What we liked this summer: Pandemic edition

With the start of virtual classes, it feels like we’ve been jolted out of a limbo. Still, with Netflix binges about to be replaced by Zoom classes, we can at least say that our five months indoors have given us plenty to watch, listen to, and read. The pandemic aside, here are some favourites that helped us through the summer.

You’re Wrong About, Podcast – Erika Mackenzie 

Summer is the season of podcasts, and this one is definitely worth the listen. Freelance reporters Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes dive into memorable events, people, and random phenomena throughout history, questioning popular preconceived notions. Rather than a simple debunking, You’re Wrong About delves into the social implications of widely held beliefs. Exploring topics from Stockholm syndrome to the O.J. Simpson trial, You’re Wrong About has no boundaries on what it will cover. Marshall and Hobbes are not only informative, but they also have an excellent sense of humour and keep listeners on their toes.

SAWAYAMA, Album – Jonathan Giammaria

Rina Sawayama cackles her way into the nu-metal chorus of her pop album’s third track, “STFU!” On paper, this eclectic mix of genre and vocals seems bizarre; however, when listening, it becomes one of the album’s most memorable performances. SAWAYAMA is full of bold creative choices: “Paradisin’” is set to the beat of a hyper 8-bit video game; “Comme Des Garçons (Like The Boys)” pairs a fashion brand roll call with groovy disco. And with songs covering climate change, family heritage, platonic breakups, and consumerism, SAWAYAMA’s subject matter is as varied as its sound. Though the album isn’t beholden to thematic or sonic cohesion, it nevertheless soars as a wholly original work from a singular, new voice.

TikTok, App – Deana Korsunsky

From viral dances to lifehack tutorials, the video app TikTok became a worldwide phenomenon thanks to the quarantine of Summer 2020.  Although the video app started as Musical.ly in 2016, TikTok now hosts communities from tweens to baby boomers, offering content as relatable as pandemic confinement, to those as niche as canned beans fan videos. The TikTok feed is an endless void of passion and creativity. What may start as a simple scroll through one’s feed will undoubtedly evolve into a 40-minute session of chuckling, liking, and commenting. The platform provides a convenient and much-needed source of both amusement and education, allowing those of different walks of life to share their creativity and stories with the world.

Da 5 Bloods, Film – Julian Miller

A mid-June Netflix release brimming with lushness and fury, Da 5 Bloods is both Spike Lee’s latest masterwork and, heartbreakingly, Chadwick Boseman’s last film released before his passing. The film follows five ageing veterans of an all-Black platoon as they journey back into the Vietnamese jungle in search of a twofold treasure: Buried gold and the remains of a beloved comrade left behind long ago. The men’s foray into the jungle ultimately becomes a volatile yet deeply compassionate exploration of the many faces of trauma, the impossible burden of loyalty, and the irreconcilable paradox of fighting and dying in the name of your oppressor.

Boys State, Film – Angelica Voutsinas

Documenting a week-long leadership camp run by the American Legion, directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss set out to study the deep-rooted polarization that is so intrinsically tied to American politics. Boys State follows four out of one thousand participants in the 2018 Texas Boys State, where 16-year-olds play mock government for a week: Electing government officials, enacting laws, and running election campaigns that parallel the dirty politics of real life. The film is a cynical snapshot of the next generation of American politicians, but also shows the growing minority of youth in politics who genuinely want to better the lives of others. Boys State is emotional, captivating, and a must-watch for anyone casting their ballots on Nov. 3.

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