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Are Detectives the Main Characters in their Own Stories?

An interesting trend in mystery fiction is the "outsider" nature of the classic detective. These characters – Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, Adrian Monk, Shawn Spencer, Scooby Doo, etc – seem to exist for the purpose of helping other people’s stories reach resolution. Although they are often the perspective characters in their stories, it can be argued that the main characters are the victims and the perpetrators of the crimes being investigated. Those are the characters who are causing events to happen and having events happen to them.
Consider the stories where a detective finds themselves in the middle of a mysterious situation they were not hired to investigate, and yet they decide to root out the who, how, and why for the net benefit of everyone else.
An article on this topic could explore why detective characters are so often written this way. Why does this affect the mystery genre in particular? Is this a net benefit or problem with the genre?

  • This is an intriguing way to look at detective stories. When discussing the affect the conventional detective point-of-view has on mystery stories, as well as to what extent this benefits the genre, it could be interesting to mention the few mystery stories that do not position the detective as the focal character. Off the top of my head, the only detective story I could think of that does foreground another character over the detective is the first Knives Out film by Rian Johnson. [MILD SPOILERS FOR KNIVES OUT] The second half of the film is told primarily from the perspective of another character, with the detective Benoit Blanc not even appearing in some scenes focused on the other character. Within the context of the film, this shifted focus is supposed to subvert expectations of the mystery genre, as the story follows the other character’s efforts to avoid the detective finding out what they did. – Magnolia 6 months ago
  • I think this is a potentially interesting topic. In terms of other detective pieces that could be discussed are the detective tv series Columbo (and others like it, like the more recent Poker Face), where the detective sometimes turns up a little late in the story. The beginning focuses on other characters, other stories. – AnnieEM 4 months ago
  • I find this to be a very interesting topic for various reasons 1) The perspective of the detective as outsider who becomes the insider by choice mirrors the process the reader goes through; she after all steps into the "situation"/the fiction by choice (picking up the book/movie/TV show) and 2) the idea of net benefit has a lot of potential: I think noahspud uses the idea in two ways. First, it is suggested that the detective decides to solve the mystery with a net benefit for everyone else. Moreover, it is also suggested that the detective as a main character in their own story "gains" something by being involved, so the detective is really part of the net-benefitting? Secondly, insofar as the reader develops parallel with the detective, she "benefits." Of course, the reader can also develop beyond the detective, in which case she also benefits (albeit differently). It would be interesting to explore how these benefits look if we were to take different literary examples. I am thinking in particular of the recent season of the TV show Endeavour (a season which had a huge audience across various countries), which takes its audience through a significant emotional and ethical journey alongside the main detective but in such a way that the detective always deflects from total identification with him. I look forward to reading someone's article on this topic, and appreciate the ideas. – gitte 4 months ago

How Will the Current Culture Affect Classic Novels?

Most of us grew up with some form of the classic novel. Whether we read abridged, illustrated versions for kids, encountered them in school, or watched TV or movie versions (e.g., Wishbone, Disney adaptations), most of us know at least some of the traditional "classics" of the Western canon. These include but are not limited to works by Dickens, Steinbeck, Morrison, Lee, Shakespeare, Austen, and Wells.

As our culture becomes more aware of concepts like marginalized experience and cultural appropriation though, our relationships with classic literature may change. We now critique certain examples of classics because of what they imply about non-Western, non-white cultures, or what they leave out. We critique them based on the roles women do or don’t play, or how characters of color are treated, or whether characters coded LGBT are sympathetic. As a disabled woman, I find myself being harsher with books like Of Mice and Men or The Color Purple because of how they treat members of my groups.

How does this heightened critique and awareness mean we should treat the classics? That is, can we still learn valuable things from these books even if they are cringe-worthy in their rhetoric or character portrayals? How can we engage with these books, without spending all our time on the problematic parts? Some of these classics have been retold because of heightened critique; was this a good or bad idea? And, are these critiques even valid, or should we simply say, "This was written in another time and we should simply accept that?" Discuss.

  • The critiques are valid, in my opinion. It is important to understand the contexts these stories were written in as they allow us to realize how much things have changed and, more importantly, what has not changed. To simply admit that these novels were written in a different time suggests that the problems that existed back then are solved now. We know that this is not the case, that people are still marginalized and cultures are still being appropriated. Learning about these issues when they were more apparent allow us to understand the injustices that are still ongoing today. – Kennedy 2 years ago
  • While thoughtful critique of problematic elements in classic literature can further productive discussion and help us understand how certain harmful attitudes became normalized, we must be careful not to judge historical works too harshly by today's standards. Rather than canceling classics entirely, it may be better to teach and analyze them with appropriate context, acknowledging flaws while still appreciating positives. Some reimagined versions aim to be more inclusive, but lose the original voice. Classics remain relevant when transcending their time and place to speak to universal human truths. No work is perfect, and reasonable people can disagree on how to handle insensitive content. Open discourse allows growth, while knee-jerk condemnation often does not. If we discard all works containing outdated views, we lose touch with our past and ability to learn from it. A balanced approach, neither banning classics nor accepting dated views uncritically, may be best as we determine how to engage thoughtfully with these works in today's climate. – Nyxion 3 months ago

"Love Triangles: Why?"

The convoluted strife created by a love triangle has become incredibly commonplace in many narratives (particularly YA ones). Why do we find this so interesting? Is it the unnecessary drama, the concept of hearts going awry? Where does sexuality fit into this, and what do we do with polyamory’s growing acceptance in this context?

  • The love triangle has been around since the beginning of time! They are quick and easy drama. – SportsEntertainmentWriter 8 years ago
  • Love triangles create dramatic intense scenes. Readers are always keen to figure out who picks who. – semelejansen 8 years ago
  • Something interesting is people's focus in fandoms on the male-male relationship of two guys fighting for the heart of one girl. The triangle is warped in this way because in some cases the fans are arguing that the bond between the men in competition with one another, that rivalry, is more emotionally charged and attracting that their individual connections with the one being fought over. – Slaidey 8 years ago

The Rising Popularity of 'Low Stakes' Fantasy

Not all fantasy fiction involves epic quests and world ending conflicts. Some focus on an orc opening a coffee shop or a woman moving to a cozy town and befriending a witch. According to the scifi/fantasy publisher Tor, this subgenre came into widespread use around 2022. So much so the "cozy fantasy" tag has about 18 million views on TikTok. Cozy fantasy seems to cast a wide net including anyone from middle grade to adult.

Analyze the sudden interest in ‘low stakes’ fantasy books such as Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree or Cackle by Rachel Harrison. How is the genre defined? What purpose is there to include mythical beings in a story with such little or no magic? What other pieces of media fit within the genre?


    Materiality in Writing Practices: What matters?

    A common point of difference in commentary on literary craft is the role of tools: the pens, the paper, the word processors, and other ephemera through which writing actually happens. Some authors, such as Neil Gaiman, famously write in beautiful notebooks with beautiful pens, while others take the opposite approach. Natalie Goldberg, for instance, has written of her preference for a fast-writing cheap pen and an inexpensive notebook, on the basis that such tools put little pressure on the author to produce perfect work.

    While it seems reasonable that personal preference plays an important role, how can aspiring writers think more critically about their choice of creative implements? Of the resources at our disposal, which are likely to support the creative process, and under what conditions? Conversely, under what conditions might we consider a writing practice to be ill-resourced, and what are the telltale symptoms of such a situation?

    • The same consideration could be applied to the entire material environment and its consequent impact on the writer's experience. For instance, compare Henry David Thoreau, who wrote in a small cabin in the woods with a fountain pen, to modern digital nomads writing on their laptops in the coffee shops they found in their way. – ivan 3 weeks ago

    Has Body Positivity gone to far?

    In 2020, during an appearance on BuzzFeeds "AM to DM" Julian Micheals (Personal Fitness Trainer) was criticized for comments she made about singer/rapper Lizzo. "Why are we celebrating her body? Why does it matter?…’Cause it isn’t gonna be awesome if she gets diabetes". At the time many accused Micheals of fat shaming, but Micheals went onto explain in future interviews that it wasn’t about what people found attractive. That she had a concern for what we as a culture were valuing. She had an issue with us being okay with a health problem that could lead to further health issues like "diabetes". This does not appear to be an isolated incident either. As there have been calls for more diverse body types appearing in media (whether it is video-games, movies, comics, television or advertisement) to help spread body positivity. We have seen comics like "Daughter of Starfire", "The ‘New’ New Warriors", featuring large bodied superheroes. And more recently we have seen the premiere of "Lizzo’s ‘Big Grrrls’ " a show about big bodied women competing to be backup dancers for Lizzo. A counter argument that is often brought up is how media (television, comics, games, etc.) will often overly promote physically fit bodies and how many believe it can be just as damaging. The problem with this argument is that both the hyper acceptance of large bodies and the need to fit what society deems “healthy” is believed to lead to unhealthily results. Making this counter arguement a logical fallacy known as tu quque. In both situations the hyper marketing of a certain body type is believed to lead to negative results, so it doesn’t invalidate Julian Micheals criticism of Lizzo, and vice versa. This once again brings us to the question: are producers of visual media (video-games, comics, television, or advertisement) responsible for their viewers, mental health, self-worth, and body image? Should those who work in visual media try to promote a healthy body image? Are they responsible for what becomes a cultural trend? Or is it on the individual to manage their mental health, self-worth, and body image?

    • This is a great topic. However, I think you've accidentally made your whole argument in the topic instead of an article. Narrow it down a little--or broaden it so that the argument is not focused on two specific individuals. Then you can craft a piece that will reach a broader audience by covering more facets of the body-shaming conundrum. – Stephanie M. 2 years ago
    • I think that you could look at Michaels presumption that Lizzo was unhealthy and prone to diabetes because she is larger. Whereas smaller body types are mostly presumed healthy, though those with them can have eating disorders, take diet drugs, smoke etc. to stay thin. There is also the fact that a lot of doctors blame all symptoms a larger person complains of on being overweight and refuse to look further, as they too presume that fat=unhealthy – JDWatts 2 years ago
    • I love what you pointed out. This is the similar issue we once saw in sports and in education. Inclusiveness and body positivity are meant to reduce discrimination. Rather, the way it was promoted eventually become sabotaging to existing, healthy standards. For example, promoting body positivity doesn't mean neglecting healthy eating and nutritional balance. Accepting your current body doesn't mean antagonizing a big girl wanting to be smaller when they realize their current body type isn't the best for their body. I wouldn't say it's going too far, but I definitely see our approach nowadays being problematic as many are supporting body positivity from a defensive, negative mindset that doesn't truly allow the concept to do what it's supposed to do: to encourage more self love and self care, which naturally include toning up your body to be "better," as much as the crowd would hate this word. And another under-discussed issue is forcing someone critical about their body and trying to make change to "feel enough" or to accept body positivity could easily turn into another form of bullying. – Xiao 6 months ago

    The triad of Min Yoongi

    As a musician, composer, and producer, it is essential to explore the following aspects when delving into the multifaceted identity of Min Yoongi/Suga/Agust D:

    Artistic Evolution: Trace the evolution of Min Yoongi’s musical journey, highlighting the growth and transformation of his artistic style and sound. Explore how his diverse musical influences and experimentation have contributed to the layers within his creative identity.

    Genre Fluidity: Investigate Min Yoongi’s ability to navigate and excel in different musical genres. Explore how he seamlessly transitions between rap, hip-hop, R&B, and other genres, showcasing his versatility as a musician and pushing boundaries within the industry.

    Personal Narrative: Unveil the personal narrative and introspective themes that Min Yoongi explores through his music. Examine how his lyrics and compositions reflect his own experiences, emotions, and perspectives. Explore themes such as self-reflection, vulnerability, and resilience.

    Producer’s Perspective: Highlight Min Yoongi’s role as a producer and the impact he has on shaping the artistic direction of his music. Explore his creative process, collaborative efforts, and production techniques, shedding light on how he brings his vision to life.

    Social Commentary: Investigate Min Yoongi’s ability to use his platform to address social issues and deliver impactful messages through his music. Examine how he tackles topics like mental health, societal pressures, and cultural identity, offering a voice to those who may feel unheard.

    By exploring these aspects, you can delve into the rich and intricate layers of Min Yoongi/Suga/Agust D’s artistic identity. Emphasize the diverse range of skills, experiences, and perspectives that contribute to his multifaceted nature as a musician, composer, and producer.


      A Shift in Middle-grade Content Without a Shift in the Target Audience

      The 90s saw tons of ‘darker’ middle-grade series, Animorphs and Goosebumps to name a few. Neither of these series were so mature that they became inaccessible to their target readers but their stories were grounded in themes or tropes that could still appeal to all ages. Discuss the middle-grade demographic and whether it has more potential to experiment and mix genres and exist outside of the common publication conventions than other demographics such as children’s, YA, or adult.

      Thoughts on middle-grade? Thoughts on defining books by their demographic rather than genre? Anyone have any good recommendations for more recent ‘all-ages’ novels or series?


        Did Boruto "kill" Naruto? - The Impact of Boruto on the Narutoverse: Exploring the Evolution and Continuity

        As a writer, it is important to delve into the theme of how Boruto has impacted the Narutoverse and what aspects should be explored. Here are some key points to consider:

        Evolution of the Narrative: Analyze how the introduction of Boruto as a sequel series has brought new dimensions to the Narutoverse. Explore the ways in which the storyline, characters, and overall world have evolved to reflect the passage of time and the changing dynamics of the ninja world.

        Character Development: Examine the growth and development of familiar characters from the Naruto series within the context of Boruto. Explore how their experiences and relationships have evolved, and the impact this has had on their individual story arcs and the overarching narrative.

        Intergenerational Conflict: Investigate the conflicts and tensions that arise between the older generation of characters from Naruto and the new generation represented by Boruto. Explore the clash of ideals, values, and perspectives, and how this dynamic shapes the narrative and drives character growth.

        Continuity and Legacy: Explore how Boruto maintains continuity with the Narutoverse while forging its own path. Examine the ways in which the series pays homage to its predecessor and honors the legacy of Naruto, while also introducing new elements and expanding the lore of the ninja world.

        Impact on Fanbase: Analyze the reception and impact of Boruto within the Naruto fanbase. Explore how fans have responded to the new series, the strengths and weaknesses identified, and the ways in which it has contributed to the ongoing enthusiasm for the Narutoverse.

        By exploring these aspects, the writer can navigate the theme of Boruto’s impact on the Narutoverse and delve into the intricacies of its narrative, character development, and fan reception. It is crucial to strike a balance between honoring the original series while allowing the new generation to carve its own path, creating a cohesive and engaging continuation of the beloved Naruto universe.


          Why Do We Just Want to Be Pixelated Billionaires

          In modern games, the connection between capitalism and virtual realms reveals intriguing dynamics. An engaging aspect lies within the intricate economies crafted within these digital landscapes. Many of us feel broke in the face of the allure of accumulating virtual wealth, even in the game world. How inherently capitalistic is this?

          Consider the Smooth Love Potion (SLP) within the realm of Axie Infinity or the coveted PLEX of Eve Online. These alternative currencies serve as beacons of virtual prosperity, beckoning players to pursue the coveted status of rich players.

          In the vast majority, if not all, modern games, players willingly invest their hard-earned dollars to acquire these alternative currencies, which can be far more valuable than traditional forms of wealth within the game. The acquisition of extravagant skins, weapons, and treasures becomes a symbol of status and achievement, driving players to strive for in-game riches.

          Amidst this pursuit, it is essential to understand the motivations that fuel such dedication. What really lies beneath the surface of this quest for virtual wealth? This article will delve into the intricate ties between the virtual and the real, the motivations that propel players, and the profound implications these virtual economies have on the broader scope of the gaming industry and its connectedness with the realm of capitalism.


            Marvel: A Split World with Growing Divide?

            The MCU is timeless and well loved by many–both in its decades of comics, and in their evolution to a for-the-screen franchise. Afterall, the MCU was irreversibly expanded with Iron Man’s debut in 2008, and the 30 movies to follow. Amid these movie’s grandness, however, shows such as "Agents of Shield" served to fill in the gaps. They were not necessary for understanding the plot of each new movie, though they added extra glimpses of the MCU that the movies missed. More than this, they helped to tie eager audience’s over while each new movie was in production. In recent years, however, the role of MCU shows seems to have changed.

            Without watching "WandaVision", audiences would only have half the story of Wanda’s fall in "Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness." Without "Hawkeye," audiences would lack the entirety of Kate Bishop’s introduction to the MCU. In short, Marvel tv shows no longer seem to be the periphery stories they once were. More and more, the plot points, characters and events in these shows are pivotal to understanding the movie that comes next. One might claim this new emphasis has incited new investment in these shows–a depth of quality necessary for matching their film counterparts. At the same time, is the new weight placed on these shows too great?

            One of the most wonderful aspects of watching the Avengers movies, from first to last, was the shared experience for the audience. Each new movie was an event in itself, a key step toward where every arc intersected. But the necessity of MCU shows has created a far less linear path–one that is near impossible to follow without a subscription to DisneyPlus. Have the quality and value of MCU films been diluted by their television counterparts? Were MCU shows more enjoyable without the pressure of their greater plot stakes? Has the MCU simply spread itself too thin? While the MCU’s magic seems to be rooted in its ability to carefully weave many plots into one, have its shows thrown too many threads into the mix? For any franchise to remain in the public eye, it has to keep their attention–though one might wonder if MCU shows are the best way to do this. This article could go in a couple of different directions–both in support, or against MCU shows-examining one, or many. This is just a change I feel has greatly impacted the MCU in recent years, and one that might be interesting to examine.


              Digital De-Aging and Resurrection: Its History and the Long-Term Implications for the Film Industry

              Digital de-aging has been around in the film industry for some time now, but its use has increased substantially as CGI technology continues to improve. Age-acceleration is also used, but winding back the clock instead is usually the more difficult feat to pull off well. What was once laughably unconvincing has now become an eerily good imitation. Instead of relying on younger actors to portray popular characters in flashback scenes, one can simply strip away the wrinkles and keep the visuals of the original actors intact. Think of a de-aged Johnny Depp for flashbacks of his character Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales or Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones in the recent Dial of Destiny film, for example. Beyond that, one can digitally resurrect lost talent whether their deaths were abruptly in the midst of shooting a film or they passed away long ago (and never would’ve imagined such technology could exist). When Carrie Fisher unexpectedly passed, existing footage was apparently salvaged and cobbled together with CGI to fill in the gaps to reproduce Princess Leia for The Rise of Skywalker film. For a Dove Chocolate commercial, a likeness of deceased Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn was used. Give some examples of films that successfully handled digital de-aging or resurrection as well as others that missed the mark. What went wrong and what went right? Before this technology was ever imagined and accessible, how did films handle the aging and deaths of actors? What does this mean for the future of the film industry, in terms of actors and production companies, etc.?

              • I think this is a fascinating idea. I've seen a lot of dislike around the use of this technology for 'resurrections' as you call it, with some feeling it's disrespectful, and feels a little dystopian (even in death, some cannot escape their jobs, and are puppeted without their say. A little melodramatic, but understandably so). Others are worried what it means for smaller actors - if you can just use someone's likeness, will we need real actors? Voice actors for audiobooks have expressed concerns over people using AI voices instead of more expensive voice actors, so some do worry we could end up with something similar happening in the film industry. This may be beyond the scope of a single article, but it's certainly an interesting topic. – AnnieEM 5 months ago

              Fantastic Racism: The Universal Prejudice Metaphor

              Fantastic Racism is the term for writers creating a non-human race – aliens from outer space, vampires, werewolves, mutants, elves, orcs, etc. – and then using that race as a metaphor for real-world demographics that are the target of prejudice. The strength of this metaphor is that it can potentially be used in place of any minority group.

              In the world of X-Men, mutants have served as a metaphor for various real-world minorities over the decades, from Jewish people to Black people to LGBT’s.

              In many fantasy worlds, orcs are seen as barbaric, monstrous outsiders. A plot requiring humans and orcs to put aside their differences – such as the film Warcraft – can be used as a metaphor for international conflicts as well as domestic diversity. Meanwhile, in Max Landis’ urban fantasy world of Bright, orcs become a metaphor for any group with an antagonistic relationship with the police, due to poverty, ethnicity, or culture.

              Other examples include Skyrim, Supergirl, True Blood, and even Harry Potter. Analyze these and other examples of Fantastic Racism. Do some work better as metaphors than others? Can we learn different lessons from these stories that we may not see in stories about real-world human minority groups?

              • A topic worth pondering! The reference to eugenics could add further dimensions to this topic. And how whiteness, for example, the race of elves, is glorified against the narratives of demonizing non-white orcs. – Golam Rabbani 5 months ago
              • I just loved this topic!! We can actually gain insights and perspectives that may not be as apparent in narratives centered on real-world human minority groups. I believe it can lead to a broader understanding of prejudice and discrimination. Amazing! – allan reis 5 months ago
              • A great subject, considering how often Fantastic Racism can get messy if poorly handled. I'm almost wondering if the topic too broad for a single article, considering how often it comes up in media. You seem to be focusing on fantasy here, but scifi has a lot to offer the subject as well. Star Wars, The Animatrix, and Star Trek are all worth mentioning. – Petar 4 months ago
              • True; the article's author would get to focus on whatever examples they're familiar with or the ones they most appreciate personally. – noahspud 4 months ago

              How have streaming services altered the quality of modern entertainment?

              In looking at how film entertainment has evolved over the years, an especially drastic shift can be seen in the boom of streaming services that followed the Covid-19 Pandemic. At first, these services appeared to be a saving grace of comfort and convenience–allowing one the ability to still bring the luxury of a movie theater into their own home, allowing one to catch up on the newest flicks with a subscription and a click. Though as the world now struggles to mesh the “New Normal” with the normal we all used to know, these streaming services show no signs of slowing down. According to CNBC, the U.S. has given up around 3,000 theater screens since 2019–and those that remain are now tasked with finding ways to remain relevant. In short, the public seems reluctant to dive fully back into the old movie magic of the theater. But what have these screens been traded for?

              Each streaming service is a world tasked with populating itself full of movies and shows to keep its audience’s attention–but what do these services sacrifice in the process? Have streaming services begun to trade quality for content, pushing titles with big names and no stories just to fill their slots? What has been lost in the experience of seeing a movie for the first time in theaters now that everything can be watched from one’s couch? Are these changes beneficial, or a deficit to the quality of modern entertainment? This article could go in a number of directions–exploring particular movie franchises, or the evolution of certain streaming services overall. This just seems to be a relatively new phenomenon of the last decade, but one that has altered what and how we watch in extremely poignant ways.


                Explicit content in Euphoria: glorification or necessary depiction?

                HBO’s hit show Euphoria depicts the journeys of teenage characters as they navigate a complicated social landscape of sex, drugs, and overall delinquency. It follows the main character, Rue, as she becomes more and more entrenched in a drug addiction. Side plots depict such storylines as Rue’s friends becoming entangled in sexual affairs with adults, threatening each other with guns, and above all, sneaking around behind their parents’ backs.

                Sexual and graphic content in regards to teenagers is nothing new in media. We’ve seen it in the past with shows such as Skins, DeGrassi, and Beverly Hills, 90201. However, Euphoria has stirred up a unique controversy in that it revolves almost entirely around drug usage as a plot point, as well as depicts teenage characters (portrayed by adult actors) in explicit sexual positions with full-frontal nudity. In certain scenes, drug addiction almost looks enjoyable: attractive, thin, and happy-looking teens are all too happy to be high at any moment they can.

                This has been the topic of many an argument among viewers: is it dangerous to depict teenagers engaging in such behavior, as it may be read as inspiring or encouraging to a young audience? Conversely, is it important to depict the realities of these issues and not to shy away from tough topics, thus cementing their taboo within society? There certainly are teenagers today that deal with and engage in such activities. Should we be thinking of them and providing media with a representation of the struggles they face, or will such a show encourage straight-edged teens to move in a different direction?

                • Glorification or necessary depiction? I think this is a really interesting topic for discussion in relation to Euphoria, but also other shows (those already mentioned but also many others such as 13 Reasons Why) as well as in literature. Is art imitating life or is it the other way around? And, how much responsibility does a director/writer/artist have to take for how their work is perceived or responded to? – Userpays 1 year ago
                • A show so explicit yet mainstream is definitely worst discussing. It has become a cultural phenomenon and impacted various different industries. Maybe the discussion should not focus so much around whether it is a show that needs to be made, as this could just lead to speculations around the writer/producer's intentions. It might be more productive to consider what elements of the show are drawing young people in. The sound track, fashion and makeup looks have been particularly influential on Gen Z. What impact have the specific elements in the show had on Western culture? – Writingitseems 1 year ago

                Richard Linklater's Slacker today

                Analyse how Richard Linklater’s debut film Slacker reflects the attitudes of slacker culture (e.g. lack of motivation, the attitude of detachment, disregard for authority and traditional attitudes). Use that as the springboard for a larger discussion of how Gen-X slacker attitudes influenced independent filmmaking from the 90s (Clerks is a good example of a 90s slacker film) to the present day.

                • More details and context coulp be helpful. – Beatrix Kondo 5 months ago

                The Death of the Western

                With the rising discontent with the MCU as seen on many social networking apps and film and television critics, a revisiting of the last truly dominant Genre of Westerns which held control of the box office landscape never before seen and only really eclipsed by the current superhero/comic adaptation market.

                What in particular made the western so popular and what in specific lead to the box office death of the genre? What were the politics behind the genre, the economics, and actors both in a gamesmanship context and a performative context.

                • This is an awesome topic, and definitely very relevant in the current progression of entertainment demands today. One small suggestion I might recommend is providing some examples of current Westerns facing this trend to help jumpstart potential writers. Another angle that might be interesting to take could lie in the Western's influence outside of the box office too. The Mandalorian is just one example of a current and well loved show that has repurposed the Western for its own benefit beyond the big screen-also standing as a stark contrast to the ebb and flow of a traditional theater style Western. Has the role of the Western begun to change in society-now valued more heavily as an allusion rather than an outright genre of itself? – mmclaughlin102 5 months ago
                • If you were interested in considering literature as well as film, "Green Grass, Running Water" by Thomas King might offer some useful insight into a critique of Westerns in the context of colonialism and narratives of indigenous peoples in settler media. It may also suggest that though the Western is not as popular in mainstream media today as in the past, it remains a dominant, internalized cultural form. The tropes and ideas put forth by the genre haven't gone away, they've merely transformed over time. – clairegranum 5 months ago

                Do stereotypes limit roles for characters of color?

                Explore how common racial stereotypes have inhibited character archetypes for characters of color. For example, Asian women have been stereotyped as hypersexual in Western media, so many Asian writers have avoided this characterization for their Asian characters in order to defy stereotypes. However, this creates a stigma where Asian female characters are not allowed to be sexual without inadvertently fitting a Western stereotype. Is purposefully writing characters that don’t fit stereotypes really progressive, or is it simply another case of racists controlling the narratives that POC can write?

                More specific examples:
                -hyper-sexualization of Black characters
                – "comedic" de-sexualization of Asian male characters
                – Indigenous people as "shamans"

                • Stereotypes do limit the roles of characters, however, you don't need to center their stories on how Western media portrays them. Steer away from viewing them as objects and only catering to the male gaze. – shivzd00 5 months ago

                Movies and Media as the Source of AI Phobia

                While AI scientists and technology specialists are signalling AI’s ambiguous and unpredictable consequences, they constantly stress that we should not be anxious about AI. However, movies and media narratives sometimes promote AI phobia. The embedded messages of many films are how human flaws destroy civilizations through AI. But the collective focus of the audience may see AI as an entity causing massive anxiety and fear. We can discuss how AI is portrayed in films and media, especially now that AI tools like ChatGPT are causing interesting discussions worldwide.


                  Urban Fantasy vs Cosmic Horror

                  In the Urban Fantasy genre – Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, etc. – magic and magical creatures exist alongside humans, but humans don’t know about them.
                  The Cosmic Horror genre – i.e. H.P. Lovecraft – has a similar rule, except if humans see "past the veil," what they see is usually terrifying and even madness-inducing.
                  Meanwhile, in the Percy Jackson series, a demigod can see monsters just fine, but looking at a god or titan’s true divine form is hazardous to their health. This seems to be an overlap between Urban Fantasy and Cosmic Horror. Similarly, the existence of Squibs and Obscurials in Fantastic Beasts lore sometimes approaches Cosmic Horror territory.
                  Compare and contrast the two genres. What other overlap exists between them? Where do world-builders and storytellers make distinctions between the genres and why? Do interesting themes and lessons emerge when you consider Urban Fantasy from a Cosmic Horror perspective or vice versa?

                  • This topic could be more complete if you delved into the historical functions of both genres. Horror studies traditionally position the horror genre as a means of confronting taboo or unfamiliar things. Why is it that demigods in Percy Jackson are the only ones allowed to witness - regardless of the risk - beings that can cause insanity, whereas Lovecraft's works allow ordinary people to peek behind the veil? Could that be because fantasy-as-escapism invites an extra distance between the reader and the horrifying truths they're confronting? Try looking into some theorists or case studies examining the functions of cosmic horror and YA fantasy. – CharlieSimmons 5 months ago