by Rebecca Green
In my College Composition I class last semester, I assigned a personal narrative essay to my students. When I initially reviewed the project guidelines, I was worried. What if they won’t gain anything from this essay? What if they struggle to connect sources to their own personal experience?
I was hesitant, but I knew my students deserved the opportunity to write about themselves, to be creative, to take risks and not feel restricted by strict project expectations. I prepared them as best as I could: we spent weeks close reading, responding to sources, discussing our topics, and partaking in creative free-write exercises as a class. We talked about writing as a process, instead of a five paragraph formula. When that fateful Friday night arrived in which students were expected to hand in their essays, I sat by the computer anxiously waiting for a disaster to take place.
by Courtney R. Hall
Celebrity memoirs and autobiographies are nothing new. They act as a fruitful branch of a celebrity’s branding arsenal and are a cash cow for publishers. Spanning decades, it’s been a commonly held belief that many, if not all, of these memoirs were written by an unnamed third party, a ghostwriter. These publications would be seen as a piece of PR material created for super fans, full of fluff like a celebrity's go-to salad that they would consume daily on the set of the television program that made them famous. However, there is a shift occurring in the world of celebrity memoirs and those with fame taking control of their own narrative. Some celebrities have raised the bar for what constitutes a great celebrity memoir in an era where social media blurs the distinction between privacy and publicity and shortens the gap between stardom and the unfamous. In a post #FreeBritney culture, the public is aware of how destructive and misleading both the paparazzi and media are towards celebrities, especially those that are women. Fans are tired of being spoon fed fluff. What they now crave is authenticity.
by Lesley George
I’ll admit—I have spent hours skimming through fanfiction, picking the perfect tag to fit into the hyper-specific story I wanted to read: friends to lovers, fluff, slice of life, alternate universe (AU). There is something euphoric about being able to find a story so acutely tailored to my tastes; the only thing that could ruin the experience for me would be a misuse of a story tag [“Please use story tags correctly!” I cried]. Tropes and tags are a staple within the fandom realm and exist to satisfy the fans desire for curated content, made by other fans, involving their favorite characters. But can these markers exist outside fandom culture?
by Skyla Everwine
The most punk-rock thing I did this semester was stand in line at a UPS and try not to cry. It wasn’t the basement shows or broken guitar strings, but being at UPS at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday. I had but one task: to print nine pages, double-sided and in color. And then do that until 50 more times.
It was the fourth or fifth printer I had gone to in order to print the zine I was making. I had learned that commercial printers were hellish portals to untamable frustrations, and that making the project for my Self-Publishing course with Dr. Jason Luther was far more difficult than it needed to be. I had turned what could have been a single page mini-zine into 36 pages of digital and hand-collaged interviews.
by Bryce Morris
Since the summer of 2017, I have been writing my own social media reviews on Instagram based on pop culture topics such as film, television, comic books, and video games. Before I write my Instagram reviews, I avoid any other reviews or comments that may influence my opinion before I view the product myself. It can be difficult to prevent others from influencing my opinion. In favor of collective opinions expressed on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook becoming the determinant, the sacred days of everyone having their own distinct opinion seem to be fading into the background.
Social media sites have opened the floodgates for users to produce reviews and begin discussions of their own. Most social media users are so keen to have followers and an artificial sense of community that they will not hesitate to share misguided content. This can range widely, including news footage, articles, celebrity gossip, political prospects, and even reviews directed at several forms of media. Quite literally anyone, myself included, can go out and create a review with their smartphones or computers now, which is a scary ability that is already harming the world of entertainment. Everyone has a right to their own opinion, but when that single opinion actually stands in as the opinion of several others, then it becomes an issue within the world of creative expression.