Marvel’s New Marvelous Show

BY LILLY METCALFE
Staff Writer

Alcohol, superpowers and a crazy ex-boyfriend, three elements that create a new thrilling television show called “Jessica Jones.”
The show was inspired by Marvel’s comic book “Alias,” where Jones’ character first appears. Her character is introduced into several other popular comics as well, so there is the possibility she might interact with some famous Marvel super heroes down the road.
The show designers chose an opening sequence that fits perfectly as it pays tribute to the stories origin: a comic. The bold colorful backgrounds and black silhouettes look artistic and are tastefully done as if they were from a comic book themselves. The jazz music really fits the private investigator and noir persona of Jones.
Jones has the power of super strength and the ability to jump really high, but the show really focuses on how she suffered abuse from a man with mind-control and turned to drinking to cope. Her first inclination was to run when she discovered he is back in town, but she soon decides to stay and expose him for what he really is: manipulative and evil.
This drama-action series is highly addictive and the plot is continuously moving and keeps the viewers on the edge of their seats. The fight scenes are decent, but definitely not the best, especially when compared to Netflix’s other Marvel hit series “Daredevil.” However, the special effects are well done and the acting is above average for a television show, with the actors being well-chosen for their roles.
In addition, the super villain is absolutely perfect; he is humorous, in love with the main character, has a cool villain name and is absurdly narcissistic.
The character development was well done and over the first season, the writers made a welcome change by making the villain progress into a more relatable character. The writers have also done that with the other main characters as well by having back-stories, flashbacks and meaningful relationships.
Marvel wants all of their shows and movies to be connected like the comic books they are based upon. It is nice that all the superheroes are together and acknowledge each other, but it takes away from the initial story.
Not only that, but “Jessica Jones” poorly integrates “The Avengers.” The awkward mentioning of what happened in the city and that aliens attacked really takes away from the show because it is so out of place in this noir sque dialogue. Also apparently people with powers have to lay low because of what happened in New York, but this is not really explained well and writers need to work on that, especially if viewers have not watched the movies the dialogue is referring to.
There is violence, language and some nudity, but all in which make a television show worth watching. All of the episodes for the first season are all available on Netflix in which any student can easily access and enjoy.
The Flyer gives “Jessica Jones” an 8/10.

Making a documentary: Murderer Edition

BY RILEY FANNING
Staff Writer

The American Criminal Justice System purports the famous phrase “innocent until proven guilty.” The recent culture shock surrounding convicted murderer Steven Avery seems to prove the opposite – declared guilty until proven innocent by a Netflix documentary series.
“Making a Murderer” is a ten-part true-crime Netflix phenomenon. The series follows a man’s journey through being accused of murder, and the resulting media frenzy and trial. The show presents instances of questionable evidence and problematic law enforcement behavior, successfully planting the seeds of doubt in every viewer’s mind about the guilty conviction of Steven Avery, and has led many to question the criminal justice system as a whole.
The show jumps into the past off the bat, discussing Steven Avery’s previous wrongful conviction of sexual assault in the 1980’s. He was later proven innocent through DNA evidence in 2003 after having spent 18 years in prison.
Throughout the series, directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos delve deep into Steven Avery’s life after prison, which is characterized by a threat to his newfound freedom – the accusation of murdering a young woman named Teresa Halbach.
Viewers get an in depth look at the 2007 trial of Steven Avery and his nephew, suspected accomplice Brendan Dassey, watching interviews with lawyers, Avery family members and clips of the actual courtroom proceedings.
In finishing the series, the conclusion that the viewers are supposed to arrive at is blaringly obvious: Steven Avery was most definitely framed, and is currently sitting in prison for a crime he did not commit (again). After first watching it I was convinced as well, but later realized there were many lingering unanswered questions.
What did not make the cut? What was filmed that did not perfectly correlate with the story the filmmakers were trying to convey? Every documentary has some sort of purpose, and every director decides what that purpose is.
A truth will be revealed, but it will be the one they have chosen. The reality of the situation is filtered through the filmmaker’s point of view first, which means that it cannot be 100 percent reliable.
The public’s reaction to the series was swift and strong, with uproar on social media and harassment of the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, whose employees were portrayed as the main framers of Steven Avery.
Although the reaction is understandable if Avery is actually innocent, the decision to completely swallow the work of documentary makers as more valid truth than a full criminal investigation and trial is dangerous.
Time and time again the justice system has failed, but it has also worked. While the documentary certainly exposes faulty facets of the justice system throughout both trials of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, not every single piece of evidence and information was included.
After the public’s explosive reactions surrounding the case, the filmmakers have faced heavy criticism over things that were left out of the series. The proclamation of Steven Avery’s innocence is ignorant of several facts. A few shining examples include his past of animal abuse, claims of abuse from his ex-girlfriend, evidence that was presented at the trial but not in the documentary, etc.
Not to say that this means the series is dishonest. In fact, the documentary perfectly testifies to how the justice system can be severely distorted all in the name of getting a conviction. The arrest and trial of Avery spanned several years, and to show every single detail would be pretty much impossible and extremely tedious to watch.
So the filmmakers did their job, chose what they thought was important and left out what was deemed unworthy. What was left out though, could make all the difference.
The element of bias also factors in. While the filmmakers have claimed they have no opinion about the guilt or innocence of Steven Avery, the series very clearly sides with him. Bias is not something people readily own up to, but it is a part of human nature and has to be looked at when examining the way things were presented in the show.
Yes the system can mess up, case in point Steven Avery’s first wrongful conviction. That does not necessarily correlate to Avery’s innocence in the murder of Teresa Halbach.
“Making a Murderer” has the general public seemingly unable to think critically about the idea that documentaries are not purely straight fact. Binge watching ten episodes of courtroom antics and carefully chosen interviews does not transform any of us into lawyers, judges or jury members.
No one knows for absolute certainty that Avery is innocent, so we must take it upon ourselves to dig deeper than the surface level of a Netflix show. Questioning the case is great, questioning the justice system is crucial but questioning the series is just as essential.

Basement’s emo-rock comeback

BY DREW LACOUTURE
Staff Writer

After a two year hiatus, Basement returns to Run for Cover Records with an explosive yet catchy comeback that is guaranteed to dismiss anybody’s doubts of the English band being one of the best among their punk-rock contemporaries.
With every release, it seems Basement has progressed as a better group and “Promise Everything” continues this track record with great song compositions, killer production and a nearly perfect blend of pop-punk, emo and melodic hardcore.
Lyrically this album is more subtle and is even darker than “colourmeinkindness.” They speak of past love and disappointment like any other emo band, but in a much more convincing way.
The lyrics after the instrumental break on the title track “Promise Everything” (“feeling like a child/tremble in the night/I love you but you try/to kill me every time”) are almost chilling. “Losing Your Grip also provides some depressing content with “I hope when I am reborn/there are knives where should be arms.”
These are Andrew Fisher’s cleanest vocal performances and his singing help drive the lyrics home.  The track “Submissions” is the standout song from him. There have been countless comparisons to him and Title Fight’s Jamie Rhoden, and while it is a fair comparison, Fisher stands out by delivering a balanced vocal style that is pained yet subdue.
Instrumentally this album is every emo-rock beginner’s dream. The guitars and drums are incredibly simple. Perhaps even a little bit too simple. The major flaw with this album is that all the songs start the same way, and some songs sound a little too similar to one another.
Although the only thing that separates “Lose Your Grip” and “Hanging Around” is the latter has a minor chorus rather than having it in major chords which is refreshing and sounds great.
The often monotonous performances can be overlooked because the production on this record is phenomenal. Each individual part comes through crystal clear while still marinating a punk-like sound that fans of the genre can appreciate. These tracks are meant to be listened to on either quality speakers or headphones.
Duncan Stewart really gets to shine because this album is mixed so that bass is often at the same volume as the guitar leads. This helps gives songs like the brilliantly hypnotizing “Oversized” a very dense and weighted sound despite being a mellow track.
Fisher’s vocals on top of the back-up vocals are also perfectly stacked on top of these intense rifts and choruses (“Submission” and “Blinded Eye”). Plus the opener “Brother’s Keeper” has some fantastic transitions, especially the drums filling in the second verse to the chorus.
Without a doubt, the standout track on this record is “Aquasm” with its Jimmy Eat World inspired chorus, and its killer bridge: “And I’ll swim half way/If you swim halfway/Words help me believe/But this is killing me.”
“Promise Everything” is an example of a record that borrows enough from the past, but does not copy and paste from other artists. Their influences are obvious for sure, but the band has a distinct sound and songs like “Halo” help separate them from their contemporaries like Such Gold and Balance and Composure.
Not only is this Basement’s best record, but it has the potential to be an emo-rock classic that like many before it, might establish a huge fan-base over time rather than instantly. The hooks give it endless replay value and even those who may not enjoy music this straightforward will be pulled in by shear sound and production as the first single “Oversized” did for many people.
“Promise Everything” is an excellent comeback record that elevates Basement into emo-rock greatness.
The Flyer gives “Promise Everything” by Basement a 9/10.

Unplanned indictment in Planned Parenthood hoax

BY GENEVIEVE KURTZ
Staff Writer

In an ironic turn of events, the Houston grand jury investigating whether undercover recordings of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast revealed wrongdoing by staffers has indicted the two anti-abortion activists who made the videos instead.
This came after videos were released last year claiming that Planned Parenthood unlawfully sells fetal tissue for profit, which led to a two-month investigation of the organization.
The videos and allegations were made by the Center for Medical Progress, a self-styled group of “citizen journalists.”
Despite the organization’s misleading name, the members are anti-abortion activists – none of whom work toward advancing medical treatments nor are qualified to do so. And despite continual disbelief and outrage from opponents of Planned Parenthood about the videos’ contents, the grand jury determined that the videos were deceptively edited and contained false information.
The founder of the Center for Medical Progress, David Daleiden, and fellow activist involved in the making of the deceitful videos, Sandra Merritt, were indicted on charges of tampering with government records. Additionally, Daleiden was indicted on charges related to the buying and selling of human organs.
The controversy has become an issue in the current presidential campaign – with many Republicans using it as an argument to cut funding for Planned Parenthood and Democrats using it to defend funding the organization. While the main argument for cutting funding is because Planned Parenthood provides abortions, the other services it offers are often overlooked. In fact, only three percent of its total services are abortions and of the approximately 40 percent of funding provided by the government, none of that money goes toward abortion services.
Sure, Planned Parenthood does offer abortions, which remain legal under federal law. But the majority of their services revolve around providing sex education to prevent early and unwanted pregnancies, STI/STD testing and treatment, distributing contraceptives and offering cancer screenings and other services to support women’s health.
The good work and vital services provided by Planned Parenthood are being taken hostage by some zealots spreading vicious lies about the organization.

Poisonous Politics

BY KOBI AZOULAY
Staff Writer

When was the last time you saw a Facebook post calling Republicans gun-nuts, war-lovers, bigots or anything in-between?
How about a post referring to Democrats as hippies, tree-huggers, criminals or welfare-abusers?
The list of insults thrown around in the average political discussion is long enough to make its own dictionary, and that is bad news not only for our government, but for our day-to-day lives as well.
We are losing the ability to have rational, open-minded discussions. Instead of having honest disagreements where people calmly explain their difference of opinion, we have a political atmosphere that often involves insulting and belittling people with other viewpoints.

[Read more…]

The Christmas Creep

By Kobi Azoulay

Staff Writer

@elements11997

Thanksgiving is a time to gather around with your family, discuss what you are thankful for, eat some turkey and sing Christmas carols.

Wait what?

Everyone knows that singing Christmas carols is an activity better suited for after Thanksgiving, but lately Christmas has been encroaching on Turkey Day’s territory.

This phenomenon has been exacerbated by the fact that stores around the United States begin rolling out their Christmas merchandise earlier and earlier every year. [Read more…]

Islamophobia an Urgent Issue

By Kobi Azoulay

Staff Writer

@elements11997

The increase in ISIL coverage within the mainstream media, beginning with the alleged downing of a Russian plane, continuing with the Paris attacks and now reaching a new high in America with the San Bernardino shooting, has many Americans on-edge.

Unfortunately, those attacks have sparked a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, with Republican Presidential Frontrunner Donald Trump serving as the derogatory messenger.

First, he said he would “strongly consider” closing down mosques, before shifting his position to adding surveillance to them. Then a few days later, he announced that he was open to the idea of a database of all Muslims in America.

The public outrage sparked by those ideas was nothing compared to his latest proposal: temporarily ban all Muslims from immigrating or travelling into the country.

“We want to be very fair, but too many bad things are happening and the percentage of true hatred is too great,” Trump said.

Even though prominent Republicans like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz, and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus have come out strongly against the ban, the Republican base is not as concerned.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 38 percent of Republican primary voters support the Muslim ban, while 39 percent are opposed.

Considering the latest national poll from those news sites has Trump at 27 percent support among those same voters, his anti-Muslim proposal has not hurt him and there is even room for his support to grow because of it.

That is bad news for religious freedom in America, and even worse for Muslim-Americans, who have recently seen an increase in discrimination.

According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, as of Dec. 8 there were 63 incidents involving harassment, threats, zoning discrimination and vandalism at American mosques and Islamic centers.

In November, the month that ISIL terrorists killed 130 people in Paris, there were 17 such incidents. That is almost three times as many as the next closest month, matching the threefold increase overall from last year

It is unlikely that the drastic increase is just a coincidence. American extremists are responding to Islamic terrorism with hate crimes of their own.

After Obama’s oval office speech on Dec. 6, Republican Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio criticized how much time he spent talking about anti-Muslim discrimination.

“Where is there widespread evidence that we have a problem in America with discrimination against Muslims?” Rubio asked.

Well Mr. Rubio, check out the statistics above and you can see that there is widespread evidence. Ask the average Muslim on the street and chances are they can give you a personal example of their own.

People might be thinking, “Why should I care about hate crimes against Muslims? It’s wrong and unfortunate, but it doesn’t directly affect me.”

Hate crimes against Muslims play right into the hands of ISIL and other Islamic terror groups. If Muslims do not feel accepted by Western culture, they are more susceptible to terrorists’ message that there is a war against Islam.

This idea is reinforced in a Washington Post article by Jocelyn Bélanger, a psychology professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal.

“When people feel a loss of significance — when they are humiliated — that propels them to join a radical group,” Bélanger said. “A group gives them a feeling of significance. It fulfills a psychological need.”

Instead of pushing them towards these Islamic terrorist groups, Americans must bring them in as one of us. Let Muslims know that we value religious freedom and coexistence.

Hateful Islamophobia can be defeated in America, but it requires the compassionate majority to come together and denounce the anti-Muslim speech and actions being committed on a daily basis.

Hard to Blame Obama for ISIL Plan

BY KOBI AZOULAY

Staff Writer

@elements11997

President Obama has been facing a lot of unfair criticism over his strategy against ISIL, attempting to balance defeating the terror group with avoiding war.

Now, after basing many special operators in Northern Syria to support the Kurdish Pershmerga and other local militias fighting the terror organization, the political pressure facing the president has reached ear popping levels.

Some war-weary Americans worry that by putting troops on the ground in Syria, we are creeping towards an inevitable full-scale invasion. This is possible, but unlikely under Obama because he has made it clear throughout his presidency that he does not want to engage in a full-scale invasion like the United States did during the Iraq war.

“If the Iraqis themselves are not willing or capable to arrive at the political accommodations necessary to govern, if they are not willing to fight for the security of their country, we cannot do that for them,” Obama said, according to Politico.

There are already just over 3,000 troops stationed in Iraq supporting and training their security forces. Though these troops may face dangerous situations, they are not conducting their own combat missions.

Obama deserves credit for trying to handle this situation in a strategically and calculated way.

A December CNN/ORC poll showed that the majority of Americans support sending ground troops into combat operations in Iraq and Syria at 53 percent. What some of these people may not realize is that there are already ground troops there.

Going into a full-blown ground war is a decision that the American people do not take lightly, unlike war hawk politicians like South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who already wants to send 10,000 American troops to Iraq.

These troops would be in grave danger, and we would have to commit to staying there until the mission is complete.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz once said that America should be able to defeat ISIL in 90 days, a timeframe that is terribly unrealistic.

Former General Martin Dempsey told Cruz at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in September that his plan is “not possible.”

“We could destroy a lot of equipment; we could drive them underground, if you will. But as I said, they will only be defeated or destroyed once they’re rejected by the populations in which they hide,” Dempsey said at the time.

Until those populations do as Dempsey said, another costly American occupation of Iraq would go to waste. The Iraq war caused thousands of brave American lives and trillions of dollars to be lost, and it is possible a full-scale war against ISIL would cost just as much, if not more.

Obama is trying to see if America can handle them without having to take on these horrible costs of war.

People that think America should go into Iraq and Syria with an iron fist have to see past defeating ISIL. It is definitely possible for us to send thousands of troops in to destroy their so-called “state,” but what happens next?

If we take them out and leave, there will be a vacuum for another terrorist group to come in and takeover, just as ISIL did after we overthrew Suddam Hussein.

Recently they have also gained territory in Libya, so if we commit to war with ISIL, we have to be ready to send troops to more than just Iraq and Syria.

Americans should not blame Obama for taking the moderate approach to this decision.

With one faction of Americans completely opposed to war, and another wanting to move aggressively toward it, we have a president that is finding the middle ground.

That is a rare occurrence in modern American politics, something we should all be able to appreciate.

Free Speech or Ideological Puritanism?

By Sam Stevens

The takeaway from the student uprisings of the last few months is that many students graduating universities are incapable functioning in a republic.

Free speech presupposes that everyone tolerates each other in the true meaning of the term. Instead, the concept has been perverted. Everyone must embrace lifestyles or identities with which they disagree, to the point that their own identities are considered invalid or hateful. For example, the concept of freedom of association when it comes private businesses has been all but eroded.

Universities are supposed to be places of open discourse. Rather than adopt a true diversity when it comes to political thought, many have taken the route of going into hysterics when something counters their social justice ideology.

It is not the administration of these universities that launches into a rage. Students lashed out of the administrators of Yale University for suggesting that they be open to different ideas.

Yale is one of the Ivy League universities. The future leaders of the nation are supposed to graduate from Yale. Yet they need the school to police Halloween costumes they consider “racist.”

This episode suggests what academics at that university must be like. However, I can only speculate, as I do not attend the college. It does suggest a narrow range of acceptable thought.

Television, movies, and mass media have foisted upon the country this narrow range of thought, cloaking it in inclusiveness and diversity. The other mechanism is pre-packaged systems: social justice liberalism a la MSNBC and neo-conservatism a la Fox News.

Both police their respective ideological pools with ruthless efficiency. Any criticism of Israel will get you ostracized from the Republican establishment, while any criticism of immigration earns you the same fate on the other side.

This kind of conditioning is so rampant that people self-police their own thoughts and behaviors, unless they want to the self-appointed thought police to shriek them down and brand them as a deviant.

The point of a republic is to allow qualified citizens to vote and deliberate on the issues in order to come to some kind of consensus. The adherents to the kind of ‘safe space’ politics cannot function in a democracy. If someone is shielded from any disagreement or alternative ideas, it leads to stagnation and decay.

All one-party, totalitarian states fail because of this flaw. The establishment becomes so convinced of its superiority, partly because they have purged any alternative ideas.

While there are no secret police, it’s almost as if America has marginalized truly diverse thinkers. The 1960s Cultural Revolution, like all revolutions, has turned on itself.

Where the Baby Boomers championed free speech decades ago, we now have the nebulous concept of hate speech, where the self-appointed guardians of speech lambaste anything remotely beyond the pale of political correctness as “fascist.”

The “68er” Cultural Revolution mirrors the French Revolution on a much less violent scale. The students of Yale, Missouri, and other universities are the destructive Jacobin force, the true believers in “safe space” politics, attacking their Baby Boomer and Gen-X Girondists, the moderates that actually believe in free speech.

What this means for intellectual discourse in America’s universities will emerge as time goes on. Should the trend ideological Puritanism continue, it can only lead to tyranny. If the students of Yale and Missouri want their universities to coddle them and insulate them from alternative ideas, they will only want a state that does the same.

 

American Families Decaying

By Kristopher Price

The American family is in a state of decay. Contrary to what some people might tell you however, it is not because of the increased acceptance of gay marriage, decreasing religiosity of Americans or independence of young women.

These bogeymen actually take away credence from real issues threatening the filial integrity of families across the country. These issues are a combination of American individualism at its worst, and nonexistent social and welfare policies for new parents and families.

One of the proud cornerstones of American culture is its individualism. People are encouraged to go pursue their own dreams instead of being tied to a family company or farm; there is the common, now increasingly questioned, assumption that with enough effort, you can become anything.

However, this spirit of individualism has a dark side.

Many millennials are familiar with their generation being shunned for not immediately leaving home after graduation, due to not being able to afford a new home. The idea that moving out and buying your own house is what every young adult is supposed to do is actually only a couple generations old.

During the Baby Boom, millions of Americans bought houses in the suburbs, and so did their children. But now people who do not do this and remain living with their parents or relatives are often depicted in the media as immature, lazy, loners or freaks. There is a clear discouragement of living with your immediate family upon entering adulthood present here.

Another consequence of this is the eventual isolation of parents as they grow older after their children grow up and move out. If they do not live with a relative, a senior citizen can often become lonely or depressed, not to mention being less able to take care of themselves.

An interesting thing is that this discouragement of living with your family is not present in other countries. In Italy or Spain, for example, it is very common for someone to live with their extended family under one roof. If these cultures have no problem with this, then why do we?

Another significant problem affecting families is the distinct lack of paid parental leave in America. The United States is one of only eight countries in the world that does not require employers to pay parents of newborn children. The consequences of this are new mothers having to bring their babies to work, or one of the parents having to make the tough decision to stay home to take care of the kid. This can be very stressful on parents.

A more beneficial and healthy system would require employers to pay both parents, not just the mothers, while they take mandatory leave for an extended period, from six weeks to three months to even a year, to raise their child. This will give mothers more time to recover from giving birth, and let parents take better care of their child by spending more time around them.

You might be wondering why the integrity of families in America is important. The interesting thing is that happiness has been found to correlate strongly with how close ties are between family members in a given country.

For example, Venezuela might not be the first country people imagine living happily in, with its corrupt government and insane economy. However, it ranks seventh among the top happiest countries, ranked by positive index scores. Family bonds are highly valued in Latin American cultures, so this correlation between family and happiness holds true here.

People on the far right often attack new or alternative forms of family, such as gay couples or polyamorous relationships. But the fact is that these groups of people are just as capable, and sometimes better at, raising children than their heterosexual and/or monoamorous counterparts.

Gay couples, for obvious reasons, are not at risk of accidentally conceiving a child. This gives them the chance to think more carefully and be more prepared for having one. Not much research has been done on polyamorous relationships (romantic relationships between more than two people), but there is no logical reason to think that a larger set of people would be less well equipped at raising a child.

The consequences of the decaying state of American families may not seem immediate, but they will become apparent over time if not addressed. Without a reliable support network to fall back on, many Americans will become more and more isolated, some of them even falling through the gaps in the system. There might even be effects on our mental and emotional health as well.

This is why it is important that we ameliorate these issues, and could start with something as simple as paid parental leave.

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