Olivia Folmar Ard

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Pop Culture, Curated | Immigration

We live in the never-moving center of an endless news cycle. Headlines from the New York Times and clickbait partisan garbage alike shout at us everywhere we turn, and no matter how much we want to care about the issues, we can't. Our brains become backlogged with information we can't even begin to process, swollen and sore and hungover from the vulnerability of ourselves and our neighbors. There comes a point where our hearts clog up and we are too sore and sick and cynical to do anything but hide.

But while the news and the not-so-civil discourse on not-so-social media shuts me down, it doesn't shut me off. I still contemplate the issues, the controversy, but not in a conventional way. I turn to fiction and film, television and music and art. I turn to sources of knowledge and argument and emotion I can't talk back to, and I sit there and listen.

It occurs to me that there are others out there who might feel the same way, who might get something out of these carefully curated galleries I store in my mind. So here is the beginning of a brand new blog series, where I post a selection of pop culture and art that has affected my opinion on a relevant topic without commentary, other than to offer a brief description. I hope it generates deep thought and meaningful discussion, and that you add your own items to my collection. This month's topic is a contentious one: immigration.  

La misma luna   (Under the Same Moon) | Film

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UNDER THE SAME MOON (LA MISMA LUNA) tells the parallel stories of nine-year-old Carlitos and his mother, Rosario. In the hopes of providing a better life for her son, Rosario works illegally in the U.S. while her mother cares for Carlitos back in Mexico. Unexpected circumstances drive both Rosario and Carlitos to embark on their own journeys in a desperate attempt to reunite. Along the way, mother and son face challenges and obstacles but never lose hope that they will one day be together again. (IMDB)

The Leavers by Lisa Ko | Novel

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One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon—and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. But far from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his adoptive parents’ desire that he assimilate with his memories of his mother and the community he left behind.

Told from the perspective of both Daniel—as he grows into a directionless young man—and Polly, Ko’s novel gives us one of fiction’s most singular mothers. Loving and selfish, determined and frightened, Polly is forced to make one heartwrenching choice after another.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It’s a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past. (Amazon)

Jane the Virgin | Television Series

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Jane is a religious young Latina who is a waitress in a hotel in Miami. Her life takes a big turn for the unexpected when her doctor (Dr. Luisa Alver) mistakenly artificially inseminates her during her checkup. Jane's mother Xiomara, who became pregnant with Jane at a very young age, is scared that Jane will be destroying her life by deciding to bring the baby to full term, while Jane's traditional religious Latina grandmother, Alba, encourages Jane to do what she chooses. The biological father is a married man named Rafael Solano, who is a cancer survivor and a former playboy. He is the new owner of the hotel where Jane works, and was her former teenage crush. Petra, Rafael's amoral and scheming wife, learns of the mistake and plots her own agenda. Petra is also involved in an affair with Roman Zazo, Rafael's best friend, who is under investigation by Jane's police detective boyfriend, Michael, and who also deals with Jane's unexpected condition in his own way. Meanwhile, the doctor who inseminated Jane, Dr. Luisa Alver, who is Rafael's younger sister, is distraught over learning that her wife cheated on her and left her. Elsewhere, Rogelio de la Vega, a famous TV star and, unbeknownst to her, Jane's biological father, shows up to wanting to make contact with Xiomara, unaware of Jane's existence. (IMDB)

Hamilton: An American Musical | Theatre

 

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Hamilton: An American Musical is a sung-and-rapped-through musical about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, with music, lyrics, and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda, inspired by the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by historian Ron Chernow. Incorporating hip-hop, rhythm and blues, pop music, soul music, traditional-style show tunes, and color-conscious casting of non-white actors as the Founding Fathers and other historical figures, the musical achieved both critical acclaim and box office success. (Wikipedia)

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer |  Novel Series

 Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl. . . .  Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future. ( Amazon )

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future. (Amazon)