Culture Corner

Culture Corner

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The Arts Desk’s weekly picks for television, movies, books and music

Television: “Portlandia”

This wonderfully weird sketch comedy show was born from the minds of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, who also star in each sketch. The show focuses on expressing the niche eccentricities of people who live in Portland, from hipsters to feminist bookshop owners. Each sketch is weirder than the next, but with the clever writing and Armisen and Brownstein’s effortless chemistry, the show is undoubtedly hilarious, even for those who aren’t from Portland.

Movie: “Love, Simon”

Although just a romantic comedy, “Love, Simon” left its mark on movie-goers and the teenage romance genre alike. The film centers around closeted teen Simon Spier, who is played by the effortlessly likeable Nick Robinson. This Greg Berlanti-directed flick marks the the first film from a major Hollywood studio to focus on a gay romance between teenagers, and the feedback from critics was overwhelmingly positive. The film deals with Simon’s sexual identity with nuance and, most importantly, normalcy. It does not try to be revolutionary, deep or tragically sad as many other representations of same-sex love often try to be. The film is cheesy and happy, which is the exact depiction the world needed.

Book: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”

I believe that Maya Angelou’s 1969 autobiography is a novel that everyone should read at least once in their life. The book details Angelou’s childhood and what lead her to become the remarkable force of nature that she is remembered as today. Angelou painfully recounts not only her childhood traumas and insecurities, but the steps she took to overcome them. The novel is poignant and filled with lessons that are still applicable today. Despite the hardships she faced as an African American woman growing up in the rural South, Angelou maintains an unapologetic optimism for others and the world around her in her writing.

Album: “A Place We Knew” by Dean Lewis

Australian singer-songwriter Dean Lewis released his first studio album on March 22. “Be Alright,” his first single off the album, was a success on the charts and shot Lewis into the limelight. His soft, passionate voice over his acoustic guitar brought back an Ed Sheeran-esque sound that has been missing from the charts for a while. The album focuses mainly on the bitter-sweet ending of a relationship. His lyrics are beautiful and deeply relatable. Of the new songs featured on the album, “7 minutes” and “Stay Awake” are the stand-out hits. Both songs showcase Lewis’s vocal range and talent as a lyricist.

Written by: Alyssa Ilsley — arts@theaggie.org