For an artist to be truly unique, they need to push past the temptation to create for others. This could mean writing a song to please a family member or record label; perhaps a film director doing their best to shock their friends with the craziest content they can put on camera. When art is done for any other reason than to satisfy the artist’s vision, it enters a confused area. Painting is a notable exception: consider portraits painted of the artists’ muses.
But let’s talk about the other side of that equation, the side that isn’t an exception. Many artists, today and in the past, have created solely for themselves. Notable examples include David Lynch and Neil Young, both artists who operate on their own schedules and decide (most of the time) when their art is ready to be released. Coincidentally, their output is often incredible.
There is a penchant for some artists to be more aggressive. When a person believes enough in themselves, why shouldn’t they ask other people to compromise for them? Jack White, who has grown into quite the auteur this year, is touring in support of his new album, and asking fans not to record or even take photos with their phones during shows. In Jack’s mind, a live show should be an intimate experience between artist and audience, not artist to audience’s camera. While I appreciate the noble nature of Jack’s request, it begs the question, is he in the moral right?
Yes, the answer is yes. That was a little test, a minor example of an artist asking more of his/her audience than is expected. Of course Jack can request for his audience to remove their phones before the show. A (much) less minor example is Johnny Depp, famed and recently disgraced actor who was accused (and in the court of public opinion, found guilty) of physically abusing his then wife, Amber Heard. Depp continues to act, and while his recent performances have been less than stellar, he has a back catalog not unlike that of Tom Cruise. In the late 90s and early 2000s, it was hit after hit. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Pirates of The Caribbean, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, all great films that rely heavily on the actor’s talents, but now must be reevaluated in light of Depp’s revealed character.
This is not the first time the world has been forced to examine an artist’s work after a grisly revelation, but it is one of the few cases (along with Woody Allen) where the actor’s extreme fame paints over some of the hatred. So, if there is any confusion, here is how to deal with these situations: The artist’s past work is still good, and should not be thrown out or destroyed. However, the artist should no longer be able to enjoy the same fame and reverence as in their heyday. In short, stop casting Johnny Depp and stop giving Woody Allen movie deals if you (movie execs) really think they are guilty. By appearing in or making more films, Depp and Allen ask us to move on, to accept them warts and all on the merit of their artistic talent. This is not a compromise you should accept.
Somewhere in between the Jack White’s and Johnny Depp’s falls another group of abrasive artist. Musicians like Mark Kozelek or Jeff Tweedy (Kozelek being the more abrasive) can be hard to defend, especially when one of them releases a song called “The War on Drugs: Suck My Cock”.
While Jeff Tweedy represents the lighter side of this breed of artist, his combative tendencies mostly taking the form of responding to hecklers, singers like Mark Kozelek represent a much trickier case. Listen to any of Kozelek’s material recorded in the last five years, either as Sun Kil Moon or under his own name, and you’ll hear a profound sadness. Kozelek’s work can be challenging, and that coupled with his mean spirited nature at live shows make him a difficult artist.
Not unlike Quentin Tarantino, whose films have done more for cinema than most other directors, Mark Kozelek is a brilliant songwriter whose genius is constantly threatened by his antagonistic antics. Yet, this is part of what makes each of these artists unique. Tarantino can be awkward and rude, Kozelek can be gruff and even a jerk, but I would never ask either of them to change. These traits are part of what make them interesting.
While I would never advise someone to be abrasive on purpose, it is important to take an artist for who they are. Someone like Johnny Depp, a naturally talented actor who is also an abuser, must be taken for all of his qualities. In his case, that should mean Depp’s career doesn’t go much further. There is a middle ground, though, where artists like Mark Kozelek, Quentin Tarantino, and Jack White can thrive despite their inherently intrusive qualities. This doesn’t mean their careers should be halted or cancelled indefinitely; it simply means that if you are willing to be a fan, you have to learn to take the good with the bad. That is, unless they are a rapist or something. Then you should not do that.
Heart2Art Project Contributor
The fact of censorship is this:
a body is a body, no matter what pixels or black boxes you place over it.
For centuries, women have felt the pressure to be conservative in body exposure in fear of being viewed as unladylike or inappropriate, particularly when it pertains to their breasts. However, breasts are not "inappropriate". Although women's breasts have been sexualized, the reality is that they are just anatomical parts of the human body. Breasts are not a reproductive organ. They are on a woman’s body as a means of breastfeeding their potential children, which is something that should be celebrated and respected, not shunned and censored.
In the younger generation, a movement widely known as “free the nipple” has picked up in a larger audience. This movement originally began in the 1960s along with the beat movement, anti-war movement, and the hippie era. “Free the nipple” has been something of interest for women since the ‘60s, and it is a movement that I personally hope catches on to spread the message of acceptance of a woman’s body all around the world.
While the debate rages on regarding the appropriateness of baring the female breasts, even going braless under a shirt is consider lewd by many. Although bras provide the practical purpose of providing upright support to a woman’s breasts, many women prefer not to wear bras for various reasons. If a woman with smaller breasts do not need the support or finds wearing bras uncomfortable, she should be given the freedom and feel the acceptance if she chooses not to wear a bra.
Nipples are not something to be shunned or censored. The only biological differences between a man and woman’s breasts are potentially the size and the ability to breastfeed. We’re progressing in a direction in which women can feel more accepted in their wardrobe decisions; however, when large social media platforms such as Instagram remove or report photos that reveal a woman’s breasts or nipples, we are only moving backwards. According to Instagram’s community guidelines for users, Instagram encourages “a safe and open environment for everyone” ; however, “[they] do not allow nudity on Instagram for a variety of reasons . . . [which] also includes some photos of female nipples”. How are we meant to fully express ourselves as women if we aren’t truly given a platform for “a safe and open environment for everyone”? It’s not possible if such online censorship exists.
While many parents may decide to keep their children away from these types of images, what they need to understand is that they are shielding their children because they sexualize the female breasts. The exposed female breasts should be viewed no differently from the male breasts. In fact, the female breasts' breastfeeding purpose should be celebrated and respected. If breasts were just treated realistically as a part of the human body, women would feel more respected and inclined to express themselves. We should be given the freedom to post photos of our bodies if necessary or desired.
The censorship of a woman’s body is not aligned with maintaining respect for the woman.
The censorship of a woman’s body will not make it go away.
The censorship of a woman’s body will not demoralize the woman it disrespects.
The censorship of a woman’s body is unjust.
VP of Events + VP of Journalism and Publications
Our society has made major steps towards gender equality within the past few decades, from the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the 1840s to the US prohibiting sex-based wage discrimination in 2009. However, with Greta Gerwig recently becoming the fifth woman in history to be nominated by the Academy Awards for Best Director, further attention has been brought to the issue of inequality within the film industry.
While the rights of men and women may appear entirely equal on paper, the playing field remains alarmingly unlevel, as our nation’s long history with societal expectations and patriarchal systems has left a lack of opportunity for talented and deserving female creators in the modern day. Women continue to be tremendously underrepresented on screen, with an average of 2.3 male characters for every female in a given film, with this number remaining practically static throughout the past decade. Even more disturbing may be how women are represented in film, with significant controversy surrounding the issue being sparked following Jessica Chastain’s closing statements at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, as a vast majority of films represent women from what is known as the “male gaze”, or how men see the world and its inhabitants. As women make up only about 18% of directing, writing, producing, editing, and cinematography jobs within the film industry, an alarming lack of female representation behind the camera has led to an abundance of films and television shows being released that depict women as merely accessories to a male lead or characters whose actions are solely reactions to those of the men around them. As both girls and women around the globe often look towards the big-screen for empowerment, inspiration, or a role model, a more accurate depiction of females within films and television must be prioritized if a better example is to be set for the other half of the population.
There is no doubt that women are just as capable as men are when it comes to working in the film industry, and an increase of women behind the camera would surely produce a larger number of films told from the female perspective and provide more chances for females in the industry to make their mark. However, a number of factors have left a lack of opportunity for female filmmakers to become successful and have made well-known female filmmakers so rare, and deeply rooted sexism and stereotypes in the industry has proved great resistance for those looking to make their way in Hollywood. While it would be expected that women would be able to find their own way into Hollywood thanks to hard work and talent, this is not the reality females in film face. In response to the inequality presented in the film industry, a number of initiatives have sprouted to provide more opportunities to deserving female directors, screenwriters, and more, and the hope of these programs is to increase female influence within the industry to begin a cycle of diversity. Greater diversity within the industry would lead to the representation of more groups on screen, but females both on and off screen must first break down a long-time barrier that has left women underrepresented for decades. As the film industry must adjust to societal shifts concerning female representation in order to progress on a social level and address the needs of a wider audience, we must start to ask ourselves what more we could be doing to break down the barrier that is preventing a change. Greta Gerwig, an award winning actress, writer, and director, is an outstanding example of what women are capable of in the industry, and, if we are to see more talented women just like Gerwig getting the credit and opportunities that they deserve, the issue of inequality both on and behind the screen must be recognized and a greater effort must be put towards expanding the reach of opportunities to those who are well-deserving but ultimately ignored.
Founder and President of H2A
In this installment of the Taco Bout It series, Karly Low talks to and interviews our guest Lucas Nyhus, a high school senior living in Huntington Beach, California, over a hot meal from Wahoo's Fish Tacos. The two discuss the making of Lucas' band Those Pretty Boys, his passion for screenwriting, issues within our environment, and much more.
Grace Larey directed the music video for Faith Longo's song "Backwards" in preparation for the HB Academy of the Performing Arts' MMET Playlist 2018 show.
Every year, HB Academy of the Performing Arts' MMET program holds their famed Playlist show, which features student musicians and singers performing some of the most popular songs of the year and some original songs as well, working in collaboration with the MMET Media students who specialize in film and live TV Production. Both MMET Popular Music and MMET Media majors are able to combine their talents during this time as the annual shows provide the opportunity for music videos to be made for the original songs, all created and produced by the students.
Faith Longo, a senior in the MMET program, recently had her original song "Backwards" produced, getting it featured in the Playlist 2018 show along with an original music video directed by Grace Larey, a junior in MMET. I interviewed Faith about the creation of her song, the production of her music video, and her experience as a musician and writer.
Faith Longo: Vocalist and Guitarist
Caitlyn: How did your song “Backwards” evolve since its first chords to its final edit?
Faith: Like pretty much every song I write, “Backwards” was created because of a major event in my life. I always start with a feeling, and then try to emphasize it with the chords I use. Plus, I’ve always really loved poetry, so the lyrics for “Backwards” came mostly out of a small poem I wrote a few days prior. Unlike most of my songs, I tried to first create it on piano, which I think is why it took me over 5 months to really finalize it; it never really felt right. Around November I finally went back to it and tried again on guitar instead, and that’s when I really had that “yes!!! This feels right!!!” moment. I met up with Atreyu I think the very next day; he suggested the strumming pattern and helped add bass, which made the song sound a lot fuller. Honestly though, my favorite part of the whole process was probably making harmonies. I’m not the strongest instrumentally, so adding those harmonies was like adding my own little flare. After all that, Simmons got to mixing and added more electric guitar, drums, and percussion which helped make my song really come together. Everytime he sent me a new mix it was like opening up a Christmas gift. Not only that, but Simmons incorporated the super groovy reverb effects to give my song a ‘backwards’ effect (HAAaaaa). I’m so so grateful for Simmons, I don’t think my song would’ve had nearly as much impact if it wasn’t for all that he did.
C: Who was involved in the creation of your song?
F: Atreyu is usually the first person I go to to get critique on what I’m writing. He’s my best friend and so incredibly talented so I know I can always trust him. I had my good friend, Denise, record vocals on the song too since her voice blends so well with mine. Simmons did the most with my song though. He helped bring out and emphasize every feeling, and it was super cool collaborating and using the ideas that he had along the way.
C: What was your experience filming your music video like? What is it like to watch film and your song merge together?
F: Filming my music video was so cool! I loved collaborating with Grace, Drake, and Chase on new ideas. Not gonna lie, I have a low tolerance for cold already, so some scenes were pretty hard to shoot. I’d have to sing and try my best to seem calm and warm despite my teeth begging to chatter. But it was all so worth it once I saw the final product. It was incredible seeing everything come together so perfectly. I felt like the video really complimented the tone of the song, and it was able to visualize the message in a new way it would have never been able to just on its own. They even put in little details to highlight some of the lyrics! Overall, they all did such a great job on the video, and I feel like it fits so well with the song. I also really appreciate Drake for having the courage to get into freezing cold water with me, he’s a true homie.
On March 19, 2005, my father killed himself. Thirteen years later, my family still cannot hear the word "suicide" without a cringing pain in their hearts. My mum told me she will never ride the Haunted Mansion because of the prop of a noose.
To this day, his suicide haunts not only his side of the family, or my mum's side, but to anyone who knew him. Suicide is never the answer.
It sounds fake to say, but it spreads like a wildfire of pain. I am not just some sad person saying it either: I struggle with very serious depression too. My older brother has a son, and, to see my step-father play with him, brings tears to my eyes because, if my dad was watching over him, he would now give anything to play and smile with him.
Recently, people have been taking suicide as a joke, a relatable "meme," but who has to suffer with the suicide of a close or loved one to know that it is not something to take lightly? Suicide is the last thing you crave when you are too mentally depressed and empty.
My freshmen year, I tried to take my own life. The first thought was, "My mum can't find another dead body," and then, "Why would I go through with this when I know how it will affect everyone?" I know for a fact that there are people around you who care about you, whether you know it or not.
After that, I had gone to my Mum to try and get help, saying that I was depressed, and she brushed it off saying it was "teen emotions." Finally, there came a time when I had to scream to her face, explaining and yelling out all of my emotions to finally get help.
I now have to take medicine to help me to never get that way again, and meet with a therapist to help. It takes some different tries to get it right, but it will help.
I want to come and try to explain how badly suicide is. And it is not a joke. I feel nothing but true sadness when I hear it thrown around so easily among teens, and I remember that I have my dad's ashes and it's not something to try and act relatable with. Saying you want to die or kill yourself is a serious accusation.
Huntington Beach, California
The recently released film, “Love, Simon”, starring Nick Robinson, highlights a teenage boy’s story of coming out as gay to the world and his journey towards accepting himself for who he truly is. In the film, Simon communicates with another boy in his grade that is a closeted gay, and they move through the beautiful journey of coming out together. The film does a fantastic job at exploring the relatable experience of a teenage boy's coming out story without making it feel like a classic cliche "gay" film that has been worn out by Hollywood. This film did not tell the story of a boy who faced rejection by the outside world for his sexuality, but rather told a genuine story of friendship, love, and self-acceptance. There are far too little mainstream Hollywood films that depict gay teenagers as normal kids, so that is exactly what this film sought after. After watching this film, I can truly say that I feel inspired. The story and hardships that come with Simon’s story of coming out is so heartwarming and heartfelt. I highly recommend this film for anyone who may be experiencing similar hardships with their sexuality, or anyone who has trouble coming out to world for the person that they are.
This movie helps to open the minds of so many people, as Simon’s story of being gay reveals all aspects of difficulty and fear that comes with finding yourself and understanding your sexuality or genuine self. Heart2Art hopes to appeal to all readers towards understanding that one’s sexuality does not determine “who you are”, but really just contributes to how wonderful you are as a whole human being. The world is growing to be more accepting, and, with such a wide spectrum of sexuality, the idea that each sexuality and variety of person is beautiful and meant to be embraced is beginning to be further understood by more individuals. Everyone is loved and everyone is wonderful. Love is love. I recommend seeing this wonderful masterpiece of a film and to open each of your minds and hearts to both the wide array of people in the world and to who you genuinely are as an individual.
No matter your sexuality, teens are notable for their struggle to understand and accept themselves. While "Love, Simon" focuses specifically on the difficulties teens may face when coming out as gay to the world and learning to accept themselves, even if it may not be the person they have always thought of themselves to be, the film as a whole sends the important message to the youth watching that you can never truly be content with yourself until you learn to love yourself for who you are naturally. In the film, Simon notes that one of the reasons that it became so hard for him to come out is that he felt compelled to hold onto the person that he had always been for just a bit longer. Simon's fear that he would be treated as a different person or that he would feel like a different person drove him to the point where accepting himself became synonymous with accepting an entirely new person as his identity in his mind. This film is an essential step is teaching teenagers that, even if who you "truly are" is not what you have always pictured yourself as, it has always been a part of you. By coming to terms with yourself, you are not changing who you have always been. You are only embracing it.
VP of Events
VP of Journalism and Publication
Holly Olmos directed the music video for Olivia Castagna's song "Things Don't, They Just" in preparation for the HB Academy of the Performing Arts' MMET Playlist 2018 show.
The art of the music video is one that is intriguingly unique. Music videos are able to combine the magic of song and film into one piece of artwork, with an innumerable amount these videos being created and shared throughout the past many decades. While the platform is undeniably popular, creating a cocktail of two art forms can take a lot of work, effort, and creativity.
That's why we decided to take a look into the production of high school students Holly Olmos and Olivia Castagna's music video "Things Don't, They Just." Olivia Castagna, a high school senior who specializes in vocals and guitar, wrote the song over a period of time and the final song was admitted to be performed in HB Academy of the Performing Arts' MMET Playlist 2018 show, which features a number of talented students performing both originals and the most popular songs of the year. The MMET Popular Music branch, which Olivia is a member of, collaborates with the MMET Media branch each year to create music videos for the admitted original songs in the show, which inspired the creation of Olivia and Holly's music video. Holly Olmos is also a senior in high school, who is a member of MMET Media, who specializes in filmmaking. Holly and Olivia had previously worked on a music video for Playlist 2017, and continued their partnership for the most recent show.
In interviewing the two of them, I was able to take a deeper look into what it took to create the music video for "Things Don't, They Just" and find out more about each individual growing artist.
The Heart2Art Project's president Caitlyn Phu talked to Alana Johnson, a 15 year old musician, about her experience as a creator, the artists that inspire her, the role of women in music, and more. Here's what she had to say:
Caitlyn Phu: What is your passion and when did it begin? How did it develop and grow throughout your life?
Alana Johnson: I wouldn’t define my passion as anything except creating. I create music, films, stories, screenplays, concepts, movement, and paintings. Even though I feel like all of these art forms are calling out to me, music screams the loudest. When I was four years old, I received my first songbook, and I would say that’s when my creativity truly began. I asked my dad how many songs an album typically had, and he told me around 14-17. I worked on and then completed 20 over the next four months and told my dad when I finished. Shocked, he asked to hear them all.
I can still remember them and how shit they were, but, since then, it has only grown and changed. Eighth grade was the year I decided I wanted to be a musician. The year before was extremely rough and nothing I did interested me. I wasn’t enjoying anything, so I began to just practice guitar in my bedroom all day after school, and that gave me purpose. My guitar pushed me to do better, it motivated me, it comforted me. Writing music is like my therapy, and I find comfort in the fact that no matter what happens to me, I can lean back on my guitar.
CP: What aspect of music interests you the most and why? Why is it important to you?
AJ: I think that music is so important to me because it connects me to a higher power. I don’t know why we are here, but who or whatever put us here gifted us with this sound that makes us feel emotions whether it be pleasure or sadness or fear. Take the time to think about what music really is: just a connection of sounds that your brain associated with happiness or nostalgia, really. It’s incredible.
I think, for me, my passion has a lot to do with performing. When I used to do theatre and dance, it wasn’t really the activities I enjoyed, just the energy of the performance. The first time I performed music, my guitar teacher was doing a showcase where all his students got to play two songs in a bar. He was always impressed with my originals and asked me to play one for the showcase. Playing my music in front of other people for the first time was terrifying, but was the happiest I've ever been. I’ll never stop chasing that feeling.
Throughout my life, I have seen the toll that depression takes on people I love. It was hard to understand and connect to how these people were feeling, as I could never put myself in their situation. I could never see how it didn’t matter if they were surrounded by love and everything that could make them happy. I could not see how it could hit a person at any time and ruin every thought and movement for the rest of the day or week or even month.
A close friend of mine went through the worst year of his life during his junior year. When I finally talked to him about it, he told me it would probably happen to me at some point in high school, but I highly doubted him. I had always been sincerely happy throughout my life. Of course, I have been occasionally sad about the usual stuff--friend and family drama, boys, and other small things that affected my life--but nothing like what he described to me, nothing that could make me feel hopeless, nothing that could ever make me want to end my life.