Friday, 1 March 2013

Week 17 (Mon 18 Feb - Storytelling)

In the lecture, we watched the 1989 thriller Blue Steel, starring Jamie Lee Curtis as a police officer who is called back from dismissal to investigate a serial killer with an infatuation for her, not realizing at first that it's the man she's dating, stock broker Eugene Hunt, who gains an almost arousing empowerment from the power of a gun. The film is directed by Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break, Hurt Locker) and as you'd expect, its very slick and well paced, though Ron Silver as the killer does tend to ham it up at points, with manic eyes that remind one of Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and a monologue he has halfway through the film feels more silly and childish than threatening.

In the seminar, we looked at the idea of post-modernism, a concept which, in general terms, deals with the idea of reality being constructed and not existing in its own right, a departure fromboth modernism and other ideas before it, and which itself was birthed from a number of movements in the mid 20th century such as Multiculturalism, Late Capitalism (where power now belonged to those with knowledge instead of mere wealth), gay and feminist movements that challenged conventions and assumptions, and from literary criticism of the time that argued that text could and should have multiple meanings/interpretations. From a writing standpoint, post-modernism incorporates ideas such as intertextuality (something in the text referring to or linking into another work i.e. the Buffy example also discussed a few weeks ago when we last touched on this in the Tuesday lecture), bricolage (no such thing as originality, and that everything is a mix of previous works and elements) and the rejection of binary classifications (casting aside set definitions about what something is and isn't, mash-up fiction (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, FDR: American Badass, Shaun of the Dead) being a clear example of this rejection idea).

For the first exercise, we were asked to create a mash-up story of our own, in groups: my team came up with an idea for a zombie-dance film that dealt with an undead dancing troupe entering a human dance contest in a post-apocalyptic world, using their 'zombie-ness' as their team's gimmick. Afterwards, we looked at other concepts related to post-modernist writing, such as author Umberto Eco, who believed that you could get away with something corny/overdone if you acknowledged it ('As Barbara Cartland would put it, I love you madly' being a famous example), Meta-Cinema (which is built around self awareness and referencing, famously in films like Scream & New Nightmare), Camp (originating in gay culture, it serves as both a parody and an affectionate tribute i.e. the 60s Batman TV show, both making fun and revering the old serials and comics that inspired it), Performativity (the question of gender roles, playing back into the idea of 'construction' mentioned earlier), the Mutability of Identity (identity is never fixed, but always changes, much likes how artists reinvent themselves constantly i.e. David Bowie, Madonna, Michael Jackson), and the Intentional & Affective Fallacies (the former being the idea that a text is strictly what the creator intended, while the latter is that the receiver/viewer is the only one who can decide the meaning).

To close off, today's subject was a quite a bit of fun, especially during the seminar, where we bounced around ideas in the group for a mash-up film, and laughing at the absurdity of our suggestions. As I go on in this course, aside from the work becoming more challenging and satisfying, I also find myself getting more and more endeared to this people, and the ice has completely melted away. Plus, post-modernism covers a surprising amount of concepts, a lot of which I had been acquainted with before through TV, Films and books, but never saw them as being linked together under this proverbial umbrella of thought, and that proved to be really interesting, and allowed some of the class to really discuss the idea and present examples where these different concepts applied.

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