By Mason Spector
Summer is always crazy, and this year was no exception. We rounded up a few things that stood out to us in the month of June. HAGS.
If you haven't heard of it already, from the creator of ASSASSINATION NATION, comes the provocative HBO Sunday night show EUPHORIA. From its pilot, the show has been creating buzz and controversy for its touchy subject matter of teen addiction, partying, sex and drug use. Though despite this, its rawness and portrayal of the reality of today's high schoolers and the culture in which they live is anything but toned down. It takes every struggle to the extreme, with innovative cinematography, vivid colors, and a catchy soundtrack that makes the story even more palatable to its demographic. It doesn't sugarcoat today's drug culture and how easily accessible drugs are sold and purchased, and it shines light on some of the reasons why kids are taking these drugs and medicate themselves from a harsh reality. It shows the pressures of fitting in and popularity, especially in the age of dating apps and how exploring one's sexuality in the digital age is a tricky thing to do because there is so much deception and risk in the process of app dating. It also covers LGBTQ narratives through a closeted gay male and a trans woman, as their story lines come to overlap. At times, EUPHORIA can seem exaggerated and dramatized, but it can never be criticized for taking things lightly or not diving deep enough. EUPHORIA is definitely one of the more polarizing programs on television, but it's hard to deny how entertaining the show can be.
It’s crazy to think that we are hardly a month removed from the conclusion of the 2019 NBA season and the league already feels completely different. The reigning finals MVP has switched teams for the first time in league history, and a handful on All-NBA players will be dawning new uniforms next season. I grew up watching guys play on the same teams for what felt like forever. Kobe, Duncan, Dirk, Pierce. I remember thinking how insane it was to think that Allen Iverson was going to be playing basketball not in a sixers uniform. Now, it would seem weird to think that you wouldn’t see your favorite players in different jerseys. Kyrie Irving, only 27 years old is about to play on his 3rd team in the last 4 years, after winning a title on his first team. Those kind of things just didn’t happen before, especially a player of his caliber. And I’m not making a case for things to go back to the way they were. The league is undoubtedly more fun now than it has ever been. The NBA is now on 12 months a year. I feel like something that doesn’t get talked about often is exactly why players are choosing to switch teams so often, and why they choose to play with friends over a better basketball fit. I think a lot of it has to do with mental health. A lot of the best players in the league are in there 20’s. They grew up in the digital age seeking instant gratification. Most of them were already superstars since they were in middle school. I don’t think they feel obligated to any organization just because they might have drafted them. They are putting themselves first and prioritizing the things in life that make them happy. Thinking about it from that perspective, I really respect what they players are doing. Just because things have been a certain way, that doesn’t mean that’s how they have to be. The pressure is on the teams, and it should be. How can they create a healthy positive environment where players want to come play, and how can they keep them happy. The league is more wide open than ever, and in my opinion, has never been better.
If anything is certain in the money machine of Hollywood, it’s franchises. Woody and Buzz, two of the most iconic animated characters in cinema’s history, originated in 1995, and yet, Toy Story 4 still proved to be a box office hit almost 25 years since their inception. At the end of Toy Story 3, when all the characters headed down the incinerator together, we as the audience felt for the first time that this was a real goodbye and an end to the series. It was heartbreaking. But Hollywood is a business, and it’s a tough line to toe for Pixar, but they obviously came back for more, seeing that their franchise has both commercial success and the undeniable ability to pull on the heartstrings of all viewers. It’s what keeps us going back to the theater time and time again; to see what adventure Buzz and his friends will embark on next. And despite this film seeming a little unnecessary due to the aforementioned ending of the last, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia watching number 4. Hearing Tom Hanks and Tim Allen communicate automatically transported me back to moments of my childhood, and Pixar is aware that its fans, like me, are loyal. But they were clever and added new characters to make the story feel inventive and fresh, like Key and Peele’s comedic stuffed animal bit. Overall, this movie didn’t emotionally transcend like its predecessors did, but because I have such a deep love (decades long!) for these characters, I still enjoyed the movie because it felt like family and like home.