CHARLES AZNAVOUR: 1924-2018

Charles Aznavour (Shahnour Vaghinag Aznavourian), the Paris-born Armenian singer-songwriter, actor, and diplomat, who was known as “France’s Frank Sinatra”, died this month, on October 1st, 2018.

Born in 1924 to Armenian immigrants who’d fled to France amid Turkey’s perpetration of ethnic cleansing and genocide against Armenians in the early 20thcentury, Aznavour was raised by a family of artists. His father was a singer, performing in French restaurants prior to opening his own.

Aznavour dropped out of school at a young age of nine to pursue his career as an entertainer — before his 10th birthday, he’d already starred in a movie and a theater production. Despite his young age, Aznavour insisted that he was never pressured or forced to become a performer. To him, it was a natural calling. “People say that they put me on the stage, but I put myself there. It was natural. It was what I wanted to do.” 

Aznavour later shifted his focus to professional dancing. He didn’t write his first song until the age of 24 in 1950.

He got his big break when he began opening for the legendary French singer, Edith Piaf. After his distinctive rich, mellow voice caught her attention, Piaf took Aznavour under her wing, mentoring the young virtuoso. Piaf advised Aznavour to pursue a singing career.

Aznavour went on to command a career lasting 80 years. He wrote a whopping 1000 songs, sold 180 million albums, and dazzled audiences in sold-out auditoriums well into his 90’s. He sang in an astounding 8 different languages: French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Armenian, and Neapolitan.

Aznavour’s music knew no boundaries, touching upon an eclectic range of themes.

He wrote songs that by any standard were ahead of their time. In “What Makes a Man” (1972), Aznavour sang about a gay transvestite. The lyrics are overall great but especially outstanding are the lines, “Nobody has the right to be; the judge of what is right for me; tell me if you can; what make a man a man.”

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REVIEW: STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI

In George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy, fans were immersed in a vast and uncharted universe rife with relics of the late Jedi order. The first film, “A New Hope,” introduced and set the stage for the main protagonists and antagonists with drips of detail to induce intrigue and wonder in the audience. Following sequels provided sustenance for fans’ fervor, delving deeper into the characters and connecting storylines.

With 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” Disney played it safe. Director JJ Abrams effectively stuck to the same script (almost literally) as “A New Hope,” and the film was highly enjoyable – discounting its lack of original storytelling, and the fact that our hero Luke Skywalker had been reduced to retirement in what could only be described as the Florida of the vast Star Wars universe.

Now on to “Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.” Before I go any further, the review will contain major spoilers. There was a slew of weaknesses in the plot (and this is aside from the fact that the movie felt drudgingly dragged out at times) that can’t be pointed out without giving anything away. But don’t be disparaged, I’m saving you from having to sit through a 152-minute long mess.

Spoilers Ahead!

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REVIEW: The Promise: A Powerful, Memorable Film

With “The Promise,” filmmaker Terry George, known for his 2004 Oscar-nominated “Hotel Rwanda,” set out to tell the story of 20th century’s first genocide.

Following the timeline of events that led to the Ottoman Empire’s perpetration of genocide against the Armenian population in 1915, the plot is centered around a love triangle between an Armenian student named Mikael Boghosian (played by Oscar Isaac), an Armenian from Paris named Ana Khesarian (played by Charlotte Le Bon) and an American reporter named Chris Myers (played superbly by Christian Bale).

Leaving his small Armenian village in the Ottoman Empire, Boghosian travels to the Turkish capital Constantinople to study medicine.

The film depicts Turkish-Armenian relations at a high point (“high” is meant in the vaguest sense). Many Turks still held venomously racist views towards Armenians, but they went to the same universities, lived in the same cities and shopped in the same markets (when walking through the market, a Turk exclaimed to him, “that Armenian pig will rip you off.”)

Shortly after, as the Ottoman Empire entered the First World War, Turkish aggression against the Armenian population became a mainstay of government policy. This film portrayed this accurately, as the blueprints for Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich soon spread to every village in the Ottoman Empire.

Turkish officers began rounding up Armenian intellectuals and businesspersons, executing them on a whim. Boghosian was yanked out of medical school and sent to a labor camp where he was effectively starved, and made to work while awaiting execution.

Miraculously, Boghosian escaped. Following his harrowing journey back to his home village in an attempt to save his family, the film vividly portrays the horrors of the Armenian genocide. From cargo trains packed full of prisoners, to their coerced death march through the desert where they were executed.

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REVIEW: ‘Rogue One’ Is Far More Conservative Than Liberal

It’s here! Rogue One is the new Star Wars movie you’ve been longing for since Return of the Jedi. This is truly the prequel fans of the series deserve.

Albeit still a great movie, last year’s Star Wars: Force Awakens was effectively a shot-for-shot remake of A New Hope. Where Force Awakens fell short on originality, Rogue One more than makes up.

I will keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, giving nothing significant away that’s not in the trailer.

Rogue One takes place just before Episode IV, A New Hope and after Episode III, Revenge of the Sith.

The plot centers around The Rebel Alliance, a coalition of tribes across the galaxy who’ve banded together in the face of the tyrannical, oppressive Galactic Empire and its expansionist ambitions.

With their very own Igor Kurchatov, the Galactic Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star is nearly complete. Capable of destroying entire planets, the weapon poses an existential threat to the Empire’s dissidents.

And so, the Rebel Alliance forms a special team to track down and retrieve the Death Star’s blueprints to find a weakness in the superweapon and give the Rebellion a fighting chance.

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Two Reasons Why Zootopia is Dangerous Propaganda

Two Reasons Why Zootopia is Dangerous Propaganda

Written by Kelly Campagna

My siblings told me it was a cute, fun movie that they thought I would like, and since I’d had no previous exposure to it outside of a poster I thought I would give it a try. I’m sorry to say I was very disturbed the blatant political messaging being promoted in a movie targeting children–indeed this movie promotes a dangerous form of propaganda on two major counts.

  1. It conveys a deeply racist underlying theme.

That’s right, from the company that said portraying slaves on a plantation in Song of the South was too racist, Disney portrays predators as a restrained evil that is predisposed to abuse the non-predatory animals who are considered the oppressed. In the movie, predators must be kept away from certain plants that could cause them to revert back to the dangerous, oppressive animals that they biologically are. This is similar to the real world, where the left tries to promote the notion that white, European members of the capitalist society are predisposed to oppress minorities in Western countries and therefore must atone for this predisposition by making concessions to minorities–special programs, affirmative action, apology tours. These anthropomorphic creatures provide commentary on humanity, indicating that certain groups of human beings are biologically predisposed to oppress others. This is gross and disgusting racism at its finest, perpetuated by a leftist agenda that seeks to indoctrinate kids at a young age into thinking its ok.

Proponents of Zootopia will point out that at the end of the movie one of the “oppressed” characters–a sheep to be precise–uses the plant to frame the predatory animals as being dangerous, portraying an imperfect and, dare I say, sinful member of the oppressed. They also will point out that the hero of the movie discovers that non-predators are also capable of devolving into non-anthropomorphic animals, dissuading many adults from accusing the movie of bigotry since the ending allegedly made an attempt at achieving balance. The problem with these arguments is that both of these revelations occur at the end of the movie and are largely underdeveloped. After over an hour of the notion of predisposed bigotry being pumped into the audience, it’s difficult to come away from the movie without some of that ideology rubbing off. Think that the messaging will go over the audience’s head? Then how on earth will they understand the small, allegedly balanced take on the situation in the last 15 minutes?

  1. It portrays Christians as right-wing bigots with closed minds and complacent attitudes.

This is the part that is so personally offensive to me–the idea that of all people Christians are the ones that are closed minded and predisposed to bigotry. Near the beginning of the movie there is a scene in which elephants running an ice cream shop refuse service to foxes due to their bigotry regarding the foxes’ lifestyle. It is willful ignorance for an audience member to come away from that scene without connecting it to real-life scenarios where Christians have to refuse to cater or photograph gay weddings or be in violation of their faith. This pushes the idea in front of children that people who refuse service to customers due to their lifestyle are evil. As those children get older and see that there are people who refuse service to customers asking them to violate their faith, they will remember the teachings of this movie, and logically side against people of faith.

How did I know any of the characters were Christian or right-wing? This is where more bigoted stereotyping comes in–Southern accents, traditional family structures, and especially the mention of “speaking in tongues” which is a specific reference to the Pentecostal denomination of Christianity. The hero’s parents tell her that they needed to open their minds to other people with different lifestyles and that they changed from their “backward” ways by following her example. These are typical Hollywood stereotypes drawn from movies like Footloose that push the false impression that the average Christian is a hick from the 1800s looking to ruin your good time.

I could tell you about just how false this stereotype of Christians is–how Christians have historically been the group at the forefront fighting against slavery, against Jim Crow, against tyranny, and against bigotry. However, it is more important for Christians in particular to realize that this idea that we must atone for society’s past failures by providing government niceties to minorities–the hero became a police officer via the government Mammal Inclusion Initiative–is profoundly anti-Christian. No one can atone for their forefathers’ sins or even their own sins without the blood of Jesus Christ, yet I’m hearing Christians buy into the leftist moral posturing that is falsely critical of crimes Christians did and do not commit. Certainly Christians are not perfect, but we cannot  make ourselves atoned from our sins by bowing to the agenda of moral relativism and should not be promoting this ideology to our children.

Conclusion

Propaganda has a profound effect on society when it is targeted at children; political messaging wrapping in bright colors and fluffy bunnies. Whether it is in extreme cases as in Hilter’s indoctrination of German youth or in the political programming provided by Hollywood, children imitate the behavior that they see on T.V. and in movies and apply it to their lives when they are older. If this were not the case, why put a political message in a children’s movie at all? If the messaging really did go over their heads it would be a waste of a message in a useless medium. This is why the left quietly inserts gay and lesbian characters into children’s movies like Frozen and Finding Dory. It’s why gay history is now being taught to kindergartners in California schools. Children today will dictate what society is tomorrow based on what they are taught when they are young, which is why I would never allow children that I might be responsible for to watch Zootopia.

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