Thursday, April 27, 2017

Week 14

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy appears to be a cult classic in the science fiction literature world, so I decided to read it this week. I enjoyed it just as much as I hoped I would. It was somewhat silly but in a good way in just the right amount. Its use of concise, blunt, and satirical humor was perfect for me along with the creativity that went behind the devices of the setting Adams created. One perfect example of this was the Babel fish. It easily could have been a small machine inserted in the ear or installed in the brain. But instead, Adams decided his language translator device was going to be a living a organism. On top of this, the existence of the fish sparked discussion about god. The existence of such a convenient creature could not have come by chance, which proved that god was real. But by merely proving god’s existence, they had just disproved god’s existence since proof denies faith and god is nothing without faith. Then a man argues that he had proved himself with the Babel fish’s existence and by gods own logic, he doesn’t exist. When proposed with this, all god does is “I hadn’t thought of that” and disappears in a poof, which was just hilarious to me. What I loved most about the book was that it didn’t take itself too seriously, so it was enjoyable but it still touched on heavy topics and had the creativity and novelty that science fiction needs.

Week 3

The Audition

The Japanese horror film Audition was an interesting watch. It is definitely a horror film, but not the kind filled with jump scares and scary looking monsters. Instead it is the kind with a psychological twist and disturbing imagery (both visually and mentally). The movie is about a widowed man looking for a new love life by running a phony audition for a supporting female role. The premise itself seems normal enough, but it takes a twist when the woman the widowed man chooses has a fishy background. The premise may seem misogynistic due to the premise of holding a fake audition to look for submissive traits of a woman but the twist of the movie leads me to believe its more feminist if anything. The main character may have come up with a sleazy method of meeting women, but after realizing the woman’s abusive past, everything that happened afterwards was the delusion of his guilty conscience. For me personally, the biggest shock was the fact he molested his own son’s girlfriend, even more than getting his foot cut off. The fake audition and the list of traits he was looking for in a woman was misogynistic in the sense that the objectification of women in the beginning of the film is so blatant, but the woman’s torture and mutilation was her form of revenge and fighting back. This along with the man’s guilty conscience gives the film a more feministic light.

Week 4

For this week, I decided to read Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. After a while, I started to skim through the acts of murder just so I could read through the plot of the book. Aside from some of the several detailed violent passages, I enjoyed the book for its refreshing point of view from the murderer’s perspective and its use of black humor to offset the disturbing action. Patrick Bateman tries several times to discuss his acts of violence with his companions, but all attempts led to him being laughed at or dismissed. Aside from the fact his attempts to tell his friends what he’s been up to have all failed, the fact he even bothers to bring it up for no reason on multiple occasion adds on to this humorous side of the novel. Along with this book in the list of the New Weird installments, the Cabin in the Woods also used humor to add a “weird” twist to the horror with its list of monsters and bets the scientists have. There is a trend of dark humor that I have noticed more and more that I predict will continue in the future of the New Weird. The reason being that laughing is a great way to forget about stress and an opportunity for relief. So when a novel or movie is so disturbingly gross or weird, using humor for a breather and relief is a great way to balance out the weirdness without forsaking it.

Week 5

Black Maria is about an old aunt who appears to be able to guilt trip people into doing things for her. She hosts tea parties that only women are invited to, and children are kept are an orphanage. After some investigating, the main character and her brother begin to suspect that magic may be involved, but not early enough to avoid the brother being turned into a wolf. Its hard enough dealing with elderly relatives when they are normal and sweet, but imagine what it must be like if the relative was a cold-hearted witch who was capable of turning their own grandchild into a wolf. What makes the with truly frightening is the fact that she can manipulate people, with or without the use of magic, and is under the thought that she is a wonderful person, despite her horrifying use of magic.

Week 6

I had seen the Hobbit many times on the screen before with the animated movies, and the new live action movies that recently released. But I never really sat down and just read through the book so this class gave me a great opportunity to do just that. The book was very easy to become absorbed into, thanks to its believable environment and vast cast of characters. Everything, from the descriptive writing, the thought put into the elven language and other languages in the book, the lore/history of the world Tolkien had created for us, made the book so easy to become invested in and believable. I really felt like I was “escaping “ when I was reading it, just like the first time I read Harry Potter books, or Narnia, or the Eragon books. The reason the Hobbit makes a great fantasy story is due the mythical element that Tolkien created so well for us, along with Bilbo’s development in the hero’s journey of the book. Although the book may seem to have unnecessary parts that drag on, the small “unnecessary” details are, to me, what make the story feel epic and worth reading. It wouldn’t really be such an epic journey for the main character and the reads if everything that happened was just a plot point or something of major importance. Reading through the small parts gave the big parts that much more value, which in turn made it more epic for me. Like when I read through a small boring passage before getting to the part where Bilbo finds the ring or answers the riddle, or meets Smaug, it just made it so much more heroic and intense for me.

Week 7

At one point, every kid dreamed of having magical abilities and being able to cast magic spells. The only way to see this dream though, however, was with our imaginations or books/movies. This week, since I already read all seven Harry Potter books, I decided to read Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. The book did give me a very Harry Potter vibe, which I’m not completely sure if its simply because of the shared genre or if it’s the similar components both stories share, like a school for magically gifted people and an unknown magical entity as the antagonist. Setting stories like these in schools with a magical element to them is a great way of helping young adult readers connect while also allowing them to escape into a fantasy world. By setting the stories in a school, the day to day obstacles the characters face and must overcome are similar to those that readers who are students face.