Unexpected changes to…everything?

Hey guys,

University work has caught up with me, so planning/writing a full post at the moment is a bit tough. After my last deadline (another week and a half or so), I’ll be posting something up.

For now, I’ve been fairly active on Twitter. You know, annoying friends and creeping out celebrities.

Sorry for the lack of posting!

 


Back from the foxhole and onto posting! And Comic Con pictures

Hey guys,

Sorry I dropped off the face of the internet-sphere but real life had caught up with me! Next week I’ll be back to regular posting.

In the meantime, I got some comic-con pictures though I never actually managed to enter…The lines were way too long.

 

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Accurate Story Titles: The case with Disney’s Princesses Part 4

I’m delaying this last installment like a student who needs to clean her room.

Some things never change

Some things never change, in case you’re wondering.

Now where’s my saxophone books? I need to butcher Ode to Joy.

So, Pocahontas and Rapunzel eh?

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Okay, I’m going to wrap up the usual stuff with how media thinks.

Princesses seeking independence and freedom in some form = forbidden romance (in some form or another) + historical inaccuracies to pretty things up.

First of all, Pocahontas:

A perfect example showing history is not written by the conquerors, but by the romance writers

A perfect example showing history is not written by the conquerors, but by the romance writers

The true account of Pocahontas is obviously much different and I’ll leave my readers to go to the wiki-mobile to get some idea.

So we got this free spirited princess who falls in love with a stranger. It’d be easy to say that John Smith was Pocahontas’s ‘bad boy’ romance but really, you don’t get that feeling (despite who the voice actor is). In all honesty, Pocahontas might be considered the ‘least’ worst Disney princess out of the lot. However, her nativity bugs the hell out of me.

Yes, love conquers all but we’re talking war between two peoples (who apparently all speak the same language even though they met each other for the first time). She should know better at least on how her father would react to certain things and manage a strategy from there.

Instead of singing her way through.

I could go on but best to keep this short and sweet.

Ah, Rapunzel….

In Rapunzel’s case her nativity is justified given how she’s lived, but the story still has its issues.

How to cleverly 'update' the classic fairytale princess during your PR campaign

How to cleverly ‘update’ the classic fairytale princess during your PR campaign

I enjoyed the jokes and the general story line in Tangled, but in my opinion it could have exploited something much stronger besides true love and all that jazz. Really, Eugenie is a walking plot device cleverly disguised as the love interest.

Run off with crown, check, bring it to princess as a way of fate going ah-ha! check, now to fall in love

Run off with crown, check, bring it to princess as a way of fate going ah-ha! check, now to fall in love

Brave really explored the relationship between mother and daughter which is one of its strong points. Of course, it goes about a healthy relationship which has its differences between generations that is bound to happen. In Tangled, we obviously have, if we break it down, an unhealthy relationship.

In comedic moments, we see Rapunzel struggle with her desire to see the world and obeying her ‘mother’. If she did it on her own without romantic-interest-plot-device, it could have made a more profound story about a young woman overcoming a bad relationship and learning what’s right for her.

Of course, this is Disney. Certain lines and phrases in the story scream ‘PR campaign’ . At the same time, they made her somewhat independent but not too much which is a problem I find with most of the Disney princesses.

It’s that sort of ‘ceiling’ I often see when interacting with female peers. There’s an invisible ceiling that everyone pretends they don’t see and yet, still keep away from.

You could argue that Pocahontas might have been an older sister in the PR campaign before it came to fruition on some level. At the same time, there’s only so much you can do with the romanticized story without falling back on traditional roles the previous princesses had.

As for Rapunzel, she’s just part of the PR campaign.

After reviewing all the Disney Princesses, I think its time we seriously create stories not based around getting the love interest and having an adventure. Maybe, she’s a queen, has married but now for some real adventure regarding her power or something? That can send a much stronger message about women’s roles today.

It’s just a thought, but I know people are comfortable with the approved fairy tale formula.


Batman: Why are we afraid to move on?

Batman.

batman_the_dark_knight_and_video_by_erikvonlehmann-d5tf5nr

That is all. End of post, that’s all I need to say. Cause you know, he’s the god damn Batman!

Probably this character has been discussed so many times that any forum wars still going on probably reference to exact links to avoid the internet servers processing the same damn discussions over, and over and wait…..over again.

I’m not sure if my particular contribution to Batman has been done before, but I’ll give it a shot.

Most people prefer Batman given the fact he has no super powers and has taken a personal tragedy and transformed it into something else.

funny-batman-singing-meme-microphone-snowOkay, not that.

A while ago, I read Neil Gaiman’s comic “Whatever happened to the caped crusader?” thanks to this link. Warning spoilers kiddies!

The ending of the comic was a kickass concept but then I sat there for a moment and thought how depressing it was. I wanted Batman to continue being Batman no matter what, but for the rest of eternity and probably the universe, Bruce Wayne will exhaust every possible parallel universe version of himself. And to be honest, given how Bruce’s determination is borderline psychotic (probably…to some psychologists), the ending of the comic was quite fitting.

This brings the whole issue of superheroes to light. I never really got into comic books because of all the alternative storylines and universes that it got so damn confusing. I preferred watching Batman TAS, Superman TAS, Justice League, Wolverine and the X-men, and more recent (and cancelled) Young Justice and the movies.

That does make me a hypocrite, yes, but I do enjoy my adaptations.

Any good adaptation of any of my favorite superheroes, I’ll be the first in line to watch. Any great new storylines and character interpretations? Hell, I was busy deciding whether or not I should make a formal presentation, complete with business jargon and audience demographic  information, politely explaining to Cartoon Network why they shouldn’t cancel Young Justice.

By polite, I mean raise an army of Geeks to defend the series continuation!

So why did you cancel my favorite superhero show?

So why did you cancel my favorite superhero show?

 

But then it hits you, like any good fan, I’m afraid to move on. There’s a sort of comfort knowing that Batman and some of the other popular superheroes will always be around in the cinema, comic books, and everything else to be updated. It works for Batman and the others, but not say for Naruto and other characters.

It’s all about the setup.

But anyone can argue that classics are re-made and interpreted for modern audiences, etc, etc, etc. All stories come to an end, etc, etc. And we’re fine for other stories to end like A Song of Ice and Fire, partially due to the setup and expectations but also its been established or ‘promised’ from the beginning (See Donald Maass’s books about author promises).

As I write this, I kind of figured out perhaps the real reason Batman or anyone else’s favorite superhero story will never truly have an end…

Batman_Lee

Is there an ending that will truly satisfy us or his legacy?


What stories represent and what they tell us about ourselves

This week I wanted to discuss something on the more serious side of writing and representing the real world through story. So without further ado, allow me to take to the stage of the blogging world.

Gorgmenghast.

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The name quietly stirs in your mind as you read the tale of its 77th Earl, Titus Groan. Complicated words, but colorful imagery. Small events and tragedies, we take for granted in our epic fantasy tales but under the careful magnifying glass of Mervyn Peake’s imagination, you feel its weight on your tired eyes.

The Gormenghast trilogy is quite different from your standard fantasy epic, even if you put in A Song of Ice and Fire in the mix. When you read it, you can see why publishers at the same had a hard time categorizing it. This was one of the reasons that prevented these novels from being published and recognized in writing circles.

If I described the Gormenghast trilogy, on face value it wouldn’t stir much interest let alone be considered a treasure in the literary world. Yet, while I read Gormenghast, I was wondering why the story stirred something inside of me. The writing and description was extraordinary but something about the story made me realize its true value.

I couldn’t put my finger on what is was though.

The story is about the life Titus Groan from birth to….well until the author died and never really completed the series. However, it shows how his life is ruled by rituals and traditions that have lost their meaning. Somehow, everyone in the castle goes along with this, as if its some sort of law.

Gormenghast was and is the law. Defying it, challenging it and any form of rebellion was unheard of that it even drove Titus’s father mad.

There is no escape, only submission.

mervyn peake illustration of dr. jekyl and mr hyde

After reading a bit about the author’s life,  I learnt that in his early years he lived in China. The way Gormenghast, the castle, and all its inhabitants live separately from the rest of society sort of reminded me of the Forbidden City.

Then it hit me.

No questions, go along with everyone, obey traditions that have lost any meaning and relevance in today and forget any individual happiness?

Maybe I’m over thinking this, but it felt like the story was representing a sort of Gothic form of collective societies. I’m not saying all collective societies are bad or every single characteristic they possess makes them bad. But anything in excess is usually bad, even individualism (I’m looking at you Ayn Rand).

atlasshrugged200

Back to my point, the Gormenghast novels seemed to resonate with some of my childhood (and even adulthood) experiences regarding collectivism. I grew up in a culture that emphasized on following traditions to the point that they had, figuratively, broken life down into an ordered grocery list. If you fall out of line or do something not accepted or done before, you risk being ostracized.

From a psychological point of view and personal experience, this conflict between choosing for yourself and following what the group does come at a price regardless of the choice you make. Now, if you reject certain traditions not only are you ostracized but you also, within your community, loose that sense of assurance you’re accepted. Maybe to some people that doesn’t sound so bad, but it can have devastating effects on a person’s emotional health.

And forget about ‘middle ground’ in these situations. It’s a dead concept.

Gormenghast offers readers a story about a family, specifically a boy, whose whole life has been planned before he takes his first breath. The senseless rituals he has to commit to have lost all meaning but no one dares question carrying them out or their relevance.

This reminded me of several arguments when I questioned certain traditions and mentalities about the collectivist society I was born into. Any direct question was pretty much met with the same answer (maybe an adverb or adjective if I was lucky):

Because that's what's best because- *insert rest of answer*

Because it’s what’s best because- *insert rest of answer*

This was especially true if I brought up about the role of women in today’s society. Out of my own stupidity and the sweet taste of rebellion (plus the added bonus of pissing off relatives), I wanted to insist certain values were….quite Victorian in nature.

Though doing this would’ve been more productive use of my time:

normal_headdesk

Nevertheless, books like the Gormenghast novels capture difficult concepts to weave into a story, let alone be the central theme.  Also, certain values that are morally grey are harder to come across effectively. But its these stories that bring a wealth of culture and the ability to look at ourselves and the world around us more closely.

It is these stories that we keep in our hearts and minds much longer than your standard white knight saves the world from dark wizard.


Female characters: The Enigma of the Writing World

Time to take a break from Disney bashing and take the opportunity to discuss female characters.

While slaving away at SPSS (a stats software), during my breaks where I’m allowed to experience what sunlight feels like I’ve abandoned that privilege for something better: I’ve been catching up reading A Song of Ice And Fire book 4, A feast for crows. Recent chapter-character perspectives and my Disney Princess bashing posts, I got to thinking about female characters.

The sole purpose of my existence: To read all the books!

The sole purpose of my existence: To read all the books!

In Game of Thrones, we are presented with several female characters. From the typical all girlie and all “princess-y” Sansa Stark to Asha Greyjoy “Man with breasts”.

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The problem with most media is that female characters are often on two extremes of a spectrum. We got the Sansa side (Disney Princesses, Welcome) and on the other side Asha Greyjoy (one of my favorite characters). A while ago I mentioned there are very few female characters I’ve seen that have managed to be strong and yet retain their femininity without forgoing their individual strength.

Growing up, the media taught me women’s strength (no matter the character development) were the following:

  • Beauty: Duh. 
  • Sex: Cersei Lannister is currently teaching this lesson.
  • The Love interest: What? He’s a badass dude who has loads of superpowers? You don’t need a silly thing called inner strength dear. You got a MAN!
  • Innocence: Yes, this is a weapon. Allow me to explain, throughout certain types of media and even in real life, women have known the value of acting (or not) innocent. The writer will protect her and in the real world, the dudes fall for this tactic.
  • Intelligence: More recently, the ‘nerdy’ girl has been showing up. Cunning and all that jazz is creeping up too but still underplayed.

No wonder there’s no ‘real’ character role model for young girls. As a child, I always preferred the male characters (which made my parents question why wasn’t I like other little girls) because they were more developed, independent and dealt with their faults. Female characters, on the other hand…

Meh, Tiger.

Meh, Tiger.

Don’t get me started with inner conflict issues. Donald Maass wrote inner conflict for a character is important to set them apart and such. Most female characters’ inner conflict deals mainly, on a general level, with the ‘romance’ issues or body/confidence issues. Yet, there’s a variety of literature and other media outlets probably showing every type of inner conflict imaginable.

Yet, every now and then someone wrote a real female character without polarizing the spectrum.

360px-Elisa_Maza Samantha-Carter-samantha-carter-2511923-518-76813307445717974931683.jpeg___1_500_1_500_cb94de6a_

The problem with female characters is its a sort of Pandora’s box of extreme characterizations (Sansa Vs Asha). The other won’t be caught dead dressing or acting like the other. Occasionally  we get the fem fatale type character but that’s used more of the whole sexy but dangerous angle (and again reinforces certain issues about female sexuality). The problem with staying in the middle is that writers’ often write a great female character until Mr. Love Interest shows up.

This has often been the case in society if we think about it.

I’ve seen many young women have all sorts of dreams and goals, but everything gets tossed in the wind when “Mr. Right” shows up and relationships need their dues (compromises) paid.

There was even a research article I came across stating how female scientists’ goals and ambitions change when romance strolls into the lab.

With this in mind, its obvious that the media still wants to cling onto its ‘construct’ of what women want and what will make them happy. Then people watch, get influenced by the media, and the cycle continues.

Rinse. Repeat.

My washing machine has more originality than this. It has lots of buttons for so many options (and breaks down to keep things interesting). Wait a sec…I don’t think that metaphor is right….

Why do we do this? Because its safe, its known, its-

R-E-A-L-I-S-T-I-C!

R-E-A-L-I-S-T-I-C!

Happiness, goals, and ambitions cannot be generalized. According to the media and ‘construct’, as a little girl I would’ve wanted to be a princess and have a handsome prince to come to tea or something.

Instead, my parents got a kid who wanted to be a Beast Wars Transformer (I wanted a Fox for my beast mode) or be part of the SG1 team and kick some serious ass. Funny enough, I did own a few Barbies but my sister and I made them part of this magical kingdom (with our other toys) that was always under threat from evil monsters. Their adventures required tactical espionage, using decoys (what the Ken doll was for), breaking defensive positions and I think we even cut off the bad guys’ supply lines at one point.

To make your characters more memorable and realistic in their world and life, you have to find out what will make them happy not what a template says.

The good thing is we’re seeing an emergence of strong female characters based on their individuality, history, family background and circumstances (a quick thank you to GRR Martin and several other writers out there). However, there’s still a long way to go before the playing field is equal.


Pseudo Pornos, Lusty Undergrads and a bad Tv show: The unofficial tale of Sex and the City

Once a upon a time, when I was a wee undergrad, I wanted to watch a funny show. This was in the dark ages before the Big Bang Theory brought us hope and light.

Of finding funny tv-show

On finding funny TV-show

All my friends told me about this one series I should watch.

“Hey you should watch Sex and the City!” One said with glee. The other jumped in and agreed.

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I was hesitant by the name and wondered what kind of game they were playing. After all, these were my friends, they watched Dexter and other shows we all liked. If Game of Thrones had been aired, we’d all be rejoicing how Viserys got his golden hair.

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“Dear friends,” I asked, “it does not sound like something I’d watch.”

“OH!” the other jumped in. “For it is! It is about the stereotypes women have to deal with, ignore the title, that’s part of the issue,” she said with a mischievous smile.

I was convinced at that point and figured I should give it a try. They love Dexter, I kept telling myself.

I couldn't help bringing in two of my favorite references

I couldn’t help bringing in two of my favorite references

They lent me the first DVD and said the beginning was poor.

“But that is to be expected, for this was their pilot!” I nodded at my friend. Some shows need to get their ground before coming around to great rating expectations.

“How many episodes shall I watch then?” I questioned examining the DVD. I had a feeling I should throw it away, but I thought maybe it was just my dismay at the title.

“Three, or five, and then you’ll be hooked! It won’t be long before you ask for another box set!”

So I went to my dorm and ordered pizza, while I waited, I decided to watch and hope for a laugh.

I sat and watched and wondered why, the first scenes were erotica not story at all. It’s probably just for ratings.

After two episodes, I got distracted.

Eating was more important

The pizza was delicious

After the third episode, I was downright uncomfortable.

According to the laws of the internet and Vamp from Metal Gear, at any moment someone will walk in

According to the laws of the internet and Vamp from Metal Gear, at any moment someone will walk in…

I managed my escape from the horrendous show, by playing dead in case Sarah Jessica Parker became the Ring girl.

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The next day I went to my friends and returned the DVD.

“Did you like it???” They asked with hope in their voices.

“There’s video stores, there’s movies, and there’s books. But if you wish to continue lying to yourselves, just rely on one place where no one can judge you for watching, there’s always dear old HBO, or YouTube. Hell just type in on Google!”

I learned something that day as my friends pleaded me to torture myself through another two episodes.

Yes, we know Sex sells. But it can never replace character development, plot and have a better story for audiences. Sex is overused and often undermined now that we have to take it a bit ‘extreme’ to get it noticed. Or more importantly, people to watch.

‘Tis the end of my sad tale. About being lied to about series which discussed several issues.

Instead I got fooled into watching a porno with the dark lighting making it erotica and with dialogue making it a story.


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