ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
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LANA DEL REY’S LATEST ALBUM IS A MUST-LISTEN
By: Valentin Wanderkauven
Caption: Lana Del Rey live in 2017
Courtesy of N. Stroil via Wikimedia Commons
On August 30th, 2019 Lana Del Rey released her long-awaited sixth studio album: “Norman Fucking Rockwell”. Del Rey covers a variety of topics that empower women and test gender roles through the use of her vivid storytelling and gorgeous production.
Despite being a love album, Del Rey’s presentation of this love has moved past the archaic simplicity that we’ve seen for so long. The lack of cliches is refreshing, and a song like “Venice Bitch” is the perfect example of this stylistic progression. There’s no endless whining like the plethora of emo songs that carry no weight. The inspiration from early 2000’s pop music is clear, but compared to her, Del Rey makes her contemporaries look like complete amateurs. She advances their indie pop styles and pushes the limits of what was once considered extraordinary.
There’s no lingering notes or sounds. Del Rey doesn’t return to a previously made point unless it’s most necessary. The album is concise and the points are made in such a rhythmic fashion that each song flows beautifully into the next. Even the cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time” outdoes the original. Del Rey’s voice and her new smooth and more relaxed production style actually benefit the song greatly. She takes all the negatives of the original and turns them into amazing positives.
A couple of issues arise throughout the album’s runtime. There are a few songs that just aren’t as important and feel more like filler than anything else. It is rather questionable as to why del Rey included a song like “How To Disappear”, but maybe she finds it to have more sentimental value, but it just doesn’t fit with the cohesion of the album. Along with that, there are a couple of rocky transitions that definitely makes it sound like some of the mixing was hardly glossed over, if at all. However, those issues are more negligible than anything and they do not affect the whole album.
Now I ask: What can we learn from this album? For starters, we’ve learned that del Rey still has that musical fire that she has had from the start of her career and that she can outdo herself time and time again. We can also gain a better understanding of what love is like to someone like del Rey which adds to past and future context of her discography. The most important lesson, especially for the males who do end up listening to the album, is that we get to learn the strength of women and how those gender roles need to be forgotten. The new decade is coming, so it is time we act like it.
Ultimately, “Norman Fucking Rockwell” is a landmark for indie pop and all love albums. Del Rey has created her magnum opus, and a genre-defining work of art. Del Rey fans, along with myself, are excited to see what’s to come from her future albums. “Norman F*cking Rockwell” is definitely worth the listen.
NETFLIX’S DECISION TO START CENSORING ITS CONTENT MUTILATES ITS ARTISTIC INTEGRITY
By: Alisa Romagnoli
The show’s cover radiates an initial sense of mystery and doom.
Photo By: Brian Yorkey
Netflix–one of, if not the most commonly used streaming services (by teens in particular)–has allegedly begun to censor two of its top shows.
Both critics, as well as mental health professionals denounced Netflix for its graphic display of a suicide scene on “13 Reasons Why”, a hit show on the service. The show is known to portray dark themes of teen depression, including graphic scenes of self harm which caused an uproar of public dismay. Arguments were made that such scenes would inspire and encourage teenage minds viewing the visuals. This controversy has obviously caused Netflix to rethink its public appearance as a renowned company as it proceeded to censor disputed sensitive content cutting out its infamous suicide scene from “13 Reasons Why.” The scene now displays the character looking at herself in the mirror before cutting and cuts to her parents’ reaction to the suicide instead of the raw original.
Show creator, Brian Yorkey, did issue a statement on behalf of the cut saying, "It was our hope, in making “13 Reasons Why” into a television show, to tell a story that would help young viewers feel seen and heard, and encourage empathy in all who viewed it, as much as the bestselling book did before us. Our creative intent in portraying the ugly, painful reality of suicide in such graphic detail in season 1 was to tell the truth about the horror of such an act and make sure no one would ever wish to emulate it. But as we ready to launch season 3, we have heard concerns about the scene from Dr. Christine Moutier at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and others, and have agreed with Netflix to re-edit it. No one scene is more important than the life of the show, and its message that we must take better care of each other. We believe this edit will help the show do the most good for the most people while mitigating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers.”
Obviously, this alteration makes viewing more appropriate for younger audiences. However, it does defeat the shock factor and the raw, stylistic purpose that the director has chosen. The scene is ugly, remorseless, and should be hard to watch. It captures the struggle and brutality for what anyone with a mental illness is faced with.
For suitable audiences, this edit may lessen the interest of viewing the show. Being that the show’s theme initially indicates unsuitability for younger audiences, this change seems unnecessary since impressionable and naive youth should not be watching the show in the first place.
Would great and applauded, yet explicit shows such as "Breaking Bad,” “Black Mirror,” and “Orange Is the New Black,” be of the same quality without their “sensitive” content? Most likely not, being that their stylistic rawness is what adds greatly to the shows.
Netflix has also censored smoking scenes from its hit show, “Stranger Things,” fearing that the habit portrayed in the show will have the same influential effect on young minds. This also seems like quite an unnecessary alteration as well as one that puts Netflix in a “kid-friendly” light instead of its known “sophisticated” regard.
The anti-smoking “Truth” organization was up-in-arms about the regularity of the show’s smoking content. Netflix then chose to censor any smoking and vaping content in its programs rated PG-13 and below. Other shows and films are allowed to maintain it’s smoking scenes only in cases when it is absolutely necessary.
Overall, it appears that Netflix is caving into media pressure instead of sticking to their guns with their artistic decisions.
“PEANUT BUTTER FALCON”, PROVES HEROES COME IN ALL FORMS
By: Georgia Payne
Zak, Eleanor, and Tyler journey to break stereotypes
Photo from: “Peanut Butter Falcon”
“Peanut Butter Falcon” is a must-watch, feel-good movie that explores sensitive yet important topics. The film was co-written and co-directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz. Zak Gottsegen, who is in his early 30s, plays the main character. Gottsegen himself has Down syndrome, and the filmmakers crafted “The Peanut Butter Falcon” specifically for him.
Zak takes frequent pratfalls and is often seen in various unselfconscious states of undress, but the movie never makes him a figure of fun. Nor, by the same token, does it try to wrench sentimental tears out of his condition. Instead, the film fills you with laughter. They make his character a little guy with a big heart and big dreams and let him have his hero’s journey. Additionally, they show us his fight to fulfill his dreams despite Down syndrome.
The movie follows Gottsegen’s adventures to become a pro wrestler. During the film, Gottsegens makes unconventional friends with a convict named Tyler, played by Shila Buff, following lessons such as freedom, stereotypes, and love. The film shows the journey of the pair as they run from the law and become family. Although the love shown in this movie is not the standard, it is just as important. In the beginning, Tyler is uneasy about the friendship with Zak, but as the film goes on, he eventually takes Zak under his arm and “trains” him. The films end with Tyler feeling that Zak is his brother, drawing comparisons to his brother who he had lost in a car accident.
This movie is important for everyone to see because it breaks stereotypes around mental disabilities. It shows that even though people with disabilities are different, they are still people. Tyler also shows us long-lasting friendship with a person like Zak is possible. Finally, and most importantly, Zak shows us that everyone has the power to overcome adversity and fulfill their hopes and dreams. That we should not have to isolate people like Zak from society and instead, give them the support needed to be able to live freely.
Breaking most stereotypes the world has made about people with Down syndrome and their ability to function mentally, Zak reminds those around him throughout the film that he is not ‘retarded’ and can fend for himself. After escaping the nursing home with the help of his one true friend there, Carl, he finds Tyler who shows him how to ‘live’. Even Eleanor, his caretaker back at the nursing home, agrees that Zak should have the ability to love and explore his future freely without the constraints of his disability.
“Borderlands 3” is a must have for loot-and-shoot fans
By: Nathan Gee
Borderlands 3 display at German games fair Gamescom in Cologne
Photo By: Marco Verch
From the creators of the beloved “Borderlands” Series, Gearbox Software LLC. has released its new hit, “Borderlands 3” on September 13th, 2019 for PC, Xbox One, and the PS4. Being a continuation of the popular “Borderlands 2”, “Borderlands 3” not only exceeds expectations as a fun sequel game, but also delivers what any gamer would want out of a “Borderlands” game; fun and guns.
It’s the series that popularized the loot shooter genre by adding hints of an RPG (role-playing game) to a first-person looter and shooter, with its own distinct and detailed cartoonish style of graphics. This means that while the player progresses through an action-packed experience of the game’s dialogue and story, they will also have to pick up better equipment and guns to progress through the game. “Borderlands 3” has tons of guns, with the game boasting to have over a billion guns to advance and destroy the villains known as the “Big Baddies.”
The lore of “Borderlands 3” is a continuation of the previous games in the series ( I recommend you play them first!). You are a vault hunter on the bandit ridden wastelands on the planet Pandora, shooting and killing your way to what is known as “vaults.”
According to the lore, these vaults are hidden repositories of riches and artifacts that were created by the Eridians, who are an alien race that inhabited the universe millions of years ago. Many different mega corporations are trying to send colony ships to the planet to find these vaults among dangerous native life forms and bandits that reign over the land. Each vault has its guardian, protecting the wealth, artifacts, and destructive power that resides inside (Including legendary beasts that should not be released).
However, in “Borderlands 3”, you are essentially trying to stop the game’s two new antagonists, named Roy and Tyreen Calypso. These twin siblings have united all the bandits of Pandora under their cult, with their eyes set on the vaults across the many other planets discovered to contain them.
You start the campaign off by choosing one of the four vault hunter heroes in this story. There’s Amara, the siren who can destroy foes with elemental attacks and psychic abilities; Moze, a former soldier who can summon a giant machine to fight enemies; FL4K, a wandering robot who can control several wild creatures to fight with, and last but not least is Zane, a corporate hitman who focuses on gunplay and shields to kill enemies.
What I love about this game is that each character has their own unique skills and a dedicated skill feed players can personalize by allocating points to certain skills as they level up. So, as you progress, your character will be customized to your playstyle and preferences. What's also interesting is that playing through the story never felt monotonous at all. I would always feel excited about encountering a boss in the game and would marvel at the weapon archetypes I would encounter throughout my playthrough.
The gameplay of “Borderlands 3” is fast-paced, as Gearbox wastes no time in unleashing the player upon the world, giving the player a linear early experience which then expands as the player progresses, allowing them to traverse different planets and zones.
It also has a Co-op (multiplayer) mode that allows players to group up and play the story together. Unlike the realism of games like “Battlefield” and the “Call of Duty” series, the guns of Borderlands are ostentatious, with wacky shapes and brazen colors. These weapons are meant to be varying in all types and designs and most importantly, fun to use.
Finding rare and powerful weapons in the game can be rewarding as it allows you to progress much easier, destroying enemies faster and causing massive destruction. Most of the fun comes from fighting the many bosses and traversing through the cool landscapes, picking up loot, and of course, experiencing the story itself.
One of my favorite bosses is the “Agonizer 9000.” You are put into a fighting arena with an audience looking for gory entertainment. The boss is particularly interesting as it a giant machine that can make the floor spit out fire, swipe gigantic blades, and a giant spiked board that instantly kills the player with one hit.
“Borderlands 3” is a game that sticks true to its story and feels safe as a sequel to its previous games. The writing is witty, and the story is interesting, with some cool and unexpected moments scattered throughout the campaign. A huge variety of choices come with character and gun customization and exciting fast-paced gameplay, as well as staying true to its looter and shooter mechanic. “Borderlands 3” is a must-have for fans of first-person shooters and casual gamers alike.
J COLE AND HIS GROUP, DREAMVILLE, STRIKE AGAIN WITH THEIR THIRD ALBUM
By: Onalisa Mitchell
DreamVille Records Logo
By: DreamVille Records
"When I was assed out with my funds low/It's nice to know I had the whole world at my front door.” Words from J. Cole's debut album have set up his mindset for his future successes. Grammy winner Cole and his co founded group Dreamville hit the charts yet again with their summer release of their third album “Revenge Of the Dreamers 3.” With the alluring album cover of black and gold, it gives a “Star Wars” aspect with the way the font is displayed.
Cole started his first record label named Dreamville Records in 2011 and since then, the group of well known artists have collaborated in a total of 3 albums and counting. The most recent album includes artists like Ari Lennox, Bas, EarthGang, Cozz, Lute, and other fellow underground artists that are new to the scene. J cole enpompasses his fellow black artist by creating melodic raps and r&b hits that not only please his fanbase but also his newcomers that have discovered Dreamville before getting into the timeless Cole.
The newest album was released on July 5th, 2019 and recorded in his Atlanta and North Carolina studios. With a total of 18 songs that add up to one hour and 4 minutes, there isn't a time in the album that you will want to skip. Although the artists in this album are similar, they were able to touch the various fans that love each individual artist.
The album currently has a 98% thumbs up on Google and the group as a whole are 450th most listened in the world on Spotify and when it was released over the summer, it was trending all over Twitter and Apple Music.
I love this album because it embodies Cole and his artistic views on music. The positive vibes from this album are astronomical and as you continue to listen to the album more, you will see there are other artists that aren’t apart of dreamville. Some artists include Dababy, Childish Major, Buddy, Earthgang, etc.
A song I would recommend on the album is, Sacrifices( feat. Smino and Saba). This song is my favorite on the album because of the soft tones and the 2 featured artist. Both Amino and Sabas vocals added along to coles rapping makes the song a top hit.
In an interview Cole did with MTV, he talked about how his hard work and amazing fanbase was the reason why his production company has been and will continue to be successful. This album will have you thinking, crying and getting turnt up during any occasion. No matter what mood you are in, the Dreamville team has a song for you.