A Beautiful Re-imagination

Beauty and the beast - @ChineseTheatres
Credit:@ChineseTheatres

A tale as old as time, the “Beauty and the Beast” remake of 2017 is a beautiful live action film that brings elements from the original animation to the table while incorporating its own spin. Not only as a remake of a Disney classic, but with major actress Emma Watson as Belle, and actor Dan Stevens as the Beast, the movie sets itself up for popularity before it was ever even released. Since its release on Mar. 17, the film has brought in 392 million dollars and has a 70 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.  

Our princess, Belle, is a relatable and charming character that Watson brings to life. In an interview after the movie was released, Watson said that this was her first full blown musical. While she isn’t known for her singing, Watson did a decent job with the music and the film had many of the recognizable songs from the original animation.  

The movie begins by telling the short story of how the prince was turned beast, then continues to bring us the story of Belle, a young woman with a love for books and art. When taken captive into the Beast’s home, she quickly finds herself making friends with the other residents of the castle, and, unsurprisingly, running into trouble with the Beast.  

The cinematic charm of Beauty and the Beast was beautiful, and the use of CGI was moderate but still well done. Other live action Disney remakes, such as the “Jungle Book,” which almost entirely utilized CGI were commended for their tactics. “Beauty and the Beast” was no different.  

The musical numbers were great, although some felt a little out of place. They added new songs from the original and kept many of the classics, and as mentioned previously, Watson has a wonderful singing voice. It’s obvious that she’s not a professional but she still did a lovely job.  

The best part of “Beauty and the Beast” was the nostalgia that it brought to the vast majority of viewers. The original animated version of “Beauty and the Beast” was released in 1991, making most of the people who mark the classic as part of their childhood in their mid-twenties or early thirties. This definitely helps the reviews and makes people love this remake even more.  

Leading up to the release of “Beauty and the Beast,” there was mild controversy over the inclusion of a gay character, LeFou. It caused a theater in Alabama not to show the film and quite a few parents to ban their kids from watching it. The character is seen dancing with another boy near the end of the movie and is seen as a joke through most of the film.  

Others are mixed on how they feel about the attempt of representation. It’s divided as to whether this was a progressive move for Disney or a cheap move to get the views of the LGBT community without doing any real justice to the character.

There certainly needs to be some real representation, but for Disney, any step is a good step.  

Despite this controversy, “Beauty and the Beast” didn’t take even the slightest hit in the box office and two weeks after release continues to thrive.  

The filming, music, familiar story line, and new twists makes the magic of this movie worth the while. It’s not an exact replica of the animation but remains faithful to the story. The beloved characters, Belle and the Beast, and all the trapped inhabitants of the castle, continue to capture the hearts of many, from animation to live action.

Police Brutality – The Problem

As portrayed in the media, gun violence in America is largely attributed to race and connected with police officers. According to data compiled by The Washington Post, approximately 957 people were shot and killed by police officers in the United States in the last year. Although that number of deaths decreased by 36 from 2015, the repeated killings of black men has raised a serious question about law enforcement tactics and race in America.

Countless fatal shootings have sparked national interest and debates on whether or not the brutal shootings had a direct link to racial prejudices against blacks and other minorities.

Examples of victims include Alton Sterling, Samuel Dubose, Freddie Gray, Laquan McDonald, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Tony Robinson, with these men making headlining news. Also, their incidents raise the question of whether or not race had any contributing factor to their demise.

Interestingly, data shows that police officers killed twice as many whites as blacks in 2015 as reported by The Washington Post. Also, data compiled by The Washington Post records 48 percent of victims who were attacked by fatal police shootings in 2016 were white, while 24 percent were black victims. However, one may argue that these statistics do not take into account that there are more whites than blacks in the overall population. In fact, the national population consists of 62 percent white and 13 percent black. These statistics show that, in America, a higher percentage of victims are black; as indicated by The Washington Post’s database, unarmed black men are more likely to be killed by a police officer than an unarmed white man.

But this also proposes the question: why is it that law enforcement resort to using armed forces?

Professor Joseph Cillo, assistant professor of criminal justice on the University Campus, suggests that law enforcement can be trained “to use their powers appropriately.” Nevertheless, gun violence seems to be a major problem in America. In fact, according to thetrace.org, more than twice a day, someone under the age of 18 has been shot and killed due to gunfire.

Cillo believes that Trayvon Martin would be alive today, if Zimmerman did not have a gun. In fact, Cillo suggests that even though the second amendment constitutes the right to bear arms that guns or any weapon should be used only to maintain an orderly militia.

“The possession of a weapon gives falsified security. It gives one a false sense of power and once one is in possession of a gun, one is more likely to use it,” said Cillo.

Yes, many people do believe that guns are used for self-protection. And, according to The Washington Post, more police officers are likely to shoot first before being attacked. However, this calls into question the police officer’s judgement, did they shoot in fear of self-harm or did they shoot out of having power because of a gun?

Still, it is the duty of law enforcement to serve and protect, so instead of scolding them for their actions, there should be implications put towards proper training on how to guide officers.

“People have ethics. Once it is not illegal, unmoral or unethical, that’s the litmus test. That is the way they judge everything, by the bell, the book, and the candle. The Bell, does it sound right; what every action one is going to take, does it sound right? The book, does it violates any rules regulations or law, and, Candle, how does it is going to hold up in the light of day, that is how we are supposed to guide officers,” said Robert Diemer, director of Graduate Studies in Criminal Justice on university campus.

Now, the media plays a very important role in relaying current and up-to-date news, but they also put a negative spot light on law enforcement, as Cillo emphasizes that in actuality bad news sell better and quicker than good news. Cillo also states that although police does not do everything right, they shouldn’t be the primary focal point of why society is wrong. In fact, Cillo suggests that we should widen the scope, not focusing solely on brutality from police but violence from a society as a whole.

“So you tell me, on a daily, weekly, hourly basis, that you would react instinctively in a manner which would please a diverse population? Will it please a million,” said Cillo. “Are we a violent species? Does law enforcement have an obligation to control that tribal urge we have? They work every day in the street and see the worse of the worse.”

Cillo makes a point that police officers are, in fact, humans, who are violent as species, and are surrounded by emergency circumstances and have to react instinctively and that should be taken into consideration and not out of context. However, Cillo does say there are occasions where law enforcement violates the rights of others and they should be treated no differently from anyone else who violates the law.

However, as Cillo said, there is not simply a problem with police brutality but violence as a whole, as evident by the gang violence as seen with the crypts in LA as Cillo pointed out, acts of terrorism, such as the 9/11 attack, that Cillo also pointed out. Cillo suggests that humans abuse each other because humans are violent as a species and the violence is a flaw in the genetic code.

“Violence is apart of the human makeup,” said Cillo. “It’s a flaw in our genetic code, one we cannot fix; therefore, it is a society problem, and the realization is where we begin.”

Cillo also attributes racial construct in society as a problem in the amount of violence society has and suggest that if the removal of label may be a solution to police brutality.

“I think the first step is to remove the labels that society has… But if we start removing the labels, police would then be forced to deal with us as one society. If we were one society and we all stood together as law enforcement had less violence to deal with,” said Cillo, “Because we created less violence as a group. You would see police violence diminished. They are not going to go out and shoot you for no reason. They are now caught up in doing the right thing.”

U.S. Consumer Confidence on the Rise

U.S. consumer confidence is at an all-time high in 15 years. Surveys from The Conference Board show that the consumer confidence measured in Feb. of 2017 rose up to 114.8, which marks the highest it has been since Jul. of 2001. A strong labor market increases the financial security of consumers, which leads to more spending.

Since the midst of 2016, consumer confidence rose to levels that are higher than what it was before the financial crisis of 2008. This upswing has not slowed since then. Since 2010, millions of Americans have found new jobs, which made the unemployment rate drop to below five percent.

“I would say that a rising consumer confidence index predicts a rising economy. As people become more confident in future economic prosperity, they are more willing to contribute to the economy through spending and investments,” said Sophomore Economics major Kristy Niccolls. “Because we have seen the stock markets rapidly rise in the recent weeks, I would predict that the CCI will continue to rise throughout the year. However, because the CCI is primarily based on the public’s perception of the economy and not the actual numbers, this is subject to change at any time based on several factors. Due to the unpredictability of our current president, a simple thing such as a legislation issue has the opportunity to affect the CCI.”  

This data is significant for the economic growth of a country that has been slowed in the United States. For 11 consecutive years, the GPD growth rate of the United States has been below three percent, which marks a record in the country’s financial history. A low growth rate results in less job growth and wage increases, which leads the consumers to spend more conservatively.

“The business confidence is increasing; there is a survey of small businesses that showed a very large increase in December that continued through January. You could suggest that there are positive consequences for the economic activity, but we will have to see if the confidence will actually sustain. So far, we haven’t seen a greater consumer confidence in spending, since the economy is still on about a 2 percent economic growth track,” said New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley in an interview with CNN.

The new optimism amongst the population raises the question of which role politics will play in this situation. President Obama was able to lead the country out of the economic crisis, reestablish consumer confidence, improve environmental protection, and create social programs like Obamacare. However, new President Donald J. Trump plans to go a different route.

“Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue expanding in the months ahead. It’s not hard to see why younger people, who are less likely to own stocks, are more likely to have voted Clinton, and are more likely to rely on Obamacare than older people, would be less confident,” said Director of Economic Indicators and Surveys at The Conference Board Lynn Franco.

Trump’s promises on tax breaks, less regulation of businesses, and the re-negotiation of trade agreements might be part of the rising confidence in the U.S. Even though these changes might have a negative impact on the environment and international relations, it could also mean more opportunity for the country when just looking at the financial growth. President Trump was at a good starting point to begin his term at since the country was in good condition, compared to President Obama’s inauguration following the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008.

In the end, only time will tell how consumers’ spending habits will shape the economy and what the current administration will do to lead the country to substantial growth and job security.

Women’s Rights in America Compared to Other Countries

The Lions’ Pride is running this article in honor of Mar. being Women’s History Month.

The United States is known for its ideals and foundations of freedom and equality that strive to protect its citizens’ basic human rights. However, an article posted by CNN states that the U.S. surprisingly falls behind other countries regarding women’s rights.

CNN first discussed the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which was introduced to the United Nations in 1979. The UN’s official website explains that, if signed, CEDAW will enforce action to abolish laws that discriminate against women.

The United States was one of the seven countries that never ratified CEDAW. CNN said, “The United States is a signatory to CEDAW, but to ratify such a treaty, two-thirds of the Senate must vote in favor of it. CEDAW has never made it to the Senate floor for a vote.”

“The argument is we already have the rights in our constitution that are guaranteed,” said Dr. Allyson Marino, who is a professor of English at Saint Leo University and has studied feminist theory. “If the U.S. is seen throughout a lot of the world as a leader in human rights, it’s concerning for some activists in other parts of the world to see the U.S. not taking a lead in that where other countries have.”

Similarly, CNN said that the U.S. Constitution is one of the 32 constitutions that do not explicitly guarantee gender equality or protection against discrimination. While it may seem implied in the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, it is not guaranteed, according to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. According to the article, Scalia said that the constitution does not explicitly forbid discrimination against women.

CNN contrasted this to Afghanistan, and said, “Even Afghanistan’s constitution includes equal rights provisions for women. And while they may not be enforced, says Jessica Neuwirth, founder and president of the ERA Coalition, the language offers a legal framework lawyers can use to work on behalf of women.”

However, CNN reported that many Americans, including politicians, argue that the Equal Rights Act [ERA] is not finished, and they are pushing to explicitly include women in the ERA.

CNN also mentioned that the U.S. is one of the only nine countries that does not require guaranteed maternity leave, being the only high-income, developed country that does not guarantee this.

“We’re the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t support paid maternity leave,” said Dr. Marino. “The reality is that many families in the United States are caught between choosing financial stability or nurturing a newborn.”

She explained that research suggests that mothers with paid maternity leave tend to be healthier and take better care of their newborns as well.

While there are economic concerns and considerations involving mandatory paid maternity leave, Marino said that paid maternity may yield long-term economic benefits.  

She said, “On the economic side, arguments have been made and studies have shown that women who are given paid maternity leave are more likely to return to work, and report job satisfaction there. So that would mean less time and money spent for companies recruiting employees and retraining new employees.”

Salary-wise, the Census Bureau found that American women earned 78 percent of men’s salaries in 2013, according to CNN. CNN elaborated, CNN explained, “When it comes to paychecks, the United States ranks 65th in wage equality for similar work, according to a World Economic Forum study of 142 countries.”

Marino confirms this by stating that American women generally earn 75 to 83 cents for every dollar earned by men. She also noted that studies indicate that the wage gap is not a myth and that they want to see whether or not the wage gap is affected by sexism. She said researchers have considered factors, such as education level, and statistical data to see if the wage gap rises from women choosing part-time or lower paying jobs.

“The argument is, now that women have caught up in education levels with men to a certain extent, that women are choosing different paths than men. So they’re choosing to be the ones who stay at home for care, or they’re choosing careers that have been more traditionally aligned with female roles, such as teaching, which is lower paid than Fortune 500 companies with big executive positions,” said Marino.

Marino also thinks that people should consider why women often choose these career paths and whether women’s traditional career choices, such as teaching, should be reconsidered for higher pay.

Marino believes that career choice may also be linked to the small number of women in public office.

Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics said, “In 2016, 105 (77D, 28R) women hold seats in the United States Congress, comprising 19.6% of the 535 members; 20 women (20%) serve in the United States Senate, and 85 women (19.5%) serve in the United States House of Representatives.”

CNN reported that these numbers are at a record high in the U.S., but then pointed out that these percentages are not very striking, as 51 percent of the population is composed of women.

CNN also said, “The U.S. Congress is ranked in 72nd place out of 139 spots (190 countries were included in the rankings, but there were nearly 50 ties).Women are represented more in Uganda, Algeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.”

When asked how women can receive better government representation, Marino said, “I would encourage young women to know their voting rights, to be very aware of their rights, to vote—the best way for women to be involved in government positions is to access their right to vote—[and] run for office.”

The Community Grows!

  1. 2. 3. Success! These words severed the ribbon and officially opened the doors of the newest center in the Saint Leo University community. The newly renovated space is a whopping 9,172 square feet and occupies the entire first floor of the three-story building that it inhabits in the Northwest corner of SW 38th Avenue and SW 20th Street in Ocala, Fla.

The center is outfitted with ten classrooms featuring the latest technology similar to that found in the School of Business and Kirk Hall on the University Campus. One of these features is the eBeam interactive board system, which essentially allows a television to be used as a white board for instruction purposes.

The opening brought a taste of the University Campus to Ocala City with Fr. Kyle Smith who blessed the Center and the melodious voices of SASS that sung the alma mater. Even Fritz the Lion made a special guest appearance just in time to cut the ribbon.

In a press release dated Mar. 1, the Center’s Director, Rena Thomas, said that “Classes are available when students mainly adult learners need them.” The university has been working along with the Ocala/Marion Chamber and Economic Partnership and in tandem with local businesses to bolster the numbers of an educated workforce.

Ocala City Mayor Kent Guinn, also in attendance at the event, emphasized enthusiastically his excitement with the University’s expansion into the community. Guinn said, “I really appreciate Saint Leo being within the community, it’s great for the local businesses that require more qualified persons.”

Guinn lauded the continued relationship between Saint Leo University and the work it does with active and veteran military personnel. Ultimately, Mayor Guinn praised the University President, William Lennox, for his work while mentioning that the Police Chief of Ocala City, Greg Graham, received a degree from Saint Leo University.

Melanie Storms, V. P. of Saint Leo Worldwide, in a sobering tone, said that the expansion brings the opportunity for Saint Leo to be present in the Ocala community. “It offers the University the ability to be accessible and integral to the growth of the local workforce.”

Supporting Storm’s statements was Jessica Barnes, assistant director of admissions, who reiterated the sentiments of accessibility to the community. Her elation continued to exude as she mentioned the numerous opportunities to serve the local community as a result of the center’s expansion. These include, but are not limited to, free mental health screenings and event hosting.

Notably, in the scores of persons that streamed through the newly open doors, were potential Saint Leo students, one of whom introduced herself as Michelle. Michelle walked the halls of the newly renovated space and stated that she was strongly considering the Ocala Center to seek her first degree.

The halls of the center, which are draped with pictures from the University Campus, bolster a strong sense of Community. Sports Teams, special events, and images of students enjoying daily campus life are displayed to give an overwhelming connection for center students to main campus life.

Lennox underscored his commitment to growing the community of Saint Leo students on and off campus. Lennox reiterated the words of the Savannah Centers’ Director who recently told him that, even though his responsibilities to the University Campus are great, “Do not forget about us (online center students and faculty)!”

Taking the statement very seriously, Lennox said, “Many persons on the University Campus, have no idea about the center students and likewise many center students are unaware of campus life, or in some instances that we have sports teams!”

His commitment to bridging that gap is evident as he alluded to the pictures in the hallway that seeks to bring the groups together.

Lennox concluded the ceremony by mentioning that this opportunity to work with the Ocala community is wrapped up in the University’s mission while continuing to hold true to the Benedictine values of which the University was founded upon.

Saint Leo Golf Teams Prepare for Championship Season

With one month to go to the Sunshine State Conference Tournament (SSC) the Men’s and Women’s Golf teams are playing their final tournaments to get ready for the Championship season. Both teams had tremendous successes in the previous year with the Women’s team being fourth and the Men’s team winning the first national championship in school history. These successes bring high expectations to the Saint Leo Golf teams that are playing in the strongest Conference in the country with many of the top ranked Universities.

The men’s team had an ambitious schedule all year long on the way to defending the national title. Last semester, the team travelled to Puerto Rico to play at the UIS Island Getaway against many strong teams. Another highlight was the DII National Preview that was hosted by Saint Leo University, the Central Florida Sports Commission, and Experience Kissimmee. During the month of Mar., the team had a tournament every weekend to prepare for the upcoming SSC Championship that will take place in Apr. in Melbourne, Fla.

From the key players that won the National Championship in the previous year only Ryan Gendron is still on the roster to try to win the title again. Coach Chris Greenwood had to do a lot of recruiting to build a team that has the potential to win championships. By recruiting internationally and in the area he was able to add a few more talented players to the strong team.

The goal for the team is clearly defined by qualifying for the National Championship and trying to win again. In Mar. at the Panthers Invite that took place on the same course where the SSC Championship will take place, the Lions fell short against their conference competitors from Florida Southern, Tech, Lynn, and Barry. This will motivate the Lions to show their full potential in the Championship season.

On the Women’s side the team looks stronger than ever with almost all of the key players from the previous year still being on the team. In 2016, it was surprising for the team, that is coached by Head Coach Thomas Baker, to qualify for the National Championship. After starting out slow the team moved up every day and was able to place fourth at the first championship participation.

This year, Baker added more talented athletes to the team with the two Freshman, Synne Lauritzen from Norway and Izzy Lawrence from Trinidad & Tobago. With these new additions to the already strong team, the Women’s team did great by winning the Battle of Old South Invitational and the Saint Leo Invitational. In the other tournaments in the 2016 – 2017 season, the team placed four more times among the top three teams.

“So far our season has been really successful and we’re ranked as number two in the region and number six in the nation. With one regular season tournament left and our conference championship, we hope to finish the season strong, secure our seat for regionals and qualify for nationals as a team for the second year in a row,” said Marie Coors, who is a senior with a double major in economics and accounting.

The team is confident and well prepared to face other nationally ranked competitors at the conference, regional, and national level. Throughout the season, the team was successful and competed with the best teams. The SSC Championship for the Lady Lions will be hosted by Florida Southern College during Apr. 23-25. The NCAA South Super Regional will take place May 8-11 in Elgin, S.C., and is hosted by Newberry College.

“Our main goal is certainly to return to nationals as a team. Last year, it’s been an incredible experience and each of us is determined to achieve our goal. Of course, we also have the goal to win the Conference Championship for the first time in school history. Each of us knows that it takes a lot of work and determination to achieve our goals. With one of the best regions in the country we have to focus on improving our games on a daily basis. Therefore, we have to stay in the moment and prepare for one tournament at the time with our overall goal in mind,” Coors said.

The Lady Lions will play again Apr. 10 and 11 at the Lady Panther Invitational in Melbourne, Fla. The Men’s team will play at the Argonaut Invitational in Pensacola, Fla. on the 3rd and 4th of Apr. The Lions’ Pride Newspaper will keep up to date on the last games of the Saint Leo Golf teams.