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The Representation of Sexuality in Manga

Japanese manga in particular has cultivated a global fanbase while pushing creative boundaries regarding representation. Pioneers like Takemiya Keiko and Yamaguchi Ryoko crafted yuri narratives in the 1970s that tenderly portrayed girl-girl affection, cultivating an early queered fandom. Meanwhile, boys’ love genres like shonen and yaoi emerged independently, generating unprecedented gay male visibility. Works like Junjo Romantica continue building international audiences by frankly engaging queer themes formerly taboo.

It would prove illuminating to analyze narrative and stylistic choices within such genres, tracing artistic evolutions alongside shifting sociopolitical climates. For instance, one could investigate changing visual vocabularies surrounding gender non-conformity and transitions in works like Wandering Son or My Brother’s Husband (Satonaka, 2015; Kizu, 2019). How do illustrations of intersectional identity negotiate complex subjectivities in sensitive yet nuanced ways?

Considering cross-cultural reception and fandom practices could reveal much about globalizing queerness. Platforms like Tumblr incubated vibrant transnational online communities thriving on manga appropriations and translations. Exploring community formations through this digital lens may untangle dynamics of inclusion, gatekeeping and cultural exchange that broaden representation’s reach.

Manga provides a rich unconventional text through which to interrogate identity categories’ fluidity. I hope unpacking its stylised disruptions alongside real-world activist campaigns against increasing intolerance proves a thought-provoking avenue for collaborative study.


    Barbie VS. Oppenheimer: Why these movies are becoming a cultural phenomenon

    Two movies: Barbie, directed by Greta Gerwig, and Oppenheimer, directed by Christopher Nolen are getting massive publicity before they come out because of a social media trend.

    Why are these two movies sparking so much excitement, and will this help get people back into theaters?

    It would be interesting to analyze the new era of film marketing and what made the marketing of these films successful.

    • To be fair, Barbie and Oppenheimer are very different films with (presumably) very different target audiences. An interesting angle to look at would be how the 'Barbenheimer' phenonmenon helped both these films, where instead of rivalling the two at the box office, it became a shared activity that helped both films with ticket sales. Both directors have their individual fanbases and are known for making slightly out-of-box films, which may have what made them compatible. – Janhabi Mukherjee 4 weeks ago
    • Adding to the note above, I think it might be good to also look at how watching the films back to back in whichever order you want might compliment some of the themes in the movies, to my understanding. I think, on top of the social media trending for these two movies, something about their storytelling, and perhaps overlapping of either story elements, camera work, or themes, likely also impacted the Barbenheimer phenomena, so, it may be worth the writer of this topic's time to look into those and see if it matches up with reaction to the Barbenheimer trend on social media. – Siothrún 4 weeks ago

    Can Creators Redeem the Horror Genre's Inherent Ableism?

    Whether or not it’s "spooky season," the horror genre has hordes of devotees, and well it should. Horror gives us a safe outlet for facing our fears, exploring our inner demons, and pitting our inner heroes against some of the most frightening scenarios ever conceived in creators’ minds. Whether in books, in film, on the stage, or in some other medium, horror has earned its place as a revered genre.

    However, the 21st century has exposed a particular underbelly of horror: ableism. Many if not most horror villains either have some sort of disfigurement or disability, or can be read or "coded" as such. Frankenstein’s monster is a reanimated, grotesque corpse who speaks and acts like a caricature of an intellectually disabled man. The impetus for Dracula and vampires came from sufferers of porphyria, a fairly rare disease still poorly understood. Several seasons of American Horror Story, notably Asylum and Freak Show, paint disabled characters as frightening or grotesque if not outright villainous; at best, these characters are pitiable. The recent TV series Changeling centers on a demonic being whose changeling status has been compared to autism for centuries. Stephen King’s disabled horror characters aren’t villains, but are stereotypes, and pop up in almost all his novels.

    These examples might tempt us to "cancel" horror altogether, and certainly, the ableism within warrants serious discussion. But is there a way to stay true to the horror genre in coming years without sacrificing its conventions (e.g., updating classics to the point of unrecognizability)? Can a form of "new horror" decry ableism while bringing true dignity to coded disabled characters, or characters who are shunned or feared? Discuss.

    • I'm not sure I'd say that ableism is a problem in all horror genres, but it's definitely a reoccurring issue especially when it comes to monsters - though some also pull on other negative stereotypes, like Dracula as a European foreigner. I definitely think this is an interesting topic! – AnnieEM 1 month ago

    Inception & Jung

    The subconscious is the basis of both Christopher Nolan’s movie Inception and is one of the most foundational theories created by the iconic Swiss psychiatrist. It would be interesting to see the correlations and the strands of ideas Nolan had taken from Jung’s work on the subconscious and applied it to the big stream. Taking a look at what are some of the "Easter Eggs" Nolan had within the film as an ode to Jungian thought.

    • This sounds like a fun topic! I really admire Nolan's work, and I am sure he went to extensive lengths to connect the film to known psychiatric theory. Perhaps this topic would be even more interesting if we looked at other, less explicit, psychiatric, pshycological, or even philosophical connections that could be drawn from the film - whether they were intended connections or not. Consider the work of people like William James, Wegner, Wenzlaf, and Kozak to name a few. – jkillpack 4 years ago

    Materialist Hell: What is the ending of the Sopranos

    One of the most controversial endings in television is the ending of The Sopranos.

    A jarring cut to blackness and silence.

    Much can be speculated about the life that Tony has leading to a sudden and violent end vs. the contrasting position of a secularized hell. The core premise is, that Tony is in a constant state of death and undeath as he awaits the ending. The unending pain before it ends is as much of a torture as any demon could imagine putting him through.

    The writer should probably include a synopsis of the plot of The Sopranos along with other interpretations of the ending.

    • Okay, you're on the right track. But from the topic title and setup, I was expecting something about how and why The Sopranos and other series choose endings like this. Consider using Tony Soprano as a character who was "left in the lurch" because of this sort of ending, as well as the positive and negative results of such. (E.g., fans get to speculate about what really happened, but then again, they'll never know, so cue the Internet trolls, the arguing, the potential for awful remakes...) Add a couple more example characters. I think you could have a really deep article here. – Stephanie M. 1 month ago

    Uncut Gems: A happy ending?

    Uncut Gems is a Netflix original film about a jeweler Howard Ratner played by Adam Sandler who makes a high-stakes bet that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime but simultaneously could end up in his death.

    We see throughout the film, Howard takes numerous unnecessary risks as a gambling addict. In the end, even as he wins, he is murdered in cold blood. In a traditional story, this would be a sad ending, a tragedy.

    But, viewing the film in the modern era, as a tale not about flying too close to the sun and instead about the greatest catharsis, an ultimate victory, and the immediate cessation of future suffering.

    Howard if he continued living would have inevitably found himself in trouble, his addiction had led him to his death after all, but in the film during his greatest high, he is quickly and painlessly removed from any potential of that feeling to be lost by. He dies with his victory.

    Is that not a happy ending?


      Whiplash, Black Swan and Tar: the triumvirate of obsession

      Black Swan, the obsession with being the best at the cost of all else.

      Tar and the abusive teacher

      Whiplash, the synthesis of obsession and abuse leading to a sort of harmony.

      The films concern the performing arts in their various forms, each taking a distinct POV. But all of them run a similar line of thought which is "But at what cost"

      At what cost do we sacrifice our essential being to become, "a great" in Whiplash?

      Consequently what price is too high for "perfection" in Tar, and who pays when the tab is due?

      If we aren’t our accomplishments, who are we in Black Swan?

      In a society driven by a consumptive need to be the best, how much is too much to attain it?

      • It may be interesting to have The Perfection and I, Tonya as part of this discussion - especially in regards to the kind of personal motivations that drive the need to be best - even apart from individual ambition. – Janhabi Mukherjee 2 months ago

      What makes regency era period pieces so popular?

      Explore regency era nostalgia and how it is a big part of contemporary culture. Also discuss the role of technology and how and why people yearn for the pre digital age.

      Look at film and TV adaptations of the Regency era, such as Pride and Prejudice, Bridgerton, Emma, Becoming Jane, Belle, Sanditon, Death Comes to Pemberley, etc). Many of these are based on or around Jane Austen and her works. Discuss Austen’s influence on the Regency era and the subsequent rise in “Regencycore” in fashion and entertainment.

      • I think that Dimension 20's "A Court of Fey and Flowers" demonstrates a good answer to that question. Regency relies upon emotional stories, as opposed to totally power driven narratives. They aren't necessarily about the clash of big G Good, and big e Evil, but about the messy, dramatic, and difficult parts of people's lives. They can be very emotional, and very exciting. I believe people yearn for a pre-digital age (consciously or not, intentionally or not), because the human connection available was both not as overwhelming (as say the internet, which contains perhaps all of human knowledge?), and also more personal, more intimate, more direct. Screens are screens. They literally stand between the people connecting. Regency is just one of many eras/genres which predates digital and film tech (and one of the most recent periods) – skjamin 10 months ago
      • -It's glamorous and opulent, sitting at a sweet spot of history between the dirty and unenlightened middle ages so you can portray royal elegance without having to ignore the dirty and superstitious reality of Medieval Europe, country estates are a much more romantic setting than a castle. -It also takes place just before the industrial revolution and all of the social problems associated with modernity, -Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters, even Marry Shelly are really one of the earliest cohorts of female writers with an enduring legacy that can be tied to a specific literary movement (in my uneducated opinion) and thus those stories persevere. – Cedarfireflies55 8 months ago
      • Regency-era popular culture pieces significantly identified the manifestation of affect. The crucial contribution of feelings and emotions parallel to or in opposition to rationalism portrayed the complexity of regency-era productions that made them appealing to the audience. I think the sudden surge of highly sexualized films and storylines and an obsessive focus on individual identities led more than a few frustrated viewers back to the era of romantic relationships where human emotions were valued and not over-analyzed psychoanalytical. – Golam Rabbani 2 months ago
      • I might suggest limiting the discussion to pieces like Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Bridgerton, Becoming Jane, and the like. Nothing wrong with Death Comes to Pemberley or Belle, but I see these two as crossing into different genres or belonging in other discussions. That is, Belle has a Regency backdrop, but is more about her life and search for identity as a biracial woman. Death Comes to Pemberley is a P&P offshoot/pays homage, but is more a mystery story. – Stephanie M. 1 month ago

      Time-out features in video games

      Video games can often be addicting, and it can be very tempting to play for long periods of time without stopping. To stop this, some games (mostly those designed with kids and families in mind) will implement features designed to stop players from going overboard and playing for too long. This can be a pop-up message noting that you’ve played for quite a while and should take a break (such as those seen in Wii games like Wii Sports) or a feature integrated into the game itself (such as the iconic phone call from your dad in Earthbound).
      These types of features serve a useful purpose, especially when it comes to games for kids whose parents might want to regulate their screen time but also for anyone. But of course, they also break immersion and can feel frustrating. This article would discuss the time-out features of video games, and their positives and negatives.


        Batman, Realism and systemic problems of Gotham

        Batman as a character is one of numerous contradictions. He’s a normal human but a superhero. He’s a vigilante who fights crime. He’s a hero who fights in cruel often dark and unethical ways. Batman is often criticized for not taking more systemic solutions to the problems of crime within Gotham. This is not without merit as a billionaire with virtually limitless wealth when it comes to supplying his crusade of crime and punishment. But, at the same time, what actually can be done within the continuity of DC comics to counteract the criminal element in Gotham? He’s just as likely to fight a woman with the power to control every nearby plant as he is to fight a carjacker. Even if he was able to use his liquid funds to curb homelessness and food insecurity, he’d still have a killer clown shooting poison gas. How does one reform that?

        At what point does the reality of comics diverge from the goal of realism many fans and writers desire?

        • I would suggest the article's author expand to more than just Batman. Consider other comics' takes on "realism." In The Boys, it's almost like crimes are planned and staged by the corporation that owns the heroes, and the public perception of these crimes is carefully curated. In alternate versions of the DC universe, such as Injustice, the only way to reform crime is conquering the world, dystopia-style. – noahspud 2 months ago

        The draw of idle games

        On flash game websites (such as Kongregate), there is an abundance of idle games, and every time I look there seem to be more. They seem to be very popular, despite the lack of gameplay (hence the ‘idle’). So what is the draw behind idle games, and why are they so prolific? Examples to consider could be cookie clicker, anti-idle, crush crush, etc.

        • I like the idea of investigating this further, however, I think maybe there needs to be more suggested for the discussion. A lot of these games have a psychological impact on the player of achieving and collecting so exploring these player motivation models would be a good foundation. Then building it out into a wider context with similar systems in other games. So using something like City Skylines or other sim/management games as these have a capacity of idle gameplay to support further, more active gameplay later on. – CAntonyBaker 4 years ago
        • Expand, please? I'm not familiar with this term. You might compare/contrast with whatever the opposite of an idle game is, and define what the opposites are as well. – Stephanie M. 1 month ago

        The Appeal of Nonsense Literature: A Remedy for a Mad, Mad World?

        For many of us, our first exposure to nonsense literature in general came in the form of nonsense poetry. Authors such as Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Dr. Seuss and Spike Milligan used non-sensical verse to subvert the power of language to label and own the world. Oxford scholars now suggest the origins of nonsense literature may be found in the 11th century, although there is circumstantial evidence to suggest an even older origin, possibly as far back as Aristophanes.

        Nonsense poetry (and, by extension, nonsense literature in general) is now an officially recognised subset of the international language of literature, and elements have even crept into everyday usage. For instance, few people know that the oft-used word ‘nerd’ was invented by Dr. Suess.

        In addition to the names listed above, Ivor Cutler, James Joyce, Rudyard Kipling, Jorge Luis Borges, Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, François Rabelais, Flann O’Brien, Velimir Khlebnikov and Sukumar Ray (to name but a few) have all used either nonsense or nonsensical structure in their works, as have Bob Dylan, David Byrne (Talking Heads) and Syd Barret (Co-founder of Pink Floyd).

        Discuss how the anarchic power of nonsense writing can be liberating, both to the author/writer and to the reader/audience. Choose whatever examples you wish and show how, by breaking the established rules of grammar, punctuation and capitalisation, nonsense can also sometimes even act as a remedy for a mad, mad world.


          Coding, Bait, and Representation: Different Forms of Queer Media

          Analyze different ways that queerness has been tackled in literature over time, with particular attention paid to the shift in recent years away from queer coded characters to queer characters whose sexuality/queerness is explicitly stated and explored in the text. One of the most direct ways to look at this is through fairy tales. Many fairy tales when read through a queer lens reveal a rich queer subtext, even if they were not written with this intention. On the other side of the token, in modern times it’s common to write explicitly queer retellings of fairy tales, which bring that subtext to the forefront and make it textual, rather than regulating it to a subtextual reading. (This could be applied to storytelling as a whole, but it would be useful to narrow it down to one specific medium like classic vs contemporary literature. It could also have examples from TV & anime/manga).

          An article on this topic could also spend time on queerbaiting, which in some ways occupies a unique middle ground: characters that are queer coded enough for queer viewers to find them compelling and therefore a profitable audience, but not so explicitly queer that the writers ever have to commit to that reading (the show Supernatural comes up a lot as an example in these sorts of conversations). With many stories, it is worthwhile to go back and read them through a queer lens due to them containing rich queer subtext that wasn’t able to be made explicit in the time it was written (Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde and the Awakening by Kate Chopin comes to mind). However, when it comes to modern stories where censorship is less of a valid obstacle, this reliance on queer coding without explicit confirmation becomes baiting when done intentionally. (There is plenty of grey area when it comes to unintentional queer coding and where that line is drawn.)

          Additionally, this could also explore which types of queer characters are most needed in media today. While queer coding in classic literature is very important to look back on, now that explicit queer narratives ARE more normalized, it feels reductive to go back to storytelling that keeps all of its queerness beneath the surface. Nevertheless, a counterpoint to this push for explicit queer narratives would be that, at times, this type of storytelling can become heavy handed. It may be an issue where everyone’s ideal form of queer representation is subjective.

          • I think it's also worth noting that queerbaiting is often referred to as a marketing tactic - some media will sell the story as being queer, but not actually show this during the piece itself (eg a social media account posting a pride month post featuring a character or two, but these character's queerness doesn't actually get mentioned in the piece of media at all). It's a term that gets a lot of use, and some people seem to use it in very different ways with different meanings. Regardless, I do like this topic idea. – AnnieEM 6 months ago

          The usage of body horror to create a sense of horror in Parasyte: The Maxim

          Analyze the ways in which the 2014 anime, Parasyte: The Maxim uses body horror to elicit a feeling of terror by analyzing body horror as a genre of fiction and an art style. Delve into the artwork of Junji Ito and H. R. Giger, cataloging techniques and defining terms, all to show how Parasyte is a product of a body horror genre.

          • What about also comparing to Junji Ito's works? He is most famous for his tackling of body horror? – Beatrix Kondo 9 months ago

          Beyond Gratuitous Sadness: Unmasking Trauma Porn in Film and Literature

          Discuss how to discern genuine quality from exploitative storytelling. Gratuitous sadness in movies and books is a contentious issue, with some works blurring the line between genuine emotion and exploitative storytelling. To determine if a movie or book is truly good or just trauma porn, readers and viewers can look for key indicators. Examining the intent behind the portrayal of sadness, evaluating the depth and complexity of character development, and considering the impact on the audience’s emotional well-being are crucial factors to consider. For example, novels like "A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara and the 2023 movie "Close" by Lukas Dhont, have sparked debates on the fine line between authentic emotional storytelling and gratuitous trauma exploitation. Understanding these nuances can help discern between quality storytelling and sensationalized trauma porn.

          • I think how you define "genuine quality" and "truly good" should either be elaborated on; or, the effects of gratuitous sadness should be judged according to a less subjective measure than goodness and quality, for example, by authenticity – Yusra Usmani 8 months ago

          The Trans Advocacy in Across the Spiderverse

          In "Across the Spiderve," while there may not be a trans character, the presence of a trans advocate is an important aspect to explore. As a writer, it’s crucial to consider the following points when delving into this theme:

          Elevating Trans Advocacy: Highlight the role of the trans advocate in the film and their efforts to promote trans visibility and inclusivity. Explore their motivations, struggles, and achievements, emphasizing their dedication to creating a more accepting society.

          Amplifying Trans Voices: Showcase the trans advocate’s journey of advocacy, including their activism, community engagement, and initiatives aimed at raising awareness and challenging societal norms. Emphasize the impact of their work in creating positive change and fostering dialogue.

          Overcoming Obstacles: Address the challenges faced by the trans advocate, such as resistance, discrimination, and backlash. Illustrate how they navigate these obstacles with resilience, determination, and strategic approaches, inspiring others to join their cause.

          Collaborative Approach: Highlight the importance of collaboration between the trans advocate and other communities, organizations, or allies. Explore how they build alliances, bridge gaps, and promote unity in working towards a more inclusive society.

          Empowering Others: Showcase the trans advocate’s efforts to empower individuals within the trans community and beyond. Illustrate how they provide resources, support networks, and platforms for marginalized voices, fostering a sense of belonging and encouraging others to embrace their authentic selves.

          By exploring these aspects, you can effectively convey the significance of the trans advocate’s role in "Across the Spiderve" and emphasize the power of advocacy in promoting trans visibility and acceptance in society.

          • i like – anonymous7608 3 months ago
          • Can I write about this one? In the article I can explain the trans advocacy and everything else. – Beatrix Kondo 3 months ago
          • Hey, I'm *really* interested in taking this topic, once I'm finished with one of the ones that I've already grabbed. I was wondering, though, if it would be okay to talk about Gwen's trans coding throughout a lot of the film? I've been thinking about ways to tie this back to the topic of advocacy, and I feel like that could definitely be part of it, especially if I compare Gwen's comic appearance to how it is in the film. As a member of the community, I really value seeing a topic like this on the site. In any case, please let me know what you think! – Siothrún 1 month ago
          • I think it is a perfect approach 😊 – Beatrix Kondo 1 month ago
          • Perfect! I am gathering ideas on this and finishing up some edits on my current topic while also finishing up NanoWriMo, so, I should be able to take this topic soon. – Siothrún 2 weeks ago

          Are audiences losing media literacy?

          Media literacy is the ability to understand and analyze works such as movies, television, books, and even video games. That said in recent years there’s been a notable lack of nuance in media discussions and even worse a rise in pushback against anything that challenges the audience’s comfort,
          claims such as "All sex scenes are useless", "protagonists shouldn’t be bad/do immoral things" and "There should be a clear lesson in a story"

          46% of American adults in a survey say that they didn’t learn media literacy in schools, which begs the question of why not? What consequences have arisen due to low media literacy and how can they be corrected going forward?


            Burn After Reading - The Idiot Plot

            "The Idiot Plot, of course, is any plot that would be resolved in five minutes if everyone in the story were not an idiot."
            — Roger Ebert in his review of Narrow Margin (1990)

            The 2008 black comedy "Burn After Reading" by the Coen Brothers is a film of fools doing foolish things to disastrous consequences. Each character for the most part overestimates their own standing and refuses to see the world as it is, but is that ideologically driven, do these people within the story have ideologies? For a film that is based in D.C. and told from the perspective of a C.I.A operative it’s politics are remarkably scant, so then what drives each character to behave the way they do?


              How will the Manosphere influence Self-Help Books?

              The manosphere movement, which propagates misogynistic and discriminatory views under the guise of men’s empowerment, has the potential to negatively impact the reputation and content of the self-help book industry. One danger is the appropriation of common self-help concepts like building confidence or setting goals by manosphere advocates, who then apply these principles in toxic ways to reinforce regressive attitudes toward women and gender roles. As a result, some constructive self-help ideas risk becoming tainted by association. Additionally, if manosphere ideology creeps into the mainstream, it spreads an insidious narrative that relationships are transactional, women use their sexuality as leverage, and traditional notions of masculinity are ideal. This worldview could filter into otherwise positive self-help books, contaminating them with embedded toxic assumptions.

              The manosphere also relies heavily on junk science and evolutionary psychology theories to justify their beliefs about female manipulation or male dominance hierarchies. The use of such pseudo-science as evidence in certain self-help books lends an air of credibility to these harmful ideologies. Self-help books appeal to vulnerable audiences seeking life improvement. Manosphere influencers may capitalize on this demand to attract followers and indoctrinate them with extremist, discriminatory attitudes toward women disguised as empowerment.


              Arrow: Oliver Queen's Trauma Recovery

              In the CW’s Arrow, before Oliver Queen got stuck on Trauma Island, he was a stereotypical Billionaire Playboy. When he got back, he spent a lot of time pretending he was still the same person, in order to cover up who he had really become: a vigilante on a quest for justice. Oliver pretended his five years of trauma hadn’t dramatically changed him.
              This was part of Oliver’s strategy for recovering from his trauma. While he worked on becoming a healthier (less angry and murderous) person with the help of his trusted friends, he pretended he had already recovered.
              An article on this topic could analyze the progress Oliver makes on his trauma recovery over the course of the show.