Stand By Me & Other Coming of Age Tales

stand-by-me-movie-poster-1986-1010272698While it’s a common trope, the coming of age tale is one that – when done well – will change the lives of any young kid who watches them. For me, that life-altering experience belonged to The Goonies. I will never forget the first time I watched that film, and the immense, unstoppable force of the imagination when the kids finally found the pirate ship. It was a satisfactory ending to a story that ignited a passion for adventure. The Goonies, in all its 1985 glory, was the story that would stay with me throughout the years. Even now, almost 20 years old and slightly decayed by cynicism and a sensationalist media, I marvel at the stories I read of other people still finding treasure – still out exploring the world, and living the life I had dreamed for myself at a young age.

Stand By Me was not this kind of movie for me. I remember watching it as a little girl and not fully realizing the importance of it. I didn’t much care for the boys cursing needlessly or smoking cigarettes. That wasn’t my life, and I couldn’t relate. However, on a whim, I saw it on Netflix and decided to give it another try. This time, I felt nostalgic for years gone by. I watched the boys go on an adventure my friends and I would only pretend as we trounced in the back yard. I watched this extraordinary event in their life unfold, and meanwhile watched them unravel themselves in a completely honest fashion. It was beautiful, seeing such raw emotion in young boys who are so often taught that their emotions shouldn’t exist. They were uniquely unaffected by society in this bizarre strand of reality that hung just outside of view. I was captured particularly by the character Chris Chambers. Pinned by the world around him as a problem child, the entirety of the movie focused so heavily on the unwavering support that he gave to the main protagonist, Gordie, and his other friends. The movie shows both of the boys opening up about their very real sense of self and how it was scarred by the adults around them. The boys are unapologetically there for each other, and never once make the other feel bad for having these very real emotions. In a particularly emotionally-jarring scene towards the end, Gordie cries about how he should have died rather than his brother. He exclaims that his dad doesn’t love him and that he wasn’t good enough. Chris simply hugs him, and tells him not to say those things. He lets him cry, and he offers a shoulder. It was strange to watch, simply because it seems so unusual that male characters support each other so completely. However, the moment had the intended effect. Gordie’s pain was unfiltered, and it left me in tears of my own.

There are a lot of really good, light-hearted coming of age tales, particularly that spawned in that time frame. Only a few years later, The Sandlot would become the voice of a generation born in the early 90s. However, while all have a nostalgic element that will never quite go away, I feel like Stand By Me is a special film in this genre because it reinforces an important idea: boys can, do, and should always be able to show their emotions. They should be able to cry without fear of judgment. They should be able to feel their emotions to the fullest extent and not be made to feel guilty for it.

Coming of age tales are important to the developing mind. They are full of life lessons, packed into a two-hour tale that is relatable but always has some enchanting premise to hold your attention; the boys off to find a dead body, the kids escaping from criminals while searching for lost treasure, and the game of baseball that awoke the mythical beast. These stories do as much for our imaginations as they do for our souls. Stand By Me is an honest reflection of what boyhood is like, and it is one that tells boys that they shouldn’t be afraid to feel things. In this world, that is one of the most important lessons we can teach the boys of this generation.

While I can’t claim Stand By Me as one of those childhood films that changed my life, and while I will never feel that too-familiar pull towards those movies that once had us drawing up treasure maps in the backyard, I can say with certainty that this film is one I will show my children. And I hope that when they see it, they will realize that they too can experience the world honestly and with a sense of hope.

Music Review: Currents

CurrentsArtist: Tame Impala
Album: Currents
Released: July 17, 2015
Genre: Psychedelic rock
Rating: 5/5
Favorite Song: Eventually

Tame Impala’s new album Currents was one of my personal Most Anticipated Albums of the Year. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away – I’m a fan of Tame Impala, and I’m familiar with their signature sound. However, as the album took my hand and led me away, I fell deeper and deeper into that type of coma only induced by rock-your-socks-off music. Currents is the musical equivalent of that film which succeeds at the indie film festivals and then blows up later when the rest of the general public catches on. It is textbook hipster, but in the best possible way. Read More

OpEd: Bernie Sanders and His Rise to Millennial Stardom

Bernie Sanders has officially started his campaign to take over the world.

My Facebook friends list may be what you consider homogeneous – it consists mostly of my college friends, who all go to a small liberal arts school just outside of Philadelphia. The majority of us are pretty liberal, we are pretty involved, and we consistently have opinions about everything.

The recent midterm elections left my friends and another large portion of this country in utter disgust. We watched with horror as certifiable “nut jobs” as my grandfather would call them, took leadership positions on committees they had no business leading (Read: Jim Inhofe to Lead the Environment and Public Works Committee). And – there’s no good way to sugar coat things – we were enraged.

It was our own fault. We were in a rut – we felt that even though major changes should have occurred, things still felt kind of like they did when Bush Jr. was in office. We lost the will to fight, and we handed the midterms to the Republican Party on a golden platter fit for Wall Street.

I remember my friends taking to social media to vent their frustrations. Hank Green used his YouTube channel to beg young people to vote. The entire Internet – at least, the parts of it that are dominated by younger adults or the left-leaning – exploded.

This huge social media storm is the momentum that Bernie Sanders channeled as he took to the stage with promises of absolute truth and anti-capitalism. And boy, did the millennials hear him. We sang his praises as Sanders championed the rejection of Super PACs. We fell to his feet as he advocated for raising minimum wage, and had a voting record to match. And just as quickly as the media laughed away his candidacy, delegitimizing his campaign as “too fringe”, the young voters revolted in an unprecedented rise of political activism in a sphere that the generations before ours claimed was apathy.

Bernie Sanders, for all of his weird quirks, has captured the hearts of millennial voters – but why? So many are rightfully baffled by his success, especially considering Clinton is the frontrunner. Support for her was predicted to be unwavering. Yet Sanders has managed to gain on her significantly in a lot of key states.

The answer may be much simpler than people want to believe. Here are a few reasons I believe Sanders has gained so much credibility with my generation:

  • Bernie Sanders is unapologetically real.

People are sick of politicians who can’t put their vote where their mouth is. We don’t want another puppet whose strings are pulled by those with the most money in their wallet. We don’t believe that either party has a particularly good track record right now. We don’t trust Clinton to say no to Wall Street when it matters most. Bernie Sanders took a huge step in creating trust by refusing Super PACs. This sent a loud, clear message to both Wall Street and the American voters: Bernie Sanders can’t be bought.

Bernie Sanders Black and White

  • Bernie Sanders has an amazing marketing strategy.

Bernie Sanders understands something that seems to evade most politicians: the way to reach millennials is to play their game. Clinton is manufacturing her success by planting her supporters in “outreach” efforts. Sanders is going on talk show after talk show, giving his two cents to people our generation really connect with. When other politicians are spending their money starting smear campaigns, Sanders is careful not to bash Clinton. And recent videos in support of Sanders have all the markings of youth-aimed and viral capabilities:

  • Bernie doesn’t back down from a fight.

I’ve always thought that watching debates is useless. It’s generally a bunch of politicians making grand claims that will never be fulfilled, and dodging the important questions that are thrown their way with misdirection, under-researched generalizations, and outright lies. Not only does Bernie show up prepared to fight, but he doesn’t back down when things get tough. He manages to be respectful to his opponents while also demanding that his voice is heard. To me, that sounds like someone who would make an effective president.

Sanders is succeeding with young voters because he represents the things we want to believe about our system. He represents a belief that our vote matters. He represents a belief that we still have control in a government that has fallen under the power of The Megacorporation. He represents an America that is by the people, for the people. This is a cause that millennials will get behind. We have the audacity to believe that Bernie Sanders can win this election, and we’re willing to work to prove it.

To support Bernie Sanders, please consider making a small donation to his campaign here. #feelthebern

Movie Review: Jurassic World


Genre: Action/Adventure
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Jurassic World is the long-awaited fourth installment in the Jurassic Park franchise, based off of Michael Crichton’s books. The movies are modern classics, if only just because of the imaginative storyline they follow. Plus, who can really turn down any movie with a snarky Jeff Goldblum in it? The first movie came out in 1993, and two more would come out before the franchise seemingly ended in 2001. Now, Jurassic World is proving that people still love the films, because they are coming in droves to see the newest addition. Since its official release on Friday, Jurassic World has broken records in the box office, becoming the highest-grossing film on opening weekend in domestic history, and the first film ever to break $500 million worldwide. It’s safe to say that people are still excited about the idea of bringing dinosaurs back, and I must say that I agree, and Jurassic World delivers.

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Revenge of the Nerds 2D: Digusting and Deplorable

Trigger Warning: Discussion of rape/sexual harassment/bullying

Revenge of the Nerds is a classic (1984) which boasts an impressive 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. I am a self-proclaimed film buff and a firm believer in the scores on Rotten Tomatoes, so I decided to finally sit down and watch this film.

Boy was I disappointed.

Let’s start with the positives: Revenge of the Nerds, for its time period, was a nice message – don’t bully the guys who will most likely be running the world after college. Let’s suspend disbelief that the stereotypes actually work that way and that it’s as clear cut as “nerd” vs. “jock”, and you have a pretty great anti-bullying message. The jocks were definitely bad guys. They portray frat mentality in the ways we all know too well; obsession with alcohol and sports, poor treatment of women, etc. At one point, Betty – the overtly sexualized female lead – tells her boyfriend that she wants to have sex with him, and he responds by calling her a goat.

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Concert Review: Froot

“One, two, three, four, five, six?”

The sound check was greeted by a roaring cheer. Young women in white crop tops and doc Martens grabbed their phones and shuffled to find a spot where they could snap a shot of tumblr’s patron saint. The crowd, almost exclusively aged 15-20 and about 80% women, buzzed with excitement.

“Ten more minutes”

“At least…maybe fifteen?”

“Do you think there’s time to get a drink?”

Judging from the college t-shirts, many had probably come from far away like we did, spending a long day driving to Pittsburgh, finding a place to park, finding a place to eat, walking to the venue, standing in line, and fidgeting through a bit of a lackluster opening act. We were ready for Marina.

We waited for what felt like hours afterwards, and the speculation turned to which songs she might play. I wasn’t sure what to expect. For me, listening to an album like Froot is a little like those dreams you’d have as a kid after watching the Neverending Story and eating too much ice cream. It’s fun and dramatic, filled with intense emotions that you don’t quite understand, and leaves you with a weird mixture of sadness and relief when you wake up. I like her music a lot, but I’ve always felt more like I’m listening to her stories from the outside, rather than connecting with them on a personal level. I wondered if after tonight I would feel differently.

All at once the curtains opened and the crowd rushed to the front, hoping to score a place with a better view and louder bass. Marina jumped out on stage in a flowing pink cape and a sparkly cherry on top of her head, and from that moment on it was pure fun. You could tell she was having a great time, and there was an awesome synergy between her and the crowd. She played songs from all three of her albums and even debuted one for us. My favorite moment came about halfway through: she cued my favorite song, “Lies” from Electra Heart, and everything quieted and focused on her voice for a moment. Then the bass sounded so loud that I felt like it would supersede my heartbeat. For the duration of that song, I felt like I got what she was trying to say.

In an interview with Rookie magazine, Marina says, “I’m not a musician who necessarily gets super excited to play a beautiful piano or a beautiful trombone… I’m more geared towards melody, the timbre or tone of a voice, and the lyrics are the number one thing.” I think that comes through in her music, and it’s one reason why so many people adore her.

So while I don’t know that I’ll ever consider Marina’s songs anthems of my life, I’ve been finding myself flipping to Froot more than any other album these past few days. So who knows? I might be a Marina mega fan in the making. Regardless, I had a great time seeing her on stage, and I would recommend you see one of her shows in the US this fall.

Music Review: Blurryface

Artist: Twenty One Pilots
Album: Blurryface
Released: May 17, 2015
Genre: Indie pop / Alternative hip hop
Rating: 4/5
Favorite Song: Hometown

What would you say if I told you I wanted to combine alternative rock, ukulele, and rap with subtle undertones of reggae and ska? Allow me to introduce you to a band that does this much better than I could ever hope to: Twenty One Pilots. The group hails from Columbus, Ohio, and blends all your favorite styles in ways you never dreamed could actually work.  I might liken them to Beck, with wild creativity and a strict policy of not adhering to any genre norms, yet still managing to feel relevant and with obvious unparalleled talent. And as if that isn’t enough to intrigue you, their lyrics are creative and clever, often offering a complex introspective philosophy.

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Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 2

Genre: Comedy
Rating: 5/5

I always love a comedy that makes you say “that’s too real”. Pitch Perfect was fun – it had good laughs, lovable characters, and it brought to light one of the most under-appreciated forms of music ever. Pitch Perfect 2 delivers with unexpected novelty, and with even bolder jokes.

“You do realize this sets women back about 30 years.”

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