The legacy of the 1988 romantic comedy in the America of 2021

John D. Kisch — Getty Images

When it released in 1988, John Landis’s Coming to America marked a turning point in Eddie Murphy’s breakout film career. He had proven his chops as a comedy actor and taken a few swings at playing an action star, but this marked another side of his talent with a more traditional role in a romantic comedy. The film itself would be anything but traditional, with Murphy’s character, Prince Akeem, remarking early in the film how it is “tradition that times must and always do change.”

Coming to America also kicked off a cinematic trend for Murphy in his depiction of…


How Ian Samuels explores new territory in a well-worn trope

Amazon Studios

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, the new Amazon Studios film by director Ian Samuels and written by Lev Grossman (The Magicians), expects that you know the premise of Groundhog Day. And Edge of Tomorrow. And have at least a familiarity with Taxi Driver, X-Men, and Time Bandits. If you don’t understand the cinematic trope of the time loop, it’s too late because we’re already in one. So catch up.

In much the same way that recent superhero movies have dispensed with the need to lay out the origin story…


The sacrifice of meaning for mystery

Amazon Studios

It’s obvious from the start that something is amiss in Amazon’s new sci-fi, romance film from writer/director Mike Cahill (Another Earth). We’re immediately bombarded with a sensory overload of alarms and demands and information that establishes the near-constant state of tension for much of the story. The seeds of suspicion are planted early on as the film taps a mood that feels reminiscent of The Truman Show or The Matrix. But where those classics ease their initial tension to advance the larger narrative, Bliss wallows in it. Cahill clearly has no qualms about making his passengers uncomfortable while careening across…


How the poet connects America’s past to its future.

Photo by Sasin Tipchai on Pixabay

Plenty of history was made on January 20, 2021. Plenty of firsts. Plenty of barriers broken. And while it’s easy to get swept up in the currents of politics that dominate our attention, there was another current flowing strong that day. National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman not only became the youngest poet to recite at a presidential inauguration, but did so with a fresh, vibrant vision of a new American Dream.

The American Dream has faced an identity crisis in recent decades as our visions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness evolve. This is not to say…


How to improve your writing through speaking and listening

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

We’ve all heard about public speaking’s status as most people’s number-one fear. As an English and creative writing educator for over 10 years, I’ve learned just how many students would rather take a failing grade instead of presenting a project to a class of their peers. But any teacher knows there are workarounds available for alternative settings or presenting to a small group instead of an entire class. In extreme cases, submitting a recording of the reading is just as valid an option. …


Photo by D A V I D S O N L U N A on Unsplash

Q. Anon
Freshman English
January 6, 2021

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the Deep State

William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet around the year 1600, influenced in part by the death of his son, Hamnet. Misspellings matter! The play focuses on prince Hamlet of Denmark fighting corruption and terrorist forces, guided by the ghost of his murdered Patriot father, JFK. Hamlet is assisted at times by his loyal friend Horatio and even the soldier Marcellus, who notes that, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” (Shakespeare 1.4.95). DEEP STATE of Denmark? January 4, 1995: Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House. Coincidence?

Prince Hamlet is forced to defend against…


What we mean when we say “fair.”

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Ask an average person on the street if they believe that justice is good or bad and you’ll get an overwhelming response that it’s a good idea. Justice is a value of such universal appeal that we regularly incorporate it into children’s narratives and pop culture brands. The most widespread example in recent years is the superhero genre in film and television, in which characters like Batman, Superman, and Captain America incorporate the value of justice directly into their identity.

If justice is so foundational to our values, then it should be pretty easy to agree on what it looks…


How repetition and structure can enhance your poetry’s content.

Photo by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash

Forms and styles of poetry change over time, just like any other art. Such hallmarks from the genre’s history like metrical feet and rhyme schemes now tend to feel a bit antiquated. And our modern consumption of brief, accessible instapoetry certainly breaks with the longform, narrative origins of historical poetry.

But just like any other fashion, certain trends have a way of coming back in style when the right combination of circumstances arise. And it’s with this consideration in mind that the poetic form of the pantoum comes to mind.

The pantoum was adapted from the Malayan pantun and later…


How the film obscures the thrill of exploration.

“The Midnight Sky” — Netflix

Netflix’s The Midnight Sky presents itself as a spin on Interstellar’s premise of cosmic and environmental disasters grounded in family bonds, only with a returning space crew rather than a departing one. And while the film doesn’t skimp on disaster or on family, it ends up looking a lot more like The Day After Tomorrow in its final shape.

Where Interstellar focused on the story of one man’s journey and the perils along the way, The Midnight Sky hedges by trying to tell a mix of a diverse ensemble story while also following the hero’s personal quest.

And despite the…


Photo by Chewy on Unsplash

With Christmas just around the corner, plenty of busy pet owners are pulling their hair out over concerns about finding the perfect gift for their animal companions. Even on a tight schedule with a tight budget, there are still some great gift options available that won’t ruin your pet’s holiday.

6. Food

Most animals really enjoy eating. In fact, before domestication, many species that we now own as pets would spend the majority of their free time seeking out food in the same way that we seek out the next series to binge on Netflix. …

Aaron Meacham

My name anagrams to “a man becomes.” I love movies and Kurt Vonnegut. I don’t understand how anagrams work.

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