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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Chris’ Culture Corner

The Art Desk’s weekly picks for movies, music and more


By CHRIS PONCE arts@theaggie.org


Book: “The Book of Overthinking: How to Stop the Cycle of Worry” by Gwendoline Smith (2020)


Look, it’s nearly the end of the quarter, finals are coming up and papers are due. There’s plenty to feel anxious about right now — trust me, I’m in the same boat. This is why I’ve decided to pick the less conventional book recommendation, “The Book of Overthinking.” This short “self-help” style book gives advice on how to manage anxiety and overthinking in a healthy, non-judgemental way. It’s intentionally a short and digestible read to make the reader more comfortable, there are even some graphics and random cartoons throughout. “The Book of Overthinking” isn’t a one-size-fits-all all approach to anxiety, however, it does provide helpful exercises and tips to help manage overthinking. This is a book I certainly reread around this time of the quarter and I hope it can be a helpful resource for you too. 


Movie: “American Fiction” dir. by Cord Jefferson (2023)


I got the chance to watch “American Fiction” at the Davis Varsity Theatre last week and this was the most packed I remember seeing the theater in some time. As the crowd watched the drama/comedy satire people laughed and vividly expressed their reactions to the film. “American Fiction” is as hilarious as it is important — the film follows a Black writer (played by Jeffrey Wright) who is working for a publishing company who feels his work will only be appreciated if he capitalized off his ethnicity. Out of frustration, Wright’s character ends up writing a novel — that he believes plays into Black stereotypes — which lands him a movie deal and skyrocketing sales. The movie opens up a conversation on race, exploitation, tokenism and white performative activism. “American Fiction” notably doesn’t provide any hard answers to these nuanced questions, allowing the audience to be a part of the conversation. 


TV Show: “The Rehearsal” by Nathan Fielder (2022)


Comedian Nathan Fielder’s most recent docu-series begins as funny as his 2013 show “Nathan for You” but slowly evolves into something more meta and thought-provoking. This isn’t to diss Fielder’s comedy, which is at its best in this series, but clearly, Fielder intended this show to have a stronger message with its satirical approach. In the show, Fielder helps guests on the show prepare for stressful situations in an artificially controlled setting (i.e. a rehearsal). What Fielder creates is a satire about the nature of anxiety and the overplanning we put into our lives. This show’s stunts quickly become shocking and leave the audience with something more profound than what would have been expected. 


Album: “Gradients” by Archer Oh (2022)


“Gradients” is the sophomore album of Chicano indie band Archer Oh. This rock album is about several feelings — growing up, lost love and being your own worst enemy. Many of the songs incorporate traditional Mexican sounds — such as the trumpet — and other Western surf-rock style compositions. Archer Oh currently has 26.9k monthly listeners on Spotify, so go give them a listen so you can say, “I knew them before they blew up.” 


Written by: Chris Ponce — arts@theaggie.org



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