Culture

These 7 Subscription Services Will Make Your Life So Much Easier

By Vanessa Paredes

The subscription service model is simple; pay a monthly or yearly fee and get continuous services or product(s) in return. Companies like Birchbox spearheaded the subscription biz boom in the early twenty-tens and the rest is history.

Today, millions of Americas are happily subscribed to a box or five, which comes as no surprise considering the nation’s lust for the following three things: fast, convenient, and app-enabled.

With over 1,000 subscription boxes and tons of other services now available, it might be difficult to sift through the melee and figure out which ones are truly adding value to your life.

I have personally tried quite a few of them myself, and I can assure you that the following seven services are worth a try.

Harry’s

Our new, rubberized Truman handle means more grip and better control. Shower shavers rejoice!

A photo posted by Harry’s (@harrys) on

Harry’s is a no brainer for those who happen to grow hair on their bodies. Yes, that includes women. This service offers a variety of “shave plans” depending on how often you need to shave, and it is a lot more affordable than buying over-priced razors at the drugstore all the time.

Bonus: the razors themselves are beautifully designed and the blades boast a clean shave every time.

Blue Apron

Wrap up the weekend with a pita full of all the best Greek and Middle Eastern ingredients!

A photo posted by Blue Apron (@blueapron) on

Throw on your apron and get ready to cook like a pro. This food subscription box might give you sticker shock at first ($59.94 a week). But when you start breaking it down, it makes sense.

You get 3 meals a week for two people, meaning each meal is under $10 per person.

If you happen to already be eating out or going to the grocery store regularly, chances are you spend more than that already without reaping the Blue Apron benefits: fresh pre-portioned ingredients delivered to you weekly that actually teach you how to cook like a chef.

Amazon Prime

Some advice as we head into the weekend ? #Regram from the talented @engineeronbreak #AmazonPrime

A photo posted by Amazon (@amazon) on


Prime may not be actual subscription box, but the benefits of having a membership are so rewarding that it had to be included in the list. Not only is two day free shipping a complete lifesaver for last minute gifts, but you also get tons of free movies and shows as well as access to Amazon Pantry and Amazon Now which will eliminate the need to drive to a store ever again.

Class Pass

Jumping for joy to have an extra day this year! #leapday #leapyear Studio: @bounceinc

A photo posted by ClassPass (@classpass) on


Its not all about making life easier, sometimes is about making life healthier. If you are looking for a subscription service that gives you the most bang for your buck, class pass is the way to go. It allows member to attend unlimited fitness classes a month, with options ranging from Yoga, to Spinning, to Zumba all over your respective city.

Trunk Club

When you look good, you feel good—and when you feel good, you break barriers. #MondayMotivation

A photo posted by Trunk Club (@trunkclub) on

In a way this is a free subscription service for men who hate going to the mall. How it works: you receive a “trunk” filled with clothes, belts and shoes in your size and style to then try on. Pay for what you want to keep and return the rest. It’s pretty simple and awfully convenient.

Birchbox

Makeup junkies rejoice, Birchbox is a super affordable way to try top of the line products and decide which ones are worth the purchase. Shopping for cosmetics can get tricky when you aren’t sure how certain products will affect your skin or look throughout the day. Birchbox saves the day by letting you try a gamut of items every month for only $10. Plus, you can take these minis with you when you travel as an added benefit.

Netflix

? #netflixandchill

A photo posted by Netflix US (@netflix) on

If you are looking to make your life easier by saving money and you haven’t cut the cord already, you need to listen up: stop paying for cable and switch to Netflix. The streaming service is a respectable replacement for that little black box costing you a fortune in your living room.

Japan Needs To Have A Lot More Sex Or The Country Could Collapse Into The Sea

The Japanese population is rapidly declining.

The population has lost almost one million people over the past five years.

This decline has been long predicted by demographers but the world’s third largest economy has been unable to find a solution.

The situation is dire and hard to overstate.

If Japan can’t start having many more babies then the country will face great challenges later on in the century. These challenges could undermine the very core of the country’s social order.

Japan has one of the world’s lowest fertility rates, 1.41 children per woman in 2012.

As a result, the number of people 65 and over has increased from 12.1% in 1990 to 26% in 2014.

Furthermore, estimates put Japan’s retirement age population at 40% of the total national population by 2060.

This would likely put a tremendous burden on Japan’s social safety net, state pensions alone being ¥792,100 per year ($6,960.76). This accounts for nearly 33% of Japan’s national budget in 2015 and it will only continue to balloon as the years roll on.

Having to cope with close to half of your population being in need of geriatric care is not a problem exclusive to Japan.

There is a lot of pressure on young people in Japan to have more children. But will they listen? Photo Credit: J3SSL33/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

There is a lot of pressure on young people in Japan to have more children. But will they listen? Photo Credit: J3SSL33/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

China recently revoked and replaced its One Child Policy, with the Two Child Policy.

In part this is to combat China’s low fertility rates, 1.66 births per woman, and in part to counter act the imbalance between the number of men and women, a 30 million person disparity.

Other low fertility countries include, but are not limited to: Singapore (0.81), South Korea (1.18), Germany (1.44), Russia (1.61), The United States (1.87), and the United Kingdom (1.89). All of these nations have fertility rates incapable of sustaining their current populations without immigration helping to offset the disparity.

Elderly populations then are not only a threat to the economic growth of Japan, but to advanced economies in general.

It would then seem that in order to combat global population decline, and with a greater number of developing nations creating advanced economies, nations may need to compete for immigrants in order to sustain their populations.

This may be particularly difficult for Japan, due to the relative difficulty in learning its national language, and a culture that is not as used to welcoming immigrants as many of its potential competitors.

Of course the other way for Japan to get back to an equilibrium in terms of old and young is to have young people have more children- lots more children. The government has tried many different methods, including offering to pay parents to have kids, but it has had little impact.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Freedom II Andres/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

New Production of Phantom of the Opera Comes to the Adrienne Arsht Center

 By Michelle de Carion

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera is the longest running musical on Broadway, and it is continuing its legacy by gracing the stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami from February 24-March 6.

Cameron Mackintosh produced this new version in celebration of Phantom’s 25th anniversary, and it has received positive reviews since it started the North American tour in 2014.

Mackintosh said in a statement to Playbill, “After a glorious celebration of 25 phenomenal years on Broadway with no end in sight, I’m delighted to be able to bring this dazzling new production of Phantom — which has been phenomenally well-received by both audiences and critics in the U.K. this past year — to America.

With an exciting new design and staging, retaining amazing costumes, I am confident American audiences will fall in love with the Phantom in his new guise — for the first time or all over again.”

The Phantom of the Opera is based on the classic French novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, and tells the tale of a beautiful soprano, Christine Daaé, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House.

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Mackintosh said that he’s given Phantom a makeover because there are opportunities to do things in different ways that they couldn’t do in 1986. Technology has changed, and now they can use it to create a more realistic version of the Phantom’s world.

This Phantom features a brilliant new scenic design by Paul Brown, Tony Award®-winning original costume design by Maria Björnson, lighting design by Tony Award®-winner Paule Constable, new choreography by Scott Ambler, and a new staging by director Laurence Connor.

The production, overseen by Matthew Bourne and Cameron Mackintosh, boasts many exciting special effects including the show’s legendary chandelier. The beloved story and thrilling score – with songs like “Music of the Night,” “All I Ask Of You,” and “Masquerade” – will be performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this Phantom one of the largest productions now on tour.

IF YOU GO:

Tickets start at $34*

Ziff Ballet Opera House

Adrienne Arsht Center

1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL 33132

For tickets visit www.arshtcenter.org, or call the Box Office at (305) 949-6722

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

White People: Beyoncé’s “Formation” Is Not For Us. Get Over It

By Kelsey D’Auben

A few weeks back, Beyoncé appeared at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show alongside Bruno Mars and Coldplay.

She performed her latest single “Formation,” which dropped the day before.

Her halftime performance was accompanied by a group of all-black back-up dancers wearing costumes, which appeared to be replica Black Panther’s uniforms of the 1960s as a tribute for Black History Month.

These dancers costumes and the Black Lives Matter inspired “Formation” music video sparked outrage, even forming it’s own #BoycottBeyoncé hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.

“I thought it was really outrageous that she used it (the halftime show) as a platform to attack police officers,” Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said on Fox & Friends.  “Who are the people who protect her and protect us and keep us alive.”

JPEGScreen Shot 2016-02-16 at 1.09.20 AM

A scene from the “Formation” music video.

Giuliani is not alone in believing that Beyoncé went too far in her performance.

Some claim that Beyoncé paying tribute to the Black Panthers on stage that night was “racist” and use the argument that what she did was the equivalent of a white performer on stage with back-up dancers dressed as KKK members.

However, these (mostly) white critics fail to even try to understand the most important part of “Formation”; that it’s not about us as white people.

First and foremost, the Black Panthers are not the black Equivalent to the KKK.

The Black Panther Party was formed in 1966 as an active response to institutionalized racism and police violent against the black community.

JPEGScreen Shot 2016-02-16 at 1.06.14 AM

They were created to monitor and challenge police brutality, as well as create more opportunities for the black community by instituting community social programs. The Klu Klux Klan is a white supremacy group, which still exists even today, that openly committed acts of violence and terror against minority groups in America.

Although the Black Panthers did have a much different set of ideals when it came to how to handle protesting their oppression and were known to be much less peaceful than those such as Martin Luther King Jr., the Black Panthers and the KKK are not even remotely similar groups.

That being said, the entire premise of “Formation” is about the experience of being a black woman in America and being empowered and proud of their culture and heritage.

The video is set in Louisiana and has been inspired by the “Black Lives Matter” movement. It shows beautiful images of life and culture in the black community there.

One of the most powerful images, which coincidentally sparked the most controversy, is of a small black boy dancing before a line of white police officers who hold their hands up in surrender to the boy. This is then closely followed by an image of wall graffiti, which reads “Stop Shooting Us.”

JPEG Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 1.24.43 AM

Many people are angry over the video because of these images. They claim that the video portrays police officers, and in general all white-people, in a bad light because the only white people in the entire video were these police officers.

This song and video are about being black and we, as white people, have no say in how that experience is felt or how they tell their own stories. Because they aren’t about us.

Instead of getting offended at this image and trying to defend ourselves as “good guys” by arguing that “not all cops” or “not all white people” we, as a group, need to stop talking, take a step back, and listen to what is trying to be said.

Take this opportunity as a chance to listen and learn, instead of getting defensive and making their stories about us.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Beyoncé/ Youtube (Screengrab)

Secret Garden Promises More Enchantment In Celebration Of Its Three-Year Anniversary

The most attended yet secretive pop-up party during Wynwood’s Art Walk, Secret Garden, celebrates its three-year anniversary, welcoming all experience seekers to an “Enchanted” journey.

On February 13th, starting at 7pm until 3am, Secret Garden’s creators bring the Enchanted edition to one of Wynwood’s most exclusive venues, MANA. This Kylie Jenner-approved venue spans over six acres with 32-foot ceilings and is known for bringing Miami’s culture to life by hosting high-quality productions.

Enchanted brings you an innovative kind of art walk, different from any before. As soon as you step into MANA, you will be transported into the magical world of Alice in Wonderland, feeling the eerie moss underneath your feet as the enchanting forest swarms over you. Siglo will be presenting Down the Rabbit Hole with a full on maze incorporated into the art gallery, as well as a special installation presented by Poetry of I.

After finding your way out of the Rabbit Hole, guests are invited to the Mad Hatter Tea Party taking place on the main stage with a special performance by PILLOWTALK, Superlounge and many more.

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Photo courtesy of MANA Wynwood.

“The amount of creativity at Secret Garden feeds off one another, giving a truly amazing experience,” Secret Garden co-founder Matthew Ohashi said. “We bring together the best talent Miami has to offer, and since our inception three years ago, we have stayed true to our motto of supporting the local artist.”

This art walk experience is designed to have guests trembling on their feet at the intricate details of this garden.

Enchanted invites art walk enthusiasts to escape the hectic city life for a night to explore one-of-a-kind art installations in the mysterious Secret Garden, while indulging in Miami’s finest artists, musicians, performers, and craft food & beer vendors.

Limited free passes and more information are available on EventBrite. You can also share your RSVP with friends on Facebook.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Secret Garden/ Facebook

90’s Kids’ Obsession With Nostalgia Is Actually Pretty Weird

By Kelsey D’Auben

Later this month Netflix will be premiering it’s newest series Fuller House, a spin-off series of one of the 90’s most popular sitcoms Full House, which will star the complete original cast (minus the Olsen twins.)

This is only the latest in the trend of rebooting old movies and television series from the 1990’s.

Sci-fi shows like The X-Files and Twin Peaks have reboots out this year, it was announced that Friends would have a reunion show, and this week Tyra Banks confirmed via Twitter than a Lifesize 2, a sequel to the famous Disney Channel original movie, is happening.

And all these announcements have every true 90’s kid very excited to see these classics back on screen.

Television and movies aren’t the only pieces of the past that 90’s kids cling on to. Over the past few years trends that should have died with a change in the millennium are making their comeback.

Grown adults are now playing Pokémon video games, wearing denim overalls and plastic choker necklaces, while listening to Backstreet Boys on repeat. And this doesn’t seem to just be an instance of popular fashion trends cycling back.

The way today’s young adults are not seeming to just take this as a fun way to honor their pasts, but we seem to have an obsession with going back to it.

Photo Credit: lix -/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The height of cool. Not. Photo Credit: lix -/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Millennials are a generation who seem to be in denial about moving forward and clinging onto the nostalgia of the past.

Sure, once a generation reaches adulthood they all seem to enjoy reminiscing on aspects of their youth, like the Baby Boomers and their Classic Rock.

So what is it that fuels this need for today’s generation to relive the past? Well, Millennials experienced their childhoods much differently than any generation before us.

Along with stretching over two different decades, centuries, and millenniums we grew up in what felt like two different worlds.

Photo Credit: Jörg Schubert/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Jörg Schubert/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

We are the generation that lived half of our childhood without the digital revolution, and the other half of our youth in a world completely run by it.

We became the generation that bridged the technological gap. Because of this, we long for the simplicity that we were able to experience early in our lives.

And we achieve this through re-living the aspects of 90’s culture, such as television, movies, games, and fashion.

But it is all a little bit strange, isn’t it? And perhaps a bit lazy on our part as well.

Cover Photo Credit: David Amsler/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Here’s What Valentine’s Day Is Like For A Person In A Polyamorous Relationship

By Julia Fox

Still believe that exclusivity is necessary for deep, committed, long-term and loving relationships? The modern divorce rate of 50% says otherwise.

As traditional Valentine’s Day-themed pink and red greeting cards replace the tired Christmas & New Year colors on the stands of stores, most of us are anticipating (or dreading) the invasion of our social networks and television with the typical romantic scenarios of exchanging gifts, kisses and love messages between two lovers of the opposite or the same sex. Very few of us ever imagine the holiday routine in relationships where there are more than two lovers involved.

The images of cheating two-timers running between the deceived spouse and the scheming mistress aside, we are hardly bombarded nowadays by pictures of non-traditional family unions, such as polyamorous families, where the conventional Valentine’s day gift exchange is a little bit more complicated.

Polyamorous unions where ethical and responsible non-monogamy… are estimated to have around 1.2 to 2.4 million followers in the United States alone.

Polyamorous unions where ethical and responsible non-monogamy is practiced with knowledge and consent of everyone involved are estimated to have around 1.2 to 2.4 million followers in the United States alone.

How do polyamorous relationships come about? I am sure it is rarely a case of waking up one morning with your partner snoring by your side and deciding ‘why not add to the duo.’ The stories of people entering into the polyamorous unions are as many and varied as those embarking on conventional ones.

The beginning of my polyamorous relationship was a case of almost choking on toast one morning after my husband of 10 years admitted to having a homosexual relationship back in his college years with a Ukrainian man named Sasha.

Skipping through the finding Sasha story and straight into the reality of maintaining a household and a life with two partners and, yes, surviving a Valentine’s day together, the polyamorous relationship with a bi-sexual partner and a homosexual one who spent all of his life in the closet became an adventure for me worth sharing.

Almost all of us enter into a romantic union with the desire to be happy and to make our partners happy. Unfortunately, helping Sasha “come out of the closet” and leave the Ukraine was a huge struggle due to the severe psychological repercussions of concealing his sexuality since he was a young teen.

Photo Credit: Roy Blumenthal/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Roy Blumenthal/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Dreading being ostracized by the community, fearing shame, physical torture and even imprisonment, creating a heterosexual family and dissociating himself from the gay community altogether made Sasha (and many thousands of his compatriots) the broken man that he was when he joined our family. Thus, welcoming Sasha into our union and expecting a ‘happy-ever-after’ was just as irrational as anticipating an unclouded happiness in any relationship once the wedding bells quiet down.

Each person comes into a relationship, whether it is a traditional one or less then so, with one’s own baggage of expectations based on childhood memories, literature, social media and a load of personal traumatic experiences and their consequences, and thus Sasha joined us with the full baggage of his own.

Being forced into a traditional marriage by his parents and living his life as a heterosexual man affected Sasha’s mental health and contributed to the development of a whole range of mental issues, such as dissociation, depression, internalized homophobia, self-disgust, self-hatred and denial of one’s sexual orientation to oneself and others. There conditions are commonplace in persons with repressed sexual orientation, according to many prominent psychiatrists.

Sasha exhibited all kinds of issues, such as low self-esteem, negative body image and contempt for the more open LGBT members who decided to come out years before. More importantly, Sasha had a tendency to deny that homophobia was a serious social problem altogether. Remaining in a heterosexual relationship for most of his life in an attempt to pass as ‘normal’ and to gain social approval, Sasha became chronically depressed and took to heavy drinking. His fear of intimacy and his suicidal thoughts presented a bigger challenge and a threat to our union.

My brief relationship with Sasha opened my eyes to the many aspects of homosexuality and the life paths that LGBT men and women choose in the parts of the world where homosexuality is still considered an abnormality.

My brief relationship with Sasha opened my eyes to the many aspects of homosexuality and the life paths that LGBT men and women choose in the parts of the world where homosexuality is still considered an abnormality.

The freedoms that sexual minorities are enjoying in the majority of democratic countries today are precious and unheard of in such places as Ukraine, Russia, Belorussia, Azerbaijan and other post-Soviet territories. Giving American LGBT members a glimpse into the lives of those who are less fortunate and still struggle for their rights might be an eye-opening experience this Valentine’s day. 

Sasha’s arrival in our life, the life of a typical monogamous heterosexual couple, meant re-imagining our relationship, challenging traditional marriage, sexuality and love itself. All three of us had to learn to navigate and explore the challenges and complexities of a polyamorous reality together against a backdrop of cultural and societal expectations and judgments.

Examining and questioning the dynamic and often challenging elements of marriage, relationships and acceptance, are just a few issues that polyamorous unions might bring out into the discussion.

Julia Fox immigrated from Russia in her late teens, settling in the United States in the early 90s. She published two books of poetry before leaving her home country, both in Russian, and published two more in English language after immigrating. And Then There Were Three: Sixty Seven Letters to Sasha is her first autobiographical memoir. 

For more information about And Then There Were Three: Sixty-Seven Letters to Sasha, please visit Julia Fox’s websiteFacebook and Twitter pages. 

Cover Photo Credit: Roy Blumenthal/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Dashed Dreams: How My “Audition” For A Reality Show Opened Up My Eyes To The Fleeting Fame Of The Genre

We are all inherently narcissistic whether we choose to admit it or not.

The appeal of being famous has crossed our minds, especially mine.

I can remember the first time I saw MTV’s The Real World when I was about 8 years old. At that age, I thought it was a cool idea to be on television and live in Hawaii.

And as I got older, my understanding of the concept of the show, as well as the growing scope of reality television made me think I would be great for reality television.

The realm of reality television is so vast from reality competition programs (i.e. The Bachelor, Survivor) to reality social experiments (i.e. Big Brother, The Real World) to reality docu-dramas (Sister Wives, The Real Housewives) and a mix between reality and scripted (i.e. The Hills, Duck Dynasty).

Lastly, there’s the celebrity driven reality show documenting any given celebrity train wreck (i.e. Lindsay Lohan). You name it, I’ve watched it, binged it, digested them all. I’ve also learned from my countless hours of viewing what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to being on reality television.

When I finally turned 18 years old, the floodgates of reality television applications opened. The possibilities were endless. As I said in the beginning of the story, I was fascinated by The Real World.

I told everyone and anyone that I was going to be on the show. I even won “Most Dramatic” during my senior superlatives.

I had the bumper sticker hanging on my wall at home that said “what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real?” (A phrase from the opening sequence of the show.)

The stars should have aligned right?

I should also note that I take the Jeopardy online test at least once a year, in hopes of winning some big money. Unfortunately I have never gotten past the initial test. I’ll enjoy sitting at home shouting out both incorrect and correct answers from the comfort of my couch, much to the amusement of my girlfriend.

Every season I would fill out my application and hear nothing. I googled casting tips (prior to the ease of access of Twitter and Reddit), then moved my stalking to Twitter for any tidbits from former castmastes, production company employees, even going as far as engaging in borderline harassment to get their attention.

I was a man possessed by a dream.

I was a man possessed by a dream.

I took it another step further and drove two hours to casting calls in hopes of being discovered. That didn’t work out as I had hoped.

I was not going to give up though.

As we entered the Spring of 2014, a new opportunity to apply for the next season arose and a a chance of turning nothing into something was mine.

For three days, I sat and contemplated what I wanted my application to say.

This was my first impression, and I wanted to make it count. With the rise of Vine and Instagram and these “instant-fame” outlets, it was becoming harder and harder to stand out and be unique.

I also knew that as a loyal viewer of the show that I needed to have a voice. One that was definitely out front and center. After a lot of internalization and mini panic attacks, I finally clicked submit and awaited my fate.

Two weeks later I received the most incredible e-mail I thought I could ever receive.

Having received what I assumed was my own version of the “Golden Ticket,” I drove two hours to the casting to what turned out to be the most shoddy and poorly run event I had ever been to.

The “VIP” wasn’t VIP at all. I had to wait around just like everyone else did who walked in off the street. I wasn’t given any preferential treatment. I was treated like a regular person. It was extremely disappointing.

Yes, I was guaranteed to go into the casting room, but it was in a large group setting with 10 other people and they ask you ONE question. In what world does that mean VIP?

Sitting there in that group interview listening to people talk about their strained relationships, drug and alcohol addictions, lavish lifestyles (and how they got them) made me realize I’M TOO NORMAL for reality television.

Reality TV is a rotten industry and it isn't getting any better as social media continues to mature. Photo Credit: Mario Goebbels/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Reality TV is a rotten industry and it isn’t getting any better as social media continues to mature. Photo Credit: Mario Goebbels/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Reality television is an abyss that sucks it’s cast members and spits them out at a rapid pace. Look at any of The Real Housewives.

Over the course of numerous locales and countless replaceable women, their relationships with their loved ones soured and ended, they file for bankruptcy, get bad plastic surgery, and the list goes on and on.

The most infamous reality television contestant, Richard Hatch, was sentenced to federal prison on tax evasion.

These of course are the most dramatic and most noteworthy of what life is like after reality television.  Look at the girls on America’s Next Top Model for instance; did any of them truly become household names? The Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants vie for the opportunity to be the next man or woman looking for love and maybe a summer in a nice house to win some money by being awful human beings.

The cast of Big Brother and Survivor, two staples of the 2000s, have seen their fair share of racists, bigots and homophobes.

If you were to search for any of the cast members from any MTV or ABC reality show on social media, their accounts are filled with them posing for cheesy selfies hocking whatever product they’re getting paid to advertise, or their promoting bar and club appearances.

Many go back to their real lives, the ones they left prior to their television debuts, hoping their time on television doesn’t come back to haunt them.

The most glaring issue with reality television is that it gives people a false sense of security.

For the viewers, it’s an escape from their daily lives by watching other people ruin their own, while those on the programs we watch are hoping to change their lives financially by participating on these shows. They don’t often consider the long-term effects of their appearance.

For better or for worse, reality television will continue to be around, but the men and women who grace our screens will be scratching to extend their 15 minutes of fame. A fame I no longer find desirable, especially if I need to make a mockery of myself to attain it.

The actress Meagan Good said it best: “make sure your desire to do what you’re aspiring to do is deeper than just fame and being a celebrity.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Justin March/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

How David Bowie Helped Me Figure Out Who I Am

Whenever somebody tells me that they don’t like David Bowie, I just can’t help but think that they’re wrong.

And I don’t mean wrong in the sense that they disagree with my personal conviction that he’s the coolest musician of all time. I mean objectively, demonstrably wrong.

That’s because Mr. Bowie did it all, and he did it all really well. You name it, he tried it, and everyone can find at least one ambassador to their personal tastes from among his six-decade exploration and expansion of the potentials of musical performance. I’ve always felt that if you don’t like Bowie, you just haven’t listened to enough.

The tried-and-true trope is to call a consistently seamless genre-shifter like Mr. Bowie a “musical chameleon,” but that really doesn’t give him enough credit. Chameleons blend in with their surroundings. Bowie did everything but.

The tried-and-true trope is to call a consistently seamless genre-shifter like Mr. Bowie a “musical chameleon,” but that really doesn’t give him enough credit. Chameleons blend in with their surroundings. Bowie did everything but.

When he decided he wanted to try his hand at a certain sound, he didn’t mimic it: He learned from it, determined what it had to offer, and then shaped it to suit his will.

His personas (of which there were many) were often larger than life, his costumes (of which there were even more) often outlandish.

But Bowie never once allowed his own identity – personal or stage – to take precedence over what the songs meant to his listeners.

He always made sure to leave room for everybody – whether they were square or weird, gay or straight, naïve or world-weary – to formulate an image of themselves in his characters and in his art.

The lyrics of songs like “Space Oddity” or “Starman” each tell a story, but these songs and many more have all blossomed into millions of stories in and of themselves, representing as many different snapshots of a particular triumph or struggle, romance or heartbreak as there are people who have listened to and found a sliver of their own identity within them.

I know I’ll never forget the pure joy of singing and bobbing along to “Let’s Dance” with Mom one night during our drive home from an away soccer game my junior year of high school.

I know I’ll never forget the pure joy of singing and bobbing along to “Let’s Dance” with Mom one night during our drive home from an away soccer game my junior year of high school.

Or mining Bowie’s affirmation that “You’re not alone!” in the chorus of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” for every shred of consolation it could offer following her passing from cancer just four years later.

Or the sense of mischievous satisfaction earned by slipping “Lady Grinning Soul” onto a Christmas gift mixtape CD for my grandparents last year, gambling correctly that, wooed by the classical piano and flamenco guitar, they would overlook the song’s slightly slinky lyrical content.

For those memories and many more, thank you, David Bowie.

Mr. Bowie may have cooked up all of his songs and characters and stories and put them together, but they have always ultimately been ours.

It could be that behind all of the hairdos, outfits, and makeup, we never really knew him.

But what makes David Bowie truly important to so many is that he helped us to know us.

And no matter how much I listen to him, I’ll always feel that I just haven’t listened to enough.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Eden, Janine and Jim/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Why Star Wars Proves There Is Success In Diversity In The Movie Industry

By Kelsey D’Auben

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has become one of the most successful films in modern movie history.

It had the most successful opening weekend in history, grossing over $200 million in box office sales worldwide. This past week the highly anticipated Star Wars sequel broke yet another box office record, passing both Jurassic World and Titanic to become the second most grossing film of all time. And with this after only 19 days of being in theaters, Star Wars is also expected to pass James Cameron’s Avatar and claim the number one spot shortly.

A new trilogy means one sure thing in the Star Wars world- a new trio set to save the galaxy from the dark side.

First came Luke, Leia, and Han Solo in episodes IIV, X, and XI, then Obi Wan, Anakin, and Padame in episodes I, II, and III.

In The Force Awakens we are introduced to the new team- Rey, Finn, and Poe.

This new group of leading characters is much different than the ones before them. They are made up of a Black man, a Hispanic man, and a woman. This is a significantly more diverse cast than the saga’s previous films that had casts that were nearly all white.

Not to say that this film doesn’t have a largely white cast as well. Rey, the female lead of the film, is white and so are Leia and Han Solo, previous lead characters brought back from the original saga.

Star Wars has always been sure to include strong, kick ass, fighter women in their films.

But this time the role wasn’t of the girl who fell for the Jedi, or the princess who needed saving.

Rey isn’t either of those tropes. Rey is (spoiler alert) the young Jedi discovering her powers – a role traditionally only given to the white male characters.

This kind of representation is a crucial aspect of film and television that often is ignored, especially in big budget blockbuster movies. Nearly every other film on the most-grossing films list alongside Star Wars have all-white, mostly male casts.

Titanic, Jurassic World, and Avengers to name a few. For films that are meant to make money and sell a lot of tickets, they seem to only be marketing towards a select few.

That is one reason why Star Wars is gaining more success over it’s competitors. A wider and more diverse cast is more attractive to wider and more diverse audiences.

More people will be willing to go to the movies and spend $15 dollars on a ticket because they see there is a character there for them, someone they can watch and relate to.

This representation is even more important to younger audiences. Seeing a hero who looks like you, up on the big screen, can mean the world to a child. It gives them someone they can look up to.

Star Wars is the first in what will hopefully become a new wave of representation in television and film, opening doors for new actors and audiences of all genders and colors and creating an industry where everyone is represented and welcome.

Cover Photo Credit: DAVID HOLT/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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