Jamie Corter

Politics and award ceremonies: Where CCM students draw the line

By Jamie Corter

The flashing lights, glamorous gowns and emotional moments have drawn viewers to televised award ceremonies for years. The anticipation builds and then lingers in the air each time a category is called and a celebrity wins. The speeches that proceed can range from heartwarming, empowering, shocking and sometimes political.

As political acceptance speeches at major award shows become more common, students at County College of Morris have a variety of opinions regarding the appropriateness of the practice.

Brooke Preziosi- Arnott, a digital media major, said that it’s good for people to voice their opinions, but celebrities should do so on their social media platforms. In her opinion, incorporating politics into an award show is uncalled for.

“Instead of pushing their beliefs on someone, celebrities should just voice what they believe in, and they shouldn’t accuse other people of being wrong,” Preziosi- Arnott said.

Marilyn Mayorga, a respiratory therapy major, agreed with Preziosi-Arnott that social media, or even news outlets, are the proper places for celebrities to speak up.

“They can obviously speak their minds, that’s how you get people to open up, but I feel like right now, it’s just a bad time to do so,” she said.

Mayorga said that someone will be angry either way because there’s never one side to politics.

“Celebrities should try to limit that [kind of talk] because it can be controversial,” Mayorga said.

Mayorga related celebrities talking about politics at award shows to athletes expressing their political views on the field. From what she’s witnessed, sports fans don’t want to hear about the players’ political views; they want to know what’s happening with the sport itself. If sport fans want to hear about politics, they’ll watch CNN or some other news outlet, she said.

An award ceremony, Mayorga said,  is the perfect event for a celebrity to speak their mind if they wish to stir the pot and get a conversation started.

“If you want to spark controversy, then yes an award show is the place to do so,” Mayorga said. “You’ll definitely get the media talking, but you need to be careful. The media also has their own opinions as well. If you want people to notice that you are talking about politics, you’ll definitely stand out at the Emmys or any award show.”

Unlike Preziosi- Arnott and Mayorga, Michael Tartaglia, a psychology major at CCM, believes celebrities shouldn’t speak their mind about their political views at all.

“I don’t think it’s their place to,” Tartaglia said. “They’re there for entertainment purposes, and they shouldn’t be telling other people how they think or how their audience should think.

“No one cares about how Oprah feels about Trump or Hillary,” Tartaglia said. “She is in her own world, experiencing her own things. People in the working class perceive life so different. Oprah is kind of protected from [the struggles of common society] because she has fame and power.”

Tartaglia said  responding to followers’ questions about politics is fine for a celebrity to do on their social media, but to openly speak about their political views without being prompted to is not acceptable.

“They shouldn’t bring [politics] to the forefront of an award show,” Tartaglia said. “It should be about the award and about the entertainment. That’s their job, and they should focus on what the award shows are really about.”

Fashion has become a large canvas for celebrities to express their opinions in without verbally saying them. The 2018 Emmy Awards, which were held Monday, Sept. 17, had numerous celebrities decked out in politically driven attire.

Padma Lakshmi, a famous model and Top Chef host, wore a gown she had previously worn to the Vogue India Women of the Year Awards to highlight the toll fashion has on the environment, and also sported a small blue ribbon to support the American Civil Liberties Union. Black-ish star Jenifer Lewis dawned her Nike attire for the red carpet walk in support of the company’s decision to use Colin Kaepernick as the face of their most recent ad campaign.

Fashion is the most tasteful way to express your political opinion, Mayorga thinks.

“[Incorporating your opinion] into fashion is smart,” she said. “Your clothing speaks for you, like, you’re putting yourself out there but in a different way other than just speaking your stance.”

In recent years, the number of award show viewers has plummeted. According to the Los Angeles Times, the 2018 Emmy Awards only drew 10.2 million viewers which was down 10.5 percent from last year’s show. But the Emmys are not the only award ceremony hitting record low viewing numbers.

As stated by Forbes, the Oscars also took a hit in viewers this year by captivating only 26.5 million, marking a 19 percent decrease from the previous year. The New York Times found that this year’s Grammy Awards plunged 24 percent with only 19.8 million viewers. Rolling Stone said that the MTV Video Music Awards drew a mere 5.2 million viewers, which was an all-time low since Nielsen Media started tracking the views in 1994.

CCM marks 50th anniversary with aerial photo

Drone flies over group forming “50” on campus lawn

By Jamie Corter

A group of students and staff came out to form a “50” in the grass outside the Learning Resource Center while a drone took a picture and video as it flew overhead during college hour Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Setting up an event like this is no simple task, according to Kathleen Brunet Eagan, CCM’s marketing and public relations director.

“We started the project over a year ago when we started working with the 50th anniversary committee,” Brunet Eagan said. “Early on, the committee had talked about doing a human 50, but the drone part came later . . . If you look on the Internet now, you can find a lot of examples of [pixel people drone photos].”

In the fall of 1968, County College of Morris opened its door for the first time to 592 full-time and 703 part-time students who were eager to earn their college degree. The college has changed drastically since Dr. Sherman H. Masten, the schools first president, broke ground in 1967. Over its 50 years, CCM has welcomed three presidents: Dr. Sherman H. Master, Dr. Edward J. Yaw and Dr. Anthony J. Iacono, built approximately 15 buildings, and created more than 45 programs that students can enroll in. Special events have been set up throughout the 2018-2019 academic year to celebrate the college’s 50th year of being open.

The anniversary committee had stumbled upon some information that helped them better understand the history of the school while they were planning.

“We unintentionally obtained a lot of historical documents from the county about CCM’s founding,” Brunet Eagan said. “The media center is actually pulling out old video clips and making them available in a project called, ‘From the Archives’ . . .   It’s really been a process of rediscovering the college’s history.”

The largest event to celebrate the school’s anniversary comes later in the academic year. In May, the school will hold a large gala to celebrate 50 years, and one weekend will be known as “Titan Weekend.” In addition to these events, the college has an art exhibit, located in the Learning Resource Center’s art and design gallery, that is dedicated to the history of CCM. But until the gala, Allison Ognibene, CCM’s marketing and public relations specialist, has been posting past photos of the school on the college’s Instagram.

“We know that a lot of the events have been scattered,” Ognibene said. “So each week, there will be a photo from CCM’s past on our social media to celebrate the 50th anniversary. That way it’s always on people’s minds.”

Event ideas aren’t permanent once they are proposed. Throughout this process, many ideas got thrown out or changed, Ognibene said.

“When you’re in a committee, sometimes you have these ideas, and they get remodeled,” she said. “For example, we had a completely different logo and that changed . . . You can have the most amazing ideas, but write them down and save them for later. Don’t marry your ideas.”

Actors audition at fall musical callbacks

By Jamie Corter

Stage director Marielaine Mammon asked her potential cast members how far someone would go for revenge, what drives a person to kill, and what choices lead one to become mad before auditions in the Dragonetti Auditorium began for the fall musical.


Then, Mammon, chair of the music, dance, and performing arts department, called for the first group of female performers onto the stage to vie for a spot in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

During the callback, some students shared their inner monologues about the audition process and the opera itself.

“Getting over yourself is the scariest part,” said Nicole Rodgers, a musical theater major. “There are going to be people who will be better than you; there will be people who are worse than you, but you have to do what’s best for you.”

Emily Larsen,  a musical theater major, also said that auditioners need to work past their self-doubts.

“The scariest part is once you see the competition,” she said. “You start to second guess yourself. But if you’re calm, you know yourself and know what you can do, you can get over that pretty easily.”

Each group lined up across the stage. One by one they stepped forward, said their name and number, the piano played, and they transitioned into the characters they sang as.

The plot follows a vengeful barber on a path towards insanity, so audiences can expect some characters in the musical thriller to have a touch of crazy in them. On the surface Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is as a bloody, brutal musical about revenge and love, but it has the ability to reach many audiences.

The Sweeney Todd character first appeared in British 19 Century serial short stories and has since made his way into several stage and major motion picture adaptations, most recently in 2007 with Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street where Johnny Depp plays Sweeney Todd, a barber who returns to his hometown of London with the intent of vengefully murdering the corrupt Judge Turpin who sentences Todd to prison in Australia for a crime he did not commit because he lusts for his wife, Johanna. In his madness, Sweeney Todd kills several of his customers and sends their corpses to Mrs. Lovett, his landlady who sells the victim’s meat in her restaurant.

“I was drawn to [Johanna] because she a very unique type of ingenue,” said Anna Hill, a music major. “Usually these types of characters  . . . are very innocent and one-dimensional. Johanna has some of that in her character, but she also has a beautiful contrast because of the amount of pain she has experienced in her life.”

Mrs. Lovett, the woman who finds herself drawn to Sweeney Todd and joins in on his revenge schemes, interested Corrie Down, a musical theater major at CCM, the most.
“Mrs. Lovett is such a multi-faceted role. I was immediately drawn to her and went on an emotional roller-coaster with her the first time I watched the musical,” Down said.

Larsen said that she was interested in the beggar woman’s role.

“The beggar woman is so interesting because of her backstory,” she said. “There’s like two characters that you get to work with in one. And honestly, the crazier [the character] the more fun.”

“I think anyone can enjoy Sweeney Todd,” Down said. “I’ve had mothers who hate violence and gore tell me this is their favorite musical. The show focuses on revenge and murder yet somehow stays tasteful and beautiful.”

Solieman said that an audience member coming to see the fall musical definitely needs a strong stomach.

“But also one with a curiosity about how twisted a human mind can become with revenge,” she said.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street will join the list of the many musicals CCM has put on.

“I can’t recommend the musical theater program enough,” Down said. “We get such a well rounded education especially for a 2 year program. The staff is constantly rooting for us. They want us to be the best that we can be, and they help us achieve greatness.”

Rogers said that she is loving her major’s classes so far.

“It’s not all fun and games though, so if anybody wants to be a musical theater major, just know that you have to really want to be there,” Rogers said. “Even so, I wouldn’t be happier doing anything else.”

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street will open at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8 and will run for two more days with shows at 7:30 p.m. Friday Nov. 9, and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10.