The Repetition of Star Wars

by Sam Broady

Star Wars has been releasing a lot of content lately. You can watch it all on Disney Plus. But will you enjoy it? Do you like repetitive spinoffs that keep you attached to the past? Or do you like refreshing stories with new characters and expansive lore? I believe the writers should focus more on originality than formula. This was the great mistake of the Disney purchase in 2012. They continue to show their desperate merchandise intentions through all these films, series, games, and more. But Star Wars isn’t the only cash-grab franchise; that term applies to Marvel, Pixar, and the rest of Disney as well.

Let’s start with the sequel trilogy. Whether you enjoy it or not, there’s no denying its similarity to the original trilogy and its reliance on fan service. Disney didn’t plan a storyline, their writing was based on the audience’s reactions to each installment. For example, the amount of backlash that “The Last Jedi” received led to a retcon of everything in “The Rise of Skywalker”. Rey is a Palpatine instead of a nobody; Anakin’s lightsaber is fixed; Kylo has his mask back; and Rose is heavily sidelined. Fast forward to season 2 of “The Mandalorian”. The first season is its own story, but the next one is a festival of cameos from well-known franchise characters including Cobb Vanth, Bo Katan, Ahsoka Tano, Luke Skywalker, and R2-D2. Then there’s an animated series entitled “The Bad Batch”, a prime example of one cliche after the other. There are some good episodes, but most of them have no stakes and old characters are thrown into the story on occasion to keep us engaged. Next we have “The Book of Boba Fett” which is literally living in the past. There are cameos everywhere and Tatooine is an overused location that loves smashing familiar sites in your face. Which is one of the problems with the series “Obi-Wan Kenobi”. It’s nothing new; it uses shaky cam too often; and it’s the third time we’ve seen the protagonist care for a child.

There’s a pattern to be noticed here. Disney is relying too much on our familiarity with the franchise in order to get viewers. I think plenty of people would still watch their content if they took a new approach. “The Mandalorian” was the first Star Wars series on Disney Plus and it succeeded because it’s a standalone story with a completely different tone. But people don’t realize that. The final arc of “The Clone Wars” is in the top tier of television. “Andor” is such a bold take on the lore and it doesn’t feel like Star Wars at all. Clearly, Disney isn’t always lazy. “Rogue One” is a great film that tells its own engaging story without the Skywalkers. “Rebels” is a fun series with many meaningful moments such as Ahsoka’s duel with Vader and Kenobi’s confrontation with Maul. The point is that Star Wars needs to be more consistent with its quality. One day, it’s the same old content. The next day, it’s the best we’ve seen in a long time. The reason Star Wars became popular in the first place is because it was something no one has ever seen before. It’s an exploratory adventure with memorable characters and iconic imagery that blew everyone’s minds with the ambition of its filmmaking. Now, they need to continue building off of that.

The other Disney projects have the same issues. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is even more formulaic and I cannot stand how unoriginal the majority of its installments are. They’re typical superhero stories with an overuse of poor CGI. Again, not all of them are like that. It mostly applies to Phase 4 and the amount of content released isn’t helping. They need more time to craft thoughtful and passionate projects. Pixar isn’t necessarily in the same boat, but even their films have a tiring formula at this point. Sure, each installment has its own creative premise and execution. But they all have very similar messages. Whether they’re about life, family, or friendship.

The moral is that people don’t like seeing the same thing over and over. We only pay to do so because we expect something from franchises that we fell in love with. Writers like Dave Filoni, Jon Favreau, and Rian Johnson need to stay in the business because they have bold takes on storytelling in Star Wars. Dave Filoni dove so deep into the lore of the universe; Jon Favreau crafted an original and immersive western story; and Rian Johnson wasn’t afraid to take a trilogy into a new direction. I believe techniques like those are what’s most important.

Speaking Out on “The Poet X”

By Lacy Blanton, Guest Journalist

Image: HarperCollins Publishers, 2023

“Even with the tambourine and festive singing, these days, church seems less party and more prison” is one of many quotes and themes from the ingenious book “The Poet X” that simply took my breath away through amazement. 

“The Poet X” is a 2018 young adult novel written by Harlem-based author and poet Elizabeth Acevedo, published by “HarperTeen”. 

The story follows fifteen-year-old Dominican girl Xiomara Batista living in the vibrant city of Harlem, New York. A land home to thousands of Afro-Latino identities, and its culturally rich street life that her overprotective Mamí shields her from. Xiomara (who also goes by “Xio” or “X”) hides the beautiful talent of her writing in a notebook. In it, she lyrically pours out her thoughts and documents the struggles in her daily life. These struggles include frequent sexual harassment from men, questioning the authenticity of her birth-religion and Mamí making that freedom of choice difficult for her, and her confused feelings after a blossoming crush on a boy at her school. X discovers and is captured by the Black-based culture of slam poetry, which she begins to explore within her notebook. Living in a world where people try to keep her silent, X learns the power of her poetic words and fights for them to be heard. 

A feature that makes this novel compelling is how it is written from an in-verse perspective. Each chapter is reminiscent of a page from a notebook, and almost every chapter is a poem that documents X’s life. Each poem or “entry” has a style that is easy-to-follow. They’re typically short but powerfully clever nonetheless. (A huge plus for those who struggle paying attention when reading.) Other details are that each chapter is dated to a month and a day of the week. All of this helps create an atmosphere that you’re truly immersed into X’s world, that you really are reading the notebook of an impressionable but talented teenager. And with that, rooting for the main character feels essential. The shockingly realistic plot and brutal honesty is also an immense factor to the novel’s merit. The summary given above are just several of the many heavy topics that the story tackles, but all are dealt with in a respectful and believable fashion. The novel is loaded with memorable quotes that’ll make readers’ fingers snap and go “mmm” with their mouths, most likely linked to the straightforwardness. As X and her family are Latinx, there are several chapters or phrases completely written in Spanish. Additionally helping the novel contain a piece of realism and have the readers feel even more immersed in the protagonist’s culture. Above else, the message of speaking out was the true shining star. Acevedo didn’t just write this book, she made this with true love and passionate words. 

I, like many reviewers that have marveled over this book, are touched by this story. X’s passions, struggles, and life holds a mirror to mine. Not only as a person of color, high schooler, and twin, but also as a writer and poet wishing for my work to be heard. 

Since its release, many schools across the US have outright banned the book for its inclusive themes of sexuality in adolescence, and claims of it being ‘anti-religious’ and having ‘alternative beliefs’. What these schools fail to realize is that “The Poet X” was not written for controversy, spectacle, or shock. It is a daring book that tells the real lives and situations of numerous individuals. From a current teenager’s coming-of-age to a grown adult who had similar experiences to X’s growing up. Acevedo’s central message about the power of voice alongside the art that is slam poetry within this story is a message for all to hear. It is absolutely going to save and inspire many.

TOP 5 SHOWS THAT YOU SHOULD WATCH

By Luke Whobrey

1 – Breaking Bad

Though often heralded as an oft crime thriller, “Breaking Bad” has had a resurgence in popularity with the release of a spinoff, “Better Call Saul” (an equally nefarious-themed acquaintance), as well as a variety of internet memes chronicling its main character, Walter White’s mouth-agape expression in response to a tragedy. The show, focusing on themes of disparity as well as chronicled events of impending doom, present a narrative meant to show that while action is a gripping feature, there is more to be presumed within what we perceive as “Illegal.”

2 – The Sopranos

A crime drama starring New Jersey’s finest James Gandolfini, the “Sopranos” focuses on an Italian-American mobster who attempts to reconcile his family life with his infidelities as well as the numerous amounts of punches, gunshots, and kicks he has to throw to get people his way. Running for seven seasons, David Chase presents a narrative acquainted with that of oldie-goldies in cinema, reminiscent of “The Godfather”, “Goodfellas”, and “The Untouchables”. 

3 – The Walking Dead

A post-apocalyptic horror show with elements of the Western genre, especially that of Spaghetti Western, “The Walking Dead” chronicles in its first few seasons the life of a certain Rick Grimes, a police officer who awakens in a hospital after having been shot by a criminal. While asleep, the world around him collapsed to hordes of flesh-eating monsters that the characters in the show refer to as “walkers.” Delivering horror with a slice of standoff, “The Walking Dead” provides enough entertainment in both its catalogue of weapons as well as its production of acquired nuances, a feat seldom accomplished in mainstream media.

4 – The Last of Us

Despite only recently coming out and having four episodes total as of writing this, “The Last of Us”, like “The Walking Dead”, focuses through both flashbacks and interactions on a world destroyed by both firebombing from a desperate military as well as the undead who brought it upon themselves. The show echoes themes of affection and bewildered morality, as well as the unfortunate alliances and sacrifices needed to be made to fight against a foe, in this case one mutated with a large appetite for brains. 

5 – Futurama

While a wild suggestion with its two-dimensional landscape compared to the previous shows, “Futurama” serves as one of “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening’s finest works, coming elements of comedy with surrealism, non-sequiturs, and futuristic vendettas, all held together by a stream-of-consciousness format explored in the character of Philip Fry, a despondent salesman who finds himself sent 1,000 years into the future in cryostasis. 

Stranger Things Season 4 – Review

Project | Stranger Things, Season 4 - Rodeo FX

Written By: Samuel Broady

The popular Netflix original series known as “Stranger Things” fully released its fourth and latest season last July and fans all over the world are still talking about it. Everybody loves a great sci-fi horror story about a group of kids stopping supernatural forces; and, personally, I believe that the show deserves all the views and love it has received. Of course, the newest season isn’t without its flaws, but it did revive the show and there’s a lot of reasons for that.

The main improvement with the fourth season is that the original elements of mystery and horror have returned. It’s safe to say that a mysterious story is all about revealing one piece of information after another, until each piece fits together perfectly to reveal the whole story. On a horror basis, this season really cranks it up. It embraces the Stephen King vibes and it increases the brutality. With the introduction of the villain Vecna, it’s a refreshing take on the genres that made the show magic in the first place.

Another thing that has always driven this show is the characters. Eleven is always interesting; Hopper remains a strong fighter; Steve’s development is amazing; and Eddie is amusing. However, in Season 4, Max has the best arc. She blocks out her friends because of her depression and trauma. But when she’s faced with the risk of death, she uses her happy memories to escape the darkness. What seemed like an apathetic lifestyle turned into an instinctive embracing of friendship and life. As a social commentary, I believe that her struggle is the best aspect in the new season.

There are a lot of other positive aspects in this season. The emotions are all over the place. Building off of our attachment to the characters, there are several heartbreaking scenes.

Additionally, the scope of the story is huge, the production design is off the charts, the filming locations are stunning, the special effects look convincing, the cinematography is showcased in spectacular use of dramatically colored lighting, the action doesn’t fail to entertain, and the performances rock. Sadie Sink (Max) and Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) especially shine in this season. Finally, the music is awesome. The biggest example is “Running Up That Hill”, a song from the 1980s by Kate Bush, which topped the charts on Spotify this year after its revival on the show.

There are negative aspects, unfortunately. The biggest issue is how overstuffed the episodes are. Too much happening can make one get lost and some subplots are more engaging than others. They should remove characters because some have no need in the show anymore. Also, the amount of plot armor and untied loose ends is somewhat underwhelming.

Needless to say, “Stranger Things” Season 4 improves on a lot of things. It’s not perfect, but it certainly proves the possibility for blockbuster television. All we can do now is wait for Season 5 and hope it’s even better because the future looks bright. According to the Duffer Brothers, we’re headed into a time jump that will only take place in Hawkins with no new characters. And that sure sounds promising.

All in all, Stranger Things Season Four deserves a 9/10.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish – Review

By: Sam Broady

2022 was a good year for movies. With “Top Gun: Maverick,” “The Batman,”  “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” “Bullet Train,” “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” cinema was back. Oddly enough, there was one other film in theaters that nobody asked for, nobody expected it to be good, and nobody hated it. That film is “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.” Out of all the possibilities for a sequel, “Puss in Boots” turned out to have one and it happened to be amazing. I was blown away in theaters. I have a good memory of it and I look forward to re-watching it because it may be my favorite Dreamworks film. “How to Train Your Dragon” held that title for a long time.

The best thing about this film is by far the animation. In all honesty, it is the best animation I have ever seen. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is well known for its top notch animation, but while its visuals have the highest highlights, I think this film has better visuals overall. The action looks especially good. I love how the frame rate slows down in all the fight scenes. My favorite scene is the fight between Puss in Boots and Death because the color scheme looks amazing. I adore the use of colors and lighting in this film.

Another thing I love about this movie is the characters. I think it’s really important for a film to prioritize its characters if it wants to be memorable; luckily, that’s what happened. I highly enjoy Puss in Boots in this film. I don’t remember anything about the prequel but it doesn’t matter. Antonio Banderas gives the character such energy and he keeps his vibrant personality among the challenges he faces. I like his reunion with Kitty: she gets the job done. Perrito the dog is a funny addition. He brings love and comfort to the story. Goldilocks and the three bears are a delight to see and I didn’t expect them to be so fun. However, my favorite character is the wolf. His name is Death and he is the coolest character in fiction. Every time he’s on screen, he gives me the creeps. 

Surprisingly, the themes are conveyed with more depth than I expected. This film explores the fear of dying, which many can relate to. With Puss in Boots being on one out of nine lives, he is running for his life for the first time. His objective in the story is to make a wish for more lives so he can be the legend everyone knows him as. But, in the end, he realizes one life is enough when he gets to spend it with the people he loves. Or should I say animals. Everyone else cancels their wish as well when they learn to appreciate what they have. Having someone to trust, having a family, having friends; there’s a heartfelt message about sticking with what you have in life and it’s done in a rather subtle manner that complements the characterization of our protagonist.

Extra aspects that I enjoyed are the voice acting, the humor, and the music. I don’t know why Dreamworks went so hard on this film, but I am so glad they did. We need more animated masterpieces like these; films that specialize in the telling of a story and the style of animation rather than serving as a formulaic cash grab that intends to sell merchandise and teach kids nothing. You can feel the passion that went into every frame of this film. I cannot feel anything when watching films produced by Illumination like “Minions”. The difference in quality between Illumination and Dreamworks is unreal. By all means, I think it’s safe to say that “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is the best animated film of 2022 and I am very thankful for its release.

Abortion: A Woman’s Choice or In the Hands of Our Government?

  By: Lacy Blanton, Guest Journalist

June 2022: It was a dark time for many Americans across the nation, as on the 24th of that month, the Supreme Court had issued a decision concerning the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health bill, overturning Roe v. Wade. The protection to the legal right to abortion was eliminated; with this, numerous states had begun to ban the rights and access to abortion. 

On September 15th, 2022: The state of Indiana, my home-state, fell victim to this deadly decision of a bill. The mere exceptions of legal access in Indiana are in the the cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormalities, or to preserve the life and physical health of the person who is pregnant before 10 weeks after conceivement. 

I vividly remember the time it had all occurred. Ads, social media posts, news segments, and YouTube videos capturing images of those fighting in protest, or in support of this controversial bill. I recall many clinics being ushered to shut down in response, and the unwavering sound of victory at my evangelistic church. In addition, my church has recently implemented a drive to donate infant products and necessities to a pro-life organization for “mothers in desperate need”. 

I am here to express my anguish and disgust at such passing of a bill, how morally wrong it is in many ways, and how this option in mind must be the pregnant woman’s decision, not the government’s.

Many opposers will try to express how abortion is the murderous hunting of innocent unborn children. How the women who are proceeding with abortion are selfish, cold-hearted vipers. How clinics such as “Planned Parenthood” are greedy corporations who are unapologetically open about eliminating unborn life.

According to “KFF’s ‘Key Facts on Abortion in the United States’”, data before the Dobbs decision had gathered that a vast 92% of abortions occur during the first trimester of pregnancy. With this knowledge: we know that in the first trimester in a woman’s pregnancy, the embryo or fetus is a clump of biological molecules undergoing chemical reactions. Therefore, this leads us to the idea that this “baby” is not considered truly living.

Those who seek abortion as an option are a whole spectrum. They go through the procedures all for differing reasons. It is an immense injustice to label them and envision them in a negative light. “Planned Parenthood’s ‘Our Abortions, Our Stories’” shares the anecdotes of women from around the US, giving their reasons as to why they chose the path they did. One woman said in the article, “My stepfather abused me from age 8 to 17. At 15 I became pregnant and lied to my mother that it was my boyfriend’s. I had an abortion because the mental and physical abuse continued afterwards…”. Another lady said, “When I was 20 I had an abortion. Being so young and barely getting by financially, I was in no position whatsoever to have a child…”. A third said, “…At age 31, I had a 3 ½ year old son and was pregnant with my second child… My husband and I found that the baby had several heart defects. We went to see several specialists to see if his heart could be fixed after he was born. They told us that he would live and grow in utero, but would die after birth… We decided to spare him the suffering and interrupted the pregnancy at 22 weeks.”

“Planned Parenthood” is a health organization that has a 3% abortion service, with the majority of their work consisting of STD testing and treatment, cancer screenings, infertility services, and offering sex education. To get an abortion through them, the organization has you meet with your doctor, nurse, or health counselor to discuss whether abortion is the best decision for you. Even if one is adamant about going through the procedure, they emphasize that they will halt everything if you change your mind, even as far as the surgical removal. With these facts, it shows how precise and supportive Planned Parenthood is, and always looks to the best interest no matter what one decides. 

“Capital B”’s Kenya Hunter gave insight on a reproductive rights group launching a campaign, and also gave how they advocate that abortion bans are racist against the Black community in America. The group, known as “Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity” or “URGE”, had its Georgia organizer say, “We aren’t just strictly coming from a lens of what’s happening with our wombs or with our uterus,.. [Abortion bans] have a trickle-down effect. People with low income have to bring in another child that they can’t afford. The point of the ‘Abortion Bans Are Racist’ campaign is to make sure the conversation isn’t just about abortion… but how does this further create disparities within our communities?”. Additionally, their campaign had researchers who predicted to them that with more people forced to carry out their pregnancy, this will result in increased risks in bad maternal health. As a Georgia-based news organization: Hunter points out how the state’s Black women are already three-times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than White women.

As of 2023, only three US states have the right to abortion in full status. These states being California, Michigan, and Vermont. 

I, like many others, find this decision from our Supreme Court to be disappointing and discouraging. This is a reminder that our country still has room for improvement regarding a human’s right. 

We cannot change the mind’s of every individual, but if we can show the Supreme Court the dangers to this passed bill, perhaps they can reconsider this injustice. 

Fortunately, we are not alone in this protest. As Kenya Hunter had discussed, URGE’s ‘Abortion Bans Are Racist’ campaign is just one of many groups fighting against this ban. 

 This isn’t based on a viewpoint that is politically-motivated, and with the harms that this ban is capable of as mentioned: it is unavoidable to point out its concerning flaws. Kaelea Lucas, the Georgia organizer for URGE, said it best; “The decision of what somebody does with their body and whether or not they are going to get an abortion ultimately should be between that person, family, and maybe a medical provider if that’s what feels comfortable to them,… But who should not be involved is the government. There should be no political reasoning for anything like abortion bans.” Banning the right to abortion sends the wrong message to so many. It silences voices, gives misinformation about clinics like “Planned Parenthood”, gives ignorance to the idea that “babies” are being “killed”, and drastically affects the Black community in health and finances. With this ban and absurd claims continuing to be established, we are going to do more harm than good toward women and their overall health. 

The Creativity in Restrictions

By Sam Ottinger

Getting into the arts can be a challenging quest, whether it’s getting the ideas or actually putting said ideas into the world. In this time of confusion, I believe that having a rubric of restrictions can be the support that lifts creativity to its highest form. Having a set of rules to follow can help ideas flow, it can be a more relieving position, and help the artist try new things.

Many can agree that one of the most difficult parts of the arts is creating the idea, yet when you have to work your way around certain things, then it can be an easier way to find the path that will lead you to a fall of ideas. Restrictions put in the building blocks, then the artist can complete the designed task, and after they are able to push certain aspects (that aren’t restricted) to make the piece their own. It can also help cut down on decisions that are put in the artist’s hands, so they don’t get overwhelmed and burned out as quickly by the overflow of creative ideas. As stated by Thomas Oppong in his article about creativity, on Inc., “With constraints, you dedicate your mental energy to acting more resourcefully. When challenged, you figure out new ways to be better.” Having a specific direction for where your energy can go can help you get more ideas and thus the artist goes through a slower decline in their rate of ideas.

Instead of having total freedom and being surrounded by stress from blankness in the creative department, you are able to get a new point of view which can help you get a better understanding of different techniques for a new set of tools. Some may say that with restrictions, it can be difficult to fully shine because of the choices being so limited, and they aren’t entirely wrong. When creative rubrics are too restricting, it can lead to the same amount of problems that having too much freedom contains, extra stress to stay in the lines and lack of related ideas. It’s just like everything else, too much of anything is bad. Yet when these placements are done right, it can be extraordinarily beneficial for the artist. As said by Jason Bell, an Associate Professor of Marketing at Saïd Business School, “When well placed, constraints can force us to step out of our mental comfort zone and connect a schema to something new. This can very often lead to innovative ideas”.

Unclear directions and the fear of experimentation can hold many people back, including the need for near perfection is a craving that many artists, whether new or old, chase after for years. When using restrictions in your craft, it will give you clearer directions, help you be forced to try something new, and it can push you to slowly become ok with not reaching the status of perfect perfection. A batch of restraints can not only force you to try something new, it can also help you focus and create better ideas then you would have before. An article published by the official Harvard Business Review helps to support this claim by stating, “Constraints, in contrast, provide focus and a creative challenge that motivates people to search for and connect information from different sources to generate novel ideas for new products, services, or business processes”.

With all these reasons, it is clear that adding in restrictions can be extremely beneficial. From how it helps increase idea flow, how it leads to less pressure, and finally how it can help artists try new ideas that the artist normally wouldn’t try otherwise. So if you are ever stuck, try adding in some restrictions, and don’t be afraid to try something new.

Women’s History Month 2023: Celebrating Storytellers 

By Lacy Blanton, Guest Journalist

March is upon us once again. With this, the annual events of this month include the highly-anticipated March Madness, the mournful (or celebratory) ending of winter, and the welcoming of spring.

Another special event arises during this time: Women’s History Month, an annual declared month that highlights the honorable contributions of women from our society. Each year within the United States, a distinctive theme is chosen by “The Women’s History Alliance”. Recognizing the diversity and different roles that women have played throughout history. 

This year’s theme is a very special one. That theme being “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories”. Highlighting those who have dedicated their lives and been active through press, broadcasting, blogs, podcasts, playwrights, scholars, and much more.

I wish to recognize and honor the trailblazing female journalists, from yesterday and today, who have made and continue to create a potent bridge between women and the world of journalism.

Barbara Walters – (1929-2022)

Legendary broadcast journalist and television personality, Barbara Walters has been in the journalism world for remarkably over sixty years.    

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in English from Sarah Lawerence College, Walters would land a position in writing press releases for NBC network’s flagship station “WNTB-TV”, now known as “WNBC”. In 1961, she joined “The Today Show” as a researcher and writer, and later became the program’s ‘Today Girl’. Only handling light stories and discussing the weather. A time Walters herself described, when a woman discussing “hard news” wasn’t an idea that many took seriously. She broke that mold however in 1974 by being the first female co-host of a US news program.

By 1979, Walters had teamed up with Hugh Downs for “ABC”’s program “20/20” as correspondent and later co-host. Where she flourished until her eventual retirement in 2004. Seven years prior, she became the co-creator, co-executive producer, and co-host for daytime talk show “The View”, and later retired from her career as a noteworthy anchor and journalist in 2014.

Throughout the course of Walters’ career: she was most eminent for her interviews involving high-profiled individuals. Such as former US president Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalyn Carter, current Russian president Vladimir Putin, actress icon Lucille Ball, and ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson. She was also well-known in asking the most brutal of questions amidst interviews.

Barbara Walters passed away peacefully in her Manhattan home on December 30th, 2022. She was 93 years old. In death, she leaves behind a daughter, close friends, and a legacy of helping pave the way for future female journalists.

Belva Davis – 

Born in 1932, Belvagene “Belva” Melton-Davis is another phenomenal example of shaping the world of storytelling. She was the first ever African-American woman to be a television reporter for the US west coast, and worked as a radio broadcaster and news anchor for multiple stations.

Upon performing a freelance assignment for African-American magazine “Jet”, and receiving a mere $5 with no byline from it: Davis found herself writing pieces for other minority publications such as the “Sun Reporter”. 

Throughout the 1960’s, Davis worked radio stations across radio stations with “KSAN”, “KDIA”, and “KNEW”. She then ultimately landed a spot for “KPIX-TV” in San Francisco, where she was positioned for thirty years. 

Davis made herself recognizable for her coverages involving politics, race, and gender. As well as her calm, collected disposition. She has gone on to win eight “Emmy Award”’s and has been recognized by the “American Women in Radio and Television” and the “National Association of Black Journalists”.

Belva Davis is still alive and well today; having been retired since 2012. She cheerily lives in Petaluma, California with husband Bill Moore. She has two children with ex-husband Frank Davis. Despite her current age and reported diminishing memory, the journalism community still sees the versatile, talented woman who has ‘opened the heavy doors’ for so many. 

Juju Chang – 

Korean-born television journalist, Hyunju “Juju” Chang has created an impressive career for herself with backgrounds in “ABC News” and “Nightline”.

From Stanford University, Chang graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communications. After school, she began working for “ABC” as a desk assistant in 1984, and would later work for “ABC World News Tonight” as a producer and off-air reporter.

By 2009, Chang had made history in becoming the first Korean-American with an essential role in US morning news television through being a part of “Good Morning America”; where she was the news anchor and helped contribute news stories. She would eventually leave to work full-time for the program “Nightline”.

With her work-ethic and dedication, Chang has received numerous awards throughout the course of her career. Some of her achievements include the “Alfred I. DuPont”, multiple “Gracie’s” and “Emmy’s”, and a “Freddie” award.

Chang now lives on the west side of lavish Manhattan with husband Neal Shapiro (whom she has three children with), proudly continuing to serve as anchor for “Nightline”. She is an involved member of the Asian-American community as she is a founding board member of the “Korean American Community Foundation” and member of the “Council on Foreign Relations”.

Akoto Ofori-Atta – 

Proud co-founder and chief audience officer for the Black-led national news organization “Capital B”: Akoto Ofori-Atta is one of a kind in her work.

In her early life, Ofori-Atta earned her bachelor’s degree in Print Journalism from Hampton University, and received a master’s in Communication, and Culture and Technology from Georgetown University.

She would go on to become the associate editor and social media manager for “The Root” and hold the position of senior editor at “Essence Magazine”.

Before leaving to pursue further development of “Capital B”, Ofori-Atta was previously the managing editor for “The Trace”, where she took full accountability for partnerships, special projects, and editorial operations. She had also completed a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University in 2015, focusing on issues regarding the Black press and diversity.

Today, Akoto Ofori-Atta continues to help “Capital B” flourish. Her “Instagram” account showcases the vibrant life she lives. Through promoting “Capital B”, sharing past heartfelt memories of friends and family, and pictures of her and the love of her life. She and her husband also share a beautiful baby girl together.

Shahrnaz Javid – 

Woman of words, wearer of all hats, vivid photographer, and traveling-dreamer: Shahrnaz Javid is no doubt a soul many people should aspire to be.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky and graduated from Jeffersonville High School in 2011, Javid’s background and story is one that touches many of us.

Upon graduation, Javid attended Columbia College Chicago to major in magazine writing and was under a scholarship when attending. In 2016, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism.

Since then she has been involved in a number of enterprises as a writer and/or content creator. Several of her works include being an intern submissions editor for “Toksick Magazine”, a content creator for “The Times”, and currently holding the positions as a creative writer for “Unsaid” and contributing writer for “SVRN”. On top of that, Javid is her own boss as she is self-employed as a freelance writer and photographer.

Residing in Antwerp, Belgium with her husband and their beautiful little daughter, Shahrnaz Javid is very open about her career and life through her “Instagram” page. Upon reading and catching glimpses of her page, one can say it’s like a storybook come to life. Shots of urban European landscapes, eccentricities, lovely colors, and captions with words belonging to a poetry book. 

Shahrnaz Javid, like the rest of these outstanding storytellers, is someone who is beyond influential.

Reading and/or listening to all of their professional work is an absolute must. They are all a mix of talent, truth, and devotion combined. These five journalists did more than merely write. They created a story of their own that many more female storytellers will look up to.

The Repetition of Star Wars

by Sam Broady

Star Wars has been releasing a lot of content lately. You can watch it all on Disney Plus. But will you enjoy it? Do you like repetitive spinoffs that keep you attached to the past? Or do you like refreshing stories with new characters and expansive lore? I believe the writers should focus more on originality than formula. This was the great mistake of the Disney purchase in 2012. They continue to show their desperate merchandise intentions through all these films, series, games, and more. But Star Wars isn’t the only cash-grab franchise; that term applies to Marvel, Pixar, and the rest of Disney as well.

Let’s start with the sequel trilogy. Whether you enjoy it or not, there’s no denying its similarity to the original trilogy and its reliance on fan service. Disney didn’t plan a storyline, their writing was based on the audience’s reactions to each installment. For example, the amount of backlash that “The Last Jedi” received led to a retcon of everything in “The Rise of Skywalker”. Rey is a Palpatine instead of a nobody; Anakin’s lightsaber is fixed; Kylo has his mask back; and Rose is heavily sidelined. Fast forward to season 2 of “The Mandalorian”. The first season is its own story, but the next one is a festival of cameos from well-known franchise characters including Cobb Vanth, Bo Katan, Ahsoka Tano, Luke Skywalker, and R2-D2. Then there’s an animated series entitled “The Bad Batch”, a prime example of one cliche after the other. There are some good episodes, but most of them have no stakes and old characters are thrown into the story on occasion to keep us engaged. Next we have “The Book of Boba Fett” which is literally living in the past. There are cameos everywhere and Tatooine is an overused location that loves smashing familiar sites in your face. Which is one of the problems with the series “Obi-Wan Kenobi”. It’s nothing new; it uses shaky cam too often; and it’s the third time we’ve seen the protagonist care for a child.

There’s a pattern to be noticed here. Disney is relying too much on our familiarity with the franchise in order to get viewers. I think plenty of people would still watch their content if they took a new approach. “The Mandalorian” was the first Star Wars series on Disney Plus and it succeeded because it’s a standalone story with a completely different tone. But people don’t realize that. The final arc of “The Clone Wars” is in the top tier of television. “Andor” is such a bold take on the lore and it doesn’t feel like Star Wars at all. Clearly, Disney isn’t always lazy. “Rogue One” is a great film that tells its own engaging story without the Skywalkers. “Rebels” is a fun series with many meaningful moments such as Ahsoka’s duel with Vader and Kenobi’s confrontation with Maul. The point is that Star Wars needs to be more consistent with its quality. One day, it’s the same old content. The next day, it’s the best we’ve seen in a long time. The reason Star Wars became popular in the first place is because it was something no one has ever seen before. It’s an exploratory adventure with memorable characters and iconic imagery that blew everyone’s minds with the ambition of its filmmaking. Now, they need to continue building off of that.

The other Disney projects have the same issues. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is even more formulaic and I cannot stand how unoriginal the majority of its installments are. They’re typical superhero stories with an overuse of poor CGI. Again, not all of them are like that. It mostly applies to Phase 4 and the amount of content released isn’t helping. They need more time to craft thoughtful and passionate projects. Pixar isn’t necessarily in the same boat, but even their films have a tiring formula at this point. Sure, each installment has its own creative premise and execution. But they all have very similar messages. Whether they’re about life, family, or friendship.

The moral is that people don’t like seeing the same thing over and over. We only pay to do so because we expect something from franchises that we fell in love with. Writers like Dave Filoni, Jon Favreau, and Rian Johnson need to stay in the business because they have bold takes on storytelling in Star Wars. Dave Filoni dove so deep into the lore of the universe; Jon Favreau crafted an original and immersive western story; and Rian Johnson wasn’t afraid to take a trilogy into a new direction. I believe techniques like those are what’s most important.

Speaking Out on “The Poet X”

By Lacy Blanton, Guest Journalist

Image: HarperCollins Publishers, 2023

“Even with the tambourine and festive singing, these days, church seems less party and more prison” is one of many quotes and themes from the ingenious book “The Poet X” that simply took my breath away through amazement. 

“The Poet X” is a 2018 young adult novel written by Harlem-based author and poet Elizabeth Acevedo, published by “HarperTeen”. 

The story follows fifteen-year-old Dominican girl Xiomara Batista living in the vibrant city of Harlem, New York. A land home to thousands of Afro-Latino identities, and its culturally rich street life that her overprotective Mamí shields her from. Xiomara (who also goes by “Xio” or “X”) hides the beautiful talent of her writing in a notebook. In it, she lyrically pours out her thoughts and documents the struggles in her daily life. These struggles include frequent sexual harassment from men, questioning the authenticity of her birth-religion and Mamí making that freedom of choice difficult for her, and her confused feelings after a blossoming crush on a boy at her school. X discovers and is captured by the Black-based culture of slam poetry, which she begins to explore within her notebook. Living in a world where people try to keep her silent, X learns the power of her poetic words and fights for them to be heard. 

A feature that makes this novel compelling is how it is written from an in-verse perspective. Each chapter is reminiscent of a page from a notebook, and almost every chapter is a poem that documents X’s life. Each poem or “entry” has a style that is easy-to-follow. They’re typically short but powerfully clever nonetheless. (A huge plus for those who struggle paying attention when reading.) Other details are that each chapter is dated to a month and a day of the week. All of this helps create an atmosphere that you’re truly immersed into X’s world, that you really are reading the notebook of an impressionable but talented teenager. And with that, rooting for the main character feels essential. The shockingly realistic plot and brutal honesty is also an immense factor to the novel’s merit. The summary given above are just several of the many heavy topics that the story tackles, but all are dealt with in a respectful and believable fashion. The novel is loaded with memorable quotes that’ll make readers’ fingers snap and go “mmm” with their mouths, most likely linked to the straightforwardness. As X and her family are Latinx, there are several chapters or phrases completely written in Spanish. Additionally helping the novel contain a piece of realism and have the readers feel even more immersed in the protagonist’s culture. Above else, the message of speaking out was the true shining star. Acevedo didn’t just write this book, she made this with true love and passionate words. 

I, like many reviewers that have marveled over this book, are touched by this story. X’s passions, struggles, and life holds a mirror to mine. Not only as a person of color, high schooler, and twin, but also as a writer and poet wishing for my work to be heard. 

Since its release, many schools across the US have outright banned the book for its inclusive themes of sexuality in adolescence, and claims of it being ‘anti-religious’ and having ‘alternative beliefs’. What these schools fail to realize is that “The Poet X” was not written for controversy, spectacle, or shock. It is a daring book that tells the real lives and situations of numerous individuals. From a current teenager’s coming-of-age to a grown adult who had similar experiences to X’s growing up. Acevedo’s central message about the power of voice alongside the art that is slam poetry within this story is a message for all to hear. It is absolutely going to save and inspire many.

Lamb: A Mind-Bending Icelandic Film

Foreign films are nothing new to the United States. Most of them are Bollywood productions from India or horror films from Japan and Korea, like the Oscar award-winning ‘Parasite’ released in 2019. But now, with the release of  “Lamb,” Director Valdimar Jóhannsson may be making Icelandic film history.

The trailer for “Lamb” left many wondering about the film, and soon theories started to form in the comment section of the trailer’sYouTube video. The film is rated R and is advertised as horror. However, “Lamb” will most likely be seen more as a thought art-house film than a horror film to the American audience. The movie has very little dialogue, leaving much of the plot for the audience’s brain to figure out. And the ending is so abrupt, viewers will be shocked it’s over. For an hour and 46-minute movie, it leaves a lot for the brain to ponder.

The film takes place in the mountainous lands of Iceland. The two main characters are sheep farmers who live a typical life until one of their ewes gives birth to a lamb with a significant abnormality. The lamb is half-human. She resembles a lamb from her head to her right arm, and the rest of her is human. We can assume our two main characters, Maria and Ingvar, are desperate for a child due to their immediate acceptance of bringing the lamb child into their life. They name the little female lamb Ada. The name has a special meaning to the film, but that is for the viewers to find themselves. When Uncle Pétur shows up, their lifestyle with Ada is challenged. Not only by Pétur but also by something far more sinister.

The characters are well-rounded but also mysterious. To the viewer, they can either be seen as protagonists or antagonists, depending on their perception. Their outfits are typical modern-day Icelandic sweaters that help them keep warm in the freezing climate of Iceland. One big question from fans is how Ada’s character was formulated? When asked how he approached Ada’s look, Valdimar Jóhannsson highlighted patience.  “The actors were also very important because we used lambs, children, and puppets to shoot those scenes, so shooting took a long time, and they had to be very patient,” he said to Screen Daily.

When asked where the inspiration came from, Valdimar Jóhannsson said, “I was inspired by so many things: films, folklore, books, paintings, images. I started to create a sort of sketchbook with some elements of the story and drawings…” he said to Screen Daily. 

“Lamb” is an intriguing humanity versus nature story that will keep you trying to figure out the plot for the entirety of the film and keep you engaged throughout the movie. If bizarre and abnormal concepts are your thing, “Lamb” is the movie for you.

How to Properly Eat Oreos

Story by Lydia Church

Everyone eats food differently. Some of us eat the conventional way, then there are those of us with questionable methods for eating various foods that the rest of us judge…but never discuss. What if you were asked how you eat a certain food? Would you believe this is how everyone should eat it? Today, one of the hottest debates in food consumption will be put to rest: What is the proper way to eat Oreos?

When given the question–“How do you eat your Oreos”–there were many like-minded people with similar responses. Most people responded: “with milk.” Yet many were not very detailed in their responses other than Senior Nick Goss who replied, “I drown it in milk with a fork until all of the bubbles in the milk are done.”

Along with the milk, there were a lot of “like a normal cookie” responses. Nothing special, just like a cookie. “I eat them the way they come because I’m not a psychopath,” says Abby Napper, also a senior. 

Although there were many repeat responses, there were also a few unique responses too. Kirati Kiviniemi on Instagram says, “I enjoy scraping off the middle and only eating the cookies if I’m not feeling lazy.” Taking a sixth grade dissection project approach in this case, his form closely relates to the also common separation technique in which you separate the cookie down the middle, creating one cookie that is plain and one with all the cream. 

The most intense debate was deciding whether the cookies should be eaten as a whole or separated into halves. Separate being eating one side before the other. 65%of those who answered said whole, while the other 35% replied separately. For those who chose to eat separately, another question was posed. Should you eat the cream side first or the cookieside? 52% said they would go for the cookie side first, the other 48% said they would chow down on the cream. And for the final question there was a decisive winner. When asked whether to eat Oreos with or without milk, 82%sided with milk, while 18% thought the glass of milk should be left out of the equation. 

After interviewing the students at Jeff High, including in decisive students, the proper way to eat an Oreo was finally determined: You should eat an Oreo as a whole cookie with a cool glass of milk. Though on days when you feel that you should take that risk of separation, eating the plain cookie side before the cream cookie side is recommended in order to save the best for last. This is unless you are Evan Cawthorn, a senior, who had strong opinions when asked about eating Oreos saying, “I don’t. I hate them”

Purrfect Day Café: A local cat café that has helped 5,000 cats get adopted

Story by Marni Scholl

Look no further than the Purrfect Day Café for the perfect place to spend a free day. You get the opportunity to play with adorable kittens and sometimes even adult cats. Even if you are not looking to adopt, visiting the cats is still a beneficial activity. It helps the cats become socialized

and friendly to people of any age. 11 a.m. to four p.m. is when children are allowed in with an adult supervisor. Four p.m. to eight p.m. is for anyone over 18.

All of the kitties are from the Kentucky HumaneSociety. For the first time, the Kentucky Humane Society has had more cat adoptions than dog adoptions. Usually, cats only makeup a third of their adoptions, according to Spectrum News. When you enter the café, you can find a scrapbook of all the different types of cats they have been cared for and have been adopted. Their diversity ranges from senior cats to blind cats, all of whom need a loving home. You get an hour in the playroom to bond with acat, and it is advised that you spend 30 minutes before deciding on the cat you want to adopt.

Lots of small businesses had to close during the pandemic but not Purrfect Day Café. Their adoption rate went up because people wanted a furry friend to keep them company while they were at home. “The community made sure we were not going anywhere,” said the manager, who is also known as Top Cat, Robert Mason. The business has been going strong since2018, and it continues to thrive. On Wednesday, the 18th of August, they reached their goal of 5,000 cat adoptions.

This place isn’t just a hang-out space to play with cats, though. It truly is a café with a variety of drinks and treats to enjoy. There is even wine and beer to purchase for an older audience and an outdoor patio called the “catio” where you can enjoy your beverage. Drinks are allowed in with the cats but not snacks. Upstairs you will find a party room where you can celebrate a birthday or other celebration. You can even purchase fun t-shirts, sequin cat ears, and colorful stickers to decorate with and support the business. Some of their merchandise promotes their LGBTQ+ friendly stance. 

Often after a good play, the cats will fall asleep in your lap. It’s a great place to bring a friend or to make a friend, human or feline. So what are you waiting for? Head to 1741 Bardstown Road in Louisville, Kentucky, for a day of fun!

How to Walk in the Hallways / Tips to avoid hatred from peers

Story by Max Fisher

After a year of quarantines and online learning, the Jeff High hallway crowds are back again, and students have taken notice. “The hallways are so crowded it makes no sense,” said Miles Harper, a Jeff High student. While others like Toby Kauchak echoed similar concerns, saying, “They’re very crowded and loud.” Year after year, students clustering together in crowds during passing and blocking movement in the hallways and stairwells have become a hallmark of the Jeff High experience. While some congestion is inevitable, here are a few tips to make your hallway experience and that of your peers much easier.

– There is never a reason to talk in a circle. There is nothing worse than walking down the hallway and being stopped by a group of people talking in a circle. If it is that serious–and it probably isn’t–please at least try to find a more spacious area such as the commons. And if you can’t do that, feel free to discuss in a more compatible shape such as a line or a condensed oval.

– No Public Displays of Affection. The love of your life will still be there after the hour and a half class, and, no matter what you think, people do not want to see that. Your friends definitely mock you for this behind your back.

– Walk on the right side of the hallway. There is no reason to walk on the left unless you are heading to a locker or a class. Please stick to the right.

– The main stairs are actually not the best place to have a meaningful conversation. Despite what you might think, your conversation is most likely to be heard by the 50 people who walk by you. If you really need to talk, just know that literally anywhere else in the school is a better spot.

– Don’t run. You are at school, it’s not worth running. However, an exception can be made for light jogs to the lunch line? Especially if heading to the sandwich line to avoid waiting for food for over half your lunch. 

Hopefully, these tips will help create a better hallway experience, and if not, it’s at least nice to complain about this perennial problem.