Examining Boldness in Alice Wu’s The Half of It

By Ayanna Smith

After finishing The Half of It, a coming-of-age film by Alice Wu starring Leah Lewis, I was left thinking about boldness. What exactly does it mean to be bold? Google defines it as “a willingness to take risks and act innovatively.” I associate boldness with taking a leap of faith. In The Half of It, Alice Wu shows us boldness is maybe more complex than we give it credit. It can be small and simple or it can be completely outrageous, but it’s always in service of one finding their authentic self.

A quick rundown. Our protagonist Ellie Cho (Leah Lewis) is a shy Asian-American teen who understands her place in the world. She is barely meant to be seen, but at the same time is responsible for keeping her and her father afloat. She has a knack for writing, which is why her classmate, Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) enlists her help with writing love letters to his crush, Aster (more on her later). Paul is a small-town jock. He’s goofy and good at football. The type that never gave much thought about life outside of their small hometown of Squahamish. And then there is Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire), the girl next door that everyone (including Ellie!) has a crush on. On the outside, she seems like the perfect Christian girl, but she’s hiding her true self. She’s deeper than the average Squahamishite and likes to spend her time reading books rather than standing on the sideline cheering on her boyfriend.

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Meghann Henry’s Tool for Leading What If Puppets? Diversity is Key.

By Sophia-Joelle Oswald
Photos by Travis Young

Meghann Henry stepped into a man’s legacy and made it her own when she joined What if Puppets just a few years ago. What started as a team of three has grown to 11 team members led by Henry who are making a large impact on the Kansas City community. 

These days the group leans heavily into knocking down barriers. No longer male-dominated, they’re creating characters who depict a range of people who face unique challenges and come from all walks of life. An effort has been made to hire women and non-binary folks—so there’s diverse representation in everything What If Puppets does.

We sat down with Henry to discuss what it’s like to be a woman in puppetry, the impact What if Puppets has on the community, and what we can look forward to in 2023.

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Feminist-friendly frights: Horror movies worth a watch

By Sophia-Joelle Oswald

For a movie to pass the Bechdel Test it must have at least two named women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Which is, quite frankly, the bare minimum. Thousands of movies have been tested for the Bechdel Test, but less than 57% of the films in the database meet all three of these criteria. 

Horror is the only film genre where women speak as often as men. Shocking, right? (Ha, see what we did there.)

Many horror movies put women at the center, giving them a chance to tell their own stories and share their points of view. 

As with all genres, there was a time when horror movies constantly portrayed female characters in an unempowering light. The final girl trope is the perfect example of this. The final girl is the last woman left alive at the end of a horror or slasher film. She alone is still standing, left to either defeat the killer or describe the series of events to the authorities. The final girl is a major part of many successful horror movies like Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween

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Midnights: Swapping Stories at Swift’s Sleepover

By Hanna Ellington

A master of reinvention, Taylor Swift pivots toward reflection with her latest release, Midnights

The album in its entirety feels similar to being at a long-awaited sleepover, where the brazen story-swapping continues long after the lights are turned out. Her 10th studio album serves as a formal departure from the imaginative stories of folklore and evermore, capturing an honest exploration of personal faults and private vulnerabilities. Accented by the return of her ever-catchy pop sound, Midnights illuminates the subtle intricacies of late-night talking and restless ponderings through its substance under the moody, synth-pop surface.

Midnights toys with what keeps you up at night, with subjects ranging from self-examination, karmic revenge, and notches in the bedpost. Combining elements of candid, late-night musings with polished and dreamy synthesized backings, Swift’s personal examination fuses her past personas and experiences to create a matured, subdued, and introspective package. Defined by her color-coded and recognizable eras, Midnights analyzes “13 sleepless nights scattered through my life,” according to her August 29 Instagram announcement, giving an intimate perspective on the inner workings of her mind and life in the spotlight.

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Women to Watch—A New World: 2024, KC’s newest art exhibit

By Nicole Mitchell

Kansas City’s Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is opening its newest art exhibit this month: the Women to Watch exhibition (Women to Watch—A New World: 2024). The series has been held every few years and invites women artists from across the country to respond to a theme picked by Washington, D.C.-based organization National Museum of Women Artists (NMWA) curators. Kemper participated most recently in the series in 2019 with Paper Routes—Women to Watch 2020. This exhibition will be the seventh total installment of the Women to Watch series.

The theme for this year’s exhibition was inspired by the events of 2020, including a global health pandemic, intense calls for social reform, and political division. Artists across the U.S. used this as inspiration to express visions of a new world.

This year, Kemper’s presentation of Women to Watch—A New World: 2024 features five local artists Mona Cliff/HanukGahNé (Spotted Cloud) (Aaniiih, born 1977), Bianca Fields (American, born 1995), Bev Gegen (American, born 1937), Melanie Johnson (American, born 1978), and Sun Young Park (South Korean, born 1990). The presentation was juried by Kemper Museum Director of Curatorial Affairs Erin Dziedzic and presented in cooperation with the Greater Kansas City Area Committee of the NMWA.

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