"Hollywood" by Shinya Suzuki is licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-ND 2.0 (via Flickr)

Recently, we have seen some upward changes to the Hollywood film industry. For example, six Black actors from four movies were nominated for this year’s Oscar awards, unlike the past two #OscarsSoWhite years. These nominated movies are about, directed by and/or starred by Black people. The 68th Emmy Awards nominees and winners are also a diverse group of actors and actresses. But has the industry really become more inclusive?

Screen Capture of "Arrival Trailer (2016) by Paramount Pictures (via Youtube)

Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for Arrival and Passengers.

If you were to see your life unfold ahead of you, with all of the triumphs but interspersed with the tragedies in all of their grittiness and grief, would you choose to experience it, in all of that detail? Not just in spite of the inconveniences and harms, not full of regrets, but could you wholeheartedly say “Yes!” to the life that will be, or has been, yours?

"Indian Ocean" by Sonara Arnav is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (via Flickr)

The world only knows Indian music from Bollywood’s “filmy” ballads and cinematic love songs. Music in India seems to enter the world in few forms other than through the cinema industry.  However, Bollywood does an incomplete job of representing the music of India just as the iTunes charts would to Americarepresenting only the big, mainstream record artists. Under the wraps of a Bollywood-obsessed entertainment scene, there is a burgeoning independent Indian music industry that is teeming with life and passion. It is young, determined, and rebellious. This indie music industry surfaces many interesting questions about art’s longstanding struggle against capitalist values and the role of anti-establishment industries in societies like India’s.

"Public Enemy in Hamburg/Germany 2000" by MikaV is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Hip-hop music began in the 1980s, and was primarily a means for African American communities to express commentary and frustration related to politics, discrimination, and common struggles often related to race relations. Crucially, music was being used to give voice to a people that has traditionally been suppressed or discounted because of the effects of systemic racism in the American political institution. One of the most significant groups to pioneer this genre was Public Enemy, whose music focused largely on sociopolitical commentary.

"Opera House" by wikiImages is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via Pixabay)

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a singer. I was that child who always told her friends and family that she was going to be on American Idol when she turned sixteen, but was actually talent-less, which usually fostered an encouraging pat on the back and an “oh, that’s nice, dear,” from amused adults. Thanks to several outstanding music educators, I fortunately grew into my voice in high school, and decided I wanted to pursue a career in opera.

"Obama Greets the cast and crew of Hamilton" by Pete Souza is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via Wikimedia Commons)

Recently, Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended a performance of the smash Broadway musical, Hamilton. During closing curtain remarks, Pence was directly addressed by the cast of the musical. The address encouraged Pence and the rest of the Trump administration to uphold their promise to truly be an administration working toward the welfare of all Americans. The cast expressed that the diversity represented in their multi-ethnic retelling of the founding of America is a true representation of the American dream and that Trump’s administration should respect the diversity so cherished in American values. You can view the full video of the address here.

"Bon Iver@Stockholm" by danieljordahl is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

In a recent feature article for Pitchfork, an online music magazine, contributor Steve Marsh follows Justin Vernon, the lead singer and founder of the band Bon Iver, who spent a week in Berlin alongside his band and 85 other artists. Their week-long sojourn in Berlin was framed around creating a series of collaborations that would be presented at the end of the week  to 4,500 listeners in a two-day long nameless music festival. This undertaking coincided with the release of Bon Iver’s third album: “22, A Million”.  

"Javanese Gamelan" by Gunawan Kartapranata is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

The majority of the classical music we know and love today has been steeped in European traditions for generations. It is not uncommon, however, to see hints of other cultures within classical music composition. Sometimes this is done as an authentic ode to another culture’s music, but can also be exploitative if not done with proper knowledge and respect for the culture.

"Massey hall, toronto, April 18, 1980" by Jean-Luc Ourlin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (via Wikipedia)

Bob Dylan has won countless music awards throughout his career, but his most recent award – a Nobel Prize in Literature – has left many confused. The debate boils down to what can be considered “literature.” Webster’s Dictionary defines literature as “written works (such as poems, plays, and novels) that are considered to be very good and to have lasting importance.” Although Dylan’s poems were performed musically, the actual lyrics seem to meet this definition. However, many still debate both the eligibility of Dylan’s work, as well as the reasoning behind awarding him over up-and-coming writers.

Book Cover provided via Macmillan Press

“I’ve been charged with a crime so heinous that busting me for possession of marijuana on federal property would be like charging Hitler with loitering and a multinational company like British Petroleum with littering after fifty years of exploding refineries, toxic spills and emissions, and a shamelessly disingenuous advertising campaign.”

The criminal in question is the narrator of Paul Beatty’s novel, “The Sellout,” who is  sitting in the United States Supreme Court, reflecting on the actions that have landed him there, all whilst preparing a bowl of marijuana, which he will proceed to smoke then and there. What is he charged with? The outlandish charges of owning a slave and segregating a public school—charges that he is actually guilty of committing. Told in reverse chronology, the story is grounded by its setting, the fictional ghetto of Dickens in the outskirts of Los Angeles, which happens to have been recently removed from the map of California: vanished, as if it was never there. The novel follows the narrator’s enactment and plotting of his “crimes” as a way to reassert Dickens, its inhabitants, and put it back on the map.