Contributing writer for The Artifice.
Life and Tetris
As video game players have risen from a small subsect of people into a large swath dominating the country and planet, how has this effected how we humans interact with one another. The Tetris Effect is when a repeated activity shapes the way your brain functions, as the repetitive action causes the brain to assign importance to said action. Given the prevalance of gaming today, how may be the Tetris Effect be changing society, and how may this look in our future as gaming becomes further mainstream.
They're Fat? That's So Funny!
Discuss exposing the correlation of the comic relief character in television often being overweight actors that Hollywood has created. Often case they are the only overweight actor on the show or film, and it may even be the only part offered. When screen casting the casting call may even call specifically for an overweight comedic relief. Discuss the implications of this and how it can harm the industry as a whole, as well as the effect on actual overweight individuals exposed to such decisions.
EXP: Gilmore Girls, The Hangover, Austin and Allie ( feel free to use your own)
At What Point Does Parody Become Art
Look at parody fiction, and discuss at what point it stops being "Parody" and becomes "Art", can these coexist? Is parody automatically art?
Suggestion: Hillywood Productions; YouTube
Star Trek Discovery: Ash Tyler
In Star Trek’s newest installation Star Trek: Discovery, we are introduced to a character named Ash Tyler, potrayed by Shazad Latif. Ash was a prisoner of war in a Klingon ship, was tortured and ultimately raped by one of his Klingon captors. You see Ash dealing with symptoms of PTSD that progress through the show. Ash’s mental state causes flashbacks, which ultimately lead to violence and even death of those In his way. How does the sympathy of Ash’s place as a male rape victim clash with the violent nature he takes on when having episodes? Is he less sympathetic or moreso because of these violence inducing flashbacks caused by the torture he recieved?
Of Monetary Value: The Artistry of the Undervalued
In this day and age the arts are one of the most freeing career paths a person can choose, from drawing and painting to animation and sculpture the field is vast and full of potential. Discuss why people devlue the art of learning these subjects, often expect work to be done for free, and then celebrate the art as beloved. Do we value the work and undervalue the artist? Is this ideal changing? Discuss how this mindset and belief that art is not of valur affects the "little" guy while allowing large main stream corporations to become highly monetarily successful.
America, Can You Really Do Anything?
In America, the commonly known ‘American Dream’ ideal exists where if you put in hard work and with a little "bit o’ luck" you can accomplish anything. Discuss the socio-economic and political barriers to this ideal. Examine social issues such as racism, sexism, and white-privilege, noting how their effects promote or dampen the possibility of this ideal becoming a reality. Use examples from media, books and film in order to argue your point.
Book Suggestions: Of Mice and Men, McTeague, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, Passing (Nella Larsen).
Movie Suggestions: Citizen Kane, Pretty Woman, La La Land, Good Will Hunting
Phantom Thread: The Love of a Woman and Toxic Masculinity
Discuss the roll toxic masculinity (the psychological term describing traditional male behavior norms that cause harm to society) plays in the 2017 film Phantom Thread. How do the relationships in the film display toxic masculinity, how do the relationships break down this problem? How do themes or tropes in the film distort or alter this. Discuss how this affects the film as a piece.
Team Starkid and the Gender Rules
Team Starkid is a University of Michigan based theater troupe that specializes in parody musicals that they later record and post to the popular website YouTube.com. Though the characters are usually portrayed by people of the same gender as the characters, occasionally the actors within the troupe "gender bend" characters. Gender bending is the portrayal of a character in a gender that is not one’s own or that of the character. Lauren Lopez is a woman who has played characters such as Draco Malfoy, an ex-military sergeant, and a young boy in some of their productions. Joe Walker is a man who played Dolores Umbridge in one of their productions. Lopez’ portrayals are often seen as more realistic whereas Walker’s were intended to be comical because of his gender. Why is a woman allowed to realistically play men and yet a man playing a woman is considered a running gag? Consider gender roles, gender rules and coded norms in the Team Starkid comedy dynamic.
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