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13 Reasons Why gets a second season on Netflix despite the controversy

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   The TV series “13 Reasons Why” seems to be a popular show among the students at Atlantic High School and teens around the nation. Since its release on March 31st, it has been the most tweeted about show in 2017. The show tells the story of a teen named Hannah Baker who leaves behind 13 cassette tapes after committing suicide; each tape is directed towards a person who’s responsible for her suicide. The series, which feels too close to real life, is based on a fictional novel written by Jay Asher. “The show is out there. Everyone is talking about it,” said Azmaira Maker, a licensed clinical psychologist with a practice in Carmel Valley. “It is scaring parents, and I think there is a lot of anxiety around it. The show raises alarms and creates awareness, but it doesn’t give us the tools to deal with it. It doesn’t educate parents about warning signs, and it doesn’t talk about what we can do to help.”

   Parents are becoming alarmed that the show may raise a negative influence among  vulnerable teens. In 2014, suicide was the second leading cause of death for children and young adults ages 10 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The show suggests that suicide was the only way for Hannah to deal with her struggles. “We do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series,” the National Association of School Psychologists said in its five-page “13 Reasons Why” guide for educators and parents. Besides this, Netflix has added warnings before every episode.

   

Source: popsugar.com
Source: popsugar.com

On the other hand, some psychologists say that conversation about mental illness is better than no conversation at all. “From my point of view, to get people talking about it is a good thing,” says Tylee Silva. When asking other students around campus most of them seemed to agree and support the show. Netflix also seemed to support the show by announcing it has renewed the show for a second season. Although there isn’t a specific date set for the release of the second season, many are already excited for what it has to bring.

 

Kawaii and the rising of cuteness

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The pleasures of sighting something so pleasing to the eye that you become so excited and flustered is exactly what the Japanese culture defines “Kawaii.” Kawaii has spread worldwide; it is well known considering it is used in context of art, entertainment, food, clothing, makeup, toys and even the way a person acts.

    The start of everything adorably “cute” all began in the 1970s. Most teenage girls discovered a new style of writing, using what we call mechanical pencils. These pencils in particular were very different from what the Japanese culture were used to; they made the handwriting much smaller and thinner which could  then be described as childish. Today, it can be identified as comic writing, round writing, kitten writing, or even fake-child writing. Between 1984 and 1986, a man named Kazuma Yamane examined the growth of the handwriting. It is said the handwriting was brought up female teenagers themselves.

    With Kawaii merchandise in the picture, the expanding trend of cuteness continued to grow. Hello Kitty instantly blew up when the innocent toy was released, a perfect example for the rising trend. Other figures such as Seiko Matsuda had women of the younger ages imitating the way she dressed and behave, portraying themselves as helpless and innocent. Not only is Kawaii influencing the younger people, but has been welcomed by people of all ages. Due to this, Seiko Matsuda has been titled the “Eternal Idol” by the Japanese. Kawaii has an impact all over the world. Women and children love it and stores such as Forever 21 widely accept the ways of the japanese culture.

kawaii clothing
kawaii clothing
kawaii handwriting source: www.pintrest.com
kawaii handwriting
source: www.pintrest.com

Girls Like Me by Tanya Savory; Relatable to teens

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  “Girls Like Me” is one of the books in the Bluford Series, written by various authors. Angel McAllister’s life is in trouble. Her mom is depressed, her dad just left her family, and her best friend, Sharice Bell, finds out her biggest secret; that she is a lesbian.

  This book does a very good job at showing some of the struggles of life. It shows the hardship of a parent leaving the family, a parent falling into depression, and the struggles of getting bullied. All the characters are very relatable to also. Many people may be the Sharice or the LaDonna of the book, the girls that are popular, and love to talk about boys and parties and clothes. Other people may relate to Win, because he is shy and smart, but also kind, fun to be around and loyal. Other people may relate better to Trey, who has girls falling all over him, yet wants nothing to do with it. Others may relate with Justice, who is confident, outgoing, and does not care what other people think of her. Many people can relate with these personalities, which makes this book even more enjoyable to read.

  Another reason that this book is so appealing is because it has aspects that almost everyone can relate with. One thing that people can relate to is having a parent leaving your family, or your parents separating. Many can also relate to being bullied during school, like Angel, which is more common nowadays. Many can also relate to having a parent suffering with depression. All these real life aspects incorporated in the book make the book even more relatable, which makes this book even more appealing.

  In the end, “Girls Like Me” is a very good book that shows some of the struggles of life, and is definitely worth taking the time to read.  It is on Mackinvia or on the Bluford Series website.

Book cover of Girls Like Me by Tanya Savory Courtesy of: townsendpress.com
Book cover of Girls Like Me by Tanya Savory
Courtesy of: townsendpress.com

Gorillaz: A celebration of music

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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

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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
  • samuraijack-image1-1487892731199_1280w.jpg
    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.

13 Reasons Why captivates audiences

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  In a society flooding with social media outlets such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, it has become increasingly more difficult for teenagers to maintain a healthy mental lifestyle. The new Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why, based on the best-selling YA novel from Jay Asher, calls to many of the issues caused by the hectic and emotional time that is commonly referred to as “our adolescence.”

  While for entertainment purposes, the themes are magnified; the emotions portrayed through the characters are real and raw emotions many high schoolers deal with.

  The show is definitely not for those who cannot handle serious topics, given the show’s main plotline is carried on the fact that a teenage student committed suicide. The show covers heavy themes such as the most obvious, suicide, but others such as rape, drunk driving and drug use.

  The show follows a high school student, Clay Jensen, who viewers come to find out has struggled emotionally in the past. The story picks up a couple weeks after a victim of bullying, Hannah Baker, took her own life. Clay comes home one day and finds a package full of cassette tapes from his former friend Hannah, which she recorded before her death. The first tape explains that these tapes are meant to give insight into why she took her life.

  The series goes on to show the contrast between her “truth” and beliefs of how things happened versus the way the people on the tapes remembered things to have happened.

  13 Reasons Why takes the viewer on an emotional journey, due to how real the issues faced are. Many moments throughout the season were solely driven on the emotions it would draw from the viewers. 13 Reasons Why is far from the typical psychological thriller. Though it is a planned and fictional storyline, the viewer becomes so invested in these characters. As many tend to do while watching a TV series, viewers start to pick their “favorites” and characters that they want to succeed. However in this case, unfortunately the character many want to see succeed has been gone since the pilot episode. Instead of being a show that helps viewers escape from their reality, the show forces those who watch to reevaluate their reality and hone in on how the choices they make can affect others, which is a lesson many can and should learn.

Easter events occurring in Palm Beach County

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In the past, many groups of people organized spring festivals.  Many of these celebrated the rebirth of nature, the return of fertility and the birth of many young animals. These are the origins of the Easter eggs that we still hunt for and eat. Although the festivals (at least in Palm Beach County) may not be extravagant, there are lots of organized events available for families interested.

In Palm Beach County some events available April 8-9 are:  

  Egg Extravaganza, 9 a.m. Saturday, Gardens Park, 4301 Burns Road, Palm Beach Gardens. Children can enjoy a traditional egg hunt featuring prizes, children’s activities and a visit from the bunny!

  Flagler Museum Easter Egg Hunt, gates open at 9 a.m. with hunt at 10 a.m. Saturday, Flagler Museum, One Whitehall Way, Palm Beach. Children are invited to hunt for more than 7,000 eggs on the museum’s lawns. The grounds will be sectioned off into age-appropriate areas so everyone, including toddlers, will have an opportunity to participate. Children can have their pictures taken with the Easter Bunny, engage in craft projects, have their face painted, receive a balloon sculpture and play the bean bag toss game. $18 for adults and $10 for children

  Spring Egg-Stravaganza, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Congress Avenue Barrier Free Park, 3111 S. Congress Ave., Boynton Beach. Children ages 1 to 12 can hunt for eggs, meet Peter Cottontail, climb the rock wall, ride the train through the park and get their faces painted. Free.

  Delray Marketplace, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, downtown Delray Beach. Enjoy a breakfast buffet, Easter egg hunt, and photos with the Easter Bunny ($6). The buffet will take place at Bella Amici beginning at 11 a.m. followed by the egg hunt and face-painting with Mother Goose at 1 p.m. and photos with the Easter Bunny at The Grind Coffee Café from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Tickets for the buffet are $6; no charge for children younger than 3

  12th Annual Easter in the Park Worship Celebration, Mizner Park Amphitheater, Boca Raton. Service starts at 9 a.m. on Sunday.  
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Marvel’s Iron Fist and cultural appropriation

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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.

 

 

Get Out raises controversy

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    The main character of the movie smiling on set. Source: hypebeast.com

   Horror films usually ask us to fear supernatural creatures, such as zombies, vampires, werewolves and ghosts. However, there is nothing scarier in this world than real people, and Jordan Peele’s newly-released horror film Get Out clarifies this fact. The movie highlights actual fears of oppression and the constant threats looming over people of color. It also comments on the re-emergence of white supremacy, especially in this time of  American politics. It encompasses the subtle racism that often lies behind the post-racial United States. “It is one of the very, very few horror movies that does jump off of racial fears,” Peele said in an interview.

  In Get Out, Charlie and his girlfriend, Rose, go on a trip to meet Rose’s parents, who are white and live in a predominantly white town. Charlie is awkwardly greeted by Rose’s parents after they had just learned he was black. The tension between them increases when Charlie learns other black people have mysteriously disappeared after visiting the town.

   Many are calling the movie racist due to the fact that it is specifically focused on a black person’s experience. Some are also saying it’s presentation of racism is far-fetched,  although it focuses on the current topic of devaluation of black lives that killed people like Trayvon Martin, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner in the last few years.

   Writer and director Peele says nobody has really made a thriller about race since Night of the Living Dead (1968).   Night of the Living Dead was not necessarily meant to be about race, but it was interpreted that way due to the time period in which it was released. This was a bold move for Peele, and an influential step in the horror genre, which has historically treated black characters with apathy or even hatred. Peele sets out to debunk the myth of post-racialism by showing that the country is still influenced by historically conditioned views on race.

 

The mysterious origins of April fools day

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Even though April fools day (also called All Fools’ Day) may not be as popular as Valentine’s day or Christmas, there are some people who wait all year to celebrate this goofy holiday. The amusing outcome of most celebrations consists of people pranking their friends, teachers, families, and even companies.

In 1878, New York Graphic published an article convincing people that Edison had solved the problem of world hunger with a machine that could manufacture “biscuit, meat, vegetables and wine” out of nothing more than air, water and dirt, and people really believed it!

However, are all these pranks what this “day for fools” is really about? Where did it come from? As dearly as we hold the tradition of making fools of the people we care about, there are more than enough theories about where April Fools’ Day came from.

Notice the following statement about April Fools Day from the Encyclopedia Britannica: “Although it has been observed for centuries in several countries, the origin of the custom is unknown. It resembles other festivals, such as the Hilaria of ancient Rome (March 25) and the Holi festival of India (ending March 31). Its timing seems related to the vernal equinox (March 21), when nature ‘fools’ mankind with sudden changes in the weather.” Regardless of its origin, people use April Fools’ Day as an excuse to “play the fool.”

According to blog.dictionary.com, one theory is that it began in 1582, when France adopted the Gregorian calendar. Before then, New Year’s Day fell on March 25, not Jan. 1st. and April fools were those who still celebrated the holiday in the spring, and were the subject of pranks and ridicule by those who observed the new year months ago.

In the Netherlands, the origin of April Fools’ Day is often attributed to the Dutch victory at Brielle in 1572, where the Spanish Duke Álvarez de Toledo was defeated. “Op 1 April verloor Alva zijn bril” is a Dutch proverb, which can be translated to “On the first of April, Alva lost his glasses.” In this case, the glasses (“bril” in Dutch) serve as a metaphor for Brielle. In shorter words, they turned it into a mocking of Alvarez, making him look like a fool.

Even though history does not provide an authoritative source to determine this holiday’s exact basis and origin people will continue to celebrate and use it as an excuse to pull crazy pranks, and get away with it.

This is old European art representing
This is old European art representing “fools.” Photo Courtesy of The Grateful American Foundation.

 

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