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    Latest Articles

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    Political Revolution and The Act of Reading

    Fahrenheit 451 focuses on the burning of books. In this fictional world, the owners of books and their homes are burnt and book ownership is seen as the root of unhappiness within society. During the period of the Enlightenment, books were a driver of change as new works like Thomas Paine’s Common Sense shaped ideas like liberty for the American public and led to American independence. More people read than did anything else during this period of change and political foundation for Western democracy. How is the act of reading linked to revolution in books like Fahrenheit 451 and what does this tell us about the importance of reading for the modern era?

    • It's not just reading, of course; it's sharing of information. Books are a great way to do that, especially when prying eyes might be listening and subtlety is key. During times of famous revolutions in history, the Internet wasn't a thing; when Fahrenheit 451 was written, the Internet wasn't a thing. Today, in countries where tyrannical governments keep firm control of their citizens, the Internet is restricted just as much as books were in Fahrenheit 451. In countries where the Internet is mostly un-regulated, everyone is making their best effort to sway public opinion in every direction - it may not lead to all-out revolution, but I'm sure one could make an argument for the influence this freedom of information sharing has had on major political events in the past 20 years or so. – noahspud 4 months ago

    Depictions of Space Flight in Film

    Scientists have spent a lot of time shaping films concerned with space flight in science fiction. NASA spent a lot of time advising the producers of the 2015 film Martian. Kip Thorne, a theoretical physicist, shaped Nolan’s Interstellar (2014) to make it an accurate depiction of time dilation consistent with Einstein’s Special Relativity. Kevin Grazier, a planetary physicist who worked on the Cassini/Huygens Mission to Saturn and Titan, also advised the producers of the 2013 film Gravity. How have the interactions between scientists and filmmakers shaped the depiction of space travel in science fictions films on different occasions?

    • It might be worthwhile to make a distinction between the types of films you're addressing versus the types you aren't, for example space flight in "science fiction" like "The Martian" as opposed to "space fantasy" like "Star Wars." The more "grounded-in-science" films certainly benefit from a realistic representation of space flight; even more "fantastic" sci-fi films like "2001: A Space Odyssey" or "Battlestar Galactica" emphasize the technology level of the humans by more realistically depicting how their ships maneuver in space. Stories like "Star Wars" or even parts of Star Trek (especially "Wrath of Khan") that are rooted more in fantasy, however, usually aim to be more exciting than completely physically accurate, so Kirk and Khan circle each other like 18th-century warships exchanging cannon fire in ships that are capable of faster-than-light travel (which is what audiences prefer). Collaboration between scientists and filmmakers in depicting space flight seems more and more useful, but ultimately is more important to science fiction than to space fantasy. – CulturallyOpinionated 5 years ago

    Depictions of Nuclear War

    Threads (1984) depicts a small town in England, grappling with the ramifications of a nuclear war breaking out. The movie is full of raw footage of human suffering and is said to have left audiences numb in horror. So much so that audiences of its initial release reported: "that people had just sat there thinking about it, in many cases not sleeping or being able to talk." Ronald Reagan, the president of the United States at the time, was said to have watched the film as did many British politicians. Given the research done to make the film as close of a depiction of a real nuclear exchange, how did this and other depictions of nuclear war – like The Day After (1983) – shape the public’s view of mutually assured destruction (M.A.D. theory) as a military strategy, if at all?

    • 'Threads' was one of those moments in TV history, like the release of 'Edge of Darkness' (1985), that made me wonder if people were finally beginning to wake up to the real horrors of the nuclear arms race. Maybe they did, for a while, but then everyone seemed to go back to sleep. – Amyus 5 years ago

    Tommy Wiseau, The Room, and Watchability.

    The Room, an American romance film directed by Tommy Wiseau has been labeled one of the worst films in history. And yet, the film has a cult following and is watched from the view of what some call Camp, a taste towards terrible cinema. What can one make of the viewing experience of those who enjoy a film that is reviewed by critics and audiences as terrible? What does this tell us about how people watch and enjoy a film?

    • Terrible movies such as "The Room" and "Troll 2" are entertaining because they turned out to be comedies, when they were supposed to be anything but. Maybe the directors really did want to make some sort of satire or comedy with these films, but in all likelihood they had serious intentions. Because of these intentions, we get amusing films. – Jusmey1983 5 years ago
    • The Room is a common example of the irony in any sort of creative production, where something is just so bad, that people are attracted to seeing it. In an industry with blockbuster films that take months to make and millions of dollars, viewing The Room is almost like a collective laugh at the ridiculousness and incredulity that something so bad could make it to the silver screen. – Huntforpurpose 5 years ago

    Films about the Financial Crisis and their influence on audiences?

    The recent movie The Big Short, based on a book by the same name, features a number of high ranking actors and received positive reviews. And yet the movie, like Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and The Wolf of Wall Street spend a lot of time focused on the finance industry and the recent financial crisis. Do films like this inform us for the better or leave us with a sense of dizziness and circularity, that history can and will repeat itself again?

    • I don't think that any mainstream film will ever truly help to educate the masses about the inherently corrupt banking system. What we see instead are 'smoke and mirrors' designed to mislead us into thinking that, despite numerous scandals, crashes and frauds, the system will somehow clean-up its own mess, which it never does - and time after time it is we who foot the bill. I've already recommended 'Four Horsemen' (2012) in reply to another topic suggestion. This film is just as relevant to this topic suggestion. – Amyus 5 years ago
    • Love this topic. I think all of those movies you picked do a pretty good job of informing audiences on many complexities of the financial industry without feeling too overwhelming. Especially with The Big Short, I think the flaws in the system are outlined in a fairly understandable way; whether or not and how these flaws might be addressed so as to avoid similar crises in the future is less clear. Despite their digestibility, these movies don’t exactly leave me feeling optimistic that things won’t repeat themselves, so maybe it’s not one or the other, but a little of both. A couple of other films I might recommend for this topic are Margin Call and the HBO adaptation of the book Too Big to Fail (though that’s a made-for-tv film). – bradleyhewittk 5 years ago

    How do T.V. depictions of politics shape our interactions with real politics?

    Characters who hold political office have been portrayed for television in a number of cases. Take those in the White House for example, whether it is House of Cards, Madam Secretary or The West Wing. Shows like these often capture corruption, tie in to real world events and provide some insight into the work of government. A recent study (link) showed how Argo and Zero Dark Thirty changed respondents view of government and others (link) have also explored the connection between political T.V. fiction and political engagement. Does this empower us, deceive us or inform us as political actors who vote, commentate and follow real world politics?

    • May I suggest also taking a look at political satire. There was an excellent British comedy series titled 'Yes, Minister' (and its follow-up series 'Yes, Prime Minister'), which was not only hugely popular with TV viewers, but was frequently acknowledged by members of parliament to be uncannily close to the truth, concerning the blunders made by government. In many ways political satire can tell us a great deal more about the true workings of government. I'm sure there are American series that deal with the same. – Amyus 5 years ago
    • I definitely would consider tying in the actions of Edward Snowden, who released top government secrets to the people to show that our government was doing questionable things, and some of those actions have been bases for movies and popular TV shows. Shows like Castle, about the NYPD and other aspects, highlighted quite frequently the corruption in political positions and even in the police department as well. These shows offer real life scenarios that could easily occur or are occurring at this moment. Definitely something to consider looking into! – reschilke 5 years ago

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    Latest Comments


    Really interesting and thoughtful piece of writing here. Thank you for contributing. Got me thinking.

    Writing About Place

    Interesting read. Thank you for sharing.

    One Punch Man vs. My Hero Academia: Reconstructing the Silver Age of Comics

    Liked Rogue One and think that more spin-off films that focus on the events of the original movies should be made. There is a lot of back story and gaps between A New Hope and Return of the Jedi which means more spin-offs are possible.

    Star Wars: Andor Could Shine A Light On The Darker Aspects of Rebellion

    It was a very cool movie when it came out and it helped Marvel attract a younger audience. I think that it was surprising for Sony that it was such a success given that as an idea it was kind of risky.

    Into the Spider-Verse Provides Hope for Mainstream Animation

    Marvel seems very lost in the multi-verse concept at the moment. It makes things very one-dimensional story-wise and leaves me kind of thinking that maybe the multi-verse is what is impacted Marvel’s most recent movie success.

    Marvel Movies and the Multiverse: Different Worlds, Same People

    Great read. Thank you for contributing.

    The Mystery Behind the Influence of Instagram and The Popular Culture Industry

    Thanks for sharing this. I found it insightful. I find Japanese culture fascinating and this was a really interesting discussion of a part of it I have wanted to know more about.

    Japan: Art, Eroticism, and Religion

    This is a great read. Nice work!

    The Donald Show: Trump, Television, and Manufactured Reality