Stop Ruining Christmas Music (And Looking For Fights Where There Aren’t Any)

As you’ve probably heard, the classic Christmas song ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ has been the topic of debate for a few years now, though this past year, with #MeToo being so prominent in our society, these debates have started to have consequences. A few radio stations that play Christmas music have banned the song. In Canada, Rogers and Bell (two big media companies) have done this, meaning that the Christmas station I listen to no longer plays any version of the song.

I don’t love Rogers and Bell’s decision. I liked the song. I understand why some people dislike it, but I personally think the song is more playful and flirty than it is creepy. There’s also this Tumblr post, examining the song from a historical perspective, which is important to consider (not that Tumblr is always a credible source, but still). Either way, it is what it is. And people are entitled to their opinions, especially on topics like this where there isn’t one right answer.

But then my dad showed me this article in The Toronto Star in which a writer decided that there are a few more Christmas songs that are also offensive. And this, my friends, is what we call a damn big reach.

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Like, yes, obviously some songs on this list like ‘Santa’s Got The AIDS This Year’ and ‘Please Daddy Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas’ are songs that are inexcusable. No one’s arguing about that (mostly because no one knows about them; they get no airtime and are super old). I’m just mind blown that this dude thinks that there are disturbing connotations in songs as fun and pure as ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ and ‘White Christmas’. Who really thinks ‘White Christmas’ is about racism? Or that ‘Jingle Bells’ is about dangerous driving? It’s wild that this writer not only had these opinions but then thought that he should share them in one of Canada’s biggest newspapers. As if people would read this and agree and there’d be a big movement. There’s a difference between looking at something at another angle/bringing new perspectives to the table and looking for fights because you live in an angry parallel universe. And even if we all agreed that yeah, ‘Santa Baby’ is a little weird (which it kind of is), it doesn’t mean it should be pulled off the radios. We’re allowed to like and have slightly problematic things. It’s the same with the story of Rudolf The Reindeer. People have recently taken to the internet to express how the story basically condones bullying until the victim can become useful to the masses. And sure, I guess that isn’t completely wrong, but it’s still a decent Christmas movie, and kids should be allowed to watch it. Because kids aren’t the ones coming up with these inane arguments, and no kid is going to become a bully because Dasher the reindeer was a bully.

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I think that some people are just looking for fights. I read a blog post the other day where the blogger rebutted the opinions of a writer who wrote an article claiming that Ariana Grande’s ‘Thank U, Next’ music video was anti-LGBTQ. I saw the video (out of curiosity, I’m not really an Ariana fan at all) and let me tell you: it’s not. For example, the writer said that Kris Jenner’s line in the video (she literally just says “thank you, next!” at the end) was a direct attack on Caitlin Jenner, and I can assure you that Kris has better things to do than make subtle hits at her ex by being in a music video about being your best self. This writer’s claims were so insane that they got death threats and the website took down the article and apologized. Luckily, in the blog post I read, Ren had a lot of direct quotes so you can get the gist there. Please read it and her great rebuttals to understand just how much of a reach this writer came up with.

There are a lot of things to be angry about in this world. Do I spend a little bit too much time being angry at rather insignificant things like the cancellation of TV shows? Sure. See my last post for proof. But at least I’m not looking for fights where there are none. I’m not trying to make others angry and ruining things that don’t need ruining. Some people, like the writers of the two above articles, are, and they need to stop. Society and what we deem acceptable is a tricky thing, especially these days. Let’s try and be sensible about what we’re getting angry at. It’ll make our lives a lot easier.

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That being said, at least I got a good laugh out of knowing that someone on this planet really thinks that Ariana Grande was “flaunting her heterosexual pride” in her video. Maybe these far-reaching woke people are just in it for the chuckles. Here, I’ll give it a try: the Christmas radio station near me used to sometimes play the Glee version of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ sung by two males, so by banning it, Rogers and Bell are definitely homophobic. Hmm, yeah, that was fun! I feel like a better, smarter person!

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Netflix: You’re Playing Yourself

Netflix is on some thin freaking ice over in this household, let me tell you.

What was once a revolutionary, groundbreaking platform servicing content lovers in a unique way is now a greedy, dime a dozen platform that really doesn’t understand its audiences at all. And I can’t wait to see it self-destruct, all on its own accord. Which it will, if it keeps up with its behavior.

As I said, Netflix used to be in a league of its own. It used to be the only streaming service, and for a good price too. For people who liked consuming content without commercials or binge-watching, it was perfect. But now it’s not alone. Whether anyone asked for it or not, there are several streaming services out now, and several more to come. Off the top of my head there is Hulu, Crave, Amazon Prime, DC Universe, and the soon to be available Disney+. And there are many more smaller ones as well as the regular old internet where you can stream anything for free if you know how and don’t mind the illegalness of it. So you’d think that if Netflix wanted to keep its users and compete with these newer platforms, they’d act like it.

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But they don’t seem to care.

First the price: just last week in Canada, they raised the prices for all the plans by about 30%. Now Netflix prices are almost double what they started out as. How are students supposed to afford that? Even in other countries, there are price hikes. And I get that Netflix can raise prices and they have a right to increase profits when they spend so much on their original content, but it’s not conducive to retaining customers or attracting new ones in this competitive age. My father has announced that next year, he’s probably cancelling our subscription (we only got it in the first place because it came with our TV package for a year and we decided to keep it) and I’m not even that mad considering I don’t use it that often and can stream anything I want from other places if I so desire. With more and more streaming services out there, people aren’t going to want them all, so they’re going to look at two things: price and content.

And Netflix isn’t shining in the content department, either. Especially not in Canada or countries other than America. I guess there are laws on what Netflix can or can’t have in other countries, but I can personally confirm that Canada’s selection is abysmal. There have been so many shows I’ve wanted to watch and Netflix has let me down. And while we do get every Netflix original, even they aren’t great. Sure, Netflix has produced a lot of winners, but there are also a lot of losers. Have you ever looked through Netflix’s originals catalog? There’s a lot there that I’ve never heard of. Not every show can get super popular, but you’d think that Netflix would specialize in shows people want to watch and get hype. And even the ones that do get hype aren’t always that great, in my opinion. Last year, everyone went gaga for A Christmas Prince. As a huge fan of cheesy Christmas movies, I obviously watched it. It wasn’t anything special. I’ve seen cheesier, better-acted, more original Christmas movies with way better romance from Hallmark, who cranks out dozens every year. And yet Netflix made a sequel this year. Surprise-surprise: it was way worse. Boring, not as cute, worse acting, and a dumb plot.

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And my point isn’t that Netflix can’t have any crappy shows—goodness knows network TV has a lot of junk too—but you’d just think that since they’re the masters of their own domain and don’t have as many hoops to jump through the way other shows/movies do, there’d be more content of a higher quality. Instead we get Insatiable and 13 Reasons Why.

“But Netflix totally wants to please us! They kept FRIENDS!” Okay, yes, they did keep FRIENDS after the internet made a big stink about potentially losing it this week, but at what cost? 100 million. As this Tweet points out, there are many other ways to watch that show and that money could have been used to make new/better content or save beloved cable shows. But yeah, let’s keep raising monthly prices.

And I’ll be honest, a big motivator for this rant came from the cancellation of Daredevil. I was big time mad when it was announced. Though it may not have been Netflix’s fault as it seems Disney wanted it (or the property) for Disney+, the fact that Daredevil and the other Marvel shows are essentially done really lessens the attraction of Netflix for me and many people. And now there are rumors that because of contracts between Marvel and Netflix, if Disney+ wanted to keep the show going (and use the season four that was already planned out, by the way) they legally couldn’t use the same cast, so what would be the point of a new version? You can’t beat perfection.

Anyway, once Netflix cancels Jessica Jones and The Punisher, the only Netflix original show I’ll care about that’s still alive is Queer Eye, because I doubt Canada’s luck is going to turn and we’ll get good other content from them. Or from any of them. Hulu and DC Universe aren’t available here. I’ll just stick to watching things online illegally and watching the eventual downfall of all the streaming services (but especially Netflix). It’s why regular TV will never die.

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So…is anyone else mad at Netflix (and/or the plethora of streaming services)? Be mad with me.

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Monthly Look Ahead: December 2018

Ho Ho Ho-ly cow, it’s already December! Can you believe the year is almost over? A lot of people online are expressing their shock that the year seemed unusually long, and I feel that. Though, for me, I think this is accentuated by the fact that my life has changed a lot in the past year. In January I was away at school and editing a novel. Now I’m back home and working full time and getting rejections from lit agents. Anyway, before the year is over, I still have December to look forward to. And by now you should that I love Christmas, so I think this month will be a good one. Here’s what I’ve got going on:

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  • I very much enjoyed season one of Marvel’s Runaways, so I am very excited for season two on the 21st.
  • On the 18th, Ellen Degeneres’s Netflix comedy special is coming out, and I am very interested to see that. I love Ellen, and I think she’s funny, but being funny on a talk show and being stand-up comedy funny are different things. She’s done stand-up before, but it’s been a while. I have faith, though.
  • As it is every year, the Arrowverse is doing a big crossover. Though Legends is not a part of it this year, there’ll still be more than enough characters to deliver a wild story. All the pictures I’ve seen of Barry as Oliver and Oliver as Barry have me super ready for it. Plus Clark and Lois and Batwoman? The hype is real.
  • Aquaman is hitting theaters on the 21st, and early reviews seem alright. The trailer looked good actually (aside from Mera’s silly hair. It’s so dumb-looking).
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  • In October, Team Starkid had a new show called The Guy Who Hated Musicals and I thiiiink it’ll be on YouTube this month (or so a Tweet from Nick Lang said). I can’t wait to see it because Starkid’s content is almost always funny and entertaining.
  • Mary Poppins Returns and Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse are two movies I want to see at some point but am not dying to see. They’re obviously out this month, so if a friend wants to see one, I’ll go, but otherwise I’ll watch them eventually.
  • Christmas, obviously. Though we don’t know what our plans are yet. Gotta love that.
  • My mom and I haven’t started baking any Christmas cookies, so we gotta get on that.

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Aaaand that’s my December. What do you have going on this last month? Make your own MLA post and share!

That’s all for now!

 

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Canada Isn’t Your Perfect Utopia

I like Canada. In fact, I love a lot of Canada. And I even enjoy the fun reputation Canada gets in the world…to a point. The political climate between Canada and our neighbour the United States is rough, as it has been in the past few years since a certain moron became America’s leader. When said moron got elected, there was a bit of a joke from some Americans that they were then going to move to Canada to escape the madness.

But guess what, y’all? Canada is not your perfect utopia. You can’t just run over here and think you can join in on our life when we’ve always been a joke to you.

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Every time an American celebrity comes to Canada or films something in Canada and is asked about, they’re always like “Yeah, Canada’s is so great! I love Canada! Such nice people!” and it’s just the same little spiel each time. It’s tiring. You guys don’t really like Canada. No one wants to come here. No one wants to open businesses here. No one wants to do anything but pretend we’re some fun, reliable place that is just there to give the rest of the world trees and syrup and fake girlfriends or something.

Aren’t we great?

No. Canada can suck too. Canada can suck big time, and for a lot of the same reasons America can suck. We have racism and guns and idiot politicians and student debt and more. Obviously, I’m not proud, but it’s the truth, and reading some CBC headlines will prove it. This past summer in Toronto (Ontario’s capital) there were over 80 shootings. And I know that’s peanuts compared to America, which has like 80 shootings a week, but it goes to show that Canada has problems too, even with our gun control laws and likable Prime Minister and healthcare. I’m disappointed in Canada often because we could be better.

But all the rest of the world sees is polar bears and weird accents and hockey and poutine. Some of that stuff isn’t even accurate. And none of it matters. We’re painted out to be some weird, safe utopia of nice robotic people. And I think I’m tired of seeing this online. I’m tired of Americans only using us when it’s convenient and then pretending we’re the greatest place ever when they know nothing about us.

Shut up, Jon Hamm.

Is any of this making sense? Are any of my Canadian pals understanding this or relating? Or do I sound privileged and whiny?

I guess all I’m asking for is the respect we deserve and some honesty. Yeah, Canada can be a great place and I’m so thankful that I never really worried about getting shot in school or anything like that. But we also suck in a lot of ways, and that’s not being addressed even here in Canada. We’re a mediocre problematic country like the rest of them, and it’s time that was understood worldwide.

 

 

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I Consume Content At Double Speed, And You Need To Try It

I’ve developed a habit of watching things at a faster speed. I now have a need for speed.

It started in my third year of university. One of my profs often assigned videos for us to watch for homework. Some would be short two minute videos, but some were long, twenty minute TED Talks. I did not like the long ones. And then a friend who was also in the course dropped the biggest life hack on me: watch the videos at double speed.

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You may be thinking: double speed is too fast. It’s incomprehensible. But it’s not. Especially if you have subtitles on. I love subtitles. I have them on the TV all the time. And sure, YouTube’s auto-generated ones can be hit or miss, but usually they’re alright. They’re enough for me to glance at the text as I process what I’m hearing. And really, your ears and brain adjust to the faster speed quickly so the more you do it, the easier it is to do.

See, people in TV shows/movies and a lot of YouTube videos talk slower than we talk in most real-life conversations because it’s easier for viewers to understand. If you’ve ever given a speech or presentation, you’d know you need to go slow and enunciate. So speeding that up doesn’t make it impossible to understand, it just makes it faster than expected.

Besides, a lot of the videos I was watching, like the ones for that course, were more about the sound than the picture. TED Talks are just a person standing and speaking. I don’t care if they now pace around on that stage at a weird speed. YouTube videos are largely the same. So that’s why I was shocked and amazed when this same friend informed me that he doesn’t just watch meaningless homework videos and vlogs at a double speed, he watches TV shows at this speed too. Shows that he enjoys. Why would you want to spend less time watching something you enjoy? I decided to not do that.

Until I did it.

Look, for a period last year on Tuesday nights I had seven TV shows to watch. Three of them were full hour shows. By the time midnight was rolling around, I was tired and not giving the shows the proper attention they deserve.  So I upped the speed. Suddenly a twenty two minute show was taking eleven minutes. A forty seven minute show was taking twenty three minutes. I was saving time and still being able to consume the content I enjoyed. They just spoke faster and moved faster. I used to spend literally ALL DAY watching the Marvel Netflix shows when they came out. Now I can do it in an evening. And I don’t even feel bad because Jessica Jones Season 2 was a lot of standing and talking anyway.

Of course, you may be thinking, wait, Netflix doesn’t have a speed setting. Do you watch things illegally? The answer is yeah, I sure do, but I also use a Chrome extension that allows me to control the speed on Netflix, so I can watch legally there. It also works on Facebook and Tumblr videos which also don’t have speed settings. I’ve been using it for months, and I love it.

DJ Khaled Major Key

I still prefer to watch a show live on a TV screen (unlike my friend who will wait to watch it quickly online after, and I hope that if he’s reading this, he knows I disapprove) but if I’m in a time crunch and am watching something online, I will not hesitate to speed it up a bit.

Recently I rewatched The Office. I did it at only 1.5 speed (to savour it). Sometimes I’ll watch YouTube videos at 2.5 if it’s someone who really talks slow or I don’t really care about the sound as much as the picture or the info. Either way, I do enjoy the flexibility I now have. And I encourage you to try it. Start slow and use subtitles, if you want. It’ll be weird at first, but you’ll get used to it, and soon be able to watch all the TV shows and movies you never had time for.

You’re welcome.

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