Voting is arguably the most important facet of our democracy. It is the vehicle through which the voices of the common people reach the ears of leadership and the only way in which we can choose who represents us, both on a world stage and in our local governments. Many people think that Americans dislike talking about politics because it is rude or private. However, this is largely untrue. Yes, Americans may be hesitant to tell you which candidate they voted for or plan to vote for but engaging in conversation about political topics or asking someone’s opinion of a candidate is not rude at all. In fact, you may learn some things about American political history from these conversations and you may begin to understand why politics are such a barrier of change in the United States.
2020 is a big year for a lot of reasons, among which is the presidential election. In November, American citizens will cast their votes for the President and Vice President of the United States of America. Americans have the option of voting at a local polling station (usually a school, gymnasium, or community center) or via mail. The mail-in ballots are very important for many Americans, especially those who live out of their home state or state of permanent residence, since American voting laws mandate that your vote is counted by your state. The result of this year’s election will rely heavily on mail-in ballots, since many will likely be taking precautionary measures to avoid possible COVID transmission.
COVID, among many other things, has made this election pivotal for saving the lives of thousands of Americans. Our current administration has made an abysmal effort to address the coronavirus pandemic and as a result, America has had 7.3 million cases and over 200,000 deaths. The environment, racial inequality, and economics (partially due to covid), have also emerged as influential factors in the 2020 election. And so, if Americans want to see changes and progress in these areas, we will have to vote in record numbers. Although the election results are impossible to predict, we know that both leading candidates (former VP Joe Biden/Kamala Harris and the incumbent candidates Donald Trump/Mike Pence) still have a very realistic chance of winning. Therefore, the small percentage of “swing voters” in the United States will be the individuals that determine the outcome of this election. The states that have the highest numbers of these voters (we call these states “swing states”) are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Since the Presidential candidates win the votes of most of the states “all or nothing” (meaning that if the majority vote for one candidate all electoral votes of the state will go to that candidate), even a small number of voters in a swing state have a very large amount of electoral influence.
Whether you like Halloween for the candy, the costumes, or the creepiness, it feels as though the entire month of October is appropriate for Halloween festivities. A great way to unwind from classes or midterms and to have fun while you’re at home is to watch movies! Here is a list of 8 classic Halloween movies to entertain you throughout the month of October. With scarier movies for those who like a thrill, and ones less scary for those who are just looking to enjoy the festive spirit of Halloween, there is sure to be a movie on the list that you enjoy! Watching any of these movies is also a great way to become familiar with American traditions surrounding Halloween.
“Casper is a kind young ghost who peacefully haunts a mansion in Maine. When specialist James Harvey arrives to communicate with Casper and his fellow spirits, he brings along his teenage daughter, Kat. Casper quickly falls in love with Kat, but their budding relationship is complicated not only by his transparent state, but also by his troublemaking apparition uncles and their mischievous antics.” (Fandango: https://www.fandango.com/casper-2591/plot-summary)
This movie is a classic kid favorite for Halloween! It’s super silly and follows the misadventures of Casper and his ghost friends. Casper is such a popular and well-known movie that people reference the character all the time! If your friend looks scared, like they have just seen a ghost, you can jokingly ask them, “Did you just see Casper?” Alternatively, if something spooky happens to you and you want to make light of the situation, you can say, “There goes Casper playing tricks on me!”
The Night Before Christmas
“The film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same annual routine of frightening people in the “real world.” When Jack accidentally stumbles on Christmastown, all bright colors and warm spirits, he gets a new lease on life — he plots to bring Christmas under his control by kidnapping Santa Claus and taking over the role. But Jack soon discovers even the best-laid plans of mice and skeleton men can go seriously awry.” (https://www.fandango.com/tim-burtons-the-nightmare-before-christmas-1993-99500/plot-summary)
This is another classic Halloween movie. Perhaps you already know who Jack Skellington is and have seen him on T-shirts or on the Internet. This movie is so popular that people also tend to watch it outside of the month of October, and it has even become somewhat of a more classic Christmas movie in recent years!
“After moving to Salem, Massachusetts, teenager Max Dennison explores an abandoned house with his sister Dani and their new friend, Allison. After dismissing a story Allison tells as superstitious, Max accidentally frees a coven of evil witches who used to live in the house. Now, with the help of a magical cat, the kids must steal the witches’ book of spells to stop them from becoming immortal.” (https://www.fandango.com/hocus-pocus-100603/plot-summary)
Almost every child who grew up watching Disney Channel has seen this movie. It was one of my favorite movies to watch on Halloween as a kid, and it still is today! It has songs, jokes, and adventure all packed into one movie. There are a few classic Halloween symbols in the movie, one of which is a black cat (thought to bring bad luck). Can you find other Halloween symbols as you watch it?
“Marnie and her siblings get a big shock when they follow their grandma home to Halloweentown – and find out they come from a family of witches. The town is the only place where supernatural beings can lead a ‘normal’ life, but trouble is looming, and on her 13th birthday Marnie not only finds she is a witch, but that she and her family are involved in a fight against the evil that is threatening to take over the world.” (https://calendar.gwu.edu/films-field-halloweentown)
This movie is another Halloween Disney Channel classic. It is more on the silly side, but that doesn’t keep it from being a enjoyable for all audience members! Witches are said to possess powers and abilities that they are unable to explain in their childhood until they find out that they are witches, and this is exactly what happens to Marnie in the movie. A great, heartwarming watch that is sure to keep you entertained.
“After transferring to a Los Angeles high school, Sarah finds that her telekinetic gift appeals to a group of three wannabe witches, who happen to be seeking a fourth member for their rituals. Bonnie, Rochelle and Nancy, like Sarah herself, all have troubled backgrounds, which combined with their nascent powers lead to dangerous consequences. When a minor spell causes a fellow student to lose her hair, the girls grow power-mad.” (https://www.fandango.com/the-craft-2494/plot-summary)
While most of these movies take place on the East Coast, The Craft is a movie that takes place in Los Angeles, so there isn’t a more perfect movie to watch if you are on or near campus on Halloween! This movie explores more witchcraft and magic than the others, but it’s still funny and follows the lives of teenage girls in high school. Don’t let the spells spook you – this movie also has a great message!
Ghostbusters (1984 version)
“After the members of a team of scientists lose their cushy positions at a university in New York City, they decide to become “ghostbusters” to wage a high-tech battle with the supernatural for money. They stumble upon a gateway to another dimension, a doorway that will release evil upon the city. The Ghostbusters must now save New York from complete destruction.” (https://www.scadshow.com/content/scad-cinema-circle-ghostbusters)
What’s more iconic than Ghostbusters? This movie is definitely a classic in American culture and will appeal to all sci-fi lovers. One of the scenes features a Twinkie, a classic American snack cake that is referenced in pop culture and movies all the time!
“A scientist builds an animated human being — the gentle Edward. The scientist dies before he can finish assembling Edward, though, leaving the young man with a freakish appearance accentuated by the scissor blades he has instead of hands. Loving suburban saleswoman Peg discovers Edward and takes him home, where he falls for Peg’s teen daughter. However, despite his kindness and artistic talent, Edward’s hands make him an outcast.” (https://www.fandango.com/edward-scissorhands-2668/plot-summary)
If you love Johnny Depp, chances are you might have already seen this movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, you are in for a treat! Much like the famous Halloween monster Frankenstein, Edward Scissorhands is built in a laboratory, but he experiences human emotions and forms relationships with people around him. This movie is great for those who want a romantic movie with a Halloween twist!
As the fall semester passes its halfway point, you’ll notice a distinct change in the Theatre students on campus. The circles under their eyes look a bit darker, their voices sound a bit hoarser, and their feet seem a little heavier as they trek from class to class. Their exhaustion is likely due to their impending performances in the weekend. The School of Dramatic Arts produces around nine shows a semester, and students independently produce around five shows a semester. After using the first few weeks of school for rehearsals, the students perform a different play every weekend from the beginning of October up until the weekend before Thanksgiving.
However, the performances aren’t the difficult part. Rehearsing on top of classes can be grueling on a student, especially if they’re taking a full schedule of classes. Last semester, I took three reading-heavy courses, and was required to read a book each week for each of those classes. For any normal student, this would be difficult but achievable. For me, it was impossible. Like this semester, last spring I had classes early in the morning until late in the afternoon, so the only time I could do my homework was after rehearsal at 10pm. After a few weeks of sleepless nights, I vowed never again to have a difficult schedule while performing. In fact, several of my peers chose not to audition for shows because they wanted to focus on their school work. However, which is more important, school work or performing? As a theatre student, performing in a play is an incredibly important part of our education at USC, but on the other hand, we also have classes that teach us how to give better performances if we work hard in the class. We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, but somehow, we make it work.
Often, Theatre majors are given a hard time by our non-performing peers about our work load. Sure, writing a short analysis of a play might not be as difficult to accomplish and understand as homework for a quantum physics class, but when you consider the amount of free time most actors have in their schedule, the comparison becomes a bit more even. Subliminally, we’re being taught that we have to work hard and fill our schedules if we want to be successful as actors. We have to learn to work late into the night even when we have to wake up early the next morning. We have to learn to give an outstanding performance even when we can barely roll out of bed in the morning. We are taught that skill isn’t the only trait of a good performance. In fact, I’d say effort and perseverance are paramount for any kind of artist.
A few weeks ago, I was taking the bus to school and talking with the bus driver about success. He told me that “each day is a stepping stone to get you where you want to go.” Every long night of homework, every early morning meeting, every late night rehearsal; these are the stepping stones we have. They are slippery and treacherous and demanding, but the show must go on.
Harrison is a USC graduate who studied Theatre (BA, Acting) and was a member of the Thematic Option Honors Program. He is from Houston, Texas and grew up playing piano and guitar before transitioning to theatrical performance. Still a lover of music, Harrison plays the piano, guitar, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, and electric bass. In addition to smiling and waving his hands on stage, Harrison loves talking to people and learning about different places, cultures, traditions, and histories. One of the main reasons Harrison chose to come to USC and move to Los Angeles was because of the city’s proximity to the film industry. His love of stories gave him a passion for movies, and he tries to see as many as possible.
Academic and Professional English Language Instruction