Varsity Blues and Disillusionment

By Diana Kerbeck

April 7th, 2021

  I recently finished the documentary ‘Operation Varsity Blues’ on Netflix. While I had read about the scandal when it happened, I had forgotten how truly disgusting it was. Wealthy parents all across this country were paying large sums of money to bribe a proctor to raise the score of their child’s SAT/ACT or creating a fake profile as a student-athlete to boost admissions chances to top universities. 

   The most famous example was actress Lori Loughlin. She paid over $500,000 to get her two daughters, including Youtuber Olivia Jade, into USC as part of the crew team despite neither of them being athletes or even wanting to attend college. The sentences the convicted parents served were shockingly short. The documentary makes obvious the two systems of justice in this country: the one for the wealthy and white, and the one for everyone else. Felicity Huffman had to serve only 14 days for bribing her child into university. This was compared to a case of a black homeless mother, Tanya McDowell, who had to serve five years for using someone else’s address so her child could attend a better public school. It’s so angering to see how many wealthy parents decided to cheat the system that already has so many legal advantages for them, such as access to expensive test prep, private college counselors, and donations to top universities. 

  As a senior who is currently receiving decisions from universities, the documentary really reminded me how deeply unfair the American higher education system is. So many of us go through such lengths to try to get into a top college. We fill our schedules with the hardest AP classes, spend our free time on as many extracurriculars as possible, and study for countless hours to better our standardized test scores. It makes me mad that I wasted so much of my pre-Covid high school experience doing all these things so that some greedy and corrupt institution would deem me worthy of giving them over $200,000. It doesn’t have to be like this; while I was looking to be an international student, I was shocked to find out how different other developed nations handle university.

   In the United Kingdom, the most prestigious schools are public universities, meaning they can offer low tuition because the government subsidizes it. Unlike most US schools, UK universities don’t prioritize accepting international students over domestic students. 

  Additionally, the UK version of the common app only allows you to apply to just five schools. All of this allows students to have a quicker and more straightforward admission process, a much better chance at getting into top universities, and low or nonexistent student debt upon graduation. In the end, despite all of these benefits, I chose to apply to school in the US. I wasn’t ready for the huge jump that was involved with attending a school in a foreign country, and I am privileged enough to afford US universities. However, I would urge any juniors, sophomores, or freshmen that are disillusioned with the college application process, to look into international schools. 

Texas’s Culture War on Clean Energy

By Lola Weber

March 8th, 2021

Texas, home to nearly 30 million Americans, has been hit by dangerous and unprecedented weather conditions, along with a brewing struggle regarding energy policy in the U.S. 

   As expected, the urgent weather crisis which  hit Texas this late winter has morphed into a cultural conflict of sorts, creating the red-blue division which frames itself in nearly every conflict across the nation. Initially, leading GOP members initiated this ‘war’ while attempting to scapegoat the calamity of the Texan energy disaster. 

   Dan Crenshaw, a Republican representative, urgently took to Twitter in the midst of the Texas emergency, stating, “with blackouts across Texas, many are wondering: what happened? Leftists are cheering a ‘red state’ having energy problems”. He then went on to blame the blackouts on “a mix of over-subsidized wind energy and under-investment in gas power”, which hastily fired off the energy hostility. 

   Tucker Carlson soon followed suit, declaring on a Fox News segment that, “the windmills failed like the silly fashion accessories they are, and people in Texas died. This is not to beat up on the state of Texas — it’s a great state, actually — but to give you some sense of what’s about to happen to you.” Liberals have begun to parallel this conservative fervor over coal energy, towards wind energy.

   Although it is undeniable that in comparison to coal energy, wind energy finds itself to be significantly more environmentally beneficial, there is a discernible failure among both resources.

   While advocates of coal energy preach the resource’s efficiency, they fail to comprehend the detriment which follows. While renewable advocates push for alternatives like wind energy, they too fail to comprehend the risk and dependency that these resources have on unforeseeable weather conditions. 

 This is not to draw an equivalence between the two, as liberal renewable energy proponents are far less destructive in their mission in comparison to that of fossil fuel proponents, but to note a common flaw amongst both sides of this energy-culture war, which is the failure of well-rounded accountability and comprehension. This large-scale investment, which was about 47 billion dollars, put up by liberals across the U.S. in efforts to produce more wind turbines, did not come from a place of real climate urgency, but instead was a large-scale capitalist venture. 

   This endeavor is essentially what led to the critical deregulation of energy in Texas which created a perpetual auction on energy. Interestingly enough, Texans don’t mirror the ‘clean energy’ hostility which is so avidly projected by Republican lawmakers. 

In a survey conducted last fall, it was found that about 65 percent (an overall majority) of voters in Texas would be likely to support candidates who pledge to achieve 100% clean energy by the year 2035. Along with this, the study also found that a large sum of Texan voters actually supported the abolition of government tax advantages for the fossil fuel industry. 

The right wing zeal for fossil fuels isn’t as popular in Texas as many would assume, with 46 percent of people in the same study being against fracking, and only 34 percent being proponents of increased fossil fuel. The political climate regarding clean energy in Texas is a lot more progressive and willing to clean energy than conservative and liberal lawmakers suggest. 

Instead of the formation of another Red V. Blue culture war on energy, this situation should strike a pursuit in a more efficient and sustainable solution as a whole. Centering the discourse around wind energy versus fossil fuel energy is futile, when it should be focused around a stronger environmental agenda, such as the Green New Deal, and the push away from complete energy deregulation within the state of Texas, and throughout the nation. 

The Notorious Ms. Banks

By Diana Kerbeck

March 8, 2021

A rapper, a singer, a songwriter, and an internet troll. Azealia Banks’ immense talent cannot be understated. She is a highly skilled vocalist, an excellent rapper, and a captivating personality. She broke out into the scene with the hit single “212”, a critically acclaimed song that broke boundaries of what rap could be perceived as. Azealia soon became a gay icon as her unique mix of house beats, soulful singing, and rap was seemingly catered to the LGBTQ+ community. However, since then, her career has changed drastically, mostly due to her feuds with nearly every celebrity that exists including Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Lana del Rey, Iggy Azealia, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Cardi B, Zayn Malik, and the former Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. 

 It was, at one point, a trend to google one’s birthday followed by Azealia Banks and see what ridiculous article came up. For me, I received a wonderful story about Azelia Banks calling a flight attendant the f-slur. This begins the dichotomy of Azealia, where she has at many times been a vocal supporter of the gay community, and at others offended it deeply. She is openly bisexual, yet has been known to go into homophobic or transphobic tirades. An overarching theme of Azealia’s feuds with artists is her ability to mix valid criticisms over genuine issues, with offensive and incomprehensible nonsense. Some of her more valid criticisms include calling out Eminem over his mockery of victims of domestic violence or Lana del Rey’s inconsistent feminism. Others are more humorous in nature, such as her calling Cardi B a “poor man’s Nicki Minaj” or her lawsuit with Elon Musk where he is accused of stealing her phone. This then leads to her most recent controversy involving a video posted to her Instagram account where she digs up her buried dead cat from her backyard, brings it into her kitchen, puts it into a pot, and boils it. She did eventually clarify that she didn’t eat the cat but the purpose of this endeavor remains a mystery. 

 This has become what Azealia is known for, her music rarely receives the attention it once did, yet she remains in the news due to her inability to stay off Twitter. Ms. Banks may still have once been able to stage a comeback, but after alienating so much of her fanbase, it is far less likely. Just a few days ago she announced that she was engaged and this might help her career return, but likely she has already done far too much harm. In fact, the mere announcement of this engagement has already created a new controversy after Azealia proclaimed herself to be jewish and calling transgender women “men in wigs”. Whether her constant internet drama is a conscious attempt to stay relevant, a symptom of an underlying condition, or a genuine expression of hate, is unknown. Lastly, after her comments have hurt and offended so many people, many believe it’s finally time to remove her platform.

Who is the GOAT of Sports

By Luis Berg

February 23, 2021

Since the beginning of sports, the debate of who is the best in their given experts, Who is the greatest of all time who is the GOAT of sports. Tom Brady has been called the GOAT  of football for the last couple of years and many would say he solidified his legacy with his 7th Super Bowl win last Sunday. This is more wins than any other player in the history of the NFL. Tom turned 43 last year but he looks better than ever. In his 20 seasons in the NFL, he has won 3 MVPs and 4 Super Bowl MVPs also throwing nearly 600 touchdowns in his career. 

     In basketball, the younger generation would say Lebron James,  but most adults and basketball players agree that Michael Jordan is the best. With six NBA championships, two more than Lebron, and he won three of them in a row, also winning 5 MVPs, one more than Lebron. 

     In hockey, it must be Wayne Gretzky. Nicknamed “The Great One’’, the NHL itself said he was the greatest hockey player of all time. Winning a total of four Stanley Cups and nine MVPs during his 20 seasons in the NHL. 

     In soccer, it’s a 4-way tie between Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pele, and Diego Maradona. With so many different trophies to win from the World Cup to Winning the league they played in and many other tournaments, it’s very difficult to rank them. Also, the game has evolved a lot over the years each player has played. Soccer in the 40s when Pele played was a much different sport to what soccer is today. Maradona played in the ’60s, a very physical era of soccer compared to the modern game where fouls are regularly called. 

     If we look just at who has the most trophies, Lionel Messi would win,  but there weren’t even that many trophies to compete for back when Pele and Maradona played. Ronaldo has won fewer trophies than Messi, but one could argue that he has won more important trophies. 

     For the sake of finding out who is the GOAT of all sports, no one soccer player has been dominant enough to separate himself from being named the GOAT  of soccer, let alone the GOAT of sports as a whole. In tennis, the GOAT is Roger Federer with 20 grand slam titles more than any other person in the history of tennis. 

     In the solo sport of swimming, it isn’t even an argument, Michael Phelps has won more Olympic gold medals than anyone else. Not only in swimming, but more than any other sport. With a total of 28 medals and 23 of them being gold, Michael Phelps is far ahead of anyone else not only in his own sport but any Olympic competition. It is an individual sport that speaks even more to his individual greatness and I think that’s the true meaning of the GOAT of sport. No other person is as good at winning as he is. That’s why I believe that Michael Phelps is the GOAT of sports.

The Secret (and Not So Secret) Anti-Semitism Behind Conspiracy Theories

By Taylor Tomlinson

February 23, 2021

People often have a fascination with the unknown. We love science fiction, space travel, mystery novels; we’re obsessed with things we want to understand. The alluring pull for answers leads us on a quest for “the truth”, which can lead to falling down a rabbit hole on the internet. Our searches can lead us somewhere dangerous, in the hands of conspiracy theorists. In a country where the truth can become distorted in layers of bias, hearsay, and increasingly distanced from fact, it’s no surprise that conspiracy theories seem to be making their way into the mainstream.

  Conspiracy theorists have a different way of operating as opposed to the scientific method the public has known to trust. To them, you start with the conclusion you want and then look for evidence to support it, not the other way around. This biased researching process often leads to the finger being pointed at one group, in particular, the Jewish population. Anti-Semitism isn’t new, and neither is using Jewish people as a scapegoat for the world’s problems, but the internet and social media have allowed it to manifest itself in new ways. Lying underneath the surface of many conspiracy theories, Anti-Semitism festers and acts as fuel in the war against truth. 

  QAnon has been a buzzing news topic for the past couple of weeks after many claim that theory fanned the flames for the insurrection at the Capitol. For those who don’t know, QAnon is a far-right conspiracy that champions former president Donald Trump as a savior facing off against, as defined by the New York Times,  a “cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who are plotting against Mr. Trump while operating a global child sex-trafficking ring.” Before this year, QAnon has lived in the shadows and could be easily ignored. Once insurgents donning QAnon gear stormed the Capitol last month, QAnon posed itself as more than just a foggy theory spouted by lowlifes on a few dark corners of the internet. When alleged former QAnon believer Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia’s 14th District was sworn into office as a House of Representative member, the theory proved it had more of an influence on legislation than ever thought possible. 

  It’s no surprise that a conspiracy based on a group of people controlling the government and media would have anti-Semitic roots. While QAnon is not explicitly Anti-Semitic in its stated beliefs, the tropes it’s founded on have been used to cause Jewish people harm for centuries. The discourse of a secret community of left-leaning, non-Christians conspiring  against a white Protestant isn’t exactly fresh material. Its members have also been known to encrypt anti-Jewish rhetoric in its secret messages. According to Insider, “many Jewish figures, including (George) Soros, have been met with anti-Semitic attacks from the community.” While QAnon, a conspiracy that fosters racist, xenophobic, and anti-truth discussions, having anti-Jewish biases shouldn’t be a shock, it may be a surprise to learn that most Global conspiracy theories have some anti-Semitic roots. 

  Flat-Earth had a reinvigoration over the past five years. Popularized by internet discourse and social media, “Flat-earthers” believe the Earth is not a spinning ball orbiting the sun, but a stationary surface with the atmosphere hovering above it. This conspiracy has based itself in a primarily Christian support group, with claims of a fixed Earth throughout the Bible. Demonstrated by Psalm 93:1, the Bible states “Thou hast fixed the earth immovable and firm …” which some Flat-Earthers use to disprove a globed Earth. Flat-Earth also accompanies theories of the space exploration organization NASA coordinating to hoodwink the public about the shape of the Earth. While many consider this theory silly and baseless, few regard this theory as being anti-Semitic. It appears the venn diagram of QAnon supporters and Flat Earthers are closer than many realize.

  While the theory of a Flat Earth has inherently nothing to do inherently with anti-Semitic finger-pointing itself, it’s easy to identify similar tropes that run within certain conspiracies. For flat Earth to be even remotely conceivable, it needs to be understood that NASA required thousands of their employees spanning decades to be committed to one lie. During times of political uncertainty, some grow distrustful of government organizations. This sentiment can be felt within the Flat Earth community. When journalist Kelly Weill of the Daily Beast went to the Flat Earth Conference in 2018, she observed a pattern of anti-Semitism among the convention. According to Weil, she noticed “Two tables over, vendors are selling a weighty book on Flat Earth. “Zionist Jews control the educational system,” begins Chapter 33 (“Mind Control”). The second paragraph is a block-quote from the wildly anti-Semitic and fabricated conspiracy text ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’, which the Flat Earth author concludes is proof that Jews are trying to hide the Flat Earth, in order to undermine God and control the world.” As Weill points out, religious conspiracies thrive under political chaos, and this pattern can be seen way back during World War I. As people grow fearful of government, and accompanying organizations, such as NASA and the FBI, anti-Jewish fervor can spread as well. The Jewish community is not a new culprit, so it’s no surprise that when Christain ideologies are questioned and political tensions are rising, people find no trouble refusing the scapegoats of the past.. 

  Living in an echo-chamber can have its consequences, and the internet’s “dark alleys” almost always have hidden agendas and are simply trying to push their own narrative. Internet discourse can have real-world effects. According to PR Newswire, “the new FBI Hate Crimes Statistics report found that more than 60% of religious-based hate crimes in 2019 targeted Jews, an increase of 14% over 2018.” Falling down an internet rabbit hole can be exciting, but it’s important to be mindful about where your information comes from. The social media landscape is as dangerous as ever, and in the age of misinformation, personal bias almost always affects the truth. The urge to question the world around us is a good one that can push human progress. However, the rise of conspiracy asks how much questioning can be done until we have to wonder the very basis of fact versus fiction?

The Deeper Meaning Behind an Inauguration Meme

By Lola Weber

February 12, 2021

A star studded inaugural ceremony wasn’t enough to steal the spotlight from an image of an unimpressed looking Bernie Sanders, hunched in his seat with recycled mittens. Immediately following the inauguration, this image went viral and rapidly spread through various social media platforms. 

As this image continued to saturate political discourse throughout several outlets, Bernie soon transformed into a meme, having been photoshopped into historical moments, iconic art pieces, and a plethora of other pop culture moments. The emergence of this meme doesn’t come to much of a shock, as his ‘humble’ nature provided a refreshing facet to the pageantry of Biden’s inauguration. 

 Bernie’s stance, combined with the general appearance of a lack of interest, felt like an assumed rejection to the self-congratulatory mood of the inauguration. Sanders himself responded to the meme on late night with Seth Meyers, explaining that he was just, “sitting there, trying to keep warm, trying to pay attention to what was going on., so this obviously wasn’t an active attempt to ‘comment’ on the inauguration, but as with any cultural moment, the people make of it what they want.

 While the concept of the meme itself seems lighthearted, the utilization has been telling. At the heart of this meme, there is an immense display of reality for millions of working people. 

Ranging from moderate Democrats to the entire spectrum of the Left, this meme has become a massive cultural takeaway from the historical events on the 20th. Although this may seem like some sort of unity, the image itself takes on a variety of meanings depending on the differing viewpoints. Those who align themselves with a more moderate/centrist viewpoint have treated this image as a mere joke, seeing the surface level of a meme about an old and frigid ‘socialist’. 

For those who align with progressive politics, such as social Democrats, it signifies an apparent defeat and melancholy outlook to the new presidency’s future. As this meme reaches a further left perspective, it maintains the sentiment of defeat and ‘let-down’, but focuses more on a push towards the left rather than Sanders himself. 

This isn’t the first time that an inauguration has spawned a meme with such cultural buzz. The 2016 inauguration led to the viral video of Richard B Spencer, the man who coined the term ‘alt-right’, getting punched in the face. This came after Spencer’s victory lap at Trump’s inauguration, celebrating a supposed win for reactionary politics and his own white chauvinism.

Both the viral video of Richard B Spencer, and the image of Bernie Sanders, were shared by a similar range of audience, Democrats and Leftists, both symbolizing two different outlooks on these presidencies. While the video of Spencer was a joyous moment for many of those who were inherently ‘anti-trump’, it did signify the fear and genuine panic of Trump’s presidency. 

The meme of Bernie signifies a different reaction to a different presidency, one that does not scream chaos or horror, but thorough disappointment. While many may feel comfort to rejoice in this win against the hellscape that was Trump’s presidency, this feeling of despondency among many lingers. That feeling in contrast to the pandemonium of Trump’s administration, definitely sets the stage for these next four years.

This disappointment is evidently warranted, considering that in a social climate with extreme inequality and declining capitalism, people were hoping for a transformative government.

Biden does not fulfill that need, and represents the milquetoast neoliberal ‘compromise’ for this election. Whether it is the people’s disappointment within Bernie’s own loss of the presidency, or the broader concept of a loss of anything to the Left, this meme has a weighty truth to it. 

Free Speech After January 6th

By Diana Kerbeck

February 12th, 2021

What is the meaning of free speech in the digital age? Does a private company have responsibility for what is posted on their site? These are some of the questions that are being asked as the social media giants begin to censor disinformation, mostly from the right, on their platforms.

 This began after domestic terrorists stormed the Capital Building in a futile attempt to stop congress from certifying Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. This insurrection resulted in the deaths of four people and permanently damaged America’s reputation as a republic.

  Social media made this insurrection possible, it allowed conspiracy theories of election tampering to run wild and it allowed the most devoted of Trump’s supporters to organize and plan their revenge. 

 Since then, most social media companies have taken bold steps to combat disinformation and hate speech on their sites, most notably the censorship of former President Donald Trump. Is this an example of the silencing of free speech or a justified act that prevents the spread of false information?

  Legally, social media companies have the freedom to control what is said on their sites, and the First Amendment only prevents congress from regulating freedom of speech. However, this does create an ethics-based dilemma since a country that prides itself on its liberty has private companies controlling what is said on the most popular means of civil discourse. 

  In my opinion, the actions taken by social media companies so far are completely justified. They have immensely helped curtail the sheer amount of false information and violent rhetoric that has littered social media for the last few years.

  Social media companies have finally realized they share responsibility when the content posted on their sites leads to hate, violence, and death. More importantly, these tech giants’ actions may have helped prevent violent riots from occurring on inauguration day.

  Additionally, spending these last few weeks without the dumpster fire that is Donald Trump’s Twitter account, has been quite refreshing. This all being said, there is still a concern over the sheer power wielded by these companies that is now becoming far more apparent than ever before. Should we trust private companies with the absolute ability to control the discussion of American politics?

 One must not forget that social media got us into this mess in the first place and that Facebook played a significant role in the election of Donald Trump in 2016. The overall issue, as it nearly always does, goes back to money. 

 The primary interest of social media companies is not to foster a free and open environment for civil discourse, or to help police the spreading of false or hateful rhetoric, but rather profit. These companies saw no issue with their platforms becoming breeding grounds for fascism, only now that they see their bottom line threatened do they act. Facebook and Twitter shouldn’t be receiving credit for doing the bare minimum, especially after the damage they have already done. 

  The solution is a highly complex issue, but since the only thing these companies seem to listen to is money, consumers do have the power to withhold support from social media that chooses not to reflect our values.

Attempting to Preserve Democracy in 2021

By Kirstyn Hill

February 4, 2021

Just thirteen days ago, the US Capitol was stormed and defaced by an angry mob of Trump supporters declaring fraudulent election results, and threatening the lives of the congressmen and congresswomen inside. With President Donald Trump’s incitement of the riot then continued apprehension to attempt to adjudicate the situation, he facilitated a potential domestic terrorist attack against the democratic process. 

With President Joe Biden being officially inaugurated into office on January 20th, 2021, it has been made clear that the majority of US citizens demand a peaceful transition of power. The national security threat of extremist groups has become an increasingly more prevent issue in recent times and is now threatening the security of the American democracy.

Masks weren’t the only new arrival at this year’s inauguration, as the National Guard was called on stand by, surrounding the Capitol building, and shutting down much of Washington D.C. After a continued display of negligence shown in Washington during Trump’s last weeks of presidency, it is now crucial to show the American people that security in democracy prevails. 

Donald Trump’s failure to call the National Guard earlier on January 6th was out of sheer favoritism to the group protesting, as it was known by anyone who is active on social media, and any US intelligence agency, that an attempt to storm the Capitol would be committed. It was made clear that day that the inauguration was to be protected by the National Guard, due to the severity of the national threat at hand. In a time where it has become normal American behavior to be radicalized through basic media outlets like Facebook preliminary precaution is never unnecessary.

What is typically a peaceful transition of power from one president to another, has been disgraced by forcing the attendance of the armed military. Not only has the U.S. democracy been strained severely through Trump’s initial refusal to concede and later resistance to even accept the election results, but it has also been exposed of its weaknesses and flaws.

It is undeniable that America is in unprecedented territory and the next 100 days of Joe Biden’s time in office will likely determine the results of his whole presidency. It is time to put an emphasis on unity in America and work to undo some of the damage left by the Trump administration. The attack on the capital was a great symbolizing act of the last four years, of unjust chaos and ignorance leading to irreversible consequences. Now it’s time to move forward and hopefully gain control of a country that is edging on the line of self-sabotage.

Marxism Beyond the Stars, the Leftism of Star Trek

By Justin Higginbotham

January 28th, 2021

Star Trek is a franchise that has lasted several series over several decades, but from The Original Series to the recent series Star Trek: Discovery, powerful Leftist themes have been prevalent. The series takes place centuries in the future after Earth dissolves its nation-states and creates a united global government based on equality and meeting the needs of humanity. Here, poverty has been eradicated and there is no money in the future Earth. Communist philosopher Karl Marx described the final stage of Communism as a stateless, classless, moneyless society, and the Earth of Star Trek’s future certainly is without currency or class, and arguably is without the state. The Earth is described as a Utopia and has become a prevalent member in the intergalactic “Federation of Planets”, a representative democratic coalition of multiple planets who have also achieved the elimination of class and the founding of an internationalized world. 

  Leftist themes can also be found in how they handle and portray the representation of non-communistic planets and societies. The main enemies of the federation have always been fascistic and totalitarian societies committing acts of imperialism. Throughout the series, Star Trek: Deep Space 9, the antagonists have always been the Cardassian Empire, a traditionalist Fascist autocracy who have colonized and exploited the indigenous people of the planet Bajor and have extracted their planet’s resources. What makes this interesting is the justification many Cardassians use, utilizing the same idea of ‘helping modernize this racially inferior primitive culture with imperialism’ that many colonial imperialist nations on Earth have used to justify their exploitation of places like Africa and South America.

  One of the more prominent leftist themes are visible in the portrayal of the Ferengi. A race of aliens from the planet Ferenginar, their cultural values are that of the acquisition of wealth. In their society, greed is seen as positive and morally good, Marxist themes like commodity fetishism and the hyper-capitalist mindset are things we are constantly reminded of when watching the Ferengi. They value the exploitation of the working class and see unionization as a sacrilegious act, in the episode “Bar Association” of Deep Space 9, the Ferengi Rom who works for his brother Quark becomes fed up with Quark’s treatment of the workers and is inspired to start a labor union and begin to strike with the other workers. As Rom attempts to rally his fellow workers, many of the Ferengi workers feel they are committing a grave sin by uttering the word “Union”, this shows the prevalence of Capitalist Realism in Ferengi society. As Rom gives a speech convincing the workers to join his cause, he finishes by reading out the quote “Workers of the World, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!” This message is engraved on Karl Marx’s tombstone and is the final line of the Communist Manifesto, showing the protagonist of this episode has been reading Marxist theory. 

   Since the 1960s, Star Trek has always used analogy to fight for real-world social issues. In the episode of Star Trek: Next Generation titled “The Outcast”, Captain Picard’s First Officer William Riker finds himself having fallen in love with a member of a race of genderless aliens named Soren. Soren her people are initially shown to be Agender (without gender) until we find out Soren identifies as a woman, something that is shunned upon in her culture. The episode ends with Soren being put through conversion therapy by her people as Riker fails to rescue her from the confines of the planet’s strict gender norms.  This episode has been often cited by Star Trek fans to demonstrate the show’s support of non-binary people represented in later iterations of the franchise. 

  Black issues are also often shown by analogy in earlier iterations, but take a much more blatant and clear role in Deep Space 9 like most of Star Trek’s leftist themes do. Examples can be seen in episodes like “Far Beyond The Stars”, where Captain Sisko, a black man, has a vision where he is a science fiction writer in 19050s New York City who finds himself writing about the events of Deep Space 9 for a Sci-Fi magazine. Throughout the episode, he suffers from police brutality and witnessing the state of the Black community in pre-Civil Rights era America as well as combatting his employer who won’t publish his story for having a Black hero in it. The writer’s advocacy of black issues is shown as well in the episode “Badda-bing, Badda-Bang” where Captain Sisko refuses to take part in a holodeck simulation of 1960s America, knowing if it were not a modified simulation he would be ostracized in it as a black man. The episode is meant to demonstrate the importance of remembering black oppression in history and not to erase it. The Federation of Planets requires a planet to achieve racial equality before it is allowed to join, as well as actively promoting intergalactic racial equality as a part of their prime directive. 

These examples barely scratch the surface of the colossus that is Leftist themes in Star Trek, from the Original Series in 1966 to the recent iterations of Discovery and Picard themes of leftist and sometimes blatantly Marxist values have been prevalent and common. The genre of science fiction has always been able to show audiences possibilities of what could be. As the franchise runs these themes seem to become more and more common and visible, the hope of many leftists is not only that Star Trek continues down this path, but that fans and viewers look past the alluring science fiction adventure and take note of the powerful writing behind the series that we all know as one of the most renowned and influential TV series of all time.

2021 Fashion Predictions

By Claire Buran

January 21, 2020

In a year when everything seems to be changing, at least we can rely upon the stability of fashion. No, that does not mean that fashion never changes, it means that you can always have the stability of the repeating patterns in what is going to be trending and make certain predictions.This used to solely be based on what celebrities wore and what the top designers said. But recently, it seems to have shifted for teenagers who just see what other teenagers are wearing through social media apps. 

The leg warmer trend is an example. A year ago, if you told me that I just ordered a pair of leg warmers to wear, I would have thought you were crazy. But yet here we are with leg warmers becoming very popular among teens. I see people making super cute outfits with them all over TikTok and Instagram, but no celebrities I know of wear them. They are a super cute way to stay warm in the winter whilst still wearing shorter skirts or dresses. They make more basic outfits a bit more interesting without being too eccentric. They were fashionable in the 80s with neon colors, but now it’s more muted tones of black, brown, and white that are being worn. 

 A type of top that is growing in popularity, I can only describe as “funky, 60’s like, mesh top”. The designer Jean-Paul Gaultier’s is a big influence in this look. The popular look of the top is sheer with designs on it. The tops give a psychedelic feel. You can see many brands recreating this type of look. Another look that seems to be inspired by fashionable younger people rather than what mainstream celebrities are wearing. 

 I can see colored thighs making a comeback this year, having been popular on and off through the decades. They are very versatile and can be worn casually or in a fancier setting. They have also slowly been popping up around the internet. I think they can be super cute if you wear them right but could also be a total disaster if worn poorly. Truthfully, I will probably end up buying a pair at some point soon.

 Statement pants are also becoming more and more popular. This is a trend that has been made popular by celebrities and teenagers.  The bold printed pants can be worn in many different ways. They vary in color, pattern, material; they can be sweats or jeans. The way that this trend is so broad, leads me to believe that they will probably stay “in” for a while.  

 The color tone palette that I predict will be most popular this year are the earthy tones. Shades of brown and green are everywhere you look, giving a more neutral and earthy feel to the fashion of today. All the people I see on social media seem to be embracing these neutral colors, and I am here for it.

 I think this past year has really changed the way many view their fashion. Especially as a teenager, the way you dress is often just based on what others will think of you.  Standing out often is perceived as more negative rather than positive. However, quarantine has changed that, people had months to really reflect on the way they present themselves to the world without the worry of being judged by their peers. The app TikTok has also had a vital role in this new age of fashion. It’s a way teenagers are able to be exposed to so many different styles and clothes that they never would have thought about before and can connect people with others who dress the same type of way.