Gender Equality in Pop Culture

and everything else too

All the DC Comics Shows!

In Episode 186, Germar talks about the latest episodes of The Flash, Arrow, and Gotham

Germar hosting at theStream.TV!

Watch Marvel's Agents of Shield After Show!

Big Movies

Reviewed

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Indie Film: We Want Some

by Kelsey Barritt, Writing Intern

Writer-Director, Tamir Mostafa
When ordinary relationship issues are put under a spotlight, extreme measures might be taken. This happens in We Want Some, a film written and directed by Tamir Mostafa and produced by Germar Derron. This unique account of a very common relationship debate offers a comedic and exaggerated point of view, while also addressing real issues. Recently, I interviewed the producer. Here, he gives a great amount of insight into the making of this one of a kind film.

The premise of We Want Some branches from an ever-hot topic between couples: sex. When Rob’s (Rich Finley) wife denies him sex for three months, he literally goes on strike outside of his home—picket signs and all. The community soon becomes involved in his business, and this hidden debate is put under a microscope. Derron, who got involved in the film through a creative networking site, laughed out loud several times reading the script, appreciating its intense take on such genuine issues.

When asked about such an extreme premise, Derron makes the argument that the basis for this film is not that extreme at all. He says that long-term couples often lose interest in sex, and don’t even quite realize why. The joy of it simply disappears and it becomes more of an obligation than romance or intimacy. While the measures this character, and eventually his neighbors, take may be extreme, the problems are very real.

This comedic cast is not only unique in talent, but also in just about everything else. Both Mostafa and Derron take pride in their diverse cast of 36 people. Rather than using young, typical model-types, Derron and Mostafa went with authentic people of all ages. Derron says that the diversity actually occurred somewhat naturally, making the film more realistic. Of course, any decision like this also has its challenges. While diversity among the cast was essential, it is a movie about couples, after all. One challenge of so many different cast members was being able to pair people off as believable couples. The size of the cast became a bit of an issue as well. Derron mentions that consistency was difficult, and that the cast changed quite a bit from the first round of auditions through the final wrap on production.


When it comes to the overall production, Derron believes the film actually exceeded expectations, which is rare. As producer, he focused on getting the cast and crew through all of the bumps in the road, and they got through them gracefully. He made sure to mention how the comedic talent and improv skills of the cast added quality to the movie. Derron shares that cast members often offered ideas, including personality traits, actions, and quirks for their characters.

Derron and Mostafa are both extremely pleased with the film to this point. Derron says that millennials especially will appreciate it. The movie injects a very raw humor into mature, adult issues. Anyone who enjoyed movies like The 40 Year Old Virgin or Knocked Up should love We Want Some.

While this film is already making its creators proud, there are still ways to improve it. We Want Some is posted on Kickstarter, the popular crowd-funding website. The film itself is very low budget, and needs money for post-production costs. In order for it to look and sound professional, additional funds are necessary. Anyone can go online to kickstarter.com to help fund this project, and receive rewards for doing so. A trailer is posted online, so potential donors can get a feel for the movie. While the trailer gives viewers an idea of the film’s style, it does not represent the movie in its entirety. The film itself is far more “Hollywood” quality, and documentary-styled.

We Want Some, a fresh look into the usual sex debate, shows what happens when an entire community gets involved in someone’s most personal matters. This peek into very relatable relationships should be fascinating.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 2 Episode 15 Review and After Show "One Door Closes"

War comes to Coulson’s doorstep in a way he never anticipated as shocking revelations are brought to light, and Skye struggles to control her new abilities but will soon make a decision that irrevocably changes her life.


Walking Dead Girls and Privilege

Gene Page/AMC
In Episode 196, Germar provides the best ever Walking Dead related verbosity. Then, he wraps up the wrap up of the fourth season of HBO's Girls. But first, some crazy lady sat with a woman and her child and got spat on and beat down. What was that all about and who was at fault? You are--you're at fault.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Indie Music: bitter's kiss

by Germar Derron

bitter's kiss is the project I always wanted to produce. I apologize for making each music review about me. It's hard to not feel attached to these artists, when I worked the indie scene as a producer, engineer, songwriter, and manager for much of my life. I applaud the time and effort, thought and hard work that goes into a project like this one. Yes, bitter's kiss is an amazing listen, but it's also a more complex project than it seems, or sounds.


Obviously, Chloe Baker's vocals drive this entire project. And though her vocals may be niche, and comparable to many other artists--that sound is flawless. I played my favorite track, "Love Won't Make You Cry," without warning, in a room filled with singers, songwriters, and musicians. In unison, they asked "what's that?" They loved it. I thought they might. I don't think she could shine brighter than she does on this track. If she can, it may be a bit too much for me--blinding.

Each track plays consistently sparse and light, while remaining whole--complete. It's a tough trick to pull off. To do that, you need more than a perfect vocal performance. The mix, production, arrangement, and performances have to be equally perfected. It's a trick that I never mastered as a producer and engineer. Regularly, I bet on the best vocal talent, recording, and treatment carrying a song or album. It never worked. The lack of a real band, rehearsals, a solid composition, and professional musicians was easily apparent. Here, it all comes together.

If there is one problem with the project, it all sounds the same.  And with that vocal and style, it would all sound the same. The “same sound” critique always reminds me of an old Coolio quote. Apparently, a record label exec once said, “this sounds like a typical Coolio album.” Coolio responded, "who am I? I'm mother------- COOLIO!" Even though bitter's kiss's songs all sound similar, each song remains distinct. They sound purposeful, consistent, non-arbitrary, and not contrived. Oh, and the lyrics work too.

bitter's kiss earned a spot in my rotation. And "Love Won't Make You Cry" will be my favorite song for awhile.

The Divergent Series: Insurgent

by Melissa Scott

For the most part, I've had my fill of the YA dystopian genre. I enjoyed it while it lasted. The Hunger Games provided a riveting “take down the government” sentiment, and the idea of a female heroine rising as savior and leader for all--coupled with gorgeous, love struck men. But that fever dwindled. When Insurgent was announced, familiarity drove my desire to see it.

I admit that Divergent surprised me; I enjoyed the story-line and found myself impressed by Shailene Woodley’s acting, especially in her first major role. Theo James proved he could act just as stunningly as he looks, and the supporting actors (Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller) worked well with Woodley. So I thought I’d at least pay tribute to the first movie’s decent showing, and give the second a fair chance. And while Insurgent once again exceeded my expectations, it was a clear step down from Divergent, and secured my indifference for the YA dystopian film.

Returning to a post-apocalyptic and rundown Chicago, Tris (Woodley), her boyfriend Four (James), her brother Caleb (Elgort), and on-again-off-again friend Peter (Teller) crash into the scene as fugitives on the run. Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off: society’s divided into five factions (Erudite, Abnegation, Candor, Amity, and Dauntless), each representing the main virtue and value of its name. Cold and calculating, Jeanine, (Kate Winslet) reaffirmed as the factions’ leader, meets any conflict or threat to her perfectly divided system swiftly (usually death by gunfire, a recurring note of violence throughout the film). As the classic YA dystopian heroine, Tris fully embodies this threat as a Divergent—one who fits into more than one of the five factions, and thus is uninfluenced by the various serums Jeanine’s government used to control the factions.

Now, Jeanine hopes to open a mysterious box, which holds the “secret message” for society. Developed as a time capsule from the ancient faction leaders, Jeanine believes the message will confirm the evils of Divergents, and publicly condemn them. The only problem is that Jeanine needs a Divergent to open the box—and not just any Divergent. She needs one who can pass five simulation tests, one from each faction. I’ll give you three guesses who it is. (of course it’s Tris)

The rest of the movie is fairly, I mean entirely, predictable—but satisfyingly flashy and grandiose. Caleb and Peter betray Tris and Four and join up with Jeanine (they did this is the first movie, so—yeah, predictable). After a few intense flare ups between Four and his dad, and then Four and his mom (because what else would shout “young adult” without some parental conflict and disappointment), Tris and Four hideout with other fugitives, jumping from faction to faction. They work to form a plan and build up an army for a revolution against Jeanine. Meanwhile, Jeanine forces Tris to turn herself in, after killing Tris’s friends and threatening to continue the tirade. Tris undergoes the trying simulations of the box, obviously succeeds with remarkable courage and selflessness through all of them (she is the chosen one, after all), and eventually manages to open it. Despite Jeannine’s expectations, the box’s message applauds Divergents, naming them essential to the fabric of society, and urges all to venture forth “outside the walls” to a new era. That’s how Insurgent ends—literally a mass exodus of the factions running toward the outer borders of Chicago. Hurrah for the YA dystopia.

The plot of Insurgent was painfully dull, but at least the movie’s budget salvaged the audience’s attention. According to Forbes.com, about eighty-five million dollars were spent on the film, and it’s clear the money wasn't wasted. In addition to impressive and well-choreographed fight scenes, rescues, escapes, and surrenders, the movie excels in virtual reality features. Much of the movie transpires through Tris’s simulation--the post-traumatic dreams she suffers. While Time’s review deems the graphics excessive, I think they are just the right level of extreme. With a generic and frankly un-creative plot, Insurgent needed the extra bangs and whistles. Placing it second to Inception in virtual spectacle, the clashes and clatters through one virtual plane to the next made Insurgent memorable—when it otherwise would have barely scraped mediocre. 

The script was cringe-worthy (Four actually compliments Tris at the end with an embarrassing “You did it!”). But the acting helped to balance the disappointment; Woodley was strong and defiant. Her vehement cutting of her hair into a rebel pixie style could have been cheesy and laughable, but she generated respect and upheld the fiery and almost callous personality needed for a dystopian heroine. Both Elgort and Teller deliver appreciable humor. While James disappointingly shrinks from his place in Divergent as the misunderstood yet exceptional warrior, to smitten protector of Tris in Insurgent, he nevertheless seizes attention whenever he docks the scene.

Insurgent holds its own fairly well, but there’s no getting around the chronic dystopian novel/film boundaries. The special effects and acting are superb, but only manage to pull the movie out from its self-digging hole of monotony. If you want to sit back for two hours and enjoy some well-enhanced graphics, I’d recommend it—but don’t expect much more than that.

RHOA Review and After Show Season 7 Episode 19 "Drama Detox"

The women travel to the Philippines. Everyone is in attendance except NeNe, who has chosen to work on her upcoming role for Broadway. Phaedra opens up to Claudia. For once, there seems to be peace and positivity throughout the group...that is, until dinner time.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Get Hard and Other Whites with Blacks

In Episode 195, Germar digs into the new film Get Hard (at 19:00), starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. But first, those stupid "real" articles about the reasons for black men dating white women are back on Germar's Facebook.  He addresses this topic for hopefully the last time, but probably not.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What We Do in the Shadows and Flarrow

In Episode 194, Germar covers Facebook idiots, a new mockumentary in theaters, and the latest episodes of The Flash and Arrow. This may be the BEST. PODCAST. EVER.

Indie Music: The True Groove All-Stars "Fully Re-Covered"

by Germar Derron

I sense two projects here, or projects from two different periods. That considered, the album flows well. But I do strongly prefer one project to the other. "Project A" sounds more modern (though not current); it features "Relax." "Project B" features a dated sound that likely stunts the potential of the project. 
Lael Summer
Covering songs is risky business. There is no right answer. If artists stick to the source, then maybe the cover was unnecessary. If artists drift too far from the original, fans won't be happy. But artists are also fans. We love to honor the music, bands, and artists that fuel us. I appreciate that the songs here are an eclectic mix and not necessarily Top 40 anthems. The featured artists, without apology, recorded their own interpretations; good.
Tomas Doncker
My only problem with the project concerns something that will make every musician groan. It's not "radio" enough. "Project B" especially sounds like the best musicians, in a serious jam session at the local bar, small amphitheater, or garage. I miss the hard compression, extreme EQ, effects, "sheen," and "polish." I believe you can hardcore crunch a track, while retaining dynamics, balance, and overall musicality. Maybe a remastered "Recovered" album is what I need. Whatever the arguments are--about genre, style, or preference--this is a sound that we've grown accustomed to for almost two decades. The talent shines, especially the instrumentalists, but this mix sounds like Stevie Wonder in the '80s. 

"Relax," featuring Heather Powell, is flawless. Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman," featuring Kevin Jenkins, is a surprise gem. "What's So Funny," as covered by the Tomás Doncker Band, recalls a sitcom theme from the late '80s through early '90s. I mean that as a compliment. Those songs remain etched in our memories for a reason--they're good. So producers take note. For the next Goldberg-like show, your theme song is ready. Let's get some artists paid. "Wires" is another strong addition from my hypothetical "Project A." 

This album adds nicely to the True Groove catalog, but a bit more Hollywood sparkle would go a long way.

The Nice Guy Syndrome: it's not what you think

by Sofia Squittieri, Writing Intern

noguiltlife.com
Elia Kazan—film and theatre director as well as producer, writer and actor—said, “I used to spend most of my time training to be a nice guy so people would like me.” The acting community recognizes him as one of the masters of what is called “The Method.” Method actors need to have a high degree of self-knowledge and criticism. Kazan has this. When he says “I,” he means “we.” We want people to like us. I imagine everyone feels this—some much more intensely than others.

Dr. Glover—a psychotherapist who specializes in this area—states, “If I can hide my flaws and become what I think others want me to be then I will be loved, get my needs met, and have a problem-free life.” This is how he describes the “Nice Guy Syndrome”—this behavior taken to the limits. All of us, as “Nice Guys,” rarely express ourselves sincerely. We repress what we really feel so that we don’t upset the other “nice guys.” We don’t ask for what we want, or know how to say “no.” We avoid tense situations, and conflict. These behaviors live in us.  But why is this considered unhealthy behavior? “Nice Guys” forgo autonomy and agency, swallow their emotions, feelings, and even principles. This way of being promotes stress, and reduces self-esteem. Those consequences are undeniably unhealthy. 

But not everyone believes this behavior is unhealthy. Avoiding confrontation and “people-pleasing” can definitely have positive results: l000 Twitter followers, hot dates, or free drinks. And this positivity is as superficial as it sounds. It could equate to “frenemies” and no real social life which might fill that emptiness we feel inside.

Furthermore, dramatist Harold Pinter—Nobel-prize winner—wrote a play called A Night Out in which its main character, Albert, is an exaggerated version of Dr. Glover’s “nice guy.” I’d call him a “really nice guy.” He is repressed, and alienated by his mother, who he could under no circumstance displease. He ends up liberating all of his repressed feelings with a prostitute in her flat, nearly killing her and believing he killed his mother—his hidden and unconscious wish. As we all know, theatre—as well as film—reflects human conflict and imitates reality, to the extreme. Pleasing the other–taken to the extreme—could have fatal consequences.

In one real case, “Sarah” suffered the fatal consequences of the Nice Guy Syndrome. She worked as a lawyer in a top-tier Sydney firm. Attempting to please everyone left her drowning in her own work—as well as her colleagues’ work. “Experiencing negative feelings . . . made [her] overeat.” She gained weight. As a self-confessed people-pleaser, she underwent treatment. This testimony best illustrates and proves that Elia Kazan was right: being thenice guy” can be harmful.

It seems contradictory that the search for a problem-free life compels us to behave this way. Psychologists say that this comportment ends up in pleasing no-one because we will never please the other, who will always demand more and more. And we’ll never satisfy ourselves because we are trying to please the other. There’s no point in acting as “the nice guy,” unless it is to achieve a particular aim in a particular moment in one’s life. But it is very difficult to say “no” and to express feelings without being afraid of the other’s response.

Lawrence Sullivan, master chief of a major petrol firm, answered to an interview about how he had achieved his success. He said that he never did anything he did not really want to, and did not think of trying to please anyone. However, the unconscious mind is more powerful than the conscious, and what we think is not always what our inner-self expresses (often the opposite). Accompanying the interview was a photograph of him. He wore an ambitious suit and his posture was clearly the result of an intensive study of his anatomy. His wearing of the suit was not a comfort decision, but an attempt to present a good image—to please the readerstrategy. This proves that no-one escapes from trying to like or please. No socialized man escapes society.

Elia Kazan put it into words, but he spoke for us. We try--hard, even when the effects are harmful to ourselves. The effort each of us makes varies. It could be represented through a continuum. This means that to a greater or lesser extent, we all care about pleasing.

 
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