Allie Dawson

Allie Dawson

Scribbles away unceasingly. Learn more at https://theriddleofstrider.wordpress.com/

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    Latest Topics

    3

    1970's Film and the Failure of the Studio System

    Known as the "maverick" or "auteur" era of American film, the 1970’s represented a unique era of American film-making, perhaps the most experimental since early silent ear. Traditional musicals, melodramas, and epics were no longer drawing in audiences, and, desperate, studios began giving money to fledgling directors often fresh from the brand new film schools cropping up, leading to far more daring and unusual films, such as Taxi Driver, the Godfather, and Star Wars. Well documented as this period is, take some time to examine the period just preceding, and how it enabled these films to exist at all.
    That is, look back, first at the Paramount Decision in 1948, which ended the studios monopolies on theatres and film distribution and enabled independent filmmakers to gain foothold in the American film landscape, and the rise of television in the 1950’s, which forced to make going to the movies far more of an event, with big-budget epics, full color, and features such as 3-D and widescreen. By the late 1960’s, the mediocre performances of the anachronistic Hello, Dolly! and plodding Cleopatra rendered tried and true money makers impotent. Examine how changing audience expectations, over saturation of the market, and other such factors allowed movies like Bonnie and Clyde to set the scene for the New Hollywood of the 1970’s. If the studio system hadn’t failed, would the 1970’s era of film-making ever been allowed to happen in the first place?

    • I would include certain film and TV examples that defined where the Studio System was heading towards. – BMartin43 2 months ago
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    3

    Fairy Tales in Film: A Lost Cause?

    Despite its popularity in the written world, fairy tales are notoriously difficult to adapt to the big screen, especially live-action film. While the fantasy epic can see great success (though even that took decades of box-office failure), why is it so rare for a live-action fairy tale film work while animated fairy tales are among the best movies studios like Disney have ever made?
    Analyze both the successes and failures, and discuss: why do fairy tales fare better in animation (such as Disney films) then they do in live-action? How is that a fantasy epic like Lord of the Rings succeeds while the Hobbit, by and large, fails? Address the curious case of the Narnia films, beginning strong with the relatively faithful Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, before crashing and burning with Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Is there something about animation that lends itself better to the relatively smaller scope of the fairy tale, as opposed to the more expansive world of an epic?

    • Hi! I would be careful and clear about how you categorize success and failure. The Hobbit, while not critically as successful as Lord of the Rings, was a commercial success making almost 3 billion dollars worldwide.In writing this article, I would also try to get a clear definition of a "fairy tale". Is LOTR a fairy tale? It depends on your definition.https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2015/02/11/the-hobbit-trilogy-grossed-almost-3-billion-and-no-one-cared/#c9d1b3148382 – SeanGadus 2 months ago
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    • I would be careful with writing this. Narnia, LOTR and TH are not fairy tales. Yes, they are adaptations but they aren't fairy tales, they are fantasy, like Harry Potter. These film series are more compared to the Harry Potter series than fairy tale ones. I like that you want to look at the lost cause from animation to live-action films. I suggest looking into the Grimm's Brothers Fairytales, hopefully that will help you understand what fairy tales are. Do some more research into understanding fairy tales :) http://www.surfturk.com/mythology/fairytaleelements.html https://www.reference.com/art-literature/characteristics-fairy-tale-3fae6bcb14080f7e – meganstalla 2 months ago
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    • Fairy tales are absolutely not a lost cause. In fact, I wish we had more and better adaptations of them, because they are so often the building blocks for modern literature and other media. – Stephanie M. 2 months ago
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    Locked

    "Alice in Wonderland" in Adaptation: What Makes it so Difficult?

    Lewis Carroll’s nonsense novel has seen endless variation in adaption across all forms of media, but how many of these are actually successful? Look at both the more faithful adaptions (Disney, the 1999 TV Movie), and the "darker" or somehow radically different ones (American McGee’s Alice, The Looking Glass Wars). Compare some of the adaptions which are similar in tone, like Tim Burton’s recent film and American McGee, or the Disney film and the TV Movie, with an eye for determining, which one does what it’s trying to do better (e.g., a faithful translation from book to film, a darker take), while examining what makes adaptation of this novel so difficult.

    • One of my favorite adaptations is actually the 1999 TV movie. That's likely an incredibly nostalgia-based opinion since I watched it a lot during my early childhood. Nevertheless, it's one of my favorites because it still retains the intelligence of the book. I wasn't a huge fan of the Tim Burton version (although I still haven't seen the sequel yet) since it was more of a fantasy action-adventure story involving good versus evil. For me, it lacked a bit of Lewis Carroll's signature wit whereas the 1999 version did a good job of showing just how ridiculous and nonsensical the adult world can be through the eyes of a child. – aprosaicpintofpisces 8 months ago
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    • You could also reference the difficulties of crafting a screenplay, which follows many story rules, compared to the wandering nature of Alice in Wonderland. Think of The Wizard of Oz--it has a similar path, but the character journey and story structure are quite traditional. ALICE takes more liberties. – Nate Océan 4 months ago
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    Taken by Yanni (PM) 2 months ago.
    4

    Evolution of the Elf in Fantasy Literature

    The tall, noble and beautiful elf has become almost a cliche in fantasy at this point, but this was not always so. As Tolkien traces in his landmark essay, "On Fairy Stories," from Spenser’s "The Faerie Queene" and Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" up to his time, elves had been diminutive creatures of mischief, cutesy and not worth taking seriously. Beginning with Tolkien, and his reliance on Northern European mythology to craft his legendarium, analyze this shift in the treatment of the Elf, and what it meant for fantasy as a genre. Also, compare Tolkien’s Elf with a more modern one, and look at recent deviations of the now archetypal elf.

    • Great topic! A portion of this article should definitely be devoted to the portrayal of Christmas elves, as a complete 180 deviation from the kind seen in Tolkein. How did the archetype of a tall, noble, immortal warrior turn into the short, subservient toy-makers (or tree-dwelling cookie-makers, or nocturnal shoe-makers, etc) that's become so ubiquitous in our contemporary lore? – ProtoCanon 8 months ago
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    • The writer could also stand to look into pixies/imps/brownies and other fae folk for this topic. More than a few of them have gotten mixed together. – Mariel Tishma 8 months ago
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    • Oh, the possibilities.... I'd highly suggest devoting a whole section of the topic to the Christmas elf, since they have about 1000 incarnations themselves. I've seen them as whimsical humans (Buddy in "Elf"), a Nordic-looking stop-motion troupe ("Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer") and as children with silver-specked cheeks (The Santa Clause franchise). – Stephanie M. 6 months ago
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    6

    Updating Jane Austen: When Is It No Longer Worth It?

    Take a specific case, such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: one of the most popular of the classic novels, it has been subject to various reinterpretations which of course include the occasional modernization. But updating such a novel comes with a hefty set of challenges, not the least being this: is there anything Lydia could do in our time which would ruin her sisters prospects as completely? That is, the social norms and stigmas from Austen’s time to ours are so different, is it possible to construct a modern analog for this novel? Is it worth it?

    • I think this topic could also be written contrary to your title, as one could make the argument that there is always a way to update the classics, maybe even essential to update the classics in order to make them accessible. I LOVE the way the new BBC Sherlock Holmes updates Sir Arthur Canon Doyle's stories. I think the change from pipe to nicotine patches and the updates to Dr Watson being a soldier in Afghanistan in the 21st century instead of in the 19th century are some examples of great updates that lead audiences to want to revisit the classics while still enjoying the new interpretations. – Kevin 10 months ago
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    • The Lizzie Bennett Diaries (youtube series) did a good job of updating the story, including Lydia's story line. I think as long as people feel like women should be shamed for their sexuality, people will use it against them. – chrischan 8 months ago
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    • This is a very interesting topic. If I was to write it, though, more time would be spent probably on the "why things shouldn't be 'modernized'" in the first place. I've seen Much Ado about Nothing set in 1940s Argentina performed in the West End of London- even David Tennant and Katherine Tate couldn't save that one. Even locally here, we've had Cabaret set in a Kabuki Theatre because Nazi Germany is too offensive, and not to forget the all-white version of The Wiz. I believe great art, whether movie, TV, theatre, or what have you, should be left alone. There's a reason it's known as great art, or classics. Sorry for the rant, but as you can see this is something near and dear to my heart. Cheers! – NoDakJack 8 months ago
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    1

    Film and Television After 9/11

    9/11 was the most devastating terror attack on American soil, and consequently its repercussions are still felt 15 years later. Examine how 9/11 influenced American media, in both the immediate aftermath and more long-term reflections. Don’t focus just on films and TV shows about 9/11, but look more at how it informed film aesthetics, story-lines, and how we depict terrorism and political issues in film and television (e.g., how depictions of destruction changed in the advent of 9/11, analyzing the 9/11-like imagery of films such as Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, and the DC Cinematic Universe). Focus on specific themes these films tackle in the wake of 9/11, such as PTSD, fear of the unknown threat, and, again, the proper response to terrorism.

    • This is a hugely broad topic. Is there a way to narrow this down? As it stands, this could be like at least five or six different articles. I could write one just on Spiderman. – Christen Mandracchia 10 months ago
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    • This topic is a good one, but it covers a lot of ground. I would focus on just a certain movie or just include some of the films and TV shows from the years right after 9/11. There have been a lot of movies and TV shows that display the affects of 9/11 in the past 15 years. – TaylorNCampbell 10 months ago
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    5

    Cliches and How To Use Them

    The most damning critique of any work of fiction is that it’s "cliched." Cliches are obvious detriments to the success of a work of fiction, but why? Can there be instances when the use of a cliche actually strengthens a work of fiction? Give careful definitions of terms such as "cliche," and track how an effective storytelling device, or special effect–like the "Vertigo effect" or "bullet time"–becomes a cliche, and whether it can be salvaged after endless imitation. As lazy as it is to pepper a story with overused cliches, ask, can the use of cliches be a good thing (in some instances)?

    • I agree that cliche is such a damning critque. But to answer your question, I think cliches could be used as a good thing, if the writer itself can twist the cliche and create some sort of originality to it and grad the reader's attention even if the reader already knows its a cliche. If that makes any sense! – Tkesh 1 year ago
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    • Clichés can be used effectively when there is a surprise twist to them. For example, M. Night Shyamalan usually writes a story with a twist. – Munjeera 1 year ago
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    • Great topic. How can Bob Dylan use cliches and tap into collective conscience while others are just unimaginative or lazy? – Tigey 1 year ago
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    • It depends how the cliché is being used. For example, you could try twisting one so much to the point where it criticizes the use of original version of the cliché or you can use a tried and true cliché and use it to underline the importance of certain aspects in the story. – RadosianStar 11 months ago
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    • Probably one of the reasons cliches are dreaded as much as they are is because of what it does to the reader. Our minds tend to disengage from phrases we've heard over and over again. I agree with what everyone else has already said about adding a twist to cliches to make them sound more original. That being said, everything we consider cliched now was original at one point in time and the likely reason it's been overused is because it once captured that particular truth so well. Nothing is one hundred percent original anyway, so why are cliches given such a hard time? In the case of cliches, we notice its unoriginality right away whereas other forms of repetition may be better disguised. – aprosaicpintofpisces 11 months ago
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    • I think that a cliché knowingly used with a hint of irony visible to the reader can be worthwhile. The real problem emerges when the author isn't aware that parts of their work is unoriginal. – IsidoreIsou 11 months ago
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    • I think this writing not can be very useful to writers if there were some articles that could point them towards publishing! – VAnnM 9 months ago
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    6

    "Fanon" vs. "Canon": The Validity of Fan Theories as Regards "Canonical" Works of Fiction

    Analyse "canon" vs. "fanon", and whether the latter has any validity as regards interpretations and criticism of the former. Are fan theories a legitimate way in which to explore the deeper facets of a certain work or franchise, or is it merely a socially acceptable way for adults to waste their time? Discuss how certain fan theories have influenced (or not) storylines in different franchises and creator’s rejections, adoptions, or subversions of popular fan theories (e.g., Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, Doctor Who, etc.)

    • 'Canon' has always had its 'fanon,' insofar as canonical work requires a certain apparatus of replication. Nothing is canonical if it does not get to the point where it invites imitation. Example: Cervantes's 'Don Quixote' invited, in C18th, the self-explanatory 'Female Quixote' of Charlotte Lennox. It also caused Flaubert to write, a century later, 'Madame Bovary' (about a woman who believes herself to be a character in her favorite romances). Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina' also deals with a protagonist who feels misplaced in the world she is inhabiting. If Cervantes was the original, then all the rest are reinforcements of the same 'canon.' They are, to a certain extent, 'fan fiction.' But they are also excellent examples of how imitation of a precedent can create powerful independent work. – Francisc Nona 1 year ago
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    • The R+L=J theory for Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire is practically considered canon in the fandom even though it hasn't been revealed...yet.I think it would be interesting to look into the psychology behind fan theories. Why do people discuss fan theories? What draws them into engaging in "fanon?" – Lexzie 1 year ago
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    • Vince Gilligan's attitude toward Breaking Bad is something like, Sure that could be in there. I guess that's a strength of ambiguity, which he admits to employing throughout the series. – Tigey 11 months ago
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    Latest Comments

    Allie Dawson

    Hey there! I’m sorry for neglecting your comment for so long–my life has left little time for the Artifice. But, since I love spreading the greatness of Chesterton, here is a link to a PDF version. The essay is ina collection of his works called Generally Speaking, and is entitled “On Sentiment” and found on page 94 (it’s from a more obscure collection, so it’s a bit difficult to find. However, the collection is on Amazon, with many more of his wonderful essays): http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/Generally_Speaking_scan.pdf.
    Hope that helps!

    The Problem of Peter Pan: Should Choices Hurt?
    Allie Dawson

    I’m just getting into to Studio Ghibli, but I think your piece provides a nice introduction for anyone wanting to begin getting into it.

    The Magic and Artistry of Studio Ghibli's Films
    Allie Dawson

    Thanks for this most informative piece! I knew some about Bollywood film, but that all that much, and I like how you gave a historical context for Bollywood, something most who discuss Indian cinema neglect.

    Bollywood 101: A FUN Guide to Indian Cinema
    Allie Dawson

    My dad and younger sisters watched it, and I sat in for the last episodes of season 2 and, holy crap, was it painful. My brother loves it, but we found the cheesiness and overdoses of DRAMA almost too much to endure. None of us could fathom how such a cheesy, cliche-riddled and cheap-looking show could be as popular as it is. But your comparison, if this to the 60’s Batman, sheds some light on the phenomenon. I still think it’s a crappy show, but I can respect now a little bit more for what it is, and understand the appeal at least a little bit better.

    "The Flash" as the Modern Equivalent of 1960's "Batman"
    Allie Dawson

    “Carrie” could almost be considered a modern take on the ‘Revenge Tragedy’ (i.e., Hamlet), honestly.

    Carrie White: Horror's Most Relatable Anti-Heroine
    Allie Dawson

    I’ve never seen any Baz Luhrman, but I enjoyed your analysis of one of his favorite tropes. One of my favorite novelists, Regina Doman, once said she’d probably never feature a writer as a protagonist because, to her, it seemed narcissistic. Therefore, when I began reading classic literature and other sorts of books, I was surprised to find how many works of fiction feature a writer as a major character. They say “right what you know” but I always thought, while it can be done well, a writer writing a writer is a proposition fraught with peril.

    From The Get Down to Moulin Rouge: A Look at Baz Luhrmann's Writer-Heroes
    Allie Dawson

    Interesting observations: I believe it was C.S. Lewis who said that you haven’t really read a book if you’ve only read it once (or something to that effect). I think much of the value of rereading depends also on the book itself. If it’s a “classic,” among the greatest ever written, then rereading only peels back the layers of meaning and depth that can’t be captured on a first read. Something like “The Babysitter’s Club,” though, while it might bring up some warm and fuzzy nostalgia, but rereading in adulthood only proves how shallow it is. Still, I think even those sorts of books are with rereading (or skimming)–it would at least prevent you from recommending it to someone else.

    Why Reread Books? The Pros and Cons of Rereading
    Allie Dawson

    Love this! Folk songs are always at the top of my playlist, and it’s nice to see them taken seriously every once in a while.

    Folk Music: A Timeless Genre