Category Archives: Entertainment

“You’ve Got Time”; Time to Revisit

After over a year of living without the women of Litchfield in “Orange Is the New Black,” it’s time to re-examine those beloved characters.

**WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the series “Orange Is the New Black.” Reader discretion advised.**

Source: Jill Greenberg – Netflix

“The animals, the animals…” Fans of the Netflix original series, “Orange Is the New Black,” likely still get goosebumps when they hear the first few words of Regina Spektor’s haunting “You’ve Got Time.” 

The song played under the opening title of the beloved show that ran for seven seasons on the platform. “Orange Is the New Black” has been praised for its complex characterizations of women, addressing the abusive conditions within the prison industrial complex and ICE detention centers and discussing all kinds of social issues such as racism, transphobia and sexual abuse. The final season was released on July 26, 2019. For over a year now, we have been deprived of the resilient, oftentimes hilarious women of Litchfield penitentiary. But are all the characters really as great as we remember them?

It’s time to take a look back at the women who made the show so memorable. All characters will be put into a “block” grading scale: A Block for the best characters, C Block for the not-so-great characters and B Block for the ones floating in the middle. This scale is completely subjective so feel free to disagree with me!

Piper Chapman – C Block

Even though Piper was our leading lady for the series, I couldn’t stand her. She was unbearably privileged and was often the very definition of “first world problems.” When it came to her relationship with Alex, I thought Alex could’ve done so much better. Piper, especially within the relationship, was selfish, bossy and obtuse. She didn’t believe Alex when she thought someone was trying to kill her (i.e. the end of season three), she cheated on Alex and she abandoned her right after Alex’s mother passed away. Yes, I am obviously biased towards Alex but these seem to be the actions of someone who is objectively awful. This is not to say Piper deserves all the horrible things that happened to her; I don’t think she deserved to have a swastika burned into her arm. But, nonetheless, she was an accidental Nazi sympathizer and I think that speaks enough to how unlikable she is as a character.

Alex Vause – A Block

Perhaps I liked Alex so much because she was relatable; she was cynical, sarcastic and laid back (most of the time). Her biggest flaw was loving Piper. While she cheated on Piper with a corrections officer towards the end of the last season, I see her affair as a bit more justified, considering Piper had been released from prison at that point and Alex was all alone and scared. Alex had been disappointed by people most of her life (her father, ex-lovers [including Piper], her “co-workers” within the drug smuggling ring she worked for, etc.) and I see her as someone who just needed to catch a goddamn break. I mean, she had to murder someone in self-defense and cut up the body to save herself from getting life in prison. Need I go on?

Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson – A Block

Talk about needing to catch a break. Taystee was one of my favorite characters from the very first season. Her and Poussey were my favorite comedy duo and when they fought throughout season two…it just broke my heart. What broke my heart, even more, is when she was sentenced to life in prison for a crime she did not commit. If you need a refresher: she was accused of shooting and killing CO Piscatella when the riot at Litchfield was raided but really the riot police (or whatever their official title was…) was responsible for the murder. Taystee tried to fight it in court, was sentenced to life and then tried to appeal her case once new evidence came to light. None of it worked and she ends up serving her life sentence working to better the lives of the women at Litchfield by teaching them about the micro-loans she helped organize in honor of Poussey. Of course Taystee would use her time to help others; that’s who she is. That’s why I love her so much. I’m upset that the writers of the show gave no justice to her. But I know that’s how life is; there’s often little justice.

Nicky Nichols – A Block

I love Natasha Lyonne. Even more, I love Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols. She is the definition of a flawed character but that’s why we love her so much. We know her addiction troubles stem from a childhood full of neglect and sadness. We sympathize with her being in love with a woman who will likely never love her back (Lorna). Or at least, I hope you did. Nicky’s fierce loyalty and biting wit make her one of the series’s strongest and most lovable characters. Her relationship with Red illustrates perfectly how blood does not dictate who our family is. I thought her ending was one of the most poetic and beautiful out of anyone in the series: she followed in her mother’s footsteps. Nicky ended up being in charge of the ICE detention center kitchen, reflecting Red’s leadership and initiative to turn her kitchen into a bright spot in a gloomy place.

Galina “Red” Reznikov – B Block

I really liked Red at the beginning of the series. In the war between Vee and Red in season two, I was all-in for Team Red. However, once we hit season four, Red’s priorities started to spiral. Red was a fierce, unwavering matriarch that no one could touch. But then she started to obsess over Piscatella and became hell-bent on destroying him. I hate to admit it, but she is the reason Piscatella snuck into the prison during the riot and attacked her friends. I’m not saying it’s her fault any of them got hurt; that blame is solely on Piscatella. But, like it or not, she is the one who lured him in. Then, in season six, Red got sucked into the “prison war” mindset and once again lost sight of her priorities. She tried to attack Frieda (who sold her out after the riot) when she finally had the opportunity to see her grandchildren. It was just sad to see her integrity as a character deteriorate. Not to mention she kind of had feelings for Sam Healy at one point in the series, which is disgusting due to his racism and misogyny. C’mon, Red. However, it is very very sad to see her end up in “Florida” (the cell block for the old, infirm and mentally impaired) at the end of the series because of her early dementia. Oh, how the mighty fall.

Gloria Mendoza – A Block

At the beginning of the series, Gloria was a bit forgettable. However, the writers soon gave more weight to her character and we got to see how she really was. She had a rocky start in the beginning, with her beef with Red and her issues with Sophia (which were blown way out of proportion thanks to Dayanara’s mother, Aleida), but Gloria eventually grew to have some very redeeming qualities. Gloria is a fiercely caring woman: she loves her kids, she looked after Dayanara after her mother was released and she would do anything to help anyone. She protected her kitchen staff and took pride in her food in the kitchen. Her and Norma are the ones to thank for finally getting rid of Vee (season two’s main antagonist). In the last season, Gloria risks her release date in order to help the women in the ICE detention center. Unfortunately, she did have that awkward “romance” (if you could even call it that) with Litchfield’s laziest guard, Luschek, but in the end, it is such a joy to watch her get released from prison.

Suzanne Warren – A Block

The writers really asked themselves: what is one of the saddest possible backstories we could give to one of these characters? Then they gave it to Suzanne. Suzanne was in prison because she accidentally “kidnapped” a boy and ran him off a ledge in her apartment. It’s unclear whether the boy survived or not but, judging by how high up the apartment was, he presumably died. Suzanne’s childlike mindset just wanted a friend to play with and it ended up costing her her freedom. That described most of her time in prison as well: she just wanted a friend. Whether it was Piper or Taystee or Vee or Frieda, Suzanne just wanted someone she could talk to and play with. People took to calling her “Crazy Eyes” but it deeply hurt her feelings and was offensive, considering her mental capabilities. Suzanne’s brutal honesty and pure heart won the hearts of viewers all over the world. And won Uzo Aduba two Emmys.

Dayanara Diaz – B Block

Daya’s choices stress me out. She had sex with a guard without protection and wound up pregnant. She then decided to pursue a relationship with the guard who impregnated her and even got engaged to him, even though he disappeared shortly thereafter. She shot a guard at the beginning of the riot in season five. Once in the maximum-security prison after the riot, she became a drug kingpin and started using drugs herself. Despite all of this, I know Daya was a product of her environment. Anyone raised by Aleida Diaz was bound to have some problems of their own. Even though I don’t necessarily agree with Daya’s choices when she was in maximum, I was at least proud to see that she finally stood up to her mother. Plus, I can’t judge her too much on how she chooses to spend life in prison. I have no idea what I would do in that situation.

Lorna Morello – C Block

I’ve heard lots of people say that they don’t like Lorna because of the way she obsesses over men. However, I think that’s completely unfair because she was obviously mentally ill and needed professional help to address her thought processes. I’m putting Lorna in my metaphorical C Block because of her blatant racism. Throughout the series, it could be seen as somewhat humorous and I assume many viewers laughed it off. However, once she’s working in the kitchen at the ICE detention center, her comments angered me greatly and I realized that I would despise her if I knew her in real life. That being said, I do feel sorry for her in the end. She lost her baby, her husband and she ends up in “Florida” with Red. All that pain finally broke her and it’s hard to watch.

Blanca Flores – A Block

Much like Gloria, Blanca was forgettable at the beginning of the series. Then she was portrayed as this humorous wild woman and I started to like her. Then season four dropped and I realized she was a stone-cold badass. She was the one who first stood up the abusive conditions within the prison and she stood on a table for days to fight for the rights of the incarcerated. Putting her in A Block rather than B Block with Red might seem hypocritical since she also helped lure in Piscatella during the riot. However, the last season is driven by her time spent in the ICE detention center and I sympathized with her so much more in that final season. I thought was strong, intelligent and resilient in one of the most horrific situations that can happen to a person. I really respected her and was rooting for in a way I never thought I would when I watched the first season. Also, I thought her relationship with Diablo was so cute and I’m so glad they finally got to be together.

Cindy Hayes – C Block

I never had any major issues with Cindy throughout the series. She was selfish, yes, but she was also funny and seemed like a dependable friend, especially when it came to Taystee. Season six turned all of that around. While I understand that she feared for her life, she was completely in the wrong when she betrayed Taystee and basically framed her for shooting Piscatella. She testified against Taystee in court and doomed her to a life in prison. It was a betrayal that hit deep. Again, I have no idea how I would react in that situation. But I would hope I would be more loyal to my friend and not condemn a human being to life in prison.

Poussey Washington – Her own private, luxury cell<3

I saved the best for last. Much like Judy King in season four of the series, Poussey has a luxury, private cell with flowers and a water seltzer machine in my metaphorical blocking situation. Poussey loved books. She was kind and honest and funny and intelligent. No one deserved her fate but she least of all deserved it. At the time of her death, Poussey finally found a relationship that made her happy. She loved her friends and she was making the best of a bullshit prison sentence. (She was busted for selling marijuana and was sent to prison, further illustrating the ridiculousness of marijuana-related sentences.) Watching her die was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to watch on television. Her death hit hard and it’s an episode I’ve still only seen once after several years. Her spirit and her light inspired a cry for change within the prison and her name was used for the micro-loans Taystee created to give women a second chance on the outside of prison. Poussey was a true friend and brilliant human being. She deserved so much better.

Julie and The Phantoms: Don’t Underestimate This Teen TV Show

Quirky show idea? Check. Diverse characters? Check. Awesome soundtrack? Check. Cute band boys? Triple check!

A show made for teens is always hard to make when it’s walking the line between too childish for adults and too graphic for teens. But, maybe the new teen musical, Julie and the Phantoms is the answer to this problem.

Directed by Kenny Ortega (AKA the mastermind behind the High School Musical and the Descendants trilogies), nothing short of amazing was expected out of this new show, which is exactly what Ortega delivered. The Netflix series is a musical-based supernatural storyline filled with mystery and romance. 

The new Netflix series, based off of the original Brazilian hit show, Julie e os Fantasmas, stars upcoming actress Madison Reyes as Julie Molina.

Julie is a 15-year-old musical prodigy that is maneuvering her way through high school while dealing with her mom’s recent death and the resulting loss of her passion for music.

One night she discovers and accidentally summons the three ghosts (or phantoms, if you will) of Luke (Charlie Gillespie), Alex (Owen Joyner), and Reggie (Jeremy Shada), who were teenage rock stars that died back in 1995, right before they were going to perform the biggest show of their career.

Julie is the only living person (or “lifer” as described in the show) that can see the three guys, you know, in true Disney-esque fashion. Soon after, they discover that the band can actually be seen by humans when they perform with Julie (a twist!). So of course, they decide to start a band. Julie navigates her way through high school drama and crushes while also finding a passion for music again with the help of her new ghostly bandmates.

Credit: Netflix (Left to Right: Jeremy Shada, Madison Reyes, Charles Gillespie, Owen Patrick Joyner)

In this unique Netflix original, there is so much to love. The idea itself is very intriguing in the fact that it has a little bit of everything for everyone. Especially when it comes to its characters.

The cast for the series is one of the most diverse for a children’s/teen’s show that I have personally seen. Having characters with different ethnicities, sexual orientations, and home life dynamics which is one of the best things about this show. It gives its audience of young, impressionable teens and pre-teens the representation that many television shows lacked in earlier years.

Our main character, Julie Molina, is a talented, young Latina that has an incredible passion for music but who’s also struggling to grapple with the expectations of being a teenager. Coming from a newly single-parent household, she is attempting to figure out the new dynamic structure for her family with the absence of her mother.

The band’s kind-hearted drummer, Alex (Owen Patrick Joyner), is the show’s only openly gay character. This is a huge strive in the right direction when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation within shows that are targeted toward young audiences. 

Luke (Charles Gillespie), the guitarist of the band, although not an outwardly diverse character,  goes through an interesting development throughout the series. Towards the end of the nine-episode season, we find out that Luke had left his parents on bad terms before he died due to the lack of support for his music career. Thus, revealing a more vulnerable side of the lovable guy that we first see in the beginning. Having a character have a situation such as this, makes them much more human and relatable to many teens who have gone or are going through similar struggles right now. 

The show’s comedic relief and bass player, Reggie (Jeremy Shada), had been insinuated to have parents that were not very loving and that fought frequently. In one of the early episodes, his parents had been described to have been “one fight away from a divorce” which may resonate quite a lot for many people who have unstable home lives. It has actually been a conspiracy amongst fans that due to the instability of his home life, Reggie has developed a need to cling onto other parental figures to find comfort.

Credit: Netflix

We also get introduced to Julie’s best friend, Flynn (Jadah Marie Johnson). Flynn is a talented, 15-year-old Black girl, who is in the same music program as Julie. Throughout the series Flynn’s character becomes a voice of reason, playing a huge role in Julie’s character development. She remains a prominent character in Julie’s life, so much so that she is actually the subject of one of Julie’s songs in the show, Flying Solo.

As a supportive role, there is Willie (Booboo Stewart), a fellow ghost that becomes tied into the Phantoms’ ghostly adventures. His character provides guidance through the afterlife, becoming a key element in the progression of the story. Although not specifically touched upon in the series due to Willie having less of his backstory revealed, Stewart is known to be of mixed descendants thus translating into his character’s identity.

Additionally, Julie’s father in the series, Ray Molina, is played by the famous Puerto Rican telenovela actor, Carlos Ponce. This is seen as a significant inclusion by the Latinx community since Ponce was a prominent actor within the telenovela world throughout the 2000s and 2010s.

Along with having a huge range of diverse characters, there’s also something else that’s amazing, the soundtrack!

The entire nine episodes of the feel-good, musical series are actually named after the song that is most prominently featured in each episode. Each episode comes with lessons being learned, friendships being tested, and bonds being formed between many of the characters. Music becomes the glue that sticks the entire show together and makes everything work.

Photo credit: Netflix

As the show progresses, we see how Julie’s relationships with her bandmates, friends, family, and her passion for music goes through many different twists and turns. The series soundtrack steers the audience through the dynamic changes in each character’s life.

Photo credit: Netflix

From the Phantoms’ ‘90s punk rock song, Now or Never, to the last song that Julie wrote with her mother, Wake Up, the soundtrack details the vastly different aspects of the show and the journey that the main characters take. 

The songs from the show even become an outlet for the show’s antagonists to reveal their own personalities and stories.

There really is something for everyone in the Julie and the Phantoms soundtrack. 

(As of September 16th, the Julie and the Phantoms soundtrack went #1 on the iTunes music charts.)

This surprisingly deep and meaningful show is one with many different themes and lessons that the characters go through. By having these themes be put into a show made for such a wide audience,  it provides a great platform to talk about subjects that may have been seen as too taboo for tv. But, this show somehow makes these tough subjects much easier to digest and to learn from with the way that it is structured.

Julie and the Phantoms does a good job touching on difficult subjects such as dealing with death, grief, and regret as well as emotional healing with multiple characters. The series tackles teenagers having to figure out who they are and the challenges of finding your identity. During this modern age, the question of sexuality arises and the anxieties that come along with it. The struggle to figure out the way the dynamics of love and relationships are different now when compared to before. Redemption is also seen in multiple forms throughout the series when characters are forced to deal with the consequences of their actions, whether they were intentional or not. 

Family is also a huge aspect when it comes to the relationships within the show. The literal interpretation of this theme can be seen as Julie’s family deals with the loss of her mother, their family struggles in restructuring themselves into a single-parent household throughout the entire season. This theme can be found through the turmoil that was left behind in Luke’s family due to regret and grief being addressed toward the end of the show. But there is a more figurative representation of this theme in how the band sees one another as their new, chosen family that can depend on each other since some of them didn’t have that opportunity when they were alive.

I would highly recommend everyone to go and see what I mean when I say that this show is definitely not something that you want to miss.

Disney Has a Live-Action Remake Problem

The House of Mouse has been remaking their animated classics into live-action films. With recent releases, it’s becoming clear that they were better off as animations.

Disney has released their newest remake, “Mulan,” onto Disney+ for a fee of $30. The reimagining of the 1998 film received mixed reviews. It’s a stunning film to look at, not so much a fun movie to watch. “Mulan” isn’t the first remake to get less than stellar reviews. Last year’s “The Lion King” also received poor reviews from critics, and there’s more. Disney has a problem with their live-action remakes, and we will look at what those problems are.

Some films need a remake, to add a new perspective, to reinvent the story. Other films don’t need a remake because they’re great as they are, “The Lion King (2019)” was one of those films. 

The original 1994 film was near perfection, and there was nothing new to do when trying to remake it. 

If there is no need to reinvent the story, then it should not be remade.

“The Lion King” suffered because it ended up being a shot for shot remake with no emotion. Turns out photo-realistic animals aren’t that great at conveying feelings.

Disney’s “The Lion King (2019) photo via IndieWire.

Lack of emotion is another issue with the live-action remakes.

Remakes require a sense of newness and freshness to justify their existence. Disney makes attempts at this and still fails. 

The consequence of changing too much of the story is that the film ends up lacking any of the heart from the predecessor.

“Mulan (2020)” is the newest culprit. Vanity Fair’s review of the film says it turned out to be lifeless, lacking all the awe from the original 1998 film. 

Disney’s “Mulan (2020” photo via Vox.

They remade the film, but they did not remake what made it good.

In “Mulan”’s case, they removed characters who added to the emotional elements of the story. The axed characters include Li Shang, the Grandmother and Mushu.

They sped through the montage of Mulan going to war. A powerful scene, stripped of all it’s meaning and depth.

“Cinderella (2015)” is a good example of what “Mulan” needed to be. They took away the singing but kept the spirit and charm of the story.

Disney’s “Cinderella (2015)” photo via Variety.

Kudos to Disney for attempting to go in a new direction with the story, but they did not bring honor to this remake.

Half of the time, these remakes are fine, but that’s it. They’re fine. They’re forgettable.

“Beauty and the Beast (2017)” was a pretty and faithful adaptation that served its purpose. Enjoyable for two hours, and then as soon as the credits roll, it’s forgotten. It’s a prettier version of the original.

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast (2017)” photo via IndieWire.

Disney does not like to go too crazy with things, so audiences end up with a safe, by-the-book adaptation. They satisfy for as long as they need to, and then, they exist.

Rolling Stone’s review of “Dumbo (2019)” said the film is too safe and predictable, resulting in the film never taking off toward its potential.

Disney has a problem with its live-action remakes. Either they do not change enough to make it worthwhile, or they change too much and ruin the story.

The Jungle Book” (2016) seemed to be Disney’s peak with adaptation having the highest critical score of them all.

Disney’s “The Jungle Book (2016)” photo via Into Film.

It’s a tough task, but ever since “The Jungle Book,” these films are a hit or a  miss.

I thought “Alice in Wonderland (2010)” was good, but The New York Times says the grim tone, distracting 3-D and awkward fight scenes made for another miss.

Let’s hope Disney gets it right with “The Little Mermaid” adaptation. They’re making a big change by casting a Black woman, Halle Bailey, to play Ariel. Yes, mermaids can be Black. They are fictional creatures.

Thee Houston Hottie

Megan Thee Stallion is an incredible, record-breaking rapper; and she is brimming with other talents.

Source: Variety

Songwriter, rapper, college student, empowering woman, horror screenwriter; these are just a few of the titles that can describe rap sensation Megan Thee Stallion. Megan got her start, like many musicians, on SoundCloud but is now one of the most popular names in music, with hits like “Savage” and her latest collaboration with Cardi B, “WAP.” 

While Megan is quickly becoming one of the most famous women in the world, it still feels like a majority of people only know a few of her songs and don’t know much about her life/backstory. It’s about time for a Houston Hottie history lesson.

Megan Thee Stallion is originally from Houston, as many of her fans already know. Her mother, Holly Thomas, was Megan’s first introduction to the rap scene. Holly rapped under the name “Holly-Wood” and she frequently brought her daughter to recording sessions with her. Those days spent listening to her mother in the studio inspired Megan to pursue a career in music. Megan often attributes her mother as being her biggest influence. 

Although Holly supported Megan’s burgeoning music career to its full extent, she also stressed the importance of her daughter pursuing an education. Megan graduated from high school in 2013 and attended Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas, for her bachelor’s degree.

“I’m the baddest bitch walkin’ round on campus.” – Mustard and Mayonnaise (Make It Hot, 2017)

It was on this campus that Megan first started gaining traction on the internet. Videos of Megan battling her fellow classmates in freestyle competitions began to circulate on the internet and gave some credit to her name. While she was attending Prairie View A&M, she was also chastised for her twerking videos and even had to sit through a meeting with administrators about her “behavior” on campus. Despite her somewhat controversial image at Prairie View, Megan continued to post videos of her freestyling on Instagram. Eventually, she gathered enough praise and fans to put her studies on hold so she could focus on her music.

Megan released some of her first singles, such as “Like a Stallion” and “Stalli Freestyle,” on SoundCloud. Eventually, she released three mixtapes total on SoundCloud: “Like a Stallion,” “Rich Ratchet” and “Megan Mix.”

Her first commercially released mixtape was “Make It Hot” in 2017, with hits like “Mustard and Mayonnaise” and “Last Week in HTx.” “Last Week” was the most popular single off of the album and the music video garnered several million views on YouTube. Shortly after the release of that music video, Megan signed with 1501 Certified Entertainment, an independent record label based in Houston. 

Megan quickly began working on her first extended play, or EP as they are commonly called, after signing with 1501. While working on the album, Megan performed at South by Southwest in March of 2018, her first performance as an officially signed artist. A couple of months later, Megan graced listeners with the release of her EP, “Tina Snow,” in June. The EP received positive reviews, drawing in more and more fans with hits like “WTF I Want,” “Neva” and “Big Ole Freak.” “Big Ole Freak” became Megan’s first song on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 list, debuting at 99 on the list and eventually working its way up to number 65.

“Bitch it’s Tina Snow, they love me ‘cause I’m cold.” – Big Ole Freak (Tina Snow, 2018)

Source: GIPHY

Even though her music career was rapidly taking over her life, Megan never gave up her commitment to finishing her education. After leaving Prairie View A&M, Megan enrolled in online classes at Texas Southern University. In February of this year, Megan told Rolling Stone that she only had a few more classes left until she was finished with her degree in healthcare management. She’s continuing to drop record-breaking music all the while being a part-time college student. 

Megan released her “debut mixtape,” “Fever,” on May 17, 2019. The mix featured collaborations with DaBaby and Juicy J. Notable songs from the record include “Cash Shit (feat. DaBaby),” “Pimpin,” “Realer,” and “Sex Talk.” The mix accumulated positive reviews and was called one of the best albums of 2019 by five different publications, including Billboard, Rolling Stone and Paper. Paper even called it the number one album of 2019.

In the summer of 2019, it seemed like everyone in America was determined to have a “hot girl summer” but no one seemed to know where the term came from. Megan originally used the term in a tweet dating all the way back to April of 2018. In an interview with The Root in June of 2019, Megan defined a “hot girl summer” as “women – and men – just being unapologetically them, just having a good-ass time, hyping up your friends, doing you, not giving a damn about what nobody got to say about it.” There’s the definition, literally from the horse’s mouth. 

Of course, with the catchphrase, came (what I think is) one of the best songs of last summer. “Hot Girl Summer” was a single released by Megan in August of 2019, featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla Sign. The song swiftly rose on the charts, becoming number one on both U.S. Billboard Rhythmic and Rolling Stone Top 100 charts. “Hot Girl Summer” also debuted and peaked at number 11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. In December of 2019, the song became platinum with one million sales in the U.S. 

Source: GIPHY

After her Hot Girl Summer, Megan was gaining more and more recognition and 2020 was, and is, no different. On March 6, 2020, Megan released another EP, called “Suga.” The EP featured incredible tracks, like “Captain Hook” and “Hit My Phone (feat. Kehlani),” but the song that enraptured the teens of America was “Savage.” After TikTok user Keara Wilson started the trend, thousands of TikTok users across the country and the world turned “Savage” into a dance challenge and used the chorus to create creative and sometimes humorous videos. In fact, there was even a “Tiger King” parody TikTok video of someone impersonating Joe Exotic and creating his own lyrics to the song. “Savage” eventually became the most listened to song on TikTok for the month of March with over 7.5 billion plays. 

As if the song could get any bigger, Megan dropped a remix of “Savage” with one of the most prominent names in the music industry and one of her personal biggest influences: Beyoncé. The remix was released about a month after the EP and it became a surefire hit within hours. It became Megan’s first number one song on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 list. It was also number one on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Hot Rap Songs, Rhythmic Chart, and Rolling Stone’s Top 100. The song has sold over two million units as of July of this year. In addition to all those accomplishments, all proceeds from the remix went to Bread of Life Houston’s COVID-19 relief efforts. Thee Stallion and the B can do it all.

“Texas up in this thang, put you up on this game. IVY PARK on my frame, gang, gang, gang, gang. If you don’t jump to put jeans on, baby, you don’t feel my pain.” – Savage Remix (Savage Remix, 2020)

Sadly, Megan hit an unfortunate setback in July of this year. After attending a party in Hollywood, Megan was rushed to the hospital. For a while, the police nor anyone else would release information about what happened. Finally, on July 15, Megan issued a statement on her Instagram that described what had transpired: she had “suffered gunshot wounds, as a result of a crime that was committed against me and done with the intention to physically harm me.” Fans everywhere offered Megan lots of love and prayers for a quick recovery.

However, not everyone was nearly as understanding. Apparently there were people all over the internet spreading misinformation and making the light of the situation, which is unfortunately common when something traumatic happens to a celebrity. When Megan should’ve been recovering and dealing with her trauma, she was instead confronted with hundreds of trolls online.

Source: @theestallion (Megan Thee Stallion) on Twitter

Finally, on August 20, Megan released a series of live videos that clarified the traumatic night. She confirmed that fellow rapper Tory Lanez shot her. She detailed how, even with bullet holes in her feet, she did not want to report her shooter to the police out of fear of how they would react. 

Megan issued her statement because she wanted to share her story, establish the facts of the situation and shed more light on police brutality against Black people. She wanted people to believe Black women for once and to understand that violence against women, specifically Black women, is no laughing matter.

“You can keep hating, I’m poppin’ regardless.” – Captain Hook (Suga, 2020)

While what she went through was traumatic and she needed time to heal, Megan did not let the incident stop her from continuing to climb the charts. On August 7, not even a month after getting shot, Megan released the single “WAP” with Cardi B. It’s safe to say the song quickly became a cultural phenomenon.

The song was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, with many fans praising it for its female-centered sex-positive message. Much like “Savage,” “WAP” became another popular dance challenge on TikTok. Best of all, the song greatly angered many conservative politicians and commentators. Ben Shapiro even went so far as to censor and recite the lyrics to “WAP,” which was immediately ripped apart by many, many people on the internet.

 “WAP” also broke numerous records upon its release. It had the largest opening streaming week out of any song in U.S. history and it was rapidly topped the Billboard Digital Song Sales, Streaming Songs, Hot Rap Songs, and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. The jaw-dropping music video featured some of the most talented women in the music industry including Normani, Rosalía and Mulatto.

Source: @theestallion (Megan Thee Stallion) on Instagram

Megan Thee Stallion is a formidable rapper and musician. This is fact. People know this. What people might not know is that she is also a big fan of the horror genre. In October of 2019, she produced a web series called “Hottieween” in collaboration with YouTube Music. The three-episode series was directed by fellow musician Teyana Taylor and starred Megan as a private investigator. The series featured murder, vampires and lots of spooky energy, all the while being underscored by Megan’s music. It was a beautiful and unexpected project from the Houston Hottie that I, as an avid horror fan, definitely appreciated.

Megan also surprised fans in October of last year by stating that she was working on an original horror screenplay. In an interview with Vogue, Megan shared that she has always been a fan of horror and one of her favorite movies within the genre is Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead.” She also shared, in a different interview, that she would love to collaborate with recent breakout horror director Jordan Peele on her project, something that would make horror fans everywhere scream for joy rather than fear. 

Megan has amassed a lot of respect and attention due to her confident and inspiring demeanor. However, Megan has been through a lot of pain to get to the place she is now. In addition to her traumatic injury earlier this year, Megan lost her mother Holly to brain cancer in March of last year. Megan has opened up about her grief via Instagram Live and expressed to the world how hard it has been to be in the spotlight while going through so much pain.

“Everything that I done been through made me who I am right now.” – Pimpin (Fever, 2019)

Despite her heartbreaks, Megan Thee Stallion rides on. She is committed to creating music that inspires young women everywhere to be confident in themselves, on the inside and out. She is proving to everyone that you can achieve a degree while working towards your dreams. And she is making Houston proud every single day. 

“Boy I know you wanna come kick it out in Houston, Bitch I’m from Texas.” – Last Week in HTx (Make It Hot, 2017)

Need a place where you can check out all of Megan’s top hits? Listen to “Thee Essentials” playlist on Burnt X’s Spotify (made by yours truly)!

Tips for returning to the cinema

This year, going to the movies will require more preparation than just reserving the best seats.

As movie theaters begin to reopen, studios are releasing their new films as a push to get audiences back. On August 28, Disney released “The New Mutants”, it is the latest installment to the X-Men franchise. Followed by Christopher Nolan’s time thriller, “Tenet.”

Many theaters around Austin are marketing these two films as the return to the movies. For some audiences, they are, but it’s important to remember that we are still going through a pandemic. As of now, more movies are on the way, so if you are considering buying that ticket. Please keep in mind these tips to protect yourself.

Wear a Mask.

Photo by Vera Davidova on Unsplash

No matter where you go these days, masks are a must. Theaters will be requiring masks for all audiences, so make sure you have one. Wear a nice cloth mask that fits your face, and even an N-95 mask if you can find one. Disposable masks are fine, but when you’re in a theater for 90 minutes, a more secure mask would be better.

Pick your seat wisely.

Go for a showing in a big theater that’s empty. This will make social distancing easier due to more space. If you can fit a matinee showing into your schedule, those are good too since few people go to matinee showings. When picking your seat, try your best to stay away from the aisles to avoid having people walk up and down beside you.

Avoid concessions.

Popcorn and a movie, a staple for moviegoing, but in times of a pandemic eating in a closed theater isn’t a good idea. If the movie is short, eat afterward. If the movie is long, eat before. Try your best to not eat during the movie.

Drive-in

If you want to see a movie, but you aren’t ready to go to the theater, drive-ins are an option. With the closure of theaters back in March, drive-ins have started making a comeback. There are many in the Austin area including, Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In and Doc’s Drive In Theatre. If you plan to go with friends, make sure everyone is wearing a mask unless you know they do not carry Covid-19.

Movie theaters are not 100% safe yet, and if you don’t think you can be as safe as possible, don’t go. Wait for the movie to go come on video on demand, or drive-ins. Everyone wants things to go back to normal, but we’re not there yet. In the meantime, the one thing we can do is be safe.