Tag Archives: Commentary

What is a carbon footprint?

Why do so many people fuss about a carbon footprint and global warming? Our Carbon footprint is problematic because we are the primary source of manmade global warming, contributes to urban air pollution, and contributes to oceanic and coastal acidification. Although there are no ways to reverse or stop the effects at this point, there are ways to alleviate its effects to make it possible to mediate the impact of our industrialization. We might even make somewhat of a recovery.

Embed from Getty Images

A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas emissions caused by the entirety of mankind, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. Every individual, event, organization, service, place, or product. The usual suspects of greenhouse gas emissions are transportation, industry, and electricity production. A carbon footprint is bad because it contributes to climate change. Climate change fully encompasses drastic weather events such as toxic and acid rain, ocean acidification, melting of glaciers and icebergs, and urban air pollution.

Embed from Getty Images

According to epa.gov. , The cars and buses we drive account for 27% of greenhouse gases, as of 2020. This is the largest portion of recorded emissions. These gases were counted as the by-product of burning petroleum-based products such as gasoline and diesel from an internal combustion engine. Passenger cars, trucks, utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and mini-vans. These means of travel account for over 50% of the transportation sector’s emissions. The remaining portion is commercial means such as aircraft, ships, boats, and planes. Ways to alleviate the effects of this form of emissions is switching fuels. Things like switching from gas to electric or hybrid and using renewable energies. Even prioritizing public transportation. Using buses and limiting vehicular usage on roads. Another method is lessening travel demands. Optimizing city plans, allowing for easier use of sidewalks and bike paths, and allowing access to pedestrian programs benefits low-emission transportation.

Embed from Getty Images

These contributors are more than enough to cause major problems regarding our carbon expulsion. Every day in transportation and industry, we burn fossil fuels, getting to work and working in factories, farms, etc. Our daily lives are made up of the extreme usage of carbon-emitting devices. Should we, too, be asked to change our way of life in the name of the planet, or should we accept that our lifestyles have exceeded the appropriate bounds of earthly resistance and resources?

Caleb Smith-Sims, Senior

Caleb Smith-Sims is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

A hard look at the internet’s influence on children

With a slew of new kids’ content popping up all over TikTok, YouTube, and any site an unsupervised toddler with an iPad could get to, it’s easy to forget that at one point, the internet was largely untamed, unregulated, and definitely not a place for children. It’s almost foreign to think of an era with no TikTok, YouTube not being nearly as prevalent, and Xbox Live party chats and Skype being the internet’s primary forms of communication. While there are multiple reasons for the internet evolving in the way it has, some of those reasons can be attributed to the kids of the early internet.

Photo by Katerina Holmes on Pexels.com

Children In Gaming

Games like Minecraft, Roblox, Fortnite, and most Nintendo games are commonly associated with children nowadays, but that doesn’t mean that kids can’t be found in games that they really shouldn’t. From mature FPS games like Grand Theft Auto V to obscure indie horror like Poppy Playtime, it’s hard to find a game that hasn’t been played by someone younger than the ESRB rating on the box. While it’s now common practice to ignore games with predominantly young player bases, writing them off as “kids’ games” and leaving them alone to do their own thing, internet users’ first significant experience with an influx of children was not handled quite as deftly as that.

Call of Duty 4 marked a significant change in the series’ history, being the first game to not focus on World War II but on modern – well, modern for 2007 – warfare. The game quickly skyrocketed in popularity due to its revolutionary campaign and endlessly repayable multiplayer modes. With such immense renown came fans of all kinds, particularly fans of all ages.  

I’m not sure what parent thought that getting a COD game for their child – or even leaving them alone with a credit card, for that matter – was a good idea. Still, as young and impressionable kids found their way onto multiplayer servers, they quickly began to gain notoriety as the worst kind of teammate imaginable. While it was possible to ignore their poor in-game performance, it was much harder to ignore a high-pitched and annoying child over the voice chat, screaming their heads off and yelling obscenities at the slightest inconvenience. 

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

The issue wasn’t with the games the kids were playing; it was with the community that played them. For those unaware, the COD community has a reputation of being extremely toxic – especially back in the day – so it’s easy to see the problem with dropping impressionable kids into a lobby with server-wide voice chat with them. “Squeakers,” as they were called, quickly became despised by the community, with some players opting to leave squeaker-occupied servers entirely and search for another match to save themselves from getting a headache, while others stuck around to get a rise out of the tainted and easily excitable new players. The latter would often record these antics and post them to a – then growing – site called YouTube, garnering millions of likes and views in the process.

YouTube, Demonetization, And The Future Of Video

In its early days, YouTube wasn’t nearly as mainstream and, as such, wasn’t as highly regulated as it is now. People on the platform could often get away with posting whatever they wanted, so long as it didn’t break any rules or infringe on any copyrighted material. The idea of monetizing YouTube content – or at least be entitled to it – is a relatively modern concept. Back in the day, monetization was saved for the most prominent creators on the platform. However, as the years passed, the bar for being allowed to monetize content grew lower and lower, and eventually, some pretty offensive content was making reasonable amounts of money.

Around 2017, a lot of YouTube’s advertisers threatened to pull out of the company unless the company cleaned up its act and ensured that the content hitting the front page was clean enough to be suitable to the advertiser’s wishes. YouTube, very interested in keeping its bottom line stable, started demonizing mass amounts of content in what was referred to as the “adpocalypse.” While the terms for demonetization were extremely vague – and sometimes entirely unjustified – it led to a massive change in the image of the platform, even leading to the death of some forms of content in the name of making the platform more advertiser-friendly.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

While not directly trying to make YouTube more accessible to children, the adpocalypse’s aftermath left a landscape that allowed children’s content to flourish, and for years, this was the case. Children’s content – especially the animated variety – was easy, quick to make, and entirely advertiser-friendly. Some channels began using easily recognizable characters in their videos, like Mickey Mouse, superheroes, and Disney princesses. Through this, they spread their content even further, despite the actual content of the videos often being bizarre and completely incoherent at times. Even the comments section of these videos followed this bizarre pattern, with kids seemingly mashing their hands onto the keyboard, letting autocorrect try to decipher the mess they just typed, and posting. YouTube children’s content was an absolute cash cow that many thought unstoppable; however, it would be shipped off to the proverbial slaughterhouse sooner than imagined. 

Around January 2020, the FTC came after YouTube’s predatory ad policy toward children. According to COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule), running targeted ads toward children wasn’t strictly legal, or at least not how YouTube was doing it. It forced another major split in YouTube policy. Now, you have to mark whether your content is targeted toward children 12 and below or not. If you mark your videos as content for younger audiences, you aren’t allowed to run ads before your videos, and the comments section and like number are entirely turned off. Despite doing their best to shun kids’ content on their site, YouTube’s damage had already been done, and children’s media was forever changed. Examples like Cocomelon come to mind when thinking of modern kids’ content, but they aren’t the only thing that comes to mind.

TikTok’s primary goal is to keep us scrolling for as long as possible. I’m sure you’ve had the experience of losing track of time while scrolling social media and later realizing that you’ve spent an hour on mindless scrolling. It’s a pretty solid strategy for TikTok that’s executed pretty well; more time spent scrolling leads to more ads playing, which leads to more money. I’m not wholly against TikTok, but every time I use it, it reminds me of those kids’ YouTube channels with how it presents its content. It’s constantly trying to keep the attention of a demographic with a continually decreasing attention span; it just doesn’t feel like social media to me, it feels like a daycare.

Alex Magno is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism Class.

It’s time to “be real” on social media

Let’s be real, how many of us fake our Instagram posts, stories, and what we do daily? Hopefully, not everyone can relate, but the sad truth about our internet presence in today’s world is covered up with staged images and events. But recently, a new app that has been blowing up in popularity has the opportunity to change that, called BeReal. Whether you want to be real and show what you’re actually doing is up to you, however. 

BeReal was released in 2020 by French developers Alexis Barreyat and Kevin Perreau and was available in English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, Korean, and Portuguese. 

Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR
Photo by Dziubi Steenbergen

The aim of BeReal is for people to show their friends and family what they’re doing at a specific time in the day. BeReal will send you a notification anytime in the day saying you’ll have 2 minutes to take your BeReal. Everyone who gets that notification then opens up the app and takes a picture of themselves and what they are doing at that moment. You then get to see your friends’ BeReal and find out what they’re doing. Even if you miss the time frame, the app is forgiving and will let you post a late BeReal. 

The app has recently gained traction over the past few months and now has become one of the most downloaded apps of 2022. Nothing like this was ever created, and it seemed like people loved the idea of it. 

To see what people thought about BeReal, we asked Freshman Jace Taranto and Mount DeSales Senior Holly Bruchalski their thoughts on the app. “I only have it to see what my friends are up to,” said Jace. “Overall, I think it’s pretty fun to see what people are doing at the same time you are,” replied Holly.

While it might seem like there is an overall positive vibe that BeReal has going for itself, some other aspects were brought up. Holly stated, “at the same time, it’s kinda hard to keep up with doing it every single day cause you still wanna enjoy your day without having to post about it.” It might seem like a chore to some and, to others, a way to brag about themselves. 

With it being the internet, people will find a way to fake their posts and make their life seem more extravagant just to get attention. From a man running to the Eiffel Tower to get it in his picture to a lady going out with friends and taking a picture with a guy from 7/11, or even at the mall and having an employee snap a photo. 

Photo by Humphrey Muleba

Recently senior Harry Kennedy asked a group of students in the class to stage his BeReal to show him receiving the Bocce Ball championship award. This is a fabulous example of people willing to wait to take their BeReal to show their friends something interesting in their life.  

From personal experience, it has been easy to notice scrolling through BeReal that people don’t always want to show that their life isn’t as great as perceived by others. Holly responded, “People should definitely be real with their posts since people want to know what’s going on at that given moment.” Would you agree with her or beg to differ? Does it now matter to people that the main purpose has been compromised by people who don’t want to “BeReal,” or is it still an app where people can share their lives without any filters?

Cooper Funk is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Jack Bieda is a Junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

MSJ at the Movies: Christmas movie tier list

After finally reaching the conclusion of Thanksgiving, the Christmas season is finally upon us, and the transition to holiday movies has entered many households. Some people simply resort to their all-time favorites yearly and watch them on repeat. Meanwhile, others widen their viewership to include newer and more eccentric films. 

Regardless of your desire, we picked eleven of the most popular holiday movies and separated them into three tiers. The first tier represents all-time greats; the second denotes average films; the third signifies some of the worst Christmas movies created. With that out of the way, let’s discuss the four best Christmas movies of all time.

Embed from Getty Images

To start us off, Elf is one of my personal favorite Christmas movies of all time. Elf, Starring Will Ferrell, is about a kid raised by Santa and other elves. He grows up thinking he’s an elf until he discovers the hard truth that he isn’t and has a real family. He leaves the wonderland of the North Pole and deals with the city of New York in search of his dad. This movie is top-tier because it brings out good family-friendly comedy and brings joy and belief back into Santa and Christmas.

Next on the list is Christmas Vacation. This movie is about a family staying in one house for the holidays. Clark Griswold wants to have a perfect family Christmas, so he pesters his wife and children as he tries to make sure everything is in line. This movie includes a lot of hilarious comedy and is required to watch every year. 

Home Alone is also another classic one that you have to watch every year. This movie is about an 8-year-old boy who is left home alone while his family goes on vacation without him. Suspicions rise about a young boy being home alone, so two burglars try to rob his house. Little do they know that this 8-year-old has some fight in him. This movie brings comedy and overall holiday spirit. These are just a few of the fantastic Christmas to watch yearly, but some aren’t good enough to be watched every year.

Embed from Getty Images

The movies in this tier list are good but not spectacular. The movie Polar Express could go either way, but I think it falls in the middle tier. This movie is about a bunch of kids who get on a train that is supposedly taking them to the North Pole to see the first gift being handed out. When they get there, Santa chooses one kid from the crowd to receive the first gift of Christmas. The movie has a very scattered plot, and it is hard to keep up at times. 

The next movie I would like to discuss is Charlie Brown’s Christmas. Everybody likes Charlie Brown, and the movies are classics. However, they are more for a younger audience. Charlie Brown has a lot of different movies for different holidays, like the Halloween one. In my opinion, that is an excellent movie, but the Christmas movie just doesn’t reach expectations and is just a good movie to watch every once in a while. 

Now for the next movie, nothing is wrong with the film itself, and it is an excellent depiction of the story. Rudolph is a great movie and is definitely a classic to watch. However, everyone knows of the Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer story. Therefore, since everyone knows the story, there is no motive to watch it yearly. 

Embed from Getty Images

Finally, these three movies do not make the cut of worthy Christmas movies and should not be the first viewing choice. Though the first Home Alone movie makes the first tier, the rest of the movies are not nearly as entertaining. The rest of them do not meet the uniqueness of the first film and are pretty much about the same topic. With the repetitive nature of all these movies, they get boring after a while and should not receive the same clout as the first. 

Next, the Disney remake of The Grinch similarly does not make the cut as the original film. It takes an animated approach instead of the realistic ideals of the original movie. Also, Disney puts a childish twist on it, making the movie boring to older viewers. Even though they take the same plot, the original movie easily deserves a higher ranking in this list.

Embed from Getty Images

The final movie on this list, Santa Claus, also comes in a series, but the disappointment of the first version explains them all. The plot is about a man who finds Santa in his front yard and travels back to the North Pole to replace him. His son tags along, and they go on an adventure through Santa’s workshop. This movie appeals more to children and does not provide much competition to the Christmas comedies. 

The uniqueness of Christmas movies fits all tastes and provides an excellent viewership experience during the holiday season. No matter the quality and subject, these movies get us in the holiday spirit and supply all types of people with unmatched enjoyment.

Alex Kwas is a sophomore member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Tyler Martin is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Is Kanye West’s career over?

Kanye West, or “Ye,” is in big trouble.

Chicago rapper Kanye West has grown to be distinguished as one of the most talented musicians of our time. From The College Dropout to Donda, Kanye’s musical skillset and pure talent injected into his albums have made him millions. However, with Ye’s recent anti-Semitic tweet, his legendary reputation is hanging by a thread.

Following a separation with Gap, Inc., Kanye has tweeted that he is going “Death con 3 on Jewish people.” West’s scuffled with celebrities and politicians, but anti-Semitism is new for the rapper. He’s been under fire from fans, journalists, and politicians alike (rightfully so). Kanye is in the most significant controversy of his career now, and that’s saying a lot.

Embed from Getty Images

(Above) Kanye famously found himself in controversy when he interrupted Taylor Swift’s Video Music Award acceptance in 2009 and said Beyoncé should’ve received the award instead.

The tweet was targeting the execs of Gap. Kanye explained his frustration with the company to CNBC: “Sometimes I would talk to the guys, the leaders, and it would be like I was on mute or something.” Kanye believes that the high-ups in corporations that control artists and athletes are primarily Jewish; this anti-Semitic theory is no stranger to the world and can be traced back to Hitler.

It’s human that Kanye would feel frustrated—he’s had to separate from a brand that helped him achieve his dream—but threatening an entire race and accusing them of corruption is dangerous. It’s happened before and had horrible consequences: six million Jews were killed from 1939 to 1945 in the Jewish Holocaust. And already Nazi hate groups have rallied with the tweet, hanging a banner over a Los Angeles freeway falsely claiming “Kanye is right about the Jews” while raising Nazi salutes.

What’s upsetting is that the situation could still be salvaged if Kanye apologizes and denounces his words. Kanye’s already lost his “Donda Academy” private school and his partnership with Adidas, so he needs to act quickly before losing more. But for someone with a severe arrogance problem, it will be a struggle. In mid-October, journalist Piers Morgan interviewed Kanye West to attempt to give him a platform to explain his perspective and apologize for his harmful comments.

And, of course, Kanye barely apologized. Sure, he said he was sorry for the people he hurt. “Hurt people hurt people, and I was hurt,” he explained. However, Kanye still admitted upfront it was racism. Morgan told Kanye the tweet was as racist as anything Kanye had been through, but Ye simply laughed it off. It seems like Kanye is trying to make a point with his recent comments, but he is acting racist nonetheless and is doing more harm than good.

“Millions of people have had DEFCON 3 on their contracts. I opened it up. I didn’t say that then, but I said it now. If I am going to apologize for the tweet, this is what has to happen first: I need all of the top executives in Hollywood, the NBA, and the NFL, and I want the top executives in music – dealing with publishing, Spotify, Apple Music, and Universal Music. I want to look look at the top ten earners in each of those contracts and compare and contrast the contracts. We need to open that conversation, live, with lawyers asking questions – and we’ll have the top lawyers looking at all the contracts together. After that moment happens, I will apologize.”

-Kanye explaining his tweet

Personally, I think Kanye is a genius – he is adept at challenging the status quo both in music and general – but the issue with him, as many put it, is that he knows he’s brilliant. His self-involvement has hurt him many times already – and, with recent anti-Semitic accusations, it could hurt many others. Before any more wrong is done, Kanye needs to find mental help.

Mr. West is no stranger to mental health issues. Following his embarrassing interruption of the 2009 Video Music Awards, Kanye disappeared and fell into his first significant public downward spiral. Later, in 2010, the unreleased track “Never See Me Again” was leaked to the public and quickly framed as a suicide note written by Kanye; it has grown to be considered one of his best pieces.

And, when the musician later announced his diagnosis with bipolar disorder in 2016, he quickly cleared it up for many as to why he had grown to be such a controversial figure. West described his episodes as “you can’t trust anyone,” and the rapper signaled a new era of awareness for men’s mental health.

Unfortunately, following his separation from Kim Kardashian in 2021, Kanye began to act erratic. It was apparent when he released the abstract Donda 2 single “Eazy,” carrying disturbing cover art and lyrics threatening Kardashian’s boyfriend at the time, Pete Davidson. Kanye later severed his friendship with fellow rapper Kid Cudi publicly on Instagram for associating with Davidson.

Embed from Getty Images

(Above) Kanye West pictured with his former wife, Kim Kardashian. Kardashian is often credited with helping Kanye deal with his bipolar disorder.

And now, following an unrelated separation from the company that helped him finalize his dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and designing his own shoes, he has nearly lost it all.

If Kanye is going to fix his mental health and save his reputation, he will have to take some time off and recover. The rapper has had to split paths with his wife, friends, and dreams, all within a year, and now he’s taking out his pain on the world. Before anyone is hurt – because his tweet was truly anti-Semitic – Kanye needs to prioritize his mental health. For now, Kanye’s future is looking grim, but if he can work on himself and give an honest apology, the chances are high that he can recover his legendary reputation.

Jude Danner is a Sophomore member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

The appeal of historically black colleges and universities

Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been a staple in Black education since 1837. They allow an opportunity for community, family, and a sense of belonging. So many times at predominantly white institutions, Black students feel like they have to fit in and don’t have people that understand them.

Embed from Getty Images

Representation is everything. Being a black student at an HBCU is the most refreshing thing. You see black excellence and young black men and women thriving. When you see them win, it pushes you to believe that you can win. As opposed to what you see on TV, you’ll see unity. There are people there that really support each other and love to see their brothers and sisters shine. There’s a culture that’s just natural. You’re surrounded by like-minded people. Everyone knows how to get up and dance when that song comes on and what to do. There’s just a shared experience and love of being Black in America. This is great for many black students who are used to education systems working against them.

Embed from Getty Images

One thing about HBCUs is that you will encounter professors who care about you. They aren’t shocked by your greatness, but they expect it. They believe in you more than you’ll ever believe in yourself. They expect and push you into continual growth. Seeing you thrive is their primary goal. They will make time to know you outside of just a student. They want you to push towards your own personal excellence.

Embed from Getty Images

HBCUs give you a home environment. Being the majority helps make you feel comfortable and seen because you relate to things just from skin tone; it doesn’t even matter where people come from, but rather that shared cultural experience makes all the difference.

Embed from Getty Images

You have a sense of security knowing the people around you have the same fight. They go to sleep worried about family like you and pray day and night about the inequality across America. They know the same struggles as you.

Embed from Getty Images

With HBCU homecoming season having just passed, you can see how a school connects so many people with one event. Homecoming isn’t just a game or a day; it’s a week-long experience. It’s a week full of love, people putting on their best outfits, parties, and really everything you can imagine. The homecoming event entails tailgates, a parade, fashion shows, concerts, a coronation, and alumni returning to hang out with people they love. Homecoming is the embodiment of its name; people are coming back home to where they lived some of their best years. Homecoming also helps welcome new students and show them what it is like outside the classroom. Homecoming allows you to run into old friends or even make new friends.

Embed from Getty Images

The student life at an HBCU is second to none with the Divine 9 [fraternities and sororities]. Also, the HBCU Marching Bands are the best in all aspects, with drum majors, dancers, and majorettes on top of that. They also have events centered around having fun as a community.

Embed from Getty Images

HBCUs allow many opportunities religiously with Gospel Choirs, Chapel, and so much more. Many of them are built on faith and also service. They are full of community service, giving back to others, and excelling at doing more for others.

Embed from Getty Images

Special thanks to the current Director of Liberal Studies, and Psychology professor at Hampton University, Dr. Tamara Monet Baldwin Williams (Spelman College alumnus). Also, thank you to two current HBCU students who provided their experiences – Amaya Short, Hampton University, Class of ’25, and Bria Williams, Howard University, Class of ’26.

Nicholas Paxton is a Senior Member of the Multimedia Journalism class.