Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde.
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.
Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde.
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.
I have gained confidence in my writing ability. For a long time, I used to think that I was never good enough. I took English classes and always did well, but never well enough to warrant my feelings for becoming a writer. What I realized working on the many different assignments for this course is it does not matter the grades you get; it is about writing about what makes you happy, and enjoying your work. For each assignment, I chose a topic that I was genuinely interested in. I was able to enjoy the assignment on a personal level outside of the writing, whether it was my rhetorical analysis on Lulu Wang’s acceptance speech or my open letter about whitewashing. The assignment that stood out to me was the visual essay. I had to ponder on what my communities were, and it was challenging to narrow it down to the three I picked. Being able to write about those I care about the most and those that have impacted my life all while using a visual element brought me a lot of joy.
• Over the course of the semester, do you feel that your writing has improved? Why or why not? Explain.
I feel as if I have improved in my writing and the use of rhetoric. The different assignments we were given expanded my knowledge, were enjoyable and took me out of my comfort zone. I found the open letter challenging because, for years, we are told to be biased in our research papers, but for this, it had to include our opinion. Having to completely ignore all of my past assignments help me think outside the box and bring another layer of thought to my work.
• Do you feel that you have a better understanding of rhetoric and its importance to writing, visual representation, reading, etc.? Explain.
I have a way better understanding of rhetoric. In high school, my teachers never really went over any of this, so I was not very knowledgeable on the topic, but I feel as if now, I could use them to my advantage. The visual essay helped me understand the importance visuals can bring to a written story. Making a short film to speak about my identity brought to life my words in a way I never thought possible; it made me want to revisit every short story I’ve ever written or read and make a film based on it.
• What have you learned about yourself as a writer? Were there any assignments that helped shape your own view as a writer and an individual?
I have learned that my love for writing lies beyond the classroom; it lies in the writing room. This class gave me the courage and confidence in my writing to begin writing and sending my scripts out to people. Last semester the thought of showing anyone at Chapman a script I wrote would have sent me in a spiral. But now? I feel as if I could send those scripts to the head of Dodge and be ready for criticism. There is always room for improvement, but understanding that I could do this was a massive leap for me, and writing in this class showed me that.
Dear Hollywood Executives,
From the Golden-Age of Hollywood to a Modern Blockbuster, whitewashing is something that you never really cared about. It does more damage then you could understand. When thinking about how long this issue has been prevalent, I must turn to the first film ever shown at the White House. In the year 1915, the film Birth of a Nation was shown at the White House, a film that glorified the Ku Klux Klan and demonized African-Americans in the South. The film follows the story of two white families, one from the north and one from the south. The film demeans black people and has “White actors wearing blackface play buffoons.” (Rampell “2015). Yes, most films today are not as extremely racist as that, but there are examples. From films as big and high budget as Doctor Strange to the monumental failure, to the impressive failure Gods of Egypt, the issue is prevalent.
As a filmmaker, I go into a theater with the understanding that what I am about to see has been crafted for months in pre and post-production. I know how much thought is put into films, especially with millions of dollars on the line. Casting is a big part of the preproduction side, and sometimes you need a big name actor to get the movie greenlit for funding, but young adolescents do not understand that. You must realize that young children of color in America grow up in a society where white is the “default” race. Children of color in America, specifically, black children are not exposed to positive reflections of themselves in the media. Johnson & Wales University Kai Nelson states that “Black children, sometimes younger than eleven, are targeted by law enforcement and are brought to criminal court at rates much higher than young white children.”. By creating characters that are “stereotypical” to one’s race, you create more reasoning for people outside that race to think they are correct.
People of color are not given an opportunity to be positive role models in the media, and most films consist of a massive white cast. When there is a person of color, they are usually a stereotype. Viola Davis is the first Black woman to win an Emmy for Best Actress in a drama. She said in her speech, “And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”. As a highly regarded woman in the industry her words should not be taken lightly. Her comment in the speech highlights the fact that people of color are frequently overlooked. People of color tend not to be cast infamous roles or main characters, but there are exceptions. For example Black Panther, Shang-Chi, and Spider-Man are all characters that are/have been represented by a person of color.
Something to think about is that in the first two examples I mentioned, their characters have firmly to do with their race. Marvel has been becoming better at casting off talent and bringing new ideas into their Universe. They have cast Zendaya as classically white and redheaded Mary Jane “MJ” Watson. They are also currently working on Falcon and the Winter Soldier for Disney+. The show revolves around who will become the next Captain America. I think the idea of a Black Captain America is something this world needs to see, but not only this world, Hollywood.
Ghost in the Shell is a 1995 anime cyberpunk film based on the manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. It was recently remade in 2017, and performed poorly at the box office. The main reason was the whitewashing of the film, especially with the lead character being portrayed by Scarlett Johanson. Ghost in the Shell is one of the most popular intellectual properties in Japan. According to an academic journal, “By 2012, the movie video and the DVD had about 1.3 million sales worldwide.” (Mizukoshi “Perils of Hollywood Whitewashing?: A review of Ghost in the Shell movie” 2018). The Wachowski Brothers were even inspired by the anime to create The Matrix. Scarlett Johansson plays the role of Major Mira Killian, in the 2017 live-action remake. The film itself tried to justify its choice in whitewashing. Scarlett Johansons character is white after being transformed into a full cyborg. But, in the movie, we see that Johansson’s character is Asian before the transformation. Her character’s mother is a Japanese actor. When the Touchstone Studios originally announced I remember the outrage all over the internet, and honestly, it was inevitable. The anger should have been expected. A topic that was and still is coming up all over the internet was how Scarlett Johanson is one of the top paid actors of the past five years. Scarlett Johanson has been caught in a lot of negative press for some of the comments she’s made, including Woody Allen and whitewashing. Scarlett Johansson was cast as Scarlett was cast as Dante’ Tex’ Gill in the drama Rub & Tug. Jean Marie Gill was assigned female at birth, but assumed the identity of a man with the name Dante’ Tex’ Gill while running a massage parlor and sex work business in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the 1970s and 80s. Johanson said in regards to her casting in the film “‘You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job. ‘I feel like it’s a trend in my business and it needs to happen for various social reasons, yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions. ‘I think society would be more connected if we just allowed others to have their feelings and not expect everyone to feel the way we do.’, (Yasharoff 2019). This all came a whole year after the debacle of Ghost in the Shell. Johanson is just a mainstream example of a big problem. Hollywood does not learn. After Ghost in the Shell, you should have taken a step back to acknowledge your faults.
It is evident that whitewashing is an issue and why it’s essential to make a difference. Directors tend to talk about the money big Hollywood actors bring, but, as we see, that is not always the case. The detriments it does to young and old people of color everywhere is far worse than a commercial failure at the box office. When I see a film and know what the history of a character is, the performance becomes cringy and distracting like I’m watching a dumb college kid wearing a racist costume on Halloween. The fact that whitewashing can tend to hurt the box office success of a film mostly leads me to wonder why this is still even happening in Hollywood? Is it just institutionalized racism? When it happens, it is harmful, racist, and often inauthentic to the history the story is telling. It is unfair to the people and history you are telling on the big screen. Hopefully, soon you will take a look at the past and change the status quo of Hollywood.
Mizukoshi, Kosuke (2018) “Perils of Hollywood Whitewashing?: A review of ‘Ghost in the Shell’ movie,” Markets, Globalization & Development Review: Vol. 3: No. 1, Article 6. DOI: 10.23860/MGDR-2018-03-01-06 Available at: https://digitalcommons.uri.edu/mgdr/vol3/iss1/6https://digitalcommons.uri.edu/mgdr/vol3/iss1/6
Nelson, Kai, “Where’s the Representation?: The Impact of White Washing on Black Children” (2016). Academic Symposium of Undergraduate Scholarship. 35.https://scholarsarchive.jwu.edu/ac_symposium/35
Rampell, Ed. “’The Birth of a Nation’: The Most Racist Movie Ever Made.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 3 Mar. 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/03/03/the-birth-of-a-nation/
Yasharoff, Hannah. “Scarlett Johansson Defends Casting: ‘I Should Be Allowed to Play Any Person, Tree or Animal’.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 15 July 2019, http://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/celebrities/2019/07/14/scarlett-johansson-slammed-controversial-casting-comments/1728444001/.
From the ACT to the SAT, standardized tests are used for almost every college. They are used to prove to colleges that students have a wide range of knowledge. Students who fail them or do not score as high are not good enough to be in the upper level universities. Each standardized test uses data to test each student in a fair and in the same way. They use logic and reasoning, the subjects that are important in life, to show where the talent is.
Standardized Tests are a way to prove a students academic worth. Standardized tests are inclusive and non-discriminatory because they ensure content is equivalent for all students. The Universities believe this is the one way to prove intelligence. The SAT and ACT are used by universities to check their students for their strengths. All standardized tests must be able to check the same knowledge. By using reasoning and logic, they test subjects that are useful in society, and show where the talent is.
93% of studies on student testing, including the use of large-scale and high-stakes standardized tests, found a “positive effect” on student achievement. Every school district uses standardized test, they cleary work. They are used to show signs of intelligence. They are also used to show the weaknesses and strengths in the school. The larger ones like SAT and ACT are used at pretty much every University, meaning they are important. If these higher universities are using them to check their students, then they must be the best way to test knowledge. All students must learn to accept these tests.
The Film Independent Spirit Awards is the most significant accumulation for independent films in the industry. Every year the award ceremony brings together the top talent from the independent film world, which means a lot more diversity. Lulu Wang is one of the top directors in the independent film industry. Wang is a director, writer and producer in Hollywood. She is most well known for writing and directing the hit 2019 film “The Farewell.” “The Farewell” is about a young Chinese woman’s family that returns to China under the excuse of a fake wedding to say goodbye to their beloved grandma, who is the only person that does not know she only has a few weeks to live. Wang won the top award of Best Feature at the 2020 award ceremony, and her speech left in an echo in the tent that night. The primary rhetorical situation of her speech is that the film industry needs to take more chances on women and pay them equally. It is also about how, when a film is about an oppressed and marginalized group, the industry should not market to that group, but market it as a mainstream film, a film for all. This topic is more than relevant in today’s society. With the 2020 Academy Awards coming to a close last month, there was almost no female winner or nominee in non-acting categories. Wang speaks on change and on inequality in the entertainment industry and how actions to change that need to be made.
The award show was streamed online and broadcasted on television for thousands of people to see. Lulu Wang took this opportunity to speak her mind on an important issue, the way women are treated in the film industry. She was raising awareness for women in the industry. Wang starts her speech by saying that “you do not have to encourage women, there are lots of women making films” and “what women need is just the job.” which immediately addresses the crowd and makes her point and stance very clear. Wang uses ethos in a very strong manner. She had just won the award for “Best Feature,” solidifying her credibility. She then starts off her speech by saying she started in 2014 in “Project Involve.” This organization is directly connected to the Film Independent Spirit Awards. She uses this to show her personal connection to the organization, and by doing this uses pathos and ethos. She actively uses pathos by making a connection to the audience watching all over the world by saying :” For all you filmmakers out there, you can do it. You can absolutely do it.” which connects to those who watch the award show, most of us being filmmakers or workers in that industry. She uses this statement to make a broad and general connection to her audience before delving into her main topic for her speech. After saying this she delves into the heart of her speech which is stating that the industry needs to take the same bets on female filmmakers as they do on male filmmakers. Wang uses anaphoras when she says, “Give them the freaking job. Give them the money.”. Anaphoras are when a word repeats in a successive order, the use of this rhetorical device rhythm and parallelism. The device can be tied back to poetry and music, but Lulu Wang being a successful writer and artist, used this tactic to have this moment stick in the head of those watching. She wanted everyone to remember this moment because it was essential to her and her whole point of the speech.
Wang again brings pathos to her speech by bringing in those who helped her get to where she is. She then hammers in the pathos by bringing in her personal history in the industry at the end, the full quote from the speech being, “The only reason that I am up here is because these incredible people gave me an opportunity. My first film went nowhere, they didn’t have to take a chance on me, and they did.”. She talks about her first film being a flop and not going anywhere, bringing in her sense of failure and rejection again, connection to her crowd. After she gains respect from the audience and her peers on and off stage, she brings to question the marketing of her film “The Farewell” and how A24 is to thank for the box office success. She starts off by using ethos by bringing A24 into the speech, A24 is one of the most prestigious independent film studios and production companies in the industry. She then continues by talking about how they marketed her film for everyone and said this about A24, “marketing the film as an American film, to show a different side of what an American looks like, what an American family can look like, what an American leading woman looks like, and they did.”. She speaks again using anaphoras in the phrase “American film,… what an American looks like, what an American family can look like, what an American leading woman looks like” to make her point stand out in the speech. Wang uses the rhythm so people remember what she says and that it sticks in their head. She then wraps up the speech by thanking A24 for giving the money and platform to make an impact with her film , “They did a full year roll out that took so much time and not a lot of money, but they’re the ones who were able to give us the platform so everybody knows the film even a year later.”. She used ethos at the end by creating credibility in her movie and the company that produced and pathos when she brought up a film that was very personal to her being known for “even a year later.”
Lulu Wang created a speech that not only touched upon essential topics but made it relatable to those outside of her marginalized group. She wanted a conversation, not only women or Asian Americans could talk about, but everyone, which is extremely important today. Wang spoke words at that ceremony that will leave a longer impression than most films could ever wish to.
In Orwell’s novel, he uses the concept of the “telescreen,” which symbolizes the complete control that Big Brother has over the citizens. The telescreen is an all-seeing eye that surveillances the citizens and each of their actions. They do this to watch for even the slightest signs of rebelliousness. In today’s society, there are arguments to be made to our community getting closer to that one predicted in 1984. Amazon’s Alexa is possibly the world’s biggest suspect when it comes to a modern-day “telescreen.” Having owned an Alexa for a few years, I have seen how others react when they notice it, and how my behavior has changed because of it. Whenever someone would see it most people my age would tense up, some would even unplug the small machine.
After a while I did research and found out that Alexas are always listening and sometimes recording. After finding out from Florian Schaub, an Assistant Professor in the University of Michigan School of Information, that the devices “are always listening, but, by default, they are only listening for the ‘wake word’ or the activation keyword.”, I got rid of mine. Changing my behavior was never a thought that crossed my mind, I never would change who I was no matter what, I always try to find a solution to the problem rather than giving in. Having a tap for lack of better words, in your home has no advantages in my eyes. As a creative person, the thought of government control is terrifying. The idea of the government being able to hear everything I am saying is just a first step to something scarier, no privacy, and complete control. The loss of creativity and art would come with the loss of free speech and free thought. Giving up my privacy would never be an option for me, but not because I have anything to hide, I’m scared of what happens after that. There are bad people everywhere, and no matter how many precautions we take, nothing will stop them from wanting to do evil. The government would not use the surveillance for good, and they would be overcome by greed and become power-hungry. They would use this information they were collecting for the wrong reasons and maybe even use it for blackmail. The safety of our country will always be fluctuating, and losing our privacy will not make it any safer. We, as citizens, would start to lose our humanity slowly, and the world would become a grey corporate world instead of the one we live in now. The quality of life we are living is just as important as safety, because if we are not enjoying the life we are living, then what is the point.
Kicking, punching, name-calling, all of these words describe what I experienced on the playground. Laughing, joking, creating, all of these words describe what I write about to this day. Writing has been a big part of my life since I was eight years old, because it had to be; it was one of my only escapes. Vividly I can remember the playground from when I was younger, the pushing, the kicking, and the name-calling, I still hear the echoes of the names I was called to this day.
No one liked me, and no one wanted to play with me, they called me freak and loner. I spent my time reading The Chronicles of Narnia and Magic Tree House and would envision what it was like to be Edmund or Jack. By myself, I would create a world where I could escape in my creative writing. This would become an essential part of my adjusting to the next several years of my life. Writing helped me survive the fears of the outside world and let me be who I wanted to be. I wrote stories of knights slaying the dragon and saving the princess, stories of superheroes destroying the bad guy, and being praised by all. This has affected me today in my screenwriting, and my love for it. To this day, I write stories about good beating evil, and as I grow, so does my love of writing. The bullying only gave me more depth to create honest and authentic characters in my work.
In third grade, I changed schools. I was ready for a fresh start, a place to make friends. But the struggle to feel included only grew. I spent my free time at school with my teacher, who influenced my writing most positively. I would sit with her at recess and read and talk as the others played pirates. I longed to play with the others, but I was so relieved to have someone kind to talk to and who would read my stories. She seemed to genuinely care for the characters and what would happen to them. That year made me realize what happiness really is. My teacher said that everyone could have a happy ending, even the bad guy, she taught me about redemption. The stories I have written from then tend to have an undertone of hope, whether the story is a comedy or drama. Writing saved my life; it let me experience the joys of childhood, the playing and imagination, and everything a child should get to be when they are young. As I got older, my short little stories I would write turned into longer narratives, and eventually into screenplays. The stories that I would write with my teacher at recess or in my bedroom late at night have turned into works of art that countless people help me create today. Seeing my writing come to life is why I love writing and why I will never stop writing, for the rest of my life.
Dear Mom and Dad,
These past few months have been extremely overwhelming at school. Between track student council and all AP classes, I couldn’t keep up. Mr. Way caught me cheating on our midterm this Tuesday. I fully regret it, and I am so sorry. I might be expelled, and I am not sure what to do. I will be back in a few hours so you can have time to think about what we can do next. I hope that you both are not too mad at me. I am sorry.
This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.
You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.
Why do this?
The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.
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Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.
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