Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Why our generation has to stop being offended!

The generation I was born in, the 90’s we have had the best time. And I say it in the sense that we had the better part of the technological revolution, the birth of social media, and ‘smart’ phones that let us do, see and share anything we want with the world. And with that has obviously brought its own disadvantages. Before continuing any further, I would like to say that the world we live in is one filled with hate, and breeds contempt. Of course, we live in peaceful times but that doesn’t necessarily make us happy. One of the issues of that our generation has to face due to the rise of social media and global news deceptively presenting information which spreads like wildfire which leads us to being easily offended, and is something I wanted to discuss today.

Well you might ask, why is being offended a problem? It’s a problem because we get offended easily, and we think this gives us a right to position us as the victim to inequality. This is an outright, completely flawed concept and this mentality is one that has to be changed for the collective good of the society we live in. Yes, there are horrible, religiously offensive and politically incorrect jokes that will leave us infuriated, but that doesn’t give us the right to feel being ‘better’ than someone else. At best, tweets from an untalented comedian will give the rednecks small snort of laugher, but does not give someone the right to go after these people with a mob-like mentality on social media without the proper context. Context is also very important in determining what a certain person, and organization is trying to convey, and since the internet has become host to people with people with very little spans of concentration, the media  has changed their headlines to suit these people and thus has brought upon the ‘clickbaits’.

One of the reasons that we are negatively biased against a certain person or a topic of conversation that has been buzzing the internet is because of the media presenting hoaxes, scams or just deceiving the internet in the most dishonest way possible. Without the proper context, a certain phrase or sentence may be misconstrued by people and for the ‘quick buck’, the media will give the ‘juicy bits’ of the news and leave us feeling us angry, mad or even sad. A catalyst to these situations is the media who either overly dramatize the news, or who use deceptive clickbait titles, are worsening the situation to their profit. Being offended sells, and we have become pawns who are unwittingly exploited. At the end of the day, being offended is ‘our’ problem, not ‘theirs’.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Captain America: Civil War (2016) - Movie Review

Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl, William Hurt

Director: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

Synopsis: Political interference in the Avengers' activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.

Captain America: Civil War (2016) on IMDb
Review: WARNING – Spoilers ahead!
Where do I start? The whole movie was a rollercoaster ride that poses some questions in a world full of superheroes that not all things are ‘fine and dandy’ and that even heroes have to face the consequences when fighting the ‘bad guys’. To put it simply, the world owes the Avengers a great debt as they have saved the world two times (well from the two movies) from catastrophic consequences. But, the governments have decided that even though these heroes have done a great deal to save countless lives, in the process they have not been able to save everybody. This has prompted the United Nations to come to a decision that the heroes have to be ‘put in check’, and that their actions have to be monitored by a panel and not act on their own as a private organization.

This is where I just have to say that Marvel has done a terrific job on foreshadowing this conflict from ‘Age of Ultron’ as Tony Stark feels that his ever deepening guilt from his creation was bound to destroy the world, where in the beginning sequences of the movie an elderly woman’s son was killed by the rag-tag action that happened in Sarkovia sometime prior to the movie. This guilt is what makes Tony feel so strongly about the need for the Avengers to be under control, so that innocent lives are not lost in the blunder of their own mess. However, Captain America, on the other hand, has seen that government control is not safe, with had happened from World War II with ‘Hydra’ and after being unfrozen from the ice how ‘Hydra’ had lived on secretly within S.H.I.E.L.D. This was a fantastic set-up for the conflict between the two.

In a fictional world with superheroes and supervillains, and although the movie doesn’t take it too seriously upon itself, brings the concept of liberalism and totalitarianism which had spurred the conflict between the two. But to quite frank, the two sides leaders’ Captain America and Iron Man, were never really portrayed as friends and more as comrades, but comrades who respect each other a lot. When Bucky had somehow became intertwined into this mess, Rogers just couldn’t help and watch his childhood friend and somewhat idol get tossed aside. Thus, the conflict between the two group of superheroes was more of an emotional conflict, as Tony felt as if own creations had only deterred the world of being a better place and the good Captain believing that ‘the safest hands are our own’. Vision addresses this elegantly:
“Our very strength incites challenge. Challenge incites conflict. And conflict... breeds catastrophe.Supervision is not something to be dismissed out-of-hand.”

Sunday, 1 May 2016

The demise of the music industry: my opinions on mainstream pop

I am not the one into delve in controversial topics like these as I have always hated confrontation and conflict (that why I’m a ‘Wimpy Kid’) and most certainly hate the dirty politics back home in Bangladesh where the two political parties are always at each other’s throats literally. The strike in Bangladesh carried out by one of the political parties in November had ruined my chance for a retake exam which had basically ruined my future prospects to a certain extent! But that is not what I’m here to talk about, today I want to talk about the demise of the music industry, and this is supported by fall in revenue by big labels scratching their heads due to the increased availability and reach of illegal streaming content.

The quality of music has dropped. I may get hate for this, and I know that people will have different tastes and will like different genres, but even a person who likes the same genre as me may think the music industry is flourishing – producing the best music he has ever heard and it is continuously getting better. But that’s not me. To clarify, I am going to talk about the mainstream music that usually topple the Billboard Top 10. And I must say, it is going downhill. I must admit, not ALL songs are bad, but the majority aren’t that good either. Now, as a reader, you may say that, “well Wimpy Kid just listen to what you like and stop complaining about it!” Trust me I wish I could, but I am not complaining about the state of the music industry just because of my own personal opinions, but that, in terms of social media portrayal, the ‘get rich or die trying mentality, and most and foremost the constant sexual appeasement for men, is what is horrifyingly wrong.

Firstly, I would like to talk about the quality of music. When I say quality, I mean the sophistication of lyrics, the songs having an ambiguous meaning so that we can interpret the meaning ourselves, and the level of thought, energy and ‘soul’ that goes into writing the music. And if you look at the newest top hits for the last maybe two years, you will find a steady trend that most music is not written by the artists who perform the songs themselves and that the main motif consists of ‘getting money, bitches, and sex’ in a nutshell. This is not my definition of music. Don’t get me wrong though, songs including these ideals can be good – but they hardly are. With a few exceptions in my eyes like Coldplay, Adele and maybe Charlie Puth, most of the songs that are topping the charts are electronic dance hits, which to be fair, is not proper ‘songs’ in my eyes at all. The importance of beat over melody has also reduced the quality of songs in general, as the greatest songs in general have had an equal footing in harmony, melody, rhythm and – in my mind the most important of them all – lyrics. Artists also probably do not have more ‘soul’ in their music due to hiring songwriters, their own personal talents may not be able to shine due to lyrics not being written from their own personal thoughts, which I think is what makes great music. Trending icons nowadays have very little to no personality and I think this is because of the desperate need for fame, but not for the reason of sharing one’s thoughts to the world. Record labels are also to blame as by trying to ‘play it safe’ they have reduced their credibility to nurture actual talent. This has all culminated into a huge mess and due to these qualitative factors about the industry not being taken into account, the financial side of things have suffered as well. I’m not saying that good music has to be at a certain sophisticated level, but a certain degree of thought and passion has to go into making songs. Catchy dance tunes are not going to cut it, and this can be seen even from a financial perspective: