The Hanover High Drama Club has a lot to celebrate after reaching the semi-finals of the 2019 Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild Festival. Hanover performed the play “At the Bottom of Lake Missoula,” written by Ed Monk and directed by Mr. Collin Fahey. It is the story of a college student, played by junior Maia Arbia, whose entire family is killed in a tornado.
The Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild (METG) puts on a competition every year of 40-minute short plays. Schools from all over the state perform their plays in front of a panel of judges. The top two schools from each of the 14 regional prelims move on to the semifinals, with the hope of eventually making it to the state final.
For the second straight year, Hanover hosted the local preliminary round, a huge ordeal that requires coordination and cooperation from all parties. Kathryn Sheridan, a sophomore who took part in the festival, said that she enjoyed hosting the March 2 prelim, where 8 schools performed. “It’s cool to see people come to our school and perform on our stage,” she said.
Going into festival, there was a lot of anticipation for how Hanover would measure up against strong competition. The Weymouth High Drama Club won the state competition last year, and Hanover was set to compete against them in the prelim. Combining acting, lighting and music in unique ways, Hanover’s performance finished in second place behind Weymouth and advanced to the semifinals.
As you can imagine, Hanover’s accomplishment was huge! Kyle Knight, a junior, was at first shocked to find out they where moving on. “This is the first time for Hanover and it was really cool to be a part of a team,” he said.
After the prelim, Hanover continued to work to perfect the production. The cast worked on their projection, Sheridan said, and keeping “onstage connections with each other fresh.”
The semi-finals were held March 16 at Brockton High School, and Hanover entered the competition ready to take on the challenge. While Hanover did not advance to the final, several cast members received accolades, including senior Fred Trankels for acting and Peter Bell, James Kadra and Will Nunnery for the accompanying percussion.
The cast and crew deserves a big cheer for all the work they put into this show. Festival is “a chance for drama and theater students to learn from and share with each other,” said Dr. Walsh, HHS Humanities director. ” It’s a day when lots of long-term friendships are made and students get to spend time with like-minded young theater artists.” Congratulations again to Mr. Fahey, Mrs. McEvoy-Duane and the entire cast and crew.
The 2019 Oscar Awards Show had some great moments, wins and speeches. Let’s touch on some of the most monumental:
The Best Picture award is one of the most anticipated of the season. This year, there were eight nominees: Black Panther, Roma, A Star is Born, Vice, Bohemian Rhapsody, BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite, and Green Book. Green Book, a movie about the struggles of African Americans during the time of segregation, took the award.
Writer/director Spike Lee won the first Oscar of his long career for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman. His speech touched on a lot of topics including Black History Month and the next presidential election. His speech ended with a call to action: “The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing!” This was a reference to his 1989 film about race relations called Do the Right Thing. His speech triggered a lot of controversy, including a response tweeted by President Trump, who called Lee’s comments a “racist hit.”
Some of my favorite and least favorite Oscar moments were from the short films! I enjoyed the animated Bao and I was really happy with its Oscar win. The acceptance speech was simple and full of thanks and gratitude. While I was happy with the win for Period. End of Sentence as it focused on some important topics, I didn’t have a great response to the acceptance speech. Some people were thrilled with Rayka Zehtabchi’s joke, “I’m not crying because I’m on my period.” I though it negated the whole purpose of the movie. It was a cringe-worthy moment.
Overall, I was, for the most part, pretty happy with the 2019 Oscars. I think it was a better awards show than many we have seen in recent years – even without an official host – and that is a huge accomplishment.
I was very disappointed with Super Bowl LIII’s Pepsi halftime show, featuring Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi. I went into the show with such high expectations and it did nothing for me. There was a lot of flash for very little substance. The song choices, which included Maroon 5’s hits “This Love” and “Girls Like You,” could have been better. I was bored. I wanted to jump around and sing along but I couldn’t because it was so unexciting. I hated the outfit choice of Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine as well. It was a poorly executed halftime show with very little storyline, nothing to get me engaged. Yeah, sure, fire is cool, but if you don’t have anything backing it up, it’s pointless to include it in the first place.
I think that Travis Scott, best known for “Sicko Mode,” did a decent job but I feel like he should have cut out the curse words in his songs to make it a family-friendly concert. With all the words being bleeped out, you could hardly recognize the song. I was very upset with Big Boi’s performance. This is more of a personal gripe because when I heard he was performing, I got very excited to hear his hit song “All Night.” He didn’t even end up singing it.
I think the stage setup was very boring and static. With the huge budget they most likely had, the producers could have utilized more technology and maybe even some auto tune. Overall, I think the halftime show didn’t live up to the hype, and many critics agreed, using words such as “bland” and “underwhelming” to describe it.The Atlantic magazine called it “designed to be forgotten.”
Gillette, a well-known Boston-based razor company, has recently put out a new commercial that does not feature razors. Instead, it draws attention to the idea of toxic masculinity.
If you haven’t already seen the video, watch it here.
What is toxic masculinity? While there are many different ways to describe the idea, at its root it is the notion of what it means to be a “real” man. This could mean not showing emotions, having a belligerent nature or having dominion over things. It is often believed that because the idea of being a “man” is so important, men act hostile or extra aggressive and repress their emotions. The Gillette commercial featured this idea and went into depth about how toxic masculinity influences societal norms for men.
There are many opinions on this commercial. Some say it was a way to call out men and make them feel ashamed. Others argue that it perfectly addresses a serious problem in our culture. Some are angry at the fact that the ad focuses on politics instead of razors. While everyone’s opinion is valuable and deserves to be heard, I’d like to share mine.
I personally thought the commercial was well-done and addressed issues that we as a country face. It talks about how society often uses the phrase “boys will be boys” to excuse aggressive or inappropriate behavior. Not only did it address toxic masculinity, but I thought it did a great job of addressing topics like victim shaming. People, specifically women, go through a lot to avoid getting sexually harassed. We are taught to not walk alone at night, to not wear suggestive clothing, to train ourselves so we’ll be able to defend ourselves if ever needed. This commercial reversed that by making the point that behaviors such as cat-calling make people feel the need to protect themselves. It drew notice to the fact that this behavior will always be the attacker’s fault, never the victim’s. I also though the commercial did a really could job of addressing the societal norms that men and women are expected to uphold. I feel like some feminists can get a little to obsessed with the adversities that women face and ignore the fact that men can face similar ones.
Many people say that the commercial was unfair because it pointed fingers at men and made them feel poorly of themselves. While I do see where this point was coming from, I would like to draw attention to the decades of commercials that have sexualized or objectified women. Rather than exposing the problems with those conventional ideas, those commercials gave into them, making women feel poorly of themselves.
Overall, whether you liked or disliked the commercial, I think it deserves thought. I feel it calls attention to behaviors and norms in society that shouldn’t exist. It’s important to ask yourself: do you ever see, participate in or experience this behavior? If so, what are you going to do about it?
I congratulate Gillette for acknowledging the power of its media presence. They took a risk, making a commercial they knew might anger some, in order to spark a conversation — and maybe even a change — in society.
2019 has finally arrived! The new year brings a fresh start for everyone and gives us a chance to reflect on the events that took place last year. There were a lot of memorable moments from the entertainment world in 2018, dare I say, a lot of tea . . .
Arguably the most talked about pregnancy of the year was Kylie Jenner. Although rumors abounded, she and boyfriend Travis Scott kept it a secret right up until their daughter, Stormi, was born. The news was finally broken on Feb. 4, three days after birth. Scott and Jenner are still together.
Across the pond, Prince Louis, the third child of Prince William and Duchess Kate, was born April 23. The royal couple has an older son and daughter.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West also had their third child, a baby girl named Chicago, on Jan. 15.
Sadly we lost some of the greats in the last year, from the pioneer of comic books to a critically acclaimed rapper.
Aretha Franklin “Queen of Soul,” 3/25/52 – 8/16/18
Burt Reynolds Actor, Oscar Nominee, 2/11/36 – 9/6/18
Stan Lee Marvel Comics Creator, Appeared in Marvel Films, 12/28/22 – 11/12/18
Anthony Bourdain Chef, Televison Personality, 6/25/56 – 6/8/18
Mac Miller Rapper, 1/19/92 – 6/7/18
Stand-outs on Screen
This year’s blockbusters included “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Incredibles 2,” “Black Panther,” and, my personal favorite, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” These films crushed the box office, earning anywhere from $200,000 all the way to well over $1,000,000,000. One of the biggest names in TV Shows this year was Sandra Oh in “Killing Eve.” She was also the first Asian-American woman to be nominated for an Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a drama series, according to Vail Daily.
High Risers on the Music Charts
Childish Gambino, Cardi B, and, of course, Ariana Grande released some of the most notable tunes of 2018. These include “I Like it,” “This is America” and my personal favorite, “Thank you, Next.” Artists like Drake, Post Malone, Camilla Cabello, and Shawn Mendes also topped the charts.
Scandals in Entertainment
There was more to talk about this past year than just Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson breaking up; some serious scandals also occurred in 2018.
Tristan Thompson got caught red-handed on video cheating on pregnant girlfriend Khloe Kardashian just as the star was about to give birth. After their daughter, True, was born, the two stars decided to work it out and are still together, healing for the sake of their family.
Roseanne Barr’s reboot of her popular sitcom “Roseanne” was quickly canceled following a racist tweet that Barr sent out about one of President Obama’s former staff members. ABC claimed that her tweet was quite inconsistent with their values and something like that could not just slide by. The show attempted to continue without her by killing off her character.
Demi Lovato, who has struggled with addiction for years and gotten clean several times, almost lost her life this year. After being brought back from overdose with Narcan, Lovato entered rehab and is now well over 90 days sober.
The last topic of Tea for 2018 is Marriages, and this past year we had a lot! All of these couples seem very happy and I wish them the best for the future.
Prince Harry and Former Hollywood star Meghan Markle tied the knot in May.
Supermodel Karlie Kloss and Joshua Kushner got married last October.
Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin had a whirlwind love story that ended up with the two married in 2018, exact date unknown.
Just before Christmas on Dec. 23, on-again off-again couple Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth finally exchanged vows.
Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra also got married in December.
2018 was packed with events, births, deaths, and media that rocked the entertainment world! This past year was totally one to remember and no one knows what 2019 will bring. Will the teapot fill with new scandals? Only time will tell.
2018 was a long, long year that has finally come to a close. While it was a controversial year for, well, pretty much everything, the music world was thriving. The 61st Grammy nominations came out in December, and there isn’t one artist who doesn’t deserve to win on the Feb. 10 awards show. While I don’t enjoy a lot of the music that is mainstream today, I do love music. I wanted to put together a list of the most enjoyed, played and well-received songs by not only the general population of America, but also students in school.
To put together this list I started with the Spotify app’s “2018 Most Viral Songs” playlist. I then looked at the Billboard Hot 100 song list for the week of Christmas. There were 16 songs that appeared on both lists. I paired the songs into groups of two based on the number of weeks it was on the Billboard 100. I wanted to pair songs together based on their release date, so a song from January wasn’t going against a song from June. The one from January could have easily had a bigger following and I wanted to make it fair. I put eight polls on my Instagram story and invited people to vote for the best song of the pairs. With that, I narrowed it down to the eight best songs of 2018. Here they are, in no particular order:
1) “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
This song premiered with the movie A Star is Born featuring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, who also directed. It very quickly went viral, reaching #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in its first weeks. On my Instagram poll, it was up against “Taki Taki” by DJ Snake. It was a close vote but “Shallow” won with 59% of the votes. Both the movie A Star is Born and the song Shallow have been well-received since their release, and both are worth a watch and a listen.
2) “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee
Another song written for a movie, “Sunflower”debuted in October, ahead of the December release of Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse. The song peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100. The song won its poll against Bad Bunny’s “MIA” by a landslide, with 86 percent of the votes.
3) “Sicko Mode” by Travis Scott
This song was a collaboration with the likes of Drake and many others. It spent two consecutive weeks as number two on the Hot 100 until reaching its peak position at number one. In its poll, it beat out “Beautiful” by Bazzi with 63 percent of the votes.
4) “Better” by Khalid
“Better” has spent a total of 15 weeks on the chart with a peak position of number 29. The low peak showed in the poll. It was a close race, topping Halsey’s “Without Me” by only two percent of the votes.
5) “Close To Me” by Ellie Goulding
A comeback for the British singer-songwriter, “Close to Me” has spent six weeks on chart. Even though it only reached 57 on the Billboard chart, fans loved it. It won its poll against Silk City and Dua Lipa’s “Electricity” with 64 percent of the votes.
6) “Lucid Dreams” by Juice WRLD“Lucid Dreams” reached number one on the Hot 100. However, it barely beat out Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” in the Instagram poll, winning 56 percent of the votes.
7) “Better Now” by Post Malone
“Better Now” has spent 35 weeks on the chart, reaching as high as number three. It won its poll against Cardi B’s “I Like It” with 54 percent of the votes.
8) “thank you, next” by Ariana Grande
How could it not be here? “thank you, next” is one of Grande’s many viral hits this year. It came in the wake of her short-lived engagement to comedian Pete Davidson. The music video had as much success as the song, parodying Grande’s favorite movies. The song references all of her past relationships and is an anthem to moving on. It’s inspired countless memes and prompted many jokes made by none other than Davidson himself on SNL. It won its poll against “Happier” by Marshmello and Bastille with 71 percent of votes.
2018 was a fantastic year for gaming. A variety of releases from both new and old franchises hit the gaming community by storm. Whether it was for their story, multiplayer capability, or their art, many games received praise from both critics and players alike. While there were so many fantastic releases this year, there were a few that rose above the rest. Here is my list of the top 10 games released in 2018:
#10 Call of Duty Black Ops 4
Black Ops 4 is a new and interesting take on the Call of Duty Black Ops series. This installment of Call of Duty is more focused on multiplayer, as Black Ops 4 contains no formal campaign, and instead focuses on its zombie mode and multiplayer battles. While the lack of a formal campaign was a bit surprising to some, Black Ops 4’s variety of multiplayer modes, its zombie mode, and new battle royale mode more then make up for the absence of a campaign. The game also supports split screen, allowing you and friend to play online or offline together on the same console. Overall, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 is a solid multiplayer game with immense variety that definitely deserves a spot on this list.
#9 Assassins Creed Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is an open world stealth action game that takes place during the Peloponnesian War. The player takes the role of either Alexios or Kassandra, mercenary warriors whose personalities vary depending on how you play the game. While the game does have a story to it, the player is given a large amount of freedom, allowing you to explore the large and fascinating world around you. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey also has a fantastic combat system that lets you customize your character’s weapons, armor, and abilities to suit your playstyle. Overall, Assassins Creed Odyssey’s fantastic graphics, interesting story, and great combat system make it a game to remember in 2018.
#8 Monster Hunter World
Monster Hunter World is an action role playing game that allows you to hunt and slay ferocious monsters. As a monster hunter, you’re tasked with going to the New World, a recently discovered land that is crowded with powerful monsters. While in the New World, you can battle a variety of beasts and monsters, each with different looks, abilities, and difficulties. After defeating a monster, you can harvest it and use the monster’s materials to craft stronger weapons and armor for yourself, allowing you to face greater challenges. Monster Hunter World also has a variety of weapons to choose from, each with a unique and interesting play style. My one critique of the game would be an underdeveloped story, which took away from the fun gameplay.
#7 Far Cry Five
Far Cry Five is open world action shooter that takes place in fictional Hope County, Montana. You play as the Deputy, a member of the Hope County sheriff’s department who tries to liberate the county from Eden’s Gate, a large and violent cult that is preparing for Judgement Day. As the Deputy, you roam around Hope County’s massive open world, freeing civilians, completing missions, and destabilizing Eden’s Gate wherever you go. The game has a large number of fun side quests to complete, which can reward the player with money. The game also has a unique group of characters, each with their own interesting personalities and backstories. The fun that comes with Far Cry Five does not end with the story, as the game’s arcade mode lets you play on custom player-generated maps, allowing for almost infinite replayability.
Celeste is an indie platformer game that is being celebrated for its pixel art style and engaging story. In Celeste, you play as Madeline, a young woman struggling with depression as she tries to climb Celeste Mountain. Along the way she encounters numerous platforming challenges, which require you to jump and dash with speed and precision. These challenges begin to grow more difficult as you continue through the game, and the levels gain more and more hazards that can spell certain death for your character if you’re not fast enough. These levels are also accompanied by Madeline’s development as a character, as she encounters new friends and faces her own dark reflection. Overall, Celeste’s interesting and emotional narrative, fun but difficult gameplay, and beautiful pixel art style make it a game to remember.
#5 Forza Horizon 4
Forza Horizon 4 is the eleventh installment in the series, an open world racing game with a variety of cars, races and multiplayer options. With over 400 cars to choose from and the ability to create your own races with your friends, Forza Horizon 4 gives you countless play options. On top of that, Forza Horizon 4 also includes changing seasons and weather conditions, which make no race or play session exactly alike. The sheer amount of variety and replayability makes the game a fun and memorable experience.
#4 Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Super Smash Bros Ultimate is a crossover fighting game featuring characters from different Nintendo series, along with a few from other companies. With 76 playable fighters and echo fighters with more downloadable content on the way, Super Smash Bros Ultimate has the biggest roster of the entire Super Smash Bros series. This large and unique roster is paired with 103 stages to play on, along with a variety of different game modes and activities. Super Smash Bros Ultimate also includes a new story mode, which challenges the player with unique and difficult battles. Overall, Super Smash Bros Ultimate is a fantastic fighting game with tons of replayability and a fun story mode.
#3 Marvel’s Spider-Man
Marvel’s Spider-Man is an action adventure game that allows players to swing through the streets of New York as the one and only Spider-Man. Set eight years after Peter Parker became the famed crime fighter, the game focuses on trying to reclaim New York City from a variety of classic foes such as Mr. Negative, Electro, Rhino, Scorpion, Doctor Octopus. Along the way, Spider-Man can participate in side quests for rewards and gain new combat skills and suit abilities, which can give you the edge in later battles. The game is also accompanied by a fluent and responsive combat system that makes the game even more of a blast to play.
#2 God of War 4
In God of War 4, you play as Kratos, the former Greek god of war, as he travels to ancient Norway and battles against monsters and gods from Norse mythology. In this installment of God of War, Kratos is accompanied by his son Arteus as the two embark to spread the ashes of Kratos’ wife on the highest peak of the Nine Realms. Along the way, the pair encounter numerous beasts from Norse mythology such as Wulvers and Draugurs, along with Norse gods such as Baldur, Modi, and Magni. God of War 4 also includes a variety of side quests and puzzles. This story is coupled with a fluent combat system that focuses on Kratos using his Leviathan Axe and Guardian Shield in a variety of combos and deadly abilities. Overall, God of War 4’s excellent story, combat system, and puzzles make it one of the greatest games of 2018.
#1 Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 is an open world action shooter developed by Rockstar Games. You play as Arthur Morgan, a sharpshooting outlaw that rides with Dutch Van Der Linde and his gang. After a failed robbery in the town of Blackwater, Dutch’s gang suffers huge losses, and is forced to flee to avoid incarceration. The game then focuses on Arthur and his fellow allies trying to rebuild the gang’s funds so they can head West and escape the law. While on this mission, Arthur is involved in train robberies, old scores, lost loves, feuding families, and an ever-changing America that wishes to destroy his way of life. As you go through the game, you get to interact with your fellow gang members and learn about their pasts and personalities, each different and interesting in their own way. Along with the game’s intriguing story, Red Dead Redemption 2 also includes a large open world and a number of side quests and activities that can give you money and special rewards. The game also includes a fast-paced combat system that focuses on swift and steady aim and using the environment as cover. Overall, Red Dead Redemption 2’s fantastic story, interesting characters, numerous side quests, and gritty combat system make it the best game of 2018.
Mark your calendars for December 13th, HHS! That date is opening night for our very own production of Little Shop of Horrors. The musical was written by Howard Ashman and composed by Alan Menken, composer for lots of Disney movies including The Little Mermaid. It is a love story about a young man, Seymour, with a crush on a girl named Audrey. While working in a florist shop, Seymour discovers a mysterious plant that he names Audrey 2. After the death of Audrey’s boyfriend Orin, Seymour feeds Orin’s body to the plant. Audrey 2 grows more thirsty for blood so Seymour has the task of hunting down more bodies to feed the plant. To find out what happens next, come see the musical!
The musical is directed by our very own Mr. Fahey and Mr. Wade. According to Mr. Wade, Little Shop was chosen because the Hanover Drama program likes to have a mix between older and newer musicals. This particular musical fits the roles of students that were already in mind for the cast. Emma Gannon plays Audrey, Fred Trankels is Seymour, Erin Foley plays Audrey 2, Ben Manning is Mr. Mushnik, Chris Manning plays Orin, and Elise Falvey, Michelle Sylvester, and Kathryn Sheridan play the Greek Chorus Girls. The show does not have many main roles, Mr. Wade said. In fact, it’s supposed to be focused on the ensemble. The cast loves the show so much and is having so much fun with it.
The musical can be described in many different ways. It has good moral messages about greed and love, but is also described as “darkly humorous” by Mr. Wade, who actually played Seymour once in a school production! The show is fun and timely and both Mr. Fahey and Mr. Wade look forward to it. I know that I certainly am too.
Performances will be held Thursday, Dec. 13, and Friday, Dec. 14, at 7 pm. A Saturday matinee will be held at 2 pm on Dec. 15. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens
Alex McFarland has always enjoyed burying his nose in a book. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Alex would be inspired to write one of his own. That book, started for a contest in middle school, has been published and is now available for purchase on Amazon.com.
A senior at HHS, Alex is a well-rounded student, participating in many after school activities including Lit Mag and Drama Club as well as excelling in his classes. Back in middle school, Alex entered a writing contest with his friends. They each wrote a story and uploaded it to a website to get other people’s perspectives. While Alex didn’t win, he decided to keep working on the story. Inspired by his favorite author, Chris D’Lacey, he wrote What Was Missing. The story follows Madeline, whose father has fallen into a coma after a mysterious archaeological dig releases the ‘Iss.’ In a world full of technology and dragons, Madeline joins other children in a mission to rescue their parents and save the world.
On his book, you won’t see Alex’s name. Instead, the author is listed as Draconis Solutus, which means” free dragon” in Latin. Alex originally created the pen name because of a website called Watt Pad which allows writers to express their creativity and ideas. He didn’t want his real name out on the Internet. From what I know, he plans to continue using this pen name on future books, which you can purchase from him or on Amazon for $15. Alex even did the cover art himself. He took a picture of a cardboard roll, like a paper towel roll, and used editing software to create the cool effect, then drew a dragon eye in the middle.
Alex is currently in the process of editing two more books, The Game of Tag, which is a sequel to What Was Missing, and Project Anchorak: The Buried City. I have already read his first published book and loved it. The characters were really cool, and the plot was well thought out. He is planning to release the second book in a month or two.
Alex used so much creativity to build the world portrayed in the book and imagine what everything could be. He credits his success to the support of his family, especially his younger brother, William, a freshman at HHS, his girlfriend Megan, and all of his friends.
The documentary Three Identical Strangers starts off as a happy reunion of three young men who find out they’re long-lost brothers. But it doesn’t take long for the viewer to realize the whole thing is not going to end well. When the brothers find out they were separated at birth for a secret research experiment, their joy turns to devastation. And as I watched, so did mine.
Available via streaming services including Comcast’s On Demand, the movie chronicles the lives of Eddy Galland, Robert Shafran and David Kellman. When 19-year-old Robert arrives at a small community college in 1980 and is greeted by strangers as a an old friend, he is mystified. He soon meets a classmate who introduces him to Eddy, who shares his looks, birthday and adoption story. The brothers become a media sensation, profiled in newspapers and on talk shows nationwide. The publicity leads David to realize he’s actually the third of the separated siblings. The boys go viral before going viral was even a thing, embracing their fame with a bachelor pad and club hopping, an appearance in a Madonna movie, and even a Manhattan restaurant named Triplets. Everyone marvels about their shared interests and mannerisms, even though they were raised in very different families. It’s a very 1980s phenomenon, and I couldn’t help but get swept up in the fun they were having.
The first sign I had that something was not right was when I realized that the documentary, filmed some 30 years after the reunion, only has interviews with two of the brothers. Where was the third?
In the film, joy soon leads to confusion and anger. The families confront the New York City adoption agency that placed the boys, demanding to know why they were never told the siblings existed. The adoption agency claimed it would have been too hard to place all three children in one home. But soon an author writing a book about twins learns there was a much darker reason. The boys, and other sets of twins from this same adoption agency, were separated so researchers could study how different parenting styles would impact children who were genetically similar. You may have heard of the debate over nature versus nurture: is it our DNA or our surroundings that has a greater influence? The study, led by the late psychologist Peter Neubauer, followed the boys into their teens with questionnaires and observation. Its existence was a closely guarded secret – the parents were told it was a study about adoption – and its results were never published.
Discovery of the study devastated the brothers. They felt robbed of their childhood and manipulated as lab rats. While they dealt with this revelation, they also struggled with the realization that the similarities so obvious upon their first meeting masked some very significant differences. As the brothers grew older, started families, and went into business together, they saw that their upbringings had instilled different work ethics, values and beliefs. Disagreements developed, and they were no longer the carefree trio. They also saw signs of mental illness, which they later suspected might be another reason their family was targeted for the study.
The movie entertained, but also made me think — not a bad combination for a lazy Friday after Thanksgiving. It inspired some serious discussion about nature versus nurture, the ethics of research and the effects of overnight celebrity. We never get answers about whether the study learned anything worthwhile. To me, it was just a glaring example of the scientists’ arrogance at playing God. I felt terrible for the two adult brothers still living today. When we finally learned what happened to the third, it was heartbreaking. Growing up with four siblings, there have, of course, been times when I wished they didn’t exist. But I also can’t imagine never knowing them. While the brothers reunited at 19, the years they spent apart – and the knowledge of why they were split up – haunted their entire lives.