Monthly Archives: May 2020

Trevor Noah Speaks of the Painful Truth of Racism in America

It has been said that until one has walked a mile in another’s shoes, one can never truly understand the other person. But that does not mean that we can’t at least try to understand another person’s perspective.

We live in a country in which one’s skin color is one of the factors that determines one’s fate. We also live in a country in which unconscious bias and white privilege also play a role in determining one’s fate. As a Caucasian woman of Eastern European Jewish descent, I’ve never thought about the privilege automatically assigned to me because of my skin color. The last few weeks have made it painfully clear that because of a twist of fate, I have access and a perception that is denied to Americans of color.

Because I do not have the first person experience that a person of color has, I will not even try to speak of that experience. But Trevor Noah has that experience and it is heartbreaking.

I would say that I hope (which often springs eternal) that we, as Americans have finally learned our lesson about racism and racial inequality. But the last few weeks have reminded this nation, in a painful way, that both are still alive and well, even in 2020.

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Filed under National News, Television

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Review

As much as we wish we could control where life takes us, we know that we can’t.

In the 2018 Netflix movie, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (based on the book of the same name), Juliet Ashton (Lily James) is an author in post World War II England. Intrigued by a letter she receives from Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman) a farmer on the island of Guernsey, Juliet visits the island with the intention of writing a book.

She discovers that Dawsey is part of a book club entitled The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Included in this club is Amelia Maugery (Penelope Wilton) and Elizabeth McKenna (Jessica Brown Findlay). Intrigued as to why and how Elizabeth disappeared, Juliet starts to investigate what happened during the German occupation of the island during the war. Along the way, Juliet discovers a new family and a new love that forces her to re-consider where she wants to go in life.

Award worthy, this film is not. That being said, it’s the type of movie one watches after a long week to relax. Though it helps that several of the main cast are Downton Abbey alum, it is does not do enough to overcome the film’s flaws.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Books, Downton Abbey, History, Movies, Netflix

New Amsterdam Character Review: Vijay Kapoor

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series New AmsterdamRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Life gets busy. We have work, we have school, we have families, etc. But what happens when one dominates the other and we begin to lose touch with what is important? On New Amsterdam, Vijay Kapoor (Anupam Kher), is the head of Neurology. Though he is a respected member of his field, his personal life is as much of a mess as his professional life is clean.

A widower with a grown son, Vijay has not had a relationship with Rohan (Vandit Bhatt) since his late wife’s passing. After plunging himself into work, Vijay tries to rebuild his relationship with his son. But even with all of the effort he puts in, the tentative new bond with his son fades. But there is one thing that will always keep the door open.

His son has a brief relationship with Ella (Dierdre Friel), who works in the hospital cafeteria. Ella is pregnant, but Rohan is nowhere to be found. Though his attempted romantic relationship with Ella died on the vine, Vijay recognizes the opportunity he has with his future grandchild. When her finances begin to run dry, Ella takes him up on his offer to move in together. They have some initial issues (as new roommates sometimes do), but in the end, Ella and Vijay come together, knowing that a new life will soon come into the world.

To sum it up: Ideally, we would all be able to maintain a work/life balance. But that is not always possible. Especially when emotions and complicated family dynamics come unto play. A man like Vijay would find it easy to bury himself in work and use it to mask his personal problems. But the fact that he is willing to face his past and learn from it shows that he is capable of moving forward.

That makes him a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, New York City, Television

Flashback Friday-Sorority Life (2002-2004) & Fraternity Life (2003-2005)

For some in college, the experience is incomplete without at least the attempt of pledging a sorority or a fraternity. But does that experience live up the images seen on the big and small screens?

Back in the early 2000’s MTV included Sorority Life (2002-2004) and Fraternity Life (2003-2005) on their schedule. Both series followed pledges and members of a handful of sororities and fraternities from across the country.

When both programs originally aired, I was the target audience. It was easy for me to get hooked on both series. But two decades later, both programs are showing their age and the questions that come with how real a “reality show” is.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Vote by Mail, Twitter & Censorship: The Latest Tantrum By You Know Who

If one knows nothing else about the United States, they know that Freedom of Speech is one of the legal and cultural cornerstones of the country. That being said, there are certain limits. For example, yelling fire in a crowded auditorium when there is no fire does not exactly fall in the “freedom of speech” category.

After years of letting you know who run rampant on Twitter, the minds behind the social media platform started to fact check some of you know who’s tweets. His response was to sign an executive order (aka take a tantrum), complaining that his rights were being violated. The tweet being fact checked was his statement that voting by mail would lead to a fraudulent 2020 Presidential election result (i.e. he loses).

This man is a hypocrite. His perspective is “good for me, not for thee”. He can vote by mail, but the home bound senior citizen or the single parent working two jobs cannot. He can claim censorship and that his rights are being taken away to anyone who would listen. But the average citizen who also has the same complaint and a Twitter account does not have the same platform as POTUS.

It’s no secret that we have a man child, used car salesman for President. Instead of using his power and his profile to build up this country, he is more concerned with his reputation and his status.

We need to get him out in November. The future of this nation depends on it.

P.S. While he complains, over 100,000 Americans have died from Covid-19. I can’t think of a better reason to vote in the fall.

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Filed under National News, Politics

How to Deal With Racism in America: Christian Cooper vs. George Floyd

America is built on the ideals of freedom. But this ideal has a flaw. The flaw is called racism.

Like many problems, racism can only be solved we are able to look it in the eyes and admit that it is an issue. But after 400 years of built in prejudice against Americans of color, this problem may not be so simple to resolve.

On Monday, bird enthusiast Christian Cooper was walking through Central Park. He noticed that Amy Cooper had let her dog off the leash an in area in which dogs are required to remain on leash. Christian is African-American, Amy is Caucasian. Her response to his reminder of keeping her dog on the leash was to call the police.

After millions of views online, the video reached the eyes and ears of Amy’s bosses. She is no longer employed and she is known as a racist. Good luck to her on finding another job.

Also on Monday, in Minneapolis, George Floyd was arrested by police, accused of forgery. Instead of just taking him to the precinct and letting the justice system do it’s job, one of the officers put his knee on Floyd’s neck. After several minutes of complaining that he could not breath, Floyd took his last breath. The officers were fired for their actions. But firing is not enough. The officer who held Floyd down should be tried for murder.

The difference (as I see it) is how both cases were handled. Amy Cooper got what was coming to her. The officer who killed George Floyd has yet to receive what is coming to him.

May the memory of George Floyd be a blessing to those who knew and loved him. RIP.

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Filed under National News, New York City

Throwback Thursday: Mario Lopez: Saved by the Baby (2010-2011)

Impending parenthood often brings a mix of emotions. Especially when this is the first pregnancy.

From 2010-2011, Mario Lopez: Saved by the Baby aired on VH1. It followed actor and TV host Mario Lopez (Saved by the Bell) and his then-girlfriend (now wife), Courtney Mazza as they prepared for the birth of their first child.

As most celebrity centered reality shows go, this was far from the worst program within the sub-genre. But it was not all that special either.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Mental Illness is Not an Excuse for Sexual Abuse

Mental illness and it’s various forms affect countless people around the world. But unlike physical illness and it’s many variations, mental illness does not get the respect it deserves.

Back in 2008, Malka Leifer was accused of sexually abusing several students at the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish school in Melbourne, Australia, where she worked as a teacher. But before she could be brought into the courtroom to face her accusers, Ms. Leifer left Australia for Israel. Twelve years later, she faces extradition back to Australia. Her lawyers and supporters claim that she is mentally ill.

I have a huge problem with this claim. The problem is that her claim (if it is not true) is not only foolish, but it could also have life-shattering consequences. Millions of us wake up every day with mental illness. I wake every day with depression hanging around my neck. Does that mean I will commit such a heinous crime as sexual assault on a minor?

No.

It’s hard enough to admit that one is living with mental illness and needs help. The last thing those of us who live with this disease need is for someone to use it as an excuse for moral failings.

Mental illness is NOT an excuse for sexual assault and never will be.

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Filed under International News, Mental Health, World News

Mrs. America Review

In theory, feminism is an easy concept to understand and an even easier cause to get involved in. But for any number of reasons, some women see feminism as the enemy.

The new series, Mrs. America premiered last month on Hulu. Set in the 1970’s, it follows the battle for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). It seems that ratification is on the horizon. Writer/activist Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman), Representatives Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale) and Shirley Chisholm (Uzo Aduba), and journalist Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne) are four of the women who are the faces of the feminist movement. Their goal is to see the ERA enshrined as constitutional law. Standing in their way is Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett), a conservative activist and lawyer who will move political h*ll and high water to prevent the ERA from being ratified.

I’ve seen eight of the nine released episodes and I am hooked. The main thing that strikes me is that the issues that these women were fighting for fifty years ago are the same issues we are fighting for now. If nothing else, this series reminds me how far we have come and how far we need to go before American women are truly equal.

It also humanizes the characters, especially the ones that are based on real women. We see them as giants and icons, not as human beings who were as fallible as anyone walking down the street. That humanization also stretches to the women who were against the ERA.

From the liberal perspective, it would be easy to label them as right wing nut jobs who are siding with the patriarchy. But in this series, they are portrayed as women who are scared. From the time they were born, they were told that the ideal life is to marry, have children and maintain a home. When the second wave of feminism began to affect the culture in the 1960’s and 1970’s, it felt like the rug was pulled out from beneath their feet. I absolutely do not agree with their political or cultural perspective. However, I understand the feeling of not knowing what to do when you are told that everything you know and love is wrong.

I absolutely recommend it. I would also not be surprised if this series did very well come award season.

The final episode of Mrs. America premieres Wednesday on Hulu.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, History, Hulu

Thoughts on Memorial Day and Covid-19

Memorial Day is normally about barbecues, getting together and remembering those who gave their lives to protect the freedoms that Americans hold dear.

But as we all know, this is not the normal Memorial Day.

I feel like today is more poignant and emotionally heavy than previous Memorial Day. Covid-19 has taken the lives of nearly 100,000 Americans, some who are serving or have served in the military. It reminds us of the risk that these men and women take on, not knowing what fate has in store for them.

May the memories of those gave their lives for this country over the centuries never be forgotten.

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