Xiu Xiu’s radical new album takes no precautions

If the most memorable works of pop culture over the last few years have one thing in common, it’s a creeping suspicion that our world stands on a precipice. Has there been a superhero movie in recent memory that hasn’t shown a city get reduced to rubble? Is Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” a harbinger for the end times that sees radical action as the only means of preventing planetary collapse? Hell, not an episode of “Chapo Trap House” goes by without the hosts reminding us of the economic and environmental catastrophes capitalism leaves in its wake. Pop culture that “really says something about our day and age” feels like a gift sometimes, like something that commodifies existential torment and sells it back to you through the Sunny D Twitter page, but experimental rock outfit Xiu Xiu aren’t disingenuous. They weren’t back when people were shoving Freedom Fries down their maws in solidarity with George W. Bush, and if “Girl with a Basket of Fruit” is any indication, they’re one of the only artists that can truly capture the world’s horrors in 2019.

I wouldn’t ever describe any Xiu Xiu record as unchallenging, but even by their standards this album is harsh, with a crushing atmosphere largely indebted to industrial and glitch music. At times this album’s instrumentals sound like if Death Grips got tired of their usual production trickery and just started beating you over the head with their Casio drum machines. Frontman Jamie Steward is as unnerving as ever — no small feat if you’re acquainted with their discography — shouting himself hoarse, doing an MC Ride impression so remarkable that it even gives the rapper (screamer?) himself a run for his money and whispering ominously to you like you’re his victim in a slasher flick.

Most albums like this start off innocently, luring you into a false sense of security, but the opening title track here doesn’t even do that. Occasionally you’ll stumble upon some genuinely beautiful sounds, like on the stunning track “The Wrong Thing,” but even that only acts as a prelude for the song most likely to haunt your dreams, “Mary Turner Mary Turner.” This song recounts the tragic story of a young black woman who, while eight months pregnant, was lynched and killed by a white mob. In scary times like today, it’s often an easy habit to look to the past, but what Stewart does here is remind us the past is no stranger to the worst of humanity. He concludes the song with the couplet “Fuck your guns/fuck your war/ fuck your truck/fuck your flag” and it feels heart-wrenching as it does therapeutic, while being completely on brand for a group that was never one to shy away from ruffling feathers for civility’s sake. By exploring the new harsh and mechanical sounds of today while doubling down on everything that made them great in the first place, Xiu Xiu have shown themselves to be in a late-career renaissance.

Andrew Kilbride, a Staff Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at AKilbride21@wooster.edu.

Senior ice hockey players recognized

Ben Blotner

Senior Sports Writer

The College of Wooster ice hockey club held its senior night on Friday, Feb. 22 at Alice Noble Ice Arena. The Fighting Scots fell to the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford Panthers by a score of 5-2, but held pregame festivities to honor the squad of seniors Leonard Wine ’19, Connor Ferreri ’19 and Will Noel ’19.

Pitt-Bradford scored the first goal of the game early in the first period, as Jake George ’21 got them on the board with an assist from Jack Pecora ’22. Four minutes later, Pitt-Bradford’s Noah Warns ’19 was given a penalty for interference. Wooster tied the score at the 10:41 mark with a goal from Wine, the club president, who was assisted by Jack Galle ’21. Wine was then called for a penalty on a minor infraction, but helped the Scots score another goal with 1:42 left in the first period, again teaming up with Galle for the point. This time, Wine earned the assist as Galle slammed the puck in to give Wooster the lead. After the first period, the Scots held a 2-1 edge over the Panthers. Unfortunately, their offense would be held in check the rest of the way.

The game’s second period was relatively uneventful for the first several minutes, as Wooster held on to its slim lead. Finally, with less than five minutes the clock, Pitt-Bradford’s Matt Labacic ’19 scored the only goal of the period to tie the score at two; Pecora earned his second assist of the night. In the period’s final minutes, Jack Kellam ’21 of Pitt-Bradford was sent to the penalty box for a minor infraction. The Scots also received a penalty as they were called for interference, but neither team was able to capitalize on the other side’s mistake. The score remained 2-2 going into the final period.

In the third period, the game was decided when the Panthers’ offense came to life for three goals, the first of which came relatively quickly. Pitt-Bradford jumped out to the lead at the 18:14 mark, with Pecora once again contributing to the offense. This time, Pecora did the scoring after Warns got him the puck for an assist. Soon after, Pecora committed a penalty by tripping a Wooster player. Pitt-Bradford’s Matt Marynchak ’20 was also sent to the penalty box for committing a high stick. Despite the infractions, Pitt-Bradford was able to add to the lead with two more goals off the sticks of Labacic and Warns. Wooster was called for a penalty in the final minute, but it had no bearing on the final score. The Panthers’ three-goal margin would stand, as they won the game by a final score of 5-2.

Wooster’s ice hockey club will miss seniors Wine, Ferreri and Noel when the remaining players take the ice for the 2019-20 season. The group will need a new president after Wine graduates, as well as a new secretary to fill the void left by Ferreri. Daniel Engel ’20 will presumably continue as the club’s treasurer, along with Jim Burnell as the advisor. 

“BlacKkKlansman” earns its place in history

Elena Morey

A&E Editor

“BlacKkKlansman,” a controversial historical comedy, took general moviegoers by surprise.  Overall, it was a phenomenal film.  With cast members like John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, a renowned director Spike Lee, who won his first Oscar for co-writing the film and great writers Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz, this film was destined to be powerful.  At this year’s Oscars, the film was up for best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, best original score and best film editing.

 This true story follows undercover detective Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) who was the first “colored” police officer in very conservative Colorado Springs, Colo.  He struggles with finding his identity as a black American as well as someone who must hide who they are in the times of extreme racism and prejudice. Stallworth is assigned to monitor a Black Student Union group of college students.  The police department fears they are going to militarize, but Stallworth confidently reports that they are non-violent.  He then directs the department’s efforts toward a truly aggressive organization: the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).  Stallworth contacts the chapter leader over the phone, and with the help of Flip (best supporting actor nominee Adam Driver), he infiltrates the organization successfully.  The two officers piggy-back off one another to keep their story straight and to prevent the organization’s plans, but the main driving force is Stallworth’s moves against the KKK.

The suspense built as the officers attempt to avoid discovery will, as well as the high-stakes scenarios they prevent, keep audience members enthralled. On and off moments of light-hearted comedy keep the dark material from being too heavy, but the film also uses it as a tactic to comment on issues the movie touches on but does not fully tackle.  Flip is Jewish, but never felt connected to his heritage, he finds an inner battle that emerges as he vocally denies his heritage to go undercover.  Stallworth manages a love interest who is closely connected to his case, while still protecting his  true identity from the organization.  Real moments of intensity and philosophical debates light up the screen and stay with the viewer long after the screen has gone dark.

Stellar acting on top of the writing makes this film really stand out.  As an actress myself, tackling your own beliefs and comforts can sometimes be hard when the role calls for you to really put yourself out there.  Most of the actors playing supporters of the KKK commit 100 percent to their role and display the ugly truths of the era with bravery.

Deep thematic issues are obviously a large part of the film and the purpose behind it.  Harsh issues are tackled and displayed openly, making audiences think.  Modern-day references chill moviegoers, as subliminal anti-Trump themes are mentioned almost in passing.  This subtly makes this film truly spectacular for an intellectual who might catch them all.

The musical score is beautiful.  The “Stallworth Theme” repeats over and over, sometimes monotonously, but quite beautifully. The ambiance fills the room and seems to deepen the believability of the images on the screen.  The score perfectly brings tension to the scenes as well as a sense of honour and duty.

As a united piece, the film is a beautifully done, strong and powerful work contributing to the ongoing discussion of race, religion, prejudice and the harsher realities of our world.  Its message is hopeful, however, and brings to light a figure and endeavor that history has hidden.  It allows one to reflect on how far we’ve come as a species, yet also comments on how much work we still must do to make this world united beyond the constructs and walls that divide us.

 

Pictured is the real Ron Stallworth, the man who bravely infiltrated the Klan and prevented many acts of terrorism (Photo from The Washington Post).

Sex Month expands to diversify programming

Abby Everidge

Contributing Writer

It’s Sex Month here at the College! The Sexual Respect Coalition (SRC), a sexual respect and anti-rape culture advocacy group, has been hosting events this month with various organizations. There have been events such as Sex Positive Trans Sex Education, Sex Trivia with Men Working for Change and Chill vs. Chill (Consent is Mandatory) with Women of Images and Men of Harambee. 

On Feb. 21, the Sex Positive Trans Sex Education was an event that partnered with Robin Perry ’20, who spoke about trans-inclusive pleasure-based sex education and provided resources for attendees. Co-Treasurer of SRC  Miranda James ’20 remarked, “The turnout was great! We had a full room and everyone was very engaged. It was an amazing event!”

On Feb. 27, Sex Trivia was presented by Men Working for Change and SRC in the form of a fun and educational trivia game on all things sex, ranging from birth control to kinks.

On Feb. 28, Chill vs. Chill (Consent is Mandatory) was an event presented by Men of Harambee, Women of Images and the SRC that featured a casual, open discussion about all things sex and relationships,  including many different perspectives.

After Spring Break, on March 27, SRC will be hosting Domestic Violence 101 in partnership with the South Asia Committee. In April, the SRC will also host their annual Take Back the Night march and speak out. Students are encouraged to keep an eye out for posters on campus regarding more information on these events and more.

Myra Praml ’19, co-president of SRC, noted that Sex Month is new this year. Normally, SRC organizes events during a week-long format with events every night. Shifting to a month-long format allowed SRC to spread out the planned events and attract more attendees by increasing the length of their advertising.

“We had a big turnout to our first event,” said Praml. “There were people there who told us they had never come to an SRC event before and that was very encouraging to see.”

Praml also stated that a recent focus of the group has been to increase their collaboration with groups on campus, particularly making it a priority to work with organizations they have not yet collaborated with in order to reach audiences on campus that they have not before.

After hearing from students just now first attending SRC events, James assured them that the group is, “expanding the topics covered to be more inclusive and welcoming to all of campus.”

“As a senior who has been involved for a few years, I would say Sex Month has definitely changed a lot,” said Praml. “I think we’re making more of an effort to get people excited and to get the word out. I think we’re also putting a lot more into making our events interdisciplinary, as well as crossing contexts and boundaries that maybe we didn’t put in a relationship before, but actually are conversations that need to happen.”

In the future, Praml said that she hopes that SRC continues to expand their collaboration efforts. “It makes topics more interesting, relevant and relatable. It also helps to get attendance from different groups on campus in order to have more holistic discussions,” said Praml.

Praml noted that she has often heard that people are deterred from coming to SRC events because topics aren’t always happy or fun. “They can be heavy, sad and serious,” she said. “It’s a lot to put yourself in a position to hear about these things. We don’t want to make these topics lighthearted because they’re not, and they need this serious treatment. But I think what we want to do with Sex Month is stress the importance of educating yourself.”

“These are safe and productive spaces to have these kinds of conversations,” said Praml. “Give yourself the opportunity to learn about topics that you wouldn’t normally engage with. For me, I personally come away feeling like I have ways to create change in ways that I didn’t think about before and that I’ve learned something entirely new. I think these events are an opportunity to learn something new.”

SRC will be hosting Sex Education Month again next semester. The group also has weekly meetings every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Babcock Formal Lounge. New members are always welcome and encouraged to come!

James shared that overall, “Sex Month is about fostering positive discussions around sex and sexuality. We believe that these conversations affect the ways students talk about sex and things related to sex, which in turn creates more sex positivity and serves to improve our campus climate.”

(Logo by Andrea Arts)

Safe Zone open to all members of C.O.W. community

Larissa Lamarca

Contributing Writer

If someone wishes to learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community and to become more active and educated on gender identities, gender expressions and sexual orientations, Safe Zone Trainings could help offer that opportunity. As described on the Wooster website, “Safe Zone establishes an identifiable network of individuals who agree to challenge oppression, promote an atmosphere of respect and serve as a safe space in our community. The three-hour training is for faculty, staff and students.” 

Additionally, the Wooster website states that, “by agreeing to become a participant in the Safe Zone Training Program, you agree to undergo training, educate yourself, promote an atmosphere of respect and civility, be a resource as best you can, listen and provide support.” Students can get involved through tabling in Lowry where they can sign up, via email or through information from the posters around campus. 

The Wooster website has information about when and where students, faculty, staff and community members can attend trainings. Separating students and faculty has enabled more questions from faculty about specific administrative work such as classroom polices. The trainings are run by CDI staff and students in the Safe Zone Practicum (which is a 0.5 credit course).

“Every year, the Safe Zone practicum course works to update and create new trainings in order to keep up to date with vocabulary and concepts. Some trainings we are developing this semester include a Religion and Spirituality training, a Poly/Non-Monogamous relationships training and a training centered around creating an anti-racist LGBTQ+ community,” said Aaron Risch ’21. Students can expect to gain a better understanding about intersectionality, oppression, gender identity, gender, privilege and sexual orientation their roles in advocating for queer students on and off campus. 

Robin Perry ’20 said, “we still have a long way to go with getting all those groups really effectively involved, though! Our goal would be to have every faculty, staff member and student involved in Safe Zone.” Currently there are also Safe Zone 200 levels that explore deeper aspects of sexuality and gender, which are covered individually in the introductory training. The training lasts one hour and is interactive. Some of the 200  level trainings offered this spring include Trans & Non-binary Identities, Ace, Aro, Gray and History & Action In Allyship.  

Practice healthy habits with your phone

College life encourages us to be productive machines shitting out perfect essays and problem sets and thorough readings of essays and articles. If, miraculously, all our academic to-dos are completed, countless teams, clubs, jobs and other organizations grasp for our time and energy. We also need to maintain a social life and keep occasional contact with home. With so many responsibilities, any spent idle generates a feeling of unease and guilt. However, what about all those small moments and brief instances that are too short to achieve any considerable progress on big projects or assignments? A handy-dandy invention has produced access to productivity and doing-something-ness. 

I would be doing a disservice by imploring you to stop being productive. However, constant productivity poisons the brain. Walking to class, students listen to Spotify while scrolling through Instagram to relax. Waiting for friends to chow in Lowry, why not see what’s happening in Venezuela or Brexit to inform ourselves on the happenings of the world? Sitting on the toilet, why not send an email to the professor about confusion about an assignment? A survey at Baylor University in 2014 discovered that students spend an average of nine hours per day on their phone. This comes as no surprise; cellphones are awesome. They provide unlimited access to video games, social media, communication with family and friends, plus a conglomeration of all the knowledge humans have ever discovered via the internet. 

All these things are important, but humans were not designed to be constantly working. Being idle without your phone allows time for internal reflection, stimulates creativity, generates productivity when working and makes relaxation easier while reducing anxiety. Over the next few days, really try and zero in on your unique phone habits. 

If you use your phone while walking to class, focus on the rise and fall of your chest or the feel and sound of your foot hitting the ground or watch a squirrel scuffle between branches. If you use your phone to look busy in public settings so that people don’t bother you, bring a good book instead. If Doodle Jump is your best friend in the bathroom, maybe plan your outfit the next day. While studying, set your phone on silent and put it away in your backpack. The Do Not Disturb function is magical, try it out. 

After enacting these positive habits to generate a beneficial and healthy relationship with your phone, the impacts will be drastic. Kevin Rooth of The New York Times attempted this phone analysis and the results were drastic. After a few days, his spouse applauded his efforts and asked him to continue because his attention and engagement in conversations was deeper; “I spent more time to listening to her, and less time distractedly nodding and mumbling while checking my inbox or tapping out tweets,” he said. 

Not to be dramatic, but you can become a better student, more attentive friend, less anxious, more effective in activities and a stronger overall person by putting the phone away. 

Wyatt Brugge, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at WBrugge21@wooster.edu.