• Television series about family dynamics still matter

    We are considered living in the new golden age of television. Shows such as “House of Cards,” “Game of Thrones,” “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “True Detective,” and others, have made television more exciting.

    Today’s television shows are transformative in captivating the audience’s imagination to gripping stories revolving around politics, drug-dealing, sex, violence, crime and even advertising.

    Why then this fascination with the family genre? In a time when television focuses so much on larger-than-life renditions of the human condition, why do family-focused shows continue to prevail?

    Truth is stranger than fiction. Television sitcom, the only genre that has not fully undergone a transformation,  still mainly revolves around family situations and dynamics. Some of the greatest television series of all time revolve around family issues: Shows such as “The Brady Bunch,” “The Cosby Show,” “All in the Family” and others were groundbreaking shows in capturing regular life and confronting difficult yet common problems.

    Real life is beautiful, and people are more attracted to stories that deal with everyday, relatable issues. This is why shows like “All in the Family” are still relatable in the current decade.  

    The definition of family has become fluid over the years, but television portrayals of family values remain the same. Television series such as “The Bernie Mac Show,” “The Sopranos,” “Black-ish,” “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Modern Family” presented issues and conversations on race, social class, sexuality and moral standards, and shaped the popular understanding of the modern family. But not much has changed in terms of communicating messages of loyalty, friendship, commitment and simply doing the right thing. These underlying family dynamic issues are the basis as to why family television series are so popular: It’s realistically relatable to our own lives and our own families.

    Television series about families still matter in our society today. Though the definition of family may have changed, the dynamic still stays the same. Family-themed television shows discuss the significance of themes relating to friendships, personal relationships, family bonds and marriage — issues that we can all relate to and comprehend. Television series relating to family still matter, because they discuss the issues that matter.

    Chen is an international relations and global studies senior from Galveston. Follow him on Twitter @ZhelunC.

  • Removal of Jefferson Davis statue is not enough for black community

    On August 13, President Gregory Fenves announced his decision to relocate the statue of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, from the UT Main Mall to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Additionally, Fenves announced he will relocate the statue of Woodrow Wilson, which sits adjacent to the Davis statue, for the sake of “symmetry.” If Fenves is to show his dedication to equality and diversity to the black student population, he must make plans to erect a new statue in Davis’s place — not only of someone who is a crucial part of Texan and University history, but is black as well.

    The demonstrations against the statue’s presence on campus, which include vandalism of the statue, public forums discussing its future and the appointment of a University task force to deliberate possible solutions, were not the first of their kind. Black students have been expressing their grievances against the multiple confederate monuments across campus since at least the ’60s. The charges against the statues cited they create a hostile environment, represent the legacy of racism rather than the legacy of black resistance and provide black students with a constant reminder of the hateful history of Texas and the Confederacy.

    Fenves’ decision is a compromise at best. While the remaining Confederate monuments do represent aspects of Texan history, they also represent white supremacy’s role in institutionalized oppression, past and present. There is only one statue on campus dedicated to a black Texan, although there have been countless contributions to the state by black individuals, many of whom have been underappreciated. One of the most notable, courageous and relevant individuals, not only to Texas and UT, but public education across the nation, is Heman Marion Sweatt — the first black student at UT.

    Sweatt endured a grueling and emotionally tolling legal battle with the University after being denied admission solely due to his blackness. His victory paved the way for reform of the racist educational system plaguing the country, although it is often overshadowed by the significantly more discussed Brown v. Board of Education, which took place four years later. Sweatt’s significance to the University is undeniable, but his legacy is not prioritized. There is a building named after the UT President that originally denied Sweatt’s admission because he was black. There is little to no established recognition devoted to Sweatt. Fenves has the power and ability to highlight Sweatt’s contributions to the state and the nation. If he is concerned about “symmetry,” erecting a statue of Sweatt is a viable solution that can be a small step to further establishing trust between the black UT community and the administration.

    Editor’s Note: A follow-up column containing further research into this issue will be published next week.

  • Jason Day's PGA Championship finish refreshing to golf fans

    Professional golfer Jason Day made history Sunday when he won the PGA Championship with the lowest score in major championship history. The first major win of Day’s career culminated in an emotional ending when the Australian sunk his last putt on the 18th green. After a round filled with Spieth fans yelling “choke,” Day slumped his shoulders and started crying.

    Seconds after his ball went in the cup, Day was embraced by his caddie, followed by his wife and kids. Families may storm the field after a Superbowl win or flood the court during NBA finals, but the solitary nature of golf makes a win on the 18th green such a satisfying spectacle. No other sport allows fans to witness such an intimate display between family members.

    During the press conference, the theme remained family-focused when he thanked his mother for the sacrifices she made. Day was only 12 years old when his father died, leaving his mother to fund his golfing academy. His life is reminiscent of the rags-to-riches tale worthy of Hollywood, making the reality of the situation that much sweeter.

    Athletes aren’t the always relatable. Emotional responses to wins are one of the few ways fans identify with these demigods. But Day was transparent: Nothing was being taken for granted.

    It hasn’t been a particularly good couple of years for golf ratings. In the wake of the infamous Tiger Woods controversy and a quick stint in rehab for Dustin Johnson, golfers have lost their reputation as the most reserved and conservative of professional athletes.

    Day’s emotional win reassured sports fans that wins aren’t handed to athletes. Wins are hard fought and often the result of a number of people’s time and energy. Day’s transparency about the help he received and his appreciative nature will give him a longevity more reserved or controversial athletes don’t get.

    It’s always refreshing to watch an athlete who we trust win a major sports event, especially when they have a story to tell. The combination of his humble nature and compelling story made Day’s first major championship a win not just for himself but for the sport of golf. If athletes want to be seen as trustworthy and adored by fans, it’s in their favor to show some emotion.

    Sampson is an Associate Editor. Follow her on Twitter @katclarksamp.

  • International Relations and Global Studies Department should have its own career services program

    Many students choose liberal arts majors as stepping stones for law school or graduate school. However, some students want to start their careers in their particular fields right after graduation. This is especially true among students majoring in International Relations and Global Studies (IRG).

    Many IRG majors want to dedicate their lives and careers to foreign service related fields, but they do not know how to do so because the IRG Department offers limited resources in career services. With the exception of program overview and academic advising, the IRG Department does not have any career related resources.

    Although, College of Liberal Arts Career Services and UT International Affairs Society do provide resources and advice for students looking for careers in foreign service fields, this assistance is often extremely broad. If one does a search on the COLA Career Services website for information on careers related to foreign service fields, numerous results will come with some of them not even relating to foreign service fields. Though COLA Career Services website does have resources for internship and career opportunities, it is mainly focused on professional experience development and preparing students for graduate school. From my own personal experiences, COLA does not do a very good job in advertising its career services department to inform students about their services. Also, the COLA Career Services department has a more hands-off approach in helping their students find career opportunities, which is a problem for IRG majors trying to enter a complex career field that requires expert guidance.

    I believe that the IRG department should establish its own career services department similar to that of the McCombs BBA Career Services department. BBA Career Services is much more hands-on in helping their students to not only find career opportunities, but to secure them as well. Students at McCombs are given professional development classes and major-specific coaching for their career fields. McCombs students are also required to complete an internship before they graduate. If the IRG department can create a similar career services department, IRG students can find internships and receive ample amount of resources for career guidance. Of course, it all depends on whether or not the IRG department has the necessary funds to create such a career resource department. But through such a program’s creation, IRG majors could be better prepared to enter the job market and the IRG department can attract more students.

    The IRG department should have its own career services department similar to that of the McCombs School of Business. The College of Liberal Arts should give IRG students the same amount of hands-on guidance and resources as what McCombs students give business students. This would make the IRG program even more worthwhile than it already is.

    Chen is an Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter at @ZhelunC.

  • How Paxton indictment and possible resignation could affect UT

    Current Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was indicted August 1 on three counts of felony for illegal business practices. While he has yet to be convicted in criminal court on any of these counts, his charges alone have instigated debate as to whether or not he ought to resign from office and end his short tenure as Texas attorney general.

    Paxton's resignation has become a real possibility, as either damaged credibility or impending trial and possible conviction may coerce such action. So the question arises: How would Paxton's resignation affect the University of Texas?

    Any worthy answer to this must first consider Paxton's stances and actions, his history with UT and any issues facing UT that may involve the attorney general's office, then compare his office's predicted responses on such future issues to those of his successor. But, as he is not out of office and without need of a successor (yet), the answer, rather disappointingly, is difficult to know with any certainty.

    But, a review of the relationship between the attorney general's office under Paxton and UT suggests that the latter could be pleased.

    Paxton's office gave express permission to controversial UT System Regent Wallace Hall to file suit against the very system he oversees, so he could gain access to files on admissions previously denied him by the University. The allowance drew the ire of UT System Chancellor William McRaven and, presumably, that of other UT officials. So Paxton's potential evacuation of office could be a boon to the UT System as a long, bitter showdown looms.

    Clark is the Associate Editor. He is an English senior from Lake Highlands. Follow him on Twitter @DavisClarkDT.

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