The Rebound of Cinema?

by Izaak Garcia

With the advent of online streaming, cinemas nationwide are at a crisis point.

Around the end of 2020, entering the beginning months of 2021, theaters tentatively reopened, welcoming people with open arms once again. It seemed like everything would be alright for movie theaters and the businesses surrounding them—right? Well, not quite. From small businesses and restaurants to big airlines, almost every single sector has felt the effects from the ongoing pandemic. Once businesses and other places of human interaction started to close, movie theaters weren’t far behind, shutting their doors to moviegoers across the country. But as theaters shut their doors to the public, another door opened to hundreds of millions of people around the world. 

The movie industry expected that after months of being locked in their houses, people would come back to the theaters—and they were right. The box office numbers showed promise for the industry, with movies such as Godzilla vs. Kong making over $85 million and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet making over $55 million. What the movie industry did not expect was the rise of streaming services. With new releases such as Disney’s Cruella and James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad being released in theaters along with streaming platforms like Disney+ and HBO Max, a problem presented itself. If movie watchers stayed in the comfort of their homes and accessed these streaming platforms, why would they go out of their way to travel to the movie theater, pay for tickets and concessions, just to watch the same movie? People now had these major movies in their own homes, and the amount of money previously spent at the theater was now the price to rent/buy the movie from the comfort of home. Movies released in theaters alongside streaming platforms attracted millions of streaming buyers; but as all these people stream instead of heading to the theater, the box office gets none of the profit. This means the movie makes less money, which in turn causes the movie to look like it flopped. 

Highly rated movies, by critics and audiences alike, could do extremely poorly upon release with the metric of success still being box office sales. Case in point, The Suicide Squad. Receiving multiple high ratings as well as an outstanding 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, this movie was set up for a successful opening weekend—but this wasn’t the case. With a budget of around $180 million, on opening weekend it only made slightly above $26 million, essentially “flopping” at the box office.

Movies were made to bring people together, but also to be seen and heard in a theater. The immersive experience of seeing a movie in a theater is like no other, and unfortunately, that feeling is fading. So, what can we do as audience members and moviegoers to help these movies? Supporting movies and watching them in the theater go hand in hand, so don’t be afraid to put on your mask, grab a family member or two, and enjoy the magic of the movies.

About Izaak Garcia

Izaak Garcia is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California, majoring in Cinema and Media Studies with a minor in Applied Cybersecurity. He has played soccer with FC Peoria, Dunlap, and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and English for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new languages, and playing video games.

#BlackTikTokStrike

by Kianna Goss

You might enjoy learning viral TikTok dances—but do you know who really created them?

After my multiple failed attempts to learn the impossible counts of new TikTok dances and spending numerous hours scrolling while getting trendy songs stuck in my head, a problem had been brought to my attention: TikTok does not credit Black creators. In June, after the rapper Megan Thee Stallion released her new single “Thot S***,” Black TikTok users/creators boycotted using the song on the app, and I found myself seeking out information on the topic.

According to Onicia Muller, writer for Today, “When asked about the purpose of the strike, Black creators shared that they are tired of not being credited and not receiving equal awards for their creativity.”

Black creators said their intentions were not to hurt the sales of Megan Thee Stallion’s new song, rather, their purpose was to shed light on the fact that Black TikTok users are not credited for the dances that others go viral with. Without dances created by Black individuals, there would be fewer dances for TikTok users, regardless of race, to steal—because no dance credits are given to Black creators in viral videos that others post. While many may not see their actions on TikTok as stealing (because one purpose of the app is to create a dance-sharing community), when dances are replicated by other individuals who receive more views without a shout out to the original creator, it’s stealing the creativity of Black creators. 

Cache McClay, a writer for BBC News, interviewed TikTok users and shared their responses. Eric Louis, a Black TikTok creator who helped organize the strike, told the Washington Post, “Even in the spaces we’ve managed to create for ourselves, [non-Black] people violently infiltrate and occupy these spaces with no respect to the architects.”

Rachel McKenzie, a TikTok user and a supporter of the strike said, “If you look at modern pop culture and its entirety, it’s just another example of how Black culture sells and white people hijack it [and] as a white woman, I think it’s important to speak to those who continue to deny credit or trivialise matters like this.”

The success of the strike expanded into other social channels and grew on Twitter’s platforms as many Black individuals shared that the strike was protecting the originality of Black creators. Other creators moved away from TikTok and on to TipSnaps to earn money for their creativity.

So, individuals who enjoy TikTok as much as I do may be wondering: How can I keep the app but also support the movement? Reading more about the movement and the purpose is the first step. I’ve linked several articles above that share reasons why this issue is important. There is a community committed to making TikTok fairer, and you can find content from Black users by searching #BlackTikTokStrike on Twitter.

We can all make progress if we hold individuals accountable for cultural appropriation when they take credit for dances from Black choreographers. As a TikTok user, I call out individuals who discredit the originality of Black creators by posting comments under their videos. I encourage you to challenge yourself by speaking up about the issues this movement brings to light. Whether it’s a comment, making a video, reporting the page, or creating a new hashtag on social media, these are vital steps in strengthening a movement towards supporting Black creators’ work. What steps will you take to create social change?

About Kianna Goss

Kianna Goss is a senior at Bradley University, majoring in journalism with a double minor in sociology and advertising with public relations. The importance of community involvement is to use your voice. Kianna’s voice is one of the strongest platforms she has, and utilizes it through her writing. Being a Black woman, Kianna often writes to give a voice to the Black community to gain control over the media that portrays them in a negative way. Kianna is a writer with different form expressions. She has written poetically, through blogs, newspapers, and opinion pieces. Kianna always looks for more opportunities to grow as a writer and person. Kianna is currently the social media director for Her Campus, works as a peer mentor for Bradley’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and is a team leader/caller at the Bradley Fund. Being able to explore her creativity is what she loves most about Bradley. The Communications department is molding her into the journalist she aspires to be.

Rock Hunting on the Shores of Lake Michigan

by Gabe Gross

Something very special and unusual might be at your fingertips—you just need to know how to spot it.

Divine, glamorous, and beautiful–what are these? They are all traits of the Petoskey stone, a Midwestern beach surprise few are familiar with. Rock hunting is a favorite activity on my annual family trip to Michigan. Let’s look at some interesting treasures on display up north, as well as how to find them!

The scientific name of the Petoskey Stone is “Hexagonoria Percarinata.” Millions of years ago in Lake Michigan, warm reefs held many creatures and corals. During the process of glaciation, ice sheets ripped rocks from the bedrock layer, depositing them into Lake Michigan. This turned the Hexogonoria into the Petoskey Stone, which was named Michigan’s state stone in 1965. To this day, if you look hard enough, you’ll find Petoskey Stones on beaches just a half day’s drive from Peoria. If you find one in the water, it glistens, revealing a distinctive pattern of coral.

Another natural treasure found in Michigan looks like a rock but is actually a substance called “slag.” A beautiful blue color, it is referred to as a “Leland Blue.” You can’t find a Leland Blue on just any beach in Michigan. You must travel north up the Leelanau Peninsula to the town of Leland. Located in Northern Michigan, it was a diverse iron ore mining area. During the mining process, the ore was heated to extreme temperatures and mixed with other products. Sometimes these products created rich and dense colors, finding their way into sediment as in the case of the Leland Blue. 

To have success in discovering a Petoskey or a Leland Blue, you need a sense of adventure. Rock hunting and sand dune climbing go hand in hand. Many Petoskey Stones are found on a secret beach at the end of the challenging Sleeping Bear Dunes hike. This is a long, difficult hike taking an average of up to four hours. Only the most dedicated and adventurous can tolerate the hot sand under their feet, persisting to climb dune after dune. Along the way, at the top of each dune, I feel accomplished, sun in my face, looking out at the fabulous shimmering waters of Lake Michigan. The reward—my favorite part—is the cool fresh water at the end.

You might have to climb dunes that are steep plummets, a popular spot being Scenic Overlook Drive. Most vacationers are there to see the view, but the more adventurous traveler descends to Lake Michigan. A highlight of going down is to experience the crystal-clear water, which feels so refreshing after being on the hot dry sand.

Pyramid Point is a huge sand dune and to hike it you need to start at the top. If you are willing to climb down the steep plummet, make sure you’re strong enough to get back up the mile high summit! At the bottom you can find lots of Petoskey Stones as you walk the beach. Be careful though, if you take too many, you will have trouble making it back up the dune.

Michigan is a great destination for rock hunting. If you visit the right beaches, you could return with a dazzling treasure. 

About Gabe Gross 

Gabriel Gross is an eighth grader at St. Thomas school in Peoria Heights. He is the Student Council president. He plans to go to Richwoods and apply for the IB program. He loves baseball, basketball, and traveling. He also enjoys learning about history and how much it has changed our lives today.

About Adrien Vozenilek

Adrien Vozenilek is a freshman at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. They are currently double majoring in Psychology and Art. Adrien’s art is focused on their family and Italian heritage. They hope to work as an art therapist for LGBTQIA+ youth. You can find their Instagram at @a_vozenilek.

Living in a Digital Wasteland

by Adeline Ferolo

How you learn about events happening in the world may entirely depend upon algorithms…

6:30 AM

Bethany_22 posted to their story

Read this infographic on classist behavior. The one explaining why going vegan is a privilege really resonates.

$ophi3.Wilson posted to their story

Just started sketching and inking tattoos, check out my new tattoo account here. DM if you’re interested !!

Jazzy_4Eva posted to their story

Go like my friend’s post she is really hawt <<33

Jacob.Johnson posted to their story

Why is no one talking about the Uyghurs in China?

Ivory.Boutique commented on your post

Hey, girly loving this post !! You should check out the link in our bio. We’d love to send you some products!

I just opened Instagram.

Every morning, for the past five years of my relatively short life, this relentless flood of information has greeted me. As a teenager, I needed to open Instagram in the morning. What if I missed something; from midnight confessions spilled by the high school drama queen or the next broken-hearted anthem released by Taylor Swift? I couldn’t not know every single possible incident that occurred in the eight hours I’d been unconscious. What do you expect? I’m eighteen years old, my life pretty much existed on the Internet.

I learn about the world via Instagram; for better, worse, or normal, it is my main source of information. How’d I hear about the upcoming movie, House of Gucci? First read about it on the “explore” page of my Instagram feed accompanied with leaked paparazzi photos of Adam Driver and Lady Gaga. Angry Trump supporters storming the Capital on a chilly January afternoon? Saw it on The New York Times Instagram story. If I didn’t see it on Instagram, it simply did not exist in my reality. In retrospect, this realization is terrifying. Especially considering Instagram uses an algorithm to filter through the content it thinks you will engage with to keep your attention. And I wouldn’t be the first to admit the algorithm works.

Begrudgingly, I also confess I have spent up to three hours on Instagram in one sitting. In three hours, you could drive from Peoria to Chicago, or play three volleyball games—but that’s in the physical world. In three hours on Instagram, I can learn how to cook vodka pasta from Gigi Hadid, advocate for (insert name) humanitarian crisis, practice Spanish with a telenovela star, and plan out my entire week of outfits inspired by 2000’s fashion trends. Every minute spent in the digital world equates to approximately 10 minutes in the real world, according to my very precise (and soundly derived) calculations. The volume of information consumed by simply opening Instagram is overwhelming, and honestly, unhealthy. No human is mentally equipped to process the magnitude of an Instagram feed because it was built by robots, for robots. Nevertheless, every day I resign myself to being said robot in the eyes of capitalism, log onto Instagram, and ingest a deplorable amount of posts, stories, and quirky captions. I am addicted to it.

“Hello. My name is Adeline. And I am addicted to liking pictures of unattainable human lifestyles promoted by robots.” Unfortunately, not only am I obsessed with scrolling infinitely upwards, refreshing my feed for the latest updates, but I am also obsessed with creating content for the robots to promote. With the line between our digital and physical worlds virtually (pun intended) non-existent, to prove we have friends, we need to post on our digital profiles. But this must be done in an aesthetically pleasing format. Obligatory photoshoots and color-coordinated outfits are now the norm when a friend group hangs out. The last time someone haphazardly posted to social media without considering the ramifications to their digital persona coincides with Tom Holland inviting me to the Spider-Man: Homecoming premiere (clearly never happened in either case). Now, with the robots in charge, we must venture out into the scary, screen-less world and forage for Instagram-worthy content. The strangest products and weirdest experiences have been created to bridge the gap between the physical and digital. Baby-goat yoga, the cronut (a cross between… ugh, you know what it is), the selfie… these inventions were all created with the intention of going viral on social media.

If you attempt to explain the concept of Instagram to someone born circa 1900 (kudos if they’re rocking 122 years old btw), I’m absolutely positive they would assume you are an alien. Or maybe an alien disguised as their grandchild. With the lightning-fast pace of Instagram introducing new trends every minute, the average 18-year-old user has probably accumulated the same amount of information as their grandparents would with five lifetimes. Ultimately, the robots are responsible for accelerating the world light years beyond what any human could possibly imagine, in only a decade. And considering the robots are not leaving anytime soon, might as well…

Protect your privacy online with NordVPN! Get secure and private access to the Internet for just $11.95 a month.

It is 6:45 AM.

About Adeline Ferolo

Stories, arguably, are the most underrated form of currency that floods the digital world, whether through highlighted Instagram posts or viral YouTube videos. As an incoming freshman at New York University’s dramatic writing program, Adeline Ferolo aims to express herself and the issues closest to her authentically through engaging storytelling. Her interests range across many creative outlets—as a beginner photographer exploring digital and film cameras, as a host of The Movie Majors Podcast, and as a writer for Giving Voice. Adeline plans to continue to create and communicate stories in both her academic and personal life while in college.

The Return of Broadway

by Anna Gross

Online workshops kept Broadway performers and fans connected during a difficult year.

For over a year the bright lights of Broadway and Times Square have been dark. Tens of thousands of actors and actresses lost their jobs, causing them to turn to other forms of work, such as online workshops and voice-over gigs. Many also shared their creativity by writing their own songs and choreographing original dances to post on social media platforms. Finally, after months of Zoom classes and singing in the shower, Broadway performers will return to the stage on September 14, 2021.

Even before the pandemic, many Broadway performers needed a source of second income to make a living. Often, that second source of income came from the restaurant industry. So what happened when both of those industries shut down suddenly and indefinitely?  What innovative strategies did they turn to in order to stay connected and share their craft? Many turned to teaching. Jeanna de Waal plays the title role in the new musical Diana, which opened on Broadway for a week before the world shut down in late March 2020. As founder of the first adult only theater camp taught by Broadway performers, Jeanna de Waal used the connections she already had to start Broadway Weekends at Home (BWAH). She hired performers from Diana and other Broadway shows to share their talent and love for theater with people like me, quarantined at home.

During the beginning of the pandemic, I scoured the internet trying to find any online workshops taught by Broadway performers stuck in their apartments, as bored as the rest of us. Soon after I began searching, I came across BWAH, which began as a Facebook group and evolved into a community. Every day during the summer, I had at least two Zoom classes to attend in my bedroom. These classes were filled with people of all different ages and from every part of the world. Through our differences, we all had one thing in common: our love for musical theater. 

COVID-19 also caused all the movies that came out in 2020 to go straight to streaming devices, but maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing? I enjoyed being able to watch Hamilton and The Prom as many times as I liked. The pandemic may also have caused a rush to turn so many Broadway musicals into movies. Diana is set for release on Netflix this fall, along with a film adapted version of Dear Evan Hansen starring the original Broadway lead, Ben Platt. Plans for movie adaptations of Wicked, Mean Girls, and A Chorus Line are also in the making, although the release dates are unknown. 

BWAH classes along with the prospect of cinematic versions of my favorite musicals kept me feeling hopeful and a little bit more connected to Broadway during the height of the pandemic. Every time I logged on to Zoom for another meeting, I missed being on stage and performing with other people, but these classes also reminded me that we will be back soon and better than ever!

About Anna Gross

Anna Gross is a Sophomore in the Pre-IB program at Richwoods High School. She is involved in Student Council, Student Leadership Team, speech, tennis, and Spanish Club. Outside of school she loves to travel, bake, and perform as a singer, dancer, and actress!

About Faith Marie

Faith Marie is a homeschooled senior in high school who dreams of being an artist entrepreneur one day. She fell in love with creating at a young age and now experiments with all kinds of mediums. You can find her on Instagram at @faithmariedraws.

Portraits of Peoria: Betty Friedan

by Molly Deadmond

The woman who started the second wave of feminism and co-founded the National Organization for Women once called Peoria home. 

This article is part of a series that highlights individuals who are being honored through a collaborative mural program with Big Picture Initiative, Discover Peoria, and ArtsPartners of Central Illinois.

Betty Friedan (born Bettye Naomi Goldstein) was an American feminist writer and activist born in Peoria in 1921. She attended Peoria High School, where she became involved in the school newspaper, creating a literary magazine called Tide, which discussed student life. Friedan attended the all-female Smith College in 1938, where she continued her writing career as editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. She graduated summa cum laude in 1942 with a major in psychology. Friedan went on to write for the Federated Press from 1943 to 1946, then worked for the United Electrical Workers’ UE News between 1946 and 1952. After being forced to leave UE News due to her second pregnancy, Friedan became a housewife, supplementing her household’s income by freelance writing for numerous magazines, including Cosmopolitan

During her 15th college reunion in 1957, Friedan conducted a survey regarding the life satisfaction of American housewives. What began as a series of articles regarding what she called “the problem with no name” soon became much more. Deciding to rework and expand on the topic, Friedan published The Feminine Mystique in 1963. The book—widely credited as the spark of second-wave feminism in the United States—discusses the roles of women in industrial societies, with a focus on the full-time homemaker, and the struggles for life satisfaction these women faced. Friedan supplemented her research with her own experiences, pointing out the absence of positive female role-models that worked outside of the home and kept families. She also utilized her background in psychology, criticizing the work of psychologists such as Sigmund Freud, and providing answers to women looking to further their education.

Beyond the realm of writing, Friedan was an activist, participating in and founding multiple feminist organizations. She was a co-founder and the first president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), an organization whose purpose is to “promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life” (now.org). In the past, NOW has lobbied for several important causes, including the enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

In 1970, Friedan stepped down from her role as president of NOW, but she was far from finished with activist participation. Friedan organized the nationwide Women’s Strike for Equality on August 26 of the same year, which was the 50th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution granting women the right to vote. An estimated 20,000 women participated in the strike in New York City. The march’s primary goal was promoting equal opportunities for women in jobs and education, but protestors and organizers also demanded reproductive rights and the establishment of child-care centers.

An enormously influential figure in the women’s rights movement, Betty Friedan began her work right here in Peoria. The Feminine Mystique remains one of the most important feminist works to date, and the results of Friedan’s activism can still be felt today. In downtown Peoria, Friedan’s likeness can be seen displayed on the Central Building at the corner of Main and Adams Streets, as part of the Portraits of Peoria project, created by a local artist. Beside her is a portrait of Dr. Romeo B. Garrett, who became the first African-American professor at Bradley University in 1947, and whose story will be shared in the next issue of Giving Voice.

About Molly Deadmond

Molly Deadmond is a recent graduate of Eureka College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. Born and raised in Peoria, IL, Deadmond has a deep love for her community, and hopes to contribute to making her hometown a better place for all. Deadmond is a lover of all things creative, with a special love for creative writing. She believes that art is a form of therapy and escape that anyone can enjoy, regardless of talent or skill level. She enjoys video games, nature, and spending time with the ones she loves.

Investing In Our Planet: Part two

by Neve Kelley

Follow these tips to make your wardrobe more environmentally friendly.

As an extension of my August 2021 Giving Voice article, I’m here to share the ways I try to balance a love of fashion with ecological responsibility. It can seem overwhelming at first, but I assure you, there are easy and fun ways to show off your style in an environmentally friendly way. In my last article, I highlighted a few companies that have stepped up in their commitment to our planet. Now, I’m here with a game plan to help you become a part of the fashion revolution that is happening in our generation.

One of the best ways to stay eco-friendly (while looking just as fashionable) is to shop secondhand. I have shopped at thrift stores for many years now, and in addition to being better for the planet, it is genuinely fun! While sifting through the pieces that others have donated, you may find expensive brands, a discarded shirt that you almost bought from a fast fashion brand, or maybe even a piece from a sustainable brand—the options are limitless. The best part is each piece can be as cheap as $1! There are multiple shops in the Peoria area worth checking out—Goodwill, The Church Mouse, or garage sales. There are also consignment shops, like Plato’s Closet, which are somewhat pricier than thrift shops, but still have great secondhand pieces. You can even shop secondhand at home, using apps like Poshmark, Depop, or threadUP to find unique pieces. In addition to being eco-friendly, thrift stores have the best selection—a little bit of everything—and almost anything you find will be unique to you. Click here to read more about the reasons to shop secondhand.

Creating your own clothing is another way to make your closet more sustainable. Learning how to sew can certainly be a daunting task, but there are multiple websites and YouTube tutorials that make it as easy as possible for beginners. Something I would recommend is to start small. Perhaps look at some old clothes you no longer wear and see if you could transform something old into something new! If you have an old piece with great fabric, but it’s no longer your style, see if you could use that fabric to make something new. “Thrift flipping,” where you refashion something you find at the thrift store, has also become popular. It is a way to apply sewing skills, while not actually having to create something from scratch. Either approach, making something completely new or reworking an old piece, can be an exciting challenge! Here are some helpful sewing resources:

Thrift Flip by JENerationDIY

Sewing for Beginners: Everything You Need to Learn to Sew

Thrift Flip – DIYing Men’s Thrifted Clothing (No Sew) by Imdrewscott

How To Start Sewing Your Clothes: Beginner’s Guide by Jusuf

In short, having a sustainable closet is not a goal beyond reach. By thrift shopping or sewing your own clothing, you can help save the planet and look great while doing it. If you are inspired to become more sustainable, these are simple lifestyle changes to make—now it’s time to find what method works best for you!

About Neve Kelley

Neve Kelley a senior in the International Baccalaureate Program at Richwoods High School. In addition to being in an academically rigorous program, she is also heavily involved in community and school theatre productions. She takes private voice lessons and has been involved with choir and madrigals at Richwoods. Kelley is the co-editor in chief of her school paper, sits on the executive board of student council, and is in various school clubs. She also spends much of her time working as a barista at Leaves ‘n Beans in Peoria Heights. 

Art by Aryanne Westfall

Ary Westfall is a junior Interactive Media major and Theatre Arts minor attending Bradley University. She is the social media manager for DAT, creates webcomics in her free time, and enjoys all forms of sequential art. Ary hopes to break into the comic world or find work in pre-production art for television. 

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