Topics: alexpaulsen

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Life and Tetris

As video game players have risen from a small subsect of people into a large swath dominating the country and planet, how has this effected how we humans interact with one another. The Tetris Effect is when a repeated activity shapes the way your brain functions, as the repetitive action causes the brain to assign importance to said action. Given the prevalance of gaming today, how may be the Tetris Effect be changing society, and how may this look in our future as gaming becomes further mainstream.

  • Interesting topic! It may be making a few leaps to go from talking about local changes in the brain function of an individual to talking about behavioral changes in that same individual to talking about behavioral changes throughout society. I'd encourage someone to take this topic on (I'd like to read the result!) but would also encourage the writer to think about the difficulty of establishing cause and effect. – JamesBKelley 3 years ago
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  • Interesting, since gaming is so prevalent in modern culture. However, that since the Tetris effect is more of an analogy than a specifically gaming culture related idea, if you just want to talk about that, you should try to extrapolate the Tetris effect to other places (i.e. doing math problems causes dreams about numbers, playing basketball nonstop causes one to throw everything into containers like a field goal, etc). If you're looking to talk about gaming's prevalence in modern culture, you could also talk about other gaming-related terms that have become accepted in modern vernacular (i.e. politicians referencing video games, Let's Play celebrities, video game movies and tv shows, internet memes about video games, and events related to video games (like Pikachu Festival, E3, etc). Hope this helps. – tedytak 3 years ago
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  • Interesting, would love to know more on your thoughts about this – galalhassan 3 years ago
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They're Fat? That's So Funny!

Discuss exposing the correlation of the comic relief character in television often being overweight actors that Hollywood has created. Often case they are the only overweight actor on the show or film, and it may even be the only part offered. When screen casting the casting call may even call specifically for an overweight comedic relief. Discuss the implications of this and how it can harm the industry as a whole, as well as the effect on actual overweight individuals exposed to such decisions.

EXP: Gilmore Girls, The Hangover, Austin and Allie ( feel free to use your own)

  • It is true that overweight characters are often place in secondary, comedic roles. This may sound cynical, but it seems to me that this casting choice has done little to harm Hollywood as a whole over the years as it is a reflection of our society's general preference for actors and actresses who are thinner, fitter, and healthier. – MKLee 3 years ago
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At What Point Does Parody Become Art

Look at parody fiction, and discuss at what point it stops being "Parody" and becomes "Art", can these coexist? Is parody automatically art?

Suggestion: Hillywood Productions; YouTube

  • That's a really interesting topic! Parody can parasitic in some ways; it often doesn't have a life of its own, doesn't age well, etc. Maybe to become "Art" it has to be able to stand on its own, divorced from the very thing it's parodying? – JamesBKelley 3 years ago
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Star Trek Discovery: Ash Tyler

In Star Trek’s newest installation Star Trek: Discovery, we are introduced to a character named Ash Tyler, potrayed by Shazad Latif. Ash was a prisoner of war in a Klingon ship, was tortured and ultimately raped by one of his Klingon captors. You see Ash dealing with symptoms of PTSD that progress through the show. Ash’s mental state causes flashbacks, which ultimately lead to violence and even death of those In his way. How does the sympathy of Ash’s place as a male rape victim clash with the violent nature he takes on when having episodes? Is he less sympathetic or moreso because of these violence inducing flashbacks caused by the torture he recieved?

  • Considering the current state of sexual assault/harassment that has been plaguing our society for much too long, it is easy to see it as a strictly woman-based struggle...Men who are sexually abused, and the way they cope is almost a nil discussion...kudos for the insight and the well thought out topic. – MikeySheff 3 years ago
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Of Monetary Value: The Artistry of the Undervalued

In this day and age the arts are one of the most freeing career paths a person can choose, from drawing and painting to animation and sculpture the field is vast and full of potential. Discuss why people devlue the art of learning these subjects, often expect work to be done for free, and then celebrate the art as beloved. Do we value the work and undervalue the artist? Is this ideal changing? Discuss how this mindset and belief that art is not of valur affects the "little" guy while allowing large main stream corporations to become highly monetarily successful.

  • The devaluing of art is constantly present in creative communities and it's a vicious cycle. The mentality is that "the smaller you are (reputation-wise) the less you can charge" otherwise "you'd be bigger," and "you have to work for it." And this thought process stifles one's ability TO grow while in a constant lack of proper support. Rather than pay a small creator for the time and effort they put into their work, people flock to brand merchandise or cheap widely distributed prints. What it boils down to is a lack of understanding on the part of the consumer for the market: they try to equivocate the price of the products while completely unaware of the resources spent to make them. "Why pay $20 for this when I can get it for $5 somewhere else." The need to make money in any form, forces small creators to accept low wages or to be paid in "exposure" because it's that or nothing, which in turn justifies the devaluing of their and others' art in future. So the cycle continues. Since art is so accessible, and there are so many artists out there, it's hard to stop this from happening. I'd love if the article included ideas on how to combat this mentality and educate consumers on where their money is going when supporting small creators. – Slaidey 3 years ago
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  • I also should have added that I do think the attitude toward smaller creators is shifting in some regard. Mentioning Patreon and sites which help support creators is relevant to the topic and could be worth mentioning :) – Slaidey 3 years ago
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America, Can You Really Do Anything?

In America, the commonly known ‘American Dream’ ideal exists where if you put in hard work and with a little "bit o’ luck" you can accomplish anything. Discuss the socio-economic and political barriers to this ideal. Examine social issues such as racism, sexism, and white-privilege, noting how their effects promote or dampen the possibility of this ideal becoming a reality. Use examples from media, books and film in order to argue your point.

Book Suggestions: Of Mice and Men, McTeague, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, Passing (Nella Larsen).

Movie Suggestions: Citizen Kane, Pretty Woman, La La Land, Good Will Hunting

  • This is actually too big a topic, especially considering the breadth of time frames that you are suggesting in the texts. I think this is actually a very interesting discussion, but it needs to be reduced down into a more narrow aspect - perhaps even something more niche, such as the concept of the American Dream perceived through an African American lens, or through a feminist lens. Or even pick a particular time frame, such as the 1970s or now and look at how the AD has been depicted then. – SaraiMW 3 years ago
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  • So the suggestions we're just as they are suggestions, I would never expect anyone to use all of them or even any of them it was just ideas. With that in mind do you still believe the topic to be too much? – alexpaulsen 3 years ago
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  • I would also use recent modern examples of film or political issues to help tell this article. – BMartin43 3 years ago
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  • I agree with SaraiMW. If you'd like to do a feminist lens some excellent novels from the start of the 20th c. (when the frontier myth started shaping the American Dream) are: My Antonia, American Indian Stories, and Sister Carrie – Mela 3 years ago
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Phantom Thread: The Love of a Woman and Toxic Masculinity

Discuss the roll toxic masculinity (the psychological term describing traditional male behavior norms that cause harm to society) plays in the 2017 film Phantom Thread. How do the relationships in the film display toxic masculinity, how do the relationships break down this problem? How do themes or tropes in the film distort or alter this. Discuss how this affects the film as a piece.

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    Team Starkid and the Gender Rules

    Team Starkid is a University of Michigan based theater troupe that specializes in parody musicals that they later record and post to the popular website YouTube.com. Though the characters are usually portrayed by people of the same gender as the characters, occasionally the actors within the troupe "gender bend" characters. Gender bending is the portrayal of a character in a gender that is not one’s own or that of the character. Lauren Lopez is a woman who has played characters such as Draco Malfoy, an ex-military sergeant, and a young boy in some of their productions. Joe Walker is a man who played Dolores Umbridge in one of their productions. Lopez’ portrayals are often seen as more realistic whereas Walker’s were intended to be comical because of his gender. Why is a woman allowed to realistically play men and yet a man playing a woman is considered a running gag? Consider gender roles, gender rules and coded norms in the Team Starkid comedy dynamic.

    • I completely agree with your questions and concerns here. I've often found that when men try to portray women, unless under very particular circumstances, it is intentionally done in a humorous manner, and it is received as humor, as well, by the audience. In some instances, I have seen men portray a female role with tactfulness, respect, and a sense of authenticity--like Dustin Hoffman in "Tootsie"--by otherwise, very rarely. I myself have explored trying to portray a female character accurately, through voice and movement, and in a way that does not simplify the visage of a woman to cliches or stereotypes, unless the character itself is more flamboyant and such. But I think the main reason why men portraying women is approached and received in a comical way is because many people are still not comfortable seeing men of any sort embrace their feminine sides, whether they be gay or straight. And when it is embraced openly, it's usually regarding a male's portrayal of a decidedly drag-queen styled female character, with a very load, boisterous, or colorful personality, and thus it still becomes something to either laugh at or laugh with. But when it comes to subtlety, or grace, or even commanding authority as a female character, either men just don't do it very much, or it has yet to be part of many productions. In terms of what I would prefer, if I ever find myself performing as a female character (one of my passions is acting and voice impersonation), I would put an enormous amount of effort into capturing the distinct elements of what makes a woman sound like a woman, but then also approach the character herself as something aside from the fact that she is female, unless her character is defined in some capacity by those qualities. I think one has to open up, let down their guards, and be mindful of all their feelings, before they can either portray, or appreciate a female character, as a man. – Jonathan Leiter 6 years ago
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    • I personally have never heard of Team Starkid before. But considering how open this topic really is, you might consider broadening the scope to include other examples of the double-standard in media. – Jonathan Leiter 6 years ago
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    • I happen to love Team Starkid and have noticed what you're talking about. The cross gender roles, I think, tend to be less for gags, and more for character interpretation. Like with Lopez's portrayal of Malfoy in A Very Potter Music or Commissioner Gordon in Holy Musical B@tman! versus Walker's version of Umbridge. I actually think Walker was cast because of his previous ability to turn a thoroughly villainous character such as Voldemort, and not only redeem him, but cheer for his happy ending. But this is an interesting investigation question to be pursued given the theatrical nature of the performances, which is where this should fall. – artemis822 6 years ago
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    • I would suggest that when talking about gender bending in Team Starkid productions, one explores the use of camp as an aesthetic. – Cmandra 6 years ago
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    iZombie and the New Undead

    As genres are created they go through phases. As zombie literature and film are escaping their original states and are beginning to enter an exploration phase what does this mean for the symbolism behind the zombies? Are the symbolic undertones changing with the climate of the un-dead or do the messages remain the same as they always were?

    • I think these kinds of zombie shows/movies/books are able to tackle different sides of the "what does it mean to be human" question all zombie literature revolves around. Specifically, iZombie and Warm Bodies feature cognizant zombies, and so are more concerned with living a fulfilling and meaningful life than your average zombie flick (not that this idea isn't explored in other zombie movies), essentially trying to discover what Matthew Arnold calls the buried life. – nsnow 6 years ago
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