Summer is a time for students to relax. This often allows students to consume and appreciate art and media more. This article highlights five Southern writers and a major piece of art/entertainment that they experienced and enjoyed over the summer.
Album: Freakout/Hot Chip Release – reviewed by Noelle Hendricks
Hot Chip are an unlikely band to make an album about teenage angst. The British electro-dance group are best known for their offbeat club tracks, and the members are over forty. But their latest offer, that of August Out of my mind/Release, seems tailor-made for stressed out high schoolers. Between funky rhythms and smooth synthesizers, Out of my mind/Release offers irresistibly appealing encouragement to seek help and support one another.
Out of my mind/Release is clearly an album about the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially on social life and mental health. His lyrics concern before the song “Broken” that “Your open wounds won’t heal without my touch”, before realizing in “Miss the Bliss” that “You can heal if you’re hurt / You can heal anytime”. Despite the importance of these messages, however, the album’s best quality is that it’s just plain fun to listen to. The Hot Chips have been mastering their craft since before Southern students were born, and it shows. The opening three tracks create a funky vibe driven by jittery drums and pounding beats, then elegantly give way to warm, layered ballads and long, pulsating songs that make you want to plug in your headphones and dance around the block.
The excitement of the album’s arrangements helps balance the lyrics which often veer towards melancholy. On “The Evil That Men Do”, the album’s most overtly political track, rapper Cadence Weapon lists various evils plaguing society – the “world on fire” and “Elect those who pander and meddle”, to name a few – but the rhythm keyboard makes the listener’s foot tap in time. “Broken” finds Hot Chip lead vocalist Alexis Taylor wondering “Am I just broken?”, over beautiful, smooth synthesizers. Hot Chip doesn’t languish in their troubles; they find the beauty in them. And they want their audience to do the same.
Out of my mind/Release offers a captivating solution to the malaise from which the world suffers: just help each other. Sounds simple enough, but amidst the isolation and turmoil of the last few years, people seem to have forgotten how to support each other. Song after song, the album encourages listeners to try to remember. Some of the album’s most poignant lyrics come from “Not Alone”. In the emotional ballad, Taylor sings about “turning [his] life around” with lines like “Anxiety can only kill a man/If it always refuses the helping hand”. At a time when stress is fueled by everything from college applications to midterms, it’s a message worth hearing.
TV shows: The bear – reviewed by Griffin Larson
FX’s The Bear, created by Christopher Storer, is a television series that premiered on June 23, 2022. The show takes place in Chicago and follows the story of Carmy (played by Jeremy Allen White), who is struggling to get hold of the sandwich of family shop after losing his brother to suicide. The cinematography, acting, writing and direction come together beautifully in eight intense and fast-paced episodes, allowing the audience a glimpse of the stressful atmosphere of restaurant kitchens and what it takes to run a struggling small business.
Every morning the restaurant opens and immediately the stress sets in, never stopping for the rest of the day, which is reflected in a rough and dirty cinematic style. This involves lots of close-ups, fast and hard camera cuts, and constant angry yelling and cursing. You can feel the stress in the air, refusing to go away as more and more orders pile up. He keeps building and building and building as the characters grow more and more irritated and exhausted, until, finally, the restaurant closes for the day. The next morning, it all starts again.
While this fast pace is common throughout much of the show, the writers have allowed us a few breaks from the kitchen. The story follows Carmy’s individual journey towards understanding and ending her brother’s suicide. Between the stress of the kitchen and the stress of his emotions, she’s overwhelmed and struggles to learn to deal with everything that’s going on in his life, which drives a gap between him and his family. Over time, however, he slowly begins to open up to support and her relationship with his family improves. Also, there are a lot of funny moments and jokes throughout the episodes, which lightens the mood.
With a 100% approval rating and 91% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, The bear has proven to be an expertly crafted show and a must-see for anyone who appreciates a combination of great writing and storytelling with intense set pieces, while still wanting to find themselves laughing at parts.
Concert: KCON extension – reviewed by Hodan Ibrahim
At the end of summer this year, my friends and I went to a concert held at the State Theater called KCON. KCON is an annual K-pop music convention held in multiple locations around the world where fans meet their favorite artists. This year they decided to go on tour and Minneapolis was on the roster. This year’s artists were STAYC, CRAVITY, LIGHTSUM and TO1. They were all fourth generation. first-time bands that have been chosen to tour this year. When it comes to KPOP generations, the most recent one is the 4th generation, which would mostly start in 2017-18, including groups like IZ*ONE, TXT, ITZY and more. Usually you could distinguish their music/gen with their more “pop” and “hyper” sound, and most of them are young. My friends and I decided to go for the VIP package as you get a meet and greet session with the artists and special souvenirs.
I have been a fan of KPOP since 2015 when I was introduced by my family members with artists BIGBANG, TWICE, GOT7 and GIRL’S GENERATION. This was my first time seeing my favorite bands CRAVITY and LIGHTSUM in concert and I was very excited to meet them. I had already been a fan of some of the members of CRAVITY as they were part of a former temporary group called X1, but they disbanded due to controversy in 2019.
They had great stage presence and good fan interactions. As for the VIP package that was promised to us, my expectations were not met. The meet and greet session was just walking past the group as they had a screen in front of them where they could barely see each other and the staff were yelling at you to hurry up. Some people had a chance to say hello and see who their favorites were. I, on the other hand, didn’t know which group was which, as they were clustered so close to each other that they looked like a group. Souvenirs were not handed out either which was something I had hoped for as I wanted to keep something during the concert. I still enjoyed it, especially with the live music, and would do it again, even if the VIP package wasn’t worth it for me.
Movie: The Hate You Give (2018) – reviewed by Ikram Mohamed
“The Hate U Give” is a 2018 film, based on the book of the same name by Angie Thomas. The film is directed by George Tillman Jr. and stars Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russel Hornsby, KJ Apa and Common. It follows a young black girl, Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) as she witnesses police brutality, racism and white hatred in her town. She witnesses her friend Khalil, whom she has known since her birth, being killed by the police while she is in the car with him. This prompts her to organize protests to get justice for her best friend. The protests ultimately came to nothing and ended up causing more chaos in the city. The protests sparked unrest, prompting a stronger police response and further brutality. Starr Carter and the people she was protesting with ended up being badly beaten by the police. I really like this movie, it was very inspirational for teenagers and younger children. It is a progressive film with various emotional themes and complex characters.
Sophomore Jasmine Toney, who also saw the film, said, “It was very inspiring, especially the way Starr reacted to the white girl, who was very prejudiced against black people.” She really liked the movie. “I think it’s a great movie for other young people because it shows how black people go through the day without getting killed. Another reason I think it’s a good movie is because it shows how no matter what citizens do, they will never get justice from police brutality.” Another Southern student who has seen the film, Sophomore Nadira Abdirahman, said said: “I liked the way you hosted multiple protests and the way you handled it was very inspiring. It taught me what it feels like to work against injustice. ” In response to how they would react if had been eyewitnesses of police brutality, he said, “If I was an eyewitness, I would record it and take a picture of the police badge, post it on the internet and expose the policeman. I would fight for Khalil’s justice with Starr by my side! I would also testify against the police if he were taken to court. I would do whatever Starr is doing because it is inspiring.
TV shows: Criminal masterminds (2005-2020) – reviewed by Faisa Mohamed
“Criminal Minds,” which ran for 15 seasons and nearly 15 years, is a television series about an elite team of FBI profilers who analyze the most twisted criminal minds in the country. The show focuses on the backstory of the victims, the motives of the perpetrators, and the profiling required to investigate crimes and find the unsub and individual heinous crimes. It also shows the struggle and personal issues the detectives and agents face as they solve their case, as well as the emotional damage they and their family must suffer. Criminal Minds is a show that appeals to a wide range of people, including many Southern students. Sophomore Aisha Ahmed said, “I really enjoyed the show, it was interesting and showed a lot of profound things that I think everyone should know and pay attention to.” Aisha also thinks the show could help her in the outer worlds, such as by helping you to be more aware of your surroundings. It makes you think about the crimes happening in your area and ways to keep yourself safe. Knowing how to protect yourself when in dangerous situations and how to avoid them is something this show can help with. When you hear about people losing their lives, it really sticks with you and makes you aware when you are in situations where you need to protect yourself.
Sophomore Lala Timberlake “I think it’s a senior show and I watch it with my mom, but I honestly think it’s good.” She also thinks the show is quite boring, but the interesting parts are the fast pace, mysterious plots and cliffhangers. Finally, both Aisha and Lala have defined the genre of the “Criminal Minds” series. They said, “I think ‘Criminal Minds’ is a real crime show because it’s based on real events or things that happened. It can also be called a mystery and a drama because the audience is left without many details that they discover throughout the episodes, effectively using suspense to keep the audience engaged. This is why I think criminal masterminds can be defined as true crime, drama and mystery. I watched Criminal Minds because the cliffhangers attracted me the most, which made me sit on the edge of my seat while watching.