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How Relevant is Understanding Context in Understanding a Piece of Writing?

Have we, as the 21st century audience, begun to read into literature through a pattern we’ve created ourselves? It seems as though we are often taught that there is a set pattern of symbols that we often apply to teaching and learning any piece without considering whether it is of any relevance, stating that the author "may be saying…" Should context, thus, still be considered crucial in reading into a piece of somebody’s work since it is our only valuable piece of information; the only one given to us for certain about the author’s thoughts through their background? Is it the only way of veritably analysing somebody’s work or should there, rather, be left some thought to the reader’s imagination?

  • Interesting topic. You could also address the Death of the Author concept (which might relate more to authorial intent but you could easily tie that into context). – Sadie Britton 15 hours ago
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Prequel-itis: Causes, symptoms, and cures

Symptoms of prequel-itis, in TV shows specifically, include 1) pointless cameos and foreshadowing for the sake of fan service and 2) backtracking to keep the plot from progressing "too far," which would result in the show ending. Examples of victims include Gotham, Smallville, and Merlin.
What I don’t know about, and what I’d be interested in reading, is possible cures for this problem. I am unfamiliar with the Star Wars cartoon prequels, but I’m told they do a better job, so they may hold answers.
Another possible piece of this topic is causes of prequel-itis. Why do prequels exhibit these problems so often? Is there something inherently problematic with prequels in general?

  • Sounds like a good topic in my opinion. Although a more specific definition of prequel-itis would definitely help. You might also include a third point to them. Which is: retroactively improving the already established lore and story of the series. The best example for this include the Walking Dead, as well as Flash. Looking forward to reading about this topic :) – shehrozeameen 2 months ago
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  • @shehrozeameen Prequel-itis, as I see it, is like a syndrome, a set of symptoms that commonly occur together. There isn't really a definition other than "a set of symptoms experienced by prequels including x, y, z...." If the author of the topic could think of a specific definition, of course, he/she'd be welcome to apply it. – noahspud 2 months ago
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  • I'd certainly be interested to read this. Would you also consider doing one for sequelitis, because there are a ton of bad sequels out there. Disney is particularly guilty when it comes to both prequels and sequels. They're also fond of the midquel for some reason. – Stephanie M. 12 hours ago
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  • To be clear, this topic is a suggestion for someone else to write (that's how this works). Also, you do have a point, but sequelitis is a separate thing, and I felt that prequelitis was a topical subject that hadn't gotten much attention. – noahspud 7 hours ago
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  • I think this is a very interesting topic but I disagree with Merlin being placed in the prequel category. Although the show did begin before Arthur was King, the show very much did hit every major event in Arthurian Legend. It included everything from the sword in the stone, knights of the round table, Guinevere's Affair and Arthur's (spoiler alert) eventual death in the series finale. I'd argue that rather than backtracking, the show fast forwarded a bit to hit all these plot points before their pre-decided series end in season 5. The only real difference was that Merlin was depicted as young rather than a wizened old sorcerer adviser. (The series has a host of finale issues that I could probably write a whole different article about but that's not relevant to this comment) – LC Morisset 4 hours ago
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The X-Files Character Juxtaposition

Chris Carter, upon making the main concepts of the show, ensured that the two main characters would be in opposition of one another. The series includes character Dana Scully, a skeptic, and Fox Mulder, a true believer. The juxtaposition of each of their characterizations adds to the series conflict. By creating both external and interior conflict, the writers create an intriguing and thought provoking series.

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    TV Revivals and Millennials: The Connection

    They are everywhere, revival after revival. Gilmore Girls packed in 6 million initial viewers nearly 10 years after its not so ending ending for A Year In The Life. Boy Meets World sprung to life 20 years later with a new generation and over 5 million initial viewers in Girl Meets World. Full House was revived almost 30 years later a little bit fuller and with 14.4 million viewers in its first 35 days on Netflix. I believe the secret to these successes are the millennials. It’s been repeatedly noted that millennials crave authenticity and TV revivals are swimming it. Getting a second chance to meet with characters you grew up with is like reconnecting with an old friend. Older millennials crave this sense of familiarity in a world they no longer understand. However on the (not so) opposite hand we have the later millennials. While it is still about authenticity for them it’s more about feeling like they are apart of something, fitting into a "generation" that doesn’t quite belong to them. Why do you think TV revivals are so important to this generation? Is it just because they’ve seen everything on Netflix and need a new show or is a deeper, more heartfelt search for somewhere to fit in?

    • Interesting observation; however, I should warn the prospective author of this article to be wary of such broad strokes in generational thinking. [Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HFwok9SlQQ and also this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iJdimomLTQ ] I'm not suggesting that the demographic correlation that you're proposing does not exist, but it may be a little more nuanced than "Older millennials crave this sense of familiarity." That said, there might be something worth exploring about the condescension of Netflix executives operating under this mentality when shaping their programming around what they think millennials want. – ProtoCanon 4 weeks ago
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    • I think Millenials may have some nostalgia for the past as they are very close with their families. Even playing LPs is experiencing revival. – Munjeera 4 weeks ago
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    • I definitely agree that this conversation is nuanced, and would like to see you explore the topic in as much depth as possible. As an older millennial (born in '86), I do feel a sense of familiarity when I watch revivals like Fuller House. But more than the familiar, I crave shows that use older conventions, that don't feel like they have to fall back on gimmicks or cheap humor to get viewers. That craving drew me to "newer" shows like The Middle and Speechless, ones that explore new ground but have their roots deep in the good old family sitcom. That might be an angle to explore. – Stephanie M. 12 hours ago
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    Is it important for video games to have well-written plot and dialogue?

    Break down how important well-written plot and dialogue are to video games. While obviously pure action games like Smite and Overwatch don’t need much of a plot, and nothing resembling dialogue, what about games with a campaign mode? Does steering away from Hollywood cliches, poorly-constructed storylines and so on significantly improve the quality of a game? Or does gameplay/cinematography/etc. always trump the quality of the writing?

    • I would love to read an article about this. It's like when CG just became popular and every movie wanted to use it as much as possible, sacrificing the writing and characters for it. – NBlumenthal 1 month ago
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    • Narrative can be a powerful tool and if that's missing from contemporary video games, its definitely worth exploring. In film, the standard narrative is the traditional trope, so maybe talking about how narrative works in different mediums would also be helpful. – mazzamura 4 weeks ago
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    • Absolutely important, especially considering that some of the consumers of video games are children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities, such as autism, who may have difficulty with social interactions. Many of these children spend a significant amount of time playing the video games. While this may not be intended use, video games can help to these children to improve conversational skills and ability to communicate. – Vaishnavi 4 weeks ago
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    • This article would make for a wonderful read! While game-play, AI, graphics and other technical features are often dissected in detail, few reviews take a genuine in-depth look at the plot of video games. Many are just happy to set up flimsy 'Shoot 'em up' plotlines. – Vishnu Unnithan 20 hours ago
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    WW2 as a subject of inquiry in Japanese animation?

    I’d like to hear someone explore the fan interest in World War II, but rather how it crosses over into Japanese animation and graphic novels. I have noticed that there has been a growing presence of WW2-inspired anime and manga such as Kantai Collection and Girls und Panzer. I think it would be worth discussing the Japanese view towards their own role in WW2 and how this view has led to a different handling of the subject in Japan. In many anime and manga, one can see that there is a hesitation to portray Axis-aligned countries strictly as villains. Often times, I have seen Axis-countries being portrayed from a neutral position like in Girls und Panzer and Axis Powers Hetalia, or WW2-esque settings being entirely re-written and replaced by alternate settings like in Strike Witches or Sora no Woto.

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      Controversy or Consciousness in Marvel Netflix?

      Comic books, back in the day, were the dose of tiger balm to the congested chest. They were painful narratives that made us think, that put our problems into the perspectives of a false world so a hero could show us they can be solved and the villains of our lives vanquished. Unfortunately, the solutions are solely on the page or on the screen, now with the Netflix series’ of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, but does that erase the effect they have on us as viewers and readers?

      Do the shows take some issues too far? Present them too blatantly or too straight-forward for escapism?

      Are they too real and too relevant? Or exactly what we need?

      • Something else to consider would be whether or not the intention of comic books is still escapism. As entertainment becomes increasingly politicized, the escapism aspect may sit on a balance with a desire to provide political commentary. If you wanted to do that more broadly, too, you could look at the balance of escapism and commentary in modern comic books or their adaptations (like Daredevil/Jessica Jones/Luke Cage), which I feel like is what you might be trying to do.There's an excellent article about Ta-Nehisi Coates discussing his run of Black Panther which touches on this --> http://kotaku.com/ta-nehisi-coates-is-trying-to-do-right-by-marvel-comics-1769418783 – Sadie Britton 2 days ago
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      • I think the subjective nature social consciousness makes this a hard question to answer. Comics have always run the gamut from utterly ridiculous to uncomfortably real but a lot of that is in the personal interpretation. Most comics aren't going to be as clear in their messaging as Captain America punching Hitler in the face. The X-Men arose as an allegory for the Civil Rights movement but not every white comic reader in the 60s was thinking "I see, this is like how we treat black people". However black comic readers may have connected with the story in a different way. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage both seemed overtly political but technically were recreations of plot lines that were decades old. When Brock Turner is making headlines, Jessica's inability to consent holds more weight. When Black Lives Matter plays a large part in the political sphere, a bulletproof black guy (in a hoodie) holds more weight. Your environment and your gender/racial/sexual identity change whether you view it as a nice work of fiction or a very political one. – LC Morisset 4 hours ago
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      Comics 2016: A Year In Review

      This is more so a piece regarding what comics happened last year and what comics are rolling into this year. Say "Paper Girls" and how the storyline is going to go from the ending of the series. What comics were good that are hopefully (or already are) better than last year. It’s not a year in review, as much as it’s a year in review and how it’s going to bleed into 2017.

        Film

        The Pros and Cons Of Developing A Cinematic Universe
        The Pros and Cons Of Developing A Cinematic Universe
        Hyperlink Cinema and the Prevalence of Intertwining Stories
        Tarantino Speaks Out: Police Brutality vs. Cinematic Violence
        Horror Movies, Why We Love [Some of] Them

        TV

        Once Upon A Time: A Work of Creative Genius or a Tangled Mess?
        Once Upon A Time: A Work of Creative Genius or a Tangled Mess?
        Why Wouldn’t Everyone Love Lucy?
        “Balance of Terror”: Star Trek, History, and National Security
        Relationship Entertainment: Navigating the Struggle between Romance and Friendship on TV

        Animation

        Feminism and Disney: They’re Not As Different As You Might Think
        Feminism and Disney: They’re Not As Different As You Might Think
        Disney and the Perils of Adaptation
        Masculinity in Steven Universe: A Matter of GEMder?
        The Legend of Korra: Empathizing with Villains

        Anime

        Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: The Symbolic and Ironic Deaths of the Homunculi
        Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: The Symbolic and Ironic Deaths of the Homunculi
        Death Parade: Humanity in Yuzuru Tachikawa’s Anime
        An Overview of Anime in the Mecha Body of Japan’s Economy
        The Anime Guide to Spring 2016

        Manga

        One Punch Man vs. My Hero Academia: Reconstructing the Silver Age of Comics
        One Punch Man vs. My Hero Academia: Reconstructing the Silver Age of Comics
        Manga: How to Travel Between Dimensions
        Naruto: The Unresolved Revolution
        The 5 Saddest Moments in One Piece

        Comics

        The Social Stigma of Comic Book Reading
        The Social Stigma of Comic Book Reading
        What Should Happen To Captured Super Villains?
        Finding the Bridge Between Superhero Comics and Hip-Hop
        Superheroes and Super Villains Who Use Guns

        Literature

        Terror and Horror in Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”
        Terror and Horror in Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”
        Fahrenheit 451: What’s In a Tale?
        Poetry: An Appreciation of Repetition in Stan Zumbiel’s “Standing Watch”
        The Brutal Presentation of Modern Society in The Play ‘Shopping and F***ing’

        Arts

        Toys Will Be Toys: Barbie vs. LEGO
        Toys Will Be Toys: Barbie vs. LEGO
        Painters Who Challenged the Conventional Female Nude
        The Body Imperfect: Art as its Champion
        Tattoos: Alternative Expression with Traditional Roots

        Writing

        Creative Texting: Writing and Textspeak
        Creative Texting: Writing and Textspeak
        Parallel and Alternate Realities; Fiction Tells us the Difference
        Genre Fiction in University Writing Programs: No longer the MFA’s Red-headed Stepchild
        Can you Teach Someone how to Become a Writer?