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  • “I’m Tired” of the Jules Slander

    By Idy Barry Jules is not a villain, she’s a teenage girl. Spoilers ahead for Euphoria Season 2. Jules Vaughn in season 2 of Euphoria. (Eddy Chen/Instagram). When season one of HBO’s Euphoria initially aired, I didn’t feel much of a connection to any character. It wasn’t until two bridge episodes were released between Season 1 and 2 that I had a deeper understanding of the show and its characters. The episode that resonated with me the most was “Fuck Anyone Who’s Not a Sea Blob,” featuring Jules Vaughn, played by Hunter Schafer. The release of this special episode allowed the audience to see Jules from her own perspective, rather than from Rue, as narrator. A deeper dive into Jules’ motivations, specifically her need for validation and relationship with her addict mother, made it hard for me not to empathize with her character. In the wake of Season 2’s finale, I can say I’m surprised at the direction Jules’ character went, but even more at the general reception of Jules online. Scrolling through TikTok the day after an episode was released, I couldn’t believe the amount of negativity towards her. She seems to always be a target for criticism, even for how she cheered for Lexi in the finale. While criticisms are warranted, it’s important to note that Euphoria is a nuanced portrayal of deeply flawed teenagers in an even more flawed society. Of the main cast, few are inherently bad people — Jules included. P.O.V. One of the most toxic elements of #Rules (Rue + Jules) is Rue’s dependency on Jules in terms of her sobriety. In Jules’ special episode, she expresses how this responsibility affects her negatively when she says: “I’d just, I’d feel, like, this weight. Like, this massive weight on my shoulders, and I’d think, like…Like, what if she relapses, you know? Like what if she relapses ‘cause I’m not there?” This pressure, to essentially be responsible for a life (at a point in which she is still coming into her own), is immense for a teenager. In their first interaction in Season 2, Rue tells Jules she relapsed right after Jules left town in the Season 1 finale, confirming her fears. Having a loved one who is also an addict can be extremely difficult, especially at a young age. You don’t want to hurt them or make them feel unsafe; however, it can also be your burden to help them recover. This is especially significant with Rue and Jules, considering they met right after Rue left rehab. "Hunter Schafer and Zendaya (who plays Rue Bennett) behind the scenes of "Fuck Anyone Who's Not a Sea Blob." (Letterboxd). We follow Rue, as narrator, throughout the series, which frequently results in biased representations of events and characters. From the moment Rue meets Jules, she sees her as perfect and puts her on a pedestal. We, as an audience, rarely see Jules’ struggles and point of view because Rue can’t see that side of her. It's a lot easier to find flaws within a character who the narrator constantly describes as “perfect.” I also find that, regardless of Rue’s behaviour, the audience takes her side because they identify more closely with her point of view as the main character. So, when Rue is mad at Jules, everyone else is as well. SEASON TWO While many people found reasons to dislike Jules in Season 1, Season 2 seemed to add even more fuel to the already burning flame. I remember fighting for my life on Twitter and TikTok, defending her each Sunday night after an episode aired. When I look at the characters in Euphoria, I try not to view them from a binary point of view. They all make decisions for their own reasons (whether they are explicitly stated or not). Yet, this isn’t always a true justification. For example, I think Cal Jacobs’ backstory, as shown in Season 2, does not justify any of his past and current actions on the show. Yes, even him leaving his family. In terms of Jules, the most frustrating actions of hers this season was her relationship with Elliot, and telling Rue’s mom that Rue was not sober and using drugs. To be frank, Elliot’s existence on the show irks me. I didn’t find him very likeable after the first episode, and his commentary on Jules’ sexuality was strange. However, he did expose the cracks in Rue and Jules’ relationship that were bound to be revealed in due time. Jules and Elliot (Dominic Fike) in Euphoria S2E03. After she meets Elliot, Rue is using more than ever before, especially after she gets a suitcase of drugs from drug lord Laurie. Rue feels like she’s on top of the world with a girlfriend and unlimited drugs, so she begins to neglect Jules. Even when they are together, Rue is too preoccupied by her high to be satisfied (both sexually and mentally) by Jules. In Jules’ special episode (and throughout Season 1 in general), it’s obvious that she seeks affection through male validation. She says herself: “I just, like, I look at myself, and I’m like, how the fuck did I spend my entire life building this. Like…Like, my body, and my personality, and, like, my soul around what I think men desire? It’s just, like…it’s embarrassing. I feel like a…a fraud.” Enter, Elliot. Jules is in a relationship in which she feels unwanted and disconnected, and Elliot offers her what Rue doesn’t. I am in no way condoning cheating and infidelity. I do think it’s important to consider how Jules could have made such a decision. When it comes to the situation of Jules “snitching” on Rue to her mom, I was surprised at the amount of backlash towards Jules. I mean, people were even saying that she deserved to be yelled at by Rue as harshly as she had. Whether it was wrong of Jules to do is not up for debate — as Rue said, it saved her life. If Jules went straight to Rue, Rue wouldn’t have listened. She needed a full-blown intervention. When Rue yells at Jules and preys on her insecurities, all Jules can say is “I love you.” This made some fans more annoyed with her. How could Jules love Rue if she betrayed her? Jules had no responsibility to tell Rue’s mom, but she simply didn’t want Rue to die. She has seen the dangers of addiction through her mother, so it makes sense for her to do what she can to stop it from also happening to Rue. This scene in particular isn’t about hurting someone’s feelings out of spite or maintaining a relationship. Sometimes hard decisions have to be made in order to save a life. A lot of the discourse about the scene is over-reactive because many of the show’s viewers prioritize the dramatics of the show and its relationships. CONCLUSION Again, Jules is a teenager navigating life in modern society. A lot of us can relate to that — figuring out who the hell we are, what we want and need, etc. Jules has done nothing worse than what other Euphoria characters have done. I will say that I am always partial to Jules Vaughn, simply due to her special episode. I find many aspects of her character relatable, and I empathize with her situation. That episode in particular was co-written by Hunter Schafer. She said in an interview with Lorde for The A24 Podcast that many aspects of Jules are derived from Hunter’s experience coming of age as a trans girl. While this story is fictional, I can’t help but remind myself that these situations (drug addictions, abuse, etc.) happen. Which is why I try to stay empathetic towards these characters because, like real people, they make mistakes. Hunter Schafer as Jules (Jacob Elordi/Instagram).

  • Breaking down the love triangle in Taylor Swift’s Folklore

    By Mariana Schuetze The first time I heard Taylor Swift’s folklore, it sounded like a movie in my head. While listening, I caught on to a couple of different stories, or maybe one big storyline that connects everything. I think that's what Swift wanted — she’s said that while writing these songs, she started telling other people's stories and not just her own. Those are the ones that interested me. Swift keeps surprising us with her storytelling abilities. Less than six months after she released folklore, she came out with a whole new album: evermore. Swift called it "folklore's sister record." When I first saw the news, I was so excited for new songs and stories and hopeful for a continuation of some of the stories told in folklore, but I don't think that's there. Still, the album is filled with the same storytelling and imagery that transports listeners into a whole new world. Swift said that she, too, got lost within the stories of folklore, which is why she kept writing more songs. "In making it, I felt less like I was departing and more like I was returning. I loved the escapism I found in these imaginary/not imaginary tales,” she said in an Instagram post. Just like Swift, I'm still not over the stories from folklore, so let's unpack one of them. I, along with many other listeners, became intrigued by the love triangle story Swift created in folklore. From listening to the storylines of the songs and reading many theories online, I developed my own interpretation of the narrative. While listening to the songs betty, august and cardigan, I created my own versions of these love triangle characters that are mentioned in the songs: Betty, James and an unnamed girl, who Swift later called Augustine. This story is about two young girls who get lost in their respective relationships with the same boy. Both Betty and Augustine (at different points in time) were in relationships with James, a boy who didn’t communicate well and ultimately didn’t respect them. It’s a story that resonates with me as a young woman still learning how to navigate relationships. The songs tell the stories of the real heartbreak felt when young and in love, but more than that, they tell stories of growing stronger and smarter after dealing with heartbreak. So, let’s look at how folklore’s love triangle deals with the inevitable experiences of heartbreak in young womanhood. The love triangle starts with high school sweethearts James and Betty. On their prom night, James sees Betty dancing with another guy, which makes him mad and jealous and results in him leaving prom early. The song betty is from James' perspective, and in it, he tells us what went through his mind when he decided to leave prom. "Your favourite song was playing from the far side of the gym. I was nowhere to be found, I hate the crowds, you know that. Plus, I saw you dance with him." - betty When James saw Betty dancing with someone else, he felt betrayed. As he heads home, a girl from school shows up in her car and offers him a ride. He goes with her and before he knows it, he’s spending the whole summer with her at her beach house. He feels justified in doing that because in his mind, Betty cheated on him by dancing with another boy. Although they never actually talked about it, he assumed that things were over between them, and basically ghosted Betty for the summer. This is when his relationship with the other girl, Augustine, begins. Even though James felt sad seeing Betty dance with someone else, dancing with another person is not necessarily cheating; especially if they had never even spoken about what constitutes cheating in their relationship. Betty does not belong to James, and he shouldn’t try to control who she spends her time with. Regardless of how hurt he felt, Betty’s actions did not validate his affair. Maybe Betty could have spoken to James about what dancing with someone else in that setting meant to both of them, but she was not wrong in this situation. Clearly, open communication was an element in their relationship that was holding them back. If there is someone wrong here, it's James. His immaturity pushed him to end their relationship because of a possible misunderstanding, and this was rightfully hurtful to Betty. While knowingly ghosting Betty, James has an amazing summer with Augustine. Despite time with this new girl, James keeps thinking about Betty. Why did he ghost her? Does he truly love Augustine, or is the escape from reality that she provides what drives their brief relationship? When summer ends, Augustine asks James, "Will you call when you're back at school?" He says he will, knowing very well that he won't. James’ total disregard for the emotions of Augustine, based on his want for Betty, is indicative of his disregard for the effects that his selfishness has on the people who care for him. He treats Augustine with the same neglect and lack of compassion that he treats Betty with when he abandons her over the summer. Does he see women as toys to toss through as he struggles to understand what he wants? How can he love someone and yet not have the respect to be honest when it comes to the terms of their relationship, ultimately leaving them hanging in the balance? A couple of weeks later, when Augustine realizes that James wasn't going to call her, she calls him and asks if they can talk. They meet behind the mall, and that's when James breaks her heart by telling her that what they had was just a "summer thing," and that he was going back to Betty, his true love. For Augustine, the emotions she felt were real and she doesn’t need James’ admittance to know the truth in her experiences. Still, she feels like her entire world has been taken from her. She had been thinking of James and loving him for so long now that it was all she had at that time. James becomes a villain, not only through his lack of compassion and self-awareness, but also through his attempt to gaslight Augustine into believing there was nothing between them. The summer he had with Augustine was important to her, and I think he knew that. To say that it meant nothing to him was cruel and manipulative. James’ lack of maturity does not excuse his inability to understand the effects of his actions. He owed Augustine the respect of acknowledging their relationship and validating her confusion at his sudden denial, just as he owed Betty an apology for his inability to confront her about his own insecurities in their relationship. "But I can see us lost in the memory. August slipped away, into a moment in time, cause it was never mine." - august Sometimes you need to feel the hurt and heartbreak to get over a relationship. This is what Augustine did and what so many of us young women do too. Swift herself has so many songs about heartbreak. These songs help us process what happened and how we feel about it. But after her experience with James, I think Augustine realized that she didn't need to rely on a partner to feel the happiness she had felt that summer. In the song betty, we hear James' perspective of going to Betty's house to ask for forgiveness: "But if I just showed up at your party, would you have me? Would you want me? Would you tell me to go straight to hell? Or lead me to the garden?" - betty Betty forgives him. At this moment in time, she thinks that he loves her and that his apology is genuine. She takes him back because she thought they were meant to be together. Weren't they? "I knew you, tried to change the ending, Peter losing Wendy. I knew you" - cardigan Over time, she realized they shouldn’t have gotten back together. Betty had found a way to forgive James, but she couldn't trust him anymore. Getting back together with him ultimately reminded her of the pain he caused her. After the break-up, Betty moves on with her life. But she never forgets what her relationship with James taught her about what real love looks like. Neither does Augustine. That summer and the months after it changed both women’s lives. They fell in love and experienced a heartbreak that would lead to a stronger sense of self in every relationship beyond James. Losing James was never the end of their worlds. They still had their whole lives to experience. "And when I felt like I was an old cardigan, under someone's bed. You put me on and said I was your favorite." - cardigan In the end, all of them were hurt from this situation, but they also had fun and felt love. So, was it worth it? I don't know. I've never been in love, but from what I hear in these songs, it seems great. So maybe it was worth it. I just hope James learned to treat people with more kindness and respect. These stories made me sad for Betty and Augustine. They were so young and got wrapped up in a relationship that hurt them a lot, even if they were able to grow from it. Betty and Augustine became stronger and more self-aware from their experiences with James. I’d like to imagine that somewhere along the way, the pain he caused them planted the seed for a beautiful friendship bound in trust between Betty and Augustine. They both learned that, sometimes, a good friendship can be better than any love relationship, especially in your teenage years. I also think that they kept in touch as they grew up, and from that "love triangle" came a great friendship of women who would learn to support each other. I love what Swift did with this album by creating an open narrative, where the listener can come up with their own versions of the story. It's almost meditative to imagine these characters. Along with Swift being a natural songwriter, she is also an incredible storyteller. As a storyteller myself, I feel really inspired by her work. In folklore, Swift creates complex, nuanced storylines about characters who are all flawed in their own ways. In her use of imagery, she connects her songs together with hidden symbols. This gives listeners a deeper connection with the songs and adds a unique touch that her fans really appreciate. It feels very personal, as if she's our friend telling us these stories. When I listen to folklore, I feel like I'm entering the universe where these stories actually happened. I even feel like I know these characters and share their emotions. It's magical. "You know the greatest films of all time were never made." - the 1

  • “Unique” - Currently Dormant in the Herd

    By: Subhanghi Anandarajah Longing for everyone around to trace my current, like a shooting star. For the most part, my passionate self stands by the quirky grains that fill me. But when the herd arrives, I know I’ll have them scattered. I wish I was more solid than the well beaming in my front yard, Except, my rigid anxiety conceals me underneath. Even now, I strive for “unique.” But flourishing outside the herd petrifies my current. Global incidents are aired without a gap: The groundwork that advances — I probe that longer than the orbit of an accompanying star. Members beckon for the path we’ll draw up. But if I don’t sound off for the right stance, I panic that ostracism will direct me through a friendless route. I’ve unearthed my quirky grains as dormant— They need replenishment but the herd is arriving. Shooting stars ride by my current. But I will ultimately stride as “unique."

  • And just like that, it’s over

    By: Negin Khodayari I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was wearing a white ruffled t-shirt and baggy blue jeans. My hair was in short pigtails and I spent the whole day fidgeting with them worried people would think I looked like a kid. The air was hot as I nervously shuffled my way through the subway station during rush hour. Of course, I didn’t catch a seat and spent the next 45 minutes pressed between a crowd of sweaty bodies jammed together, breathing on each other as I tried to silence the pounding of my heartbeat in my ears — it’s hard to think I miss it. I was on my way to first-year orientation. August 2018 — might as well be forever ago. In the blink of an eye, I went from a nervous freshman to a nervous 22-year-old about to graduate. I feel like nothing has changed, but if I look closely, everything has. Courtesy of @jschoolnow on instagram It’s hard to look back on the past four years fondly. When I think about my undergraduate experience, it’s tainted by nostalgia and heartbreak, as if I’m grieving the version of myself I dreamt of becoming before the world felt like it was going to end. Something you should know about be, I tend to be a bit dramatic. I spent most of first-year trying to find a place where I felt like myself on campus, but it was hard to get over the culture shock of going from seeing the same people everyday for 12 years; to being in spaces where no one even knew my name. Luckily, I had my best friend by my side as we tried to make the kind of memories we’d want to tell our children — and boy did we try. Making friends on campus when you have a two hour commute to school isn't easy. It felt like if you didn’t live in the dorms, you might as well be a stranger — everyone had already made their cliques and I was just late to the game. Though I wasn’t completely alone in my program, we made a little group of commuter journalism students pretty early on who helped each other through our six hour labs on Wednesdays. I was lucky to find them when I did, I’d hate to think of how much more stressful navigating this new program would’ve been without people who were going through the same thing. Second year was off to a much better start — unlike how it ended. Cliques seemed less intimidating and everyone was more inviting and open with each other. Our projects relied on teamwork and everyone was working to build each other up. But the biggest change for me was when I finally found a place on campus that made me feel like I belonged: at my new job. I applied for an on-campus job on a whim and out of frustration with my position as a sales associate at a luggage store (of all places). I never thought they’d accept me, as I didn’t have the experience, but I guess I did have the charm because here I am three years later still working there. Three years. If you told me three years ago as I was walking into my interview that that day would determine what would end up becoming my biggest university experience, I don’t know if I’d believe you. I wouldn't believe all the people I got the chance to meet and all the characters I got to learn from. I wouldn't believe all the projects I was a part of and the trust people would have in me — the trust I would have in me. When the world went into lockdown, my work never stopped. It kept me going and kept me busy. I don’t want to think about how much harder the first year of the pandemic would've been if I didn't have this constant in my life. Nothing else in my life, or the world, was the same anymore, but at least I still had tasks to complete and a meeting to attend every Tuesday. I've been working non-stop for three years. I’ve met so many milestones and accomplished things I always hoped I would before graduating, but none of it feels real. None of it feels enough. I’ve maintained a high GPA, worked, gotten a dream internship. I’m an editor, I’m a writer, I’m published, but none of it feels tangible — when you fulfill all your dreams virtually, you might as well still be dreaming. I’ve gained everything by the click of a few buttons while sitting in my bedroom for two years. I wanted more. I wanted more chances to reinvent myself before every introduction. I wanted more chances to meet new people and make new friends. I wanted more chances to feel good, and bad, about myself. I wanted to grow a little more every time I left my house. I wanted to have more classes in the movie theatre. I wanted to have classes in our TV studio and play with our equipment. I wanted to be on camera, not on a Zoom call. I wanted to show off my cute outfits and let everyone hear my laugh. I wanted to make people laugh. I wanted more. Four years went by in the blink of an eye but I think I detached myself from school two years ago. I’ve been living in limbo since then. I’m numb to the fact that it’s all going to be over in a few weeks. It’s like I don’t even care, but that can’t be true. I care about everything, sometimes too much — it’s my biggest character trait. Well, I guess it’s already been over for a while, but now it’s just official. I don’t want to be numb. I want to be able to look back on these years and see all that I accomplished. I want to look back and see the three years I worked at a job I loved. I want to see the first year and a half when my best friend and I tried to take the city by storm. I don’t want to be sad, but I don’t know how not to be. I don’t know how to start processing this. I don’t know how to really realize that it’s ending. It’s ending. It’s ending. Maybe if I repeat it enough times, it’ll start to mean something to me.

  • Introspection

    By: Julia Sacco overthinking or underthinking? Unsplash/@bady From a young age, I was always hyper-aware of the way that I acted and thus how I was perceived. While other kids were playing soccer at recess, I hid in the bathroom, a hurricane of thoughts hindering my ability to step outside. As I got older, things shifted. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety and panic disorder while in eating disorder treatment at fifteen. Since then, slowly but surely, I have been coming to terms with the fact that while I may be “wise beyond my years,” as my therapist liked to put it, my vision of myself and the world around me had been warped by insecurity and fear. This skewed sense of personhood trickled into relationships throughout my young life. I went through friendships like candy in elementary school, dropping friends after the slightest inconvenience under the guise that they no longer liked me or were bored of me. As I grew up, I later connected this to having a victim complex, always finding myself to be the bearer of pain. While it prevented me from easily cutting ties and helped save friendships, this victim complex narrative then began to hurt me more than anyone else. Fights that began with me voicing my qualms would end with me profusely apologizing, always citing myself as the villain and why things go awry. If anyone did something to upset me, I would simply come to the conclusion that my standards were absurdly high and that I am always the thing that must be fixed. I cite social media as a link to this problem. Constantly seeing text posts listing “10 toxic behavioural traits” and identifying with more than a few, or being force-fed strangers dirty relationship laundry and questioning if their means to an end can be linked to behaviours I encapsulate. Every day is more confusing to navigate. Am I mad because someone actually did something to hurt me? Or am I overreacting and using my feelings to manipulate admissions of guilt from my loved ones? The past few months have been a blur of attempted self-diagnoses, self-induced panic attacks and exhaustion, effectively leaving me with the wish that I could just be like everyone else, that I could live in a world outside of my head and act freely without second-guessing my every move. In some ways, I am thankful for the mind I was given. I have a rich inner world, a strong introspectiveness and a rather profound understanding of self. I just hope that one day I will be at peace with it.

  • Movies you need to watch based on your zodiac sign

    By: Samreen Maqsood Let’s admit it. The hardest part of watching a movie is deciding what movie to watch. You want to relax, take a break by settling in and hopping on Netflix. Instead, you aimlessly scroll through 75 per cent of featured movies, frustrated, and still can't decide what to watch. That’s why we put together a list of inspiring movies to watch based on your zodiac sign. Sit back, relax and find the perfect movie for you! 1. Capricorns and "The Pursuit of Happyness" Retrieved from: Medium Starting off the guide with one of the most responsible and mature signs, those of you who are Capricorns tend to be very ambitious, hard-working and serious. However, you tend to be very insecure and look down upon yourself if you don’t achieve your goals. The feelings of failure are often something you blame yourself for, which results in having a low self image. That’s why The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) is the best movie for you. Will Smith portrays successful business owner Chris Gardner as the movie follows along the struggles of his life and all he did to achieve where he is now. While there are many points in his life where he is about to lose it all, Gardner does not give up and keeps persevering until he succeeds. 2. Sagittarius and "Little Miss Sunshine" Retrieved from: IMDb If your zodiac sign is Sagittarius, you are known to be compassionate, loyal and smart. Easily attracting friends and lovers, you have an open mind and a straightforward personality. However, your honesty and overconfidence in your abilities can land you in deep trouble. That’s why Little Miss Sunshine (2006) is the movie for you. While the movie brings out your impulsive wild side, it also shows balance between dark and light, advice you can learn from. 3. Aquarius and "Coco" Retrieved from: IMDb This sign is humanitarian, free-spirited and creative. You fight for causes, have an intellectual perspective on life and generally want to make the world a better place. However, your biggest fear is losing your individuality and freedom. You love living life on your own terms and fear that one day you will have to compromise what you believe in. That’s why Coco (2017) needs to be on your must-watch list. This film follows a young boy and portrays the journey of facing pressure from others. The main message is to follow what your heart desires, push boundaries and rebel in order to achieve your dreams. 4. Pisces and "Eat Pray Love" Retrieved from: IMDb As a Pisces, you are known to be creative, considerate and romantic. You are one of the most emotionally aware and sensitive signs, going to great lengths to make sure the people around you are happy. However, because of that, you believe you are not worthy of the same love and happiness you give to others. Your biggest insecurities are low self-esteem and doubt, scared that you will never find someone who loves you. That’s why Eat Pray Love (2010) is the recommended movie for you. This movie follows a woman who’s unhappy in her marriage and chooses to go “find herself”. Rather than trying so hard to please and love others, you should aim to give yourself the same type of love. 5. Aries and "Brad’s Status" Retrieved from Wikipedia Those of you who are Aries are known for your courage, confidence and honesty. Passionate and driven, you always have many projects in mind, diving head first into challenges. You pride yourself in being the best at what you do, which is why you refuse to ask others for help. Additionally, the moment someone is better than you is the moment your envious side comes out. That’s why we recommend you watch Brad’s Status (2017). It may seem like Brad Sloan has it all; satisfying career, wife and a son, a comfortable, normal life. Despite this, he keeps comparing himself to his famous college friends, thinking how he could be in the same position. Aries, while you may be confident in what you achieved, someone else who seems to have it all can be the one thing that sets you off. 6. Taurus and "Travellers and Magicians" Retrieved from: Rotten Tomatoes If your zodiac sign is Taurus, you are known to be sensual, intelligent and dependable. As an earth sign, you are more calm, cool and collected. You enjoy a routine and stability, committed to your own comfort. Due to this, your biggest insecurity is instability. Security is one of the most important things for your sign, so when you don’t know what to expect in the future, you worry about the changes headed your way. Worrying too much about what’s going to happen stops you from living in the moment. That’s why you need to watch Travellers and Magicians (2004) immediately. It illustrates the unhappiness that comes from within our own minds and stops us from living in the present. 7. Gemini and "Inception" Retrieved from: IMDb Geminis, you are known to be intelligent, outgoing and curious people. You are constantly trying to juggle your passions, friends and careers. You love being the centre of attention, which is why when you’re not included in the loop, you fear being forgotten about. You can also be a bit superficial, caring too much about what others around you think. As a result, you change your behaviour based on who you’re talking to and often get mislabelled as “two-faced.” Look no further, as Inception (2010) has everything that will keep you interested throughout the entire movie. As one of the most misunderstood signs, this movie follows a crazy dream-builder as he plans to plant a thought into a corporate CEO. 8. Cancer and "Forrest Gump" Retrieved from: IMDb As a Cancer, you are known to be intuitive, sensitive and a homebody. You are very in touch with your emotions and care deeply about those closest to you. However, since you are a homebody, you don’t respond well to change, being more drawn to stability and a routine. You also tend to be too in touch with your emotions, taking everything too personally, feeling insecure and needing other people for validation. That’s why Forrest Gump (1994) is one of the recommended movies for you. Many of the lessons in this movie, such as don’t be afraid to try new things, don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t let anyone tell you they’re better than you are some things you can really learn from. 9. Leo and "Dumplin’" Retrieved from: MovieBabble Leos, you are known to be dramatic, creative and bold. You love to lead, talk and are the ultimate showman, having a bold sense of charisma and theatrical flair. However, that can also be the reason for one of your biggest insecurities: being forgotten. As you have quite a fragile ego, you need all eyes on you and being forgotten or ignored can be quite bruising towards you. Dumplin’ (2018) hits all those personality traits. Following a mother-daughter’s beauty pageant, the movie shows how the daughter overcomes fatphobia, low self-esteem and body acceptance issues by being a high-spirited Leo. 10. Virgo and "The Perfection" Retrieved from: IMDb If you are a Virgo, you are known to be humble, practical and loyal. You are thoughtful and grounded empaths. However, you are also known to be perfectionists, planning everything to your control. This leads to one of your biggest insecurities: not being able to live up to your own expectations and obsessed with trying to perfect everything. The Perfection (2018) follows the journey of a once-elite cellist and a new star student down a sinister path. This movie highlights issues of trauma, mental health and revenge. 11. Libra and "I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore" Retrieved from: Wikipedia If you are social, non-confrontational and diplomatic, you are definitely a Libra. You can fit in anytime, anywhere, with anyone and generally like to avoid conflicts. However, one of your biggest insecurities is caring way too much about what people think. You try too hard to be in people’s good books, earning their approval and constantly worrying about making good impressions on others, which can often lead you to let other people treat you like doormats. I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore (2017) sounds like the perfect movie for Libras. Following a depressed woman who sets out to punish the people who robbed her place, this movie seeks to tell the message of what happens when people who keep quiet and suffer through things until they finally snap. 12. Scorpio and "Double Jeopardy" Retrieved from: Rotten Tomatoes If your zodiac sign is Scorpio, you are known to be passionate, loyal and emotional. Determined, when you set your mind and heart to something, you don’t hold back. You are secretive with an air of mystery around you. This makes sense, as your biggest fear is being betrayed by someone close to you, scared that they will judge, humiliate or expose you. That’s why Double Jeopardy (1999) is the movie meant for Scorpios. Following a woman who was framed for her husband’s murder and suspects he faked his death and blamed it on her, this movie depicts the feelings of a Sçorpio and how they feel after being betrayed by those closest to them.

  • Quiet beauty; In curly hair, colouring aesthetics and coloniality

    By: Sama Nemat Allah (Art by Yasmeen Nematalla) I remember thinking the straightener fit so perfectly in my hand because it was meant to be there. But then again, that thought might have reverberated loudly because I was stuck so resolutely in my it’s-a-sign-from-God era. Some of the characteristics of this epoch include but are not limited to: a fervent inclination to view any and all events; sentiments and actions as sacred decrees from a higher being; mistaking compliments for promise rings; writing despondent eulogies when the frog in my throat overstays its welcome; believing the people who insisted I resembled Penelope from the Odyssey when my hair was straight. Years later, in an arbitrary English class, my professor will offer us Penelope’s name as a quintessential example of the “White Goddess” archetype. Imagine that. I had a dream once where I existed in a vacuum. And when I woke up, I looked vastly different. I am often plagued by thoughts of the time I’ve wasted thinking about how I am perceived. Quantifying that number seems too arduous a task and I imagine I’d be too unhappy with myself once I unearthed the result. Before last year, if you had asked my life’s accomplices to describe me, they’d invariably paint you pictures of pin-straight hair and smooth locks devoid of frizz. I’ve been alive for almost two decades and I’ve spent the predominance of that time picking up straighteners and holding my breath as I set my hair aflame. It’s fine. I’d whisper to myself, often soundlessly, with box-springs in my throat. It’s worth the damage if I am able to carry on being beautiful quietly. And as I write this, I’ve decided to coin the phrase quiet beauty. It refers to the abstraction we chase when we knowingly do irreversible damage to our bodies under cruel commandments of a system that promises the privileges of eurocentricity if we comply, quietly. I remember feeling compounding sentiments of nausea and lethargy when the decision to stop straightening my hair cemented within me. A lockdown that would preclude me from seeing anyone indefinitely – save my sisters, who, God bless them, approach my ever-changing extrinsic features with reverence – sounded like an ideal time for experimentation. Until recently, I had only a slim recollection of what I looked like with my curly, kinky, Egyptian hair. It was a distant memory that I was more than happy to forget. My curly hair was big and loud and messy and so hard to manage. I realize now that maybe those characteristics are just my unobservable features personified. I realize now that this is partly why I worked so hard to burn them off. As my curls began to take on a form that was foreign to me (but I’m sure gratifyingly familiar to them), I felt indifferent. After all, my straight hair hid me so well and I would miss its mediocrity, until, on an odd day, I looked in the mirror and couldn’t help but cry. I felt a visceral feeling of belonging to a culture that no one ever associated me with. And this wasn’t an unexpected or sudden realization, but it was a realization nonetheless; I’ve spent my entire life chasing, echoing and recreating the features of a white-supremacist standard of beauty. I mean, haven’t we all? I internalized a ubiquitous notion that dictated that I would only be worth space, love and conversation if I emulated whiteness. Whiteness has historically been the default for all that is good, pure and correct so how could I not be tempted to indulge in the privilege myself? And listen, the act of straightening one’s hair is not inherently racist. But for me, it was an act of assimilation; of following a cultural script of erasure. With every perm, every cosmetic and superfluous hair treatment, with every decaying root and putrefying end, I sanded down the string which tied me to my North African ancestry. The anti-Black racism entrenched in all of this will not go unnoticed. Black people’s hair historically and contemporarily receives deep-seated and systemic discrimination, endemic to the relationship between their Black identity and Eurocentric schemas of beauty. The policing of Black hair and Black hair textures is an extension of colonial endeavours to eradicate African culture, history and heritage and supplement it with a hegemonic iteration of being. But whiteness’ attempt to stifle the Black identity has been met with a beautifully radical resistance: a natural hair movement wherein hair emerges as a retaliatory agent against enduring impacts of colonial and aesthetical systems of power. Of course, I blame colonialism and white supremacy and racism. But I also blame myself for benefitting from and perpetuating a system that marginalizes and continues to extinguish the lives of Black, Indigenous, racialized, disabled, queer and fat folks. This isn’t about hair. It’s never been about just one thing. It’s about a million little things, and a million bigger things and a system that fails us so egregiously because it promised to do so in its original blueprint. I think we’ve spent too long making ourselves, and our voices and our hair smaller. I’m really ready to take up space. I’m also really ready to make space. I’ve realized recently that in making space for my community, for my marginalized neighbours, I make space for a world devoid of coloniality and the ways it teaches us to be small and silent so it can be the biggest body in the room. I had a dream once where I existed in a vacuum. When I woke up I looked vastly different. In that dream, I was beautiful loudly.

  • Will Taylor Swift Change Her Old Misogynistic Lyrics?

    And — perhaps more importantly — should she? By: Stephanie Davoli Taylor Swift performing “Better Than Revenge” on the 2011-2012 Speak Now World Tour. Photo retrieved from Taylor Swift Evolution on Youtube.com. We’ve all said and done things we wish we could take back but, as hard as we try, we just can't. The same undoubtedly goes for Taylor Swift, whose critics and fans have been asking her to address her past misogynistic lyrics for over 10 years. While Taylor can’t completely erase her past mistakes, she has the opportunity to make some changes when she re-records Speak Now, her third studio album, which was originally released in 2010. Due to a bad business deal made with Big Machine Records when she was just 15, Taylor is currently in the process of re-recording her past albums to ensure that she’ll eventually be the sole owner of all her music. As a huge Swiftie, I’m so happy that she has been able to stand up to these powerful men and take back what's hers in such a graceful way. However, since it’s been known that Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) is coming, there's been some controversy over some of the album’s lyrics. “Better Than Revenge,” an angry, vengeance-fueled song directed at a past lover’s new girlfriend (the “past lover” in question was allegedly Joe Jonas, and the “new girlfriend” was apparently Joe’s now-ex, Camilla Belle), has particularly come under fire. With lyrics like, “She’s not a saint, and she’s not what you think. She’s an actress,” and “She’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress,” I can see why so many people want Taylor to make changes when she gets back in the recording booth. But is it really necessary? Wait… What’s Feminism? Before I go any further, I’d like to state that, yes — I am a feminist! And I’m not saying that as a defence for what I’m about to argue because, as we all know, self-proclaimed feminists can also be very sexist. I also recognize that my opinions are likely influenced by some amount of internalized misogyny that, as hard as I try, I can’t entirely rid myself of (more on that later). As I was writing this, I was thinking of saying something along the lines of “and I know that feminism means something different to everyone…” but actually, no, it doesn’t (and shouldn’t). Everyone’s individual journeys with feminism may differ, but feminism is simply support for the equality of the sexes in every conceivable, achievable way. While it seems like a pretty simple thing to get behind, countless suffragette movements and years of fighting have proved that it is incredibly more nuanced than one may initially think. Do I believe that we’ll see complete equality in our lifetimes? No, and the mere fact that I’m writing this piece proves that — but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive for equality anyways. Through her years of activism, it’s clear that Taylor is also a feminist. Taylor has not only spoken up for gender equality but she’s also taken legal action against misogyny. She’s repeatedly shown that her personal journey with understanding feminism has dramatically developed as she’s gotten older, despite her younger self’s mistakes. But really, who could blame her for this? Society has used incredibly sexist labels to define her since she was in her late teens. If I’d been slut shamed by the whole world for simply dating a few guys throughout my 20s — which is a perfectly normal thing to do — I would have a complicated history with internalized misogyny, too. It’s also worth noting that Taylor has significantly distanced herself from “Better Than Revenge.” In a 2014 interview with The Guardian, Taylor acknowledged that the piece was mean-spirited and harmful, while explaining that she was only 18 when she wrote it and simply didn’t know any better. She hasn’t performed the song in years, either. This, to me, shows that she recognizes its destructive lyrics and is maybe even ashamed of her past self for writing them. I hope that she doesn’t actually feel that way, though, because I don’t think the song’s harsh sexist tone was entirely her fault. Taylor Swift performing “Better Than Revenge” on the 2011-2012 Speak Now World Tour. Photo retrieved from Pinterest. “Taylor was a victim of a misogynistic culture — one which showed women that their value was intrinsically linked to the men they were romantically involved with.” Is the song flawed? Yes, absolutely. Do the lyrics include slut-shamey things you should probably never say to anyone? Yeah. But was it also a product of its time? 1000% yes. What started as an angry post-breakup revenge song has turned into a time capsule of what life was like for many women in the 2000s. Taylor was a victim of a misogynistic culture — one which showed women that their value was intrinsically linked to the men they were romantically involved with. An element of this still exists today, and looking at how the media treated countless female celebrities during that time shows just how bad it was. While many criticize “Better Than Revenge” for being unfairly sexist towards the new girlfriend, the song’s history proves that Taylor wrote it to call out her ex, as well. “Better Than Revenge” is actually a rebuttal to a Jonas Brothers song that addressed Taylor and Joe’s breakup, which also emphasized how much Joe was better off without her. Off of the Jonas Brothers’ 2008 album, Lines, Vines and Trying Times, their song “Much Better” begins with Joe singing, “I get a rep for breaking hearts, now I’m done with superstars. All the tears on her guitar. I’m not bitter.” This was a direct reference to Taylor, alluding to her 2007 song “Teardrops On My Guitar.” Taylor acknowledged “Much Better” in “Better Than Revenge” with lines such as, “Let's hear the applause. C'mon show me how much better you are,'' and “'Cause you're so much better.” Gaining the context of these lines is essential to understanding the entire message behind the song, which shows that Taylor meant for it to hold Joe accountable, as well. However, an 18-year-old Taylor did spend a significant amount of the song addressing the new girlfriend. While she certainly used cruel language that she would never use today, it’s understandable why she said those lines. If Taylor leveled so much of her self-worth with her boyfriend, it's no wonder that she felt such strong negative emotions against the woman that “stole” him from her. Like countless other women to this day, she was conditioned by society to pit herself against other women for male validation. While this doesn't excuse slut shaming, it's an explanation for why she presented her feelings in such a passionate way, especially as a teenager. The slut shaming and judgemental culture of the late 2000s presented itself in some of Taylor’s other songs. In fact, “You Belong With Me,” which, in my opinion, gives off even worse “pick me” vibes than “Better Than Revenge,” was one of her biggest hits despite it being a song where Taylor is putting down another woman for the attention of a man. The song’s music video further represents this idea. In the video, Taylor plays both the “good girl” who’s crushing on a guy and his “bad girlfriend.” As the “good girl,” Taylor consistently puts the “bad girl” down. She mocks her for being a cheerleader, wearing “short skirts” while she wears “t-shirts,” and uses her position as the “good girl” to display a convoluted sense of moral superiority over the “bad girl.” I’m confident that the Taylor of today would never release a music video with this messaging, but it’s another example of how, at the time, pitting two women against each other for the attention of a man was completely normalized and accepted. When Taylor re-released “You Belong With Me” last year, she made no significant lyrical changes to the sexist lyrics. It’s also worth mentioning that “Better Than Revenge,” unlike “You Belong With Me,” wasn’t an album single and likely won’t be released as one when the re-recorded album comes out. As such, it’s mainly Taylor’s biggest fans that know the song, and, more often than not, they’ve come to see its hurtful nature as they’ve grown up, too. It’d be a different story if the song were being marketed to a new, younger audience, but it likely won’t. I bring up these past, not-so-great moments not to shame or discredit Taylor, but to hold her accountable. It’s also why I don’t think it's necessary to change the lyrics in its new recording. Erasing these past mistakes and attempting to play them off like they never happened would be counterproductive. If Taylor edited the song to have a different meaning, she likely would have to change a significant amount of lyrics, almost to the point where it would be a new song. This wouldn’t make sense since the purpose of her re-recording her old music is so that she’ll own versions of her work that are as close to the originals as possible. If she dramatically changes the song, I fear that many fans would simply listen to the original, which does Taylor a disservice as Big Machine Records continues to make money off the original version. The Double Standard My next reason why Taylor shouldn’t feel forced to change the lyrics is simple — men never face this issue. When so much of the music released by male artists today is still deeply rooted in sexism, and they aren’t condemned for their wrongdoings nearly as often as female artists are, I don’t see why we should be pressuring Taylor. There are countless examples of this, but one that stands out the most is “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, which was released in 2013. There was quite a bit of media coverage on the dangerous implications of the song, which alludes to date rape, but only after it was already playing on radio stations across the world for months. Yet, despite the criticism, no changes were made, and frankly, I don’t think anyone expected the artists to make changes. This is an extreme example of misogyny in current popular music. If a song with threatening lyrics like “I know you want it” can be made less than 10 years ago with relatively little backlash, then I don’t see why a song written by an 18-year-old girl when she was angry and going through a rough breakup should be so scrutinized. While this is a highly debatable issue, it's also imperative to recognize that changing the lyrics likely won’t advance feminism in any meaningful way. Many girls still won’t have access to education, the pay gap won't close, domestic abuse cases will continue to occur, women will still be denied the opportunity to make their own reproductive choices and much more. It's grim, and while Taylor wields a lot of social and political power, the fight for gender equality is too nuanced of an issue for a lyric change on a twelve-year-old song to be of influence. “Overcoming internalized misogyny is a messy, complicated task…” When Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) is released, I think that she has to acknowledge the song somehow. It’d be weird not to say anything, and her critics would never let her hear the end of it. That said, I think an adequate response would be for Taylor to re-record “Better Than Revenge” with no changes, but come out with a statement addressing the song and her decision to leave it alone. Recognizing that it was a petty, immature and vindictive response to a messed up situation that happened to her when she was a teenager should be enough. I don’t believe that Taylor intended actual harm with the song at all, so explaining her mistake is all she can really do. Conclusion I realize that my defence of the lyrics is definitely rooted in some amount of internalized misogyny that I just can’t shake. Yet, the song stems from that same twisted misogyny, and I can’t be mad at Taylor for expressing that in her work. Overcoming internalized misogyny is a messy, complicated task and seeing that Taylor, a woman I greatly admire, also struggled with the same issue is kind of comforting. I’d also like to explain that I’m not entirely against Taylor changing the lyrics. I actually cannot imagine the Taylor Swift of today singing those lines and feel like she will end up making some adjustments. However, I’m simply stating that she shouldn’t feel like she has to change them. Taylor is a brilliant, thoughtful and talented artist, and I know that whatever her decision is will not have been made lightly. “Better Than Revenge” has truly become a cult classic, and more often than not, I see fans denouncing its misogyny while explaining why they like it nonetheless. While this isn’t always possible, there’s power in being able to hold your favourite artist accountable while still enjoying the art they’ve created. Regardless of what happens, knowing that the re-recording of Speak Now will be an act of vengeance against the men who took advantage of a young Taylor is so sweet. In fact, some may say that Taylor finally owning her work is “better than revenge” itself (I’m sorry, I had to).

  • So, it’s cool to have hobbies again?

    By: Negin Khodayari As much as I tried to fight it, I too, much like the rest of the world, have found myself sucked into the vortex that is TikTok. Opening the app mindlessly, looking for anything to make me feel something, or perhaps — to make me feel nothing. During these mindless scrolls, my For You page constantly reminds me that I have never had an original thought of my own. That the world is a collection of lonely hearts looking to find companionship in any way they can get it. That we attach ourselves to groups and people and play along with their hobbies, because how precious is it to share an experience with another human? How precious is it to open an app and encounter thousands of people who are doing what you are doing? Thousands of people who get it. All that to say, TikTok has basically turned into a big club where you can share your hobbies and discuss them among strangers. I haven’t seen people, many of whom are in their early 20s, this invested in picking up new habits in years. The excitement to start reading again, the curiosity to learn how to sew, the willingness to share journal entries and make to-do-lists each night, unapologetically trying to better oneself — it’s all so refreshing. The joys of reading The last time I remember this many people collectively excited to read was during the Fault in Our Stars era in 2014, which was a true phenomenon for Gen Z. Now, everyone is talking about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The historical fiction novel tells the story of an imaginary Old Hollywood star, Evelyn Hugo, who at age 79, gives a final interview to an unknown journalist. Readers are taken on a whirlwind journey of vivid memories and unforgettable experiences the star had during her career. I first heard of this book last summer, but it seems like since then, everyone and their neighbours have read it. I haven’t yet, but it’s on the list. One book TikTok did coerce me into reading is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. This wasn't my favourite book, and I’m not quite sure if I even enjoyed it. Although I was captivated by the narration — it almost felt like my own natural train of thought — the story itself felt a little dull, or perhaps, monotone. I found myself wanting the story to go deeper; wanting the characters to go deeper. But, I’m glad the app convinced me to take a look at it because I hadn’t read a book for myself in a long time. More popular books on TikTok: They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid Knitting, cooking, and crafting, oh my! There are countless other hobbies that I’ve seen become popular on TikTok, due to the wide range of the app’s users. But from looking at my For You page, hobbies like knitting and sewing to journaling, makeup, cooking, candle making, resin crafting and jewelry making have all found a home on the app. Given the nature of the past two years, many people’s lifestyles have changed. Most students are still taking classes online or working from home. Regular activities and daily distractions took a turn and, in general, people have had more time at home. Though we’ve quickly managed to fill our schedules with virtual work and other responsibilities, people have still found ways to pick up new hobbies — the inspiration for which often came, and continues to come, from TikTok. As such, this raises the question of whether TikTok has actually been beneficial to our generation. Though I don’t think it does too much damage if we spend a few minutes a day on the app, I wouldn’t go as far as to say it's good for us. Yes, TikTok has created a global community that most of us haven't experienced at this scale before, and sure, the platform has inspired some revivals of our childhood hobbies. Yet, I can’t help but wonder how much time we’re spending on the app when we could be out actually developing these hobbies. Though TikTok and it’s recent “Hey, let’s pick up a new hobby” trend has undoubtedly contributed to our generation’s sense of fulfillment, especially when most of our other achievements have been virtual lately, there is nothing that can compare to living a life outside of the digital realm. As hard as it is, putting down your phone could feed you more fulfillment than scrolling through TikTok watching other people perfect new hobbies. Get inspired, yes — learn from what you consume online and let it show you who you’d like to be — but I hope that this doesn't hinder our sense of reality and our motivation to try new things because we want to, not because we’re following a trend. But who am I to know? Either way, I’m glad we’re all picking up books and revisiting hobbies, whatever the inspiration for doing so may be.

  • I’m but a fossil

    By Julia Sacco I’ve always yearned to be thin and soft-spoken, flowers blooming with each utterance from my gentle mouth. To be delicate and sweet, to be offered a sweater on a cold day. To be the kind of girl who glides into clothing without having to check the size. Not the loud, broad girl, taking up too much space in a room with my thundering laugh and mountainous shoulders. Sweating in the summertime, huffing and puffing in the heat, lacking any elegance. I am but a fossil of beauty, what was once there now encompassed in harsh rock and dirt. Oh, how I miss my radiance.

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