Vice Vice Baby

Vice Magazine.

 

The first time I had heard about this publication, I was in high school. It sounded like another “Time Magazine” or “Variety Magazine“– and I ignored it for a while. However, in recent months, I use it to read my news. 

 

What’s really unique about Vice is their approach in the news. They take cultural/social/political issues and incorporate the work of columnists, photographers, cartoonists, fiction writers, and journalists into their work. 

 

I chose to blog about VICE because it’s the kind of writing I’d hope to be involved in if I go forth with print journalism/online print journalism. It attracts a younger audience with insightful, fun approaches to serious and hard-hitting events occurring world wide.

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[Controversial magazine covers Vice has published  in the past]

Their use of social media is smart– they’re minimal, creative, and strictly professional online– there aren’t any annoying ads or boring headlines– in fact, here are some great examples of their headlines:

 

Everyone Sucks 

 

I Was a Drug Dealer’s Delivery Service Guy 

 

Meet the Guy Who Shot Porn on the Westboro Baptist Church’s Lawn

 

This Week in Racism

 

Turkey Really Doesn’t Want Gay People to Have Sex 

 

 

Reading these headlines is initiative enough to click on the link or read below the headline– compared to news outlets like the NY Times, VICE takes similar, if not, the same newsworthy stories, but they make catchy headlines, and have interesting people write their stories.

 

Does this mean ANYONE should be able to write a column or an OP/ED piece on Russia’s Anti-Gay fiasco? No. But it means that having a graphic artist work collaboratively with a columnist could produce an enticing story– attracting a younger audience and to interest a demographic that would otherwise be scrolling through twitter, reading irrelevant, substance-less tweets. 

 

In general, I do think that people want to read opinionated pieces. They might not think they enjoy it, but people like having something to criticize, and VICE magazine gives their readership just that– controversial takes on controversial issues with great art, insight, and graphics. 

 

 

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Blast in the New Generation

This week I came across an article that was explaining a possible change in the education system. The headline read “Teachers train to face school shooter”.

 

At first, it made me upset, and as I continued to open and read the article, I realized that I’m living in a new generation. A generation of shootings being a “regular” part of our nightly news. 

 

I, like many of my peers, grew up in an era of fear in schools. 9/11 instilled a fear of the unknown in our community– none of us knew when/ if there would be an act of violence in public, schools, or our homes. I never knew that this paranoia would turn into an actual reality in 2013. It seems as though the word “shooting” is a daily part of our news– whether it’s at elementary schools, movie theaters, or daily massacres in cities like St. Louis or Chicago,  it makes me wonder: are we becoming numb to gun violence, or is gun violence becoming “normal”. 

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(Common Anti-Gun political cartoon) 

Either way it’s worrisome. I never knew that “trained to defend from shooter” would be a part of my 5th grade teacher’s job description.

 

I think we have to realize, as an older generation, that things change. Just like how my grandpa doesn’t understand technology, I don’t understand how “normal” it has become to see “17 Killed in Shooting” on the news– I’m so afraid that I’m becoming insensitive to the number of casualties we see in the media– its effect is something that makes me nervous to see in our youth— how they will adapt to the reality of gun violence, what measures schools will take to prevent gun violence, and what will actually happen with gun laws. 

 

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(Erin Burnett talks about Gun Debate)

 

To me, hearing about the shootings that have occurred over the last few years is a call to gun control WITHOUT a question. I definitely think the conversation about WHAT we can do about guns has become much more frequent at the dinner table, in schools, and in the media– but taking action is part that these conversations stop.

 

Though reading this article made me angry– it made me realize how the times have changed, and now that shootings aren’t a foreign concept in any setting, it maybe IS for the best that schools prepare their educators to also protect their students. 

Lorde sweeps the Music Industry.

The First time I heard Lorde’s music was in early May of 2013. I was with my friend, we were driving down PCH, and she said, “listen to this artist, isn’t she amazing?”

 

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(Lorde pictured above) 

After hearing a couple tracks, I was impressed. There was a ton of variety, her voice was unique, and the sound was very fresh.

 

A few tracks later, my friend turned around and said, “Oh yeah, she’s only 16.”

 

I was in disbelief.

 

I did some research on her when I went home– Ella-Yelich O’Connor, better known as Lorde is a 16 year old New Zealand Native who has been writing music for several years– and gathers inspiration from her Poet Mother and Kanye West.

 

For some reason, I was so intrigued by Lorde’s presence in the music industry. The first month or two I listened to her EP entitled “The Love Club” and the only image of her available on websites was a graphic image of her in what seems like a a fur scarf. I thought the market strategy was brilliant– nobody really knew who she was/ how old she was/ what she looked like unless they took the time to extensively. For a 16 year old, that’s pretty advanced marketing. 

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(The Love Club-EP cover art) 

As the summer went on, Lorde’s name began to pop up on 8 tracks, Tumblr, Twitter– and other social networking websites with a large amount of tech-saavy “young users”. Her music went viral, and the next thing I knew, I was listening to her #1 Single “Royals”— this is not even mentioning the fact that tickets to her LA show sold out in 3 minutes– I instantaneously tweeted at her when I heard the news: “Who are you? Beyoncé?!”

 

In 17 years, she is the FIRST female to take the #1 spot on Alternative charts– and only at the age of 16! 

 

Her music isn’t what normal “teenage girl pop/alternative” sounds like– boy crazy lyrics, boy oriented, or living fabulously– in fact, it’s the exact opposite– Royals embraces the majority of young adults who are influenced by the “fabulous” lifestyles other artists sing/perform about.

 

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(Debut album “Pure Heroine” cover art)

Recently, her debut album entitled “Pure Heroine” has been released as a live stream online for the entire week prior to her release date (Sept.30)– not only are her sounds different than anything Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, or Katy Perry are producing, but they’re insightful, beautifully engineered, and brand new to anything the music industry has seen. 

Not-so-very-Potter

Growing up, I would tuck myself in bed, and under the covers, would flash a light to read the Harry Potter series. As soon as I heard my mom coming upstairs to check on me, I’d pretend to be sleeping, and the moment she turned around to go to bed, I would turn my flashlight on and continue delving into the wizarding world.

 

When I finished the book series, I, like many other Potter fans, felt a sense of emptiness.. I honestly hoped there would be a Sequel or some Prequel to follow the last book, but no– JK Rowling ended the series perfectly to where there could be no continuation. And the real devastation hit once I watched the final film in theaters, and as the movie ended, you could just hear the muffled sniffling and tears of the audience.. that was it. No more Harry.

 

This past week, I stumbled upon an article about JK Rowling and how she’ll be screen-writing a new film which “expands” into the wizarding world. Wait… so what does that mean? As I continued reading, it said that Rowling wants to adapt her book “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them” onto the silver screen as a treat to her Harry Potter fans. But,  reading more about this new film makes me disheartened, I don’t know if other potter fans feel this way, but the article does not fail to mention the amount of revenue the Potter series generated for the company– it only makes me wonder if this film is being made to continue dragging Potter fans along, in hopes of some more Hogwarts/ Hogsmeade/ Diagon Alley scenes. 

 

Either way, I don’t believe this film will be as successful as the Harry Potter series, and only time will tell if the real Potter fans will be dissatisfied with this move by JK Rowling and her production team. 

Post 9/11 thoughts

I went to a primarily white elementary school. When 9/11 occurred, it was a shocking, tragic, and extremely scary time period for almost any American. Nobody knew if there would be a follow-up attack, and nobody knew where it would be. Living in fear was a reality many people had to face, and many schools had to consider. Aside from this chaos, I faced a very new challenge: prejudice. 

 

I’m Iranian-American, meaning that I was born in the USA and I was raised bilingual and bicultural. I never really knew the implications of being “alienated” for race until the post-9/11 world. Though, my close friends didn’t change their attitudes toward me, other people did– there was a sense of fear I felt among my peers when my dad would pull up in the front yard to pick me up after class– there was a sense of fear I felt when people asked me if I was Muslim. I had to explain to them that I was technically born Muslim, but nobody in my family practices the religion– and in fact, we celebrated Christmas, Easter, etc. 

 

Even as I grew up, I was always jokingly asked “are you a terrorist?”– I would laugh it off, but now that I’m almost 20 years old, this question is no longer something I can nervously brush off, it’s absolutely infuriating to be CONTINUOUSLY associated with terrorists. 

 

One time, my mom was watering our plants out front, and as soon as one of our neighbors walked on by with her dog, my mom greeted our neighbor only to be responded to with “go back to  your country, you damn foreigner!” 

 

I’ll always remember that day, it’s the true epitome of how members of my family and family friends endured, and STILL endure to this day.

 

9/11 was a horrible event, I still get teary-eyed thinking about the lives lost, the trauma it caused those who survived, and the reinforced hope in humanity it displayed when others were helping others in NYC. But every 9/11, I am also reminded of how this day marked a new era of prejudice toward Middle Easterners, the way my mom was talked to, and the way my classmates acted around me. 

 

Here is a great article that inspired this blog post

Promises I made to myself

Throughout the course of my life, I’ve been incredibly inspired by different kinds of Journalism. The first kind of journalism that made me want to be a part of the industry was Fashion Journalism– the excitement of photographing and reporting on new trends in clothing and culture seemed so surreal– and when I pictured my life as a fashion journalist, I saw myself behind-the-scenes with top designers like Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel), Tom Ford, Diane Von Furstenberg. I was in the fifth grade, and all I could think about was New York Fashion Week and all the fabulous-ness that encompassed it. I’d force my mom to buy me Interview Magazine and Vogue every month and I’d flip through the pages, learning every name (models, designers, writers.. anything) in hopes that my name would be printed in one of those publications.

Something happened during the time of my Vogue craze, I stopped caring about fashion– though, I really cared about the people in the art world. I was introduced to documentaries. I thought they beautifully captured people, places, cities, etc. I was enamored by the story telling that came with documenting a certain issue or a special person. That’s when I think I really discovered my interest in becoming a journalist. I loved to watch people talk about their lives, I still do, and I love being behind the camera. The documentary called “Promises” really changed my life in terms of subject matter– and how, for most of my life, I had been so attracted to beautiful and wonderful subjects (such as art and fashion), but I realized that there were much more controversial things happening around the world, but they’re not getting the attention that music and films were and still are. The documentary covered a group of children from both Israel and Palestine, and how they interacted with one another, over the years– and how the conflict between the two countries affected their friendship. As a Middle Eastern, this documentary really set my goals on heading to the Middle East and discovering the deep-rooted conflicts and cultures that reside in the ancient land.

Ever since “Promises”, I have watched MANY documentaries– each contributing to my deep appreciation for them and the people they discover. As a journalist, I could only hope to bring attention to the subjects people don’t think about twice– and make them apparent in our society.

Miley “Can’t Stop”– but she needs to

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(Photo of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke performing at the VMAS 2013)

     Being from Los Angeles, I ‘m almost positive that the smog issue comes from the amount of celebrity culture that pollutes the city.

 

I was so excited to leave LA for college– I would finally be able to get away from the entertainment-crazed news stations and I’d be immersed in more serious news. My Freshmen year was great, I was so involved in watching cold-hard news, I forgot what “US Weekly” Magazine even was. Unfortunately, in recent weeks, I was traumatized by a celebrity occurrence– or should I say, a catastrophe– that is better known as the “Miley Cyrus VMA performance”.

 

It’s not even the fact that it was a “raunchy” performance– after the show, there were hundreds of pictures online zoomed in on her body and clothes (or lack thereof)– I love a controversial performance  and “racy” clothing isn’t really an offensive aspect of anybody’s performance, in my opinion.

 

What I was really blown away by was the disrespect emanated by the “We Can’t Stop/Blurred Lines” performance. Both Songs represent a “controversial” lifestyle– Miley’s is all about the party scene for young adults, dancing with hallucinogenic drugs and living free– and Robin Thicke’s song is the “Blurred Lines” between consensual sex and rape. Despite their meanings, these songs have been extremely popular on the radio/ the charts.

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(Photo Still from Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell)

Ever since Miley Cyrus has made her “come back”– her image has portrayed the “hood rich” theme that is the prominent theme within the Hip Hop community. Whether it’s performing with Juicy-J, a well-known artist in Hip Hop  or starring in her latest video “We Can’t Stop” which is heavily embedded with bits and pieces of “hood rich culture”– Miley has really wedged her way into the Rap industry.

 

Rap culture is a big deal. There are tons of artists who make mix tapes in hopes that a producer finds them and turns them into the next big thing. The Rap Industry is very traditional in the sense that the big artists have paid their dues– almost every artist in the genre raps about their struggles– well, because, The Rap Industry is not an easy one to enter– it takes time, dedication, and dozens of mix tapes to even gain a fan base.

 

The issue with Miley Cyrus is the fact that she has the luxury of money—and her ability to enter this industry is incredibly easy. Basically, in other words, Miley has the ability to wake up and choose who she wants to be for the day– completely ignoring the cultural implications of Hip Hop.

 

Artists like Lil Kim, Khia, and Missy Elliot are ICONIC females in the Rap Industry– all have climbed the ladder up to where they are, all of them have extremely sexual/ controversial music/images, and all of them are….. sadly under represented. (Sure, Lil Kim and Missy Elliot are well known, but they’re not under the same magnifying glass as Miley)

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(Lil Kim’s album cover– at the time, controversial)

      How is it that when these African American females produce sexually explicit music/ videos, society heavily criticizes them? But when artists like Miley get on stage, uses African American dancers essentially as “sexual props” on stage, it’s WIDELY popular? Sure, the performance got critiqued, but since then, her stats have gone up– twitter followers, expected album revenue, etc.

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(Miley Cyrus using a Black female as a sexual prop to perform sexual acts on for the VMAS)

      Miley has gone the past few months with NO mention of any of her Hip Hop mentors– she has simply placed herself into the industry with no gratitude, no paid dues, and no respect to the legends. Sure, Miley “Can’t Stop”– but she needs to.