court packing might be convenient for the Biden administration, (assuming that it would even be feasible) it “would open up a dangerous precedent for future presidents.” Hill also said that it would erode the independence of the judicia-

ry, and that any president with a friendly Congress would also be able to have a Supreme Court unlikely to challenge them. Furthermore, she said that increasing the number of people on the Court may also increase the number of judicial philosophies represented on the bench, making majority decisions less likely than plurality decisions, let alone the sorts of unanimous decisions that she said lead to societal change, such as “Brown v. Board of Education.” Speaking on the role of the Court in regards to immigrant rights, Hill said that the makeup of the Court, which she described as “not just conservative but fringe conservative,” means that “we will see a narrowing definition of equality.” She acknowledged that there may be some surprising decisions, like Bostock

v. Clayton County over the summer, which extended Title VII civil rights protections to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or sexuality, but that the overall trend of the Court will be against various forms of equality in the near future. In response to a separate question, Hill also expressed concerns about what the Court might do to women’s rights, including what a repeal of the Affordable Care Act might do to the ability of women to get treatment after intimate partner violence, as well as threats to abortion rights. Hill said that the Violence Against Women Act has been gutted in much the same way that the Voting Rights Act has been. As for abortion rights, if given the right case, Hill believes that the Court “would significantly chip away” at them. She also

said that while she is not aware of any current cases on policing due to the Department of Justice’s lack of interest since the departure of Attorney General Eric Holder, she hopes that the Department will return to that, and that the conversation on policing will expand. Specifically, she said that Black girls and LGBTQ youth are overpoliced in schools, especially in relation to dress codes, and that the system for dealing with rape and sexual assault “has not been victim-oriented.” In conclusion, Hill said that she could not easily sum up the problems the country is facing, nor offer any simple solutions, but that she hopes there will be a new generation of Heller School for Social Policy graduates ready to help deal with the problems she mentioned.

Eleven seats filled in Student Union winter elections, all running unopposed By Victoria Morrongiello, Tim Dillon and Luca Swinford editors and staff

The 2021 winter Student Union elections filled five senate seats, five Allocations Board seats and one representative position. Of the eleven seats filled, all ran unopposed. The Senate Scarlett (Tong) Ren ’24, running unopposed, won the midyear class senator position. Ren explained it is important for her to act “as a bridge between the American and international community” in this position, in an interview with The Brandeis Hoot. Ren said to The Hoot that she feels ready for this position because she had been heavily involved in student government in high school and also served as the student body president. When asked about her motives for becoming involved in student government she responded, “it felt like a responsibility instead of a hobby.” Anacita Shou ’24 won the off-campus senator position running unopposed. Shou said to The Hoot that she has experience in this role because she served as a Student Union member in high school. “I really want to figure out how

to support each other academically and emotionally online,” Shou told The Hoot, and “build up connections for on-campus students and international students.” Dariel Jimenez ’23 won the position of Charles River Senator and ran unopposed. The Hoot reached out to Jimenez for an interview and got no immediate response. Selah Bickel ’24 won the position of Foster Mods/Community Senator running unopposed. In an interview with the Hoot, Bickel said that the goals of her term are to “address all immediate concerns of my fellow students, but also create a more sustainable, just campus.” Bickel is confident that her passion and empathy will serve her effectively in this role, she said in the interview. Griffin Stotland ’23 won the Community Senator position receiving 83 percent of the total vote, with 124 votes. Stotland ran unopposed. The remaining were split between “other,” “no confidence” and abstention. Stotland said he “threw his hat in the ring to be senator for Grad because in the first semester [it] was kind of neglected,” saying that laundry machines didn’t work. He touted his experience in high school student government as qualifying him for the position. Despite his stated intention to represent the Charles River Apartments, he ended up running

and winning as a community senator, a position for which no one else was running. Allocations Board Lexi Lazar ’24 and Reese Farquhar ’22 each won a two-semester seat on the Allocations Board, with 106 votes and 99 votes respectively. With two open slots and two candidates running, Lazar and Farquhar were effectively running unopposed. The remaining 10 percent of votes were split between votes for “other,” “no confidence” and abstention. Lazar said that she’d be a good candidate because of her “diverse interests and passion for [the Brandeis] community.” She added that the coronavirus pandemic made it difficult for people to get out and meet people, “especially freshmen like [her],” and suggesting casual sports and outdoor activities as a response. Farquhar said that “the end of the pandemic is near” and that “now more than ever is the time to turn our aspirations into reality.” He suggested that the Allocations Board could and should use funds to eliminate financial barriers for students. Muhammad Mulyono ’22 won the one-semester Racial Minority Seat; Mulyono ran unopposed. Mulyono said he wants to be a part of the Allocations Board because he wants “to help emerging clubs to really develop and really


maximize their potential in creating positive change in the community,” he said in the “Meet the Candidates” Zoom event hosted by the Student Union. Mulyono had previous experience trying to work with the Allocations Board when attempting to start a club and he wants to establish a different type of relationship with students than what he experienced, he said at the event. Maxfield Chang ’22 won the two-semester Racial Minority representative position on the Allocations Board after running unopposed. “I think it’s really important to have representation at levels like this,” said Chang in the “Meet the Candidates” event. Chang said he believes he has good experience and knowledge regarding the process of how to make clubs which he can use in his position. Benjamin Steinberg ’22 won the one-semester Allocations Board Representative position; he ran

unopposed. “I know that after the pandemic there are going to be a lot of people wanting to become a community again and they will want to express themselves as best as they positively can,’’ Steinberg said at the event. Through his position, Steinburg wants to positively affect the student body and give students the best experience, he said at the event. Representative Position Priya Patel ’22 won the Junior Representative to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee; Patel ran unopposed. “I would ensure students are given the opportunity to exercise influence on the curriculum,” Patel said at the event. Patel wants to present the collective concerns of the community and advise the committee of changes which would be beneficial to undergraduates, she said at the event.

Vaccine researchers win Rosential Award VACCINE, from page 1

by engineering their own RNA instruction manual. However, a problem arose: cell cultures perished in response to the addition of synthetic mRNA. To combat this, Karikó and Weissman modified the structure of the synthetic mRNA molecule and developed a protective lipid bubble encasing the RNA, allowing cells to efficiently produce the desired proteins. Our immune system fights against viral infections by rec-

ognizing and remembering viral protein markers displayed on the surfaces of infected cells and subsequently destroying them. Coronaviruses all contain pointed surface proteins called spike proteins, enabling the virus to enter and infect human cells. Biotechnology companies Moderna and Pfizer aimed to engineer mRNAs that code for the spike protein. Once the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is administered, our cells are able to express the spike protein, enabling immune cells to fight against future coronavirus

infections without actually undergoing the dangers of being infected. Karikó and Weissman’s past work on refining the introduction of chemically engineered RNAs in cells made subsequent therapeutic applications like the COVID-19 vaccine development feasible. The rapid vaccine turnover was an “extraordinary feat unprecedented in the annals of science,” Fauci said during the presentation. Rossi believes that “most vaccines in the future will be mRNA vaccines,” and Haber attests that

“mRNA is becoming a new class of medicine.” By raising the middle-child molecule mRNA into the scientific limelight, Karikó and Weissman opened doors to a new realm of biotechnological applications. Karikó and Weissman are continuing to collaborate on their work, Haber announced during the ceremony. The relevance of Karikó and Weissman’s past work in today’s scientific issues is testament to the ever-evolving nature of science. “Forecasting the ultimate value of basic research can

be difficult, however fundamental advances in basic research can underpin extraordinary progress in real world medicine,” Fauci added. The Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research was established in 1971 “as an expression of the conviction that educational institutions have an important role to play in encouragement and development of basic science as it applies to medicine,” according to the award page’s website.

February 12, 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

Panelists discussion transition of power By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Senior Advisor for the Biden for President Campaign Greg Schultz spoke about governmental transitions in the post-election, pre-inauguration period in a webinar hosted by the university on Jan. 13. The panelists were asked their thoughts on the Capitol insurrection, which happened just days prior to the webinar. “I think it is a very fragile time. There is no question about it. The attack was shocking,” said Murphy in regard to the transitional period.

The panelists were asked to comment on the impeachment attempts being pursued on former president Donald Trump. Murphy said he believes it is necessary for the former president to be impeached and convicted, even if it is outside of his term limits. There are still people within the house who are trying to challenge the election of Joe Biden, according to the governor, and they should also be held accountable for their actions in prompting distrust within our democracy. Schultz said that impeachment would be good for democracy in the long term but may bring difficulties in the short term for President Biden. According to Schul-

tz, it will not be easy for Biden to begin his term with the impeachment proceedings. However, the point of the impeachment is to defend the Constitution and therefore the impeachment must occur, said Schultz. “I would say we have certainly bent the structure of our republic but it did not break,” Schultz said in regards to the Capitol riots. When asked about his opinion on how the Biden-Harris administration could strengthen the American democracy, Schultz said he did not believe Biden would drive partisanship which can weaken democratic processes. During his presidency, Schultz said, “[Trump] does nothing but

drive partisanship. I’m not saying some Democrats would not do that but that is not Joe Biden.” As a society, Americans have to find a way to approach disinformation and misinformation which is spreading, according to Schultz. Schultz believes approaching disinformation can then strengthen American’s trust in the government. Biden can bring the United States the stability it currently needs, said Schultz, since he can bring back bipartisanship. The panelists were asked to comment on what they thought the Biden administration should do in regards to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the

economic crisis which the United States is facing. One must “find common ground with whoever you can find common ground with to save lives,” Murphy explained. The Biden administration should support sending out more vaccines immediately, according to the governor, since the country is still far from where it should be in regards to tackling the pandemic. There is also a need for state and local aid from Congress in order to continue providing and delivering services to front line workers, according to Governor Murphy. In the last stimulus, there was no local aid provided, Murphy explained.

Board of Trustees discusses pandemic By Sabrina Chow editor

The university is expected to maintain a balanced budget during the 2021 fiscal year (FY21) “due in large measure to the sacrifices and contributions of members of our community,” despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report on the FY21 operating budget forecast presented to the Resources Committee at the Board of Trustees January meeting, according to an email sent out by President Ron Liebowitz. The committee also discussed plans for a new science complex building project, which “will provide Brandeis with more space for research labs, project labs, and learning spaces in the sciences,” the report wrote. The university finalized the creation of a Public Health Advisory Committee that will “provide high-level strategic guidance and recommendations on all university public health decisions and strategies related to COVID-19,”

according to the email. Several doctors, epidemiologists and public health experts are a part of the committee, which is being chaired by Carol Fierke Ph.D.’84, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, Stewart Uretsky, executive vice president for finance and administration and Raymond Lu-Ming Ou, vice president for student affairs. The newly formed Student Life Committee discussed the committee’s priorities for the coming months, including the Hiatt Career Center, student mental health, student life programming, community living and graduate student affairs, according to the email. Jon Schlesinger, the interim director of Hiatt, presented the steps that Hiatt is taking “to improve operations, including formalizing a new employer relations strategy and outreach to students and clubs to provide internship and job information,” the email writes. Sonali Anderson ’22, one of two undergraduate representatives on the Board of Trustees, Twama “Pheora” Nambili GRAD and

DeBorah Ault ’22 also shared student life updates with the Student Life Committee. The Institutional Advancement Committee discussed the creation of a new fundraising campaign working group “which will be charged with making recommendations for future campaign goals and timeline, provide feedback for campaign messaging, shape the campaign menu of giving opportunities, and advise on fundraising strategies,” according to the email. The committee will also be reviewing the progress on “One Brandeis,” the current Alumni Relations strategic plan. The Academy Committee received a report on the spring 2021 semester, which included how the academy is working to “to innovate and adapt to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the email. Katy Graddy, Dorothy Hodgson and David Weil, deans of the Brandeis International Business School, School of Arts and Science and Heller School for Social Policy and Management, respectively, presented to the Academy


Committee about opportunities and challenges for faculty recruitment and retention, which includes the high cost of living in the greater Boston area. Jim La Creta, chief information officer, and David Albrecht, chief information security officer, updated the Risk Management and Audit Committee on updates to the information technology infrastructure, which includes “efforts to enhance cybersecurity measures and cellular coverage across campus, security camera installations, and Workday Student implementation,” according

to the email. The Board promoted Professor Joel Christensen ’01, MA’01 (CLASS/COML) to professor with tenure in the Department of Classical Studies, while Professor Sarah Mayorga (SOC) was appointed associate professor with tenure, according to the email. The senior administration, along with the Board of Trustees, are planning to host a series of community check-ins with the Brandeis community about spring operations and the future plans of the university due to the coronavirus pandemic.

New presidential administration will likely bring some student loan debt cancellation STUDENT DEBT, from page 1

“I’m really worried about what food insecurity, housing insecurity, in the middle of a pandemic, means for our students,” she said. “I’m worried about what it means for people all across this nation.” Brandeis students are also worried. At the start of the pandemic, a few students established Brandeis Mutual Aid, a fund supporting first-generation students, low-income students and students of color, according to their website, that the university was not sufficiently supporting through the Student Emergency Grant Fund. The funds were first used to help students struggling to travel home after the Brandeis campus shutdown last spring. The fund has since been used to help students struggling with food insecurity, according to an article by The Brandeis Hoot. Debt cancellation would affect many Brandeis students and graduates. A majority of Brandeis students, or around 60 percent, receive some type of aid and around 40 percent of students receive federal student loans, according to the National Center for Education

Statistics. Brandeis’s cost of tuition, including fees, for the 202021 academic year is $57,615— more expensive than the national average cost of $40,793, according to U.S. News & World Report. For the about half of Brandeis’s 2019 graduating class that took out loans, each graduate owes an average of $29,449, according to U.S. News & World Report. Warren’s plan, which she originally proposed during her campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, would cancel up to $50,000 of debt for every borrower, according to Forbes. She is supported by Senator Chuck Schumer, though he said in early December 2020 that the cancellation would only apply to those earning less than $125,000 a year, according to Forbes. Biden, on the other hand, has proposed cancelling $10,000 of debt for every borrower, according to Forbes. While both plans would provide some level of debt cancellation, Warren’s would be more effective at shrinking the racial wealth gap—the wealth gap between white and Black households—according to Pokross Pro-

fessor of Law and Social Policy at the Heller School of Social Policy and Management Tom Shapiro. Biden’s plan would slightly widen the racial wealth gap among student loan-holders, though not significantly enough to increase the national wealth gap, said Shapiro in an interview with The Hoot. “In my personal view, and a view that comes from knowing the data, $10,000 is a minimalist approach,” said Shapiro. “It provides very little relief—important but very little relief—and it does zero for racial wealth inequality. In fact, the data that we are running tells us it actually makes it a little worse.” In a 2019 report by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP), a part of the Heller School, researchers analyzed the persistence of student debt across a person’s life and how student debt relief would impact the racial wealth gap. It found that 54 percent of young Black households, those ages 25 to 40, have student debt while only 39 percent of young white households have student debt. It also found that even in

young households, white households have 10 times the wealth of Black households. “One of the really important goalposts for reducing and forgiving student debt is to design it in a smart way that provides a lot of relief and that moves us forward in closing racial wealth inequality,” said Shapiro in an interview. “And $10,000 fails.” The IASP report also found that total debt relief for all households would increase the racial wealth gap. That increase is likely due to white graduates being more likely to complete and pay off loans for expensive college and graduate degree programs, said Shapiro. Heller school researchers gave some recommendations to Warren’s office on what amount of debt cancellation would decrease the racial wealth gap, said Shapiro. A 2019 letter from Shaprio and three other professors and researchers stated that Warren’s plan would allow 95 percent of households some debt cancellation, as well as lessen the racial wealth gap. Having debt cancellation phase out based on a person’s income also makes debt cancella-

tion more effective at shrinking the wealth gap, said Shapiro. Warren’s 2019 proposal allowed debt holders with a total household income below $100,000 to receive up to $50,000 in debt cancellation, and for debt cancellation above that income to slowly phase out at $0.33 less in debt cancellation for every dollar of income above $100,000. Shapiro expects the incoming presidential administration to cancel some amount of student debt but believes the administration will face an intense debate about how much debt to eliminate. “As somebody who has been behind that curtain, there’s a pretty intense debate going on about how to do it,” said Shapiro. “What President-elect Biden and his team are intending to do and what will happen around student debt I think is one of those areas that bears very close watching.” As Biden’s inauguration day approaches, students nationwide will be watching as the new administration tackles student loan debt, the racial wealth gap and a pandemic that has widened racial disparities in the United States.


4 The Brandeis Hoot

February 12, 2021

UAA cancels spring sports competition in light of the coronavirus pandemic By Sophie Trachtenberg editor

In Jan. 2021, the University Athletic Association (UAA) announced the cancellation of conference play for spring sports during the 2020-2021 season. With this news, the UAA will have not held any competition for the academic year, as fall and winter seasons were also canceled previously in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that continues to run rampant across the United States. Lauren Haynie, the Director of Athletics at Brandeis, sent an email to Brandeis student-athletes, coaches, staff and families shortly before the announcement was released from UAA themselves. She wrote, “while we are incredibly disappointed that we will not be able to participate in UAA competition for the entire academic year, the extensive travel required as a part of playing in our conference makes it challenging for us to develop a viable plan

to move forward with a traditional spring sports schedule.” The UAA includes eight private research institutions that are geographically diverse. These include Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Emory University in Atlanta, New York University in New York City, the University of Chicago, the University of Rochester and our own Brandeis University in Waltham. In order to play against these schools, participating universities often travel frequently by plane or bus, which is not advised by the CDC during the current pandemic. Further, in the official statement from the UAA, the conference noted, “... it has remained clear that the following unresolved issues continue to have undue impact on the ability of member institutions to pursue competition within the UAA: Current institutional travel limitations; Local and state travel quarantine restrictions; Local restrictions on the size of group gatherings and hosting on-campus events; And

contingency planning to provide care for individuals who test positive or become symptomatic while traveling.” Thus, it has been concluded that the risks of intra-conference play, and the travel required to do so, exceed the UAA’s responsibility of preserving the health and safety of student-athletes and all of those involved in competition. At Brandeis, Haynie and the Department of Athletics are committed to finding ways for student-athletes to safely engage in team-based opportunities throughout the semester. This includes restricted team practices that follow social distancing protocols, consistent mask wearing at all times, and opportunities to use the varsity weight room in small groups. In her message to the Brandeis Athletics community, Haynie highlights, “While we continue to follow guidance from the CDC, NCAA, State of Massachusetts and the university medical director, our ability to follow public health guidance and keep each other safe remains critical to our


efforts.” While collegiate athletics at other various levels—including Division I, Division II, NAIA and JUCO—are continuing with both travel and play, it remains clear that Brandeis Athletics, the UAA and Division III as a whole are

prioritizing not only the health and safety of their student-athletes, coaches and staff, but also the larger communities in which we inhabit. This commitment now will hopefully allow for a smooth return to competition during the 2021-2022 calendar year.

Super Bowl LV review By Justin Leung editor

Tom Brady has done it. He has now won seven Super Bowls and has further cemented his legacy as the greatest football player of all time. Brady has more Super Bowl wins than any other team in the NFL. Although Brady got most of the praise, the entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers team thoroughly outplayed the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl leading to a 31-9 victory. First, Tom Brady may not be getting better at this point in his career, but he is still very good. He may not have thrown for a ton of yards, but he was efficient and got the job done. Brady threw for 201 yards and three touchdowns, while completing 21/29 of his passes. He did not turn the ball over once. On the flip side, Patrick Mahomes did not have his best game. Mahomes threw three interceptions and 270 yards on 26/49 completed passes. Although Mahomes threw for more yards than Brady, most of his yards came in the garbage time of the game when the Chiefs had no way of winning. So overall Brady outplayed Mahomes. It was a rough game for Mahomes, but it is extremely likely that he will be back better than ever soon.


Tom Brady cannot get all of the credit for this win. He may have gotten the Super Bowl MVP, but the Tampa Bay defense played extremely well. Since the Chiefs had back-up left and right tackles, the Buccaneers exploited that and put a lot of pressure on Mahomes through their edge rushers. Even though the Buccaneers only had three sacks in the game, the pressure was evident. Mahomes had no time to throw the ball and go through his progressions. Outside linebacker Shaquil Barret and interior lineman Ndamukong Suh for the Buccaneers both had a sack and were putting constant pressure on Mahomes through the game. The coverage was good enough. The secondary did not have to play elite coverage due to the pressure on Mahomes, but they did have to stop the duo of wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. The Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles drew up an excellent game plan that stopped the electrifying Chiefs offense. In the most recent matchup between these two teams, Hill destroyed the Tampa defense in a single quarter. He had over 200 yards in one quarter. In the Super Bowl, Bowles refused to get beaten by him. Due to Hill’s speed, he is often impossible to cover by himself because he is bound to

Tom Brady after winning Super Bowl LV


beat the cornerback just by speed alone. So, Bowles decided to make sure that Hill was double covered the entire game with a safety always deep to help cover Hill. This worked and completely stopped the deep attack from Mahomes and Hill. The Buccaneers defense did everything right to shut down an offense that looked unbeatable before this game and caused the Chiefs to not even score a touchdown. There were a few other headlines coming out of this game besides those having to do with Brady. Rob Gronkowski retired two years ago with the New England Patriots after they won the Super Bowl. However, when Brady left and joined the Buccaneers, he came out of retirement and joined Brady. Gronkowski was not the elite tight end he once was, but he was still solid. Most of Head Coach Bruce Arians offense was meant to go through the elite wide receivers the Buccaneers had. This means Gronkowski wasn’t getting as many touches as he was used to. However, in the Super Bowl the Brady-Gronkowski connection came alive once again. They connected twice for two touchdowns and they broke the record for the most playoff touchdown passes by a given receiver and quarterback duo. Brady’s only other touchdown pass was to wide receiver Antonio Brown. A few years ago, Brown ran into many on- and off-field issues when he was on the Pittsburgh Steelers, Las Vegas Raiders and New England Patriots. This led many to believe that his career was over. He was one of the best receivers in the NFL before these issues, but unfortunately, he lost a good chunk of his prime due to various issues. However, the Buccaneers signed him halfway through the season and he ended up playing a role in their playoff run. The touchdown in the Super Bowl indicates that he may be back to his old form and may return to being one of the best receivers in the NFL. Pos-

sibly the biggest storyline coming out of the Super Bowl was the possibility of any rigging of the game for Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. This evidence comes from the penalties on the Chiefs side. The Chiefs were called for 11 penalties to the Buccaneers 4. These penalties often came at costly times. Sometimes they gave the Buccaneers a first down when their drive was getting stalled. At the end of the first half, a defensive pass interference in the end zone was called on safety Tyrann Matthieu which led to a last-minute touchdown before the half. After the first half it was apparent that many people were not happy with the discrepancy in penalties in the game. During the halftime show on CBS, there was discussion about how the penalties were not wrong. The referees were not making bad calls, because there were penalties being committed; however, the calls were sometimes a little light. Considering it was the Super Bowl, the referees chould have been a little more lenient and let the players play. Some of the penalties though, were just errors by the Chiefs. A first down was given when the Chiefs players lined up offsides during a field goal attempt by Tampa Bay. So, from the outside it looked like the refs were heavily favoring the Buccaneers, but sometimes the Chiefs were just making errors that you cannot make in the biggest game of the year. The Kansas City Chiefs will be back. They have too much talent not to be good. That game may have just been a bad game for Mahomes or a bad game from the Chiefs defense. You could also say that Tampa Bay just wanted it more, as their offense was efficient and effective and their defense held their own against one of the most dynamic offenses ever seen. However, what appears to be the biggest difference between the two teams in the Super Bowl was the coaching and the game planning.

The Buccaneers knew exactly what they needed to do to stop the Chiefs offense. They knew that the big play to Hill was their biggest weapon, so they made sure it didn’t happen. They knew that the left and right tackles of the Chiefs offensive line were backups, so they made sure to send extra pressure on the edges and not blitz because the edge pressure should be enough. The Chiefs had no idea how to adjust. For most of the game, the Buccaneers stuck with this game plan and Mahomes could not figure out what to do. On the other side, the Buccaneers relied heavily on the run game and the deep ball. They establish the run game and then trick the defense on play action. This was how the Buccaneers won so many games down the stretch. The Buccaneers game planned to stop the Chiefs offense, but it did not appear as if the Chiefs were able to disrupt the Buccaneers offensive scheme. Brady looked comfortable and was doing anything he wanted, while Mahomes looked scared running everywhere as he was constantly under pressure. The Buccaneers won the game before the game even started. If it was possible to give the Super Bowl MVP to a coach, then defensive coordinator Todd Bowles deserved the award for how well he designed a plan to stop the Chiefs offense. Even though this game showed that Patrick Mahomes is human and that he can be stopped, he still is an incredible talent. The score may not show it, but he was trying so hard to keep his team in the game. In one play he threw a pass directly to his receiver while falling to the ground and being nearly parallel to the field. He was still making superhuman throws. Brady and the Buccaneers may have gotten the better of him in this game, but now Mahomes is even more determined to get better, and if he is now doing things we have never seen before, who knows how good he is going to be next year and moving forward.

February 12, 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

The hottest streak in Euroleague: Fenerbahçe Beko! By Rafi Levi special to the hoot

As we are approaching the end of the regular season in the Euroleague, all eyes are on the Turkish giants Fenerbahçe Beko with their nine-game winning streak giving them the best active streak in the Euroleague. Although Fenerbahçe is the only team who has shown up in the last five Final Fours (excluding the 2020 Final Four that was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic) and were crowned champions in 2017, a winning streak this long was still unexpected of them due to one reason: the departure of the Serbian coach Zeljko Obradovic. The European basketball legend Zeljko Obradovic served as the head coach of Fenerbahçe between 2013 and 2020, winning 10 domestic cups and participating in the Final Four five times, winning the European silverware once. The Serbian coach is no stranger to international success as he won the Euroleague trophy nine times with five different teams. Obra, as fans all around the world called him, departed ways with Fenerbahçe after the club president Ali Koç decided to downsize the basketball branch with the budget nearly halved. So, despite all the odds against them, how did Fenerbahçe manage to preserve its quality? Zeljko Obradovic was replaced by another Serbian whose name is familiar to American fans. Coach Igor Kokoskov made his return to the Old Continent after nearly 20 years of service in the National Basketball Association (NBA). His journey with Fenerbahçe marks the beginning of his European club career as this is the first time he is head-coaching a European team. The season did not start well for Kokoskov’s team. After two consecutive wins in the season opening, Fenerbahçe lost 10 of their next 13 games, facing disastrous defeats against Spanish teams Baskonia, Barcelona and Real Madrid. At the end of Round 15, Fenerbahçe ranked second to last in the standings, only topping




Khimki Moscow. Fenerbahçe’s Round 16 match-up against Olympiakos marked the beginning of their gigantic winning streak. The game also clearly displayed that Kokoskov’s mentality as a coach was changed. After 20 years of service in the NBA, Kokoskov had a hard time adapting to European basketball. While the NBA is focused more on star power, success in the Euroleague depends on the coach’s ability to find a unique role for each player on the roster. Early in the season, Kokoskov displayed the characteristics of an NBA coach. His game plan focused mainly on Nando De Colo’s playmaking and scoring ability, he stuck with the rotation he had in mind instead of rotating according to the game and aimed to use the ball quickly rather than correctly. All these methods can pay off in the NBA but Euroleague is all about teamwork. As time went by, Kokoskov adapted his tactics to European basketball. “Coaches need to be flexible, if you adopt strict basketball rules, the ‘either my way or the go’ motto won’t work,” the Serbian coach stated in a recent interview with Kokoskov’s openness to flexibility allowed him to start the longest active streak in the league, as Fenerbahçe built a system where ev-


ery player on the roster mattered. When Fenerbahçe decided to downsize the basketball branch, it meant the departure of a lot of high-profile players who had a crucial role in the team’s fiveyear success in the Euroleague. Players like Luigi Datome, Kostas Sloukas, Nikola Kalinic and Derrick Williams all left the Turkish giants in the summer of 2020. They were replaced by relatively low-profile players like Jarrell Eddie, Lorenzo Brown, Edgaras Ulanovas, Dyshawn Pierre and Danilo Barthel. All of these players had little to no experience in the top division of European basketball. The only top-tier players that remained loyal to the club were the Czech center Jan Vesely (Vesely Airlines as fans like to call him) and Nando De Colo who had joined the team a year ago after a glorious five-year spell at CSKA Moscow. Kokoskov was normally expected to base his strategy on these two players and unsurprisingly that was what happened in the first half of the season. As the games went by and Kokoskov’s mentality shifted from an American one to a European one, he recognized that the load on these players was enormous and both of them were unable to carry the burden. As Kokoskov began to explore other oppor-




tunities, Pierre evolved into a lockdown defender who also had a surprising talent to play oneon-one low post offenses, Jarrell Eddie improved his playmaking skills along with his unavoidable three-point threat and Lorenzo Brown enhanced his defending skills as well as perfecting his offensive threat as a combo guard. With all the players on the roster finding a way to contribute to the team’s success, the results that the fans were desperately expecting started to come. Another factor that contributed to the Turkish giants’ success was the mid-season signing of the former Memphis Grizzly Marko Guduric. After two years as a Memphis Grizzly, Marko Guduric returned to Istanbul where he grew to be an NBA-level shooting guard. It is no coincidence that the Round 16 match-up against Olympiakos that started Fenerbahçe’s winning streak marked the beginning of Marko’s second spell at Fenerbahçe. His arrival changed the way Fenerbahçe shared the ball and helped Kokoskov to advance his team to the next level. Before Guduric, Nando De Colo was the only guard on the roster capable of shaping the sets and distributing the ball. A one-dimensional game like this was easy to defend for the opponents, as pressuring De Colo basically meant blocking


the Fenerbahçe offense. Guduric’s arrival not only added an extra shooting threat to the team but also took some of the burden off De Colo’s shoulders and improved the French guard’s game. With all three guards (Brown, De Colo and Guduric) sharing the ball equally helped Fenerbahçe’s offense to gain diversity. There is one last thing that should be mentioned while discussing Fenerbahçe’s success and that is the leadership the duo of De Colo and Vesely has shown especially during the second half of the season. The duo had a combined average Personal Index Rating (PIR) of 39 during Fenerbahçe’s winning streak, however, their contribution to the team is not limited to stats. Being the most experienced players on the squad, even more experienced than the coach, their input as leaders was vital to the team. Although their contribution was negligible in the first half of the season as both stars coped with some injuries, their positive impact on the team is evident to anyone who followed Fenerbahçe for the second half of the season. Their influence peaked in the away game against the top of the league CSKA Moscow where the duo had a combined PIR of 70. In this streak, De Colo finally started to meet the expectations of the Turkish fans, while fan-favorite Jan Vesely ensured that his jersey will be hanging down Ulker Sports Arena’s ceiling when he finally decides to retire. Fenerbahçe is currently ranked sixth in the Euroleague. To make it into the playoff round they have to finish in the Top Eight, where a Top Four spot means a home court advantage in the playoffs. With 10 more games to go, it seems very likely that the Turkish giants will be in the playoff round if they manage to keep this momentum going. After the playoffs, the Turkish side must fight to get a spot in what will be their sixth consecutive Final Four appearance.

6 The Brandeis Hoot

“To acquire wisdom, one must observe.”

Editors-in-Chief Sabrina Chow Natalie Fritzson Managing Editor John Fornagiel Copy Editor Madeline Rousell News Editor Victoria Morrongiello Deputy News Editors Tim Dillon Arts Editors Aaron LaFauci Emma Lichtenstein Deputy Arts Editors Stewart Huang Caroline O Opinions Editor Sasha Skarboviychuk Deputy Opinions Editors Abdel Achibat Thomas Pickering Features Editor Shruthi Manjunath Deputy Features Editor Emily Chou Sports Editor Sophie Trachtenberg Deputy Sports Editor Justin Leung Photos Editor Grace Zhou Deputy Photos Editor Teresa Shi Deputy Social Media Editor Anya Lance-Chacko

Volume 18 • Issue 1 the brandeis hoot • brandeis university 415 south street • waltham, ma

FOUNDED BY Leslie Pazan, Igor Pedan and Daniel Silverman


Jonathan Ayash, Lucy Fay, Sam Finbury, Uma Jagwani, Zach Katz, Josh Lannon, Kristianna Lapierre, Max Lerner, Rafi Levi, Francesca Marchese, Claire Odgen, Mia Plante, Harper Pollio-Barbee, Roshni Ray, Mike Richard, David Shapiro, Matt Shapiro, Jahnavi Swamy, Luca Swinford, Alex Williams

MISSION As the weekly community student newspaper of Brandeis University, The Brandeis Hoot aims to provide our readers with a reliable, accurate and unbiased source of news and information. Produced entirely by students, The Hoot serves a readership of 6,000 with in-depth news, relevant commentary, sports and coverage of cultural events. Recognizing that better journalism leads to better policy, The Brandeis Hoot is dedicated to the principles of investigative reporting and news analysis. Our mission is to give every community member a voice.

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February 12, 2021

Do your due diligence

his semester, the numbers of unique COVID-19 cases per day at both Brandeis and in the United States are higher than they were last semester. Counterintuitively, we are also experiencing a high level of COVID-19 fatigue, leading many individuals to not care as much about spreading the virus. Picture this: a friend that you haven’t seen in person in what feels like ages asks you to hang out to watch a movie, and you almost feel pressured into it even if you’re a little bit uncomfortable at first. We get it, it’s difficult to avoid the temptation. However, it’s small acts like these that can lead to infection and potentially spreading the virus to even more of your friends and family. Unfortunately, it feels like COVID-19 is becoming normalized, and for most people, there is no longer that threat and that passion to resist the urge to go out with your friends for the greater good. This is, at least in part, a reason why COVID-19 fatigue is at unprecedented levels. People are holding doors for one another again. The lines at the testing sites and the dining halls are becoming claustrophobic and long. Folks are getting tired of sticking to the floor stickers. We urge you to revitalize your passion for the safety of those around you. In recent weeks, some members of the Brandeis community have been vaccinated; however, it is not

currently known whether these vaccines prevent individuals from transmitting COVID-19 to others or what other lasting effects the vaccine may have. Although it may be tempting to simply say that you are vaccinated and that you no longer need to worry about the virus, there are currently no studies out there to support that mindset. Parents and grandparents, who often get the news through various media outlets on the TV, often point out that there are many things going wrong with the vaccine and vaccine distribution, ranging from allergic reactions to the destruction of vaccines. This discourages them from wanting to get their vaccine dose when it does eventually become available to them. While we can see the chain of reasoning, it’s important to keep in mind that these media outlets will generally report on these head-turning events: even if the allergic reactions are extremely rare (about one in 100,000), there will usually be a report on it because the headline will sell. When faced with empirical evidence such as this allergic reaction, it’s not only important to look at the evidence that is there but to also ask the question “what evidence is not here?” With all of this being said, when the vaccine comes out, we urge you to do your due diligence and do your own research in regards

to whether the vaccine is safe and come up with your own conclusion about whether you should get the vaccine or not. While there are significant arguments on the contrary, it's particularly important to consider the scientific benefits of vaccines and herd immunity. It is simultaneously advantageous for us to be skeptical of sensationalized claims of this vaccine’s potential ineffectiveness so as not to fall into the traps of a growing movement against the scientific community and vaccinations. Just as we should all be wary of a vaccine that has been created and tested within only a year, we should be equally wary of the “scientific” doubts made using no scientific or medical facts at all. In the meantime, since most college-aged people are not yet eligible for the vaccine, be sure to follow both Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and those set by Brandeis, which includes continuing to practice social distancing, wearing masks and limiting social gathering. And while university policy does not require double masking, new guidelines from the CDC have stated that double masking with a surgical and cloth mask can help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by 96.5 percent. We can still slow down the spread of the coronavirus even without a vaccine. Do your part to stop the spread.


February 12, 2021

The Brandeis Hoot 7

New course offered providing students with skills to work in ESL/bilingual education By Shruthi Manjunath editor

Students will engage with organizations in the Waltham community and in the ESL/Bilingual education program to learn more about the context of education and how to approach teaching individuals who have grown up in a bilingual environment, in a new course “Waltham Speaks: Multilingualism, Advocacy and Community.” “A very important goal for me is that both students and the organizations feel like they are gaining in some really tangible way,” Professor Rachel Kramer Theodorou (ED) wrote The Brandeis Hoot in an email. “Whether that is in the form of strong support for kids and families and/or if the class leaves my students feeling motivated to do more in the field of education and community work, I’d feel delighted!” The course will be taught in a hybrid format and rather than just having lectures, class time will involve active learning strategies using Google Jamboard, Padlet and Google slides. There will also

be many guest speakers and many opportunities to ask them questions. In addition, students will also complete assignments analyzing how bilingualism is perceived by the media. The class also requires that students do four to six hours of work each week interacting with families and children through Google Meet and Zoom and engaging in specific volunteering opportunities in the Waltham community such as through mentorship in Waltham, after school activities, community building in homerooms at the Waltham Public High School or adult education of English, among others. Students will also engage in an internship in which they will select a semester-long service project that they will work on to serve a specific organization in the Waltham community. Students will be given feedback every week and supervisors in the organizations they are involved in will aid them in their project. Theodorou explained that the moms at the Waltham Family School are the reason she decided to create this course. She previously advised a few moms at The

Waltham Family School weekly and talked to them about their families, their dreams for the future, the hardships of moving to a new country as a parent and the changes that could be made to the Waltham educational system and support system within the community. “I am a white, mostly monolingual person and I am increasingly aware of my privileges in and out of my University life, and keenly sensitive about a ‘white saviour’ portrayal I may convey,” Theodorou wrote to The Hoot. “It’s a work in progress to be able to share theory, research, pedagogy, and my own personal experiences working in and around Waltham from these aspects of my positionality.” Theodorou explained that she hopes the class can be a space where she can “step back” to make space for students, especially multilingual students, “to share perspectives and action steps toward more inclusive community organizational work.” This class will require lots of introspection in order to work towards methods that will provide multilingual youth with better opportunities. Theodorou hopes



that through spending time involved in organizations supporting youth and families, students will gain the experience they need in order to create meaningful change in other communities. She hopes that students will understand how to work with multilingual individuals so that they can be successful in the future when

working in ESL or bilingual education. “I’m excited to show my students more of the behind the scenes work Waltham community organizations and the public schools are doing to support but also amplify voices of multilingual children, youth and families,” she wrote to The Hoot.

New class explores African diaspora genres through Beyoncé’s music By Shruthi Manjunath editor

Are you a loyal Beyoncé fan? Do you love to blast “Lemonade” or “Formation” in your car and sing at the top of your lungs? A new class titled “AAAS/WGS 152B: Beyoncé and Beyond: The Politics of Black Popular Music” may be just the class for you. Professor Shoniqua D. Roach (AAAS/WGS) is excited to teach this class and hopes to use the space to manifest what Beyoncé gives off: pleasure, confidence and ease, she told The Brandeis Hoot in an interview. Roach was inspired by her students to teach the class. With her training focused on literature, visual culture and popular music, Roach has previously written essays on artists such as Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé. After joining the faculty during the 2019-2020 academic year, Roach was approached by Brittney Nanton ’21 and Kari Calloway ’21, who expressed their interest in a popular music class. Together they created a course that would focus on Beyoncé. In this class, Roach plans to use

Beyoncé’s music as an entry point into exploring African diaspora genres. The specific genres include: Disco, Hip-hop, Dancehall, Reggae, Soca, House and Techno, Neo-Soul, Jungle, R&B, Bounce, Afrobeats, Trap music and UK garage, Roach told The Hoot in an interview. The class will explore the social, political and economic topics that shape these genres and also discuss the shifts in beyonce’s career. Some examples of music videos that students will analyze include “Run the World (Girls)” as an introduction to jungle music, a discussion of its relationship to Reggae, UK garage, Bounce, and Afrobeats, “Baby boy” as a window into Dancehall music along with looking at it alongside scholarship by Latin Queer Jamacian folks, and “Naughty girl” as an introduction to Disco music along with scholarship on Beyoncé. Other music videos include “Black is King,” “Naughty Girl” and “I Love to Love You Baby,” among many others. Professor Roach expects covering Beyoncé’s robust repertoire to be the hardest part of teaching the class as Beyoncé has many songs that

convey various social and political messages. To keep students engaged, Roach plans to have course outings and virtual outings. Specifically, Brandeis will be hosting Daphne Brooks, a professor of African American Studies, Theater Studies, American Studies, and Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies at Yale University during the week of April 5. Students will read an essay about Daphne Brooks that week and then will attend one of her lectures during that week. Students will be expected to complete “reading memos,” where they respond to specific prompts based on the assigned readings. The students must answer the questions of “who, what, where, when and why” in these reading memos, Roach explained. For example, for a Beyoncé video, students could discuss whether it is a political statement of some kind and how it connects to black diasporic music. The final project consists of an op-ed piece in which students will produce a piece of popular music criticism, and if the student desires, Roach will help get their piece published.

Prerequisites: AAAS 5a, AAAS/WGS 125a or AAAS/WGS 136a. Email to confirm prereqs and for enrollment code.


Roach hopes that by the end of the semester, students are able to identify and describe theories in the African diaspora movement.

She hopes that students are able to refine their reading skills and learn how to write about important events in Black popular music.

Interested in writing for Features? 

8 The Brandeis Hoot


February 12, 2021

White supremacy on the footsteps of the Capitol By Abdel Achibat editor

As soon as I saw the infamously shared photo of a redneck with his boots up on the table of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it was evident white supremacy and white privilege were the true motivators of these Capitol riots. The smugness of this domestic terrorist as he acknowledged his own power alongside the thousand other rioters who felt that carrying an American flag and their whiteness were pacifiers to their oblivious aggression, are indicators of the undeniable existence of white privilege embedded in the justice system and police interactions. The mere possibility that thousands of deeply angered Trump supporters, most of which were white, could overrun the Capitol with little police aggression is in itself one of the modern day’s greatest displays of preference towards white people. While Black Lives Matter supporters were villainized, criminalized and subjected to intense police violence for a movement that in essence is a call for attention to this exact behavior, white people were able to storm one of our nation’s most important buildings and be peacefully led out. Beyond the clear comparison, this riot could be compared to previous instances of white outrage to socially lib-

eral advancements. The Capitol riots also showcase just how entitled some white Americans feel to the American government. Speaking on a more psychological level, the Capitol riots indicated that white people who fall victim to white supremacy and white privilege harbor a deep sense of entitlement to American society, American government and further confuse the autonomy of Black and brown Americans as property to America. It is evident they feel as if that Capitol building is theirs or ought to be theirs, and that their objections to the Black Lives Matter movement is their entitlement being challenged as they view the livelihoods of Black and brown Americans under their ownership and opinion. What’s even worse than these white supremacists viciously displaying their white privilege is that they were allowed to do so and televised the entire time. Within that one day on Jan. 6, the general public has once again normalized white anger and domination and institutionalized the response to such terrorism to be peaceful, simply for the fact that they are white and have societal power. It was once again indoctrinated into history that when white rioters act out, the police will stand by, but when Black people protest, they are beaten. As we move forward from 2021’s early slap in the face to Black and brown Ameri-

cans, it is particularly critical that we hold the Biden administration accountable in their response to these acts of white aggression. The current response and current attitude is not nearly enough nor is it on par to how the government would have responded had this been Black rioters. Not only must we seek out each and every one of these domestic terrorists, it is

imperative that there be a mentality shift in American bureaucracy and government so as to here on out always adequately and quickly respond to white terrorism. There must be a separate committee of government that prioritizes the threat of white supremacy as America’s closest and greatest foe. As this country becomes more Hispanic, more brown and

less white, our government must represent this and subsequently implement and protect our rights. It is a necessity that white aggression is met with governmental and punitive action, for this is the moment in history where we institutionalize serious consequences to white supremacy as opposed to the undeniable insensitive normalization that occured on Jan. 6.


Making the unacceptable, acceptable By Priyata Bhatta special to the hoot

12 hours. That is the unimaginable length of power cuts developing nations like Nepal experience every day. In the United States, the average electricity outage in a year lasts just over an hour. The gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in Nepal is 835.08 USD. The GDP per capita in the United States is 59,531.66 USD. It seems rather obvious that one of these is a developing country, and the other is not. However, even though Nepal has fewer resources in every way, they are taking bigger steps to shift to renewable energy, in particular, solar energy. Having lived in Nepal for over ten years, I have made a lot of beautiful memories there. However, one of the best memories is taking a very hot shower every afternoon after coming back from school. This was an experience that all my family members and my friends had as well. It took me years to realize that those after-

noon showers were amazing because many houses in the capital had solar panels that helped generate hot water. Not only that, but due to the extensive power cuts, a lot of houses individually started leaning towards solar energy to generate electricity. Although it was slightly expensive to install, its reliability made it profitable in the long run compared to an inverter/generator. It was only years later, after moving away from Nepal, that I realized this was a “renewable source of energy,” something unusual to a lot of Americans. Even though the idea of solar energy was introduced to already developed countries such as the United States earlier than to developing countries, the latter have been taking big steps to make solar energy more accessible. Fifteen percent of Nepal obtains power through solar grids, according to an article by the The Kathmandu Post. To promote renewables, a government body called the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC), offers subsidies and technical assistance

to ensure the quality of renewable systems and to monitor their performance. On top of that, the Nepali government has been preparing to make the installation of solar roof-top systems mandatory for government and commercial buildings. This would help generate 20 megawatts of electricity. There are a lot of reasons why people in developed nations like the United States believe that renewable energy such as solar power is not realistic. Looking at the Green New Deal, many Americans believe that it would take more than $5 trillion just to switch from coal, nuclear and natural gas to 100 percent renewables, making this an unfeasible option.The reduction of jobs and increased unemployment are also major concerns. However, this cost is spread out over many years and will pay itself off over time as renewable energy will not run out. In terms of employment, more job opportunities will be created due to the rising renewable energy market. Aside from the economic benefits, the biggest advantage of renewable energy is

that almost no greenhouse gases are emitted, leading to a smaller carbon footprint. The United States has a population of 327.2 million. With collective efforts to shift to renewable energy, approximately five billion metric tons of energy-related carbon dioxide could be reduced, which would positively impact the whole world, including developing countries like Nepal. Even though the United States does have a lot of ongoing solar and renewable projects, a large percentage of the population is still not inclined towards switching to renewable energy. This leads to a lack of individual action and also affects major political choices and decisions. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that in five years, solar will still be at 1 percent of the total energy production. However, the average American believes that this will go up to 20 percent.This shows a lack of awareness, responsibility and proactiveness of Americans to learn more towards solar energy.

If developing countries with fewer resources can do so much regarding renewable and mostly solar energy, countries like the United States can definitely achieve far more than what they are doing at the moment. This is definitely a part of common but differentiated responsibilities as Nepal and the United States have very different capabilities. It is important for the United States to acknowledge this and work accordingly instead of being in a position where they are compared to a less privileged country. People like myself who have spent so long in developing nations should not feel like there is a major lack of technological advancement in a country this prosperous. The solar energy that was the norm in Nepal feels like this unimaginable technological advancement that is so hard to access in the United States. Dear America, stop coming up with excuses and false justifications. Stop convincing your people that this is abnormal. Stop making the unacceptable acceptable!

February 12, 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

The Hoot’s favorite study spots By Sabrina Chow editor

As a second semester senior, which is still crazy to say, my study location habits have evolved over my years at Brandeis. During my first semester at Brandeis, I was usually in my room studying with my roommate and other friends. Then, I shifted to the library during the latter half of my first year, sophomore year and junior year. Oh the library, one of the best “hangout” places on campus in my opinion. A great space to not only be social but also study (for the most part). But a general public service announcement for whenever we are able to safely use the library in large quantities like before the coronavirus pandemic: it is just rude if you leave your stuff on a table and go off for hours on end. It’s just not fair to the rest of us. When my junior year rolled around, with the growing size of the student body, but the stagnation in amount of study space, I

By Emma Lichtenstein editor

The best place to study on campus is Goldfarb 2. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve been there (since I wasn’t on campus this past fall), but I imagine even under COVID-19 regulations, it’s still a perfect study hideaway. Farber is too noisy but the lower and upper levels of Goldfarb are too

By Victoria Morrongiello editor

Before COVID-19, I was a loyal studier in Upper Farber. Yes, I know, the most unproductive study spot, but also the most fun with a convenient location near the C-Store for snack runs. But having returned to campus, I haven’t stepped foot in the library once, which wouldn’t sound great if we weren’t in a pandemic. I’ve instead found some alternative study spots to accommodate the loss of Upper Farber, and I’ve really tried to monopolize on the outside spaces our campus has to offer. My favorite spot around campus is Chapels Field, not in the middle where you risk being

By Jonathan Ayash staff

Over the break, I was working on my resume to start applying for summer jobs. In many resume guidelines, I found online, it was emphasized that leadership experience should be near the top. My first question was why do people care about leadership so much? I guess it shows many different skills, such as organization, time management, ability to work in groups, competence, confidence and communication. My next question for myself was what makes a leader good? And this one was a bit more challenging to answer. To figure this out, I decided to think about a leader I look up to: the principal investigator (PI) of my lab. I have been in her lab for a little over a year and known her for multiple years,

often felt like I was walking in circles around Farber and Goldfarb trying to find a table to sit at or a chair to pull up to a table that a friend was already sitting at. Cramming seven or eight people around a small table in the library has to be one of the most entertaining, and chaotic, things I’ve dealt with throughout my years and some of my best memories. As much as I love the library, it isn’t always the best place to study and get work done, if I’m being completely honest. Every time I was there, I got work done, but I was always constantly distracted by friends, unless I was in the quiet parts of the library (which I often was anyway). But in an effort to separate myself from others and recluse to the hermit that my close friends know me as, I started to think about different places on campus where I could study. This may be a huge cop-out answer, but I don’t have a specific place that’s my favorite study place. During the latter half of

first semester junior year and up until we were sent home in spring 2020, my favorite study spaces were just random classrooms around campus, usually in the Heller School for Social Policy or in the humanities quad. During class hours, it was sometimes difficult to find rooms to go to because of my crippling fear of just barging into a class; however, at night, it was so easy just to go into a random building and find a random classroom to study in. Not only do these classrooms provide a change of scenery from the library, with practically no people and very little noise (unless you brought people with you, of course), but the access to resources (chalkboards, whiteboards, projectors, etc.) are unparalleled to what you could check out at the library. So, if you’ve got a long research paper to do, need a ton of space to write out mechanisms or just want to explore campus a little more while still being productive, go out, explore and find a random classroom to go study in!

quiet. Goldfarb 2 is the balance of “just right” that even Goldilocks would enjoy. No one is blasting music or having group project meetings on the floor, but also no one is gonna send a dirty look your way if you drop something or even sneeze too loudly. There are lots of different study spaces on this floor, from group desks that seat four to tiny one seaters next to the windows. My favorite spot was all the way in

the back, though. There are long desk tables meant for two people, but often only used by one. It was the perfect place to set up because I had room for my laptop, giant five subject notebook and any textbooks I might need. The desks had tall barriers separating them, even giving the illusion of privacy. I’m not sure what the library looks like this semester, but I really hope I’ll get to go visit my favorite semi-secluded spot on campus.

hit by a frisbee, but tucked away in the corner over by the chapels. It sounds a little strange to say behind the chapels, but it offers the ideal amount of shade for when it’s hot along with enough space from where everyone else is to provide some quiet. Plus the sounds from the wooded section right next to it act as white noise, which is really peaceful. Nothing like birds chirping to inspire you to do your work, am I right? All you need is a flat sheet, snacks and some work and you’re in business. Though, unfortunately, this study space is entirely dependent on the weather. Plus, there are two turkeys that may attack you if you encroach on their territory but are lovely from afar and honestly much nicer than the

racoons of Massell Pond. Also, I’d watch out for bees. On second thought you better just study in your room until we can be in a library without fear again.

By Aaron LaFauci editor

I am not fancy; I study in my room. I’ve tried the library. I have friends that stake out the little room off to the side for days on end in order to maintain control of the study space, but it just doesn’t work. The library is a place for meeting up with your friends while holding textbooks on your lap. I need absolutely no distractions in order to focus, and my dorm is the most boring, isolated place in the world. Some of

By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

When I lived on campus, there was no debate for me: The best study space is your room. However, now that I no longer live on campus, and sometimes have those annoying blocks between classes, I have had to find a suitable space on campus to study. I tried the library (near Starbucks, of course), but it was too noisy. I then tried the quiet room of the

By John Fornagiel editor

Of course, this only applies for the early and late months of the school year and does not include the cold months. But oh my gosh, when it is a gorgeous 70°F, there is no better place to study than outside. There is something about the sunny bright outdoors that just boosts my productivity compared to the artificial light in the dorm. I almost feel more motivated to better my life when I am outside compared to when I am indoors.

By Tim Dillon editor


OK, so it was a little more than a year ago when I discovered this great spot in Shiffman. It was underneath a staircase, where someone had decided to store a few cushioned chairs. Wait, stick with me. If you climbed over the ones in the front, there was actually enough room to sit in the back. And once you got back there, there was a window that let plenty of light in. You weren’t far from

What is a leader?

and her leadership style has been the most motivating for me. Rather than acting as the boss of the lab (which she could easily do as she is highly accomplished), she encourages everyone to be the leader of their own project. This allows everyone to choose a project in which they are interested and try to master it. Her facilitating leadership and responsibility onto each lab member allows the most amount of knowledge to be gained as she does not need to be involved in order for everyone to contribute. Each person is trying to maximize their knowledge in a concentrated field of their choice, rather than needing to split attention up into many different fields. This not only makes things more efficient but makes it so everyone is more willing to contribute and has more to contribute, as each person is the sole leader of their own project. She is able to dele-

gate the responsibility of the lab onto each individual rather than just on herself. Through all this, I have seen that she has been able to enable growth in each member of the lab, which is not just good to see as someone working under her but also good for the overall lab as now each member is stronger. Overall, I have been impacted by her unconventional (or at least unconventional to how leadership is commonly depicted) leadership style of encouraging everyone to be their own leader as I have seen how effective it can be when done properly. So I thought to myself, is this what leadership needs to be? In part, I think it could make a leader strong if they chose to implement this strategy. wBut it is not a requirement as many great leaders seem to have gone without doing this. That being said, I always thought that

the best leaders never think of themselves as leaders but rather as just part of the team. Therefore, I think directly involving the people following you is one of the things that makes a great leader. Is it the only thing? Absolutely not. At the end of the day, I did not come to a conclusion of what

you might strongly disagree. For most college students, a room is rife with colorful hangings and trinkets to ensnare attention. The trick is to design your living space in the most mundane way possible. I mean, I don’t even touch my room. I don’t add posters to the walls, and I keep any baubles and sentimental objects in the drawer. Tapestries are a sin as far as I am concerned. I’m a basement dweller at heart, however, and am used to spending days on end in a dark space, barely exiting the orbit of my bed to feed myself and visit the bathroom. library, but that place was straight up freaky. Like I am quiet when I study, but in that room, I felt bad for taking a pen out as that seemed to be way too loud. After more exploration, I found that the truly best spot to study on campus is an empty club office, like the ones on the third and second floor of the SCC. They are perfect: quiet, but you can be as loud as you want, you have privacy and hopefully a desk too. Moral of the story: join a club with an office. Bonus points if you can not only be outside but be surrounded by nature as well! I am talking about trees, flowers and wildlife all around you and soak up as many of those feel good vibes as you can! In fact, I am pretty sure that there are studies out there that link light and nature with productivity, so it could very well not just be me! With that being said, It is definitely a compromise if it is the winter-time to open up your window and let the natural light to try and take advantage of these productivity-boosting tips! the world, you could hear everything that was going on, but you were separated enough to have some privacy. Time didn’t pass quite so quickly back there; it was a space to take a moment and relax, to think and to escape. It was back there that I discovered Jorge Luis Borges, one of my favorite authors. It was back there that I sequestered myself to hide from stress. It was back there that I went to make a big decision or two. And strangely enough, I’ve really missed that kind of secret privacy this last year.

makes a great leader. I just came up with one idea. But I think if once a week I reflect on a leader that I look up to and analyze one technique I believe makes them a good leader and try to implement it, I can slowly try to become a better leader, and hopefully one day, a great one.



The Brandeis Hoot

February 12, 2021

To all the econ majors I’ve hated before By Thomas Pickering editor

I was sitting here at my desk just thinking about what kind of article of mine you Brandeisians would love to read in our first print for this semester. I am ashamed to admit that I was thinking about writing the cliché of how it’s a new year, new us and how we all make resolutions, how the coronavirus decided to be bigger than it already was and then made a new and deadlier variant, actually following through on its resolution, which I might add is impressive considering most white people made their resolution to be more aware of their actions and informing themselves on social justice issues but then went right back to eating at Chick-fil-A and shopping at Forever 21. So koodoos to the coronavirus for having follow through and backbone, something the Brandeis administration could have benefitted from having when they drafted their not so anti-racist anti-racism plan. But enough about the all-loving and caring leader of Brandeis, it’s time I talked to you guys about the real issue on my mind, the real sauce in the pasta if you know what I mean. This article is dedicated to economics majors because, for the life of me, I cannot understand how economics is a major. I have three main issues with you all, and I hope one of you cave dwelling, number

crunching monsters can explain this “subject” to me. My first issue with economics programs is that you cannot seem to define what your word means. Economic, the economy and econ for short and three words that are all over and mean different things! When you go to buy a car, most people buy an “economic” vehicle. What does that mean? Will this car do my taxes and report my earnings to the IRS for me? Does this car actively buy and sell stocks on Wall Street? Is that why smoke comes out of the tailpipe? Is it smoking a Cuban cigar back there and is rolling in money, cocaine and motor oil when I am not in it? So, economics majors, you have got to figure this stuff out. You say the economy is invisible, yet when I buy an economy ticket for a plane, everyone in first class looks at me weird. So obviously the economy is not invisible then and instead is something rich people look down on. You economics majors either need your own word or need to explicitly define the one you have because it’s too loose and open, and you need to lock that down like a Catholic mother to her daughter. My second grievance comes with the substance of your major. Why does economics have so many courses? You could learn all of econ in like a 47-minute vsauce video on YouTube, yet you guys insist on so many classes and weird terms. Stop saying transmission deficits and just say cost. You do not need these complicat-


ed words or these weird rules that all have exceptions. They aren’t rules if every rule has a disclaimer underneath it; it’s then just words on a page that have no real meaning. The economy will just do as it wants to like the weird anime kid in elementary school doing Naruto runs and Kamehame waves at recess. Caleb will be fine, you just need to let him be him, and he won’t weird you out. Then my third and final real problem with this major is that it should not be a major if 13-year-

old children on reddit can change it on a dime. If my little brother, who is only 17, had absolute control over let’s say the WiFi download speeds in my house, I wouldn’t make a major deal out of it because one day it may be super high and the other it may be super low. Not because he follows rules or patterns but because it was high when he wanted to download NBA 2K21 and low when he wanted to see his family suffer over terrible Zoom meetings. That’s not a pattern, that’s being

an evil genius, and when reddit of all things brings the economy to its knees through GameStop of all companies, then you know it’s time to start folding up the tent and leaving. In essence, economics majors, I will never understand you or your subject. It is weird and seems fake, but I guess it keeps you guys occupied and away from doing whatever bad things you guys may do like I don’t know—keeping a book from the library for too long? So, stay weird that’s all I have to say.

Dunkin’s Valentine’s Day menu By John Fornagiel and Sasha Skarboviychuk editors

With Valentine’s Day approaching, we decided that it is our duty as food reviewers to try Dunkin’s new menu items. They have two new donuts: Cupid’s Choice Donut, which is filled with Bavarian Kreme and strawberry-flavored icing, and Brownie Batter Donut, which is filled with a chocolate buttercream filling, with vanilla icing and chocolate sprinkles. The donuts will cost you $1.35 each, and did we mention that they are heart shaped? So cute. The seasonal drink is the Pink Velvet Macchiato, which “combines Dunkin’s rich espresso with red velvet cake flavor and hints of cream cheese icing,” according to their website. The coffee is a very cool pink color (before you mix it) and will cost you $4.59 for a large.

Pink Velvet Iced Macchiato

John I am not sure what it is about me, perhaps it is my hatred of strawberries and strawberry-flavored things, but I despise pink-colored food. Like for example with this pink velvet iced macchiato, I saw its color and INSTANTLY knew that I was not going to be a big fan of it. With that being said, when I took a sip of this drink, I was not met with the strawberry flavor that I was expecting. Instead, I was met with a refreshing macchiato flavor that I could definitely get behind. So, with that being said, (and maybe this is because my expectations were set so low), I would give this drink a seven out of 10. Sasha I was very surprised at how much I actually enjoyed the coffee; although I love red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting, usually when things like this get turned

into a coffee, it just flops. But this was surprisingly good! I expected it to be way too sweet, but it actually had a very nice flavor to it. It tasted like coffee with milk, but it also had a vanilla flavor to it along with something else that I can’t quite describe. Overall, I would rate it an 8.5 and am totally going to get it next time we go to Dunkin’ (if it’s still available). Cupid’s Choice Donut John Remember how I said I disliked pink-colored food? Well, the pink velvet iced macchiato was absolutely the exception to that rule. I really did not like this donut; it reminded me of strawberries (and just in general the pink taste) and oh boy I cannot get behind that. This gets a five from me and I will absolutely not be getting this next time I go to Dunkin’. Also, one thing I have not mentioned yet is that this had filling inside of it, and I also really dislike cream


fillings inside of donuts. That is TWO checks on my “food pet peeves” list on only one donut. Sasha I have to admit, I do not love classic cream-filled donuts. They aren’t bad, but they almost always have way too much filling and it’s just a way-too-sweet mess. This, however, was a decent donut. The amount of filling was actually not too crazy. Would I buy it again? Probably not, but it was a nice change of donut. Overall I would rate it a seven. Brownie Batter Donut


John When I first bit into this donut, I thought it was amazing: the dough of the donut mixed perfectly with the sugary-chocolate frosting. However, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t curious why it was


called a “Brownie Batter” donut, and then I found out the ugly truth. The donut was filled with a chocolate sauce similar to brownie batter. Now, if you read my other review on the Cupid’s Choice donut, you’ll see that I do NOT like fillings in donuts. However, this was a chocolate filling, so it was not terrible. Also, it’s not strawberry, which also gets some positive marks from me. Overall, I would give this donut a six out of 10. Sasha This donut actually really surprised me: I really liked it and am definitely dragging John to Dunkin’ for it soon. The chocolate brownie cream filling was really good, and there was just the perfect amount of it in the donut. I also liked the vanilla frosting, and how it complimented the chocolate filling. Overall, I would rate it an eight.


February 12, 2021

The Brandeis Hoot 11

‘evermore’ is a gold-infused dream By Caroline O and Emma Lichtenstein editors

Though other artists could drop two back-to-back surprise albums during a pandemic, only Taylor Swift could produce the two strongest albums of her career. Taylor welcomed December with “evermore,” the “sister album” to her summer release “folklore.” “evermore” continues the indie-folk sound that Taylor introduced in her previous surprise album. With the soothing guitar of “willow” and “coney island,” the soft piano introductions of “happiness” and “evermore” and the dreaminess of “ivy” and “gold rush,” this album has everything that made people fall in love with Taylor’s music and then some. This particular album is full of powerful lyrics, but “tolerate it” is easily one of the more memorable tracks. As the fifth track in her albums are known to be the most emotionally vulnerable ones, fans shouldn’t be surprised by the rawness of this particular song. However, “tolerate it” takes emotional vulnerability to the next level by telling the incredibly visual story of a person loving someone who, as the title suggests, only tolerates it. With lyrics such as “use my best colors for your portrait,” Taylor goes straight for the hearts of those who have ever felt as though their love for another was never appreciated or fully returned. The explored heartbreak in this track reaches its peak in the bridge, with the powerful lyrics: “you assume I’m fine, but what

would you do if I … take this dagger in me and removed it?” Here, Taylor captures the desperation one feels when recognizing that a relationship is too one-sided, and by doing so, she leaves her listeners feeling, like the song suggests, as though a dagger had stuck itself inside. Despite the intensity of the fifth track on every Taylor album, the beautiful imagery in this song makes it Caroline’s favorite track five. With track eight, Taylor once again showcases the power of her songwriting, with poetic lines that speak of, crazily enough, infidelity. Using imagery that rivals the beauty of Neruda’s love sonnets, “ivy” takes listeners on a journey about a broken marriage (perhaps the one described in “tolerate it?”) and a new love that will heal the pain. The track opens with a stunning revelation, “how’s one to know, I’d meet you where the spirit meets the bones, in a faith-forgotten land?” Her way with words has always been phenomenal but it is clear that when Taylor said in “folklore” to take her “to the lakes where all the poets went to die,” she made sure to learn from the ghosts still clinging to the memory of their words. Her voice is like liquid honey injected straight into the veins, flooding your heart with an unexpected warmth. It’s no surprise that this is Emma’s favorite song from the album, and even one of her favorite Taylor songs of all time. Another standout came in the form of a bonus track only available on the deluxe edition. With “right where you left me,” Taylor takes listeners on a journey that is all too relatable. “I could feel the


mascara run, you told me that you met someone. Glass shattered on the white cloth, everybody moved on” portrays the heartbreak one feels when facing unexpected abandonment by someone you love. She sings about all of her friends, all of the people in her life both familiar and strange, growing up and living as she stays stuck in time, unable to move on from an ended relationship: “Did you hear about the girl who lives in delusion? Break-ups happen every day, you don’t have to lose it. She’s still 23 inside her fantasy.” This haunting track goes back to the singer’s country roots in the form of a devastating ballad that sounds like it came straight off the B-side of “RED.” The biggest surprise on “evermore” was the angry bluesy anthem of track six: “no body, no

crime.” In this collaboration with HAIM—an indie band made up of the Haim sisters: Este, Danielle and Alana—Taylor goes back to her country roots, giving listeners a revenge song reminiscent of early works by legends like Reba McEntire and The Chicks. She takes advantage of this collaboration, telling the (imagined) story of Este’s murder, cheating husband and the subsequent framing of his mistress. Taylor especially channels female rage in the bridge, “Good thing Este’s sister’s gonna swear she was with me (She was with me, dude). Good thing his mistress took out a big life insurance policy!” Taylor’s more recent works have been rather light and soft so it was refreshing to listen to a more mature version of the angst that characterized her debut album. The track is maybe

a little out of place on an indie record, but who doesn’t love a good song about murdering cheaters and criminalizing homewreckers? Whether or not Taylor decides to release a third surprise album, listeners have plenty to digest and pick apart “evermore” every time they want to paint portraits, return to dreamlands or maybe commit some morally questionable deeds. Each track is a new story to lose yourself in, a new tragedy to delve into and explore. Complete with the powerful images and themes of love and loss that only Taylor could promise in an album, “evermore” is a sure favorite for listeners ready to go on another magical adventure. So, if you’re ready for it, feel free to listen to this album while doing any of your other mundane tasks and let yourself be whisked away.

The poetry that kicked off the Biden Administration By Uma Jagwani staff

Words carry the weight of reality in an extremely precarious balance. Enter Amanda Gorman. On Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, Gorman was featured as the youngest inaugural poet yet, and she performed her poem “The Hill We Climb” that offered a reprieve from the cerebral nature of the inauguration and offered a moment of contemplation, reflection and feeling. In addition, Lin-Manuel Miranda performed Seamus Heaney’s poem “The Cure of Troy” during the evening’s live stream inaugural celebration. The theme of this inauguration’s program highlights unity, truth

and healing—and yet, poetry has always championed these ideals. American literary critic Harold Bloom once said, “poetry is anxiety”—a feeling that everyone that lived through 2020 is probably familiar with. While both poems offered a moment for thought and observation, Gorman’s poem is unsatisfyingly optimistic while the Heaney poem speaks to something more apparent in the zeitgeist. “The Hill We Climb,” is an inspiring poem written in rhyme that confronts the audience with the mindset that we should face our difficulties. It begins with the question, “where can we find light in this never-ending shade?” Gorman asks the obvious question after the phenomenon of 2020, as


we try to recuperate in the midst of catastrophe. The poem offers sentiments of putting “differences aside,” which leads to the words that I believe capture the most heat in the hearts of Americans watching: “if nothing else, say this is true: / that even as we grieved, we grew / that even as we hurt, we hoped / that even as we tired, we tried / that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.” This was one of the most poignant and (forgive me) relatable moments of the poem. The duality of existing through 2020 is that even as the world seems to be dying, individuals are still living, and these lines reconcile this conflicted, dumbfounded feeling. Although this was where the poem is at its best, it degrades into a sense of blind optimism in the following lines: “Not because we will never again know defeat / but because we will never again sow division.” Gorman’s assertion that “we will never again sow division” is a hope that reduces political conflict to the people’s responsibility, rather than that of the government and those in power. This had my head turned away from the TV in disinterest. Gorman’s poem is also a call to action in some ways as she continues to say that “if we merge mercy with might, / and might with right, / then love becomes our legacy.” These lofty concepts of “mercy” and “might” seems to romanticize the struggles of Americans, which reduces the images of 2020: tents used as makeshift hospital rooms, mass graves, children in cages at the southern borders, rent not being paid, families going

hungry, misinformation spread by powerful companies and protests against systemic racism and police brutality in our country. Although Gorman’s words hold wonderful sentiments, it’s too easy, and I don’t buy it since the lines don’t allow for subtle complexities to shine through. Most momentous movements in history are never as simple as merging mercy, might and righteousness. I don’t disagree with Gorman on a conceptual level—she is speaking a truth, and yet the poetic phrasing of such a simplistic, bold statement does not meet the standard of poetry that necessarily melts my bones. On the other hand, “The Cure of Troy,” recited by Miranda, is a poem that makes a more powerful poetic statement and leaves room for personal interpretation. It’s a subtler, more nuanced poem that directly addresses suffering and does not have any implied calls to action like in Gorman’s poem. Heaney writes, “Human beings suffer. / They torture one another. / They get hurt and they get hard. / No poem or play or song / can fully right a wrong / inflicted and endured.” The first stanza offers an eerie and unwitting response to Gorman’s poem that seemed to try and achieve exactly that. Heaney’s poem evokes catharsis, it acknowledges suffering with no frills, whereas Gorman’s poem discusses the human capability for mercy and might, which is too idealistic by comparison. Heaney’s poem is hopeful in something greater. “Believe in miracles. / And cures and healing wells. / Call miracle self-healing,

/ the utter self-revealing / double-take feeling.” For Heaney, miracles take only belief. Gorman on the other hand implies through her last lines that “there is always light as long as we are brave enough to be it.” In these lustrous lines, Gorman calls on the audience to cultivate bravery in addition to merging mercy and might. If 2020 has taught me anything, is that we have already been braver than we think by merely fighting systemic racism and a pandemic, and, for me, Gorman’s sentiment misses that mark. Instead, Heaney ends his poem with a more emblematic thought: “It means once in a lifetime / that justice can rise up / and hope and history rhyme.” In spite of my criticism, I know that Gorman’s is the type of poem that can pervade the masses in its simplicity. “The Hill We Climb” is a unique poem because it speaks to everyone and it tries to be about everything. Gorman’s poem has seemed to meet the moment and sparked a new interest in poetry. reported an increase in traffic to its website by 250 percent since the inauguration, and Gorman’s poetry books are topping bestseller charts. Gorman’s poem was a hit and it was able to reach the hearts of the people, even though personally, it feels more like a poetic pep talk than a true poem that makes the “top of my head fall off,” as Emily Dickinson once said. “The Cure of Troy” conveys the degree to which most of life’s conditions are out of our control. There is a quiet power in Gorman’s words and a renewed interest in poetry for a new generation can only be a good thing.


The Brandeis Hoot

February 12, 2021

‘WandaVision’: A tour de force through the decades By Zach Katz special to the hoot

In 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” the android Avenger, Vision (Paul Bettany), dies. Despite those unfortunate circumstances, “WandaVision,” the first of several upcoming Disney and Marvel projects, shows Vision well and alive in 1950s Americana. Confused? Welcome to the club. “WandaVision” fully commits to its concept with little regard for the larger context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and if the first four episodes are any indication, Disney seems content to bring its audience along for the ride whether they understand what is happening or not. At first, watching “WandaVision” is like being thrown in the deep end of a pool without even being introduced to the concept of swimming. The first three episodes, titled “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience,” “Don’t Turn That Dial” and “Now in Color,” each perfectly mimic the tone and style of sitcoms produced from the fifties, sixties and seventies, respectively. The first two episodes are even in black and white! While Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision endure typical sitcom plotlines like participating in a talent show or having the boss over for dinner, the audience is forced to grapple with a pressing question: “How is Vision alive?” The show seems particularly intent on not only not answering those questions, but completely ignoring them. The sitcom world that Wanda

and Vision inhabit is fully realized: they have neighbors like Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) and Dottie (Emma Caulfield Ford), and friends like Geraldine (Teyonah Parris). While the commitment to the sitcom format might bore some regular MCU viewers, I found it totally entertaining and engaging, particularly with how the commitment extended to even the Disney+ episode descriptions. That same commitment also makes the uncanny moments and glitches stand out even more. The shift in the first episode’s dinner sequence is as thrilling as it is disturbing, as is the attempted radio contact in the second episode. Geraldine’s direct reference to Ultron, who killed Wanda’s brother Pietro in the second “Avengers” movie is so stunning that it literally tears down “WandaVision’s” sitcom charade. The final shot of Wanda standing over her twins’ cribs claiming that Geraldine went home is both ethereal and horrifying, particularly knowing the twins’ fate in the comics. Although nothing explicitly states this in the first three episodes, it is clear that “WandaVision” is some kind of adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis’s 2004 “House of M” storyline. In that comic, driven mad by the loss of her children, Wanda is manipulated by her brother into rewriting reality to give everyone their greatest wish. Wanda’s pregnancy, and the fact that Vision is alive when he should very much be dead, should give any comic book fan red flags even before the fourth episode, fittingly titled “We

Interrupt This Program,” pulls back the curtains on what’s been happening just outside of Westview. “We Interrupt This Program” feels like a major turning point not only for “WandaVision” but also for the MCU as a whole. Alongside the revelation that Geraldine is really Monica Rambeau from “Captain Marvel,” the show also brings in Randall Park’s Jimmy Woo from “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and Kat Dennings’ Darcy Lewis from the first two Thor movies. Three secondary characters from totally different MCU movies are now working together against one threat. Unfortunately for them, that threat appears to be Wanda. This episode revisits her confrontation with Monica inside the sitcom. Marking the return of her signature “red magic hands” powers, Wanda throws Geraldine out of Westview before turning to see her husband’s corpse. Much like Wanda herself, I imagine most viewers gasped when the screen cut to Vision’s smashed-in forehead. “We Interrupt This Program” successfully recontextualizes many events previously seen while setting the stage for the last five episodes of the series. The acting, both from MCU returning players and the newbies, is superb. Olsen and Bettany both add totally new dimensions to their characters, although it appears that Vision may not actually be there, which is slightly disappointing. Wanda’s transition from a classic sitcom housewife to an all-powerful antagonist is incredible to watch. There is clearly


something about Agnes and Dottie being hidden from the audience, although I am not entirely sure what that is. While rewatching the episodes, I noticed that Agnes is the only character to talk about actually having been some place other than Westview. In the world beyond the sitcom, Jimmy Woo remains a delightful presence and I find Darcy much more fun than I remember her being in “Thor.” Most of this review was written before the fifth episode, “On This Very Special Episode…,” aired, but it seems important to address several important events. The in-show sitcom format shifts forward once more to the 1980s, while Wanda’s twins also demonstrate the ability to shift their age, quickly aging from newborns to ten-year-olds for the sake of keeping a dog. Through conflicts with both SWORD and Vision, Wanda firmly establishes herself as at least one of this show’s antagonists. Vision is now aware that

something is off about their town, and Agnes continues to demonstrate a higher level of awareness. And there is a huge character introduction that could change everything about the MCU. After more than a year without any new MCU material, “WandaVision” is a breath of fresh air. Although it is only the first MCU Disney+ show due to a change of schedule, using it as the inaugural one just makes sense. Not only does “WandaVision” continue the title characters’ stories in a new and interesting direction, but the show also acts as a celebration of TV as a medium. Trailers seem to confirm that the 2010s episode will be homaging “Modern Family,” and having the 1990s episode take style from “Full House” seems obvious with an Olsen onboard. As for the others, and what will happen in the final episode, I guess we will have to wait and see. One thing is for certain, by the time “WandaVision” finishes, Wanda will never be the same.

‘Wonder Woman 84:’ The perils of trying when you shouldn’t By Sam Finbury staff

There is a certain liberation to not having any standards, cataclysmic failure freeing you from all expectations. The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) had this freedom. Like a skyscraper built on sand, their whole experiment has collapsed, and while some can still find shelter amidst the ruins, it’s rather shabby housing compared to what Marvel has built. But rather than being another cog within a greater cinematic universe, the DCEU can now be a series of anthologies, shirking restrictive continuity and surpassing Marvel in originality. With the release of movies like “Birds of Prey” and “Joker,” it seems they are heading in that direction. “Wonder Woman 84” (“WW84”) sets its niche in the popular realm of 1980s nostalgia, attempting to transmute the endearing camp of the Christopher Reeve “Superman” series into the modern cinematic arena. It’s all one liners, winks at the camera and hammy villains. The plot, which revolves around a magical wishing stone wielded by an eccentric oil tycoon, taps into peak 80s adventure weirdness and harkens back to the silver age of comics when magical nonsense happened constantly. However, while “WW84” tries to embody this 80s-style plot, it doesn’t commit to it. Under the impression that it needs to fulfil certain modern storytelling expectations, “WW84” carries itself with some measure of “seriousness” and “complexity.” In attempting to create a shlock-

fest Christopher Reeve Superman plot populated by Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman characters, this film tries to serve two masters and so betrays both. If Reeve’s “Superman” were released today, people would still enjoy it. Audiences would laugh about Superman’s mind-erasing kiss, or how you can rewind time by reversing the earth’s rotation, but people in the 80s laughed at those same things and still bought tickets. The simplistic nature of it all actually adds to the film’s value because Reeve’s Superman series is already thoroughly simple. It doesn’t attempt to illustrate a theme or provide deeper characters or try to be anything other than entertaining. Its campy and colorful style is manifested throughout its every aspect and so it works as a film, even now. “WW84” fails for the same reason Goldfinger would fail with Daniel Craig’s Bond. It’s attempting to satisfy some modern superhero movie quota without accommodating the goofiness of its plot. And so we have a movie that acts like it has things to say and characters to take seriously all while giving me a candy-floss silly plot full of 80s cheese. Take Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), who tries to use the wishing stone to become a… god or something, it’s not important. Pascal is obviously having the time of his life playing this scenery-chewing villain. Unfortunately, the film gives him a kid and a sad backstory to make him “sympathetic” and pushes a “success doesn’t make you a great man” theme on him. This attempt at complexity only waters down Lord as a villain,

making me care less about him than if he were just a cartoonish, cornball bad guy. In the 80s Superman, Lex Luthor wanted to nuke California into the ocean so he could sell beachfront property in the desert. You can’t make that kind of movie and give that type of villain a sob story and a redemptive lesson. You tell us to let Maxwell into our hearts, so we try, and then we spit him out because the motives behind his designs are lackluster. Trying to make us empathize with him makes us like him less. If “WW84” hadn’t tried to be anything more than easy-going Christopher Reeve fun, it would have worked. But it wanted layered characters and disectable themes and so forces the audience to peel back those layers and take a scalpel to those themes. Ironically, if they hadn’t tried at all, then we would never have noticed how little they tried. “WW84” tells us it has emotional, serious characters but it doesn’t deliver. The best part of the movie is when Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) apprehends thieves at a mall, throwing them around on laughably unconvincing wirework, using her tiara as a boomerang, getting a child out of danger by throwing her into a giant teddy bear. But after that she mopes around because of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), a guy she had a fling with 70 years prior. I find myself asking why Wonder Woman, of all characters, let her entire life get defined by a man. And when she wishes him back to life, I find this “love story for the ages” to be utterly flavorless and Wonder Woman’s stapled-on plight


of choosing between happiness and her duty to the world to be a wheel-spinning waste of energy. I wonder why this film is even set in 1984. Of course there is the practical element of a setting before Batman and Superman so you don’t have to explain why their actors, who ditched the DCEU, won’t be showing up to save the world again. Aside from the Christopher Reeve-esque plot that there is no 80s color scheme, minimal 80s references and confoundingly, no 80s inspired soundtrack. There is no beating heart of nostalgia present in this movie, rather a cynical lust to be the remora to the Stranger Things’

shark. With other DCEU films, as bad as they could be, I could at least muster up some emotion around them. But this? Nothing. I feel nothing for the dumb plot, the lazy writing, the uninspired performances or the “tragic” love story of Steve and Diana which the film is under the illusion we in anyway care about. And now that WandaVision and Loki are coming out to act as Marvel’s little laboratory of originality, even “WW84’s” fleeting uniqueness in the superhero cinematic space has been quickly eclipsed. I suppose DCEU has surpassed Marvel in one category, banality.

February 12, 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

‘Devotion:’ an alright Taiwanese horror game By Stewart Huang editor

Perhaps I had unreasonably high expectations for “Devotion.” Made by Red Candle Games, it’s a first-person, 3D horror game and the spiritual successor of “Detention,” another Taiwanese horror game I really enjoyed and reviewed for The Brandeis Hoot. But alas, I’m disappointed to report that Devotion is only an alright, not so scary horror game with tired tropes. Though the game is still worth a play for its art direction alone. Before I begin, I must talk about the obvious inspiration behind “Devotion:” “P.T.” This is a playable teaser for the now cancelled game “Silent Hills” that features looping hallways, obscure puzzles and a spooky ghost lady that stalks the player. Despite being only a teaser, “P.T.” was an instant classic, inspiring countless other games that attempt to emulate its success. These knock-offs always copy the most superficial aspects, like the family tragedy (the husband does something horrible due to mental illness or some other reason and now his dead wife haunts him in his own personal hell). Devotion is similarly iterative and falls into many of these design pitfalls, though it is by no means just another uninspired “P.T.” clone. In fact, it’s probably the best game in this subgenre.

Rather than using the cliche family tragedy as a set for scary spectacles, “Devotion” cares deeply about its story. This thoughtfulness is to a fault, as disturbing visual storytelling often crowds out the actual scares. The game does succeed at making you care about the story and its characters. However, no matter how nicely told the story is, it’s still the same archetypal family tragedy. The game can’t help but show its hand about midway through, and the plot becomes quite predictable from there. Another complaint I have is that the setting—1980s Taiwan— isn’t utilized well. In the developer’s previous game “Detention,” the story is specific to its setting. It can only happen during that time, so it made sense why that period was chosen. In “Devotion,” you find out that the cause of the tragedy is rather generic. The plot could probably be set anywhere else and it would still make sense. There’s a missed opportunity here. The developers could have used something specific to Taiwan in the 80s as their inciting incident, so that not only would the story be more exciting, but it would also serve as a valuable history lesson like the one we got in “Detention.” Also, for a horror game, “Devotion” suffers from a lack of engaging horror gameplay due to its (over) emphasis on storytelling. The experience is like a shallow, artificial haunted house ride: you

go to a place, wait for something spooky to happen, solve a simple puzzle or two—finding relevant objects and putting them in the right places to trigger the next event—and then move on to the next place. Rinse and repeat. The levels don’t possess a lot of variety either, with most of them being composed of looping rooms changing in small details as the story moves along. And there is only the facade of danger throughout the game as the ghost only comes after you in a couple of places. For the most part, you’re perfectly safe, which is something I realized pretty quickly and lost all sense of dread as a result. There needs to be a balanced inclusion of real danger and downtime for storytelling. As it stands, “Devotion” is just not that scary, though this wouldn’t have been such an issue if the story was more compelling. Thankfully, the game is carried by its uniquely Taiwanese aesthetic. The developer does a great job rendering these elements as corrupted by time and tragedy, so that the setting feels run-down yet almost alive, as if it’s possessed by some malignant force—its culture and civilization turning on the people who created them. The most striking image I have to offer as an example is probably that of the old apartment door, which is illuminated by a single dim tube, surrounded by wooden bars, plastered with red papers of Chinese symbols and images and


accompanied by a dusty green mailbox on the side. To the eastern crowd, these elements appear as a perversion of their memory of that distant past, which makes the game so unsettling. But for the western audi-

ence, I’d imagine it would be the unfamiliarity that’s so frightening and thus such a breath of fresh air. That’s why I think you should still play “Devotion” despite its flaws. It’s an aesthetic experience that just can’t be found elsewhere.

‘Possessor’ is a horrific tale of technological intrusion By Lucy Fay staff

“Possessor” directed by Brandon Cronenberg is ostentatious, confusing and wholly unique in its artistic vision. This surrealist dramatic horror may be memorable and thought-provoking, but that does not excuse the vague, and at times boring, plot this movie is built upon. The extreme gore and beautifully constructed transitional sequences throughout this film partially make up for the lack of tonal consistency or clear themes within the storyline. The beauty of “Possessor” cannot be downplayed, but it still should not be hailed as any sort of masterclass in horror. Simply put, this movie is about the top employee at a company that is paid to assassinate people in very discreet ways. Specifically, the human employee possesses

a targeted human host, through vague scientific methods, and forces that host to carry out the assassination and then shoot themself. The principal character, Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough), is mentally struggling, both in her intense work life as a possessor and at home, in connecting with her ex-husband and son. The movie follows Tasya in her chaotic, death-filled journey of self-actualization. The themes in this movie are rather confusing. After watching it twice, I still feel there are many aspects of the film I did not fully grasp. And I think a lot of this comes from the film’s attempts to tackle too many topics. There were allusions to vaping, privacy, wealth disparities, toxic friendships and other contentious modern-day discussions, but none of them tied together and none of them went anywhere. The one clear theme through-

out the movie was its critique of modern technology, which in itself is quite a broad topic. The film explores this theme thoroughly, but its anti-technology rhetoric is blunt and unoriginal. An example of this theme is seen in Tasya’s primary host, Colin’s (Christopher Abbott), job. He works alongside hundreds of employees secretly looking through computer cameras to observe strangers’ homes. What we see of Colin’s job is his random observation of different cameras. He secretly observes a young woman, a child, and people having sex, all for the purpose of taking a census on window blinds. There are a dozen movies and television episodes solely about this exact topic, of using built-in cameras to stalk people covertly. To make it a side detail in a fictional movie to emphasize a lack of privacy feels underdeveloped and lazy. Cinematically, “Possessor” may have many unique as-


pects, but it does not tackle technology in a way that separates the film from an average episode of “Black Mirror.” Cinematically this movie demonstrates originality and inventiveness, successfully creating a uniquely eerie atmosphere. While it has clear influences, including the director’s father, David Cronenberg, “Possessor” is far from a cookiecutter horror. Throughout the entire film, it is never clear what exactly is going on. Depending on the viewer, this can be seen as a pro or a con. I believe the ambiguity of the storyline was, for the most part, done elegantly and therefore added to the atmosphere. The world is never clearly laid out for us. We have no context for Tasya’s company or the first murder that takes place; all we ever really know is what is currently being shown to us. “Possessor” dedicates itself to telling the story of the humans within a world as opposed to building out the world through the lens of the humans within it. On top of the interesting worldbuilding, the feature that makes this movie really stand out, and the primary reason for its acclaim, is the cinematography, more specifically its usage of light, color and shifting perspectives to enhance the story. The dramatic yellows and oranges that dominate the scenes when Tasya enters a host’s body, or the deep blue that colors the shifting mindsets of Tasya and Colin within Colin’s body make those scenes memorable and stunning. “Possessor” is filled with moments where the audience is pulled into the story and the imagery on screen is exciting, but

these moments are separated by rather intense lulls. It was not boring so much as it was tedious. In between moments of authentic gore or graphic sex are slow conversations between characters I do not care about. Random characters, most often friends of the host body, are introduced and provide awkward attempts at humor or glimpses into mundanity that do a disservice to the rest of the movie. A slightly tense get-together among friends occurs moments after a major problem is introduced, disrupting the flow of the film and forcing the audience to care about a random situation when they have yet to process a major plot point. The reason this movie never properly bored me was because of how thrilling and downright disturbing a few segments were. The five or six moments of gore are both excessive and artful with the result of incredible realism. They are powerful and necessary and Cronenberg shows slightly more detail in his kills than the majority of horror directors, all to the benefit of the movie as a whole. This movie entertained and impressed me but ultimately needed polishing. Its most disturbing beats are on par with “Hereditary” and “Ichi the Killer” but as a whole, it is not a movie I plan to revisit. Images of technological intrusion were frightening in the context of the movie but do not inspire real-world contemplation. Character arcs were interesting to piece together but none stuck out as particularly memorable. “Possessor” is a film beautifully shot and edited that, upon multiple viewings, lacks the substance to be considered a truly great film.


The Brandeis Hoot

February 12, 2021

Surviving ‘Promising Young Woman’ By Celia Young special to the hoot

Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers. A woman is parked in an intersection. A pick-up truck pulls up next to her—inside, a man screams at her to move. She steps out calmly and takes a tire iron to his windshield as a chorus of violins surge. In that moment Cassie (Carrie Mulligan) shows us what “Promising Young Woman” does best: rage. We meet Cassie, seemingly drunk and in a shitty club—part of her nightly routine of hunting the supposed “nice guy,” who inevitably picks her up and attempts to assault her. In the encounters we see, Cassie is in complete control—inspiring fear in the uninspiring author Neil (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and business-bro Jerry (Adam Brody). These scenes represent how “Promising Young Woman” was marketed: as a rape-revenge thriller about a woman hunting sexual predators. The trailer promises a “delicious new take on revenge,” but Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut is the opposite of what its previews implied. Instead of the satisfying, violent ends the viewer expects to befall these men, the marketing obscured the film’s real focus: an exploration of Cassie’s

rage and its consequences. Cassie, a coffee shop employee and med-school drop out, is content to live with her parents and enact her nightly revenge rather than move out or move on. But when Cassie meets her old classmate and new love interest Ryan (Bo Burnham), she’s reminded of an undisclosed trauma that occurred at her alma mater. That’s where her best friend, Nina Fisher, was raped—leading her to commit suicide. Cassie sets out to punish everyone who brushed off Nina’s rape, like her former classmate Madison (Allison Brie) and her former medical school’s Dean Walker (Connie Britton). Cassie’s punishments are formed in the image of male violence. She gaslights Madison into believing she may have been raped and convinces Walker that her daughter is about to be. When Cassie confronts her, Walker claims these boys are innocent until proven guilty. But when Cassie says she’s dropped the Dean’s daughter off in a dorm room of college-aged boys, presumed innocence flies out the window. Until the Dean learns her daughter is safe, the audience is gaslit right along with her. Cassie, consequently, is suspect. She’s not targeting sexual predators—instead she appears to force the same violence Nina experienced onto these women. Cassie breaks from the symbol of female

revenge, becoming something twisted and strange. Her manipulative violence feels out of proportion and distant from the source of her pain and the true villain: Nina’s rapist, Al Monroe (Chris Lowell). Cassie’s confrontation with Walker drives home “Promising Young Woman’s” point: that it is all men. Cassie’s distrust of the men that populate shitty bars, the Dean’s distrust of her own students, is one learned by experience. They presume guilt not for the actions of the few but for the actions of the many. And sadly, for the complicitness of the other. And Ryan is no exception. Cassie falls for Ryan, and we fall right alongside her. Playing the lanky pediatrician, Burnham emanates the awkward and casually kind energy he’s known for in his stand up comedy. His loveable nature is what makes his betrayal feel like a shotgun to the stomach. Nina’s rape was taped, and Ryan was there, laughing. Ryan is just as guilty as the rest, reaffirming the lie of the “nice guy” and putting Cassie on her final, deadly mission. In disguise as a stripper at Al’s bachelor party, Cassie gets Al alone and handcuffed to a bed. As punishment, she’s going to carve Nina’s name into his body. Nina will be the one that’s remembered, not Al. The movie, however, forgets



Nina along with its villains. She’s a ghost, never speaking for herself. Her absence severs the film from a survivor narrative, to the point where the initial trailers present an entirely different movie. It’s drawn justified criticism from survivors of sexual assault, for both failing to represent or empower survivors. In its end, “Promising Young Woman” disappoints. Al breaks free, smothering Cassie with a pillow in an agonizingly long, nauseating scene. Cassie has been in control in every moment until now, when, arms flailing, Al suffocates her. Her sudden loss feels unbelievable. But at Al’s wedding, the cavalry arrives. As Cassie’s killers are dragged away to the tune of “Angel of the Morning,” Cassie sends Ryan one last (pre-scheduled) message: “Enjoy the wedding. Love, Cassie & Nina ;)” What we remember is not Cassie’s winking message, but her brutal, tragic death at the hands of Al Monroe. While the triumphant music and quick arrests would have the viewer believe otherwise, Cassie’s death is not a victory. It’s impossible not to recall Cassie’s legs kicking under the pillow as Al smothers her, screaming at her to stop moving in a scene that feels excessive at best and exploitative at worst. The “triumphant” ending feels dishonest to Cassie’s demise, and a controversial con-

clusion for film reviewers. Throughout, Mulligan has crafted a compelling character built on the fractured edges of Cassie’s pain and deadly mission, managing to hold both until her death— an act presented as solely heroic martyrdom. The ending expects the viewer to flatten Cassie into a symbol of vengeance, to forget her personhood in favor of plot. She’s no longer Cassie, she’s a sacrifice for justice, but after spending an hour in her grief, we are unable to abandon her now. In death, we’re left with the living spirit of her rage. That anger is in part due to the film’s success Mulligan’s jaw-dropping performance, but also “Promising Young Woman’s” failings in presenting Cassie’s death as somehow, simultaneously, victorious. Though obviously and painfully unintended, the film’s ending results in the same feeling Mulligan so excellently portrays throughout: rage against male violence. It’s a common feeling. You’re 14 and getting cat-called on your way to junior prom, you’re 18 and pushing off groping hands, you’re 22 and finished watching this movie, fists clenched and ready to put a hole in the drywall. That rage is everywhere. Where “Promising Young Woman” fails, however, is presenting a death borne out of that anger as victory rather than tragedy.

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