Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Media in the future

What will media be in five years?
In five years, everyone will have, at the very least, the equivalent of the latest iPhone. Television will be interactive, and paper will be few and far between as a way of communicating. Everything will have a touch screen button, pre-recorded.

What will media be in fifteen years?
The future will allow us to fully interact with the virtual. All five senses will be able to participate in your media experience. We won't have to travel outside our homes as much, as we can do most everything we need over the internet. The world will be smaller than ever, as we can communicate easily with anyone, anywhere, faster than ever.

What will media be in fifty years?
The media will be a parallel reality for us. Media will no longer be a fantasy world. The most successful are the ones who know how to work technology the best, and those who can navigate the virtual world the quickest and most cleverly will have won. The media will be the source for everything, and it will all be virtual. Our relationships will have transformed into something else entirely, virtually.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Videodrome is an incredibly strange and almost disturbing surreal interpretation of how the media and television has an affect on its viewers. The plot follows Max Renn, the president of a Canadian television series, as he searches for programming to make his soft-porn station into something more extreme. The beginning of the movie touches on subjects of the media becoming too extreme.

While many said that station 83’s seedy content was destructive to the public, Max argued otherwise. He proposed that because viewers had his programming as an outlet, they would be less likely to act out elsewhere. Station 83, he reasoned, was doing society a favor, rather than the other way around. This case can be made still today regarding Hollywood’s compounding use of sex and violence in place of plots in new movies.

Max eventually discovers Videodrome. Thinking at first that Videodrome is just actors performing sadistic sexual acts, he soon learns that the show is actually real torture and murder. When he searches for more answers, he finds that watching Videodrome in fact gives its viewer a brain tumor, causing strange hallucinations.

The climax of the movie shows Max killing his partners at the Television Station because of the affect Videodrome’s programming had on him. When he tries to kill the daughter of Brain O’Blivion, the last person standing in the way of Videodrome’s success, she in turn reprograms Max. In the end, Max’s hallucinations cause him to kill himself.

Those who programmed him determined Max’s fate. He was at first drawn in by the bizarre and outrageous content of Videodrome, but then found that he was being drawn deeper and deeper into something else entirely without even realizing it. Similar to Max’s goals being determined by those who had programmed him, TV viewers today are subject to the same thing. Many viewers may not even realize the immense amount of hidden marketing and secret agenda’s being released into their mind when watching television or movies, telling them what to want and need.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Video Games as a Narrative: Super Mario Bros.

Though I have never been a strong supporter of video games, I think everyone can agree on one game that has consistently been great for the past 27 years: the Mario Bros series. Video games have become so popular because of the combination of player interaction and a good narrative. A spinoff of the game Donkey Kong, Mario Bros began as a simple yet unique plot. Mario and his brother Luigi are two Italian plumbers who must fight creatures within the sewers of New York City.

As technology advanced, so did the plot and popularity of the Mario Brothers. Super Mario Bros. was released in 1985 with an even more creative narrative. Though the brothers are still characterized as plumbers, their mission changed into rescuing Princess Peach from the clutches of the evil Bowser. Super Mario Bros., like a novel, is composed of various unique characters and subplots.

Video games are an amplification of a Choose Your Own Adventure book. The plot and its characters are already laid out, but how the player reaches the end of the story is completely customizable. Mario Bros. games have many different players to choose from, along with secret levels and various different mini-games and spin-offs. Mario Kart has less to do with the narrative of the original games, but allows the player to better relate to the game’s characters and setting. Players can choose their character, vehicle, and racetrack.

Many popular video games are based on an already popular narrative, such as a movie or a book. Mario Bros. did just the opposite. Super Mario Bros was released as a live action film in 1993. As a result of the film’s plot being so different from that of the video game, it was not well received. The atmosphere of the film was also darker, as opposed to the upbeat and fun tone of the game. However, Super Mario Bros. was nominated for two Saturn Awards and is regarded as a cult classic among fans. Despite the film’s failure, it is still evidence to the video game’s impression on pop culture.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Today’s youth is completely immersed in a new culture that was never available before- cyberculture. From videogames to social networking, our culture as a whole is being dragged deeper and deeper into a society that exists only on a computer screen.

The definition of an actual relationship is shifting. Social Networking was originally conceived as a way to keep track and communicate with peers. However, now the concepts have changed. Friends can actually meet and build their relationship completely over the Internet before even meeting face to face. Romances can bloom over without any physical activity.

Some argue the validity of this type of relationship, but nothing can possibly compare to conversing with a peer in person. Body language can never be fully conveyed over the Internet, even through the use of video chatting. Physical interaction is crucial when building a relationship, even if the relationship began virally.

From a marketing perspective, businesses and media play a heavy part in directing our society’s needs and wants. On one hand, a product may be made because the customer needs and wants it. Advertising then simply shows off the attributes of the product or service. On the other hand, the need or want for a product or service is sometimes created only after the conception of the product that is to be sold.

With the popularity of Social Networks such as Myspace or Facebook, companies have no choice but to use these as a means of advertising. Everything from gossip to an official event can be found on a Facebook page.

In a similar realm is the gaming world. A player can interact with other players in an imaginary world on the Internet or on a game console. They can make an avatar of themselves, which is just a projection of who they are or, more than not, who they want to be represented as.

Email allows us to send a message instantaneously with hardly any effort. With the advancement of “Smart Phones”, a video can be recorded, directly uploaded to the Internet, and shared with others around the world in less than a minute. We can communicate with anyone at anytime from anyplace. Our world is rapidly shrinking.

Oryx and Crake (Extended Essay)

Oryx and Crake was an amazing novel that combined post-apocalyptic themes with ideas similar to that of George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. The story begins with the main character, Snowman, or Jimmy, living after humans as we know them have been demolished. The only other “humans” are the new super humans, referred to as Crakers.

The story than flashes back and forth throughout Snowman’s life, slowly building up to what really happened to cause the catastrophe he seems to be living in alone, as well as his relation to Oryx and Crake.

Although only one story is being told, it is split into two or even three different events. The first is Snowman’s journey after the apocalypse, his way of living, and his journey to survival. Unlike most main characters within this theme, Snowman seems to have, for the most part, given up on survival just short of committing suicide. He doesn’t seem to have a very stable form of food or shelter, and only decides to venture back out into the dangerous world as a last resort.

The second story involves Snowman’s relationship to Crake and Oryx. We meet Crake first. Crake is a young brilliant mind, yet a little strange and mysterious. Snowman, or Jimmy, struggles with his own mediocrity throughout his entire life, while Crake continues to propel to excellence. Crake’s location after the apocalypse remains mysterious for most of the novel, as does Oryx’s.

Jimmy’s introduction to Oryx and how they came to be together is told very slowly and is withheld until almost the end of the story. The tension of his romantic feelings for her is not acted upon until almost the end of her life. Information about her life in general is given to the reader in bits and pieces throughout the novel, holding the reader’s attention hostage.

The third narrative involves the advancement of technology. Unlike 1984, the progression of technology and the government’s interference is not shown as such a hazard, but the negative effects are still apparent. Jimmy grows up in an isolated community for most of his life. Jimmy and Crake, as young boys, spend most of their time watching or playing games on the computer, but not being involved in actual activities. This may just be an example of their personalities and their hobbies, but it demonstrates the evolution of technology being used as a pasttime rather than advancing and improving society.

The danger of misusing technology is fully demonstrated as we see how it is being used via medicine and extending human life. Eventually, what is supposed to be helping humans ends up becoming a dangerous weapon. The steadily increasing pace of medicine and technology, in the end, destroys humans.

Oryx and Crake’s ending is left open. The reader never finds out what Snowman decides to do when finally finding other humans. However, the true ending of the story was the final realization of how civilization was destroyed, therefore, leaving the reader to decide what Snowman ultimately does increases the impact of the wonder and imaginative aspects of the story.

Asterios Polyp

Asterios Polyp was an incredibly interesting graphic novel that used illustration to convey different themes. The story begins after Asterios Polyp’s house burns down. Asterios travels until he finds a mechanic to work for and live with. The plot then constantly jumps back and forth in time, showing his childhood, his successful career as an architect, and his marriage. Periodically, Polyp’s thoughts and logic is illustrated, showing his reasoning for his disbelief in God, as well as his relation to Greek mythology.

Polyp’s character is extremely intelligent and logical, as well as extremely conceited. However, throughout his life he comes to terms with outside forces, especially his unborn twin brother that he feels is with him at all times. Despite his incredibly rational way of thinking, he cannot ignore the presence of his stillborn brother. The mechanic’s wife, whom he spends time with while staying at their house, is incredibly engaged in the spiritual world, completely contrasting Polyp’s point of view. However, Polyp realizes that her son also feels the presence of someone who is not their, which is recognized by his mother.

Another character contrasting Asterios is his wife Hana. This is illustrated through the use of shapes and color throughout the book. As Hana and Asterios grow closer, the shapes and colors that define their personality mesh together, and then separate as they do. Hana, who is also extremely intelligent, is a calm and loving sculptor. As their relationship progresses, Asterios becomes more arrogant towards her and her ideals. It is not until their marriage ends and Asterios is living with the mechanic and his wife that he becomes more humbled.

Asterios Polyp delves into human relationships and ideology, as well as artistic elements and artistic style as subject matter. The message would not have been as powerful if the story where conveyed simply through text. The narrative and visual aspects of the story blend together beautifully, creating quite an interesting story.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Female Body

Yves Klein created a performance piece in the sixties entitled "Anthropometries", or "Visual Measurements of the Human Body" in which he used the female body as the paintbrush.

In this piece, the female body is used simply as an object. The female body in this instance has no will other than the artist's. Some may say this type of objectification of the female is negative, but I see it as the male appreciating the female form and wanting to collaborate with it. It is the male mind in correlation with the female body. If the artist was a female rather than a male, the perspective may have been different, but the idea of using the body as the medium would have been the same.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Director notes for "Magnolia"

Most of the characters in Magnolia are simultaneously realizing how despicable their lives have become, and attempt to make some emends. The script holds a lot of tragedy, betrayal, but also family. I see most of the roles of the characters being filled by completely normal looking actors. None of the characters are more important than the other, as this film is also a portrayal of life in general. Magnolia’s cast may almost be considered a random selection of people, whose lives are only slightly connected. Everyone just happen to be going through turmoil at the same time.
The song towards the end of the film, “Wise up”, in which all the characters sing a line of, will be played throughout the film. Usually just the instrumental version will be played. The song will come on during any moment in which a character begins to understand the reality of what their life has become.
A thin, small boy would play Stanley, the child genius. The film set and props for the game show would need to be extravagant and dazzling. The colors will begin as bright and exciting at the beginning of the film, but slowly transition to dull, muddy colors in order to show monotony. Even the audience’s faces will appear to be almost gray and disappearing at the end of the film.
Likewise, most scenes in the movie will have a dull hue to them. The colors will have become their darkest during the scene in which they all sing a line in the song.
Frank Mackey is good looking, but in a sinister, slimy way. He will spend most of the movie with a sly grin on his face. The scene when Frank eventually is reunited with his father, however, his expressions start to change. His whole demeanor will change. He will become more humble, more afraid, and more honest.
Characters such as Linda and Claudia remain beautiful yet disheveled throughout. They are both beautiful but become more and more self-destructive. Characters such as Jim and Donnie look as though they had looked better at a different point in their lives when they had more energy.
The final scene concerning the raining frogs is the most important. Here, the atmosphere changes completely as the characters for a moment pause from their dying lives to be apart of this oddity. After the initial frogs fall from the sky, any shots outside are from the point of view from the ground, looking towards the sky. The frogs are vibrant and clash against the dull colors of the city. Everything remains silent until “Bein’ Green” starts playing. The song plays over the silent chaos caused by the raining frogs.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Auteurship: Robert Altman

For my essay responding to auteurship, I choose to review the American director Robert Altman. I chose three of his films from completely different stages in his career. I at first thought that doing this would prohibit a more accurate analysis of his style as a director, as each film was done for such different reasons at such different times. However, I feel that this kind of challenge allows me to delve deeper into the core of Robert Altman as an Auteur.
One continuing theme that I have noticed in Robert Altman’s films is his use of fight scenes.
The first film I watched was The Delinquents. The Delinquents was made to show the effects of juvenile misbehavior in the fifties. The film was bought by the government and released in 1957. The story follows Scotty, a nice kid in his senior year of high school. In a desperate attempt to continue seeing his girlfriend, Scotty find himself traveling down paths he normally wouldn’t. In The Delinquents, Scotty finds himself in a few unwanted fights in order to defend himself. Even though Scotty gets himself, as well as his girlfriend, mixed into some trouble with a youth street gang, he is still remains more of a pure character. Since this film was made a type of public announcement service, I believe any type of auteurship might not be as well shown in this type of film.
The second film I reviewed was California Split, which came out in 1974. The two protagonists, Bill and Charlie are addicted to gambling. Despite this character flaw, they are still likeable characters. Bill and Charlie attempt to be good friends to each other until the end, in which one of them decides they don’t want gambling anymore. The two also find themselves in many unwanted fights in an attempt to defend themselves from other angry gamblers. Nevertheless, unlike Scotty and his girlfriend in The Delinquents, Charlie and Bill have a looser moral code.
Popeye was the last film I watched. It’s the story of the sailor Popeye stopping in a small town looking for his long lost father, while in the process falls in love with Olive Oyl and finds his son Sweet Pea. Released in 1980, Popeye would be more closely associated with The Delinquents. Both films have more of a black-and-white type of moral to them. However, Popeye has many heavily choreographed fights, each one becoming more intense until the final battle. Out of the three films I reviewed, Popeye was the most stylized.
Overall, I only felt a small amount of auteurship from the three of Robert Altman’s films I watched. Though all movies were excellent, they didn’t connect together as I have seen in other directors.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Response to "Lolita"

The novel “Lolita” has been known to be one of the most controversial. It follows the story of an unconventional relationship between a grown man, Humbert Humbert, and a 12-year-old girl, Dolores, better know as Lolita. Despite most readers’ initial reaction of disgust and disapproval, “Lolita” has become a best seller. It has also been turned into a movie, twice. So what exactly is so compelling about such a seemingly horrible situation?
Reading Lolita throws the reader into a moral battle. First of all, the main character of the book writes the story of Lolita from jail. He presents the book, not necessarily to purely document their relationship, but more so to defend himself to a “jury”. Therefore, the reader must take into consideration how much of his story has been adjusted in his favor. Did Dolores really seduce Humbert Humbert first?
However, looking past Dolores’ age and simply examining Humbert Humbert’s love for her still raises questions of morality. Throughout the book, despite times when he expresses anger or disappointment towards Lolita, he still writes of his unwavering love for her.
At one point in his writing, he write Lolita’s name ten times in a row and then writes: “Repeat till the page is full, printer.” He also writes poetry about Lolita;

“Wanted, wanted: Dolores Haze.
Hair: brown. Lips: scarlet.
Age: five thousand three hundred days.
Profession: none, or ‘starlet’.”

This, paralleled with the author’s incredibly romantic style of writing, would make this one of the greatest love stories. However, in love or not, readers cannot look past his forcefulness with Lolita. At one point she is drugged by Humbert Humbert. Several times throughout the book, Dolores exclaims that she would turn Humbert over to the police if she doesn’t get her way. This is a normal way for a young girl to react, especially one in Dolores’ situation. When Humbert doesn’t get his way, however, he tells Dolores that she will be sent away because he is all that she has.
Whether Dolores really loves him back or not, she had no choice and nowhere else to go. If this novel was written from Lolita’s point of view, I think it would have had a different tone throughout. Where Humbert wants to suggest he simply was being punished for being too in love with too young a girl, Lolita’s story might be the opposite. She was a young curious girl when she met Humbert Humbert. To her, sex was just something fun to do. And though she may have thought at some point that she really loved Humbert Humbert, she was really to young to have known. The fact that Humbert Humbert was technically her father figure along as her lover could not have allowed her to be anything but incredibly confused and misguided.
In conclusion, I believe “Lolita” has become such an iconic novel because of our nature as humans to be drawn to things we have labeled unorthodox. “Lolita” is an unfiltered peek into the mind of someone that we would not normally get to experience.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lit and Media...

Some assignments for my Lit and Media class:

a conversation about media:

a modern day fairy tale:

Cassie was staring at her ceiling trying her best to fall asleep. She was only 14, but still felt like she was old enough to stay out in the city late by herself. Her parents disagreed, however, and so here she was, stuck in her room, at nine at night. The soft ticking of her clock was the only sound until she heard the gentle vibration of her phone, followed by the glowing of it's screen. She rolled over and checked to see who would be contacting her at this hour. It was a text message from a strange number: 1-000-000-0000. The message read: "Cassie, look out your window."

Curious enough, and not in the mood for sleep, Cassie sat up and opened her blinds. Normally, she would have seen the slow moving night traffic seven floors below. This time, however, outside of her window was nothing but a long stretch of grassy fields. Without questioning anything, Cassie put her cell phone into her bag, but her bag over her shoulder, and opened her window wide enough to crawl out of.

As soon as she tumbled out of the window and onto the soft grass, she realized it was daylight. She looked back at her window. It was just floating there. Cassie walked around behind it, and nothing was there.

Wondering what to do now, she reached into her bag to check her phone again. Another text message from the mysterious number appeared: "Find the manhole, enter the sewer."

Not really wanting to leave the lovely field, but seeing nothing else much left to do, she proceeded to wander around searching the ground for a manhole. One finally appeared a few yards to the left of her floating window.

Lifting the cover, Cassie slipped down and grasped the musty ladder. Minutes felt like hours as she climbed deeper into darkness and away from the light, until a small butterfly fluttered around her ear and whispered to her, “why not just take the escalator?”

As she turned her head to question the butterfly, she saw there was the top of an escalator directly behind her. She carefully stepped over onto the escalator as the tiny butterfly fluttered away.

“This is much more convenient” Cassie thought to herself.

The escalator suddenly started changing. The stairs became gold and the railings sprouted gems. The tunnel Cassie had been traveling through was rapidly turning into a deep maroon silk. She was so entranced by what was going on around her she fell to her knees as the escalator ended.

Picking herself back up, Cassie looked down a great hall with elegant eggplant carpeting and a high ceiling. A fantastic large diamond chandelier hung above her head. On the walls hung impressive frames of all shapes and sizes, but with no pictures inside. Finally, at the very end of the hall in a majestic throne sat a tall woman in a shimmering evening gown and a large ruby crown. She was slouched down with her legs thrown over the side of her chair, and she was staring into her phone typing madly with her thumbs.

Cassie took a deep breath and walked toward the end of the hallway. The women didn’t look up until Cassie stood right before her. Her piercing green eyes finally looked up from her phone and into Cassie’s.

“I thought you would never arrive!” The tall women said.

“Was it you who sent me these text messages?”

“Indeed! I need that key around your neck.”

Cassie began to protest as she felt around her neck, only to find that there was, in fact, a thick plastic black key with white gems inlaid into it. She took it off and handed it to the women. The women stood up, took the key, and walked around to the back of her throne.

She dragged a large rectangular metal box out from behind it, and then knelt down. Taking the key in her left hand, and steadying herself with her right, the tall woman lightly swiped the key in front of the lock. With a soft clicking noise, the box popped open. The tall women excitedly pushed open the lid of the box and took out a long golden staff with pink gems encrusted in the head.

“I ordered it a few days ago. It came sooner than expected. Thank you for coming on such short notice.”

Cassie told her it was not a problem as she was handed her necklace back.

“You can get back pretty easily through the window over here.” The tall women pointed to the left of her throne at two large eggplant curtains that seemed to sprout directly out of the carpet. Cassie walked over and pushed them aside. She looked into the window and saw her bedroom. She turned to wave to the tall women, but she was busy admiring her new staff, as well as typing madly on her phone again.

Cassie opened the window, crawled through, and almost drifted to sleep immediately as she fell into bed.

Cassie awoke the next morning and almost forgot completely of the magnificent dream she had had the night before. Lying there and thinking about how real it felt, she touched her neck and realized she was wearing a thick black key.

Monday, August 30, 2010