Tag: feature

Why We Need Love, Simon.

When I first realized I liked girls, I was only ten years old. I had been watching Teen Titans, a show on the Cartoon Network one Saturday morning when the character Starfire came on screen. She had bright red hair and an outrageously animated body, but the way her character spoke had made my chest feel warm.

Being a child, I shoved the feeling away to analyze at a later date, unable to recognize how much that moment would shape my young life. The time for analysis never came. Instead, I worked my way through middle school, developing crushes on girls in my grade, but all the same shoving the infatuation away because of course, it was wrong. Unnatural. After all, it was Rose that fell in love with Jack, and it was Edward that fell in love with Bella, and that was just the way things were.

The way everything was.

download.jpegRecently, however, the film Love, Simon has challenged this heterosexual status quo, the movie hitting theaters internationally, acting as a shock to the largely straight system of cinema. The film has earned mixed reviews from people both within and outside of the LGBT+ community. A majority of the reactions have been positive, celebrating the success of one of the first, widely released young adult films that features a gay protagonist.

However, some critics have picked the film apart, discrediting every cliche and dismissing every cheesy one liner, all the while posing the question of whether Love, Simon was necessary.

3114996878_6cd56a1c57

14314004752_0c67974f5b_b

In a society completely saturated with films based around teen stereotypes, it surprises me that only now is the necessity of high school rom coms called into question. Films such as Fault in Our Stars, Twilight, and Ten Things I Hate About You, which all feature heterosexual, high school couples, have had the honor of becoming classics among the millennial generation.

Yet, now that a film of the same formula has taken the box office by storm with a gay main character, Hollywood has suddenly “run out of ideas,” repeating the same narrative and pandering to “PC culture.”

I understand the frustration with Hollywood’s monotony. Love, Simon is by no means a cinematic masterpiece. At times, the writing heavily relies on stereotypes audiences may be tired of, and the use of clichés sometimes pushes the narrative right over the line of cheesy. But that’s what makes Love, Simon so crucial in the fight for representation. Finally, the LGBT+ community has gotten their own Twilight, just… with less vampires and more rainbow motifs.

blue_warmest_color
Image from Trailer Addict: https://www.traileraddict.com/blue-warmest-color/poster/1

To give context to why a film like Love, Simon is so important, it’s necessary to understand the current state of LGBT+ cinema. One of the most popular movies ever to feature a gay couple is the French film Blue is the Warmest Color. The movie illustrates a relationship between a nervous 18-year-old named Adèle and an older, free spirited woman named Emma, who is implied to be in her 30’s. Their relationship is taboo and secretive, which eventually causes a rift between them. Eventually, Adèle is left behind by Emma, and, with the love of her life gone, Adèle spirals into depression while her ex moves on to a more mature, stable relationship. To make matters, and the film as a whole, even worse, spliced between scenes of emotional manipulation and angst are vulgar, bordering on pornographic sex scenes between Adèle and Emma.

 

These distressing themes are commonplace within LGBT+ films. Characters tend to either be hypersexualized or broken apart, a happy ending out of the question. For a young member of the LGBT+ community, it can be frightening to look towards media for reassurance, only to be told that the kinds of relationships you may be looking for can only end in tragedy. Love, Simon takes these thematic elements, these pornographic scenes, and flips them on their head, instead creating a sweet but inspiring tale that seeks to empower teenagers who are just starting to explore their identities and sexualities.

Keiynan_Lonsdale_(2)_(cropped).jpg

 

In fact, even members of the cast of Love, Simon themselves have been inspired by the film, the lead actor Keiynan Lonsdale (pictured right) coming out as queer just after shooting for the movie was wrapped. Reflecting on what it was like to play a closeted gay character, Lonsdale said to the Hollywood Reporter on March 16th, “Representation matters, and it’s just the truth. You watch something, and depending on how the story is told and how these characters feel to you, it influences your life, it influences how you feel about yourself and people that you meet.”*

Stories like Lonsdale’s unfold every day– kids coming out to their families and friends all the while never knowing exactly what kind of reaction they’ll get. Lonsdale acknowledges that he was lucky to come out in an environment that was so immediately accepting, though he admits that, regardless of knowing he’d be met with nothing but support, it was still a terrifying experience. Love, Simon was created with the purpose of quelling some of that inherent fear. By giving an honest, yet lighthearted look into the life of a gay teenager, Love, Simon has become an invaluable resource for queer kids who are terrified of making themselves known. Seeing the main character find peace in his own skin gives kids within the LGBT+ community an example to look towards, letting them hope for their own happy ending.

By Mimi Ottavi

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/love-simon-keiynan-lonsdale-talks-coming-set-1092851

 

Chicago 17 – Album Review

chicago172front

By Christian Perez


 

Imagine the perfect band.

For some, that might involve massive guitars, pounding percussion, and vocalists that hit astronomically high notes. Others may be picturing a traditional ensemble, draped in the velvety colors of the symphonic orchestra. You might even prefer the artist’s focus on songwriting instead of musical skill!

My idea of the perfect band comes in the form of Chicago. Not only is their individual musicianship excellent, but their collective knowledge and application of jazz sets them apart from other rock groups from the 60s-80s. They found a way to seamlessly blend the intricate harmonic devices of that genre with an accessible approach to songwriting and lyricism.

While Chicago 17 maintains that essential integrity, this album doesn’t always stay consistent in terms of re-imagining the 80s pop formula. Some songs fare better than others, but the overall vibe seems much more manufactured and produced than their earlier jazz-rock works (such as Chicago V).

The opening song of this album is a wonderful example of this supposition. “Stay The Night” sits in this strange middle ground for me. The guitars, synths, and drums hit harder than a brick wall, but the rather odd delivery of the lackluster lyrics brings the whole track down a couples of notches. There’s just not enough depth to this song to keep me engaged, and that tarnished the initial impression I got from the excellent instrumental track.

However, the album gets progressively better after the opening.

Take for example, one of my favorites off of the album, “We Can Stop The Hurtin'”. It directly proceeds “Stay The Night”, and immediately lifted my hopes for Chicago’s seventeenth collection. It opens with an arpeggiated synth bass, a funky clean guitar, and a bare drum beat. Robert Lamm starts his verse by describing the rather desolate condition of society, but transitions into the harmonically-dense chorus by admitting that “If we found a way to reconcile, we could stop the hurtin’ for a while”. I’d recommend that you give this track a listen!

I couldn’t really complete this review without mentioning the two hit ballads off of this album: “Hard Habit to Break” and “You’re The Inspiration”. These are some of my favorite songs of all time, and I’d like to share why these stand out to me.

“Hard Habit to Break” is one of the most intricate power ballads I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. In terms of the song’s composition, I find that Steve Kipner keeps the song interesting by changing the keys many times, as well as emphasizing his wonderful lyrical contributions. Of course, this song wouldn’t have been as successful and as poignant without the fantastic vocal performances provided by Peter Cetera and Bill Champlin! The unique timbre of both of these performers only supplement the excellence of their vocal abilities.

Performed at the Venetian Theatre in Las Vegas.


The song “You’re The Inspiration” follows a similar standard in performance. However, this song serves as a wonderful vehicle for showcasing Cetera’s vocal ability and his skills as songwriting (with a little bit of help from producer David Foster). I don’t believe I can properly explain to you all how great this song is, so here’s a link to a live performance of the song:

Peter Cetera performs this song, independent of Chicago, for the DVD Peter Cetera with Special Guest Amy Grant.


Overall, I think that this album deserves a listen, but keep in mind that the songwriting and 80s aesthetic can sometimes feel both underwhelming and overwhelming. The high points on this album are glorious, but the low points seem to bring you down as well.

Here’s the album on Spotify:

Final Score:

7/10

 

Additional Information

Chicago 17 came out on May 14, 1984 to massive sales (1). It became the group’s best selling album of all time, and cemented the aging group’s musical influence for years to come. The singles from this album include “Stay the Night”, “Hard Habit to Break”, “You’re The Inspiration”, and “Along Comes A Woman”.

Sources:

  1. https://www.chicagotheband.com/albums/chicago17.html
  2. http://vinylalbumcovers.com/chicago-17/

 

 

CUDM Kicks Off Year 3

By: Caroline Herrig

Dance Marathon is an organization that supports the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, and this is Clarke’s third year of hosting their own Dance Marathon event.

This organization works throughout the school year to raise funds and awareness for the hospital, and at the end of the year at the “big event”, the total amount of money raised is revealed to all of the members and dancers who helped raise it! In the past two years, Clarke Dance Marathon, an entirely student-run organization, has raised over $25,000 and with that money, was able to purchase a prep/recovery room at the hospital that is named after Clarke’s program.

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

Kaitlynn Pate, one of CUDM’s Co-Presidents, expressed how critical each and every member and dancer is to the success of the organization.

“It is amazing to me that college students can make such an impact on the lives of those treated at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. We are all part of a movement that is larger than all of us participating combined. We are the face to end pediatric illness,” Pate stated.

This year, the organization has been especially busy with fundraising, as the goal this year is to raise $20,000, all of which goes directly to the hospital to provide things like meal tickets for families during their stay, toys/gifts for the kids, as well as funding for research for pediatric illnesses.

The executive committee has also been working to ensure the big event runs smoothly, and has been working to schedule entertainment for the event such as dodgeball, karaoke/lip sync battles, minute-to-win-it games, a bounce house, Zumba, therapy dogs, plus more! All of these activities are free for Dance Marathon committee members and dancers to participate in. The only hard part, is that there is no sitting or caffeine allowed during the 8 hour event. This is a way for the Dance Marathon members to take on the struggles that the kiddos at the hospital regularly face.

Most importantly, at the big event, the miracle families that are the face of the Clarke Dance Marathon program are given the opportunity to share their stories of their experiences with the hospital for all of the members and dancers to hear. These stories are shared throughout the event to serve as a reminder of what all of the hard work is for. Chelsea Pierce, CUDM’s Family Relations Director, stated, “I have never met and gotten to know stronger families than our CUDM miracle families. They let our organization into their lives and let us become a part of their families. They share with us their difficult times, and our organization helps life them up.”

IMG_4678

CUDM’s big event is held on Saturday, April 14th from 4 pm – midnight, and is held in the Kehl Center on campus. Dancers can still register for the event, and donations can be made now, through the duration of the event. If you would like to register, donate, or learn more about Dance Marathon and the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, you can visit clarke.edu/dancemarathon.