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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Culture Corner

The Arts Desk’s weekly picks of movies, TV shows, books and music  

Movie: “The Devil Wears Prada” dir. by David Frankel (2006)

As I was aimlessly scrolling through TikTok, as one does during a pandemic, I came across a post about who was truly the bad guy in “The Devil Wears Prada,” and I decided to give it a rewatch. Watching this movie as an adult still felt as good as it did when I was a child, but this time I could actually understand more nuanced moments within the film. We follow the life of Andy, a woman who somehow gets an assistant job at the incredibly competitive Runway magazine where she works for the infamous, cold-hearted, Prada-wearing Miranda Priestly. Andy goes through a fashion transformation, learns the cost of success and has to ask herself what she’s willing to give up to get ahead. At the end of it, I also saw Nate as the bad guy rather than the “hero” or the voice of reason for Andy. Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep give absolutely amazing performances in this glittery and fashionable film—a great pick-me-up movie. 

TV Show: “Dr. Pimple Popper”

In this TLC hit TV show, which first aired in 2018, board-certified dermatologist and YouTuber Dr. Sandra Lee brings the world into her dermatology practice, Skin Physicians & Surgeons, where viewers can watch her popping the tiniest of pimples to squeezing out gigantic, pus-filled cysts. If you have ever wanted to see an hour-long episode of just the craziest skin conditions, weirdly shaped cysts and lots of close-up shots of blood and pus oozing out, this show checks off every box. The best part of the show is how Dr. Lee genuinely changes her patients’ lives. In the beginning of the episode, we are introduced to the patient and their cyst or skin condition, the sciencey-dermatologist stuff happens and somehow by the end of the episode the patient looks great. The best part is the patient transformation and how many of them get their confidence back. “Dr. Pimple Popper” is a worthwhile show full of both gross and heart-warming moments. 

Album: “Ctrl” by SZA (2017)

At least once a day I find myself going back to SZA’s two-time platinum status album “CTRL” to keep me in check mentally. Beyond the cool melodies and gentle tempo, each song seems to represent some season of life, from being in love, to recovering from heartbreak, to finding self-confidence. This album somehow encapsulates being a “20 Something,” a song which is perfect for any occasion like swaying in your dimly-lit bedroom at 12 a.m. while your life falls apart. “The Weekend,” makes you feel like being the “other woman” is an ideal situation, and you don’t mind sharing your man as long as you get him on the weekends. However, “Normal Girl” is a reminder that changing yourself to fit the mold of the person you are pining for only makes you lose the most important parts of yourself, and that “This time next year I’ll be living so good/Won’t remember no pain, I swear. Before that you figured out, I was just a normal girl.” 

Book: “The Boy in Striped Pajamas” by John Byrne (2006)

In the book “The Boy in Striped Pajamas,” the reader follows the privileged life of nine-year old Bruno who grows up in Germany during World War II, during Adolf Hitler’s reign. His father was an officer in Hitler’s Nazi regime and at some point they relocate to a Jewish concentration camp. Bruno continues to live in a world of childhood imagination and innocence, while across the fence of the same home exists a horrid concentration camp with children as young as Bruno who have had their innocence and childhood stolen from them. Yet, as Bruno befriends one of the Jewish children who is forcibly kept there, Shmuel, a surprising friendship forms where Bruno begins to see the cruelty of his very own family. I remember reading this book in ninth grade and how I felt so surprised by its plot and ending. It was the first book I had read where there was no justice served or the “bad guy” got what they deserved. This is a really good book if you want to tear up and get a more intimate understanding of the Holocaust, seen through the perspective of a nine-year-old German boy whose father is committing these atrocities. 
Written by: Muhammad Tariq — arts@theaggie.org

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