Category - Entertainment News

Mona Marshall Talks Sex, Erotic Art, and New Web Comic

ATM: You annotated readings while an English major in college.

MM: Yes. I was greatly influenced by Existentialism. I was one of those naïve midwestern kids. I grew up without the benefit of a mother from the time I was 14, which is when she died. I felt different which is the artist kind of thing. I never got along with my older sister. My dad died when I was 21. I was alienated from the family. My sister and father dealt with bipolar issues, but no one back then knew what this was. I went to college thinking here was Enlightenment, especially studying literature. I was extremely disappointed. As most 18 years old’s who are serious, I felt very helpless. I have always been into history and liked reading about the French Resistance.

This was the heart of Existentialism in a way. Here you had a group of people fighting against an overwhelming obnoxious force trying to take their lives and their country. These people never gave up. At this time, I read a book by Albert Camus called the Plague. All the truth has been written, how to deal with each other, how to be caring. Yet we continue to make these horrific mistakes. As a very young and naïve person, I felt helpless. I read the Plague and in it, he talks about once you are aware of the absurdity of the world you have four choices. The first one is to commit suicide.

Some of us do this directly with drugs or alcohol. The second is to extrapolate yourself from the absurdity. You become a hermit, isolate, and begin to live off the grid. The third is to click off your awareness and become a part of the absurdity. The fourth is to find meaning in what you do, being responsible for yourself, and in doing so you make changes the world. This idea appealed to me and this was my salvation. I still thought I was going to be an English professor at this time. I realized how political it was and I stopped lying to myself about wanting to be an entertainer. A part of this decision I owe to my first husband. I said, “I should go out for a play this year.” He said, “Why don’t you get up off your ass and do it?” So, I thank him for this and my last name. I am a very creative and reflective person. I’ve loved performing from the time I was small. They said I could hum before I could talk, and I believed them.

I wrote and made up songs as a kid. I was a heavy set, wore glasses and never felt a part of anything except when I would sing, dance and write. Fast forward to coming out to LA wanting to be a serious actress. This was kind of a joke. I should have gone to New York. I was teaching at a private professional school for young actors. One of my 5th graders was taking a voiceover workshop with the late Daws Butler (voice of Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Cap’n Crunch. His mom kept nagging me to take his class. said “You should do this. You would be really good at it.” I did not know what voiceover was. I took her advice, walked into Daws Butler’s workshop, and was blown away! I thought “I can be anything doing this. I am not limited by age, sex, or ethnicity.” Woah this is heaven for an actor.

ATM: When you annotate you go through the piece of work to highlight what is important. This is usually done with a highlighter or pen. Do you agree that your show South Park highlighting the hypocrisy in America is like annotating a piece of literature?

MM: South Park says, “If you are not walking the way you talk, then you are a part of hypocrisy.” We can all be hypocrites partly because of ignorance and partly because we can be a stubborn jackass. Stop pointing the finger at someone else.” Annotation for me, I’m referring to an annotated edition of a Sherlock Holmes book I read many years ago. I’m a big Sherlock Holmes fan. (There is a Robin William story that goes with this) is: let’s say you’re reading a line and you are not sure what it really means in context. An annotation gives you an historical and event time frame: this came at this time and this is when such and such happened. It is a reference to so and so. If you read a lot of early literature, especially the Romantics, the Greeks, Homer, etc., they used mythology so much. You might annotate which myth or character they are referencing and then get a better idea of how it relates to the reading. I guess you could say South Park annotates current events and society. Things happening today which will become history tomorrow.

ATM: It analyzes the world and society. The controversial things that happen.

MM: What they really do is point out hypocrisy, which we need. If we are going to be sitting there talking about how awful we are, then we better be looking at our part in it. We are only looking at it, instead of trying to make this better. We are a part of the problem and not the solution. In Adventures with Puss and Dick, I am trying to point out the problem and look at the possibilities of solutions. “If we cannot see someone else’s point of view, then we are missing the chance to relate and communicate.”

ATM: We all should see everyone’s point of view. Some of your characters change into each other’s bodies. They changed gender positions, which allowed them to see various systemic differences. We need this because sometimes if someone taps into reversal psychology or when something is done from a different perspective, then they see it differently.

MM: Absolutely. It does not necessarily mean you have to agree. If you understand a point of view, then you can begin to make a compromise. If you look around at the people on social media, then you see they can be very vitriolic. Most people are not interested in making a connection; we are more interested in getting across our point of view. This is not communication, this is soapboxing. Looking back at my years on South Park I realize that the show has been quite an influence in how I think. Going back to the story about finding comfort in Existentialism – the thing is our lives have meaning on a daily basis.

How we treat each other every day has meaning and repercussion of great consequence, and we may never know exactly how. It’s like throwing a pebble into the water: you see those ripples and the go on and on spreading outward. That one action reaches out in so many ways. Every time we treat someone poorly, this reflects on society as a whole. Every time we treat someone with kindness, or we are caring, this reflect on society too, and it makes a difference. They both have impact on the world around us.

I have been thinking about this and how our actions impact others, because that has so much to do with my animation project. The episode we’re using in the pitch is the last episode on the web comic: Stop! Enough!! Time’s Up!!! It’s timely given what’s come down in the last couple of years.  About two weeks before we were ready to record voices, I was working on the script. I suddenly realized that I needed to create a real antagonist. Then, like a bolt of lightning it hit me.

Inside every one of us, there is that fearful and nasty voice that gets to us sometimes when we are the most vulnerable and susceptible to listen and then there’s a real danger of doing what it wants! This is how the character Dreck (which means “shit” in Yiddish) was born. It is an amorphous character that comes out of whomever is in conflict and in a hoarse whisper tries to bring out our worst “Oh, go ahead you know you want to do this; it’ll make you feel so good! They deserve this because they’re in your way and you’re so much better!” This is a voice of fear and dread that we all have with in us.

ATM: This character sounds like the starting effects of depression.

MM: That’s exactly what Dreck can turn into despair and depression. If you listen only to that voice, then you are drawing only on your input. This tends to make our worlds smaller and smaller and it sets up a barrier to anything that is different. Dreck brings out the egotist and the bully. It wants us to believe we are the end all and be all. It tells us we are a king as we transform into a tyrant. This is our fear and insecurity at its worst. Playing this character was so intriguing. Acting as a villain was fun! Being a villain. . . not so much.

The voice of VenMar, is Dreck’s counterpoint and as such gives us a better reality check and acts as the voice of enlightening inspiration. While we all have access to the Dreck that is inside us, we also have access to that energy that gives us inspiration (VenMar). The challenge is that we sometimes have to ask for direction, shut up for two minutes, listen, for the guidance and then take action, even when fear tries to stand in our way.

Having Dreck as the antagonist, allows my main characters Puss and Dick, in their various characterizations and situations, to make mistakes when they are influenced by Dreck, but it’s Dreck who we love to hate. It was a good device, definitely an inspiration. I was smart enough to ask for guidance and wise enough to listen and take action when it came.

ATM: Because you are a certain gender you do not have to move through society with what is told to you about this gender. The social norms for genders are created at birth. You do not have to live by them.

MM: We all have male and female aspects. I have a marriage counselor on board. I want to make sure our storyline includes transgender and same sex couples, and that our stories are well informed about various types of relationships. Because the relationships will be inclusive to any and all types, the story lines are endless. We were talking about the project with two of our friends who are lesbians, gal pals, but not a couple. and they came up with a good story line. Two women living together having their period at the same time; the perfect setting for hilarious havoc. 

One of these women had read something in a magazine about a male who had breast cancer. After they had been treating him with estrogen, he found himself becoming more sensitive. His body awareness and reactions were suddenly much more dominated by his female aspect than his male. Before his treatments it was “Eh, I gained a few pounds.” After his treatment, he gets paranoid about weight gain and is hyper-aware of his body.

Because there are all kinds of interesting stories out there, expanding the scope of the project was a good idea. There are so many possibilities and more people can relate. This expansion came partly from a conversation I had with someone who is transgender. Looking at all kinds of relationships and how they impact all of us open our minds and hearts.  The time is right.

ATM: It is time to see projects like this in our society. They are a mirror of how society is and give a new kind of way of thinking.

MM: Exactly. It is time we start being inclusive, instead of exclusive. What is normal? Normal is whatever you are.

ATM: It is subjective.

MM: Absolutely. The more society can understand this the more harmony we will have. There is no normal. Hopefully there is acceptance and love.  That requires better communication, which is also the goal of my project.  The more we can understand each other, the better we all can live together.

ATM: We live in a society where you can always tell someone something, but until you experience it or see the reversal of it, this is when you get it or understand it. We get this new frame way of thinking.

MM. The conversation I had with the person who is transgender really made a difference in how I think. I’m grateful I was open-minded enough to listen (Dreck and VenMar-VenMar won and so did I) I had sent this person an audition for the voice of VenMar. After reading the audition lines, they basically said that they hoped I would not take this the wrong way, that some of the dialogue was insulting.  They were referring two one of VenMar’s lines where he is talking about the differences and inherent conflicts between men and women: “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Women have a vagina and men have a penis.” They said, “I am transgender, and this is offensive to me.” At first, I thought, “What?” This is actually from a song I wrote. At first, I felt defensive and then I thought If I add the word “Most” – “Most women have a vagina and most men have a penis”. This one little word opens a whole world of possibilities. I thanked them their input and hope to use them as a consultant once the show is on the air.

ATM: What are some traits that can be perceived or stereotyped as masculine tendencies?

MM: The qualities of aggression and competition seem to be more male. Women tend to be kinder and gentler. That doesn’t mean woman can be strong and men cannot be kind.  But women tend to nurture more; we have the bodies that produce babies within them.  Doesn’t mean men cannot bond with and be loving to their children.  If you want to get ahead in this world, then you also need to have that kind of strength that men seen to have naturally. My husband is a great example of having both strength and tenderness. He is definitely a guy, a straight guy. He also has a gentleness about him that is seen as a female aspect. He genuinely likes women. I do not mean just because he finds them physically attractive. He likes and respects them. He likes that women are not afraid to talk about things. I fell in love with him because partly because he was still friends with the two women he was in relationships with before me. There is a difference between liking women in a sexual way and liking them because you respect them and what they have to say. He doesn’t objectify them. This was one of the things I found attractive about him. A lot of men do not allow themselves to entertain that feminine aspect because to them it does not feel masculine enough, or they’re just afraid if it.

I think this is why a lot of straight guys get homophobic. Just because a guy is gay does not mean you have to fear him vice versa with women. Women are a little bit more open. We can display affection much more readily to other women than a guy can to a guy. This is not to say guys need to become more feminine.  Allowing that gentle side to come out means your confident enough to be comfortable with all of yourself.

ATM: What if we mixed the two? The softer and the aggressive side.

MM: It’s all about balance. Knowing when to be strong and when to be gentle; life-long lessons in living. Part of it is not fearing and acknowledging both aspects. From the time I was a little girl, I hated dresses. I like wearing pants because they are more comfortable for me. There are a lot of guys out there that find much more freedom walking around in a robe. I mean look at men from the middle east. Does this make them any less manly? No, this is what makes them more comfortable. I think each of us needs to spend more time finding balance within ourselves rather than trying to dictate what others should or should not do. I was and still am a bit of a tomboy.  As a kid my favorite toy was a dump truck.  I loved filling it up with dirt and dumping it out like I was building something.

ATM: Were you?

MM: Yes, a career creating little boy voices, like Izzy on Digimon.  Seriously, I just remembered being fascinated by making the truck move.  It held my attention much more than playing with dolls.  As an artist, I find the form of women beautiful.  Men, too. But there’s something about the earthiness of women that is intriguing. Most of my erotic drawings are about this balance of male and female and take the form of women within the penis. This concept of male and female enriching one another is the seed of creation that became the idea of Adventures Of Puss ‘N Dick-A Survivor’s Guide To Relationships.

I do narrations for ABC Mouse. There was a book we read a couple of sessions ago called Bear Bunny. It is a book about being okay with whoever you are on the inside even if you look different on the outside. It sounds a lot like being okay with being transgender, gay or just like doing things that people don’t expect, just because you look a certain way. It is so delightfully written. I bought the book. I read to kids at Descanso Gardens and this wonderful dinette called Base Camp every month. This has now become one of the books I read.

ATM: What is the artistic nature that flows through your erotic art?

MM: Something happened to me in 1991. I went to Cabo San Lucas and saw the solar eclipse. This was quite moving, but a couple of days afterward we went out on the rocks where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. I had a moment. It is hard to explain. It was a though I could feel the struggles of humanity. It was an epiphany, truly awesome and it left me inspired.  We human beings are struggling, trying to live a spiritual or meaningful life in a world that is very material. All people, throughout history have had to struggle to survive and it is that determination to be and become that makes the human experience so beautifully joyful and tragic. It is a celebration of the spirit. 

When I got home, I started doing a series of drawings called Women Emerging. I have them riding on dragons, in dragons and coming out of flowers, and rocks. This led me to drawing the erotica I mentioned.  It embodied the idea of yin yang was based also on my relationship with my husband.  A relationship based in love, friendship, mutual respect and sexual attraction. Once again, there’s this idea of balance and acceptance in relationships and how struggle can lead to resolution.

Most of my erotic art is of this nature. I will send you some photos of it. Shortly after this, I began drawing these wire dancers with a drafting pen called a rapidograph. The drawings started as squiggles and then became people and then became wire dancers. I was inspired while listening to some Latin music at a concert. Then I got hold of some actual wire and started rendering the dancers as wire sculptures. The essence of their movement represents the celebration of life. They can be either female or male and they are meant to be moved, by both artist and patron. If you go to my website into my store, then you can see I have done them as earrings and pendants.

I have also made them larger and as fairies, angels and as all kinds of animals and sold them.  Some people have bought them to put in their gardens.  I love thinking about the progression from the initial inspiring event to how they grew from drawings to sculptures and the essences of them being a celebration of life.  This is also the feeling I have about the relationship my husband and I have, where you work through the struggles and you each grow, both as individuals and as a couple. The original title for The Adventures of Puss and Dick-Survivor’s Guide to Relationship was Sal-Mo.

ATM: Sex is like a work of art. Your emotions are like a splash of paint that goes on a canvas. The two contenders are immersed in their art and if deep enough gets in the formation of origami. The deeper the splash the higher your chances are of making collages, portraits, and murals. Their expression is what makes them make different pieces of origami. So, everyone takes the form of Picasso, Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Frida Kahlo, and others. But the art does not have to always make it to the canvas, not everyone wants to be a painter. Sometimes people want to draw stick figures and not portraits or collages.

MM: Both sex and art have room for all. They both have universal appeal. That’s so important. I was going to name my characters Sal and Mona. But those names did not have a universal meaning. Then, once again, the light of inspiration clicked on and I realized the name Dick is both a nickname for Richard and a can be a nickname for a penis. Puss can be a term of endearment for a female and is also the nickname for a vagina.  So, Puss and Dick became the names of my leading characters; they represent, in a playful way, every male and female.  With slight changes they can represent all ages, ethnicities and even time frames. I based her on Betty Boop. You know the cartoon character from the 30s. They had to be attractive, appealing to everyone.  Everyone had either a penis or a vagina, whether you’re gay, straight, or transgender. If you have both . . . well, that would make a very interesting episode.  

Genderqueer Knowledge in Television

Stacey Raymond of NBC’s New Amsterdam continues to push the boundaries for genderqueer by setting the tone with people understanding their identity is not male or female. Raymond discusses her ideas around the character she plays for one to understand what it is like living as an entertainment actor on an episodic medical drama.

ATM: What does it mean to be nonbinary with and without Webster dictionary’s definition? How do you feel it influences your work as an actor?

SR: Webster’s dictionary defines nonbinary as “relating to or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that is neither entirely male or female” Another term for this is genderqueer, which I personally like better. It sounds more fluid and less scientific to me than nonbinary. For me, being genderqueer feels like I’m a little bit of everything. My identity doesn’t feel like I’m only one gender but a combination of all energies. Being nonbinary or genderqueer means different things to different people. For example, some people who are nonbinary only use “they/them” pronouns. As for myself, I like to say that all pronouns apply. I feel flexible about it. Nothing is wrong and all pronouns roll up into my experience and identity. This sometimes means people default to “she/her” and I am okay with that because it is part of my experience, though “they/them” is appreciated. Some nonbinary people do not feel flexible about this, so it’s good to respectfully ask what someone’s preferred pronouns are if you’re not sure.

As an actor, I feel being genderqueer is an advantage. I believe it further helps me relate to many different characters throughout the spectrum of humanity in a unique way. I’m often cast in queer roles, sometimes nonbinary but most often female-identified and I’m thrilled to give voice to any of these characters. Representation matters. I am open to and excited about playing characters of any and all genders, sexualities, etc. Humanity across the board is so interesting to me and it’s such a gift as an actor to be able to share stories and reflect humanity back to itself. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do with my life ever since I was a small child and I’m very excited to see what the future will bring.

ATM: What are your thoughts on the progression of gender in society, media, film and TV?

SR: It’s exciting because the industry is evolving. Writers are now writing about ethnically diverse characters as well as queer, non-binary and trans characters. People are finally realizing these stories are incredibly important and needed in the collective narrative shared with the world. Audiences want to see themselves reflected back to themselves onscreen and onstage and sometimes on a stage or a screen is the first place a person is introduced to someone unlike themselves. This is incredibly important and powerful.

A great example is the NBC show New Amsterdam which I am fortunate be cast in the role of EMT Whitaker on. Caparelliotis Casting is doing a fantastic job of assembling actors for New Amsterdam that reflect the diversity of our world. They are reflecting New York truthfully through casting actors of a variety of ethnicities, gender expressions, etc. The writers and producers of New Amsterdam are seeking out and writing for this diversity, which is fantastic. It’s exciting and I see the industry expanding more and more in that direction. Audiences want it. And what’s great with New Amsterdam is that this diversity is not made into “a thing.” It just so happens that the EMT is queer, for example. And this is how it is in the real world. All different types of people are everywhere and why wouldn’t we want that reflected to us?

ATM: What were your thoughts on the reflection and term “gender” growing up?

SR: As a kid, I didn’t have the understanding or the terminology for how I was feeling. I remember in elementary school when things were “boys against girls” for example, I didn’t feel I quite fit on either side. I also had crushes on girls and tried to push the feelings away because I thought it was weird. I didn’t have an example of someone to look up to as a person I might grow up to be like. I didn’t know anyone who was gay or gender nonconforming on any level and there was no one on television even that I could identify with. It was in college that I was able to accept being queer and to start celebrating it.

My family was fully accepting and understanding, which I’m so grateful for. It wasn’t easy at first, but as the years go by, I get more and more comfortable in my skin. The idea that there might be a young kid out there who feels similarly to the ways I did, that can look to me and feel a little less weird or alone in the world and think, “Okay, this is someone who seems like me. I can grow up and live a normal life and be accepted” is humbling beyond words.

ATM: Take me to the pivotal moment in your life when you had a feeling expressing the phrase “I can be any gender” I am not a female or male. My gender preference is free, the sky’s the limit.” 

SR: I am saying I identify with ALL genders. It’s not about being void of gender for me. It’s about encompassing all of the energies on the gender spectrum. And as an actor, I am excited to take on a wide variety of roles and all different types of characters across the spectrum without limitations – whether they be female-identified characters, nonbinary characters, etc.

There were moments here and there as I was growing up…for example, the “boys vs. girls” dynamic in elementary school…that never felt right for me. It was a culmination of moments and feelings.

ATM: What was the emotional feeling of claiming your genderqueer identity?

SR: I’ve just lived my life as truthfully and organically as possible on a day to day, moment to moment basis. And once I became aware of such words as “nonbinary” and “genderqueer,” I connected to it and was happy to have some terminology to describe how I’ve always felt since I was a child.

ATM: How does love influence the mind of a nonbinary person? Love is subjective depending on gender. Males should love as this and females should love as that. When you do not classify as a gender what is love?

SR: In my opinion, love influences everyone in the same ways, regardless of how you identify. If someone thinks they need to love in a certain way because of an expectation they have placed on themselves or society has placed on them, or because of some idea they think they need to live up to base on how they were born and/or how they identify, I’d challenge them to recognize that love is an energy that doesn’t need to be controlled by outside labels. I think Lin-Manuel Miranda summed this up best when he said, “Love is Love is Love!”

Chas Bronxson on Entrepreneurship, White Washing and New Projects

ATM: When did you first want to start a record company? What changes have you noticed in the music industry seen making this choice?

CB: When I did not get the opportunity to fulfill a publishing contract that was offered to me. It looked like the only type of deal I would get was a deal structured to the best interest of the people offering the contact. The only ways my music would get put out in the way I wanted to see it was to have a vehicle in place to do this myself. Instead of relying on someone else’s label. Also, I saw most people who get signed with another label at some part they value of their music decreased. I felt like if I had my outlet that the amount of material that I put out would not be determined by someone. This seemed more advertising for my career and what I was trying to do.

The importance of knowing who to sign and who not to sign and why. Put it like this, why is it not necessarily best to sign a particular person.

ATM: What were the beginning stages as an entrepreneur in the music business?

CB: You realize that you are responsible for everything that happens for the label in the beginning. The responsibilities only increase as time goes on as you start doing work and putting music out. At some part, you have to hire people to do certain tasks. I was used to doing everything on my own up to this point. It was not that much, but as you go, you start to get involved in things that require that you bring people abroad. You cannot do all of the stuff. At some point, you want to delegate and put it in the hands of people. This will save time. You will try to do everything and will not have time for yourself. You want to establish a relationship with your lady or guy. You want to be able to nourish and feed this.

If you are always in the office, then there is no way to do this. Some people will try not to delegate and do it all on their own. It ends up costing them. I remember seeing this guy who worked in a bakery. I would see him in early morning while going to work at like 5:30 am. I saw him faithfully opening up his shop every morning. One day I asked him on my way into work, I asked him what it is like being your own man and the business owner of your shop. His response was, “It sucks.” This has to suck getting up every day and this is your business. He had been doing this for 25 or 30 years, and you do not see anything from it. His thinking was that people are not buying pastries anymore like they used to do. It was not increasing him, but it was costing him. Let’s say he was making money in his business. Imagine him trying to deal with all those customers by himself. This is not good. You must have the idea to anticipate on people to assist in accomplishing your goal.

ATM: Why are you relaunching your label?

CB: Everything that I was doing and the volume that was coming I wanted to put under the umbrella of M.O.U.N Records. I wanted to tie everything together because it was all relative. There is a video album that I am going to put out for the songs that are on Group H.U.G.S and some that did not make the cut. Rather than to move on to some of the other projects that are coming, I figured I put everything back under the M.O.U.N label and do it this way.

ATM: What talents or skills does a person need to have to be considered for your label?

CB: If I did sign someone else and they were interested in working on my label, then I would like to see a passion for their craft. I would have to see something I want to work with. The talent must have the desire to work for me. Not everybody is prepared to do this. There is a lot of work involved. Just because of the talent it does not mean you do not have to develop it. You have to want to develop it. It is for this reason that I do not look to sign anyone. If someone expresses interest in signing with my outfit and my input, then these are some of the things I look for.

I look for the passion and drive to do it. I always say you can have the passion for doing something, but if you do not have the talent, then your passion means nothing. You can have all the talents, but if you do not have the drive to do it, then what is the point. You ever see someone who had a gift to do something? They might be tall and shoot a real good basket, but they do not want to play basketball. They do not understand it is not their calling. You got to have a love for something. I always say the thing that you will get wealthy at; it is the thing you are willing to do for free. The thing you do for free is the thing you have a passion for. It is something you will do all day and all night. Even when you are not associated with or tied to it. When you do it every day and all day you become excellent at it. When you become excellent at it, you can draw a demand. People will want to have your services. They will hire you for your services because you are that good. They will pay you for it.

ATM: It does come down to what would you do nonstop without getting paid. Some people do not know what they want to do. This is fine. Whether it is music or acting, people need to find their passion. The quicker you do, the quicker you can put it to work. Everyone has a passion. It is the thing you do without getting paid. It is the thing that is an addiction. You cannot help it. It is the thing that wakes you up and the thing that puts you to bed.

CB: Right. That’s how you can tell it something you like doing. You go to bed doing something. You then fall asleep doing it. This just with you loves doing. Do you have a personal day job?

ATM: Is this a personal question?

CB: Yes, I am asking you.

ATM: This is what I do all day.

CB: Hopefully this is your passion. Some people go to work because it is a need to pay their bills. Those people if they did not get a check, then they would not go to work. When it is your passion, you continue doing it because you like to. Is writing your passion?

ATM: Yes, and asking a lot of questions more than the average person. Unique questions just always come to me.

CB: Oh, asking questions. (Laughs). So, you love being a journalist.

ATM: I love asking questions and different questions. I am always curious and inquisitive. What age were you when discovering your passion?

CB: I was two according to my mother. They used to have records made of wax. It was pressed from wax. They called them 45s. It had labels on them — the label from the record company. It was their sticker. The label was made for every record company. Motown had theirs. The list goes on. As a kid, my mother said she would have company over her house, and I was disc jockeying at two. I was standing at the record set. I would get another one when one song went off. I could not read. I was identifying the song by the color labels on the record. This is how I knew what was. It has always been in my blood. I would always be over near the disc jockeying looking what he was doing while going to parties. This was more intriguing to me. I was always trying to get phone number and talk to the cute girls. I would always gravitate over near the DJ. The music was always what to drew me in. I wanted to create it myself and not just listen to it. I never thought about how I was going to do it.

I was mesmerized by Stevie Wonder and how he did the runs with his voice. It was not like anything I had ever heard. When hip-hop came out, I was like any other kid trying to rap. Back during the 50s and 60s, guys used to sing doo-wop on the corner. Everyone would be on the corner trying to harmonize. I would not be older enough to go to the jams when Hip Hop broke out. I was out there with every other kid before my curfew. This took my passion for music to another level. Everyone wrote their little rhymes. This got me into writing. I had no passion for writing until Hip Hop came out. It was for my little group. It just grew from here. You had to write back then If you did not write your stuff, then you were nailed. You were nailed to the wall. You would be knocked out of the neighborhood for reciting someone else’s words. They would call you a Biter.

ATM: Why is there anger around the unrepresented Black artists?

CB: I was angry and irritated about the lack of attention for the many R&B groups. These groups were not getting the attention. These groups came before us. This causes their careers never to get highlighted. I realized this throughout the bulk of my research. I pay respect to these groups in my song Group H.U.G.S. (Honoring Unforgettable Groups of Soul). I decided to do my tribute and generate funds to be donated to the Living Legend Foundation.

ATM: How did you discover the Living Legend Foundation?

CB: I discovered them by accident. I scrolled through someone’s link and saw their advertisements. I have always been searching for an organization to donate funds about music.

ATM: Explain how all the group’s stories surprised you.

CB: The world had no idea about them. The mainstream radio did not play their songs. My video is over eight minutes. I wanted to get as much of the great acts as possible. Did you recognize any of the groups?

ATM: Yes, a little. A lot my family listens to old R&B. I was aware of about 40% of the music in your video. I other half has been sampled in various art forms of music.

CB: This is good. Most people could not say a percentage.

ATM: You have to keep in mind some of the music was from their generation. They have not adapted to our generation. It will be the same for when I play music for kids in the future. I would play Drake, Future, and others. The next generation will have their selection of music artists. It is a continuing cycle.

CB: There is the continuity. There is a radio station in New York that plays hits from that era. The Beatles have a song called Shout. However, the Isley Brothers came out with it first. They did not put out their version. This happened with the Bob Marley’s I Shot the Sheriff. They will not play his version. This has made me angry. We do not get the chance to get originated. There is more attention when a white artist performs the song. I have always wondered why. You have Usher and Chris Brown. Why when a white person does it there is more hype? People do backflips and express the greatness of the song. It is overshadowed when a black person puts out a song. It comes out as basic when they put it out despite their hard work.

ATM: I liked how your video exposed a lot of knowledge about black music. Through each of the clips, you can see the dramatic changes of the period. You see changes in the way people dressed, wore their hair, and dance moves. The disposition was different from how the mic was held. The lyrics became more commercialized and just different. Their hard work with this video exposes this very much. People get to see black culture right in front of them. The younger generation has no idea about these groups. They are not being taught them in school. Thank you for this inspiring video about black music. Now kids can have a video to share or put in their project about black music or the history of black music.

CB: Thanks for acknowledging this because it was my goal from the beginning. I wanted to educate and help people. A lot of these artists became so discouraged with the music industry. They stopped recording or just did not have talent. Their lyrics ended in the hands of white recording labels and was given to a white artist. People never knew what they created. They were not business savvy.

ATM: It makes you think about where these groups would be today in the lineup of black R&B today. Would the groups that came after they be as big? How different would music have been? Did they hurt the legacy for black music? Did they help pave the way for future music?

CB: I did not want to complain and talk about what others were not doing. I decided to do it. This can be the template for studying our culture. I did not want to wait around for someone to do it.

ATM: You did not make an excuse. I am okay with someone sitting around talking about their issues with something and making a change. If someone is talking but not making a change, then this is not fine. They should get up and make a change. A lot of people probably thought of this idea but did not take the time to do it.

CB: I am glad you said this. Did you get a chance to see P.R.E.T.E.X.T video?

ATM: Yes.

CB: That song goes into the white appropriation of our artists. Group H.U.G.S. goes into the groups. I am coming out with a new song every week. There is a song on the album called When They are Gone. I put this together for Michael Jackson’s birthday. I just finished editing it.

ATM: The best thing about music is that when the artist dies their music still lives on.

CB: Yes.

ATM: This makes music powerful. It becomes history as soon as you click on the record button. This is whether it gets publicized or not. You can replay it a million times. This is even better when you can play the music a hundred times and still get the same feeling. This happens with music by Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Luther Vandross. The essence of music is immortal.

CB: You are right. This is why people should put their best music out. You never know how you will touch people. You should always come from the heart. If you perform the song well, then a new generation will take to it.  You remember the movie called The Bodyguard?

ATM: Yes.

CB: You know the story about the song I Will Always Love You?

ATM: Yes, it was originally a song by Dolly Parton.

CB: Dolly Parton could have been homeless with no money in Time Square. Once Whitney sang the song, she would be rich.  She owns the song. It is always a good thing for an artist to try their best as a songwriter. You will reap the benefits. We never got the chance to do this because we were not savvy with the contracts. Yes, the music lives on.

ATM: There is no one still to this day that can hit her high note. You must perfect your craft in a way that no one can touch or remake it.

CB: Like no one can touch it. Do not even try to touch it.

ATM: Right. This was the same for Maxwell’s song This Woman’s Work.

CB: Oh yes!

ATM: A British singer named Kate Bush originally sang this.

CB: This was considered the abortion song to the guys. We thought the lyrics were saying to get an abortion. You never think of the person who does it originally. Are you familiar with Aretha’s music?

ATM: Otis Redding on Respect.

CB: Yes. Carole King wrote a song called You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman. Aretha did such a great job that King said you own the song now. No one can outdo Aretha. She also has a song called Dr. Feel Good. Listen to the live version. She was so talented. The sexual undertones were powerful. Also, listen to Michael Jackson’s Down with the Boogie.

‘Kool and the Gang’ Celebrates 50 Years

Robert Bell, one of the founding members of the band Kool and the Gang talks about the origins of his group, its members and how the group kept up with the changes of Jazz music through the years.

ATM: How did the band form?

RB: Let me take you back a minute. We started in 1964 as the Jazziacs. We then changed the name to the Soul Time Band, then Kool and the Flame, then Kool and the Gang. I got the idea from James Brown and The Famous Flames. We did not want to have any problems. So, we said, “Why don’t we change the name to Gang?” The music that we were recording had a Jazz-Funk feel to it. As the Jazziacs, we played Jazz. As the Soul Time Band, we played Jazz funk. This is what our sound is about, and this is how we came up with Kool and the Gang. Our very first album and single were called Kool and the Gang.

ATM: Why the various changes with the name?

RB: We changed from the Jazziacs to the Soul Time Band because there was an organization that was trying to be like Motown who called themselves Soul Time. We were a band. We had a backup of about 20 singers. This was when the music started to change and the influence of Jazz. It started to mix in with R&B. So, we had to learn the lyrics to the songs of the 60s: Motown songs and James Brown songs. The music started to change for the Jazz into R&B Funk.

ATM: Explain what music became more prevalent in the music industry during this time.

RB: With Jazz, you listen to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, etc. When we got into Motown, you are talking about The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Billy Walker, etc. Playing this music for the Soul Town organization who played “Since I Lost My Baby” or “Cold Sweat” by James Brown. Now you have a sound that has crawled from Jazz to Funk R&B. Then, up to our very first record, which was Kool and the Gang, 1969.

This was our music, and this was the evolution of the music. Now, the last change was when James “J.T” Taylor joined the band, and we got a lead singer. We did not have a lead singer before. We decided in 1978 to get a lead singer. At the time, Earth, Wind, and Fire had Maurice White. The Commodores had Lionel Richie. The Jacksons had Michael Jackson. So, we decided to get a lead singer who became James “J.T” Taylor. Then we went on to do songs such as “Lady’s Night,” “Get Down on it,” and “Fresh,” “Cherish,” and “Celebration.” Those were the changes.

ATM: Did you ever think about the future success of the group as the founder?

RB: Yes, it was four founders. We started with seven back in the day. The four original guys who are still with me now are George Brown, Ronald Bell, D.T Thomas, and myself. It was also Ricky West, Spike Mickens, and Charles Smith. To answer your question, we did not know exactly how things would go. It was for the love of music. It was for the love of playing Jazz — the love of playing Funk and playing locally around Jersey City and Newark City.

We started this and finally got a record deal with a small company called Elite Records. Right out of high school hearing your record on the radio. People who did not notice you before started to notice you. Our parents always told us to stick together. They supported us and were behind us. Our very first record was a Top 40 record called Kool and the Gang.  They started to evolve to even until today, which is over 50 years. It will be 50 years because our first record came out in 1969. In 2019, it will be 50 years of Kool and the Gang.

Steve Burrows & Ilan Arboleda of HBO’s ‘Bleed Out’

The American Healthcare System has been making errors for a very long time. First-time documentary director Steve Burrows accidentally makes a documentary about his mother’s traumatic health error. Producer llan Arboleda helps bring Burrows’ idea and vision to life with a show titled Bleed Out on HBO. HBO’s Bleed Out is about the scary healthcare journey that is still going on with Burrows and his mother who is in a coma.

ATM: How did having a loved one as a victim to an American healthcare error open your eyes?

SB: I knew nothing when this happened to my mother. I started to ask a lot of questions and started to get a lot of different answers. Some seemed okay, and some did not seem okay. I started to hear from other people that they had problems in their families. Suddenly, it seemed like this was not going to be a one on one thing. Once I started to discover the universality of this problem, I did not want to make this movie a movement.

ATM: Do you think some of the health care reps were giving you the run around instead of saying they did not know?

SB: One of the main problems was that there was a continuation of care with no one in charge. When I look at the whole thing now that it is settled, I see what the problem was in my mom’s case and a lot of others. Who oversees the patients’ care? I still do not know who is in charge after ten years later going through my mom’s care. We have asked. Who is in charge of the healthcare?

ATM: How did you go about picking the right scenes for your mother’s film?

SB: Great question. I have never done a documentary, so I was not sure how to approach it. The first thing I did was writes an outline. It started with my mother, her life, then the coma. It started on a piece of paper the main story points. I went through all the footage. I had several editors that I worked with that helped me go through all the footage and ground things that helped me tell the story. We had over 300 hours of footage. We had to get the film down to 90 minutes. This was rough. When looking at a scene: Does this further the story? Does this help the story? Does this help my mother’s story? We took it in steps. It took a long time. We edited for almost three years. We were changing things up into a week ago. We just finished this.

ATM: As her son, how would you best describe your mother?

SB: My mother was a whirlwind of energy, free spirit, she chose to be a special ed teacher, she was so empathetic to helping others, world traveler, had a great sense of humor, she was full of life. Then she got stuck with this, and it all stopped. I say “was” because she is still inside of all these things, but she cannot articulate it. She cannot outwardly do any of this stuff anymore. She was a beautiful person.

ATM: What tools have you taken from her? What values or teachings has she taught you that you still use today?

SB: Wow, this is a great question. Thank you so much for asking this question. I would say she thought me to be honest. She taught me to be the golden rule, which is to treat others how you want to be treated. She taught me that the truth is always the best way. She taught that when you screw up, own up, take responsibility for it, apologizes, and make it right. She taught me to look outward. She taught me how to be brave and that there is a world out here. You need to see it and appreciate the big picture of everything. She taught me how to love and unconditional love. I tried to use all of these things every single day. Hopefully, it is in the movie. So much of her is in me.

ATM: Emotionally describe this situation with your mother.

SB: Emotionally at times it is hard. You want to keep your friends and family very close because you are going to need them. They are going to need you someday too. When I started doing this, I hope people who never been through this never have to go through what my friends and family did. Some will. When you go into a hospital, all the doctors are heroes, but they are human. You want to go in as an advocate asking questions. Everyone needs an advocate to help them navigate through the hospital. Also, write down your questions on a piece of paper. You are going to forget to live while in the emergency room. When something happens right now basic questions, go with an advocate, and ask the questions. Shop around for hospitals and doctors like your life depends on it because it does.

ATM: A lot of people hold on to materialistic things, but in times like this that become not important. What was the one thing you took with you to remind you of your mother when this event happened?

SB: When something goes wrong as it did with us all the materialistic stuff goes out of the window. None of these things matters. I do not know about the afterlife. All I know is that we have one shot at it here. All that matters are relationships with your friends and your family: parents, brothers, and sisters. You learn very quickly when going through something like this who is going to be with you and who is not. The people that I thought I could trust before this happen were the exact people I could trust. I hope no one has to go through this.

ATM: How does this event with your mother help you get a better sense of life and your health?

SB: This is another good question. Life can be very short. I know it sounds cliché, but we are here for a blank. I learn through my experience with my mother is to not take anything for granted. Do not worry about small things. All these things are going to get worked out. Concentrate on the big stuff and the priorities financially, ethically, morally. What is important? Your health is everything. You must treat your body well. Things are to fail as your body get older in general. I do not have to watch my mother suffer in the hospital. It does not have to be this way. Embrace the moments. There are so many things I used to worry about that I do not anymore. They are not important.

ATM: As the producer on the film, what did you observe about the errors that can occur with the American health care system?

IA: For me, hearing these stories make me think there was a universal issue here. The reason I wanted to get involved with the film was to take these very personal stories to make it a microcosm for a greater healthcare issue in general. We encapsulated and highlighted well how her story was a national problem. While telling her story, we are telling others.

ATM: How did you plan to work with Steve as a first-time director to get his story across?

IA: My company is called Creative Chaos. We are a company that makes documentary features. When he came to us, we knew how to make this a bigger film that is a small personal story. We put a sizzle together of the more important parts of the film. We took it to HBO. Impact Partners and HBO ended up coming on board. We worked with Steve from some ways of managing ten years of footage. It was his personal story, his journey; we thought this was important. We worked with him on a creative and physical process to deliver the film.

ATM: What conversation continues about the errors of the American healthcare system after the film?

IA: It is a cautionary tale. Ultimately the film highlights that you have to be an advocate and have second opinions. You have to continue to be vigilant through the healthcare process. It is never-ending days of going down the rabbit hole and trying to get out — someone who does not have half of his persistence or ability to live in this precarious position.

Review: ‘The House that Jack Built’

Director Lars Von Trier’s latest film, The House that Jack Built, is a series of flashbacks of an accomplished architect and psychotic murderer.

It opens with a monologue about the nature of art by Jack (Matt Dillion). He proceeds to recount in detail how he conducted five previous murders. Each one to him is a work of art, and each one helped him develop as an “artist.” Perhaps in an effort to accentuate his genius, the victims and law enforcement in the film are almost offensively foolish and inept. This causes Jack to become more and more reckless with his crimes, as he apparently wants his art to be noticed.

There are multiple allusions to poetry in the film. The very title is derived from the nursery rhyme “This is the House that Jack Built.” Throughout the film, Jack’s deranged narration is interrupted by an unseen character called “The Verge,” which is meant to represent Virgil leading Dante Alighieri to the bottom of hell in The Divine Comedy.  

There is certainly some provocation to be seen in the movie. The way Jack’s female victims are portrayed as careless and provocative is bound to ruffle some feathers. His first victim, played by Uma Thurma, is a hitchhiker which is blatantly obnoxious. His second victim, played by Siobhan Hogan, carelessly allows him into her house because he claims he can help her get money from her deceased husband’s pension. All of this suggests von Trier is thumbing his nose at critics.

At the end of the day, it’s difficult to decide if The House that Jack Built is von Trier’s way of justifying or drawing attention away from his controversial “joke” about Hitler that he told at his last Cannes appearance in 2011.

By the same token, it’s also hard to decide if the movie is too tedious or too sadistic. While the analytical viewer might appreciate the sophisticated references to both classic and popular art, the film is layered so heavily with metaphor and allusions to everything from poetry to modern politics that it becomes tiring. The dialogue also becomes a bit tedious after a while. The gory scenes honestly begin to feel rather drawn out.

What tends to make serial murderers so intriguing to people is not their psychopathy in of itself but the fact that it tends to coexist alongside recognizable humanity. Ted Bundy captured the imagination of the public because he was found guilty of the most grotesque crimes imaginable and was undeniably intelligent, charming and personable. This is an aspect that is missing from The House that Jack Built. It is violent, gory and disturbing without spending much time reminding us that Jack is still a human being. There is so much time spent on grotesque murder scenes and so little on any sort of a story line or character exploration it becomes dull. As a result, The House that Jack Built is one film you’d just as soon forget.

James Chen Talks AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ and More

Photo Credit: Ryan West

ATM: How would you envision your Iron Fist character to be the vigilante superhero ‘Blindspot’ if picked up on Disney’s new app?

JC: Absolutely, we hope the show —these characters and their stories — can continue on in another sphere. Blindspot is not only one of the few but also one of the most compelling, relatable and exciting Asian-American superheroes we have now. An illegal immigrant who uses his resourcefulness and ingenuity and hard work to focus his natural abilities towards doing good. An awesome combination of brain and fighting prowess. I admire many things about him, including his overcoming of adversity as an immigrant but (at least as the comics go) when misfortune befalls him via The Hand, how he rises from the ashes so to speak. And he also just looks bad ass.  So yes,in a nutshell I, and I know a score of excited fans across the internet, would be thrilled to have the Blindspot vigilante more fully fleshed out. I’d love to build upon what we started at Netflix. The time is SO right for this and I’ve been keeping ready with my training! 

ATM:What moments in CBS’s FBI are a part of your progression and journey in this series?

JC: I play Ian Lim, who works in tandem with the many departments at The Bureau including their field agents andother special agents in charge. Ian works with CART (the Computer Analysis and Response Team) which specializes in the use of computer and electronics for evidence analysis, or as we saw earlier this season in episode 106 “Family Man”for surveillance and diagnostics of a crime scene. Ian is a genius, completely confident in himself and his ability, and oh so deliciously dry. The most fun part about being on the show is the #FBIFam.  All the cast and crew who work on the show are just wonderful human beings, excellent at what they do,and we really enjoy being around each other. Growing up with L&O: SVU being one of my favorite shows growing up, it’s also just incredibly exciting to be part of another Dick Wolf franchise.  

ATM: What is the true experience to work on The Walking Dead set with characters who are embodying what life and death looks likes?

JC: Pretty surreal.  You know when the cameras aren’t rolling, they’re just like you or me, hanging out,talking… except they have full on zombie attire and prosthetics all over their bodies and face.  So, it feels like some strange Geico commercial where two zombies are just casually strolling along and chatting with each other about what’s for lunch… as in tacos or fish or what not… not people. Once a friend who was in full zombie makeup came up to me super friendly with a hug and said hi, and it was terrifying because it’s simply impossible to know who they are plus that disconnect between what they look like on the outside and the very human actors underneath.  

ATM: What does The Walking Dead symbolize about humanity and what life could mean?

JC: Great question!  Well, a lot. During the first season or so I was struck by how the absence of technology and the shutting down of the world, being left with these zombie walkers… was a statement on what technology was doing to us… turning us into inhuman creatures who merely walked the Earth, with only one purpose – to consume.  And that we have to fight against being infected by that and reconnect with each other, trusting and helping one another, in order to find our own humanity again. 

There have been so many powerful moments and journeys over the past 9 years, but another theme I feel strongly is that even in the absolute worst of situations imaginable, there’s always hope.  

ATM: How does the Hilltop clan bring in creativity, loyalty, and cleverness?

JC: The Hilltop is quite self-sufficient… by design I suppose as it was formerly a functional historical re-enactment living museum.  It was a natural home base for when the Apocalypse hit.  We grow our own food, mill our own wood, have our own livestock, shoe our own horses and blacksmith our own weapons.  It’s a very busy village, with the steadfastness of a diligent farm community. It was that ingenuity that led the Hilltop to fortify with telephone poles from a nearby utility company back in the early days of the Apocalypse, which gives it it’s distinct look and strategic value. Everyone at Hilltop works day in and day out, it creates that much more of a tight-knit community and loyalty comes from that shared work ethic identity

ATM: How do you approach auditions? Do you have a certain process or method?

JC: Every audition is different, and even though you may approach each one differently, there are still certain things that you want to go over. I try to find the basic fundamentals of what the story of the scene is and the relationship between the people in the scene. Usually running lines with a friend is invaluable as you learn so much about what’s really going on in a scene. I spend a good amount of time just trying to nail down the lines, because until I do that, I really don’t feel free to explore the material in more interesting creative ways.

Parker Wierling Talks ‘Greyhound’

Photo Credit: Valheria Rocha

ATM: What research did you do for the role in Greyhound since the film takes place during WWII? How did your character relate to the research?

Parker: Greyhound was so fun! It was an amazing learning experience and working on location with an amazing cast and crew in Baton Rouge was a blast. I did some research on the U.S.S. Kidd, which was the ship that we filmed some of the movie on! It was such a trip being able to work on real battleship that fought from World War II through the Korean war.

ATM: How does working with an actor with a long career such as Tom Hanks add more to your intriguing nature for acting?

Parker: Working with Tom Hanks was a dream come true. I always wanted to work with him on a war film after watching Saving Private Ryan when I was 13. He’s a lovely person and a total professional in every sense of the word. I learned a lot from him!

ATM: What is unique about the plot summary and express the identity of your character in your next year’s Yes, God, Yes?

Parker: Yes, God, Yes is an early 2000’s coming of age movie that takes place in a weekend Christian retreat. It was so fun filming in my hometown of Atlanta. I played a character named Wade, who’s a good kid even though he may not always make the right decisions because he wants his peers to like him.

ATM: How did the family atmosphere on set effect your experience with the film?

Parker: I loved filming Yes, God, Yes because it was such a tight bond with the entire cast and crew. We felt like family even though it was a shorter shoot. Karen Maine, the director was so on top of things and kind at the same time. Watching her work was inspiring, for sure.

ATM: In what ways did your performance on with film Greyhound drive your artistic goals and allow you to gain knowledge?

Parker: The role that impacted me the most was my role on Greyhound because I was on that set for the longest amount of time. Living with a character for that long was an interesting experience for me and I got to learn a lot about World War II navy life.

ATM: What actor or actress has inspired you enough to want to work with them? How does this same inspiration influence a character’s expression you would want to embody?

Parker: It would be amazing to work with Bill Hader. I’ve always loved comedy and that guy always cracks me up. Everything I’ve seen him in never fails to make me laugh! A dream role for me would be a wacky character in a Christopher Guest mockumentary. Spinal Tap and Best In Show are probably my favorite comedies ever and I would love to be a part of something like that.

ATM: What does your latest single “TailorMan” resemble to you as an musician? How does this introspective about yourself dictate the projects you have in the coming forth?

Parker: “TailorMade” was inspired by going through a rough 2017 and rising above it this year. Filming Yes, God, Yes and Greyhound really helped me out and that song was an outpouring of all my emotions after coming back from Baton Rouge. Check it out!

https://soundcloud.com/focalfeature/tailormade I have a song called “D.I.Y.” coming out on December 7th and an EP titled, “Automatic Focus” coming out on December 22nd!

 

Film Analysis: ‘Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes’

Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes expressed a partition between a man who was a pioneer for television and politics, but the fall of a television hero. We are introduced to Roger Ailes’ childhood and school reputation from a few people. It was surprising to see that there was not a substantial amount of different people to recapture his childhood memories. Some of the people that spoke were also in scenes speaking about his career.

Ailes seemed to not live in the social world with other people his age. He did not focus on socializing about with friends more than concentrating on his career. Mostly among people, there is a “high school” social mentality. This can be classified as possessing the desire to converse with people and talk about careless things. Socialization among people did not help if it was not of the essence for him. If he talked to anyone, then it was to social climb up in the ranks. He carried a presence of making people believe that were close to him while in actuality they was not.


The Fox founder and media mogul followed the expectations of an American citizen. This is seen in him making a huge impact and leaving his mark. He possessed so much power, money, and intelligence. Ailes was lonely at the highest level. We only heard him talk about his commodities and achievements when he was off the job. If you are the breaking barriers in television, then no one around you that is not doing the same will not understand you. Society says work hard to get where you want to be, but what happens when you work harder then what the next? You become socially disconnected to the people around you. You become powerful on the level of getting seen as an intimidation. The rate Ailes was going made him feel invincible. He felt no could touch him and that he could do anything. Now, this deep example of the male ego is what made the television pioneer fall.

Ailes was powerful and was a gold mind at being an innovator. He had power in politics, the media, television, over men, but not women. Women was the last thing that seemed foreign to him regardling control. Ailes represents a person who took the initiative to pick having a career over socializing. So, he did not know how to actually socialize outside of the business rhetoric or discursive language. This was a foreign land to him. He was merely driven and obsessed with the feeling of having control and power. Everything else was submissive to him in a business and regular sense.

Furthermore, everyone has something weird they do in their own privacy. Some people will not ever admit the crazy and weird things they do. These eccentric things can be seen as meeting the social norms or coming out of them. For Ailes, this was having a voyeuristic nature. Also, imposing his scopophilic ways on women, meaning objectifying them as just a mere body part to represent. Did he see his female employers as women or just a pair of boobs and legs? The male he ultimately became outside of his achievement might have been the person he always wanted to become. However, his desire to have power, entrepreneurial competition with other media platforms, and conquer became the dominant goal in his life. Someone adults become a version of themselves that they wanted be while younger. When Ailes’ weird ways came into the spotlight, he became his true identity and self even becoming a part of his fall. This was Roger Ailes. But, this version of Ailes’ was not socially accepted, disgusting, creepy, and not positive.

As a male youth, Ailes might have not been aware of his huge manipulative and persuasive ways. Or was he just around a lot of gullible people? It was interesting to hear that people believed the things Ailes said. This is a talent, but rather a hard skill for people to have innately acquired at a young age. Ailes saw issues in television that pertained visual rhetoric and intended messages to the audience. There was no persuasion. There was no entertainment. The people did not get to see professionals talk about the current and pressing issues occurring in society. There was no real sight of media inside the television industry. Television was just a commodity in which people turn on for a few hours and turned off. Everything was linear and close minded. Ailes’ innate strategic communication skills allowed him to change all of this forever. People before him never thought to move into a new direction. They did not possess the vision, such as Ailes.

When you work so hard, that one thing you are aiming towards becomes your identity. Ailes created Fox and other platforms, and hide behind them. Yes, Ailes was Fox’s Founder, businessman, husband, and more, but we did not know him. We knew and fell in love with his innate talent. Our first true and real introduction to Ailes was when the scandals came out. It is apparent that Ailes never know who he was and used his great career and talents on manipulation to fill his space of who he was.

Wilem Dalby on 18th Century Terms in ‘The Favourite’

ATM: How did some of the scenes in this film express the core elements of Transcendentalism?

WB: Regarding transcendentalism (and its qualities of Idealism, Individualism and the Divinity of Nature), The Favourite promotes and affirms Idealism; Abigail (Emma Stone) dreams of being a lady of great status and power; and manages to do so, moving from a mere kitchen hand, to the Queen’s Privy Purse. The divinity of nature, too, can be seen; in the healing poultices which Abigail provides for the Queen’s gout, and in the Queen’s ‘children’; 17 bunnies, each representing a lost child. The film does not actively portray the quality of Individualism, but more so its opposite (and in turn, its disadvantages). The worth of an individual is cast aside, as it is their connection with the Queen (Olivia Coleman) which gives them worth. Having a high social standing and being favoured (societally and romantically) by Queen Anne is of paramount importance to the characters. Abigail’s marriage to Masham (Joe Alwyn) exemplifies this neglect for the individual; without her marriage to someone of higher social standing, she can hold no worth in the eyes of others. Indeed, her fixation on her status is what drives the tension and conflict within the story.

ATM:  How are people with aristocratic roots depicted in comedy?

WB: Comedy often depicts those with aristocratic roots as ridiculous, over-the-top, caricatures, drawing on the extremes of their characters. The Favourite‘s comedy, however, derives from their eccentricities within the form of 18th-century propriety, giving both a farcical and realistic portrayal of the characters.

ATM: How does the dragging scene destruct a woman’s identity, voice, and power?

WB: The Duchess of Malborough’s lowest moment in the film sees her dragged along the ground by her horse, unconscious. Her ordeal sees her so disfigured she is taken in by a brothel where she is offered work. This shift from high-status to low (particularly given Abigail’s shift in the opposite direction) is an utter humiliation for her character, for whom herself and prostitutes are at opposite ends of the social spectrum.

ATM: How are the terms voyeurism and fetishistic scopophilia seen in this film? 

WB: A slight theme of voyeurism runs throughout the film; from Abigail being made to watch a man grope himself, to her silent observation of the Queen and Lady Marlborough’s love. This 18th Century societal inability to step in and/or cease something considered lewd or improper leaves the viewer oddly enthralled by the scene – we are made complicit with both the observer and the rest of the audience; unable to act.

ATM:  What was the 18th Century perspective on homosexuality love and sex?

WB: Homosexuality in the 18th Century was considered a crime, akin to bestiality and severely looked down upon. My understanding, however, is that this mainly applied to men as ‘penile penetration’ was required for a sexual act to be thought of as ‘sodomy’ – the most severely punished crime. For certain though, it would not have been fitting for a Queen of England to be a lesbian, and indeed it may be that the extremity of such an accusation kept Queen Anne’s (rumored) lesbianism from ever being discovered.

ATM: What would a day as character be like for you to embody your character in the film during this time period?

WB: A day in the life of my character… I imagine de-lousing would be a large part of the day; what with lesser understandings of cleanliness and hygiene, today’s unpleasant imaginings would have been the 18th Century’s unfortunate reality! Also what with the sheer amount of layers one wore, getting dressed in the morning/ going to the bathroom and getting undressed at night would have been a considerably time-consuming activity; hence the employment and help of manservants.

ATM: Who in your life can classify you as their favourite? 

WB: I am favourite to my other half, Laura.