Cuties: In the Name of Free Spirits

Miles Richardson- Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press

After receiving a hefty amount of blow-back from American audiences due to the salacious poster used to market the film Cuties, Netflix was accused of endorsing pedophilia.  Some felt this was unfair to the film.  According to Film Studies Professor James Balls, “Netflix’s poster to market the film undermined the films themes.”  Now, as a black Muslim man, I found this film to be incredibly troubling.  However, I do not agree that the purpose of this film was to encourage pedophilia. 

Cuties is a propaganda film made with an agenda that is based around the demonization of authority.

Despite the controversy around Cuties, many people championed this film, declaring it as “feminist”.  So, allow us to examine that claim.  According to Britannica, “Third wave feminism redefined women and girls as assertive, powerful, and in control of their own sexuality.”  Well, this statement certainly serves as the driving ideology of the movie, but let’s examine how this was applied to the film’s main character.

In the opening sequence of the film, we are introduced to Amy, an eleven year old girl with an unhappy mother who forces her to attend regular worship services.  We see Amy amongst a gathering of covered women, looking around sadly as her worship leader declares, “Where does evil dwell? In the bodies of uncovered women.  Therefore we must strive to preserve our decency and we must obey our husbands.”  This dialogue has been crafted to communicate to us the idea that Amy’s religion is oppressive.  In the very next scene, we are introduced to the girl who will later “free” Amy from these oppressive conditions: Angelica.  When Amy discovers that Angelica is in a member of a “free-spirited twerking dance crew”, she decides she wants in.  Surprisingly, Doucoure does not frame these girls as heroes.  For they are verbally abusive to her throughout the film and only praise her when she begins gaining them attention on social media with her sexually suggestive moves.  In reality, Doucoure cleverly made sure to display the negatives of both authority and sexual freedom, while airing on the side of sexual freedom. 

As Amy’s new dance career takes off, the Cuties face adversity from school officials as well as Amy’s mother.  In an early scene, the Cuties, dressed in tight mini-skirts and dresses, stage a demonstration in the school courtyard, the principal drags Angelica, the group’s leader, away, berating her about her choice of dress.  During this scene, the Cuties verbally object, shouting, “What about freedom of expression?”  This scenario is depicted on screen as if to say, “How dare these officials enforce such strict rules upon these children? They should be applauding them for boldly expressing their sexualities.”  Seeing these themes causes me to think, should there be no law and order in matters of sexual expression? Should we allow our children to dress and behave however they see fit? Is twerking a form of female empowerment? Maybe public nudity should be made legal. After all, isn’t it oppressive for the government to force women to cover their bodies?  I realize that defying societal norms has been a common theme in recent years, however, maybe that’s not such a good thing in this instance.  

This is something Amy ultimately comes to understand, when during a climactic scene, Amy breaks down crying while at a dance competition and runs off stage, realizing this is no longer who she wants to be. 

So, was Amy liberated by this exploration?  According to junior Journalism major Kayla Tinsley, “Those young girls were overly sexualized.”  In the opening of this film we are asked to believe Amy’s religion is oppressive.  I think it’s safe to say the model of “freedom” she was influenced to chase is far more oppressive.

In the end, we see Amy dressed in long sleeves and a pair of jeans like any other Western girl, jumping rope in the street, smiling.  No longer bound by the confines of religion, nor by societies overly-sexual nature.  She is finally free.  By ending this film on a positive note, Director Doucoure is making a clear statement: when authority is lost, self-discovery is found.

TikTok off the clock

Ryland Staples- Staff Writer

Associated Press, Photo by Anjum Naveed 

TikTok has been the polarizing social media app that has had everyone’s attention. Especially the United States government, which had given TikTok (a China based company) a deadline to either find a buyer for their U.S. based operations, or become banned in the U.S. Fortunately for TikTok, Oracle (a United States based tech company) and Walmart have partnered together to make, “TikTok Global” and in response President Trump has, “Given the deal my blessing.” Trump claims that because TikTok is a Chinese based company, they’re using the app to spy on and steal information from American citizens. When ironically, American social media companies and websites in general, already do that. 

Tik Tok is owned by a Chinese company based in Beijing called, ByteDance. Before there was TikTok, before there was, a lip-syncing app that was acquired in 2017. However, in 2018 all accounts were transferred over to TikTok. So at first, TikTok was used mostly for people who wanted to sing or lip-sync, but as it’s popularity grew and grew, more people started creating more unique content. Broader categories like make-up, cooking, advice, technology and overall internet memes were fair game for TikTok users.  As well as taking advantage of the internal video editor on the TikTok app, giving users the ability to use different kinds of transitions and ways to make their videos stand out.  

What makes TikTok different from other social media platforms is how one of a kind and simple their UI (user interface) is. When you open the app, there are two tabs at the top that say, “For You” and, “Following.” As you swipe through the For You tab, you’ll see different videos from different users on the app. As you like and follow different pages that peak your interest, those users that you follow all go under your following tab, allowing you to quickly go to them and see what they’ve posted. As you follow and like more people on the For you page, TikTok uses that information to show you more users like the ones that you already follow. It’s something that seems simple, but really helps when you’re trying to find something that you’re interested in. 

Sounds great right? Then why does it freak everyone out so much when they hear the name, TikTok. Well if you recall that app last summer that would scan your face and turn you into an old person using Russian made artificial intelligence? So the United States isn’t taking any changes with an app that is already so popular with younger Americans. 

The funny thing is that American companies already have trouble with how they manage users’ information. Users are lured in and make an account because  you don’t have to pay in order to use it. 

According to Amnesty International, “The tech giants offer these services to billions without charging users a fee. Instead, individuals pay for the services with their intimate personal data, being constantly tracked across the web and in the physical world as well, for example, through connected devices…This extraction and analysis of people’s personal data on such an unprecedented scale is incompatible with every element of the right to privacy, including the freedom from intrusion into our private lives, the right to control information about ourselves, and the right to a space in which we can freely express our identities.” 

So is it fair to subjugate TikTok to this kind of questioning when companies like Facebook and Google do the same thing, just because they’re a foriegn company? If anything I feel like TikTok has given a reason to look into how tech companies use the users’ information to their benefit. 

However, Senior, Journalism major Jamaija Rhoads knows that it’s unavoidable, “ I would be a fool if I thought they didn’t [use our information], I just feel like it’s a downside of having all this smart technology, but I’m not about to get rid of it so it is what it is, unfortunately.”

Too many romantic movies and not enough real-life romance

Jamaija Rhoades | Staff Writer


Photo Credit: Unsplash User Frank McKenna

As a hopeless romantic, I can easily admit that watching romance films and allowing myself to become encapsulated in love stories has heavily influenced my expectations and perceptions about falling in love. 

I just knew my foot would “pop” when I got my first kiss (The Princess Diaries) and that if I tragically lost my memory in a car crash, my future husband would do everything in his power to help me remember the love we once had (The Vow).

  Constantly viewing these images of men performing grand gestures to get the girl of their dreams created this expectation that if a guy was interested in me, he would go out of his way and manage to knock me off of my feet. Needless to say, this has never happened. At most, a guy has called me fine, asked for my number and that was that (not even slightly romantic). 

Romantic films tend to give off the idea that love at first sight exists and that true love can overcome all obstacles. I have found myself in situationships trying to fight through every obstacle thrown my way because I always thought if we liked each other, we would both be willing to fight through anything. 

I believed that distance could not hold us back, and as long as we communicated, we would be able to keep it pushing and eventually fall madly in love. I can only blame my warped mindset on the simple fact that my DVD collection is overflowing with romantic films.

Although these films are great, they unintentionally create unrealistic expectations for love and leave many of us disappointed and unsatisfied in relationships. 

“I’ve been obsessed with romantic movies for as long as I can remember,” said Kendra Phillips, a Hampton University health science major from Columbia, Maryland. “After watching these movies, I went into relationships having high standards because the idea of a perfect relationship was always depicted in these movies.

“Romantic movies do a good job of making relationships look easy, and most of the time, they have a happy ending. That’s not always realistic, in my opinion.” 

As whimsical and enchanting these love stories often are, we eventually realize that love is not as easy and magical as it appears to be on the big screen.

“Romantic movies have definitely impacted my expectations, in terms of staple romance movies where everything is idealistic,” said Kailah Lee, an HU journalism major from Richmond. “Over time, you learn the true grit of love and romance, and how complicated and messy it can get.” 

“I can’t speak on behalf of everyone because each person is going to have a different effect, plus romance movies are so much more enjoyable when there is a good outcome. But a lot of times, we think our stories are going to pan out like in the movies, and you just have to write your own book. It’s best to live and love organically.” 

Of course, I am not expecting anyone to stop watching romantic films. Instead, to save all of us from a little disappointment, we should tread lightly while watching these films. 

Love does exist, and romance is not dead, but we do not live in a world full of Noah Calhouns (The Notebook) and Darius Lovehalls (Love Jones). If we stop expecting every man we encounter to embody any of these characters, we would be a lot less disappointed when they do not live up to our expectations. 

Gayle King should not be your focus

Ryland Staples | Staff Writer

Media Gayle King

Photo Credit: Christopher Smith | Associated Press

Gayle King on Feb. 6 interviewed former WNBA star Lisa Leslie about the life and legacy of Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash alongside his daughter and friends a few weeks prior. The interview turned sour when King asked Leslie how she felt about Bryant’s 2003 sexual assault case in Colorado.

This specific question sparked major outrage toward King on social media. Celebrities and regular people alike attacked King for bringing up the sexual assault case. Most notably, Snoop Dogg made a lengthy post on Instagram condemning the journalist’s actions, claiming that both she and longtime friend Oprah Winfrey were trying to tear down iconic black men such as Michael Jackson, whose accuser had been interviewed by Winfrey last year. 

Snoop Dogg and others also accused King and Winfrey of attacking black men while remaining loyal to famous white men who were accused of abuse, such as Harvey Weinstein.

At the end of the post, Snoop Dogg made sure to include “Free Bill Cosby.”

R&B singer Ari Lennox went on a rant on her Instagram live, blaming King and Winfrey for “tearing down the legacies of beautiful black men.” 

There is a lot to unpack in this situation. First of all, I assure you that neither King nor Winfrey is out here unapologetically riding for Weinstein, on trial this week for multiple counts of sexual assault. People are just trying to blow things out of proportion because they see pictures of Winfrey and King with Weinstein.

Snoop Dogg was out of line for calling out King for bringing up a part of history that may not have put Bryant in the best light. I do understand that bringing up that event so soon after the superstar’s death may have been inappropriate. However, calling her all sorts of expletives, bringing Winfrey into the discourse, saying that they’re trying to bring down black men and accusing them of defending an alleged rapist is absurd.

The funny thing is, Snoop Dogg thought it was a good idea to throw in “free Bill Cosby” after one of his Instagram rants. Bill Cosby is a convicted felon and registered sex offender, currently serving time in prison. Putting your neck out for a convicted felon isn’t really the smartest defense. People can believe all they want that there is some secret organization of famous people that are trying to prevent successful black men from their potential ventures, but that still doesn’t change the fact that this man spent decades terrorizing and taking advantage of women. 

I understand that some think it was too early to talk about Bryant’s sexual assault charge, but you shouldn’t villainize journalists for bringing up a very important part of his life – for doing their jobs.

You also shouldn’t act like nothing happened in Colorado. Bryant apologized for his actions and settled a civil suit. Women already have to go through so much just to have trauma acknowledged. People shouldn’t belittle that experience even more by acting as though certain events didn’t take place.  

Beyoncé and Jay-Z can’t win

Lindsay Keener | Staff Writer

With more than 65,000 seats in the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami and thousands of standing football fans, it’s hard to believe that anyone would spot the two seats that are filled.

That is, of course, unless they’re filled by superstar phenomenon Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Shawn Carter, known by most as rap mogul Jay-Z.

The Super Bowl, otherwise known as the pinnacle of the pro football season, took place Feb. 2. In attendance was the music industry’s power couple, sitting during a highly praised performance of the national anthem by Demi Lovato. 

Given the Carters’ open support of various social justice movements, many took the pair’s choice to sit as a political statement. Last year, Jay-Z’s full-service entertainment company, Roc Nation, partnered with the National Football League, giving the rap star full creative control over the football league’s music events. Despite the initial belief that the high-profile couple was taking a stance, Jay-Z informed fans that the couple was simply admiring the performance. 

“What happened was not premeditated at all,” the rapper said. 

One Hampton student commented passionately about the rapper’s response to the backlash. 

“You can admire [the performance] standing up,” Tatyana Wilson said. “It looks like you’re protesting, and now you don’t want to be associated with it when you were in full support of men like [former NFL quarterback] Colin Kaepernick before. It’s strange.”

Dedicated to inclusion of all, the Super Bowl halftime show featured Latina stars Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, by way of Jay-Z and Roc Nation. 

“We were making a louder stance,” Jay-Z said the following week at a speaking engagement at Columbia University. “Given the context, I didn’t have to make a silent protest.” 

Some believe there is more to the story than Jay-Z is letting on.

“Honestly, I think Jay-Z is playing both sides of the fence, but not in a bad way,” Hampton University journalism student Lea Luellen said. “I think he has something cooking under wraps.”

Admittedly, when I first caught wind of the Carters sitting at the big game, I paid it little-to-no attention. Like many others, I believed the pair was exercising their right to silently protest, as they’d protested before.

To be told they were simply sitting didn’t quite impact me like it affected others. As far as I’m concerned, the couple is free to sit or stand whenever they feel free. They are also free to advocate for whatever social justice movements they’d like as they’ve done countless times for Kaepernick. 

HU senior Alexus Baldwin was indifferent to the moment at hand.

“People should mind their own business,” Baldwin said. “If they want to sit down, let them, and if they want to get up, cool.”

Celebrities are often held to an unattainable standard, expected to meet the needs of fans and nonadmirers alike. In the case of the Carters, any decision they made that Sunday would’ve resulted in the couple being met with sneers and unsolicited opinions.

Either way, they can’t win. 

Same script, different cast: How mainstream award shows continuously snub Black artists

Jordan Sheppard | Staff Writer

“For years we’ve allowed institutions that have never had our best interests to judge us, and that stops right now. I am officially starting a clock. Y’all got 365 days to get this together,” said Diddy as he accepted the Clive Davis Icon Award, at Clive Davis’ annual Pre-Grammy Gala. 

Outraged by the treatment of black artists by the award show, the three-time Grammy winner threatened to boycott if the Recording Academy doesn’t seek to make change within the next year.

Coming just days after the Recording Academy’s former CEO and President, Deborah Dugan, had alleged that the Grammys’ nomination system is rigged, the award show has begun to take a lot of heat. 

Tyler, the Creator, who took home the trophy for Best Rap Album for his LP Igor, also had a few words on the treatment of black artists. 

In a backstage interview, Tyler stated that while he was grateful for the award, he does not appreciate how the Grammys always place black artists in “rap or urban categories” no matter how “genre-bending” their records are.

For decades, the Grammys have placed black artists within the R&B and rap categories and rarely give them the chance to take home any of the four major categories: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist.

It appears that no matter how many times black artists try to expand and step outside the box, the Grammys will continue to keep them within that box, refusing to see them as anything else other than R&B and rap. 

However, the problem isn’t the Grammys alone; it is almost every major award show. The Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes also have had histories of snubbing black talent. 

This year, the same conversation is being had with the Oscars on their lack of diversity.

Cynthia Erivo, nominated for Best Actress for her role as Harriet Tubman, is the only black actor or actress to be nominated for an acting role.

At the Golden Globe Awards, Eddie Murphy, Erivo and Billy Porter were the only black actors nominated, and none walked away with a trophy.

Every time award season comes around, the same conversation is had.

Before the nominations, it’s always the suspense of who is going to get nominated. Then once the nominations come out, reality sets in again when you don’t see the presence of many faces of color. 

While these awards shows have prestige and look great on a resume, they are gauges for success. So why must we look to these awards to seek validation?

Nina Simone, Nas, Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson are just a few of the many who have received the nominations but never the Oscar, Emmy or Grammy. But they are legends whose legacy have carried on and will continue to carry on for decades to come.

Not saying that you can’t have the dream of winning an Emmy or Grammy, but understand that it does not take away from any accomplishments if you don’t have one.

Then there’s the conversation on creating black award shows.

They already exist.

The Soul Train Music Awards, NAACP Image Awards and BET Awards were created to help celebrate black excellence, but now the support for them is lacking from the community to which they were trying to help.

We need to step back from these mainstream award shows and start supporting the ones that are there to see us win. 

What you should learn from the death of Kobe Bryant

Miles Richardson | Staff Writer

Sunday, Jan. 26, a tragedy took place. Legendary NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna lost their lives to a helicopter crash. There were, unfortunately, seven other victims: Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna’s teammate; and her parents, John and Keri Altobelli; Payton and Sarah Chester; and pilot Ara Zobayan. 

When TMZ dropped the news, a lot of us were filled with feelings of denial and devastation. It felt unreal to hear that Kobe Bean Bryant, our hero, the mogul, was gone forever, and there’s a reason for that. Most of us are aware that people die every single day, and yet we normally don’t think twice about it.  

Every day, stories of death are aired on the news, and while we give these stories a moment of sympathy, we typically have no problem continuing on with our normal daily routine. After all, we understand that death is a natural occurrence. That’s the sad reality about life; it isn’t guaranteed to anyone. 

At any moment, any of us could drop dead. In most cases, the cold, hard truth is that it just wouldn’t change much. Of course, all life matters, and most people wouldn’t blatantly say that they don’t care when they hear a story of someone passing in the news.  

However, I would like to challenge all of you to really think about the last time you heard about the death of a person, not a famous person, but just a regular, unknown, everyday person. 

You probably took a moment to say, “Wow, I feel sorry for their family,” but odds are that was all the attention that story got out of you: one moment. Once it was over, you turned off the TV, made a sandwich and went on about your day. 

This, however, wasn’t anything like those times; this was Kobe Bryant. Once the news was released, I watched with my own eyes other people break down into tears, stay inside all day, cancel all their plans and lie helplessly in bed. This wasn’t just because Kobe was famous. 

There are plenty of famous people that wouldn’t receive the same reaction Kobe did were they to die tomorrow. There is a reason why Kobe Bryant’s death affected so many people around the world. It’s because he did what very few people on this earth ever do; he found a way to serve the masses.  

Kobe Bryant wasn’t just a superstar basketball player, he was a humanitarian.  

Hampton University freshman broadcast journalism major Diego Medina had this to say about Bryant’s death: “I was never a big basketball fan, but I have to acknowledge his greatness. A lot of people looked up to him. He inspired many people and impacted many lives.” 

Basketball was just the means Kobe used to inspire people. Every time Kobe stepped onto the basketball court, he lit a fire under every human soul that watched him play. Not only was he about winning, but he was also about being the absolute best he could be. He never made excuses or accepted any of life’s limitations, and through his performance, Kobe managed to uplift millions of people.  

According to HU freshman business management major Jackson Jefferson: “He was just so inspirational to me and all my other friends. He’s the reason I started playing basketball. He had such a huge impact on the game and other sports, too. That ‘Mamba mentality’ is what motivates so many boys to get out of the hood.”  

He instilled in others the importance of having the “Mamba mentality” and made it clear that this wasn’t reserved for just athletes, but for any human being on God’s green earth who had a dream, anybody who aspired to achieve something great. Kobe served as a source of motivation for anyone who was an underdog in life.  

Whether you were a kid from the inner city, a war veteran with an amputated limb or a miserable person working a job you hated, Kobe made you believe that there was a better life for you. He made you believe that you could be more, do more and have more. Once that source of motivation was gone, many of us missed it. I’m sure many people didn’t have the energy to go into work following the day of Bryant’s death. Many people probably felt some sort of emptiness following the confirmation of his death despite not knowing him personally. That’s just how big of an impact Kobe Bryant had on people, and he’s been mourned by the whole world for days because of it.

So I’d advise anyone reading this to take a step back and think, if you were to die right now, how long would you be mourned?

The death of a celebrity: What does it mean for us?

Ryland Staples | Staff Writer

YG, John Legend, Kirk Franklin, DJ Khaled, Meek Mill

Photo Credit: Associated Press | Matt Sayles

Sept. 7, 2018, I was sitting at the front desk of Wilder Hall scrolling on Twitter, taking a break from doing my homework. It was a Friday afternoon, and I was relieved to be done for the week and offered to work an extra shift at the front desk.

As I was scrolling on my phone, I came across something that completely shocked me: TMZ had reported that Mac Miller had died of a drug overdose. 

I was in denial and convinced myself that the story was fake, but as I scrolled further down my timeline, I saw multiple sources confirming what I feared: the well-known rapper had died. 

I remember saying out loud, “Mac Miller died?” It was like a punch to the gut. Even though I hadn’t been a hardcore fan, I enjoyed his music. Miller had just dropped Swimming the month before and was set to go on tour. His passing really shocked people, and the cause being a drug overdose only made it more horrific. 

Mar. 31, 2019, I was doing laundry at a friend’s house when I found out via Twitter that rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed outside of the store that he owned in L.A. Again, I wasn’t a hardcore fan, but he made good music and had a significant influence in his neighborhood. Hussle had opened his own store that employed local people and crafted programs that fought poverty in his neighborhood. He was able to create change in his community through real action.

Then Jan. 26, 2020, I was in the library, prepared to work, when my brother texted me asking if I had heard the news. I replied no and went to Twitter once again, where everyone was expressing their devastation over the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant. I didn’t know how to react. 

Bryant had long ago reached the level of fame where people recognized who you were talking about when you said “Kobe.” He was gone just like that. When the news confirmed that his daughter Gianna had been on the helicopter with him, it had only doubled the pain. 

An interview that resurfaced that day showed Bryant explaining that he started chartering helicopters because he wanted to be able to spend as much time with his family as possible. The infamous traffic in L.A. hindered him, and he realized that helicopters would save time. 

Bryant, his daughter and seven other victims, including the pilot, were on their way to a game when the helicopter crashed. 

I found out about all of these deaths via Twitter. Due to the prevalence of social media, people expect news to be delivered to the general public as quickly and efficiently as possible. This can be great, at times, but other times, can feel like a curse. When news outlets are competing with each other to be the first to break a story, the details can be muddled or, even worse, flat out wrong. 

I was 10 when Michel Jackson died, so I can’t say that I have the best memory of it. I asked my mother about it, and she said her sister had called her and then her co-worker and then other friends saying the same thing: Michel Jackson had died. It was literally a game of telephone.

It’s easy to see the impact of celebrity death on people. In some ways, it’s positive. After Mac Miller died, a lot of rappers proclaimed that they were “off lean” and throwing out other dangerous, hard drugs. After Nipsey Hussle’s death, other celebrities started pouring into his community. Now with Kobe, his famous “Mamba Mentality” has transcended the basketball court. It means the ability to take chances and do everything in life with 100 percent effort.

These celebrities die, but what they stood for, what they put out in the world, lives on forever. 

Ricky Gervais calls out Hollywood stars at Golden Globes

Jordan Sheppard|Staff Writer

The 77th annual Golden Globe Awards were Jan. 5, and the biggest highlight of the night came from the opening monologue of the award ceremony’s host, comedian Ricky Gervais.

In an eight-minute, witty, cutting speech, the three-time Golden Globe recipient and five-time host of the gilded event took the stage to dismantle the hypocritical nature in Hollywood.

Gervais created jokes that took shots at a range of topics and people, including the college admissions scandal involving Golden Globes winner Felicity Huffman, disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the lack of diversity in the nominees.

However, the most notable part of Gervais’ speech came when he set his own rules for what the winners should do during their acceptance speeches.

“If you do win an award tonight, don't use it as a platform to make a political speech,” Gervais said. “You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.”

Many of the winners of the night disregarded Gervais and went on to make political statements in their speeches.

Actors Joaquin Phoenix, Patricia Arquette and Russell Crowe, who sent in his speech, all addressed the wildfires in Australia and climate change.

Arquette, who won for her role in “The Act,” along with addressing the wildfires in Australia, also attacked Trump in his decision to kill an Iranian general.

After the award show, critics began to slam Gervais’s performance.

Pose actor Billy Porter, in an interview with TMZ, said: “That’s what we’re supposed to do. We are artists, and we have a say, too,” disagreeing with Gervais’ statement of celebrities needing to stay quiet.

Rolling Stone journalist Rob Sheffield simply called Gervais’ speech “incredibly stale.”

The issue with celebrities using their platform to make political statements at award shows is not the statement itself but rather who the person is making the statement.


There are many cases in which celebrities make political statements and rarely follow up. They do not really care about the issue; they just want it to appear as if they do.

There are also instances in which actors contradict themselves as Gervais stated later in his speech.

“Well, you say you’re woke, but the companies you work for in China unbelievable. Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service, you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you?” Gervais said.

How could you stand up for the rights of someone or for a certain cause, when the people you work for are also committing heinous acts?

Gervais also joked that many people in attendance were friends with Epstein, but want to pretend that they are “woke” people.

Many in Hollywood tend to hide in their truth, and when people such as Gervais bring that truth to light, many eyes begin to roll, and many become upset.

They also feel that since they have a certain amount of fame, they forget at times they are human and what affects the average, everyday person, affects them as well.

Celebrities should not stop addressing issues because the platform they stand on is bigger than most and could help push certain issues out into the forefront.

The solution is simple. Instead of always just speaking on an issue, do something about it.


Why This Is Us is the best thing on TV right now

Jamaija Rhoades| Staff Writer

Photo Credit: Unsplash photo by Diego González

In the era of “I’m good love, enjoy” and “delete that paragraph and just say OK,” a visual of individuals being given the space to be vulnerable and to simply breathe is necessary. No other show currently on television beautifully displays vulnerability and how difficult life can be like This Is Us.

NBC’s This Is Us follows the life of the “Big Three,” Randall, Kate and Kevin, who are triplets and have had their fair share of problems and continue to face new hardships daily. This show highlights the struggles and experiences many of us can relate to, including sexuality, body image, addiction, grief, failure, race and abandonment.

“This Is Us is a show that anyone can relate to,” said Bria Hicks, a senior psychology major from Ashburn, Va. “It shows the perspectives of many different characters throughout their lives and allows for viewers to become a part of such a vulnerable love story of a family.”


Aside from the relatability of this show, the constant display of emotion and the reminder that we are not always OK is refreshing. Oftentimes, society makes us feel as if we grew up in a loving home, we should not have any problems or that the obstacles you are facing are not that serious. This Is Us serves as a vivid reminder that your parents could have created the most loving household known to mankind, but that does not exempt you from facing problems (big or small) and the effects of not giving yourself the space to feel.

One of the aspects that sets this show apart from everything else on television right now is how it highlights how the smallest thing from someone’s childhood can affect them in their adulthood. Every episode alternates between the past and the present to explain what led each character down a specific path and what causes them to act the way that they do.

“This Is Us shares the perspective of every character within the show, and I like that,” said Simone Williams, a senior Communicative Sciences & Disorders major from Newport News. “They give us the different moments in time but not all at once. To me, that mirrors the reality of a lesson we learn in life: The truth of what happened or what’s happening is often revealed over time, not all at once. I don’t think that’s happening in many shows, at least not the ones I’ve seen.”


The best way I can describe This Is Us is “simply human.” It organically tells the story of the one experience we can all relate to, trying to successfully navigate and win at the game that is life. Although at many times, each character may seem to be taking more losses than they would like, they eventually get that dirt off their shoulders and they nd a way to get back up.

This Is Us is all of our stories wrapped into one, with the ability to remind its viewers that we are all struggling, and being compassionate and understanding to one another would make this bumpy road a little easier to drive.