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    Latest Topics


    Fusion: The Flexible Metaphor in Steven Universe

    Examining the dynamics of Fusion in the world of Steven Universe and how it’s flexible in multiple meanings by Sugar’s creative world-building application of variety of "kinds" of fusion and its undertones.

    • Like Mrs. Incredible? Hmmm... – Tigey 8 years ago

    How World Building in Steven Universe is Framed Through The Lens of a Child

    In the Cartoon Network production Steven Universe, creator Rebecca Sugar deliberately focuses on the child protagonist Steven as through what Steven learns (or does not take notice of), the audience can gather the hints of the backstory, motives, and origins of the gems.

    • I believe that this exact topic is already being written about, and is currently a pending post? https://the-artifice.com/?p=81501&preview=true – Connor Gregorich-Trevor 8 years ago

    The "Running Gag" of Antagonists' Families in Rick and Morty

    It seems to be a prevailing joke in Rick and Morty that the often-alien antagonists frequently have domestic families and lives that even humanize these supposed antagonists. Even the Freddy Kuger-esque dreamscape killer has a quaint domestic life.

    In some ways, it also reminds us that these creatures have stakes too. It parallels in some way to Rick’s family man status. Rick, though a sociopathic, self-centered scientist, is also a family man. How does the existence of their domestic lives ultimately cement how chaotic and complex the multi-verse is and mirror upon Rick’s domestic life?

    • This is really interesting, I never thought about it much until now but you are right, they give a lot of antagonists backstories. A good way to look at it in a neutral way is that it promotes the idea "we do things for others." Although Rick is selfish he cares deeply about Morty and his happiness as seen in him killing the Jelly Bean King that sexually harassed Morty. It's an easy thesis to support considering the end of season 1 Rick gives up the Wubalubadubdub phrase when he finds fulfillment in being with his grandchildren. – Slaidey 9 years ago

    In Bruges: Harry, Ray, Ken as Schillian archetypes

    In Martin McDonagh’s action-tragicomedy film "In Bruges," the assassin Harry represents the overbearing State-figure that philosopher Friedrich Schiller warns about in his Fourth Letter in "On the Aesthetic Education of Man." Harry’s employees, Ray and Ken, are "The Man," subjected to Harry’s authority. How does the movie express these characters as Schillian archetypes?

    • Really really happy someone wants to discuss this movie. Actually after reading the script and re-watching, I had an idea for a similar article, but comparing it to Dante's Inferno. I've never read Schiller, so I'd love to learn about it in this context. – Travis Cohen 9 years ago
    • Have you taken a look at McDonagh's screenplay A Behanding in Spokane? I think you might be able to find some similarities between the two sources. Attempt to tie his writing into multiple sources. – LukeRMcLaughlin 9 years ago

    Open your Valve, Ignatius: A Confederacy of Dunces and the function of the valve

    Ignatius Reilly of the late Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces is one of the most mercilessly disgusting, crude protagonists in literature in his words and his public display of impolite bodily functions such as belching. The mention of his pyloric valve is a special motif, sometimes inconveniencing the protagonist with its pain.

    How does Toole use Ignatius’s digestive function and the function of the valve to convey how Ignatius preaches his blasphemous and pretentious ideas.

    • I think this can also be connected to other authors and works like The Marquis de Sade and Rabelais. Many of their characters use the same bodily functions in "public" for uses that have ranged from the political to the carnivalesque. – DClarke 9 years ago

    Riley's Consciousness of the Irreversibility of Time in Inside Out

    In Pete Docter’s Inside Out (2015), Bing Bong woefully watches his "rocket" fall into the dump and laments, "Once we traveled back in time. We had breakfast twice that day." Though seeming to be a throwaway remark at first, the line is more resonate due to the imagined subject of time travel alluded to there.

    • This is a cool deep read into that line. The way Bing Bong lamented it, that bittersweet feeling (I was choking up) of time's relentless finality is what audiences resonated with (mostly all adult). I think the motif of the memory spheres is something interesting to think about in this case. In a way, the preservation of those core moments in Riley's life are the preservation of time itself, despite its finality. Time, to the Emotions, I think could be this subjective context where the idea is that the way they understand Time is different from, or maybe even accumulates into, Riley's understanding of time as a human being. Different how? Not entirely sure.... but I think there's some value in determining whether or not the irreversability of time is understood the same way between Riley and the Emotions. Joy can freely replay, choose, and save the memories she thinks Riley needs or wants (which results in the process of memory recall in her head) - could that be considered a way of getting around time's finality? Does memory serve as the one way out of time's shadow over our process of growing up? – thebrobster 9 years ago
    • I think the line is particularly powerful as well because it refers to a state in childhood where we think we'll never grow up, that time never stops, or that things will go on this way forever. When we look back as adults, we long for this carefree moment in our lives. Bing Bong was the physical manifestation of childhood, as one of its markers, an imaginary friend. **SPOILER** When he disappears we realize that Riley is growing up, and that she will never go back to that period in her life. It's a marker that her childhood is gone, and she is entering adolescence. As much as we want to go back in time and bring back Bing Bong, he is lost forever. We cannot travel back in time. – Emilie Medland-Marchen 9 years ago

    Ascension as Proportional to Restriction in Studio Ghibli's Princess Kaguya

    In Isao Tahakata’s Princess Kaguya, the heroine undergoes a process of ascension in the form of her class status (and later, perhaps spirituality) and suffers the restrictions of Japanese mores in upper-class life.


      Kuvira's Single Deep Breath in the Legend of Korra

      One of the most chilling ending shots in the Legend of Korra is the scene of Kuvira, the Book 4 antagonist, taking a single deep breath after essentially sacrificing her betrothed to a deadly gunfire. This article analyzes how within a single breath Kuvira’s intricacies are revealed.

      • Honestly, I think you should write this article yourself since you seem to have an idea of what these intricacies might be. I personally thought that that breath wasn't really a breath of hesitation or mustering of will, but more of a sigh of annoyance (as in a "another pest has appeared that I must remove" sort of way). I'd love to hear what you have to say about it though; this seems interesting. If you'll comment back, I'll remove this right away. – Austin 9 years ago

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      Latest Comments

      Thanks for summing up the old 2003 series. While I have yet to actually experience the 3-D Clone Wars on the whole, I do think there are certain strengths to be found on in the more extended 3-D series where character development and themes can breathe. At the same time, I always loved the old series for its stark minimalism and non-moralizing nature. It was always about the “war is hell” experience.

      Comparing Clone Wars Cartoons: How to Treat the Audience

      Thank you for summing up the unexpected rich qualities of Rick and Morty. It’s incredible that the premise of this show has opened the possibilities, including the insanely great episodes that experiments with split screen to convey a cartoony quantum mechanic visually.

      But make the show so noteworthy is how it conveys that “chaotic, complex” universe. There’s not just the Jellybean character who’s unspeakably and incomprehensibly evil, there’s also the fact that you’ll notice that plenty of the antagonistic-like character (like Scary Terry and Snowball) have human edges to them.

      You have a rich knowledge of other medias to show parallels Rick and Morty have to other old works like I Robot.

      The show is a playground of visuals and commentary. Like in the more family friend Adventure Time (with Justin Roiland cited as an influence), somewhere in the crudeness of Rick and Morty’s black humor, is an undercurrent of existential emotions that strikes us when it’s least unexpected. The priceless humor of Rick and Morty burying their other dimensional counterparts is the pinnacle of existentialism. And nor does the show brush over it as a one-time heavy gag. It comes back in the form of this profound statement, “Every day, I eat breakfast feet away from my own rotting corpse… Nobody exist on purpose, we’re all going to die, come watch TV with me?”

      Social Commentary in "Rick and Morty"

      Thanks for that tribute to a wonderful actor and this makes me regret even more that I haven’t really experienced the plethora of works he had done (I learned about “Name Your Poison” after his passing).

      He always had such dignity to everything he did.

      Christopher Lee: The Legacy of a Fascinating Man

      Well, thanks for giving me titles to add to my To Watch list. Too sad, they didn’t appear in Netflix streaming. But I’ll check them out.

      Three Foreign Films For Novices

      I had always been aware there has been indeed some CGI in Mad Max applied, but the only instances in my personal viewing experience of Conspicuous CGI was the flying guitar and wheel. And for me to only tally of “two” of those instances is astounding for me these days.

      We will always acclaim this film precisely because of its practical effects and how we notice that they are AUTHENTIC right on the screen (the stunts particularly). But do not forget the skillfully sleight of some CGI to give the scene the right scope and atmosphere.

      Mad Max: Practically CGI

      This is useful. So many interesting aspects you covered here on the idea of privilege and how Korra must expand her privileged consciousness in the moment the non-bender calls out “you’re our Avatar too.”

      While I think Korra had its shortcomings about demonstrating the privilege aspect, especially considering the sudden retrieval of her Bending power after a moment of angst and the fact that the non-Bender plot was not focused on in favor of Korra’s arc, all these themes are very much strong and present in the world of Korra. It’s that political aspect that makes it a very remarkably substantial commentary. At the very least, the non-Benders do get to elect their leader by Book 2.

      I think some additional commentary lies in Asami’s backstory, who had her mother murdered by a firebender, which is identical to Mako’s backstory about the loss of his parents. I think to have these identical circumstances for both Bender and Non-Bender, Mike and Bryan are ultimately suggesting that Amon’s myopic views don’t really benefit the Non-Benders he sought to protect. Where was he when those innocent non-Benders civilians were riled by the police?

      Thanks for the lovely read!

      Politics and Privilege in The Legend of Korra

      Many times in movies, I do find many sex scenes indulgent because, yes, voyeurism entertainment. But when well done, they are not pointless and might allow us to invest in the characters’ emotional joy. Much like in Titanic, my preference does lean toward the more reserved illustration of sex on screen. Titanic uses the visual cue rather than the sexual act, so as indicated in your article, it gives more breathing space to absorb the intimacy than the physical act. Though in some films, the director needs to conscious about portraying a sexual act as over-explicit, depraved, or even repellent to convey certain moods as appropriate to the story.

      When conducting a sex scene, the director must consider: How does one choreograph it in a way that gives the character psychological and emotional weight? How far does s/he need to go to perfect his desired mood?. How would the director minimize the exploitative accusations of the scene if s/he must go far?

      Passion in Film: Should Cinematic Displays of Affection be Toned Down?

      It’s nice to read this article. Yes, directors, like Wes Anderson and Tim Burton often will have a trademark. It would be nice to have filmmakers that can rotate around styles and forms, but we shouldn’t really hold it against these directors for having their own signature style. It’s as much as a disservice to reprimand a director, “stick with what you know!” as “why can’t you do something different.” They can be useful advice or recommendation for directors, but it shouldn’t be manifesto for a director’s choice. If we should criticize an overuse of style, perhaps we should aim those criticisms against the technique rather than the existence of style.

      In some ways, how style works can depend on story, whether the director picks up a screenplay written by someone else (probably an adaptation of a source material) and/or when director handles the story during production. I think of the 2012 Anna Karenina directed by Joe Wright, screenplay by Tom Stoppard. Stoppard wrote the movie as a straightforward period piece, but would later approve of director Joe Wright’s idea to incorporate a modernistic stage fantasy element to the setting. The result got some mixed reception (I understood the criticisms but found it to be a fine piece of filmmaking and storytelling). Of course, there’s subjectivity to contend with. Some might find Wright’s addition to be distracting while some (such as I) found it as serviceable and characteristic for the interpretation of the story.

      Story or Style: Which Should Directors Concentrate On?