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Discovering Harry Potter: Does Age Matter?

This is a fairly personal topic I’d like to write myself, but will leave to more experienced Potterheads.

I was ten when the first Harry Potter book came out. I grew up in a moderate, but still observant Christian family who considered it too much of a risk to expose me and my then-six-year-old brother to a series that contained any form of witchcraft. I didn’t read the books then and later, got too busy with other books. Besides, I didn’t want to be labeled childish for carrying around HP paperbacks in, say, high school.

As an adult, I’ve finally gotten around to opening my Hogwarts letter and starting the series, and it’s been a lot of fun. However, I can’t escape this fact: I’m a thirty-something woman. I have a different HP experience than the average 11-year-old.

And so I’m curious to see an analysis of this phenomenon. Does age matter when you’re discovering HP for the first or two hundredth time? How do children and adults view the series differently? Are there less or more "mature" ways to interact with it? Or, as I suspect, has Harry Potter bridged age gaps in a way other book series can only dream about doing? If yes, how did J.K. and Harry do it?

  • Oh, this is a really good point. I grew up with HP and participated in fan culture while it was still going on, but recently met someone who never got involved until last year. We both love the series, but we have vastly different interpretations and relationships with the HP universe. Partly because of age, sure, but I think also because of our relationship to the fandom/culture surrounding it. – Emily Esten 6 days ago
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  • A nice idea for a topic, Stephanie. I have to confess to having a little bias in favour of the HP books as I was an extra on the last HP film, but having said that, I too discovered the books shortly afterwards. So, at the tender middle-age of 49 I started reading them. As an adult, what I discovered was a remarkably consistent form of storytelling that also matured and darkened in its subject matter as its young readers grew up.One thing I will credit Rowling with is encouraging a generation of children to do what successive UK governments had failed to do - namely to read for pleasure! I enjoyed discussing the stories with my nephew as he grew up and trying to solve the great puzzle, so in that respect alone it helped to connect the young and the not so young in a shared literary experience. It also opened up a few interesting discussions with other adults who saw me reading the books on the Tube; those who, perhaps under different circumstances, I might never have spoken to. – Amyus 6 days ago
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  • I grew up with the Harry Potter series so it's an important part of my childhood. I was actually too young when they first came out, so my mom would read them to me as bedtime stories instead. It turned into a bonding experience as my mom became almost equally immersed in the wizarding world as I was. I'm sure it was a different experience for her than it was for me. Since I was a child and the Harry Potter series involves a "coming of age" narrative, the human issues I was reading about were mostly on par with my own experiences growing up. The books and my life could co-exist side by side. For my mom, it perhaps provides a bit of nostalgia. It takes her back to when she was younger and makes her feel like a kid again. Feeling "like a kid" again while reading the books and actually being a kid while reading them is obviously a completely different perspective. Perhaps, for adults, it provides a mini-vacation from a world that seems to have lost a bit of its magic. It reminds you of an innate sense of curiosity and wonder we often lose as we get older. For kids reading them, there is perhaps less of a barrier between the wizarding world and our own. After all, Harry Potter incorporates our own (Muggle) world and the wizarding world within the same universe. The wizarding world seems like an undiscovered realm that we're too oblivious to realize is hidden right under our noses. The capacity for human ignorance can be astounding, so why can't there be a bit of magic we've failed to notice? Our entire existence is both a miracle and a mystery. Maybe J.K. Rowling is a witch herself! She certainly cast a spell on several generations worth of readers. As to how she did that so successfully, that's a more difficult question to answer. Audiences tend to like the ole' good versus evil storylines. Its voices aren't solely adolescent ones either, which separate it from YA that almost exclusively focus on kids' perspectives. I also greatly admire anything that's relegated to being mere "children's entertainment" which is instead handled with maturity and depth and acknowledges kids' capacities for awareness and intelligence that exist outside of adult comprehension. – aprosaicpintofpisces 4 days ago
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Fan Art: Why We Love It and What Makes It Good

Fandoms are a big part of life for most of us–many millennials, but people outside that generation, also. Reams of fandom discussion boards, shipping theories, and arguments populate the Internet. Pinterest bursts with fandom and fandom crossover Pins, including fan art. More people begin creating their own fan art every day.

Fan art may be fairly new, but it’s a beautiful and creative way to show appreciation of your chosen fandom. The question at hand is, how do we judge fan art? What, in the opinions of various people from various fandoms, makes fan art good? Are crossover examples (e.g., Disney princesses sorted into Hogwarts houses) good or overkill? What makes a "bad" fan artist, or a "disrespectful" piece of fan art?

  • Oh my, you'll certainly open the proverbial can of worms with this subject! I agree with your comment about fan art (in general) being '...a beautiful and creative way to show appreciation of your chosen fandom', but I think the answer to your following question might well be reliant on a personal preference expressed by the fan of a particular story. What some will love, others will hate; it's human nature. I've seen what I consider to be some superb examples of fan art based on various anime stories, even if they haven't always been technically brilliant in their execution - it's the spirit of the piece that will pique my interest. Having said that though I do dislike the deliberate sexualisation of certain characters when that depiction is completely at odds with the character being portrayed. Such is really little more than the sexual fantasy of the artist and I would prefer it didn't appear on the Internet. In my opinion as long as fan art stays true to the official canon or even playfully experiments with shipping then I have no problem with it. – Amyus 6 days ago
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Homoesexuality in Yuri!!! on Ice

Yuri!!! on Ice does everything but explicitly state the relationship between the main characters. As a well-received, mainstream anime (aired on Asahi TV during primetime and popular overseas) that normalizes gay relationships, does Yuri!!! indicate a step forward in representation? Potential angles include how gay relationships have historically been portrayed in anime or an analysis of Viktor and Yuri in Yuri!!! itself.

  • I believe that this anime focuses more on the skating than the relationships. There didn't seem to be much interaction between the characters during the series, and the characters identity were depicted through their thoughts as they performed. As far as I can tell this anime portrays very little concerning the ideals of romance, its more about the skating. – RadosianStar 9 months ago
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  • I think this is a great topic because I know there is much debate in the fandom about it on social media like Tumblr. Personally, I think it is a step forward because gay relationships in anime have a reputation for being sexualized, like in yaoi. There's a lot to work with between Yuri and Viktor's interactions, like the promise rings in front of the church and Viktor literally calling them engagement rings. Some say its queerbaiting, but they have the emotional development of a romantic relationship. The question comes down to whether people believe that romance can be written or shown without a kiss. – LauraKincaid 9 months ago
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  • I have not seen Yuri!! on Ice myself, but if it anything like Free! (which can be used as a comparison) I can understand the suspicion of homoerotic undertones. – SarahKnauf 9 months ago
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  • While Yuri!!! On Ice certainly has LGBT undertones (and overtones, depending on who you ask), I think its important to regard the the intended audience for its consumption: Fujoshi, (usually female) Yaoi and BL fans. 'Representation' connotes a certain progressivism upon the part of the show's creators, displaying gay relationships to normalize LGBT culture in the strongly heteronormative Japan. However, at the end of the day, Yuri!!! On Ice isn't being consumed by fans who want to challenge their perspective on sexuality, but rather shippers who view Boy's Love as a means of titillation. Even in America, where the show is equally beloved, a great portion of fan discourse is about shipping characters together, rather than contextualizing their relationships in staunchly anti-gay Asian cultures. Despite how negative I've been coming off, I do think analyzing these themes would be a worthy topic of discussion- I just don't think that the show has had nearly as large an impact on Japanese views on homosexuality as westerners might hope. – PeterThelonious 8 months ago
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  • A lot of the time LGBT relationships in shows such as this are portrayed very subtly, but with the shows creators relying on the fans to find those links and emphasise them. Yuri!!! On Ice seems to be using more of this kind of technique, and the gay relationships are there more to excite and engage the fanbase (fans are known to jump onto any small hint of canon relationships and plots, and even the smallest signs can blow up, thus also increasing the shows popularity). – SophIsticated 4 months ago
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  • YOI has been the most explicitly pro-queer anime I've seen so far (though, tbh, I haven't seen a large number) in that it allows lead characters of the same gender to be in love. It is accepted by peers, there is no drama with family or love competitors, and the relationship is healthy. The discussion of gender fluidity is also interesting. – IndiLeigh 4 months ago
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  • YOI is probably the first sport anime that has LGBT themes, especially between its main characters, which is Yuri and Victor. Its also an anime in which there is an (implied) interracial relationship, with Victor being Russian and Yuri being Japanese. In terms of most animes, the show is quite progressive in terms of LGBT, though it is subtle. However, the issue with the anime, from a lot fans' perspective, is that it is still not as progressive as it could be. As mentioned before in a previous comment from PeterThelonius, fans of the show focuses more on shipping the characters together, rather than the sport. Some fans argue that YOI does show LGBT themes, but not the struggle that comes with being LGBT. As many may know, not a lot of people will accept those who are gay, trans, lesbian, queer, etc. Especially in sports, as seen with many gay athletes like Jason Collins and Johnny Weir (who is in fact a gay competitive figure skater), that face discrimination. YOI could actually discuss this considering that the show is made in Japan, where LGBT is still considered to be "abnormal," or with Victor dealing with discrimination from his family or Russian fans (Russia is very staunch anti-LGBT). It would be interesting to delve deeper into the show dealing with more LGBT themes and struggles. For now, I will say that YOI has broken barriers for LGBT community, but this is only the surface. – themessenger151 4 months ago
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Did the movie 'It' premiere at the perfect time in today's zeitgeist?

The recent Andy Muschetti film ‘It’ (adapted from the titular Stephen King novel) has been a monstrous success (pardon the pun). Is it the 1980s setting and vibe that connects with adults and kids today? Is it the links it shares with thematic elements of the wildly successful Stranger Things (a show gleefully inspired by Stephen King)? What has made this horror film such a hit?

  • I think this makes for a compelling discussion. Having seeing both 'IT' and 'Stranger Things', the 80's horror aesthetic and visual is very much so trending right now. I think Stranger Things has pioneered modern pop culture by reviving this style in mainstream television/film. – AdilYoosuf 2 days ago
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What Makes My Hero Academia So Goshdarn Likeable?

My Hero Academia first garnered attention when it gained a surprising amount of momentum soon after its debut in Shounen Jump, often being heralded as a spiritual successor to highly successful and soon-after ended shounen titles like Naruto and Bleach. Now, with one completed anime season and a second one ongoing, MHA can be seen everywhere in otaku culture, particularly in the realm of visual essay analysis videos posted on Youtube and elsewhere. All this, despite the fact that, as many fans and critics have pointed out, there’s nothing particularly new or inventive about it. MHA takes almost every traditional shounen trope in the book and runs with them, using them to their greatest effects. It’d be interesting to pinpoint what some of those tropes are and how MHA uses them so effectively. The writer could also analyze how outside factors (like timing and anime adaptation) affected its popularity growth over the past 2-3 years.

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    "Anne With An E" - Elucidating emotional realism and compassion

    Some parents feel that Netflix’s Original series "Anne With An E," a remake of Montgomery’s beloved "Anne of Green Gables," goes too far in introducing topics such as child abuse, neglect, bullying, and sex to a family audience. Others feel it is an amazing and beautiful handling of these topics, teaching compassion and consideration even in a dark world. How does discussing difficult emotion promote or prevent healing and understanding?

    • J'adore your topic! :) – Stephanie M. 2 months ago
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    • Thanks! :) – CLHale 2 months ago
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    Out of the Ashes: Building New Societies in The Walking Dead

    The Walking Dead comic series shows various groups of people trying to form new societies in order to survive the zombie apocalypse. Examine the different types of societies in the show (Woodbury, The Kingdom, The Hill, Terminus, etc.) and how they form and sustain their societies as well as the flaws that inevitably lead to their downfall at the hands of the Walkers.

    • I'm not familiar with this show (not a fan of zombies, vampires, and etc.) but this sounds like a fun and informative topic. It might be worth contrasting the strengths of each society with their weaknesses (e.g., is one society weak in an area where another is strong). – Stephanie M. 1 week ago
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    • This is a very engaging idea for a topic. As a fan of the show myself, Ive noticed the recurring trend of moving from location to location in a trial and error effort to rebuild civilisation. I think the different societies depicted exhibits the different humanitarian approaches to the apocalypse itself and a discussion of this would be extremely interesting. Great Idea! – AdilYoosuf 2 days ago
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    The message that George RR Martin is trying to send with Game of Thrones

    Analyze and discuss what greater meaning there is in Game of Thrones, an overarching message that Martin is trying to send to his readers (and viewers I guess) beyond the amazing fantasy, political intrigue, and gut-wrenching battles and deaths that has enraptured most of the fan base.

    • An interesting idea for a topic, especially since Hillary Clinton appears to identify with the Cersei Lannister/Baratheon character. Real life copying art? – Amyus 1 week ago
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    • Something can be said for the unabashed yet tactical killing off of characters in the series, and what relevance this has in contemporary television's trends in dependency on viewer/fan preferences/reactions. – LNwenwu 6 days ago
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    • I think it would also be helpful to analyze, or critique, i would say, his methods for promoting messages. The amount of gross sexual content in the series, for instance...is this fanservice? Necessary to the plot? What are his ways of getting his views across to others? – EricJohnson 5 days ago
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    Film

    The Strong Female Lead: Modern Cinema’s Take on Women’s Strength
    The Strong Female Lead: Modern Cinema’s Take on Women’s Strength
    Miscegenation On Screen, Why So Disparate?
    Illuminated Landscapes: The City in Blade Runner and Lost in Translation
    How Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Rejuvenated the Entire Pirates Franchise

    TV

    True Detective: The Road Ahead
    True Detective: The Road Ahead
    Star Trek: Discovery: Why We Shouldn’t Start Panicking Just Yet
    The Moral of Doctor Who: Answering the Questions of “Genesis of the Daleks”
    The Virginian’s Political Journeys

    Animation

    Best and Worst Disney Role Models for Girls and Young Women
    Best and Worst Disney Role Models for Girls and Young Women
    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?

    Anime

    The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: The Journey of The Hero
    The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: The Journey of The Hero
    Why Western Culture is Beginning to Embrace Anime
    Otaku as Artist: Hideaki Anno and Neon Genesis Evangelion
    The anime gold rush in the early 21st century

    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

    Minds That Matter: Women Of Lore
    Minds That Matter: Women Of Lore
    Phantom of the Opera and the Problem of “Shipping”
    His Dark Materials: Conflict, Justice and Mental Health
    Online vs Print: The Digital Age of Books

    Arts

    Picasso’s Guernica: 80 Years Later
    Picasso’s Guernica: 80 Years Later
    Women, Culture and Politics: Buffy’s Critical Bite
    Enhancing Performance: Self-Care for All Artists
    Celebrating Finnish folk songs: Finland’s centennial anniversary

    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?