Category Archives: OPINIONS

Unwrapping the gift of Christmas cinema

By Apple Parry

This holiday season is upon us, folks. So grab your cocoa, sit back, and get critical. I picked five different movies that don’t have anything in common except for the time of year they were set in, and I rated them.

‘Elf’

elf

Will Ferrell gave his most wholesome performance as Buddy the Elf in “Elf.” As far as Christmas movies go, this is the perfect balance between comedic and extravagant.

Without going totally over the top, this movie still hits all the marks of a feel-good show.

Early on, Buddy discovers he is adopted, and this is quite a shock to Buddy because he is delusional. So he heads out to find his dad.

While Buddy is navigating his way through New York, he gets hit by a car, demonstrates the proper way to go up an escalator, how to really make spaghetti, and teaches the youth how to win a snowball fight.

Rated G, this movie is perfect for watching with your entire family, especially if someone is adopted, and you need to find a way to tell them. — just send them to a worldwide crime hot-spot, alone, wearing an elf costume, and I think they’ll get the message.

I give this movie 10 out of 10 candy canes.

‘Love Actually’

love actually

If you haven’t seen “Love Actually,” you’ll be just fine.

With nine different story lines, this movie shows us how to actually love.

It stars Professor Snape, Nanny McPhee, the guy from “Taken,” and a bunch of other British people.

Take away a few scenes and the Christmas theme, and this movie could have been set at any time of the year.

Kirsten Parry, my mom, said, “The entire movie caters to the male ego” and “It’s annoying.” But if you like unnecessarily complicated and inappropriate movies, give this rom-com a watch.

I give this movie 9 out of 10 trash cans

‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’

grinch

The Christmas movie that basically raised me was Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

We all know the story of how a bitter, former Who tried to ruin Christmas for the hopeful town folk, and how in the end, his heart grew three sizes.

But with the help of relatable teens, a new side of the Grinch was uncovered. When the Grinch ate glass and struggled to find something to wear, we all felt that.

Jim Carrey made a hashtag-relatable character. The only bad thing about this movie is how creepy the makeup and hair make the actors look.

If you’ve ever wanted to be inside a snowflake for an hour and 50 minutes, just head on down to Whoville. But don’t stay too long, the whole town revolves around Christmas, and that’s why the Grinch left in the first place.

I give this movie 38 out of 37 Who puddings.

‘The Princess Switch’

princess switch

Netflix debuted their newest original this holiday season, “The Princess Switch,” and it is bad.

If you’ve ever wanted to see a Christmas version of “The Parent Trap,” just log onto Netflix and search this title.

Vanessa Hudgens, who plays both main roles, does not make a classy comeback.

Every plot point is overdone and, in 2018, is redundant. Hudgens’ British accent alone is reason enough to not watch this movie.

93 percent of Google users liked this movie, which means 93 percent of Google users are idiots.

There are reasons humans have the ability to imagine and create, and this isn’t one of them.

I give this movie a “multiply by zero” rating, because it will never be good.

 ‘Die Hard’

die hard poster

Bruce Willis stars as John McClane, “a hard man to kill,” in “Die Hard.”

When McClane flies to L.A. to visit family on Christmas Eve, everything goes terribly wrong. Alan Rickman, who plays the villain in this movie as well, takes McClane’s wife as a hostage.

McClane sneaks his way around the building unseen, like a badass, and breaks a lot of things. The film includes terrorists, elevator shafts, walkie talkies, and iconic one liners. There will always be controversy when it comes to whether this is a Christmas movie or not, but I think we can all agree It’s a nice break from literally any Hallmark movie.

I give this movie 1 out of 1 “yippee ki yays.”

Happy holidays to all, and to all a good quarter.


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Give me education or give me debt!

By Ken Johnson

Community college helps to bridge the chasm between the American dream and the American reality.

The United States, more than most other countries, prescribes a narrative over the lives of its citizens: grade school, university, career, retirement, and then an uncomfortable death at an unfamiliar hospital, doped up on morphine.

In most of the country, high-school graduates are expected to go to college, and about 70 percent of them do, according to Pew Research Center — that’s up 20 percent from 1970.

Many jobs that didn’t previously require a university degree, such as salesperson or pilot, now require some sort of degree. And that’s a little weird because a bachelor’s degree in history has nothing to do with flying a plane.

Even if someone manages to find a job that doesn’t require some sort of degree, people with degrees look down their noses at people without degrees, especially in cities like Bellingham.

A college degree might as well be the star on the belly of a sneetch.

So a university degree is a status symbol, as well as a prerequisite for landing a job. On the surface, that doesn’t seem like such a bad thing: a liberal arts education can provide context to an otherwise confusing life and help people become more informed citizens. It seems like that, if everyone was educated, there would be fewer problems in the world — fewer Donald Trumps.

Except that college is dangerously expensive.

In 2017, according to Pew Research Center, there was over $1.3 trillion in American student debt, and the average recipient of a bachelor’s degree was over $25,000 in collegiate debt. Roughly half of the people who have bachelor’s degrees do not think that the benefit of the degree outweighs the financial cost. That’s a 50 percent college-regret rate.

And some organizations, such the Huffington Post, have found a connection between student loans and suicide.

Is a liberal arts degree really worth all that?

No. It’s not.

Especially when the reason why anyone would get a liberal arts education is considered. I mean, think about the phrase “liberal arts.” In Latin “liberal” is generally synonymous with “freedom” or “the pursuit of a freeman” — think about the word “liberty.”

I’m not a linguist, but the point I’m trying to make is that a liberal arts education is all about being free. It’s about being able to think for yourself and engage with the world on your own terms.

But there is absolutely nothing liberating about being crushed and churned around in a Sisyphean cycle of debt.

So on one hand, a liberal arts education is a nice thing to have, but on the other hand, getting one ruins lives.

That brings me to community college: the happy medium between an irreparable credit score and being able to name the impacts of climate change.

Community college has two main benefits: it’s cheaper, and everybody is accepted.

There is a special kind of dumb hypocrisy in wanting everyone to go to college, but then turning away a lot of potential students, because, however high an acceptance rate is, some people are still being denied.

Community college is pragmatic where most American universities are elitist. The realization that community colleges have made is that most Americans are not 18 years old and wealthy.

Some people need to work while they’re in school. Some people grow old, not Neil Patrick Harris, but some people.

Community college has flaws and in no way fixes everything. It’s kind of like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound… it helps, a little.

It keeps the good part of going to university — the education — and mitigates the bad parts — the debt and self-loathing.

Community college should expand, and it should become free.

I’m no financial analyst, but maybe we should spend money on educating people before we spend money on shiny Star Wars-style military jets.

Hell, with 1.3 trillion in debt, a crafty government could really get cracking on some state-sponsored terrorism. And if it’s lucky, even topple a democratically elected socialist.

Or educate its citizens.


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Mathew Whitaker: tall tales of toilets and time travel

By Ken Johnson

Matthew Whitaker is the acting U.S. attorney general. He is a criminal, equal parts boner-pill hawker and H. H. Holmes.

His antics are entertaining and stupid, but fundamentally Midwest horrible, like Chick-fil-A pumping legions of children to obesity.

He is the personification of the land of all-American shopping centers and lethargy that makes up the middle of this country, coalesced from the belly-fear of the corn fields teeming with lower-middle class debt…

Whitaker is the chief lawyer of the United States because the last one, Jeff Sessions, was fired by President Donald Trump following the midterm elections.

Trump firing someone isn’t surprising — his administration has a 58 percent turnover rate — but Trump is under investigation by the justice department, so firing the attorney general and replacing him with a steroid-soaked sock puppet is obstruction of justice. I’ll explain that later, but for now, just know that in future U.S. History III classes, this will be seen as one of Trump’s most notorious screw-ups.

Either that, or it will be know as the moment God Emperor Trump drained the swamp with quicklime.

Anyway, let’s look at Whitaker.

Whitaker’s past is drenched in fraud and idiocy, most of which surrounds one company: World Patent Marketing.

Theoretically, World Patent Marketing, like most patent companies, was supposed to help entrepreneurs by applying for patents and marketing their products.

That almost never happened. Instead, according to the Washington Post, their clients were encouraged to buy the complete market-and-patent package, and then World Patent Marketing would ghost their victims, keeping the money.

People were physically and legally threatened when they complained. Scott Cooper, the CEO, would threaten people with the martial art Krav Maga, which is probably the dorkiest way to try to intimidate someone.

“Many people ended up in debt or lost their life savings,” the Washington Post said in a recent article.

Now Whitaker is the attorney general, and the people he took advantage of have to live with that.

The Federal Trade Commission sued World Patent Marketing in 2017 for over $25 million and banned them from ever practicing in the industry again. Whitaker was on the board of World Patent Marketing and served as an adviser. He got involved in some extremely embarrassing projects before the company was shut down.

One project involved Bigfoot DNA, which they said could prove the existence of Bigfoot. Another involved a time-machine, which they said would be operational in about a decade.

The best one was a patent for an “extra-masculine” toilet for men with 12-inch penises.

Here is a small taste of that patent application:

“The average male genitalia is between 5 inches and 6 inches. However, this invention is designed for those of us who measure longer than that. I estimate that a 12-inch distance is adequate enough for most well-endowed men, though I would not be surprised if there are cases who need a greater distance.”

I hope the United States Patent and Trademark Office got the message — World Patent Marketing’s board is full of guys with massive shlongs.

In addition to the patent and marketing scam Whitaker ran, he was part of a laughably shady charity, ironically called the Foundation for Accountability and Civil Trust (FACT).

“FACT is a group of citizens who are committed to exposing unethical behavior, changing the culture of politics, and restoring faith in our public officials,” says FACT’s website.

FACT has launched high-profile lawsuits against prominent Democrats, including Hillary Clinton. Now it looks like FACT has violated its tax-exempt status, which matters even beyond the ever-expanding boundaries of Whitaker’s scandals because prominent Republicans, such as the Koch Brothers, have been donating, and possibly funneling money through, FACT.

The Washington Post reported that Whitaker received $252,000 as a salary for being the president of FACT in 2015, “more than half the charity’s receipts for that year.”

There is not nearly enough space in this column to go over all of Whitaker’s transgressions. There are a ridiculous amount. He has done and said plenty of other unethical things, but here’s the takeaway: He is mean and dumb and corrupt.

And now Whitaker is in charge of the Russia investigation.

The firing of Sessions matters because he recused himself from the Russia investigation, which was the right thing to do as he had a Kremlin-sized conflict of interest.

Trump was angry that Sessions recued himself — Trump was counting on Sessions to severely constrict the whole investigation, so Trump fired Sessions and replaced him with Whitaker.

That, by the way, might as well be the definition of obstruction of justice.

On top of all that, Whitaker’s appointment is probably illegal because the Senate hasn’t approved him, making everything he does voidable.

Trump passed over Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is the obvious and legal choice for attorney general, and skipped all the way down to the biggest critic of the Mueller investigation in the Justice Department: Whitaker.

So why Whitaker? Why appoint someone whose past is arguably dirtier than Trump’s and employ him in an overtly illegal way?

Whitaker has been arguing against the Russia investigation since its genesis. That’s why.

In an interview on CNN, which happened right after Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to investigate Trump’s blatant criminality, Whitaker gave a detailed explanation about how Trump could castrate the Russia investigation:

“I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced,” Whitaker said.  “And that attorney general doesn’t fire Bob Mueller but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigations grinds to almost a halt.”

That is, again, exactly what is happening, and Trump might get away with it because Whitaker’s obstruction will happen largely out of view.

Firing Sessions has the same effect as firing Mueller — it’s obstruction of justice, slightly veiled.

Whitaker is a new low-water mark in the American descent back to madness.


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“The Kissing Booth”: Creepy and condescending

By Apple Parry

“The Kissing Booth” is truly the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Without analyzing the entire script, the side plot inconsistencies, or the incredibly overdone romantic plot, let’s talk about how sexist the film is.

The opening scene shows Elle’s childhood and longtime friendship with Lee Flynn. It also shows that Elle has always had a crush on Lee’s off limits older brother, Noah.

Based on just that montage, it’s obvious this movie is going to focus on yet another forbidden, bad-boy teen romance— unfortunately, it’s so much worse than that.

The next scene starts with Elle’s only pair of school regulation pants ripping. So, what is a girl to do other than wear a “ninth-grade skirt on an eleventh-grade body”?

All the important or authoritative men in Elle’s life comment on her skirt, starting with her dad. But her dad’s concerns are genuine and caring. He offers to pick up her “back-ups” and bring them to her at school.

On the way to school, Lee sarcastically tells Elle that with that skirt on she is seen as a “distraction.” Even as a joke, these remarks are harmful to both women and men. It encourages the objectification of women in a lighthearted manner.

Lee also has a tendency throughout the movie to think that, just because he’s her best friend, he can control her, or, at least, whom she dates.

Once they arrive at school, a football player with a man bun decides to slap her ass, and the Flynn brothers step up to defend her. Noah, the knight in shining leather, comes to the rescue, and they all get called into the principal’s office.

While waiting to be called in to the principal’s office, Noah claims, “Wearing a skirt like that is asking for it.” When Elle gets defensive, he dismisses it by saying the feminist rant wasn’t worth it. Clearly, this movie could have used Elle’s rebuttal.

Once called into the principal’s office, Elle must explain to the fourth man in a matter of minutes why she is wearing this stupidly small skirt. This event was just an excuse to include sexist comments, actions, and consequences. When discussing what happened Elle says, “dude touched my lady bump” making her sexual assault into a joke.

After a very weird detention, Elle agrees to go on a date with good ol’ grab ass, but she gets ditched.

The football player later tells Elle, “no boobs are worth a broken nose.” It’s almost poetic really, but it also implies that he only wanted Elle for her looks and body, and that she’s not even worth it.

Somehow, Elle blindly stumbles into the boy’s locker room, covered in paint with her shirt off. Read that sentence again and guess how the director finessed that scene into the movie.

Instead of running out of there like a sane 16-year-old girl, she struts past about 40 guys, picks up her shirt and walks out. This would be an empowering move, if it wasn’t just to piss off a guy and remind everyone she grew boobs over the summer.

Since they live in California, I would expect nothing less than a beach party at some point in this movie. It delivered. At this party, some douche continuously tries to force Elle to go to a hot tub with him, obviously with only one purpose in mind. But Noah shows up to defend her- once again.

A major flaw is that the director never lets Elle handle things by herself, showing young girls they should have a “big, strong man” to defend them at all times, rather than showing how they could deal with it alone, which is what happens much more often in the real world.

After Noah punches the guy, he yells at Elle to get in the car multiple times and hits the car. Life tip: if someone with a violent past starts yelling at you and hitting things, don’t get in his car!

Maybe it was for comedic purposes, but Elle has to jump on a trampoline, while in a skirt, exposing her underwear multiple times. I know this is small
— but that’s exactly the point. Seeing small things like this makes it seem okay because it was only for a short amount of time.

When Lee finds out that Noah and Elle are together, he tells Elle, “The only thing I had that he didn’t was you… and now he has that too.” That was Elle’s best friend not only calling her a “thing,” but saying she was Noah’s “thing”.

Speaking of Noah, the typecast bad boy is starting to get super old. Casting the same type of rebel, is extremely cliché. It encourages the ‘I can fix him’ phenomenon, where girls take a typically bad boy and try to change him for the better, which usually doesn’t work.

While concluding the movie, Elle claims that “there was a part of [her] that was always going to belong to Noah Flynn.”

I’ve heard this saying multiple times, and realized I’ve only ever heard it from women.

This kind of sexist content is obliterating all the progress we’ve made. It ignores what’s wrong or right and just focuses on what will get the movie the most exposure. Every male in Elle’s life has either been demeaning or subtly sexist, and that can only result in a damaged person, especially because when it really counts, Elle doesn’t stand up for herself.

Even for a movie based on an amateur young adult novel, this was astonishingly horrible. If you watched The Kissing Booth, congratulations! You and I both wasted an hour and forty-five minutes of our lives, that we can never, ever get back.

 


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Climate Change: Endgame

By Ken Johnson

I want to point out something that might not be obvious: Climate change is going to screw up the world — irreparably.

There are three, not four, horsemen of the apocalypse: climate change, immigration, and nationalism.

These harbingers of the end times are compounding each other, building off each other, and creating a positive-feedback loop.

The loop is simple: climate change causes immigration, immigration causes nationalist politicians, and nationalist politicians cause climate change.

Let’s break it down:

Climate change causes immigration

The Guardian newspaper predicts that by 2100, one million immigrants could be entering the European Union every year as a result of climate change.

About 40 percent of people live near the coast. They will be forced out of their homes as sea levels rise. In some cases, this will cause migration within a nation, but in other cases, it will cause people to move between nations.

That’s only part of the equation. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, are becoming more severe. Hurricanes destroy entire cities and entire systems of infrastructure, making large coastal areas uninhabitable. Think about Puerto Rico.

The problem isn’t hurricanes; it’s that many governments are unequipped to deal with hurricanes.

Again, think about the federal government’s incompetent response to Hurricane Maria.

Immigration causes nationalist politicians

I want to make something clear: immigrants do not cause nationalism— the fear of immigrants causes nationalism. The immigrants are doing nothing wrong.

Italy is a good example. With its heel stuck out in the Mediterranean Sea, Italy is the landing place for many immigrants from northern Africa.

Matteo Salvini, the Italian interior minister, is considered to be the most important politician in Italy. He rose to power on the back of popular anti-immigrant sentiment.

“Ahead of the March election,” Time magazine reports, “Salvini put [immigration] at the center of his campaign. He made the wildly impracticable promise to deport 500,000 undocumented immigrants from Italy.”

The issue is that— whether it’s Salvini or Andrew Jackson— nationalist leaders use immigration as a scare tactic to get elected.

So as immigration starts to climb, nationalists will gobble up more and more power.

I also want to point out that nationalist politicians, just by being awful, cause immigration on their own.

Our planet is tilting sharply to the right.

Nationalist politicians cause global warming

At this point, it makes sense to use the United States as an example. President Donald Trump is a famous climate change denier. He called climate change a “Chinese hoax” and took the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.

According to a recent Washington Post article, Trump’s main argument against climate change regulation is that regulation hurts the economy, so it doesn’t make sense while the “science on climate change is unsettled.”

The science is settled and corroborated by a recent EPA report, which Trump seems to be ignoring.

“A recent U.S. government report,” according to Forbes. “Suggests that global temperatures will rise by 4 degrees Celsius [by 2100]. … such large temperature rises would cause extreme heat waves, more floods and droughts … and leave many cities around the world underwater thanks to rising sea levels.”

When nationalist leaders say that climate change regulation will hurt the economy, they mean climate change regulation will hurt the short-term, economic interests of the ruling class.

Most of the time, doomsday columns like this end with a “call to action.” In the community college newspaper business, a call to action is a hopeful message that lets the readers know how they can help.

I’m not going to do that.

And, without sounding melodramatic, I want to say that you can’t help. These problems are too entrenched in our global politics to change before it’s too late.

It is possible to reverse climate change. Reliance on nuclear energy, reforestation, a primarily vegetarian diet, and clean manufacturing might help. Action would have to be immediate and global.

The ruling class, our politicians, executive boards, and CEOs, are not incentivized to help, so they won’t— like always.

The die has been cast.


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