Listen: A New Beginning With *1996*

Photographed by Morgan Martinez

Photographed by Morgan Martinez

by Scout Kelly

The worst part about making art is wanting to make art. A recent track release by the hot, young band *1996*, a flourishing project by Midwest-based artist Nicholas Ryan Abel, details the anxiety of performance not just as an artist but as a human-person. The track opens with an interview with the artist, who you later realize is both the speaker and the subject. It’s transparent and funny, a look into the pressure one feels when creating and the self-deprecating fear that what you have yet to make is somehow already a failure, even before existing. The second half of the track is a harrowing, dark song that still retains a certain prettiness. It sounds like an episode of the twilight zone, but with glitter.

You can listen to past releases of *1996* on their Bandcamp. Don't miss their performance at the Hooligan Mag Four Year Art Collective. Tickets are available online till February 14th and then available at the door.

Photographed by Morgan Martinez

Photographed by Morgan Martinez

#ReadBeforeYou: Thoughts on Disability and Representation in Cinema

By Rosie Accola 

Credit to Warner Brothers

Credit to Warner Brothers

~Spoiler Alert~

The film adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ novel, “Me Before You,” is already being hailed as a summer box office Blockbuster, with a star-studded cast including Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) and Sam Caflin (The Hunger Games). Based on trailers, soundtracked by the quintessential indie woes of The X Ambassadors and Ed Sheeran, the film seems like an opportunity for air-conditioned cinematic escapism at its’ best … and a purveyor of bullshit stereotypes surrounding disabled people’s quality of life at its worst.

The film follows Lou (Emilia Clarke) as she starts her job as a caregiver for a quadriplegic billionaire, Will Traynor, (Sam Caflin). Will and Lou fall in love as she attempts to help him see the good in life. She is infectiously bright and quirky, like any good manic pixie dream girl, she rocks snail buns, brings him flowers— yet to no avail. Eventually Will decides to kill himself via assisted suicide in Switzerland so he won’t hold his friends and family back.

The idea that disabled people are burdens, that there is no possibility of a quality life if that life happens to include a disability, is incredibly toxic and disappointing. One would think that having a disabled person as a main character in a film, especially as a character that is desired rather than desexualized, something that mainstream cinema rarely does, would be a positive thing. Even the saccharine nature of Will falling for his caregiver and vice versa seems almost forgivable, because for once a disabled character exists in the spotlight as someone with romantic interests. Yet, the fact that Will actively decides to end his life for fear of “holding [his partner] back” makes the film's execution a disservice to any sort of mainstream disability representation.

The notion that this experience, of caring for and loving will, somehow makes Lou a better person also perpetuates the narrative of inspiration porn— i.e that the existence of disabled people is noble just because they managed to exist and get out of bed despite being disabled. It’s best exemplified by experience rather than critical terminology, it’s when people tell you they “can’t even imagine” living with chronic pain/having to think through walking down stairs/being they shouldn’t drive etc.  Also by saying Will changed Lou, the film furthers the idea that in narrative art, disability is best used as a plot device or a prop rather than a real, nuanced experience.

This film serves as yet another opportunity for able-bodied actors to profit off of disability narratives. Rather than seek out an actor who was actually quadriplegic, Warner Bros decided to cast Sam Clafin— perhaps this decision was made due to the chemistry between Clafin and Clarke, or Clafin’s Hunger Games allure. Yet it speaks to Hollywood’s overwhelming tendency to utilize experiences of disability without consulting disabled writers, actors, or directors themselves.

Take for example, 2014’s Margarita with a Straw, the Bollywood film follows a young Indian girl named Laila with cerebral palsy as she attends college to study writing in New York. Laila deals with various bullshit aspects of existing while disabled in a university setting, she gets assigned a writing assistant even though she never requested one, but demurs because her writing assistant happens to be hot.  She wins the Battle of the Bands competition at her high school because “a disabled musician wrote the lyrics.” Laila responds to the announcers request for a few words by flipping her off, and it’s triumphant, the middle finger that inspiration porn always needed.

The film is also one of, maybe the only, film that honestly depicts sexuality and disability as coexisting entities. Laila masturbates. She makes out feverishly with another boy in a wheelchair, wheeling up close so she can better loop her arms around him. Once she’s in America, she falls in love with a feminist activist named Khanum, who happens to be a blind woman.  Their relationship gets all the trappings of a hetero box office smash, complete with a loved-up montage featuring two disabled women of color and it’s wonderful

Yet, the woman who plays Laila, Kalki Koechlin, is able bodied. Her movements, her attempts to move her arms in a stiff, titled manner, her head tilt, read as a parody there’s a hollowness. Koechlin has never actually dealt with the immense amounts of frustration that can be felt towards ones own body and knowing this almost feels like a betrayal. On one hand, I know it’s called acting for a reason, but I also know that disabled actors exist. At least, with Margarita,the disability rights group ADAPT was listed as a coproducer in the credits, which insinuates that the film got some input from people who are actually disabled. According to The Guardian, “The film, she says, took its cues from her cousin, Malini Chib, who was born with cerebral palsy and wrote about it in her autobiography, “One Little Finger”. The cousins are just a year apart in age, so they grew up together.” Throughout the film Leila’s mom also makes a point to explain to her college caregiver that, “Cerebral palsy only affects her fine motor skills, it has nothing to do with her intelligence” this is a display of empathy that Me Before You clearly lacks. It implies that disability is a facet of identity, a piece of a complicated whole rather than the defining factor. At the end of the film, Leila takes herself out for a drink, in a classic “treat yourself” fashion. She grabs a margarita, complete with a bendy straw she brought for herself. She asks the waitstaff to pour it into the cup she brought as well, one with a handle and a top, thus making it easier for her to hold. They oblige, and she sips her margarita contentedly, admiring herself in the mirror. Oftentimes in mainstream narratives, we rarely get to see disabled characters content by themselves— any modicum of personhood is always held in relationship to a caregiver or a partner. So to see Laila, out drinking by herself…reveling in her independence and her new haircut is downright affirming.

The tagline of Me Before You is #LiveBoldly, and Margarita with a Straw serves as a necessary reminder that disabled people can do just that, while ironically, Me Before You does not. Margarita With a Straw is the sort of representation that we need; we don’t need to see any more smarmy Forrest Gump bullshit, or any disabled people that exist merely as plot devices or life lessons. We need to remind people that disabled people can and do live boldly, margaritas in hand.

The Hateful Eight: Tarantino and Feminism

By Anna Brüner

 

Courtesy of  The Weinstein Company
That woman deserves her revenge, and we deserve to die.”
— Kill Bill Vol. 1

When I first came to film school, I would roll my eyes and suppress my snarky chuckles any time the legion of fanboys in my classes and on my crews brought up Quentin Tarantino. Oh, Pulp Fiction is your favorite movie? You hardcore individualist. Oh, you think Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 are best when viewed together back to back? Such a visionary. Oh, you saw Reservoir Dogs before any of your friends did? You must be a goddamn prodigy, boy. But I would be totally full of shit if I didn’t acknowledge the truth that, yes, Tarantino is one of the main reasons a lot of people want to make movies. He was even one of the main reasons I came to film school, something I’m sure he’s disappointed in me for, since he rails against film school and lauds the “just go out there and do it yourself at all costs” method of filmmaking. But I like to think Quinny and I are on good terms.

There’s a reason why Tarantino’s style is called “fanboy cinema,” and no, it has nothing to do with his more­often­than­not obnoxious fanbase. It’s because his movies are made to be finely woven tapestries that pay homage to his favorite films, made for people who love film as much as he does. Westerns. Gangster flicks. Grindhouse. Gritty, 70’s drive­ins and underrated international classics. These are the “sugar and spice and everything nice” that go into making a Tarantino film. Excessive violence, killer soundtracks, bold colors, and characters with questionable morality. Another one of these key ingredients? Misogyny.

Now go ahead and call Tarantino whatever you want, the man has been called almost every name in the book. But absolutely do not call him a misogynist. Sure, many of his characters are misogynists. But Tarantino, like every artist, is not his art. Despite what I’ve called many of the men I’ve worked with who cite him as their favorite director, I would never dare call good ‘ole Quinny a misogynist. In fact, it was never until I started seeing reviews of The Hateful Eight roll in...most of them misinformed complaints as opposed to actual reviews...that I had ever heard “Tarantino” and “misogynist” uttered in the same sentence in mainstream media.

The Hateful Eight is a harsh movie, set in the harsh snowy landscape of the American Rockies, during a harsh time in America’s history. The film picks up just after the American Civil War, but don't think that The Hateful Eight is anyway a follow up or partner to Tarantino’s last film, Django Unchained, also a western. In Eight, we find ourselves and our characters surrounded by an unforgiving wilderness with a blizzard closing in fast. All of them take shelter in the same cabin to wait out the storm. Two of them are bounty hunters, one is the new sheriff in town, one a Confederate general, one a hangman, one a Mexican frontiersman who tends to the cabin, one a mysterious loner, and one a murderer being taken into town to hang. There’s only one woman in the cabin, and she’s the murderer.

Daisy Domergue is unlike any other Tarantino heroine....the main difference being that she's not a heroine. She's a killer, a criminal, a gang leader, and she out to kill anyone who tries to take her in. All the men in the cabin are likely targets....until you realize that at least of them is working with Daisy. Unlike Tarantino’s other female characters, we never get a backstory on Daisy (aside from the fact that she’s a murderer), and very little is done to create empathy for her. She shouts racial slurs, spits in people’s faces, lashes out violently, and parades around chained to bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth’s wrist like she’s just showed up to the party of the century. The only time Daisy every appears docile is while strumming a guitar and singing “Bye and bye, I'll break m' chains and to the bush I'll go / And you'll be dead behind me, John, when I get to Mexico.” 

Courtesy of the Weinstein Company

Courtesy of the Weinstein Company

There is absolutely nothing sympathetic about Daisy. She’s not a vengeful Jewish orphan out to bring down the Third Reich like Inglourious Basterds’ Shoshanna. She’s not a wronged assassin hunting down the people who tried to kill her and took her child like Kill Bill’s The Bride. She certainly isn’t the ride or die, free spirited, impassioned love interest Fabienne from Pulp Fiction.The only thing we, as an audience, are given to feel anything for Daisy is the violence committed against her. From the very beginning of the film, she is bruised, bloody, beaten multiple times by John Ruth and the butt of his gun, threatened, thrown around, and brutalized. None of it, by the way, sexual. Only pure violence. And threw it all she laughs, curses, swaggers, and smirks.

This is what I’ve noticed most critics calling The Hateful Eight “misogynistic” refer to in their arguments that the film encourages violence against women. But upon seeing the movie, I simply couldn’t see where they are coming from. Daisy is a violent criminal, who meets with violence when she lashes out. If she were a man, absolutely nothing about the plot or character dynamics would change. So why then, did Tarantino make Daisy’s character a woman, when he didn’t have to?

Because he’s a feminist.

Remember when Gone Girl came out and audiences lauded the representation of a cold, calculating female villain? Well, guess what Daisy is? The violence committed against her in The Hateful Eight doesn’t make her a victim, just like the adultery committed against Amy in Gone Girl doesn’t make her  a victim. Daisy is no victim, and Tarantino is no misogynist. He's about the most un­misogynistic person I've ever met,” said Jennifer Jason Leigh, who plays Daisy. “He loves women. He writes the best parts for women around, really.”

And who can disagree with that? Smugglers. Gun runners. Assassins. Mob bosses. Drug dealers. Spies. Murderers. These are the kinds of parts Tarantino creates for women, that women so rarely get. Not only has he put women in these types of roles, but he has exposed generations of aspiring male filmmakers to these types of female characters. He has taken the almost unheard of female anti­hero, and he has launched her into the mainstream. With Hateful Eight, he has put the female villain into the mainstream in a way that disregards sex or gender and focuses on one thing: brutality.

The Hateful Eight deals with a lot of topics: the justice system, racial relations following the Civil War, the divide between the north and the south, the east and the west, and the underlying violence that all humans, no matter who they are, are capable of. One thing it doesn’t deal with, however, is misogyny. I hate Daisy Domergue, but I love her. I love that she exists. I love her ugliness, her evil, and her rage, and I love that I am never once asked to pity her.

“When you get to hell, John, tell them Daisy sent you.” 

All Eyes On Bibi

By Delaney Clifford

 

 

FEBRUARY 19, 2016 – Acclaimed artist Bibi Bourelly has released her new track “Sally” on Def Jam Recordings alongside LA-based tech genius Master of Shapes for a collaborative project that will change the way that the world watches music videos. This isn’t the first time that Bourelly has turned heads with her music. In addition to working with chart-toppers such as Rihanna (“Bitch Better Have My Money,” “Higher,” “Pose” and “Yeah, I Said It”); Selena Gomez (“Camouflage”); Usher & Nas (“Chains,” and Usher’s upcoming new single); and Nick Brewer (“Talk To Me” featuring Bibi Bourelly), Bourelly has created music of her own that has earned its spot in hip hop and R&B. “Sally” is the follow-up to Bourelly’s hit single “Ego” which topped national charts in the United States, Canada, and the UK as well as the Spotify Viral 50. “Ego” was hailed as “lyrically idealistic, a song that she hopes will galvanize listeners ‘to have a little more backbone and be a bit louder,” (Noisey) and put her on the map as an artist that would steal the spotlight from any competitor, even the artists that she’s worked with to collaborate on music in the past.

           But enough about the past. “Ego” is what put Bourelly on the map, but “Sally” is what tore the damn map in half. Speaking only to the power of her music, Bourelly has lost no steam since “Ego.” In fact, she has only pushed on harder, with the pounding groove that “Sally” provides being enough to shake anybody out of their seat. This song could easily be the backtrack to an entourage taking on the streets of Los Angeles, New York, you name it – or the craziest, most drug-induced night of your life, either way really. Bourelly’s angelic voice still shines through the intrinsic grooves and bounces that the beat has to offer, keeping you entranced through the entire thing. The song is, for lack of a better term, one you need to listen to. It oozes emotion, bashes your eardrums in, and keeps your heart pounding all throughout. Check this one out before you miss the train.


           If Bourelly’s musical artistry wasn’t enough to get you hooked, perhaps her collaboration will be. With releasing “Sally,” Bourelly worked alongside Master of Shapes, a technological genius who has revolutionized the way we use computers and graphic design. With this project, Master of Shapes has created a way for people to make their own music videos with a mere copy and paste. Users include a link to their favorite Tumblr site, and the program that Master of Shapes has created takes the .gifs and images from that site to create a music video that reacts to Bourelly’s “Sally.” This idea brings the listener into the art in a whole new fashion, creating one of the most interactive experiences that the art of music videos has ever faced. This new interactivity and collaboration only creates more interest in Bourelly and her music, as we patiently wait to see what she’ll do next. Whatever that happens to be, Bourelly is stepping from behind the curtain of making music for other artists and coming into her own. This is an important motion, as other ghost writers and engineers begin to take the spotlight. Whatever you do, be sure to keep your eyes on Bibi.


You can check out Bibi Bourelly at the following links:

Website: http://bibisociety.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BibiBourelly_

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bibibourelly

Tumblr: https://bibibourellymusic.tumblr.com/

Snapchat: bibibourelly


Best of 2015: Transfixing, Transgressive, Transparent

By Lyndsey Bourne

Courtesy of  Amazon

Courtesy of Amazon

Since its release, Transparent has become the most widely accepted radical show on mainstream television. Jill Soloway’s groundbreaking television series buries the binary, successfully arguing that gender is a construct and sexuality is fluid. Much has been said about this transgressive show, and even more about Soloway, the seditious mind behind a series that so cleverly explores intersectionality in our patriarchal society.

Like many, I devoured the second season feeling heartbroken and transfixed. Never before have I experienced a show that so acutely conveys the vulnerabilities and confusion of being a person in 2015. The second season focuses greatly on Ali, the Pfefferman's youngest daughter (and portrayed by Gaby Hoffman), examining her adventurous and brave confusion over her families' past, her gender, and the correlation between the two. Ali is constantly questioning her femininity, and what it is to be feminine - something which, to my knowledge, has yet to be represented on television though the confusion (even the word itself) characterizes such a huge part of the experience (at least my experience) of being a woman.

Femininity is fucking confusing and that’s something we’re still not talking about enough. Hollywood and the media’s representation of women usually falls into two categories (not surprisingly stemming from the bible): Madonna/whore, or wife/mistress, virgin/slut… This reductive division is a result of the male gaze, and the all too often, male camera, reaffirming the idea that women are there to be watched. In film and television, on and off screen, women are not the ones watching.

In 2014, women only accounted for 27% of directing, writing, producing and editing positions in television according to The Center for the Study Of Women in Television and Film. I know, I know, we’ve had this conversation, I’m preaching to the choir here but our perspective is simply under-represented.

In her book, Tiny Women in Shiny Pants, Soloway explains it like this: in basic sentence structure, there is a subject and an object. The subject is doing, while the object is receiving. We need to change the subjectivity of on screen narratives by positioning the camera “into the hands of people who would normally be the object of the story instead of the subject.” Of course, this doesn’t apply exclusively to women. Hollywood – the whole world really, needs to transition to a less binary way of viewing society.

Sad, silly, messy, charming, heartbreaking – all words that can be used to describe what I believe is the most important television show on air. If nothing else, Transparent succeeds by encouraging viewers to – like the Pfefferman Family – live more authentically, more thoughtfully, and question a worldview that has been so specifically dominated by heteronormative opinions and experiences. 

A Taxonomy of Femininity and Sisterhood

By Annie Zidek

We are lucky to live in a part of the world where feminism has forced a marriage between equality and women, even though there are still many steps that need to be taken. Regardless, it’s important to realize that there are still parts of the world where women are disregarded in their society; their femininity is oppressed, and their softness is taken advantage of. About a month ago, I went to the Chicago Film Festival with my friend Erin to go see the Turkish film, Mustang, which depicted this discrepancy in feminism through five sisters and their emotional, sexual, and physical maturation during their time in a society where they and their Sisterhoods are overlooked.

Photo Courtesy of Kinology

Photo Courtesy of Kinology

Set in a small town in Turkey, Eastern Islamic ideology drives the familial forces in this household; there is a total disregard for women and feminine beauty. The five sisters—Sonay, Selma, Ece, Nur, and Lale—are suppressed of female rites of passage throughout their female rites of passage because they were innocently fooling around at the beach with some boys after the last day of school. Consequently, the girls’ uncle and grandmother hide them from sex and other female liberties while breeding them for marriage. Scattered along the spectrum from child to woman, the girls are interconnected emotionally because of their isolation. They find beauty in their disregard: they sprawl on floors, limbs entangled with the others’ while bathed in Turkish afternoon light. During “wife lessons,” they joke with one another and what the unknown future holds for them. On their occasional excursions out of the house, they pile into tiny cars together and joke about sexuality. They’re their own girl gang, supporting each other through the trials and tribulations of their caretakers’ emotional and physical abuse.

The sisters watch one another get married. Sonay and Selma are wed off first: Sonay is the lucky one who marries the boy she loves while Selma is stuck in an arranged marriage—her unhappiness clearly illustrated through her belligerent drunkenness and disarray at her own wedding. Not only do they celebrate together, they grieve together. When death kisses one of the sisters and their sisterly dynamic is hindered, they come together—though only for a moment—and lament. Their unadulterated bond and pure love is once again highlighted through their spooning and caressing and soft weeping.

Photo Courtesy of Kinology

Photo Courtesy of Kinology

The dynamic of their Sisterhood clearly explores serious subjects such as love and suicide and also womanhood. Though femininity is not a necessary role in Sisterhood, its function is enforced in the girls’ lives and relationships. The girls are constantly shown in their bras and underwear but never fully nude, a symbol of their simultaneous liberating innocence and sexual awakening. This depiction kills the idea of nudity’s warped sexuality and puts the nakedness in the context of familial boundaries and sisterly comfort. 

Not only do their clothes represent womanhood, but their long hair, left uncut due to their Islamic heritage, also symbolizes their stark femininity and strong sexuality. The oldest sister, Sonay, who coincidentally boasts the longest hair among the sisters, is the first to openly admit to her sexual escapades when she talks about engaging in anal sex to avoid pregnancy and the breaking of her hymen; next is Selma who tells her gynecologist she “slept with the whole world” after she didn’t bleed on her wedding sheets. The last sister to partake in sexual encounters is Ece, who sleeps with a random man in her uncle’s car while he’s in the bank. All their sexual encounters mark a transition from youth to adulthood, giving sexuality regality.

Photo Courtesy of Kinology

Photo Courtesy of Kinology

Cinematically, sexuality and femininity are distinct: with visceral colors and light in nearly every scene, the director adorns the girls with strong female characteristics. In many scenes, light engulfs the sisters, putting them in an almost angelic framework. Draping them in natural lighting presents the girls as mundane goddesses. And the colors, varying hues of blues and greens and pink and yellows, give them a sense of life and vitality and youth, memorializing their childlike Sisterhood. These sisterly and womanly visuals offer a glimpse into the interworking of Sisterhood and the pivotal role femininity plays for this family of sisters specifically.

Compared to the Sisterhood of these Turkish sisters, my personal Sisterhoods seem insignificant and petty. Yes, we’ve had our own family struggles but never to the extent of the sisters in Mustang. Still I found solace in the distinct connection between that family and my own: Sisterhood is powerful. In Sisterhood, you are a band of sisters working through life together, leaning on each other, feeding off one another, being there for one another.

Photo Courtesy of Kinology

Photo Courtesy of Kinology