Stephanie M.

Stephanie M.

I'm a content writer and novelist who loves books, writing, theater, and my cat. I have published two novels and traveled to London and Paris.

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    Latest Articles


    Latest Topics


    How Will the Current Culture Affect Classic Novels?

    Most of us grew up with some form of the classic novel. Whether we read abridged, illustrated versions for kids, encountered them in school, or watched TV or movie versions (e.g., Wishbone, Disney adaptations), most of us know at least some of the traditional "classics" of the Western canon. These include but are not limited to works by Dickens, Steinbeck, Morrison, Lee, Shakespeare, Austen, and Wells.

    As our culture becomes more aware of concepts like marginalized experience and cultural appropriation though, our relationships with classic literature may change. We now critique certain examples of classics because of what they imply about non-Western, non-white cultures, or what they leave out. We critique them based on the roles women do or don’t play, or how characters of color are treated, or whether characters coded LGBT are sympathetic. As a disabled woman, I find myself being harsher with books like Of Mice and Men or The Color Purple because of how they treat members of my groups.

    How does this heightened critique and awareness mean we should treat the classics? That is, can we still learn valuable things from these books even if they are cringe-worthy in their rhetoric or character portrayals? How can we engage with these books, without spending all our time on the problematic parts? Some of these classics have been retold because of heightened critique; was this a good or bad idea? And, are these critiques even valid, or should we simply say, "This was written in another time and we should simply accept that?" Discuss.

    • The critiques are valid, in my opinion. It is important to understand the contexts these stories were written in as they allow us to realize how much things have changed and, more importantly, what has not changed. To simply admit that these novels were written in a different time suggests that the problems that existed back then are solved now. We know that this is not the case, that people are still marginalized and cultures are still being appropriated. Learning about these issues when they were more apparent allow us to understand the injustices that are still ongoing today. – Kennedy 2 weeks ago

    Alternatives to Microtransactions in Games and Apps

    Cell phones are ubiquitous these days, as are phone-based games and apps. These activities are colorful, fun, and addictive–if you have the money for an addiction, that is.

    Most if not all cell phone games, as well as some apps such as Lumosity or adult coloring books, are free but have in-app purchases. The in-app purchases are usually tied to premium content or the ability to play the "full" game. For instance, in Jeopardy World Tour, you can play rounds for "free," as long as you have virtual cash. To increase virtual cash, you can wait more than 24 hours for your bank to build, or you can purchase virtual premium currency with actual money.

    Even the best-intentioned game/app users end up engaging in microtransactions more than they mean to. In many online worlds, people who spend a lot of real money actually have a nickname; they’re called "whales." Whales or not, most players complain about microtransactions, but admit they don’t know an alternative.

    Could there, or should there, be alternatives to microtransactions? If yes, what might those be? Are there currently apps or games that don’t depend on microtransactions, and if yes, what makes them successful? How are these games or apps able to "survive" without monetary microtransactions? Examine and discuss.

      Taken by rosewinters (PM) 1 month ago.

      Critic vs. Chick: Who Does Nostalgia Better?

      Circa 2008, YouTube gained a new channel and star in Nostalgia Critic, AKA Doug Walker. Going by that name and the hfaandle ThatGuyWiththeGlasses, Doug Walker gave viewers scathing, humorous reviews of nostalgic movies, shows, and commercials from the ’80s-’90s. "I remember it so you don’t have to," he begins almost all of his (early) videos.

      A while after the Nostalgia Critic came to fame, he held a contest to find a female counterpart. The result was the stardom of Lindsey Ellis, Nostalgia Chick. As her name implies, Nostalgia Chick covers content the Critic doesn’t, mostly content aimed at a female base. She tends to focus her reviews on feminist criticism and the portrayal of female characters.

      However, both critics’ reams of views indicate their fans are not necessarily divided by sex or gender. Both sexes can enjoy both critics, so what, other than feminist or non-feminist content, distinguishes the two? Is one critic inherently "better" than the other, and if yes, why? Have changes in the videos’ formats, such as Critic and Chick appearing together or with other characters, changed the conversation about their content? What kind of viewers do Chick and Critic cater to, regardless of gender (i.e., would you recommend a new viewer go to one person or the other for a certain type or "tone" of content)?

      • Interesting topic. While a part of me can appreciate the time capsule-esque approach of comparing Walker and Ellis's work as if it were still 2013 and they were both still affiliated with Channel Awesome -- there may be a nostalgic impulse at play here (so meta!) -- I cannot help but feeling that it would be a grave omission to disregard the career trajectories of both figures since Ellis's departure in 2014. Though his channel is still active, Walker has arguably experienced a slight fall from public grace based on reports of his mistreatment of former employees (including Ellis), and one need only look at the reception of his recent video on Pink Floyd's The Wall to see what little respect his industry peers still have for his critical prowess. Ellis, on the other hand, now independently runs one of the leading video essay channels on the site (nearly eclipsing Channel Awesome in terms of subscribers), works for PBS, and has become a New York Times Bestselling novelist. The complexities of their parallel career arc goes far beyond the simple male vs. female paradigm suggested by your prompt. This is not to say that that paradigm is not, itself, worth exploring, but it may be more generative as only the first act of an ongoing story. Just my two cents. – ProtoCanon 3 months ago

      An Examination of Classic Retellings

      From reams of fairytale retellings, to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, from Meg and Jo to Circe, the literary world bursts with retellings of classic novels. The smorgasbord of material grows every day, giving rise to multifaceted questions. What sets one retelling of a classic apart from another (why, for instance, might someone choose the Little Women retelling So Many Beginnings over Meg and Jo, and its companion novel, Beth and Amy)? Do some classics lend themselves to retellings better than others? Perhaps most intriguing of all, what is the benefit, for writers and readers, of retelling classics and/or reshaping them for a current audience? Once these classics are reshaped or retold, are they classics any longer? Discuss.

      • This is a really interesting topic and very timely to our current media- and book-scape. I think it would be helpful to think about the designation "classic." Of course, that's always a sticky topic, but it might be necessary to think about what it means to re-tell a classic. – JaniceElaine 3 months ago
      • Yes, I should've clarified, that should be the first thing the writer does if they choose this topic. However, they would have to be careful that the article didn't become a full discussion of what a "classic" is. – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
      • This is a great topic and the topic of one of my articles. Should classics continue to be remade? In our day and age is the moral of the classics even applicable? If the classics are remade and remade are they considered classics anymore? – scampbell 2 months ago

      YouTube Kids: Harmless or Dangerous?

      In past decades, children got their television "diet" from specific shows on specific channels, or program blocks on one or two channels tailored for them. Today, our children have an endless list of shows to choose from thanks to streaming services and 24-7 content.

      One example of such content is YouTube Kids, a network of channels that are given new content daily, sometimes several times daily. Some of this content is positive, but just as much if not more is allegedly detrimental to kids. Writer and artist James Bridle, for instance, gave a TED Talk for YouTube that, while three years old, has 4.8M views. His TED Talk posits that YouTube kids is actually dangerous to kids’ mental health and development.

      Examine this TED Talk as well as other sources, such as the Momo controversy from the late 2010s, or certain shows and videos on YTK. What content is the most detrimental, and why? Is there anything parents, guardians, and tech experts could do to make content more educational and child-friendly? Perhaps most importantly, what exactly is the draw of YTK, and why do so many adults welcome its content, questionable or not? Discuss.

      • You should look into a youtube channel called "How to cook that" by Ann Reardon. She does debunking videos (normally 5-minute craft kind of videos) and discusses the implications of having these dangerous videos widely accessible to children. She also discusses the legalities of these videos being on youtube in the case that someone is injured following a video. – scampbell 2 months ago

      How the Rugrats Reboot Will Influnece Television

      On May 27, a Rugrats reboot featuring CGI animation, new character voices, and adventures with a distinct 21st-century flavor will premiere on Paramount Plus. Some fans of the original Rugrats are eager to experience the reboot and compare/contrast, while others are skeptical at best. No matter what side you’re on though, there’s no denying this reboot will influence how people see the Rugrats franchise and perhaps, associated television (e.g., Nickelodeon).

      Discuss questions such as how the Rugrats reboot will influence these spheres, as well as the potential positives and negatives of the reboot itself. For example, how will the reboot’s location on a streaming service change the viewing experience and relations to the characters and plots? Do you think kids or adults will be more invested in the reboot, and why? It seems many of the new adventures will take place in the babies’ imaginations; is this a positive or negative move?

      • I like this topic if possible, do you have a more narrowed scope for the article. For instance, in my experience Suzy played side character growing up and I look forward to perhaps seeing her in every episode. Are you looking to compare their general influence then and their possible contributions now? Just looking for clarity – CardinalRayPrints 7 months ago
      • Influence is a big part of it, yes. I like how you brought up Susie, because in this day and age, she needs to be more of a main character, which will impact the show's influence for the better. On the other hand, there are certain things that may make its influence negative. For instance, I grew up watching the show and having to wait for episodes. The instantaneous nature of a streaming service may mean the new version, all its updates notwithstanding, has less of an impact because the audience can so quickly move on to something else. – Stephanie M. 7 months ago
      • Ah, I see thanks for providing that revision – CardinalRayPrints 7 months ago

      Are Readers Burned Out on YA Dystopia?

      Recently, talk among book enthusiasts has circulated that YA dystopia has burned out. The genre is certainly huge, but whether it’s burned out, cliched, or tired in any way depends on whose books you read. Are there certain authors who give YA dystopia a burned out feel? Are there authors, or characters, who have brought fresh situations or themes to the genre? And if the genre is burned out right now, how might it be "revived?" Discuss.

      • YA Dystopia used to be such a huge genre in the 2000's up to 2016, when Veronica Roth's 'Allegiant' was released in the theatres. I used to re-read Suzanne Collins' 'Hunger Games' and watch the movies. Until it sort of all became really boring. The action of the plot was there, and so were the likable characters. It began to feel really negative, since the entirety of Dystopia was that the world was inevitably ending in some horrible way. Or the world had already ended and the harsh new reality of the world to come was a dystopia in itself. Since I've found myself reading YA Fantasy and New Adult Fantasy recently, I haven't read any YA Dystopia books, but if there was to be a revival of the genre, it has to be reimagined. No more oppressive governments and fight to the death situations. Something unique but altogether terrifying if it were to happen. – talonsx 4 months ago
      • This is an especially interesting topic considering the recent rise of dystopian shows, however more digestible for the general public and perhaps less confronting – Lily 2 months ago
      Taken by darbyallen (PM) 2 months ago.

      The Rise and Fall of Zynga Facebook Games

      When Facebook first came out in 2007, social games came with it. Most of us played these games hoping to build connections with friends and improve our standing in fantasy worlds/virtual lives.

      One of the biggest provider of such games was Zynga. From Farmville to Cafe World to Hidden Chronicles, they churned out plenty of games with plenty of connections and worlds to explore. Yet in a few years, most of these games vanished. Hidden Chronicles, Cafe World, and others are now just Wikipedia pages, although you may find some Facebook groups still asking for the games to be brought back. Meanwhile, other games similar to these, such as Pearl’s Peril, are either floundering or closed.

      Examine some of these games and discuss why they didn’t last. Compare and contrast them to some games that are popular on social media now. Are the newer games easier? If yes, how? Are they more fun or satisfying? What problems might they still share with the old games? If older games were to return successfully, what improvements would they need to make?

      • I imagine the disappearance of these games has been largely due to the rise of mobile games and steam. I couldn't imagine people playing Facebook games when their out as they have their game on the phone. And when their home on the PC I imagine free to play games like Apex, Valorant, and league which are pretty easy to run on most PC's are more favorable choices. Just speculation as I have not done research on this topic. – Blackcat130 7 months ago

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      Latest Comments

      Stephanie M.

      I applaud your level of detail, and especially appreciate the discussion of semiotics, codes, and film semiotics.

      The Dark Side of Beauty Standards in Helter Skelter: A semiotic analysis
      Stephanie M.

      Great topic! I definitely have a couple online games that made an impression on me, that have since closed and I still miss. Hidden Chronicles is the big one (from Zynga, formerly on Facebook).

      Why Do Some Games Create an Unforgettable Impression?
      Stephanie M.

      One of my favorite articles; glad to see it made the lineup.

      Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: A Capitalist Dystopia
      Stephanie M.

      Interesting, particularly the point about the mispronunciation of Sahil’s name. I’m working on a book right now whose protagonist is disabled and has the rather unique name Finola. At least one antagonist continually calls her “Fiona,” not because they don’t realize the “L” is there, but because they want to deliberately misname and thus belittle her. (You don’t have the abilities of most people, so you don’t deserve to be considered, down to your name).

      Racist Undertones in "A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding"
      Stephanie M.

      I love this topic, because I don’t think we talk enough about how the atomic bomb affected the citizens and culture of Japan. Also, happy to have helped with the revisions.

      The Legacies of the Atomic Bomb in Anime
      Stephanie M.

      Glad to see this made the lineup! I so enjoyed helping with the revisions as well.

      Barnes and Billy, and Living: An Analysis on Slaughterhouse-Five and The Sun Also Rises
      Stephanie M.

      I never thought of Jane Austen as brave for writing a character like Emma, but now that you mention it, yeah, she was. Emma was a brave character for her day because girls and women were expected to be perfect, demure, whatever. And I think she’s still a brave character, because I sense we are coming full circle, to where females are expected to be perfect in a new way. We’re no longer expected to be paragons of femininity, but now we’re expected to marry, raise children, kick butt in the boardroom, maintain single-digit figures, have influence in every single group we’re part of, manage finances… The list goes on and on, and we have to do it all, or we’re failures. I think if Emma were a 21st-century woman, she would politely and demurely say, “Screw that.”

      Jane Austen's 'Emma': How Austen Writes an Independent Woman
      Stephanie M.

      She is an absolute pro at human strengths and weaknesses, and that’s why I love her, too.

      Jane Austen's 'Emma': How Austen Writes an Independent Woman