noahspud

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics

    5

    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?

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      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.) https://www.cbr.com/why-mark-ruffalo-replaced-edward-norton-mcu-hulk/ – Blackcat130 2 months ago
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      • 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 3 weeks ago
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      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 month ago
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      • 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 3 weeks ago
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      3

      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. 5 months ago
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      3

      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 6 months ago
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      5

      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 6 months ago
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      • I think part of the allure is that we as humans want to see others amused and entertained. – J.D. Jankowski 6 months ago
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      • 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 6 months ago
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      5

      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
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      • 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 2 years ago
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      • 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 2 years ago
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      • 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 2 years ago
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      7

      Analysis of Spider-Man’s origin story

      In the comments section of my recently published article on Batman’s origin story, the topic of Spider-Man’s origin came up. I’d be fascinated to see an analysis of it. This includes the spider that bit Peter Parker and the death of his Uncle Ben, inspiring him to be a hero.
      What changes in the origin story when Spider-Man is rebooted or we get an alternate universe version? What stays the same, and what meaning can be found in that?
      What tropes does Spider-Man’s origin story include? Does it subvert any tropes? What impact do these tropes have?
      How original, deep, or personally impactful is Spider-Man’s origin compared to others?

      • Oh, one more thing. A commenter pointed out Spider-Man’s origin seems similar to Dr. Octopus’ backstory. That would be an interesting point of comparison and contrast. – noahspud 3 years ago
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      • I think there is a significant overlap in content that would be discussed, considering that both involve a murdered love one at some point. Regardless, it would still be interesting to contrast and compare. – Gliese436B 3 years ago
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      Latest Comments

      This article moves me to wonder what “utopian literature” is. Most settings that seem like utopia are really dystopias in disguise – for example, The Giver, by Lois Lowry, focuses on a young boy discovering that the idyllic world he lives in is very far from ideal.
      The world of Star Trek is described as a “post-scarcity utopia”: there is no currency and considerably less war over resources. Yet the show is still known for its warrior races and weapons because conflict is inevitable.
      The question “Why is utopian literature less popular than [anything]?” seems misleading because it assumes that there is such a thing as utopian literature.

      Why Is Utopian Literature Less Popular Than Dystopian Literature?

      No, I haven’t. Just based on what I do know, I would say Plato’s philosophies take a more optimistic outlook and Lovecraft, in the interest if horror, would go a more pessimistic route, if and when the two of them consider the same ideas.

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

      To me, the most fascinating thing about the Urban Fantasy genre is the quirk of worldbuilding sometimes called the Veil: in a lot of UF, regular humans are not allowed to know about magic and magical creatures, either because of a law (as in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) or some kind of spell that erases magic from humans’ awareness.
      Imagine if other fantasy worlds, like Middle-Earth, had this trope. Stories would be very different if one of the racial groups was almost completely unaware of the existence of every other racial group. Themes of prejudice and cooperation would be a little different, too.

      Urban Fantasy's Monstrous City

      There’s an episode where the Machine is having memory problems, so she doesn’t recognize the show’s human protagonists. After taking stock of what they have done with their lives, she identifies them as Perpetrators of Violence who should be eliminated. Harold needs to plead with the Machine that what they do is “a pure Good,” that the ends justify the means.
      To me, this scene indicates that the Machine’s Moral Imperative isn’t as straightforward as you might think. She learned Right and Wrong from Harold. Although Harold is sometimes surprised by what the Machine is willing to do in support of what she considers Right, she still looks to “Admin” as a higher authority than herself, almost every time.
      Philosophers often wonder whether Right and Wrong exist as basic principles of the universe, or if they come from a higher source. If there is a God who decides what’s right – the same way an Admin tells the Machine – that means people are held accountable for following through on their understanding of what’s right. If there isn’t a supreme moral authority, then Samaritan’s ideas of right and wrong are just as viable as Harold’s. (I’d go with the first option, personally.)

      Person Of Interest: The Art of putting Kant’s Philosophy into a Computer

      You’re totally right that an Yzma-Kronk movie wouldn’t work if it got all melodramatic, but imagine the comedy it could make by indirectly referencing the melodrama of the Maleficent-Cruella trend!
      Maybe if things started to get moody, Kuzco could do his fourth-wall breaking, spotlight-stealing shtick, much like he did when the original movie spent “too much time” on Pacha being sad.

      Disney Characters That Should Get Their Own Spinoffs

      I love looking at Sherlock Holmes with an autistic lens. One of my favorite points is that OG Holmes (from Doyle’s writings) repeatedly claims that he’s not extraordinary. “Elementary,” he famously says. I like to think this was because if people considered him “special” or “different,” they would also consider him “weird” or even crazy. He didn’t want to consider himself crazy, so he was quick to assure everyone else that he was normal.
      On the other hand, in modern adaptations – even the Robert Downey Jr. version set in the days of yore – Holmes takes an excessive amount of pride in his peculiarities because he sees himself as superior to everyone. Society, and indeed the audience, sees him as superior, so he is allowed to share that perspective. Unfortunately, this also leads to modern incarnations of Holmes being egotistical and very rude. This risks giving other people on the spectrum a bad reputation.

      Autism in Media: Progressing, Yet Stuck

      What I find so fascinating about detective stories is the detective character exists purely for the benefit of other people’s stories. The true main characters in the story are either dead or criminals trying to hide their involvement, so the plot can only develop if another character shows up to point out the clues.
      TV adaptations of Sherlock Holmes have amped up the drama of his struggle to maintain relationships with his brother and friends. But in the original books, Holmes barely had a life outside of work, and that was okay, because the majority of each story was taken up by other people telling their stories, with Holmes just listening quietly. Then he would spend a couple paragraphs pointing out the relevant details and what they meant. Altogether, it doesn’t seem like a strong formula for a great character or a great story, but it works for all the reasons you described. Well done.

      Why Do Readers Enjoy The Detective Genre so much?

      Indeed. One of the reasons a transition from selfish to selfless is so common in these movies is the time traveler comes to realize just how impactful their decisions are on the lives of those around them.
      Like, there’s an episode of The Flash where a time traveler from the future comes to the present for almost entirely selfish reasons: she just wants to hang out with her dad before he died. Then she gets stuck reliving the same hour or so, and every decision she tries to make gets another one of her friends killed. She learns the importance of sacrifice real quick.

      How Time Loop Movies Have Avoided Their Own Groundhog Day