Anna Samson

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Latest Articles

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    What makes regency era period pieces so popular?

    Explore regency era nostalgia and how it is a big part of contemporary culture. Also discuss the role of technology and how and why people yearn for the pre digital age.

    Look at film and TV adaptations of the Regency era, such as Pride and Prejudice, Bridgerton, Emma, Becoming Jane, Belle, Sanditon, Death Comes to Pemberley, etc). Many of these are based on or around Jane Austen and her works. Discuss Austen’s influence on the Regency era and the subsequent rise in “Regencycore” in fashion and entertainment.

    • I think that Dimension 20's "A Court of Fey and Flowers" demonstrates a good answer to that question. Regency relies upon emotional stories, as opposed to totally power driven narratives. They aren't necessarily about the clash of big G Good, and big e Evil, but about the messy, dramatic, and difficult parts of people's lives. They can be very emotional, and very exciting. I believe people yearn for a pre-digital age (consciously or not, intentionally or not), because the human connection available was both not as overwhelming (as say the internet, which contains perhaps all of human knowledge?), and also more personal, more intimate, more direct. Screens are screens. They literally stand between the people connecting. Regency is just one of many eras/genres which predates digital and film tech (and one of the most recent periods) – skjamin 1 year ago
    • -It's glamorous and opulent, sitting at a sweet spot of history between the dirty and unenlightened middle ages so you can portray royal elegance without having to ignore the dirty and superstitious reality of Medieval Europe, country estates are a much more romantic setting than a castle. -It also takes place just before the industrial revolution and all of the social problems associated with modernity, -Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters, even Marry Shelly are really one of the earliest cohorts of female writers with an enduring legacy that can be tied to a specific literary movement (in my uneducated opinion) and thus those stories persevere. – Cedarfireflies55 1 year ago
    • Regency-era popular culture pieces significantly identified the manifestation of affect. The crucial contribution of feelings and emotions parallel to or in opposition to rationalism portrayed the complexity of regency-era productions that made them appealing to the audience. I think the sudden surge of highly sexualized films and storylines and an obsessive focus on individual identities led more than a few frustrated viewers back to the era of romantic relationships where human emotions were valued and not over-analyzed psychoanalytical. – Golam Rabbani 8 months ago
    • I might suggest limiting the discussion to pieces like Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Bridgerton, Becoming Jane, and the like. Nothing wrong with Death Comes to Pemberley or Belle, but I see these two as crossing into different genres or belonging in other discussions. That is, Belle has a Regency backdrop, but is more about her life and search for identity as a biracial woman. Death Comes to Pemberley is a P&P offshoot/pays homage, but is more a mystery story. – Stephanie M. 7 months ago

    Queer representations

    During Pride Month discuss healthy and unhealthy representations of queer people and identities in a chosen art medium (writing, film, music, visual art, etc). Perhaps even narrow your focus onto a specific identity, such as only looking at bisexual representation.
    Explore the history of queer representation. Discuss stereotypes. Compare and contrast works released during the same time period. Make note of how sociopolitical views and changing culture impact, such as the rise of anti-trans discrimination in the USA and how that affects queer representation in your chosen medium.


      What are some reasons why Hallmark holiday movies are not widely acclaimed?

      Many Hallmark holiday movies are considered "bad" because they employ unrealistic, overdone, and exaggerated tropes, characters, plot devices, world-building, and sentimentality. This makes the settings in which they are set in seem like they are trying too hard to look believable. This makes the content fall flat and seem poorly executed. Characters are often underdeveloped as their personalities and histories are not explored much which makes it difficult to be invested in their story. These are just some reasons many consider Hallmark holiday movies to be less successful and impactful.

      Explore some of the reasons. Discuss television vs streaming, secularism, commercializations of the holidays, budgets, appeal, genre limitations, reputation, etc.

      • To quote my mother, "I love watching Hallmark movies because I always know how what's going to happen. They're not stressful." While this may be a pro for my mother, and for many people who enjoy Hallmark movies, it's not considered a pro in the film world. A screenplay should always be surprising but inevitable. Hallmark movies follow a formula down to a tee. The plot points are inevitable, but not surprising. – Abby 1 year ago
      • I would also go into the history of film and television production a bit. I think there's a clear parallel between the way Hallmark movies are viewed today and the way TV movies of the week were viewed by many in the 1970s and '80s — in that networks produced literally hundreds of them every year, and most were not taken too seriously by critics. No different really from the way B-movies were relegated to the bottom half of double bills in the 1930s. Hallmark movies are, in a way, the closest thing there is today to the old Hollywood studio system. – John Wilson 1 year ago

      Animated films and their live action remakes

      Disney has released a few live action remakes. Some well received, and others highly criticized. Aladdin (2019) and Cinderella (2015) were well received while The Lion King (2019) and Tarzan (2016) were not. The Lion King used highly realistic CGI but this resulted in less expressive characters which was then less impactful than the animated version. What was lost in media translation?
      Discuss the pros and cons of animation versus live action and discuss why animated movies struggle to be remade well as live action films.

      • To be accurate, animated movies do not "struggle" to be remade in live action. The Lion King is, for the most part, a technological marvel of getting human voices out of realistic-looking animals. As you pointed out, this realism sacrificed expressiveness in the animals' faces, which is one reason audiences didn't like the results. Perhaps the "struggle" is in making the new things interesting enough for audiences to consider them as good or better than the old, familiar 2D animated movies. – noahspud 2 years ago
      • I would argue that the remakes would be more well received if they did not have well-loved predecessors. Maybe nostalgia factor sets a higher bar for Disney to try and recreate the magic audiences felt from watching the films as children, which results in bad reception if they can't live up to that standard. – isobelarcher 2 years ago
      • Most of these live action remakes are extremely high-budget and well made, which begs the question of why they aren't as well received. I believe this is because audiences are not as interested in the idea of watching basically the same movie over again. They already found something to love-something that brings them nostolgia within the animated films. While the movies do tend to be well made, there's no doubt that there's a semblance of boredom within its primary audience. – brookecandelario 2 years ago
      • From my interpretation of Disney’s live action remakes, one of the key problems is that many of them are not fully utilising the live action medium to create films that are different from their animated counterparts. Of the live action remakes that I have watched, I think Cruella was one of the better movies because the costuming was a significant part of the story, and thus, justified why the film had to be made in live action rather than with animation. Many of the other live action films do not seem to utilise the elements of live action filmmaking that differ from animation, and in my view, are consequently not adding anything new to the stories. – UtopiaRocket 2 years ago

      Season length: from 22 to 12

      In the past it was common for TV series have seasons with 20 episodes. This has changed in the past decade or so. Now it is more common for shows to have 6-15 episodes. For example, The X-Files was a popular show in the 90s that had 9 seasons with 20 or more episodes each. When it was rebooted in 2016, the following two seasons had 6 and 10 episodes respectively. This shows the change in episode numbers according to the times.
      Discuss why this happened and what factors played a role, such as streaming, globalization, changing attention spans, busy lives, intended audiences, etc.
      Was this a change that occurred due to differing consumer needs or production needs? Was it due to the changes in how television and media is consumed?

      • Interesting observation, and I think it might be due to a number of the things you mention. For one, streaming allows people access to a plethora of series and movies, thereby potentially limiting their "attention span" for one series. In addition, since there are so many series being created, perhaps production needs are inadequate. – LibraryLass 2 years ago

      Original Fairy Tales and their Disney counterparts

      Disney played a large role in bringing fairy tales to a larger audience. To do so, they had to remove many horrific aspects, such as the stepsisters in Cinderella who cut off their toes and heels to fit into the glass slipper or how the princess is raped while unconscious in Sleeping Beauty.
      Compare more of the original fairy tales, which explored far more taboo and grotesque content and how Disney has altered them to be more child friendly and palatable. Discuss why this was done and how the purpose of fairy tales has evolved.

      • Many of the revisions suggested weren't acted upon. – Sunni Ago 2 years ago
      • Hi Sunni! I changed Grimms fairy tales to original fairy tales to accommodate all the origins. I also changed my questions to ask about why changes were made and how fairy tales have evolved over time and why. I specified who I was referring to and what I was asking. Is there anything else I can do to refine this topic? – Anna Samson 2 years ago
      • Maybe make the question: Discuss the purpose of this change and how it is tied into the evolution of fairytales. Or something like that: same question but could be worded differently. – Montayj79 2 years ago
      • Might be some old interviews with good old Walt himself to help narrow down this idea a bit. – alliegardenia 2 years ago
      • I think you could talk a bit more about the fairy tales that aren't commonly known to the public! – Sangnat 2 years ago
      • This was a topic I was heavily interested in a few years ago. Children's literature and fairy tales is rooted in violence and weird sexual inuendos. They're more cautionary tales but if you're looking at the "Disneyfication" process, I believe there was an article called "Breaking the Disney Spell" by Jack Zipes. It demystifies Walt Disney a bit (not really in a good way) and will spill some of those trade secrets of marketing gruesome fairy tales for a modern child audience. – iresendiz 2 years ago

      Netflix to release episodes weekly

      Netflix made binge watching a household phenomenon. In fact, it was one of their biggest selling points.

      But now they are going to release episodes weekly instead of releasing entire seasons at once. Why is television reverting back to cable formats? What are the possible cons of binge watching culture and is it sustainable? Is Netflix following HBO Max’s success in weekly releases? Is binge watching conducive to long term streaming revenue?
      Additionally, how do weekly releases impact viewers differently than entire seasons being released at once?

      • Besides all the topics on binge watching that we have, I forgot to mention that we also have at least one published article focused on this specific phenomenon. It may be a good idea to look into it to make sure one is not repeating ideas that have already been explored. – T. Palomino 2 years ago
      • Binge-watching, as an extreme, can cause some health issues; one being a long period of constant physical inactivity. However, companies replicating the successes of other companies is pretty common. That phenomenon is seen in the addition of "stories" to many social media platforms, or the simplification of company logos. – lorem1psum 2 years ago
      • There are many video essays on Youtube talking about the downfall of Netflix and the binge watch format definitely contributed to it. If all your fans are watching things that take at least a year to produce in a few days, you need to constantly pump out new content which will be of lesser quality. – sabrinaellis 2 years ago

      How does misogynoir affect casting choice?

      Leah Jeffries was recently cast as Annabeth in the upcoming Percy Jackson series on Disney . Rick Riordan, author of the book series it is based on, approves and endorses Jeffries as embodying the characteristics of Annabeth as he wrote her. Jeffries is a young Black actress and her casting was met with a lot of racist backlash.
      Similarly, a few years ago Halle Bailey (also a young Black woman) was cast as Ariel in the live action The Little Mermaid. Her casting was also met with racist backlash.
      Discuss the role misogynoir plays in casting choices and why it is important to cast Black women for characters that are not racially or ethnically specific.

      • Something also worth noting is some of the more levelheaded critics did not care about the race of the actors/actress. They questioned if these individuals being chosen for these roles was only because of their race. As many of these studios made a big deal about the race of the actor's, when many felt their ability to act should be the primary factor in them getting the role. Many accused Disney of Tokenism. I think that is a worthwhile angle to explore as well. We can also see something similar with the fans suggesting Micheal B Jordan play superman. While you naturally have those who hate the idea and make racist remarks online. You can also see some fans question why no one is suggesting Micheal B Jordan doesn't get cast as Icon, a black super hero who has yet to get a feature film or solo T.V series. – Blackcat130 2 years ago
      • The thing that occurs to me about this is that there is a need to draw a distinction between people complaining about having Black actresses in particular roles, and people complaining about those who complain about having Black actresses in those roles. This is particularly important in the internet age because anything can receive attention it doesn't deserve as long as it can be packaged as "clickbait." If a tiny minority of less than 100 people is complaining about a Black actress in a given role, but then millions of people broadcast the views of this tiny minority in order to tear them down or make fun of them, then it will look like Black actresses get a lot more hatred than they actually do. – Debs 2 years ago
      • Refer to examples throughout Hollywood’s history to bolster your argument. (Sorry I tried to update the topic but it posted before I could) – Anna Samson 2 years ago

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      Latest Comments

      great article! You really explained the multiverse well and used great examples

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      The Cozy Escapism of Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley

      Interesting article

      Comedy: When the Jokes Go Too Far

      Great analysis! Really enjoyed reading this. You included some great examples. Especially including Room, which I wouldn’t have expected to see here but fits perfectly

      Plato's Cave and the Construction of Reality in Postmodern Movies

      Loved seeing diverse representations on screen! Plus getting to see a south Asian lead was really exciting for me as a south Asian person

      Bridgerton's Reimagining of Regency Society

      Great article! I’m kicking myself for missing this around Halloween and only seeing it now.

      Inside America's Fascination with Witches

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