HOT TAKE: Down to Earth with Zac Efron

The faculty in the Comm Program at Southern Oregon University features several avid global travelers, but none more on-the-go than Associate Professor Precious Yamaguchi. So it’s completely on-brand when she recommends the Iquitos episode of Netflix’s Down to Earth with Zac Efron as her summer Hot Take of things she is watching, hearing or reading that will inspire her teaching at SOU this year.

In its first six episodes, Down to Earth sets up an oddball partnership between Efron, best known as the star of the High School Musical film trilogy, and Darin Olien, an author, podcaster and entrepreneur who focuses on healthy lifestyles. The two travel across the globe seeking experiences in healthy and sustainable living, ending up with a provocative season finale in Iquitos, Peru.

Zac Efron and Darin Olien travel the world seeking healthy and sustainable lifestyles on their Netflix series

“Watching a travel show hosted by two attractive and charismatic individuals traveling to some of the most gorgeous places in the world might seem indulgent,” Yamaguchi said, “but the Iquitos episode was anything but superficial. I watched it two days after the Almeda fire in Southern Oregon destroyed hundreds of homes in Talent and Phoenix, and it energized me to see how this episode links to urgent concerns around climate change and environmental justice in our community.”

On their journey to Iquitos, Efron and Olien explore the Amazon River, which has over 40,000 species of plants. Some of these plants and trees have provided people with medicinal powers and nutrition for generations. They also learn more about the Ayuhuasca Foundation’s initiatives to help people find deeper meaning in their bodies, minds, and emotions through the use of psychoactive tea.

The beauty of the Amazon trip is unexpectedly and tragically contrasted with the 2018 Woolsey fire in Malibu, which destroyed Olien’s home. While in Peru, he learns the devastating news that his house was among approximately 370 structures obliterated in the blaze.

“The need for dialogue about climate change and sustainability is inescapable,” said Yamaguchi. “Down to Earth ends with Darin at the site of his burned down house, screaming with pain and anger at the wreckage. Our communities and forests are experiencing some of the most ruinous fires of our lifetime, and a global commitment to deal with climate change is long overdue.”

As we embark on a Fall term unlike any other, Communication and Digital Cinema faculty at Southern Oregon University are sharing weekly Hot Takes of things we are reading, watching and doing that get us excited to get back in the (virtual) classroom. Stay connected with whatever got you to this post, and we’ll look forward to bringing you more communications about Communication soon.

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Earn BA/BS Degrees and Certificates in Communication Studies, Social Media & Public Engagement, or Digital Cinema @SOUAshland. #ThatIsSOU

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Comm, Media & Cinema @ Southern Oregon University

Comm, Media & Cinema @ Southern Oregon University

Earn BA/BS Degrees and Certificates in Communication Studies, Social Media & Public Engagement, or Digital Cinema @SOUAshland. #ThatIsSOU

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