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    Latest Topics


    Does Binge Watching change how we view television?

    Starting with the new Netflix show Sense8, which the creators have discussed as a ‘twelve hour movie,’ discuss how Netflix’s schedule of releasing all new episodes at once has changed the way we view pacing/narrative challenges in TV shows.

    • I'd also like to point out that they've done studies that show that breaks commercial or otherwise help us to digest what we are watching. Binge watching actually makes it so that we remember less of what we see. So perhaps we end up having to watch our favorites over and over again just for it to stick? – Tatijana 9 years ago
    • Yes, and producers who air their shows on platforms like Netflix or Hulu (or Amazon) need to take that into account. Cliffhangers, for example, definitely don't have the same effect. – jmato 9 years ago
    • Netflix has locked on to the needs of consumer culture. "We want more and we want it now." I'm sure there are statistics out there that show how longer shows that air on tv only once a week lose viewers consistently because either people can't be bothered to wait or they finally miss one episode and go "well, whatever, I'm out of date now and I don't really care to take the effort to catch up." Bingeing is part of the instant gratification our society has become accustomed to. – Slaidey 9 years ago
    • I think we also miss out on the interactional aspect that week-to-week shows tend to have too. In an interview, Constance Zimmer (who has appeared on the Netflix show House of Cards) said that, while the ability to binge definitely has its advantages for fans, a disadvantage is that we miss the "water cooler conversations" that happen when shows are released over time. It's harder to converse with others about what we are viewing because we're afraid of spoiling something for them. There's so much pressure to watch it all as quickly as possible, there's no time to soak it all in or discuss what we're watching. Back before the binge culture, people would often chat about their reactions on what they had both watched the night before, talk about their predications on what would happen next, etc. – elphabaanne 9 years ago
    • I have to second what elphabaanne stated. I live tweet shows like "Arrow", "Agents of Shield", and " The Walking Dead". However, when Jessica Jones was released Friday I couldn't live tweet the show; everyone was on different episodes, most having finished the entirety of JJ already. While I like the immediacy of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu to a lesser extent I feel they create distance between audience members. Being able to discuss what I love about a show is important to me, it is through discussion I am able to realize new aspects about something which has caught my attention. I hope this has provided some assistance to you. Note: I would focus on Jessica Jones, Orange is the New Black,- Sense8 has been out for a while now. – SincerelySeb 9 years ago
    • With most spoilers and discussions for shows happening on places like Tumblr and Reddit, being able to binge watch a series that everyone else has already watched does have the positive effect of facilitating people to catch up on social conversations. However, I would agree that the loss of the suspense factor and the time for the brain to imagine alternate conclusions robs the fans of an aspect of the storytelling experience. – EulalieS 9 years ago
    • No delayed gratification, that's for sure. – Jaye Freeland 8 years ago
    • Definitely support the writing of such a topic. Perhaps discuss whether the path of Netflix's acceptance into modern consumption activity will ever mean that this release of televisual content will ever become the norm. – Matthew Sims 8 years ago
    • There might also be the question about how the way we are encouraged to binge-watch shows, the way we do binge-watch shows, changes the way shows are written, directed and produced. And, maybe, as this note comes about 4 years late, the evolution of those tendencies (in general and/or more particularly since this topic was submitted, 4 years ago). [I hope my (verylate) comment is still relevant and understandable, as I am neither a native English speaker nor fluent in English – yet!] – Gavroche 4 years ago

    James Cameron's Avatar is not a critique on violence

    On the surface it appears that Avatar (the one with the blue people, not the Last Airbender) is a critique on imperialist violence, one long overdue in our culture. But the movie falls short not just once but several times, changing from a thoughtful social commentary to just another feel-good, white-savior blockbuster. I’m not here to critique the writing, though god knows it needs it.

    I’m here to talk about how Jake, the wounded soldier, still endorses violence as the only option to take down the Colonel. "I was hoping you’d say that?" And then the film’s narrative dances around having Jake kill the Bad Guy, because oh my god can’t have your hero kill someone on screen. Though apparently Jake’s killed lots of people before.

    On the surface, the final battle is won (with Eywa’s help) to preserve the balance of the land. This is undermined by the blatant glorying in death the film takes – the battle is framed as heart-stopping, glorious, something to revel in when you are winning and to dread when you are not.

    In the end, the day is won with more violence, endorsed by a deity. There is no even stopping to think on the harm done after the battle – the casualties are swept under the film’s rug, because they died for a good cause right? Oh, and some of the ‘good’ humans get to stay. Even though there’ll be no funding for their equipment to be maintained and it’s likely they’ll NEVER get back to Earth. Oh well, they can live on a planet with floating rocks and air that’s poisonous to them, right?

    • I have NO idea what the hype for Avatar was. (Not Airbender as he's awesome.) My personal opinion is that not much what put into the plot and script. I think the director/producer whatever you call those people had this new "medium" they wanted to work with. They had an idea of what they wanted the movie to look like and they wanted it to showcase their new shiny tech tools, but they didn't actually have a story or plot. So they just sorta slapped things onto some paper and filled in the blanks later. I also feel like it went something like this: "Hey, guys do you remember that movie Ferngully? No? Good hopefully no one else will either, because I intend on using the exact same plot." In fact, maybe after this I'll write an article on how Avatar is basically Ferngully 3. I say 3, because I think there actually was a Ferngully 2... – Tatijana 9 years ago
    • I mean, I think it could still be a critique on imperialist violence/conquest, without actually saying that violence is bad in all situations... Clearly the materialistic, war for the sake of money kind of violence is disgusting, but perhaps war to defend your people and your homeland isn't? Avatar wasn't the most nuanced movie ever, but I think it still has a more nuanced approach to violence than you give it credit for. – thekellyfornian 9 years ago
    • Despite what it looks like, Tatijana, Director James Cameron had early drafts of this script floating around for decades. So he probably wrote the original idea around when things like "Ferngully," "Pocahontas," and "Dances With Wolves" were released back in the mid-90s. But he had to wait for technology to catch up to his immense vision for how the film would look. So while the film is still clearly derivative of all three of those films, and others, it was not something slapped together. It took decades before the motion capture and CGI technology was good enough for what James wanted. It took years to perfect the set-up for everything so that the 3D would function properly. It took years to render every single thing in the film because of how dense and rich the visuals were, especially the plants. And despite how rough and awkward it is, it took decades before the script was where James Cameron wanted it. So it actually took more effort to make than it appears. And I think the reason why we still haven't seen anything on Avatar 2 yet is because Cameron wants to impress everyone again with another big leap in visuals and technology. And I don't blame him. – Jonathan Leiter 9 years ago
    • @thekellyfornian, I think it was definitely /meant/ as a critique on imperialism, it just doesn't follow through on the deepest narrative levels. My counter example is Mad Max: Fury Road, which is certainly a very violent movie, but the framing of the narrative treats that violence differently. Avatar treats violence as something good, something to be excited about and glory in. Fury Road treats it as harmful, even/especially to the heroes of the story inflicting it. – Winterling 9 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    Ah well, maybe soon I’ll get one of my (many) drafts ready. 😛 Valar dohaeris.

    Game of Thrones: Don't Judge a Boob by its Cover

    Your comment on Hodor is really important! However, while not sexual in and of itself, it plays on the same theme – it is a sexual joke, just made visual. Like making a poop joke on screen, it is meant to be vulgar to the viewer, though obviously Hodor has no concept of vulgarity.

    And as for Qarth, I agree that on the show there were multiple, solid reasons for changing the costume. Not limited to the fact that they were filming in Morocco, and it would have been difficult to find enough extras and also obey local obscenity laws. In the end, we can’t always separate the fictional norms from the real-world problems. (Though I think when one is filming a television series, attempting to do so enriches the feeling of actually being in another world!)

    Game of Thrones had the possibility to be a gritty, explicit fantasy show that reached further than most ‘genre’ television, beyond boobs and blood, as it were. Sadly, boobs and blood are what sells, and in the end the people running the show are out to make money. Which they are doing but the bucket-load.

    I still think conversations like this one are vital to have! After all, what we watch influences who we are and how we act in the real world. I’m not saying watching Game of Thrones is going to make someone a more violent person, but when our media condones and actually approves of violence, physical and sexual, then people internalize the idea that this is how one responds.

    A little off topic, but let me just say that you can film a very violent movie without condoning violence! Mad Max Fury Road was noted for it’s high death toll and crazy stunts, but everything from the soundtrack to the reactions of the characters made a point of saying that this violence was BAD.

    The GoT books make no judgement towards the violence they represent – they are simply reporting what happens. The show, however, glories in the violence and horror it creates. THAT is where we need to draw the line.

    I’ve had a great time talking to you! I wish more people on the internet could reasonably discuss their differences and find points of agreement!

    Game of Thrones: Don't Judge a Boob by its Cover

    On Brienne, I completely agree! Especially in this scene, her dislike of her own body is used as a weapon against Jaime – she believes no one can see her as beautiful, so she sees it as something she /inflicts/ on him as much as a display of her own vulnerability.) 🙁

    Agree on Melisandre as well! I think Selse’s fanatical belief is super interesting, considering their relative positions in the court. In a world where SO MUCH of what these people do is a mask, a political convienience, it’s almost disturbing to see the Queen so openly fervent. (I think it’s possible, though I’d have to rewatch the episode to be sure, that Selyse is MORE comfortable once the Red Woman has removed her desirability from the equation. That once she reveals her ‘true form’ Selyse is allowed to distance the object of her devotion from the mistress of her husband.)

    On Cersei, yes schadenfruede is useful, but I think it goes beyond that. This is more for the scene before her walk, when her hair is cut. There are long, lingering shots of her breasts and…there is no polite word for this…her privates, her butt; barely focusing on her face (this was also because a body double was used, I believe) or her emotion – this is a scene not meant to show Cersei’s strength, but to display her female weakness.

    And I 100% agree with the idea that they could have displayed an actual female body rather than a Hollywood model!! It would have fit in so well with Game of Thrones ~realism~ but again we see the hypocrisy. The ‘realism’ extends only as far as rape and brutal, violent deaths. It is not meant to be real, but to be titillating, as we see here.

    Game of Thrones: Don't Judge a Boob by its Cover

    Aaand, if you want me to go on, go on I will! About your discussion of Jamie and Brienne – I think the problem is much the same as Dany’s (and indeed you talk about her extensive nudity in s1 as a factor in this): the idea that a naked character is always sexual. Because Game of Thrones frames it this way, I can hardly blame viewers for internalizing this idea.

    Now this is an explicitly showrunner problem – I actually completely agree with your analysis of the meaning of the nudity (and lack thereof) in this scene! It was powerful, and meaningful. However. If you as a showrunner are so completely divorced from your female characters that showing them naked is ALWAYS a vulnerability, ALWAYS a sexual act, then what does that say about your female characters? Mostly it says that you can’t write them.

    Look at it another way – if we had been filming the female body as neutral, as just a body, then it wouldn’t have /mattered/ whether or not the viewers saw Brienne. In fact, we could have focused the shot on her face instead of Jaime’s.

    As for Melisandre’s role and her power over Selyse, I definitely agree that Stannis values Meslisandre more. He actually low-key despises his wife for being unable to produce a healthy male heir. Melisandre brings him power (and pleasure, lets not deny).

    BUT again we come to the cultural aspect. Selyse is uncomfortable because she is Westerosi (and a prude). Melisandre is comfortable because she is from the Free Cities, where it is shown that sex is a natural part of the Red God’s worship. Melisandre doesn’t care about nudity or even sex because that is part of how she was raised – the Westerosi would say she was raised in a whore-house, but she was raised in a temple and it is VERY different.

    Here’s how I see the scene: there are three people in it. Melisandre, Selyse, and the viewer. Selyse and the viewer see the Red Woman’s nakedness as sexual (the viewer is aroused by this, the Queen disturbed). But the Red Woman herself? Is just bathing.

    Okay last scene! Cersei and her walk of shame. Okay okay okay. Talking about cultural disconnect, and then we have a purely Westerosi and a purely Andal ritual. The Seven and their fanatical followers (whom Cersei has unwisely encouraged, thinking they would aid her) are a HUGE part of how Westerosi view social norms. When they cut her hair and make her strip, they are forcing humiliation on her.

    I actually rewatched the scene and realized that this ties back to what I said earlier: the viewer is meant to be aroused by this. This is a humiliation of a powerful female character, and it is filmed so that the viewer can say ‘oh yes, that bitch, getting her comeuppance.’

    Now I completely agree that her children are her motivation! She would do absolutely anything for them. As power hungry as she is, it is all in their name. And absolutely her strength in that walk was remarkable; that she made it all the way to the Red Keep without falling is testament to her strength. Sadly, I do not believe that the show writers were lauding that strength as much as they were displaying her nakedness.

    Game of Thrones: Don't Judge a Boob by its Cover

    I’m really glad you’re not upset! It’s always touch and go, on the internet, how someone will react to a differing opinion. But I love talking about (and debating) the things I enjoy reading/watching.

    Without further ado: on Qarth and outfits! Again I’m going to focus on the difference between the books and the show. 😛 Obviously in the books women wearing dresses with one breast bare would be normal, not obscene or prurient. That is something we as viewers bring with us. (Though I agree that they would find nakedness degrading just as we do.) The decision made in the show to change the design seems solid for several reasons; they talk about it on the wiki page:

    But I think the discussion of having one breast bare ‘degrading’ Dany’s storyline is misleading. If it was filmed and treated as normal, it would be one step closer to BECOMING normal. It’s only ‘distracting’ because of the expectations we come to the screen with. The first time we see the Mountain he’s out killing people shirtless, but you don’t see people complaining that this undermines the seriousness of his scenes?

    (this is on the wiki, not you) but I find the claim that having extended dialogue scenes with her breast bare would undermine her character is ESPECIALLY rich coming from the writers of the show SO full of scenes with naked women and extended conversations that people came up with a term for it!

    I guess the only conclusion to draw from that claim is that its only undermining when the women are the ones supposed to be powerful. Apparently they can’t do that wearing a dress with one breast bare. Though GRRM has said that Qarth does not correspond to any real historical group, here is an interesting pin for this conversation:
    Showing that high fashion in the 17th century sometimes involved necklines so low you could see a woman’s nipples. And yet somehow they went out in public and had conversations and presumably men heard what they were saying without being so ‘distracted’ that they literally couldn’t focus on the conversation.

    This is a funny turn around for me, because normally I’d definitely be arguing for less nudity, not more! But the thing about Game of Thrones (the show) is that it’s (almost) never about the characters themselves or what they are experiencing. It’s all about the viewer and how the viewer is getting off to the violence and the nakedness. When put that way, it makes sense to cut the outfits from Qarth: the women there aren’t naked for the viewers’ arousal/amusement. They were just living their lives, and in the case of Dany, arguing for ships.

    That argument ties back into what you were saying about Sansa: that it would change the way the viewers felt about her, not necessarily Sansa herself. By filming this way, the viewer does not empathize with the female characters and instead views them as an object. And if you at how the bedroom scene with Tyrion is filmed, you see that that’s exactly the case! We are watching Tyrion’s reaction to Sansa’s undressing, Tyrion’s feelings and conflict. The camera treats Sansa as a thing, and so does the viewer.

    I’m not a prude, arguing that there should be less sex and violence on TV. I’m saying that because of the choices the show writers have made, they display nudity /only/ in sexual contexts, and thus eliminate the fact that women exist outside of those contexts. In Qarth, that dress is not revealing. It is just a dress. The fact that they chose not to show it doesn’t mean they didn’t want more boob scenes with Emilia Clarke; it means that they are literally incapable of showing breasts as anything OTHER than sexual. And that’s a problem.

    Game of Thrones: Don't Judge a Boob by its Cover

    I think that superheroes occupy a unique place in out culture, and I agree that most people aren’t really willing to accept brand-new names, especially in the film industry where so much money goes into each movie. (I don’t necessarily agree that breathing new life into old heroes has no merit. It’s how most of those heroes came into existence to begin with.)

    I think your argument is a bit muddled here – in the beginning it seems like you are arguing for more than a JUST Marvel and DC options, which I completely agree with. Let’s see Hellboy brought back, or let’s see Witchblade hit the big screen.

    But then you wrap up your argument with x-men, which is a marvel franchise? Wolverine IS an avenger? X-men vs Avengers was a relatively recent thing in the comics? I find your argument very unclear: what exactly are you trying to say? First you argue that too many mainstream heroes are getting shows/movies, then that no one cares about the particular heroes that are getting movies (GotG, Iron Man) then you say that x-men did a good job…. because they used characters that fewer people had heard/cared about before they appeared in the movies???

    Also, I do realize we are talking about films here and not actual comics, but Marvel right now is pulling in a /lot/ of new stories, like the new Ms. Marvel and the Young Avengers.

    The thing about super heroes is that they exist within a particular mold that’s difficult to break out of. It’s more common to have a new person take up the name of an old hero than it is to have a brand new identity coming out. And here’s the most important point, to me – that is how myth /works/. And super heroes ARE myths, don’t forget. Stories we tell ourselves to feel better, to elucidate some facet of human nature, just /to tell a story/.

    Myths get recycled. There is no such thing as an original story. And for the super hero genre, this ‘recycling’ works particularly well. I don’t see any reason to change or forget the attachment I’ve forged to the familiar characters that were first created years ago, and I’m excited to see them in new forms on screen.

    Killing Superheroes: What's Keeping New Superhero Invention?

    This is such an amazing essay! One of the reasons I have trouble focusing enough to play video games is that I more often play Dungeons and Dragons, a game in which choice is also inherent and (with the DM’s help) also infinite. You can play the same adventure module again and again, but by making different choices you can radically change the outcome.

    I haven’t played Bioshock but I’ve watched other people play, and this essay does a great job of explaining why they matter so much to the genre of video games. Being aware of the limitations of a form can provoke incredible work and responses in players, as you’ve shown!

    Bioshock and the Illusion of Choice in Gaming

    I was just in a Children’s Literature class this past semester (not quite the same thing, but with similar principles) and I would definitely argue that children can take a lot more than we expect. That doesn’t mean I’m going to show my 5 year old nephew the Matrix or anything, but I do think that sheltering kids from all ‘adult’ themes may not help them in the long run.

    I think you’re 100% right, kids need to learn about these darker themes in life, and it’s better to show them in ways you can encourage them to ask questions and to grow with you rather than having them exposed the hard way and not be prepared at all.

    Should Children's Films be Dark or Light?