Sanders and Clinton: The Democratic Debate

As the United States approaches the year 2016, we find ourselves looking at all the possible candidates that can be the future leaders of our country. The most recent, and likely one of the more popular debates that has been seen is the debate of the democrat candidates in 2015. The biggest names among the group were Hillary Clinton, the most popular and well-liked candidate who is most likely to receive a nomination. And there was also Bernie Sanders, an up-and-coming candidate who is a senator from Vermont and has a very clear stance on politics, pointing out corruption and injustices that have been committed over the last 30 or so years.

These two were the biggest names in the debate and for good reason. Clinton is the most-likely to receive the nomination as she is exactly what the Democratic Party is looking for: Someone who is able to represent their views in a suitable manner while also having skills and beliefs that everyone can agree with when it comes to leadership. Her time working in the office with her husband Bill Clinton would certainly give her experience and if she won, she would be the first female president of the United States. Considering that the US has just recently had their first-ever black president, it makes sense to keep the change going by having a female in office for the first time.

Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is very much a liberal. He has strong views on the government as a whole and on the country. Sanders has been both praised and criticized for his strong Socialist beliefs on having free medical care, free college tuition, and placing larger taxes on the 1% of American corporations that make trillions of dollars every year. He has garnered much attention from the millennial generation and minorities, receiving a great deal of support after announcing that he plans to run for the presidency to change the horrors that he has seen. Sanders has made his position very clear on #Black Lives Matter as he stated in the Democrat debate saying, “We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major, major reforms in a broken criminal justice system in which we have more people in jail than China. And I intend to tackle that issue to make sure that our people have education and jobs, rather than jail cells.”

The debate was full of incredible moments where politicians addressed tough issues such as #Black Lives Matter, and Planned Parenthood and the fire that it has received. All politicians gave it their best, however it was Clinton and Sanders that stole the spotlight and received the most attention. While many young voters are hoping to see Bernie inaugurated into office, many opinion polls hold Hilary as the top candidate. It seems that Bernie is just too far left for politicians to consider appropriate for leadership. There was a rumor going around the internet, starting on the popular website Reddit – where Sanders has garnered plenty of support – that CNN’s official website took down their Facebook opinion poll where their viewers voted on who won the election, with Sanders having a staggering 82% lead over the other candidates, saying that it was taken down so that their viewers would be able to believe their articles saying that Clinton won the debate. This turned out to be nothing more than a rumor as the poll still exists on the official Facebook page with the solid results that have Sanders at the top. However, there are plenty more opinion polls that have Hilary Clinton at the head of the line, so Sanders supporters shouldn’t get their hopes too high unless they include their vote in the primaries.

There were rumors of Vice-President Joe Biden planning to run for office, and many people were surprised that he was absent from the debate. It turns out that Biden was rumored to run for the presidency, but not too long after the debate he held a press conference on October 21st putting the rumors to rest, saying that he was not going to run. For some, this is a disappointment and for others it is a surprise. Nevertheless, much of the Democratic Party is focused on Sanders and Clinton to see who will win the nomination.

As for the Republican Party, there is a very large majority from both sides of the political line that simply hope it’s anyone but Donald Trump.

Representation in Modern Animation

Cartoons have been and will always continue to be for kids, speaking in terms of the majority. They were made for everyone in the beginning, with a Bugs Bunny cartoon meant to entertain children and their families when they brought them to the only places that would show cartoons at the time – movie theaters. Now everyone enjoys a great classic, while also enjoying the evolution of cartoons over the last few decades. In more recent years, kids and young adults are able to see more representation in certain shows where most would have the simple white family and school with the occasional black friend, though those were rather rare.

However, with these new representations and many of the children of the 90’s and 00’s not willing to let go of their childhoods just yet, the audience has expanded from young children to adults as old as 25. Many audiences are thrilled to see a new generation of cartoons taking shape and showing more representation in their characters, as well as giving a darker side to the cartoons and giving deeper meanings to the people that watch it.

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One of the more famous cartoons of recent years is The Legend of Korra cartoon made by Brian Konietzko and Michael DiMartino is the sequel series to their famous work in Avatar: The Last Airbender. The cartoons take you to a mystical land heavily-inspired and created through Asian culture where there are people capable of manipulating the elements at will and using them to their advantage, no matter whether it’s good or bad and the show makes a point of showing you both and keeping many characters in the “grey” area between good and evil. The Avatar being the most powerful of them all, able to bend all four elements. Avatar: The Last Airbender has often been praised for its unique storytelling as well as representation among their main cast, with all of them arguably being people of color, and one of them being handicapped with blindness. The Legend of Korra was quick to make waves after, showing a young woman as the new avatar with incredible skill, while also being one of the first bisexual characters to appear on a cartoon show and having it be recognized by audience and crew.

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Though it was not completely explicit in this as some might have liked, it was still incredible and greatly supported by the audience. Korra was also rather famous for showing the darker side of mental illness, putting Korra through rather traumatic events that caused her to have intense PTSD for a majority of the final season. It is praised for it’s forward-thinking as well as its unique animation style which has often been compared to the intricate animation of Japan.

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Another, and one of the more recent cartoons, and likely the most famous for their wide variety of racial and gender representation is the Steven Universe cartoon made by Rebecca Sugar. The cartoon is a science fiction tale of a young boy named Steven, who lives with three alien beings that are known as the Crystal Gems. There is Pearl, the tall, motherly, undoubtedly elegant and organized Gem that once was in love with Steven’s late mother Rose Quartz. There is Amethyst, the scrappy little purple Gem that has a rather messy fighting style as well as eating habits, and is recognized by both the audience and the crew members as genderfluid, even though the preferred pronouns used for Amethyst are She/Her, though there are episodes where Amethyst can be seen looking like a rather masculine man known as the wrestler Purple Puma. While she is technically an alien, Amethyst is also considered a person of color. The third Gem that steven lives with is Garnet, the leader of the three. She stands tall and proud with a cool attitude and serenity, with immense power and an ability to read into the future, while also being undeniably another person of color.

Steven Universe has been argued to be one of the more forward-thinking cartoon shows of the current cartoon era as it not only has the main cast being people of color, but also many of the supporting cast, including Steven’s love interest Connie Maheswaran. There are multiple characters shown throughout the show with their own small story arcs as they interact with Steven and the Gems, with only a few of the typical white American families showing their faces among the crowd, though they aren’t always considered typical. There is also, and more notably, the character Garnet. Garnet was revealed to actually be something called a fusion Gem, meaning that she is a being created from two Gems known as Ruby and Sapphire. She is a living representation of a lesbian relationship. Many of the actual voice cast are also people of color, with the well-known singer Estelle playing as Garnet, Deedee Magno-hall playing as Pearl, Erika Shukrani Luttrell playing as Sapphire, Michaela Dietz playing as Amethyst, and even a celebrity appearance by Nicki Minaj as the voice of Sugilite – the fusion of Garnet and Amethyst.  

Steven Universe shows a wide appeal to many audiences with deep and intricate story lines surrounding the lore of the Gems and their society, as well as how the Crystal Gems came to protect earth after a long and arduous war for it over 5,000 years ago. It also appeals to many people of color and those of the LGBT+ spectrum by showing support for them with their own character cast. There is also the main character himself, Steven Universe, who has been seen breaking a few of the usual boundaries made for main characters by being a young, chubby boy that has a kind heart and is rather quick to emotion. This is not something seen in most of the main characters involving young boys, as they’re often shown as rough-and-tumble types that will never shed a tear. Steven Universe is a boy that will cry over the fact that snakes don’t have arms, loves the color pink, and isn’t afraid to wear a dress and work it like no one else.

With these new forward-thinking shows, it looks like there will be promising representation in the future for all people of color, as well as those outside of the heterosexual orientation, and the gender binary norm. Steven Universe has already garnered quite the large and well-known fan base online for its representation along with its rather intricate story line. Many people of the millennial generation, or those within the 12-25 age range are hoping to see a great deal more of the show and will continue to support it as long as it’s airing.

2015 Emmy Awards

     Everyone knows of the Emmy awards. Everyone knows these kinds of shows, where they have lovely trophies to honor those that work in show business from producers to directors to composers and to actors especially. The Emmy awards and the Oscars are two of the largest televised awards shows in the United States, both of them involve show business, but with a significant difference in how they are chosen. The Oscars are chosen through a group of judges from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, people who are able to give well-thought out opinions on films down to the very last detail. The Emmy awards, unlike the Oscars, are chosen from the votes of the people that are in the same business – performers voting on performers, directors on directors, and so on. Each Emmy is chosen by a group of the nominees peers.

     With this in mind, it’s also rather notorious for these awards shows to have bias. The Oscars’ group of judges have been known to be terrible snobs, with a predominantly white group of people winning these awards. The Emmys are not too different, with many white actors and actresses receiving awards over their non-white peers. The year 2015 seemed to take a different stance, giving out multiple awards to many women of color. The most notable of which being Viola Davis making history as the first black woman to receive the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her work on “How to Get Away with Murder.” Other notable awards were Regina King for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her work on “American Crime,” and Uzoamaka Aduba who won two Emmys under the categories of comedy and drama for her work on “Orange is the New Black.” She became the first woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series and in its drama category counterpart for the same role.

     And it should also be noted that many of the nominees for these awards included more black women than before. For Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, there was also Angela Basset and Mo’nique Imes-Jackson alongside actresses like Kathy Bates. In Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Viola Davis was also up along with Taraji Henson.

     Viola Davis’s speech was rather historical in itself, starting off with a quote from Harriet Tubman, “In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me, over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.” The rest of her speech celebrated black women, saying that the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. She spoke out many names of famous black actresses such as Halle Berry, Taraji P. Henson, Kerry Washington, Nicole Behari, and Meagan Good and thank them for helping women of color to cross that line. It was a show of how important it is to be a black woman, how important it is to overcome boundaries that have been set in a society where pale skin is treasured above everything else, it was a show of sisterhood and support and it was awe-inspiring.

     Another notable moment, while it was not worthy of an award, it was certainly heartwarming like one. It was Tracy Morgan making his appearance on television at the Primetime Emmy awards for the first time since his rather major car accident last year. The accident caused a lot of neurological damage, as well as putting him in a coma for 8 days, and when he awoke he found that he lost one of his closest friends in that accident as well. It was incredible to see him walking out onto the stage unassisted and speaking in full sentences with no trouble. It was a moment of victory for him, and for everyone watching that knew what a fragile state he was in before.

     It was a truly spectacular night full of well-deserved awards to many actors and actresses who worked hard for their places in entertainment. Hollywood is notorious in its need to cover up color and replace with nice white people, but this year’s Emmy awards were a celebration of color. As more representation is placed on the screen of national television, it looks like there will be great recognition for people of color in the future, and hopefully next year’s Emmy will be studded with even more colorful stars.

Fantastic Four Flop

One thing that cannot be denied about today’s modern media is that superheroes have grown immensely popular. Marvel studios has put out more and more movies, especially following its time where it was given to Disney in 2009 not too long after the release of their first Marvel-Studios sanctioned movie of Iron man in 2008. Before that time, many of the Marvel movies such as the first Spiderman was owned by Sony and The Fantastic Four was owned by 20th Century Fox Studios. Recently, along with a few Spiderman reboot series that were produced in 2012 and 2014, another attempt was made to reboot The Fantastic Four in what might be the biggest movie flop of this generation.

The movie starts off easily enough, giving some back story to the characters of Reed Richards, also known as Mr. Fantastic, and Ben Grimm, also known as The Thing. The entire film is an origin story of how the Fantastic Four came to be, talking about how Reed wanted nothing more than to be the first person to invent teleportation. What he didn’t realize was, in his research, he ended up making teleportation to another dimension rather than to another location on earth. This caught the attention of Dr. Franklin Storm, a scientist researching inter-dimensional travel, and he asks Reed to become part of his program, making him part of the primary research team which includes his son Johnny Storm, also known as the Human Torch, and his adopted daughter Susan Storm, also known as Miss Invisible. After researching and finding a successful means of travel to another planet in another dimension, things go horribly awry after they attempt to send themselves there to make their mark before any government jerks get their hands on their success. From there, it goes downhill having their bodies gain their superpowers and are then trained to be used as weapons for the government while also preparing to find a way back to that other planet to use it for resources.

There were many changes made to the movie in comparison to the films that arose in 2005. One of the biggest differences was in the casting, making Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) black as well as his father (Reg E Cathy), while making Susan Storm (Kate Mara) their white, adopted daughter. When it was first known that Johnny was going to be black, there were mixed results in the aftermath. Some were outraged, saying that you can’t make a guy black when he’s supposed to be white. Others supported the decision, thinking it was good of Fox studios to attempt getting some more representation because the world needs more black superheroes. However, the movie was such a gigantic flop and when even the trailers didn’t look that interesting, most people were completely unaware of the decision and didn’t care.

The movie itself is terrible. The characters are as flat as possible, showing very little emotion throughout the film, with the exception of a scene where some of them were drunk. There is very little backstory on all of them, so their character introductions are horribly rushed. The effects of the movie were lovely to look at, however many feel that it would have been better to have the movie released in 3D and the director refused to do so. The director was Josh Trank, who directed other movies such as Chronicle. This pretty much summarizes his entire career as a director other than his work on Fantastic Four. All others he participated in he was mostly doing so as an editor, not as a writer or a director. And much of the blame for the 120 million dollar movie’s disastrous opening weekend, which only gave Fox 26 million dollars, is put on him.

According to different sources from the set, Trank was often withdrawn from others as he created the film, spending most of his time in his trailer instead of with others on set. And although Fox was reluctant to micro-manage their director as they didn’t wish to gain that kind of reputation, Trank was quick to micro-manage his actors down to the point where he would tell them when to blink and breathe during their scenes to keep their characters as flat as possible. He was not kind to his actors either, often getting into fights with them over the scene and being abusive to Kate Mara, who played Susan Storm despite his objections to her casting. Though it never escalated to fist fights with the actors, it did almost get to that point with Miles Teller, who fought with him very often due to his sarcastic nature and Trank’s rather withdrawn personality.

Now with 20th Century Fox out over 60 million dollars, it’s not likely that they will put trust in Trank, despite his success with his movie Chronicle that he directed for them in the past. Trank’s reputation as a director is unsightly, and the hopes of seeing more representation among future superhero cast members is not strong. Luckily, this movie was not made by the same studio that created the Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America movies. So perhaps Marvel fans can hope to see more black superheroes in the cast for any upcoming films.

Goosebumps on the Silver Screen

By Payton Pruitt

            There are many people who can remember being terrified by horror and ghost stories throughout their lives. One of the ways that were most popular, especially around the time people went to middle school, was the Goosebumps horror story series written by R. L. Stine. These books have monsters of all varieties scaring kids of the story’s demographic that would send spine-tingling, nightmare-making, heart-falling-into-the-stomach feeling of fear that one would expect from a good scary story. However, unlike the more adult horror stories, none of them end in death (the demographic plays a large part in this obviously) but it also leaves the reader with the lingering feeling that the monsters could come back.

Goosebumps is a very successful book series that was created back in 1992, and it gained much more popularity after it was selected as a Scholastic’s book series, making it allowable in school libraries, both public and private. There were no new books made after 1997, however there is no one within that time that didn’t know about R. L. Stine’s monsters, like the abominable snowman, and the ever-popular Slappy the dummy. Stine likes to describe his stories as ones that are “scary books that are also funny.” Now as we approach 2015, over 20 years after the series was started, we get to see a Goosebumps movie.

Considering that Goosebumps was the series that not only gained its own television show, nine spin-off book series, three video games, a stage play written by Rupert Holmes, along with merchandise like T-shirts, puzzles, board games, hats, dolls, fake skulls, fake blood, bike helmets, and boxer shorts, it’s surprising we didn’t get a movie sooner.

However, given that the series has also been met with a multitude of challenges over the years, it isn’t that surprising. According to the American Library Association (ALA) a challenge is defined as “an attempt by a person or group to remove or restrict materials from a library or school curriculum.” While Goosebumps is an undoubtedly entertaining horror series that helps to get kids interested, there are many schools and adults who will say that the books are not appropriate for young people and have banned it from their school library, saying that it’s too frightening and depicts occult or satanic themes. Considering the genre, it’s hard to avoid that sort of stigma and there are plenty of people that are not happy about it. From 1990-1999 Goosebumps was the 15th on the list of most frequently challenged books by the ALA, and 94th on the list of top banned/challenged books during 2000-2009.

The movie will star Jack Black as R. L. Stine, though it’s rumored that the real R. L. Stine will make an appearance amongst the cast as well, or perhaps he’ll be a greeter at the end of the film. The story of the movie is that a young man named Zach, played by Dylan Minnette, moves to a new town next door to a girl named Hannah, played by Odeya Rush, and her father R. L. Stine. As Zach starts to notice strange goings-on next door, he decides to investigate, and upon his investigation, he discovers a large collection of manuscripts in the house. As he looks them over, he accidentally ends up releasing all of Stine’s monsters from the Goosebumps stories and sets them loose on the town. So it’s up to him, the author, his daughter, and his friend to find them all and put them back in the books before it’s too late.

The first attempt to make a Goosebumps movie was in 1998, just a year after the books were no longer being released, however it never materialized. In 2008, Columbia Pictures gained the rights to make a Goosebumps film and asked people who worked on the television show to come in and be part of it. When writing the script, everyone agreed that it would be best not to stick to any one story of the Goosebumps books, believing them to be too short. They worked together to find a way to create a universe where all the monsters could exist at once – what better universe than the one the author calls home? They elected to make it a fake biographical film where every monster that Stine writes about would come to life and had to be hidden away for the safety of the world.

The movie promises a mixture of humor and thrills so that the entire family can enjoy reliving the monsters from their childhood. It is said to be released on October 15th of this year and hopefully everyone can enjoy it as a good Halloween movie. Here’s hoping that your hands don’t shake too much that you lose all your popcorn!

#LoveWins – Gay Marriage Finally Becomes Legal in the United States

After many years of hard fought struggle, advocating, and political correctness the LGBT+ community was finally able to have a victory on June 6, 2015 when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages nationwide. This simply means that many same-sex couples who have been denied the right to be married are now able to join into the incredibly important and legally binding union that allows them to have privileges that they couldn’t get beforehand in states where it was previously banned.

With this overturning, many same-sex couples will have rights that they were previously denied, and this does not just include a wedding. It also includes hospital visitation rights, spousal benefits for social security, adoption benefits (including no longer being denied adoption in the case of going around marriage and adopting their partner to receive the same benefits of being family), and being able to take someone to court over denying their right to marry. These people have worked long and hard to have this right and it is a great victory for the nation.

There are some states that are not pleased with this, obviously. This is mainly among the thirteen states of the US which previously did not allow same-sex marriage. In certain parts of the state of Alabama, as a way to avoid having to see these marriages take place, they have banned marriage and marriage licenses completely. Geneva County is one of these places, and a probate judge named Fred Hamic said that he had the right to refuse to issue marriage licenses. In a statement to the Dothan Eagle he said that Section 30-1-9 of the Alabama Code of 1975 said that a probate judge may issue a marriage license, but he doesn’t have to. This is one way for them to avoid having to go through such an uncomfortable process.

With this Supreme Court ruling, there are bound to be many people who are against it showing their displeasure towards it. There are those who use religion as an excuse, and there are those who don’t but rather instead say that it’s unnatural, that it’s wrong simply because they do not enjoy it. There are those who honestly believe it is against what God intended, though they do not judge them for that lifestyle. There are many different ways to disagree with it, though there are many who simply reply with “Does it affect you? Does the fact that these strangers getting married hurt you or change you in some way? It doesn’t? Then stop complaining about it.”

However, it should be known that marriage is not the total victory for gay rights. There are many great people in history that were part of the LGBT+ community. There are still many schools with a bias against gay rights and history, as well as many sexual education courses not even including anything about sex with a partner of the same gender. Marriage is not the final victory ground, there is still much that needs to be done. It is important that future generations are educated about these interests, and are more inclusive when they think about the people they may be with. Not just those of the opposite gender, but those that they truly care about. Although marriage rights are certainly a step in that direction. For now, there are so many countless people that are thrilled to finally be able to marry the one they love in their hometown and not have to have every member of their families fly out to San Francisco or some other far off city in order to see them marry and have their dream wedding.

Here’s hoping that the next generation won’t even think about discrimination against someone who decides to pursue someone of the same gender, or the opposite gender, or even someone who has no gender. Let’s hope that with new access to new and more powerful technology, they will be able to learn what schools exclude and know how to be safe when they go further with the one they love.