Flashback Friday: Bring It On Again (2004)

When a film is successful, the obvious next step is a sequel. The question is, does it hold up or is it nothing more than an easy cash grab for the studio?

The 2004 straight-to-video movie Bring It on: Again is the follow-up to Bring It On (2000). Whittier (Anne Judson-Yager) and Monica (Faune Chambers Watkins) are college freshmen who want to join the cheerleading squad. When they are rebuffed by the team captain and queen bee Tina (Bree Turner), Whittier and Monica decide to form their own team.

The challenge is the following: only one squad can go to nationals. Will Bree and her establishment team win or will misfits and outsiders have their chance to shine?

There is a reason it skipped theaters and went straight to video. The generic “David vs. Goliath” narrative is predictable almost to the point of becoming boring. While its predecessor had at least some tension, there is none to speak of in this movie.

Do I recommend it? Only if there is nothing else to watch.

Cheerleading Cheerleaders GIF by MUNA - Find & Share on GIPHY
Advertisement

We Should All Be Paying Attention to the Antisemitism at UC Berkeley

In an ideal world, college (and higher education in general) is an opportunity to spread our wings and see the world beyond what we think it is. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in the real world, which is far more complicated.

A couple weeks ago, a controversy erupted at UC Berkeley in California. Back in August, nine student groups adopted by-laws in which they agree to not invite speakers who “hold views in support of Zionism, the apartheid state of Israel, and the occupation of Palestine.” In other words, the campus has certain sections that are judenrein.

First of all, Palestine is not occupied. Second of all, Israel is not an apartheid state. Third of all, they boiled the complex issue of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict into the idea that all Jews support Israel and subjugate Palestinian neighbors. None of this is true.

Recently Noa Tishby visited the campus and tried to get an understanding of what was going on. The video below speaks for itself.

Sarah Silverman responded to this news as perfectly as one can.

I wish that we would see each other as human beings first and then see us via whatever labels we use to identify ourselves. But we don’t. We rush to judgment and make a generic statement about who they are. My fear in all of this is that the students are our future leaders. Who knows where the poison they spread today will take us tomorrow.

P.S. I don’t know about anyone else, but Kyrie Irving’s apology seems a bit half-ass.

Gatecrashers Podcast Review

College, as we all know, is supposed to open the door to professional opportunities. But the university experience, as we know it to be today, is not what it was only a few generations ago. The opportunity to attend a post-secondary higher educational institution was limited to Caucasian males of a certain social strata and background. It goes without saying back then that women and minorities could not even consider attending.

The new eight-part Tablet magazine podcast, Gatecrashers is hosted by Unorthodox co-host Mark Oppenheimer. It tells the story of how Jewish students tried to attend ivy league colleges in the 2oth century. If they were let in, there were limited social opportunities solely based on faith and unofficial quotas. If they were not let in, they were given the runaround about why their application was denied.

Kimmy Schmidt College GIF by Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Find & Share on GIPHY

The one thing that struck me (specifically in regards to the schools that gave BS reasons for rejecting Jewish students), was who they were saying no to. One of these young men was Isaac Asimov, who was originally denied admittance to Columbia University only because of which deity he prayed to and where he lived.

Looking back, that seems to be incredibly short-sighted. Granted, no one has a crystal ball to see what the future holds. However, knowing now what Asimov accomplished later in life, it seems foolish for the admissions department to have made the initial decision they made.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

New episodes of Gatecrashers are released on the Tablet site every Tuesday.

Flashback Friday: Toy Story 3 (2010)

When we are very young, we play with a certain group of toys. When we grow up, our toys change dramatically.

Toy Story 3 is the third film within the Toy Story franchise. Andy (voiced by John Norris) is just about to leave for college. The toys he once considered to be beloved friends are supposed to be taken to the attic. But instead, they are donated to a daycare center.

The treatment they receive from the children at the daycare is a complete 180 from how Andy loved and treasured them. Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen), and co are now being handled by sticky-fingered toddlers who lack the respect of Woody and Buzz’s former owner.

If they are to get home, they must convince the disillusioned Lotso (voiced by Ned Beatty) that they were all once loved. Helping the boys in their quest is Barbie (Jodie Benson), who is working with her counterpart Ken (Michael Keaton) to free them all.

This movie is adorable, funny, and fits well into the overall story within the franchise. It also speaks of the fact that we all grow up eventually. What we once loved will eventually be consigned to the past and will be replaced by something entirely different.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Sad Toy Story GIF by Disney Pixar - Find & Share on GIPHY

I Don’t Know if 10-20K is Enough in Terms of Student Loan Forgiveness

For generations, we have been told that the only way to get ahead in life is to earn a college degree. While there is a certain amount of truth in that statement, the other truth is that college is getting more expensive by the day.

Earlier today, President Biden announced a plan for reducing college debt for earners making less than $125K annually. The details are as follows:

Borrowers who hold loans with the Department of Education and make less than $125,000 a year are eligible for up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness if they received Pell Grants, which are given to students from low- and middle-income families. Individuals who make less than $125,000 a year but did not receive Pell Grants are eligible for $10,000 in loan forgiveness.

Of course, the Republicans are losing their minds. G-d forbid that a politician (especially POTUS) would do something for the American people instead of themselves. This hypocrisy is disturbing given the fact that many of them accepted forgivable PPP loans during the pandemic.

Fresh Off The Boat Reaction GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Though this is a campaign promise fulfilled (and could help the Democrats in the upcoming Midterms), I don’t know if 10-20K is enough to relieve the financial burden for some people. I understand that it was a compromise, as does Biden, but I have to question if it helps Americans who have triple digits in student loan debt.

“I understand not everything I’m announcing is going to make everybody happy,” Biden said. “Some think it’s too much — I find it interesting how some of my Republican friends who voted for those tax cuts think we shouldn’t be helping these folks. Some think it’s too little, but I believe my plan is responsible and fair. It focuses the benefit of middle-class and working families, it helps both current and future borrowers and it’ll fix a badly broken system.”

The truth is that relieving 10-20K is better than nothing. But I still think that it could have been a little higher.

Student Loan Forgiveness Might be the Key to 2022, 2024, and Beyond

We all know that college is the key to our professional future. Without that degree, our careers would be stuck in first gear and our earning potential is stunted. The problem is that the cost of obtaining that status of college graduate has grown exponentially over the past few years and is unlikely to stop anytime soon.

One of the issues that have come to the political forefront lately is student loans. Several Democrats have proposed that President Biden forgive student loans for those earning under $125,000. While the devil is in the details, I think this is important for two reasons. The first is that it would remove the financial shackle for millions of Americans. The second is that it would give Biden and the Democrats an ace up their sleeve when it comes to the midterm elections in the fall and the presidential election in 2024.

My own loans were paid off a long time ago. I understand why some people disagree with this decision. That being said, I can see the potential in the financial freedom that comes from not having thousands of dollars (if not hundreds of thousands of dollars) to pay off hanging over someone’s figurative head.

Hawkeye Review

*I know nothing of the content of the original comic book that Hawkeye is based on. This review is strictly based on the television series.

After a long-running movie or television series has run its course, it is not surprising if fans need a break. If the narrative is to continue, it is important that the writer(s) and creative teams find new plots that they might not have considered before.

Earlier this week, the MCU/DisneyPlus, Hawkeye premiered. In the opening scene, young Kate Bishop (Clara Stack) is witness to the destruction of New York City during the first Avengers movie. Losing both her home and her beloved father, Derek (Brian d’Arcy James) will forever change her life. We then flash forward to the college-age Kate (Hailee Steinfeld). She returns for winter break after accidentally destroying a building on campus and is unhappy that her mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) is engaged to Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton).

Meanwhile, Hawkeye/Clint Black (Jeremy Renner) is in the city with his kids to enjoy the Christmas season. He hopes that his only interaction with his superhero past is a dreadful musical adaptation. It’s supposed to be an ordinary family vacation. But fate, his past, and Kate Bishop force him to pick up his bow and arrow once more.

So far, only the first two episodes have been released. What I have seen so far, I like. There is a nice balance of action and comedy. Clint’s reluctance to become Hawkeye again is the yin to the yang of Kate’s eagerness to show that she can be as badass as he is. The emotional hook is not the physical aspect of the story, but how both Kate and Clint have to deal with the issues in their personal lives.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Hawkeye is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.

Ordinary Joe Review

When we graduate college, it is both the end of one experience and the beginning of another experience.

The new NBC series, Ordinary Joe, explores this question. Joe Kimbreau (James Wolk) has just received his BA in 2011. There are three literal and physical life paths before him. The narrative then flashes forward to 2021. Fate had led him down three different life choices. In the first, he is a rock star. In the second, he is a nurse, In the third, he is a police officer. Supporting him is his childhood best friend Charlie (Eric Payne), his college bff/secret love interest Jenny, (Elizabeth Lail) and new crush Amy (Natalie Martinez). Each narrative swirls and gets tangled up in one another until they momentarily mingle, coming together to ask the question of which life he will live.

I really like the series so far. The premise is unique and the format does not feel convoluted or complicated. One thing that I noticed was each scenario has its own color scheme and the representation of where the program could go with three physical paths seen on campus early in the first episode.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Ordinary Joe airs on NBC on Monday night at 10PM.

I Don’t Want to Die Poor: Essays Book Review

When we are young, many of us are told getting a college degree after high school is a must. There is truth in that statement. Without that degree, our career potential and possible income is stuck in the mud. But there is another truth that is often ignored. College is expensive and getting more expensive with every passing year. Our young people are graduating with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans that seems impossible to get rid of.

Writer Michael Arceneaux is one of these people. In his 2020 book, I Don’t Want to Die Poor: Essays, he talks about his own student loan debt and how it has affected his life so far. He discusses being both black and gay, trying to earn a living while making ridiculous payments, and going after your dreams.

I really loved this book. He is funny, charming, and authentic. I found myself laughing, crying, and knowing exactly what he was going through. I remember being in my twenties and having the college debt hanging over my head. Thankfully, it was relatively low and I had help in paying it off. Not everyone can say that.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Thoughts On the Upcoming Changes to the SAT Test

In theory, every child should receive the same education, regardless of the factors that have a hand to determining how they are growing up. But in reality, factors such as race, neighborhood and family income often play a role in a child’s access to a solid education.

Last week, it was announced that changes are coming to the SAT test. In addition to the standard scoring, an “adversity score” will be included when an applicant’s file is given to whichever college(s) the student hopes to attend. In a nutshell, the adversity score takes into the account familial and environmental issues that are preventing the student from receiving that education.

If I am to be completely honest, I am torn as to whether or not this is the best way to help the most educationally needy of our children.

We all agree that there needs to be some leeway for these children, especially given the circumstances that they are living in. It’s not exactly a secret that certain communities in our country are able to give their children a more than solid education while other communities are struggling to fulfill their children’s most basic educational needs.

However, there needs to be a line drawn between an hand up and a hand- out. A hand up is helpful, but that only goes so far. It is up to the person who is given to hand up to put in the work to achieve whatever they want to achieve. A handout, if it goes past a certain point, teaches that this person does not need to work for what they want, they will receive it without putting any effort at all.

There is an old saying: give someone a fish and you feed them for a day; teach someone how to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.

There has to be a balance between helping these children and doing the work for these children. I just don’t know where it is.

%d bloggers like this: