Category Archives: viewpoint

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is Back

The newest incarnation of the famous Tom Clancy character, Jack Ryan, has finally been released on Amazon Prime, with John Krasinski tackling the role this time around. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is the fifth film version of the book series, but it is the first screenplay that is not based directly off of Clancy’s work. This definitely shows in the plot, for the show goes headfirst into some issues that are exclusively relevant to the 21st Century.

Jack Ryan is a CIA analyst and former marine that finds financial records that point to a major player in the Middle Eastern terrorism game: someone who could be the next Bin-Laden. Ryan and his partner James Greer (Wendell Pierce) have to track down this terrorist before he seriously threatens the security of the United States.

This show tries way too hard to be different than its predecessors, and it succeeds in some ways. One of the best parts about Season 1 is how grounded the plot is. It never ascends into Fast and Furious levels of ridiculous, and every single event or action scene feels like something that could occur in modern-day society. The show also utilizes its two leads, Krasinski (A Quiet Place, The Office) and Pierce (The Wire), in an incredibly efficient way. Krasinski has a mostly comedic background, but here shows that he has the chops to anchor down a drama efficiently enough.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is just generally fun to watch. The show has plenty of problems that I will soon detail, but it does a good job of competently entertaining the audience, and even making it suspenseful near the end. Another plot element that I appreciated was how humane the villains of the story were. A backstory is given to Suleiman (Ali Suliman) that makes the audience empathise his situation despite the fact that he may be attempting to murder hundreds of people.

This leads to some of my serious problems with this show. The villain is given serious hints of a real story and personality, but it is never expanded enough to give it true depth. Near the end, when the stakes get higher, the writers could have made this conflict a true moral dilemma, but they instead retreat back to stereotype and keep it at a typical hero/villain relationship.

Also, while on the topic of writing, the dialogue is often poorly written. There are serious gaps of logic in some of the main character’s decisions, but somehow there are never any repercussions for them. Jack Ryan also makes some serious leaps of faith throughout the season, and he is almost always right. For once, I would have liked to see him make an assumption and be wrong, so that the show could explore the consequences of making a mistake in this line of work.

Most of the storylines in the show are adequate enough, with the exception of two: The romance storyline and a side plot involving a drone pilot. In every show like this, there has to be two attractive white protagonists of the same age who end up getting together. Some shows can pull this off, but Jack Ryan makes it feel incredibly forced. There is no reason for this romantic relationship, and it often just degrades the pacing of the show.  The storyline involving the drone pilot isn’t awful, I just have absolutely no idea why it is included in the show.

The last major complaint I have is the ending. I won’t spoil it for those who want to watch it, but it is VERY sudden. Throughout the season all of these intersecting relationships are built up, and they are all simply ended in one or two scenes in the final episode. This show definitely could have benefitted from a more fleshed out ending, and maybe even a couple more episodes.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan simply exists. The show is not terrible, nor is it particularly good, which is the case with most of these Jack Ryan adaptations. The first season is entertaining enough, but it never quite justifies its existence, especially since it is the fifth remake of the same character.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is streaming now on Amazon Prime.  

by joel alexander–student life editor

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Sierra Burgess is a Loser Loses Applause from Audience

 

Sierra Burgess is a Loser marks Netflix’s second teen comedy in the span of a month. For some reason, they are going overboard on the high school films recently, and they’ve quite honestly been more miss than hit. However, after viewing the competent and entertaining To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, I hoped that this one would be quite the same, if not better.

Boy, was I wrong.

The plot centers around Sierra Burgess (Shannon Purser a.k.a. Barb from Stranger Things), an unpopular and overweight teenage girl who winds up texting and falling for a boy (Noah Centineo) who thinks she is a much more beautiful girl than she appears to be. For those uneducated in the culture, this is called “catfishing,” and is a very mean and deceptive way of using the Internet. The film, somehow, expects the audience to cheer for Burgess even though she is taking advantage of someone like this.

With all of this aside, Sierra Burgess is a Loser is essentially the typical high school movie. The movie stars an antisocial character and her only friend who end up getting thrust into the popular crowd, and by the end of the movie, the main character starts dating the boy of her dreams. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s literally every single high school movie ever made. Every teen comedy in the last decade has had a plot similar to this, if not exactly the same.

Some films, however, decide to twist things up with a unique plot, good acting or some other aspect special to the movie. This film does no such thing. Even though the plot attempts to be different with the “catfishing” premise, the main character and the relationships are so poorly executed that it is very difficult to care.

All of the interesting and well-acted characters are the supporting ones; such as Veronica (Kristine Froseth), who has a very intriguing relationship with her mother (Chrissy Metz, who is wasted here) and siblings that is not explored at all. Jamey, the boy who is being catfished, is also a good character, but is again essentially ignored by the writers. The only funny moments in this so-called “comedy” are delivered by RJ Cyler, who plays the token black best friend, but he is in the film very little and is reduced to stereotype.

Sierra Burgess is a Loser is built on the foundation that the audience will feel sorry for Burgess and her situation. However, she has easily the best life out of anybody in the film. She has a best friend, which is something that not everybody has; she has two parents that care for her; she is incredibly smart, and she is applying for colleges like Stanford. The movie expects us to feel sorry for her when there are other characters in the movie who have abusive parents, deaf siblings, and bad grades.

Another main message that the film gives is that it does not matter how a person looks, but it only matters how they are inside. This is a fabulous message, but the film has no foundation for this message, for the main character is a terrible person. It is hard to see the beauty on the inside of the main character when she is blaming everybody else for her own problems. Plus, near the end of the film, Burgess destroyed what likability there was by committing a despicable act which I will not disclose.

In the end, Sierra Burgess is a Loser is just an overlong build-up until the main characters start dating. By the end of the first ten minutes you can tell they are going to get together, but it takes an hour and 45 minutes to get there. If that sounds like something you’d want to watch then go ahead, it’s streaming on Netflix now, but if that sounds even remotely boring to you, then stay away from this film like the plague and watch Black Panther instead.

by joel alexander–student life editor

Allegations Against Kavanaugh Prove to be Questionable and Exaggerated

Brett Kavanaugh, now Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, was recently accused of sexual misconduct at a party 38 years ago.

Just days before the Senate Judiciary committee was set to vote on Kavanaugh’s passing as Supreme Court Justice, Christine Blasey Ford comes forth with her allegation: 38 years ago, Brett Kavanaugh inappropriately touched her. This occurred at what she has referred to as a party, but also not a party, depending on the instance. She also claims that Kavanaugh was extremely drunk at this “party”. However, no one, not even her lifelong friend she claims was at the event, can corroborate any of these claims.  

What is most troubling about these claims is the timing. Why is Ford choosing to come out now? Most people (including herself), say she didn’t want to see a bad person like Kavanaugh come to power. This would seem to be a logical reason, if it weren’t for the fact that Judge Kavanaugh has been sitting on the D.C. Court of Appeals for some 12 years. A court that sees tenfold more cases than the Supreme Court, which would arguably make it more powerful. Even if some do not agree on the fact that it is more powerful, it is still the second most powerful court in (arguably) the most powerful country in the world. Brett Kavanaugh has been in a position of power since May 2006. When does Dr. Ford (an open Democrat) choose to accuse him, however? The summer of 2018, once he is sure to tip the scale in favor of the GOP for the Supreme Court.

Another concern is the fact that a large portion of the public seems to not only believe Ford, but go far beyond what she claims: he is called a gang-rapist by some on the left, when all he was accused of, by one woman, was inappropriately touching her. What happened to due process? What happened to « innocent until proven guilty »? What happened to believing the FBI when pronouncing an accused attacker innocent? These men and women are running around demonizing Brett Kavanaugh after he has been pronounced innocent. Going as far as to create lipstick lines titled: “ F*ck Kavanaugh,” which was released by the far-left cosmetic line “Lipslut.”

I understand why people want to believe Ford: I watched her testimony, it was extremely moving. However, I don’t let my emotions affect my rationality. When looking at simply the facts, Kavanaugh is innocent. I can also rely on my emotions when judging this case, because Kavanaugh’s testimony was just as (if not more) moving than Ford’s. In his opening statement, he speaks of how these allegations have ruined his life, and how he is innocent. He then, with a trembling voice, tells us a story of his daughter wanting to pray for Dr. Ford, his accuser. Her reason being that she is obviously going through a very hard time, and even though she is wrongfully accusing her father, should be given sympathy and prayed for. This is truly a beautiful story, and although some may say this is just a well thought out ploy on the part of Kavanaugh, the same can be said about Ford’s claims. The only difference between the two being that I’m sure Kavanaugh could actually get someone to corroborate his story. So, when following not only rational, but also emotional thinking, I come to one conclusion: Brett Kavanaugh is innocent.

by celeste pollack–news editor

Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Insults Sexual Assault Victims

The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process has proved to be one of the most controversial and dividing chapters in United States history due to the accusations from Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor from Palo Alto University. Kavanaugh has repeatedly and angrily denied these allegations with Republicans backing him, but many of the Democratic senators are convinced he is lying, which has created contention between the two parties.

At this point in time, Kavanaugh has been officially confirmed to the Supreme Court, which shows that America’s priorities do not lie in whether a nominee is actually qualified to be a justice, but whether the nominee will benefit their party. Kavanaugh proved countless times in his testimony that he is completely unfit to be a bipartisan Supreme Court justice, with his emotional temperament and blatant lies.

Ford’s testimony, directly after, was considered to be credible even by non-believers of her claims. She never avoided a question, all of her claims were proved to be credible, and she has absolutely no reason to ruin her life just to “conspire against the Republicans.” Kavanaugh has now been nominated, and Ford’s life has been certifiably ruined, with her actually having to move out of her house due to the copious amounts of death threats she was receiving. And somehow people still blame her for spreading false accusations that they don’t for sure know are actually false.

Unlike Ford, Kavanaugh constantly avoided questions during his testimony, often refusing to answer questions that would be painfully simple had he been completely innocent. When one senator asked if he had ever been intoxicated to the point of not remembering events from a party in that time of his life, he replied “I don’t know, have you?” What kind of innocent man would say that under oath? He was also asked by another senator if he would support a full FBI investigation into the charges, and he refused to answer the question. If he was innocent, then he would be overjoyed to support an FBI investigation because it would prove his innocence. If I had been accused of murdering my wife, and upon being asked if I had done it I refused to answer, then people would have reason to be suspicious, as should they here.

One of the most important aspects to consider when confirming a Supreme Court justice is the nominees’ temperament, whether it be anger or emotion. A justice on the Supreme Court is not supposed to be extremely emotional about certain issues, and is supposed to be calm and collected in strained situations. The characteristics that I just described to you are the opposite of the ones exhibited by Kavanaugh during his trial. He cried in the the most odd moments: when he was talking about how his friends worked out frequently, when he detailed reading old calendars with his father during Christmas, etc. He also had numerous spouts of sudden anger that caught everybody at the hearing off guard. If Kavanaugh responded like this to important issues plaguing America in the Supreme Court, he would be seen as biased and partisan, but just because Republicans wanted the majority it was willfully pushed under the rug.

Even if all of the sexual assault allegations are ignored (which they shouldn’t be), the temperament issues alone, in a normal world, should be enough to immediately disqualify him from a seat on the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh also blatantly lied about quotes that were pulled from his high school yearbook. Throughout his yearbook entry, there are references that quite obviously allude to sexual encounters with fellow classmates, but he has created alternate meaning for these references. There are many of them scattered in this entry, but one of the most blatant lies is his excuse for the reference of the Devil’s Triangle. The Devil’s Triangle is a very specific sex act that involves two men and one woman, one that is relatively widely known. However, when asked, Kavanaugh claimed that it was a “drinking game.”

No, it’s not. I’m not sure what parallel universe Kavanaugh is living in, but a Devil’s Triangle is definitely not a drinking game. This is a blatant lie, and yet it, like so many others, was glossed over by all of the Republican senators who simply want a majority on the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh’s conformation is a direct insult to sexual assault survivors all over the United States. Republicans could just as easily have found a legitimate nominee that did not have multiple assault allegations, but they decided Brett Kavanaugh was the one simply just to throw it in the Democrats’ faces. This case says to women all across the country, “Don’t come out with the truth, because nobody will believe you or care about what you have to say in the end.” The white male hierarchy of leadership has always unanimously controlled this country, and Kavanaugh’s confirmation has expressed to all Americans that it is no closer to changing than it was in the 80’s.

by joel alexander–student life editor  

ACLU educates teenagers in social justice

Following the 2016 presidential election, I realized that I had become more self-aware when it came to politics and the injustice that various minorities face. I felt like their voices and experiences, as well as mine by being a part of the communities, were silenced and deemed unimportant by our government. I sensed that I had an obligation to do something, and to use my privilege and platform as a writer to influence those around me. So, I submitted an application to the American Civil Liberties Union Summer Advocacy Institute, a week long camp held at Georgetown University, where rising juniors and seniors can learn more about social justice issues that interest them and how to bring activism into their community. Being surrounded with roughly 500 like-minded students was inspiring; I was excited so see so many young people with as much of a passion for change as I had.
Throughout the week, we were introduced to various speakers, mostly ACLU lawyers, covering a wide range of topics—from free speech to institutionalized racism. These speakers were able to take complicated and controversial issues, educate us on their impacts on our everyday lives and put into perspective their relevance.
One speaker in particular who moved me was Lee Rowland, a senior staff attorney who specializes in free speech, privacy and technology. She spoke to us about the importance of free speech, and while I knew that the First Amendment was a key factor in our democracy, Rowland emphasized how essential it really is.
Without free speech, parties on either side of the political spectrum would be unable to voice their opinions. As frustrating as it might be to hear an opposing argument to your side, without First Amendment protections, none would have a platform to spout any views, whether hateful or inspirational. Sometimes, when arguing in support of a position, it can be easy to dismiss an opponent’s thoughts and voice, but in order to change minds we need to be patient and be able to peacefully converse with those different from us. And while there are topics, like white supremacy and racism, where there is no room for compromise or negotiation, it is crucial to realize which battles to fight, and be able to respectfully and civilly discuss these issues.
The most influential speaker at the ACLU Summer Advocacy Institute had to be whistle blower Edward Snowden. Snowden, a former technology contractor for the National Security Agency, exposed classified files that offered evidence of the government invading civilians’ right to privacy by reading and listening to phone calls and texts while ostensibly looking for signs of terrorism. Snowden currently is taking refuge in Russia, unable to return to the U.S. for fear of criminal prosecution due to this, his speech was done via video chat. Between taking curious questions about his living status and recounting his internal struggles and repercussions of his actions, Snowden offered insights into ongoing issues over cyber security. However, he made it very clear that he was not to be looked at as a hero. He said that he had just been doing what was right. He emphasized the importance of speaking out against our government when we see injustice and not reacting in silence and cooperation. We must take advantage of our democratic rights and use them to speak up when we feel that our government is not doing what is needed to protect the American people under the guidelines of the Constitution.
Before going to the ACLU camp, I was nervous about meeting those from all different walks of life and in different phases in their journey of activism. In such a rural and old-school town, I was confident in my views and wasn’t afraid to speak out, but going to a camp where hundreds of other students felt the same way—and might be able to express this more articulately and with more experience—made me question myself. While I definitely consider myself an advocate for social, racial and economic equality, I hadn’t made a huge impact in my community like other teenagers, and I was insecure in my abilities to represent my school and my ideals in such a new environment. But after the first few days, I found myself feeding off the energy and confidence of my peers, making me speak up more in discussions and not second-guessing whether what I had to say was “politically correct” or clashed with another student’s views. I had a newfound assurance of myself and found that hearing other students’ situations in their hometowns gave me a better understanding of other communities. This validates where I am on my journey, and even though I haven’t made the strides that Malala Yousafzai or Gavin Grimm have, that doesn’t make my fight and passion any less important.
That week was the most influential and inspiring week of my life; attending this camp put into perspective how passionate I am about making a change in current social justice issues. The amazing speakers and students made me realize how much a group of 500 students can touch different corners of the world and truly make a difference in each community, resulting in a monumental difference. Throughout history, the youth have been those at the forefront of change, making their voices heard and not backing down from the resistance of older generations. So, my advice to my peers is don’t be afraid to stir things up and create a little confrontation; go to protests, talk to your representatives, educate those in the dark, and speak out against hatred and bigotry.

We, the people, are responsible for our own fate, and without the help and support of one another, nothing will change. Remember: Dissent is patriotic.

~erica gudino, editor-in-chief

Tolerance offers hope for a divided world

The past five years have seemed riddled with disaster: civil war and violence in the Middle East has generated a worldwide refugee crisis; disease emergencies have wreaked havoc in areas of the world that were already suffering; mass shootings and terrorism have plagued the world.

Instead of coming together to find solutions to the growing list of problems, we’ve let ourselves become divided. Instead of civilly sharing opinions and beliefs, we talk loudly over the person next to us, vying for more support, as if doing that will prove us right. We shut down anyone with different perspectives or ideas — if we even choose to listen or associate ourselves with them in the first place. In the midst of this war of words, its no wonder we’ve failed to resolve issues. However, there is a way to improve the world around us.

From Jan. 6-8, I attended the Civitan Leaders in Freedom Conference where I participated in seminars on leadership, economics, religious freedom, and politics. I met people with nationalities, backgrounds, beliefs, and concerns that were different from my own. While I was there, I gained a deeper understanding and new perspectives on world issues and on my role in finding solutions to those problems. The most important lesson I learned, though, was the importance of being open to new ideas and tolerant of different beliefs and opinions.

At the conference, Derius Swinton of the Soar Group, a leadership development and training company, led a discussion on the traits that effective leaders should and shouldn’t have; one of the most important traits we discussed was open-mindedness. Being open-minded doesn’t mean that you abandon your beliefs and opinions and adopt those of others, and it doesn’t mean that your views are unimportant. Being open-minded only requires that one listens to and considers different ideas. Learning about another person’s experiences or hearing new ideas allows solutions to problems to be found. It also helps us become more empathetic toward others and appreciative of our differences. Oftentimes, listening to different opinion allows a person to better support her own, through understanding others’ concerns and finding ways to address them. Instead of assuming someone’s character based on which presidential candidate he supported, or his position on abortion, ask him why he feels the way he does, with sincere intent to learn. Chances are, you’ll learn something new that will deepen your understanding of the topic and the person.

Along with open-mindedness comes tolerance—the willingness to accept and honor opinions and beliefs that differ from one’s own. Tina Ramirez, founder and president of Hardwired, an organization that advocates religious freedom worldwide, spoke at the conference, detailing ISIS’s genocidal attacks on the Yazidi in Iraq, and the experiences of thousands of girls who were abducted and sexually exploited. More than 5,000 Yazidis have been massacred since 2014 because of their religion. This seminar made me realize that, if tolerance had been practiced, those lives could have been saved, and thousands of girls could have been protected from unspeakable horror. Tolerance could have saved more than six million Jews in Europe, one million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, one million Tutsis in Rwanda, and millions of others who were murdered simply because of their religion or ethnicity.

Everyone, regardless of religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, or background, deserves to be respected, and everyone has the responsibility to offer that respect to others. We don’t have to agree with someone’s beliefs, lifestyle, or choices, and we shouldn’t expect people to agree with ours. But tolerance isn’t about agreement; it’s about mutual respect and the recognition that we can’t force someone to think a certain way. It’s about the realization that everybody has the right to make his or her own decisions. Tolerance is a two-way street; if we refuse to respect different perspectives, how can we expect others to respect ours?

In a few years, this generation will be leading the world and solving its problems. We can choose to continue the current trends of closed-mindedness and intolerance that propel crises and create more obstacles, or we can choose to change our approach and work together to effect change. We need to be willing to listen to and consider new ideas and respect people for who they are. By doing so, we’ll be better able to compromise and make decisions that will benefit everyone, not just a select few. When we change our attitude, we’ll change the world.

~katie johnston, features director

Editorial: Holiday season cries out for generosity

In the midst of the holidays, with constant reminders to express appreciation and give thanks, it’s appropriate to think of those who are less fortunate than we are. 2016 has had no shortage of oppression, injustice, and harsh treatment of minorities, both at home and halfway across the world, so to combat this, we encourage you to have compassion and be aware of other people’s struggles. There are always things that can be done to help whether it’s lending a hand at a local soup kitchen or donating money to Doctors Without Borders. You can make a difference.

If the presents you get for Christmas this year leave you unsatisfied, thinking about civilians under siege in Aleppo may help you regain perspective. For the past five years, Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, has been caught in the cross hairs of a brutal civil war, with the rebels fighting for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad. Russia has now allied with Assad and is conducting airstrikes on hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods full of civilians trapped within the city by a blockade imposed by the Syrian government in early July. Of the 250,000 civilians in the rebel-held part of the city, approximately 100,000 are children, according to the New York Times. With food and medical supplies running low, children have become the most frequent and heart-breaking victims of the bombings.

Although the conditions in Aleppo are horrible, the world community should not give up hope or stop caring. One day, when the blockade is lifted, civilians will need medical attention, food, and other supplies, and there are ways to help now to ensure those supplies will be available. UNICEF USA, a humanitarian organization, has been giving aid to the Syrians and Syrian refugees since the beginning of the crisis, and it is dedicated to delivering much needed supplies and giving the children a better future. Along with other humanitarian organizations, including Doctors without Borders whose members risk their lives providing medical attention to the wounded, UNICEF welcomes donations to provide resources for the wounded and the citizens that are left in the city.

So while you’re writing your wish list, remember the thousands of people who are just hoping to find a hot meal or clean clothes under their tree this holiday. By giving back to those in need, you’re making an impact in someone’s life, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Keep in mind that the spirit of the holidays revolve around being grateful for what you have, and recognizing that others aren’t so lucky; take the step and start your 2017 with compassion and generosity.