Last evening I finally took it upon myself to watch Whiplash, the 2014 Oscar winning film about an obsessed jazz drummer and his borderline psychotic music conductor. I realize I’m a little late to the film game here but I have a lot more free time now as it so happens. One of the biggest lines from the movie that sticks out to me is J.K. Simmons’ character’s line: “The two most harmful words in the English language are good job.”
In the Year of Our Lord 2020, a diffuse understanding of what constitutes “media” has increasingly flooded the world with easily consumable content—Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, Disney+, and others create and distribute online television and movies, while the traditional Hollywood studio system works frantically to keep pace with its nimble digital competitors. Alongside cable television, this triumvirate of mainstream content-makers contends with the proliferation of media that has arisen in recent years—podcasts, fringe websites, talk radio, YouTube, social media. With a camera and microphone nestled neatly in your pocket, one can create, edit, and distribute content of any kind with ease—and the cultural impact, like the technology that enables it, is rapidly evolving.
Recently, a phenomenon has emerged where the phrase and concept “mental health” has become a popular method to gain clout for both celebrities and wannabe celebrities. As society has become a slightly more accepting place for people struggling with their mental health, rappers and singers, as well as TV and film, have tried to use this heightened societal focus for clout.
Those of you who know me are probably aware of the fact that I’m a massive Batman fan. I grew up watching the animated series, dressing up, and reading stories about Batman. So naturally one of my favorite villains, if not my favorite, has been the Joker. Completely devoid of morality or any sense of human decency, the Joker causes chaos and mayhem wherever he goes, pissing off Batman and driving him ever closer to the edge. One of the reasons I think the Joker makes such a good villain is that he has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He is just this being of pure evil that has no regard for any of his actions and how they affect people.
Initially, 13 Reasons Why was praised for bringing attention to issues of mental health among adolescents. The show was characterized as “daring” for addressing such a controversial and complicated subject. However, many mental health professionals have criticized the show for misrepresenting depression and suicide. While there are certainly come aspects of the show that beneficially portray issues of mental health, as a whole, it fails in this respect.
When I was in middle school, my family’s favorite show to watch was Monk. A crime procedural show about a detective with OCD, Monk always delivered a gripping mystery mixed perfectly with humor (often at the expense of Adrian Monk, the detective.) I still love this show, and for years after those cowards at Netflix removed it from their service, I’d scour the internet to be able to re-watch it. But since the end of high school my feelings on the show have definitely matured, especially in regards to how the show portrays OCD.
America, look what you made Taylor Swift do. After spending the last several years struggling to win back public favor amid waves of media criticism and online hate comments, Swift has finally found a way to tug at the public’s heartstrings once more. She achieves this not through her usual glossy pop anthems but through the more subtle art of film (and no, I don’t mean Cats.)
After investing four years into The Good Place and becoming way too emotionally attached to the characters, I sat down to watch the finale in January, praying that it didn’t let me down: I have been burned too many times by a great show ending in a terrible finale (Looking at you, Game of Thrones, How I Met Your Mother; need I go on?). Thankfully, though, this time I was not disappointed. The 90-minute finale brought a bittersweet end to the incredible journey this show took us on.
Do you hate yourself? Well, of course you do, you’re reading the paper. In that case, I have the perfect show for you: Bojack Horseman. This Netflix original follows the story of Bojack, a washed-up sitcom actor who has failed to accomplish anything meaningful since his show’s cancellation. Throughout the show, he attempts to recapture his fame and improve his character. Also, the world of Bojack is inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, but don’t let its happy exterior fool you: Bojack Horseman is one of the darkest shows on Netflix. It frequently explores topics like existentialism, mental illness, and substance abuse; the perfect show for people who enjoy seeing their hopes and dreams crumble before their eyes.
What’s more beautiful than sharing food? Sharing music—and, you ask, what happens when you share both? Love, which is exactly what Fordham University provided its students on February 5th, 2020, yet another year of our Lord. Preparing for a quick lunch date, we were walking to the Mecca of Fordham University, the cafeteria, excited by the thought of consuming its nutritional product, and not expecting anything out of the ordinary. What we found, however, was extraordinary—the real fountain of youth—a small band of six middle-aged men playing jazz. Notably, the drummer of the band resembled an older version of one of our very own Editor-In-Chiefs, Christian Decker. All the more delightful!