Category Archives: OPINIONS

“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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The U.S. Supreme Court is jammed with villains

By Ken Johnson

The Supreme Court is supposed to be the Super Friends: wise, fair, and moral.

That’s the impression my American Government class left with me.

The executive branch might be brutal. The legislative branch might be corrupt. But not the judicial branch, not the Supreme Court, they weather the storm and remain unbiased.

That’s not the reality. In the United States, it never is.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court has thrown their charade into focus.

The problem with the discussion about Kavanaugh is that he is being treated as an anomaly — a product of the Trumpian hellscape, but that’s not the case. He isn’t even the only sitting justice to be accused of sexual assault by a college professor.

There is a pattern of unethical behavior on the Supreme Court. Americans are disillusioned. Some Americans, minorities, people in the lower classes, have seen the Supreme Court as a sham, a show trial, since it was established.

The Supreme Court is not the Super Friends, and, while they do work in the Hall of Justice, they are more like the Legion of Doom.

The question that some Americans are asking themselves is whether the Supreme Court can be trusted. The issue comes down to whether Kavanaugh and Justice Clarence Thomas are glitches in the process or products of a flawed system.

That question is too big for this column. Instead, we can investigate the makeup of the Supreme Court. By examining who these people are, and what paths their lives fall into, we can get a sense of the group of people that have so much power in our country.

According to the Supreme Court’s website, every single justice that is currently sitting on the Supreme Court has been to either Harvard or Yale. That’s strange. Some people might take it for granted that everybody on the Supreme Court has been to one of two elite, Ivy League schools, but they shouldn’t.

There are no requirements for serving on the Supreme Court. None. You don’t have to be a natural born American. You don’t even have to have an education.

Anyone can be on the Supreme Court, which is a good thing. There should not be any obstacles, such as where you were born or what kind of school you attended, to serve in our government. It’s supposed to be a government of the people. That idea is one positive thing about America.

For some reason, even though there are no prerequisites for serving, our Supreme Court ended up with all Ivy League lawyers.

American power finds the wealthy like a heat-seeking missile.

The explanation, at least one explanation, for this problem is that Supreme Court justices are nominated by the president, and the president is usually a powerful person with powerful friends, who, unsurprisingly, end up on the Supreme Court.

The wealthy favor the wealthy. And it helps to be a rich politician because campaigns are expensive.

Take the Citizens United ruling, where corporations were given superhuman political power. A Supreme Court made up of reasonable citizens would never have ruled that corporations are people. Only elites, with political ties as deep as oil wells, would have done that.

The Supreme Court rules on class issues, financial issues, such as minimum wage or worker’s rights. They cannot be impartial when ruling on class issues because they are all from the upper-middle and upper classes.


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Libraries: hallmarks of freedom, democracy

Guest column by Trish Navarre

In March when I headed to Beijing for another teaching stint on behalf of Whatcom Community College, my wallet held an international VISA card from WECU, a recent “upgrade” from my conventional card.  Little did I realize that this card would prove almost useless, while my sweet little WCLS library card became priceless- my real international passport.  With my library card I explored Alaska, the Middle East, London and New York.

Unlike in America, Chinese people typically do not simply strike up conversations on the bus or subway. Because Beijing is a vast city, travel time can be extremely long and tiring.  Visiting friends in another part of the city sometimes required two and a half to three hours each way on public transportation! What might seem an interminable ride in silence became an adventure while listening to an audiobook.  While most of my fellow passengers were glued to their phones, I was free to look around, observe my surroundings, smile, notice landmarks and generally still be connected to my environment. I was in heaven!

At the school where I taught, a small cadre of four foreign teachers (two Russian, one Armenian, one American) shared space with four Chinese, all tucked amicably in a large open space with very little privacy. Therefore, we often could hear conversations in many languages, and for several weeks people shouted out results from World Cup games.

However, a surprising amount of intrigue surrounded my enthusiasm and dedication to listening to audiobooks, which I could download onto my phone (assuming it was one of those rare moments of internet connectivity). Several teachers asked if they could also listen to the stories and books I had downloaded from my library.  A few of my closer friends even begged to borrow my library card to get books or information for themselves.  Sadly, this was impossible, and, once again, I regretfully explained that my library card is uniquely my own and not transferable.

Increasing use of facial recognition technology, surveillance cameras, and government control over the lives of 1.5 billion citizens is a reality in China. Asking questions and challenging authority is not a norm for anyone and students are not encouraged to speak their minds. Those “nails who stand higher than the others” are hammered down.

Much has been made of the “Great Firewall of China,” which stops and also controls what information people can access through the Internet. Admittedly, much of what flies around in cyberspace is trashy or maybe downright dangerous. That is why, during Banned Book Week (the week of September 24), we take time to examine who or what makes something objectionable to the point that it is forbidden.  And why, after so many centuries of trying to control what people do or think, have we not learned that it is “the forbidden fruit” that attracts the most attention? Would it not be better to help teach the art of discernment, of critical thinking and independent searches for truth?

Thank you, libraries and librarians and citizens who have fought to ensure that public access and privacy to ideas and information have been preserved for each generation.  Let us not take this hard won freedom for granted.  I, for one, most certainly do not

Trish Navarre, M.Ed., is an instructor of the ESLA Program at Whatcom Community College and a board member of the Whatcom County Library Foundation.           


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Bellingham gets an arcade upgrade

By Ken Johnson

Over the past year, three gaming lounges have sprung up around downtown Bellingham, which is a little weird, because “gaming lounges” didn’t seem to exist five years ago.

College towns are magnets for odd business ideas. Some of these ideas, like Hops N Headz, a taproom with a family-fun vibe, are nice, but others, like Gather Bellingham, a new student-apartment complex, are built to suck money from your fanny pack.

So, are these gaming lounges fun activities? Or another scheme to take your money?

Rook and Rogue:

With all of the drunken Dungeons and Dragons players, the Rook and Rogue would be the most entertaining place to see a barroom brawl.

The Rook and Rogue is a board-game pub, and it lives up to the name: shelves of board games dominate the middle of the room. Most games are free to play, but if you want access to the role-playing games, you have to pay a premium price.

The service is a roller coaster ride. It might be 30 minutes until someone takes your order, but, once they do, they’re really sorry you had to wait so long.

A board-game pub seems like a fun idea, and the Rook and Rogue executes it well. It is all ages, which gives the place a comfortable atmosphere.

The aesthetic was mismatched. The vibe is a mix between Hogwarts and an old west saloon, with its impressive line of whiskey bottles.

It could be a good hangout spot for college students, except for the cost. A burger is around $11 and a drink is about $9.

Pro tip: If you’re going there to play board games, just order appetizers.

rooknrogue

  • 206 W Magnolia St, Bellingham, WA
  • 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., most nights.

Heady VR

If you have never used a virtual reality headset before, and you don’t know anyone who owns one, Heady VR might be a good option.

A virtual-reality headset creates a digital and immersive world- it feels like you’re really there.

The phrase “virtual reality arcade” conjures up images of marvelous machines, like if the International Space Station had video games.

That is not the case with Heady VR. The experience of going to Heady VR is kind of like if a couple of guys you know invited you over to try out their halfway-working VR headsets and charged you $20 for their trouble.

Also, you can’t wear glasses with their headsets.

That being said, it is a locally owned business and, potentially, an interesting idea, if they hone in their equipment.

heady

  • 215 W Holly St suite b-28, Bellingham, WA
  • 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., most days

Ruckus Room Arcade

Out of these three places, the Ruckus Room Arcade seems like the best option for college students. It’s lowkey and cheap.

The Ruckus Room is an arcade/bar, but it is more of an arcade than a bar. It is all ages and never open past midnight, which can be a downside for any night owls. The games are classic arcade games: Skee-Ball, pinball, and Mortal Kombat.

The alcohol is modest, think PBR, and all of the drinking is confined to a couple of tables in the middle of the room.

It may not be a great place to drink, but the Ruckus Room is entertaining and easy on the wallet. What more can you ask for?

  • 1423 Railroad Ave, Bellingham, WA
  • 2 p.m. to 12 p.m., most days.

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