All posts filed under: Thoughts

How YouTube & Instagram Are Normalizing the Vegan Lifestyle

Thanks in part to social media, being vegan in America has become more acceptable and even “cool” in some circles. But more importantly, digital vegan activists have made veganism approachable for many of those who may not have access to the movement otherwise. YouTube and Instagram, in particular, seem to be platforms in which vegan content creators can work to normalize the lifestyle, while simultaneously creating a digital social community where vegans can find the support and resources they need to sustain their lifestyle decisions. Based on current food industry trends, the U.S. vegan population seems to be on the rise, though the exact increase is difficult to gauge since recent reliable data isn’t available. But with major ice cream companies such as Ben & Jerry’s and Dreyer’s now offering dairy free flavors, and a wheat, coconut oil, and potato-protein based veggie burger funded by Bill Gates being served at a Michelin starred restaurant, it’s a safe bet that companies are responding to rising consumer demands for plant-based options.[1] In addition to the recent expansion …

There’s No Place Like Home

As I captioned the above photo on Instagram, things are always changing in Tucson, but also remaining exactly the same. I spent 24 years of my life living in the same city. I was born there, went to school there, fell in love there, made friends there, lost friends there, had loved ones be born there and die there. And when I moved away I had no idea what it would feel like to come back home. When I’m in Tucson I’m bombarded by familiar smells, sounds, and feelings. The air is different, the stars shine brighter, the birds chirp louder. In the summer there’s the smell of creosote and the sound of cicadas. The fall starts off warm, but a coolness eventually rolls in. The winters are chilly and dark and there’s something wonderful about feeling cold in the desert. In the spring the Texas Rangers bloom with bright purple flowers and the smell of sunscreen fills the air as people flock outside before it gets too hot again. While I wouldn’t trade living in …

Looks, Likeability, & Constant Worry

I used to worry so much about being liked. I wouldn’t admit it to myself at the time, but I spent much of high school, college, and a few years after undergrad stressing out about being a universally well-liked person (though I now realize that person doesn’t exist). Unlike most boys, girls are often brought up to be likable. Being “ladylike” has social capital – if we look and act pleasant, we’re taught we’ll move ahead. Be too loud or bossy or unkempt and you may create some enemies. I’ve spent most of my life feeling that my likeability (including how I’m perceived physically) was what mattered most. These were feelings that I internalized and battled with constantly. I didn’t want to feel that way, and I knew that it went against all that I felt I stood for. But time and time again I gave into my insecurities and felt that I wasn’t enough. Not pretty enough…not thin enough…not cool enough…not clever enough…not fun enough…not smart enough… After years of wasting so much time worrying …

Brown, Kiddo, & Tarantino

OR: Tarantino’s Leading Ladies: Jackie Brown, Beatrix Kiddo, & Women’s Empowerment On-screen Quentin Tarantino’s body of work – from his feature film debut Reservoir Dogs (1992), to his most recent epic The Hateful Eight (2015) – consists of films that are violent, highly stylized, dialogue-driven, oftentimes problematic, and always provocative. Though each film in Tarantino’s oeuvre is quite different from the one that came before it or followed, numerous qualities of his work remain consistent. In each of his films Tarantino celebrates popular culture by commemorating genres that were once relegated to the margins by Hollywood, such as martial arts cinema, Blaxploitation, and spaghetti westerns. While appropriating genres, Tarantino provides his own authorial stamp by writing dialogue-driven scripts which are benefited by episodic structures. A “Tarantino film,” one can almost always be assured, features revenge at the heart of the narrative and creates pleasure through the irreverent combination of humor and violence. And, with each of Tarantino’s films, the appropriateness of his representations of violence, race, gender, and revisionist history, come into question time and …

Growing Into My Tallness

Once my greatest source of discomfort, my height is now my shield, my strength. In kindergarten I towered over my peers – both boys and girls. My shoe size grew every year, correlating with my age until middle school. Most women will never wear size ten or eleven shoes, let alone many prepubescent girls. By sixth grade I was nearly the height I am today – 5’11”. As a result of my height bracket, I never thought I was cute. My bigness made me feel void of femininity. Now I find great beauty in my stature, but as an adolescent all I wanted was to be smaller. To blend in. To be what boys at that time thought was pretty. It pains me to think of how much time, even as a young girl, I spent worrying about what others thought of me. Feeling too tall, too big, too uncommon. While I’ve grown to love my height, there are still days when my size feels daunting. Overpowering. Not pretty. Unfeminine. Almost eight years ago I …

Life After Facebook

Why I Can’t Stand Facebook, which I wrote in 2014 after dropping the site from my life, remains the most popular post I’ve written for Catch-all (apparently people are constantly Googling “Can’t stand Facebook”?). Since a few years have passed, I decided to share a brief update on what living without Facebook has been like. Before getting into the benefits of LWOFB (I just made that up but don’t you think “Life Without Facebook” could catch on?) I think it’s important to characterize what type of Facebook user I was, and how the site became damaging for me personally. After years of using Facebook, and being connected to nearly everyone I knew, I became obsessed with my online persona. I was constantly wondering “is my header photo cool enough?” “Do I look good in my profile photo?” “Are my status updates clever or getting sufficient likes?” I’m also a pretty curious (or maybe even nosy) person, and as much as I wish it weren’t the case, Facebook lurking was something I definitely took part in. “Oh that girl …

Hollywood’s Global Domination

My experience of foreign cinema – or the value that it has provided for me personally – is deeply rooted in my national identity and Hollywood’s history of global dominance. Scholar B. Ruby Rich writes in Subtitles: On the Foreignness of Film, “My guess is that foreign films function as a rebuke for some viewers, offering up evidence that the world is not made in ‘our’ image, and that neither our society nor our language is universal.”[1] While I agree with Rich’s evaluation, I’d like to complicate it just slightly. My argument, instead, is that foreign films function as a rebuke for most American viewers specifically, though not all. In his chapter titled Hollywood’s International Market, from The American Film Industry (ed. Tino Balio), Thomas H. Guback describes how Hollywood began to permeate the global film market after World War I, acting in a moment when numerous countries were economically devastated by the war and left financially indebted to the U.S. As a result, due to the surmounting strength of the American film market, international film …

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

Since my last blog post I’ve been all over Iceland, spent a long weekend in New York City, returned to Los Angeles for a few days, and took a trip back home to Tucson, AZ. Once I’m back in Los Angeles I’ll have to find a new place to live, move, say goodbye to my sister who’s leaving LA, and find a job. Regardless of the major changes coming my way, I’m still putting off the stress of thinking too much about everything until I can’t avoid it any longer. Beyond the logistics of moving and looking for work, there’s a lot in my life that’s currently up in the air. Graduate school was wonderfully rich and life changing – but exhausting – so I’m glad that’s over now. Aside from personal issues, drumpf and his people are wreaking havoc on this country and our world. I can’t help but feel that Americans are on the brink of a collective meltdown, and we’re all just holding on by a thread. But while all of this has been …

On America, Mobility, & Freedom in “Easy Rider”

“A man went looking for America, but he couldn’t find it anywhere.” Few taglines remain relevant long after a film’s release, but Easy Rider’s ominous warning (“he couldn’t find it anywhere”) maintains its potency nearly 50 years after its debut. In David Laderman’s Driving Visions, he situates the road film genre within an explicitly American context and characterizes Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969) as “arguably the quintessential, genre-defining road movie.”[1] Following the cult popularity of low-budget biker exploitation films, Easy Rider seems to have borrowed from the aesthetic and tonal vigor of these works, but extended itself to a broader cultural critique that was relevant for a wider spectrum of Americans falling under the banner of “the counterculture.” While the influence of cinema imported from Europe and Asia facilitated the rise of the American auteur, the explosive socio-political context of late 1960’s could also be credited for cultivating unique works which explored social tensions and questions of identity, and more specifically, what it means to be an American. Easy Rider – in addition to preceding …