Jessica Jones: The Female Super Hero We All Really Need

By Kelsey D’Auben

Last month Netflix premiered it’s latest collaboration project with Marvel Comics- Marvel’s Jessica Jones.

Starring Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, the show follows a troubled New York private investigator who doesn’t play by the rules and also happens to have super strength and the ability to (kind of) fly.

Jessica Jones is the first female lead in the Marvel cinematic universe with special abilities. But her super powers are not what makes her so special.

Jessica Jones isn’t a super hero. She doesn’t wear a cape, or fight evil villains who are trying to take over the world. The evil Jessica Jones faces is a very real one, one that many real women face everyday. Jessica Jones isn’t trying to save mankind from a super evil mastermind; she is fighting against her abuser.

Kilgrave is the notorious villain of the show played by David Tennant. He has the power of mind-control and throughout the show viewers are shown flashbacks of Kilgrave and Jessica’s past “relationship” when she was under his control.

Not only does he force her to commit violent and heinous crimes, including murder, he also forces her into an abusive relationship. Using his powers he forces her to stay by his side while he tells her what to wear, when to smile, and even forces her to have sex with him. He controls her every move, all the while she remains helpless and unable to fight back.

She is able to escape from him, but only to suffer from PTSD accompanied by severe alcoholism, isolation, and insomnia for months after. When Kilgrave makes his return he wants only one thing – Jessica back. And he’ll do anything or hurt anyone to get her. He justifies all his horrific actions because he is doing so out of “love” for her.

Now, if you eliminate the superpowers and car chases from the show, the relationship between Jessica Jones and Kilgrave is very much real. He abuses her, but not physically. He never lays a finger on her because he doesn’t have to.

Everything Kilgrave does to Jessica are things that happen to people in mentally and emotionally abusive relationships. The way he obsesses over her and stalks her, the way he isolates her from her friends, when she tries to go to the police they don’t believe her, how he honestly believes he loves her, and how after all of the terrible things he has done to her Jessica genuinely believe it’s her fault.

Mental and emotional abusive tend to be overlooked when discussing issues of abuse in relationship. But they are just as harmful and need to be talked about, and that is why Jessica Jones is so important. This show brings to light real terrors that face women every day and show a realistic woman fighting against them.

And that is why Jessica Jones is one of the most important characters that Marvel has ever had.

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Cover Photo Credit: Facebook/ Marvel’s Jessica Jones


Person Who Lobbed School Bomb Threat Hoax At NYC Was Likely A Weird “Homeland” Fan

New York City officials dismissed the bomb threat its own public schools and Los Angeles schools received Monday as a hoax likely concocted by a fan of the Showtime drama “Homeland.” New York City public schools did not close down any of its campuses Tuesday but the same threat prompted Los Angeles Unified School District to… Read More

No, Star Wars Is Not Racist

By Chris Beacham

MSNBC anchor Melissa Harris-Perry on Saturday insinuated that she had issues with the Star Wars series because of, in her view, racially motivated subtext related to the character of Darth Vader.

Harris-Perry said:

“While he was black he was terrible and bad, awful and used to cut off white men’s hands, and didn’t actually claim his son. But as soon as he claims his son, goes over to the good, takes off his mask and he is white — yes, I have many feelings about that.”


Harris-Perry also said that the fact that actor James Earl Jones voiced the character, and is black, is important for framing her views as well. As a casual Star Wars fan, I can testify that Ms. Perry has no real understanding of the mythology she is so offended by.

Perry also seemed to feel that wookies, like Chewbacca, are black. This is nuts.

First of all, the moment she is referencing where Vader is unmasked is from Return of the Jedi, the third film in the original trilogy and the sixth episode of the saga.

If one were to analyze the films in the order they were released, the second film of the originals, The Empire Strikes Back, is when it was first revealed that Darth Vader is really Luke Skywalker’s father.

In the chronological order, the audience would know from the prequels that Darth Vader is truly Anakin Skywalker, the father of Luke and Leia Skywalker.

Darth Vader claims Luke as his son in The Empire Strikes Back, in which he is not unmasked. This makes Perry’s claim that the moment Vader claims his son he “becomes white” completely false. One can also assume Vader wanted to claim his son throughout, but did not have the opportunity to confront Luke until this moment in the story.

It is also important to look at diversity throughout all six films. Using Perry’s twisted views on color, race, and implicit meanings in storytelling, we can use multiple instances that prove her views to be false.

Throughout the original three films, every person who works for the empire is white. For one, the stormtroopers, soldiers of the evil fascist empire, have white suits and masks. Darth Sidious, the true mastermind behind the rise of the empire, who Vader also answers to, is white.

Darth Sidious was once Chancellor Palpatine, a corrupt politician in the galactic senate, and he was white then, too. Although there is a minor skin tone change once he becomes Sidious, he is still caucasian, and arguably more evil than Vader. Yes, Vader does cut off a hand, but so does the evil Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones, and he is white.

The character Lando Calrissian, who originally betrays Han Solo and Princess Leia as part of a deal with Vader, develops a guilty conscience and assists in saving Han Solo from his imprisonment from carbon freeze in Jabba the Huts lair is black. He also aids in destroying the second Death Star. Lando stands out as one of the great heroes of the original films.

“The facts do not support her views. Dark and light representing good versus evil are established storytelling motifs that have been around for centuries.”

In the prequel films, arguably the coolest and most powerful Jedi is Mace Windu, played by none other than Samuel L. Jackson. Mace Windu fights valiantly in the Clone Wars, kills the evil bounty hunter Jengo Fett, and is the first Jedi to confront Palpatine about his corrupt intentions.

It is also worth mentioning that he is one of the few Jedi who is suspicious of Anakin Skywalker and his future allegiance to the Republic. In my opinion, this makes him one of the most intelligent Jedi. Windu’s demise is at the hands of (the white) Palpatine and (the also white) Anakin Skywalker, as he fights for justice and the Republic.

Last but not least, Anakin Skywalker turns to the dark side before he becomes Darth Vader. With this, he is not wearing a black suit or mask. Even with the Vader suit, since we know beneath it is the father of Luke and Leia, we know that he is white.

The Star Wars films, which George Lucas has admitted were originally made for children, is about as pure as you can get (even for those of us who believe Gredo did not shoot first).

To state that there are malicious racial intentions with this story, which is about morality and good versus evil, continues this ridiculous trend in this country to be offended by as much as possible. It is unfortunate that our culture is so politically correct and hyper-sensitive that people seem to be insulted by everything.

One can respond: “It’s her opinion. It’s how she sees it and she can be offended”. I disagree.

There is no valid justification to be offended by something as pure and child-like as Star Wars, especially now with one of the heroes of the new film The Force Awakens being a black character.

The facts do not support her views. Dark and light representing good versus evil are established storytelling motifs that have been around for centuries. The PC police needs to leave this one alone.

As for Chewbacca being a black guy, just give me a break.

Cover Photo Credit: JD Hancock/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Kinky Boots Comes to Miami, Marking Important Moment For Local LGBT Community

By Michelle de Carion

When Juan Torres-Falcon, a member of the ensemble cast in Kinky Boots, heard that the show was coming to Miami on their national tour this year, he knew without a doubt it was going to be a big hit.

The 6-time Tony Award-winning musical is based on the true story of a drag queen in London who helps a young shoe factory owner design red, kinky boots for crossdressers. Lola and her drag angels inspire the audience to “just be who you wanna be,” and “accept yourself and others too.”

Not only is Miami native Falcon excited to return home as a professional performer on Broadway, but he is also elated to share the message of Kinky Boots with his hometown since it is one he feels needs to be heard in the community.

During the week of the show’s run from December 8-13, Falcon and some of the other cast members participated in a talk back event with 50 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teens. The kids went backstage to meet the cast, ask them questions, and learn choreography.

“When I was asked to do that it almost made me cry because I realized that I would have loved to go to an event like that as a young, 15-year-old queer in South Florida,” Falcon said. “I would have loved to have seen Kinky Boots in high school because art is most powerful when it reflects life, and when it makes someone feel heard. And if our community can embrace the LGBT community–especially transgender people–and the most disenfranchised, and the most forgotten by starting with our young people and empower them with love, then Miami can soar.”

Falcon says that even though Miami is such a diverse city and has evolved a lot over the years, there is still a lot of homophobia and fear of “the other” in this city.

“It’s a shame,” he said, “…because we have so much potential as a city and as an arts community with everything that’s growing—Art Basel was just last week,” Falcon said. “We have all of these amazing things in place and yet there is still a lot of fear with all that is queer and LGBT. Our neighbors to the north, Fort Lauderdale, have done a lot more work when it comes to outreach in the community and also as a culture that is not only receptive, but inclusive, to gays and especially transgender people.”

J. Harrison Ghee as Lola, photos by Matthew Murphy (1)

Falcon hopes that Kinky Boots touches a lot of hearts in Miami and that this is the start of the next stage of Miami’s evolution and growth. The star of Kinky Boots, J. Harrison Ghee, who plays Lola also hopes that this show opens people’s minds and makes them more accepting of others who are different.

When Ghee’s father first learned he was a professional drag queen performing in New York City, it was very difficult for him to accept his lifestyle. But now years later, Ghee is strutting his stuff on Broadway, and his family has become more understanding of who he is.

“This show has changed my life in so many ways,” Ghee said. “I grew up in a religious family. My dad’s a pastor, and him learning that I’ve been a drag queen and that I’m performing in heels and doing all of this has been hard for him. But he knows it’s a part of my job and my creative outlet, and what I do, and he respects and understands that now. My family and I have gotten so much closer together because of this show.”

Ghee was performing in his own drag show called “The Crystal Fix” at the New World Stage’s Timeout Lounge when his friends encouraged him to try out for the role of Lola because they felt the story was written for him.

Ghee started out as a swing in the show, then after being an understudy for Lola joined the national tour as the lead. The song “Not My Father’s Son” is particularly close to his heart.

“Every night, my associate director instructs me to get close to the fire, to get close to the flame because it hits so close to home,” Ghee said. “I always say Cyndi Lauper must have had someone watching my life with some of the lyrics she chose, specifically the lyrics ‘with the strength of Sparta and the patience of Job.’ My father has a PhD in philosophy and history and is a minister, so for me to say that line every night is very emotional for me. It’s very therapeutic to be able to do this and share my story, whether the audience knows it or not.”

Ghee adds that aside from the message of love and acceptance, he hopes the audience just has fun when they see the show. They refer to the tour as “the big fab fun machine.”

“It’s a fun time, and it really is a family show that encourages you to remain open to what life has to offer,” Ghee said. “And just be who you want to be because that’s the fun of being individuals and being human, and being alive. This is about simply being who you are, staying true to that and letting that shine bright.”

Kinky Boots will return to South Florida from March 1-13, 2016 at the Broward Performing Arts Center.

To purchase tickets visit:

Photo Credits: Matthew Murphy

The Definitive Guide For A First Timer At Art Basel Miami Beach

By Lissette Calveiro

While others across the country are indulging in chilly weather and hues of red and green, Miami is getting ready to kick off one of the most exciting times of the year: Art Basel Miami Beach. More than 70,000 visitors, 267 galleries and 32 countries flock to sunny South Florida to celebrate creativity, innovation and the contemporary art.

If this is your first time in the city for this festival of expression, it may be a little overwhelming. Our advice is to grab tickets to the main show and sprinkle in a couple of off-site shows and local events. Grab a pen and your calendar and get started by exploring our picks below.

The Main Event

Photo Credit: See-ming Lee/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: See-ming Lee/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Art Basel Miami Beach is the sister fair to the original Art Basel, founded in Basel Switzerland in 1970. In Miami Beach, it capitalizes on the unique geographic and cultural conversion of both North America and Latin America. In 2013, an Art Basel stop was added in Hong Kong as the city is known as a gateway between East and West Cultures.

This year’s Miami Beach sioree is lead by Noah Horowitz, former head of NYC’s Armory Show. The 500,000 sq. ft. exhibition space is divided into nine sectors: Galleries, Nova, Positions, Edition, Kabinett, Survey, Public, Film and Magazines. Each sector allows visitors to navigate the fair and experience the many dimensions of modern and contemporary art.

To fully grasp the experience, make a day out of Art Basel alone. The Miami Beach Convention Center is equipped with two self-serve restaurants, five cafes, and an outdoor café across the street at the Botanical Gardens. Plus, there’s flowing Champagne to help you appreciate it that much more.

Art Basel Miami Beach takes place from December 3rd through the 6th in the Miami Beach Convention Center at 1901 Convention Center Drive, and various other locations. One-day tickets cost $47; permanent tickets cost $100. Buy them here.

Satellite Shows

Some of Art Basel’s best festivals and galleries are held off-site, so it’s best to attach a few of these to your schedule. These satellite shows orbit the main event and are hosted by locals and visitors alike. Explore our favorites below.


Photo Credit: See-ming Lee/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

SCOPE returns to South Beach from December 2nd through the 6th with 120 exhibitors from 22 countries, plus several special sections. For a fourth year, the fair collabs with VH1 on a music series featuring up-and-coming artists. A special collaboration between Cricket Wireless and Carl Pascuzzi will feature a #SelfieVortex for those attending for the ‘gram. There’s also an invite-only party with recording artists Mack Wilds and Lil’ Dicky on Friday night at Nikki Beach, sponsored by SCOPE, VH1 and BMI.

Spectrum Miami is a contemporary art show conveniently located in the heart of Miami’s Arts & Entertainment District between Midtown and Downtown Miami. From December 2nd through the 6th, the celebration features an international slate of artists, galleries, music and entertainment. The 2015 theme explores the act of illumination and creativity emerging from the artist. Special programming includes Art Labs, Art Talks, Spotlight Artist and Launchpad Programs. Bonus: Thursday and Friday entrance is free.

PULSE Miami Beach returns to Indian Beach Park (4601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) starting with a big “Opening Celebration” at 4 p.m. on December 1st. The show features a panel discussion put together by Hyperallergic, an interactive piece by Kate Durbin called “Hello, Selfie!” and a live performance by Kalup Linzy. On December 5th, PULSE celebrates the City of Miami via a talk at 5 p.m. on “Future Visions of Miami” and a “Sunset Celebration” from 5 to 7 p.m. There’s a complimentary shuttle from the convention center, and the fair is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday.

Wynwood Walls. Photo Credit: Ines Hegedus-Garcia/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Wynwood Walls. Photo Credit: Ines Hegedus-Garcia/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

On the mainland, Wynwood Walls (2520 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami) has tons in store including “Walls of Change” with 14 new murals and installations and the debut of a new adjacent space called “The Wynwood Walls Garden.” The walls are by Case, Crash, Cryptik, el Seed, Erenest Zacharevic, Fafi, Hueman, INTI, The London Police, Logan Hicks and Ryan McGinness. Over in the “garden,” the Spanish art duo Pichi & Avo are doing a mural on stacked shipping containers and in the events space, Magnus Sodamin will be painting the floors and walls. The VIP opening is on December 1st in the early evening, but then it’s open to the public from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

INK Miami Art Fair celebrates their 10th anniversary and maintains their exclusive focus on printmaking and works on paper. They’re back in the Suites of Dorchester (1850 Collins Avenue, South Beach) from Wednesday, December 2nd, through Sunday. Highlights include a lithograph by Louis Lozowick called Subway Station, NYC (1936) at Susan Teller Gallery’s booth and A World in a Box (2015) by Mark Dion published by Graphicstudio/U.S.F.

Check out a full list of fairs and festivals at GMCVB.

The “etc.”

You’ve heard it hundreds of times, Art Basel Miami Beach inspires a week of art galleries, exhibitions, design shows, music, entertainment, etc. That “etc.” represents the local restaurants and venues hosting celebratory soirees focused on art and what they already do best. For a first timer, these are a great way to enjoy the week of self-expression without the pressure of walking around art galleries trying to find the Picasso.

Photo Credit: American Social

Photo Credit: American Social

American Social Brickell (690 SW 1st Court) presents “The Art (Basel) of Craft Beer” all week featuring craft beer and food specials for the brew & foodie connoisseur. The Miami River celebration kicks off on Monday with $5 AmSo Burgers and $5 Local Florida Beers. Tuesday follows with $10 Chicken BLAT Sandwiches and $4 Craft Beers on tap. Wynwood Wednesday rolls in with $5 JWB 24th Brown, LaRubia and Concrete Beach Rica. The grand finale on Thursday offers $4 local craft beers all day, ladies’ drink specials and a pop-up art installation by Ray Fernandez.

Sip & Shop in Art Basel style at Batch Gastropub (30 SW 12th Street) on December 2nd from 6:30 to 10 p.m. The night of drinking and shopping features Instagram boutique brands including Lovestrung, M & CO and Luna Miami. The Glam Station, courtesy of 212 Beauty, lets ladies enjoy mini-manicures, make-up touch ups and a braid bar. If you want to add a little bit of art to your own body, The Henna Touch will share their talents and provide gratis henna designs. Wine and Whiskey Specials take center stage all night, as well as $5 Jim beam, $6 Jameson and $20 Bottomless Sangria and Sparking Wine. An RSVP will get you a complimentary drink so you’re ready to trek through the rest of your evening programming.

YogArt returns for their 5th anniversary for a series of 3 yoga sessions taking place at Wynwood Walls during the hustle and bustle of Art Basel weekend. Presented by Cavicchioli and sponsored by The Sacred Space Miami and jugofresh, the sessions take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Each session is an hour long, followed by healthy bites and sips. Led by Dawn B. Feinberg, the Friday evening and weekend morning classes will have live music by DJ Drez, The Mayapuris, and Marti Nikko. It’s the perfect way to experience Wynwood Walls’ newest installation, Walls of Change, which adds 14 new murals created by globally acclaimed street artists. Tickets for YogArt Basel at the Wynwood Walls are $35 per session and are available online in advance, as well as on-site the day of the event. Mats will be provided but are limited. A portion of the proceeds generated from YogArt ticket sales go to support local Design District Miami-Dade Magnet High School, DASH.

The stylish Viceroy Miami (485 Brickell Avenue) hotel invites Basel-goers to its signature restaurant, 15th & Vine Kitchen and Bar, for a special brunch showcasing masterpieces by Duaív, an accomplished painter and classically trained musician whose immigration to the United States was sponsored by Yo-Yo Ma. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday of Art Basel Weekend, visitors can admire the artist’s uplifting work presented on (4) floor-to-ceiling columns in 15th & Vine, while savoring à la carte brunch favorites including blueberry-lemon pancakes, black beans ranchero, grilled flatbreads, gulf shrimp tacos and other chef specialties. Guests also can pair brunch with $15 unlimited mimosas or Bloody Mary cocktails and bask in a view of Biscayne Bay. Their swanky rooftop nightclub, FIFTY Ultra Lounge, later hosts an Art Basel after-party offering panoramic views of the Magic City and a rotating roster of internationally renowned DJs.

Absolut’s handcrafted luxury vodka, Elyx, and non-profit organization Water For People, are celebrating their five year partnership on the opening night of Art Basel at the exclusive art-deco Delano Hotel in South Beach (1685 Collins Avenue) on Thursday, December 3rd. A cadre of leaders and influencers will co-host the event featuring bites, cocktails and special performances throughout the evening. During the event, guests will have the opportunity to view a sculpture created by artist Antony Gormley, which will be sold to raise funds for Water for People. The charity event is limited to VIPs, but we’ve scored a pair of tickets exclusive to Rise News readers. Open to public, Elyx’s new pop-up water truck and copper pineapple boutique will conclude its three city tour in Miami’s Collins Avenue during Art Basel.

A pink snail looks across Biscayne Bay for Art Basel in 2010. Photo Credit: Ines Hegedus-Garcia/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

A pink snail looks across Biscayne Bay for Art Basel in 2010. Photo Credit: Ines Hegedus-Garcia/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

For more pop-up parties and local events, read a guide by Racked Miami.

To help alleviate the likely traffic jams from Miami to Miami Beach, the two cities have joined forces to provide alternative travel options including a free Shuttle Service, new trolley routes, a water taxi and special Uber Yacht service. Verify prices and routes at

A stroll through South Beach, Midtown and Downtown through the week is enough to show that Art Basel Miami Beach brings the world of art, music, food, culture and innovation together for an unparalleled experience of surprise and delight. Let us know where you will go in the comments below.

Cover Photo Credit: Philipp Meier/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Rise Readers Can Win Free VIP Tickets To Absolut Vodka’s Art Basel Miami Beach Party

By Lissette Calveiro

Absolut’s handcrafted luxury vodka, Elyx, and non-profit organization Water For People, are celebrating their five year partnership on the opening night of Art Basel at the exclusive art-deco Delano Hotel in South Beach (1685 Collins Avenue) on Thursday, December 3rd from 7 to 10 p.m.

The charity event is limited to VIPs, but we’ve scored a pair of tickets exclusive to Rise News readers. To enter, follow @RiseNewsNow on Twitter and Retweet our original Tweet and share our Art Basel First Timer’s Guide on your feed to enter.

We will notify one lucky winner on the evening of Wednesday, December 2nd.

Pioneering gallerist – Sean Kelly, world-renowned art curator – Jérôme Sans, Paddle8 cofounder and art-world disrupter – Alexander Gilkes, international marketer and Absolut Elyx CEO – Jonas Tåhlin and Water For People’s CEO – Eleanor Allen will co-host the outdoor gala, featuring a barbecue and bespoke cocktails.


During the event, guests will have the opportunity to view a sculpture created by artist Antony Gormley, which will be sold to raise funds for Water for People by online auction house Paddle8.

Widely acclaimed for his sculptures, installations and public artworks that investigate the relationship of the human body to space, Antony Gormley is a world-renowned artist.

The auction of Gormley’s sculpture will begin on Tuesday, November 24 and conclude on Wednesday, December 9. Two experiential lots – a private group tour of the Sean Kelly Gallery and a cocktail class at the new brand home, the Elyx House, in New York – will also be up for auction.

The celebration is part of a five-year partnership between Absolut Elyx and Water For People to provide safe water to more than 100,000 people worldwide. Proceeds from the auction could provide over 10,000 people with access to safe water for generations to come.

READ MORE: Definitive Guide For A First Timer At Art Basel Miami Beach

The event will also feature an exciting music line-up with a DJ set from Jasmine Solano and a live performance by Elliphant.

Jasmine Solano’s solid track record includes soundtracks for New York Fashion Week runway shows and the MTV World’s Scratch the Surface show that she produced and hosted. Swedish buzzworthy artist Elliphant has already amassed an impressive 40 million+ Spotify plays, 28 million+ video plays and an incredible 55k+ Shazam tags.

She has worked with Grammy Award nominees and winners Skrillex, Dr. Luke, Diplo, Major Lazer and Joel Little, the man responsible for producing Lorde’s critically acclaimed debut album.

For every bottle of vodka sold, Elyx will provide access to one week of safe water (140 liters) to someone in need through Water For People’s work.

For every bottle of vodka sold, Elyx will provide access to one week of safe water (140 liters) to someone in need through Water For People’s work.

“We are thrilled to partner with a host of luminaries for the benefit at Art Basel to raise awareness of the global water issue,” said Jonas Tåhlin, CEO of Absolut Elyx. “Through art, we hope to inspire others participate in this global dialogue in putting an end to water poverty within our lifetime. Our partnership with Water for People, Sean Kelly, Antony Gormley, and Jérôme Sans will shine a spotlight on the campaign while raising money to affect real change.”

The philanthropy partnership with Water For People launched in September. For every bottle of vodka sold, Elyx will provide access to one week of safe water (140 liters) to someone in need through Water For People’s work; for every copper pineapple drinking vessel sold, access to one month of water (560 liters) will be provided. Elyx’s new pop-up water truck and copper pineapple boutique will conclude its three city tour in Miami following stops in New York and Los Angeles during Art Basel.

Photo Credits: Submitted

Man Fixes Your Short Arm Selfie Problem In The Most Ridiculously Perfect Way Ever

By Sebastian Priestman

Selfie sticks can be pretty embarrassing when using them in public, especially if you have short arms.

Even more embarrassing? Not having a selfie stick. Anyone remember this?

Well one young man in Japan named Mansun has aimed to take this decidedly first world problem head on by using a bit of grit, determination and a whole lot of imagination.

Mansun’s invention of the “selfie arms” is a simple invention by attaching two selfie sticks to plastic hands and covering them with a long sleeve shirt modified to fit the length of the arms.


His extra-long arms even help him get a better angle at tall structures. What a clever yet silly invention.

HT/ Laughing Squid

Cover Photo Credit: Ton Schulten/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Could Sexism Be Behind The Success Of John Green’s Books?

For the reader, whether partial to the Young Adult genre or not, John Green’s name is a familiar one.

Recognizable film titles like The Fault In Our Stars and more recently, Paper Towns are easy sentimental watches for many, based on Green’s meandering narratives of young people juggling life-threatening diseases, big swelling crushes on the girl next door, and generally attempting to survive life with all the emotions of your common teenager.

Green’s success as a writer is one which has enabled him to have two of his books translated to film already, and with another prospectively in the works, many now place him as the face of Young Adult literature.

Whether it’s the realism that is seen as relatable in his writing, or the fact that his fame partly derives from Green’s Internet presence, creating educational videos with his brother under the name Vlogbrothers, there’s no getting around the fact that John Green’s name is one which is either greeted with contempt, or adoration.

Teenagers have no qualms listing Green alongside J.K Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and Stephenie Meyer. While his books are not so widely renowned as the Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games, or The Twilight Saga- some see this as indicative of substance.

Green’s books feature stand-out lines readers of his find relatable and inspiring at the same time. To search his name on any social media source is to come face to face with this outpour. But exactly what is it about this man’s writing which has propelled him to book-to-film fame? To be hailed as a permanent, important member of the Young Adult genre?

Sarah Dessen. Tamora Pierce. Judy Blume. Meg Rosoff. Lois Lowry. Laurie Halse Anderson.

Before and alongside Green’s writing, chock-full of painful love, identity crises and existential doubts that plague his intelligent-pretentious-boy-protagonists, there existed, and exists, a treasure trove of Young Adult books and writers who delve into those exact same feelings.

Dessen was given one shot at the silver screen when two of her novels were combined to produce the 2003 rom-com How To Deal.

Rosoff’s How I Live Now, a staple of formative reading experiences as a recurrent feature in classroom book collections and libraries, took 9 years to reach the big screen.

“It is no surprise that the Young Adult genre is dominated by women writers. To place Green on a pedestal then, is to reinforce the notion that the creative white male voice is the most important.”

This isn’t to say that the measure of a book’s success, the integration of it as a frontrunner of the Young Adult genre, relies on whether it has been converted into a film or not. It is merely significant to note exactly the size of Green’s cultural impact and how the cinematic treatment of his books bookends this. The truth is, Green’s writing being centralised as the most prominent of the Young Adult genre in the minds of teenagers and teachers feels unfair, and a little sexist.

After the release of The Fault In Our Stars in 2014, The Wall Street Journal was happy to congratulate Green in “ushering in a new golden era for contemporary, realistic, literary teen fiction following more than a decade of dominance by books about young wizards, sparkly vampires and dystopia.

Now that Paper Towns is out and talks on Looking For Alaska’s screen-time are rumoured, that ‘new golden era’ looks to be continuing. But actually, there is nothing new about this golden era. Where book editors are looking for ‘contemporary realism’, relatable characters after what some call ‘the John Green effect’, writers of important teenage discourse, Anderson’s Speak, Dessen’s Dreamland, Blume’s entire track record, are shoved to the background, ignored despite their effort to communicate important experiences like body issues, mental illness, sexual and physical abuse, alongside relatable characters. Contemporary realism at its ignored best.

It is unfair to also argue that the genre, as diverse as it is, is only valuable if it is solely realistic. Books about young wizards, sparkly vampires and dystopia do not feature somehow superficial sentiments if the character in goofy infatuation also happens to wield a wand or if the girl struggling to save the life she knows is living in a dystopia which, actually, may not be so dystopian depending on which part of the world one lives in. To take this view of the Young Adult genre is to erase the significant triumphs of many books and their effects on the consciousness of young people.

Hank Green (L) and John Green (R) speaking at VidCon 2012 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Hank Green (L) and John Green (R) speaking at VidCon 2012 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

After all, as Slate’s Ruth Graham said in her controversial article Against YA:

“crucially, YA books present the teenage perspective in a fundamentally uncritical way.”

It is this perspective which is truly indicative of the Young Adult genre and which deserves to be lauded, whether it is by Green or by his contemporaries.

Alongside those I have mentioned previously, Meg Cabot, Malorie Blackman, Lois Lowry, and many more equally deserve to be congratulated for well-written analyses of the teenage experience, of teenage emotion, whether they have the Internet, book agents, and Hollywood idolizing them or not.

It is no surprise that the Young Adult genre is dominated by women writers. To place Green on a pedestal then, is to reinforce the notion that the creative white male voice is the most important.

It is to, as literary tradition makes the mistake of doing and despite both their valued contributions to literature, cast aside Austen’s voice for Salinger’s. To portray the male narrative as a bildungsroman with all the integrity we afford men speaking and to cast off the female narrative as YA self-satisfying trash, just one part of a much bigger pile.

Green himself seems to be aware of the issues surrounding discourse on the genre. He said the following on his Youtube show, as quoted by The Atlantic:

“From a pop culture perspective, or a general media perspective, there can only be one thing…. There can only be paranormal romance, there can only be dystopia, or now, there can only be The Fault in Our Stars. But it’s not the truth, that isn’t the way the actual world of YA books looks or has ever looked.

“To me, the real story of young adult literature is not actually about whatever the big cultural book of the moment is. The real story of young adult literature is that more than a thousand books are read by at least ten thousand teenagers a year, that we have incredible breadth, that we have great dystopia and great fantasy, great sci-fi, great mystery, great romances, and all of that stuff can live together and be in conversation because they all – we all – share the same shelf.”

So it is important to recognize that the general media perspective is not the one we should consistently place value in. When it comes to something as immersive, as personal, as the reading experience, it may be beneficial to pay attention to the reading trends, but it is a significant move to take stock of the whole shelf.

It is the shelf which is the most important feature of a teenager’s love of literature, and if that literature is mostly of the YA genre, it may feature John Green’s writing- and may also feature the writing of many, many others.

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Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Here’s The 10 Best Nickelodeon Shows From The 1990s

By  Danielle del Pico

With the return of classic 90’s Nicktoons presumably coming to Nickelodeon later this year, we thought it would be smart to take a look back at some of the best shows from that era in our lives.

So here’s our top 10 best Nickelodeon 90’s shows. Tell us in the comments if you agree or not:

10. Ren and Stimpy

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

With its crude humor, animation style, off the wall situations and chaotic relationships, Ren and Stimpy was the most controversial show on Nickelodeon for its time. It was that cartoon show that you watched while your parents looked on behind you in absolute disgust. Mission accomplished. This was one of the original three Nickelodeon shows and changed the playing field for cartoons to follow since its release in 1991. Unlike many of the shows on this list, it didn’t provide any moral ground for the characters. It was just good fun. Isn’t that what we need sometimes?

9. AAAHH!!! Real Monsters

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit: Nickelodeon

This show is high up on the list simply for the animation style, a style that is just quintessential nineties. That “dirty animation” has influenced cartoons for future decades to follow. This show taught that the monsters you’re afraid of are actually not so different from us. It was set around monsters in training, adolescents in a monster school trying to figure out their place in the underground and pass class. The show features characters Oblina, Ickis and Krumm set against the backdrop of New York City.

8. Rocko’s Modern Life

Photo Credit: carol-wyatt/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: carol-wyatt/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

This makes the list because of its nuanced adult humor. A second watching of this and you may pick up some things you missed when it first debuted in 1993. Today, there are instances of censorship of the beloved Wallaby. Most of the characters are rather eccentric and play into Rocko’s displacement as an Australian in his new home, O-Town. The show played into the mundane ins and outs of daily life and showed the humor and excitement that can happen in those “in betweens”.

7. Rocket Power
Probably not the most popular show on this list, but definitely worth a mention simply for the female character of Regina alone. She totally deconstructs feminine stereotypes and is an equal amongst her male counterparts. This show revolved around four diverse friends residing in a California town that love to participate in extreme sports and getting themselves into different oftentimes sticky situations. It originally aired in 1999 and ran for four seasons.

6. Clarissa Explains it All

Photo Credit: Michael Coté/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Michael Coté/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Melissa Joan Hart was the 90’s sitcom princess, also starring in the title role of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, part of the TGIF lineup. This show aired from 1991-1994, and was also presented in a narrative style, much like Doug. This time, Clarissa helped explained all the tough, typical dilemmas teens have to face set against the backdrop of a video game narration style. It was supremely edgy for its time. Sort of the ‘Sex and the City’ for teenagers. Without the sex.

5. Kenan and Kel Commons Commons

Who loves Orange Soda? Kel love Orange Soda! Now comedian Kenan Thompson continues to entertain audiences on Saturday Night Live. This creation of Kim Bass (Sister, Sister) was wildly popular with teenagers, even spawning a cult classic movie. The show followed the dynamic duo and the different shenanigans they would get themselves into. Special nod to the awesome theme song by Coolio ‘Aw, here it goes!’

4. The Wild Thornberrys
Who doesn’t want to travel all around the world with their family as they film their own nature show? Eliza Thornberry is the original Cady Heron from Mean Girls, except she can talk to animals and doesn’t have to deal with Regina George, just her moody sister Debbie (who doesn’t remember the episode where Debbie tried to make her own shampoo? Talk about being organic before it was a thing!) Eliza Thornberry, (voiced by actress Lacey Chabert, who played Gretchen Wieners in Mean Girls…these cannot just be coincidences) may not conventionally be your typical heroine but in the same vein, she is the best heroine. Here is a girl who stands up for what’s right and moreover, will do anything for her friends. Fun fact: their little brother Donnie (found in the wild and raised as their own) is voiced by Flea, bassist for Red Hot Chili Peppers. Tim Curry voices the father, Nigel Thornberry. Can Nickelodeon get any cooler?

3. Doug

Photo Credit: Viacom

Photo Credit: Viacom

When Doug first debuted on the air in 1991, it wasn’t just kids that were talking about it, teenagers quickly identified with Doug’s confidence issues and finding his place in his new hometown of Bluffington. This show featured a wide cast of characters, and took on a narrative style of storytelling. Think ‘The Outsiders’ meets ‘The Wonder Years’. Much like other shows on this list, Doug never talked down to its audience and connected well with the struggles that adolescents face every day.Jim Jenkins, the creator of Doug, based the cartoon on his story growing up. This show focused on much of Doug’s experiences with bully Roger Klotz, his love for Patty Mayonnaise and his friendship with Skeeter Valentine.

2. Hey Arnold!

Photo Credit: Carolina Alves/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Carolina Alves/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Like many Nickelodeon shows, the characters of P.S. 118 and other residents of Hillwood never talked down to a young audience. The subject matters could range from social class to parent/child relationships. Running for five seasons, many episodes of Hey Arnold! centered on the hierarchy of public school and the microcosm of adolescent experiences. Many episodes focused on finding the good in people, doing the right thing and using caution with harsh judgments. Arnold oftentimes found himself in a position of leadership and never faltered with his good character. He always tried to be a friend to everyone, earnestly, This example is somewhat lost in mainstream cartoon shows, relying mostly on sarcastic comebacks to illustrate what “cool” is. Arnold’s individuality amidst all the other students of P.S. 118 showed you never have to conform, it’s okay to be who you are. Lastly, Helga is hilarious and made unibrows a safe conversation topic.

1. Rugrats

Photo Credit: PROBonita de Boer/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Yes, they have their own Hollywood star. Photo Credit: PROBonita de Boer/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Who doesn’t remember running from the next room when the theme song started? Not only did it run for nine seasons (with a reboot in serious whispers) and spawned two spin off TV shows, All Grown Up! And Rugrats Pre-School Daze and three movies, The Rugrats Movie, Rugrats in Paris and Rugrats Gone Wild (featuring the Wild Thornberrys), Rugrats also spawned various merchandising, like video games, confectionary items, and even a live stage show. Rugrats is an empire. This TV show takes the number one spot because these cartoon babies were far more entertaining than most adult TV shows on at the time, let’s be honest. Rugrats instilled in audiences an understanding that parents and children will not see things in the same perspective, but at the end of the day they still love you, albeit in their own wacky way. It also emphasized friendship, loyalty and caring for one another set against the imaginative world of a child. Who didn’t want a friendship like Tommy and Chuckie? This show is also number one for its eccentric cast of memorable characters such as the devious Angelica, sweet Grandpa and the rebellious twins Phil and Lil. This style of animation is now considered iconic, and is often emulated but never duplicated.

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Cover Photo Credit: Carolina Alves/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

One Direction Fandom Is A Cute Little Cult- But It’s Still A Cult

Boy bands have always been a staple of Pop music culture. They come in numerous, eclectic forms, ranging from The Jackson 5, The Beatles, and The Bee Gees, to New Kids on The Block, Backstreet Boys, and NSYNC, and most recently, One Direction.

Flashback to 2010. Five boys came together on popular British TV show “The X Factor.” Even though they collectively finished in third place, England nor the rest of the world were ready for the mass hysteria of One Direction.

Watch: One Direction final performance in 2010 X Factor

In a sense, Harry Styles, Niall Horran, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik have been compared to a modern day Beatles. Not only are both from England, but they also stole the hearts of millions of girls when they transitioned overseas to America.

But why did these kids transition into fame instantly?

“The Internet is what made One Direction what they are today,” Kelly Brickey, One Direction fan and journalism student at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee said. “Online resources like Twitter and YouTube gave the boys a platform for fans to jump on the bandwagon. Even [the band] themselves have credited online fan presence for their success.”

The increase in popularity of social networking sites such as Twitter have skyrocketed conversations between fans from all over the world.

At any given moment, there is always at least something “One Direction” related trending. Some of the hashtags used range from, simply #OneDirection and #DirectionersRunTwitter, to more obscure fandom references like #BodyShotsWithHarry and #LiamWearsThongs.

“These days there’s more of an ability for fanship to manifest itself on social networks and other kinds of internet channels that point out just how intense fanship is,” Dr. Eric Weisbard, Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Alabama said. “[Popularity] is something that we measured before through screams and people standing in Times Square, outside of MTV studios, and we can now measure it in more concrete ways.” Like social media.

Fast forwarding to 2015, One Direction fans, “Directioners” as they are called, had their worlds turned over: within a three month span, member Zayn Malik announced his departure from the band. Rumors then started forming about a potential hiatus.

In typical Boy Band fashion, sometimes the members “age out of the category” Weisbard said.

“They have been working nonstop for five years now,” Brickey said. “They may get a couple weeks here and there for themselves, but their dedication to their job is hardcore. They just need a break.”

So there you have it, girls love music more passionately than others. When they come together for a common purpose, fandoms form. A new language evolves between members which could be attributed to a cult. But something about these five boys from England has made a lasting impact on society and is not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

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Cover Photo Credit: Eva Rinaldi/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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