Writer of both fiction and non-fiction with specific studies in History, Performance Art (including film/TV, animation and videogames) Writing, and Japanese Culture.
Junior Contributor III
Guilty Pleasures - Built on a Society of Shame
I’m afraid to tell people I love "Super Mario Bros." It’s awfully made, awfully told and awful in everyway. Yet in the same vein groups are popping up all over celebrating bad films and defending their right to enjoy them, from "Clue" to "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (yes, the original one). Many movies are considered poorly made, yet enjoyed by devoted followers, cult films if you will. Many more are seen as completely wasteful and the ultimate "bombs". Yet still many people find great entertainment in these films that the majority have written off as bad, naming them "guilty pleasures", i.e. something bad they are only allowed to like because they can’t help it. Can the public judge a film as not worth being made? Or should people be accepting of different tastes and try to remove the stigma "bad films" have (especially for those who enjoy them)? Can humanity ever look at all films as equal, and just rate by taste or is there an intrinsic human nature to defend ourselves from majorly disliked themes or techniques in filmmaking? Can explore evolving film methods (examining old films and how some stand up despite current technologies), notoriously "bad" films that have cult followings (Ed Wood’s works, films that are "so bad they’re good", etc) and/or personal moments of feeling shamed for liking something different than the mainstream.
Pride: The Sin of Sitcoms
Many sitcoms are driven by characters with strong personalities, stronger so than might be encountered in real life. These characters are often faced with difficulties episode to episode that deal with them conquering or at least examining said personalities. Pride in oneself and wanting to retain one’s unique personality is an interesting concept to explore in the leads of sitcoms. An examination of how pride drives main characters, from Sheldon on "Big Bang Theory" to Jerry on "Seinfeld", would be a most interesting article. Specifically focusing on how much pride is apparent in sitcoms, and how characters, while retaining a general personality learn lessons about themselves and are or are not willing to change would be interesting in a broader look at deconstructing sitcoms as a genre, and perhaps looking too at how Hollywood presents these characters which have stereotypically been associated with the film/tv industry, even in its own works. In short, how does pride affect sitcom leads, how do they struggle with it, is there a message about it that is being constantly presented by the show creators, and is its prevalence unique in these kinds of shows? Looking at different sitcoms, the specific situations within each and the similarities based on the character stories per episode or over a period of time will all be helpful in exploring this idea. Is the sitcom all about prideful characters learning humility and/or the aspect of pride in themselves and how to deal with it when faced with alternate scenarios where their way of thinking isn’t the best option?
Mickey or Fieval: Which mouse do you stand behind?
During the creating of "The Fox and the Hound" Don Bluth and several animators left Disney, disheartened with the direction things were going. In the years to come they would produce several critically-acclaimed children’s animated films (to call them cartoons seems rather derogatory in the face of such praise) which not only presented kids with a vastly different group of films to watch, but ones that contained elements different than the Disney pictures of the same time frame. With graphic death, scary scenes and dark lessons, Bluth (often quoted as saying "Kids can accept anything as long as there is a happy ending") has been criticized for going against the grain of what children’s films should contain. Examining this unusual event in film history, as well as other "children’s films" that have been controversial (including Disney’s own "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves"), discern what merits both sides of children’s filmmaking have (traditional and new age) and whether it is more beneficial to take a darker path or only allow happy endings and bright stories to fill the screens of young impressionable human beings.
Fiction Snatched from the Jaws of Truth
Many films take real-life historical characters to play major and/or important roles that add to a movie’s overall message. Everyone from William Wallace to King Baldwin IV has gripped audiences with their strong characters and pivotal roles. But these depictions of people long dead are by all means not entirely accurate. Often they are made sympathetic to allow the filmmakers to showcase a message or idea and while that is fine in fiction, circumstances are different for "nonfiction" films often boasted as "true stories" (not always prefaced by "based on" or "inspired by"). Should we allow films to bastardize these real-life people and depict them falsely against the actual things they did, only focusing on limited aspects or ideas of who they were? Examine the treatment of real-life figures in film and changes made to them to suit the work’s needs as opposed to the truth (such as ignoring or conveniently avoiding mentioning how they too tortured, raped, stole raped or hurt others to get their way) and if there could ever be a truly "nonfiction" film, if such liberties must always be taken. (Remember, even documentaries are written and edited to suit the goals of the makers.) Also examine if there is a differing treatment of long-dead, near-dead and still-living subjects of a film (such as Jesus, Winston Churchill and Bob Dylan, respectively).
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Afraid to commit (fictional) murder
In an interesting trend media throughout its existence seems to be afraid to kill off characters, especially important ones. From "Superman" to "Sherlock Holmes" key characters die, only to return due to some thought-up Deus Ex Machina in order to both have a sad catharsis followed by triumphant victory. But is it a true victory when the loss of death is negated? In a world where characters cannot die (IE, Digimon or Pokémon), versus one where characters do meet their permanent untimely end (Game of Thrones) what difference (in message or otherwise) does the audience experience as a result and what is the overall effect each technique causes for understanding of the stories?
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