Where Did Disney’s Magic Go?

From my perspective, the magic of Disney is that whenever I hear a certain song, or re-watch an old movie, it instantly takes me back. I’m reminded of the days when I would pop the chubby VHS tape in the VCR, decorated in some Cinderella costume my mom sewed, ornamented with orange juice stains and loose threads. Time stood still when I heard lovely tune of A Whole New World with Princess Jasmine’s grainy, enchanting presence on a TV screen that was once brand new in 1995. 

Whew! Nostalgia, how bout it!

Disney’s animation was a unique, vibrant, breathtaking experience that I remember being inspired by as a child. The colors popped, the quick tricks were fascinating, the scenery was detailed, and everything was just so interesting. 

Which is why I can’t help but share my disappointment in many of the new live-action Disney films, attempting to unnecessarily replicate these beautiful, original masterpieces. Why fix something that isn’t broken?

I’ve seen a handful of these new movies so far: Aladdin, Lion King, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book. (Wow, actually typing these out I saw way more than I should’ve, damn.) Either way, I wasn’t impressed by them. Here’s why:

My big girl answer: The creators of these films banked on nostalgia, altered soundtracks, and big Hollywood names to recreate the tales. And, in a way, it worked. These movies racked in a massive fortune for Disney, and launched several careers for the ‘live-action’ actors. However, it failed in a more important way. Although the CGI that they love to use for everything is impeccable, the color palettes of (many) of the films are ridden with depressing, dull greys, browns, and blacks. The celebrity cameos are distracting and misplaced. The focus for these films is more on being ‘epic’ and gritty, showing off the calibrated CGI. Observing the overall look of the film from an art direction perspective, it’s underwhelming, especially seeing such phenomenal films like Coco being released in the same year. The difference is night and day. 

My biased, toddler answer:  It took stories that were so vibrant, so beautiful, and so well-fitting for the animation they were currently told as, and made it a weird, stupid-looking human version! Are you kidding me? Part of the magic of Disney’s animation is that the characters are, in fact, animated, more vibrant than real people and real animals. You can twist and stretch the intensity of their looks and actions. It creates the larger-than-life, mind-boggling excitement that you can’t recreate yourself. The Lion King looked like a NATURE DOCUMENTARY. Their mouths barely moved, the colors were pathetic. You broke it! How’d you break the Lion King!? (Sidenote on Aladdin: I know Will Smith has a bajillion dollars but… I still don’t think the man got paid enough for being the genie Jesus fucking Christ) 

Here’s a comparison between the Lion King animation (left) and live-action (right).

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Here’s another, except vice versa:

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This final comparison is from the Live Action Aladdin (2019)

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I understand the default answer: money. That little mouse will smile and wave and then slash each remaining industry dead as the serial entertainment monopolist. However, there are also less ‘capitalist’ reasons. Many people argued that these live-action films bring the same magic of the original stories to the new generation of children to enjoy. But to that I ask, is it the same magic?

Disney’s blatant disinterest in its own magic is, what can be best described as a plague affecting movie theaters everywhere. It’s almost aggravating, especially from where I’m standing. As a student who is interested in writing screenplays, it’s frustrating to watch Hollywood’s spotlight only shine on the same stories from roughly 15 years ago. I love seeing new creators, directors, and screenwriters explode. Watching quality, original work given the attention it deserves not only gives me something new to watch and enjoy, but also a gleam of hope for the future of content on the silver screen. 

I’m not a fan of ‘10 reasons you shouldn’t support xyz’ or ‘why (insert movie or show) sucks!’ type of journalism. It isn’t very productive. However, I think it’s genuinely important to criticize a massive company that a wickedly tight grip on the entertainment industry’s balls. Disney has a large say over what we choose to accept as the standard for entertainment that we once held sacredly to our childhood hearts. I hope this phase of live-action movies is a weird fluke that we can all just kick under the magic carpet. 

 

‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ and the Portrayal of Mental Illness

In light of the vibrant, musical TV show ‘Crazy Ex Girlfriend’ coming to an end, I thought about its positive impact associated with the portrayal of mental illness. The story of the show follows Rebecca Bunch, of whom we as an audience are supposed to identify ourselves with. She’s funny, messy, boisterous, sharp, and one of the most interesting people you would ever find. However, she is quite flawed. In many episodes, she becomes obsessed with the love interest of whom she broke up with in her teenage years, and later moved to a city in California to pursue. 

As the show flies through each season, we watch Rebecca face more issues. She’s not just overly reliant on others, but also anxious, severely emotional, and has a history ridden with abandonment, leaving her with trauma and insecurity. But what I really like about the way the show is written, is that it’s not seen as this scary, irreversible, end-all-be-all problem. Instead, her issues are portrayed as musical numbers. She regularly sees a therapist, and reflects the ups and downs of dealing with a mental disorder, which we eventually discover to be BPD (Borderline personality disorder)

It shows that those living with mental disorders aren’t too different than those that aren’t; they’re in plain sight. Many TV shows will over-simplify the effects of disorders, making the character suffering from it appear malicious, crazy, or simply just project them in a poor light. This is also part of the irony of the show’s name. We find that Rebecca isn’t really such a “crazy” ex girlfriend after all. She’s just Rebecca; she’s genuine, honest about her feelings, high-spirited, and loyal to those she loves. 

Mental Illness is commonly misrepresented in hollywood. Suicide is glamorized, illnesses are seen as an inescapable black hole, therapists are for ‘crazy people,’ the characters are overly dramatized and usually made out to be the villain. This is unfair to people who actually suffer from mental illness, and see it from a completely different perspective.

I understand the counterargument; characters dealing with mental illness in healthy ways doesn’t make for good television. Well, to that I say: watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the perfect example to oppose that stance. 

It’s 2019. People living with mental illness do not deserve to be stigmatized in TV and film. It just makes it less likely that people will reach out and get help. So, here’s to supporting quality television that positively impacts mental illness; let’s hope the future of hollywood holds more of it. 

On Grief.

It’s true that the more we can connect and empathize with another person, the closer we can understand them. Rough times are part of what helps us to bond with others that have felt the same way. We can either use the pain that we feel in this life to help us heal and love one another, or we can use the pain as a shielding weapon to block the world away from us. 

It was an earlier shift at the restaurant I worked at. A family with kids already grown walked in, and I took their table. This particular family was unhappy, there was no doubt about it. The mother and father seemed to be on the verge of divorce, and their daughters and son were all too exhausted by it. They collectively decided to take their anger out on their waitress. Demanding, complaining, sending plates back, and using that passive aggressive tone people talk in when they’re pissed off, was thrown my way every time I walked over to that table. I was equally terrified as I was annoyed. These people completely ruined my day, and I definitely thought about it way too much afterwards. This miserable family made me miserable. How miserable, right? 

This happened a while ago, but I was reminded of it from the man that came in last night. 

It was late, the restaurant was empty. A man in a black suit walked in by himself, looking dismal. I served him a couple drinks, and he chatted with me a bit, about school, the city, the restaurant and the area, normal topics. He was one of the nicest customers I had, many people just want their food and drinks, and not the conversation, so it was refreshing to hear. He later mentioned that he had arrived from his brother’s funeral, and spiraled into a wholesome, but brief conversation about grief, life, and death. The check was on the table, and by the time I came back, he was gone. He left me a 70% tip, with a little ‘thank you, emily’ on the receipt. 

It’s clear to me that life will throw terrible, nightmare situations at you without warning. You can either wrap the misery around yourself and hide in it, or be sincere and approach it head on, reaching your hand out for help. If there’s one thing I want to do in this world, it’s to be good to others, and to give. As best as I can, with mistakes and bumps, it’s still possible. I want to give that consoling, heartening feeling to others that the man who came from the funeral gave to me. We only have each other in this life. Be good to one another. 

One Second Each Day

I came across this really interesting idea a few years ago–taking a short, one-second long video of each day for a year, and compiling them up and seeing how your year turned out. I tried doing this for 2018, but I unfortunately ran short of storage on my phone.

But this year, I gave into the society-consuming monopoly that is Apple, and bought more storage. I began filming everyday starting January first, and have been consistent everyday since.

And so far, I must say, 2019 has given me many bad days. Many things I don’t want to film. Many breakdowns, stressful nights, and issue upon issue. So, I found that the days I go out with my friends or party much easier to find the perfect second to film, but the days I feel empty are so much harder.

But, some good came out of these empty days. Because yes, things have been hard. Specific days have been huge struggles. But, this little video project essentially forces me to find one good thing about that day. So, I got a scholarship rejection letter. I cried, and then I found a really pretty sunset to look at. I stayed up for hours working on a midterm essay, and I filmed a really cute baby pitbull hanging out the window of someone’s car. Searching for the right ‘second a day’ has given me a reason to look for the good, the magic, the life in everyday.

I also had a tendency to search for ‘perfect’ things to film. My makeup had to be flawless, or it had to be a cool video of all of my friends, or a new, exciting thing that I’m doing everyday. But that’s not EVERYDAY. Everyday is normal things. Colorful pens I organized on my desk, coffee in my car cup holder that I made while I was running late for class, or just normal everyday things that don’t have to be perfect.

So, even if it’s hard to, take a second to find the good part of your day. I promise, it’s worth it.

 

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We Are All Foreigners

We are all foreigners. In some way, to some person, we are unbeknownst. The term ‘foreign’ can be described as something strange and unknown to one. People different than us have a strange way of striking confusion and fear within ourselves. But that’s only one dimensional. And as we all know, a single story is dangerous, as we can’t infer any deeper understanding.

So what does this poetic garbage mean?

It’s important that we sometimes see ourselves as foreigners; we’re the ones with unknown traits. This topic has been lingering on my mind for some time now. I’m in a college production of The Foreigner by Larry Shue–a farce comedy set in 1980’s rural Georgia (so probably not the best place to be one.) We meet an Englishman staying with this Southern family for some time, Charlie Baker, a gentleman so paralyzed with anxiety and fear, and as a result of this fear of talking, he is introduced to them as a foreign man who speaks no English.

Through this setup, he overhears the complexities and secrets within this Georgian family, but also helps them grow, and defeat the evil of ignorance.

It gave me a deeper understanding of the mystery, hatred and ignorance so wrongly placed on the word ‘foreigner’ and how we are all foreign in some way, making us not so different from one another after all.

An example of this: When an American visits some European country, and gleefully proclaims their love of the accents. The local then slyly asserts that it’s the visiting tourist with the accent, not them. Two perspectives, two stories, two foreigners.

We are all foreigners, and it’s a very good thing.

 

5 Unparalleled Romance Movies Worth Watching

Although Valentine’s Day is far past us, good quality romance films will always be in season. Here’s a list of 5 romances that don’t belong in the cliche bin.

Amelie (2001)

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Words and actions don’t always align. Amelie is painfully shy, yet continually sets up intricate mysteries for strangers passing through her life. This movie is a foreign film, but the subtitles don’t take away from its  lighthearted, upbeat and romantic nature. Not to mention, the cinematography in this film is one of a kind.

2) The Big Sick (2017)

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A narrative written so personally, The Big Sick is a love-story so close to reality. It doesn’t follow the same structure of every rom-com you’ve watched. It follows a journey that focuses on family, religious expectations, illness, and the lengths people will go for those that they love.

3)  500 Days of Summer (2009)

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I love this movie because it looks like such a cliche, cheesy romance film, but it’s actually super duper not. It focuses on our projections of what we think love is, versus what reality turns out for us. Sometimes we see love through rose-tinted lenses, and our expectations aren’t always fair. 500 Days of Summer is endearing, heartbreaking, and worth a watch.

4) Juno (2007)

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This movie isn’t simply boy meets girl, or girl meets boy, or the well-known stereotypical love scene in most romance films. It deals with teen pregnancy, boundaries, not fitting in, and all the complications that come with a new life. It’s also an exemplary artifact of the off-beat 90’s teen culture.

5) While You Were Sleeping (1995)

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This is a classic film that twists through a series of lies, altercations with family, and finding unexpected love. Also– Sandra Bullock. Is she not the greatest?

 

How to: Afford College the Wrong Way

Alright. So we all know college is exactly three million dollars per person nowadays and it’s rare to find a student who isn’t struggling with debt. Here are a few very real tips to find money for college that have been proven by scientists to work. Let’s dive right in.

Pretend to be a girl scout

This is perfect timing–it’s scout season. If you’re a boy, no worries. You can simply pretend to be an eagle scout and sell that popcorn, baby. Take the orders, take the money, and drive it all the way to Harvard yard. I mean, who really cares if you’re suspiciously not a child?

Become a Hitman

Illegal? Possibly. Efficient? 100%. Take up self defense courses and invest in medieval weaponry. Finding willing customers is simple. If you see an annoying customer complain to a store employee, approach the store employee for business. This can also apply for step-fathers, in-laws, PE teachers, and any employee at a DMV. You’ll be killing all day, and cashing in all night.

Encourage your friends with new credit cards to capture the moment by posting facebook pictures.

And you’ll be the first to disappoint them.

Perform Street Shows

You don’t have to be into drama and arts to do this. Pick something you’re good at and perform it in front of a crowd. Maybe it’s accounting and finance. Screw the subway guitar players–display your budget skills on a large binder for crowds of people to see.

Figure out a FAFSA employee’s Grindr password

Blackmail, blackmail, blackmail! Trusty and effective.

Follow these steps, and you will make money for college the very wrong way, good luck!

 

Chronicles of a Caddy: How True “Caddyshack” Portrays the Experience

I caddied for five years at a wealthy, prestigious country club. I’ve picked up a lot of life experience, as well as some golf tips (don’t get me wrong, I’m still garbage at it). The movie Caddyshack is equally timeless as it is hilariously brilliant, and I find myself relating to a lot of it. Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney and Brian Doyle-Murray began writing this movie by basing it off of true events from personal experiences as

Musical golf bags do exist, and they’re just as obnoxious as you think

In the movie, the character Al Czervik is a zany golfer with a loud, music-blasting golf bag that’s lugged around on the caddy’s shoulder. Fun as it would seem, the sad fact is that any music played is rich old white dude music, which isn’t good at all. This excludes any bops, bangers, or jams. When I came across this experience, I had absolutely no idea how to shut the music off, and was compensated far too little for the ear torture.

The “caddy scholarship” consistently referenced in the movie actually exists

Also known as the Chick Evans Scholarship, it was founded by Charles E. Jr. or “Chick” in 1930. It’s a full ride scholarship, offering tuition and free housing at a list of state schools, mostly in the Midwest region. And damn, is it sweet.

The life advice is real

While there are always golfers that prefer not to converse and simply focus on the game, I’ll find that a good amount of people will relate what they’ve learned about college, jobs, people, and life in general to what my future plans are. After all, if they’ve obtained a pricey membership at such an upscale place, and have found success in their field. Why wouldn’t their advice be worth taking?

The ass-kissing is also real

Whether it’s co-workers in an outing with their boss, or a caddy that wants to be promoted, there are always the brown-noses (another term consistently referenced in the movie) Many work/business opportunities are on the line, and people try to fight their way to them. It’s interesting to watch.

Serious cash is tossed around like it’s nothing

Again, the country club I worked at is extremely upscale. I’d see these golfers making bets on a putt for more than my monthly tuition payments. They throw around money like it’s not a problem, because for most of them, it isn’t. The only scary part of this equation, is when they would ask me to read a putt that’s worth 2-3,000 dollars. No thank you, sir.

The caddy masters/ owners won’t take your crap

They’ve got people to impress and–no– they don’t have time to pay you right now so hang on a damn second. If you fall out of line, they won’t be nice to you. One time, my boss went off on a caddy for ten minutes because he had his feet propped up on a chair in the caddyshack. (Not the friendliest person) When it comes to rules, it’s pretty much “put up and shut up.”

The “spoiled children” of members stereotype is hilarious

There’s a program where caddies keep score for the children of members while they play a shortened round of golf. Don’t get me wrong, most of the kids are polite and fun. But occasionally, there’s a child who just wants to go home, hates everything about golf, and WILL make everyone around them pay for it.

My years as a caddy have been eventful to say the least. It’s not an easy job, and never short of any chaos. It’s taught me a lot about life. I had my last loop a few months ago. So naturally, I blasted Kenny Loggin’s “I’m Alright” as I drove off, waving to the guard at the exit for the last time. Ironically enough, my little brother just began caddying. What’s his name? Danny.

 

Trump’s Morning Routine

The exhausted Washington sun shines on a dreary Washington morning. After awakening in a bed right by the love of his life, Donald professes his gratitude.

“Oh, beautiful mirror,” he says dreamily, “Look at us. You and I? We’re going to do great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great–”

Twenty minutes pass.

“Great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, GREAT things today. Also, has anyone brought me my three egg mcmuffins and eight hashed browns yet? No? I don’t see it. This is an atrocity! Money is time, people.”

After tweeting angrily about his late breakfast, Donald rocks back and forth six times before being able to sit up properly. Without a single speck of shame, he trudges to his bathroom.

“Now, it’s time to brush the pearly whites! And as everyone knows, white is the most superior color.”

He pushes out the toothpaste onto his brush, a liquified version of Paul Ryan, people clapping when the airplane lands, and Tommy Bahama cologne. The toothpaste is glaringly, painfully white. He looks proudly in the mirror.

“Now we’ll do my special routine for my skin. There’s a reason I look so glowingly handsome. To combat wrinkles, I use youthful, innocent serum for my skin.”

What’s in this container of serum you might ask? It’s a simply mixture of tears from all the pageant women Donald made uncomfortable, soft tufts of fur from faultless animals that Donald Junior shot on hunting trips, and beads of sweat from the underpaid, exploited, working class of America. Find it at a local Sephora near you!

He looks at himself in the mirror at his very bald head, shiny and saddening. “Daily wig maker? Where are you? I’m in no mood to be patient,” he whines.

A man in a theme park uniform quickly enters, pushing a large cotton candy machine through the door.

“So sorry, Mr. President,” he shakily begs, “I had to pick up more blonde powder at the store.”

Donald leans his head into the machine; while the man cranks, blonde cotton candy whisps out onto his head.

“It was sweeter last week.”

“I think they changed the formula, sir.”

The final step of Donald’s morning routine is simple yet vital. In order to achieve his stained orange pigmentation, he has to work his way up to the level of anger that turns him that color. This requires one crucial step–getting angry.  

Donald pulls up the Tumblr app on his phone.

“Well screw you, Jerika from Long Island! Your purple hair won’t ever earn you respect anyways. I bet nobody even sits with you during your fifth period lunch. What a LOSER!”

The anger saga is fulfilled by a five minute slideshow of people wearing beanies, SNL writers, and urban outfitters employees ordering iced coffee before their shifts. He shouts, screeches, spits, and squalls until his anger turns him into the infamous, Donald-orange. After that, he begins his day full of hard work. On the golf course.

Saturday Night Live Museum in Chicago Review: The Highlights

Saturday Night Live has always been quite near and dear to my heart; if there’s one thing I’m a nerd about, it’s this show. So, it was truly fitting that I spent my valentine’s day date at a place I’m newly in love with– the temporary SNL museum in Chicago, ‘SNL: The Experience.’ Located at 360 N State St, you’ll find that the tickets are reasonably priced for the inside look at a show with so much history and humor. Here were a few of my favorite parts.

The Full Schedule

Not only are there famous wigs, costumes, and scripts, but each room of the museum serves as a day of the week at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and shows how the day-to-day madness ensues. It displays where the episode is at in the production process on each day. For instance, Tuesdays include long nights that writers spend hours thinking of pitch ideas for the dreaded Wednesday meeting with Lorne and the host. The Tuesday room had videos of famous writers, like Seth Meyers, talking about this day in particular, as well as a glass case full of scripts from over the years, included some from as early as the 70’s. I was having a moment. 

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The Glamour 

With all the character transformations on snl, it makes for lots of wigs, head molds, and allllllll kinds of props to make the characters look believable. It was interesting to see all the designated elements for the hilarious characters that famous alum used to wear–especially the iconic cone head. 

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The Costumes

We were joined by all of the classics from snl history at this museum, Stefon’s wedding outfit (YES!), the church lady’s dress (isn’t that special?), and even the suit from Alec Baldwin’s uncanny Donald Trump impersonation. There were so many more that you should check out for yourself because this part of the museum was surreal. I felt like I was entering a forbidden Taiwanese Temple or something. Seriously, it was so cool.

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The final part

After visiting a replica of the control room (which also felt very real, there was a countdown board to the special snl episode for museum goers only.) The nutshell SNL episode was short and sweet to sum up the museum, and to send off those just finishing the tour. There were very few other people there when I went on a weekday, so it made this experience even cooler. After the mini show, they encouraged a fun photoshoot behind the recreated ‘weekend update’ desk. I was in heaven. (And I also found my new profile picture for EVERYTHING)

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This was by far, the best museum I have ever visited. I only mentioned a fraction of the memorabilia, props, costumes, quotes, videos, set pieces, and snl artifacts that caught my eye on every floor; there are so many more I didn’t mention. It’s funny because we were actually about to do the art institute for the 288343476th time. Luckily, my search recommended this gem, and suddenly there was a day I’ll never forget. In other words, DO THIS WHILE IT’S HERE!

 

 

 

 

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