By the time December 26th rolls around, Instagram was suddenly flooded with memes revolved around the new year: Confessions of how awful 2019 was. Proclamations that 2020 will be the year. Resolutions for the months that lie ahead. Even if you’re not the biggest New Years Eve fan yourself — you know the type of person who has the glasses with the year awkwardly fit on them and a sparkly outfit perfect for when they live stream with their drunk friends all screaming “3! 2!
I have a very peculiar taste when it comes to television. You won’t see me catching up on the latest Riverdale or binge-watching The Office. I pass the teen drama aisle, skip the usual laugh-and-chuckle, feet-on-the-couch sitcom, and maybe linger on the pretty cover of a new superhero series before moving on. I’m either on the edge of my seat sobbing over a dog on Game of Thrones or sitting in the dark contemplating my existence in Westworld. However, there is a third option.
As I get older and wiser (all 21 years and six months), I’ve come to realize that although I am an American, America (or my country) was not made for me. This land of the free was made on the backs of my ancestors who did not enjoy such freedoms. Having grown up in mostly white environments and choosing to attend a predominantly white university, I’ve become accustomed to being the only black girl in the room. My norm is either being singled out as the point person to explain race or feeling that people don’t want to speak about race around me. My norm is being put in awkward or uncomfortable situations where people might comment on my complexion, make intrusive inquiries about how I choose to wear my hair, or objectify the bodies of those who look like me. Even more so, I’ve become painfully aware of how society arbitrarily picks and chooses when to uplift black women, put them down, profit off of them, then push them aside.
A week ago, my roommate asked me if he could use my Netflix account. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. He was a friend and I had an account, so of course I said yes. A few days later, it hit me that I was subscribed to a product that could be shared amongst as many people as possible—that not all Netflix users are viewed and accounted for equally. After some research, I learned that amongst the deep sea of products and services that charge a routine fee for membership, Netflix actually stands closer to businesses that try to incentivize paying a bit extra for more shared users (e.g. Spotify) than ones that aim to eliminate all loopholes for sharing (e.g. a Cornell gym membership).
I am not ashamed to admit it, but I am an avid Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise watcher, debriefer, and obsessor. For the last six months or so, my Monday and Tuesday nights have been dedicated to watching who gets the first impression rose, the ever-coveted one-on-one date, and finally the Neil Lane ring. The franchise’s premise is a bit unorthodox; one person dates 25 people over the course of about 12 weeks in the hopes of getting engaged, then weeks later the Bachelor/Bachelorette rejects get shipped off to Mexico to find love in Paradise. It seems weird, but somehow it works. The Bachelor franchise offers viewers the fairytale experience without having to leave their couches. The show transports viewers to a mansion filled with beautiful women dressed in evening gowns, or handsome men in tuxedos.
I have always had a dumbfounded expression whenever a Star Trek reference has been made around me; I am not the most avid sci-fi fan, nor do I even understand what the Star Trek craze is all about (yes, I have received questioning looks). When my Residence Hall Director, Eric, announced we would be watching an episode at our RA staff meeting, I didn’t qute understand how this related to the usual theme of our discussions, which usually revolve around raging social debates and issues. He mentioned the series turning fifty this year, and I assumed this meeting would be a tiny break from our usual motif. We watched “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”, where the ship encounters two duo-chromatic aliens who bring their own conflict onboard. The overly theatrical acting and lack of fancy special effects aside, the subtle social and political connotations that still hold for the present day political scenario quite frankly, left me astonished.
When I went home for winter break and saw The Prince Who Turns Into A Frog broadcasting on television for the twentieth time since its first airing in 2005, I still felt the nostalgia that only certain dramas can evoke in me. The plot is quite cliché and unrealistic at times, but it is one of those classic dramas that unknowingly makes you accept the impossible for the hour that it broadcasts just so you can immerse yourself in the romantic fantasy of the drama. As expected, The Prince Who Turns Into A Frog revolves around the love story between a poor girl and a rich man – you know the gist. But their relationship is actually much more complicated than you think, with Shan Jun Hao, the CEO of a hotel chain, constantly getting into accidents and losing his memory and Ye Tian Yu, an ambitious gold digger, falling in love with the contrived identity she gave Jun Hao when he first loses his memory. Not to mention, Jun Hao was already engaged with his childhood friend Fan Yun Xi when he falls in love with Tian Yu after Tian Yu takes care of him while he remains clueless about his own past.