Youth and Celebrity Culture

More than ever before, it seems like the younger generations of both Millennials and Generation Z tend to invest much more time and interest in celebrity news. What celebrities are up to and what drama they’re involved in tends to consume young minds. Who’s pregnant, which celebrity couple broke up and what celebrity got plastic surgery are at the forefront of a lot of pop culture news stories.

With the prominence of social media outlets like Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram, celebrities are able to update fans and followers on their lives frequently and instantaneously. By posting photos and videos of their lavish lifestyles on private jets and yachts, stacks of hundred dollar bills and their almost too-perfect-to-be real selfies, people have become immersed and infatuated with celebrity culture.

Unrealistic beauty standards have arisen. It just takes one simple visit to Instagram’s main page of trending photos to see that a lot of women are striving to look a certain way. Diversity is being embraced less, as celebrities like the Kardashians and Jenners, other reality TV stars, actors/actresses, and artists, have influenced many young men and women to do their makeup in a certain way and to dress in a certain style. Trends such as lash extensions, lip fillers and plastic surgery have risen in prominence.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with one owning his/her sexuality and not being afraid to present themselves in whatever way they want to without fear of being judged by society. However, the importance that has been placed on a lot of celebrities has influenced younger boys and girls. And, there is now an insurmountable amount of pressure placed on youth to adhere to certain standards of beauty and conduct, for them to be deemed acceptable or beautiful.

These pressures have arisen from the importance and time us youth have invested in talking about celebrity news, and in being immersed in the personal lives of these stars. A lot of young people are so invested in it, that they actually do feel affected when their favorite celebrity couple breaks up, or when their favorite rapper is beefing with another rapper.

The fact that we as a society value so highly what celebrities have to say and what they’re doing directly points to the fact that our society is very superficial, and places a lot of importance on money, conventional beauty and status. Younger generations think that the only way to be respected and successful nowadays is to make a six-figure salary or to be a millionaire, and have lost the concept of what really matters. We should not spend so much time caring about celebrities and what they do, and should focus more on issues that actually matter and do affect our lives in real and meaningful way.

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Unwarranted Stereotypes in TV and Film

In the wake of Halloween, a day in which every year without fail, there are people who dress up in offensive and insensitive costumes, it seems necessary for me to address offensive cultural stereotypes that are ever-present in popular media today. In previous decades and in the present day, films and television shows have portrayed racial minorities in stereotypical manners that have in turn, had consequences both politically and socially for minority populations in the U.S.

The portrayal of minorities in film was a lot worse decades ago, with minorities being portrayed in ridiculous manners by actors who were not even part of the culture they were dressing up as, through things like blackface, yellowface and other cultural appropriations. However, while today such tactics are deeply frowned upon in Hollywood, the film industry has still yet to truly progress in their portrayal of minority characters in film and T.V.

Latinos are still portrayed in stereotypical manners. It is not uncommon for Latinos to be made a mockery of, be played as having heavy accents for a “comedic” effect, be portrayed as simple-minded gardeners, or be depicted as “dumb,” such as in the popular movie “Nacho Libre.” A common stereotype that Latina actresses tend to be locked into are roles as obedient and one-dimensional house maids, or the role of a sex vixen. Other common stereotypes include being depicted as “Latin lovers,” a “cholo” who is involved in drugs and gang violence, an undocumented immigrant, or be wearing a sombrero and a poncho as Mariachi music plays in the background.

All of these stereotypes have been a disservice to the Latino community, as the popularization of such TV shows and films that portray Latinos in a one-dimensional manner serves to fuel the biases and misconceptions that non-Latinos have of the Latino culture. These stereotypes are deeply rooted in the psyche of many people, and serve to form prejudices in the minds of many. But the Latino community are not the only ones to be depicted in such a stereotypical manner, as many other races and ethnicities have had to deal with the same thing.

The portrayal of Native Americans have also been deeply damaging to the Native American community. Being depicted as “savages” or alcoholics, among many other things, has served to construct a deeply misguided perception that a lot of people have of the community. The Muslim population also has dealt with stereotypical portrayals of their community in popular Hollywood films, which has added to the deep prejudice that is unfortunately ever-present in the U.S. today. Asian Americans and African Americans have also dealt with being portrayed in stereotypical manners.

Thus, it is important that when we watch films and TV shows, we understand that the way certain minority communities are portrayed is more often than not, an inaccurate representation that draws on deeply-damaging and incorrect stereotypes crafted from many years of historical prejudice, racism and political scapegoating.

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The Importance of Cinematic Soundtracks

What makes a movie great is based on a number of factors, including its ensemble of actors, the cinematography and the script. These components of film tend to get the most attention from critics and viewers alike, who find these areas to be crucial to the quality of the movie. However, the soundtrack of a movie also plays a vital role in the quality of the film.

The soundtrack of a film can add to the emotional component, or add a comedic, creepy or suspenseful layer to the film, depending on how the music is composed.

When we take into consideration classic movies, not only does the great acting and wonderful storytelling come to mind, but either consciously or subconsciously, so does the music of the movie.

When we think of Steven Spielberg’s film “Jaws,” the suspenseful theme music of the shark comes to mind, and is responsible for that intense buildup before the shark is about to strike. The music contributes to the anxiety that we feel at that moment, and adds to the overall terror that the shark conjures.

Another memorable film is Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park,” a  movie that virtually all of us have seen and a timeless piece that has stuck with us throughout the decades. Not only are the realistic looking dinosaurs mesmerizing, but the soundtrack plays a huge role in the emotional grip that the film holds over its audience. When I, and many others, think of “Jurassic Park,” the main theme track of the film automatically comes to mind. We associate the song with the film.

But Spielberg’s films are not the only films that have memorable soundtracks. George Lucas’ “Star Wars” movies and Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” have cinematic soundtracks that have stood the test of time. “Indiana Jones” also has a soundtrack that is automatically recognizable when heard. The soundtracks to these films are masterpieces and have mesmerized audiences. And, they create a wave of nostalgia when heard by many of us.

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Hollywood’s Infamous “Casting Couch”

In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s Hollywood scandal, I think it is important to shed light on how common such cases of sexual assault are in this industry. Hollywood, in fact, has a long history with this kind of behavior, which is why the idea of the “casting couch” has long been associated with Hollywood. This dichotomy between young women who are trying to make it in a deeply competitive industry, and powerful, wealthy studio executives and Hollywood elite in general has long plagued show business.

Darryl F. Zannuck, who was a major Hollywood producer and studio head during the ’30s, popularized this concept, as he was notorious for taking young aspiring actresses to his couch. It was reported that he would take women to his office on a consistent basis during his time at Fox Century City. It is reported that Old Hollywood stars Natalie Wood and Joan Crawford, who charmed audiences with their movies and demeanors, had experiences with other producers and the infamous casting couch in order to land movie roles and advance their film careers.

In more recent times, a number of actresses have revealed their experiences with the casting couch and offers that they have received from powerful Hollywood elite. Actresses Megan Fox, Charlize Theron, and Lisa Rinna have described instances in where they were pressured by producers and key players in Hollywood, who tried to lure them into the bedroom. Actress Kate Beckinsale describes how she was only 17 years old when Harvey Weinstein invited her to his room at the Savoy Hotel and met her wearing only a bathrobe, a tactic that is all too familiar to Weinstein’s victims.

Not only are women on the receiving end of the perverse amount of sexual assault that goes in Hollywood, but men are as well. And not only this, but allegations of ongoing pedophilia within the industry on behalf of powerful producers and studio executives are rampant. Thus, it is clear that there is a problem within this industry.

The fact that so many people stayed silent on Harvey Weinstein when what he was doing was well known perpetuates the idea that sexual assault is a normal part of the Hollywood culture. And, this of course does not apply only to Hollywood, as sexual assault is frequent in many other workplaces. For example, Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, both of Fox News, were fired because they sexually assaulted women. Politicians like Bob Filner and Arnold Schwarzenegger assaulted women. And then, there is the infamous Bill Cosby, who would drug and rape his victims.

Thus, there is obviously a problem within workplaces and American society in general. Far too many times, people in positions of power use that to take advantage of their victims and render them silent. The looming threat of victims losing their job, not being believed or being ostracized from certain segments of society all too often keep victims from speaking out against their abusers.

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