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!
The author's propriety.
The “artist”, the “creator”, as inherited from the Greek mythology and culture, is someone whose creative genius is inspired by the Gods or the Muses. There is something divine to it, something that transcends earthly concerns. Therefore, within the realm of art, any exterior and coercive influence is usually viewed as inherently bad or, at least, as suspicious.
It is particularly striking in the film industry, with the determining role of the studios. Some movies have several “cuts” because the original vision didn’t match the producers’ idea of the film, or the imposed length. (For instance, Blade Runner has been through seven different “cuts”, even though, today, the “director’s cut” is the most famous.) Actors’ demands or changes among creative teams, for instance, can also modify the original vision and first idea of a movie. 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. Indeed, sometimes, some publishing houses may refuse a manuscript or impose drastic corrections.
However, on the other hand, some creators have been criticized for clinging too much to their work. For instance: the additions to the Harry Potter saga, J.K. Rowling made via Twitter. While some were globally well-received, others sparked controversy, whether because they were considered unneeded information, or because they felt like a desperate and clumsy attempt to debunk some small incoherence in the original saga. In the same way, many critics and viewers didn’t praise Ridley Scott’s attempt to, in a way, “regain control” of the Alien’s saga, with his two prequels: Prometheus and Alien Covenant.
Viewers, then, also have power over artistic creation. Their expectations and hopes can influence the way a show is written. And if those expectations are ignored or badly handled, it can lead the audience rating to drop.
Therefore, to what extent an author remains the master of his work? Once a book, a film, or TV show enters the creation process, does it still belong solely to the author? What about once it is released? Does it, at some point, 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?
The Last of Us Part II: Why is it so divisive?
Recently, The Last Last of Us Part II won Game of the Year, while, last June, a few weeks before the official release, journalists and critics praised it highly. On Metacritic, critics score is high: 93/100.
However, the user review is way less eulogistic: 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 and cleaving game. But why is that?
Critics and players almost unanimously praised the graphics and the technical aspects of the game. The divide seems to lies with the narrative and the storytelling of the game. To some, this new opus made bold choices, cleverly subverted expectations, and carried powerful messages. To others, it utterly betrayed the first game and is filled with character inconsistencies and clumsy shortcuts.
How can we, then, explain the gap between those two antagonistic standpoints?
(To do so, one may examine the different plot tricks, gaming devices, or filming effects the game uses, more or less subtly, and the emotional and psychological reactions it is supposed to have on the audience. Plus, as one of the bones of contention is Abby’s character and her narrative arc, empathy is one of the meta-themes of the game: what kind of empathy characters in the game may or may not build towards each other, but, more prominently, what type of empathy a player may or may not develop towards such and such character. Indeed, at least three different kinds of empathies may be at play in the game: emotional empathy, cognitive empathy, and rational empathy or compassion. The kind of empathy one may develop, or, on the contrary, loose, towards such or such character can influence their appreciation regarding the game.)
literatureWrite this topic
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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
And, finally, to what extent platform like Netflix may or may not have changed this tendency and these biases?
Thank you very much! I hope you’ll enjoy the reading!
They’re great books too, indeed. The Plague (La Peste), may also be, in some ways at least, quite relevant regarding the current covid-19 pandemic!
Thank you very much!
The Pest is a very deep and interesting book, indeed, especially during the current pandemic! I completely agree! On that subject, in France, The Pest was among the highest book sales of the first lockdown!
If you read The Stranger, I hope you’ll find it as much enjoyable!
Thanks again for your comment!
To be completely honest, I only read extracts of Zadig, but I think I would still prefer Candide or Micromegas too!
Interestingly, I recently had a talk with a friend about how it may be easier to start reading famous and classic authors through their short stories, or their less-known works!
Thank you very much for your comment!
Avec grand plaisir! Quels sont les titres qui t’intéressent le plus, si ce n’est pas indiscret ?
(My pleasure ! What would be the titles you’d be interested in, if that’s okay to ask?)
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!
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!
Thank you very much! I’m glad I could introduce you to French literature! Happy reading! 🙂