America’s satire problem

IC Chronicle

For the free exchange of ideas

October 2017 issue

America's satire problem

How a nation's sense of humor was stolen

By Justin Henry

America is in a satire crisis. The Onion wrote straightforward polemics against the president, Kathy Griffin photographed herself holding the president’s bloodied head and even Christopher Buckley broke off from satire to write historical fiction. The role of satirist has been usurped by President Donald Trump who devotes mind and body, Daniel Day Lewis-style, to political
performance art.

You can see the president try to continue his schtick of trolling the establishment well into his presidency. In an interview with John Dickerson of CNN’s “Face the Nation,” he mocked the respected journalist to his face, renaming his program “Deface the Nation”.

Throughout history, satire has been society’s court jester, the subversive voice able to get away with criticizing authority by ironically embracing the thing it satirizes. For the jaded, disenchanted Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, Trump is this court jester, taking on politics while undermining political norms. But what happens when the court jester becomes king and his subversive trolling becomes law? Since this absurdist comedy reached the height of political office, the nation’s satirists have turned to polemicists.

Four decades ago, the political spectacle of Trumpism was safely restricted to a half-hour block of a television program called “All in the Family," the first prime time show to explicitly address racism, sexism and other -isms.

“Our whole world has come crumbling down!” Archie said upon learning the Jeffersons, a black family, were moving in next door. “The coons are coming!”

The most progressive viewers identified with Michael “Meathead” Stivic, Archie’s son in law, for his pro-union, pro-civil rights stances. Progressives agreed with TV critics like John J. O’Connor that the show blew the whistle on domesticated bigotry through satire.

However, this rapier-wit was lost on the Wallace dixiecrats, an alt-right coalition for its time who identified with Archie’s resistance to a progressing world. Writing for The New York Times, cultural critic Laura Hobson said Carol O’Connor’s performance as Archie Bunker inadvertently condoned bigotry.

How can it be that, according to a Newsweek article from the same year the show premiered, CBS received letters of praise from both the reactionary right and the progressive left?

Satire’s paradox

Satire assumes the role of whatever it satirizes; it ridicules by embracing its subject rather than dissociating from it like an editorial or straightforward polemic. How else could CBS have aired a show where the central character say “the coons are coming” on their airwaves without a knowing wink at the audience? Through the show’s perpetual state of self-awareness, the audience does not feel ashamed laughing at such a thing because they are in on the joke.

But by embracing racism, the show appealed to genuine racists as well. Audience perception is based on the audience’s preconceived political leanings, according to the 1974 paper “Archie Bunker’s racism: a study in selective perception and exposure,” written by Neil Vidmar, Duke University Russell M. Robinson II Professor Emeritus of Law, and Milton Rokeach, professor of psychology at Michigan State University.

Their study found something disheartening, that more survey respondents identified with Bunker’s racist attitudes than with Stivic’s rejection of them.

“The Colbert Report” was a case study in the paradox of satire. Stephen Colbert’s sarcastic homage to Bill O'Reilly was a delight for liberals to see right-wing TV personalities be properly skewered for their vindictive and prejudice attitudes.

“’re a communist, right?” Colbert fires at left-wing journalist Amy Goodman.

It was equally comical for conservatives to see Colbert identify Goodman as communist.

Heather LaMarre, associate professor of communication and social Influence, media & communication at Temple University, focused on Colbert’s show in her study “The Irony of Satire: Political Ideology and the motivation to see what You Want in the Colbert Report”. While there was no difference in the likeliness that both conservatives and liberals would find the show funny, LaMarre found their explanation of why it was funny drastically different.

“[Conservatives] were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements,” LaMarre wrote in the abstract.

The reason for satire’s flexibility is that it works with the viewer’s preconceived leanings since any decisive political stance is obscured by levels of irony and sarcasm. The profundity of satire, according to Northrop Frye’s paper “The Nature of Satire”, lies in its ability to produce mutually exclusive interpretations, rather than the politics projected onto it by the reader.  

“Satire, in short, is the completion of the logical process known as the reductio ad absurdum, and that is not designed to 'hold one in perpetual captivity, but to bring one to the point at which one cannot escape from an incorrect procedure,” Frye wrote.

Satire in the Age of Trump

Christopher Buckley is a political satirist famous for his book “Thank You for Not Smoking” and a Wall Street Journal column from 1999 in which he drafts an inaugural address from a then-hypothetical President Trump.

However, after a multi-decade career of establishing himself as one of America’s most prolific satirical writers, Buckley wrote a historical novel in 2016. In a December 2016 interview on CSNBC’s Morning Joe, Buckley said American politics have become sufficiently self-satirizing.

Donald Trump began his campaign of satirizing the establishment when he courted the attention of Tea Party Republicans in 2009 by questioning Barack Obama’s citizenship, a trend of undermining Obama’s leadership that continued throughout his presidency. For left of center news outlets and pundits, he was a living, breathing exposé of right wing bigotry, just like Archie Bunker.

After reporting his announcement that Trump considered running for presidency on a 2013 episode of “The Daily Show”, correspondent John Oliver was still making jokes.

“Do it,” Oliver said with sarcastic earnest, staring at Trump through the camera. “I will personally write you a campaign check now on behalf of this country which does not want you to be president but which badly wants you to run.”

Three years later, when Trump was only months away from winning the election, Oliver’s tone changed drastically when on his own show, “Last Week Tonight”, he let loose a polemic against the Republican nominee’s tirade against the Kahn family.

“We may be on the brink of electing such a damaged, sociopathic, narcissist that comforting the families of fallen soldiers may actually be beyond his capabilities,” Oliver said.  

Since the rise of Trumpism as a political force, the stakes of political issues has been raised substantially. Ku Klux Klan members march unmasked across the country, the President of the United States struggles to denounce nazis and North Korea tested a ballistic missile over Japan on Aug. 29.  It is no longer enough for political comedy to please both sides of the political spectrum, just as journalists have shirked any conventional principles of nonpartisanship, as Mitchell Stephens wrote for POLITICO magazine.

Similarly, after transitioning from the satirical “The Colbert Report” to the straightforward “The Late Show”, Colbert sometimes trades his comic wit for direct crudeness when addressing Trump.

“The only thing you’re mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c--k-holdster!” Colbert shouted at the camera.

The audience didn’t laugh. They cheered.

America’s age of plaintiff satire was challenged in Paul Beatty’s 2015 novel “The Sellout”, a recipient of the Man Booker Prize in October 2016 marking the first time it was won by an American author. It was originally marketed as a biting satire that would reinvigorate a conversation about race in Obama’s America which thought it had reached a point of color-blindness.

A quote from The Los Angeles Times is among the many featured on the book’s cover, depicting it as a book that speaks truth to power about race politics in the U.S.

“‘The Sellout,’ while riding beneath terrifying waves of American racial terror and heteropatriarchy, is among the most important and difficult American novels written in the 21st century,” wrote the Los Angeles Times.

The one person who disavowed any hyper-politicized reading of the book was Beatty himself. In an interview with PBS News Hour, he expressed a surprisingly cavalier view of his own work.

“I’m just kind of responding to myself, I guess,” Beatty said laughing. “I think I read something where someone was like, ‘Oh, black people were better off during segregation,’ and I just thought it would be so fun to see how segregation would work now.”

In an age where political neutrality is decried as complying with an oppressive system, Beatty plays with themes like police brutality and the aftermath of slavery for fun.

The greatest satirists in history like Voltaire and Jonathan Swift, Frye pointed out in his paper, did not just lampoon a given ideology, but the way its adherents proselytized it in public. For example, at the Grand Academy of Lagado in Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”, the scientists shirk religious faith only to submit themselves to the dogma of their science.

“There is a great deal of hypocrisy and corruption in any church, and a great deal of superstition in popular worship,” Frye wrote. “Any really devout person would welcome a satirist who cauterized such infections as an ally of true religion. But once a hypocrite who sounds exactly like a good man is sufficiently blackened, the good man himself may begin to seem a little dingier than he was.”

The way preconceived ideas determine the view of a satirical work is called motivational cognition, according to LaMarre’s analysis, and it makes the satirical work a kind of political mood-ring, revealing the political leanings of the viewer.

But without this kind of satire, criticisms by Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee rob us of our cognitive participation, instead confirming our preconcieved biases with no self-awareness. However, Beatty’s book, “The Colbert Report” and “All in the Family” offer the chance for differently-minded people to laugh at the same thing and bridge their divides through humor. “The Daily Show”, “Last Week Tonight” and “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” embody the very political convictions ridiculed by their predecessors.

The punch-line of “Trumpism” was encapsulated by a viral video published a few days after Trump’s win by a YouTube channel called Predo. It was a montage of progressive comedians and pundits ensuring us that Trump was unelectable while laughing at his subversive political fanfare. Set to Edvard Grieg’s quickening “In the Hall of the Mountain King”, the montage ends with election night and CNN’s electoral map filling with red states and the sound of leftist candidates eating their own shoe.

The Oscars, they are-a-changin’

By Araxie Mehrotra

“And I say, exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost. I became an artist — and thank God I did — because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.” – Viola Davis in her acceptance speech at the 89th Academy Awards.

The 89th annual Oscars ceremony tried to separate itself from the aristocratic Hollywood establishment following the boycott of the 2016 Oscars. For example, the Academy tried new approaches in order to relate to a more mainstream audience rather than the elite audience the ceremony is known to gear itself toward. Throughout the night, the Oscars remained a place where everyone who had the chance to speak was able to talk freely and critically on the problems facing our world and America.

The nominations themselves made Oscar history: for the first time in history, there were African-Americans nominated in every single acting category. Statistically speaking, the hardest category for African-Americans to win is the “Best Actress” category. The only African-American to ever win that category was Halle Berry in 2002, and that was also the only year that two African-Americans nominated both won an Oscar for the leading role.

That year Whoopi Goldberg hosted for the fourth time, Will Smith was up for “Best Actor in a Leading Role,” and Sidney Poitier was awarded an honorary Oscar. So, has the Academy and Hollywood moved backward in terms of race relations? Compared to last year, maybe not, but they seem to be more aware that people are paying attention to what they are doing. Who they nominate and award affects the whole country, not just the Hollywood community. With this past Oscars, it seems like the Academy has gotten the message that it matters who they are recognizing and, perhaps more importantly, who they are not.

With tension around the Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi, who boycotted the Oscars due to the travel ban, questions regarding whether or not any of the nominated African-Americans were going to actually win an Oscar, and the sexual harassment claims about Casey Affleck all eyes were on the Oscars this year to see who would win. This brings into question whether the Academy should base their decisions on the current events in the news.

This year, there were a few events that could be argued to have swayed the awards. For example, the award for “Best Foreign Film” went to the Iranian film “The Salesman,” which beat out the front-runner, German film “Toni Erdmann.” Could Farhadi’s boycott on the Oscars have played a factor in his film winning?

It is clear that “The Salesman”’s win brought attention to the the travel ban by Donald Trump on Muslim-majority countries. Farhadi had announced before the awards that Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-American engineer, would be representing him at the Oscars. When he won, she read a prepared statement that explained why he was boycotting the Oscars. In his remarks, he talked about the divide in society and the importance breaking stereotypes.

Hollywood is a dominantly liberal institution and many of the actors and actresses protested against Trump. At the very beginning, Jimmy Kimmel addressed Trump in order to get rid of the tension in the room. He continued to constantly make fun of him and even poked fun at Meryl Streep for her Golden Globe speech that Trump had attacked her for. Kimmel even tweeted at him during the show but received no response.

Many presenters and winners also used their moments in the spotlight to express their opinions about the political climate in our country. Gael García Bernal used his presentation of Best Animated Feature Film to talk about the divides in the country and to say that he would support Trump’s proposed wall dividing the United States and Mexico.

Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, in their moment to shine, mentioned the ACLU and the kids who are growing up like Chiron in Moonlight, saying the Academy has their backs and will tell their stories. Viola Davis gave probably the most mesmerizing, heartfelt, raw emotional speech about the beauty of being an actor or actress. It was not directly political but covered the themes of diversity in Hollywood. This year’s ceremony was a significant point in Oscar history that demonstrates a different style of thought and establishes it as more than just for show.

Although the most talked about moment in the show was the “Best Picture” mix-up, there were so many Oscar records broken this season that America should celebrate. Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar, Damien Chazelle became the youngest director to win an Oscar, Dede Gardner became the first woman to win twice for producing a film, “Moonlight” became the first all minority-cast movie to ever win “Best Picture,” and Viola Davis became the first African-American to win a triple crown of acting — an Oscar, Tony and Emmy.

Even though these are wins that should be celebrated, there is still not equality in Hollywood. But this could be a start of a new path for Hollywood, one that is more inclusive and is now aware of the influence they have in the United States.

Periodically Entertained

By: Mila Phelps-Friedl

When I was asked what I wanted to write a column about, I thought about how much stress I could have saved myself surfing the web to find something to occupy my Friday nights when I could have flipped to a page of a local publication and read about it.

As a freshman, I had a really hard time finding ways to spend my time without falling into the age-old cycle of freedom-hungry college students in search of a good party. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a fine use of weekend time. However, I am someone who always likes to know when I am surrounded by interesting things to do, so I can get involved when I’m not slaving away over school work.

Even more so than that, I love getting off campus and finding ways to participate in the community that I inhabit for 9 months out of the year. I have found that it is nice to feel like something bigger than myself when the stress of college life really intensifies.

Ithaca is a vibrant, open little city that thrives off its eclectic citizens. Even in the cold, Ithaca does a great job of bringing in new experiences for both locals and college students to enjoy. If urban activities aren’t quite your “speed,” there are perks that come with living right next to an Ivy League school. Cornell University offers many incredible opportunities bolstered by funding, campus size and a wide range of people.

This column is important to write, because there is no harm and little effort involved in keeping your thumb on the pulse of the current going-ons where you live. You never know, you might expand your horizon, and Ithaca won’t seem so small after all.

The “Platinum Age” of Television

By Lily Spiro

An infamous episode of the Emmy Award-winning show “Mad Men” is known to its fans simply as the “lawn mower episode.” Shocking and grotesque, the scene is neither a climax of a dramatic character arc, nor an event with anything but a negligible effect on a then minor character’s career. In a television landscape once dominated by efficient 30-minute episodes and plot lines wrapped neatly in bows, the “lawn mower episode” dared to be bizarre and purposeless.

Show creator Matthew Weiner explained the scene as a way of “telling a story about expectation … [that] is completely removed.” Defying the conventions of traditional storytelling was once reserved for novels and films, but “Mad Men,” as well as countless other shows, are re-writing the television playbook.

The Hollywood Reporter television critic Tim Goodman describes the new era of television as the “platinum age of television,” an age that is remarkable for the amount of “must-watch” television on broadcast networks, cable networks and internet streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other independent creators.

FX Networks CEO John Landgraf calls it by another name, “Peak TV,” in which there are so many compelling scripted shows (more than 400) available for American consumption that viewers can no longer separate “the great from the merely competent.” The number keeps growing, with Landgraf predicting an uninhibited growth of scripted television until at least 2018, when the rate of new shows each year should begin to slow.

Undeniably, Landgraf is correct in his claim that among the bloom of fantastic television like “Game of Thrones,” “Breaking Bad,” “Westworld” and “Atlanta” ― even these examples can describe only a tiny fraction of the best of modern television ― there will be some platinum age television that isn’t up to snuff (a.k.a “The Walking Dead” season six).

Bad television has always been a given; in the words of “30 Rock’s” narcissistic network tycoon Jack Donaghy: if you want to “hit rock bottom, go on network television.” The platinum age isn’t notable for its flops, however, but for its unparalleled amount of successes. Long-form television, known for its in-depth, lengthy narratives, is the sole reason for this achievement. Freed from the constraints of its sitcom predecessors and the average two-hour run time of many films, long-form television has the space to construct worlds and characters and the time to let these stories unfold naturally.

Along with a break from traditional television conventions comes a focus on a new type of character: the anti-hero. The penchant for likeability found so often in Hollywood blockbusters is conspicuously absent in the platinum age. This characteristic, too, is reminiscent of a novel. Morally ambiguous characters like Don Draper and Walter White are at home with “American Psycho’s” Patrick Bateman and “Lolita’s” Humbert Humbert.

As screenwriter William Boyd says, it is no longer about “who you’re rooting for,” but who is most human. In his essay in the New Statesman, Boyd cites the lauded drama “True Detective” as an example of television that rejected “accelerated narrative pace and routine plot hooks” in favor of “allowing central performances room to move.” There was never anyone to truly root for in the first season of “True Detective,” as both protagonists were immensely flawed human beings, but they were compelling characters, the antiheroes that made audiences want to return week after week to watch them clash, explore and stumble through life together.

Television critics enjoy claiming that in the platinum age of television, TV has become better than the silver screen. Long-form television isn’t better, but different; it is more similar to a visual novel than to a film. This is most evident in its structure, each episode akin to a chapter in a novel. Most movies have acts, climaxes, rising and falling actions, but few have as firm a stopping point as the end of a television episode. Like book chapters, these episodes are crafted specifically to have an endpoint, whether that endpoint is a resolution, a cliffhanger or simply the closure of a theme. The end may not be satisfying, such as in the “Red Wedding” episode of “Game of Thrones,” but it is an ending nonetheless. Television critic Ronan Doyle notes that television thrives “on the space between.” Even if a show is binged non-stop, there are still season breaks. It is near impossible to watch the complete work of a long-form television show from start to finish like a film. For a show like “Mad Men,” it would require 92 continuous hours, almost four days.

The wait between seasons and episodes is agonizing in a way that a film series cannot replicate.The  cliffhanger in season two of “Hannibal” sent viewers flying toward Google, searching for any crumb of resolution that they could find, but there was nothing they could do.

Unfortunately, they had to wait an entire year to discover the fates of their favorite characters.  Movies hold their power in their endings, which can be just as abrupt as a television episode, but with no return in sight. However, the relatively short running time can’t build a connection between the characters and the audience in the same way as a long-form television show.


Viewer Participation

Like an organism, long-form television is pruned and watered by its audience. The shows are constantly growing, and whether the endgame is always apparent for the shows’ creators, it is rarely obvious to the fans.

Fan support is the life vein for television shows, the reason why rating failures like “Hannibal” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” manage to stay on air. Fluid by nature, long-form television can grow too unwieldy to contain. Ideas grow stale and viewers lose interest. Even “Mad Men,” critically adored in its first five seasons, lost a bit of its shine as it progressed to the finish line.

Ending a show at the sweet spot, often between three and five seasons, presents a challenge, but the purpose of a television show has advanced beyond the need for syndication to a desire to tell the best story, no matter the length. Season duration is completely flexible: “Stranger Things” has eight episodes, “Game of Thrones” has ten, and “Jane the Virgin” has at least 20 episodes per season. Today’s season of television contains, on average, half the number of episodes of a pre-platinum age season. This means that writers have the freedom to explore stories at their own pace, and most importantly, end them with resolutions in mind, rather than at the whims of studios.


Cornerstones of Progress

What is most revolutionary about long-form television is its diversity of content and characters. With films like “Moonlight,” “Hidden Figures” and “Moana,” it is clear that Hollywood is attempting to create films from the perspectives of people of color, but it is trailing far behind television’s crusade. ABC alone has four tentpole shows centered around black, east asian and south asian protagonists, while Netflix and Amazon have dozens more.

The platinum age of television is built on stories with diverse perspectives, from Issa Rae’s “Insecure,” about the daily life of a young black woman, to “Sense 8,” a show that has been rained with GLAAD awards for its nuanced portrayal of LGBT characters.

By prioritizing the representation of diverse perspectives, long-form television fosters a sense of inclusion and community in its audience. No longer are viewers forced to watch characters with whom they can’t identify; now they can find themselves in Jane Villanueva, in Jaime Lannister, in Josh Chan or in Kimmy Schmidt.

Hollywood ignores this lesson at their peril, preferring to center their movies on white, male protagonists who the industry believes is a more reliable investment. However, according to the Bunche Center’s 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report, 51 percent of frequent moviegoers were members of minority groups, yet minorities only comprised 16.7 percent of leading roles in films.

Additionally, films that featured 20 to 31 percent minority cast members earned an average of $143.3 million at the box office, while films with 10 percent or fewer minority cast members earned an average of $52 million. Movies that featured a cast of between 30 and 40 percent minorities, a more accurate representation of the American public, also outearned less diverse films with an average box office of $130 million. The report found that a similar outcome occurred in television: shows with more diverse casts garnered higher ratings than their less diverse counterparts.

With longer running times, flexible season lengths and fluid narratives, the arcs of long-form television shows are unconfined by traditional limits. However, it’s not only the stories that keep audiences returning for weekly installments or hours-long binge sessions. It is the characters who, with their unique, relatable and truly human struggles, forge heart-deep connections with the audience. Long-form television is an imitation of life; a window through which we view the world, a mirror through which we view ourselves. And every so often, as with the “lawnmower scene,” we get a peek into the bizarre. We ask ourselves: “What did I just watch?” And the next day, we come back for more.

Twelve Tribes Storefront Changes to Yellow Deli

By Sarah Stuart-Sikowitz, Staff Writer

It was a shock to many when the Maté Factor, an eccentric tea and juice bar on the Commons, closed in February of 2016. This left many Ithacans longing for a restaurant to find Yerba Maté tea and to attend weekly rap sessions. However, relief came to many due to the complex world beyond the cash register: the store was owned and operated by the highly controversial Twelves Tribes religious group, more regularly known as the Twelve Tribes cult.

No notice of a change in ownership was announced until recently. A yellow flowered sign appeared on the front window last week, dubbing the new owners as the “Yellow Deli.” The chain deli, which has a storefront in Oneonta, NY, is known for its banana milk and healthy sandwiches. At first this may seem exciting, new and inviting, but upon further investigation, the Yellow Deli is yet another business owned by the Twelve Tribes.

After the Maté Factor opened in 2007, there was a call for an immediate boycott of the tea shop due to its direct link to the proselytizing Twelve Tribes, known for its homophobia, racism and advocacy for child abuse. Its existence was highly protested and continued to be argued by Ithacans until its closure last year. However, many people in the town disagreed with the protests, stating that religious freedom should be upheld and that they posed no threat to the community.

“We know about our reputation,” Tehera, a Twelve Tribes community member, explained. “But at the time, it was important to us to keep pushing on, as our God commanded. And we did. That made us stronger.”

The group’s presence in many small towns all around the country has been known to cause issue. In Oneonta, the Twelve Tribes’ business created suspicions throughout the town of whether to trust the group due to their controversial beliefs, way of life and recruitment tactics.

“We wanted to open a store that was well known among our community,” Tehera said. “The Yellow Deli is all around the globe. We wanted to feel more connected to our people by having a store that was more recognizable to them.”

The religious group has over 30 “communities” in 13 states and dozens more all over the globe in countries such as Australia, Germany and Argentina. Their numbers are estimated at around 3,000 and continue to grow. The group provides Christian extremist texts on their website such as “Restoring the Ancient Way of Genesis,” “Back to the Garden” and “Three Reasons Why Jesus Didn’t Come Back on October 21, 2011,” which explain some of their beliefs. In the Twelve Tribes’ belief system, there is a fight between sodomites and the godly. Filling themselves with peace and the Creator’s guidance will create more believing disciples and help fight against sodomites, according to these texts. As their manifesto states: “If we will love one another and love being together like He has always wanted … our Creator has the power to reach deep within our souls and make real changes.” This is not unlike most sects of Orthodox Christianity, Judaism or Islam, however, this group is highly fundamentalist.

Fundamentalists often claim–wrongly, in my view–to be orthodox,” stated Pastor John of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. “Fundamentalists tend to be isolationists, keeping themselves free from the surrounding modern culture as much as possible. It was a modern movement as a reaction against scientific and historical evidence undermining literal interpretation. Fundamentalism holds that the Bible was dictated by God to the biblical authors leaving no ground for interpretation. To myself and many other religious leaders, it is not considered useful.”

The group was founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1973 by Elbert Spriggs as an alternative to the militant Protestantism in the area. Initially, they created a restaurant headed by local hippies until Spriggs founded the Northeast Kingdom Community Church. It was there he began to preach the benefits of child abuse, female submission and slavery, which have permeated the belief system of the group since its origins in Tennessee. Since then, they have promoted the teaching of creationism in schools (but not sex education) and the discrimination of gender, race and religion.

In the book “Alien Ant,” one of the cult’s many publications, it is stated that multiculturalism “increases murder, crime and prejudice” and equates tolerance to loving sodomites. On the group’s website, there is a claim that Jews are cursed by the murder of Jesus. Additionally, the practice of beating children has been seen in a multitude of the Twelve Tribe’s communities all over the globe. Examples of this are the infamous raid in Newport, Vermont in 1984 where 114 children were seized by protective services due to child maltreatment, and in Bavaria, Germany in 2013 50 cases of child beatings were recorded on camera. For the tribe, this is considered discipline and is done in accordance with the Bible.

The Ithaca Twelve Tribes community has never had an issue with law or justice. However, they are unfortunately connected to the historically badly reputed global Twelve Tribes community, whose image has been tainted for many reasons.  Few religious leaders in Ithaca have an opinion on the group, other than wariness of their fundamentalist ideas and the mere existence of their tea shop.

The group has offered Ithaca’s community a restaurant with a calm and welcoming atmosphere, good tea and baked goods. To call them anything other than a fringe religious group would certainly misrepresent them; they are only called a cult due to their small numbers and recluse attitude.

The opening date for the Yellow Deli has not yet been set.


Column: The Event-tory

By: Mila Phelps-Friedl, Columnist

It has been an incredibly cold few days, but since when has a little wind chill and below freezing temperatures ever stopped an Ithaca College student from braving the tundra to find something worthwhile to do?

It’s already the second week in February, and Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. Now, whether that means you’ll be coupling it up with all the rest of the folks that will be filling up the Commons on Tuesday or ignoring the Hallmark holiday all together, there are many great options to fill your week or weekend with. And here’s the plus: many of them are in heated spaces, away from the cold.

To kick the week off, take a break from studying for an open mic night happening at Agava Restaurant from 8:30-10 p.m. on Monday evening. Bring some friends, enjoy some music or maybe even contribute yourself. The Kitchen Theater is also putting on their concert reading of “The Mississippi Delta” at 7:30 p.m. for only $18 at the door. The play, written by Endesha Ida Mae Holland, is a transformative tale of the writer’s own struggle from her upbringing in segregated Mississippi and the obstacles she overcame in receiving her doctorate and becoming a published playwright. It has been hailed as “a timely and nonpartisan message of encouragement that will resonate with citizens from all points of our current tumultuous political, civic, and social spectrums,” according to a press release issued by Homecoming Players.

If Tuesday night rolls around and whatever you’re doing just isn’t cutting it, head on over to the Haunt where the G-NOME Project, a Livetronica band hailing from Jerusalem, are sure to provide some entertainment. Tickets are available on the Haunt’s website for only around $10. Or, you can take a more involved approach and head over to the Sacred Root Kava Lounge & Tea Bar, where there will be an intergenerational Irish Jam session. All skill levels can share tunes and hang out from 7-9 p.m.

If museums are more your speed, there are multiple events going on over on the Cornell campus, and it’s only a short TCAT ride away. “Anarchy in the Archives” premiered in the Carl A. Kroch Library’s Hirshland Exhibition Gallery in November and will run until May 1, so there is plenty of time to catch this installation. It is focused on the influence of “punk’s cultural and political impact from the mid-1970s to the present day through a vast array of rare artifacts,” according to its event page on Cornell’s website. Some featured artists include the Ramones, Dead Kennedys, Iggy Pop, Blondie, the Sex Pistols and Patti Smith, to name a few.

The most prominent art gallery on Cornell’s campus, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum, also has an exhibit on display: “Identity Crisis: Reflections on Public and Private Life in Contemporary Javanese Photography,” which will be there until June. The exhibit consists of 10 artists who use forms of photography to identify what it means to be a part of Java or Indonesian society today. If you’re looking for something with a little more interaction, the Johnson Museum is also holding a special event on Thursday, Feb. 15, where there will be live music and discussion to go along with their exhibit, “The War to End All Wars: Artists and World War”, which is centered around artists during the first World War.

Finally, there’s always the dependable and delightfully refreshing selection of films available to see at Cinemapolis on the Commons. “La La Land,” “Lion,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Moonlight,” “20th Century Women” and “Paterson” are all showing throughout the week between the times of 4 p.m. and around 9:30 p.m.

It may get quite cold in Ithaca, but that does not mean that there will ever stop being things to do. And let’s be honest, that’s one of the best things about our beautiful little college town.