Topics: Monique

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Pro-Wrestling: A Fan's Primer

Pro-Wrestling has been around for decades and has tens of millions of fans, but is often misunderstood by those on the outside. Moreover, the complex and serialized nature of pro-wrestling story-telling makes entry as a new fan difficult. A complete overview of the sport up through present trends and story-lines would be interesting: formation and history of the sport, brief summation of the legal players and corporate/owner factions, explanation of terminology used in the sport, brief summation of story-line factions (faces/heels/teams), and an explanation of why ‘ it’s scripted, not fake ‘ is essential to understanding the appeal of the sport.

  • I love this topic! It would be worth mentioning how many pro wrestlers later became actors such as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. – Cagney 9 years ago
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  • There is a lot to talk about with this topic besides the above mentioned. Another thing to look at would be themes used in wrestling story lines that are also used in other genres in the media. – lisa82 7 years ago
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  • This is really interesting. But I am afraid there are already accounts (introductions and summaries) that address this questions. – T. Palomino 12 months ago
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Transgender Representation in Television

With the rise of awareness of transgendered individuals, a wide look at transgender representation on television could show how the definition of their cultural identity has changed, and how it can still improve. Consider to what extent "freak show" portrayals (a trans person as an oddity or comic relief) have been the bulk of trans portrayal in the past and how that is evolving.

Possible inclusions: Denise Bryson (Twin Peaks character), RuPaul’s Drag Race, the media coverage of Caitlin Jenner, the new trans character on Sens8, Jazz Jennings (a young trans model doing a national ad campaign for Clean & Clear).

This could also be done with examples from movies, and be a topic for the Movie section. Buffalo Bill (Silence of the Lambs), The Crying Game, and Better Than Chocolate come to mind.

This topic is currently being discussed around the internet — do thorough searches to make sure you’re not duplicating another article.

  • Jazz Jennings also has a tlc show now "I am Jazz" – saragrilli 9 years ago
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  • For a sci-fi take, there is Missy from Doctor Who; once a male Timelord, she regenerated into a female Timelady. – claytonpitcher 9 years ago
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  • Knights of Sidonia had a rather interesting way in which its future society dealt with transgender characters. From my understanding, fuzzy as it may be, characters born in the higher classes of the space station initially identified as agender or androgynous and fluidly switched between gender identities depending on their partner at the time. One character started the series in gender neutral military clothes but gradually began to dress in a more feminine manner when a romance began to develop with a heterosexual male character. Not sure if that's entirely a good thing, having one's gender fluidity be dependent on those one is pursuing, but it was still an interesting take on a what a post gender future society might look like. – RyanR 9 years ago
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  • This is a nice topic but also look at how the depictions on tv are effected by or effect the people who watch them. Consider the intended audiences for the shows as well – gabrielleceleste 9 years ago
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  • Silence of the Lambs spawned protests over how a transgender individual was being negatively portrayed in the character of Buffalo Bill. This was early as 1992. This proves to be an interesting topic! – Cmandra 9 years ago
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Actors Playing Themselves

In _The Big Bang Theory_, Will Wheaton plays the character "Will Wheaton" but that character is an exaggerated version of Wheaton’s public characteristics, it’s not meant to be a true-to-life version of himself. The same is true for James Van Der Beek’s character in _Don’t Trust the B— in Apt 23_; though named "James Van Der Beek", we are not supposed to think that character legitimately portrays Van Der Beek’s true character.

What challenges do actors face when playing "themselves"? Research through interviews might provide insights into how the actors feel. It seems like both men are having fun with the exaggerations, but are there difficulties? Do they struggle with fans who are unable to make the distinction? Do such roles diminish an actor’s credibility by making their career into a joke, or does it create additional name recognition and re-ignite careers?

Probably a third actor/role should be added to round out this discussion.

  • Interesting topic! If you decide to write this topic, you need to differentiate cameos and actors actually playing themselves for a whole film. It's also worth looking at Sunset Boulevard as it is a fascinating exploration of the star system and the evolving film industry. Billy Wilder uses Buster Keaton, Gloria Swanson and Erich von Stroheim for a reason - they all play characters who are very similar to themselves and the way the film industry has treated them and forgotten them. The names change, but they are actually playing themselves and their lives on camera. Thrilling! – Rachel Elfassy Bitoun 9 years ago
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  • "This is the End" is probably the best recent example, and the stories of each of the actors getting in real fights due to false ones they wrote for the film that were too close to the truth is a fascinating story in and of itself. – smartstooge 9 years ago
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  • Is there such a thing as a "true-to-life version of oneself" for actors who portray themselves in movies or TV shows? – T. Palomino 12 months ago
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Video Game Music Overview: Industry Standards, Careers, Awards

Once upon a time, the music in video games was an after-thought — small, repetitive loops of tinny electronic sounds was the norm. With some games being built to hold up to literally hundreds of hours of game play, the music scores have gotten considerably more impressive. A friend of mine was recently surprised to realize the cool song playing on her Pandora "movie sound track" list was actually from TES5: Skyrim.

I would love to see an in-depth article about working in the video game industry as a musician. Are musicians permanently on staff, or are they contract-hire? Are most scores now done with orchestras, or does electronic production still rule? To what extent do video game musicians need to learn to code? How hard is it to break in? Do the musicians also create sound-effect loops, or is that a different specialty? Are there awards for video game music? Is there cross-over between video game musicians and those who regularly work in television or movies?

  • I think this article could also lend itself to the performance of video game music by orchestras in "real" concert venues. I know that there are a few CDs and performances that have been released/occurred that brings video game music not just to gamers, but to the public as a whole – DClarke 9 years ago
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  • You could go into how video game music has become more "mainstream." What I mean by that is more and more there is a crossover between composers in both film/television and video games. Many film composers have done work for notable video games, such as: -Hans Zimmer (Inception, The Dark Knight) has contributed to Crysis 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 -Harry Gregson-Williams (Shrek, The Town) to the Metal Gear series, -Clint Mansell (Requiem for a Dream) to Mass Effect 3 -Henry Jackman (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain Phillips) is working on the score for next year's Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. Also, in a historical achievement, Austin Wintory garnered a Grammy nomination in 2013 for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for his work on Journey. This kind of mainstream award recognition was previously unheard of for a video game soundtrack. – BradShankar 9 years ago
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Domestic Violence in Country Music

Domestic violence is a prominent theme in country music. Songs like "Goodbye, Earl", "Gunpowder and Lead", and "Independence Day" (to name just three) feature violent, deadly retribution from women onto the men who have abused them. But while "Independence Day" is a somewhat mournful song, the other two mentioned are upbeat tunes, almost party songs, and there are many others.

What is it about the country music demographic that makes these songs not only acceptable, but popular? Are the rates of domestic violence higher in the demographic that listens to country music, or lower? Since the popular versions of this song form promote retributive violence by a woman against her husband, is it possible to track the incidents of wife-on-husband violence w/in the demographic to see if it’s higher than average?

No other genre of music has a niche just for this kind of song. I’d like to see someone explore why.

  • It would certainly make sense that the "wife taking revenge on the husband" would be popular at least for political correctness since it's more stereotypical to assume that women are the ones abused in a relationship. And it would be especially so when that subject is set to the catchy upbeat tone that country music can acquire to make it marketable to listeners. In addition, rural areas of the United States where country music is indeed most popular have higher rates of domestic violence and children born out of wedlock so there is a strong influence for that image of the battered woman regardless of men being prone to suffering from domestic violence too. – dsoumilas 9 years ago
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Spin-Offs: The Good, the Bad, the Unrecognizable

When it’s time for a popular series to come to an end, the decision is sometimes made to extend the story by creating a new show using secondary or background characters. Sometimes these efforts are a success ("Saved by the Bell" was a bigger hit than "Good Morning, Miss Bliss"); sometimes they could/should have worked but didn’t ("The Lone Gunmen" from "X-Files"); sometimes they were ill-conceived from the start (why was "The Raven" spun-off from "Highlander" and not, say, "The Joe and Methos Show"?).

Why do some spin-offs work and others crash and burn? How do the elements of setting, story, characters, and actors combine to create something fresh and exciting from a fading star? Are there spin-offs that might have been successful on their own merits if they weren’t being compared to a beloved predecessor? Are there examples of shows that were more successful than they merited, due to the reflected glow of their source material? Are there spin-offs-in-name-only that bore so little resemblance to their original shows that they were unrecognizable as being part of the same world?

  • Great question! Unfortunately I haven't seen any of the mentioned spin-offs or original shows. Though not equally successful I've heard good reviews for Torch Wood made from Doctor Who (but it's obviously impossible to compete with such a classic long going show). It might be interesting to look at spin offs in the new light of Agents of Shield, a tv show based on the lives of agents in the Marvel world. Is it a spin off of the comics or the newly produced Avengers movies... or both? And does coming for two backgrounds give it a better chance of success? Maybe spin offs are more or less successful because they draw from an already well established universe? – Slaidey 9 years ago
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  • This is very timely, especially with Girl Meets World and the new Vacation movie coming out soon. I don't understand the need for spinoffs, so this would be an interesting topic to raise! – Samantha Brandbergh 9 years ago
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  • There's also the new "Walking Dead" spinoff that's coming out soon. A good question to consider would be whether certain spinoffs are meaningful additions to popular stories, or if they're merely the recycling of preexisting ideas to make money. – Nicole Williams 9 years ago
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literature
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YA Dystopia Glut: A Sign of Despondency or Optimism?

After the success of the Harry Potter series, the YA market exploded. The books released by publishers under the YA category today are not as "dumbed-down" or childish as was the trend for a long time — offerings for the last decade have tackled many social issues and provided bleak scenarios of the future. As with HP, the success of the Hunger Games series has also inspired a number books and series, except the HG wave is filled with post-apocalyptic or near-apocalyptic settings.

My initial reaction to the premise of the Hunger Games series was sadness — I was not interested in reading about children fighting to the death for food. Recently at a convention I asked the group about whether or not they believed the dystopia trend signals a despondency amongst the young people reading them — a lack of hope for the future of the world. A junior high teacher spoke up to say no, that she hears that a lot but she believes the trend is a hopeful one, because even though the main characters of these novels are struggling to stay alive in ruined worlds, the fact is that within the story, humanity has survived whatever collapse has been portrayed, and the young people in the story are re-building a better society.

I’d be interested in seeing a well-researched article from a psychological perspective that compares several different popular YA series, and discusses the issue of hopefulness within those series.

I’m putting this in Literature, but it could also be an article for the Writing category, depending on approach.

  • I wrote an article about classic dystopian novels a while back that takes The Hunger Games as a starting point, seeming as it is a popular series :) it has been an interest of mine, thinking about how 'Dystopia' as a genre has changed over time, and how it has become such a YA genre when it wasn't always. I know this isn't exactly to the topic, but thought it might be useful! :) – Camille Brouard 9 years ago
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  • I mean this topic can even spread to the Film category due to the mad grab for film adaptations of Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and Divergent. I do agree with the junior high teacher that these series in the end are hopeful. Typically they end with the main character destroying the world that they grew up in (which was corrupt to begin with) and creating a new and hopefully better one. Similarly the generation that has grown up with Harry Potter and Hunger Games and the like have to face a world that is drastically different than the world that the Baby Boomers lived in. One that is rife with problems that previous generations ignored. At the same time, this current generation has managed to look at the stark reality and embrace the notion that change can occur by challenging the current societal norms to create a new world for themselves. – ajames 9 years ago
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The Return of Bloom County

Berkeley Breathed has announced that he is picking up the adventures of Milo, Opus, and the rest. This is a good opportunity to do a Bloom County retrospective, and possibly muse a little on dangers of an artist returning to a creative well. Older fans will compare the new work to the previous; new fans will not have the base to draw from and will need the work to be fresh and compelling before they’ll be drawn into it.

Could go in Arts or Writing categories, either, depending on the focus.

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    Modern Art: A Primer

    People often say of modern art, "my pre-schooler could draw that" or some variation. But I read an article in Psychology Today a couple of years back describing a study someone had done — they showed little kids art by masters and then had them recreate the image. The closest matches were shown side by side with the original and people were asked to pick the better version. Overwhelmingly, participants picked the piece done by the master artist. Turns out pre-schoolers *can’t* do that.

    So what are the fundamentals of modern art, and what basic terms and information does one need to appreciate or evaluate a Pollock, as opposed to kindergarten splatter? If I’m watching ballroom dancing, I know how (for a layman) to assess the way the torso and arms are held… what’s the modern art equivalent to that?

    It would also be interesting to see a comparison and brief synopsis of the major artists in the movement; Pollock is the only one I know.

    • This would be a great article! As a fellow artist I often used to look at Pollock's and get mad, telling myself I could do the same but never get paid for it. Even when I try it doesn't look quite the same, as aesthetically pleasing.. something just isn't right. I guess it's not my style but what is it in some artists that can make blocks of colour or splatters appealing? I think it's something primal in our brains that reacts to these abstract paintings and colours which only certain painters can capture right. – Slaidey 9 years ago
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    • I would like to say most successful artists have a formal background in art. They understand design placement, horizon, foreground, background and the color variations. After this education they are free to experiment and express themselves in modern art. I was just thinking about the Pollock film the other day, so that would be a good place to start. The author can get a feel for Pollock's work and a better understanding of how a good foundation and the role of mental health help to produce works of such magnatitude. – Venus Echos 9 years ago
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    Are Nielsen Ratings Still Relevant?

    This would require some research and probably a good handle on statistical analysis, but I would love to see an article on how Nielsen ratings cover the new television marketplace in comparison to how they worked when "tv" was three channels. How do modern Nielsen techniques account for Netflix, people who only watch the DVD collections, or torrent streaming? Do DVRs "report" which shows are live-viewed and which are time-delayed? And most importantly, how much effect do the Nielsens still have w/r/t to which shows are cancelled and which remain? Are cutting edge shows being dismissed because their fans are accessing them through non-traditional means?

    • This would be an interesting article, especially for those who are unfamiliar with how the Nielsen rating system works. You could begin by writing how the Nielsen rating system began, and perhaps argue how, at times, Nielsen ratings are often imprecise. – Amanda Dominguez-Chio 9 years ago
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    5 Times got Wrong

    Any fiction that focuses on a certain kind of technical profession inevitably makes short-cuts and cinematic allowances that cause experts in the field to grimace — my mathematician friends didn’t want to watch NUMB3RS; the nurses I know won’t watch Grey’s Anatomy. This article would give examples of errors repeatedly made when portraying specific fields or professions.

    This topic could actually be done as several different articles: say, 5 Shows that get Computers Wrong, and then a paragraph on each listing 2-3 commonly-occurring mistakes each show makes w/r/t to computers. (Like that trope about images being able to be refined until a fuzzy reflection in a window is a recognizable face, for instance.) Or the focus could be 5 medical dramas that repeatedly lean on bad medical procedures or tests.

    Or from another angle, the focus could be on a specific show and abuses it makes w/r/t representing its field — 5 Times The Big Bang Theory got Physics Wrong, for example.

    • I was chatting to some medic friends the other day and they said Scrubs was fairly consistent on an accurate portrayal :) some food for thought! – Camille Brouard 9 years ago
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    Definitions of Speculative Fiction: Common Genre Terms and Usage

    It used to be there was "Fantasy" (swords and magic) and "Science Fiction" (ray guns and technobabble explanations). Now there’s urban fantasy, dystopia, a much stronger Young Adult market, and a dozen other variations and distinctions at use in the publishing world. A look at what genre classifications are currently in use would be interesting, and possibly a discussion of the extent to which those classifications are helpful in today’s marketplace. (Perhaps we should all be learning to think in terms of "keywords" or "tags" rather than genres.)

    • I for one have wondered where the blurry line is drawn between children's literature like Harry Potter and young adult novels like Mortal Instruments even though the two are alike. – SpectreWriter 9 years ago
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    • The Harry Potter series is Young Adult after the first 2 books. What made you think they were children's? The content and thematic material is too mature for children's, not to mention the series is about teenagers, and the film series is mostly rated PG-13. I'd actually say Harry Potter is far more mature and adult than The Mortal Instruments series. – declankc98 9 years ago
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    Life After Reality

    There have been a number of ‘ where are they now ‘ type articles about reality shows stars that focus on the careers (or not) of reality show contestants like American Idol or America’s Next Top Model. Did their careers succeed, etc. A more interesting question would be to look at a wide cross-section of reality show participants from many different kinds of shows and ask how the experience affected their lives in a broader sense. Are they comfortable in the long run with the exposure? How did the process of filming disrupt their lives? What (if any) were the long-term consequences of being on tv? What would they change or do over? A good version of this article will require sorting through published interviews, but would be even better with original interviews if they could be obtained.

    • Cool article, you could focus on exploring the varying types of reality TV shows (cooking, acting, modeling etc.) and how their contestants could move further into their respected industries. – Thomas Munday 9 years ago
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    • Usually those shows are obsessed with people who chased fame relentlessly, whether through talent shows like X Factor or American Idol or through a pop act that never quite lasted, but it would definitely be far more interesting to talk to the ones who fame was sort of just a by-product. In England we have shows like The Great British Bake Off and The Apprentice where by and large, people partake not to get famous but to have fun or secure a job and an article that is more interested in that side of accidental fame would definitely be one I'd read with interest. – Marcus Dean 9 years ago
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    • I think you also might want to consider the fact that a lot of reality show contestants or stars end up getting a reality show dedicated to just themselves. What sparked that show? Why did they end up going from one show to the other? Did they get adjusted to a certain lifestyle? Did they just want fame? You also might want to consider that people like "Honey Boo Boo's" mother supposedly had the young girl on her own show so she could put money away for her college fund. – rzalmonds 9 years ago
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    Setting or Place as a Character

    Some settings or physical locations play such a strong role in a film that they can be considered a character in their own right. There are a lot of ways to develop this into an article — you could focus on a genre (John Ford’s westerns come to mind), or do it as a top ten best, or look at a particular director’s use of settings (Stephen King movies tend to take place in cramped, trapped, isolated settings which add to the horror and unraveling of the MC’s sanity). Lots of opportunities for striking or visually interesting images in the article as well.

    • Great idea. Perhaps a list of films that use setting as character that exemplify contrasting use of setting. You listed John Ford westerns and Stephen King movies. One idea might be to stick with a genre and compare and contrast: Westerns, or Horror, or SciFi etc. Another idea might be to pick ten very different films to compare and contrast: 300, Life of Pi, The Grey, etc – RJWolfe 9 years ago
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    • You should definitely include Alfred Hitchcock into this. Psycho is an excellent example. Also worth considering are his less known works Rope and Lifeboat. – orenhammerquist 9 years ago
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    • American Horror Story does this really well especially in the first season with the murder house, it would definitely be worth a mention. – Tyler McPherson 9 years ago
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    Scandal & Race

    The show Scandal, written by African-American Shonda Rhimes, features a powerful woman of color as its central protagonist. (Olivia Pope) However, most of the other characters on the show are white, and race is often an important undercurrent in the plot. A recent episode featured a story about a white cop shooting an (unarmed, it is eventually proven) black youth. Olivia is hired by the police to "fix" the situation, but she soon is fired and puts herself on the side of the black community instead.

    To what extent does Scandal subvert expectations about black/white race relations in the US, and to what extent does it tacitly support the status quo? Is it problematic that all Olivia’s main love interests are white men? Does the show empower black women, or prove that they can’t get ahead without a white/male patron? Does it matter that Olivia dresses primarily in white and frequently refers to herself as a "white hat" when she’s protecting the innocent? What can we assume is the show’s "race agenda" (if any) and how well does it fulfill that agenda?

    • The recent (incredibly problematic) plotline about Olivia herself, and not just her expertise/counseling/fixing/etc., being "sold" for $2 billion by and to terrorists also plays into a lot of the uncomfortable support for not only racist views, but also sexist ones as well. – kdaley 9 years ago
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    • Interesting. I do think these are somewhat problematic, but perhaps unintentional, observations. Olivia serves as a classic Byronic Heroine in the show, which clearly supports her feminist standpoint; however, the racial issues in the show can be much more difficult to support based on the observations you have listed. Perhaps a bit of irony on the part of Shonda Rhimes? Taking the association of "white" with the pure and good, and flipping it on its head. – KeeleyFaith 9 years ago
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    The Pros and Cons of Serialized Story-Telling

    Serialized story-telling has both benefits and pitfalls. On the one hand, the publisher/producer has a guaranteed (sort of) audience built-in, and on the money side, that means easier profits. On the creative side, but the writer(s) and the audience have a certain comfort level with the setting and characters, and the deeper questions in the work have more time to be asked and answered.

    On the other hand, if a plot only matters to the extent that it affects change in the protagonist, how many serious conflicts can the protagonist go through before they are changed to the point of being unrecognizable to their established fan base? How does the story stay continually fresh and avoid the re-hash of proven plot-lines? To what extent are writers "trapped" by elements introduced in the beginning of the story that they are unable to change in later volumes?

    I’m thinking here of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, and Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake books. But the article could be done using long-running tv shows as the focus (Supernatural comes to mind) or certainly most comic series fit this question as well. (Neil Gaiman once said that serialized story-telling was like jumping out of a plane and knitting yourself a parachute on the way down.)

    This topic could easily go in the Comics or TV sections as well.

    • I love this topic, and there are many ways to pursue this, as you said with films, books, and/or TV. One example that comes to mind is the "Walk" series by Richard Paul Evans, which I've recently discovered; it is a series of 5 books that tells the story of a man's journey from Seattle to Key West, on foot. – Amena Banu 9 years ago
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    • You're right, I could definitely see this for many of the media sections. I think an interesting take could also be how we are also seeing this kind of trend in movies with the many sequels that are being produced. – Christina Cady 9 years ago
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    • One aspect of s;erialized storytelling is that the author can lose the original vision of the story, and after a certain number of books, the story just loses its overall glow. For example, when Rick Riordan continued his Percy Jackson series with Heroes of Olympus, as a reader it felt like there was no life to those books. It wasn't the same. So that can happen. – Travis Kane 9 years ago
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    • If you wanted to delve into the historical precedents for this, you could discuss how the novels of Dickens, and many others in the Victorian era, began their lives as serials in magazines, and influenced the way those stories came to be. – Luthien 9 years ago
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    Portrayal of the Genius on Television

    A great number of shows now include characters who are considered a legitimate "genius" within the context of their own canon. Big Bang Theory plays the trope for laughs, but most shows with geniuses are (crime) dramas. Frequently, too, the genius in question is a child prodigy (or as in the case of NUMB3RS, had been a prodigy) and often the genius has a wide range of specialties across multiple fields of study, and in some cases, possesses multiple, unrelated PhDs.

    I’d love to see an analysis of the trope from the standpoint of how realistic the portrayals are, esp. w/regards to the socialization issues these characters so often have. Also, if the analysis could be done in loose chronological appearance, I’d be interested in seeing if there’s been a sort of "grade inflation" with these characters — have they gotten younger and broader in ability in an effort for each canon’s "genius" to out-genius other characters in a given genre?

    Suggested shows: Big Bang Theory, NUMB3RS, Scorpion, Bones, Stargate, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Sherlock (possibly over-used), House…

    • An interesting side-note is that the main "genius" of Scorpion is a real person--although a lot of articles have been written questioning his claims of genius and accomplishments. – bookworm2g9 9 years ago
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    • I see you listed Bones as a possible show to analyze. As a viewer of the show it is interesting to see how often people who are portrayed as "Geniuses" in TV shows are oblivious to things like pop culture. I would question if being so far removed from culture is actually possible nowadays due to internet etc.? – sukritab 9 years ago
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