Media Review

Hillbilly Elegy: a Review

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis is a memoir written by self-proclaimed hillbilly and venture capitalist, J.D. Vance. It’s a story of his life growing up in poverty in Ohio and Kentucky, and how one man was able to beat the odds with the help of his grandmother, Mamaw.

It’s a very informative book with a ton of insight into Appalachia and Appalachian culture, which is rarely represented in movies, tv shows, or books. 20% of residents in Appalachia live in poverty, compared to the 15.6% nationwide. I think that, had I read this book prior to the Trump election, I probably would have loved it. After the Trump presidency though, it feels like another think piece, albeit a long one, on how ignoring blue collar workers in this country has gotten us to the mess that we are in. Intellectually, I can see that, I can; but reading this often made me very angry, knowing that a large portion of my family are not, in fact, blue collar workers and still voted for Trump. That despite all the claims, really it was wealthy white voters that propelled Trump to the White House. It was interesting reading how many of his family members were dyed in the wool democrats, until recently.

It was a heartfelt story about how love and perseverance got Vance through his treacherous years living with his mother as a child, and all the horrors of addiction Appalachians, as well as many other regions, face, but in the end I just came away somewhat angry. I don’t even know if it was anger at these regions, that I know voted so overwhelmingly for Trump, and ultimately against their own best interests, or if I was just mad at the way the entire system is setup to benefit the wealthy and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is just a pipe dream. Either way, I was pretty angry throughout the whole book. It was a righteous anger at so many different things and for that, I can’t help but suggest you read this book and expect not to love it, but learn from it.

 

Media Review - Into the Badlands

by Emily R.

If you’re anything like me, you like to escape into a fictional world every so often. Maybe you *used* to enjoy a good romp through the post-apocalyptic wasteland, but now it seems a little too much like watching the future. But if you’re still into post-apocalyptic dystopia, let me recommend AMC’s Into the Badlands to you.

While I’m no expert on the genre, I’ve watched and read the highlights. I’m familiar with Mad Max. I watched season after season of The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead. I watched and read The Hunger Games and the Divergent series. I loved the graphic novel for I Am Legend, though the I give the movie a so-so. I watched The Road, though I it didn’t really speak much to me.

Every Sunday night, I eagerly anticipate Into the Badlands. Here are some of the reasons why:

 

  1. Humor. One thing that I find eminently true of humans is that we can find moments of humor in the darkest of times. I’m not talking about a giant yuk-fest, but some humor goes a long way to break up what would otherwise be a depressing slog. It’s something that is frequently missing from these bleak futurescapes.

  2. Martial Arts. One thing about the future is that there’s a lot of fighting. This isn’t really surprising, since fighting figures prominently into our past and present. But in the Into the Badlands dystopia, guns were banned (suspend your disbelief at that working), leaving us with some highly skilled martial artists. The show has a nice balance of story and fighting, so there’s a reason for the action that’s not wholly spurious all of the time.

  3. Diversity of Cast. OK, so there are still a lot of white people in this future, so it’s not perfect. But I do like that it’s not ONLY white people in this future, or at least mostly white people and a smattering of not-white people. And it’s not just the Chinese actors that are brilliant martial artists. And the political structure isn’t broken out along racial lines. It makes for a better viewing experience, because to my mind it makes that future more likely. It also makes the location less fixed in my mind.

  4. The Story. Fundamentally, there’s all the things that make for a good human drama. There’s forbidden love. There’s betrayal. There’s power and politicking and political upheaval. There’s failure and redemption. You know, the things that keep you coming back for more.

  5. Costuming and Set Design. This dystopia has some mad design skills, and we’ll leave it at that.

 

All in all, if you’ve not dived in yet, you should. It’s easily a million times better than rolling your eyes as Negan, yet again, proves himself to be a really terrible person.