The Monthly: Letters from the Editors

The Monthly

My love for journalism, my dedication to The Daily Northwestern –– it all began with arts and entertainment. My second article ever for the publication was about “NSFW,” a student play by Spectrum Theatre Company that tackled sexual consent and female objectification in the media. The production was put on during a time when rape culture was the dominant subject of discussion during the 2016 election, and as a wide-eyed freshman, I was simply amazed by the show’s fearless approach toward tackling such a sensitive subject. I wanted to learn more about the passionate student entertainers on campus, which is why I became assistant A&E editor.

Since then, I’ve taken on a string of different responsibilities: web editor, development and recruitment editor, campus editor. Now as a senior in my last quarter at The Daily, I’ve returned to my roots as an editor of The Monthly. And I’m not the only one who has grown over the past three years. Northwestern’s art community is so much more vibrant than when I was a freshman, with talented groups like PROM D8, Honey Butter and Debbie-Marie Brown. Then again, maybe I’ve just learned where to look for good performers. If anything, I hope I can share the amazing talent I’ve witnessed on campus with all of you in the next few issues.

– Catherine Kim

When the going gets extra tough at Northwestern, it’s hard to remember that people actually survive this place and go on to be genuinely successful at their crafts. That’s why I get so excited when I see a famous person mention Northwestern or notice a flash of NU memorabilia in a viral video. Watching talented alumni succeed — whether in spite of Northwestern or because of it, or a little bit of both — gives me hope for the future and just a little bit of pride in this admittedly flawed institution.

Talking to Nick Lehmann and Eva Victor — two comedians who’ve reached nearly untouchable status — made me realize that, not long ago, these people were in my shoes. Granted, I’ll never act in a sketch, do stand-up or write my own television show, but I stress about my future every second of every day, just as they did when they walked this campus. I worry whether I’ve made the most of my time here: Have I met the right people? Have I produced my best work? Have I learned how to work toward my goals while still taking time for myself? No matter how successful they are now, I’d bet every person who passed through this campus has felt that way before they graduated.

Northwestern’s pre-professional culture is pervasive, to our detriment as well as our benefit. It teaches us the importance of strong personal relationships, hard work and discovering our passions. But it also asks us to devalue ourselves in pursuit of commodifying our talents and creating livelihoods from them. Where art — the channeling of human emotion into something many can share — is concerned, that’s a particular drawback. When you ask an artist what piece they’re most proud of, it’s not always the one that went viral or made the most money. But when you can do what you love, impact people in a real way and survive under unjust conditions, you can’t help but feel successful. For now, that’s the ideal we Wildcats strive toward — but it shouldn’t be the only one. Just know that whether or not you tweet something viral, win an award or become the next Stephen Colbert, success is whatever you define it to be.

— Alex Schwartz

The Monthly has often served as a cool way for us student reporters to get to talk to awesome celebs. Our writers have interviewed Seth Meyers, John Krasinski, Gillian Flynn and Meryl Streep (not to flex). As a bit of a theater nerd myself, I loved getting to interview a bunch of NU grads who made it to Broadway for my first-ever Monthly story.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with recognizing all the great stuff making big waves in the culture at large, and I’ll personally fight anyone who tries to say that just because something is popular or “mainstream” means it isn’t good. But this quarter, even though we definitely wouldn’t say no to an interview with, like, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, we want to also make sure we’re highlighting art from all different sources — whether that’s a Broadway stage or Shanley Pavilion, an Oscar-winning movie or a Twitter video.

So many students at this school constantly produce amazing, inspiring work, even though they might not be famous (yet!). And even those who aren’t involved in what we traditionally think of as “the arts” still find ways to be creative and bring their unique perspectives to light. We want to recognize that capital-A “Art” — the kind that gets put on a pedestal, analyzed in film class, think-pieced into oblivion — isn’t the only kind that matters. So, NU: Keep creating, whatever that means to you.

– Maddie Burakoff