OK, so is the internet fixed yet?

If you have been on campus within the last semester, you know the internet has been an ongoing issue. We have all experienced the slow connection, no connection and, even sometimes, sporadic fast internet. The Greensboro College app stays busy and up to date with complaints about how bad the internet can be. It has been a rollercoaster for sure, but is there any hope for better Internet?

In an interview I had with Chance Bryant, a student who attended the General Assembly with new Chief IT Officer Chris Estes, I was able to learn about what the IT department plans to do to fix the internet for the future.

When Estes became the new Chief of IT at the beginning of the Spring 2021 semester, he set out to devise a year-long plan that would hopefully result in high-speed internet across campus. He wants faster internet, but that requires more bandwidth, which means more cable, which means more money. However, the issues do not stop there. Things like overuse of the internet by the college as a whole, outdated computers that are not running the most updated software and the major issue of student’s Pride Cards still not working are all issues that must be addressed before the internet can be fixed.

This does not mean we will not see faster internet at all, it just means the IT staff needs time to fix it. So be patient. The IT staff at Greensboro College are doing what they can to fix the problems that we have, but first, they need to solve some other issues along the way. It is a process, but in the end, I think we all will be happy with the results.

by Drew Rachunek

Meghan Markle spills the royal tea

On March 7, 2021, an interview aired on CBS between Oprah Winfrey and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It garnered worldwide attention for several bombshells dropped by the former members of the royal family during the interview.

In addition to the multitude of memes spawned by the interview, discussion has been inspired by a few key points in the conversation, primarily one in which Markle reveals to Oprah that a member of the royal family had discussions with Prince Harry during Markle’s first pregnancy about “concerns over how dark” the baby’s skin color would be. Markle is the first person of color to marry into the royal family, having a black mother and a white father.

“I think it is wrong for the royal family to have made Meghan Markle feel that way,” said first-year student Drew Rachunek, “having a conversation about the baby’s skin as if it would have mattered in any real sense.”

The British press has been widely criticized for their treatment of Markle from the beginning of her relationship with Prince Harry, particularly The Daily Mail, which has published many articles about both Markle and Kate Middleton, casting the former in an unfavorable light and the latter in a flattering one. Eventually the public attitude towards her became so hostile that Markle reached a severely unhealthy mental state, asking the royal family for help and being denied, which ended up being one of the reasons she and Prince Harry decided to leave the royal family.

Leaving the royal family in another case would be something drastic. But because it was already very unlikely that Prince Harry would ever become king (his older brother, William, is the heir apparent, followed by William’s children).

His exit alongside Markle just means that they will not be financially supported by the Royal family anymore, nor will they have any obligations to fulfill, such as royal tours or duties. This is why Markle and Prince Harry have been making deals in the entertainment industry, ranging from services such as Netflix to platforms such as podcasting, because they need a new source of income.

So the big question is: Why does this all matter? What does this mean? Why do people care about the royal family, people whom we have known for so long to be nothing but ornamental figureheads?

I think the best answer to these questions was given by English author Hilary Mantel in a 2013 essay entitled ‘Royal Bodies’: “I used to think that the interesting issue was whether we should have a monarchy or not. But now I think that question is rather like, should we have pandas or not? Our current royal family does not have the difficulties in breeding that pandas do, but pandas and royal persons alike are expensive to conserve and ill-adapted to any modern environment. But aren’t they interesting? Are they not nice to look at? Some people find them endearing; some pity them for their precarious situation; everybody stares at them, and however airy the enclosure they inhabit, it is still a cage.”

by Jackie Hines

When does free speech go too far?

American actor and former MMA fighter Gina Carano was recently fired from her role in Disney’s “The Mandalorian.” The reason? Various tweets made by her as far back as November 2020 expressing numerous controversial beliefs.

Carano portrayed the character Cara Dune on “The Mandalorian,” which concluded its second season in December 2020. Carano, who is proudly conservative, had already begun drawing ire from fans and executives alike when she made several tweets expressing contention for topics related to pronoun usage, mask-wearing, and the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. Around this time, the hashtag #FireCarano began trending. The situation came to a head earlier in February this year when she made a tweet comparing political ostracization to the treatment of Jewish people during the Holocaust. She was ultimately fired by Lucasfilm thereafter.

Carano’s tweets and subsequent fir- ing have appeared to serve as an example for many on how social media can blow up in the face of those working in the entertainment industry, especially someone as outspoken and with as much public influence as Carano. However, with as much support as the decision to fire her drew, several others have spoken out in defense of Carano by putting down what has been referred to as “cancel culture,” or the ostracization of individuals based on controversial words or actions. With these two conflicting extremes, it has become important to highlight what exactly free speech entails and the point at which it can devolve into hate speech.

Freedom of speech has been enjoyed as a basic liberty in our nation for centuries. It is also one that has been taken for granted by many people across different cultures. The reason for that is arguably that while the privilege of free speech may be cherished, the consequences of what we say and do are little more than after-thoughts for many others. With social media becoming more and more of a central platform for modern communication, the reputation of many is almost contingent on what beliefs or opinions they choose to make known to the world. While this is not meant to imply that Carano was ignorant or unaware as to what reaction would result from her statements, the nature of those statements was arguably enough to warrant strong reactions, indeed.

“Her freedom was that she had the ability to put the tweets out there in the first place,” said Laszlo Almonte, a theatre major. “But that does not stop her from getting repercussions for saying stupid things.”

At the end of the day, Carano chose to publicly vocalize her perspective on multiple issues. Therefore, it is not unwise to assume she would be prepared to bear the fruits of that labor. With the political landscape being what it is today, especially within the entertainment industry, controversy can arise from anywhere on anyone’s part. As such, when people with as much influence as celebrities speak passionately about subjects that affect us as a collective, an image is cast onto them for better or worse. Unfortunately for Gina Carano, it was for worse.

By Nicholas Sherbine

Time to unplug

Have you ever thought about what school was like for your grandparents? There was no Internet. There were no computers, no smart boards or projectors. If you wanted to write, it was with pencils or chalk. Books and journals were actually printed on paper, and you had to know what the Dewey Decimal System was if you wanted to find any of them.

Modern technology has come so far in the last few decades, and it can be really helpful for learning. Greensboro College has adapted a universal design for learning, and one feature of that program focuses on how to use technology to enhance students’ education. This can be very beneficial—especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic, but our fascination with all things tech could be reaching unhealthy levels.

Between Gmail, Moodle, Zoom, Empower and Google, we are now being required to spend an unprecedented amount of time staring at a screen. For that matter, much of the world has started to work from home, spending much of their days staring at a screen. That is just the way things are right now. It is a fact of life that technology dominates the work and education- al sectors which only makes our lives more stressful and faster-moving because there is no way to separate home and work time. It all runs together.

We also find most of our entertainment on a screen. How many of you have at least one paid streaming service like Netflix, Hulu or Disney+? I am betting that quite a few of you have all three (or have access to all three through a friend). Then there is TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook … the list goes on and on. Our days are filled with the latest updates, stories and streaks. While this can be fun, there is also the side of social media that always does more harm than good. The often toxic atmosphere that we encounter regularly is a place where self-esteem is trashed.

Regardless of your opinion of social media, the fact remains that between school and entertainment, a healthy majority of us spend a good part of our day watching a computer or cellphone screen, and sometimes it is just too much. Godfrey Reggio said, “It’s not that we use technology, we live technology.” When you go to bed and your eyes just feel dry and worn out, you know you have had too much screen time, and we need to address that fact.

I spent a couple of sum- mers as a camp counselor and, as part of that job, I did not have access to my phone from Sunday afternoon until Thursday night. Yes, you heard that right. I did not have my phone for over four days, and it was great. You would be surprised how relaxing it was. It was great not feeling like I had to look for a text every five minutes or see what this or that person’s latest post was. Not to mention, when you are not looking at your phone, you can see everything and everyone else around you. You never know what you are missing when you are constantly looking down at a screen.

Well, it just so happens that March 5 is the National Day of Unplugging, and maybe that is a place to start. Maybe you can go a whole day without looking at your phone, but that is probably not very realistic, especially since there are classes that day.

However, it is definitely time that we become more intentional about finding time to go off of the grid. Maybe you can decide to read a book, rather than watching whatever latest cat videos are trending. Maybe you can take a walk and look at the city or take a hike and look at nature. It does not matter how you do it, but we should be more conscious about how much screen time we have each and every day. Let us be honest, a lot of you probably could not make four hours without your phone, much less four days.

The truth is, you really do not need a whole day to unplug—although I do recommend trying it—you really only need a little part of every day. I once had a friend actually schedule time in his day to just sit there and do nothing: no technology, no phone, no anything. The point was to be still, listen and reflect. It was a way to get away from the world for just a few minutes a day, and listen to yourself and God.

We should all give this a try. Start with a few minutes. Put your phone on silent, and go into another room. Then, just breathe. Society tells us that we constantly need stimulation for our brains, but that is just not true. Let your imagination wander, talk to God, think about your future. I know, I am starting to sound philosophical. The point is that technology is only as good as you make it, and there can be too much of a good thing. Sometimes you just need some distance and perspective.

So, maybe when you just sit and think on March 5, or whatever day you choose, you can think about what it was like for your grandparents to go to school. Who knows, maybe you will get the urge to ask them. I am sure they would love to tell you.

by Blake Hawkins

The Calm Corner: meditate don’t medicate

Anxiety is fairly common. This is a fact: According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older.” It is important to crack down the healthiest and most recommended ways to deal with it.

It seems as though there is an endless supply and variety of anxiety medication. Healthline says, “Benzodiazepines help treat many kinds of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

“Examples of these drugs include: alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clonazepam (Klonopin), diaz- epam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan).”

Healthline goes on to say, “Benzodiazepines are typically used for short-term treatment of anxiety. This is because they can increase drowsiness and cause problems with balance and memory. They can also be habit-forming. There’s an increasing epidemic of benzodiazepine misuse.” There is no doubt in my mind that whoever is reading this has heard of at least half of the medications listed. I doubt, however, that you knew about the side effects.

CBD (a chemical found in marijuana and hemp) seems to be all the rage recently as well. Mayo Clinic says, “Though it’s often well-tolerated, CBD can cause side effects, such as dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness and fatigue. CBD can also interact with other medications you are taking, such as blood thinners. Another cause for concern is the unreliability of the purity and dosage of CBD in products.”

J. Cole once said in his song ‘FRIENDS’, “Meditate don’t medicate.” I think about this very often. Meditation is a practice that has been around for thousands of years. It is used in religious devotion, but that is not the only use for it. Many people use meditation simply for their relaxation and health benefits. Whatever your reason for meditating is, I have only ever heard of people having good reactions and/or things to say about it. According to mindful.org, “When we meditate, we inject far-reaching and long-lasting benefits into our lives. We lower our stress levels, we get to know our pain, we connect better, we improve our focus, and we’re kinder to ourselves.”

As for me, my morning and nightly routines were not the best. I am positively sure that many others can relate, but I used to begin and end my days by checking my social media. This, of course, brought down my vibrations. Social media can be extremely toxic, and I did not like the fact that I began and ended my day thinking about what others were doing, rather than checking in with myself. I now try to start my day with Alpha meditation. This is active rest, laying down with palms up. I end my day with regular, cross-legged meditation. I have been doing it for months and will never look back.

This is not to say that medications do not help, or that meditation is helpful to every single person who does it—I think it is at least worth a try—the goal is to choose the most helpful and healthy way to deal with anxiety for you.

A fighting spirit

When I was a kid, I did not just receive an allowance. I had to work for it. Every week, I would be given a checklist of things to do: make my bed, clean my room, take the trash out, etc. Only after successfully finishing my chores would I receive my money. And I hated it. I did not hate doing the chores; I hated being told what to do. The whole checklist thing was unnecessary and annoying.

You see, for me, working to earn what I want is just like second nature. It is a value that I have been taught from a young age. It was not just an allowance thing; it is the knowledge that everything comes at a cost. So, what are you going to do about it? Do you really want to make that sports team? How bad do you want the lead role in the school play? Are you going to pass the test or come home with an F? It was just part of my life, and it has made me who I am today.

Maybe that’s why a commercial I saw recently stood out to me. It said, “You want a job? You learn a skill. You want a house? You save for it. You want bigger muscles? You lift heavier weights. You want a girl to marry you? You ask her father. You want respect? You earn it.” The commercial was actually for a beer called Modelo, but that is not the point. It was advertising a “fighting spirit.”

There are actually a number of similar commercials distributed by the company that showcase people’s hard work: An immigrant named Eduardo Pérez fighting his way to the top of an industry and becoming an executive chef; Amanda Nunes winning the title of champion in the women’s bantamweight and featherweight divisions in the UFC. You should look them up sometime. They are really well-done commercials and show how anything is possible with a fighting spirit.

In fact, much of American history is predicated on people having the ability to work for what they want in hopes of accomplishing what they want. Obviously, there are barriers and obstacles and not everyone has the same path, but the notion remains. In America, people have the ability to change their station in life if they work accordingly.

The problem is, while the notion remains, the effort and drive often does not. We, as a society, have started to act like we are entitled to what we want, when we want it. America was founded on the principles of unalienable rights and “among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Thomas Jefferson did not say that we are entitled to life, liberty, and free tuition, health- care, housing, food, etc. No, he said the pursuit of happiness. That means we have the right to work and pursue what we want. Now, I understand there are extenuating circumstances, but that is why they are called extenuating.

Let us consider the prospect of alleviating student debt that the new presiden- tial administration has proposed. While this may look like a good idea on the surface, it will cause problems. No one will ever be happy, politicians or students. First of all, how do you decide how much assistance someone gets? If Jim has $30,000 in debt and Joe has $10,000, do they only have their debts paid? If that happens, Joe is not very happy because he should have gone to a different school with a higher rate and simply had it forgiven. So, maybe they should both receive the $30,000. Now Jim is not happy that Joe has gotten a $20,000 credit while he has only had his debt repaid. If they both receive $10,000, Jim is still not happy because he still has $20,000 in debt. The world is not always fair, but this is not the fix-all solution that some people think.

Now, you can complain that young people are forced into college where they sign massive loans without fully understanding them, and you would not be totally wrong. And people should be better educated about available jobs that do not need require a degree, but the bottom line is that once you have made a decision, you have to follow through with it. You should not act so entitled as to believe that someone else should be obligated to give you a way out. The bottom line is that no one is entitled to an education; you have to work for it.

Also, where is the money coming from? Taxes is the simple answer, but how is that any better? To use an extreme example, you could pay on your college loans for the rest of your life, or you could be paying taxes that will pay for Jane Doe’s kids’ college loans from the other side of the country for the rest of your life You are still paying for college in one way or another. It just depends on whether you are paying for your loans or someone else’s. Not to mention, are you going to forgive everyone’s debt for now, let it accumulate for another fifty years, then pay it off again? This just seems like the start of a cycle.

The real issue is the cost of college, and that should probably be our focus, but let us be clear. Free college is a non-starter. Capitalism is the very base from which the American dream grows, and it is hard to have a fighting spirit when the government puts a cap on what you can and cannot do as a business. Besides, what companies or professors are actually going to work for free?

Maybe the problem lies in the difference between equality and equity. Everyone should have an equal shot at success, but people should not expect to all finish at the same place. Equity is nothing more than socialism because everyone finishes with the same success regardless of their starting point and their effort.

If the American spirit is going to survive this administration and the progressives in Congress, we have to realize that, as a society, we have to cultivate our fighting spirits and work toward the pursuit of happiness, not the pursuit of ultimate equity because if we will all end at the same spot, why bother working hard at all?

By Blake Hawkins

A sugar-sweet bolt of adrenaline: Review

The new film, “Promising Young Woman,” written and directed by Emerald Fennell, strikes the viewer like a bolt of lightning. This is Fennell’s directorial debut, but one would not know that from the expert precision and singular vision she brings to the screen. Before the release of this film she was best known to American audiences as the actress who portrayed Camilla Parker-Bowles on “The Crown,” and as showrunner/head writer for season two of “Killing Eve.”

The plot follows the titular character, Cassie Thomas, portrayed by a pitch-perfect Carey Mulligan, as she tries to avenge the rape of her best friend, which occurred 10 years prior to the events of the film. This film has sparked a multitude of conversations about what American audiences expect from films that center around topics such as revenge or sexual violence, particularly because of its uncanny ability to subvert the audience’s expectations at every turn.

I also have to give credit to the rest of the ensemble cast, all of whom do phenomenal jobs rounding out the world Fennell has created. Stand-up comedian Bo Burnham plays Cassie’s friend and love interest, and while one would expect him to know his way around a comedic line, he delivers a genuinely believable and captivating performance.

What is most impressive about this film is the way every individual aspect builds to create the overall story. The pastel and neon color palettes, the pop-infused soundtrack, everything added to the sense of Cassie performing the femininity that society expects from her, even as both she and the audience know it is just that: a performance.

What this film does that no other film has is tackling the system that allows for these horrific acts from all angles. Other films that have tried tackling a rape-revenge storyline oftentimes center around a singular man and seem to have the message that once that individual is dealt with, suddenly everything has been solved. Fennell’s screenplay does not let anyone who has anything to do with what happened to Cassie’s friend off the hook.

Oftentimes, I find myself reflecting upon the films I have seen with different opinions from the one I had when I first left the theater. My uneasiness eventually turns into adoration, or my love turns into apathy, but weeks after my third viewing of “Promising Young Woman,” I still cannot wait to see it again.

By Jackie Hines

DeGeneres, Bush outcry indicative of political climate

This month pictures surfaced online of famous Hollywood talk show host Ellen DeGeneres sitting and laughing with former President George Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game against the Green Bay Packers.

With such a difference in opinions (DeGeneres being liberal as they come as well as a lesbian, and Bush a Republican) criticisms quickly flooded in, decrying DeGeneres for somehow compromising her principles by simply sitting next to someone whose opinions differ from her own. These conclusions quickly reached by critics are indicative of the political climate today.

Why should it be such a big deal that a liberal sat next to a conservative? Why is it that people are so angry that two people were able to set aside their politics and come together to enjoy a football game without constantly making everything political?

People should be able to be friends without politics getting in the way. One of thr main reasons our country is so critically divided along party lines is that people have stopped being friendly with one another when their opinions differ. People no longer care about civility, and politics has become the hill on which friendships and common courtesy die.

DeGeneres talked about the outcry against her actions by saying, “Here’s the thing: I’m friends with George Bush, and in fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have … Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean I’m not going to be friends with them.”

DeGeneres’s response is a refreshing return to the wild concept that people with different political beliefs can be friendly with one another, and that politics should not be the reason friendships end.

I may be a conservative, but I do not tend to let politics get in between me and my friends. I may think that the Second Amendment is the most critical amendment in the Bill of Rights, but I do not end friendships with people who think guns should be confiscated, and I hope my friends would show me the same courtesy. There is a time and place for everything, and the time and place for politics is not a Cowboys football game.

I think it is great that DeGeneres and the Bushes sat next to each other because it symbolizes what America needs in order to return to a world that truly emphasizes kindness and civility: the ability to cross party lines and sit down with a friend to enjoy a common interest without the stumbling block of politics getting in the way.

So, a call to action: sit down with someone who does not share your opinions. Laugh with them, eat a meal with them, be civil and friendly. Because until Americans can return to civility, politics will continue to consume our lives until one side gets the upper hand.

By Tess Perdue

Balancing personal health with college workload

Nearly every student can relate to the sacrifice of their hobbies, physical health, mental health or social life in an effort to manage the workload of college which, especially at this time of the year, can be overwhelming.

Rather than admit that they are struggling and ask for help, many students try to uphold some sense of control by forcing smiles and pretending that they’ve “got this.” Often students compete with classmates for who got the least amount of sleep or who has the most exams in the upcoming week.

Sacrifices are a big part of college life. We have all seen the “choose two” triangle graphic with good grades, social life and sleep at its points – but once you add health, relationships, research projects, family responsibilities, résumé builders, internships and food, the polygon that results is nearly impossible to juggle. The “choose two” directions often morph into “try your best at all of them until you feel too stressed to cope.” The fact that many students have to work to afford the exhorbitant costs of higher education, and that many are also on sports teams, only complicates the problem.

This is an unfortunate fact of life some of the time, but it is important to recognize that even in these moments of ultimate stress, your mind and body are the most important. They have to push you through the moments of panic, and keep you going for many years beyond what now seems like forever.

And while pushing one-self every once in a while to finish a paper or study for an exam is simply a part of the college experience and an aspect of hard work, doing this all the time or relying on stimulants to push you through your day-to-day is a slippery slope.

If you feel, as a student, that there is absolutely no room in your schedule for sleep at all, you need to reorganize. It can feel like every responsibility you have is the most important – but prioritizing your duties, or even daily to-do lists, can help you realize that not everything is as urgent as it seems. If you feel overloaded, honestly rank your responsibilities from most important to least, considering things like grades, rewards, time and personal enjoyment. If you can afford to, let go of the last one, two or three things on your list, either just for the day, the week or longer.

Be honest with your professors. If you are struggling in a class or with specific material, let them know. Visit their office hours and tell them exactly what you do not understand. Students can be hesitant to admit that they are struggling because they do not want to seem less intelligent or less capable, but the truth is that your professors’ perceptions of you are not you and, honestly, your professors are more likely to find you inquisitive, involved and proactive anyway if you ask for help.

If you are struggling with a serious mental health issue, like anxiety or depression, there are outlets for you. Talking to a trusted faculty member or other adult can be a huge help, but there are also more anonymous options. Campus counseling services are always available if you cannot afford off-campus counseling.

Your mind and your body are essential to your productivity and overall success as a student. If you allow yourself to value trivial things today over things that will exist forever, you will see the negative effects in the future.

Once you graduate college and move on in your career or graduate studies, little things like a single grade on a test or a single game or event will not matter to you. What will matter is that you have a healthy mind and body that you have taken care of and that will take care of you.

Though we live in an extremely fast-paced world that often convinces us that we are only worth what we produce, it is important to take steps back and realize that we are not simply the sum of our parts. As college students (and humans) we are complex, bright people with more opportunities and options than many others.

Check in with yourself, and make sure you are not confusing what cannot be changed with what you can take care of now.

By Gwyneth Navey

Joaquin Phoenix is no joke

The idea is a little weird – trying to put a backstory with the Joker. Heath Ledger’s iconic interpretation without an origin inspired feelings that some evil is just natural to the world. Now, however, Joaquin Phoenix offers a question and a challenge. Is the Joker something that society can create? Director Todd Phillips’s vision por- trays “Joker” in a shockingly realistic and believable way. Simply put, it is a fantastic film, and it could stand alone as a study of character and society for viewers without any comic-book or superhero knowledge.

Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar-worthy performance is what makes this movie work more than anything. Arthur Fleck is affected by a condition that makes him laugh uncontrollably but, even then, he is miserable. Phoenix masterfully displays his character’s inner torment. His posture is contorted. His movements are sporadic, teeth are crooked, even laughing is a painful chore.

Early in the film, Arthur writes in his diary, “The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.” The beginning of the film portrays Arthur as a failing stand-up comedian. He is even beaten up twice in the first half hour of the film. Society expects him to be normal, and Arthur does not see how. Thus, he is tormented with how to be happy. He even states, “You don’t listen, do you? You just ask the same questions every week … ‘Are you having any negative thoughts?’ All I have are negative thoughts.” His relief is a revelation. He finally realizes that the only way to be happy is to let go and embrace inner insanity.

To paraphrase a famous Batman quote: Arthur learns that it is fun to dance with the devil when he is already inside of you. Arthur pronounces his life a comedy and, with a showman’s panache, dances down a flight of stairs symbolizing newly accepted crimes.

In the film, society is an awful place. The rich trod upon the poor. Garbage lines the streets, and work is hard to find. The city is a piece of kindling waiting for a match to ignite chaos, riots and revenge. After no longer trying to be happy in the face of a terrible society, he embraces a place within its dark and desperate confines. In a spilt-second decision on live TV, he takes on the role of a symbol. He is an instigator and inspiration for violence, mayhem and chaos in Gotham.

After all this, what do we do with this film? Is it a call to violence? An example to overthrow organized society? Or might “Joker” be, in and of itself, a response? Slight disclaimer: I do not normally wax religious in my reviews, but I think that this is an appropriate time. I offer the words of Josh Larsen in his book, “Movies are Prayers”: [Christianity holds that] “humanity is hopeless and depraved without the grace of God … In [ a movie like this] there is no God, only sin” (58).

“Joker” is not a call to action. It is a view of reality. Looking at the society and characters in the film with disdain for humantiy is enough. So, in the film, when Arthur Fleck sees chaos and asks, “Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” The answer is no. Humanity has always, and will always, be depraved without God’s grace. Sometimes we need to see and acknowledge the depravity in the world to better understand our constant need for grace, and maybe a movie like “Joker” can prompt us on that revelation.

Movie Facts:

– Director: Todd Phillips

– Staring: Joaquin Phoenix

– Genre: Psychological thriller

– Run-time: 122 min.

– Rated R

– Based on DC Comics characters – Won top prize at the 76th Venice International Film Festival

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck. Photo courtesy of the “Joker” trailer.

By Blake Hawkins

The “scariest” thing about being a college senior

For some college students, the August heat, prospect of autumn and its subsequent “second summer,” means the beginning of unexpected adventures, challenges and rewards that the school year will bring. For a handful of students, though, the year marks the beginning of an end – and a time for reflection.

In an age when many of us knew from a very young age that we would be attending college, maybe because our families were lucky enough to have the money to send us or because we were taught that we would not succeed in life without a bachelor’s degree, this may be the first time that a major chapter of our lives is closing and the next chapter is completely up in the air. There is no longer a guidebook or a script to go by. After 20 years of essentially trusting that those around us knew what was best for us, we are suddenly expecting to know it for ourselves.

1) Many of our friends, and certainly the students we looked up to as role models, are now graduated and moved on. Suddenly we are the ones that others look up to, whether we know it or not. But we are imposters. We still do not have it all figured out. We barely have some of it figured out.

2) For those of us already preparing for the next chapter in our lives by turning in applications, either to other schools or to jobs, our final year at college already feels like it is slipping away. We are wrapping up all our large projects, rarely starting new ones. It becomes increasingly evident that, for the most part, we have already accomplished most of what we will accomplish in college. Sometimes it seems like our whole educational careers have been leading up to this moment – this one complete résumé.

Did we do college right? If we kept our heads in the books, should we have gone out more? Or should we have worked harder for our grades? Could we have achieved more?

3) Soon we will be making big decisions like renting apartments or buying houses for the first time, moving away to new cities, paying much more complicated taxes. Did any of our education prepare us for these steps? Are we supposed to start wearing eye cream now?

4) Unlike generations before us, we have no guarantee that jobs are actually out there waiting for us, even with our degrees. Every guidance counselor and career specialist tells us to “market” ourselves and focus on what makes us “unique” so that we stand out in the stacks of résumés. But what if every student works hard, makes good grades, boasts work experience and volunteers? What if we are just the same?

5) Is that a grey hair?

6) There are a number of people in our lives, friends and family alike, who have not seen us or heard from us since our last graduation. Come May they might be expecting an invitation, or at least a Facebook post, about our graduation. They will only see a tiny fraction of our experience and accomplishments, but we still want them to be proud and impressed.

Sometimes the scariest thing about being on the verge of graduation is thinking that we are alone in the process. The fact that many of our peers have already moved on, and that life as we know it – including our homes, our professors and our work – will soon be left behind is a very lonely idea.

Or maybe the scariest thing is that no one has the answers for us, and that we have to figure them out ourselves. The truth is, even after 15 years or so of schooling that is all supposed to prepare us for this moment – adulting – we still feel lost, as if no one ever told us we would have to do it this way. All the preparation in the world could not prepare us for starting new lives. At least we might take comfort in recognizing that we are all just floating along, all as clueless as each other. Who’s to say the “adults” know what they are doing anyway?

By Gwyneth Navey