City Tech, Fall 2016

Author: Rino (Page 1 of 3)

Write-Up (Final) & Reflection; Commercialization of Science-Fiction

Abstract

This Write-Up looks into different aspects of Commercialized Science-Fiction and it’s impact that it has on society. It looks into how these particular Science-Fiction texts are made through the effects that merchandising and fandom play into a text’s content. This research also looks into the idea that the success of Commercialized Science-Fiction texts comes from the generalization of story elements and overall attempts at trying to be as all inclusive as possible with; collective audiences need to have a generalized story in order to gain their interest and this is then interpolated to give entertainment at the expense of losing out on a story that could’ve been more subjectively compelling and interesting. Examples are brought up in this research, including Star Wars, Warhammer 40,000, Marvel, Transformers, and Doctor Who; each of these texts and the products that were made around them have their own nuances that relate to the magnitude of their success. Star Wars and the Marvel cinematic universe are juxtaposed to one another because of the acquisition of both of these franchises by Disney and Warhammer 40,000 and Transformers are juxtaposed because of their focus on creating a product before actually making a text to accompany the work; Transformers in particular was seen as more successful, but at the cost of creating text that involved appealing to a younger demographic whereas Warhammer 40,000 focused more on telling a complex story not easily grasping the interest of people considered to be up to date with the “social norm”. The observance of these texts is warranted because these are reflections of the tastes that society has and is modeled after the likes of social norms; this begs the question of whether or not society’s interest in general Science-Fiction works should be redacted in favor of texts that can offer more in stimulation of the mind beyond mere visual spectacle and character appeal through marketing methods geared to do so.

Download (PDF, 124KB)

Project Progress Blog 2.0; Stronger and Better Than Ever

Sources

1) Jancovich, Mark. Defining Cult Movies: The Cultural Politics of Oppositional Taste. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2003. Print.

This source, holistically, looks into cult followings of texts ranging from many different genres and talks about the elitist mentalities that come with it. Specifically, there is a chapter that talks about Science-Fiction works and that fans claim “ownership” of these works. Trivia and knowledge of texts allow fans to claim ownership of Science-Fiction texts that they follow, both in constructing their fandom and influence on production of films.

This source is important for my topic because it helps with understanding the influence that fans have on texts. It also brings to light the idea of “cult followings” that happen from more obscure texts that aren’t as heavily marketed; which is a good comparison to make with more popular and culturally affluent Science-Fiction texts.

2) Jenkins, Henry. “Interactive Audiences? The ‘Collective Intelligence’ of Media Fans.” N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2016. <http://labweb.education.wisc.edu/curric606/readings/Jenkins2002.pdf>.

This source looks into the ways marketing has become successful via different forms of media. It talks about how there was a shift in the way companies tried to market to the consumer and the new strategies they try to implement nowadays. Companies now assume that consumers are not mindless drones, and thus companies find ways to almost trick these intelligent consumers with various appeals; like with the first example that detailed the “rogue independent” in a commercial that is ultimately led into accepting the product.

This source, though not heavily involved with Science-Fiction entirely, helps with my research because it looks into how companies view the consumer. A link can be made with the cross platform of marketing that companies employ with Science-Fiction works, like with Star Wars and their cross-platform promotion of their products (on television, physical advertisements, goods, etc.)

3) Sobchack, Vivian Carol. Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film. New York: Ungar, 1987. Print.

This source looks into the history of Science-Fiction as a whole. It talks about the shift of the ‘poetics’ of Science-Fiction to the ‘politics’ of it; how there is a difference in the subject matter and intention of these texts. The source goes into the idea that substance and style of newer works are different than Science-Fiction previously; “…aesthetics, politics, economics, technology, and social relations are interdependent cultural phenomena”.

This source is important for my topic because it’s nice to have a broader look at the change of Science-Fiction as a genre and gives some back story in how this shift happens. There are some elements in this source that also help me out with my previous inclinations, such as that there seems to be more of a focus on working in Science-Fiction into society as a social norm, rather than trying to make a point of our society (as the ‘poetics’).

4) Stephen Brown, Robert V. Kozinets, John F. Sherry Jr. (2003) Teaching Old Brands New Tricks: Retro Branding and the Revival of Brand Meaning. Journal of Marketing: July 2003, Vol. 67, No. 3, pp. 19-33.

This source talks about the idea of “retro-branding” that a lot of different brands are going through recently. “Retro-branding” is when you facilitate updated features to old brands to try and make them more viable to newer consumers. The source compares this act of “retro-branding” with two very different examples, to make their point in how universal this idea is. Those examples are the Volkswagen New Beetle and Star Wars: Episode I. The source also brings up this concept of the “Four A’s”: Allegory (brand story), Aura (brand essence), Arcadia (idealized community), and Antinomy (brand paradox).

This source is important for my research because it introduces a new concept to my diction for this idea of revivals that seem to be happening with certain brands. It also talks about Star Wars, and how it got revitalized to fit the newer consumer, and the shift in story telling and such that came with it as a result (with the “Four A’s”).

5) Tulloch, John, and Henry Jenkins. Science Fiction Audiences: Watching Doctor Who and Star Trek. London: Routledge, 1995. Print.

This source talks about the fandom that exist in both Star Trek and Doctor Who. It goes into many reasons why there are different fan groups for the series and how each generation of this fandom is different than the last. For example, Doctor Who has multiple waves of fandom that happened as the series when on, and the source talked about 3rd Wave Doctor Who fans who are more lax with their approval of lore versus earlier fans. This source also talks about difference of demographics and their means of escape through these texts from being the ‘other’ in their own societies.

This source is important for my topic because it looks closely into fandom of two different Science Fiction texts, being able to compare and contrast the two. It also looks into both the effects this has on the evolution of the fandom and how the stories progress for each text. This will help me better understand how fans help out with heavily marketed Science-Fiction texts.

Initial Draft

1) Introduction

Science-Fiction has had it’s ups and downs throughout the years of it’s emergence. The shifts in focus and attention to the genre seems very drastic; compare Brave New World to the recent Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. This shift seems to be a result of the boon that Science-Fiction has had recently in popular culture and the marketability of these franchises. This piece will look into the effects of marketing and fandom on a text’s story and focus of intention of said text. The goal is to look into the effects consumerism (whether successful or not) has on Science-Fiction texts in the quality of the works and overall longevity of the intellectual property.

2) Main Claims

  • Talk about the affects marketing has on consumers
  • Talk about the affects of fandom that is had on Science-Fiction works
  • Merge the claims together to look into how these affects get worked into Science-Fiction works recently

Reflection

I think I’m making a lot more progress than I did last time, and it was mostly a great result of what knowing what I needed to focus on. The personal conference I had with the professor got me knowing specifically what I needed to do by the next blog, which was to find concrete general sources about my topic of Science-Fiction Commercialization. I didn’t realize that I had jumped ahead of making claims that were not grounded to actual sources yet, so it was good to know that I should be first looking at sources related to it and getting ideas from there rather than assume for myself and look for sources that satisfied my assumption.

Next Steps

My next steps include, obviously, still finding more sources and organizing my ideas into what I want to specifically talk about for my project. I know what things I still want to look for, but the next step is to look into the answers to the questions I looked to want to address. In regards to the presentation, I feel like most of the progress I did over this weekend will greatly improve my case and hopefully it will be more reflective in the way I make my presentation.

Questions

One major question is if I necessarily need to find a counter-argument for my essay and how do I go about finding it?

Science Fiction Archives; A Gem of an Addition to the NYCCT Library

Funny enough, I almost believed that we didn’t have class last Thursday and was quickly informed otherwise. I’m glad that I was wrong about this, however, because I was able to enjoy something well worth not missing. The City Tech Science-Fiction Archive was a sight to see and, with the help of Professor Ellis, I learned a lot about Science-Fiction through it’s history, it’s importance, and just liked getting to see old artwork/readings (since I am such a fan of old stuff after all).

Professor Ellis did a good job talking about the history of Science-Fiction that people got from periodicals. He talked about how he was affiliated with the anonymous donor of this collection, and how the donor had practically every issue from a variety of well known magazines, such as Asimov’s Science-Fiction, Fantasy, and Analog. He linked us to a website called isfdb.com, which is a good way to view every magazine digitally at home, but it’s also incredible to actually have the physical copies available to City Tech. It’s very special to have it in physical presence and shows the reverence towards the art (and, taking away from some Science-Fiction ideas, beats viewing the “ersatz” version of the texts via digital copies versus the real thing).

I learned that there is a great deal and interest in preservation of these Science-Fiction texts, and the City Tech library is able to see this as well. It’s incredible how Professor Ellis and his other colleagues were able to work with the library in hosting this collection. More so, the City Tech Library was so gracious enough to accommodate it, which is no small feat for a school that is limited in it’s space. Clearly the City Tech Library sees the value in these books, and hopefully others will as well in order to retain the archive in it’s integrity and not have to be moved out of that area of the library.

Lastly, it was just nice to look at all the old Science-Fiction magazines, they all had so much character and appeal to them, even to this day. I’m usually a classic buff, so I already have a predisposed liking towards vintage stuff of any kind. That, coupled with a love for Science-Fiction, made this day well worth it to look at some interesting pieces of work. I especially liked the detail put into the artwork that was done for the magazines; it shows that there was careful work into making these magazines every two months and added to the texts that would otherwise be left to imagination. Unlike the novels and short stories that we read for class, these pictures helped the average consumer be able to put themselves into those made up worlds, and it shows why they needed such detailed pieces of art to be commissioned for each of these stories that exposed vivid ideas of their writers.

It was a good experience to check out the archive, and hopefully I’ll have the time to visit it again before I graduate from City Tech. And hopefully people will give it enough love and support that it stays there for years to come.

Commercialism Progress (Archive Project Progress Blog)

Final Draft

  • Proposal: To look into the gauge of success that comes from Science-Fiction franchises that involve merchandising and if this ruins or improves the franchise in it’s longevity; in who’s eyes is the franchise a “success” and for what reason is that.
  • Procedure: By looking at different franchises and their evolution that came with their audience and developers of the Independent Property (IP).
  • Goal: To find out what becomes appropriate for the consumer while at the same time being profitable for the retailer (since they need to stay above water to produce more of their IP).

Research Questions

  • When in the process of producing the IP is merchandising incorporated?
  • Is the marketing potential of an IP inherently the reason for making the ‘text’ for these IPs?
  • What is the factor that determines if an IP is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in the eyes of fans?
  • Should success be determined from what fans feel about the series or the marketing potential and growth that came from the IP?
  • Is there something lost or gained from this focus on marketing; is there a balance that needs to be made when making a IP with compelling story and marketability?

Initial Claims

My hypothesis is that there is a balance between story-telling/lore and marketability of characters; they are both important to different groups (sometimes both can be important to both groups). I believe that fans care more about how a story is presented, while developers (at some level, it’s probably producers) who push for marketing the product by presenting characters expeditiously without proper development of characteristics.

Research Info

Most of my research I would categorize as “first draft” research, since I haven’t looked into proper peer reviewed articles or journals in regards to my topic. However, I do value the research I have done because it’s just as important to look at feedback from collective people (via forum posts) in a topic that is focused on the consumer’s opinions about different IPs. I plan to look into more credible and scholarly resources soon enough though, so don’t fret about the legitimacy of claims that I will make.

Reflection on Progress

So far I feel like I’m well on my way to making a good presentation and overall good headway into the project as a whole. I think I’ve narrowed down my topic well enough to be both interesting and specific enough to have significance and resonance with both my peers in class and, hopefully, other people outside of that circle who would read it.

Questions at this point

One of the only major questions I have about the project is how I should format it; should I focus on being specific with examples and how specific should I be with the examples on top of that, or should it feel more like it’s an all encompassing idea that already knows what it wants to claim while supplementing it with examples from time to time? Basically, would it be more interesting to look at examples specifically to build on my argument or should I piece-meal the examples when I make claims about different aspects of my topic?

Commercialization in Science-Fiction (Proposal: Final & Reflection)

Proposal:

The most general way I can put my proposal is like so:

Looking at the gauge of success that comes with Science-Fiction franchises that involve merchandising and if this ruins or improves the franchise in future iterations (and in the eyes of who does this happen?)

I want to look at Science-Fiction franchises that came into existence because of the marketing potential that came with it. There are a wide assortment of examples in this vein of Science-Fiction, most of these marketed texts come from more recent years (the 1960’s and 1970’s). Disney, which now has it’s hands on a lot of Science-Fiction Independent Products (IPs), is one of the early examples of merchandising their products, dating back all the way to 1928 after their release of Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie. Star Wars (1977) and E.T. The Extraterrestrial (1982) are some of the earliest examples of marketing potential that came from Science-Fiction; albeit being the first of it’s kind, the stories of these films are universally praised and are considered masterpieces of their time.

With more modern examples of this merchandising that happens with films, television shows and video games, more of the fandom reacts more volatile towards the creators of the films, thinking they are more about money rather than storytelling. Take for example Star Wars, the first 3 films that were made (known as Episode IV, V, & VI) were glorified by fans while the prequels to these films (Episode I, II, & III) are seen as exploitations of younger audiences in order to get more marketability. Children, in the eyes of investors and possibly the creative heads of these projects, are seen as a viable target demographic to bring in since children are more impressionable and willing to want to buy products associated with the IP. Disney, who now owns Star Wars, sees this potential with its acquisition of the IP. The newest Star Wars films and the amount of content that is quickly being pushed out with it (already planning five more movies, which are to come out subsequently every year, on top of all the products that are catered to these films) presents the dilemma of what the point of making these films. The original Star Wars was crafted to tell a compelling science-fiction space opera that was layered with many influences to other films and IPs, whereas now Star Wars looks to be a means of exciting the fan base in order to sell products to them and milk them out of more money.

At the same time, there are IPs that are heavily marketed but still get praise from their fans, namely a series called Warhammer 40,000. Warhammer 40,000, created by Games Workshop, started out as a tabletop game similar to Risk, but set in the distant future of 40,000AD and layered with deep lore and story embedded into it; as an example, the original Warhammer 40,000 rulebook is 400+ pages and most of it is background description of each possible faction you can play as. The game was made in 1987 and has slowly evolved and has had a niche cult following, which brought about enough support to add more lore into the universe (through the continuous release of new books) and even video games that fall in line with the lore. Fans of this series, even though they are fully aware of being exploited by the price of this hobby (the “Daemonettes on Steeds of Slaanesh”, which are only five figures used for the tabletop game is $45 for example), still go back to it and support Games Workshop. Looking into forums, people clamor to this game series because of how rich in story and lore the universe presents itself; there is a sense of “endless possibilities” of where the franchise can go and expansion of lore is always welcomed and accepted by Games Workshop. At the same time, this extensive world-building seems to also put people off by it, since it is difficult to jump into and is seen as merely a underground fandom of “nerds”. But the fans, which is the focus for this proposal, sees Warhammer 40,000 as a success and it’s mostly in part because of the direction and attention taken to story-telling rather than blatantly trying to appeal to a targeted demographic (the tagline of “for in the grim dark future there is only war” doesn’t necessarily strike an attempt at drawing children in lieu of other demographics).

Star Wars and Warhammer 40,000 are merely two examples of this type of marketability that companies look for in fandoms. Other examples that come to mind that fall under Commercialized Science-Fiction include the cinematic universe of Marvel, compared to the comics and Netflix shows; where fans of the comic series feel like the cinematic universe is merely a means of marketing the superheroes and losing out on compelling storytelling that is evident in the comics (with lose of details and important points from the comics). You have Transformers, compared to the original show that was explicitly made because of the toy line and to its revival in cinema more recently; younger fans who grew up with the show and toys feel like there is a disconnect with the films, in an ironic sense because they fell into Hasbro’s intention of appealing to younger audiences through the original show while the movies paint the Transformers in a more dark/serious/dramatic tone to try and tell a more compelling story (at least for the first film in the series). And lastly Doctor Who, which was a failing BBC show that got a revival more recently because of the inclusion of different demographics and the marketability of the IP; this is a particularly interesting example because they not only are able to market their IP to younger audiences, they also brought in the young adult market and is just generally well-received by most people despite the fandom and merchandising that happens as a result of it (at the same time, are they involved with this marketing or is it just a result of telling good stories and making an interesting show…).

I want to look into a few things while doing my research into this particular topic, including:

  • When in the process of producing the IP is merchandising incorporated?
  • Is the marketing potential of an IP inherently the reason for making the ‘text’ for these IPs?
  • What is the factor that determines if an IP is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in the eyes of fans?
  • Should success be determined from what fans feel about the series or the marketing potential and growth that came from the IP?
  • Is there something lost or gained from this focus on marketing; is there a balance that needs to be made when making a IP with compelling story and marketability?

Hopefully I can get these questions answered and if this is a viable proposal for the Archive Project.

Sources:

Disney and Commercialization

Warhammer 40K Forum

Marines Playing Warhammer & Background Info

General Movie Merchandising and Practices

History of Merchandising in Films

Games Workshop Online Store (to look at prices of Warhammer figurines)

Reflection:

When revising my proposal, there were a couple of things I considered both from the professor and my two peer reviewers. I obviously had to choose one of the two possible topics I presented in the draft and got a lot more information about my topic in regards to actually getting online sources to help with my idea (which I was surprised that it was not as difficult as I would have suspected, I thought the scope of my project may have been too narrow to the point of not finding information about it from other people).

The first thing I needed to consider fixing was specifically picking one of the topics out of the two I proposed initially. Although my peers liked the second proposal in regards to Western Science-Fiction influences in Japanese culture, I went with what the professor felt more strongly about and the one we initially agreed on; it’s true that I think a lot more people would be able to relate with my second topic (since a lot of my generation watch anime), but even if I went with it I still felt it would be way too broad anyway, since there are so many anime and manga that pretty much every topic has been covered in Japanese media. The second suggestion, also, just came out of the whim and was not fully backed up or researched as much as my first topic (the one I’m sticking with). Moreover, I think not as many people looked into this specific topic of commercially driven science-fiction franchises and it’s affects on it’s fans, so it would be interesting to see what I could find on this. (Being a person who doesn’t see why someone is overtly a fan, I have an interesting perspective on the matter as well [and when I say I’m not “overtly a fan” of anything, I don’t clamor and get hyped just because of the name that’s attached to it, I usually just wait for the main product]).

The second thing I needed to touch up on my draft is actually finding sources to back up my claims, which I inferred about of stuff but it turned out to be mostly right anyway. I found sources ranging from critical reflections of general child commercialization, to merchandising that’s done with cinema, to just forum posts that encapsulated fan approvals and perspectives on their likes/dislikes and factual evidence (as noted with the Warhammer 40,000 forum & the Games Workshop store link). The second and third paragraph talked a lot about what I researched, whereas the fourth paragraph (when I listed off more examples) is not noted the sources, but is intended to be researched more since each one of them have their own unique case to this project that I had in mind; I will be looking into these IPs in more detail with concrete sources, but I threw them out there to show that my argument wasn’t just limited to just two different franchises.

Hopefully it comes out good (and the proposal is clear in what I want to do)!

“Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun…” with Proposals!

So I’m equally torn between two possible proposal ideas that came to me while thinking about this project. Let’s start with the first one…

The affects (and I guess effects) of Science-Fiction that was aimed at franchising products out of an IP (Intellectual Property).

Two particular IP’s that immediately popped in my head were the Star Wars Prequels (Episode I-III) and Warhammer 40k. These two works have very different reactions that came about from their blatant attempts at marketing their universe into things that people can buy. The Star Wars Prequels went a completely different direction in the way it presented the universe from the original films, attempting to appeal to viewers with more focus towards visual spectacles and an over-abundance of additions to canonical races and Jedi, which was arguably (but more than likely) an attempt for George Lucas to milk out his franchise to appealing to younger audiences to buy Star Wars merchandise; which ultimately is seen as an abuse and failure in the eyes of most Star Wars fans who attributed the success of Star Wars to it’s great story telling and practicality. Whereas Warhammer 40k started out as collectible figurines and the popularity of the lore and written works behind these figures created a massive, in depth universe that many people like and the creator’s dedicate to making quality work. Though niche from the general public, Warhammer 40k has very devoted fans to it and gladly spend immense amounts of money towards collectible figures and other merchandising to keep the IP continuing, all the way since the 1980s. (The lore of Warhammer 40k is responsible for a lot of different games and IP’s, most notably Warcraft.)

I would want to look into other similar cases of this happening with other works and study the reactions the consumer has towards this marketing of science-fiction as a means of making money rather than doing it creatively; moreover, why does it work for some cases (like with Warhammer 40k) and why does it fail in other cases (like with the Star Wars Prequels).

And the second proposal…

Historically looking through the influences of Western Science-Fiction on Japanese manga/anime/other fictional works.

Though I just recently thought of this idea and haven’t had as much thinking about this proposal, I equally find it fascinating to explore this topic. Some of my favourite anime and manga are heavily influenced by Western culture in general, but searching for Science-Fiction themes and concepts that we talked about in class that have been injected in Japanese culture in the form of their entertainment would be nice to look into. Three examples that come to mind for this are Dragonball, Gundam, and Ghost in the Shell. Dragonball talks about “the other” in the form of an alien child who comes to Earth named Goku, which pretty much lends itself from Superman comics and the two often get compared (note, Superman came out way before Dragonball and is believed to have had some influence in Dragonball’s creator). Next, Gundam follows the events of people piloting giant mech robots used mostly for combat; each series is set in a different time or universe, but they all usually have themes about colonization and corrupt governments/societies based in utopias/dystopias, where freedom fighters (also piloting Gundams) rebel against it. And lastly, Ghost in the Shell (which I still have yet to watch) lends a lot of concepts from DADoES? and Blade Runner about what you can view as real and the backlash to technological advancements in AI.

So those are my ideas and the hardest part for me at this point is choosing and sticking with one…

Class Notes 11.10.16

Introduction


Greeted to the class with some quotes:

  • “Utopia also entails refusal, the refusal to accept that living beyond the present is delusional, the refusal to take at face value current judgments of the good or claims that there is no alternative” (Levitas 17)
  • “This is painful, and it will be for a long time” (HRC 11/9/16)
  • “misogyny sexism” was on the board and left since it was apt for the discussion at hand

We took a pause today compared to our usual discussions to relate more to the real world and with recent events; but to still be productive we reflected it back to certain topics we discussed, such as comparing it to Utopian thinking and science-fiction.

We focused on talking about difficult things and did it in the spirit of dialog and critical engagement; we wrote and reflective personally at first and then shared ideas collectively.

Writing/Discussion


First question to reflect on: “Ask yourself, how are you feeling? Describe, if there is anything, what’s blocking you from writing today.”

Extended from the initial question: “What questions or thoughts are on your mind?”

Some of the captured responses:

”Try to bring levity to a situation; couldn’t sleep, no one discussed it (avoidance); we should unite; put this behind us; like a Catch-22, there should be a response although a response would divide us further; we need to accept it, but it feels wrong to do so”

”Also agree; government talks about the peaceful transfer (sanctity of democracy); we can’t be destroying our government, but be prepared and willing if things go wrong; my fear is that a lot of people are afraid, illegal immigrants; hardworking people, on the path to citizenship, their efforts are going to waste; don’t be violent, but be prepared for protest and peaceful opposition”

”It was inspired by fear and bigotry; lose faith in people”

”Responding to bad things is not a downer”

”It’s an apt time to be a down; have a friend in New Mexico who was a journalist, covering elections and it took it out of him, Trump supporter threw a rod in his leg; try to make the best of this, acceptance shouldn’t be what we should do; he represents some faction of the nation, but not my interest; didn’t talk to my friends; minorities have a target on their path, fear monger”

”Confused; didn’t trust either candidate, but lesser of evil was Clinton; not sure if it’s a good thing or not that Trump won though”

“This election shows the true character of our country; it’s the divided states; this division gave a platform for Trump to talk from; appealed to people that felt ignored by the rest of us”

”Had no plans; just said ‘there will be jobs, not a crooked politician’ and such; won the election through violence/fear; will inspire people, but unfortunately in a negative way”

”Reminiscent of Hitler; blaming minorities akin to what Hitler did to win support through scapegoats”

”One of the worst things is that he’s going to be in our history books; in the future people will think ‘wow, we picked that guy?’”

”Played off fear and showed the ignorance of America; poor kids who are Muslim and Black are targeted because the president would back up this hate; makes you lose so much faith in people”

”Most people who supported Trump did it for ‘threat of terrorism’, meanwhile NY voted against him; we’re the ones who have and are more prone to terrorist attacks and yet we knew not to go with Trump; makes no sense”

”Trump wins no matter what happens in office; nothing he does in office, will affect his business or his contacts and still benefits even if he has a bad term”

”52% of white women voted Trump, terrifying; misogyny seems to be internalized; 94% black women voted for Clinton; I don’t feel angry, I’m actually sad; large percent of population felt like they were the ‘other’; it also seems like words have no connection to reality because you can say things without consequences”

”Hate of electoral college and wish that it would get reformed or altered for a modern America that can easily evaluate what the majority of the nation believes is the right candidate to lead the country”

”It’s like a ‘grievance’; the process of grief partly talks about re-imagining what your life would’ve looked like; unsure of the future, with not platform”

”Feels like an ‘alternate’ time-line; like Back to the Future, where Biff becomes the Mayor of Marty’s town”

”Obama had the most amount of people to vote for him; but Trump brought out a different crowd of people that did not vote before as well; people are being malicious for no reason”

”Forums are talking about legitimately and seriously saying ‘do be safe’; there are counter-movements of ‘white lives matter’ which brings out racist people in new forms and faces”

”Being someone who is young and of colour, I should be and feel worried for my safety”

”On the topic of ‘stop and frisk’, pence says there isn’t institutional racism and doesn’t acknowledge it; during the debate, Trump said ‘stop & frisk’ benefited NY; but I knew a guy who missed school 3 times a week in high school because he got stopped consistently by the same police officer every week; we were making progress by starting to talk about this institutional racism, but now we’re going backwards”

”Deportation, cutting services, attack on women’s rights are what Trump ran on; take those on their word, it’s scary to think he’ll be pushing for these ideas; there’s a cultural shift represented by this decision; watch Michelle Obama’s speech during the Democratic National Party, very powerful and speaks volumes; talking about ’empathy’, we can relate to one another with these fears, despite what I feel can’t be under sieged as much as others; we all fear for the worst though”

Light Break from Writing


Novel to note that is reminiscent of the results of the election: It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (1935)

  • Written during European fascism, demagogue wins the election, etc.

First quote (“Utopia also entails…”, Ruth Levitas):

  • Close connection to alternative ways of being

Second quote (“ This is painful…”, Hillary R. Clinton):

  • The concession speech and pretty much reflects how most of us are feeling, especially in the states that objectively disagrees with Trump

Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity by Esteban Muñoz

  • About Utopian thinking and queer mentality, in regards to the ‘other’
  • “The present is not enough. It is impoverished and toxic for queers and other people who do not feel the privilege of majoritarian belonging, normative tastes, and “rational” expectations….Let me be clear that the idea is not simply to turn away from the present. One cannot afford such a maneuver, and if one thinks one can, one has resisted the present in favor of folly. The present must be known in relation to the alternative temporal and spatial maps provided by a perception of past and future affective worlds.”
  • Critically engage with what’s happening, don’t just accept it.

Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements by Walidah Imarisha

  • About future black movements through Science-Fiction
  • “Whenever we envision a world without war, without prisons, without capitalism, we are producing speculative fiction. Organizers and activists envision, and try to create, such worlds all the time. Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Maree Brown have brought twenty of them together in the first anthology of short stories to explore the connections between radical speculative fiction and movements for social change. The visionary tales of Octavia’s Brood span genres—sci-fi, fantasy, horror, magical realism—but all are united by an attempt to inject a healthy dose of imagination and innovation into our political practice and to try on new ways of understanding ourselves, the world around us, and all the selves and worlds that could be.”
  • Trying to re-imagine through movements, like with the opposition that’s happening right now (in NY and other states that voted against Trump)
  • Maintain hope even when it may seem hopeless

Writing/Discussion (Cont.)


Second question to reflect on: “Write down what your hopes are (although difficult) in the coming days/years. What are you fearful of?”

Extended from the initial question: “Think about anything that you can draw on from what we read in our class to use as a resource to think about what happened critically.”

Some of the captured responses (Fear):

”I’m afraid for my little sister getting bullied because of her skin colour; being an African American woman goes against me when people are approaching me”

”I’m afraid for people who are not legal immigrants”

”I’m afraid of the nuclear apocalypse, like in DADoES?”

”I want to hope that he is better than we have seen, but I’m afraid that it won’t come true”

”I’m afraid of being enlisted in the military”

”Obama was blocked because of republican control in the House and Senate, but now I’m afraid since Trump is a Republican and has a lot of power because of a majority in the other branches”

”This sounds a bit silly, but I’m afraid that America will turn out like the Galactic Empire from Star Wars, democracy goes away and an autocracy comes into power”

”This is a bit of a selfish fear, but I’m afraid that I’ll go back to thinking that I can ‘trust no one’; I want to go back to having faith in people but feel like I’ll go back to that mentality”

”I’m afraid for my brothers and sisters because of their colour; Trump is perpetuating mental slavery ‘no one takes the time out to learn and understand’ and thus creates ignorance; one of my biggest fears is in the people who believes in his ideas, they don’t educate themselves on the reality of things; ‘make America great again’ talks about reverting back to old times, when segregation and inequality was the norm”

”One of my biggest fears is that we’ll stop fighting and just accept everything; don’t be violent, but learn everything that Trump is trying to do in order to be involved and monitor whatever he tries to do”

”I’m afraid of mostly controlled Republican branches, since they’ll do everything in his interests; it’s ridiculous that corporations get even more rights; corporations are treated and get the same rights like an actual person, but people are getting less rights; they can do anything; full-on extremist ideas are a possibility”

”I’m afraid of student protests and the violence that comes with it; I’m also afraid if I have to pick a rifle for the second time in my life, but against out own fellow Americans”

”I’m afraid for the planet and the affects it will have from this”

Some of the captured responses (Hope):

”I hope that we learn how to be more involved; identify these bigot leaders and their influences”

”I hope for impeachment or removal of the president in some form”

”I hope for more unity, even with the disenfranchised that were with Trump; they need it more than we think since they felt like they were outed”

“Bernard, Helmholtz, and John’s banishment comes to mind when we talk about hope; even though it looks like a punishment, it’s oddly invigorating to improve myself like Helmholtz did when he went to an ill-fitted environment”

”I hope that he does a good job and that things won’t escalate to war (civil war in particular); just do a good job in 4 years and that we realize he was a mistake and go with a different person”

”I hope he was lying about everything he said”

”I’m hopeful that people will continue to talk about these issues; don’t cover up problems”

”I hope he doesn’t act as a puppet for other people’s interests; ironically, hoping that he continues to be a little kid interested in money and not to ruin the country”

”I hope he does a good job because hoping he does a terrible job is like hoping the pilot of the plane you’re on crashes; hoping for this is hard to do, but he’s in charge now and we need to to feel better about the situation”

”I hope that younger people stay engaged in politics; don’t just pop up in the next 4 years to elect someone but constantly be involved in politics”

Closing


Thanks to everyone for sharing and self-care is important at a time like this…

Back to logistics, Essay #2 is due on Tuesday

  • Ernest Hemingway said “the first draft of anything is shit”, so revise, revise, revise…
  • Remember to submit to Dropbox, make your cover letters, and follow the guidelines when making your next essay (it won’t be graded as laxly as the first essay)

Also, today marks the Last Day to Withdraw (although I uploaded the notes late, so you can’t drop with a W at this point anyway…)

 

My Tangential, Meta-Analysis of Self-Reflection

As you have seen with my posts as a whole, 750 words shouldn’t seem to be a hard thing to do. And yet, I feel like it’s so much more difficult to write about myself in this specific post; a meta analysis of myself as a student versus an analysis of a text. The textual analysis seems easy to do and comes naturally to me, since it’s a narrow scope to work with and there seems to always be something interestingly specific I want to talk about from the readings. Though it’s not apparent, when you’re given a limitation to what to write about you usually write better contrary to what you probably believe. When you’re given no scope, then you don’t know where to start and the process becomes muddled and difficult to initiate…so I guess this rambling is a good way to start my reflective analysis since I’m a pretty introspective person in general who tends to go on tangents; this prelude speaks a lot about me.

When it comes to analyzing texts of any kind (books, short stories, comics, films, etc.) I always tend to look deeper into their significance, even before this class. It would be a lie to say that this class taught me to think about text in a critical way, since in my own “neurosis and OCD” (don’t really have that, but feel like I treat things that way), I actively seek out the connections and allusions texts make to either other texts or to the real world. However, that being said, this class is helping me with my issue of over-analyzing texts because I do sometimes tend to extrapolate far past the intended meaning of a text through. The strict attention to having support to claims and the amount of support you need for those claims is cumbersome for me, but also very good at grounding what I say in my analysis of texts; so for that, I appreciate this aspect that you highly emphasis us to do and am taking note to use this more effectively in the future when I read into other texts outside of this class.

One thing that challenged my assumptions was the fact that Science-Fiction can be used as a driving force for discussing ideas that people either do not openly want to talk about or about concepts that are difficult to grasp. Don’t get me wrong, I think that a lot of classic literature (those that remained timeless) tried to challenge ideas and serve a purpose beyond entertainment, but I didn’t take Science-Fiction so seriously in this regard. Case in point, Brave New World; I read this book before in high school, but completely forgot about it because I read it on my own, didn’t look into it, and practically forgot what happened in the book. I did not take it seriously, since it did not seem like it was trying to make a commentary (at least in my mind) compared to 1984, a book that I knew was attacking the ideology of Communism. I just heard on a whim that the two books were similar, so I read Brave New World on my own and all I retained from that before coming to this class was that “it’s a book about different sets of people based on how they were genetically manipulated”, coupled with a good plot. Now I know that it’s commentary, the major theme I took away from it, was that the idea of manufactured, unified happiness seems to be the goal of our society. Moreover, I’m seeing this “manufactured happiness” in our own world, in our mass consumption of media, entertainment, and “escapes” (with drugs, alcohol, and even the internet); much different view from what I had about the book a few years ago.

This idea of using Science-Fiction to parallel our own lives will greatly play a role in stories and plots I’m planning to write for myself later down the road. As an aspiring, amateur writer (among other “amateur” ventures I tie myself into), I will definitely consider utilizing larger scoped messages in the work I want to produce. I believe with this added depth, my own work could be both enjoyable through entertainment and through introspective thinking; I would like to have it akin to solving a mystery or having a “tip of the iceberg” effect, similar to what Hemingway also conveys in his writing. (As you saw with the “Work In Progress” comic I lent you, you can see that I aim at manipulating the reader, but if I can also do that with purpose I believe it would immensely add to my writing [just another tool to exploit I guess…].)

Seeing as how I’m not sure what the other half of the semester entails, I don’t know what I’m looking forward to. That being said, I do like what this course has provided with us so far. I’ve liked every reading we have done thus far, so whatever is planned out in the future I will probably also like, assuming it continues to follow this routine and track. (And if the format changes, I assume it serves a purpose, in which case I’ll greet it with an open-mind regardless.)

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