Last updateWed, 21 Apr 2021 3pm


Disney’s Mulan Under Fire

MulanIt is no surprise when someone says that Disney movies are some of the best movies made today. Between Marvel films and the countless other movies they have created since the beginning all, for the most part, have held high standards. With the recent release of Mulan, Disney’s recent live-action recreation, people have been taken back by the low reviews and confusion among fans. 

Fans have stated their opinions on social media and on news outlets and from looking at it, it has not been good. I recently watched the film myself with an unbiased, open-minded opinion, and where there are many points of the film where I found it beautiful, it was a little rough to sit through. 

The biggest problem that people have been seeing with this film isn’t the $30 premium access copy on Disney+ (which comes as a shock) but the controversy behind it. A lot of viewers have been questioning how Disney, an overly successful company in which many of us, including myself, know and love, could have messed this up so badly. Mulan is one of the most beloved Disney films. With timeless music, beauty, meaning, and an appealing sidekick, Mulan was something many fans were struck by when they found out Disney was writing it as a new live-action film. 

It wasn’t the lack of music and similarity that struck a chord in fans, but the lack of diversity on the team that created the film. As a refresher, Mulan follows a woman who wants to replace her sick father in the fight against the Huns. She disguises herself as a man until the climax of the movie. The original film really brings light to wonderful cultural aspects of China through these years in our world history. 

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Vinyl Refuses To Die, Again

Vinyl Refuses 1For the first time in 34 years, vinyl records outsold CDs. Outsold isn’t the proper word, though.  A more fitting term should be “destroyed.”

The Recording Industry Association of America reported vinyl records created over $230 million in revenue in the first six months of 2020 alone, whereas CDs only sold $130 million. CD sales have seen a 48 percent decrease in revenue, and vinyl has seen a 4 percent growth. I guess you could say records have had a record breaking year. 

This comes after a tumultuous start for the music industry in 2020. With record stores and other businesses being largely shut down because of COVID-19, physical sales dropped 23% overall. Many record stores, including Holdfast Records in Asbury Park, NJ, could not survive the absence of eager audiophiles and were forced to close.

Additionally, one of the two remaining vinyl producing plants in the world burned down in the Apollo Masters fire in February. This factory in Banning, CA produced the lacquer needed to create master plates, which would be cut into vinyl records.

Rolling Stone reported Apollo Masters Corp. was responsible for “70 to 85 percent” of the world’s lacquer plates needed for production. The only other factory of its type is MDC in Japan. As the recording industry scrambles to find an alternative to lacquer pressing, this could mean inflationary costs on each record sold.

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The Emmys: Who Won and Lost in The COVID-19 Simulcast

EmmysThe entertainment industry, in many ways, has struggled to adapt to the lifestyle permitted by COVID-19. In spite of this, the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards took place last Sunday, with multiple records being broken throughout the ceremony.

Perennial host Jimmy Kimmel started off the socially-distanced ceremony live (but remotely) from Los Angeles’ Staples Center, also a perennial favorite arena for the showrunners. Kimmel’s monologue poked fun at critics who claimed that the show being held in 2020 was frivolous, and all the nominees were in attendance from their respective broadcast locations.

Forbes reported that only 6.1 million viewers watched the awards show. This is an all-time low for the Emmys.

Limited series Watchmen was the most-nominated show of the night, with 11, and dramas Succession and Ozark followed with ten and nine nominations. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and RuPaul’s Drag Race won for Variety Talk and Competition series respectively. One shock of the night included the absence of any awards for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon Prime’s flagship Emmy’s contender, even out of eight total nominations.

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Alicia Keys Returns with Her Best Record Yet

AliciaAlicia. She’s a musician so renowned, you know her by first name alone.

Mrs. Keys has returned with her seventh record and her second namesake album, ALICIA. Released on Sept. 18 from RCA Records, this 54 minute-long record is a daring return to her R&B side.

Now for some heartbreaking news. Alicia Keys is rumoring retirement at age 40. Being she is currently 39, I’m hoping that is just a rumor.

Alicia Keys was born in Hell’s Kitchen in 1981 and fell in love with music early on. As a classically trained pianist, she composed her first song about her departed grandfather after seeing the film Philadelphia at 12 years old. Keys was then signed to Columbia Records at a mere 15 years old, and became a hot commodity for the recording industry.

A bidding war between Arista and Columbia Records ensued for Keys’ talent. After a tennis match of contract litigation, Keys was negotiated out of her Columbia contract with help from Clive Davis. After being outed from Arista, Davis formed J Records, and signed Alicia immediately.

Her debut album, Songs in A Minor, was a highly anticipated record. Keys had performed her single “Fallin’” six weeks before the album release on Oprah, The Tonight Show, amongst others, and her record debuted at #1 on the charts, where it stayed for six weeks. In the first week alone, 236,000 copies were sold, but it has since sold 18.6 million copies worldwide. Keys was nominated for six Grammys, winning five, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year because of Songs in A Minor. Fifteen Grammys and 64 million global record sales later, Keys is unstoppable.

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Fanfare for Taylor Swift's folklore

Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift is probably the only artist who can write and release a chart-topping, surprise album in quarantine.

Her eighth studio album, folklore, was announced on July 23 for a next-day release, shocking her millions of fans around the world. It came just eleven months after her 2019 album Lover, and the summer her “Loverfest” tour was scheduled to begin until it was postponed due to COVID-19.

Listeners can appreciate the mature, piano-filled songs and poignant lyrics across folklore’s entire track list. It resembles the indie-folk essence of Safe and Sound, her 2012 song that was featured on the Hunger Games soundtrack. In fact, the album is reminiscent of Taylor’s earlier music and the storytelling talent that she is best known for. For folklore, Swift traded in her brand of pop for more ethereal songs, resembling the sound of Joni Mitchell.

folklore is a cohesive album consisting of tales that Swift brings to life with divine vocals and raw instrumentation. It’s a powerful array of wistfulness, regret, and nostalgia. Produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner, Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff, and Swift herself, this record is T. Swift’s songwriting at its most stripped down.

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Book Review: Behind Closed Doors

A9Rza031v 38h47z 8foWhether you indecisively stare aimlessly inside your local Barnes & Noble’s aisles while sipping a caramel macchiato, or find it nearly impossible to get your hands on a good read that hooks your interests without knowing the ending three chapters deep, finding a decent novel can be tricky to say the very least.

However, that’s where a little help pops in. There isn’t a genre of books that are secluded to someone’s interests.

On this week’s bookshelf, we have Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris is a must for any thrill-seeking, plot-twist fanatic. Library Journal calls it, “A can’t put down psychological thriller.”

Everyone knows a couple like Grace and Jack, the protagonists of this novel; inseparable, seemingly have it all. White picket fence, charm, wealth. Exquisite dinner parties. But what happens when the quests leave and the door locks behind them?

This book is an easy and quick read, and you’re not going to want to

 put it down. Paris speaks to the reader in a way that encapsulates them straight into the story. He has written this book allowing his audience to empathize with some characters, and despise others. Each with passions that are so raw. And even when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the twists are as quick as the pages turn.

Sit down and pick this book up. It makes you feel like you are a detective, infatuated with the red flags that arise from the pages. Throughout the chapters, Paris ricochets the reader back and forth between present day and years past, keeping your anticipation level at an all-time high. The more that is uncovered, the more realistic and less blurred the lines become.

Paris makes us wonder: Is the person you have loved really all they seem to be? Behind Closed Doors wasn’t coined an instant New York Times and USA Today Bestselling debut psychological thriller for nothing. Although it is a few years old, Paris’ tale of perfect appearances is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is thrilling up to the very last page.

IMAGE TAKEN from Barnes and Noble

The Center for the Arts is going Virtual!

The RiverWith the COVID-19 pandemic, entertainment has been radically changed. In-person concerts have rarely been held, movie theaters are just reopening after months of being shuttered, and movies and television shows cannot shoot with a full cast.

Although it may seem bleak, the world has shown innovations in providing content for the people who need something to take their mind off this new, bizarre, and sanitized world.

The University’s Center for the Arts is also adapting to this new method of providing safe and enjoyable amusement for the campus community. They will be offering virtual lectures, film screenings, and art demonstrations for the fall 2020 semester for your consideration.

The University will continue its popular Tuesday Night Record Club series with some classic albums. It’s like a book club, but instead of discussing the book of the week, it’s a discussion on classic albums. This semester, the albums being discussed are Bruce Springsteen’s 1980 success, The River, on Sept. 29, Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life on Oct. 13, Joni Mitchell’s melancholic Blue, and lastly, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy on Dec. 8. These discussions are free and open to the public and will be held via the Zoom app. Registration is required.

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Nothing is True & Everything is Possible Review

default article imageSt. Albans, UK genre-benders Enter Shikari released their newest album, Nothing is True & Everything is Possible, on April 17 via SO Recordings. The album is a follow up to 2017’s The Spark and the summer 2019 single Stop the Clocks. Now that Nothing is True is in the hands (or ears, rather) of listeners all over the globe, one might speculate that Enter Shikari did just that; for the most part, anyway.

Nothing is True is chock full of nostalgic sounds and references that would put a smile on any long-time Shikari fan. The synthesizers during the pre-chorus of “Crossing the Rubicon,” as vocalist Rou Reynolds belts the line “now we can’t turn back, it’s labyrinth,” is a cheeky nod to the classic track “Labyrinth” off the band’s debut LP Take to the Skies. Not to mention the short but oh-so-sweet interlude track “Reprise 3,” which revives the iconic Shikari war cry: “And still we will be here!” “Reprise 3” serves as a very appropriate segway into the single “T.I.N.A,” which begins with a pounding synth melody reminiscent of 2015’s The Mindsweep. Other tracks such “Marionettes,” “modern living…,” and “apøcaholics anonymous (main theme in B minor)” bring back the mean dubstep and drum-’n’-bass stylings heard on 2012’s A Flash Flood of Colour; tracks such as “the pressure’s on.” and “satellites* *” certainly wouldn’t sound out of place on The Spark.

However, if you’re a fan of the crushing breakdowns, brutal screams, and downbeat-driven metal that Enter Shikari has delivered over the years, you won’t find it on Nothing is True & Everything is Possible. This record certainly succeeds in reprising many of the sounds, themes, and emotions Enter Shikari has conveyed with their music over the years; but the more metal-centric aspects of their work are rather underrepresented on Nothing is True. It simply doesn’t feel like the all-encompassing smorgasbord of genres Shikari implied it would be.

However, the innovation on this record in terms of songwriting and musicianship, in conjuncture with the abundant social commentary within the lyrics, is enough make its lack of early-2010’s melodic hardcore virtually irrelevant.

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Are You a Celebrity? Then You Can be a Talk Show Host!

default article imageGot a phone, celebrity status, and millions of followers on Instagram or YouTube? Well congratulations! You got your own hit talk show!

Usually when it comes to talk shows, they have to be broadcasted on a big network with a studio audience and feature run-of-the-mill entertainment like games or musical performances. However, those standards have left the building ever since the nation has entered into quarantine.

Late night talk show hosts who used to work with the highest production standards are now filming from areas in their homes where children can’t crash the set. For instance, Seth Myers shoots Late Night in his attic with what looks like an iPhone. Meanwhile, Jimmy Kimmel has a higher quality camera and mic, but he’s broadcasting from his living room. Then there’s Real Time host Bill Maher, who has a monologue in his backyard, conducts interviews at his desk on the computer, then goes back outside by the pool for his closing remarks.

The style of all these talk shows have felt a lot more personable too. Kimmel no longer has a full band swinging him in, but instead his young daughter sings an intro song while she showcases cute drawings of her dad. Also, during one of Meyers' most recent Closer Look segments, his children stormed in the room for his sign off.

So if a network host can create a makeshift studio in their house, broadcast to the millions through the internet, and have any guest they want through video chat (because nobody else has anything better to do), why can’t other celebrities?

This has kicked off a trend where celebrities have created their own talk shows with absolute freedom. All a celebrity needs to do is either broadcast live or post a prerecorded video to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. Considering they’re not bound by a network contract, they can host whoever they want, have whatever structure they want, and say whatever they want.

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Stressed? Try These Ten Relaxing Games

default article imageIn today’s world, one of the best ways to take your mind off things is through videogames. Sure, movies are great by transporting you to a completely different place for a couple hours, but videogames are much more immersive. Not only are you sent to another world, but you’re in control. And with more time than usual to kill, games can eat away at a lot of those lost hours quickly.

The drawback of videogames is how challenging they can be. Sometimes they get so tough that you can’t help but rage quit (like me with Buffy the Vampire Slayer last week). However, there are plenty of relaxing games out there that serve as a nice break from all the craziness and can clear your head. Below are games you can check out for common consoles. Some might be a little dated, so you can pick them up for cheap on eBay.

Nintendogs (Nintendo DS & 3DS)

Yes, with all this spare time you really have no excuse to check in on the Nintendogs you abandoned for years. With this game, you simply raise a few dogs of your own. When we were little, everybody had this game. It was so much fun to adopt, play, walk, and train a puppy. Considering Monmouth’s Destress Fest with therapy puppies is off the calendar, you owe yourself to destress with this game. Oh, and you also owe your pups a bath, food, water, and some love.

Animal Crossing (Switch, Wii, 3DS, DS, Gamecube)

Similar to Nintendogs, Animal Crossing is another simulation game with no definitive end goal. Here you play as a young character who lives in a small town full of cute animals. As a villager, you can customize your own place, go fishing, play mini games, discover new places, and so much more. The look of the game alone will make you feel warm and fuzzy. The best part is that you can play this game for hours, days, weeks, months, or years and still have something new to do every day. There has been an Animal Crossing game for every Nintendo console, so it doesn’t matter which one you pick up.

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Uncertainty at the Cinema

default article imageIt’s been about a month since the last time people were permitted in movie theaters and you can’t help but miss it. The giant screen, comfy seats, dimmed lights, ground-shaking sound, and the aroma of popcorn in the air is an experience you can’t replicate. While there’s so many movies to watch at home, it’s not the same with light cracking through the windows, people walking up and down stairs, a 32-inch screen, and the aroma of meatloaf at dinner circulating through the air instead. While we all miss moviegoing, we’ll have to get used to it because the news for theater survival is getting worse by the day.

In the past week, news has swirled around AMC Theaters, the largest cinema chain in the world, with executives considering filing for bankruptcy. Since the pandemic, AMC has furloughed their entire staff and does not have a penny of revenue coming through the door.

As AMC is on the brink of closure, so are other theater chains. Cinemark recently announced they’re raising $250 million in debt and Regal Cinemas’ parent company CineWorld is considering filing for bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, independent theaters are in the dark too. Many theater owners across the country are debating whether they can reopen and a lot of that rides on how effective the Paycheck Protection Program is, which is supposed to bring billions of dollars in relief to small businesses. In the meantime, independent theaters have asked patrons to buy gift cards and have ironically launched virtual cinemas, where customers can stream the latest indie titles for rent.

With the sky falling, it feels like the days of the cinema are on its last legs. But can they mount a return? Professor of Journalism and former film critic John Morano felt that the doors for cinemas weren’t completely closed, but there’s a lot up in the air.

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Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151