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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics


    Pro-Wrestling: A Fan's Primer

    Pro-Wrestling has been around for decades and has tens of millions of fans, but is often misunderstood by those on the outside. Moreover, the complex and serialized nature of pro-wrestling story-telling makes entry as a new fan difficult. A complete overview of the sport up through present trends and story-lines would be interesting: formation and history of the sport, brief summation of the legal players and corporate/owner factions, explanation of terminology used in the sport, brief summation of story-line factions (faces/heels/teams), and an explanation of why ‘ it’s scripted, not fake ‘ is essential to understanding the appeal of the sport.

    • I love this topic! It would be worth mentioning how many pro wrestlers later became actors such as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. – Cagney 9 years ago
    • There is a lot to talk about with this topic besides the above mentioned. Another thing to look at would be themes used in wrestling story lines that are also used in other genres in the media. – lisa82 7 years ago
    • This is really interesting. But I am afraid there are already accounts (introductions and summaries) that address this questions. – T. Palomino 1 year ago

    Transgender Representation in Television

    With the rise of awareness of transgendered individuals, a wide look at transgender representation on television could show how the definition of their cultural identity has changed, and how it can still improve. Consider to what extent "freak show" portrayals (a trans person as an oddity or comic relief) have been the bulk of trans portrayal in the past and how that is evolving.

    Possible inclusions: Denise Bryson (Twin Peaks character), RuPaul’s Drag Race, the media coverage of Caitlin Jenner, the new trans character on Sens8, Jazz Jennings (a young trans model doing a national ad campaign for Clean & Clear).

    This could also be done with examples from movies, and be a topic for the Movie section. Buffalo Bill (Silence of the Lambs), The Crying Game, and Better Than Chocolate come to mind.

    This topic is currently being discussed around the internet — do thorough searches to make sure you’re not duplicating another article.

    • Jazz Jennings also has a tlc show now "I am Jazz" – saragrilli 9 years ago
    • For a sci-fi take, there is Missy from Doctor Who; once a male Timelord, she regenerated into a female Timelady. – claytonpitcher 9 years ago
    • Knights of Sidonia had a rather interesting way in which its future society dealt with transgender characters. From my understanding, fuzzy as it may be, characters born in the higher classes of the space station initially identified as agender or androgynous and fluidly switched between gender identities depending on their partner at the time. One character started the series in gender neutral military clothes but gradually began to dress in a more feminine manner when a romance began to develop with a heterosexual male character. Not sure if that's entirely a good thing, having one's gender fluidity be dependent on those one is pursuing, but it was still an interesting take on a what a post gender future society might look like. – RyanR 9 years ago
    • This is a nice topic but also look at how the depictions on tv are effected by or effect the people who watch them. Consider the intended audiences for the shows as well – gabrielleceleste 9 years ago
    • Silence of the Lambs spawned protests over how a transgender individual was being negatively portrayed in the character of Buffalo Bill. This was early as 1992. This proves to be an interesting topic! – Cmandra 9 years ago

    Actors Playing Themselves

    In _The Big Bang Theory_, Will Wheaton plays the character "Will Wheaton" but that character is an exaggerated version of Wheaton’s public characteristics, it’s not meant to be a true-to-life version of himself. The same is true for James Van Der Beek’s character in _Don’t Trust the B— in Apt 23_; though named "James Van Der Beek", we are not supposed to think that character legitimately portrays Van Der Beek’s true character.

    What challenges do actors face when playing "themselves"? Research through interviews might provide insights into how the actors feel. It seems like both men are having fun with the exaggerations, but are there difficulties? Do they struggle with fans who are unable to make the distinction? Do such roles diminish an actor’s credibility by making their career into a joke, or does it create additional name recognition and re-ignite careers?

    Probably a third actor/role should be added to round out this discussion.

    • Interesting topic! If you decide to write this topic, you need to differentiate cameos and actors actually playing themselves for a whole film. It's also worth looking at Sunset Boulevard as it is a fascinating exploration of the star system and the evolving film industry. Billy Wilder uses Buster Keaton, Gloria Swanson and Erich von Stroheim for a reason - they all play characters who are very similar to themselves and the way the film industry has treated them and forgotten them. The names change, but they are actually playing themselves and their lives on camera. Thrilling! – Rachel Elfassy Bitoun 9 years ago
    • "This is the End" is probably the best recent example, and the stories of each of the actors getting in real fights due to false ones they wrote for the film that were too close to the truth is a fascinating story in and of itself. – smartstooge 9 years ago
    • Is there such a thing as a "true-to-life version of oneself" for actors who portray themselves in movies or TV shows? – T. Palomino 1 year ago

    Video Game Music Overview: Industry Standards, Careers, Awards

    Once upon a time, the music in video games was an after-thought — small, repetitive loops of tinny electronic sounds was the norm. With some games being built to hold up to literally hundreds of hours of game play, the music scores have gotten considerably more impressive. A friend of mine was recently surprised to realize the cool song playing on her Pandora "movie sound track" list was actually from TES5: Skyrim.

    I would love to see an in-depth article about working in the video game industry as a musician. Are musicians permanently on staff, or are they contract-hire? Are most scores now done with orchestras, or does electronic production still rule? To what extent do video game musicians need to learn to code? How hard is it to break in? Do the musicians also create sound-effect loops, or is that a different specialty? Are there awards for video game music? Is there cross-over between video game musicians and those who regularly work in television or movies?

    • I think this article could also lend itself to the performance of video game music by orchestras in "real" concert venues. I know that there are a few CDs and performances that have been released/occurred that brings video game music not just to gamers, but to the public as a whole – DClarke 9 years ago
    • You could go into how video game music has become more "mainstream." What I mean by that is more and more there is a crossover between composers in both film/television and video games. Many film composers have done work for notable video games, such as: -Hans Zimmer (Inception, The Dark Knight) has contributed to Crysis 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 -Harry Gregson-Williams (Shrek, The Town) to the Metal Gear series, -Clint Mansell (Requiem for a Dream) to Mass Effect 3 -Henry Jackman (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain Phillips) is working on the score for next year's Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. Also, in a historical achievement, Austin Wintory garnered a Grammy nomination in 2013 for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for his work on Journey. This kind of mainstream award recognition was previously unheard of for a video game soundtrack. – BradShankar 9 years ago

    Domestic Violence in Country Music

    Domestic violence is a prominent theme in country music. Songs like "Goodbye, Earl", "Gunpowder and Lead", and "Independence Day" (to name just three) feature violent, deadly retribution from women onto the men who have abused them. But while "Independence Day" is a somewhat mournful song, the other two mentioned are upbeat tunes, almost party songs, and there are many others.

    What is it about the country music demographic that makes these songs not only acceptable, but popular? Are the rates of domestic violence higher in the demographic that listens to country music, or lower? Since the popular versions of this song form promote retributive violence by a woman against her husband, is it possible to track the incidents of wife-on-husband violence w/in the demographic to see if it’s higher than average?

    No other genre of music has a niche just for this kind of song. I’d like to see someone explore why.

    • It would certainly make sense that the "wife taking revenge on the husband" would be popular at least for political correctness since it's more stereotypical to assume that women are the ones abused in a relationship. And it would be especially so when that subject is set to the catchy upbeat tone that country music can acquire to make it marketable to listeners. In addition, rural areas of the United States where country music is indeed most popular have higher rates of domestic violence and children born out of wedlock so there is a strong influence for that image of the battered woman regardless of men being prone to suffering from domestic violence too. – dsoumilas 9 years ago

    Spin-Offs: The Good, the Bad, the Unrecognizable

    When it’s time for a popular series to come to an end, the decision is sometimes made to extend the story by creating a new show using secondary or background characters. Sometimes these efforts are a success ("Saved by the Bell" was a bigger hit than "Good Morning, Miss Bliss"); sometimes they could/should have worked but didn’t ("The Lone Gunmen" from "X-Files"); sometimes they were ill-conceived from the start (why was "The Raven" spun-off from "Highlander" and not, say, "The Joe and Methos Show"?).

    Why do some spin-offs work and others crash and burn? How do the elements of setting, story, characters, and actors combine to create something fresh and exciting from a fading star? Are there spin-offs that might have been successful on their own merits if they weren’t being compared to a beloved predecessor? Are there examples of shows that were more successful than they merited, due to the reflected glow of their source material? Are there spin-offs-in-name-only that bore so little resemblance to their original shows that they were unrecognizable as being part of the same world?

    • Great question! Unfortunately I haven't seen any of the mentioned spin-offs or original shows. Though not equally successful I've heard good reviews for Torch Wood made from Doctor Who (but it's obviously impossible to compete with such a classic long going show). It might be interesting to look at spin offs in the new light of Agents of Shield, a tv show based on the lives of agents in the Marvel world. Is it a spin off of the comics or the newly produced Avengers movies... or both? And does coming for two backgrounds give it a better chance of success? Maybe spin offs are more or less successful because they draw from an already well established universe? – Slaidey 9 years ago
    • This is very timely, especially with Girl Meets World and the new Vacation movie coming out soon. I don't understand the need for spinoffs, so this would be an interesting topic to raise! – Samantha Brandbergh 9 years ago
    • There's also the new "Walking Dead" spinoff that's coming out soon. A good question to consider would be whether certain spinoffs are meaningful additions to popular stories, or if they're merely the recycling of preexisting ideas to make money. – Nicole Williams 9 years ago
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    YA Dystopia Glut: A Sign of Despondency or Optimism?

    After the success of the Harry Potter series, the YA market exploded. The books released by publishers under the YA category today are not as "dumbed-down" or childish as was the trend for a long time — offerings for the last decade have tackled many social issues and provided bleak scenarios of the future. As with HP, the success of the Hunger Games series has also inspired a number books and series, except the HG wave is filled with post-apocalyptic or near-apocalyptic settings.

    My initial reaction to the premise of the Hunger Games series was sadness — I was not interested in reading about children fighting to the death for food. Recently at a convention I asked the group about whether or not they believed the dystopia trend signals a despondency amongst the young people reading them — a lack of hope for the future of the world. A junior high teacher spoke up to say no, that she hears that a lot but she believes the trend is a hopeful one, because even though the main characters of these novels are struggling to stay alive in ruined worlds, the fact is that within the story, humanity has survived whatever collapse has been portrayed, and the young people in the story are re-building a better society.

    I’d be interested in seeing a well-researched article from a psychological perspective that compares several different popular YA series, and discusses the issue of hopefulness within those series.

    I’m putting this in Literature, but it could also be an article for the Writing category, depending on approach.

    • I wrote an article about classic dystopian novels a while back that takes The Hunger Games as a starting point, seeming as it is a popular series :) it has been an interest of mine, thinking about how 'Dystopia' as a genre has changed over time, and how it has become such a YA genre when it wasn't always. I know this isn't exactly to the topic, but thought it might be useful! :) – Camille Brouard 9 years ago
    • I mean this topic can even spread to the Film category due to the mad grab for film adaptations of Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and Divergent. I do agree with the junior high teacher that these series in the end are hopeful. Typically they end with the main character destroying the world that they grew up in (which was corrupt to begin with) and creating a new and hopefully better one. Similarly the generation that has grown up with Harry Potter and Hunger Games and the like have to face a world that is drastically different than the world that the Baby Boomers lived in. One that is rife with problems that previous generations ignored. At the same time, this current generation has managed to look at the stark reality and embrace the notion that change can occur by challenging the current societal norms to create a new world for themselves. – ajames 9 years ago

    The Return of Bloom County

    Berkeley Breathed has announced that he is picking up the adventures of Milo, Opus, and the rest. This is a good opportunity to do a Bloom County retrospective, and possibly muse a little on dangers of an artist returning to a creative well. Older fans will compare the new work to the previous; new fans will not have the base to draw from and will need the work to be fresh and compelling before they’ll be drawn into it.

    Could go in Arts or Writing categories, either, depending on the focus.

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      Latest Comments


      As I said to anonymous above, giving us strength and tools with which to face our own villains is the best power that Story has. I’m really glad to see readers sharing this kind of experience; I think it’s the best legacy _Labyrinth_ could have hoped for.

      Labyrinth (1986): Power, Sex, and Coming of Age

      Not over-share at all, just the opposite. The most important, most vital thing a story can do is change the way we view or interact with the world by teaching us about others and ourselves. The effects of the “you have no power over me” scene stayed with me my entire life as well, and made a difference. It’s why I wrote this article. One of the things that I love about the Artifice is that it’s a wonderful platform to have these in-depth discussions about the power of Art on our lives. Take care, and thanks for commenting.

      Labyrinth (1986): Power, Sex, and Coming of Age

      Yes, the world is a sadder place for no longer having a David Bowie in it. Fortunately his art lives on. Thanks for the thoughtful comments!

      Labyrinth (1986): Power, Sex, and Coming of Age

      Very eloquent response, Jose, thank you!

      Labyrinth (1986): Power, Sex, and Coming of Age

      Well-researched article, very well laid-out. Thank you for the research!

      The Origins of Middle-Earth: Gods, Poems, and Dragons

      A lot of good points here (and in the comments thus far). Have to say that one of my pet peeves is when an author is so intent upon showing how much research they’ve done than in telling the story. This is a bigger problem with text than with film, but I’ve seen many elements in both kinds of work that were shoe-horned into the story to show off authorial knowledge. It always bugs me.

      The Debatable Importance of Historical Accuracy in Period Films

      As an 80’s teen, I saw all the Hughes movies in the theater, long before I was consciously examining media. In my experience, they’ve just always been around… but you’re right — the reason they’re still referenced is due to how accurate, thoughtful, and relevant the character portrayals are. Thank you for shining a spotlight on an artist I haven’t given enough thought to!

      John Hughes Remains Relevant: Don't You Forget About Me

      Fantastic analysis. Thanks so much for writing this!

      Firefly: A Freudian and Jungian Analysis