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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Culture Corner:

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

By CLARA FISCHER — arts@theaggie.org

Music: “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)” by Taylor Swift (2021)

Taylor Swift truly is a figure of resilience, battling misogyny in the music industry from the very start of her career. Her decision to fight for the rights to her own music by taking the time to re-record her entire discography sends a powerful message to the often exploitative industry that took advantage of her. Swift’s newest (though technically old) album, “Red (Taylor’s Version),” features re-recordings of every song from the original release as well as nine that were previously unreleased. One of the most anticipated was the extended version of “All Too Well” — a fan-favorite song exploring heartbreak and a brutal breakup. Swift did not disappoint: The additional lyrics sung in her more mature voice add new depth to the already poignant piece and will no doubt help many through hard endings to relationships. 

Book: “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2013)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has written a plethora of novels, with many of her works winning various literary awards. She is also well known for her “We Should All Be Feminists” TED Talk, which Beyoncé featured in her 2014 hit single “Flawless.” Adichie is revered for her powerful mastery of language and ability to share her experience with intersectional feminism. “Americanah” tells the story of Ifemelu, a young woman who emigrates from Nigeria to the United States in pursuit of furthering her education and her experience as a Black woman in America versus in Nigeria. The novel is an enlightening exploration of culture and femininity, and Adichie has a beautiful mastery of prose that makes the reader cling to every word. “Americanah” is a celebration of intersectional feminism and is absolutely worth the read.

TV Show: “Sex Education”

It’s no secret that our society is not exactly friendly to discussions about sex — some school health classes preach abstinence and brush over important information needed to keep young adults safe. “Sex Education” breaks that stigma, tackling controversial issues with no hesitation. Every episode starts off with a pretty risqué sex scene, so viewers know right away what they’re getting into with the show. While the entertainment industry is no stranger to sexual content, “Sex Education” has a deeper purpose. The characters in the show experience various trials of life, including the teenage exploration of sexuality, abusive parents, sexism, sexual assault and more. By being so candid with these topics, the show sparks very important conversations that otherwise may be ignored for the sake of comfort.  

Movie: “Hairspray” (2007)

One of my favorite movies as a child, this adaptation of the Broadway musical remains a classic for many reasons. The cast is star-studded and well balanced for all generations, with teen idols Zac Efron and Amanda Bynes playing alongside well-established actors like John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and Queen Latifah. The actual plot of the musical itself is powerful and tackles important issues, such as social justice and fatphobia, head-on. This is refreshing to see, especially from a movie made in the 2000s. Beyond that, the actual soundtrack is super catchy and will have viewers dancing along. I recommend “Hairspray” to all levels of musical enthusiasts — you can’t help but love to see John Travolta fully embody the role of Tracy Turnblad’s mother. 

Written by: Clara Fischer — arts@theaggie.org


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