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Squid Game: Refreshing the Battle Royale Genre

As Squid Game becomes one of Netflix’s most-watched shows of all time and holds audiences attention far beyond the cultural scope of South Korea, it begs the question as to why this show resonated with people on an international scale? By no means is the concept of forcing individuals into a life-or-death game original, so what does Squid Game do differently?

In so many ways, Squid Game subverts the expectations of a typical Battle Royale story and refreshes a genre that had largely stagnated. In order to highlight these subversions, engagement with predecessors in the genre is a must; the original novel Battle Royale by Koushun Takami and its numerous adaptations (lending the death game genre the ‘Battle Royale’ namesake as a cultural phenomenon), the Hunger Games series by Susanne Collins, As the Gods Will by Takashi Miike, and other TV series like Liar Game and Alice in the Borderlands. The director takes inspiration from manga but the scope of intersectional engagement may become too wide if one crosses over mediums into manga, anime, and video games with death game narratives.

By comparing these predecessors with Squid Game, a number of distinct differences and focus can be found. These include but are not limited to: game structure and rules, consent and human rights, the role of debt and desperation, spectacle and dehumanization, and cultural specificity. While the director Hwang Dong-hyuk is cited as saying he wanted to create a series that was distinctly Korean, the international reception begs a closer look at what Squid Game is doing differently.

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    Alternatives to Microtransactions in Games and Apps

    Cell phones are ubiquitous these days, as are phone-based games and apps. These activities are colorful, fun, and addictive–if you have the money for an addiction, that is.

    Most if not all cell phone games, as well as some apps such as Lumosity or adult coloring books, are free but have in-app purchases. The in-app purchases are usually tied to premium content or the ability to play the "full" game. For instance, in Jeopardy World Tour, you can play rounds for "free," as long as you have virtual cash. To increase virtual cash, you can wait more than 24 hours for your bank to build, or you can purchase virtual premium currency with actual money.

    Even the best-intentioned game/app users end up engaging in microtransactions more than they mean to. In many online worlds, people who spend a lot of real money actually have a nickname; they’re called "whales." Whales or not, most players complain about microtransactions, but admit they don’t know an alternative.

    Could there, or should there, be alternatives to microtransactions? If yes, what might those be? Are there currently apps or games that don’t depend on microtransactions, and if yes, what makes them successful? How are these games or apps able to "survive" without monetary microtransactions? Examine and discuss.

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      Scarlett Johansson vs. Disney: a battle of fair wage

      Following the dual release of the long-anticipated Marvel Studios film Black Widow both in theaters and on Disney premiere access, star Scarlett Johansson has announced that she plans to take legal action against the company for their dishonesty in the film’s release. With talks of Emma Stone and Emily Blunt to potentially follow suit, the legal battle raises questions about how the largest entertainment in the world could shirk their star’s wages, as well as if she even has a case. It is worth noting that Johansson is one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. If she was not as well known in Hollywood, how might this battle play out? If she were a man, how would the potential reactions from the company and the media coverage of this event change?

      • The Lawsuit is now settled so it is a good time to discuss this topic if reformed. – Sean Gadus 2 weeks ago
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      Critic vs. Chick: Who Does Nostalgia Better?

      Circa 2008, YouTube gained a new channel and star in Nostalgia Critic, AKA Doug Walker. Going by that name and the hfaandle ThatGuyWiththeGlasses, Doug Walker gave viewers scathing, humorous reviews of nostalgic movies, shows, and commercials from the ’80s-’90s. "I remember it so you don’t have to," he begins almost all of his (early) videos.

      A while after the Nostalgia Critic came to fame, he held a contest to find a female counterpart. The result was the stardom of Lindsey Ellis, Nostalgia Chick. As her name implies, Nostalgia Chick covers content the Critic doesn’t, mostly content aimed at a female base. She tends to focus her reviews on feminist criticism and the portrayal of female characters.

      However, both critics’ reams of views indicate their fans are not necessarily divided by sex or gender. Both sexes can enjoy both critics, so what, other than feminist or non-feminist content, distinguishes the two? Is one critic inherently "better" than the other, and if yes, why? Have changes in the videos’ formats, such as Critic and Chick appearing together or with other characters, changed the conversation about their content? What kind of viewers do Chick and Critic cater to, regardless of gender (i.e., would you recommend a new viewer go to one person or the other for a certain type or "tone" of content)?

      • Interesting topic. While a part of me can appreciate the time capsule-esque approach of comparing Walker and Ellis's work as if it were still 2013 and they were both still affiliated with Channel Awesome -- there may be a nostalgic impulse at play here (so meta!) -- I cannot help but feeling that it would be a grave omission to disregard the career trajectories of both figures since Ellis's departure in 2014. Though his channel is still active, Walker has arguably experienced a slight fall from public grace based on reports of his mistreatment of former employees (including Ellis), and one need only look at the reception of his recent video on Pink Floyd's The Wall to see what little respect his industry peers still have for his critical prowess. Ellis, on the other hand, now independently runs one of the leading video essay channels on the site (nearly eclipsing Channel Awesome in terms of subscribers), works for PBS, and has become a New York Times Bestselling novelist. The complexities of their parallel career arc goes far beyond the simple male vs. female paradigm suggested by your prompt. This is not to say that that paradigm is not, itself, worth exploring, but it may be more generative as only the first act of an ongoing story. Just my two cents. – ProtoCanon 2 weeks ago
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      An Examination of Classic Retellings

      From reams of fairytale retellings, to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, from Meg and Jo to Circe, the literary world bursts with retellings of classic novels. The smorgasbord of material grows every day, giving rise to multifaceted questions. What sets one retelling of a classic apart from another (why, for instance, might someone choose the Little Women retelling So Many Beginnings over Meg and Jo, and its companion novel, Beth and Amy)? Do some classics lend themselves to retellings better than others? Perhaps most intriguing of all, what is the benefit, for writers and readers, of retelling classics and/or reshaping them for a current audience? Once these classics are reshaped or retold, are they classics any longer? Discuss.

      • This is a really interesting topic and very timely to our current media- and book-scape. I think it would be helpful to think about the designation "classic." Of course, that's always a sticky topic, but it might be necessary to think about what it means to re-tell a classic. – JaniceElaine 2 weeks ago
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      • Yes, I should've clarified, that should be the first thing the writer does if they choose this topic. However, they would have to be careful that the article didn't become a full discussion of what a "classic" is. – Stephanie M. 2 weeks ago
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      YouTube Kids: Harmless or Dangerous?

      In past decades, children got their television "diet" from specific shows on specific channels, or program blocks on one or two channels tailored for them. Today, our children have an endless list of shows to choose from thanks to streaming services and 24-7 content.

      One example of such content is YouTube Kids, a network of channels that are given new content daily, sometimes several times daily. Some of this content is positive, but just as much if not more is allegedly detrimental to kids. Writer and artist James Bridle, for instance, gave a TED Talk for YouTube that, while three years old, has 4.8M views. His TED Talk posits that YouTube kids is actually dangerous to kids’ mental health and development.

      Examine this TED Talk as well as other sources, such as the Momo controversy from the late 2010s, or certain shows and videos on YTK. What content is the most detrimental, and why? Is there anything parents, guardians, and tech experts could do to make content more educational and child-friendly? Perhaps most importantly, what exactly is the draw of YTK, and why do so many adults welcome its content, questionable or not? Discuss.

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        A new Foundation

        The new TV show ‘Foundation’ from Apple is an imagining of Isaac Asimov’s novella series of the same name. With an initial two episode drop the show has already received mixed reviews.

        As always it is difficult to deal with any type of adaptation. There will always be those for whom the original material, and their personal experience with it, cannot be eclipsed. However, the point of adaptations is to allow a re-imagining of source material within the context of the period it is re-produced in. Even the nay-sayers have to admit this depiction of the fall of a great Empire, corrupt and dystopic, underpinned by a focus on a ‘genetic legacy’ that infers an extreme type of nepotism, is as extremely relevant in message and content today as it was when Asimov wrote it.

        Already in two episodes the show has raised a myriad of questions about religion, politics, and technology that have contemporary value. A discussion of the original work and its social connections, which is then compared to the changes made in the show that reflect the social concerns of today, would be a valuable discussion to have. It would be interesting to examine the changes made by the showrunners, and how that fits within the socio-political and technological landscape of today.

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          New Season: When should it end?

          Various TV series are loved and enjoyed for different factors that lead to producers investing more as time passes and ratings rise. It’s good for the show, the production, and the fans as more seasons get made. But when is the limit of stretching a story? Especially when lead actors decide to leave the cast?

          Helpful examples are long running shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Supernatural, the CW Arrowverse, Once Upon A Time, etc., and even more recent hit shows like Stranger Things. Also, a good comparison are with shows that did well with just one season, particularly “limited series”, a current television trend that includes Netflix’s Maniac and HBO’s Sharp Objects.

          • This is a really cool topic, I actually think about this a lot. For example, Dexter is my favourite show, but I do think they should have ended sooner than they did, since the story felt stretched. What do you think is a good gauge for knowing when to end a show? – priyashashri 1 year ago
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          • Any good show should end when they run out of stories to tell or when the narration should obviously conclude. The order should be story>show. With so many shows, it is the other way around- They decide there should be more seasons because ratings are good or whatever and come up with a clearly forced narrative. – abky 1 year ago
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          • I think a really good example is ‘Community.’ In it’s final episode the characters address that it must be the last episode for various reasons, including the fact that many actors had left. They offer suggestions as to what the storyline of the hypothetical ‘next season’ will be, and they conclude that it can’t be. Or there’s a reference in an episode where the earliest seasons are referred to as the best era (that’s paraphrased, I cant remember verbatim). Just a really cool example of a show’s self awareness that it has run its course, and the decision process the show’s creators would have had to go through. – leersens 1 year ago
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          Film

          All Cinema is a Special Effect: “Special Effect” Created in Two Spatiality
          All Cinema is a Special Effect: “Special Effect” Created in Two Spatiality
          Plato’s Cave and the Construction of Reality in Postmodern Movies
          Elle Woods for the defence (of femininity)
          How the Score Impacts a Film

          TV

          The Good Fight: The Real, The Plausible, and Donald Trump’s Legacy
          The Good Fight: The Real, The Plausible, and Donald Trump’s Legacy
          The Heartbreaking Symbolism of The Clone Helmet In Star Wars: The Clone Wars’s Final Episodes
          The Donald Show: Trump, Television, and Manufactured Reality
          The Portrayal of Feminism in Fleabag (2016)

          Animation

          Ren & Stimpy’s History: 30 Years Later
          Ren & Stimpy’s History: 30 Years Later
          Disney and Disability
          Disney Characters That Should Get Their Own Spinoffs
          Frozen: Letting Go of Gender Stereotypes?

          Anime

          Perfect Blue: A Genre Study
          Perfect Blue: A Genre Study
          Your Name: Finding Love Across Possible Worlds?
          Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: Breaking the mold of classic feminism
          Fafner in the Azure: Identity, Community, and Alienation

          Manga

          Elfen Lied’s Eugenic Underpinnings
          Elfen Lied’s Eugenic Underpinnings
          The Horrifying Appeal of Junji Ito
          One Punch Man vs. My Hero Academia: Reconstructing the Silver Age of Comics
          Manga: How to Travel Between Dimensions

          Comics

          Monstress: World-Building With a Feminist Twist
          Monstress: World-Building With a Feminist Twist
          Why Has Batman’s Origin Remained So Iconic?
          Feminist Criticism of Society and Comic Books’ Past
          The Batman/Catwoman Wedding Is Supposed to Upset You

          Literature

          Why Is Utopian Literature Less Popular Than Dystopian Literature?
          Why Is Utopian Literature Less Popular Than Dystopian Literature?
          The Storytelling Layers of Literary Merit
          The Ambiguous Morality of Œdipus Rex’s Iocastê
          Victor Frankenstein and his Daemon: A Study of their Dialogue

          Arts

          How YouTube Commodifies Experience
          How YouTube Commodifies Experience
          Welcome to Night Vale: More Conservative Than It Seems
          Dragons: East versus West
          Social Realism, New Masses & Diego Rivera

          Writing

          A Short Guide to a Writer’s Imaginary Critics
          A Short Guide to a Writer’s Imaginary Critics
          Using Musical Theater as a Literary Muse
          The Pillars of Outstanding Stories
          The Impact of Writing on Well-Being and Self-Development