Dear reader, the NFL is third-wheeling Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s love story

Taylor Swift’s recent appearances at Chiefs games brought many new fans to the sport, and the NFL is cashing in.

Taylor Swift was seen for the first time at a Kansas City Chiefs game on Sept. 24. By then, the rumours had been confirmed: she was there to see her new boyfriend, Travis Kelce, in action. The Chiefs’ superstar tight end scored a touchdown for the occasion. From then ensued a series of events which nobody could have predicted a few weeks before. The Swifties and football fans, who at first look have nothing in common, are now both watching Chiefs games.

Taylor Swift and the NFL in numbers

The pop star attended the Oct. 1 Sunday Night Football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets. This game shattered multiple TV ratings records. On average, 27 million Americans watched the game, with a peak audience of 29.4 million people, according to NBC. This average viewership made the game the most-watched Sunday TV show since the Super Bowl in February.

Her mere presence at the game increased the game’s female viewership by over two million compared to the previous three Sunday Night Football games. This increase was most significant among girls aged 12 to 17, at an estimated 53 per cent. The viewership was up by 24 per cent for women aged 18–24 and 34 per cent for women aged 35 and over.

The gold rush

Taylor Swift is far more popular than the NFL worldwide. For those who are skeptical, Taylor Swift has more followers than the NFL’s official pages on every major social media platform. The most blatant example is on Instagram, where the singer has 275 million followers, while the NFL has 28.6 million, as of Oct. 27.

In this context, it was clear from the start who would get the most publicity by being associated with each other. Therefore, the NFL’s marketing department was immediately ready for it and jumped on the opportunity to showcase their game to a new audience. The league regularly posts about Taylor Swift’s presence at games on their social media accounts and has even made it a game highlight on their official website.

Being one of the most famous artists on the planet, Taylor Swift naturally has a significant and very dedicated fanbase. So when she started loving Travis Kelce, the Swifties did as well. That is evident when looking at jersey sales. In September, the Chiefs’ number 87 jersey was the fifth most popular in the NFL. Its sales also increased by approximately 400 per cent in the first 24 hours after the Chiefs versus Bears game on Sept. 24. 

Taylor Swift brings the NFL more social media impressions, higher TV ratings, and increases in jersey sales. Knowing this, the league certainly hopes that no bad blood erupts between the two lovers, or else Travis Kelce may become an anti-hero in the Swifties’ eyes. Indeed, they will forever and always stay on their idol’s side. If it were to happen, it would be a treacherous situation for the NFL, as it would leave a blank space in their strategy to appeal to a new audience.


Reality TV: The Illusion of Real

Where does the “real” stop and the “fake” begin?

Reality TV is a defining facet of our era. Its emergence coincided with the beginning of television itself, and since has branched out into an innumerable amount of subgenres.

From game shows to survival shows, competition shows, dating shows, and many different variations on some sort of American family drama, each gives us a glimpse into the lives of different people. But how real are these perceived “glimpses?”

Not only are many popular reality shows scripted, directed, and heavily edited, these shows are carefully constructed to mimic a standard fictional narrative. Each episode has an overarching problem, a build-up, a climax, and a resolution.

The people that are portrayed fit into character roles that have been around since the beginning of storytelling: protagonists, antagonists, love interests, etc.

I began to question how much of the stories are fabricated.

Each show is clearly packaged in a way that makes them easy to watch, through the use of common story tropes and themes that the viewer can recognize.

This is fair enough, since most of us enjoy consuming media that does not require much critical thought or drastic change to our emotions. We watch it simply because it’s comforting.

Although we can accept that reality TV is a large part of our culture and used as a source of comfort for many people, it is important to acknowledge that reality TV is not a true representation of our reality.

Take reality TV show “Floribama Shore,” for example. A spin off of MTV’s classic “Jersey Shore,” the show features eight adults who live together in a house on the Gulf Coast. I’ve only watched the show in passing, but everything about it is ironically bad (especially the name), so much so that it reads as a parody of the original. But it’s not, and it checks all the required boxes of a reality show, and has a solid viewership.

Cast members Jeremiah Buoni and Gus Smyrnios play the roles of protagonist and antagonist respectively, with their rivalry extending through all four seasons. Smyrnios plays the black sheep of the crew, Buoni is the “hero,” who doesn’t shy away from confronting Smyrnios on his wrongdoings.  Cast member Nilsa Prowant fills the role of the sweet and pretty one, and Aimee Hall is the loud and outspoken one (you get the gist). The cast is branded as a family that, despite their differences, always make up.

We watch this in relation to our own lives, classifying the characters as their tropes and their actions on camera, and nothing more. But these are real people, and this is not how reality works, and using this as a source of comfort can be troubling to our perception of life.

Like the original, “Floribama Shore” has its fair share of drama, scandals, fights, secrets, and sex.

In fact, reality shows can only exist on the premise of ubiquitous problems. Shows like “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and “Real Housewives” thrive off interfamilial disagreements and tumultuous friendships. Viewers would be generally uninterested in a reality show that had no conflict — so why is it that we love watching all these disagreements and in-fighting?

It can be said in this case that media must imitate real life to be of any interest to us, which is the exact purpose reality TV serves.  It capitalizes on the portrayal of our own insecurities and problems, and we consume it because it makes us comfortable with our imperfect lives.

Seeing someone make a fool out of themselves, or say something so tone deaf you choke a little just makes us… feel better.

The issue with reality TV, then, is that we perceive these people as real, as that is how they are portrayed. The stars are simultaneously characters and real people, but what we see of them is entirely constructed. By watching these shows, we accept that these people are just like us, because the lines between real and fake are completely blurred.

Although their problems might reflect on our own, the events are dramatized for the screen and therefore not a true representation of our realities. It is harmful to idolize these people for being real as they are simply an illusion of what is real.


Collage by James Fay


CBC’s “The Porter” will zone in on the lives and successes of Little Burgundy’s Black train porters

The show’s co-creators and members of the cast discuss the process of filming during COVID-19, what they hope viewers will take away from this show, and more

“The Porter,” a new CBC drama set to air on Feb. 21, will focus on the lives of the Black train porters, nurses, entertainers, and other individuals who occupied Montreal’s St. Antoine neighbourhood (now known as Little Burgundy) during the 1920s. These porters would often assist travellers at the train stations, were in charge of loading and unloading luggage, and more. The show will especially zone in on how these Black train porters came to form North America’s largest Black labour union. The Concordian spoke with co-creators Arnold Pinnock (who also plays the character Glenford), Marsha Greene, Annmarie Morais, as well as actress Oluniké Adeliyi, who plays the character Queenie, about this new drama. 

TC: Can you begin by walking me through the process of bringing together this incredible show?

AP: So I’m an immigrant, my parents are from Jamaica via England to Canada, and one of the things that I loved to do was just to find out as much information as I could to learn about […] Black Canadians. I was having a hard time in school learning about [them], other than some samples of The Underground Railroad. So any book that I could find I would start reading [to learn] about the Black Canadian experience. One of the common denominators that kept on showing up for me was porters. I found it really interesting because I found out that these men and women were from not only the Southern states, but also from the Caribbean, and that they came to this country and literally had the ability to change policy. It blew my mind that these people were able to form the biggest Black union, not just in Canada, but across North America. That just really empowered me to go down that road and then eventually, I hooked up with my writing partner, Bruce Ramsay, and we went down this rabbit hole together.

One of the things that we encountered was the Negro Community Centre (NCC) in Little Burgundy. It was boarded up and there were murals of Oscar Peterson, Oliver Jones, and Oscar Peterson’s sister. When we learned what the NCC was all about … taking care of the Black community [starting in 1927] and to help against the racism that the community was dealing with, we thought, “Hey, you know what? If we could create a series, maybe we could garnish enough money to help restore this building.” Unfortunately, three years later the building was demolished. Instead of us feeling like the passion behind it was over, it actually empowered us and we went on the journey to get this show done.

TC: What challenges, if any, did you encounter along the way? 

MG: During the course of filming there were the challenges of filming during COVID and things like that. We would remind each other about the porters, the communities, and the families, and how they fought through what they were going through. It was the thing that kept us going during those hard times. We knew that this story needed to be told and that really kept us going through all of the hard times over the years it took to bring it to life.

OA: I think, for me, the biggest challenge was making my character Queenie as human as possible so that she wasn’t this one-dimensional, gangster character, and that there was a purpose for her being who she is. It was an enjoyable experience no matter what happened. I would say my other biggest challenge was learning to play piano. It was wonderful to be able to challenge myself to learn the songs that I had to play. It was beautiful. When I started to get things, I was like, “There’s nothing I can’t do now.” There are beautiful challenges, and then there are terrible challenges. This was definitely a beautiful challenge. 

TC: Club Stardust occupies an important space in this narrative. Can you briefly walk me through how this environment was brought to life, and could you also elaborate a bit on the role that music and dance play in the show?

MG: I think music and dance are so much a part of how we connect to each other and what brings us together. I think we all felt, in the Black community, there was a sound and a rhythm that kind of felt like ours and what we wanted to explore. When we got to the post-production and editing, we started to just bring in more music. Sometimes it was contemporary […] and then we also kind of wanted to have Afro sounds and Caribbean sounds, just to kind of bring it all together. We actually filmed the Stardust stuff at the end of the shoot. We did that just in terms of the location, but it actually was this amazing burst of energy at the end of this very long, challenging shoot. To be in Stardust with all these people and to watch those dance numbers and hear the music was just incredible. 

AM: We were inspired by a club that was rooted in Montreal that was called Rockhead’s Paradise. I think there was a lot of spirit in that establishment in Montreal that we wanted to harness and create in our own way. I think that was really part of the magic of Stardust and this series. 

TC: What are you ultimately hoping that viewers take away from this show?

MG: One of our great hopes, in terms of the history, is that it would inspire people to look things up. To watch an episode and to be like “Did that happen, was it really like that?” 

I hope that the audience also takes away that no two Black people are anomalous. We are multidimensional people and we all have similar yet different lives. It’s wonderful to be able to watch because it’s relatable to any other race or culture. We have regular lives, we have families. Not every story for us is a struggle story. I’m so happy that “The Porter” displays that because it brings meaning to our lives. It allows you to see the value of us. Most of the time you can only see the value of something when it’s in you, so yes, we represent the Black community, but we also represent so many communities that have the same experience family-wise and love-wise. I think that’s what we’re promoting more than anything: to just see us.

For more information on “The Porter,” please visit CBC’s website.


Visual courtesy of CBC 

What’s the Consensus: Does Friends deserve the hype?

We’re all familiar with the show, but are we all on the same page about it?

Reader, I sense that this one is going to be more divisive than usual, but the question needed to be asked: how do we feel about Friends? One of the most popular television shows of all time, it has also received its fair share of criticism, and I want to know where we stand with it.

In its 10 seasons, Friends was nominated for over 60 Primetime Emmy Awards, suggesting that it was beloved by television viewers at that time, and, it would seem that love carried on: Friends: The Reunion, which aired in May of 2020, was watched by an estimated 29 per cent of U.S. streaming households on the first day of release.

Friends ran from 1994 to 2004, giving it a following of millennial viewers who probably made up a large part of that reunion audience. Nostalgia is a hell of a drug, after all. The thing is, a lot of good TV shows have been made since 2004. If we’re talking about sitcoms that can be compared to Friends, there are solid (and similarly beloved) shows like The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother.

And, 30-minute comedies continued to evolve beyond that style of humour — single set sitcoms — even at the same time as Friends was airing: The Office, Arrested Development, 30 Rock, and Modern Family are all excellent comedies that have also stood the test of time.

When Friends was put on Netflix in 2015, it gained two things: a whole new generation of (younger) fans, and a whole lot of people left wondering, why did I ever like this show? Many felt that, through their older and more *refined* comedy lenses, the show just fell short of their memories — and was actually pretty problematic.

So, Concordians, whether you’re a first-year fresh out of CEGEP, or a mature student like myself who feels ancient in your classrooms, I want to know how you feel about Friends.

What’s the Consensus?

Click here to cast your vote:

The results from each poll will be published in the following edition of this column.

Last time, we asked readers if they think that smoking cigarettes is still cool. The results: 17% said yes and 83% said no.


Feature graphic by James Fay

Netflix’s dating shows have a sex problem

The streaming service’s roster promises raunchiness but delivers an antiquated scolding

Since the start of the pandemic, Netflix has been pumping out reality shows left and right. Once the place to go for high-concept prestige TV, with early titles like “The Crown” and “House of Cards.” In recent years, Netflix has cast a wider net, venturing into the murky world of dating shows. This move makes sense, as while in lockdown, many yearned to be able to go out and meet new people, with casual dating being risky at best. So, what could be better than absorbing the sexy, flirty, and even awkward experiences of strangers, right from the comfort of your couch?

Unfortunately, Netflix’s quarantine roster did not deliver on the fun raunch viewers have come to expect from reality dating shows. Instead, it doled out a heavy hand of sex-negativity and falsehoods on basic human attraction.

This trend is no more obvious than in the streaming service’s breakout hit “Too Hot to Handle.” In this show, so-called “sex-crazed singles” are lured to an island vacation on the false promise of all-night parties and uninhibited hookups. However, in what can only be described as a horror movie-esque twist, they soon realize that they are actually going to be judged on their ability to remain celibate, while under the pressure of a cash prize that decreases with every sexual indiscretion. The show’s Amazon Alexa-style robot judge posits this test as a way to force the contestants to foster “real” romantic connections with each other, rather than focusing on sex.

What results is a show with a perfectly serviceable amount of relationship drama, where the contestants learn to be “better people” through activities like wellness workshops, and break a few rules along the way. But, despite the moderate fun, always in the background is an impossible-to-ignore puritanical view that casual sex is somehow incompatible with a happy and fulfilling life.

“Too Hot to Handle” is not Netflix’s only show peddling this ideology. Both the recent “Sexy Beasts” and the early-quarantine smash hit “Love Is Blind” fall prey to similarly regressive views. In “Love Is Blind,” singles meet each other through an opaque wall, with only their conversations to connect them. The aim of the show is to foster relationships not built on physical attraction.

Similarly, in “Sexy Beasts” the romantic hopefuls can’t see each other. However, in this show, that is because the contestants are decked out in ridiculous animal and monster prosthetics for their dates. This renders them unrecognizable, and rather ugly. Both of these shows argue that when dating, physicality is the least important indicator of compatibility, and in fact, we should ignore it all together.

The issue is, this isn’t exactly true. For the vast majority of people, physical attraction is, if not very important, at least an influential factor in determining compatibility. While yes, there can be a point in which someone becomes vain or overly obsessed with looks in their partners, as humans, we generally experience sexual attraction as a fundamental fact of life.

With that, pairing couples up with either no clue what each other looks like or no experience with each others’ physical touch could lead to some awkward encounters later down the road when they realize they just aren’t compatible in that way.

But that shouldn’t be punished, right? Simply not being physically or sexually attracted to someone isn’t a moral lapse. All these shows try to convince viewers that the sheer desire to be with someone you find attractive is a non-sequitur to romance and we should try to learn to date differently.

While I think most of us would agree with the cliché that inner beauty is what really matters, and that there are some real issues with contemporary hookup culture, it’s impossible to take physicality out of the equation for the vast majority of people. It begs the question why Netflix’s shows need to demonize this fact of life.

Furthermore, on both “Sexy Beasts” and “Love is Blind,” once faces are revealed (spoiler alert), all the contestants turn out to be wildly conventionally attractive. So, if all the options were thin, young, clear-skinned, seemingly able-bodied people anyway, what sort of message is this even conveying? What are the stakes here?

These shows seem to have to convince the viewer that the show has a reason for existing. Rather than relying on the fact that many of us simply want to watch a bunch of hot dummies create drama with each other like we have for two decades on Bravo and E!, Netflix needs to convince itself these new dating shows are all “social experiments” made to uncover some hidden dirty truths about modern romance. Thus, no, a show where singles dress up in animal prosthetics to go on dinner dates can’t just exist for fun. It must now spoon-feed viewers a moral on the importance of inner beauty. This leads to a series of shows with convoluted rules and uninteresting storylines.  There’s obviously space in the culture for thought-provoking stories on love and relationships, but come on, can’t Netflix just throw us a bone for once?


Photo collage by Kit Mergaert


Are we out of original ideas?

Discussing the issues with reboots or remakes in the entertainment industry

Whenever I’m watching an entertainment news show such as Entertainment Tonight, or listening to podcasts like The Ralph Report, I am constantly hearing about the latest remake or reboot of a show or movie. Most of the time, I end up rolling my eyes because I am kind of sick of it. From the reboot of “Saved by The Bell” to the who-knows-what iteration and reimagining of Batman, there is always something. While yes, I understand and agree that nearly every story has been told and what matters is how the story is told, I find myself thinking about why there is this huge craze to bring back old shows and movies, or to just remake them entirely.

My first thought about this is that film executives are just lazy and don’t want to put as much work into telling stories. It seems like there is no real attempt anymore to try to make something original.

After some thought, I asked myself if it’s easier to reboot or remake a piece of media or if it’s more challenging because there is a directly comparable source. I think that it depends on if it’s being marketed as a reboot or a remake. If a franchise is being rebooted, then there is the potential for things to be a little more challenging because the story has to continue, or because it may only feature some of the original cast.

Whereas with a remake, it seems like there is less need to take artistic liberties because the base is there and only certain things are being changed.

Take the 2013 remake of the 1976 horror film Carrie with Chloë Grace Moretz. Not much differed from the original except for the lack of nudity, as Moretz was only 16 at the time, and the use of cell phones. Did the movie need to be remade? In my opinion, no. The Sissy Spacek version of the movie was really impactful, and remaking it without many changes just felt like it was a waste of time.

There have been times where I have been interested in the reboot or the remake of a show that I grew up watching and was left quite disappointed. For example, the Disney Channel show “Raven’s Home,” which airs on the network as well as on Disney+, was taking “That’s So Raven” and making it new. I loved “That’s So Raven” growing up, and when I watched “Raven’s Home,” I was left feeling bored. The jokes weren’t as funny, and there wasn’t the same energy present that “That’s So Raven” had. I was hoping to feel a sense of nostalgia, but instead I was left feeling let down because it didn’t have the same elements that made the original series fun and entertaining. “That’s So Raven” was so original, funny and quite wacky with the plot, and “Raven’s Home” just toned it down way too much to be enjoyable.

There have been instances where I have been incredibly annoyed with the thought of something being remade. For example, recently it was announced that the movie Face/Off was getting remade, and I was angry to hear this. I thought that the original film was this perfect mess because of how unrealistic the premise was and just how much overacting both Nicholas Cage and John Travolta did. So, trying to remake it seems like a waste of time. I don’t see any purpose other than money as a valid reason to remake this movie.

Nostalgia could be a motivation for this reboot and remake craze. In current times, I can understand the want to escape from our reality and try and bring back things that brought joy in the past. However, at the same time, I think that trying to shove forced nostalgia in everyone’s face removes the natural feeling of being nostalgic. Also, if the movie or show is made new, does it still hold the same importance or feeling as the original? I would argue that no, it loses what made it special in the first place.

I can also see how this trend of reboots is a cash grab, honestly. A lot of the time, certain shows and movies that did well in the past or had a decent following are seen as easy money. If a story is familiar, then it might draw a larger crowd than a story that is entirely new.

I think that if there wasn’t such a push for all this rehashing then it might be less annoying. A lot of major studios, with the right amount of funds and new technology, can take many more creative liberties than before, yet they keep reaching into the past to make things again. It frustrates me because there are many stories that could be told, and many ideas that are not being pursued because something that was popular twenty years ago needs another shot in 2021. Nearly every time I hear about a new movie announcement, it’s always some movie or show that was made before. I just want to hear about something that is original, that hasn’t been done before.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam


I’m just a female dirtbag, baby

Ever since first watching the 2000 film High Fidelity in high school, I found myself relating to the record store-owning protagonist Rob, played by John Cusack. Rob was a moody, unlucky in love music snob, too in touch with his emotions and stuck in the past— embarrassingly relatable. 

So, when I heard that High Fidelity was getting a TV remake, starring the iconic Zoë Kravitz as a gender-swapped Rob (now short for Robyn), I was instantly excited. My issues with the film had always been my cognitive dissonance between relating to Cusack’s Rob, but struggling with his toxic “but I’m a nice guy” demeanour—something I found inherently masculine and obnoxious.

Yet, High Fidelity (both the film and the new Hulu show) is shown through Rob’s eyes, as the character often breaks the fourth wall to talk to the camera directly. So when Rob is played by the dreamy Cusack, with his puppy dog eyes, you can’t help but be pulled into his guise, no matter how much of a dirtbag he is.

Watching the Hulu adaptation made me wonder why I felt the need to relate to Rob. I realized that while there has been no shortage of “cool girls” on screen, their range was always limited. The cool girl is never the main character. She’s often a foil placed in opposition to the stereotypical uptight, prissy, feminine character due to her chillness (think the iconic Gone Girl monologue).

In Hulu’s “High Fidelity,” Rob is undoubtedly cool—Kravitz just seems to bring that to everything she does. Yet, no matter how hip she appears on the outside, Rob is still a complex character with as much agency as any male protagonist. Like Cusack before her, Kravitz takes on the role of an utter dirtbag.

The female dirtbag may be a useful subversion of the cool girl archetype. BBC’s “Fleabag” made a huge splash in 2016 arguably due to its realistically messy, horny and self-involved main character, depicted by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She’s well-dressed and creative, but deeply flawed in her relationships and unabashedly gross. Similar to “High Fidelity,” Waller-Bridge often faces the camera to engage the audience in her outer monologue. Sure she’s cool, but she’s in control of her own story.

There’s a misconception that for a female character to be “strong,” they have to be exceptionally smart, confident and capable. But, how many among us can truly relate to Captain Marvel or Buffy Summers? Not even mentioning these characters’ overwhelming whiteness and thinness. This outdated focus on strength should be replaced by an imperative for truth and realism.

One trend within this new wave of female dirtbag representation is that most of these narratives are helmed by women. The aforementioned 2020 “High Fidelity,” “Fleabag”—and we can’t forget the pinnacle of female grossness—”Broad City” were all created by women.

When women are allowed to shape their own stories, they’re bound to represent a more truthful depiction of the female experience—warts and all. 


Graphic by @sundaeghost


A trashy student reviewing a trashy show

Reality television is trash

That being said, there is a huge market for it, and it usually reflects what the people want.

The beloved “Bachelor’s” market profits off viewers watching attractive people “fall in love.” Although this show has remained popular, it’s clearly not checking all the boxes.

Netflix has jumped on the idea that unlike what we see on “The Bachelor,” people want authentic, less superficial love. That’s tricky for reality television, but alas they have tried to take it on, in the new reality T.V. show “Love is Blind.”

“Love is Blind” is a show where contestants talk to eligible bachelors and bachelorettes through opaque pods, in hopes to find their true love without actually seeing them. For the sake of this article, we are going to skip over the fact that every contestant is extremely attractive, every woman is wearing a full face of makeup despite not being seen and we are mostly only exposed to heterosexual desires because if we unpack that, I will get a migraine. A grain of salt … we are taking this with a grain of salt.

Before I continue, I would just like to admit that I am not a huge fan of reality television. I never understood the point of “Jersey Shore” or “Keeping Up with The Kardashians” (and, I feel like I may have just lost some readers). So, that being said, I am definitely not here to review the show. There are many more qualified pop culture experts who would do a better job than me. I do, however, want to look at why a show like this exists, and why dating in 2020 is always framed as a nightmare.

Is it really necessary for us to delete our Tinder apps and head to Atlanta, Georgia to find true love through an opaque wall? Is this really where we’re at, team?

The other day I asked my grandfather why he married my grandmother. He told me that she was smart, pretty and nice. They dated, and he thought, wow—smart, pretty and nice, let’s get married. My grandmother, of course, can tell you the exact shoes my grandfather was wearing on their first date, and how the hand-me-down button-up white shirt he had on was just a smidge too small. She just knew he was the right guy. A simpler time, right?

When I think about dating in the past, I always feel like it was easier. Wasn’t it just flowers, phone calls and drive-in movies? No texting, getting ghosted, emojis and definitely no swiping. What a dream.

Except that’s not necessarily fair. As society evolves and changes, so do relationships.

Dating apps get a bad rep, and I can tell you from experience they can be quite draining and discouraging. This being said, the world of online dating is complex. I mean listen, guys, some of my best friends are on the apps. Do you know how damn lucky you would be to swipe on them?

I think to completely write off online dating as a concept is quite difficult. Instead of hating on the apps completely, like the hosts on “Love is Blind” (even though it’s good marketing), we might benefit from a more productive conversation surrounding this dating strategy.

There’s something that smells pretentious to me when people say they would rather meet organically and not on the apps.

I mean, of course, it would be nice to have a smart guy come up to you on the metro, ask you about the feminist literature you were reading, take you out for coffee and spend it talking about how he has 2 sisters and loves his mom. But, as we ask our Google Homes to tell us the weather, and we shove two white plastic headphones that don’t even have a string in our ears, isn’t this just, like, the future? Isn’t finding someone on an app not that crazy, considering everything else we do using technology?

I know I’m oversimplifying the dark world of online dating, but I really just want to talk about the stigma. It’s okay to be vulnerable and try the apps, delete them 16 times and then redownload them—I think it is just part of our 2020 story.

There’s also space for you to disagree with me. I’m not even sure if I agree with me, it really depends on the week. Love isn’t one thing. It’s wonderful, devastating, exhausting and may very well include a little swiping.

Dating is hard at the end of the day, and “love being blind” is just a cheesy song lyric. 


Graphic by Sasha Axenova


Innate Islamophobia is Everywhere

The portrayal of Islam in movies and on TV is, to say the least, tricky.

Spanish hit-series Élite was the first time I saw Muslims on western TV that weren’t al Qaeda or some terrorist trying to bomb a train. At first, it was a breath of fresh air to see the character of Nadia as just another student. Until she goes into the principal’s office and they tell her that in order for her to stay enrolled in the school, she had to remove her hijab. (Remind you of anything… kinda rhymes with Pill Quincy One?).

The new season also showed Nadia without her hijab, and with a new makeover meant to impress her crush. A lot of people were outraged by that, and rightfully so. One, it does imply that she’s not beautiful enough with her hijab to be impressive, and two, there is an underlying theme of oppression and suppression connected with the hijab. It’s as if the headscarf is a metaphor for the ‘tyranny’ that is Islam. As if to say, “take the scarf off, you’re removing the metaphorical veil of oppression and, voila! You’re free.”

Let me ask you something, do you remember Billie Eilish’s campaign with Calvin Klein, where she said the reason she wears baggy clothes is so no one can tell what’s under, and thus not objectify her? My god, people just wouldn’t stop praising her for this amazing and wonderful stance that inspired millions of women! It was seen as a fight against the patriarchy.

Well, you’re all a bunch of hypocrites and are absolutely incapable of moving past built-in bias. No, seriously, people don’t have the ability to emotionally and mentally transcend Islamophobic bias set by years of unfair portrayal, and see it for what it actually is. The point of the Hijab is humility, and exactly what Eilish said. The problem didn’t start, nor will it end, with Nadia in Élite. The problem is you. It’s all of us, really.

Look inside you, people. Have you ever caught yourself looking pitifully at a woman in a niqab? That’s problematic. Looking at headscarves at the same level we do a woman or child with bruises over their bodies is fundamentally wrong, and although your intentions might be good, your lack of understanding that it is most likely a choice hurts more than helps.

Yes, in places like Saudi Arabia and Iran, women are forced to cover up. And yes, I’m against that, but that’s a cultural thing and not a religious one. The Quran gives general intrusctions, and the Hadith, the sayings and actions of the prophet Muhammad, gives details. It’s important to remember that what was written then doesn’t need to have the same interpretation today. Most muslim women choose to wear the hijab. Most muslim women want to cover up. I know at least three women who put the hijab on at a young age, and then decided to remove it. MY MOTHER REMOVED HER HIJAB AT ONE POINT. Granted, she put it on at 11-years-old and removed it about a month later, but the point remains that it is a choice; it’s a worldly representation of your Faith.

The word Islam literally means surrender, and letting go of worldly vanities is a step into surrender; like monks living in Kathmandu, or Sufis wandering and letting go of physical possessions. It’s meant to be a physical representation of what your priorities are: my appearance doesn’t matter as much as my intentions; ‘I will cover the outside so you can get to know me on the inside first.’

Some Middle Eastern cultures have let an innate patriarchy warrant a rather patriarchal interpretation of Islam. There’s an entire conversation that should happen about Islam being “anti-feminist,” because this is truthfully an atrocious lie.

There is a difference between religion and culture disguised under religious pretenses. The way Nadia was portrayed in Élite is just an example of how the media doesn’t distinguish between these two things. It’s time we learn to differentiate, and realize that what TV teaches you isn’t always what’s real – unrealistic beauty standards? Unrealistic portrayal of the hijab. It goes both ways.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Binge watching: We want all of TV now!

Imagine watching an entire series in just a couple of days. Impossible? Not anymore. With the popularity of Netflix and other free television streaming websites, people have the opportunity to skip the waiting time between episodes — and the commercials.

Photo from Flickr.

Back in the early days of TV, you had to be glued to your set on a specific day at a specific time to catch the newest episodes of your favorite show. And if you missed it, you were out of luck. Unfortunately, not all of us have time to be stuck to our TVs. But nowadays, that’s no excuse, the Internet is filled with video streaming websites with basically every TV show or movie you’d want to watch (and plenty that you wouldn’t). With PVRs, you can record multiple shows at a time, and spend an idle weekend catching up on everything you’ve missed.

Don’t have a PVR? Too lazy to Google where to watch your favorite show? Well then you can turn to Netflix. For those of you living under a rock for the last few years, Netflix is a video streaming service available online through any device connected with WiFi and requiring a small fee for unlimited access to movies and TV shows. Now you can choose your show, sit back and watch as many episodes as are available to you.

In 2012, The New York Times published a story about how How I Met Your Mother’s seventh season had the best ratings the series had ever seen. Coincidentally, the earlier seasons of the series had just become available for instant streaming on Netflix. The show hadn’t necessarily gotten better, the people who were too busy to watch it before could suddenly catch up and tune in.

The popularity of the company has even allowed it to expand its market from movies and TV shows, to producing their own original content. Shows like Orange Is The New Black and House of Cards are both Netflix originals that have gained immense popularity. After being cancelled in 2006, Arrested Development was revived for a fourth season exclusively on Netflix due to the huge demand from fans and both House of Cards and Arrested Development garnered multiple Emmy nominations this year.

Is this the way of the future, or are we just getting lazy? Either way, this just goes to show that in today’s fast-paced world, people will find ways to make anything more efficient. We get busy, and we want to watch our shows whenever we have the time. If that means having to squeeze one whole season into one day, then that’s what we’ll do. Who knows, maybe one day TV schedules will be a thing of the past and our beloved shows will be available to us whenever it’s convenient. All we know is that we want our shows and we want them now, and we’d prefer a whole season in one sitting.


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