Feel Old Yet?

I didn’t want to make this blog all about how old some of my favorite albums are because I know my taste in music is someone else’s least favorite genre. So it’ll be a mixture of things to make some of us, if not all, nostalgic as we start 2017. Sometimes it’s okay to look back.

TV Shows:
The Simpsons has been around since 1989, making it 28 years old
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Saved by the bell (1989-1993) ended 24 years ago

Friends ended 13 years ago

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Goosebumps ended 19 years ago

SpongeBob SquarePants is turning 18 years old this year. 18 years and SpongeBob is probably still trying to pass his driver’s test

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was released 24 years ago and ended 18 years ago

Pokémon was released 20 years ago

Movies That Came Out 15 Years Ago:
Like Mike, Jackass: The Movie, 8 mile and Spiderman with the “original spiderman” Tobey Maguire

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Albums turning 15 years old in 2017:
Simple Plan’s debut album No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls
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Foo Fighter’s One By One

Sum 41’s Does This Look Infected?
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Eminem’s The Eminem show

For the 90’s babies:
The Nintendo DS was released in 2004, 13 years ago

The Nintendo 64 was released in 1996, 21 years ago
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The Game Boy released 28 years ago

The first iPod was released 16 years ago, my iPod Still plays every song on my playlist but my smartphones can’t last me over a year

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The 62 Goosebumps books written by R.L Stine began 25 years ago and ended 20 years ago

The Bop It game was released 21 years ago

Beanie Babies launched 24 years ago

Feel old yet?

5 Things I’ve learned About the Media (As a self-proclaimed “News Junkie”)

I love the news. I love reading it, watching it, and listening to it. And most importantly, as you may have heard if you listen to my show, Newspoint (Tuesdays from 2pm to 4pm on this very blog’s affiliated college radio station) I love discussing it afterwards and getting to share and listen to opinions. Putting all shameless plugs aside however, I feel that there is quite a bit that I’ve learned about the news media as a self-proclaimed “news junkie,” and I wanted to take the time to share them with readers, and people who are fans and haters of the media alike.

1. Local and broadcast news has less political bias than cable, but cable isn’t completely biased, either

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Cable news networks and their local broadcast affiliates operate very differently from each other

One of the biggest complaints I often hear regarding cable news channels is that they are too biased when the subject turns to politics, and many have found this to be especially evident during this election season. The left and the right have both hurled accusations of media bias at each other over various networks and who they say these networks support or what causes or policies they may believe in.

Continue reading “5 Things I’ve learned About the Media (As a self-proclaimed “News Junkie”)”

Halloween Horror Fest

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Halloween is just around the corner. For the average Joe it’s just a spooky holiday where you dress up in funky garbs and pass out on candy or drinks. But for all of my fellow Halloweenies, we have been prepared for the pumpkin carving, house decorating, and most importantly, the horror movie marathons.

Here are five films that are on different spectrums of spooky, but are all great in their own right!

1. Scream (1996)

“What’s your favorite scary movie?” sneers Ghostface, the franchise’s murderer. Wes Craven’s classic slasher, Scream, happens to be one of mine. The film revolves around the town of Woodsboro, California, when it suddenly becomes the hunting grounds for a serial killer who targets 90’s teen archetypes. Craven satires horror cliches in a perfectly comedic, bloody mess – but nothing is predictable about the ending.

2. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

You may know Joss Whedon of Firefly or The Avengers fame, but the comic nerd of a director has a twisted dark side too. The Cabin in the Woods also plays on horror tropes and takes a critical eye on the torture porn branch. Five college students, who all fit the bill of jock, slut, nerd, stoner, and virgin, plan a weekend getaway at a deserted cabin in the woods. That introduction alone should already set up that things don’t turn out well. It doesn’t, and how it gets that bad is what makes this film a cult favorite.

3. The Exorcist (1973)

A Halloween list cannot be complete without William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. Centered on two priests exorcising a possessed 12 year old, this movie’s simple premise is iconic. Forty years ago this terrorized people so much that some movie critics said they couldn’t understand who would see this movie for pleasure. People left the premiere in either pure anxiety or extreme fear. Take caution: you probably will end up the same way if you are not a seasoned horror watcher.

4. The Babadook (2014)

Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook is another jarring fright fest. After the death of her husband, Amelia struggles to maintain her life with Sam, her son. When Sam preoccupies himself with an imaginary friend from a book called Mister Babadook, the titular creature starts to take a sinister form. Touching on a common youth experience and combining it with psychological troubles of adulthood, the film pokes a nerve at growing up. This Australian psychological horror has since become a cult favorite and the target of many fan theories.

5. Hocus Pocus (1993)

If you braved the previous scarring scare and need something light, a signature Disney film can do the trick. Being a 90’s kid, I was lucky to have Disney original movies that gave me the heebie-jeebies as I learned a lesson. Hocus Pocus follows the Sanderson Sisters’ quest to gain absolute youth by stealing children’s souls, and Max Dennison trying to prevent his sister from being the next target. The eight year old me learned about stranger danger and to never wander in creepy abandoned houses, but the twenty one year old me plays it for the nostalgia.

Now build your pillow fort, grab your sweets, turn off the lights, and get ready for those jump scares!

(Photo illustration credit: Valashard)

My October Favorites: TV, Film, and More to Get You Pumped for Halloween

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I am not typically fond of generalizations, but I feel confident in asserting that most people enjoy the fall season.

Cooler temperatures, cozy sweaters, bonfires, comforting beverages, apple picking, warm-scented candles, pumpkin versions of everything and, my particular interest, the approaching holiday season!

Although Thanksgiving has always held a special place in my stomach—uh, I mean, heart—and Christmas is regarded as “the most wonderful time of the year,” Halloween is my favorite day of the year. If I was a mother, and the holidays were my children, Halloween would be my “I don’t have a favorite,” favorite child.

Halloween is the one day out of the year that I can openly indulge in my obsession with all things creepy, weird, and—my favorite category—creepy-cute without being accused of being a morbid psychopath.

One day out of the year is hardly a substantial amount of time to satisfy my spooky interests, which is why I dedicate the entire month of October to watching, reading, and buying ALL the eerie content I can get my claws on.

Whether you’re a connoisseur of creepy things like myself or a seasonal appreciator of Halloween, here are a few things I’ve been bingeing on this past month which you might enjoy:

TELEVISION – OVER THE GARDEN WALL (2014)

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Although I was admittedly tempted to blog about the Netflix-original Stranger Things, I decided against it since the Internet is already teeming with theories in anticipation of the next season.

Instead, let me introduce you to the lesser known Cartoon Network miniseries Over the Garden Wall. This epitome of creepy-cute first aired in November of 2014, but completely flew under my radar because of my decision to get rid of my cable box roughly three years back. Thankfully, it is available on Hulu!

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This dark, adventure-fantasy unfolds around two half-brothers, Wirt and Greg, who are walking home through the woods when they are struck with the sudden realization that they are lost. They encounter an unthinkable amount of whimsical and frightening things in the Unknown as they do their best discern who they can trust to help them find their way home.

I thoroughly enjoyed this show because of the balanced distribution of morbid and lighthearted moments throughout: one minute the brothers are singing and eating lunch with a bunch of animal school-children and the next moment they’re fleeing from a horrendous monster.

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Although it is a cartoon on a network for children, don’t let the picturesque scenery fool you; this show is unsettling and bone-chilling. Have you ever rewatched a show you used to enjoy as a child and thought to yourself, “This is definitely not a show for kids” (I’m looking at you, Courage the Cowardly Dog)?  Well, now you can add Over the Garden Wall to your arsenal…if you dare.

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FILM – IT FOLLOWS (2014)

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I could easily dedicate an entire blog post to my favorite thriller/horror films of all time that will make your paranoia run rampant for weeks on end, but of all the movies I’ve watched this month, It Follows made the largest impact on my fancy…and sanity.

This psychological horror film follows Jay, a college student, who receives a curse through an unpleasant sexual encounter with her new boyfriend, Hugh. Once passed to the victim, this deadly curse follows them in the form of either someone the victim knows or a complete stranger and will not rest until it kills the current victim…or until the curse is passed onto someone else.

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The worst part? Only the victim (and previous victims) can see the entities. Yikes. I used to (and unfortunately sometimes still do on occasion) have these soul-chilling, hyper-realistic nightmares where I would see evil beings that no one else could see. They were always lurking in the background and could only inflict harm on those who could see them, lucky me. I would wake from these dreams sweating, panic-stricken, and unable to discern if I had been dreaming or not primarily because my body would be sore wherever it had bitten, clawed, or grasped me in my dream. Um, no thank you!

It Follows embodies nearly all of my fears in one storyline: being followed, feeling emotionally alone, suspecting that every rustling noise in the night is a damn, dirty monster trying to eat my flesh, etc. The film definitely gave more of a thriller vibe versus horror because the entity’s ability to take the form of any person had me continuously on edge until the end.

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APP – HOOKED

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I came across HOOKED in the oddest of places, on Instagram as an advertised post. HOOKED is a free app that lets you read riveting user-submitted stories that are told in the format of chat message conversations. The nature of the text message format makes it easy to digest and, if using it on your phone, makes you feel involved in the stories themselves. You can even write and post your own stories too!

Though there are several genres to choose from, I naturally gravitated to the horror and thriller genres. If you give HOOKED a try, I highly recommend “The Watcher” by Sean Dunne. The story tells of a girl named Chloe who is home alone when she is messaged by her father who warns that there is a man outside the house watching her. Despite the many questions she poses, her father insists the most important thing is that she keeps the man in her sight so he is unable to move (Doctor Who fans will appreciate this detail, I’m sure). The story takes quite a few unexpected turns and left me gripping my covers extra tight.

I hope the rest of your October is spook-tacular!

X,

Katerina

 

My K-Pop Awakening

안녕하세요! UIC Radio 소니아 입니다.

I have experienced a cultural awakening.

Earlier this semester, my friend/roommate Pearl and I were sitting at our kitchen table working on homework when I decided to take a quick break and scroll through Facebook, when I came across a video of Buzzfeed’s The Try Guys acting out scenes from Korean dramas. This ignited a conversation between us about Korean entertainment, dramas, and music.

Before I came to UIC, I grew up in suburban Chicago in a town that… let’s just say didn’t have a whole lot of diversity. So I wasn’t introduced to much music outside of the weird alternative stuff I was into, and the mainstream hip hop and cringe-worthy country music (that I avoided at all costs) that the rest of my high school was into. The only occurrence of Korean entertainment of any kind I experienced in high school was Psy’s “Gangnam Style.”

Naturally, coming across this video on Facebook talking about Korean entertainment, I showed it to Pearl (who is Korean and speaks Korean), and immediately she went off on a rant about how K-Dramas are so cheesy today, listing off all the different tropes and reasons why it essentially sucks. Also naturally, being the troll friend that I am, for the next hour or so, I dove headfirst into YouTube to search for over-the-top K-Drama videos that I knew Pearl would immediately hate me for.

The first K-Drama series I got into: Scarlet Heart: Ryeo, of which one of my favorite K-Pop group members is a character in!

Throughout the next few days, this trolling of my Korean friend escalated to me discovering current K-Drama tv show trailers, which then escalated to K-Pop music videos. I thought I would just find a few goofy videos to send her and watch as she grimaced throughout them, only to go on with my business and forget about it.

What I didn’t expect was how much K-Pop content actually exists on the internet. One music video leads to another, and then another, and then another. What’s happening to me is what has happened to every other person I’ve spoken to about discovering K-Pop:

I’ve fallen into an endless void, one that I have no plans of trying to escape.

K-Pop is like nothing I have ever experienced. Each and every music video has the highest production value of any music video I’ve ever seen before. The outfits, the choreography, the scenery, the props, everything just looks so cool. One of the most popular K-Pop groups I was introduced to is EXO, a boy group made up of 9* (I can still barely keep count, honestly) members who have some of the catchiest pop songs I have ever heard, not to mention their music videos: coordinated outfits, pastel hair, dreamy lighting – the works of some of the best K-Pop music videos.

*Note: the group used to consist of 12 members but is now down to 9 as of last year.

One of my favorite EXO music videos, “Monster.” Just look at that synchronized choreography.

And it doesn’t just stop there: popular K-Pop artists are frequently invited onto well-known variety shows to do what’s called fan service, which often involves the actors or singers playing games or doing crazy things in order to give back to the fans who adore their work.

What’s interesting to me is that I was never into American boy bands (I was just slightly too young for NSYNC and Backstreet Boys) and loathed other current boy bands (One Direction… don’t hate me fandoms, you have your things I have mine) that other fangirls my age were into throughout high school. But this? Endless videos of various different performances, behind-the-scenes, alternate music videos, and top-quality fan service? This I can get behind.

I know I’m in too deep. Everyone else knows, too. But I am not ashamed. I’ve gone so far as to make a Spotify playlist of all my favorite EXO songs that I’m still adding to. I’ve already ordered band merch online. I’m already picking up on the verses despite only knowing extremely limited Korean. Those I have outed myself to as a new K-Pop fan have divulged all their favorites to me as well. I am a heightened version of myself. There is no stopping me.

I still have a lot to learn and even more to discover, I am merely scratching the surface of what K-Pop has to offer. I want to delve into other genres of K-music as well, this is only the first wave of my discoveries. As soon as I recover from the high of absorbing all this content all at once, I will only continue to ascend to a higher understanding of K-Pop and more. So be sure to check out the upcoming blog once that happens.

In the meantime, enjoy another EXO music video below:

-Sonia

Daria – The Savior of My Final Semester

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As the demise of my undergrad career inches closer, I have found it increasingly difficult to match the insurmountable joy of my peers. As an impenetrable cynic,  it’s rather exhausting to spend my time celebrating socially constructed milestones with people who never cease to me make me feel like an underachieving loser who the system will inevitably fail. I know this sounds rather negative and daunting, but healthy self loathing and my perpetual indifference is what has gotten me through almost eight semesters of useless group projects and repetitive coursework. Nonetheless, in my last semester, I have found pure solace in none other than Daria Morgendorffer. As I spent more time watching this series than interacting with my peers, I realized that Daria knew exactly what I was experiencing as a student that would be turned over to a job market with dismal opportunity and unattainable expectations. Daria understands my millennial agony and I love her for it.

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I am 22 years old and American society expects me to know exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life. It is sick and twisted to force young people into such a state of panic and uncertainty. Most of us can barely decide what we want to eat for lunch (though it is most likely pizza) let alone plan out our entire life trajectory. I will not succumb to societies pressures to make a decision that will probably lead me down a path of unhappiness and a career selling insurance.  Daria understands.

Continue reading “Daria – The Savior of My Final Semester”

And, Action!:My First Film Set Experience

I started my Spring Break earlier than usual. I didn’t attend class Friday (it was cancelled, so technically I wasn’t skipping), and instead spent two days on the film set for a short film. No, you won’t be seeing my lovely face on your tv screen anytime soon, because I was a production assistant intern. Lately I’ve been seriously considering pursuing a career in film or television, and this internship gave me the experience I’ve been looking for.

This weekend long film shoot started on Friday with a call time of 7:30am. I was relieved to find out I wasn’t the only newbie on set, and bonded over this with the makeup artist and cinematographer. As a production assistant, I helped out wherever I was needed: I set up meals for the crew, handled contracts, worked the movie slate, and whatever else the crew or actors needed.

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Me + movie slate = dream fulfilled

After shooting, I got the opportunity to visit Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. The son of the Director of Production is an actor, and he had a wardrobe fitting for an upcoming pilot. I tagged along, and I can’t even express how pumped I was to finally visit Cinespace! Hit shows like Empire, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD shoot at Cinespace, and it was exciting to be in such a high energy environment.

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Exterior of Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, courtesy of their website

The next day of filming was more low-key, so I was able to do things I couldn’t do the day before. I helped set up cameras and lights, and learned a few things about the equipment. I even worked the fog machine, which I didn’t realize I wanted to do until that moment.

I’m so grateful for this production assistant opportunity. While it was a brief internship, it solidified my desire to work in the tv/film business. This won’t be my last time on a film set!

 

Upset Stomach

The Madness has returned.

With everyone’s  bracket already busted, March Madness this year has definitely been different from the rest.

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With Purdue losing to Arkansas Little Rock and Michigan State losing to Middle Tennessee, let’s recap what has happened so far.

On day one of the first round, the biggest shock was Purdue losing to Arkansas Little Rock. Purdue led by 14 points with 5 minutes remaining in the second half. They proceeded to let Little Rock back in the game with missed free throws and poor defense.

Next thing you know, the game was tied 70-70 leading to overtime. After the first overtime, it was tied 75-75 which led into a second overtime. With Little Rock leading in the second overtime, Purdue starts to come back, however it is cut short and Little Rock takes the win with the game ultimately ending at a score of 85-83.

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On day 2, things got crazier. With millions of people saying Michigan State was going to win it all, there was a huge let down when things did not go as planned. Middle Tennessee jumped out to a big lead early leading 15-2 in the first five minutes of the game. Surprisingly, Denzel Valentine and Michigan State had no answer for the Blue Raiders. At the end of the first half, the Blue Raiders were outplaying the Spartans with the score being 41-35. The success carried onto the second half as Michigan State never led in the game. Towards the end, with the game in the balance, the Blue Raiders pulled away ultimately ending the game with a score of 90-81. The game was sealed by Giddy Potts’ block on Bryn Forbes:

And finally the first round Madness capped off over Northern Iowa’s win over Texas. With the game being close the entire time, Northern Iowa surprised several people after they took the lead in the first half. The game consistently goes back and forth as to who takes the lead which keeps everyone in suspense. The biggest shock was towards the end of the game when Texas made a layup to tie the game at 72 with 2.7 seconds left. Surprisingly, Paul Jesperson made a half-court shot leading them to defeat Texas with a score of 75-72.

So as you can see, March Madness this year has been full of surprises and upsets that have not only destroyed brackets, but hearts as well. With only the first round completed, there is plenty more in store. Who knows what will happen next?

Till next time,

Priya

 

#CoolTeens: Four Famous Young Women You Should Know

The other day, as I was scrolling through Twitter, I realized that I follow so many amazing people. Some are famous and some are not, but they are all people who have done interesting things and have even more interesting things to say. I also realized that the people I’m most impressed by are women my age or younger.

Younger generations tend to be labeled as vapid, narcissistic complainers, who are unwilling to work hard at anything besides taking a great selfie. This stereotype is proven wrong everyday, in real life and online. The #coolteens of today aren’t just beautiful and charming, they are intelligent and passionate about their interests. I’m not a teen anymore (no complaints) but if I could go back in time, I would be like these girls.

Amandla Stenberg

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Most of you will recognize Amandla from her role as Rue in The Hunger Games, but she’s been keeping busy since then. She’s had a number of tv show cameos and stars in As You Arewhich premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The seventeen year old uses social media to address representation and inequality inside and outside of Hollywood. Her class assignment entitled “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows” added to and in some ways sparked the current conversation on cultural appropriation. Later, Amandla’s  criticism of Kylie Jenner’s cornrows brought a wave of internet hate, which Amandla handled with grace.

On top of acting, social activism, comic book writing and charity work, Amandla will be attending NYU in the fall. She will be studying film, in the hopes of becoming a director. She wants to create roles for underrepresented groups, and increase the diversity Hollywood so desperately needs.

Rowan Blanchard

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Rowan for i-D Vice. Taken by Harry Eelman

Rowan stars as Riley on the Disney Channel series Girl Meets World. She has also spoken at the UN Women’s Conference on feminism and gender inequality. By the way, she’s fourteen.

Like her friend Amandla, Rowan uses social media and her power as a celebrity to discuss these topics. The actress’s essay on intersectional feminism was the first thing I ever heard about her, and I was blown away by the intelligence of a young woman that isn’t even old enough to drive. I look forward to hearing more about the amazing things Rowan does in the future.

Zendaya

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Zendaya at the 87th Annual Academy Awards (Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage)

Another Disney star, Zendaya gained popularity as Rocky on the Disney Channel original Shake It Up. Currently, she’s still a Disney actress on the show KC Undercover, but has also ventured into music.

However, Zendaya became known by adults and tweens alike when Giuliana Rancic made rude and ignorant comments about her hairstyle at the Academy Awards. Zendaya responded firmly but respectfully, and hey, she even got her own Barbie doll out of this controversy. Now, nineteen year old Zendaya and her fans (including myself) have moved on from this, focusing on her upcoming album and incredible fashion sense. Like Rowan and Amandla, Zendaya wants to be a role model for young girls, and uses her social media presence to teach and inspire.

Tavi Gevinson

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Tavi Gevinson at the Guess Portrait Studio (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

This Oak Park, Illinois native created the fashion blog Style Rookie at the age of 11, which was perused by fashion icons such as Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld. Since then, Tavi has been invited to New York and Paris Fashion Week, penned articles for Barneys.com and Harper’s Bazaar and served as the model/muse for Rodarte.

At fifteen, Tavi turned Style Rookie into Rookiean online magazine directed towards teen girls. The subject matter has also expanded to include not only fashion, but pop culture and social issues, as well. Tavi has given talks at TED and TEDxTeen conferences about marketing and representation, respectively. Forbes included her in its 30 Under 30 in Media list, and Tavi has even had roles in film and theater.

Her success is not without criticism. Many believed that there was no way Tavi could run a popular blog at such a young age, stating that her parents helped or wrote her posts for her. Some fashion bloggers and icons didn’t approve of her appearances at events, suggesting that someone her age should be at school and not runway shows. Tavi has heard the negative comments, but has not allowed that to cloud her vision. She continues to shatter expectations and achieve goals, and I know she will continue to do so.

Lady Gaga: An Oscar Performance to Remember

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Despite the unavoidable controversy surrounding its blatant absence of ethinic diversity, yesterday marked the airing of the 88th Academy Awards ceremony. Similar to its predecessors, there was no shortage of media coverage surrounding the happenings of this notoriously grand event. Chris Rock made light of minority actors declaration to boycott the Oscars. Hours were spent recognizing the same ten actors that get nominated every year, and Leonardo DiCaprio finally won the Oscar after years of audiences claiming he’d been snubbed.  While I did not watch the ceremony in its entirety, I did tune in to witness a moving performance by none other than Lady Gaga.

Instead of using the platform as a vanity piece or an opportunity to honor a dead actor already validated by mainstream America, Gaga chose to perform her song “Til it Happens to You” featured on The Hunting Ground documentary about sexual assaults on college campuses. The performance featured people of all gender variance that, like Gaga, are survivors of sexual assault. In the short but stirring performance, audiences watched as these survivors bravely stood in solidarity to shed light on the millions who are sexually abused throughout their lifetime.

Continue reading “Lady Gaga: An Oscar Performance to Remember”