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November 26, 2014 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-11-26

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 5A


The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 5A

Hip Hop Congress
a 'U' music forum

'Grey's' heart is still
beating after 11 seasons

Student organization
explores all facets
of the genre
DailyArts Writer
At the intersection of hip
hop and social action lies
the University's Hip Hop
Congress, an organization
focusing on the sociocultural,
political and artistic impacts.
of hip-hop culture. Since
the national organization
reestablished its chapter on
campus in 2010 after a two-
year hiatus brought on by a
decline in. membership, the
congress has continued to
boast a strong following and
promote positivity.
As a good kid in this
m.A.A.d city himself, LSA
senior Joe Hermann serves as
the organization's president.
Often drawing inspiration
from his favorite rappers
such as Kendrick Lamar and
their tales of triumph against
gang violence and drug use,
Hermann believes there is
an empathetic aspect of the
congress' namesake genre.
"That's what I think has
stuck with me most about hip
hop, opening me up to how
people are more products of
social conditions than they
are necessarily poor choices,"
Hermann said. "I just gained
greater empathy for people of
all backgrounds because of
hip hop."
This empathy and
acceptance drawn from hip
hop fuels the organization's
positive impact across
campus. With 30-40 active
members, the congress is
a diverse group, yet all are
bound together by their love
of the music.
"When we have our
meetings and we're talking
about a new album, so
many people from different
backgrounds think it's dope
and they can all relate to
it in different ways and for
different reasons," Hermann
said. "I think that's one
thing I really appreciate
about our organization, how
it draws together people
from different backgrounds
to have conversations about

something they love."
Meetings are really
in-depth discussions, with
topics ranging from Kanye's
latest shenanigans to the
prejudices stemming from
the hip-hop stereotypes. The
congress serves to explore
issues of race, class and the
prison-industrial complex,
all while striving to uphold.
the positive aspects of hip-
hop culture's history and
"We'll watch one or two
music videos, we'll talk about
what we thought about it. I
usually try to bring one or
two topics of relevant hip
hop news," Hermann said.
"There's a real sense of
community and we just try
to have good discussions and
try and.create a little bit too
while we're there."
Along with dropping
beats (the organization is
currently in the process
of creating a mixtape), the
congress attempts to educate
its followers on the roots of
hip-hop culture's negative
"A lot of hip hop is very
misogynistic and that comes
out of other conditions, you
know,'what are the social
conditions that produce
misogyny?' and often times
its poverty, lack of access to
equitable housing, lack of
access to jobs, poor education,"
Hermann said. "So when I
think about music that has
those negative qualities, I don't
blame the artist, but I blame
the social conditions that it
comes out of."
Due to the equal focus on
arts and social justice, the
group includes an eclectic mix
of mebers - complete with
aspiring rappers, clothing
designers and writers.
"People are both extremely
knowledgeable about politics
and social conditions, but
they're also extremely creative,
so they're thinking of creative
ways to approach problems,"
Hermann said.
The creative minded
organization hosts annual
events, often boasting
noteworthy speakers. During
last fall's presentation by Kanye
West affiliate, Rhymefest, the
rapper spoke of his Chicago-
based poetry workshop

collaboration with West,
designed to stem youth violence
and foster greater political
tparticipation. During the second
half of the year, the congress
hosted an Immortal Technique
concert at the Michigan Union.
The group also worksto falsify
unfavorable reputations of gang
culture in various cities such as
Detroit and Pittsburgh, with the
help of guest hip-hop activists
Piper Carter and rapper GsiriX,
each from the aforementioned
cities, respectively.
Events usually attract a
crowd of about 200 and aim to
encourage a stronger following
of the University chapter. In
terms of localizing the breadth
of the national organization,
Hermann believes in the
preservation of the national
organization's ideals regarding
respect and political activism
and connecting these to local
"For example, last year we
did an event called Hip Hop
Made Me Do It, which was
held at Rackham and sort of
around the time BBUM was
happening, we tried to gather
students and local leaders
to talk about the actual
issues related to race on our
campus and in the Ann Arbor
community," Hermann said.
"We tried to take the tradition
and spirit of the national
organization and apply it to
local issues, and also just show
love to local hip hop artists."
In accordance with the
goals of their predecessor rap-
icons, the congress strives
to eradicate the common
misconception that hip hop
and social justice are mutually
exclusive. Hermann is hopeful
that the group will continue to
showcase collections of music
that are neither misogynistic
nor violent.
"Talib Kweli, Mos Def,
Kendrick Lamar ... there's
all sorts of rappers who are
making music that has a
positive message as well and
are aware of the platform
that they're on as pop culture
figures," Hermann said. "I
like that our organization
has been able to facilitate
meaningful conversations and
left an impact on people where
they're legitimately pursuing
things that aren't necessarily
hip hop related."

Mid-season finale
prepares viewers
for saga's end
Daily Arts Writer
The "Grey's Anatomy" mid-
season finale, "Risk," premiered
Nov. 21. While the episode was
slightly less
dramatic B
than fans Grey's
have grown
accustomed Anatomy
to, leaving Season Eleven
only two real Mid-Season
instead of Finale
the usual Thursdays at 8 p.m.
five or six, it ABC
was no less
satisfying. The weaker parts
of the episode - including the
fact that its goal seemed to be to
force the break up of every single
couple - were compensated for
by the last two minutes, which
forcefully reminded audiences of
what this show can be like at its
strongest, and what makes it so
addictingly heartbreaking without
compromising the integrity of its
Fans of "Grey's Anatomy"
entered this season skeptical,
wondering if the long-running
drama could maintain its
momentum for yet another
season - and one without Cristina
(Sandra Oh, "Sideways"), one of
the show's central characters
since the beginning. The season
feels slightly drawn out, but while
Cristina's absence has been sorely
felt - especially within Meredith
(EllenPompeo, "Life oftheParty")
and Derek's (Patrick Dempsey,
"Enchanted") relationship,
in which Cristina had been a
fundamentalthirdparty, the show
One of the plot drivers of this
episode - the reveal that Jackson
Avery (Jesse Williams, "The
Cabin in the Woods") and April


'Yes, that's ritht, we're all actsally docsrs."

Kepner's (Sarah Drew, "Moms'
Night Out") baby possibly has
fatal complications - adds
unneeded drama to a storyline
that's already interesting enough:
seeing if their relationship can
survive the trials of caring for a
newborn on top of the problems
already posed by their different
views on religion. The fact that
Jackson's ex-girlfriend diagnoses
these complications isn't ironic or
a source of comic relief, but just
Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez,
"Chicago") and Arizona Robbins
(Jessica Capshaw, "Minority
Report") finally have a scene
together without one of them
ending up in a rage; the lack of
jaw-dropping drama in favor of
unobtrusive displays of quiet
emotion is a welcome change and
gives the audience a moment to
breathe. Justin Chambers ("The
Wedding Planner") continues to
give a stellar performance as Alex
Karev, the original black sheep of
the family who is finally coming
into his own as a mature adult. The
scenes in which he bluntly gives
Meredith and Arizona the advice
they need subtly hint that he's
readytotake over as the flawedyet
true moral compass of the group.
Of course, the show's most
dynamic couple continues to be
Meredith and Derek, who seem
to be heading towards their
deepest divideyet. In the finale,
Meredith's newfound half-sister
Maggie (Kelly McCreary, "Being
Flynn") acts as a catalyst for the

couple to fight until they reach a
breaking point. The final - and
by far the best - scene of the
episode is between the two of
them and features some of writer
Shonda Rhimes's most impressive
work. Derek makes a phone call
accepting a job offer that will
take him away from his family,
never breaking eye contact with
Meredith. She tells him to go,
and go now, her current reality of
watching Derek walk away from
her blended with dim childhood
flashbacks of watching her own
mother call after the love of her
life. Derek and Meredith's pain is
palpable without being pushy. It's
impossible to watch them arguing
without remembering where
they came from and what they've
been through, and both- Pompeo
and Dempsey bring nuances to
their performances that remind
audiences of how much they've
grown and fleshed out their
characters overthe years.
The way that season 11 is going
so far, every poignant scene holds
elements reminiscent of years
past; the last seconds of the finale
do so overtly, featuring a chilling
montage of the most poignant
turning points of Meredith's
life in Seattle. This collection of
snippets from every season, more
than anything else in the episode,
reminds the audience, of what
"Grey's" used to be and could
return to, while 1 to eeming to
gently prepare the audience for
the inevitable close of this long-

The lasting legacy of The
Nightmare Before Christmas'


Students should support
student art, shows at 'U'

DailyArts Writer
This past weekend, I had
the opportunity to see an
entirely student-created piece
of theatre. Skylar Tarnas, a
sophomore in the Residential
College, wrote the show,
entitled "Breaking News,"
and it was produced and
performed by the RC Players.
It was tremendous, in terms
of acting and writing, and
the message the audience
was left with was incredibly
powerful. But as I was sitting
in the audience, what struck
me most was the fact that
everything I was seeing was
created by students. The
words were written by a
student, the play was directed
by a student, even the set was
made by students.
Of course Tarnas isn't
the only student on campus
creating top-notch original
art. Throughout the
University, individuals are
creating new works all the
time, in dance, photography,
music, painting or poetry.
And as fellow students, it's
our job to support them.
University sponsored
events receive the best
publicity, the best venues and
usually the largest audiences.

Student-created art isn't
usually that lucky, often
debuting wherever they can
find space, whether that's in
empty classrooms or a rented
conference room. That's why
it's so important to attend as
many events as possible, not
only to support the student
artists, but also simply to
absorb as much original work
as you can.
You'll never be in a place
where so much new art is
being made so frequently
and is so easily accessible
ever again. Just this last
weekend, students had the
ability to see a play, an a
cappella concert, a musical,
a quirky percussion group
and an orchestra perform,
all of which were made up
of, run by and performed
by students. Access to all of
these events was either free
or significantly discounted
for students.
The level of variety
and abundance of art
events wasn't a one-time
coincidence: every weekend
there are just as many,
sometimes even more, student
art events happening. To not
take advantage of as many as
possible would just be a waste
of amazing resources. But by
attending student art events,

you're not only increasing
your own appreciation of
various art mediums, you're
also encouraging student
artists to keep creating, to
keep experimenting and to
keep inspiring. Eventually
these student artists will
leave the University, and
they may go on to become
critically-acclaimed artists in
whichever field they choose,
but their start will always be
at Michigan, and you can say
you were a part of it.
Wherever your interests lie
in the arts, there are students
producing new pieces in that
field. If you're a fan of comedy,
check out Comco or any of the
other student improv groups
on campus. If you like theatre,
the RC Players and Basement
Arts put on various original
student pieces throughout
the year. If you're really into
a cappella, there are dozens
of groups to choose from,
including the very popular
G-Men. And if full orchestra
performances are your thing,
then you may want to go see
a Michigan Pops concert. But
don't get overwhelmed by all
the choices, because it doesn't
really matter what you go
and see as long as you see
something. Just get out and
support student art.

Daily Arts Writer
With October done and gone,
November dreary as ever and
December waiting with its handful
of frost just around the corner, we
have entered into the period at
the end of the year when holiday
spirit changes from. frightful to
plentiful to delightful in a matter
of weeks. While for many people
this excitement evokes a festive
cheer, for some it delivers a keen
melancholy, a ghoulish sadness
exacerbated by the weather,
the shortened days, a falsity of
spirit or recognition of missed
The holidays have this kind of
For me, one movie has
always captured the whole
spectrum of holiday emotion.
Tim Burton's "The Nightmare
Before Christmas" touches on
everything from fear to elation
to confusion, and it does so with
wonderful inagination. It's a film
of stark originality and creation
- irreplaceable by any standard.
The darkness of its storylends the
whole project a necessaryrealism,
which, takenin effect, mirrorsthe
little windows of sobering reality
we glance through betweenbouts
of holiday folly and festivity.
In his 1993 feature about "The
Nightmare Before Christmas,"
Blaise Simpson described Burton
as a lonely child who would often
look to the holidays as escape.
As Burton recalled in their
discussion, "Anytime there was
Christmas or Halloween ... it was
great. It gave you some sort of
texture all of a sudden that wasn't
there before."
After completing "Vincent"
in 1982, Burton drew from
such holiday-film inspiration
as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed
Reindeer" and "How the Grinch


The Grinch's skinny, crackhead cousin.
Stole Christmas!" to write a
three-page poem called "The
Nightmare Before Christmas."
As new ideas came to him, he,
would add to or adjust the poem.
Eventually, with the help of craft-
genius Rick Heinrichs, he started
to storyboard and tinker with
concept art. He and Heinrichs
went to director Henry Selick,
also a famous animator, to gauge
studio interest. ThoughSelick was
impressed, the project stalled.
According to Pat H. Broeske
in her 1991 piece "Dusting Off
Burton,""'The Nightmare Before
Christmas' wasoriginallydeemed
'too weird' and put on the back
burner by the studio." So in 1984,
Burton left the project alone.
In the years following, Burton's
offbeat, slightly macabre style
became enormously popular. As
he added part of the "Batman"
series, "Beetlejuice" and "Edward
Scissorhands" to his repertoire,
the movie-going public had
developed a strong affinity for
his bizarre and creative visions.
In 1990, Burton returned to
Disney and was given the rights
to produce a full-length feature
version of "The Nightmare Before
Christmas" along with Selick as

director. They began production
in the summer of 1991. It would
take them two full years to
Over 120 workers used 20
different stages to create the
accurate stop-motion filming.
They used 227 unique puppet
characters to capture a total of
109,440 frames. Composer Danny
Elfman penned and scored 10
original songs. The film grossed
more than 4.5 times the original
$18 million budget.The numbers
are staggering, the results more
"The Nightmare Before
Christmas" takes viewers to a
familiar but indistinct part of
their imagination, and like a
dream they've had throughout
their lives without really knowing
what it meant or what happened,
they wander through the spectral
territory in a wash of perplexity
imagined, every nook and every
crevice holds a rightful place, and
if all the scenery and shadowy
portraits of a not-so-scary
nightmare point to one thing, it
would be this: that sometimes,
dwelling in the spooky, fantastical
parts of our mind isn't allthat bad.

a '

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