BY GABRIEL GUZMAN
Let’s be honest. We live in scary times. Not just in this country, but in the world. We watch injustice grow each day, and we don’t always take action. People of color are systematically oppressed and targeted; people are denied access to healthcare based on gender and class; a large number of women around the globe are prisoners within their own country, and pleading for freedom. But this is not new, the cameras are. We’ve always lived in dark times, but through technological advancement we’ve taken real life issues and broadcasted them. Some may think this has only worsened situations, but I believe it’s created a society where people want to get involved, making us more conscious beings.
Netflix was founded in 1997 as a way to rent movies on DVD, according to CNN. Around 2012 Netflix made a move that would change the industry; they created Netflix original series. A rising star itself, Hulu, was founded in 2007, and like it’s rival, began producing series exclusively for the streaming company. All my life I’ve been obsessed with scripted series; I guess you can think of me as a TV junkie. Dramas, comedies, shows with strong-female leads—they all empowered me. As I got older I started to realize that these shows served a higher purpose: to enlighten and awaken. Writers and producers work tirelessly to send the viewers a message.
Considering the current political climate, it’s no surprise that original series are flourishing; there’s so much content to write and produce. After spending hours in front of the television (trust me I’m not complaining) I’ve chosen three of the most transformative original series brought to you by Hulu and Netflix.
House of Cards
Season 5 of House of Cards was basically sub-tweeting the current president. So much, that Kevin Spacey’s diabolical character, Frank Underwood, channels his inner 45th president with the following quote:
“Yes, here we go again. Secretary of State, that's all I wanted. That's all I wanted. That's what I was promised. And now, here I am, President of these United States. You made this bed, America. You voted for me. Are you confused? Are you afraid? Because what you thought you wanted is now here. And there you are, staring back, slack-jawed, bewildered, wondering if this is what you actually asked for. This democracy, your democracy, elected me. And if you think it was hard getting here, you're beginning to understand what I'm willing to do to stay. I look across at this crowd gathered today and I know these are not my supporters. I'm looking at people who are waiting, with a smile on their face, for their turn. And the most vicious among them are the ones smiling and clapping the hardest. Power is a lot like real estate. Remember?”
My first thought when I heard Frank Underwood say that was “You’ve got to be kidding me”. He clearly made the connection to the 45th president. He wants Americans to know that they made this bed, and now it’s time to lie in it. And of course you have the obvious context clue: “Power is a lot like real estate,” because we all know that the current president is a real estate mogul (and nothing else). Art never ceases to amaze me. Only House of Cards, a show that gives us a (fictional) glimpse into the life of DC’s most powerful, and despicable, could make a speech sound so beautiful about a topic so terrifying. The show definitely swings left, but they use the power of art to show us how far some are willing to go to feed their egos.
13 Reasons Why
With Selena Gomez as an executive producer, 13 Reasons Why tells the story of high school student Hannah Baker and the road map she left behind before committing suicide.
Here’s 13 reasons why the Netflix original series changed the way we view television.
1. Mental Health-- Is as important, if not more, than physical health. It should never be taken for granted.
2. Suicide-- The show received plenty of support for putting mental health at the forefront of television, but at the same time critics argue that the show sensationalized suicide, and blamed the creators for creating a domino effect.
3. Dialogue-- Wherever you stand with the show, ultimately it created dialogue about a subject that can often be difficult to discuss.
4. Bullies-- They come in all shapes and sizes, and they can even be your friends.
5. Outrage-- Art is supposed to create conversation, but this show took it to a new level. There was heavy criticism coming from parents, and school administrators.
6. Unity-- It created a sense of unity amongst friends and strangers. There was a moment while watching the series that you realize, we’re stronger together than apart.
7. Friendship--This show proved that friendships will be tested, and they are not always permanent.
8. Signs-- There won’t always be signs that someone is struggling, but if you do notice even the slightest clue, act appropriately.
9. Faculty-- They are not always as helpful as you think. In this show we see that even some teachers fail to acknowledge signs of uncertainty.
10. Parents-- Don’t always know. Hopefully the series has opened the floor for discussion amongst families.
11. Sexual Harrassment-- Is real.
12. Rape--Is real. Even when society tries to minimize it.
13. Love--Is also real, and we should express it often.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Television is at its highest peak in terms of entertainment. There has truly never been a greater time to watch television—given the current political climate. One of the most heart-rending series is a Hulu original--The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the novel by Margaret Atwood. The story takes place in a dystopian society where women can no longer hold a job or own property. They are divided into two categories, those who are fruitful, and those who are barren. The women considered to be fruitful are the handmaids, and they are dispersed and placed with those families whose wife are barren. The handmaid’s only job is to produce a child for the family.
Besides being fiction and making good television, this story might have some unsettling truth to it. Jenae Holloway writes in Teen Vogue “For me, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is more than fiction—It’s a dark reminder of slavery.” She continues by saying “It’s basically a modern-day portrayal of white women experiencing a watered-down form of slavery.”
This is why art is important. Yes, it does create an escape for many people, but even better it serves as a reminder that our work is never done. It continues to show us what many want to us to forget. The Handmaid’s Tale is a riveting account of what once was acceptable toward a group of people, or even worse, what has yet to come.
BY KIMBERLY ROSE
For all lovers of drama, crime, and comics – CW series iZombie, from the creators of Veronica Mars, is calling your name and your Netflix queue. The zombie-based television series just ended its third season on June 27 and keeps getting better and better with its quirky humor, surprising turns and lovable characters. It is refreshing, unique television that so clearly deserves more recognition.
The show centers around Liv Moore, a normal medical intern in Seattle, Washington, until her life took a turn for the worst. Her simple adulthood with a fiancé and future plans changed when she was scratched by a zombie at a party gone wrong – turning her into a same brain-eating lifeless being. The show picks up five months after the scratch, where Moore is now a morgue assistant with a steady supply of (already dead) brains to keep her human and sane. And all without killing, but not without the drama. As she becomes able to trust friends and co-workers with her dreaded secret, she turns to her necessary habit of eating brains to help a detective in solving crimes. A side effect of eating brains is experiencing the deceased’s memories in forms of visions, habits, and abilities – all of which become helpful in solving homicide mysteries in the Seattle area (which just unknowingly gained a Zombie community).
The television adaption does not closely follow the comic book series, but there is no disappointment in the final product. The show has a refreshing take on the undead drama – from the heartbreak to the crimes, there’s a quirky feel to it all. The writing along with the actors playing the outrageous characters are to thank for that. The talent you can find on-screen includes Rose McIver, Robert Buckley, Rahul Kohli, Aly Michalka, David Anders, and Malcolm Goodwin.
Here’s to anticipating what’s to come in the fourth season, but until then – all three seasons can be streamed on Netflix.
BY KIMBERLY ROSE
If you’re an avid Netflix-binger, you’ve probably heard of Okja and the hype surrounding a movie about a super pig. While “Okja” doesn’t exactly reveal much – it’s assured that the brilliant film couldn’t have come at a better time.
Available on the popular streaming service, the film revolves around a young farm girl Mija, played by 13-year-old actress An Seo Hyun, who lives in the mountains of South Korea with her grandfather. When a multinational agrochemical corporation comes up with the idea of a genetically modified “super pig” to solve a global food crisis, one of the beloved animals belonging to the species, Okja, is put in the family’s care for ten years as part of a contest. The friendship between Mija and Okja is as strong as can be, but their happiness doesn’t last when Mija must undergo the struggles to save her best friend.
Director Bong Joon Ho is known for his undertones of social commentary in films, and that doesn’t end here in Okja. While not intending to make a statement against eating animals, the film does make you question the mass-producing meat industry that is so often kept behind closed doors. You grow to love and adore the gentle giant Okja, but you also go on to see the horrors that billions of animals face as their fate today. Whether a super pig, a cow, a normal pig, a chicken – it is all the same brutal reality.
Despite the uncomfortable moments that make this film so vital, it’s a must-see for all. With the fantastic cast of Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano and Lily Collins, you won’t be disappointed. The villainous CEO Lucy Mirando (played by Swinton) and eccentric “animal lover” Johnny Wilcox (played by Gyllenhaal) are the roots of the problem, claiming their super pig was found on a Chilean farm and naturally reproduced, when that is far from the truth – all in attempt to gain popularity from the public. In the words of Swinton’s character, “Our super pigs will not only be big and beautiful; they will also leave a minimal footprint on the environment, consume less feed, and produce less excretions; a most importantly – they need to taste f***ing good.” The point of lessening the environmental impact of the meat industry is valid, but that’s where plant-based diets come into play, rather than making money off of animals seen as products and not living beings.
With the help of the Animal Liberation Front, Mija fights for justice for her cherished Okja and the film raises questions such as: If we’re disgusted by the idea of eating this CGI creature, what makes eating actual animals okay?
A film that engages thought regarding the ethics of the world while telling a heartfelt story – Okja is one of the best.
BY EMANI COLLINS
I know you all tuned into the 2017 BET Awards this past Sunday. The show was filled with exciting performances and surprising wins all night! But enough about the entertainment! The 4-hour award show also included many stylish, beautiful women. I know you witnessed the #BlackGirlMagic! We are still recovering from the damage that these ladies committed on the BET Carpet. Take a look at Modest Truth Mag’s Top 10 Woman Crush Wednesdays after this weekend’s show. Ten is just not enough, so feel free to comment below with your own #WCW!
BY KIMBERLY ROSE
Netflix isn’t one to shy away from controversy, liked we learned with its hit drama series 13 Reasons Why. A series that follows the reasons why a high school teen killed herself, “13 Reasons Why” was not received well, despite the show’s good intentions. They wanted to start conversation, and at the end of the day – that’s exactly what they did.
The popular streaming service is at it again with the latest Netflix film set to premiere on July 14. The newest drama, To the Bone, is a story about the struggles and journey of young woman battling anorexia, played by Lily Collins.
While a Sundance-approved film, “To the Bone” has been accused of wrongly presenting sensitive matter and turning an eating disorder into something glamorous. Dramatic content like disorders, mental illnesses, and suicides can be triggering to those who have been affected by the matter – but has Hollywood failed to consider the consequences to streaming such controversial portrayals?
With emerging voices both critiquing and defending the film on Twitter, this provoked a response from To the Bone writer and director Marti Noxon. She revealed truth about her own health battles and ensured that she approached this film with care and responsibility.
“Having struggled with Anorexia and Bulimia well into my 20s, I know firsthand the struggle, isolation and shame a person feels when they are in the grips of this illness,” wrote Noxon. “In an effort to tell this story as responsibly as we could, we spoke with other survivors and worked with Project Heal throughout the production in the hopes of being truthful in a way that wasn’t explosive. That said, it’s important to remember EDs is unique and To The Bone is just one of the millions of ED stories that could be told in the US at this very moment. My goal with the film was not to glamorize EDs, but to serve as a conversation starter about an issue that is too often clouded by secrecy and misconceptions. I hope that by casting a little light into the darkness of this disease we can achieve greater understanding and guide people to help if they need it.”
Noxon’s response does reveal the film’s good intentions, but it still doesn’t answer the question as to how Hollywood should approach telling a story with triggering content. Is it worth sparking discussion in an attempt to create an understanding? Or does it always fall short of an accurate illustration and offend those who have experienced it?
We’ll see how far streaming services, television and film will go to do justice with controversial material – but hopefully not at the expense of viewers. You can watch “To the Bone,” which stars Lily Collins and Keanu Reeves on July 14 on Netflix. Get a sneak peek at the film with the trailer HERE, but be aware it does contain sensitive material.
BY GABRIEL GUZMAN
Summer has officially arrived, so that means brunch, braving the heat, and an infinite playlist to start (or end) your day. No matter who are you are, these songs are sure to have you feeling great this season. From DJ Khaled to Stevie Nicks, I’m bringing you a mix of my favorite songs, in no particular order or decade—you’re welcome.
Now, I know we all like to think that we have great taste in music, but really I do, so you won’t be disappointed. Some of these you will instantly recognize, as you should, and at some you’ll be disappointed you didn’t hear them sooner. Take a listen, and have a great, and safe summer this season.
BY JESSICA REDWINE
Fall Out Boy may have fallen off of your radar in recent years, but it’s time to pay them another listen. They may have just released the soundtrack to your summer.
After weeks of teasing a new song on social media, the band you probably haven’t heard since high school released their most recent song yesterday, titled “Champion.” And it’s most likely going to be stuck in your head all day. Possibly even for the rest of the year.
Give it a listen here.
With heavy guitars and Patrick Stump’s soulful vocals, the song speaks to the “people who don’t believe in champions.” And with a resounding chorus, it’s set to remind you that if you can get through this, you can do anything. The inspiring message comes courtesy of songwriter and guitarist Pete Wentz, who states in an interview that he wanted to write a song for the generation that grew up on underdogs. He also drew inspiration from the film “The NeverEnding Story,” which is a fantasy film from 1984 that focuses on overcoming obstacles to become the hero of your own story.
Fans are already anticipating this to be the highlight of the yet-to-be-released album, with some saying that they can already see ESPN taking a stake in it for their commercials. This also comes at a time when a lot of people are seeking outside sources of motivation and inspiration to grapple with political upheaval. The song is guaranteed to put a fire under you for whatever challenges you are facing.
The first song released from the new album was “Young and Menace,” a synth heavy track with modified vocals that would be just at home at a party as it would a sweaty EDM nightclub. With many nods to the 90s, like Britney Spears and Nikki Sixx, the song seems to be geared to the older generation of fans while still having enough of an electronic influence to pull in the younger crowd. With a video featuring freakish llama costumes and an overtone that is at once apologetic and unapologetic, the song sets the stage for an album that will likely be heavily experimental.
Wentz has previously stated that this album is the most “off-script” the band has gone in years, partially because “life is short.” They’re taking a hard left turn and trying something new with their music, and time will tell if it will work for them.
Another colleague of Fall Out Boy, Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco, recently reached platinum status with his groundbreaking work, Death of a Bachelor. Experimenting with new sounds seems to be paying off for this generation of songsters who show no signs of slowing down.
Fall Out Boy is currently in the process of completing M A N I A, which is scheduled for a release date of September 15th. This will come just before their headlining arena tour around the United States, which begins October 20th.
BY ALEXIS HILL
Some things in life you’ll see and never forget, these 8 films are among those moments.
1. Mississippi Damned (2009): Based on a true story, and unironically named after a Nina Simone song, this film truly encapsulates the harsh realities of growing up black in the south. A rare, prolific and exceptional film, Mississippi Damned allows for a first-person account into the lives of three black kids, Leigh, Sammy, and Kari growing up in rural Mississippi. It provides a deep analysis into the psychological repercussions of their trauma, their family's history of violence, abuse, and addiction, and their struggle to free themselves from this vicious cycle. This film touches upon prominent issues in the black community, such as rape, LGBTQ youth, incest, abuse, and mental illness, and overlaps how living in the Deep South significantly hinders their opportunities and relationships due lack of resources. Directed by: Tina Mabry
2. Lilja 4 Ever (2002): Loosely based around the case of Danguolė Rasalaite, a Lithuanian teenager, and victim of human trafficking, this film aims to discuss the extreme dangers of human trafficking. Lija's profoundly negative influences and trauma sets the tone for her self-destructive actions early in the film, when her mother abruptly abandons her to move with her boyfriend to America, Lilja's life-long dream. Being left behind with her abusive aunt to oversee her, Lilja's behavior becomes increasingly reckless. Throughout the film, Lilja's is faced with numerous ultimatums, which ultimately leads to her tragic fate. Directed by: Lukas Moodysson
3. Girlhood (2014): An enriching film that provides a unique POV in French films, a group of black girls facing the challenges of race, gender, and class difference as they come of age. The film is narrated and follows the story of the main character, Marieme, a dark-skinned 16-year old of African-French descent who struggles academically, and sent to vocational school as a result. During her time there she is approached by a girl gang (Lady, Fily, and Adiatou) who occasionally hangs outside the school, and ask her to join them for a trip to the mall. Marieme's personality and wardrobe changes are immediately noticeable, as she begins imitating the other's girls behaviors to gain their acceptance, eventually sending her down a path of no return. Directed by: Céline Sciamma
4. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013): Well-known as a "controversial" film during its debut, it is a film that'll definitely tug at your heartstrings. Focusing on the life of French teenager, Adèle, a very introverted high-school student seemingly fixated on boys. However, after a sexual experience with her boyfriend she quickly becomes disillusioned. She begins questioning her sexual identity, and her friend Valentin offers to help, taking her to a gay dance bar, but Adèle ultimately decides to leave and goes to a lesbian bar where she meets Emma. The film navigates the internal conflicts of sexual identity, and the realistic complexities of heartbreak in relationships, producing a genuinely heartfelt story that is undeniably profound.
Directed by: Abdellatif Kechiche
5. Requiem for a Dream (2000) Surreal, is the best word to describe this interesting, but slightly disturbing psychological thriller. This film depicts the highs and lows of four former drug addicts, and the delusion and destructive surrounding their reality. It's a film amongst my favorites, as its portrayals of drug addiction and consequences are insanely realistic. Director: Lux Aeterna
6. Henry & June (1990): Based directly off the personal journals of controversial erotic author, Anaïs Nin, and her affairs with June Miller and her husband, author, Henry Miller. If you're one for autobiographical drama, and heavy graphic imagery with an air of overt romanticism, this is the perfect film. Director: Philip Kaufman
7. Nymphomaniac (2013): Exhilarating, shocking, yet graceful and poetically directed, this art film is truly memorable. Narrated by Joe, a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, retells her story of how she discovered and accepted her uncontrolled sexual desires and the various encounters it caused her to have. I highly recommend this film, its symbolism alone is remarkably beautiful. Director: Lars von Trier
8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): I'll admit, I'm completely biased towards this film, it's highly symbolic for me, and again, one of my favorites. The film follows a non-linear timeline of memories of Clementine and Joel, in order to explore the complexities of their relationship and the nature of romantic love in opposites. The hazy symbolism makes implications to significant events in their relationship, but creatively embodies the subtle mysterious, perplexing nature of love. Director: Michel Gondry
BY DEJA KEHINDE
On Tuesday June 20 2017, the hip hop community said farewell to Prodigy of Mobb Deep who passed away in Las Vegas at the age of 42.
Born Albert Johnson in Hempstead, New York in 1974, he was influenced early by his family members with musical backgrounds. Prodigy began writing rhymes in high school under the stage name Lord T. Shortly after he linked up with Havoc to create Mobb Deep in the early 90s. The two grew to be central figures of the New York rap scene around the time of the East vs. West coast beef solidifying their legendary status through the release of eight studio albums.
The duo released their first album “Juvenile Hell” in 1993. They reached mainstream success with their sophomore album “The Infamous” in 1995 with the single “Shook Ones (Part II) featuring the classic intro verse from Prodigy. The instrumental itself has lived on through hip hop culture in the use of cyphers and rap battles alike. “The Infamous” album sold over 500,000 copies within the first two months and is considered the top of their discography along with “Hell On Earth” and “Murda Muzik”.
Known for his iconic opening lines and hardcore raps about observations of his Queensbridge neighborhood, Prodigy achieved solo success with the 1999 hit “Quiet Storm”. The song remained so popular after it’s original release they remixed it as Mobb Deep with a guest verse from Lil Kim. He went on to record his first solo album in 2000 titled “H.N.I.C”.
Aside from writing songs, he also wrote movies and books. Prodigy published his autobiography My Infamous Life in 2011 and began working on a cookbook titled Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook centered around keeping a balanced diet while in prison. He cites his battle with sickle cell as inspiration.
Prodigy’s last performance took place on the Art of Rap Tour alongside Ghostface Killah, Onyx, KRS-One, and Ice-T just last weekend in Las Vegas. Following his performance he was hospitalized for complications with sickle cell anemia - a condition in which there aren't enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout your body. Prodigy battled with the hereditary disorder since birth and was one of approximately 80,000 Americans living with it.
Nas was the first to break the news on Instagram posting a photo with the caption:
“RIP P Prodigy 4 Ever”. Others who have expressed condolences include Ghostface Killah, Diddy, Q Tip, Lil Wayne, Jay Electronica, A$AP Rocky, 50 Cent and many more. Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg paid a special tribute to the MC expressing what he meant to hip-hop on-air. The other half of Mobb Deep, Havoc, uploaded a series of photos of the two on Instagram, one of them in their early rap days with the caption “Forever”. He will truly live on through his music.
BY EMANI COLLINS
It is officially summertime! You know what that means. Great shows! June has been filled with new releases and new seasons of fan favorites. We have already witnessed the new season of Orange is the New Black on June 9th. On June 11th, we also had the opportunity to view the new series, Claws, on TNT. It doesn’t stop there. Season four of Power is set to release on June 25th, and that is definitely an anticipated one! Well, what could I be missing? None other than the hit show, Queen Sugar, returning for it’s second season on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Did you tune in on Tuesday night? The two-night premiere is nothing short of exciting! But of course, it leaves fans on the edge of their seats as they are anticipating what is to come for the following night!
Fans geared up for the big premiere as creator of the epic piece, Ava Duvernay, tweeted about the exciting night! Miss Duvernay even tweeted about a newspaper article that she was featured in. The article exclaimed that Miss Duvernay stuck with only accepting women as directors for her successful project, Queen Sugar. She did the same for season one. Thanks for the awesome #GirlPower moment! Because Queen Sugar is such a well-off show, I guess those women that Miss Duvernay put in charge were the right choice!
So many followers of the show were super excited to view the new season as they live tweeted on Tuesday! Since the last episode of season one, which aired on November 30, 2016, fans felt as though they have waited long enough! Besides, I am sure that the ladies missed their eye candy, Kofi Siriboe. Yes, he will be returning as the beloved, Ralph Angel. Tweeters showed their appreciation towards Mr. Siriboe with silly tweets. I think we all have a small crush on Ralph Angel. It’s okay. You are not alone! His presence alone gives you even more of a reason to tune in!
Dawn-Lyen Gardner, who plays Ralph Angel’s half-sister, Charley, will have her work cut out for her this season. Not only will she be trying to make history and keep her deceased father’s farm going, but she has other personal issues that Duvernay will showcase throughout the season. Rutina Wesley will be back for the second season as well, as she is playing Nova, sister to Ralph Angel and Charley. Yes, I am referring to the dreadlocked diva who is all of our hair goals! I am sure Nova and Charley will have some sisterly scenes again. Whether they are showing compassion for one another or arguing as sisters tend to do, be sure to keep up!
Ava Duvernay is a talented and educated woman who has created a show that will always be in our hearts! Make sure to tune in to the rest of the premiere of Queen Sugar and continue watching the series throughout the season! You can catch the show on Wednesdays! This season is set to have even more twists and dramatic plots than before! I know what you are thinking… Is that even possible? Well, it is! Are you ready? Because we are! Grab your popcorn, sit back and relax. It is time for some Queen Sugar!