Topics

Title

Filter Topics by Category

2

The New Frontier of Creativity: What

As social distancing measures have left us stuck in our homes, those that create and share art on YouTube, Instagram or other platforms have never had more time to add more user generated content to the never-ending mix of digital media. Plus, consumers this content have never had more time to scroll through these self-proclaimed artists’ creations. Now more than ever, with more and more people turning to the Internet both to produce and consume art, it is worth figuring out how to interpret, sort, and evaluate this type of art.

I’m not going to suggest that all Instagram or YouTube content should be considered “high” art. One of the trade-offs of total accessibility is that, while it allows anyone with Internet access can create and upload material that they believe is artistic, it is difficult to sort out the good from the bad, and the best from the good. After all, it’s not as though having a broadband connection is a viable substitute for having talent, something meaningful to say, and an original way to say it. For example, a video of someone showing off their dance moves on TikTok can be entertaining, but does it pose a topical question, provoke discussion, or relate to greater issues of society, truth, or beauty? Probably not. But where do we draw the line? When has “art” been achieved?

I believe the entire persona of “Poppy,” as she appears in YouTube videos, albums, and on stage, offers up avant-garde aesthetics and difficult-to-interpret cultural commentary. The videos she posts on her YouTube channel (made in collaboration with director Titanic Sinclair) are, to say the least, difficult to react to. In her debut video, “Poppy Eats Cotton Candy” (2014), she – as you might expect – wordlessly eats cotton candy; and in another, she says the words “I’m Poppy” for ten minutes, in a series of takes to camera. These videos may be perplexing, but they are oddly fascinating: they resist easy interpretation because, unlike most of the content uploaded by YouTube “personalities,” they seem to be more provocative than entertaining. Her work has the same theoretical value as “gallery art” – it contains layers of meaning, aesthetic appeal, and can be unpacked and analyzed to the same degree as any “high art.”

But should it be? Or should there be NEW set of critical practices/criteria that are reserved only for digital media?

    2

    The Genius of Everyday Embarrasments in Emma (2020)

    Analyze the use of unique everyday elements in Emma (2020). The director added unique aspects by adding "butt-warming" by the fire, being dressed by servants, and nosebleeds and inoportune times. These little moments are unique for an Austen film and are a great way to update the story.

    • I think that they add a more human feel to the film. Period pieces sometimes feel a little bit distant, because of the mannerisms that we don't identify with and the elements we have to work harder to understand. This new adaptation of Emma helped the audience see through the perfect facade that period pieces often portray, with the little things that normally go behind the scenes. – aclmohle 2 weeks ago
      1
    1

    2020: Death knell for the "family comedy"?

    The "family comedy" has always been a fixture on American TV: The Jeffersons, Family Matters, Family Ties, All in the Family, Roseanne, Fuller House, Home Improvement to name a few, have been hugely popular and critically acclaimed. However, the family oriented sitcom went into a decline when shows like Seinfeld, Friends and That 70s Show premiered, signalling in a new trend of sitcoms centering around a group of friends, or unrelated people bonding, hanging out and experiencing things together.

    But then, 2009 was seen as the year the "family sitcom" was revived, with Modern Family and The Middle premiering on ABC. However, with The Middle ending its run in 2018 and Modern Family and Schitt’s creek, a Canadian sitcom that came close enough to be considered a "family show" airing their final episodes in April this year, are family oriented sitcoms no longer in vogue? Is this indicative of an already individualistic society moving further into a greater degree of individualism? Or is it just an overreaction? Are we not looking around enough? Maybe there is such a show that’s not getting the attention it deserves.

    Also, is it the same in other countries, especially the eastern countries, where societies are known to be extremely collectivistic? Do the shows airing there still have "family" as an inherent theme?

      2

      How long was Phil Connors Trapped in the Time Loop? (Groundhog's Day)

      In the 1993 film Groundhog’s Day, Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors became trapped in an ever-repeating time loop, reliving the same events of a single day in a small Pennsylvanian town. But how long was Phil actually trapped? How many days, months, and years transpired as he became a villain, suicidal, and ultimately the (problematic) hero and broke free?

      Does waking up next to Rita the next morning completely void their relationship because of his intimate knowledge of her due to his repetitive cycle of cheating his way into her heart? Oh, yeah, and let’s talk about why.

      • I feel that the writer should focus on the psychological aspects and the camus-ian aspects of this film. The spiritual undertones of this film would also be interesting to explore. – Lukasalive 3 weeks ago
        1
      2

      Diversity for Diversity’s Sake?

      In this age of “-isms” (feminism, racism, ableism, ageism, etc.) there are many critiques—and rightly so. However, while we may see more diversity, are our media (TV, movies, books, games, etc.) actually more diverse in their appreciation of these groups? For example, does merely fulfilling the Bechdel test actually make a movie feminist? Or, does having non-white actors in minor roles, or acting “White,” add racial diversity? Is the miraculous ability to heal disabled characters truly inclusive? These are only a few questions that you could touch upon. There are a lot of different facets of this argument, but I am curious about what diversity means, and when media can be considered “successfully diverse”? I’ve tagged this as "film," but it is widely applicable across media.

      • I think this topic would need to focus more on the production of these works and the works' underlying messages. I think something that can be a good point of inspiration is Jay Z's "Moonlight" music video. In the video, a guy is filming an all-black cast remake of the TV show "Friends." When he asks his friend what he thinks, his friend thinks it's terrible despite the guy's assumptions that an all-black cast would subvert expectations and ideologies. I think it'd be important to find some notable examples throughout decades of what would be considered diverse and not diverse. In Terminator 2, what makes Sarah Conner an icon of feminism for some? Is it because she's shown to be tough as nails while also being a protective mother? Does Charles Xavier having superpowers diminish his status as a symbol for perseverance in a society that would often look down or pity a paraplegic? Just some examples, but that's how I feel the argument should be narrowed down to. To tackle one -ism instead of all of them. – Daniel Ibarra 2 weeks ago
        0
      2

      The importance of multiple perspectives in literature

      Analyse how books with multiple character point-of-view enhances the reading experience. What are the benefits of having both female and male main characters? In what ways does having four different points of view aide the story’s plot? As with real life, there is never one side to a story, there’s plenty. How does this relate to real life situations?

      • I think this would be an interesting topic since it is not just multiple POVs that enhance the experience, when done properly, it is the realisation that each character will have their own view on events that have passed. The unreliable narrator trope can be more concisely illustrated when other perspectives are shown, letting the audience know the biases of certain characters more. It allows the world in which the story is taking place feel much more like reality since a person's perspective is never actually subjective. When one character tells a story from their perspective, so much of that story is influenced by their own biases. By allowing multiple POVs this can be more obviously pointed out so that novel feels more accurate to real life. – NayanaK 7 days ago
        0
      3

      The Political Impact of Science Fiction Films

      From Star Wars and Star Trek to movies like Dune, there has always been either establishment affirming or anti-establishment views within these films. It would be interesting to compare and contrast science fiction films throughout the ages and how they take a look at the societies we grew up in within a detached viewpoint and how it has affected our own view on politics and ourselves.

      • Another film to look at would be Blade Runner. There are issues about free will, power and slavery. It is also interesting because Deckard is part of the political machine, enforcing the status-quo about how Replicants should be act and what the consequences are. – Sean Gadus 3 weeks ago
        1
      • I know, although a web search would be needed, that both actors and directors have talked about political issues they could address in science fiction movies, that were acceptable to be addressed, but they could not do, or were reluctant to address in a movie about life on earth. – Joseph Cernik 2 weeks ago
        0
      3

      Asian Americans in Films of the 1930s, '40s and '50s

      I propose an article examining Hollywood’s depiction of Asian American characters in the early years of American film. Such portrayals have long been a subject of controversy because they have frequently dealt with stereotypes rather than authentic representations of Asian culture.

      • Just watched Josef von Sternberg's Shanghai Express (1932); worth looking into regarding this subject. I never caught anything overtly racist but there are definitely moments that one might consider insensitive today. The culture and "political correctness" of the time period is always something to keep in mind. – dbotros 3 weeks ago
        0
      • Good topic, but I think there's an important distinction that must be made between "Asian Americans in films" and "representations of Asian Americans in films." The former would ideally refer to the ethnicity and/or cultural heritage of the actors who appear in the films (regardless of what type of character they are portraying), whereas the latter refers to the ways in which characters of that ethnic/cultural background are presented (regardless of the identity of the actor portraying that role). While these often go hand-in-hand, particularly in the former case, it is often the instances in which they do not coincide when controversies are more likely to arise. Surely there's a difference between someone like Anna May Wong needing to conform herself to Americans audiences' preconceived notions and stereotypes about Asian culture in order to ensure steady employment for herself, versus something like Mickey Rooney infamously donning yellowface to play Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Just some food for thought. – ProtoCanon 3 weeks ago
        1
      4

      The Influence and Evolution of the B-level Horror Flick

      Although B-movies have been around since the early years of cinema, they’ve taken on different connotations with audiences over the decades, even becoming their own respected genre. One might argue that Val Lewton, a writer-producer who worked in the 1940s-50s, is the tipping point in low budget horror. Films like Cat People (1942) and its sequel The Curse of the Cat People (1944) took financial restrictions and turned them into an advantage. Their use of sound is particularly effective in creating a psychologically disturbing atmosphere. Instead of the make-up and costume blockbusters that profited Universal (Dracula, Frankenstein, and their respective franchises), Lewton and director Jacques Tourner reinvented the genre. Use Lewton’s work as the fulcrum to describe how B-horror came to be a modern-day cult favourite.

        2

        How video games may have influenced the way movies are made, and vice-versa?

        After watching Sam Mendes’ movie 1917, I heard someone saying that the movie reminded him of a video game. I don’t know if he was referring to the story itself, to the way the movie was shot, or to both, but it had me thinking. To what extent video games may have influenced the way movies are shot and stories built? (In the case of 1917, or in general.) And, vice-versa, some video games like The Last Of Us or Red Dead Redemption 2 can almost be watched like movies. So, to what extent movies have influenced the way video games are designed and built?

        • God of War 2018 did something similar and even boasted about being "1 continuous shot" for the entire game, so some game makers are thinking about some of the same ideas as film makers. – Sean Gadus 3 weeks ago
          2
        • I think this is a great topic and also a topic of much discussion in cinema and video game studies. The film Run Lola Run can also be a good source to start thinking about around this theme. – Srijita 1 week ago
          1
        • I think Spielberg's Ready Player One is a good movie for reference. Video game is the theme of this movie and the film is structured according to a game's mode. – XiaoYang 4 days ago
          1
        3

        The Usage (or Lack Therof) of Page Layouts in Calvin and Hobbes

        Calvin and Hobbes is a widely well regarded comic that is liked by the young and old alike. While the comic has much to say about art and philosophy, it can also be noted for it’s deliberate usage or occasional abandonment of a standard layout of it’s panels. While a good deal of the strips adhere to a more rigid and standard layout and let their content shine through, as the comic went on Watterson began to explore more novel layouts, allowing the interweaving of Calvin’s fantastic imagination his mundane world together in new and compelling ways, or creating strips that exist in a much more dynamic fashion with very few actual panels at all.

        An article could discuss how these panels and strips make use of both the traditional and the irregular to better serve the comic’s storytelling and narrative capabilities.

          2

          When Do Video Games Become Art

          Video games have increasingly become just as much of an art form as television and film and yet it is still stigmatized as unworthy of being considered art. Despite this many games have been able to take claim as being works of art. Discuss what differentiates the games that are considered art with those that are not and critique whether it’s fair for only some of the medium to be considered art.

          • Regarding your last sentence, I think it's worth acknowledging that there are two distinct ways in which something can be designated "a work of art": 1) in the classificatory sense (i.e. that is an example of an artwork because it's a painting), vs. 2) in the evaluative sense (i.e. this particular painting is truly a work of art, because it's so good!). When SOME video games are deemed to be works of art while others are not, it is clearly in the evaluative sense, but it sounds to me like the main question that you're asking here is "are video games (in general, as a medium) art in the classificatory sense?" Reading George Dickie and/or Arthur Danto might be helpful here. Best of luck to whoever tackles this topic! – ProtoCanon 3 weeks ago
            2
          3

          Sonic the Hedgehog/Bird of Prey: The Entitlement of Film Audiences

          This February a slew of both bad and good movies came out. However, two of them have been talked the most and those films being Sonic the Hedgehog and Bird of Prey.

          What should have been a feminist success turned out to a downright misogynistic disaster at the box office. While the other that gain a truckload of backlash for the C.G.I abomination that supposed to represent the beloved Sega video game character Sonic, turned out to be a box office success, beating Detective Pikachu as the newest adorable, expressive C.G.I character to date.

          These two films are where they are now because one decided to listen to the fans, while the other kicked them to the curb, thinking their message was far more important than actually adapting the source material.

          At the end of the day, one wonders should fans have a say in terms of the creative process in films when it comes to adapting a popular product or should fans leave it to the paid artists to take liberties with it?

          • I like this idea a lot! I didn't realize Sonic had been so successful at the box office. I saw Birds of Prey and I actually really liked it. I'll admit I'm not a huge comic book fan myself so I don't know everything about what they got right or wrong in that particular film, but I personally really enjoy Margot Robbie as Harley which is why I went to see it. I feel like the marketing of both films, especially Birds of Prey, could have been a lot stronger. This story is along the same lines as the female Ghostbusters-reboot. I can't help but lean towards a feminist argument here. It seems like perhaps Sonic performed better in theaters because it was not a female-focused film. Comic book fans seem to have trouble with female narratives, which is alarming. I'd love to see this story tackled with that in mind. I'd also be interested to hear about what things fans would have changed in Birds of Prey. Is there anything that could have been done there to make people come out to see the film? Or is a story driven by a female cast doomed to always fail in a presumably male fan's opinion? – StephanieKocer 3 weeks ago
            0
          • @StephanieKocer, Thanks for the note! I don't mean to promote myself But to answer your question about female films and failure check out an article I wrote months back called the paradox of the strong female character – Amelia Arrows 3 weeks ago
            0
          6

          What is the place of psychological horror and thriller in a world gone 'mad'?

          Depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental and emotional malaises are more rampant than ever. The stresses of everyday life and the constant feed of nearly apocalyptic news reaching us on a daily basis surely have something to do with our collective plight.

          How well do psychological horrors, like Psycho (1960), The Shining (1980), Jacob’s Ladder (1990); and psychological thrillers, such as The Machinist (2004); capture our current state of dis-ease?

          • Great idea. You could easily turn this one into a book, breaking the movies down by decade. You could also focus this idea into two articles: pre 9/11 and post. The major aspect is to research the experts of each era. Hitchcock, for example, is certainly guided by outdated notions concerning psychology, whereas Brad Anderson is attempting to be more informed with contemporary theories. – Michael J. Berntsen 10 months ago
            2
          • I second that. I'm intrigued about the respect aspect, too. That is, are these stories respectful to real people with mental illnesses? For instance, I don't watch Rain Man or many, if any films whose main characters have disabilities because they all seem to be saintly, severely affected, childlike, etc. That doesn't represent me and I don't think it respects me and other members of my minority group who are not that way. I wonder if people with mental illnesses feel the same way when they watch these films, or yet another film where the villain's primary raison d'etre is tied to psychological or psychiatric illness. – Stephanie M. 9 months ago
            0
          • Claims of mental illness being more "rampant than ever" would require some rigorous data research to back those up, but this is an interesting topic for sure. I wonder if this could be slightly re-framed. Instead of looking back at old films that have been rigorously analyzed for their symptomatic representations of political landscapes at the times of release, it would be interesting to try and explore films of THIS decade to try and determine a common trend in mental illness representation, and how these representations are in reaction to current events. JOKER is an obvious one, and would be an interesting centerpiece since it's just released now, and two months before the decade ends. A sort of retrospective look at this decade's cinematic view of mental illness could be very interesting and illuminating, especially with Trump's presidency taking place halfway through it. A comparative analysis between pre- and post-Trump administration films maybe. – calebwhutch 8 months ago
            1
          3

          Machiavelli on Republic states and Hereditary Lineage

          Machiavelli spent much of the second half of his life concerned with regaining a governmental position in Italy following their political coup. For a statesman, ironically, Machiavelli was a quiet and shadowy individual, though his opinions on political rule are strong and controversial. He believed that a prince must always present himself as perfect and that all countries out to have a constant cavalry in order to have a fortress of sorts(though he disapproved of most stone fortresses). This made sense in his time due to the roaming barbarians that would eventually take over his country. Machiavelli believed no man can hold power without a knowledge of tactics and to trust no one. Such a Prince has only few advisers and admirers are brushed off, otherwise the Prince will lose respect, a ruler he says must be simultaneously generous, holding festivals, and mean or brusque, occasionally cruel without reason. Do you agree with his philosophy? Do you find it hypocritical?

            3

            Morality and Adaptation

            When adapting old stories that included prejudice or other unfair products of its time, to what extent should the adaptation be altered? Should the adaptation include the biases of the original (even if they are critiqued or showed to be flawed), or is it better to remove the biases altogether? On one hand, including the biases may be seen as a confirmation of them. However, it may also be seen as a way to renounce the flaws of the past while still valuing important stories. Avoiding the biases altogether may imply that the biases were not important, but it may also be viewed as a way of ‘updating’ an outdated story. Does the decision to include (or exclude) biases change depending on the original story’s context (e.g. how well known it is today, how old it is, etc.)?

            • Super interesting topic!I think, perhaps unhelpfully, it ends up being a creative choice that ultimately depends on the adapted work and the intentions of the adaptation.Naturally, any adaptation process will involve changes. Some "flaws," as you say, can be "updated" without changing the original context. For example, the language may be updated (though I also acknowledge certain vernacular may be characteristic or plot-driven). The way we are first told a story shapes our impression of it, and an adaptation that changes too much (even if for moral reasons) can be severely disappointing.Moreover, the idea of morality often spirals into issues of censorship—which is another fraught topic because it demands who has the right to decide what can (or cannot) be censored? Furthermore, while I am in favour of honouring the original work and its creator's intentions, I believe that ultimately every adaptation must diverge from the original and become its own iteration. Each adaptation, after all, is an interpretation of the original work. Within this context, "updating" ensures that the work is relatable and may enable it to reach a wider audience.However, I waffle again, with the contention that every work is in and of itself a cultural artifact, and changing them simply for the sake of "updating" risks devaluing cultural values and mores that original creators may have wanted to preserve or speak to.In conclusion, I am obviously torn, but this topic is really thought-provoking and relevant given the number of adaptations that are coming out. Hopefully, I've given some more ideas to consider—happy writing! – carmenxbd 4 weeks ago
              0
            • An interesting idea for an essay. I am of the mind that any adaptation of an old story is a reflection of the time in which the adaptation is produced rather than the one in which the original material is situated. So, in that sense, it is reasonable to take liberties to update or revise material as necessary to make it relatable and accessible to modern audiences of the day. – John Wilson 3 weeks ago
              0
            1

            The Heroes Journey: A self isolating adventure

            We are living in difficult times, and many of us are dealing with the five stages of grief. The initial excitement of change, the political reassurances, the cancellations, and finally what could mean an 18 month quarantine. No matter your living situation you are allowed to grieve. And should this continue, we all need to learn how to be alone. Museum and library connections are available online, universities are offering free classes, gardening and cooking all the things you never had time for are here. If you’re anything like me, this quarantine is a blessing and a curse, for as much as I miss my friends, my mental illness was severely effecting my stress levels back home- not one to quit I refused to give up, so to me it feels like the universe sent me home. I’m doing better than ever and graduate next week, what are your quarantine journeys?

            • I will definitely revise this to include a broader and not so personal narrative guide to handling isolation – chloedubisch 4 weeks ago
              0
            • This is a great topic, but I would agree to make it a little less personal and more broad Perhaps navigating the quarantine: drawbacks and strengths? Or you could focus on resources or activities that are blossoming during quarantine. – birdienumnum17 4 weeks ago
              0
            • I personally like the idea of making it a personal topic. I would used the sentence, "No matter your living situation you are allowed to grieve" as the title and create a series of stories around it. – amberflynn93 3 weeks ago
              0
            2

            The Exotic Food in Shokugeki no Soma

            In the Shokugeki no Soma anime, we can see a diversity of delicious dishes from around the world with exotic ingredients, in one chapter they prepared "Causa Limeña" a famous Peruvian dish prepared with potatoes and seafood. Do you think this anime encourages you to cook and learn about international cuisine?

              10

              The Female Gaze

              Discussions around the male gaze (in art and elsewhere) are present within the Western socio-political, cultural and artistic milieu since a very long time. What about the female gaze – something which is becoming more and more powerful and evident in the 21st century? I would like to leave this topic relatively open so that writers can choose their own angle from which to hadnle it. I would be interested to see whether people examine this issue from a certain political stance, from a gender studies’ perspective or from a more traditional pathway of looking into painting and photography, for example. I believe there is a lot to be said regarding the representation of women nowadays – in art, in films, on TV, in literature…the female figure is becoming more independent, having agency over her own body and her own gaze. What changes (if any) does this bring into the mechanisms of production, and consequently consumption, in pop culture?

              • Love this topic! I think there's a lot of room for different analyses and perspectives depending on the angle, like you say, and media type. Looking at different waves of feminism could also be cool if you wanted to understand how we arrived at the 21st-century female gaze. – carmenxbd 4 weeks ago
                0
              • Such a great idea! In my college film classes, we discussed the male gaze frequently, but the female gaze was not brought up. I think that in an increasingly feminist society that this topic definitely has relevance. I would be interested in discussing it from a cinematic perspective and how the female gaze does or does not objectify a male character in the way that male creators objectify their female characters, even from a camera lens. – lstraub 3 weeks ago
                0
              • I think a relevant movie here would be Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, since it was a film that was purely framed through the female gaze. It showed love and affection and women supporting women without objectification or misogynistic undertones. By allowing the women in this film to simply Exist, without the necessity that they be consumed by a man, it is incredibly unpopular with many people. However, it very poetically manages to capture the unique experience of the love between women - both romantic and platonic. In the way the romance between the women progressed, the ways in which they fall in love with each other and the ways in which every shot is framed, is completely unaffected by the usually ever-present male gaze. All I'm really saying is that I think there would be a lot to say about how this film captures the female gaze exceptionally well. – NayanaK 7 days ago
                0
              3

              The figure of the Devil in TV shows

              Popular culture, and TV shows, in particular, are prone to use and revisit mythical figures, religious allegories, and biblical references, and, among, them, the Devil. Whether he is called Lucifer or Satan, the one who rebelled against God and have incarnated evil ever since seems to be an everlasting source of inspiration for screenwriters, creators, and showrunners. However, in recent shows like Supernatural, and, even more, in Lucifer, the Devil is – to a degree at least, especially in Supernatural where he is and stays an antagonist – humanized. His so-called evilness is – once again, to a degree – nuanced, and there is more to his psychology than evil for evil’s sake. It is especially flagrant in Lucifer, as Lucifer is the main character. He is a hero with flaws and qualities, a hero confronted to very human dilemmas, to fear, to loss, to love, a hero we are rooting for.
              How Devil-like characters have been written and treated? As it evolved? Can we discern a tendency, in recent TV shows, to develop, or even humanize, the Devil? How is it done? How could such a tendency be related to the evolution of the “Good vs Evil” trope? And, potentially, what are the exceptions to the recent transformations – or lack of transformation, if we can’t discern a real tendency – and how can we explain them?

              • Great topic. Other shows to consider covering: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina; Reaper; 666 Park Avenue; Good Omens. – Emily Deibler 1 month ago
                1
              • Definitely an interesting topic for discussion! However, it bears pointing out that the idea of the Devil not being pure evil isn't new. It actually goes back to John Milton's Paradise Lost, which was written in the 1600's. – Debs 1 month ago
                2
              • Very good topic! I would suggest, if you can, looking into South Park's Satan, who is very much confronted with the human dilemma of love and sexuality. Some films that I would suggest would be the Ghost Rider films and The Devil's Advocate. I believe that there is a Paradise Lost reference in Advocate. – tolkienfan 4 weeks ago
                1