The Key: Young Critics Mentorship Program is back with this year’s Multimedia Edition. After a class session with Vulture staff writer Angelica Jade Bastien, we encouraged our students to write about any piece of art that was not live theatre. The topics chosen range from the legacy of Breaking Bad in media, to the Joffrey Ballet’s Jane Eyre, to William Tyler’s album cover art. Finding your passion is a key component of a sustainable career in arts journalism! This year’s cohort: Ada Alozie, Alisa Boland, Anyah Royale Akanni, Hannah Antman, Mariah Schultz, and Yiwen Wu. The viewpoints of the authors are entirely their own. The Key is co-facilitated by Oliver Sava and Regina Victor.
Ada Alozie, Breaking Bad: “When Breaking Bad was airing, it was hard to escape the personification of Walter White as an anti-hero: the word critics used to describe a white man with nebulous ethics, involved in shady (albeit) criminal activity. The anti-hero felt like it was everywhere in the early 2010s. I accepted the anti-hero label without thought when I was younger. As I was rewatching the series now, I couldn’t help thinking why the word anti-hero had been used to describe this character when it was so clear to me that Walter White was a straight-up villain.” – Read Ada Alozie’s full critique and learn more about the author!
Mariah Schultz, A Star is Born: “A tale as old as four times, watching all versions of A Star is Born is no easy task. It requires more commitment than your average Netflix binge, clocking in at around ten hours. On the verge of a journey a year in the making to see Lady Gaga perform her prestigious Enigma residency on Halloween, I decided now was the perfect occasion to view them all. Gaga made her film debut in the 2018 incarnation of A Star is Born about two talented albeit tragic lovers; but Gaga’s luminary career in music, fashion, and social justice borrows breadcrumbs from this story that are equally enriching and of course, dramatic.” – Read Mariah Schultz’s full critique and learn more about the author!
Hannah Antman, Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner: “In Netflix’s newest food series Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, James Beard and award-winning chef David Chang bring us back for an extra helping of cultural and culinary exploration. Last year, Chang’s inaugural food and travel series Ugly Delicious hit our Netflix queues, and we collectively lost our minds — and found our appetites. The show focuses on a different food in each episode, traveling around the world and talking to food experts along the way while exploring the history and cultural context of tacos, pizza, fried rice. Yum. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, is a four episode joyride, this time focusing on Chang’s celebrity friends and the cities they love to eat in. Though Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner often holds more fluff than fat, it serves as a great companion to Ugly Delicious, and is a flavorful look into people and the places that feed them.” – Read Hannah Antman’s full critique and learn more about the author!
Alisa Boland, Jane Eyre at the Joffrey Ballet: “It is no accident that Jane’s inner demons are male. The bold choice to include the D-men is one of the many ways in which Marston, one of the few female ballet choreographers, explores the fraught gendered elements of Bronte’s story. Indeed, the production plays with the unsettling power-dynamic of Rochester and Jane’s relationship: Rochester enters and dances with members of the male ensemble with ease and playfulness, showing that he is not only a beneficiary but an active member of the same system that constrains Jane. Indeed, the ballet becomes almost as much about his transformation from a self-indulgent tyrant to a person with the capacity to defer to Jane. Nevertheless, the story is undoubtedly Jane’s: it is she whose strength and grace shines throughout the plot and performance, it is she who leads Rochester in their final pas de deux, and it is she who stands alone on the stage as the final curtain drops.” – Read Alisa Boland’s full critique and learn more about the author!
Yiwen Wu, Robert Beatty’s album art for William Tyler’s “Goes West”: “Opening William Tyler’s 2019 album “Goes West” is Robert Beatty’s gaze into the colors of music. In this world, the “West” is green, and so are our eyes and ears. Accompanying Tyler’s journey to the universe in simple and wordless music such as “Not in Our Star,” “Venus in Aquarius,” “Our Lady of the desert,” Beatty unfolds the musical cosmos in free shapes and clean shades, so our eyes and ears resonate in the same key. In lights and shadows, between dots and lines, we can hear the whimsical music traveling through space, traversing the universe.” – Read Yiwen Wu’s full critique and learn more about the author!
Anyah Royale Akanni, Crazy Rich Asians: “The structure of romantic comedy serves as a first layer of accessibility to an audience who may not relate as readily. And yet Crazy Rich Asians was able to embody the aspects of a classic rom-com without feeling cliche. This could have been because instead of watching a traditionally white woman be swept off her feet by a traditionally white man, we see the humble and honest love of Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and Nick Young (Henry Golding), both impressive as a well-educated Chinese-American woman and a wealthy stylish bachelor from Singapore. Things become tricky for Rachel as the news of her partners’ wealth is revealed during a trip to his family estate in Singapore. There, she is met by his suspicious and judgemental family all the while adjusting to the customs and boundaries confronting her at every turn.” Read Anyah Royale Akanni’s full critique and learn more about the author!