Why “The Office” aired at the perfect time

By: Joshuah Chrisman

 

There is no doubt in my mind that this show has the potential to be one of the best TV shows of our generation but I do not think it would be as successful if it aired in today’s society. First Airing in 2005, the show takes place in a local paper company’s office in Scranton Pennsylvania with an over the top boss who only wants the best for his company and fellow employees. Michael Scott is the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton and is also the heart of the office. With his dark sense of humor and tendency for unproductiveness, Michael Scott has the ability to change the entire offices mood just by saying something funny or conducting one of his famous conference room presentations.

Although not everything Michael says is correct or suitable for work, his heart is always in the right place and he always wants to help with whatever he can. Michael Scott has many leadership attributes that make him the world’s best boss, at least in the eyes of his employees. Michael’s main attribute that puts him over the top is his sense of humor. Although some might see it as a dark sense of humor, Michael’s intentions are always for the betterment of his office or cheering up one of his employees. With that in mind, Michael will go to extreme lengths to please someone in the office, regardless of if it offends someone else.

Worlds Best Boss

“Michael considers himself as not just a boss, but a friend to all those who work in the office” says Catherine Holdsworth in 7 reason why Michael Scott is the ‘World’s Best Boss’. For some employees, Michael is seen as a great boss but to others he is seen as an idiot who never knows how to say the right thing.   The characters who see Michael as a good boss are very aware of his unfiltered office etiquette, yet still find him as a productive leader. For the employees who disagree with Michael’s office language, they are often disregarded or made fun of by Michael and other employees.

Michael has a tendency for not saying the right thing and that sometimes leads him into trouble. In today’s time, a lot of the things that Michael jokes about would be highly offensive for some viewers. Whether it be about Oscar being gay, Stanley being black, Kevin being too fat, or any of the sexist/sexual remarks made toward the women in the office, Michael can always find a way to not say the right thing. Although his higher-ups are aware of his odd behavior and unusual managerial style, there is no doubt about it that Michael knows what he is doing in the paper business. With his extensive knowledge of sales and the love of paper, Michael is Dunder Mifflin’s only option for the Regional Manager position which makes it hard for him to be replaced.

Sexism in the workplace

Sexism is a major problem in the labor force today which is another reason why I think a lot of the things said in the show would not be forgiven today. As the Regional Manager, Michael is the highest in command in the office and this gives him the power to do and say whatever he wants with little to no ramifications. To me, this portrays a deeper meaning in today’s society that some bosses believe that because they are in power, they can do whatever they want to whoever they want and get away with it.

Examples of sexism are portrayed throughout almost every episode. In my opinion, the primary examples of sexism stem from the treatment of the receptionist, Pam. Pam is the one who most frequently falls victim to Michael’s sexist remarks because she is a young and attractive woman who works directly under Michael, catering to his every need. Pam is also put on the party planning committee along with the other females in the office which rises a question. Why is the party planning committee only made up of females? Does Michael believe females are only good in an office for planning parties? These instances of sexism are often overlooked by the viewer because they are distracted by Michaels unruly behavior.

Is he racist?

Over the course of the show, there are many instances of racial remarks being thrown around, yet the biggest offender is the boss, Michael. In the very start of the show season 1 episode 2, Diversity Day, The office is forced to conduct a mandatory diversity training because of something Michael did. This leads Michael to form one of his famous conference room presentations which quickly gets out of hand as usual. If this was shown on TV today society would be in awe over the blatant disregard of racism in the show and the stereotyping that everyone in the office takes a part in.

In a tweet from @DiscordianKitty she says “Characters like Cartman and Michael Scott did a lot to normalize bigotry. Yes, they were portrayed as in the wrong, but also portrayed as likable, funny, and harmless. They taught a generation to see racism, antisemitism and misogyny as harmless personality quirks.” Although many people in the office have confronted Michael of his behavior in the workplace, nothing ever seems to change. Going back to the tweet, I agree that in the show, Michael is portrayed as being in the wrong but his odd sense of humor seems to be what gets him out of trouble for the most part. Just because Michael covers his absurd behavior with humor does not make it suitable for the workplace.

In an article by Kassidy Groner published in Affinity Magazine she states “Michael Scott is racist. He repeatedly makes racist comments towards his coworkers, for which he is rarely reprimanded.” Because he is rarely reprimanded, Michael believes it is ok to continue on with the attitude that he can do or say whatever comes to his mind. With that mindset, Michael creates his own problems and is the only one to blame for his misfortunes.

Are they just fat jokes?

Of the main cast, the Office has 3 recognizably fat people: Kevin Malone, Phyllis Vance, and Stanley Hudson.  You don’t see that many television shows or movies that have main characters that are overweight, so to be such key players in the show is something that people might actually enjoy seeing if the show launched in today’s day and age.

The only downfall to having an overweight character is that they are bound to be harassed or discriminated on because of their size. There is a lot fat shaming that takes place in the office and not everyone is innocent, but If you guessed Michael to be the primary offender then you’re right. In season 5 episode 1, Michael goes to the extent of making an alter ego named Michael Klump to fat shame everyone in the office into losing weight for a weight loss competition put on by corporate. As long as the overweight person can perform their job correctly then there should not be any reason why people in the office are fat shaming them.

Homophobic environment

With Oscar Martinez being the only main character who is gay he is often discriminated against by the entire office. In season 3 episode 1 the office finds out Oscar is gay and he is instantly treated differently by the rest of his co-workers. To make it worse for Oscar, after publicly being humiliated Michael furthers the humiliation by kissing Oscar on the lips. As a way of keeping away a lawsuit the company sent Oscar on a paid vacation but that did not stop anyone in the office from continuing to use homophobic slurs and singling him out for being gay.

Conclusion

Furthermore, The Office has had its success and its downfalls but will definitely go down as one of the greatest television shows ever made. The creators of the show definitely dodged a bullet with all the use of insensitive dialogue and if the show aired in 2018, people probably would not find Mr. Scott to be as funny as he seems. In Kassidy Groner’s article she says “The worst part of Michael isn’t even his terrible attitudes towards other people, though. If he was just a racist, homophobic, sexist character, that would be fine; after all, there are racist, homophobic, sexist people in real life. However, the fact that Michael’s problems are part of his character and that we are supposed to adore and forgive him for these things he’s never even apologized for is a huge problem.” This is crucial to the show because as the viewer we are supposed to forgive him and adore him even though in the previous episode he offended you and your whole family.

I would like to end this with one final quote from Kassidy Groner’s article: “Racism is not forgivable. Sexism is not forgivable. Homophobia is not forgivable. None of these things are just “character flaws,” especially when Michael himself doesn’t understand what he’s done wrong.” In today’s society, none of these things are acceptable to see on television so to see how far we’ve come in a short period of time is kind of inspiring.

LeBron’s Legacy

How will you leave your legacy?

Four-time NBA most valuable player (MVP), two time NBA Champion, two time NBA Finals MVP, 11 time NBA All-Star, two time NBA All-Star game MVP, nine-time All-NBA first team, two time All-NBA second team, five-time NBA All-Defensive first team, 2004 Rookie of the Year, and the 2008 NBA scoring champion. That is the long list of achievements that arguably the best basketball player ever, LeBron James, has accomplished. For the past 16 years he has blessed us again and again with unbelievable talent and ability.  You may not be a basketball fan in any way, yet you know his name. Your mother knows his name too. Your 75 year old professor knows his name as well. So how has LeBron James, who is just an athlete, become a household name? How has LeBron James surpassed everyone one of his colleagues and predecessors in his profession? How has LeBron broken through the threshold of being just an athlete, and cemented his legacy on an entire generation?  LeBron was able to become a great with his success on the court, but more importantly he was able to transcend his status as “just an athlete” and become an icon outside of the arena with his social activism and business ventures. Many dream, few do. LeBron James is a doer.

Childhood

LeBron James was not a troubled youth, but he had a troubled childhood. Born December 30th, 1984 in Akron, Ohio, LeBron grew up impoverished and raised by his single mom Gloria James. He often bounced around places moving more than 10 times, as well as ending up homeless on multiple occasions. All the odds were stacked against him, however with god given ability and a relentless work ethic he beat those odds.

High School

His rise to stardom came quickly. He has been under the limelight since a freshman in high school, just 15 years old. His freshman year he led his team to an undefeated season and a state title. His sophomore year he led his team to a 2nd straight state title. Prior to his junior year he was featured on the cover of Slam Magazine, a very popular basketball outlet. He was garnered as The Chosen One, stating that he was the best high school basketball player ever. His junior year he won The Gatorade National Player of the Year along with Ohio Mr. Basketball, two of the most prestigious awards you can win. He was so good that he petitioned to join the NBA a year early, although he ultimately failed as the rule stated you must complete high school. His senior year he won Gatorade National Player of the Year for the second year in a row and his 3rd state championship in his four years of high school.

NBA

Drafted 1st overall by his hometown team the Cleveland Cavaliers, James took the league by storm, asserting his dominance in his very first game. He won Rookie of the Year following his debut season. Over the next few season he would continue to dominate the league, becoming the best player in the league as a teenager. In 2008 he won his first Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, and would win this award back to back years (2008-2010). He had long been above his peers, but he was beginning to elevate to a level never seen before.

In 2010 he would elect to leave the Cavaliers which generated a lot of backlash. He joined up with another great player, Dwayne Wade, in Miami to play for the Heat. There he would win his first NBA Championship. In his four seasons with the Miami Heat LeBron James won 2 Championships along with 2 MVP’s.

In 2014 he would become a free agent again and return to Cleveland with the promise of bringing the city its very first championship in any professional sports league. He made true to this promise in a historic way. In his first season back he would bring his team to the finals nut lose. In his second season he made history by doing the impossible. His team fell to 3-1 against the Golden State Warriors, who had the best regular season record in NBA History. No team has ever came back from down 3-1, and LeBron James was able to carry his team back from a seemingly impossible deficit and make true of his promise to bring his hometown a long awaited championship.

Once again a free agent during the summer of 2018, James signed a 4-year $153.3 million dollar contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, a historic franchise. For now we have to wait and see how his legacy as a basketball player will continue to grow.

Off the Court

LeBron married his high school sweetheart, Savannah Brinson. They have three children, LeBron James Jr, Bryce Maximus James, and Zhuri Nova James. He has stayed out of trouble his entire life, without even as much as a parking ticket. He endorses brands such as Nike, Dunkin Donuts, Coca-Cola, Beats by Dre, McDonalds, State Farm, and more. He is a prolific business man, staring in multiple movies, appearing on many television programs, and has recently began his own show called The Barber Shop. He is also a part owner of Blaze Pizza, one of the fastest growing pizza chains in the country. He has partnered with HBO, but we do not know yet what he will be releasing with the network.

Activism

LeBron is so much more than basketball. He supports many organizations such as The Boys & Girls Clubs of America and many more. He has his own foundation, The LeBron James Family Foundation. He has donated millions and millions of dollars to the youth and his community. In November of 2017, he opened an elementary school, The “I Promise School” in his hometown of Akron Ohio, where disadvantaged youth are taken in and given opportunities they otherwise would not be able to have. He has also partnered with The University of Akron to give scholarships to up to 2,300 kids. Apart from serving his community, he has always used his platform to push the discussion of controversial topics. He has always been a big voice for the discussion of police brutality. He was a major advocate for Barack Obama, and their close relationship was widely publicized. He has widely shown his disdain for our current president, Donald Trump. After winning the NBA Title in 2016 he decided his team would not visit the White House, which is a tradition for the team who wins the championship. The consequence of this was a public “argument” between the two. LeBron has been quoted in interviews calling Trump a bum and other things.

More than an Athlete 

“The number-one job in America, the appointed person is someone who doesn’t understand the people. And really don’t give a (expletive) about the people. When I was growing up, there was like three jobs that you looked for inspiration … It was the president of the United States, it was whoever was best in sports and it was the greatest musician at the time. You never thought you could be them, but you can grab inspiration from them.”  (USATODAY.COM)

LeBron was quoted during an interview criticizing Donald Trump, to which a Fox News host would cover, insulting and belittling him, and telling him to “shut up and dribble.” This sparked a major movement in sports where athletes are now using their platform to speak on issues that they feel strongly for. This sparked a huge debate about whether or not athletes should be allowed to use their platform to speak on politics. Those brave enough do, and they know the consequences. Collin Kaepernick is an example of an athlete knowing the consequence of using his platform but using it to speak on touchy subjects, and knowing that he is more than an athlete. LeBron has never been scared to use his voice for good, and has always accepted the backlash that it will bring.

LeBron’s Legacy

LeBron will go down in history one as the greatest basketball player of all time as well as a social activist. The reason LeBron has surpassed the status of just an athlete and became an icon is everything he has done for the culture. Aside from his incredible contribution to his community and the youth as a whole, he alone has been able to bring problems such as police brutality to the national forefront and force the nation to discuss these problems. He could have just shut up and dribbled as many athletes do, but he is and has been willing to risk everything he has for the greater good of the nation and his people, and that is why he is so much more than just basketball. Our generation is blessed to have seen his play on the court, but even more blessed to have had such an amazing role model to look up to, whether you have dreams of becoming a basketball player or not. LeBron has come along at the right time, and he will continue to work for you and I, all the while entertaining us with unbelievable talent on the court.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia- Comedy in Reality and Genuinity

By: Dan Weiss

Redefining traditional sitcom standards requires a massive amount of commitment. Being successful in doing so without winning so much as an Emmy, and only the help of a small cult-following is unfathomably difficult. Writing competent and funny material for thirteen years is far more than impressive and yet, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia makes it look easy.

Starring Charlie Day, Kaitlin Olson, Danny DeVito, Glenn Howerton, and Rob McElhenney as the proprietors of Paddy’s Pub, Always Sunny shatters any and all concepts of pushing limits too far. As one of television’s raunchiest comedies, the series takes pride in being unbound by the rules and regulations of television by having its characters in a constant battle to one-up themselves with new and outrageous schemes to sabotage the lives of others.

Always Sunny has been lauded as sort of anti-sitcom, one that does not conform to typical trends. Despite premiering in 2005, television’s five most notorious, loud-mouthed, self-obsessed, manipulative, Philadelphian bar workers have somehow continued to top themselves for more than a decade into the show’s existence.  But what specifically makes the antics of Philadelphia’s favorite group of miscreants so enjoyable for our consumption?

Redefining the Sitcom

When thinking of popular sitcoms, there are a few that likely come to the minds of most: Friends, How I Met Your Mother, perhaps The Big Bang Theory. While all successful in their own distinct way, they each share an embarrassingly similar plot centered around broken young adults trying find their place in the world, but incapable of doing so until they discover the necessity of maturity by falling in love with their friends. It’s heartwarming, inspiring, and digestible for the viewer. It’s also really played out.

In comes Sunny with a cast of characters more than okay with being at the bottom of the food chain. Very rarely do the characters oppose the low income, poor hygiene, destructive habits, and disregard for the consequences of their own actions that the majority of the series is built upon. Few attempts at bettering themselves are made and the group is more than self-aware of this. Rather than improving over time, the gang gets vastly out of shape, ruins the lives of many unfortunate bystanders caught in the crossfire of their schemes, and become even more extreme in their self-obsession.

The Gang

This exaggeration of defining traits has plagued many series, especially those with a longevity similar to Sunny. But while a curse to many,  the cartoonish nature of the gang’s chemistry actually works in the show’s favor. The gang is comprised less of characters, rather caricatures; reflections of the worst that the human experience has to offer.  Because they have no obligation to move forward in life, the exaggeration of the gang never seems to clash with their desires and is more enjoyable to witness as a result.

Embracing the Descent

When watching a series such as Friends,  do you ever take the time to stop and notice how the characters seem to stay just as youthful in their looks over time? Their teeth glow whiter, their tans are just a tinge darker, and facial wrinkles are anything but existent. How do those six New Yorkers so successfully hold off Father Time? Sunny creator and star Rob McElhenney   demonstrated the absurdity of this by taking his character, Mac, in a completely different direction. By consuming 5,000 calories a day, McElhenny risked long-term health concerns just to commit to the joke of “Fat Mac” in order to portray a more realistic depiction of the aging process.

Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia Mac GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

And it’s not just Mac- the group as a whole has addressed, in character, the inevitability of growing older. In the episode “The Gang Misses the Boat”, Charlie, Dee, Frank, Dennis, and Mac all try unsuccessfully to reinvent themselves in order to resist becoming complacent with their lives. But as in all episodes of Sunny, the gang ultimately ends up back at Paddy’s where they are most comfortable. The episode demonstrated the show’s self-awareness that no amount of hiding the gang’s growth and progression (or lack thereof)  is going to make the show any funnier. Rather, embracing the aches and pains of once optimistic young adults who are now looking at the best of their lives in the rear view mirror is far more effective. Turns out, slapping a sticker that says “New!” on an old cast isn’t always the best move.

Less is More

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has been nominated for three Emmy’s. Three.  And yet, despite making a fair argument for being the funniest show on television over the past decade, the cast and creators don’t complain or try to remold themselves into what Hollywood may prefer them to be. Never has this been more apparent than in the episode, “The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award”. In the episode, the gang grows jealous of a flashier bar that wins an award . We watch as Paddy’s Pub’s finest bend over backwards, trying to be everything that the awards panel values in a bar.  The gang hilariously decorates, dresses up, and plays music in ways that are inconsistent with the vibe of the gang and Paddy’s itself. Ultimately, the gang realizes its mistake and goes back to basics, embracing the Pub for the hole-in-the-wall, dive bar that it is. In doing so, the writers essentially spoke to  Hollywood through the characters as if to say, “We never needed you guys anyway”.

The Gang at Paddy’s Pub

Bold? A bit. True to itself and its fans? Very. Fans poured in widespread acclaim for what is now considered to be one of the series’ most beloved episodes. For the show that has fostered less of a fan base and more of a community, much of the appreciation derives from Sunny’s humble beginnings and niche appeal. Beginning with a pilot episode that reportedly cost a maximum of $200, the show embraced a meek start that preached not needing famous actors and outlandish production costs to be funny and endearing. In addition, with the show’s move from FX to FXX, certain restrictions that limited the creativity of the writers were lifted, contributing to its fringe appeal. In a 2011 interview, Charlie Day stated, “I’m not even sure if [the network] realizes we’re still making a show over there… there’s an additional ‘X’ now and nobody knows where we are.”

 Avoiding the Realm of TV Writing

Charlie Day, Kaitlin Olson, Danny DeVito, Glenn Howerton, and Rob McElhenney don’t just play the characters, they are the characters. The roles of Charlie, Dee, Frank, Dennis, and Mac were all written for and by the actors that portray them, respectively. Because of this, the actors are extremely hands on with the writing process and have an impressive amount of control on what directions their characters move in. Even thirteen seasons into the series, when many teams would have turned the burden over to an extensive writing crew, the characters still feel incredibly fresh and true to themselves. This further improves the relatability that the fans feel toward the show, as it is a largely authentic experience.

However, no series is flawless, and Always Sunny is no exception. The current season has widely been under fire for being less funny than its early-season counterparts. Fansided’s C.L. Kohuss reviewed the episode as a “mixed bag” and claimed the line “I feel like I’m forcing it” is “probably the best way anyone could sum up the premiere”. Largely a result of the absence of Glenn Howerton, who was unable to participate in every episode due to landing a role in a side project, the chemistry of the gang has noticeably been at a disadvantage. In the season 13 premiere, the gang struggles to coexist in the absence of its most psychotic member, Howerton’s “Dennis Reynolds”.  After nearly folding under the pressure of trying to hide  the group’s obvious missing part, Dennis makes a triumphant return just in time to usher in the new season.

Impressively, despite being without arguably the show’s most iconic character for multiple episodes, at no point did the current season slip into what felt like predictable, cliched, TV writing. The brilliance of the actors/writers was once again on display by immediately addressing the issue at hand, and beating the critics to their own game in the most recent season’s premiere episode.

Season thirteen’s opener acted as a self-critique, with everything from the humor to the pace feeling purposely just a bit…off. “It’s not that the producers purposefully made a bad episode of television to prove a point, but they did make a dysfunctional episode of television to illustrate why they need each member of the original gang to keep making the show they want to make” said IndieWire’s Ben Travers. No matter the case, when Howerton’s “Dennis Reynolds” has been present, fans and critics alike are reminded of just how strong the series is when back at full strength.

Dennis Reynolds

A Modern Day Masterpiece

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia deserves every amount of praise thrown its way, critical or not. And to be quite honest, the fans, actors, and writers would want it no other way. The series isn’t special because of the attention it gets, rather because of the attention it deserves, but doesn’t get. Never before has such a unique sitcom flipped a concept on its head and done so ,all while being true to itself and proud of it.

Why Queen is One of the Most Iconic Bands of All Time

By Zoe Singer

Whether you have listened to them on the radio, or experienced another artist cover them, I am sure you have heard of the band, Queen. While they are a band of the past, Queen is still one of the most commercially successful, innovative and iconic bands of all time, as they broke barriers with their creativity and inspired people to step out of the box. Their unique style, exceptional music, and excessiveness are some of the main factors that drove them to success.

 

Background

So, if you have not heard of them, Queen was a British rock band that formed in 1970, which included lead singer Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May, bassist John Deacon, and drummer Roger Taylor. They formed in 1970, and stayed together until 1991, following Freddie Mercury’s death. Freddie often described them as, “four misfits who don’t belong together.” He also claimed their mission statement to be, “We’re playing for the other misfits. And the outcasts right in the back of the room, we’re pretty sure they don’t belong either. We belong to them.” Queen knew that they were different, but because they embraced those differences, they went on to be one of the greatest bands the world had ever seen.

How did Queen come to be?

You may be wondering how did one of the greatest bands of all time come together? To put it shortly, fate. Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor had already been playing in a band together called Smile. Freddie Mercury had just so happened to attend one of their gigs and instantly became a fan, following them and attending more of their shows very often. After learning that the lead singer had quit, Mercury quickly joined the band, with May and Taylor’s approval, and became the new lead singer. Under Mercury’s influence, they changed their name to Queen. They soon recruited bassist, John Deacon, and the rest is history. This was the start of a lifelong friendship, timeless music, and an extremely successful career.

Queen’s sound & success

What makes Queen so different from any other rock band? Queen was extremely experimental with their music, a factor that makes them very unique. They experimented with different sounds and used elaborate recording techniques that many peopled did not think would work. They pushed their music into different genres such as glam rock, heavy metal, and progressive rock. However, they also incorporated diverse and innovative styles in their music, exploring the likes of vaudeville, electronic music and funk. The way they approached music was just so different than anything that was ever seen or heard before, a refreshing change for the rock and roll world. Queen truly created music that came from their inner thoughts and soul. I believe that the meaning of their band was to provide music that was true, and to get people thinking. They were never scared to put themselves out on a limb, and were not afraid to fail when trying new things.

Aside from their unique sound, Queen also presented a unique style within their wardrobe, visuals, and stage presence. The alluring lighting rigs during performances and Freddie Mercury’s over the top costumes are just two examples that demonstrate Queen’s excessiveness and uniqueness. They were free spirited and unafraid to put themselves out there in any aspect. Another factor that made Queen extraordinary, would be how they are often described as a people’s band, as they found ways to incorporate crowd participation into their music. An example of this would be their famous hit single, We Will Rock YouThis song was written by guitarist Brian May, as a way for Queen to really connect to their audience. Following Queen’s lead, the crowd learned to incorporate the now well known “stomp stomp clap” beat throughout the song, while Queen performed.

 

In addition to their uniqueness, Queen was also extremely successful. The band successfully prevailed during the 1970’s & 1980’s, releasing several hits that dominated the charts. Their top single, Bohemian Rhapsody, was released in 1975 and remained number one on the charts for nine weeks straight. It then again hit number one for five weeks in 1991, shortly following Mercury’s death. This made Queen the first band to ever top the charts with the same song twice. Their Greatest Hits album, released in 1981, has sold over 6.0 million copies, becoming the UK’s best-selling album of all time. Even though Freddie Mercury is commonly credited for writing most of Queen’s hit songs, each band member contributed and has made Queen the only band in history who has had a number one single written by each member. In total, Queen has had 25 top hit singles, only falling behind the Beatles, who have had 27.

As well as producing numerous hits, Queen is also known for their phenomenal stage presence and live performances. Despite touring around the world and playing an estimated 700 concerts throughout their career, Queen’s most famous performance was Live Aid in 1985 at Wembley Stadium, in front of a crowd of 72,000. Queen’s performance followed U2, and artists such as David Bowie and Elton John followed Queen, but it is safe to say that Queen’s performance had won the audience over. Backstage, Elton John had said to them,“You bastards,” “You stole the show!” Their stage presence and 20-minute performance was nothing short of amazing. Brian May had stated, “That was entirely down to Freddie,” “The rest of us played okay, but Freddie was out there and took it to another level.” May also added, “It was the greatest day of our lives!” To this day, Queen’s performance at Live Aid is still considered to be one of the most iconic performances of all time. Dave Grohl, the front man of the Foo Fighters has said, “Every band should study Queen at Live Aid.” Many artists today look up to Queen’s Live Aid performance as a model.

Queen’s impact on other artists

Many popular artists today have said that they have been influenced by Queen, but especially by Freddie Mercury. Emily Brown of UNILAD.com provided examples from Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Kurt Cobain of how Queen has impacted their life. One example from this article that specifically stuck out to me was that Lady Gaga had actually chosen her stage name because of Queen’s hit song, Radio Gaga. She stated, “I adored Freddie Mercury and Queen had a song called Radio Gaga. That’s why I love the name. Freddie was unique – one of the biggest personalities in the whole of pop music. He was not only a singer but also a fantastic performer.” In addition to her stage name, Lady Gaga’s music and excessive style follow the example given by Queen’s exaggerated stage presence. Similar to Queen, she too is an artist who is unafraid to put herself out there and break barriers with her creativity.

Even though many artists that are popular today were fairly young during Queen’s reign, their music still had a strong impact on them. Taylor Hawkins, drummer for the Foo Fighters, shared one of his personal experiences from attending a Queen concert, stating, “It’s kind of a bummer when Queen is your first concert because it’s kind of only downhill from there. 1982, I was ten years old and I’ll never forget it. I saw my life flash before me at that concert.” Queen’s music and performances have influenced him so much, he has even stated, “I based my entire career off it!” Because of Queen’s influence, the Foo Fighters have compiled years worth of covers, collaborations and Hall of Fame inductions to show just how deep the band’s obsession and influence runs.

Many artists today have chosen to cover and recreate some of Queen’s greatest hits because of their impact on them. A few examples include Shawn Mendes recently releasing a cover of Under Pressure , 5 Seconds of Summer recently covering Killer Queen , and Panic! At the Disco covering Bohemian Rhapsody for the film, Suicide Squad. Covers and recreations of Queen’s greatest hits allows their music to still be heard today and experienced in a new way, keeping the spirit of Queen alive.

Queen’s relevance today

If Queen prevailed in the 70’s and 80’s why are they still relevant today, you might ask. Even though it’s been years since Queen has performed, I believe they still remain one the greatest and most iconic bands in music history because they have created unique, classic and inspiring songs that will never get old. Regardless of the fact that music has changed over time and continues to change, Queen’s music still remains timeless. Their music today is still played on the radio, often used for commercials and ads, and their hit, We are the Champions, is one of the most commonly played “victory” songs for sporting events.

As many bands of the past have become irrelevant to newer generations as time has gone on, why has Queen remained timeless? Gennaro Castaldo of the British Phonographic Industry stated, “Their music speaks to all ages and across different generations, while also connecting with cultures around the world, they are adored in South America and Southern Europe, for example. Like the Beatles, they are one of the most accessible and immediately recognizable acts in music history.” I agree with this statement and believe that Queen is abiding because their music is empathetic for people of all ages and backgrounds. They do not just fall into one genre or stereotype, which is another factor that makes them so recognizable and has allowed their music to remain timeless.

Similarly, writers from UNILAD.com had spoken to Nick Braae, a music professor who had studied Queen in the past, about why he thinks the music Queen created has managed to remain so popular through the decades. Braae stated, “Queen frequently sang about themes that have a universal quality; searching for love, family and relationship challenges, growing up, understanding one’s identity – none of which are confined to a particular historical time.” He also added, “As listeners, I think we empathize a lot with the songs of Queen; they invite us to emotionally invest in them, and because the singers seem real and genuine, we are only too willing to go along for the ride.” Queen’s distinct sound and ability to relate to all people, regardless of their differences, makes them so exemplary and has made their music enduring.

  

Movie Debut

After nearly 50 years since the formation of the band, and 27 years since Mercury’s death, a film about Queen is finally emerging. On November 2, 2018, Bohemian Rhapsody will hit theaters. The film focuses on Queen, beginning from their early days, but especially on Freddie Mercury, and how he broke barriers and stereotypes to become one of the most beloved performers in the world. Critics have said Rami Malek, who portrays Freddie Mercury within the film, gave an outstanding performance, and there is already talk about an Oscar nominationBohemian Rhapsody is expected to reach the top of box offices, outshining other successful films released this year, such as A Star is Born and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again. The making of this film  just goes to show that Queen has left such a strong impact, that even after all these years people still admire them and are intrigued to see a film about them.

Conclusion

In today’s music culture, I feel as though many performers and artists will often tend to do what the audience or producers want or expect of them. I believe that Queen was the complete opposite, as they performed how they wanted, and composed music how they wanted, unafraid of the criticisms that could have followed. Queen reminds us that genres and stereotypes really do not matter. They pulled together all influences to be their unique selves, which is why I believe they are one of the greatest, innovative, and iconic bands of all time.

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Why Batman v. Superman’s version of Batman is a poor representation of his character

By: John Rogers

*Spoilers Ahead*

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“You’re beginning to get the idea, Clark. We could have changed the world…now…look at us…I’ve become a political liability…and…you…you’re a joke. I want you to remember, Clark…in all the years to come…in your most private moments…I want you to remember…my hand…at your throat…I want…you to remember…the one man who beat you.” (Frank Miller “The Dark Knight Returns 1986) 

This is the speech Batman says to Superman after he defeats him in the final part of Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” from 1986, this speech still gives me chills every time I read it.  When comic readers think of Batman this is the version most think about, so when director Zack Snyder announced that his version of Batman would be very closely based off of Frank Miller’s fans were very excited.  Instead,  once the movie came out fans got a version of Batman who murders, uses guns, is barely a detective, and fights Superman for basically no reason.

During the Batman and Superman fight in the film, Batman does defeat Superman but once he is standing over him, Batman doesn’t give a chilling monologue, he stands over him screaming incoherently as he prepares to kill him.

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This version of Batman is so far from Frank Miller’s version, its almost like they are two different characters.

Plot(Comic)

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The story of the comic begins in a dystopian 1986, a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne has given up being Batman for ten years, this was caused by the death of the second Robin Jason Todd.  During his time away, a gang called the Mutants has been running rampant through streets of Gotham, causing death and destruction everywhere they went.   After seeing a broadcast of “The Mask of Zorro”, Bruce Wayne is reminded of the night his parents were murdered and leaps back into action as Batman.  Through the duration of the comic, Batman defeats the Mutant gang, recruits a new Robin named Carrie Kelly, has run-ins with old adversaries like Two-Face and The Joker, and defeats his longtime friend Superman after the government wanted to arrest the Dark Knight.  After the climactic battle between Batman and Superman, Batman suffers a heart attack and seemingly dies, but after his funeral, we learn that Bruce Wayne faked his death and plans to continue his war on crime from the shadows.

Plot(Film)

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The film “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” is a sequel to the film “Man of Steel”, it takes place two years after Superman defeated General Zod in Metropolis.  After witnessing the destruction in Metropolis, Bruce Wayne comes out of seclusion and becomes Batman once more.  Throughout the film, Batman and Superman have multiple encounters not only as their super personas but also as their secret identities Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent.  The two heroes towards the end up in a brawl that ends with them teaming up with Wonder Woman to fight the monster Doomsday who was created by Lex Luthor.  The film ends with Superman sacrificing himself to defeat Doomsday and Batman vowing to become a better hero.

Crossing the Line

 

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“But there he IS, Dick– the Mutant leader…a kind of evil we never DREAMED of…there he is…square in my sights. And there’s only one thing to do about him that makes any sense to me — just press the trigger and blast him from the face of the Earth. Though that means crossing a line I drew for myself, thirty years ago…I just can’t think of a single reason to let him live.” (Frank Miller “The Dark Knight Returns” 1986)

The scene depicted above is Batman imagining he is talking to his first partner Dick Grayson, who was the first Robin, on whether he should kill the leader of the Mutant Gang, which has been terrorizing Gotham City in the months before Bruce Wayne came back as Batman.  Batman made a vow that he would never take the life of another, knowing it would send him down a path he could never come back from.  He views every life as sacred no matter how horrible of acts that person has committed.

Batman in this story has never killed anyone, but he still feels guilty for those he could not save, this is especially true in the case of The Joker.  Around the halfway point of the story, we learn that since the disappearance of Batman in 1976, the Joker went into a catatonic state, but once Batman reappears on national television, The Joker sees that he has a purpose once again stating “Batman…Darling.” The Joker than fakes becoming sane to get out of custody and then goes on a murder spree to punish Batman for leaving him for so long.

The Joker leads Batman through an amusement park until they are both trapped in a Tunnel of Love, Batman savagely beats The Joker saying “No more! All the people I’ve murdered…by letting you live.”   During their battle Batman finally loses control and breaks The Joker’s neck, paralyzing him, but not killing him, after realizing what he has done Batman drops to his knees in shame.  Realizing he finally got Batman to lose control, Joker sadistically smiles and says “I’ll…see you in Hell” and frames Batman for his murder by breaking his own neck.  This shows that Batman feels responsible for the death of innocents that he indirectly caused, not to mention how guilty he would feel if he actually killed criminals.

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This is very different to how Batman acts in the film, Batman indiscriminately kills criminals.  Whether it be through running people over in the Batmobile or using weapons or his bare fists to murder and maim criminals.  There are two examples of how Batman kills, directly and indirectly, the first example of this is in the last act of the film, Superman has asked Batman to save his mother from Lex Luthor; Luthor has put Martha Kent in a warehouse outside of Metropolis.  Batman then breaks into the warehouse and kills multiple people in the brawl, one particularly brutal when he throws a heavy crate at a thug and he cracks his skull against the brick wall.  The second example is he indirectly kills criminals by branding them with a bat symbol, it is later explained that criminals who have been branded by the Bat have been assaulted and killed in prisons.

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The Weapon of a Coward

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“A gun is a coward’s weapon. A liar’s weapon. We kill… too often.. because we’ve made it easy.. too easy.. sparing ourselves the mess.. and the work.” (Frank Miller “The Dark Knight Returns” 1986).

The scene depicted in this panel is when an EMP has knocked out the power in Gotham City, Batman is rallying what was left of The Mutant Gang to fight for him and become a new gang called The Sons of Batman.  Batman is describing to them how he operates, which means no guns, only fists, batarangs, and the mind.  Ever since the death of his parents, Batman has had an aversion to using live ammunition on criminals.  He views the use of guns is only meant as beneath him and the weapons of those who are weak (meaning men like The Joker, and the man who murdered his parents Joe Chill).

Batman in the film, however, does not feel this way, in multiple scenes throughout the movie he is seen using live ammunition to kill criminals.  The Batmobile and the Batwing in the film are outfitted with multiple heavy machine guns that he uses to mow down multiple thugs in a few different scenes.

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Batman from “The Dark Knight Returns” is not averse to using weapons in a non-lethal matter, like the Bat Tank which is outfitted with rubber bullets, it is meant for riot control not to maim the recipient.

 The World’s Greatest Detective

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In this scene, Batman is disguised as a bag lady in order to spy on criminals he wishes to interrogate, this is one of the many techniques Batman uses in his war on crime.  Batman is not only just a brute who attacks from the shadows but he is regarded as “The World’s Greatest Detective”, meaning he is one of the smartest individuals in D.C. Comics.

Another instance where Batman uses his intellect in the comic is when he fights the leader of The Mutant Gang, Batman understands that because of his age he is slower than the leader even though he matches him in strength.  So Batman lures him into a trap, where he is in complete control of the situation.  His brutality in this scene isn’t random, it’s almost surgical in its execution, as Batman states while breaking the Leader’s leg “You don’t get it, boy… this isn’t a mudhole… its an operating table. (KRAKKKKK) And I’m the surgeon.” (Frank Miller “The Dark Knight Returns” 1986) 

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This is completely different in the film, Batman is not prepared for anything throughout the movie until the end.  Throughout the movie, Batman struggles to keep up with other characters, Batman is usually the one who tells other characters what is happening.  He is the last to figure out who Superman’s secret identity is, he is last to find out about the other metahumans Lex Luthor is spying on, and he is not in control when he fights Superman towards the end of the film.  The Batman in the film relies more on his brute strength and fear tactics other than what Batman is known for, his brilliant mind.

Mutual Respect

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The climax of “The Dark Knight Returns” involves a historic battle between the two titans of D.C. Comics, Batman vs. Superman.  Unlike the movie, however, this battle isn’t fought because of mistrust, it’s because of broken trust.  From the time of Batman’s retirement in the mid-70’s superheroism has been outlawed by the government.  Most of the Justice League went into retirement, Superman instead of quietly settling down, he chose to become a government stooge.  Batman strongly disagreed with Superman’s decision to do this by saying “You sold us out, Clark. You gave them the power that should have been ours. Just like your parents taught you. My parents taught me a different lesson… lying on this street… shaking in deep shock… dying for no reason at all. They showed me that the world only makes sense when you force it to.” (Frank Miller “The Dark Knight Rises” 1986)  Batman felt betrayed, that is why these two fought so savagely at the end of the book.

In the film, the reason Batman and Superman fight each other is that they do not trust each other, Batman saw the destruction Superman caused in Metropolis when he and General Zod fought and was prepared to kill him to prevent another disaster like that.  Superman was just upset at the way Batman conducted his heroics in Gotham City.  This has much less of an impact than a broken friendship.

Backlash

After Batman v. Superman came out fans and critics were disappointed, RogerEbert.com writes  ” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is state of the art epic superhero filmmaking. That’s a compliment if you prefer these movies to be ponderous, disorganized and glum, but a warning if you prefer tonal variation from film to film and scene to scene, and have a soft spot for storytelling that actually tells, you know, a story, as opposed to doing an occasionally inspired but mostly just competent job of setting up the next chapter in a Marvel-styled franchise.” A. O. Scott from the New York Times writes “The corporations that produce movies like this one, and the ambitious hacks who sign up to make them, have no evident motive beyond their own aggrandizement.”  The backlash against this movie is justified not only for its many unnecessary plotlines, drab tone, and most of all it’s poor portrayal of Batman.  Batman is special in many hearts of comic readers, so when the movie promised to portray one of the most iconic versions of the character, and betray almost every aspect that made the character great, the backlash is definitely justified.

 

Is “Parks and Recreation” Underrated?

By: Karissa Zechman

*SPOILERS IN THIS*

Binging shows have become a big thing among people nowadays. Rather than watching tv shows, people are watching netflix or hulu.  The Office, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, and Breaking Bad are just a few of the most popular binge shows. A recent show I have binge watched a few time snow is Parks and Recreation. It takes place in Pawnee, Indiana. It follows a life in the parks department and stars Leslie Knope. She loves government and everything involved. This shows goes through several lifes and the problematic events. I’ll be honest, the first episode isn’t the greatest but it will get better. Here are some of the reasons Parks and Recreation (P&R) is totally underrated:

The Characters

From left to right: Andy, April, Ron, Ben, Leslie, Chris, Ann, Tom, Donna, and Jerry.

There are 10 character’s lives that the show explores. They each have their own personality and attitudes that make this show what it is. Andy is the fun, goofy, and loving. He works as a shoe shiner in the government building.  April is the one who hates people but has a soft side when it comes to what she’s passion about. She is an intern that becomes Ron’s secretary. Ron is sorta a father figure to April since they both don’t like people. Ben who becomes Leslie’s husband, is an accounting nerd and who failed at being mayor at age 18. Leslie is the most determined and workaholic person in this show. Chris is Ben’s best friend and becomes city manager of Pawnee. He is very fit and all about fitness. Ann becomes Leslie’s best friend after a hole in Ann’s neighborhood was planned to be turned into a park. She is a nurse and one of the nicest people in the show. Tom is sarcastic government worker. Donna is completely confident. Her and Tom do a “treat yo-self” day which involves spa and shopping day. Lastly, Jerry aka Garry, Larry, and Terry is one of the nicest character and has the warmest heart.

 

These character all have different personalities but that’s what makes this show so great. If any of them had a different one the show wouldn’t click the same. All of them are relatable and you could imagine a family or friend as one of them or even yourself. These characters aren’t hard to like at all. There are many side characters that are in a lot of episodes but not the main focus. Some are boyfriends/girlfriends or wives that play a big part in one of the main character’s lives. Even those characters affect the story plot and make you love the main characters even more.

If it’s even possibly like the characters more is their struggle. Their life struggle is something everyone deals with. Starting from love lives to being completely drunk to being there for your best friends. On a night of Leslie’s endorsement party (when she runs for city council) she says, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to endorse 10 beers into my mouth, cause this has been an incredibly stressful evening”. If you say you can’t relate to that, your lying.

The one and only Leslie Knope

Leslie Knope is a daughter of a government official, a best friend, and a wife (5th season.. Go Ben!). She is an ambitious hard worker. When she was younger, her goals were to become a government official. She was the deputy for the Parks and Rec Department. Leslie is one of the reasons this show is great. She cares for everyone she meets. She thinks of the department as her family.  She tries to be a mother figure for her coworkers and friends. She is one of the most supportive friends especially for Ann (her bff). “You know my code, hoes before bros. Uteruses before duderuses. Ovaries before brovaries.” is a quote from the one and only Leslie Knope. Leslie has taught all of us that friendship is what matters at the end of the day. Leslie is what makes Parks and Recreation a top show to watch.

Food is her best friend, especially Waffles from JJ’s. Her motto is Waffles, Friends, Work or something in that order with work being 3rd. Her and Ron are complete opposites which is why it is so great. he one thing they agree on is food and how great it is (but come on who wouldn’t agree). She adores Ron and loves him dearly. At first Ron disliked Leslie because of her love for government and his hate. After years of working together they become much like brother and sister. Leslie is so persistent that it can seem annoying but it is all out of love.

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Throughout the 7 seasons of P&R, there were many relationships either between the main characters or some without. The relationships in P&R are realistic that someone could relate to it. To start off the seasons, Ann & Andy were dating since they were in college. They broke up during the first season. Ann moved on but Andy hadn’t. At one point Andy and April start to become a thing and Ann gets jealous. This is something that everyone could connect to feeling. Leslie and Ben are the dream couple. They both are nerdy, goofy, and funny that makes them lovable.

Ben and Leslie are usually compared to Jim and Pam of The Office. Ben is said to be better than Jim towards their wives. Eric Conner from ranker made a list of 14 reason why Ben is better. The one that stuck out the most was “Leslie’s Happiness is Ben’s #1 Job”.  Every girl wants a guy like Ben who will do anything to be with you and stick with you till the end. Leslie and Ben never kept any secrets about buying or having a new job. (Jim did both). Jim isn’t a horrible husband but he is no Ben Wyatt.

Andy and April are also a top couple. They are the weird couple but completely lovable. They’re goofy but personalities are complete opposite.  They start to date after somewhat flirting and unsure if they like each other. After dating, April expressed her love to Andy and they get married on the spur-of-the-moment. They get a house together and Ben ends up moving in when Ben decides to stay in Pawnee. They don’t have furniture, silverware or plates, and barely any food. They are still a child at heart when they buy nerf guns instead of actual household items.

The Office

 

A big question that comes up about P&R is The Office. Which one is better show. They are made by the same producers and originally P&R was suppose to be a spin off. However, plans changed and it became its own show. What makes Parks and Rec so great is the women empowerment. Leslie Knope does not take no for an answer when it comes to something she is determined. She wants to be a council woman and fights to become that with the other 4 being men. Happy Feminism stated, “She inspires me to be a better person, citizen, friend, woman, and really any other role I could play. Even though she is just a fictional character, the women who inspire her are real women with very real accomplishments”. The way Leslie is played shows real life experiences anyone can deal with. The Office doesn’t truly ever show women empowerment. They have Jan Levinson but she doesn’t last long.

Parks and Recreation sticks to being positive, joyful, and hope in every episode. Margaret Lyons from Vulture says, “I could take or leave the time jump itself, but each episode is committed to the characters in ways that are largely appropriate: Everything that’s happening for April and Andy is exactly their blend of sense and nonsense, Donna and Tom’s futuristic treating themselves was magical, and Leslie and Ben’s commitment to each other is unflagging and aspirational.” This is what the show is about. The characters stay true to themselves and that is what makes them relatable. The Office has some stuff that could be relatable but there are some that are far fetched to someones normal life.

You’ll regret it if you don’t watch it

 

Parks and Recreation is one show that is totally underrated. It has so many relatable characters and moments almost everyone can relate to. The show starts slow and stumbling but after the first couple episodes it took off. It’s tough to start to start a show like this. Believe me, you need to watch this if you haven’t. It is hilarious in a silly way rather than cringy. This 7 season show wasn’t drawn out. It ended right when it needed to. It does not feel like the producers held onto something that wasn’t there. It is number 8 on best sitcom shows. That’s pretty good when looking at shows like 30 rock, Big Bang Theory, and Frazier. This show has happy, sad, stressful, and beyond exciting moments. This show has been underrated because it keeps getting compared to The Office. Parks and Recreation is one of the best shows to watch and you’ll end up binge watching it. I honestly couldn’t stop watching. 

Are Participation Trophies Building a Kids’ Confidence or Tearing Them Down?

By: Joshua LeViere

Participation is the action of taking part in something. This goes for anything from going to work or helping in a class project. Participation is just a normal part of life for even the most remote human being. So, why do we believe that giving a kid a trophy for doing something that is commonly considered a smart idea. These “trophies”, are nothing more than a way to coddle kids into a false sense of achievement.

In 2004 there was an episode of “Yes Dear” that touched on the idea of participation trophies and their effect on kids. Dominic receives trophies at his school Olympics even after coming in last place in all the events. Jimmy. Dominic’s dad, felt that these trophies were useless and gave these kids a false sense of winning when they lost. While Jimmy was discussing this Dominic overheard him and seemed upset, which made Jimmy distraught and think his beliefs on these trophies was misguided.

As a young adult who had grown up receiving plenty of these  useless awards, I look at them as an act of shame towards the skills of an athlete. I was always told to not just work hard in competitions but, in life. It seems that anything worthwhile is something that takes extensive amounts of time to be attained. Well, at the end of the season when I saw every single kid get a trophy; even the kids who I knew had no reason to have one. I began to question if these medals held any form of significance whatsoever.

While people may be under some notion that these trophies allow kids to not have to deal with the feeling of failure, it discredits the kids who have truly earned recognition for their abilities. Johnathan Fader, a sports psychologist, believes that treating all kids as if they are winners can become bad for their self-esteem. In a poll conducted Reason Magazine, 57% of people believe that only winners should get trophies. Kids may be young but still can discern right from wrong information.

Just imagine, you are considered to be a young prodigy in a certain competition, whether that is some sport like soccer or a battle of wits like chess, when even after you win you still feel as if you were not properly awarded for your natural-born ability. You would begin to wonder if all the work you put in was even worth it in the end. Why would you continue to push yourself to get better if mediocrity was considered a success?

Now, put yourself in the shoes of the kid who knows that in this type of activity, your personal talents have little to no use in this matter. You lack the skills needed to be great, and to add on to that people still want to tell you that you are a “winner”. Then, you get a little medal, the thing that should build your confidence which, becomes the relic that causes you to doubt whenever someone compliments you about the things that you have a knack for.

Kids are not unaware of the world around them, even though many parents want so desperately for that to be true. They know what they like or are good at compared to others but, they also know the things that they struggle with. So, these little awards can become more of a burden on a young, aspiring child instead of something that they look for as a source of their happiness. Torie Bosche claims, that these trophies are “worse than no recognition—they were a sop, an insulting suggestion that a trinket could trick you into feeling like you accomplished something.”

Parents want to try to shield their little ones from the cold, hard truth of the world which, is why these false rewards have stuck around for so long but, this ends up being counterproductive. While many people may not want to admit it, these fake accolades create a small sense of entitlement within children. They will grow up thinking that the world owes them something for their existence.

A common thought for those people who do not like the idea of recognition for participation is that it is not realistic in the job industry. Just showing up at work or even school and doing what is expected of you does not call for a celebration. No employer congratulates an employee for doing the exact thing that they are paid to do. Sadly, that is not how the “real world” works.

Remy Abrams, creates a compelling argument on this topic with a main focus point being “winning a trophy collects five minutes of pride and a lifetime of dust, but giving 100 percent and finishing what you started collects a lifetime of irreplaceable self-confidence.” At the end of the day, hard work usually pays off more than just sitting around waiting for something promising to fall into your lap.

Opposing these thoughts, Parker Abate had a post in the New York Times that describes why he feels that these trophies have an importance. “In addition to acknowledging their effort, participation trophies or certificates, remind them that they were part of a team. It will be very hard to go far in the “real world” without understanding team work. Participation awards begin to instill the idea in a child’s mind that working with a unit can lead to success. Does success always mean coming in first? No. Success can mean working collaboratively and becoming a team.”

Abate makes valid points but, kids tend to learn how to work together just from going to school. Rewarding kids for acting like a team could push kids to forget about individuality. They might think that the only way to be successful is with help which is far from the truth. Many entrepreneurs have become very successful believing in themselves and their own hard work.

Each kid is different, so how they respond to success and failure would be different. Some may get success once, then lose all motivation the first-time things do not go their way. It is easier to change this mentality at a young age rather than wait for them to figure it out on their own. The other kids might taste failure and push themselves to never experience that again but, with help from parents this could prove to be extremely effective.

Even professional athletes have their own say on the topic. James Harrison, an NFL athlete, strips his sons of any of the participation trophies that they receive because, he wants them to earn an award for their talents. He states that he fully supports his kids but, he doesn’t want them to think that life is made out to be easy with free gifts. Harrison, being a former walk-on in college knows all about receiving praise for his hard work when he truly deserves it.

In this case, I feel Harrison’s plan of attack may seem like a bit of an overkill but, it makes perfect sense. Whenever I got some award for participation, either I would get rid of it or use it as a hat rack. I still have most of my old awards for true accomplishments but, I cannot remember the last time I kept a trophy that felt worthless to me.

While some people may like James Harrison’s approach, Kobe Bryant a retired NBA Champion has used a different method. His daughters came in fourth place for a basketball tournament which they were not pleased with. They did not want to accept their trophy but, Bryant told them to receive their awards. When asked why, he said, “Well listen, get the fourth place trophy, go home. You take the fourth place trophy, you put it up right where you can see it, and when you wake up in the morning, you look at the trophy and you remind yourself of what you’ll never win again.”

I think this method is a healthy motivator that could be used effectively, especially with Kobe Bryant’s proven track record. It is extremely hard to believe that many people would share this same mindset. In reference to Kobe’s mentality, thinking like this would help those kids who know how imbecilic participation trophies are but, the parents who want to use them as crutches to keep their child from being upset would still not be able to adjust.

Right now, it looks like these awards are not going anywhere anytime soon. They will continue to be a main contributor used to try and build confidence, even if the kids are not looking for approval. Parents need to take this opportunity to show their children what losing is, instead of suppressing the benefits of failure.

Once participation trophies become a thing of the past, I believe that people will begin to feel less pressure to be great in every situation and learn to specialize their talents. Albert Einstein wrote it best, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Trophies should find their way back to what they started out as which, is the idea of being given to those who deserve them. Seeing another person win something you want, should be the catalyst that pushes you to put in greater amounts of effort and propel you to work more diligently towards your life goals. Without competition, lives would never improve and they would remain stagnant.

Back to “Yes Dear”, the following week Dominic improved his athletic ability and came in 3rd place in a race. After this he was give trophy that he earned and was proud of. Dominic told Jimmy that he had practiced all week because he wanted a real trophy that wasn’t garbage. Hearing this, Jimmy realized that his initial opinion was accurate, and these fake awards were nothing but a sham.

I think people need to learn that failure is an essential part of life. Failure is one of the biggest influences for success. As a parent or even as a kid, accepting this fact will only help you in the future. Nothing comes easy so find the strength within yourself to stand up and fight for what you want. Do not go looking for someone to tell you that you are doing a good job. Remember if you never failed, how would you know that you succeeded?

Friends: A Sitcom That Goes Deeper Than Comedy

By: Dana Pfeiffer

Friends is a 90’s/early 2000s sitcom that tells the story of a group of six twenty somethings, Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, and Joey, who are navigating life, love, and their careers in New York City. Friends is a tv show that many know and love, myself included. I may have seen the show through 10 times… The sitcom first aired in 1994 and ended in 2004. Friends became a staple of pop culture and it still remains that way today. 14 years later, a more socially aware audience tunes into Friends and they notice things throughout the show that raise a few questions.

Buzzfeed highlighted all of these moments in an article written by Ellie Woodward titled “21 Times ‘Friends’ Was Actually Really Problematic.” Woodward reached out to members of the BuzzFeed community to submit “problematic points” in the show and the article is comprised of the best responses. As an avid Friends watcher, I felt defensive of my favorite tv show, so I read the article to see what events they saw as “problematic.” In the following paragraphs I am going to unpack some of the criticisms made against Friends which will include some “spoilers”. If you haven’t seen Friends in the last 14 years, you have no one to blame but yourself.

What’s “problematic” about Friends?

Number one on the list is “The whole ‘male nanny’ debacle”. Ross and Rachel, two characters with an EXTENSIVE history, end up getting pregnant with a baby girl after a one night stand. After the baby is born, the couple decides to interview nannies to hire and one of the interviewees is a male nanny named Sandy. This “debacle” the Buzzfeed article is referring to is Ross’s reluctancy to hiring Sandy because he is a man. One BuzzFeed community member bashes Ross’s behavior saying his “…melt down over the idea of a straight man wanting to care for children is so cringe-worthy.” While she is right in describing his behavior as a melt down, Friends is a TV show where things are dramatized. The community member even recognizes this when she says “As much as yes, it’s a TV show and therefore ridiculous things happen…” Ross’ “melt down” sets the other characters up to defend the male nanny and it allows discussion. In the episode, “The One with the Male Nanny” (2002), there is some push back to the idea of a male nanny, however by the end of the episode there is a general consensus among the characters that having a male nanny is okay.

Another “problematic” moment this article pointed out is Monica’s relationship with Richard. Richard is a friend of Monica’s father who she becomes romantically involved with in season two. Another BuzzFeed community member claims this is creepy because “…this dude knew Monica as a grade schooler…” While that may be true, Richard wasn’t making any moves on Monica while she was in grade school. This relationship is occuring while both parties are legal and consenting adults. This member acts as if Monica is not a grown woman capable of making her own decisions. Monica and Richard had a mature relationship which was a good example of a healthy relationship for the viewers.

Furthermore, Woodward draws on an episode from season three where Ross refuses to accept that his son, Ben, wants to play with a barbie. A running joke in the show is that Ross gets divorced… a lot. Ross’s first ex-wife, Carol, who he had his son with, left him for a woman named Susan. In the episode, “The One with The Metaphorical Tunnel” (1996), Carol and Susan drop Ben off with Ross and Ben has a Barbie that he is playing with. The BuzzFeed community member is bothered by this and declares “Let the kid play and be a kid without your fragile masculinity ruining his fun.”  Throughout the episode, Ross tries to get Ben to play with G.I. Joe instead of the Barbie while his friends try to convince him that it’s not a big deal. Again, Ross’ resistance opens a discussion about fragile masculinity.

Friends promotes unconventionality and inclusion

While I can see where the BuzzFeed community was coming from… I just don’t see Friends as “problematic”. Instead, I see Friends as a show that promotes unconventionality and inclusion. Sandy the male nanny, Monica and Richard’s relationship, and Ben wanting to play with the Barbie are all examples of ways the writers included unconventional situations in the show. All these moments gave the audience an opportunity to consider gender roles and ponder the flexibility within them. Those instances highlighted in the article gave examples of the unconventional. BuzzFeed took these instances at face value. However when you truly consider it, Friends was introducing new ideas that contradict the norm. Although Ross does display fragile masculinity, it’s used as a foundation for the discussion of new, unconventional ideas. Friends is nothing if not diverse.

Most of the main characters, with the exception of Monica and Ross whose parents are still married, come from unconventional backgrounds. Chandler’s parents are divorced and his father is a transgender woman. Rachel’s parents get divorced. Joey and his seven sisters were raised by just their mother. Phoebe’s adopted mother committed suicide so she grew up on the streets. Just their backgrounds alone scream unconventional, however Friends doesn’t stop there.

All three of the main female characters, Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe, had unconventional pregnancies. Phoebe carried triplets as a surrogate for her brother. Monica adopted a child. Rachel became pregnant as a result of a one night stand. Friends told each story from start to finish including details about surrogacy, adoption, and pregnancy. The audience followed these women through the trials and tribulations of their respective situations.  All these stories are so different but they all have one thing in common: the children were loved unconditionally.  Friends used their platform to include stories that don’t subscribe to the norm. They showed many different family dynamics which brings awareness to the other functional but unconventional families. The inclusion of unconventional pregnancies allows women who may not have had a conventional pregnancy experience to feel seen in popular culture.

Friends included many LGBT characters throughout it’s ten seasons. The most noteworthy are Carol and Susan, two lesbians, and Chandler’s dad, a transgender woman. There are a handful of other LGBT characters in Friends, but they aren’t recurring characters. To name a few: Rachel’s friend from college, Chandler’s coworker, and Phoebe’s biological mother. Including LGBT characters in the show normalizes the LGBT community in society.  Friends challenged the status quo and pushed for inclusivity. Not many other shows in the 90s had LGBT characters. This was a big step for such a popular show to embrace the LGBT community by including dimensional LGBT characters. Friends gave LGBT characters a space to be seen which is important for the audience to relate to the show.

Ultimately, Friends did a pretty good job for the 90s

While Friends could have done more to include diversity into the show, they did a pretty good job for the 90s. In ten seasons, Friends tells so many stories, it’s hard not to relate to many of the episodes. There’s a little something for everybody. Each episode sheds light on a different area or an unconventional situation. This is important because it allows a wider audience to feel represented in the media. Friends aims to add the unconventional in so many aspects of the show. From relationships to family to careers, there’s something different in every episode. Inclusivity is an important theme throughout Friends’ ten seasons.

Friends resonated with a large audience due to its devotion to inclusion. From the first season to the tenth, Friends stayed committed to the unconventional. Within the first season we’re introduced to Carol and Susan’s relationship. In the final season we follow Chandler and Monica’s journey with adoption. And there’s much more in between. Perhaps if Friends was being made today, we’d see more diversity among the characters. But in the 90s, the series was promoting inclusivity. Friends was and still is a good show, but please cut it some slack in 2018. Friends did it’s part to include various unconventional relationships, families, and careers from start to finish. As an audience, we need to appreciate all the successes we gained from a show like Friends.

Go Ask Alice: One of the Most Controversial Books of all Time

By Kendall Borgmann

In 2017 there was around 72,000 drug related deaths just in the United States. This number has been rapidly increasing over the years, and doesn’t seem to be decreasing anytime soon. The world wide conversation about overdoses and substance abuse has just recently become something the public is shedding light on and is being highly talked about in pop culture texts, but is still a concept many people are scared to confront. The importance of the novel Go Ask Alice is overshadowed by the fear of talking about addiction and the struggles that come along with it which has caused for it to be one of the most controversial books in history. The journey this book takes you on is harsh, honest, cruel, and completely uncensored, this being the reason it is one of the top 25 banned books in America and will most likely remain on that list for decades to come. 

This controversial novel first published almost 50 years ago follows an anonymous fifteen year old girl through her curiosity about life and her desperate desire to escape her everyday struggles, quickly turning down a dark and dangerous path in the process. The book is written in diary entry form that helps to capture the honest truth about what she goes through. Each entry includes her every thought about experimenting with drugs, alcohol and her sexuality. It takes us through her experiences when she runs away from home attempting to find herself, only to get mixed in with all of the wrong types of people. She begins to dip her toes into the world of drugs, leading her to a life of loneliness, homelessness, and instances of prostitution. Suddenly the life she knew and hated no longer existed, but a much worse one awaited her. The pleasure she gets from the drugs quickly turn life threatening and she documents all of the low points that getting high bring her to, including incidents of rape, blackouts, and living on the streets at age fifteen. She quickly becomes addicted to anything that can take her mind off of the things she endures and is open to do anything to numb the pain despite the consequences, and there sure are plenty. 

After a long road of bad decisions and years of addiction and isolation from the people she cared for most, she eventually begins the path to sobriety. “It’s great and groovy going on trips; I will never be able to say it isn’t. It’s exciting and colorful and dangerous, but it isn’t worth it!” Eventually she comes to this realization but unfortunately way to late. After many attempts to stay clean and become the person she wants to be, we are told in the epilogue that only three short weeks after the diary entries ended and believing she is on the right track, this young girl succumbed to her struggles with addiction. 

There has been a long running debate over the novel Go Ask Alice since it was published back in 1971, the debate as to whether schools should allow students to read it or if it should be pulled from all library shelves in general simply because of the dark issues the book focuses on and the profanity and lack of censoring within. In one instance in Charleston, South Carolina the book was taken out of all schools in the whole district after a parent complained about it. Students were instructed to read this book and in some instances even had to read some parts of the diary entries aloud to the class and one mother did not approve of that. She did not want her child to be coming across these concepts in school and having to read profanity or concepts of sexuality and drug use in general, as her child was only in eighth grade. 

It is no debate as to whether the concepts within this book are controversial and concerning but there should also be no debate as to how important these topics are especially to teens as young as eighth grade. The novel opens young peoples eyes to these things, helping them realize the true turmoil they can cause. The administrator of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states that “early to late adolescence is considered a critical risk period for the beginning of alcohol and drug use.” So although age is a very sensitive thing and we should be careful as to what we portray to our younger generations, it is also important that we are informing them of these concepts that are important and present in our society. 

Womens and Childrens Health Network states that teens below the age of 15 are at such vulnerable ages and are more likely to fall under pressures and take risks that they most likely will regret later, as they are still attempting to fit in and find their true selves. Co-chair of the Freedom Department of Ohio Educational Library Media Association puts this perfectly into words saying that the more informed you are about a topic in general the better prepared you will be. This exploration of teen rebellion and experimentation in the novel could help these young teens keep these risks in check and not let them get out of hand and fall into the deep hole of rebellion as seen in Go Ask Alice.

These diary entries do not fantasize or glorify rebellion such as running away from what you are told and putting yourself in these situations, although some have argued this as another concept to ban the book. A British Colombian School Board argues this, claiming that it encourages experimenting with sex and drugs, but how does simply talking about these things glorify them?

The argument that these things are glorified within this novel is a stretch and overall a foolish thought. Although multiple diary entries may include in depth details of her highs, it always includes her dissatisfaction and the downfall of her mental stability. The entries do a great job of describing the highs but also all of the lows. For example on page 36 of the novel the entry says “I don’t know why I shouldn’t use drugs, because they’re wild and they’re beautiful and they’re wonderful.” Only about 20 pages later that turns into “The garbage that goes with drugs makes the price too high for anyone to pay.”  

These quick twists and turns in her feelings towards drugs most definitely do not glorify using them, if anything it highlights the mental turmoil they cause and how the negative affects highly outweigh the positives, showing highs can only last so long and will quickly turn into lows as they tear your whole life apart. If this novel tells our young readers anything about drugs its a lesson in itself to not use them. 

These highs she details very often lead to some sort of unwanted and forced sexual activity, as she is a young naive girl running away to a world of people who see her as just that. To think that your child will never be exposed to sex within pop culture is hardly realistic, and to say that her journey pushes kids to engage in sexual activity is absurd and if anything it does the opposite. With 21% of teens admitting that the last time they engaged in sexual activity they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is important that this novel shows how that can quickly take a turn for the worst when put in unsafe situations with the wrong people.

Over and over again there are situations that highlight exact issues of sexual assault and many instances of rape, two concepts being widely talked about within our society today and something that we need to inform girls of at a very young age not be shelter them from. These diary entries capture the harsh reality that comes along with being a woman today and the concept of being sexualized in this culture. 

The lack of censorship within these entries about sex is another cause of the debate as to whether Go Ask Alice should be banned, but isn’t it better to be completely transparent and honest rather than sugar coat things? We need to prepare our youth for what they may see or hear about in the world today. The harshness and honesty within this novel show the consequences of the situations we put ourselves in, especially when under the influence. It can teach our young teens that not everyone you come across will have your best intention. If this novel tells our young readers anything about sex, it warns us about them negative consequences that can come from it when it is unwanted and not in the right situations.

Go Ask Alice is no doubt messy, and thought provoking, and at times can be harsh, but pulling it off the shelves of libraries across the world would benefit no one. Literature is made to challenge us, to help us grow, and it expands our views and opens our eyes to concepts and issues we may be to afraid to face. Censoring literature only takes away the very purpose of it, and this book is no exception. Despite the talk of drugs and running away momentarily being the escape from her everyday life, the consequences highly outweigh the positives. No reader who has followed the journey of this young girl would finish this book and begin to follow down her dark path, because once your finished with it the only thing that sticks with you is the way she ended up. This novel shows the truth about temptations that many of us have come across and it can only be expected that our younger generations will as well. 

Stream Slip-Up: Why Normalizing Racist language in Video Game Streams is not okay

If you heard the phrase “Twitch Stream”, what comes to mind. For everyone, that depends on if they play video games and what video games they play. Although, I have started to venture back to playing Call of Duty with the new Black OPs game, the game that will always hold a special place in my heart is Fornite: Battle Royale. Basically, Fornite: Battle Royale is a game in which around 100 players try to become the last man standing by shooting at other players, building structures, and surviving perils of the map like fall damage and the incoming storm. However, what I am trying to analyze is how racism is a very prevalent force in the Streaming community and why that is such a huge problem. Why despite constantly apologizing for racist statements and expletives in their streams do they continue to say them? Why do services like Twitch and YouTube continue to let some of these streamers continue their streams after repeatedly violating that policy of no racial content on streams? Is blocking racist utterances even preventable on a large scale?
So what is a streamer?
The definition of a streamer is a person who delivers content to computer and mobile devices over the internet. Specifically, I am focusing on youtubers and video game streamers. One of my favorite Twitch streamers is Tyler Blevins aka Ninja. Ninja currently is one of the top most viewed Fornite Streamers in the world who constantly breaks records for the most viewed streams. On March 28th 2018, while Ninja was rapping to the song “44 more” by Logic, he replaced one of the words in the song with a racial expletive. At the time I was watching his Livestream and I was shocked. Afterwards, he apologized for his actions by stating that while he is certain it was a misunderstanding, he needs improve for the sake of the streaming community. While he at least apologized, the fact remains that he casually used a hurtful word in his stream and not surprisingly wasn’t the first streamer to actually do this.

Streamers and explicit content

Many Streamers use hateful terminology in their streams and one of the most infamous to do this is the Swedish YouTube Personality known as Pewdiepie. Pewdiepie, best known for his Let’s play vlogs has said offensive things repeatedly on his streams. While he might not be in his heyday anymore, he is probably one of the most controversial streamers in the world. Back in early 2017, Pewdiepie was accused of saying anti-Semitic things during several of his streams. While he apologized for what he said, he also tried to normalize it by saying that his comments were taken out of context. When he apologized, I was absolutely disgusted; I was shocked that he could actually defend those horrible words under the guise of “jokes taken out of context”. This was when I stopped watching his videos because whenever I saw his face, I was reminded of how offensive he is as a person.

How do I think this behavior could be prevented?

I believe that this behavior can be curtailed if streamer learned from their mistakes or the mistakes of other streamers. However, because they are such popular streamers even if they say these harmful and malicious things, they will continue to stream and act like they never said anything of the sort. In the episode of the “Black Mirror” that we watched in class, the captain of the USS Callister John Daly normalized the abuse of the crew of the ship and normalized it because he realized that he had complete control over what went on in his virtual world and could say and do whatever he wanted and no one would be able to protest. Even the villain realized he could never when and in a way just gave up because he realized how pointless resisting was. In a way, video game streamers also realize the power they hold by captivating millions of viewers and subscribers to watch them play something that people typically play in small groups. I think that streamers like Pewdiepie and Ninja have become rather vain and truly don’t understand the effect they have on many of their viewers. I think that twitch could take a note from established sports leagues like the NBA and the NFL and start to fine streamers for saying expletives during their streams. However, this may backfire because of the donation function on these websites because they might make an event in which if viewers donated enough money they would yell an expletive and the donations would offset the financial penalty. While I would hope this would not be the case, it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities because of the sense of irony that the gaming community has.

Why Not Just Kick them out?
So if these streamers constantly break the rules, why not ban their channel and discontinue them? The way I like to think about it is using the example of the “too big to fail” principle that led to many bank bailouts during the great recession of 2008. The way the government saw it, if the banks failed, we could have head for economic failure. Because they bring in so much revenue for YouTube and other streaming services, the streamers are, “too big to fail”. This means that they get special consideration in regards to inappropriate content which does not hold them as accountable as a small youtuber who says or does something that is deemed inappropriate. On the USS Callister, John Daly was able to do whatever he wanted in the virtual world because there was no checks and balance system to what he could do in the world. In one scene, he forced himself onto Nanette, one of the female crew members. There were no negative repercussions to what he did though because he was essentially a god in the virtual universe. This is what I fear is happening to Video Game streams.

Is blocking racist language in streams even possible?
You might ask how do you block streamers from accidentally or intentionally uttering racial slurs and other insults. While it may seem hard to control off-hand insults, I think that it is the responsibility of streamers to erase those words from their vocabulary. Twitch even started making certain streams private to watch unless you are of age if the streamer used language that can be considered inappropriate for younger viewers. While this is a start, just blocking certain people from watching streams with choice words doesn’t make it ok to use slurs because people of any age can be offended by words targeting a specific racial or ethnic group they associate with. YouTube made major progress in this sector by demonetizing any YouTube videos with swear words aside from purchasable mainstream movies. According to VICE Media’s Kaleigh Rogers, In Fall 2016, YouTube decided to un monetize videos that had explicit content, not limited to swearing. While this might have push some youtubers to seek other avenues to create content, it sent a message that YouTube was not going to tolerate demeaning behavior and language. While John Daly was in the real world, he realized there were rules in place to prevent him acting on his fantasies. Like some youtubers though, instead of seeking help and changing the way he saw the world, he decided to discover a new platform in which saying and doing socially unacceptable things would be permitted.

So what would you suggest to anyone who would consider watching a streamer.
I would avoid personalities who rely on explicit content to rack of views. When I look for a streamer, I seek a few key traits. I typically look for relatability, entertainment value, and visual quality. Try to avoid streamers with a lot of drama surrounding them like Dr. Disrespect. A streamer that I would suggest to start watching would be Darkness429. He mostly streams Fornite: Battle Royale but he dabbles in other games as well I like him because the graphics of his stream are professional quality, he is a very talented and exciting player. Another streamer that I think would be a great choice would be Blink. Blink is an African-American streamer with no hands who has recently started streaming Fornite. Despite his disability, he manages to rack up tons of kills using an Xbox-one controller that is connected to his pc.
How can I help stop racist content in streams
Racism in streams is still prevalent despite efforts by streaming platforms to confront it. Because this is the case, it is up to the viewer to take the high road and look for quality content. Without a check and balance system in place, streamers could very well behave exactly like John Daly did in the “Black Mirror” episode. It takes someone like Nanette, who had enough of Daly’s daily abuses to force change. In the streaming community, I think that if people condemned inappropriate content instead of rationalizing or normalizing it, YouTube and twitch wouldn’t have to ban content creators who have quality content but let their hateful and ignorant views get in the way.

Works Cited
1.)Alexander, Julia. “Ninja Apologizes after Using Racial Expletive on Stream.” Polygon, Polygon, 29 Mar. 2018, www.polygon.com/2018/3/29/17176408/ninja-fortnite-n-word-stream-logic-apology.
2.)Ramanan, Chella. “PewDiePie Must Not Be Excused. Using the N-Word Is Never OK | Chella Ramanan.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 11 Sept. 2017, www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/11/pewdiepie-racism-youtube-games-industry.
3.)Statt, Nick. “In Black Mirror’s USS Callister, the True Villains Are Real-World Tech Moguls.” The Verge, The Verge, 2 Jan. 2018, www.theverge.com/2018/1/2/16841938/black-mirror-uss-callister-review-netflix-season-4-jesse-plemons-cristin-milioti.