Online Censorship

The topic of censorship on the internet is a hot topic issue for everyone. Especially as the usage of the internet becomes more prevalent for Americans. Censorship online is not new to 2019. Everyday users have started talking about it and their fears of being censored online.

On May 2, 2019, Facebook and Instagram, a Facebook company, banned Alex Jones, and subsequently InfoWars, along with other accounts for spreading what Facebook considers violence or hate. Alex Jones had been banned on Facebook before in August of 2018.

“I am continuing to monitor the censorship of American citizens on social media platforms. This is the United States of America — and we have what’s known as freedom of speech!” Donald Trump posted on Twitter on May 3, 2019.

“Everyone has a right to say what they want, as long as it’s not causing harm to anyone. I do not feel that it is a violation of free speech,” said Teresita Rutherford an art history major at Chabot.

“If the material is inappropriate, then Facebook should ban those accounts, but not if it was just because of their political positions. It is a violation of free speech unless the accounts broke the terms of any contracts they had with Facebook,” stated Alejandra Espinoza-Mejia, a Business Major.

Facebook has not violated anyone’s freedom of speech, Facebook is not a government entity. Facebook is a private business that can refuse service to anyone when Facebook feels a user is breaking Facebook’s terms of service.

The last major time the topic of online censorship was brought up in the news was when the Federal Communications Commission repealed net neutrality in June 2018. Net neutrality is the belief that internet service providers (ISP), such as Comcast, should treat all websites equally, without favoring some sites and blocking others.

“I’m worried that net neutrality is gone, it could be like other countries where popular websites have a subscription by the internet providers on top of paying for the internet,” Rutherford stated.

Internet users were worried that ISPs would slow down or block websites for any reason. The blocking of websites entirely is a form of censorship on the internet.

The Attention Merchants

With the next meme or viral hit bursting into the cultural zeitgeist faster than Thanos can snap, it can be hard to organize your attention on what is truly important in the world. Columbia University professor Tim Wu, author of the book, “The Attention Merchants,” looks closely at media attempts to control our attention. From the advent of print media to the current digital age, Wu examines the formula for garnering our interest in celebrities, notably in his chapter on what he refers to as the celebrity-industrial complex.

Wu begins by telling the story of the founding of Time Magazine. Its creation was a response to the dominating news entity of the era: The New York Times. The great institution was not without its critics, as Wu reveals that a New Yorker writer in the early 1920s described the publication as “colorless, odorless, and especially tasteless.” In other words, dry and uninspired for the nature of the postwar Roaring ’20s.

It appeared that their audience wanted more than just the bare bones facts; thus, Time-Life Magazine was born. Here in the chapter, Wu seems to emphasize this shift as a point where news media also became an outlet for entertainment and personality. Even the standard for article length was changed, as Time founder Henry Luce decided that 200 words were the absolute limit. In the modern context, one can apply it to how people respond to the 200 character or so tweets that Twitter users publish, and how that can gain far more attention than would a 3,000-word article from The Guardian or Huffington Post.

If Wu is arguing that size matters in the attention economy, then it definitely pays to be short and sweet. As he quotes Luce in the chapter, “People just aren’t interesting in the mass, it’s only individuals who are exciting.” Time Magazine was the first magazine to focus on the individual. Whether they be significant statesmen, generals, artists, or entertainers, the philosophy behind the publication of Time was to put “a different notable face on the cover every week.” This would lead to the annual Man (and eventually Person) of the Year. “The relentless focus on personalities was a different way to do news,” as Wu explains. Over the years the faces of Stalin, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and even Taylor Swift have all graced the cover of Time Magazine; their images glorified and immortalized on a single glossy sheet

Wu falls short of saying that celebrity focus was popularized by any single news entity. However, some publications, like People, developed an effective formula. Richard Stolley, a former editor for People, explained that he decided each week’s cover based on two key factors: the face had to be “recognizable to 80% of Americans” and there had to be something you want to know about them.

Any average consumer of entertainment news can now infer that any individual making it onto the cover of a prestigious magazine like Time, Elle, or Vogue is an indication of status, as well as an investment into the attention economy.

As consumers, our eyes are drawn to the flashy covers, whether we want to recognize these individuals actively, eventually we passively come to collect enough general information about them that you can, at the very least, say you know more about them than they know of you.

As so-called attention merchants, media executives set the standards of what deserves their consumer’s attention, based on what attracts the most attention. Consequently, it developed very exclusive standards: young is better than old, pretty is better than ugly, rich is better than poor. These standards continue to permeate entertainment publications, despite “body-positivity” and “real women” movements, there are still narrow standards of beauty for women, and men for that matter. However, other standards have seen a notable change in recent years, that do not seem to reflect today’s media: TV is better than music, music is better than movies, movies are better than sports, and anything is better than politics.

Personally, this writer would argue that music, due to online streaming services has reached, if not surpassed the attention economy of TV and movies. Many people are dropping their cable subscriptions in favor of other services, and movie attendance has seen a general decline over the years. More to this writer’s point, politics has now become the main focus once again of the average American. From infotainment shows like “The Daily Show” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” to daily news coverage of national politics, it is clear that we have once again become an issue-oriented attention market versus the personality one that we lived in up until we reached peak celebrity culture.

Wu describes our passive participation in the attention market as almost insidious in its nature, “you don’t have to be a fan to identify [ …] Angelina Jolie or Leonardo DiCaprio. You know them like you know the names of major cities you never visited.” So what explains the fascination that literally can cause a physical reaction in our body? If you’ve ever encountered a celebrity or famous person, you know that feeling of your heart beating faster and having the urge to document the moment as if it were something so deeply important to your well-being.

Wu argues that the strength of these feelings can be connected to older traditions of worship, such as religion and magic, though he falls short of equating celebrity worship to a religion. Though he does bring up the allegory of Moses’ and the golden calf idol, he burned for being a false idol. In fact, there are several connections made to the Bible in this book, so much so that it’s hard not to equate celebrity and prophetic worship.

In summation, Wu’s general argument is that the celebrity-industrial complex is maintained not by “the existence of [celebrities] but rather the idea of constructing an industry based on the demand for feeling some communion with them.” In other words, the complex exists because we, as consumers of entertainment media, crave a connection with someone who looks just like us, yet feels worlds apart.

For anyone interested in the story of how our eyes and minds are controlled by advertisers and programmers, and how little control we actually have over what we consume, then “The Attention Merchants” by Tim Wu is a must-read.

The Gap Instinct

“We have [that irresistible] temptation to divide all kinds of things into two distinct and often conflicting groups with an imagined gap … It is [how] the gap instinct creates a picture in people’s heads of a world split into two kinds of countries or two kinds of people: rich versus poor.” This is a quote from Hans Rosling’s book, “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.”

In this book, Rosling tackles many aspects of the world in which people see the worst rather than what they really are. One of those is “The Gap Instinct.” Which the quote above explains.

Basically, the gap instinct is this belief that most of the world is living in these extremely poor conditions when the reality is not that at all.

Rosling writes, “I call them mega misconceptions because they have such an enormous impact on how people misperceive the world. [The Gap Instinct] is the worst. By dividing the world into two misleading boxes — rich and poor, it completely distorts all the global proportions in people’s minds.”

Using data from the United Nations (UN), Rosling begins his break down of the gap instinct and why the gap isn’t as big anymore as it was a few years ago.

Referring to a graph showing how many countries are in a developing stage and how many are developed, Rosling writes, “ … this picture shows the world in 1965 … that’s the problem.”

The graph Rosling is referring to shows two boxes, one containing developing countries and the other containing developed countries. In the developing box, there are 125 bubbles, and in the developed box there are only 44.

Rosling shows an updated graph with the same structure, except the developing countries box is almost entirely empty now. Which means most countries are developed today according to the UN.

“Eighty-five percent of mankind is already inside the box that used to be named “developed world.” The remaining 15 percent are mostly in between the two boxes. Only 13 countries, representing 6 percent of the world population, are still inside the “developing” box” Rosling explains.

Now Rosling uses the example of mortality rate, making an emphasis on child mortality to paint a picture of how life is basically lived. However, he explains that it ends up tying into other aspects of the world, like the overall economy of those countries.

It’s simple, the more children and people that survive in those countries, the better overall lives the people are living. They have better health care, access to things like better education, etc.

Since according to Rosling, people will always try to divide things because naturally, it’s easier to look at and understand things when they are divided into groups. Rosling suggests not seeing the world in two groups, but instead in four groups called “the four income levels.”

The four income levels are as follows. People in level 1 are people who live in extreme poverty, which most likely means their country is still in the developing box from the graph mentioned above. Level 2 are people who are living a lower-middle-class kind of lifestyle, these people would probably fit into the countries that appear between the boxes on the graph. Finally, levels 3 and 4 are people who are what we would consider the middle class and high class. They probably live in an already developed country.

Rosling shows a graph with stats from 2017, which is the same year the book was published. As he explains it, “Each figure in the chart represents 1 billion people, and the seven figures show how the current world population is spread out across four income levels, expressed in terms of dollar income per day.”

Using information from the UN as well for this graph, it shows that only 1 billion people are living on Level 1, which it explains as people who make $2 a day. 3 billion people are living on Level 2 making $8 a day. 2 billion people are living on Level 3 making $32 a day. Finally, 1 billion people are living on Level 4 making over $64 a day.

According to the graph, 5 billion people are living in the middle, on levels 2 and 3. Which means the world is essentially getting better with wage gaps and so on.

Focusing on a smaller area and not the entire world, let’s look at the Bay Area, for example, which is one of the most expensive places to live.

It is a fair assumption to say most people in the Bay Area are probably in levels 2 and 3, some may even be on level 4. Of course, there can and are some exceptions like homeless people, or people who live paycheck to paycheck.

If we divide it, we can see the four levels within just the Bay. Level 1 would be homeless. Level 2 would be people living paycheck to paycheck, getting just enough to have the essentials. Level 3 would be people living comfortably, who can buy the essentials and a few luxuries here and there. Level 4, of course, would be people that live really comfortably and don’t necessarily have to worry too much about their situation.

So we can see Rosling’s point even within a small part of the world. Yes, it’s costly to live here, but we manage to pull through. Basically, that’s Rosling’s point, that this break down allows us to see a more precise break down because things are not what they used to be 20 or even 10 years ago and based on this model the world does seem to be getting better.

In Dubious Battle

“In Dubious Battle” a novel written by John Steinbeck, revolves around an activist trying to help abused laborers obtain fair wages and better working conditions.

Steinbeck was a resident from California, and most of his influences on writing came from his personal experiences in his youth. One of them was working on nearby farms with migrant workers and obtaining insight on the conditions in which they work and how they’re treated.

This would give birth to one of Steinbeck’s most notable novels, “Of Mice and Men.”

For the most part, the story of “In Dubious Battle” takes place in the California Valley, following two characters named, Jim Nolan and Mac Mcleod. Their objective was to help the fruit workers organize and strike against their horrible working conditions as well as causing a big enough commotion to promote change for all workers in the field.

Everything plays out perfectly, but most of it was just plain luck. Jim and Mac slowly recruited individuals to the cause that was gradually building in a kind of domino effect. The primary catalyst that sparked the major strike was an old man falling off a ladder in an apple orchard.

There was some controversy when this novel was published. Two of the main characters were “Reds” or what is commonly referred to as Communists. During this time in the United States, there was a “Red Scare” that led its citizens to believe that Communism could have destroyed Capitalism.

Throughout the novel, the individuals that interacted with Jim and Mac were suspicious of them being communists with their, “Radical Beliefs.”

The other main critique of this novel was mostly from detractors. They believed that it really didn’t portray the spirit of labor organizers with philosophical generalizations, despite Steinbeck’s extensive research of party organizers and contemporary strikes.

So why is this novel significant? It’s simple, really. “In Dubious Battle” was published in 1936 and was a perfect platform for social commentaries and keeping the public aware of what goes on in the world. An example of this is “Silent Spring” written by Rachel Carsen. This novel informed the public of how harmful pesticides are to humans as well as life itself. So Steinbeck used writing as a medium to share his philosophies and the injustices to migrant workers.

Juan Martinez, a Chabot student, said, “I’ve actually helped out in some orchards in Sonoma Country. Some of the days were incredibly hot and really long. I couldn’t imagine working out there without having some kind of security. This novel gave me an insight into how things were, and I’m glad they have changed for the better.”

Even though his novel “In Dubious Battle” was entirely overshadowed by his most famous novels such as “Of Mice and Men” and “Grapes of Wrath,” it is still considered to be one of his best works.

The Effects of Factory Farming

Earth Week at Chabot College brings many people, from many organizations, to come to talk to students about the environment. In the event center at Chabot on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, Kiely Smith, the Bay Area Director of Factory Farming Awareness Coalition (FFAC), gave a presentation of the effects of factory farming.

FFAC is a nonprofit organization with the goal of reducing the effect that factory farming has on the planet. The approach that FFAC has chosen to reach their goal is education through presentation.

Factory farming is the system of keeping livestock indoors and under controlled conditions. Factory farming is done to produce as much product as possible for the most profit.

One of the impacts of factory farming on the environment that Smith went over is the amount of resources needed to raise animals. The amount of water required to produce one gallon of milk from cows is intensive. The presentation from FFAC states about 27 gallons of water.

According to FFAC’s presentation, over half the farmland in the US is planted with corn and soy for feeding livestock. FFAC states that if the people ate half as much meat, the farmland used for crops in the US could feed everyone on the planet with an excess of food.

All living beings produce waste, and livestock is no exception. Smith played a segment from the documentary “Spy Drones Expose Smithfield Foods Factory Farms,” which the founder of FFAC, Katie Cantrell, assisted on. The documentary showed an open-air cesspool from a pig farm that was four football fields big.

When the pit gets too full, the way, the farm empties it is to use essentially a giant garden hose and spray the liquid waste into the air. When the waste is sprayed, it is carried down wind into neighboring communities.

“You think it’s raining when they spray animal waste. We don’t open the doors or the windows, but the odor still comes in,” said Elsie Herring, a North Carolina resident living near a Hog Farm, in the documentary.

Can You Control Your Willpower?

How good is your willpower? Professor Walter Mischel wants to find out how your willpower affects you, from childhood to adulthood, and if waiting for rewards can allow us to be more successful adults.

“If I could, I’d want money or treats right away as a kid, I wouldn’t have saved anything. My parents pretty much told me, ‘hey you made $20 bucks save ten of it.’ It wasn’t my first choice, but I’m pretty grateful for it now,” said firefighting student, Zack Andersen.

We asked Comm studies professor Zeraka Mitchell how her attitudes trended. “When I was little I collected pogs, you know those little discs. I did like to save things if I could. Now I budget at the beginning of each month, I lay out all my expenses for rent, my bills, groceries, and savings. Savings first, actually. When those are all paid, I have a little entertainment fund too.”

In 1974, Professor Mischel started testing children in this way; a child is told they may have a marshmallow right away, however, if they wait until the tester returns, they can have double the marshmallows. The tester would then leave the room for about 3 minutes. Mischel started to study how a child’s willpower at 5 to 7 years old could affect their attitudes and lives into adulthood.

Mischel asked, “When you draw a whole picture without breaking your crayon, is that because you were very careful? Or because it was a good crayon?” Or, “when somebody brings you a present, is that because you are a good boy/girl? Or because they like to give people presents?”

Part of the question is not only what a child’s attitude can predict about how they will behave into adulthood, but if they can consider and shape their thought process to become better adults.

“When I was little I was pretty bad with money, I’m trying to be better now, and adult more. I get financial aid, I try to save from my job, I’m also trying to budget because I want to move out on my own soon,” said Chabot student Andres Guzman

“I think they should teach a money management course for college. I budget monthly, I don’t have a longer-term plan yet, but I know it’s going to work. I saved money like crazy when I was little. As a kid, I usually saved things for later, I was a smart kid.” — Vanessa Wells

Some people change their habits as they grow up, but still have to fight impulses regularly. One student said she tries to save, but she also has an expensive shoe habit. Impulses like these are okay, but there’s a risk of getting into debt because of a purchase you made on a whim. It’s better to budget ahead of time for fun things and entertainment.

“As a kid, I usually saved my money, I did collect Yu-gi-oh cards for a little while. I don’t have a full-time job, so I don’t really have a long-term plan for money, but I do try to be economically frugal,” said Chabot student, Nicholas Kwong

Taming these impulses are tied to what Professor Mischel calls “hot” and “cool” systems in the brain. He had another trial study that scanned children’s brains while being shown pictures of food, and asked them to either imagine the delicious food was right in front of them, and the heat and smells — or to imagine the food was far away, and focus on the abstract, such as the color or shape of the food.

When asked to consider the food was close and delicious, the children’s brains had increased “hot” areas in the brain, cravings, appetite, and less activation in the prefrontal cortex. Using far away and abstract “cool” terms created fewer cravings, and when both were given the Marshmallow Test, those who linked food with desire could not wait as long for a treat as children who could focus on the abstract.

Mischel’s studies have shown that a large part of patience and even addictions are related to how we think about something we want. When thinking about the short-term effect, like “it will feel good” or “people will like me” it’s easier to give in to cravings that might lead to bad habits, like overspending, smoking, or eating too many sweets.

“My savings are all right, but I spend too much on food probably, I go out too much,” said Chabot student, Edward Lai.

Food may be the biggest downfall, the easiest thing to spend money on without thinking when we should be planning. If we focus on our longer-term results and goals, it’s easier to distance ourselves from those over-indulgences.

Apu: Should He Stay?

In the iconic show “The Simpsons,” one of the most well-known characters, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, could possibly be written off the show due to criticisms of some members of the Indian-American community.

Comedian Hari Kondabolu made a documentary called “The Problem with Apu” which was released November 19, 2017. It focused on how he perceived the character and came to the conclusion that Apu negatively represented the Indian community regardless of Apu being the only individual to have South Asian heritage to be regularly appearing in mainstream television in the United States, for some time.

Hank Azaria voices Apu, but many individuals do not know that Azaria’s not actually of Indian descent. Kondabolu pointed this out to many people passing him by that were of Indian descent in his documentary. Most of their reactions were quite surprised. Along with Apu, he also voices many other characters on the show such as Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, The Comic Book Guy, Carl Carlson, and many others.

Azaria expressed his opinions in an interview with Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on April 25, 2018. “You know the idea that anybody — young or old, past or present — was bullied or teased based on the character of Apu, it just really makes me sad.” Azaria continued, “It was certainly not my intention, I wanted to spread laughter and joy with this character. And the idea that it’s brought pain and suffering in any way, that it’s used to marginalize people, it’s upsetting, genuinely.”

So the questions are, should Apu Nahasapeemapetilon be written off the show? Does Apu negatively represent the Indian-American community? One might think he does, based on his appearance, but if they actually know him as a character, they might not think so anymore. If they still do, that’s OK because that’s their own opinion.

Ciara Hipple is a Chabot student and also not too familiar with “The Simpsons” aside from the “Treehouse of Horrors” episodes which are the Halloween specials that are played annually. She stated, “I get where Hari Kondabolu is coming from in that there’s not a lot of representation of nonwhite groups in any form of media, but he’s going about this the wrong way.” She ended with, “He’s literally coming from a place where a character he’s offended by is hand drawn. He should go after films and television so that individuals of Indian descent can be represented even more so.”

Chabot student and a massive fan of “The Simpsons” Dave O’Shea stated, “I find it petty, hypocritical, and ridiculous, honestly. “The Simpsons” is satire. Literally, every character is exaggerated and a stereotype.” O’ Shea would then follow up with, “For one group to insist they don’t like how one character is portrayed because it’s ‘offensive’ to their culture is the epitome of what’s wrong with PC (Political Correctness) culture.”

As O’Shea stated, many characters are exaggerated in the show. For example, there is “The Bumble Bee Man” a recurring character who stars in a comedic novella on Spanish television in the Simpson’s universe. The Bumble Bee Man would always have a string of bad luck and have accidents happen to him while yelling in Spanish. There is also the “Italian Restaurant Guy” who’s mannerisms are exaggerated Italian stereotypes such as making pasta and having a voice that mainly sounds like Nintendo’s “Mario.” There’s also “Chief Wiggum” who is also voiced by Azaria. Wiggum’s character has some piglike features to enforce the stereotype that most cops are fat pigs. These stereotypes are not necessarily true, but the show itself is just commentary on America’s culture itself.

As for Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, he’s a man that immigrated from India, obtained a doctorate in Computer Science, owned his own convenience store the “Kwik-E-Mart,” became the honorary “Fifth member of The Beatles,” a volunteer firefighter, loving husband and father to octuplets, and overall, one of the most well-written and endearing characters on the show. So the only thing offensive about this character is possibly, his voice. At the end of the day, though, he’s a cartoon character. All cartoon characters have funny voices.

Believe it or not, most young boys in animated shows are voiced by women. Even the character “Bart Simpson” is voiced by Nancy Cartwright. There hasn’t been anyone to stir the pot over this. So why Apu? Why single this character out when there are so many others that could be considered offensive based on their voice in “The Simpsons.”

Voice acting is genuinely an art form, and there are many talented actors on “The Simpsons.” Having this particular controversy could perhaps be a good thing. Not for the show, but for people in general. It could help challenge them to think critically and hopefully help them have productive debates as opposed to being at each other throats.

Apu Nahasapeemapetilon could potentially be written off the show, but the show’s creators haven’t confirmed if Apu will be written off or not. Apu is considered one of the most positively portrayed characters in the show. That’s saying a lot, especially being a character on “The Simpsons.” Do yourself a favor and watch the show for yourself. Only then, you’ll answer the question, “Should he stay or should he go?”

Swallows Return

It’s spring, and the weather is starting to warm up, and the South American cliff swallows came back to Chabot College to partake in the beautiful Northern Californian warmth. The small bird weighs in at just under one ounce with a wingspan of one foot making an incredible 14,000-mile trip every year from South America to breed right here on our campus.

Cliff swallows spend the winter months in South America. In early spring they begin a northward overland migration through Central America and Mexico. Arrival dates can vary significantly because of weather conditions. Usually, by early March the first migrants appear in Southern California. Two to three weeks later, they arrive in Northern California.

The swallows make this journey during the day and catch flying insects en route. It’s important to note that the swallows will not penetrate regions unless flying insects are readily available for food. This typically occurs after a few days of warm weather, particularly 70 degrees or warmer.

“Animals have these internals clocks that tell them when it’s time for them to move. We’ve got the weather conducive to what they need to breed and survive,” stated first-year Geography instructor Rachel Cunningham.

Some people find the bird droppings to be a blight around properties and put up nets to try to prevent them from building their nest. Unfortunately for the birds, they get stuck in the netting and die. What people don’t know is that the birds try to return each year to the same house they built a year ago, but if the house is destroyed it makes life difficult for the birds because they have to find a new area to build the nest.

Francisco Zermeno, Spanish instructor of forty-one years said, “They are just precious, and we need to protect them. People don’t understand how to cohabitate with the swallows because of the dislike of the bird droppings, but the swallows’ life deserves to be protected too. I created the Return of the Swallows Festival to create awareness about the birds and how we can share this earth together. Unfortunately, the Festival lost steam, and we haven’t had one since 2016, but I plan on creating a virtual festival that people can look at any time so that the awareness of the swallow stays current.”

All swallows are classified under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 as migratory insectivorous birds and are protected by state and federal regulations. It is illegal for any person to take, possess, transport, sell or purchase them or their parts; such as feathers, nest, or eggs without a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As a result, certain activities affecting swallows are subject to legal restrictions.

Officer of nine years at Chabot College Rochelle Duran stated, “I haven’t seen or heard of the swallows being a problem around campus they don’t present any security threats.”

So if you happen to notice the birds around campus take the time to enjoy their majestic beauty because if you wait too long, you might have to wait until next year to see the Chabot College Cliff Swallows return.

Medium Flesh

A close-up shot of delicate hands deliberately washing a fresh green apple, a bejeweled ring flaunted on a finger, a grip tightening around a cup of coffee — these are just some examples of hand imagery used by student Lorena Garibay for her film, “Medium: Flesh.”

The inspiration, comes from a specific aesthetic, as Garibay puts it. “I’ve always had a fascination with nice hands, and jewelry,” she explained. “I wanted to explore what fascination and desperation could drive a person to do.”

Without giving too much of the story away, the main character, Emil, also played by Garibay, is tasked by her art professor to create an art piece using hands as the subject. Garibay portrays Emil’s character as a tense person with a cold, quiet exterior that hides a whirlwind of visual and auditory hallucinations that play on her greatest insecurities. Fellow Chabot student, Stu Briggs, plays David, a seemingly close and concerned friend. He also appears in her hallucinations, and thanks to Briggs’ compelling acting, the viewer gains insight into the anxieties and obsessions of Emil.

At roughly 20 minutes, the short film was entered into Chabot’s student film festival, which was held from April 23 — 25. There were five categories for consideration, but unfortunately, “Medium: Flesh” did not take home a single award. Instructor Thomas Lothian of the Mass Communication department, who also had a small role in the film as the art instructor, believed that the film deserved more recognition. He argued that the film should have been awarded the best narrative.

Despite not winning any awards at the festival, the students involved in Garibay’s project were all proud of their work and what they learned. This includes Auburn Jordan, who worked on filming and assisted with the postproduction work. Jordan described his editing process as “piece by piece like a puzzle” because, as he states, “magic happens in production.” This is most evident in a critical scene in the film where Emil, played by Garibay, hallucinates for the first time. In filming, he preferred to let the scene play out in long takes, as he believes “it feels like you’re watching real life, as opposed to a constructed narrative.” He also stressed that he had to take extra care not to clip too much from what was filmed, “when you clip a lot [the editing] shows.”

After viewing the film, several students walked away, feeling impacted by the jarring climax. First-year student Kacie Reed said she “definitely would recommend this to a friend,” noting that she liked the use of sound effects in the hallucination scenes. Another student, Ronwaldo Silverio, was drawn more to the cinematography and storytelling, “my favorite part was the twist ending.” This sentiment appeared to be shared by student Phillip Antwine, who theorized that the main character, Emil, became “overstressed and obsessed by the small obstacle of [drawing] hands.”

While Emil can be cold, obsessive, and self-centered, Garibay herself is bright, sharp-minded, and attentive. When asked how she tried to portray an unbalanced person like Emil, Garibay explained, “I tried to portray her [mental] state by showing her hurting herself and causing herself to bleed.” In postproduction, more effects were added to accentuate that feeling of imbalance and instability, as she further elaborates “We also incorporated some filters that helped distinguish between what was reality and what was her delusion.” Being an amateur actor, Garibay had to draw from personal experiences to accurately portray the character of Emil. Her inspiration came from “times in which I found myself creating another reality in my mind,” which she describes as a way to vent and fantasize about various outcomes in her life.

If you missed the film festival and want to see the twist ending for yourself, you can head on over to YouTube. There, you can search for “Medium: Flesh” or go to the YouTube channel of Chabot College Television to watch the film.

Mental Health Meal

In honor of Mental Awareness Month, fast-food chain Burger King has introduced “Real Meals” to increase understanding about issues surrounding mental well-being.

This recent campaign is not only a collaboration with nonprofit organization Mental Health America (MHA), it is also taking jabs at fast-food chain McDonald’s Happy Meals. Burger King understands that not everyone is happy all the time, and as part of their campaign, they’ve swapped out their “Have It Your Way” slogan to “Feel Your Way.”

In a recent statement on bustle.com, president and chief executive of MHA Paul Gionfriddo said, “While not everyone would think about pairing fast food and mental health, MHA believes in elevating the conversation in all communities to address mental illness before Stage 4.”

According to MHA’s website, Stage 4 of Mental Health is the combination of extreme, prolonged and persistent symptoms and impairment often resulting in the development of other health conditions and has the potential to turn into a crisis event like unemployment, hospitalization, homelessness or even incarceration.

MHA’s website also states, 50 percent of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life, and half those people will develop conditions by the age of 14. MHA’s Before Stage 4 campaign hopes to address mental health issues before anyone reaches that point.

Five limited-edition themed Whopper meal boxes were introduced as the Real Meals. There is the pissed in red, blue for sad, salty in teal, yaaas in purple and “don’t give a f” (DGAF) in black. Since the campaign is relatively new, the Real Meals have only been introduced in a few major cities, including Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, and Miami.

Burger King has also introduced a 2-minute ad introducing the Real Meals and why Mental Health conditions should be recognized more frequently. Since the ad has aired, it has been deemed controversial as many people have commented on the campaign and its ad either praising or criticizing it.

From a statement on campaignlive.com, Doctor Kate Ryan said, “The problem with this campaign is that it doesn’t read as authentic or genuine for the brand. While mental health awareness is an extremely worthy topic that sounded fun and flashy in the room, it was never sense-checked on whether it was true to the brand or of the mental health crisis in America.”

Marketing futurist Tony Chapman on LinkedIn said, “What I can’t stomach is the connection back to sales. If BK had followed one of two paths, 100 percent supporting mental health through their foundation or using their Unhappy Meals as a fun way to poke the McBear, my sentiments would be different.”

Burger King may have its criticizers for the approach they took on mental health awareness, but they also found many individuals who supported the campaign and how Burger King has shined a light on a much-needed issue in America.

Chabot student Mary Awuku said, “Yes, I do support Burger King’s efforts to acknowledge mental awareness because it gives attention to a diverse set of customers, and it is surprising.”

Ashna Narayan, Chabot student, said, “I would definitely get the meal to support the cause. The majority of customers go through a depressive state of mind almost every day, so for them to acknowledge it helps others know they’re not alone.”

Both supporters and critics of the campaign will be awaiting Burger King’s next move with Mental Awareness Month.