Culture

The end of the semester is almost here, and with that comes final exams. As a college freshman myself, I am especially nervous for the upcoming week-long cycle that seems to be everyone’s doom. But with all the hectic lists of things to do while preparing ourselves, I have to remind myself that it is equally as important to take the time to relax and wind-down.

Plan out this upcoming week to see how you can spend the time you have. Make sure you have time to study before your exams but also time to sit back and watch a movie with some friends while drinking hot chocolate. Giving your brain a rest will only help yourself to remember all the facts you need to know. Here is a list of a few movies to warm your heart with childhood memories and allow you to take a break from the stressful world.

1. The Little Mermaid: One of my personal favorites that is sure to help you take a trip down memory lane!

2. Home Alone: To get into the holiday spirit, be sure to put on this classic movie.

3. The Lion King: This one is sure to put a smile on your face and remind you how much fun just being a kid can be!

4. 13 Going on 30: We all need a classic chick-flick to help us relax and unwind!

Putting aside these fun movies, make sure to take a breath with all of your studying. It is just as important to take a break from the books as it is to study away! Best of luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Image: Camille Styles

Culture

There is a mountain of holiday entertainment out there, including movies, specials, music or books. Casey McAnarney listed Popular Christmas Movies for 2014. The popular movies are very beloved, but there are also films that are off the beaten path that people still include in their Christmas rituals. If you’re looking for something new to add to your Christmas viewing, here are some other holiday films that you may have missed over the years:

Romantic Comedy Recommendation: The Shop Around The Corner

Based on the same source material as You’ve Got Mail, this is a film about two coworkers who can’t stand each other but are unknowingly falling in love with each other through letters. The legendary Jimmy Stewart is a great romantic lead. You may have missed this movie because you have already seen You’ve Got Mail. If you would like to give your You’ve Got Mail or Love Actually DVDs a break, this is worth your time.

Honorable Mention: While You Were Sleeping.

Musical Recommendation: White Christmas

In this story, two army buddies use their fame to help their old superior officer during the holidays. They also try to find love with a musical duo along the way. This film lightly touches on the war genre but is very uplifting. Bing Crosby sings his famous version of “White Christmas.” You may have missed this because it’s not the first film to use Bing Crosby’s rendition of the song.  It’s streaming on Netflix now so take the time to watch it.

Honorable Mention: Nativity!

Action Recommendation: Die Hard

This is the favorite Christmas film of many action movie fans. John McClane (Bruce Willis) wants to come home to see his family for the holidays and ends up trying to save an entire building from a hostage situation. This is a film beloved all year but also works as holiday viewing. You may have missed this because you didn’t know it was related to Christmas. It is very barely related to Christmas but it’s there.

Honorable Mention: Lethal Weapon.

Comedy Recommendation: The Ref

This is a dark holiday comedy. Denis Leary plays a thief who takes a family hostage on Christmas Eve. It doesn’t seem like comedy material but it is. You may have missed it because it was not a big hit but it is still a good film.

Honorable Mention: Bad Santa.

Animation Recommendation: Arthur Christmas

Christmas cartoons are a holiday staple. This feature is a good example of exciting animation as Santa’s son, Arthur, races against time to make sure a child isn’t forgotten on Christmas. While very funny, it also gives the lesson that technology and gifts are no replacement for optimism and Christmas spirit. You may have missed it if you felt like you had grown out of animation by the time this movie came out. Treat yourself.

Honorable Mention: The Polar Express.

Drama Recommendation: Happy Christmas

Anna Kendrick stars as a woman who goes to stay with her brother and his family. Though she begins to get closer to them, her destructive behavior could cost her what she has. This also has comedy elements and a mumblecore style. You may have missed it because it just came out this year. Try it.

Honorable Mention: The Family Stone.

Science Fiction/Fantasy Recommendation: Gremlins

In this tale, a father buys an unusual creature as a Christmas gift for his son. There are unexpected and violent consequences. This film can get pretty dark so be careful of watching it with little kids. For adults it can be pretty entertaining. You may have missed this if you didn’t know it was a Christmas movie. Enjoy it.

Honorable Mention: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

These are just some of the many films out there this holiday season.  I admit that the first film I watch after Thanksgiving is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and all the popular movies on Casey McAnarney’s list. That still gives you a month to explore something new!  

What are your holiday movie favorites?

Image: Laura Ashley

Culture

With the U.S. patent office preparing to strip the Washington Redskins of their trademark, the team that has received much backlash might lose its ability to solely own the Redskins logo.

For years, American sports teams have come under fire for their mascots or team names that follow culturally insensitive caricatures of the Native American race. Stanford, Dartmouth, and Marquette are just a few schools who changed their trademarks in response to complaints from the Native American community. However, teams like the Washington Redskins still perpetuate these Native American stereotypes by fighting for their trademarks and claiming that they are honoring the culture through their use of an infamous racial slur.

Whatever intentions the Redskins hoped to make, it does not discount the fact that their actions preserve older viewpoints that were used to justify the oppression of tribes in the Old West. For example, in old Western films Native Americans were either portrayed as noble savages that existed as sidekicks to the John Wayne-esque hero of the film, or as bloodthirsty savages who tore their way through western American civilization, leaving carnage and despair in their wake. So these people were only ever viewed as those worthy of assimilation into white-society or as beasts to be sent for slaughter. These two portrayals are not only constrictive of the Native American culture, they are also still used constantly in American sports.

And, to an extent, American society has tried to make up for these indiscretions through film and media. Some Westerns such as The Searchers attempted to make the idea of miscegenation between Native Americans and Caucasians more palatable for society and hoped to show discrimination against tribes as a thing of the past. Also, in the 1970’s, the Keep America Beautiful campaign utilized The Crying Indian as a way to show Americans the downside of littering. But with all things aside, both forms of media exploited the bloodthirsty and noble savage institutions. Why can’t media portray Native Americans like they do Caucasians, as limitless beings?

One of the few accurate portrayals of Native Americans in film is in Smoke Signals. The film follows young Victor and his friend Thomas, two Coeur D’Alene Indians, as he comes to terms with his father’s death. But what is underneath the surface of the film is the idea of reconciliation with the past; the idea that sons can mend what fathers have broken.

And I believe that idea is the solution to all of this uproar with American sports teams like the Redskins. By using a person or race as a mascot, you are reducing them to the status of an animal- considering that is what most mascots are. We have done away with most logos that marginalize African Americans, so what is different about the Native Americans? And as the Washington Redskins prepare for the appeals court in order to protect their patent on their mascot, I hope people keep in mind the fact that this racial slur is a commonality of the past. As the present and future of society, it is vital to be culturally sensitive and to fix what social issues past civilizations threw to the wayside.

Image: Business Insider