Category: Lifestyle

Gender-bending portrayal of Disney characters offers a new point of view

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer
@beammeupkyra

You're sure to look at these gender-bent Disney characters in a different light./ PHOTO VIA Wikimedia Commons

You’re sure to look at these gender-bent Disney characters in a different light./ PHOTO VIA Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever wondered what your favorite Disney characters would look like as the opposite sex? Well, look no further!

Sakimi Chan is a Canadian digital artist who “loves to draw fantasy, sci-fi and gender bending.” Her works include characters from Disney, anime and original content. She also does commissions for avatars from the popular forum and social network Gaia Online.

In case you didn’t know, “gender-bending” is when an artist switches a character’s gender. A bad example would be if Spongebob were made to have more feminine qualities. A better example would be to portray Nintendo’s Mario and Luigi as females and Princess Daisy and Peach as males. Most genderbent characters are very attractive and reflect the original almost spot on, but it’s weird to think how characters would act or be treated if they were the opposite gender.

Some people have attempted to gender-bend Disney characters using screenshots and Photoshopping the characters’ physical features to look more masculine or feminine, but Chan drew her pieces with the original personalities in mind, creating something more true to character.

Chan doesn’t always gender-bend in her art. Her other works include portrayals of characters like Jack Frost, Wonder Woman, Princess Mononoke and Link, as well as characters from the animated television show “Adventure Time.”

Personally, I love looking at gender-bent characters. It transforms my interpretation of the character and lets my imagination wander to what they would be like as the other gender. My favorite character out of the entire Disney set was gender-bent Hades. She is beautifully crafted and is on point with the original Hades. She is, in my eyes, perfect.

Check out Chan’s set of Disney characters here. Or if you’re interested in seeing more of her work or want to buy a print, see her DeviantArt page.

1964 World’s Fair reveals both groundbreaking and ridiculous predictions

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer
@jacobca1995

Unfortunately, jet packs still fail to exist outside our wildest imaginations./ PHOTO BY Flickr user David J

Unfortunately, jet packs still fail to exist outside our wildest imaginations./ PHOTO BY Flickr user David J

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The event introduced a number of technological innovations to the general public. It is interesting to see how several inventions acted as precursors to today’s technology, while others are still the objects of science fiction.

One device that made a notable debut at the fair was the “picturephone,” developed by Bell System. As the name suggests, this groundbreaking item allowed people to call individuals and see the party on the other line. Though it was not well-received initially, the “picturephone” is clearly an ancestor to modern video communication services such as Skype.

Another device that proved to be revolutionary, arguably even more than the “picturephone,” was the personal computer. While the idea was nascent at the time, it is hard to believe that such a crucial modern invention materialized only half a century ago.

Of course, far more interesting than remarking on the innovations of the World’s Fair is laughing at its failures. For example, according to the “Futurama 2” ride presented by General Motors, people were clearly ambitious in terms of where humanity’s new frontiers were located. The company presented images of people colonizing the moon and living underwater, two environments that remain just as inhospitable now as they were then.

And no future speculation would be complete without the discussion of jet packs. Constantly touted as the hallmark of technological advancement, these devices also made an appearance at the event, apparently complete with actual flying demonstrations. Sadly, humans have yet to adopt this method of travel, and popular use of the jet pack exists as a reality only in the worlds of James Bond and science fiction.

Despite being a breeding ground for some eccentric ideas, the 1964’s World Fair was still an environment for revolutionary modernizations. As mentioned, some of these devices matured into what are now essential inventions, and their evolution is an indicator of just how fast and complex technology continues to grow.

Jet packs and underwater colonies may still seem laughable today, but as evidenced by the “picturephone,” one cannot even prepare to imagine how the world will transform in another fifty years. With that in mind, I think I’ll go ahead and put my name on the moon colony waiting list.

“Boy Meets World” spin-off trailer released

By Robin Ngai, Staff Writer
@bluebird1278

If you were a true 90s child, then “Boy Meets World” was something that you watched every day when you came home from school. As the years went on, you grew up with Cory, Topanga, Shawn, Eric, and Mr. Feeny. From their young and awkward middle school days to their angst filled high school years and finally to college and eventual marriage, you stuck with them through thick and thin.

Now, after almost 14 years, it’s back (and with a teaser trailer to prove it). Your favorite gang has come together once again, and this time it’s to inspire a new generation of preteens (but let’s be honest, a large amount of twenty-somethings will be tuning in as well).

“Girl Meets World” is a spin-off that is centered around Cory and Topanga’s daughter, Riley, and their son, Auggie. Though it will be centered around their lives, guest stars of the original show are rumored to appear as well.

While you’re waiting around for “Girl Meets World” to premiere, check out photos of the cast and a video of the new cast discussing the original show.

Personally, I’m looking forward to a Cory and Shawn reunion and an appearance from the one and only Mr. Feeny. I could not have imagined my childhood without this show and for them to be reuniting is a dream come true. I’m pretty sure I’ve learned a majority of my life lessons from “Boy Meets World” (and also “Full House”), and I’m hoping that “Girl Meets World” will continue the legacy.

Check out the teaser trailer below:

Nine-month-old charged with attempted murder in Pakistan

By Ann Singer, Staff Writer
@annmsinger

For most of us, life as a nine month old consisted of crawling around and learning that ‘no’ really meant no. This is no different for little Musa Khan, hailing from the slums of Lahore, Pakistan. Well, except that he was also charged with attempted murder.

Wait, what? Can this be true?

I’m afraid to admit that something so absurd like this can actually happen. Most news outlets are reporting that bill collectors came to the Khan home to collect money or turn off their gas. The family opposed this, though it’s not clear whether they did so peacefully or by stoning (as the police report in question states). Family members, including Musa, were then charged with attempting to murder the gas company workers and the police, and were booked and fingerprinted.

Pakistani lawyers say it is common for whole families to be punished in an incident, just one example of how the corrupt criminal justice system, full of underpaid and incompetent workers, functions.

Pakistan has a penal code that states children under the age of seven cannot be considered to have committed a criminal offense. Yet, Musa was only granted bail and now he and his whole family are in hiding due to pressure from the police.

It’s clear that the police system desperately requires reform, a general consensus by everyone from the Khan family lawyer to Shaukat Javed, the former Punjab police chief.

Because of the growing attention to the case, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has demanded the police suspend the officer who filed the report and open an investigation into the incident. Nevertheless, the Pakistani police force still has a long ways to go before it can be considered legitimate and fair.

Check out the video below:

Golf Digest cover sparks controversy

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer
@beammeupkyra

Paulina Gretzky, fiancée to Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) tour winner Dustin Johnson and daughter of a hockey superstar, has landed a solo spot on the cover of this month’s Golf Digest. The American model and pop singer surely fits the criteria for the cover, right?

Wrong.

May’s cover of Golf Digest portrays Paulina Gretzky in tight capris and a revealing sports bra holding an iron. In the article, Gretzky recounts how she once missed a ball in front of 30 people while playing in her dad’s tournament. It also features different exercises to improve one’s golf game.

Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) golfers have only appeared solo on Golf Digest’s covers 11 times since 1969. The most recent LPGA player to land the cover was Lorena Ochoa in August 2008.

“If a magazine called Golf Digest is interested in showcasing females in the game, yet consistently steers away from the true superstars who’ve made history over the last few years, something is clearly wrong,” said Mike Whan, the LPGA Tour Commissioner. “’Growing the game’ means a need for more role models and in these exciting times for women’s golf, the LPGA is overflowing with them.”

It’s time to give credit where credit is due. Yet the last issue featuring an LPGA Tour winner was six years ago, and in total the LPGA has only had 11 covers in the past 45 years.

“It’s frustrating for female golfers,” third-ranked player Stacy Lewis said in an interview with the New York Times. “It’s kind of the state of where we’ve always been. We don’t get respect for being the golfers that we are. Obviously, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines. But at the same time you’d like to see a little respect for the women’s game.”

Last time I checked, the Waspy stereotype that golf still holds would never allow someone in Gretzky’s outfit anywhere near the clubhouse, let alone the course. There is no reason for this to be the face of Golf Digest if the figure isn’t wearing something that would be deemed appropriate, not to mention she has nothing to do with the game.

Juli Inkster, a seven-time winner and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, as well as one of the 11 women to appear alone on Golf Digest’s covers, doesn’t appreciate the magazine’s choice in Gretzky either.

“What do you have to do to get a little respect? I’m guaranteeing you right now, it was not a woman editor who chose that cover,” said Inkster in an interview with the New York Times.

She’s probably right. Golf Digest’s editor in chief, Jerry Tarde, released a statement to the commotion surrounding this month’s cover.

“Sports figures, celebrities and models have appeared on Golf Digest covers since the magazine’s beginning,” said Tarde. “Paulina ranks at the high end of the golf celebrity scene today, and she has a compelling story to tell. She also might get some new people interested in the game.”

As a golfer, this cover is a slap in the face. I went to the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship, and I remember getting my hat signed by almost every player I could find. These women pride themselves on integrity, honor, dignity and respect. All of which are not portrayed on this month’s cover. The women of the LPGA are my role models, on and off the course. We faced struggles left and right to gain our “equality” in this sport. And now that we have it, we’re still faced with the same prejudice as before. I can name 15 people off the top of my head that would be better suited in that cover spot, and they’re all members of the LPGA.

Why that cereal mascot is eyeing you

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer
@jacobca1995

Yes, those cereal mascots are looking at you./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Mroach

Yes, those cereal mascots are looking at you./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Mroach

A new study conducted by Cornell University proves that the placement and presentation of cereal intended for youth in grocery stores can affect product sales. According to the researchers, whether or not a child is enticed by a particular cereal is dependent on the orientation of the brand’s mascot.

Walking into a store, it’s easy to see that children’s cereal is placed on lower shelves than the adult’s. This makes sense, as the companies attempt to appeal to a younger, shorter demographic.

But the most interesting aspect of the study places focus on the angle of a mascot’s eyes on a kid’s cereal box.

The study explains that 57 of the 86 different mascots observed possessed a downward gaze of 9.67 degrees. The effect of this particular angle leads to the characters making direct eye contact with passing children.

Using this information, the researchers asked 63 people which of two boxes of cereal they would buy, one with the mascot staring straight ahead and the other with it looking down with the trademark angle. They discovered that the trust in a particular cereal is 16 percent higher if the mascot is looking down and making eye contact.

What to do with this discovery is a bit of a mystery. The study concludes by stating that if companies want to improve sales for healthy kid’s cereals, then those companies should make sure that the characters on those cereal boxes are engaging in a staring contest with potential buyers.

This isn’t out of the question, but the results of the experiment appear too slight to be taken seriously. After all, only 63 people were surveyed, and the results indicate that there was only a 16 percent increase in buyer trust. It looks like the correlation in this study is fleeting at best.

Besides, children are most heavily attracted to the sweetest of cereals. Therefore, even if kids are able to make eye contact with the jaunty sun-mascot on the Raisin Bran box, I am still inclined to think that they will lead themselves to more sugary pastures.

Indeed, the only success I can find in this study is that next time I walk down the breakfast aisle in CVS, I won’t be able to shake the feeling that I’m being watched.

The double standard against women in the media

By Robin Ngai, Staff Writer
@bluebird1278

On Thursday, Hillary Clinton spoke at the Women in the World conference in New York. There, she boldly stated that there is a double standard for women which is created by the media. Clinton claimed that the media should be more aware of how they present women in the media, and despite the progress women have made, this double standard still exists.

Clinton’s statement can surely be backed up with reliable evidence. Recently, the Women’s Media Center released their annual report on women and their impact on the media. Time collected the nine most depressing facts from the study, and it shows that Clinton’s claims are right.

Just a couple standout facts is that women are barely represented in newsrooms (in fact it’s gotten even worse over time) and women have had fewer speaking roles in movies in 2012 than any other year since 2007.

I find this is absolutely absurd.

It concerns me to see that women are being so misrepresented in the media. The media controls what information the public has access to and shapes their views, and to have these views be dominated by one race and gender is highly detrimental to society. As a society we need to strive to have a more equal representation and the first step to do so is to change the way media perceives and treats women. We need to have more women in advertising, television, film, and news. We must see the change in order to make it.

I understand that women have made great strides in the past few decades. There are many things to be celebrated, but there is still much to be worked on. The Representation Project produced a video titled, “How the Media Failed Women in 2013,” which documents a few great moments for women in the media. It echoes the fact that there isn’t enough progress being made.

There is no quick way to fix this problem. Instead, we must strive to have the media incorporate women in a positive light in order for this double standard to slowly recede and hopefully one day, no longer exist.

Check out the Representation Project’s video below:

Wil Wheton makes little kid’s day by being a nerd

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer
@beammeupkyra

When we were little, we could name all 151 original Pokemon without fail, and cast a plethora of spells (for those who aren’t muggles). Today, we gawk excitedly about “Doctor Who,” anime and comics, among other things. That’s right. We are nerds.

At Denver Comic Con last year, Wil Wheaton, best known for his role of Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation, was asked by 7-year-old Mia how to deal with being called a nerd.

It’s unfortunate that it has taken a full year for this video to go viral, but it’s a good thing that it did, because Wheaton’s response is absolutely wonderful.

“When a person makes fun of you, when a person is cruel to you, it has nothing to do with you. It’s not about what you said. It’s not about what you did. It’s not about what you love. It’s about them feeling bad about themselves.” Wheaton said.

He continued the analogy by comparing the way another person loves tether-ball is the same intense way  that nerds love “Doctor Who”.

A few days ago Mia’s mother told Reddit that her daughter took Wheaton’s message to heart, and has made amends with the bully and has gone so far as to protect other children who are bullied.

John Green, a famous author and YouTube personality made a few videos on nerds back in the day, and he makes the clear distinction that being called a nerd isn’t a bad thing.

“Nerds are allowed to love stuff. Like jump-up-and-down-in-your-chair love it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is, ‘You like stuff,’ which is just not a good insult at all,” concludes Green.

Nerds come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. Two people can nerd out about the football game last night, and two people could also nerd out about the “Sherlock” season finale. In fact, being a nerd is so great that there is a show about being the biggest nerd.

Nerds are also some of the most passionate people I’ve ever met. All of my friends here at Boston University are nerds. Whether it’s their favorite band, or a TV series, every person has something that they love, and love to express their love for it. This is coming from the woman who received a Star Trek science officer onesie for her birthday this year.

Trust me, it’s not so bad to be a nerd. In fact, it’s pretty cool.

Coat hanger necklaces spark criticism without the whole picture

By Robin Ngai, Staff Writer @bluebird1278

Coat-hanger necklaces cause some to re-evaluate the meaning of feminism./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Kate Ausburn

Coat-hanger necklaces cause some to re-evaluate the meaning of feminism./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Kate Ausburn

Earlier in the week, Sara Ryan, a fellow Freep writer posted her opinion about Planned Parenthood and protesters. A few days later, the subject was brought to the media’s attention once again when people realized that the DC Abortion Fund was giving out necklaces.

But these weren’t just any ordinary necklaces, they were necklaces with miniature coat hangers attached to them. And the necklaces were given out to those who donated to the fund in order to support women who could not afford to pay for an abortion.

This caused an uproar within the conservative and anti-abortion community. People began to attack the DC Abortion Fund and those who donated.

Now, before I go any further, I’d like to state my opinion real quick. Personally, I am pro-choice. This does not mean I put down those who aren’t, it is just my own personal opinion. You have a right to your choice and your opinion, as do I.

With that being said, I feel as if people targeted those who wore the necklaces as being “feminists”, thus giving feminists a negative connotation. I don’t believe that it’s fair that women who support this cause are being labeled as bad feminists.

Aren’t feminists supporters of equal rights for all sexes? So, to be a true feminist, shouldn’t one allow for different opinions to be available?

Abortion has and always will be a touchy subject among people, but they are also a choice that women make for themselves. We should not limit their freedom or punish them by calling them names or anti-feminists.

The DC Abortion Fund is set up for women to safely have abortions and not practice dangerous methods instead. As stated on their website, the coat hanger necklaces represent the mistakes of the past. It represents the suffering of women in the past, and those who still suffer today due to a lack of resources— resources that the DC Abortion Fund now tries to provide to women.

Can lyrics predict a song’s popularity?

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer
@jacobca1995

Can you predict the top 100?/ Snapshot of iTunes site taken on March 27, 2014

Can you predict the top 100?/ Screenshot of iTunes site taken on March 27, 2014

Researchers at North Carolina State University conducted a study that highlights how a song’s lyrical theme can be a predictor of its potential popularity.

The study analyzes the most popular themes in number one songs on Billboard’s “Hot 100” over the last several decades. Based on its findings, it would appear that today’s music is best represented by the words “inspiration,” “pain” and “desperation.”

Of course, if you consider how nearly every current song involves a breakup, this revelation is hardly surprising.

In fact, the more I read into this study, the more I realize how useless it would be for a songwriter or music producer. Even if they tried to use the themes, the researchers can only predict with 73.4 percent accuracy that a new song will make its way onto the “Hot 100″ list.

But don’t underestimate songwriters — there is still a large amount of creativity required in order to craft lyrics that a majority of people would find meaningful. Not to mention that there are countless people who listen to songs solely for the rhythm of the music and not so much for the words.

Personally, I am far more interested in witnessing the evolution of music since the 1960s. Fifty years ago, everyone was writing songs to the tune of nostalgia and rebellion, which led into a time of loss and confusion in the 1980s. And now all people want to hear about is how to ease the pain of their desperation with inspiration.

So, what does that mean for the condition of our country’s culture? Apparently we are in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction and constantly want more from life. How cheery!

In the end, I’m not sure exactly what to take away from the study. As mentioned, I doubt a struggling songwriter would find much use for it due to the broadness of the analysis. But I do think that the study provides a wonderful snapshot of music culture over time. It also illustrates that, despite shifts in genre and form, the music that most people connect with has remained the same.