Image C/O Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
By Andrew Martinez Cabrera
On May 2, 2023, The Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) announced that all 11,500 union members were going on strike, effectively halting all film and television productions that require a writing staff. The strike authorization was preceded by a month of deliberation between the union, and once the contracts with the studios lapsed on May 1, the strike officially began.
The last time the WGA went on strike was in 2007, which lasted from November 5 to February 12, when writers were seeking an increase in residual rates from DVD sales. The issue now is still focused on residual rates, but concerns streaming services. What used to happen prior to streaming, to use the contemporary example, was that when a show was a success, it could get a lot of air time and stay in syndication. Whenever a particular episode would re-air on television, the writer would get compensation via a check from the studio. This continuous revenue stream was especially fruitful since most shows’ seasons would have an average of around 20 episodes per season, give or take. For these long seasons, writers are present for longer periods of time after the writers’ room has concluded, getting to learn the actual production aspects of making something. It ensured financial and career stability for writers, like Michael Schur, who started off writing for “The Office” before transitioning into being a showrunner for projects such as “The Good Place” and “Parks and Recreation.”
What happens now is that streaming service companies like Netflix order about 8-10 episodes per season, which means less hired time for writers. Adding on to that, streaming companies adopted what is called a “mini room,” a pre-production writer’s room where the show is scripted and produced for the first time. According to The New York Times’ John Kroblin, streaming companies prefer mini rooms because of the semantics of it all, saying “Because it’s not a formal writers’ room, they will use that as justification to pay writers less, even though they’re writing scripts and developing a show.” When a show is a success, however, the companies hide the viewership data so that the writers cannot accurately know how much they’re owed for each episode once it lands on streaming.
The WGA’s demands include viewership-based streaming residuals, regular staff fees, individual health benefits, longer employment periods, regulation on studios using artificial intelligence from either making projects or using writers’ previous works to train it, and many others which can be found on the official WGA website.
Countering or rejecting their proposals is the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents all of the big Hollywood studios such as Disney, Netflix, and Warner Bros. Discovery. Looking at the annual cost the studios would have to pay to end the strikes, each is less than $100 million. For example, Warner Bros. Discovery would only have to pay $45 million, which is 0.104% of its annual revenue of $43.1 billion. Rather than agreeing to the guild’s terms, Warner Bros. Discovery announced that they would lose $300-$500 million from their 2023 earnings instead. Companies have also resorted to making more reality shows since they are not a part of the WGA, a pattern that started in 2007 and gave us the first reality TV boom that remodeled the television industry. Studios are also pushing back major releases in the hopes of having something to bring back their earnings in the upcoming year, such as pushing back Dune: Part Two to March rather than keeping it in its original November release date.
In an attempt to further stall their agreement to the union’s demands, the AMPTP waited for writers to begin losing money and “start losing their apartments and losing their houses.” As the WGA described in a statement, multiple CEOs met with the union negotiators to talk and were “met with a lecture about how good their single and only counteroffer was.”
Making matters worse for the AMPTP, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Foundation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), a combination of two acting unions, have also gone on strike. Their demands are similar to the WGA’s. On the state level, California’s senate approved unemployment pay for any striking workers, not just the WGA and SAG-AFTRA on September 14, 2023. According to Variety, if signed by Governor Gavin Newson, “the bill would take effect on Jan. 1.”
As of now, the WGA announced that negotiations will restart with the AMPTP this Wednesday. At the time of publication, the WGA strike has lasted 143 days compared to the 2007 Writers Strike which lasted 166 days.
Image c/o ABC News
By Tucker Long
Visiting Entertainment Columnist
On September 1, 2023, Jimmy Buffett passed away in his Sag Harbor home. Buffett was a beloved singer-songwriter, known for pioneering the tropical-rock genre with songs such as “Margaritaville”, “Why Don’t We Get Drunk”, and “Cheeseburger in Paradise”. Buffett’s musical style blended twangy guitars with steel drums, creating his outlaw-country meets Key West brand of music that was wholly unique. Lyrics of his often depicted scenes of relaxing on a beach, sharing drinks with friends, sailing the high seas, and any other sort of coastal debauchery you can think of. Jimmy Buffett’s island-themed music promoted a laid-back, sun-soaked lifestyle that was adored by his legions of passionate fans, dubbed the “parrot heads”. On top of his musical success, Buffett also found fortune as a writer and businessman. He was a New York Times best-selling author of two novels and a memoir, and launched a nationwide chain of “Margaritaville” themed restaurants, resorts, and casinos.
Buffet’s death was announced on his official website, saying that he “passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs.” The cause of his death was later revealed to be Merkel skin cancer, which is a rare type of skin cancer. He had been secretly battling Merkel skin cancer for years.
The music of Jimmy Buffett has provided the soundtrack to many vacations; his music was a staple anywhere there was sand, salt water, and fun to be had. Buffett’s death is the culmination of a life well-lived, a life consisting of parties, music, dancing, drinking, and fun. Even in death, he remained loyal to his tropical brand, with a report from CBS News saying that a significant risk factor for Merkel skin cancer was sun exposure. Buffett is survived by his wife, two daughters, a son, a grandson, and six dogs.
image c/o movie maker magazine
By Andrew Martinez Cabrera
*SPOILERS FOR BOTH*
Barbie harkens back to a time when major Hollywood cinema had color and flair; a vibrancy that radiated through the screen. Greta Gerwig, known for her intimate and naturally stylized (in terms of look and feel) films, goes bombastic in her embrace of walking-and-talking idealistic dolls.
Like The Lego Movie before it, Gerwig and company deal with the meta as a way to critique and demonstrate a love for Barbie. Barbie tells women everywhere that they can be whatever they want to be, while also upholding unrealistic beauty standards. The dolls of Barbieland live in a bubble where they believe that injustice is no more, so when Stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) goes to the real world and learns how “ugly” our world is, she is reasonably upset. Her anchor of hope is America Ferrara’s character and her daughter, the stand-ins of what realistic womanhood and sacrifice represent. As much as it is a film about a toy, Gerwig attaches the emotional core to the duo.
However, and perhaps because of its obligation to the IP of Barbie, having these characters serve only as the springboard for Barbie’s dilemma, this real-life mother-and-daughter duo falls short. America Ferrara’s big speech towards the end of the film, which unites the Barbies to pursue a coup d'etat against the now-patriarchy-obsessed Kens, could have packed more emotional weight within the context of the narrative if more time was spent seeing these characters operate outside of Barbie’s storyline. Rather than being fully developed, they are conveniences for the plot, which is a shame considering the film’s emphasis on motherhood. I believe another half-hour or so would have remedied this, showing their relationship grow from strained to fully healed, rather than their situation shown via montage.
Ultimately, Barbie is another genuine and heartfelt statement from Greta Gerwig’s filmography that trades the lived-in ambiance of her previous works for something that is epic-in-scale, hilarious, and richly textured in its visual look. The fear that her artistic voice could be lost dealing with an existing brand as large as Barbie was quenched when Gerwig proved that her voice could be just as impactful on such a grand scope.
Prior to its release, I would not have thought of Christopher Nolan as a mature enough artist to tackle the paradoxical figure that is J. Robert Oppenheimer. My fear was that complexity would be traded for spectacle. So I was pleasantly surprised when instead of adulation on Nolan’s part, I got damnation.
Oppenheimer is split up into two distinct timelines: “Fission” and “Fusion.” The former, shot in black-and-white, deals with Oppenheimer’s security hearing in the 1950s. The latter, shot in color, deals with Oppenheimer from his teaching days at Berkeley, all the way to his involvement with the Manhattan Project and after.
Despite working within the biographical genre, Nolan actively works against it. Documentarian Werner Herzog in his Minnesota Declaration about truth and fact in documentary cinema wrote, “There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication[,] imagination and stylization.” Nolan does not subscribe to the cinéma vérité (truth cinema) notion when telling Oppenheimer’s story but rather distorts the narrative with Oppenheimer’s biased perspective. Oppenheimer builds himself up as a tortured genius forced to open Pandora’s box, as a means to end the rise of fascism in Europe. The black-and-white sections of Oppenheimer then contradict what Oppenheimer is supposedly saying and feeling. The artist, whose career is to manipulate, shares the same tendencies as its central protagonist; a mirror image.
Oppenheimer is a paradox as complex as splitting the atom: self-pitying and constantly seeking validation; the father of the atomic bomb who helped end the war and the linchpin of our self-destruction. Nolan’s greatest strength is having Oppenheimer’s subjectivity hijack the lens from which the film is captured. Whereas the film’s diegesis treats Oppenheimer's greatest victory as the success of Trinity and his greatest defeat not as the consequences of dropping the bomb, but rather as losing his security clearance, which plays like a courtroom drama (tightly edited by the amazing Jennifer Lame, who makes three hours go by like nothing), Nolan comes back around to remind the audience that Oppenheimer, like Prometheus, gave fire to man, and is to be condemned for eternity. Rather than building up a titan of the science world, Nolan portrays the perils of ego and our collective suffering as a result of it.
Barbenheimer’s success can be linked to the diversity of both films in a market saturated with sequels and reboots. Two of our greatest modern filmmakers made movies that were the antithesis of one another, inviting audiences to involve themselves in two totally different worlds. My hope with Barbenheimer is that Hollywood realizes that rather than chasing a trend, a wide selection of films should be offered to a wider range of audience members, rather than satisfying only a pocket of moviegoers. Cinema can be anything, and Barbenheimer was this summer’s reminder.
Warner Bros. Pictures, Mattel: Barbie
Universal Pictures, Syncopy: Oppenheimer
By Julian Villegas
“I gave a second chance to Cupid.” Is an infectious hook to an already catchy song sure to get stuck in your head.
“Cupid”, by the group Fifty Fifty, was released on February 24th, 2023. Upon release, they created 2 different versions of the song. The original version, which is sung in both Korean and English by all members of the group, and the Twin version, which is sung all in English by 2 of the members (Sio and Aran).
Since release, this song (more specifically the Twin version) has blown up in popularity due to it becoming a one of the most used audios on Tik Tok. One of the more common uses of the song is when it’s paired with a clip of John Cena dancing with headphones on. Since then, it’s spread to other platforms such as YouTube and Instagram. Due to its recent popularity, “Cupid”, has charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the past several weeks and is steadily rising higher and higher.
But who is Fifty Fifty? Fifty Fifty is a Kpop group that debuted on November 18, 2022. Their 4 person lineup consists of members: Saena, Sio, Aran, and Keena. A lot of Kpop groups that get really popular in the West such as Blackpink or Twice tend to come from bigger companies who have the money and materials to help them make it big. It’s not the same when it comes to Fifty Fifty who debuted under ATTRAKT, a small company which currently only has 1 Artist to their name…Fifty Fifty. Due to the company’s small size and reputation, they experienced more hardships in the beginning such as the CEO having to sell his own car in order to fund their debut. But now, with more eyes on them due to the success of “Cupid,” things could be finally looking up for Fifty Fifty. And with them charting on Billboard, they officially became the fastest group to chart on the Billboard Hot 100.
Personally, I really like Fifty Fifty, and if you’re a fan of “Cupid” , I would highly recommend checking their other music out. They released a mini album titled “The Fifty” as their debut album back in November of last year which featured 4 other tracks. I’d say all of those songs are worth a listen to, but in my personal opinion the best songs are “Tell Me” and “Higher.”
By Remy Zerber
HBO Max just announced that they are rebooting the Harry Potter franchise and making a TV show. This announcement was made on April 12 with a video posted on their Youtube channel. HBO also announced that they are doing a rebrand and calling themselves Max. People have many opinions on the show, especially on the casting of it.
Although the characters have not been casted yet because Max just announced the reboot, people already have opinions on the casting and idea of a reboot. People don’t think anyone can replace the original actors who played Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) in the original movies. Although I love the original three actors, I think they should focus on making the new cast as book accurate as possible. That way the reboot won’t be compared to the original eight movies. The original actors aren’t getting any younger so they can’t come back and play kids again. I would love for them to play other roles like the parents of their original characters. Having the old Harry Potter actors come back would increase the likelihood of old Harry Potter fans watching because it would increase the nostalgia for them. Tom Felton, the actor who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, said he would love to come back in the reboot and I think he should play Lucius Malfoy. He is much closer in age to Lucius Malfoy now and if he were cast as the father of his original character, he would be a series regular which would be really nostalgic for Harry Potter fans. I think Ralph Fiennes should play Voldemort again. He has said he would be disappointed if he didn’t get asked to come back, especially since his performance in the original movies was really good. Harry Potter fans would be excited to see him come back, especially after seeing his performance in the original movies. People clearly care a lot about the casting of the reboot because they want it to be perfect.
Many people have strong opinions on the reboot, especially the trans community as J.K. Rowling is involved. The trans community started a war on Twitter where they attacked the controversial author. Alex Paez on Twitter wrote, “I am a Mexican and I do not support transphobic trash like J. K. Rowling.” The trans community is trying to organize a boycott of the new Harry Potter show, and in response J. K. Rowling tweeted that she doesn’t care what they think. Rowling tweeted, “Dreadful news, which I feel duty bound to share. Activists in my mentions are trying to organize yet another boycott of my work, this time of the Harry Potter TV show. As forewarned is forearmed, I've taken the precaution of laying in a large stock of champagne.”
Many people, especially the trans community, are angry about the Harry Potter reboot because JK Rowling is going to be involved. They are mad at her because she has said some transphobic things in the past. Some people want to boycott the show but she doesn’t care. Max and JK Rowling are still going to make the show even though there is controversy.
How she handles being a student-athlete and a small business owner
Images c/o TK's Candles
By Madison Sciba
What started off as a way to make money during quarantine is now a successful small business. Graduate student and softball player, TK created her small candle business, TK’s Candles, in her apartment in April 2020. Being a one-woman show, TK makes the candles, runs the website, and ships out the products all herself.
Taking us through the process of running her business, TK describes what she does once an order is placed through her website. “Once I get the order I print it out so I have a list of what it is that I need to pack.” She explains, “The candles are already made so I go to where I have them on my shelf, take one of those, wrap it up in a cute honey-comb wrap and add a bow. Then I place it in a box with a thank you card and a TK’s Candles matchbox.” TK makes all of the products herself, making them in bulk batches so they are ready to ship once she gets an order.
In describing her goals for her business, TK explains her desire to expand her audience on social media, especially on Instagram and TikTok (links below). She currently sells her products at farmers markets but wishes to attend more markets and fairs to expand her reach. Increasing her website traffic and trying to get her candles in stores are also top priorities for TK and her business.
“My end goal is to hopefully open up a storefront.” TK says, “I plan on expanding past candles, probably soaps and fragrance sprays as well.”
As a fulltime student and athlete, TK says that time management is an essential part of balancing school, practices, and running a small business. “Time management is just a skill that I have now.” She explains, “My business is a passion that I have outside of my sport and something that I enjoy when I have free time. It gives me some piece of mind. It is a hobby and a business.”
She hopes that her story and her experience as a student-athlete and a small business owner can empower other women who wish to start their own small businesses and follow their dreams.
Facebook: TK Candles Elk Grove
Image c/o Julian Villegas
By Lillian La Salle
As May is fast approaching and April is coming to a close, the SMC Sports Band has just wrapped up an exciting season. The band has enjoyed playing for the men's and women's Basketball teams in the Las Vegas West Coast Conference and joined the men’s team for the March Madness tournament in New York. This concludes a wonderful season of basketball, and a year full of musical preparation for the St. Mary’s community to celebrate.
In efforts to focus on the artistic talents on campus, the Collegian begins their Student Spotlight pieces with a Senior in the Sports Band, Julian Villegas. This stellar saxophonist is here to expand on some of his favorite experiences from his 4 years spent in the band.
Julian has been playing his alto-saxophone for a little over 13 years and was unsure whether to major in music when he was met with the opportunity to be in the Sports Band.
Julian begins by describing a personal experience, “Picture this. It is 2019, and freshman Julian is wandering and sees the sports band booth with the former president and other exec team members. I had wanted to play an instrument even though I was unsure about majoring or minoring. I really enjoyed meeting everyone and we got really close as time went on, and the band became a nice creative outlet. I had a space where I got to play sax and I genuinely love the band and the people.”
Julian kept up his enthusiasm for the band and was excited to spend the next four years working with the SMC community. After his first year bonding with the band, he enjoyed getting to help out new and returning bandmates after getting a better understanding of how the band operated. During and after SMC went online in 2020, Julian experienced such a welcoming environment in the band that he wanted to stay for the lasting connections he had made.
Julian described some of his favorite experiences in the band as not just the actual music-making element, but the great bonding time he experienced as well.
“It’s always nice to see everyone all together. Sometimes we have a formal night and go get dinner as a group, and we also have a tradition where we all go bowling with the rival band teams. Overall my favorite part of the band is meeting kids and learning what their interests are. Getting to know the rest of the band is really important because we all usually have very busy lives, and it's hard to connect sometimes because we sit in our different instrument sections.”
Speaking of some of Julian's favorite parts of being in a sports band. Traveling with the band definitely struck a chord in him and kept him coming back year after year for the experience of traveling with his music community around the U.S. As a Sports band veteran, Julian describes a day in the life of the band when they are traveling around the states.
“We wake up around nine o clock, and I start my remote work for the admissions office. After a few hours, I start my zoom classes and meet with my professors to ensure I stay up to date with the assignments. After classes we’ll get food and work on some homework until our call time at 4:45. We all meet in the lobby and head to the stadium to set up our instruments and get tuned up while the rhythm section plays a quick tailgate. After the tailgate we’ll head back down to tune for the game and play in between the timeouts. A lot of time is spent convincing our band director to play jungle boogie!”
From the sports band perspective, the basketball games are super energetic and leave the fans feeling thrilled with the SMC team and their ability to play well together and keep the crowd engaged. Julian enjoys seeing the other bands perform because some will have stunt and dance teams as well. After the games, the band gets to decompress together and rest up before playing another game or heading back home to Saint Mary’s.
All in all, Julian's experience in sports band was made possible by all the wonderful people he got to meet. Like Julian, we all have a community of individuals who keep us excited about the college experience and coming back for more.
Images c/o Lillian La Salle
Willow and Houston… features a by-students, for-students aesthetic.
By Lillian La Salle
Enter the LeFevre Theatre on the SMC campus and find a finely lit auditorium with numerous students humming, stretching, singing, dancing, and chatting together. The student tech crew is meticulously making sure all the songs are queued, at the right volume, and ready for a run-through. The lighting practitioners flash the spotlights a few times for a quick test, and the student directors lead the actors through a myriad of dynamic warm-ups. One thing worth mentioning, there is not a professor in sight.
For the SMC theatre program's spring production, as many as 20 current undergraduate students are serving in leadership roles. The directors and stage managers are especially key to rolling out the visual performance because they are guiding everyone through the production process. The students are fully disciplined, running through warmups and lines to get ready for rehearsal. The student leaders guide the process along with a perfect balance of student support and director authority.
Similar to a sports practice, producing and acting in a musical is a full-body experience. The directors act as a coach by critiquing and providing feedback while also being supportive and strong in the eyes of the other students. One stage manager explained, “Every line is a point,” and that the point is necessary for the audience to understand what is happening on stage. Even the smallest details in the production are given the utmost care by these student managers and directors. It is clear that the leaders want to help the students give all their effort into the production to execute their community's vision.
With the student directors' and managers' guidance and support, the student actors work as a team to bring to the stage their latest production, “Willow & Houston Throw the Grad Party of the F*cking Century”, which encapsulates all the small details and feelings of young adult life. The actors presence clearly displays the sense of community amongst the cast, which helps bring the different highschool graduation experiences to life on the LeFevre stage.
With a sprinkling of self-discovery, rivalries, perfectionism, romance, sibling dynamics, and a fear of the unknown, this hilarious musical is a must watch for all students and faculty at SMC. The musical is a medley of student writing, Broadway musical numbers, scenes from different plays. The students seem to be having a blast carrying out this storyline on stage, and their infectious energy is a major draw for any theatre-going person. The show depicts all the details of young adult life in an hour-and-a-half production. All the small moments of the high school experience- jokes, roasts, heartaches, heartbreaks, hard conversations, and tearful endings– all packed into a hilarious and honest musical of the young adult experience.
This is a must-watch for the SMC community, and if you see the student leaders make sure to give them an extra round of applause.
By Remy Zerber
Tik Tok Expert
Wouldn’t it be great if SMC did a musical inspired by TikTok? It would have all the popular songs from TikTok like “I’m Good (Blue)” by David Guetta & Bebe Rexha, “As It Was” by Harry Styles and “Anti-hero” by Taylor Swift. All the students would be really excited because they would get to dance to their favorite songs. The songs change every year depending on what is popular on TikTok so the script stays updated. Everyone would get to dance to their favorite songs.
Everyone would be cast as famous TikTokers like Charli D'Amelio or Addison Rae. It would be hilarious watching everyone do the WAP dance on stage! All the TikTok dances would be included. All the characters would be in high school, college or just living life in their twenties. One person could even be the TikTok symbol and another person would be the person in charge of the app in China.
The antagonists would be the people trying to get TikTok banned and the protagonist would be all the people trying to convince them not to ban it. All the characters would do one big group dance for the finale and one in the middle of the show. It would be so funny to see the TikTok CEO dancing! Just imagine a bunch of old men doing a TikTok dance!
The sets would include a high school and a college. They could have a ridiculous mascot like the yellow cows or the Uni unicorn. Uni would be perfect for college since college is often called uni. Plus just imagine someone trotting around in a unicorn suit. It would be so cute! A yellow cow walking around the school would be so funny too! It would be like a sunshine cow or a golden cow for good luck. The golden cow would bring good luck to the sports teams.
A TikTok musical is a great idea! It would be super fun and hilarious with all the great costumes, sets and characters, not to mention the hilarious storyline! All the students will love it!
HAPPY APRIL FOOLS DAY FROM THE COLLEGIAN!
Crocs: Why everyone is wearing the highly coveted shoe?
By Madison “I only wear them in sports mode” Sciba
There is a new fashion trend spreading across the United States and it is coming as no surprise. Crocs, the famous rubber shoes, are becoming the center of the world of footwear. They are truly becoming the footwear of the future, featuring several different styles and “modes.” Most popular among the youth are sport mode and relaxed mode.
Sport mode, also known as x-games mode, is done by removing your foot from the croc, lowering the strap and putting the shoe back on so the strap is now resting behind the foot. This is optimal for turning crocs from everyday lounging shoes into athletic, all terrain shoes.
Relaxed mode involves the strap resting in the top of the shoe, giving the heel freedom to move about. This is ideal for just walking around, just a casual everyday shoe. Need to take the trash out? Just slide them on in relaxed mode, it's easy peasy.
Not only are crocs functional, but they are also becoming the epitome of style. Available in a variety of colors and patterns, choosing your design is the first step to making them truly unique. The next step in croc ownership is the jibbitz. Little charms that just pop in the holes on the tops of the shoes. Now this is where you can really personalize your crocs. The options for jibbitz are endless, cute animals, food, plants, objects, phrases. If you can name it, then you can find a jibbitz.
So stop talking bad about today’s youth and how they “don’t wear real shoes” because crocs are far superior to any loafers or granny shoe from the 1970s. Just suck it up and invest in a pair of crocs, they will change your life and your relationship with your feet.
HAPPY APRIL FOOLS DAY FROM THE COLLEGIAN STAFF!
Madison Sciba '24,