SarahPhilip

SarahPhilip

I'm a freelance writer and copywriter.

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Latest Articles

Latest Topics

9

Why are gangsters romanticised on screen?

In films and TV shows, ranging from ‘The Godfather’ to ‘Peakey Blinders’, gangsters are almost always depicted sympathetically. They’re the heroes, the people we root for. It doesn’t matter how many people they kill, we see them as being justified. But why do we look at them so favourably? It’s not as simple as them being the focal point. What almost every gangster film or TV show does is show the excitement and glamour of their lives, often against a bleak backdrop. ‘Broadwalk Empire’, for instance, is set in the era of prohibition. It’s not just that their lives are exciting though. There’s this sense that they can do anything, that they have so much power. As much as we might disagree with the violence, the sense that they can do something if someone comes against them is an intoxicating thought. ‘The Godfather’ perfectly captured the idea of Michael getting payback when someone tried to kill his father. In fact, the whole idea of gangsters as family, whether or not they’re related by blood, makes their actions more sympathetic. There’s a sense of loyalty between all of them that is heightened because they are always in life or death situations. This in turn makes betrayal, even worse.

Discuss how and why films and TV shows glamorise gangsters.

  • Great topic! I wonder, too, how this may relate to our love of the anti-hero, like Deadpool or Venom recently? – Heather Lambert 2 years ago
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  • Just to correct, "As much as we might degree with the violence." Disagree for degree. A good idea, maybe this needs to be addressed in terms of some movies creating images of gangsters with family ties and presented sympathetically and others not. Also, where is the dividing line of how to present gangsters. I'm not sure sympathetic would be the way I would characterize gangsters in the Godfather movies. – Joseph Cernik 2 years ago
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  • Maybe because of the hope that even the scariest and the most violent gangsters could change their lives to a better one, isn't it romantic? that someone on an evil mind turned into a good person because someone give them a chance that all of us deserves? – pinoyonlinetv 2 years ago
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  • Gangster films are their own genres and can be endlessly debated and critiqued! Great topic! – Sean Gadus 2 years ago
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  • Interesting idea. You could even branch off and explore gangster love interests, e.g. Harley Quinn and The Joker. While they might not be the healthiest relationships, they have a huge sense of allure and are often romanticised to the max! – Gemma Ferguson 1 year ago
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9

Romance novels - too easily dismissed?

Romance novel are often looked down on and seen as somehow inferior. Chick lit is a name that has negative connotations. It suggests something trashy or throwaway. Even Jane Austen, whose books are considered classics, is criticised for not concentrating on weightier issues. But why are romance novels so easily dismissed? Is it because it’s mainly a genre written by women? Is it literary snobbery for something that is so popular? Romance, after all, is an important part of everyone’s life. Most people either get married or live together. Obviously not all romance novels can be of the same calibre but many are well written and engaging. So there does seem to be an unfair tendency to criticise romance novels.

Look at this idea in terms of classic authors like Jane Austen and modern day authors like Diana Gabaldon or Nicholas Sparks.

  • You've brought up some really good points, Sarah. It could be a tough sell for anyone who takes on this topic, but worth pursuing all the same. – Amyus 2 years ago
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  • An interesting aspect of this is that unlike other genres, Romance as a genre has never experienced a wane. It's form may have changed slightly to match the socio-cultural values of a particular time-period, but unlike Fantasy, Horror or the Detective novel it has remained a viable and popular genre. It is also worth looking at that there is, like in any literary discussion, a hierarchy of texts. Austen is recognised as a classic, Shakespeare's greatest play is a tragic romance, but counter to that is Mills & Boons and 50 Shades of Grey. Romance is a very large category that has some strong allegorical values in reflecting societal norms, if nothing else this provides the genre with value. – SaraiMW 2 years ago
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  • (I know none of the claims I am about to make are based in fact, but this how I feel about romance novels or the genre as a whole.)For me personally, I think a lot of the criticism of romance novels is due to how they depict romance. Novels like the twilight saga and books by Nicolas sparks often times create a romance that I personally cannot buy into. A lot of stories that's main focus is love often fall flat for me because I cannot suspend my disbelief for the scenario that the author is creating. I know they are works of fiction and the author is trying to create an interesting scenario that will lead to conflicts in the relationship, but the conflict often times feels too contrived. Using SaraiMW's example of Shakespeare the tragic romances in Shakespeare's great plays is just overly complicated with characters miss hearing conversations, walking in on compromising situations, or simply lying (this largely due to these situations being done for comedic effect or being a metaphor some other idea and despite the romance being the main motivation for the protagonist, they often hint at a deeper message or social problem.) But stories like Madame Bovary and Re: Zero Starting a Life in Another World resonate with me as a love story, because the romance is pretty straightforward. Emma Bovary has a warped perception of love (due to reading romance novels ironically) and this leads to her being disappointed in her marriage. Which ultimately leads the tragedy of the book. While RE: Zero sets itself up like a typical anime romance and uses that show the flawed perception of love that they. Which in turn makes it one of the best anime/ novel romances of all time in my opinion, because the Subaru actually has to struggle to prove and earn the love of Emelia. This leads to all the events matching the character's motivation. Making the romance feel all the more believable. I honestly think you should write on this topic, because like SaraiMW said, I do not think people hate romances. Romances find their way into almost every genre of writing. I think they are pointing out flawed idea's love that seems to exist in these stories that have a deep focus on romance. – Blackcat130 2 years ago
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  • Do you think "romance" as a genre is more an add-on to any other genre rather than a genre in and of itself? You can tell sci-fi romances. Historical romances. Fantasy romances. Is a romance novel any novel that focuses on the search for love of the main character?I think romance novels are easily dismissed when they are particularly salacious. The stereotypical romance novel treats relationships shallowly. But that doesn't have to be the case. Romance novels can give keen insight into the search for connection. – Kidcanuck 2 years ago
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  • I'm interested to see what the writer comes up with, as I have written a romance novel and had it published. It was a Christian romance novel at that, which - you wanna talk about dismissal? I could tell you stories. Most people hear that and think, "Oh, so you're just writing romance without the sex? Boring." Which--ugh. But Christian or secular, romance novels do not deserve the bad rap they get. – Stephanie M. 2 years ago
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  • I think romance novels often receive criticism for being "fairy-tale" like and for portraying relationships that often have the happy ending in a way that many of us will not experience. In real life, from my experience in my own relationships and marriages (there have been two of those...), romance ebbs and flows and partnership and collaboration seems to be a longer-lasting bond. In novels like _Pride and Prejudice_ or _Sense and Sensibility_ and today contemporaries like _The Notebook_, the viewer's attention must be kept, thus the author creates a passionate, sexual tension between the characters that doesn't go away for the few hours it takes us to read the books. We are bombarded with a thrilling (and give-me-some-of-that) unrealistic representation of the life of true partnership in many cases, and therefore, such novels are criticized. However, I think we need to look at who is criticizing the novels, as well. Is it mostly men or women? I think it would be interesting to research that and uncover what gender stereotypes might come into play. Regardless of whether we like it or not, I still believe society dictates our behaviors as male and female, and some men might criticize such literature because it is not masculine enough and some women might criticize it because it presents females in a weaker light, always searching for "true love," or something of the like. This is a really cool question that begs other questions about our society. – kategasp 2 years ago
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  • Interesting topic! Even on television, romance stories are often dismissed. I remember Saturday Night Live made a parody of all the Hallmark Christmas movies -- usually, a young woman visits a small New England town from the big city to find the love of her life (with, of course, a snowy backdrop). Despite the criticism and parodies, these Hallmark Christmas movies dominate cable ratings. So, it begs the questions: who is criticizing these movies and why is it so easy for us to poke fun at them? Does gender play a role, are the storylines just too outlandish, or is it something else? – AaronJRobert 2 years ago
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4

Is 'the evil twin' merely a lazy stereotype?

The evil twin is, at first glance, a predictable trope where pure villainy is set against the heroism of the central protagonist. Evil is subsequently only something that is external to our hero. But is this all there is? Does having an evil twin make the hero confront another side to himself? What does it mean for the viewer to see someone who looks exactly like the hero we know behave in a completely different manner? Does it make us reevaluate his behaviour, think about what circumstances could make him turn to the dark side? Or is this all negated by the disappearance or death of the evil twin and a swift return to the status quo?

  • This is a very valid exercise in self-judgment or sizing up of strangers. In a personal sense, evaluating the inherent goodness or bothersome evilness can be cathartic in times of peril or doubt. In dealing with others, it can be a make or break relationship that start productive or end disastrously. Seeing this dynamic in action through the twin phenomena can be insightful for the viewer, and probably transformative for the director as well. I think there is a good reason this narrative exists, it really serves a useful purpose in finding the root cause of positive or negative personalities or situations. Movies and television are littered with the story line, contact me to discuss. – lofreire 3 years ago
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  • Interesting topic and questions. I tend to think the evil twin trope is tired and clichéd--if it's played completely straight. However, I like it when heroes are forced to confront "shadow" versions of themselves. For example, I once wrote a character whose nemesis embodied what her worst traits would have been, had she not possessed the morality and inner strength to control her own weaknesses. I think confronting that is a lot more powerful than confronting an evil twin, because it's actually scarier. If a hero has an evil twin, then yes he or she can just say, "Oh, that's the evil me. I don't want it, I have to kill it, I killed it, so let's go back to how things were." But if a hero is confronted with another, unrelated person, the stakes are different. Example: an intellectually gifted but loner hero confronted with an equally intelligent person who uses his or her brain to hurt and alienate others. In that situation, the hero has to confront, "That *could* be me. I can relate to and sympathize with that, so how do I approach and cope with this person?" – Stephanie M. 3 years ago
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  • The basic emergence of this cliched trend harkens back to the very existence of matter and antimatter in this universe. Interesting topic. – Vishnu Unnithan 3 years ago
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  • It can certainly be used as a lazy trope, undoubtedly; however, it also harks back to the doppelganger concept, which would be an interesting addition to exploring this theme. – JudyPeters 3 years ago
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Latest Comments

SarahPhilip

It’s true. Even though Montag suffered and was run out of town, he was fulfilled in a way his wife wasn’t. There was some part of her that knew that otherwise she wouldn’t have kept overdosing on drugs. In ‘1984’ Winston does become an automaton in the end, but his greatest happiness comes when he defies the state.

Dystopia: Hope in the Face of a Seemingly Impenetrable System
SarahPhilip

I know – I also only discovered it recently. It’s such a shame that so many non-english books so often don’t get the attention they deserve.

Dystopia: Hope in the Face of a Seemingly Impenetrable System
SarahPhilip

It’s so true. People talk abut books being escapist but most books, even if they’re exploring a fantasy world, force us to confront issues that face us in the real world. Dystopian novels are just more blatant about it.

Dystopia: Hope in the Face of a Seemingly Impenetrable System
SarahPhilip

I love her too. She is a truly formidable character that is stronger than a lot of female literary characters today. The Bolshevik idea was that men and women were supposed to be equal, even if this didn’t work out in reality. So I-330 is, at least in part, based on those ideas.

Dystopia: Hope in the Face of a Seemingly Impenetrable System
SarahPhilip

I enjoyed your discussion of how there can be different possible scenarios through time travel. There’s a show called ‘Timeless’ that explores the problems you could cause by changing the past. The heroes try and stop a man who wants to change the past but ultimately just be being there, they always change something.

Time Travel: The Literary Way To Wander
SarahPhilip

Great article. There are too many sexualised female characters. I always loved the X-Men comics because there were so many women in the team. Some of them did wear tightly fitted outfits but, in general, they were a lot more covered up than most female superheroes. There was a real sense that the male and female mutants were equal. All the female characters had such power and one of the most famous stories was focused on Jean Grey and her transformation into the Phoenix. They even touched on female sexuality. Rogue was a character who, as much as she flirted and wore spandex, had to be completely covered up and couldn’t touch anyone.

Sexism, Impracticality, and the Hopeful Future of Costuming
SarahPhilip

You’re right. As much as we might criticise editors for not showing us exactly what’s happening, they are great at their job. There are so many reality tv shows that get millions of viewers, especially compared to more traditional dramas.

The Enhanced Reality of Reality TV
SarahPhilip

That’s so true. On social media you are your own producer and editor. You show a particular image of yourself. In fact, social media is connected to reality tv in many ways. The rise of reality tv parallels the rise of social media particularly with so many people discussing these shows on various platforms. What’s more, many reality tv stars extensively promote themselves on social media.

The Enhanced Reality of Reality TV