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volume 1, issue 1

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Last month, the Brooklyn-based Hasidic newspaper Di Tzeitung published Peter Souza’s now-famous photo of the Situation Room following Osama bin Laden’s assasination. This would hardly be notable, if not for Di Tzeitung’s alteration: the two female members of the Obama’s cabinet, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Counterterrorism Director Audrey Tomason, were digitally removed from the photo. Di Tzeitung claims that its rabbinical advisory board will not allow it to print photos of women and that doing so would somehow violate their orthodox community’s standards for decency. So here lies the problem with journalism in the postmodern era: while it might be good, clean fun to paste a picture of The Situation into the Situation Room, others are using the same tools to alter the historical record. In response, small publications, especially high school and college papers, must report without excessive regard for politeness and instead embrace everyday language and images to report and reflect on everyday issues. While this is far from a radical idea, The Roep marks an attempt to honestly document, consider, and criticize life at Roeper in 2011, rather than build a false front, as most school papers do, that places the realities of this time and place at arm’s length. JG

from the editor

Roep
JUNE 2011

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content
WEEK IN REVIEW p.2 features SKINSMANIA p.3 CHARTWELLS p.6 ODD FUTURE p.8

face

JEREMY GLOSTER BEN KOCHANOWSKI KYLEE WEISS

contributors

EDITED & DESIGNED BY JEREMY GLOSTER

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Week In Review
illustration by Ben Kochanowski Late last Friday, a photo of (the unfortunately named) New York Representative Anthony Weiner’s boxer brief bulge was tweeted from the congressman’s account to Gennete Cordova, a woman who follows Weiner’s Twitter account. Weiner claimed that his account had been hacked, hired a lawyer to look into the matter, and hoped to move on. Yet in the week that’s followed, the issue has gone national, been dubbed “Weinergate,” and forced the aspiring Mayor of New York to say that he can’t say “with certitude” that the photo is, indeed, of his crotch. Perhaps the most bizaare part of this story is that Cordova, who has never met the congressman but once referred to him as her boyfriend over Twitter, has been accused of being Weiner’s mistress and forced to make her own personal statement: “I am not [Weiner’s] girlfriend. Nor am I the wife, girlfriend or mistress of Barack Obama, Ray Allen or Cristiano Ronaldo, despite the fact that I have made similar assertions about them via Twitter.” On Wednesday, it was announced that Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons will stand trial on August 3rd for killing unarmed protesters in protests earlier this year that eventually led to Mubarak’s resignation after 30 years of rule. If convicted, Mubarak may face the death penalty. The trial date comes as a result of thousands of protesters demanding that Mubarak be held responsible for his actions. Since Mubarak’s resignation, Egypt has been quietly run by Mohamed Tantawi and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, who is perhaps currently the unofficial leader of Egypt, was active in the January protests.

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Distribution of Knowledge in the Meme Age
by Kylee Weiss “Every time I see you, you’re doing something bad.” So says one character to another on the recent American remake of the British dramedy, Skins. This statement best encapsulates the show’s exclusive focus on all things narcotic, criminal, and sexual among its teenaged characters (and actors,) causing watchdog groups like the Parents Television Council to petition the Department of Justice to file child pornography charges against MTV, the network that airs the show. They do so, not only to ensure safe treatment of the show’s actors, but to censor material that they deem seductively inappropriate (inappropriately seductive?) for America’s youth. But is your average teenager really so easily influenced as to take the antics of a TV show for real-life conduct? While many parents watch Skins and see, at worst, children self-destructing with drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous sex, most teenagers instead recognize caricatures of modern teens’ self-styled Dionysian fronts – albeit frighteningly self-possessed and rational in their decision-making, armed with statistics on marijuana’s effects on the brain, ever-present wit, and a GPA unaffected by last night’s binge. (See also: Sebastian from Cruel Intentions, Charlie from Charlie Bartlett, and Declan from Degrassi: the Next Generation, Skins’ Canadian cousin, without as much of the bite.) Public forums for primarily young adult-exclusive discourse – a discussion that often responds to media’s representations of pertinent teenage issues – such as online message boards and social networking sites, have aided in the cultivation of most teenagers’

Skinsmania, Pt. 1
taking cultural depictions of teenage life with a grain of salt. The fact that the chief locus of high school and college kids’ communication with each other, as well as their major source of information, consists of the Internet lends itself to further understanding why many adults don’t share this particular viewpoint. While the sharp division between which generations use the Internet has greatly declined since the late-90s, an unofficial boundary still exists between the content encountered by each group. Almost any high school and college student in America could tell you what countless internet memes mean – images, words, or video clips accompanied by an unsaid, but understood concept, which circulate throughout the web incredibly quickly, like a virus (hence a “viral” video) or the original meaning of the phenomenon’s namesake, coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins to describe the transmission of cultural information. These memes sporadically originate via imageboards, microblogs, and vlogs as a result of an individual’s reaction to a random event, which other users exposed to it eventually imitate and expand upon, or of a collective reaction to a specific event by an online community, usually a network of microbloggers; e.g. Twitter users tweet while watching the 2009 Grammy Awards, witness Kanye West’s interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech, and immediately mass-initiate the “I’ma let you finish” meme.

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While most memes – perhaps, all memes – are inherently humorous, they also speak to the way in which youth approaches culture and discourse in 2011. We live, not only, in a post-racist and post-sexist world (that is to say, in a society in which racism and sexism are, relatively speaking, no longer endorsed by the law), but a post-politically correct, post-20th centurymeta-narrative world. This awareness and inheritance of the multiplicity of responses to historical social issues and developments, combined with the Internet’s omnipresence in teenage life, and the unlimited content it offers regarding said material– usually compiled in some kind of community-oriented website or blog, as all sites nowadays, thanks to YouTube, provide a space in which users can leave comments – has engendered in many teenagers an unconscious sense of ironic, intimate, and impersonal style. Addressing an issue that one feels vulnerable about through humor is nothing new; combined with the mediated communication and, with private blogs, anonymity the Internet provides, the humor specific to what could be called an Internet subculture gives young adults today an even greater opportunity to express personal thoughts or feelings, without the threat of visceral consequences (good or bad.) However, this sensibility doesn’t solely apply to personal interaction; it also characterizes the way in which kids “talk” about shared, everyday happenings, as well as broader social issues. An example would be using the Advice Dog meme, and its numerous spin-offs, to light-heartedly comment on everything from dating, being green, and going to school, to current events, politics, and literature. To those unfamiliar with this strain of meme, it consists of a random image overlaid on a multicolored background, with one line of text above and below it pertaining to its specific purpose. Advice Dog: “Scientology/The financial boost you need;” Hipster Kitty: “I donated to Haiti/Before the earthquake;” Joseph

Ducreux Archaic Rap: “I cast my flowing locks/From hither to thither.” Other memes, like Hipster Hitler, Trollface and its variants, and the relatively wellknown lolcat, as well as phenomena like Facebook Like pages, function in similar ways. Any and all cultural references are up for grabs; you can bring up anything, no matter how historically taboo it has been, so long as you make it funny. So, while not primarily engaging in in-depth discussions (which occur on the larger, personal blogging scale), most teenagers are, at least, keeping issues in the air. Sexuality is no exception; users of innumerable blogs, Twitters, Facebook pages, and YouTube channels devote themselves to discussing and exploring the topic, by posting informational studies, statistics, erotic photographs, user-submitted stories/questions, etc. The increasingly popular microblogging site, Tumblr, has over 6 million members, and has received over a billion hits; according to Quantcast and tomuse. com, 80% of its top blogs are “primarily devoted to sexual content.” When looking at the controversy surrounding Skins – 11 of its big-name sponsors having already pulled out in response – it’s hard to see what the fuss is about, compared to the much more explicit content available to youth online. The show depicts casual sex and recreational drug use, but hardly in a hedonistic way, devoid of meaningful context. It raises questions regarding the motives behind such acts, such as depression and emotional problems, family dynamics, and academic stress. However, America is notorious for censoring even “acceptable” portrayals of sex – between adults in a committed relationship – opting to go for the gore and violence rather than nudity or desire. Organizations composed of adults – like the PTC and FCC – enact this censorship.

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It’s significant to note that the writers and actors on both American Skins and the original series are in their twenties or younger. The latter’s cast cycles out every two years for new actors to take its place, in order to maintain the show’s sense of authenticity among its viewers. Skins’ young staff of writers ensures an abundance of current slang, in-jokes, and other cultural touchstones within its episodes. This is where the problem of a generational gap arises. Those born in the mid-‘80s and later have grown up in the Information Age, with virtually unlimited knowledge at their fingertips. Questions about sex or religion that previously went unanswered, or found their sole resolution in a parent, teacher, or priest’s input, can now be addressed by the individual him- or herself, searching the numerous viewpoints and data available online, which originate from countries around the world. This development of teenage opinions, no longer dependent on immediate family or culture, as such, has largely resulted in a break from the elder generations’ morality. For example, NPR reports that the number of American atheists has doubled since 1990, and peoplesworld.org states that, among youths, it has quadrupled. In the eyes of the PTC, Skins threatens to lure their youngsters into a life of sex-for-the-sake-of-sex and drug use. It’s assumed that these activities are inherently destructive. However, studies by the University of Louisville and the University of Iowa show that there is no direct link between emotional health, future prospects for relationships, and casual sex; rather, an individual’s religious, moral, and educational background decides how he or she reacts to short- (or long) term sexual relationships. In 2005, The National Center for Health Statistics reported that 44.5 and 51% of teenagers aged 15-19 had already had oral sex or intercourse, respectively. These figures point to something about which

many adults are still in denial: teenage sexual agency. Adolescence contains the beginnings of an individual’s sexual life. Curiosity, desire, and uncertainty meet in the lives of young adults, and rather than leave these issues unaddressed or suppressed, educators and parents could best hope to guide their kids through this period of questioning and exploration. However, this assumes that the adults in question would possess a knowledge of and attitude towards sexuality with which the teenager could agree, if her or she had awareness enough, from other sources, of alternative viewpoints, which is what often occurs. Rather than ban a show like Skins outright, perhaps a more productive response would be for adults and their children to actually talk about the issues that the show presents. However, such a clichéd, therapeutic method holds little weight in the real world – the dynamics of the parent-child relationship rarely provides an open-minded grounding for conversation, as a parent necessarily raises his or her child in the view of what is “right,” not to mention other factors like the healthiness of the family relationship or the teenager’s emotional state (re: moodiness.) Perhaps this underestimates both parties. As evidenced by the aforementioned NPR study, older generations have also experienced rather radical change regarding morality; let’s also not forget that some of them are the same people who advocated free love in the ‘70s (who knows what changed.) Teenagers, bolstered by the online, modern-day equivalent of the hippie, punk, or beatnik subcultures – unique in its total isolation from everyday-life interaction – and conditioned by absorbing immense amounts of information, while analyzing them as legitimate or not, may possess a sense of self required to understand their parent’s viewpoints, while simultaneously disagreeing with them.

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Chartwells stirs debate about nutrition and social responsibility
By Jeremy Gloster

Where’s The

Tater tots, mozzarella-filled breadsticks, and M&M cookies don’t really sound like foods that “establish the foundation for a longer, healthier life,” in accord with the Chartwells mission statement, but they are available every day around lunchtime, so long as you are willing to stand in the line in front of the street vendor cart stationed in the hallway. Chartwells, a catering service that has provided food to both Roeper campuses for the past three years, claims to provide nutritionally sound, environmentally friendly, locally grown lunch options to students and faculty, but those claims can be quickly proven inaccurate by anyone who has witnessed the exchange of a plastic bowl of “meaty mac,” macaroni and cheese mixed with meatballs, for cash. For this reason, junior Emma Kirby has fought to have the cart removed. As a member of Sierra Club, Kirby thought that finding environmentally friendly lunch options would be a “sensible goal” for the club to pursue. She eventually looked into Chartwells’ policies independent of the group, and determined that Roeper should hire a different service. “It’s clear that Chartwells’ record isn’t a good fit for Roeper,” she says. “Chartwells’ foods come from companies like Monsanto and Tyson – companies we all know have unethical practices – and for some students, Chartwells is

currently the only option.” Sierra Club advisor Laura Panek is also unhappy with the service’s offerings. “My concern with the current program are that the majority of the foods being sold are ‘empty calories’ high in fat, sugar and/or refined carbohydrates,” she says. “We are providing foods that do not help students learn and are not healthy. I believe that Roeper's philosophy requires us to pay attention to the physical health of our students along with their emotional and intellectual health.” Chartwells is a subsidiary of the Compass Group, a multinational corporation known as the largest foodservice provider in the world and for its involvement in a 2006 United Nations contract scandal. Compass paid $1 million to two UN procurement officers in exchange for a contract to provide food to UN peacekeepers. Compass’ CEO at the time, Michael Bailey, ultimately resigned under pressure. Chartwells has effectively veiled itself as a grassroots group, setting up websites riddled with Web 1.0 graphics for the schools and corporations it serves, while using its sleek official website (eatlearnlive.com, notably excluding the Chartwells moniker) to advocate its food philosophy. The Roeper lunch service website even refers to Chartwells as a “national organization,” instead of a “multinational corporation.”

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(Eco) Beef?
According to a 2010 article in the Washington Times, Chartwells earned $289 million over an eight-year period with the Chicago school system and $140 million from Washington DC schools over five years. The lunch program has been particularly controversial in DC since its inception in 2008. Former DC schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee hired the service in an attempt to save money by privatizing DC’s school lunch program and to provide students with more nutritious meal plans. Since then, it has been the object of criticism of everybody from DC public schools food director Jeffrey Mills, who complained about having to “police” Chartwells to prevent them from selling certain products, to the Washington Times, which published an article detailing lapses in Chartwells kitchens that caused student illnesses, to a DC blogger who wrote a six-part series documenting the workings of a Chartwells kitchen. At Roeper, progress is being made, if slowly. Last month, Upper School director Lisa Baker and Head of School Randall Dunn organized a meeting among Chartwells representatives, cashier Pete Pierce, Biology teacher Laura Panek, Forensics teacher Dan Jacobs, and Kirby to discuss nutritional lunch options. As a result of that meeting, Chartwells will keep its contract with the school for the 2011-2012 school year, but will probably sell different lunch options. “When we contract with a business, the level of responsibility goes up,” Baker says. “The first question is ‘what are you bringing in’ and then ‘what do you do as an organization’?” Baker, whose ideal lunch program would be provided by an environmentally conscious local business ran by a Roeper alumnus, acknowledges that the current lunch program could serve more nutiritious foods. “I’ve been known to scamper upstairs to buy lunch,” she says. “But has that ever been the healthiest option I’ve had in a day? No.” Though Baker says that the school is “pretty close to coming to some tangible decisions” about food service at Roeper, she is hesitant to change the lunch program without student support. Baker mentioned the issue at a May assembly, noting that “vending may change,” and calling for student feedback. “I would love to see things move faster, but I am happy that we are having meaningful conversations about our responsibilities to our students,” Panek says. “I have to say that if we start next year with no plan and no changes that I would be very disappointed.”

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live review:

ODD FUTURE KILLS

by Jeremy Gloster

DETROIT

The rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All’s (from herein OFWGKTA or Odd Future) May 16th show in Detroit didn’t end with a typical backslapping, crowd-pleasing encore set, but with the “vice president” of their crew lunging into the crowd and beating up an audience member who had been throwing glass bottles at the stage. Bouncers extracted Hodgy Beats from his victim, while the group’s leader Tyler, the Creator led the rest of the group off the stage, and the audience spilled out of the Majestic Theater onto the street, where a fistfight erupted in the middle of Woodward Ave. Yet no matter what happened, the Odd Future show in Detroit was bound to be an event. The crew, which in Detroit consisted of five of eleven affiliates, is composed of Tyler, the Creator, Hodgy Beats and Left Brain (the duo, when together, form MellowHype), disc jockey Syd tha Kyd and Def Jam signee Frank Ocean. The show was one of only seven dates of an East Coast mini-tour in celebration of the release of the crew’s first official album, Tyler’s Goblin. The group had sold out the Magic Stick within a day, and then sold out again when the show was moved to the Majestic Theater, a venue roughly five times the size of the original location. On record, Tyler and the gang rap over beats that are at once effervescent and viscous, plodding and anxious, a sort of sonic purple drank. Some backdrops, particularly MellowHype’s “Fuck the Police,” are clearly influenced by Waka Flaka Flame’s austere, plosive production, but most have more in common with the druggy, reverbladen beats of Lil B, the Bay Area rapper and self-proclaimed “based God.” Yet the crew is garnering attention from The New York Times, The Guardian, and The New Yorker not for their woozy production, or for the fact that all members are between 16 and 24 years of age, but for their grisly lyrics, often a cocktail of rape fantasies and slasher movie posturing. Lyrics like “lost an erection and found it in an aggressive nun” are gruesome, misogynistic doodles that show that the group, lyrically speaking, has more in common with the band of droogs in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange than the Wu-Tang Clan, a common but lazy comparison, or the complacent stoner rappers (B.o.B., Wiz Kalifa) that currently dominate the charts. Which is sort of the point. Odd Future has excelled, through its mixtapes and unofficial albums, in creating distance between the private and public lives of its members, even while pointing to their fatherless upbringings as the root of their collective misanthropy (see: Tyler’s debut,

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Bastard). One only has to scroll through the Golf Wang photo diary (golfwang.tumblr.com) to see that the offstage life of an Odd Future affiliate isn’t the life of a gangster, but that of a jokey youth who engages in shenanigans no worse than skateboarding on private property and engaging in slapping contests, usually before the streetlights come on. It’s this combination of personas that had fans lining up outside on a cold Monday night, some after driving hours to Detroit. The group rewarded their crowd’s efforts by opening with “Sandwitches,” the song that the group performed on Jimmy Fallon’s late night talk show and first won them a sizable fan base. A DJ set by Syd preceeded the performance, but a new energy seized the venue as soon as Syd sent the menacing beat to “Sandwitches” through the speakers. Tensions dissipated; distracted, swaying people became possessed, clamoring toward the stage. Later, the crowd’s recitation of “Yonkers,” the first single from Tyler’s second full-length album, nearly eclipsed the version that was being performed on stage. Tyler can typically be spotted wearing a button-down shirt, a Supreme brand baseball cap, Ray Ban clubmasters, shorts, and athletic socks pulled to his knees. Yet on that Monday night, he walked on stage in an oversized white t-shirt, perhaps a nod to the closing lines from the title track from Goblin, which had come out less than a week prior: “The devil doesn’t wear Prada/ I’m clearly in a fucking white tee.” So instead of a cartoon character, he looked more like a mainstream rapper, especially when the tee came off near the end of the show, in an effort to physically intimidate the glass-throwing hecklers. As the “Yonkers” video testifies, Tyler is absurdly muscular for his lanky build. Whether or not Tyler will be able to maintain both muscularity and vulnerability will be his challenge. His evolution over the past year can already be seen in his music. Goblin forfeits much of the fun (and gross-out imagery) of Bastard, in favor of (mock) introspection. Much of the album is composed and considered, almost to a fault. For many fans, the feeling that Odd Future could come off the rails at any moment is part of the intrigue. The weekend before the Detroit concert, Tyler was arrested in Los Angeles for playing a surprise show at a high school, and a few days after the show in Detroit, Odd Future forced the police to shut down Newberry Street in Boston when swarms of people stopped to watch them roughhouse on the roof of Newberry Comics. But it doesn’t matter if crew members go on to have lasting careers or burn out before the end of 2011 because, in a year, they’ve already accomplished their goal: breaking rules is cool again.

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