2.5 Stars. Not all reviewers are made equal.

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Photo by Humble Lamb on Unsplash

Social media and aggregate review sites have changed the landscape of the arts. There’s already been a plethora of writing discussing the ways Rotten Tomatoes has ruined film, but today I’d like to take a bit of a turn to talk about a different review site — the Rotten Tomatoes of literature: Goodreads.

Goodreads started out as and still markets itself as an online community for readers to rate, review, discuss, and discover books. It’s accumulated hundreds of thousands of members, and anyone can leave a rating or a review for any book. There are no specific qualifications needed to…


Is it a moral obligation to de-platform bad people?

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I first came across the term ‘cancel culture’ in an article detailing the fallout over Kosoko Jackson’s A Place for Wolves and Amelie Wen Zhao’s Blood Heir — both young adult authors of colour who were accused of moral transgressions and problematic content in their respective works.

The concept of ‘cancelling’ a public figure is rooted in moral outrage towards that figure’s behaviour, beliefs, and/or the content they put out into the world. In the literary and publishing world, cancel culture is most prominently seen in young adult fiction, which for many has become a kind of moral mine field…


The answer may not be as simple as everyone thinks.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Recently, I’ve encountered a number of articles here on Medium discussing the use of the word cis to describe, in short, people who are not trans. There are some folks who believe the term cis is offensive because they argue it forces upon them a label they don’t necessarily want to accept. On the other hand, proponents of the term claim that it is by no means a label, but rather, a descriptor. The same way in which we use ‘trans’ to describe people who have a non-normative experience with gender, we use ‘cis’ to describe people who do.

As…


The problem isn’t what you eat, but the system that made it.

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Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash

Every so often, I have unfortunate encounters with people of immense privilege who take it upon themselves to enlighten me about saving the world. Generally, their approach involves blaming all the wrong people for our current, catastrophic state of affairs. Although I believe everyone has the right to ascribe to whatever nutritional regime they want, I have very little tolerance for the dogmatic undertakings of militant, dietary purists who seem unable to tease out the broader ramifications of their way of thinking.

One group that often manages to strike my ire is that of militant vegans. Although I have no…


An examination of how colonial discourse has shaped popular literature in North America.

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Photo by JR Korpa on Unsplash

A common question I get from literature students and avid readers alike is about the categorical difference between fantasy — particularly paranormal and urban fantasy — and magical realism. While I think there are some pretty good resources out there explaining the different qualities of each genre, what is less explored is the common perception of who writes which genre, where the genre originates from, and why this matters.

Fantasy vs Magical Realism

To start, I’d like to offer up a basic understanding of the differences between fantasy and magical realism. Consider fantasy to be a kind of parent genre; it’s a broad, umbrella…


How the unnecessary separation of student and employee status can destroy graduate students’ lives.

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Photo by Debora Bacheschi on Unsplash

When I was in the fifth year of my PhD program, I faced an unusual conundrum. Due to an administrative error, I was not registered as a student at my university, and due to my lack of student status, I no longer qualified for my teaching assistantship. Where I go to school, employee status is contingent on student status, and yet, the university has rigged the system in one exceptionally frustrating way: for every graduate student, employee status and student status are considered separate.

Now, this might seem harmless, or perhaps even logical, but its implications are in fact quite…


Avoiding voyeurism in the well-intended quest for diversity can be challenging.

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

This month, I’ve decided to participate in DVPit, a massive Twitter event that allows marginalized writers to pitch their novels to agents and editors in 280 characters or less. The event’s organizer is careful to ensure participants don’t feel pressured to ‘out’ themselves; after all, the event is not granting anyone permission to police others’ identities, but to give those who’ve traditionally been disadvantaged an opportunity to bust open the gates of the publishing world. The event runs on good faith; if you claim to be a member of a marginalized group, you will be believed.

Despite this promise, I…


Despite the 91st Academy Awards’ celebration of Black Hollywood, something is still amiss.

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Image Source: PBS

At the 2019 Academy Awards, we witnessed a celebration of Black Hollywood like never before. Considering how people of colour have been discriminated against by the Academy, the unprecedented number of Black winners (seven in total!) is a historic move by the otherwise questionable organization.

We also witnessed the critical acclaim of Black-led films that make no bones of the fact that racism, colonialism, and white supremacy are important issues. BlacKkKlansman was nominated for six Academy Awards. Black Panther was nominated for seven and picked up three. …


Ready to get off the merry-go-round yet?

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Photo by Ran Berkovich on Unsplash

Have you ever heard of the five stages of grief? You know: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance.

Most experts agree that there’s no straightforward way of passing through these stages; people might skip one, then back track. Or they might flip-flop, progressing to depression only to find themselves thrust back into anger.

Some will cycle through denial, anger, and bargaining several times before getting depressed, and some may be blessed enough never to experience depression. However, it’s generally accepted that eventually, we reach the final stage: acceptance. …


Our society’s hostility towards artistic labour must stop.

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Photo by Beata Ratuszniak on Unsplash

In 2015, Clickhole published a satirical article about Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt. The article begins:

“Chris Pratt seems like a friendly guy on screen, but persistent rumors suggest that there’s a darker side to Hollywood’s favorite leading man.”

It goes on to joke that the super-star actor is a terrible human being for expecting to be paid for work:

According to numerous reports, the Jurassic World star insists on being paid for every movie he appears in […] We did some research, and apparently Pratt ordered the studio to pay him $1.5 MILLION to star in Guardians…

KsanJ

Grumpy, chronically ill, lots of thoughts.

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