Atlantic Community High School

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Gerard Kassi

Gerard Kassi has 29 articles published.

Gorillaz: A celebration of music

in Arts & Entertainment by
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    Gorillaz's Demon Days Festival Art. Image courtesy of Reddit

   In 1998, when comic book artist Jamie Hewlett and frontman of the band Blur Damon Albarn were roommates sitting watching MTV, they had the brilliant idea of starting a virtual band. Damon Albarn stated in an interview to The Wire, “If you watch MTV for too long, it’s a bit like hell – there’s nothing of substance there. So we got this idea for a cartoon band, something that would be a comment on that.” Gorillaz was created to comment on the idolization of artists of the 90s: with the rise of “boy bands” from left to right there was less focus on music and more focus on the artist’s looks. Albarn added, “We’re the generation whose stars come from Pop Idol and celebrity-wrestling shows. And it’s all a bit like a cartoon, really.”

   In 2001, the band debuted the self titled album Gorillaz with global success. The album was home to hit songs such as “Clint Eastwood, 19-2000, Tomorrow Comes Today” and more, with the song “Clint Eastwood” topping in both the U.K and the United states. The thing with these songs is that they are all different genres but on the same album. “Clint Eastwood” is a song with a heavy boom bap instrumental and a rap verse from Del the Funky Homosapien. “19-2000” is a track that is influenced by trip-hop, and “Tomorrow Comes Today” has a similar boom bap beat as “Clint Eastwood” but joining it with instruments that deal with folk and rock.

This blend of genre became Gorillaz signature; they do not have any one sound. By not putting the band in a specific box, Albarn and Co. were able to collaborate with different artist from different genres. This made a Gorillaz song a blank canvas for Damon Albarn and whoever he was collaborating with.

   In 2005, this was made ever more clear with the release of the album “Demon Days,” which outsold their first album, selling over 8 million copies worldwide. The musical palette of “Demon Days” ranged from Hip-hop song such as “November has Come” to dance song like “Dirty Harry”, and “Dare”, to full on Gospel song like 14th track “Don’t Get Lost in Heaven.” Each and every song transitioned into one another perfectly. “Demon Days” is an album considered a classic in the mind of many because it tackled issues such as violence, war and poverty while using almost every aspect of music to get its point across.

The album “Plastic Beach,” released in 2010, is the perfect representation of Damon and Company’s love of every genre. The album consists of hip-hop, dance, country, rock, electronica, synth-pop and more. To understand Gorillaz (as a band) and how beautifully put together this album is, one has to listen to the song  “Empire Ants,” within this one song there is country, synth-pop and dance in only 5 minutes.

 

Gorillaz's seating down for an interview with Vice. image courtesy of Vice
Gorillaz’s seating down for an interview with Vice. image courtesy of Vice

Gorillaz has been a band who make music their main focus by use every aspect of it to create masterpieces. With a new album slated for April 28th called “Humanz,” they will without doubt continue celebrating music.

Review: Samurai Jack Season 5

in Arts & Entertainment by
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    A scene from the third episode of season 5. Image courtesy of Adult Swim
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    A scene from the first episode of season 5. Image courtesy of Adult Swim
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    Samurai Jack Meditating. Image Courtesy of IGN

   In 2001, Cartoon Network released a cartoon called Samurai Jack, telling the story of a samurai warrior who gets sent in a time portal into the future, trapped by Aku, the antagonist. Stuck in time, he now has to go back to the past to undo the villain’s actions that negatively affected the future.

  Samurai Jack had a big fan base and rightfully so; it was unlike any other cartoon at the time. While cartoons of the 2000s opted for characters that were funny, and were very “in your face” with their shows, Samurai Jack was different.  Samurai Jack was a character who barely said anything; at times the show would go on minutes without one piece of dialogue. Instead, the show told with beautiful art and action scenes.

Samurai Jack’s adventure did not have a proper ending, however, because the show was canceled after four seasons in 2004. Fans were really missing the show as a result. According to a statement by Genndy Tartakovsky, the producer of the show, “In America, or abroad, everywhere I’ve gone in the last decade, people just grab me and demand to know if I’m going to finish Jack’s story and if it’s going to be a movie.”

  At Comic Con 2016, Tartakovsky pitched his idea for the first episode of season five to an audience by showing them storyboards and sketches he had done. After the announcement, fans were excited because they would be getting more Samurai Jack; they were even more excited when they heard that it would be airing on Adult Swim (the cooler older brother of Cartoon Network).  Airing on Adult Swim meant that the show would have more artistic freedom because it would be geared towards an older audience.

    Although it is a mini-series, the fifth season of Samurai Jack, after airing on March 11, 2017 hasn’t been pulling any punches. With only four episodes in the show, it has already proven itself to be the best thing currently on television.

  The visuals of the original Samurai Jack stood the test of time still through today, and when it comes to that aspect, the current Samurai Jack is nothing but phenomenal, with each episode being well-produced and every frame being a display of the talent of the director and the artists. Colors are vibrant and also serve as symbols to further the storytelling.

  The current season maintains the zen state that the old seasons were praised for, but does it even better. Scenes often last around two or three minutes with no dialogue, no music, no action and nothing but beautiful scenery while Samurai Jack contemplates the solution to his problems.

  These long, quiet scenes allow the audience to get closer to Jack better than any other fictional character. Jack’s speechless, calm and weary state displays a lot of humanity in the character. Just like the audience (ordinary people), Jack is lost in his own story, and he does not know whether or not he will get to succeed in his adventures. He does not know what the future holds for him, and that makes him easier to connect with.

Just like its predecessors, this season’s action scenes are top notch. On television and even movies, fight scenes are often not fight scenes as much as they are a series of taunts being exchanged by the protagonist and antagonist. Samurai Jack has really long, well-choreographed  fight scenes and action scenes. Every frame is a masterpiece.

   Overall the new season of Samurai Jack is well-directed, beautiful and very well-paced, it is a definite must-watch for anyone who appreciates art. The show airs every Saturday at 11 p.m. and is definitely worth the time. Episodes are also streamable on Adult Swim’s website, with episode one and two being free.

Learn about global peace exchange

in Opinions/Editorials by

This press release was originally published by 2015 Atlantic High School graduate Alisson Sealy

 Global Peace Exchange (GPE) is a non-profit, student-run international development organization founded in 2006 at The Florida State University. GPE establishes partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in developing countries, allowing ambitious and dedicated students the opportunity to work on sustainable projects at a grassroots level.

 

   Beginning Monday, April 10th, Global Peace Exchange’s Annual “Week of Giving” will highlight the organization’s efforts within the Tallahassee community and communities around the world. Monday’s kickoff will commence with an event on Landis Green from 7:30AM – 11:30AM. GPE invites students to join for coffee before class and learn about the organization. There will be opportunities to win a gift card to The Melting Pot or a ticket to Jam for Peace, GPE’s annual benefit concert at The Strip. From 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM Monday night, Global Peace Exchange will launch a Q&A during a Facebook Livestream. The following days will feature each of this year’s partnerships on social media: Children with Hope for Development on Tuesday, Centre d’ Education et de Formation des Jeunes on Wednesday, Clinic Nepal on Thursday, and Esperanza Verde on Friday. Follow GPE at “Global Peace Exchange” on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @GPE_FSU to stay updated.

 

Learn more and donate at www.globalpeaceexchange.org/give

 

Bill O’Reilly facing sexual harassment allegations

in News by
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    Bill O'Rielly posing for a picture on front of his office in the Fox News headquarters. Photo courtesy of The New York Times.

 In the summer of 2016, former Fox News chairman, Roger Ailes, was accused of sexual harassment. In the midst of the scandal, Fox News said, “that it did not tolerate behavior that disrespects women or contributes to an uncomfortable work environment.” According to an investigation by the New York Times, however, it seems that the network has been giving payments to women to stay quiet about their experiences of sexual harassment by the network’s most valuable individual, William James O’Reilly, Jr.

   William James O’Reilly, Jr., or as he is famously known, Bill O’Reilly, joined the Fox News channel in 1996. His show The O’Reilly Factor is “the most watched cable news show for the past 14 years,” according to his bio on the official Fox News website. In the article by the New York Times, it states that, “The women who made allegations against Mr. O’Reilly either worked for him or appeared on his show.” The women who claimed to be sexually harassed received settlement. The allegation started back in 2002 with Rachel Witlieb Bernstein, a junior producer at Fox News, and the latest being Juliet Huddy, an On-air personality at Fox News in 2016.  

 The president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, voiced his opinion on the matter on an interview by the New York Times. He stated, “I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person, I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”

  It is no secret that the president favors Fox News as his news outlet, as he has often promoted their shows on his Twitter account.

Although O’Reilly had been hit with these allegations, he is still a big asset of the network. His news show averaged 2.8 million viewers in 2015 according to The Hollywood Reporter. But as of late a multitude of advertisers pulled their ads from airing during his show.

 

Marvel’s Iron Fist and cultural appropriation

in Arts & Entertainment by

The television series Iron Fist, based on the comic series with the same name, was bashed by critics. Most of them gave it a poor score, not because it was a sloppy show, but because they deemed it racist and white-washed.

  Iron Fist premiered on Netflix on March 17. Days before its release, the show was receiving bad reviews by critics. After its release, however, fans realized that the show wasn’t bad at all. The Verge’s review of the show had the title, “Iron Fist isn’t just racially uncomfortable, it’s also a boring show.” A few days after the show made public the author of the article released a video called, “The Problem With Marvel’s Iron Fist.”

   When reading the articles of websites, such as The Verge and Vulture, there was one main subject that all of them brought up: cultural appropriation. Of the main character, Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz said, “Iron Fist, a.k.a. Danny Rand (Finn Jones), is a scruffy blond New Yorker with a slight surf-dude accent. He’s spent the last 15 years studying kung fu with monks in the Himalayas.”

The Verge’s Kwame Opam stated in his article, “A white man starring in a series rooted in Orientalist stereotypes, which collides directly with the ongoing conversation about the diversity in Marvel’s superhero properties.” It was obvious writers were mostly against the show because the show was “whitewashed.”

  Opam talked about the race issues in the show throughout the whole review. There were a bunch of other reviewers that talked about the show in the same way. 50 reviewers scored the show at 19% on the rating website on Rotten Tomatoes.  One can really see the disconnect between critics and viewers with fans giving it a rating of 85% on the site.

These critics were not doing a good job reviewing the show because they based the score that the show got off of their own emotions and not the actual work and effort that went into it. If they thought the show was prejudiced, or whitewashed, rather than mentioning it in the review why not mention it in a different article? Taking a whole article to discuss it leaves no space to do a review. Rarely did most of these sites talk about other characters, or any technical aspect of the show; things such as filmography, or even screenplay, were not discussed in most of the review, making these articles seem less like reviews and more like rants.

  Another thing was that the show was only criticized for being “racist.” Never did they actually mention that it was based of the source material; if anything should be criticized, it should be the comic books, because they are the real source materials.

  An example of a good review is that of the website Uproxx. Although it was a negative review, just like the other articles, the author of the article instead delved deep into the technical aspect of the show, what was done right, and what was done wrong, explaining that the show was boring and lacked action scenes, which they did not like because the show was being promoted as an action based show. The author also brought up the comic book multiple times in the review. Rather than picking the show apart because they thought it was “a  show” they picked it apart because they thought the show was simply bad show.

  Reviewers should abstain from letting their emotions, those relating to worldly issues, to what is being discussed affect their opinion on something that was meant to entertain.

Actor Finn Jones as Iron Fist. Image courtesy of Comicsoon.
Actor Finn Jones as Iron Fist. Image courtesy of Comicsoon.

 

 

More Federal funds should go to education, less to defense

in News/Opinions/Editorials by
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    American solider oversees. Photo Courtesy of Heritage.org

 On March 16, 2017, the Trump administration made public its budget cut for the entire year. With these budget cuts the president hopes to enforce the country’s defenses. The money will go towards the military and aid in the building of the border wall that will separate the United States and Mexico. Although this might sound like a good idea, since it is deemed to protect americans, is too much? Since 54% of the United States’ annual budget goes to the military, spending the money on things such as education and space travel will be a far better use for government funds.

   The main reason for increasing the defense budget, according to president Trump himself, is because, “We never win a war. We never win. And we don’t fight to win. We don’t fight to win. So we either got to win or don’t fight it at all.” The main reason why Donald Trump wants to fund the military, is because fight are not being won.

Although it makes sense to keep on spending more on the United States’ defenses, when looking at how much the United States already spends on the military it seems excessive to raise the amount. According to nationalpriorities.org, “In fiscal year 2015, military spending [was] projected to account for 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending, a total of $598.5 billion.” This is more than China ($146 billion), Russia ($90.7 billion), and North Korea (estimated to be around $8.77 billion), and Trump still sees a need to increase the figure.

The United States, despite being the country in the world with one of the most thriving economies and the strongest military, “the U.S ranks 14th in the world in the percentage of 25-34 year-olds with higher education (42%),” according a study by OECD. Being a world leading country and not having a great (at least top 5 ranking) education system is embarrassing for the country.

  President Trump thinks that his motto of “making America great again” would be fully realized if the army won more wars, but that isn’t necessarily true. Funding education can help grow the economy even more, because according to an article by Bloomberg,the more industries can use United States workers instead of Chinese workers, the more industries will base their production in the U.S. This will feed local economies, boosting the profits of stores and other service businesses. That also feeds into your stock portfolio.” So not only will bring back jobs, funding education will bring in more money to the country.

So rather than spend more on the military the United States should spend more on programs that would be help us the American people in the future, thing such as education or another good alternative: space travel or NASA.  the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is especially important for the American population because they were the first to take to the moon during the space race (1957-1975).

   Now, with even more technology and more planets being discovered, space is closer than ever. This can help us learn more about our universe and again educate us more. According to Universe Today, “NASA’s annual budget for fiscal year 2009 [was] $17.2 billion.” They also added that, “NASA’s cut of the US budget [was] less than 1%.” Imagine what NASA will able to do if it had only a quarter of the Military’s budget or if it got another 18.7 billion added to its annual budget. There’s no need to dream too far because privately funded programs such as SpaceX program by Elon Musk have already beaten NASA to put humans on Mars, expecting to do start doing this in 2018 while NASA remains years behind. These departments (department of education and NASA), would be help President Trump’s motto of “making America great again.”

Logan: movie review

in Arts & Entertainment/Opinions/Editorials by
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    X-23 and Wolverine in a car. Photo Courtesy of Youtube

 In 2016, the R-rated superhero movie Deadpool was released to the public, and although it was not the first Superhero movie to be R-rated, this one was a major turning point for Marvel movies.

  No matter a character’s backstory, when Marvel makes movies based on their heroes, it seems that they’ve been afraid to make a superhero film that was not rated PG-13, because they feared that it would not bring in enough profit. This fear would lead to them watering down stories because a group of four people, the average family dynamic, watching a movie is more profitable than just one or two individuals watching it. Deadpool went on to do extremely well, attaining over $700 million in the box office.

   When it was announced that the new Wolverine movie would be R-rated, fans of the hero who’d been begging for an R-rated film were very excited. Logan was the product that fans had been waiting for, and although it’s been said to be less action-packed than viewers were expecting, it does set a new trend that superhero movies can follow.

   The character of Wolverine throughout the comic books series was always portrayed as a wild, violent individual, and although it is seen throughout Logan, it is not nearly as dramatic.

  The movie, however, gives Wolverine the “Watchmen treatment,” which is a DC comic book that explores heroes when they are at their lowest and weariest. As a result, there is less of a focus on the violence and more emphasis on character development.

  The title of the movie is appropriate because this is one of the most personal superhero movies, digging deep into Logan’s personality, as he is tasked with smuggling a girl across the country, protecting her from villains searching for her, while simultaneously learning more about her as the story progresses.

  The acting in the movie is acceptable. The reason why it is considered good but not great, is because there are child actors in this movie… a lot of them. Although the young actress who plays a significant role (Dafne Keen) is great, the other child actors in the movie seemed to be overacting in certain scenes. When it comes to Oscar nominated Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) and Golden Globe winner Patrick Stewart (Charles Xavier), the acting was amazing. Boyd Holbrook, who plays the main antagonist, was very great as well.

  The movie touched on some adult themes, such as suicide, immigration and even racist subjects that are rarely touched upon in superhero movies, which is usually to be commended. It was surprising to see that some scenes were extreme tear-jerkers.

  Overall, Logan was an amazing superhero movie that is not shy to show its hero at his lowest and exploit his deep emotions but still manage to cast him in a different light of vulnerability, which is the opposite of what a superhero is. It was less of a superhero movie and more a heartfelt bonding story between two characters.

Strike in France on international women day

in News by
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    french Women protesting on International women day. image courtesy Rfi

 Yesterday was International Women’s day, a holiday that, according to the Telegraph, “celebrates women’s achievements – from the political to the social – while calling for gender equality.” Reaching gender equality was the main goal of women in France.

 At 3:40 p.m., some walked out of their jobs because a strike was called by union and women’s right groups in France. The reason why they chose 3:40 pm was because, according to RFI, a french radio station,  “that’s the time [in] an average eight-hour work day that they effectively stop being paid compared to their male colleagues.” The gender pay gap has been a topic of discussion around the world; in France however, according to a french study conducted by Malthide Pak, women make about 80% of part time male job workers.

  One reason why most women work part-time is because they are more likely to have domestic tasks, so they cannot work full time; it would not allow them to take care of the house and sometimes children. This may be also why the average wage gap is so high, since those jobs tend to pay less than full time jobs.

  Women in France are paid about 20% less than men according to the study. These protests/strikes occurred not just in France, however, but around the world, with women asking for equal rights, work opportunities, and more.

Marvel heroes fight for the rights of their readers

in Arts & Entertainment/Opinions/Editorials by
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    Kamala Khan looking at the sky. Photo courtesy of Marvel
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    X-men posing for a picture. Image courtesy of Marvel

   During the African American Civil Rights movement in the United States (1955-1966), there were protests for equal rights for the Black community, especially those in the South. Southern states had in place the “Jim Crow” law, which prohibited African-Americans from sharing the same bathrooms, restaurants, and theaters with white individuals. It basically marginalized them because of their race.

    In 1963, Marvel Comics released the first issue Uncanny X-Men, written by Stan Lee; this comic book is what begin the X-Men franchise. “The X-Men” are a group of mutants that are feared and hated by humans just because they were mutant; the correlation of this story with the events occurring in this era was obvious.

   In 1982, Chris Claremont, a longtime writer of  X-Men comic books, said, “The X-Men are hated, feared, and despised collectively by humanity for no other reason than that they are mutants. So what we have…intended or not, is a book that is about racism, bigotry, and prejudice.”

  In these comic books, one of the villains, Magneto, believes that humans should be completely destroyed by mutants so that mutants could live in peace, while Professor Xavier, who is a protagonist, believes that humans and mutants could live in harmony without any violence. These two opposing ideologies resemble those of Martin Luther King. Jr and Malcolm Little (Malcolm X). Little thought that the black community should forcibly fight for their rights, while King believed that they should fight for their rights by means of peaceful action.

   In 1966, still during the Civil Rights era, Marvel introduced the first mainstream black superhero in Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #52. In this issue of the Fantastic Four, the heroes pay Black Panther a visit in his fictional African country of Wakanda, where he shows them his power by hunting them.

   In later issues, he fights alongside the “Fantastic Four,” a group mainly composed of white members. These comics not only show Marvel’s inclusion of minorities but also their implied opinion of laws like the “Jim Crow” law. By having heroes of different races and backgrounds fight alongside one another, it showed that they were against any sort of segregation and marginalization.

  Marvel went on to prove this even more by creating the first openly gay superhero called Northstar in 1979, a year after the first openly gay politician, and gay rights activist,  Harvey Milk, was assassinated by Dan White, who was charged with manslaughter rather than murder. In 2013, “Ms. Marvel” (Carol Danvers), a white superheroine, was rebooted into a Muslim, Pakistani-American teenager called Kamala Khan in Captain Marvel Vol.7 issue #14. Ever since 9/11, the United States has been undergoing a transitional period where the Muslim population are now those being marginalized because of their religion by some people in the country.

  Recently there was a law put in place by President Donald Trump that banned refugees and citizens from certain Muslim countries. Katie M. Logan of The Conversation, in an article called “Why America needs Marvel superhero Kamala Khan now more than ever,” said that Kamala Khan “challenges the assumptions many Americans have about Muslims and is a radical departure from how the media tend to depict Muslim-Americans. She shows how Muslim-Americans and immigrants are not forces that threaten communities – as some would argue – but are people who can strengthen and preserve them.”

  Today Marvel Comics is currently the leading comic books publisher in the world because they take pride in diversifying their comic books.  

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