“Game of Thrones” season circles back to roots, aims for satisfying conclusion

HBO’s iconic, zeitgeist-shifting television series, “Game of Thrones,” has a lot of narrative ground to cover in its final season. With a shortened six-episode finale, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are even more crunched for time than a typical 10-episode season would allow for.

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Dewey: Stars’ politicking inspires fans to become civically engaged

Popular rapper Kanye West walked into the White House on Thursday Oct. 11 and gushed for ten minutes straight about his admiration for the current administration to a silent President Donald Trump and guest Jim Brown. This clip was recorded by the press and went viral instantaneously. 

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Album Review: Twenty One Pilots continues excellence with latest release

Despite some critical disdain, alt-rock duo Twenty One Pilots have steadfastly clung to the uniquely odd style that propelled them into the mainstream. With their fifth studio album Trench, the band has given their listeners the same idiosyncrasies in a pleasing way.  

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Critics necessary in film industry conversations

Movies, like every other piece of art, are often the subject of criticism. Professional critics judge popular movies with an emphasis on both box office success and observations based on expected standards of quality.  

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Podcasts should be recognized as legitimate form of entertainment

Television, music and movies are typically the main channels that come to mind when one thinks of entertainment, but that should no longer be the case. 

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Indie flicks prominent in throng of static, formulaic franchise films

Everyone has at least one movie they can watch again and again without tire. This concept, however, reflects the heightened creation of cookie-cutter franchise film productions that have only lately been challenged by the increase in acclaimed, individualistic indie films. 

This repetitive movie-watching attitude is a result of a massive boom of sequential films that have been crowding movie theaters and Netflix queues. Big budget blockbuster series like Transformers, The Maze Runner and the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been juggernauts of the movie business, producing financial hit after financial hit. This is due in part to how formulaic these films are are. 

All three companies take well-known properties with significant nostalgic appeal and make multiple films that expand their universes, while at the same time still retaining a very similar stylistic approach to each film. Yes, the plots may vary, but it’s hard to expect significant changes within the score, cinematography and the general look and feel of each film in a given movie company. 

While this may have worked for a while, it’s clear that general audiences are taking annoyance with these formulas. Take for example Universal’s Dark Universe, a planned series of films putting famous monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon into one cinematic universe. 

The first film in this series, 2017’s The Mummy, was met with negative reception from critics and the box office. Critiques of the film boil it down to a single point: the director and producers were so focused on building a cinematic universe, that they forgot to actually make an enjoyable movie. 

21st Century Fox took advantage of the over-saturation of franchise films with the critical and box office hits Logan and Deadpool. Logan takes a much more serious and dramatic take on the X-Men, while Deadpool is filled to the brim with raunchy jokes, fourth-wall breaks and excellent pacing thanks to a nonlinear narrative. The different stylistic takes on two comic book characters was a refreshing change for moviegoers expecting a run-of-the-mill Marvel film.

In light of all of this, newly released indie films have been a standout in the throng of monotonous storylines. Films like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Lady Bird have enjoyed financial success as well as significant recognition at the Oscars and the Golden Globes. While both films’ plots aren’t exactly revolutionary, it’s the talent and style that each director uses that sets each film apart. 

Directors have one purpose when making Indie films: to create a competently made piece of art that expresses what they want to say rather than what will allow the next sequel to be made. 

This shift to putting an emphasis on a director’s vision over a producer’s plan for 10 more films is a breath of fresh air for the film industry. While franchise films certainly aren’t in any financial danger, it’ll be great to see more directors have the chance to create their own original cinematic masterpieces.

Arts Opinion: Female musicians wrongfully snubbed at Grammy awards

There were high hopes for women in the music industry at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony on Jan. 28. This year’s nominations received praise for inclusivity, representing many artists of color as well as women. 

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Necessary for Hollywood to improve representation of minorities in industry

Hollywood is notorious for its poor representation of actors across all genders and races. For years, there has been plenty of backlash over how minorities are treated and portrayed within the entertainment industry, but there has been some progress lately in the casting of these individuals in movies.

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Artwork created by Guantanamo inmates needs more meaning in relation to political context

The Department of Defense has recently released a statement saying that art created by Guantanamo inmates is government property, and thus is also prohibited from leaving the prison.

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Works created by accused sexual abusers separate from their wrongdoings

There have been a series of disturbing reports about famous men committing sexual misconduct: Harvey Weinstein, Ben Affleck, Kevin Spacey, Jeffrey Tambor, Brett Ratner, Louis C.K., Matt Lauer and many others have all been accused of varying levels of inappropriate to outright criminal behavior. 

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Rapper Eminem rightly addresses political issues in outspoken verses

Eminem ignited the Internet on the evening of Oct. 10 when BET’s Hip-Hop Awards aired a video of the long time rapper’s anti-Trump freestyle entitled “The Storm.” 

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Guggenheim Museum wrongly commercializes animal cruelty

The Guggenheim Museum in New York City opened an exhibition in October titled, “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World,” which displayed, in their definition, “contemporary art,” from China between 1989 and 2008. 

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Fan fiction showcases written innovation

With the growing amount of fictional series fan bases, fan fiction is a unique genre of writing that was born through love, admiration and creativity among fans. 

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Filmmakers touch on racial problems in modern America

Directors Jordan Peele and Kathryn Bigelow sent shockwaves throughout the nation with the releases of their daring and racial films Get Out and Detroit, respectively. The two groundbreaking movies both directly and obliquely emphasize the dangers of racism. While Get Out examines how racism is still prevalent today—especially by less obvious means—Detroit stresses how past acts of racial terrorism must never be overlooked.

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Internet erupts at all-female Lord of Flies remake

There’s a raging debate going on in the Internet world about the possible new Lord of the Flies remake. What about the remake is making them enraged, you ask? The adaptation will feature an all-female cast. 

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Swift’s current music style stirs fan controversy

Making waves since its release on Aug. 25, Taylor Swift’s new single “Look What You Made Me Do” has created a lot of debate in the music industry. “LWYMMD” is the first single released from Swift’s upcoming album, Reputation

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Cosby’s books independent of author’s criminal allegations

Hop on Pop. James and the Giant Peach. A Wrinkle in Time. Harry Potter. Some of our favorite childhood stories have earned a spot on the American Library Association’s list of Frequently Challenged Children’s Books, and Bill Cosby’s Little Bill series is next. 

The list is based off “reports from libraries, schools and the media on attempts to ban books in communities across the country,” according to the ALA. While the ALA does not endorse the banning of these books, they compile such lists to “inform the public about censorship efforts that affect libraries in schools.” 

In 2016, the ALA found that Cosby’s Little Bill children’s book series was one of the top 10 challenged books that year. The series was challenged so often due to “criminal sexual allegations against the author.”

The book series, which has also been adapted into a successful children’s television show, is centered on Bill Jr., a five-year-old black boy living in Philadelphia. The series’ placement on the list of challenged books is highly unusual since it is the first book to be challenged solely due to issues with its author rather than its content, according to The New York Times. 

This leaves us with one question: do Cosby’s books deserve to be taken off the shelves because of the allegations made against him? 

On one hand, the books themselves are innocent—they do not include any questionable or inappropriate content. In fact, the books—which are made for beginner readers—teach valuable lessons on everything from lying to imagination to taking turns. 

This separation of creator and content calls to mind recent issues with Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation and Casey Affleck’s Manchester By The Sea. Both films, despite the valuable content they portrayed, were boycotted due to Parker and Affleck’s previous sexual harassment charges.  

The issue with the Little Bill series is perhaps more complicated considering Cosby’s young character seems to reflect the comedian himself. Bill Jr. shares the author’s name and hometown of Philadelphia, which suggests that Little Bill is a younger version of Cosby. 

When the actor was one of the world’s favorite comedians, this parallel was charming and inventive. Now that Cosby’s skeletons have emerged from the closet, however, parents seem to believe that reading his books is akin to justifying his actions. 

What some fail to realize, though, is that many beloved American authors—like Thomas Jefferson—have just as alarming backgrounds as Cosby, if not worse, yet we still rank them as some of our country’s best and brightest. It’s now known that Jefferson often raped his slaves, but we still recognize him as one of our great Founding Fathers and study his writings. 

The fact remains that Cosby’s books are valuable tools that teach young readers a variety of lessons, not to mention that they provide representation for black youth. If we choose to ignore the pasts of some authors in order to preserve the value of their work, we must do the same for all artists.

Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” glamourizes teen suicide

Netflix original series have completely revolutionized the television industry as we know it, as the online platform continues to produce hit after hit. Most recently, Netflix has begun adapting well-known books into television series. Earlier this year, viewers saw the release of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” and now, a re-working of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why.

“Thirteen Reasons Why” was released as a television series by Netflix on March 31. The series, based off Asher’s New York Times bestselling novel, follows the point of view of high schooler Clay, who was allegedly involved in fellow classmate Hannah’s choice to commit suicide. 

Hannah leaves behind 13 cassette tapes, each describing a person who contributed to her death, and creates a makeshift scavenger hunt around her hometown. Clay is given a map and ordered to travel to each of the places Hannah describes, all while listening to her voice on an 80s-inspired vintage cassette tape as Joy Division and The Cure drearily play in the series’ soundtrack.

The series has gained mass following and rave reviews, but it is also a perfect illustration of a story that glamorizes suicide. While it is based off Asher’s novel, the Netflix adaptation goes even deeper to create a beautiful, romantic 80s essence around a subject that is neither of these things.

A story about the impact of a person’s death is an incredibly harmful one to impressionable viewers and readers. While the knowledge that Hannah’s death had such a wide impact on her high school peers may be sadly comforting, this is something that Hannah will never be able to experience. This concept is widely overshadowed. As Hannah’s voice is narrating throughout the entire show, it gives the eerie illusion that she is still present.

Furtherwmore, while creating a story of the impact of someone’s death is one thing, blaming others for an essentially personal decision is on a completely different level. As Hannah chose each of her “13 reasons,” she points fingers, creating a lifetime of guilt for 13 people. 

She even threatens to release the tapes to the public if the people who are mentioned on tape do not follow her exact instructions. This aspect of the story highlights the overarching theme of vengeance and manipulation, rather than mental health or suicide.

It may come as no surprise since this book was widely successful when it was first published, to the point where it has finally made it onto the small screen. The concept of “Thirteen Reasons Why” is incredibly enticing due to the mystery and the taboo behind what causes someone to take their own life. 

When it comes down to it, however, the reason behind someone taking their own life is no one’s business other than their own. This is something that the book, and now television series, tragically fails to capture.

As a serious matter, presenting suicide in a juvenile manner to many impressionable viewers is nothing short of irresponsible. 

With the national suicide rate being at an all-time high in the past 30 years, it is disappointing to see that the Netflix producers saw this book as a lucrative business opportunity when in actuality it is triggering. “Thirteen Reasons Why” may be a huge hit as a Netflix original show, but it will unquestionably contribute to our culture’s fascination with mental illness in all the wrong ways.

YouTube’s restricted mode discriminates against LGBTQ+ community

YouTube is no stranger to controversy; their recent introduction of a new feature to their video streaming website has certainly made waves. Their new “restricted mode” is geared specifically toward parents wishing to filter out inappropriate content, but who still want to allow their children to enjoy the videos that the website offers. While the feature is still relatively new, it’s obvious that there are still many kinks that YouTube must work out. 

The largest issue concerning the restricted mode is its insensitivity to the LGBTQ+ community. The new feature appears to target and block many LGBTQ+ related videos, regardless of how innocent they may be. In fact, oftentimes the videos being blocked have no reason for being deemed inappropriate—except for the fact that the people in the videos identify as LGBTQ+. Clearly, this is sexual discrimination and it is not appropriate. 

YouTube—which is owned by Google—is not actually the entity in charge of deeming what videos are inappropriate; rather, the feature forms its own judgment through what content users flag. 

Considering the abundance of homophobia still present worldwide, it’s not especially surprising that there is a considerable amount of people who would want to flag content created by members of the LGBTQ+ community. This, however, is evidence that YouTube does need to take initiative to ensure that new features transition seamlessly, instead of fully relying on a poorly formulated code.

Since YouTube has put its faith wholeheartedly in their viewers, they are now facing the repercussions of extreme backlash from the LGBTQ+ community and heterosexual allies. Many popular YouTube content creators, such as Tyler Oakley, Chelsea Kei and Gigi Gorgeous have spoken out against this issue, urging the company to adjust the feature immediately. While the feature may have been created with good intentions, it does not seem to be doing its job at all.

Even if parents want to shield their children forever from the oh-so-cruel reality that not everyone in the world is like them, YouTube already has a policy that doesn’t allow children to use the website. Once a user turns 13, YouTube welcomes young viewers to use their website with an underage account, which comes with its own restrictions that cannot be disabled. Restricted mode, however, can easily be disabled by anyone using the website. 

The restrictions for underage accounts are taken very seriously by YouTube, which makes the new feature extremely redundant—unless, of course, parents are going against YouTube’s policy and allowing their young children to use the video platform. By the age of 13, viewers will have hopefully experienced enough of the real world to realize that the LGBTQ+ community is a reality and can formulate their own opinions of their peers. Even if their opinion is negative or heavily influenced by their parents, they are aware of the concept and should make their own decisions regarding it.

While restricted mode does manage to block its fair share of inappropriate content for young viewers, inappropriate content hidden by the restricted mode (particularly music videos) is still out there to be found through loopholes. For example, if there were multiple videos released by other YouTube accounts, they could get around the mode. Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” is a perfect example. As such, if parents cannot trust their children to use YouTube, perhaps they should just block the website all together, or monitor their viewing themselves.

Despite the recent progress made concerning acceptance of sexual orientation, there remains a large population of individuals who criticize and fear members of the LGBTQ+ community. Regardless, children are being exposed to the LGBTQ+ individuals through personal experiences and other media platforms. Parents cannot prevent this exposure, even if they do use the new restricted mode. 

The world is slowly progressing, and it’s time that companies like YouTube start pushing for equality and proper representation. Thankfully, YouTube is already answering the cries and protests of their viewing community, officially stating that they are currently working to fix the problems with the faulty restricted mode.

Battles administration neglects FLO’s assets by defunding the program

The college administration and President Denise Battles’ recent decision to defund the Finger Lakes Opera came as a shock to many and a concern to more. This decision reflects the administration’s blatant disregard for the arts and reveals a mindset that is counterproductive to the mission of the college. Initially created back in 2013, FLO had strong support from the Geneseo administration. In the years following its formation, the company successfully staged one full-length production and one small show each summer. An incredibly valuable resource for internships, the opera company provided real-world experiences and opportunities for the college’s music majors–which are extremely hard to come by in this particular field.

Additionally, FLO offered internship opportunities for non-music majors in the areas of technical theatre, arts administration, marketing and more. Through these opportunities, FLO was able to give Geneseo students a competitive edge that prepared them for real world careers—unlike all other colleges in the SUNY system, none of which host a professional opera company. In fact, FLO would have eventually put Geneseo in the same category as private universities with similar programs.

Just this past summer, FLO developed an educational outreach program for children as well as a weeklong intensive vocal camp for high school students. Had the opera been able to continue this growth, there’s no doubt it would have doubled its internships and opportunities for Geneseo students and would have become a valuable recruiting tool for the college through its high school programs.

The main problem for the administration was the opera’s finances. Although the opera was growing financially, the college still provided a portion of the company’s funding and FLO still relied on Geneseo for the use of its facilities. The opera ran a small deficit this summer and “a feasible pathway toward financial sustainability has not materialized,” according to a statement sent by President Battles to the college community.

This statement is inaccurate, however. In actuality, the administration failed to consider all options available in order to keep FLO running at Geneseo. In a gross error on the part of the college, donors were contacted after the decision had been made to cease funding the opera. Had donors been contacted before making the final decision, the college may have been able to erase the opera’s small deficit.

The decision is also concerning in light of Battles’ recent email request, asking for proposals from students and faculty on how to generate revenue for the college. Although she requested help from the college community in this respect, Battles failed to do the same when it came to making the decision to defund FLO.

Angered and concerned, select students have repeatedly contacted and met with Battles, asking her to consider the wider impact this decision may have on both the college and local community.

As previously stated, however, the potential for future growth and internships far outweighed the potential fiscal cost to the college—a cost that could have been alleviated if donors had been contacted.

The college administration acted unilaterally and showed a blatant disregard for student interests. As students at a liberal arts university, we ought to be deeply troubled by this apparent disdain for the arts, which are essential for the complete education of any individual. It was not just an opera company being questioned, but a source of solace in troubled times, a way to improve the college’s reputation and a representation of Geneseo’s views on the arts and humanities.

The mission of the college is supposedly to “advance knowledge and inspire students to be socially responsible and globally aware citizens who are prepared for an enriched life and success in the world.” But how can this goal possibly be achieved when art opportunities and programs are being ruthlessly cut by those whose job it is to ensure that Geneseo’s students benefit from a well-rounded, liberal arts education?

Going forward, the college community must strongly and vocally oppose further cuts to the arts at Geneseo.