Fresh Off the Boat


Fresh Off The Boat is one of the newest ABC sitcoms. It comes to the network from Nahnatchka Khan, who based the show off of chef Eddie Huang’s memoir of the same name. Though the title suggests a family of immigrants just arriving to the United States, the show follows the lives of the Chinese Huang family after their move from Chinatown in Washington D.C. to Orlando in the mid-1990’s. It centers on their struggle to assimilate to a new culture, while also having much more similar sitcom tropes such as difficulties fitting in at school, challenges running a successful business, and issues surrounding parenting.

Though the show revolves around hip-hop fanatic, 11 year old Eddie (Hudson Yang)–who, despite being young, has a sharp wit to him–the episodes all have the theme of assimilation central to their plots in one way or another. Eddie, for instance, is trying to fit in with the kids around him in school. His mother (Constance Wu) is trying to fit into the new white culture that she has found herself surrounded by.…

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There’s something fascinating about decay. Maybe it’s the way  man-made things look as they revert back to their natural states, maybe it’s the idea of the slow but inevitable aging process which is often augmented by neglect, maybe it’s just the thought that everything meets the same end but gets there in different ways. Regardless, there is something aesthetically beautiful about things that are not typically considered aesthetically beautiful. Like when a person is conventionally unattractive, but just has ‘something’ about him, there is a raw character about these objects that would not be visible under a fresh coat of paint.

I chose to use a macro lens while taking these pictures, because (besides the fact that I had just gotten the new lens and was really excited to use it) I wanted to capture these subjects the way someone would capture a conventionally beautiful thing, like a dewdrop on a piece of grass, or a flower petal.…

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A Problem In Video Game Scholarship


I’ve said it a million times and I’ll probably say it a million more: Video games as a medium are constantly being dumped on. Too many people write them off as children’s toys, unworthy of serious attention and potential for analysis. That’s part of the reason why I’m writing my senior thesis on the modern military shooter genre. I want video games to be taken as seriously as any piece of literature or any film could be. In my thesis, I’m looking specifically at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Spec Ops: The Line and analyzing their uses of violence and how they justify themselves. What’s sad is that it seems like a lot of other critics and scholars aren’t willing to put similar time and effort into seriously analyzing the works about which they’re writing.

Often critics will overly simplify and generalize their discussions about games. Many readings of modern military shooters approach games of this genre merely as extensions of the US military complex, ignoring other narrative or ludic nuances embedded in them.…

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A City of Desolation: J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year


A Most Violent Year is an exercise in that 1970s New Hollywood style that has become so common in recent films that it may as well now be a considered a contemporary genre of its own. Dark lighting, steady shots, gritty urban realism, a political atmosphere, and a cynical and stark worldview are all attributes of The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Dog Day Afternoon, and Serpico, amongst others, and A Most Violent Year utilizes all of them, which weighs on the film heavily.

A Most Violent Year is about the young owner of a growing oil company, Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), whose trucks are being hijacked, men beaten, and oil stolen just as he is trying to close a deal on a riverfront property. He’s losing money; his drivers are getting nervous; he’s showing vulnerability. Adding to that, the DA’s office is bringing up charges against him for possible illegal activities. The year of the title is 1981, which was one of the most violent in New York City’s history.…

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Frames of Reference


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It is rare that I make a complete collage when I spend a night or afternoon in my basement—my makeshift studio—attempting to do so. I usually end up flipping through dozens of magazines, ripping out images that catch my eye and storing them for later use. However, when I do have an idea, it usually doesn’t take more than an hour or two to cut everything out and put the pieces together.

I primarily use images from LIFE (late 1960s-90s) and National Geographic (1930s-present) magazines in my collages. I have an enormous stack of images from these magazines that are organized in four categories: figures, frames, backgrounds, and miscellaneous. Figures, the most numerous of the four, are typically the most important. They are often the seed of a collage idea. A good figure simply has to be an image that I can alter in a meaningful and aesthetically pleasing way.…

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Remembering the Breakfast Club


Let’s do an experiment. Step one; shove five people who appear to have absolutely nothing in common into one room for ninety-seven minutes. We’ll have one jock, one “princess”, one “brain”, one “basket-case” and throw in a “criminal” just for good measure. Step two; watch them argue, dance, and unload their emotional baggage in attempt to relate to each other. Now, what do you get? (Hint: it’s not a reality show). You get one of the most iconic films to ever grace pop culture, the 1985 John Hughes masterpiece, The Breakfast Club.

“In the simplest terms and most convenient definitions”, The Breakfast Club is a movie about five high schoolers that spend a day in detention together. At first they practically despise each other, but as the day unfolds they each let their guards down, revealing how underneath their labels they all face similar issues of neglect, and all would just like to be validated. I guarantee that the actual film is a lot less cliché than its simplistic synopsis makes it out to be.…

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