Why Fanfiction Matters
Fanfiction is a strange topic. When mentioning it, you’re bound to be met with a wide range of reactions, from “You write fanfiction too?” to “You mean that nerdy fiction that tweens write?” As someone who has been in the fanfiction community for quite a while, I have seen my fair share of both well-written stories with in-depth characters and vivid world-building… and fiction that reads like it was written by twelve-year-olds who forgot spell check exists. Regardless, even the worst writers improve as they age, honing their writing skills and eventually creating something worth hyper-fixating on. However, despite the harmless fun of writing about characters of certain fandoms, many people still disregard fanfiction as a childish hobby. What these people fail to realize is that fanfiction does matter, for a variety of reasons.
The first is fan interaction. It seems like certain fandoms such as Harry Potter, Supernatural, and even Twilight just won’t die despite their stories concluding years ago. That is mainly due to the number of dedicated fans still writing and reading about these characters. While the stories aren’t written by the authors of the original source material, fan interpretations can either be a refreshing look at a character or be so similar to the author’s work that it’s hard to tell the difference. Just because the main story is over doesn’t mean it has to stop for readers. In addition, fanfiction can be used as a creative outlet and allow people to become better writers.
Writing can also be therapeutic. Sometimes people will write a character with whom they feel a connection in a situation similar to one that they are currently experiencing, to better cope with the event. This is an example of what someone would call a comfort character. As strange as it may sound, doing this can be a real benefit to people as it helps them feel less alone in whatever situation they are facing.
The last issue is the judgment fanfiction writers face. Fanfiction writers get called childish or face mocking because of the stereotype of it being something only tween girls do. To this, I ask: why do people care so much about what someone does in their free time? There are worse things people can do than writing stories about fictional characters. It’s also not like fanfiction is anything new; some classic literary works we read in Civ, such as Dante’s Inferno, could be considered fanfiction. It keeps people creative, and some of the best storytellers of the modern era got their start by writing fanfiction. It allows people to connect and form bonds in ways they wouldn’t be able to normally. It’s an experience unlike any other, and instead of being scorned, it should be encouraged to allow people to dream and be creative with the characters they love.
Why I Love Listening to Movie Scores
And Why You Should, Too
I have many guilty pleasures, but my longest-held is that I am chronically obsessed with listening to movie scores. My previous Spotify Wrappeds have reflected this obsession, and recently, my featured artists were composers John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Bear McCreary, and Rachel Portman. I listen to my Spotify curated movie score mix constantly: when I cook, clean my apartment, walk to class, shower, and do homework. 20-year-old college students are typically more in touch with pop, rap, and country artists. Yet, I find indescribable comfort, nostalgia, and peace when I listen to my cherished mixes, and you should consider adding movie scores to your regular rotation of genres.
I find comfort and nostalgia in listening to movie scores because it feels like I’m rewatching my favorite movies. With movie scores, I can experience the comfort and nostalgia I usually feel when watching my favorite flicks, but I don’t have to dedicate hours and my undivided attention.
Many tracks on movie scores are either character themes or are titled referring to dialogue from its particular scene. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is a perfect example. Almost every track on the five albums from all installments features these types of titled tracks, as opposed to some albums that read “Prologue, Scene 1, 2, etc.” “Jack Sparrow” features Sparrow’s easily recognizable character theme, packed with fast-paced violin, drums, and guitar sequences that perfectly embody the adventurous and spontaneous pirate. “Davy Jones” is the musical theme attached to the main villain in the franchise. It interestingly features a soft piano motif that contrasts with Jones’ evil character, which is then followed by booming organs and wind instruments. Finally, my favorite track, “I Don’t Think Now is the Best Time,” is taken verbatim from Elizabeth Swan’s dialogue in the third movie, At World’s End. Elizabeth and the pirates of the Brethren Court battle with Jones’ sea creature-human hybrid pirates. Elizabeth’s love interest Will Turner suggests they get married amid the chaos, to which Elizabeth ironically responds, “I don’t think now is the best time!” When I listen to these tracks, I can visualize the characters and the particular scenes so clearly that it feels like I’m watching the movie again.
Another benefit of movie scores is that they can alter and influence your mood. When I listen to my movie scores, I play songs that I know will make me feel a sort of way. I sometimes walk a little faster to class if I listen to the score from an intense battle scene, or I find myself more mellow and slow-moving when listening to a soft love theme. When I need to get motivated for an exam or to complete household chores, I go to specific songs, and when I need to cool down and relax, I go to different tracks. The beauty of all music is that it persuades you to feel a certain way—movie scores included. They are the quintessential soundtrack. If you’ve seen a movie, I can promise you an album including its score exists somewhere on Spotify or Apple Music.
So I encourage you, if you have a favorite movie or TV show, to listen to its score the next time you’re doing homework, mindless house chores, or need a nostalgia boost. If you’re drawing a blank and need some suggestions, here are some of my, and the rest of the world’s, most favorite and easily recognizable movie scores and suites: the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (“One Day”), the Harry Potter franchise (“Dumbledore’s Farewell, Battlefield”), Hook (“Prologue”), Pride and Prejudice (“Your Hands Are Cold”), Outlander (“Fallen Through Time”), Titanic (“The Portrait”), Star Wars (“The Imperial March”), UP (“Married Life”), The Lion King (“Under the Stars”), and Forrest Gump (“I’m Forrest… Forrest Gump”).
Debates and Laughs Required: Hardball and SNL Have a Place in the Current Political Climate
The term “fake news” is frequently used within the context of contemporary American politics. With heightened polarization, news programming often has an underlying bias running through an entire network’s shows. Political candidates often publicly denounce stories that portray them in a negative light. As a result, the public blindly follows charismatic figureheads instead of developing their own convictions. Without critical debate and ironic comedy to point out the flaws in the system in an engaging way, the media is on the path to becoming the most dangerous threat to American democracy.
Recently, Chris Matthews, the former host of MSNBC’s Hardball, was invited to speak on campus about his experiences in political communications. Even though his career may have ended, America needs a space for bipartisan debate and analysis. By inviting guests from both sides of the spectrum (sometimes at the same time), Matthews ensured that politicians were held accountable in a format accessible to the public. No one is perfect. Americans should not expect perfection, but they should expect politicians to be held accountable.
In addition to promoting bipartisan discussion, Matthews consistently challenged the politicians that appeared on his show. Lawmakers should not merely appear on television to talk about their successes. People watch certain news networks for affirmation of their preexisting beliefs. Instead, watching the news should allow Americans to question their convictions on crucial issues. Despite Matthews’ blunt approach, he forces individuals to critically assess their political thinking rather than only focusing on the positive.
While traditional discourse is imperative, there are moments when politics becomes overwhelming. In these cases, Americans need a comedic outlet. Saturday Night Live delivers with elaborate cold opens and its own “fake news” segment. The ridiculous and exaggerated nature of the sketches often helps to convey truths without the sophisticated understanding of politics that Hardball required at times.
For some, the comedic approach might easily point out immoral behavior that might not be obvious from formal news communications. With the anxiety and tension surrounding politics in America, the people might need a lighthearted approach. Even those less interested in politics can laugh along with SNL’s political satire. Once again, informal political criticism is accessible to Americans from the comfort of their homes.
No party is spared from bearing the brunt of an SNL joke. For decades, SNL has created presidential impersonations. Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden are certainly not the first to be mocked, nor will they be the last. Laughing about politics is beneficial, but one must be aware of where the truth begins.
Unlike social media, the essential features of sketch comedy help the public understand the nature of the performance. Actors resemble political figures, but no two people are identical. Of course, a comedy show should not replace news programming, but it can help point out the inconsistencies in American politics while keeping frustrated and disinterested audiences aware of current issues.
Americans need brutal honesty during the polarizing political climate. However, not everyone is responsive to the approach that Hardball employs, which creates space for political satire. One approach cannot satisfy the interests and needs of each individual. America needs everyone to stay informed on imperative issues by taking information from multiple sources. One TikTok or Tweet is not gospel.