Monthly Archives: October 2014

Gone Viral

I know I usually keep my posts limited to TV shows and movies, but if a topic pisses me off enough I have to comment.

The second I saw the New York Times report about the confirmed Ebola patient in New York, I knew that the public outrage about the virus would grow exponentially. Mostly because, and I can say this because I am from New Jersey, New Yorkers love to whine and complain. The fact of the matter is that Ebola affects health care workers and the relatives of people with Ebola. The virus is not airborne, and high levels of Ebola are not found in saliva or sweat, but rather in blood, feces, and vomit. So unless someone with Ebola bleeds or vomits on the subway, you are in the clear. Boycotting public transportation only negatively affects the economy and makes you look like a fool. The incense about Ebola shouldn’t consist of people screaming, “We are all going to get Ebola! It’s an epidemic! Ban the flights!” We should be more concerned with how the health care workers interacting with Ebola patients can receive more proper training to protect them and their families.

Most people have no control over Ebola, cannot do anything about Ebola, and will not be affected by Ebola. Yet, this is the issue receiving the most media attention. The midterm elections affect the entire country, everyone can actually participate and make a difference, but you barely hear anything about them. Our Congress has an 8% approval rating, and yet voter turnout falls by roughly 15% compared with presidential elections. The G.O.P already controls the House of Representatives, and Republican control of the Senate would make it virtually impossible for President Obama to push any important issues through Congress. Do not simply vote for a Republican candidate because you define yourself as “Republican” and feel obligated to. Most Republicans wind up voting against their own self-interest; research who it is you are voting for. When the Republicans in Congress refuse to cooperate with the President, we all suffer because nothing gets accomplished. I don’t know about you, but the thought of a government shutdown scares me more than Ebola.

A midterm election might not be as exciting as a frantic medical outbreak, but it still deserves your attention. Take the ten seconds you would have spent writing an angry tweet about Ebola, and register to vote. Find out when and where to vote and figure out who’s on your state’s ballot. For my fellow college students, go online and register for absentee voting if you haven’t already. 151885_600

And that’s showbiz…kid.

Well, now that Amanda Bynes is in treatment, it was only a matter of time before the miserable trolls on social media found another woman in Hollywood to make fun of. Hey, Renée Zellweger- tag, you’re it!

Renée Zellweger holds a very special place in my heart, because Chicago is one of my favorite movies of all time. After I saw the movie in theaters I performed the soundtrack alone in my room over and over, because that is what friendless ten-year-olds do. Then that summer I went away to sleepaway camp for the first time, and was so homesick I actually thought I was dying. But then the theme of the “break out” of color war was Chicago, and I will never forget the relief that washed over me that morning when I heard Renée Zellweger singing over the loudspeaker instead of the usual bugle.

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When I first saw that Renée Zellweger had plastic surgery, I really didn’t think anything of it. We all may feel like we know her in some personal way- maybe through Chicago like me, or Bridget Jones’s Diary, or Jerry Maguire– but the fact is that we don’t know her at all. How do I know what prompted her plastic surgery? I have no idea what personal battles she may or may not be fighting. Once my twitter feed was flooded with jokes about Renée Zellweger’s “new face”, I looked closer at her post-surgery picture and I honestly think she is still just as beautiful as ever. She looks different, but why is “different” automatically negative? The goal of plastic surgery is to look different; if you walked out of a procedure looking exactly the same that would be a problem…

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Bottom line: the absurd public outcry about Renée Zellweger’s plastic surgery has nothing to do with plastic surgery; it has to do with how society shames women over 40 for simply being over 40. According to ASPS statistics, 6.1 million Botox injections are performed each year. Most of these injections are performed on women over 40 who are not celebrities, but still feel the societal pressure to conceal their age. Renée Zellweger walks on red carpets, is on the cover of magazines, and has her picture taken walking out of Starbucks. Not to mention, the minute an actress starts looking older in Hollywood the roles available to her start dwindling. Renée Zellweger is 45 years old, successful, and has the means and desire to spruce up her appearance. You go Roxy Hart. Give ‘em the old razzle dazzle.

P.S.: Kudos to the super brave men and women hiding behind their computer screens shaming an Oscar award-winning actress for getting plastic surgery. I’m sure she really cares what you all have to say. Renée simply responded by saying, “I’m glad folks think I look different”. Then Renée looked in the mirror, smiled, and started dancing to the Chicago soundtrack.

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Super Freak

I have been so wrapped up in midterms I have yet to comment on the fourth installment of American Horror Story, which is Freak Show. The season is only two episodes in (the third episode airs tonight at 10 PM on FX), and I am already mesmerized.

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This season is set in 1952 Jupiter, Florida, and tells the story of the last remaining freak show led by Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange). In the first episode Elsa recruits conjoined twins Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson) to join her troupe of freaks that consists of “Lobster Boy” (Evan Peters), a bearded lady (Kathy Bates), a strong man (Micharl Chiklis), a three breasted woman (Angela Bassett), and others. What I love most about the show is that the majority of the “freaks” are not actors, but people who actually have the conditions that freak shows would exploit. Elsa’s assistant Ma Petite is played by Jyoti Amge, who is the world’s smallest living woman with a height of 2 feet. I think the misconception about this show is that it is portraying “freaks” as scary, when in fact the horror element of the show surrounds the murders occurring around the freak show by Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch), and the super creepy freak show groupie Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock) and his mother Gloria (Frances Conroy). If anything, this show is promoting tolerance and showing that people we label as “freaks” are no different than anyone else.

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I loved the first season of AHS (Murder House), had some issues with the second season (Asylum), loved the third season (Coven), but I think Freak Show is the best one yet. There is no such thing as a haunted house, Anne Frank’s death was not a hoax, there is no such thing as witches, but freak shows really did exist. The realistic element of this installment of AHS sets it apart from the rest, and the result is magnificent.

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The Affair

The Affair is quickly becoming my favorite new show. It is beautifully written, has a breathtaking aesthetic, and has the most compelling and unique premise I have seen on television.

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The show uses the Rashomon effect to demonstrate how two people can have contradictory recollections of the same event. In The Affair, the two individuals are Noah and Alison, and both are being asked to recall their extramarital affair that transpired years ago in True Detective– like interrogations about which we (so far) know very little. Each episode devotes the entire hour to the same day and events, but the first half-hour shows Noah’s perspective, and the second half-hour shows Alison’s. The discrepancies in their memories are sometimes glaring, and other times subtle. For example, in the first episode Noah’s daughter chokes on a marble at the diner where Alison works (she is their waitress, and this is how they meet). Noah and Alison both remember her choking, but in Noah’s scene he saves his daughter, and in Alison’s scene she is the one who saves her. In Noah’s memory his wife wears glasses, and in Alison’s memory she does not. In Noah’s memory Alison offers him a cigarette, and in Alison’s memory Noah offers her a cigarette. I imagine as the show evolves the inconsistencies in their stories will become more and more consequential.

The Affair examines the disparities in how others perceive us and how we perceive ourselves, as well as how self-perception can skew the truth in our memories. The show is artistic and romantic, but with criminal undertones that add an air of mystery to this captivating story.

You need to see The Affair to truly understand it. There have only been two episodes, so catch up… Sundays, 10 PM, Showtime.

Red Band Society

When I first saw commercials for the new Fox show Red Band Society, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. The show is a look at the lives of teenagers living in a hospital. Some of the characters have cancer, one has cystic fibrosis, one has an eating disorder, and another has a heart condition. What makes the show interesting is that each character fits a typical high school stereotype: the cheerleader, the jock, the nerd, the stoner, etc. It’s essentially a combination of Grey’s Anatomy and The Breakfast Club.

I had forgotten about the show until I was watching Wednesday’s episode of The Mindy Project last night on demand, and the pilot of Red Band Society started playing immediately after. Kudos to Fox, because I was instantly hooked.

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Red Band Society is narrated by a young boy in a coma, who can see and hear everything that’s going on around him. The “red bands” represent the red hospital bands all of the characters wear that emotionally bind them as a group. The show is surprisingly light and funny even though concepts of death and loss encompass each character’s life. The nurse is played by Octavia Spencer, who provides the same comic relief she did in The Help while also playing the dramatic scenes perfectly. The writing is witty and original, and the acting is superb.

I haven’t read much media hype surrounding the show, so I have a feeling it might get cancelled. So everyone give it a shot! Wednesdays, 9 pm, on Fox.

*The actor who played Ricky Vasquez on My So Called Life has a small role as a nurse on the show. I feel that Homeland is Angela Chase all grown up, and this is Ricky Vasquez. Now Rayanne needs a television show.

Not That Kind Of Girl

Not That Kind Of Girl arrived at my door yesterday at 12:00 pm, and I finished it almost exactly 24 hours later.

Lena Dunham’s collection of personal essays is undoubtedly the best book I have ever read. I actually cried at certain points, because she describes experiences, fears, and thoughts almost identical to ones I have had in such a beautiful and funny way. I felt less alone.

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The essays are broken down into sections by topic:

“Love & Sex”

This section had the most number of personal essays, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who watches her show Girls. I recommend that every woman AND man read this section in particular. If you are a guy and don’t feel like reading every essay, then please just read “Girls & Jerks” and “Barry”. The essays in this section were intense, but she dispersed comedy throughout to lighten the mood.

“Body”

I interestingly identified with this section even though I have a completely inverted relationship with food than the one Lena describes. Seeing things from her perspective was incredibly helpful though.

“Friendship”

I think every girl can relate to the complexity and evolution of female friendship that Lena describes. I particularly enjoyed the essay, “Grace”, which describes her relationship with her sister because it is very similar to the relationship I have with mine.

“Work”

As a college student, I loved the essay “This is Supposed to be Fun? Making the Most of Your Education”. There is such a misconception that college is the most easy-going and fun period of your life. I think adults look back on college with rose-colored glasses and forget how overwhelming it was. College is so much about figuring out who you are and finding independence, which at times is liberating, but mostly just confusing.

“Big Picture”

This was the section I identified with the most and the one that made me the most emotional. I won’t go into it too much because a lot of what I related to is very personal, but I will say that I didn’t realize until reading these essays that I am not alone in certain struggles. I applaud Lena Dunham for being so candid and fearless in her self-expression.

This book was hilarious, poignant, and fiercely honest. Thank you, Lena Dunham. Not That Kind Of Girl is a gift to us all.

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