Category: Arts & Entertainment

History of superheroes in films

James King, A&E Correspondent

Hollywood has been making movies about costume superheroes for almost as long as there have been moving pictures. The idea of a costumed bigilante with special abilities who stops crime on screen is not really a new idea.

The beginnings of the genre started in the 1920s with the early Zorro movies, beginning with the “Mark of Zorro”. In the 30s and 40s, America saw the irth of characters like The Shadow and Dick Tracy, pulp detectives with special abilities and gadgets. They were all basically sort of like the proto-superheroes of their day. They were vigiliantes who chased down the crooks that the police couldn’t.

It wouldn’t be until 1941, that the first superhero movie came to the big screen with the serial “The Adventures of Captain Marvel” (know to modern audiences as “Shazam”). Serials, which are typically fictional stories that are divided into parks that continue on each episode, were basically television before television was as widespread as it is today. People would go out to theatres to see a serial before a movie and later they would come again to see the next episode.

This was followed up with a small boom of superhero movies, including “The Batman”, “Captain America” and “Superman”. These serials kept going steadily until the 50s, when chepaer televisions finally started to kill the movie serial. In 1951, “Superman and the Mole Men” became the first feature-length theatrical film based on a comic book superhero.

The genre went quiet after that until the 1960s In 1966, the feature-length pilot of the Adam West “Batman” series came to theatres. It was one of the most popular shows of its time, it even helped save the ten failing ABC network and spawned all sorts of merchandise; just a few short years in 1968 it was cancelled due to low ratings.

In 1989, Tim Burton’s “Batman” would be released and take the world by storm. The dark, gritty take on the character was just what fans wanted to see. Many fans of the original Batman comics were disappointed by the bright and silly 60s version of the character.

This new version would influence many of the big-budget superhero movies of the 90s like “Spawn” and “The Crowd”. After the next Batman sequel bombed, Joel Schumacher picked p the reins of the franchise and his two sequels “Batman and Robin” and “Batman Forever” killed superhero movies until “Blade” attracted interest back into the genre.

The X-men movies and Sam Raimi Spiderman films would help revitalize the genre in a big way from there. The Nolan Batman movies set the golden standard from which all superhero movies are judged and Iron man would start the Marvel Cinematic Universe to show us everything could be connected through comic-like continuity. Continuity other companies like Sony, Warner Brothers and Universal would try to emulate to mixed results.

Superhero movies are breaking records as “Avengers: Endgame” has become the highest-grossing film of all time (not adjusted for inflation), with many other Marvel Studios films taking similar top spots. It’s not a genre that looks to be slowing down in popularity and there are plenty of new superheroes getting their own time to shine, and their future is looking bright.

Photo courtesy of DC Entertainment

Billboard releases new top 5 hits

Breanna Hill, A&E Editor

As of September 9, the Top 5 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 are as follows: “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo, “Senorita” by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish, “You Need to Calm Down” by Taylor Swift and “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, featuring Billy Ray Cyrus. 

The last one is definitely a shocker, isn’t it?

As someone who commutes to JSU for class, I spend a lot of time in my car listening to music and most of the time it tends to be the top hits genre that I feel drawn to. I honestly find myself not surprised by the order of the songs this week. 

All of the artists who hold these spots on the charts are big names and widely known. Their catchy, relatable lyrics seem to draw in the public as much as the bass that seems to dictate the musical aspect of the tune. 

Lizzo seemed to just appear out of nowhere, and honestly I had not heard of her until “Truth Hurts’’ was on the top 100. 

Lizzo’s chart toppers are so popular because of the message that she portrays in them so clearly. She spreads body positivity in every hit she puts out. I enjoy every one of her songs because of that reason. It makes me feel good about myself and helps with my self-esteem. I urge everyone who hasn’t heard of her (all two of you) to look her up and listen to her incredible songs. 

Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello have been on the top 100 before, time and time again. With the Latin influence becoming the norm in pop music today, the song title was enough to send us all to YouTube to hear the collaborative piece ‘Senorita’. 

Despite the hype, I find myself classifying it as an average song. Yes, it has an upbeat tempo but none of the lyrics really speaks to me. It’s just an average pop song in my opinion. I believe that the reason it’s so popular is because everybody is rooting for anything to do with the two of them together. Billie Eilish being in the top five is definitely not a shocker to me. She has become an iconic artist in today’s society because she is unlike anything the music industry has ever had before, especially the pop genre. 

Though her music videos made me scratch my head, I find her voice to be soothing. Not to mention her incredible lyrics and killer bass. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for good bass. ‘Bad Guy’ is one of her most popular hits and the musical aspect of it is undeniably unique. 

When it comes to Taylor Swift I can’t help but listen to all of her jams, even the ones dating back to the early 2000s. She made a smooth transition from country to pop, proving that she’s able to get out of her comfort zone. 

Swift recently released a new album titled ‘Lover’ which features the song that has climbed to the fourth spot on the Billboard top 100, ‘You Need to Calm Down’. I believe the song is incredible, and I’m thrilled about how the music video turned out. I believe everyone should see it. The plot of the video is inspiring, and it features Katy Perry and Taylor Swift making up. Hello, what more could you need?

The fifth song generally makes me roll my eyes now. I am all for Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus, but the song has been played over and over again on dozens of stations, and there have been who knows how many remakes and additions to the song that it has grown tiresome. 

It reminds me of when Pharrell’s song ‘Happy’ would play all day, every day. I appreciate the boundaries that the song pushed, but there’s only so much of it that I can take and I’ve about had enough. Maybe I can listen to it once every six months. Maybe.

Overall, the songs by all of the artists in the Top 5 are great songs. I enjoy all the instrumental aspects in each song. I appreciate the time and effort that the artists and songwriters put in to making them. Pop music has definitely come a long way, and I’m eager to see what comes next.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Kravits/Getty Images

JSU Drama Department presents exciting 2019-20 season

Miranda Ladd, A&E Correspondent

Fall is in the air, and with that, the 2019-2020 Drama Department season will soon be in full swing.

Winston Drives Big Jim kicks off the new season on October 3. According to Chloe Barnes, this award-winning production written by Southern playwright Hubert Grissom, tells the story of “an unlikely friendship between a progressive Southern governor and his chauffeur as they drive through, witness and influence the emerging Civil Rights Movement.” This play includes the unforgettable Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Michelle Tailor, a Visiting Professor in Drama from New York City, has joined Jacksonville State University to direct the staged reading of the play and is looking forward to everyone’s response to this play’s look at mid-20th century Alabama.

The production of The Imaginary Invalid by Molière follows shortly after on November 15. This play focuses on Monsieur Argan, a chronic hypochondriac, deciding to marry off his daughter to a doctor in order to quell his growing pile of medical bills. This play is meant to make you cry from laughing.

“Not only will this give our Drama students a chance to stretch their silly, farcical muscles, it will also be a real crowd-pleaser for our audiences as well,” said Dr. Michael Boynton, the director of this upcoming production.

Was it really the pea that caused the princess a sleepless night? In the spring, the JSU Drama Department will kick it off with Once Upon a Mattress, a twist on a popular story of The Princess and the Pea. This musical is a “fun, quirky take on the classic tale” and is a “taste for the whole family,” according to Director Dr. Ellen Peck.

The annual JSU Drama Student Showcase will be held on April 4 and 5, which will showcase work from student actors, directors and designers. This is a way to see what the Drama Department’s students work on throughout the year and a way to see all of their hard work.

Lastly, the year ends with The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman. This play will be put on in conjunction with Alpha Psi Omega, the theatre honor society at JSU.

According to Chloe Barnes, this student-led production tells the story of “a gifted young girl who confronts her rapidly changing life and increasing horror of her time with her honesty, wit and determination,” It captures the realities of their daily existence hiding from the Nazis in a concealed storage attic.

Tickets for the 2019-20 season are already on sale. Season tickets include all five productions. For more information or to download an order form, go to or call 256-782-5648. Season tickets for adults are $45, and $42 for JSU faculty, staff, students, as well as military and seniors 60 years of age or older. Single show tickets will go on sale October 1. To keep up with the drama department, follow them on social media or visit their website.

Photo courtesy of

Hot Take: Has Kidz Bop ruined popular songs?

Miranda Prescott, Arts & Entertainment Correspondent

Popular music in today’s times play one of the most influential roles in creating the culture and society our generation grows up in. 

This role has gone on for as long as the music in this sense has existed. From Mozart’s classical pieces to modern-day hit songs from artists such as Taylor Swift and many others, music has held power for centuries. 

This week, however, we are only going to focus on the last five years, as I listen and give my opinion on each of the top songs from the past half-decade. Fair note: these songs come from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 list from each year. Also, this is strictly my opinion, and it is not here for anyone trying to defend these songs, because, let’s be honest, there is no defending them. 

2014: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams 

Oh boy, where do I begin? I honestly believe that not many people are truly happy while listening to this song. Mainly because they hear it during one of two scenarios. The first one is when a five-year old has it on repeat on an iPad. And it’s a six-hour car ride. And it’s not even this version. It’s the one from Kidz Bop. The second one is the same five-year old watching Despicable Me 2 on repeat on the same six-hour car ride. The only upside to this scenario is at least it’s not Kidz Bop. 

2015: “Uptown Funk!” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars 

While looking this one up, I was praying that this list would get better. As a result, it did get slightly better. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bruno Mars. He is one of my favorites. This song, however, is not one of my favorites. Yes, this is a very catchy song, and yes, the music video for it is very well produced. However, after a while, this song gets old very quickly. Overall, a better song than the year prior, but it is still not one of my favorites. 

2016: “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber 

I am going to get a lot of heat from saying this, but it needs to be said: I’m not a fan of Justin Bieber. I admit it. I never had “Bieber Fever” or whatever it’s called. Just thinking about this guy makes me cringe most of the time. However, this song is rather good. Is it better than the other two on the list? Probably not. As I’m writing this, it stands in second place amongst the three we have listed. So, hey, good for you Justin. You made me like one of your songs. That’s the biggest achievement you’ll ever have. 

2017: “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran 

And the light at the end of the tunnel has been swiftly put out by this song. For me, it’s a combination of 2014 and 2015: I like Ed, but this song is also in the same boat as the first scenario as “Happy.” I firmly believe Kidz Bop has a strong power of ruining everything it touches. Especially this song. Honestly, this review is a bit shorter than the others because I didn’t expect it to be this song. I thought I was going to review “Despacito.” There’s a whole other article on that one. 

2018: “God’s Plan” by Drake 

Thank you, Drake. Thank you. This song has re-lit the light that Ed Sheeran took out last year. It’s an iconic song overall. The best thing is, Kidz Bop can’t ruin it. Yes, they made it worse, but that’s just their branding. Also, if Kidz Bop has magical powers to ruin music, Drake has the power to keep music from being ruined like this. It’s a song you can never get tired of and earns high marks from me. 

There you have it. Was this a review of songs from the last five years or Kidz Bop? I’ll let you decide. However, the only question we have left to answer is who will join the list this year? More importantly, will it get ruined by other people? Will it be a song that future generations look back upon while doing research similar to this and like it? The only judge for this is time, and time we shall give it. 

Local rock group to release new music

August 29, 2019

Kaitlin Fleming, Editor in Chief

A local rock band is set to release new music on Friday, August 30.

The Sunsets, a band that can only be described as an alternative, new wave, post punk pop, rock group, will release “Space Love” on all major streaming platforms and the band members are excited for the public to hear what they have been working on.

The group, made up of two brothers and some friends, released their first full album, Heartbeat Massacre in July of 2018 and released their first EP, Fatal Attraction, in 2016, just one year after the band began.

The two brothers are lead vocalist Torsten Dryden and drummer Breihan Dryden and the friends are bass guitarist Jack Vermuth and guitarist Trent Johnson, as well as saxophonist Quincy Chapman.

“This is the strongest incarnation the band has ever had,” said Torsten Dryden. “We’re taking a more collaborative approach.”

Every member of the band has given some of themselves to the music in some way or another.

“This is the first [bass guitar] part that I wrote with The Sunsets,” said Vermuth.

Johnson said the group makes every song feel like “you’re a part of it” and that each member has “split duties”

In fact, anyone who has seen a live performance by this band will know that there is sometimes a shuffling around on stage and trading of instruments. People who have been to any show recently would also know that “Space Love” has been a work in progress for some time now.

The funky sci-fi jam titled “Space Love,” which is all about exploring the unknowns of a new relationship, has seen several musical changes.

“We originally wanted ‘Space Love’ on Heartbeat Massacre but we just weren’t happy with it yet,” said Torsten Dryden.

To pay for studio time and mastered songs, the band has been playing at local venues and selling merchandise. They also play for charity events, like the recent “Bands for Bri” benefit concert, which helped pay medical bills for a lady who was accidentally shot and paralyzed.

The group has a “busy fall” according to Torsten Dryden. Apart from playing at local gigs, there are some exciting things in the works, like music videos, new songs and a new EP coming later this year, possibly in November.

As far as videos for “Space Love” goes, there will be a lyric video dropping with the song release this Friday. Jason Lugo created the lyric video and Dylan Baugh created the artwork for the release.SPACE-LOVE text.png

The song, and a few others that are under lock and key for now, were recorded in Nashville with WireBird Productions. Brett Ryan Stewart mixed and mastered the recordings.

“Brett is good at getting things right, right out of the gate,” said Breihan Dryden.

For more information on The Sunsets, check them out on social media by searching @thesunsetsrock on all major platforms. If you can’t wait for the newest song, you can always stream the Heartbeat Massacre album on Spotify, Apple Music and more.