The West Wing: A Really Good Show

Over the last 2 months, I have been watching The West Wing. This is easily one of the best shows I’ve ever watched (yes, I know it’s “old” since it ran from 1999 – 2006). It’s an American political drama about the President and the Senior Staff in the White House and the kinds of things they have to deal with while running the country. Everything about this show is so well done. It’s a beautifully written show (written by Aaron Sorkin), the characters are so likeable, and the cinematography for an early 2000s TV show is really well done.

The first character I fell in love with was Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe), Deputy Communications Director. Sam is optimistic, idealistic, smart, honest, always up for challenge, and my god can he write. He is a speech writer for the President and he has written some damn good speeches. My life goal is to be able to write as eloquently as Sam Seaborn. While Sam may seem disconnected with the other Senior Staff, his heart and his unwavering loyalty to the government and his friends are what make him work so well with the others. It took me a little while to warm up to Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford), Deputy Chief of Staff, but by the end of season 1 he was one of my faves. Josh is arguably the most brilliant political mind on the show. But he’s so much more than politics. Josh is also charming, witty, extremely loyal to his friends, and a little bit arrogant. He does some crazy things and some stupid things but at the end of the day, he smiles and you can’t help but love him. Admittedly, this show is mainly focused on CIS, white men in politics (which is exactly what real life USA politics tends to be…) but then you have CJ Cregg (Allison Janney). CJ is the White House Press Secretary and she is very aware that she is “a woman in a man’s job.” CJ is such a strong female character, which is one of the reasons I love her so much. She is confident and poised, she can hold her own, she’s not afraid to tell others how she feels, and she is damn good at her job. I mean, who else could feed a room of hungry reporters? She’s also not afraid to be a little bit feminine now and again. She also has some of the best one-liners in the show that just make you go “ooh damn.” There are so many other characters on the show that I adore, actually there’s not many I don’t like, but Sam, Josh, and CJ are by far my favourites.

This show also deals with real government issues. During President Jed Bartlet’s (Martin Sheen) administration, they constantly brought up how education was a top priority. This really made me see how messed up the USA education system is. The public school system is not like the public school system in the USA. In the USA, I think around 20% of students go to public school and 80% go to private school. This may not seem like a big deal but the sad thing about this is that the students who go to public school are typically lower income and the schools aren’t as good, which puts the students at a disadvantage. And not all public schools are equal in the USA, which is why parents spend so much time trying to get their kids into a “good” school. It’s easy to see and understand why President Bartlet cares so much about education and why it’s something that all the characters on the show are so invested in. One of the things that Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) works on and fights for a lot, especially in the early seasons, is the National Endowment for the Arts (the NEA). The NEA essentially provides funding for the arts and arts education. I for one, cannot understand why when money is short, cutting funding for the arts is always the first answer, even in the real world. The arts are important. Art can teach you so much about creativity, it breaks barriers between groups of people, and it is a means of self expression. Unfortunately, art doesn’t really pay so yes, it requires some government funding. While all the conservatives and Republicans in the White House (both in the show and in real life) seem intent on cutting funding for the arts, I really appreciate the fact that The West Wing shows how important the NEA is and by extension how important art is, as there were multiple episodes with NEA plot points and President Bartlet and the Senior Staff don’t want to cut funding for the NEA. Military issues and intervention in conflicts in other countries are also explored and are often major plots that run through several episodes. President Bartlet always carefully deliberates and consults with his national security and military advisors BEFORE using military force to solve conflicts. In later seasons, we see that the President is committed to using a peace process rather than using force to solve problems. However, much like the USA does today, sometimes the President likes to send troops in to solve other countries’ problems that aren’t theirs to solve. Of course, there are several other issues that are addressed throughout the series, especially during campaign and election years/seasons but it’s still interesting to see how the US government maybe should be handling some of the issues.

The West Wing is also just damn good television. Aaron Sorkin was the head writer and producer for the show for the first 6 seasons. The writing of this show was something else. Everything was so eloquently written, the sarcastic one-liners were amazing, and the plots kept you interested in the politics (unlike real life government). Sorkin made me care so deeply about all of the characters and the actual goings on in the White House it was really good. When I watched this show, I actually didn’t want to turn on my phone (other than to Google other info about the show/episode). I was enthralled. The cinematography of the show was also so pretty considering it was a late 90s-early 2000s show. Everything was so clean and crisp. This show is known for its “walk and talk” scenes where it’s just characters walking though the halls of the White House talking pretty fast to each other. I think these shots are super effective because it shows just how busy the White House is on a daily basis. This show also does a great job with keeping the cast fresh and interesting. This show is 7 seasons (which I think is the ideal length of a TV series) but not all the characters stick around for all 7 seasons. Old cast members go and new cast members come in but the transitions in and out are seamless and it becomes like they were always there or they had a good reason (in the story) to leave. The only problem with this is that it causes me to get emotionally invested in a whole new bunch of characters on top of the ones I’m already emotionally invested in!

I think the main takeaways from watching this show are: a) if the actual United States government functioned like it does in The West Wing, the world would be a better place and b) I appreciate the 6 week election campaign limits in Canada. I hope I’ve adequately convinced you to watch this show because I really need someone other than my family to discuss this show with!

Have you seen The West Wing? What’s your favourite part about it? Let me know in the comments!

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Movie of the Month: Spiderman Homecoming

Admittedly, I didn’t watch enough movies in July so here I am again writing about a Marvel superhero movie (it’ll be the last one for a while, I promise). First, I just have to say I can’t believe I’m only 19 and I’ve lived through three Spidermans. Since I’ve lived through three Spidermans, I thought I’d do a little compare and contrast of the three different series. Spiderman Homecoming was rebooted a little differently than The Amazing Spiderman with Andrew Garfield. The Amazing Spiderman and the original Spider-Man was definitely more of an origin story whereas we got a brief introduction to Tom Holland’s Spiderman in Captain America: Civil War. Homecoming focuses on Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as he tries to figure out his new powers mostly on his own. He’s ambitious and wants to help people, even though sometimes he gets ahead of himself. When he tries to reach out for help, no one listens because he’s just a kid so he’s on his own for the most part.

As I mentioned before, Homecoming is not an origin story like the other two were. In the first two, we start right at the very beginning with Peter Parker being bitten by a spider. Civil War was our first introduction to Tom Holland’s Spiderman but Tony Stark already knew he had powers when he “discovered” him and decided that he could potentially be an asset to The Avengers. I thought this was good because I really didn’t want to sit through the Spiderman origin story again and I’m glad I didn’t have to. I’m glad they picked up the story what was probably a few months after the getting bit by a spider at Oscorp plot. I liked that the focus was on Peter figuring out his powers, there was a little bit of this in The Amazing Spiderman, and helping the little guy and just “staying on the ground.” I also liked that the villain was not one of Spiderman’s traditional villains like Green Goblin. Because the bad guys in this movie were selling weapons with alien tech, it integrated better into the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and what may coming in Infinity War.

In terms of Spiderman’s character and personality, Maguire, Garfield, and Holland all brought something new and fresh to the role and of course some of their actual personality seeped through into Peter Parker’s personality. Peter Parker is a nerdy high school kid who goes to Midtown Science and Tech aka nerd school. I know one of the reasons they rebooted Spiderman for the third time with Tom Holland was because the producers and the fans were hellbent on having Peter Parker look like a 15 year old. However, I thought Andrew Garfield was pretty good at playing the role of a high schooler – maybe not 15 but he could’ve been a senior. Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker/Spiderman was by far the dorkiest of them all. Right down to the haircut and the glasses. He was also the most cautious and awkward when it came to using his powers. It was almost like he didn’t want to have them in the first place. I personally really liked Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker/Spiderman. He was a cooler dork with better hair and he approached his powers more scientifically, creating his own webs and gadgets. While he was cautious at first about his powers, once he understood them scientifically, he embraced them and really came into his own. He also clearly had the best control of his powers right from the start. Garfield was less awkward than Maguire in almost every aspect of the movie. Because Holland is so much younger than Garfield, he brings what I think is the truest interpretation of a 15 year old science nerd – blowing things up in science class, being on the academic decathlon team, and the dorky t-shirts that say “I lost an electron” “Are you positive?” Hahaha! He was also way more ambitious and eager to use his powers than Maguire or Garfield. You could kind of tell that he’d been mentored by Tony Stark because of his attitude and sass and wanting to show off a bit. Tony’s personality comes through, which I like because it shows that Peter really looks up to the guy and wants to be just like him, even though Tony wants Peter to be better than him. While I like that Stark is mentoring and helping out Peter, I’m really not sure how I feel about the tech-ed out Spiderman suit. I always thought the suit was just about protecting Peter’s identity, not about providing additional powers and support like the Iron Man suit.

Another thing I really liked about Homecoming is that it was way less focused on Peter’s love interest than Spider-Man with Tobey Maguire and his Peter’s relationship with Mary Jane and The Amazing Spiderman with Andrew Garfield and his Peter’s relationship with Gwen Stacy. In Homecoming, Peter obviously had a crush on Liz but getting her to like him was always less important. Multiple times, Peter chose to do Spiderman things over spending time with Liz. Peter was more interested in helping others and using his powers and finding himself rather than finding a girlfriend (which seems kind of backwards for a 15 year old boy). In all three series, there was always the question of whether or not to tell the girl that he’s Spiderman in order to win her heart but also in all three series, the girl finds out accidentally or not at all because Peter decides that keeping his identity a secret is the best way to protect the girls and keep them safe.

Overall, I liked Homecoming. Although I hope this is the last Spiderman reboot for many years (don’t get me wrong, I love Spiderman, but I’m done with origin stories and reboots). I thought this movie (and even the small bit in Civil War) was a great way to bring Spiderman into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (since Marvel now has the rights to Spiderman). I think it will be interesting to see how Spiderman fits in with the rest of The Avengers in Infinity War given that he clearly doesn’t have the experience that the others do.

Who is your favourite Spiderman? Let me know in the comments below!

Also, make sure to follow @peacelovearts on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with all my latest content!

Also, on another note, this will be my last #NewBlogPostMonday. Starting next week I will be posting on Thursdays instead of Mondays so I will see you guys on August 10th!

Fact or Fiction?

Art can be a very powerful commentary on real life events, whether it’s through books, movies, television, theatre, etc. As a lover of all things fiction. I love getting lost in new stories in any form. But lately, I can’t help but see how some of my favourite works of fiction are very closely resembling real life, which is scary. Fiction is supposed to be an escape from real life but now it feels like fiction is becoming reality. (**Please remember that all interpretations of the following fictional works are my own**)


Back in 2008, Disney Pixar predicted what life would be like in 2805 in WALL-E but their vision of 2805 seems to be happening in 2017. Capitalism and consumption is our way of life, the environment is in a critical state, obesity is a real problem, and technology has taken over. In 2017, we are so focused on consumption of the latest and greatest products. Take cell phones for example. It doesn’t matter what kind of cell phone you have, they’re only meant to last about a year until the newest one comes out. Then when the newest one comes out, you throw out your phone that’s a year old and still perfectly functional because you want to get that extra pixel of clarity on your phone’s camera. And the profits that the cell phone companies make off their crazy high priced cell phones are put back into research and development for their next phone when it should be put into e-waste and properly disposing of their technology. Sustainability seems to take a back seat to profit and growth of businesses in the western world. Companies want to provide as many products as possible for the maximum price consumers will pay and they don’t consider what happens to their now obsolete product. Because of this wasteful behaviour, the environment has now reached critical levels. Companies take and take and take and take resources from the environment and never give anything back. Rainforests are being cut down at alarming rates, we’re running out of oil and natural resources, and so many other problems. If we don’t stop this, the Earth is going to look like it does in WALL-E way sooner than it should. If you can’t tell, I’m pretty passionate about the environment and leaving the world in a better state than how we found it. But we are destroying the planet so fast, our grandkids won’t have anywhere to live that isn’t disgusting and badly damaged. So just think about that next time you’re sitting next to a window on a sunny day and all the lights in the room are turned on.

One more thing I think the movie had good commentary on was technology/laziness/obesity and how all of these things are related. We are constantly surrounded by technology and screens. We’d rather sit inside and watch TV on a beautiful day than go outside for a walk or a bike ride. We’d rather sit on our computers watching exercise videos instead of going to the gym. We’d rather order fast food for dinner instead of making a home cooked meal. I think this is partly because we are LAZY. We don’t want to do anything that doesn’t come easy to us or takes more than 10 minutes to do. Even if we do go out for a walk we take our phones with us so we don’t miss a tweet that will still be there when we get back in 30 minutes. If we keep doing this we’re going to end up like the fat people in the hover chairs in WALL-E who are waited on 24/7 by technology – they have screens in front of them at all hours of the day (and they talk to each other through screens), their chairs take them to their food, they sit in their chairs by the pool but don’t actually swim, etc. I for one don’t want to end up like that (completely helpless and dependent on technology). Technology is also taking over our lives in other ways and I don’t just mean cell phones and tablets and that sort of stuff. Even at McDonald’s now there are self ordering screens, so you don’t have to interact with anyone until they call your order number. I see this becoming detrimental to society because 1) it’s taking away jobs (which, as a student looking for part time work, is a bad thing) and 2) screens are so limiting to human interaction and relationships. This was also apparent in WALL-E that no one had seen each other face-to-face in a long time except for the two that fell out of their chairs. WALL-E is one of my favourite Pixar movies and I think it provides some really interesting commentary on the state of the world and watching it now in 2017 is kind of frightening to see that this is what the world is becoming.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games has also been a source of commentary on the state of the world. You know it must have some important, deep meaning when you read it in grade 9 English class because lord knows English teachers love symbolism! In many ways it is a good reflection of the state of the world from everything from the Districts to the leadership of Panem. In The Hunger Games, the districts are either very rich or very poor or somewhere in between. Districts 1 and 2 and the Capitol are the wealthiest. They have pretty much everything they could ever want and have an abundance of it and they don’t have to worry about their kids dying in The Games because someone else has been trained to do that. They have access to the best of everything, just like most Western countries do. They don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from or where their kids are going to school, etc. Districts 11 and 12 on the other hand are the poorest of the poor, clearly representative of developing countries. They have limited resources, Katniss and Gale hunt for food because it’s more than they’ll get otherwise. Citizens of these districts forced to enter their kids in the Reaping in order to get more food and these kids have very low chance of survival in the Games because they are malnourished and have not been trained. These districts are neglected by the Capitol and wealthy districts in a similar way that developing countries don’t often get the support they need from developed countries.

President Snow’s leadership is another thing that scarily resembles reality. He is a tyrannical leader with little respect for human life. He just wants to ensure that he doesn’t lose his position of power and will do whatever it takes to keep it. So many leaders around the world are like this. Leaders make crazy promises (like say building a wall around the country) to protect themselves from something ever going wrong. But in reality, things go wrong (inside and outside the wall) and not everything can be controlled. The controlling leaders of the world today are impinging on people’s individual rights and freedoms just like how Snow keeps everyone under very careful watch at all hours of the day. And above all of this, the Games take 23 lives every year and Snow doesn’t care. He just sees it as a way to keep the districts in line even though it is extremely damaging to the country of Panem by the end of the series and literally tears Panem apart.

The 100

Another popular show is The 100. This show deals with some issues that are very real and present in the world today. The first issue it deals with, mainly in season 1 is the treatment of aboriginals and those who are different than us. When the 100 first get sent to the ground, they expected to be the only ones on the ground and when they find out there are others on the ground (the Grounders) who survived a nuclear explosion, their first instinct is to wage war against them. The grounders could have been a great resource for these 100 kids but they wanted to kill them because they were different and believed they would be killed if they didn’t kill first. The whole “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality is so dangerous as seen with all the police brutality lately. The 100 try to introduce the Grounders to a new way of life and new weapons such as guns even though they have developed their own way of life. However, the 100, think their way of life is superior and try to assimilate the grounders into their culture, which is what we’ve been doing to Aboriginal people for years and years and years.

One thing The 100 handled very poorly, especially in season 3, is LGBTQ+ relationships. There are openly LGBTQ+ relationships on the show and in almost all cases one of the partners has ended up dead. While this might have been a poor choice by the show runner, homophobia like this still exists in the world. I mean look at the events that occurred in Orlando back in June 2016 where people were shot and killed BECAUSE they were LGBTQ+. In the show, the characters weren’t shot because they were gay, they just happened to get in the path of a bullet, but they still died nonetheless. The LGBTQ+ community loved this show BECAUSE of these relationships but now it’s gone back to the usual heteronormativity that is seen on TV 99% of the time. My point is, it’s 2017. LGBTQ+ relationships should not be groundbreaking. People in this community want to feel safe and putting these relationships on TV makes it seem normal and acceptable (which it totally is) but killing partners or abusive LGBTQ+ relationships on TV doesn’t make the community feel safe because they realize that this is what happens in real life.

What we have to start realizing is that unless we start cleaning up our act a bit, these post-apocalyptic worlds could become a reality faster than it should. I don’t know about you, but that’s kind of scary.

What do you think about “art imitating life”? Let me know in the comments!


Toronto Fringe Festival 2017 Review Round Up

The annual Toronto Fringe Festival ended yesterday. For those of you who don’t know, Toronto Fringe is Canada’s largest theatre festival. It showcases new artists and new shows as well as shows by professional companies. There’s 160 shows at 35+ venues over 12 days. I saw 9 of these shows in 2 days. I’ve known about Fringe Toronto for a few years but this was the first time I’d actually attended. I attended as a patron and a volunteer.With Fringe having 160 shows, me working full time hours, and me not actually living in Toronto, there were three shows that I wanted to see but didn’t get to (2 of them sold out once word got out that they were really good and one of them wasn’t playing on the days I was volunteering and I couldn’t make the trip back to see it). So I went into Fringe without much of a plan other than 1) see as many shows as possible and 2) only plan around the timing since no latecomers are admitted and the theatres are all over downtown Toronto. I liked it that way though. I got to see some really interesting shows. These are the shows I saw and just some brief thoughts about them.

MEANT (7/10) – This show was a musical about fate and whether you or the universe decide your destiny. In this case, two people get married and have a child but they were never supposed to end up together according to The Fates. I thought this show had a really interesting concept and I liked that fate was characterized as The Three Fates but I thought the writing was a little weak. If it was me, I would take the idea of fate and apply it to a different situation. Overall, I liked the story, though I think the music could have contributed more to advancing the plot, and the entire cast was super talented, especially given the fact that they’re all recent post-secondary grads. Everything also flowed really nicely and coherently.

Life Records 2: Side B (8/10) – This one-woman show was put on by Rhiannon Archer, two time Canadian comedy award nominee. This was about songs that relate to major events in her life. It was funny, it was sweet, and it made you say “aww”. This was less of a theatre show and more of a comedic storytelling event in a smallish theatre but it was fun nonetheless.

Diddlin’ Bibbles (6/10) – This was a musical duo who told the story of a married couple who did performances and how the celebrity status of Toronto Fringe Artist got to their heads a little bit. It was a fun show. I liked that they tailored the show specifically for the Toronto Fringe Fest. However, I wish they would’ve delved a little deeper into the characters and explained why Toronto Fringe was such a big deal.

Rise/Fall (7.5/10) – This was a political drama commentating on Trump’s wall and the problems it can cause. This show was performed outside and the set was a physical wall, which separated two groups of actors. What was interesting about this show was that you sat on one side of the wall. You didn’t know what was going on on the other side. You could hear bits and pieces of dialogue from the other side so you kind of knew what was going on but not a lot. You almost needed to see the show twice – once on each side of the wall – to fully understand the show but it was enjoyable nonetheless. This show was really unique and it was certainly an interesting way to address politics.

White Wedding (8/10) – This show was really well done. It was about what happens at weddings when you’re still in love with your friends even though they’ve moved on to other people and other parts of their life. I found the show really funny because I think it portrayed the reality of weddings. Weddings seem like all fun and happy but no one ever sees what goes on outside of the church and the reception hall unless you are part of it. The entire cast was wonderful and they created really likeable and relatable characters. You could easily pick out who you would be if that was your friends’ wedding. The only thing I didn’t like that is that it was performed in a hallway. I understand why it was, but it made it squishy and a little hard to see. I think it would have been better in an actual theatre.

Moonlight after Midnight (9/10) – This show was incredible. It was a non-linear story about how two people met and got married and sort of their story. It was dark, it was romantic, and it was really good theatre. Normally, I don’t like non-linear stories because I find them hard to follow but this one made sense and was starting to clean things up by about 2/3 of the way through the show. The script was also smart and repetitive, which kept things connected. The acting was amazing, the plot was intriguing, and the actress, who sang a couple songs, has an amazing voice. There are only two performers, a guy and a girl, and they have really great chemistry on stage.

Who, Me (6/10) – This show targeted a very very very niche audience – theatre and drama nerds who are also Doctor Who nerds, there’s not many of them around. But I happen to be one of them. This was a one-man comedy show by Rob Lloyd about putting the show Doctor Who on trial for ruining his life. This show kind of flip-flopped between that story and personal anecdotes about, which I found kind of confusing. I think it would have been better sticking to one or the other. But I did appreciate the Doctor Who jokes and overall nerdiness of the show.

The “F” Word (9.5/10) – Anyone who says that dance can’t tell stories can literally fight me. This was by far my favourite show I saw at Fringe. This show was about feminism. But rather than telling the audience about feminist issues through dialogue, they told the audience about feminist issues through dance. It was kind of like a dance recital, and all the dancers were amazing, but there was some dialogue and explanations thrown in throughout and the music also helped tell the stories. However, even if the speaking parts had not been included, their message would have come across loud and clear.

Kara Sevda (7/10) – I liked this show. The plot was simple and the acting was great. Two strangers sit on the same bench, waiting for a lottery to see if they will be chosen to go on the last train from Paris to Rome. Throughout the show, there were a series of short monologues from each character about how they ended up on that bench. Again, this show had only two characters, one male and one female, so it was a little predictable that they were going to fall in love at the end but this show still made me feel all the feelings.

While I really enjoyed all the shows I saw, the coolest part of Fringe was just the overall environment and atmosphere in downtown Toronto. People of all ages from small children to grandparents talking about theatre. Getting excited about theatre. Even just waiting in line for shows and talking to people about what shows they’ve seen at Fringe, what they liked, and how they got to be involved with theatre and Fringe was pretty interesting. I’m so grateful that theatre has the power to bring people together the way it does.

If there’s one thing I really took away from attending Fringe Toronto, it’s this: Theatre is more than Broadway plays and musicals. 

Theatre is risky.

Theatre is innovative.

Theatre is experimental.

Theatre is music.

Theatre is acting.

Theatre is comedy.

Theatre is dance.

Theatre is storytelling.

Theatre is fun.

Seeing new theatre being created by artists that are so passionate about their craft was so inspiring and really made my heart happy and excited for the future of theatre.

What’s a new show that you’ve seen and enjoyed recently? Let me know in the comments!

Women in the Arts and Media

Representation is important.

Women representation is important. POC representation is important. LGBT+ representation is important.

As a straight, white woman living in Canada, I am fully aware of the privileges I have and this might not be my place to make comments. However, as a straight, white woman who so badly wants work in the arts and entertainment industry, which is currently dominated by men, I feel that it is my place to comment on this. However, I will not look at the POC and LGBTQ+ stats, at least not today.

After doing some very unscientific research on women in film and women in theatre via Wikipedia, I have never been more disheartened and discouraged by the results I found. I looked at Oscar and Tony nominees and winners from 2000-2017 for more of the creative roles like Best Book, Best Director, Best Score, Best Editing, and Best Design. By no means is this a comprehensive list, this are just some of the non-acting categories I looked at.

Women in Theatre (Tony Awards Stats)

Since 2000, there have been:

  • Best Book – 10 female nominees (out of 73 nominees total); 2 female winners
  • Best Music – 11 female nominees (out of 70 nominees total); 3 female winners
  • Best Lyrics – 9 female nominees (out of 72 nominees total); 2 female winners
  • Best Director (for both plays and musicals combined) –  23 female nominees (out of 116 nominees total); 8 female winners (2 for musicals, 6 for plays)
  • Best Play – 10 female nominees (out of 55 nominees total); 2 female winnersScreen Shot 2017-07-09 at 9.27.49 PM

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What’s upsetting about this is the pure percentages of women writers and directors who get recognized. Seeing that only 11% of Tonys in four writing categories the past 17 years have been won by women makes me sad. This is especially discouraging to people like me who want to write and create things for the theatre. The directing is a little bit better, but not much. Women are creative. Women have visions of creative work. I mean, look at Lynn Nottage. She’s won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama TWICE but if her shows don’t win any Tonys on Broadway, they close. Meanwhile, the shows that won awards are directed by men and get to remain open, regardless of the content. I suppose that’s just the business of Broadway but that’s still not fair.

Women in Film (Academy Awards Stats)

Since 2000, there have been:

  • Best Director – 2 female nominees (out of 70 nominees total); 1 female winner
  • Best Editing – 9 female nominees (out of 87 nominees total); 3 female winners
  • Best Score – 2 female nominees (out of 70 nominees total); 0 female winners
  • Best Cinematography – 0 female nominees (out of 70 nominees total); 0 female winners
  • Best Production Design – 65 female nominees (out of 141 nominees total); 14 female winners
  • Best Original Screenplay – 13 female nominees (out of 113 nominees total); 3 female winners

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If you read my bucket list post, you’ll know that one of the things on that list was to have my name in a major blockbuster movie, preferably for writing (I dunno I really want to write a play or a musical or a screenplay). For a long time, I really wanted to go to film school and I’m still really interested in movies and I love watching behind the scenes stuff. But again, the statistics I found were really discouraging. Men are given the majority of the creative jobs on a movie set – the main females involved are the actresses. Why can’t a woman have a chance to bring her creative vision to life through either directing or cinematography. Women can do these technical yet creative jobs, not just sewing and designing costumes (and fashion is stereotypically a “female” thing). The fact that Wonder Woman was a story about a woman directed by woman made it a really good movie, because let’s face it, men can’t tell women’s stories the same way women can.

While these are some of the most depressing statistics about women in the arts, there’s something ironic about the whole thing. Growing up, I find boys tend to be discouraged from pursuing careers in the arts. Oh, you want to be a dancer? Dancing’s for girls. You want to write music? That’s okay as a hobby, but not a career. You like drama class? You’re a sissy. Boys are expected to go into careers like business or trades or engineering. Yet somehow, all the boys who do get into careers in the arts, get all the recognition. Girls on the other hand are somehow more encouraged to pursue arts than STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers. Girls train 8+ hours a day 6 days a week to be ballerinas and they won’t be recognized for it. Girls are encouraged to be a stay at home mom and do writing or visual arts on the side as a hobby. But if one of those “hobbies” becomes public and becomes something they do for a living, it’s not recognized and it gets scoffed at –  “Oh, it’s just art.” My point is, if we a society are encouraging women to pursue art as a viable career, WHY AREN’T WE RECOGNIZING THEM FOR IT? Is it because men are breaking gender norms to some extent and thus we are rewarding them? Is it because women’s work honestly just isn’t as good?

Women are creative. 

Women have incredible stories to tell. 

Women deserve to be recognized for their work. 

I’m interested to know your thoughts. Let me know in the comments below.

This week on my Mixtapes page, you can find a playlist full of strong, feminist songs.

150 Reasons I’m Proud to be Canadian

Happy 150th Birthday, Canada!

I have always been super proud to be Canadian. I think this country is wonderful and beautiful and has so much offer and so much potential. In the 19 years I’ve been alive, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to live somewhere else – travel/visit, yes, but live, no. So to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, I wanted to do something special so I decided to make a list of 150 reasons of why I’m so proud to be Canadian. (PS – coolbeans4 also made a list of 150 reasons she loves Canada, so check it out and see how our lists compare)

  1. Our Prime Minister is not insane
  2. We’ve had a female Prime Minister before
  3. Our actual confederation was relatively uneventful – quiet, peaceful, a couple of guys in a room signing a piece of paper – which I think explains a lot about us as a country
  4. I’m not afraid of going outside and getting shot because there are NO GUNS (we’ve only had 13 mass shootings since 1965)
  5. Overall, Canada’s a pretty safe country
  6. And we’re a peaceful country; we don’t like conflict
  7. And our peacekeepers do a great job making sure it stays safe and peaceful
  8. Same sex marriage has been legal country-wide since 2005
  9. Maple syrup
  10. No one stereotypes Canada more than Canadians and we pride ourselves on that
  11. The “nicest people” stereotype is 100% true and that one makes me super proud
  12. The musical Come From Away is a really nice story about Canadians written by Canadians, Irene Sankoff and David Hein, and now it’s on Broadway sharing it’s beautiful message to audiences from around the world.
  13. The Canadian music scene is SO underrated – we’ve got Avril Lavigne, Shania Twain, Hedley, Marianas Trench, Celine Dion, Justin Bieber, Bryan Adams, Michael Buble, Drake, Leonard Cohen, The Arkells, City and Colour, The Tragically Hip
  14. And the Juno Awards celebrate Canadian bands/singers/musicians
  15. The Canadian acting scene is also SO underrated – we’ve got Ryan Gosling, Ellen Page, Cobie Smulders, Sandra Oh, Nina Dobrev, Tatiana Maslany, Ryan Reynolds, Jim Carey, Nathan Fillion, Patrick J. Adams
  16. The Group of Seven is a group of Canadian artists and they made some pretty nice art
  17. Cirque du Soleil is incredible
  18. We use the metric system (which makes SENSE)
  19. And we use celsius (which also makes SENSE)
  20. We usually get white Christmases (I say usually because CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL)
  21. Skiing skiing skiing is amazing (if you can get out of Northern Ontario where most of my skiing happens)
  22. Lacrosse is our national sport but we care way more about hockey, there’s even a whole night of TV dedicated to hockey on CBC (Hockey Night in Canada)
  23. On the subject of Hockey Night in Canada, have you seen Don Cherry’s suits? Yep, he’s all ours.
  24. I guess you could say we’re pretty good at hockey, it’s not like we have two Olympic gold medals in it or anything like that (and we beat the USA to get them)
  25. There’s even this song about hockey that was written by a Canadian
  26. Actually, we’re pretty good at most winter sports
  27. Summer sports, not so much (though our Swim team ft. 16-year old Penny Oleksiak might be making a come back stay tuned to find out)
  28. The (sometimes annoying) quote “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” came from Canadian Hockey Player Wayne Gretzky
  29. Reading The Hockey Sweater every winter in elementary school
  30. Canada’s Wonderland is supposed to be pretty fun (I’ve never been since I don’t like roller coasters)
  31. There’s also a mall in Edmonton with an indoor amusement park
  32. We have a fun little song to remember the provinces and territories (not that it’s very difficult considering there’s only 10 provinces and 3 territories)
  33. I mostly understand how our government system works, it’s not too complicated like the USA
  34. EVERYONE has free healthcare
  35. Our flag is really nice and unique
  36. We are home to some of the best universities in the world (and I’m lucky enough to go to one of them)
  37. Canada covers 6 time zones
  38. And for some reason Newfoundland decided that its time zone would be 30 minutes different from Atlantic time
  39. Our money is fun and colourful
  41. Our milk comes in bags
  42. The drinking age is 19 (18 in Quebec)
  43. Speaking of drinking, Canadians (I don’t really because I’m not a huge fan of beer) make and consume a lot of beer (plus it’s stronger than American beer)
  44. How I Met Your Mother has blessed us with this GIFanigif_enhanced-4344-1445523594-2
  45. #BellLetsTalk mental health campaign every January
  46. Tim Horton’s
  47. Roll Up the Rim (to lose) – the one time of year I’ll actually get drinks at Tim’s
  48. Our National Parks and Provincial Parks are gorgeous
  49. Mountains
  50. Beaches
  51. Plains
  52. Forests and trees (Evan Hansen would love it here)
  53. Cities
  54. We have an abundance of fresh water thanks to the Great Lakes #Grateful
  55. And we have a lot of little lakes too; “going to the lake” is probably the most common phrase you’ll hear on weekends in July and August
  56. Travelling on a Canadian passport is a powerful thing
  57. There’s a highway that runs across the entire country
  58. And a railway too
  59. Our patriotism is quiet but strong
  60. We have two official languages (English and French) but New Brunswick is the only official bilingual province (Quebec is still considered monolingual but the language is French)
  61. The better side of Niagara Falls is on the Canadian side of the border
  62. When singers, bands, and Broadway musicals go on tour, they usually come to a city in Canada
  63. We have a beautiful mix of old and new
  64. Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is pretty rad
  65. We invented basketball but Canada only has one NBA team?
  66. We also invented insulin, the telephone, and the light bulb
  67. We have actual Smarties (the candy coated chocolate) and ketchup chips and we have Rockets, which are what Americans call Smarties
  68. We’ve hosted the Olympics 3 times – Montreal Summer 1976; Calgary Winter 1988; Vancouver Winter 2010
  69. Our education system is actually pretty okay
  70. The Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Toronto Raptors are “Canada’s” teams – yes there’s other Canadian NHL teams but for some reason the Leafs are Canada’s team, maybe it’s the maple leaf logo I dunno
  71. Poutine
  73. Toronto’s got a pretty good theatre scene. I mean, it’s not NYC but I guess I can’t complain too much. I still think Canada should adopt NYC as its 11th province.
  74. Speaking of theatre, Toronto Fringe Festival is the largest Fringe Festival in North America
  75. Canada’s freaking huge man – it takes 8 hours to fly from Halifax to Vancouver; it takes 6 hours to fly from Toronto to London, England and that’s over an ocean!
  76. There’s been some pretty decent Canadian TV shows over the years plus all these kid’s shows 
  77. Lots of movies and TV shows are filmed in Canada
  78. Free the Children (now WE) is a charity that I will support ’til my dying day was founded by Craig Kielburger in Thornhill, Ontario when he was only 12 and does amazing work around the world
  79. We actually have a lot of amazing charities that do amazing things
  80. We have a National Ballet Company (National Ballet of Canada)
  81. Our national animal is a beaver and beavers are pretty dang cute
  82. We also have moose and beluga whales and polar bears and Canada geese (which are terrifying might I add)
  83. The red sand beaches in P.E.I.
  84. Speaking of the east coast, they make pretty good seafood out there
  85. Ontario strawberries are the best strawberries you’ll ever eat
  86. Some of the best wine comes from the Niagara escarpment
  87. Lots of other good produce comes from the Niagara escarpment too
  88. The iconic maple leaf
  89. Northern Ontario (cottage country/Muskoka) in the summer is so serene and peaceful and beautiful
  90. My hometown is known for Blackberry
  91. My hometown is also known for Oktoberfest, one of the only places that has a major Oktoberfest celebration outside of Germany so that’s pretty cool
  92. Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta is one of the most beautiful sites you’ll ever see
  93. Roots clothing brand aka the most comfortable sweatpants and hoodies ever
  94. Our historical contributions in world conflicts like Vimy Ridge in World War I
  95. The Calgary Stampede’s supposed to be pretty fun if you’re into cowboys and rodeos and all that jazz
  96. Participating in Terry Fox runs that take place across the country in September
  97. Montreal style bagels
  98. Building snow forts at recess in elementary school
  99. The CN Tower in Toronto used to be the tallest building in the world
  100. My favoUrite coloUr is Maple Leaf Blue where it is honoUred at the Air Canada CentRE
  101. “zed” not “zee”
  102. East Side Mario’s is one of the best restaurants (especially their bread and caesar salad)
  103. We have our own version of American Girl dolls called Maplelea Girls
  104. We are hilarious! And by that I mean we have a lot of great comedians (including me jk)
  105. Rick Mercer Report Rants
  106. We don’t have a $1 bill, we have a $1 coin called a loonie b/c there’s a loon on it
  107. And our $2 coin is called a toonie b/c why not?
  108. FanExpo and Toronto Comic Con
  109. Mounties
  110. Ottawa’s a really nice capital city
  111. Canada backwards is Adanac
  112. We still get American movies, music, and TV shows
  113. Anne of Green Gables
  114. The highway 401 is the busiest highway in North America though I’m not sure that’s a good thing
  115. But the OnRoute roadside stops along the 401 are alright if you’re going on a road trip
  116. Remember when Rob Ford, Toronto’s Mayor, was involved in a drug scandal? That was exciting
  117. Netflix Canada isn’t that bad
  118. Sunsets over the lake
  119. Lots of trails for hiking and biking
  120. We are surrounded by 3 out of 4 oceans (and have annoying neighbours to the south)
  121. Polar Bears!
  122. Victoria is the capital of BC, not Vancouver but Victoria is on Vancouver Island and Vancouver is on mainland BC just to confuse everyone!
  123. Iqaluit is pronounced ee-kal-oo-it
  124. We have a lot of islands
  125. Hearing O Canada every morning from JK to grade 12; just a reminder of how lucky we are to live where we do.
  126. Manners are important! Please, thank you, apologies (maybe too many apologies), etc.
  127. Chris Hadfield, the astronaut who was the first Canadian to walk in space, did a mission at the International Space Station and sang Space Oddity by David Bowie in space (video here)
  128. We also made the Canadarm, which is pretty cool
  129. Weber’s Hamburgers on highway 11 going towards northern Ontario are THE BEST FREAKING HAMBURGERS you will ever eat and I will fight you on that
  130. Alex Trebek, host of Jeopardy, is Canadian
  131. The Stratford Festival is also pretty fun. Stratford’s such a cute little town.
  132. Snowdays
  133. The Queen of England has an honorary place in our government
  134. Our Thanksgiving is in October
  135. Laura Secord, the person
  136. Laura Secord, the chocolate company, named after Laura Secord the person
  137. The First Nations’ Totem Poles in BC are really cool
  138. Canadian bacon (called back bacon) is delicious
  139. Apparently Santa Claus is Canadian and you can send him a letter with the postal code HOH OHO
  140. Hawaiian pizza was invented in Canada
  141. Not a lot of natural disasters happen here
  142. We’ve got lots of cool, mostly normal wildlife (that isn’t poisonous or dangerous)
  143. We grow and export A LOT of grain. Thanks Manitoba and Saskatchewan!
  144. Our economy doesn’t completely suck
  145. Sometimes you can see the Northern Lights (way more often if you live up in the territories)
  146. We’ve admitted the mistakes we’ve made in the past
  147. We are working hard to be better to our Indigenous People to POC to women to the LGBTQ+ community and that makes me happy – we aren’t perfect but we’re trying to be better
  148. It’s not the USA
  149. It’s my home
  150. It’s a pretty great country “eh?”

Canada has a lot to be proud of as a country and it’s a pretty cool place to live. I’m very very lucky to live in a country where I feel safe and where I can be a tourist in my own country since there’s so much to see and do. Here’s to more accomplishments and amazing things that happen to Canada in the next 150 years!

I hope everyone enjoys the Canada 150 festivities and takes a few minutes to remember to look around, look around at how lucky you are to be alive right now and living in the greatest country in the world.

What makes you proud to be Canadian? Let me know in the comments!

This week I’ve compiled a playlist of Canadian music so be sure to click on the MIXTAPES tab at the top (or click here) to check it out!

Movie of the Month: Wonder Woman

If you know anything about me, you’ll know I love superhero movies. DC has made some rough movies *coughmanofsteelcough* but Wonder Woman was an exception to this. This was by far the best DC movie. Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) was raised on a hidden island by her mother Hippolyta. Little does she know that she is a demigoddess. As she grows up, she is trained to be a warrior along with the other Amazon women. Diana’s life is turned upside down when American Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) arrives on the island and reveals that World War I is happening outside the island. Diana wants to go and fight and make the world a better place. She believes that fighting can be used to create peace. This movie really shows women can be fierce fighters, loyal friends, and empathetic.

Going into this movie, I knew absolutely nothing about Wonder Woman so I really appreciated that the first 20 minutes or so was focused on her backstory and how she became who she is. This was crucial for her future character development since so much of who we grow up to be is a reflection of how we were raised. Diana was raised on an island of women training to be warriors for a war against Ares but she was also trained and raised to be kind and gentle and to use her powers and training for good. I loved Diana and her character from the very beginning because I knew that she would be a strong female character.

I also loved the general plot of this movie. I found it really interesting that Diana and Steve were fighting two different wars – the war against Ares and World War I – but the stories were convergent. While Steve and the other mortals were confused about what Diana was talking about when she talked about the was against Ares, they never really questioned it because her war was helping them win their war. Diana believes Ludendorff (the bad guy), who is experimenting with making a stronger version of mustard gas, is Ares so naturally she wants to kill him. Steve also wants to kill Ludendorff because he is experimenting with mustard gas so it seems like killing him would be a win-win situation for both worlds. But of course the bad guy is never who you think it is so when Ares is revealed it is a shock and a bit of a plot twist.

This was also such a good, strong feminist movie, directed by a female might I add. While there was a little bit of romance between Steve and Diana it was never a major plot point and the other men in the movie ogled Diana for approximately 0.2 seconds before they realized that she was an important part of their mission to protect the greater good. This movie also showed that women can kick ass and be strong, especially when they are fighting for something they believe in. It’s not the desire for war the drives Diana to fight, it’s her desire to help Steve in his war and help fight for peace and that’s really powerful. I also loved that Diana was not relying on Steve in any way, she had her own way of doing things and she was not going to let a man stop her or tell her what to do. Diana’s powerful independence is what made her character so good!

This movie had a compelling plot, badass female characters, and some amazing action and visual sequences. If any of those sound like something you would like then you should see this movie. Hopefully, this movie set the tone for future DC movies (if not, their TV shows are pretty good). This movie inspires girls to be strong, kind, and compassionate at the same time as well as fighting for what you believe in. In the future, I would like to see more female directed movies telling stories with strong female characters.

Did you see Wonder Woman? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

This week I made a playlist of feminist jams – make sure to click on the MIXTAPES tab at the top to take a listen!