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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics


    The Glamorization of Controversial Issues in TV and Film

    It’s important to address sensitive and controversial topics in television and film. Oftentimes, however, these shows and movies can come off as glamorizing and using these issues for pure entertainment purposes.

    For instance, Thirteen Reasons Why faced backlash for its portrayal of depression and suicide. Another example would be the depiction of Joe Goldberg, a killer and stalker, in Netflix’s YOU and how it caused some viewers to lust for him. Likwise, the brief movie trailer for Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile where Zac Efron plays Ted Bundy had many people upset about how the trailer seemed to romanticize the killer.

    Do these shows and movies use controversial topics and issues as a mechanism for entertainment? And if yes, to what extent? Perhaps, it invites discussion and attention to these issues that people would not have become a part of had they not seen these shows and movies in the first place.

    Analyze how shows and films approach controversial and sensitive topics, how viewers respond to it, and what this ultimately reveals about our society.

    • As I read this, I was thinking of "Lovelace" starring Amanda Seyfried, who played Linda Lovelace from the move Deep Throat. Essentially, "Lovelace" was two movies in one, showing different ways of looking at the main character. It might be possible to think of the movies you address being presented in the same way--perhaps an image that some might have versus something closer to the horror these individuals were. – Joseph Cernik 5 years ago
    • I think about this topic often because stories of dealing with trauma, mental illness, etc. are some of the most engaging narratives, but the handling of these controversial issues are almost directly in conflict with the purpose of film and television - to entertain. Very few, if any, shows and films balance these purposes in a way that satisfies most viewers, but I do believe these issues need to be presented in these mediums since they are affecting a large portion of the societies they are released to. I would love to see this topic addressed in more detail to see if there is a potential structure or set of guidelines that should be followed to help present controversial topics in a healthier way. Lastly, Sharp Objects is another excellent example that graphically portrays issues such as trauma, self-harm, and depression with visceral detail that has been simultaneously praised as a raw exploration of difficult subjects and critiqued as entertainment designed to draw attention based on the grotesque, shock-value alone. It's a difficult line to tow, but it's an important one. Great topic! – Aaron 5 years ago
    • I feel that Hollywood has capitalized on the exploitation of sensational events. I cannot believe the disgusting movie made about the two ten year old psychopaths that intentionally kidnapped and murdered a toddler. This film is being nominated for an award when in reality it is a gross display of manipulation trying to get the audience to feel sorry for two sociopathic narcissists. No consideration or remuneration was given to the mother of the victim and she repeatedly asked that the film not be made . The director wanted to profit and did not care about the mother, perhaps he is a narcissist too.He knew he was placing a mother in a living hell having to relive the murder of her baby. I think Hollywood has always lacked a moral compass and is disgusting, frankly.l I prefer films from Europe and Latin America. – youngmollflanders 5 years ago

    Ex Machina: Is Caleb a Robot?

    In Ex Machina, Caleb is picked to have conversations with an artificial intelligence, Ava. While it is clear that Ava is an android, Caleb is introduced as human. However, there have been many theories that Caleb himself is a robot. Caleb even suspected that he might not be human at one point and slices his arm open to confirm it.

    What details in the movie and Caleb’s characterization point to the possibility that he’s an android? For starters, Caleb is introduced to us like a blank slate and sometimes appears robotic. During his conversations with Ava, he’s the one in the box, while Ava has free space to roam her room. When asked whether he likes Mozart, Caleb says he likes “Depeche Mode,” a music group in the electronic genre. Even his reaction to cutting his arm open is unsettling.

    Perhaps, if Caleb isn’t an android, other questions that can be addressed is: Why was he picked to test Ava? What does his character bring to the realm of artificial intelligence? Was he doomed from the start or did he have a chance? How is his characterization approached in the film and does it offer any insight to human interaction with artificial intelligence, such as an emphasis to the differences (or similarities) between humans and androids?

    • So I may be mistaken because I haven't seen it in a while, but isn't there a scene where Caleb cuts open his arm with a razor to see that he isn't a robot? – Sean Gadus 5 years ago
    • Yes, you’re right! That scene is meant to debunk the whole “Caleb is a robot" theory. He bleeds, thus he’s human. I guess to me the scene still seemed kind of unsettling and off in some way. Caleb’s reaction was strange with the smearing the blood and punching the mirror. Also, the way he vertically cuts his arm could actually be pretty damaging to his veins but he seemed unfazed from the pain. This might be pushing it but in the film Nathan tells Caleb that the model after Ava is going to be more advanced and groundbreaking. By more advanced, he could mean more human. Perhaps, a more humanized android would be able to mimic bleeding like a human. After reviewing the movie though, I think the topic would be more sound if it also revolved around Caleb’s characterization and what it shows about human interaction with artificial intelligence rather than only whether Caleb is a robot. – jay 5 years ago

    Gothic Literature and its Impact on Modern Day Horror

    While gothic literature and horror are separate genres, the two share a connection in inducing similar emotions of fear and thus often overlap with each other. Explore both genres in relation to each other, such as the genres’ similarities and differences. How has earlier gothic literature novels influenced later works of horror?

    Some gothic literature works that an be focused on is The Castle of Otranto, Frankenstein, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The Mysteries of Udolpho. The popularity of Stephen King’s works in both literature and film in addition to the great amount of praise Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House received can also be other points of interest for this topic.

    • I guess the focus of an article is how selected modern horror is connected, or has been influenced, by gothic literature. How can make it an interesting article. – Joseph Cernik 5 years ago
    • Gothic Literature relies on horror and terror, as elements to evoke a supernatural environment in the setting. Horror is what contracts the soul, that the recipient feels dreaded by its presence, and terror expands the soul and awakens the faculties of imagination. I am paraphrasing from Ann Radcliff's "On the Supernatural in Poetry". You can refer to it if you wish to understand the workings and the distinction between horror and terror in gothic literature. I guess you can work your articles on these lines and find the influences in modern cinematic horror. I cannot really comment much as i did not watch The Haunting of Hill House – Azira101phale 5 years ago
    • You have to trace the origins of Gothic horror novels and their influence on every horror film ever made back to The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. This novella is the social construct for almost all haunted house movies and how a house can possess its inhabitants. The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix took several plot lines and elements of Gothic horror from James horror novella. So, to conclude, one must study The Turn of the Screw if you really want to reveal the nexus between Gothic literature and the modern day horror film. – latracey 5 years ago

    Nostalgia in the Modern Era

    Discuss and analyze how many tv series adapt a sense of nostalgia. Many hit tv shows present an underlying sense of nostalgia. For instance, Hulu’s This is Us intertwines plot events that take place in not only the present but also the past. In Netflix’s Stranger Things, the series takes place in the 1980s. Aside from these examples, there have also been many older shows that have gotten modern day spinoffs: Boy Meets World and Girl Meets World, Full House and Fuller House, and That’s So Raven and Raven’s House. How does nostalgia function in tv and what does it say about our society?

    • A fruitful avenue might be comparing our contemporary nostalgia for the 80's with the swell of nostalgia for the 50's in the late 70's and 80's (e.g., Grease, Back to the Future, Happy Days), maybe asking how and why three decades seem to be the magic number for these intense waves of nostalgia. – Allie Dawson 6 years ago
    • Nostalgia can be a way to understand change on a personal level. We all look back and the older you get the farther you look back. Looking back can include nostalgia as in not really seeing that past as it really was but in distorted ways. So being aware of nostalgia helps to provide a grounding that looking back and trying to draw some lessons or observations needs to be done with care because what we are basing our insight on may be a distorted image of the past. When people say "Kids today," or "In my day," then go off on a rant about what they don't like, they are often doing so based on a distorted or embellished image of the past. – Joseph Cernik 6 years ago

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    Latest Comments


    Good job addressing the many qualities that make Mulan such a great character. I liked the relatability section a lot and how you emphasized Mulan’s connection to many different groups of people. Growing up, I’ve watched Mulan many times and have always enjoyed the movie!

    Mulan's Relatability, Self-Discovery, and Selfishness

    I felt the same way about the book! That’s actually one of the reasons why I found the story interesting.

    The Handmaid's Tale in the Modern Eye

    I’ve never really realized how many different versions and changes there were to Batman’s origin story. It’s really interesting to see how each change still works accordingly to his character. I most definitely agree with you about how Batman’s humanity is what makes him so relatable and timeless. I have watched Batman cartoons since I was a child and still enjoy watching anything that involves Batman even now!

    Why Has Batman's Origin Remained So Iconic?

    Great discussion of The Dark Knight and True Detective and their relationship to one another! I most definitely agree with you about how Batman and the Joker are “two equal, yet opposite forces.” You raise a lot of interesting points. Good job!

    Light Versus Dark In The Dark Knight and True Detective

    I know how you feel! I always took breaks in between watching episodes since the content was pretty dark. The story is most definitely overwhelming but I like how it addresses and draws attention to multiple societal issues.

    The Handmaid's Tale in the Modern Eye

    I haven’t gotten a chance to see The Shape of Water but did get to see A Quiet Place. I thoroughly enjoyed A Quiet Place and how ASL played such a huge role to the movie. Wonderful article and good job addressing important topics regarding ASL and the Deaf community!

    Visual Medium, Visual Language: American Sign Language in Film

    Great article! Loved how you analyzed the film in a different angle and focused on the negative aspects of isolationism. You did a great job at connecting the film to our real world and emphasizing the importance of helping others in need.

    The Moral Horror of Black Panther

    Thank you so much! I loved the novel, too, and was super excited when I first heard about the show. I agree with you about how the show impacts today’s culture and hope that it continues to do so!

    The Handmaid's Tale in the Modern Eye