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VOL. 69 NO. 5

OBERLIN’S ALTERNATIVE STUDENT NEWSPAPER

EST. 1999

February 21st, 2020

Front Cover: Eva Sturm-Gross Back Cover: Jake Butcher and Jody Shanabrook Editors in Chief: Molly Bryson P.J. McCormick Managing Editor: Charlie Rinehart-Jones

Section Editors: Serena Zets - Features Damani McNeil - Arts + Culture Ben Richman - Opinions Jane Wickline - Bad Habits

Visual Arts Editor: Molly Sheffield

Layout Editors: Cassidy Green Sam Schectman Amy Baylis Anna Harberger

Copy Editors: David Mathisson Sam Schuman Miriam Khanukaev Levi Dayan

Photo Editor: Clio Schwartz

Staff Writers: Jason Hewitt Grace Smith Cameron Avery Fionna Farrell Web Editors: Ella Murray Liz Amber

Letter from The Editors: One Oberlin (Minus 108 Full-time Workers)

BY PJ MCCORMICK, MOLLY BRYSON, SERENA ZETS, AND CHARLIE RINEHART-JONES | CO-EDITORS-IN-CHIEF, FEATURES EDITOR, MANAGING EDITOR

This past Wednesday, hundreds of students and community members, dressed in red, gathered outside of a closed-door General Faculty meeting on the third floor of King. In all of our time at Oberlin, there have only been a few instances wherein The Grape has seen students so animated, and for good reason; just a day before, 108 Oberlin UAW union members had been informed that, come fall, their jobs would likely be eliminated, to be replaced by contractors. According to Tuesday’s email from President Ambar, the college’s cost-cutting decision would affect “roughly 52 full-time dining employees and 56 full-time custodial employees” in efforts to potentially save $2 million dollars over the next few years. The college has said that they hope whatever vendor they end up working with will hire back many of the laid-off workers—that is, probably at a much lower wage, and with little to no benefits. This precarious promise from the college grants little reassurance or security to the workers whose livelihoods are on the line. It’ll be no surprise to readers of The Grape that Oberlin is in severe, and deepening, financial trouble. Last spring, we reported that the AAPR final report proposed a $4 million reduction to personnel costs by FY 2024. And, while the report’s suggestions for mitigating costs were conveniently vague—“Given the potentially disruptive effects of personnel decisions

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on some individuals, families, and the institution, Oberlin should employ measures that mitigate those effects and help make transitions, both for employees who are displaced, and for those that remain at Oberlin,” ––the implications regarding forthcoming layoffs were clear. Now, nearly a year later, those recommendations for reducing personnel costs are coming to fruition. AAPR repeatedly framed reducing personnel costs as the sounder alternative to other undesirable cost-cutting strategies, such as reducing funding for financial aid and academic departments. These proposed strategies, framed as impossible choices, were meant to lull students and faculty into complacency. The obscure, ominous tone of AAPR, once again the subject of student scrutiny, has left Obies wondering: How much of this process was the work of an inhuman and distant consulting company? Where was the discussion of self-management for dining workers? Where was Oberlin’s imagination in coming up with new streams of revenue to solve the structural deficit? During the General Faculty meeting, President Ambar repeatedly asserted that “our value systems are bumping up against each other and are in conflict with each other.” But after this bombshell email, many students, workers, and faculty alike are left wondering what exactly those value systems are—and to what extent the institution is willing to sacrifice them.

Oberlin students are savvy enough to understand that sacrifices have to be made somewhere. Our own Bad Habits Editor Jane Wickline jokingly suggested via Twitter that the Allen Memorial Art Museum sell some of the “stuff in the basement,” a proposition made funnier by the fact that this has been suggested (then rejected) by the Board of Trustees in the last few years. But when the cuts start to betray our values, it’s time to soberly reflect on what Oberlin stands for, and which of those values we, as student activists, have the capacity and the dignity to uphold. ◊ The Grape formally, and strongly, encourages students and staff to continue to fight for the livelihood of the UAW union members. To stay up to date on the latest developments, look for issues of The Grape or visit our website, www.oberlingrape.com.


Life in The Age of Environmental Censorship BY GRACE SMITH | STAFF WRITER

Since the Trump administration took power in 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has blacklisted dozens of studies detailing the threats posed by climate change. In May 2019, a monumental study revealed that rice loses vitamins in high emission environments. These findings are crucial for more than half a billion people whose diet consists mainly of rice. Although the study was peer-reviewed and ratified by the Agricultural Research Service, the USDA refused to go public with the results. In emails obtained by Politico, USDA officials even attempted to discourage Jeff Hodson, Communications Director of the University of Washington School of Public Health, from publishing the study. Although the UW scientists weren’t swayed into silence, many are alarmed that the government is so blatantly trying to muzzle studies that don’t fit their political agenda. Notably, the only two USDA-published studies since 2017 compliment the meat industry. These two examples are only the beginning. In internal emails obtained by The Guardian, USDA staff were instructed to avoid terms such as “climate change” in their studies, and instead use “weather extremes.” Further, they were told that phrases such as “reduce greenhouse gases” should be substituted for “build organic soil matter.” To ensure scientists did not sway from their assigned rhetoric, a policy team was implemented to review all “policy-related [documents] prior to issuance.” Days after Trump’s inauguration, the Environmental Protection Agency’s website was purged of any mention of climate change, fossil fuels, and greenhouse gases. More

to agriculture to national security. In June 2019, the White House barred a State Department staffers’s testimony from being submitted to the House Intelligence Committee. The testimony warned that human-driven climate change caused by burning fossil fuels posed “significant ─ possibly catastrophic ─ harm” unless significant emissions reductions were made in the next decade. The testimony identified nine “tipping points” that would radically transform the biosphere, such as the rapid extinction of insects or a massive release of methane frozen in glaciers. The White House disparaged the testimony’s scientific citations, which referenced research conducted by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. After it was banned from appearing before the House Intelligence Committee, the testimony was published by The Washington Post. This trend of environmental censorship has grave implications. The current administration is prioritizing the interests of fossil fuel corporations at the cost of human lives. Since 2017, multiple government-funded studies were explicitly discontinued or forestalled due to budgetary cuts. For example, the Natural Resources Conservation Service was advised to discontinue its studies on air quality regarding greenhouse gases. Quite literally, stifling climate science has a body count. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that the rapid increase in fine-particle air pollution between 2016 and 2018 caused nearly 10,000 additional deaths in the United States alone. Gina McCarthy, former Administrator of the EPA, underscores the truth: “Censoring scientific data doesn’t make its threats any less real, it hides the problem from the American people.” ◊

“USDA STAFF WERE INSTRUCTED TO AVOID TERMS SUCH AS “CLIMATE CHANGE” IN THEIR STUDIES, AND INSTEAD USE “WEATHER EXTREMES.” than a year later, the site was partially restored. However, much of the re-uploaded information was altered, or censored. The sections providing resources for local communities to combat climate change was thoroughly redacted, only retaining 175 of its original 380 pages. The government’s attempts to suppress climate science are pervasive in all fields, from corporate regulations


The Sunrise Movement in Sixty Seconds: an Interview with Grace Wiley Smith BY ALIS SCHREIBER-GOLDSTEIN | CONTRIBUTOR Does TikTok -- the latest must-have app, with over 1.5 billion downloads as of 2019 -- have merit beyond serving as an outlet for teenagers with too much time on their hands and an affinity for lip-synching to bad pop music? Just ask the members of The Sunrise Movement, a national, youth-led student coalition fighting for the Green New Deal. Sunrise is committed to supporting the series of progressive policy proposals aimed at combating climate change however they can­—which now includes viral TikToks. Grace Wiley Smith, a College second-year, and Staff Writer at The Grape, has been a part of the Sunrise Movement for the past year and plays an imperative role in their national social media presence.

Smith became invested in environmental activism at a young age because of the environmental issues she witnessed growing up in Rockingham County, New Hampshire. Smith recounts that her mother “would never let us drink tap water. I always thought she was being paranoid until kids in town started getting diagnosed and there were two funerals at my brother’s elementary school.” Rockingham County had the highest rate of pediatric cancer in the country. Local environmental groups suspect this is a result of water contamination from the nearby Air Force base. Last year, Smith got involved in Oberlin’s branch of the organization. She was encouraged to take part in the group by Dan Kennedy, a friend in her “Environment and Society” course. Kennedy started the Sunrise hub at Oberlin, and continues to hold a leadership position in the organization. Although the Sunrise Movement has only existed for two and a half years, it has around 300 branches in the United States. The movement continues to expand as hubs arise across the country in towns and cities, universities, middle schools, and high schools. This past summer, Smith had a fellowship with the Sunrise Movement based in Philadelphia, where she worked as the national social media manager. This position involved forty to sixty hours of work per week creating social media content for the group across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. She attended numerous protests for the organization, live-tweeting or livestreaming the events. After the summer ended, she continued working for their social media team. Last month, Sunrise created a TikTok account. Smith says, “It started mostly as a joke between me and my boss, but then we saw that we were effectively reaching new middle and high schoolers.” Soon, a couple videos went viral, reaching over 100,000 views. In one video, Smith asks the audience, “Ladies, is your man tall, older, and wants to pay off your student loans? Then I am sorry to break it to you, but that’s not your man… that’s presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.” This clip is an especially important one for Sunrise, helping to announce their official endorsement of the Democratic presidential candi-

date from Burlington, Vermont. At the end of the video, a photograph of Sanders waving to a crowded auditorium appears behind Smith. In another video, she pokes fun at the Iowa caucus app. She jokingly says, lip syching to Kim Kardashian, “I think it’s like everyone understanding that we all have different priorities. And like working is just not my top priority.” At the end of the video she sips from her Starbucks cup as a means of commenting on the facetious behavior of those involved with the Iowa caucus app. Smith’s social media presence has had far-reaching success. By using the Susnise TikTok to discuss environmental justice on a predominantly political level, she actively reaches and encourages young people to take action, too. ◊

Students Confront Growing Coronavirus Hysteria BY BEN RICHMAN | OPINIONS EDITOR

As the death toll of the Coronavirus rises into the thousands, many across the Western world have let their hysteria get the best of them. According to Vox, there have been more than 1,500 deaths caused by the virus, though almost all of the deaths have been within China, and more than half within the province of Hubei. Despite this, many in America and Europe have become susceptible to misinformation and fear mongering. According to Professor Earl Bogoch of the University of Toronto, who specializes in global outbreaks, “The risk of acquiring this infection

February 21st, 2020

outside of Hubei, and, truly outside of China is remarkably low.” As news outlets rush to capitalize on people’s fears, the public response has unfortunately meshed with an undercurrent of xenophobia. This fear has distracted from the real devastation that the virus has caused within China, and in many ways takes away from the struggle of those dealing with the virus; it centers Western experiences and Western lives while doing nothing to help the families that have lost loved ones or to prevent infection in those actually at risk.

Within the last few months numerous cases of antiChinese comments have risen alongside the growing fear of the Coronavirus. NPR’s Maria Godoy, in a recent interview on Weekend Edition, described accounts of Asian Americans who were verbally harrassed on the street due to fears that they may have the Coronavirus, as well as posts online urging people “not to eat Chinese food.” These comments play into a larger history of anti-Chinese sentiment that stretches from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 into the present. Godoy noted that public fear has


Coronavirus (continued) gotten so bad that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention put out a statement urging people to not “let panic guide their actions,” and “not to assume that anyone has the coronavirus.” She went on to point out that people probably would not be reacting this way if the virus was from a European country. This pattern of misinformation and racist generalizations is what caused the Resident Assistants of Asia House to host an informational session which, according to third-year RA Akira Di Sandro, was meant as “a preventive measure against possible negative attitudes towards Chinese students.” She said that the event was combined with a house meeting, which usually has low attendance, however “over 20 students came, which is high attendance for a house meeting.” Akira went on to explain that throughout the session the RAs talked about the nature of the outbreak, and emphasized the fact that the deaths are concentrated in specific regions of China, mainly in Hubei province, which goes against the generalization that all students from China, or who have visited China, would have been in contact with the virus. The RAs also turned their attention to the students in the room, asking them what they’ve heard about the virus as well as if they’ve heard negative comments. “Nobody said that they heard anything specifically, but everyone seemed engaged.” In Akira’s own experi-

ence, she hadn’t heard any negative comments, however she was aware of racist jokes and memes on the internet which targeted Asian Americans, and noted that “When I heard about the outbreak I was worried about the xenophobia that would come from it. Comments can pass as jokes but they’re still stigmatizing.” As we talked, Akira brought up a secondary goal of the meeting, which was to bring together the often separate groups within Asia House. Recently, Asia House has transitioned from being interest-based to solely identitybased housing, meaning that occupants have to be Asian or of Asian ancestry. Though this move has brought more cohesion within the house, Akira mentioned a rift between Asian American students and international students. Akira went on to say that “the communities within Asia House differ based on family history and experience, but there isn’t tension. However, the community is also not cohesive.” Akira explained that oftentimes house activities don’t attract international students, and the RAs have made an effort to “make activities more intentional and inclusive,” like the Coronavirus awareness meeting, which aimed to spread information as well as bring together international and Asian American students. The RAs hope that having conversations and keeping students informed will help bolster good relations and a united Asian community on campus. ◊

“Disrupting” Journalism: Upcoming Symposium to Highlight Alumni Journalists, Importance of Journalism Today BY MEREDITH WARDEN | CONTRIBUTOR

In December, Oberlin College announced that it will launch an integrative concentration in journalism for Fall 2020. According to a College press release, the concentration will be within the Rhetoric and Composition department, and students will be able to combine it with “any of Oberlin’s more than 50 majors” to create an interdisciplinary experience. To bring attention to this new concentration and to celebrate Oberlin’s history of producing renowned journalists, The Grape and the Oberlin Review are co-hosting a journalism symposium featuring Oberlin alumni journalists. The symposium, titled “A Disrupted Media Landscape: Skills, Perspectives, Solutions,” will take place from Monday, February 24 to Sunday, March 1. The following is an interview of the symposium’s organizers from the two Oberlin publications: Interview has been edited for length and clarity. Why organize this symposium? P.J. McCormick (PJM), The Grape, Editor-InChief: Credit here goes to the Review, who first came to us with the idea and asked us for our help. I think there was something like this quite a few years ago. Molly Bryson (MB), The Grape, Editor-InChief: I’ve been thinking for a long time about different ways to do community engagement with The Grape and how to draw more people from the school to be involved, and I think that the symposium came to fruition be-

cause of the content from the resources we had. Once it became clear there were so many alumni journalists doing cool, professional, groundbreaking stuff, it seemed reasonable to utilize that network. PJM: Also, I don’t think we have enough of the journalism events on campus, especially because we don’t put enough stock into the pretty linear progression of a lib-arts-trained mind to a [journalism career]. But because Oberlin is not a pre-professional school, and we haven’t previously had a journalism program, it can be hard for people to envision our alumni getting jobs as reporters. And like Molly said, The Grape and The Review are always jumping at opportunities for community outreach to make our papers more than just things that come out every week or every two weeks and make them more central to Oberlin student life and well-being. Nathan Carpenter (NC), Oberlin Review, Editor-In-Chief: There’s such an incredible community of Oberlin alumni who go on to become journalists, and one of the things that they have always said is that, even without a journalism program, you could really still gain the skills that you needed to become a professional journalist right here at Oberlin. They viewed majoring in something that you wanted to write about as almost more important than having a journalism program. So, in that same spirit, knowing that there hasn’t been a formal journalism program to this point, I think alumni

are really excited and willing to come back and be the mentors for the new generation of Oberlin journalists. We got really excited about the fact that there’s this big network of people that’s willing to pitch in and mentor the next generation, and [this symposium] is an opportunity to hear about the incredible work that these folks do and also get a chance to envision paths that some of us could take in the field. Ananya Gupta (AG), Oberlin Review, Managing Editor: Part of the idea also came from last Commencement, when we had two or three alumni who used to work at The Oberlin Review come in and chat with us about their time on the Review and their [current] positions as real journalists. After that experience, we talked about how great it was to meet people who were sitting in the same seats that we are right now and hear how they transitioned from being student journalists to being real journalists. Katherine McPhail (KM), Oberlin Review, Editor-In-Chief: The other thing that’s exciting about bringing these alums to campus is that they have a lot of skills and perspectives to share with all students at this school, not just folks who are involved in journalism. Almost everyone reads the news, so learning from these journalists will be, I think, very exciting to a lot of people. How do you see this symposium as relating to Oberlin’s upcoming integrative journalism


“Disrupting” Journalism (continued) concentration? How do you think hearing from renowned journalists will affect students thinking about going into journalism? NC: One of the things that I really like about how the journalism concentration is structured is that it’s really about tying tangible skills and real-world life experiences to the curriculum that students are already engaging with. I honestly think it’s cool that we didn’t start a journalism department, but that there’s a concentration where the work is going to connect to your major and give you the skills that you would need to become a journalist—that it’s not your entire academic focus, it’s work that’s supporting your academic focus. I think that this is going to prepare students to become journalists in a range of fields—[for example,] if I’m an Environmental Studies [major] and I have a journalism concentration, I can go into the world of science writing. So the [journalism concentration] is supporting you so much more broadly—part of that is the experiential and co-curricular element, like encouraging students to write for campus publications or get journalism internships during the summer—and for me, the symposium ties into that because it is, in its own way, experiential. This is a really good opportunity for students to come talk to and network with the speakers. Pretty much everyone we [contacted] to come to the symposium said yes, and I hope that students take advantage of that opportunity to engage with journalism in that co-curricular experiential way. KM: For folks who are interested in going into journalism and are considering the concentration, there’s something really special about not just talking to rhetoric and journalism professors, but talking to people who are actively engaged in the field. Then you can sort of see yourself in their position, and it lights a special sort of fire in you when you can see an example of what [a journalism] career looks like and might look like for you. MB: Oberlin students are basically trained, whether they know it or not, to have all the faculties and skills to be a good journalist, and the introduction of this concentration is exciting because it gives people a concrete way to pursue that. Having more events around journalism, and having real people for [students] to look up to and see what sort of stuff they could do in the future, is really important. I think that if I had been a freshman and there had been a journalism concentration and accessible events, I definitely would have invested myself in that, and I think [the concentration and the symposium] will open a lot of people’s eyes. How did you choose which Oberlin alumni journalists to contact? Based on varying views, different types of journalistic work, possible similarities in themes, etc.? PJM: We shot far and wide. Not ashamed to say we got a couple no’s, which I think makes sense because this event, while not the first of its kind, is the first in a really long time, and obviously we’re working with pretty modest funds. But it made it easy that Oberlin alumni are in

February 21st, 2020

all sorts of different fields of journalism, and it was exciting really to figure out how many people we had who are doing international correspondence, or data journalism, or arts and culture stuff. MB: We started by contacting the alumni office and people in the Dean’s office and got a contact list of alumni working in journalism, and from that list we picked people we thought were doing cool and relevant stuff. We tried to not just pick old white men, because there’s a fair amount of those doing journalism. One of our first outreaches was contacting recent alumni, which was P.J.’s idea. PJM: Once we got the list of journalists, we picked who we were excited about, while keeping in mind trying to curate a group of diverse voices: fields, backgrounds, or how recently they graduated. We have [a wide range] of graduation years, all coming to share their different viewpoints from where they’re standing in the world of journalism. AG: The way we chose who we wanted to invite was twofold. One, we discussed [the idea] that a lot of people talk about how the journalism industry is dying, so we wanted to bring people who are changing the game, adapting to the technology, and keeping the journalism industry alive. So that was one of our goals, to bring people who are disrupting the journalism industry, which is why [disrupting] is the title of the [symposium]. The second goal was that we wanted to bring a wide diversity of journalists because we wanted [the symposium] to be not just for people engaged in journalism already, [but] also for people who are into science, or international politics, or Wall Street, things like that. NC: To go off of that, I hope that, [for example], Environmental Studies students are going to come to Sonia Shah’s talk even though they might not have any journalism experience, because what she is talking about ties into what they’re studying. Another piece of the diversity of speakers that I want to key in on as well is that [something] that was really important to us was getting alumni from a range of years—we have alumni going back all the way to 1975 up to 2018. Our final panel of the symposium is of four students who graduated in 2018, because we really wanted to give students who attend the opportunity to hear from somebody who can essentially say, ‘I’m two years out from graduating from Oberlin—here’s what I did when I graduated and one year out in order to get where I am.’ I

think that’s so valuable [as] a piece that sometime’s missing when you’re pulling in really accomplished alumni who graduated in the ’80s and ’90s, [who] continue to change and reinvent the field, but it was different to enter the world of journalism in 1984 than it’s going to be when we graduate in 2020. How do you, as leaders of Oberlin College’s newspapers, see journalism as an evolving discipline, especially in the age that some have referred to as “post-truth?” How is the media landscape, as the title of the symposium says, ‘disrupted’? NC: [Considering] where we’re at in the present political moment as it pertains to media and journalism, it’s more important than ever to think about what journalism is and what it looks like. The fact that everyone has a smartphone and a Twitter account is such an enormous blessing, [but] it can also be incredibly challenging. I think that [this] can be credited with the fact that we now have more access to information than we’ve ever had before, [but] I think that the “post-truth” perspective also comes out of this fact that everyone has a cellphone and a Twitter account. So there’s that element of [thinking about] “Well, what does journalism look like?” [and of] wanting to expand that definition and be inclusive while maintaining strong ethical standards of rigorous reporting and fact-checking. There are [also] so many exciting things that you can do with [online access to information]. There’s a friend of mine from Oberlin who graduated last year whose dad worked for The New York Times for a long time, and whenever [his dad] came to campus I would show him that week’s Review, and he said to me once, “The fact that print newspapers also have a digital side creates so much more freedom in what you can do on the printed page. This is not the death of the printed page; it’s the opportunity for a new life of the printed page.” What you can do, and what we’ve done many times this year, is run a couple of our stories just online [so we] have a ton of space in the print issue to create a really stunning visual essay or a spread that we might not have had room for if we had to pack all of our content into the physical issue. And that’s an element that we want the symposium [to consider]—what are the ways that technology and digital mediums can make our work so much more engaging? KM: I think in the turbulent moment that journal-


“Disrupting” Journalism (continued) ism is in right now and the fact that it is being disrupted [means] that it’s time to reaffirm your principles and figure out what kind of journalism you want to create. That’s important both for people who want to create journalism and for those who want to consume it, so this is a really scary and exciting time to be having [this symposium]. AG: Just to sum up, technology and social media play a huge role in how we view news now, and it’s up to journalists to either incorporate that into our work or to consider that the enemy. The people we’re bringing to campus are folks who have been able to [use] social media and technology to support their really beautiful journalism that’s still grounded in [journalistic] ethics, but that’s not tied to the past either. PJM: The sort of cliché of media “disruption” is [the idea that] a big part of the population has trouble discerning between a reliable source and an unreliable source, and our ‘disruption’ addresses that, but also we wanted to talk about and bring in journalists who are ‘disrupting’ in a more positive sense of the word. Like some of the data journalists we’re bringing in are [thinking about] how we’re constructing narratives around data and visualizing the news. We wanted to look at the ‘disruption’ from both sides—it’s a scary and a daunting thing, [but] it’s also a moment of change and opportunity. Why is journalism an important field of work today? How has your work in student publications enriched your Oberlin experience? MB: Personally, working for The Grape has been a way to connect with people. I feel like I’ve gotten the chance to talk to different facets of the Oberlin community that I would’ve never had to before, and for that I’m really grateful; I feel like it’s made me incredibly more in touch. PJM: The way I think of it, The Grape is sort of a vehicle for building and documenting community. Unlike The Review, [which] does really great work in a different sort of way, The Grape is sometimes closer to a student life magazine than it is to a [newspaper], but I think that allows us to have a more intimate connection with the student body. The Grape can sometimes feel like a joke that everyone’s in on, and that’s what is really exciting to me—getting to publish a paper where it’s students understanding that they’re speaking directly to students, and the dialogue there. NC: What has meant a lot to me is the seriousness with which people—meaning students, faculty, staff, and administrators—take student journalism and respect the role that it plays. That’s really impressed upon me the need that we have to do good, strong ethical work because people here take seriously what we do. Part of that is that we have [in the past] done good, strong, ethical work, and a community that feels that it’s represented fairly in its media will, in turn, be open and receptive to supporting that media. And another thing that comes to mind is the incredible opportunity and responsibil-

ity we have to write about things that are happening in the town of Oberlin. There’s a fantastic New York Times piece from last fall about all of the towns across the U.S. where the only paper left is the college newspaper, and for Oberlin, that’s now the case—The Oberlin Tribune closed its downtown office just over a year ago. So we have felt that this incredibly important responsibility to step into covering the Oberlin community holistically, both college and city. AG: For me, as an international student, I felt super disconnected from this campus my first year, because I couldn’t really engage in national or local politics—I didn’t feel like I knew enough or that was my place. When I applied to work at the Review, I found this community, like a safe space, that was happy to educate me and give me the skills that allowed me to be confident to go out and engage with other people in the Oberlin community. The Review really became a family for me that pushed me beyond my own boundaries but that also was a very comfortable space. KM: This is definitely one of those ‘small undergraduate college’ opportunities that can entirely change your experience as a student. It is a huge responsibility and it’s really a learning experience that is hard to find in the classroom or elsewhere. AG: Also, The Review is [146] years old, and being apart of that enormous legacy [is meaningful]. I think one of the biggest criticisms that Oberlin students get is that they’re only here for four years and they keep trying to do something new and not look at the history of what’s already happened in this town. But by being part of the Review, you’re trying to start something new [while still] continuing a really lovely legacy. Do you think that Oberlin students are uniquely prepared to work in journalistic fields? If so, why? If not, why? NC: I don’t think we’re uniquely prepared. I think that Oberlin students care a lot about what is true and what is fair, and those values go a long way into being a good journalist. So I think that Oberlin students make a lot out of what we have here, and, frankly, there’s not much institutional structure at Oberlin to provide formal journalism training—and yet, we have so many alumni who have gone on to become such prominent journalists. I mean, the folks that are coming to the symposium are really prominent in diverse fields of journalism. So I think that there is something about Oberlin students who really care so deeply about what is true and what is fair that serves them well as journalists. But I don’t know if we come out uniquely prepared; we make a lot of mistakes along the way, but Oberlin students never stop trying to get it right. KM: The character of the school is that it’s full of a lot of very passionate students and that it attracts a lot of very passionate individuals. In that sense, [these individuals] are more prepared to work in this kind of field. PJM: Maybe Oberlin students might not think they

are, but I think a lib-arts education trains you to be naturally inquisitive and inclined to research, think differently about things and see a story where other people might not see one, which I think is exciting. MB: Oberlin students are obviously pretty intuitively socially and politically aware, and a liberal arts curriculum prepares you to be a good writer. I feel like journalism often has to be incredibly objective, and that’s something that people maybe aren’t necessarily drawn to because, especially at Oberlin, you’re trained to question things and have an opinion. But I also think that being aware of how fickle objectivity is is ultimately an asset and something that would be beneficial for any journalist. Finally, if you could choose one thing for students to take away from this symposium, what would it be? PJM: A lot of what we’re aiming to do with the symposium is make it available and attractive to people who might not involved in journalism in any way at this school, and might not think that they want to be. We tried to offer a pretty diverse array of workshops and lectures that cover a range of topics and fields. And maybe once you’re there you’ll be like, ‘This is great, now I’ll do it!’ but [ultimately] we want to make people aware that this is a space that’s accessible to everyone. MB: Aside from showing a range of possible outlets for journalism, another thing that anybody could take away from this symposium is a more aware, intentional, and critical way of engaging with media as they move forward in life as a normal person who watches the news or reads through Twitter. AG: The strongest thing that Oberlin offers its students is its incredible network of people who have gone on to achieve really great things, be it Pulitzer Prizes or interesting research, or something like that. When these alumni come back and share their experience and skills, I think that the students should not let that opportunity go [to waste]. KM: We’re doing a lot of workshops which will be [journalists] coming in and trying to teach students skills, and I hope that a lot of people leave a lecture, a panel, or a workshop feeling very empowered. NC: I hope that people who come to [the symposium], particularly people who are perhaps only there because they have an interest in the subject matter, walk away with this feeling that Oberlin alumni are so eager to be a strong network for current students that [these students] can then look at what we’ve done and next year do a symposium about anything else they care about. The process of putting this together was a lot of logistical work, on one hand. But on the other hand, it was incredibly easy, because everyone we emailed got back to us and said, ‘I’m in, what do you need from me?’ That was so incredible to see, and so I hope people, even if they don’t want to be journalists, can take away [the idea] that this is something that we can be doing all the time. ◊


Green Day’s Comeback: Playing it Safe on Two Fronts BY FIONA FARELL | STAFF WRITER

February 21st, 2020

Graphic by Lila Cohen

The implacable pop-punk sellout act known as Green Day released their thirteenth studio album last week. It is eloquently titled “Father of All Motherfuckers.” You might have missed it — I know I surely almost did. Both content and aesthetic-wise, the album is about what you’d expect from a man who would name his child Jakob Danger. Its cover sports the band’s name in crimson chicken-scratch hovering over a bare cartoon shin and heel that seem to be flailing in the air for no apparent reason. A seriously fadedlooking unicorn conveniently snorts a viscous rainbow substance onto the album’s profane sector. Musically speaking, the work is not entirely intolerable; it is perfectly suitable for the listener who prefers an hour of jaded rockers playing it safe. The result is not awful, but redundant and unremarkable. These qualities permeate down to the song’s titles themselves; sadly, the few creative or satirical liberties taken in their naming fall dismally flat, into glaringly mundane innovations like “Take the Money and Crawl.” Beyond their chosen art of music, Green Day has also been turning some heads for rather tactless behavior in the social sphere. It derives from the same general refusal to abandon the ways of the old and adapt to change. On February 6th, Billie Joe Armstrong, the band’s frontman, gave an interview with USA Today, in which he primarily discussed the band’s upcoming album, among an assortment of other miscellaneous topics. One of these miscellaneous topics happened to be that of the Grammys, which Armstrong analogized to a “bad prom.” The interviewer was curious as to Armstrong’s take on Billie Eilish’s

incredible (five-award) sweep, noting that the two had posed for the cover of Rolling Stone together last year. Naturally, Amrstrong took the opportunity to commend Eilish on her remarkable achievement, declaring “It’s insanely well-

deserved. Their music is very real, and you can tell it all comes from them.” So far, so good—until Amrstrong then inserted the addendum “It’s not even comparable to think about what she does compared to someone like Ariana Grande. She’s the

real deal.” Regardless as to what the reader’s opinions might be over what constitutes the “real deal,” it is hardly arguable that this remark was in extremely poor taste. Instead of applauding Eilish’s talent and


Green Day (continued)

and diligence on a purely individual scale, as she undoubtedly deserves to be evaluated, Armstrong found it necessary to place her on a pedestal by deriding other women of the industry. Not only is this rude and insulting on Grande’s behalf, considering the great efforts which she puts forth into her own career, but it highlights, once again, Armstrong’s concerning inability to adapt to change that does not—or that he feels does not— impact his music directly. Only this time, unfortunately, he is not alone; he is but one of scores of men who find it acceptable to venerate one woman by denigrating the other. This toxic practice, when infiltrating the omnipotent music industry, serves to harm women in both overt and covert fashions. The pure contents of the remark suggest that women are to compete with

“AND, JUST AS GREEN DAY’S MUSIC BEATS TO DEATH THE SAME THREE CHORDS IT HAS BEEN USING SINCE 1994, SO TOO WILL THEY CONTINUE TO PERPETUATE THE PROBLEMATIC IDEOLOGY OF AN ERA WE ARE WORKINGHARD TO DESIGNATE AS BYGONE.”

each other for ultimate approval by whatever man happens to oversee their frivolous practice. The conversational nonchalance with which the remark was delivered suggests that its contents are perfectly excusable - and, therefore, “normal.” Not only should women be expected to compete with one another, but they should understand that this is, plain and simple, the natural order of things., an incontrovertible truth of the world and how it was designed (by whom, I wonder?) to be. It is unclear what will happen if we allow seemingly offhand remarks like this one to slip under our collective radar. Yet, one thing seems for certain: if we willfully turn a blind eye to them, we are all but constructing a platform in which their existence is permitted. And, just as Green Day’s music beats to death the same three chords it has been using since 1994, so too will they continue to perpetuate the problematic ideology of an era we are working hard to designate as bygone. So long as “playing it safe” (on every front possible) remains an option, they will remain comfortably rooted on the outskirts of genuine raucous, triumph, and progress, believing that it is better to be on the outside wishing you were in than on the inside wishing you were out. ◊

The Rise of Griselda Records BY JASON HEWITT | STAFF WRITER When most people think of cities that run hip-hop, places such as Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York City may come to mind. It can be difficult for artists, let alone entire labels, to come out of smaller markets in the music industry and actually gain worldwide popularity and critical acclaim. That challenge didn’t phase Buffalo native Westside Gunn, who currently runs one of the most highly discussed labels in hip-hop: Griselda Records. He established Griselda in 2014 with the hope of the label becoming one of the most prominent collectives not just in Buffalo, but in the entire world. After releasing a multitude of critically acclaimed projects with fellow label mates and family members Benny the Butcher and Conway the Machine, Westside Gunn would agree that Griselda has the biggest following it has ever

experienced. The label’s fan base is only increasing in numbers. With the label’s recent signing to Eminem’s record label, Shady Records, it seems like more success is on the way for Griselda. The label consists of three Buffalo natives who are highly skilled when it comes to the art of rapping. Each member has a different style of lyricism, but they all rap over a similar style of grimy, “boombap” production. The production is akin to the beats that New York rappers such as Jay-Z and the late Notorious B.I.G. used in the nineties, with an added modern twist. Credit for Griselda’s patent sound should go to Daringer (Griselda’s main in-house producer) and The Alchemist, one of the greatest and most influential hip-hop producers in the twenty-first century. What makes the label even more interesting is the fact that each member is

related to one another. Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine are brothers, while Benny the Butcher is their cousin. A fourth member, formerly known to the world as MachineGun Black, was Benny’s brother. Westside Gunn claimed in multiple interviews that he and MachineGun Black grew up together and saw each other as brothers due to the fact that they were around the same age. Tragically, MachineGun Black was killed before Griselda experienced the success that it is enjoying today. Black’s name and legacy now resides within each of the record member’s gritty lyrics and impeccable flows. Griselda’s first album under Shady Records, “WWCD,” stands for “What Would ChineGun Do?” in tribute to his legacy and lasting imprint on the popular music collective. The first member worth noting is

Westside Gunn, the founder of the label. He has been rapping the longest out of anyone in Griselda, with his projects dating all the way back to 2005. Griselda’s success has to do with Westside Gunn’s ability to lead as both a businessman and fashion influencer. For more context on his fashion Article continued following the centerfold...


Griselda Records (continued)

side, his self-given nickname is literally “Flygod,” because of how impeccable he believes his ability to dress to be. He experienced a hiatus from music until he released his mixtape series titled “Hitler Wears Hermes,” a reference to the adage, “The devil wears prada.” This series started with the first mixtape of its name all the way back in 2016, and has continued through the latest installment, “Hitler Wears Hermes 7,” which was released last year. Westside Gunn’s brother, Conway the Machine, has a very unique and inspiring story that many people are unaware of. Back in 2012, Conway enjoyed his fame as the “Jay-Z of Buffalo.” He had just returned home to Buffalo after doing some business in Atlanta, and he was shot in the back of the head and neck. He survived the shooting, but he has paralysis on the right side of his face. This condition is known as Bell’s Palsy, and it inhibited Conway’s ability to speak. He was eventually able to re-learn how to talk and eventually rap in a way that was effective enough for him to make a career out of it once again. You can literally feel the hunger in his voice while he raps, which makes perfect sense, considering everything that he endured in his life. Last but certainly not least, we have Benny the Butcher. Benny arguably has the most momentum out of every rapper in Griselda. Following his brother Machine Gun Black’s death, he felt inspired to get into rapping full-time with his cousins. Benny admittedly used to be heavily involved in the Buffalo drug business, and he vividly discusses his experiences in all of his projects. The difference between him and other rappers who are famously known for “snitching on themselves” (see: Bobby Shmurda) is that Benny has already served time in jail for the topics he discusses in his bars. He released the critically acclaimed “Tana Talk 3” *cough, one of the best projects of the decade, cough* back in 2018, which was followed by another critically-acclaimed project titled “The Plugs I Met.” Benny has rapped with the best rappers in the game, from Black Thought to Pusha T, and manages to be on par with them in his incredible verses. Everyone in Griselda Records brings something different to the table, yet all of them have that hardcore Buffalo sound that hip-hop fans all over the world have fallen in love with. The record company’s upcoming albums are looking very promising in 2020, with each member dropping at some point this year. It’s looking very positive for Griselda and hip-hop as a whole for the foreseeable future. ◊

Kaina Opens Spring Semester at the Cat and the Cream BY SAREENA ZETS | FEATURES EDITOR

On Saturday, February 8th, the Cat in the Cream kicked off its spring semester of programming with a headlining performance by Kaina. As the Cat’s Facebook event for the Kaina show states, “Kaina is a first-generation Latina, born and raised in Chicago. Apart from her parents and brother, she didn’t grow up around any other blood family in her hometown, which ultimately led to a detachment from her cultural identity. From her debut EP 2016’s sweet asl. to 2018’s 4U, and her anticipated album Next To The Sun, Kaina has continued to push this narrative through her brand of sweet-hearted optimism, which she uses as a means to connect with and lift her listener’s spirit. From collaborating with peers like Saba, The O’My’s, and Sen Morimoto, and through multidisciplinary work around the city with various organizations, she has found a sound for herself that is gentle, yet full of intent.” Kaina’s Cat show demonstrated her gentle yet intentional nature through her frequent tender interactions with the audience, camaraderie with her band, and effortless set. Kaina’s band included a surprise guest, Sen Morimoto, an artist returning to the Cat in the Cream. Last spring, Asia America Art Collective brought Morimoto, and his close friend and longtime artistic collaborator Kaina came along to open for him. Her performance blew the Cat’s audience away, putting her on the radar of Cat bookers and Oberlin students alike. Kayri Craig, a third-year Cat staffer, was the primary booker and point-person for the Kaina show; Kaina was the first artist they’ve ever booked! When interviewed, Craig said the process was fairly easy because “I had heard she would be in town and I knew a lot of people here liked her. I listened to some of her music and

February 21st, 2020

liked it, and once I looked into past interviews, I knew I liked her as a person.” My favorite moment of the show was when Kaina and Morimoto harmonized their 2019 duet “Could Be a Curse.” Their voices flow together so perfectly that it’s hard to believe it’s two separate individuals creating music together; the compatibility of their voices echoes the sentiment of the song itself, which is about feeling alone while still being together with other people. In the song, Kaina has a verse in Spanish and Morimoto has one in Japanese. After the song concluded, Kaina said “Could Be a Curse” was one of the first times that their parents could understand what their lyrics said, which made it all the more special. Most of Kaina’s commentary was met with cheers, sentimental murmurs, and even some ever-popular co-op knocks. Overall, the audience seemed entranced with her every time she opened her mouth, whether to sing or to talk. The sentiment Craig expressed of liking Kaina as both an artist and as a person seemed resonant throughout the audience. Kaina and Sen hung around the Cat after the show to work the merch table and interact with the crowd. The crowd totaled over 150 people, remarkable numbers for the first weekend of the semester. Craig said, “I felt like a lot of people came out, which is nice.” The show began as a sitting show, but “after urging the audience, people stood up and danced and enjoyed the music and got comfortable.” The show was upbeat, and the band was lively, providing plenty of opportunities for dancing with friends. It culminated in Kaina inviting the audience to dance on stage with her during the last song. As a Cat staffer, seeing that many people on the Cat’s stage dancing and singing along with

her made for one of the most joyful moments I’ve shared not only in the Cat, but in all my time in Oberlin. Craig said, “I think that this show will set the tone for the Cat this semester of Oberlin students coming, having a good time, getting comfortable, and listening to good music.” On that note, Obies, make sure to come to the next show at the Cat in the Cream and dance your hearts out. It’s what Kaina would want. ◊


WOBC Presents: Wobie Fest Artist Profiles BY NELL BECK | CONTRIBUTING WRITER

WOBC, in association with the Student Union Programming Committee (SUPC), Oberlin HipHop Collective (OHOP), and F+ABB, is hosting a new threeday music festival at the ‘Sco on February 21, 22, and 29. The festival features six diverse and innovative artists. Get a little more familiar with them below!

February 21 HOOK & BKTHERULA HOOK, born and raised in California, has a sound that is “uniquely West Coast,” writes The Fader. Rap was always a big part of her life; her biological father was a rapper, and her step-father was her manager when she was starting out. He had HOOK study the lyrics of some of his favorite rappers like Slick Rick, Nipsey Hussle, and Lil Wayne. The producer Nedarb said of HOOK: “She’s the most unique rapper I’ve heard in a long time. Her energy is unmatched on tracks, her flows are her own, her ad-libs especially are her own, and her live performances go crazy.” BKTHERULA is a rapper from Atlanta whose 2019 single “Tweakin’ Together” Pitchfork describes as “irresistible.” Her debut album, Love Santana, was released in January, which is full of contrasting sounds - there are songs for when you’re feeling low and songs to hype you up. HOOK and BKTHERULA debuted as a lively and innovative duo on their song “Yaas” under the name HULA, the video for which hit the net earlier this year. The pair will bring the same outgoing energy to the ‘Sco stage February 21st.

February 22 White Fence White Fence has been the project of Tim Presley since 2010. Presley, an American singer-songwriter, began his career playing in the hardcore punk bands Model American and The Nerve Agents (1998). Under the name White Fence, Presley has released six studio albums, two

live albums, and collaborative albums with Ty Segall and Cate Le Bon.

L’Rain L’Rain is the project of Brooklyn experimentalist Taja Cheek. L’Rain’s talent stretches far - in Brooklyn, she’s been a DIY artist and noise musician involved in many different scenes, and she has a background in classical cello and piano. Pitchfork describes her music as “swelling mounds of vaguely spiritual free jazz and ambient sound.” L’Rain has opened for artists such as Deerhunter, Amen Dunes, and U.S. Girls.

February 28 Nots The Memphis punk band Nots are described as “dark, unpredictable, liberating.” The all-female trio’s most recent album, “3,” was mostly recorded live, suggesting that they are not one to miss at a live show. As Tom Tom

Mag writes, “The chaotic improvisational energy is in harmony with the band’s incredible musicianship and interpersonal chemistry… This album is crazy good.”

DANA DANA, an Ohio band, is best known for its live performances. As lead singer Madeline Jackson told Columbus Alive (which listed DANA as a “Band to Watch” in 2017), “I’ve always been fully into it when it came to any kind of performance… It’s not necessarily performative. It’s soulful and authentic.” Noisy, fast, and loud, DANA is influenced by other midwestern rockers like The Stooges and DEVO. On their Facebook page, they describe their music as falling under the genre of “Post-nasal drip, psych punk” that sounds like “When your girlfriend says ‘I just find it really funny how-’,” “An Amber Alert,” “Upset words,” and “Outside voices.” If that doesn’t intrigue you, I’m not sure what will. ◊


Maintaining College Town Culture Amid Bead Paradise’s Closure BY SAFFRON FORSBERG | CONTRIBUTING WRITER

This year will be Ruth Aschaffenburg’s 32nd and woman residing across the country, everything about final year owning and operating Bead Paradise in it made sense. When my mother visited Oberlin, Ohio downtown Oberlin. For her daughter (and fellow for the first time in 1992, she was 22 years old. In Oberlin College alum) Silvija, it will have been 17 years. photos, she could pass for seventeen: hair forever long, “I grew up in the small college town of Oberlin, Ohio dark, and devoutly unstyled beside the trendy perms and was exposed to music, art, and performance my of her Midwestern friends, comically small in her inky trench coat, gaze thoughtful and coolly avoidant of the entire life,” writes Aschaffenburg on the bead shop’s camera, and with hands that always nursed a cigarette. website. “As a child, I quickly learned to love antique She lived in Akron, Ohio with a girlfriend who bought jewelry and beading.” The shop’s equally chipper and her sundresses and combat boots. She was exactly who sentimental Facebook page—featuring a cover photo she needed to be as a politically engaged, working-class of the mother-daughter pair sharing coordinated grins woman occupying a Northern college town in the 1980s and outfits, arm-in-arm—proves Ruth and Silvija have and ’90s. This version of my mother is perhaps the one weathered significant changes to the college town while that most fascinates me for a number of reasons, but maintaining the history, quality, and sincerity of their mostly because, in a strange twist of fate, I too fled the South for Ohio at the age of eighteen, completely small business. Indeed, before being housed in that little shop unaware that she had done the same. My mother never had the means—economic or on College Street, Oberlin’s original Bead Paradise otherwise—to attend Oberlin College. In fact, as a occupied the second floor of the Co-op Bookstore, a working-class Southerner, I didn’t realize Oberlin destination that, like many other downtown Oberlin College existed until my senior year of high school. The haunts, has long since ceased to exist—in this instance, in favor of the sterile universality of a campus Barnes closest thing I had to a campus tour was the shifting and Nobles. It is for this reason that, when approaching sensory memory of my mother, baby-faced and Silvija Aschaffenburg-Koschnick for a quick chat on her shop’s liquidation sale amid her busy schedule, I feared hearing the same dreaded narrative of a locally owned business being pushed out of town by a slicker, less characteristically small-town alternative. “Well, my mom—who also owns the place—wants to retire,” said Aschaffenburg, matter-of-factly. “And I’d like to move on and try something else.” Saddened yet relieved, I quickly discussed the city of Oberlin, past and present, with an optimistic Aschaffenburg. While addressing the progressing relationship between downtown Oberlin and the college campus, she addressed the “strained relationship” between the two, but seemed unphased. “Get to know your neighbors, shop small businesses,” she said. As for the future of Oberlin, Aschaffenburg sees only “room for things to change for the positive” in the old college town. Despite the departure of such a charming Oberlin staple, it seems Silvija and her mother are on to better things. Talking to Aschaffenburg, I couldn’t help but reflect on Ruth and Silvija’s mother-daughter dynamic. Being the Illustration by Eva Sturm-Gross daughter of another passionate, thoughtfully bejeweled

February 21st, 2020

politically tattooed, standing on College Street in the summer of ’92. She described it as smelling of “incense, patchouli, and cigarettes.” She found Oberlin students intimidating, was envious of their intelligence, style, and socioeconomic stature. “There were hippie kids everywhere, and I was so sad that I couldn’t go to school there,” she told me. The Oberlin she created for me was a realm of youthful ruggedness, of down-toEarth privilege gliding in and out of local shops, and a politically conscious, college town quaintness that I had never experienced. Her romantic Oberlin, among other things, consisted of an apothecary, a co-op bookstore, and, of course, Bead Paradise. Funnily enough, my mother drove from Akron to Oberlin almost thirty years ago just to go to Bead Paradise. “We had a plan to make long, beaded necklaces to sell at the Grateful Dead concert that was at this outdoor racetrack,” she explained. So, when she and I spoke of her memories of the town, the little bead shop on College Street always took center-stage. When she visited again in August of 2019, the town charmed her but, admittedly and unsurprisingly, had lost the “hippie kid” ruggedness of the early ‘90s. By-and-large, the historic small businesses she remembered had closed in favor of more modern, business-savvy alternatives. She expressed to me that, like many towns and cities across the United States that faced gentrification, some of Oberlin’s uniqueness had been “smoothed over.” And, despite Bead Paradise’s closing being the decision of its owners, she was sad upon being informed of its closing. To my mother, a person who knew another Oberlin, the closing of Bead Paradise represents the decay of a specific type of culture unique to the small town she remembered so fondly. This being said, one can’t help but dwell on the optimism of Oberlin natives Ruth and Silvija, women who don’t recall Oberlin purely i na memory of youth, but as a home. The Aschaffenburgs hold the history of their business and town dear, but still feel there is “room for things to change for the positive.” Bead Paradise will continue its liquidation sale until closing its doors at the end of March. Until then, one can rest assured that it will always be a memorable Oberlin staple. On the Bead Paradise website, Ruth Aschaffeburg writes, “I am so fortunate to be employed in a business that brings me such infinite joy!” ◊


The Fraught History of the American E-Boy BY FIONNA FARRELL | STAFF WRITER

Illustration by Sam Battle

There was a time before them, and, bless the clout in the clouds, there will be a time after them. When might this time come, you humbly ask? Sadly, such matters lie far beyond the scope of mortal knowledge. The presence of the e-boy seems not to have been instigated by some prevailing social norm or trend, but rather to have appeared almost overnight, out of thin, e-free air. The e-boy is no fated byproduct of some great cultural or political conflict. Nor is the the e-boy, although surely generationally driven, the voice of his generation. The e-boy is not beacon or a martyr. The e-boy simply is. Although a curious phenomenon called TikTok marked the e-boy’s surge to power, the colloquial use of the “e” prefix might trace back to as far as 2013. This is when the term “e-girl” (although, curiously, not e-boy) imprinted itself among the great colossus, Urban Dictionary: it was accordingly used as a derogatory term for women who “craved attention” on platforms like Tumblr. Attention from, of course, the neanderthal, hereto unevolved variant of our entrée course, the e-boy. For several years, this was the only real recorded usage of the enigmatic “e”. The solidified counterparts to the “e-girl” were still floating around in the stratosphere, knockoff Timothée Chalamet locks flailing over sullen eyes across e-space. Alas, though, as TikTok permeated the plebeian sphere in 2017, the letter “e” was totally divested of its former meaning: “e-girls” began to embrace the term in a new, unforeseen light, viewing it as a resoundingly positive moniker that could be flipped on its head for clout acquisition. As the e-girl embarked on its journey of self-actualization, the development of its counterpart finally began to make some headway. Armed with an infinite supply of striped longsleeves, clanky wallet chains, and palpably burdensome chips on their shoulders, e-boys everywhere descended from their heavens and rose from their hells. And what sort of attitudes did they reserve for Earth?

“WHILE OTHER GROUPS TRY TO PUT FORTH AN IOTA OF ORIGINALITY IN THEIR PRESENTATION, THE E-BOY IS NOTHING MORE THAN CONGLOMERATION OF ADJACENT GROUPS’ MOST RIVETING, OFTEN MOST OBNOXOUS, FADS.” Markedly shabby ones, I tell you. E-boys exist in a pool of existential pain that most mortals could only dip a trembling toe into. This is why e-boys do not smile, and why they have become associated in hybrid form with the more macabre of subcultures: the goth and the emo. Yet, where the goth and the emo are apt targets of derision, the e-boy is that of envy. This is because the e-boy, more than any other group, has perfected the art of existing on the surface level. Substance is inconceivable for the e-boy. The e-boy is a vapid and nihilistic creature—there, I said it. These are very brash words, but if you try to sugarcoat an inky bottomless void you’re still going to get an inky bottomless void, with maybe a little something sweet around the edges. First and foremost, there is the matter of the e-boy’s attire, by far the make-or-break factor of his existence. While other groups try to put forth an iota of originality in their presentation, the e-boy is nothing more

than a conglomeration of adjacent groups’ most riveting, often most obnoxious, fads. From the skater, the e-boy takes the Thrasher and the Vans; from the goth, the nail polish and the occultish, subtly-unsubtle rings and dangly things; from the emo, the Hot Topic tees and soul-absorbing black cargo pants; and, finally, from the average old streetwear-sporting Kyle, the pinstriped shirts, solid color sweatshirts, and jeans that are somehow still too tight for his nicotine-fueled Gumby frame. These fads cannot be outsourced: appearance-wise, the e-boy is all of these things and nothing more. Everything but himself, he is! But hmm… maybe his true character emerges from his actions; let us not anoint the e-boy with premature disgrace. Surprisingly, the e-boy learned with great alacrity that he can do other things while wearing clothes. These things include making TikToks that expose viewers to the inner chambers of his heart and soul. Doing away with Vine meant

doing away with the frivolous heartthrobs like Cameron Dallas and Matthew Espinosa and ushering in an era of new internet brooding—one in which the e-boy would find his true home. Yet, did this omnipotent sense of brooding translate to TikToks brimming with Shakespearean tragedy? Not quite. Instead, e-boys deigned to create TikToks consisting of many an outfit change and many a skateboard trick, performed to the quintessential ghostmumbledreampoprap soundtrack. TikTok being the primary vehicle for the e-boy’s expression, he soon trapped himself in this pit of utter senselessness, out of which he has never dug himself out. His main cause, then, appears to flaunt the very trends which he has stolen. Indeed, not very cash money of him. This results in an alarming hollowness that distinguishes him from other groups current and past. While other groups use the superficial as a complementary force, the e-boy is nothing more than his superficiality—one whose components he has taken from others and manipulated for his own benefit. He is what happens when subcultures no longer become a bridge, but an end in themselves. After all, what does the e-boy hope to achieve? Another view, another follower, another soon-to-be-regretted glance in his direction—whatever selfingratiation can fuel his further self-aggrandizement. Is this dismal reality the e-boy’s fault? Perhaps not— maybe this is how the mighty e-powers intended it all to play out. But, nonetheless, we should learn to view the existence of the e-boy as a fair warning for whatever cultural onslaught is to come next: we must always remember to exist for more than and beyond ourselves. The great clock of the universe TikToks for us all. ◊


White Male Rage and the 92nd Academy Awards BY EMILY WINKLER | CONTRIBUTING WRITER The Academy Awards have taken ample criticism in recent years surrounding the diversity (or lack thereof) in nominations and, perhaps unsuprisingly, the 92nd annual Oscar Awards that took place two weekends did little to keep this criticism at bay. During the Saturday Night Live episode that followed the release of the nominations list, Melissa Villaseñor starred in a skit that went through a handful of these recognized films to the tune of an original satirical song with a chorus “White Male Rage.” She begins by singing about the plot of Best Picture nom- Joker before inevitably boiling the film down at the end of her sung synopsis to “the thing that this movie is really about [which] is white male rage, white male rage, white male rage.” Through the audience’s laughter, Villaseñor proceeded to work her way through a list of additional high profile films of the year like The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Jojo Rabbit, 1917, and Toy Story 4, insinuating they all contain plots that strip down to white male rage. Well done, Villaseñor. I think that sums it up nicely. Let’s look at who this white male rage took space from at the 2020 Oscars. Outside of the success of Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite, the Academy stuck decidedly within their comfort zone. Only this time, they decided to decorate the outermost appearance of the live show with stars of all demographics, assigning them as speakers and announcers. Therefore, at a mere glance, the show presented as diverse. But that diversity

February 21st, 2020

“ACCORDING TO VARIETY, ONLY FIVE WOMEN IN THE 92 YEARS OF THE OSCARS HAVE BEEN NOMINATED FOR BEST DIRECTOR... WHO DOES THE VOTING COMMITTEE THINK IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THESE WORKS OF ART? didn’t penetrate below the surface at all. To quote an article in The Conversation, “Indeed, the optics of this year’s Oscars represented liberal ‘inclusion’ at its peak, with Janelle Monáe and Billy Porter kicking off the show. There was also a land acknowledgment by Maori Indigenous screenplay awardwinner Taika Waititi and many of the announcers were white women or people of colour—in a year of largely white and male nominees.” In other words, people in marginalized groups took the stage primarily to hand white men awards. The opening number of the Oscars referenced snubbed films of the year, criticizing the whiteness of the nominations and the blatant disregard for female directors. Backup dancers appeared in costumes from primarily POC-focused movies like Us, which did not receive any nominations at all. Stepping out onto the Oscars red carpet and gracing us with her pretty political presence, Natalie Portman sported a Dior

cape embroidered with the names of female directors not nominated this year: Melina Matsoukas, Greta Gerwig, Lulu Wang, Kasi Lemmons, Lorene Scafaria, Marielle Heller, and Alma Har’el. Only one actor of color, Cynthia Erivo, was nominated for Harriet. Needless to specify, Cynthia Erivo was not the only actor of color with an exquisite performance in a major film. Not a single actor in Parasite was up for an award, despite the film’s success in other categories. Jennifer Lopez of Hustlers didn't see the ballot either. Akwafina, who won the Golden Globe for her work in The Farewell, also didn't receive a nomination. The achievements of female directors were also neglected at this year's awards.The Golden Globes, which are traditionally a way to predict Academy Award success, undoubtedly diversified (at least the acting) nominations in ways that far exceeded the Academy, with Jennifer Lopez, Cynthia Erivo, Ana de Armas and others receiving nominations. Come on Oscars, you need to step up your game. According to Variety, only five women in the 92 years of the Oscars have been nominated for Best Director, with Kathryn Bigelow being the only woman recipient of the award in 2010 for the film The Hurt Locker. For the 2020 Oscars, films like Little Women, Hustlers, The Farewell, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood all had other major nominations. Who does the voting committee think is responsible for these works of art? Before her work this season directing Little Women, Greta Gerwig was the mind behind the 2017 film Ladybird, which was nominated for an impressive five Oscars and scored a whopping 99% critics approval on Rotten Tomatoes. That year, she made history by being the fifth and most recent woman to appear on the Best Director ballot, although she did not win. Fast forward to this year’s Oscars, her acclaimed feminist adaption of the novel Little Women acquired four nominations, the most notable being Best Picture. Greta Gerwig was, as mentioned earlier, not nominated in the 2020 Best Director category. The film, rated 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, took home one award. I want you to take a wild (or quite educated) guess on which category Hollywood found this primarily femalemade film deserving of. If your guess was costumes, you are correct. While costume designer Jacqueline Durran produced exquisite work, the film and the women involved deserve more than just recognition for, ultimately, their visual appearance under elaborate 19th century gowns. Had the Academy recognized this feminist piece in other categories as well, the costume win wouldn’t feel like such a backhanded compliment. To restate, I am by no means criticizing Durran’s victory, or minimizing the film’s accomplishment in this sector. But by only allowing space for this aspect of the film to receive the praise it deserved, Hollywood made clear what single part of this film they care about. The women in the film are sights to see, not actresses, directors, or anything else. It’s safe to assume that the staggering number of artists of color and women left off the ballot confirms that Melissa Villaseñor was correct: white male rage took up the most space, and walked home with the biggest prizes of the night. ◊


Why Don’t We Give Oscars to Movies from Past Years, Such as Forrest Gump? BY LEVI DAYAN | STAFF WRITER Movies, movies, movies. Everybody loves them, and for good reason. Since the beginning of time, from Stone Age to phone age, Austin Powers to Austin Powers: Goldmember, nothing has been more important in movie history than the Oscar. It is the Big One, the golden guy, the mighty Oscar, the single biggest sign that a movie is good. The biggest mistake people make when getting mad about the Academy Awards is that they often compare it to award shows such as the Grammys. The Grammys, however, are an “award show” in which the “winners” are “chosen” by a group of industry movers and shakers, and these are people who often choose the wrong people to win these awards. A more accurate point of comparison for the Oscars would be the Papal Conclave. Sometimes, the newly chosen Pope may seem lame, boring, offensive, or even straight up notthat-good, but one fact remains: he is

the Pope, he is valid, and nothing can change that. What I am saying is that the Oscar is the Pope of movies, in that He is predetermined by an act of divine power (perhaps God), and thus, inherently good. But theorizing about why the Oscars make these decisions is beside the point. The point is, how can we make the Oscars less confusing? And the answer to that question is not by changing them, but by expanding them. As I read through the list of this year’s Oscar winners, I was struck by the underrepresentation of classic movies in favor of new hotshot directors. In fact, I noticed a startling lack of movies that came out before 2019. Again, regardless of how lame a movie seems, if it’s an Oscar winner it’s an Oscar winner, and therefore a good movie. But that doesn’t mean that there can’t be more Oscar winners outside of

the limited boundaries we’ve created for them. Much like the Bible or the United States Constitution, the Oscar is a living, breathing document that can be interpreted in many different ways. So why not acknowledge the important roles certain classic movies have played in our minds, and in our hearts, by giving them more awards? In particular, I see no reason why Rocky, which beat Taxi Driver in 1976, shouldn’t win two or three more awards. Gosh, what a great little movie that was. I also think that, for the benefit of the nation and the nation’s children, we should give more awards to classics such as Patton, because not enough people realize that the titular Patton is not just an angry man in a movie, but actually a real guy who fought in a war. The same goes for films such as The Deer Hunter, Platoon, and Forrest Gump, which remind us that the

Vietnam War did, in fact, really happen. By giving these movies awards even in years in which they were not shown in theaters, we will now know how many times each movie has won the Oscar, thus providing the definitive ranking system for how good a movie is. Additionally, I see no harm in giving awards to people who, despite not being the best in their field, are at the very least chill guys who are fun to hang out with. This way we could finally recognize people such as Kevin Smith and the Rock for their roles in making the world smile. I ask the Academy to take a hard look at itself. It is 2020, for Pete’s sake! How in 2020 do we not have the tools to evaluate work that came out before 2019? How have certified smile factories like Kevin Smith not gotten statues of recognition for their lifetimes of hard work? Do better. ◊

Student Doesn’t Miss Friend Studying Abroad Very Much BY CAMERON AVERY AND PRIYA BANERJEE I STAFF WRITER AND CONTRIBUTING WRITER Last semester, friends were saddened by third-year Thomas F.’s announcement that he would be leaving Oberlin for a semester to pursue a semester abroad. But now, sources say, thirdyear Nathan McDermott, one of Thomas’ closest friends, doesn’t actually miss him all that much. Sources say that McDermott, who acts like he’s really bummed about

his friend leaving when asked about it, is just sort of OK with the whole thing. When last asked, McDermott reportedly stated nervously that Thomas was studying abroad in “Austria or Switzerland, or some place like that.” Nathan’s mother, who met Thomas once at dinner over Parents’ Weekend has repeatedly inquired about Thomas’s

adventures abroad. Nathan reassures her that Thomas is doing “awesome,” but worries that his utter lack of knowledge about Thomas’ life will soon be discovered. McDermott reportedly has a permanent reminder on his phone called “Facetime Thomas!!!” that he’s ignored for months but hasn’t deleted just in

case he might want to eventually. Sources say that Thomas, who was once plagued with the fear that he’d be lonely without his Oberlin friends, has adjusted well due to the fact that he has found his life to be entirely unaffected by Nathan’s absence. ◊


February 2nd Was a Movie

BY IZZY HALLORAN AND DAISY VOLLEN I CONTRIBUTING WRITERS You wake up to the sun streaming through your window. Birds are singing, Albino squirrels are bustling. The first day of the semester. Are you ready? You get dressed in your Monday best and now you’re ready to impress. January brought gray skies and Seasonal Affective Disorder like no other. You forgot how the sun felt on your skin. You forgot the curve of your smile. But that all changes today. February 2nd has arrived, and your January funk is melting away with the snow. You’re eager to soak up some vitamin D so you grab your coat and skip out the door. It’s even brighter than you remembered it… it feels better than ever before. You hit shuffle on your favorite feel good playlist and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys plays. You make it to your first class with five minutes to spare. You get the best seat in the room. In the midst of unpacking your notebook and pens you look up and catch the eye of your crush as they enter the room. They throw you a casual wave, but their eyes are filled with desire. “Hey!” they say excitedly as they slide into the seat beside you. “I’m so glad you’re in this class! This semester’s gonna be a movie. I’ve heard great things about the professor.”

The next forty minutes are pure bliss and you’re let out ten minutes early. You and your crush walk to [your favorite coop] and eat a scrumptious meal--and they made enough for everyone! With your belly and your heart equally full, you head to your next class while the rest of your buds catch some rays in Wilder Bowl. Later, your body’s in King 327 but your heart’s outside getting a tan. The class sounded interesting on paper, but the professor’s monotone has you thinking about that baby soft grass and you quickly realize: This isn’t you. You pack your bag and sneak out the door. You’ve never felt as free as you do in this moment, sprinting down the King stairwell. A cluster of your friends are laying in your favorite spot in Wilder Bowl. They call out excitedly when they see you pulling up. Under the big branchy tree with your best pals, you wave at each of your former hookups. You feel brave, you feel weightless. Your crush touches your shoulder. “Hey, I’m glad you made it.” You close your eyes and breathe in the fresh February air. What a perfect day at Oberlin College and Conservatory. ◊

BY NELL BECK | CONTRIBUTING WRITER 1. You introduced yourself as a “creative.”

2. You asked your interviewer if they had any fun plans for the weekend? 3. You forgot to take down the neon pink dildo tacked to the wall directly behind you. 4. You forgot to cover up your stick-and-poke of a cowboy boot filled with french fries. 5. You called your interviewer “Mom.” 6. You got bored and started checking Instagram. 7. Oh no! Your shirt was inside out! And your interviewer said, “Your shirt is inside out” and you immediately took off your shirt and put it on the right way. 8. A cool bird landed on the tree outside of your window and you got excited and picked up your laptop to show your interviewer, but they couldn’t really see it because they were Skyping you from New York and you were trying to point the computer camera out your window at a leafy tree where a small red bird was sitting. 9. You said, “No, you hang up first!” but then realized that that’s not an appropriate way to end a Skype interview and also they didn’t ask you to hang up in the first place. ◊

February 21st, 2020

Illustration by Ian Ruppenthal

Nine Embarassing Things that Happened During Your Skype Interview


All students A Message From the Campus Digest: CORONAVIRUS ALERT Dear Oberlin College & Community,

Illustration by Levi Dayan

We at Campus Digest believe in integrity and are here for you in every respect. We alert you, Oberlin College student or community member, with featured readings and campus-based news stories about the Oberlin College Community. This said, it is important to acknowledge that we have fallen into some hot water in recent years for some headlines that many called “misleading”—most recently the subject line “BEES! BEES IN MUDD, URGENT!” in reference to a local honey festival three months in the future. With an issue as important as the Coronavirus, the last thing we want to do is mislead. We do not want you to sit idly by while a deadly disease ravages you or your child’s academic community. Not that that is necessarily happening—to reiterate, we do not want to spread misinformation so make sure to keep reading for the update. On February 3rd, a student with a low-grade fever visited Student Health Services for evaluation. Following protocol, Student Health Services contacted Lorain County Public Health, which traveled to campus to evaluate the student. These individuals were ultimately concerned. In turn, the officials decided the student did not meet the criteria to be considered “under investigation.” However, it was determined that the student should be temporarily isolated off-campus overnight before returning to campus this morning. Barring a change in health status, the student has remained isolated not not having coronavirus but has participated in classes remotely. Meals have been delivered to them. They have enjoyed the grilled chicken from Stevenson dining hall and additionally have had the pleasure and privilege of having a few Sally salads, a breakfast sandwich with egg and croissant, and lastly one of the newer sandwich-type things that are packaged differently. The student seems to enjoy the newer packaged sandwiches. It seems as if the other students do as well. Also, as a matter of protocol, the student’s dorm room was sanitized and their roommate, who has no symptoms of illness, was allowed to remain in their room. (However, we deem it a possibility that they could acquire a common cold due to it being flu season.) All of this is to say--there have been No cases of Coronavirus. That’s the update. The College will continue to collaborate with Lorain County Public Health and the Ohio Department of Health and send daily emails with subject lines containing the word ‘URGENT” in red font. ◊

Big Man HATES Little Women BY IZZY HALLORAN I CONTRIBUTING WRITER Greta Gerwig’s Little Women was a Little Disappointment. Maybe a big one. The hype behind this movie is perplexing--and quite frankly, stupid. Who cares about these women and their domestic lives? They’re not even that little, I mean they’re teenagers at the very least. From the get-go there are a lot of issues here, and everyone else might be afraid to say it because it was a “woman director,” but I won’t sit here and let P.C. culture continue to censor me when it’s clearly what everyone’s thinking. Let’s start with the primary “little woman” in question. I don’t understand why everyone decided Sertia Ronan is such an indie darling all of a sudden. If I wanted to see Ladybird as a period piece, I would have just watched Ladybird again but imagined her in a colonial dress. While Ladybird is on the table, I would love for someone to explain this Timothée Chalamet

situation to me. I’m not gay, but I can tell he’s a seven at most. And that’s by Ohio standards. Little Women? More like Little Man. I’m 6’3, and I have a good five inches on him. And that pic of him kissing Johnny Depp’s smoking hot daughter? Straight up gross. He should be barred from Hollywood. Speaking of daughters, let’s talk about Amy. Shrill much? All the girl does is whine and moan, it’s such a turn off. And over freakin’ Timmy?? Pathetic. He’s not worth it, Amy. I definitely couldn’t spend another two hours and fifteen minutes with her, but in all honesty, I’d still hit that. She could do better than Timmy. Also, his name in the movie is “Laurie,” which is a girl’s name, so strike number three for this “male protagonist.” Let’s move onto Emma Watson as Meg. Emma Watson was a straight up babe while remaining faithful to her husband, so no complaints right now.

Jo, however… don’t get me started on Jo. From the beginning I knew she was no good. She friendzones Laurie and decides she wants him once it’s too late. First, she wants the French professor, then rejects him because he offered valid critiques of her writing. Finally, she decides she wants him again because he’s too hot to let go. Make up your mind, Jo! I may not like Laurie, but friendzoning is not cool and I feel for him there. Moreover, there’s no chance I’d read her book. Seriously, who gave that woman a quill and parchment? Blow those candles out and go to bed, sweetie. Searsha would have been alright if she had never cut her hair and just took care of her dying sister instead. Poor Beth deserved better. What an angel. Literally now. I’m weeping as I write this. A moment of silence for Beth… This back and forth between

characters is reminding me of those god awful flashbacks that Greta loves so much. They were so confusing, just horribly done. That whole theater was left perplexed AF, I could feel it. It was a little more clear when they cut Cersei’s hair, I’ll give it that, but if a haircut is the only tool in Greta’s toolbox, maybe it’s a sign that she should go back to the shed and not come out until she’s grabbed some more tools. All in all, this movie was a poor attempt at a feel good film for a niche target audience. It was slow, it was confusing, and it didn’t deserve its Oscar Noms (aside from Best Costume, which it rightfully won). I say enough with the Timothée Chalamet, enough with the ScarJo Ronan, enough with the “Greta Gerwig.” Save your money--go see Joker instead. ◊ This review is dedicated to Beth March (1849-1868). Rest in Peace.


Profile for The Grape

FEBRUARY 21 2020  

FEBRUARY 21 2020  

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