Text Review Assignment – Aladdin (M. Enderbury)

Film Review - Aladdin (2019) | MovieBabble

This 2019 Disney adaptation of the original 1992 animated film, Aladdin, follows a young Arabian “street rat” and his pet monkey Abu as well as the Arabian Princess Jasmine, both of whom struggle immensely with power and identity issues much like what we’ve discussed in this course. In the film, a young, ambitious thief named Aladdin travels the streets of Agrabah with Abu when he meets Princess Jasmine, the daughter of the Sultan who sneaks away from her secluded kingdom to visit the town. She is taken aback (in a good way) by his mysterious persona and the danger and adrenaline that comes with their interaction. Aladdin then gets himself caught up in a power and identity struggle, in which he is recruited to find a magic lamp with a genie inside. He utilizes his findings and the magic genie to change almost everything about himself to be a better suitor for Jasmine and convince her and her father that he is some high Prince from a nonexistent land. All the while, Jasmine is experiencing a power struggle with her father over becoming the next Sultan, as her father is stuck on the traditional view of hierarchy within the kingdom and that is that a woman could never be Sultan, regardless of his love for his daughter.

Through Aladdin’s identity struggle, we see him battle back and forth with the genie over pretending to be someone he isn’t for Jasmine, who we as the audience know already liked him as he was prior to the glitz and glam of becoming a prince. The power and fame eventually comes crashing down on him, as the jealous vizier to the Sultan Jaffar strips Aladdin of his magic and reveals his true identity in front of both Jasmine and the Sultan. This teaches us to always be true to ourselves, as the person we are meant to be with will love us for who we are and not who we think they want us to be.

Princess Jasmine’s power struggle is depicted by her father’s constant efforts to find her a suitor who would then become Sultan, instead of breaking tradition and giving her the title on her own regardless of her marital status. She is constantly trying to prove to him that she is intelligent and powerful enough to assume the role, and she also makes an effort to empathize with the people whom she would rule over. Eventually, after Jaffar’s efforts to overthrow the Sultan, Jasmine’s father recognizes her abilities to lead the great city of Agrabah and grants her the title of “Sultana-Regnant” in which she gets to rule without the requirement of marriage.

This Disney filmed is packed with lessons taught to us throughout the course regarding identity and sticking to one’s true self. A few questions can be raised from watching the film. Specifically, how far do we as humans need to go to prove our own identity? How long will women have to continue this struggle of not being seen as equal within the roles of leadership in these countries and around the world? There is a lot we can learn about ourselves hidden in this live-action rendition of Aladdin.

Text Review of Casa de Papel: Season 1

I am choosing my Text Review to cover something that has several interesting elements to analyze. La Casa de Papel, specifically the first season is something that brings up analysis of world literature in the context of Spanish-speaking cast and Spanish culture as the setting of the show for the most part takes place in Spain. In the first season, we can see that there is a conflict forming in the criminals who take a government facility hostage as well as law enforcement. This is a classic cops vs robbers identities which tends to focus on the fact that cops are noble, and robbers never win. What is unique is how the perspective of the show focuses on the robbers and their struggle to work together in a noble effort of making a living and being successful at what they attempted to do. In the beginning, they are othered as media and law enforcement focuses on the cruelty and danger of the situation not focusing on the fact that the Professor and those involved do not want to hurt anyone at all. These constant encounters cause public disdain until we understand more and more how cruel the law enforcement is when dealing with the hostage situation. Injustices are seen in this show more so as affecting the robbers as they are humanized and not othered to the audience throughout the show. This power dynamic also develops as members throughout the group reveal themselves through the show and what they truly believe. It is not just a battle between good and evil but rather between themselves as they have a plan to work towards but cannot stay on track due to the stress. Even as they are mostly of the same culture, there is a large discrepancy between the different classes shown in how they treat different people from the law enforcement side. Even homosexuality plays a part in the power dynamic and unfair treatment of some of the robbers as things intensify. The first season displays a more human development of characters in high intensity situations and uniquely with the perspective of the robbers in the show as they battle those who are considered to be othering them. Because of the different culture displayed, some things might seem out of the norm to everyone in the class, but what remains constant is the shifting dynamics and what can be analyzed from the course such as othering of each group by media or even single story flaws from law enforcement to even concepts of intersectionality within the criminal group themselves as they identify with different sexual orientations, ethnicities, and even genders.

Text Review – Narcos (C. Miller)

U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Officers stand over Pablo Escobar's dead body after years of chasing the elusive drug trafficker.
In this text review, I chose to analyze one of my favorite Netflix series: Narcos. Specifically, the season finale that concludes with Pablo Escobar’s death was an episode packed with varying themes and pertains to racial intersections we’ve seen in the course. For context, Pablo Escobar died on a rooftop in Medellin, Colombia, after a shootout with local law enforcement. After his drug empire went down, he was evading the police for a year after escaping the prison he was allowed to construct for himself. Police were ultimately able to track Pablo down via phone call tracking and monitoring, however for some time he had been able to exist under the radar in plain sight.
Part of what made Pablo so difficult to take down and ultimately arrest was that he had so much power, influence, and money. At one point during his life, he considered running for President of Colombia, and was awarded a congressional seat. Additionally, he had the alliance of the local people who he would pay off (in his eyes “pay forward”) for their support. To many, Pablo was just like them and emerged from nothing, embodying a true success story. People dedicated shrines to him and looked to him as royalty, even with knowledge of the death, destruction, and corruption he was single handedly responsible for.
Pablo arguably would have been taken down earlier in his lifetime if local authorities and intelligence agencies cooperated more transparently with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Throughout the show, we see conflicts between the DEA and local officials in terms of jurisdictional issues, information, and corruption. Ultimately this relates to many power struggles we witnessed during this course and the intersection of the DEA being from America made their jobs more difficult as they were not trusted by locals for some time. To me, it was shocking to consider how many lives could have been saved if biases were overcome earlier on, and the levels of corruption and power manipulation could have been mitigated.

The People vs. OJ Simpson, An American Crime Story– Text Review

Many people know what happened in the OJ Simpson Case–but for those who don’t, it still lives up to the drama it created in 1994. Orenthal James Simpson was an NFL football player who was accused of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Nicole’s then boyfriend, Ron Goldman. The prosecution felt that OJ Simpson was likely upset about Nicole seeing someone new, and he went over to fight with her but he snapped and killed her and her boyfriend instead. The defense team argued that OJ could’ve never done such a thing and said that this was all a ploy by one of the detectives to make a famous Black man fall. The detective was a racist, so most, if not all, of the evidence he found–the gloves, the hairs, and blood–were not accepted by the jury as true. **Spoiler Alert** Because of the defense’s ability to prove that OJ couldn’t have done it, he was acquitted on all charges.

The main focus of the trial were the race issues that were going on between the prosecution and defense. Additionally, the Rodney King riots had just happened a few years prior, so the people of Los Angeles were already upset. The defense argued that this was just the LAPD practicing unfair policing and painted the racist detective to have a personal issue with OJ because he had been to OJ’s house numerous times. They also used the races and opinions of the jurors to their favor because they knew that most Black people didn’t believe OJ did it. They did so by effectively “othering” the other jurors and making them feel like they were racist for not supporting OJ. The prosecution held strong to facts about DNA and evidence that was found at the scene, but they were essentially crippled by the racist detective/officer because he said that all Black people should go to jail and that he’s allowed to beat them senseless. They did not play the same media/publicity game that the defense team played, which left them playing catch up in court. There are power struggles clearly seen in this documentary–between poor and rich and between Black and white. The disparities have a widespread impact on the people involved in the case and living in Los Angeles.

I think that the writers of this documentary wanted us to see that there was more at play in this case than just what happened in the courtroom. They were illustrating how many things worked together to get the outcome of acquittal and that the case was very dramaticized and full of gossip.

I have attached the trailer for those who want to see it.

Text Review “Beasts of No Nation”

In this text review assignment, I chose to look at a movie called “ Beasts of No Nation”. This was a movie on Netflix based on a book that takes a look into injustice and horrible Environment that some children face in this world. The movie centers around a young child in Africa where a civil war has broken out. The main character is named Agu and he lived in a village that’s a buffer zone from the war with his family. One day they get the news that the government has fallen and the rebels have seized control over the country. As Agu and his family try to leave the village it gets attacked and his family dies while he escapes. On his own, in the jungle, Agu meets a group of young kids around his age who are soldiers in this war. Only left with the option to join this group of kid soldiers Agu takes part in this war. Throughout the movie, Agu fights and kills many people during this war. It takes a look at the psychological damage this does to the kids who are forced to kill in order to survive. One way these kids learn to deal with this damage is by using drugs. There are many injustices showcased in this movie and it shows how bad this world really is. If we break down this movie more we can see examples of the concept we have talked in class. The concept of othering can be seen throughout the movie, the rebel group and people are all from the same country but they consider themself different from the other group. This hate and animosity against each group lead them to kill each other and even innocent families that have nothing to do with this. This movie also showcases many other forms of injustices like genocide, Child labor, and social classes. This movie does a great job of showing the societal problems that arise from these kinds of injustices. Hopefully, we can learn from this movie on how society can end up if people don’t learn to accept each other and only rely on violence for the solution.

Text Review Emily in Paris – J.Li

For this assignment, I decided to explore Emily in Paris. This is a Netflix Original TV show about a young adult American from Chicago that moves to Paris for an unexpected job opportunity. Once she makes her move to Paris, there is definitely a culture shock. Her American culture and the culture in Paris clash as she tries to adjust to the challenges of life in Paris all while juggling her career, love life, and friendships.

Although it may seem like this is not harmful to anyone, the closer you look the entire show is completely ignorant of French culture. The show is centered around the fact that Americans are superior. When Emily started working at her marketing firm here in Paris, the majority of her coworkers were very mean to her. Later on, it was explained that the reason why they were mean to her was that her “American thinking” is so next level that it inspires them to work harder. After all, they are “intimidated” by her work ethic. This makes the viewers believe the stereotype that the lifestyle there is super laid back and no one takes their job seriously. It makes the audience believe that Americans are superior to other foreign countries. In this case, the French are the “Other” while Americans are depicted as the “One”. In almost every episode, the show makes Emily miraculously “save the day” because she knows what is best for the company and that she is very experienced with social media, unlike the French. They make her out to be the hero in this TV show but really it is just plain ignorant. Since this show has come out, it has received a lot of backlash from major news outlets in France in which they called the show embarrassing. Despite all of this backlash, this show was renewed for a second season. I really hope that if they do decide to come out with another season, it should be a completely different approach from what happened in the first.

Emily in Paris' Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix - Variety

Lily Collins plays Emily

Text Review–Crash (Zenan Zhang)

Started by a car accident, Crash does not only tell the story started by this crash but also show us the crash between different classes, races and identities. An interesting point is that the film unfolds in flashback. It shows the accident at the first and then back to the day before. One day before the crash, the district attorney and his wife were robbed by two black men. They are afraid of further robberies so they changed the locks on their home. But the hostess doesn’t trust the locksmith because he was colored with tattoo. There is a worthy thinking going on here. While his wife are afraid, the attorney ,who is a white, is considering the way to minimize the impact of this event since he doesn’t want to lose the support from the black voters. Story goes on. The white policeman is dissatisfied with the black doctor’s unwillingness to change his father’s doctor, so he takes out his anger on the innocent black director and his wife. The direct witnessed his wife being insulted but did nothing since he doesn’t want to create conflict.But the irony is that in the end it was the white policeman who saved the director’s wife. Then the scene changed. The Persian merchant did not trust the locksmith’s words because of his appearance and refused to change the door, leading to the destruction of his shop. And he blames this to the locksmith and want to get back at him. But he is saved by the locksmith’s daughter. The young policeman protected the black director because he witnessed the unreasonable or even unfair actions of his partner, but still shot and killed a black man by mistake due to the habit of the white people and their prejudice against the black people. In the end, these seemingly unrelated stories tie together and make up the beginning of the movie —- The crash.

The whole movie is filled with conflicts among people with different identities and a lot of injustices. Many of these are discussed throughout the semester. For instance, Gun shop owner doesn’t want to sell gun to the Persian merchant since he thought all Middle Eastern people are Arabs and are dangerous. We definitely have a much deeper understanding of this when we were doing the reading of The Reluctant Fundamentalist. I think this film could be a good start for our class since it really brings us audience about what is systematical injustices. Some of the things that may seem politically correct to us may just be a compromise with what we called politically incorrect. How ironic it is. In my opinion, the film actually bring us a hopeful future. In the end, another crash happens. But as Christmas snowflakes fall, other vehicles carry on as usual and people move on to the New Year. It is true that crash can lead to destruction but it can also promote integration.

Text Review: 12 Angry Men

The film that i would like to review today is one that came out before any of us was born. This film came out in 1957, which was nearly 64 years ago. This film is about 12 white men that make up the jury at a trial for a child of color. When they first go into the back room to discuss the verdict of the case, they first start talking about sports and their own personal lives rather than discussing the actual case.

The 18 year old child was accused for murdering his father and that is why the trial came about in the first place. The man in the eighth chair is the only one that elected and said that he wasn’t sure if the kid was guilty or not. The other 11 men were displeased because they wanted the trial to be over as soon as possible and barely listened to the trial.

The eighth man at the table brings up the child’s life and how it has been nothing but struggles and hardships. Meanwhile a few of the other man seem to judge the child by his cover, so to speak and think that he is just like the rest of the troubled children. The man in the 2nd chair brings up the fact that there was a witness but she was across the railroad tracks and claims she saw it happened when a train was passing at that time. The man in the eighth chair brings up that the only reason they think he is guilty is because he is one of “them” implying a person of color.

One of the men at the table bring up the fact that the child was from the slums and that everyone who comes from the slums is a criminal. Basically singling out a specific part of town saying that everyone born there is bad. No matter what.

One by one every man changed his mind from guilty to not guilty. All because one man believed. This film shows how 11 men racially and socially discriminated one person simply because of his color and where he grew up. I would recommend this film to anyone because it is very eye opening and keeps you on the edge of the seat for the entire trial/movie.

Text Review – This Is Us (M. Bartel)

This Is Us has been a popular T.V. show on NBC and is currently airing the fifth season. The show is about the lives of three “twin” siblings: Randall, Kate, and Kevin. Kate and Kevin are biological siblings, however their third twin died at birth, and that is when their parents, Jack and Rebecca, adopted Randall. The show focuses on the past and present day, giving the viewer a glimpse of their past allows the viewer to understand where underlying emotions and trauma come from in the characters lives today. The show tackles tons of heavy issues that we see at the forefront of today’s society. Season 5 really emphasizes the topics of socioeconomic class and racism.

Socioeconomic class is evident after both Kate and Kevin have children. Kevin is an actor and has money easily at his dispense, never thinking about a purchase or transaction. On the other hand, Kate and her husband Toby are struggling to get by. Especially after Toby loses his job during the COVID 19 pandemic. The show depicts how this financial strain leaves Toby and Kate with tough decisions. They can’t afford childcare or to have a full-time nanny like Kevin and his wife are able too, so one of them has to stay at home and compromise their contribution to financial earnings. This is just one example of socioeconomic class on display in the show.

Racism is heavy topic on season five as well. Season five has a strong focus on Randall and his childhood. Randall expresses his feelings about growing up as a black boy in a white home, white school, and white community. After bottling up many emotions and looking past many racist comments towards him growing up he finally decides to share with Kate and Kevin how he felt during their childhood. During this time there are lots of flashbacks and reflections of their childhood that display the racism and treatment Randall experienced. This topic reminded me a lot of our time spent reflecting on “Can the Subaltern Speak?”. In Randall’s childhood he felt powerless and felt as though he was restricted to expressing himself and adhering to the world around him. I think the series also relates to Adichie’s, The Danger of A Single Story. Kate and Kevin always had the perception that Randall had a great childhood, just as they did. However, it wasn’t until they grew up and Randall expressed his feelings that Kate and Kevin saw their childhood through his viewpoint.

Overall, I think this show does a great job of addressing current day social injustices and tackling tough conversations in a way that viewers feel connected with.


Text Review: Parasite– C. Lenk

This Oscar winning movie directed by Bong Joon-ho tells a story about a lower-class family (the Kims) in South Korea who is able to fool a wealthy class-family (the Parks) to employ them.  The Parks have no idea that the Kims are related, and the Kims try their best to keep these lucrative jobs amongst the seemingly brutal job market in Seoul.  This move is put together beautifully and is entertaining the whole way through.  What really makes this movie phenomenal is the way it is able to expose and exemplify the polarizing differences between the lower and upper classes.  While this movie takes place on South Korea, the socioeconomic disparities and hardships can be made relatable to people across the world.  Some of the conditions the Kims have to face are brutal and unjust.

The main issue that was explored in this film is how the extremely wealthy and the lower class interact with each other.  The funny thing is the first time I watched this movie I thought the name ‘Parasite’ referred to the lower class family relying on the wealthy family for a steady source of income, but now I think it represents this wealthy family needing the Kims to get through everyday life.  This seems to be a purposeful message conveying how in a capitalist society the rich rely heavily on the mass majority (the lower and middle classes).  As the movie progresses I noticed more and more how inhumane the Park family treated the Kims at specific instances.  There were blatant examples showing how the Park parents treated the Kims as less important than their family.

This movie invokes Aijaz Ahmad’s ideas of the self and the other.  The differences in status of the Kim and Park family create a divided sense of the self and the other.  At the beginning of the movie it is clear that the Kims view their family as the “self” and the Parks as the naïve “other” that they are able to trick for their own benefit, and throughout the entirety of the movie the Parks view their family as the “self”, and the Kims as the “other”—merely a group of people that make their lives more convenient and structured.  However, once the Kims have worked for the Parks for a substantial amount of time, the Kims (particularly the father) start to feel othered by the Parks; some of the conclusions they seem to come to are that the Parks are only nice because they are wealthy and that the Parks view them solely as servants and employees.

I do not want to spoil any part of this movie, but I would like to point out that there are large pieces of this film (including the conflicts that occur when there is greed and fear involved) that I have not addressed; watching this film will without a doubt keep you interested the whole way through.  I think you can get the most out of this movie if you think about the issues, relationships, and identities being addressed while watching it.

An interior pic of the Kim’s house

An Interior Pic of the Park’s House