CHILDHOOD REBOOTED

By Alex Nagorski

This year, my two favorite shows as a child, Winnie The Pooh and The Muppets will be hitting the big screen with their own full length feature-film adaptations. Both films are sticking to eponymous titles in hopes of a re-launch of their franchises. Check out the trialers below!


Winnie The Pooh hits theaters on July 15th.

 The Muppets hits theaters on Thanksgiving.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

A reaction to Meghan Cox Gurdon’s ignorant article in the Wall Street Journal about contemporary Young Adult Fiction.
By Alex Nagorski 

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Recently, one of my friends asked me if I had read any good books lately. Immediately, I started gushing about The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.  I picked up the first book out of curiosity based on a co-worker’s recommendation and immediately devoured the entire trilogy.

Set in a dystopian world ridden by poverty and famish, The Hunger Games tells the story of 16-year-old Katniss’ struggle to survive during the Hunger Games — an annual tradition set forth by the Capitol to punish its twelve districts for once attempting a rebellion. In these games, one male and one female are selected from each district to enter an arena where they must battle until there’s only one survivor left. Oh, and the entire thing is broadcast as reality television live to all the districts … who are forced to watch their children fight to the death.

The other two books see Katniss turn into the symbol of rebellion as she wages a war against the inhumanity of the Capitol. From a poor girl to the leader of an army, Katniss is a teenage girl who defies convention and works towards overthrowing the totalitarian regime oppressing her country.

When I explained this to my friend, her first reaction was, “isn’t that a little dark to be a young adult series?” I was so surprised to hear those words leave her lips that it took me a second to even react.  

Go-ask-alice On June 4th, The Wall Street Journal published an article by Meghan Cox Gurdon’s entitled “Darkness Too Visible.” The piece proclaimed that YA fiction was too dark and too destructive for today’s teens. “If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is,” Gurdon wrote. Um … WHAT? The wold is a dark place, is it not?

Reading this article, I was as flabbergasted by Gurdon’s claims as I was by my friend who thought The Hunger Games was inappropriate for teens to be reading. These books are not about condoning the ugliness of the savage times we live in but rather aim to provide a sense of hope.

When reading The Hunger Games, I didn’t see it as a book about children being forced to kill one another. What I took away from it was a story of a girl who must rise above the brutality society is inflicting on her and her community. The series was a brilliant commentary on how bloodthirsty we are in what we define as entertainment. But most importantly, it was about sticking up for what you believe in and not succumbing to oppression. You’re really going to try to argue that this is not a message appropriate for today’s youth?

If that’s the case, then perhaps books like The Diary of Anne Frank, Lord of the Flies, and To Kill A Mockingbird should just all be banned from our school systems. After all, none of those books take place in a smiley world of rainbows, cupcakes and glitter. Yet they are still engrained into arguably every American middle schooler’s curriculum.

The point of these books is not to promote the Holocaust or racism, but to tell the stories of the heroes who were able to serve as inspirations and fight for their beliefs despite the obstaces they faced.

For Gurdon to be writing that books like The Hunger Games are too violent or brutal is actually insulting to today’s youth. These claims are stating that teenagers are so stupid and their brains are so easily skewed, that being exposed to harsh or ugly situations will permanently damage them. It is as though Gurdon is stating that anyone who reads Go Ask Alice will by default be psychologically damaged beyond repair simply because reading the book will make them aware of the meer existence of narcotics.

So what is her solution? Censorship. Gurdon’s argument is that pretending like brutality doesn’t exist will shield teenagers from the truths of the real world. Hell, let’s just have a book burning party! If nobody reads Scars, nobody will cut themselves, right? If nobody reads Shine, then hate crimes and sexual assault will never happen again, right?

The internet reaction to Gurdon’s article was tremendous. Most notable, a Twitter hashtag, #YAsaves, went viral by thousands of users who wrote about YA books that touched and sometimes even saved their lives. 

SCARS_cheryl_rainfield Get a grip, Gurdon. Your claims that these types of books are harmful for today’s youth is nothing short of ignorant. Reading an account of an anorexic girl’s downward spiral is not meant to serve as a diet manual but rather to teach how damaging eating disorders are. We live in a time where suicide bombs and tsunamis dominate our news channels and Twitter feeds. Our teens aren’t shielded from the truth, whether it’s ugly or not. So what’s wrong with showing them the silver living?

The fact that Gurdon included two suggested lists of books for “young men” and “young women” is a whole different topic that I won’t even begin to get into. But like, C’MON!

My friend ended up reading The Hunger Games series and loved it just as much as I did. We spent hours discussing the genius of the trilogy and how they are truly beautiful and inspirational books. I may be slightly older than the target audience of the novels, but if I were still in high school, I know that The Hunger Games would have had a tremendous impact on me.

So to Ms. Gurdon, you can have your beliefs about monitoring everything our children read. Hopefully if things go accordingly to your plan, the next generation will be a bunch of braindead clones unaware of the reality of the world we inhabit. Moron.

Originally published on Crazytown Blog

THE FEEL BAD MOVIE OF CHRISTMAS

Why you should be excited for Hollywood’s adaptation of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.
By Alex Nagorski

 

This past week, the official trailer for the Hollywood adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s pop culture phenomenon novel The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo hit the interwebs. Directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network) and written by Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, Mission Impossible), this movie has some serious potential.

As someone who enjoyed (but didn’t love) the books, I can safely say that this movie looks like it’s going to easily knock out any other candidate for my top pick film of the year (except for maybe Winnie The Pooh … despite their eerily similar content). Why?

1. Christopher Plummer is still trying REALLY hard to star in a blockbuster that doesn’t involve him making out with nuns.
2. Director David Fincher had Gwyneth Paltrow beheaded in his film Seven so clearly he knows how to trim the fat.

3. The stocks I invested in Hot Topic will skyrocket after the masses try to emulate Rooney Mara’s flawless transition into Lisbeth Salander.

4. No matter where you are in the world, it’s most likely sunnier than Sweden.

5. Motorcycle chases. Guns. Government conspiracies. Lesbian love scenes. Arson. Former Nazis trying to cover up their pasts. What else do you need in a movie?

6. Trent Reznor is the new John Williams.

7. An ingénue that makes Lady GaGa look like a young Shirley Temple.

8. After trying to reclaim some of her Princes Bride glory, Robin Wright jumped to sign the contract of a movie with the word “dragon” in the title. Although she was sadly mistaken about the premise, filming a movie as disturbing as this one still proved to be less stressful than a typical day at home with Sean Penn.

9. Stellan tries to prove that his son Alex is not the only Skarsgard who can play in the big leagues.

10. The anticipation of what Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook status will be in reaction to Rooney Mara’s goth-chick makeover.

11. James Bond is smoking hot.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Poster
Originally published on Crazytown Blog

MY LIFE WOULD SUCK WITHOUT KELLY CLARKSON

A review of Kelly Clarkson’s private benefit concert for Tupperware Brands’ Confide & Conquer campaign.
By Alex Nagorski

IMG_0345 “Scotty won?” Kelly Clarkson asked the crowd after fans checked their Twitter feeds during her performance on May 25th. “Oh. I was rooting for Lauren, but … Scotty’s good too,” she continued in a tone that hardly masked her disappointment.

Clarkson was of course was referring to the American Idol finale that was occurring simultaneously to her benefit concert for Tupperware Brands. The original Idol victor hit the stage for an event sponsoring Tupperware’s Confide & Conquer movement. An initiative designed to honor women around the world for the impact they have on their communities, the always-true-to-herself Clarkson was the perfect choice for an ambassador.

 IMG_0361 Closed off to the general public, the Confide & Conquer event was truly a night to remember. Occurring at New York City’s Highline Ballroom, the benefit was decorated with gorgeous shades of white and pink and filled with such guests as Ashanti and Gabourey Sidibe. Upon arriving on the red carpet, my party and I proceeded to a standing table at the very front of the stage. Waiters greeted us with hors d’oeuvres and specialty cocktails from the open bar. My inner Serena Van Der Woodsen would have it no other way. This was a life I could get very used to.

The curtain rose for Kelly at 9 pm sharp. Her 12-song set included some of her biggest hits like “Breakaway,” and “My Life Would Suck Without You,” mixed in with such fan-favorites as “How I Feel” and her cover of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.”

IMG_0367 Over the past eight years, I’ve seen Kelly Clarkson on every tour she’s ever embarked on. Crazed fan? Perhaps. But never have I seen Kelly in such an intimate venue or been so close to the stage. My friends (the glorious Bradley Stern, Jon Aliaga, Alex Goldschmidt, and Jarett Wieselman) and I were literally no more than six feet from her the whole time she performed (hence all the close-ups in the pictures I took you see scattered throughout this post). That experience in itself was surreal. With every note she hit and guitar riff she belted over, Kelly proved that not only is she still a force to be reckoned with, but that (along with Adele), she’s hands down the best voice in the industry.

IMG_0374 One of the things I love about Kelly Clarkson concerts is how much personality she injects into them. In between nearly each song, she spoke to the audience with her quirky sense of humor and cute Southern disposition. These conversations included everything from self-deprecating jokes about how depressing so much of her music is to disappointment over the rapture not happening to denying lesbian rumors to talking about wanting to be reborn as Beyonce … followed by her best boob-shaking Billboard Awards performance impression. She honestly could not have been any cuter.

IMG_0368 Clarkson’s music not only serves as a portal of nostalgia for me, but also reminds me of what so much contemporary pop music is failing to do in her absence on the radio. I don’t remember the last time a song on the Top-40 was able to evoke the types of emotions I felt when she sang “Because Of You.”  How many pop songs balance catchiness with raw, exposed, vulnerability the way “Behind These Hazel Eyes” does? And I dare you to name a better feel-good breakup anthem than “Since U Been Gone.” Just try. I promise you’ll fail.

IMG_0377 It’s safe to say that between my scream-singing and jumping to songs like “Miss Independent” and “Walk Away,” I was voiceless, tired, and sweaty. But that didn’t even matter because my night ended in the most perfect way it could have: I got to meet Kelly. She took a picture with my friends and I as we told her how much fun the show was.

I resisted telling her that I almost got a snowflake tattoo to symbolize how much her album My December impacted my life or that despite her only have four albums out, I have over 200 songs of hers on my iPod (yes, that does include the From Justin To Kelly soundtrack, how dare you judge me?).

Look for Kelly’s (still untitled) new single release this July followed by a new album this fall and be sure to “like” Tupperware Brand’s Chain of Confidence page on Facebook. For every “like” they receive, they’ll donate $1 to the Boys and Girls Club of America!

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(Kelly, Me, Jon, Bradley and Alex)

Which was followed by this Twitter explosion:

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Originally published on Crazytown Blog