[Review] The Lion King: How Simba Changed the Fate of Disney’s Live-Action Remakes 

In case you live in a cave and did not notice—Disney is on a roll with the live-action remakes of our favorite stories. It all started with Alice in Wonderland (2010) which had its strong cast bring over a billion to Disney’s thick wallet, entered a decline phase with The Jungle Book (2016) due to its odd tone and mixed reviews, and in my personal opinion, Disney hit rock bottom with poor casting and several other issues by releasing Beauty and the Beast (2017) and Aladdin (2019)The Lion King (2019) directed and produced by Jon Favreau, however, helped Disney’s magic to reach our hearts, again, just like the 90s. Here, I will explain how Disney finally stopped failing the audiences.

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Realism. Once I wiped off my tears coming out of the theatre, I decided to pay my respects to The Lion King (1994) at home and figure out why this animated documentary-like feature film worked so well. The first thing I noticed was Favreau’s attention to detail, and I assure you, he made sure we, as the audience knew about this. Favreau spent valuable effort to walk us through our surroundings, identify the appearance of species of all kinds, and appreciate one of the best (and likely leading) Virtual Reality production techniques within the film industry. Compared to the 1994 version, I could easily appreciate the 2019 feature for its identical yet heightened visuals. As Favreau explains, realism is what makes the film so unique. Ironically, it also produces the magic the previous films missed.

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Music. Better yet, the voice actors have done exceptional work: Donald Glover (AKA Childish Gambino) gave us the hurt and careless Simba at the same time. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s vocals (as Scar) were the closest thing to a brilliant Broadway performance. But, the real star in the voice work was Seth Rogen who made us all adore a warthog. Despite the never-ending coverage about Beyoncé’s casting on top of her new album inspired by The Lion King, her voice did not shine in the production. I think we are so used to hearing Beyoncé’s strong vocals that Disney music seemed a bit toned down for her vocals. Nonetheless, Favreau managed to awkwardly insert a short section of Beyoncé’s new original, “Spirit” in the film. If you catch the scene, I am sure you will agree that it just seems like a poor editing job rather than an integral part of the movie. Continue reading “[Review] The Lion King: How Simba Changed the Fate of Disney’s Live-Action Remakes “

July 2019 Book, TV and Film Roundup

Happy August 1st, AKA Spider-Man Day!

Now that July is gone with the wind, here is what went down: My screen exposure was higher than ever, hat tip to the Apple screen time(r) (I love to hate you). Unexpectedly though, this did not result in an increased number of reviews for this roundup. I spent most of my time watching Jessica Jones (2019), Season 3. I waited about two weeks to start the series… with hopes to delay the binge-watching, and the sadness caused by my favorite show wrapping up. Krysten Ritter nailed this season in so many levels, which I will expand on below. I saw Spider-Man Far From Home (2019) as soon as it came out. It put mind to rest after the destruction that the Endgame (2019) left and it reaffirmed Marvel’s well-thought creative decision about the rise of Spider-Man on our screens. I apologize for not having a review for The Lion King (2019). I promise it is in the works, and I will publish it separately. As I mentioned in my June roundup, I read Syd Field’s The Foundations of Screenwriting (2005). An excellent book by a sweet-talking author, screenwriter, and teacher.

The Shelf

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The Foundations of Screenwriting (2005) By Syd Field

As I have been trying to find where I would fit in the film industry upon graduation, I decided to explore whether I can do what I love the most: writing. A five to eight-minute google research led me to read Quora Digest and Reddit, where internet people strictly suggest not spending money on a “how-to” book for screenwriting. They suggest scripts will give you more freedom than the twenty bucks you spend. I didn’t listen to them and bought a cheap copy of Field’s book—I did not regret it, you won’t either.

Field did not write a how-to book. His book put a combination of his memories working in the industry and his lectures in words. In fact, as you read the book, you realize Field is repeating the pivotal sentences in your head over and over again. He really is lecturing you through this book. He wants you to know the right thing, fail a couple times, and return to what he told you again (because the guy really knows what he is doing).

So, what is it that you learned, you say? To recap: Stories can be found everywhere: In a magazine, newspaper, in the people you watch. Before you write the story—know the beginning and the end. Have a clear map, and you can play with the path. You capture the story by capturing your main characters. Write a biography for them, know what they would do in certain situations. Let them drive the story forward, otherwise, they are insignificant. Have plot points that change your direction along the way but keep your map in mind. Finally, take the hard responsibility of writing despite its challenges – These important points are only to name a few.

The 300 pages or so taught me more than its worth. So, believe me, when I say it is important for you to read this book if you don’t want to lose your way. Field also talks more about self-doubt, the real deal about creativity and licensing and selling your screenplay. But, he does so in a way that feeds you information while still making you feel like you are listening to one of his greatest stories. A fast read. A must-have. A Bible.

 

The Small Screen

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Jessica Jones– Season 3 (2019)

 What a journey it has been for Jessica. In a way, it has come a full circle. During the first season, he fought a mind-controlling, rapist and psychopath, Killgrave. In my opinion, this is still the best season to date. In season two, she fought her own mother, then, came in terms with her. She saw her own mother die with a bullet in the head, shot by Trish who is also family. In particular, I did not enjoy season two a lot. I am not necessarily sure why—But a guess might be because the mother-daughter duo did not feel as organic as it maybe should have. However, now I realize that season two planted the seeds of Trish, showed us her previous battles with addiction and harassment, and her desperate need to feel empowered. In a way, season three had both Krysten Ritter (Jessica) and Rachael Taylor (Trish) share the spotlight. We didn’t see much more about Malcolm’s character development or at least it wasn’t a driver of the story for this season. We started understanding, even emphasizing with Hogarth and the loneliness that is killing her.

Continue reading “July 2019 Book, TV and Film Roundup”

[Short Story] Placed Upon the Horizon

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Photo Credits: beenhereseenthat.wordpress.com

She took the same pathway she always did that day while many preferred the library on West Georgia St. She couldn’t take the lung sucking, dark walls anymore. At the end of the pathway, right there, she saw the man-made waterfall that sprinkled a few drips on the marble steps she intended to quickly climb. She felt… refreshed and said to herself, “The best in town. It doesn’t get better than this”. She was right, it was right in the middle of the tall piles of bricks.

She found her spot on the stairs at the very top. Carelessly slamming her messenger bag on the ground, she took out a crammed stack of papers, some discolored, a couple perfectly white, and placed them on her lap to grab a bite of the crab apple she brought for lunch. Before getting her pencil to do its magic, she took a look towards the Art Gallery standing across the marble stairs, with stairs of its own, so gracefully. Her eyes followed the engraved phrase below the roof of the building: Placed upon the horizon (Casting Shadows). “Sounds Biblical”, unimpressed, she said it out loud this time. On her right, there was a woman worshipping her coffee, trying to place her phone at the right spot to update her social media feed. “Similar things”, she thought. Continue reading “[Short Story] Placed Upon the Horizon”

June 2019 Book, TV & Film Roundup

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June was a quiet month for screen exposure. Well, at least the second half of it. I have a special someone visiting me so, I assure you that there will not be any complaining. This also makes up my much-needed excuse for posting a June roundup on the second day of June, rather than the first of it. While I thought these roundups would keep the blog alive when I did not know what to write about, I also realize now that they also keep me somewhat accountable. I love deadlines. I am past my deadline. Well, let’s talk about all the great things in life. Books, TV, and film. Here we go.

The Shelf

I have been mainly busy with reading research articles, extending my own research article, and editing my thesis. I managed to get my hands on a second-hand copy of Syd Field’s Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting (2005). It is an excellent read that is beyond a “how-to” book so far. I never got to finish it so, I’ll postpone the review to the next round up. What I did finish though, is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ take on Black Panther, A Nation Under Our Feet (2016).

 

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All images belong to the rightful owners.

 

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet (2016) By Ta-Nehisi Coates

I remember reading an article by the ex-Atlantic journalist, Ta-Nehisi Coates prior to making the decision of picking up this comic book (Note that I have not read his take on Captain America, yet). The article talks about the mixed-feelings of producing a story that has been created by a predominantly White team of comic producers, Coates finding his purpose through taking the challenge, playing with a new voice and potentially making that voice sound better for many. I was curious to see how Coates re-introduced the previously primitive Black Panther (see, Fantastic Four #52) and whether the same criticisms made for the movie (2018) could also be traced back to this comic. Coates’ Black Panther actually received all of those criticisms in the comic itself: T’Challa was selfish, he was not heard by his nation, and he, perhaps, hurt his nation because he saw them as a burden rather than an honor.

The main plot revolves around the people of Wakanda attacking their own King. On the surface, they are controlled by a woman with supernatural abilities, however, Coates’ sets up the greater problem underneath, that is caused by the heaviness of T’Challa’s crown. While the enemies plot against overthrowing T’Challa, he fears his greatest challenge of failing Wakanda. Coates’ way of telling this story is beautifully poetic, complex, and one that houses an interplay of many messages. His take of the Black Panther is not actually a book of physical war but the fearful war within the King. It is nowhere close to a primitive representation, but psychological warfare that pushes T’Challa for reconsidering his ideology. It is Black Panther refreshed, yet not one that forgets history. I suggest you get your hands on it and read it. Then, read it again to truly appreciate the story behind every word.

The Small Screen

 

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All images belong to the rightful owners.

 

How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast) (2019)

I don’t know why I will stamp this show as mediocre yet but… I will anyway. Netflix caught me on its main page trap when the show was first released, I did not have anything to watch at some stressed point in my life and pressed play. I did not binge watch this show, rather, went back to it whenever I was desperate. Don’t get me wrong, it is wasn’t a bad show per se. It was just a real-life, coming of age story that had minimal sickening events (see, episode 8… I think), and not so sickening references to the dark web (I was forced to watch a YouTube video talking about the dark web so, I hate talking about the dark web).

The plot is about Moritz, whose girlfriend just got back from an exchange program from the US and questions the meaning of life (thanks to the drugs, hence the title of the show). So, Moritz decides to sell drugs to win her back and surprisingly makes a lot of money to fuel his greed. I don’t think the growth of Moritz’ online drug business is so typical, but the show accurately represents the German young-adult culture and the effects of the wide use of drugs. The show also deserves an A+ for its use of simplistic cinematography and tech-inspired graphic components. Overall, is it a waste of time? No. Is it an amazing show? No. Continue reading “June 2019 Book, TV & Film Roundup”

The Streaming Wars: Disney+ to dominate all

 

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Photo credits: Techcrunch.com

 

From Snow White to Iron Man, Star Wars to the Monster’s Inc., there is something for everyone in Disney’s World. The small yet iconic Mickey Mouse has been taking over the well-established characters of the film industry for a while now. Not many of us know the end goal but let me walk you through Walt’s direction that brought back an old trick: Disney+

Prior to his great success—Walt Disney was interested in TV due to its ability to increase the visual appeal of Disney products, and this was the most-influential post-war decision in the American culture, that encompassed the consumer through “total merchandising”. Later, Disney signed an agreement with ABC. The Disneyland tv show elaborated to the economic transformation of the company. In the time span of a year, Disney attracted half of ABC’s ad bills, and ABC had to operate at loss. Disney’s contract with ABC was an opportunity to capitalize on the studio’s library of films.

Disney’s textuality outset was indifferent from the traditional approach it fragmented, propelled and guided the viewer away from the TV episodes, but guided them to a more persuasive text that encouraged further consumption.

Flash forward to 2019— Disney officially owns the following studios (entirely or more than %49 ownership) ESPN, Touchstone Pictures, Marvel, Lucasfilm, A&E, The History Channel, Lifetime. The studio ownerships, film productions, and finally… the transformed TV era plans come back with the birth of online streaming. Disney+ is ready to dominate your screens.

Disney + is set to launch on November 12, 2019. The cost will be $6.99 a month, or $69.99 for a whole year. Can’t we all expect chaos in the Netflix office already? With their monthly price at a double rate, there will be competitive changes to be made. Or not? We shall see. Other streaming services owned by Disney, Hulu and ESPN Plus – will run on the same platform, will likely require separate subscriptions.

What shows are on the agenda? (Hat tip to CNN Business).

Live Action Series
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (available at launch)
The Mandalorian (available at launch)
Diary of a Female President (launching in year one)
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (launching in year one)
Loki (launching in year two)
Untitled Cassian Andor Series (launching in year two)
WandaVision (launching in year two)

Animated Series & Shorts
Forky Asks a Question (available at launch)
SparkShorts (available at launch)
Lamp Life (launching in year one)
Monsters at Work (launching in year one)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (launching in year one)
Marvel’s What If…? (launching in year one)

A Bonus: The Simpsons announced their partnership with Disney+ by saluting their corporate overlords just yesterday.

New deals, new franchises, new streaming outlet… where does it all lead?
Luckily, the end goal remains the same. Walt Disney Corporations is not taking over the world (yet). But they continue to build on the plan to make the theme parks more profitable through TV… ehem, I mean streaming services!

Disney recently made $2 billion investment to its theme parks. The Secret Life of Pets is getting a theme park ride at Universal Hollywood (expected 2020), “Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge” theme park is set to open in 2019, “Guardians of the Galaxy Blast In” comes in 2021.

Disney Corporate must be expecting new profits through its streaming service that will continuously drive fans to the theme parks. It worked in the ’50s, why not now? After all, don’t we all want to live a little magic?

Works Cited/Further Reading
Disneyland (1993) by Christopher Anderson

Relating Long Distance

Hello to my loyal readers and friends,

Thank you for your tremendous support over the course of my university journey. I can happily inform you that I am very close to graduating, and I have undertaken a valuable experience while doing so: I am conducting undergraduate research on long-distance relationships. Please take 5 minutes to answer the survey below. (Please see if you are eligible to participate)

Are you currently in a long-distance relationship? Do you communicate with your significant other via online communication methods (email, texting applications, online phone or video calls)?
If you answered “yes” for both of these questions, you might be eligible to contribute to a Communications Theory study conducted by a senior MCOM student. At the end of the survey, you will automatically be entered to a draw to win a $10 Starbucks gift card.
Please note– The answers are anonymous, and your information will not be shared with anyone other than the researcher (myself). Click below to participate:

Many thanks,

Hazal

Storytelling: On the flowing stream

What does it mean to be a storyteller? My lecturers discussed this a million times over the four years of my undergrad career. I call it a ‘career’ because I have been creating stories ever since I was eight, if not even earlier. Do you mind taking a walk with me through the memory lane? Even though I look like I’d prefer being alone while I do this, I still think I need company today.

I love bedtime stories, and I would use all of my little power to stay awake through those. Luckily, my dad had a million stories to tell. Every time he started a new story, he would reassure me saying that it is a really old tale and he is not making it up, because why would he? I would get mad at him because, after two or three years of hearing a new story every night, I think I was somehow too smart for a six-year-old, and I realized that they all told me the same thing over and over again: “You can explore, but listen to your parents when they warn you, or else you’ll get in trouble”. Oh, and no love interests, mom and dad will save you, there is no prince charming here!

But my dad was a professional. “Dad you are not making this up, right?”, “No, this was absolutely real”. The little black sheepdog always wondered what happened outside the farm. One day he decides to take a long walk, jumps across the fences and explores the endless fields. It suddenly starts getting darker, he is scared, and he hears a pack of big bad wolves howling. They get closer and form a circle around him, the little sheepdog is scared. His parents come and save him, later, getting mad at him a little bit but hugging him tight still. Dad, I miss your stories. I know you didn’t make any of them up.

If you thought my dad was an okay storyteller. Let me tell you about his mom, my grandma. Whatever she tells you, you are ought to believe her. She always had something in her voice that would make you feel like she is pulling you deep into this thought bubble that is inside her two hands. She was a magician playing with her words, and a bit of a witch, I am never sure if her hands are telling the story or casting a spell.

Oddly enough, her story never changed because she only had one. Her mother was adopted, had a very tough childhood but grew older to be a loving mother to my grandma. But this loving mother died too soon. I have seen my grandma pulling out a small photo of her mother from the very last drawer full of tablecloths, that is a part of an 80 some year-old dark brown wooden cabinet. Every time she pulled out the picture, she would blame herself for forgetting what her mother’s face looked like. She says she needs the picture to remember. I bet it hurts.

You remember the stream, dear? —  In the old town, it’s by our old home. – How can you not remember? – Well, I’ll take you there when we go. Oh, dear! – It was night time, very late. Maybe after 11 or 12. We had to sail through the river, so mom put me and my sister in a small wooden boat. And she was rowing and rowing. Oh! All of a sudden! – We saw a light from deep down. Oh, it was beautiful. It was shining and so bright that it hurt our eyes. My sister was younger, you know. And mom said to put our heads down. We put our heads down, but I peeked out on the side, mom didn’t see. Oh, it was so beautiful. A woman, she had ginger hair. It was so long. Her hair was like Leipzig silk! She was shining. She swam next to our small boat. Was it ever beautiful? – No, no. She didn’t hurt us or anything.

Then, what happened? We got off the boat and went home, but it was beautiful. I never told mom that I saw it!

But you are not lying? Right? How can you see it in the old town? Like here? Is it true?Maybe, I was dreaming, I don’t know. I was young. (She would shrug off her shoulders and move on with her life at this point, after charming me with the story. It was so cruel because I would think about it all night until I finally fell asleep).

There are things I wish I could remember better lately, and my mind won’t let me. But, can’t we all tell stories? All of the stories I heard, had a bit of those people that touched the narrator. And, no, my great grandma is not made up, but loving and gentle, just like in grandma’s story.

Dogs can talk, and mermaids are real – if only you believe.

 

Photo Credits: http://kopriyet.blogspot.com/2016/05/kirmasti-koprusu.html

Food for Thought: The Lazy Chef’s Table

Happy Sunday! I hope I am not the only one that directly associates Sunday’s with an early morning light creeping from the nonfunctional blinds, reading and herbal tea (potentially in bed). Doesn’t it sound beautiful? For that reason, I am not one for hating Mondays, weekends just do a good job with calming me down.

Vancouver was supposed to get a major snowfall this morning, but the mother nature must have decided to postpone it, as my iPhone would agree. With the possibilities of getting snow gone, my plans for the day didn’t change: I’ll be reading for an upcoming media criticism project (in various places probably), and I’ll need to take breaks.

Break numero uno, with the courtesy of a hobby of mine: Cooking (and eating). Here are a couple of recipes I have developed, learned, or read online and made my staple. For my college student friends that have no time, I hope this comes as an inspiration.

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The “I can’t believe I like salad” Salad

I was introduced to this recipe by a close family member when she came to visit us in Canada, she gets a huge thank you for making me enjoy a salad for the first time.

Ingredients

Chopped Kale/Spinach

Chopped cabbage

Shredded carrots

(OR Pre-packaged greens of choice)

Boiled or canned chickpeas

3-4 dates

3 slices of feta cheese

Walnuts

Dressing: ½ lemon, 2 tbsp olive oil

(I personally don’t use the oil as cheese does the job for me)

Instructions:

  1. If you are boiling your own chickpeas: Soak chickpeas in hot water and a dash of salt overnight. Next morning, boil them for about 15-20 minutes and drain the chickpeas. Voila, use them in wraps, salads, or on top of rice.
  2. Put chopped vegetables in a large bowl as your base, put in your chickpeas, and dressing. Mix them all.
  3. Chop 3-4 dates and feta cheese in small pieces, crush the walnuts with your hands, add them on top.
  4. Enjoy, and get ready to say, “I can’t believe I like salad”, now.

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Peas and chicken in a pot (Serving: 4)

 Ingredients

1 tsp of Powdered ginger

1 tbsp of Salt

1 tbsp of pepper

1 tbsp garlic

2 tbsp Coconut oil

Chopped (3) chicken breasts

Frozen green peas

1-2 tbsp of tomato paste

Instructions:

  1. Put chicken breasts in a pot, add enough water to cover it at the same level. Bring the chopped chicken breasts to boil for about 5 mins, drain the chicken and keep the broth.
  2. Put the chicken, frozen peas, tomato paste and desired amount of broth in the pot. Cook for about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Add coconut oil and spices to the pot. Turn off the heat and let the dish simmer for 5 more minutes.

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Moroccan Egg-Fried Couscous (Serving: 2)

Unlike all the other recipes that were subject to trial and error, this one is one that I found online recently and loved it. Give it a try!

Ingredients

1/2 package of couscous

1 cup frozen mix vegetables/or snap peas (or as desired)

1 tbsp coconut oil

4 eggs

Spices:

1 tbsp curry

1 tbsp chili

1 tbsp garlic

A dash of salt

Instructions:

  1. Boil ½ package of couscous in water for 8 minutes (as if you are making pasta). Drain the couscous.
  2. Take a pan and melt 1 tbsp of coconut oil, add all of your spices now (this is a golden trick that makes the food absorb spices better).
  3. Add the couscous and frozen veggies, fry them until veggies become soft.
  4. Form an empty hole in the middle of the pan, pour your eggs and start mixing them with the rest of the stuff in the pan slowly.
  5. Fry everything until eggs make the couscous look browner.
  6. Enjoy! I can already feel it smells great. Yum.

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Cinn-Apple-and-Oat Cake (Serving: 4-6/Small Portions)

Ingredients:

1 whole chopped apple

1 cup oats

2 tbsp whole-wheat flour

1 cup applesauce

½ cup milk

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp olive oil

4-5 tbsp coconut sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp cinnamon (or as desired)

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Put a tiny bit of olive oil to the baking dish and make sure to spread it evenly so the mixture doesn’t stick later on.
  2. Chop a whole apple and microwave it for 1 minute.
  3. Take a bowl and stir together the oats, applesauce, milk, egg, vanilla, olive oil, and coconut sugar.
  4. Add in flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. Stir.
  5. Pour the mixture into the baking dish.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes. Take it out of the oven. Voila!

 

Let me know if you try the recipes, or have any suggestions for me to try. Happy Sunday!

Hazal

“The Stories of Sexual Abuse”, from the Sporting World

An ongoing default in the minds of the society we live in today promotes and accepts the image of women as victims of the untold stories. Women who work in different areas of expertise continuously face gender inequality: they are being stepped over in every possible scenario, are verbally and physically abused, and sexually assaulted. Although this is common for women working in every field, many athletes in the sports world encounter sexual assault at its highest, especially those who play in the elite level.

Here is a look at the stories you have never heard, and the ones that you did but moved on with your life:

Mike Tyson, 1991

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Visual Credit: DingeenGoethe

One of the most scandalous cases was about Mike Tyson, a former American boxer who had the title of the youngest heavyweight boxing champion 1986, raping Desiree Washington, the Miss Black America pageant contestant, in a hotel room in 1991. A day later, Washington reported she was raped by Tyson right after checking into an emergency room at the Methodist Hospital (Indianapolis Monthly, 2017).

The incident took place at a time when America was starting to become conscious about “date rape”. Right before Tyson’s attack, in 1990, America was shaken by the story of Katie Koestner, an 18-year-old college student, who was raped by her date as a freshman in college. At the time, her parents, peers, nor the police believed her, as Koestner describes how date rape was not a thing that was recognized by the society “In 1990, rape was still stranger rape. It was not about people you liked, or you were dating” (BBC, 2016).

Later Koestner’s voice was heard when the Time picked up her article and she was on the cover of the magazine in 1991. Similarly, Tyson’s attack took place right after the incident Koestner went through became publicized. This resulted in the journalistic details of Tyson’s attack becoming a “national sensation” (Indianapolis Monthly).

 

Cristiano Ronaldo, 2009

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Visual Credit: The Mirror

Ronaldo’s is a case that had shockingly tepid coverage. According to the Der Spiegel exclusive article, Kathryn Mayorga, a model who worked at the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, was invited to party with Ronaldo in his suite. Later that same night in 2009, Mayorga was forced to have sexual intercourse with Ronaldo even though she repeatedly said no. Next morning, she went to get a medical examination and visited the police immediately after the examination (Spiegel, 2017).

However, she couldn’t just go and talk about what had happened to her. Mayorga was forced to sign a settlement deal, provided by Ronaldo’s agency Gestifute, ensuring she would not talk about that day, and as a result, she received a payoff to forget about her accusations. According to the Der Spiegel interview, Mayorga signed the settlement “out of impotence, [and] the inability to stand up to him” (2017).

Just recently, in September 2018, Mayorga found the courage within herself to speak up about the traumatizing incident. Since the very first article that was published on the incident, Ronaldo’s agency Gestifute continuously sought to prevent any media coverage on the case, and later released the following statement “the article is nothing but a piece of journalistic fiction” (Spiegel Online, 2018). The 2018 Spiegel Online Article also gives details on the legal process and mismatching formal investigation responses by Ronaldo both in 2009 and 2018 about the allegations. The case is yet to be resolved.

 

Larry Nassar, 2015-2018

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Visual Credit: DailyMail

A far-reaching abuse case in the history of sports, the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal, is still a topic that remains on the headlines today. As more survivors find the courage to open up about the scandal, the updates are still inherent. The perpetrator, Larry Nassar, who was a former USA Gymnastics (USAG) physician, sexually abused more than 300 victims, the majority of them being underage (Vox, 2018). The victims included Olympic medalists Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, and McKayla Maroney.

Although the USAG fired and reported Nassar after receiving a testimony of an athlete stating her concern about him in June 2015, an Indianapolis Star investigation reported that “top executives at USAG routinely dismissed sexual abuse allegations against coaches and failed to alert authorities” (IndyStar, 2016). As the Washington Post stated, “the investigation, reported by the Indianapolis Star, found that USA Gymnastics routinely brushed off sexual abuse claims as hearsay, enabling coaches to molest gymnasts as young as 7 for years” (Washington Post, 2016).

The first public statements on the Nassar case were recorded as early as September 2016, however, the incident went viral when McKayla Moraney used her Twitter account as a channel to share her own abuse story. She stated that she was molested by Nassar every time she went for a doctor’s visit since the age of 13, up until her retirement from the sport in 2016 (ESPN). The USAG had Moraney sign a confidentiality agreement to cover up the scandal. In 2017, Moraney broke her silence, filing a lawsuit against Nassar. Later in 2018, Jacob Moore, a male gymnast, filed a different lawsuit against Nassar, stating he was sexually abused and harassed.  Jacob Moore’s sister Kamerin Moore was also one of the many victims (CBC, 2018).

Larry Nassar was sentenced up to 175 years of prison when the judge said, “I have just signed your death warrant”, easing the pains of the many victimized women, (and man), for decades (CNN, January 2018).

Notes from The Guardian’s Bryan Graham

A 2017 article written by Bryan Graham, at a time when the Nassar scandal was still fresh, stated that there were numerous sports media coverage and research available to the public in this issue and yet they were still “invisible” (The Guardian). Regardless of the fact that the Nassar scandal was not the first of high-profile sex abuse scandals in the sports world, it involved so many women unlike others such as the Baylor University scandal.

In his article, Graham explored the reason for this visibility issue and discussed whether it is due to the sports media being inadequate, later, stating that this was not the reason at all. Graham claimed, “the most distressing reason of all is that the abuse of women is normalized in our society. The Nassar scandal fits into our framework of how we understand a sport like women’s gymnastics. On some level we expect women to be victimized, so it’s not surprising when they are [victimized]” (The Guardian). As Graham would agree, the problem in this particular case and many others can be seen observing the society we live in today and their faulty understanding of women in sport, the carelessness they might have towards an unpopular sport during non-Olympic years, and the acceptance of the image of women who are bound to be victims.

Upon reflecting over his many articles on the cases of female athlete abuse, I was able to have the chance to connect with The Guardian’s Sports Journalist, Bryan Graham, and do an online interview. When I asked Graham about the common challenges sports journalists face when reporting on the abuse cases, he answered, “In the case of gymnastics, the victims are often under 18 years of age and media access is tightly controlled even for uncontroversial questions or requests such as interviews with athletes” (Graham, 2018). He added that the nature of the situation makes it hard for the survivors to discuss it thoroughly because of the shame and grief associated with the crime.

Moreover, Graham stated his opinion on whether the journalistic coverage of sexual abuse involving superstar players changed the public perception, particularly the Ronaldo case, he said that it was a “yes” to some extent, and added, “Yet I’d say 1) it varies widely on a case-by-case basis and 2) that superstar athletes are far more immune to the negative aftereffects due to the male-dominated nature of the space”. His answer supported that there is often a set of lawyers and agencies that cover up the crime with contracts and money.

soccerball on wide green grass field
Visual Credit: Pixabay, Pexels

Final Note

A recent Huffington Post UK article made a bold statement saying, “The voice of sport in 2018 moved beyond leaderboards, cup finals and breaking records. We saw a real watershed moment; rather than behaving as a detached and compartmentalized entity, sport offered a voice on issues that intersect at all levels of society” (Gold, 2019). I cannot possibly agree with it as society still seems to be blind towards certain news, and neither can you.

I asked Bryan Graham about the impact of the Me Too and Time’s Up movements in the sporting world, he replied, “I feel the world of sports has, unlike virtually every other major public sphere, not had its #MeToo or #TimesUp moment so far”.

There are other stories yet to be told but the change doesn’t seem so close to the sporting world.

 

A Sit Down Interview with Trinity Western’s WSOC Star Kristen Sakaki

A throwback to hosting my very first interview with the Spartans. Thank you, Kristen, for your genuine responses!

Trinity Western women’s soccer star Kristen Sakaki sits down with Hazal Senkoyuncu to chat about her soccer career, her three years as a Spartan and Mario Kart’s “Rainbow Road.” (November 2018, TWU Spartans)

Video credits: Mark Janzen