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We’ve all heard the criticism regarding social media — that, as a generation, we’ve lost the art of conversation and are too self-absorbed and caught up with our social media accounts to connect with each other. I have to disagree. Social media is not inherently restrictive and isolating; it is the way that you choose to use it that determines how you connect with the outside world. You could just as well isolate yourself by immersing yourself in a novel or movie, so why does social media have such a bad rap among older generations?

Contrary to popular belief, we have not lost the art of conversation, we’ve simply come up with new ways to engage in it. I have a few friends who are international students and use platforms like FaceTime and Skype to communicate with family abroad. Just because the conversation occurs through non-traditional media doesn’t mean we shouldn’t embrace the fact that we are able to stay in touch with people miles away.

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Even class assignments make use of social media to improve productivity. Think of how many of your Facebook groups are dedicated to schoolwork. Organizing meetings in person is not always feasible. Of course, in-person interaction is a different experience and does help you form bonds with people you may otherwise forget about after the course is complete. However, the reality is that a commuter student, for example, would benefit from an online meeting through sites such as Facebook or Google Hangouts as opposed to altering his or her schedule. Rather than try to find a different time and potentially cancelling meetings altogether, social media provides flexibility for everyone involved.

I’m not advocating that all contact be limited to social media, because that would really limit our communication. Face-to-face interaction ensures that body language is visible and can be interpreted. It can be difficult to get the same intuitive understanding of how someone is feeling through emojis and text. Despite the fact that video chat is available, it is certainly not perfect. While it is important to be able to communicate effectively in person, why shun technology that works in favour of those who prefer to convey their thoughts through a different medium? Social media not only offers a platform that can accommodate busy and conflicting schedules, but it also serves as a comfortable space for people with more introverted personalities who might prefer to communicate online. At the same time, what social media allows us to share with others is probably one of its most innovative and valuable aspects.

Contrary to popular belief, we have not lost the art of conversation, we’ve simply come up with new ways to engage in it.

We all know what it’s like to have an indescribable experience. When I try to describe my summer vacation to my friends, I tend to repeat how amazing, fantastic and wonderful it was, but those words hardly capture the experience accurately. Social media platforms like Snapchat and YouTube take words out of the equation and make experiences shareable without overusing clichéd terms to attempt to explain them. Conversation is important, and contrary to popular belief, millennials do engage in it. Yet, the traditional conversation is not always the best way to communicate. Social media gives us the means to communicate beyond words and to share experiences as they happen rather than after the fact. At the end of the day, social media does not hinder conversation if it is used appropriately. Rather, it connects us with people in unique and valuable ways and enhances our experiences of the world as we share them with people across the globe.

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Dear (insert name),

I didn’t believe in love at first sight until I saw you on Tinder. Unlike the twenty-or-so good-looking people I had swiped right before you, I felt butterflies in my stomach when I came across your selfie. Something felt different. Although I’m unsure whether this odd feeling in my stomach was because of you or because of my strict fresh-pressed juice diet, I knew from the get-go that you were special. Now, two weeks since I sent you that coy greeting on Tinder, I am so happy to say that you’re the first person I call when I feel like hooking-up. It’s scary for me to say this but … you’re my main hang.

Looking back, our first date feels as though it was just yesterday. I remember feeling lonely after making gluten-free pain au chocolate at the local café that day. After my then-main hang failed to respond to my text, I decided to hit you up instead. To my content, you responded promptly to my proposition of Netflix and Chill. You took my breath away when you opened the door to your apartment; the interior was so familiar that I thought I might have hooked-up with your roommate before. Thankfully, the similar decor was just a coincidence. I want you to know how much I still think about that day. It was so good – the “chill” part, that is.

I’m so happy to be in a low-key, casual, non-committal partnership with you. It’s amazing to be with someone on the same wavelength. We’re both smart, progressive people. Unlike those who opt for traditional dating and committed relationships, we consider cost-benefit analyses and the low risk, low investment model of hooking up. With the Canadian dollar at the lowest it has ever been, it is imperative for people to be more financially conscious. Can you imagine being someone whose idea of a date is dinner and a movie? The cost-benefit of that scenario is so skewed, not to mention how much time that date would take up. All we do is buy someone a drink at the club and bam-shabam! We’ve sealed the deal. The cost of our “dates” is one drink and maybe an hour at the club, followed by a night of fiscally responsible hooking up. I cannot imagine life any other way, and I am so glad you feel the same. We are definitely what people mean when they say, “meant to be.”

Stability is so overrated. We both want freedom, we want excitement, we want new. And can you imagine the FOMO you’d have otherwise? There is a never-ending stream of singles to choose from. I cannot imagine being with one person for a long time rather than cycling through lots of suitors quickly. That sounds so stagnant. But I’m so glad I’m at this temporary pause with you. You are the perfect person to be temporarily stagnant with.

I know we’re not, like, together or anything but it felt weird to just not say anything so I’m writing you this letter as an indication of how much I enjoy your companionship. There is nobody else I’d rather lie in bed and look at my phone next to at this moment. It’s like I was playing a game of darts at the new craft-beer-exclusive pub down the street; I kept throwing darts and eventually one stuck. That dart is you. You stuck. I can’t see you becoming unstuck anytime soon. Would it be optimistic of me to say that I can still see us together at the end of next week? I know that’s a long time, but that just goes to show how special you are to me. None of the other people I’m flirting and hooking up with right now make me feel the way that you do. I hope that makes you feel special.

This letter really isn’t a big deal and it doesn’t have to mean anything if you don’t want it to, obviously. I’m having a great time just being what we are right now. (Do you want something though? I’m totally open to whatever. It’s chill. I’m cool. If you do though, shoot me a text and let me know. If you don’t, you know. Whatever.)

Anyhow, swiping right on you was the best decision I’ve ever made. Happy Valentine’s Day.

With like,

(insert your name)

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“I’m not a feminist.”

I was shocked to hear the words leave her mouth; I almost didn’t even believe it.

“I can’t tell, are you joking right now?” I asked.

“No. That’s just never a word I would use to describe myself.”

Hearing my mom tell me she didn’t relate to the term “feminist” was a blow to my whole understanding of society. For my entire life she has been the driving force that has taught me that women deserve equal rights when compared to their male counterparts and that I should always take care of myself and never rely on a man — or anyone else for that matter. And she is the one that is always the most disturbed and angry when she finds out I’ve faced sexism in the workplace. Yet for some reason, she wouldn’t call herself a feminist.

My parents, like many other students’, grew up in Canada in the ‘60s and the ‘70s. While they are both racialized individuals and these decades of their youth made headway for movements in civil rights, their greater understanding of things like gender and women’s rights, on the other hand, is slightly tainted with memories of what would have then been considered extremist activism.

Second-wave feminism was sweeping the nation at the time, and if youth were not actively involved in the movement (for a variety of reasons), they were often taught that this was something negative and over the top. Especially for people that were already being treated as pariahs for their skin colour, going into the street and talking about abortion and marital rape just brought up more opportunities for people to mock and abuse them.

The pivotal moments in my parents’ youth were restrained for various socio-political reasons. And because of these reasons, they now struggle with grasping the meaning of these terms in our modern society.

The actual semantics of the word “feminist” have gotten a horrible reputation over the years. And contrary to many a belief, some sampling in a Beyoncé song isn’t going to change everyone’s minds. Often I feel that my mission as a feminist is to overthrow the opinions of the people closest to me in age range, because they “are the future” and we should be focusing our time on them. But the harder mission may be to work with the people who raised me, and to educate people that I feel already know what’s going on, but don’t quite have the history to know what it means in our day and age.

The pivotal moments in my parents’ youth were restrained for various socio-political reasons. And because of these reasons, they now struggle with grasping the meaning of these terms in our modern society.  

When trying to create a society that is truly intersectional, I often forget the important role that age plays. While there are many older citizens who do not stand up in arms in our present-day activism simply because they’re assholes, there are also many who weren’t raised to have the same knowledge and understanding that is being promoted to us today.

When we’re looking to talk to people and to promote diverse causes, it’s important to remember that age is also a point of privilege and the terms and ideas we’re bringing up may take more effort to understand. My mom is a feminist, but she refuses to call herself one because of the time she grew up in. Here’s to hoping our current efforts towards education in feminist activism can start to turn back time.

Photo Credit: Diana Davies

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By: Trisha Gregorio/ANDY Writer

This year’s scary movie season oversees the release of two very distinctive horror films with the influences of H.P Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and Stanley Kubrick all clashing together in the newly released Crimson Peak (directed by Guillermo del Toro), and the upcoming Victor Frankenstein (directed by Paul McGuigan).

Standard horror movie storylines of the past few years have transversed the spectrum of horror movie tropes. Both Del Toro and McGuigan take their films away from these archetypal horror elements to explore a category that has been distant from the spotlight in recent years: Gothic horror.

While many contemporary directors have interwoven Gothic elements into more modern storylines (a shining example of which is Kubrick’s The Shining,) the true core of the genre lies in its Romantic origins: damsels in distress, mysterious Victorian mansions, vampires and the mist-covered countryside. Romanticism was about stimulating its audience with something different, something wildly bizarre in comparison to the rigid Classical norms of the time. Rather than idealize fear, as is the common misconception, the Romantic and Gothic genres instead redesigned it in such a way that it could be embraced.

Crimson Peak perfectly encapsulates this aformentioned “nitty gritty” feel. Del Toro’s film, starring Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska in the lead roles, combines all of those aforementioned elements and is rounded off with dark colour schemes and elaborate costumes to take the genre back to its roots. The same goes for the highly anticipated Victor Frankenstein, set for release late this November. Despite the fact that it’s yet another contemporary interpretations of Mary Shelley’s classic story, it’s looking like it will stay faithful to its stylistic roots and impress viewers with its visual elements.

Though Crimson Peak has come under fire for becoming more style than substance in its determination to stay loyal to its Gothic sensibilities, one thing no one can deny Del Toro does exceptionally well is put elements of traditional Gothic films back into the spotlight, and challenge the norms of today’s horror movie scene. The movie boldly asks what made the Gothic horror film genre so distinct from the horror movies we know today, all while simultaneously responding with its own undermining twist on the classic factors distinctive of the genre.

And the answer? Sure, the Gothic genre doesn’t quite employ the same techniques we are now used to in horror. There are not quite so many jump-worthy scares or possessions. Exorcisms aren’t as likely to happen and scenes of violence and gore are few and far between. But the true horror of the genre, Del Toro reminds us, lies in a much more realistic source.

Instead of restless poltergeists and summoned demons, the Gothic genre entertains the notion of less palpable fears: death, guilt, and for most, the dangers that come with the unknown. Gothic elements stand out in a category of their own, and though Gothic horror doesn’t offer the same rush of adrenaline that movies like The Conjuring do, Del Toro and McGuigan seem keen to prove that the core of the genre is in itself a visual kind of poetry that still somehow manages to highlight fear as the most ancient and most human of emotions.

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Last week, a video about body image appeared on my Twitter feed. “Fact: 97 percent of women have an ‘I hate my body moment’ every day” begins the clip. “That’s a lot of women looking in the mirror, wanting to change something.” The film goes on to call for women to love themselves, a message that I can get behind. Here is the issue: the video was an ad for Special K cereal.

In the past few years I’ve noticed a rise of “corporate feminism”—the use of feminist rhetoric in an attempt at marketing. Despite the potentially positive messages contained within this media, it should not be mistaken for legitimate feminist activism.

One of the most well known examples of corporate feminism is the Dove “Real Beauty TM” campaign. In one video, the ad tackles the way women view themselves. Sketched by an artist, women can see that they are more beautiful than they had previously thought. The video is moving, and as a woman who has struggled with my body image, it had an effect on me. So what exactly is the problem?

The short answer is that corporate feminism doesn’t care about you or me, it only cares about our money. This marketing may be powerful, but in the end it is still an ad, with the end goal not being self-acceptance, but purchases. Dove would be very displeased at the prospect of universal self-acceptance because satisfaction does not sell beauty products. For example, the company is owned by Unilever, which also sells “Fair and Lovely,” a skin-bleaching cream, which capitalizes on white supremacy in the beauty industry. Our ability to love our bodies without the assistance of cosmetics and soaps is Unilever’s worst-case scenario. If we were to whole-heartedly love our bodies, then why would we need shampoo to help manage our split ends?

At this point you may be thinking that it is not news that corporations aren’t perfect. Maybe if the ads are not entirely sincere, then at least they are promoting discussion. Perhaps some change can come out of questionable content if consumers take a moment to think about feminist issues when purchasing breakfast cereal, or a bar of soap. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The problem lies with corporate feminism’s lack of diversity—not just in its media, which mostly features white, able-bodied women—but in its choice of topics. Bonafide feminism is as diverse as its membership; it encompasses everything from conception, to race, to occupation. Corporate feminism instead focuses solely on ideas that can make money, mostly sanitized messages about body image. These are concepts which everyone can comfortably support, but do not address the root of the problem. While great change can come from diverse feminist dialogue, corporate feminism instead fosters a conversational monoculture, one which is not intended to produce anything other than sales.

Furthermore, corporate feminism often misses the point or leads us astray when it comes to meaningful social change. The Dove “Real Beauty TM” video focused on acceptance through appearance, not holistic self-love. The advertisement for Special K cereal had women throwing off the bonds of the patriarchy through physical fitness, which is not an option for many women with disabilities, nor should it be the sole path to self-acceptance. Both campaigns put the onus on women to change, not questioning the societal structures that make us feel the way we do about our bodies. Corporate feminism’s “solution”—through the magic of retail therapy—is also inaccessible to those who cannot buy their way in. It reduces a movement that is meant to be inclusive to one that is only available to those with disposable income.

At its core, corporate feminism is emotional manipulation wielded to divest you from your cash. Somewhere during the production of the ad for Special K, someone in marketing turned around and said, “The majority of women feel badly about themselves. How can we use this to sell cereal?” I don’t believe that self-acceptance is going to come tucked in with my breakfast food, and neither should you.

Photo Credit: Harry Carr

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For the Spring/Summer 2015 season, a variety of fashion houses ushered in a series of fabulous campaigns featuring an unusual selection of models.

Dolce and Gabbana’s nonnas took center stage with black lace and beautifully adorned handbags. On their heads sat elaborate gold and red crowns. The aesthetic of the advertisements was Italian culture meets Spanish matador. Of course, there’s nothing more Italian than nonnas, and arguably nothing more fashionable than Dolce and Gabbana’s creations.

Céline’s campaign featured an ultra-chic and minimalist photograph of 80-year-old American writer Joan Didion. Her oversized glasses and simple black sweater captured the streamlined essence of the house. At Saint Laurent, 71-year-old Joni Mitchell was photographed channeling a 1970s-inspired ensemble, complete with an acoustic guitar and a black wide-brimmed hat.

Although this was certainly not the first time fashion houses used older models in their campaigns, the campaigns have been consistently visually stunning, embodying the aesthetic of the house, while also being culturally relevant. For example, for Fall/Winter 2012, Lanvin featured Jacquie Tajah Murdock, who was 82 at the time. In what can only be described as classic French elegance, Murdock stunned in a jewel-toned dark blue peplum outfit. Her untouchable glamour was the centerpiece of the campaign, which spoke to years of Lanvin’s Parisian charm.

With Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar featuring models like 83-year-old Carmen Dell’Orefice and 84-year-old Daphne Selfe, it’s clear that the industry is beginning to recognize how wonderful diversity in age representation is, both for consumers of the images and the producers of the content.

There is no doubt that representation of diversity in fashion advertisements is certainly a point of contention and a serious issue that reflects a problem in both the industry and society in general. Photoshopped images that erase signs of imperfections on seemingly flawless young models are hardly symptoms of progressive ideals of beauty. The absence of older women in fashion culture and media is part of the harmful paradigm of impossible standards of what society deems as beautiful and desirable.

The images that Céline, Dolce and Gabbana, Saint Laurent, and Lanvin have produced are critical to the inclusion of older women and key to incorporating widespread representation in fashion. The campaigns are not kitschy or campy. They aren’t presenting age as an underlying joke, or putting these women on display to criticize. The campaigns are stunning and genuinely speak to both the models and the fashion house. These women are not only beautiful, they are cultural icons.

Most importantly, these advertisements destroy the culturally engrained narrative that older women are not fashionable. Fashion does not have an expiration date.

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Aside from watching Chelsea thrash their Premier League competition, writing is easily  one of my most sacred rituals, in that I let nothing get in the way of my enjoyment of it. Such was the case when my little brother’s impassioned mini-sticks game with his friend disturbed my writing-induced revery two weeks ago, so I packed my things up and walked to a nearby Starbucks to continue my article. Irritated that I had been displaced, I grew even more perturbed when my book review musings were muddled by a conversation that refused to be blocked out by my headphones.

Two bros were having a conversation about the state of music and how the current day output was inferior to that of the past — a point that boring, lazy people make all the time and one that reminds me why I try to never stay in coffee shops long enough to hear others like it.

After bemoaning how music that people make on computers couldn’t rival that made with “real instruments” — at which I stifled a yawn — one of the two, who I understood to make music on his own with a guitar (what a compelling narrative), went on to say that he wasn’t a fan of hip-hop anymore because it had ceased to be a “voice for the oppressed” and was instead littered with references to girls, money, and violence.

While his critique was obviously snobby, what irritated me more was that he cited Public Enemy’s “Don’t Believe The Hype” as a barometer for what good hip-hop should sound like, and even rapped the title to his friend, eliciting an eye-roll from me. This song, he said, was important in how it implored the public to see that things weren’t as great as the government would have everyone think. Rather fittingly, he had no modern-day example to support his point.

Aside from the fact that I consider these kinds of hip-hop “fans” a great bore and a negative influence on the genre, his sweeping generalization still angered me as I walked back home. While I greatly enjoy Public Enemy, I understand that they are so idolized because they broke away from the norms with their gritty production and lyrics (Chuck D’s hatred for John Wayne and his conservative agenda is something I wholeheartedly share). Maybe the guy had written a thesis that dealt with the “oppressed,” but that didn’t give him licence to posit what’s best for them.

I was also angry at how he swept all modern rappers under the rug. Much of the rest of his conversation with his friend dealt with his distaste for capitalist society; maybe if he hadn’t been wanking off into the pages of his copy of Walden for the entirety of 2013, he wouldn’t have missed the release of Kanye’s vehment critic of the same capitalist society in Yeezus.

Kanye is a decidedly mainstream artist based off the length of his reach alone. While Yeezus wasn’t a groundbreaking album for those who already followed the producers that ‘Ye gathered in Paris to make it, the Middle America that he referred to on “Black Skinhead” was put off by both the grating electronic production and angry lyrics that confronted them. Yeezus took the seething anger that white media castigates Kanye for and turned it up “a whole ‘nother level” (*Pusha-T voice*) to a decibel rate that you couldn’t ignore.

The video for “New Slaves” literally premiered upon the face of establishments that didn’t serve to further black status, with it being projected onto the walls of places like Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum. While Kanye’s Watch The Throne compatriot Jay-Z has dealt with racism in passing — “put some coloured girls in the MoMa” — Kanye’s effort was less intent on cleverness and more on getting his message across. The video was sparse to the point that its straight-on view of Kanye resembled a mugshot. The fact that some of these video installations were shut down by police before they could happen was an ominous foreshadowing of the violent turmoil that would come in 2014.

Perhaps the guy might point to Bobby Scmhurda as an example of how rappers today glorify violence. Schmurda’s single “Hot N*gga” was one of the biggest of 2014 and featured the New York MC bragging that he’d been selling crack since the fifth grade. While I enjoyed the one-liners that the song produced — “bout a week agooooooo” — I was also struck by the chilling nature of Schmurda’s revelations about his GS9 gang’s exploits. The lyrics apparently weren’t all talk, as Schmurda was arrested by the NYPD last December. Although Schmurda may have promoted illegal activities with his music, he was rapping what he knew in the same ways that white boys who idolize Hemingway write what they know. Schmurda’s music was a hard-hitting depiction of the life that he was confined to in the hood, and he confessed to knowing no other way of lifting himself out of it than through music.

To take rappers just looking to craft a hit song to ensure a record deal and ensuing escape from their surroundings and hold them up as a detriment to the progress of their genre is unfair and more than a little misguided because many of them use their status to help those still suffering in the conditions they rose up out of.

Perhaps deterred by how his angry comment against George Bush brought the conservative media down upon him, Kanye didn’t show face at Ferguson. But there were other rappers like J. Cole who did. While I don’t harbour too much affection for Cole — his lacklustre bars don’t prove him to be the lyrical messiah some people say he is — there is no denying that his appearance in Ferguson gave its citizens a boost and his subsequent album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, was a reflection of Cole’s life and thus immensely relatable to African-Americans.

Supposed music lovers need to take a step back in 2015 and reassess their feelings towards rap as a genre in order to understand whether their distaste for it is due to an issue of lack of quality and depth (my bone to pick with country music, but that is for another time) or a form of racism that has become subconscious. While we all want to impress our friends, a general rule of thumb if you don’t know anything about what you’re talking about is to just shut up and educate yourself when the opportunity presents itself.

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