Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

Sarai is a free-lance literature enthusiast who current works as an academic. An avid horror and fantasy reader she is an advocate for its cultural importance: saraimw.com

Correspondent II

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Latest Articles

Literature
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Literature
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Literature
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Latest Topics

2

Moral choices in Resident Alien

TV show ‘Resident Alien’ is new this year from Sci-fi. The premise concerns an alien who crashes to Earth in a remote Colorado mountain town and assumes the identity of the town doctor.

The TV show on the surface is a wacky comedy-drama about an alien trying to pass as human and engaging in a variety of ridiculous endeavours, including a war with a 9 year old who sees through his from.
However, beneath the surface are a number of discussions about adoption, Native American experiences, toxic relationships and abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, and the damage of lost dreams. All of this seems to fit within the scope of a small town and a dramedy, but the depth of consequence is sustained and examined in a very thought provoking manner.

BIG SPOILERS:
The other massive story plot point is "Harry’s" (the alien) original intention, which is to destroy Earth. The first half of the series centers around his need to find the item that will allow him to do this. An expectation is set forward that perhaps he will change his mind due to his relationships with the people of the town. However, it is revealed that Harry’s people have visited Earth for thousands of years, and the decision to wipe out humanity is in response to the degradation they have caused the Earth and the potential consequences of our refusal to make the changes the Earth needs. This framing poses the question about the right of life, the impact of choices and the issue that humankind will eventually need to face the consequences of inaction (although maybe not from alien threats!).

QUESTION (Safe to read again):
The moral questions being raised in the show are not simple, and the show is not offering easy, quick solutions, but rather examining the deeper impact of being trapped in toxic cycles and the roll on effect of consequences from choices.
Once the show has finished I think it would be an interesting case study to explore the use of dramedy genres to raise important questions, and to evaluate the complexity of the moral decisions being raised that face humankind today (and with this the consequences of continued inaction).

  • Just to address the suggested Revision - I think it is important to not only look at texts from a structural (functional) perspective - this indeed has value, but I don't believe Resident Alien is actually innovating in the approaches to TV elements. Rather it is the choice of a very traditional approach to tropes and concepts but is actually addressing the issues rather than the usual "just a joke" approach of sit-coms. However, if someone wanted to delve into the stylistic choices they could but that would be a different topic. – Sarai Mannolini-Winwood 6 months ago
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  • Oooh, I love a good moral dilemma! Nice topic! – Stephanie M. 5 months ago
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3

Is Queen Latifah Equalizing racism in her new show?

The Equalizer is a new to TV series from CBS starring Queen Latifah.
The show is a reboot from an original TV show in the 1980s, which was rebooted in film in 2014. It is not a hugely new concept – ex-CIA agent who felt politics constrained the ability to provide justice, but it is a concept audiences respond well to. What the new version brings is an older female lead who is also a Black American and the accompanying cast reflects a move to greater diversity. The plots of the first four episodes tend to focus on racial injustices as well as wider political discussions, such as wealth/white privilege, kidnapping, sex trafficking, financing terrorism and corrupt judges.

The choice made in the lead and the messages within the stories tend to focus on racial experiences in USA are really important conversations to be had. However, there needs to be an exploration of the balance present: how well is the show representing equality and experience in America? How is gender and race explored? How does the show add to the conversations around Black Lives Matter and racial tensions in the USA?

A discussion could also be made to examine how this genre of spy/crime tropes have been developed since the original and if this is contributing to wider concepts of new storytelling.

    5

    Is the new Charmed having all the important conversations?

    ‘Charmed’ a reboot of the late 90s show was released in 2019 with a new cast, new plot lines but also a lot of overlap in narrative, mythos and setting. The story is of three sisters who are witches with the special "power of three." The first big difference is the move from three visually "white" American actors to three mixed-heritage women representing Hispanic and Black American culture. The show also introduces the white-lighter as head of Women’s Studies (a controversial cis-male), a lesbian relationship, a 28 year old virgin and a stereotypical teen wanting to join the Greek systems at her college. From the start the line up is unusual and (from my perspective) wonderful.
    The new ‘Charmed’ is also engaging in some interesting, and timely conversations, around women’s rights, identity, gender, white privilege, rape culture, race identity, transhumanism and more.

    But is this a deep engagement with the important conversations that need to be happening, or is this simply a response to popular culture and trending?
    A deep analysis of the new show would be beneficial to help examine if this TV show is moving towards culturally responsible storytelling or cashing in on hashtags.

      0

      Warrior nuns...really?

      A bizarre name that can as easily put you off as draw you in – ‘Warrior Nun’ (WN) is the latest TV series from Netflix. It is based, unsurprisingly, on a comic book character by Ben Dunn. It tells the story of a young woman who is reincarnated by an angel’s halo during an attack by demons on a sect of warrior nuns. The presence of the halo in her body, when the previous Warrior Nun died gives her abilities and a new life.

      Sounds ridiculous right?
      It is. It is also a fascinating look at a range of new archetypal roles around women that are becoming increasingly popular in TV and film. Similar in format to the ‘Motherland: Fort Salem’ with the focus on a military-esque sect of women only warriors it pushes against traditional gender stereotypes and a patriarchal society. WN actively critiques concepts of free will, religious determination and the complexity of friendship. It has a Buffy feel that fits within the scope of a traditional monomyth narrative, but also brings new perspectives that consider issues of racial roles and language. Much of the dogma linked to the catholic church is considered and critiqued within the way the myth of the halo and the order is presented. It further utilises a fantastic bilingual approach that Netflix does seem to be actively beginning to incorporate, whereby any Spanish spoken in the show is not subtitled, but at points where Italian or other languages are used these are provided with subtitles.

      The show is worth a deeper analysis both for the development of themes and ideas that are reflecting changing perspectives on gender, race and religion, but also from the perspective of wider changes that are being reflected through the stable of shows from Netflix and other show providers. What do you think?

      • Excuse me for playing Devil's advocate here, but what is the point in a streaming service not subtitling one specific language that many of its viewers do not speak, and yet subtitling other languages? As a subtitler, I'd hardly consider this to be a 'fantastic bilingual approach.' An explanation please. – Amyus 1 year ago
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      • Spanish is the second highest spoken language in the United States behind English. That's about forty-one million people speaking Spanish in their homes in America, not to mention that it is also the most frequently taught secondary language in America too. To me this seems to encourages people to learn and understand a language that may not be native to them while also catering to a large section of their audience that it is native to. You could also consider that this show is available in Spanish speaking countries, too, so Netflix just nabbed a huge section of their world-wide viewing audience in one fell swoop. Point being, many of its viewers do in fact speak it and that number is increasing. – FarPlanet 1 year ago
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      • "Warrior nuns"--two words i never thought would go together. Sounds fascinating! – Stephanie M. 1 year ago
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      • I don't know what to think. If it's not lambasting the Church and mocking nuns, great. On the other hand, I can see a lot of things Catholics/Christians will take issue with. I look forward to this article with great interest. – OkaNaimo0819 1 year ago
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      • I just assumed this was an outgrowth of the movie "Priest." – Joseph Cernik 1 year ago
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      3

      Star Trek: The commitment to storytelling

      At the time I loved the new Star Trek movies. They were exciting, full of space travel, linked to nostalgia and full of "larger than life" characters. However, a re-watch of these was almost as painful as re-watching the Fast and the Furious series; instead of vivid I realised the characters were one-dimensional, stereotyped, almost all white and when I actually took note of the ridiculous 70s dresses of the women, actually quite insulting.

      Now this realisation did not occur randomly, this was the result of returning to re-watch the films after completing the TV series Star Trek Discovery – and what I discovered was that the films lived up to the franchise (hated by fans, full of over blown situations and lacking the depth of storytelling in the shows). Now with the launch of Star Trek Picard I am blown away by the commitment to storytelling in both the shows. The focus is on personal growth, the difficulty of sticking to your convictions, taking responsibility for your actions, understanding the complexity of dealing with people (human and alien) and it is committed to showing diversity.

      I think there is a lot in the new Star Treks that is showing the way forward for all TV – in a post MeToo world, in a post Black Panther world, it is not acceptable to continue to show narrow stereotyped, outdated and offensive perspectives. We often talk about the power of pop-culture and mainstream entertainment because it does offer a platform to not only reflect the world, but offer paths to change. This is a lot of lauding and pressure to place on a set of sci-fi TV shows, but I think Star Trek has more to teach us, even if it is just a better commitment to storytelling. What do you think?

        2

        Space yoga, red lighting to sell meat, and terrible decisions on Avenue 5

        Avenue 5 is a recently released HBO touted as sci-fi comedy, as was Orville, however, the difference is astounding. A5 appears to be taking a more "reality show" approach to storytelling. The cinematography moves between constant vignettes that hone in on the various character groups, and then multi-character scenes are shot in an often long framing to appear as the fly on the wall while you watch characters shout over each other in a very "naturalistic" dialogue approach. The focus so far seems to be on the lack of competence of everyone involved. This reality/sit-com approach is especially unusual in sci-fi and even though Orville began with elements of this it rapidly became a Space Opera with focuses on moralistic decision making and character growth. I’m not sure if we are going to see that occur on A5. But does that matter? A5 appears to be offering a new take on sci-fi which could open the genre wider to further hybrid versions. A deeper analysis is needed to look at what A5 offers the genre.

          5

          The Mandalorian

          Star Wars has been a popular culture icon for decades now. The revival of the early episodes and the continuation of the later that have altered the canon of literature, comics, and games have brought in a new generation of fans. Now with the move to Disney there are high expectations of the money-milking enterprise of a thousand spin off variations, yet interestingly there is the new tv show ‘The Mandalorian’. It already has a youth friendly vibe with a limited range of onscreen violence, no swearing and an over produced cinematography and sound track, yet still…it is the story of a bounty hunter, a criminal…but [SPOILER] he chooses at the end not to kill his bounty when faced with a "baby Yoda." Are we to assume then from this that the story will focus on a lone warrior with his own code, or will this be a redemptive arc – the hero was always within. It indeed fits into the franchise that has always been about hope above all else. The question will be though, like the most recent films, does this show actually have anything new to say or will this once again be a reiteration of the single monomyth that has plagued the SW franchise?

            4

            The rise of the female action hero?

            We are slowly seeing a rise of all female or at least female dominated films in genres that have not traditionally been female friendly. Traditionally action films, whether they are specifically categorised as Action or Action slash (/sci fi, /western, /crime), have focused on varying interpretations of the masculine lead. Sometimes he is flawed, and sometimes he may as well be a plastic figurine for all the depth of character demonstrated, but always he is strong, determined and takes action, and is accompanied with weak or "temptation" women whose role is to look good half dressed. Yet a handful of recent films are starting to challenge the role of the female action hero.

            The supernatural action genre has given us three intelligent, funny, and active women in ‘Ghostbusters’. The heist genre laid out eight women of varying skills whose expertise held up against the original male roles in ‘Oceans 8’. The sci-fi action adventure has most recently given us three power and diverse roles in the latest ‘Terminator’. However, the question is this – does this indicate a substantial change in Hollywood’s approach to the representation of women in film, or is this just a trend that will fade away again to be replaced with atypical machoism?

            • Shout out to Terminator: Dark Fates for its three female action heroes. The film is market poorly in this regard as Arnold shows up in much of the marketing but the film is truly dominated by Linda Hamilton, Mackenzie Davis, and Natalia Reyes who are all compelling in their own ways. Overall, Terminator and Alien remain two series where women have been the protagonists and have been fully realized nuanced characters for decades. – Sean Gadus 2 years ago
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            • @Sean so very true and I was so happy to see the return of old Hamilton, with all her issues and bat-crazy attitude. I was really impressed with the actual film focusing in on the women, but I agree it is interesting that there was still such a focus on Arnie in the promotion - does this then undermine the focus of the film or is it a sign of the fact that we still can't truly promote a female action film without it bombing at the box office? – SaraiMW 2 years ago
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            • The female action hero rose around three decades ago. – monkeylove 2 years ago
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            • I truly want to believe that this change is here to stay. Even though female heroes may have been present in previous decades, they were sexualized and belittled by the presence of a man. I think that Hollywood is shifting, because there is a need for strong heroines. All the time in Hollywood films, you will notice that the woman only discovers her worth when the man comes along. People see this as a problem, because women are not helpless damsels. There is an increasing amount of mental health disorders, LGBTQ+ characters, and strong females present in modern film. Hollywood is finally starting to make changes, because they must change with the times. People simply won't accept the traditional standards for characters in movies anymore. Hollywood needs to continue to incorporate important topics and characters into their films. – nicolemadison 2 years ago
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            • There have been fantastic female leads around for longer than the past few years, you only have to look to Sigourney Weaver in Alien to see that. Not to mention that Linda Hamilton was a driving force in Terminator 2, well before Dark Fate was an idea. It would be be good for the writer to examine the difference between these films that have female leads at the heart of their story and established/maintained an IP largely due to these characters, and those films that have come out in recent years that are aiming to use existing IPs to market a "female reboot" for better or worse. – CAntonyBaker 2 years ago
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            Latest Comments

            Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

            Thank you for writing this. This has been an absolute favourite of mine for so very long, one of the few books that I have read across decades and found that it has lost nothing to a re-read. Even knowing the answer to the situation does not diminish the read.

            The Secret History: A Novel with Staying Power
            Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

            A great discussion that identifies a really important component of the role of fanfic in normalising diverse perspectives, indeed it is a great way to truly represent the wider world rather than the narrow, perpetually reinforced standards of “mainstream” (although that term needs a review as it no longer matches the mainstream audience or the demographic that views it) entertainment.
            Thanks for sharing.

            Fanfiction: An Ally to Queer Fans
            Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

            A great discussion with a needed reminder that others have already come before in pop-culture and their mark and their work should be remembered and reviewed. It is becoming more “normal” to see aging stars in TV and film but it would not have occurred as smoothly without these forerunners.

            How The Golden Girls Changed the Face and Narrative of Aging
            Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

            Thanks, great little read – who doesn’t love cosmic horror?

            How Cosmic Horror Made Paganism Great Again
            Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

            Thank you for your interesting discussion, I particularly valued your final discussion of the threats present in the response to current “female power” presentations in Hollywood. I agree that we are still a long way off seeing genuine female storytelling, but as always it is unsurprising that TV is leading where film is still just stagnating.

            GLOW: Actual Feminist Filmmaking in #MeToo Hollywood
            Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

            In interesting discussion. I’m a little unsold though as I think it is great to praise these changes I am still not sold on Disney’s genuine desire to demonstrate change – I think they have had better success in their portrayal of topics and issues then they have had in their gender development. But thanks for continuing the discussion.

            How Princesses of Color Have Improved the Disney Princess Narrative
            Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

            I do so love Carmody and Obernewtyn is a great text, but I think you would have had a more cohesive discussion if you used Kristeva’s concept through an exploration of a number of Carmody’s texts as this is quite a common theme for her and the use of mutation as a form of disruption to identity is indeed present. Thanks for sharing.

            David Ireland’s A Woman of the Future and Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn : Abjection and Mutation
            Sarai Mannolini-Winwood

            Good opening discussion of a very popular trope. I think though it would have been great to include a discussion about why we keep going back to this well – what is it about the concept of timetravel that draws in not only the creators but also the viewers. I like that you acknowledged the biggest issue is when obvious plot holes are present, and I think it is done best when it is built more fully into a longer experience not just a solution or a meaningless accident.

            Is Time Traveling an Effective Means of Storytelling?