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VUSAC RESTRUCTURES 2 wack NEWS COVERAGE 4 our on-campus religion 5 MANIC PIXIE NIGHTMARE 8 MASON JAR LUNCHES 10 Fact v. Fiction in the imitation game 12 Learn to text like a teenage pro 16 VICTORIA UNIVERSITY’S STUDENT NEWSPAPER


it’s still cold...

also inside... the oscars are wack, too (13)

performance spaces (10)

nice things to think about (15)



ANTHONY BURTON NEWS EDITOR emphasizes the President’s excess of mandates and seeks to reduce the load expected of the position. “The president currently sits on more committees than Kelley [Castle, Dean of Students] and [Victoria University President Paul] Gooch combined,” noted Enxhi Kondi, Vice-President Operations. The proposal aims to lighten the load on executives by creating more positions on the council. It notes closer integration between VUSAC and the Vic community as an added benefit of expanding the number of roles on the council. However, the proposal contradicts itself with regards to that claim; the subsequent paragraph in the proposal details the elimination of a previously established position, the Academic and Professional Development Commissioner. The Vice-President Operations would delegate the duty of overseeing Vic club operations to the Clubs Commissioner. The Vice-President External

would be split into two roles, with the duties of overseeing levies being given to a newly-formed Lev y Commissioner. Kondi and current Vice-President External, Kareem Jarrah, both endorsed the proposed changes. The current Scarlet & Gold commissioner, Olivia Klasios, raised a concern with the way the proposal was introduced, as well as its language towards her position. “I was told the day of that my position was being put up for restructuring, and it honestly pissed me off,” Klasios said during the meeting. Kondi raised the issue of a perceived lack of responsibilities for the Scarlet & Gold Commissioner, repeatedly asking Klasios “what else” she has to do. The proposal is currently being reworked based off of the issues raised during the meeting, and VUSAC will present new models at their Januar y 30 meeting


Events concerning members of Victoria College’s student union (VUSAC) over the holiday season led to a proposed board restructuring. This proposal would reconfigure the roles and responsibilities of President, Vice-President Operations, Vice-President External, Scarlet & Gold Commissioner, among others. The informal proposal was posted on VUSAC’s website the day prior to their Januar y 16 meeting. Reaction to the proposal was mixed. Issues were raised with regards to the way the proposal was initiated; some criticized the fact that the people who currently hold the positions that are up for restructuring were not consulted. The proposal in its current state is not a mandate or an official document, so discussions will continue at the next VUSAC meeting. The proposed restructuring of the President’s role raised concerns that the position would become a figurehead, with one VUSAC member comparing it to the British monarchy. However, the proposal

MILOS RAONIC LOOKING TO BUILD ON STRONG SEASON JUSTIN NOVICK-FAILLE STAFF WRITER After a strong tennis season in 2014, Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ontario will look to build on his successes by challenging for major titles again in 2015. After attaining a career-high ranking of sixth last season and ultimately qualifying for the Tour Finals in London this past November, Raonic is poised for another fine season in 2015. In 2014, Raonic, one of the best ser vers on tour, achieved a career best in three of the four Grand Slams, the most prestigious tournaments in tennis. At Wimbledon he became the first Canadian man to make the semifinals since 1908. At the French Open he made the quar ter finals for the first time. Raonic


also matched a personal best at the US Open by making it to the four th round for the third time in his young career. These results, combined with strong showings at other tournaments and highlighted by a tournament win at the Citi Open, helped him qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals, an end-of-year tournament that includes only the top eight players in the world. This was the first time Raonic had par ticipated in this prestigious event. Notably, his victor y at the Citi Open Finals came against Vasek Pospisil, a fellow Canadian, making it the first time two Canadians had faced each other in the finals of a tour event. So far, Raonic has fared extremely well in the

season’s first Major, the Australian Open, which is ongoing at the time of writing. In his first three matches, Raonic has yet to lose a set and has seemed to get stronger with ever y match. By making it to the four th round of this event, Raonic has equalled his career best. He previously made the four th round of the event in 2011 and in 2013. Before the Australian Open, Raonic par ticipated in a tournament in Brisbane. In this tournament, he made the finals before ultimately losing to Roger Federer. Clearly, Raonic will continue to rise. As long as he stays healthy, Raonic should be set to smash his way into the record books this year.




Ready to meet the best friends of our life! Accosted by frosh leaders. End the first night playing Monopoly. Alone.


Realise the best part of your day was talking to your mom on the phone. Friend count: Mom.


Sweat to death at the “Guv.” Yelled at by frosh leaders. Maybe classes will be better? Friend count: 2 and 1/2

DAY 126 DAY 130

FROST WEEK IS STARTING. Pray for snow. “It’s like frosh week, in the winter.” Haven’t quite figured out the difference between Winterfest and Frost week but understand that it is minus 30 with the wind chill. (Seriously frosty but less froshy!)

“I don’t even know anything about Frost Week” - First year student, Lower Burwash residence “Is Winterfest the name of our Frost Week or is Frost Week the name of our Winterfest?” - First year student, BG resudence “What’s Frost Week?” - Third year student, Lower Burwash residence

“What are your expectations for this week?” Stuart Norton, VUSAC councillor: Have fun and a nice transition into the second semester that doesn’t just go from break to intense school; it’s a smooth process. Something to get you excited for the rest of the semester. “How do you think Frosh Week compares with Frost Week?” Norton: I think the benefit of doing it this time of year as opposed to the beginning is that you’ve made friends and established friends somewhat. There’s less social pressure.



NEWS COVERAGE: HELLA RACIST Boko Haram, Charlie Hebdo, and the worth of black lives

MANAAL ISMACIL CONTRIBUTOR On January 11, 2015, an estimated 3.7 million people, including 40 world leaders, marched the streets of Paris united against a common foe: terrorism, and Islamic terrorism in particular. This march was in response to the attack that had occurred four days earlier at the headquarters of the weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. A total of 17 lives were claimed at the hands of Islamic extremism, which was seen by many as an attack on two fundamental freedoms: freedom of press and freedom of expression. It has now been over two weeks since the attack in Paris, and France and the rest of the world are still coming to terms with what happened. Sentiments of shock, empathy, and fear have shifted to feelings of anger and frustration regarding the state of terrorism in the world today and, even more so, the state of terrorism in the Western world. An overwhelming sense of solidarity has risen amongst the international community in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Solidarity marches happened all over the world outside of French embassies. News sources like Al Jazeera provided live feeds, allowing us to watch developments unfold right before our eyes. For those of us sitting anxiously by our computers or televisions, it was moving to see the world respond so empathetically. Many people took to social media to show support for those upholding the freedoms of press and expression in the form of passionate editorials, blog posts, and, of course, the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag. However, in spite of media saturation of the Charlie Hebdo story, it was not the most devastating Islamic extremist terrorist attack that occurred that week. This fact raises certain questions: if Charlie Hebdo wasn’t the most devastating attack by Islamic extremists, then what was? Why didn’t media coverage reflect this? On January 3, only four days before the Charlie


Hebdo attack, Boko Haram, an Islamic fundamentalist group, asserted their growing control in Baga, Nigeria, 5,000 kilometres south of France. The entire town was reduced to rubble. Buildings were burned to the ground and homes were pillaged, leaving 2,000 Nigerians dead and an estimated 20,000 displaced. In the last five years, Boko Haram has waged a brutal war in Nigeria, using violence to forcibly turn the country into an Islamic state one community at a time. Conducive to Boko Haram’s growth has been Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s unwillingness to acknowledge the control that Boko Haram has gained thus far. President Jonathan continues to dismiss the group as a mere nuisance rather than a looming threat to the people of Nigeria and beyond. When the attack in France reached the global community, many world leaders were quick to express their condolences and solidarity. Among these was President Jonathan, who released the following statement: “…Nigeria stands in full solidarity with [France] on this day of national mourning for those who lost their lives at the hands of terrorists in Paris on Tuesday.” The President remained silent about the attack that left 2,000 of his citizens dead, also at “the hands of terrorists.” Despite the palpable silence from the Nigerian government on the terrorism in their own backyard, the Western media did report on Baga. But this news was quickly pushed aside to accommodate the news that emerged from France. Critics were quick to reveal the imbalance within the media, which dedicated its coverage almost entirely to France. “I am Charlie, but I am Baga too,” wrote Simon Allison for the Daily Maverick. “There are massacres and there are massacres,” he said. “It may be the 21st century, but African lives are still deemed less newsworthy—and, by implication, less valuable—than western lives.” So is it racism, indifference, or media bias?

The discourse regarding Africa is extremely problematic. The construction of Africa in the media as the “dark continent” haunted by trauma and tragedy requires a reinforcement of particular assumptions and stereotypes. Africa is too often characterized by its poverty, war, disease, and corruption. Anything that adheres to this brutal characterization no longer surprises us or evokes our empathy. The media is guilty of sensationalism, especially when it comes to issues within the African context. This eagerness to report the “bad” minimizes the continent’s triumphs as minimal or inconsequential. As a result, even the most empathetic global citizens have become desensitized to massacres that have occurred in Africa—the Rwandan Genocide, piracy in Somalia, and now Boko Haram in Nigeria. In France, a European country, where democracy, peace, and civility are expected, we have seen the world respond very differently. The world responds with passionate editorials, solidarity marches, and universal condemnation. This absence of public disapproval from the international community regarding Baga reinforces the idea that black lives don’t matter, especially in an African context. However, another unfortunate reality remains: an attack in the name of Islamic extremism is a victory for Islamic extremism everywhere. We cannot confine the terrorism committed by Boko Haram to merely an “African” or “Nigerian” issue. It is a global issue that requires public condemnation and support. We should not limit our capacity for empathy—that only deepens sentiments of indifference and, as a result, further promotes media bias. Just as the Charlie Hebdo shooting was seen as an attack on the innocent, this latest attack by Boko Haram must be viewed and treated the same way.



Graphic sexism demands more discipline, not more opinions HOLLY MCKENZIE-SUTTER ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR In the month since the now-infamous “Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen” Facebook group entered the news cycle, I have found myself exhausted by think pieces. The group consisted of thirteen male students, all planning to graduate and enter into paid clinical work this spring. Members of the group took polls on which women in the class they would most like to “hate fuck” and joked about having sex with women after chloroforming them into unconsciousness. The group was live from 2011 until mid-December 2014, when members learned that a complaint had been filed with the school’s administration. The actions of these students, as well as the university’s botched attempt at appearing to take the matter seriously while delaying disciplinary action, have come under fire across the country. It feels like every other day since this story broke, I’ve seen an opinion piece from a Canadian news outlet titled with some variation of “WHY THE DAL DENTISTRY STUDENTS SHOULD BE EXPELLED.” I’ve read many of these pieces, although I am not sure why; they consistently serve to frustrate me. Perhaps I expect that someone will offer a fresh and ground-breaking perspective on the issue that will really open our eyes as to WHY THE DAL DENTISTRY STUDENTS SHOULD BE EXPELLED. This is never the case. I already know why these students should be expelled. Grown adult men posing as

professionals, expecting to enter a medical field, joined a group under their program name and joked about putting people under anaesthesia and raping them. Presenting the idea that they should be punished for this as a nuanced opinion is exhausting to read. The fact that we are participating in this discussion and treating the question of these students’ punishment as a conceptual argument is indicative of how stagnant our current attitude towards taking action on this kind

Presenting the idea that they should be punished for this as a nuanced opinion is exhausting to read. of sexism is. It seems that collectively we know the right thing to say in response to the scandal. We are shocked and appalled by these comments and find them out of place in the 21st century. We pat ourselves on the back for saying it’s wrong.

It’s interesting, then, that Dalhousie University would take so long to make a decision about the students’ future in the program, despite taking the matter very seriously and being shocked and appalled by these comments that are, of course, out of place in the 21st century. We know what to say in this situation, but we’ve shown time and again that when it comes down to the wire, we don’t do the right thing (if we do anything at all). What’s the point of all the think pieces and opinion columns offering unique perspectives on why men who joke about raping their classmates should be expelled? Nothing will ever happen to them. Discussing the Dalhousie situation like a distanced conceptual study in an opinion piece feels like the equivalent of banging one’s head against the wall. Every opinion offered on the matter, while the school’s disciplinary response continues to fall short, is a further offense to the female students of Dalhousie’s Dentistry School. In screenshots taken from a “DDS 2015 Gentlemen” conversation shortly before the group went up in flames, one member offered some sage, comforting wisdom to his peers: “Boys what are they going to do? honestly. Kick every guy out of 4th year?” Well, yes. That would be nice. That would be good. But hey, that’s just my opinion.

THE DEPTH OF ON-CAMPUS RELIGION Uof T is a big school, with seven colleges to accommodate a range of student needs and identities. Two of those colleges have religious affiliations: St. Michael’s and Trinity. St. Michael’s identifies as Catholic and hosts the Christianity and Culture Program. Trinity identifies as Anglican, having been founded by Bishop John Strachan in 1851, and hosts the Faculty of Divinity, a theological school. They exist rather harmoniously within a post-secondary education system that highly values secularism. They seem, in many ways, to have adapted to meet the demands of our system, accepting all students regardless of observance, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or otherwise. Their religious programs are academic, not doctrinaire, and invite intellectual debate and dissent like any other program. In fact, it seems that they are now colleges like any other, with their religious affiliations mere asterisks to their campus presence. I think that’s a good thing—genuinely secular education is one of Canada’s greatest strengths. It builds a culture of objective and merit-based achievement. But Uof T’s colleges also play some non-academic roles, and it is in these that St. Mike’s and Trinity still deserve some critique. The colleges are a place of study, yes, but they also generate student identity and act as physical hubs of daily life—places to eat and meet with friends or landmarks when travelling to class. For many students, their college affects the way they imagine themselves in the broader university context; it also affects the way they imagine the university itself—solid yellow stone in the case of St. Mikes, bright Victoriana in the case of Vic, brooding and geometrical neo-Gothicism in the case of Trinity. These are important factors in defining our university experience. So it’s worth investigating the social and physical impressions that religious colleges leave on students.

Though it admits those of all faiths, when St. Mike’s students announce their college, they often face a followup question (or assumption): “Oh, so you’re Catholic?” Maybe that’s trivial and doesn’t bother most non-Catholic students. But it’s also a small, constant reminder that if you’re Presbyterian, Jewish, Buddhist, or Muslim— well, this place wasn’t built for you. That’s a message reinforced by the constructed form of these colleges. Both St. Mike’s and Trinity are stunningly beautiful, classic examples of solid early 20th-century collegiate architecture. Yet both are also dominated by their religious structures—Trinity’s austere chapel and the towering St. Basil’s Church at St. Mike’s. Perhaps these are simply landmarks populating the backdrop of our academic lives. Still, for some, these may prove to be daily reminders that if you are neither Catholic nor Anglican, you are “other.” The architecture of Woodsworth and New College is not glorious, but at the very least it is ruthlessly and unambiguously secular. Their reputations are not long, but they preclude assumptions about what kind of student—or person—you are. Of course, there are physical hubs for other faiths on campus: the Wolfond Centre and the Multi-Faith Centre, for example. Yet these are ad hoc and not as definitive of our on-campus identities as the colleges. Does this mean we should challenge the remnants of religion in St. Mike’s and Trinity? Or, conversely, should we build up other faiths on campus such that each major religion plays a part in every college? I’m not sure. At the very least, it’s worth remembering that institutional religion still exists at Uof T, and that both secularism and religious tolerance are values that need constant reinforcement in our discourse and our physical environment.






Amanda Aziz Emily Pollock Paula Razuri


Anthony Burton Ben Atkins

O pinions

Jonah Letovsky Reema Kureishy


Chantal Duchesne

Arts & Culture

Holly McKenzie-Sutter

Film & Music

Claire Wilkins


Emily Deibert Olesya Lyuzna



Vacant Vivian Che Grace Quinsey


Rhianna Jackson-Kelso


Victoria Chuen


Lynn Seolim Hong Wenting Li





Editorial Assistant

Kasra Koushan, Kiley Venables, Lily Wang

Contributors Jenna Borisevich, Emily Dyer, Manaal Ismacil, Griffin Kelly, Bronwyn Nisbet-Gray, Justin Novick-Faille, Nicole Paroyan, Cara Schacter, Brenan Sivapragasam, Angela Sun, Genevieve Wakutz, Gabriel Zoltan-Johan Copy Editors Alexandra Jones, Bronwyn Nisbet-Gray, Jacob McNair, Olivia Dziwak, Grace Bannerman, Marlee Burton Illustrations Lynn Seolim Hong, Wenting Li, Emily Pollock Photos Victoria Chuen Cover Photo Victoria Chuen

The Strand has been the newspaper of record for Victoria University since 1953. It is published 12 times a year with a circulation of 2000 and is distributed in Victoria University buildings and across the University of Toronto’s St. George campus. The Strand flagrantly enjoys its editorial autonomy and is committed to acting as an agent of constructive social change. As such, we will not publish material deemed to exhibit racism, sexism, homo/trans*phobia, ableism, or other oppressive language. The Strand is a proud member of the Canadian University Press (CUP). Our offices are located at 150 Charles St. W., Toronto, ON, M5S 1K9. Please direct enquiries by email to Submissions are welcome and may be edited for taste, brevity, and legality.


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IN SOCIAL MEDIA WE TRUST AMANDA AZIZ EDITOR-IN-CHIEF A ll r ight, I adm it it—I’m an an x ious p er son. I double-che ck ever y t hing. I have ala r m s s et in five-m inute increment s in c a s e I sle ep t h rough t he fir st one. I t ie my sho es not once, but t w ice (to avoid lo os e end s). I also ma ke sure to w it hhold my opinion on bre a k ing news unt il I’m able to get a s e cond source t hat back s up t he rep or t (go o d prote c t ion against cra z y inter net de at h hoa xes). In a world where t he pubic is inundate d w it h fals e or incomplete infor mat ion ever y day, get t ing a s e cond (or t hird, or four t h) opinion is ver y imp or t ant. T his is why I’ve b eg un to lo ok to so cial me dia to prov ide me w it h confir mat ion of t he t hings I s e e on t he news. In so cial me dia, I find a com munit y deter m ine d to s e ek out infor mat ion purely for infor mat ion’s s a ke. T his com munit y ha s ac t ually b e en so us ef ul to me t hat lately so cial media ha s b e come my pr ima r y source of news. Ta ke t his a s an exa mple: re cent ly, an a r me d robb er y to ok place in a convenience store t hat sit s nicely on t he inter s e c t ion of Dup ont and Spadina. T he lo c al news did not rep or t on s aid incident. T he Toronto Police Ser v ice did not issue a st atement. T here were only a few t we et s f rom p er sonal account s and one f rom t he CBC t hat include d a pic t ure of t he s cene. T hat wa s it. I only k now of t his event b e c aus e I v isit t his convenience store often, and b ec aus e some one I k now ver y well who lives in t he a re a told me ab out it. A fter wait ing a day and che ck ing lo c al news out let s like t he CBC, I found no up date on t he issue. It wa s a s if t he cr ime never happ ene d. I’m not one to sig n up for neighb our ho o d watch dut y, but I t hink t hat a life-t h re atening event like an a r me d robb er y should b e rep or te d to t he sur rounding neighb our ho o d a s a mat ter of public s afet y, and a s an aid to t he ongoing invest igat ion. T he g rowing t rend of t radit ional news out let s ig nor ing imp or t ant event s in lieu of fo cusing on ot her, more s ens at ional event s is c aus e for concer n. We t r ust so cial me dia to rep or t to us ab out bu z z ing online t rend s and enter t ainment news. However, when cer t ain event s s et t he me dia afire, suddenly we s e e a drop in rep or ting on all ot her topic s. T he re cent b ombing of t he Colorado branch of t he Nat ional A sso ciat ion of t he Advancement of Coloure d Pe ople (NA ACP) is a somb er exa mple. T his incident to ok place a round t he s a me t ime a s t he Cha rlie Heb do sho ot ings, which ende d up under m ining

t he rep or t ing of many ot her bre a k ing event s. One of t he main re a sons why t he public slowly b e c a me awa re of t he NA ACP b ombing wa s b ec aus e of t we et s f rom p er sonal account s ple ading w it h t he public to spre ad awa reness. T he fac t t hat t here wa s ba rely any rep or ting or public dis cussion on t he NA ACP hate cr ime is indic at ive of our so ciet al values. T he me dia prefer re d to fo cus on a t rag ic at t ack on a racist public at ion while ig nor ing a t rag ic at t ack on an a sso ciat ion aim ing to b e at oppression, which is dow nr ight dist ur bing. Even now, t radit ional me dia coverage of t his o ccurrence is slow, but it’s b e en on high-sp e e d on so cial me dia. Many exp e c t so cial me dia to b e a sor t of after-t hought to “re al news,” but it s e em s like so cial me dia is b e com ing t he protot hought to any event t hat should b e t he fo cus of t he public eye. W hen did t he t radit ional me dia b e come so lim ite d in what it c an offer? In a t ime when news is so accessible, we should not w it hdraw f rom rep or t ing on a range of event s just b e c aus e one event happ ens to b e t he most “t rending.” Nor should we dis cont inue invest igat ion or ret rac t our interest in news t hat t he major it y of t he p opulat ion is not t uning in to. T his includes lo c al news and cr ime, to o, much like t he a r me d robb er y at Dup ont and Spadina. News should b e obje c t ive, not a p opula r it y contest; we should have access to sufficient coverage on all o ccur rences t hat have an impac t on t he public, whet her t hey t rend or not. W hatever news ga r ner s more public at tent ion and profit for broadc a ster s and publisher s is what now s e em s wor t hy of b eing publishe d. T his is f r ightening, consider ing t he fac t t hat we also live in a world f ull of t he m isg uide d values of money fir st, morals later. Since social me dia is f re e and is most ly not profit able for t hos e p ost ing v ia p er sonal account s (for now and forever, I hop e), I find it to b e t he most obje c t ive source we have at t he moment for re ading up on world and lo c al event s. If I now lo ok to so cial me dia a s my fir st source, t hen I’ll che ck t he t radit ional me dia a s my s e cond. Follow ing t hat, I’ll hold my s ay on t his unt il I find confir mat ion of my met ho d s w it h t he nex t bre a k ing news I st umble up on. But unt il t hen, I’ll remain an x ious.




The strand is now an award-winning paper thanks to no one in particular.* Shoutout to our day-ones.

***Congratulations to Neil MacIsaac, winner of the 2015 JHM Humour Writing Award for his article "What Happened Next Will Shock You".*** (We guess you could say we’re pretty damn proud) 7



infestation of

Manic Pixies JENNA BORISEVICH CONTRIBUTOR When Kirsten Dunst’s whimsical joie-de-vivre spurred Nathan Rabin to coin the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” trope in his 2007 review of the film Elizabethtown, the internet rejoiced. Finally, there was a term that perfectly embodied those quirky, idiosyncratic women-fairies who, according to Nathan, “exist solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer/directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” Yes, the fanciful Manic Pixie Dream Girl endures entirely for the purpose of titillating and inspiring her young geek boy protagonist. She waltzes into his life, a ukulele strapped haphazardly to her back, and elevates his gloomy disposition with her vivacious nature and words of unique wisdom. Then she prances right on out, generally accompanied by a soulful yet uplifting indie track. What makes her extra special is her ability to accomplish all of this without actually revealing anything significant about herself. This is because the MPDG is not allowed to have any kind of real interiority. The moment she does, she evolves into an authentic character and the magic is lost. Humans aren’t pixies after all; they’re just people. Since Rabin’s invention of the term, the mere mention of the MPDG trope is likely to elicit deep groans from enlightened audiences. For years, the stereotype has been analyzed to the point that its very definition has transformed into something as intangible as the inspiration for the trope itself. Any remotely eccentric or offbeat character is at risk of being shoved into the MPDG category. Ruby Sparks, for instance, is a film that seeks to deconstruct the MPDG trope. Written by Zoe Kazan, this film illustrates the danger of the male protagonist’s inability to wholly imagine Ruby’s complexity as a character, thereby unraveling the patriarchal undertones of the Manic Pixie persona. Despite its intentional dissection of the infamous trope, Kazan’s portrayal of Ruby is frequently lumped together with other MPDGs rather than acknowledged as a parody of the cliché. When questioned about her character’s MPDG status in an interview, Kazan asserted, “I think it’s basically misogynist… I don’t like that term… I think it’s turned into this unstoppable monster where people use it to describe things that don’t really fall under that rubric.” Even Rabin himself has started to renounce his own creation. Seven years after coining the term, he apologized for having named the inescapable pop-culture cliché: “I feel deeply weird, if not downright ashamed, at having created a cliché that has been trotted out again and again in an infinite Internet feedback loop.” Despite recurring analysis and criticism of the sexist stereotype , this superficial and underdeveloped female character trope continues to materialize in various facets of pop culture. Laurie Penny calls attention to the pitfalls of the trope in her essay, “I was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl,” where she demonstrates the tendency of female archetypes to appear in real life. “Fiction creates real life,” she explains, “particularly for those of us who grew up immersed in it.” She criticizes the trope for encouraging women to resign themselves to a secondary role in their own lives. While men are raised expecting to be the hero of their own story, women grow up “expecting to be the supporting actress in somebody else’s.” Her statements ring true with young girls who are led to believe, for approximately 90 minutes at


Manic Pixies are pitiful creatures. When they’re not advocating for the transformative brilliance of The Shins, they’re probably hassling their respective writer/directors with silly requests for multi-dimensional character development.


a time, that their greatest achievement in life is to save a man’s injured soul. With all the preoccupation over the MPDG, it is only natural to wonder about the potential existence of a male counterpart to the trope. After all, if there were a prominent Manic Pixie Dream Boy in pop-culture, the MPDG would no longer be a sexist issue, but rather a problem pertaining to lazy character development. In her article “Is there a Male Equivalent to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl?,” Elisabeth Rappe attempts to establish the “Affable Dork” as the Manic Pixie’s male counterpart. According to Rappe, the Affable Dork is a smart, albeit average-looking guy with a shaky source of income and an affinity for pop-culture. Contrasting the Manic Pixie, the Affable Dork exists to bring a girl back down to reality. Usually played by Michael Cera or Seth Rogen, the Affable Dork waits patiently in the wings for his heroine to reciprocate his feelings and realize that “her dreams of a man with a job, an adult wardrobe, and a more tenuous grasp of pop culture were silly teenage things.” Rappe uses Katherine Heigl’s character in Knocked Up, Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Drew Barrymore “all the damn time” as examples to illustrate her point. While this is a genuinely recurring trope in pop-culture, the Affable Dork is not an exact counterpart to the MPDG; he lacks her whimsical, magical quality. Instead of taking the heroine on a life-changing adventure, the Affable Dork teaches his lady how to be “chill” and encourages her to settle for him because he is accepting of her quirks and nuances. Sonia Saraiya and Gabrielle Moss appear to have a closer grasp of the Manic Pixie Dream Boy in their article “Whither the Manic Pixie Dream Guy?” Saraiya and Moss describe a handsome man with “tousled hair and an aversion to commitment” who vanishes like smoke after a fleeting and emotional relationship. Saraiya and Moss capture the essence of a man who is cultured, world-weary, and handsome without knowing it. He is a man who rejects materialism and displays a deep appreciation for nature and philosophy. He has the ability to uproot the heroine from her mundane routine and teach her how to truly live, all within the mere span of several days. He asks for nothing in return, and when he leaves the heroine is filled with a sense of spiritual wholeness and a newfound appreciation for human nature, art, and all the little things she failed to notice before. Like Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty, he is a man that burns, burns, burns, like “fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” But where exactly is this whimsical male vagabond on the big screen? Where are these Manic Pixie Dream Boys who exist with the sole purpose of inspiring their female protagonist sans hidden agenda? More often than not, a man on the big screen with this kind of characterization is either granted interiority that allows him to surpass the trope, or he’s a fraud—a pseudointellectual Kerouac wannabe determined to spend his years in a blur of frenzied relationships with witty women who satisfy his artistic desires and hero complexes. Unlike the MPDG, these men have an ego and an agenda that requires attention. If he isn’t a multi-dimensional character or a fraud, the unconventional male might self-destruct as a result of his own free-spiritedness. He might burn out and wilt, while the Manic Pixie’s waif-like qualities are never-ending. Manic Pixies don’t get the luxury of egos or hidden agendas. Their passions don’t take precedence, because they can’t. They aren’t allowed to love anything more than their partners, because that would render them useless. Who caresses the broken dreams of the Manic Pixie and brings her to life? The Manic Pixie needs to dwindle her way out of pop-culture. Zooey Deschanel should never again appear on a brooding young man’s doorstep looking for adventure. Besides, wouldn’t an abundance of strong, multi-dimensional female characters be refreshing in the world of cinema? Romanticizing fragmented, shallow characters benefits no one.




MASON JAR LUNCHES BRONWYN NISBET-GRAY ASSOCIATE COPY EDITOR containers in my apartment, and I was determined not to buy things. So I reused some Classico bottles, eventually collected a few more jars, and now I have a full-blown collection. The thing is that Mason jars are incredibly useful, especially for students. Mason jars are both environmentally friendly and very cheap. Because of their skinny-tall shape, Mason jars fit nicely in backpacks and are easy

to hold. They are particularly handy for carrying salads, because you can layer ingredients and prevent the salad dressing from making the lettuce soggy (one of my alltime biggest salad pet peeves). Most importantly (at least in my mind), Mason jars just make food look beautiful. I’m more likely to eat salad if it looks Instagram-able and organized. Call me crazy, but it’s the little things.




This recipe is easy to throw together, though you need cook certain parts of the recipe ahead of time. I love using Israeli couscous (a type of toasted pasta which can be found in most grocery stores) in lieu of starches like rice or potato. This recipe can be made ahead of time and put in ready-to-grab jars for later in the week. 2 boneless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes 2 teaspoons dried sage ½ teaspoon cumin powder ½ teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped 1 clove of garlic, crushed A sprinkling of lemon zest 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons water 1 bell pepper, sliced 1 cup cherry tomatoes, whole 1 cup Israeli couscous, dried

I make this salad, or some variation of it, almost every day when I’m going to class or work. I believe that layering does make a difference in taste, so I arrange my salads with the crunchiest ingredients at the bottom and the softer ingredients at the top. Although I prefer making my own salad dressing, it’s completely fine to use store-bought dressing. 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar A pinch of black pepper, paprika, and dried basil to taste 1 stalk celery, washed 4-5 radishes, washed 1/3 of an English Cucumber, washed 1/4 of a bell pepper, washed A handful of baby carrots, washed A handful of cherry tomatoes, washed 4 lettuce leaves (any variety), washed

As much as I like hot tea when I’m sick, sometimes I get tired of warm liquid or that weird lukewarm temperature most hot tea inevitably ends up becoming. This cold tea is delicious and has lots of good-for-you ingredients, plus the clear jar makes it easy to track how much fluid you’re getting throughout the day. If you prefer loose-leaf tea, add the peppermint tea, green tea, and ginger pieces to the same tea filter to make clean-up easier. 1 peppermint tea bag, or equivalent of loose-leaf tea 1 green tea bag, or equivalent of loose-leaf tea 2 slices of lemon 1 1-inch piece of ginger, cut into rounds 1 tablespoon honey

1. Combine the sage, cumin, paprika, ginger, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and water in a small bowl. Stir to create a paste; set aside. 2. Heat skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat. Add chicken and cook on medium-high. 3. When chicken is cooked, add the lemon herb mixture, coat the chicken, and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes until the chicken pieces are browned. Move chicken to a bowl to cool. 4. Add peppers to hot skillet and cook until softened, about ten minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. 5. Prepare couscous according to box directions, then rinse with cold water to remove excess starch. 6. To serve: layer the three components in a Mason jar with chicken on the bottom, vegetables in the middle, and couscous on top.

1. Pour the olive oil, vinegar, and spices into the bottom of the jar. 2. Slice the celery, radish, cucumber, pepper, and carrot into half-centimetre pieces. 3. Layer the sliced vegetables. Order is not important, but it is better to put larger pieces, such as the celery, on the bottom. My go-to order is: celery, radish, cucumber, carrot, pepper. 4. Place the cherry tomatoes on top. 5. Shred lettuce into smaller pieces (about the length of your thumb); place lettuce at the very top of the Mason jar. To serve, ensure lid is closed tightly and shake contents of jar. Enjoy!


I love Mason jars. Because of this love, I’ve been called a dirty hipster, a basic bitch, a vegan, pretentious, environmentally conscientious, and a genius. While I will not confirm or deny any of these labels, I will admit that I used to scorn the people I would see drinking cold brew coffee out of glass bottles or carrying crudité in a jam jar. If I’m being completely honest, I first started to use Mason jars for food out of sloth. I was lazy, I had no food


1. Add all ingredients to a large Mason jar. 2. Pour boiling water over all ingredients; place lid on jar. 3. Carefully move jar to a fridge with oven mitts or a cloth to protect your hands from possible burns. 4. Let tea steep for a few hours or overnight. Ensure the tea is chilled before drinking. Enjoy! You can remove the tea and lemon or keep in the jar while drinking.

TORONTO’S PERFORMANCE SPACES GABRIEL ZOLTAN-JOHAN CONTRIBUTOR When people think of the open mic scene in Toronto, they normally think of the larger events hosted by venues like Free Times Café or Supermarket. However, these events lack intimacy as a result of their larger turnouts. Local performer Joshua Middleton is attempting to bring back that intimacy with his “Finer Blend of Soul” open mic nights at the Aroma Espresso Bar at Bathurst and Bloor. The event is bi-weekly, with the next one slated for February 3 at 7 PM. Below is a transcribed interview with Joshua.

The Strand: Tell me about yourself. Joshua Middleton: My name is Joshua Middleton, and I was [a] graduate of Etobicoke School for the Arts. I received my training in musical theatre. When we had shows I was always performing, whether it be a lead role or an ensemble. I was definitely born to perform. However, I’ve been more interested in the behind-the-scenes element of a performance, and so I began to manage and host/direct my own shows. I started a series of poetry nights at Aroma in January and it has truly been a success for me, as it is promoting both the artist and the business—Aroma. I live to work and collaborate with artists, which is one of my reasons for doing these kinds of events. TS: Tell me about the event. JM: The event is simply to connect poets and other artists along the spectrum [and] to create another space in the Annex for performance. It is not just a café anymore, but a scene; not brand new, but not old and dull… it’s a place where anything goes and no predisposed expectations are made. TS: You touched on motivations a bit earlier. What else prompted the creation of this event, and the motivation to host? JM: I started hosting these shows as a way of allowing me as a performer to take a step back and focus on giving other artists the same opportunity. Hosting is not an easy job, though. It takes a lot of patience and forgiveness, espe-

cially when you have three performers drop out two days before the show and you have to do last-minute calls, texts, and Facebook messages to performers who can fill their spots. In essence, hosting an arts show is exciting because you never know what the artist will bring to the stage, and watching someone else’s moment is like watching a child take their first steps. TS: What do you think is lacking in Toronto’s open mic scene? JM: Two things: a performer’s stage presence and venues. Usually at open mics what people are most comfortable with are who they were two seconds before they reach for the mic. It’s hard as both a performer and an audience member to sit in and watch a person performing at an open mic, who thinks they are spectacular once they hit the stage, but on average it’s mostly people who have never performed in front of an audience before, so them removing themselves from their comfort zone two seconds before they hit the stage is a hit-or-miss for most people. The open mic scene in Toronto is sparse, meaning that there are venues all around, but who attends those places, be it the performer or the audience member, can be tricky for promoters to have people attend. Open mics are favourable to artists who haven’t had the performance experience when they were growing up, so instead they flock to open mic events to sharpen their edge. TS: Any final remarks to draw people over to the event? JM: There’s definitely a power with performance that no one can trump, and when there are more places where voices can be heard, especially new voices illuminating places in Toronto that are otherwise unseen by one’s eye, you get a sense of the zeitgeist of the place we inhabit. Toronto has a soul that is being driven off-course. Finally, Toronto needs open mics, and it needs more performance venues and safe spaces, free spaces where friends, fans, and artists can meet and hear what it means to live in such a remarkably colourful place.

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR CLARRIE FEINSTEIN CONTRIBUTOR After seeing many shows at Uof T, there seems to be a way to categorize the productions that are showcased within Uof T’s large drama community. Some feel like professional productions, while others expectantly feel like student theatre. Jesus Christ Superstar, which opened in Hart House on January 15, fell in between these points on the Uof T show spectrum. The show focuses on the last days of Jesus’ life. Relationships are explored: the strong bond between Jesus and his followers, the tension between the authorities of Rome and Jesus’ growing popular following, the romantic connection of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, and lastly the central conflict between Judas Iscariot and Jesus. This final relationship is pivotal to the story line, as Judas betrays Jesus to the authorities, ultimately leading to his crucifixion. Director Luke Brown decided to put a twist on the classic biblical tale. He changed the setting to modern day, specifically during the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011. The obvious parallels between both settings emphasize the overarching thematic plot points. Jesus and his apostles, like the Occupy protestors, were calling for a change to the political system. The Occupy movement deteriorated due to capitalist dominance, and Jesus fell due to the Roman authorities’ fear of his divine persona. The comparison between the time settings is compelling but it did not translate smoothly to the stage. Luke Brown’s question, “Would Jesus and his followers have looked any different from these kids in the park?” is a noteworthy argument. It shows how Jesus’ story transcends history—there will always be activists fighting for a better, fairer world. However,

could we not put Jesus in the role of Gandhi or Martin Luther King? Well, sure, but that would seem a bit ridiculous. Placing this story in the Occupy movement is no different. The complex subplots of the musical were completely lost in the adaption. The specific purpose of certain characters, like King Herod or Pilate, was unclear. Jesus’ song about the Last Supper and Pilate’s song about dreaming of Jesus seemed muddled. The clear purpose of these songs became unclear in the modern day setting, as they had less relevance to the contemporary context. The highlight of the musical was the music. Headed by strong musical directors Anthony Bastianon and Giustin MacLean, the rock guitar riffs and funk base guitar lines reminded the audience of the genius of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s nuanced and experimental score. This show is a challenging musical theatre performance, especially for the male leads, Jesus and Judas. Jesus, played by David Michael Moote, and Judas, played by Aaron Williams, sang the arduous songs with power and charisma, giving all they could offer to their roles. Claire Hunter’s performance as Mary provided the character with an inner strength and a beautiful voice to guide Jesus through the tumultuous period. The professionalism of the music, lighting, stage production, and acting make this a show worth seeing. At the heart of this musical is the depiction of Jesus, an ordinary man trying to carry out good deeds. I guess the Occupy protestors were just the same, making Jesus not that special at all. Maybe that’s the point the director is trying to emphasize—you’ll have to see the show to decide for yourself.


FIFTY FIRST DATES For: Urban Sustainability Fans Neigbourhood: Evergreen Brickworks Total Cost: $10/person ($5 for skate rentals; $5 for snacks/hot chocolate)

After hiding out from the cold last week, I decided to embrace the Canadian winter for this week’s date. There’s no question that skating is the most romantic winter activity: outdoor skating rinks are in beautiful locations, and you have an excuse to hold the other person’s hand or maybe cuddle up for warmth on the rink. Most people usually head for the rinks at Harbourfront and Nathan Phillips Square, but I’ve wanted to try out the one at Evergreen Brick Works (550 Bayview Ave.—there’s a free shuttle bus from Broadview subway station) ever since I heard about it over the summer. Evergreen Brick Works is housed in the buildings and surrounding Don Valley land that were once owned by a Toronto brick factory. The expropriated land was then developed in the early 90s by Evergreen, an organization focused on promoting urban sustainability. In addition to housing a variety of vendors and organizations that support the call for greener cities, the architectural remnants of its brick-making days are now used to display art. The beauty of the surrounding greenery is highlighted through a variety of beautiful ponds and walking trails. The great thing about bringing a date to a place like Evergreen Brick Works is that there is so much to see and do in one location and, according to my single friend/date-for-the-day, Ruta, there’s something romantic about a date giving you a tour of a special place like Evergreen. In contrast to its grandiose surroundings, the Evergreen rink is a small, simple affair. The rink is situated inside their open-roof event space, broken intermittently by cute little islands of green space. The music selection includes mostly classic pop and jazz standards. Skate and helmet rentals are also available. Unfortunately, this is not a rink for beginners who have not skated for 14 years. My friend, who has much more experience than I do, told me that the ice isn’t very smooth (a friendly regular later told us that the best time to go was 1 PM). There are no walls or any supports except for two columns. We both agreed that you should probably not go to a rink on the weekend if you can’t skate. There was no one on the rink at the time, and I still could only make it once around. I guess clinging to my friend’s hand for dear life could be seen as romantic, but it became decidedly less so after I fell on my butt and promptly brought her down with me. Eventually my calves hurt so much that I asked her to skate alone. While there are plenty of beautiful places to have a picnic at Evergreen, there aren’t as many options to get cheap grub. The onsite restaurant, Café Belong, while boasting a menu of locally sourced ingredients, is a bit pricey for a student budget. We opted to grab some snacks at their Garden Market—I tried some delicious Szechuan peppercorn chips, while my friend munched on gluten-free cookies. A fantastic option is to go on a Saturday and attend the Winter Farmer’s Market. Evergreen continues their famous farmer’s market indoors over the winter months, and you can often find a variety of delicious, healthy, locally prepared food there. Ruta’s Verdict: It’s such a vibrant place where you can find a lot to talk about, and the skating, especially with someone who can’t skate, can bring about a lot of laughter and break the ice.






“Enigma” : A noun meaning something or someone that is difficult to understand or explain. This was the name of the supposedly unbreakable Second World War rotor cipher machine used for encr ypting and decoding German militar y communications. Mor ten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game explores the life and work of Alan Turing, the British mathematician who clandestinely spearheaded the breaking of Enigma, which went on to greatly impact the fate of the Allied war effor t. Often unconsidered, intelligence comes with its own set of complexities, shor tfalls, and costs. A key principle of intelligence stipulates that while information can help turn the tide of a battle or provide a tactical advantage, ultimately the success (or failure) of an operation lies with the individuals who must carr y it out. In addition, advances in intelligence gathering may often be limited by big picture considerations. This is demonstrated throughout the film: to avoid being exposed to the enemy, Turing and his crew painstakingly work to hide their successes while weighing the costs of action and inaction based on their deciphered findings. The psychological toll of secrecy and deceit presses heavily on Turing and his colleagues. The characters tr y to lead normal lives but are plagued by the knowledge that

their countr y is depending on their effor ts to deliver an advantage that will lead the Allies to victor y. After being shown scenes of war and griefstricken civilians by the film’s marketing campaign, it is natural to think that The Imitation Game would be yet another action-centric war drama. Instead, the film focuses on developments in Turing’s life and the behind-the-scenes, office-based world of intelligence operations during the war. To remind viewers of the chronological passage of time as the code-breakers race to break Enigma, scenes of despair, bombing, and naval war fare are offered in snippets at various points in the film. This method of narration seeks to focus the viewer’s attention on the intelligence realm of war fare, a domain often disregarded due to its secrecy, while not completely eliminating the devastating effects of combat and destruction from the narrative. Director Mor ten Tyldum described the film as having many layers that allow individual issues within Turing’s life to be examined upon unpacking. One of these was Turing’s sexualit y. Turing was gay when homosexualit y was illegal in Britain; he was tried and charged for “gross indecency” in 1952. Faced with a choice of imprisonment or chemical castration, Turing chose the latter so he could continue his life’s work

in mathematics, albeit with health complications and eventual dismissal from both academic and professional circles. In 2013, nearly 60 years after his suicide, Turing was royally pardoned. One cannot help but lament that Turing was likely pardoned because the conviction tarnished his contributions to his countr y, academia, and computing. In realit y, Turing suffered at the hands of a crazed bureaucracy which persecuted him and tens of thousands, many of whom received no apology for the way they were treated, despite having done nothing wrong. In more ways than one, Turing remains an enigma himself. It was widely known that he was brilliant, but rather eccentric. This film makes headway into revealing a legacy that until now has been clouded, under valued, and inadequately understood. Hopefully the film will act as the long-overdue catalyst for revisiting, rewriting, and re-teaching how we, as a societ y, value Turing’s legacy and his place in histor y. Turing was many things: a mathematician, the father of modern computing, a distance runner, a friend, a colleague, and a cr yptanalyst. One thing he cer tainly should not be: forgotten.

ADVENTURE NARRATIVES: WILD GENEVIEVE WAKUTZ ASSOCIATE PHOTO EDITOR You can’t go into the wilderness to discover yourself and be one with nature if you ignore the inherent risks that are involved. In addition to physical danger, the psychological trauma of being hungry, thirsty, and utterly alone in the event of an accident is extremely intimidating. Jean-Marc Vallée’s Wild and Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours go beyond adventure-travel stories to showcase the real problems and challenges that outdoorspeople can face out in the wilderness. Preparation is essential to safe, unaccompanied travel. In Wild, Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed, a woman who faces many obstacles while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Strayed’s challenges start with not knowing how to assemble her tent, having the wrong gear, and catching the unwanted attention of a hunter. Through Strayed’s lack of proper preparation, Wild demonstrates the physical dangers of travelling alone. Another extreme example of this kind of human-versusnature danger story is 127 Hours, in which Aron Ralston (James Franco) becomes stuck in a canyon with his hand smashed under a boulder. Without adequate water, food, or gear, he decides to cut off his arm to save his life. Both Wild and 127 Hours are based on memoirs and underscore the real-world consequences of solitary misadventure. 127 Hours deals solely with the physical challenges of nature, while Wild also portrays challenges specific to women by introducing threatening encounters with fellow hikers that cause Strayed to question her safety. Strayed narrowly escapes being raped by a hunter and realizes that, had she not escaped, she would have been unable to defend herself. Later, in an uncomfortable experience with


a farmer, she pretends she’s hiking with her husband as a tactic to prevent any sexual advances. Wild implies that the real dangers faced by Strayed are not her experiences in the wild, but the people who inhabit it. This contrasts with the kind of unexpected, unknowable, romanticized dangers faced by Ralston in 127 Hours. Though men can also be vulnerable to harassment and sexual assault, Strayed struggles against dangers that doubtless resonate immediately with many women, regardless of their experiences in the wilderness. Although the general treatment of women has improved significantly over the past century, women are still targeted by sexual predators. The stereotype that women are weaker than men influences the idea of a woman being at greater risk. While Vallée situates Wild within the larger adventure film genre, Wild differs from films like 127 Hours, because it subverts the journey most people take within such films. Characters like Ralston typically seek nature as a way of reasserting physical and mental strength and inadvertently experience and overcome challenges exterior to the self. Strayed, on the other hand, decides to go into the wild to address personal problems—grief, addiction, and guilt— and ultimately discovers that she possesses strength in many areas of her life. Wild provides a subtler and ultimately more compelling account of self-discovery that is not predicated on ideals of manliness and virility, but on Strayed’s ability to surpass the expectations of the people in her life and the expectations she has for herself. Throughout Wild, other characters emphasize Strayed’s courage, yet she doesn’t seem to recognize it in herself. Strayed identifies as a feminist, and this distinction

plays into her approach to the wild and the storytelling of the film. Instead of presenting a linear plot that focuses simply on overcoming nature with little introspection, the film uses non-linear narration to explore the underlying issues in Strayed’s life and provide a basis for her courage and perseverance. The film’s narrative goal is not to simply provide an adventure for the viewer, but to explain why that adventure was necessary. Effectively, the film’s construction allows Strayed to avoid being a shallow trope hero. Instead, it presents a hero with complex motivation and challenges to overcome, both on her journey and within herself. Physical fatigue and the challenges of hiking are represented in 127 Hours. However, Ralston never has to worry about threatening travellers, only environmental risks such as becoming injured or trapped. Travelling as a woman is depicted in Wild as difficult and risky, yet also as a possible transformative experience. Whether you are male or female, the real issue is travelling alone, and these movies only scrape the surface of the underlying risks. Danger can exist everywhere, no matter your individual circumstances. While 127 Hours emphasizes the exteriority of the wild and the innate desire to achieve strength, Wild explores how the mind can be just as dangerous, just as violent and destructive, as anything found in nature. Travelling alone can build independence and perseverance. Travelling in a group, however, guarantees some level of assistance. These movies seem to suggest that it’s best to consider venturing off into the wild to discover oneself with a companion.


RACE, GENDER, AND PRIVILEGE AT THE OSCARS EMILY DYER CONTRIBUTOR The Oscars has been the biggest and most prestigious awards ceremony in film for most of the past 87 years. The awards are supposed to recognize the best in filmmaking, and for many years, they did. There were always contested winners and major snubs, and there were always actresses, actors, and directors who were Oscar favourites, but generally, the movies that were nominated for and received Oscars were those that most deser ved it. However, in the past couple of decades, the Academy Awards have been becoming in-creasingly irrelevant. A major reason for this is the lack of diversit y in the nominees. This year, all of the 20 nominees in the acting categories are white. All of the directing and writing nomi-nees are men, most of whom are also white—all except Alejandro González Iñárritu, who is Mexican; he was nominated as both Best Director and Best Writer for Birdman. All of the composers and cinematographers nominated are also men. Ever y Best Picture-nominated mov-ie is a man’s stor y and, with the exception of Selma, they are all about white men. Sadly, these films are ver y much representative of the members of the Academy. According to an LA Times sur vey of the Academy Awards voters, 77% are male, 94% are white, and the average age is 63. Overall, about 72% of the American population is white, and 51% is female. The median age is 37. The Academy is unrepresenta-

tive of the demographics of the American population, which is cer tainly exemplified by this year’s nominees. Of course, earlier in Academy histor y, this makeup would have ref lected the people who were involved in mainstream filmmaking. Fift y years ago, essentially all films were directed and produced by white men. Almost all of the actors present in Holly wood films were white. There were, of course, some exceptions to this, but not many. The situation is better now. According to the organization “Women Make Movies,” about 16% of directors, executive producers, producers, screenwriters, cinematographers, and editors are women. This is a small number, but it is clearly not insignificant. In the latest data available (from 2011), minorit y groups held 10.5% of the lead roles in films. Again, a small but not insignificant number. Somehow, the work these people are doing is not being recognized, at least not by the Academy. The most cited snub this year is the film Selma. Though it was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Song, it was not nominated in any other categor y. David Oyelowo was not nominated for his por trayal of Mar tin Luther King Jr. despite over whelmingly positive reviews from critics and nominations for many other awards, including the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. The di-

rector, Ava DuVernay, was not nomi-nated either, despite similar reviews and nominations. Moving away from this movie, black British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s per formances in Belle and Beyond the Lights re-ceived a combined 18 nominations for critics’ awards and, again, over whelmingly positive re-views. But what about past winners such as 12 Years a Slave for Best Picture, Lupita Nyong’o for Best Suppor ting Actress, and Kathr yn Bigelow for Best Director? They are often cit-ed as examples of progress in the Academy. However, using examples such as these just tokenizes the groups represented. Lupita Nyong’o’s victor y was celebrated as a victor y for all black women and Kathr yn Bigelow’s as a victor y for all female directors. Current Academy President Cher yl Boone Isaacs, who is a black woman, has said multiple times that she is working to increase diversit y in the Academy, but so far she does not seem to have made much of an impact. Twice as many actors have been added in the two years she has been president than were added in the two years previous, but the composition of the Academy remains essentially the same. It is clear that the Oscars’ problem will not be fixed any time soon. The only really feasible option is to stop setting so much score by the Oscars and to recognize how unrepresentative they are. Or, as Spike Lee said in reaction to the snub of Ava DuVernay, “You know what? Fuck ‘em.”




















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In perhaps the most controversial move in the histor y of film, The Academy of Motion Picture Ar ts and Sciences has decided to nominate Mer yl Streep in ever y award categor y for the 87th annual Academy Awards. A member of the Academy, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “The idea came about after we’d put Streep’s name down for Best Actress in a Leading Role, only to realize that she hadn’t, in fact, starred in any movies this year. It had sor t of become second nature for us to nominate Streep no matter what roles she’d had. We put her down for Best Suppor ting for her role as the witch in Into the Woods, and we’d originally planned to leave it at that, but it just didn’t sit right with any of us. I mean, she holds the record for most nominations. To only have her name on the ballot for one suppor ting role—it just didn’t feel right.” Streep does indeed hold the record for the most Academy Award nominations of any actor, with a grand total of 19—15 for Best Actress and four for

Best Suppor ting Actress. She has been nominated seven more times than Katherine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson, who are tied in second-place with 12 nominations each, and has won a total of 151 different awards throughout her career. In fact, Streep has an entire Wikipedia page dedicated solely to her awards. “The idea is this,” our source continues. “Although Mer yl Streep doesn’t technically qualify for ever y award, she’s such a dedicated, versatile ar tist that no one would be surprised to see her name in any one of the categories. So we’re asking those casting their ballots to just imagine what she would have been like had she qualified for the role. You see? For example, Mer yl Streep isn’t technically a shor t documentar y, but if she were, how good would she be at it? How would she compare to all the other contenders in that categor y?” Upon hearing the news, Streep was shocked. “I’ve known for a while that I’m a bit of a running joke within the Academy, but this is taking it to an-

other level. Do I think it was a good decision? Well... yes, of course I do. Ever yone knows I would win any categor y I qualified for—is it really necessar y for me to go to the trouble of actually qualifying at this point? No, not really.” While Streep and the majority of the Academy have no qualms about this contentious decision, not ever yone feels the same way. Multiple petitions have already sprung up online citing the Academy’s choice as “outrageous,” “a mocker y,” and “just really, really unfair.” Although Stranded approached a host of actors for comments, it was perhaps Leonardo DiCaprio who best summed up the public dissent against the Academy by simply sobbing into the other end of the phone, pausing only to wipe his eyes with the distinctive crinkling of a $100 bill. The nominations are official, but only time will tell if Streep really is wor thy of being considered for ever y categor y. The most controversial Academy Awards to date will air Februar y 22 from the Dolby Theatre in Holly wood, Los Angeles.


Parents, are you tired of having to read through entire pages of your daughter’s diary just to figure out what’s going on in her life? Is your son getting a little too big for that ankle monitor? Do you feel old and irrelevant? I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. With cellphones, telegrams, and countless other technologies out there nowadays, it’s easy to be confused about what’s current. We’ve compiled a list of some of the acronyms today’s youth are using from sources such as Margaret Wente and the next-door-neighbour’s dog! Next time you’re scanning through your child’s cellular device for necrophilia, look out for these acronyms:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

TFCFFCJ – Take The Fucking Cookie From The Fucking Cookie Jar Code666 – Underworld emergency; Satan calling Stink60! – One time I didn’t do laundry for two months FCACC – Fuck Capitalism and Consumerist Culture FCFD – Fuck Christmas Family Dinner SLS – Shrek Is Love, Shrek Is Life BRBBMB – Be Right Back, Burning My Bra IDKIIEWHC – I Don’t Know If I Ever Wanna Have Children IAC – I Am Communist INCG – I Never Call my Grandma AHS – All Hail Satan #dead – I am a ghost


Know any other acronyms parents should know about? Shoot me a smoke signal @theyear150BCE.

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Profile for The Strand

Vol. 57 Issue 8  

Vol. 57 Issue 8