SaraiMW

SaraiMW

Sarai is a free-lance literature enthusiast who current works as a sessional academic. An avid horror and fantasy reader she is an advocate for its cultural importance.

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Latest Articles

Latest Topics

7

The (alien) cultural interference debate, and 'The Orville's' gender bending.

In a relatively recent episode of the new Sci-fi comedy show ‘The Orville,’ titled ‘About a Girl’ an interesting discussion is raised about the issue of gender identity, sexual categorisation, social acceptance and cultural interference. In the episode the same-sex couple (aliens known as the Moclan, of which all are male) give birth to a female, an unusual but not unheard of situation. The Moclan believe that growing up as a female in an almost exclusively male society is the equivalent to experiencing a form of social disability or social isolation. Yes, already an incredibly confronting concept. However, the two fathers differ on what is to be done, with one wishing to have their girls sex organs altered to allow her to live a "normal" life as a male Moclan.

The mostly human-based crew of the space ship become involved in this debate, strongly arguing for the right to her original gender to be honoured. Arguments concerning genital mutilation, female rights, and nature versus nurture all arise. This episode comes to ahead when a trial is held to decide and a very rare female Moclan is found. She has been living up in a cave in the mountains, but is also the races’ most celebrated writer and philosopher. She argues for the right of the child to be allowed to remain a girl. However, the council ultimately rules in the favour of having her sex changed. A decision The Orville crew must accept as being a culturally acceptable choice.

Now, this discussion is not a new one, as often Sci-fi, and especially Space Operas, will use the alien race division to debate topics relevant to cultural and racial difference. However, an unusual choice by the writers is that unlike usual network shows, the alien race does not "come to its senses" and perceive the world from the human (privileged and thus better) viewpoint. Well, while I can respect this as a creative choice, and perhaps and interesting sociological choice, I can not help but be left with a bad taste in my mouth. Is this because I am so Westernised in my view I cannot accept that other culture’s have the right to their view? Is it as a feminist that this is too close to genital mutilation for me to stomach? Or have I become so used to the stereotypical television norm of "making it all better" that I find it difficult to reconcile my expectations of entertainment with real life?

    4

    Co-operative gaming has changed the face of table top games

    With the increased market share of Euro Style table top games (TTG), which typically emphasize collaborative and strategy based game play, a mainstreaming of TTG has occurred. The success of launching independent or related games through crowd founding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo indeed appear to support that a tangible popularity in TTG can be mapped financially and through social media. This can also be seen in the rise in popularity of streaming shows such as ‘Table Top’ hosted by Wil Wheton, which rather than more niche gaming such as RPGs has placed an emphasis on "family" appropriate and collaborative game play. Even low level concept games such as ‘Cards Against Humanity’ have become known as "gateway games" that encourage non-gamers into becoming avid TTGs. However, is the rise due to this increased popularity of collaborative gaming or simply due to the social media format of sharing in common activities? Have co-operative games really changed the face of TTG or is this just a fad?

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      The revival of Dungeons and Dragons due to Geek & Sundry's 'Critical Role' series.

      Dungeons and Dragons has been a long established franchise that has experienced noticeable rise and falls of popularity structured around changing cultural interests. With the mainstream appeal of fantasy films and "soft fantasy" programming on television there has been a slow interest arising around the old RPG paper and pen games. However, it was not until the occurrence of the show ‘Critical Role’ by Geek & Sundry, as streamed by Twitch, that a noticeable and traceable resurgence has occurred. The popularity of a show about watching voice actors play DnD live has lead to a release of new manuals, gaming equipment and surge of fan material. Is this the start of the mainstreaming of DnD?

      • This would make a great article. It might also be good to talk about Felicia Day and her contributions to geek culture; both before and after the creation of geek and sundry. Also the show Community lured a few people into the game. – AGMacdonald 2 months ago
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      Taken by AGMacdonald (PM) 2 months ago.

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      Latest Comments

      SaraiMW

      @Stephanie M. Yes that is actually a really interesting discussion. I think it is also then worth examining if male villains that do operate from a gender-based focus are perceived as lesser – for instance do they ever make the list of top villains, or do we inherently dismiss them because they do not fit within our socio-cultural expectations. I look forward to the follow-up article.

      Modern Villainesses: The Complex Personalities and Motives
      SaraiMW

      A really interesting and well developed discussion. This is obviously a broad and complex topic that has many different takes, but I think you do it justice by exploring the comparison of new and old forms. Although I am never fond of too much attention being paid to the terribly underwritten derivative ‘Twilight’ series, it is difficult to deny that it has not had a significant impact forevermore on literature and the face of the vampire.

      Vampires in Literature: Opera Cloaks, Sparkles, and Prevailing Themes
      SaraiMW

      An interesting discussion. It is always important to remember the context of these tales and the framework in which they were created/recorded. The fairy tales of this period, both Anderson and Grimms, are as strongly moral fables as the Ancient Greek Mythologies or Aesop’s Fables. I think at times we forget that these tales actually had a strong purpose socially in the teaching of moral lessons and did not exist only as entertainment.

      In Defense of the Conclusion to "The Little Mermaid"
      SaraiMW

      A very interesting discussion. It is very hard to find female villains that are not operating from a gender based agenda. Perhaps some of the only I could think of are still complicated by their interactions with men, either due to “daddy issues” or are as you indicate, quite flat in their dimensions. The only recent one that I can really think of would be Hella from the new Thor movie, although again this is a little of the “daddy issue” category, but she at least is not interested in pursuing the deaths of her brothers, only in restricting them from stopping her take her perceived “rightful place”.

      Modern Villainesses: The Complex Personalities and Motives
      SaraiMW

      A fascinating read. I was especially interested in your discussion of the portrayal and subversion of the family. Great work.

      It Comes at Night: The Politics of a Contagion Narrative
      SaraiMW

      This is a fantastic analysis of a complex topic. Well done!

      Doctor Who? Why the Question is More Important than the Answer
      SaraiMW

      I’m not entirely sure I agree with your break down of the Freudian and Jungian influences here. Both of these are actually quite complex theoretical frameworks that are focused on the nuances of psychological personality portrayal. Part of what you have not discussed is that the aspects of Freud and Jung are meant to be applied to every character, not simply having one character representing one aspect exclusively. Although this can be done for more simplistic or allegorical texts, such as vignettes, this is not really a true representation of the complexity of Whedon’s character work. Although on the surface you are correct in each characterisation, it would have been more helpful to look at how each character demonstrates each aspect at different narrative points within the show, ie. when particular situations or interactions/encounters draws forth that aspect. I think this was a good introduction to the theories, but could have been further applied to do Whedon better justice in that his characters are always multilayered and faceted creations that are able to react and interact in realistic ways within the universe they are placed.

      Firefly: A Freudian and Jungian Analysis
      SaraiMW

      This is an interesting look at a complex topic. It is often interesting to look at the presentation of romantic entanglement portrayed in television to reflect on whether it is a realistic reflection of relationships. I find that the portrayal of the ‘The Big Bang Theory’ to be one of the more interesting examinations of relationships in the latest series, with the fighting of Penny and Leonard, the issues of power and dominance in Howard and Bernie, and then of course the unusually, but adapting and insightful relationship of Sheldon and Amy. There is also present the “bromance” of Howard and Raj. I think modern TV is making an effort to portray more realistic and complex relationships compared to the trite versions that preformed only as a narrative plot point that met the “will they, won’t they” tropes.

      Relationship Entertainment: Navigating the Struggle between Romance and Friendship on TV