I've been writing since fourth grade and blogging since 2014. I've been a nerd my whole life.

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Latest Articles

Latest Topics


The Power of Movie Musical Protagonists

In the world of movie musicals and musical episodes of TV shows, characters process their emotions and make decisions through song-and-dance numbers. The protagonists of these stories often seem to have an uncanny ability to influence people around them and make them break into song and dance.

In Encanto, Mirabelle’s gift seems to be making her family sing about their feelings, especially when they don’t want to talk about them: she makes Luisa admit she’s nervous about the Pressure, she gets the whole family to sing about Bruno, etc.
In the High School Musical series, Troy Bolton turns a basketball practice into a song-and-dance number because he can’t stop thinking about musical theatre. Then he convinces all of his friends to work at a country club even though it’s hard.

In The Greatest Showman, P.T. Barnum uses the power of song-and-dance to turn his group of social outcasts into the greatest show on Earth and to convince Zac Efron’s character to join his team.

If the songs are diegetic (the characters are aware they are singing and dancing), they are conscious choices by the characters, so they can be considered part of the characters’ development. If the songs are non-diegetic (only the audience is aware of what’s happening), they are mainly plot devices.

Other examples include Zooey’s Extraordinary Playlist, The Flash/Supergirl crossover "Duet," and The Magicians’ annual musical episodes.

Analyze the narrative impact of these characters and their musical influence. Does this phenomenon work better as character development, a plot device, or a combination of both?

  • You could also discuss Orpheus in Hadestown, who is both a musician and musical protagonst (with Eurydices). Singing is part of his identity in the show. – Sean Gadus 6 months ago

Mario, Link, and Scott Pilgrim: Relationships in Video Games

Scott Pilgrim vs The World uses a video-game-like series of boss battles as a thinly veiled metaphor for relationship drama. It has been compared to Mario’s video game series, in which the hero fights giant gorillas and dragon turtles in order to win back his lady love. The Legend of Zelda is another famous example of this trope. What other video games and game-related movies portray relationships with this kind of drama? What are the pros and cons of the different portrayals? Are these relationships healthy? If not, is that made clear enough to dissuade people from following their example?

  • Examples include Legend of Zelda, Mario, Scott Pilgrim, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Edge of Tomorrow (Live Die Repeat). – noahspud 11 months ago
  • I'd recommend tackling Scott Pilgrims source material the graphic novels and what it has to say about video games and romance. Especially since the video game is based on the movie which is rushed and lacks a proper payoff that the comics have. – Roneish 10 months ago

The Hulk's Character Development (or lack thereof)

The Incredible Hulk is the movie most likely to be forgotten when thinking about the MCU. Arguably, its poor reception is the reason Mark Ruffalo has yet to get his own Hulk movie. Because Hulk/Bruce Banner doesn’t get solo movies like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, all of his character development has to happen in the Avengers movies and Thor: Ragnarok. Analyze what arc or Hero’s Journey he has, if any. Perhaps compare his arc to that of other Avengers.

  • I'm not certain why Mark Ruffalo never got a solo Movie as the Hulk. But, the reason Edward Norton was let go of was, due to problematic interactions with the rest of the cast. I think this topic is interesting as many fans complained about Ruffalo's and Johanson having no romantic chemistry in the films. I would say his arc is more about gaining control over his darker nature (something we see at the happen in Avenger End Game.) – Blackcat130 1 year ago
  • I think this is a good topic. Mark Ruffalo was a major star even before his casting as the Hulk, so for him to not have his own solo film is definitely a question mark on the studio's part. I think it's also interesting to look at his relationships with the other characters and Avengers as a whole. Why is he now paired with Thor? Why did his relationship with Black Widow not grab audiences attention? Also of note is that Ruffalo has worked with multiple directors in his turn as the Hulk, including Joss Whedon, the Russo Brothers, and Taika Waititi. It might be interesting to analyze which of these directors, if any, have captured the strongest essence of who the Hulk should be. – Sarah 1 year ago
  • To clarify something. The main reason the Hulk has only appeared in team-up movies and hasn't been given the solo treatment is that the film rights to a Hulk solo film are still with Universal studios, rendering Marvel's ability to produce a solo Hulk film themselves impossible. If you go back to look at the 2008 Edward Norton Hulk film, it is produced by Marvel Studios but distributed by Universal. Seen as how big Marvel, also Disney, is right now, it is unlikely they would want to have another studio distribute the film and get all the revenue. This is also different from the deal Marvel and Sony made for Spiderman, since the box office revenue and production cost are shared between Marvel and Sony if I remember correctly. – askthepen 7 months ago
  • All these comments render the topic's premises inaccurate. It's not always about character development or arcs only. – T. Palomino 3 weeks ago

Pros and Cons of Fan Theories

Theorizing about things going on in TV/movies/books that may or may not ever be confirmed in canon is a favorite pastime of many fans. But some fan theories take the fun out of things rather than inspiring fun conversations. Analyze what features or circumstances, if any, make a fan theory "worth considering" or not.
Examples to consider include Jon Negroni’s Unified Theory of the Pixar Theory, the 007 Codename Theory, and any of the "They were dead the whole time" theories.

  • This is an interesting discussion, and fan theorizing has certainly boomed alongside social media. It might also be helpful to consider how fan theories might have an affect on ongoing creative work. Fans often theorize what might be happening in a show or series before the finale is written. Do writers ignore these theories? Do the intentionally thwart them? Or do they read fan theories for inspiration? – JaniceElaine 1 year ago
  • One pro I find is that several fans (presumably from all over the world) are able to geek about their respective fandom, and get together and engage in whatever they are discussing. It is a great way to discuss new ideas, and further immerse oneself into the show/game/whatever a group is talking about. One con, however, is someone can go too far with proposing a theory and not letting anyone discuss their disagreements with said theory. People are allowed to have their own ideas, but only if they are allowed to open up criticism to the theories they present. – DrSpaghet 1 year ago

What Makes a Scientist

Dr. Henry Jekyll, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, Doc Emmet Brown, Dr. Walter Bishop from Fringe, and characters like them throughout literature and film are categorized as "mad scientists." Sometimes it’s because their science is taboo or outside what society believes is even possible; sometimes they’re suspected of madness or some other kind of mental illness; sometimes it’s both. Why are these characters appealing to audiences, even if they’re not well-liked by the fictional societies they live in.

An analysis could include comparing them to real-life scientists like Galileo and Copernicus who were considered "kooks" but turned out to be right. Also, consider how driven these characters are to prove their theories, even pushing moral and societal boundaries – if they weren’t actually mad before, they can more easily be perceived that way by the end of their story.

  • Hmmm, intriguing. You might begin exploring this topic with what it meant or means to be "mad," both in past eras and now. For instance, Jekyll, Frankenstein, and even Brown were considered "mad" for their eras but would that be true now? If so, is that because of their methods? Should scientists be expected to work within certain boundaries so they and their work will be acceptable to society, or is that too much like "playing God?" I think you have a lot to explore here and look forward to reading a full article. – Stephanie M. 1 year ago
  • Through some mishap, the title of this topic left out the word "Mad." That bugs me, but I imagine y'all understand what I meant. – noahspud 10 months ago
  • Real-life examples could also include scientists we would consider downright evil, like those working in concentration camps during WWII. This would contribute to the moral/ethical boundaries of science. – EditingWithEmily 8 months ago

WandaVision: a Sitcom about Superheroes

WandaVision seems to be one of the most unique TV shows ever, yet it pays homage to sitcoms throughout the decades. An analysis could include the aspect ratios, the laugh tracks, the archetypical characters, the wardrobe and set design, the special effects, and much more. Do these comparisons add extra depth or meaning to the show, or are they just fun references for older viewers who remember these classic shows?

  • Fun topic! WandaVision has a lot to analyze! While I was never a big sitcom fan, a lot can be said about the fact that it builds on a lot of tropes and plots from older shows like Bewitched. Another interesting analysis could be how it falls into the "Abnormal person trying to live a normal life" type of sitcoms and why those types of shows relate so well to audiences. – alittle 1 year ago

The Appeal of Reaction Videos

In a reaction video, someone watches something – a music video, a movie, a TV episode, a meme compilation, etc. – and records their reaction. This genre was popularized for the mainstream by YouTube channels like The Fine Bros., but there are many, many other channels that do it. Videos like "Real Doctor Reacts to Medical Dramas," "Real Lawyer Reacts to Crime in Movies," and "Vocal Coach Reacts to Music Video" have the advantage of being educational.
What is it about this genre that we find so appealing? Is it just the relatability of people feeling the same feelings we have? Do we feel a connection to these people, across time and space?

  • Good topic, one I often wonder about myself. It would be especially interesting to note the difference in modern reaction videos towards reaction videos from the early days of YouTube, back when it still had a reply function; plenty of content creators made their name on just reacting to others. Yet in the modern day, people seem to be more interested in watching professionals or experts' take on certain videos, as made popular by channels like Legal Eagle or the Conde Nast family. Ever since those videos started becoming more popular, you don't really see the regular reaction videos anymore. If anything, you see people trying to emulate the new style with connections that are often flimsy (ex. "Person Who Lives In NYC Reacts To Seinfeld"). Did the audience realize they can do better? What could be the next 'phase' of the reaction videos' evolution? – semroolvink 1 year ago
  • I think part of the allure is that we as humans want to see others amused and entertained. – J.D. Jankowski 1 year ago
  • Reaction videos represent one's opinion or how many ever people are reviewing it and their individual opinions. We may agree or disagree but there is always space to know how others think about certain things especially if any of your favorite videos are being reviewed. – Sujayweaves 1 year ago

Movies based around soundtracks

We’re seeing an increasing number of movies where the majority of the music is unoriginal, but the music is one of the best parts of these movies for many people. Examples include both Guardians of the Galaxy movies, the Shrek series, and Gnomeo and Juliet. For the movie Baby Driver, action scenes were carefully choreographed to match the soundtrack, rather than music being composed or selected to match the action. Movies about musicians, like Bohemian Rhapsody and the upcoming Rocketman and Yesterday, are in similar situations. Can we call these films Art Films? Is their unoriginality a flaw? Can they be compared to movies with iconic, original scores by John Williams or Michael Giacchino? Are they only becoming more popular because we are in an era with so much good “classic” music to fall back on?

  • Something interesting to look into would be artists chosen to compose these "various artist" soundtracks for movies: such as how Lorde was in charged with the Hunger Games series. Another interesting thing to note is that many of these movies now have two OSTs -- one with orchestral music and the other with a compilation of more "pop" tracks. – Pamela Maria 3 years ago
  • Definitely something to look into is why these are so popular psychologically for the public and its most likely to do recognition and glossy easy watching. They make the most money but are films that are structurally disorganized, though are constantly stimulating bc of everything visually pleasurable and most importantly: a song we recognize. Think about why films like pitch perfect or Sing were successful... it could be because the time we just wanna sing along because its one big nostalgic throwback. Guardians of galaxy example taking tracks that were canonized by past films, knowing people will love them but give the image of being ‘retro’ hits even tho we didnt grow up hearing those songs on the radio.... we just watched pulp fiction or virgin suicides – ariannacancian 3 years ago
  • I agree with the notes about nostalgia and how OSTs are being carefully crafted to fit films that rely so heavily on songs that are not originally created for the film. More specifically, to the question of art, I'm not sure if comparing them to original scores would be beneficial, but viewing them as a different form of art could be extremely interesting since it does take a lot of thought, time, and artistic skill to select and place songs that will effectively improve certain scenes within films. Baby Driver is a great example that you note because it is a little jarring at times when some songs don't seem to fully fit or hit nostalgia as much as others, showing how the artistic slip-ups can have an impact on the structure of the visuals. Something that affects your engagement with a film so much deserves recognition as art, especially when it is done well. I would love to see this topic fully researched and expanded! – Aaron 3 years ago
  • I have to say that original music is vital to a good movie and I cannot think of one great movie that was written for a soundtrack. I know of a great work in which a director and songwriter collaborated but the screenplay was brilliant and nominated for an Oscar. It is in my top ten American films: P.T. Andersen's:Magnolia. – youngmollflanders 3 years ago

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Latest Comments

Or a very much not idealized sense, sometimes

Men Written by Women: Dreamboats or Brutes?

I’m a big fan of the literary webseries genre, YouTube vlog-style adaptations of classics from Jane Austen to Shakespeare to the Brothers Grimm. They’re excellent.

Preservation, Insight and Growth Through Literary Modernizations

Another fun submission to the genre: Timefreaks. Science nerd uses a time travel app to re-do every time his girlfriend is unhappy in their relationship to prevent her breaking up with him. Ends up prolonging the relationship but killing any real emotion in their romance. The metaphor is strong: stop imagining how you could have done things differently and just live in the present.

Time Travel in Fiction

I didn’t know anything about Descartes’ work on the subject.
Although people in the Matrix aren’t chained to the floor, they are very much stuck in one place by wires and tubes. The “reality” they see is fake, just like the shadows are fake. They’re not living full lives because they’re spending their entire lives in tubes. True reality is a post-apocalyptic wasteland with no sunlight. The Matrix looks a little different from that.
The people in Plato’s allegory think the shadows are reality, just like people in the Matrix think what they’re seeing is reality. Descartes’ story might also be similar to The Matrix and other movies about false realities, but Plato’s allegory works just fine.

Plato's Cave and the Construction of Reality in Postmodern Movies

Indeed. That sounds like philia, love based on admiring someone’s traits and wanting to know more about them. A fictional character is basically a collection of traits and facts to learn, so yeah. Loving them means identifying the traits you want to see in real-life loved ones.

Can You Really Fall In Love With a Fictional Character?

Short answer: a man without darkness would probably be too boring to be attractive to female readers.
Giving a character flaws as well as good qualities adds dimension to him. Darkness is inseparable from the good because real people are flawed.

Men Written by Women: Dreamboats or Brutes?

While you’re probably right about some of that, Edward Cullen and Rochester and Christian Grey are the love interests of their books, and Victor Frankenstein is the narrator of his book. These are the opposite of derivative characters. If they are not well-defined, that’s a valid criticism. If they’re bad role models for potential male audiences, that’s a valid criticism.

Men Written by Women: Dreamboats or Brutes?

Close, but the idea of Plato’s allegory is that there is a real, stable, fixed reality that is not the shadows on the cave wall. It’s possible to stop meditating on reflections and realize greater truths; this is the journey illustrated by the Matrix, the Truman Show, etc.

Plato's Cave and the Construction of Reality in Postmodern Movies