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.

Featured Image: retrieved from here.

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.

Featured Image: retrieved from here

Vulgarity in Latin Trap

Latin trap has become extremely popular in the past few years. Artists like Bad Bunny, Anuel AA, Ozuna, Arcángel and Bryant Myers have been able to attract large audiences, frequently collaborating with each other, as well as with other Latin trap artists. Creating hits that become widely popular, they have reached hundreds of millions of views on YouTube and a similar amount of streams on Spotify.

Thus, this genre, with its great popularity and mass amount of listeners, obviously has a large platform. Yet, the genre is controversial amongst some people, particularly feminists, as this music is known to have vulgar and explicit lyrics about women and sex, as well as the glorification of drugs, money and weapons. If you put any song on by one of the artists mentioned above, or any other Latin trap artist, the lyrics are going to stand out. It is atypical for a song in this particular genre of music to not talk about the numerous sexual conquests of the men rapping the songs with explicit descriptions and to not objectify women, who are usually described for their bodies and their sexual performance.

When the wildly popular Colombian artist Maluma, who sings pop and reggaeton, dabbled in the genre of trap, there was immediate outrage. Maluma’s “Cuatro Babys,” which features Puerto Rican trap rappers Bryant Myers, Noriel and Juhn, was released in October 2016, and started great controversy. Particularly, the song was criticized by mothers whose children listen to Maluma’s music, as well as feminists, who described the song as being misogynistic and sexist.

The song basically discusses how he is in love with four different women, and can’t decide who to choose. His dilemma arises from the fact that they’re all good in bed and all four of them are always more than willing to satisfy him in the bedroom whenever he calls them. Essentially, these women are all at his disposal, and he describes in great and explicit detail their sexual encounters. As Yolanda Dominguez wrote in a Huffington Post opinion piece soon after the song was released, “It describes them as simple, interchangeable bodies that are at the service of the limitless, unrestrained and uncontrollable sexual desire of boys.”

Maluma is an extremely popular artist and has a very impressionable young audience of mainly prepubescent girls, thus the controversy makes sense. Yet, if a fan of Latin trap were to listen to the song, this song would not really stand out to them, in the grand scheme of this genre. Because, such lyrics are extremely common in Latin trap. Women are constantly described in such explicit manners, and are objectified in these songs.

Thus this begs the question: is Latin trap a deplorable genre of music that glorifies the portrayal of women as mere sex objects? And by listening to this music, is this in turn supporting these men’s views and perpetuating this idea that women should be viewed in this manner? Or, on the other hand, is Latin trap, and its lyrics, which describe street life and the artists’ perspectives from living in the hood, as Alejandro Pino, a scholar in cultural studies, describes it: a direct product of an entire culture that objectifies women in the first place? Are these artists merely just rapping about their personal experiences, and these lyrics are a mere social reflection of a cultural problem?

Featured Image can be found here.

 

The Benefits of Yoga

It isn’t news that exercise is an excellent way to not only physically stay in shape, but also mentally. There is a wide array of research that has been conducted in the past few decades that allude to the fact that exercise is a crucial element in the lifestyle of a person in order to stay healthy.

However, while going for a three-mile jog every morning before work is great, and hitting the gym every night after dinner to lift weights and do a series of cardio exercises is beneficial, yoga is often overlooked as a serious work out. There are a number of misconceptions on the practice of yoga.

I know that before I started practicing yoga, I would think of relaxation and meditation – something that doesn’t necessarily qualify as an intense exercise – as more of a peaceful activity that focuses on the mind rather than physical, grueling intensity. I used to foolishly associate yoga with something that puts people to sleep. However, there is actually a multitude of benefits that yoga brings, psychologically and physically-speaking. Here are some of the benefits of yoga:

1. Physical strength and overall health

Yoga consists of a wide array of poses – each one focuses on different areas of the body and all are meant to strengthen. Because each pose, even the simplest of poses, directly targets specific groups of muscles, muscles are toned in both the upper and the lower body. Yoga also helps with flexibility, which in turn helps to improve one’s posture, because poses focus so much on proper alignment and allow for more synchronized movements of the body. In addition, research has concluded that yoga reaps important physiological benefits, by helping to lower blood pressure, releasing toxins from the body, flushing out the lymphatic system and promoting a healthy heart overall.

2. Memory

According to Live Science, as well as some other studies that have been conducted in recent years, yoga has been found to improve memory. This may be a result of the fact that yoga heavily draws on repeated movements and visualizations. These strengthen both verbal and visual skills, as well as help with overall awareness and attention. People who have participated in these studies were found to have improvements in image association, as well as name and facial recognition.

3. Mental health

There are multiple studies out there that have shown that yoga helps relieve stress, depression and anxiety. With its focus on controlled, gentle breathing, as well as its precise postures and its emphasis on deep concentration, yoga has been found to lower depression, especially for those who practice consistently. Dr. Chris Streeter, who specializes in psychiatry and neurology at Boston University, states that yoga is a better alternative to taking antidepressant drugs, which bring a slew of side effects. Yoga targets the autonomic nervous system, and according to Streeter, if the autonomic nervous system is balanced out, “the rest of the brain works better.”

4. Insomnia

According to the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, and other independent studies that have been conducted, people who practice yoga and meditation are more likely to get a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Even researchers at Harvard Medical School have found that daily yoga practice results in significant improvements in the quality and quantity of sleep. Thus, yoga is a great way to help remedy insomnia, which leads to a long list of health problems, including obesity, depression and high blood pressure. Yoga is a great alternative to sleep medication, and can help reduce feelings of fatigue.