Category Archives: Pop Culture

The 2014 Tumblr Revival

Certain objects have the power to take us back to specific moments in our lives. Popsicles and grass stains may remind you of playing with your childhood friends in the summer, or the smell of chocolate chip cookies might remind you of your grandma. American Apparel tennis skirts, Doc Martens and Arctic Monkeys? 2014 Tumblr. 

It seems like every month, a new trend surfaces on the internet. Over the past year alone, there were countless internet trends like cottage-core or 2000’s style clothing. Although most trends are a repeat of previous styles from decades ago, like 80’s mom jeans becoming popular in 2016, many current trends have started to draw inspiration from the last few years. With TikTok as the main source for these trends, the time periods from which the inspiration is being drawn has gotten more recent and niche. TikTok’s latest victim? 2014 Tumblr aesthetics. 

If you ask anyone ages 18 to 28 what 2014 Tumblr culture reminds them of, you’ll probably get the same answers. Flannels, black and white album covers and nonsensical “deep” quotes were all pillars of this time period. Countless hours were spent endlessly scrolling through Tumblr, reblogging Lana Del Rey quotes or grainy photos of city skylines. Although many of us who were active in the 2014 Tumblr subculture reminisce fondly about it, no one can believe that seven years later it would become trendy again. Here are three ways that I believe 2014 Tumblr culture will make a comeback:  

Clothing

Fashion is one of the biggest ways I believe we’ll see a revival in 2014 Tumblr aesthetics. When you look up “2014 tumblr outfits,” you are bombarded with tennis skirts, knee high socks and Doc Martens. Each of these items was a staple within the community, and can be seen making a comeback right now. If you sit along Speedway, almost every other person you see will be wearing one of these clothing items. 

Music 

Music was a large part of the 2014 Tumblr culture. Arctic Monkeys, Sky Ferreira, Marina and the Diamonds, The 1975, Lana Del Rey and Lorde were just a few of the coveted musicians/bands that were popular during that time. With the release of a new Lana del Rey album and rumored comeback of Sky Ferreira, it’s hard not to feel like there will be a revival of popular 2014 musicians.

Attitude

For many pre-teens and teens, Tumblr was used as an act of self-expression. Communities were created within the platform that catered to all interests. In particular, a large portion of the 2014 Tumblr community found their niche in grunge clothing, indie music and black-and-white grid patterns. Now on platforms like Tiktok, teens are creating their own spaces for self-expression– similar to Tumblr. 

The 2014 Tumblr revival won’t be a carbon copy of what some of us remember from seven years ago, however, I think that there will be tons of parallels in clothing, music and attitudes. Newer generations will put their own spin on the aesthetics that so many of us grew up on. In the meantime, I think it’s safe to say that you can bring out your Doc Martens, American Apparel tennis skirt and press play on A.M. by the Arctic Monkeys!

Movies We’re Anticipating This Fall

For the past year and a half, I’ve eagerly anticipated going back to the theaters. Quarantine made me miss the overpriced popcorn and freezing temperatures that movie theaters had to offer. Although several theaters opened their doors again this past summer, I wanted to save my first experience back in the theater for a good movie. I mean, the last movie I watched in theaters was Little Women — what could top that? As more movies are being released in the upcoming months, here are some of my top picks for movies I can’t wait to see!  

Dune (in theaters)

Adapted from the 1965 sci-fi novel, Dune follows Paul Atreides, the son of a noble family, and his journey to protect the valuable planet Arrakis. Starring Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya and Oscar Isaac, Dune is full of your favorite Hollywood actors. Dune is currently out in theaters and available to watch on HBO Max. 

The French Dispatch (in theaters)

Set in a fictional French city, The French Dispatch follows an outpost of American journalists and the stories they publish in their newspaper. Like all other Wes Anderson movies, you can expect an interesting cast, offbeat characters and colorful sets — what’s not to love?

Last Night in Soho (in theaters)

After being transported into the body of a 1960s nightclub singer, Ellie realizes that her life isn’t all that it appears to be. Starring the beloved Anya Taylor-Joy, Last Night in Soho is the perfect psychological thriller for fall!

Eternals (in theaters)

As the newest Marvel movie, Eternals tells the story of immortal beings who have lived on Earth for thousands of years that reunite to fight the evil Deviants. Directed by Chloé Zhao, Eternals is expected to be an unconventional Marvel movie. Did I also mention it stars Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Gemma Chan? 

Passing (November 10) 

Based on the 1929 novel, Passing follows the lives of two mixed-race childhood friends as they struggle with race and identity in 1920s New York City. Although black-and-white movies have a reputation for being boring, I expect Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga to give an incredible performance! 

King Richard (November 19)

Based on the true story of Serena and Venus Williams’ upbringing, King Richard follows Richard Williams and his unconventional methods for raising two star athletes. As a fan of the Williams sisters, I’m excited to see how the movie portrays their childhood.

House of Gucci (November 24)

House of Gucci tells the true story of Maurizio Gucci, head of the Gucci fashion house, and his murder. Starring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver and Al Pacino, I can’t wait to see the dazzling outfits and dramatic portrayal of the Gucci family. 

Licorice Pizza (November 26)

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza follows a boy and girl as they fall in love in 1970s California. This coming-of-age comedy will be the actorial debut for Alana Haim, from the band HAIM! The movie will have a limited release on Nov. 26 before being distributed worldwide. 

With all of these movies coming out over the next month, I can’t decide which I want to watch first — Dune or The French Dispatch. Regardless of what I choose, all of these movies are guaranteed to be worth your while!

Featured image by Valerie Aldana

Why “Over the Garden Wall” Should Be On Your Fall Watchlist

As we ease into the fall season, there’s nothing better than cozying up on a chilly night to watch your favorite movie or television show. While most of us will watch Coraline, Harry Potter or Gilmore Girls, I think a new TV show should be added to your fall watchlist: Over the Garden Wall. Even though it came out in 2014, it is still relevant today to UT students looking for a fall go-to show. 

“Watching Over the Garden Wall felt like walking outside on a crisp fall day and stepping on crunchy leaves. The colors and music were perfect for the fall season,” said Melanie Chapman, freshman civil engineering student. 

If you’re still on the fence about watching the show, here are five reasons why Over the Garden Wall is a perfect fall watch: 

1. Soundtrack 

Reminiscent of pre-1950s jazz and folk, the Over the Garden Wall soundtrack is a mix of warm melodies and showtune-esque songs. Each song will have you singing along or running to add it to your fall playlist — or maybe both! 

2. Characters

The characters in Over the Garden Wall are easily the best part of the show. Overly anxious Wirt and his naive step brother, Greg, make a hilarious and heartwarming pair. The show is filled with so many memorable characters. Pumpkin people, frogs in 1920s attire and a heartbroken school teacher are just a few of the eccentric characters in the show. 

3. Length

Over the Garden Wall is the perfect length for binge watchers and casual watchers alike. Each episode is only 10 minutes long, so the total run time for the series is only an hour and forty minutes. Whether you binge the whole series at once or watch an episode in between classes, Over the Garden Wall does not disappoint! 

4. Plot

Set in a mysterious forest called the Unknown, Over the Garden Wall follows two brothers on their journey to escape the forest while avoiding the ominous beast that stalks the two on their adventure. The pair is accompanied by a talking bluebird who helps guide them to a woman who can help them get back home, but as they move through the forest things aren’t as they seem. 

5. Fall Themes 

Over the Garden Wall feels like a warm drink on a chilly night. The show is able to balance a very lighthearted, whimsical theme with mysterious and dark undertones. Beautiful colors and picturesque scenery also adorn the show— perfect for the fall season. 

Overall, Over the Garden Wall is a beautiful, heartwarming show that needs to be on your watchlist! The soundtrack, characters, length, plot and fall themes have earned the show its place amongst staple fall watches. Want some more fall show recommendations? Check out  our recent Instagram post!

Featured image courtesy of Over the Garden Wall, S1 E1 on Hulu

Why Marvel Fans Are Raging About “What If…?”

“I observe all that transpires here, but I do not, cannot, will not interfere,” is the iconic introduction of The Watcher who instills Marvel fans with excitement in each episode. What If..? is the new anthology series based on Marvel Comics and is the fourth television show in the Marvel Cinematic Universe produced by Marvel Studios. 

Marvel fans are raging over What If…? because it touches on monumental events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, warping them into different outcomes in alternate timelines of the multiverse. What’s groundbreaking about this series is that a different event is explored each episode leaving the audience eager to know what situation will be tackled next. Everyone has that thought in the back of their minds when watching a film or TV show that goes, “I wonder what would’ve happened if this character made a different choice?” 

Originally, the What If…? comics made their debut in 1977. In April of 2019, Disney and Marvel officially announced it would be a series. In the past, Marvel Studios discussed potentially producing something involving the What If…? comics, but decided not to do so until after the Infinity Saga wrapped up so they would have enough storylines to create alternate outcomes for. 

Photo courtesy of “What If…?” S1 E1

The writers behind the masterpiece examined each and every one of the MCU heroes to determine “what makes them tick.” The writers wanted to make sure a build up of story potential was behind each episode and storyline to truly unravel who is the hero behind each “shield.” 

A.C Bradley said, “The first question was never ‘what if’— the first question was, ‘where is the heart in the hero?’ Where’s the humanity in these iconic characters that we’ve all spent so many years watching on screen and growing up reading comic books about? How do we get beyond the shield? So, with Peggy Carter it was as simple as, “she was a woman in the 1940s who said I’m staying in the room,how is that going to change the world?” 

I interviewed Hermino Mendez, a Radio Television and Film major at UT to get the inside scoop on what UT students think of the series.. 

“I love when Marvel changes up the game,”Mendez said. “Morally grey characters are intriguing to me. What I really love about What If…? is that it strays away from the ‘expected’ Marvel formula that a lot of viewers are used to.” 

Mendez’s answer makes it clear that Marvel fans were yearning for this all along. 

“What I find really cool is that there is an existing curated universe that the directors and writers of the episodes can do an alternate take on. I found myself pondering different scenarios in shows.  I feel like all fans make up these concepts inside their head. It almost feels like an alternate take on history itself since there is so much rich lore and history existing in the MCU.” 

What If…? is a series everyone should take the time to watch or even just know about! It’s a revolutionary take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a great way to get people invested in what has been 10 years of movies and decades of comics. As Mendez said, “but what if a character did this instead of that is something that’s never been done before.”

Olivia Rodrigo’s Inspirations and Parallels

With its perfectly balanced bridges, feelings of teenage nostalgia and varied influences, Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album “Sour” struck a heavy chord with both Generation Z and Millennials.

Released in May 2021, “Sour” explores themes of adolescence, young love and heartbreak. The album broke the Internet for its relatability. It is important to note some of the major inspirations, parallels and references scattered throughout the albums. To celebrate Rodrigo’s debut album, I put together a list of some of her inspirations and parallels.

Sound Comparisons

In the early days of the album’s release, Twitter users pointed out three obvious song similarities: “deja vu” and “Cruel Summer” by Taylor Swift; “good 4 u” and “Misery Business” by Paramore; and “1 step forward, 3 steps back” and “New Years Day” by Taylor Swift. I would add the way Rodrigo sings the chorus in “1 step forward, 3 steps back” sounds reminiscent of “Six Feet Under” by Billie Eilish. 

However, it is important to note the use of interpolation in these tracks, in which an artist uses a melody from an original song into a new piece of work by recreating it note for note. Learning about these song comparisons pushed me right down the rabbit hole of other songs with lyrical similarities and parallels.

Lyrical Similarities

In the first verse of “favorite crime,” Rodrigo sings from the perspective of someone being ‘buried’ by someone they once loved and trusted. These lyrics reminded me of “my tears ricochet” by Taylor Swift from her 2020 album “Folklore.” In an Instagram post, Swift explained how the song tells the story of an “embittered tormentor showing up at the funeral of his fallen object of obsession.” In the song, she sings, “you wear the same jewels that I gave you as you bury me.” To me, these songs are related to a mother-daughter relationship, which is ironic because both songstresses have jokingly referred to each other as mother and daughter.

Even though this next comparison involves Taylor Swift once again, it is impossible to not point out. They are two songs about young and painful heartbreak: “enough for you” by Rodrigo and “Dear John” by Swift. In the chorus, Swift sings, “I see it all now that you’re gone / Don’t you think I was too young to be messed with? / The girl in the dress cried the whole way home.” 

In the bridge of “enough for you,” Rodrigo sings just as emotional and a bit angrier with the lyrics:  “Don’t you think I loved you too much to be used and discarded? / Don’t you think I loved you too much to think I deserve nothing? / But don’t tell me you’re sorry, boy / Feel sorry for yourself / ‘Cause someday I’ll be everything to somebody else.”

Also in “enough for you,” Rodrigo sings about wearing makeup to please an ex-lover. It is similar to Swift singing about high heels that an ex-lover didn’t like in “Begin Again” from her 2012 album “Red”, which will also be re-released in November as Red (Taylor’s Version).

In another heart-aching track, the feelings of betrayal in “traitor” are nostalgic of “Burn” from the American Broadway musical, “Hamilton.” I didn’t completely understand this comparison until I listened to a mashup of the songs on YouTube and have not known peace since. The lyrics feel most related when Rodrigo sings about “brown guilty eyes and little white lies,” while Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton sings about “sentences border[ed] on senseless…paranoid in every paragraph.” It is almost like the comparison of “favorite crime” and “my tear ricochet,” except Rodrigo sings from a younger perspective, while Soo sings from a more grown-up perspective.

Parallel Storytelling

When I listened to “Sour” on the night of its release, I cried on the floor of my bedroom to the final track, “hope ur ok.” In the song, Rodrigo reminisces about old friends who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Though she’s no longer in close contact with them, she wishes them the best and reminds them of how proud she is of them today.

In the outro, she sings, “I hope you know how proud I am you were created with the courage to unlearn all of their hatred.” The song’s message alludes to the story of “seven” by Taylor Swift from “Folklore.” Similar to Rodrigo, Swift reflects about childhood friends with unhappy lives at home. Except Swift focuses on her innocence and how she thought tough problems could be solved by packing up their suitcases and running away to India. When I listened to Rodrigo’s song, I felt like she took this story and sang directly to the characters in Swift’s song.

Shifting from the album’s focus on young love and heartbreak, “Sour” also has tracks about  adolescence and the misleading promises of the younger generation stood out to me. Songs like “jealousy, jealousy” and “brutal” are examples of this. Both songs feel incredibly loud, vocally and lyrically, which reminded me of artists like Lorde and Billie Eilish.

In “jealousy, jealousy,” Rodrigo addresses the unrealistic beauty standards society often places on young women on social media. In an interview with the BBC in March 2021, she shared that she wrote the song when she was addicted to social media and found herself “crippled by the comparisons” of other girls. 

For me, it is the type of song that makes you wish you were born a nepotism baby with daddy’s money, a pretty face and a pretty boyfriend. It is also Rodrigo’s moment to comment on this issue in her own words, similar to “The Love Club” and “White Teeth Teens” by Lorde. While Lorde’s songs criticize the hollowness of cliques, Rodrigo discusses constant comparison and self-hatred as a result of social media. And the tone of her voice as she sings the chorus brings me back to the energy of ‘”idontwannabeyouanymore” by Billie Eilish.

Lastly, it would not be an article about Olivia Rodrigo without mentioning the fan-favorite song “brutal.” Its loud, angry scream-singing in the chorus brings me back to another song by a former Disney star: “7 Things” by Miley Cyrus. While both songs have some quiet moments, they are quickly met by a loud rage of emotion by both of the artists. They are the kind of jump around your room and scream at the tops of your lungs, beloved, angry songs. 

When it comes to the sound and beat of “brutal,” it is eerily similar to “Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill. If you listen to the songs back to back, it is in the rise and fall of how each song flows. Its similarities also lie in the sound of the guitar, working simultaneously with the volume of the microphone at certain parts. Also, I cannot help but think about how Rodrigo’s singing of “God, it’s brutal out here” sounds just like “I know I wanna take you home I wanna try on your clothes.”

Final Thoughts

Even though I have loved “Sour” since I first listened to it, I fell in love with the album more after noticing its inspirations and parallels in the vocals, sounds, lyrics and storytelling.

Rodrigo’s debut album serves as a current accumulation of her style as a singer and as a songwriter. It’s a reminder that she is a young artist capable of elevating original songs by other artists, and crafting a new narrative based on her life and experiences. The outpouring of love for her first album might also indicate more success for her future.

Illustration by Valerie Aldana