Just a French student, not quite fluent in English yet, but with a tremendous passion for literature, TV shows, and movies, hoping I can bring my stone to the building!

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    The Last of Us: why and how is it such a highly divisive game?

    The Last Last of Us Part II recently won Game of the Year. Last June, a few weeks before the official release, journalists and critics, who had access to the game a little earlier, praised it highly. On Metacritic, critics review is very good: 93/100.

    However, the user review is way less eulogistic, with only 5.7/10, with almost as many negative critics than positive ones: about 35 000, against about 36 000. (As a comparison, there are no negative critics among the critics’ reviews.). It is also worth noting that, on both sides, there are relatively few mixed critics: around 4 000 for users and 8 for critics.

    The Last of Us II is, then, a very polarizing game. But why?

    Though it might, to some extent, be relevant in part, we can’t reduce this gap to an “elitism issue” we could grossly sum up as, either ‘ignorant’ average player vs ‘enlightened’ critics (/players), or ‘honest’ average player vs ‘arrogant’ critics (/players). It would be rude, but also incorrect. Indeed, some negative critics come from players with a solid background in analyzing tropes, narrative schemes, character development, etc., and who are familiar with the audiovisual industry. Some YouTubers, with such knowledge and background, made videos breaking the game down, or offering their rewriting of this second opus. (While others, with similar knowledge and background, on the contrary, defended the game.).

    Therefore, how can we explain, more astutely, such a divide between players, between players and critics, and, to some extent, between critics?

    At some point, the Metacritic user’s score was even lower (somewhere between 3 and 4). Does playing the game a second time – or taking the time to reflect on the first play – may help to appreciate the game more? If so, why? And how?

    The creators seemed to be aware they made some bold narrative decisions. Why did they decide to take them, despite the risks? What did they may have wanted the players to feel, to see, to love (or, perhaps, to hate) with those choices?


      The author's propriety. 

      Within the realm of art, any exterior and coercive influence is generally viewed as inherently bad or, at least, as suspicious.

      The role of the studios in film production is particularly striking. Some movies, such as Blade Runner, for instance, have several “cuts” (seven, for Blade Runner, though the “director’s cut” is, today, the most famous). In the meantime, extended versions of movies are released, with exclusive content originally cut because the movie was too long for the studio – "Aliens", to quote only one example, but there are plenty.
      Actors’ demands or changes in the writers’ team, for instance, can also modify the original vision – sometimes for the better, but sometimes for the worse. Fans’ expectations, hopes, or imagination, especially in TV shows, can either influence the way the show is written, or, on the other end, have the audience rating dropping because those expectations are ignored or badly handled. 

      Such mechanisms are particularly striking in the audiovisual, as the creating process is, from the beginning, plural. Yet, we can draw some parallels with the literary field, as well. Sometimes, some publishing houses may refuse a manuscript or impose drastic corrections, even if, in the end, they are useless. For instance,  Swann’s Way (the first volume of the very famous In Search Of Lost Time, by Marcel Proust), was published at the author’s expense, as no publishing house wanted it, at the time. We could also evoke JK Rowling’s additions to the Harry Potter saga, through the internet and social media, years after the saga ended, sometimes as answers to fans, sometimes of her own initiative. The rise of fanfictions could also enter the subject. 

      Therefore, to what extend an author remains the master of his work? Once a book, a film, or TV show is in the creation process or is released, does it still belong solely to the author, or does it automatically become part of a larger community, which also has some right of inspection? If so, what are, or should be, the power of this larger community?

      • Roland Barthes' essay 'Death of the Author' might fit within this discussion. It argues that the author's identity should not form part of their text's interpretation. Therefore, one might conclude that, once a story has been read or viewed, it is up to the reader/viewer to decide what happens outside of the story world; not the author. – Samantha Leersen 12 hours ago

      Artists wanting their work destroyed: can they?

      Commonly, one of the criteria to judge a great book is its longevity. A book that is read by many, studied by students or scholars, republished by publishing companies, decades after its authors died, is, with little doubt, a great piece of literature.
      Yet, some authors expressed the wish that their works – published and unpublished novel, plays, poetry, as well as notebook or library – should be burnt, after their death: Franz Kafka, for instance, or classic author Virgil.
      Why did they want their work destroyed? Is it only personal or psychological reasons? Or is there a literary standpoint behind these wishes? If so, which one?
      On the other hand, how can we understand their family, friends, publisher “betrayal”? How did they explain it?

      Are there, today, artists who expressed similar wishes? Is their explanation different from other past writers? Are their wishes likely to be respected – on a legal level, but also considering the impact the internet and social media could have on the matter?

      Or, more, generally speaking, once a book (or film, or TV show…) is released, does it still belong solely to the author, or does it automatically become part of a larger community, which also has some right of inspection?

      • Book recommendation with relevance to this topic: "The Dark Side of Creativity: Blocks, Unfinished Works, and the Urge to Destroy" by Cecile Nebel (1988) – ProtoCanon 1 week ago

      Titles in TV shows

      Despite not being a part of the show per se, episodes’ titles can be very important and conscientiously made and choose by the creators. Indeed, they may reveal clues about the plot. They may add up to something, they may be little enigmas, they may seem incomprehensible at first, they can be cultural or academic references… For instance, Blindspot’s convoluted titles are in fact anagrams, the titles of Mr. Robot’s episodes from season one to three are written in Leet Speak, while in the recent Netflix show Warrior Nun each title is a reference to an extract of the Bible in connection with the episode’s plot. Other titles may include puns or schematics. Some titles’ format may become a tradition throughout the show.

      From there, many questions can come to mind. Can we discern trends, whether historical or thematic? Is there some TV shows that stand out for their particularly clever use of episodes’ (or show’s) titles? 

      To what extent can we say that titles are a part of an implicit pact between the creators and the viewers? With platforms like Netflix and the increasing temptation to binge-watch our favorite shows, we may be paying less attention to the titles and the cuttings, therefore, to what extent are titles still relevant? How the pact previously mentioned could evolve in the future?

      • Favorite episode title choice is "Ozymandias" from Breaking Bad Season 5. The title tells you everything you need to know about the episode by referring Percy Shelley's poem. I also like a lot of Halt and Catch Fire's episode title which reference 1980s Computer Commands/Systems, song titles, and cultural ideas. I feel like those help ground the viewer in its 1980s-1990s world and are a treat for people who understand the references. – Sean Gadus 6 months ago
      • An interesting idea. Are there are studies showing the title of a episode matters? I remember in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the title of the episode was announced at the beginning of some shows on TV. – Joseph Cernik 6 months ago

      How do leaks affect both the audience and the creators?

      Recently some of The Last Of US II plot and gameplay leaked; a few months ago some elements of the new Star Wars The Rise Of Skywalker were released on the internet before the movie itself; and about a year ago, Game Of Thrones major plot’s elements of the last season were revealed before it aired. How could those leaks have affected or could affect the audience (or the gamer community), whether it is on its viewing (gaming) experience or on the decision to pay to see the movie/the tv show (or buy the game)? What do the reactions following such leaks may reveal about the ‘dark side’ of some fandom? And, on the other hand, how the risk of leaks impacts on the creators’ work? How those new threats are taken into consideration by directors, filmmakers, producers, etc.? How are they, then, received by the audience?

      • Tom Holland is supposedly never given the complete script as he is infamous for leaking plot details accidentally. – Dr. Vishnu Unnithan 7 months ago

      How video games may have influenced the way movies are made, and vice-versa?

      After watching Sam Mendes’ movie 1917, I heard someone saying that the movie reminded him of a video game. I don’t know if he was referring to the story itself, to the way the movie was shot, or to both, but it had me thinking. To what extent video games may have influenced the way movies are shot and stories built? (In the case of 1917, or in general.) And, vice-versa, some video games like The Last Of Us or Red Dead Redemption 2 can almost be watched like movies. So, to what extent movies have influenced the way video games are designed and built?

      • God of War 2018 did something similar and even boasted about being "1 continuous shot" for the entire game, so some game makers are thinking about some of the same ideas as film makers. – Sean Gadus 9 months ago
      • I think this is a great topic and also a topic of much discussion in cinema and video game studies. The film Run Lola Run can also be a good source to start thinking about around this theme. – Srijita 8 months ago
      • I think Spielberg's Ready Player One is a good movie for reference. Video game is the theme of this movie and the film is structured according to a game's mode. – XiaoYang 8 months ago

      The figure of the Devil in TV shows

      Popular culture, and TV shows, in particular, are prone to use and revisit mythical figures, religious allegories, and biblical references, and, among, them, the Devil. Whether he is called Lucifer or Satan, the one who rebelled against God and have incarnated evil ever since seems to be an everlasting source of inspiration for screenwriters, creators, and showrunners. However, in recent shows like Supernatural, and, even more, in Lucifer, the Devil is – to a degree at least, especially in Supernatural where he is and stays an antagonist – humanized. His so-called evilness is – once again, to a degree – nuanced, and there is more to his psychology than evil for evil’s sake. It is especially flagrant in Lucifer, as Lucifer is the main character. He is a hero with flaws and qualities, a hero confronted to very human dilemmas, to fear, to loss, to love, a hero we are rooting for.
      How Devil-like characters have been written and treated? As it evolved? Can we discern a tendency, in recent TV shows, to develop, or even humanize, the Devil? How is it done? How could such a tendency be related to the evolution of the “Good vs Evil” trope? And, potentially, what are the exceptions to the recent transformations – or lack of transformation, if we can’t discern a real tendency – and how can we explain them?

      • Great topic. Other shows to consider covering: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina; Reaper; 666 Park Avenue; Good Omens. – Emily Deibler 9 months ago
      • Definitely an interesting topic for discussion! However, it bears pointing out that the idea of the Devil not being pure evil isn't new. It actually goes back to John Milton's Paradise Lost, which was written in the 1600's. – Debs 9 months ago
      • Very good topic! I would suggest, if you can, looking into South Park's Satan, who is very much confronted with the human dilemma of love and sexuality. Some films that I would suggest would be the Ghost Rider films and The Devil's Advocate. I believe that there is a Paradise Lost reference in Advocate. – tolkienfan 9 months ago
      • Also include a reiteration from anime. They have some pretty weird stuff there. (Devil is a Part-Timer, Blue Exorcist, Devilman Crybaby) – OkaNaimo0819 8 months ago
      • I'm wondering if this topic can be approached in an historical way: How the devil was seen in 1930s movies versus now, for example. – Joseph Cernik 6 months ago

      Non-American movies (or TV shows) in the USA, and across the world.

      Though I’m French, an overwhelming majority of the movies (and TV shows) I’ve watched are American, or, at least, from anglophone countries. So, I wondered… a few things!

      Pell-mell: How are foreign movies seen in the US? And/Or in the English-speaking world? And/Or across the world?

      Is there foreign movies (or TV show) – French ones, for instance – that are strongly rooted in the American culture, or in any other culture that differs from where the movie is originally from? And if so, why have those movies made such an impact?
      Are there biases depending on a movie (or TV show) origin?

      And, finally, to what extent platform like Netflix may or may not have changed this tendency and these biases?

      • I also think moving this to TV would be really fruitful with Money Heist and lots of Scandi dramas infiltrating the mainstream too. – Marcus Dean 10 months ago
      • I watch non American shows like Elite (Spanish teen series) and other Turkish and Arabic television series. One of my favorite Turkish series that streams on Netflix is called "Fi", which is a psychological thriller. – nsafwat 10 months ago
      • As you mentioned, it is essential to talk about the importance of Netflix. The company, unlike other streaming services, has built quite a strong reputation bringing, producing and distributing quality foreign series and movies to North American viewers.I think it is also fair to talk about the recent popularity of movies such as Parasite, Roma or I lost my body. – kpfong83 10 months ago

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      Latest Comments

      That is an interesting question!
      Personally, I’m not sure Camus’ goal is to take position, either with or against his character. Though, in the preface to the American edition, Camus admits that, with some irony, he does care for Meursault, with the affection an author can feel for his character. (I couldn’t find the text in English, so this is a rewording).
      In this same preface, he explains that the question to ask is not why Meursault refuses to play the “game”, but how does he refuse, by what means does he refuse the “game”. To that, Camus answers: he refuses to lie. He refuses to lie about everything, and especially about the “things of the heart” (once again, it is a paraphrase) and the small lies, the small omissions or additions to make life easier we – as a society – say or demand. We could see there a kind of heroism in the character. However, Camus adds that this passion for absolute and truth is a negative search, of a negative truth. Camus doesn’t see Meursault as an “empty wreck”, but as a “poor and naked man”.
      To me, Camus’ goal isn’t to punish anyone or protest against anything, but ‘simply’ show the mechanism of this Absurd, but I may be wrong… That is a very interesting question, anyway! Thank you!

      Books to Discover French Literature

      I’ve only read and seen Molière in French, but I can get why his plays may not be as good once translated into another language. (It goes both ways, of course, I’m sure Shakespeare in the original language is way better and enjoyable than a translated Shakespeare!)
      I agree L’Avare is so good! I also deeply enjoy Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme!
      Thank you for your passionate comment!

      Books to Discover French Literature

      Thank you very much! I’m glad I could introduce you to French literature! Happy reading! 🙂

      Books to Discover French Literature
      Books to Discover French Literature

      I would tend to disagree on that point. What do you mean by a “good read” and “quality”? I’m not at all trying to argue that French literature is ‘better’ (or ‘worse’) than other literature, as I have no legitimacy to do so! I am, however, curious about which criteria you base your comment on. Could you develop?
      If you’re talking quantity (“infinitely”), the Anglo-Saxon world is vaster than sole France, of course, so, statistically speaking… We could also argue that Anglo-Saxon literature is, at least today, more covered in the media on a world scale than French literature. The time frame or the genre could also be an argument, going one way or the other. How literature is taught in both areas could also be a part of the debate! There is an interesting discussion there!
      Though I personally don’t think you can place one literature above another that easily, targeting one specific aspect of literature and comparing countries or languages may be an interesting, though complex, exercise!

      Books to Discover French Literature

      Well, it is Camus’ first book within his “Cycle of the Absurd”!

      Books to Discover French Literature

      There is something very “romanesque” and teeming to it, indeed!

      Books to Discover French Literature

      The conversation with the priest is, indeed, rather striking!

      Books to Discover French Literature