Get Out.

Despite being an avid lover of ghost stories and haunted houses, I’m not much of a horror movie fan. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to this film genre – I saw the film Quarantine and barely slept for a few days and there were some episodes of the show Supernatural that freaked me out if I watched them too late at night. But when the film Get Out came out with wild praises, I was intrigued by and ultimately loved the film.

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S-Town and Missing Richard Simmons

Recently, I listened up the popular podcast S-Town and ended up listening to all seven episodes in about 24 hours. This podcast is wonderfully produced and one of the latest projects from the teams behind This American Life and Serial. I was initially hesitant to listen to this show because I wasn’t sure how the show would go. It has been lauded as a true crime podcast and the description of it alludes to it being similar in nature to other popular podcasts like Serial and Missing Richard Simmons. And while the description doesn’t adequately describe the final product of the show, it was an interesting (and sometimes rough) listen.

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The Freedom To Marry Documentary

Recently, I saw the documentary Freedom to Marry and was thoroughly underwhelmed. A part comes from my own doubts around the now finished fight for marriage equality but another part comes from just how predictable the documentary was. Jay Weissberg reviewed the film for Variety and wrote that:

Despite a small theatrical run, “The Freedom to Marry” feels designed for TV in every way: It does its job more or less efficiently (we could do without Wolfson’s parents’ friends talking about what a bright boy he was) in cookie-cutter documentary fashion. Rosenstein, a childhood acquaintance of Wolfson’s, is unable to disguise the artificiality of certain “spontaneous” conversations before the cameras.

And that’s exactly what it felt like. The message and theme of the documentary oversaturated the film in a way that felt like you were being hit over the head with what the filmmakers wanted you to take away from it. That doesn’t mean it was completely terrible or anything – there were some great moments and the film does hark back to how gay people have been treated in the United States. But I ultimately left the theater feeling underwhelmed by the production and forgotten by the larger LGBTQ+ community. (That last part isn’t necessarily tied to the documentary and is a larger trend that I’ve personally felt in the past few months.)

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True Crime and Tragedy as Entertainment

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about using real life pain, tragedy, and abuse as entertainment. A part of this comes from listening to the podcast Missing Richard Simmons, in which one journalist looks into the enthusiastic fitness instructor’s rather sudden retreat from public life a few years ago and the turmoil that the show caused. Listening to that show felt weird at so many moments and Amanda Hess over at the New York Times nailed exactly why it felt so invasive.

There are so many other examples similar to Missing Richard Simmons that are based on that same sort of premise: using and telling someone else’s story in a very public way. Many (but not all) of these productions are about events that are traumatic and violent, making them moments that I’m sure not many would want to constantly relive on a public stage.

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Beauty and the Beast

Honestly, I was kind of excited to see the new live action Beauty and the Beast. Like some people my age, I grew up on Disney and Dreamworks films. I knew many of the popular songs by heart and The Lion King was one of the first movies I remember watching. I would daydream of going to Disneyland or Disneyworld and while I don’t think she’s perfect, I love the idea of Emma Watson as Belle.

But there’s a part of the movie that I feel conflicted about: LeFou being gay. Because of this tiny subplot, there’s an Alabama theater not showing the film, Russia has banned those under 16 from seeing it, and Malaysian censors requesting that the tiny scene showing him dancing with another man, all of which makes me want to see it just to spite them. And from what I hear, this subplot is one of the tiniest points in the entire film.

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Actions.

There is so much going on in the world today, especially with all that the current administration and Congress is pushing through. In the midst of all this chaos, it can be easily to get overwhelmed  – I know I have been. But it’s important to keep fighting, to keep resisting, and to take care of yourself. Self-care and taking a deep breath is just as important as being on the streets and making calls.

With all the issues going on, there are plenty of ways to resist and not everyone’s activism is going to look the same. People have different abilities, resources, and schedules, which means that not everyone can march in protests but there are so many things that need to happen. With this, I thought I’d find some great and different ways to join the fight.

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Podcasts.

I’ve written about a few of my favorites before so it’s no secret that I love podcasts. My day job allows for a lot of listening time so I tend to go through a lot of episodes each week. And while I have reviewed plenty in the past, I thought I’d compile some of my favorites all together! I’ve grouped the list by category/related content so if you see one you like and are looking for more, check out the ones in the same group. This list is in no way a true reflection of all the amazing audio content that exist nowadays but just some of my favorites. Some will have easily accessible transcripts, others will also have Patreons and ways to support their work. All that information, if it’s applicable to a show, will be right below each show description.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Despite being a massive Harry Potter fan, I was late to the game watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. But I finally saw it a few weeks ago and loved it, in large part because of all the new things the film brings to that universe. From history to character insight to a new wizarding world, there was just so much more to this film than I really anticipated.

The actual production and acting in this film were amazing – Eddie Redmayne was great as Newt and I surprisingly loved Colin Firth as Graves, although I could have done without the creepy relationship between Graves and Credence. The costumes were so amazing and I would love to have Newt’s blue coat. And the special effects that created the beasts were so incredible. It was so much fun to meet all the creatures because other than a select few in the Harry Potter books and films, we don’t really meet that many magical creatures.

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