Since joining BreakThru Radio in January 2013 I’ve written on topics ranging from politics to television, social media to various rights groups. Here are my articles starting with the most recent.
Will the Viral ‘Sharknado’ Storm Strike Again? – Last summer, the Syfy network’s made-for-TV movie Sharknado took the internet–and most movie buffs–by storm. The creature feature had a simple story: a superstorm filled with sharks battered Los Angeles. Sounds pretty silly, right? But those on social media loved it.
What Do We Want? More Superheroines! – The explosion of superhero movies is one of the biggest Hollywood trends this past decade (in addition to reboots and revivals)… However, if you take a look at the comic book-based superhero films of the past decade, you’ll notice a glaring omission: superheroine leads.
Revival & Reboot Happy in Hollywood – “There aren’t enough original movies being released in theaters.” That’s one major complaint — especially in recent years, though it’s not a new phenomenon — about the film industry. Hollywood, particularly during the summer blockbuster season, releases an array of sequels, trilogies, franchises, reboots, remakes, shared universe building, as well as adaptations from television, novels, and comic books.
The Trouble with Bringing YA Books to Film – Ever since the major success of the Harry Potter and Twilight films, producers have involved themselves in a massive push to adapt beloved young adult novels to the big screen. Though some found success, like The Hunger Games and Divergent, not all these books-turned-movies hit box office gold.
Tumblr Takes Over Social TV – Maybe companies can measure social TV, but can they put their findings to good use? In 2012, Nielsen announced the Twitter TV Ratings, a system that would offer a supplement to the company’s standard ratings metric. In effect, advertisers would be able to get a better idea of what everyone watches–not just those who have Nielsen boxes.
How to Change Representations in Media – Although there have certainly been plenty of parodies created to the hit pop song “Royals” by Lorde, one recent YouTube video took the satire to a whole new level. “Typecast” speaks to the representation of people–especially women–of color in media.
Robin Hood in ‘Nottingham’ – Like any art form, folklore changes, goes through growing pains, and adapts to the current culture of the time. The fairy tales and folk stories you grew up with are not exactly the same stories your parents or grandparents heard before you.
Startup Shell Fosters Student Entrepreneurs – Though the cliche holds true that many college students graduate and land jobs in the burgeoning world of start-ups, it’s not quite as commonplace to see many among the young starting their own businesses. Rather, they are the token young, fresh, coffee-fetcher for late-twentysomethings, Xers, or Boomers who actually run the show.
Fan-Funded ‘Veronica Mars’ – Last week, Veronica Mars held its world premiere at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, about a year afterThe Veronica Mars Movie Project Kickstarter launched and made history within less than ten hours for being the fastest project to reach its goal. As anyone involved with the Veronica Mars movie will tell you, it was all thanks to the fans.
Farmed, But Dangerous? – Chipotle Mexican Grill premiered an original comedy series on Feb 17, Farmed & Dangerous, about the downside to the factory farming industry. As a food-service company that prides itself in promoting organic and sustainable farming practices, the concept seems like it’d lean more toward propaganda than satire. But, while the four-part show might walk the line, it’s definitely more satirical.
Girl Tips from Kendra Wells -Everyone has seen–and possibly made fun of–those silly tips given to women usually by magazines like Cosmo, Teen Vogue, Glamour, and Seventeen. They tend to focus on how a woman can improve upon pleasing her man and often veer into the ridiculous.
The Normalization of Binge Watching – Netflix, the would-be lover of many homebodies and couch potatoes (if only the streaming service were a real live person), recently sponsored a study showing that 61 percent of TV streamers participate in binge watching regularly.
Feminist Advertising Does Not Exist – Early in December, a new commercial from Pantene made the rounds throughout the internet that challenged the ways we label men and women. Its content highlights a number of double standards that persist with gender roles in the workplace.
Social Media-Induced Abstinence – In an era when we are inundated with online dating from websites to apps–OK Cupid, Match.com, E-Harmony, Tinder, Carrot, Grouper, Love Flutter, Coffee Meets Bagel–nearly endless relationship prospects are at our fingertips. So why have researchers found that relationships and sex are on the decline?
The Second Screen Experience – How many people are guilty of pulling up the International Movie Database while watching a movie to figure out that actor’s name or see what other films an actress has starred in? How many have whipped out their phone to tweet during a particularly riveting moment on television?
Neilsen, TV Ratings, and Twitter – When Nielsen first announced its new metric, the Twitter TV Rating, it seemed as if the company was attempting to move into the 21st century and adapt to new technologies. However, since the system debuted during the week of Sept. 23rd, the metric has received some criticism.
Opinion: Breastfeeding as Feminist Issue – Recently, Britain rolled out a program in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire in which 130 mothers will be given food vouchers worth about $320 if they breastfeed for the first six weeks of their child’s life. The pilot program is meant to increase the practice in poor areas, where breastfeeding is less common.
Teen Wolf, Social Media, and the LGBT Community – The fans are, arguably, the most important aspect of a television show. Actors, directors, producers, writers, etc. traditionally thank their fans when accepting awards because of the universal truth: a television show would not exist–or would be cancelled–if not for the fans.
An American Horror Story – From the number of stories in the news about rape, it’s debatable whether the U.S. is moving forward in its portrayal and discussion of the subject. Sure, the two men in Steubenville were convicted of their rape charges–though they received minimum sentences for the crime. Meanwhile, Anonymous had to get involved in Steubenville, and now Maryville, in order for the cases to be taken seriously.
Teens Overcome Obesity at What Cost? – A case study published in October’s Pediatrics found that teenagers who have overcome obesity are at a higher risk of disordered eating habits, but less likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder. In our society where “thin is in” and there are constantly news stories about teenagers being bullied over their weight, does this come as any surprise?
Resort-Style Rehab Centers – Gone are the days of boring old AA and NA meetings in dank church basements with introductions like “Hello, my name is Molly and I’m an alcoholic.” (Which is your cue to say “Hi Molly.”) Now, resort-style rehab facilities have become almost as popular as the high-profile celebrities that have stayed at them.
An Alternative for Young Offenders – From the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 200 Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiatives around the country to New York City’s Andrew Glover Youth Program, there are many outreach programs in the US that offer alternatives to youth incarceration. These efforts work to reduce juvenile detention through a wide variety of methods. Some groups call for improvements, in cases involving minors, within the justice system itself, while others focus on working directly to rehabilitate the offenders through counseling, mentoring, and care.
Between the Spreadsheets – For the first app released from Ardenturous Labs, Spreadsheets has generated a lot of conversation within the blogosphere since it first became available in the Apple Store on Aug. 1. But that’s to be expected of an app that claims to monitor a user’s sexual performance in order to provide statistical and historical feedback.
Five Taboo Apps – It turns out the modern cliche of “There’s an app for that” rings true even for the most controversial tasks. Take for instance discovering sexually transmitted diseases, menstruating, or assessing your skill in the bedroom. For all of these to-do’s no one wants to brag about, there are indeed apps for each.
Erin M. Riley: Taboo Tapestries – When someone mentions a loom, the first image that comes to mind might be a giant cumbersome contraption, maybe colonial women weaving clothes for their children, or a historical museum display. Selfies, nude portraits, pictures of drug paraphernalia, or any other controversial depictions probably aren’t very high on the list of words associated with looms.
#CanYouSurvive on $7.25/hr? No. – Who here has been personally victimized by the minimum wage in the United States? Since you can’t see me right now, I’ll just let you know I’m currently raising my hand, along with many, many other people in the country.
Why Do I Hatewatch? – Urban Dictionary defines Hatewatching as “when you are watching a television program even though you tell everyone that it’s stupid and you hate it.” I’m currently hatewatching True Blood and The Newsroom, and in the past have hatewatched Girls and Smash. To be clear, hatewatching should not be confused with a guilty pleasure show. The difference is that when you watch a guilty pleasure show–such as Grey’s Anatomy, Pretty Little Liars, or The Bachelor–you actually enjoy it; whereas when hatewatching, you actually take no pleasure whatsoever from the television show.
Why A Female Doctor Who? Why Not? – A little over a week ago, the twelfth regeneration of the Doctor, the titular character for the BBC’s long-running sci-fi show Doctor Who, was announced. If you were on the internet at all last weekend, or for the couple months prior to the announcement, you probably heard about Doctor Who.
Redefining Cult Cinema – (Written collaboratively with Tim Dillon.) Cult movies, and more over the definition of a cult film, is a difficult nut to crack. Once reserved for campy B-movies and grindhouse pictures, this genre (if you can even call it that) is more about public reception, rather than critical acclaim. Though the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
The Warped Tour Generation – Whether you were that kid, you knew that kid, or you hated that kid, everyone who grew up in the era of the Vans Warped Tour has an idea of the type of person who attends the touring rock festival. While there are many variations of how the attendees look, they all share the same passion for alternative music and above all, Warped Tour. If you require proof that I was that kid: I used to start saving up for my Warped Tour ticket around Thanksgiving. Warped Tours take place in the summer.
Private Prison Industry – For the private prison industry, there’s basically no such thing as good publicity if any at all. To be fair, it’s difficult to spin the moral foundation the industry is built on that more people will and should be incarcerated in this country, so why not make money off of them?
San Diego Comic-Con 2013 Preview – Comic-Con season is here! Like Bonaroo and SXSW, some complain that the mainstream appeal of the convention is convoluting the friendly, counter-culture atmosphere. Even fewer realize how deep the event’s roots really run. The now multicity touring convention is has come a long way from their tradeshow days, like the first San Diego Comic-Con held in 1970s.
How Hollywood Uses CGI – It’s been over one hundred years since Georges Méliès used machinery, theater techniques, clay models, and costumes of paper-based board to create A Trip to the Moon. While these visual effects look crude to audiences today, at the time they were revolutionary.
The Hazards of Digital Hoarding – I hadn’t heard of digital hoarding, also called e-hoarding, until recently, but I’m probably guilty of it. After a quick perusal of my hard drive, I found files full of pictures and mp3s that I haven’t opened since I got my current laptop in late 2011 and transferred everything onto it from my previous computer. Although I deleted many of those files, there are still other aspects of my digital life in which I’m an e-hoarder, specifically my Tumblr account.
How to Plan Your Own Kidult Party – A few years ago while on summer break from college, I was able to attend what my best friend and I dubbed a “Moon Bounce BBQ Party.” Full disclosure, this party was exactly what it sounds like. It was a backyard shindig full of early and mid-twenty-something people barbecuing, drinking some beer, and playing beer pong, with the added entertainment of a moon bounce (also known as a bounce house or inflatable bouncer.) And it was awesome.
How Transparent are these Transparency Reports? – It isn’t news that companies like Twitter and Google have released transparency reports in the past in efforts to appear genuine and honest with their consumers. However, since Edward Snowden leaked information on the National Security Agency’s PRISM program, Google, Twitter, and others, have admitted that their transparency reports were incomplete.
#FBrape Scrutinizes Facebook’s Content Policy – In May, women’s rights organization Women, Action, and the Media (WAM!) joined forces with Everyday Sexism to form a coalition and launch the #FBRape Campaign. The campaign targeted Facebook for not removing content containing gender-based hate speech as outlined in the site’s Community Standards.
The Slow Season – In the season eight finale of CBS’s How I Met Your Mother, viewers got a glimpse of the titular mother character, played by Cristin Milioti. But after the finale, rumors started spreading online that the ninth and final season would take place entirely during Robin and Barney’s wedding weekend.
Apps to Assist Activists – Last week, activists made headlines when they rallied in hundreds of cities around the world to participate in ‘March Against Monsanto’ demonstrations. These protests are a reaction to the worldwide debate about genetically modified organisms and GMO labeling of food.
The Best Summer Camps in TV and Movie History – Whether you went to camp and had the best time of your life, totally hated camp, or sat at home over the summer missing your friends who were away, everyone has some sort of childhood camp-related memory.
Scriptures by Hand – Phillip Patterson, a retiree in Philmont, NY, made national headlines earlier this month just as he finished up his 4-year-long project of handwriting the King James Bible. On May 18, the St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church in Spencertown, NY hosted the event, “The Last Word,” where Patterson completed his Bible in front of a crowd of people.
Raising AWAREness About Mental Health – In President Barack Obama’s 2014 budget proposal he is asking for $235 million to fund mental health programs. A portion of that–$55 million–would go toward Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education,) an initiative that aims to identify mental illness early in young people and refer them to proper treatment.
Nielsen Adapts to Social TV – Last December, Nielsen Company announced their partnership with Twitter to develop a new rating metric that would measure the reach of television conversation on the social media site. The new Nielsen Twitter TV Rating will launch with the fall 2013 television season.
Fight for the Right to be Green – Like the United States’ Bill of Rights, a Community Bill of Rights protects citizens within a town or borough. This can be different depending on the community and how their bill of rights is written. For example, the Bill of Rights in State College, Pennsylvania protects the borough’s right to make decisions about issues such as health, safety and welfare, as well as the environment.
Mysteries of Memory – Contrary to what Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore might have you believe, memory loss isn’t always the basis of a quirky romantic comedy as it’s portrayed in 50 First Dates. Like many brain injuries, the effect it has on every person can vary.
There’s Life on Mars – A few weeks ago the internet went crazy for the tiny blonde private eye whose show on The CW was cancelled in 2007. But why are we still talking about Kristen Bell’s character, Veronica Mars? Who cares about Veronica Mars anymore?
Cosplaying for Keeps – Whether you’ve been to San Diego Comic-Con, any other convention, or just seen photos and videos online, you’ve probably seen cosplayers. Comic-Con is just one of many conventions that draw the kind of fans who like to dress up and take on the personality of their favorite characters. But how much do you really know about cosplay?
Much Ado About Something – If you aren’t already excited about Joss Whedon’s modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, then I don’t want to know you! Just kidding. But like seriously, Joss directed the third top grossing film of all time (Marvel’s The Avengers, in case you forgot). Plus he’s led a cult of die-hard fans since at least the mid-’90s with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Did you know he also co-wrote Toy Story and Atlantis: The Lost Empire? Because I did not, while apparently I’ve been a fan of Joss Whedon since early childhood and I never knew it.
HOPE Campaign: What You Need to Know – The HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere) Campaign launched in December 2006 with the help of graphic artist Shepard Fairey and worked to raise awareness about the crisis in Darfur and Sudan, as well as develop projects to support education in the US and East Africa. Though HOPE sponsors its own events, it also involves its artists in various charitable programs and helps bring awareness to already existing projects.
Television Nostalgia – In case you’ve been living under a rock or somehow haven’t heard, the Disney Channel announced late in 2012 that the network planned to produce a spinoff of the popular late ’90s sitcom, Boy Meets World, called Girl Meets World. Since then, ’90s kids everywhere have been excited for original creator Michael Jacobs to launch this new series.
How-to Hair Blogs – The invention of the internet gave every person with access the power and means of creating their own blog to talk about whatever they want. Consequently, an abundance of useless information began to infiltrate the internet and an endless amount of pop culture blogs were created online. Now, for every niche there is a community of bloggers. Since this week on BTR we’re celebrating coiffures, fringe, mops, and bobs, let’s talk about the unique world of hair blogs.
Actual vs. Perceived Danger – How many times have you read or heard about a tragedy in the news, something that rarely happens, and thought it could happen to you? Suddenly you’re afraid of something you’ve never even thought could be dangerous. When you read a story about a death on the subway, you vow to take your bicycle next time. When there’s a plane crash, you vow to take the train. When another cruise ship is stranded at sea or runs aground, you vow to take a road trip vacation instead.
Celebs Who Support Marijuana – In 2009, Michael Phelps faced a wave of backlash after photos surfaced of the Olympic swimmer smoking marijuana. Phelps lost a sponsorship deal with Kellogg, the food company, and was suspended for three months from U.S.A. Swimming.
Prohibiting Profanity – At the beginning of February, a Catholic high school in North Arlington, NJ made headlines when it asked all the girls of its co-ed student body to pledge not to swear for Lent. Ignoring the blatant sexism here (school officials actually claimed their female students “have the foulest language,” according to The Record,) this is just one chapter in the long story of schools or towns trying to ban cursing–without any success.
Get the Skinny on the Best Diet Betting Websites – The most popular New Year’s resolution seems to be losing weight or getting in shape, but how many people actually meet their goal? How many keep up those healthy habits all year? Some websites have added elements of competition, including cash prizes, to keep people motivated.
Natural Alternatives to the Flu Vaccine – Flu season is upon us once again. Every year, the media inundates the public with reasons for getting a flu shot because it is apparently the only way to prevent getting the illness. However, there are other ways to stay healthy, even amid the yearly epidemic known as flu season.