Is Cancel Culture the Way to Solve Social Issues?
By Benjamin Noel
After its emergence into the collective global ethos in 2017, cancel culture has taken in its path the likes of R Kelly, Jussie Smollett, and more recently, the TV show Cops. As I understand it, public figures are canceled as a result of them failing to uphold the social contract. This includes saying or doing things offensive typically to minority groups, such as wearing blackface, making derrogitory comments towards the LGBTQ community, or being linked to certain distasteful organizations.
As humans we have a few unchanging, deep rooted morals. It is wrong to kill, it is wrong to enslave another human, it is wrong to steal. But people are not canceled for these things. For these crimes, they are sentenced to prison or fined. In these cases, as our moral codes line up with our laws.
But what about moral responsibilities that cannot be formed into law? Being kind to one another, being understanding of other’s pain and hardship, and helping your fellow man. No law can enforce these societal rules. And no law should. It is up to us, as human beings, to keep each other accountable for their mistakes.
We do this naturally, when a friend or family member says something offensive, we’ll take them aside and say, “hey, that wasn’t a nice thing to say,” and explain why their words were hurtful. We understand that people make mistakes, sometimes out of ignorance, so taking a moment to explain the gravity of their words is the best way to prevent them from making that mistake again. However, in the age of the internet, where everyone can hide behind a screen name, and anonymously post and comment, this human sentiment is lost. Because the experience of typing a comment is so impersonal, we forget we are talking to, or about another living, breathing, loving human being. We attack instead of inform, and we cancel instead of educate.
Since the beginning of shelter in place, the online community leaned on trends as a way to stay connected. The most notable in the beginning was the fervor around the game Animal Crossing, a game in which players can visit other players’ islands. But within a few weeks, the game disappeared from social media feeds, as a video of a police officer kneeling on the neck of a black man populated social media platforms. Within hours, outrage swept across the nation, and protests were organized, petitions were passed around, and bottled up rage was let loose. The uniting factor was the call to abolish the police, to cancel the police.
And the sentiment is understood. I watched scenes of the protests, and nearly every time, the escalation to violence was started by the police firing off rubber bullets, or tear gas into the crowd. In my hometown of San Jose, officer Jared Yuen was seen cursing out protesters, posturing like a battle ready GI, barrel aimed at the crowd. In Philadelphia, protesters were rounded up like cattle, trapped up on an embankment next to the freeway, and bombarded with tear gas.
Scenes like these make it impossible to cheer for the men in blue. Their actions are those of instigators, not protectors. But let’s take a step back at the approach protestors are taking. People are crying out for abolishing the police, they’re toting violent slogans such as “1312” - in reference to the letters A C A B, which stands for “All Cops Are B*stards,” and another, “the only good cop, is a dead cop”.
How will these chants affect the police force 10 years from now? Well, all the kids keeping up with the news will see the public's disdain for the police. They will hear stories of injustice and hatred, the media painting all police officers as the destroyers of their communities instead of protectors. After seeing the hatred towards police, the little kids who dreamed of pinning on the star to their chest, will drop that dream to maybe fight fires, or become a paramedic. Certainly noble dreams nonetheless. However, who would still dream of becoming a police officer after seeing what officers get away with? Only one type of person. The bad man. Those prone to anger and violence, those with a vendetta against certain groups within their community, those with a will to kill. If we cancel police, and label them as a force of evil, no good kid will ever put himself through the police academy. The bad one will.
The power of the collective mob is not one to be taken lightly. Our approach of harsh words to those whose actions do not align with our morals will seriously stunt any positive change we try to fight for. In this age of hyper connectivity, rumors can spread, ideas can snowball, and calling out a person or an organization for breaching an ethical code can quickly turn into a campaign to blow them off the face of the earth. We need to realize that reacting to negative behavior with negative words will slowly eat away at our ability to teach, and love one another. Our minor differences will mean more than what we hold in common. And our society will splinter.
With the same time and patience we give to address our family member’s slip ups, so should we to others. The ultimate goal is to grow into a more loving society, so let’s take the time to nurture the love in others, with the love in ourselves. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
So let’s be the teachers of love, not the prison wardens of evil.
By George Donovan
The wait is over; the biggest movie trailer of our time is finally here!
(Courtesy of Warner Bros) https://www.dunemovie.com/assets/img/gallery/07.jpg
In December of 1984, Dune would see its first ever movie adaptation reach theaters, with a movie directed by David Lynch. Although it was released without Lynch’s say on the final cut to great derision and confusion (to help audiences, the movie came with glossaries printed out on paper to review before the trailers finished and the film began), a number of fans, including those who grew up with the movie or have an eye for the production design, can make room in their heart for this project and the ways it differs from Lynch’s other films.
Another take on Dune, a miniseries from 2000, took advantage of its TV medium to firmly follow the novel’s story, but, with a miniseries budget, couldn’t match a constantly growing Hollywood standard of special effects. Denis’ new version of Dune is looking to combine both the rich imagery of the Lynch movie and the fulfilling story of the miniseries into an incredible blockbuster journey for this age.
At that time in November, your best bet for finding leaked set photos came from diving through old Instagram stories of the stars, where a brief glimpse of the Jordan deserts or special Dune crew shirts and jackets was just about the extent of things. As incredible as it would have been to see any Dune footage before the end of 2019, all that had been announced in those first months of 2020 was a few minutes of preview footage, which would be shown by Warner Bros. to guests at CinemaCon (and hopefully made public) on March 31st.
However, COVID-19 put an end to this event, and the idea of any footage coming to light was locked away. At least the unique title treatment of the movie had been revealed by the end of January. Simple and yet more clever than at first glance, that would make two movie logos with the same idea: Warner Bros.’ other major 2020 blockbuster, Tenet by Christopher Nolan, had its own logo flipped half upside down as well for a while! Would these two movies each take turns throwing the blockbuster world for a loop on their original release dates? This wouldn’t be the case, as the pandemic tore up movie schedules left and right.
Finally, our very first look at Dune arrived on April 13th, with a photo of Paul on his home planet of Caladan. It was fantastic seeing this first photo, and not only was it a very distinctly Denis shot, but it was definitely the style of Greig Fraser, the cinematographer behind “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, who had been hired to shoot Dune. The next day, a full article was published on Vanity Fair featuring a number of new photos introducing the characters and atmosphere.
With concept art being kept under wraps, I scoured every new story and tidbit I could find, such as the claims that Stellan Skarsgård’s take on the morbid Baron Harkonnen was utterly disgusting yet couldn’t be ignored, or the news of Denis spending an entire year designing the sandworm monsters to perfection. Most amazing to me was the news of Hans Zimmer turning down Nolan, his biggest collaborator, to score Dune, one of his favorite books from his teenage years!
As August began and Zendaya appeared in the new edition of InStyle, she mentioned that she had seen the Dune trailer, and, combined with a confirmation by Timothee that the trailer would arrive before September, the new trailer date was pinned down to August 12th. Dunemovie.com even appeared online in its premature form as an Amazon Linux AMI Test Page.
One day, the switch would be flipped, the site would be up and running, and we would all celebrate the trailer that changed everything… but August 12th wouldn’t be that day; it came and went without any trailer. But with Tenet finally coming to reopened movie theaters in different corners of the world, an incredible preview appeared before IMAX showings: a minute-and-a-half teaser trailer, our first footage, confirming a September 9th release date! An extra teaser was posted the morning before, confirming the trailer’s premiere on Twitter Movies at 9AM PST. Together, millions watched as a special behind-the-scenes interview with Stephen Colbert, a lifelong Dune fan, introduced all the main characters and their experiences making the film, before premiering the trailer live.
Though some people may have expected a trailer score revolving around Hans Zimmer’s new work, the three minute trailer’s cover of Eclipse by Pink Floyd was a smart tribute to Jodorowsky’s shot at Dune, while also bringing in a spirit audiences may have gotten used to over the past few years. And with plenty of hints at legendary sequences and rewarding shots for avid readers building towards the reveal of the sandworm, the trailer was a great success, reaching 20 million views on Youtube by Sunday night. Even if Dune is delayed to 2021, the roller coaster of a story behind this trailer will always be remembered by movie fans everywhere. I’m already looking forward to the next one.
By Benjamin Noel
Chadwick Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina, a city whose idea of tradition involves a pointy white hood. He grew up playing high school basketball, and was good enough to play college ball. But after one of his teammates was shot and killed, he funneled his emotions into writing his first play, Crossroads. The play ran at his school, and Boseman realized his passion for screenwriting, and dropped the basketball for a pen and paper. He applied to Howard, a prestigious historically African American university that saw the likes of Ossie Davis (Da Mayor), Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Sokeley Carmichael through its doors. There he studied directing under the tutelage of some of the finest African American actors in the business, namely Phylicia Rashad of The Cosby Show. To Rolling Stone, Rashad said of him, “What I saw in him was the sky was the limit. He never asked me to introduce him to anyone – that's not his way. He was going to make it on his own merits.”
After graduation, Boseman pursued further studies in acting, and settled down in Bed Stuy, New York and taught drama at the Schomburg Junior Scholars program in Harlem. He later moved to LA where he picked up minor roles in movies and TV programs, working towards, not waiting, for his big break.
Still relatively unknown at the time, Boseman was cast opposite Harrison Ford in his breakthrough role in the movie 42 as Jackie Robinson, a trailblazer whose life paralleled Boseman’s own. Boseman was born for this role, because he lived the struggles of being the only. The only black man on center stage, the only voice for his community, the only black hero for the kids to look up to. And he had the guts, as Ford says in the movie “the guts not to fight back” but to go on out there, and play ball.
And ball he played. Boseman picked up powerful roles as James Brown, Justice Thurgood, King T’challa, and stormin’ Norman, but he longed for more black and brown representation in Hollywood. He loved representing the black community in Hollywood, but why was it only him? Imagine Boseman’s reaction when people would say to him, “they’re going to pass the torch to you.” Why is there a torch to be passed? The black and brown members of Hollywood seem to be running a relay, handing off the spotlight every time a new cat comes into the scene. But Brando didn’t pass the torch to Pacino. Nor did Depp to DiCaprio. The individuals are all great actors of their own merit, with their own nuanced styles. So why should one black man have to pass on his legacy to the next, as if they were one and the same?
Boseman said to The Undefeated, “I don’t think that’s right, because it’s possible for there to be a Chris Pine, or a Chris Evans and Chris O’Donnell and a Chris Hemsworth and all the other Chrises, but it can only be one of us at a time? That is part of what’s wrong”
By representing African Americans on the silver screen, Boseman strived to make melanin a mainstay, not a sidekick, in the industry. He respected the gravity of his roles, and refused to portray African Americans as anything less than excellent. Even pre 42, when his career was young, he stood up against degrading lines or actions that lacked respect for black skin. He vehemently called out racist stereotypes in the All My Children script, which lost him that role. And he carried on his rock solid moral philosophy in his bigger appearances. In portraying King T’challa, the ruler of a prosperous African nation untouched by European colonizers, he refused to speak in a colonized anglicized accent for the convenience of the audience. Boseman pushed the studio for English to be spoken with an authentic African accent, but they were hesitant. If we can catch on to an Irish accent, why not an African one? In the movie, when speaking English, Wakandans have a Xhosa accent, a language spoken in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Boseman's unapologetic holistic portrayal of African culture shows that cultures need not be Westernized to be advanced, and that programs need not play into racist stereotypes to be funny.
In 2016's Gods of Egypt, Boseman played the role of the deity Thoth, providing the audience a fresh breath of African representation in the otherwise whitewashed collection of the Egyptian gods. He agreed with critics of the casting, saying that he took on the role to make sure at least one deity had African roots. But he told The Stone dryly, “But, yeah, people don't make $140 million movies starring black and brown people."
To the man who two years later made a $200 million dollar movie starring beautiful black and brown people, cheers.
Born in a hotbed of Klan activity, Boseman had more than his fair share of snarls, derogatory words, and evil eyes thrown his way. But he ate them up, and focused on his calling, on building up his fellow African American through film. This man went through the grinder, and came out the other side smiling ear to ear, as he lived his life to the fullest, sowed and reaped his talents, and laid down the foundations for the future of a community much bigger than himself.
While battling colon cancer privately for the past four years, Boseman did not take a break from portraying powerful black figures on the silver screen, but he sadly passed away due to complications on August 28th of this year, at the age of 43.
To Chadwick Boseman, the man who gave black kids their superhero, while quietly fighting the battle for his own life, Yibambe.
Why Mulan doesn't seem to be meeting viewers' expectations and how race factors in.
By Kylie Halmi
Disney has made great strides in recent years in the adaptation of the classics into live action films. Movies like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and many more coming soon to theaters. When Mulan was announced in 2015, Disney fans across the world became excited for cultural and ethnic representation that the media lacks. Although the project has taken a while to be released , Mulan finally hit our screens on September 4,2020 via Disney+. Even given the recent status of our world, unfortunately, the movie has not done as well as predicted. While that can be said about most media during COVID-19, people are beginning to wonder if that is the only reason this movie isn't having the same hype as expected.
In terms of reviews, Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie rating site, gives Mulan a 75% whereas viewer rating seems to average around 51%. Debbie Zhou, who writes for the Saturday Paper in Australia, writes that “Disney's transparent desire to capitalise on the Chinese market - with a faithfully unquestioning stance - explains the watered-down adaptation, which appeases more than it excites.”Likewise, Amy Amatangelo, a writer for Paste Magazine states,“While glorious to look at, the movie still feels slightly hollow. All the right pieces are there, but an emotional connection to the characters is lacking.” Many viewers attest this disconnection to the lack of diversity within the production of the movie.
While arguably the cast of the movie is full of diversity compared to most of Hollywood and media in general, the behind the scenes crew is disappointing. Movies that depict struggles within ethnicities cannot fully be accurately portrayed if the members of the crew haven't been through those struggles.
How can you accurately capture a feeling if you have never and will never experience it? This mystifying idea of diversity has been off putting for many but mostly for Gen Z, which is arguably the audience Disney was trying to captivate. A large majority of not only the directors, but all the crew involved identify as white. While this idea of diversity on screen is vital to Hollywood and media we have to also understand that representation cannot end there. Without the ideas and experiences of ethnicities producing and creating the on screen image how can the media begin to accurately portray the oppression and lifestyle of said ethnicity? Is that even a possibility?
With all that being said, Mulan and other films in recent years that seek to diversify media are still groundbreaking and important. Mulan is available to stream now and given that for many youth it is not only nostalgic but a big part of early cultural representation, I recommend giving it a watch. Just make sure before you accept this as a form of radical diversity, you as a viewer look more into the creation of such diversity and ask if it's enough.
By George Donovan
A desert crawls its way across the surface of an entire planet, drier and hotter than anything you’ve ever known. A mountain of a predator, a gargantuan worm, tunnels beneath the sand ready to emerge and devour entire spaceships in a single leap. There on the planet Arrakis, you are the world beyond dreams, the dreams of Dune, Frank Herbert’s seminal 1965 novel that, before Star Wars, made legends of cosmic dynasties and resource wars in the struggle between houses for Arrakis’ spice Melange.
Just as generations of other readers have been enthralled by the iconic saga, Denis Villeneuve, from the moment he first laid eyes on the book’s cover, knew Dune would stay in his future. In his perfect age to see himself in 15 year old protagonist Paul Atreides, a passion grew within him with time, and after directing 5 different celebrated films from 2013 to 2017, one of the single greatest decades any filmmaker has ever had, the announcement of a new Dune movie helmed by Villeneuve would be the project of a lifetime.
With a two-movie deal at Warner Bros. splitting the novel in half, just like their own take on Stephen King’s It, and a track record for the ages behind Villeneuve’s back, the message was clear: this would do for the 2020’s what Peter Jackson and his takes on J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of The Rings trilogy did for the 2000’s. Beginning in December of 2020 with Dune’s first movie release, this series would raise the bar to incredible new heights and then perform giants, revolving over and around for years to come, sweeping box office charts and going bowling at Awards season. The time had come for a blockbuster revolution.
This narrative and other thoughts pulsed through my head across Fall 2019, culminating in a Thanksgiving night to remember. Reflecting on where the project was in between forkfuls of banana cream pie, it seemed as though its future could only get brighter with each new bout of information. Star-studded didn’t even begin to describe the cast laid out: Timothée Chalamet as Paul, a character whose parents would be played by Oscar Isaac and Rebecca Ferguson in their respective roles as Duke Leto Atreides and Lady Jessica, would be acting alongside Jason Momoa and Josh Brolin within his House Atreides, bonding with their characters, Duncan Idaho and Gurney Halleck, alongside dozens of major stars across the different houses in the story.
Just as exciting and flavorful as the ensemble cast would have to be the audience this movie was looking to find. Here’s one heck of a built in fanbase: not just those who have revered the Herbert Dune novels, but also more general audiences drawn in by the once-in-a-generation pairing of Timothée’s Paul with Zendaya, and her role as Chani of Arrakis’ Fremen tribe. Talk about a big draw; people everywhere would be just about fainting thinking of their outfits and dynamic together during the press tours and the interviews! But another hugs demographic this new movie would benefit from would be the fans Villeneuve had made from his most recent film, Blade Runner 2049 (a number of my friends and I found ourselves in this camp) . Thoughts were racing of how he would shoot the desert and the ways different scenes would lay out; 2049’s biting Baseline Test sequences would definitely lay down the groundwork for what to expect from the new take on the Gom Jabbar scene from the beginning of the book.
At this time, I was still imagining this cast through the legendary lens of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s shot at a Dune movie in the 70’s, and the madness of his own talents he had chosen. Though planning on letting his own son, Brontis, play Paul, things would get seriously wild from there on out, with Orson Welles taking on the role of Baron Harkonnen, and Salvador Dali signing on as “The Mad Emperor of the Universe”, with a plan to accrue $100,000 for each minute of screen time and declare himself the highest-paid actor ever. With Jean “Moebius” Giraud lending his famous visual style to every costume seen within the production, the horrors of H.R. Giger and his take on Geidi Prime, the Harkonnen Homeworld planet, and a soundtrack by Pink Floyd to chart the entire ten hour odyssey, Jodorowsky’s Dune would have rattled heads like dice in a Yahtzee cup. This legend of a team would even inspire a complete documentary about their work together, but as deals for funding came few and far between, the project split apart, with different talents spreading to new projects like starship wreckage through space. But a feature film adapting Dune wouldn’t stay buried yet…
Why Ellen is not the kind and generous host we all once thought.
By Kylie Halmi
Ellen DeGeneres was honored with the Carol Burnett Award at the 77th Golden Globe Awards on January 5th 2020. This award was created in honor of Carol Burnett and was given to her in the previous year. The organization said the recipient must be "an honoree who has made outstanding contributions to the television medium on or off the screen." This achievement is also meant to represent the charter of the repecient, which conflicts with the recent allegations about Ellen Degeneres’ character.
The Ellen Degeneres Show has been airing since 2003 but Ellen’s brand and stardom had taken off long before then. She began her journey into comedy at 23 and eventually, after making cameo appearances on many top shows, landed her own sitcom in 1994, titled “Ellen.” Much of her fame can also be accredited to her public coming out journey and her activism for LGBTQ+ rights. While this did gain Ellen praise at the time,a lot of the show’s success eventually died down as increased critisisms for the character’s open homosexuality ended up getting the show cancelled.
But this didn't stop Ellen from creating her own talk show in 2003. This new platform quickly became a success for Ellen, and since airing, the show has won many awards, including a record 11 Emmys for a daytime talk show. Ellen is arguably one of the most famous and funny talk show hosts and Ellen herself has definitely become a household name. But why recently have people’s impressions of her changed?
When COVID-19 first began to spread in the United States, many talk shows had to scramble to adapt. The studio set-up and the live audience were no longer viable options with the world at a halt. Ellen’s show was one of the shows that took a big hit. While she wasn’t off the air for long, her dedicated employees were left with many questions unanswered about employment and money during the epidemic. Ellen had hired non- unionized workers to run her show while at home, instead of keeping her initial dedicated workers. When she was called out for her actions, Ellen responded by paying back the workers and promising work post COVID-19. However, this incident left viewers wondering what Ellen would have done if she had not gotten caught and called out for this incident.
After a BuzzFeed exposé on the show, complaints kept piling up about Ellen. Many weren't just about Ellen but about her senior staff and how they would negatively treat primarily women of color. Although three of the staff members that were specifically mentioned in the BuzzFeed complaints have been fired from the show, viewers are wondering why Ellen was complacent and unfazed by this behavior for so long. These revelations have led people to speculate negatively about Ellen's character.
Another big hit to Ellen and her brand were stories about her behavior outside of her show and some allegations occurring before her fame. One story involved an allegation of her bullying a minor who was the child of a woman she worked for. Ben Gravolitz, the aforementioned child , revealed some of the negative behavior Ellen would subject him to . He alleged she would constantly criticize his weight, calling him fat and stupid, and also comment on his fashion sense. He was just a young boy at the time and Ellen was in her twenties . This story and many like it have perpetuated the idea that Ellen's character in person and on the show may not be compatible .
Audiences have continued to wonder about whether or not Ellen was as friendly as she portrayed to the cameras. She has had many stars and fans speak out about, frankly, inappropriate remarks she has made about their image,language or demeanor. Take actress Sophia Vergara, who has been on the show many times. Ellen has made some strange, not politically kind or correct comments on Sophia’s accent. She has mimicked her accent even claiming it has “gotten worse over the 10 years of filming. Ellen has also commented on her English.
So given all the recent news about Ellen, her show and her brand do you think she deserves to be canceled? Is it important for the facade she has on her show to meet her personality or are fans taking this too far?
Ryan Ford '23,