Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Breakfast Club


“Saturday, March 24,1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois, 60062. Dear Mr. Vernon, We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did *was* wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That’s the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed.”

These are the opening lines to my favorite movie of all time: The Breakfast Club. This 1985 teenage drama is, in my opinion, pure cinematic perfection. (I could be biased… But who wouldn’t be after watching it 30+ times?) The movie tells the story of five seniors in high school who land themselves in a Saturday detention for various reasons that are explained as the movie unfolds. Claire is the rich popular girl, and Andrew is a varsity wrestler. John Bender is the bad-boy delinquent, Brian is the socially-oblivious dork, and Allison is the reclusive “basket case.” At first, they all keep to themselves with the exception of Claire and Andrew, who are both popular and thus in the same crowd. Bender entertains himself by provoking and teasing the other students. This eventually leads to conversations where the students get to know personal information about each other. They push each other to their limits. By the end of the day, the characters have let their guards down and have allowed everyone to see the kind of people they are behind the guise of their respective social groups.


For those of you who have not seen The Breakfast Club, I look at it as the more mature parallel to Mean Girls. They both had similar effects on me, anyway. However, where Mean Girls remained a comedy, The Breakfast Club is more of a drama, and covers far more serious topics such as drug use, suicide, and sex. The film illustrates the variety of pressures that can control a teenager’s life. It made me realize that every teen, regardless of appearance or social status, deals with the same problems. This priceless bit of insight changed the way I look at people in my school and community. I do not see people as “jocks” or “druggies;” instead I look at them and I wonder what their life is like. Infiltrating the wall everyone puts up around themselves helps me to understand people better. I empathize. Once I realized that I didn’t have to feel intimidated or inhibited just because someone is in a different social group, it allowed me to connect with so many more people. As Andrew Clark puts it: “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.”The_Breakfast_Club_372 

Edward Scissor Pointe Shoes

When I say the word “ballerina,” what comes to mind? If you are like most of the world, you will think of little girls in pink tutus or women in flowing gowns twirling and leaping across a stage. Those images of beauty and flawless movement are exactly what ballerinas want their audience to see. However, underneath their smiling facade lurks brutal intensity and painful dedication.

This past August, artist Javier Perez released a video called “En Puntas” that demonstrates the mental and physical struggle ballet dancers endure to perfect their movement. In the video, Amelie Segarra dances on top of a grand piano en pointe. (Pointe is a form of ballet done in shoes that contain layers of densely packed paper, fabric, and cardboard in the front. Pointe shoes allow dancers to balance on their toes instead of the balls of their feet, which elongates their legs and exaggerates their movements.) However, Amelie Segarra’s pointe shoes are different- giant steel knives were attached to the bottom. Now not only is she balancing on her toes, but she is doing that on the edge of a blade.Javier-Perez-En-Puntas-3       en-puntas-L-fzvplO


In the video, Amelie attempts to dance on top of the grand piano. The knives scrape across the wood, dangerously close to the edge of the piano, creating a penetrating scratching noise. I think this represents the fine line pointe dancers tread between art and torture. Right in the middle of those ideas is dramatic perfection. The way Segarra flirts with the edge of the piano and comes close to falling off several times deliberately makes the audience on edge (bah dum tss). Javier Perez wants the audience to feel anxiety over Amelie’s dance because that gives insight into the intensity of a ballet dancer’s stenuous training.

Throughout the video, Segarra’s movements become increasingly violent. She bourres and stabs at the piano. At a few points, she screams out at her feet in frustration. The severity of her movements and shouts represent the strain dancers put on their bodies to reach perfection. Particularly in ballet, dance moves are specific and exact. If a ballerina cannot perform precisely, she is not needed. The stakes are high for professional ballerinas, so they put their bodies through tremendous strain in order to live up to expectations. This level of pressure is physically and mentally exhausting, and Perez captures this battle in Segarra’s violence.

So, moral of the story: although dancers make it look easy, never underestimate the intense dedication and training that goes into ballet.


Blurred Lines

Unless you were living under a rock for the last four months, you have undoubtedly heard the song “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. Full of catchy beats and funky vocals, the song quickly became a success after its release in July 2013. However, as the song skyrocketed to the top of the charts, so did its criticism. Many people feel that “Blurred Lines” promotes misogyny and perpetuates rape culture.  The “blurred lines” Thicke refers to degrade females and the song’s popularity only makes that message even more prevalent in the media. I looked into some articles about “Blurred Lines” that offered people’s criticism of the song.–> “Feminist Takedown of Robin Thicke…”

  • Author is Elizabeth Plank and her description on the website is: “Viral Content & Social Justice Editor at PolicyMic”
  • She makes the argument that Thicke’s lyrics make it seem like it’s okay and even sexy to pressure a girl into having sex. The video objectifies women as well as promotes the idea that sometimes stop means go.
  • She quotes Thicke’s comment about how America has more important things to worry about than naked women in his song. Her response is: “It’s not like women’s objectification is linked to any other serious social problem…like, I don’t know, violence against women?!” She goes on to explain how the song augments the already existing problem of making rape seem less serious in the media than it actually is.–> “In a Surprising Twist, Robin Thicke Is Now Convinced He’s Starting a Feminist Movement”

  • Author is Elizabeth Plank and her description on the website is: “Viral Content & Social Justice Editor at PolicyMic”
  • After an interview with Robin Thicke where he claimed “Blurred Lines” was supposed to start a conversation about feminism and the media’s objectification of women, Plank makes the argument that Thicke has no idea what he is talking about. This summarizes her argument: “There’s a way to question women’s systematic objectification in the media and Blurred Lines was not the way to do it. Women are already treated as play things in music videos. There’s nothing subversive about doing a worst version of what already exists. It’s like making a statement about the fact that people litter, by littering more. It’s lazy. It’s not admirable. It’s despicable.”
  • The article connects to other issues such as: hypocrisy in the media and where the fine line rests between art and nonsense.

Some people, however, feel that Robin Thicke received way too much backlash for the song. One example of such a belief was in the following article…–> “Blurring the Lines of Feminism”

  • The author only offered his or her initials, KC. He or she posted the article onto their blog which features the subtitle: “An occasional criticism of overwhelming opinions.”
  • She believes the song really is empowering and that if you take the time to actually listen to the lyrics, you will appreciate that the song is about freeing a woman from her sexist obligations.
  • This connects to many other issues, the most prevalent of which is the issue of what defines feminism? Is it gender equality, or has it become a way for women to dominate men? The article also connects to the issue of the effectiveness of feminism. Is it empowering women or condemning a woman’s right to sexuality?


Northern Ireland endured almost a century of non-stop violence and terrorism from the early 1900s to the late 1990s. Technically, the British owned Northern Ireland until 2011. Since Ireland was not part of the UK, this meant that a portion of the country was under control of another. The problems arose from some people– Unionists or Loyalists, and largely Protestant– wanting to let Northern Ireland remain under British control, while others– Irish Nationalists or Republicans, and generally Catholic– wanted Northern Ireland to rejoin the rest of Ireland. People viciously defended their side and the conflict entrenched itself in Irish culture.

In 1913, Irish Nationalists created a militant organization called the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to fight for Irish independence. In 1916, the IRA staged its infamous Easter Rebellion against the British. There were hundreds of casualties, including many civilians. Over the course of the 20th century, the IRA transformed into different associated groups. In the mid 1970s, the IRA became the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army). Despite the name change, they essentially inflicted the same level of terrorism as the IRA did in order to demand Irish independence.

In 1993, the INLA detonated bombs in the town of Warrington, England. The second explosion killed two children: 3-year old Jonathon Ball and 12-year old Tim Parry, as well as wounding dozens more. This tragedy inspired Irish rock band The Cranberries to write the song “Zombie.” In this song, The Cranberries express the people of Ireland and England’s exasperation over the perpetual terror caused by the issue of Northern Ireland.

Warrington bomb victims IRA

Lead singer Dolores O’Riordan sings: “Another head hangs lowly/ Child is slowly taken/ And the violence caused such silence/Who are we mistaken?” In the second verse she repeats the idea of violence causing silence. Through these lyrics, The Cranberries express how the repeated terror and aggression does not spark change or even discussion, like it should. Violence is such a common part of their lives that people hardly stir over it anymore. O’Riordan also sings: “It’s the same old theme since nineteen-sixteen/ In your head, in your head, they’re still fighting.” 1916 is the year of the IRA’s Easter Revolt. Fighting has been constant since then. The phrase “in your head” is repeated many times throughout “Zombie.” I think that this is a commentary on how the issue is born of people’s opposing ideas, but it is also a way for the band to ask what is wrong with these militant groups. The lyrics “What’s in your head? In your head?/ Zombie, Zombie, Zombie/ In your head” implies that the conflict people are still fighting over is an internal monster. They continue to lash out over an idea that should have been dead a long time ago.


Paradigm Shift Ideas

On Angel, a paradigm shift is defined as “a change from one way of thinking to another.” It is a cultural change- whether an invention, trend, or movement- that ignites a transformation in society. It is easy to think of paradigm shifts historically because we have witnessed its implications years later with clear hindsight. For example, the article mentioned how the printing press and vernacular language directly affected the Scientific Revolution. We can see now that printed books expedited the spread of thoughts which helped inventors and scientists of the time communicate, thus creating an explosion of scientific ideas. For our paradigm shift paper, though, we have to focus on something more current. We have to look at the world today, discern a distinct cultural shift, and trace it to its origin.

When I thought about modern cultural changes, two ideas came to mind: the explosion of gay pride and the popularization of hipster culture. Gay pride would be a fairly straightforward topic on which to find research. There are specific events and legislations I could look into to see if they contributed to the paradigm shift. Hipsters would be more challenging in that regard. They were not a popular social group when I was a child, but sometime around middle and high school, they became mainstream (:P). I think it might be challenging to find any research that hits on the social implications of hipster culture.

That being said, I think a paradigm shift paper and TED Talk on hipsters would be easier to find visuals for and it would be a lighter, more fun topic. I definitely am interested in writing about gay pride as well, but this is a more controversial topic and I do not want to offend anyone.

These are only two possible ideas for my paradigm shift paper; I might decide to go with something entirely different. But I think either one of these options would lead me to interesting places.

Départ: Rimbaud

“Départ” is one of the poems in the collection Illuminations, composed by Arthur Rimbaud and published in 1886. Rimbaud started writing poetry in his early teenage years. People did not take notice of his work, so upon a recommendation, Rimbaud sent his poetry to another French poet named Paul Verlaine. Verlaine enjoyed Rimbaud’s prose poetry and invited him to come to Paris and live with him, his wife, and infant son. Less than a year later, Verlaine left his wife and child to pursue an affair with Rimbaud. The two were 10 years apart– Rimbaud was only 17 years old at this time (see his picture below; Rimbaud and Verlaine traveled around Europe drinking absinthe and smoking hashish. They temporarily settled in a rather poor section of London, called Bloomsbury. It was during this time that Rimbaud wrote Départ.



Assez vu. La vision s’est rencontrée à tous les airs.

Assez eu. Rumeurs des villes, le soir, et au soleil, et toujours.

Assez connu. Les arrêts de la vie. – O Rumeurs et Visions !

Départ dans l’affection et le bruit neufs !

(Source: Arthur Rimbaud, Illuminations)



Enough seen. The vision has been encountered in all skies.

Enough had. Sounds of cities, in the evening, and in sunlight, and always.

Enough known. The stations of life. — O Sounds and Visions!

Departure amid new noise and affection!

(Source: John Ashbery, Illuminations)

I think “Départ” expresses Rimbaud’s apathy towards living in London. He feels he has experienced all that the city has to offer: he has heard the sounds, seen the sights, and learned all there is to know. The title embodies his desire to venture away from monotonous city life. One thing I read while I was researching Rimbaud is that he loved to travel. Rimbaud actually deserted poetry by the time he turned twenty. Instead he traveled around Europe, mostly on foot, and worked odd jobs. Later, he enlisted as a soldier in the Dutch Colonial Army only to jump ship in the Dutch East Indes. From there, he traveled to many other developing countries.

With this in mind, it makes sense why Rimbaud’s year-long stay in London would have made him anxious to move on. The repetition of “Assez…” and then a past participle establishes a frustrated rhythm to “Départ.” “Assez vu…Assez eu…Assez connu..” emphasizes Rimbaud’s impatience with the lack of variety in London while reflecting the monotonous rhythm of the city itself. The last line differs from the first three because it does not begin with “Assez…” I believe Rimbaud did this to express how refreshing it would be to depart from the city “amid new noise and affection!”



Rhetorical Analysis Reflection

So far, I think I am enjoying the rhetorical analysis unit a little too much. Call me a nerd, but I actually enjoy dissecting a piece of literature and analyzing how the author employs specific strategies to convince his or her audience of something. I decided to go with a piece of literature rather than a speech. In literature, the persuasiveness is more subdued. One has to read carefully and consider hidden meanings behind the text to discover the deeper implications of the story. In a speech, everything is more explicit. This is more tangible, but not as exciting in my opinion. I wrote several rhetorical analysis papers junior year, but none in my senior year (I took a film class). So it has been a while since I dove into a text so deeply.

I chose George Orwell’s essay “Shooting an Elephant” for my paper. The piece recounts an experience Orwell had in the British-controlled territory of Burma while he worked for the Indian Imperial Police from 1922-1927. Orwell was the sub-divisional police officer for the town of Moulmein when a tame elephant suddenly went wild and trampled people’s homes, possessions, and one unlucky man. The sub-inspector at the police station told Orwell to take care of it. For the rest of the essay, Orwell describes the build-up to shooting the elephant, his hesitation to do so, and the painfully slow process of killing the elephant. Orwell states that “it was a tiny incident in itself, but it gave me a better glimpse than I had had before of the real nature of imperialism– the real motives for which despotic governments act” (Orwell, 1).

Orwell wrote “Shooting an Elephant” in 1936, while Britain still controlled Burma. He had quit the Indian Imperial Police in 1927 out of disgust for imperialism and Britain’s disrespect of the natives. Orwell’s purpose in “Shooting an Elephant” is to convince people of the perverting and oppressive nature of imperialism. His audience is the people of Britain.

In my essay, I plan to write about several different strategies with which Orwell achieves his purpose. He employs animal diction, symbolism, imagery, and passive syntax throughout the essay in an attempt to portray imperialism as corrupt machinery which twists the nature of the oppressed and the oppressors alike.