Sunday, May 24, 2009

“What I Wish For…” - A Short Story Based on True Events

It was late at night and very cold outside. My mom told me we have to move out of our place by tonight or the apartment manager will call the police on us. I tried asking her where are we going to live, but she was too busy boxing things up around the apartment. I guess we have to move out because my dad lost his job about a month ago. Ever since then my parents have been arguing all the time.

Last week my mom found out that my dad lost his job because he kept calling off work, just so he could go drink and do drugs with his friends. So the next day my dad left and we haven’t heard from him since. I don’t really feel happy or sad about it. Ever since I was a baby I don’t remember my father being around. But when he was around he was drunk and always yelling. It wasn’t until these past couple of years that my dad started living with us on a regular basis.

I hate moving! I have already been to six different schools and every time I make a friend my mom tells me we’re moving. Not that I hate sharing my thoughts with you, but it would be nice to hang out with someone. I’m happy that my mom encouraged me to tell you how I’m feeling about anything. It’s like you’re my best friend I have so far.

Since we can’t afford to live anywhere, for now we have to sleep in the car, which at first was scary. My mom didn’t sleep at all because she would drive to different places, making sure that we were safe and that no strangers would bother us.

I really miss my grandma. I know she would have taken care of mom and me. My grandma and dad never got along. She hated that my father was on drugs and the way he treated my mom. One time my grandma sent us to Alaska, where she raised my mom, so we could hide from dad. But my mom was lonely, so we moved back to Nevada to go look for my dad. After that my parents got back together and I never heard from my grandma again. Later on my mom told me that grandma died.

My father always told me to never take drugs because “it will ruin your life.” I just wish he would have listen to his own advice. In four days I’ll be 11 years old. My dad was 11 years old when he started smoking pot. He always told me stories about his childhood. His father was mean to him and his four brothers. Whenever his brothers did something wrong, my dad would be the one to get hit. This is the reason why my father would never spank me. He said that, “It brings up too many bad memories.”

Finally we’re able to stay at a shelter for a few weeks. Hopefully we’ll find a home to move into, or maybe my dad will come back and help us. But for now we have to share a bunk bed.

Last night I wasn’t able to sleep, so my mom and I started talking. I asked her, “Why won’t dad stop taking drugs?” She said to me, “You have to realize Karen that we can’t stop your father from taking drugs. The only thing we can do is be there for him.”

My mom told me that when she first met my dad, before he was on drugs, he was a very kind and patient person. I wish I could have seen for myself what type of person my dad used to be before the drugs and alcohol.

She also explained that when a person’s on that stuff it’s like they become someone else, but in a bad way. I sort of understood what she was talking about, but not really. I don’t know what’s going to happen next for my mom and me. The only one thing I wish for is that someday my dad will come back a changed man.

Well, I’m kinda sleepy now so I’m going to bed. I’ll be going to a new school tomorrow. I really want to bring you with me, Lizzie. But I don’t want to get in trouble again for writing in my diary during class, so I’ll tell you all about it as soon as I get back. – Night, Night for Now, Love Karen.

Written by: Bridget Campos

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Modern Music’s Lack of Influence on Society

The real reason why music is becoming less meaningful.

There have been certain events in history that have made such a great impact on society. Because of these events, songwriters have been inspired to express about such things in their music. One of the most monumental examples was in the 1960s, during the social movement in America. Songwriters were inspired to write protest songs, about the civil rights movement and race relations, the Vietnam War, the generation gap, and the women’s movement. This in turn stirred people into action, as they became more involved in their community. Personally, I could just imagine what it was like to live during the 1960s, and having a chance to witness social movements that were inspired by the most influential artists around––such artists as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Who, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Sly & the Family Stone, the Doors, David Bowie, and Pink Floyd.

Yet, throughout the years, times have changed and so has music. Today’s popular music tends to focus more on catchy beats rather than meaning. It seems that people tend to enjoy music that focuses more on “clubbing” rather than on current events that affect the country, on a social level. Now I know there are certain songs that discuss how society, in general, is changing, like in the Black Eyed Peas song, “Where Is the Love?” But there are a very limited amount of songs that discuss current events in America, and why these things should matter to people. Mostly alternative and punk bands do this, but it would be nice if more R&B and rap artists would do so as well.

The only exception wasn’t until the year 2000. During that time, former President George W. Bush had been voted into office and soon afterwards on September 11, 2001, terrorists had attacked America. Soon after that, artists from all genres of music had banded together in protest against the Bush administration, the 9/11 attackers, and the war in Iraq. In 2004, rapper Jadakiss wrote a song, titled “Why,” that went so far as to accuse Bush of directly being involved in the 9/11 attacks. In the song's lyrics he asks, “Why did Bush knock down the Towers?” which is in reference to the World Trade Center that was in New York. This song was eventually banned on some radio stations and some of the controversial lyrics had been censored. When asked why he wrote this song, he stated, “I wanted to make a song that could appeal to a broader [group]-and not only the hood. I wanted to make something that would touch people at home in white America.”

Though some artists of this generation have been involved in creating protest music and anti-war songs, certain artists have felt their efforts are falling on deaf ears. It has failed to cause radical changes on society, when compared to the influential music of the 1960s.

But on a positive note, this proves that in a time of such devastating events, artists can come together to create unique music, that can influence society. However, some might wonder, why should such a devastating disaster, such as the 9/11 events, have to happen before artists realize that they should produce songs that are actually meaningful, and can in fact inspire people to get more involved in social issues.

In all fairness, we can’t blame all of this on artists alone for producing less meaningful music. A lot of it has to do with people just not being interested in these topics. It just seems as if some don’t care, or aren't even aware, of social issues affecting the country, much less the world. Back then people cared more about freedom of expression and equal rights. People now want to avoid controversial subjects and want to turn a blind eye, thinking that eventually the problem will be fixed on its own, and all they want to do is just party. They tell themselves, “I want to dance and get drunk to forget about my troubles. The bad things in life are depressing, so I don’t wanna think about that.” So artists give the people the music they want to listen to, because that’s what sells; it’s like everyone wins. However, celebrities in the entertainment industry, whether in music or movies, do have a moral responsibility and the strong potential to influence people, but some try to escape from this responsibility, focusing more on the light-hearted side of life and less on serious and controversial issues. But in life you can always turn a negative situation into something positive, which can influence people. It all depends on a person’s outlook on the matter.

In a commentary written by Tony Sclafani, titled “Hello Obama, goodbye meaningful music,” he stated that “unemployment is hitting record highs, the banking system is in shambles . . . what we need now are mainstream artists brave enough to be outspoken as they were during the previous administration’s reign [of George W. Bush].”

So, which up-and-coming artists will become a powerful influence for the next generation? Uh, so far it seems like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Hopefully these won’t be the only two options out there, but just maybe more artists will step up to the plate and actually turn music around, to once again become the powerful influence that it was before.

Written by: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on March 8, 2009

The Reason Why Today’s Popular Music Sounds the Same

Does today's songs really sound similar to each other? You decide.

It wasn't until after the year 2000 is when the quality of music had sharply declined, with the exception of only a very small amount of great songs and albums being released since then.

Some people blame this on all music sounding the same, because a majority of hit songs on the Billboard charts are pop songs. You might ask, what’s wrong with pop music?

Well, back then, pop music was in its own separate genre and was mostly sung by “boy bands”; teen idols, like Britney Spears, Brandy, Jessica Simpson, and Hilary Duff; including artists whose fan base are mostly teenagers.

Singer Michael McDonald said about pop music, “Many times the rules of play in pop music are, you know, dumbing down the audience, don’t give them anything they can’t understand or don’t give them anything different because they won’t be able to deal with that, they only want to hear what they’ve heard before.”

Some people do agree with McDonald, and consider pop music to be too light-hearted, simple, and repetitive formation in its lyrics and sound, so that an artist doesn’t have to have strong musical talent to make a pop song. As long as they have a unique look and sound, that’s what makes a successful pop artist. This is the reason why artists in other genres, like rock music, didn’t consider a pop singer to be taken seriously as an artist.

But that has changed. Now a majority of hit songs contain pop music. Alternative, rap, R&B, country, and some hip-hop songs have elements of pop music included in them as well. Rapper Jay-Z admitted to using elements of pop music in some of his tracks.

“I dumb down for my audience and doubled my dollars, they criticize me for it yet they all yell 'Holla,'" he said.

Pop music has definitely ruled the airwaves and is becoming more popular than ever. Why? Because most pop songs are upbeat and have catchy lyrics.

Initially, the word “pop” was used as an abbreviation for the term “popular music,” which was first created in the 1950s. Pop music tends to focus more on commercial success of a song or artist, and whether the artist will appeal to an audience. The main objective of pop music is to create songs that do exceptionally well on the charts and can make a large profit in sales.

This doesn’t mean that if an artist makes a pop album they are bound to be successful. In some cases it just doesn't work out that way.

Could this be one of the reasons why the sales of music have declined? It somewhat is, but there are other factors too. According to an article by Kourosh Dini, titled “The Lost Impact of Modern Music?” mentions several reasons for the decline of music sales. Some of the issues range from too much variety of artists, genres, and sub-genres of music; limited creativity from artists (as if their “well of creativity” seems to have dried up); people pirating music; over-compressed music; and the lack of music education taught at schools.

All of these are valid points, yet lack in strong evidence. But another factor of why music sounds the same can be attributed to successful artists using the same big-hit music producers.

Personally, I’ve noticed that artists are relying too heavily on such successful music producers, which include Timbaland, Dr. Dre,, Scott Storch, J. R. Rotem, Linda Perry, and Jermaine Dupri. I will give props to these producers, who have made very successful hit songs that have helped new artists in their careers and in some cases, have even attributed to certain artists making a comeback in their careers. However, this popular trend is causing songs to sound very similar to each other. Sometimes even hearing certain beats in a song, a person can immediately tell who produced the track.

The downside with artists, both new and well-established, following this trend can in fact inhibit them to “think outside the box,” and try to come up with their own unique, originality. If everyone followed the same path, of course things will seem the same, predictable and not standing out as different. Sometimes using big-hit producers can work as a double-edged sword for artists. Sure the sale of their record/singles will increase, but at what cost?

Since there has been a decline in the quality of music within this decade, perhaps in the next decade music will change for the better. We’ll just have to wait and see because only time will tell.

Written by: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on March 8, 2009

The Mysterious Link Between Depression And Being A Writer

Throughout history there have been several inspiring writers, one of them being author Edgar Allan Poe.

Around the world, Poe is considered to be the most inspiring writer; not only during his lifetime but also more than a century after his death. He was a famous poet and author. His works include “The Raven”, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, and “The Cask of Amontillado.” Most his stories were tales of mystery that contained gruesome and horrific details of death.

He greatly contributed to several genres, including science fiction. His work has influenced other famous writers and creative talents, such as poet Walt Whitman and film director Alfred Hitchcock.

Many of Poe’s stories had been made into films, such as “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, “The Raven”, and many others. In music, television shows, and even cartoons there have been references to Poe’s material.

During Poe’s life as a writer, many people had respected his work, while others had resented him and saw him only as a self-centered insulated, depressed person with a drinking problem and a troubled past. So this raises a question, is there a link between depression and being a writer? And if so, can this help inspire someone to write thought-provoking literature?

Before answering these questions we first have to look at Poe’s history. Even at a very young age his life was marked by tragedy with the death of his parents before the age of three. At the age of twenty his foster mother, Frances Allen, died of sickness. He had already developed a drinking problem when he was a young adult, but after the death of his wife, Virginia Poe, in 1847, that was caused by tuberculosis, Poe drank even more heavily and displayed increasingly erratic behavior. A year later, he attempted suicide from an overdose of pain killers. Days before his death, a man by the name of Joseph W. Walker had found him on the streets of Baltimore acting delirious and “in great distress and… in need of immediate assistance.” On October 7, 1849 at five in the morning, Poe was found dead. He was 40 years-old. Yet it is still a mystery as to what killed him. Some theorized it was because of alcohol poisoning, cholera, murder, rabies, or syphilis. Because of Poe’s mysterious death some people have become more interested in learning about his life.

Many of the tragic events that Poe had faced in his life inspired him to write several of his short stories and poems. According to an article titled, “Poe: His Creed and Practice of Poetry,” written by Killis Campbell, who is a Professor of English at the University of Texas, stated that Poe "constantly reflects himself in his work. For example, the death of a beautiful woman causes the main character to become grief stricken and then soon becomes insane; or his writing is reflecting that of the spirit world. Some of his poems are too near to being melodramatic and have a somberness of tone."

What about writers today? Are there some creative writers that have faced a difficult life such as Edgar Allan Poe? In the past we have seen many writers, singers, and other creative artists that had a trouble past but still made a great impact on society. Yet, some of them had taken their own lives because of suffering from depression. One example is of Kurt Cobain, who was the lead singer of the alternative rock band Nirvana. The band was the first to make grunge popular in the music scene.

Cobain had battled with a drug addiction. A few times he had attempted suicide and finally succeeded on April 8, 1994. Being the songwriter for the band, most of his lyrics were about suicide and killing another person.

Another example is of a famous literary writer named Ernest Hemingway. Because of suffering from a medical condition, he went through a deep depression and also had suffered from paranoia. This eventually led to him killing himself on July 2, 1961.

So what is the link between writing and depression? Well, according to an article in Time Magazine titled “Exploring the links between Depression, Writers and Suicide” by William Grimes, it mentions a statistic taken from Scientific American, which states that "Over half of the general population will experience two or more episodes of serious depression during a lifetime. But clinical depression among writers and artists is ten times greater than that among the general population. The incidence of suicide is as much as 18 times greater."

The article’s theory is also supported by Kay Jamison, who is a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. She stated, "The cognitive style of manic-depression overlaps with the creative temperament. Researchers have found that in a mildly manic state, subjects think more quickly, fluidly and originally. In a depressed state, subjects are self-critical and obsessive, an ideal frame of mind for revision and editing.” She continues by stating that, “When we think of creative writers we think of boldness, sensitivity, restlessness, discontent; this is the manic-depressive temperament."

But for many writers one the main reasons that causes depression is constant isolation from others. It is easy to become so consumed in your writing, especially when you have to meet a deadline, that you can forget about what is going on around you. This in turn can cause you to start becoming more withdraw from others and eventually lose interest in things you used to enjoy. Most depressed people suffer from insomnia and this soon affects their ability to concentrate. When a person suffers chronic depression they feel a sense of hopelessness and feel as if they are “empty inside.” This soon leads to thoughts of suicide.

Some people feel that drinking a lot of alcohol or using recreational drugs is not a big deal and they only do so to “calm their nerves.” The problem is that this does not help a person, but rather it makes their depression much worse. Keep in mind that when someone you know is constantly commenting about dying and saying things like “I want to end it all” or “No one will care if I’m not around.” Do not take these comments lightly but find that person professional help immediately.

So to answer the second question, can depression help inspire a person to write thought-provoking literature? Some people say that it can. In fact, most writers are inspired by what happens in their personal life. For some it is the way they interpret certain events in their life, whether they are good or bad memories. Writers can agree that they see their writing as if it’s a reflection of themselves. I’m not saying that you have to be a depressed person in order to be a good writer. But keep in mind that readers are interested in writers that are “real.” Meaning they want to relate with the author. Perhaps, the reader has felt the same way about the writer’s viewpoint or maybe experienced the same tragedy in their own life. The most effective writing is to write what you know. Write about what interests you the most. When you do so, the words seem to flow out more easily.

Though some of Poe’s writing material had glorified death, graphic violence, and murder, (which is probably the main reason why some people considered his writing to be unethical and morally offensive), but if you really pay attention to his choice of words and the way he expressed them so eloquently you will be able to appreciate the beauty of his work. This in turn will help you understand his style of writing that continues to inspire many writers for years to come.

Written by: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on February 16, 2009

When Talent is No Longer a Necessity in Hollywood

You don't have to be good to be famous anymore.

“Generally the whole entertainment business now is bland. It depends so much on gadgetry and flash now. You don’t have to have talent to be in the business today.”

A quote from the late multi-talented star Eartha Kitt, who was best known as the sexy Catwoman in the popular, late 60s TV series Batman. It’s sad to say but the legendary star was right.

It’s true that talent in Hollywood is becoming a rare but precious commodity for some celebrities.

Going back 50 even 20 years ago, for a struggling actor to make it in Hollywood sometimes having acting talent alone wasn’t enough. Actors needed to have a variety of talent, such as knowing how to dance, sing, model, and in some cases knowing how to tap dance was a requirement for some. Even with having all of this talent an actor could still have a difficult chance of making it in the business.

Now thanks to the internet, mainly the website YouTube, the chance of becoming an overnight sensation seems to be much easier than ever, regardless if you even have talent or not.

Back then if a person wanted to become famous they only had their “15 minutes of fame” and then afterwards were long forgotten.

Currently, people who see themselves in the limelight can now have their fame last much longer than before. Some can receive notoriety, which can make them even more popular or maybe during the aftermath of fame they can create a lucrative business out of it.

There are several examples of people that have done this in Hollywood. One that comes to mind is reality star Kim Kardashian.

She currently stars, along with her family, on the reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Ever since the success of the show she has been working in movies, done guest appearances on other TV shows, modeling, released a workout DVD, and is even planning her own perfume line.

Her career in Hollywood all started after appearing in a sex tape a few years ago with her then boyfriend, singer Ray J.

Is she considered a talented star? Well, just because a person is popular and is working on a variety of projects doesn’t make them a true talent. Though she's only been in a couple of films, critics have made negative comments about her acting. Last year she won a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress in the 2008 film Disaster Movie. America didn’t consider her to be a good dancer either. In 2008, during the third episode of the show Dancing with the Stars she had been voted off. Though Kardashian has had some success in modeling, she can’t really be a professional model because her height is only 5’2.”

Some might ask, if she is not really that talented why is she still popular? Oh, that’s right it’s because of her big ass! But seriously she is a mediocre star at best, yet she is treated like a trendy Hollywood star. That is the main reason why she is in all the popular celebrity magazines.

Some might argue back that the only reason why she was able to become famous is because she came from a privileged family. Her father, Robert Kardashian, was a high profile attorney that was part of the defense team during the O.J. Simpson trial. She grew up around celebrities and was even a stylist and personal shopper for certain stars, such as singer Brandy and Lindsay Lohan.

In some cases that is true, but not always. You don’t have to come from a rich family to make it in Hollywood. Look at the example of “Bikini Girl”, also known as Katrina Darrell, who became the main highlight of the 8th season on American Idol.

Even after the judges had voted her off the show weeks ago, people still talked about her. She has gained enough recognition that she has her own website dedicated to her fans, hoping that her current fame will help her further pursue a career in modeling and singing.

Another example is of "Octomom", Nadya Suleman, who is treated like a celebrity that is constantly chased around by the paparazzi. It’s a shame that her 14 children are involved in this media frenzy. So far the single mother has been making a profit from magazines for shamelessly promoting the recent birth of her newborn octuplets.

These are just a few examples that gives hope to people that want to be apart of the Hollywood limelight. It shows that you really don’t need talent to make it in Hollywood. As long as you have a look and/or a catchy gimmick attached to it (preferably having both is best) and can milk it for all it’s worth, you could definitely make it. Who knows maybe you can start your own clothing line or better yet get your own reality show!

Written by Bridget Campos

Originally posted on February 23, 2009

Taylor Swift - Fearless

Fearless was released in November of last year and is Taylor Swift’s second album, which followed after the success of her self-titled album in 2006.

Fearless had debuted No. 1 on several Billboard charts, including Billboard 200, Top Country Albums, Top Digital Albums, and Top Internet Albums. The album has even been successful in Australia and Canada.

So far, the album has been certified three times platinum and, since its release, it is the first album since Santana’s 1999 album, Supernatural, to remain at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 for ten non-consecutive weeks.

That is a pretty big accomplishment for the singer/songwriter, who is only 19-years- old.

All the songs on Fearless were written by the songstress. Most of the songs on this album are ballads that are about teenage love.

Though Fearless is considered a country album, it does have elements of pop music in it.

Some of the tracks, like “Tell Me Why,” “You’re Not Sorry,” and “Forever & Always,” are about relationships that have gone bad. In fact, the song “Forever & Always” is about Swift’s brief relationship with Joe Jonas from the Jonas Brothers, and was at the last minute added to the album.

The best songs on Fearless is her second single on the album, “Love Story”; her third single, “White Horse”; “You Belong with Me”; “The Way I Loved You”; and “Hey Stephen.”

Fearless is mainly for young teenage girls, but some older fans of Swift will like this album as well.

Most listeners, whether they are young or old, will enjoy the song “Fifteen.” The song’s lyrics sound like they were taken from a young girl’s diary. At that age, some experienced feelings that were up and down, being socially awkward or misunderstood, because of not fitting in with the popular groups in school, and experiencing breakups in relationships. But the positive side was developing close friendships, meeting your first crush, sharing your first kiss, and learning from your mistakes; all of which this album is about.

Though Swift is a country star and is now crossing over as a successful, mainstream pop artist, she still sticks to her roots in this album, not forgetting were she came from, as a young girl who grew up on a farm in a rural town.

With two successful albums under her belt, expect even greater success from this young star.

Reviewer's Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Reviewer: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on March 1, 2009

Leona Lewis - Spirit

Spirit is the debut album of Leona Lewis, the winner of the hit reality show, X-Factor, which is a British version of American Idol. Both shows were created by talent judge and music producer Simon Cowell.

Cowell believes that Lewis has the potential to be the next Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey or Celine Dion. After the release of Spirit in both the U.K. and U.S. in November 2007, Lewis has become an international star, selling over 6 million copies worldwide.

Spirit has a mixture of contemporary music, R&B, pop, and powerful ballads. One of the most popular tracks on the album is “Bleeding Love,” which was written by OneRepublic lead singer Ryan Tedder and singer Jesse McCartney. “Bleeding Love” became an international hit, and one of the best-selling singles of 2008. Just in the U.S. alone, the single has sold over 3 million copies. In 2008, Spirit was nominated a Grammy for Best Pop Album, while “Bleeding Love” was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Record of the Year.

In addition to the facts and figures of the successfulness of this album, several critics were impressed by Spirit. Other critics had mixed emotions about the album. They felt they didn’t experience the powerful ballads that Lewis displayed on the show, X-Factor.

Personally, I really liked this album. I wouldn’t say all the tracks are great, but there are more than half that are really good. Overall, Lewis sounds very similar to a young Mariah Carey in the early '90s, but also has a mixture of Whitney Houston’s powerful vocals with an R&B twist. There are four songs that I believe stand above the rest. The first, of course, is “Bleeding Love”; next is her second released hit single, “Better in Time.” Another is “I Will Be,” which singer Avril Lavigne co-wrote, and finally, “Take a Bow” – the beat reminded me a lot of Justin Timberlake’s song, “Cry Me a River.” Most of the songs are ballads, but there are a few songs that are upbeat with some electronic '80s style to them.

I would definitely recommend this album to Mariah Carey fans. If you have missed Mariah Carey’s style from back then, Leona Lewis will definitely bring back those old memories. After listening to this album, more than likely, you will become a fan of Leona Lewis.

Reviewer's Rating: 8 out of 10

Reviewer: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on January 18, 2009

Lisa “Left-Eye" Lopes - Eye Legacy

It’s been seven years since the death of Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes, who was the former member of Atlanta’s hottest hip-hop group, TLC. Lopes’s second solo album, Eye Legacy, was released on January 26, 2009.

Most of the songs on this album are re-releases from her first album SuperNova. The only difference is that the songs have been remixed and the guest appearances as well as the track titles have been changed.

Eye Legacy is much better than her 2001 album, SuperNova, which was never released in the United States and the international sales of the album didn’t do so well.

This album is worth buying for the hip-hop/R&B beats, especially for the track “Crank It” featuring Lopes’ little sister, Reigndrop Lopes. I like this song because it has a club-like sound to it.

Most people will enjoy the song “Block Party” featuring Lil Mama, because the lyrics are pretty catchy.

The song “In The Life” featuring Bobby Valentino, Lopes discusses about what her life was like growing up. She mentions her difficult life as a rebellious teenager and how she felt misunderstood by the media after becoming a famous rapper.

The best songs in this album are: Lopes’s first single “Let’s Just Do It” featuring TLC’s Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, and rapper Missy Elliott; the track “Spread Your Wings” featuring Free; “Bounce” featuring Chamillionaire and Bone Crusher; and “Legendary.”

Eye Legacy also includes a Bonus DVD that contains never before scene footage of Lopes’s documentary, The Last Days of Left Eye, which aired on VH1 in 2007.

The documentary was filmed in 2002 in Honduras, where Lopes had spent her last days on a spiritual quest for inner peace and tranquility. While filming a scene, Lopes and a few of her friends were involved in a car accident. Lopes was the only person that did not survive the crash.

A percentage of the proceeds from the album’s sales will go to the Lisa Lopes Foundation and to her orphanage in Honduras.

It is disappointing that most of tracks on Eye Legacy have already been released but just remixed so that they can be re-released again. But some people may not know this if you have never heard the SuperNova album.

Regardless of some critics’ negative comments about Eye Legacy, fans of Lopes will greatly appreciate this album.

Reviewer's Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewer: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on February 2, 2009

Rihanna - Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded

The album, Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded, is the re-release of the original hit album by Rihanna in 2007.

Reloaded was released in June 2008 and contains three new songs. They are "Disturbia," "Take a Bow," which was written by Ne-Yo and his Stargate production team, and “If I Never See your Face Again” featuring the band Maroon 5.

Good Girl Gone Bad was Rihanna’s third album and has become an international hit. Just in the US alone, over 2 million copies have been sold.

It was nominated for six Grammy awards, including Best R&B Song, Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group for “Hate That I Love You” featuring Ne-Yo, Best Dance Recording for “Don’t Stop the Music,” Record of the Year, and Song of the Year. The album won in the category of Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Umbrella,” which features rapper Jay-Z.

Recently, the album was nominated for three additional Grammy awards, including Best Pop Collaboration with Vocal for “If I Never See Your Face Again,” Best Dance Recording for “Disturbia,” and Best Long Form Music Video for the DVD of Good Girl Gone Bad Live tour.

This album has a mixture of trendy techno beats with some R&B and pop added to it.

It’s difficult to choose which song is the best because almost all the songs in this album are really good.

I like “Shut Up and Drive” because it has a bit of rock music to it. Also, Rihanna’s eighth single from her album “Rehab,” which Justin Timberlake had co-written and provided background vocals for the song, plus “Good Girl Gone Bad,” and “Lemme Get That.” In the track, “Question Existing”, Rihanna shows a vulnerable side of herself by being very candid about what her personal life is like after becoming famous.

If you have not yet bought the original album, Good Girl Gone Bad, I would definitely recommend buying Reloaded instead. For me personally, out of the three new songs in this album, both “Take a Bow” and “Disturbia” are worth it.

In fact, iTunes is no longer selling the album Good Girl Gone Bad, but instead has replaced it with the Reloaded version.

After selling more than 11 million copies of her latest album worldwide, it goes to show that Rihanna’s career has been permanently established and won’t be fading away anytime soon.

Reviewer's Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Reviewer: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on January 25, 2009

Mariah Carey - E=MC²

E=MC² is Mariah Carey’s 11th album release and the follow-up of her comeback album The Emancipation of Mimi.

Carey had chosen the album’s title as a wordplay to Albert Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalence formula. So the album, E=MC², stands for Emancipation of Mariah Carey to the second power.

E=MC² became Carey’s sixth number-one album on the Billboard 200 upon its release in April 2008, selling around 463,000 copies. It was Carey’s biggest opening week of sales of her entire career.

The album contains pop, R&B, hip hop, reggae beats, and gospel music. Most of the songs are upbeat with a few ballads. In some of the tracks, she talks very openly about her personal life. In the song, “Side Effects,” she makes mention of her difficult marriage to her then-husband and former Sony music executive, Tommy Mottola, whom she referred to as “sleeping with the enemy.” Also, in her second released single, “Bye Bye,” she makes references to her late father, Alfred Roy, who died of cancer in 2002. I really like this song because it sends a message that though a person may have lost someone in death, they will never forget about them.

Personally, one of the best songs on this album is “Migrate,” featuring rapper/producer T-Pain. I like the beat on this because it sounds like something you would hear at a club. Also, Carey’s first single released from her album, “Touch My Body,” which became her 18th number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, thus putting Elvis Presley in third place for having the most number-one singles of any artist of all time. She is now second to The Beatles, who have 21 hit singles.

So you may wonder is the album, E=MC², better than The Emancipation of Mimi? No, but it’s somewhat close.

For new Mariah Carey fans, they will like this album, but for some of her old fans maybe not so much. It’s just going to take some time getting used to Carey’s change of style.

But overall, E=MC² is a good album.

Reviewer's Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewer: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on January 25, 2009

Quarantine Movie Review

Another horror film that follows the same concept of The Blair Witch Project.

Quarantine is a horror/suspense film that is a remake of the 2007 Spanish horror film REC.

Quarantine was directed by John Erick Dowdle and stars Jennifer Carpenter, Steve Harris, Jay Hernandez, Johnathon Schaech, Columbus Short, and Greg Germann.

Reporter Angela Vidal, played by Carpenter, and her cameraman Scott Percival, played by Harris, are covering a report on the night shift of a group of firefighters at the Los Angeles fire station. Firemen George Fletcher, played by Schaech, and Jake, played by Hernandez, show them the daily routines at the firehouse.

Soon the firemen spring into action after receiving a call in regards to a medical emergency at a small apartment complex. When Fletcher and Jake arrive at the scene with Vidal and Percival, they are joined by two police officers who are waiting at the lobby with a group of concerned tenants. The 911 call was made after the tenants heard an older woman, Mrs. Espinoza, from her third floor apartment screaming hysterically.

Vidal and Percival follow every move of the firemen and police officers as they go upstairs to the woman’s apartment. When they enter the room, they find Mrs. Espinoza in the dark, wearing a nightgown that’s covered in blood. She is struggling to breathe and foaming at the mouth. At first she is calm, but then attacks one of the officers by biting him in the neck, causing him to bleed profusely. He is immediately taken to the lobby to treat his wound. When trying to leave the building to get some medical attention, the group finds out that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has quarantined the building. All exits are sealed and heavily guarded.

Soon it becomes evident that the other tenants are displaying the same symptoms like Mrs. Espinosa that are similar to rabies, only more fast-acting. Each person tries to figure out, what is this disease? How can they stop it? And why are the local authorities covering up the incident, and not helping them?

Assuming that they are left on their own, the few survivors try to avoid getting infected, while finding a way to escape from the building alive.

Quarantine uses the shaky camera technique that is similar to the movie Cloverfield. However, in Cloverfield about a third of the scenes were mostly in the dark, making it at times impossible to see what’s going on. But in Quarantine the lighting is a bit better, except in the very end of the film.

This is definitely a scary film, with lots of gory scenes that are not for the faint of heart. When you see Quarantine it's like Cloverfield meets Dawn of the Dead.

Quarantine is rated R and contains bloody violent and disturbing content, terror and language.

Reviewer's Rating: 6 out of 10

Written by: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on March 15, 2009

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Movie Review

A classic horror film that made a great impact on the way films are made.

This silent film was released in 1920 and was directed by Robert Wiene. It was one of the films that used German Expressionism. This artistic method had been used by the Germans following the end of World War I.

The story is told as a narrative by a young man named Francis, played by Friedrich Fehér. Francis is sitting at a park bench with an old man and recounts to him the terror that he and his “fiancée” Jane, played by Lil Dagover, had gone through. The story entails that of a deranged hypnotist named Dr. Caligari, played by Werner Krauss, that causes havoc for the townspeople at a mountain village called Holstenwall. During a carnival, he unveils to a crowd of spectators a sleep walker named Cesare, played by Conrad Veidt, who sleeps in a coffin-like cabinet. He claims that Cesare could predict a person’s future. But during the night, Dr. Caligari would have Cesare go out and murder people. These string of victims included Francis’ best friend Alan. Cesare even attempted to murder Jane but instead, kidnaps her and this leads the townspeople to chase after him.

The film’s ending has a twisted plot, which was the first to be used in a movie. In the opening frame, Francis tells the story as if relaying actual events that occurred by using constant flashbacks. But the ending of the film reveals that Francis was actually living in an asylum, and some of the people in his story were fellow patients and hospital staff. The films ending exposes that the story was all a delusion. Or was it? When Francis is put in a straitjacket he rants on that the “hospital director” is really Dr. Caligari. The doctor replies, "At last I recognize his mania. He believes me to be the mythical Caligari. Astonishing! But I think I know how to cure him now." It leaves the audience guessing about what happens to Francis in the end.

On the set of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, they used bold jagged designs and artificial landscape to fit the psychological and horror setting. It’s as if the director wanted the audience to see the world from narrator’s point of view. Not to mention certain scenes being shot diagonally to show abnormality to the scene. Also the visual effects, and color tinting of each scene to brown, green, purple, and rose added more of a haunting feel to the film.

Without this film, none of the genres of horror and psychological thrillers following it would have been the same. Famous directors, such as Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, and Tim Burton have copied the same type of plot elements that were used in this film. Despite the film being made a long time ago it is still scary. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari will continue to be one of the most influential and artistic film of all time.

Reviewer's Rating: 9 out of 10

Written by: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on March 15, 2009

RocknRolla Movie Review

RocknRolla is a British crime film that was written and directed by Guy Ritchie, who also directed the cult classic film, Snatch, in 2000.

The story’s plot involves a billionaire, Russian mobster named Uri (Karel Roden) who sets up a real estate scam that will generate millions of pounds. But when the mobster’s of London’s criminal underworld find out about this, they want a piece of the profit.

The story consists of an old-time mafia gangster, Lenny Cole, (Tom Wilkinson), his right hand man Archy (Mark Strong), who is also the films narrator, Uri’s sexy accountant named Stella (Thandie Newton), plus three small-time crooks called “The Wild Bunch,” who are: One Two (Gerard Butler), Mumbles (Idis Elba), and Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy.)

The story also involves a junkie-rock star, Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell), who faked his own death so that his record sales would increase.

Rapper Ludacris, aka Chris Bridges, and Jeremy Piven star in the film. They play as Johnny Quid’s former record producers, Mickey and Roman.

Most of the story line involves Uri’s “lucky painting,” which they never show. It reminded me a lot of the suitcase in the movie Pulp Fiction, where they never showed exactly what the content was inside of it.

To add to the story line, “The Wild Bunch” makes it a mission to find out who was the informant who put them, and some other people, away in prison for several years.

The film has some funny moments and the ending has a surprising twist to it.

In the beginning of the film it uses a lot of narration to try to explain what the story is about, which makes the movie a bit boring. Its narration is similar to the movie Casino.

It’s not until the middle and towards the ending of the film that the story line becomes more interesting.

Though the film did receive mixed reviews by critics, the films ending implies that their will be a sequel by stating the title, Johnny, Archy, and the Wild Bunch will be back in The Real Rock n Rolla.

If you are into gangster films that are full of action and has some comedy in it, than this is a movie you wouldn’t mind seeing.

RocknRolla is rated R and contains pervasive language, violence, drug use, and brief sex scenes.

The DVD was released on January 27, 2009.

Reviewer's Rating: 5 out of 10

Written by: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on February 1, 2009

Appaloosa Movie Review

Appaloosa is a western film that is based on a novel by the same name, which was written by crime writer Robert B. Parker.

The film stars Viggo Mortensen, Renée Zellweger, Jeremy Irons and Ed Harris, who also directed and co-wrote the movie with Robert Knott.

This movie is not your typical western film with tons of shoot’em-up scenes.

The 1880s old western scenario involves two friends, marshal Virgil Cole (Harris) and his deputy Everett Hitch (Mortensen), who are hired to defend the small town of Appaloosa from a rural gang, who’s leader is a murderous rancher named Randall Bragg (Irons.)

This film has a lot of dialogue with very few action scenes. Even though the movie was only two hours long, it felt like it was a three hour film.

Though there are some moderately surprising moments in the film, don’t expect Appaloosa to have the same action or drama similiar to past western films, such as Unforgiven or Wyatt Earp.

The movie does have some humorous moments when sometimes Cole (like a typical rural cowboy) would have trouble saying “big words,” such as "disparaging." Hitch, of course, would be right there to help him out in pronouncing certain words.

As mentioned in the film, Cole and Hitch go way back as gun slinging drifters, so you can really tell they have a close bond and that they always look out for each other. Nothing seems to break up their friendship, despite Cole’s new love interest named Allison French, (Zellweger), who at first tries to get in between their friendship but fails to do so.

The film’s ending proves how strong Hitch and Cole’s friendship really was.

I really enjoyed the chemistry between Harris and Mortensen.

The only problem I had with the movie was Irons’ character, Randall Bragg. Irons is a great actor and does play a pretty good villain in most of his films. However, in Appaloosa, I really expected more from his character, which wasn’t really impressive.

Appaloosa is worth seeing just for the acting alone from this ensemble cast.

Appaloosa is rated R and contains some violence, brief nudity, and language.

The DVD was released on January 13, 2009.

Reviewer's Rating: 5.5 out of 10

Written by: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on February 8, 2009

Eagle Eye Movie Review

Eagle Eye is an action-packed, suspense thriller that is directed by D. J. Caruso, who also directed the 2006 box office hit film, Disturbia.

The movie stars Shia LaBeouf as Jerry Shaw (LaBeouf also plays as Jerry's late twin brother, Ethan Shaw) and Michelle Monaghan as Rachel Holloman. These two strangers end up becoming fugitives after being set up as suspected terrorists. All of this happens after they both receive a phone call from a mysterious woman, who knows everything about them and tracks every move that they make. The woman, whom the two have never met, threatens their lives and the lives of their families if they don’t follow her orders. Each task ends up becoming increasingly more dangerous, and in the meantime, Shaw and Holloman are frantically guessing who this mysterious woman is and how she knows them. Soon, afterwards, Shaw and Holloman discover that they are involved in an assassination plot.

The film also stars Billy Bob Thornton, Rosario Dawson, and Michael Chiklis.

At first, the movie’s plot seems to be a bit confusing, because after each scene you’re asking yourself, what was the point of that scene? Or, what is the connection between Shaw and Holloman and why were these two chosen to complete this mission? It is not until the very end of the movie that everything seems to come together and starts to make more sense.

Eagle Eye does have some very suspenseful moments. Just for the action alone this movie is worth seeing.

Eagle Eye is rated PG-13 and contains violence and language.

*Movie Spoiler Included* After seeing Eagle Eye, the film’s concept reminded me a lot of the Will Smith film, I, Robot. But the only difference is that the intelligent supercomputer, Ariia, is programmed to follow U.S. government laws to a tee. But when her authority is averted by Shaw’s twin brother, Ethan, then Ariia does whatever she can to complete her task and will stop anyone that gets in her way. It’s strange how this computer claims to be following the law, but tries to cover its own wrongdoing. This proves that Ariia knew that what she was planning to accomplish was wrong but still wanted to complete it no matter what.

This concept of a supercomputer’s assassination plot would have worked much better in a futuristic/science fiction-like setting, like in I, Robot, but not in a modern setting like in this film.

Reviewer's Rating: 6 out of 10

Written by: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on February 9, 2009

Pride and Glory Movie Review

Pride and Glory is a film that fits the cliché of a police/family drama.

The film is directed by Gavin O’Connor, who also directed the 2004 film Miracle. The screenplay of Pride and Glory had originally been written in 1999 by O’Connor and his brother, Greg O’Connor, with the help of a New York police officer named Robert A. Hopes. When interviewed by Variety magazine, the director stated his intention for making this film. He said, “It’s a celebration of honest cops, which was everything my father was about. Though it is fictional, it is a homage to my father.”

In 2000, the film’s script was rewritten by Joe Carnahan. Pride and Glory stars Academy Award nominee Edward Norton, Golden Globe winner Colin Farrell, Noah Emmerich, and Oscar winner Jon Voight.

The plot begins with the murder of four New York City police officers that were killed in an ambush during a drug bust. The cop killer is the only one that escapes from the crime scene. With the killer on the loose, the Chief of Manhattan Detectives, Francis Tierney, Sr., played by Voight, wants his son, Detective Ray Tierney, played by Norton, to investigate the case by looking into the fallen officers precinct, which is run by Ray’s brother, Francis Tierney, Jr., played by Emmerich.

The further Ray delves into the case, the more police corruption is exposed. Soon, he finds out that the drug bust may have been more than what it seemed. The worst part is that it may have been covered up by his brother-in-law, officer Jimmy Egan, played by Farrell.

So this causes a dilemma for Ray. Does he expose the precinct's corruption? Or does he stay loyal to his family, which involves covering up the precinct’s wrongdoing?

Overall this film is not that bad. It does have a couple of scenes that are very suspenseful and includes a somewhat surprise ending.

In Pride and Glory, you will see the typical scenario of corrupt police officers versus the honest cop. Not much of the story line really stands out as being different. But if you are a fan of Edward Norton or Colin Farrell than you’ll maybe like this film.

Pride and Glory is rated R and contains strong violence, pervasive language, and some drug content.

Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 out of 10

Written by: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on February 16, 2009

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Movie Review

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is the third installment to the 1999 film, The Mummy.

The story takes place in the year 1946, just 13 years after the events of The Mummy Returns. The film stars Brendan Fraser as the explorer Rick O’Connell, Maria Bello as O'Connell's wife Evelyn, his son Alex, is played by Luke Ford, and Evelyn’s brother, Jonathan Carnahan is played by John Hannah.

The group's adventure involves stopping a resurrected Han (Dragon) Emperor, played by Jet Li, and his army from conquering the world. Originally, the Dragon Emperor of China along with his 10,000 warriors had been cursed by a double crossing sorceress named Zi Yuan. This curse caused the men to be encased in a pottery-like material, which caused them to become the Terracotta Army. Soon they were hidden away from society in the Emperor’s Tomb for over 2,000 years. But now that the Emperor has been awaken by the Eye of Shangri-La, which contains water from Pool of Eternal Life, he is now on a mission to restore his supernatural powers and finally, with the help of his army, bring order and greatness back to China.

It is up to the O’Connell’s along with the immortals of Shangri-La to stop the Emperor and his army from their impending conquest.

Brendan Fraser did a good job in reprising his role as Rick O’Connell. It’s a shame that Rachel Weisz didn’t reprise her role as Evelyn O’Connell in this film. There was a lack of chemistry between Fraser and Bello. This was definitely a miscast.

Though critics mostly gave negative comments about the film, it did do well in the box office making over $400 million worldwide. So more than likely there will be another movie. In fact, it is rumored that there will be three more "Mummy" films.

*Movie Spoiler Included*

The film’s ending implies that there will be a fourth “Mummy” film. The plot will involve mummies in Peru. There are rumors that the title will be The Mummy: Rise of the Aztecs.

Though the film’s story line is weak, it does have a lot of action and pretty good visual effects. This is a type of movie that you would enjoy seeing with the kids.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is rated PG-13 and contains action and violence.

Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 out of 10

Written by: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on February 22, 2009

Changeling Movie Review

A gripping drama from Clint Eastwood.

Changeling is a three time Oscar nominated film that is based on real life events in the 1920s.

The film was directed by Clint Eastwood, who also co-produced this film with Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Robert Lorenz.

The film stars Oscar winner Angelina Jolie, Jeffrey Donovan, Academy Award nominee John Malkovich, Jason Butler Harner, Colm Feore, and Michael Kelly.

The setting is in the year 1928 in Los Angeles, Ca. Single mother Christine Collins, played by Jolie, returns home to find her nine year-old son, Walter Collins, missing. Soon the case attracts media attention. Five months later, the Los Angeles Police Department tells Collins that they found her son in Illinois. A public reunion is organized and Collins anxiously awaits to have her son back. But the surprise ends immediately when she notices that the young boy is not her son. Captain J.J. Jones, played by Donovan, tries to avoid embarrassment from the media by insisting to Collins that the boy is really her son, and even pressures her to take the boy home to live with her.

Soon Collins diligently goes against the police department, with the help of Reverend Gustav Briegleb, played by Malkovich, to publicize the corruption of the police and how they went above the law to keep Collins quiet, rather than admitting that they made a mistake.

When you hear this story it's hard to imagine that these events really happened.

Jolie is absolutely stunning in this film and her acting is impressive, which is why she was nominated an Oscar for Best Actress for her role.

Jolie’s role in this film is quite different from her other movie roles. She usually plays as an empowering, independent, seductress-type of woman. But in Changeling, she comes off mostly quiet, modest, soft spoken, yet determined to find her missing son. Jolie really comes off as the underdog in this film.

Most people will enjoy the great acting from Jolie, Malkovich and Donovan in this movie.

*Movie Spoiler Included*

However, some might not be so happy with the film’s ending, because, like in real life, Collins never finds out what really happened to her missing son. Did he escape from the serial killer Gordon Northcott, played by Harner, or not? There is no final ending in this film, which does feel like a let down. But it does make you really sympathize with the single mother’s situation. When it seemed like she was about to get some type of closure, it failed to fall through. For some viewers this can feel frustrating, but this gave Collins hope that her son might still be alive.

Changeling is rated R and contains violent and disturbing content and language.

Reviewer's Rating: 8 out of 10

Written by: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on March 3, 2009

A Clockwork Orange Movie Review

The 1972 cult classic film A Clockwork Orange is considered to be one of the most influential yet controversial film of its time.

The film was directed by Stanley Kubrick, who also directed other controversial films such as Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, and The Shining. The film stars a young, twisted individual named Alex DeLarge, played by Malcolm McDowell. DeLarge's “droogs” are: Dim, played by Warren Clarke, Georgie, played by James Marcus, and Pete, played by Michael Tran.

Despite the film being rated X when it was first released; it was a success in the box office. It wasn’t until the film's re-release in 1973 that the movie’s rating system had changed to rated R. A Clockwork Orange was even nominated four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Critic’s view of the film was mixed. Some viewers had praised the science fiction-like film. Yet other critic’s didn’t see it as a film to be praised, but rather morally offensive because of the film’s graphic details of sex and violence.

In A Clockwork Orange the main character, DeLarge, did have an influence on the audience as the anti-hero in the film. Since then, this fictional character has had a strong influence on pop culture, and even in music of several genres, including punk and alternative. For some people, the movie had a negative, not to mention, violent influence on them, which caused them to commit crimes that were similar to scenes in the film. One incident occurred where a 17 year-old Dutch girl was raped in 1973 in Lancashire, at the hands of men singing "Singing in the Rain." Also, a 16 year-old boy had beaten a younger child while wearing a uniform, like DeLarge and his friends, made up of white overalls, a black bowler hat and combat boots.

Aside from the violent imagery in A Clockwork Orange, what’s interesting about the film is the story line. In the introduction of the film, DeLarge does all these bad things to people just for fun. He seems to live for violence, drugs, sex, and Beethoven- and at times, he enjoyed them all at the same time. After the experimental aversion therapy, what DeLarge enjoyed the most was now taken away from him. However, DeLarge is happy to turn his life around, since he is now “cured.” But afterwards, he ends up meeting the same people he harmed, which included his own family and “droogs” that end up turning on him. When they retaliate, he expects them to show mercy towards him because he is not the same person. This concept holds true to the old saying, “You reap what you sow.”

The only negative aspect of the film is the ending, which implied that viewers should feel sorry for DeLarge, because he was forced to alter his thinking in order to become a good person, which can be seen as inhuman. After the terrible incidents that occurred after DeLarge’s treatment, he ends up reverting back to his old ways. For him life would seem much better this way, because this is the way it ought to be from DeLarge’s point of view, which he now seems okay with. Because of this ending, some people could get the impression that if a person, like in DeLarge’s situation, changes to become a good person, the outcome can usually be in vain and can in fact have negative consequences instead. So a person might feel like what’s the point of changing their ways. So they may decide to give up and go back to their old ways with great anticipation like DeLarge did.

Reviewer's Rating: 9 out 10

Written by: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on April 5, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009

Aggression = A Born Behavior or is it Learned?

“My child can be so sweet and loveable. Then all of a sudden, they will lash out for no reason at all. I just don’t understand why?” For some households, situations like this happen. Some parents have to deal with aggressive behavior from their little ones and/or teens almost on a daily basis. Is there any way to cope with the problem?

Aggression is defined as causing intentional injury or harm towards another person. But in order to find out the solution we need to know what causes aggression. Many psychologists have several viewpoints as to the cause of aggression. Some feel that the behavior is born within us, like that of animals, resulting in a cause and effect as to why a person reacts in an aggressive manner.

Some may ask, is there any way to stop being angry? No, since as humans, we are born with emotions that make us happy, sad, and angry; it would be difficult to stop being angry all together. An article in Health magazine by Dr. Georgia Witkin-Lanoil explains, “As the brain reacts to an infuriating event, the autonomic nervous system is aroused. Adrenaline, released from the adrenal glands, begins to pour into the bloodstream, increasing heart rate and respiration, and stimulating the release of stored sugars for energy. Actions we take under the influence of our own adrenaline are often overreactions. We scream, hurl hateful semi-truths, hit, and damage, destroy, or leave the scene in a huff.” Therefore, it is an inward inclination to be angry over an event or something we have no control over.

But we have to keep in mind that people's level of temperaments varies, as some of us appear to be more prone to anger than others. Ones that display high levels of anger are teenagers. Some of them turn to violence in order to cope with family problems, or, are involved in gangs, drug abuse, and/or suffering from mental illnesses.

In addition, younger children can display high levels of violence. Most of the factors that contribute to such violence in children is from being exposed to actual violence between family members, or violence on television, which has increased dramatically within the past decade.

It can really test a parent’s patience to remain calm when their kid is acting out towards them. Nevertheless, the worse thing for a parent to do is antagonize their kid, as a way for them to answer you immediately, if you are sensing something happened with them. Just walk away and let them (or you) cool off a bit, then afterwards try to communicate with your child to see what the problem is, and maybe find a way to fix it.

However, if the child is still acting aggressive, sometimes professional help is needed. The least thing a parent should do is retaliate in violence as well.

Whether aggression is part of our nature or is a learned behavior, keep in mind, we can have control over our anger. The thing that separates us from the animals is that we have the gift of free will. There is a line between calmness and anger; it is our choice which one we want to choose when faced with a stressful situation.

Written by: Bridget Campos

Originally posted on May 4, 2009