A Response to the Millennial Generation

Categories: Uncategorized

We are a new generation that can sometimes be thought of as foreign to those that came before, seeing as the technology of a new generation can elude people from the one before. We have our own jargon and our own niche. While “back in the day” to my grandpa can mean back in the early 1940′s in a shtetl in Poland, when they had one telephone that the whole town had to share and take turns using, the same phrase means back when cell phones were giant blocks of plastic and the only games you could get on them were the original black and white version of “Snake”. The differentiations between generations are huge as the generations grow farther apart, but some closer generations or age groups seem foreign to me as well, which is something that wasn’t brought up.

There are always fads, and many of them are comparable to one another, but even kids that are 7 to 8 years younger than me are into things that I cannot for the life of me comprehend. For instance, what is WITH the new vampire craze? I will be the first to admit that I watched the first season of True Blood and enjoyed its seductive and fun qualities, but why is EVERYTHING that is coming out now related to vampires and werewolves. I think that this lack of understanding form my part can be decidedly attributed to age difference. I wouldn’t call it a generational gap, since people less than ten years younger than me can still be accepted as my generation, but I would instead label it an inter-generational gap.

Here are some things I just don’t understand:

  • The appeal of Justin Bieber and why he already has a biopic
  • The obsession with speaking like the kids in this music video:

  • Why someone as annoying as Miley Cyrus is popular

I guess maybe these are just my opinions, but I think an inter-generational millennial generation dispersion should be taken into consideration. In my opinion, this could be because technology is changing so fast that the fads are changing with more rapidity along with them.

The Kangaroo

Categories: Screening Discussion

Here’s the thing:

Think about every other scene in FlashForward. We are provided with real human emotions, real human actions and, besides the one event that the show is based around, a pretty linear progression of events. It feels real. We aren’t shown a character like Jason in Lost in a surreal, metaphysical world. People see their futures, and then life moves on as we know it. It is easy to provide an explanation for the kangaroo by saying it escaped from the zoo, but there is one thing that is for sure: seeing a kangaroo in the middle of a crowded city in an area that doesn’t seem to be anywhere near a zoo only a minute after everyone wakes up from their blackout is pretty surreal. We can create a logical explanation and glean meaning from anything if we put our minds to it, because that is in our nature. We naturally want things to have explanations and want things to make sense.

I would defend any other moment in the two episodes of FlashForward we watched in class, but the kangaroo was too much of a blatant shout-out to Lost. There were many people that wanted to explain Lost by saying it was all a dream, and that the final episode would have them all waking up in the airplane and going their separate ways. We need an explanation for surreality and thus subconsciously search for it until there is no rational explanation left. So great; there was a kangaroo and we assume he escaped from the zoo, but it is still Dali-esque enough to see a kangaroo hopping around the streets of LA that we hearken back to our knowledge of other shows of its genre.

This surrealism, and not our subconscious explanation, is what bothers me the most. It gives us unfair expectations about how the show is going to progress. We assume that there is going to be an element of surrealism, which it does not have, from my experience with the show. The show mostly encourages us to ask questions about the one event and whether the future is going to change or not. Motivation of characters, present events and what happens outside of the future and the 2.17 minutes everyone passed out all seem to get us into a real world that we can relate to. Thus, the kangaroo to me had no purpose except to attract a different kind of audience that would not be interested in what comes in the future. Someone who likes Lost may not like FlashForward because of the differences between the two shows. FlashForward doesn’t have the mystical element, and a kangaroo going from the zoo to the middle of the city in 2.17 minutes creates mystical questions that a) will not be answered and b) are out of the element of the show, which is what I think makes it so powerful.

Here are two interesting web forums about the kangaroo, and a quote from one of the posters at the end that seems to say what I am trying to say in a different way. Seems to me it’s not only us having this argument and trying to explain this damn kangaroo with a tendency to try to confirm a certain realism.

http://www.tv.com/flashforward/kangaroo/topic/92968-1337718/msgs.html

http://www.flashforwardforum.com/index.php?showtopic=103

“The kangaroo also reminded me of the polar bear. My theory on why it was on the streets is this: It was being transported to a zoo in a vehicle that crashed during the flashforward and escaped. This makes me think what all the other living creatures on earth experienced during the flashforward. Were they unaffected?

The Kangaroo is briefly shown in the preview that aired after the pilot, so I hope that it just shows up in the streets throughout the series with no explanation of its importance until the series finale.

Maybe the kangaroo caused the flashforward?” – Member [2 Minutes 17 Seconds] of www.flashforwardforum.com

This shows that we not only want explanations, but that we want every moment to be pertinent to the show. Decisions made in shows and movies are all conscious decisions by the authors of the show. They can be conscious decisions for plot purposes, for aesthetic purposes, or for transmedia reasons such as drawing different audiences that might not be interested otherwise. I personally think that the kangaroo was the latter, and that we weren’t necessarily supposed to assume that it escaped from the zoo, though that is just our natural tendency.

Response to Quidditch Discussion

Categories: Uncategorized

I found a really interesting video that I think pertains to our discussion on Quidditch. FunnyorDie.com just released a short of Daniel Radcliffe, the man who plays Harry Potter in the movies, being interviewed by Judd Apatow. Here it is:

We were talking in class about how the audience members that created Quidditch and the ones that now play it don’t actually believe that they are wizards or that they are Harry Potter, but that they are just playing for fun. It is a sport that has its roots and foundation in the fictional wizarding world created by J.K. Rowling, but that has its silliness and camp attributes in real life. This video of Daniel Radcliffe is jokingly saying that he believes he is the real Harry Potter, just like we could say that the Quidditch players really believe they are wizards flying on broomsticks.

RESPONSE TO VIDDING

Categories: Uncategorized

First of all, I would like to post a link to my favorite vid ever:

It’s pure genius because it also uses the sound from the actual text to create a pretty catchy song.

According to urbandictionary.com, obviously an extremely reliable dictionary source, vidding is the “act of making fannish music videos.” I wondered if these vids could be negative portrayals of a text. If somebody doesn’t like a certain movie or television series, is it also popular to make a vid showing its weaknesses? I would guess that this is not as possible because chances are that, if you don’t like a text, you don’t know it as well as someone who does appreciate it, and thus would not be able to create as successful a vid because you are not as much of an expert on the movie or television series. Since fan culture is so dominated by females, it’s no wonder that these positive fan vids are also considered a predominantly female product.

Though the word is not officially defined in any legitimate dictionary sources I can find, it’s becoming a huge phenomenon, even being studied and a required assignment in courses. Some people do not define it purely as a music video production, but as the making of fan videos of a certain text. For instance, we had to create a vid for my Storytelling in Media class in order to play with the storytelling techniques that different images can portray. Josh and I made a vid of The Prestige which changed it’s story completely.

It’s hard to make a vid when you’re not a huge fan of the original text. Though I love the prestige, I have only seen it a couple of times, which means that I don’t know all of the dialogue and the scenes well enough to know exactly what part of the text I’m looking for. This further proves that it is easier to make a vid if you love the text and have seen it multiple times as a fan, paying attention to the scenes and being able to sit through it enough times to remember the images and the moments that can be rearranged to make a good text based off the old one.

READING RESPONSE for 10/20/2010

Categories: Readings

Ross – Chapter 2

Viewer participation can be a wonderful thing. Blogs have opened up a new world of dialogue that has never really existed before and been in so many people’s reach. I think that, unless they are harmful to somebody or deliberately malicious, they tend to always be a positive thing. This may be a generalization, but I stand by it as my opinion. I do not think that all viewer participation is positive, though, and in many ways it may give people too much power to change people’s lives for all the wrong reasons. This could be me playing devil’s advocate, as we are always talking about how important active viewership is, but sometimes it could be detrimental to a person’s life.

The specific example I am thinking of is American Idol, one of the examples mentioned in the second chapter of Ross’ book. I must admit that I watched a couple of seasons of this show when I was younger. The thing the caused me to stop voting is the realization that the voting for this show actually greatly affects the people involved, and unfortunately there is no way of controlling the motives for voting. For instance, I had a friend in middle school who voted for the cutest contestant every week on the show. His singing was horrendous, but he ended up making it far just because he was “oh so dreamy”. This affects the other people that may have been more deserving in terms of singing talent, but that did not have the same good looks. On the other hand, it is people’s prerogative to vote for whatever they feel is important, but that doesn’t always go along with the intention of the show. If people want to vote for someone sexy, they should vote for a competition for most attractive man.

Blogging – Chapters 1 and 2

I, personally, would never have thought to study blogging in such an in-depth fashion as the author of this book. I do not think of the definition of blogging because I am so used to its existence around me that I do not think twice about it. It’s like somebody from Europe in the 19th century trying to define the word “book”. It’s something that’s so ingrained in our culture that we are never truly given the opportunity to consider it academically. Thus, Rettberg’s success in making blogging a study and not just a past-time is refreshing. A medium so invested in expressing individual opinions and sharing them with such a large audience, even if no one necessarily reads the postings, is something that one can compare to previous mediums, but with nothing that quite compares.

One could compare blogs to early letters written in fan magazines. These letters were written with the intention of being read by many people across the country. Though there was no “World Wide Web”, there was a way of getting your voice heard that wasn’t guaranteed to be published, but was easy to submit to. The problem with this method was that it was in somebody else’s hands whether or not you were heard, while today it is up to you to post and up to everyone else to read. Sending fan mail, also, was a way of expressing an opinion about a star, but there was no guarantee that they would read it or get access to it. With blogs, there is no guaranteeing the star will read it, but you can post your opinion about anybody and they will have access to it if you make it public.

Blogging has opened up a new world of communication of ideas. The three kinds of blogs do so in different ways. Starting a topic-driven blog may be more difficult because it is easy to maintain a personal blog by oneself, but having to count on other people to post and add input on a specific topic may be harder to pull off. That’s why it is now much easier to get your voice heard, but not necessarily as easy to start a trend of people speaking their minds on a topic. Therefore, though it has become easier to spread ideas and opinions, there are still challenges to spreading a message as far as one would like. Starting a blog about a very specific topic can be limiting in what audience will read the blog. Thus, though we live in the era thought of as completely breaking down communication barriers, it’s still not guaranteed that one’s ideas will spread if no one is interested.

READING RESPONSE for 10/13/2010

Categories: Readings

Felschow – Praxis

I have never experienced cult fandom of a medium, as I have not found something that has inspired me to become so emotionally attached that I am thrown into a fictional world. Still, I have experienced fandom of certain films and television series to the extent that I have tried to push a lot of my friends to watch shows like The Wire and Community and to watch movies such as Amarcord and Singin’ in the Rain. What I found most interesting about this article was the connection between cult fandom and religion. Since I have never experienced this “excessive” fandom, I do not know what it feels like, but the passion and fervor shown by the most arduous fans is similar to that which I have seen by some ultra-religious individuals.

I have a friend at home who LOVES the Lord of the Rings series. She was one of the youngest writers for the Tolkien society’s website, she started the club at our high school, she has a tattoo of a meaningful leaf from the series on her hip, and she speaks Elvish, among many other elements that prove her fandom. She lives out the rest of her life, but she lives the book like a religion. She is not religious, and therefore LOTR has become a religion for her. Her room is covered with paraphernalia from the films and the books, and is even insulted when people state that they dislike or have mixed emotions about anything to do with Tolkien’s literature.

What is most connected between this girl’s love for Tolkien and Hills’ argument is the fact that it gave her a community. She was a very social person at school, but she made many friends solely through her obsession with LOTR. By perusing the Internet for forums and sites affiliated with her favorite series, she gained new connections and even got a job offer when she graduated college. A lot of the time people think of cult fandom as a negative, reclusive activity, but in her case it gained her social connections she would never have had were she not so excessively involved in the fan scene. And this isn’t even with new movies, television shows and video games. This is a fan community of books written decades ago that are still popular and maintain a fanbase through the new media available today.

Kelly Rowett – They’re Letting You Write Your Thesis on That?

One thing that this article mentions that I haven’t thought of too much is fan fiction as an outlet for withdrawal during off-seasons. Since I have never been a participant in online fan communities besides the sparse observation, I cannot speak for myself in this phenomenon. What I do know is the torture of having to wait for another episode of a show in which I am emotionally involved. I have taken two classes now where we watch consecutive episodes of a television series every week. With all of the technology we have at our fingertips today, it is extremely difficult to remain patient when we can always access the shows on the internet. Right now, we are watching R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet and are only watching two episodes a week. The wait is killing each and every one of us that hasn’t watched the series. We know that the episodes are on YouTube, but we try to show some sort of restraint. If you haven’t seen the series, try watching the first two and then stopping:

Part 1 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JV_N7i-95Nk

Part 2 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZNNcSVExzg&feature=related

I know that Trapped in the Closet is not a normal, weekly series, but it is equally difficult to wait between episodes when the next episode is at our fingertips. When the article by Ms. Rowett was written, in 1998, technology wasn’t close to as convenient for the impatient viewer like myself, but now that we know that we can watch what we want and when we want it, telling us to wait is like telling someone with a bad habit like nail-biting to stop. It just somehow makes us want to do it more.

READING RESPONSE for 10/11/10

Categories: Readings

Ross – Introduction and Chapter 1

I was immediately drawn to the topic of water cooler conversations while reading this. We are all familiar with water cooler conversations in person, whether they be at the Grille, in public restrooms, or just literally around a water cooler. Nowadays, people are always talking about what they’ve watched, what they think and of whom they are fans. The only idea of the Internet as today’s water cooler is a beautiful picture for me. I can relate so well because I am constantly posting links and opinions about television shows on my Facebook profile (I have yet to upgrade to Twitter).

One important thing about the Internet version of the water cooler is that it is so easy to post links to instant replays of moments from your favorite episodes. We have learned from sports how important instant replay is, but when there are things that one may not notice in the first viewing of an episode of a television series, it’s important to have a link to rewatch it and not have to wait until the next time it is on air. For instance, last night I posted a link to this Youtube video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tP0ubODOUQ

I had already watched the episode of Community that these clips came from, but I did not notice what was happening in the background. The show is so full of meta moments that one can easily miss them. With a fan community (no pun intended with the name of the show) willing to take the time to share their findings with other fans, and with accessibility to clips and the ease at which one can mash them up on personal computers, it’s no wonder that the world of television is at our fingertips. It’s also wonderful how this not only becomes interactive in terms of conversation, but also in terms of how we see things. It’s common to mash things up to give them different meanings through forms of storytelling, such as some mash ups of characters from Lost that create a completely new storyline.

The online fan community does not stop only at television series. It could arguably be said that other fan conversation and participation on the internet may even be more interactive. I play a lot of fantasy sports online, particularly on espn.com. Whether or not I’m playing against my friends or just against the world, the people that we see on television playing sports are now at our disposal in creating our own teams. There has even been talk of people buying teams as collectives on the Internet, as one team in the lower tiers of Premiership Soccer in England was rumored to be bought by a community of bidders online. Video games also have a huge online fan base, and aren’t only played online, but are discussed as well. There are some people that even sell gold and other goods for games like World of Warcraft on websites like eBay and Amazon.

The fan community for every form of media is right at our fingertips, and it can be a beautiful thing.

READING RESPONSE for 10/6/2010

Categories: Readings

From the first moment we are let into the diegesis of Singin’ in the Rain, we are provided with references to Hollywood culture and 1920s nostalgia. Mark Juddery writes an incredible interesting article about all of these references, and about how the film does such an amazing job of combining the more modern 1950s film style with the 1920s culture. One important mention in the article is just how historically specific and researched Singin’ in the Rain was. Juddery states: “This is what it was like around MGM in 1928–with a little comic exaggeration…” From characters based off of real people, like Pola Negri and Mae Murray, to references to places like the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, we are thrown tons of different important names from the time.

The changes that were taking place during this time were also shown extremely accurately. From getting used to microphone placement in films to getting used to the need to make dialogue both believable and enthralling, there were a ton of problems encountered by silent filmmakers trying to make it in the “talking picture” era. There were obviously a ton of gags done in Singin’ in the Rain that may have been a little bit over the top, like R.F. tripping over the microphone wire and causing Lina Lamont to go flying in the air, but the general idea of obstacles to the realization of a good “talkie” without any experience were all real. The actors obviously had a difficult time, too, many of them falling to the wayside because their voices or screen personas were not translatable to movies with sound. Though many thrived in the environment, most of whom had begun on the theatrical stage, there were many who had to retire and find a different career path, such as Norma Tamadge, mentioned in Juddery’s article as a woman with a thick Brooklyn accent who could no longer play the sophisticated star role.

Many people shared Clara Bow’s spite for the microphone and the sound stage, which is clear from her quote: “That microphone was a nemesis: if you didn’t record well, you were finished.” Though many transitioned smoothly, some actors and actresses had to be intensively trained only so that they could sound “more refined”. This change was necessary but proved to be a hassle and a difficult transition, and many producers opted to just hire actors directly from the stage who had experience speaking lines and memorizing dialogue. I think this is the most interesting part of the article because it shows just how Singin’ in the Rain, though seemingly just a simple film about Don Lockwood and Kathy Selden’s love story, is actually a rich cultural goldmine of references and experiences.

READING RESPONSE for 10/3/2010

Categories: Readings

Fuller – Chapters 7 and 8

Movie fan magazines started off without a very clear intended audience or a very broad range of content. They were comprised solely of fictional movie plots transcribed into prose, and were aimed toward both men and women of all ages. They started to make changes quite quickly, and within a decade were aimed toward a very specific sub-group of American culture: women. The magazines went from including the technological medium of filmmaking as an art, to focusing almost solely on the spectacle of the star and drama that was contained within the movies. “This redefinition … accommodated women and girls more easily than men.” (p. 144)

Something I found particularly interesting in these two chapters of Fuller’s book was the depth in which she described The Answer Man in 1910’s Motion Picture Story Magazine. To me, the most intriguing piece of information Fuller provided was that this man “declined to answer some of his readers’ most prying questions about players’ marital status and personal habits, which the MPSM staff judged to be too invasive of players’ privacy.” (p. 141) Most of the Hollywood news that we hear today is about celebrity gossip of this nature, so this show just how much these columns have changed. These magazines weren’t the fan magazines we think of today, like People and The National Enquierer. They aimed toward a more sophisticated palate and were not as interested in the “juicy gossip.” Only in September of 1915, according to Fuller, did Motion Picture Classic begin writing about “film actors’ private lives.”

READING RESPONSE for 9/29/2010

Categories: Readings

Lauren Pattullo – Busby Berkeley and Gene Kelly

I have been tap dancing since I was six years old, so I have seen many of the musicals that are mentioned in the article. Gene Kelly is one of my favorite dancers, so I have personal experience as an audience member with his films.

I see the huge difference between Gene Kelly’s story-based musicals and Busby Berkeley’s huge productions geared towards spectacle. What is most interesting to me from the article is the fact that Berkeley only directed the musical numbers, with all their pizzazz, and somebody else directed the narrative sequences. Gene Kelly movies had a narrative form in part because it all flowed together, with the same writers and everything, while in Berkeley’s films it seemed that the huge musical numbers were geared solely towards wowing the audience with elaborate sets and pretty women parading around. There was hardly any integration in Berkeley’s films between narrative and the showmanship of it all, and now that I know they were directed separately, it makes more sense.

Gene Kelly’s musical numbers were very much expositional in relation to the narration. They expressed his emotions or even purely his actions. For instance, in Singin’ in the Rain, he sings the title song while he is doing just that: singing and dancing in the rain. There are no musical numbers that do not fit into the story somehow and, though there are some numbers that could be labeled lavish or self-indulgent, nearing what could be deemed spectacle, they can always be fit in somewhere in the plot line. It is also a commentary on movies LIKE Busby Berkeley’s films, since the topic of the movie is talkies and the transition into musicals once diagetic sound was added into “motion pictures.” A great example of this is also in Singin in the Rain, in the musical number that goes with “Beautiful Girls”. The beautiful girls in question were being portrayed as spectacles themselves, kind of like Louise Brooks in Prix de Beaute. The number didn’t feel like it was a part of any plot line, but it would be added to a movie anyway to please audiences.