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March/April 2019

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The Demise of the Oscars

By Aaron Wong

The Oscars have been pretty bad in recent years, but you can always enjoy something from them. When I say that, I mean that you can just laugh at how pathetic the Academy and Hollywood is just based on the nominations alone. For that reason, I had always enjoyed watching the Oscars in an ironic sense, sometimes caring for some award nominees. But this year was special. The lead up to this year’s somehow managed to anger a lot of people, so what did the Academy do and what did the actual award show do this year?

In August of 2018, the Academy announced many changes they were making to the award show. The show’s been continuously losing viewers, maybe this could revive some interest in the show again. Oops! They announced a most popular film category! Completely disregarding the actual quality of a film! Basically, this category was made for the sake of popularity or for the Academy to allow Disney films to win an Oscar. In fact, the Academy president admitted that they wanted to add the category because of the diminishing viewing of the Oscars. Well, turns out the category that was designed to be well received. The opposite happened. Amateur film reviewers as well as professional critics, casual audiences and news outlets started bashing this idea. I mean, how could you classify a film as “popular.” Box Office sales? Social media posts? Google searches? Asking your grandma if they know what the movie is? Due to all of the outrage, the category was scrapped, but not entirely. Turns out, the Academy still wants to do it and is waiting for the right time to strike.

A few weeks later and the Oscars have become a big target for Hollywood, and not in a good way. An article by The Hollywood Report was released telling the masses why the Oscars have fallen in popularity and why it shouldn’t be relevant anymore. Basically what I’m doing right now, but to a greater extent. One of the big reasons people started talking about the Oscars again when the article was posted was the host. The more recent hosts weren’t really memorable. They all stretched out the show with really unnecessary tactics like inviting tourists to the show for a few minutes (twice!), snacks falling from the sky, using kids to promote Disney properties like The Lion King and Star Wars because Disney owns the Oscars, taking a selfie with some celebrities and, hey, Kevin Spacey’s in it, ordering a pizza, Ellen. Just Ellen in general, her presence was a tactic. (Just search up Ellen Oscars on Youtube and it will ruin your day, trust me). Oh, and they were unfunny. That, too. Imagine a bunch of people who want to celebrate cinema’s achievements this year and the wonderful innovations Hollywood pushed. Then they see Ellen saying, “Let’s take a selfie!” Nobody wants to see that, they want to see some golden statues named after the main character of Shark Tale handed out. All of this was done to increase the length of the broadcast, which will increase advertisements. It was designed to waste your time.

So, after this article came out, it was pretty set in stone that the Oscars weren’t really too great. Not just the upcoming one, but even a few years back. So pretty much the next day the Academy just suddenly announced Kevin Hart to be the host. Kevin Hart didn’t even know until all of the articles came out about it, this was completely unplanned. The best part about this is that people started to think positively about the Oscars again. Not too positive, but hopeful. But then, disaster struck. People started reading Kevin Hart’s old tweets and, oh boy. Back in the day, Kevin Hart made a lot of bad tweets, (you know, like a normal celebrity) and then people got mad. So mad in fact that the Academy blackmailed him to apologize for all the tweets or he wouldn’t be the host anymore. Hart did the honorable thing and apologized, but he also resigned the role of host anyways. He claimed that he was a different man now compared to 10 years ago and if the Academy believed that he was still this way, he just wasn’t welcome there. He was just placed in this role because he’s famous and nothing more, just a pawn in the Academy’s game. So that’s why the Academy just gave up and said, “No host.” People started to crack the code and figure out that the Academy and the Oscars never deserved to be honored in the first place, and for the Academy to not place anybody was their best choice. Either that or they were just lazy, I’m assuming that they were lazy.

Few months pass and now we’re at 2019. A month before the big show, the Academy shows off all the awards presented and, wait. Why is Black Panther nominated for six Oscars? Why is Green Book nominated for Best Picture? Why is Skin nominated for anything? The term Oscar-bait refers to films the pander towards any social movement going on at that time, but only do it as a marketing tactic. The term Oscar-bait has existed for a very long time, but it was this year that people started to take notice. Normally, Superhero films get only get one to two nominations if any at all, but six? Including Best Picture? Also, films like Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody, Ralph Breaks the Internet, all of them were weird choices to nominate while films like Eighth Grade and Paddington 2 were completely snubbed. This usually happens every year, but this year was pretty ridiculous compared to other years. But something else happened.

A few days later after the nominees were announced, the Academy announced that some categories would be cut from the live broadcast including best editing, best makeup, best cinematography, and best live action short. Instead, these categories were to be streamed online later. An article by “Laughing Place” noted that these categories had no Disney Movies in them. These elements matter greatly in a film, but these are essentially small categories. However, the lack of a host meant that there was more time during the broadcast meaning that Disney removed the categories to have more time promoting their own movies or that the Academy was planning more shenanigans to increase advertisements despite the lack of a host. Either way, the Academy learned nothing from what people were complaining about. But when it was scarily close to the air date, they brought the categories back into the broadcast. This is a complete trainwreck and the actual event hasn’t even happened yet. But finally, the day comes, the Oscars were finally here! Don’t be hopeful.

Guess what? Black Panther won three awards! And The Favorite only won one and Green Book, an Oscar-bait film, won best picture. It’s all subjective, but still, a movie that was made for the sole reason of making money and that alone, should that be revered as the best movie of the entire year? Besides that, the actual presentation never changed as much as people were hoping for. Instead of one careless celebrity attempting to make jokes, we had many celebrities attempting to make jokes. Again, it’s completely subjective, but look at it this way. Celebrities should probably know how the Academy wants their show to be, they don’t want it to be controversial, they just want to be popular. Celebrities can’t really do anything that’s out of line or else they may lose a potential gain in popularity. It’s all a business and the Academy, as well as the other celebrities participating in their event, are playing it safe. But, here’s the thing. The Oscars are losing popularity, mainly because the Academy doesn’t know what changes to make yet.

The Academy is out of touch and doesn’t know what people want anymore, hence why they were playing it safe in the end. They try to make choices that better suit what they think is the public eye, but in reality, these choices were the most controversial in result. Most popular film, the lack of a host, streaming only part of the awards, the randomly placed advertisements for Disney, this is not what people want. Even nominating an anime film and a Netflix film didn’t really please anyone. This year, the Academy clearly wanted to make some changes to the show, but they didn’t know what to do to make the Oscars popular again. Either that or the Academy purposely played dumb and made bad changes to purposely get more attention. A clear example of this when Steven Spielberg said Netflix films shouldn’t be nominated for Oscars. This sparked some controversy, which also got him attention. This could be what the Academy was trying to do, and if it was, it didn’t work. 29.6 million viewers tuned in which is one of the lowest the Oscars has ever been in recent years. It was only second to being the least viewed Oscars of all time, the worst being last year with Jimmy Kimmel. I highly doubt the Academy will ever learn what to do with the current president and the Oscars may just continuously fade into obscurity unless they make some needed changes. But based on recent choices, that isn’t likely.

Bohemian Rhapsody Review

By Gigi Jaimes

Bohemian Rhapsody, albeit an enjoyable film which could keep me entertained to its time limit, it stunned me as to why it was nominated for a whopping five Oscars, including best picture, and it won three out of the five it was nominated for. What made this movie seem so remarkable to the Academy? It was a standard film and a pretty basic biopic for such a flamboyant singer and one of the most famous bands of the ’70s and ’80s. Why is it being praised when it’s one of the most average films I have seen all of 2018? What made it so deserving of all it’s praise?

First of all, touching on the editing of the film. The mere mediocrity of it is exemplified in simply one scene, which I will link below. The amount of cuts used to get one point across - a band meeting a potential manager, is ridiculous. A scene that does something similar to this is Captain America: Winter Soldier - in an action sequence which required several cuts and at times could hurt your eyes if you focused on it too much, but it still made sense nonetheless as it was an action scene. And if you like action scenes, you’ll get quite a kick of adrenaline out of the band manager turning his chair through seven different cuts! It can’t keep a steady frame for even a second when it’s explaining a simple premise. This is not proper film editing, and it was simply not needed.

Next on the list is sound editing, there’s not much to say about it but it wasn’t truly special to me. I think the Academy gave the award to Bohemian Rhapsody because it’s a music film. But nothing about the sound editing gave the movie an effect, as if you were there watching Queen live. It was average, like the rest of the film. The Oscars is disillusioned enough to where they might think it gave you a rock concert experience, but they used studio versions of the songs for all concert segments and Live Aid was the only time in which they used live audio, but it didn’t enhance it in any way to make it more surreal. It still felt like a movie and nothing more, I didn’t feel sucked into it at all, I was simply watching. And as someone who has been to a rock concert before, it’s supposed to sound big, large and looming among the venue. And Queen was no stranger to having that effect - and this movie simply does their music dirty with this by not giving fans the ultimate experience. A movie that does capture this effect well is A Star Is Born, although this movie has its own flaws, the concert experience was something they nailed. The concert segments in that film with excellent because the team actually put effort into this film. They strived to make people feel like they were somewhere such as the Hollywood Bowl or Madison Square Garden, unlike Bohemian Rhapsody. The sound was absolutely average and standard.

Now, to touch on Rami Malek’s Best Actor win. That was the only thing I could truly agree with. He was able to capture Freddie, and he was the only one in the whole cast whose acting could actually have some type of effect. Despite facial differences between Malek and Mercury, he could do a pretty good job at capturing Freddie’s personality and spirit. You could tell he was pushing himself to get the character right when the rest of the cast just had to put on a couple of wigs, sit there and spit a couple of bits of dialogue while pretending to play their instruments as a studio recording rung in the background.

Now, although it didn’t win this award, I still feel the need to touch upon it. The Best Picture nomination was quite stupid to me and it surprised me. Bohemian Rhapsody doesn’t feel like a Best Picture nomination, it feels like something you put on to keep you entertained late at night when there’s nothing else to watch. It has absolutely no emotional grip nor does it provoke any thought about Freddie Mercury as a figure. It twists the story of Queen far too much and adds in fictional drama to actually put the conflict in places not needed. It’s the basic biopic formula, they never branched out or did anything new with its cinematography, story outline, or sound. It was nothing new to my eyes at all and there was no depth within the story. It was plain and point blank tasteless. And it was disheartening, but not surprising, that The Academy nominated a film with a child predator/sexual abuser’s name attached to it when the knowledge had well been out there for a good amount of time. It’s depressing that the Academy would overlook the wrongs of Bryan Singer to not get bashed for not including an “LGBT” film. Hollywood has a long history of sexual abuse and this is yet another spit in the face to sexual abuse victims. Bryan Singer doesn’t deserve the praises for Bohemian Rhapsody in no circumstance. Although the directors for Bohemian Rhapsody were switched last minute, Singer directed a whole of the film. The work is unerasable, and he is the main name of directors that people see. For lack of a better word, it’s disgusting. It’s disgusting that a portrayal of an icon is attached to a disgusting name and it’s disgusting that his legacy is now attached to his name as well. I’d also like to point out that Roger Taylor and Brian May, drummer and guitarist of Queen, are milking Freddie’s legacy for monetary gain and nothing else, they are not in the business of preserving it, they are using at this point. They did not care how the movie was orchestrated and how much falseness was in it, as long as it made them money it was fine. And there are many more Queen related projects that the two are in one, they will squeeze every coin they possibly can out of his image as if royalties aren’t enough for the two!

In short, the behind-the-scenes of Bohemian Rhapsody is nothing short of problematic. Yet teen girls on Twitter will continue to praise the film and drool over Rami Malek and Ben Hardy and treat mediocrity as brilliance while ignoring the corrupt figures behind the film. The praise this film gets upsets me on many levels as a knowledgeable music fan and other things. It falls short to me, and Hollywood itself continues to disappoint me as they say they make progress by nominating black films but still never paying attention to sexual assault victims or the perpetrators. Bohemian Rhapsody is yet another example among many of Hollywood’s ignorance towards victims and knack for covering up its corruptness by being woke in supporting supposedly LGBT supportive film. And yet Bohemian Rhapsody doesn’t even get that aspect of Freddie Mercury’s life right - focusing on his one-sided heterosexual relationship throughout the film, and the main LGBT interaction is toxic to Mercury’s career. The man he truly loved was given a good 10 minutes of screen time. It’s quite funny to me, such a deeply flawed film will continue to be praised to no end. Yet the most we can do as an avid film-viewing society is focus on the innovative and ingenious works that aren’t always noticed by the Oscars. We must support the genius, and not mold into the ignorance of the Oscars.

The Hard Truth

By Regan Smith

For those of you who do not know me, my name is Regan Smith and I am an 8th grader. Now you may be thinking that I enjoy notifying all of you of the world’s problems, yet that is not the case. I am telling you about these events because it is my strongest belief that best thing that you can do to bring change to a situation, is to spread awareness.

The Most Beloved Park in America

Now I am sure all of you have heard of Yellowstone National Park. Whether you have heard about it from a friend who has traveled there during the summer, or you are a major moose enthusiast of some sort, Yellowstone is a sight for sore eyes, widely known for its dramatically breathtaking scenery from spacious valleys to canyons so deep that they make you feel queasy. Home to some of the most beloved creatures in the country including wolves, the bald eagle, bears, elk, bison and many more. And of course one of its most famous attractions Old Faithful, a geyser known throughout the country for its enormous spout of boiling hot geyser water that sprays hourly.  Old Faithful, aside from its occasion bison and bear maulings, everything would seem fine in the country’s most beloved park, until a shocking find underneath Yellowstone's surface might change the course of America’s future.     

Crisis Below Yellowstone

For many years now trouble has been brewing beneath Yellowstone’s surface, what is it? You might be asking well that answer is simple: a mega volcano. Though not much is certain about the topic is certain there are a few things that we know is true, the volcano is the force powering all of Yellowstone’s geysers and hot springs, it covers most of Wyoming’s region, and finally the smoke cloud would be so catastrophic that it would cover most of America (not including Hawaii and Alaska) with thick volcanic ash.

Putting the Best Minds at Work

Some of the country's best minds have been put to work, trying to find ways to overt the crisis at hand. Many methods have thoroughly researched, however, the leading possibility is to put wells miles underneath next to the magma feeding the volcano cold water, as to prevent the mega volcano from exploding in the future. However there are many downsides to this method, firstly it is a very underdeveloped plan. It was first tested in a geyser field in Switzerland, however, the officials in charge added too much water the geysers, and the once bursting field is now barren and cold. Many people are also arguing that they would have to put a big ugly factory in the middle of Yellowstone, which would ruin the timeless picture of beauty that is Yellowstone.

Everything is Going to be Alright

Although there is much to be concerned about, recent research would point out that it would be billions and billions of years before the volcano would ever even explode again. Other sources claim that the mega-volcano may not ever explode again anyways. Overall the main point to remember is that the mega-volcano will have never exploded during our lifetime.

Satire: Why Despicable Me is Genius

By Aaron Wong

Film is a delicate art, all of it being made out of images all put out together to give the illusion of movement. For live-action films, all you need to do is to simply take a video instead of taking consecutive images. But for animated films, they are all painstakingly made, pure seconds can take a week to create. Pure craftsmanship like this can go completely unnoticed. There are several animated films that take this fact for granted and never show the audience the true craftsmanship these films have. But there is one film that makes this exceptionally clear to the audience how much effort and how many man-hours it took to craft this modern masterpiece. I am here today to present to you why the film franchise Despicable Me is a true work of art.

Despicable Me was a film animated by the studio Illumination Entertainment and directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud. Obviously two directors make this film automatically great, but there is much more to talk about. It was originally made by Sergios Pablos going by the title Evil Me. He later presented the idea to Universal Studios where it was soon taken Universal’s newest animation studio, Illumination, to work on the project. Wow, three people! Now you know it’s gonna be good. After the film came out on DVD and Blu-ray, there were three extra shorts titled “Mini-movies” all set in the minions’ universe. Another three?! This soon became a tradition for all Illumination to have, and all of them have been in the minions’ universe still, just in case you still haven’t gotten your minion fill. It should be clear to you why this film is so great, but just in case it isn’t, I’ll explain the animation.

The style used was CG, or computer generated, and it worked out fantastically. The amount of detail and realism in the world is truly spectacular and has aged extraordinarily well. Anytime I watch the film, I constantly reach out to the screen to try and feel Gru’s bald head, but then I sadly realize that it isn’t real. That’s how real it is. Even in later films, they still manage to maintain the same amount of detail, which is amazing considering how they only have a budget of 1 million per film. The movement in the film also helped with the realism of the film. The whole design of the world feels off however, but it was done purposely. They wanted it to portray the main character, Gru’s, broken mind, which I will explain later.

The characters of the film represent the main character’s mental state. The main character in question, Felonius Gru, is played by the impeccable Steve Carrell, who portrays an almost broken man. A man who has done so much in his life, yet he always yearns for more. He wants to literally reach and steal the moon, but he is held back. Investors, peers, they all underestimate his ability but in turn, this makes his mental state worse and makes him want to fly to the moon more. Steve Carrell plays this role beautifully, it almost feels natural. In an interview, he said that he was once broken like the poor Gru and was always looked down upon and by playing Gru, he was finally able to accept himself as a person. But in the movie, how was Gru supposed to accept himself? The orphans, Margo, played by Miranda Cosgrove, Edith, played by Dana Geier, and Agnes, played by Elsie Fisher, all want to help Gru and totally aren’t just selfish children. Instead, they want to support Gru and cure his tainted soul. But at the same time, they are just children and can’t comprehend the 40 years Gru has lived and can’t see why he is madly obsessed with this nearly impossible task. The orphans when asked about their experiences in the recording booths, they said that even in real life, Steve Carrell was struggling while playing in the role and that they repeatedly attempted to cheer him up. In return, they were mailed dead rats in letters written in the character of Gru. Though the orphans try to repair his soul, there is one man who was always in Gru’s way of recovery. Vector, played by Jason Segel is the main antagonist of the film despite almost everybody in the movie being villains. He desperately wants Gru to struggle more and more in his work, to the point of mocking and torturing him. Vector also being a villain is reflective of the fact that he is similar to Gru, but he is unfixable. They are the same, but also opposites. Comparing the hair styles of the two characters, Gru being bald shows us that he is not normal, he is different from the rest of society while Vector has a bowl cut, signifying that he has become completely consumed with evil and is more of a conformist. They represent a yin and yang relationship. Gru being all good and Vector representing chaotic evil. Again, they are opposites, but they need each other. The last few characters in the movie are the minions, played by Pierre Coffin, who further represent Gru’s good nature. This was better reflected in 2016’s Minions where they are shown to be good people, but they need to be bad in order to survive and function. This movie promoted the ideas of mental health, this was the movie that started political movements.

Overall, this movie is legendary. This movie is so artistically superior, I don’t even need to talk about the plot or the soundtrack or anything else. That’s how good it is. It has such a legendary status, so much so that me talking about it may even tarnish the film’s reputation. 

Who We Are...

Writers: Chloe Bennett, Bree Clarke, Chloe Coleman, Diana Estrada, Lucy Halperin, Gigi Jaimes, Megan Lachman, Lola Lazzara, Hunter Orozco, Kylie Papa, Quinn Perry, Kimberly Picasso, Lily Rutledge, Regan Smith, Olivia Stratton, Kate Stulik, Julie Venckute, Hailey Wall, Lotte West, Elsa Wiley, Aaron Wong

Editor: Lola Lazzara

Instagram: Lotte West and Bree Clarke

Advisor: Kristine Cross