Category Archives: Entertainment

Improv-aganza!

Peak Out Shows Off Their Improv Skills

Marisa Cardin / Senior Staff Writer

Last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Western’s improv troupe “Peak Out” showed off their skills and impressed their audiences. Their three-day Improv-aganza had a different theme for each night. The first night, dubbed “Love and Turmoil Night,” and the games focused on and celebrated the recent Valentine’s day, even going as far as to call up a couple from the audience to recount their first date for two of the improv members (Bella Lewis and Maya Jones) to reenact. The second night was called “Good Ol’ Fashioned, Standard, Run O’ The Mill Improv Night,” which featured a selection of games, including a “long form”, where Peak Out members began with a place and a profession, and had to spin an entire story based on it. The final night was “Do or Die Night,” and included games with the audience voting for which member would go on to the next “level,” so to speak. The game ended with Roberta Marquette-Strain having to reenact what was originally a five person scene, with herself playing all five characters at once.

Needless to say, Improv-aganza was a success, and left the audience members on all three nights in tears from laughing. If you’re interested in joining the Improv Troupe, contact Benjamin Pressnall at benjamin.presnall@western.edu for more information. Tune in towards the end of the semester for an upcoming play, Woyzeck, which will be performed in mid-Apr.!

Film Review: Moana

Computer animated musical offers laughs and heart for all ages.

Sam Thornley / Staff Writer

Moana is the latest animated musical feature released by Walt Disney Pictures and offers entertainment as wondrous as the ocean the titular heroine travels. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, the film stars the voices of Auli’i Cravahlo and Dwayne Johnson with Temuera Morrison, Rachel House, and Jemaine Clement rounding out the cast. Filled with music by Mark Mancina, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Opetaia Foa’i, the film was released in theaters on Nov. 23 and will arrive on home media platforms on Mar. 7.

The film revolves around Moana, the teenage daughter of a Polynesian tribe’s overprotective chief, who is about to pass the title on to her. When the life on the tribe’s island starts to decay, Moana is sent on a quest by the gods and her dying grandmother to find the legendary demigod Maui and restore balance to the ocean.

What really makes Moana work is the phenomenal voice acting that drives the film through the main protagonists. Newcomer Auli’i Cravahlo is excellent as Moana, capable of hitting the entire emotional and musical range required of the character, along with having some great chemistry with Dwayne Johnson’s Maui. Dwayne Johnson does an equally commendable job as Maui with a careful application of his trademark wit balanced out with some tenderness during the more emotional scenes of the film.

The supporting cast of the film also delivers some great performances that help power the film’s emotional core. Temuerra Morrison and Rachel House in particular convey a lot of pathos as Moana’s father and grandmother respectively, making the most of their screen time in the film. Finally, Jemaine Clement delivers an over the top and enjoyable performance as the thieving coconut crab Tamatoa and provides a catchy musical number to match.

The most excellent part of Moana is the music, which is bound to remain with the viewer long after they leave the theater. In particular, the songs feature an excellent combination of English, Samoan, and Tokelauan lyrics that are catchy and simultaneously awe-inspiring, which manage to make the film feel more dramatic and sweeping.

Another excellent part of the film is the animation, which involved the development of new rendering technology to create the hair and water featured prominently throughout the film. The sand and water are rendered in incredible detail, along with the hair of the characters as it gets wet and blows in the wind. Additionally, the film features some well-done hand-drawn animation work for Maui’s sentient tattoos that add a creative flair to the computer animation.

Finally, the film has a wonderful amount of humor and emotion all mixed together. The film features funny interactions between Moana and Maui as they try to work through each other’s differences before exchanging pep talks and advice. Often, the film does this within scenes and succeeds at it marvelously thanks to the excellent voice acting.

If there are any real flaws with the film, it’s that the plot doesn’t stray too far from the usual Disney formula for their musicals. It still retains an animal sidekick and the villain has more to them than it seems at first sight, along with a saving-the-world plot and optimistic outlook. There are also some minor moments of repetitive humor that may get tiresome for some viewers.

Additionally, while remaining a funny character throughout the film, Moana’s pet chicken Hei Hei feels somewhat superfluous to the narrative. Since he cannot speak and has the intelligence of a rock, he mostly just sits around in the background while occasionally popping up for a quick joke. Considering he does not have much of a personality or arc behind him, he feels a little tacked on to the film in contrast to previous Disney sidekicks.

Overall, Moana is an excellently made animated film that will charm both adults and children with its emotion, music and, humor. While it has some flaws, its strengths more than outweigh them, and it manages to be an all-around strong film worthy of standing with the best that Disney has to offer.

CASTING CALL

CASTING CALL Western film student need actors for their short fictional films to be produced this February and March.

Film students need several young adult men and women actor for their narrative films being produced late February through March.  Students’ original scripts involve subject matter that ranges from coming of age, self-reflective, existentialist narratives to a not-so-innocuous crime mystery.

“We’re seeking several 18 to 32 year old actors, or those that want to be actors, willing to act in a film and take direction from one of our talented young filmmakers.  No experience necessary, though if you have acting experience, we’d sure appreciate it.” said Lucido.  There is no compensation involved, just good experience to be gained.

CASTING CALL dates are Tuesday February 21st 3:30-4:30 PM and Wednesday February 22nd 6:00-7:00 PM.  Both of these casual, come as you are, audition sessions will be held in 118 Taylor Hall on the campus of Western State Colorado University.  No monologue or other audition preparation is necessary.  Please come join us.

More information on Western’s film program:

http://www.western.edu/academics/film-studies

 

Film Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Sci-Fi prequel has some issues, but offers an optimistic start for spin off series.

Sam Thornley / Staff Writer

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a prequel to the original 1977 Star Wars film and the first spin-off film in the long-running series. Directed by Gareth Edwards and starring an ensemble cast including Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, and Forest Whitaker, the film was released by Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm Ltd. on Dec. 16, 2016. The film also notably features the likeness of the late Peter Cushing digitally recreated onto actor Guy Henry as the character Grand Moff Tarkin.

The events of the story, set immediately before A New Hope, follows the efforts of the Rebel Alliance to steal the plans to the Empire’s Death Star battlestation. When the weapon’s designer leaks information out to a guerilla cell, the Rebellion recruits his fugitive daughter, Jyn Erso, to aid a team intent on discovering the plans before it is too late.

What the film accomplishes above all else is to inspire a message of hope in its theme. This is particularly prominent in how the Death Star’s architect, Galen Erso, demonstrates in a rather well acted scene how being forced to build a terrible weapon took him to some dark places, and yet he never gave up trying to impede the Empire’s progress. Even some of the smaller moments, such as Chirrut’s belief in the Force despite not having it, and the protagonists defying orders to do the right thing, can bring out a small bit of appreciation in the viewer.

Additionally, the film has some pretty fun characters sprinkled throughout, accompanied by some great performances by the actors involved. While the main protagonists of Jyn and Cassian are relatable, if underdeveloped, it is the characters of K-2SO, Chirrut, and Director Krennic that truly stand out. Played by great actors who give the characters a lot of wit and personality, these characters steal every scene they are in and are bound to command the viewer’s attention to the screen whenever they are present.

Finally, the film has probably some of the most spectacular action and set pieces displayed in a Star Wars film. Aside from the dazzling effects, the action scenes carry with them a crisp image with clear movement without throwing too many details into the viewers face at once. This is best expressed in the climatic showdown at the end of the film, where a land and space battle are both depicted, but both sides are shown to be interconnected in a race against time to grab the Death Star plans. As a result, the battle is intense and fast paced while throwing some creative moments in during the ride, which will leave those craving the action parts of the film very satisfied.

While a fun time to be had overall, the film does have some issues regarding character development, alongside a few questionable special effects amidst the otherwise all-star action. With the characters, while they are all fun and interesting, not all of them get development and some of them feel heavily underused. Jyn for example, has an interesting backstory and is appealing as a fighter, but sort of easily becomes a Rebel aside from a few small moments of resistance, which makes it feel rather rushed.

On the other hand, there are some characters who feel outright neglected. Forest Whitaker and Riz Ahmed’s Saw Gerrera and Bodhi Rook in particular suffer heavily from this, as both characters have really interesting backstories as a rebel extremist and a defected Imperial pilot with the jitters. Nonetheless, Saw has very little screen time and a comically over the top performance that feels out of place in the otherwise serious tone of the film, while Bodhi is mostly in the background, which feels like a tremendous waste of interesting story opportunities.

Aside from characterization problems, the film suffers from a fairly slow and confusing first act. Without the opening crawl traditional to the series, the film has a large amount of exposition given while jumping around from planet to planet. As a result, this can feel rather disorienting and will feel unfairly punishing to those that do not pay attention.

The biggest element of the movie that could throw off a viewer, however, is the computer animation used to revive the character of Grand Moff Tarkin, whose actor Peter Cushing had died over twenty years ago. While the effects are rather impressive, the fact it is still a different person having animation pasted over his face is still somewhat disconcerting and raises an ethical dilemma on whether or not dead actors should be revived. Consequently, the viewer may feel uneasy whenever Tarkin is on screen in an uncanny way the filmmakers probably did not intend to have happen.

Overall, the film does have some serious flaws that prevent it from being perfect or excellent, but is still highly serviceable as an above average time at the movies. The action is quite compelling and the characters are fun, if underdeveloped, while the events of the film will compel the viewer to consider watching Star Wars again. It’s not film of the year material, but it is a fun time to be had nonetheless and will hopefully leave the audience satisfied with their ticket purchases.

Film Review: The Secret Life of Pets

Animated adventure looks fun, but doesn’t break new ground for animation

Sam Thornley / Staff Writer

The Secret Life of Pets offers up the entertaining premise of what pets do when their human owners aren’t around. Unfortunately, while there is some fun to be had, the film never fully delivers on the potential it offers to the audience. Starring a voice cast that includes Louis C.K, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, and Jenny Slate, the animated film by Illumination Entertainment was released on July 8, 2016 and is due to hit home media platforms on December 6.

The film centers on a Jack Russel Terrier named Max, whose comfortable life is flipped on its head when his owner buys a mongrel named Duke. When the rivalry between the two causes them to get lost in New York City, they must work together alongside other pets from their neighborhood to return home while avoiding the deranged Snowball, a rabbit who leads an army of stray animals.

If there is one thing that stands above all else in this film, the animation is extremely well done. The fur on the animals pops out and the skyline of New York is very detailed and looks accurate. Additionally, there is a certain energy to the animation that is highlighted during the animals’ interactions with their environment and each other.

The voice cast of the film manages to do fine with the material they are given. Louis C.K. and Stonestreet manage to play off each other very well and are likeable in their performances as Max and Duke, which helps benefit the developing friendship between the dogs. Kevin Hart and Jenny Slate shine as the hyper actively psychotic Snowball and the fiercely determined Gidget, who stops at nothing to find Max and express her feelings for him.

The humor is hit or miss, ranging from being clever to other times juvenile and crude. This is best demonstrated in the animal personalities playing off stereotyped behaviors such as the dogs finding sausage hallucinogenic, or even defying them in the case of Snowball and his violent antics. The mix and match of different behaviors manages to make the animals enjoyable in their shenanigans as they exhibit more common animal behaviors while having the added of humor of talking as they do so.

On the other side of the coin, the biggest pitfall of the film lies with its over reliance on crude humor and slapstick. Several instances of the film revolve around the animals attacking each other or being hyperactive, which causes an excess of energy and eventually gets irritating. Additionally, there are more jokes revolving around animals and their bodily functions than adult would be comfortable with, which ends up making the humor fall flat and seem rather childish.

The Secret Life of Pets also suffers from the pitfall of not doing much to expand on the theme of talking animals that other films have not done in a meaningful manner.  While the animals do act like animals, this largely serves the purpose of just being the set up for jokes and the ability to speak is just an added gimmick. Additionally, not much is done to expand on the possibility of humans and animals interacting, as the animals are largely on their own for most of the film.

Finally, the plot of the film is rather basic and is nothing that will surprise the viewer, as the idea of two rivals becoming friends through a journey has been done by many animated and live-action films alike. Therefore, it just comes across as a repeat of what other films have done and feels rather stale with nothing new to offer besides some animal jokes. Not helping matters is that the film brings up a subplot revolving around abandoned pets seeking revenge on humans for neglecting them, but instead treats it as a side joke rather than turning it into a conflict that could flesh out the characters.

Most glaring of all, the film lacks character development for its animal stars with the exception of Max and Duke. The animals don’t get any real challenges to their character and remain pretty similar in personality throughout, lacking any sort of growth or change. Even Duke and Max’s developing friendship is fairly superficial, as it isn’t any more complicated than a typical enemies become friends type of development.

Overall, The Secret Life of Pets has some occasionally good jokes along with good voice actors and animation, but not much substance. Considering animated films have shown they are capable of much more than just being distractions for kids, it feels all the more disappointing. The film will kill some time for an hour and a half, but ultimately there are much better films to spend time watching instead.

“The Double Bind” – A Night of One Act Performances

Marisa Cardin/Senior Staff Writer

For years, Western has been offering a directing class in which students have the opportunity to direct short plays casted by other Western students. It has been extremely helpful to Theatre students trying to gain experience as both actors and directors, hoping to work in theatre companies after graduation.

This year, there were four one-act plays. As an attempt to understand what goes into these individual plays, Top interviewed a senior in the program:

TOP: What has been the most challenging thing as a director for the one acts?

Brittney Pearson, a director of the one act Superheroes Anonymous, explained that “The toughest part (of being a director) is giving your cast the time they need to really find their characters. The time period to develop these plays is relatively short, and there is so much going on because all of us are students,” she said. “As a director, you want each person to really become their character and thrive, but you’re also on a time crunch.” Auditions were held for “The Double Bind” a few weeks before Thanksgiving break, and actors and directors alike have been working hard to make sure that their shows are as perfect as possible.

TOP: What is the most rewarding aspect of directing?

Pearson responded: “The best part is watching other students grow as actors. It’s amazing to go from one rehearsal to the next and see how each person develops. You can see them coming out of their shells and really becoming amazing actors!”

TOP:  What, if anything, inspired you to direct instead of act/tech/etc? What made you choose to direct your individual shows?

Pearson said: “Well, to be, honest this is a required course for graduation, but I really think we need it! I am normally in the role of technician, and it is really interesting to change it up. I think it is vital for everyone in theatre to understand the roles of other people in the company. It has really given me a new appreciation for what I’ve seen other directors do in past productions at Western,” she said. “I chose Superheroes Anonymous because it was just too wild not too! The entire premise is wacky, and it really makes me think about what would have happened if my childhood dream of being a superhero actually came true.” Her show centered around old, out-of-work-superheroes just trying to find themselves again. It was one of two comedies presented during “The Double Bind”,  the other being Scales, directed by Bella Lewis.

TOP: What do you hope Western students to gain from seeing “The Double Bind”?

  “I hope they leave “The Double Bind” thinking: wow, I think I could do that.! “The Double Bind” is done entirely by students, which means with the right training and support, anyone can do it. I hope that by seeing these productions they are inspired to try something new, if not in theater, then in some other avenue of their life,” Pearson said.

Truly, the theatre department of Western had a wonderful time preparing and performing “The Double Bind.” Top can’t wait until their next show!

Assassins by Stephen Sondheim

Cast and Crew Had a Total “Blast”!

Marisa Cardin / Senior Staff Writer

Peak Productions wrapped it’s most recent show, Assassins, by Stephen Sondheim, on Sunday, Oct. 23. With a cast and crew of almost thirty people, this show sure was a sight to see, with warnings of live gunfire, strobe lights, and fog machines. The story takes place in a range of different years, telling the stories of all the successful (and unsuccessful) assassinations of US presidents. It included a cast of almost 25 people, as well as a running crew of about 15. It was a huge uptaking, seeing as Western hasn’t done a musical for over five years, since “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”.

Throughout the rehearsal process for Assassins, Top interviewed several different key members of the crew in order to see what it was like putting the show together. Top asked the crew what “the most challenging part of being involved with Assassins was.” Lauren Ryals, who works at the Crested Butte Community School, was the music director of the show. Ryals helped students learn to sing their parts (often extremely challenging, with overlapping melodies and harmonies throughout each piece). She responded, “The most challenging part of being involved with Assassins was accepting that we were ending the show! The prep and show cycle flew by!” Western students and faculty had little over two months to prepare for the opening night of the show, and the process was made an even bigger challenge due to the demanding size of the show in relation to the somewhat smaller size of Western.

Graeme Duke played the character Leon Czolgosz, a former steelworker who assassinated President William McKinley. He said, “The most challenging thing about being in Assassins was wrapping my head around the challenging music involved in the show. Stephen Sondheim is clearly a musical genius, known for shows like Sweeney Todd, but his songs are very complicated to sing,” Duke explained. “So doing his music justice was a huge challenge.” Students involved in big (or small) musical numbers worked with Ryals even outside of rehearsal, in order to make time to understand Sondheim’s work.

“In the end, it sure paid off!” Kathryn Tech, the costume designer, said. “The most challenging part was definitely making sure every cast member was accurately represented by their costume, and making sure each one was unique to the character.” With most of the characters in Assassins being actual, historical people, it was easy enough for the costume designers and director to get a basic idea of the costume, based on pictures of the people; it was the extra touch of Western, however, that made the costumes so original. Top asked the crew members what “the most rewarding part of being involved with Assassins was.” Ryals said that “the most rewarding part of being in Assassins was watching everyone grow and mature into their characters. It was a magical experience.”

This being said, it is important to remember that the characters on stage were real people, often times outrageously different from the characters the actors are portraying; it takes a lot of talent to so easily “flip the switch”. Tech said that the most rewarding part of this production was “getting to see it all come together. My favorite is the “trio from Hell,” Bella Lewis, Sean Coughlin, and Skyler (???).” The “trio from Hell” played the antagonists in the musical, and were all appropriately adorned with black and red costumes, fancier than any of the other actors on stage. “They have some of the most intensive costumes,” said Tech. “And some of them have multiple quick changes, but seeing the three of them together on stage makes all that work worth it.” Duke said that “the most rewarding part of the show was seeing opening night from the wings of the theatre. After all the hard work this whole case put into the show, seeing our first audience’s positive reactions to our efforts made it all worth it.”

These answers speak for themselves; after months of preparation, it is seriously rewarding for the cast and crew to have so many people enjoy the production. Top asked the crew what they hope for Western to gain after seeing Assassins. “I hope more people are willing to give theatre a try, to see what it’s like working as an actress or actor, and to see the mechanics of backstage,” said Tech. “It’s really fascinating to see, and a thrill to be a part of.” Truly, throughout the entire process of the show, actors and crew members alike were challenged to bring something so big together in so short a time, but that was what turned out to be the most rewarding part of it.

In true nature to the current political climate, Ryals said, “Western should understand it’s all about perspective when picking a political party, choosing someone to love or hate, and beyond.” The point of Assassins was not necessarily to advertise the strength that could come from assassinating a world leader, but more the strength that comes from fully supporting your ideas. “The main thing I hope Western Gains from this show is a new appreciation for the craft of theatre. Coming from someone who never did theatre before college, this art form has become one of my greatest passions in life,” Duke answered. “Every aspect put forth in its craft, from the acting, lighting designs, music, set design…once they’re all put together in front of a live audience, it becomes one of the purest forms of entertainment we have. At the end of the day, our job is to entertain people, and I hope everyone in our community continues to come out and support us moving forward.” Top also asked the crew to summarize the experience of Assassins in one word. Tech said: “Formidable. There are few things that are as hard or enjoyable than theatre to me. Things can go wrong, but things can give you goose bumps when they end up perfect – so you strive for the best.” That is why live theatre is so magical; there are no repeats, no calls for line, no second chances throughout the evening’s performance of the show.

Theatre requires a tremendous amount of dedication, focus, and love of the art in order for the show to truly go on. When asked this same question, Duke immediately responded with, “Rewarding. I have only been in one musical before Assassins, and getting back into it as someone who is insecure about his singing voice was a great experience from beginning to end. Every opportunity I have had here at Peak Productions has given me more experience and love for theatre, and I hope to continue all of that until I graduate.” When asked this question, Ryals said, “Magical, because of the many amazing people that worked together to bring the musical to life.” Regardless of if the audience sees them on stage, there is a great amount of work that goes into making a show possible.

Assassins will go down in history as yet another successful show here at Western, with nearly all of it’s evening performances sold out. If you’re interested in seeing the next show, join Peak Productions on December 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the Studio Theatre for an evening of Student Directed and Student Written plays! All four plays will run back to back, and are about ten minutes long. See you there! Event Announcement: Word Horde’s Poetry Slam Competition.

Film Review: The Magnificent Seven

Film provides action and characters, but is lacking polish needed for long-term appeal.

Sam Thornley / Staff Writer

the-magnificent-seven-international-poster-2

The Magnificent Seven proposes an amazing adventure with unforgettable characters, but is ironically nothing special. A reimagination of the classic 1960 Western of the same name, the film stars an ensemble cast that includes Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Haley Bennett. The film is directed by Antoine Fuqua and was released on September 23, 2016.

Set in 1879 during the Wild West, a California mining town is terrorized by corrupt industrialist Bartholomew Bogue and his gang of hitmen. Angered after a raid claims her husband, townswoman Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) recruits a band of seven outlaws from varying backgrounds to train the town’s civilians and drive out the bandits.

Among its strengths, The Magnificent Seven manages to provide some decent characterization to its titular seven heroes and makes them all distinct in appearance in and personality. From Denzel Washington’s stone cold bounty hunter to Chris Pratt’s charming trickster Josh, all of the seven are a unique and colorful bunch that are fun to watch together. While this characterization is nothing more than surface level archetypical behavior, the viewer is never confused as to which character is which during the run time.

In addition, while nothing spectacular, the actors do a commendable job in their roles. Denzel Washington comes across as convincing in his role as hardened bounty hunter Sam, while Chris Pratt is simultaneously charming and funny. In addition, Vincent D’Onofrio plays an over the top, but endearing role as wild man Jack Horne, and Byung-hun Lee steals the show through the fighting prowess of Billy. In fact, the actors and their talent assembled together is good enough that one might be convinced they are too good for this sort of film.

If there is one thing the film does right, it’s the action scenes the Magnificent Seven get into. Gunshots rebound and spread all over the place as the characters fight to survive, along with a healthy dose of dirty fighting that allows the fights to switch from gun duels to brawling at will. The added creativity, combined with the steady and focused camera work, make for some entertaining sequences that will catch the audience’s attention.

While these sequences and characters provide a great foundation to build on, The Magnificent Seven does not do much with its interesting characters. Notably, Haley Bennett’s Emma has the potential to have an engaging character arc rivaling the presence of the band of heroes, but largely stays out of focus once they arrive. Considering the Seven are assembled based on her desire for revenge, it seems like the movie forgets why she was even there until the climax requires her to battle the bandits alongside the band of heroes.

Another issue is that aside from the battle with the bandits, the Seven do not face any real hardships or developments that force them to change in character. Rather, they get along rather well with everyone and have no dark secrets or traits that could make them distrust each other or make them consider not helping the mining town. Considering the diverse heroes include an African American bounty hunter, an exiled Comanche warrior, a Mexican bandit and an ex-Confederate soldier to name a few, the film could have gotten more mileage by having the heroes be in conflict with each other over their differing backgrounds.

Finally, the film plays rather too close to traditional Western and action conventions to be its own thing. The plot is little more than the same basic steps followed by the original Magnificent Seven, to the point that some dialogue matches up. On top of it, the film contains the old familiar ride off into the sunset and a rather one-dimensional evil villain too common among formulaic action films.

Overall, The Magnificent Seven isn’t quite as magnificent as its title suggests. It’s too formulaic and suffers narrative problems while simultaneously offering some fun action moments. It’s not terrible, but not outstanding either. It is the type of film that will be good for a single viewing, but not strong enough to engage viewers on repeat viewings.

Social Media Is Winning This Election

Robin Butler / Staff Writer

Social Medias are Heating up Politically in this Election

Every time I go on facebook and scroll through my news feed I am confronted by a plethora of political information. It is that time of year after all, and if I thought a year ago that Facebook and other social medias were heating up politically, I had no idea the firestorm that was to come. 

Facebook in particular has come incredibly far since its introduction to the public in 2005. What was once simply another tool for connecting has become one of the strongest and most influential news outlets on the internet. Its ease of access and abundance of information has created a direct outlet for politicians to reach potential voters whether they are young, old, liberal, conservative, educated, or uneducated. Hundreds of thousands – even millions of people that typically would stay as far away from politics as possible, are forced into the fray with frequent videos and opinion pieces supporting or speaking out against various candidates. 

The king of this platform is the tv celebrity and businessman Donald Trump. From the beginning of his campaign, Trump and his campaign team knew they didn’t have to beat out other republican nominees by much, so establishing a strong online presence was a must. Donald trump currently has 12.6 million followers on twitter and these aren’t necessarily just Trump supporters. In addition to these twitter followers, every news outlet that likes a good story has paid close attention to Donald Trump on Twitter because of just how intense some of his posts seem to be. Put simply, Donald Trump has gained support and followers because he has an entertaining social media presence.  

Hillary Clinton has never reached the level of buzzworthy appearance on social media, but her supporters have taken it upon them to help her out on this front. Ten minutes scrolling through a democrat’s Facebook page will find you countless videos and articles, not necessarily approved by Clinton, but none the less coming to her aid in this election.  

The most fascinating part about the influence of social media in politics is the absolute power of confirmation bias. The way Facebook, for example, works is that every time you click on something a friend or a page you follow shares, it remembers. The more you click, the more it remembers. Facebook’s nature as a business makes sure that every one of its users has the most pleasurable experience as possible while browsing content.

This means that once Facebook has collected enough information on your preferences (not just political) it can start tailoring your news feed to fit those preferences. My facebook feed is drastically different than my girlfriend’s facebook feed even though our political affiliations are moderate left and moderate right respectively. Facebook will inherently only show you information that it thinks you want to see. This means that if you are a Hillary supporter you will almost exclusively be shown pro Hillary and anti Trump posts. If you are a Trump supporter you will see the opposite. 

This format is dangerous. When you have millions upon millions of relatively uneducated potential voters being hit with one opinion piece after another, the value of american politics diminishes. It becomes a war of who can reach technologically tethered voters better and who can send out the most propaganda regardless if the information provided is true or not.  

A popular type of video in the last few months are those that show clips of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton saying something and then a clip of them years earlier saying the opposite. These videos call the targeted candidate liars and cheats, which regardless of being true or false, is agreed upon by viewers. Both videos are reaching the exact same point, except on two completely different candidates. But people never see the other side, they never see that the creators of these videos are aware of their counterparts and are only looking for views. Potential voters take these videos as fact and that drastically affects how they think. Having this kind of false information so heavily advertised limits the effectiveness of truth and reason in the world of modern US politics. 

It is shocking to see how both parties are manipulating the minds of potential voters, and this caused me to adjust how I see things. As a liberal, my Facebook feed was exclusively pro Hillary, anti Trump… until recently. I was so sick of seeing one side of the picture that I actually went to a friends Facebook page (who is a Trump supporter), looked at the conservative facebook pages that he follows, and I followed them. I was tired of getting only one perspective and I did something about it. Now I am able to see a mixed bag of political information that will help me make a more educated choice on Nov. 8. 

Unfortunately not everyone is as open-minded, and many people, if not most, only want to see the information that they agree with. In 2008 Obama’s election was dubbed the “Facebook Election” because of Facebook’s influence on the outcome. Facebook and other social medias such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter have only grown in the last eight years and will likely continue to grow in the coming years. Their heavy influence in United States politics could bring the end of educated, unbiased voting. 

Western Welcomes Prospective Students

The first Preview Day of the semester showed students the Western Value

Bethany Eveleth / Staff Writer

Friday, Oct. 7 brought 130 prospective students from all over the state, and country, to Western’s campus for an all day event dedicated to educating future students about everything Western has to offer, as well as how to approach applying to and entering college life. This event is known as Preview Day.

The event started at 10am, where students were able to attend the Program Fair, which gave them the opportunity to talk to representatives of most of the campus programs, and understand what many of the majors on campus entail. Following the hour long fair in the Mountaineer Field House, families and students were directed to the University Center (UC), where they spent much of their day. Students attended open question and answer sessions as well as activities, while parents attended talks that provided an overview of the application process, financial aid applications, and more. Participants also get the opportunity to take a campus tour led by a Western student ambassador. The tours were split up into the various majors Western has to offer, many of them led by students who are involved in that particular area of study.

“I enjoyed [Preview Day] a lot. It is really cool to see how the environment and community here are,” said Elizabeth Posavad, a junior attending Legend High School in Parker, CO. “Everyone is really friendly, which is intriguing to me, because I’m from a bigger environment, which can be not so friendly.” Posavad went on the Recreation and Outdoor education tour with her mom and dad, and is looking forward to studying many things in college.

Aside from being a great way to spend the day at Western as well as hear from many of the different facets the university has to offer, Preview Day comes with some really unique perks. In the past, Western has offered free shuttles from Colorado Springs and Denver to give interested students and families a more accessible way to journey from the front range to the valley. For this Preview Day, Western was able to collaborate with some of the hotels in town to offer families a complimentary one night stay. One lucky student won tickets to the Broncos vs. Chiefs game on November 27. The tickets were a part of a ticket drawing that all attendees were entered to win.

Student ambassadors help to prepare the campus for visitors. Present for all of Preview Day, they offer prospective students first hand insight about anything they may be wondering about, and take students and their families on the tour that occurs in the afternoon.

“Preview Day is so much fun! It’s a great experience for students who are looking to come to Western to see what we are all about,” said Carly Zimmerman, a junior here at Western. “We get to show them a little snippet of the Western value.”

At the forefront of planning is Western’s Campus Visit Coordinator, Alyssa Magalong. Magalong is a recent Western graduate, and returned to fill the spot this summer.

“This Preview Day was my first one, and I could not have asked for a more supportive and collaborative team,” said Magalong. “I think the success of our Preview Days is from the collaboration.”

As a new graduate, Magalong also loves offering prospective students and their families a fresh perspective of what student life is like. There are three more Preview Days on the calendar for the year, each offering different opportunities to help prospective students experience Western and the surrounding community.