nsnow

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Latest Topics

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    Post-9/11 literature and entertainment

    When analyzing literature from the early half of the 20th century, there are clear changes in writers before and after the World Wars. The biggest shift came after the Great War, as this was the first war of this scale, with such a large body count, and with new technologies and conventions.

    Now that we are coming up on 15 years after 9/11, I suspect we can see a shift in pop culture following the attack on the Twin Towers, and analyze what the shift was, how it affected each medium, and how long the shit remained.

    There were works created specifically in response to the attack, including Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising as well as Frank Miller’s controversial follow-up to the Dark Knight Returns: The Dark Knight Strikes Again (at least in part as stated in Miller’s forward to the Dark Knight Saga hardcover).Other works that were written before the attacks were deeply patriotic were brought back into the pop culture, notably Proud to be an American.

    Examine pop culture before the attacks (late 90’s-mid 2001), immediately after the attacks (late 2001-2002), a couple years after *2003-2005), 5-10 years after (2006-2011), and contemporary works.

    • Something to look at for this might be ABC's new series Quantico, which centers around solving the mystery of a terrorist attack in New York City, and even features a character whose family was impacted by 9/11. It might also be interesting to look at how terrorism as a plot point has grown in entertainment (SVU, Criminal Minds, etc.) Interesting topic for sure. – MichelleAjodah 4 years ago
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    • Since Batman was mentioned, I think looking at Nolan's trilogy, especially in comparison to older Batman films, would be important, especially since The Dark Knight is essentially a grim crime drama that deals with the law, corruption (bought officers, Dent's transformation), and the Joker's terrorism, which is meant to cause instability. – Emily Deibler 4 years ago
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    • There is a surprising lack of critical thinking in movies and literature regarding aspects of 9/11. Perhaps too soon? – Munjeera 4 years ago
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    Modern Oral Stories

    Before literacy was as widespread as it is in contemporary eras, stories were recited orally. To better help the storytellers remember the tales, these stories were often told in musical form, or at least in poetry, rather than standard prose. Although it is not as common today as in the past, there are still examples of stories with arcs and heroes that are in modern music. Although most obvious and prevalent in progressive rock and metal, it can be found in other genres as well (though most likely not in pop, or at least not in pop singles). Examine what genres tell stories and what kinds of stories are told in each genre.

    Alternatively, give an analysis of Coheed and Cambria’s musical epic about The Amory Wars. How does telling this long story through music affect it? What separates this from other prog bands? from past epics? from modern story telling? Do Coheed and Cambria invoke any of the classic tropes and standards of epic poetry?

    • I am interested to see where this goes. I think the idea of rock and metal as an oral story is great! I would be interested to formulate part of this question as a comparison between a particular piece of literature that was oral, and a particular song in the rock/metal genre. Can't wait to see where someone takes this! – emilyinmannyc 5 years ago
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    • Exactly. To maybe suggest a classic oral study to compare against, Beowulf is a story known to have an oral origin that has themes similar to that of more story-central rock and especially metal songs/albums. In fact, I am sure there are plenty of songs that serve as adaptations of Beowulf – nsnow 5 years ago
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    • While not an original story written by the band, Iron Maiden's Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a musical retelling of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem of the same name. At 13+ minutes, it brings up a fair point. A thirteen minute song would have a difficult time getting airplay, especially now. How long can the story be? Can you still tell the same story in a radio edit? Does airplay even matter now with music streaming services gaining market share over traditional radio? – loridonnellynj 5 years ago
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    • All great points about Iron Maiden's take on "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." I'd say an adaptation between genres like that is still relevant to the topic, and definitely this is an interesting choice. – nsnow 5 years ago
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    When to pull the plug?

    At what point should comic publishers like DC and Marvel cancel a series that isn’t as financially viable as was hoped? A few weeks ago, DC announced a few young comics were being cancelled early, including Green Lanter: Lost Army and Omega Men (which has been allowed to run for the original 12 issues), which was met with fairly universal backlash. Many people agree that cancelling issues after seeing sales figures for only a few issues and before even all of the issues that will be included in the trade paper back is unfair to the consumer and to a point the artist. But these publishers are companies with financial obligations, meaning that if a comic series is doing poorly, they should dump it and replace it with something that will be commercially successful.

    • Marvel's also got it's really drawn out reboot thing going on NOW! started in October 2012 and started, dropped, and changed up a bunch of titles off and on until they finally bit the reboot bullet in May with Secret Wars. This is another element in the early cancellation of titles that could be contrasted with the financial aspect. – Max 5 years ago
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    Latest Comments

    Great article, I loved the combination of examining the original reactions to the book across cultures as well as how the story has grown and adapted. Anime is very hit or miss for me, but I may have to check this one out.

    Les Misérables in Film, Theatre, and Anime

    For cultural trailblazers like Ocarina of Time, I think it is difficult to evaluate them without taking into account the impact they have on the current state of games, or the industry’s history. And while I agree that, out of context, Ocarina doesn’t hold up today without nostalgia, the same can be said of other culturally important pieces. Seinfeld isn’t funny because the jokes it originally made are now sit-com cliches, the classic slasher films aren’t scary anymore because the ideas have been taken and turned up to 11 already, and many classics that were originally read as children stories are now inaccessible by the modern equivalence of that audience because the style is outdated.

    Does Ocarina of Time Still Hold Up By Today's Standards?

    No matter what, fans will be upset. While adaptations are often hated for being too different from the source, sometimes people hate them when there isn’t enough change. As an example, Zach Snyder’s Watchmen was at times a frame-perfect adaptation of the graphic novel (except for the ending), yet that ultimately seems to be its downfall in the eyes of many comic fans. Some people claim it is a lifeless adaptation, and that the audience had might as well just read the graphic novel as watch the film.

    I can see that logic to a point; an adaptation should go beyond an exact retelling. It should use the features of the new medium to tell the story in a new, exciting way, or examine the story and characters in a new lens.

    That being said, in an adaptation I am adamant about the main story and characters remaining recognizable across adaptations, even in a new setting or with changes to the story. So far, I think Game of Thrones has done one of the best jobs with keeping characters recognizable, even as they are experiencing some different events than in the books. Over time, minor changes to the plot, or changes to relatively extraneous characters build up to become larger changes in a long running adaptation. But I am able to see that, based on the experiences of THIS Jon Snow or THIS Sansa Stark, why the characters may make a different decision than in the books (the examples chosen are arbitrary and are not referring to any specific decisions in either the show or books).

    How 'By the Book' Should Literary Adaptations Be?

    Superman as a character has always stood as a Christ figure. Man of Steel focused on that and included visual themes to add to the character parallels: Superman falling out to space with his arms spread wide as if he were on a cross and having his revelation of faith in a church with a priest being prime examples. Some critics of Man of Steel often bemoan these scenes, but I always liked the Christ-figure side of Superman.

    The Christ Figure in Film: The Passion of the Christ and Man of Steel

    Not restricted to the medium, but it is the medium that highlighted and gave a name to the specifics of the trope.

    Women in Refrigerators: Killing Females in Comics

    Something I like about the Tell Tale games (especially Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us) is that there is no meter of morality, just consequences for your actions. At times you have to side with one group and alienate another, and it’s not a matter of good or bad, but rather who is right in this instance. While the larger story plots often occur either way you choose, most of the alliances and relationships you build come to a head in the final episode.

    Morality Systems in Role-Playing Games

    I’d say that over-saturation is another problem annualizing games adds, particularly with a series like Assassin’s Creed. At some point, consumers reach a point where the sheer amount of product is overwhelming. I know plenty of friends that are now burnt out on the Madden series or only buy Madden every couple years, rather than each installment. Similarly, I know plenty of people that will follow a certain sub-series of Call of Duty; one friend swears by Modern Warfare while another is excited for Black Ops III and didn’t bother with Ghosts or Advanced Warfare.

    Sequels in Quick Succession: The Ups and Downs of Annualized Franchises

    Cosplay just doesn’t resonate with me. I can appreciate them in a costume-contest setting and even Halloween or -con setting, but I don’t get the celebrity cosplayer scene, or the professional shoots.

    An Overview of Cosplay: Exploring the Subculture