Top 11 Nostalgia Critic Editorials

When you think of online personalities, who comes to mind? For me, it’s the Nostalgia Critic. Since 2008, he’s posted reviews of movies from the past. When he’s not losing his mind over bad screenplays, he’s losing his mind over bad comedy. If he isn’t going crazy about strange CGI or poor decision making, he’s going crazy about bat credit cards. It’s almost impossible to imagine the Nostalgia Critic without a freak out coming to mind.

But that’s not what this post is about. This post discusses the times where his serious side comes out to discuss topics in film-making or dissect what worked or didn’t work in certain movies. To put it simply, this is about his editorials.

Since I’m sharing video links, I’ll only talk about it when I want to say something he hasn’t already touched on. But for the most part, I’ll just let his editorials speak for themselves. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top 11 Nostalgia Critic Editorials.

#11: Where’s the Fair Use?

Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of controversy going on with YouTube channels getting copyright strikes. Sometimes it’s just for posting movies without Hollywood’s permission, but other times channels got hit just for talking about these movies. Here, the Critic explains what the law says, how it’s being exploited, how YouTube is handling it, and the Critic’s own experiences with battling claims and strikes. While he’s had some of those resolved and he’s managed to put reviews back up, this is still an ongoing issue for many YouTube users.

#10: Why Do We Holiday Too Early?

#9: Top 11 Strangest Yet Best Couples

#8: Can Hype Kill a Good Film?

#7: Is White Washing Really Still a Thing?

#6: Should We Scare Our Kids?

#5: When Is Something So Bad It’s Good?/Can a Film be so Good, it’s Bad?

Since they’re somewhat tied together, it only made sense to have them share a spot.

#4: Top 11 Good Things from the Star Wars Prequels

#3: When Does a Joke Go Too Far?

#2: WTF is with the ending of The Graduate?/Does Romeo and Juliet Suck?

Again, they’re pretty similar, so they share a spot.

#1: A Farewell to Roger Ebert

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Did Shadowland Have a Secret Meaning?

If you’ve seen Broadway’s take on The Lion King (or you clicked on the video above), you might be familiar with a song called “Shadowland.” It appears in the second act, when the Pride Lands have turned into a desolate wasteland and Nala leaves home to look for anything that can help her pride survive.

But while this moment doesn’t appear in the animated movie, have you ever noticed that it’s played in the background? Like, almost a dozen times? I’ve heard the chorus line played a few times before, but it wasn’t until I bought the full movie soundtrack that I noticed just how often we hear the verse and chorus lines laced into the background music.

Granted, this isn’t the first time Disney has done this in their movies. You’ll hear the title song played off and on in Beauty and the Beast, moments of “A Whole New World” played throughout the third act in Aladdin, and the “Hellfire” theme played over and over in Hunchback of Notre Dame. But no one ever sings “Shadowland” in The Lion King. So why include it in the background music at all?

Well, to answer this question, let’s look at the moments where we hear it. It first comes up when Mufasa is showing Simba the Pride Lands. For three seconds, we hear part of the verse when Mufasa runs into the elephant graveyard to defend Simba and Nala. Then the verse and chorus are played twice afterwards, once when Mufasa scolds Simba for his carelessness and again when they’re stargazing. Then we hear the chorus line after the stampede, when Simba realizes that his father didn’t survive the ordeal. Then we hear it when Timon, Pumbaa, and an adult Simba talk about what stars are. We get another glimpse or two when Simba and Nala reunite after years of her thinking she was dead. You hear it again when Mufasa’s ghost appears and says “Remember who you are.” And we hear it again as Simba and his three friends stand on a cliff, preparing to take on Scar. It’s played off and on during the confrontation. And then we hear it one last time after Scar dies, right before Simba takes his place as king of the Pride Lands.

What do all these moments have in common? They all deal with the weight of leadership.

Think about it. We hear it when Mufasa is teaching Simba the responsibilities of being king. We hear it again when the hyenas are cornered, and they realize Mufasa can tear them limb from limb. We hear it again when Mufasa scolds Simba. We hear it again right afterwards, when we get a hint that the king might not live to see the happily ever after. We hear it again when the king is dead. We hear it again, years later, when Simba is briefly confronted with the memory of his father’s death. We hear it again when Nala realizes that Simba could take on Scar and become king. We hear it again when Mufasa tells Simba that it’s time for him to accept the role he was born to play in the circle of life. We hear it again as Simba steels himself for the upcoming battle. We hear it off and on during the confrontation between hero and villain. And we hear it one last time before Simba is named king.

This seems a little odd—especially considering the lyrics of the song. The song by itself has less to do with leadership and more to do with saying farewell. Then again, Nala is the one who sings it, and in both version of the story she becomes queen. And what is a queen except the female equivalent of a king? Maybe the writers intended to expand her story to show how she took up the mantle of leadership when Scar turned everything upside down. Or maybe the composer had some other intent altogether.

Admittedly, this theory still has a few holes in it that are worth debating. And the people at Disney might’ve had completely different reasons for including the melody as a background tune, but not as a musical number. But this is what Disney is best known for—little Easter eggs and conspiracy theories that add importance to the story. Would we enjoy Lilo and Stitch as much if they explained outright that the title meant “lost and pulled together”? Would we love Beauty and the Beast as much if the characters pointed out the significance of Belle wearing blue? So as far as the song “Shadowland” is concerned, what do you think?

12 Underrated Fictional Fathers

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Last time, we observed Mother’s Day by taking a gander at 12 underrated fictional mothers. And since this is the month of Father’s Day, it only seems fair that we give 12 underrated fictional fathers the same treatment. Let’s not waste any time and dive right in.

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#12: Grandpa Joe from Willy Wonka

This guy has gotten a lot of hate over the years. And to be fair, it’s not altogether unwarranted. He spends twenty years in bed until his grandson finds a golden ticket, throws childlike insults around about the other kids, encourages Charlie to steal, and has his own outburst after Wonka has a vocal seizure. But he’s still earned a spot on this list, and here’s why:

  1. Charlie’s father is dead in the 1971 movie, which means Grandpa Joe has stepped in to be Charlie’s father figure
  2. He resolves to stop using tobacco once he sees that a loaf of bread is the equivalent of a banquet for the family
  3. He believes in Charlie throughout the contest despite the impossible odds, tries constantly to keep Charlie’s hopes for a better future alive. “Kid’s gotta have something to hope for” is his excuse.
  4. He recognizes that the way the other parents raised their kids wasn’t right
  5. He’s the one who warned Charlie about Slugworth, which ultimately led to Charlie passing the test in the end

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#11: Cameron and Mitchell from Modern Family

…honestly, these guys are here mainly because they’re so entertaining. Not only do they navigate life’s ups and downs as a gay couple raising a Vietnamese girl, but it’s also fun watching them do it.

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#10: Richard Castle from Castle

Castle has the maturity level of a child. He touches everything in sight, he makes faces at a school kid who gives him hell, and he compares his first ex-wife to a deep-fried Twinkie. But when he sees a child in jeopardy, there’s nothing joking or playful about his demeanor. When his daughter is abducted, he literally flies to France to find her and bring her home. When a nine-year-old is held hostage, he negotiates for the release of her and her mother before anyone else. When it’s revealed that a child might’ve witnessed a murder, he interacts with the kids to find the possible witness, and along the way helps them open up about their fears and insecurities.

Image result for fa zhou mulan                                                  Image result for tiana's dad princess and the frog

#9: Fa Zhou from Mulan/James from Princess and the Frog

Two fascinating father figures in Disney are Fa Zhou and James. They were both teacher figures who believe in their daughters, but not to the point where they coddled them. They were both tired to the bone sometimes, but they still summoned enough energy to provide for the girls. And for much of their respective movies, Mulan’s and Tiana’s motivations revolved around their fathers. Much like Kala and Jumbo, the two fathers’ differences are fun to compare too. Fa Zhou was more stern and stone-faced, while James radiated warmth and passion. Mulan was concerned about keeping her father alive, while Tiana’s goal was living the dream her father never made a reality.

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#8: Stoick the Vast from How to Train Your Dragon

The relationship between Hiccup and Stoick isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. They have different opinions on how to solve an issue, Hiccup wants Stoick’s approval, Stoick wants Hiccup to be different, you know it and so do I. Two interesting factors help this relationship stand out. One, the writers and animators for the movie know how to bring this relationship to life. From the expressions to the conversations to the actions, everything feels genuine. You know how much Stoick gets annoyed with Hiccup, but you also know how much he cares about his son. You see how much Hiccup looks up to Stoick, but you also see him trying to do what’s right for the dragons. The second factor is how the relationship develops in the TV series and the sequel. It’s awkward at first, but both parties are making the effort to communicate and compromise with each other. And by the time we get to the sequel, we get a glimpse of a healed relationship.

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#7: Hector from The Vile Village

From a cowardly grammar fanatic to a Trump-esque vice principal to a financial advisor with the humility of a peacock, Lemony Snicket seems determined to make the Baudelaires as miserable as humanly possible. The Baudelaires’ best legal guardians is an eccentric herpetologist, and he dies. But Hector is second best for a few reasons:

  1. Though timid, he doesn’t try to bribe his way out of trouble by handing the Baudelaires over to Olaf
  2. Even though it’s breaking the village rules, he provides ways that the Baudelaires can scratch their reading, inventing, and biting itches
  3. He visits the Baudelaires in jail and gives them the final clue they need to find their friends
  4. He builds an air mobile that gets the Quagmires out of Olaf’s reach
  5. He looks an entire village straight in the face and pretty much says “F*ck your rules, I’m done with this shit.”

#6: Long John Silver from Treasure Planet

In the original book as well as nearly every adaptation, Silver takes on the role of mentor and father for Jim Hawkins. Even Tim Curry understood this while scaring little girls in Muppet Treasure Island. So what makes this animated Long John Silver stand out above the rest? To put it simply: the attached clip from the movie.

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#5: Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice

Honestly, the only thing that makes this guy worth mentioning is that he’d fit right in with a modern-day stand-up comedian. In a weird family where each character has her own illogical form of logic, Mr. Bennet is one of the few voices of reason. That and his witty comebacks are a riot.

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#4: Ross Geller from Friends

He may be phenomenally stupid, but give him credit for wanting to be there when two of his ex-wives bear his offspring. And he also wanted to send his daughter to a science camp, so that’s a bonus.

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#3: Burt Hummel from Glee

Up until around the time Glee started airing, men and women had their own set of expectations to fulfill. Because of this, Burt admits that he doesn’t know how to be a father to a gay son. While he accepts Kurt for who he is, the two don’t have a lot of common ground to build a connection on. One likes fishing and sports, the other likes Broadway and clothes. This becomes especially problematic when Burt starts bonding with his new girlfriend’s son Finn, and Kurt becomes jealous. Thus, Kurt tries to act like the stereotypical man to gain his father’s approval. This relationship has all the traits of the relationship between Hiccup and Stoick, except Kurt always had Burt’s approval.

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#2: Bert from Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins and Bert have always offered a different view of parenthood that we don’t always talk about. She’s the strict and stern guardian, he’s the one having a blast. She’s the one with insane self-control, he’s the first one to join Uncle Albert on the ceiling. But even when you don’t have Mary Poppins there, Bert has fulfilled fatherly duties in ways that Mr. Banks never did. When the kids run away from the bank scared out of their minds, he’s the one who comforts them, teaches them empathy, and brings them home safely. When the kids don’t have a babysitter, he keeps them company. And when Mr. Banks wants to blame Mary Poppins for his problems, Bert gently offers him a different viewpoint. “Get to know your kids now; there might not be another time.”

#1: Iroh from Avatar

It’s hard to tell the story of Iroh and Zuko without giving anything away. So I’ll let the YouTube clip do the talking.

Photo sources:

https://www.bookish.com/articles/father-knows-best-know-it-all-dads-in-fiction/

http://www.ric.edu/sherlockcenter/dsi/chocofactory.pdf

http://tvfilmnews.com/modern-family-season-4-cameron-and-mitchell-scoop/

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/richard-castle/images/30000275/title/rick-alexis-photo

https://giphy.com/search/fa-zhou

https://www.animationsource.org/princess_frog/en/chars/James/9553.html

https://dejareviewer.com/2011/09/13/battle-of-the-message-movies-how-to-train-your-dragon-vs-avatar/

http://www.nocturnalsoldier.org/Tealin/xhp/vfd/

http://www.playbuzz.com/limwen10/how-well-do-you-know-elizabeth-bennet

https://www.bustle.com/articles/60889-7-times-friends-ross-monica-proved-they-were-the-worst-siblings-ever

http://theartofilm.blogspot.com/2013/10/berts-chalk-drawings-in-mary-poppins.html

12 Underrated Fictional Mothers

When you think of great fictional mothers, who comes to mind? Marge Simpson from The Simpsons? Mrs. Weasley from Harry Potter? Mrs. March from Little Women? Well, this blog post isn’t about them. Instead, we’re celebrating Mother’s Day by looking at twelve mother figures that we don’t talk about for some reason.

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#12: Donna Sheridan from Mamma Mia

If you haven’t seen this movie yet…don’t. The songs are pointless, the story is complete nonsense, the characters are forgettable, and everything else is insulting to Greece. But if there was one thing that was okay, it was Meryl Streep’s character. I can’t imagine how much stamina it would take not to disown your daughter when she invites three of your exes to her wedding without telling you (though you could argue Streep didn’t snap because the movie is allergic to misery). And towards the end when Sophie breaks down and asks for help, Streep agrees and even gives us a tender moment where she sings about letting go while helping Sophie prepare for the wedding.

From the moment she gets pregnant, a mother has to put up with a lot of crap. While we’re not unethical or sadistic enough to invite her exes to a wedding she has to attend, we still have to be fed, cleaned, sheltered, and cleaned up after for years. And since the movie at least understood that (to an extent), it only seems fair to bring it up.

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#11: Mrs. McCallister from Home Alone

Granted, leaving your eight-year-old at home alone to go on vacation isn’t responsible parenting. And the relationship between mother and son as shown in the beginning was strained. But when she realizes what happened, she almost immediately jumps to try to get back to Chicago. She calls local police to check on Kevin, she stays at the airport to get a flight back, she nearly trades her earrings for a seat, she snaps at a guy who tells her she can’t get there in time for Christmas, she does whatever she can to get home. She shows that responsibility isn’t so much never doing anything wrong so much as doing whatever it takes to set things right.

#10: Mrs. Brisby, Secret of NIMH

The Nostalgia Critic goes into better detail about the character, so I’ll let the attached clip showcase the awesomeness of this fictional mother.

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#9: Anne Juergens, Secret Life

Fair warning, I haven’t seen the later episodes of this show, so I’ll only focus on season one. The Juergens family is in shambles for almost the entire season. Fifteen-year-old Amy is pregnant, Anne and George are separating after his affair, and Anne’s mother is showing early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. But with all that on her shoulders, Anne keeps it together to help the family get through.

It’s important to note that she doesn’t coddle Amy during her pregnancy. She doesn’t scold or belittle her for being stupid, but at the same time she makes it clear that Amy has to start thinking and acting like an adult if she wants to be treated like one. While she agrees to support whatever decision Amy makes about the baby, she still does everything she can to make sure Amy has the information she needs to move forward, regardless of whatever choice she makes.

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#8: Jumbo from Dumbo/Kala from Tarzan

In many ways, Jumbo and Kala are pretty similar. They both stand up for their sons, they’re both great sources of comfort and refuge, and they both get a song number. But their differences are fun to compare as well. Jumbo became a mother thanks to a flighty stork, while Kala rescued Tarzan after losing her child. Kala doesn’t resort to violence to protect, but Jumbo reached a breaking point and felt she had to. Jumbo and Dumbo have a playful relationship—neither character even speaks—while Kala and Tarzan resemble the mother/son dynamic we see in everyday life. All in all, both have a well-earned spot on the list.

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#7: Valka from How to Train Your Dragon 2

She tames dragons. She got taken while protecting her baby during a dragon raid. She tames dragons. She can recognize Hiccup by a faint scar on his chin. She tames dragons. She teaches Hiccups more about living with dragons peacefully, even showing him a flying trick which predictably comes in handy during the final battle. Did I mention she tames dragons?

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#6: Mary Poppins

When the topic of fictional parenthood from the movie Mary Poppins comes up, a lot of people are like “oh, George Banks! He learns how to be a good father and fixes the kite!” Okay, fair enough, but how come no one ever brings up the leading lady herself? She’s the one looking after Jane and Michael for half of the movie. She’s the one taking them on fantastic journeys and showcasing the power of laughter and imagination. She’s the one teaching them generosity (and in the original book, responsibility). And she’s the perfect blend of lighthearted yet stern, nice yet haughty, and respectable yet flexible.

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#5: Mrs. Bucket from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

In the book and the 2005 remake, Mrs. Bucket is a side character with only a handful of lines. But in the 1971 film, her role is expanded in the first half, giving us a more developed relationship between her and Charlie. Through it’s only limited to a few scenes, we see her trying to be encouraging but also realistic. She doesn’t like seeing him down in the dumps, but she also doesn’t want him to get his hopes too high in case they come crashing down. It’s also interesting to note that, after the discovery of the third golden ticket winner, Mrs. Bucket is the one Charlie talks to. She’s the one who witnesses his frustration, she’s the one who reminds him that he wouldn’t be the only disappointed kid who didn’t find a ticket, she’s the one who tells him to keep his chin up, and she’s the one who tells him to keep his dreams in sight.

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#4: Narcissa Malfoy from Harry Potter

                As the author and hardcore fans of the Potter books will tell you, mother love is one of the recurring themes in the story. Mrs. Weasley and Lily Potter are obviously the two most influential mother figures, but another key mother figure who isn’t talked about a lot is Narcissa Malfoy. In nearly every scene she’s in, she’s concerned with the safety of her family. The first time we meet her, she’s defying her husband’s master to beg Snape to protect her son Draco. And in her last scene, she’s keeping Harry safe so that she can go back to Hogwarts to find Draco. In interviews, Rowling explained that she used Narcissa’s defiance to close the story so that it begins and ends with a mother’s protection.

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#3: Cora from Downton Abbey

As fun as it is to mock this soap opera, you have to admit that it also has its good moments. Cora happens to be one of them. Not only does she have the protective side going for her (an example is what happens when she overhears the nanny calling Cora’s granddaughter a “wicked little crossbreed”), but she’s also a consistent voice of reason. When Edith runs away to be with the daughter she had out of wedlock, Cora tracks her down and helps her find a solution that works for everyone. When her husband is being unreasonable when one of their daughters makes a drastic life choice, she sets him straight. And…yeah, that about sums it up.

#2: Elastigirl from The Incredibles

There’s one scene that sets up a perfect example of Elastigirl’s awesomeness, so I’ll let the clip speak for me.

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#1: Mandy from Ella Enchanted

For the sake of argument, let’s ignore the movie and focus on the book.

From beginning to end, Ella’s fairy godmother encompasses the depth, difficulty, and necessity of motherhood. She looks after Ella, but doesn’t spoil her. She encourages her to be realistic, but doesn’t stop her from pursuing her dreams. Though she won’t take risks (“big magic,” as she calls it), she’ll do whatever she can for her goddaughter. She weeps when Ella weeps, she celebrates her joys, she shares hopes for a brighter future, and she’s the most trusted confidant in the story. Mandy, the most underrated mother figure.

Photo sources:

http://www.wheninmanila.com/songs-of-abba-mamma-mia-philippines-is-extended/

http://www.gurl.com/2014/12/11/crazy-interesting-facts-about-home-alone-movie-trivia/

http://www.tvguide.com/celebrities/molly-ringwald/photos/167083/14481/

https://disneymoviesfanatic.wordpress.com/tag/dumbombers/

Ranking Disney: #28 – Tarzan (1999)

http://collider.com/how-to-train-your-dragon-2-3-dean-deblois-interview/

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/new-mary-poppins-film-disney-to-set-movie-20-years-after-original-10501114.html

http://www.aveleyman.com/FilmCredit.aspx?FilmID=21386

http://www.wikiwand.com/id/Narcissa_Malfoy

http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/downton-abbey-elizabeth-mcgovern-who-2853465

http://www.paleohub.info/key/m/words-minnie-driver-ella-enchanted.html

12 Angry Men: A Message of Kindness?

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Spoilers!

When most people think of jury drama, they think of Reginald Rose’s play 12 Angry Men. And when some people think of the play 12 Angry Men, they think of the 1957 movie of the same name directed by Sidney Lumet. High school English teachers pop this movie in because of the way it defines American justice, its message that facts aren’t always as black and white as they appear, and its Schooling Juror #10 Drinking Game.

The story is about a jury deciding on the guilt or innocence of an eighteen-year-old boy accused of killing his father. 8 is initially the only one who votes not guilty, despite the fact that the testimonies and presented evidence show otherwise. He pokes holes in the facts and argues that the evidence isn’t as conclusive as it seems, and the other jurors slowly but surely change their votes.

While critics love this movie for its cinematography, acting, and obsession with the phrase ‘reasonable doubt,’ I thought I’d focus on a different aspect of the story: 8’s influence on the other jurors.

Let’s start with 8 and the way he interacts with the other jurors. He walks into the jury room, quiet and contemplative, only speaking when spoken to. When he’s asked why he votes not guilty, his only response is “I don’t know.” He starts his case by appealing to the other jurors’ humanity and asking to show the boy compassion by discussing the case.

As the arguments unfold and we hear about the testimonies and evidence presented, we learn that 8—though quiet—is by no means a pushover. Whenever someone says “this is fact” to him, he nearly always has a way of saying “maybe to you, but I’d like to know more.” He challenges them to stand by what they say, especially when they’re not as sure as they think they are.

But while he isn’t a pushover, he also isn’t a victim of toxic masculinity like 3 or 10. When he realizes he’s outnumbered, he gambles for support instead of trying to power through on his own. He respectfully listens to the opinions of the others, even if he doesn’t agree with them. In fact, the only instances where he ignores the other jurors is whenever 10 exhales bigoted bullshit. And the only time you see 8 visibly angry is when he catches 3 and 12 playing tic tac to instead of focusing on the case.

Now let’s look at the other jurors. 1 is a passive guy, trying and failing to keep the peace between the others. 2 is a passive banker who is more used to agreeing rather than voicing his own opinions. 3 is—as 8 refers to him in the story—a “self-appointed public avenger” who wants to see the boy die. 4 is a smart, analytical broker who is also the strongest advocate for sticking to the facts. 5 is a quiet man who grew up in the slums. 6 also tries to keep the peace, but he won’t tolerate any of the jurors being silenced or treated as less than human. 7 doesn’t care about the case at all, always checking the time and impatient to get to a baseball game. 9 is the oldest of the group who could pass for an empathetic psychologist. 10 is a bigot who values his own opinion too much. 11 is a quiet European immigrant who isn’t afraid to ask questions. And 12, like 7, doesn’t take the case seriously and cracks jokes when he probably shouldn’t.

The first six jurors to vote not guilty are 8, 9, 5, 11, 2, and 6. Out of the five who change their votes, four of them start off as quiet, and whenever they speak up they’re either insulted or not taken seriously by the other jurors. They’re treated as though their opinions don’t matter in the grand scheme of things (and if 6’s line “I’m not used to supposing” is anything to go by, they probably believe that they don’t matter). But as soon as they change their votes, they become strong advocates for the boy’s acquittal. In comparison, the majority of the other six (1, 3, 4, 7, 10, and 12) start out being loud, aggressive, and in some cases obnoxious. But by the time they change their votes, they don’t speak up as much—almost as if they’re humbled by being proven wrong.

What does this say about these two sides of the coin? Watch the film again and focus on how 8 interacts with everyone else—and how they respond to him. Again, 8 listens to everyone else and what they have to say. But he also asks questions. When talking to jurors like 2, 5, 9, and 11 in particular, it’s like he’s saying to them “your opinion does matter.” And when speaking to jurors like 3, 7, 10, and 12, it’s like he’s saying to them “your opinion is not the only one that matters.” With all of that said, maybe this movie was about more than just criminal justice. Maybe it also showed how kindness can empower the powerless and simultaneously humble the arrogant.

Photo source: http://screenprism.com/insights/article/how-does-12-angry-men-use-cinematography-to-build-tension-during-the-film

What’s With Miraculous Ladybug?

In the fall of 2015, cartoon lovers and critics saw the debut of the French cartoon Miraculous Ladybug. Not only has it involved a team of international creators (made in Korea, takes place in France, redubbed in various languages), but it’s also been renewed for a 2nd and 3rd season. Reception has been mostly positive worldwide, and it currently holds an 8.7/10 rating on IMBD.

Which begs the question: How did this show gain so much attention?

In a nutshell, Miraculous Ladybug centers on two teenagers—Marinette and Adrien—who transform into Ladybug and Cat Noir respectively in order to stop villains and save Paris. These villains come from a mysterious man in the shadows named Hawkmoth, who can not only give people powers but also magnify negative feelings to the point where he can turn people into monsters known as akumas. The two most well-known facts about this show are 1) the two heroes are classmates, but neither of them have any idea of who the other is, and 2) she has a crush on his civilian form while he has a crush on her hero form.

On the surface, there’s a lot to like about Miraculous Ladybug. The show was originally going to be an anime, but they switched to CGI. Even so, you can still see traces of anime-style animation in the character movements and facial expressions. On top of that, some of the angles make the show look like something out of a comic book. It’s an odd combination, but it gives the show its own animation style. Another thing a lot of fans love is the diversity of the cast, most notably having the heroine be half-French and half-Chinese. Nowadays it’s easy yet lazy for writers to throw in characters of different races for the sake of saying “we support diversity,” but for some reason it seems so natural for Miraculous Ladybug to go down that route…even if some episodes don’t handle it as well as others.

Sadly, even the best of shows come with flaws, and this one is no exception. First of all, the main villain is boring. Maybe this will improve in later seasons as we learn more about him, but as it stands now his akumas are more interesting than he is. Plus, he’s trying to make butterflies scary. Do I even need to make a joke about that? Also, the show is filled to the brim with clichés. The nerdy best friend, the one-dimensional bully that no one likes, the goth, the athlete, the big guy who’s a softie on the inside, the goof off, the use of deus ex machina in almost every episode…well, you get the idea.

And then there’s the one thing about this show that everyone has picked on already. HOW HAS NO ONE FIGURED OUT THAT MARINETTE IS LADYBUG?! It’s not like no one’s trying, Marinette’s best friend and Adrien are both clearly obsessed with figuring out the heroine’s identity! But we have at least a dozen hints gift-wrapped for them every episode, AND THEY NEVER PICK UP ON THEM!

Despite these flaws (and many many many more), Miraculous Ladybug is still quite popular. Why is that? Well, here are a few possible reasons.

First, there’s still a lot of heart to this show. The tropes are annoying, but they’ve somehow given the show its own identity. As mentioned earlier, the animation style is strange, but unique. And while it doesn’t always work, there’s still a lot of time and effort put into this project.

Second, the dynamics with the two main characters’ personalities (with and without the masks) add a lot of intrigue to the show. For Marinette, Ladybug is an extension of her personality. The mask magnifies her courage, wit, and determination. Take it away, and there’s still more to her. She’s an aspiring artist with a fiery temper, a passion for everything she does, and a struggle to find courage in everyday life. For Adrien, the mask is a way for him to try on a different personality. He’s shy and reserved as a civilian, but as Cat Noir he’s—for lack of a better term—a complete wildcat. The mask gives him a chance to do anything he wants without suffering his father’s disappointment.

But perhaps the magnum opus of the show (so far) is the last moment in the season finale, a flashback to when Marinette and Adrien became friends in their civilian forms. Most of the other episodes end on a high note, usually along the lines of “all’s well that ends well.” Here, the rainy setting and gentle music set up a muted, subdued, even vulnerable tone to this scene. To Adrien, it’s simply two strangers becoming friends. To Marinette, it’s her first time falling in love. But to the viewers and the guardian watching them in the distance, it marks the beginning of an important chapter in their lives. Whether the heroes know it or not, this moment and the moments building up to it have changed them forever. It’s the perfect way to end season one. For better or worse, the show will change as the story progresses. And Miraculous fans can’t wait to see what lies in store for Ladybug and Cat Noir.

Photo source: http://miraculousladybug.wikia.com/wiki/File:CU1iJclWcAA0I14_large.jpg

The First Impression Syndrome

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

I think it’s safe to say that there’s a little bit of OCD in all of us. We want everything to be perfect on the first try without having to change anything. As a result, the human race runs on impressive first impressions—or as I like to call it, the First Impression Syndrome. The best illustration for this is what women use for them: Makeup. Most girls like to wear various levels of cosmetics whenever they walk out the door. I myself prefer to dab on a little foundation, mascara, and blush before going out in public. And it’s a common mistake for anyone using it for the first time to cake it on, hiding any flaws they might not like. While makeup can certainly do that, it also has another purpose that we don’t learn until we get older: highlighting the good parts. Once we learn it, we take advantage of it. Now, putting on makeup for most women is as natural as getting hungry or sleepy every few hours.

And the proof of First Impression Syndrome doesn’t stop there. We don’t ask people out unless we find them attractive or interesting upon meeting them. We don’t hire a potential employee unless everything about him screams “perfect person for the job!” We don’t recommend a restaurant unless the service and food are phenomenal in the first visit. And many of us won’t walk out the front door of our homes if we can’t deem ourselves worthy of a perfect first impression. When I graduated from college and started looking for jobs and polishing my résumé, I started wondering what our fetish is with the first impression. Why are we obsessed with looking perfect? Why do we want others to look perfect to us? Is the First Impression Syndrome a good rule of thumb to live by?

Well, to answer the first two questions, one must ask why we rely on the First Impression Syndrome. To put it simply, we want security. When we hire employees for different positions, we want to be sure that they can handle the job and improve the company for the better. When we approach people to flirt and talk to, we want to feel comfortable conversing with them. And in a weird way, having the ability to make a good first impression gives us a confidence boost. We want to be admired. And no one is a stronger judge of you than how you think people see you.

Which brings me to the third question I ask on the subject: Is the First Impression Syndrome a good rule of thumb to live by? Not always. Sometimes, it can even be dangerous, for two reasons.

One, first impressions aren’t always reliable. Our perception of and experiences with things can—and often do—change as we grow older. As Lemony Snicket explains in The Bad Beginning, first impressions are often incorrect. Tea, for example, is an acquired taste. You might not like it the first time you try it, and then a year later it might be your favorite drink. On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have a habit of finding psychopaths charming and friendly the first time we meet them. But the more time we spend with them, the more we realize that they may not be quite so nice on the inside.

Secondly, this social norm gives us the ability to fool others with the first impressions we make. And even if that doesn’t put our sense of right and wrong at risk, it endangers something else that’s just as important (if not more so): The Lasting Impression. A lot of us spend so much time focusing on how we want to look when we meet people that we forget about who we want to be when they start getting to know us. Should we strive to be good at making friends, or keeping them? Which would you rather have for a companion: someone who’s friendly at first and repulsive on the inside, or someone who’s repulsive at first and friendly on the inside? Which of those two would you rather be?

Just a little food for thought.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”

Photo source: http://peilobstersuppers.com/2013/03/first-impressions/