Topics: Cmandra

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The Art of Trolling

Internet trolling has become an even hotter topic in the wake of the 2016 election and the rise of the "other" Alt-Right. Explore the roots and history of trolling. Is it the legacy of Socratic rhetorical styles meant to expose societal hypocrisy or just plain bullying.

  • I wonder, however, if there is much history to this phenomenon yet. – mmastro 5 years ago
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  • There is. As you will note from the topic it arguably goes back to Socrates. – Christen Mandracchia 5 years ago
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  • Whenever someone has an idea, there will almost certainly be people waiting to tear it down...The internet made it worse because it allowed anyone with internet to become a critic. – MikeySheff 5 years ago
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  • MikeySheff, true. Opening access causes problems, limiting access causes others. The dilemma recalls Madison's yin-yang-like result of securing specific Constitutional rights: allow gun ownership, reap gun violence; ban gun ownership, risk totalitarianism. True too of free speech allowing far-right and -left perspectives, freedom of religion allowing Branch Davidians, Jonestown, etc. Even the double-jeopardy protection for the monsters who murdered Emmitt Till is understandable vis-a-vis the certain damage that would occur were that protection removed. – Tigey 5 years ago
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  • I would love to read an article on this topic. Perhaps another avenue to explore might be the historical appeal of trolling. If we view it as a satirical approach to modern debate then what makes it so appealing? Is it human nature to troll? Does exposing certain societal hypocrisies result in the rise of newer hypocrisies? Another point of interest that I am curious to explore is the advocacy of alt-righters. Often people associate this movement with a new sort of radical dissidence. They call the alt-right a "punk movement." Is it punk though? Or is this indoctrination of supposed punk ideologies merely used as a ploy to appeal to a youthful audience yearning for any form of subversion? – DrownSoda 5 years ago
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  • Just because someone says it goes back to Socrates doesn't mean it does. Just like to point that out. Socrates didn't promote trolling anymore than Jonathan Swift did. – wolfkin 5 years ago
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  • That's why I said "the legacy of Socratic rhetorical styles" and not "Socrates said so." Hence, writing an article about the topic. – Christen Mandracchia 5 years ago
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Does 'The Get Down' Get Down?

Baz Luhrmann’s Netflix series The Get Down chronicles the origins of Hip-Hop in the Bronx in the 1970s. Does it do this history justice?

  • My question for Netflix is, "What about Brooklyn?" – Tigey 6 years ago
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  • It's also necessary to take into account taking artistic liberties to make the story work for the format. – Laura Andrea 6 years ago
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Pokemon and the Animals in Captivity Debate

Explore the various discourses with in the Pokemon series (and there is enough information in the Indigo League seasons for this) on issues regarding animals in captivity. If Pokemon creatures are seen as pets, trained animals in captivity, or beasts of burden, what are some examples of the ways that the series treated different philosophies and consequences of humans keeping control of highly "evolved" creatures?

  • I haven't seen the black & white seasons but in the game team Plasma focused on liberating pokemon, yet they were still the bad guys. It would be good to take a look at their actions/mission and how it interacts with how pokemon are seen/treated. – LaRose 6 years ago
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  • I just re-watched the first few episodes and it is mentioned that "wild pokemon are jealous of captured pokemon" and therefor act aggressively towards them. I found this an odd explanation but it kind of answers why pokemon also resist capture, they want to play hard to get and be with the best possible trainer; it's not because they don't want to be captured. However I find this dangerously supportive of a "no means yes" mentality... – Slaidey 6 years ago
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  • One thing we need to be careful of when looking at Pokemon is reading them as animals too eagerly. From an exclusively Western perspective, this is certainly the case, as many look like animals, and humans cannot understand their speech. In the anime, they are shown to have a language (not spoken by humans) but in the games, they seem only capable of the roars, cries and sounds we associate with the concept of "animal." But a reading of Pokemon in its original, Japanese context reveals a more complicated relationship. One thing to understand is the concept (not unique to Japan) of "discipleship." Basically, a common trope of Japanese and other Asian fiction is of a martial arts master who encounters an attacker while in the wilderness. The two fight, but the master bests his assailant. After being beaten, the would-be-attacker asks to join and learn from the master. Anyone who has caught a pokemon in-game can attest to this narrative being built into the game mechanics. The wild pokemon always initiates the encounter, often in the wilderness. The player has the option to flee, but only in rare exceptions will the wild, aggressor pokemon do so. Catching a pokemon, in most cases, requires a demonstration of the trainer's superiority via lowering its HP. Now, without knowing this context, the situation does look pretty bad, and it's understandable why people react with discomfort at witnessing what they see as forced animal combat. But not only does pokemon draw its ideas from cultural tropes which have nothing to do with animals, many pokemon have no animal characteristics. Some look like plants or snowflakes, and even garbage bags and ice cream cones. In Pokemon's in-game discourse, pokemon are never framed as animals. Instead, they are seen as partners, working alongside their human counterparts, reflecting an image of positivity. Children and adults alike playing pokemon are encouraged to forge bonds and strife for their goals alongside partners who may not look like them, but share their outlook and ambitions nonetheless. – magicmark 6 years ago
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  • I would like to clarify that the topic specifically mentions the tv series (not the games) and the indigo league to narrow it down. – Christen Mandracchia 6 years ago
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  • Ok, I can see the pokemon-as-animals argument more in the Indigo League arc for sure. But don't you feel the focus of that is a bit narrow? It's like saying (only example i could think of off the top of my head) that Star Trek Next Generation has Natasha Yar as its protagonist, and only using Season 1 as an example. I think narrowing focus is a good idea for the sake of keeping an article manageable, but I don't think the rest of the series outside of Indigo bears the argument out. – magicmark 6 years ago
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  • The Indigo League has 82 episodes which counts as several seasons in a normally syndicated tv series. Since the Indigo League was the first installment and covers a complete arc from beginning to end, it is quite sufficient especially since subsequent seasons follow the same format. If following seasons refute the animals in captivity argument that Indigo makes, and the author would like to comment on this phenomenon, I would suggest that the bulk of the article focus on Indigo with a brief paragraph or two summarizing how future seasons have remained consistent or have strayed from the ethics of the first installment. – Christen Mandracchia 6 years ago
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  • That's a really good idea - comparing the seasons to see how the discourse changes. I like it! – magicmark 6 years ago
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Meta Deadpool

Analyze the way in which the new film Deadpool uses meta-cinema techniques for the advancement of character, plot, and theme. How do the self-aware references to popular culture enhance the audience’s experience?

  • I think this is a very interesting way to look at the movie. This article could potentially tap into some very interesting cinema philosophy. It is important to consider that the way Deadpool is written in the comic books is that he is self-aware and often breaks the 4th wall, so maybe you can look at if the director pulled it off or not in the film. – StephL1t 6 years ago
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  • Another example of meta-cinema is in Mel Brooks' Spaceballs, where Dark Helmet kills a camera man in the middle of a lightsaber battle. – jamiepashagumskum 6 years ago
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Live Musicals! Who Does it Better?

In 2013, NBC got America’s attention by producing The Sound of Music Live! Ratings went through the roof! Next was Peter Pan, and then The Wiz. Now Fox has done Grease Live with an audience and different locations. Who did it better? NBC or Fox? Explore the history of live televised musical theatre performances. Explore techniques, successes, and failures to determine who wears the live musical crown.

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    The Simpsons' Influence on American Politics

    The Simpsons has never restrained from making political statements, but what happens when life imitates art? Research and analyze the presence of political commentary in The Simpsons which have made their way back into political commentary.

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      Gone With the Wind. Classic Movie to be Embraced or Dated and Offensive?

      The same can be asked about many films of this era, particularly with regard to their portrayal of African Americans. However, this film won Hattie McDaniel an Oscar for her portrayal of Mammy. Did she accomplish something extraordinary as the first African American woman to win an Academy Award or was she being rewarded to cementing stereotypes? An article on the topic would take these and other questions into consideration when finding a place for this film in today’s world.

      • In all fairness, it should be praised for it's beautiful production quality and cinematography, the hurdles it went through to get made (having gone through four directors), and the accomplishments it made with regards to getting Hattie McDaniel said first Oscar for an African American actor/actress. However, it should also obviously be understood and recognized for it's stereotypical and unfair portrayal of African Americans, both in the context of the time period the film was presenting to us, and in the context of when the film was actually produced. – Jonathan Leiter 6 years ago
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      • The portrayal of African Americans, especially those considered domestic slaves in the film was different from other movies of the time. The film was still criticized by African Americans during the 40s and 50s as an image of glorifying slavery. One of the reasons may have been the somewhat "good" relations between the O'Hara's and the slaves, which was very much contrary to what was expected and known of the history of slavery in the south. This is an intriguing topic and would be interesting to see what has been written on this by others. – aferozan 6 years ago
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      • To jump on the bandwagon -- would be interesting to examine how this film differs from other films of that period and how they portray black Americans. Was the subject broached at all in critical reviews when the film was released? Is there any significance to there being any black characters at all? – sophiacatherine 6 years ago
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      Steven Moffat the sexist: The Whovian Dilemma

      Steven Moffat, the writer for Doctor Who since 2010, has said horrible things about the female fan base of this show, and Sherlock, which he co-created, as well as detestable things about women in general. Highlights might include calling women "needy," calling actress Karen Gillan (Amy Pond) "wee and dumpy" and claiming that women only enjoy Sherlock because they are attracted to Benedict Cumberbatch. This is enough to enrage anyone, but does it affect the quality of his Doctor Who episodes when he dismisses the majority of his own fan base as boy-crazy, "needy" idiots.

      There has always been a sort of dismissal for anything in pop culture which attracts female viewership, (especially young female viewership), implying that girls don’t know the difference between good and bad entertainment. As feminist scholar Stacy Wolf says, "Historicizing the devaluation of girls’ tastes shows how categories of cultural worth are highly gendered." (Changed for Good, 222) Does this apply to Doctor Who since Moffat took over? This study would compare the quality of female characters on Doctor Who before and after Moffat and their overall impact on the quality of events.

      • I haven't personally read or seen any of Moffat's sexist remarks. Although that doesn't mean that I don't believe he said or meant them. If he's like this, I can believe it. However, only recently have I felt truly like his writing of female characters has shown it's true colors. When Russel T Davies was running Doctor Who, Rose Tyler was interesting, she had her cliched female moments and she could be rather self-centered, but she was fun and unique. Martha Jones wasn't much of a character for the most part. She was a tad vague and devoid of distinctive identity I felt. But then Donna Noble really shook things up and had a strong voice for a change. She also had no romantic interest in the Doctor, thank goodness. When Moffat did fully take over, Amy Pond was really really delightful, especially when she was eventually married to Rory and their companionship together took off apart from the Doctor: which had only happened once before (I believe), way back with the first Doctor. Then there was River Song on and off. She's been incredibly captivating and intriguing, especially when we finally get to see how she went from being Amy and Rory's daughter, to Amy and Rory's childhood friend, to the River Song we eventually know, and then up to when she has to kill the Doctor, after which we find her locked up in prison, randomly escaping to go on adventures throughout the 11th Doctor's run. Finally there's Clara Oswald. And after all of the ups and downs (minor ones) with the previous companions and characters, Clara is the one I was most disappointed in, because at first I really really loved her. She was spunky, she was steadfast, she was inquisitive, curious, and very very loyal, and she was also rather attractive to me personally. But her character just fell apart when the 12th Doctor came around. His transformation changed her, revealed her to be an incredibly shallow character, beyond the reasonable reaction of not knowing who or what this new Doctor was or was going to be compared to the last one. She also showed that she could be incredibly needy, selfish, and even demanding when it came to her relationship with the Doctor, when before she would have never acted that way. All of these observations and feelings have been confirmed and shared by many other fans as well. She just turned into such a unlikable person that by the end, I'm rather glad to see her finally go. I just wish it had been a tad sooner. So if anything, Clara's character at the moment the 8th series began is when I could tell something was screwy with Moffat's writing of female roles: when before it was only in small slightly awkward doses. I'm not sure who or what I expect for the next companion, but if anything, I'd appreciate another duo dynamic by bringing on both a male and a female companion, but more of a platonic pairing rather than a romantic one. I also believe Moffat is supposed to be leaving the show now, though he may have changed his mind recently. I don't know the exact details on that. – Jonathan Leiter 6 years ago
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      #WheresRey Analyzing the History of Exclusion of Female Action Figures

      Recently, in the wake of Star Wars Force Awakens, there has been something of an uproar over the absence of the female character Rey from many action figure or doll sets. This is not a new phenomenon. Provide some examples of other times when female characters from movies have been excluded from merchandising targeted to boys and explain why this intense seems to be different. Is this the fight which will determine the future of merchandising?

      • I believe Black Widow was pretty absent from Marvel's Avengers toy sets. And she was the last big female hero that seems to have been left out or set aside. – Jonathan Leiter 6 years ago
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      • Wow, I just saw someone mention this on my Facebook feed! I think there have also been issues with the sparsity of Princess Leia figures (while they do exist). Here's a 2014 article I found about Disney excluding Leia products and the issue inciting a #WeWantLeia hashtag: http://www.dailydot.com/geek/disney-store-no-princess-leia-star-wars/. – Emily Deibler 6 years ago
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      • Ahsoka Tano was also very hard to find at the height of Clone Wars merchandise. And she was the main character! – TheHall 6 years ago
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      Cultural Anthropology in Runescape

      Explore how the MMORPG game Runescape approaches the study of different in-game cultures within the plot of the game. In this game which features a large fantastical world with many different kingdoms and cultures, how are some of the ways in which the quests and activities encourage a respectful study of different cultures?

      • Because this is certainly not a phenomenon unique to Runescape, it's essential to talk about how other games --- and other forms of entertainment media --- do this as well, and to identify how, exactly, Runescape does things differently. – Kristian Wilson 6 years ago
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      • While it might be helpful, I don't know if this is "essential." Runescape is an enduring game with many examples. There could be volumes of pages written about this phenomenon in other games, but I think it would be best to make it specific. – Cmandra 6 years ago
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      Meme Voice

      Meme’s are interesting "new" ways to express oneself. Some can be funny, stupid, or very deep and political. One can find one and share it or make one and share it, etc. Analyze the impact and/or the efficiency of memes as political art for communicating ideas.

      • I really like this topic. Meme and internet language has become almost universal, and has traversed its way into daily, even political conversations. We'd have to dive into the origin of the meme, which could be a tricky thing to find in this finnicky internet. – CHRISagi 6 years ago
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      • Very interesting topic. Memes are a great new way to express oneself because they can be understood throughout any language. Memes change often, though, so they can be hard to follow – carleydauria 6 years ago
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      Game of Thrones and Race

      How does the HBO series Game of Thrones subvert the typical depictions (or lack thereof) of non-white characters in fantasy epics?

      • This is a topic that has been deeply explored, think about what deeper/new/unique take on this idea you can suggest. – MichelleAjodah 6 years ago
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      • I have not seen this topic explored in depth on this site. I have searched for articles on here but cannot find them. If it has been explored on this site, can you point me in the right direction so I can see how it has already been talked about that I may nuance the question. Otherwise, if this discourse is happening elsewhere (and I am aware that it is) I would love for an author on this site to consolidate the information, make an analysis, and bring the discourse to this community. Please advise. – Cmandra 6 years ago
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      • I definitely watch GOT and think, "Man, someone really needed to read some Edward Said." I think you could write quite a lot about the depiction of the Dothraki (especially how they are meant to be inspired by Genghis Khan and the Mongols, but lack a lot of the nuances of that culture), of Essos in general, of how Dornish characters are depicted. There are also female characters of color with influence and agency in the books who are excluded from the show, such as Arianne, Alayaya, and Chataya. I'd be interested in the bigger picture as well, of how this compares to high fantasy lit as a whole. – emilydeibler 6 years ago
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      • To say that POC is something new in the fantasy genre only shows one's own lack of reading. Authors like Ursala K Leguin and others have been writing POC for decades. – MattHotaling 6 years ago
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      • The topic specifically refers to the HBO series and not the book. I would like to clarify that this topic refers to "depictions" of non-white characters in TV and film media. – Cmandra 6 years ago
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      Animaniacs: Wacky Sophistication

      To the untrained eye, the cartoon series Animaniacs may seem like a bunch of base toilet humor (literally). However, this was a highly sophisticated series with everything from pop culture to political references, musical theatre parodies, lessons in American history, and even some more serious shorts. Explore this series as well-crafted children’s entertainment.

      • Not to mention that is actually known for deconstructing comedic cartoon tropes, even I didn't know that till I was older! – Ryan Walsh 6 years ago
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      Cannibalism and Capitalism

      Is there a link between pieces of popular culture which feature cannibalism and commentary on our economic system? There are several angles from which to approach this metaphor: first in choosing a film or films to compare and contrast (Cloud Atlas, Sweeney Todd, or any zombie film. I would keep the study recent.

      • Make sure you fix the grammar. You forgot to put in the other parentheses sign after "film." – Diego Santoyo 6 years ago
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      • I like the idea! Cannibalism in general always has interesting allegories for different societal issues. – emilydeibler 6 years ago
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      • The sentence "first in choosing a film or films to compare and contrast" is a little awkward when it stands alone. You should add more after this sentence or take out the "First in" part and replacing it with by or something along those lines. – Kandice17 6 years ago
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      • This connection reminds of bell hook's famous essay "Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance." It might be helpful to think about how the trope of "cannibalism" may also include notions of race, and how that is linked to the commercialization of "Otherness." – kooji 6 years ago
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      Orange Is the New Black and Social Change

      Audiences have been captivated by Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, but could there be any evidence that the show has inspired a rise in advocacy for prison reform as the show brings attention to issues which would otherwise go unnoticed? Does the fact that the show focuses on a female prison garner more sympathy for prisoners than shows that focus on male prisons? Does the fact that it is based on a true story add to a need to investigate truths about the prison system in the U.S.? A study on the social impact of the show might want to take these things into consideration.

      • I think OITNB as well as the author's personal experiences and advocacy have brought attention to the prison-industrial complex and made it a prominent social issue. While this isn't a new problem, the prison system has been lifted to a topic of importance, s hopefully the advocation and the pushes for change won't slow. – abigailp 7 years ago
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      • As an avid fan of OITNB, I think there is a definite sympathetic tone to the show as compared to a male populated prison show such as, OZ. The difference that should be noted is that the creator wanted to set the tone of empathy for these women who found themselves in precarious situations--either by own fault or a victim of circumstance--whereas OZ wanted to be gritty, raw, and leave people in a state of shock. OZ aimed for sensationalism in focusing on the prison rapes, fights, and horrific treatment of prisoners. An interesting thing would be to have a medium between these two. Though I do enjoy OITNB, there are numerous moments where it almost feels as though it glorifies the women, and they have become such a topic of pop culture. I have a love/hate relationship with this ideology because, what if young girls view the show and think, "oh, that's not so bad." As for adults, we view the show through a different, more mature lens and look at social injustices that younger generations wouldn't view as horrific--such as lack of opportunity, low SES, inability to read, no available classes in prison, etc. – danielle577 7 years ago
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      WWII Historiography in X-men

      X-men films have included WWII based story lines through the characters Magneto and Wolverine (among others). What do these snippets of history teach its readers about this complex war and its aftermath? What messages are they trying to convey to the modern audience about contemporary issues? To cover the depictions of WWII in the comics might be too large an undertaking so I have limited it to the films.

      • One result of the war that should be looked into is PTSD - of the soldiers who survived WWII, and victims such as the Jews who suffered in the Holocaust. In the X-Men films, the characters who personally experienced WWII (mainly Wolverine and Magneto) are never shown to receive the proper counseling and treatment for dealing with the horrors they experienced due to the war. That lack of treatment greatly influenced how their characters developed throughout the film franchise. – lnr1772 7 years ago
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