While I was home on winter break a few months back, I happened across a Netflix documentary called The Pixar Story. My excitement kind of reminded me of the feeling when you find $20 you didn’t know you had- “Oh, this is a happy surprise!” We all have elements of nostalgia from our childhood that permanently imprint on our adult lives; movies, video games, songs, television shows, etc. You get the picture. A large (and probably the biggest) audience of early Pixar films was the millenials, the notorious generation that I proudly happen to be a member of. Technology and media were accelerating at a rapid pace in my childhood, and I’m genuinely grateful that I was able to be a part of that.

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I’m sure there are going to be older generations who criticize us youngsters for this intimate bond we’ve developed with movies, especially animated ones, but I don’t really hold it against them. Baby boomers can go on believing I can’t afford a house due to my unruly consumption of avocado toast, if it makes them feel better.

Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent, so back to The Pixar Story. If you also grew up surrounded by Pixar films, this documentary is a must-see. It definitely had a conversational tone, like I was actually sitting down with the creators of Pixar to discuss their incredible life experiences. The development of Pixar was really everything I assumed it would be- a bunch of shaggy-haired, 1980s college students hanging out together in a cramped office space, spending their days and nights cracking the code of modern animation. You, as the viewer, could really put yourself in their shoes and laugh along with their inside jokes, and emphasize with their mindsets.

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I’d always known that animation was something intricate and sophisticated, but The Pixar Story also opened my eyes to the notion that animation could also be a creative process. Of course, it is very mathematics-heavy, but a good animator also needs to be imaginative and have an abstract mind. John Lasseter and Steve Jobs were truly pioneers of a sublime new art form- the beauty of 3D.

The most beloved childhood Pixar movie that comes to my mind is Monsters Inc. I’ve always been a visionary person, especially as a child with an intense imagination, and Monsters Inc. just really nourished that creative development for me. Rewatching it now feels like getting a big hug from childhood, a hug from warm memories and creativity and genuine happiness. Finding Nemo also left a hefty imprint on me; it’s one of my mom’s favorite movies, so rewatching it automatically reminds me of her. (She’s not dead, I just love things that remind me of her).

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, (more specifically, my movie reviews), you might have read my analysis of the 2008 film WALL-E. The article more or less highlights, in detail, all of the deeper meanings and lessons that Pixar incorporates into their films. Even though the films are primarily aged at children, the storylines and themes translate successfully into adulthood and continue to inspire me.

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I can’t find the exact verbatim quote, but one of the creators of Pixar said something about Pixar that gave me a lot of clarity. It was about transition from traditional Walt Disney animation to the prosperous breakthrough of 3D computer animation, but more specifically, what Pixar offered that 2D Disney films just didn’t. Pixar films are generally much more satirical, “adult”, and critical; they are the manifestations of slapstick humor and genuinely meaningful storylines. They aren’t traditional fairy tales, by any means, and a “happily ever after” doesn’t come without adversity.

I love Pixar because their films have  permanently touched my heart. Their films are a perfect cocktail of of creativity, emotional softness, timeless humor, and complete uniqueness- Pixar really started out as a group of misfits, just trying to paint a little more color into the world. It’s not often a film can cover topics like consumerism, the corruption of major corporations, mental health, environmental pollution, family dynamics,  and still do so in a way that young children can understand. In the words of one of my good friends who also loves Pixar: “They do cover some woke shit.”

Pictures: https://www.vulture.com/2016/06/why-are-the-finding-nemo-movies-such-big-hits.html

https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/6/3/15728220/wall-e-pixar-environmentalist-movie-of-week-paris-accord

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/disney-reveals-title-monsters-sequel-172399

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For my last installment of the “Women Crush Wednesday” series, I wanted to talk about a woman who I think is severely underrepresented in our society. In fact, unless you’ve seen the Netflix crime docuseries, The Keepers, you’ve probably never heard of Jean Hargadon-Wehner before. The main focus and general overview of The Keepers is the murder mystery of Sister Cathy Cesnik in 1969, but on a deeper level, Jean Wehner and the other sexual abuse victims are the true backbone and movement of the show. My words can only skim the surface of how entrancingly The Keepers captures this disturbing recount, so if you haven’t watched the show, I highly recommend you do to better understand Jean’s story. My goal here isn’t to summarize the docuseries; I want to focus instead on my reaction to everything Jean Wehner and the other women endured, and how tragic it is that their justice was never really delivered.

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I’m sure Jean never dreamed that she would touch so many individual people, and serve as such a powerful pioneer in the phenomenon of repressed memories. She inspires us to keep an open mind to mental health, and especially how it can be ridiculed and disregarded by the US Justice System. The plot of The Keepers is extremely complex and can’t really be fully summed up in one article, but I’ll provide a little essential context if you haven’t seen it. From the late 1960s until the early 1970s, a Catholic priest named Joseph Maskell sexually abused between 50-100 high school girls at Archbishop Keough High School. An extremely manipulative excuse for a human being, Maskell especially enjoyed targeting young girls who already had a record of familial abuse and trauma. Maskell wasn’t the only creep involved in this horrific scandal- he essentially ran a sex ring with all the other powerful male figures in Baltimore. Many of Maskell’s victims remained quietly traumatized about the abuse -(and some had forgotten due to the phenomenon of repressed memories)- but everything changed when Jean Wehner came forward in 1992 with a lawsuit against Maskell. Under the protection of the alias “Jane Doe”, Wehner publicly disclosed the horrific abuse she and dozens of other women had faced at the hands of Maskell. After being essentially bullied, ridiculed, and disbelieved by the court due to the amount of time that had passed, Wehner lost her case and was unable to move to trial. Maskell died in 2001 after a gradual fail in health, and since his passing, Jean has still not received justice for her experiences.

Maskell was also a crucial suspect in the murder of Sister Cathy, which many believe may be linked to the sex crimes at Archbishop Keough. According to Wehner, she disclosed the abuse she was enduring to Cathy in 1967. Months later, Cathy was discovered dead in a barren field, apparently because she was going to expose Maskell. Additionally, Jean Wehner has consistently stated that Maskell even took her to see Cathy’s dead body, just to scare her even further into staying silent. As inconceivable as that sounds, I do truly believe Jean’s recount of what happened. In fact, all of the details that Jean gave surrounding Cathy’s death turned out to be scientifically accurate, further proving to me that she is telling the truth.

Additionally, the phenomenon of “repressed memories” has been proven by several psychologists to in fact be a real thing. At the time of Jean’s case in 1992, the research about repressed memories was certainly not as substantial as it was today, and in a nutshell, Jean was accused of just trying to take money from the church through her lawsuit.

As a young woman myself, I absolutely cannot imagine going through years of abuse at the hands of those who were meant to protect me, and then being threatened into silence by the sight of a murdered body. When you think about Jean’s perspective in what she has gone through, it will really make you furious about the justice system in America. To be ridiculed and blamed for something that ISN’T YOUR FAULT, and then made into a public spectacle, it’s simply amazing that Jean has remained so strong and full of poise. Let me say that again in case you missed that:

ABUSE IS NEVER THE FAULT OF THE VICTIM.

She has always stood by her story, no matter how many people laughed in her face and discredited her. Her only support system through the trial was her incredible husband, Mike, and her other contender against Maskell, called “Jane Roe.” Even after Mike’s tragic passing due to esophageal cancer, Jean has still not crumbled or given up. I have so much respect for her, after seeing how much scrutiny she went through under the public eye. People often wonder why victims don’t come forward about their rape, but the reality is, stories like Jean’s are not uncommon. Even in 2019, victims of rape and sexual assault are still scoffed at, humiliated, and disbelieved.

I would love to talk to Jean one day, and thank her for being so brave against the odds. For someone who has gone through so much shit, she still has a positive outlook on her life, and continues to make the best of everything. She’s a fitting choice as my final #womancrushwednesday, and I’m glad to give her the representation she deserves.

Watch The Keepers on Netflix!

Picture source: https://doubleexposurefestival.com/speaker/jean-wehner/

https://www.dailyscene.com/buried-in-baltimore-the-mysterious-murder-of-a-nun-who-knew-too-much/

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For as long as I can remember, Anne of Green Gables has always been one of my favorite novels. I don’t even know where to begin in describing my love for this book; part of it is rooted in the fact that my mother used to read it to me, part of it is the lovable, creative, storyline, and part of it is…something else. Something deeper. I’ve always seen a lot of myself in Anne- she’s sensitive and creative, she’s quickly judged by those around her, yet still unapologetically herself. She’s also a 19th century feminist icon, something I didn’t realize myself until high school. For those reasons, Anne Shirley is today’s #WomanCrushWednesday, and I’m so excited to discuss her evolution from book to screen.

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In short, Anne of Green Gables follows the adolescent years of Anne Shirley, an imaginative redhead who is accidentally adopted by brother-and-sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Though they had intended on adopting a boy to use as a farm hand (the story takes place in the 1860s), Anne’s promising charm convinces the Cuthberts to keep her and raise her. Anne of Green Gables chronicles Anne’s childhood scrapes and adventures in Avonlea, and the subsequent seven books in the Anne series follow her adult/family life. The stories are so detailed and vivid, it’s easy to forget Anne Shirley is a fictional character.

Since its publication in 1908, Anne of Green Gables has been made into oodles of plays, musicals, movie adaptations, and even a recent television show that premiered on Netflix. For this particular article, I’m going to be focusing primarily on the relationship between the novel and the Netflix show, as the latter is the newest and most accessible adaption.

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The biggest difference between the novel and the 2017 television adaption is the overall darker interpretation. While the novel does still touch upon Anne’s tragic past and hardships in poverty, her emotional scars are more or less unwritten. In the Netflix show, which is called Anne with an E, we the viewers are shown graphic scenes of bullying and torture committed on Anne, and allusions to Anne developing PTSD. Anne with an E also takes the theme of feminism and enlarges it, which is something I found to be beautiful and empowering. Some critics argue that Anne with an E changes the plot too much, or “embellishes too much drama”, but I actually love the direction that the show creators decided to go. The story still takes place in rural Canada in the 1860s, but additional psychological/sociological elements are included to make the story more sophisticated. LGBT+ themes are introduced as well, in both a believable and relevant way. There will be homophobes out there who criticize the show for incorporating homosexuality, but I personally think it was a brilliant move. People seem to forget that being gay isn’t a new fad or revelation- it was certainly around in the 19th century, and long before that.

I won’t spoil the plot of Anne with an E, because I really do recommend that all of you watch it, but I will discuss Anne’s character development and personality from book to screen. Like I said, the book takes on a more innocent, plain approach to the psychology of Anne Shirley. Her character development is still there, of course, but it’s more focused on her academic achievement and and womanly growth from a young girl to an independent adult. Her overall character and personality remains the same from book to television, but Anne with an E fabricates fictional situations to create more dramatic effect and detail. One of my particular favorite scenes in Anne with an E is in season 2, episode 8, in which Prissy Andrews prepares to marry the much older Teddy Phillips. If you’ve read the novel, you know that Mr. Phillips was the local Avonlea school teacher who rather inappropriately fell for his pupil, Prissy (back in those days, it was a lot less taboo than it would be today). While the love story of Prissy and Mr. Phillips is never really brought to a conclusion in the book, Anne with an E has other ideas.

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While Prissy walks down the aisle, she panics at the realization that her childhood is now over, she’ll never pursue a further education, and the rest of her life is doomed to be the fate of a secluded housewife. And so, in a rather dramatic and emotional manner, Prissy runs out of her own wedding and into the fields of virgin, untouched snow, with her circle of friends trailing behind her. It’s a really beautiful celebration of feminism, freedom, and youthful pleasure, and I’m so happy that Anne with an E decided to include that particular plot point.

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As described by the creator of the show, Moira Walley-Beckett, Anne Shirley is something of an “accidental feminist”. Even if LM Montgomery (the author of Anne of Green Gables) didn’t originally intend for Anne to blossom this way, I’m sure she’d be pleased with what Anne Shirley has become today. She represents the privations we often neglect to acknowledge in young women: identity, bullying, feminism, mental health, and gender parity. She is a voice for young women of all backgrounds, wrapped up in flowers and beauty, moonlight and grace. She is an inspiration to me, and more than deserving of the title Woman Crush Wednesday.  

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Before I close this article, I wanted to share some photographs of a trip I took to Canada last summer. Being the Anne of Green Gables fanatic I am, I made sure to visit Prince Edward Island, where the story takes place and thus has a huge monopoly on the entire island. My family and I got to see the Anne of Green Gables musical (which was amazing), tour the official Green Gables house, visit the home of LM Montgomery, and even snap some pictures with cast reenactors. If you’ve seen my green copy of Anne of Green Gables appear on the blog before, that’s the copy I purchased while abroad in Canada. It’s one of my favorite treasures I’ve picked up so far, and I almost always have it floating in my school bag somewhere.

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Anywho, that’s all I’ve got today. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article, and if you haven’t read the novel or checked out the Netflix show, do that asap! Per usual, be sure to let me know what your feelings are in the comments below. I love discussing books, and especially this particular novel.

Picture sources: https://www.anneofgreengables.com/

Netflix and CBC Renew ‘Anne With An E’ for Second Season in 2018

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*SPOILERS.* Read at your own risk.

Last week, I produced a four-page psychological analysis of “Dinner Party” from The Office. Today we’re going in a completely different direction and exploring a Netflix mini docu-series titled The Keepers, which came on the scene in mid 2017. I started and finished the entire series in one weekend, clutching my pillow to my chest with the shades drawn tight in broad daylight. I was astonished. I couldn’t stop watching it. And now, more than a year later, I’m still astonished. How is this show not being talked about more? What’s going to happen next? And WHO KILLED SISTER CATHY CESNIK?

Let me backtrack.

The Keepers is a seven-episode American documentary series released onto Netflix, which, as I said, was released about a year and a half ago. It explores the unsolved murder of Baltimore nun Sister Cathy Cesnik in 1969, the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death, the corruption of the Catholic church in America, and oh, just some horrific sex trafficking masterminded by a priest at an all-girls school in 1969. Just, you know, your everyday stuff.

Since then, there have been countless forums, articles, and videos designated to discussing the series. The goal of this article isn’t to spill the entire plot to you and provide an episode-by-episode analysis of everything that happens, but instead just express my own thoughts and feelings about the show. And I can tell you straight away that my feelings are overwhelmingly positive about the entire series.

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One of the biggest components that makes this show so heartbreaking is the fact that Cathy Cesnik was clearly such a wonderful, generous, incredible human being. Every account told of her on the show is overwhelmingly positive and filled with love- especially from her former students at the Catholic all-girl school Archbishop Keough High School. As a beloved English teacher for countless young women, the news of Cathy’s disappearance and subsequent death is a tragedy that has remained with them for more than forty years.

In the years after Cathy’s death, over a hundred women came forward to testify that they had been raped, sexually abused, and molested by Father A. Joseph Maskell- the head priest of Keough at the time of Cathy’s death and disappearance. One woman in particular, known at the time simply as Jane Doe, claimed that Maskell had not only been the mastermind of the sexual abuse ring, but also the organizer of Cathy’s murder. She claims that after disclosing to Cathy the abuse occuring at the school, Maskell silenced her to avoid the story getting out to law enforcement and school officials. Which, apparently it did, because the case wasn’t really thoroughly examined until THIRTY FREAKING YEARS LATER.

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I know that was a lot to take in, but trust me, that’s literally only the tip of the iceberg. Just wait until you get to crazy Billy, the bombastic man who allegedly kept a nun’s uniform in his attic and brooded around his house, madly obsessing over the “woman in the attic”.

Yeah.

The key term here is “alleged.” None of the evidence explained on the show has actually been physically proven, but by the time you hit episode three, you almost don’t even care. I know I sure didn’t- I was just waiting for this pervert Maskell to be thrown in the clink. The entire story is so twisted and yet so, so believable, you’ll be ready to smack the Archdiocese of Baltimore upside the head by the time you finish the show. It really is a prime example of victim-shaming in an age where the church rules the state, men have the ultimate authority over what is right and what is wrong, and the only goal of the court is to silence the victims as quickly and effectively as possible. It’s all very unnerving to watch unfold.

Infuriatingly, Maskell actually died at the age of sixty-two in 2001, which means there isn’t much we can do now to prove his guilt in this case. Despite the lack of physical evidence, however, the amount of letters and and testimonies brought to court against him made me practically burst out in tears for these poor women. It’s hard enough to imagine going through what they suffered in the late sixties and early seventies, but to be discredited by an entire jury and church just because the statute of limitations had passed? That’s, like, a whole new level of madness.

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I believe Jane Doe. I believe every victim who has ever come forward with the accusation that Father Maskell was an evil, disturbing, sinister excuse for a human being. I believe he did have something to do with the unsolved murder of Cathy Cesnik. And I deeply believe you will too, once you tune into the show.

Watch it for yourself on Netflix and be sure to tell me what you think in the comments below!

And watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/Khr7dbuBjuE

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