Mr. Stanley, Tear Down The Frats

Congratulations for making it this far into the year, Spartans! And double congratulations to the upperclassmen and freshmen savvy enough to grab a last-second sublease. When Mister Doctor Professor Samuel Leonard Stanley Jr. M.D. canceled in-person classes and sent home most on-campus students, our lingering hope of a somewhat normal semester was finally put to rest. However, one campus institution won’t be going anywhere: fraternities and sororities.

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Education Apps are a Disease

Going into my freshman year at MSU, I thought I was aware of all the ways that colleges can take extra money on top of tuition. Textbooks? I rented them, unless I was forced to buy a new edition. Blue Books? Bummed them from my friends or Student Services. I was going to be the one college student who was Aware of the System.

Then the education technology showed up.

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Renee Richer Wants To Bring Science, Maturity To The State House

Back in April, we featured Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain), representative for Michigan’s 108th state House district, in an article entitled “The Weirdest Guy In The House.” We expected the article to reach our normal audience of bored James Madison students at MSU. Instead, it reached LaFave himself, who posted about it several times to prove that he was not mad and even selectively quoted it in his Twitter bio as if it was not an article making fun of him. 

This sort of childish behavior is something you expect from say, a student blog, not an elected official. Fortunately, voters in District 108 have a much better choice. We had the honor to sit down over Zoom with Dr. Renee Richer (D-Gladstone), the candidate running against him this November, and we’re proud to say that we came away with a better understanding of what a good representative for the district sounds like.

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There Goes The Last Great American Late Night

After Mr. Dr. President Sir Samuel L. Stanley Jr MD, DDS, Esq.’s decision to kick MSU online this fall, we’re all still dealing with the fallout. Off-campus apartments have been swarmed with freshmen who desperately want to socialize after five months of being trapped in their homes with their parents. I can’t say I blame them.

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The Day Dantonio Disappeared

In the year of our lord 2015, Mark Dantonio and his Michigan State Spartans had their final truly great season together (2017 was a good year for MSU too, but we’ll get to that later). These Spartans went 11-1 in the regular season, losing only to unranked Nebraska and securing the win against the hated Michigan Wolverines off of some infamous trouble with the snap.

After plowing through the rest of their schedule and defeating Iowa in the Big Ten championship match, the Spartans were ranked no. 3. On December 31st, these Spartans, with the collective momentum of a near-perfect season and the wind at their backs, faced off with the Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff.  

And they got broken in half, 38-0.

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The Two Hundred Million Dollar Man

On October 11, 2019, I was walking back from a regrettable purchase at The Rally House when my phone buzzed. I checked it and saw that The Evening Look had received a message through our contact form. At that point, we had been growing for nine months, so receiving an email was far from unusual. What was unusual was who sent it: Corey Washington, Director of Analytics at MSU’s Office of Research and Innovation. He wanted to invite us onto Manifold, a podcast he co-hosted with then-Vice President for Research and Innovation Stephen Hsu. Washington and Hsu were interested in how the “campus culture wars” of recent years have manifested in recent years and thought we could offer some valuable insight. L. Squirrel and I accepted this invitation, and our interview, recorded on October 15, was featured as part of a “bonus” episode of Manifold along with a separate interview they conducted with Sergei and Derek of The Morning Watch.

As L. Squirrel and I sat for our interview (brutally cut for time because Washington and Hsu repeatedly got into debates amongst themselves), it was obvious to us that Hsu was the more conservative of the two, although much of what led us to that conclusion is missing from the published version of our conversation. However, we failed a spot check on Hsu’s exact beliefs. We failed to realize that an Academic Boomer like Hsu wouldn’t place wild takes on his barren Twitter, but instead that he’d do it old school. We’re talking Blogspot.com, baby!

Just over eight months later, MSU president Samuel Stanley requested Hsu’s resignation from his role at the OVPRI, which Hsu accepted with a little bit of grumbling. How did Hsu fall from successful podcast host and renowned research genius, known for securing $200 million more per year in research expenditures for MSU compared the amount before his tenure, to merely a tenured physics professor in that short span? 

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Abolish The Senate

You might know the House of Lords- I mean, the United States Senate, for currently being in recess despite not passing any COVID relief measures since March, for not impeaching the president earlier this year (yes, that really was just February), and for generally refusing to do anything of value. Sure, all of those things are Mitch McConnell’s fault, but it is also because the senate is a backwards, undemocratic dumpster fire. And it should be abolished.

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For Whom The Cube Freezes

Meltdown May passed us in name, but fear not: June brought a new cavalcade of embarrassing public spectacles for once-beloved public figures. But while JK Rowling burnt the rest of her goodwill away by tripling down on her transphobia, another man sought to co-opt the clout of the recent Black Lives Matter unrest to tarnish his reputation even further. That man happens to be Ice Cube, notorious rapper and kids’ movie actor. Ice Cube has never been a stranger to controversy in his rap career (in many cases for good), but lapsed into embarrassment during a moment where he couldn’t seem to put down his phone. Some of the stuff coming out of his feed was just kind of ridiculous: foot fetish content disguised as Black Israelite imagery, claims that Olmec stone heads labeled “Olmec Statue” originate from Ethiopia, false claims that the Simpsons predicted Trump, and images of Trump in Joker paint (as well as some legitimately pointed political imagery, to be fair). The final nail in the coffin, however, came when Ice Cube cited an antisemitic (and frighteningly obtuse) simulation theory involving Zionist control of reality. The wounds are still fresh from the recent murders of George Floyd et al, and this provocation read as even more pathetic in that light.

Ice Cube isn’t the first public figure to use an activist pretense for grift or self-sabotage. Singer Erykah Badu disappointed many when she came out as an R. Kelly apologist, someone who had already attempted to co-opt black power imagery to defend against credible sexual assault and human trafficking allegations. The recent memory of many white celebrities not getting the hint from the ‘Imagine’ video and producing something even more embarrassing also illuminates a desire to suck up some of the movement’s oxygen. This isn’t just celebrities trying to performatively seize upon the movement’s popularity for woke points, either — it also has a lot to do with centrists trying to bend the movement towards them. This grift has even extended into the antiracism reading lists that are popular right now. Robin DiAngelo, the author of White Fragility, one of the most popular books among newly woke Twitter liberals, has used her clout to monetize diversity training (in deeply flawed models), something that’s bound to become an increasingly successful tactic in the near future. This isn’t so much a failing of the movement as much as an indication of the blatant cynicism of those who co-opt it for their own enrichment.

Likewise, it’s easy to form parasocial relationships with people who we perceive as activists. The Internet in late capitalism has erased many barriers between communication, which is undoubtedly a net good in countless social scenarios: There are examples, like rapper Noname’s online Book Club, of celebrities attempting to use their platforms to genuinely educate people. But for every one of these instances, there are several of public figures using their alignments for clout or worse. A good example of this cynical approach is writer Shaun King. King has often taken advantage of his position as a self-appointed leader of BLM to grift his way into a sea of consistently failing projects that have now jeopardized his goodwill with virtually all of his former allies. The most glaring example of this came with the collapse of his plan to rebuild Frederick Douglass’s North Star newspaper, which led to many funding concerns and outright lies about the treatment of employees. It’s now gotten so obvious that some of the biggest BLM advocacy networks have actively advised people not to donate to him.

Does that mean that there is no one in the movement to trust? Far from it. Across the country, BLM movements with boots on the ground have begun to form strong coalitions to bring home the goods. Using Detroit as an example, most of the actual work on the ground has been through organizations that organize over Facebook. Despite using an internet-based platform, it hasn’t devolved into performatism and has remained strictly rooted in the direct action that’s been going on in the street. It has leaders, but nothing close to self-declared ubermensch sucking away traffic from the core issues of the movement.

Dave Chappelle once struck a nerve by asking whether or not we really want to hear from Ja Rule in a time of crisis and unrest. In his recent YouTube special 8:46, he brought this back to specifically say that his voice does not matter in comparison to the masses in a world where every major city is in uproar. This isn’t to say that we should scorn solidarity from public figures – rather that we need to move beyond them. Whatever happens, in this movement or the next, it should happen with or without blue checks chiming in. 

Support Black Lives Matter here.

-L. Niño

Queer Eye for the GOP Guy

Sitting in my apartment during this pandemic has caused me to master a shameful lifestyle: watching hours of Netflix with an ever-refilling glass of rosé in hand and Keebler Elfwiches in my fabulous tummy.

Being someone who proudly identifies as “a little gay,” I found myself endlessly consuming one of my favorite shows: Queer Eye.

After this spring’s “Too Hot to Handle” craze, I found myself desiring something more sophisticated and far less straight. Although I spent plenty of time obsessing over Harry and Francesca’s delightfully high-cost dalliance, I found the show had too little actual sex appeal and too many British airheads. Queer Eye is a show dedicated to introducing schlubs to positive lifestyle changes which are acceptable by the standards of the bourgeoisie.

…So perfectly my style.

While binging Queer Eye, I had an epiphany: Conservative culture could really use a makeover. I am gonna give conservatives a good old-fashioned Queer Eye makeover in hopes of making them less cranky, angry, fearful, and racist! Otherwise it might be a little dangerous to introduce them to Karamo.

So here we go, my wonderful Muppets! Time to make Republicans young and old see how much they could improve their own self-worth through a few simple lifestyle changes!

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Send Home the Cops

“This week, rioters have plunged many American cities into anarchy, recalling the widespread violence of the 1960s,” wrote Sen. Tom Cotton. He’s right. These gangs have terrorized our citizens with violence, suppression of free speech, and have radicalized an entire generation against the police. The perpetrators? The police themselves. 

In the weeks following the tragic police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other African Americans this year, the police had one final chance to take a stand against racism and rampant abuse of power. I shouldn’t have been surprised with what happened next. 

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