Daily Cal A&E staff recommends uplifting art for the post-election season

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Phillip Downey/File

The days following Donald Trump’s presidential election have been an overwhelming whirlwind of feeling, action and, more often than not, distress.

Amid the nonstop news cycle surrounding Trump’s looming presidency, and the onslaught of political vitriol and violence put on display by a newly-emboldened segment of the electorate, it’s essential to step back and heal. Cope and thrive by binge-watching “Gilmore Girls” for the hundredth time or going to the theaters to watch “Arrival” and “Moonlight” to have your faith restored in humanity, at least for a moment in time.

Certainly, consuming art is an imperfect salve — a solution that can’t heal the broader systemic injustices that the marginalized communities who are most heavily affected by the vile rhetoric of the Trump campaign. But art is political. Art is essential. And art, more than ever, is necessary.

These are trying times. Self-care and self-love might just be the only thing that we have to cope with the four years ahead of us.

There’s purpose in checking out. There’s value in disconnecting. Escapism can be the most essential form of self-care.

Here’s how some members of the Daily Cal’s A&E department are finding solace during this exhausting week. Brace yourselves, and take heart: At the very least, we might be at the start of a revolution. The art that takes shape through it all will lead the way.

— A&E editors Joshua Bote and Levi Hill

The films of 2016 have been incredibly powerful, relevant and necessary. As I watched the three following films over the past month and a half — and in thinking about them this week — I remembered that stories can be what bring us together, that stories can offer solace and even hope in tough times.

“Arrival”

Among this time of polarization and mass divide, “Arrival” offers optimism in what humanity can accomplish when it simply communicates. Whether that be between a linguist professor and an army official, government officials across various nations or even beings of separate worlds, we can do so much good when we take the time to understand each other."Arrival" | Paramount Pictures Grade: A

“Moonlight”

The rhetoric of this election season has caused a depressing fear in groups that that rhetoric targeted. But despite that, we know of the power in each of them and “Moonlight” showcases just that — following the story of Chiron, a young gay Black man, as he explores his sexuality and masculinity. The film is subtle, quiet and tender, but it results in quite possibly the most profound and uplifting impact of recent memory — especially in the current state of the world.

“Desierto”

“Desierto” offers a near direct commentary on the times and a frightening possible result of the language used over the past year and a half. But the real message of the film is about the drive and heart of Mexican people just trying to find a better life. It is certainly not for the faint of heart, and perhaps sickening and deeply sensitive after the election, but the light at the end of its tunnel shines bright.

— Kyle Kizu

 

I almost skipped watching the results. I was confident — naively optimistic that humanity cared about people like me. I was excited and ready for us to continue the progressive trends we’ve made. But with one click on the live results, I lost my breath.

My jaw dropped and words were hard. I was in disbelief. Then I was angry. Now I am sad, but I’m on the way to acceptance.

I didn’t know what to say that hadn’t already been said. I struggled to find relief through humor, but there was nothing funny about the fear that swallowed me whole. So I put my headphones in and forced myself to keep breathing.

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I listened to artists that turned my anger and frustration into something more tangible. I listened to songs that turned the ugly into something beautiful. I listened to music that wrenched out the tears I suppressed and lifted some of the weight that held me down.

  • “Power” — Kanye West
  • “Rise” — Solange
  • “Lifting Shadows” — Oddisee
  • “War Ready” — Vince Staples
  • “Windows” — Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment
  • “Let it Be” — Dyme Def
  • “Good Day” — Nappy Roots

— Ilaf Esuf

I’m re-watching the CW’s TV series “Jane the Virgin,” which is currently in its third season. The show has a heart of gold, and all the crazy plots — evil twins, underwater kidnappings, overblown love triangles — are a perfect distraction right now. Most importantly, Jane (Gina Rodriguez) has the most infectious smile I’ve ever seen.

“JtV” is also a show about Latina women, and the three main characters — Jane, her mother, and grandmother — seem to teach each other and the audience a lesson in compassion in every episode.

— Sarah Goldwasser

This election is like a nightmare. Donald Trump is our president-elect — the same Donald Trump who once hosted “The Apprentice” and said, “All of the women on ‘The Apprentice’ flirted with me — consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.” Yes, that same chauvinist, is about to hold our country’s highest position of power.

I dream of a future free of Trump’s racist, sexist and xenophobic beliefs. I dream of a future in which the U.S. progresses instead of relying on the past to “make America great again” (spoiler alert: America has always been deeply flawed). Simply put, I dream.

The only dreamer who can match my own aspirations? Dr. John “J.D.” Dorian (Zach Braff) of the hit medical sitcom “Scrubs.” With his constant daydreams offering a mental break from the debilitating reality of a hospital, J.D. and his hilarious antics offer a hopeful glimpse of how those who did not vote for Trump can cope with his tenure as president. The show offers light in an environment that is surrounded by darkness and asks its audience, “Who can tell (us our) fantasies won’t come true, just this once?”

“Scrubs” turns a nightmare into motivation for securing a better tomorrow.

— Sanjay Nimmagudda

I’m coping by quitting this election cold turkey. I desperately want to avoid the news of the next four years, only emerging from my hermetic bubble to vote in the midterms. Keeping me company are some of my favorite “globalist” books: John Kennedy Toole’s “A Confederacy of Dunces,” Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” and Tomás Rivera’s “…And the Earth Did Not Devour Him.”

Toni Morrison

Besides featuring a cast full of marginalized communities in an election where, yet again, these communities’ well-being is disregarded by the electorate, they’re also all great reads. “A Confederacy of Dunces” is a laugh-out-loud romp through the diverse city of New Orleans, with almost every community skewered with Toole’s deft comedy. “Beloved,” on the other hand, delves into the life of Sethe, a woman haunted by what might be the ghost of the daughter she killed to prevent her recapture by her owners. It’s an extremely moving work, to be read only with plenty of tissues nearby. Finally, “…And the Earth Did Not Devour Him” is a cycle of short stories portraying the lives of Mexican-American migrant workers. Rivera’s stories are poignant and quietly tragic, and hopefully remind us that the President-elect’s vision of that community is not supported by reality, back then or at present.

— Adesh Thapliyal

As a queer person of color, I have never been more heartbroken and disappointed to live in a country where we have a KKK-endorsed president-elect who is a questionable businessman and a former reality television star.

To cope with this gloomy election, I have mentally decompressed by binge watching “Chewing Gum.” A British television sitcom, “Chewing Gum” centers on the quirky life of Tracey Gordon (Michaela Coel) and her hysterical conquest for erotic liberation. With only six half-hour episodes in its first season, “Chewing Gum” has served as a hilarious distraction from the world and has helped revive my sense of happiness.

— Jordan Joyner

I called my mom to talk about the election and she told me that our Republican neighbor voted for Donald Trump. I’ve known this guy for my entire life and I love him. I know he has a lot of conservative ideas that I don’t agree with, but I didn’t think he was the kind of person who would actively support somebody like Trump.

 

We live down the street from this neighbor and I don’t know what I’m going to do when I go home at Thanksgiving and bump into him on the sidewalk. Instead of thinking about it and crying a bunch, I’m watching a lot of “Bob’s Burgers” because it’s really dumb and I need to consume something mind-numbing while crying a tad.

— Olivia Jerram

Watching the election results come in Tuesday night at my friend’s house, my head buzzing from getting a little too enthusiastic with the amount of whisky I’d poured into my ginger ale, what had been a fun excuse to go out on a Tuesday was quickly descending into the unimaginable. I still don’t think I’ve really progressed past the “denial” stage of Trump grief.

In between signing petitions for the electoral college to not vote for him and repeatedly googling things like “can the electoral college please for the love of God stop this,” I’ve been burying myself in escapism — “Gilmore Girls,” specifically. The quaint, adorable small town happenings of Stars Hollow allow me to focus on whimsical winter carnivals and the trivial relationship drama of 17-year-old Rory (Alexis Bledel), utterly removed from politics, instead of the war zone that is any form of social media right now. But I can’t hold off reality for too long — rapidly increasing reports of hate crimes post-election are not something I can ignore. It’s time to stand up.

— Madeline Wells

 

Contact the Daily Cal Arts Staff at [email protected].