By Koleana M.
Netflix released its third season of Orange Is The New Black last month, and it has been widely panned in the internet world. Rotten tomato released OITNB’s audience rating and the results were an interesting 74%. That’s only 3.8 out of 5 stars for Orange is the New Black: Season 3. Many critics claim the season is anti-climactic, flashbacks are poorly integrated, and the drama is lukewarm in comparison to the previous 2 seasons. While you’re free to compile your own feelings about how this season stacks up to the first two, I’d like to highlight the ways in which the third season converges dramatization with exploitation of society’s parochialism towards things that are different, while still maintaining its pervasive nudity; which is exactly why everyone needs to watch and learn.
Let’s take a looksie at some of the societal issues this season brings to light and how the characters work through them.
In Ruby Rose’s first scene on the show as an inmate, Piper Chapman (Taylor Schiling) asks her if she considers herself as belonging to the category of ‘women’ and Rose responds with “Yes, but only because my options are limited”. Rose gracefully and directly exploits Piper’s (and the world’s) need for placing people in gender boxes and only allowing a human to either be a man or a woman. Why do we feel this need to categorize? Gender can be fluid and identification can fall somewhere on a spectrum. Just as we have progressed into considering sexuality as a spectrum as well, it’s clear that we should open up to the concept of gender fluidity too. And it worked out wonderfully that the character who spearheaded the notion of gender fluidity in this show is a rather androgynous and extremely gorgeous Australian model named Ruby Rose. See her self written and directed music video addressing and showing us that she is the quintessential example of gender fluidity here.
This season we also learn more about our favorite butch Big Boo, who also struggled with her parents’ and society’s need to impose their expectations of appropriate gender representation on her, and she fought with this all of her life. She’s a woman who loves women and also loves dressing like a man. Big Boo doesn’t fit into heteronormative stereotypes that the world tries to place upon her. Why can’t we just accept her for who she is!?
Currently battling Caitlyn Jenner for the number 1 spot as America’s favorite Trans woman is Laverne Cox, who plays the character of Sophia in OTINB. Sophia is an inmate and the prison hair stylist- a job that perfectly embodies her interests in hair, make-up, and all things feminine. Her fellow inmates love her, her services, and coming into her prison salon for weekly gossip and beautifying. Until a little tiff with one Latina inmate causes a riot against Sophia and she is attacked in her salon by 3 inmates, cursed and beaten for being a man pretending to be a woman. In speaking with her prison counselor about that hate attack, Cox reveals that although she has undergone gender readjustment surgeries and taken every step she can towards becoming a woman, she’ll never really feel accepted in the eyes of people who don’t want to even try to understand transgender. Preach honey. We may never truly understand a struggle that’s not our own, but the least we can do is try to be accepting and supportive.
In this season, the extremely controversial Tiffany Doggett, or ‘Pennsatucky’ (played by Taryn Manning) evolves from being a crazy meth head hick to a character whom becomes humanized as we learn she has suffered and continues to suffer through mental manipulation and sexual abuse. Her mother didn’t raise her to understand that she has dignity and a voice in sexual encounters, but rather told her to ‘keep her mouth shut and let him do whatever he wants to do’ to her. With this mindset, she grew into a teen prostitute, drug addict, and ultimately ended up in prison, where she continues to suffer sexual abuse from correctional officer Coates. He repeatedly forces his sexual will upon her and then coddles her with donuts and ice cream leading her to think that these transactions are acceptable. The trauma Doggett endures makes it evident that parents need to have clear and in depth conversations with there children to help them understand their bodies, sex, love, healthy relationships and dignity.
White dominance in the work force:
Also in this season, Piper begins a dirty panty smuggling business and employs a band of inmates to provide the goods for sale. Through this business venture, she exploits her workers in many ways and fights very hard to keep her slavedriver position. The moment Flaca conspires against Piper because she wants fair pay, she fires the Latina panty girl and blackmails her to keep her mouth shut. Piper gives her employees an unreasonably low pay, keeping the profits for herself and her family. When Ruby Rose succeeds in stealing the profits- Piper plants contraband all over Rose’s cube and drops an anonymous tip to the correctional officers that they need to search Rose’s bunk. Upon discovery of the planted makeshift weapons, lighters and drugs, Rose is immediately hauled off to maximum security prison just 2 days before she was supposed to be released. Piper’s descent into madness as a mob boss of a panty business accurately depicts white dominance. Piper has been challenged to understand her white privilege throughout the entire series, and now that she is in a position of economical power, she fails to show us that she has learned anything of value. Instead of mitigating white supremacist conventionalisms, she makes it clear that she comes from a historically dominant ethic group and is incapable of leading with a more modest and balanced role.
Through season 3 we learn a lot more about our token mute, Norma, who develops a loyal following of inmates that are seeking spiritual enlightenment, solace, connection to a higher power, and probably the most important thing for prisoners- mental and emotional acceptance and perseverance to make it through their prison sentences. The show does an exquisite job of helping us see what a slippery slope it is between spirituality and cultism, and how easy it is for a person to codify a spiritually operatic culture. It’s normal for people to want to believe in something. An entire level of Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs is dedicated to human’s innate desire to feel like they belong to something. We are social creatures and find a great deal of fulfillment in being accepted, which is what makes organized religion so popular. This is also why certain people have so easily talked others into ‘drinking the kool aid’. I don’t think Norma has any deeply malicious intent with her followers, but she likes the attention she gets- her followers constantly refer to her as their God, savior, mom, grandmother, guide and prophet. And her followers are excited to have something to believe in, someone to believe in, and are relentless in their quest for signs from the universe. This all seems fine and dandy until this cult becomes exclusive, its followers assume elitist attitudes and begin bullying an inmate so much so that she is driven into a depression and attempted suicide via pill swallowing. Whoa. Sh*t got heavy real quick. People can believe in whatever they want to believe in, but it becomes a problem when their ‘beliefs’ are harassing, bullying, and intimidating others all in the name of their ‘God’.
Alcohol & substance abuse:
My personal favorite character, Poussey, struggles hard with alcohol addiction in this season. And I understand it. She’s sad she’s in prison and she’s lonely. She just wants someone to love! I feel for her, I really do. Unfortunately, her character seems to be very misunderstood by her group of friends so she finds release in concocting her own homemade hooch and indulges in drinking it and napping all day long. While this blossoming alcoholic is meandering through her sentence, Soso tries to commit suicide in the library by downing a bunch of prescription pills she stole from the doctor’s office. When Poussey sneaks into the library to take a swig of her hooch she stashes in the ceiling, she finds Soso’s unconscious (but not dead!) body laid out on the floor among the shelves of books. I see what the writers did there. Having Poussey discover the body of an inmate who also was trying to find escape through substance abuse is probably the most effective way to get the woman off the hooch. And all of our hearts are warmed in the final episode when we see Poussey and Soso holding hands, having found what they were looking for all along – LOVE.
So while the first couple of seasons were all sex and naked women, (no complaints here), the third dives head first into some very serious societal issues. Every episode has layers of conflict, exploitation and oppression and the characters fight all these injustices while dealing with the fact their they live behind prison walls. OITNB directs spotlights over a lot of things that we struggle with, struggles other people are having, and how we may not be the person enduring the struggle but the least we can do is be allies for the cause.
And whether you watch the show for all the drama and deep sh*t, or you just like seeing all the naked ladies, this season has a lot to offer its audience – and her name is Ruby Rose.
I’ve never been to South Africa, but after reading Koko’s review of Ultra Music Festival SA, I kinda wanna go now. So if you like festivals and South Africa or just wanna give this a read, check it out!!!
I love me some music festivals.
UMF, or Ultra Music Festival, is an annual music festival of the electronic persuasion. It originated in Miami, Florida in 1999 and instantly gained popularity in the EDM world. With close to 200,000 attendees and tickets selling out every single year, the event grew and began holding international shows. It has debuted in over 9 countries worldwide and finally hit Africa in 2014.
This is the largest EDM event on the African continent, and after hearing great reviews from other PCV friends about the 2014 event, some friends and I decided 2015 was our year to venture to Johannesburg and steal a slice of this magic, which started at noon and went until the wee hours of the morn.
We walked into the expo grounds and all I can say is…oh. my god. So many beautiful people. Like I can’t even.
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a little something i wrote with the help of my bros daniel and jose for our experience at The National and Portugal. the Man show at our blog Brosters
By Airec Sype, Jose and Daniel
Note: I’m still waiting for better pictures and videos since I only have a crappy iTouch
The National along with Portugal. the Man delivered a mind-blowing musical experience at The Greek Theater in Berkley, Cali., last weekend. Already having seen Portugal. the Man last December and broiling with enormous expectations for The National, I was mentally preparing myself for an awesome night of indie music with two of my best bros: Jose and Daniel.
I was prepared to go full hipster that Saturday night (although Jose hates it when I say that).
The Greek, whose full-legal-Google-Maps name is The William Randolph Hearst Greek Theater, is located on the UC Berkley campus. Actually to be precise, this legendary music venue is located…
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So I went to a pop-punk show, The Glamour Kills Tour, two weeks back. I believe it was about two weeks back; I know I’ve been lazy and neglected to write about it. But hey (!) life is rather difficult when you work two jobs and consistently drinking all the time because I’m a product of a jobless post-grad world and there is always something fun to do in San Francisco. Well anyways, after attending TGKT, I thought (or even while still at the show) that maybe I might be getting a little too old for pop-punk shows.
I’m writing this in this blog because I don’t think this is going to be much of a music and show review as much as me complaining about how I’m getting old.
The show was held at Slim’s, a commonly used venue for all types of rock music. The last time I was there, I saw Four Year Strong. And that was a good, sweaty, moshed filled show.
To explain it would be actually pretty simple, it’s like punk music, but poppy. And the girls, which was one of the reasons why I really got into pop-punk in high school, besides me going through this sad self-loathing “emo” phase, kinda dress like actual punk-girls, but with more upkeep and make-up. They’re kinda like if a preppy girl combined with a punk girl, creating a product of hotness!!!
Prior to going into this, I knew that night was going to be filled with young tweens, mostly girls and some guys. Although, some of the guys were also wearing tight skinny jeans, with their hair also long, which resemble feminine characteristics. I don’t know or how to explain the style, but looking back at it now, I can say, who once was teenager who went through that phase, we all have baggage.
But anyways, I knew there were going to be young tweens at the show. I thought, “it’s a Monday, a school night. How bad could it be?” To my surprised, the show sold out and the tweens were out in herds, ready for a night of loud and angry and jumpily and emotional teenager drama music.
I know my friends always joke about me gunning for younger girls because I’m in a fraternity and still work at Abercrombie, but this was too much. I was surprised at what some of the girls were wearing. Now I believe that a girl can wear whatever she wants, but see this through the eyes of a future father, I was concerned.
It was that moment that my mind clicked, grinding its gears, churning the brain cells that I have left after the damage of Hurricane College; I realized that I’m getting old, and this might be one of those moments where I shouldn’t be at (unless I was escorting my well clothed daughter of course).
Back when I was young, these girls would have been my Muse and the boys my friends amigos. But then and there, I played the role of an awkward father who didn’t know what he was taking his daughter to.
Thank God that I had my friend Ivette there. She was actually the one who wanted to go, not I. But seeing how the bands Cartel and Mayday Parade got me through some tough depressing high school drama Bullsh*t of my life, I decided to accompany her. This of course gave me the “Get-out-of-jail-from-being-that-creepy-older-guy-at-a-pop-punk-show.”
Once I got my cold shivering body through the venue entrance, I did what every normal of-age adult would do at a tween gathering, HEAD STRAIGHT TO THE BAR! Luckily the beers weren’t too expensive, six bucks. I’ve been going to the Fillmore and their beers are nine.
After the first beer was gone, I fuckin’ pounded a second one, just to make sure the shame and creepy feeling of being at a pop-punk show (where I only like and not love the headlining band) would go away. Or at least numb me over a little.
I mean aside from being around teenagers that night, because all the older kids like me who also like pop-punk have real jobs after college unlike I, the bands were pretty good. I was mainly there for Cartel and Mayday Parade. I’ve never heard of Stages & Stereo and Man Overboard, but they were good.
I have NOT been keeping up with these bands. And I know they have grown as musicians, creating new forms of art in the form of music, but I just hoped to God that they play their old stuff. The little 16 year old tween inside me wanted to hear “Honestly” and “Say Anything Else” by Cartel and “Jamie All Over” and “Miserable At Best” by Mayday Parade.
Well, ask and you shall receive!
Cartel and Mayday Parade thankfully played the only four songs that I willingly paid 25 bucks for. Everything else was just a test from God, nay, a trial of my faith, to ensure that I was the chosen one to hear the sweet sound of emotional teen rock.
Here is a video of Cartels “Honestly” from that night:
This video is Mayday Parades “Miserable at Best.” This song, along with All Time Lows “Remembering Sunday,” was on my break-up playlist years ago when this girl (stupid b*tch, I know) broke my naive Asian heart. Ask my friend Jose, he will tell you what a sad sack of shit I was.
Oh my heart felt those young love pains at that moment. Them feels.
After the show was over and it was all said and done, I grabbed my friend and got the fuck out of there before some father mistook me for a creepy college dude who’s trying to bang-out their daughter.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making fun of pop-punk . . . well maybe a little. But this was just one of those things where I realize that I now have to pick and chose what I attend to. Whether it be an underground rave or some rock show, I will now have feelings of displacement during some events because of my age and that stage of “growing up.” (Post-grad problems again) If you love the music, then keep going. I’m not advising you not to. Hell, I’m pretty sure this won’t be my last pop-punk show because I still want to see Forever the Sickest Kids. See, there is still a little emo-Asian boy inside me.
Now this doesn’t mean that I’m gonna buy a three-piece-suit and go on a wine-and-cheese escapade, I’m just saying maybe my Monday nights are better spend working on my fiction and hanging out with girls around my age . . . or at least girls who are 18 with a fake ID.