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The terrifying relevance of Nevil Shire's On The Beach to 2017

This book was written in the late 1950s as a dystopian and cautionary tale about the perils of all out nuclear war. Rereading it in 2017, explore the dystopian tropes of the book in the light of American relationships with North Korea, China, Russia, etc.

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The Rise of the Strong Female Lead in Modern Cinema

In the last few years, we’re seeing a rise of strong female characters in lead roles – especially in Action Films (the most prominent being Rey, in Star Wars). These strong characters are everywhere in literature, but tend to be overshadowed by the sequel or the reboot – and if they are picked up, tend to be altered in some way to make the film more marketable: for example, making that female character more masculine (atypically stoic, cold natured, oblivious, and otherwise displaying a shallow level of emotional value – "beefing up" the character, whilst almost ignoring the duality of a strong female character, and their ability to rise to the occasion with a strength of mind and heart; Rose Dawson from Titanic, or countless literary figures from the age of Jane Austen). Are we stepping in the right direction, or is this another false Hollywood campaign?

  • By the way it's 'Rey'. I think an interesting point is how shallow her 'strong female character' really is. She doesn't have much of an arc ('I have to stay at home because some people might come back but we haven't established that they mean anything to me other than a brief memory' to 'I'm gonna find me a Skywalker!') and she's magically good at everything she does/touches, including Jedi mind tricks which she's apparently never seen before. – jackanapes 2 months ago
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  • I agree to a certain extent. It is true that lately the presence of female characters has risen significantly in books and films, and also that such characters tend to be portrayed in masculine terms (see Ripley in Alien). At the same time, figures such as Katniss in the Hunger Games or Furiosa in Mad Max Fury Road, in my opinion, are redefining femininity onscreen, as they eliminate the idea that a film with a male character is more successful, and also offer a more complex and layered portrayal of women. In light of this, it would be interesting to explore such ideas in an article! – CostanzaCasati 2 months ago
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  • I personally think that it is great that female actors are taking on such diverse roles in the film industry. – claraaa 2 months ago
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  • I agree that we are seeing an increase in female lead characters, which is a positive for the film industry and women in general. But at the moment, I'm not sure if it's a huge problem that many of these characters are made more marketable, as we need to take small steps in the right direction. – Courtney 2 months ago
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  • There is an increase in female lead characters recently. After seeing shows like Jessica Jones I can't help but hold onto the hope that maybe Hollywood is redeeming itself. Jessica was a complicated and flawed character whose strength wasn't just physical but mental too. The creators did a good job of portraying that and using other female character like Trish Walker and Hogarth really cemented the fact that women can be complex characters. on the other hand, Hollywood seems to be great at taking a strong, female lead and sticking her into the 'romantic subplot device' peg hole. Black Widow is the ultimate example of this (Avengers 2). – norcelona 2 months ago
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  • The idea of "masculating" a female character to make her strong or tough is a really interesting one. People seem to forget that women can be and are often powerful and forceful people, without falling into a masculine role. Some examples of female characters that are both feminine and awesome are Mikasa in the anime Attack on Titan (her deep and emotional love for the protagonist drive her every move and allow her to be stronger than anyone else in the show barring one or two characters), and Buffy from BTVS (Buffy never gives up her femininity for her strength, she has boyfriends and wears makeup and cries and loves, but only grows stronger as she does so.) There are an unfortunately large number of Hollywood examples that fall into either the "woman is good character because she is big tough man on the inside" or "woman is a pretty lady who the protagonist gets with when he defeats the baddies" category. I adore seeing both strong and feminine characters on the big screen, we really don't need to pick one or the other, woman can and should be both. – Sabrina Thompson-Cook 7 hours ago
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Different Country Perspectives on World Events in Film

It’s a common subject for films to cover their respective countries’ events, especially if they take place on a global scale. Films like Schindler’s List and Life is Beautiful are made in different countries, yet portray the topic of being in a concentration camp in WW2 differently. It would be interesting to analyze how films portray different parts of the world in other countries. It could help a viewer gain perspective on how filmmakers choose to depict these events.

  • This is a good idea. it would also be intriguing to build on this notion to try understand how certain catastrophes have affected a countries film industry. for example post 9/11 Hollywood has incorporated the falling sky scraper trope into many of its disaster films. – Iliasbakalla 4 days ago
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  • An interesting choice of subject matter and one that has a great potential for exploring alternate points of view - essential in these days of Hollywood biased 'Americanised' view of world events (no offence intended towards the American people). Regarding WW2, I would recommend viewing such films as 'Eien No O' (The Eternal Zero) [2013], an excellent Japanese film about the treatment of pilots in the Japanese Air Force towards the end of WW2; also the critically acclaimed 'Das Boot' [1981] (The Boat), a superb and harrowing film about the crew of a German U-Boat' to name just a couple. I would suggest including accounts from the ordinary men and women involved in such conflicts and wars; those who had to carry out the sometimes ludicrous orders of their so called 'superiors. It would also be interesting to include how propaganda was employed by all sides and the effect that had on its intended audience. – Amyus 4 days ago
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Games as Multimedia Storytelling

Approached from the perspective of being an interactive story, what is unique to games like MMORPGs (esp. sandboxes), metroidvania, war games or survival games, as stories? What are some of the ways that gaming has innovated new ways of telling stories (think non-linear, interactive etc). Games can pull together disparate storytelling techniques like visual, auditory and interactive in a way that books, comics or film alone can’t. Has the gaming industry harnessed this potential?

If you want to narrow it down to a specific category i’d recommend visual novels and RPGs, as they feel a lot closer to the question.

  • It would be very helpful to mention Final Fantasy XV, which one could argue spread itself too thin with the multimedia storytelling. It was a double-edged sword: People could access the series through the anime, the feature length movie or even the retro style gaming experience of A King's Tale.For someone like me, who was heavily invested in the series already, it was wonderful and got me excited for the game in the lead up; but for a casual gamer who just wanted to play the game, or a movie-goer just wanting to watch the film, it would make it difficult for them to grasp the entire story without turning to the internet to fill in the blanks. – AGMacdonald 3 days ago
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What the Seeker Has Sought: Femininity and Masculinity in Horizon Zero Dawn

The progressive female representation of Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn has been praised by reviewers and gamers alike. However, the gender politics of Horizon Zero Dawn begs to be further examined. Is there a dichotomy created between the feminine and masculine through characters such as Aloy, Elizabet, and GAIA in contrast to Ted Faro, Sylens, and HADES? Additionally, how is this dichotomy complicated by these same characters or others that Aloy encounters?

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    What creating an 'Anthology' series really means for Star Wars

    With the success of Rogue One and the several other stand alone films that Disney has planned to release with the famous brand, explain how this decision changes the way that we look at Star Wars’ film legacy. Does it change? If so how? What does this mean for die hard fans of the series?

    • I think an important element of this discussion would be defining what makes a Star Wars film as opposed to other space stories. – C8lin 7 months ago
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    • It's also important to note that Star Wars has so much lore. Be that through the novels, comics etc. the franchise itself already has a huge knowledge base and anthology-like feel. This knowledge just isn't something the general public makes themselves aware of – Nicole Sojkowski 7 months ago
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    Efficacy of the Bechdel Test

    A work of fiction is considered to have passed the Bechdel test if it features two women who talk about something other than a man. In many cases, it also requires that the women have names. Nearly half of films meet this requirement. Does this test truly examine the portrayal of gender in media?

    • Maybe an additional question you could also ask is, what kind of insight does applying the Bechdel Test on films give us about particular filmmakers (and give some examples) and has the introduction of the Bechdel Test changed the industry at all? – Kevin 9 months ago
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    • I think another important question might be, does a film that fails the Bechdel Test always portray gender negatively? Does a film that passes the Bechdel Test always portray gender positively?If not, what does the Bechdel Test truly show us? – C8lin 9 months ago
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    • You probably already know this, but there are a lot of films, such as Showgirls or films by Russ Meyer, that pass the Bechdel Test despite the fact that they are FAR from positive portrayals of women. – jsanoff 9 months ago
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    • This could open up a really interesting argument into how low the bar is set for feminist media these days. If so many meet the requirements, are the requirements strict enough? Are they asking for enough? What would be a better test? – Mariel 9 months ago
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    • It's important to recognize that the Bechdel Test is a bare minimum of what should be required for female representation in media, not a be all end all. – Laura Andrea 8 months ago
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    • Good topic, because in my opinion, the Bechdel test sets the bar too low. Just because two female characters are named and have conversations unrelated to men, does not make them strong or memorable people. Films aimed at girls and women are particularly guilty, from Disney princess movies to Jane Austen adaptations to modernized "chick flicks." – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
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    • I've always wondered what the Bechdel test is trying to achieve. Is it trying to divide the genders, or empower females? Star Wars failed the Bechdel test, but Leia Organa is a stronger character than anything in the Ghostbusters remake.It also limits roles for women. If a women is playing a devoted parent, if her child is female, she passes; if her child is male, she fails. Surely that character would have the same level of strength regardless of the gender of her offspring. – AGMacdonald 3 days ago
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    • Maybe you could also look at other tests that measure equal representation in film and media (but it would be a good starting point!). – AnastasiaS 2 days ago
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    5

    Is Fanfiction for Real Writers Too?

    Fifty Shades of Grey originated as a fanfiction online of the Twilight series in an alternate universe. It’s escalated into its own franchise. Other online writers have the same hopes for their fanfictions. But is this kind of writing appropriate and is it right that authors get to literally take other characters and rename them to make it into an entire new series, sometimes not as well-written?

    • Who is a "real writer?" In this day and age, isn't it anyone who writes and publishes something, whether traditionally, through self-publishing, or online? – Stephanie M. 6 months ago
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    • You can tie this into how English majors or people who go to college for this craft are for or against it as well. I am a fellow English Major and I think all writing is good writing, across all mediums. But, I am sure people out there things the opposite of that. Such as people who write Fanfiction don't and have no gone to school for the craft and etc., not sure if that would work but something to think about on the con side of things. – S C 6 months ago
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    • George RR Martin touched on this topic too, on his LiveJournal (he links to Diana Gabaldon's thoughts on the matter as well: http://grrm.livejournal.com/151914.html) There are many sides to this issue -- most professional writers (like GRRM) seem to be less supportive of fanfiction as a concept, whereas others are more sympathetic (like Cassandra Clare). I suppose one's relationship to fanfiction boils down to one's intent: is it better to spend your precious writing hours on someone's pre-established work, or breaking something original? – bloom 6 months ago
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    • I would say that fan fiction is just as much real writing as anything. Why? Because there are several ways for one to write, to be inspired, and to create a world. Sometimes it takes one's own version of the story to birth and even greater tale, however until we try, nothing is for certain.Articles: https://www.bustle.com/articles/71438-13-things-fan-fiction-writers-are-very-tired-of-explaininghttps://psmag.com/fan-fiction-the-next-great-literature-15c99a34d49c#.bq4yb2jb9 – Autumn Edwards 6 months ago
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    • I definitely agree with Autumn Edwards on this topic. I would say fan fic is for real writers because in its most basic form, it is a story. Who says that one can't take some aspects from a different story and create something new, or even add on to a story? Writing is writing (as long as it is not infringing on copyright/publishing/plagiarism issues) but fan fic is for real writers and I think that if it IS good enough that it could have some literary merit. – AlbusBloodworthe 6 months ago
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    • I agree with Stephanie's comment: it's about quality, not genre. Regarding bloom's comment, professional writers have a conflict of interest, so their weigh-in begs a grain of salt. I would disagree with S C that all writing is good, but, again, wholeheartedly agree that form/genre does not determine quality. – Tigey 6 months ago
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    • The issue isn't whether fanfiction is 'real' or not; the issue is that it's wrong to profit off of someone else's work. That's worse than bad writing; that's plagiarism, that's theft. – Sarai 6 months ago
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    • As a former fanfic lover, I say that writing is writing. Yes, most fanfics are empty writing fueled by obsessions and fantasies, but fanfiction has the same potential to be good writing. It just depends on who's writing it and with what purpose because think about it, a good story started out as an idea from the writer's imagination... Fanfiction starts out the same way but with already existing background information. A perfect example is the One Direction fanfiction "After" that started out as a wattpad favorite, and is now published and successful. – ValentinaRueda 5 months ago
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    • Funnily enough, I actually wrote a blog post discussing this very topic with Fantasy author M.E.Vaughan. While the blog post provides a more in-depth discussion, the long and short of it is that every writer is different. Some see fan-fiction as a helpful tool, whilst others see it as a distraction or, worse, an insult to an original creators work. Whomever decides to write this must keep on mind that, really, there is no such thing as a "Real Writer." There is only the expectation of what I writer should be doing which, when you look at it, is a very subjective and heavily debated topic. Here's a link to the post, if you're interested in the more in-depth view: https://whywordswork.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/fan-fiction-creative-practice-or-creative-procrastination-featuring-m-e-vaughan/ – ERHollands 3 months ago
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    • I think fan fiction has its purpose. A lot of a lot of literary assignments spanning elementary to college is fan fiction. In one of my last college projects I changed the ending of AI. Got a B. Also isn't a lot of science fiction tie-ins work inspired by its source material? – lisa82 2 months ago
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    Film

    Can Homosexuals Save the Roman Epic From CGI?
    Can Homosexuals Save the Roman Epic From CGI?
    Why Steve Rogers Should Die in Avengers: Infinity War
    Little Miss Sunshine or Little Miss Psychological Dysfunction
    Ex Machina, Frankenstein and Modern Deities

    TV

    The Moral of Doctor Who: Answering the Questions of “Genesis of the Daleks”
    The Moral of Doctor Who: Answering the Questions of “Genesis of the Daleks”
    The Virginian’s Political Journeys
    Black Mirror: A Look at Modern Day Paranoia
    “The Flash” as the Modern Equivalent of 1960’s “Batman”

    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

    Otaku as Artist: Hideaki Anno and Neon Genesis Evangelion
    Otaku as Artist: Hideaki Anno and Neon Genesis Evangelion
    The anime gold rush in the early 21st century
    The Magic and Artistry of Studio Ghibli’s Films
    Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: The Symbolic and Ironic Deaths of the Homunculi

    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

    Comic Books, Adults, and a History of Stigmatization
    Comic Books, Adults, and a History of Stigmatization
    The Social Stigma of Comic Book Reading
    What Should Happen To Captured Super Villains?
    Finding the Bridge Between Superhero Comics and Hip-Hop

    Literature

    Online vs Print: The Digital Age of Books
    Online vs Print: The Digital Age of Books
    The College Era Lyrics and Ego of Kanye West
    The Importance of Learning the Classics
    The Modern Orphan Figure

    Arts

    Celebrating Finnish folk songs: Finland’s centennial anniversary
    Celebrating Finnish folk songs: Finland’s centennial anniversary
    Free Play: The Social, Cognitive & Emotional Pay Offs of Allowing Whimsicality
    Discovering the Five Poussin’s in ‘Gallery 617’
    Understanding Abstract Art

    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?