The Strange and Insightful History of MOC
Dear MOC Readers,
I am not a journalist. When I first came to Buzzsaw, I knew that I wanted to write and get published in a printed publication. I came to Buzzsaw fresh off of my short one-year career as the fiction editor for my high school’s literary magazine. I came to Buzzsaw mostly writing film and TV reviews, so imagine my surprise when I broke out of that and started writing long-form feature pieces. Reviews were easy and short, but breaking out into articles became a foot in the door for me. At the encouragement of my editor and soon to be co-ed, Alex Coburn, I suddenly found myself as an editor of the magazine’s pop culture section. Who would’ve thought?
However, in my short time as an editor of the mag, I’ve had the pleasure of working with fabulous talented writers and journalists. I’ve been paying attention to pop culture more than I ever have before. In the editors’ goal for “Haircut,” I went back and looked at articles written by Ministry of Cool staff and contributing writers in the past.
A call for representation in the media industries– a topic that I’ve written about now several times over my short career at Buzzsaw– has been written about for several issues going back a little over five years. Samantha Guter, now a residence director at IC, wrote about the disparity of women in the film industry in “The Numbers” issue which was published in 2013: “Actresses aside, the number of women working in film is still disappointing; it’s still considered a rarity for a woman to work behind the camera as a screenwriter, cinematographer, or director,” Guter wrote.
Bryant Francis discussed the discrepancies in the portrayal of suicide in cinema in March 2010.
“Unfortunately, visual media, in many ways, fails to hold the realities of suicide up to the light. A 2007 study conducted by the Center for Suicide Research at Wayne State University highlights several obvious differences, for example women are less likely to be shown as suicide victims in films, but in reality they’re more likely to attempt suicide.”
I think many desire a call for realism and accurate portrayal to be shown in the content they consume, and not only this but for equity amongst the people who are telling these stories in general. However, the progress made has been slow and tedious. As we watch from afar, hopefully becoming the change we want to see in the media and pop culture, it’s painful to watch a film like Green Book win Best Picture. Celebrities are still selectively silent about injustice and sexual predators continue to be heralded despite the allegations around them.
With this in mind, it’s important to remember that pop culture is defined by trends– trends that have the potential to repeat or resurface. Later in this section, you will see how female rappers are currently being pitted against each other in a largely male-dominated field. We’ve seen this before; as the early female rappers who paved the way and changed the game for future artists often times strangely were feuding with other female rappers. Perhaps even the uglier parts of pop culture behave like trends as well.
In my deep dive into the 20-year long history of Buzzsaw, it’s clear to see that the Ministry of Cool section wasn’t always pop-culture centered. It’s also largely about culture; hopes and dreams for it, critiques of it, and observations of those living it. Brandon Guarneri wrote a piece about the oncoming demise of metrosexuality (I would preface this by making it explicitly clear that paying attention to how you dress is NOT a sexual orientation): “The death of the metrosexual will be tragic. No outside force will destroy it; no alien spacecraft or gigantic dinosaur with sharp teeth has pegged the metrosexual for annihilation. Actually, the metrosexual will destroy himself,” Guarneri wrote. The time was October 2005. Everything was different.
I think it’s fair to point out that perhaps the pop culture focus has developed over time. It’s hard to figure out where this started or ended, but our personal Buzzsaw archives only go as far back as 2005.
I think a focus on culture is still maintained in our current and more recent editions. The “.edu” issue is a pretty clear example of this, as it’s mostly about the cultures of higher education and the Park school. So then, let me say this: if this is the first copy of Buzzsaw that you’ve ever picked up, or you never really grasped what this section is. The Ministry of Cool section is about art, media, life, food, sex and above all else, culture. While this is the last edition of the semester, if you find yourself wanting to explore the complexities of the larger world around you, consider coming to us next semester. Whether it’s reviews, deconstructions, critiques, investigations, or something else I can’t think of, just know that Buzzsaw would love to have you so that twenty years down the line someone can find you interwoven into the magazine’s bizarre and amorphous history.
(Ministry of Cool Editor)
Mateo Flores is an overly sentimental sophomore Writing for Film, TV, & Emerging Media major who can’t wait to meet the new voices coming to Buzzsaw. You can reach them at [email protected].