An author of short and long-form fiction, currently unpublished. I am widely read and interested in writing about writing and literature.

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    Sexual Violence in Media

    There’s been a lot of chatter recently about the portrayal of sexual violence in media, particularly with Game of Thrones’ graphic scenes, and with the important but purely implicit sexual violence in Mad Max: Fury Road. Rape gets used for shock value, or to make something more "edgy", as well as a motivator or background story angst for female characters, but that can be incredibly cheap storytelling at times, not to mention harmful. It would be interesting to see a comparison of implicit versus explicit sexual violence, its uses in various media, and where it’s useful versus where it’s just gratuitous.

    • Good point. It also seems like it can be superadded to an existing work. If we take Game of Thrones for example, there is no denying that Martin uses sex quite often as part of his text but when it gets adapted to the screen it seems like the sex becomes more graphic and can be added where there was none before. I think this is a timely topic and one that can be taken in a lot of directions – DClarke 9 years ago
    • In the case of "useful" explicit rape, the first scene that comes to mind is the rape scene in Straw Dogs (1971). It's an incredibly complicated moment--so much so that when a director wanted to remake the movie, one of his primary objectives was to flatten the rape scene to a single, formulaic note because the ambiguity of the first was, for him, beyond comprehension, and he just wanted audiences to see a woman suffer (ugh). The original is *not* a failing, though; the whole movie is intentionally wrought in difficult ambiguities, and the rape scene is no different. Simply put, a woman who returns to her hometown with her mild-mannered husband knows exactly how dangerous her ex is, but toys with him until he forces himself upon her; at first she is deeply upset by his violence, but mid-coitus the ex lovers have a very weird, difficult moment of reunion, just before the ex's coworker introduces himself with a gun and demands his turn. It's a painful scene to watch, with so many different emotions playing out over our victim's face, and it's made worse by the fact that the raped woman refuses to tell her husband what's happened after. Nonetheless, there is a *wealth* of discourse that emerges from Peckinpah's approach, which does NOT treat the act in an alluring light. On a different note, Almodovar has a rape in Kika that... actually manages to be comedy, because it makes such a striking mockery of the rapist, a porn star who seems to have a compulsion to copulate not unlike a dog rutting against a human leg. At first the rape scene is wrenching, but as it keeps going on to absurd lengths (because the rapist cannot seem to finish), the raped protagonist reclaims a measure of agency in a most surprising--and again, comedic--way. Good luck with this article! – MLClark 9 years ago
    • With Game of Thrones the most recent rape scene, being that of Sansa's, was not actually very graphic. The camera panned over to Theon and our reaction of the rape was moulded by Theon's reaction. I think there is a lot of confusion in this area that needs to be discussed. I see a lot of arguments that rape shouldn't be shown because it's a disgusting, violent horrible act, which it is, but that's also the right reaction to have; of we had a reaction totally opposite to that, that's when we need to look at sexual violence in media. south Park has, on several occasions, stated that it's only ok to have a discourse for everything or nothing at all (and with regards to South Park that would be it's ok to make fun of/to satirise anything). – Jamie 9 years ago
    • 100% behind this proposal. I think it needs to be done for the sake of victims of sexual assault, many of whom feel alienated by the sensationalistic attitudes towards sex in mainstream cinema. – Luke Stephenson 9 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    I wouldn’t even go that far. I don’t believe Scar thinks he’s a hero- I think he’s just doing what he has to do. He’s hurt and angry, but he’s also cast away his name and made himself an outcast. He’s fighting a fight he feels is righteous, but I don’t think he thinks much of himself beyond that.

    Full Metal Alchemist: Science vs Religion

    I firmly believe that all writers should own a copy of Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style”, and should read it- it’s the essential grammar text. I’m also fond of Jack Hodgins’s “A Passion for Narrative”, and have found a number of other, less general writing reference books useful from time to time. Writer’s Digest publishes a number of writer’s references, including the “Character Naming Sourcebook”, which I love.

    Essential Books for Writers

    This is an interesting comment on science vs. religion, which is definitely an important aspect of FMA, and particularly of FMA:B.

    I find it interesting that you chose to compare the Ishvalans to the Muslim people, not because it’s a totally inaccurate comparison, but because I’ve always considered them a closer analogue to the Jews. Given the WWII-esque setting of FMA, their extermination by a literal Fuhrer, their demonization all scream Holocaust to me. However, you’re right that Scar more closely echoes the religious extremism of Jihadi Muslims, and that he’s a comment on hypocrisy. That being said, he also considers himself an outcast of his own people, and believes himself a traitor to both them and to his God, so while he hates alchemy and believes it’s a scourge, his quest is as much personal as it is religious. He’s a very complicated character, just as much as all the others, and I don’t think he should be taken purely as a parallel to Islamic terrorism, particularly given when and where the manga was written and conceived (the first volume was published early in 2001, and it’s Japanese, so probably lacking the American terrorism panic, but it’s possible).

    Full Metal Alchemist: Science vs Religion

    I’ll admit freely: I skimmed parts of this article. It’s very long, and I was having a hard enough time marshalling my thoughts on the parts I did read. Your analysis is interesting, and shows a good grasp of the creative process, but I feel like you’re not giving enough weight to certain aspects. In particular, prejudice. You talk about Lord of the Rings, etc. as being an objection to absolute power, and I certainly agree with that, but I think that as a whole creation it’s too charged with Tolkien’s own biases and understandings to be apolitical even a little bit. He does offer insight into values rather than institutions, but that insight is coloured by his own world view, and that needs to be taken into account when considering the politics of his writing. He had a lot of very interesting ideas, and he created an incredible thing, but in a lot of ways it’s not a diverse creation, and because of how influential it was mainstream fantasy has become a much more narrow genre- or perhaps it was narrow before, and Tolkien only encouraged it. It’s hard to say where the beginnings and endings of genre mutation are, because it’s so organic, and everything affects everything else.

    Tolkien created an amazing thing, and he said many things therein that are very positive. All of his overt messages and the general impression of his art and his writing is a progressive, evolutionary one that has for good reason captures thousands of minds. But every writer is trapped by their own world view, and Tolkien’s does seep through. This is a good article and a good exploration of some aspects of his creativity and the sum of his work, but it might have been deeper and better still if you’d looked a little more at the more subliminal and subconscious politics of the writing.

    Tolkien's Art and Politics: Is Middle-earth Real?