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All photos Getty Images - Justin Sullivan; Jason Merritt; Michael Buckner for SXSW; Jamie McCarthy for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon; Michael Buckner; Jason Merritt

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

In Episode 140, Germar gives a very unspoilery review of the new "Ninja Turtles" movie. But first, he's back from Vegas and it was very much time spent in Vegas.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

If Black People Said The Stuff White People Say...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Robin Williams, Rape, and Ferguson

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images
In Episode 139, Germar talks around these topics, from a broader and alternative perspective. But first, Vegas sucks if you're already awesome.

Many people, who think they're smart, will want to respond to this by citing FBI stats. One, the FBI begs you not to use their inaccurate and misleading stats on the site where you found them. Two, all of the stats you'll find are about the numbers of arrests and inmates. Really smart academics work hard to figure out the numbers of people committing crimes. Those studies come to the same conclusions: across the board, racial groups commit every crime at the same rate.

Ferguson, MO

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Ice Bucket Challenge

by Melissa Scott, Writing Intern

The Ice Bucket Challenge dominates social media. Everyone, from Justin Timberlake to Ethel Kennedy, poured a bucket of ice water over their head, then challenged others do the same, or else make a donation to fight ALS.  Once a person or group is challenged, they have 24 hours to complete the task.

Countless videos of people dumping ice water over their heads continue to clog my Facebook newsfeed. #icebucketchallenge.

I only just realized that the Ice Bucket Challenge is purposed for combatting ALS or “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. My confusion about the specific target of the challenge derived from emphasis placed in the videos. Few people explain the challenge’s purpose in their videos. The ones who do, rush through the introduction, eager to list the newly nominated friends and reach the cold-water action. Even celebrities forget this most important piece of the challenge. 

Matt Lauer’s Ice Bucket Challenge--broadcast on the Today Show—did not include a reference to ALS at all. I Googled "ALS" to understand what it was, and to appreciate the seriousness of the disease.

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
In addition to the lack of emphasis on ALS itself, the whole act of the ice bucket dumping is contradictory. The challenge provides two choices: 1) either douse yourself in freezing water within 24 hours of nomination, or 2) donate $100 to ALS research. 

The ALS Association officially describes the rules, “The challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness. Those who refuse to take the challenge are asked to make a donation to the ALS charity of their choice.”

In theory, the freezing water is an incentive to donate the money, since donating could be the more viable and comfortable option of the two, for many people. Those who choose the ice bucket are supposedly choosing not to donate the money. Judging by social media posts, the non-donors make up a sizable group. This is fun, and engaging, but the goal of the challenge is the contributions and awareness, not the viral social media fame.

I won’t deny the ALS Association’s success in raising awareness. The sudden and viral nature of the challenge videos demonstrates this. Those who participate, at the very least, contribute to spreading awareness, even without donating. The challenge-acceptors, who neglect to acknowledge ALS’s importance in their videos, at least spark enough interest in others.  Those others might go on to do the relevant research. 

But I doubt that lighthearted videos and tweets of wet participants smiling and laughing helps their cause much. ALS awareness might be the ostensible aim, but the Ice Bucket Challenge videos tend to feature people promoting only themselves. My reproach quavers, however, when I look at how much money the challenge actually helped raise to further ALS research.

Questionable publicity aside, the Ice Bucket Challenge amassed $4 million over the last two weeks, as opposed to the $1.1 million raised in the same period last year. In fact, ALS Association-wide donations broke a single-day record this week with a whopping $1.9 million! So while the high activity of the ice buckets should indicate that people choose not to donate, the numbers show otherwise.

Some people, like Jimmy Fallon, publicly announced their choice to commit to both options – they get drenched, but still donate. Others, such as President Obama, preferred to donate to ALS and stay dry.  Knowing that this money goes toward treating people with an incurable and deadly disease, has slowed my criticism of the challenge. I’ve decided that the ends justify the means in this case.

A friend nominated me, via Facebook. I’ve already mentally planned the water dumping, and my nominations. I fell into the same trivial trap of staging my awesome challenge, for social media me.  I do plan to donate the suggested $100, and now I understand the benefits of that donation. If the Ice Bucket Challenge trend ultimately helps others, does it really matter if social media frivolity is a by-product?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Marvel Studios
In Episode 138, Germar picks up his best British female filmmaker friend (Aileen McClelland), feeds her, gives her Four Loko, and sticks a mic in her face. They get off track here and there a little bit . . . . But this is still mostly a SPOILER-FREE review of Guardians of the Galaxy. Also covered: Arnold Scwharzenegger; The Amazing Spider-man; Spider-man; Thor; chicken nuggets; Star Wars; and the obvious objectivity of film.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A new Cinderella: Keke Palmer

by Melissa Scott, Writing Intern

Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for BET
“Might see my face on the movie screen, hypnotize you, frame by frame, scene by scene. Staying fly while I keep it fresh, only thirteen and I ain't even close yet” sang a confident Keke Palmer back in 2007, in “Bottoms Up” from her first album, So Uncool. She couldn't have been closer to the truth. The vivacious 21 year old now adds “Broadway original” to her list of achievements.

Announced Monday, August 4, Keke has been cast as the lead role in the upcoming Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella on Broadway. Making the announcement so remarkable is not only Keke’s own stage debut, but one of Broadway’s as well. Keke made history by being cast as the first ever African-American Cinderella on Broadway.

This won’t be the first time a “multicultural” Cinderella has been portrayed. Singer Brandy played the main role, alongside a strong cast including Whitney Houston, Bernadette Peters, Whoopi Goldberg, and Victor Garber in the 1997 television movie. But Keke’s role will be a first for the “Great White Way.”

“I feel like the reason I’m able to do this is definitely because Brandy did it on TV,” Keke told The Associated Press. “In me doing this, it shows everybody that everything is possible.” Keke is also motivated by the opportunity to expand her horizon, and learn more through the new experience. “Theater offers so much more that I haven’t been able to access doing film and TV and everything like that,” she enthused. “I’m very excited to learn all that it has to offer — that focus and that dedication to perform at a certain level every night.”

Keke isn’t unfamiliar with paving an unprecedented path. The young singer and actress also made television history earlier this year by becoming the youngest ever talk show host. Keke familiarizes her talk show, the BET-run Just Keke, by focusing on connecting with her audiences. She addresses public concerns, social issues, and shared experiences in a nonjudgmental forum. On one episode of Just Keke, Palmer led the show by drilling her audience about the slang implications of the word “ghetto,” its place in today’s lexis, and whether its use is possibly harmful to society. In her talk show, Palmer displays hope that she can continue connecting with her generation and open more dialogues for young people to voice their opinions.

Keke’s success shows that if she—having grown up in Harvey, Illinois, a town with a 33 percent poverty rate in 2009—can star on Broadway and host her own talk show, other aspiring individuals can reach their potential too. Her level of maturity, responsibility, and dedication to the world around her is surprising for a girl barely out of her teenage years.

Her success is both prolific and wide-ranging, showing no boundaries in her professional pursuits. In addition to her talk show, since debuting on-screen opposite Queen Latifah—whom Keke now counts as a mentor—in Barbershop 2: Back to Business, she has starred in films Akeelah and the Bee, Madea’s Family Reunion, and Joyful Noise; starred on the Nickelodeon television series True Jackson, VP; released an album with Atlantic Records in 2007; and guest-starred on Masters of Sex.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Not satisfied with changing Broadway antiquity, Keke remains ambitious. In addition to on-screen and on-stage, Keke hopes to have a future in writing. When questioned on a possible authorship in an interview with Hollywood’s Vanity Fair, she commented “I don't know how exactly I would do that but I have so many experiences I would like to share. I've been keeping journals since I was 13. I have about five of them now. And I'd love to somehow incorporate those journal entries in a book.”

The widely known and loved Cinderella character is commonly depicted as hardworking and ambitious. Keke seems to demonstrate those ideals impeccably. She clearly fosters the values of determination and perseverance, so it’s no wonder her casting as the optimistic and devoted Cinderella is accompanied by such excitement and approval. Keke exemplifies an enthusiastic young attitude—constantly pushing for more and expanding and adjusting her goals. It’s this healthy hunger for more that makes her so astoundingly unique. 

But Keke didn’t need a Prince Charming to help her realize her dreams. Instead, she set herself apart by taking action and carving out her own success. Grasping a role as the first ever African American female to land the role of Cinderella, on Broadway, might only be one check mark off of a long list for this young extraordinarily talented woman.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Bieber v. Bloom: Who’s to blame?

by Melissa Scott, Writing Intern

Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Variety
After spending three months as a criminal defense intern, I have a new appreciation for the phrase, “there’s always two sides to a story.” I’ve seen good, bad, and ugly. I found it challenging to assist clients who had committed violent and unnerving crimes. Other times, I felt immeasurably proud to represent clients accused wrongly or unjustly. It’s a rickety role to take on, and certainly a job bounded by blurred lines.

I used the knowledge gained from the internship in this analysis of Orlando Bloom’s recent brawl with Justin Bieber.

As a defense intern, I would first go to the scene of the crime and assemble the most accurate and unbiased account of the occurrence.

Bieber and Bloom congregated at the Cipriani restaurant in Ibiza, Spain, on Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, along with a handful of other celebrities.  The crowd included Leonardo DiCaprio, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Diddy. Bloom made his way past Bieber’s table. Bieber offered a handshake. Bloom refused.

In response, Bieber made a snide remark regarding his own involvement in the alleged infidelity of Bloom’s ex-wife, Miranda Kerr. In an apparent retaliation, Bloom swung a fist aimed at Bieber’s face. He missed. Although Bloom missed his target, that fact merely changes the crime from assault to attempted assault.

Next, I might dig into the dirtier details of those involved.  Is there a history between the assaulter and victim? What was the reaction of witnesses and bystanders? What events may have occurred afterwards as a result of the dispute?

The bad blood between the two stars began with the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.  Bieber was seen getting forward and flirtatious with Bloom’s wife at the time—gorgeous Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr. Bieber and Miranda allegedly partied after the show and sent dirty texts to each other. Reportedly, the fashion show Bieber-Kerr buzz led to growing tension between her and Bloom. The married couple separated in October 2013, less than a year later. Additionally, the newly single Bloom was later seen spending time with Bieber’s incessantly on-again off-again ex-girlfriend, Selena Gomez, in April.

Back at the Cipriani, after the punch was thrown, the restaurant erupted in cheers and claps. Eye witness Spanish journalist Anastasia Skolkova reported, “It was amazing. Everyone stood up and started watching like it was a show and clapping. ... DiCaprio was flipping out.” It seems to be pretty clear what attitude the bystanders had in regards to the confrontation.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Bieber retaliated, as he would, through social media. He uploaded two inflaming pictures to his Instagram: one of a weeping Bloom, and a racy shot of Miranda in a bikini. He deleted both images within an hour of posting them.

Celebrities not involved in the squabble used social media to flash their responses to the event. Joshua Malina jokingly tweeted, “This Justin Bieber/Orlando Bloom thing is the first time I've been interested in a featherweight match.” Stephen Colbert agreed in his tweet, “Orlando Bloom was in LOTR, married Miranda Kerr AND punched Justin Bieber? By my count his monkey paw only has 2 fingers left.”

Someone even created a petition asking President Obama to declare July 29 “National Orlando Bloom Day.” The petitioner asked that Bloom receive the honor for giving Bieber a “knuckle sandwich on behalf of the entire civilized world.”

Usually, victims spark sympathy. But every so often, the assaulter is seen in a better light, and the general consensus is supportive. Bloom may have thrown the punch, but Bieber’s hands are certainly not clean. It didn’t take an actual investigation to designate fair blame in this case.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

OITNB 2 and Stephen A.

Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
 for Paley Center for Media
Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images
Episode 137 is SIMPLY THE BEST! At about the twenty minute mark Germar finally tells you what you should think about Orange is the New Black. But before that, LTC finally somewhat tackles (unintentional pun) the Ray Rice sitch, on the heels of Stephen A.'s suspension. Send all of your hate mail to one of Germar's exes because they will actually open it and appreciate it. But first, awful coworkers are unsurprisingly still awful.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Obviously Gay, Geeks, and Girls

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
In Episode 136, Germar talks about lunch with a soon-to-be-gay teen's father, how his friend came out as a nerd, and being close friends with 50 ridiculously beautiful, superfluously talented, and ultra intelligent women.