Cruelty Squad starkly critiques capitalism

Andy Kilbride

Contributing Writer

 

The creation and dissemination of video games under capitalism makes it nearly impossible for indie projects to find success by word of mouth alone, regardless of how good they are. Yet somehow, Cruelty Squad, developed by Finnish artist Ville Kallio under the moniker Consumer Softproducts, has accomplished precisely this over the last three months. While still in the early release phase, and thus constantly being updated by Kallio, Cruelty Squad feels so aesthetically and conceptually fleshed out that its praises, even in the game’s unfinished form, are absolutely deserved.

While most contemporary games prioritize realistic and pristine graphics, Kallio makes the

valiant choice to design his world and its characters as jarringly as possible with horrifically bright colors and distorted pixelations that downright hurt to look at sometimes. Perhaps the easiest way to describe its aesthetic is the video game equivalent to the artwork for a vaporwave album, but even this is an overgeneralization. It simply needs to be seen to be believed. The game seems to break every single rule of graphic design on purpose in its attempt to create a surreal nightmare world.

Then, of course, there’s the story and setting. The game’s unnamed protagonist works for an

Uber or Doordash-esque gig-economy corporation called the Cruelty Squad, who hire hitmen to assassinate various figures that threaten the financial interests of the company itself or

capitalism in general. Each level is conceptually simple — you kill the required targets and find an exit, much like the early Hitman series games — but there’s so much room for exploration and experimentation that Kallio encourages and rewards replaying levels. One of the reasons for this is that the missions are littered with level-specific, non-player characters who offer surreal and unique insights into the game’s capitalist hell-world, including a character you meet at a rave who has an “artistic take on finance” and a “black suppositories and debased” internet user. Moments like these, along with the level briefings, reinforce how great and uniquely hilarious Kallio is.

 

Another reason for revisiting missions is the unlockable weapons and purchasable

augmentations which add new ways to explore levels and reach targets. This

makes speedruns incredibly fun and viable for those willing to practice using unlockable items. It should be noted, in typical Cruelty Squad fashion, that these aren’t the sleek body modifications of Cyberpunk. For instance, the fittingly named “Grappendix” allows you to use your intestines as a grappling hook, while the “Gunkboots” allow you to eject disgusting waste from your feet in order to get an extra jump. Appropriately, getting better at killing increasingly makes the protagonist less human as they mutilate their body more and more in the effort to please their capitalist overlords. While their boss, a red gelatinous blob in a trucker’s hat who looks like Jabba the Hut, describes the Cruelty Squad HQ as “an oasis of love and friendship,” your character is always at the mercy of the status quo which they consistently preserve through bloodshed.

A letter to my younger self: it will be alright

Maggie Dougherty

Editor in Chief 

 

Dear  Maggie,

I am just writing a brief note to let you know that everything will turn out okay. When you came to Wooster, you were totally undecided on what you wanted to study; not S.T.E.M. — that’s your sister’s vibe — but something to do with people, maybe? International relations, language? You wanted to study abroad, but you didn’t know where. Someplace far away, someplace very different. You came to Wooster to be brand new, to get away from Charlottesville — you couldn’t stand the thought of going to one of the same three state schools where everyone else went; you needed to get away from those people. 

You definitely made mistakes along the way. That semester when you overloaded way too much while editing News for the Voice, and found yourself suffocated by anxiety and depression for the first time in your life? You were doing classes you normally would have loved, but just barely finding the motivation to complete assignments because that meant getting out of bed. You realized you weren’t immortal, and you had to unlearn internalized stigmas you had regarding mental illness — it can happen to anyone. 

You found people who supported you, and found ways to establish boundaries with others who couldn’t. You applied to the first study abroad program that felt right, and never looked back. You hopped on a plane to Amman and you made sure not to miss a single opportunity when you were there. You learned to be more go-with-the-flow, to take every shot you could. 

You are used to being successful, and I think if I told you that you’d be leaving college without a job, without a plan for grad school, with only a vague idea of where you’ll end up, that you might have had a panic attack. You might have thought yourself a failure. 

But I am telling you now, it’s okay that you don’t know. Even if you haven’t found a job or a concrete life plan during your time at Wooster, you have all the skills you need to land on your feet. You’ve done work you’re proud of and you’re more confident for it. Wooster isn’t perfect by a long shot, but it’s given you the space to critique it and grow, and it was the right place for you to find yourself. I can tell you now that you have succeeded, ironically, precisely because you aren’t afraid now of the uncertain path lying before you. Take care of yourself, and try not to worry too much what others think along the way. It’s all going to be just fine.

Wooster-born Rat Queen scores recording

Chloe Burdette

Editor in Chief 

 

Through Springfest, Covers and other on-campus opportunities, The College of Wooster is no stranger to popular student-formed bands that are loved for years after they graduate. One of these beloved bands is Rat Queen — including alumni Eleanor Linafelt ’20, Robyn Newcomb ’20 and Kate Bertrand ’20. Although most bands disintegrate after they leave campus, Rat Queen worked hard to keep blessing the ears of their fans for as long as they could.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced 2020 graduates to head home prematurely, the bandmates moved away from each other, crushing any hope for them to create more music together. Rat Queen’s dreams almost felt out of reach until a surprising stroke of luck hit the band’s email inbox. “[Newcomb] accidentally checked our Rat Queen email, which we had stopped checking since we thought we were over, to find an email from an engineer/producer Jackie Milestone, who works at Headroom Studios,” Linafelt explained. “They had seen my name pop up on Instagram, listened to our EP and were interested in recording music with us if we had anything in the works. They had no idea that I was about to move to Philly (and literally a block away from them) or that we had just started talking about wanting to record an album together.”

The band didn’t want to record with just any studio, but with people they appreciated and were comfortable around. “If we were to record professionally, I would want to find a producer who wasn’t a cis man, which is extremely hard to find,” Linafelt added. “I knew from working with men in music situations in the past that working with a producer who wasn’t a cis man would likely make us feel more comfortable, understood and able to ask questions and share ideas.”

Headroom Studios was perfect for Rat Queen’s recording, as some of their favorite albums had been recorded there. “The way the universe lined up for us, it really seemed like fate,” Newcomb said.

To pay for recording costs, the band launched a Kickstarter campaign selling limited-edition merchandise. Kickstarter also allowed the band to accept donations. Over a few weeks, many Wooster students found the Kickstarter link, and with the help of friends, family and hardcore Rat Queen fans, the band raised over $4000 for a five-day recording session at Headroom Studios. “We were shocked by how quickly we raised the money. We feel so lucky to have such supportive communities from Wooster to our hometowns, families and friends,” said Linafelt. “We just hope everyone will be happy with the final product!”

The band recorded nine songs for their official debut album, and the release date is unknown. Linafelt said, “We are planning to send the album around to labels to see if anyone would be interested in putting it out. If we can’t find a good match, we will probably self-release it.”

Rat Queen knows nothing would be possible without their college roots in small-town Wooster, Ohio. “In my opinion, no band or artist is truly self-made — every artist is shaped by, and owes something to, the community that supported them from the start,” Newcomb said. “We owe so much to everyone who’s supported us even way further back: everyone who came to our Common Grounds performances when we first learned our instruments and sounded terrible, every program house whose basement we practiced in, every older musician who told us good job after our songs at Covers, every D.J. who played us on their radio shows, every band who let us open for them; it really did take all of that, too, to bring us to Headroom in April.”

Though Rat Queen is unsure of their band’s future, they are excited for the road ahead. “Man, this album is just so much stronger than our EP — I can see so clearly how much we’ve progressed, and I want to see that trajectory continue,” said Newcomb. “After we were able to pull off this album against what felt like impossible odds, it feels like we can do anything.”

You can listen to Rat Queen on Bandcamp at rat-queen.bandcamp.com, and their music is currently available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Sweeping the shadow of the past under the rug: How lack of recognition for historical harms still affects Wooster’s LGBTQ+ Community

Aspen Rush

Managing Editor

Maggie Dougherty

Editor in Chief

 

On April 12 at 4:33 p.m., The College of Wooster shared a message from the Board of Trustees on their Facebook page regarding the behavior of former President Howard F. Lowry. The message elicited a wide range of responses from a great number of alumni and students, quickly receiving over a hundred comments from members of the College community. A subset of these comments focused not on Lowry but on a different piece of Wooster history: the 1995 almost-presidency of Susanne Woods, who would have been the College’s first female president. Although the Board of Trustees never shared an official explanation for Woods’ stepping down, the alumni in the comments all held the same notion: Woods was dismissed because it was discovered that she had a female partner.

One alum wrote, “Let’s also address the dismissal of Susanne Woods [by the Board] because she was a lesbian in the mid-’90s while we are at it. […] I was appalled by the Board’s action then and I still see it as a blight on the history of the College.”

Charles Gall ’93 commented similarly, writing, “[It] would be lovely if the Board would do this kind of detailed and bulleted self reflection and pursuit of truth/restorative justice concerning the quiet payoff of Susanne Woods in the mid-’90s, after hiring her as president and then realizing she [was] a lesbian before sending her packing.” Others agreed, seconding the call for the Board to address Woods’ case and stating that they hoped to see justice for her. Another alum wrote, “The College owes a very public, comprehensive, genuine apology to Susanne Woods and an action plan to address past and present homophobia.”

Wooster in the 1990s was a very different place than the Wooster we know today. As one alum described, Wooster was a more conservative, “buttoned up” place, stuck slightly behind the rest of the world in a “sweet age” before swipe keys and cell phones. According to a Viewpoint written by Terry Miller ’90, in 1989, the College had not engaged in conversations about homosexuality in the campus comminity. Then, as they do now, Wooster boasted that they “celebrate diversity.” Even so, they did not have a non-discriminatory policy in place for LGBTQ+ individuals. Miller pointed to both students and administration alike for their exclusivity. The ’90s was also a time of more conservative social values, not just in Wooster, but nationally: The United States was a battleground between the progressive left and religious, conservative right.

While the ’90s seem like a recent past for many, public opinion regarding the LGBTQ+ community has shifted dramatically in the last 25 years. It was a decade punctuated by anti-gay legislation and hate crimes even as queer culture made its way into the mainstream. Madonna introduced voguing, Elton John came out, Pedro Zamora publicly battled AIDS and conversations about homosexuality entered public discourse. On the other hand, there was an endless list of politicians and civilians accusing gay and lesbian individuals of ruining the American way of life. Across the U.S., national and local governments attempted to pass anti-gay legislation.

In 1990, only five years since the peak of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, queerness remained interwoven with stigma surrounding homosexuality. The American public was fueled by homophobic rhetoric echoed by conservative politician and radio show hosts, like Rush Limbaugh.

In 1994, only one year before Susanne Woods was dismissed, The Employment Non-Discrimination Act made its way to the floor of the House of Representatives once again after repeated failure. The law, if passed, would have protected lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals from employer discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation. 

That being said, it was by no means unheard of to establish equality for gay individuals in the corporate sector. World renowned companies such as Xerox and AT&T publicly supported their employees and created anti-discrimination policies. Around the country, Wooster would have set the precedent for academic institutions in hiring their first woman president and their first lesbian president.

In this context, Susanne Woods was selected to be the first female president of The College of Wooster. Woods was chosen by a 16-person search committee tasked with finding Henry Copeland’s successor, made up of eight trustees and eight faculty members. Woods was an English literature professor who had received her doctorate from Columbia University, and at the time of her hiring was employed as the vice president for academic affairs at Franklin & Marshall College. At Brown University, she had been the director of graduate studies and the associate dean of faculty; she also founded the Women Writers Project. By all accounts, Woods was highly qualified in her scholarly, administrative and fundraising accomplishments. 

In April 1995, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees approved the nomination of Susanne Woods for president. Woods accepted the offer and was set to take office as Wooster’s tenth president on July 1, 1995. At the time, trustee and chairman of the search committee, John (Jack) Dowd, was quoted in The Akron Journal saying, “Our goal was to find the best president for The College of Wooster… and we have achieved our goal.”

The English Department, which was responsible for officially recommending Woods for tenure, was particularly excited to work with her. Nancy Grace, professor and chair of Wooster’s English Department at the time, stated in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “I was thinking, ‘Wow, this person is extremely qualified, I’m glad they appointed her.’” 

Grace described the move as an inflection point, a moment where the College was on the verge of taking a major progressive step by hiring a woman to lead the school. Except something happened, and the scales tipped in the other direction. On June 30, Woods’ resignation was announced in a statement released by the College, citing Woods’ and the Board’s mutual “deep regret” over “significant differences concerning the role of the president.”

Speculations have been made about what “significant differences” were missed throughout the entirety of the search process and only discovered in the week before Woods took office. Although the relevance of this information is contested by some of the parties involved, Emeritus Trustee Jerrold Footlick wrote in his book, “An Adventure in Education,” “The one piece of important information that no one appears to dispute is that Susanne Woods had a close relationship with a professor of English at Denison University, Anne Shaver.” 

Dowd vehemently denied that any prejudice was involved in the decision. In the Sept. 1, 1995 edition of the Voice, Dowd said, “I think I have heard almost all the rumors, and none of the rumors are correct.” 

Grace recalls meeting Dowd for lunch at the Wooster Inn to discuss her concerns. “He totally denied everything — he just lied straight to my face,” Grace told Footlick in an interview, the transcript of which is stored now in the College’s Special Collections. She elaborated to the Voice that Dowd told her the decision had “nothing, nothing, nothing” to do with Wood’s sexual orientation. Nevertheless, Grace recounted, Dowd shared no reasonable alternative explanation, citing the confidentiality agreement that Woods and the Board signed as a condition of her resignation; still, she felt that he was lying.

Despite Dowd’s assertion that Woods’ sexual orientation played no role, multiple articles from the Voice and the Chronicle refer to the circulation of the Denison phone directory on Wooster’s campus, in which Shaver listed Woods as her partner. Although it was openly reported that Shaver identified herself as a lesbian, Woods was, according to the August 4, 1995 edition of the Chronicle, “a very private person who does not describe herself as a lesbian or discuss her sexual orientation.” Nevertheless, at around the same time the directory began to circulate, so did an op-ed by an openly lesbian professor at Kenyon College, encouraging Kenyon’s new president to work closely with female presidents at the other Ohio schools, including “Wooster’s newly appointed president, lesbian Susanne Woods.”

Although there are different accounts of the exact transmission of information, the details made it to the trustees and, according to a source who spoke with the Chronicle at the time, a few of the trustees met with Woods to ask her about the directory and the rumors. The full Board was alerted on June 20 that there would be a phone conference on June 29 to discuss Woods’ contract, and the next day, Woods resigned as president-elect. 

Reactions from the Wooster community to the Woods resignation were swift and strong. Carolyn Durham, a professor of French and coordinator of Wooster’s women studies program, told the Chronicle that she was “shocked and dismayed by the news.” She added, “It’s difficult for me to understand how there could have been ‘disagreements about the role of president’ that would not have been discussed prior to her appointment by the Board.”

In an interview conducted for his book, Grace told Footlick, “I can remember the day I heard, I just burst into tears — I really burst into tears. It was like we’d been stabbed. I cried, when [Emeritus Professor of German] Susan Figge told me, I just cried on the phone.” 

In another interview, Footlick asked another professor of English, Jennifer Hayward, if the English department felt angry about the decision. “I don’t know if even angry is the right word,” she answered. “I think it cut deeper than that. I think we felt betrayed. I think we felt as if we had this wonderful woman who was going to make connections for us with major funding institutions and with really exciting text projects like the Brown [University] project, and was going to bring all kinds of new ideas. Then, there was never a clear explanation for what happened.”

Wooster alumnus Charles Gall graduated in 1993, but was still living and working in Wooster in the spring of 1995. In the same edition of the Voice that shared a comprehensive interview with Woods, introducing her as president-elect to the Wooster community, there was an announcement that Judd Winick — roommate of Pedro Zamora, AIDS educator and MTV star — would be visiting campus to talk about Zamora’s life. As Gall listened to Winick speak, he said, “I realized how much Pedro had accomplished in the five short years between coming out and his death, and it made me think that here I was, still in the closet at 24 in small-town Ohio, living in fear. When I returned home that evening, I gathered the courage to come out to my roommate and his girlfriend, which began my coming out process to family and friends.”

Reacting to Woods’ departure just a few months later, Gall said, “As a newly gay alumnus of Wooster, the Woods situation was highly disappointing. For a college that openly promoted diversity and that engaged Winick to speak on AIDS education just months prior, the announcement was a confirmation that all the talk of diversity, at least as it related to sexual orientation, was simply lip-service, and that there was no way the Board was comfortable supporting a gay President who would be the face of the College and chief fundraiser.”

Since 1995, there has still been no official explanation for what happened because of the confidentiality agreement signed by all parties involved. Although the incident happened over 25 years ago now, it still lives on in the memories of many alumni and faculty who were here at the time, as well as in the way that current LGBTQ+ students interact with the institution. 

One of the clearest reminders of the Susanne Woods controversy is the John Plummer Memorial Scholarship for Promoting a Welcoming Campus for LGBTQ+ People. During his years working as the comptroller of the Wooster Business Office, Plummer was one of the only openly gay individuals on campus and served as a mentor to many of Wooster’s LGBTQ+ students. 

Following Woods’ resignation, Plummer and alumnus Hans Johnson ’92 discussed what could be done to support LGBTQ+ students on campus, and Plummer suggested the possibility of creating a scholarship. In an interview in 2018, Johnson recalled, “The Susanne Woods episode was a searing and stinging rebuke for people who respected LGBT rights and met for many of us who were LGBT ourselves. It wasn’t just us, but a whole network of allies was deeply offended by that move and by the signal that Wooster would discriminate in such a high, and such a highly exposed way in its expression of values.”

Though Plummer died in 2006 before the dream for the scholarship could be realized, Johnson continued advocating for its creation and by 2008 the endowment threshold for the scholarship was reached. Speaking to the importance of the scholarship in light of the case of Susanne Woods, Johnson said, “the Plummer Scholarship became an acceptable way for many deeply offended people to give to the campus for the purpose of institutional change, and I think we succeeded in that.” 

Eleanor Linafelt ’20, a women’s, gender and sexuality studies (WGSS) and English double major, learned about the Woods story in the spring of her junior year while working on the WGSS digital history website. She said, “I was shocked by the story, of course, but also by the fact that I had never heard anything about it before, especially as a queer student and WGSS major fairly engaged in Wooster campus life. It occurred relatively recently but it does show how easily things can be lost in the institution’s collective memory, especially things that aren’t to be proud of.”

Outside of those researching the topic, recipients of the Plummer Scholarship may be some of the only students who hear directly about the Woods situation, and through them this history is remembered. Harry Susalla ’22, the 2021-22 recipient of the scholarship, told the Voice, “When I first found out about this moment in Wooster’s history, I was completely disappointed that the College made no effort to educate its students on its homophobic past. If the College publicly addressed this history, it would show me that they have a real commitment against bigotry, not just a performative one.”

Similarly, Mylo Parker-Emerson ’19, the 2018-19 Plummer scholar, recalled a sense of shock over hearing the story for the first time. “When I was in college right around the time it had been announced that Sarah Bolton was going to be the new president of the College, rumors started to go around about a previous President that was fired/never fully hired because she was a lesbian,” Parker-Emerson said. “I remember hearing this and being shocked because I knew about the Plummer scholarship. I remember thinking to myself how progressive of a school in 2014 to have a scholarship like this available.” They continued, “Hans describes [the scholarship] as a response to not only the silence of Wooster administration but also the blatant disregard to the queer students on campus. Which is ironic if you think about it; I was shocked that both of these things existed and yet one caused the other.”

Director of Sexuality & Gender Inclusion Melissa Chesanko also commented on the silence and its impacts both on alumni and current students. “The huge silence about the situation due to the non-disclosure agreement creates a vacuum that folks often try to fill with speculation and pieces of the truth,” she explained. “Because there has been no formal or informal resolution for the situation, many people have been unable to heal from the harm caused and also unable to move forward.”

Gall similarly spoke to this harm, stating, “In the 26 years since, there are still hurt feelings among gay alumni that this has never been addressed publicly.” He added, “Many of us (gay alumni) would like to see the Board address the handling of the Susanne Woods situation and perhaps issue an apology for their actions in 1995.”

Reflecting on how the incident relates to current students, Chesanko explained, “We often understand our own experiences through a lens of others’ experiences, and witnessing a negative climate for alumni in the past can put students’ own perspective of campus into a different light.” She also noted that the negative experiences of LGBTQ+ alumni from past decades has translated into more limited alumni engagement, “which affects students’ connections with queer and trans alumni, LGBTQIA+ centered donations and queer representation on our alumni board.”

Parker-Emerson spoke to the limited alumni engagement as well, saying, “To me, [the silence] highlights the continued effort of queer students and alumni and how that differs from institutional support. In a way it makes sense that older queer alumni aren’t as engaged, because think about what their version of the Wooster administration has showed them: silence.” 

They added, “Personally, I think if the College were to finally speak on this publicly, it would show students and alumni that they’re not alone in caring about making the College a better place, and not just for queer folks, but for every person the College goes out if its way to attract. To get to a better place, it’s best to be honest about where you’ve been and what you’ve done before.”

Finally, Chesanko emphasized the importance of representation at all levels of campus leadership. “Past leadership has put current leadership in a difficult situation by crafting this N.D.A.,” she said. “This is why it is so important to have diverse representation of all identities in positions of power, including and especially, on our Board of Trustees.”

The original 1995 Chronicle article detailing the Woods situation quoted Durham, who argued, “They didn’t need to know or not know” about Woods’ sexual orientation. “What they needed to decide is,” read the article, “can we handle it if the president is [gay]?” Without openly addressing that question at the institutional level and acknowledging the hurt that still lingers 26 years later, will Wooster be able to provide students the diverse and accepting campus it has always claimed to be?

Editor in Chief Scotlight

Lark Pinney

Features Editor

Kaylee Liu

Features Editor

 

Would you like to introduce yourselves?

C: Hi, I am Chloe Burdette, a senior here  —  almost not a senior here! I’m a communication studies major and global media and digital studies minor.

M: Hi! I’m Maggie Dougherty. I’m a senior here, and also almost not a senior here. I major in global international studies with a concentration in economics and I have a minor in Middle Eastern and North African studies.

How long have you been working for the Voice?

C: We have a little bit of a different story. I was a Contributing Writer since the second week of my freshman year. The Sports Editor at the time, Ben Blotner ’20, would ask me every week if I could write, and I just kept doing it. There’s a possibility I might’ve written more than he did that year, honestly. But I didn’t really know how the Voice worked, so I just kept contributing and contributing. Eventually, interviews were scheduled because they needed a new staff for the next year. I then was Sports Editor my sophomore year, Managing Editor my junior year and Editor in Chief my senior year.

M: I had a slightly different trajectory than Chloe. I joined in my sophomore year. I had never written for the Voice or written for a high school paper or anything, but I decided to apply to be the News Editor and I got it, so I was the editor for that first semester, then I went abroad. Then I came back and I was Viewpoints Editor, and I was going to be Viewpoints Editor again this year, but our fall semester Editor in Chief ended up being a remote student for the spring semester, so I stepped up as Editor in Chief.

What have been some of your favorite memories from your time at the Voice? I know it’s hard to pick a few, it’s all been awesome.

M: I think Voice formal was really fun. The thing is that a lot of people in the Voice just happen to be in some other organizations. The Effective Altruism formal is one of my favorite Voice memories because so many Voice people showed up there. So, my favorites are the opportunities we get to hang out with Voice people outside the Voice, and the times we’re silly in the office and everyone is chaotic and yelling, or when we’re working on serious stories and it feels really important. Those are definitely the best times.

C: Yeah, I think for me it’s the fact that the Voice is not strictly a serious atmosphere. The best part is that coming to the Voice office, although stressful, relaxes me from my day. I can give myself the chance to talk to some people I really enjoy being around. That’s the best part.

M: It’s controlled chaos. It’s chaos, but it’s fun. It’s chaos, but it’s not the pressure of your day-to-day life.

Conversely, what would you say is the hardest part of being in the Voice?

C: Honestly, it’s very difficult when people don’t honor their commitments to write. You have to put your pride aside when you’re in the Voice because you do have to annoy people. If they say they’re going to write and they don’t turn in the article, you have to send them multiple emails. It might look annoying to them, but you have to stay really insistent on getting writers to be responsible. 

M: It’s annoying to us when they don’t finish their work, too.

C: I would also say that another major difficulty is that we’re student-run. Yes, we have an advisor, but the system works so they don’t have to be very hands-on. We have to train each group of staff class by class. People do it differently from year to year, so it can be chaotic. I think that if you don’t have the right leadership — sometimes that can be a little bit difficult. 

M: Aside from being a huge time commitment, I would say that we’re responsible for an important part of campus, and people have really strong feelings about it. Sometimes we mess up, or don’t do something in the way that people would want. It’s frustrating when people are really critical about things they don’t necessarily understand, like when somebody complains about where something is on the page, it’s often because that’s the only place that it would fit and we were trying to give that person more words. But overall, I guess it’s the burden we shoulder.

C: Another thing is that we’re not paid! It cracks me up that my actual bosses from my actual paid job are like, “You probably work way over the hours you’re allowed to,” and I’m like, “Well, I’m not paid to work at the Voice,” and they’re like, “What?!” And I’m like, “No!” This is all because we enjoy it. So, yeah, that can also wear you down a little bit.

M: Stop critiquing our free labor. (laughing) We’re doing our best. 

What is something that you’ve been the proudest of during your time here, like an article you’ve written or a direction you’ve pushed the paper in?

M: I would say two things. The first is just that, even in this really hard time, I think we’ve actually managed to preserve a good community at the Voice and maintain the atmosphere despite us moving, despite COVID-19 and all of these major changes. Honestly, I’m really excited about the staff that we have going into next year and how many people were excited about applying to the Voice. Then for me, personally, I think that it’s the Lowry article. It’s made a pretty big impact. It’s the longest single article I’ve worked on during my time at the Voice. It meant so much for the alumni who I was working with to see that finally come out after all that process. So that’s definitely the big one for me.

C: Yeah, I definitely think I can agree with the fact that it’s been really difficult trying to do the Voice justice in a pandemic with all the restrictions that we have. So, I think I’m proud of what we’ve produced in this crazy, chaotic time. I have two favorite articles I’ve written. One was when Coach Pettorini of the baseball team was retiring. Saeed Husain ’21 and I did a two-page, in-depth article on his career here, and it was really cool to get his input on it. Secondly, I did an article my sophomore year that focused on the merger of the women’s golf team and the men’s golf team under one coach. I think that was really difficult for not only the coaches, but the players. So that meant a lot to me to write — I felt like I had made a difference. It’s amazing how much the Voice has a reach and can make a difference not only on this campus, but beyond this campus as well.

M: On a lighter note, I unbiasedly feel that this year’s Vice was the funniest we’ve ever had during my time at Wooster. I was so excited because I missed it my first year when I was abroad and then my second year because of COVID-19. The Vice is always a highlight, but it was especially good this year.

What advice would you have for this upcoming year’s staff or people who are not on the staff but want to work with us?

C: Obviously, we’ve selected next year’s senior editors because we have a lot of faith in them.We are immensely proud of what they’ve done at the Voice thus far. But I think some good advice is to try not to get super frustrated. It’s very, very, very difficult when people don’t understand how much work you guys put into the Voice. I think that’s something that can be really stressful for a lot of people. Try not to get frustrated. Understand that people don’t know how much work you guys put into it day to day. Keep in mind that people don’t know the full story. Wink-wink, that was kind of funny. Stay focused on the end goal.

M: I second everything Chloe said. But also, I think the other thing is to do stories that you’re interested in. I think other people will be more engaged when you do that. If there’s something you want to write about but it’s not necessarily like news or features you can usually find, you can approach it from an angle like “this is how students feel about this thing going on,” so that you can cover something that we wouldn’t otherwise be writing about. So, if you’re passionate about something, don’t let the fact that there’s not a “story” keep you from doing that. Pursue something that’s interesting, because that’s what people will read.

C: For anyone wanting to write for The Voice: Just reach out. The number of times that we’ve needed writers for something and the number of people that have approached me and said, “I wish I came to you at some point in my career at Wooster,” or just said, “Oh, well, I kind of wanted to write about this, but I didn’t know if it would be stupid or not, so I didn’t ask.” Nine times out of ten, it’s not stupid, and we will accept. Give it a shot. When I gave it a shot my freshman year, it’s obviously taken me to this place that I’m at right now.

What is something you’re excited about after graduation?

M: A break. It’s just that we’ve been in this Wooster bubble for so long that it’ll be nice to rediscover what real life is like and have time alone, and not have all of these same commitments that we’ve been doing for a long time. My time here at Wooster is very scheduled and very habitual. Like, I have a strong routine, and I love that, but it’ll also be nice to break that and explore new things. And go into the real world and be an adult and do adult things. Like maybe having a job one day. Who knows.

C:  I’m excited to — well, I’m anxious-excited — to get back into the swing of things and go into the job search. It’s the same thing as Maggie — breaking those habits that you’ve done every single day for the last four years that can kind of get a little bit mundane, especially in Nowhere, Ohio. I’m excited to go and explore places that I’ve never been since I’ve been in Ohio my whole life.

M: To add to that, I was traveling right before the pandemic. I was supposed to travel a lot in 2020, and that didn’t happen. So I hope that the world reopens and I can go to places other than Ohio and Virginia. That’d be great.

Finally, do you have anything to say to encourage people to join the Voice?

C: Do it. Just do it. Sponsored by Nike. 

100 gecs leaves 100 questions about hyperpop

Geoffrey Allen

Contributing Writer

 

Has the music medium truly progressed over the years in terms of quality? With the accessibility of production equipment, the convenience of sharing tracks online and the ability to create new voices, new music is popping up just about every second. One genre that stands as a testament to this is the alternate electronic sound of ‘hyperpop.’ Popularized by artists like the Charli XCX and the late Sophie, as well as social media exposure on platforms like TikTok, hyperpop has gradually taken the world by storm. It’s hardly a surprise that this experimental sound has made its way to The College of Wooster, despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s limitations. However, the way this unique artform was introduced to the student body through this year’s digital Springfest was far from conventional, nor was it the most accommodating.

Enter one of hyperpop’s greatest champions: 100 gecs. The dynamic duo, Laura Les and Dylan Brady, uses preexisting music remixed with extreme pitching and vocals and vibrating basses to create something familiar and alien at the same time. Yet their style wasn’t the most surprising element of the show last Saturday.

Unlike more professional performances, like the over-the-top spectacle of Super Bowl halftime shows, we were simply greeted on camera by the two artists, who spent most of their time playing altered and distorted music from what appeared to be a room in an apartment. Most of the tracks, songs like Utada Hikaru’s “Simple And Clean” and Playboi Carti’s “Love Hurts,” were not even in their own discography. A few of their own songs made an appearance, like “stupid horse,” in which Dylan Brady sang some of the lyrics. The audio, perhaps the part of musical performance that stood out the most, was of poor quality because it was not played from the computer itself. With masks and black sunglasses, the artists appeared elusive, as if they were some doppelgangers who shared the same hair and physique as the real Les and Brady. “Are we in a remote class?” I thought to myself. My roommate and I originally thought the performance was a gag on the style of meetings through platforms, but it lasted the whole hour. It subverted expectations, for sure, which may have caught many viewers off guard, but I can’t help but feel disappointed.

Hyperpop is still an alien form of music to many, especially on a first listen. While I have been exposed to other hyperpop music, many students experienced it for the first time last weekend, and I don’t think many could say it was great. Perhaps the performers were unprepared for a live performance, or maybe they hoped  to comment on the lack of authenticity in traditional musical performances. Regardless, I’d argue that the performance failed to make a meaningful impression on behalf of a new sound in today’s young music culture. Even if 100 gecs didn’t give any laughs or excitement after the Springfest performance, their music, amongst that of other similar artists, should. It’s always worth giving new music a try.

The Official Student Newspaper of the College of Wooster since 1883