Topics: Sarai Mannolini-Winwood


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Is The Peripheral a gateway to Hard Sci-Fi?

The Peripheral (2022) is a recent sci-fi TV drama series based on the book by the same name by William Gibson. It was developed by Westworld creators and has a similar aesthetic. The series is set roughly a decade in the future with a focus on how technology can change society (similar themes to Westworld), but primarily follows the creation of an alternate reality that a VR gamer gains access to. The main narrative begins in the Blue Ridge mountains in the USA where Flynn and her brother Burton accept an opportunity to beta test an advanced VR game.

What is interesting about The Peripheral is that it is Hard Sci-Fi: it includes alternate realities, consequences of technology, dystopian societal states, VR, body modifications and nanotechnology. Throughout the show the technology both in the near future reality in USA and the futuristic capital of London is based in scientific developments that are a mere step from our present. The extrapolations are linked to scientific discovery and justified well within the scope of the progression in the series. By beginning in a more relatable near future with the slow introduction of different technology, the viewer is lead smoothly and easily into accepting such technology as a reality within the context of this series. The careful handling of the plotting allows even the most mainstream viewers to be eased into what is basically Hard Sci-Fi.

This is a very brief overview of a complicated progression through a series that makes every hour episode feel like a movie with the density of events and character development. It would be interesting to map this more fully, and explore the actual progression of how and in what order different technology is introduced and explored to help scaffold a viewer’s experience of being eased into Hard Sci-Fi. It is also an interesting series to look at how the handling of futuristic Sci-Fi can be managed without becoming disjointed or pretentious (for instance a comparison to MoonHaven would be interesting to explore). Finally, the series eludes quite strongly to the consequences of our current state of affairs with the Jackpot and an analysis of the implications of this to where we are currently located would be interesting to explore the extrapolation of a near dystopic future of our actual world.


    Dungeons and Dragons OGL Upset

    The RPG controversy of the year was Wizards of the Coast, a Hasbro subsidiary, draft Open Game License changes sent fans and game developers into an uproar. The OGL was a default license established in 2000 that allowed fans to use portions of the Dungeons and Dragons property in their own work. This was framed in similar ways to open software licensing in that it could be used as a foundation to create independent works as long as it was using the specific System Reference Document in doing so. This allowed gamers to develop their own works and even to sell them. The most commercialised version of this was the work of Kobold Press and Green Ronin that developed independent games using the SRD as a base. This has always been a successful space for creative engagement with a beloved property.

    On January 4th 2023 a new OGL 1.1 was to be released but an early leak of this content exploded into the zeitgeist with very concerning changes including WOTC ability to claim royalties from sold works and complete control over the content produced. The backlash was huge and fans and content creators both began to rally online and establish a response to the changes. This response included unsubscribing from WOTC’s digital toolset and protesting in social media. Further, the largest third party users (whose income was most threatened by the change) announced plans to step away and redevelop their own games.

    WOTC has retracted its plans but the damage is done. But a number of key questions have begun to be raised: Was this a failure to listen to its fandom? Was this merely a cash grab? Has this action doomed WOTC and its aligned products into the future? Has this been the initiative needed to get more producers developing independent game engines? What does fully open sourced mean financially for game developers? How will this shape the next twenty years of gaming? And, significantly, does this mean D&D is dead?


      The value of friendship

      There is a lot of amazing TV out there to watch at the moment, however, a lot of it is heavy, deep, meaningful and dramatic. There is nothing wrong with this as it explores the experiences of humanity in a meaningful way. But there needs to be a balance of good, low-impact, moral, pleasing shows that are also not just about romance. Whatever happened to the value of friendship in TV?

      An Australian comedy-drama Rosehaven is a show with a simple premise. A son returns to the small town he grew up in, in Tasmania to help run his mother’s real estate business. His best friend who was going off to her honeymoon is left by her husband. She decides to go join her bestie in Tasmania, and just stays. Although the show includes sub-plots on romance, the dramas of small town, emotional growth, it is primarily about friendship and what that means. [SPOILER] The show ends with a faux wedding with the town wanting them to end up together, but they don’t – they are just good friends.
      Yes, boys and girls can just be good friends without everyone needing to be pared off within the friendship group (looking at Friends here).

      Friendship is a huge part of everyone’s experiences. Too many shows use this framing to drive drama, especially in young adult shows such as Gossip Girl or The OC. When in fact for most people it is the friendships that endure not always the relationships and lovers.
      This topic is proposing a dive into all the shows that should be celebrated for their focus on the value of friendship above all else. In a period in time when we are living a life full of angst, trauma and drama, perhaps a greater focus on shows that perpetuate positive experiences of real life values is needed. What do you think?

      • I think an examination of platonic heterosexual friendship is worth examining, especially with the popular consciousness being, "you have to hook up" it would be good to shine a light on shows and other media that reject the premise and elevate the idea of just being good friends. – SunnyAgo 1 year ago
      • It is noteworthy that starting a paragraph with a discussion about friendship, in general, is appealing. Friendship: What is it? What exactly qualifies as friendship and what doesn't? Does friendship come in a variety of forms? There are three different types of friendships, for instance, according to Aristotle: friendships that are useful, pleasant, and virtuous. According to Aristotle, true friendship is the third type of relationship. What then are the qualities of such a friendship? The author may investigate the potential lines of male and female relationships to determine whether they are compatible with such traits. And most likely, yeah! Another thing to think about is to find an example of a show that has the opposite result from the one shown here. In other words, a scenario in which a man and a woman start off as friends before falling in love. By doing so, the author is able to compare the two examples and determine the types of friendship that existed in each case, as well as how one example of a friendship evolved into a different form of relationship as time went on, but not the other. – Samer Darwich 1 year ago
      • This is more in response to sunny's note. This also could quickly turn into a conversation about love. As in Bleach Zangestu before finally teaching Ichigo the final Gestugaitensho, Zangestu states he loves Ichigo. Now this is clearly not a sexual love and more of a mentor to student relationship. And he does not want to see Ichigo hurt, which over the course of the series Ichigo has done many things to protect his friends and Karukara town. And this is ultimately is what is causing Ichigo so much stress, which finally leads to Zangestu telling him he does not care about any of things Ichigo values. He only cares about Ichigo, which puts him in a difficult position as he helps Ichigo achieve his goals because only wants to see Ichigo happy, but helping him is also leading him to suffer more. I believe we often take platonic displays of affection and interpret it as romantic. This isn't even just limited to Bleach (Naruto and Sasuke, Batman and Robin, House and Wilson, Dominic Toretto and Brian O'Conner are all character who have a platonic relationship that is often subject to the idea they're secretly gay for one another.) Which I somewhat understandable as in the past before homosexuality was accepted, many gay men would get married to women only to dissuade rumors that their gay. These women were often called these men's "beard". This is part of the reason all relationship whether it is between a man and woman, woman and woman, or man and man is subject to the idea that character a romantically attracted to one another, when it is mostly just a platonic relationship, and individuals simply care about each other deeply. – Blackcat130 1 year ago

      Female Warrior Archetype

      In no way is the female warrior a new archetype, but what is new is the increasing mainstream TV portrayals of faceted versions of such characters. With the changes occurring in the representation of women in TV we are seeing a great up take of new presentations of women in what have been predominantly male roles/positions.
      An examination of this progression and the emergence of new perspectives on the female warrior would be a timely discussion.

      Some examples you ask?
      Take ‘Wynonna Earp’ first. Westerns have traditionally focused on masculine frontier storytelling where women have two roles (chorus girl or wife – to put it politely) that are fundamentally centred on the men in the story. Wynonna is an alcoholic, damaged and has so much emotional baggage it fills the show. She is flawed, she is all the western cliches and she is still the biggest "bad ass" on the show.
      Consider ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ next. ST has actually been fairly forward with the presentation of women in roles of power and has often represented them in new and relevant versions…until the most recent films, when they were regressed back to wearing short dresses, go-go boots and being vulnerable. Michael (with a very traditionally masculine name) exemplifies the characteristics of a warrior, to the degree that the first season is framed by her act of violence.
      ‘Motherland: Fort Salem’ is literally a show about warrior witches. They are training and learning to be warriors. This is a show that fulfills many of the traditional tropes in masculine representations of war/combat style archetypes. Many of the subplots within the show follow traditional subplot paths of such genres, including characterisations of particular stereotypes such as the recruit, the cocky fighter, the drill sergeant, and so on.

      There are so many more that could be discussed and explored. It is interesting to see the changes to these representations that are able to balance traditional “feminine” characteristics of the characters with traditional representations of masculine warrior traits in a manner the begins to normalise a greater diversity in gender representations.


        Is it strategy or stupidity? Morbius and Sony

        Morbius is the superhero film released by Sony as part of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe. It grossed 73.4m in the US and Canada and 90m worldwide. At release it finished first at the box office, which is not unusually for any superhero film, but then experienced a drop of 74% to be the second-worst superhero movie behind only an obscure tentpole superhero movie from 1997 called Steel. The critical response to the movie has been overwhelmingly negative with 3.8/10 from Rotten Tomatoes and comments such as "critically bad" from Variety. The negative reception spread quickly across the internet creating an ironic meme, which somehow led to Sony deciding to re-release it to 1,000 theatres on June 3rd, during which it made $310,665.

        What is most confusing is the manner in which both the fans and Sony have responded to the release. The sour critical reception seems to have bolstered a collective "hate watch" that is generating revenue for Sony. The company, which seems unconcerned by the negative response appears to have taken the influx of internet attention as a positive and decided to re-release the film to cinema. So what happened?
        Is the Sony team so out of touch with its audience that it truly believed that the reception was positive, even though box office numbers clearly indicated otherwise? Was it an act of cashing in on internet popularity? Was it the belief that enough people would pay to "hate watch" it again?
        Was the movie that bad? The critics are critical, but aren’t they always? Is this so terrible that it deserves the derision it is receiving, or is this an example of the toxicity of the internet where everyone loves to do nothing more than hate together? Should this level of response be lauded or declaimed?
        An interesting case study to social responses to film.

        • This topic is very interesting. Maybe you can look into different posts from fans about reasons why they didn't like the movie, and then dive more into specific flaws from Morbius? – taliadmit 1 year ago

        How a children's television show band won Australia's national music competition

        ‘The Wiggles’ are an Australian children’s music group that was formed in 1991. Around 1997 they sold a self financed show to Disney Channel Australia and became a hit. They broke into the USA market in 1998 with successful airing of their show and touring. In 2017 they signed a deal with NBC Universal to be available to 58 million American households. To say they are doing well is an understatement. But why, and how, did a children’s band win a national poll?

        Triple J Hottest 100 has been around in different forms since 1988. In 2022 2.5million votes had been submitted for the selection of this years selection. The selection of music is limited to favourite Australian and alternative music of the previous year. The tipping lead was actual Kid Laroi and Justin Beiber’s collaboration. Although largely a popularity vote it is still considered a great honour to be selected onto the top 100 list.

        So again, why is a children’s TV show even in the running? For whatever reason The Wiggles were invited to perform on Triple J in ‘Like A Version,’ which is for a band to cover in their own style another’s work. The Wiggles covered Tame Impala’s 2012 song Elephant while also infusing it with a chorus from their song Fruit Salad. That is the song that won.

        What happened? Well two main thoughts are: it is nostalgia or it was a joke. Both of these are interesting to pursue at a deeper level.

        If this is about nostalgia is this a response to the pandemic life of the last few years? A reach backwards to a simpler time and a happier world? What is it about nostalgia that drives a response stronger than any other factor? Is there a rise in nostalgia driven popular culture due to the pandemic? I’m not actually sure there has been. Instead most of the discussion about nostalgia was happening five years ago around the endless remake and reboot of film and TV.

        If it is not nostalgia is it a joke? What is it about Australian culture that drives the desire to use humour in every place? A recent TV show that actively challenges concepts around Indigenous rights and Settlement, ‘Firebite’, uses humour to tackle colonisation. Is humour then more important in Australian popular culture than any other approach? Is this the defining characteristic of Australian popular culture.

        • Good questions, but I think you're jumping topics a bit here. Try broadening from just The Wiggles winning this competition, to an article on how Australian culture handles humor, laughs at itself, etc. – Stephanie M. 1 year ago

        Mr Big or Aidan? Team Edward or Team Jacob? Angel or Spike? What is it about love triangles that drive fan-fiction?

        The love triangle is a well established trope. The most common version is for three people to connected through love, decisions and actions that will determine a final pairing of two. There are many versions and alternatives of these tropes, but they are all largely beloved by readers and viewers. What is it about the love triangle that is so appealing? Is it that it provides a voyeuristic pleasure of imagining yourself in the position of the desiree? To be so desired and pursued by not one but two people? Is it just that the level of anticipation is increased as now there are multiple ways to introduce sexual tension in their interactions? Is it simply that it makes good character foils to highlight the protagonist’s own qualities?

        In fandom the obsession with "shipping" couples is a huge driving point for fan-fiction. Whether it is about the impending wars or the impending threesome, it is also about the distinction of choice. Should Carrie have ended up with Aiden? Should Buffy have just had a threesome with Spike and Angel (the comic series in fact implies she’d have been down with that)? Even beyond the main characters there is a lot of repositioning of characters to end up with others. This has also occurred to great affect in better representations of the LGBTQIA community by showing a variety of love options. But again, why do we get so engaged as fans in these love triangles, and with wanting our preferred match to occur?

        Love is an universal theme. It is a vital ingredient, whether we are talking romantic or platonic. But viewers love complicated love. Why can’t love be honest and straight forward? Well obviously that would make less of an interesting story for many shows. But is this representation of complicated love healthy? Are love triangles real things? Why is it normalised that it is okay to string along two perfectly decent people because you can’t make a decision or have an honest conversation?

        The love triangle – an interesting topic to break apart.

        • “Viewers love complicated love.” I love this. And I am going to play devil’s advocate a little here by asking: Is there such a thing as uncomplicated love? It is, in fact, a legitimate societal pursuit, but maybe fictional representation—especially commercial romance fiction—is exactly looking for that kind of love to depict. – T. Palomino 1 year ago
        • Great topic. Lots of great triangles to draw on. Rory's boyfriends on Gilmore Girls, Jan and Carol to Michael on The Office... It seems a simply intentional act by entertainment programs to have the audience on "teams," rooting for different characters, to warrant giving those characters more or less screen time. – StephRose 1 year ago
        • I think this is a super interesting and relevant topic! I think love triangles really draw on the idea of 'forbidden love'. Usually the person of desire begins with one love interest and then later, finds themselves infatuated with the second love interest (the second being perhaps the more 'forbidden' option of the two, or the one who is usually the more morally ambiguous). Think of Damon and Stephan from the Vampire Diaries as an example for this. Elena first begins with Stephan who is kind, considerate and protective. However after 3 long seasons, Elena finds herself with Damon, the 'bad' guy with a very different moral compass to Stephan. The tension between Elena and Damon is long and suspenseful, peaking interest in audiences; When will they get together? How will they get together? Will they even ever get together? What will happen to Stephan? – celeste239 1 year ago

        Biographical truth or the real heart of the story?

        ‘Dickinson’ is the Apple TV series 2019-2021 about American poet Emily Dickinson. The premise (taken from Anreeva & Pelski 2018) is that Dickinson takes place "during Emily Dickinson’s era with a modern sensibility and tone. It takes viewers into the world of Emily, audaciously exploring the constraints of society, gender, and family from the perspective of a budding writer who doesn’t fit in to her own time through her imaginative point of view. Dickinson is Emily’s coming-of-age story – one woman’s fight to get her voice heard."

        The best word there is audaciously – the series makes direct use of Dickinson’s actual poetry throughout the series to theme the episodes and to add to a story about a complex poet. Biographies on Dickinson indicate she was an isolated, eccentric and (reading between the lines) anxious woman in a period of relatively large gender, race and class oppression. Little of her poetry was actually published through her life, and most information about her is based on her prolific letter writing. It is easy to see through the series that they have taken great liberties with both her character and her life…but is this a problem? The show itself heavily highlights the oppressive period she lived during and her struggles as a poet and a woman. Many of the themes and topics are ones that resonate with young women today – about finding self, about morality, about understanding life and love and friendship.

        It would be interesting to explore this topic in more depth: is there value in taking liberties with a real person’s life and works if it still serves the message or purpose of their story? Can a fictional biography be as meaningful to the contemporary viewer as a real biography? Or is this a betrayal of a woman who suffered enough during her own time?

        • This definitely has the potential to be an interesting article. On thing that I think whoever writes this article should consider is the degree of centrality that Dickinson in particular would bear to the article as a whole. In other words, is this an article principally about the series that asks question about its onus to its historical protagonist, or is it a general inquiry about how fictionalized media should handle the representation of historical figures (using Dickinson as a case study)? Your choice of title implies the latter, but everything else you've written here points more so to the former. There are a lot of interesting films and series right now taking similar approaches to filtering period settings/characters through contemporary sensibilities: e.g. The Great (2020-) and The Death of Stalin (2017) both immediately come to mind, but we could arguably also expand this question into literary adaptations like The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019), Little Women (2019), Emma (2020), Cyrano (2021), and the entire filmography of Baz Luhrmann, since fidelity to a source-text can often be a similar argument to fidelity to the "real" life of a biographical subject. I wonder if the single-case study approach would necessarily do justice to the phenomenon as a whole, especially if that broader analytical goal were framed as the main intent of the article. Just my two cents. – ProtoCanon 2 years ago

        Social and television topic changes over time as seen through the lens of Star Trek

        Star Trek the television series first debuted in 1966 as what is dubbed ‘The Original Series’ during which the costuming, role allocation and even ethical storytelling both reflected the socio-cultural context of USA, but also challenged and invited complex discussions about morality, ethics and rights. It, and the following original series, walked a fine line of being commercial enough to appeal to audiences as well as being true to the Science-Fiction genre in that it needed to engage in deep discussions about what it means to "be." ‘Enterprise’ was the last of the original broadcasts ending in 2005 before the success of the film "reboot" in 2009. The 2009 film ‘Star Trek’ reinforced a number of stereotypes and cliches that were disappointingly lacking in the nuance of the original series, and for a moment it seemed it was finished with again.

        Then came the new television revival with ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ that not only again reflected the excitement and challenges of space exploration, but also touched on the same socio-cultural concerns current in contemporary society. It was a show that began to speak about issues we face in our own world. From here spanned out a range of new shows from ‘Picard’ to ‘Lower Decks’ that each began to broaden the world of Star Trek, but also found new ways to engage in important conversations.

        An article looking at the different discussions, topics and socio-cultural confirmations and challenges across the timeline of Star Trek would be fascinating. It is one of very few shows to have spanned such a large period of time on television that has not simply reflected back social norms. I would be interested to see a deeper analysis of this topic.


          A new Foundation

          The new TV show ‘Foundation’ from Apple is an imagining of Isaac Asimov’s novella series of the same name. With an initial two episode drop the show has already received mixed reviews.

          As always it is difficult to deal with any type of adaptation. There will always be those for whom the original material, and their personal experience with it, cannot be eclipsed. However, the point of adaptations is to allow a re-imagining of source material within the context of the period it is re-produced in. Even the nay-sayers have to admit this depiction of the fall of a great Empire, corrupt and dystopic, underpinned by a focus on a ‘genetic legacy’ that infers an extreme type of nepotism, is as extremely relevant in message and content today as it was when Asimov wrote it.

          Already in two episodes the show has raised a myriad of questions about religion, politics, and technology that have contemporary value. A discussion of the original work and its social connections, which is then compared to the changes made in the show that reflect the social concerns of today, would be a valuable discussion to have. It would be interesting to examine the changes made by the showrunners, and how that fits within the socio-political and technological landscape of today.

          • I think this would be a great topic! As you say, an adaptations must be considered in regard to the context it is adapting source material into but I think analysing the context of the source material as well would be helpful as well. I think a comparative approach with reference to the similarities and differences between Asimov's context and our own would lead to a great discussion. Especially, as the argument could be applied to many adaptations that have be re-produced about these days (or will be coming out, for example the upcoming Dune movie). – HarryP 2 years ago

          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 3 years ago
          • Oooh, I love a good moral dilemma! Nice topic! – Stephanie M. 2 years ago

          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.


            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.


              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 3 years ago
              • 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 3 years ago
              • "Warrior nuns"--two words i never thought would go together. Sounds fascinating! – Stephanie M. 3 years ago
              • 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 3 years ago
              • I just assumed this was an outgrowth of the movie "Priest." – Joseph Cernik 3 years ago

              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?


                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.


                  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?


                    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 4 years ago
                    • @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 4 years ago
                    • The female action hero rose around three decades ago. – monkeylove 4 years ago
                    • 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 4 years ago
                    • 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 4 years ago

                    The detrimental toll of hype

                    Part of marketing is the driving up of hype, but in fact little active promotion is needed by many films and TV these days as most fans drive the movement with their own social media discussions and excitement. But is this proving detrimental to the work? For instance, with the close of the saga ‘Game of Thrones’ the hype and expectation around the wrapping of the series was incredibly high, with people taking time off work/study etc. to catch the "on time" release on Netflix around the world. But what seems to have come out is a post malaise of criticism about the ending that for some may have soured the entire show. Now is this a fair state of affairs? Was the ending really poor or is this simply a reaction to heightened expectations that just can not be met?

                    It would be interesting to explore the fan expectations, hype and marketing surrounding the completion of ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘End Game’ (throwing as hugely hyped film into the mix) and ‘Big Bang Theory’ (maybe even look back at other colossal series ends such as ‘How I met your mother’ and ‘Breaking Bad’) to examine how their completions differed and seemed to have resulted in a very different spectrum of responses from fans.

                    What makes an ending great? How do you manage fan hype? Can anything live up to a finale expectation?

                    • This is really awesome and what you wrote shows how much you really like. – Markh32 4 years ago
                    • I love the question you pose at the end of the first paragraph. Was it really that bad of an ending, or did we have unbelievably high hopes? It definitely gets the reader thinking about the topic. Personally, once I got past the disappointment the ending actually made a lot of sense. The other examples of shows are good to include as you're appealing to different genres. It will allow more readers to think about the questions you're asking in context to shows they enjoy. – briannat 4 years ago

                    The appeal of darkness

                    So often we are drawn to the darker side of life, a quick purview of most films coming out in the last 5 years tends to support this. Yet why is this?

                    Why are we so drawn to the dark, to the evil, to the bad?

                    Is it a desire to engage safely with taboos? Does this appeal to our baser natures that desire an interaction with danger and amoral ideas? Or simply do we want to watch safely from our seats the downfall of others?

                    There are obvious genre appeal in watching horror or thriller films, an aspect of the viewing is the narrative structure and the expectation of the horror themes. But what about drama or action or even romance films that are also engaging with these darker tones? Why is there a trend towards the macabre, the sinister and the frightening?
                    Consider ‘Coco’ a Pixar animation in the land of the dead, or ‘Three Billboards’ about the lack of progression in the investigation of the murder of a young girl, or even ‘I, Tonya’ with its brutal depiction of domestic violence, even the romance ‘The Shape of Water’ features a rather horrific villain.

                    • Films that portray a darker side allow the audience to experience something dark and scary without actually having to physically live it or be harmed. Also, life itself can be very dark, imperfect, violent, and so on. Thus, sometimes the dark side of things can address certain issues present in modern society and be relatable to some viewers. Another way to look at this is that having darker tones in a film can instigate conflict and thus make stories more interesting. – jay 5 years ago
                    • The Movie, Priest (2011) or the way Gotham in any Batman movie is presented are dark cities. So the impression created adds to what viewers feel. – Joseph Cernik 5 years ago
                    • I think that it is largely a desire to engage with these rather frightening ideas while still remaining perfectly safe. These bad things are out there, and by engaging with them through fiction, we can learn about them and how they come about, as well as considering how we might deal with them if they impacted us, but don't have to worry about any real world consequences. In a similar vein, we get attached to villains we see in stories who reflect our darker impulses, but again, because they're not real, we can engage with and explore these darker thoughts we have without anyone getting hurt. – Debs 4 years ago