Tag Archives: pop culture

20 travel movies to get you through quarantine

Got cabin fever? Take a fictional trip and live vicariously through these movies. While most of us are staying at home when possible, it doesn’t have to feel that way. Here’s a list of movies to watch when you need that extra dose of travel and adventure without actually leaving the house.

Crazy Rich Asians 

Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime, Google Play, and Youtube

What its about: Join Rachel Chu and her fiance as they travel from New York to Singapore to visit his family. With a star-studded cast, immaculate costumes and setting, over the top drama, and the adventure of a lifetime, you can say less!

What a Girl Wants

Where you can watch it: Netflix, Youtube, Amazon Prime, and Google Play

What its about: An early 2000s rom com with Amanda Bynes on a journey to find her estranged British father, gain a sense of identity, and find love and adventure along the way. 

Black Panther

Where you can watch it; Disney+, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s aout: Okay, we all know Wakanda isn’t even a real place, but don’t we wish it was? Join T’Challa and his journey to becoming leader of Wakanda and exploring his purpose as the Black Panther

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Where you can watch it: Netflix and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: This is a Hindi film so yes, you’ll be reading subtitles, but it’s worth it! Its about three best friends who go on a bachelor party trip to Spain. This movie is full of love, laughter, personal growth, and some fire music you’ll definitely want to dance to.

Sisterhood of the Travelling pants

Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime, Google Play, and Youtube

What its about: Okay, I used to think this movie was corny too, but rewatching it as an adult, it’s such a touching film with an authentic portrayal of girlhood and coming of age. Not to mention, Lena’s trip to Greece is such a dream vacation. 

The Lizzie McGuire Movie

Where you can watch it: Disney+, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: An absolute c l a s s i c. You may not be able to study abroad this semester, but at least you can live vicariously through Lizzie McGuire as she lives a double life during her summer trip to Italy.

Parasite

Where you can watch it: Hulu, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: This movie isn’t as light hearted as the other movies on this list, but is still an excellent film that chronicles wealth disparity in South Korea and very much deserved the Oscar for “Best International Film”.

Spiderman Far From Home

Where you can watch it: Disney+, Amazon Prime, Starz, and Hulu

What it’s about: Zendaya. That’s all the reason you need to watch this movie. But if that’s not enough you also have your friendly neighborhood spiderman and the gang going on adventures in europe!

Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement

Where you can watch it: Disney+, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: A young Anne Hathaway andChris Pine go from enemies to lovers as they  challenge antiquated royalty laws in the beloved state of Genovia… need I say more?

Desperados

Where you can watch it: Netflix

What it’s about: A woman in her 30s, on the brink of her life falling apart, goes on a trip to Mexico with her friends to delete a drunk email she sent to her boyfriend. If you’re a fan of New Girl, you’ll love seeing Nasim Pedrad and Lamorne Morris in this movie. Not to mention, the drone shots of the beaches in Mexico were breathtaking.

Tigertail

Where you can watch it: Netflix

What it’s about: Tigertail highlights the generational divide between a Taiwanese immigrant father and his first generation American daughter. In this movie, you’re taken back and forth between the father’s youth in Taiwan, his immigrant journey to America, and his current life after his children have grown and started their own families. 

Monte Carlo

Where you can watch it: Hulu, HBO, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: Another underrated feature, Monte Carlo has a similar storyline to the Lizzie Mcguire movie but is a bit more realistic. In this feel-good movie, three girls go on a trip to Paris and find love, adventure, closure, and purpose.

Lion

Where you can watch it: Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: Based on the autobiography of Saroo Brierly, a man who was lost from his family in India as a child, was adopted by an Australian couple, and sets out to find his family years later as an adult. The story is gripping, emotional, and really comes alive with the amazing Dev Patel’s portrayal of Saroo.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

Where you can watch it: Netflix, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: An 1980s classic with Harrison Ford, go on an archaeological adventure with Indiana Jones!

Cheetah Girls 2

Where you can watch it: Disney+, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: The Cheetah Girls, an American ICON of the early 2000s and a sequel that didn’t disappoint! Their trip to Barcelona was full of BOPS, adventures, and friendship.

Love Rosie

Where you can watch it: Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: Lily Collins and Sam Claflin excel in a film set in the UK and Boston which tells the story of Alex and Rosie, lifelong friends, who spend their lives searching for their true love: each other.

The Hangover

Where you can watch it: Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: Another 2000s classic. Combining Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, with Zach Galifianakis, and introducing Ken Jeong onto the comedy scene produced an iconic comedy about a bachelor trip gone wild.

The Karate Kid

Where you can watch it: Netflix, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: The original and the remake are both amazing and either are worth the watch. But if you’re a fan of Jackie chan, Jaden Smith, the song “Never Say Never” by Justin Bieber, and you’d rather take the journey from Detroit to Beijing (instead of New Jersey to California in the original), then the 2010 remake is the one for you.

Queen of Katwe

Where you can watch it: Disney+, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime 

What it’s about: This biopic showcases Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan chess player, and her amazing journey becoming an international chess champion. We love to see it! (Of course, we also love to see Lupita Nyong’o) 

Nacho libre

Where you can watch it: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play, and Youtube

What it’s about: Another underrated childhood movie with Jack Black playing an aspiring luchador while working as a cook at a church in Mexico. And I promise you, there’s tons of jokes that probably went over your head as a kid.

Super. Dysfunctional. Representation.: The Women of “The Umbrella Academy”

Why I love “The Umbrella Academy” but not the way it treats women

Illustration by Serena Rodriguez

**WARNING! This post contains spoilers for the first season of Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy.” Reader discretion advised.**

Christ on a cracker! Gerard Way fans rejoice because “The Umbrella Academy” is set to premiere its second season on July 31. The Netflix original show received an outpouring of fan love upon its initial release last February. 

“The Umbrella Academy” is smart, funny and full of action. What it is lacking is positive female representation. All the women in this show are either killed off or their roles are determined by the men around them.

The show follows an adoptive family made up of seven siblings, each equipped with their own unique superpowers. Number One has super strength, Number Two can hold his breath indefinitely and is very skilled in close-quarter combat, Number Three can alter reality with a simple lie, and so on and so forth. At the center of the family is the harsh, foreboding father figure, Sir Reginald Hargreeves. He brought the siblings together and exploited their powers without giving them the love one usually receives from a father. 

Being a single father is no easy task, even for a rich British man. So, Reginald created a mother figure for the seven children: Grace (played by Jordan Claire Robbins). Grace is a smiling, doting robot…literally, she’s a robot. She cooks, cleans and plays the role of “mother” perfectly. A perfect foil for Reginald’s stern demeanor. And the beginning of a very troubling pattern in the “Umbrella Academy” array of characters.

Grace (Jordan Claire Robbins) – Source: IMDb

When Number Seven (her real name is Vanya and she is played by the incredible Ellen Page) was younger, her powers made her completely unmanageable. Reginald tried to introduce her to a multitude of nannies/”mothers” but she destroyed all of them. The only one that stuck? Grace, the blank-staring 50s-style housewife whose only purpose is to listen to her man (her creator, mind you) and take care of her children.

This is not an attack on mothers or wives; I’m addressing a harmful stereotype that has perpetuated for decades. A stereotype that’s troublesome to see in one of the most popular shows released in the past few years. I would hope there would be more dimensional roles for women at this point. 

I would also hope women of color wouldn’t be seen as expendable in this day and age. But writers let me down all the time. Helen Cho (played by Emily Piggford) was the first chair in the orchestra Vanya was auditioning for. She was barely seen in the show before she was killed off and her body was left to rot in an attic. Cho felt like a plot device rather than an actual character. We were briefly introduced to her and then she was used for furthering Vanya’s journey. It makes you wonder why the writers chose to use a woman of color as a character destined for tragedy.

Helen Cho (Emily Piggford) – Source: IMDb

Then there’s Detective Eudora Patch (played by Ashley Madekwe). I really liked her. She was intelligent, independent and she was not afraid to put Diego (Number Two) in his place. It was a bit irritating that one of her main purposes was to be Diego’s love interest but Diego is my favorite Hargreeves so I, personally, was not too bothered by it. I wanted him to be happy. 

Patch was looking into strange murders around town that seemed to be linked to the Hargreeves family. This fateful investigation led to Patch’s untimely death. She was shot after finding the show’s two antagonists in a motel. Patch went from a strong female character to being another woman of color killed off for plot progression.

detective

While the scene where Diego cries over her body serves as a great moment for the audience to sympathize with the second Hargreeves, it is incredibly frustrating that Patch died for seemingly no reason. Patch didn’t have to die but, unfortunately, women of color are apparently still seen as dispensable in media.

As previously mentioned, there were two main antagonists for “The Umbrella Academy”’s first season: Hazel and Cha-Cha. They were assassins sent to kill Number Five, the sassy youngest sibling whose history is too intricate to get into right now. (Just watch the show, they explain it better than I ever will.) Cha-Cha was played by the incomparable Mary J. Blige. She was strong, ruthless and seemingly indestructible. That is until Hazel falls in love with a local waitress. Once Hazel becomes distracted, Cha-Cha becomes enraged. Despite their mission to kill Number Five, she vows to kill the couple, punishing them because Hazel abandoned his job. 

She is focused on getting the job done, which I can respect. What bothers me is that it is heavily implied that Cha-Cha has romantic feelings for Hazel and that’s part of the reason she loses her shit. If Cha-Cha were a real person, not a fictional television character, she would probably ditch her lovey-dovey partner and get the job done herself. But, no. She’s a woman in a television show so her entire persona is dependent on the man she’s with. The man she probably has feelings for. To quote Miranda Priestly: groundbreaking.

Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige) – Source: IMDb

Another, perhaps unsuspecting, antagonist of the show is Vanya. Vanya’s character troubled me in two ways and neither of them had anything to do with the fact that she was a villain. In fact, I think the world needs more female villains. First, Vanya is completely undermined for most of the season. She supposedly “doesn’t have any powers” but it was actually Reginald repressing her powers with medicine since she was a child because she was too strong. (Again…watch the show if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Anyway, because she has “no powers,” everyone treats her like she doesn’t exist. They speak down to her, think she has no spine and generally gaslight her into silent submission. It is a horrid routine that many women are all too familiar with.

Vanya meets Leonard. Leonard is a dick. He is the second issue I have with Vanya’s characterization. Throughout the season, Vanya doesn’t have the confidence to stand up for herself. Leonard gives her that confidence through his “love” and “support,” which, of course, we find out is all a ploy to weaponize Vanya and get revenge on the Hargreeves for an age-old grudge Leonard has. Men really ain’t shit, huh? (Kidding…sorta.) Anyway, I wanted Vanya to find strength within herself. I always want women to find strength within themselves. I’m tired of men ostensibly handing it to them or helping them achieve it. We are perfectly capable of doing it ourselves and I want to see that reflected in the content we consume.

Vanya Hargreeves (Ellen Page) – Source: IMDb

Finally, we get to the most atrocious act of them all. One of the strongest Hargreeves is Number Three (her real name is Allison and she’s played by Emmy Raver-Lampman), the sibling who can alter reality by saying the words “I heard a rumor…”. Allison also has this weird romance with Number One (whose real name is Luther and whom I have a strong dislike for) but that’s not my biggest grievance, although it is a grievance. Allison was flawed, this is true, but I was also very fond of her. She was a strong leader, a loving sister and someone who had gone a little mad with power. I thought she was a well-rounded character. Which obviously meant to the writers that she had to silenced. Literally. Towards the end of the season, Allison had a falling out with Vanya as she began coming into her powers. In the skirmish, Vanya accidentally slashed Allison’s throat. For a terrifying moment, we were left wondering if Allison was even alive. 

Allison thankfully survived the ordeal but she was left mute. Her vocal cords must have been severed by the blow. (I don’t know how anatomy works or if that’s even possible, but it happened.) The one Hargreeves constantly using her voice to stand up for herself and others was quelled by violence. Not to mention the fact that Allison is yet another woman of color harmed within the show. It’s very upsetting to see but at least she wasn’t killed off, I guess? It sucks that I have to say that.

Allison Hargreeves (Emmy Raver-Lampman) – Source: Netflix

Ellen Page, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Mary J. freaking Blige. The cast was brimming with talented women and they were all let down by poor writing/character development. I’m not the first one to notice the unfortunate trend of female representation in “The Umbrella Academy” and I hope I’m not the last. Here’s to hoping the new season brings positive change.

The boys: demasking the “super” out of superheroes

Slight Spoiler Warning! Nothing too major yet you have been warned*

Courtesy of IMDB

Over the past decade, superhero movies have dominated pop culture, becoming the most successful franchises in cinematic history. The MCU have been churning movies back to back, creating a complex yet incredible timeline that has gathered a devoted fanbase. Superheroes have been popularly depicted as ones with remarkable abilities and relatable characteristics, going through a journey of saving the world as well as dealing with ordinary issues. Yet, as these characters continue to thrive on our screens, it does bring curiosity to think if heroes could ever be bad. Well, that curiosity has certainly been met in the form of Amazon Prime’s The Boys.  Inspired by the 2006 comic book of the same name, this series takes place in a reality where superheroes not only exist, but similar to our society, dominate the media. Yet, unfortunately these beings overall abuse this power, making them the real chaos of society. Let’s dwell more on how The Boys perfectly and chaotically invalidates the stereotypes of superhero culture. 

Courtesy of IMDB

The series focuses on “The Seven”, a group of superheroes that are owned by Vought International, a powerful corporation that literally factorizes babies into all mighty beings using top secret chemicals. Vought markets these “supes” by creating their own backstories and destinies. This fictional company has an extreme firm grasp on the media, going as far as having these heroes film commercials, reality-like shows, and blockbusters. Think of these beings as celebrities, yet because of their intense idolatry, society has blindly followed their authority, masking their imperfections. Homelander, the Superman-esque and leader of the Seven, is a prime example of a hero who abuses power. Although I’m not going to go into details to avoid spoilers, I will say that Homelander is the true villain of this fictionalized world. He is the most praised yet is secretly an egomaniac, making him the greatest threat, as he does terrible, TERRIBLE things. 

The Boys is more than just a show about superheroes; it’s a social commentary on the corruption of powerful beings in the world and how ultimately it’s up to society to stop that. So, after objecting the “supes” in this show, who are the true heroes? In this case, it’s the titular “The Boys”, a group of vigilantes destined to prevent the Seven and Vought from continuing their wrongful ways. The protagonist Hughie Campbell’s life is swiftly changed after the loss of a loved one due to the recklessness of a superhero and eventually seeks vengeance with the leader of the Boys, Billy Butcher. Together they struggle to gain the retributive justice in order to atone for their losses caused by the Seven, bringing other allies along the way. Another person who is considered a true hero is Starlight, the newest member of the Seven who is unfortunately oblivious to the truth of her job. It isn’t until tragedy occurs to which she realizes her dream of being a hero was nothing but smoke and mirrors. Yet, her character development overall brings a ray of hope that there can be true heroes in the world.

Overall this show is extremely grotesque and anything but family friendly, as it contains many jaw dropping scenes. Although it makes Deadpool look like a children’s movie, The Boys’ over the top mayhem sets the tone and perfectly captures its’ unique take on heroes as well as justice. 

the pop culture that defined the 2010’s

Time—it’s an elusive thing, a man-made concept, yet one that has so much influence over our lives. And as we move forward, time seems to only speed up.


A new decade is just around the corner. As the world prepares to enter the 2020s (futuristic much?), it seems fitting to reflect on the last 10 years.


But reflection can be kind of disorienting when everything feels like a blur, when recent events are hard to recall, when distant memories feel like yesterday and when minutes spent looking at a screen become years.

The 1980s were characterized by consumerism, big hair, pop icons and the rise of the blockbuster. Grunge music and gangsta rap acted as the soundtrack to the 90s. And the 2000s saw technology reach new heights, the rise of reality TV and the re-emergence of  teen idols and young adult media.

But who were we in the 2010s? What defined us? What did we enjoy? What made us tick? What the heck even happened this decade? Let’s recap.


1. Technology climbed even higher.

Image result for people on their phones
Photo courtesy of Time

This decade saw society becoming more technologically-driven than ever before. The emergence of the iPhone and other smartphones completely altered culture. In 2009, owning an iPhone was a luxury few enjoyed. Now, most people participate in Apple’s mighty empire.

Smartphones have also ignited the rise of other phenomena, like social media. Social media, a concept that has been around since the early to mid 2000s, really took hold in the 2010s. Facebook gained more traction, eventually reaching 1 billion users in 2012. Twitter exploded. Instagram became the premiere photo (and anxiety-inducing) app. Vine rose and fell, and YouTube continued its dominance.

Streaming also took hold. This decade saw more cable packages being cancelled and album sales at an all time low. Music streaming apps like Spotify and Pandora emerged. Then others, namely Apple Music, followed. Blockbuster sustained its final blow as Netflix continued to gain traction and become a platform not only for films, but also for TV shows.  


2. Young Money rappers rose to prominence

Image result for nicki minaj super bass
Photo courtesy of Young Money Entertainment

The early part of the decade saw members of Lil Wayne’s label Young Money experience commercial success. Nicki Minaj, who claimed earlier this year that she would be retiring, churned out hit after hit, and Drake—well, we all know what Drake did.


3. Justin Bieber got into a lot of trouble and then said “Sorry”

Image result for justin bieber sorry
Photo courtesy of Business Insider

After dropping huge albums like Under the Mistletoe (2011) and Believe (2012), Justin Bieber made his descent into juvenile delinquency. Drag racing, physical altercations and an eventual arrest further decreased public opinion regarding the pop star. But he came back in a big way with the release of Purpose in 2015. Now, he’s married and all seems well for the Biebs.

4. Taylor Swift dominated music (and transitioned to pop)

Image result for taylor swift 1989
Photo courtesy of Billboard

The American Music Awards will honor Taylor Swift as the artist of the decade, and they aren’t wrong for doing so. Although Swift is a polarizing figure, her influence and dominance over music for the past 10 years outshines most of her contemporaries. Red (2012) and 1989 (2014) are the kinds of albums that define a generation.


5. Dystopian flicks were all the rage

Image result for the hunger games
Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

The release of The Hunger Games in 2012 increased the demand for all things pertaining to dystopian futures. Films like Divergent, The Maze Runner and The Giver all contributed to the hype.

6. The “YouTuber”/ Internet star emerged

Image result for david dobrik
Photo courtesy of Metro UK

There was the radio star, the video star and then the Internet star. Making YouTube videos became a full on profession as subscriber counts grew and content creators were able to cultivate brands for themselves. Some of the most famous Internet stars have become quasi-celebrities in their own rights.

7. Originality came to a halt

Image result for charlie's angels
Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

The 2010s will go down as the decade of sequels and the reboot. Originality in Hollywood, particularly in its films, has been hard to come by. In TV land, several shows have also been either revived or rebooted. Hopefully, this trend doesn’t continue and new ideas take shape in the next decade.

8. The Kardashians became so powerful

Image result for the kardashians
Photo courtesy of E!

The Kardashians have somehow become America’s most famous and sought after family. Their influence on popular culture is nearly unprecedented ( see Kylie Jenner lip challenge).

9. Marvel did its thing

Image result for marvel cinematic universe
Photo courtesy of Disney/Marvel Studios

With the exception of Iron Man (2008) the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was released this decade. Love it or hate it, this franchise was a game changer.

10. Frozen

Image result for frozen
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Animation Studios

Frozen (2013) became the highest grossing animated film of all time, and for months “Let it Go” was inescapable.

Ten bullets don’t even scratch the surface of what went down in this decade characterized by panic, hysteria and maybe a little too much stimulation. They leave out Miley Cyrus’ *shocking* transition, Katy Perry’s dominance, One Direction’s influence, Ed Sheeran’s intriguing rise to fame, movies like Inception and The Social Network, Adele’s clout, Kendrick’s rhymes, games like Minecraft, the conclusion of the Twilight films, the dominance of athletes like Tom Brady, Serena Williams and LeBron James and our growing inability to genuinely connect with others.

When we look back on this decade, what are we going to remember? More importantly, how should we feel about it?

Image result for inception
Photo courtesy of Legendary Pictures