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Thanksgiving 2017: TYF Writers Share Who/What We’re Grateful for in Entertainment

The annual tradition continues as The Young Folks writers come together to share what they are thankful for in the world of entertainment. We encourage you to share what you’re thankful for from the world of cinema, books, TV, music or video games.

This year I am thankful for YA books with diverse characters. Many of my favorite books this year have been about characters from different backgrounds than me – for example, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon – and I’ve loved reading outside of my experience and learning from and rooting for these characters. Seeing readers embrace diverse books has given me hope, and I already can’t wait for all of the books with diverse characters slated for 2018 (Children of Blood and Bone, LoveHate & Other Filters, The Belles, and so many more!). – Lauren Wengrovitz

In a year where it seems like every woman in Hollywood has a story about how horrifically she was treated by the industry, I’m thankful for the movie Wonder Woman. This is a movie that could’ve gone wrong so easily, released by a studio that isn’t exactly known for doing right by any of its heroes. Wonder Woman has a history that goes back decades, and unlike most heroines, she doesn’t owe her existence to a male counterpart. She’s not only an advocate for gender equality, she represents many of our best characteristics. So it was fantastic to see the movie do her justice. And it’s also good to know that whenever I need motivation, all I have to do is watch that No Man’s Land scene, and I feel like I can take on the world…or at least meet any deadline I have. – Andrea Thompson

2017 has been a pretty rough year and it’s in this year in particular that I’ve come to rely on entertainment to take me away from what is oftentimes a pretty scary reality. So firstly, I’m thankful to the world of fiction for continuing to engage with stories and characters I can lose myself in. I’m thankful for everyone at The Young Folks, and particularly Gabrielle Bondi and the editors, for taking me in so completely and inviting me to join their wonderful team. I’m thankful to all the outspoken voices on Twitter who call out racism, sexism, ableism, etc. in media, and to whom I look to when my own words escape me. I’m thankful that those who have suffered in any way under the hands of powerful Hollywood men have been able to come forth with their stories and be beacons of strength for others. I’m thankful that a film like Wonder Woman was finally able to be made, that it exceeded expectations, and that Diana Prince’s compassion, hope, and need to do good was made to be far more important than just her physical abilities in a genre that has somewhat lost sight of that. I’m thankful to have made new friends through my love of DCTV and to have attended San Diego Comic Con for the first time. I’m also immensely thankful for films like Girls Trip and The Big Sick, for Sophie Boutros, who co-wrote and directed Solitaire. Finally, I’m thankful to be able to write and add my own unique voice to the world of criticism. – Mae Abdulbaki

In a lot of ways, 2017 is an even harder year to be thankful, but one bright spot has shown through: the Nintendo Switch. While I was always excited about the potential of the new console you can take with you, I was skeptical that Nintendo could pull it off. Thankfully, I was dead wrong. Through scaling mountains in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, taking in the sights of Super Mario Odyssey, and escaping to my farm in Stardew Valley, the Switch has had an unique, irresistible design and a slate of games to match. Hallelujah. – Travis Hymas

This year I’m grateful to have Netflix as part of my life. Not only has it managed to help me catch up on hundreds of movies I had planned to see at some point (new and old!), it also surprises me every month with something that really interests me. Netflix is that cinephile friend that we all want (and need!) to have. Thank you! – Cristina Moreano

Earlier in 2017, I decided to cut my cable. Somehow that means I’ve fallen into an anime hole. There have been so many good shows that I watched this year and, thanks to simulcast sites such as Crunchyroll and Netflix, I’ve been able to keep up with shows as they air and backwatch a few of them that I’ve missed out on. I’m thankful for Aggressive Retsuko, a series of shorts that perfectly capture the annoyances of mundane office life. I’m thankful for My Hero Academia, a beautifully sincere superhero series that takes all the superhero tropes, plays them wonderfully straight and imbues them with so much hope and belief for an amazingly fun ride. My current thanks for is The Ancient Magus’s Bride, a dream-like fantasy series (currently airing) with stunning visuals, gorgeous animation, heartbreaking plotlines, and the best soundtrack I’ve heard to date. Finally, I’m thankful that from what we know is coming up (more MHA! new Cardcaptor Sakura!), 2018 is going to look just as fun as 2017 has been for anime. – Katie Gill

Right now, I am primarily thankful for two things. First, that PBS has been airing a short series of filmed musicals and plays, giving me (and you!) the ability to see the original casts of recent shows like She Loves MeFalsettos, and Indecent. The performance by one of my favorite actors, Andrew Rannells, in “Falsettos” is especially heartbreaking and I love it. Second, I am thankful for the films of Nancy Meyers. I’m working my way through everything she’s done, and her lighthearted, often silly, stories about people with fantastic homes is practically the only entertainment taking me out of my head these days. Thanks, Nance! – Beth Winchester

I’m thankful for Kanye West and all that he’s done for culture.  Ever since his release of The College Dropout in 2004, he’s helped pave the way for a more self-aware style of rap.  Every album he’s put out since his debut has had a distinct sound that many of us have never heard before.  Even today, he’s still staying relevant through his fashion and outspoken nature in the media.  He’s taught me, and many others, to be themselves in every situation.  His musical style and memorable quotes have been an extensive representation of that. – Ryan Feyre

Photo Credit: Timothy M. Schmidt / Chicago International Film Festival

I’m thankful for a warm and welcoming film critics community in Chicago.  I had moved here from a city in which press row was really non-existent so it’s great to be able to chat with other critics and entertainment reporters before and after screenings.  It makes me feel so welcome.  There aren’t that many transgender film critics out there so it feels really nice to be accepted especially at a time when trans folks are still struggling for acceptance.  To be in the same room as film critics whose work I’ve read for years—and still do—is just unbelievable. – Danielle Solzman

This year, my interest in online multiplayer games died. Loot boxes killed it. With everything that transpired regarding Star Wars Battlefront 2 as well as a cavalcade of other games designed not to give players the best time possible, but designed to constantly nudge players toward continuing to spend money, I just feel like the game industry is in a messy transition period that I want no part of. It’s the kind of trend that makes me want to quit the hobby entirely.

But thankfully, that’s not all that came out this year. Horizon Zero Dawn, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Persona 5 all came out this year and are legitimately some of the best games I’ve ever played. Even more thankfully, they all were financial successes, showing the world that there is still a demand for high-quality, focused, singe-player experiences. These stellar games serve as a beacon of hope that gaming as a whole won’t be entirely consumed by cynical, detached corporate greed – and that’s something we can all be thankful for.  – Alexander Suffolk

Never would I have thought that I would be thankful for a video game. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing games, but I tend to move on right after finishing them. I usually don’t think of doing replays or New Game Plus only because I have five other games I need to complete. But, this year, Persona 5 became the exception to my rule.

I’m pretty indifferent on JRPGS. They’re fun, but I don’t go out of my way to play them. However, once I got hold of Persona 5, I couldn’t stop. The 100+ hour gameplay sounded daunting, but it was easily one of the most fun experiences I’ve had.

But Persona 5 doesn’t require that amount of devotion to be addicting. The rich story and art are what make this game worth playing. From crowded subways to city lights, Persona 5 is rich in vibrant colors and is eerily similar to real-world Tokyo. And when the story takes a pivotal turn, the game will occasionally have full-on animated scenes as accompaniment, giving it the anime treatment it truly deserves.

It’s safe to say that Persona 5 has set a new standard for Japanese RPGS. Its stunning graphics, sympathetic characters, and rocking soundtrack makes this world more immersive than some other open world games this year (*cough Mass Effect *cough*). – Yasmin Kleinbart

Persona 5 entered our lives at a scarily poignant time, as it taps into the rebellious nature of being a teenager. That impressionable time where you become more aware of the state of the world and question right and wrong, slowly realizing that, although there is a just way, that many pay it no mind. Bosses, teachers and parents are not gods, but complex humans who make actions and statements that culminate into one definitive truth: humans are selfish. Some are more manipulative and evil hearted than the rest, and all of society has to follow suit either for defense or success.

This summer I was introduced to the unseemly and relatable students of Shujin Academy and the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. These students dive into a metaverse to encounter those they corrupt and simply exact justice by stealing their heart’s dark desires. No conflict, no politics. Just gentlemanly thievery to help good people. In 2017, the landscape has changed with the world’s toxic climate in politics and culture. Through it all, it’s a miracle to see the stories of people speaking up about evil, selfish people in power, and shedding light on pervasive sexual, and general, toxicity. With this bravery, I want to think that people on the receiving end of these injustices can feel a sense of courage and solidarity; that they are not alone. Having Persona 5 land in United States this year and turn out to be so topical, it hits me with a reminder any time I play it: powerful people are truly awful, but more of us are good, and still have the power to make things right. I’m thankful for this game, and I’m thankful to be seeing courage on display as powerful, if not more, in our reality. – Evan Griffin

I’m thankful for the wonderful TYF team who remind me every day through their talent and passion why I love entertainment so much. I’m thankful for wonderful movies like Coco and Lady Bird, moody and expertly crafted albums like Lorde’s Melodrama, books that represent women of color like I Am Not Your Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez, TV like Master of None’s Thanksgiving episode in season 2, and video games that do more than stimulate the senses. – Gabrielle Bondi

What are you thankful for this year?

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