Cultural Consumption Blog

December 11, 2015

I finished my book that I’ve been reading for a few weeks, Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman. I began writing a book review on it for class which helped me collect my thoughts, but I’m still not really sure how I feel about it. The one word that comes to mind when I think of the book is disappointment.

I actually liked the stories; they were eerie and reminded me of Stephen King. It was definitely an entertaining book. However, I would have enjoyed it much more if it weren’t for Gaiman’s long-winded introduction at the beginning of the book. He built up the stories by saying they were deeply disturbing and he was warning his readers. I love horror books and movies and based on his misleading introduction I was expecting just that – horror. None of the stories “disturbed” me or frightened me. I almost wish I either didn’t read the introduction or he didn’t include one. Perhaps he should have just left out his stupid warning because the rest of the introduction was really interesting to me.

I agree with Gaiman in that I enjoy hearing where authors pull their inspiration from. Gaiman says that since he enjoys that sort of thing, he decided to include it in his intro. He talks about Bradbury, Clarke, Wolfe and other science fiction writers being an inspiration to him.

This also sort of let me down because it reminded me of Stephen King who I’m a huge fan of. Maybe I compared their works too much because I was disappointed that Gaiman’s work didn’t have the same effect on me. Long after a King book, the stories stick in my head and I keep ruminating over them. Unfortunately Gaiman failed to do that for me. I should have chosen King’s new novel instead.

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December 7, 2015

Shows/Movies:

  • HGTV
  • Youtube videos
  • Gossip Girl
  • Survivor

Books:

  • Trigger Warning

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December 4, 2015

Another documentary I watched that is on the roster at my internship was Blackfish. It is about orcas in captivity and focuses on the harm living at SeaWorld has on them. They develop all sorts of physical problems from being contained in such a small area. Scientists have observed that whales are highly intelligent and emotional mammals and being held captive takes a huge toll on them that is not publicized.

A large part of the documentary focuses on the controversies surrounding trainers being killed by the orcas. The orcas get very frustrated and upset and then lash out against their trainers. This doesn’t make them dangerous animals, just dangerous being held captive in a place when they shouldn’t be. Most of the trainers also are not experts and did not have schooling for this job. SeaWorld finds charismatic individuals who can put on a good show for the visitors, so this is not safe for any of the employees or the animals.

SeaWorld had an aggressive attack against Blackfish, claiming that it’s all false. Personally I think SeaWorld is full of shit and that Blackfish showed nothing but the truth. This documentary really upset me and made me think about things a lot differently.

First of all, I’m a huge animal lover if I haven’t mentioned that before. It pains me to watch things like this where an intelligent, self-aware animal is in so much distress. I loved SeaWorld and aquariums as a kid, and never would have thought about the awful things going on behind-the-scenes. In fact, I don’t think many people think about these issues. Now there is talk about shutting down the orca exhibits which would be wonderful. The film shed a ton of light on this issue and a lot of the changes happening have to do with the popularity of Blackfish.

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November 30, 2015

Shows/Movies:

  • HGTV (Island Hunters, I think?)
  • Clips from Blackfish documentary
  • Friends

Books:

  • Trigger Warning

Food:

  • Tiger’s Tale hard apple cider with caramel vodka (so good!) and “New Jersey Burger” with porkroll, of course.

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November 27, 2015

I was home in New Jersey over the weekend and went to eat at a local childhood favorite restaurant. It was completely remodeled but had the same vibe that it always had. It’s always filled with locals, usually younger kids. Since it was close to Thanksgiving it was filled with mostly college students seeing old friends. I have been going there since I was probably in middle school and since then it has had the same owners. It is a pretty small, cozy atmosphere with a wide variety of foods on the menu. They’re famous for their bagels and unique cream cheese spreads, but they also offer all sorts of sandwiches, wraps, burgers and more.

Every time I go into Bagel Barn it makes me feel warm with good memories. Since I’ve been going since I was so young, I’ve either gone with my family or friends from school. This place was also a joint that my friends and I would go to afterschool to grab food. It makes me feel content and I’ve had so many fun times hanging out with friends and the owner/workers there. It’s such a comfortable place because of its casual environment, and also great for younger people because of the inexpensive prices. It’s also quite warm and welcoming and gives me a different feeling/vibe than any other restaurant.

I always look forward to going there for comfort food during my breaks when I’m home and meeting up with friends I haven’t seen for a while.

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November 23, 2015

Shows/Movies:

  • HGTV shows
  • Survivor
  • Saturday Night Live
  • The Walking Dead

Books:

  • Trigger Warning

Food:

  • P-ridge chicken bacon ranch pizza
  • Bagel Barn

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November 20, 2015

I was in New Jersey over the weekend and went to see a performance at a local bar. My boyfriend’s friend Connor performs original songs, sings and plays guitar. They formerly were in a band together, so Connor asked my boyfriend to play a couple songs with him. My boyfriend Victor plays many instruments but ended up alternating between drums and violin accompanying Connor.

The show was really fun, in a great environment and filled with supportive people. Most of the locals are friends with Connor and Victor so it was really warm and inviting. Although I have heard Connor perform before, I never got to see Vic play violin or in this sort of setting, so for me it was really cool to watch him in his element.

Something that intrigued me about the whole experience was that it was unlike other performances I’ve seen. That sense of community that I described earlier was so visible even though I didn’t know most people at the bar, just a handful of Vic’s friends. The support and coming together for the music and musicians was a really awesome experience. Along with Connor’s original songs, he also played covers of a lot of popular songs that everyone can sing along too. It was definitely a unique show and I’m glad I had that experience.

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November 16, 2015

Food:

  • Panera squash soup and sierra turkey sandwich
  • Everready salad and soup
  • China Wok
  • Dunkin Donuts s’mores hot chocolate

Shows/Movies:

  • #ufo videos on Twitter/YouTube
  • The Walking Dead
  • American Horror Story

Other:

  • Live show at Trenton Social bar

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November 13, 2015

I watched another documentary from my work (incidentally another food-related one) called Fed Up. I didn’t think it would affect me as much as it did, but I had a similar reaction to the one I watched the other week. This one was less about the meat/dairy industry and more about sugar and processed foods. The film was made in a really fun, relatable way (narrated and produced by Katie Couric) and showed some shocking statistics. It looks a lot at obesity in America and how sugar is literally poured into every food.

The most shocking issue explored in the documentary is how low-fat foods have the same sugar content as non-diet foods. I guess as a culture we don’t think about these things and automatically assume the low-fat is a better option. Something else interesting is that when fats are cut out of foods they are just processed to make dairy products like cheese. So years ago cheese began being added to everything. This hit home for me because I remember being in my middle school cafeteria and cheese was being added to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I remember complaining to my parents since that was my go-to food, but not knowing why they were doing that. The documentary said this was around the same time they were cutting fat from foods and this whole dairy craze started happening. It was interesting to notice things from when I was younger and be able to relate to the film.

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November 8, 2015

Shows/Movies:

  • Gossip Girl
  • YouTube
  • Fed Up documentary

Food:

  • Starbucks hot chocolate
  • Chocolate covered cherries

Music:

  • Big grams- Lights on
  • Twenty One Pilots

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November 6, 2015

I know two blog posts ago I wrote about The Walking Dead but the last one I saw is worthy of another blog post. This might sound really stupid to those who do not get super invested in television shows or emotional over them. The episode “Thank You” left me turning it off early and crying. One of the main characters on the show appeared to have been killed off and yeah, I cried. A lot. One of my favorite things about TWD is the character development and how that really is the focal point of the show – not the walkers. After being a viewer for six years, I’ve become so emotionally invested in the characters and care what happens to (some) of them.

After reading about reactions to this episode, I learned I wasn’t alone. Many viewers felt a sense of betrayal and were heartbroken from this death. I don’t know if I felt betrayal exactly, but it made me really believe that no character on the show is safe. I also feel pretty hopeless now for them. There are only a handful of strong fighters left and I was left feeling like they have no way out of their current situation. After turning off the episode early, I composed myself and sat back down to watch the last five minutes. I was thinking to myself “how much worse can this get?” Well, I was wrong. They left the episode looking like the main character is going to die. I am so upset and feeling done with this show but I’ll probably watch until the end just because I want to know what happens. After typing up my reaction, it is crazy to think about how much a television show can affect our feelings and really impact us.

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November 1, 2015

Music:

  • Coleman Hell- 2 heads (song and music video)
  • Drake- Hotline bling (song and video)
  • Elle King- America’s sweetheart

Shows/TV:

  • American Horror Story Hotel
  • Survivor
  • Walking Dead
  • The Office
  • Gossip Girl

Food:

  • Chicken bacon ranch pizza from P-ridge

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October 30, 2015

At my internship at React to Film I can borrow as many DVDs as I want from the library. I brought home Food Inc. which is a mind blowing documentary about the truth behind the meat and dairy industry in the United States.

There is way too much to cover about this film in one blog post so I highly recommend you see it for yourself. I didn’t know how the food industry (in particular, meat) was regulated by only a few companies and how almost everything is processed. Something that shocked me was the kinds of chemicals that are pumped into produce that isn’t in season. Even things that you would think are healthy off the top of your head aren’t necessarily. The best way to eat really is organic and food from local farms. There are some farms featured in the film that run independently of this giant corporations and treat their animals much better than others.

Being a huge animal lover, this really hit home for me. There are a ton of graphic scenes of animals being brutally murdered and tortured which are heartbreaking. This film made me upset but really opened my eyes. I showed the film to my dad too, and it is so powerful it really makes you rethink the kinds of foods you’re putting in your body. This is an awesome film because it possesses the power to make you think and probably make different food choices.

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October 25, 2015

Shows/Movies:

  • The Walking Dead
  • AHS Hotel
  • Gossip Girl
  • Food Inc.
  • Survivor

Music:

  • Death Cab for Cutie
  • Portugal the Man
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers

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October 23, 2015

One of my favorite shows, The Walking Dead came back for its 6th season. Usually the premieres and finales are pretty strong episodes and the weaker ones are thrown in the middle but I didn’t really think this was the case this season. The episode was just okay – the plot was alright but they produced it in such a manner that was very inconsistent with any other episode they’ve done.

So the first episode of this season had flashbacks (which are normal for the series) but they were done in black and white. Now, this may seem like a minor detail but I didn’t see it that way. For five years this series has never done that, that I can remember. So throwing in a completely random element like that just for one episode bothered me. It just felt so inconsistent and like the creators didn’t even care about this episode. Sometimes I feel like they are grasping at straws to do something different which they don’t need to and it gets disappointing.

The following episodes proceeded to be done how they usually are. However, the second one of the season blew me away. It was one of the scariest, most brutal episode in my opinion of any season and it really held my interest (which hasn’t been the norm for this show). There were barely any walkers and the real threat were other humans who call themselves Wolves. They brutally butcher other people while chaining others up to abduct. This series always has me on a rollercoaster because I have been so invested in the characters for years. Even though I don’t particularly enjoy the show like I used to, I will still watch until the end.

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October 18, 2015

Shows/Movies:

  • The Walking Dead
  • How to Get Away with Murder
  • Insidious III

Food:

  • P-Ridge
  • Olive Garden

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October 16, 2015

The first two episodes of American Horror Story Hotel were pretty disappointing for me. I’ve seen all the other seasons and loved them all except the third season – Coven. Hearing the cast list for Hotel and premise, I was super excited to see it. My housemates also love it so we planned to have dinner and watch the show together in our living room every week. I was very much looking forward to this until the first episode.

It was straight up disappointing. I guess there were some creepy parts but overall it wasn’t scary and the trailers were quite misleading. I thought it had the potential to do so much better with the (I’m assuming) high budget and actors. However, it just fell short. The second episode explained quite a bit more and kept me a little more interested. My friends and housemates think the same thing and many people describe this season as pure shock value. This is definitely my least favorite season which is so disappointing when you’re so invested in a show.

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October 11, 2015

Shows/Movies:

  • American Horror Story hotel
  • How to Get Away with Murder
  • Are You the One

Books:

  • Walden- Henry David Thoreau

Music:

  • Sirius XM altnation

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October 9, 2015

A ton of my friends have repeatedly told me I need to watch the show How to Get Away with Murder so I logged into Netflix to watch the first episode. This turned into watching numerous episodes. I’m really not a huge fan of a lot of shows on television currently, but this restored my faith that there’s still good stuff out there – you just have to look for it.

Everything about this show is phenomenal from the casting to the plot. My favorite show of all time is Lost and one of my favorite things about it is how character development is presented through flashbacks in time. HTGAWM is also told in a non-linear fashion which really draws me to it. I love intense shows that keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s highly addictive and makes me always want to watch just that one more episode with the cliffhangers. I also love very character driven shows that are intellectually stimulating. You definitely need to pay full attention to each episode or you can get lost very easily but I enjoy that. One of my other favorite shows is Orange is the New Black and there are a few actors from that show in HTGAWM which makes it more fun (and their characters are so different). This is definitely a show I will continue to watch and am happy that I found something I truly enjoy.

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October 4, 2015

Shows/Movies:

  • How to Get Away with Murder
  • Saturday Night Live (Miley Cyrus hosting new season)

Books:

  • Walden- Henry David Thoreau

Food:

  • Bonsai sushi

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October 2, 2015

Survivor premiered with its 31st season this month and although I stopped watching for a number of them, I’m back on the bandwagon. Survivor to me means sitting down in front of the television when I was eight years old with my mom and brother every week to see who was the next to be voted off. This show brings such a feeling of nostalgia and became a tradition for many years when I was younger. I stopped watching when my family split up and moved apart years later and I was living with my father. He hates reality television shows so that was off the table for me.

I sort of forgot about it for a while until recently. Now I’m going to the CBS webpage every week and anticipating every episode. To me, Survivor is very different from other reality shows. Perhaps this is because I am biased and it has a place in my heart but I believe it to be less scripted than others. For some reason, it always has me coming back and happily watching each episode. However now, I watch it alone usually. None of my friends or family enjoys it so it can even make me a little sad missing the days of watching it with my family and ordering pizza. It seems as though this show will go on forever and I will probably continue to be a viewer over the years.

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September 27, 2015

Shows/Movies:

  • Survivor
  • How to Get Away With Murder

Music:

  • Ellie Goulding- On my mind
  • New Death Cab for Cutie album

Food:

  • Panera
  • K&D Deli reuben

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September 25, 2015

I went to the movies to see M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Visit” with mixed feelings going in. A lot of people rip on Shyamalan but I’ve always enjoyed his movies with the exception of “Lady in the Water”. Contrary to others, I’ve always loved movies that mess with your head and drop a huge twist when you least expect it. Others call it betrayal but those are the best kinds of movies to me.

There’s not much I can say regarding “The Visit” without giving anything away. If you enjoy thrillers and jump-scare kind of films, I highly recommend this one. The film made me feel super anxious and like it was building up and it did not disappoint me. I was on the edge of my seat from pretty much the beginning (it wasn’t slow at all) right until the last minute. The moment that they dropped the twist it just made my heart sink. I haven’t had that feeling from a horror/thriller movie in a long time but I remember the same exact feeling with other Shyamalan films. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie from the acting, to the plot and even the pace. Along with “The Village” this was definitely one of my favorite Shyamalan films.

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September 20, 2015

Shows/Movies:

  • The Visit
  • Louie- the show. A few episodes of season 3

Music:

  • Joywave- Now
  • Saint Motel- My type
  • Coin- Run
  • Awolnation- I am

Food:

  • Five Guys- little bacon cheeseburger and fries

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September 18, 2015

The first time I saw Josh Fox’s “Gasland” documentary I was in high school and have seen it many times after that. The documentary opened a lot of people’s eyes to the true risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as “fracking”. In case you’re unfamiliar with what exactly this is- it is a system of obtaining gas and oil from shale rock by blasting chemicals, sand and water mixed together underground. There are many repercussions including contaminating drinking water, causing chronic illness, damaging crops and killing livestock and even small scale earthquakes. Yes, it is a way to obtain gas and lessen our dependence on foreign countries but the risks outweigh this.

Watching “Gasland” now as opposed to even a couple years ago gives me a very different feeling. When I first saw it, I never heard of fracking before so it shocked and scared the crap out of me. Especially at this time when it was spreading to different states and not openly being stopped at this point. Now, a lot has changed in five years. States are banning the procedure and many people are openly against fracking. So many people have seen the film along with its sequel and are educated in this topic now. Although the documentary is still hard to watch, I’m much more at ease knowing these acts are being stopped all over the country.

Overall, the film makes me think about how desperate humans are becoming for resources and not wanting to rely on other countries for gas or oil. Rather than working on decreasing our dependence for certain resources, people are coming up with new ways to get them even at the expense of our health and environment. This whole notion is very sad and makes me wish that people cared more about preserving our resources and world.

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September 14, 2015

Shows:

  • Awkward episode
  • Swingers 1996 movie
  • Gasland documentary
  • Insidious II

Music:

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers Stadium Arcadium album
  • Muse
  • Cage the Elephant
  • Modest Mouse
  • Jenna & Julien podcast

Food:

  • Chicken bacon ranch sandwich from Jazzman’s
  • Breakfast sandwich from the Cab

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September 11, 2015

American Horror Story Season 1

As an avid American Horror Story fan, I have seen the four seasons that have been aired and am anticipating the brand new fifth season coming out. Being bored on Netflix one night, I decided to rewatch AHS season one’s premiere. I wasn’t planning on going back through the entire season but I found myself a few hours later binge watching the season over again. I forgot how much I enjoyed this season and how it had such a different tone than the rest of them.

Watching the first episode gave me nostalgia and reminded me of when I first began watching the show. My brother saw the pilot and was raving about it so I went ahead and gave it a try. I remember falling in love with such a well-produced, just different show- I’d never seen anything like it before. AHS in general has very complex plots mixed with enough “horror” and thrills, wonderful acting, beautiful cinematography, and plenty unpredictable twists throughout. The show is extremely fast paced and sometimes even hard to keep up with but I much prefer this to shows that don’t move along at a good pace. I felt the exact same way as I watched it years ago- just mind blown after every episode. At the end of each 40 minute episode I would sit there with my friends and we would try to make sense of what we just saw. I found myself doing the exact same thing watching it a second time and even enjoyed it more than in the past.

The tone of the show is extremely dark (with some humor thrown in) and definitely washes over me as I’m watching it. I was reminded how much I love very different, complex shows. One of my favorite things about AHS is that you are figuring out much along the way along with the characters, very similarly to reading a good book. It is interesting how each season has a different setting and characters so you can watch them independently- that’s what makes each season so much fun to watch over again.

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September 7, 2015

Shows:

  • MTV’s Scream finale
  • A few episodes of American Horror Story season 1
  • Youtube videos-
  • Nicole Arbour’s fat shaming video

Music:

  • Say You’ll Be There Spice Girls cover
  • The Hills by the Weeknd
  • Fire and the Flood by Vance Joy

Food:

  • A Touch of Naples Pizzeria pizza
  • Chili’s chicken sandwich and chili