Posts tagged with "USA today"

Kael Felix illustrates Joe Biden for 360 Magazine

BIDEN WINS

By Payton Saso

THE OVERWHELMING UNCERTAINTIES

As four years of uncertainty may be coming to a close, there is not the expected sigh of relief we could hope for. As election day takes way, it is hard to ignore all the uncertainties that still loom over America. 

The nation we are living in is something many young voters have not seen before. As big cities board up businesses in preparation for the salient threat of riots and protests following election results, COVID-19 cases are on the rise and the fear amongst Americans is palpable.

Reuters analysis of state and county reports showed that COVID cases have risen 18% and deaths have risen 3%. While 3% may not seem exponential, “Nationally, nearly 5,800 people died of the virus in the seven days ended Nov. 1,” they reported.

The election follows the week in which Amy Coney Barrett [ACB] was confirmed to serve her life-long term on the Supreme Court, making some voters even more concerned regarding the outcome of the election and the fate of their human rights.

In its first hearing since ACB was confirmed, the Court will start its hearings in a case regarding the Catholic Social Services in Pennsylvania. The case follows the suing of the City of Philadelphia by the CSS for not allowing children to be placed in foster care with organizations like the CSS who exclude same-sex couples from being fosters, according to the local news stations NBC 10 Philadelphia.

Originally facing the Supreme Court’s docket when the late Justice Ginsburg still served, the new outcome of the case is truly up in the air. With the addition of ACB, who is conservatively Catholic, it is unclear whether she will side with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in their claims that their First Amendment rights are being violated. 

It is clear that how ACB votes on this case, will set the precedent for her term and quite frankly how she will vote if President Trump objects to the outcome of the election. 

Which is an evident possibility, seeing that the G.O.P. in Texas has already attempted to get 127,000 votes from Harris County. The county, which is largely Democratic, instilled drive-through ballot drop locations throughout by Harris County clerk, Chris Hollins, the New York Times stated.

Though the case was rejected by the Texas Supreme Court, those in the lawsuit claimed that the locations were illegal and favored Democrats. However, it seems that this is a tactic of voter suppression in hopes to throw out Democratic votes. 

Similarly in Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court ruled last month to reject “Republican request for a stay on a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that would allow ballots to be counted up to three days after Election Day,” Politico reported.

This attempted block is another attempt to threaten the validity of mail-in votes to which President Trump has been very vocal about opposing. The use of these absentee ballots; however, are just to yield some relief on the growing pandemic numbers to ease traffic at the polls today.

As of 12:17 EST, the US Elections Project gathered data that 100,611,070 Americans have voted early. With a mass number of votes already cast, it is clear this election will be historical in every way.

BIDEN CAMPAIGN WON’T STOP

Regularly dressed to the nines with his signature Aviator sunglasses, Biden has had to add another signature accessory to this fit, a mask. But that hasn’t stopped him from emanating the vibe of the cool Uncle Joe. His recent Twitter post for one of his campaign videos shows that.

Using the iconic Eminem song “Lose Yourself” from the “Eight Mile” soundtrack, the black and white video was Tweeted alongside the words by Biden, “ We have one shot. One Opportunity. One moment. Don’t miss the chance — vote.”

Appealing to those of all ages, “Lose Yourself” has become a song of triumph relished by sports teams, boxers and just the average joe in need of a confidence boots. The Grammy Award winning song was licensed to the Biden-Harris campaign which, Variety says, is a song rarely allowed by Eminem to be used.

It is no surprise that Eminem is one of the celebrities endorsing the Biden-Harris ticket. In 2017, he rapped a freestyle for the BET Awards that tore into Trump as president and as a human. He then released an album entitled “Revival” that year in which he continued to criticize Trump more. His song “Framed” on the track led the Secret Service to investigate the rapper.

While the Secret Service would not confirm this, “documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request confirmed that they did,” Rolling Stone claimed.

However, “One Shot,” regardless of the artist’s own personal hits at the President, encompasses the feeling of the American people in this time. The video depicts everyday people, our essential workers, nurses, doctors, those waiting in the long lines of the polls, and every other demographic Biden says he will work for. 

The power and importance of this election reigns true with the words ‘we only got one shot’ to make a promising change in America.

TRUMP PROMOTES THE AMERICAN DREAM

With the final push for votes occurring, both candidates are Tweeting out new campaign videos in hopes to still appeal to undecided voters.

President Trump Tweeted today a video that appeals to the masses who are patriotic and believe American is the greatest country. Playing to the idea of the American Dream, which he has made a prominent stance on, the video shows masses of Americans rallying together waving Trump flags and signs.

The images of American Flag sliced into images of the Armed Forces cheering and standing at attention, are overlaid with the words of President Trump. “America is the place where anything can happen. America is the place anyone can rise,” Trump asserts. 

The immensely patriotic video comes the day after President Trump announced his American Dream Plan. “President Trump recently released the American Dream Plan to reaffirm his commitment to fight for Hispanic prosperity and opportunity for all to achieve the American Dream,” The White House announced.

This final appeal to voters goes along with Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” where he says he will create a country completely independent of China, create job opportunities and create an environment where the American Dream can be accomplished. 

This video is in contrast to his opponent’s, Joe Biden, recent campaign video by using B-roll and music that is simple and might appeal to older voters, while Biden’s campaign used music and video editing that might appeal better to younger voters. 

Regardless of who the candidates are trying to appeal to, hopefully these campaign videos help some undecided voters to choose who they believe is best for our country.

ELECTION PREDICTIONS

The results of this election are being awaited anxiously by Americans everywhere. Because of so many people using mail-in ballots, the final results may take longer than usual to be confirmed. Many predictions have been made about who the winner may be.

Primary Model predicts that Trump will take the win and gives him a 91% chance of doing so. They predict Trump will get 362 electoral votes while Biden will only get 176. Since Primary Model was created in 1996, they have correctly predicted all but one presidential election.

It is predicted that voter turnout will surge this year. “The intensity of the electorate is without recent precedent,” Tom Bonier, the CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic political-data firm, said in The Atlantic. It was predicted last year that 150 million Americans would vote this fall.

A historian and professor at American University, Allan Litchman, has predicted every presidential election correctly since 1984. Litchman explained on Fox News his prediction model called “The 13 Keys to the White House.” He explained Trump was in the lead to win until the coronavirus pandemic hit America.

“My prediction is that Donald Trump will become the first sitting president since George H. W. Bush in 1992 to lose a reelection bid, and Joe Biden will become the next president of the United States,” said Litchman.

Henry Olson also gave his prediction in The Washington Post. He predicted that Biden would win the popular vote with 52.5% of votes. He believes Biden will conclude with 350 electoral college votes while Trump will conclude with only 188.

AFTER ELECTION NIGHT

It is no surprise that results for this election are taking longer to finalize. With more early and mail-in votes due to the pandemic, some states are still counting ballots on November 4.

As of 3 pm on November 4, Biden is in the lead with 237 electoral college votes compared to the 213 Trump has. Six states are still undecided including Alaska, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia. Michigan and Nevada are currently leaning blue while the other remaining states lean red.

President Donald Trump seems dissatisfied with the fact that ballots are still being counted. “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!” tweeted Trump at 12:49 am on November 4.

He also tweeted, “They are finding Biden votes all over the place — in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. So bad for our Country!” The Trump campaign has also filed a lawsuit to stop vote counting in Michigan.

Candidate Joe Biden has been more positive on his Twitter account. At 1:03 am on November 4 he tweeted, “We feel good about where we are. We believe we are on track to win this election.”

THE WAIT FOR A WINNER

As of Friday morning, Biden has taken over Georgia and Pennsylvania. Georgia is 99% reporting and Biden is winning with just over 1,000 votes. Pennsylvania is 98% reporting and Biden has a slightly greater advantage than in Georgia.

The last time a Democrat won Georgia was almost 30 years ago when Bill Clinton won over his opponent George H.W. Bush in 1992. Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, has already announced there would be a recount due to the small margin.

Nevada is at 84% reporting and Biden remains in the lead. Trump is leading in North Carolina and Alaska.

The Trump campaign continues to protest the results. They plan to sue in Nevada and claim that votes are being counted for people that have moved or died. According to Daily Mail, Trump plans to sue every battleground state that Biden has won.

This election is being compared to the 2000 election where George W. Bush and Al Gore had an incredibly tight race. This election lead to the supreme court decision to stop the recount known as Bush v. Gore. Bush ended up winning Florida by only 537 votes. In 2000 the winner wasn’t determined until December 12th and Americans everywhere are strapping in for what could be another long battle for the election results.

Joe Biden has passed 270 votes as of Saturday morning. Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris posted on her Twitter in celebration.

To keep up with the most recent election results click here.

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BEYONCÉ x ADIDAS

By Payton Saso

Beyoncé first collaborated adidas with her launch of Ivy Park. Now, the singer is back with a new collaboration. On September 18 the Beyoncé x adidas Superstar Platform will be released and available to purchase through the adidas App.

This shoe is a reinterpretation of the adidas Superstar, “however, the tooling begins to sculpt to a platform shape, bearing in tow an aggressive, near brutalist aesthetic. The midsole, though partly left untouched, quickly begins to protrude out, extending from all sides as it does in height,” Sneaker News described.

The adidas website describes the launch as “The meeting of two icons: Beyoncé lends her elegance and perspective to the iconic silhouette for the 50th anniversary of the Superstar.”

Teen Vogue recapped the history of Ivy Park, stating that the brand, “relaunched just last April with adidas where they would be collaborating, but also Beyoncé would be designing her own sportswear apparel and footwear for the brand, which includes the classic sneakers.”

This remake of the Superstar is the first of its kind by reshaping the shoe and adding a platform. This isn’t the first time Beyoncé has repurposed the classic adidas style to brand them with her Ivy Park line. Earlier this year, she launched four shoes with the brand. “All showcasing the collection’s bold styling, and incorporating utilitarian details,” adidas announced, and adding never seen before colors to the brand.

The sneakers, however, were reportedly leaked prior to their original release date but this doesn’t seem to be bothering Queen Bey too much as she was seen enjoying a vacation in Croatia on a $2 million a week yacht.

While the Ivy Park name already holds its own in the fashion industry and pop culture, collaborating with adidas is its newest mark in the industry. The brand first launched in 2016 and was cofounded with TOPSHOP founder, Sir Philip Green, but Beyoncé is now the sole owner after Green faced sexual harassment allegations in 2018, according to BBC.

The singer originally alluded to her collaboration in the January issue of ELLE Canadae, which 360 Magazine covered. With new magazine covers, movies, music and fashion, this year has been busy for Queen Bey.

The singer released a visual album, “Black is King” earlier this year which was a revival of “The Lion King.” Beyoncé was also recently enlisted by the United Nations, along with other celebs, “a film promoting actions to tackle the world’s biggest issues from the COVID-19 pandemic to poverty and inequality” according to USA Today.

It is no surprise to her fans that the singer is staying booked and busy, and are anticipating her latest drop with adidas.

The shoe’s which drop today, September 18 on the adidas app, cost $200 US dollars. Through the app customers can purchase the shoe, or enter a giveaway which closes on the drop date to win themselves a pair of the exclusive sneaker.

The Intersection Between Chairman Warren Buffett & Chairman Mao Tse-tong

The Extreme Capitalism Hidden Deep Within Socialism

I had the most interesting Uber ride the other day.  My driver was named Ramon.  A very intelligent gentleman whose ingenuity resulted in a plexiglass wall erected between the front and back seats of his vehicle, I noted how clever his idea was in my mind.  He thanked me, then launched into an engaging and highly enjoyable conversation of which I welcomed.  I learned a lot about his life, his gratitude towards the United States as someone who had immigrated here as well as the challenges Covid-19 had placed on his recent marital union.  He hadn’t seen his wife in eight months.  A citizen of Nicaragua, their delay was Covid-19 made.  He missed her dearly but told me that they Facetimed daily.  Still he was grateful towards the United States.  I listened carefully, wondering for a moment, what it must be like to be him.

Ramon continued talking.  Then upon reaching my destination, he proceeded to ask me a question.  He stated that in all his years of driving for Uber, only one person had answered this question correctly.  Intrigued, I was determined to increase that number to two.  He said, “Do you know about Little Red Book?”  I racked my brain.  Unfortunately, the original title holder still stands.  I didn’t know.

Ramon would go on to explain to me what this book was all about then suggested that I read it.  We then went on to exchange Facebook information so that I might share my thoughts with him about it after I had.  Admittedly, before the day was out, I had the book in my hot, little hands.  I devoured it quickly.  A collection of statements, speeches, and writings by the former Chairman of the Communist Party of China, Mao Tse-tong, the book clearly explains the interlinking of Communism, Leninism, Marxism, and Socialism alongside the overriding core philosophies and goals. For those who never read it, pick up a copy.  The relevancy to the transformation our own nation has been undergoing within the last hundred years is clearly laid out, explaining how we arrived to the point that we are today, a time when Socialism sounds good to so many.

What jumped out at me while reading Little Red Book was the extreme Capitalism that lies beneath this philosophy, ideology, political agenda, and (make no mistake about it) religion.

Not unlike in this case, I’ve never known any kind of extremism that was good.  Suffice it to say, I liken Socialism to a triangle, whereby the top point of the triangle must compel the bottom two points to hop on board and work for them, which includes convincing everyone in the middle to do the same, all in the name of equality and safety.  Once this is done, the top point will grow extremely wealthy on the backs of the rest, justifying this by the very equality and security that opened the door to the treasure trove to begin with.  Equality and security among the rest will continue to remain so long as no one decides to question the vast differences in wealth between the upper most point and everyone else.  In corporate terms, the proprietor rally’s his workers. Then, when the company becomes a multi-million dollar entity, forgets who put him there, takes all of the profits, then fires his team one by one when they begin to ask questions instead of rewarding them for jobs well-done and incentivizing them.  Unlike earlier days when our corporate culture took care of its employees garnering loyalty and hard work as a result, so much of what has occurred since, in the form of unfairness and greed, has literally unrolled the welcome mat for Socialism to walk its way into and across our borders.  And yet the solution is just another version of the extreme Capitalism that compelled the outrage to begin with.  It is in the “extreme” that lies the true problem and needs to be changed, whether it be in business, government or human relations in all its forms and definitions.

And it seems another highly regarded Chairman agrees, the Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett.  A brilliant Capitalist whose wisdom remains steadfast among generations of capitalists, Buffett prizes human ingenuity and the deployment of resources, harboring a “we’ve only just begun” mentality.  However, he cautions against “Capitalism left unchecked” beyond just in the corporate world.  In an interview with CNBC, Buffett offers this solution to “government left unchecked,”

“I could end the deficit in five minutes. You just pass a law that says that any time there’s a deficit of more than three percent of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election. Yeah, yeah, now you’ve got the incentives in the right place, right.” — Warren Buffett, Chairman & CEO Berkshire Hathaway.

The idea of fair Capitalism, fair government, and fair human relations is what I think everyone in this nation is really fighting for, not equal even….just fair.  “Everyone” that is but those extreme Capitalists masked as Socialists (the ‘uppermost-point on the triangle’ crowd) who have been reading the room correctly for a very long time and in that capitalized on the very failures extreme Capitalism invoked, including generations of hardworking people who woke up everyday, went to work, then returned home feeling completely taken advantage of and resentful.  And you wonder where the pervasive foothold to Socialism in the United States began?

The reality is however that extreme Capitalism and fair Capitalism can not exist in the same room.  As Mao Tse-Tung put it in Chapter Four of Little Red Book,

 Before a brand-new social system can be built on the site of the old, the site must be swept clean. Invariably, remnants of oldideas reflecting the old system remain in people’s minds for a long time, and they do not easily give way. After a co-operative is established, it must go through many more struggles before it can be consolidated.”

I fear we are experiencing the “sweeping clean” phase of our national conversion with all of us just waking up to what’s been happening for some time now.  In our own greed and extreme Capitalism, we fell asleep at the wheel and are currently driving off a cliff because we lost our credibility with those who helped this country grow rich and their offspring.

Only they don’t realize that they won’t get any richer by allowing us to do so.  The wealth will just be diverted to those coaxing them along.

“People say that poverty is bad, but in fact poverty is good. The poorer people are, the more revolutionary they are. It is dreadful to imagine a time when everyone will be rich.” — Mao Tse-tung 

No doubt, things need to change but trading one master for another isn’t the way to do it.  But have we woken up too late?  I guess that answer lies in the question, “Will we opt for fair Capitalism going forward or extreme Capitalism by another name?”

For the second time in two days, I don’t have a clue.  The tale has yet to be written.  I am certain, however, that we will all soon find out…including Ramon, whose Uber I am darn happy I took yesterday.

“You are a gentleman and a scholar in all senses of the word,” my new friend.  “Thank you for compelling me to take this philosophical journey.  I am the better for it and so will many others be in reading this article.”

My Panama hat’s off to you! (an inside joke)

My Bio:

Laura J. Wellington is the Founder of THREAD MB.  A TEDx Speaker, Award-winning children’s television creator, and author, Wellington’s newest book “Be Careful What You Wish For” releases October 2020.  A Forbes Enterprise Award winner, Telly Award winner, and Buzz Award winner, Wellington has appeared on CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC, CCTV, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and more.

Who is Judge Amy Coney Barrett?

By Payton Saso

Just eight days since the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Trump has already made his nomination for her replacement. The nominee? Her name is Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

This decision comes days after President Trump and Senator McConnell called for a speedy nomination to secure the seat before the November election, despite Ginsburg’s dying wish as written about last week in 360 MAGAZINE.

This isn’t Trump’s first nomination though, this would be the third Justice he has appointed, but this one seems to be as controversial as his nomination of Brett Kavanough. In 2018, Kavanaugh was nominated and a grueling Supreme Court hearing took place which left the country divided when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused then nominee of sexually assaulting her when they were both teens.

Even though Dr. Ford passed a polygraph test, according to USA Today, and testified, Kavanaugh’s nomination was pushed and he is now a sitting Supreme Court Justice. And Trump’s new nomination is not shy of public controversy either.

Judge Barrett, a 48-year-old Notre Dame Law School alumna, has made headlines recently for the obvious but with a special interest in her religious ties.

While religion is not normally a deal breaker when it comes to government officials, since most hold faith in the Christian God and that is what the country was founded on, for Barrett that is what is becoming the headline.

It is important that, regardless of religious beliefs, judges are able to separate their religion and the law when making decisions and that expectation is even higher with Justices who are given their lifetime appointments to dissuade any bias. Barrett even said she was able to do that in her 2017 confirmation hearing for the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the seat she holds currently.

However, she was asked when the public was unaware of her ties to People of Praise. This is where the current public concern stems from. According to their website, People of Praise “is a charismatic Christian community. We admire the first Christians who were led by the Holy Spirit to form a community. Those early believers put their lives and their possessions in common, and ‘there were no needy persons among them.'”

While Barrett herself has not publicly claimed she is apart of this ultra-conservative group, CNN reported that Barrett appeared often in the groups magazine “Vine’s and Branches” however, “a number of online versions of the issues that include her appear to have been removed from the website — though it is unclear why that action was taken.”

Being apart or not apart of this group is not what makes Barrett a win for the conservatives, she already has publicly made it aware of her stance on liberal issues. Like when she signed the Letter to Synod Fathers from Catholic Women that stated, “…marriage and family founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman” and “…the value of human life from conception to natural death.”

In less preachy terms, she supported a letter that said marriage is only between a man and a woman, therefore she does not support same sex marriage, and supported the idea that life begins at conception, so she is a pro-lifer.
There has also been a lot of focus on the fact she undoubtedly supports the pro-life view. She stated in one of her lectures that she “expected that the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision would be hollowed out, but not reversed,” according to NPR.

Which is not something many want to hear. A majority of people would rather Roe v. Wade be upheld in the Supreme court not “hollowed out.” Since her appointment to the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett has ruled on two abortion cases.

One of the cases was Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky Inc. In this case, she voted on whether an Indiana Law that demanded minors to notifiy their parents/guardians in order to receive an abortion was just. Barrett dissented saying that the law shouldn’t have been blocked, according to the ABA Journal.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation will shift the court to a conservative 6-3 vote and it is hard to tell what this means for America, but many speculate much will change. In a time where America is vehemently divided on many social issues, many that sparked from conservitive ideals, this nomination seems like it is only another deterrent to silence the majority. However, Americans have proved over the last few months they will not go quietly and we can expect the deafening sound of their protests to ring strong regardless of the courts constitutional ideals.

Netflix – Cuties

By Cassandra Yany

One of Netflix’s newest films, Cuties, has garnered much attention and backlash since its Sep. 9 release on the streaming platform. The coming-of-age film depicts a young girl as she tries to navigate her life as a pre-teen growing up in a Muslim family living in Paris.

Many critics have spoken out against the film, which currently holds the no. 7 spot in Netflix’s ‘Top 10,’ for its depiction of 11-year-old girls dancing and behaving in an indecent manner. According to the New York Times, the movie was first deemed controversial in the U.S. in August when Netflix released the promotional artwork. The original marketing for the film displayed an image of four young girls in skimpy dance costumes posing provocatively.

This, along with the trailer, prompted opposers to start petitions online and call for the removal of the film from Netflix’s catalog. Netflix apologized and changed the artwork for the film to a more innocent photo of the same four characters walking down the street with shopping bags, donning bras and underwear over their clothes.

Last week’s release of the film has sparked conversation once again amongst parents, politicians and others, causing #CancelNetflix to trend on Twitter. Lina Nealon, the Director of Corporate and Strategic Initiatives at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation has spoken out against the film saying “While we commend Director Maïmouna Doucouré for exposing the very real threats to young girls having unfettered access to social media and the internet, we cannot condone the hypersexualization and exploitation of the young actresses themselves in order to make her point.” She called for Netflix to cut the “sexually-exploitive” scenes from the film, or remove the film from the platform altogether.

On Friday, Hawaii Rep. Tulse Gabbard tweeted, “@Netflix child porn ‘Cuties’ will certainly whet the appetite of pedophiles & help fuel the child sex trafficking trade. 1 in 4 victims of trafficking are children… Netflix you are now complicit.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz penned a letter to Attorney General William P. Barr Friday calling for the Department of Justice to start an investigation into the production and distribution of the film to “determine whether Netflix, any of its executives, or anyone involved in the making of ‘Cuties’ violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography.”

Cruz wrote that “the film routinely fetishizes and sexualizes these pre-adolescent girls as they perform dances simulating sexual conduct in revealing clothing, including at least one scene with partial nudity” falsely claiming that there’s a scene exposing a “minor’s bare breast.” The Associated Press reported that one of Cruz’s representatives, Lauren Aronson, said that the senator has not seen the film.

According to the Washington Times, some critics are even calling on the Obama’s— who have a production deal with Netflix— to take action against the film. Deadline stated that “The reality appears to have been lost in the storm, and the truth is very few of the people reacting so strongly will have actually seen the film.”

Netflix told USA TODAY “‘Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. It’s an award winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up— and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.”

Director Maïmouna Doucouré defends the film, saying that it works to shed light on these issues so they can be fixed. Cuties first premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 23, where it won the Directing Jury Award for the dramatic film category. According to the New York Times, the movie did not stir up much conversation in France after its theatrical release (as Mignnonnes in French) in August.

Deadline reports that Doucouré did not see the promotional material prior to when it was circulated on the internet. She said that she received death threats as the outrage grew over these images. She told the news site that the film is not apologetic about the hypersexualization of children, but instead is her “…personal story as well as the story of many children who have to navigate between a liberal western culture and a conservative culture at home.”

Cuties was Doucouré’s feature directorial debut. Similar to the film’s main character, Amy, Doucouré is of Senegalese descent and grew up in a Muslim culture in Paris. In an interview at Sundance, she said she first had the idea for the movie after attending a neighborhood gathering in Paris where she saw a group of 11-year-old girls doing a stage performance of a “sensual” dance. She was shocked to see girls that age dance like that in short clothing. “We can’t continue to close our eyes about that,” she told the interviewer.

Doucouré researched for a year and a half, meeting with hundreds of pre-teens who told her their stories. She learned about their ideas of femininity, and how their self image is affected by the emphasis of social media in today’s society. According to IndieWire, the young actresses’ parents were on board with the project to spread awareness of the issue, and there was a psychologist working with the girls throughout filming who is still helping them throughout the release process.

The film is centered around Amy, an 11-year-old girl who has recently moved to a housing development in a poor suburb of Paris with her Senegalese, observant Muslim family. She looks out for her brothers, takes care of responsibilities around the house, and is in the process of being taught how to ‘be a woman’ by  her aunt.

One day after prayer, Amy walks by the laundry room and sees a girl her age dancing to music playing from her phone. In a subsequent scene, Amy is seen trying to straighten her hair with a clothing iron, burning part of it off as a result. 

Amy learns that her father, who is still in Senegal, has taken a second wife and will be coming to Paris soon to have the wedding. Her mother, Mariam, tries to hide her reaction to the news, but Amy sees her grow upset and take her frustrations out on herself. This is where Amy’s behavior begins to shift; she starts to reject her culture and identity, and instead tries to conform to fit in with the other girls at school. 

At school, Amy is teased for her clothes and lack of fashion sense, so she begins to wear her younger brother’s t-shirt to match the crop tops that her classmates wear. After seeing a group of girls her age dancing after school, Amy steals her cousin’s iPhone to learn how to dance, herself. She comes across their social media accounts and begins taking selfies, imitating what she sees on their profiles. 

Amy finds herself a spot in the girls’ friend group and dance troupe, and as a result, begins to neglect her responsibilities at home. Amy starts to show more self expression, wearing her hair natural rather than pulling it back. She also begins to explore the internet more, finding videos of almost-naked women dancing rather suggestively and moving their bodies in ways that an 11-year-old probably shouldn’t be watching. 

Taking what she found online, Amy practices dancing with her friends and teaches them how to twerk. This is where the movie begins to make viewers slightly uneasy. It was jarring to see these young, innocent girls tainted by this inappropriate content and doing dance moves that they didn’t understand the implications of. It appears that this was the intention of director Doucouré, as she stated in an interview with Netflix that the film is “…a mirror of today’s society; a mirror sometimes difficult to look into and accept but still so true.”

Some of the scenes, frankly, are very disturbing to watch. These include the girls dancing provocatively for two older male workers at a laser tag facility so that they wouldn’t get in trouble for sneaking in, as well as Amy beginning to undress for her cousin once he found she had stolen his iPhone in an attempt to smooth over the situation. Perhaps the most disturbing scene is when Amy takes a picture of her genitals to post on her social media profile so that people at school would think she’s mature. While there was no nudity shown in this scene, the implied action was horrifying to watch. 

At the end of the film, Amy performs with her dance troupe at a local competition. Dressed in revealing outfits, they dance immodestly in front of a crowd of people who quickly seem unsettled. (This is the scene from which the original promotional photos were taken.) Toward the end of the song, Amy freezes as she begins to think about her mom, then runs off the stage crying. She goes home where she asks her mom not to attend her father’s wedding. Her mom continues to get ready for the event, but tells Amy that she doesn’t have to go.

Instead of going to the wedding, Amy steps outside and begins jumping rope. This scene depicts a mixture of her two identities: she is wearing jeans and a crop top with her hair down, but is surrounded by people of her culture dressed in traditional garments. After suppressing her family’s background for a majority of the movie, Amy is finally able to find the balance where her multiple cultures intersect in order to be her honest self. 

After watching Cuties, it is evident that it is not meant to promote this behavior among young girls, but instead provide commentary on what is happening today and warn the adults who see the movie. The harsh reality is that more pre-adolescents are exposed to this type of content than we think. Any child who has access to a smart device and social platforms have the potential to see a video not meant for them. Take TikTok for example: racy dances to Cardi B and Meg Thee Stallion’s “WAP,” as well as a recent trend where women make “thirst traps” to Beyoncé’s “Rocket” are some of the most popular videos on the app right now. Young TikTok users can easily see creators on their For You Page enjoying themselves while engaging in these trends, causing the young viewer to want to do the same.

When speaking to Deadline, Doucouré said, “What happens is young girls see images of women being objectified, and the more the woman becomes an object, the more followers and like she has— they see that as a role model and try to imitate these women, but they’re not old enough to know what they’re doing.” In a separate interview, she posed the question, “Isn’t the objectification of a woman’s body that we often see in our Western culture not another kind of oppression?”

Overall, Cuties shows the dangers of uncensored media for young children and displays how impressionable they can be. It also shows the journey of Amy’s self-discovery and learning how to blend her multiple cultures in order to shape her identity. Unfortunately, the risqué nature of the film overshadows the storyline and the message is lost for a number of audience members.

In various articles, Doucouré is quoted discussing the meaning of the film in the broad context of femininity and what it means for young girls to enter womanhood in this digital age. During her aforementioned interview with Netflix, she stated “The real question of Cuties is can we, as women, truly choose who we want to be, beyond the role models that are imposed upon us by society?”

Face mask illustration by maria soloman for 360 MAGAZINE article.

Anti-Mask Protest Sparked in Utah

By Payton Saso

On August 21, 2020, a protest was held in St. George, Utah that was organized in objection to wearing face masks. The debate about whether or not face masks help has been going since COVID-19 was declared a national pandemic, but one group decided to go a little further than online debates and hold a protest.

The protest came after the state governor, Gary Herbert, declared that masks would be mandated at school, USA Today reported. The marchers gathered at the Washington County School District where hundreds opposed forcing kids to wear masks saying, “safety is not as important as our freedom and liberty.”

The protest came under fire after a the news broadcast that covered the protest went viral. “A white woman earnestly attempts to explain the alleged injustice: of her situation by drawing a comparison to the killing of George Floyd,” The Cut recapped. Clearly the woman here is comparing the final words and pain of George Floyd to the minor inconvenience of getting slightly out of breath from wearing a mask, which is disturbing on many levels.

The original broadcast was covered by ABC 4 where they reported, “Up to a thousand people showed up in St. George, stating children being forced to wear masks in classrooms is illegal and unconstitutional.” Which without a Supreme Court trial, these unconstitutional claims just remain an uneducated opinion.

This protest came just a few months after a similar protest in Jacksonville, Florida where anti-maskers met at the Duval County Courthouse to oppose the mask mandate there, The Florida Times recapped.

St. George News stated that, “…rally attendee Dustin Cox, who also spoke over the megaphone, encouraged district students in attendance Friday to not wear a mask when they return to school Monday, even if it means getting expelled.”

Where if protestors make the claim that if masks are getting in the way of learning, wouldn’t getting expelled be a greater obstacle to learning?

There is not really any science accepted that masks cause more harm than good, even though that is often what anti-maskers claim. The World Health Organization has repeatedly set out initiatives for the public to wear masks. Protests like this have been seen across the world even in some of the countries where COVID has hit hard.

While it is every Americans right to free speech and that will be protected under the constitution, the timing and subject just seem to be a bit insensitive. With over 195,000 deaths and 6.5 million confirmed cases in the United States, doing anything we can to slow the spread doesn’t seem unconstitutional — especially if it is as simple as wearing a face covering.

Kaelen Felix illustrates a political article for 360 MAGAZINE

Black Male Leaders x Biden

USA Today reported Monday that Black male leaders penned an open letter to presidential candidate Joe Biden to say that he will lose the election if he does not select a Black woman as his running mate.

According to USA Today, the letter came from more than 100 activists, leaders, preachers and celebrities. Some candidates on an unofficial shortlist of possible VPs include Sen. Kamala Harris, Rep. Karen Bass and Susan Rice, the former Ambassador to the United Nations and National Security Advisor during Barack Obama‘s presidency.

The letter also expressed concern that Black women were being unfairly criticized as potential running mates for Biden. USA Today mentions a POLITICO report that said Sen. Chris Dodd criticized Sen. Harris for comments on Biden’s voting record regarding civil rights. The article also mentions a CNBC report saying Biden allies found Harris to be too focused on becoming president herself to hold the vice presidential office.

Signees of the letter included Sean “Diddy” Combs, Charlamagne Tha God and civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, who represented George Floyd’s family.

“We don’t want to choose between the lesser of two evils, and we don’t want to vote for the devil we know versus the devil we don’t because we are tired of voting for devils,” the letter said.

The New York Times reported Monday that Biden’s VP selection committee has been disbanded and that the only thing left was a decision from Biden, also calling the pick “imminent.”

The New York Times also said Biden’s campaign has a virtual event planned to introduce the vice presidential candidate, and the event is sponsored by Women for Biden.

Storm illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Hurricane During Pandemic

By Mina Tocalini

Evacuations, power outages, flooding and devastation are expected from the c and rain that wreak havoc on coastal communities during hurricane season. Managing the damages and protecting communities is further challenged by the threat of COVID-19 as the Tropical Storm Isaias’ violent path continues up the East Coast.

Designated a tropical storm near Puerto Rico, Isaias began to travel northwest hitting the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Florida and North Carolina, where it was assessed as a Category 1 hurricane. As it persisted up the East Coast the intensity reverted back to a tropical storm. Regardless, Isaias has been accompanied by strong winds between 60mph – 70mph, over 20 reports of tornadoes, rampant flash flooding and over 3 million homes and business without power. In New Jersey and Delaware the wind gust reached speeds of 109mph and 96mph, respectively.

A report from USA Today, warns that recent 2020 hurricane season forecasting reveals 10 more hurricanes will likely follow, leaving Isaias as a practice run for a hurricane during a pandemic. With that in mind, evacuations needed to be addressed cautiously in consideration of social distancing and other COVID-19 preventative measures. The combination of COVID-19 and Isaias has heightened concerns for emergency services which face overwhelming demands. The COVID-19 consequences of Isaias remain undetermined, but a potential spike in infections could be in our future.

Troye Sivan – Rager Teenager

Following the remarkable success of his new single, Easy, which amassed over 11 million combined global streams in the first week of release and now tops 20 million streams Troye Sivan has shared another new track, Rager teenager! Both songs will appear on his new six-song concept EP, In A Dream, which will be released on August 21 by Capitol Records. Troye filmed the video for Rager teenager! himself.

Easy appeared on 43 New Music Friday playlists after its release last month.
VULTURE said, “Easy is a pixelated cloud, a night drive to nowhere, a neon-blue bubble bath, a fizzy cola gummy.” Hailing it as one of the 10 songs you need in your life this week, The FADER praised Sivan’s laser focused intent to push into a more sophisticated, emotionally-torn pop realm. Billboard hailed Easy as a crying-on-the-dancefloor anthem [that] boasts a synth-heavy earworm melody and heartbreaking lyrics that will have you dancing and dreaming about your ex. Make no mistake, Easy is one of the best new songs of the week, declared IDOLATOR.

In A Dream is now available for pre-order HERE. Fans who pre-order the EP in digital format will instantly receive Rager teenager!plus Easy and the leadoff track, Take Yourself Home, which trended at #1 on Twitter worldwide following its release and has now attained over 76 million cumulative global streams. Visit https://TroyeSivan.lnk.to/Store for music bundles, including a deluxe CD package.

In his career to date, Troye has amassed over eight billion combined global streams. His sophomore album, Bloom (Capitol Records), was named as one of the best albums of 2018 by critics at Rolling Stone, USA Today, Billboard, OUT, NPR Music, The Guardian and numerous other publications. TIME said, Troye Sivan is the perfect pop star. He was recently named as one of five ambassadors to launch the Pasha de Cartier watch.

His numerous awards include a Billboard Music Awards trophy, three MTV Europe Music awards and two GLAAD Media wins. Revelation, his collaboration with Jnsi for the film Boy Erased, which Troye co-starred in was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song Motion Picture and shortlisted for an Oscar. Louder Than Bombs, a track Troye co-wrote, is featured on the new BTS album, Map of The Soul: 7, which debuted at No. 1 in the U.S., Korea, Australia and around the world.

Troye Sivan IN A DREAM visual

Troye Sivan – IN A DREAM

On August 21, Capitol Records will release IN A DREAM, Troye Sivan’s new six-song concept EP. Today, as the EP pre-order launched, Troye shared the second track, “Easy,” an infectious plea to set a relationship back on course. Download / stream “Easy” HERE and view the pseudo video HERE. Troye directed the official video for “Easy,” which will receive a YouTube Premiere tomorrow, July 16, at 7:00 AM PT. Set a reminder to watch the premiere HERE.

“A story that’s still unfolding, this small collection of songs explores an emotional rollercoaster period in my life when the feelings and thoughts were most shockingly fresh,” explains Troye Sivan. “Revisiting these songs and moments is tough, but I’m proud of this music and excited to have it out in the world.”

Troye recorded five of the EP’s six songs with producer Oscar Görres (The Weeknd, MARINA, Tove Lo) between Stockholm and Los Angeles, just prior to the lockdown. The leadoff track, “Take Yourself Home,” trended at #1 on Twitter worldwide following its release earlier this year and has now attained over 76 million cumulative global streams. The New York Times hailed “Take Yourself Home” as an “understatedly lush quasi-soul thumper.” PAPER said, “It’s perhaps the first great song to come out of our collective apocalyptic state of mind during the COVID-19 outbreak.” IN A DREAM is now available for pre-order HERE. Music bundles, including a deluxe CD package, are available HERE.

In his career to date, Troye has amassed nearly eight billion combined global streams. His sophomore album, Bloom (Capitol Records), was named as one of the best albums of 2018 by critics at Rolling Stone, USA Today, Billboard, OUT, NPR Music, The Guardian and numerous other publications. TIME said, “Troye Sivan is the perfect pop star.” He was recently named as one of five ambassadors to launch the Pasha de Cartier watch. His numerous awards include a Billboard Music Awards trophy, three MTV Europe Music awards and two GLAAD Media wins.

“Revelation” – his collaboration with Jónsi for the film Boy Erased, which Troye co-starred in – was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture and shortlisted for an Oscar. “Louder Than Bombs,” a track Troye co-wrote, is featured on the new BTS album, Map of The Soul: 7, which debuted at No. 1 in the U.S., Korea, Australia and around the world.

 

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