Those who watched Obama’s Nelson Mandela Lecture (17/07/18) on YouTube may have noticed the added dimension of an adjacent comment section scrolling in real-time alongside the event — the medium being the message, and all that rot. One thing that I could not help noticing among the barrage of nonsense assaulting my peripheral vision was the frequency of comments saying something to the effect of "Wakanada forever," "Is this Wakanda?," or even just the single word, "WAKANDA." Evidently, the mere presence of an African setting is enough to be immediately equated with Black Panther’s residual impact on the popular imagination’s impression of the entire continent.
Though it may be difficult to discern whether this is the result of true malice or simple ignorance, there is certainly something to be said about the co-opting of the fictional nation to become a vehicle for such regressive discourse. Given that Black Panther has been unilaterally received as a moment of progress for African American filmmaking and Black culture in general, attention must also be given the unfortunate consequences of its omnipresence, particularly as it has been received by white (and especially conservative) audiences throughout the West.
This article should examine the subtle process by which the film’s iconography has acquired these less-than-favourable connotations, and what that may mean for its continued existence in this highly fractured media landscape. Does this fallout in any way negate the film’s thematic emphases on the legacy of colonialism and globalization vs. isolationism? In a real-world political climate wherein an American president refers to Africa as being comprised of "shit-hole countries," does the mass exposure received by a fictional Afro-Futurist utopia serve as a genuine antidote to these misconceptions? Where is the line between empowerment and sophistry? What impact might this cross-pollination between popular culture and current politics have on the advancement of the latter, as Obama’s lecture was undeniably meant to represent?
An interesting topic. I loved Black Panther, but when a friend who I'd recommended it to watched it, she said it "wasn't that great". I had to explain what the film meant for the whole culture and industry; using people of colour in the cast, traditional names for those people's characters, a soundtrack written and produced by black artists that put songs from a different genre on the top charts. Perhaps it is just ignorance, or perhaps the people commenting "Wakanda forever" simply don't understand why this culture association can be seen as offensive. It's a tough question, but I'm sure you're not the only one to notice these comments so maybe there's some research out there you could try to find to help make your point? – Gemma Ferguson5 years ago
Famously coined by Patrick Star (and, by extension, teleplay authors Jay Lender, Sam Henderson, and Merriwether Williams) in S03E05a of Spongebob SquarePants, the term "wumbo" has since become a fixture of the pop culture lexicon and fuel for countless internet memes. It is implicitly defined through its usage as being an adjective (as the opposite of "mini"), but subsequent explanation in the episode assigns it the qualities of a verb ("I wumbo. You wumbo. He/she/me wumbo."), and culminating in the academic discipline of "wumbology" (the study of wumbo, which is supposedly introduced in first grade curricula) thus indicating a noun form in order for it to be studied. Though obviously conceived as a simple joke — aimed at highlighting Patrick’s well-documented stupidity — there is a lot to unpack with regards to this seemingly nonsensical neologism.
Conduct a linguistic analysis of "wumbo" and its variant forms, using only the self-contained snippets of dialogue within the episode as a guide. Does it defy our preconceived understandings of linguistic morphology, or can a series of grammatical rules be devised to account for its inherently contradictory nature? If society were committed to accepting the term’s validity, what would be the parameters of usage under which it would enter our active vocabulary?
[Note: For the best quality article, it is highly recommended that this topic be taken up by someone with a background in, or at least a sufficiently deep knowledge of, linguistics.]
SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL FOR YOUR PERUSAL: The original clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lMu8V5Xa90); Urban Dictionary entries for Wumbo (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=wumbo) and Wumbology (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Wumbology); Uncyclopedia page for Wumbo (http://mirror.uncyc.org/wiki/Wumbo); an entire fandom-powered Wiki devoted to Wumbology (http://wumbology.wikia.com/wiki/Wumbology_Wiki); Know Your Meme page on Wumbo (http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/wumbo); Debate.org thread to determine whether or not “Wumbology is a valid science” (http://www.debate.org/debates/Wumbology-is-valid-science/1/); Quora question thread in which user asks “Where can I study Wumbology?” (https://www.quora.com/Where-can-I-study-Wumbology); fan-made website for the University of Wumbology (http://theuniversityofwumbology.weebly.com/). – ProtoCanon6 years ago
While these noncanonical testaments to fans’ devotion to a gag make for fun reading (especially when you have a deadline for a thesis chapter rapidly approaching), I encourage the prospective author to take them with a grain of salt and refrain from deviating from the diegetically provided grammatical criteria as outlined by Patrick. For example, many of these extratextual statements define wumbology as “the study of ALL THINGS wumbo,” which is grammatically contrary to Patrick’s “the study of wumbo.” It may seem negligible, but the addition of “all things” negates the necessity of a noun form, since it instead retains an adjectival connotation as a means of describing certain “things” without the implication of wumbo as an observable autonomous entity which may be studied (i.e. a noun). For this analysis to assert any authority, it must resign itself to the rules established by the term’s progenitor. Furthermore, the Uncyclopedia page makes up a lot of material without any basis in the episode for the sake of humour. This should not be trusted as an authoritative source of information, since it allows its satire on the form of web-based encyclopedic resources take precedence over its utility as one such resource. This leads me to my final point: avoid compromising the integrity of this inquiry for the sake of satire. Obviously the question itself is absurd -- since wumbo is a silly word by its very design, coined by a fictional anthropomorphic starfish in a children’s cartoon -- but that absurdity does not necessitate a default invalidation of the central premise. For those interested in linguistics, this may prove to be a genuine case study for testing the fallibility and limitations of the rules which govern human communication. And, even for those who simply see this as a joke, there are few things funnier than treating something fundamentally frivolous with the most earnest sincerity and analytical vigour. – ProtoCanon6 years ago
Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, the London-based School of Life’s prolific YouTube channel (founded by popular philosopher, Alain de Botton, in 2008) released a video titled "Why Socrates Hated Democracy," outlining how the founder of Western philosophy opposed the idea of putting too much political power in the hands of the unqualified masses. On inauguration day, they released "Why Hegel knew there would be days like these," reminding their viewership of the dialectical nature of history, thereby assuring that this current dark chapter is not the beginning of the apocalypse, but rather a necessary antithesis on the way to a balanced synthesis. A week later came "Thoreau and Civil Disobedience," recounting the all-too-familiar horrors of the Polk administration to highlight the democratic necessity of resistance to morally dubious political policy.
Discuss how this unofficial trilogy of videos (as well as any relevant inclusions that may follow, presumably over the next four years) resists the current state of American demagoguery. How do they contribute to the over-saturated pool of political discourse? Are they effective at breaking through the noise and conveying their messages? How has the [not-so-]subtle refraining from using Trump’s name and face (aside from the occasional comic interlude video, such as "What America is Getting for Christmas," which is not treated with the same degree of seriousness as the others) aided in the potency of their rhetoric? In the climate of anti-intellectualism that many commentators have noted as being central to alt-right ideology, does the invocation of history’s greatest thinkers do anything more than preaching to the choir, without making any significant impact in those in need of conversion? Can their presence on YouTube allow them more potential for change than what is available in old media? Does The School’s firm lack of political neutrality in these videos impact the way we view the rest of their catalogue, most of which being entirely apolitical in nature?
Interesting de Botton's agreement with Socrates, Hegel, and Thoreau appear after the election... That's as disingenuous as Trump claiming, before he won, that the election was rigged, only to be silent on the issue afterwards. Also, de Botton's contradiction: democracy is bad because it can elect a Trump, but good because it can oppose a Trump. This is like saying Trump's alleged philandering is bad but Bill's was okay. Last, Trump seems less a Polk (warmongering sectarian) than a Jackson (status quo-fighting populist). The judge barring the immigrant travel ban seems to be Trump's first Nicholas Biddle. Great topic, btw. Objectivity has been AWOL since Nixon, may he rest in piss. – Tigey7 years ago
Discuss the career and works of Simpsons-animator, children’s author, and web-comic artist, Liz Climo ((link) . What factors may have led to her success? What is it about her simple, one to two panel comics that makes them so cute and heartwarming? Are there aesthetic standards within the often-neglected form of one/few-panel comics by which her work may be critically evaluated? Where is her place within the long tradition of this form, among artists such as Hank Ketcham, Bil Keane, Gary Larson, Dan Piraro, and countless others? In what ways has her online presence contributed to her work and distribution, as well as the contemporary cultural understanding that comics in the 21st century can exist in spaces beyond the "funny papers"?
"It is the right of the strong to take from the weak." (Martin, 758)
The sociopolitical structure of the Dothraki people is governed by the strong, with tribal communities gravitating around warriors who have proven their greatness in battle. This is seen most evidently when Khal Drogo’s khalasar is disbanded as soon as his strength begins to falter, prompting several of his strongest subordinates to name themselves new Khals to form new khalasars with whoever will follow. This ideology is the reason why none of the Dothraki had any respect for Viserys, who had no true strength of his own, but felt entitled to the Iron Throne by being a descendant of the old dynasty. Though the Targaryen reign was ushered in by the brute strength of Aegon the Conqueror and his dragons (a method of asserting one’s right to rule much in line with this Dothraki system), the establishment of a monarchy after the victory changed the game (of thrones). Discuss the differences between these two methods of governance. Which one might prove to be more effective for selecting leaders (both in Westeros and in the real world)? How does the Dothraki reverence for individuals with power reflect the Nietzschean view of the ubermensch? How might it mirror the real-life rises to power of autocratic leaders from Julius Caesar, to Napoleon Bonaparte, to Fidel Castro? In what ways might this need to respect the ruler illustrate a sort of precursor to our modern democracy?
This is a fascinating topic! An I think I can closely linked the prevalent political metanarratives regarding the conceptualization of democracy in our post-colonial world. However, I don't think that this sociopolitical structure illustrates a previous system. Instead, I think the khalasar was Martin's way of decrying the weakness a impotence (despite the claims of universality) of the broken Western political system. Between Trump and Khal Drogo, i'll take Drogo any day. – AnaMRuiz7 years ago
Great topic! I think it's important to look at how monarchy has failed repeatedly in Game of Thrones. Even Robert Baratheon used Dothraki methods of taking what was his, he just led a rebellion, stormed in and sat down. Although Baratheon is related to Targaryen it was a non-linear ascension. You'd think people would learn to instill a democracy but once in power prideful houses want to do everything in their power to keep the reign for their descendants no matter how unfit they may be... It's all very "history repeats itself." – Slaidey7 years ago
Trace the history and development of polyvocality (a work having multiple narrators, or following varied narrative voices and perspectives from different characters) as a literary form. From its humble beginnings in the canonisation of the Gospels – combining four distinct accounts of Jesus’ ministry and death by separate authors into one collected volume of scriptural authority – to the epistolary style of Samuel Richardson and Bram Stoker, all the way to Modern novels by William Faulkner, Lawrence Durrell, and George RR Martin. How have methods of polyvocal narration developed over time? What social and aesthetic factors may have given it more prominence at certain historical periods? How have these authors’ choices to present their stories from multiple perspectives been reactionary to the long tradition of single narrators, whether omniscient 3rd person or limited 1st person? How is this reflected in contemporary literary styles and trends?
Are you considering fiction, non-fiction, or both? If including non-fiction, it might be enlightening to investigate whether polyvocality increases or decreases the accuracy of eyewitness accounts of events, such as those in the four Gospels. – Tigey7 years ago
Very ambitious. Also, necessary mention: The Canterbury Tales. – TKing7 years ago
This sounds like a topic that can really be developed and analyzed. The only issue I have here is the word "polyvocality.". Are there other words that can express your idea such as multiple narrators in postmodern literature? I am not sure polyvocality is the way to go but am at a loss to give a concrete suggestion. Perhaps someone on the forum could help. – Munjeera7 years ago
Tigey: Though I mainly had fiction in mind, there's certainly room for nonfiction as well. It's certainly debatable which category the Gospels belong to (I'd personally categorise them as "Historical Fiction," but am aware of how contentious such claims can be). If whoever writes this topic wishes to follow that thread further, I'd highly recommending reading The Rise and Fall of the Bible by Timothy Beal; he discusses the polyvocality of the Bible at great length, combating the contemporary notion of its univocality as a "magic eight-ball" with all the answers to life's mysteries.
TKing: Good addition, that definitely slipped my mind. In all honesty, I've never been a big Chaucer fan myself, but it belongs on this list nevertheless. I'm sure there are countless other texts that I failed to mention, and it's up to whoever decides to write this topic to do their research to fill in the blanks.
Munjeera: You're probably correct that there may be a better word for it, but "polyvocality" was the most suitable term that I was able to think of, and often does appear in literary (and biblical) studies. If you think of a better option, don't hesitate to come back here and share it. – ProtoCanon7 years ago
Another important aspect to mention is free-indirect discourse, when discussing this topic. – danielle5777 years ago
A famous example of polyvocality is Virginia Woolf's The Waves, due to the excessive use of polyvocality and the great difficulty the reader has in deciphering, at multiple parts in the novel, just in fact which character is speaking. She is known for her streams of consciousness writing, and the novel is so intricately woven that multiple streams of consciousness begin to become embedded--which can be infuriating for some readers, while utterly beautiful for others. I want to write this topic!!! – danielle5777 years ago
If you choose to include modern literature, Jodi Picoult is a good example of this, as are Kathryn Stockett and Amy Tan. – Stephanie M.7 years ago
May I suggest as an alternative to polyvocality: "Transversal Literature" – L:Freire4 years ago
Regardless of one’s personal opinions of film remakes, there’s something rather culturally significant about making a new Ben-Hur in 2016. Since the release of the 1995 documentary, The Celluloid Closet, it has become well-known that Gore Vidal went into writing the screenplay for the 1959 film with the idea that Ben-Hur and Messala were former lovers ((link) which drove much of the subtextual conflict of the story. Though the audience of the day, via their substantially heteronormative attitudes and expectations, was predominantly unable to detect this secret inclusion, today it is viewed as a successful attempt at LGBT representation in the early days of film history.
Fast forward 57 years, to a time when society has progressed enough that homosexuality is no longer the social taboo that it once was and is not at all prohibited from cinematic representation. To remake a film like Ben-Hur at this time presents a world of possibilities, namely that the filmmakers are now able to present the homoerotic tension between these characters more explicitly and overtly than was allowed in 1959. However, based on the two trailers [the film has not yet been released at the time of my writing this], there appears to have been a conscious creative choice to make Ben-Hur and Messala adoptive brothers in this new rendering of the story. One might be inclined to speculate that this decision was made to exorcise the spirit of the story’s homoerotic past, thereby using "brotherly love" in lieu of "ambiguously gay duo" to unburden their hard-core action movie with something that they believe to have "non-masculine" qualities.
Discuss the differences between the two films in this respect. How does it reflect views toward LGBT characters in the film industry, particularly in the action genre? What might it say about the shifting standards for what can be deemed as acceptable and unacceptable film content? Clearly something is a little socially retrograde if a movie in 1959 is able to do a better job of including gay characters than its 2016 counterpart. Might the remake’s heightened religious emphasis have something to do with this? What other examples of recent films might exemplify this phenomenon? Furthermore, what value is there to remake certain films if not to better express aspects that can receive new meaning in our contemporary context?
If there's space in this discussion, I'd like to see some exploration of the encoded homoeroticism of the "sword and sandal" genre generally, beyond the politics of explicit representation. This massive scale celebration of exposed male flesh and sweat, associated with Greek homoerotic pederasty, seems a curious counterpoint to the social conservatism of the 1950s, and yet it existed at the very core of the mainstream. – TKing7 years ago
For the past while, Jerry Seinfeld has become quite vocal about his disdain for political correctness in comedy. Independent of one’s personal stance on this highly-contested issue, their is something strange about Seinfeld making himself a spokesman for this somewhat adversarial position, considering how tame his comedy has historically been in that respect. Discuss the nature of Seinfeld’s seemingly unlikely position, what factors may have led him to it, and what influence he has had in the debate.
Great topic. Seinfeld was a popular in the 90s. Could be he is finding a generation gap: Boomers vs Millennials? I found his conversations with Jon Stewart interesting because Seinfeld has in the past always eschewed political satire and Jon Stewart of course is so different. Both comedians though. He did make a career though of portraying a shallow superficial character on TV so it is possible that such a role rooted in his real life persona should not come as a real surprise. Remember the 90s were a time of economic prosperity and so perhaps the inequities of today and post 9/11 tone has changed our global and national discourse. We live in different times and I think comedy has veered toward political satire given the nature of the material present in today presidential race. I am sure Seinfeld's kids will get him up to day though. Kids have that effect on aging parents. – Munjeera7 years ago
It's definitely a matter of shifting standards; watching Seinfeld reruns, a lot of the jokes seem mean and target already disenfranchised groups. Things that were funny or even just acceptable socially 20 years ago don't always hold up today, so I think he's finding out how much of his material was catered to his 90s/early 2000s audience. – chrischan7 years ago
I think an interesting thing to consider with Seinfeld's stance on political correctness is the difference in media representation when he was rising to fame as a stand-up comedian and his subsequent TV show. Even in the 90's, there wasn't a popular voice for many minority groups in the mainstream media to speak up for or against the status quo, as compared to today where there are many prominent figures, as well as social media, whom make their feeling known. Does Seinfeld have a point in people getting softer or have those people always been around, but without a voice. – Dominique Kollie7 years ago
Seinfeld was popular amongst people who felt there should be some backlash against the politically correct movement. Seinfeld has his philosophy about comedy and what he is committed to as a comedian. He avoids politics, swearing and personally ascribes to a colorblind attitude. If you watch Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry and Chris Rock, Jerry and Trevor Noah and Jerry and President Obama, you will see how committed he is to eschewing any political hot topics. Social justice and equity are not his thing and he makes that clear. I mean it is up to him how he does his job. You can't argue with success. I personally never really liked Seinfeld as I enjoy political satire and parody. The show was proud to celebrate the inconsequential. – Munjeera7 years ago
To build off of what chrischan said, my understanding of his backlash was that it stemmed from college students not laughing at a joke he made at the expense of the LGBTQ+ community. Meanwhile, we have comedians like Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer (very 'edgy' comedians) stating that, while they don't regret jokes they made in the past, there are certain culturally insensitive jokes that they would not make today. I find this topic so interesting in virtue of this split: the issue to me doesn't seem to be about PC culture stifling free speech, but rather it involves that the creator of a joke think about what they say from multiple perspectives. Seinfeld, in contrast to Schumer and Silverman, may represent that divide in terms of a more inclusive culture for an historically pretty conservative field of creative expression. – Derek7 years ago
Spineless Seinfeld is too wimpy to have a crusade. Him criticizing PC culture is like a paraplegic punching a quadriplegic: the weaker attacking the weakest, How can he, a guy in a show one could easily watch with a pious grandmama - rage against PC culture? "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia?" Now that's a challenge to PC culture. – Tigey7 years ago
I was always a fan of the show Seinfeld, as that was part of my generation, well, the tail-end of it. Personally, in my belief, I think Seinfeld is doing all of this as a talking point, or publicity stunt to stage some form of comeback. He's always been relatively private or on the quiet side, so I've laughed all this talk off, take it all in stride as another means of acting, and I'm just waiting for his announcement or punch-line that will clear up what this all means. – danielle5777 years ago
I have heard Seinfeld speak on this topic of equity and PC and Seinfeld believes that America is a meritocracy. In the past his view was you work hard, you get ahead if you are good enough to be better than everyone else. Clearly that worked for him. But since then, Seinfeld has become a parent, which can radically alter most people. Perhaps in the past Seinfeld did not feel that being PC was a positive aspect but now he is a parent. I don't know what Seinfeld's religious beliefs are, as mentioned he is private. Good for him on the privacy issue but as a parent I hope he recognizes that there is a lot of anti-Semitism still in the world today, which sickens me. Whenever I hear it, I always speak up ... strongly. I hope despite his public persona of focusing on trivial issues, he supports his kids over dealing with prejudices. There are still a lot of reprehensible stereotypes about many groups and all of us have to rethink our ideas when we encounter hatred, especially irrational hatred and prejudice directed at our children. This can help make a person stronger. No matter how weak someone is, moms and dads have a killer instinct to defend their kids. Even though I didn't really like the show, I respect Seinfeld because he had integrity to quit while he was doing immensely successfully in his field. I believe he will carry that same integrity on to his parenting. – Munjeera7 years ago
From Seinfeld, I don't expect Lenny Bruce's "comedy" - which challenged polite, suburban, white-flight, Northern racism - nor do I expect anyone to be as funny as Richard Pryor. I expect from Seinfeld, to quote Bob Dylan, to "do what's necessary and then repent"; it's generally what we all do to save our own skins. I think Danielle nailed it: it's a posture; I think Munjeera nailed it: parenthood is a game changer; but I think I nailed it too: he's just not compelling enough to garner my attention. Bob Dylan belches and I take notes; Seinfeld speaks and I yawn – Tigey7 years ago
In both Slaughterhouse-Five (1969 novel by Kurt Vonnegut, adapted to film in 1972 by George Roy Hill) and K-PAX (1995 novel by Gene Brewer, adapted to film in 2001 by Iain Softley), the main characters experience delusions of extraterrestrials. (Billy Pilgrim encountering the Tralfamadorians and Robert "prot" Porter believing himself to be a K-PAXian from the planet K-PAX.) In both cases, it is hinted, though never stated out-rightly, that these are coping mechanisms in response to trauma experienced by the characters: Billy’s witnessing of the fire bombing of Dresden during WWII and prot’s having lost his wife and daughter and subsequently killing their murderer.
Discuss the thematic link between these two novels? In what ways have they employed this trope similarly to one another, and how has K-PAX (being the latter of the two) altered it or taken it further? Why has extraterrestrial life been used by both of these authors as their go-to psychosis? What may have influenced their mutual decision to leave a final verdict on the aliens ambiguous, both having planted a small seed of doubt that the aliens may be real – and therefore everyone BUT the protagonist is "crazy" for not believing him. Furthermore, how does this compare to other abstract depictions of mental illness in literature and film? Are there any other examples of works that use fictitious aliens to in this way to shield characters from hard truths?
I've not seen the film of Slaughterhouse Five, but I read the book. As I recall, Billy Pilgrim's experience with the aliens dances along the line between fantasy and reality pretty ambiguously. The book is less interested in the reader's trying to figure out whether they exist or not than in K-PAX (here I know the movie, sort of, but not the book), but rather using them as a means through which to explore the insanity of the time and place. K PAX is almost entirely about prot's psychology. In that sense, the Tralfamadorians are undoubtedly real TO THE STORY in a way that I don't think applies in K PAX. I think you'll want to stick to either a movie-to-movie comparison or a book-to-book, unless you're specifically interested in the way in which each is adapted. I'd say that aspect isn't particularly pertinent. – TKing7 years ago
You can read some alien books for the same. – imemilyalice7 years ago
Juicy topic. I'd snap it up, but I haven't read K-PAX and the Slaughterhouse film stinks. – Tigey7 years ago
The crowd-funding platform, Patreon (founded in 2013), has become widely used among a variety of different kinds of web-based artists, but perhaps most prominently among YouTubers. Those who subscribe to numerous channels have likely noticed recent plugs to become a patron by pledging money to support new content – many of you may have surely already become patrons to some. Being a medium that is only now truly beginning to carve out its cultural importance, the significance that Patreon has had in this YouTube paradigm shift cannot be understated. More and more artists are now being enabled to support themselves financially off of their web videos, which has allowed them the time and freedom to devote themselves fully to this work without needing day-jobs, and therefore the quality of their work has been able to increase. This has proven to be of particular importance since the recent changing of the rules for traditional YouTube Partnerships, to which the vast majority of creators have agreed that they are no longer being benefited, thus leading them to sign up for Patreon accounts.
Discuss the brief history of the company so far, the intricacies of its business model, and the influence it has had in developing and cultivating YouTube as a new artistic frontier. How is this method of fundraising reminiscent of past models of artistic patronage (from the Medici family of Renaissance Florence to the Nielsen rating system that has dictated the success and failure of television programming since the late 1940s), and how is it unique to the new online ecosystem that it is inhabiting? What might its rising success and bold legitimising of YouTube artistry mean for the future of conventional media channels, such as film, television, and print? Might there be long-term consequences to this format if it continues to expand at its current rate?
Given how new all of this is, and how rapidly the changes are occurring, it is especially interesting to analyse the implications of what has already happened in these early stages to attempt predictions at where it might lead.
Sounds like a great category which will add to the platform. Also, the juxtaposition of traditional art with a new medium is also brilliant. Original thinking on your part. – Munjeera7 years ago
In order to justify its presence on the so-called "History" Channel, Pawn Stars makes a point of highlighting the historical significance of various antiques that come into the store. This is typically framed by Rick sharing his minimal knowledge of the item and its historical context, at which point he calls in an expert (one of his many "buddies") to tell the full story under the guise of an appraisal. In the recent seasons, they get through fewer and fewer items per episode, interspersed with cringe-worthy family subplots that appear to have been rejected from real sitcoms, including arbitrary wagers, surprise birthday parties, and (my personal favourite) aimlessly searching for Bob Dylan through the crowded streets of Las Vegas (S03E20).
Considering how the History Channel’s radical re-branding of circa 2008 no longer requires it to feign being intellectually stimulating in any way, what may be the purpose of the brief historical interludes in an otherwise mind-numbing show? Given the channel’s shift from educational documentaries to trashy reality shows, are these segments only there to justify that there is still some attempt at engaging with history, or is there some deeper function to it? What might this say about contemporary historical education? Could the cheese-ball sitcom element perhaps be a sort of lure to trick laymen into engaging with the narratives of the past? Furthermore, how has this kind of television content become a contemporary cultural icon in itself? (For examples, see this scene from Gravity Falls ((link) and this 2011 CollegeHumor sketch ((link) 1:17).
Whatever the verdicts may be, how might it be illustrated in other examples of post-2008 programming, such as American Pickers, Ice Road Truckers, Ancient Aliens, and Vikings?
I've noticed this trend with the Discovery Channel as well. The content seems to be catered to boosting ratings and not anything intellectually stimulating. All those fake documentaries make me cringe; there was one on mermaids, though that might have been on Animal Planet, and another was about megladons. Maybe this shift has to do with ratings or the rise of the internet or an attempt to keep tv relevant. – S.A. Takacs7 years ago
This topic sounds like an SNL dream. One could combine the Dylan-in-Vegas episode with Ghosthunters: (Out of breath from running) "My mysterious poet-o-meter says an internal rhyme was created in the area... Did you see that? It looked like the ghost of 'lectricity." – Tigey7 years ago
Great topic! At this point, Rick from Pawn Stars is as much an Internet meme as he is a television personality. I would suggest looking into the demographics of shows like Pawn Starts to see what the average age of the viewer is. That could provide some insight into why Pawn Stars and shows like it have shifted away from a historical focus. – KennethC7 years ago
Watterson’s strategic use of nomenclature when it came to naming his famous comic (and its two central characters) is well known, as its evocation of two historically significant philosophers guides the reader to look beyond the comic’s perceived childishness to discover deep-seated philosophical themes. However, might there be a special reasoning as to why he chose these two specific thinkers? Does the character of Calvin in any way represent post-Lutheran Christian reformational dogmatism? Does Hobbes illustrate the necessity of Social Contract theory to maintain civilized order in light of mankind’s inherently brutish nature? In what ways might these philosophical outlooks be reflected in the young boy’s imaginative adventures with his stuffed tiger?
This is a great topic and you have raised so many excellent points here to discuss for a true CH fan. I would look forward to reading this article. – Munjeera7 years ago
This would be cool to read. I once wrote an exegesis of Green Eggs and Ham for a hoot. This would be fun too. – LisaDee7 years ago
My daughter just told me that Calvin once told Hobbes he was trying to trick Santa by writing a letter claiming to be Calvin's nicer brother, Melville. Hmm... – Tigey7 years ago
Discuss the role of the female dragon character from the film Shrek (2001) and its sequels. Do the character’s unexpected gender and romantic relationship with Donkey effectively subvert the fairy tale genre’s tropes of monstrous (presumably male) dragons, or does her animated femininity – long eyelashes, red lips, mating instinct, etc – perpetuate patriarchal gender ideologies? How might this be related to other ways in which the film attempts to recast female archetypes, most prominently through the character of Fiona? Do these non-normative portrayals of female characters send better messages to young viewers than the standard fairy tale (or "Disney princess") representations?
Perhaps comparing it to another other female dragon might help this analysis, I am thinking of Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty (1959.) Who also has the role of keeping the prince away from the princes. But unlike the Shrek dragon she looks complete masculine. – odettedesiena7 years ago