Joseph Cernik

Joseph Cernik

Editor, Missouri Policy Journal, Lindenwood University.

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    Latest Articles

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    Star Trek's Interconnected History

    For someone choosing to write an essay on this topic, the issue of interconnected history, binding the seven Star Trek TV shows (the Original, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, Picard) together, presents an interesting way of discussing a narrative that connects the shows and keeps interest in previous Star Trek series alive.
    For example, in the Original, “The Menagerie” episodes (parts 1 and 2 in Season 1) former Enterprise Captain Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) is brought to Talos IV where he will be re-united with Vina (Susan Oliver). In Discovery, the “If Memory Serves” episode (Season 2), Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) visits Talos IV and meets Vina (Melissa George). Furthermore, in Picard (Season 1) in the “The End is the Beginning” episode, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), when visiting a Borg ship that was disconnected from the hive, is referred to as Locutus. In The Next Generation (Season 3) in the “The Best of Both Worlds” episode (Part 1) Picard is transformed into Locutus.
    Star Trek’s interconnected history presents a fascinating way of writing about the depth of created history that now runs back through five decades of a television series. As a result of a half century of television shows, there are storylines from the Star Trek series that are known to several generations of TV viewers. That much TV history has made so much of Star Trek part of American Culture.


      Science Explained Through Television: From Watching Mr. Wizard to Bill Nye the Science Guy

      From Don Herbert who starred in “Watch Mr. Wizard” (1951—1965) to Bill Nye who starred in “Bill Nye the Science Guy” (1993-1998), we see that science could be explained in ways which do require a degree in science. How do we look at the impact of these shows? Both Herbert and Nye have had some degree of prominence beyond their shows. In the case of Herbert, by the mid 1950s, there were several thousand Mr. Wizard science clubs, and, in the case of Nye, besides appearances on TV shows such as “The Big Bang,” and “Dancing with the Stars,” Nye has been prominent in addressing creationism and global warming. The legacy of these two individuals can be studied to address making science a topic that is not simply left to scientists.


        How Widows are Seen and Portrayed in America through Movies

        This is an outgrowth of a few comments I noticed on my article about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel–the issue of widows was raised. It might be interesting to see how widows have been presented in movies, say, a movie from each decade from the 1950s to the present (or beginning before the 1950s). Movies can reflect the values and norms of a period in time so what changes are seen and how do they reflect changing values? A 1947 movie, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, starred Gene Tierney (as a widow) and Tex Harrison (as the ghost). Or, the 2018 movie, Widows, starring Viola Davis and Michelle Rodriguez. What impact did and do these movies have on how the public looks upon widows?


          Harry Potter: Reading versus The Movies

          Character development, something that movies do not have the time for, but books do, allows for the creation of a more complex environment. In the case of the Harry Potter books, it was possible to develop an appreciation of the difficulties of learning magic and of the slow process of social interaction among a wide cast of characters. As a result, as one works their way through the books, characters develop more substance. What gets lost, glossed over, or just mentioned in passing in the movies, can be understood and appreciated when watched after having read the books. An essay can focus on the contrasts between understanding Harry Potter from the books versus watching the movies, without having read the books. This can be useful as a way of highlighting the importance of reading but also the difficulties of writing for the big screen.

          • I was just thinking about this topic. If you don't read the books but watch the movies, there is so a lot that feels like plot-holes if you don't know the context of it from the book. A lot of characters get thrown to the side or forgotten in the movies or mentioned in passing so quickly you might not even catch it. Great topic! – Zohal99 4 years ago
          • A wonderful topic, especially in regards to Harry Potter. There is so much that gets swept under the rug that the Harry Potter movies remind me of a SparkNotes version of the books. – CarliStas 4 years ago
          • Quite right you are, Zohal99. I was introduced to Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather by way of the film portrayal. I found it difficult to conceive that anything more could be said about the reality of such a family, Italian or otherwise. I then read the novel and was dumbfounded by what was amiss in the film. Granted, the real reason for Sonny's lady-in-waiting would garner an R rating here, nevertheless; each medium does what it can, how it can, when it can---I believe. – L:Freire 3 years ago

          Animation and Political Satire

          "Pinky and the Brain" and "Rocky and Bullwinkle" were two series that often contained subtle and, at times, not so subtle jabs at politics. An example is an episode of "Pinky and the Brain" where the Brain found a Rush Limbaugh record where Limbaugh sings and the Brain is going to use it to "try to takeover the world." There may be other series that can be added to this essay, these are included here as examples. The broader theme is that political satire can be found weaving itself through several animation series. An essay can address the writers and what they said. In addition, did viewers pick up on the satire? Did the satire reach beyond the viewers? So, several issues, perhaps others, can be addressed in a well-developed essay.

          • I would try to be as specific as possible for this topic. Because the various political issues are many but certain shows somehow managed to greatly capture those issues. – BMartin43 3 years ago
          • I would also add that you should analyze how political satire in animation differs from political satire in live-action genres – Michael Scalera 3 years ago
          • Good points raised regarding whoever may pick this topic to write about. I was undertake impression that topics proposed are to be written by others (not the writers proposing them). So I hope someone picks this topic, I'd enjoy reading the essay. – Joseph Cernik 3 years ago

          "American Pickers" and Reality TV: The Real from the Staged

          “American Pickers” on the History Channel is fun and enjoyable to watch. The problem, however, is how real is it actually. Reality TV shows need to keep the audience entertained and want them to come back for more, this show is no different. By focusing on this specific show an essay can address staged from real and the impact the show might have on people who begin to believe the stuff they have in a garage, a storage bin, a loft (probably junk they long forgot about) is worth anything of real value. In the case of this show watching people call their stuff “collecting” when it looks more like hoarding can contribute to a good essay.

          • Make sure to look at the other articles on Reality TV already published to address some of the discussion on RTV, but then yes a focus in on the concept of "collecting" and its socio-cultural implications could be really interesting. – SaraiMW 3 years ago

          Binge-Watching and TV Criticism

          “Happy Valley” (Season 3), “Stranger Things” (season 3), “Lost in Space” (Season 2), “Queen of the South” (Season 3), or “Into the Badlands” (Season 3). There are other series out there. Sure, some come from the BBC or AMC, but the convenience of quickly seeing as many episodes as one can enjoy in a short period of time, is so different than watching “Davy Crockett” on “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color,” spread out over three Sunday evenings, eventually getting to Davy dying at the Alamo.
          The anticipation, the expectation are probably different when waiting for an entire season of a particular show to be available on Netflix than was the case with waiting for the next episode of “Spin and Marty” a series that included some 78 episodes in all (also on Disney). Do we develop a more critical way of evaluating a series now because of the way we wait for its return and watch a number of episodes all in one sitting than was the case when we had no control over how many episodes we could watch at one sitting? Since episodes can be watched back to back (to back, and so on) we can evaluate plot lines and character development in ways that was not the case when we had no choice but to wait for the next installment. Perhaps we become TV critics in ways that was not the case previously or even possible.
          Our capability to critique a series now has to impact how series lines are developed by, say, the writers of these shows. Is there more of an interaction between the audience and the writers, producers, actors on these shows than was the case in the past?

          • The thing is that promotion of these series' was good thats why people remember about these. There are other great series like la casa de papel which got ruined in second season. And no one remembers about it now. – SonofQuantamPhysics 3 years ago

          Hopalong Cassidy and Sky King save the Day: A Time when Saturday Morning TV Mattered

          This topic requires a look back at the early days of TV, which might not seem to matter but still has an influence. TV, at one time, was an experiment and it might end up being a surprise that certain shows became popular and had a following. Looking at the early days of children’s shows and how they contrast with the present provides an insight into how far TV has come–not necessarily always for the better, just a reflection on how far we have come. Contrasts or evolution or maybe it is just development are a way to measure change: What is different about the present and whether it is better or just different from the past is useful. An historical perspective is a good way to look at the present. In this situation, looking at children’s TV shows can provide that perspective. Change should not always be seen as an improvement, sometimes it is just change–we do things different than they were done in the past just not necessarily better, just different.

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            Latest Comments

            Joseph Cernik

            This was a good movie and your essay did a good job discussing it. My father fought in the Pacific Theater of Operations during the Second World War, so while watching this movie I was wondering what he went through at the time.

            The Thin Red Line: The Impact of the Senses on Setting and Landscape
            Joseph Cernik

            A good essay. The very few times I watched any of these shows, usually with one or more of my daughters, we laughed at what was so far removed from the way they looked at the course of their lives, and that made the shows seem so constructed for some particular audience out there. I know my daughters wondered who were the regular viewers of these shows and if they eagerly anticipated the next installment. They wondered if the audience (mostly women?) believed or fantasized about what they were watching. Anything on TV aims for some segment of the market and when these shows were on the drawing table, all those involved in bringing them to TV must have had certain ideas, or impressions, of who the audience would be

            Sterotyped: Women in Reality TV
            Joseph Cernik

            A good article. It will be interesting to see the development of prevention through court cases where this leads. It would seem the platforms would and should be sued and, if forced, to pay significantly for damages, then some changes might take place. Yet, victory, defined as no-one-should-ever-have-this-happen-to-them-again might be too much to expect.

            Issues of Consent, Representation, and Exploitation in Deepfake Pornography
            Joseph Cernik

            When school restarts in late August/ September, I’ll know if your article was discussed in class.

            The Lewis Carroll Problem
            Joseph Cernik

            Reading this article, as well as several others, about Japanese anime, I find it interesting how intricate and detailed they are regarding story development. Obviously, in Japan there must be a big following and I realize there is some level of following in the United States–my daughters use to have a number of these books when they were younger. You might want to consider an article that addresses more than just a particular story but a broader way of looking at how this category of novels/animation (not always sure what to categorize it as) is received: 1) contrasting its acceptance in the United States versus Japan; 2) any evolution over the years or are current ones similar to the ones twenty years ago (when my daughters read these), and; 3) its persistence or “staying power.” An outgrowth of #2 is: Are there adults who read them when they were young who are a big part of this market or is his something young readers grow out of? A good essay, by the way.

            Your Name: Finding Love Across Possible Worlds?
            Joseph Cernik

            A book which I read more than once and you present a good perspective on it. Enjoyable to read.

            Of Mice and Men: How does Steinbeck Portray Oppression?
            Joseph Cernik

            A good essay. The times we played it with family or friends always began with the same assumption: We would never reach the end of the game. Somewhere when at least two of us decided that we had enough, we would count money and whoever had the most won. To this day, I’ve never completed a game. Related to your essay, considering that Monopoly has “morphed” into universities, cities, Star Wars, and everything else creating their own Monopoly version (the university I was at had its version), I wonder it that has changed how people react to the game.

            How to Keep Friends after Playing Monopoly (Satire)
            Joseph Cernik

            Interesting and perceptive how you relate Darwin and his thinking to a regression in humans seen through literature. Quite good. I had not thought of a connection such as you made.

            Gothic Fiction and the 'Regressive Evolution' Anxiety