Why I Watch Stranger Things
By: Gus B. ('19)
Let’s be honest… There’s one reason we all watch Stranger Things: Nancy Wheeler. This is more than a crush. We are obsessed. Women, men, young, old, gay, strai— it doesn’t matter; she stole all our hearts. HALLELUJAH! That jaw line is inexplicably exquisite. That shy but poised, radiant smile— kill me now. Just end it! And to think that I have been holding this in for so long! At least I’m not afraid to proclaim my weakening enamorment. I’m coming out and there’s nothing you can do about it. All you Gen Z’ers who claim to like Stranger Things because of nostalgic 80’s vibes are full of sh!*. Fie on all of you! You are simply not reminiscing because YOU WEREN’T ALIVE IN THE 80’S. Just come to terms with your infatuation. Once you accept yourself for who you are, you will enjoy the show so much more. As for all you “Dustin fans”, how are you vibing with the fact that this little, supposedly innocent, kid raised a vicious demodog? Sure, Dart saved the day by letting Steve and the squad through the upside-down tunnel, but he also killed and ate Dustin’s cat! I’m allergic to cats and I hate them, but that’s still not cool. I’m just saying, I wouldn’t trust a 13-year-old who breeds velociraptors, so I do NOT trust Dustin. Basically, all the other characters are irrelevant, and I could continue proving my point, but I believe this suffices, and there are other, more important, hook articles you could be reading. Go forth and hail Nancy Wheeler.
By: Mimi L. ('19)
On various occasions over the past few months, I have been mid-bite into a sandwich during my normally peaceful lunch free time when voices from the corner of the student center have risen above the already-noisy room. The raised voices, naturally, belonged to two of my favorite people: Gus Benson and Romberg York. Gus and Romberg are outspoken and opinionated on everything from what goes into their coffee to politics to – in this case—religion. In order to settle their dispute over their religious beliefs(in the hopes of having more peaceful lunches for all of my fellow juniors), I decided to conduct a debate/discussion to get to the bottom of their beliefs. This discussion is meant, in no way, to discriminate against religious, non-religious or some-in-between individuals– but, rather, to understand the root of Gus and Romberg’s beliefs. Enjoy!
1. Were you raised religious, non-religious, or somewhere in between? How did this shape your current religious belief?
Gus: Religious. I used to always go to church. My parents made me be pretty involved – I was an acolyte and was in a youth group. But I never felt any type of connection to the religion. I think this was partially because my pastor was not interesting and kind of bigoted. After doing more research, I found that I don’t agree with a lot of the aspects of religion.
Romberg: Religious. Basically, my parents really wanted me to be very devoutly religious. And, I found that I do believe in religion for myself. But, at this point, I have kind of altered my original belief to have a more reformed view than they had originally taught me.
2. Do you believe that religion is fact, belief or neither?
Gus: For me, neither. That being said, it is belief for other people.
Romberg: Belief. It’s not fact because a lot of the Bible is a metaphor.
3. What thoughts do you have about each other’s belief system?
Gus: I respect having an opinion or belief—I don’t think that religion is bad in any way. However, I think that there are a lot of discrepancies between what religious people believe. I respect Romberg’s ability to believe in her religion— I’m demonstrating that same ability by not believing in religion.
Romberg: In relation to atheism, I don’t understand how the entire world could have just appeared due to a random sequence of events.
Gus: But it did—science proves this.
Romberg: I can’t wrap my head around that concept, though. I just refuse to believe that this life has no meaning and that there is nothing after death. The whole world works in correlated events. How does that just happen?
Gus: Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t believe in it. I may not understand Quantum Physics, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t real. Why do you feel the need to give meaning to an arbitrary system of science? I certainly don’t think that it all happened because of one man in the sky. The fact that it is a white man really bothers me, as well.
Romberg: It could be a rainbow-colored woman! It doesn’t matter—God isn’t a human figure, we just assign a body to him. He provides a sense of order to the world.
Gus: You sound more agnostic than anything.
Romberg: I definitely am shaky on what I believe—like I said, the Bible is a metaphor in a lot of ways. Some days I think Jesus died, and in others I think he’s B.S.
Gus: If you can prove to me that God is real, I have no problem switching my belief. But no one can prove it to me.
Romberg: That’s not the point, though. You know, Gus, I’m going to miss you when I go to Heaven and you’re not there. Just kidding, you can’t be sad in Heaven.
4. Do you think our society should be more religion-based or less so?
Gus: Less—I think there is a good code of conduct that religion establishes, but the separation of church and state is really important. One of the major breeders of injustice in the world is over-devout governments that discriminate against religious minorities. That being said, not all morals come from religion. If we had no religion in the world, there would definitely still be moral people; I think that most laws in our world are just coming up with advantageous concepts to make society as benevolent as possible.
Romberg: Less—I agree with Gus. Religion and politics don’t mix, although religion does establish a good code of conduct for the world.
5. Going off of the recent DAF forums, what do you think religion is going to look like in 50 years?
Gus: In America and developing countries, I think there will be a much more people who have less faith. Statistically, the Muslim population will grow. I also think religion will become more divisive—if you look at the bipartisan nature of the American political system, it’s becoming more divisive even now. I see a trend between intolerance and the political system in relation to religion.
Romberg: There will be much more people like him (*points to Gus*). I also think the way that we practice religion will change a lot.
6. Any finishing comments?
Gus: I don’t really care what people believe, I just think they need to know why they believe it.
Romberg: God’s real – and he has Plans. Haha, see what I did there? Just kidding, I refuse to believe that everything just happened and that our lives have no meaning. For me, religion is that meaning. What is living for an atheist even mean?
Gus: It means trying to make the most out of this life rather than preparing for the next life. All of the time that you spend thinking about God, that’s time that I take to better myself. Buddhist monks devote their entire lives just thinking about one thing – and it consumes their life, and if that’s what makes you happy then go for it. That being said, I’m a lot more happy focusing on music, hiking or academics – something that will uplift me during my life—rather than something that will uplift me after my life.
Romberg: I think religion gives me a sense of security before and after I die. I feel like religion should be your own and you shouldn’t have to live it with other people. To be honest, I hate going to church, I would much rather sit in the woods and read my Bible (*laughs*). I would much rather embrace what God has made, rather than sit in a Church. That’s why I go to camp! All of the beautiful people and scenery helps me to understand and feel God.
So there you have it, folks. Clearly, both Gus and Romberg have a lot of reasons to believe what they do. What interviewing them taught me is that each person has their own beliefs – and we’re not one to judge. My hope is that each of us will take this with us in order to have constructive conversations, while being tolerant towards others’ beliefs that don’t mirror ours. Happy discussing!
Opinion Editorial: Olympus Has Fallen
By: Lucy E. ('19)
Olympus has fallen.
Or so it seems. This year, we have watched the pedestals where men in power seem to stand crumble at our feet as the exploitation of their power is exposed. By this I mean the reports of sexual harassment that have been uncovered as women start to come forward by the dozens. Larry Nassar and Harvey Weinstein, to name a few, have been the most widely publicized abusers up to this point. For years, they both got away with sexual harassment of women in their industry simply because they thought they were able due to the power that their occupations and positions gave them. Fear and threats were used to keep women complicit and silent. But that time is up. I’d rather not go into specifics of what these men did, rather talk about the wave that seems to be following as more people realize it's not okay to be silent anymore. As, #MeToo gains popularity, I think it encourages women who have been silenced to come forward, knowing that they are not alone, and that it is not their fault. This swell of powerful women have risen up to fight back against the system that groomed them for subordination. It's inspiring, the difficulty of what these women had to face to come forward with their stories against their abusers is something I can’t imagine. And speaking out against established men happens so unfrequently in our society that it has becoming more and more challenging to do, but with solidarity it becomes a little easier.
So now what? That’s what I ask as a result. This terrible, horrible thing has been happening for so long is finally being discussed and brought forward. That’s good progress, but what change can we expect to see from Hollywood, with the sexualization and silencing of women, and sports industries that have coaches and doctors abusing athletes. With this new surge of powerful women taking their stand, I’d say it becomes harder for powerful people to get away with things they previously have. All victims of sexual harassment, regardless of gender, should start to hold people accountable for their actions. No one should get away with abuse of power; the consistent silencing of victims has been going on for far too long, and as victims learn to rise together we move towards a society where it turns from a norm to a rarity. With support and strength for victims to speak up and challenge the injustice they have faced, progress is made towards eliminating the abuse from people in power. Olympus may have fallen, but out of its ashes rises an even stronger force of women leading the revolution of change in our society.
Black Panther: A Marvel (Film)
By: Julian G. ('18) and JR H ('18)
After ten years and eighteen movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it would be easy to assume that Marvel movies and comic book movies as a genre, would have become stale. Yet with Black Panther, Marvel has proven that there are still unique and interesting stories to be told within their immense backlog of comics and storylines. Over the past ten years of Captain America, Iron Man, and the Avengers, some of the most exciting Marvel movies have been those based on the more obscure characters from the Marvel Universe. Such as 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy or 2016’s Doctor Strange. With Black Panther, Marvel has once again brought a character out from relative obscurity and created a cinematic juggernaut, raking in over $235 million during the holiday weekend. Black Panther is a step away from Marvel’s previous projects, providing a much more grounded and human conflict, and moving away from the comedy of previous titles.
Black Panther is an incredibly strong movie all around, delivering many intense and captivating action sequences, a well-paced and well-written story, as well as perhaps the best Marvel villain since Loki. Erik Killmonger, the movie’s main antagonist played by Michael B Jordan, sets a new bar for Marvel villains. For the first time, the villain was not forgettable. Killmonger was ruthless, ambitious, and, technically, right. His motivations were legitimate, his anger was justified, but his methods were blatantly wrong. The struggle in Black Panther was physical, but also ideological, pertinent to our day and age. Erik Killmonger not only provided a cinematic basis for the Marvel Universe, but also a human villain dealing with a human problem. An issue everyone has an opinion on, and that sympathy makes Killmonger real, and a lot of this is owed to Michael B Jordan’s portrayal. The performance Michael B Jordan puts on is incredibly physical, the energy is felt in his every movement. His presence on screen is a perfect foil for Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, and the gravity between the two portrays the issues the movie deals with perfectly. These issues are woven in to the very visuals of the movie throughout, with color themes of black, green, and red, contrasts between purple and yellow, and the fantastic visuals of technology merged with tribal African motifs.
Visually, Black Panther is a marvel among action movies. From holograms built from sand, digitally constructed rooms, to a bulletproof suit capable of fitting inside of a necklace, Marvel takes full advantage of the advanced technology of Wakanda to create some incredibly exciting fights and effects - the most impressive of which being a car chase through Korea. Yet the most captivating and emotional fights were those which lacked any digital enhancement; the ritual fights for rule of Wakanda. In these fights, T’Challa is stripped of the powers of the Black Panther and has to fight for dominion of his people from those who would take his throne, unaided by any superhuman abilities. As he struggles against his opponent, the action and the incredible score beneath it, makes you feel the true weight of the situation. It brings a level of emotion that we have never seen before from a Marvel movie.
This is the new Marvel formula that we want to see more of. After ten years of unprecedented success, Marvel has shown they are unafraid to take risks, to stray from the traditional action movie formula. Now, Black Panther takes the next step, telling a story important to the Marvel Universe, but one relevant to the real world. Moving from just another action movie to social commentary, but not forcing anything down anyone’s throat. Black Panther is a movie for enjoying, but also a movie for learning, and we cannot wait to see T’Challa return in Avengers: Infinity War.
I'm All For Amal
By: Viki Z. ('19)
That handsome face of Danny in Ocean’s Eleven, half of the cast of Gravity (hint: it isn’t Sandra Bullock), and one of Hollywood’s silver foxes… George Clooney. He seems to have it all: the looks, the job, that deep voice, but there is only one thing that I truly envy him for… his wife. Amal Clooney is everything that is perfect in this world all wrapped up in one person. Firstly, her birth name is Amal Alamuddin which has an amazing ring to it. As if that wasn’t enough, she also has a hypnotic accent which sometimes makes me wonder why her husband is the one involved in Hollywood and not her. Though she could have gone through the world easily surviving off her gorgeous looks, Amal decided to casually get super well-educated and eventually attend New York University School of Law. She is now an international human rights lawyer and is amazing at her job. She has been involved in many counter-terrorism jobs. The first time I became fully aware of her being a complete bada** was seeing her on CNN about a year ago. She appeared with one of her clients, a Yazidi woman who had been a sex slave for ISIS, on Fareed Zakaria’s show. After lots of disheartening and terrifying news about ISIS and the atrocities they committed as a group, I expected this interview to be another one of the same… ISIS committed this terrible crime, but we can’t really do anything about it. On the contrary, Amal took a very interesting and hopeful perspective on international justice. She argues that while ISIS is being fought on the battlefield, the opportunity of fighting them legally is being missed. While ISIS may seem like an ambiguous mob of an organization, there are ways to bring individuals to court and punish them for their crimes. Her well supported claim of judicially fighting ISIS may seem simple and obvious but it is not being easily accepted by many groups. Thus, she is advocating for support in collecting evidence against ISIS from the crimes they have committed. In a day and age where discouragement pertaining to issues of such global significance is seemingly ubiquitous, Amal’s powerful message has given me motivation to continue legally fighting for justice. While I’ll never be as cool as she is, her message is enough for me to aspire towards her status as one of the most impactful female lawyers of our time.
The Elephant in the Room: DAFs
By: Jacob B. ('19)
I initially wrote this piece as a ToK Inquiry (feel free to ask any IB student about these…) but thought it would be appropriate revise then share with the community!
This seems to be the question that a lot of sophomores and juniors, more so male than female, do not like hearing the answer to. At the beginning of my sophomore year, I would have said the same thing. The word “diversity” is associated with “feelings,” when in reality it should be associated with “change.” I started in a DAF club simply to support a good friend who didn’t have anyone in her club. I realized towards the end of the year, as I started participating and helping to plan more, that the discussions were uncomfortable. Sometimes we didn’t feel like the right people to be presenting on a topic and other times we were the only ones talking in the forums. A year and a half later, I fully understand why these forums are important and am hoping to spread that message with as many people as possible.
Based on my experience leading and attending the Diversity Awareness Forums, there are three groups of people who go: genuinely interested faculty, genuinely interested students, and credit-needy students. Our school can’t call ourselves “diverse” when we lead and attend DAFs without worrying about having to meet a requirement because everyone goes to go to more than 3 forums.
For example, Interfaith has recently hosted two forums about religion in 2050. We presented a study from Pew Research and asked for opinions. Both times, there were two sides in the room proposing different reasons for the outcome of the study. However, the forum opened a dialogue between those who disagree, which is part of what forums are meant to do. I don’t think that anyone is “too cool” to attend a DAF…rather some simply don’t want to be in an uncomfortable conversation. The conversation should and will be uncomfortable, but it becomes easier once you dive in and begin talking – trust me.
Additionally, we often feel the need to have an opinion on every topic that is discussed. I noticed this through my conversations with my peers and am realizing that there are some topics that I simply should not care enough about (they are still important) or do not know enough about to have an educated opinion. Although it is hard, I try to be honest when someone asks me for an opinion that I am too uneducated to give, partly because I wouldn’t be able to defend or explain my reason, and partly because it can be embarrassing to say something about a topic you aren’t educated on and find out what you said was wrong.
In conclusion, there are so many reasons that the DAF umbrella at Country Day is important and useful to our students and faculty. My question is: everyone knows we have this amazing opportunity so why don’t more people take advantage of it? How do we get more people to take advantage of it?