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A Brand of His Own

April 2, 2024

Lately, I have found myself playing Chris Renzema’s new release, “Narrow Road” on repeat. Something about his raw, honest lyrics has captured my attention since the day his music started filling my Spotify queue on March 13, 2020 – ironically the day of the COVID shutdown. In a world where secular artists are feeding depression and anxiety with their cynical lyrics, and Gen Z believers are growing tired of the shallow answers offered by some CCM artists, Chris Renzema somehow manages to balance faith with real human experiences. So, I wasn’t surprised to see that he made it to my top 5 on Spotify Wrapped for the fourth year in a row this past December.

Speaking of Spotify, Christ Renzema is just one example of an artist who has paved his way forward with the help of Spotify. Though now signed to Centricity Music, Renzema’s songs spoke for themselves in the early days of his self-produced albums. A Native Michigander, Renzema began discovering his passion for Christ-centered music by leading his youth worship band. Songwriting naturally flowed out of his faith and feelings, and shortly after high school graduation, he released his first EP “Age to Age” in 2014. A year later, he left music school at Taylor University and moved to Nashville. Amidst countless ambitious artists in the Music City, Renzema’s imprint might have seemed minor, and for a couple of years, it was. But he remained faithful to his craft, and through the platform Spotify provided, his 2018 album “I’ll Be the Branches” attracted the attention of Centricity Music (the same label that produces Lauren Daigle and Andrew Peterson). In 2020, he was nominated to be one of the contenders for GMA Dove Awards’ “New Artist of the Year.” Today, he boasts 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify and is featured on countless playlists, including Top Christian Contemporary, Top Christian and Gospel, and Most Favored.

Renzema’s rise to fame is unique to this era of Christian music. Historically, CCM artists gained popularity through the prominent churches or revival movements of their time. Love Song originated from Calvary Chapel’s Marantha! Music and the Jesus People Movement of the ‘70s. Across the pond, Matt Redman co-founded the Soul Survivor Movement and led worship at the ensuing church with his original songs in the ‘90s. Australian church Hillsong greatly defined and established the CCM genre in the 21st century. Cody Carnes, Kari Jobe, Brian and Jenn Johnson, Brandon Lake, Brooke Fraser, Chris Brown, Tiffany Hudson, Chris McClarney, Abbie Gamboa, you name it… all rooted in one famous megachurch or another. But Chris Renzema is his own brand.

Perhaps that is what causes him to be so characteristically authentic and down-to-earth. His songs are reminiscent of the early days of contemporary Christian music, when the musical accompaniments were simple and acoustic, the focus was on Jesus, and Scripture was forefront of the lyrics. The message and style were relevant in the ‘70s, and it remains relevant today as Gen Z is seeking something real in a digital, filtered, hurried world. The earthy, homegrown vibes of his music reflect the restoration of folk music among Gen Z. He’s even been described by one Spotify user playlist as the “Noah Kahan for Christ-followers.” But beyond the timeliness of his genre, Renzema unabashedly asks the questions other young believers have certainly wondered: “Is it true there’s no room for an anxious heart?” Wrestling with the feeling that “when [he] look[s] at [his] phone, it’s like walking through the valley of death,” he declares in response that Jesus is “the prince of peace.” He’s tackled hot topics like anxiety, deconstruction, and the everyday struggle of growing up. Songs like “Narrow Road,” “Caught in the Reeds,” and “Jacob” bridge the gap between the teachings of Scripture and the lived experiences of today’s young adults.

When I listen to his music, I’m reminded of the character of Jesus – the One who “always took the time to be with the lowest and the last in the line, no matter what they were like.” Needless to say, I’m looking forward to Chris Renzema’s return to Liberty. He has stopped here a few times throughout the years, headlining The Gray Havens and then performing a couple of his own shows. This spring, he’s taking on the big stage!

Join us on April 5th at 8 pm in the Vines Center as Chris Renzema encourages and challenges us with the songs of his newest album “Manna” and with some old favorites, too. Citizens will be headlining the night, and tickets start at $10 for students.

References:

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/chris-renzema-mn0003680224#biography

https://www.westmichiganchristian.com/local/1084-singer-songwriter-reflects-on-music-and-his-west-michigan-roots.html

https://www.klove.com/music/blog/music-news/51st-gma-dove-awards-meet-2020-s-new-artist-of-the-year-contenders-996

Lovin’ on Jesus: A Concise History of Contemporary Worship by Swee Hong Lim and Lester Ruth

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/matt-redman-mn0000321944#biography

https://open.spotify.com/

“No Room for an Anxious Heart” by Chris Renzema

“A Four Chord Protest” by Chris Renzema

 

Written by Moriah Joseph

Moriah is a sophomore studying Music & Worship and TESL. She is passionate about the power of words and music in communicating the Gospel and hopes to one day use both in the mission field in Latin America. When she’s not busy in the practice rooms and library or working an SA event, she loves improvising on the piano, serving at her church, and spending intentional time with friends and family. She has always loved writing and is so grateful to be a part of the Student Activities blog team!

There’s More to Animation than Disney

March 8, 2024

I was walking to class yesterday when I overheard an interesting conversation between two guys in the hallway.

Let me preface this by saying that when you work at Student Activities, the word “Coffeehouse” doesn’t just ring a bell. It rings all the bells. Whether you’ve been painting the decorations that are carefully mapped out to be placed throughout the Vines Center, or you’ve been developing the graphics and video content that contributes to the digital aspects of the show, I think it is safe to say that “Coffeehouse” is a bit of a buzz word for the Student Activities staff. So, while I wasn’t intent on eavesdropping, I did do a double-take when I overheard the following:

“Are you going to the Coffeehouse Disney thing?”

…Interesting.

Let me first acknowledge the insane grip Disney has on the animation industry. I could never deny it, even if I wanted to. The material Disney has produced, be it with Pixar or Walt Disney Animation Studios proper, is I’m sure what we all grew up on. Naturally, when we hear about a show that is themed around that specific medium of storytelling, we gravitate toward an understanding that Disney will be the most heavily represented.

But that grip is loosening. For whatever reason, Disney has had much less of a monopoly on Animated filmmaking since the transition to 3D animation became popularized. And since then, we’ve seen the rise of the Minions, How to Train Your Dragon, and everyone’s favorite meme sensation, Shrek. There’s also the long-standing history of international animation, including Studio Ghibli. (Although technically, Disney did have the American rights to the Studio Ghibli brand for a bit- and is still the distributor for home copies of the studio’s films.)

Can you imagine a world where the only animated movies that exist would be the Disney ones? Does the question “Ya like jazz?” mean nothing to you?

I don’t want to miscommunicate that it’s wrong to be an avid Disney fan. Feel free to do that- we love Disney around here. But don’t limit yourself to consuming just what Disney owns and has made. There is so much more out there.

Think of animation as an art form. (Because it is.) As a patron of the arts, you can’t limit yourself to just one artist. After a while, you’ll begin to see your artist’s work as the standard, and anything different will never measure up, not because it’s worse, but because it’s different. And just like anything else in life, eliminating new experiences and being uncomfortable with the unknown will only limit yourself from personal growth. That’s because animated films are powerful, just like their live-action counterparts, in how they change our minds and challenge our perspectives.

All that to say, Disney may be the leading brand for animation, but that doesn’t mean Coffeehouse: Animated is synonymous with Coffeehouse: Where Dreams Come True. (How’s that for a blast from the past?) There are so many other studios, artists, stories, soundtracks, and iconic characters that have nothing to do with the House of Mouse- so get excited to sit back and enjoy a show dedicated to all the animated media you consumed as a kid- and not just the films that could be played on the Disney Channel.

Coffeehouse: Animated takes to the Vines Center stage on March 23rd. That’s just around the corner, so grab those last-minute tickets here!

 

Luke is a sophomore studying Digital Media: Video Production. He is a Videographer with Student Activities, and has a passion for Nintendo franchises, movie soundtracks, and the digital arts.

Rooting for the Villain

February 16, 2024

Of course, we all love a superhero success story! But if we’re being honest, we’ve caught ourselves rooting for the villain at least once… or felt a little bad for them.

 

We’ve seen it in countless movies including Joker, Maleficent, Cruella, and even Sandman in Spider-Man 3.

 

What do these movies all have in common? They humanize the villain. They show a storyline where you can’t help but empathize with them and their rough upbringings. The moments that highlight the trauma they’ve endured. It’s when you see the look on their face after being betrayed by their best friend. When you see them vulnerable and just broken inside. And you say… “ohhh, so that’s why they act like that”.

 

President Snow is no exception in the new Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, which takes a deeper look into President Snow’s life filled with a series of unfortunate events.

 

In the previous four Hunger Games movies, President Snow rules the dystopian society through fear, lies, and force. Snow has complete authority over the Capitol as a ruthless, cold-hearted, and selfish leader. While these traits remain true, new descriptions can be added to Snow’s character in The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes; words like caring, loving, and thoughtful. Imagine that!

 

In the New Hunger Games, you can see a different side of President Snow. You see a human that viewers can empathize with. Not an old and bitter ruler with spiky eyebrows, but a young man who is navigating his life. Without giving too much away, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes will unlock new personality traits for Snow that you wouldn’t expect. Dare I say you might even feel bad for him at times?

 

With that being said, you can form your own opinion about President Snow on February 16th! Come out to watch the Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes at 8:00 p.m. in the Vines Center!

 

 

Written by Madi Lewis

I’m a junior studying Strategic communications with a focus in Social Media Management. I love spending time with my family and friends. The summertime, fashion, traveling and capturing moments on camera. Writing has always been a creative hobby of mine and I’m excited to be a part of the Student Activities blog team!

Why Christians love batman.

January 26, 2024

This is why we can’t have nice things.

In the late 80’s Warner Bros. announced that Batman was going to be played by Michael Keaton, a comedian. Upon hearing this, fans went nuts. Calling the decision insane. Fast forward to 2006, and it’s announced that the famously kind aussie, Heath Ledger is going to play the Joker. Once the story broke, fans exclaimed that he was a terrible fit for the role. In 2013 Zach Snyder cast Ben Affleck and the internet freaked out, and in 2019 Matt Reeves announced Robert Pattinson, and well you get the point.

But here we are… in 2024, and over the last 35 years the character of Batman has appeared on screen (live-action) about 12 different times.. And with each director giving his take on the caped crusader you tend to get some good mixed with some bad. For instance, Jack Nicholson is a terrifyingly great Joker but, Tim Burton is a pretty lousy director. Bane is a fearsome and compelling villain, but the plot of The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t make a ton of sense. Robert Pattinson plays a very moody and conflicted Batman, but I had to hear that Nirvana song about 91 times that year. It’s a give and take.

Despite the pressure of creating a new Batman, the character seems to attract the best story tellers in the world. The part that I find most odd, is that for someone like me, who grew up in church, read the Bible, went to youth group, yada yada yada, I found myself unable to put down Batman stories. But why? Why not Superman, Spider-Man, or Captain America? Why is it more interesting to read about The Dark Knight, than it is to read about the boy scout? More importantly (and here’s the title of the blog), why do Christians like Batman?

There is a scene in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises where Bruce Wayne attends a charity event, and after being asked “who are you pretending to be” his response is “Bruce Wayne, eccentric billionaire”. Now this is a fun line, but something else pops out here. He is the only person in the room not in a mask. Bruce Wayne is the mask. In fact, in nearly every iteration of Batman, the writers always address the idea that he is no longer the eccentric billionaire. Bruce is a façade.

I think there is a connection between the dichotomy of Batman and the calling amongst Christians to be in the world, but not of it. To deny oneself and be born again in Christ. I personally have never been swept away by the stories of the perfect hero, or the soldier who can do this all day. I’m more interested in the hero who’s entire conflict stems from the need to be his true self, while also being what the world needs. As Christians we adopt a higher meaning. One that is greater than simply being good, kind, or helpful. We adopt a calling to live Christlike and preach the gospel to all creation. We do not operate in our own sense of morality, but do so according to the framework of our Creator.

Batman cannot return to being solely Bruce Wayne, any more than I can return to a life outside of my relationship with Christ.  The lifestyle and temptation will always be there, but no one can take us out of the Father’s hand.

In my very most humble opinion, this is why Christians like Batman. At least it’s one of the reasons why I do. If you are lover of all things batman, we are hosting a Batman Movie Marathon on January 26th and 27th in the Vines Center at 7PM. On Friday we are showing Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, (what 50% of fans consider the best Batman movie ever made), followed by 2022’s The Batman (best car chase of the last decade IMO). On Saturday we are showing Batman: Under the Red Hood (Lately Tik Tok has been showing this movie some love) and The Dark Knight (what the other 50% consider the best Batman movie ever made).

Most importantly, what is it called when Batman doesn’t go to church?

Christian Bale.

 

Written by Cort Comfort, Director of Student Activities.

Let It Snow

December 1, 2023

Being snowed in for Christmas – it’s not just the plot of the newest Hallmark romcom or an unfortunate side effect of living in the Northeast, but the accidental and irreversible slowing down of the holiday season.

After all, there are decorations to hang. Presents to be bought, wrapped, packed. Flights to catch. Food to be made. Family to catch up with. Movies to watch. And don’t forget to volunteer your time, you should be giving back to the community! While we’re told this is the “most wonderful time of the year,” it can often feel like it’s the most stressful, instead. From November to January, there is more to do than in any other season. And most of our anxiety and hustle is glossed over with glitter and wrapped in ribbon, smiles on our faces saying “I’m doing good! Just busy.”

Then, a storm blows in.

Suddenly, there is no more rush. No chance to do last-minute shopping, let alone get out on the roads. The perfect itinerary is out the window. Snow is piled up into doorframes, icicles cling to the tree branches, the world is white, and Christmas is ruined.

Or is it? Let’s back up.

How is it possible that the holiday season got so busy in the first place? If we were to ask Charlie Brown, he’d say “Everything’s gone commercial.” And I’d have to agree. Often, what keeps us busy is the expectation of spending: from family and friends to home décor and the office white elephant party.

As the holiday momentum picked up in America in the early 1800s, marketers began to catch on to the potential of Christmas to sell goods [1]. “In the early-to-mid 1900s, mass advertising campaigns full of holiday tunes and colorful decorations filled the radio airways and storefronts” [1]. And this fanfare has built upon itself year after year. In 2021, holiday spending climbed to an astronomical $886.7 billion [1]! I’ll be the first to admit that I represent an embarrassing percentage of that number. No one is immune to a little bit of commercialism.

However, as the holiday has become more about the dollar amount, we often can’t resist the rush of ads and sales, becoming swept up in consumerism. We get busier and busier, and Christmas detaches further from its purpose in favor of cash.

Being “snowed in” brings a halt to all of this.

With no more money to be spent, places to go, or décor to perfect, the Christmas season is stripped down to its roots: gathering together with loved ones, sharing in good company, and the joy of Christ’s birth. I think if we were to be locked in our homes for the season, it would serve as a “chilling” wake-up call as to where our priorities truly lie. So, let’s look at three ways we can reorient ourselves this Christmas: gratitude, reflection, and rest.

Consider for a moment: How wonderful is it that so many of us can celebrate Christmas with food, gifts, and loved ones? That we’re given the privilege to pursue our education and finish another semester? That Christ was born to die for our sins? This is the heart of gratitude. When the noise of consumerism and busyness is cut from our lives, we’re given the opportunity to be thankful for both the mundane and the fantastic in our lives. We have a heavenly provision! We’re saved by grace! Who really cares if we don’t find the perfect present?

Reflection, then, gives us the opportunity to look back on the year with fresh eyes. What did we accomplish? What were we proud of? What could we have improved on? How have we grown? Each new year is a chance to improve ourselves, reset our priorities, and establish new resolutions (even if we’ll ditch them by January 2nd). Plowing through November-January without taking time to evaluate ourselves does February us a disservice!

Finally, there’s rest. Contrary to popular belief, busyness is not the same as giving of yourself. It’s easy to think that the more we do for another person, the more we must love them, or if our days aren’t packed full, we’re not trying hard enough.  But the truth is that giving is about intentionality, it’s not measured in hours or dollars spent. And you can’t be intentional without first taking time to rest.

Rest may look like spending time with close family and friends or recharging your social battery in your own company. However you choose to rest, it should result in a newfound stillness, allowing you to reflect on and feel gratitude for the blessings in your life. Only then can we be intentional with those closest to us, give to them graciously, and rediscover the true meaning of Christmas.

(Hint: Jesus is the reason for the season. It’s true.)

So, this holiday, I encourage you to consider this: maybe being “snowed in” isn’t about what’s happening outside, but what could happen inside, instead. And if you’re looking for a chance to join in rest and reflection with the rest of the student body, don’t forget to grab a ticket and join us inside the Vines Center on Saturday night at 11:30 p.m. for Christmas Coffeehouse: Snowed In!

[1] https://yorktownsentry.com/11944/about/staff/2022-23/a-brief-history-of-christmas-and-its-commercialization/

 

Written by Emma Lane

Emma is a Senior studying Strategic Communications with a minor in Business. While she loves all things photography, fashion, and indie music, creative writing has always been one of her favorite ways to express herself.

There are No Thanksgiving Songs

November 17, 2023

“Why are there are no thanksgiving songs?” That is the question the Student Activities team posed a month ago at our blog meeting. Our team has been busy in preparation for Christmas Coffeehouse: Snowed In. Tryouts wrapped up a few weeks ago, the emcees have been rehearsing and revising their script, the marketing team is pushing out promo videos and beautiful designs, and our evenings and weekends have been spent building and painting photo booths for that big night. And all that is for what? A show dedicated to displaying the talent of our student body through – you guessed it – Christmas music. But before we sprint through those last couple weeks of projects, finals, and Coffeehouse sandwiched somewhere in the middle, we get to return home and spend a day stuffing our faces with turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. So, if Thanksgiving is so valued in our culture, why does our holiday music act like it doesn’t exist?

Well, one possible answer is that Thanksgiving is far less marketable than Christmas. I would like to believe that everyone enters into the holiday season with a grateful heart. But in our materialistic-centered society, that is far from true. The songs we listen to tend to attach themselves to memory, and from our mind flows our decisions. If the mall blasts Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” you won’t necessarily think of your special someone but instead recall those amazing Black Friday deals a few years back, when that same song was being played in every store you shopped at. Why are stores now playing Christmas music in October? Perhaps it’s because the earworms subconsciously motivate consumers to make their Christmas purchases long before frost covers the ground. Ty Justice, Student Activities Event Staff, phrased it this: “Thanksgiving is the speed bump on the Christmas highway.” Quite simply, Thanksgiving music is impractical for consumerism.

Another likely reason is that Thanksgiving is insulated to our American culture. Sure, some other countries celebrate Thanksgiving to an extent, but the holiday has roots in our uniquely American history. We understand that Christianity is a global faith. As the Great Commission is being fulfilled, the message of Christ is being spread to every culture in the world, and through the work of Bible translators, more and more people groups are gaining access to the narrative of the birth of Christ. But while the celebration of Christmas naturally follows the spread of the Gospel, Thanksgiving has remained bound to our country and even been diminished due to some of its negative origins.

Certainly, some Thanksgiving songs exist – songs like “Jingle Bells” or “The Thanksgiving Song” by Ben Rector – but these are few and far between. That is if we view Thanksgiving music from the Western understanding of a holiday. But how were the Old Testament festivals and the Sabbath we observe today depicted in Scripture? They were designed to be special days of remembrance, to recall what the Lord has done in the past that impacts our present and will transform our future. How does that relate to Thanksgiving songs?

Two Hebrew words (yadah and towdah), commonly translated as “praise” throughout the Old Testament (especially the Psalms), also mean “thanks” or “thanksgiving.” As believers, we should “[t]hrough Jesus… continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess His name” (Heb. 3:15 NIV). The Greek word used here for praise? Ainesis, which can specifically mean a thank offering. In that case, we sing Thanksgiving songs all year round – in church, in Convocation, in Campus Community.

“There are no Thanksgiving songs.” Oh really? Let me show you the Psalms and the set list for this week’s Sunday service.

As you head home for Thanksgiving break, bump elbows at the table with cousins and your crazy uncle, and nap off your turkey coma, don’t forget to lift your voice in praise. I believe that Thanksgiving Day is the perfect time to bring out worship songs like “Gratitude” by Brandon Lake, “Thank You Jesus for the Blood” by Charity Gayle, and the classic “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman.

Then when you return, get ready to turn up that Christmas music and display your amazing talent at our Christmas Open Mic on December 5th. The event starts at 7:00pm and will be held in the Montview Starbucks. We can’t wait to see you there!

Sources:

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h3034/kjv/wlc/0-1/

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h8426/kjv/wlc/0-1/

https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/heb/13/15/t_conc_1146015

 

Written by Moriah Joseph

Moriah is a sophomore dual major, studying Music & Worship and Elementary Education. She loves to spend her time experimenting on the piano, serving at her church, and hanging out with friends and family. But you also won’t hear her complaining about a good book, mountain views, or dark chocolate. She has always loved writing, so she is so happy to be a part of the Student Activities blog team!

A Love Letter to La La Land

November 6, 2023

Some movies stand out as timeless classics in the film industry, while others leave a lasting impression on our minds and hearts. La La Land, a musical masterpiece by Damien Chazelle from 2016, belongs to the latter group. This captivating movie explores love, dreams, and the allure of Los Angeles in a fresh and original way.

 

  1. A Love Letter to Los Angeles

A mesmerizing traffic jam that has been transformed into an impromptu song-and-dance number on a Los Angeles freeway serves as the opening scene of “La La Land.” A movie that openly celebrates the City of Angels is immediately inspired by this spectacle. This film will rekindle your love for Los Angeles if you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting or residing there. The movie paints a vivid picture of the city’s beauty and charm by showcasing well-known landmarks like Griffith Observatory, the Watts Towers, and the Hermosa Beach Pier, among others. You’ll want to travel to the locations it depicts or, at the very least, take in the city’s vibrant culture and history from a distance after reading this cinematic love letter.

  1. The Power of Dreaming

Anyone who has ever dared to follow their passion will find “La La Land” to be incredibly relatable. The story of Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz musician with aspirations of starting his own club, and Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, serves as the film’s main character. The dreamer in all of us can relate to their tales of ambition, struggle, and the pursuit of artistic fulfillment.” La La Land” serves as a reminder that our aspirations are worthwhile pursuits in today’s world where practicality is frequently prioritized over passion. It gives us the motivation to stick with our goals despite obstacles. The movie skillfully demonstrates how pursuing one’s dreams can result in extraordinary moments of personal development and artistic achievement, even in the most difficult situations.

  1. A Musical Extravaganza

La La Land is primarily a musical. The movie perfectly choreographs its song and dance numbers, evoking the heyday of Hollywood musicals. Justin Hurwitz’s catchy songs are enduring and have a way of sticking in your head. The songs improve the storytelling and elicit a range of emotions, from joy to melancholy, whether it’s “Another Day of Sun,” City of Stars,” or “A Lovely Night.”

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling put a lot of effort into learning the songs and dance sequences, and their chemistry is undeniable. The characters’ struggles and authenticity are enhanced by this commitment, which makes the movie even more compelling.

  1. A Bittersweet Love Story

La La Land is unquestionably a love story, but it deviates from the typical romantic film formula. Instead, it investigates the complexity of love and possible sacrifices for a person’s dreams. The passionate nature of Mia and Sebastian’s relationship is also tempered by difficulties that put their loyalty to one another to the test.

The movie does a wonderful job of capturing the highs and lows of relationships while also pointing out that falling in love isn’t always easy. You get a strong sense of how fleeting life is and how beautiful moments are that can never be relived from the ending, which I won’t spoil. La La Land stands out from other Hollywood romances because it is a realistic portrayal of love that many people can relate to.

  1. Stunning Cinematography

The work of cinematographer Linus Sandgren in “La La Land” is breathtaking. With its vibrant colors, creative camera work, and meticulous attention to detail, the movie is a visual feast. Long takes are used in the dance sequences to give the performance a sense of immersion and continuity. A true cinematic masterpiece, the movie’s visual aesthetic complements its emotional depth. The film gains authenticity and charm thanks to the choice to use realistic effects and shoot on location. It’s a welcome change from many modern movies’ reliance on CGI. The characters’ journey through the ups and downs of their lives is reflected in the cinematography, which captures the magic of Los Angeles.

  1. An Ode to Jazz

Jazz is a crucial component of “La La Land,” and the movie honors this defining style of American art. The story centers on Sebastian’s love of jazz music, which serves as a compelling backdrop for examining themes of tradition, creativity, and artistic integrity. The movie uses jazz as a metaphor for the characters’ own journeys because it is both timeless and evolving. The effectiveness of music in evoking feelings, telling stories, and establishing connections is effectively illustrated in “La La Land.” It serves as a reminder that even in the most trying circumstances, music can lift our spirits and bring us closer together.

“La La Land” is a cinematic gem that merits viewing due to its moving music, captivating visuals, and heartfelt storytelling. It’s a movie that inspires us to pursue our goals, appreciate Los Angeles’ natural beauty, and comprehend the nuance of human relationships and love. La La Land is a truly magical and unforgettable experience, regardless of whether you enjoy musicals or just enjoy well-made and thought-provoking movies. Why then should you watch “La La Land”? Because it’s a love letter to life, love, and the pursuit of dreams that will leave an emotional and lasting impression on you. This is my favorite movie of all time, and I hope to see all of you in attendance at the Vines Center for Student Activities Movie Night on November 7 at 8:00 p.m.

Here are my favorite quotes from the movie to get you excited.

“People love what other people are passionate about.” -Mia

“I am letting life hit me until it gets tired.” -Sebastian

“I am always going to love you.” -Mia

“I’m a phoenix rising from the ashes” -Sebastian

 

Written by Justin Rockey

Justin Rockey is a senior Communications major. He is very passionate about the story and creativity of La La Land and was honored to be able to share his excitement with the student body through this blog.

Texas has a Cult Following

October 27, 2023

“Everything is bigger in Texas!” This well-known phrase is often associated with American southern culture. From cowboy hats, boots, country music, and line dancing, Texas and its quintessential elements have gained a cult following in the United States. Chains such as Buc-ee’s, Whataburger, and H.E.B are well known across the nation. Even current social media and fashion trends such as “Coastal Cowgirl” seem to be rooted in Texas heritage. But why is there so much pride in Texas? What makes it stand out against other states?

According to the History Channel, the Lone Star State was officially declared in 1845. The state is massive with 268,597 square miles of land and over 25 million residents. An article from KXAN, an Austin Texas NBC affiliate, explains that Texas pride may stem from the state’s time as its own republic in the 1830s and 1840s. There is a sense of community and pride associated with Texas and its rich history. The website also included several items Texans themselves love and cherish. Some of these include personal freedom, the Houston Space Center, the Alamo, massive ranches, and state fairs.

Not only is Texas culture widespread throughout the nation, but hundreds of thousands of Americans are flooding the state. Texas is becoming increasingly popular to move to. From 2020 to 2021 about 596,000 Americans moved to Texas from other states. According to Texas View, people are moving to the state due to the low cost of living, low taxes, the down-to-earth nature of Texans, and the diversity of cultures and lifestyles.

Liberty student and Texas native Laurelie Nemeth had this to say when asked what she loved about living in the Lone Star State, “I love that question! It’s really difficult because each part of Texas can be vastly different. I am from a small town south of Houston and Houston is considered a melting pot of different cultures and people. I was able to experience so many cultures in my childhood, but living in a small southern town was one of the best parts because almost everyone went to church and knew the Lord. Obviously, not everyone had accepted Christ as their Savior, but for the most part, it was a very biblically based area, and I love how that can be easier to find in Texas! Our churches were involved with our community and our schools, so although I was raised in a non-Christian home, it was still possible for me to find and know Jesus! I also love how speed limits are just suggestions and summers just get hotter every year!”

When asked the same question, student Luke Tomlin responded, “I love that there’s a mutual pride that exists between Texans. Texas was its own country for a bit after it gained independence from Mexico and the most culturally significant places still have a little bit of “Tex-Mex” style to them. So, the history is super fascinating already! There really is an unspoken understanding between all Texans that we live in the best state and we’re all proud to be there.”

If you’re part of the Texas cult head on over to Everything Is Bingo in Texas on October 28. The event will start at 8:00 p.m. in the LaHaye Event Space.

https://www.kxan.com/news/texas/its-a-texas-thing-why-do-texans-love-texas-so-much/

https://www.history.com/topics/us-states/texas

https://texasview.org/why-texas-so-popular

 

Written by Mary Richey

Mary is a sophomore studying Hospitality Management. She enjoys spending time outdoors, going to coffee shops, and is always up for a road trip. Creative writing has always been one of her favorite hobbies!

Inception is Nolan’s Masterpiece

October 20, 2023

As of right now, most people know who Christopher Nolan is. With a dozen movies under his belt, he has become a household name in the industry and his films draw the attention of both movie buffs and critics. While you can find countless lists of Nolan’s movies ranked, I am baffled that Inception is not ranked number one in most of them. It is time we start recognizing Inception for what it is, not only Nolan’s best film but his Magnum Opus. I know that everyone has their own opinions, which I respect, but I am still going to try and convince you that my opinion is the right one.

Inception is an incredibly inventive movie. In a sea of remakes and reboots, Inception is not only a breath of fresh air but a vital oxygen boost to an industry that is suffocating under the weight of its own lack of imagination. I am not saying that remakes are bad, but I feel like it is an insult to the viewer’s intelligence when movies are the same rehashed formula over and over with little plot variation. (I am looking at you MCU.) Inception came out in 2010 and it still boasts one of the most compelling and creative plots to date. Without giving too much away, this movie follows a thief who steals secrets from people’s minds by entering their subconscious dreams. Not only is this plot incredibly creative but it also lends limitless possibilities to the writers. As the plot unfolds you are launched into a mind-bending journey that has you questioning the difference between reality and dream.

The cast and writing in Inception were incredible. Not only because it was a star-studded cast, but each character performed their role perfectly. One of the most important aspects of the cast is that they were written and acted in such a way that every character we were introduced to felt important. A lot of movies write characters just so they can move the plot along or even worse, simply explain the plot to an audience who would much rather just see it play out. Also, movies try to force an audience to love a character who just does not feel important to the story at all. Inception not only dodges these pitfalls but creates a cast that feels genuine and makes the audience care about them. As the story unfolds, you can enjoy each character’s journey because they all feel important and worthy of your time. The journey of each character comes together to form an unforgettable ending that has made this movie live long after it was released.

Now if you have read this far you either agree with me or you are plotting the perfect comeback by reading for all of my flawed arguments. Fair.  But let me give you one more reason. Inception is the quintessential Christopher Nolan movie. It has every Nolan trope, but they are all done so perfectly. You have the grand plot that messes with time and reality and while this plot seeks to be complex, you can still follow it and understand what is going on in a single watch. (I am looking at you, Tenet.) You have the loud sounds and score which I don’t think are an annoyance in Inception but help elevate the story. You have the practical effects that Nolan loves and come on, the hotel hallway fight scene is worth the price of admission alone. All of Nolan’s movies weave similar threads together and Inception does it so beautifully that if anyone has never seen a Christopher Nolan movie, Inception should be the first one they watch.

If you don’t agree with me but have not seen the movie in a while or have never seen it, you’re in luck! Student Activities will be showing Inception and Interstellar ( I have a lot of thoughts on that movie too) on Saturday, October 21st in the Vines Center starting at 7:00 p.m. Come on out to see Christopher Nolan’s movies how they are meant to be viewed, on the big screen.

 

Written by Jordan Kreitzinger

Jordan is the Assistant Director of Student Activities.

Cool Shirt …. But can you name three songs?

October 5, 2023

“If you’re a real fan, name two songs by them.”

The dreaded question. Long seconds of silence. The answer will be the sole determining factor of whether you’re cool or uncool. And all you wanted to do was wear a piece of vintage band merch.

While classic rock gurus and music connoisseurs have been tormenting the everyman for wearing merch for bands they don’t listen to since the dawn of fandoms, they do pose a legitimate question: if we don’t know a band or enjoy them personally, why are we so willing to emblazon them on our clothes for all to see? Pop on a Nirvana playlist and let’s dive in.

To understand why indie fanatics are so bent on preserving the sanctity of merch in the first place, let’s look back to when it first arrived on the music scene: the 1950’s; for the king himself, Elvis Presley. The earliest known piece of merch was made by an Elvis fan club in the late ‘50s, but it didn’t take long for the trend to catch on. Soon enough, people were clamoring for tees with The Beatles’ faces across the chest (and who could blame them, honestly?). Fans got their tees, promoters got their cash; everyone was happy. However, it wasn’t until a decade later in the late ‘60s that rock concert T-shirts truly became a viable commercial product. This self-defined “hippie” era also saw the advent of political protest T-shirts and the use of T-shirts as an art medium, more a piece of self-expression than a piece of fabric [1] .

This ideology hasn’t gone anywhere: whether we admit it or not, many of us view our favorite artists as an extension of our own identities. Music speaks volumes about our personalities, styles, and aesthetic preferences, which is why we broadcast our Spotify wrapped and are so quick to post at a concert on our Instagram story. We’re hoping to be perceived in a certain way by others. But before the existence of social media, people declared their allegiance to artists through wearing merchandise. Putting on a band tee set you apart, signifying you belonged to a subculture and sending a clear message that you were a unique, even rebellious, individual.

Okay, but you don’t listen to Def Leppard. Why do you still have a T-shirt with the Hysteria album cover in your closet? There’s psychology behind that, too.

First, let’s talk nostalgia. Even if we haven’t experienced a band’s sound for ourselves, most of us in this generation have grown up hearing about the iconic era of classic rock from the ‘60s-’90s from our parents and grandparents. As they relive the glory days of concert culture or play their old CDs in the car on long drives, we develop our own opinions and perceptions surrounding the band, most of which are positive associations. In adulthood, when we open our drawer and decide to throw on a band tee, we’re able to experience secondhand nostalgia, generationally tapping into a culture that we never experienced, but always heard about.

Next, there’s the influence of “evergreen” fashion trends. Let’s face it, even if our parents have only ever listened to KLove Radio our entire childhood, we’re still drawn to band tees like moths to a flame. They have undeniable aesthetic appeal that makes us willing to risk the embarrassment of not knowing a single song time and time again. Turns out, it’s not just masochism. According to Paradiso Clothing, “Classic logos, album art, and tour graphics often boast a timeless quality transcending generational boundaries. The simplicity of these designs allows you to remain relevant and stylish…” even if you don’t have a personal connection to the artist [2]. This just in: it’s okay to say, “I thought the design looked cool.” Just call yourself a lover of evergreen trends.

Finally, let’s discuss what it means for band merch to be “vintage.” It’s no secret that the market for vintage clothing is on the rise. We’ve all seen the TikTok videos of people digging through the Goodwill bins for the perfect “authentic” oversized T-shirt. Or, for the more civilized, buying vintage from the upscale retailer set up on the lawn outside the library. Classic rock merchandise is at the pinnacle of this new wave, the perfect mix between timelessly cool graphics and an individualistic superiority complex.

It comes full circle to the fans of the 1960s: most of us aren’t just wearing merch because we love the band or even think the design is stylish, but because putting on merch declares our allegiance to a subculture. It’s a statement: not about the band, but about ourselves.

TL;DR: Is it okay to wear merch for a band you don’t listen to? Absolutely. Whether it’s for childhood nostalgia, to keep up with timeless trends, or simply a newfound vintage purchase, classic rock merch is undeniably cool. If you have it, you should show it off! We’re giving you the perfect opportunity this Friday night: if you wear a piece of classic rock merch to our Classic Rock Concert on top of the Runk and Pratt Garage at 7 p.m., you waive the $2 entrance fee!

We’re not gatekeepers around here. Joan Jett isn’t the only one who loves rock and roll, after all.

 

[1] http://www.antiqueweek.com/ArchiveArticle.asp?newsid=2265

[2] https://www.paradisoclothing.com/blogs/blog/why-are-rock-band-t-shirts-still-a-trend-in-fashion-music-culture

http://www.antiqueweek.com/ArchiveArticle.asp?newsid=2265 [LL1] [LL1]

 

Written by Emma Lane

Emma is a Senior studying Strategic Communications with a minor in Business. While she loves all things photography, fashion, and indie music, creative writing has always been one of her favorite ways to express herself.