AGMacdonald

AGMacdonald

I'm a geek who loves pop culture (and Pop Vinyls) books, movies, TV and video games. I also love looking at history and culture from around the world.

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Latest Articles

Latest Topics

10

Should diverse characters by portrayed as a means of social justice?

We see people refer to the need for more diverse characters, and of course it is important to hear from a broad range of people, who all have different backgrounds and opinions, but is it important that these characters are always linked to social justice? Every time we have an action story with a female lead like Mad Max: Fury Road, Atomic Blonde, Star Wars: The Force Awakens etc, it turns into a tirade about how this character is monumental and never been done before, and young women everywhere should look up to this characters because there aren’t any other female action stars (despite everybody else saying the same thing).

This topic is not intended to question the validity of diverse character, but rather investigate the effects of social justice on these characters. Is this layer of social justice harmful to these characters? If we introduce these characters without strong political and moral lectures, will audiences be more likely to embrace these differences?

An example that could work as a starting point could be The Simpsons: The character of Smithers is homosexual, but he isn’t a protected species like social justice would dictate. All facets of his character, including his sexuality, are made light of. A few years ago, The Simpsons was listed as the most influential show for homosexual representation and the breaking down of homosexual stigma. Is it possible that social justice is standing in the way of diversity? I think it would be very interesting to look at the effects of social justice on the advancement on diversity and how we should move forward with more diverse characters.

  • Thank you for this topic; I think there's a lot of mileage to be gotten out of it. You raise a valid point, and one I agree with. As a personal example, I have a physical disability. Therefore, I would like to see more people with disabilities represented in the media. But I *hate* it when characters with disabilities only exist to be "inspirations," or to promote social justice. In my view, we all exist to grow into ourselves, to find our purposes, and to be decent people. We're not meant to use each other just so one group can feel better about itself. – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
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  • I long for the day when characters are portrayed simply as people, regardless of whatever 'differences' they might have. A great idea for a topic. – Amyus 3 months ago
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  • You and me both, Amyus. – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
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  • Ideally a role should include both individuality and the person's interaction with society. To have a character without examining the individual's place in society would be an odd omission. Remember the show Remington Steele. It had a mystery to solve in each episode and a feminist arc back over each season back in the 80s. The show Campbell's today is a funny sitcom that shows interactions across race/gender/generations in a hilarious way today. I think the best characters on a show are a combination of the two aspects of a person, not to mention how a person is in one's family. Another example would be Big Bang Theory. Smart, successful people but struggling in love, life and legacies from their families. – Munjeera 3 months ago
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  • This is something I've always felt but never put into words. By over-emphasizing on social justice, we take away from the identity of a character. This is especially true whenever a lead is not a heterosexual white male. It's as if the character by itself is not interesting or strong enough to stand without the stigma to be PC. – superdilettante 3 months ago
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  • Master of None is a great combination of a person's life with some commentary on racism thrown in as would normally happen to a person of color. Bring It On is another movie that touches on a social justice theme but concludes in a surprising direction. Snowpiercer and Hell or High Water are two movies that portray the males leads in unusual ways. CSI had a coroner who had prosthetic limbs and he was portrayed without social justice themes throughout his tenure. There are successful movies and TV shows that do have diverse characters without social justice themes.The question here can be likened to if someone takes an example of a single character on TV who is not married, they are usually portrayed as searching for a partner. Can a single person ever be portrayed without the search for a significant other? The dating lives of single characters form the basis of so many characters on TV. Why can't single characters be portrayed as happily single and not dating? Because dating is a normal part of single life ad makes for fun TV viewing.Racism is a normal interaction in daily life and often forms the basis for a POC's life trajectory. Sobering but true. Also true is that it does make for interesting viewing. Whether that interest translates into actual action and effectively leads to change is another story. – Munjeera 3 months ago
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  • I completely agree Munjeera that racism and other forms of bigotry are part of daily life for some, and obviously that is a topic that is worth exploring; but I think it should be about maintaining balance. If you only show all members of a minority as victims, it sends a message to those people that they will forever be victims. It is like the handling of gay characters in Glee. Every gay character was a victim. They were always defined by their minority status and how society oppressed them. It then instills the notion in young (in this instance gay) people that they will never achieve anything because everyone is out to get them. – AGMacdonald 3 months ago
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  • Hi AGMacdonald, Absolutely agree 100% that portrayals of diversity are trite with the idea that social change is not directed by individuals and their respective communities. But I don't think we should overestimate the influence of the media, rather we influence media. Media feeds our appetites not the other way around. Audiences are comfortable with the idea of diverse characters as victims or comedic targets rather than heroes or characters that have contributions to make.As for instilling in people, young and old, that these stereotypes are acceptable, people need to take responsibility for their viewing habits. I personally have made the decision to crtically examine entertainment for myself and my children and speak out against victimization roles. I do seek out forms of entertainments, plays and movies, that do offer nuanced and critical portrayals with complex characters. The more we support these types of high quality entertainment in its various forms, the more our responsible choices will have an impact on the entertainment industry.We need to stop enabling and blaming the media for their immature portrayals and start being mature and responsible in how we respond. Media will offer diverse characters with depth and nuance when we start demanding it. – Munjeera 3 months ago
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  • Absolutely agree. It's such a complicated issue, which is why it will make for a great article. – AGMacdonald 3 months ago
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Is Fan Service a Nostalgic Throwback or a Crutch for Lazy Writing?

Fan service has become a staple of modern Hollywood films, and while it’s great to see the characters from previous iterations of your favourite franchises, it is also important to have fresh original ideas to go with them. The Force Awakens was criticised for doing this to much: for not just including characters and setting, but for reproducing complete story beats and plot devices. So, the question I would like to see explored is: How much is too much when it comes to fan service?

  • Fan service has always been ingrained in very legendary franchises. It may be best to look at other examples as well. – BMartin43 4 weeks ago
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Was the Netflix Death Note adaptation as abysmal as people say?

Netflix recently released its live action adaptation of Death Note, and people were less than impressed by it. A few people who have not seen the original have said that they enjoyed the film for what is was. Without associating it with the source material, is there joy and entertainment to be found here?
Also, is it possible that the whole ‘white washing’ element cast a dark cloud over the whole production (which seemed a bit odd considering that it is the most diverse iteration of Death Note with a wide array of characters from many different races). It would be very interesting to find reasons while the Netflix adaptation, though flawed, was not as bad as people made out.

  • I feel like what made people so upset about this was not necessarily the "white washing", but the uprooting the entire premise of the show and moving it to America. – ees 3 months ago
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  • It's embedded in the nature of adaptation. Rampant fandoms prove to be a consumer lock but also a social media nightmare. Manga/anime fandoms are serious and tough. If we were talking about any number of other adaptations, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. That people are mad for the Obha & Obata manga (and subsequent, concurrent anime series) automatically sets an absurd bar for any adaptation. Check *Oldboy,* maybe. It's done a series of adaptation loops. Regardless, good topic. – Paul A. Crutcher 3 months ago
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Exploring Hollywood's Obession with the Prequel

Filmmaking is a business. Hollywood knows that, and so does the general population. For a long time, Hollywood has been ensuring guaranteed hits by extending already existing popular franchises. This would traditionally take the form of a sequel like Die Hard 2; Mad Max 2; Terminator 2 (you get where I am going with this), but in recent years there has been a number of prequels cropping up: Fantastic Beasts, Star Wars, Terminator, Star Trek (both the new films and the upcoming television series). This article would explore the idea of why Hollywood thinks prequels are such a marketable storytelling device? Is it because people love throwbacks and little Easter eggs? Do we love a good origin story? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  • Yes! I'm very excited for this topic. Part of me wonders if prequels aren't the new sequels. Perhaps the film industry is counting on our nostalgia for popular franchises to make more money. Or perhaps people feel like the original film starting in the wrong place. Maybe we simply have unanswered questions that could only be remedied by a prequel. I'm curious to see what people think! – ReidaBookman 5 months ago
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  • A very interesting topic! Are audiences sick of prequels, because they view them as resulting from a lack of creativity in Hollywood? Numerous discussions I've had with viewers of 'The Original Content' have actually commented on the fact that they struggle to enjoy prequels because they feel it takes away from the initial cast or narrative. I think individual enjoyment of 'the prequel' is generational, but I'm fascinated to see what you think! – Madi 5 months ago
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Making a Case for Remaking Old Games

While Hollywood remakes are rampant at the moment, we have been inundated with a spate of soulless cash-ins; but do video games have to share the same fate? The mechanics of video games are much more complex, and as such can do with a gamelpay and graphics overhaul every decade or two to keep the game alive.
It would be interesting for someone to put forward the case that there is actually a need for remakes within the video game market.

  • This is an interesting article. There are a lot of games that get remade or might get remade in the future.For example: the crash bandicoot collection, FF IIV, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and Twilight PrincessI think you also need to define what a remake is? Is that different than a rerelease or the same? – Sean Gadus 5 months ago
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  • A comparison between the successful Assassins Creed game franchise and the failure to translate it to film would be interesting – bethlauren 5 months ago
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Is Creativity Dead Within the Film Industry?

Over the last couple of years, we have entered a new era of filmmaking. Studios only make safe bets, some of which pay off (The Force Awakens, Mad Max, Star Trek), but many of them bomb (Baywatch, Ghostbusters and King Arthur). Is this due to the death of creativity in these fields? Is looking for the safe bet, sticking to a formula and attaching people with no care for the source material, responsible for abysmal sales?

  • Remakes have become a common since Hollywood may have trouble coming up with original concepts. – BMartin43 6 months ago
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  • I would compare/contrast mainstream Hollywood and Indie films. You often find new and creative ideas in the indie movies because the monetary risk isn't as high and the success of those can often shape what risks Hollywood will take – BreannaWaldrop 6 months ago
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  • I think this is actually a misleading question as the film titles listed are all Hollywood productions. No, creativity is not dead within the film industry, we just need to broaden our horizon and acknowledge that original and creative films are being made outside of Hollywood, both within American independent cinema and in many countries around the world. Hollywood makes product and product must sell, hence the remakes and reboots, ostensibly made to introduce a younger, upcoming generation to an old popular story or series, because all that really matters to the Hollywood executives is how the latest product performs over the next financial quarter, therefore risks are rarely taken. My taste in films is admittedly biased as I prefer European and Oriental films (although I also have Russian, Polish, Iranian, Turkish and Indian films in my collection, to list just a few) so I tend to ignore the latest mega-hyped Hollywood blockbuster because I find independent film making and 'World' cinema far more rewarding in terms of its style, content and storytelling. True creativity doesn't have a price tag attached and Hollywood has long forgotten this point. – Amyus 5 months ago
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Latest Comments

AGMacdonald

The Last of Us really set the bar so high as the benchmark for videogame storytelling.

Autism to Artistic Integrity: Do Video Games Need Good Plotting?
AGMacdonald

Thanks for the comment. It’s always great to hear first hand accounts. Also, you’re absolutely right about the DC thing. 😊

Autism to Artistic Integrity: Do Video Games Need Good Plotting?
AGMacdonald

The Call of Duty Ganges have been churned out one after the other for years. Not taking the time to develop a story is a big oversight.

Autism to Artistic Integrity: Do Video Games Need Good Plotting?
AGMacdonald

It’s almost scary how good the technology is becoming.

Autism to Artistic Integrity: Do Video Games Need Good Plotting?
AGMacdonald

I never really thought of that before, but you’re absolutely right! Definitely a contributing factor.

Autism to Artistic Integrity: Do Video Games Need Good Plotting?
AGMacdonald

Though it might get me on trouble with some fans, I have to admit, I bought the 3 Remasters for PS4 and got about 3/4 of the way through and felt no desire to continue.

Autism to Artistic Integrity: Do Video Games Need Good Plotting?
AGMacdonald

There are many factors that come into play with the different expectations on video games. The actions of the player definitely have an added level of accountability, but one could play devil’s advocate and argue that it is a cathartic expression that can curb any urges on the player’s side.

Autism to Artistic Integrity: Do Video Games Need Good Plotting?
AGMacdonald

And some games have no plot or charters at all like Pong, but people enjoyed it all the same. Although, it is important to note that most of Pong’s limitations were hardware based.

Autism to Artistic Integrity: Do Video Games Need Good Plotting?