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    Latest Articles


    Latest Topics


    The Art of Trolling

    Internet trolling has become an even hotter topic in the wake of the 2016 election and the rise of the "other" Alt-Right. Explore the roots and history of trolling. Is it the legacy of Socratic rhetorical styles meant to expose societal hypocrisy or just plain bullying.

    • I wonder, however, if there is much history to this phenomenon yet. – mmastro 7 years ago
    • There is. As you will note from the topic it arguably goes back to Socrates. – Christen Mandracchia 7 years ago
    • Whenever someone has an idea, there will almost certainly be people waiting to tear it down...The internet made it worse because it allowed anyone with internet to become a critic. – MikeySheff 7 years ago
    • MikeySheff, true. Opening access causes problems, limiting access causes others. The dilemma recalls Madison's yin-yang-like result of securing specific Constitutional rights: allow gun ownership, reap gun violence; ban gun ownership, risk totalitarianism. True too of free speech allowing far-right and -left perspectives, freedom of religion allowing Branch Davidians, Jonestown, etc. Even the double-jeopardy protection for the monsters who murdered Emmitt Till is understandable vis-a-vis the certain damage that would occur were that protection removed. – Tigey 7 years ago
    • I would love to read an article on this topic. Perhaps another avenue to explore might be the historical appeal of trolling. If we view it as a satirical approach to modern debate then what makes it so appealing? Is it human nature to troll? Does exposing certain societal hypocrisies result in the rise of newer hypocrisies? Another point of interest that I am curious to explore is the advocacy of alt-righters. Often people associate this movement with a new sort of radical dissidence. They call the alt-right a "punk movement." Is it punk though? Or is this indoctrination of supposed punk ideologies merely used as a ploy to appeal to a youthful audience yearning for any form of subversion? – DrownSoda 7 years ago
    • Just because someone says it goes back to Socrates doesn't mean it does. Just like to point that out. Socrates didn't promote trolling anymore than Jonathan Swift did. – wolfkin 7 years ago
    • That's why I said "the legacy of Socratic rhetorical styles" and not "Socrates said so." Hence, writing an article about the topic. – Christen Mandracchia 7 years ago

    Does 'The Get Down' Get Down?

    Baz Luhrmann’s Netflix series The Get Down chronicles the origins of Hip-Hop in the Bronx in the 1970s. Does it do this history justice?

    • My question for Netflix is, "What about Brooklyn?" – Tigey 8 years ago
    • It's also necessary to take into account taking artistic liberties to make the story work for the format. – Laura Andrea 8 years ago

    Pokemon and the Animals in Captivity Debate

    Explore the various discourses with in the Pokemon series (and there is enough information in the Indigo League seasons for this) on issues regarding animals in captivity. If Pokemon creatures are seen as pets, trained animals in captivity, or beasts of burden, what are some examples of the ways that the series treated different philosophies and consequences of humans keeping control of highly "evolved" creatures?

    • I haven't seen the black & white seasons but in the game team Plasma focused on liberating pokemon, yet they were still the bad guys. It would be good to take a look at their actions/mission and how it interacts with how pokemon are seen/treated. – LaRose 8 years ago
    • I just re-watched the first few episodes and it is mentioned that "wild pokemon are jealous of captured pokemon" and therefor act aggressively towards them. I found this an odd explanation but it kind of answers why pokemon also resist capture, they want to play hard to get and be with the best possible trainer; it's not because they don't want to be captured. However I find this dangerously supportive of a "no means yes" mentality... – Slaidey 8 years ago
    • One thing we need to be careful of when looking at Pokemon is reading them as animals too eagerly. From an exclusively Western perspective, this is certainly the case, as many look like animals, and humans cannot understand their speech. In the anime, they are shown to have a language (not spoken by humans) but in the games, they seem only capable of the roars, cries and sounds we associate with the concept of "animal." But a reading of Pokemon in its original, Japanese context reveals a more complicated relationship. One thing to understand is the concept (not unique to Japan) of "discipleship." Basically, a common trope of Japanese and other Asian fiction is of a martial arts master who encounters an attacker while in the wilderness. The two fight, but the master bests his assailant. After being beaten, the would-be-attacker asks to join and learn from the master. Anyone who has caught a pokemon in-game can attest to this narrative being built into the game mechanics. The wild pokemon always initiates the encounter, often in the wilderness. The player has the option to flee, but only in rare exceptions will the wild, aggressor pokemon do so. Catching a pokemon, in most cases, requires a demonstration of the trainer's superiority via lowering its HP. Now, without knowing this context, the situation does look pretty bad, and it's understandable why people react with discomfort at witnessing what they see as forced animal combat. But not only does pokemon draw its ideas from cultural tropes which have nothing to do with animals, many pokemon have no animal characteristics. Some look like plants or snowflakes, and even garbage bags and ice cream cones. In Pokemon's in-game discourse, pokemon are never framed as animals. Instead, they are seen as partners, working alongside their human counterparts, reflecting an image of positivity. Children and adults alike playing pokemon are encouraged to forge bonds and strife for their goals alongside partners who may not look like them, but share their outlook and ambitions nonetheless. – magicmark 8 years ago
    • I would like to clarify that the topic specifically mentions the tv series (not the games) and the indigo league to narrow it down. – Christen Mandracchia 8 years ago
    • Ok, I can see the pokemon-as-animals argument more in the Indigo League arc for sure. But don't you feel the focus of that is a bit narrow? It's like saying (only example i could think of off the top of my head) that Star Trek Next Generation has Natasha Yar as its protagonist, and only using Season 1 as an example. I think narrowing focus is a good idea for the sake of keeping an article manageable, but I don't think the rest of the series outside of Indigo bears the argument out. – magicmark 8 years ago
    • The Indigo League has 82 episodes which counts as several seasons in a normally syndicated tv series. Since the Indigo League was the first installment and covers a complete arc from beginning to end, it is quite sufficient especially since subsequent seasons follow the same format. If following seasons refute the animals in captivity argument that Indigo makes, and the author would like to comment on this phenomenon, I would suggest that the bulk of the article focus on Indigo with a brief paragraph or two summarizing how future seasons have remained consistent or have strayed from the ethics of the first installment. – Christen Mandracchia 8 years ago
    • That's a really good idea - comparing the seasons to see how the discourse changes. I like it! – magicmark 8 years ago

    Meta Deadpool

    Analyze the way in which the new film Deadpool uses meta-cinema techniques for the advancement of character, plot, and theme. How do the self-aware references to popular culture enhance the audience’s experience?

    • I think this is a very interesting way to look at the movie. This article could potentially tap into some very interesting cinema philosophy. It is important to consider that the way Deadpool is written in the comic books is that he is self-aware and often breaks the 4th wall, so maybe you can look at if the director pulled it off or not in the film. – StephL1t 8 years ago
    • Another example of meta-cinema is in Mel Brooks' Spaceballs, where Dark Helmet kills a camera man in the middle of a lightsaber battle. – jamiepashagumskum 8 years ago

    Live Musicals! Who Does it Better?

    In 2013, NBC got America’s attention by producing The Sound of Music Live! Ratings went through the roof! Next was Peter Pan, and then The Wiz. Now Fox has done Grease Live with an audience and different locations. Who did it better? NBC or Fox? Explore the history of live televised musical theatre performances. Explore techniques, successes, and failures to determine who wears the live musical crown.


      The Simpsons' Influence on American Politics

      The Simpsons has never restrained from making political statements, but what happens when life imitates art? Research and analyze the presence of political commentary in The Simpsons which have made their way back into political commentary.


        Gone With the Wind. Classic Movie to be Embraced or Dated and Offensive?

        The same can be asked about many films of this era, particularly with regard to their portrayal of African Americans. However, this film won Hattie McDaniel an Oscar for her portrayal of Mammy. Did she accomplish something extraordinary as the first African American woman to win an Academy Award or was she being rewarded to cementing stereotypes? An article on the topic would take these and other questions into consideration when finding a place for this film in today’s world.

        • In all fairness, it should be praised for it's beautiful production quality and cinematography, the hurdles it went through to get made (having gone through four directors), and the accomplishments it made with regards to getting Hattie McDaniel said first Oscar for an African American actor/actress. However, it should also obviously be understood and recognized for it's stereotypical and unfair portrayal of African Americans, both in the context of the time period the film was presenting to us, and in the context of when the film was actually produced. – Jonathan Leiter 8 years ago
        • The portrayal of African Americans, especially those considered domestic slaves in the film was different from other movies of the time. The film was still criticized by African Americans during the 40s and 50s as an image of glorifying slavery. One of the reasons may have been the somewhat "good" relations between the O'Hara's and the slaves, which was very much contrary to what was expected and known of the history of slavery in the south. This is an intriguing topic and would be interesting to see what has been written on this by others. – aferozan 8 years ago
        • To jump on the bandwagon -- would be interesting to examine how this film differs from other films of that period and how they portray black Americans. Was the subject broached at all in critical reviews when the film was released? Is there any significance to there being any black characters at all? – sophiacatherine 8 years ago

        Steven Moffat the sexist: The Whovian Dilemma

        Steven Moffat, the writer for Doctor Who since 2010, has said horrible things about the female fan base of this show, and Sherlock, which he co-created, as well as detestable things about women in general. Highlights might include calling women "needy," calling actress Karen Gillan (Amy Pond) "wee and dumpy" and claiming that women only enjoy Sherlock because they are attracted to Benedict Cumberbatch. This is enough to enrage anyone, but does it affect the quality of his Doctor Who episodes when he dismisses the majority of his own fan base as boy-crazy, "needy" idiots.

        There has always been a sort of dismissal for anything in pop culture which attracts female viewership, (especially young female viewership), implying that girls don’t know the difference between good and bad entertainment. As feminist scholar Stacy Wolf says, "Historicizing the devaluation of girls’ tastes shows how categories of cultural worth are highly gendered." (Changed for Good, 222) Does this apply to Doctor Who since Moffat took over? This study would compare the quality of female characters on Doctor Who before and after Moffat and their overall impact on the quality of events.

        • I haven't personally read or seen any of Moffat's sexist remarks. Although that doesn't mean that I don't believe he said or meant them. If he's like this, I can believe it. However, only recently have I felt truly like his writing of female characters has shown it's true colors. When Russel T Davies was running Doctor Who, Rose Tyler was interesting, she had her cliched female moments and she could be rather self-centered, but she was fun and unique. Martha Jones wasn't much of a character for the most part. She was a tad vague and devoid of distinctive identity I felt. But then Donna Noble really shook things up and had a strong voice for a change. She also had no romantic interest in the Doctor, thank goodness. When Moffat did fully take over, Amy Pond was really really delightful, especially when she was eventually married to Rory and their companionship together took off apart from the Doctor: which had only happened once before (I believe), way back with the first Doctor. Then there was River Song on and off. She's been incredibly captivating and intriguing, especially when we finally get to see how she went from being Amy and Rory's daughter, to Amy and Rory's childhood friend, to the River Song we eventually know, and then up to when she has to kill the Doctor, after which we find her locked up in prison, randomly escaping to go on adventures throughout the 11th Doctor's run. Finally there's Clara Oswald. And after all of the ups and downs (minor ones) with the previous companions and characters, Clara is the one I was most disappointed in, because at first I really really loved her. She was spunky, she was steadfast, she was inquisitive, curious, and very very loyal, and she was also rather attractive to me personally. But her character just fell apart when the 12th Doctor came around. His transformation changed her, revealed her to be an incredibly shallow character, beyond the reasonable reaction of not knowing who or what this new Doctor was or was going to be compared to the last one. She also showed that she could be incredibly needy, selfish, and even demanding when it came to her relationship with the Doctor, when before she would have never acted that way. All of these observations and feelings have been confirmed and shared by many other fans as well. She just turned into such a unlikable person that by the end, I'm rather glad to see her finally go. I just wish it had been a tad sooner. So if anything, Clara's character at the moment the 8th series began is when I could tell something was screwy with Moffat's writing of female roles: when before it was only in small slightly awkward doses. I'm not sure who or what I expect for the next companion, but if anything, I'd appreciate another duo dynamic by bringing on both a male and a female companion, but more of a platonic pairing rather than a romantic one. I also believe Moffat is supposed to be leaving the show now, though he may have changed his mind recently. I don't know the exact details on that. – Jonathan Leiter 8 years ago

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        Latest Comments

        Hello Jessica,

        Thank you for the time it took to respond with these thoughtful comments. In the interest of normalizing the process of going back in one’s past writing and self-critiquing, I look for ways to make my writing clearer. I had hoped to demonstrate the difference between the way that a pop culture text is written and the way it is received. There are going to be readings, counter-readings, and everything in between for a show like Game of Thrones or any show. In the article, I recognize, early on, that the show’s feminism is subversive at best, and also hotly contested – or, at least it was more hotly contested five years ago, when I wrote this. Like I said: “This article is meant to give the reader one specific tool, the Alienation Effect, for doing a feminist reading of Game of Thrones.” In other words, if a feminist is actively looking for moments of agency and resistance of female characters in GoT, here is a tool (one might say lens) that might help them find it. There is a reason I specifically chose to use Dolan’s framework – since her work acknowledges that most pop culture texts are not made for women, let alone feminists. Most are made for the “male gaze” and, yes, are sexist. She offers a way of looking at a piece and reclaiming it as feminist. It is an active choice that often goes against the initial intent of the piece – just as there are many things in this world that are not made for women, but women still find ways of claiming and reclaiming them – or not. I tried to make this as clear as possible, and it’s apparent that I could have done better. I have learned a lot in the last five years about how to write and how to better engage, and I recognize that my tone reads as dismissive without sufficiently acknowledging Serendipity’s point that the subversive aspects of the show’s feminism might be too subterranean to be noticed and cold potentially cause harm. I do maintain that my intent is not to justify the things portrayed on the show, but to highlight the ways that female characters exhibit agency and resistance under circumstances and rules that were not built for them.

        I think that if I were to re-write this piece or revisit this piece (which I cannot do on this platform) I would not give the writers as much credit as I did in planting these meanings. I would also revise certain sections to include content warnings. I would also edit my second-to-last paragraph, where I tell feminists who disagree with me to keep speaking up but focus energy on the real world instead of the show: I would change that to keep speaking up, focusing your energy on the show AND the real world. There are probably some other things I would change, but I would need more time to go through it in more detail. Also the title was changed at the last minute by editors to better match whatever the Google algorithm was, at the time. I didn’t originally phrase it that way (I don’t remember what it originally was) but if I had a choice to change it, it would probably read more like “Tools for Feminist Reclamation” or something that makes space for other feminist readings. I agree that this title makes it sound like I think I have a monopoly on feminist readings, and that’s not reflexive of what I say in the article where I acknowledge debates and other viewpoints, which I believe are valid. Thank you again for your feedback.

        How A Feminist Watches Game of Thrones: Power Is Power

        I am so glad to see this get published! Well done Diana!

        The anime gold rush in the early 21st century

        Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

        Hamilton and the Construction of Post-Obama Americanism

        Agreed! It is incredibly relevant right now!

        Why is Disney Overemphasizing Frozen?

        Thanks for the comment. I touch briefly on the appeal of B&B to adults with the Oscar nom and the new found sophistication of animated films. I do think it is interesting that you jump from B&B to Frozen when so many other Disney princesses/women have faced very adult situations, most notably Pocahontas, Esmerelda, and Mulan.

        Why is Disney Overemphasizing Frozen?

        Thanks Betts! Can’t wait to read yours on Lucy!

        Hamilton and the Construction of Post-Obama Americanism

        This often happens with successful shows, and has been the case since the 1980s. Hamilton is not unique in this. Keep in mind that Book of Mormon seats were about the same price.

        Hamilton and the Construction of Post-Obama Americanism

        Thank you so much! I’m so glad you liked it! It was a year in the making, so it’s nice to have it mean a lot to people.

        Hamilton and the Construction of Post-Obama Americanism