November 9, 2023 | ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT | By Charlotte Maley

Fall Break is approaching, meaning many of us will have some much-needed free time for the first time in months. Filling this time with stimulating activities when you’ve been inundated with difficult academic material for three Blocks straight can be tough, but I’m no stranger to needing a nice lobotomy-equivalent through extreme amounts of media consumption during the rare break. So, I have some great suggestions for you.

My first recommendation, of course, is to take a trip back in time to rewatch, or better yet, view for the first time, the Harry Potter film series. All eight movies have a particularly cozy feel to them which nestles perfectly between a spooky Halloween season and the quaint but joyous winter holidays.

Each film not only offers its audience incredible cinematography, musical underscoring, and storytelling, but pertinent moral lessons and impeccable metaphors. If you are someone who is cautious about watching the Harry Potter films in light of J.K. Rowling’s social cancellation, then I highly recommend listening to the podcast, “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling,” by The Free Press. The podcast follows Rowling’s rise and fall, and even includes exclusive interviews with Rowling herself.

Additionally, the YouTube channel “ContraPoints,” hosted by Natalie Wynn, has an incredible two-hour-long (perfect amount of time for your flight back home) video essay on the history of Terfdom. Regardless of the form, I highly recommend making Harry Potter a part of your much deserved break.

My next suggestion is for those of us who prefer to cuddle up with a good book rather than indulge in a film series. Just last week, I read “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” by Patrick Suskind. The book instantly became one of my favorite novels of all time. Set in eighteenth century France, “Perfume” follows a young man with an otherworldly sense of smell as he navigates an unusual world.

Not only is this book addictive, but it introduces its readers to an entirely new world: the endless realm of smells and scents that we scarcely pay attention to. Although the English novel is only a translation from the original, which was in German, I find it hard to believe that it lost any of its original magic. “Perfume” is a truly unique work that is worth every bit of your sacred week and a half off from school.

If you are someone who can’t let go of spooky season just yet, then I have the perfect podcast recommendation for you. The hilarious and wildly intelligent Julia Hava and Eliza McLamb, the hosts of the podcast show Binchtopia, recently released two episodes on the complex history of two scary characters: vampires and witches.

The first one, entitled “Eerie Episode: Vampires, Twihards and The Gothic,” traces the history of vampires all the way from its inception as a monster back in Medieval Europe, to the teen girl vampire craze of the 2000s, which resulted in some of the most popular franchises of all time, such as “Twilight,” “True Blood” and “The Vampire Diaries.”

The second episode, called “Eerie Episode: We Are The Witches you Couldn’t Cancel,” digs deep into the Salem Witch Trials and the glorification of witchcraft today. Both episodes offer profound insights into these two phenomena and are the perfect downloads for a plane ride to or from school.

My last recommendation is for those of us who like to spend any spare time catching up on the latest pop culture news. I’m not a huge fan of the true crime documentaries which are vomited up by streaming platforms far too quickly after the stories come out. But I do think everyone should watch “Depp v. Heard,”which is a short docuseries on Netflix that follows the infamous defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.

This series is not only entertaining and made with incredible ability to keep my worse than terrible attention span, but it also did such great due diligence on giving both sides of the debate a run for their money. If anything, I thought they did incredible work to undo some of the harm perpetuated against Amber Heard during the trial.

This documentary really cleared up a lot of my misconceptions and strait up ignorance which I had regarding the situation between these two celebrities, and it really painted a picture of how popular culture was made to react to the situation in the way it did. It is not only a deep look into a particular Me Too, he-said-she-said case, but an astute commentary on broader society.

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