Don’t Look Up Review

by Allie Vasserman


February 25, 2022

Don’t Look Up (2021) is a satirical comedy movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy, Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky, Meryl Streep as United States President Janie Orlean, Jonah Hill as Jason Orlean, Cate Blanchet as Brie Evantee, Rob Morgan as Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe, and Ariana Grande as Riley Bina. It is directed, written, and produced by Adam Mckay.

The movie starts off with PhD candidate Kate Dibiasky discovering a comet about five to ten kilometers wide. She shows it to her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy, and they calculate that the comet will hit Earth in six months and fourteen days. Upon impact, it will wipe out all life on the planet. Kate and Dr. Mindy call Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe and request a meeting with President Orlean to discuss the situation. After talking to the president, who does not take their concerns seriously, Kate, Dr. Mindy, and Dr. Oglethorpe decide to leak the information about the comet to the media and the public themselves. 

Usually, end-of-the-world disaster action movies have a few incredibly likable main characters who face obstacles throughout the movie and save the world at the end. This movie, since it is more of a satirical comedy, does not necessarily have such a happy ending. Most of the characters are pretty unlikable and behave in selfish ways. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Dr. Mindy lets fame and power go to his head and makes poor decisions with his work and with his family. Meryl Streep, as the president of the United States, does not take the threat of the comet seriously and only takes action when she thinks she can make a profit from it. She cuts corners on every single plan and chance to save humanity, and it is revealed that her only real intention is to save her own life. Jonah Hill plays Jason, the President’s idiotic son who is incompetent and obnoxious and has power only because his mother is the president. I instantly disliked his character and President Orlean, which shows what good actors Jonah Hill and Meryl Streep are. This movie portrays most of the government officials as selfish people who only want to gain money and power and do not care about serving the public. I liked Jennifer Lawrence’s character the best, because to me, she was the most realistic of all the characters. Her reaction to the comet and the way in which she processed that she was going to die seemed very understandable to me. While watching this movie, I kept hoping that if such a world-ending disaster were to actually happen, governments would handle it better. 

Overall, I found this movie pretty entertaining and I definitely recommend watching it. One tip: if you want to see Meryl Streep interact with aliens, or Jonah Hill’s character get what he deserves after his despicable behavior throughout most of the movie, make sure to stick around for the post-credits scenes.

Remembering Dr. Formichelli

by Alyssa Ahn


January 27, 2022

Members of the BUA community shared the following stories about Dr. Formichelli (1974-2021) and the impact she had on BUA. 

Amelia Boudreau ‘23:

Dr. Formichelli was my freshman year English teacher, and my freshman and sophomore year advisor, and then my junior year English teacher as well. And even years where I didn’t have her as my English teacher or advisor, I would talk to her in general outside of class. 

It’s really hard to say a favorite memory, because there are so many, but there are a few that come to mind immediately. One is [not long] ago. She stopped by our history class. And while we were looking at the slate pencils from the African-American Meetinghouse, she sat next to me. We were trying to figure out what these slate pencils were, at first, because we weren’t told. And someone was like, “I wonder if they can break.” And she snapped one in half and was like, “They can.” And later when we were presenting what we thought [the slate pencils] were to the group, someone was like, “And then we found out that they can break,” and I was like, “Thanks to somebody in our group,” and I looked at her, and she laughed, really really hard; it was very funny. 

Also, I had talked about this at ASM, but we had had a whole email exchange, a few months or so ago, where we talked about possible fan fiction and merch spinoffs of the books that we’d read together in class, so, things like “If Hester Prynne had an Etsy shop.” We actually later found merch with Scarlet Letters. She printed them out and hung up one of these T-shirt models wearing a black T-shirt with a red Scarlet Letter on the corner, and she wrote, “The Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale’s great-great grandson fulfilling his hereditary role,” or something like that. It was super funny, and it was on her whiteboard until recently. She told me, the next day when I came in for class, after we had had this exchange that involved this merch, “Look Amelia, I hung it up over there so that every time I walk past it I can be reminded of our jokes.” 

And, I remember—this is somewhat less lighthearted, but last year I was having a really tough time in spring semester—I was not sleeping at all, I was also just in a bad headspace in general, and, yeah, it wasn’t good at all for a few months there. And I remember receiving an email from her saying, “Hi Amelia, I was wondering if you’d allow me to meet with you for just ten minutes a week, or it can be longer, not because of how you’re doing as a student—you’re a fine student, but because I want you to know that I’m here for you, and that there’s somebody here that cares and wants to hear whatever you want to share, even if you don’t feel like sharing it, if you’ll just allow me to listen.” I regret it so badly that I didn’t actually accept, because sometimes we get into headspaces where you reject help, in any form, but I went back and reread that, recently, and it just meant a lot, to think of that. She didn’t have to do that at all.

Mr. Kolovos: 

If we were lucky, we all had at least one teacher early in our lives who not only inspired us with their passion for their subject, but who took the time to get to know us at a personal level, see us as individuals, and maybe even recognize more in us than we did in ourselves. Dr. Formichelli was that person for so many BU Academy students. She loved language and literature, but loved working with adolescents even more. She took their ideas seriously, challenged them, and laughed with them. She [is] deeply missed.

Sonya Moo ‘23:

I first met Dr. Formichelli when I had her as my English teacher freshman year. Then I had her again junior year. I always liked to talk to her about gardening and mob shows/movies, which is an odd combination, but those were two interests that we had in common. I know that she was in the process of writing a book in a true-crime style that would’ve been super cool, and she gave me tips on plants that I had at home. She was super cool, and I liked her a lot as a teacher and as a person. 

Madison Ho ‘24: 

The first memory I have of Dr. Formichelli is from freshman orientation. She gathered us all around on Zoom and asked us to share our names and the meaning behind them. She then proceeded to make Quizlets of each one of our names and their meanings so that we could better remember one another. She didn’t have to do it, any of it, but she still did. And that’s what she continued to do throughout the rest of my year with her. During our first remote Wednesday class, Dr. Formichelli’s Wi-Fi cut out for a few minutes. It wasn’t long, but it was all it took for her to come back to the Zoom to find us with all of our names switched. We giggled like the comedians we thought we were and waited for her reaction. She looked around the screen, smiled at our antics, and went right back to teaching. This tradition of remote Wednesday shenanigans continued into the next Wednesday, the Wednesday after that, and all the Wednesdays for the rest of the year. We dressed up as characters from The Odyssey, The Iliad, Raisin in the Sun, Macbeth, Great Expectations, etc. and as our favorite Italian dishes (at Dr. Formichelli’s request). Dr. Formichelli took all of our wild ideas and bad poker faces and cackles in stride and encouraged us to have fun in class. My favorite memory is when we all dressed up as Bob the Minion. Upon joining, Dr. Formichelli surveyed the situation and quickly changed her name to Dr. Bob. She not only cared about us, but also cared about us caring about each other. She cultivated a true sense of community in our own little classroom and had us looking forward to every single class together. The bond and the friendship she nurtured between each of us still lasts today. She was a brilliant teacher who not only helped me [Zooming in all year from California] to grow as a literary student, but also encouraged me to champion the social justice issues I believed in. In such a short time and from three thousand miles away, she shaped the student I have become today, and I’m eternally grateful for her. She was one of the greatest pillars of our community, and her memory will be there with me for the rest of my life. Rest peacefully, Dr. Formichelli. 

At the request of Jennifer’s family, donations in her memory may be made to the MSPCACharles River Alleycats, or to the financial aid program at Boston University Academy. More information about making a gift in Jennifer’s memory can be found at this link.

Unrest in Kazakhstan Prompts Governmental Changes

by Therese Askarbek


January 27, 2022

Kazakhstan, an oil-rich country sparsely populated with just over nineteen million people, has recently undergone major governmental changes in response to recent protests. Earlier this month, on January 2, protests erupted in Zhanaozen, a small town located in western Kazakhstan, before spreading across the country.1 The protests, catalyzed by frustration over the government raising gas and oil prices, intensified because of discontent from Kazakh citizens. In 2011, police shot dead at least fifteen people in Zhanaozen protesting in support of oil workers who were dismissed after a strike.2 Disquiet over continual human rights abuses such as these, corruption, inequity, poor quality of living, and other factors fueled the most violent and large uprisings the country has seen since its separation from the Soviet Union in 1991. To give a picture of Kazakhstan, about a million people are estimated to live below the poverty line.3 The average national monthly salary is less than 450 pounds, about 600 dollars, according to a 2019 report by KPMG, a British-Dutch global professional services network, while 162 people in the country own more than fifty percent of its wealth.4 

The protests quickly spread to other parts of the country, but were mostly focused in the former capital city, Almaty. According to current President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, “About 1300 businesses were affected, more than one hundred shopping centers and banks attacked, and about five hundred police cars burned.”1 Looters and unidentified non-state armed groups emerged among the peaceful protests, with the government claiming these groups have ties to “criminal, extremist, and terrorist networks—homegrown and foreign—though without providing any convincing evidence.”1 They knocked out doors and windows, threw around documents, and destroyed offices. Grocery stores, among other establishments, were looted, leaving many without basic necessities.1 Nurali Kuanyshbaev, a resident of Almaty (and the cousin of this reporter) who flew into Boston from Astana on January 17, had this to say about his experience during the protests: “The first two days, my family and I were very worried. We then moved to our grandparents’ house, which was safer. We rarely went outside, only to the grocery store for necessities. In the beginning, when the protests were peaceful, I supported all the protesters, but not the looters who decided to cash in on the trouble. Most of the people here have not liked or supported the government for a long time.” Many others in Almaty had similar experiences during the protests. They stayed in their houses as the bullets fired outside, and those who couldn’t get to a grocery store shared food with their neighbors. 

The now burned-down Almaty akimat, or government office, has become a symbol of these tragic events, known as Qandy Qantar—Bloody January. After the situation was deescalated, reports surfaced of police wrongly detaining civilians on charges of participation in the violent riots and looting.1 Victims released from detainment claimed they had suffered prolonged interrogation, beating, torture, and pressure to confess. The tactics used to suppress uprisings in Kazakhstan closely resembled those in Belarus: a brutal and swift takedown of peaceful citizens and looters, sowing disinformation, broadly blaming unspecified foreign “terrorists,” and cutting out the internet across the country.5 At the height of the unrest, Tokayev said he had ordered troops to shoot to kill protesters without warning. The official death toll is 225, with nearly ten thousand detained. The authorities have justified their response by putting responsibility for the protests on both foreign and domestic “bandits and terrorists.”

A peaceful protester, Sergey Shutov, was arrested on January 11 after attending protests in the city of Atirau. He claimed security services brought him to a gym on the outskirts of town and repeatedly beat him and dozens of others. “I begged them to stop kicking me. I had to promise I would never join a meeting again,” Shutov said. A veteran opposition activist, Aset Abishev, said, “There is no way back for Tokayev. The people of Kazakhstan have seen what this regime is capable of. He has blood on his hands.”6 Along with the President announcing an order for state police to shoot to kill without warning, the state used water cannons, tear gas, and flashlight grenades against civilians. Those who stayed after signs of escalation were caught in the crossfire between the police, who used both rubber and regular bullets, and non-state armed groups on the night from January 4 to January 5. The government still has not released the names of the deceased civilians, despite civil activists’ demands.1 A senior aide to Kazakhstan’s prosecutor general said that 3,337 offenders were released while over a thousand people were currently under arrest.4

In response to the uprisings, Tokayev attempted to pacify the crowds by dismissing former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, taking over his position as chairman of the National Security Council, and naming a new prime minister and government. He fired and detained Karim Massimov, head of security services, and an official who worked under Nazarbayev. Several other officials related to Nazarbaev, such as his nephew, also were removed from their high positions.7 Many protesters demanded that Nazarbaev be removed from power, who resigned from his post in 2019 but still is considered by citizens and outsiders to be controlling the government and, in tandem, Tokayev.8 Many seem to think that Tokayev’s decision to take Nazarbaev’s position was a move to safeguard Nazarbaev’s legacy and keep him close to power.4 

In any case, Tokayev’s attempt to appease the public wasn’t effective enough, so he switched tactics by describing the demonstrators as terrorists. He then brought in the Russian Collective Security Treaty Organization, which includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, to send “peacekeeping forces” to Kazakhstan “to stabilize and normalize the situation,” according to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.2,9 Approximately three thousand Russian soldiers were deployed, alongside some five hundred troops from Belarus, one hundred Armenians, two hundred Tajiks, and one hundred fifty Kyrgyz, to conduct the “counter-terrorist operation,” as described on Twitter by Tokayev.10 He also rejected calls from the international community, including the United Nations and the United States, to resolve the crisis peacefully, saying it was not possible to negotiate with parties he described as “armed and trained bandits, both local and foreign.”9 The Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, made an official visit to Kazakhstan in May of 2019, including regions of Aktau and Almaty where the protests emerged. According to her, Kazakhstan’s overly broad use of the word “terrorism” in this context against protesters, civil society activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and political parties aimed at instilling fear was deeply concerning. Several other experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council echoed her sentiments.11

In very recent news, before Tokayev removed the rights of a private recycling monopoly linked to Nazarbaev’s daughter Aliya, he made his first ever public criticism of Nazarbaev, saying last week that under his predecessor’s leadership, many lucrative businesses and extremely rich people had appeared in Kazakhstan and that it was now time for the ordinary people to receive what they deserved.4,12 Numerous political analysts are not surprised by Tokayev’s moves to dismantle Nazarbaev’s power monopoly, as they have claimed that Tokayev has been trying to get out from under the control of Nazarbaev since his own instatement.7 Nazarbaev, who seemed to disappear during the protests, finally reappeared in a video address on Tuesday, in which he claimed, “In 2019 I handed over my powers to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, and since then I am a pensioner. I am currently taking deserved rest in the capital of Kazakhstan and I have not gone anywhere,” in response to rumors that he had fled Kazakhstan.13

Now, weeks after the height of the protests, there are some political uncertainties within and outside of the country. Russia’s involvement and Putin’s interests are making political analysts and commentators uneasy, and citizens are still reeling from the death and destruction that this situation has left in its wake.14 Many are looking for their loved ones who are still unaccounted for and begging the government for answers.

If you’re looking for ways to help, supporting local activists, demanding accountability, and donating to fundraisers are just a few ways to support those affected. I recommend the following three fundraisers: Stand with Kazakhstan, Dollar-for-dollar donation initiative to help civilians in Almaty and other regions of Kazakhstan to recover from the aftermath of social unrest and the ensuing chaos, and Aid for those affected in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

1 Akbota Karibayeva, “Kazakhstan’s Unrest Leaves Behind a Traumatized Society,” Foreign Policy, January 19, 2022,

2 “What’s behind unrest rocking oil-rich Kazakhstan,” AP News, January 6, 2022,

3 Gareth Jones, “From stability to turmoil – what’s going on in Kazakhstan,” Reuters, January 8, 2022,

4 Pjotr Sauer, “‘His Family Robbed The Country’: personality cult of ex-Kazakh leader crumbles,” The Guardian, January 20, 2022,

5 Michael Bociurkiw, “For Putin Kazakhstan is a domino too big to fall,” CNN, January 17, 2022,

6 Pjotr Sauer, “As the Dust Settles on Kazakhstan’s Unrest, Reports of Torture and Violence Surface,” The Moscow Times, January 19, 2022,

7 Rachel Pannett, “Kazakhstan’s ‘father of the nation’ resurfaces, says he’s retired after Russian intervention in bloody unrest,” The Washington Post, January 19, 2022,

8 Shaun Walker, “Poverty, inequality and corruption: why Kazakhstan’s former leader is no longer untouchable,” The Guardian, January 5, 2022,

9 Helen Regan, “Kazakhstan is in turmoil and regional troops have been sent to quell unrest. Here’s what you need to know,” CNN, January 7, 2022,

10 Matt Cavanaugh and Jahara Matisek, “Little Blue Helmets in Kazakhstan,” The Diplomat, January 19, 2022,

11 Atul Alexander, “Kazakhstan Crisis: Has International Human Rights Law anything to offer?” The Leaflet, January 19, 2022,

12 RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service, “Kazakh President Replaces Defense Minister, Parliament Removes Nazarbayev From Lifetime Posts,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, January 19, 2022,

13 Shaun Walker, “‘I have not gone anywhere’: former Kazakh leader denies fleeing country,” The Guardian, January 18, 2022,

14 Shaun Walker, “As order is restored in Kazakhstan, its future remains murky,” The Guardian, January 8, 2022,

Spider-Man: No Way Home Review

by Christian Asdourian


January 27, 2022

How does one even begin to describe the experience that was Spider-Man: No Way Home? Do I call it the most anticipated movie of 2021? Or maybe I should just call it another chapter in the Marvel anthology. Perhaps talking about the records broken by the first trailer alone could make a decent starting point. Interestingly enough, this film first debuted over a month ago, and I’m still finding myself thinking about it every so often. I wonder if any of you who have seen it feel the same way. Regardless, I don’t think this review really needs a starting point. Instead, I’m opting for a less formal approach: focusing on the feelings of the film. After all, the best movies are always the ones that leave you feeling awestruck, astonished, and amazed. 

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) is directed by Jon Watts, who has grown as a filmmaker in each entry of our Web-head’s trilogy, a recurring theme you’ll come to notice. The main cast also returns to deliver some lively performances that keeps things light despite the film’s darker tone. I was very happy to see MJ (Zendaya), Ned (Jacob Batalon), and of course Peter (Tom Holland) share more scenes than they had in the previous films. Their great chemistry really made you feel like they were a team, but more importantly, friends. This helped ground the conflict for the young Avenger, which I felt was especially important, considering the premise of the film. This movie has a massive cast and an even larger scope. As much as I’d love to cover every character and scene, I’m going to blatantly prioritize the stellar selection of villains Peter had to face off against, along with a vague summary of the plot. We start right where we left off: Spidey’s identity has been revealed to the world! This irrevocable act of Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) pushes Peter’s life into a spiral of mishaps and mistakes—but hey, at least he dodged the murder charges! Things come to a head when Peter’s friend’s college acceptance is in question simply because they are associated with Spider-Man. Desperate to fix things, Peter seeks out the help of Dr. Steven Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to “reset things” and put his loved ones’ lives back on track. The spell is botched, however, and now the movie really begins. Villains from alternate realities flood into Peter’s world and immediately start causing chaos. The major antagonizing force comes from the returning wrongdoers Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Dr. Octopus (Alfred Molina), and Electro (Jamie Foxx). These three gave some amazing performances and quickly became my favorite parts of the film. You could immediately tell that they were happy to be back and really wanted to iron out any kinks from their original performances. Things quickly veer into spoiler territory here, so I’ll leave it up to you whether or not this synopsis interests you enough to go see Spider-Man: No Way Home.

I’m happy to report that I have very few complaints about this movie and that they’re really just nitpicks that I thought were worth mentioning. If I had to describe it, the pacing of this movie felt irregular. I mean it when I say that this movie is a journey. You cover a lot of ground in two and a half hours, and that leaves me feeling ambivalent. I’m grateful to have had a story so jam-packed with the best parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Spidey, but some parts definitely needed more screen time while others felt extraneous. Perhaps the issue mostly stems from the fact that this movie doesn’t set up its payoffs as well as it could have. The first two films in this trilogy are joys to watch but fail to distill the core parts of Peter’s character. The supporting characters in his life were not nearly developed as much as they could have been in the first two movies, and that leaves the responsibility for this to Spider-Man: No Way Home. Despite being dealt a bad hand in having to pick up the slack of the first two films, the final entry of the trilogy does its best to make up for it and then some. Another minor thing is that I felt some villains weren’t really necessary to the plot of the film. They were only there to add a more intimidating presence to the roster of villains. Maybe one day, Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and Lizard (Rhys Ifans) can get the development they deserve. Aside from these minor grievances, the movie rocks!

I could honestly sit here all day and gush about everything this movie did right. I remember seeing memes about how fan expectations were so demanding that the movie was bound to disappoint in one way or another. I’m going to get into major spoiler mode for this section, so be warned. First off, Peter’s arc was so incredibly satisfying to watch unfold. Of course, it would’ve been impossible to pull off without Holland’s incredible acting chops. The range of emotions he shows in this movie alone is outstanding. From grief and rage to acceptance and optimism, he really puts Peter through the wringer, and you can feel the toll it takes on him. Peter as a character has come a long way from StarkTech gadgets, and his development doesn’t feel forced at all in this film. I’m also happy that the major villains are given enough screen time that really develops them in a way we haven’t seen before. Electro particularly stands out here, since he has a more pronounced personality and motivation. Foxx definitely augments his character’s growth by using his great chemistry with the rest of the cast. 

However, it would be criminal to not give credit to the star of the villains: Green Goblin. Along with a cutting-edge redesign, Dafoe is somehow able to top the performance he gave in Spider-Man (2001) by letting loose. It was so refreshing to have a villain be evil just for the sake of it. No tragic backstory or relatable motivation is present, which sets Green Goblin apart. The nuance of Norman Osborn comes from his dual personalities. Peter sees a man trapped in his own body with a monster before he sees what the monster is truly capable of. It endears Norman not only to Peter, but to us as well. It really puts May’s (Marisa Tomei) lessons to Peter in a new perspective. Green Goblin poses such an overwhelming threat to Peter physically and, more importantly, emotionally. His cruel actions in this film alone cause Peter to question his own morals. Peter is faced with a dilemma of giving into his rage and avenging May, but at the same time he would be killing an innocent man not in control of his actions. How much better can a supervillain get? 

And don’t even get me started on the heroes. Even a month later, I still can’t believe that we got to see all three Spider-Men swinging around together! What really surprised me, though, was how much time we got with them outside of the action. Seeing Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield play older versions of Peter was an interesting concept that was executed well. All three of them have great chemistry. At times, it feels like they’re brothers who have known each other their whole lives. If anyone was the most excited to be back, it would have to be those two. Honestly, it feels like they were there for the whole movie, since they poured so much energy into their performances. Maguire plays the oldest brother so well, and I’m glad they left his time after Spider-Man 3 (2007) vague. And the catharsis Garfield was able to convey when he caught MJ was one of the most emotional moments of the movie, and it was in the middle of the final battle! All three variants of Peter somehow have the same set of core values, yet feel distinct from one another. I really hope this isn’t the last we see of them. All of these combined efforts really made this movie an enjoyable experience for me.

Wow! I wrote a lot and barely even scratched the surface! It really is a wonder to see a movie produced and released during a pandemic do so well for itself and for its audience. A movie about a guy in red and blue spandex who can swing from buildings has been the object of my attention and excitement for the past three months, and honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m glad all of us have our own little things like this to look forward to. Small escapes like superhero movies are part of what makes life so flavorful, and I genuinely hope I convinced you to give this film a shot. If you enjoy it half as much as I did, you’re bound to have a good time.

And to the regular Marvel crowd: we really ate good this year, with a near constant stream of some of the funnest content the MCU has ever produced. I’m excited to see the future of NYC’s resident Wall-Crawler, and hopefully we can catch up with his older brothers at one point or another. Dr. Strange is the next big fish to watch out for, and you already know I’m going to be covering it. Cheers to a spectacular year of comics come to life and to many more full of new faces and familiar fun.


tick, tick… BOOM! Movie Review

by Theo Sloan


January 27, 2022

Hello everyone, and a late happy new year to all of you! Since 2021 has now passed, and we’re all now facing a new calendar year of movies, I figured I’d take some time to review the best movie that came out in 2021 that I saw, tick, tick… BOOM! There are a few movies that have come out that I didn’t quite manage to see (e.g., CODA, Candyman, The Tragedy of Macbeth, King Richard, Annette), and one of those could very well displace this film, but until that time, this is the best movie of 2021. 

tick, tick… BOOM! is a film adaptation of the off-Broadway musical of the same name about aspiring composer Jonathan Larson. It was produced by Netflix, directed by first-time movie director Lin-Manuel Miranda, and stars, among others, Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesus, and Vanessa Hudgens. The music and lyrics were written by the late and great Jonathan Larson, who was the creator of the original stage show. 

I’ve always said that the most important thing about a musical is its music, and while the songs are vitally important to this movie, I actually think they’re slightly overshadowed by Andrew Garfield’s incredible lead performance as Jonathan Larson. Not only can he sing like an angel, but he delivers what is perhaps the best performance of his career. I think it’s fair to say that most people know Garfield as “that guy who was in those two crappy Spider-Man movies,” and if you think that, you just need to see him in this. He’s fantastic at communicating complex emotions with just facial expressions, he manages to never stop acting, even when he’s pouring his heart out into a song, and he effectively serves as the emotional core of the story as a result. He’s also very funny when he needs to be, and his wide range helps make the story and the characters within feel very human. The other actors are also all very good. Alexandra Shipp does a consistently good job as Susan. Her standout moment is definitely the song “Come to Your Senses,” which contributes to one of the most emotionally powerful scenes in the movie, and I think it was that moment that fully sold me on her performance. Robin de Jesus is also wonderful as Michael, Jonathan’s best friend. He and Andrew have really good platonic chemistry, something that’s really hard to pull off a lot of the time, and although his arc is less-developed than those of Garfield and Shipp, he makes the most of it and does a great job in his song, “Real Life,” near the end of the film. There really isn’t a single bad performance here. 

I also can’t talk about the actors without mentioning the diner scene, which is literal candy for any fan of musical theatre. It is filled to the brim with cameos from high-caliber Broadway stars, featuring everyone from director and Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda (and his father Luis Miranda Jr.), to Phantom of the Opera star Howard McGillin, to Hadestown star André de Shields, to Reneé Elise Goldsbury and Philippa Soo, who are most known for playing Angelica and Eliza Schuyler in Hamilton. This is genuinely only the tip of a frankly enormous iceberg, and rewatching that scene to try and catch every single cameo hidden throughout is an absolute treat if you’re interested in musical theater.

But that’s enough about the actors, because the songs are so good! They don’t quite measure up to some of my all-time favorite musical soundtracks, such as Hadestown, Hamilton, or Six, but every song on the tick, tick… BOOM! soundtrack is memorable, engaging, and quite often heartbreaking, sometimes all at once. My personal favourites are “Therapy,” “30/90,” and “No More,” but they’re all great, and there are no wrong answers when picking favourites, although I’ll have some serious questions for you if you pick “Green Green Dress” or “Play Game.” As I already mentioned, these were all composed by the late Jonathan Larson, who was primarily known for creating the musical Rent, and that’s actually a great segue into the movie’s story.

tick, tick… BOOM! is a semi-autobiographical musical. Larson wrote it about himself and his attempt to get his first musical, Superbia, picked up by a Broadway producer and made into a reality. All of the characters are real people, and the events of the movie are more or less true. Now, events being true doesn’t make them any more or less impactful on their own, but when they’re backed by performances as strong as Andrew Garfield’s in this movie, the truth behind them absolutely gives the whole thing an extra punch. (This is the same thing I think about Just Mercy, by the way.) Anyway, the story takes place over the course of about a week, and it tells the story of Larson trying desperately to fight through his writer’s block to finish the last song of his musical before his first musical workshop takes place in front of a large group of Broadway producers. Meanwhile, his relationship with his girlfriend, Susan, is getting increasingly strained, his best friend grapples with being gay at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and Jonathan struggles with the idea of turning thirty years old without having released any sort of great work of art into the world. It’s not the most complex story ever told, but it is what actually happened, and the writing, performances, and musical numbers all enhance it beyond belief.

There’s also some really innovative cinematography in the movie. This is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first time behind the camera, and I was quite curious as to what he’d do with it. I didn’t expect anything too impressive, because I’ve always thought that Miranda’s greatest talent was his writing ability and wasn’t really sure how the director’s chair would suit him. I was honestly blown away. The most impressive sequence was the song “Swimming,” with the way he used the lines on the pool floor as a staff that notes appeared on, but every musical number was filmed in a very interesting way. A good example is how Miranda combined the flash-forwards to Garfield as Larson performing the stage musical tick, tick… BOOM! in front of a live audience with the rest of the main movie in the song “Therapy” and the scene in the marketing focus group.

Overall, tick, tick… BOOM! is an absolutely stellar movie musical. It’s funny, entertaining, and it has an incredibly moving and also kind of depressing third act. It’s an easy 10/10, it’s the best thing I’ve seen all year, and I cannot recommend this film enough, even if you think it’s not going to be your thing. It’s available for streaming on Netflix right now, so what are you waiting for? Go watch it!

Logan Lucky Review

by Allie Vasserman


January 27, 2022

Logan Lucky is a heist movie directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Channing Tatum as Jimmy Logan, Adam Driver as Clyde Logan, Riley Keough as Mellie Logan, Daniel Craig as Joe Bang, Seth MacFarlane as Max Chilblain, and Sebastian Stan as Dayton White. It was released in 2017 and takes place in West Virginia. 

At the start of the movie, which could be described as an action-comedy, Jimmy Logan is laid off from his job as a construction worker due to budget cuts. After he talks to his hairstylist sister Mellie, visits his daughter Sadie, who lives with his ex-wife Bobbie, and talks to his brother Clyde, who is in need of a new arm after his time in Iraq, Jimmy comes up with an idea to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend, the same weekend that the track will be hosting the Coca-Cola 600 race. Jimmy explains to Clyde that since he used to work at the speedway, he knows how the money is moved throughout the speedway and therefore how to steal it. Jimmy and Clyde visit Joe Bang, an explosives expert who is currently serving time in prison and recruit him for their heist. Joe agrees to help the Logan siblings as long as they include his two brothers in the heist. Jimmy, Clyde, Mellie, and the rest of their team coordinate and work together to attempt to pull off the heist successfully.

One of the things that I really liked about this movie is its strong theme of family loyalty. The Logan siblings help each other out and stick together even though it seems like all hope is lost. When a rude customer makes fun of Clyde’s missing arm at the bar where Clyde works, Jimny stands up to the bully for insulting his brother. The Logan siblings are a lot more clever than one would think. During the movie, they’re repeatedly referred to as “stupid” and “idiotic,” yet they all have their own talents and intelligence that help them in planning and executing this great robbery. I found the father-daughter relationship between Jimmy and Sadie to be really sweet, and I liked how close they were to each other. I also loved how Jimmy’s sister Mellie supported Sadie when it came to Sadie’s passion for beauty pageants, showing a loving aunt-niece relationship. 

There are many comedic moments in this movie. The actors all do a great job of portraying their characters. Daniel Craig, whom most people know as the latest James Bond, does an especially great job playing a character who is very different from a British secret agent. The only part I didn’t like about Logan Lucky were the last couple of minutes. I felt that they were trying to make an excuse for a future sequel, which I think would be unnecessary.

Overall, I found Logan Lucky to be an enjoyable movie and perfect for a family movie night.

Just Mercy Review

by Theo Sloan


December 17, 2021

Just Mercy is a 2019 biopic about the incredible story of Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard Law School graduate, who worked in Alabama to pardon wrongly convicted death row prisoners and went on to start the Equal Justice Initiative. Stevenson is incredible, and his list of accomplishments is vast. Just Mercy tells the story of his efforts to get one man—Walter McMillan—off death row, but that truly is the tip of an enormous and impressive iceberg. In fact, I’m linking the Wikipedia article about him, and I encourage you to go give it a look, because he is absolutely worth learning about.

Normally in these reviews, I try to be a little coy about what my opinions are, but I’m not going to do this here. I think Just Mercy is a masterpiece, and I’m going to tell you why. This will not be a review with two sections, one for positives and one for negatives; rather, this will be a long rant about why I think Just Mercy is a fantastic drama and why you should watch it.

The first thing I’d like to discuss is the acting, because it is straight up amazing from the beginning to the end. This film’s three main stars are Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, and Brie Larson, and all three of them give the best performances I have ever seen them give. To be fair, I have not watched every movie that these extremely talented and prolific actors have been in, but I’ve seen a fair number, and Just Mercy blows all of them out of the water.

Brie Larson is probably the least interesting to talk about here. She’s just very good in this film, as I’ve come to expect from an actress of her talent and caliber. There’s one outstanding scene near the beginning in which she does a fantastic job expressing panic and terror, but other than that, she’s just very good. I say “just” because there’s less to unpack with her performance than there is with the other two. Please do not mistake this as me being dismissive of her or her performance in this movie. She is incredibly talented, and she does a genuinely great job at playing Eva Ansley, who co-founded the Equal Justice Initiative with Stevenson.

Michael B. Jordan is the film’s lead. He plays Bryan Stevenson, and he knocks it out of the park. He spends a lot of time in this film acting with just his facial expressions. A single look from him can speak volumes about what his character is thinking and feeling, and I think that that is one of the greatest things an actor can do. He has to convey so many different emotions throughout the duration of the movie, and he shifts among them flawlessly. I honestly cannot think of a single moment throughout the film when I wasn’t completely sucked into his character and the story he conveys through his performance.

However, this movie’s absolute standout performance comes from Jamie Foxx as Walter “Johnny D.” McMillian. It is hard to put into words how powerful I found his performance to be. Just think about everything I said about Michael B. Jordan, and then think about what it means that Jamie Foxx did an even better job than he does. Foxx is that good. I’ll just leave it at that. Watch the movie to fully understand what I’m saying.

I also need to give a brief mention to Rob Morgan, who gives another brilliant performance as Herbert Richardson, another death row prisoner. He’s not nearly as present in the film as Foxx and Jordan are, but he makes every little moment count. There is a scene near the middle of the movie, which is about four minutes of him just acting with his face, and that, combined with literally everything else about the scene—the framing, the score, the writing, the content—brought me to tears. It is hard to put into words how much that scene resonated with me, but trust me when I say that it takes a fair amount to make me cry during a movie. That scene was just amazing.

In fact, while we’re here, I need to give a quick shout-out to the score, because not only is it incredible, but the way that the score is used is equally well done, not only during that one scene with Morgan, but throughout the rest of the movie as well. I tip my hat to Joel P. West, who did a really outstanding job here.

Next up, I think it’s important to talk about the writing. The script is very good. The dialogue is tightly written and hard-hitting, and the story, while a tad generic by genre standards, is completely redeemed in my eyes because it’s based on a true story, and a very important one at that. A lot of critics apparently docked points from this movie for having the structure of a slightly generic, if superbly written, legal drama, but I just don’t see that as being a negative. It’s a true story. Should they have changed it to make it less “predictable”? Of course not! That critique doesn’t work for me, and I never found myself objecting to the story, regardless of its “originality,” because I was sufficiently impressed by the frankly incredible true story that I was experiencing.

Lastly, I think it’s worth mentioning that the cinematography in this movie is shockingly good for a biopic legal drama. There’s a lot of very interesting establishing shots and transitions, and there’s one segment that uses a television in a very engaging way. That scene that made me cry had top notch cinematography as well.

Just Mercy is an emotionally resonant legal drama based on a true story about an incredibly inspiring person. It has top-notch writing, even better acting, and surprisingly memorable cinematography. I found myself absolutely hooked from the moment I started watching to the moment the credits began to roll, and I think I would be doing this film an absolute disservice if I gave it anything less than a 10/10.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review

by Christian Asdourian


December 17, 2021

Back in April when the first Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) trailer was released, my initial impression was that the movie was being set up to fail. How could a street-level martial arts movie compare to the massive scale of Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Endgame (2019)? Fast forward five months, and I’m walking out of the cinema thinking, “Wow, I’ve never been so wrong in my life.” After rewatching it recently, my love for this film was only reaffirmed. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a masterpiece that beautifully melds action, comedy, and a genuine sense of adventure. More importantly than that, however, it manages to cultivate a unique identity in the vast and ever-growing Marvel mythos.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, who is credited with pioneering Asian representation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). He draws on the rich history of Chinese culture to tell a compelling story about family. Our leading character is Shaun, or more accurately Shang-Chi, who is played by Simu Liu. I remember that in the weeks leading up to the film’s release in theatres, the press surrounding the movie wasn’t very strong. Liu saw this oversight and decided to raise awareness and excitement for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings himself using his platform on social media. You could tell that he was very passionate about this film, and you can see that throughout all of his scenes. The supporting cast also brought their A-game to provide captivating performances. Awkwafina plays Katy, who is the comedic heart of the movie. She gets dragged into Shang-Chi’s past life as a human weapon and learns about his complicated family drama. Speaking of family, Meng’er Zhang plays Xialing, Shang-Chi’s younger sister, who makes a life for herself out of nothing after she was abandoned. I won’t go any deeper into her character because of spoilers, but her unique fighting style and cool presence makes a terrific foil to Shang-Chi’s warmness. And of course, I absolutely have to mention Xu Wenwu, known as the Mandarin, who is played by veteran actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai. Personally, I think that Wenwu is the strongest character in this movie and definitely one of the best villains we’ve seen in the MCU. 

The plot begins when Wenwu forces his children, Shang-Chi and Xialing, to return home with him. From there, we learn about how the relationships between family members fell apart, which contextualizes the inevitable confrontation between father and child. From there on is spoiler territory, so I have to be vague with my descriptions. The final act takes place in a visually unique and stunning setting, where the true colors of every major character are revealed. 

Here I’ll cover the few dislikes I had with the movie, and I’ll be using details that might spoil key parts about the plot. I think more could have been done with Xialing’s arc over the course of the movie. She had a strong introduction, but that momentum sort of falters in the second act, where she should have had more character moments to show the deeper parts of her character. I’m glad she’s able to reconcile with Shang-Chi in the climax of the movie, which completes her arc. The film also leaves the door open for Xialing’s next major phase, which will hopefully be explored more thoroughly in a confirmed spin-off series. My other major grievance is that in the final act of the movie, the unique identity of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings falters and feels like just another Marvel movie. I won’t get into too much detail, but another world-ending threat with a large-scale but impersonal battle feels out of place in this film. It doesn’t bother me too much, however, since the filmmakers and actors are able to masterfully weave the theme of family into the finale while still giving a satisfying resolution to the dysfunctional dynamic of Shang-Chi’s family.

There is a lot to love about this film, and I doubt I can get into all of it with the amount of detail that it deserves, so I’ll stick to the major points. The action in this movie is so well-choreographed and put together that it makes me question how it is even possible. In the months between my first watch and my rewatch, I could recall how every major action sequence played out in great detail, because they were simply that memorable. And don’t even get me started on the soundtrack. The artists from 88rising really put their hearts into these songs, and it shows. I highly recommend everyone to give the soundtrack a listen. Shang-Chi is a very strong leading character, and I’m excited to see Simu return to play him in future projects. However, my favorite character is definitely Wenwu. In no small part is it due to Leung’s amazing performance as a vicious warlord, a loving husband and father, and an empty husk of his former self. He demands attention in every scene he is present in, and thankfully he’s given enough time in the spotlight to develop his character. I also appreciate how complete the film felt as a whole. Of course, there are post-credit scenes setting up sequels and spin-offs, not to mention the build-up toward another, bigger threat. But none of that impedes the story this film is trying to tell. The goal of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is simply to tell a story about a family, and even if all of these characters are newcomers to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it really feels like they’ve been here since the beginning. 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings may have been the kick-off to the next phase of Marvel’s machinations, but I don’t really have anything to say about the future of the MCU. I mean, if this is the starting point, I can’t imagine what heights will be reached in the future. Not only that, but I’m happy to say that the Shang-Chi franchise won’t be falling by the wayside anytime soon when big names such as the Avengers inevitably return. The overwhelming success of this movie shows that household names aren’t required to break the box office. I hope we can see more unique and diverse stories like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings carved into the MCU in the future. Until then, I’m more than happy to experience this movie over and over again.


Eternals Review

by Therese Askarbek


December 17, 2021

Recently, the newest Marvel movie, Eternals, directed by Chloe Zhao (of Nomadland fame) came out. A lot of controversy has surrounded this film: it is the first Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie to receive a rotten Rotten Tomatoes score of 48%. The 157-minute movie follows ten “Eternals”—Ajak, Sersi, Ikaris, Kingo, Sprite, Phastos, Makkari, Druig, Gilgamesh, and Thena—who are sent to Earth by a mysterious Celestial being, Arishem, to kill all of the monsters, or Deviants, terrorizing the humans. The Eternals finally exterminate them all in 1521 and spend the next five-hundred years on Earth apart, waiting for Arishem to give them further instructions. The film spends some time giving context, introducing the Eternals and where they are in the present day, before it establishes the initial conflict: the Deviants have come back. Plot twists, impressive displays of skill, and visually stunning action scenes ensue. In this sense, this film follows the typical Marvel movie structure. 

I’ll start off by saying that this movie does not deserve such a low score across the board. That being said, there are aspects of the film that seem underdeveloped and lacking. The comedy in the movie consisted of easy one-liners sprinkled sparingly throughout. Most of it occured in the interactions between Kingo, played by Kumail Nanjiani, and Karun, played by Harish Patel. It wasn’t set up well like in Thor: Ragnarok, or sarcastic and dry like in Iron Man, or endearingly funny like in either of the newest Spider-Man movies. It didn’t bring anything noteworthy or distinctive in terms of humor to the table, which is something that I personally enjoy most in MCU films. Another aspect that I found lacking was the progression of the movie. It seemed very slow in the first half and only started to pick up a little in the second half before the abrupt and anticlimactic ending. The action scene had no real “Wow, that was awesome!” moments and wasn’t memorable. 

The cinematography was aesthetically pleasing, and Zhao’s insistence on filming in real places rather than using computer-generated imagery (CGI) definitely was a great artistic choice. Faced with the daunting task of introducing and developing ten new characters while also progressing the plot, Zhao gave each character their moment to shine and clearly developed each and every one of them. The plot also stayed cohesive and didn’t stray far from the goal, which kept me captivated throughout. The all-around diversity is very important, and it didn’t seem forced. One of the reasons the movie got such a low score was because people had an issue with the representation, whether they thought it was forced or unnecessary. Because the Eternals don’t technically have human ethnicities, and they aren’t mentioned at all throughout the movie, it seems that reviewers might just be projecting their own discomfort with seeing people who aren’t as represented in mainstream media on the big screen. I also enjoyed the fact that this movie, more than previous MCU films, focused more on the emotional, heartfelt moments of the human experience. It dealt with questioning identity, finding a purpose, coping with loss, and other non-otherworldly matters.  

Overall, the new perspective that Zhao brought to the MCU and her execution of it was a great addition to this year’s Marvel catalog. The movie was enjoyable, had a great star-studded cast, and had me rooting for the protagonists. I would definitely recommend watching it over the holidays with family or friends, if for no other reason than to watch Angelina Jolie stab a Deviant.

The Dangers of Social Media for Children and Teens, and How We Can Work to Mitigate Them

by Sally Jamrog


November 23, 2021

Facebook’s launch in 2004 plunged the world into a new era of constant engagement, and as diverse social media platforms have continued to rise and thrive, by capitalist societal standards, they have become the embodiment of twenty-first-century commercial success. The real success of these platforms, however, should instead be quantified based on how they affect their users, especially younger generations, since Meta Platforms, Inc. and other social media companies have, in light of their commercial aptitude, turned a blind eye to social media’s more toxic effects. With American teens spending an average of more than a third of their day outside of school-related activities on screens absorbing media, these dangers have become crucial to address.1

Logging onto social media is no longer a fully conscious choice. According to Tristan Harris, co-founder and president of the Center for Humane Technology and former design ethicist at Google, “Social media isn’t a tool that’s just waiting to be used; it has its own goals and it has its own means of pursuing them by using your own psychology against you.”2 Social media has become a serious addiction, ingrained in our daily habits and whims to the extent that it steals our time and interferes with schedules. To generate content that keeps users engaged and scrolling, social media platforms use algorithms and artificial intelligence to best determine what types of content will keep a user’s attention and thus have the most economic success. In and of itself, this type of tactic is to be expected within the bounds of American capitalism, but with social media, when people are exclusively treated as products with rarely any regulation or concern for mental health, it seems morally questionable to continue to advertise these platforms as ways to foster human connection. Even more questionable is for these companies to keep targeting a younger, more vulnerable population, as children and young adults are still experiencing cognitive development. Ultimately, Facebook, Instagram, Snap(chat), and other social media platforms are for-profit organizations that were not designed to protect kids. It might be even in these organizations’ best commercial interests to exploit their younger users as a way to increase their user base.

In recent years, companies like Meta Platforms, Inc. have worked on creating social media platforms more suitable for kids aged thirteen years or younger, such as Instagram Kids. These platforms may create a safer social media environment for kids, as many of these platforms do regulate their content accordingly. But since large-scale censorship on these platforms is usually determined by an algorithm rather than a human, it is often not possible to completely censor harmful content on a site. “To be honest, I don’t think there’s a way to create a completely ‘safe’ version of anything online. I think you can put in restrictions and try your best to make a safe space, but there will always be people who bypass that,” says Sarah Emmert ‘24. According to a study performed by Common Sense Media, an organization dedicated to informing families about media, on YouTube Kids, 27% of the videos watched by children ages eight and younger contain depictions of violence and other graphic content.3 To keep turning a profit, these companies also still advertise to YouTube Kids users who have not purchased the ad-free YouTube Premium. 

Similarly, while parental controls can work to mitigate social media access for kids, they are not a solution for all families. “I think parental controls are effective only if the relationship between parent and child is one that sets boundaries in a healthy way and there is complete trust on both sides. Parental controls are only truly effective at keeping kids away from social media if they are backed up by understanding on both sides,” says Therese Askarbek ‘24. In the same vein, general age restrictions on potentially inappropriate social media platforms such as YouTube or Instagram often fail to deter kids from interacting with these platforms. “The age limit for most social media platforms is thirteen because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which was passed in 1998,” says Rohan Biju ‘23, leader of BUA’s YouTube Tech Review club. “COPPA restricts websites from tracking data on children under thirteen, which is why most apps do not want kids younger than thirteen to join.” Unfortunately, a recent report instigated by Thorn, an organization that works to combat international child abuse, claims that out of one thousand children surveyed internationally from ages eight to seventeen, 40% of the individuals under thirteen years of age already had access to either Facebook or Instagram.4 Because kids are getting more exposure to these platforms at increasingly younger ages, they are more and more likely to form habits of frequent social media usage that will follow them through their teenage years and into adulthood.

Researchers have also observed that some social media platforms have more of an effect on mental health than others, particularly when it comes to teens and preteens. Meta Platforms’ published Instagram investigation states that “social comparison is worse on Instagram,” whose primary focus, unlike other social media apps such as TikTok that focus more on video sharing, is on a person’s physical appearance and way of life.5 With posts on Instagram specifically reflecting everyone’s personal “highlight reel,” an unhealthy culture of comparison has emerged that has proved detrimental to teenage mental health, exacerbating depression and anxiety by creating impossible standards for beauty and lifestyle. An increase in suicide rates and rates for hospital admissions for non-fatal self-harm in teenage girls even seems to correlate with the point when social media first became available on mobile devices, increasing substantially since 2009. Compared with the average rate from 2001 to 2010, in teenage girls aged fifteen to nineteen, suicide rates saw a 70% increase after 2009, while in teenage girls aged ten to fourteen, suicide rates increased by 151%.2

Despite these negative effects, social media platforms are not entirely without positive value. Vicky Rideout, an advocate for children and families concerning social media, recently released a study on the ways social media can affect teens, which shows that social media platforms can have both positive and negative consequences to mental health. During her experiment, she interviewed a sample of teens. Although 17% of the teens reported that social media had the opposite effect and 40% remained neutral, 43% reported that social media increased their positive emotions.6 Unfortunately, the positive aspects of social media have been overshadowed by the negative health consequences of social media companies’ profit-oriented agenda. For instance, if these platforms defined their success based on user happiness instead, social media could have a more worthwhile and positive influence overall. The issue then becomes reconciling the commercial motives of these companies with more ethical behavior. In his article for the Harvard Business Review, Andy Wu, a professor in business administration, illustrates this issue with what he calls the “Facebook Trap,” arguing that the same networking strategies that made Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly Facebook) incredibly successful will now be the cause of its downfall.7 A more ethical approach, in combination with educating young users about the effects of social media, would be a step in a healthier direction. As Alvin Lu ‘23, co-leader of BUA’s computer science club, says, “I find the most effective way [to do this] is to teach children how to not let social media impact their mental health negatively. […] Proper education will definitely become more important as children use [social media] more often.” The education of children and teens to cultivate more awareness of these platforms’ motives and side effects could help to check social media’s negative ramifications. For social media to live up to its best purpose, that of uniting communities and strengthening global relationships, Meta Platforms, Inc. and similar companies need to balance making money with preserving human sanity.

1 Hayley Tsukayama, “Teens spend nearly nine hours every day consuming media,” The Washington Post, November 3, 2015,

2 Jeff Orlowski, dir. The Social Dilemma, The Space Program, Argent Pictures, and Exposure Labs, Netflix, 2020,

3 Caroline Knorr, “Parents’ Ultimate Guide to YouTube Kids,” Common Sense Media, March 12, 2021,

4 Katie Canales, “40% of kids under 13 already use Instagram and some are experiencing abuse and sexual solicitation, a report finds, as the tech giant considers building an Instagram app for kids,” Insider, May 13, 2021,

5 Bill Chappel, “The Facebook Papers: What you need to know,” NPR, October 25, 2021,

6 Anya Kamenetz, “Facebook’s own data is not as conclusive as you think about teens and mental health,” NPR, October 6, 2021,

7 Andy Wu, “The Facebook Trap,” Harvard Business Review, October 19, 2021,