Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Reboot Epidemic and the Rise of Independently Made Films

By Moriah Gallagher

Over the past few years we have seen unoriginal work after unoriginal work coming out of the Hollywood film industry. While every pretentious film buff and movie lover has been suffering in wasteland yearning for a creativity and authenticity, the vast majority of viewers seem to be enthusiastic about reboots. Basically, every successful television or film franchise from 1980 to 1999 is seeing itself rebooted for viewers in the year 2015. Films like Jurassic Park and Star Wars are again breaking the box office just like they did thirty years before. Wildly successful television shows such as Twin Peaks, The X Files, and Full House are also being robooted. So why is this happening? Has Hollywood finally ran out of ideas and creativity or is what we are seeing the result of a desire to make more money? After all, these films and television shows made people tons of money before, why cant they do it again? 

According to the data blog The Droid You Are Looking For, there have been 122 remakes from the years 2003-2012 and these remakes have made nearly 12 billion dollars at the box offices. With profit like that why wouldn't Hollywood take advantage of a reboot? The reason reboots are so immensely successful is because most of these films and TV shows already have a steady fan base so all the hard work is done for them. Take Star Wars for instance, everyone loves Star Wars and if you are a Star Wars fan you are a Star Wars fan for life. Even Warner Brothers Pictures’  The Clone Wars, widely regarded as a sub-par film, with an 18% score on Rotten Tomatoes, still managed to capture peoples attention, not only from children but also from adults. With a reboot, Hollywood can make a mediocre version of a once successful movie because they don't have to put forth effort and take the risk of creating new and original ideas. They simply can take some else’s idea without the risk of not making profit.

Partly, the resurgence of these TV shows and movies can be owned to the popularity in nostalgia for the 80s and the 90s. Everywhere you go on the internet there is some twenty something talking about how great the nineties were and even though they may have only been a toddler during the time, they maintain that this was a renaissance era. These are the people who are emerging into the workforce and there fondness for the media of that time is showing in their work; in the fact that it isn't their work at all, but the work of someone twenty years before. Of course the big executives see this and they want in too. Everyone makes money, everyone is happy. 

Reboots on the occasion are appreciated but the mass influx we are seeing of these ideas may be wearing out its welcome. Many hardcore film fans are extremely frustrated by what they are seeing as exploitation of pervious works. From the decrease in the originality amongst Hollywood’s movies we are also seeing a rise in independent made films or “indie films.” Hollywood is becoming less and less likely to make films which do not guarantee mass success, they’d rather make a multimillion dollar remake because its safe.

Instead of writers and directors taking their ideas to major production companies they are making it on their own. More and more we are seeing the popularity of independently made movies increase because the Independent directors and producers are willing to take creative risks (which nowadays consists of not stealing someone else's storyline). They do not make movies so much for the profit as they do for the plain and simple sake of making a quality film. Films such as 12 Years a Slave, which was originally rejected by Paramount Pictures made nearly 38 million in the box offices and won best picture at the 86th Academy Awards.  

The creative spirit of mainstream Hollywood may be lost but we are seeing something rise up and take its place. Independently made films are become the leading creative force in the film industry. As long as there is an easy way to make money we will see these major production companies continue with the incestuous use of previously made material. The danger of these major production companies decisions lies in the fact they underestimate the public in thinking that they can continue to reuse material and satisfy the viewers. When viewers desire original ideas this will lead to economic hardship and ultimately to the demise of mainstream Hollywood.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Desensitization in America 

By Moriah Gallagher 

First off, let me start this by saying this article has absolutely nothing to do with gun control or the protection of your right to own guns. This article has everything to do with the explosion of violence we are seeing amongst Americans. Why is this happening? Banning guns won’t stop someone from doing violent acts, but neither will having someone there with a gun to stop the perpetrator. What both sides can agree on is that here in The United States of America we have a serious problem.

 According to there have been 316 mass shootings within the US in 2015 so far. Thats almost enough mass shooting to cover every day of the year and while murder has significantly declined than it has twenty years ago, the kinds of murder we are seeing is changing. Mass shooting are on the rise and individual murders are not. What is making serial killers more common? 

America is desensitized. Everywhere you look there is some sort of violence in media. Some of the most popular shows today rely heavily on violence. Shows like Game of Thrones have extremely graphic depiction of murder and rape and The Walking Dead consists of nothing but watching walkers get their heads blown open. While most of us maintain that we can watch these shows because its fictitious we cannot deny that it is having psychological effects. Things that would make previous generations sick to their stomach, Americans are now watching on a Sunday night in with the family. 

I watched these shows myself. They have a good plot and they're interesting but I cant ignore that the psychological effects are not good. I first noticed the effects on myself when I was on my way home from work. A man was dead in his car and the police officers were waiting to have him picked up. What shocked me the most wasn't the dead man in the car, it was the fact that the sight of a dead man didn't alarm me. Why? Because I had spent hours watching these shows where death is a heavy presence. While I felt sad that the man was dead, it didn't unnerve me.

These violent games, movies, and television shows are not being consumed in moderation. It is being bombarded on the public. The media has infiltrated our lives in a way never seen before therefore, it’s effects on us are different. Most people watch between three and four hours of TV a day, let alone the time they spend on the internet. What I am encouraging everyone to do is to unplug themselves, unplug their kids, and to personally take responsibility for what you and your household are watching because the effects of becoming desensitized are far reaching. Monkey see, monkey do.


Your iPhone Is Ruining Your Posture — and Your Mood

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Portrait of a Human Being 

By Moriah Gallagher 

I stare at the rotating circle on Skype waiting for my call to go through. When Randall Watson finally does pick up I don't see a threatening Marine I see a girl wrapped in a blanket in what looks more like a college dorm than a military barracks. Her walls a littered with posters of bands and the singing of her roommate can be heard in the background. Randall, a 21 year old from New York, has been in the marines for nearly two years, in which time she has gone through more than the average twenty something does in a decade, from joining the marines, to moving to a different country, and dealing with personal lose. Randall has agreed to share some of her wisdom she has acquired in the past few years. 

M: Who is the most important person in your life?

R: Sargent Mccafy is a sergeant in my platoon, he’s actually my sergeant right now, and uhh when I was in a really, really, tough spot in my life he was the only one who, uhh, was there for me when my significant other wasn’t. He was there quite a bit. So I really appreciate him. He was the nicest person thats ever…he's the person who has treated me the nicest in my entire life I wanna say. He's never mad at me for anything, he's always a really good listener, he always talks to me and never treats me any different and I really appreciate that.  

M: Whats the happiest and saddest moments in your life?

R: The happiest moment in my life…thats a really hard one. It’s always really hard to remember the happiest things in your life. I can tell you about the sad one but… It’s easy, right when you said that. Of course I know what the saddest one is. The saddest one is when I lost my fiancĂ©. That was extremely devastating for me. The happiest part of my life is when me and my significant other went to the hilton off base outside in A-vil. It was just built this past summer. Its brand new and everything was gorgeous. We had an amazing time. It was only three nights and four days but we went to the pool every day. I remember jumping over the fence to the pool to go to the beach because the beach was right on the other side, and he was hesitant to follow me. I just thought it was kinda funny and kinda cute because I guess I’m kinda like the wild rambunctious one, i’m not afraid to anything, i’m jumping over fences. (laughs) And it was funny just to see him on the other side like “what are you doing?” (laughs) Umm, also, it was pretty funny that at the end when we got our bill it came out to a little over $2,000.  And me and him just looked at each other like “how did we let this happen?” We didn't think it was gonna be this much. We had mistaken what the retail owner, the person behind the desk, had said. We had thought it was gonna be $600 dollars the entire weekend and it ended up being $600 dollars a night! (laughs) And including food and whenever we had to get the towels washed and so everything added up. It was really nice because we didn't get mad at each other. It was like “ya know that was deffo worth it.” That was the most relaxing, most fun weekend we ever had. It was deffo worth it. So, it meant a lot to me. 

M: Who has influenced you the most? 

R: I wanna say the battalion as a whole. The battalion consist of 500 marines and I wanna put them all together and not single them out because I have seen every one of them work, except for the new ones I haven't known them yet, but you learn a lot about people when you enlist.  You meet people from different parts of the country and everyone has a little bit of something to give to you. Everyone is different, everyone has different characteristics. They definitely influenced me a lot. 

M: What is the most important lesson learned in your life?

R: The most important lessons I’ve learned in my life?…I think one of them is to be happy no matter what the cost is, find you happiness, because if you putting all you eggs in one basket, in one person, they’re going to disappoint you. So don't try to find your meaning of living in another human being. Put it into yourself. Find things that you like to do, find things that make you happy, and keep going with it even if it kills you. 

M: Are there any funny stories you remember from your childhood?

R: When I was a little girl I told my mother I was going to go up this hill with a friend just for a walk. Well, I ended up taking a huge adventure over the river right in front of our house and up a huge hill and into the woods. I went to this lady’s house. We called her the Shewolf. And I was gone for hours and I came back and the cops were in the front yard waiting for me to return. Everyone was freaking out, didn't know where I was. I think that’s funny. We all laugh about that now. I’m always running off doing something crazy and stupid. 

M: What are you most proud of?

R: Having the courage to do what I want to do instead of doing what my family want me to do, so breaking the mold. I’m defiantly proud of breaking the mold and being headstrong and just doing what I wanna do and letting no else influence me. I have to find out the hard way, ya know? At least now I know on my own and not from someone else mouth, and I know I don’t like it. 

M: If you could only hold on to one memory what would it be? 

R: Flying. I love to fly. I used to fly 152 cessnas and 172 cessnas. The feeling of being above everything even the world makes you feel like your free and I love that feeling, not being bound to anything, It’s a good feeling. 

M: How is your life different from what you imagined?

R: Well I defiantly thought I’d like The United States Marine Corps. I thought I’d make this a career. I defiantly thought I was going to fight some wars but thats not how it is in garrison. In garrison you get played with, you get fuck-fuck games, you get toyed with, you get treated like shit. You’re nobody here. It’s very demeaning. I defiantly didn't think that was how it was gonna pan out. I thought I was gonna become that magical war hero that everyone thinks they're gonna become when they enlist. It’s not how it works. 

M: Do you have any regrets? 

R: Yes, I have plenty regrets, lots and lots and lots of them. I make mistakes everyday and I wish I could say i’ve learned from all of them but I have a feeling that even if I make it to eighty i’ll still  be making mistakes. I’ll still regret them. You just gotta live with it I guess. 

M: What does you future hold? 

R: I don’t know. I have no idea and I guess thats kinda exciting that I don't know what my futures gonna hold but at the same time thats pretty scary. I really have no clue.

Audio from this conversation available here!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Dealing With ISIL: Learning From Past Mistakes 

Last week the nation of France fell victim to one of the worst terror attacks it’s faced this century. So far one hundred and thirty people are dead with more than two hundred left injured. ISIL has claimed responsibility for the attack and cold blooded murder of the people of Paris that night. With the world in a more vulnerable state then it was in prior years, this should lead our leaders to rethink their policies towards ISIL. Somehow, even though ISIL may have proved itself a more threatening opponent than once thought, foreign policy towards them is still mild in comparison to the crimes they have committed and threat to commit.  

In 2003, without condemning evidence, the united states engaged in a full scale war against the nation of Iraq under the suspicion of weapons of mass destruction. ISIL has not only taken over parts of Syria but now has taken over a large portion of Iraq, and unlike Iraq’s former leader Sadam Hussien, these people have unabashedly promised aggression against the United States and her allies in the years to come. Why then will the United States go to war on a mere suspicion of a threat and not on a threats which are promised?  Despite our national security and despite the fact that we are responsible for forming this group the United States’ policy towards ISIL remains weak. 

Currently, the United States strategy against ISIL consists largely of airstrikes and arming groups who share ISIL as a common enemy. While these can be very affective at severely injuring ISIL it by no means is capable of destroying it. On the contrary, it might make problems even worse for the US. We all have seen how arming non US military personnel has worked in the past, leading to newer and bigger enemies, such as it did with the original jihadists.    

The actions of ISIL eerily resemble the actions of Germany before and during WWII and our government is now filling the shoes of Chamberlain. In all truth, the 85 million lives which were lost in WWII could have been easily saved by an early intervention and we are making the same mistakes over again. Chamberlain’s reasoning for appeasement was because Europe was still recovering from WWI, just as the United States is still recovering from our previous wars in the Middle East. Had Europe stopped Germany before they developed their military or immediately after they began to invade neighboring countries, then the whole war could have ended there. But due to their hesitance to act, an easy fix soon became a hard one and millions died. 

The western world today seems to think that ISIL doesn't actually mean it when they say they want to take over the world and force sharia law upon the population. These people are motivated by their religion and a lust for blood. Their lives are a disposable commodity and to throw it away to take another down with them is considered noble. ISIL won’t stop once it has the Middle East, they will eventually move their sights  to Europe and the rest of the world. 

The call for war against these tyrants are not simply the cries of war hawks, it is the warnings of people who have learned from their ancestors mistakes. Not taking care of ISIL now while they are still manageable may lead to more deaths in the end. As we stand now, ISIL is a threat that if the US were to use all of its military capabilities, would be destroyed within a few months. The Islamic State is an infected wound upon the Middle East and if we leave that infection to fester and spread we may loose the whole region.  


Saturday, November 14, 2015

For All My Fellow Nerds Scavenging for Details on the New Star Wars Movie:

French Couple Buys Decaying Chateaux In Hopes of Repairing it to its Former Glory:

Why Haters Hate: Kierkegaard Explains the Psychology of Bullying and Online Trolling in 1847:

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Why is Voter Turnout Plummeting Amongst America’s Youth?

By Moriah Gallagher

In the year 1776, the phrase “no taxation without representation” was a principle that young people were willing to risk their lives for to make a reality. Fast forward two hundred and thirty nine years and we have a voter turnout among the youth that puts America to shame. In the 2014 election only 19.9% of people ages 18-29 voted, setting a new record. So why is the youth not voting? I spoke to people around St. Francis College’s campus to get some answers. 

Out of the individuals I spoke with 46% of them said that they vote in elections and understood the importance of this institution in our society. Unfortunately,  the majority of people i spoke to did not vote. There were several recurring themes as to why they were not participating. Some of these themes were not only held by those who didn't vote but also amongst those who do. 

Among the non-voters were the “uniformed” non-voters. Their primary reason for not participating in elections was because they believed they were uniformed on the politicians running.  “I do not pay attention to politics and I don’t want to vote based on what people around me think” said Karen. This particular group of people would rather refrain from voting than to make an uniformed decision.

Another group was the “I don’t have time to vote” non-voters. One individual who wished to remain anonymous stayed true to their claim of being a busy person by answering extremely briefly on all the questions with statements such as “No. Too busy!” and “No. Not interested!” There was also the “lethargic non-voter,” who was just too plain lazy to vote. Though one can’t admire their initiative, you can’t help but admire their honesty. 

Despite all the reason for not voting, the most alarming one was the “defeatist non-voter.” This is an underlying theme throughout all the individuals who responded. “Although it’s important to vote, I still feel like my vote doesn’t matter…The world will still be a messed up place, with or without my vote” said Ketsia. 

Corruption is a main deterrent that keeps these young people from voting. They see corruption as an unopposable force. “At this point, politics without corruption is like having a body subsist without oxygen; it doesn't exist” one person said. “There is obviously corruption in the system…however, we cannot fix it” said Natasha. They see it as something that can be minimized but not as something which can be stopped. Not only did non-voters cite this as a discouraging factor against politics but so did voters. 

How can we change such bleak outlooks on voting? 

For starters it would benefit many people, especially college students to have election days off. Many people are juggling school, work, and family and have no time to vote when election day comes around. If that day was declared a national holiday not only would it clear up everyones busy schedule, but it would also serve as a useful reminder for people that election day is coming. According to The Center For Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, This is the majority of the reasons why college students do not vote.
The United States could also begin to fine people who refuse to vote just as countries such as Australia do, forcing all citizens to be involved in their government.  There should also be more non-partisan resources readily available to voters so they can make educated decisions on who to vote for. 

Part of the responsibility lies with the politicians. “Most politicians care more about their positions rather than the people they represent” was the response of one individual when asked if they had faith in the people who currently hold office. It is up to the politicians to convince the youth of their sincerity and their desire to serve the country and not their desire to win elections. 

In recent events the elections have been more like a circus than educated debates. “Its becoming a joke to some people” said Danielle. How can we convince young people of the importance of elections when the main debates are held by big media corporations who are more concerned with ratings than they are with fairness and accuracy? What the youth has seen of American politics is it’s slow evolution into an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians (afterall, Kanye is running in 2020). Once these elections are taken serious by those who run and cover them, then we will see the youth reacting in the same way. 

The non-voters despite their keeping out of politics is one of the most influential groups in this country. Their decision to remove themselves from politics has just as much influence as it would if they participated. This decision affects elections most often for the worse. 

The youth needs to realize that they do in fact have the power to change what happens in our government and that all is not hopeless. Non-voters are extremely influential because many of their ideas are part of the national psyche. The fact of the matter is that this group, if not complacent, could have a large influence due to the sheer number of people who think and feel as they do. The thing that allows corruption, that allows lies and dirty politics is a lack of retaliation against it. If this group was provoked, it would awaken a sleeping giant and things would change. It is only up to these individuals to discover it.