The 90th Oscars: A Change


The Me’s of 2018 have just come to a close (my name is Oscar). It’s very alarming to hear celebrities say my name so excitedly, or at all for that matter. The only other Oscar in Hollywood right now is Oscar Isaac and he keeps to himself for the most part. Maybe he is a me that came from the future to give me hope that I would grow up to be good looking and successful. Maybe he is just a harsh reminder of an Oscar that I will never become. Anyways…the Oscars.


The Shape of Water by Guillermo Del Toro was nominated for almost everything and won quite a few too: Best Score, Best Production Design, Best Director, and the big boy himself: Best Picture. The Disney animated film, Coco, also took home a couple of awards including Best Original Song and Best Animated


The song “Remember Me” along with the other original song nominees were performed live. Objectively, the performance of Remember Me was the most extravagant. It is, after all, a movie about the Mexican Day of the Dead. We Mexicans are very extra, so I wouldn’t have the performance any other way. The three performers Gael García Bernal, Miguel, and Natalia LaFourcade brought a pivotal scene from the film to life. I was kind of hoping that the giant bell at the back of the stage would fall, but not squish anyone to death. *Spoilers for Coco if you haven’t seen it. Oops*



Not one, but three prominent Mexicans singing a beautiful song in English and Spanish complete with a full mariachi band and choreography lit up the little Mexican boy inside me. He was shocked to see his culture represented on the largest stage in Hollywood. I don’t know if the theatre had the largest stage, but I’m talking about The Oscars. Primetime awards for the best of the best. Home to a committee made by and for old, white, men.

That is changing, maybe started by Moonlight’s win last year. This was the year of representation at the Oscars. Ladybird had a female writer and director, Greta Gerwig. Mudbound had a historic moment as a woman was nominated for Best Cinematography. Get Out was nominated for best Picture and while it didn’t take that home, Jordan Peele won Best Original Screenplay. Call Me By Your Name won Best Adapted Screenplay, being a story about gay love. A Fantastic Woman, a Chilean film starring the first transgender Oscar presenter Daniela Vega, won Best Foreign Language Film.

Insane. It shouldn’t be, but it is. In a Hollywood plagued with creeps, racists, and sexists, this year proved that the world is changing. The good are getting what they deserve. By the way, Taraji P. Henson used almost those same words to Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet on national live television to his face. If you didn’t understand why that was so awkward, it’s because he has been one of those accused in the Hollywood witchunts. Basically, you get what you put out into the world.

The way I pitched this year’s Oscars to my grandma, a traditional Mexican woman, was the inclusion of so many Latinos. Eiza González and Eugenio Derbez were presenters along with Gina Rodriguez, Rita Moreno, the afore mentioned Oscar Isaac and Daniela Vega, Lin Manuel Miranda, Salma Hayek, and Lupita Nyong’o. Alejandro González Iñárritu won a Special Achievement award for his film Flesh and Sand. He, Alfonso Cuarón, and Del Toro are the Three Amigos of Hollywood. Now all three of them have Oscars. I think I heard “Viva Mexico” 3 times during the ceremony. It gave me hope. Not just Latinos, but all marginalized groups are being given the opportunities and respect to demonstrate our talents.

After Frances McDormand’s speech, production companies are utilizing the inclusion rider clause, which adds the assurance of gender and racial equality among cast and crew. We need more representation on both sides of the camera. Look at Wonder Woman and Black Panther. Women and people of color can make amazing films. My grandparents came to this country in the 70’s. When we watched Coco, she said, “And people watched this. Not just Mexicans?” I told her how successful it was and all the great things that were happening in Hollywood by showing her how many successful female comedians there are. She replied, “But I thought they hated us? Why do they hate us and still like our art?” That I couldn’t answer, because I don’t know the true answer. All I know is that a new generation of creative people has bloomed and we are not going to allow the same roadblocks that hindered our predecessors to obstruct young talent anymore.

The Best GIF of the night goes to…Jennifer Garner realizing something!




Out of Africa Analysis

Blixen the Vixen

She had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills (Out of Africa). Typically when watching a film based in Africa, the main characters are African. Considering how interesting Karen’s perspective, I will accept that all of the primary characters are wealthy Europeans. Karen is an independent woman, much like female characters are written in today’s cinema. While she so happened to fall in love with a man, she proved herself to be a smart businesswoman and political powerhouse. She had money and all she needed from Bror was his title. Unfortunately, he would consummate the marriage with the gift of a deadly disease. Even having been given a death sentence, she powered on. Her authority throughout the film is displayed through her interactions with several groups including the natives, the women, and the men.

When Karen first set foot on African soil, her privilege was evident. She wanted them to be careful with her fine crystal. Living on their part was pure survival and she was an adventurer. Life was a luxury to be enjoyed. Perhaps through proximity in work and residence, she began to sympathize with the natives. She ultimately is a caring person. She insisted on the village boy, who would later become her houseboy, to seek medical attention with his injured leg. She knew how to use reverse psychological in order to persuade him to get help despite his pride. She also wanted the local children to be educated. Karen pleaded that more privileged children did not ask to be taught how to read and the African children shouldn’t have to either (Out of Africa). Even the chief of the village warmed up to Blixen’s insistence to better the community, displaying his respect for her and her endeavors. She respected all the natives too, which is why it had never crossed her mind to utilize the natives’ land for plating. She worked side by side with her workers, something most plantation owners and especially no women would even think of doing.

Karen is not a woman of her time. She begins her proposal to Baron Bror by stating what was at risk. She hadn’t found love or a husband and would be denounced as a lonely spinster. Women needed a man to find happiness. She only needed his royalty. Such was the ideal of marriage. We are introduced to another female character, Felicity. She is very much like Karen in that they don’t adhere to female stereotypes. She states that she wants to “run her own show” like Blixen does. While she would like a man, she doesn’t want to belong to someone else. She supposes that women are “supposed to want to be taken” (Out of Africa). While the conclusion of their discussion isn’t captured, Blixen’s response insinuates that Felicity should want to be her own woman, to not wait like a princess in a tower. While on her first outing on safari Blixen is a damsel in distress, she is no stranger to a rifle and a few big game kills. She can obviously take care of herself physically as demonstrated by her take down of a charging lioness. She can protect herself among charging lions as well.

Blixen was often the sole woman among a pride of men. Still, she was often the most powerful or influential. During her first dinner with Finch-Hatton, she lets him know that a real traveler has no need for food or drink. She wanted to make it known that she was just as experienced as any other hunter. Surely, Blixen had been hunting since her schoolgirl days. One of the greatest scenes displaying her prowess was when Finch-Hatton and Barkley demanded to know what she was doing on her way to meet Delamere. Barkley says, “That’s ridiculous. We don’t send women to war”. Karen’s response is, “Well I’m going” as she gets on her horse and continues her journey (Out of Africa). She was the only person to match Finch-Hatton’s spontaneousness. Karen was the type of woman that would be found in today’s society, being that she was liberal in her marriage. Perhaps it was because she held resentment for his philandering or because the initial commitment was a scam, but Blixen was completely willing to let her legal husband go off to be with other women and eventually divorce her to be with one. Then again, she wasn’t being completely faithful either.

Karen Blixen would make a great Disney princess, although I’m not sure how they would convey the adultery and sexually transmitted disease. She was far ahead of her time. Considering her status and wealth, one wouldn’t be blamed for labeling her a privileged white woman taking advantage of African workers and land. The first 20 or so minutes and certain chapters from the book would create the same impression. Those same people must not have known of her contribution and sole management of her coffee plantation. How many Disney princesses can create their own empire during the week and take down full-grown lions from 50 feet away without flinching on the weekend? It is through her interactions with others and the environments around her that amplify her bravery and intelligence.O

Lois Lowry and The Giver Analysis

The Giving Lois Lowry

Dystopian literature has been around for ages. Humans seek answers to the unrelenting question of what the future holds. The last great dystopian novel was George Orwell’s 1984, published in 1949. Needless to say, it had been a long time until an author had delved into that type of world. In Lois Lowry’s most famous novel The Giver, she explored the idea of a seemingly utopian dystopia.

Lois Lowry was born in Honolulu on March 20, 1937 to an Army officer father and at age 19 married a naval officer. Her son would become an Air Force pilot and die in a plane crash. She was constantly surrounded by war and often wrote about the inner lives of innocent civilian families during those troubling times. Perhaps that is why she was so curious about a time where war would no longer exist. She sought a perfect society, without crime or grief (“Lois Lowry”).

The novel The Giver centers around a young boy named Jonas who lives in a seemingly perfect community without conflict. Presumably, the world is a post apocalyptic one as we see memories from the past including images of war. Memory plays a huge role in the story. It takes place in a monotonous world. Everyone is equal and the elders of the community make every decision for you. Some are chosen to be caregivers, engineers, or farmers, but only one is chosen to be “The Receiver”. The main character is given the title of “The Receiver” and fittingly so. The Receiver is the only one who has access to human history. They possess the mental imagery of colors, animals, music, and historical events. The basis of that ostracism of information is the idea that if all of the past, good and bad, is hidden from the general population then there is less to lead to conflict. Race and status do not exist in this haven. Everyone is healthy, partially due to bikes being the primary form of transportation and disabled, elderly, and weak newborns being disposed of, or sent to “elsewhere”. “Elsewhere” is in reality just the act of euthanasia, but no one including Jonas’ doctor father comprehend the horror in the action. Jonas serves as the hero of the series. From early in his life, he questioned everything and would eventually bring society’s collective memories back to the people with the help of the previous “Receiver” now called “The Giver”(Lowry).

The largest moral of the story is the importance of memory to society at large. Memory makes the individual and shapes them into the unique character that they are. Jonas began his journey into memory by learning about the beautiful aspects of history and culture. He enjoyed music, dance, animals, and slowly began noticing colors in his own life. As he progressed in his knowledge, he learned about war and cruelty. Because he and everyone he has ever known had never experienced such things, the memories he saw were traumatizing (Lowry).

This novel was a large contribution to American Literature. Written as a children’s book, with evocative imagery, intriguing characters, and understandable vocabulary, this novel resulted in a following breaking all age and geographic barriers. The book won several awards and is usually assigned to students in school. Its fitting that young children read this book as they are often oblivious to the dangers of the world and only see the beauty in it, the same way Jonas did towards the beginning of his journey.

The memories of the characters are suppressed using daily dosages of drugs. Lois Lowry says that this idea stemmed from watching her father being put in a nursing home. He was beginning to lose memory as is usual with old age. She showed him a picture of her older sister and he couldn’t remember her name nor the fact that she had died. Lois wondered if life would be easier without those painful memories. Is it true that ignorance is bliss?

The reader questions if such a world is better than the one we are living in. If you choose to eliminate half of what you know, are you taking away half of what makes up life? This begs the question, can you truly appreciate the good in life if there is no bad to compare it to? The conflict of choice is removed from “The Giver” characters. Even before they are born, their life is planned out for them. In addition to posing philosophical questions, this novel revolutionized young adult literature and paved the way for other dystopian literature such as “The Maze Runner”, “Divergent”, and “The Hunger Games”. The initial book was followed by three more to round out “The Giver Quartet” series. Each novel followed a new character in a different type of society until all the characters meet in the last book. For example, “Gathering Blue”, the sequel, takes place in the complete opposite of the initial futuristic community and rather shows a primal way of life. In 2014, the novel became a feature film and reintroduced the world to a new generation of children.

Dances With Wolves Film Analysis


Dances with Wolves

The film Dances with Wolves was a passion project of director and actor, Kevin Costner. I am inspired by prominent figures in Hollywood who go out of their way to embody important stories on the big screen, especially the stories of discriminated groups without a voice. Native American tribes were the original inhabitants of what is now the United States of America. Their sacred land was stolen and they were evicted from their homes and forced to the abyss in lethal conditions. So many times in civilization’s history, groups have been seen as nuisances in a more powerful group’s attempt at conquest. In lieu of America’s political climate today, we can learn from this classic piece of cinema. Dances with Wolves is an inspiring piece of art with a strong message that remains relevant to today’s American issues and should be admired as one of the staples of American cinematography.

Dances with Wolves is one of those movies that is legendary in pop culture yet I had never seen it before. I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that this film had won a few Academy Awards and is one of the few widely recognized media creations that used actual Native American actors. I was instantly shocked at the accurate portrayal of war. The gruesome reality is often glamorized for media. I put myself in Dunbar’s boots in that medical tent and believe I would have done the same thing. If he had allowed the surgeon to amputate his foot, the psychological scars of war would become physical and he would never be able to forget his past, that is if he survived the war (Costner). He felt like a pawn in someone else’s war. He looked over at the pile of fallen pawns before him, represented by fallen soldier’s boots. He identified with Cisco the horse immediately because Cisco had literally been branded a pawn of the military as well. When he rode into “No Man’s Land”, he was trying to die. When he survived, he chose to flee to the frontier. The Major aka “The King” was a manifestation of what become of most soldiers as a result of the trauma. Two Socks was the embodiment of Dunbar’s relationship with nature, he wants to get closer but he fears the unknown wild. For Dunbar, it was easier to stay at the fort and wait for reinforcements that would never come, than travel further west. All would change when he encountered the first Sioux (Costner).

The Sioux were very primal and instinctual, which may have been to their advantage. The first one Dunbar saw up close tried to steal Cisco, confirming his pre-conceived bias of Native Americans as savages and thieves. Still, Dunbar was intrigued by the mysterious people (Costner). If Stands with a Fist had been found injured by any other soldier, regardless of being white she would have been used to find the rest of the tribe and killed along with the rest. We know this because of how Dunbar was treated by the soldiers. As we know by Dunbar’s considerable choices, he was no ordinary man. He was willing to not only invite Kicking Bird and Wind in his Hair to his home, but shared his resources whilst sitting among them in equality. When he was finally trusted into the tribe, Dunbar found the sense of community he was lacking and an honest rebuttal to his own prejudice expectations.

I find the storyline of this film to be reminiscent of what is happening today. The white Americans believed in manifest destiny. It was their god given right to colonize the west, regardless of whom they had to fight for it. Hundreds of years later, the white supremacists of America seek to retake their land and power in society. They blame Mexicans for taking their land and jobs although they took Mexicans land-California and Texas- in a very similar way to the Native Americans. They see African Americans as savages and thieves because they do not understand them and fear their culture. The soldiers who found Dances with Wolves called him an “injun”, an outdated and offensive term for a Native American, because he had sympathized with them. He was a traitor in their eyes. It took patience and communication between John and the tribe to create understanding and even friendship, as displayed by Wind in his Hair’s progression from “I do not fear you” to “I am your friend”(Costner). We can learn from that relationship. They were able to teach each other. In addition to friendship, Dances with Wolves was able to learn his place among nature.

The contrast between the Sioux and the white men in attitude towards nature is evident in their actions. For example, early in the film we see Timmons, the oddball mule owner, toss a tin can over his shoulder into the open prairie. Dunbar is confused by the insensitive action, but Timmons seems to have no second thoughts. The white men also seek to claim as much of the land as they can, even referring to the Native Americans as “thieves” of their property (Costner). The Sioux in opposition treat the land as a provider of life, uprooting their whole home to pursue the buffalo. The white men killed the first herd for “tongues and hides”, leaving the rest of the carcass to rot in waste. A soldier shot Two Socks, seeing the wolf as prey rather than the friend that John had found in him. This film is a visually stimulating and raw representation of the American Frontier. The ending may have seen like a let down, but I would have expected nothing less that the true ending all Native American tribes faced. It is a reminder of America’s horrific past and a warning to prevent history from repeating once again.


Into The Wild Sociological Analysis

Chris views culture as completely materialistic. The biggest scene to exemplify this view is the celebration dinner after his college graduation. Chris sits with his sister, mother, and father in a somewhat classy restaurant. His mother brings up the fact that his car is old and must be replaced. She says that his father and she are going to purchase him a brand new one. He quickly rebuts saying that he is fine with the car he has. It is clear that his parents care a lot about their appearance, and how their children make them look by association. A fancy car would not only demonstrate Chris’s success and wealth, but that of his parents as well. Chris knows this, so he goes on a rant saying how all everyone wants is “things, things, things”. In other words, he disapproves of the material culture and the value put on it. Material culture is the physical and tangible possession component of life. For example, in today’s society cars, clothes, and money are symbols of wealth.

In addition, he has a negative view of customs such as marriage. This is most likely due to the fact that the marriage he viewed all of his life was a sham or as his sister put it, a lie. He does not know what a healthy relationship is because he has never seen one before. Not only was the marriage of his parents a lie, but his whole family was a lie. First, his mom was the mistress of his father, who was married when he was conceived. Second, his parents constantly fought but stayed together regardless. Therefore, the pain was prolonged. The film never said this outright, but perhaps the entirety of his college education was his father’s idea. It did not seem as though Chris was the academic type. Although he is intelligent, I do not think he would want to succumb to the educational institution.

We see him interact with primarily one culture: hippies. But as Jane describes, there are many kinds of hippies, like rubber tramps and leather tramps. They, along with the residents of Slab City, did not have the standard views of life. Rather than have a career in the regular modern world, they created their own world apart from the complications of daily life. What they were left with were the simple joys in music, nature, and family. The same was with the foreigner hippies Chris met in the canyon. They found happiness in each other and freedom from society. He also met Wayne, who taught him hard work and what it means to provide for oneself. Still, the prospects of that lifestyle may have been ruined by Wayne’s eventually criminal trouble. After Chris returns from Mexico, we get a glimpse of what would have been Chris if he had stayed with standard culture. It seems as though the thought of it made Chris sick. The last culture he meets is that of the solitary elderly (after meeting some naked hippies in the desert). It is with Ron that Chris experiences spirituality and almost gets a sense of what having a loving father feels like.

I would not consider him a part of counterculture only because he does not actively oppose the main culture. Although he lived all of his life in standard culture, he decides that it goes against what he believes in and moves away to create his own in Alaska, by himself. It seemed as though Chris was tempted to join some of the people he met. Still, he decides that what he needed was to be apart from culture altogether, which in itself is its own culture.

Although Chris’s upbringing seems to have been common, what happened inside the house was much different. He experienced judgment and viewed abuse at its worst. I think Chris would have a conflict perspective. He knew what it meant to be high class and later discovered what it meant to belong to no class at all. We discover through Corine that Chris took many courses related to inequality, like one on condition in Africa. Those classes may have seemed irrelevant to most, but maybe they had an impact on Chris. Surely, he knew that society was unequal. Perhaps that is why he gave his savings to charity. In other words, money wasn’t always allotted to those who deserved it. Also, he has a conflict perspective on school as an agent of socialization. Chris may have had a college education, but he didn’t use it at all. I imagine he viewed institutionalized education as a training center for corporate drones. Students are expected to learn their craft and take their place in society. Still, they do not develop a sense of self or socialize. Students are too focused on getting into college and then getting their degree, and then graduating. Throughout the process, they never socialize for their own well being.

Humans must do this through experience, which is definitely something that Chris had. Corine describes that Chris was always adventurous. He was once found in a house down the street in the middle of the night, standing on a chair, with his hand in the house owner’s candy drawer. This seems like a metaphor for Chris’s adventurous vigor. He must leave comfortable society (his house) to walk down the street (travel) and get on a chair (potentially dangerous situations) to find the candy in the candy drawer (to find the meaning of life). Perhaps this assumption is a stretch, but it is not too farfetched. We may never know what truly went on in the mind of Chris McCandless. We do know what his home life was like. Aside from home troubles, his life seemed perfect (in culture’s standards). He had money, an education, and supporters. Only one thing is certain: Chris was certainly unique.

Rhetoric of SNL

“Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night with your host Oscar Sifuentes”. That phrase is usually said by the narrator after the opening sequence. It states the host of the weekly episode. Every episode of SNL begins with a cold open, which is usually a political skit. Regardless of the nature of the skit, each cold open ends with one of the actors breaking character and yelling “Live from New York, its Saturday Night!” The show once went by the name Saturday Night when it first aired on NBC on October 11, 1975 (Saturday).Saturday Night Live is a long running comedy television program that features a variety of live skits, thus categorized with the term “variety show”. Every episode is hosted by a celebrity guest who performs an opening monologue after the cold open and participates in sketches throughout the show. Along with the weekly host, each episode features a musical artist to perform twice during the hour long show, except for Prince who was the first artist to perform one, 8 minute performance. The show’s comedic timing, entertaining hosts, and musical performances give it the appeal to reach a large audience of different fan bases.

Lorne Michaels’s name is synonymous with the program. He is the producer, director, and head writer of SNL. In many ways, he is the author of SNL. He writes the skits in a way so that it will impact the audience in more ways than just laughter. The audience is primarily adults in the United States, but it is very likely that the program reaches audiences globally. The jokes include satirical humor pertaining to issues plaguing the Unites States and for that reason the audience is primarily the United States. Aside from just relatable and often times raunchy skits, the show puts a comedic spin on news events in a segment called Weekend Update.

Weekend Update is an informative parody of classic news programs. It is one of the few sketches that is consistently in every episode. It consists of usually two of the shows players relaying news events of the week with a comedic spin. Logically, logos, the sketch gives real information about the weeks most important or unusual events. The sketches include both national and international news. For example, the fake news anchor may say something like, “Kim Jong Un won the election in North Korea”. Then they would follow with, “He easily defeated his challenger, Or Else” (Saturday). The effect is humor along with the knowledge that North Korea’s government may seem corrupt to the typical American.

The main appeal used in the entire show is pathos, or emotion. Happiness is often caused by a joke. SNL is full of jokes. Therefore, the show’s humor often creates some level of happiness to most viewers. Although some of the news events occurring around the world may be devastating, the writers know how to make the retelling of those events appealing comedically rather than in a depressing manner. The show SNL was and still is a comedic way to cope with devastating events. The show serves as a distraction from the emotional pain. Still, the show tries to not cross the symbolic line with their humor. In that way, the show is very helpful to those that worry or have been personally affected by events discussed during Weekend Update.

Many of the jokes during Weekend Update often come at the expense of prominent figures. For example, the show very frequently jokes about Obama and how many very openly disapprove of his health care initiative, Obamacare. The show is a friend to Obama and has even had him on as a guest, so the jokes aren’t taken too harshly by the subjects of the jokes. The jokes question his character and motives. Still, sometimes the jokes will work in favor of the United States, making the country look better and less “damaged” than other countries. Those jokes will evoke patriotism from the American viewers, which is a form of character. In that way, Weekend Update even uses ethos effectively

The context of the event depends on what happened that week. For example, when Presidents give speeches, Weekend Update will surely dissect those speeches and joke about the speakers themselves. Many of the jokes are usually related to the US and other countries might not understand them, but like mentioned before Weekend Update also covers global news. The fact that other countries’ viewers may not understand American government or culture would be a constraint of the show’s conveyed message. The idea of spreading knowledge of national and global news in a comedic way would be the shows exigence, or purpose.

Saturday Night Live is still running strong today. As long as the country goes on, there will be issues. As long as there are issues, there will be material for the show to play off of. “In any rhetorical situation there will be at least one controlling exigence which functions as the organizing principle: it specifies the audience to be addressed and the change to be effected” (Bitzer 7). Some people will love the show for its jokes, lovable characters, and great live music. Some will love it for its satirical political skits. Many admire the shows honesty. It doesn’t sugarcoat when it recollects events. It doesn’t hold back in providing the viewer with an opinion if the viewer can’t make one for them self. “In short, rhetoric is a mode of altering reality, not by the direct application of energy to objects, but by the creation of discourse which changes reality through the mediation of thought and action” (4). It causes the viewers to think about the issues. It may be at times offensive, but it is still a defender of rights for all. In a country like the US, famous for ignorance and blatant racism, it’s when watching SNL or events like The Olympics that many feel most patriotic. The show’s writers know how to get people to pay attention and that’s what rhetoric is all about. The show is logically, ethically, and emotionally appealing and that is why it is successful in attracting and keeping loyal viewers.