The 2018 Oscars: My thoughts on Hollywood’s biggest night

Hollywood’s biggest night is fast approaching.

The image of La La Land winning Best Picture but then not winning Best Picture is still fresh in the minds of many. Mine included.

Anyways, this years biggest drama seems to be the wide open Best Picture race. The category features the following films:

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri

All of these movies have a real shot at winning Best Picture and that’s what makes this years category so interesting. In years past, theres often a ‘favorite’ that has all the ingredients the academy would want.

I’ve seen five out of nine of these movies and just with those five i struggle to make my own predictions. However, i do have some favorites.

Just last week i saw Get Out. Its hard to explain the novelty of that film without seeing it yourself. It’s the films willingness to talk about these socially taboo topics that makes it so interesting. It addresses issues in our society that we would normally shy away from, and it does it in the most interesting way possible.

Lady Bird was another film that i loved. I grew up around Sacramento, California which is the main setting of the film. For whatever reason i feel the film really got Sacramento right. It’s just a simple northern California town, but you miss it when you’re gone. I think that could be said of any town. I think that may be why i have an affinity to this film but i also feel it captured the growing pains of finding yourself exceptionally well.

The Post is as timely as they come and i think that will work much to its favor. It also features power houses Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks… so i think that speaks for itself. This film highlights the struggle and reason for journalism. I have a post about that here.

Out of the five i saw, those were the ones that really left a last impression on. Again i say, however, that this race is wide open. And it would not be the Oscars without a little shake up.

It’s also not lost on me that the drama for this years show probably won’t come from the Best Picture category. With Jimmy Kimmel getting the hosting nod this year i expect 2018’s show to be anything but normal.

The 90th Academy Awards will be held this Sunday March 4th at 8 p.m. EST.


Women in the media: A strong start to 2018

Just a week into 2018 Oprah literally gave me my favorite moment of 2018 and i don’t think it’ll be close (i’ll get back to you on that.)

Oprah’s speech while accepting the Cecil B. de Mille award at the 2018 Golden Globes was a rallying cry met state of the union. It was everything i wanted to hear and more:

We are now just three months into the new year and already have i been inspired by the women taking control of the narrative in the media. So here are my favorite “women moments” as of March 2018:

This would be incomplete without mentioning the Time’s Up movement. I’m gonna have to go back to my girl Oprah on this one because she truly put it into words better than i could ever imagine:

“I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they’re in academia, engineering, medicine, and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. They’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military.”

Reading that quote gives me goosebumps every. single. time. The stories we don’t know are the most powerful. The greatest facet of the Times Up movement, to me, is that it is giving a voice to the voiceless.

Times Up has brought a reckoning in the media and has held those accountable who have gotten away for so much for so long. However, their time is up.

Next, i’d like to talk about the more than 160 women who came forward with stories of abuse by Larry Nassar. Almost all of those women were allowed to speak in court thanks to Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.

The victims statements were televised and each victim addressed Nassar directly, who was sitting just a few feet away from them in the court room. Although slightly controversial, Judge Aquilina allowed every victim who wanted to a chance to speak in court. She gave them their voice back.

“I just signed your death warrant,” she said while sentencing Nassar to essentially life in prison.

The women who spoke were names we had already known. They were olympians Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, and McKayla Maroney. They were gymnasts, college students, athletes, and they were also children.

These two moments of 2018 are huge difference makers. They are moments that change the trajectory of our society. And it was all done by women. Strong women who use their voice for something bigger than themselves.

And thats what i hope 2018 is filled with. Strong, powerful women.

News, Opinion

News media and mass shootings: What Dana Loesch got wrong

“Many in legacy media love mass shootings, you guys love it,” said Dana Loesch, NRA spokeswomen, staring intently into the cameras at the at the 2018 the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). She said this less than two weeks after the Parkland shooting took the lives of 17 people.

So, i see where she is going with this. I don’t agree with her but i get who she’s pandering too.

To start, here is a quote from Trevor Hughes, a USA TODAY reporter from Denver:

“The reality is that some days, the hardest thing a reporter must do is pick up the phone to call a grieving family. But that’s what we do. We seek primary sources and hold an honest mirror up to our communities. We don’t have the luxury of conspiracy theories or parroting talking points. We report. We cry. And we wrestle with our coverage decisions through sleepless nights and broken relationships and a seemingly unending parade of grief.”

That statement, to me, doesn’t scream a “love” for mass shootings.

To me it shows the commitment a reporter and news media has to the public to report honestly, no matter how sensitive the subject matter. It shows the real struggle of having to report things that aren’t easy, that aren’t fun, and that aren’t happy.

We rely on the news media to inform us of what is happening in our world and too often what is happening is a mass shooting. So instead of killing the messenger, perhaps we should address the problem.

The problem, in the most recent instance, is someone who was not fit to own a firearm, legally purchased a firearm. The problem is that someone who was reported to the FBI and local law enforcement for suspicious behavior legally purchased a gun. The problem is that someone murdered 17 people.

The problem is NOT that news media reported on it. The problem is not that the news media shared the stories of people who didn’t have a chance to share their own.

So, to Dana Loesch, and others who have a powerful voice in the media, let’s not divert blame. This is not a news media problem. This is America’s problem. We have a gun problem.

If we ever want to agree on a solution we must first agree on the problem. Perhaps the first thing we can agree on is that no one, in their right mind, loves mass shooting.

I think it is worth while to end this with one more quote. This one is from USA TODAY reporter Christal Hayes of McLean, VA.

“This job is never easy. Several journalists in my newsroom left shortly after the shooting. The continued coverage and search for answers gave us all nightmares and it was exhausting — both physically and emotionally — but I’ve never felt like my work was more important. My role was to try and make sense of something senseless, something that ripped my community and the rest of the nation apart.”


Is catch and kill fair?

Money has power, especially in the media.

Nothing better exemplifies that statement like the “catch and kill” strategy used in tabloid media. I’ll be honest i had never heard of this before until the other day when i was watching The View (yes, I’m 19 and i watch The View.)

After some research i could not really find a clear definition of what catch and kill is, however, it is pretty simple to explain.

“Catch and kill” refers to the tactic used in tabloid media where a publisher buys the rights to a story in order to keep it from coming out. Often times this is done as a favor to someone.

Recently this term has been swirling around in the media in relation to the National Enquirer spending $150,000 to buy the rights to a story about an alleged extramarital affair between Donald Trump and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Honestly, that story doesn’t shock me in the slightest, what did catch my attention was the tactic used to keep the story from running.

The first amendment guarantees the government will not limit the freedom of the press, but its okay if the National Enquirer does it? Listen, i understand a story about Donald Trump cheating on his wife isn’t groundbreaking, but it begs the question:

What else is being withheld from us?

Now i don’t enjoy being paranoid but i have a hard time accepting this tactic as a fair and ethical form of journalism. To me, this kind of practice could get out of hand fairly quickly.

I understand the naivety in my anger in this given that all media is essentially controlled by money but my particular problem is with selectivity of deciding that if a story isn’t friendly to someone then no one gets to see it.

The news cycle moves so fast that breaking news today is completely forgotten by tomorrow. My point being that as detrimental as a story may be, it most likely will be forgotten in the minds of most.

So, National Enquirer and others, hands off our news.

Let us know what’s going on. News now, damage control later, am i right?

News, Opinion

The White House PR problem: Saying goodbye to Hope Hicks

The Trump Administration is down one if its most illusive members: Hope Hicks, White House Communications Director, has left the west wing.

Hicks joins the ranks of the other fallen members of the Trump administrations who have either resigned/or been fired. A study done by Kathryn Dunn Tenpas of the Brooking Institute found that over one in three members of the Trump Administration have departed the White House.

Hicks, however, is different from the rest. She was one of the longest serving members of the Trump campaign and administration and also was well trusted by the president and his cabinet.

Nonetheless, Hicks was apart of the Trump White House and all the bad publicity missteps that came with it. Hicks herself even got caught up in a few.

Perhaps the first one was her involvement in the construction of a false statement to save Donald Trump Jr. from himself and his meeting with Russian lawyers. According to the New York Times:
“Aboard Air Force One on a flight home from Europe last July, President Trump and his advisers raced to cobble together a news release about a mysterious meeting at Trump Tower the previous summer between Russians and top Trump campaign officials. Rather than acknowledge the meeting’s intended purpose — to obtain political dirt about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government — the statement instead described the meeting as being about an obscure Russian adoption policy.”

Next we have her relationship with fellow departed Trump Administration member Rob Porter. This sort of business turned romantic relationship is off putting in it’s own right, now add in the fact that Rob Porter had a document history of domestic violence. A history that somehow didn’t cost him a security clearance and likely cost him his job.

Finally, just this week, prior to her resignation, she admitted to telling “white lies” for the president, but never about Russia. In the same testimony, she also refused to answer questions about the Trump transition team and her time at the White House.

Hope Hicks is only one example of the public relations and communications problem that has plagued the Trump White House since literally the inauguration last year. We all remember the Sean Spicer antics and the legend of Anthony Scaramucci.

As a viewer, this is reality television at it’s finest. As a U.S citizen, it’s troubling at the very least.

I don’t think there’s a clear answer as to why the Trump White House cannot seem to control it’s own narrative. Why have so many people resigned? Was there collusion? Did Sean Spicer really hide in a bush? Did Omarosa Manigault actually break into the white house?

Hopefully that last question gets answered on this season of Celebrity Big Brother.

Until then, enjoy Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer– I mean Spicey.


Gone Girl: Media & Perception

The first time i saw the movie Gone Girl in theaters, i was in a theater with maybe 15 people. During the films biggest plot twist, the entire theater let out an entire gasp, in unison. It was both the first and last time i experienced that in a movie. When i left the theater, it took me weeks to stop talking about the movie.

I bought it on DVD when it became available (yes, DVD. I probably could have just bought it on iTunes and maybe i wouldn’t have lost it) and i watched the movie maybe 6 other times. Each time i noticed a different theme or message.

The first time was probably the overplaying of the psycho wife character. The most prominent message i noticed was the role the media played in Amy’s disappearance. From the get go, Nick’s innocence was questioned, however, without evidence the media could not begin their smear campaign.

When Nick Dunne was formally charged with the murder of his wife, the media began its job. They altered truths within Nick’s life to fit the agenda they set and continued to discredit his character and his innocence. Furthermore, when Nick was proved innocent upon Amy’s return, the media abandoned its narratives and created a new one. To me, this echoed what typical happens anytime a women or child goes missing.

The media, justifiably, goes for the people closest to them for answers, however, often times it is taken too far. I am as guilty as anyone for over consuming media stories, and specifically crime stories. I do believe that the media exploits our obsession with crime and controversy, something the media willingly uses to their advantage.

The movie Gone Girl took on new meaning for me this past weekend, as i spent my Sunday binge watching the ABC News specials ‘Truth and Lies.’ One of the episodes feature the murder of Laci Peterson.

Even though the disappearance (and murder) of Laci Peterson occurred in my home state of California, I had never heard of the details of this case until i watched this special.

As i was watching, i began to realize the parallels between this case and the movie Gone Girl. Although the endings are different, decided to compile a list of parallels between the murder of Laci Peterson and the fictional disappearance of Amy Dunne in the movie Gone Girl.

Disclaimer: these are only some of the similarities, some of them may not make sense if you are not familiar with both the disappearance of Laci Peterson and the movie Gone Girl.

-Both women were pretty and young.
-Both women disappeared in their home while their husbands were out of the house.
-Both husbands were initially not suspects.
-Friends of the women disappeared had strong opinions on what had happened to the women.
-The homes of the women who disappeared were covered in blood.
-Both husbands were criticized by the media for their response to the disappearance of their wife.
-Both husbands were having an affair.
-Both lied to law enforcement about their affair.
-Both of their mistresses came forward in the media.
-Both women were “pregnant” at the time of their disappearance (if you’ve seen Gone Girl, you know why i have pregnant in quotations here.)
-Both husbands were criticized for their behavior at candle light vigils held for their missing wives.

Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn’s 2012 comments to Entertainment Weekly when asked if she modeled Gone Girl after any real life cases:

“I definitely didn’t want to do anything specific. One could point to Scott and Lacey Peterson — they were certainly a good-looking couple. But they’re always good-looking couples. That’s why they end up on TV. You don’t normally see incredibly ugly people who’ve gone missing and it becomes a sensation. It could be any number of those types of cases, but that was what kind of interested me: the selection and the packaging of a tragedy. In a way, I reverse-engineered some of it. What’s going to amp up the media’s interest in this, and what’s going to make it believable that the media’s going to descend on this?”